Sometimes I hate being right.
After the All-Star break, I wrote a top-ten article about what to watch in the second half of the NHL season. I may have been a little off in some places, but number eight, the Montreal Canadiens, turned out to be a winner.
The Canadiens made a big splash at the trade deadline by trading away Cristobal Huet and setting young Carey Price up on the goalie pedestal. In Montreal, that's a dangerous place to be. The media scrutiny, the pressure to win, and Quebec winters are enough to have anyone thinking about greener pastures sooner or later.
Price seems to have taken it all in stride. Why shouldn't he, with the team playing the way they are?
Sitting second in the East, the Canadiens are well situated to make a run at the Cup. In fact, with the Senators stumbling much earlier than their usual first round dropout (last year excepted) the Habs may well be Canada's only hope outside of Iginla and the Flames.
You have no idea how much it galls me to say that. As a Leafs fan, just the thought of the Stanley Cup in Montreal makes me shudder. Arrogant Habs fans already love to remind us that they are the winningest team in NHL history. Think how intolerable it will be should they make the finals yet again.
At the same time, I can't help but admire the sight of a well-planned and patient hockey club finally reaching maturity. The Habs have built an excellent system which continually produces potentially great young players. After several years of coming close, it looks like the boys are ready to make a run for it.
While all eyes are on Washington, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Dallas, I'd rather be watching Koivu and his crew. I'll do penance to the hockey gods later for my sins, and let the knowledge of being right console me.