Kids Must Deliver For Habs To Succeed

The renaissance enjoyed by the Montreal Canadiens last season was buoyed by the play of some of their veteran players. It is ironic now that in the year where the team will celebrate its 100th anniversary and reminisce their rich history, its the team’s future that will determine whether the Habs succeed or fail.

The team added key pieces like Lang, Tanguay and Laraque who’ll add experience joining captain Koivu, team MVP Kovalev 3 veteran blueliners who as a trio are among the league’s best. But at the end of the day, its the team’s young players, the likes of the Kostitsyn’s, Price, Plekanec and others who will make or break the team this year. Their continued development and improvement will go a long way in not only allowing the team to duplicate it’s success from last season, but surpass it.

GM Bob Gainey has put in the necessary pieces in place, adding more depth, adding some leadership, adding championship experience and adding toughness and now he must watch and see if the team can put it all together. While he did not land the big name player he had hoped to acquire, Gainey has assembled a deep and talented squad that will prove again to be a tough opponent.

The responsibility of the team’s growth and success lies with coach Guy Carbonneau. Like many in his lineup Carbonneau is still growing and developing as a coach and has shown signs of maybe being among the elite. He and his staff have created a lights out powerplay and the key will be to keep it among the league’s best. There is cause for concern as they struggled in the playoffs with it and lost one of their key point men in Streit to free agency. Carbo must get the team to tighten up defensively. While there was marked improvement from 2007, they still gave up their fair share of shots and chances and must be better.

With however a juggernaut offence, depth and a potential future star in goal, this could be quite a powerhouse team for Carbo to work with.


The Habs are littered with speed and skill, especially up front. Scoring will not be an issue. If Price can live up to expectations, this Canadiens squad could make this special year even more special.

C: Tomas Plekanec, Saku Koivu, Robert Lang, Max Lapierre, Steve Begin
RW: Alex Kovalev, Andrei Kostitsyn, Tom Kostopoulos, Mathieu Dandenault, Georges Laraque
LW: Chris Higgins, Alex Tanguay, Sergei Kostitsyn, Guillame Latendresse

There is enough talent to field 3 scoring lines. The Habs will take advantage of this depth and continue to attack teams in waves with speed. Kovalev is the centrepiece. He stunned many with his terrific season last year, at times carrying the Habs on his back. After years of teasing teams and fans with his immense talent, he showed heart, leadership and desire making him one of the league’s best last year. He must continue leading his team.

The captain, Koivu, will probably take a step back with Lang now in the fold up the middle and still bring the many intangibles like faceoffs, leadership, work ethic and dedication without the pressures of having to produce big numbers. With more depth than ever around him, Saku could quietly have a great season. The addition of Tanguay will add a top end playmaker and proven point per game producer to the lineup.

The ultimate keys to success however belong to the kids. The Kostitsyns must continue to get better. Andrei had a breakout year and looks to be a fixture along side Kovalev. Sergei, a rookie, was really solid, brings more of an all around game. Both are important to the Habs plans as they have terrific, disruptive speed. Plekanec, another smart, fast player benefitted the most from Kovalev’s big year. He is perhaps their best two way player who has become a potent offensive force. Higgins is really due to do something big. He hasnt been bad whatsoever, but there is a ton of potential that many feel is untapped. He might benefit the most from the veteran additions and the depth. Latendresse might be the odd man out, but has the size the forward unit needs.

One of the biggest additions literally and figuratively, was Laraque who will have a major impact on the team which comes as a surprise for a 4th liner. But Laraque will allow for this smallish squad to play big knowing one of the league’s most feared fighters is waiting. He’ll also allow the grinders like Begin, Kostopoulos, Lapierre to maybe play with more of an edge with someone there to back them up. Too often the little Habs were overmatched physically. Those days may be over.

D: Andrei Markov, Mike Komisarek, Roman Hamrlik, Ryan O’Byrne, Francis Bouillon, Josh Gorges, Patrice Brisebois

Markov has developed into one of the league’s best. He and Komisarek form an elite top pair. Markov bring premium offense and a major key in jumpstarting the Habs dangerous attack. Komisarek is the shutdown guy, bringing toughness, grit and great shot blocking ability. If he can stay healthy, the Habs have 2 30 minute defenders.

Hamrlik is an excellent 3rd guy who is smart and saavy enough to fit into the offensive scheme but steady and reliable in his own end. As good as the other two are, Hamrlik is probably the glue that holds it all together. He needs a good partner and the likes of Brisebois, O’Byrne or maybe on of their almost ready prospects will challenge for that spot.

Gorges and Bouillon played ok as the 3rd pair but thats all they are. Asking too much could expose their limited skill levels. Dandenault in a pinch can play D if necessary.

G: Carey Price, Marc Denis

Of all the Habs youngsters, Price carries the heaviest burden. He has seen it all already after just 1 year. The pressures of playing there, being booed out all the way to the farm, being talked up like the almighty himself, Montreal’s playoff atmostphere. His biggest strength is his cool demeanor and he’ll need lots of that to handle the pressure bestowed to him this coming season. With the centennial celebration, the history of great Hab goaltenders, the return of Patrick Roy, perhaps the greatest ever, Price will need to bypass the sophmore jinx and have a monster year. The talent is all there. His rookie numbers somewhat prove he can deliver, and the experiences, both high and low, he gained last year should prepare him enough to deliver. If not, the solid Halak might be given the chance. Denis was a sound signing.


F: Greg Stewart, Brock Trotter, Eric Manlow, Matt D’Agostini, Ryan Flinn, Janne Lahti, Mike Glumac, Yanick Lehoux, JT Wyman
D: Pavel Valentenko, Jon Gleed, Shawn Belle, Mathieu Carle, Chad Anderson
G: Cedric Desjardins


Already one of the best young teams in the NHL, the Habs have a deep cupboard of prospects on the way.

F: Ben Maxwell, Max Pacioretty, Kyle Chipchura, Ryan White, Danny Kristo,
D: Ryan McDonagh, Alexei Emelin, PK Subban, David Fischer, Yanick Weber
G: Jaroslav Halak

Halak should put some heat on Price in nets and both will probably push eachother to be better. The competition is healthy. Chipchura is the other with the best shot at making it. Not the swiftest skater or biggest scorer, Chipchura is a dogged checker, brings leadership, grit and is a fine faceoff man. He won a spot on the team last year and has a good chance at doing it again, only this time staying for good.

Here are some of the Habs other prospects:

Max Pacioretty – power type forward with good hands and skill
PK Subban – Mobile puck moving blueliner with some grit
Ryan McDonagh – Silky smooth skating defenceman a potential QB
Ben Maxwell – Smart two way forward could develop into top checker
Ryan White – Gritty offensive centre who is a smart playmaker

There is sufficient depth here that could afford Gainey some assets to potentially move for more veteran help during the season as the prepare for hopefully a long playoff run.

Prediction: 2nd in the East. 4th overall

The Canadiens are out to prove last season was no fluke. They were definitely one of the biggest surprises last season but there was enough talent here, especially among the young core, to expect good things eventually. Now, with expectations high, the growth of the team must continue moving forward. To do so, the young core must deliver on their promise. We saw glimpses last year or what they could do, now they must show more. It might be too much to ask from a group of young players still learning on the job, but in Montreal there is nothing more important than winning and anything less is unacceptable. The time might be now, already, for them to make their own name and forge their own path into Canadiens history.

66 Responses to Kids Must Deliver For Habs To Succeed

  1. mojo19 says:

    Playing on a defensive oriented team usually guarantees a good GAA but doesn't guarantee a good SV%.

    Defensive oriented teams rely on good goaltending to be succesful, because they don't have the kind of attack to come back and score if their goalie lets in a heartbreaker.

    Best Manny Fernandez was in the playoffs vs. Colorado 2003. Dynamite. Came off the bench down 3-1 in the series, won 3 straight went on to Vancouver. He is a really good goalie, he's been consistant ever since, except the couple games he tried to play last year.

  2. mojo19 says:

    Kipper has been good for a few years now though. 2004 amazing season, 2006 great season, 2007 great season, 2008 average season.

    If Carey can have 2 more really good years, then has 1 off year, people won't think anything of it. You dig? If Carey puts together 3 Kipper type years in a row, then he'll be considered a top goalie no matter what and he could have an off year, because people will know that he's been able to do it year in year out.

    I don't know if Carey will get 40 wins, but if he plays more than 60 games he will come close.

  3. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    oh I've just been itchin to find one of these comments I can argue with. First off, I'd say maybe half of the people are expecting Kiprusoff to have a "dream season" I'm not sold on him after last season. But the difference between Kipper and Price is that Kipper has been proven to come out with season after season of these "dream seasons". Price is only now a sophomore and I think that people are now retaliating to all the habs fans saying that he is the second coming of Roy already, right this season. And it's equally as unfair of them to assume that Price will fall as it is of you to assume that he will become a legend in his 2nd season. Both are bold predictions, but I'd say both are only POSSIBILITIES. Either one could happen, but my guess is he will still go through the learning process and just become a little more solid this year and then a few years down the road, it is very likely he could become that 40 game winner. I'm just not seeing that in him YET. I think that the habs go down just a notch or two, because Price won't win those by himself, and he doesn't have Huet to support him to win the other games that need to be one. I still think Montreal lands first in the division, the Northeast isn't looking to strong this season sadly. I don't think that Carey Price is their saviour just yet though.

  4. Plekanec says:

     I understand your point, but what do YOU think will happened to Price, if Montreal do have a good season getting around 45 wins, Do you think Halak or Denis will get most of those wins or do you think Price will get most of the playing time?

  5. Plekanec says:

     Team with great defense like Calgary, Detroit and Dallas don't allow too many shots from the crease as they clean the front of the net, instead shots are coming from further away which makes them easier to stop therefor improving  a goalie svs%.

  6. mojo19 says:

    I think Price will get most of the playing time and win like 30-35 wins. Which would usually put a goalie in the top 15-10 in the league, last year 35 wins would have been 7th best *(Giguere and Luongo both did it)

  7. mojo19 says:

    You're right about that, but 4 straight seasons of really solid SV%, that's all I have to say about Fernandez.

  8. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    Well Halak may not be the goalie that Price is, but he certainly isn't horrible. Price will get the majority of the playing time, but I'm pretty sure Carbonneau is a smart enough guy to know that you can't overwork probably one of the best young goalies that the league has seen in a while. I would think that Price will get somewhere around 55 – 60 games as a starter – probably closer to 55 this season. This way he gets to start going out and proving critics wrong by playing well as the starter for the WHOLE season.. not just half.
    That being said, say Montreal gets 45-50 wins… now Halak will be playing in about probably 25-27 games. I think halak in those 25-27 games can probably put up about 15 wins no? Halak certainly has the ability to be a goalie who is 5 games above .500
    With Halak winning about 15 games, that leaves 30 wins for Price (45 wins total) or 35 wins for Price (if they win 50 games total)
    Price is in the 30 – 35 games won range. Not quite 40 yet. Reasonable? I think so.

  9. Bure96 says:

    "Fernandez was a joke before getting injured, even playing behind a very good roster in the Boston Bruins."

    Fernandez played 4 games… I bet you EVERYONE in the NHL went on a 4 or 5 game slump as bad as his. Ovechkin probably went 3 games at some point without scoring, The Red Wings were brutal in February, Brodeur probably went on a cold streak at some time. It happens to every, ESPECIALLY at the start of the season for goalies.

    Toskala played on the Leafs. It's incredible that Toskala even got them 11 points out a playoff spot. If the Leafs win 30 games this year, Toskala will steal 29 at least. Price isn't even in Toskala league yet.

    Price played well in fairly limited action (40 games isn't much), but when Price plays 60+ games next year he's going to show some flaws, and prove to everyone he's not the second coming of Jesus after all. If he wins 35 games, has a .915 SV% and finished top 2 in the conference then that would be awesome for a 20 year old, but expect some growing pains.

  10. kilter says:

    Latendress is the weak link in the chain,they MUST get rid of him,i would love to see him traded.

  11. Plekanec says:

     Last year Players would run Price over without thinking, lets see  what will happen with BIG George in the line-up, other team players will think twice before driving through Price.

  12. Habfan17 says:

    Great points! I would go one further and say that Price needs to string 2 strong seasons together before we get too excited. As much as I believe he will be very good for a long time, history shows that 1 season makes not a great goalie, Jose Theodore anyone. I was extremely upset when Mtl handed him all that money for 1 great year! I didn't think then, and don't think now you can compare any player with 1 year worth of stats to one who has had consistent success for more than 3 years. That is how Theodore got that salary! Comparing him to other goalies simply on their last season stats and the hardware he had won! Steve Penney, Jim Carey and many others were stars one year, then poof!!! I believe the same goes for skaters. If you want to compare your stats to a great playes who has had success for many years, then you need to have many years of success as well to warrant the same type of salary that they are receiving!

    Getting back to Mtl, Latendresse, Price, and Lapierre really worked hard this past summer which speaks volumes to their character. Rather than resting on their laurels, they worked hard to improve. It is too bad that with the depth up front, somone will suffer! If Latendresse, Lapierre and Chipchura make the cut, then with thier youth and lower salaries, Kotsopoulus and Begin may be the odd men out!

  13. hockeyhead says:

    are plekanek and lafleur10 the biggest tools on this site?

  14. prospectiv says:

    You've been bashing forever on 21 years old Latendresse…  just wait and see what he can accomplish with a good center and in a better shape. 

    The habs have been missing a power forward forever, you just cant trade the only potential one! 

    Oh yeah, you're the one that was ready to trade him for Schneider and his 6 m contract.  Now the guy is on waivers and nobody wants him…  This illustrates how good your player evaluation  is…

  15. prospectiv says:

    Dream on, the Habs have 3 very capable goalies waiting to prove themselves, very much like the Bruins I think.

    Thomas makes me think of Huet : he keeps on putting the best numbers but nobody gives him credit nor ready to put him in the top 10…

  16. prospectiv says:

    As far as I know, you can't really judge a player's accomplishments when he only played half a season.

    Price will be great this year, and a big part of this statement relies on the fact that any goalie would post good numbers with such a packed lineup in front of them.

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