The Habs-Thrashers game last night was the epitome of the “New NHL”.
Go take a look at the NHL standings and you'll see that a simple 3-5 game winning streak can take a team from the cellar to being a playoff contender. Besides the odd club (in this case Carolina); there is not one team in the entire league that an objective fan can say “that's an awful team with no chance of making the playoffs.” Because of this parity; there are more close/1 goal games than ever before; and so I ask you – what often makes the difference in these close/1 goal games? The answer was on display last night in a game where Montreal won, but they were dominated in every category you can think of with the exception of goaltending and special teams. This observation is the foundation of this morning's blog – Morning 'Would'…
Would a healthy Andrei Markov make that much of a difference, had he played every game this year?
Absolutely – Andrei Markov is Montreal's most valuable player, and it has shown in the past 2 games. Think about this; Montreal has had 7 games this year where they lost by 1 goal and were scoreless on the powerplay. With Markov quarterbacking the PP, I think it's safe to assume that a few of those losses become at the very least an extra point in the standings for the Canadiens.
Would it make more sense for Gainey to try and sign Plekanec now or for him to wait until the offseason?
This one is even more obvious than the previous question – sign him now, and quickly. Putting his production aside, there are 2 main reasons I believe this should be Gainey's top priority. First of all; the UFA crop this summer is lacking in depth, especially at center. The top available center will be Marleau, and the next best are Plekanec and Jokinen. It's a simple supply and demand equation – there is always high demand for goodcenters and there aren't many available; therefore driving the price up. The second reason is that the Habs can't afford to keep losing players for nothing. This happened with Souray and Streit and Komisarek in consecutive years. If Plekanec is not in their plans or if Plekanec has no interest in signing in Montreal long term, then Gainey might as well trade him and get value in return.
Would it be better for the Canadiens to keep Halak for the remainder of the season?
I would agree with the people who say that Halak has been a positive for the Canadiens this year. It's tough to disagree with that. However, that's why I think it's the right time to trade him, and to do so as soon as possible. The definition of when to trade a player is when an asset is worth considerably more to another organization than that asset is to your own. Montreal has the luxury of having 2 good goalies that are young, cap-friendly and have yet to reach their full potential. Having 2 is not a bad thing, but there are other holes on this Canadiens team that need to be addressed; so use the solid play of Halak to your advantage and cash in on the asset to acquire a scorer or a solid defender. Rumors of Halak to Chicago have appeared all over the place, but I see Philly, Tampa, Columbus, Detroit, Edmonton, New York Rangers, LA and Dallas as more viable trade partners.
I hope you enjoyed your morning would.
Montreal visits Carolina tomorrow. Benoit Pouliot is expected to make his debut for the Habs, Hamrlik and Gionta are both considered “day to day” and close to returning, Mara is the latest victim of the injury bug and his status is questionable, Bergeron should be ok after being hit with a skate on the game winner in Atlanta and it is unknown whether or not the coach will ride the hot hand (Halak) or challenge Price to match what his backup has done the past 2 games.
Bold predictions: Cammy scores, Pouliot gets a point, Habs win.
GO HABS GO!
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.