The last long weekend of the summer is gone, hockey equipment is being pulled out of the closet ... once again hockey season is upon us. Maybe it's the fact that Beer League hockey starts next week or maybe it's the fact that the Canadiens made it to the Conference Finals last year, I'm looking forward to seeing what the 2010-2011 N.H.L. season has in store for the Canadiens.
The roster ...
Looking at what the Canadiens did this off season has left me wondering how the team is going to build on its playoff success. Was trading Halak the right move? Only time will tell. From a long range point of view I think keeping Price was the right move and putting a solid low maintenance back-up in place should keep Price happy and not always looking over his shoulder.
It was good that the Canadiens were able to sign Plekanec to a long term deal, he is one of the top two way forwards in the league and a very low maintenance player.
The Forwards ...
The main core of the forwards are still intact with the additions of Boyd and Ellers. I was a little disappointed to see that Montreal didn't resign Dominic Moore, he's a good third or fourth line player that can kill penalties has decent speed. Based on a healthy start for everyone this season I see the following forward lines:
Kostitsyn Gomez Gionta
Cammalleri Plekanec Pouliot
Moen Boyd Lapierre
Darche Ellers Pyatt
If the Canadiens can get consistent production from its top two line and get the 3rd and 4th line to chip in there should be enough scoring to get the Canadiens in a decent playoff position. If Pouliot can't produce as a top 6 forward look Jacques Martin to get creative and move Moen or Lapierre into that slot.
The Defense ...
If the defense can stay healthy the Canadiens will have 3 solid pairings that should held Price keep the puck out of the net this year. With Markov's injury that could see him missing the first part of the season it will be key for the Canadiens' defense to keep it simple. For now lets look at what I think the pairings would be if everyone was healthy to start the season:
There will be a ton of pressure on Subban to perform as well as he did in the playoffs. He'll get a lot of ice time at the beginning of the season as Markov recovers from off season surgery. I see O'byrne paired up with Spacek to start the season with Gill,Gorges, Hamrlik and Subban getting the bulk of the ice time.
In Net ...
There is no debate who is the number one goalie in Montreal. Let's hope that Price can once again find his confidence and winning ways. Auld is a good back-up and can play some solid minutes when ask and steal a game or two.
In Conclusion ...
Like all teams in Montreal can stay healthy look for them to finish in the top half of the Conference. Jack Martin learned a lot about his core players last year and will build on their successes. The Canadiens got to taste winning again ... Habs Nation went wild last year ... expectation are high ... I look forward to another great season ... as for "Can You Smell It?" that is the smell of the 1000's of local arena doors opening around Canada and that unmistakable smell wafting out the doors.
Let the drive for 25 begin!
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