The Canadiens have lost six in a row and now find themselves sitting two points back of 8th place Toronto in the playoff race. It is almost unbelievable that two months ago, we were only 5 points behind Buffalo for 1st in the Eastern Conference. The news is bad both on the ice and off of it: the team can't score, and the players are getting hurt. Koivu isn't performing like a leader, taking bad penalties, missing opportunities, and failing to rally the team to push their hardest at this time of the season. Kovalev is out 3 weeks, Rivet's been out with the flu, and Huet is now lost for the season because of surgery to repair a torn hamstring.
It's been a sad sight watching this team night in, night out for the past two months. They've become one-dimensional on the power-play, the penalty-killing unit has disappeared, and even the goaltending has been only average. It's great that Souray scored his 20th of the season last night, he's been the strongest leader on and off the ice, unafraid to call guys out who aren't playing up to par. In my view, he should be re-signed and given the captain's C because he's proven himself to be the Habs' top player this season. I know that Koivu is the face of the franchise, but he's not getting it done lately, not having scored in 11 games and doing as much harm as good.
What are the options? With the trade deadline looming, rumours are naturally flying everywhere. Will the team add players? Will they shuttle away impending free agents for prospects and draft picks? Will they look for a goaltender after today if Jaroslav Halak has a poor debut? All are important considerations, and no doubt Bob Gainey is going to be on the phones a lot in the next 9 days looking for the best course to chart for his team.
Were it up to me, and mercifully it is not, I'd be looking to be a buyer at the deadline. They're only two back of Toronto, who they'll play three more times before the end of the season. They play Boston--who are jettisoning this season already--4 times, and have only a handful of games left against teams that are legitimately Stanley Cup contenders. In other words, there are a lot of matches left that are decidedly winnable...on paper, anyways. They should be able to beat the Bruins, the Rangers, the Capitals, and the Blues of the NHL. Should. And that's why Gainey has to have an eye towards strengthening the team for a playoff run this year. Move one or two of the impending UFA's and maybe even a couple roster players that aren't performing in order to make this team better for the playoffs. This season is by no means lost, and there needs to be an emphasis on winning the Stanley Cup now.