Category Archives: Nathan Beaulieu

The Blueliners

It’s safe to assume that the Canadiens defence could use a slight changing of the guard and with four d-men hitting unrestricted free agency, now’s as good a time as any to change some parts.

Andrei Markov, Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray, and Mike Weaver need new contracts, and after seeing Mike Weaver battle, he should stay. Not the biggest guy, but fearless, smart, and experienced. An important player in the trenches.

Weaver, 36, is a right-handed shot.

We know what Andrei Markov brings. He’s crafty, experienced, usually great on the power play, and he’s been a key mentor for Alexei Emelin and PK Subban, which often goes unnoticed but so important. And although he’s slowing down, I’d like him back for two more years. But he wants at least three and it’s a tough one.

Markov shoots left and is 35 years old.

Francis Bouillon can probably be replaced, and although he wasn’t all that appreciated by many Habs fans, I thought he did yeoman’s service for the most part and from time to time would come up with a huge goal. But he’s 38 and it might be time.

Douglas Murray is Douglas Murray. A bruiser who stops people in their tracks. But he’s incredible slow, he’s awkward with the puck, and he’s 34. It’s time for him. He also shoots left.

So our unrestricted free agent defencemen consist of three who shoot left and one right, with an average age of 35.75.

It’s time to give younger guys regular minutes.

We’ve seen how Nathan Beaulieu can skate and move the puck, although the Rangers series exposed some inexperience. He shoots left.

We know left-handed Jarred Tinordi can apply thunderous hits, is a good skater who handles the puck much better than Murray, and although he’s still learning, he’s extremely close to playing full time.

Greg Pateryn is 6’2″, 214 lbs, shoots right, and is smart and ready to go. It’s time to give him a quality look.

If Bouillon and Murray left, it would leave the team with 3 right-handed defencemen (Subban, Weaver, and Pateryn), and 5 lefties (Markov, Emelin, Gorges, Beaulieu, and Tinordi).

Dalton Thrower, who just signed a three-year entry level contract, needs some minor pro seasoning first before even being considered. He’s a right-handed shot but cracking next year’s lineup straight out of junior is asking way too much.

If Markov doesn’t re-sign, the power play, aside from Subban and maybe Pateryn, doesn’t seem to have much oomph. Unless a forward with a big shot is put back on the point the way Boom Boom Geoffrion was. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of forwards with big shots.

Markov should be resigned.  It’s only money, the franchise has plenty, and the guy’s not finished yet. And Emelin still needs some mentoring, as will Tinordi, Beaulieu and Pateryn.

So the blueline lineup could have some inexperience. Pateryn – 3 regular season total games, Beaulieu – 23 games, Tinordi 30. Not a lot of games for almost half the defence corps.

Anyone out there in unrestricted free agency that Bergevin could focus on? Matt Niskanen? Marek Zidlicky? Dan Boyle? Kimmo Timonen? Derek Morris? Willie Mitchell? Andrej Meszarov?

Nope.

Maybe through a trade? All kinds of packages could be put together, including getting the most bang for the buck by moving Dustin Tokarski now while he’s hot, as Mike Mckim suggests.

Or maybe Subban, Emelin, Gorges, Markov, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Weaver, and Pateryn just might do it.

So Close And Now So Far

The Canadiens fall 3-2 in overtime when Martin St. Louis beat Dustin Tokarski, but the Montrealers absolutely made it a game, although it took two and a half periods before it clicked in.

Imagine if the Habs’ non-contributors were contributing? But when a team gets by with just a handful playing well and still takes it into overtime, it says a lot.

The Rangers aren’t that good. We’re playing without half the team.

Too many periods in these 2014 playoffs when the Canadiens have been outplayed. And yet, another game that was so close, that could’ve gone in their favour.

How close? A puck rang off the inside of the post and out again from Alex Galchenyuk with three minutes left in the third that would’ve won it.

The series only a fraction of an inch from being tied, and now it’s a 3-1 lead for New York going back to Montreal. But many good things happened in that third to give us hope, because finally the boys in general came alive and pushed.

Not everyone, but many.

Just so disheartening. Losing in overtime. And seeing guys still not showing up.

One thing’s for sure. This isn’t the same P.K. Subban we saw in the Boston series, although he tied the game in the third on a shot from the point that appeared to deflect off Brendan Gallagher.

But he doesn’t have that swagger, that dangerous flamboyance that causes fans in other buildings to boo him. The MSG folks have had no reason to let him have it.

Maybe at some point we’ll hear why PK has slowed down. Maybe he’s burned out.

Again Thomas Vanek did very little and there’s no sense dwelling on this. He is what he is.

But having said that, if you haven’t yet come close to showing up and you’re in the third round of the playoffs, it’s a serious problem. And Vanek hasn’t shown up. We need him, and that’s why it’s so maddening.

DD showed up. Gally showed up. Francis Bouillon, inserted into the lineup in place of Nathan Beaulieu, tied the game at one in the second period with a nice shot. Weaver sacrificed his body for the team.

Lots of guys showed up, although for many, not until the third. But lots haven’t yet. The clock’s ticking, and if we don’t see all hands on deck on Tuesday, with everyone giving their all, then we know for sure this team has a ways to go yet before we start thinking about the big prize.

There are no passengers on teams that go all the way. That’s not how it works. It takes blood, sweat and more sweat from every guy. The young Edmonton Oilers found that out when they lost to the New York Islanders in 1983 after the Islanders, banged, bruised, and exhausted, had just won their fourth straight title.

The Oilers learned from the Islanders that it takes supreme sacrifice, ridiculous amounts of hard work, and the willingness to do whatever it takes, even if it hurts like hell.

We’re not seeing that from a number of Canadiens. Although there’s still time. Not much though.

All we can do now is hope we see every single guy give his all from here on in. If we don’t see that, then the time definitely isn’t yet here to even think about Lord Stanley.