Grading the MTL Canadiens
Here goes nothing!
Though many pundits might look at our forward lines and question our fire power, I am one who believes that depth can often outmatch game breakers. I also feel we have the right balance between playmakers, scorers and space eaters upfront and that will allow each contributors to perform their roles adequately. That being said, chemistry will have to be a key ingredients if we are to have success scoring goals.
As many of us know, forwards also play a big role in defending the net, even more so, given Jacques Martin's system. Again, looking at those forward lines, I feel comfortable they can be just as responsible defensively as any team in the NHL. With that in mind, I feel like none only, we have a pretty well balance offense, but we can also match up very well on the defensive side of the pond. Leadership and team work will be at the forefront if this group is to have success...
Forwards Grade: A-
As is the case with the forward lines, our defense is pretty well balanced. Though, slightly soft, it has threat written all over it, as all but 2 rear guards, can make an accurate first pass and transition on to the offense with ease. That should keep other teams honest and allow us to counter effectively. It should also make for less time spent in our own zone and less icings all in all.
The one thing this defense is missing is pure rugged shutdown defenseman... Though PK can deliver a solid hit, he is not exactly a force in front of the net and Yemelin is yet to play a game in the big leagues. That leaves me wondering who will clear the front of the net, Hal Gill? Nonetheless, with help from the forwards, our defense should fair pretty well, but is more of a run and gun type D. The likes of Gorges, Gill and Yemelin will have to be at least on par with expectations if we're to stick around as one of the best defensive teams in the NHL...
Defensemen Grade: B+
Though Price is coming off a career year, I feel, he has not yet reached his prime, and so things are looking good in that department. With a bit less of a workload, I'm confident Price can exceed expectations and be in the talks for the Vezina by season's end. But the defense has to play on par as Carey is not super human and will need a consistent effort in front of him.
Budaj comes in, expected to be an upgrade over Auld... I tend to agree with this statement. He's a very athletic and sound netminder and should be able to take on some better competition than Auld did last year. After that, it drops significantly. If any of these 2 gets injured, we're in for a bumpy ride as no one knows what to expect from the guys we're employing in the AHL. For that reason, I have to be cautious in grading that position...
Goaltender Grade: A-
It's easy to assume that our power play with both Markov and Subban on the backhand, will be lethal, but one has to wonder who'll be playing on the left side as both play better at that position on the man advantage. But I guess that's a great dilemma to have. As the forwards are concerned, I'm more than thrilled with the abundance of combinations we could see this year, with players able to play all over the place past the other team's blue line. Chemistry remains a key to any PP and ours will be no different, but with a bit of tweaking, it looks as we'll have good numbers again this year...
The penalty kill should raise a bit more questions with the departure of Hamrlik, Halpern and Pyatt, but I feel that Eller, White and Engqvist should be able to fill the void upfront. Though not as experienced, they have the skill set and dedication to be good penalty killers. On the back end, with Gill, Gorges, Markov and Subban (Yemelin could surprised in that department), we have plenty of go to guys. Last but not least, Price can take over any games and should be a stud back there...
Special Teams Grade: A
Though some fans can be merciless in assessing Jacques Martin's input as MTL's bench boss, I, for one, am impressed with what he's been able to achieve thus far. True, his system is taxing and his line juggling, mind bending, but he has found a way to win. I do agree that he's a little hard on the younger players, but, all in all, the results have been there and our young core group has gotten better under his helm. I also expect, a lot more offense out of his team now that he has a line up capable of sustaining offensive zone pressure...
Kirk Muller left a big hole in the coaching staff when he left earlier this summer and that could have an effect on members of our squad as he was known as a player's coach. But seeing what the 2 Randy's were able to do with a decimated team down in Hamilton, I have to be optimistic to see them join the big club. Will either of them be the players' new confident? I don't know... But I DO know that they were able to get the best out of an AHL team that on paper, didn't exactly look a contender. As for the rest of the staff, they all bring something to the table and should benefit the team greatly, especially Pierre Groulx as Budaj never had a goaltender coach.
Coaching Staff Grade: B+
I know a lot of people have criticized Pierre Gauthier for his lack of activity this last off season. Some also feel he has been trading away too many picks for temporary plugs. Others question his overall vision, saying mostly that he fails to assess size and grit throughout the line up and seems to be high on small skilled players. I have but one thing to say to these people: How do you feel about the Detroit Red Wings? As far as I can tell, building a team around skills, chemistry, hard work and loyalty seems like a good plan to me.
I also know for a fact that I hate the Bruins, the Flyers, the Leafs and all those truculent teams almost as much as I hate those scrimmages after the whistle... The Canadiens are a classy organization and PG has done everything in his powers to keep it that way. He's trying to build a contender that will win, playing real hockey and that's all I could ever ask for. Scouting has been good, asset management pretty decent and it seems, our team finally has an identity. All in all, Gauthier has been making this team better and better ever since he took over.
Front Office Grade: A-
Overall Grade: A-
Let me know how you grade the team!
I would grade the forwards B+, we don't have a superstar forward to even qualify getting an A.
Offense: B+...no true superstar, but good depth on the top 3 lines. At the forward positon, success this year imo depends on Gomez, Eller and Kostitsyn performing. Kostitsyn needs to only be as good as he has been in his career, Gomez needs to get back to his 09-10 season and Eller needs to improve offensively. Is this reasonable? We'll see. Also the lack of a PK and face-off specialist brings the mark down. Three question marks combines with a lack brings the mark down to a b+.
Defense: B+/A-....We're missing one more minute eating top 4 defenseman ala Hamrlik. Can Yemelin be that guy? No one knows, also not fair to put that pressure on him. Mobility is still an issue on the back end, but puck movement with the return of Markov is a drastic improvement. We have two studs with Markov and Subban...I personally am not concerned about Markov...it's a postive many teams wish they had.
Goaltending: A-...if Budaj's game was reliable, in other words, if we didn't have to question whether or not he'd be able to perform, this section would be an A. Not much to worry about here imo.
Coaching: B+/A-...depends on how you look at it. I'm not a big fan of Martin's system and coaching style but it works, you have to give him that. Not only that, but the Canadiens have the personnel to employ Martin's system well, we've seen this for two years now, so I think there are relatively few question marks here.
We're not excellent, but we're not average. I think the habs are a 4th-6th place team this year, which reflects their mark.
Yemelin as the 7th? I don't think so
Of course I'll let the boys speak for themselves after they show us how good they are. That having been said both opinions imo have validity just all boils down to the way you see it.
I'm the glass half full type. While I see we don't have a Crosby or Malkin or even a Kovalchuk, I see that we have a lot better offensive depth overall than their teams. (If you notice we have 3 offensive lines, Pitts struggles to at times put good wingers with Crosby and Malkin. Luckily they have Crosby and Malkin lol. But we have 6 solid wingers, 2 good centers and 1 young promising center. Yes Gomez is a good center)
Goaltending I think is sound. Give Budaj a backup role and I think he'll really shine especially with a decent team in front of him. He seems like the kind of goalie who has been hung out to dry and never really given a fair shake. I think a new scenery could be good for him. Whether that's in Montreal or another team I can't say but I suspect he plays less than 20 games even still.
Defense is what has me worried. On paper I'd say we're more of a B- or even C+ with the potential of being an A. There are a lot of what ifs involve imo. Losing Hammer will be a big loss but having a healthy Gorges and Markov *knock on wood* is a bigger gain. We still have Space cadet in the line up which is imo a wild card. We've seen what he's capable of but we've also seen a lot of bad too.
Subban is only in his second year I project him having a better season but I can understand concerns of a sophomore slump.
Weber, Emelin and if it comes to it Diaz, are all unproven at this point. I see a lot of potential but the only one to prove much is Weber.
It's going to be a youth movement on D backed by vets like Gill, Gorges and Markov. I hope they're up to the task because it's definitely going to be tough.
Emelin I do think will make it but at an expense, costly penalties.
I'm mostly worried about the defense, offense looks the best I've seen in years due to depth. We may not have Crosby but we have depth all around. Price seems sound to me, in my eyes he's only had one bad season and is a young phenom and when people say we don't have a superstar I disagree completely. Having a good goalie on the back end gives your forwards that extra chip on their shoulder. They can take more chances, they have more confidence. When you have a superstar young goalie like Price on the back end you know every night you can win, you know every night you can come back from being down. It's like Brian Gionta said the atmosphere they had in Jersey was that you could win the cup every year, you could win every game, the feeling in the locker room was that you always had a strong chance of winning.
Our management is assembling a club of winners and I like what I'm seeing a lot. They might not make all the best moves on paper but I truly believe there's a lot of thought behind every move. For the first time in years we really have a team. Not just a bunch of guys but a real team. I don't see how coaching could honestly screw this up I really don't but I have to admit D is currently questionable. Many injury risks and young unproven players. No Hammer to back them up. If we don't use that cap space I'll be pissed we didn't give Hammer the 2 year deal because if we sacrifice having a pillar like him we most certainly must make a big time move at deadline for somebody that will put us over the top.
Also if you rate our offense a B+ how do you rate Philadelphia's?
You don't necessarily need to have 1 guy who puts up 85-100pts+ to have an A+ offense. Depth can put you over the top. I guess it boils down to how many goals you score as a team more than anything. Last year we were one of the worst so I understand the concern but I think we're going to surprise people this year.
I like this team because we're a team that actually plays hockey. We may not have a lot of goals but we also don't have a lot of goals against. For some people it's boring hockey but I love seeing hockey like this where it's tight games, tons of team work and playing hard. Timely saves! To me that's what the sport is really about not necessarily one guy but the team. I see our offense as a collective given their two-way style to be good.
The d is one of the best in the east.
In goal, same thing. Only Boston is ahead.
Coaching, not a martin fan, but he gets the job done. I have np there either.
In assessing the forwards and given them a high grade, I kept in mind the team philosophy...
We're still a defense first type of team... Our roster upfront is a sound defensive one so the rating went from a B+ to a A-.
Also, if Cammalleri plays up to his potential, we might have a 'super star' in him...
Just my 2 cents.
Yes, we have some forward depth, and Cole will have to play his PF role well to help Cammalleri and Plekanec score. And we now have a good couple of options on the third line: AK46, maybe Trotter, maybe Desharnais on Eller's side. We should have a decent shutdown, 4th line with White, Moen and Engqvist (or Desharnais if Engqvist doesn't make the big team) capable of checking as hard as any. But we have, at best, one game-breaker, and that is if Cammalleri is on his game.
Even though there are big question marks, these being Markov, Emelin and Diaz, all supposed to be more mobile than Hamrlik. If Emelin's game can translate well into the North American ice, he can be more mobile while munching minutes like Hammer did. And we can likely have a solid PP unit, as well as PK, provided both Markov and Gorges come back to form.
Carey Price came off a career year; the rest of the team must play up to standards if Price is to repeat the performance. And Budaj, while not called upon to play many games, will still matter down the stretch. With the goalie coaching he will get here, Budaj will likely play better than he did in Colorado.
Jacques Martin is still a defense-minded coach; he may be questionable at times but he doesn't have a team mobile enough to warrant switching to a more open system yet.
Special units: A-
Then again, the question marks lie in the defense aspect of special units. We have some good PP scorers up front: Cammalleri, Plekanec, Gionta, Pacioretty, Kostitsyn, Cole and Gomez to a lesser extent. Subban will likely munch a lot of PP and PK time but, if Gorges and Markov both come back to their pre-injury selves, I can give the special units an A/A+.
Special units will, of course, matter a lot all season long. Although we're not exactly a Cup contender, we can play well against the teams expected to contend for the Cup and, as such, I'd expect the Habs to range anywhere from 3rd to 8th. Missing the playoffs will be quite unlikely and, if it did happen, it will likely be a last-week heartbreak.
I think he will adjust to the smaller ice surface just fine - less space means he can be more physical without getting out of position.
I would rate offence according the ability to score when and if necessary.
If you score 2.9 goals per game because you are a tight-checking team that takes few chances, but have the firepower to score 75% of the time in the last 10 minutes of a game when down a goal, then that should get a higher rating than another team that has the same goals per game, but has much more trouble finding a goal when needed.
I won't describe every grade, but here are mine:
Special Teams: A-
Prediction for standings: 3rd in East
Forwards : B
Defense : B+
Goalies : A-
Special Units : B
Coaching : B
Overall : B
I see habs as an above average 2nd tier team. Since C is normally the average, I give them a C+/B-.
addition of Cole and healthy MaxPac give the team the best balance they've had in years. Good mix of speed, skill & defensively committed fwds, lacking in grit and high end talent to be given an A.
if Markov/Gorges are healthy and return to previous form, the group gets an A-, but the doubt is enough to warrant a B. Depth is questionable, relying on declining vets (gill/spacek) and unproven youth (weber/emelin/diaz). Subban gives the team a minute-eating stud.
Price is top5 in the league, and Budaj is about as good a back-up as there is in the league. Only 1 or 2 teams have a better 1-2 duo, and with Price being a 65+ game workhorse, back-up doesn't matter much anyway.
If Martin could just figure out how to get more out of players he doesn't favour, he'd be among leagues best. Team play is as good as it gets, special teams are solid, line juggling and handling young players is suspect.
Front Office: B
This year is when the focus goes squarely on PG... he's had enough time to wiggle out of the cap crunch Gainey left him with. Moves this season and heading into the next draft will cement what kind of GM we have... work so far has been decent but unspectacular... time for a few astute decisions.
goaltending and overall depth are the teams strength. Roster stability (year 3 for the bulk of this group) should also be a positive.
It's a C all around until I C what Gomer will put up the first month.
Offense - B
Pleks will hold up the first line but if gomez floats again it will be the same old story, especially if Eller and DD get no ice time again. Depends how the wingers mesh but our depth is good enough without a superstar or elite player.
Defense - C
Markov goes down we have no one to carry the defense, Subban is very nice but he isn't ready to fill Markovs boots and we have no one who can. Markov goes down and we will once again be scrambling to grab whoever is available and probably for a big price.
Goalending - B
Price is excellent, carries the team, I have no faith in Budaj. We needed a vet backup not him.
Coaching - C
The clown piles minutes on garbage like gomez while letting our youth rot with 7 miinutes a game. His "game plan" lives and dies on Prices shoulders and it wont change this year. Be ready for a lot of defensive boring play and dump & chase without the chase.
Overall - B
We stay healthy we will win the division, if not 7th to 10th can be expected.
If we signed a guy like madden i would give it a B+
Health is a big question
Front Office: B
3rd or 6th in the east
Forwards : B-
Defense : B-
Special Teams : A
Carey Price : A+
Forwards : B
A solid mix of offensive and defensive players. No real high offensive weapon, even Cammy on top of his game is a 30 goal scorer. Our offensive players(with the exception of Cammy, Kostitsyn) all have above average, to great defensive ability. Lacks size.
Two great to excellent offensive defensemen. Great mobility with the exception of Gill and Spacek. Transition game is one of the best in the NHL, shot-blocking is among the best, but they lose an important guy in Hamrlik this summer.
Carey Price is coming off a fantastic season, he was one of the top 5 goalies in the league. Budaj provides a solid back-up.
Special Teams: A
Consistently among the best in the league, the players have bought into the systems put in place by the coaching staff.
We'll see what effect Muller leaving has on this team. I suspect people will continue to undervalue Perry Pearn, and Martin alike.
Offense - B
Defense - B+
Goaltending - A+
Special Units - A
Coaching - B
Management - A
Overall - B+
Oh and Goal song: F
We have expectional forward depth that can actually compete with the top teams in the East/NHL, not the best, but it is definetly better than average. We don't have a superstar forward, but we do have great players who can be game breakers on any given night. Cammalleri is capable of putting up great numbers, and is the closest to be a superstar. Big years from Gomez and Eller will help, and a great season from Pleks and Gio would help also.
IMO we have one of the defensive cores in the league and definetly top 3 in east. Questions marks involving Markov and Gorges and also Emelin, but if they silence the critics and have big years, then we can go far with the defense core we have now. The continued development of Subban and Weber into the year will boost the core. If Diaz can challenge Spacek for the last spot on the d, we can have a motivated and better Spacek and a great defense.
With Price in nets and with his continued development, he can probably have a better season than last year. Already he is one of the top 5 goalies in the league and can do a lot better in the future. And with Budaj backing him up, an upgrade on Auld, we can get better goaltending and have a less workload for Carey and go deep into the playoffs.
Special Teams: A
PP is set with the return of Markov, a healthy Cammy and Patches and the addition of Cole will propel our PP unit into top 5 in the league. The PK took a hit with losing Halpern, a PK specialist, and since the Habs didn't sign another, it might suffer a bit of a drop. But with Plekanec and Gionta leading the PK unit, it should stay in the top 10 area.
Loss of Muller will hurt, but with JM's system in place and Pearn coaching and also the addition of the 2 Randys, our coaching staff should bring the team good fortune throughout the year.
PG has done a great job with the team and with 4+M saved, he can still make a big move to put the team over the top, also makes great trades that help the team. TT has done a great job with drafting solid prospects and nabbing Beaulieu in this year's draft. I am confident that this year, given how deep in elite talent the 2012 draft will be, we will draft our superstar forward and finally will have an elite team.
Pretty solid rating for our team, and we have a very good team that can go far in the playoffs and challenge for the Cup.
A. i gave the forward group an A because of what they do on the ice as a whole, not only point production. they buy into the system and play it well, they limit the burden on defense and goaltending which leads us to winning more games, but scoring less. and pleks is an elite defensive center.
B. losing hammer is gonna hurt a lot more than a lot of haters here will care to admit. spaceman is on his last legs although i know he can still do some good with limited time and on the proper side. markov, im certain, will come back to form, subban will rock, gill and gorges will do what they have proved they can do best but emelin and weber lack experience.
A+. carey price with a good backup or dare i say: starter-and-a-half in budaj
A+. **** the haters. Martin knows his **** and two years running he has proved it. say what you want about how he handles the kids, but bottom line is: subban is better, white is better, eller is better and desharnais is better. and his method of handling (or mishandling) players, for better or for worse, left the canadiens absent players with no fight, no will to compete, no will to improve in them and EVERYBODY buys into the system. that's what makes the habs win games.
A+. martin's system plus markov and subban will see the habs be a top 5 team for the pp AND the pk.
B+. very conservative. and some of the trades involving lesser players didn't turn out quite as well as we had hoped. Gave an B+ because that's exactly what they are, lesser players. the habs are no better or worse without these players. Good signings.
and to repeat what neofury said: for the first time in years, the habs are a real team. that i think is a big part of their success.
Forwards are B. Defense is B. Goalie is A. Overall I'd say we have a B+ team.
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