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!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Three Guys Habs Blog...

Ok, well I tried doing it on my own, but just didn't have the motivation....probably cuz I am mostly a lazy person. :-)

That aside, I have two buddies who also love to talk Habs, and as such will now start posting their own thoughts here too....hence the title of the blog.



Summer is over and hockey is just getting started...

Hello all....all none of you that is, as I am fairly certain that no one has or does read this blog. That being said, perhaps if I were a little more dedicated and actually updated the blog more than twice a year, that people may read it...

But enough about me....

Well the summer, in Montreal, seems like it has come to an abrupt end and that can only mean one thing. No, not that winter is right around the corner - although it IS - but that the 2009 NHL season is about to start.

The Habs prospects training camp started yesterday and all the buzz coming out of camp surrounds Max Pacorietty....or Max-Pac, as he is very gayly being called - and I mean GAY in the 80's sense of the word.

If you believe the hype, this kid will be the power foward that Montreal has been looking for since the phrase 'power-forward' was first coined - in referrence to Cam Neely. Trevor Timmins says that Max is the type of player that you can't trade for, since he is SUCH a hot commodity. Only time will tell, I suppose. For now, at least, he seems like he is on the right path to the professional ranks. Yes, he left university early....but from everything that is being said, this is NOT generally a preferrence of the Montreal Canadiens as an organization. Having a sophmore skip out and go pro is not a decision that they take lightly, so we can only surmise that all parties involved (the Habs, Timmins, Gainey, Pacorietty and his parents) feel that this move is in his best interest.

Now, the real question is, does he have a chance in hell of making the team THIS year? Given the recent acquisition of Robert Lang, and the glut of talent that the Habs have, I would say, no. However, as Carbo says, it is a jungle, and young prospects CAN make the team, they just have to dislodge a veteran in order to do that. This is exactly what a 19 or 20 year old Carbo did in the early 80's, to make the team.

Speaking of veterans, this team looks like a solid improvement over last year's team. We lost Streit, Ryder and Smolinski, and gained Tanguay, Lang, Laraque and Marc Denis. If we say that Streit, Ryder and Smolinski represented about 30 - 40 goals, we can easily see the latter trio (excluding Denis) accounting for 50....no? I mean, Tanguay scored 20+ goals while having a 'BAD' season. Lang also knocked in 21. That is 40 goals between the two of them. Not to mention the 5 - 10 goals that Laracque is likely to score, and you are up around the 50 goal mark, conservatively. Montreal was already the leading goals for team in the league (last season), so these are great additions for the Habs....at least on paper.

On paper, Montreal seems to have an extremely well balanced team. A team that could and should be a serious threat to come out of the East. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but on paper, Montreal looks like they have the guns to do it. I mean, just look at the potential lines:

1 - Andrei Kostitsyn, Plekanec, Kovalev
2 - Tanguay, Koivu, Higgins
3 - Sergei Kostitsyn, Lang, Latendresse
4 - Laraque, Lapierre, Kostopolous, Begin, Chipchura

That is four solid lines, that can all score. Looking at that line up, you legitimately have 9 players that could and should score at least 20 goals each! Ok, take out Koivu (who may only get 16 goals), and take out Latendresse (who has never scored more than 16 goals), and Sergei (who has yet to hit the 20 goal mark) and you have six, 20+ goal scorers spread over three lines.

That, my friends, is balance. How do you defend against that?

Again, we shall see.

The excitement is just starting to build in this city. With the opening of training camp only four days away, there will be more and more story lines to follow every day.

I will try to update the blog more than twice this year, and maybe, just maybe, I can get one person out there to read it!