There is only one day to go before it all starts again and before we all start dreaming about #25 again, no not Dandenault.
I thought I would get my first post under my belt before the season gets going for real. Topham, a long time acquaintance has asked me to join his blog for the season providing post-game commentary and the occasional additional post.
The team looks good, better than last year and I think we have what it takes to get those 96+ points and buy a ticket to the big dance. People have been asking how this team is better than last year noting that we have replaced Souray with Hamrlik, Bonk with Smolinski, Niniimaa with Brisebois and Johnson with Kostopoulos. If paper was all I had to judge a team's development on and I had never watched a full Habs game, or followed the training camp I may agree with some of these naysayers that, no, it doesn't look that much better at all. What some people may fail to realize is that we have really added quite a lot more than that. We have added from within our own system, something we have been waiting years to see.
With the departure of Souray, Rivet and Niniimaa we have opened a spot on the blueline for Streit. Yes Streit was on the team last year, and although he did well on the 4th line, I feel he was wasted. To me putting him back on D has brought a new, reliable, element to the team.
Bonk/Johnson for Smolinski/Kostopoulos to me is no real upgrade, nor downgrade. The forwards to me are better this year due mainly to subtraction, the disposing of dead weight. Gone are Samsonov, Perezhogin, Downey opening up spots for Chipchura, Grabovski and Kostitsyn (who was Sami's end of the year replacement). I also firmly believe that Higgins, Plekanec and Lapierre are poised for bigger and better things this year. I know, I know, Lapierre is on the farm, but he'll be back, after his playoff run last year with Hamilton I am convinced he is an NHLer and he will prove that for good this year.
In nets who could argue that we have improved. Price for Aebischer, no question. We didn't throw away as many points as Colorado last year by playing Theodore, but the other man in that trade, I would say, cost us our fair share of points too. Just think one more win and we would have made it, the season would have been a success and we could have made our perennial push throughout the spring.
It is time now for the team to do the talking. People aren't expecting much, but like Montreal teams of years gone by (Expos included in the set) these Habs will show those people a thing or two.
Go Habs Go