Montreal Canadiens' Centennial Year Means Big Hopes
This really is it for Montreal Canadiens fans. Most of them are die-hards. This is going to be a die-hard season.
Let's put it into perspective.
This is the Montreal Canadiens' 100th year. The Habs are hosting the All-Star Game in early 2009. The 2009 NHL Entry Draft will be hold at the Bell Centre.
To make things even more interesting, the Habs picked up star forward Alex Tanguay from his slumping habits in Calgary. They acquired tough guy-cum-skill player Georges Laraque. And to top it all off, The Canadiens are coming back from a first-place Eastern Conference finish.
It doesn't get much better for Habs fans.
The only problem is hype. Some of the best teams on paper have been lousy or mediocre at best.
To look at it from a reasonable angle, the Montreal Canadiens have a lot of pressure on them this year. Not to mention their fans practically breathe down their neck guards game in and game out. Let's break this coming year down to settle some hash.
When Kovalev is on he's on. When he's having fun he's even more on. This could be another big year for him.
If Koivu stays healthy, he remains one of the most poised captains in the league. And he's not too bad either.
Alex Tanguay is coming off a couple of slumpers, but we all knew something was wrong in Flame Nation. This could be his true home. Habs fans love him already so that's a bonus.
Michael Ryder is gone. Good for him, good for Montreal. Sometimes these things work out for the best.
The two Kostitsyns are probably the Habs' best-kept secrets. Watch the puck handling, vision, and hockey knowledge. This is the future of hockey right here.
Komisarek. Need I say more than 266 hits, and 277 blocked shots? Second and first among the league, respectively.
After an upsetting end to last season in the playoffs, Carey Price is back at it with more willpower and confidence. Did you see his game-saver against Detroit in preseason? If that stick was a taste of things to come, he could be hoisting Montreal's 25th Stanley Cup.
Perhaps a slightly under-developed defensive corps. However, compared to say Toronto, Boston, and New York, Montreal is still up there. Mark Streit is gone, so Markov, Bouillion, Brisebois, Komisarek and, Dandenault will have to carry the weight.
Jitters. The new comers may have to adjust to the pressure of the Montreal faithful, and Bell Centre can be extremely nerve-racking. Also, the pressures of fans and critics alike, such as myself, may get to them. They're professionals, though. This is what you have to endure to win it all.
Detroit. No matter how good Montreal looks, Detroit always seems to be a step ahead. It could very much be a repeat for the Red Wings. We're just going to have to wait and see.
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