Size Discussion: Why Is It News Now?

By JD Lagrange – Here we go. It looks like Montreal needed its doze of entertainment by overblowing, once again, what should not even be news. If there’s no news, create some, I guess… But rest assured folks, this is just another case of making a mountain out of a molehill.

Some people grew to hate former Habs’ GM Marc Bergevin so much that they refuse to acknowledge the obvious. They are blinded by their dislike so much, that they refuse to see the similarities between this new management and their predecessors. Yet, the resemblance, in many aspects, are there for all to see.

And Global reporter Brian Wilde recently played on fans’ emotions by dramatizing, overblowing some information he claims to have. In a recent segment on TSN 690, Wilde stated that the Canadiens would like to add size and physicality to their lineup this upcoming June.

“If you knew what the management likes right now, you wouldn’t be happy at all.” – Brian Wilde

Wilde was referring to the NHL Draft, where apparently he claims the Canadiens could go “off the board” by selecting bigger players instead of taking skilled players.

And it didn’t take more to wake up some Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome amongst some of Bergevin’s most notorious detractors, who took the overblown so-called “news” as new information. They immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Canadiens were going to neglect skills for size… even though they cannot be more wrong.

Nothing new

But as it’s often the case, those who pay attention to what the Canadiens have been saying all along, know that what Mr. Wilde brought forward is nothing new, or nothing to worry about. You see, Hughes (and Gorton) never said anything about sacrificing skills. That’s simply where the dramatization is leading to.

I’ll add to what my cyber friend Blain is saying here, by going all the way back to last summer as well.

Back in early July, after drafting 6-foot-3 Juraj Slafkovsky and having traded for 6-foot-4 Kirby Dach, Hughes talked about the importance of size in the NHL.

“There’s certainly an element of size to the game of hockey,” Hughes said. “When we watch the Stanley Cup playoffs every year — especially the playoffs vs. the regular season — it’s a very physical, tough brand of hockey. Our game changes a little. We’re still going put a premium on skill and speed as part of it.”

“There’s not a 5-foot-9 hockey player that scares me,” the GM added. “But 22 of them would scare me. So it’s just trying to find that balance.”

In that press conference, Hughes noted he couldn’t imagine the Canadiens putting together a line in the future that would have 5-foot-10 Filip Mesar with 5-foot-9 Sean Farrell and Caufield, who is 5-foot-7.

So to claim that the organization would sacrifice skills for size is blowing things out of proportion. Look at Toronto and why they can’t win a playoffs’ series. Their top players, those who play top minutes and have an impact on games, are all soft and, as a group, undersized. They get pushed around are are being intimidated, particularly in a seven-games series as they wear down. That’s how teams beat them in the playoffs, by grinding them down. That’s how the Canadiens came back from a 3-1 deficit.

So folks, take a deep breath and take Carey Price’s advice: relax. Let management do their job. Give them some leeway and focus on being fans. Hockey is entertainment. It’s not life. One day, perhaps, you’ll understand what I’m saying here. It’s not worth getting angry about.

3-Headed Beast: Learning From Each Other

By JD Lagrange – One is a young quality veteran, a leader on the Canadiens, rightfully nicknamed the Powerhorse. One is a newcomer on the Habs in this, his fourth season in the NHL and he’s having his breakthrough season. And the last one is a young, but imposing rookie who is learning the ropes of the NHL and North American hockey. Josh Anderson, Kirby Dach, Juraj Slafkovsky… Together, they stand at about 19 feet tall and weight close to 700 lbs and they form the Canadiens’ three-headed beast!

Have you noticed how Josh Anderson and Kirby Dach are learning from each other? Meanwhile, prior to his injury, young Juraj Slafkovsky was looking at them both, trying to mimic them in his style.

The members

Josh Anderson

Josh Anderson: He has always been known as the ultimate, fast and tough power forward. He has fully earned his nickname Powerhorse for those reasons. His downfall was that while not bad defensively, he wasn’t known as a defensively responsible player. For him, puck management was skating in straight line, drive the net and wish for the best.

This season, he has added consistency to his game but mostly, he has become a true 200-foot player. He blocks shots, and he is now trusted on the penalty kill. Further, he is more imaginative with the puck, stick-handling to put himself in a better shooting position, a bit more East-West game, particularly in the neutral and offensive zones. To the point where on the second power play unit, he is the swingman carrying the puck into the offensive zone. That is more like Dach’s game.

Kirby Dach: Has always been sound defensively. When placed on the wing with Caufield and Suzuki, he was the defensively responsible forward, and the one digging along the boards and in the corners. But he also has skills and a good set of hands, and possesses some great offensive creativity as well.

As the season progresses, Dach has also added a mean streak, a physical aspect to his game that I have never seen before in his days in Chicago. He is also driving to the net a lot more than he did before. Those are all traits associated to Anderson.

Juraj Slafkovsky: In the meantime, while questions can be raised about some of the decisions management has made about his development, you have the young student, the sponge, Juraj Slafkovsky, who looks at both those “veterans” go, progress with their game, and learns from them both.

We have read many times that Anderson had taken Slafkovsky under his wing since training camp and we were seeing some of Anderson’s more physical aspect in the young Slovak’s game as the season progressed. But Slafkovsky can also draw a lot from watching Dach, whose good set of hands is better than Anderson, more along the lines of his own.


Here is how the three-headed monster is shaping out to be this season, statistically speaking.


Dach seems to be trailing in hits, but he has been a lot more physical this past couple of months, adding this physicality aspect to his game.

It’s unfortunate that Slafkovsky got injured but it is fun to watch and notice the progression not only in 22 year-old Dach, adding some of the aspect of the game from a young veteran leader like Anderson, but also from the veteran to apply the teaching of Martin St-Louis, and the example of young Dach to better round his own game. What they are both accomplishing by doing so, is becoming better all around NHL players, even more valuable to the Canadiens.

And by keeping Anderson around, they are also helping better develop Slafkovsky into a better power forward in the process. You need such quality veteran presence and example for the young players and that’s something some fans simply don’t understand.

More reading…