Well Happy New Year to you too Habs!
It's nice to get what you call for. 3 points in 2 games delivered. 48 points in 41. On pace for 96. Who knows what the future holds, but I have to be satisfied with that.
Last week was easy as they come in the East. Only 2 games, 2 Southeast division teams, 2 teams in the bottom third of the conference. Playoff teams don't mess weeks like this up, the Habs didn't mess it up, ergo...
If there's more encouragement to be taken from this week (and, indeed, the recent spell of success from the Canadiens), then it is the scoring, both on the PP and at even strength. Individuals have been stepping up to score more lately, Andrei Kostitsyn (I think I once called him the only potential 50-goal scorer in our midst), Alex Kovalev and from oblivion and back Michael Ryder. It is Andrei 2 that excites me the most as I believe he is realising a lot about his potential right about now.
At the back end, the defense have been adequate and contributing to all the offense too. But, it has been Huet that has been standing out. This last week was not one the goaltenders will look back at with immense pride, but in the end we got 75% of the points, which is success on the job for a goalie (or goalies). For those worried about Price, don't. The only worry to harbour with the young goalie is whether he can be shielded from the idiotic members of the media bent on causing a stir. We've heard that Koivu and others have been talking to him and shielding him a bit, so that should help him get through the next months.
Quote of the week
On adjusting to reality and remaining open to anything that could help the team. (Best news of the week?):
"There's no policy against negotiating contracts during the season."
Coming off a successful Christmas road trip...
... what might Rejean Houle do?
Even Houle has good weeks. He takes a vacation to Florida and does absolutely nothing to hurt the team this week.
... what might Sam Pollock do?
GMs like Pollock don't take time off. He takes advantage of Chicago in town to discuss their first round draft pick and their need for veteran help not another 18-year old.
The week upcoming
A much tougher week ahead here. What's worse is that it gets progressively harder, so the work will have to be done up front, particularly against the Hawks. 4 points from these 3 would be very good all things considered. I think we'll do it.
Tuesday night: Chicago Blackhawks at the Bell Centre.
Honouring another rivalry that didn't really carry over from the days of the original six. At least we get to see Denis Savard in action again against his old rival and teammate. Chicago started the year very well, but have since hit the skids a bit. Like the Tampa game last week, we must attack when we smell the blood like this and get the two points for the bank.
Hawks to watch: Martin Havlat and Patrick Kane – talent bursting from the seams. Havlat when he plays is fast and slick, a danger to any opposing team and usually to his groin, knees, ankles or anything else he could possibly bruise, tear, twist or break. Kane is the best 19-year-old player there is. Someone once said (only their coach last year – Dave Gagner) our little Sergei was more ready for the NHL than he. Let's watch and see.
Thursday night: Boston Bruins at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Talk about quietly going about the business. They've won 3 after losing their previous 6 and are managing to stay top 8 without being as nauseating as Philadelphia. We still hate them, but often admire how they don't often fall far for very long. This will be a tough game and we must look back to how we beat them before for a repeat. The Bruins will be working very hard from now on to eliminate losses to the Habs from the menu.
Bruins to watch: Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara – best goalie in the league at the moment? and big Chara who is rounding into point-scoring form again. What a relief it's not Kobasew again!
Saturday night: New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Losers since they saw us, that should be remedied with games against Tampa and Philly by the time we see them. The danger with the Rangers is that they bring with them the feeling that they might burst open with talented displays at any point. Man for man we can match these guys and should consider them our rivals for 4th or 5th should we choose to fight for those spots.
Rangers to watch: Jaromir Jagr and Chris Drury – Jagr is still the player I would want on the puck of anyone, though Kovalev has more fancy tricks these days, and he should be observed if only to admire his skill, and in Drury you get to watch one of the most overpaid players in the league (in terms of how many millions over his annual worth) who's not in nets for Colorado.
Confessions about the Habswagon:
That Tampa win had me thinking the train out of Windsor might not be so bad afterall...
[The subjective look at the week that was and the week ahead in Montreal Canadiens Week is supplemented by the objective analysis following every fifth game]