The first month of this 2009-2010 NHL season is already behind us and I thought it would be a good time to check out how the Montreal Canadiens initiated their season.
The injury to defenseman Andrei Markov during the first game of the season revealed the fragile state of the Canadiens' defensive unit. The team allowed a ton of shots a few games later resulting in an ugly five-game losing streak.
The departure of Mike Komisarek, Mathieu Dandenault and Francis Bouillon was patched by GM Bob Gainey with the acquisition of Hal Gill, Paul Mara, Jaroslav Spacek and later on, Marc-Andre Bergeron. I don't see any significant improvement at that position from last season.
But on a positive note, I really liked Paul Mara's physical contribution and on-ice presence during the first month. Also, Bergeron and Gill registered their first goals with the Canadiens during the month of October. But that's about all the positive points I could find in this defensive unit.
On the offensive side of the game, the Canadiens' top line performed to the expectations. Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez produced well early on, while Mike Cammalleri took a few games before taking off. Tomas Plekanec on the second offensive line did well but his line mate Andrei Kostitsyn (A.K.) has not been sharp.
A.K. has been under the scope for a while and many think that his work ethic is a problem. Nobody ever doubted the raw talent of the two brothers. The results on the ice and the criticism around him and his younger brother Sergei opens the door to a much deeper problem than those two players; the organization's incapacity to fully develop their young talent.
Finally, in the late stages of the month, goaltender Jaroslav Halak helped the team to get back to the .500 record with a winning streak at the Bell centre.
In fact, during the last 12 games, Halak registered five wins and two losses while Carey Price suffered five straight losses. Halak also leads Price on the GAA and save percentage stat sheet for the month of October.
The burning question in the early stages of November that will be asked to head coach Jacques Martin is which goaltender is the No. 1 man? Carey Price or Jaroslav Halak?
Stay tuned for the continuation of this already exciting 2009-2010 season.