Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pre-Season game: Detroit @ Montreal, Sept 20, 2008

What? What? WHAT????????? Max Pacorietty is ridiculous! This kid is the real deal. Unbelievable! I have to agree with Pierre MacGuire's analysis tonight.....how in the world is Montreal going to keep Max off of the team? I don't know. Who knows? All I do know is that Max is making the decision very difficult for Montreal.

Ok, ok, ok....let's back up.

So, the game just finished, and what a game it was! Montreal wins 2 - 1 vs. Detroit in a shootout with Pacorietty scoring the lone regulation time goal, and notching one in the shootout to help put the Canadiens over the top.

Despite being a pre-season game, this match had the intensity of a 7th game in the playoffs. I was simply blown away by the speed that the Canadiens had, the passes from both teams, the extra effort to get to the puck. Both teams were playing like their lives were on the lines, and it made for an exceptionally entertaining tilt.

Now, with two games left, and the first round of cuts already passed, who has a shot at making the team? There have been a bunch of prospects that have made played great in the pre-season. Yannick Weber has shown that he could be a good, and perhaps even equal, replacement for Mark Streit. Kyle Chipchura is showing that he has stepped up his game since last year. Matt d'Aggostini looks like he is almost ready. Of all of the prospects, however, Pacorietty looks like he is a step ahead and as such, ready for the NHL.

The problem becomes, who will sit if he makes the team? The forward lines, as is stands, will look something like this:

Andrei Kostitsyn - Plekanec - Kovalev
Higgins - Koivu - Tanguay
Latendresse - Lang - Sergei Kostitsyn
Laracque - Lapierre - Begin - Kostopolous - Dandenault etc.

If that is the case, where could Pacorietty fit and who would he dislodge? He is an offensive player and is definitely a top 6 forward. That being said, no one on the top who lines, except for maybe Higgins, is likely to slide down to the third line. This means that the only real possibility for Max, at least initially, is line number three. So who's the odd man out?

Well coming into camp, I think that Latendresse knew (and knows) that there is a target on his back. This is the last year of his contract and I believe that this is a make it or break it year for him. Pacorietty is exactly the type of player that we were all hoping Latendresse would have become by now - but he hasn't. This would seem to point to his spot being the most vulnerable, on the top three lines.

I don't know how realistic it is to think of pacorietty starting the year with the Habs, but he sure looks like he is ready for the big time. Seeing him flying around the ice, creating opportunities, throwing body checks and scoring goals, while keeping pace with Kovalev and Lang, makes me feel like he is a definite and immediate upgrade over Latendresse.

What to do? What to do?

Two more pre-season games left, and the plot twists are only intensifying. We'll have to see how this one plays itself out. Either way, this is looking like it is going to be one hell of an entertaining Habs team to watch, and one hell of a year!

Go Habs Go!


Oh and PS: I think that Price made the save of the year tonight - no-look behind the back paddle swipe - and the season hasn't even started!


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