Time to Put Up or Shut Up

Ten days before the annual NHL Trade deadline. And while every team has had their meetings to set up game plans, not everything is set in stone. Some teams have started moving assets, others are still trying to figure out what’s available out there and there are those sitting on the fence still. But in the meantime, the teams whose GM has been proactive by moving early are gaining some precious points over their rivals… and that in itself is adding pressure on the teams battling for position with them.

And that’s the case of the Toronto Maple Leafs. When they acquired Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings on January 28th, both the Bruins and the Canadiens were right with them, within a point or two. Realizing that his team has no issues scoring goals, GM Kyle Dubas went out and addressed the Leafs’ biggest need: their defense. And it’s paying off.

With all three teams having played 57 games, the Leafs now lead the pack with 75 points, which is three more than the Bruins and, most importantly, six ahead of the Canadiens and a Wild Card spot. Yet, it’s not like the Bruins and the Habs have played badly. In their respective last 10 games, the Bruins are 6-1-3 while Claude Julien‘s team went 7-2-1. But solidifying their defense with a legitimate top-4 defenseman has helped the Leafs improve by enough to create some much needed breathing room. Since acquiring Muzzin, Mike Babcock‘s team is 6-1-1, getting 13 out of 16 possible points.

Put up or shut up

If the Bruins and the Canadiens want to keep pace with Toronto, they will have to do something otherwise, the separation will only continue to grow. As it stands today, Boston and Montreal appear safe for a playoffs’ spot but of the teams on the outside looking in, the Carolina Hurricanes are on fire and the Buffalo Sabres are hanging in there. All it takes is for one or two injuries to sabotage a season or, in this case, a playoffs’ spot. No team knows that better than the Habs, having lost Carey Price and Shea Weber for long periods of time… and having felt the dramatic impact.

Don Sweeney

The Bruins need some scoring and they are rumoured to be very active. Wayne Simmonds, Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, Artemi Panarin have all been linked to the Bruins at one point or another, and if Eric Staal or Charlie Coyle are made available by the Minnesota Wild, GM Don Sweeney will be right in there poking around.

In his February 13th Rumor Mill column, Lyle Richardson posted that according to Joe McDonald of the Athletic, Sweeney won’t be seeking help after the injury to David Pastrnak. I’m sorry but I don’t buy it. While the Bruins have the second best team defense in the entire NHL, allowing 2.56 goals per game, they score 2.93 goals per game, currently good 17th in the NHL. And that’s with Pastrnak’s 31 goals and 66 points production in the line-up so without it, their offensive production has the possibility of becoming rather anemic.

Bergevin’s move to make

Much has been said about Marc Bergevin and what he wants to do (or should do) at the trade deadline. While I strongly agree and support not overpaying for rental players or older players soon to be unproductive, I’m also of the opinion that this team, while over-performing in the eyes of many, needs a boost. Those players have been working their butts off to make liars out of us, making some “experts” look foolish in the process. They deserve something from their GM, a reward, a sign that their efforts didn’t go unnoticed or underappreciated.

Alexander Romanov

A scoring winger (or centre to move Max Domi back to the wing) would be helpful, but the Canadiens’ biggest need right now is a top-4 left handed defenseman. We recently touched on a few potential trade targets for the Habs, but there are obviously many more. While Alexander Romanov might be on the verge of making the jump from the KHL to the NHL, he still remains very young. The Edmonton Oilers have had the bad habit of rushing their prospects and we see how efficient that is. They have caused some to crumble under pressure and/or delayed the development of others. They sheltered Kotkaniemi this season and it’s paying dividends. They must try doing the same for Romanov when he joins the Canadiens.

On the right side you have Weber, Jeff Petry, Noah Juulsen (hopefully), Josh Brook and Cale Fleury in the depth chart. It’s on the left side that things get rather thin. Victor Mete is improving but a top-4 role, particularly on the top pairing in the playoffs, is not ideal neither for the team or for the young man. Then you follow that with Karl Alzner (!), Mike Reilly, Brett Kulak and Romanov coming up.

Bergevin needs to get his hands on a top-4 with term on his contract, at least two years. This will allow for better development for Mete and Romanov, while helping Weber and Petry who carry the load on their respective pairing. It’s not only for this year, it’s for the next few seasons too. With the news coming out that the Wild has received the green light to tweak their line-up, perhaps a phone call to his buddy Paul Fenton is warranted. If you know the difference between ‘need‘ and ‘want‘, filling that left defense position definitely falls into the ‘need‘ category. A scoring winger is more of a ‘want‘.

Jonathan Huberdeau

Speaking of ‘want‘, when the name of Jonathan Huberdeau was thrown around in rumours, disbelief is how I would describe many people’s reaction to the news. But when it’s coming from reputable insiders, one must listen. Just like we predicted here back in May 2017 that Bergevin would do anything to get Drouin back when he was rumoured to be shopped around, you can rest assured that the Canadiens’ GM has been on the phone with Dale Tallon in Florida to get all necessary information on this case. Yes it would cost a lot to get him, but let’s not under-estimate the impact of local talent on the Montreal Canadiens.

Until then, if you’re anything like me, you will be checking your phone regularly in hope to see the Canadiens get more help… but let’s ensure not get our hopes up too high as the higher they are, the harder it will be if things don’t pan out. Go Habs Go!

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Making Every Day Valentine’s Day

Cupid. Hallmark cards. Jewelry. Flowers. Chocolate. Lingerie. Fancy dinner in a restaurant. Even wedding engagements. After Christmas, Valentine’s Day is the holiday where the most money is being spent. But why is that? Since when do people need to spend money to tell someone that they love them? Why do people need a “reminder day” to prove their love to someone? Because it’s commercialized, that’s why. That’s how they portrait it on television, with their commercials, in stores and at the Malls, all over the place.Heck, some pizza places even make heart-shaped pizza!

As some people don’t like Christmas, many don’t like Valentine’s Day. For the most part, it’s for the same reason: they don’t like the fact that those holidays have become to commercialized and have lost their true meanings. Others don’t like Valentine’s Day because… they are not in a couples’ relationship. And if you ask me, that’s not fair.

For those reasons, some people are downplaying the holiday by pretending – and claiming out loud – that Valentine’s Day is like every other day. By doing so, they feel like it takes the power away from the “commercial pressure” of having to buy something for our loved one, spending money when they’re still trying to pay off the Christmas bills. While there are benefits to what they are trying to accomplish, it’s a self-preservation excuse that they are using, something that the human brain is programed to do.

But really, why is Valentine’s Day thought to be just for couples? Who decided that? If St. Valentine was about loving one another, shouldn’t it be just a reminder to tell the people you care about that you love them? Why couldn’t it be an expanded holiday, allowing for your Valentine(s) to be your mother, father, brother, sister, children, grand-parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, close friends?…

Now here’s an idea, similar in many ways to that way of thinking but with a major twist:

“Instead of making Valentine’s Day be like every other day, why not make every other day be like Valentine’s Day?”

Wait, what?!? Think about it for a second. The people who want Valentine’s Day to be like every other day are saying that they should be able to tell the one they love that they do, any other day. That is true, but why not celebrate that love on February 14th as well? Instead, making every other day be like Valentine’s Day means that you celebrate and show your love for one another every day. See the difference? It’s subtle, but the end result is substantial at the same time.

You see, I come from the old school, where men don’t show their feelings. I was raised in thinking that “They know that I love them, at least they should know” and “I wouldn’t be doing this or that if I didn’t love them“. Saying the words “I love you” is uncomfortable, almost a sign of weakness. Not that you don’t love them, you just say it with actions, not so much in words. That was until something happened in my life that made me realise how wrong this way of thinking is.

So dear readers, tell the people that you love exactly how you feel about them and do it every day, not only on Valentine’s Day. Remember that while a bouquet of flowers or telling someone that you love them is nice, it means nothing if your day to day actions don’t support your words. Actions do speak louder than words. Hold your partner’s hand. Hug your parents, your kids. Make dinner for your friends. Invite your elderly parents for a Sunday brunch. Go for a walk, a drive together. Buy them flowers in January, or any other non-holiday date and time. But mostly, look them in the eyes and tell them, show them that you care, that you love them.

You see, the people that you love may leave this world before Valentine’s Day, and you may never have a chance to tell them how you feel. So celebrate this beautiful holiday each and every day. This way, you don’t need to buy anything. You simply are sharing the gift of love each and every day.