Flames at Habs: 5 Questions with Ha'bs Eyes On the Prize

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary visits their former Heritage Classic rival in a battle of two teams that seem to be moving in different directions recently. I asked another guy named Arik who writes at Eyes On the Prize (seriously! there's not that many of us!) some questions about the Habs and he asked me some questions about the Flames!

1. So Montreal is in utter free fall after being a good team both in processes and results for a long while. Is there any sense of the front office actually figuring this out, or are they chasing their own tails at this point?

It's tough to explain all that's transpired with this team in a few sentences, but the short answer is the latter. The Canadiens made some bad offseason moves following a disappointing but largely unlucky first round playoff loss, and then changed to a more reserved system early in the year due to some more bad luck. As a result, the team has gone from a possession beast to a club that survives on special teams and Carey Price. None of the moves that have been made of late suggest it's about to get any better. It may well get worse.

2. Given Weise being, well, Weise, I assume the Vancouver trade is being considered a loss. How much will losing Raphael Diaz hurt the Habs?

The only way that Dale Weise helps the Canadiens is if he replaces George Parros in the lineup on a regular basis, and manages to contribute defensively to a fourth line that was one of the best in the NHL last year, but that hasn't helped a whole lot this season. As for Diaz, he had inexplicably been a healthy scratch for the last few weeks, but was one of the four best defenseman on this team, a righty puck mover, and a good penalty killer (all elements the team is lacking). So going from the press box to Vancouver won't really hurt the Canadiens; but the damage is great and it's already been done.

3. Have any players on the Habs continued to perform at or above expectations despite the current state of affairs? Or is the whole team in the toilet at this point?

There are only a few players who have played better this year than last. The first is Carey Price, who has been absolutely outstanding and to whom the numbers don't do justice. The second is Michael Bournival, who unexpectedly made the team out of camp and has been really solid in anything from a first to fourth line role. And the third is another rookie, Nathan Beaulieu, who has only been called up of late but looks like a legitimate future top-4 D with great offensive skills. Otherwise, just about everybody has been dragged down with the team changing systems and a lack of proper and defined roles.

4. Where do you see the Habs at the trade deadline- buying or selling? Just as importantly, where do you think they should be?

The Habs will likely be buyers at the trade deadline - to an extent. Bergevin prides himself on being a patient GM, so I wouldn't expect any superstars coming to Montreal, but it's possible a reinforcement or two could be made. Ultimately, though, the team has set itself back too far to be saved by any one or two moves (at least player-related ones). The team has enough talent to compete, any kind of significant buying or selling out of panic is probably unwise.

5. Given the last question, is there anyone you see as gone at the deadline? Anyone that Bergevin is itching to get rid of?

Well Diaz was always going to be a likely sell because he hadn't been playing. The next most likely to move is probably Rene Bourque, who hasn't been very good this year, and even when he has hasn't gotten the bounces. I'd say it's at least 50/50 Bourque is gone by the deadline, although his contract makes him tough to trade.

Thanks a bunch to other Arik and make sure to check out the questions he asked me over at EotP before the game tonight!
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