Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Least Original Scheduling Week: Montreal Canadiens November 12 - November 18

[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

Leafs, Sabres, Bruins. OK, we've had enough of you guys now. It's getting too close for comfort here... You know it's bad when you're longing to see the Hawks and the Blue Jackets.

Despite it being a rather uninteresting week of rehashing previous previews division rivalries. It did see the Canadiens grab another 4 points. Can't complain about that. The rivals did grab 3 themselves, but we beat the right teams if you thin the standings will stay the way they currently are, only giving up 2 to the last in division Sabres.

If this week provided anything else, it was the continuing emergence of Mike Komisarek. While Hamrlik has been an excellent addition, it is the greatly improved play of the Long Islander, in my opinion, that has turned the defense of this team around vs. last season. Quite apart from his scoring, which I see as a bonus, he has taken very well to his role of top defensive defender on the team. He hits with conviction, blocks shots and complements our best player Andrei Markov perfectly. I hope to see more of this from Mike, and hope that it makes the loss of Beauchemin look laughable over time.

If you all knew Tobalev, you would know how much of an endorsement it is for Komisarek to be in the dome for consecutive games. Let's just say, if we had had a blog the past few years, Komisarek's dome numbers would be closer to Brisebois' than Markov's. This year, he is pressing for No. 1. I'm impressed.

Beating the Leafs in Game 1 this week was great, though there was some disagreement as to whether the spectacle was or not. My question to our anonymous poster: now the week is over: Do you care how that game looked? Of course, you did spend money to see it in person, so the sting is a little more long-lasting with you I suppose...

The Sabres game was a classic unfortunate match-up. The Sabres (a team that is much better than their place in the standings indicates) vs. the Canadiens coming off two highly emotional and competitive games and then a 3-day break. it would have been nice to see more from the Habs, but let's just say a win here would have been quite immpressive.

The win against the Bruins was very impressive indeed, however. Not only did the Habs run rampant in the offensive zone, they also turned their game completely around in only 24 hours. I tell you what is nicest of all: watching Claude Julien's blank expressionless face behind someone else's bench. Phew.

Due to circumstances, this has lapsed to Tuesday. And, teamed with the rare Monday game, I missed one out. As it turned out, it was a good one to miss. Afterall, what more can we say about the team we haven't been able to beat since Cunneyworth's days. If it's any consolation, teams they own in the regular season tend to own them in the postseason. So...

Quote of the week
On the art of understatement:

"Last year was hard on me and I had a long summer to think about it. I knew I had to change my approach and my attitude this season and that’s what I’ve done."

Coming off a week that ended with a rousing period and a suspension...

... what might Rejean Houle do?

Tells the media he knew Michael Ryder would break out of the slump on the third line.

... what might Sam Pollock do?

After contacting Phoenix earlier in the week, he would have traded them Halak for a second round pick. He then claims Bryzgalov off waivers and trades him for Halak straight up.

The week upcoming

The five days left in the week must yield a few points if the team wishes to stay ahead of the pack. A game against someone new might be just the medicine.

Wednesday night: New York Islanders at the Nassau Colisseum.

Finally a team that we can get excited about before we go back to scheduling lunacy. Toronto. If it's points we want this week, then this is the critical game. Sweeps of back-to-back games is a tall order. Beating a middling team like the Islanders is a must. There are reasons to believe we can as well. Firstly, their defense is average to awful. Their system may make up for that, but our forwards will need to challenge these players one on one. Secondly, their forwards, which are arguably less inspiring than their defense. They have been putting together the wins though, so a lethargic start won't help our cause. I see a win here. For Larry??

For crying out loud, this team has vasicek on their opening page. Let's beat the bargain basement Isles...

Isles to watch: Chris Campoli and Ted Nolan – Campoli is thriving this year, despite the poolies calling for Bergeron to do it all (too bad I didn't pick him up), and Nolan is a truly great coach (you only need to look at their record and their roster to see why).

Friday night: Buffalo Sabres at the HSBC Arena.

Second Friday in a row in Buffalo. Can Hamilton just play this one? They're closer...

Sabres to watch: Maxim Afinogenov and Derek Roy – I'm going with Afinogenov again, because how could he get any worse and as for Roy, it's just funny that RDS insist on pronouncing his name Patrick's way.

Saturday night: Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre.

What more can we say about the Sabres. Well, for one thing the only points they got over ten days were against us. They are second to last in the East. We should stop treating them like a good team and take our points. Everybody else does.

That is the one reason it's a shame to have back-to-back games, as it is less likely to catch the team out twice, even if they are as bad as the standings say. I think we can take 3 points here - in fact let's arrange for 3 each, shall we? Lindy?

Sabres to watch: Whoever didn't score the night before. No one is putting massive point streaks together here. This year is starting to make the "Derek Plante scoring champion" days look prolific for the Buffaloes.

Overheard on the Habswagon

Fan 1: "With Kovalev on our team, we have a legitimate superstar."

Fan 2: "Yeah, I love my man Kovy."


  1. As good as we all feel about the Habs right now, I was concerned to see that they are only five points from the ninth place team. A prolonged mid-late season slump a la 06-07 campaign would put les glorieux out of the playoffs again. Fortunately I believe team depth is improved such that injuries and player slumps (ahem, Huet, Kovalev) will be less damaging.

  2. I too was concerned, but I agree that our depth should help us ride slumps out better (see Huet's current slump).

    The other thing is that 6th in the conference is 5 points from 9th in April, so 5 points up in November is quite good. I believe that if the team can keep from having a really disastrous month-long stretch of losses, then they will be fine, and we'll all be able to breathe a sigh of relief later in the year...