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With or without Carey Price, the Canadiens still need to upgrade their depth

Can Carey Price alone take the Canadiens on a long playoff run? Maybe. But the issues that dogged the team in October still remain today.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Remember way back in October when I suggested on that in order for the Montreal Canadiens to become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders they needed to upgrade their skill and depth at the forward and defense positions?

And how I believed it would be a critical error for GM Marc Bergevin to rely so heavily on all-world goaltender Carey Price to carry his team to the Promised Land?

Well, even though the column was mostly complimentary about the Canadiens, a few Habs’ fans didn’t view it as such.

Hi Dan-O. Hi Bert1.

Remember when you wrote these:

Dan-O: Clearly "Brophy" hasn’t watched ONE SINGLE Habs game this season. He hasn't taken the time to briefly glance at their stats. (Shots for, shots against for one...) he gives no thought to Pacioretty, Plekanec, Gallagher, Galchenyuk, Markov, Subban, Petry, etc etc... He doesn't know Mike Condon exists. Finally, "Brophy" is so clueless to consider the reason this team is 6-0 on the season, is because they FINALLY learned how to play as a group. If Price were injured, the Habs would still be winning.

Bert1: Ridiculous article. If Brophy even bothered to watch any Hab games this season, he would actually realize that this team is MUCH improved over last year and that Carey Price -- albeit the best goaltender in the world -- has hardly carried the Habs at all so far this year.

Dan-O and Bert1 are entitled to their opinion. Me too. And I believe the Canadiens are a very good team WITH a healthy Carey Price. They might even go deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. BUT they need more than just the best goalie in the world to win the Cup.

I take no pleasure whatsoever in the Canadiens' current state of affairs. So before you head directly to the comments section to tell me what an idiot I am, let’s try this one more time: The Montreal Canadiens need to upgrade their skill and depth at forward and on defense if they hope to win the Cup.

The Canadiens roared out of the starting gate at 9-0-0 with Price leading the charge. They were 9-2-0 when Price was injured causing him to miss the next nine games during which Montreal was a respectable 5-2-2.

Price returned for three games, Nov. 20, 22 and 25 – all victories – but he left the third game after two periods and has not played since. Montreal was sitting atop the NHL standings on Nov. 25 when Price went down, but since then they have the worst record in the league: 7-18-2. They sit in 20th place and are in danger of missing the playoffs.

Need more proof that the Canadiens rely too heavily on their star goaltender?

The Canadiens have some very good established veterans; the likes of Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Alexei Emelin, Lars Eller and P.K. Subban. Alex Glachenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Nathan Beaulieu and Daniel Carr are fine young players with bright futures.

However, no matter what you think about Galchenyuk’s upside, he does not qualify as a bona fide No. 1 NHL center at this stage of his career. The fact is, the Canadiens do not possess a solid top-line center and to win the Cup they need one.

Montreal’s defense – even with 2013 Norris Trophy winner Subban – is decent, but not great. Andrei Markov has slowed down to the point where his only real positive effect on the team is when the Canadiens are on the power play and even then his contribution is minimal.

For what it is worth, backup goalie Mike Condon has been okay. It is certainly not his fault the Canadiens have gone into the tank. The 25-year-old rookie was 13-13-4 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .904 save percentage.

In Montreal when the Canadiens are struggling, the fit hits the shan. It can get downright nasty. Suddenly coach Michel Therrien, who was a solid Jack Adams Award candidate in October, doesn’t know a hockey puck from a stale bagel.

Some fans have been calling for Therrien’s scalp, but thankfully Bergevin has resisted the temptation to fire his coach. Not only would firing Therrien be decidedly unfair, it would suggest the GM does not have what it takes to navigate his franchise through rough waters.

Who knows what will happen with the Canadiens following the all-star break? Maybe Price will come back and lead the Canadiens into the postseason. Maybe I am wrong and all the Canadiens need to win the Cup is a red-hot Price. Heck, Patrick Roy did it pretty much on his own in 1993.

Somehow, though, I doubt it. I stand by my original thoughts: To win the Stanley Cup the Montreal Canadiens need more skill and depth at forward and on defense.


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