BUILT FOR SPEED

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:
-Plekanec
-Sergei & Andrei Kostitsyn
-Higgins
-Koivu
-Grabovski
-Streit
-Etc.
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:

FINAL FOUR

EAST: MONTREAL-NYR
WEST: DALLAS-ANAHEIM

STANLEY CUP FINALS
MONTREAL-DALLAS

2007-2008 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS: MONTREAL

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,

Cheers!