The Montreal Canadiens have changed a lot since the Winnipeg Jets last played them in February. They went from having Brian Gionta as captain and Josh Gorges wearing an "A" to neither player playing for them anymore. To help all you non-Habs fans get to know the team, I have reached out to fellow Habs fan (and all around cool person) Laura Saba to help explain the team that traded Peter Budaj to the Jet for Eric Tangradi and just waived/assigned Rene Bourque to the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL yesterday.
1. With Nathan Beaulieu playing alongside Tom Gilbert for the second straight game by the looks of things, does it seem like Therrien has finally started to give the kids a chance or is this all a mirage?
Laura: It's really funny, I saw a discussion on Twitter earlier between some Leafs fans and writers about how all or most coaches seem to have this "play the veterans and don't trust the rookies" mentality, but it seems a little bit more extreme with Michel Therrien, doesn't it? I think any time a team is in rebuilding mode, the coaches sort of give the younger players free reign to develop but teams in the playoff hunt don't seem to think they have that luxury. Going to go ahead and guess that this is Therrien giving the kids a chance... with a very short leash.
2. Max Pacioretty is tied to David Desharnais. Is there any time besides an injury to DD that you think they could be separated if it was beneficial to the whole team?
Laura: If David Desharnais gets traded, probably. The biggest issue with Desharnais is that his weaknesses are minimized playing with Max Pacioretty. No other player on this roster can shelter him the way that Pacioretty does, so it's hard to imagine them being separated for an extended period of time as much as I want to see it happen. This isn't the optimal line combination for Max, but it is for DD.
3. The Habs have jettisoned multiple veterans, the latest being Rene Bourque. Who do you think is behind these moves and do you seeing them having a negative impact on e team as a while?
Laura: It's becoming increasingly clear that Marc Bergevin is doing some gentle nudging of Michel Therrien by removing the veterans and forcing the coach to use the younger players more. It looks like the organization is trying to develop a young core, but as we talked about above, coaches tend to trust the older players and seem to want to put the younger players through a lot of the hockey version of potty training before they can be trusted. It's up to the GM at this point to give the coach no choice but to use the kids. As for the effect on the team as a whole, given that Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec look to be around for a while, I think there won't be too much of a negative effect.
Follow Laura on Twitter at @TheActiveStick
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