Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has asked for patience while rebuilding this team. It may be his own patience that will cost them the 2013-2014 season.
This team shouldn’t have to ask if it has already hit rock bottom after being outscored 14-2 in its last three games, including a 5-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on home ice.
If it does get better from here without a change, that is probably the dead cat bounce. This team couldn’t possibly get any worse so of course things start improving. If it continues to get worse, well, the Canadiens don’t have the luxury to find that out.
It wasn’t long ago that they had a 10 point lead over the two Wild Card teams in the Eastern Conference. After their loss last night, and the Toronto Maple Leafs picking up a loser point in an overtime loss against the Winnipeg Jets, the Canadiens are now one of those two Wild Card teams.
And with the Detroit Red Wings getting healthy, it’s only a matter of time until the Canadiens find themselves on the outside looking in of the playoff picture. The worst thing is, it didn’t have to be this way. This is a team that won the Northeast division last year. This is a team whose only question last year was goaltending. And they now have it.
This is a team that got worse on its own. You can point to individual performances, you can point to the roster construction but the real damage is being done when you look at shots for and shots against at even strength – ironically the best indicator of predicting wins and losses. Last year, the Canadiens were second in the league behind the Los Angeles Kings. Now they find themselves 26th. That isn’t a roster issue. It’s a coaching issue.
This season will singlehandedly decide what Bergevin’s legacy is. Will he wait for the dead cat bounce? Or will he waste a season with his prime talent signed for low salaries and a wide open Eastern Conference. Teams don’t always contend when you expect them to. You need to jump on your opportunities – not wait for them to pass by and wonder what happened. At what point does losing just become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
It was in 2007-2008 where the Canadiens were unexpectedly first in the conference. They had a young team that everybody just assumed would continue to grow together and would culminate in a magical 100th anniversary season. We all know what happened. Three lower half playoff appearances followed by 15th in the conference just two years ago.
Marc Bergevin promised when he took over and with the 24CH cameras rolling that it would never happen again. Well, Marc, it’s your move.