The Montreal Canadiens are limping into their five-day bye week following a 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins Sunday.
While the 31-19-8 Canadiens are still in first place in the Atlantic Division, their lead has dwindled after having lost six of their past seven games.
Clearly, their play has not been good enough.
“Everyone has to improve their game,” said Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty, via Pat Hickey of The Montreal Gazette. “Tonight, we had a couple of breakdowns and the game got out of hand. Everybody talks about the schedule and fatigue but every (team) is dealing with the same thing. Everyone has to man-up and worry about their own game.
“We’re getting paid a lot of money and everyone has to try to make a difference,” added Pacioretty. “We can’t be content eating up minutes and dumping the puck in.”
NHL Insider Bob McKenzie made a Monday morning radio appearance on Montreal’s TSN 690, and didn’t agree with a notion presented to him that perhaps this was solely a case of the team needing some time off.
“I don’t think you can just say, ‘We’ll be okay. We’ll take a five-day break and when we come back everybody will be fresh and it’ll be different,’” noted McKenzie. “They’ve been playing too poorly for too long to assume that getting a five-day rest is going to make anything better, I would think. Unless I’m really missing the mark here.
“So no, I think it’s probably time for Marc Bergevin to do something. And everybody has got different opinions.
What should Marc Bergevin do?
— Tony Marinaro (@TonyMarinaro) February 13, 2017
“I saw Tony Marinaro has got his own poll on Twitter there of what should be done. It looked like ‘Fire Therrien’ was at the top of the list for most fans, which is not unusual when you get an owly fan base. The easy one to do is fire the coach because first off, right now firing the coach in the National Hockey League is a very fashionable thing to do because Boston did it and they’ve won three in a row. St. Louis did it and they’ve been on a roll. The Islanders did it and they got on a roll. Although the funny thing is Jack Capuano was like 6-3-2 in his 11 games before he got fired. So sometimes you can go a little whacky trying to figure out the numbers.
“But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t think this is a situation where the general manager is contemplating a coaching change. But he most certainly has to be contemplating a trade. And I think if anything – and this is just my opinion, this is not based on inside information or something that I’m predicting is about to happen – I’m saying that if I’m Marc Bergevin, my desire to make a trade and to perhaps give up future assets for something that makes a difference now would be pretty high this week.”
Part of the discussion on 690 included comparing last year’s standings swoon of the Canadiens with this year’s. It was noted that part of the reasoning around the blockbuster P.K. Subban-for-Shea Weber swap, as well as the ensuing changes, was that the Canadiens needed and would have a different identity and different leadership this season – yet the struggles of the team remain similar in some fashion.
“That’s part of the reason why when you make the trade for Subban for Weber and you give up the years that you’re giving up there, that signals a greater sense of immediacy,” pointed out McKenzie. “You don’t trade a player of P.K. Subban’s age for a player of Shea Weber’s age and say, ‘We’re still building slowly to something down the road.’ Nuh-uh. Doesn’t work that way.
“So again, that’s more reinforcement that I like say in for a dime, in for a dollar, or double down, or whatever you want to call it. That’s just one more signal to me that points to the Montreal Canadiens saying, ‘Sitting on our hands is not an option.’
“Now, acting stupid – and I understand the problem you run into if you’re Marc Bergevin. Especially when you’re a team like this where everybody wants to throw you an anchor instead of a life vest. The prices are high.
“And I don’t know what specifically Colorado would want for Matt Duchene, but it’s going to be a lot. By the time it’s all said and done, whatever player Montreal is eyeing or thinking about or whatever moves they’re contemplating – when you start looking at what they’ve got as sort of the reservoir of young players or prospects, what you’re really talking about is some combination of McCarron or Sergachev or Juulsen or Scherbak.
“And because we’re dealing with Colorado, the expectation is there’s going to be multiple pieces involved. And I’m not saying everyone of those guys would be gone, but you know what? If you’re making a trade for Matt Duchene, I’m betting Colorado is insisting on at least two of those, not to mention a first-round pick or what have you.
“Because Colorado’s price for a guy like Duchene, or Landeskog, has been three or four high-end pieces. And what they’re really after is a 20-something – and I say 20-something (meaning) lower 20s – somebody who is already established in the National Hockey League. Somebody who has played games and is NHL-ready right now.
“So we saw Joe Sakic’s in Boston last night talking to Don Sweeney very publicly in the second intermission. Guys were taking pictures and selfies of them while they’re actually talking in the press box. And there’s no question if the Colorado Avalanche are going to trade Gabriel Landeskog, for example, to the Boston Bruins, there’s no question that they’re going to absolutely insist on Brandon Carlo being part of the deal. Quite aside from the fact that he’s from Colorado Springs, but he’s what – a 20-year-old, going on 21-year-old, defenseman who’s proven that he’s an NHL defenseman right now.
“And the Avalanche don’t want to load up on a whole bunch of guys that have just been drafted at 18, although a guy like Sergachev may yet have appeal as part of a package. But what they’re really looking for is somebody who’s 20 or 21 or 22 or 23 that they can insert immediately into the lineup, along with a first-round pick and a couple of really good prospects.
“So that’s why the prices are high and at some point here Montreal’s got to decide are they going to sit and watch the season slip away, or are they going to make a move.”
For reference: Covering the Insiders