As the ghosts of the Forum drift closer to the veil on this day of roaming souls and creeping ghouls, it’s a time to be wary of all things otherworldly…the unseen, the spooky and the downright frightening. So, in honour of the occasion, here are my top ten scariest things about this year’s edition of the Habs:
10. Andrei Kostitsyn’s hair. I love AK46 as much as the next fan, but someone’s got to tell him, "Andrei, you have a nice new contract. You can afford to have someone other than Sergei cut your hair."
9. Team discipline. I know the PK went 10-0 last night against Minny, but come on guys! TEN minors? The Habs survived last year with a mediocre PK because they just didn’t take that many dumb penalties…the captain’s Candyass Hook (TM) per game notwithstanding. Koivu took only his first penalty of the year last night…so if Captain Hook can reform, the rest of the team can too.
8. The spectre of an injury to Roman Hamrlik. It was thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightning to see the Hammer leave the ice after the shot to the leg on Tuesday. The idea of losing Hamrlik for a long stretch forced us to ask the nightmare question about who’s able to take his place…and absorb the scary answer that there’s really no one.
7. The Breezer. I firmly vowed not to Breeze-bash this year, because the old guy has his place on the team. But I see Carbonneau giving Brisebois more than he can handle and the inevitable lapses that follow…and the potential for this to bite the team like Dracula haunts me.
6. The head shot on Andrei Kostitsyn. I was at the Phoenix game, and it was no joke that I and 21, 272 others were genuinely frightened. It was an awful hit, whether allowed by the rules or not, and the memories of horrible damage to Patrice Bergeron and Eric Cole loomed much too close for comfort.
5. Big Georges Laraque. He might not have used his special (s)kills much this year, but who wouldn’t be terrified of the guy? He adds an element of pure fear in the opposition the Habs haven’t inspired in a long, long time.
4. The powerplay. So far, the leading PP from the last two years has been a ghost of its former self. I’m not too worried about it yet…it’ll come when Carbo figures out he needs to put Markov back on the left side. But in the meantime, it’s wasting more chances than there are corpses in the Saw movies.
3. Mike Komisarek. The big guy might be making more than his share of own-zone gaffes this year, but he can still make opposition forwards look for clean underwear after he "meets" them on the rush. No one wants to play against him, and that’s Scary-Good. For us.
2. The voodoo doll of Tomas Plekanec someone is holding. The poor guy is skating his heart out, killing penalties and shooting every chance he gets. But he still can’t hit an open net or finish a play…unless it’s straight into the post. You have to expect he’ll break out at some point if he keeps working, but The Mechanic is spinning his wheels right now. It’s his 26th birthday today, so maybe he’ll have a change in his luck as well as his age. In the meantime, if anyone actually comes across a turtlenecked, goateed voodoo doll, please pull the pins out of his eyes and shooting arm. Habs fans everywhere will thank you.
And, the number one scary thing about this year’s Habs:
1. (S)Carey Price. Without a shutout to his credit, the kid still has the top goals-against average in the league, and the third-best save percentage. He’s haunting the nightmares of shooters everywhere while scaring the bejeebus out of coaches who are trying to organize a game plan against him. He’s got to be the best 5-on-3 goalie in the league, and the idea that he’s just going to get better must be terrifying, if you’re the other 29 NHL teams.