Canadiens Review, 6 Games In

Early on Montreal could perhaps be called a pleasant surprise. They have looked much better than most people expected, myself included. Here is my analysis of the Habs six game into the season…

A quick review of what ahs happened so far. Montreal opened the season in Carolina with an impressive 3-2 overtime win in which they could have won by several goals if not for stupid penalties. Saku Koivu netted 2 goals including the game winner en route to the win.
Montreal then travelled to Toronto where they lost 4-3 in overtime in a game that they should have put away in the third. Several late game PP opportunities were wasted and Toronto made them pay for their inability to convert.

The third game, against Pittsburgh was Carey Price’s anticipated debut in which he put up a very solid performance, helping the Habs, who dominated most of the game, come away with a 3-2 win.
Montreal’s home opener was an awful performance and without Huet the game could have gotten out of hand. Huet let in only 2 goals on more than 35 shots and the Canes added an empty netter to win 3-1.
Montreal then played Florida and completely owned the game, yet again an inability to convert and a hot goaltender were the cause of Montreal losing 2-1 in a shootout after leading for 57 minutes and letting in the tying goal with 10 seconds remaining.

The Habs rolled in to Ottawa and the result was a predictable loss, but at 4-3 Montreal again kept it close and were victims of Ottawa’s potent offense in the end.

Buffalo then came to town and a few lucky bounces and olid penalty killing late in the game helped the Habs net the empty netter and win 4-2.

Finally Montreal played the streaking Bruins and were finally able to get production from all four lines en route to a strong 6-1 win.

From these performances one will notice that every single game has been decided in either the last minute or overtime, meaning Montreal could easily have been 5-0 or 0-5 going into Monday night. Some argue that Montreal was victim of poor officiating in several games, yet in my opinion it is VERY rare that the officiating decides a game, and with the exception of Kerry Fraser referees will make good and bad decision on both sides. Montreal does need to be praised for showing character and staying in each one of their games. Whether it has been thanks to team defense of goaltending, or scoring they have managed to keep every game close and winnable.

Obviously this has bailed out the Habs several time this season. Huet has been either stellar or solid in every start this season. And with the exception of the Toronto game has not allowed more than 2 goals in a game. (2, 4, 2, 1, 2, 1), while Carey Price had different performances in his first two starts, allowing 1 goal against Pittsburgh and then 4 goals against Ottawa. What makes the goaltending story that much more amazing is that Montreal has been awful in terms of shots against, and are in the bottom 10 in that category. Yet that stat can be misleading…

To me the Habs’ team defense ahs really been important. Although they have let up quite a few shots, many of these shots have beeen coming from the boards and have really not been quality chances. With the exception of the Carolina game and a few times in the Ottawa game the Habs have been quite impressive in terms of scoring chances. They have not left the gaoltender out to dry very often, and Mark Streit, Francis Bouillon and Roman Hamrlik have been great defensively.

Really Montreal’s only cause for concern. The top lines have really not been strong 5 on 5 with the exception of last night in Boston. The problem is not generating chances, but converting chances. The top line of Higgins, Koivu, and Ryder are really the suspects in this case, and need to start converting if they do not want to find themselves in the fans and Carbo’s dog house. Kovi has been an awesome surprise, and this is the way Montreal needs him to produce all year long. Pleks has been great too, and the 3rd and 4th lines have both been great defensively and at playing their role on the team. It’s up to the top lines ot convert if the habs really want to be succesful.

20 Responses to Canadiens Review, 6 Games In

  1. habsoverserver says:

    accurate assessment.  i would add that the powerplay is working great without Souray.   the defensemen are contributing well to the offense.  ryder needs to score a few even strength goals.  the line combinations are still up in the air.

    if this team can play .500 for 20 or so games until they find the combinations that work, i think they have a solid shot at the playoffs.  

    my question is – will a young star emerge from the team this season? 

  2. leafy says:

    Gotta hand it to Carbonneau.  He's doing a fine job of coaching, unlike what we have here in Toronto.  If Montreal had a few moe big forwards, they'd be a force.  But I like their D and their goaltending is superb.  Could be a dark horse team come April.

  3. habsgod says:

    leafy it's funny that you being a leafs fan would say this!!because all summer and the off season you and the other leafs fans kept bashing us and saying!!how great you guys were and how terrible we were going to be!! surprise !surprise !!and we habs fans kept saying that we aren't as bad as you guys were saying!and you guys weren't as good as we were telling you guys!!we signed hamrlik and you guys laughed!and thought that this signing was bad!!well i'm the one habs fan that loved this signing fromthe start!!and you guys thought that when you signed jason blake!!you guys thought that this signing was great and us habs fans kept telling you guys that this was  another mistake in the long line of mistakes that the leafs have done!!and now you guys see what we've been saying all long!!i think our defence right now is twice as good as yours!1our goaltending is night and day better!and our team is miles ahead of you guys!!!just like we've said all long!!when we signed brisebois for depth all we heard from leafs fans was that this was a bad signing and you guys mocked this signing!!well right now brisebois is better than any of your top  defenceman!!give bob gainey credit!!he's not stupid like ferguson in toronto  he see that you need depth and didn't over pay for brisebois!!unlike the leafs did and do i.e pavel kubina ,mccabe!! and for one year this guy(brisebois )is a steal if he keeps playing like he is !!and it allows time for o'byrne valentenko and your prospects to develop on the farm instead of rushing them and ruining them!!!i see us as a playoff team!!and a darkhorse like you say leafy!!

  4. habsgod says:

    i think higgins could be that guy!!he's starting to make a difference for us out there!!and i haven't given up on kositsyn either he could be that guy as well!!!and perhaps maybe grabovski!!

  5. jarcpitre says:

    Well written, I'm a Leafs fan which I blame my father for. All joking aside, Montreal has great team speed, 3 very good goalies and a great farm club. They should be a team of the future, I would say another 2yrs. Gainey and Carbs have done a great job with this team. Nice to see another Canadian team doing well. I would have to predict Montreal finishing 5-8 in the East.

  6. leafy says:

    I said on several posts that the Habs will be one of the teams fighting for the last 1-2 playoff spots.  Unlike some others, I never dismissed Montreal as garbage.  I'm a Leafs fan, but I try to be objective as well.  Only in one post, I qustioned the comparison to the 1986 Habs that someone made, saying that Price is not ready to fill Roy's shoes, but he is quickly proving me wrong.  Otherwise, I always had Montreal near the middle of the pack.

  7. leafy says:

    My thoughts exactly.  It's amazing what you can do when you have good ownership, management, and an experienced GM.

    In retrospect, back in 1997, the offer Ken Dryden made to acquire GM Gainey from Dallas for Matthew Schneider doesn't look so stupid now, does it?

  8. CanDude says:

    Dude. A Leafs fan was being honest and humble regarding the recent success of the Habs.

    Don't shove it in his face like that because it makes you look you and "Nyah nyah I TOLD YOU SO!!!" And he'll think twice about writing the way he just wrote.

    Grow up a little.

  9. habsoverserver says:

    as an offensive star i mean 40 goals or 80+ points. i agree higgins has a shot at 40 goals.  grabovski, latendresse, kostitsyn seem to be a year away if at all.  plekanec maybe is a 30 goal scorer.

  10. MtlHabs09 says:

    Thanks for all the positive comments guys, bet you didn’t realize I’m the same guy who wrote the Halak article did you? That’s really my only huge beef with Habs fans this year, most of us have been going crazy and posting all of these unconfirmed rumors and it really ticked me off.

    I’m glad to see Leafs fans posting in my articles and I’d like to ask all Habs fans to not taunt a person who is humbled enough to admit his team has played worse than ours. It is quite pathetic to kick someone when they’re down and that’s exactly what you’re doing. It is kind of comical how you are so eager to taunt the Leafs when they are struggling but I will bet my bottom dollar that you would feel insulted if the Habs are struggling and Leafs fans taunt you… That’s karma you prick, and if you don’t like it I’d ask you to please never post in my articles again.

    Thanks to the Habs fans who have stepped up for this guy and showed him that we aren’t ALL retarded 😛

    Anyways sorry for all of the spelling errors, I was kind of in a hurry whil writing and didn’t have time to proof read it (I was writing this in business class at Abbott, shows how intense that course is…LOL)

    Oh btw gotta throw this in, LMFAO at that Hossa article, YA RIGHT!

  11. ryrad8 says:

    Only i don't like what the habs are doing is they're playing Price against high scoring teams.

  12. habsrock99 says:

    I remember that comment (I was the author of that 86 Habs comparison) and i got a lot of heat for that comparison. Because all it was, was a weird coincidence that both teams looked so similar. And, if I remember correctly, i commented on your comment by saying "I wasn't comparing Roy to Price, I just noticed that both teams had a "Goalie of the Future" on the roster". But, I've been saying since July that the Habs, Leafs and Flyers will battle for the 7th and 8th spots. Just a note, I still think Flyers will be in a battle for a spot because they have yet to face a team that's good. They've faced weak teams and 2 teams that struggled badly in Calgary and Vancouver.

  13. habsgod says:

    true very true!we will get one of these players eventually!!i know we haven't had one in many years!but we will as a fellow habs brother!we can only hope!!but deep down i know we will at some point!!

  14. 29teamsrock says:

    I keep hearing Jagr is going to the Habs… for who tho, is anyones guess.

  15. Rico420 says:

    The only issue I have is the use of Carey Price, I still think for his confidence sake he should be playing every night in Hamilton and getting more development of the pro-game. He will be a star in this league but having him sit on the pine every game isn't doing much for his development.

  16. jarcpitre says:

    I have to agree with you once again today. Seems like we're always on the same page. You know the Leafs are off to a bad start, but you look at 3 teams ahead of them, which are Montreal, Boston and NYI. I believe BOS and NYI are playing above their heads right now and TOR is at least equal or not better in talent. With the right system and coaching I believe they can turn it around and are in not that bad of shape considering. So far this year the East looks wide open, you never know who will finish 5th-8th, there is still time but changes have to be made and made sooner rather than later.

  17. ICELIZARD says:

    I disagree… Carey Price will not improve by seing AHL slap shots, but NHL slap shots, whether it be in a game or practices.  The speed and dedication needed to succeed in the NHL is much more demanding than the AHL.  Do you really think Lapierre can be "on fire" in the NHL as he was in the AHL early on this year?  Remember, you play the way you practice… And from what I hear and read, he (Price) hates to be scored on, even in practices! 

    Plus, it's wtitten in the stars that Carey Price is the next one… 

    Dryden, #29
    Roy, #33
    Price, #31
    Total: 93

    '93 was the last time the Habs won the Stanley Cup!!! 

  18. habsrock99 says:

    That's creepy man lol but kinda wicked at the same time lol

  19. MtlHabs09 says:

    lol just realized now but the title should say 8 instead of 6, man was I in a hurry… to miss that???

  20. habsoverserver says:

    we haven't had a stud player or a great season since the 94 lockout.  while the team feels like it is on the verge, it still doesn't have a top 50 player and is no cinch to make the postseason.

    gainey has put the organization on very solid footing and has made it respectable.  but so far, he has failed to find a star around whom to build the team.  given the abundance of talent around the league, I don't see how montreal becomes an elite team.  their roster doesn't compare to ottawa, pittsburgh, anaheim, detroit or san jose.

Leave a Reply