Friday, October 26, 2007


So 13 goals in two games. 3-0-0 this week with 17 goals scored and only 7 goals allowed. The Cardiac Canadiens refuse to lose. Bring on Pittsburgh!!

It's nice to see the team succeed. It's also easy to forget that the team got off to a similar start last season, only to see everything go south right around Christmas time. The key to this season is sustaining success over the long term.

Five power play goals!! Sheldon who?

Tomas Plekanec. Four points. This guy's for real, the Habs young guns are turning heads. The league has to take notice. On the other side of the coin is Mikhail Grabovski, who despite occasional flashes of brilliance looks nothing like an NHL player. Not sure what the team's plan is with regards to Andrei Kostitsyn, but I'm hoping to see him in the lineup tomorrow night. Hungry to show what he can do.

The Habs went undefeated in Carolina this season. That's right, they won't be back there this year. Same goes for Pittsburgh, they're done going to Steeltown after tomorrow. Nice to get that out of the way.

This team is fun to watch. They can be forgiven for letting up in the third and should be lauded for not letting Carolina turn it into a goonfest in the second.

Here's hoping the team can sustain this level of play over the long term, consistency is the name of the game. Staying out of the box is huge. Using the team speed, which is still underrated is another.

Back tomorrow to preview the game....

Teeing Up the Canes

It's gameday. The Habs have beaten the Hurricanes once in regulation in their last 12 meetings. They've also beaten them twice in overtime during that span. That means the Hurricanes are 9-1-2 against the Canadiens during that stretch. I'm scared.

The Habs are riding a modest 2 game winning streak, with both wins coming by more than a goal. It's been a well-deserved week of accolades for the team, as everyone besides PJ Stock seems to think they're on the right track. As we all know, this could change rapidly. If the Habs are unable to get any points this weekend, people will jump off the bandwagon faster than Josh Beckett strikes out the side.

The Hurricanes seem to own the Habs the same way the Habs own the Bruins. It's as if something happened during that fateful playoff series a few years ago when the Canes stormed back to beat the Habs and Cam Ward emerged as the elite goaltender he seems to be now. It may even go further back than that.

Eric Staal and company need to be contained and frustrated in order to be beaten. As happy as I've been with the Habs performance so far, I miss Maxim Lapierre. He was just so good at drawing the ire of opposing players, getting them to take bad penalties and take them off of their game. He'll be back, it's just a question of when.

How long can Andrei Kostitsyn sit in the pressbox? He hasn't played in a few games, you'd think he might come out there with something to prove. I'd rather have him in the lineup than Grabovski. His size and hands make him a more viable option than the little German.

It's with a sense of dread that Habs fans approach this weekend, as the city lives and dies with each game. Keep it in perspective: The Canes are quickly showing that they're back to being the elite team that won the Stanley Cup two years ago. There's a lot of firepower in that lineup. The Habs have to stay out of the box and not let them get too comfortable in front of the net.

Bon match.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rumours & Speculation

Since I've nothing new or particularly relevant to talk about, today I'm going to touch on several rumours and questions surrounding the Habs.

Trade talk abounds. Bob Gainey was reportedly at the Rangers-Penguins game last night. Was he scouting the Penguins for Friday night's game? Probably not. Reports indicate the Rangers are interested in moving Petr Prucha. Not sure who they would want in return, but the Rangers are under intense pressure to be a dominant team this year after signing Chris Drury and Scott Gomez to huge contracts in the offseason. Prucha would obviously be an upgrade on Guillaume Latendresse for that second line, but it seems that a deal like that would send the wrong message to emerging young players in the Habs' organization.

The other rumour that's been circulating is equally mind-boggling. It's been reported that a deal with the Oilers has been discussed involving Michael Ryder for Shawn Horcoff. This is a strange deal, the Canadiens seem to have a wealth of centres already, so trading one of our first line wingers for another one seems counterproductive. What would that mean for our lines? Plekanec moving to a wing? To the third line?

If I were in charge of the Canadiens, I would put my faith in the young core of Higgins, Plekanec, Komisarek and Markov, the veteran leadership of Hamrlik, Koivu and Kovalev and of course the goaltending of Cristobal Huet and Carey Price. Unless they can get a huge return for one of the goalies in the minors or a non-roster player. The only guys I consider expendable on the current roster are Guillaume Latendresse, Mikhail Grabovski (who both have tremendous upside) and Mathieu Dandenault.

It would be nice to see Maxim Lapierre back on the team, drawing penalties and being a stitch in the side of opposing players. Another guy who has been impressive for the Hamilton Bulldogs is Sergei Kostitsyn. Andrei's little brother played his junior hockey last year for the London Knights on a line with Sam Gagner and Patrick Kane, who are both having solid starts at the NHL level. Not sure if there's a spot on the Habs for the younger Kostitsyn right now, but as long as he stays patient and continues to develop, the sky's the limit.

It's exciting to watch the Canadiens young talent emerging. Chris Higgins seems to be back at, or better than, his pre-injury form of last season. Tomas Plekanec seems to be adjusting to his linemates and getting comfortable with Kovalev at his side. Mike Komisarek is coming into his own and can now be considered a top-tier defenseman in the Eastern Conference. Latendresse has been much better and playing with great energy since being a healthy scratch.

The veterans have been great too. Koivu and Kovalev are tearing it up. Huet has been the early-season Huet we all know and love. Hamrlik never makes mistakes. He's not flashy, but he gets the job done in a huge way.

The future looks bright, let's not do anything rash.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What a Night

So The Red Sox are in the World Series. The Patriots are the most dominant NFL team I've ever seen. The Bruins started the season 5-2-0 and strutted into the Bell Centre on a four game win streak.

Boston is riding high on sports glory right now, but the Cristobal Huet and the Habs brought their not-so-beloved Bruins back down to earth with a resounding thud. Huet improved to 6-2-0 against the Bruins in his career, kept the Habs in the game early, and then the forwards took over and put on a passing clinic in what ended up as a 6-1 blowout.

The Canadiens were outshot 32-20 in the contest, but that's where the Bruins dominance ended. Marc Savard looked like an angry punk with a big contract, Zdeno Chara looked like Larry Bird on skates and Manny Fernandez stopped 14 of 20 shots. People had been busy jumping on the Bruins bandwagon for the last few days following their convincing win streak, but the team picked to finish last in the East by many of the "experts" was true to form last night, losing to the Habs for the 13th time in their last 17 meetings.

Alex Kovalev was spectacular. Dominating the flow of the game, especially on the power play. Saku Koivu and Tomas Plekanec were winning faceoffs all night. The Canadiens were passing the puck so fast at times that I felt my head spinning just watching them. Brisebois, Grabovski and Steve Begin all scored highlight-reel goals.

Breezer actually had what I consider one of his weaker performances this year, but his teammates picked him up, and all four lines played a great game. This team is scary when they get confident and use their speed. Cristobal Huet is starting to look like the magical guy who led the league in save percentage two years ago and was an Eastern Conference all-star last year. Here's hoping he can keep it up all year. Carey Who?

Just kidding. The Habs have a huge weekend coming up with back-to-back road games against two hungry and gifted teams, the Hurricanes and the Penguins. Expect Carey Price to be in goal for one of the two games.

It's always nice to see the Canadiens win a game that doesn't come down to the last ten seconds. Don't expect too many like that but enjoy them.