Week 19 in One Word: Patience

March 13, 2022

patience

/ˈpāSHəns/

the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Similar: tolerance, restraint, endurance, composure

any of various forms of card game for one player, the object of which is to use up all one’s cards by forming arrangements and sequences: solitaire.

The 19th week of action for the Montreal Canadiens featured three games. On Wednesday night they visited the Vancouver Canucks and Artturi Lehkonen put on another show for buyers in a 5-3 loss. On Saturday night they welcomed the Seattle Kraken, and while some kids were flying, we also saw some of the old gaps in a 4-3 shootout loss. On Sunday the Habs were in Philadelphia, and a 4-3 overtime win was the story this time on an outstanding performance by Nick Suzuki, a sweet shortie from Rem Pitlick to tie the game late, and a clapper from Cole Caufield to win it.

Here’s how I saw Week 19 go down.

Patience is paying off for Artturi Lehkonen.

The fan base is currently in love with the Finn, but that has not always been the case. Many of those who will criticize HuGo for moving him, should that be the eventual outcome, are graduates from the school of criticizing Lehkonen. Some pundits have been making jokes about Lehkonen, and his propensity for whiffing, for years. The truth is that Lehkonen has always been the same guy.

This is not a cocoon to butterfly story. It’s a hard work pays story.

Eric Engels spoke with a scout at the game in Vancouver who said, “He’s got a rep around the league of doing everything the right way and now the puck’s going in for him.”

When some were ready to trade him for a bag of pucks, Lehkonen was just working his bag off. When some could only see his lack of offensive production, smart hockey minds could see every other way he contributed. Patience and hard work have paid off for Lehkonen and he’s getting the recognition he deserves.

Jared Book from Habs Eyes on the Prize joined me for a podcast last week. I asked him who would win the trade deadline. His answer was brilliant – the team who trades for Artturi Lehkonen.

Joel Edmundson has his own patience plot going on.

Here is how you can tell which pundits watch a ton of Habs games and which ones do not. If their analysis of Jeff Petry’s season revolves around how much he misses Shea Weber, with no mention of Joel Edmundson, they probably haven’t watched that much.

The truth is that Petry has played significant parts of several seasons with Weber undisposed… and shone doing it. He was able to step into the 1D role and perform. Last season he had a near Norris performance playing alongside Edmundson. A back injury and a period of bereavement combined to split the pair and Petry has suffered mightily.

It was a long wait for Edmundson – the kind of wait that seriously tries the patience. His much anticipated return led to speculation that he will be the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens. I wrote about it myself in my Captain series and questioned whether one of he or Tyler Toffoli would be named captain while they wait for Suzuki to mature.

This is an area where the Habs and their fans should display some patience. Back injuries are delicate, and we should first permanently remove the IR letters from Edmundson before installing the C. That reality aside, who knows how Suzuki will mature between now and training camp? Who knows what veterans will be added in the interim period?

Fans hoping for a quick roster transformation may need a daily dose of patience.

Saturday night’s game against the Seattle Kraken was entertaining. A comeback, overtime, an extended shootout. At the end of the day the Habs had lost to the second worst team in the league, and they did so while showing off some gaping holes that have existed for a long time.

That power play looked rough again, with both the system and the personnel looking questionable. The defence still needs a complete transformation – oh yes, there are kids coming but they’ll need our patience, and at their very best may not produce a number one defenceman. The Habs are still at least a top six centre away from winning the middle, as Brian Wilde likes to say.

Let’s be patient. The kind of change this team needs to consistently compete is not happening at one trade deadline or one off-season. To do the work necessary will take at least 18 months of dealing and another 18 of maturation, and that feels very modest considering the hopes being pinned on this year’s draft.

Patience is the word of the week, and perhaps the word for the next three years.

There are times when patience must find its limit.

Thank goodness HuGo ran out of patience with Ducharme. Eight wins in 45 games, and it took MSL just 14 games to find the same number.

The inaction leading up to the trade deadline is enough to try the patience.  

When HuGo got ahead of the rush and traded Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames on Valentine’s Day, we settled in for a drama-filled trade deadline season. Since then, things have been a little less climactic.  

We’re now one week away from the deadline, and while this is likely just one of maybe six windows where HuGo will work to transform the roster, this window is still important in its own right. A long list of names float through the rumour mill – UFAs that will be moved for the best return, favourites who may attract an offer too good to refuse, and contracts we thought were immovable that are remarkably gaining interest.

Let’s hope that when it’s all said and done it won’t have all been just a giant game of patience.

Published by Lori Bennett

Hockey is my hobby. I love a respectful hockey chat or debate, but it stops being fun if we're jerks.

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