Forward lines and defense pairings
Byron – Drouin – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – De La Rose – Lehkonen
Scherbak – L. Shaw – Carr
Deslauriers – Froese – Hudon
Reilly – Petry
Alzner – Juulsen
Benn – Lernout
Ales Hemsky – concussion, Shea Weber – lower-body, Victor Mete – hand, Max Pacioretty – lower-body, David Schlemko – undisclosed, Rinat Valiev – lower-body, Phillip Danault – upper body, Andrew Shaw – upper-body
The Montreal Canadiens are a shell of their former selves, as the saying goes, with those former selves being the Atlantic division champs of 2016-17.
There is not much debate about what happened for the team to plummet to their current landing spot of 26th place in the league: Marc Bergevin had a disastrous summer failing to re-sign some lynchpins of the organization while acquiring duds in their places.
But the killing blow was trading away an elite prospect for a third line left-winger, a commodity that was already over-represented in the Canadiens roster.
That is the stark truth.
But as we move closer to the end of the season, we have witnessed Canadiens management practicing their spin. Spin is required because they certainly can’t admit that Bergevin blew it and is deserving of a pink slip. So, we have heard the injury narrative trotted out as if they are the reason for the slide.
The simple fact is that the Canadiens were a poorly-constructed team well before the injuries had an impact.
While Habs brass is telling one tale, the Montreal media is busy creating scapegoats to protect their great local hope who is having a terrible season. ‘Look over here’ is their strategy hoping that everyone will forget about the disaster who wears No. 92.
Instead, attack the Canadiens captain, their third overall draft pick or the franchise goaltender. It has left the fanbase in a civil war and outsiders wondering “what would anyone want to play there?”
The once self-declared ‘smartest fans in the NHL’ are clinging to a rather tarnished trophy. And Montreal is no longer the highly desirable destination for players who have a choice.
These are dark days, and the scary part is that they could get darker.
We have all read the popular solutions: draft Rasmus Dahlin, sign John Tavares, and acquire Nick Bjugstad (or facsimile.) Interestingly, the odds of all of that happening are almost identical to Ales Hemsky being an effective first line winger (and a replacement for Alexander Radulov) this season.
So if all of those saviors don’t arrive, what are Canadiens fans in store for in 2018-19?
▲ Jacob De La Rose, Alex Galchenyuk, Charles Hudon, Nikita Scherbak
▼ Jordie Benn