Presenting Your 2007-2008 Montreal Canadiens!!!!

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    By Habster

    Well, it’s about @#$%*&!! time that the season got started for Hab fans around the hockey world…..rejoice and praise the hockey gods or should I say the ghosts of the Old Forum!!!!
    Like many of you, I can hardly wait until tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

    I was glad to see Bob Gainey take a stand and keep Carey Price on the Canadiens roster, he’s thinking outside the box and feels that Price has nothing more to prove in the AHL after a dominate performance in last year’s AHL playoff championship run. Gainey understands how much Price means to the future success of the franchise. Guy Carbonneau is maintaining the company line and seems to understand that Price has a higher ceiling of potential than Halak or for that matter even Huet. He is the type of goalie that has the potential to carry a team and steal some victories during the season.

    I have to admit I have been preaching patience with Carey Price and thought he would be better served playing 60-70 games as the Bulldogs’ starting goaltender as opposed to being Huet’s backup and only playing 20-25 games. I still tend to believe in this approach but I understand that Gainey is thinking beyond this year, he could even be thinking shorter term with the understanding that Huet is as good as gone when he becomes a UFA ( trading him in February is the only option). The duo of Halak/Price would be a young and somewhat inexperienced but would be a solid goaltendering tandem for years to come.

    The Canadiens were not finished with their final cuts after Carey Price was on board, there were some other small surprises that Gainey had in store for Hab fans. The additions of Mikhail Grabovski and Kyle Chipchura were not a complete shock but certainly will add some excitement/enthusiasms to the lineup and give Canadiens fans a glimpse of the future. Grabovski might be the spark that lights the fire under Alex Kovalev’s ass!!! Gainey was emphatic when asked if Grabovski would help raise Kovalev’s game.

    “Let’s not put the cart before the horse. I say why not see what a veteran like Kovalev can do for Grabovski,” suggested Gainey. “They looked good as a unit the other night against Ottawa. We’ve seen them skate together a fair bit at camp and they’ve shown good chemistry together.”

    If anything, the Kovalev/Grabovski/Kostitsyn (KGK) line will be fun to watch from the center line to the opposition’s net, beyond that should be be an adventure!!!! (I pity the defense pairing who will play with them!!!). I think most Canadien fans are happy to see Carbonneau realize he needs three solid lines that can contribute offensively especially in 5 on 5 situations.

    With the KGK line in place, Tomas Plekanec will be expected to continue his stellar play with Mr. Smolinski and Mr. Latendresse on the wings. Plekanec will find these two players if they can find the open ice around the net. Latendresse and Smolinski have shown a willingness to go to the net and fight for their space which will allow Plekanec to feed them in the slot or seams of the offensive zone. Plekanec also has to read the play and realize when to shoot the puck as he has a very good wrist shot. Teams/goaltenders will be looking for him to “dish off” the puck as he is gaining a reputation as a playmaker who does not shoot enough. That has to change if the line is going to succeed.

    The Saku Koivu line will be solid with Higgins and Ryder on the wings though they will have to improve their defensive play. Koivu had his best offensive season last year but also had his worst defensive season (-21) of his solid career. He will definitely improve on that +/- figure this year as will Chris Higgins (-11) but the key to the line’s success will be Michael Ryder’s play away from the puck (-25). Ryder is paid good money to score goals but he also has to be willing to pass when there isn’t an open shot.

    The weakest part of this team might be on defense where the team has lost two veteran players in Rivet and Souray. They have added Roman Hamrlik to the mix which should help the team prevent goals against but certainly won’t replace Sheldon Souray’s production on the powerplay. The biggest question mark will be how well and how many games will Patrice Brisebois play this year? When Brisebois is your #4 defenseman, then you come to the realization that your defense corp is not all that solid with talent.

    Overall, Bob Gainey has improved the team slightly over last year’s edition but will it be enough to overcome the improvements made by the other non-playoff teams like Florida, Washington, Toronto and Philadelphia. We’ll start finding out tonight when the puck drops to officially start the NHL season in North America. It should be a fun season for Hab fans or at the very least an interesting one!!!!