With the Habs in a seemingly never ending up and down season, fans are starting to get restless. After having four of the past five years placing easily at the top of the division the Canadiens find themselves struggling not only to make the playoffs but to stay at a .500 winning percentage. This yo-yo type season has caused the fan base to not only become uneasy but to start looking for answers and placing blame.
Since the P.K. Subban trade, Marc Bergevin has been taking most of the heat. With the way the defense has played this year its only getting hotter. However, there is considerable blame to go around with the finger pointing now extending to other parts of the organization. On social media, Geoff Molson has been receiving the wrath of fans.
With respect to players Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk have been receiving more than their fair share of attention.
For the past six seasons, Max Pacioretty has been a consistent 30 plus goal scorer and 60 plus point producer for the Habs. He has broken the all-time overtime goal record for the Canadiens when he scored his ninth career OT goal earlier this season. He has been a mainstay on the team’s top power-play unit and was voted the by the players as team captain in 2015-16.
For years, Pacioretty has been called a streaky player by experiencing droughts and then scoring in bunches. In the last five years, the Habs have been winning whether Patches scored or not. It is a credit to his talent that Pacioretty has maintained this pace while never having a true number one centre.
Through the years he has played with David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller, Jonathan Drouin, and Phillip Danault. It is the reality the Canadiens have lived with since the departure of Saku Koivu. Yet Pacioretty has still managed to score 218 goals in 603 games, with 30 plus goals in five straight non-lockout seasons.
However, as mentioned, he can be very streaky. This season the Habs are not winning and all eyes are on Pacioretty because he is not scoring either. His defensive side of the game has been good which is what Claude Julien wants. This is leading to some confusion with the fans on the treatment of Pacioretty. Some feel he’s not doing his job, therefore, should be dropped to a lower line but in Julien’s mind, he is doing exactly what the system dictates. Some might find it hard to imagine that Pacioretty has been playing very well over the past 10-15 games.
Yet, given their place in the standings, I believe that Pacioretty could be the chip that Marc Bergevin uses to build for the future. In my opinion, trading Pacioretty could return both a top-six center and top-four left-handed defensemen so badly needed by the organization. If a trade needs to be made for the Habs to make the playoffs then Pacioretty is the team’s best bet to get what they need in return.
As a 30-goal scorer in 2015-16, Galchenyuk is probably the most talented forward on the Canadiens roster. He is a great stick handler and shows a lot of good hockey sense in the offensive zone. The problem is Galchenyuk does not show the same level of play in the defensive zone. This has been a major issue with coach Julien.
These lapses in defensive play have, at times, led to a reduction in ice time for Galchenyuk. These moves by Julien have some fans infuriated because everyone can realizes that Chucky has the talent to provide the goals missing by the Canadiens.
The future of Alex Galchenyuk is a hard one to predict. Despite the lack of regular linemates, Alex has been a top point producer on the team and shares the Canadiens top spot for points with Max Pacioretty. That’s not bad for a guy who was relegated to the fourth line to start the season. All he needs is linemates that will bury the puck when he feeds it to him or create open ice for him and you will see another 30 goals from this guy.
With respect to his defense, Galchenyuk has a goals against per 60 of 3.1 which is better than Andrew Shaw, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin and Max Pacioretty.
In my opinion, trading Galchenyuk would be a huge mistake. He is young and has considerable raw talent. The age-old debate on where he should play to me is irrelevant. This team has the players to surround him to make him that offensive force he needs to be, but for some reason, the coach is reluctant to make a full offensive line.
Let me know what you think you can reach me on Twitter @trege33 or @habsunfiltered and don’t forget to listen to @potsy_70 and I every other week on our podcast Habs Unfiltered on Allhabs.net