Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
- As I said before the season even started, Max Pacioretty is not ready to play big minutes in the NHL, and is definitely not a dependable top six scorer.
- Georges Laraque looks like a much better player this season.
- Off the ice Georges Laraque is still every bit as pretentious and annoying as last season.
- Hal Gill is getting an unfair shake by the fans, he's slow, but look at Robert Lefebvre's breakdown of the Canadien's on the ice during the penalty kill.
- The penalty kill is atrocious, but getting better.
- Brian Gionta is better than Alex Kovalev.
- Carey Price is going to have a bounce back year, although the next week will likely be touch and go after the team abandoned him in his home coming.
- Aside from Vancouver, Montreal has been in every game, and we probably should be 4-1 right now instead of 2-3, eventually we're going to get the bounces and calls to go our way if the effort is maintained.
- When Mike Cammalleri finally does light the lamp, it will be followed by an explosion of offense. He's just too good to struggle much longer.
- Scott Gomez isn't going to be a point per game player, but he's good enough defensively to make up for it, and sometimes he creates plays and doesn't end up with credit on the scoreboard. Is he worth his salary? No, but I'm satisfied with his current play.
- Jacques Martin doesn't like young players very much. You can tell by many of his questionable coaching decisions in Edmonton that he would rather have a veteran like Laraque on the ice than someone who can score but is more of a risk in D'agostini.
- Paul Mara is surprisingly solid, and could be one of the steals of the summer.
- Fans need to remember that Spacek was expected to work the powerplay with Markov, not by himself, so expecting a 50-60 point season out of him is ridiculous.
- This team has more character throughout than last year's team.
- A 2-3-0 record with the Habs being in it 4/5 games on a five game road trip with an entirely new team, coaching staff and system, with Markov gone, is 100 times better than anyone expected this team to do.
- The two people who left in the off season that both fans and the media complained most about Gainey letting go, Kovalev and Komisarek, are having terrible starts with their new teams. Kovalev is disinterested and floating with untalented linemates, and Komisarek is a focal point in everything that's wrong with the 0-5-1 Leafs
- Bob Gainey is a better General Manager than Brian Burke, and he was completely right when he said that the Leafs were building a team that wasn't in line with the way the NHL is evolving, and it makes me grin an annoyingly arrogant grin.
- Andrei Kostitsyn is improving as the season gets older, and he'll still have a breakout year.
- Tomas Plekanec will be largely responsible for Andrei's breakout. His hard work all over the ice and renewed offensive confidence are excellent to see. The backhander in the dying seconds of the middle period against Calgary is something we never saw from Plekanec last year, he was trying too hard instead of following his instincts, which are that of an excellent player.
- We've currently alienated the top 6 forward missing from our lineup, and he's lingering in Hamilton awaiting a trade that likely won't happen. On the bright side, Washington had to SUE Alexander Semin to get him to play there, and look how that turned out.
- This may be a bit harsh, but Gregory Stewart is not an NHL player, and he never will be.
- Kyle Chipchura isn't as bad as his stats make him look, and his skating is better than most fans believe.
- Travis Moen is a third or fourth line player at best, and Martin needs to remember that and stop looking like Carbo. Moen played his best two games of the season on the fourth line, he's not suited to a scoring line.
- Scott Gomez thus far sucks at faceoffs, but he's averaged over 52% since the lockout, so this has to be an aberration, or he gets better as the season goes on.
- Paul Mara's beard is a better defenseman than Mike Komisarek
- Matt D'agostini is a scorer, not a grinder, he needs to be on a scoring line in order to be effective. Eight minutes a game with Kyle Chipchura doesn't help him look good.
- Latendresse should probably get a look on one of the top two lines, he's been good on the powerplay thus far and his puck control along the boards is improved.
- Latendresse needs to stop that stupid wraparound move he does every time he goes behind the net. Every goalie expects a wraparound. You've only scored on it once Gui, and that was against Kari Ramo, not exactly an elite goalie.
- As much as I get frustrated when the Canadiens lose a winnable game, I find it humourous that the same people who are lauding Gainey as a genius after two overtime wins call him an utter failure after one bad game in Vancouver.
- As of right now, the Montreal Canadiens are playing better than the Boston Bruins, despite a tougher schedule and more obstacles to overcome. Suck it Boston.
- Mike Cammalleri has had seasons of 53, 54, 54, and 60% in the faceoff dot, and is at 61.5% this year so far. Why isn't he taking more faceoffs?
- Speaking of faceoffs, as much as fans and those in the media such as Mike Boone of the Montreal Gazette and Habsinsideout.com (the best site on the internet btw) have been trashing Kyle Chipchura for his defensive play thus far, he's 11 and 5 on the faceoff dot in three games. That's good for 68.8% and best on the Canadiens. It's also a whopping 30% better than Glen Metropolit in that category. With linemates not named Georges Laraque and Greg Stewart, it's very likely that Kyle Chipchura could be a very good 4th line center.
- The defense are going to take a longer time to adjust to the new system than the forwards, especially with Markov and O'Byrne gone.
- Tom Pyatt deserves a shot on the 4th line with the big club, and Greg Stewart should be sent down even before Pacioretty. Patches can at least play on the third and fourth line and not be a liability, Stewart.... not so much.
- Jaroslav Halak is better than he was against Calgary, and deserves another start soon, but not before Price plays a couple more games to get his groove back.
- Spacek is better defensively than I remember him being when I watching him during Edmonton's playoff run.
- We're the only team to have beaten a strong looking Buffalo team, that just shellacked the Detroit Red Wings.
- The NHL's scheduling this year SUCKS. Somedays we have 15 games, and others we have none. How can it be that unbalanced when it's supposed to be compressed? If the NHL complains about the olympic break, then makes scheduling blunders like this, who'd really to blame?
- Brian Gionta is still going to be the next captain of the Canadiens.
- The Montreal Canadiens will make the playoffs.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Proposed trade: Brian Campbell and Patrick Sharp to Montreal, Sergei Kostitsyn, Jaroslav Halak, Andrei Kostitsyn and a draft pick (possibly conditional) to Chicago.
Chicago's take: Chicago has been looking for a way to get out of Brian Campbell's contract since pretty much the day they signed it. Massively overhyped by the media in his contract year (a la Bouwmeester), it seems like NHL scouts were too lazy to actually check out what they were signing to a long term deal at big money. It's undeniable that with cap trouble looming in Chicago, Keith, Toews and Kane up for big raises, they want Campbell's contract out of town. In order to facilitate this they MAY be willing to trade Patrick Sharp, who they value heavily for his leadership, clutch goals and grit. Uniting Sergei Kostitsyn with Patrick Kane is an intriguing possibility for Chicago I'm sure, but at this point in his career Patrick Kane is doing just fine without our temper-mental little Belorussian. With Huet a question mark in goal, it's a possibility that Chicago would be looking at Halak as an option, but they seem to have high hopes for Antti Niemi for now. Andrei Kostitsyn could be a capable replacement for Sharp going the other way, but I don't think Chicago is in any way desperate to obtain him.
Montreal's take: I love Patrick Sharp, he's a solid player in every aspect, signed to a very reasonably salary for the next 3 seasons and easily an upgrade on Andrei Kostitsyn at this point for the second line, but I just can't see how Montreal can take on a salary like Campbell's especially after already taking on a similar salary in Scott Gomez. According to NHLnumbers.com, Montreal has about 1.902 million in cap space available. If Markov's salary goes to LTIR that brings us up to 7.652 million in cap space to work with over the next 2-4 months. Sounds like a lot, but after this trade it really isn't. We'd still be taking on more salary than we're giving away after you consider we'd have to recall Curtis Sanford's 0.6 million dollar salary from the minors. We'd be left with about 0.4 million in cap space by my quick calculations, in other words, not enough for a call up in case of injury. The other problem that arrises is what happens when Markov comes back? Campbell isn't some guy who can be bought out with one year left, or traded away to a team who can eat the cap number, he's signed for 7 more seasons at the insane 7.14 million per season mark. Read that again, SEVEN seasons. Trading for Campbell would all but force Montreal to say good bye to Andrei Markov as a Canadien, as there's just no way you can find a sucker to take on Campbell's salary twice. Markov is the only tradable salary aside from Cammalleri that would put us back near the cap for next season. Terrifying thought isn't it? For purely financial reasons this trade just can not happen.
Friday, October 2, 2009
So it seems as if these are the only types of clothes we're going to see Andrei Markov wearing for the next two to four months. For the second game in a row at the Air Canada Center in Toronto Markov has suffered a devastating injury. Memories of the end of last season are flashing in the minds of all Montreal Canadiens fans, but we have to remember how different this team is. For starters we have more depth on defense this year than last. Remember that last year Mathieu Schneider was also injured against Toronto, and the loss of both our big power play guys was too much to handle for a fragile team. This year we have much more depth on defense, and it's very lucky we do.
Last year the Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to play without both Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar for most of the season, and while I'm not saying the Canadiens will win the cup this year, there are important parallels to draw in this situation. Pittsburgh didn't panic when faced with this adversity, and although Michel Therrien was fired as head coach, the Penguins didn't sell the farm for an offensive defenseman to come in as a temporary replacement. They put their faith in young Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski. The Penguins were a bubble team for the first half of the season, but this expanded responsibility forced Kris Letang especially to become the player he has the potential to be. Goligoski also improved from this experience, and we'll see that more this year as he gets a shot with the big club. The maturation of Letang and Goligoski allowed Ray Shero to trade highly coveted Ryan Whitney to the Ducks for Chris Kunitz and a top prospect in Eric Tangradi. In all likelihood Yannick Weber will be called up from Hamilton in the next few days to occupy the 7th defenseman slot, and he'll draw into the lineup soon enough to play small minutes on the 3rd pairing along with powerplay time alongside Spacek on the first wave.
Unlike last season we have a lot of depth on defense in the organization. We poached a division rival's #1 defenseman in the offseason in Jaroslav Spacek, and at the beginning of the season Roman Hamrlik won't be as tired as he was last year, so we have two good guys for a first pairing. Josh Gorges is used to playing a top 4 role from last season, and Ryan O'Byrne also seems ready to take a bigger role with the club. Hal Gill and Paul Mara need to have their ice time kept lower than it was last night, I think everyone who saw that game can agree to that. Unlike last season we don't have to depend on Patrice Brisebois to play beyond his years, and with all due respect to Bob Gainey, we have a much better coach manning the bench this year, who can insulate the defense by changing the way Montreal plays. We also have a glutton of prospects who can fill in if need be in Weber, Subban, Carle and if desperate and decimated by injury, even Bell and Benoit. Obviously no one in the organization can replace Markov, but this isn't a death sentence as some would have you believe.
This team will be stronger by the end of this season, and going on in the next few seasons because of this injury. Am I'm not happy that Markov got injured, don't get me wrong, I'm devastated. But I refuse to pack up and throw this season down the toilet because of it, we need to see this as an opportunity to improve.