So the Habs have now been officially eliminated from the 2008 playoffs.
And I’m okay with it. I like what I saw this year. They were predicted by most to finish 13th in the conference, and they finished first. Their powerplay was expected to drop because of the loss of Sheldon Souray, and they still finished first.
Their young guys performed great. The Kostitsyn brothers, Plekanec and Gorges all performed well.
I think Carey Price performed great this year. He is cool, calm and moves the puck well. He is a rookie, and maybe he didn’t perform as good as he could have in the playoffs, but he’s still only 20 years old. A lot of people and the media were speculating if he could be the next Patrick Roy or Ken Dryden, and lead his team to the Stanley Cup. That is a lot of pressure to put on a young player. Dryden and Roy are two of the all-time greats and hall of famers. To have Price match their feat would have been awesome, but unrealistic.
A lot of Habs fans are down on Guillaume Latendresse as well. He’s also young (20 years old), and needs time to develop. To expect him to score 40 goals a season at such a young age is asinine. If he’s allowed to grow steadily, I’m sure he’ll be great. He reminds me of John Leclair. Both were second round draft picks by Montreal. Latendresse has scored 16 goals in each of his first two seasons. In Leclair’s first three seasons with Montreal, he scored 8 goals, 19 and 19. After he was traded to Philly, he scored 50 goals three seasons in a row, and then 40 goals the two seasons after. Let’s not give up on Latendresse so easily. He may not score 50 goals in a season, but give him time to blossom, and let’s see what he can do.
There are still areas where they need to improve. They need to have more traffic in front of the net, and a grinder who can score goals instead of the grinders that chip with a goal every now and then.
I also wouldn’t mind if Kovalev be traded. The value for him will never be higher than what it is now. It could be possible to bring in another leader, someone who can grind, before Kovalev is a free agent next summer. If they don’t, that’s cool as well. But if you’re going to trade him, the time is now, before he has another season where he doesn’t perform.
It was a hard playoff loss. Sometimes, you just need to learn it the hard way. The Penguins were soundly beaten by Ottawa in the playoffs last year, but have dominated their opponents this year. They learned their lessons. That’s what Montreal needs to do as well. Learn from this. Come back and play harder next year.
I like what I’ve seen from this team. I like where they’re headed. And I fully expect them to be a better team in the playoffs next year.
For now though, the playoff beard will be coming off.