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Montreal Canadien Brandon Prust gets taken hard into the boards by Ottawa Senator Colin Greening.
It was the same old story for the Montreal Canadiens, losing to a bigger opponent in the playoffs despite being rife with skill and potential.
While the Habs acquired Brandon Prust, Colby Armstrong and Francis Bouillon last summer, grit does not necessarily equal size and none of the three weigh even 200 pounds. They might not be soft, but where was that toughness in the 4-1 series loss to Ottawa?
Prust, the toughest of the bunch, at least for the decisive Game 5 loss, was on the shelf.
He might have won the Jacques Beauchamp-Molson Trophy this year as the team’s top unsung hero, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that his 6’2”, 195-pound frame did little good and only got injured going up against a defense comprising four players above 220 pounds and five above 6’3”.
That’s not even including Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson, against whom the Habs were able to do very little despite him being just 175 pounds.
Right now Montreal’s top center, David Desharnais, who still isn’t an actual No. 1 center, is just 5’7” and 177 pounds and had just one assist in the five games against Ottawa.
Captain Brian Gionta, who’s supposed to lead by example, admittedly epitomizes the team perfectly, mostly because he ended his second straight season on the shelf with a biceps injury. Big heart, complemented by an ironic lack of muscle.
Of course, with players like Tinordi, Beaulieu, Galchenyuk and Eller all poised to fill out some and hopefully complement Alexei Emelin’s physicality, this need will be addressed from within, but that will take time.
In order to successfully bridge the gap until then and appease those fans who consider this season a lost one, in which the team missed out on a high draft pick by playing well for most of the year only to fizzle out down the stretch, the Habs, as previously argued, need to at the very least compete for the division next year.
The only way to do that is upgrade the team through trades or free agency. Whether that means reaching out to a 6’3”, 240-pound Jaromir Jagr, going after a 6’3”, 234-pound Mark Fistric or even reacquiring a 6’5”, 234-pound Ryan O’Byrne, is up to Bergevin. But he needs to get it done. History has repeated itself too often over the last two decades.