Have you ever heard of the Buffalo Theory? It goes like this: “A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And, when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.”
While Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin has yet to make the anticipated big splash fans were hoping for, he did strengthen the bottom part of his team’s line-up and created a very healthy competition for jobs which should, in turn, make for a better and even more competitive team.
We already know that rugged winger Nicolas Deslauriers won’t be back, and the addition of three ferociously competitive players in Riley Barber, Nick Cousins and Phil Varone will give guys like Matthew Peca, Dale Weise, and even Nate Thompson and Jordan Weal a run for their money. Finnish countrymen Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen should still be safe but they, along with Paul Byron, will have to battle for a spot on a better scoring line. Then on defense, the Habs replaced Jordie Benn with Ben Chiarot, a substantial improvement.
If you then consider the return of Noah Juulsen on defense, a tough competitor, with fact that rookies Ryan Poehling, Nick Suzuki and Josh Brook are turning pro and vowing for a spot on the roster, we are forced to admit that the weakest buffalo are definitely getting much, much stronger than they were, say a couple of years ago!
Bergevin always said wanting to put together a team that’s “hard to play against” night in, night out. A team that never takes a night off. Last season’s team has proven to be just that and on any other given season, their 96 points would have been enough to make the playoffs… or even do some damage had they been able to sneak in. Former NHL GM now turned TV analyst Brian Burke had this to say, late last season:
“I watch Montreal play and I think they could be a very big problem for someone in the playoffs. […] Montreal would make me nervous.”
If you’re old enough to remember the 80’s TV series Cheers, Cliff Clavin, a regular at the bar, pushed the theory even further when talking to his good buddy Norm, by adding:
In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we all know, kills brain cells, but naturally it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine! And that’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers!
Bergevin might not be done but even if the Canadiens don’t do anything else until the start of the season, the Buffalo Theory certainly should apply to them as well. While still lacking top-end talent, they have greatly reinforced the bottom part of the line-up, and they should also see an improvement with their backup goaltending as well. This should, hopefully, result in a playoffs’ appearance comes April. Go Habs Go!