Six wishes to the Montreal Canadiens
Let’s face it, the year 2022 of our Glorious will not have been very glorious. After reaching the Stanley Cup final in the summer of 2021, and lifting the metropolis in the midst of a global pandemic, the CH finished last year in the very last position in the National Hockey League (NHL). A first since 1940.
But now that for a few months, hope is reborn. Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki stand out as the two pillars of the team. The honeymoon between Martin St-Louis and the Montreal jungle continues. The name of Juraj Slavkosvky is as much a dream of hockey fans as fans of Scrabble.
What can we wish the Habs for the year 2023? Metro there are six proposals.
A mighty power play
It’s been at least ten years that the Canadian has not represented a threat in numerical superiority. At the time of this writing, the Habs are ranked 32nd and last in the Bettman circuit in such circumstances. In 2021-2022? 31st. CH’s best power play ranking in the past 10 years is 12th in 2017-2018.
Former general manager Marc Bergevin signed striker Mike Hoffman in July 2021 in hopes of reviving his club’s massive attack. The results are still awaited.
50 goals for Cole Caufield
It’s no coincidence that some supporters call him « Goal » Caufield. The 5-foot-7 young forward has an innate talent for threading the needle. And we’re not talking about sewing here.
As of December 21, 2022, Caufield had 19 goals in 32 games, which equates to a 48 or 49 goal season if he keeps up that pace. A 50-goal season is still within reach.
Lovers of quiz Athletes would also be happy to answer something other than “Stéphane Richer” to the question “Who is the last Canadian player to score 50 goals?”.
85 points for Suzuki
Those who remember Stéphane Richer’s 50 goals will most likely remember Alex Kovalev’s 84 points with CH during the 2007-2008 season. This is the highest point total for a Habs player in 15 years. If anyone can hope to pass Kovalev, it’s Nick Suzuki.
Named the youngest captain in Habs history last September, Suzuki demonstrates outstanding consistency and intelligence on the ice. The 23-year-old center has 61 points in 82 games in 2021-22 and has 31 points in his first 32 games this season. If he can stay healthy, it’s likely Suzuki will top the 84-point mark.
Taming the “Reverse Retro” sweater
The Bleu Poudre arrived last November. We are not talking here about the humorous group of the 1990s, but about the « Reverse Retro » jerseys paying homage to the colors of the defunct Montreal Expos. The problem is that Habs players are unable to win a game when they wear these colors.
On three occasions this season, the Canadian lost to the Devils (5-1), the Kings (4-2) and the Ducks (5-2). And this nasty habit seems to have continued for several years. Between 2008 and 2021, the CH won only 4 games in 16 occasions when the players wore a “special” jersey.
The CH will play with its “Reverse Retro” jersey on five other occasions this season, including January 9 against the Seattle Kraken.
A miserable end to the season for the Panthers
Do you remember Ben Chiarot? The surly defender who wore the colors of the Canadiens was traded to the Florida Panthers a few days before the trade deadline last March. In return, Kent Hughes got his hands on prospect Tyler Smilanic, a 4th round pick in 2022 and a first round pick in 2023.
This last choice represents the asset with the most value, while most experts agree that the crop of hopefuls in 2023 is surprisingly well stocked. The more the Florida Panthers have a bad season, the earlier the Canadian will be able to draft, next June in Nashville.
If the level of mediocrity of certain teams is notable throughout the NHL, it is because the leaders are aware that finishing last this year could pay off big. The NHL lottery has rarely been so enticing for organizations.
It is that at the top of the list of the best hopes in the world appears the name of Connor Bedard. Considered by many to be a “generational” player, this 17-year-old center from British Columbia continues to dazzle. In the Western Junior League, Bedard had 100 points in 62 games last year. This season, the prodigy has 64 points in his first 28 games.
To imagine him wearing a Habs jersey is a dream come true. However, the mathematical possibilities are there.
If the CH ends the season among the 11 worst teams on the circuit, Montrealers can continue to dream of Connor Bedard.