By Bob Trask – As the Montreal Canadiens work their way through the pre-season schedule and remain without a win, you can feel an angst developing among the fan base. Division rivals like Ottawa and Toronto are rolling along picking up wins, adding to the dismay of Canadiens’s fans. Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and look at the situation a little differently.
Many of the teams who will be challenging for the Stanley Cup this year came into the pre-season with more or less set rosters, especially among their top 6 forwards and top 4 defenseman. They went into the pre-season with the forward lines and defensive pairings that they expect to use during the season. The pre-season is an opportunity let these players become comfortable with each other – if they aren’t already there after playing together last season.
The Canadiens, on the other hand, have gone into the pre-season with positions available for the taking everywhere. The coaching staff hasn’t had the opportunity for their lines and defense pairings to develop any kind of chemistry. Their focus has had to be figuring out what the team has for talent; determining the construction of the lines and the defensive pairings as well as developing chemistry in those groupings will take a little more time.
The result could be a team that is somewhat disconnected early in the season but also one that should improve as familiarity among the players improves. So don’t judge the upside of this club too harshly or too early. There will be bumps along the way, lots of them, but we can enjoy watching this group grow together and become the competitive team all Habs fans long for.