Nothing says confidence builder more than trouncing the league leading team. Montreal did it against the Detroit Red Wings last night by outscoring the visitors 7-2 and that just has to be a true feel-good moment for the team that has struggled so severely through the majority of this season. Many have written-off the Canadiens, yet the Habs have shown signs of life against elite teams and that surely implies that there is more to this franchise than meets they eye.
In case you are chalking this victory up to a rare off-night for the Red Wings, I urge you to remember that when the Canadiens beat the Rangers 4-1 on January 15th, the visiting New York Team was dominating the league well into the season. I insisted then, as i do now that these strong performances are indeed the more accurate reflections of our team ‘s potential; which i grant you has not been manifest nearly enough this season. This team is better, and that by a far margin, than the record that it has delivered.
Many have been calling for the public lynching of GM Pierre Gauthier. I would like to remind that he is the one who brought Eric Cole into the fold. Cole ‘s performance has been nothing short of admirable and he has earned the respect, i would think, of every teammate and of every fan. He is on pace for 65 points, 32 of which would be goals. Not bad.
The GM is also responsible for the Cammalleri trade that brought in Rene Bourque. In five games with the Habs, Bourque has 2 goals and two assists…not bad. Further to that, in the six games since the fateful day that Number 13 was intercepted at the tunnel leading to the ice and redirected to a hotel to ‘await further instruction’, Montreal has won 3, lost 1 and lost 2 in a shootout. I have calculated that if the team had been playing at this pace all season thus far (8 points for every 6 games played), it would have accumulated 64 points by now and that would have been good enough for 4th place in the entire league!!! Shame on you, naysayers!!!
So, there truly is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dimension to this year’s team. Which one will dominate once the season resumes is impossible to predict with certainty. It would appear, though, that momentum is building perhaps as a result of the team ridding itself of an underperforming, selfish player (who i would nonetheless take on my team any day). Also, the All-Star Break featuring a game in which i have zero interest, will provide a very valuable opportunity for the players to clear their minds of whatever has been hindering their ability to win. There is a reasonable hope that they will come back re-energized and determined to tackle the challenges of the remaining 33 games with a zeal that has not been entirely obvious yet. Finally, there remains the hope that injured key players make their way back into the lineup and contribute to the turnaround. Ryan White, it is said, is close to returning and he will provide determination and grit, both largely lacking on the team at present. Dare we dream of Andrei Markov suiting up for a game in the next month?
In short, i believe that while it is difficult for some to imagine that the post-season will include the Habs, i have every reason to hold onto hope that Montreal will be making an appearance. Let us not forget that there are 33 games left. Assuming that the torrid pace that Nos Glorieux have achieved since Cammy was shipped back to Cowtown could hold until the final siren, the team will add 44 points to their pre-break total and finish off the season with 91 in the bank. Last season, the 8th seeded New York Rangers sneaked into the second season with 93. Anything is possible. Do not discount this team!! Go Habs Go!