Maybe the Boston Bruins haven't used everything this roster has in its toolbox. Perhaps the team that has already passed the 50-victory mark had left some resources in the locker room that allowed it to dominate the National League since last October.
On the other hand, didn't the opponent surprise the mighty Bruins with his speed and passion?
“I think that we were the best team for most of the evening,” analyzed Nick Suzuki, brilliant, Thursday evening.
The words of the captain of the Canadiens confirmed the mood of the coach , Martin St-Louis.
“I am proud of our group. Our players have shown a lot of determination. They competed at a level that showed we are growing as a team. We have obtained an answer to a few questions, in the sense that our plan allows us to establish solid bases. We now hope that by the end of the season we will continue to improve and to tell you the truth, it is encouraging.
It's always rewarding for a head coach to watch his group play with such confidence against the best team in the league.
Two days earlier, with the very impressive return of Kirby Dach, hadn't the Canadiens beaten the Tampa Bay Lightning?
Also, it's rewarding to spy on the actions of a group surpassing the Bruins in terms of shots on goal (31 against 21) and above all, having to deal with the adversity of many injured players.
Steps to be taken
St-Louis savored every minute of this match and he expressed his feelings by specifying: “For me, everything is in the preparation and in the attitude of the players. They displayed the qualities of a warrior even though they know very well that we will not make the playoffs. So we have to take advantage of the last games to add to our baggage of experience, to achieve the objectives in terms of development and to respect this much desired culture. »
We know it very well, and we have repeated it, although not all supporters like it, victories are always a goal, but in the current context, there are steps to be taken. And, we know them.
So far, the deadlines have been respected… perhaps not as we had hoped beforehand, with the many injured players leading to changes in the schedule. But what we hope is that once the season is over, we will be able to lay the foundations for the next season, we will discuss the strategy to be deployed during the off-season, contract negotiations or even contract buyouts, if we take this avenue to add more flexibility to the payroll.
St-Louis had something to show pride on Thursday night.
As a coach , we give you a file. We ask that the process be respected.
With 10 games remaining in the season, the coach has fulfilled his mandate with great distinction and he managed to stick to the process of reviving the team under very difficult conditions.
The coaching group has managed to stay the course despite a season that takes place in a context that the original script did not foresee. Player personnel had to be juggled in every game.
To some extent, the results are still amazing.
Options for Hughes
Kent Hughes made it clear in an interview with The Athletic.
“In the unrestricted free agent market, we do not intend to award multi-season contracts to 28- and 29-year-old players. »
This limits the field of action. If you look at the list of unrestricted free agents who will attempt to win the lottery, the top ten list is occupied by players aged 30 and over.
Hughes will look elsewhere. First of all, among the players 28 and under, we find a Canadian player, Sean Monahan. Can he play to the standards he set early in his career? Question without answer but which calls for the greatest caution.
The others? Miles Wood (New Jersey), Tyler Bertuzzi (Boston), Alexander Kerfoot (Toronto), Tristan Jarry (Pittsburgh), Vladislav Gavrikov (Los Angeles), Ivan Barbashev (Vegas) invite some reflection.
Obviously, the market for free agents with compensation is much more attractive, but too often the price to pay is far too high when it comes time to make a hostile offer. Among the restricted free agents, the list includes: Timo Meier (New Jersey), Pierre-Luc Dubois (Winnipeg), Alex DeBrincat (Ottawa), Jesper Bratt (New Jersey).
Hughes, despite everything , will have several options. Performing one or more transactions is an important solution, especially since he came out on top last summer with Dach and Monahan.
< p>The Canadian should consider buying out Brendan Gallagher's contract. Obviously, opinions are divided on the subject but I am not judging Gallagher's achievements in the past. We will always recognize that he has rendered great services to the Canadiens, but there comes a time when circumstances sometimes force us to forget the past because the present and the future demand it.
The Tampa Bay Lightning hadn't he bought out Vincent Lecavalier's contract? An 85 M$ contract over 11 years. After four seasons, Steve Yzerman had judged that the contract was hindering his recovery plan and he had accepted that the takeover would require the Lightning to pay $32,666,667 over 14 years.
When you have an owner who owns financial resources are always an element that attracts attention when decision-makers gather around the table.