[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 (weeks that were)
Well the Canadiens have played four games now, and though they technically took place over eleven days, these two weeks were a veritable hockey drought for us, so I took the liberty of extending the reach of my first week in review.
On the whole, the opening of the season has been a success, not a resounding one, but a success nonetheless. The Habs managed to grab 5 points on the road, and then lost a fairly close affair at home.
As far as hockey goes, I don't think there was anything too surprising. If you look at where the team sits right now and compare where most people thought they would be sitting, then about .500 is right - the overtime loss being bonus. Most of the players have been living up to expectation with a couple of surprises for the better and the worse.
As I've said in my blogs, I think the early relative success has to do with more players than the media reports would have you believe. Andrei Markov, the sometimes overlooked backbone of the team, is the major contributor among the many.
Quote of the week
On mentoring Price:
"I think the important thing is that I treat him like everyone else," Huet said. "But you should ask him."
Coming off a loss to the Hurricanes taking us back to a .500 record, ...
... what might Rejean Houle do?
Swings a deal to trade Jaroslav Halak to the Lightning in return for Andre Roy and some much needed toughness.
... what might Sam Pollock do?
After a decent start, decides to stand pat. The player he wants to move has underperformed and his value is on the wane. No, he won't tell you who it is.
The week upcoming
Tuesday night: Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre.
Are they off to a bad start? Are they right where they should be? One of these years Florida is bound to get it together. I think getting them early this season, and with them coming off a win (where they allowed 4 goals) is about the right position to get them. Out of the three games this week, this looks like the most winnable at the present time.
Panthers to watch: Jokinen and Vokoun - as they look to strangle our offense and win by a goal or two.
Thursday night: Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.
Off to another quick start, they seem to be back to their old ways (Toronto will be pleased). Last season, we started to have success against the Senators making it more into a scrap for points (like it is with the Leafs) vs. the one-sided affairs of a few years previous. I think this is likely to continue as the Habs are a better team now, and no longer an easy mark for anyone; and the Senators are for the most part the same team as last year. However, they'll be the team in the East, so whenever we visit it will be difficult.
Senators to watch: Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley - as always the trio have sprinted out of the gates, helping their team win with gusto.
Saturday night: Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre.
Just as Florida may or may not be on the ascendency, Buffalo may or may not be finished as conference contenders. The Sabres can still score, but they balance that with a healthy number of goals allowed. Given the way the Habs skated with the Sabres last year and the latter half the previous year, I think they should be favourites to come away with 2 points in this affair.
Sabres to watch: Campbell and Connolly - Campbell is driving the offense from the backend, and Tim Connolly back in action gives the Habs players a different element to deal with.
The Habs Express is more crowded than it has been in recent seasons at this time. People expecting a non-stop train to Cupton were told that the train actually makes 78 more stops before deciding if it goes on the up hill track to that destination. Many upset fans disembarked.
People waiting to catch a quick photo of up and coming engineer Carey Price were surprised and somewhat dismayed that following his shunt in the station, Cristobal Huet was back in the front locomotive.