One of NHL’s best is underperforming

first_imgAs March winds down to a conclusion, one of the NHL’s most talented teams is being forced to cope with some reasonably disappointing news.The Montreal Canadiens have been eliminated from playoff contention.The Habs’ demise started when goaltender Carey Price got hurt exactly a month before Christmas. Arguably the best netminder in the game had gone down with a lower-body injury — and he would not return. The 2015 Vezina Trophy winner played just 12 games this season, collecting 10 wins and posting a save percentage of .934.Twelves games is obviously a minuscule sample size, but Price was clearly in great form when he was able to play this season. However, this team is currently a cellar dweller in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division. For a team with this kind of quality to be mathematically out of the playoff picture before April is simply staggering.The Canadiens entered the 2015-2016 season as one of the real contenders. The hype felt legit. Alex Galchenyuk’s move to center was looking like a smart tactical move as the team leapt out to a 9-0 start to the season.Galchenyuk was combining with Lars Eller and Alexander Semin, and the team was playing well.But the season wore on, and everything started crumbling.Once a star in the league, Semin turned in limited production and was waived in early December. After a tumultuous conclusion to the calendar year, Habs fans could still feel optimistic.The most precious resource of all was on their side: time.But 2016 wasn’t kind to Michel Therrien’s team. The front office opted to trade Devante Smith-Pelly to New Jersey just prior to the trade deadline. The team’s releasing of such a talented-yet-underachieving player encapsulated the futility of the Habs’ season. Smith-Pelly has been lighting it up for the Devils since the trade, likely forcing fans in Montreal to wonder why he struggled to do the same for their team.The Canadiens have been floundering for much of the season — and not just because of Price’s absence or even a surprisingly lackluster top line.Tomas Plekanec just logged his first goal in 20 outings on Thursday night. P.K. Subban exited a game against Buffalo on a stretcher earlier this month. He is currently dealing with a neck injury.There have been so many speed bumps for the Habs, but it still feels strange that they aren’t even in the playoff conversation.The Habs were ousted by a pretty incredible Tampa Bay team in last year’s conference semifinals. This season has of course been a step in the wrong direction, but with Max Pacioretty, Price and Subban, this certainly does not feel like a franchise in long-term trouble.After all, a Bruins team with a loaded roster didn’t make the postseason last year.Josh Cohen is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Cohen’s Corner,” runs Tuesdays.last_img read more

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