Youth movement serves Habs well

The youngsters on the Canadiens are paving the way for a bright future for the club, The Gazette’s Pat Hickey writes today in a look at the team’s highlights and lowlights thus far this season. The Habs return to practice today following a brief New Year’s break and are home tomorrow night to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

56 Comments

  1. likehoy says:

    we are 1 roster spot over I believe. Begin is a fan favorite so he’ll get to play. Smo has a no-movement clause so we can’t do crap with him. So that leaves brisebois…and if he gets sent down to the AHL, that spells the end of his career.

    Though, we are still 3 or 4 weeks away from this situation, lots can change.

  2. mjames says:

    Who says they have to play? Why would you insert players if they will weaken the team? I thought Gainey and carbo were experts.

    mjames

  3. 24 Cups says:

    Hartsburg better plan on giving Tavares and Stamkos plenty of ice time if he expects to get past the Americans. Mason didn’t look that great today so he may want to consider starting Bernier instead.

    The Original 24 Cups

  4. likehoy says:

    I think this Gainey screwed up a bit.

    Gainey envisions the Youth Movement. He wasn’t sure how ready his players were so he went to go sign Smo Kosty and Brisebois. Carbo has proved (through his system) that those 3 players are rather redundant and the youth movement proceeds. Gainey paved the way, but it seems like he lacked some confidence and opted for some cautiousness. Now that’s going to bite us cause we need to move players around when Smo Begin and Brisebois get back.

  5. G-Man says:

    You’re quite right not to consider every prospect a “shoe in.” Along with the Russian players ability to stay home and make big bucks, the Habs future players may already be playing on other NHL clubs. I’ve been harping for a trade for that big #1 center for awhile. I see players like Huet who can be traded for some value, but whether or not Mr. Gainey pulls the trigger depends on a team that can give us a player like that. So, it probably won’t happen. Patience, Pacioretty is 3 seasons away, but where is that center?

    Gilbert

  6. mjames says:

    I watched part of the Canada/Finland junior game. I was hoping to see how this PK Stubban kid played. I am not sure what to make of him as the only action I saw was when he tried to kiss another teammate through the teammate’s cage.

    This should make for an interesting dressing room should he ever make the Habs. Based on what I saw he looks very creative assuming you want him to kiss teammates.

    mjames

  7. yukonhab says:

    To this point, i’m satisfied with the HABS. Were 4th!! Who gives a S#$% if were only 3pts from being 9th?? The future looks bright, it’s a treat to watch the K Bros lightin it up. Price in nets. Higgins/Pleks/ Komi continuing on last yrs success, and Kovy! One good trade and were in for a battle to the finish…..

    HABS RULE!

  8. krob1000 says:

    What sucks most abuot NHL refs is the fact that there are four guys out there and only two of them can make calls. They never confer and often can be seen looking at each other when there is an incident and noone makes the call. I agree that the refereeing is sketchy but it is nowhere near as bad as the NBA and I see your point about sticking tot he rules but the NFL is pretty abd too.

    No, they don’t call it (pass interference) according to the rules as they hardly ever call offensive pass interference or give the defensive player the same rights to the path of the football. The play is just as impactful if it intercepted yet it seems to be a one sided call. I never watch more than one game a week anymore now that I have RDS but I am quite often as frustrated with the NFL refs.

    I understand that human error is to blame but I often wonder if there is more at work (then I snap out of conspiracy mode back to reality…but sometimes it takes a little longer). There are times when the refereeing is so bad it just doesn’t make sense. But….it has been that way at every level I have ever seen so it has to just be human error. I would like to see the same uniformity you would but it will never be perfect.

    Remember all of the times they supposedly were going to get rid of the obstruction, and after 15 games would be back to normal. Now they stay true to form until the playoffs. That is the last hurdle. Other than that I can live with the human error….because I have to.

  9. The Teacher says:

    The refs in NFL call it according to the RULES (doesn’t matter if you think it was pass interference or not)

    NHL just sucks with their referees. pointe final.

    Yes higher glass makes sense.

  10. The Teacher says:

    The refs in NFL call it according to the RULES (doesn’t matter if you think it was pass interference or not)

    NHL just sucks with their referees. pointe final.

    Yes higher glass makes sense.

  11. Robert L says:

    MJames is right, Ovie is a RFA, and yes I’d pass up four first rounders for him in a nonasecond. We wouldn’t draft a player of his like with those picks and the Canadiens can draft good enough beyond the first round to make the gamble worth it.

  12. krob1000 says:

    Washington is a team on the rise and they have a gem in Ncklas Backstrom….he is like a super Plekanec….or dare I say a young Zetterberg. I don’t think even Ovechkin is worth four first round picks to most teams…if any. I do think that he would be attractive to a team like the Habs, the Blackhawks, St. Louis,etc. These teams are all on the way up and would have to concede long term objectives in hopes of short term (3 or 4 years) glory. After that you would see the Lightning effect. I don’t think this would happen and I don’t think Gainey would risk the foundation he has built here for this type of run at things but you have to admit it would be fun while it lasted. If ever there is a time to pull the trigger on a superstar it is next year for us. We still have so many guys who will be affordable and we have great depth at affordable salaries in our youth (provided we sign them and lock them out and don’t risk being victims ourselves).

    It is going to be a very strange offseason now that teams have seen things shaping out. There is stillt ghe deadlin and it will impact a lot of summer decisions but I will go on the record saying there will be some dirty pool played unless the trade deadline becomes extremely active again (with impact players and not just role players).

  13. mjames says:

    I agree. If you traded for Ovechkin you would decimate your team. They would ask for the likes of the two K’s, Higgins, Komi plus a goalie. If you made that deal you would be left with a team full of holes . Let me think a team similar to Washington. Does that make sense ?????. Lastly I do not think he is a UFA. I think he is RFA which means if you sign him you have to give your fist place pick for the next four or five years as compensation. Do you want to do that???.
    mjames

  14. krob1000 says:

    Someone will make the offer if the Caps leave abny time or room for someone to. But, yes, I am not holding my breath as a Habs fan in waiting for Ovechkin but I won’t rule it out either. I’ll ride the fence and that way I can say I was right either way lol.

  15. krob1000 says:

    We probably started the rumour on here!!! Many teams will try and offer Ovechkin the max and the Caps will match unless the trade is a really good one. I am excited for the offseason just to see how things shake out and how GM’s react to the no-trade NHL that has been spawned by the newest CBA. There will be some dirty pool and some interesting decisions out there. I think trades will be more likely at the seasons end because GM’s have time to budget accordingly but the current system seems to be to sign your stars and then fill in holes.

    We have most of our role players being grown on the farm or gaining experience now. It will be fun to see as RFA’s are now looking nearly as attractive as free agents since Kevin Lowe’s Penner heist (who really won that one???I don’t think it was Lowe anyway so no need to hate him). Besides he went after Mr. semi-retirement himself (see Selanne and Niedermayer)

  16. T-roy West says:

    Please enough with that rumour, thats all it is!!!!

  17. krob1000 says:

    A hornets nest to be sure. Everyone has their favourite prospects but I don’t think you are far off if we are realistic. Milroy and Ferland have been all but given up on……maybe Locke too. It was interesting though hat they chose him over the others. He may someday make it because what he does bring to the table is something we don’t have much of. My personal favourite is actually playing in the ECHL and is Thomas Beauregard. I know again he is undersized but the kid can put pucks in the net….you can’t teach that….another reason I always defend a certain you know who (just in case TommyB is scanning and picking out keywords or names lol).

    In the one game I saw Beauregard play during the preseason I really liked they way he carried himself….like a goal scorer. He was ALWAYS ready to shoot. The puck usually didn’t make it to him but if it had his stick was on the ice and we was always playing as if it was coming. That kind of instinct is tough to teach. I think Andrei Kostitsyn has it and a great example was the other night when Pleks got the puck in front of the net and Kostitsyn began turning himself into shooting position although it looked like Pleks would shoot. He didn’t he one touched a beautiful five foot pass and Andrei was ready. Not many guys would have done that….I beleive Beauregard would have. Anyhow I know I am in the minority and to honest that one game is all I have ever seen of Beauregard but it showed me all I need to know.

    He is a point a game guy in his first year of pro hockey and will liely get the call to the Bulldogs next year or maybe even this year ….or so I tell myself. I think our defense prospects are as deep or deepre than ony other team in the league and now that goaltending and defense are somewhat stable this year we are going to go after more raw scoring talent.

    I still think Locke will get a shot somewhere if not here. D’Agostii as well. OF the defenseman you named I see about fiv of those guys being lifers in the Show. Some will disappoint and none appear to be aces but they are all solid…..and you never know with a d-man as they often become more effective offensively playing with better players.

  18. Habs_008 says:

    Sorta off topic, but I heard a rumor that Gainey is going to Offer Oveckin 10 million a year when he is UFA this summer. With our young up and comers if we add Oveckin we can be really dangourous next season. But im sure the Caps will match whaever offer comes his way. Maybe the Caps will think of Trading him here before hand.

  19. krob1000 says:

    NFL??? A penalty is a penalty?? I think the NFL is as guilty as any other sport with their penatlies for Holding, Pass Interference, etc. Oddly enough the Pass Interference is often the most sever penalty int he game and it is so poorly called they should use their damn replay for it. they’ll burn five minutes on a so called important first down in the middle of the field and then there is a sixty yard pass interference call that can be totally wrong. The penalty being called in hockey disrupts the play just as much the infraction itself and does more to take flow out as it pours whatever is flowing into one end. The simple solution is higher glass but when the puck rolls like it did on Ryder the other night and noone is even around that is silly.

    I don’t expect perfection but the high sticks that get missed (or seen and not called??) are something to worry about…not pucks being flipped over the glass. Maybe we don’t need another discretionary call but a warning wouldn’t work either as teams would instruct players to use it every game. The only real solutin is higher glass…yep tthat’s the only solution.

  20. 24 Cups says:

    I think there’s a lot of truth to the statement that the youth movement has served the Habs well. (for discussion sake I don’t consider Pleks, Komisarek, or Higgins to be ‘youths’ in the true sense of Pat Hickey’s article).

    Without jinxing us, I think it’s safe to say that Price, Chipchura, Lats and Andrei K. will be productive Habs for years to come. Sergei K. and Lapierre also have the potential to join that list. It’s still too early to tell with guys like O’Byrne and Georges. Grabovski probably will never be a Hab and will eventually develop with another team. There are only so many roster spots available.

    So when I look at our present roster, I see two gaping holes. A large forward that can hit and score (hopefully a centreman) and a 4th defenseman who can compliment our big three. It would be foolish to think that all our young prospects will become NHL’ers so let’s be conservative and plan on one out of three taking a spot on the Habs and making a meaningful contribution. 4th defenseman? Well one should emerge out of McDonaugh/Emelin/Valentenko. 5th & 6th defensmen? Two of O’Byrne/Carle/Fischer/Georges/Subban/Weber. O’Byrne also has the potential to become a fourth defenseman. If those projections hold true we should be set on defense without having to trade or sign someone. (Boullion and Streit may not even be on the club by then.)

    Adding another large forward who can hit ans score is a much more daunting task. I don’t really envision anyone in Hamilton making the jump and fulfilling that role. Locke, Milroy, Ferland, and D’Agostini all bring something to the table but I don’t see them becoming Habs. Pacioretty is probably our best bet and if he stays healthy, Maxwell is in the mix too. At this point in time, it would appear that Wyman, White, and Conboy are long shots who are also long term development projects as well. I’m going to cheat and also include Perezhogin as a forward who could eventually help us out. So in reality, we probably don’t have that many young forwards (outside the present roster) who match our needs. But as Mr. Hickey stated our youth will serve us well so at some point in time there could be a package deal to land the forward we need. That is an advantage of having built up a stable of young prospects.

    I’m sure I’ve poked a hornet’s nest with my viewpoints and evaluations but regradless we at least have lots of young players in the system as well as on the present roster to help us be competitive for the next few years. With the right tinkering, they could lead us to our 25th Cup. Ultimately, it begins and ends with the development of Carey Price.

    The Original 24 Cups

  21. Odie Clegorn says:

    Happy 2008 everybody!
    Well, the boys exceeded my expectationx on their recent road trip and are to be congratulated for their success on the ice.
    No Ovechkin, Hossa, or Lecavalier…yet; and while we are 6 points behind last year’s pace and the PK isn’t as effectve,who really cares??
    This team’s makeup is way ahead of last year’s in terms of age, enthusiasm, and work ethic. Yes, mistakes will be made as they continue to learn and improve “as a team” so let’s learn to live with that as we move into the second half of the season. My only lingering doubt is whether or not Carbonneau is the right coach/leader/teacher for this particular team. Time will tell.
    Go Habs GO.

  22. The Teacher says:

    I don’t mind them making the glass higher, but totally agree with the rule you can’t dump it over. It keeps the flow of the game going and allows play to continue. The fact that they used to dump it over was the cheapest part of the game and allowed players who weren’t so good to get off the ice faster.

    I agree on the non-calls of all the other penalties. but making it discretionary surely won’t work. After all, most of the calls refs make these days are DISCRETIONARY and I sure don’t want any more discretionary penalties to be called by these crappy refs.

    The NFL does it best. A penalty is a penalty is a penalty. End of story.

  23. krob1000 says:

    Why can’t they just make the glass higher and eliminate the stupid penalty for delay of game ???? I know this was a ploy to increase goal scoring but seriously…there have got to be better ways to do it then that. You see guys higstckied, hit from behind, punched in the head and then they call a penalty for flipping the puck over the glass?? I liked it when it was discretionary. Maybe give teams a warning and then nail them a second time but it really bugs me that obviously accidental ones are called.

  24. The Teacher says:

    I remember seeing a lot of pucks dumped over the glass in years past. Now they can’t do it without getting a penalty.

    Not being able to change lines when icing the puck has cause a lot of our players to be hesitant when getting the puck out instead of using full force.
    Sometimes it is better to ice the puck and not fiddle around in our zone for hours.

  25. G-Man says:

    Definitely a lot of 1/2 full glasses on these posts. Debating our PK is nice to see, especially when the Habs are worse than the league average at it. The rigid box does make a difference, but the style seemed to change because of players like Jagr and Crosby who like to draw players to them on the PP. Frankly, though, I think the main problem has been crappy puck clearing. Weak attempts that are flicked to the line won’t cut it. I remember seeing a lot more slap shots used to clear the zone than mamby pamby one handed backhands. They should stop trying for breakout plays and just clear the bleeping puck.

    Can’t wait for tomorrow night’s Lightning strike. Should be a blast!

    Gilbert

  26. ebk says:

    you are correct, I’d do it in a heartbeat if Washington would be stupid enough to let him go.

  27. Robert L says:

    It was 3 picks, and two of the reasons why they had a hard time recovering was that 1) they only had Stevens for 1 season, and 2) they made a whole wack of other desperate moves that didn’t pan out.

    A year later, Jersey scooped up Stevens ( It cost them Shanahan)and the Devils won 3 Cups on teams build around Stevens and Brodeur.

    It was a great plan, but bad execution by the Blues that made the ploy fail. They didn’t have a bunch of kids already drafted to use a foundation – Montreal does.

    These are entirely different scenarios that don’t really compare.

  28. The Teacher says:

    We’ll agree to disagree with the quality of NFL referees, I believe they are the best of any sport.

    I understand your quabble with offensive pass interference, but I think the offensive player can make every move to receive the ball, so if he bumps him or tries to grab the ball and moves the defensive player’s hand it’s not PI. But I get your point.

    The playoffs in the NHL are a different breed. Obstruction always goes up a tad, and they start calling the games the way they SHOULD be called. They don’t give penalties for idiotiotica like just touching the players waist with your stick. If it obstructs, they call.

    Linesmen have traditionally only called offsides and icings, and high sticks. Maybe they should be allowed to call penalties, such as the back linesman when the puck is in the opposing zone. That linesman is usually at center ice. Two line passes are not called anymore so they lost a responsibility. They should get one back when the puck is in one zone or another. How does that sound?

  29. The Teacher says:

    Gainey wanted to make sure we had enough depth in the youngsters weren’t ready, I agree, so he signed some marginal players (Breezer and Smokey/Kostopoulos)

    Their salaries don’t hurt us much, so I don’t mind having them there in case people get injured, depth is never a bad thing. We can keep everybody up who is up now as people will always be injured, and will have space for the 23 man roster.

    I don’t think there is anyone in Hamilton who DESERVES a shot right now, and/or is good enough to be up here and help us. So I’m lauding Gainey. what a smart man.

  30. ebk says:

    absolutely
    Souray and Rivet are better on the PK than Hamrlik and any of the other defenseman the Habs have at the moment. That is no disrespect to Hamrlik. Just the other Dman struggle badly on the PK.

  31. ebk says:

    excellent post, JT.

    Besides Bonk and Johnson on the PK, the defensive pairing of Souray and Rivet are missed. Both were very physical and won more battles for the puck than they lost. Puck retrieval is vital on the PK and at least in this area, those two were good at it.

    Hamrlik is also very good in this area but whoever has been his defensive partner this year on the PK has not done that as well as the above to mentioned former Habs.

  32. Habsfan39 says:

    I agree, its frustrating now unagressive they are. Other teams are usually set-up in the zone almost instantly. We also lose all the face-offs in our zone too on the PK which hurts.

  33. The Teacher says:

    in 100% agreement over here.

  34. mjames says:

    Are you sure you meant Souray and Rivet?

    mjames

  35. JF says:

    I hadn’t realized we’re actually 6 points behind where we were this time last season. But this time last season we had started our fall. Problems that our great start had concealed or allowed us to overlook suddenly began to loom large, and as the fall gathered momentum, confidence evaporated and the team basically fell apart. I’m pretty sure that won’t happen this year. We hit a bad patch in December which cost us quite a few points, but I’m in hopes that the problems were addressed and that the solutions will stick. And yes, a large part of the solution is the kids. Their determination to prove their worth and their excellent contribution seem to have infused a new dose of confidence and self-belief into the veterans. The team is still fragile, as witness our inability to defend a one-goal lead or to come from behind, likewise our tendency to lose confidence if we get off to a bad start, but I think the kind of total collapse we saw last year is unlikely. Strength and confidence, toughness and a winning attitude, are being built, and the team is better than it was in October; whereas last year’s team showed itself to be much less good than it looked at the beginning of the season.

  36. mrstewart61 says:

    Even though we have fewer points than last year at this time, there is the difference of more parity this season. The standings are so bunched up. Now if only we could win more at home!

  37. Jay_in_PA says:

    I think that’s right. This is a better team than last year’s edition, with maturing youth, a better defensive squad, and fewer distraction (Ryder is not Samsonov, thank goodness). Each team has its ups and downs, and we had a depressing streak there in the latter half of November, but the team has come out of it with relatively few exposed flaws.

    I still hate the games where the team doesn’t show up, or gets taken to school by the Detroits and Ottawas of the league, and that leads me to question the quality of the coaching staff, but I can accept that the team is still building, and not quite to the elite point yet.

    If Saku can avoid sneezing on his teammates, we should continue to get better. Last year’s edition didn’t ever get better–it merely hung on and hoped for the best.

  38. coutNY says:

    Seems we weren’t the only ones that could not get our former thorn in the side, to pick up his game. Thank god Gainey was able to relieve ourselves from the burden of Samsonov!

  39. mrstewart61 says:

    Pat Hickey suggests our PK is poor due to the injuries to Begin and Smolinski, however, it was poor before they went down. I don’t think they are as aggressive as last year. Also, I’m amazed how many times someone has control of the puck but cannot clear the zone.

  40. JF says:

    I agree, their zone clearance is poor. Last year their aggressive penalty-killing resulted in a lot of short-handed goals, which isn’t the case this year. We have a couple, but few short-handed breaks.

  41. Robert L says:

    Begin will help the PK, but if Smolinski’s return bumps Lapierre, Chipchura, or S Kostitsyn from the lineup, I will spit nails!

    I’m not all that sold on the spin that the Habs had a great road trip and that 8 of 12 points was a success. Hell, we won the 3 games we should have! We blew 2 and “settled” for OT loss points, and got embarrassed in Dallas. It is only in comparing it past Christmas road swings that it looks good.

    If the Habs themselves are satisfied with this, and believe the spin that is put upon it, we might be headed down the same trail as last season.

    Are The Canadiens Preparing To Fool Us Again?

    http://wwwrealitycheckeyesontheprize.blogspot.com/2008/01/are-canadiens-preparing-to-fool-us.html

  42. J.T. says:

    I agree the basic philosophy of penalty killing is different throughout the team this year. Last year they were very aggressive, using their mobility to move fluidly within the box and force the puckhandler into quick…often poor…decisions that led to interceptions in many cases. This year, they’re playing a much more rigid box, lying back and allowing the opponent to set up the attack. They’re trying to block passing lanes rather than force the puckhandler, and as a result, the opposition spends a lot more time in the Habs’ zone with more opportunity to set up the perfect scoring play. And, when the Habs do intercept the puck, they try to get rid of it as quickly as possible, which is forcing *them* into giveaways and failed zone clearances.

    Lapierre is one of the few guys still playing last year’s PK style after the departure of Bonk and Johnson, which is why it’s looked a little better lately (Dallas game and their four PP goals notwithstanding.) Higgins, Koivu and Pleks are good PKers too, but they’re not seeing as much time on the PK as they did last year…partly because those guys are doing more of the even-strength and PP shifts. And the guys who specialize in penalty-killing in their stead, like Smolinski and Kostopoulos, aren’t as good as last year’s guys at playing that aggressive style.

  43. coutNY says:

    It seems they’re finding some momentum in the PK area… Higgins was millimeters away from one the other night. Lapierre on the unit, we seem have added a quickness to more stimulate an aggresiveness as of late.

    I think what differs from last year is some of our 2-way players like Plekanic & Higgins’s time on the PK have been limited because of their extented role in the Even-strenght and PP units. Their time has been given to role players like Kostopolus and Dandenault whom have speed, but lack the stick handling capabilities to generate a threat offensively in short-handed situations.

  44. Xtrahabsfan says:

    We need to move either ,Smoke,Ryder,Dandy and Huet or even better,all to get some badly needed size for a proper attempt at a playoff run or we are going to get beat up bad!!!

  45. N.B.habs fan says:

    This reminds me of the last time they won the cup.They called up the young players from Fredericton.Hope this is a good sign of great things to come.

  46. habs-13 says:

    I’m starting to like the look of this team. We may not be the young Pittsburgh Penguins where they have 100 point-getters, but we are backed by steady goaltending and some decent defensive play. Although are defence has let up since the start of the year. Plekanec is starting to look more and more like he will be Koivu succersor unless we find someone bigger and better than him. He is showing some amazing playmaking abilities. The Kostitsyn’s have been on a tear lately and Latendresse is starting to hang around the net and use his size to score goals. Higgins-Lapierre-Ryder have impressed me. Their not scoring most of our goals or anything like that, but they are working as a unit with the odd scoring chance. If Ryder was in last years form, we would have 3 good scoring lines, there is no doubt in my mind. O’Byrne has been hitting more lately, he still has the occasional screw up in our end, but that is to be expected with a young defenceman. Too bad too see him go down.

    Don’t forget we have many more young talented players waiting.

  47. Derek2 says:

    I would agree on the road trip assessment. If we had not blown the game to the Rangers (and the 2 points we really needed) I would have said good road trip. Now both the Penguins and the Rangers are just 1 point behind. One or two losses and we will be below the playoff line just like that.

  48. habitual says:

    Hey you guys, what will it take to make you happy? At the beginning of the season there wasn’t one hockey “expert” who predicted the Habs would make the playoffs. Yes, the team is in a dog fight and the standings are tighter than Stephen Harper’s smile but we are in 4th place doing better than other supposedly better teams.

    As for grousing about the road record, well, the Habs didn’t design the assinine system the NHL has, they just play it. You’re not satisfied with 8 out of 12 points – .666, and overall one of the best road records?

    Yes, Les Boys need to play better at home, and yes the PK needs to be better. But be honest, did any one of us expect the team to be where they are, the PP to be #1, players we can call up from Hamilton that make a difference and the young players solidly on the team showing so much so early?

  49. J.T. says:

    I’m not worried…yet. If they come out with a poor effort against Tampa and Washington at home, then I’ll start to sweat.

    I learned last year not to ignore the warning signs just because the team is going fairly well. Last year the warnings were weak five-on-five play, lack of discipline, failing to beat weaker teams and disappearing for whole periods of nearly every game. Most of us pretended not to see those warnings because, hey, the team was 21-8-3 before Christmas. But, sure enough, when the PP cooled, even-strength play was bad enough to cost them games. They took way too many penalties and would get behind in nearly every game because they didn’t play entire periods…which cost them more games. They blew still more games against teams they should have beaten, like Florida. This year the warning signs are the weak PK, poor efforts at home, failure to either come back from a deficit or hold a one-goal lead and a rotten faceoff record which costs them a lot in terms of puck possession.

    I don’t believe any of those weaknesses are unfixable, or that the coaches aren’t working on those very issues. But until I see some strong home games, an improved PP and faceoff percentage and the ability to finish off an opponent, I’ll have a little doubt in the back of my mind that the Habs are going to ride their current position to a playoff spot.

  50. krob1000 says:

    I think the entire season is going to be a nailbiting rollercoaster ride. There is only one team in the eastern Conference that stands above the rest…..and they can’t beat the Capitals. The parity the league wanted is there and the warning factors you point out are definitely of concern. The rose coloured glasses I always sport though say that every other team in the conference has as many if not more issues and concerns. I think Carolina is a better team than their record shows and will emerge as a top tier team by seasons end. Aside from that we are as good as anyone else in the conference so whether or not we make it may in fact come down to the attention to details ver the course of the season.

    The PK is fixable in my mind as long as we use Higgins a little more and we get Begin beck (the fast Begin or he won’t help). The five on five seems to be improving now that their is more offensive talent in the lineup and it is being spread out evenly. The faceoffs……need to improve immediately. The leads and coming back…I am not so concerned about as I believe that to be largely coincidence combined with the necessary leaning curve to learn a defensive late game system.

    The teams that make the playoffs this year will be the teams who nit pick and eliminate the most mistakes from their game. Details are more important now than ever and I think that is why the Senators and Red Wings are still at the top of the heap as they have been preaching this stuff for years. The home games thing is bothersome. We do have a young team right now and the vets that we have have all come under fire from the media and fans in the last year or two. They are tentative but I expect to see a very upbeat crowd welcoming the boys home from a great road trip and I think that might help. People can go on and on about how the crowd shouldn’t affect guys and that they are professionals, blah, blah, blah. They are also impressionalbe young men with real lives and families. To think that 20,000 supposed fans booing them doesn’t affect these guys is stupid. Of course it does.

    A couple big wins at home and hopefully the boobirds will fly south for the winter.

  51. mrstewart61 says:

    Begin’s shot blocking prowess is definitely an advantage on the PK.

  52. habitual says:

    Agreed, there are things to work at. And I also agree with Krob1000 that this season is going to be a nail biter, so we all will need to keep the anti-persperant handy.

    But J.T., every team (except Detroit, it seems) has a list of things they need to be working on. Last year we were desperate for 5 on 5 scoring, this year, better. Last year – 29 as a team (woof!!) I think that is the most telling statistic a team has. This year, – 1.

    This year is not last year. There is more depth throughout the line up. I believe it was you, J.T. who made the great observation that the $$ saved on not signing Briere translated into Hamrlyk. The bonus is not just Hamrlyk (hope I’m not butchering his name), it is the stability he brings to whomever his partner is – so two sets of D who are solid.

    It seems like they broke your heart last year. Pencil this year as Valentine’s Day for you!

  53. The Teacher says:

    I didn’t agree with any of the hockey ‘experts’ I thought they were numbskulls for predicting us to finish that low.

  54. J.T. says:

    Well…they’ve broken my heart lots of times. But I patch it up and come back for more every time. :)

    I agree the Habs aren’t the only team that needs to work on some things to get better. But if the Habs are to separate themselves from the riff-raff that is most of the NHL these days, they’re actually going to have to *fix* their issues…not just work on them. That’s how you get to be a Detroit.

    And I stand by my statement of relief on not getting Briere. Ovechkin now…that’s another matter!

  55. RetroMikey says:

    We are starting to show results slowly when Bob Gainey took over as GM with the aid of Andre Savard, Trevor Timmins and others in the scouting staff.
    I would like to see us get a nice big offensive centreman to compliment our team. I would not miss Boullion, Dandeneault, Ryder, Smolinski, Begin if they were sent along in a package to get the player we need.
    What concerns me most is that the younger guys (I call them the Pepsi Generation players) have to hustle game in and out 100% every game. Poster boy Lapierre is one that is an enigmatic player to me. Hot one game and cold the next. He must step it up if he is to be a calibre NHL player, and not play when he feels like it. Thank heaven Guy Carbonneau is the coach and we are starting to watch and observe that this is his team and if you don’t play to his standards, he makes the decsiions who plays and who doesn’t. Way to go Guy!

    “We will win the Cup only with Carey Price in the nets”

  56. Habs-Kat says:

    Interesting fact that, I think, proves that we’re a better team than we were last year. Our average goals for/game is exactly the same as it was last year (2.92), but our goals against this year is 2.67 as opposed to last year’s 3.06.


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