Maybe it's just too early to tell, but the Montreal Canadiens seem to have the right mix to compete with the bigger, badder teams in the NHL.
With 46 minutes in penalty minutes—including 26 to the Canadiens themselves— handed out during the sometimes-dirty Monday-night tilt with their Eastern Conference rivals from Philadelphia, the Canadiens didn't seem to back down—as they did in the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Scrappy Maxim Lapierre and Guillame Latendresse both dropped the gloves during the game to scrap with the Flyers. Along with the fights, the Canadiens stature seems to be larger this year than anytime in the past few years.
During the game, Robert Lang's large six-foot-plus frame was a presence in front of the net, and Latendresse's size along with the ever-present scrappiness of Tom Kostopolous, Steve Begin, and Mathieu Dandenault have given the Canadiens the mixture of size and skill that they so badly needed against the Flyers in last year's semis.
Monday's night tilt showed the NHL that the Canadiens aren't the small team that didn't fight back anymore. Not to mention the fact that Georges Laraque was sitting in the press box for the first three games of the season.
It may be too early to tell, but the Canadiens seem to have the size along with the skill and speed to be able to competitive with the larger, bruising teams of the NHL.