Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Danault – Radulov
Lehkonen – Plekanec – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – Flynn – Byron
King – Ott – McCarron
Markov – Weber
Emelin – Petry
Davidson – Benn
Torrey Mitchell, Nathan Beaulieu, Andreas Martinsen, Andrew Shaw, Nikita Nesterov
The season is over, much too early. And there will be time to look back, and ahead. But for now, let’s focus on this series.
For many so-called Habs fans, Max Pacioretty has become public enemy number one. ‘No heart,’ they say. ‘Too soft!’
So in the first five minutes of game 6, when the captain showed his heart and grit by taking down the Rangers Jimmy Vesey, the narrative is hastily changed: “Seven minutes in the penalty box, in an elimination game. Stupid.”
Yes, moving the goal posts always works when caught in an unsupportable fairytale.
Here is the truth.
Max Pacioretty is the Canadiens top goal scorer and he had to be better in the series for the Habs to advance. But Pacioretty is one of very few threats for Montreal, and as such, it was easy for the Rangers to shut him down.
In addition, Pacioretty was not playing with a legitimate top-6 player in Phillip Danault. A third-line center, at best, Danault could not compete with the Blueshirts. It should not be a surprise that Pacioretty, a sniper, was not getting the puck in grade A scoring positions throughout the series.
Further, the most vicious criticism of Pacioretty came from Subban lemmings who are mindlessly looking to destroy Max for his alleged part in P.K.’s exit from Montreal. Rather than part ways with a captain, who by all reports, has the respect and support of his teammates, we should encourage you to move along.
Another silly narrative throughout this series was that ‘Carey Price had not stolen a game.’ Those pedaling this bit of nonsense were seemingly oblivious to Price posting solid numbers: 1.86 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. They also didn’t understand that for Price to have stolen a game, the Canadiens would have had to win the game by scoring.
In the four losses (two a the Bell Centre) the Canadiens scored four goals. Total. To win those games would have required a shutout.
It should be pretty clear that there’s a scoring problem not a goaltending problem.
In the end the Canadiens could not generate offense. A lack of scoring (specifically a first line centre) was identified as a problem when Marc Bergevin arrived five years ago.
The Habs GM has shuffled in (and out) a boat load of fourth line forwards and spare part defenseman. He has even engineered a trade for one of the best defencemen in hockey. But, after five years, he has failed to bring in (or develop) the one player who could have made a major difference to this series.
And for that reason, more than any other, the Montreal Canadiens are going home before the end of April.
▲ Carey Price, Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, Artturi Lehkonen, Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec, Jeff Petry, Alexei Emelin
▼ Jordie Benn, Alex Galchenyuk, Phillip Danault, Paul Byron