Montreal Canadiens: Can Marc Bergevin hold injuries as the culprit?

Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Marc Bergevin spoke to the Montreal Canadiens media and stated injuries as one of the key things that have been holding the team back. Fair or unfair?

Ilya Kovalchuk was the story of Friday as it seemed Marc Bergevin had his phone on and on max volume. It started with a depth transition acquiring Andrew Sturtz for Mike Reilly leading into Marco Scandella from the Buffalo Sabres for a fourth-round pick. Friday was the peak of crazy in the city of Montreal as the team announced the signing of Kovalchuk for the remainder of the season.

Acquiring Kovalchuk after all he’s been through in the last year and a half is intriguing on multiple fronts. The veteran still wanted an opportunity to play in the NHL as his performance with the Los Angeles Kings was forgettable. That said, Kovalchuk was able to put up numbers with the Kings last year, including 16 goals, which is likely the thought process behind the deal.

Low-risk, high-reward.

That being said, Kovalchuk wasn’t the only thing that has had Habs fans talking. Bergevin made a particular comment which triggered more fury within the ones who are already very frustrated with how the year has played out. When asked about the state of the team and how they’ve gotten to this point, Bergevin said:

"I believe if we were healthy, we would be in a playoff spot right now."

Sounds familiar to some of Bergevin’s responses during the 2017-18 season as well, doesn’t it? And let’s not forget the comment on Carey Price that same year where if he were better, the team would’ve made the playoffs.

So let’s break this down. Bergevin is right in the sense of the Montreal Canadiens being slammed with the force of the injury bug. Jonathan Drouin, Joel Armia, Paul Byron and most recently Brendan Gallagher are all out of the lineup.

Drouin and Armia were well on their way to having career years, while Gallagher and Byron are critical pieces of the team’s overall character (not trying to make a joke). It also helps that Gallagher has been good for 30 goals in his last two seasons.

On the one hand, it makes sense to look at the injuries and hold that on the team’s performance. On the other, it doesn’t.

The Montreal Canadiens have lost offensive performers, but it’s been their play away from the puck that has cost them games. That little piece of playoff-less venom has followed them since the beginning of the season. Drouin and Armia were on the positive note of that, but it’s a team-wide issue and Price hasn’t been godly enough to make up for all of their mistakes.

Additionally, injuries happen all the time. It’s hard to sympathize with what Bergevin is saying while a team the Pittsburgh Penguins have been losing key pieces all season (Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Nick Bjugstad to name a few) but remain a top-ten team in the league.

Another thing that doesn’t work in Bergevin’s favour is the fact that the Montreal Canadiens were relatively healthy last season and still missed. Again, it was poor stretches and defensive play that cost them.

The team isn’t playing at their best, on multiple fronts. It’s a see-saw game of “What stands out” every night. If they’re scoring, they’re giving up a lot. If they shut things down, they can’t produce. That is what the issue is, and it’s continued this way.

Next. Where Will Kovalchuk Fit?. dark

Perhaps the alterations can help patch things up a bit, but holding the season on injuries warrants criticism.