So what have we got?

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With five sleeps until the regular-season opener, how are you feeling about your Montreal Canadiens?
Glass half-full?
Half-empty?
Still think they should have kept Halak?

Maybe it’s the afterglow of that splendid win in Quebec City, but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the next 82 (at minimum) games.

Goaltending is solid. Carey Price was Carey Price in his final two exhibition starts. And Peter Budaj can’t possibly be André Racicot, can he? (Hey, what’s with the goalies the Canadiens get from Colorado anyway? Didn’t we suffer enough with David Aebischer?)

The Top Six are bolstered by the recovery of Max Pacioretty, the addition of Erik Cole and the renaissance, it seems, of Scott Gomez. There will be goals, and two shifts worth of time spent in the other team’s end.

You need a good third line to win in the league now, and the Canadiens have interesting possibilities: David Desharnais, Lars Eller once he’s ready, Andrei Kostitsyn once he realizes this is another contract year, maybe Ryan White for some sand, Aaron Palushaj if he sticks.

The fourth line is a concern. The Canadiens have no Chris Neil/Shawn Thornton clones (I’ve given up on Travis Moen becoming one), and Jacques Martin has to hope he can get decent minutes out of some combination of Moen, White, Mathieu Darche, Yannick Weber (who has played himself out of the defence corps), possibly Palushaj and maybe Andreas Engqvist, who is running out of time to prove Pierre Gauthier didn’t err in letting Jeff Halpern get away.

To start the season, the D is performing a Samuel Beckett adaptation: Waiting for Markov.

I liked the pairings against Tampa Bay in Quebec City: Hal Gill providing adult supervision for P.K. Subban, training camp revelation (now that Brendan Gallagher is gone) Raphael Diaz freeing up Jaro Spacek to play the side he prefers, the fully-recovered and courageous team guy Josh Gorges complementing the offensive skills of Chris Campoli, who will be evaluated on Sunday after that nasty head shot by Ryan Malone.

(The Commentariat went bananas with rants about the lack of team toughness. Yeah, let’s start a Bring Back Laraque groundswell. Look, Jacques Martin does not coach that way. And thanks to Sidney Crosby, the NHL is waking up to the necessity of eliminating thuggery.)

The power-play looked great in QC. P.K. is a loaded weapon at the point, and Tomas Plekanec looked better back there. Diaz helps the second wave, but just imagine what the PP will be like when Markov gets back.

Be of good cheer, my brothers and sisters.

Your Montreal Canadiens are undefeated in the 2011-’12 season.

There’s a lot to like about this team, and training camp showed some nice talent in the pipeline, notably Gallagher, Nathan Beaulieu, Michäel Bornival and Jarred Tinordi – all of whom could be in action at the WJC.

Buckle up for a fun ride.

284 Comments

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  2. J.J. of Turku says:

    Hey You all…
    A huge problem in Finland! Help needed!
    ESPN lost it’s rights to show NHL-games. How can I watch them now? I checked the NHL.com’s Center Ice-section and my poor english got me even more confused.
    Do they broadcast every Habs’ game or not? And what does it mean when they say, if the game is televised nationally, You have to wait for 48 hours to watch it? Is it something that concerns only those who live in Northern America?
    Does anyone of you know how to get a list of Habs’ games which NHL.com is going to show live?
    They say, they’ll show 40 games a week. I wonder if it’s enough to broadcast every game from every team, like ESPN did.

    http://media.turku.fi/kamera1.html

  3. ExpoSteve says:

    For all those stating that we need tougher players to avoid these cheap shot hit… Can anyone explain how Nathan Horton got knocked out in the Finals against Vancouver? Seems to me Lucic and Thornton should have kept this from happening…

    Exactly. Unfortunately this is a league issue, not a team issue.

  4. Bripro says:

    I’d like to input on Sal, HB, and Bill J’s earlier discussion on the Wings losing their annual right-of-passage.
    I find it goes in cycles.
    You had the Flyers then Habs in the 70s, Islanders and Oilers in the 80s, Mario’s Penguins in the 90s followed by the Avalanche then the Devils and finally the Wings.
    As we all know, winning teams don’t get the privilege of an early draft selection the following year, unless they’ve traded for it.
    But the bottom dwellers do. So, while they’re floundering in or near last place, they’re drafting the “team of the future”.
    So, five years later, you’ve got a different dominant team, and the previous power houses slowly regress.
    Then you have teams like the Habs, who get a top-10 selection every 6 to 10 years, because they’re always trying to put a competitive team on the ice. So they’re always middle-of-the-pack selectors. Unless they can trade up.
    That doesn’t offer great opportunities at icing a superstar.
    That being said, I think they’re selection of Carey Price was brilliant.
    If he signs long-term, with this league’s new parity, we stand a good chance at watching deep runs at the playoffs.
    HB, you’re absolutely right about teams no longer dominating, but Brodeur showed that you don’t have to, to win.
    With Price, it’s our turn.

  5. cuzzie says:

    Go Bills Go! 10-3

    Stay Thirsty My Friends!

  6. The Dude says:

    I’ve been thinking…….If I was Lucic,Neil,Malone ,Kessler ,Chara etc,and with the way the game of NHL hockey is going with head shot rules and a soft HAbs team ,what would finish off the Habs with one blow?I would” if them ” take out Carey Price”crash the net bigtime” and No one would or could make me reconsider this on Montreals lineup! And that fans would finish it. bada bing bag Boom!

  7. Jonson says:

    who do i have to talk to for people to realize that WEBER is a really good defenceman and should be def in the top six to start the season. none of our dman have had a great preseason why is it they are singling weber out of the group. DID ANYONE WATCH HIM LAST SEASON??? he didnt have one bad game, the guy played his heart and was one of our most consistant dmen. SO BOONE its ridiculous for you to suggest that weber has played himself off the defence corps. i hope martin is smarter than the MEDIA cause its getting really bad . To jump on a guy who has proved that he is a good NHLer with a lot to offer. RDS has beeen on him sense the beginning of the preseason and its not fair at all. its the same situation as streit, no matter how hard the habs tried to convince everyone he wasnt that good he continued to excel whereever they played him. and we lost a #1 dman for nothing. lets not do the same with weber.

    • CanadienBoy says:

      Didn’t Weber score in the playoff only to be bench the next game

      • FishOutOfWater says:

        he scored in 2 of the 3 games he played. all 3 nhl goals he has scored are on tim thomas. i heart yannick

        • neumann103 says:

          If I recall correctly in each of the 2 playoff games he scored, he played fewer minutes than just about anybody else. Something like 7-8 minutes a game.

          On most teams you would just pair him up with a stay at home guy and put them out there as your number two pair.

          I am not too worried about the Habs this season (apart from injuries) but I do worry about wasting Weber and Yemelin in the pressbox or doghouse.

          “Et le but!”

    • Pucknut says:

      Are we talking about Shea or Yannick here?

    • Un Canadien errant says:

      It seems the guy you need to talk to is Jacques Martin. I’m sure he would love Yannick Weber to turn into the defenceman we all imagine he can be, but obviously it’s not happening. He sees him at all practices and games, and he and Mr. Gauthier decided they needed to go out and get Chris Campoli. That should tell us all something.

      We all see Mr. Weber as a shifty offensive defenceman who can polish his defensive skills while getting a regular shift. The experts see something less than that right now.

      ———————-
      How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?

      http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/


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