When the Montreal Canadiens opened the season at 13-1-1, coach Michel Therrien couldn’t have been farther away from the firing line – even if that start was mostly a product of a healthy Carey Price, Shea Weber’s brief P.K. Subban impression and players like Alex Radulov contributing more than expected.
Since then, the Canadiens are 17-16-7.
That’s not disastrous, although a 4-0 loss at Colorado might make it feel that way. The Habs have banked enough points (68) to sit comfortably ahead of the Ottawa Senators (60), and still have a sterling plus-20 goal differential. But confidence that they can be a force in the Eastern Conference on par with the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins has eroded.
So how to turn this season around again? Well, GM Marc Bergevin apparently wanted to hear it from his players. According to Danny Dube of TVA Sports (via Nicolas Poulin), Bergevin met with Max Pacioretty, Carey Price and Shea Weber on Wednesday without Therrien present. He later met with Therrien, without the players.
Keep in mind this isn’t necessarily extraordinary. But in a 3-5-2 funk and heading into a winnable game against the Arizona Coyotes, the timing is worth noting.
But we’re sure Habs fans, with visions of the return of Claude Julien dancing in their heads, have also noted the timing…
Look, we’re not exactly Therrien cheerleaders in these parts. He makes some truly odd decisions – at this point, we might need to call in Seal Team 6 to rescue Alex Galchenyuk from his misuse. The sole reasons he’s still in a job are Carey Price’s injury last season giving him a reprieve and the fact that he’s “in the foxhole” with his general manager.
But again, you take this recent struggle within context: The Habs are 24-9-6 with Brendan Gallaher in the lineup, and 5-8-2 without him. Last season, they were 27-21-5 with him, 11-17-1 without him. He’s been out since January 7. There are few players in the NHL who have more under-the-radar influence on their team than when Gallagher’s in or out of the lineup. So that’s good news that he’s on the mend.
The bad news: The fans are getting restless, borderline panicked, after the early season tease of dominance. Is this finally when GM Marc Bergevin owns his blind loyalty and unhitches his wagon to Therrien; and if so, who comes in to be his Dan Bylsma circa 2009?
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