For most of the 2007-2008 season, the Habs had one problem with the team: DID NOT HAVE AN IDENTITY…
1. Were they simply a skilled team with little toughness?
2. One dimensional (depend heavily on their powerplay)?
3. Defensive experts?
4. Etc.

Some will argue all of the above… I think that they finally found their I.D.: SPEED! I think the call up of Gravboski cemented that identity with the Habs. If you are a coach on the opposite team these days, it is somewhat overwhelming to see these names:
-Sergei & Andrei Kostitsyn
Even Lapierre is finally showing some speed the past few games.

I think that the coaching staff finally realized that they won’t beat teams with their touhness or their skill and cannot depend on the PP to win every game or have the starting goalie be the first star of each game. Effectively using the team speed is creating numerous scoring chances and they are finally seeing the fruits of their labour! In the past few weeks, Ryder got a 3 points game (vs Rangers); Higgins 3 points game (vs Atlanta); Plekanec 3 goals game & Kovalev 4 assists (vs Buffalo).

Granted, Pleky scored his goals on the PP. However, Streit scored an awsome goal against Buffalo on a great back-handed feed by Grabovski, whom had outskated his defender(s) to make the play.

I must admit, earlier in the season (Oct.-Nov) I was a Grabovski basher… I stated that he reminded me of Perezhogin! However, Grabs seems to be an even faster skater (sometimes too fast) and a much better passer.

If the Habs stay healthy the rest of the season, not only will they make the playoffs, I strongly believe they can make some serious damage and go all the way! As most “experts” have concluded, the East is wide open. Ottawa’s play has gone south the past few weeks (1 goal in 3 games!); NJ is an enigma; Pittsburgh gave up too much for Hossa (which should hurt them in the long run); etc. Montreal can very well be the hottest, most consistent team heading into the playoffs and have an excellent chance of facing off against Boston in the first round, a team we haven’t lost to all year (not to mention we have their # in the playoffs).

Here are my bold predictions for the playoffs:





Since the East is wide open, I think that Big-Name teams such as NJ, Pittsburgh, Ottawa will all fall in the first two rounds. Consequently, Montreal will have a relatively easy ride into the finals, similar to 1993. As for Dallas, they are in a much tougher conference, defending against powerhouse teams like Anaheim, Detroit, San Jose, Calgary. By the time they reach the finals against the Habs, they won’t have much juice left in the tank.

Who do you think will be the final four teams? Does Montreal have a chance this year?

Thanks for reading,


164 Responses to BUILT FOR SPEED

  1. MTL_HABS_24 says:

    We had Tucker on our team in the past (I hated him then and I still do) and I wouldn't want him back now.  He's a paper tiger and a 1-trick pony (can't skate, make a pass, back check or give an effective hit without falling down).  Whatever "scoring touch" he had has slowly left him and he no longer plays the way he did when he had Domi and Belak backing him up.  His career is over and the NHL will be better for it.  Anyone who things he would be a good addition either hasn't been watching him lately, or is a Leafs fan.

  2. MTL_HABS_24 says:

    As complete and accurate an analysis as I've seen of our Habs.  You, sir, have an eye for detail and you have described the team's strengths to a "T".
    Your assessment that "The sum is greater than its parts" is nothing short of genius which is more than I can say for those "experts" who had the Habs ranked as low as 14th in the conference. 
    Underestimating your opponent is a fatal mistake and this year more than a handful of teams have taken Montreal lightly and paid the price for their mistake.
    It's nice to see SO many people having second helpings of crow.

  3. MTL_HABS_24 says:

    The Leafs aren't making the playoffs, so the point is moot.

  4. leafy says:

    Archion, good for you for saying that.  Nothing wrong with liking another team out of respect for their skill.  Unlike some of the venom that we see so often on this site on a daily basis, it's refreshing.  I'm proud of you. Hahaha!

  5. leafy says:

    I told you guys Washington is trouble.  That's one team I definitely would not want to face in the 1st round.  If they make the playoffs, look out!!!  They can beat any team in the East.  ANY TEAM!

  6. sudzy93 says:

    I have to agree that the habs look really strong in a wide open east.  The have a fast and skilled team with what should be strong goaltending.  Reaching the stanley cup would surprise me for sure.

    The habs are missing a lot of pieces for a cup run but maybe a final is not out of reach.  They don't have a checking line which every cup team needs.  They might rely on one line too much but they have other that are capable of steping up.  They don't have a canadian captain which every team (except dalls "hatcher") needs.  I and I m sure they couldn't win a 7 game series against a gritty team.  Philly has been pretty bad lately, and when they r healthy are a very tough and maybe even violent team to play against.

    Cup champs? I think it's a long shot.  Could you see the habs beating the ducks in a 7 game series.  They would get beat up worse than the sens last year.  I very skilled team they are, definetly not tough enough.

  7. nyrfan1369 says:

    i mean it woulda been smarter to keep there future, cus they can keep all there young talents now, there putting all there eggs in one basket here and crosby and hossa arent even playing, they need some chemistry b4 the playoffs. anyways they woulda had such a good future

  8. LeafsNation91 says:

    True, but all you need is one egg into the basket. You can build around that one egg which Pittsburg is trying to do. They still have young talent and still talented so i would not worry. Hossa and Corsby need to practice together so they can learn how to mesh together and become a dynamic duo. Their is no way you can break up the Malkin/Malone line, to risky is my beleif. You would then have to start all over.

  9. morrissey says:

    Philly & Boston have not won a game against the Habs this year. They've tried to play gritty, gotten beaten by speed, taken penalties and were burnt on the powerplay.

    Fact: Montreal is among the league leaders in body checks. they may be smaller but they are aggressive and physical.

    Montreal is #1 in the East for many reasons.

  10. morrissey says:

    I agree, the two teams I'd rather avoid facing are Washington and NJ. I like the Habs against any other team in the East.

  11. percussio says:

    The Habs beat Philly in ALL 4 GAMES this season.

    Every time they tried to intimidate them by playing gritty or getting physical, the Habs have stepped up, either by scoring or by responding physically.

    The thing people are always looking for is a goon and since we dont have one they automatically assume that we need grit.

    Each player on that team has grit and they display it when they need to.
    No one stands out so no one takes them seriously.

    Tough … we have plenty of toughness on this team, thats the last thing Im worried about. If people look in the right direction, they'll see the Habs have exactly enough grit to do the job. It doesnt define them but they know when its time to step it up.

  12. Rico420 says:

    Hey man in 2003 did anyone of us pick the Mighty Ducks to go to the finals?

  13. LeafsNation91 says:

    Good points Morrissey, but I just wonder the fact that gritty teams like the Flyers and Bruins have major holes in the teams, for example, Boston is a good grit team, but no real scorers.

    What happens when the Habs faces a team like Anaheim, Minnessota, and other West teams that seem to have the complete package? How would they last in a 7 game series with a team that has D, Scoring, GRIT, speed, amazing goaltending. If they added a gritty scorer like a Handzus or a Peca at the deadline, I would deffinetley see the Habs going all the way. We will just wait and see.

  14. morrissey says:

    Lol well any team that's got "D, Scoring, GRIT, speed, amazing goaltending" is obviously a cup favorite but aside from Anaheim, I don't think any other teams are any more complete than Montreal really. We've seen lots of supposed great teams like Ottawa, Detroit, Phily etc go on major multi game losing streaks this year looking very vulnerable indeed.

    You can fault Montreal for grit, but I'll fault SJ for scoring, Ottawa for goaltending and depth, Detroit for goaltending and age, NJ for scoring, Pittsburgh for defense etc etc. I really think that aside from Anaheim it's anyone's game – honorable mention to Dallas though, Richards is a major addition and exactly what they needed – that deal made a lot more sense than Pittsburgh adding scoring.

  15. habs_punk says:

    I'd be scared of New Jersey because of Marty Brodeur. He is the ultimate Hab killer. I don't know if there is another player in the NHL that consistently kicks Montreal's ass as much as he does. Yes Montreal won the last one, but wins against Jersey have largely been the exception and not the rule.

  16. Rico420 says:

    What about the Caps??

  17. BruMagnus says:

    Can I just say that Carey Price displayed one of the sorriest performances in goal I've ever seen tonight… I mean seriously… that goal from the blue line looked worse than the Lidstrom goal on Cloutier in the playoffs…

    If THIS is the guy Habs fans are relying on… good luck!!

    So, after the Ty Conklin bashing we've had total shit games by the likes of: Luongo, Niittymaki, Tim Thomas, Price, Lundqvist…

    it happens to almost every goalie not named Brodeur or Nabokov (and maybe Giguere)…. but if I were a Habs fan I'd be very very worried…

    The Habs fought hard to come back not once, not twice, but thrice from a one-goal deficit, just to have their very green rookie goalie give up the saddest goal and destroy his team's heart… so sad…

  18. BruMagnus says:

    Montreal has a slim chance at the Final Four, and no chance at the Cup with their weak, inexperienced goaltending and their inexperienced team.

    I do think the Rangers may be able to squeak out a Final Four, but I still wouldn't count out the Senators and especially not the Devils.

  19. BruMagnus says:

    LOL. And as I write this the Bruins have lost 10-2 to the Capitals!

    But yes, Boston is still my darkhorse from the East. You hear almost nothing talked about them.

    If it wasn't for Lidstrom, I think Chara wins the Norris this year.

  20. muckies says:

    you think that was bad goaltending, just watch an Ottawa game and you'll see bad goaltending. 

  21. BruMagnus says:

    wtf… you're sounding like me now! except you don't get ripped into for making very clear, valid, easy to understand intelligent points…

    good job! keep it up!

  22. BruMagnus says:

    Price hasn't wowed anyone either, even in the regular season in the NHL. And he looked absolutely atrocious in the 6-4 loss to the Sharks… simply atrocious! No chance you're getting past the first round if he plays like that!

  23. BruMagnus says:

    Excellent points.

    It's why I'm glad the Pens have Laraque and even Hal Gill…

    Check out Boogaard vs Laraque's fight from last year… just disgusting!!
    4 inches and almost 30 pounds smaller, and physically outmuscles him (PS, this was with Phoenix, not Pittsburgh)

  24. BruMagnus says:

    Why do you think the Pens managed to win the game where they were up 3-1, then the Habs made in 4-3, but the Pens game back and won 5-4… IN REGULATION….

    I'm seriously curious. Is it simply because we are better and don't get disheartened when we are down or when our goalie lets in a crappy goal (like Price tonight after you came back 3 times in a row down a goal)??

  25. BruMagnus says:

    Wow… regret saying that now???

    SJ just scored 6 goals against the Habs… and this by a team that is notorious for not scoring a lot… sure says a lot about your crap-ass goaltender Price… simply pathetic goals he let in, and not just that one from the Blue Line that made Cloutier look good!

  26. BruMagnus says:

    Price has been phenomenal!! hahaha. Don't make me laugh! Obviously you didn't watch him against SJ!

  27. BruMagnus says:

    Pittsburgh is #1 in the East for many reasons.

    The Habs are #2 and won't see the top spot again this year, or ever in the Crosby future.

  28. BruMagnus says:

    I agree underestimating your opponent is fatal. That's what the Pens didn't do when they came back down 4-3 to beat the Habs 5-4 in regulation. So far, those 2 regulation points and 0 for Habs are what's separating the two teams.

  29. percussio says:

    Price wasnt the only one to blame in last nights game though.
    Komisarek got beat twice one-on-one and had an overall loust game. Markov as well and these guys are usually stellar performers.

    Smolinski looked like a clown out there rather than a veteran. He was the author of one of San Joses goals by crashing into Price !

    Both teams were visibly tired as it wasnt a very good hockey game to watch but the refs certainly didnt make it any better and thats for both teams.

    The flagarant interference when a Sharks player purposely crashed into Price or when I think it was Cheechoo gets a penalty for hooking when Komisarek was hacking away at him like a lumberjack !

    As far as Price goes, its 1 game. Conklin lost 2 and Fleury looked horrible on those 2 goals he let in but Pens  fans were still defending him.

    Im not worried at all but congrats to the Penguins for being first in the east.

  30. BruMagnus says:

    I agree. I was angry when the Pens traded him, but getting Laraque has been great for the Pens' "safety".

  31. BruMagnus says:

    Pathetic lafleur10… you ACTUALLY gave a win to the Leafs!!

  32. BruMagnus says:

    woah. don't put words in my mouth.

    I think we have a team with the possibility to do so, just as I think many teams do. I think we have huge holes on Defense, mainly toughness and well.. defensive skill… I do like our goaltending, especially in comparison to most of the lackluster goaltending in the East (example Price today in his abysmal 6-4 loss; Lundqvist in his brutal 1st period against Philly; Tim Thomas and his 10 goals against, or 7 or whatever he was in net for; all the Flyers goaltenders; the Emery/Gerber debauchery)… I really only like Brodeur and maybe Cam Ward (and still Lundqvist, though he's shown he's just as fallible as the next guy).

    I do think the West has stronger elite teams, but lots of that has to do with beating the heck outta really pathetic Western teams. As my article said, the Pens have had no troubles against the West. Our only loses were to the Avalanche (we were up 2-0 on goals by Sid until a 2nd period letdown, losing by one in regulation 3-2) and to the Sharks in a shootout (a 1-1 game going into the shootout). Now compare that to the atrocious 6-4 game the Habs just had.. late in the season when it's far more an indication of how a team may play playoff time… I mean we held them to one goal, which isn't surprising given their poor offense, but played their game just fine. remember there's no shootout in the playoffs… the Habs got decimated by 6 goals today.. Price looked atrocious… So ya, i think we have a good shot, but I still think the Devils and even slumping Sens are the teams to beat.

  33. BruMagnus says:

    They should start asking me who will make the playoffs. I have a better record than those same so-called idiots, I mean experts.

    I'm sorry to say but my 3rd year running prediction of the Leafs failing to make it is soon going to be proven correct again as well… I'll wait until the off-season to see what moves they make, but their future ain't looking bright for a while… they should really tank and try to get a Top 5 pick.

  34. BruMagnus says:

    I'm right there with you.
    The Devils are the only team that truly frightens me and it is precisely because of Brodeur. Although I think this year we may have the firepower to overwhelm him at last!

  35. BruMagnus says:

    The Pens have done the exact same as you just wrote for the Habs, except moreso given the injury to Crosby and Fleury… seriously, imagine if the Habs' season relied on Conklin…. with no Kovalev and Plekanec…. seriously, do you think you'd be in 1st in the East like the Pens currently are?

  36. BruMagnus says:

    So, who was the moron who said the Habs would, I quote, "easily take 6 out of 8 points on their 4 game Western trip"??

    That's 0 out of 2 already, needing 3 straight wins to make that prediction hold up.. sure showed a lot today and why the Habs have little chance of winning not only the Cup, or the East, but even one round…

  37. BruMagnus says:

    I couldn't disagree more with you.

    The Pens are something like 10-2 against the Caps since AO and Crosby joined the League, and 10-1 with Crosby. They lost that one game in a 6-5 shootout game 2 games after Sid's injury this year. With him in the lineup, given his competition against AO, it's an easy win.

    The true test of how far the Caps have come since then (including the trade deadline) will be this Sunday IF Crosby and Hossa are back yet… if not, it's still little more than Malkin vs Oveckin, which is still fantastic to have the two active best players in the League heads up, but it fails in comparison to having the three best players in the NHL in one game… with Hossa to boot for the Pens…

    I'd love to play and sweep the Caps first round, it'd be just like the 90s (except the sweep part)…

    What I'd love to see is a Huet-led Caps vs the Habs!!! Now THAT would be interesting. Huet vs Price…

  38. BruMagnus says:

    I'm also very surprised, especially as I admitted to liking the Habs as well… (along with Detroit, Colorado and Columbus)… strange archion is these days.. a far far cry from the man that got banned.

    good for him! he has shown that people can indeed mature and learn.

  39. BruMagnus says:

    They won't win their division, so they'll have to legitimately get there in the actual 8th seed… meaning three of NYI, Philly, Buffalo (and even NYR and maybe Boston) will have to slide and let the Caps take them over… which I don't see happening…

    I think the Canes will yet win their division.. but there is still plenty of hockey left in these next 30+ days.

  40. BruMagnus says:

    LOL. good point

  41. BruMagnus says:

    No, he wasn't the only one to blame… which is even worse for Habs fans… If he was the only one to blame, then you know you only have one problem… but I mean that goal by against Price was disgusting.. seriously reminded me of Cloutier in the playoffs against Detroit…

    You point out all the many many numerous problems/holes with the Habs and a reason I don't think they can win.

    Even though Fleury looked bad on the first goal (the second goal is scored in virtually every game on every goalie, including Brodeur, when people crash the net) he played solid most of the game, and more importantly, AS A TEAM, they won. Hal Gill, not Conklin, cost us the other games with his pathetic man-marking… we TRULY need Rob Scuderi back!!

  42. BruMagnus says:

    Luongo lets in those types of goals all the time, and Canucks fans defend them too. The thing is, if you have a goalie that is usually good, giving up one bad goal is OK, because the TEAM can rebound around him, and/or the goalie can get angry at himself and come back stronger…

    and yes, it is only one game… or 2, whatever….. Conklin STILL has the League's best SV% by a whole .005 (three tied for 2nd at .922)

    Let's quickly compare Price and Conklin. Remember, Price plays on a offensively superior team (stats-wise).

    Conklin 1st in NHL with .927 sv% (down from .933 because of those two bad games, but still first)
    Price 18th with .911 sv%

    (hell I'll throw in Sabourin and even Fleury, despite the fact that the Pens were 8-11 to start the season and only started to turn it around in the 5 games, and wins by Fleury, before the Flower got injured)

    Sabourin and Fleury tied for 30th with .904

    Conklin dropped huge with those two losses to a meager 2.37 (from 2.19), still good for 11th in the NHL
    Price is 31st with 2.78
    Sabourin actually beats him in 29th with 2.75
    and Fleury (remember the terrible Pens' start with guys like Recchi and Armstrong and Christensen scratched for 6-7 games a piece) 35th with 2.85

    Price has played 30 games and is 15-10-3
    Conklin has played 29 games and is 17-6-5

    The stats speak for themselves. Conklin tools on Price in every category. Fleury will soon pass Price, and had he been playing instead of Conklin would have already. That pisspoor Penguins start really screwed his stats.
    Sabourin is so so but comparable to Price.

  43. BruMagnus says:

    oh and lets throw in Huet too:
    in 41 games: 23-12-6, with a 2.50GAA (better than Price over more games) and a .917 sv% (also better than Price)

  44. leafy says:

    Bru, you're overlooking one major thing: The Caps have started to play well only recently.  Before December, they were swimming near the bottom of the league over the past few years.  Of course Pittsburgh is going to have a great record against them.  But look at how they're playing NOW!  And it's not just Ovechkin.  They've got some really good young players coming into their own all of a sudden.  They could be really dangerous in the spring.

  45. BroMagnus says:

    The sad thing is that Montreal is an original 6 team. And they have a crappy history!   what do they have 3 cups in 100 years!

    Penguins have 2 cups in way less time and are almost 100% going to win it this year now that we have Hossa!
    That will be 3 cups for penguins   3 cups for canadiens!   and in way less years!  Plus canadiens never had any superstars like mario lemieux, jaromir jagr, robert lang, or martin straka!
    Canadiens had patrick roy then gave him away, and they john leclair! Thats quite the history habs fans!!
    Sucks to be you! BruMagnus is laughing at all of you now…..
  46. Vinnypleasecomehome says:

    Should I reply to this? What's going on here? someone explain me this fool's comment? I'm confused. This must be a joke.

  47. habs_punk says:

    You conveniently wait for him to have a bad game. Where was this comment yesterday after he had won all three games since the Huet trade only giving up four goals? And I'm guessing you don't watch much TSN if you're saying he hasn't wowed anyone, Bob McKenzie mentioned that he could have been the possible favorite for the Calder if he had have played more games earlier in the season. He's wowing plenty of people. He had a bad game (in which the referees allowed the Sharks free reign in his crease), but it is the same as we've seen from him all year. He's had the occasional bad game surrounded by stellar performances. You really shouldn't be criticizing another team's goalie when you've got Conklin and Fleury back there. They're playing fine now, but history is definitely against them.

  48. habs_punk says:

    The Pens are in first because of Conklin playing WAY above his head. I don't think there is a single person in the hockey world, other than maybe Conklin's parents, that think he will be able to keep that up much longer. I'm absolutely stunned about it. With the firepower that the Pens have, they're pretty much unstoppable when they get goaltending like that. It just isn't going to last. They're going to end up in the playoffs trying to outscore teams 6-5 every night. And with the firepower they have, that isn't entirely impossible, even in the playoffs. If they make it to the finals though, I think they'll be in a world of trouble playing that way against Detroit, Dallas, or Anaheim. Anyone else and they should be fine.
    Oh, and I guess part of the reason the Pens are so high up the standings has to be Malkin's play. Everyone was expecting him to be an amazing secondary scorer, but where the hell did this come from? Crosby goes down to injury, and by the time he comes back, Malkin's second in league scoring. Unreal.

  49. Vinnypleasecomehome says:

    That's not what Al Strachan says.

  50. paulieplatypus says:

    When I got home last night I was able to catch about the last half of the game against SJ and what a game it was!  As a Rangers fan I'm clearly rooting for SJ to win the game and I'm glad they did, now.  But it's really difficult to go against Montreal.  I found myself hoping the Canadiens would tie the game up, just so I could see the two teams play some more hockey.  I really enjoyed watching your teams style last night…  The NHL surly needs teams like yours to counter the tight defensive style of play several much less exciting teams play.  That is if the NHL hopes to continue to increase revenue and the salary cap each year.   

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