With the backdrop of Carey Price-nullification by the Rangers' Chris Kreider, it's hard to see a scenario whereby the Canadiens win their conference final series. Dustin Tokarski would have had to play like Steve Penney in '84 for us to have a shot. Instead, he was, to paraphrase Randy Carlyle, "good, just good."
I was one of those who thought the removal of Thomas Vanek from the David Desharnais line was necessary during the Boston series, the coaches saw these guys going nowhere and had to react. As Michel Therrien has been quoted to say: "On a pas l'temps d'niaiser" (There's no time to mess around.)
And like many others Canadiens fans, I also thought that they could/should have been re-united against a very different Ranger squad, especially once we were down 0-2. We needed to pull out all the stops at that point. It would have been interesting to see what they could do against that kind of team.
Generally, I believe that coaches and GM's are better equipped to make these decisions than fans are, they have access to all the info, but in practice coaching staffs mess up all the time. A great current example is Alain Vigneault and John Tortorella with their respective teams. Every decision these guys make is defensible, you can see their side of it, but bottom line one head coach got results, while one cratered. So coaches are usually right, but they also are sometimes biased, fearful to change, have long memories, have comfort zones, etc., and it affects the team in ways that are hard to tease apart.
I understand Thomas Vanek when he mentions chemistry and lack thereof during his end-of-season media scrum, and I partially agree with him that he should have played on the #1 line, but I also understand the coaches wanting to see more effort, more passion from him, and not getting it. They possibly decided that placating him, putting him back with David and Max, might get him jump-started, but would also have an overall negative effect on the team, and stood pat. And it's hard to argue against that.
And while I'm not saying we should have surrendered, now that we're eliminated, we have to emphasize that we lost our best player in that series, so any line shuffling might ultimately have been akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Refusing to indulge him may have cost a few goals, or even a win, but in the long-term maybe it also sets and maintains the team philosophy, that the team goes first, before individual concerns.
So maybe Thomas Vanek leaves town frustrated and fans wonder what if, but on the other hand maybe Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu among others learn a lesson that will stick with them throughout their career with the Canadiens, and that is a bigger win than anything that would have been achieved by re-uniting the #1 line.