The Montreal Canadiens represent hockey in many ways.
Attracting a house-full audience at every appearance, the Habs are more than being a provincial team. Canada talks Canadiens.
However, the fans who support this franchise are more than normal. They live and die with it. They also tend to refuse to accept their victories, and sometimes find it unreal that their team lost.
A cherry on top is the centennial season which is in progress this year. It adds to the excitement. I'm not saying there wasn’t enough before—there is just a new dimension this year, because all eyes are on Montreal.
Not only do the fans have great expectations after a spectacular 2007-08 season, but also the 25 Stanley Cups coming home—"Oh, my God" comes to people’s minds. All there is to say is that it is a long journey to that victory.
Merely 10 percent complete, the Canadiens may now sit comfortably in their position. But do they really deserve to belong there? To figure this out, I have put together a report of the Canadiens’ performances in the first eight games of the season (six victories, one loss, one shootout loss).
The Powers of the Habs
1. Through the first few games, one can’t help but notice the chemistry in Tanguay-Koivu-Latendesse line. The fact that these three players gel together helps the team in more than one way.
First, they get the puck deep in the net and actually score goals. Second, it motivates the team because they represent the possibility of realizing that victory is possible, because they have kept the team alive in many games.
2. Andrei Markov is another asset who is contributing to the success the Canadiens are having this year. A player who is expected by many to be a potential Norris Trophy candidate is all about doing his job more than satisfactorily. A solid defenseman who logs an average of 25 minutes of icetime is certainly a good force in this time of game.
3. The fourth line doesn’t get much recognition, but is a factor which forces many power-play opportunities. Their aggressiveness and hard-hitting style helps to keep the team at a good speed. Lapierre, Dandenault, Kostopoulos (really good this season), and Bégin are maybe not the most-prolific goal scorers, but they are a strength to the team.
4. Goaltending is a rather controversial issue once again for the Canadiens. Some people think it’s a positive outcome, and some think it negative.
In my honest opinion, I think that Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak are doing what is required of them. Amazing on some nights and just alright on others. Of course, they would want to take back some of the shots but hey! It’s part of being a goalie.
However, we shouldn’t forget that goaltending does not only depend only on the person in the crease but also on the other players on the ice. Now, that is a potential weakness of the Habs.
5. The Canadiens equally excel in team spirit. Though of various ages ranging from 21 to 37, they show that they stick together. Admit it or not, but it is a positive influence on the team. Fors example, if you watch the pleasantries they share in after-game celebration, you see no fakeness, but just true team spirit.
Motivation is important in any sport. If one single players doesn’t co-operate or tries to play all alone, it will definitely affect the team. So far, on the Habs, everything’s cool!
The downfalls of the Habs
1. The major weakness of the habs as many would clearly have noticed is the power of the defense. A team cannot proceed to win solely by attacking. Protecting their own zone is part of the game and the Habs are having difficulty finding the right techniques.
Perhaps the lack of another solid defenseman is a factor. At the moment, Markov, Hamrilik, Bouillon, and Komisarek are the only defensemen who seem to do their job properly. Gorges makes mistakes occasionally, but does make great plays.
Both Brisebois and O’Byrne seem to have trouble in the debut of this season. Too many giveaways in the neutral zone and their failure to help their goaltender by completing the screen of the other team would like to do has been costly.
A perfect example would be Brisebois, who was statined in front of Halak in the seventh game against Anaheim. That goal obviously made a difference. Defense is a point that requires immediate attention.
2. I have also noticed that our players, with the exception in parts of the game against the Hurricanes, do not hit hard enough to obtain the puck. Also, they give the puck away very easily.
Early in the season, it may not look that damaging, but as games come versus teams in the Western Conference or even the Penguins, it will hurt if we cannot control the puck.
Even the though the number of strengths proves to be much more than the number of weakness, the trouble we are having is serious. If Carbonneau comes up with adequate methods fill the two voids, the Habs will pretty much be the team to beat.
At the moment, luck is in their favour and it is a bumpy ride. Once these get solved, the Montreal Canadiens will be a solid contender. Happy Season!
Thanks a lot for the read. It is my first article, so feel free to comment and suggest on points that I can improve for the times to come.