If there’s one thing that’s been apparent about Marc Bergevin’s tenure with the Montreal Canadiens, it’s that the man doesn’t panic.
The Canadiens’ general manager cited the cost of available scorers as the reason behind not bringing in offensive help at the deadline. Now, Bergevin is trusting his core to lead the team to playoff success.
Bergevin’s goal in bringing players of Steve Ott and Andreas Martinsen’s calibre was to create competition within the bottom six, and to drive the play of early-season performers who have slumped tremendously in the new year.
The third and fourth lines have been served notice: do your job, or we’ll find somebody to do it for you.
The struggles of Paul Byron, Torrey Mitchell, et al. have been well documented, with nobody outside of the team’s top scorers (and Andrew Shaw) producing a goal in February.
Gallagher, Mitchell, Byron, Danault, and Lehkonen collectively: 0 PTS in last 62 GP— Dan Robertson (@DRTSN690) March 2, 2017
The result? Not one regulation win in the month.
Montreal’s PDO (combined shooting and save percentage) has dipped enormously, particularly when Price went through a rough spell and the team wasn’t scoring. While Carey has since returned to his elite performance level, the Habs’ shooting percentage of late has remained abysmal. After the trade deadline, Bergevin indicated he counts on that luck changing.
It’s a bold gamble. Anybody who has spent more than they should at a casino can tell you luck doesn’t much care for the desires of those at its mercy.
Counting purely on luck to get you through a tight playoff race is a questionable strategy. Counting on it for success in the playoffs doesn’t seem a championship recipe for a would-be contender.
Bergevin sees a lack of execution, and sought to bring in players to push his forwards towards their killer instincts. Be tougher, get to the net, and put the puck in while you’re there. The GM believes in the team he’s assembled, and believes that the goals will start coming. After deadline day, it’s clear he has to.
With Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher getting on the scoresheet against P.K. Subban and the Nashville Predators on Thursday, the Canadiens’ fortunes may be changing, but whether that’s a team getting its due or the actions of management is up for debate.
The Canadiens may be authoring their own luck on the basis of better habits under new coach Claude Julien. But it’s also reasonable to believe the Canadiens were simply due to have the bounces go their way. A number of opposing shots hitting the goal posts these past few games may signal that the tides turning.
Luck is the one thing you can’t get on trade deadline day, but it’s also something every Stanley Cup winner needs. The Montreal Canadiens may need more than a little if they have championship aspirations. There’s a trickle of it coming now, on the heels of overtime wins and last-second heroics.
Lucky or not, at this point, approaching every game like your job is on the line is necessary.
And that goes whether you’re a bottom-six forward or the general manager.