Things have been bleak in Habs land since the Trade Deadline, and that’s being generous. Whatever big fish Bergevin may or may not have gone after did not work out, and the Gustafsson trade seemed like a fall back plan. One that to be honest I thought was a relatively smart move given the investment required. However, this seems to have been the first domino to fall in what has sent the team into a spiral.
Before getting started I just wanted to take a moment to say happy retirement to Andrew Shaw and congratulations on an incredible career. I loved him when he was with the Habs, and he is most definitely a player this team could use right now! Get healthy Shawzy.
Getting back on track, the Habs recent struggles have put the usual suspects in the cross hairs, and this time that includes Bergevin. His approval rating among fans has followed a similar path as the Habs success and failures this season. His biggest issue is that he has now burned all the goodwill he accumulated over the season in a few simple, and honestly, questionable moves at the trade deadline.
Using three of the teams allotted four call ups post Trade Deadline, on Deadline day was not a good start, however let’s take a step back. Everything that Bergevin has done this season has been a series of calculated risks and the Trade Deadline was no different. Taking Bergy moves at face value, he essentially set up a roster that would exploit Emergency Call Ups (ECU) on forward.
The Habs roster has the minimum amount of roster players at the forward and goaltending position while loading up on defense. Reading between the lines, this comes off as a move that would allow the team to use the ECU whenever necessary up front while taking a calculated risk that both goalies would remain healthy. In a vacuum, gambling on goalies staying healthy for the home stretch is a pretty safe bet. Continuing to dig deeper, Bergevin made the decision to take a risk on his goalies health with the thought that carrying the minimum amount of forwards with just enough cap space to open the door to Caufield (or Evans) joining the roster in case of an injury.
Cue the worst possible scenario for this strategy, Price got injured, forcing the Habs to recall Primeau as an ECU. As Habs fans know by now this made calling up Caufield impossible as they could not fit both on the roster and stay below the cap. While I find it hard to fault a GM for an injury, nor for gambling his goalies staying healthy, but the lack of a contingency plan, especially when they had one at their disposal.
This is not a shot at Xavier Ouellet but he should have never been called up. What purpose does he serve on the Taxi Squad with 8 defenseman on the roster, two of which were traded for at the deadline? Not to say that two call ups would have saved this team, however if Bergevin was planning on using the ECU the way he is, why not save a call up to bring Caufield up when necessary, use your last one to send him down and then continue with the plan by using ECUs?
If the Habs managed to win one of the two games against Calgary maybe this is not quite the issue it is now. However tonight’s game could (and probably will) go a long way in determining who takes the fourth and final playoff spot. Not to discount the Canucks, but fatigue is a concern as Habs fans are seeing with their own team. However, if the Habs can do the impossible and get two points in regulation and win against the Leafs on Wednesday, this would put the Habs ahead of the Flames by 8 points with both teams having nine games remaining. Lose both and that lead is only 2 points.
This is not meant to be a game preview but a few adjustments I would like to see would be
- UN-F***ING-LEASH ROMANOV – he does everything Mete can and more but they restrict his two-way game and keep him off the PP
- Bring up Caufield – No brainer
- Stop Dumping the puck in the OZ – This team generates a lot of their scoring off the rush. Not against Calgary, so change this
- Find the Monstars and get Jeff Petry’s talent back
Despite what you think of Bergevin and how he handled this situation, at the end of the day the players still need to perform. The Jackyl & Hyde act has gotten old and the team’s inability to string together multiple wins will cost them a playoff spot. The message all season has been about internal competition and letting the player’s take this team as far as they can. You can blame Bergy all you want but to quote Wedding Crashers:
Rule #76: No Excuses, play like a Champion
As always don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hot Sauce Family and check us out on Youtube for all of our Podcasts and videos! If you need more of your Habs fix be sure to check out Healthy Skratch as Spencer, Tyler and Kris breakdown the Habs and Leafs recent struggles and discuss the latest in a series of blunder made by the IIHF when it comes to Women’s hockey.