With nine games under their belt, the Habs have a record that most predicted it to be. With one loss in regulation, the Habs have shown at times why they finished first in the East last season. Some may think the Canadiens should have won their only loss in regulation considering they had fired 51 shots on J.S. Giguere, but they were lucky to be in the game considering their play. The passes weren’t crisp, the defence wasn’t strong and the goaltending was mediocre. Alex Kovalev has said himself that the team has not shown their full potential, the confidence isn’t completely there and the team has not been playing their usual puck possession style at times.
There is plenty of room for improvement starting from the back end. The goaltending has been steady, but the defence needs to be stronger. Markov and Komisarek make one of the best defensive pairs in the East. The younger defensemen need a chance to play and learn from their mistakes. That means there is no room for Brisebois on the team, Ryan O’Byrne has displayed a great physical presence and has used his size really well. The offense can improve significantly with the likes of Plekanec, Higgins and the Kostitsyn brothers who have been quiet thus far. All four of these players are being counted on to surpass their totals from last season. Latendresse seems to be playing well on the Koivu line, his skating has improved but he needs to use his size better especially in front of the net.
As far as the additions go; Bob Gainey looks like a genius with the new comers fitting in perfectly. Alex Tanguay has been nothing but a superstar. He leads the team in goals and has helped Captain Koivu with one of the best starts in his career. Tanguay is a complete player and reads the plays well. If he keeps up his play like this he will be a fan favourite in no time. Robert Lang has been producing, but needs to bury his chances and might need some time to build chemistry with his new line mate Christopher Higgins, Lang and the younger Kostitsyn have made some brilliant plays early on. Lang is a good all-round player. Georges Laraque is proving his worth as well no matter what Coach Carbonneau says, he was brought in to rough up players and defend the smaller stars and he has done that so far. He is also strong on the fore check and is hard to knock off the puck due to his size.
Finally, the Habs power play, which has dominated the league for the last two seasons, seems to be an area of concern. It is obvious they are missing Mark Streit on the point and are not getting quality one timers. They have shown flashes of brilliance on the power play and, have displayed great puck possession, but are not getting enough shots on goal along with traffic in front of the net. It may need some tweaking, but the Habs should be able to get their power play going as the season progresses. The centennial season looks promising for the bleu, blanc et rouge.
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