Monday, October 29, 2007

70s Throwback Week: Montreal Canadiens October 22-28

[Montreal Canadiens Week takes a look at the week that was and the week ahead from a subjective standpoint, and is supplemented by the objective analysis following every fifth game]

The week that was

Wow. What a week. Boston, Carolina, Pittsburgh. W, W, W. And, done in style too! To make it all the better, the Bruins, Canes and Pens were all playing well until we showed them how to start a game.

Or, how about chasing Cam Ward and Marc-Andre Fleury on consecutive nights? Heaven only knows why Fernandez wasn't changed. Kovalev's 1000th game and 800th point ( treatment), no fights with Carbo and 2000 game plans were also highlights. The end of the week, the intense shootout, with Crosby miss and Markov goal was a fitting end to an exhilerating week.

Somewhat lost in the excitement, I thought, was Grabovski's move to the wing, place in the line-up and first NHL goal. To me, this is very exciting news, as he has some serious raw talent (and it's quite raw at the moment). If he continues to get and take his chances well, we could have a great little player on our hands. And what a nice surprise that would be, considering he wasn't even a prospect worth mentioning when he was drafted (150th overall in 2004). I also thought his goal was a beautiful one, finishing with a very confident shot into the upper part of the net. It kinda reminded me of when you're playing well at pool and you can start rattling them in, instead of carefully placing them.

Unlike previous weeks, I can quite honestly say I was surprised this Sunday with where we were sitting in the standings. A pleasant surprise for sure, but there's still 82 points to get, so noses back to the grindstone...

Quote of the week
Latendresse on Facebook:

"Je vais rarement sur ma page Facebook, mais je reçois quand même 15 invitations par jour de la part d'amis que je ne connais pas, raconte Guillaume Latendresse. Je voulais être là-dessus juste pour retrouver des copains d'enfance Je pense que je vais fermer ma page très bientôt!"

["I rarely go to my Facebook page, but even so, I still get 15 inivtations a day to become friends with people I don't know. I wanted to be on it to find friends from childhood I had lost touch with. I think I'll be closing my account very soon!"]

Coming off an incredible week with 3 wins and 16 goals, ...

... what might Rejean Houle do?

Sit tight and admire his own handiwork.

... what might Sam Pollock do?

Goes to Hamilton on the week off to watch the Bulldogs in action. Makes a call to Brian Burke to ask how his season is going. Sends scouts to California and Arizona.

The week upcoming

Tuesday night: Atlanta Thrashers at the Bell Centre.

There's not much more dangerous than judging a team by their record. Atlanta, as we all know, lost their first 6 games. Since then, though, they have a 3-2 record. Neither of these stats lead me in one direction or another. But the fact they have both Hossa and Kovalchuk does lead me to think this game will be close. Luckily the Habs are coming off three firewagon games, so they shouldn't be caught out here. And with our superior defense and goaltending, we should get points from this one.

Thrashers to watch: Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa - Regardless of previous or recent form, coming into most games against the Thrashers, these will be the two players to watch (Fancy and Fancier).

Thursday night: Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre.

Philly is a tough one to gauge. They had a good start on a western road swing and have got points in the majority of the rest of their games. They haven't played Ottawa, though, nor Pittsburgh, so it can't be said they have been thoroughly tested in the East. They have beaten Carolina, but then so have we (twice). Once again a superior goaltending backstop puts us in with a chance. Unfortunately,they have until this game to prepare, so they'll be ready. Honestly, this is not the playoffs, so if the Flyers want to do what they've done all season and injure people. I'd rather see a peripheral effort here than injuries like the ones their bullies have been dishing out.

Flyers to watch: Scott Hartnell and Martin Biron – Biron is the reason they are in the top half of the East (not Briere), and you can watch Scott Hartnell and be glad we signed Chris Higgins on the same day for 2.5 million a year less.

Saturday night: Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.

Every year since the lockout (all 2), we get to the end of October and we as Habs fans look down at the Leafs and taunt. But every March, they are right close, with one team eliminating the other. In other words, never count the Leafs out. Never. This will obviously be the spectacle of the week, and I wouldn't look for our goalies doing any padding of the stats. Like every game with these guys, it could go either way. We could do our playoff race selves a favour by making sure the Leafs don't take any points here.

Maple Leafs to watch: Mats Sundin and Jiri Tlusty - If Sundin weren't a Leaf, I would say he is a pleasure to watch on most nights, but he is, so... All Leafs fans will be raving about this guy Tlusty all year long (remember Stajan > Ryder), so you might as well get some ammo for the comebacks.

NOTE: Once again, it will be interesting to see whether Price plays. I'd put him in for Toronto, give him a taste of what it's all about. We need to score to win in that affair anyway.

Overheard on the Habs train

Fan 1: Hey man, great to see you!

Fan 2: Yeah, dude, been too long. When was the last time? April two years ago?

Fan 1: Well, there was last year round Christmas, remember? We met on our way off the wagon.

Fan 2: Oh right, well this time, I bought my ticket early, gonna be a great ride

Fan 1: But you got a refundable ticket, right?

Fan 2: Of course, fully refundable.

Fan 3: Long time no see guys...


  1. Kovalchuk has been our best player this season (last season it was Hossa). His defense has been better and he has been more consistent on a shift by shift basis than in past years. He's starting to enter his prime years and it shows.

    Also you might keep an eye on the rookie defenseman Tobias Enstrom. He is tiny but has been our best blueliner this season. I jokingly refer to him as our "mini-Lidstrom" because of his puck skills and great positioning out there.

  2. Thanks Falconer.

    I thought about Enstrom, as he was in my lists for the hockey pool too. If he is a mini-Lidstrom, that'd be a helluva find for you guys down in Atlanta...