Sometimes, even the most patient among us feel like shouting in frustration. After years of scraping into the playoffs, or landing barely outside them, and knowing this is another of the same kind of season, this is one of those times.
I only saw the first period and half of the second last night, but it was enough to see the team, with this defence, is not going far in the playoffs. Add the devastated blueline corps to the ongoing inability of the forwards to score goals, and one can see that without Carey Price, the Habs would probably not be six points ahead of eighth place right now.
Then, today, we see the Bruins going all out to make a Cup run this year with the acquistions of Rich Peverley and Tomas Kaberle. The Lighting have improved their D as well, by adding Eric Brewer, whom I would have liked to see in Montreal. The Flyers got better up front by acquiring Kris Versteeg. Only the Caps and Pens have yet to get even better than the Habs than they already are...on paper.
It's not that I begrudge those teams those particular players (save Brewer), but I begrudge them the opportunity to make those trades. I see their depth and their very realistic playoff hopes and I want those things for the Canadiens. At the same time, I have to admit the Habs aren't there, and they won't be there for at least a year or two, if
everything goes well.
The truth is, the Canadiens are locked into Scott Gomez' overpriced contract for another three years. They have all of their organizational depth on D playing in the NHL right now, with little behind it. There aren't any hot shot goal scorers in Hamilton either. Don't get me wrong. There are some nice, solid prospects, but no potential stars among them. If they wanted to trade for a significant part, the sad truth is, they can't. Not without giving up an equally valuable part they still need. There's just no duplication of talent in the organization, and a team needs that if it's going to bargain its way up the standings.
Sometimes, being the character-filled, overachieving also-rans just isn't enough. I wouldn't want the Canadiens to be cocky and arrogant like the Flyers and Bruins, but it'd be nice if they had the goods to back up jerkish behaviour if they felt like it. The team right now is a lot better than it was a few years ago, but it's still not good enough to be considered a serious contender.
If a fan is realistic, it's hard not to see the Canadiens have a long way to go to build up the kind of depth they need to compete. Years of poor drafting and disappointing prospect development have left them with few moveable assets. So, in order to keep believing, Habs fans have to be unrealistic.
We were reminded last year what hockey in May feels like, and we want that again. We know, though, when the bubble of unreality clears enough to see the truth, that there are teams the Canadiens cannot beat. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, hope is a rare commodity.