Monday, January 16, 2012

Bourque is a nice pickup

Remember how happy you were when we signed Erik Cole earlier this year? Well, trading for Rene Bourque 6 months later is not a whole lot different.  Let me explain.

Rene Bourque and Erik Cole are essentially the same type of player.  One is faster (Cole), and the other is more physical (Bourque), but in the end they amount to the same type of player and production.  They both like to drive the net with speed, and muck it up in front of the net.

They are exactly what this team needs, and it shows that Pierre Gauthier is finally getting it.

So why do most pundits say Calgary won this trade?

Well, quite simply, it's the year of picking on the Habs organization, so get used to hearing how much of a failure they are.  Every year, Canadian sports journalists (save those in Quebec) pick the Habs to miss the playoffs (or just sneak in), and this year they finally got their wish.  It's a banner year for talking heads covering hockey, in large part due to the Canadiens' horrible season.  Instead of eating their words, they've had chance after chance to gloat about how right they were about the team's failure, from the players right up to the ownership group (see Mike Milbury on CBC).

Last night's game was a good example of what happens when each line shows up to play.  You could look at the stats from the game and say that the Desharnais line did everything, but there's so much more to it than that.  One line cannot be effective if the other three are useless.  Of course that's obvious, but that's the story of the Canadiens season thus far.  Most games that I've watched have consisted of one, maybe two lines each game putting pressure on the opposing defense.  This, in my opinion, is the major reason why they lose more often than not.

You can point your finger at the defense all you want, and I guess that's the easy thing to do.  After all, they're young, small, and easily pushed around.  But the big reason to why they've looked bad this year is because they're overworked due to the offense's ineffectiveness.

Think of an ineffective offense in football as a good analogy.  If your offense is bad in football, it usually means that your defense is on the field way too much.  When your defense is always on the field, the consequences are obvious. You get tired. You get beat up.  You get ineffective.

The same happens in hockey, but in perhaps a less blatant way.  All those shifts where the forwards don't fore-check, don't pressure the defense, and basically spend no time in the other team's zone, basically mean that the defense is working overtime.  This has been the Habs' season in nutshell.

Last night was an example of the opposite.  Why don't we see it more often?  Who knows.  I will say this though:  What Randy Cunneyworth did in last night's game, where he benched Lars Eller for a whole period, showed to me that the coach means business.  He's setting the precedent for the consequences of not working every shift.  Eventually this should sink in with all the players, and there will probably be a greater chance of seeing games like we saw last night.

One can only hope.  The good news is that they we ridded ourselves of a player who clearly had no intention of getting the message.

Will Bourque be as hard-headed? Maybe.  But at least he costs 2,700,000$ less.


  1. Another good blog. Totally agree about Cunneyworth actually using game time to motivate the players and their performances. Potentially lots of baby steps are being taken this season that may pay off in the long-term, perhaps tough for fans to see that at the moment.

    What do you think it would take for Gauthier to go? Do you think he needs to go or are you beginning to think he 'gets it'?

    Without meaning to sound defeatist I think Cunneyworth should worry less about the playoffs now and see his goal for the rest of the season as being to bring consistency to the Habs. If he can do that the results will follow and they'll be in a much better position in the off-season to make the right changes for the future.

    1. It's hard to say about Gauthier. His track record thus far has been a bit all over the place with the club. Most people want to get rid of him solely on the fact that he doesn't attempt to shop his players nearly enough, as was evidenced with the Halak deal and now the Cammalleri trade. Could he have gotten more in both these trades? Maybe. But I think that just because a few teams didn't know these players were on the trade block, doesn't necessarily mean he didn't shop them to other teams. Maybe the GM's that didn't know about it were ones that Gauthier absolutely didn't want to trade with? Who knows really. But what I do know is that he got good value for Halak with Eller and Schultz as a throw-in, and even better value in the Cammalleri deal. I'm pretty sure you'll always hear that certain GM's didn't hear about a player's availability. It just seems to get amplified in Montreal.

      His trade for Kaberle was a bad reactionary trade, and is the main reason why i can't be totally sure that Gauthier "gets it". Kaberle is at a stage in his career where he's not really good at any one thing, which is troublesome on a defense that desperately needs stability.

      I think Gauthier has to make smart moves the rest of the way this season, focusing his work on making the team better next year (and subsequent years), instead of trying to salvage this season.

      That said, his trade for Bourque was really quite the coup, because, as he said in the press conference, it really does help the team now and in the future. If it wasn't for that Kaberle trade, which barely help the team now and hurts them in the future, I'd be saying Gauthier is doing a good job. Unfortunately, he's now put himself in a precarious situation, and i'm not confident he'll be back next season.