The Globe and Mail and TSN both contemplate what the future might hold for the vanquished Montreal Canadiens, following a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the New York Rangers Saturday night. Marc Bergevin could conceivably be on the hot seat in spite of his team’s Atlantic division title, but the firing of former coach Michel Therrien likely extended his tenure. The P.K. Subban trade is quite the easy target for criticism, although the squad’s defensive stats took a large leap upward since Shea Weber’s acquisition. Even Carey Price appears not to be immune from fan criticism, though it hardly seems Price could have done much more to assist his floundering offense. Max Pacioretty is sure to draw ire as well, as his 0 goals and 1 assist through 6 games was incredibly underwhelming. The team has an awful lot of contracts coming off the books, and the organizational vision will now be more important then ever. Impending UFAs include Alexander Radulov, Dwight King, Brian Flynn, Steve Ott, and Andrei Markov. Assuming Radulov re-signs, there is still a glaring need for another potent offensive weapon to assist Pacioretty. With Tomas Plekanec having only one year remaining on his deal, and Alex Galchenyuk constantly receiving demotion, strength down the middle is an issue. A top-flight center has to be at the top of the wish list for a squad that struggled so mightily to find consistent offense. Whether they can actually acquire one via trade (or some other means) remains to be seen.
- Washington defenseman Karl Alzner will miss his fourth straight game as his team faces off against Toronto in Game 6, although he did skate with the team. Alzner sustained an upper body injury prior to Game 3, and further details are unknown. Replacement Nate Schmidt has performed admirably in his absence, although Alzner’s defensive presence and ability to eat minutes is difficult to replace. Alzner is not particularly physically dominant, but he is adept at keeping scoring chances limited and to the outside. Holtby will need to be sharp in his absence with a desperate, offensively talented Toronto team looking to fire away this evening.
- Ottawa defenseman Chris Wideman will be replaced tonight by Fredrik Claesson. Wideman has been barely noticeable in this series, but had tallid a goal and an assist from the backend. During the season, Claesson’s Corsi numbers were slightly better than Wideman’s, while Wideman had been a little more involved offensively. Ottawa’s injured left winger Viktor Stalberg may be able to return tonight, as he is a game-time decision. The big bodied winger is known for his blazing speed and penalty killing prowess. As a veteran with 48 playoff games under his belt, Stalberg would be a welcome return to bolster Ottawa’s already formidable forward depth. It is undetermined who would sit out in his place.