Habs Fire On All Six Cylinders

I’ve upgraded the Montreal Canadiens from a 4-cylinder fuel-efficient sub compact, to a full-blown 6-cylinder mid-sized North American machine. Many will disagree, but that’s why I love leaving my opinion out there for the public to scrutinize, criticize, and comment on.

As I mentioned to a good friend of mine earlier tonight, opinion is what makes the world go ’round, and I’m never shy on opinion.

Tonight, the Habs closed out their pre season training camp action against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The same team that shellacked them 4-0 a mere two days ago. Many people voiced their concern with the organization as they sat with only one win (overtime against the Senators) in seven starts.

After all, other major contenders in the league have posted far superior records in the pre season this year. Going into tonight, The Leafs sat at 4-3, Boston held a 3-1-1 record, and even the Senators were 3-3-1.

But tonight was the first game that the complete roster of le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge skated together, (despite still missing a few key players in Lars Eller, Andrei Markov, and Ryan White) and the team play was certainly taken up a notch.

Erik Cole continues to show why the franchise decided to acquire him over the summer. His size, strong skating skills, and powerful shot have been a pleasure to watch. He’s been doing precisely as is expected of him in opening up more room on the ice for his line-mates. Plekanec seems more at ease on the ice and Cammalleri is finding himself open in the slot on a far more regular basis.

There is the more consistent and powerful play of Scott Gomez. Along with his usual ability to carry the puck through the neutral portion of the ice, and gain the offensive zone, Gomez is taking it to the net and relying less on the set up pass, taking more shots on net. There’s a new “swagger” in his skating, and what seems like a more calm demeanor.

There are still a number of issues that the Habs will need to solve as the season begins, and strangely enough – it continues to be their defensive woes that stick out the most. Despite a good camp, Yemelin isn’t shining quite to the expectations that were set out, and Diaz still requires a lot of work to be full-time NHL ready.

Having said that, Gorges is looking like a monster and more than ready to prove why he should be a multi-year contract player with the organization. Spacek has noticeable improvement to his game, with increased speed and what seems to be a higher hockey IQ. There will be a lot of pressure on these two to mentor and coach the younger players and direct them. Hal Gill will also be part of that picture, and his continued work with PK Subban will be imperative to keep the young defender growing.

The addition of Campoli to the roster seems like a good fit, and we can only hope that the stupidity inflicted on him in last nights game will not sideline him for any lengthy period of time.

I do agree with many fans and critics in regards to the pre-season play in one regard. The rookies were given far too much leeway in the amount of playing time they received. Their ice time is a direct reflection of the teams pre-season record. But it’s not the record that counts. It’s the fact that the roster team should have been playing together in preparation of the regular season for a stint much longer than one game.

Having said all that, I return to my original thought. That being the six cylinder team that showed up last night. This team has more size than in previous years, and it showed. There was less “dump and run” hockey being played, and the team was able to maintain time in the offensive zone with more ease.

There are many people who will be “chirping” about how terrible the team played in the pre-season, but if last night is a foreshadowing of what’s to come from the regular season roster, then the chirping will definitely be silenced.

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About Iain Carnegie (@emann_222 on Twitter)

I have followed the Montreal Canadiens for over twenty years, even while living in the heart of Toronto. I spent 5 years in the mecca of hockey, moving to the Plateau region of Montreal in the summer of 2009, I've been writing extensively on the Habs franchise at Bleed Blue Blanc Rouge BBBR has now moved to it's new home here at WordPress, , where content continues to matter.
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3 Responses to Habs Fire On All Six Cylinders

  1. mbouf says:

    Iain,
    I couldn’t agree more with this post. Seriously, you’re always thinking what I’m thinking but find a way to write it better than me and beat me to the punch. (DO YOU EVER SLEEP?!). Ha.

    That being said, most Habs fans are too quick to judge the team. Pre season is hardly ever an indication of how a team will do once the regular season begins. Most teams rarely play the big guns for fear of them getting injured. The only thing we learned from pre season is the players on the Hamilton Bulldogs can’t come together and beat an NHL team (who woulda thunk it). We got to see young players come up and test out the big leagues and go back home to continue being super stars there until they’re ready to actually play with the big boys.

    The first game against the Leafs I cannot comment on since I did not watch. I was impressed by le tricolore in game two against Winnipeg though. Cammalleri got the first goal and then went down injured, yet the offense still pulled through and scored another four goals without him. Plekanec scored ‘short handed’ to spark the rest of the team and I except him to continue scoring goals like that all season long. There were A LOT of good things in the game against Winnipeg and the team will continue to grow and learn all season long.

    The boys at TSN even commented that they could see Les Canadiens finishing first in their division and near the top of the conference this season.

    I can’t wait to read more of your blogs this season to read in writing what I’m already thinking. Curious to see if there is really anything we’ll butt heads about this year.

    Go Habs Go!

    • Thanks Mel.

      Well if ever there is a time to speak about criticism, it’s now. Between the axe flying for Martin’s head, and the fans booing the team, it’s clear that it’s hockey as usual here in Montreal. This is the poorest start since 1938 at home (no home win to date), and quickly closing in on a record for the worst start ever.

      I would never have believed after the Jets game, that to date it would be the only win on the season thus far. Health has been a definite issue – even this early in the season, but it’s not the sole problem the Habs seem to be facing. Since the game in Winnipeg, they have shown very little desire to win.

      Is it too early for fans to be judging? I guess it doesn’t help when some sights are polling fans on the topic of whether the team will still be able to make the playoffs or not. Kind of early for that type of fire to be nurtured in my opinion.

      But that’s just my opinion, and I’m sure we’ll find something to butt heads over this year πŸ˜‰

      • mbouf says:

        It’s definitely too early to be discussing playoffs IMHO as well. I think the fans have been to quick to jump on the team too. I mean, sure I was disapointed during all those losses, but you can’t win every game. There was definitey criticism to give different players in every game, and I am okay with that. But some fans/media opinions are FAR too strong and over the top.

        I am happy to see they’ve picked up a few wins lately, hopefully they’ll stay on that track.

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