As a writer or fan, you need to support your team. In supporting that team you need to have a rational mind set of what that team can accomplish. Throughout most of the season the belief was the Habs are going to be good but are still years away from true Stanley Cup contention. As of last night, that thought got put to rest. This team isn’t years away, this very well could be the year.
After a playoff beating by the Ottawa Senators Marc Bergevin knew that his team needed a character overhaul. It’s not easy to suddenly build character or add the right pieces. Little by little he began to do it. This shot across the bow was the singing of Danny Briere. The moves was seen as reactionary to not getting the prodigal son in Vincent Lacavalier. In reality, Briere was always the number one choice.
During the regular season, people were down on the small sized forward. He drew out of the line up on more than one occasion and didn’t light the stat sheet on fire. His regular season production wasn’t why he signed by Les Habitant, it was his playoff pedigree. Bergevin is a believer in that there are players that get you to the postseason and players that get you through the playoffs. Briere is that player.
Number 48 has added stability to the Canadiens fourth line. He makes them faster while letting Brandon Prust and Dale Weise do their share of banging and defending. Briere potted two points in Game Seven against the Bruins, a goal and an assist. The man who was out of the line up this series was a catalyst for offense. The player who peopled wanted to label a bad signing ended up being a Godsend.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are all too well aware of what a lack of depth can do to a team. Marc Bergevin didn’t want to go down the path the Penguins found themselves going down. He went out to acquire Mike Weaver and Dale Weise. The angry and quick to judge mob that are the Canadiens faithful criticized the moves.
Too many bellieved, Weaver was too small, too old, and just another depth guy who will never play. For a player who was never going to play, he has become a defensive pillar. Outside of Josh Gorges, the Habs don’t have a player who can kill penalties and block shots the way Weaver does. At this point through the playoffs, Weaver has 28 blocks, tied with Andrei Markov for the team lead.
Not only can Weaver kill penalties and save Carey Price from making a few saves, he is great at moving the puck out of the defensive zone, something the Canadiens struggle with at times. He was great at taking a hit to make the play, which in the playoffs is something you need out of all your players and he has excelled at it. If not for Weaver’s defensive efforts it’s hard to say where this team would be.
The Dale Weise move also had Canadiens fans confused. He was a relatively unknown player out of Vancouver. The knock on him was that he sees himself as a skill player when he is only a grinder. Maybe it’s the fact that Weise dreamed of being a Montreal Canadien as a young boy. Or maybe it’s the fact that he has been given a chance to embrace a role, no matter what it is Michel Therrien has gotten the skill and grind out of Weise.
He scored a clutch overtime goal in the Tampa Series, had two huge goals in the Bruins series, one that would spark the Canadiens game seven victory. He wasn’t scared to lay the body and stand up to the “Big Bad Bruins”. His play forced Milan Lucic to look like a sore loser in the handshake line. His play made a decent fourth line great.
Bergevin knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup. That is why Molson hired him to lead this team back to greatness, and this team is a step closer to returning to glory. His moves that seemed to come out have nowhere have turned into a clutch player, a shot blocking machine, and a fourth line stand out. How the playoffs progress relies on how the team performs on the ice, but on paper this team has the ability to bring Stanley back home.
Lifetime Habs fan, former Junior hockey player, aspiring journalist.