I feel this upcoming season isn't garnering enough optimism from fans. Yeah, we just laid a goose egg and finished last in the East, but I don't think it's going to be all doom and gloom.
I think we have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs and, dare I say it, compete.
But then again, some things have to go right...and they can easily go wrong as they did this past season.
Feel free to take a stab at 2012-2013's burning questions below.
Desharnais - can he replicate his success from last season potentially without Cole/Patches and with more defensive zone responsibilities?
Cole - will age or injury begin to rear its ugly head or will he continue to produce at a top level?
Pacioretty - can he gain some consistency and regain some of his lost physical game?
Plekanec - can he regain the creativity and flair that went missing last season? Will he finally get wingers to support him offensively? Will decreased PK time negatively affect our overall PK and benefit him not wearing down as fast as he did last season?
Gionta - can he prove that last season's injuries were freaks of nature and not the beginning of the end of his body breaking down? (he got injured shooting/skating with the puck - twice). Will he go back to being a 30-goal guy or will his play drop to the lower 20s?
Bourque - was last season an ugly aberration and more of what we'll see or will he go back to being good for 30 goals and strong play around the net?
Eller - is he ready to take the next step, or will he continue to tease? Is the coaching staff ready to give him an increased role, or will he continue to be the anti-thesis to Desharnais at both ends of the ice?
Armstrong - can he find his sparkplug self again, or will injuries continue to hamper him? Does he have anything left in the tank to be more than a 4th liner?
Prust - how will his game translate to Montreal? Can he still be as physical as he was in New York without other tough guys surrounding him there?
Gomez - will he give us some semblance of production of has he lost it forever? Will he still be a Montreal Canadien come opening night, or closing night?
White - can he stay healthy and produce offensively like he did in Hamilton?
Moen - can he prove last season wasn't just a contract-year career year and play more like he did then than in his first two uninspired seasons here?
Nokelainen - does he have any room to grow, as a fallen top prospect, or is he destined for pressboxdom?
Markov - will Markov return to the form that made him elite, or will he play at a much more tentative level? Is he still a top-pairing defenseman capable of handling 27 minutes a game?
Subban - will he continue to blossom into the star he can be, or will his inconsitency frustrate fans and the coaching staff alike? Can he mature as a person, and will PK be allowed to be PK? Will his offensive game, particularly on the PP, become more refined or will it remain gaudily raw?
Gorges - can his body take another year of beating?
Kaberle - will he go back to being the (or part of) player that made him the most sought-after piece in the NHL and bring an elite offensive game to the table with reduced minutes? Will his downward spiral accelerate? Will he be a regular? Will he come back and play better positional hockey like he used to, or will he keep getting caught out of position? Is he motivated to prove his detractors wrong, or will he continue to prove them right? Can the HF Habs board ever stop hating on him?
Bouillon - is he still a regular NHL defenseman, or is he more of a #7 guy? Can he still play with the edge he last displayed as a Hab? Will Therrien misuse him like Martin misused Darche?
Emelin - can he limit spurts of ineffective defensive play and become a more-rounded player? will he discover some puck skills he flashed in Europe? can he grow into a dependable top-4 NHL defenseman?
Diaz - what's his ceiling? will he be given the chance to reach it, and will his adjustment to the North American game continue?
Weber - does he have a future in Montreal, and can he ever become the dominant offensive player he can be?
Price- will we see the superstar Price of 2010-2011 or the good, but not great, Price of 2011-2012? How will expectations of his new contract affect his play?
Budaj - I'm at a loss. Honestly.
I think given the roster we have, if even 3/4 of these players play to some semblance of their capabilities, we're in business.
Obviously this holds true for many teams, but I think it is even more evident with the Habs. We have too many players that are "could be"s, and that poses the aforementioned boom or bust risk/reward.
If all of our players just focused, and played the way they are capable of, and how they have played in the past, we are a playoff team. Although, things can go wrong, and if history is an indication, things will go wrong, we could be in for another long season and bottom finished.
I think the implication of my post was that these scenarios would take place in the non-event of a lockout.
You pose logical questions. Unfortunately, not one can be answered today. Other factors may intrude into your set: trades, FA signings, outstanding performances by non-roster prospects, injuries, and cancellation of all or part of the season. So, we're no more informed than we were yesterday of last week.
I'd keep DD with Cole and Patches and I don't see a big drop off from last year.
Barring any trades or UFA signings, I'd placed Bourque and Armstrong on Plek's wings. See how they do. Although Gionta was fairly decent when he played with Pleks, I'd want to shelter both those players. They're not soft but they're not big an intimidating. So I'd do the same with those two players as they did withh DD. Put them with bigger, tougher players. )I prefer to trade Gionta but what can we get for him?). I see Bourque, Pleks & Armstrong being a surprise.
I'd team Gionta with Eller & Moen. Surrounded by two decent skating mammoths (for the Habs anyway) I think Gionta will have more time and space.
Prust Nokie and White should provide excellent energy.
Those forward lines if they stay fairly healthy can provide enough offense to get us into the playoffs.
Although I would like to boot Gomez into outer space, I know that's not a good management move. The smart move is to give him regular ice time for the first two months and hope he catches fire and burns to a crisp....well catches fire and we can shop him for a 7th round pick in 2525.
The defense I'm not too worried about. Even if Markov does not return to elite form but simply a 3rd or 4th d-man we're in decent shape.
Is not a bad defense corp.
Price is Price unless he gets hurt we're fine in nets.
Man, I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around that time frame. It gave me a headache.
I assume you're literate enough to grasp that "yesterday of last week" included a typographical error, that the "of" should have been changed to "or". Of course it's possible that you still can't wrap your mind around it, in which case I suggest aspirin or acetaminophen for your headache. If that doesn't work, consult a neurologist.
If most of the question marks turn positive...win the division and a top 3 playoff slot.
If some are positive and some are negative...should be a playoff team, much better than last year
If most of the question marks go negative then a shot at the playoffs but likely 9th to 12th
If they all go negative then we are looking at a lottery pick again.
They are still one top six forward away, and 2 NHL D away from being a contender for anything but a first round out, at best. The biggest hole is, without question, on D. You have busts and question marks outside of the top 3.
I think it is a transitional year. 2013-14 is my target.
This season will be neither boom nor bust. Too many young players that aren't ready and a few key contracts that need to be waited out. Combine that with a decent core of NHL vets and you get, hopefully an eighth-place finish. 13-14 is when things will get interesting.
We simply don't have the scoring punch up front to be much more than on the cusp of a playoff spot. If Markov and Kaberle can return to previous form, and PK can take it to a next level, perhaps we'll get the offense from the backend, but that's the only way I see this team becoming a legit threat.
And at least if there's a lockout I can look forward to watching plenty of Sarnia Sting games...
If there's a lock out, Galchenyuk should play overseas. In Sweden or in Switzerland or in Russia. Just an idea, in the case he's too good for juniors.
If there's no lock out, I'm optimistic with next season. We added much needed grit, and even if I disliked the Cammy trade, I believe either Bourque will be a pissed off physical goal scoring son of a gun, either Gally will steal his spot and impress us with a 60 points season.
Whathever happens, I don't want Gally on the bottom 6.
I believe we'll have a solid team next year. Our bottom 6 is much improved, with all the new guys wanting already to play with Eller so that he makes them look even better. Armstrong talked about it in an interview. And today, on canadiens.com, you can see pictures of Prust and Eller. I believe Price will steal games for us. And that we'll have a lot of character.