Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Some Perspective on the Habs' Win in Ottawa

I've been trying to put last night's Habs win into perspective. Any way you look at it, this team is still in a lot of trouble despite a landslide victory over a team ahead of them, albeit slightly, in the standings. I've seen enough putrid, disgusting hockey from these Montreal Canadiens over the better part of the last two months to suggest to me that they're closer to needing to blow the entire thing up than they are being a few small pieces from turning into a conference powerhouse.

I'm not a complete cynic though when it comes to this team. Last night was pretty much the way the Habs SHOULD be winning games. Strong goaltending, their best players being their best players and they kept their foot on the gas the entire way through.

Most encouraging was that after five straight losses and the team being attacked any which way you can imagine, they overcame what should have been a devastating goal by the Senators less than two minutes in. Sure Craig Anderson did them a favour by putting up a save percentage Andre Racicot would laugh at but screw it, the Habs have been on the receiving end of enough brick wall goaltending performances from opponents that they deserved to be the beneficiaries for a change.

Above all, the win was fantastic in just about every way for Randy Cunneyworth, who must've felt the weight of Patrick Roy's ego being lifted off his shoulders. If this city's English-hating rats feasting on his lack of linguistic skills wasn't enough, his team hadn't given him a solid effort since the moment he was promoted. He hasn't been given the fair chance every new head coach deserves upon receiving the title. Cunneyworth pulled a shrewd move by benching Lars Eller and PK Subban in Winnipeg, a move that I saw as Cunneyworth going "all-in" with his players. How would those two respond? How would the team respond? Would they ever respond to a coach who's obviously an interim coach in every sense of the title? Luckily for the fragile state of every hockey fan in this city, they did.

I'm not sure what will become of the Habs from now until April. I'm not optimistic about a playoff run considering the hole they've dug themselves and my hope would be that rather than try and squeak into the playoffs and get bounced out early by a real contender, they'll look ahead to the future for a change. Guys like Hal Gill and Travis Moen are valued assets for a team looking to get deeper for a Cup run and the Habs should benefit from the seeds those assets would yield and see what they can grow into for their future. It's time the organization did things right for a change.

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