It's difficult to believe, but the Montreal Canadiens are heading into Friday night's game with their third, fourth, and fifth best defensemen not playing, and there are no injuries to speak of. Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu were casualties of their youth, both sent to the AHL after mistakes that veteran players have been making at much higher frequencies.
Since the Canadiens sent down Beaulieu, and will now be scratching Tom Gilbert, they've gone from having five puck moving defensemen on their blueline while playing seven back there, to just three. One of those three puck movers is 40 years old, the other is 35.
P.K. Subban is now the youngest defenseman on the defensive roster at 25, in a top six that boast an average age of 33 years old, almost four years older than the next oldest defense core in the NHL. The NHL game is trending towards youth, and the Canadiens vowed a youth movement at the end of the playoffs, in the summer, and in training camp, only to completely abandon it two months into the season while those young defensemen had the team in first place in the NHL.
Both the Sergei Gonchar and Bryan Allen trades were wins long term, but they represent a move sharply in the wrong direction for the 2014-15 Canadiens. Gonchar has been good so far, but he is a 15 minute defenseman playing over 20 minutes per game, and Allen has been awful.
After moving on from Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray over the summer, it seems like it took just 20 games to get right back where the Habs were, killing their own chances by playing marginal players over good ones. Habs fans are always obsessed with 'next year', but Beaulieu, Tinordi, and Gilbert are all among the top six best defenseman available to the Canadiens this year.