Montreal Canadiens — Take a Breath and Let the Kids Play

To a hockey fan, watching your team win the tough games and lose to struggling teams brings a mountain of exasperation. One can only imagine the frustration that brews in the dressing room. The Montreal Canadiens have had a week of ups and downs, earning their first shutout of the season against the Minnesota Wild and beating the defending Stanley Cup Champions, St. Louis Blues, before losing the rematch to the lowly Minnesota Wild on Sunday. 

Not only did they beat the St. Louis Blues last weekend, they did it two Saturdays in a row — first at the Bell Centre, doubling the Blues 6-3, then again at the Enterprise Centre, with a convincing 5-2 win. With the big shutout win on Thursday over the Minnesota Wild, Habs Nation was heard breathing a collective sigh of relief for Carey Price. Hoping this superstar who is notoriously known for slow starts, is ready to inspire the team with the goaltending required to get back in the playoffs.

Needless to say, Montreal’s loss to the same team they shut out three days prior is deflating. But hold up… before we all place blame and try to telepathically juggle lines like a good Cirque du Soleil show, let’s take a minute to see all the great things that are going on in Montreal this season.

Young Guns

The Canadiens are showcasing a bunch of energetic youngsters up front. With an average age of 26.0, it makes them the youngest group of forwards in the league. These kids have been going strong only nine games in, led by 19-year-old Jesperi Kotkaniemi. He has gained a few pounds over the summer, working on both strength and conditioning to earn him a permanent spot as the third-line centre.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Montreal Canadiens
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin, both 24 years old, have combined for 17 points in the first nine games, putting them tied-for-first and second, respectfully on the team scoring leaders. Brendan Gallagher is also tied for the scoring lead with nine points.

Along with 20-year-old Nick Suzuki, the future of the front line is shining bright in Montreal.

Veteran Superstars

There’s no doubt that Price and Shea Weber are the backbone of this 2019-20 Canadiens team, both in statistics and expectations. They are both earning top dollar for their services, which warrants the urgency to be accountable to your team, your fans and yourself.

Some may say these expectations are yet to be accomplished, and this may be true, but if we take a step back, we may get a better picture of the soul of this hockey club.

Price statistically gets better with every game as the season progresses. He needs to be solid, he needs to give the team a fighting chance to win each game, and he needs to steal a few for them along the way. Think Price doesn’t know this? He’s an NHL All-Star, Olympic Gold medalist, Vezina Trophy winner and Hart Memorial Trophy winner. He has only one monumental award missing from the list. Let’s watch this world-class athlete play for a chance to see his name inscribed on Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Montreal Canadiens Shea Weber
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

You also won’t see Weber’s name on the Stanley Cup, though his achievements are lengthy. This NHL All-Star, World Cup Gold medalist and Olympic Gold medalist has one big award left to play for. These franchise players will lead by example as the Montreal youth continue to develop.

The Future

So, let’s forget about offer sheets, lackluster performances of rental-player trades and chasing unrestricted free agents. The youth in Montreal, along with the development of the draft class of 2019 and the experience of the veterans, might bring more success than they have been credited for. Let’s not look for any flashy trades or big moves… let’s let these kids play and put on the show we’ve been waiting for!