The first-place Habs make their only appearance of the season in Raleigh tonight, so we get the lowdown on what to expect from our pals at EOTP.
It's a poutine-and-smoked-meat edition of Three Questions, as we welcome in Andrew Berkshire of Eyes On The Prize to a spot in the hot seat, and try to make sense of the Habs' hot start that has them in first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Habs are surprising most of the hockey world with their quick start, but I'm wondering if the fan base had higher expectations and thus aren't quite as surprised with the team's play so far. Is this a case of the outside world catching up with reality, or has this start taken everyone by surprise?
Most of the fanbase is pretty shocked at the turnaround, but at EOTP we figured that the Habs would be competitive this year as long as Bergevin didn't mess around too much. I don't think anyone expected this kind of start though. We're all pleasantly surprised by Michel Therrien's system, although the last few games the defense has been very suspect.
What did the Erik Cole/Michael Ryder trade indicate more: that Cole was ill-suited to play Michel Therrien's system, or that the team needed to signify a clean break with the Pierre Gauthier era and this was a byproduct of that?
I don't think it was either to be honest. I think it was as simple as Erik Cole was making $4.5M against the cap next season and the one after. They got a player back that can replace a lot of what Erik Cole does, and flexibility this summer. The combination of the hardline stance on P.K. Subban's contract, sending Scott Gomez home, trading Cole, and likely trading or buying out Tomas Kaberle by the end of the season hints to me that Bergevin is targeting a big UFA signing in the summer. Corey Perry maybe?
How much do the Habs trust their youngsters who have gotten them to this point, and what types of reinforcements, if any, will they look to add at the deadline?
I think Gallagher is basically a top six forward in Therrien's eyes right now, and it would be hard to argue with him. He's not getting tough minutes, but he's shredding teams in possession and drives the net like he's 6'5" instead of 5'8". Galchenyuk is still bouncing around a bit as Therrien challenges him. Galchenyuk has been extremely good, but he's still 19, so he has less leeway than Gallagher.
At the deadline I can't see Bergevin doing too much. As I said earlier, I think he's focused more on next year and this year will be a learning experience for the team. If anything, maybe a depth defenseman would be added, but the most likely move would be trying to move Kaberle. You guys want him back?