Thrift is a Great Revenue
1. Jaroslav Spacek will be out 4-6 weeks and that couldn’t be greater news for the Canadiens and Jacques Martin, especially once the post season arrives.
2. Pierre Gauthier has always been quoted as saying he is “not a deadline guy,” and after watching how yesterday played out it’s plain to see why. The asking price for the assets that ultimately would have pushed the Habs over the edge – in the opinion of some – were simply not within Gauthier’s reach.
- A perfect example of what Gauthier could not compete with was the offer that was accepted by the Oilers for Dustin Penner. A top tier defensive prospect, a 1st rounder and 3rd rounder was something the Canadiens organization could not part with right now as it would have depleted a pipeline that is slowly restocking itself.
- Otherwise, the price for rentals still fell outside of Gauthier’s reach as he had no 2nd rounders left and, as mentioned above, simply could not afford to risk losing a quality prospect
3. Clearly though, the real answer as to why the Habs were quiet at the deadline(outside of those high asking prices) was the fact they had to deal with major injuries to 3 of their top defensemen. Losing and having to replace Markov and Gorges mid-season was no easy task, and also compromised Montreal’s ability to add at the deadline. Further to those injuries, the one that really handcuffed the Canadiens was Spacek’s recent knee injury. Because of the uncertainty surrounding Jaroslav, Gauthier moved quickly to shore up the blue line in case he were to lose another mainstay. Ultimately, the loss of the 3 defenders coupled with the lean assets was why the Habs GM chose to stand pat.
4. Following tonight’s 3-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers, is there any question that Carey Price is “the franchise” in Montreal? Another 40 save, 1 goal performance and there is no quit in his game. Most teams find success by providing their most talented player with the most support possible and when it comes to the Habs Price is that guy, so it only makes sense that they continue to keep the blue line freshly stocked.
5. With the weight of the deadline now lifted from Scott Gomez’ shoulders he will have to remain vigilant. The spotlight will now burn even brighter upon number eleven’s back as the playoffs near and his teammates look for him to help guide the way. If he can rekindle his play through the final month into the post-season, chances are all will be forgiven. Yet if his play continues to flat-line, the Habs top paid player – the same one who claimed former fan favorite Saku Koivu’s #11 at the start of the year – may find himself on the dark side of the most passionate fan base in hockey.
6. On a related note, now that Andrei Kostitsyn is guaranteed to finish out the year as a Hab it will be very interesting to see how much his play improves. AK, I’m sure, half-heartedly expected to be dealt, yet now that that time has passed he has to realize that not only is playing for a new contract but also a new possible home. Whether Montreal decides to keep him or not, he will still have to impress upon the rest of the league that he’s worth a decent price and can help a team. He’s entering his prime but has never reached his true potential so if he is unable to streak through the remainder of the calendar, unlike Scott Gomez, there is no guarantee of a healthy paycheque in 2011-12.
7. With only 7 games left at the Bell Center the Canadiens are going to hardpressed to give any of those points away.
8. On the flip side, if there is anything that will help determine how well these Canadiens will do beyond game no.82, it will be their ability to improve the road record. With their win tonight, the Habs improved to 14-15-1 away from the cozy confines of home, but that’s not all that inspiring of a record and given the gap between Montreal and teams in a position to land home ice advantage, there’s no doubt they’re going to have to become much better competitors on the road.
9. The only other real area of concern for the final month of play has to be in steadying the play of the penalty kill. After being one of the more dominant clubs while defending the man advantage through the most part of the year, the Habs tightly woven PK units have begun to fray. They will need to refocus their efforts into this area as it was a major reason for their early season success as well why Carey Price has been able to build up his confidence. With a strong D and special teams in front of him, this goalie will be one possessed puckstopper come the NHL’s 2nd season.
10. Crazy thought: If, by random miracle, Markov, Gorges and Spacek were all healthy for the playoffs, what would you do?! That would be 11 NHL caliber defensemen at the Canadiens disposal(including Hamrlik, Gill, Subban, Wisniewski, Sopel, Weber, Mara and Picard)…you’d have to think some guys on the 4th line would wind up watching from the press box(imagine getting to use Markov as a forward – just as he was when he entered the league?) It won’t happen as Spacek is the only one who is likely to return in April, but if all 3 were to come back what would Jacques Martin do? Again, it won’t happen but it would be funny to think of what the lineup would look like.