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10-11-2013, 09:59 AM
  #69
Lshap
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Way too much short-term negativity in this thread. We're the "Build-Through-The-Draft" team, so let them build.

This season will be about taking one step back to move two steps forward. Tinordi and Beaulieu will make plenty of rookie mistakes, Emelin will take time to shake the rust off when he returns, as will Murray, and expect the occasional glimpses of Pateryn or Dietz to be bumpy. That translates to frustrating missed coverages and stupid goals and more threads like this.

But on balance I think our D is becoming... well... if not great, then at least much more solid. Most of our D is on an upward trend as they gain experience and regain health. Emelin -- assuming he's 100% -- is very good overall, and I say that as someone who was a fan throughout last season and didn't just jump on his bandwagon post-injury. His skating and positioning really improved, and he was fast on his feet and with his stick. Good reflexes and instincts. I'm not sure about Diaz -- he's looked weak -- but there's reason to think he can regain the stronger, more confident style he had last season. Then there are the Learning-Curve Kids -- Tinordi and Beaulieu, plus the prospect pool players. JT and NB have strong NHL potential and will be much stronger and smarter with another season of playing within the system. Same with the other prospects, who are being developed with much more attention than in previous administrations. It's fair to say that Pateryn, Nygren, Dietz may not be anything more than bottom-pairing guys, but don't underestimate a development philosophy that schools these players and lets them grow together!

I'd love to trade or buy an established top-four D, but history tells us the chances of getting that guy are slim. Chances are we already have our top-six defensemen on the team and in the queue. We just need to hope our young prospects have as much potential as some people think. Beaulieu and Tinordi are 1st-rounders who are looking good, the rest are crapshoots, but expect at least one prospect to become a legit player. Overall, the Habs are on their way to becoming a fast, offensive team from the back end out.

The only concern continues to be taking forwards out of the play in our zone and around our own net. Too many sticks flailing for the puck, too few bodies interposing themselves between forward and puck, too many lost battles. This is exactly the hole that Murray fills, but we need our more talented, quicker defensemen to pick up that slack. Can Beaulieu add more defensive responsibility to his skill-set? I think so. He looked focused last night.

But be optimistic. All of our key defensemen are young, the oldest being Gorges at 29, and half of next year's core is learning and improving. Unfortunately, the cost of next year's benefit is more losses this year.

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