Heard On Episode 4.22 of A Foot In The Crease
Heading into the season, many prognosticators were suggesting that the Montreal Canadiens—who are commemorating their hundredth year of existence this season—would be the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
After getting off to a good start—now two-thirds of the way through the season—it appears that something is amiss in Montreal.
Earlier this week, head coach Guy Carbonneau debuted four new line combinations in an effort to spark his club. Instead, he saw his team lose 7-2 against the Edmonton Oilers—arguably their worst effort of the season.
Alex Tanguay has missed a month and is not scheduled to return until late February. Saku Koivu has lost a step this season, and Alexei Kovalev appears to be in the midst of one of his disinterested campaigns. Worst of all, Carey Price is going through a full-blown sophomore slump with his confidence as fragile as Robert Lang’s Achilles tendon upon his return.
It’s become clear that the Boston Bruins are the class of the Eastern Conference, and likely will not be caught by any team before the end of the season. Montreal, however, must now worry about merely securing a playoff spot as they just five points up on the ninth place Carolina Hurricanes.
With several gaping holes that have revealed themselves in the Montreal lineup over the past few weeks, expect GM Bob Gainey to be an active player at the NHL trade deadline.
The rumors continue that Vincent Lecavalier will end up in a Habs’ sweater by the end of the season. You can be sure that if their play does not improve soon, those rumors will reach a fever pitch until after the NHL’s trade deadline on Mar. 4, 2009.
It would be inconceivable—frankly catastrophic—if the Canadiens missed the playoffs after being viewed as a serious Stanley Cup contender prior to the season. With all the injuries they are dealing with—not to mention inconsistency in goal—missing the playoffs is certainly not out of the question.