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Friday, January 25, 2013

Habs Show Signs Of Promise Early On

Some Quick Habs Notes

Three down, forty five to go. The Habs followed up last Saturday's disappointing opener with two solid performances against the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals.

With two 4-1 victories, the Habs displayed some promise that was seldom showed, if at all, last season.

Through all the excitement that comes with the Habs posting two straight victories, it's easy to look past the fact that they didn't face the toughest competition. Florida has a handful of mediocre players but lacks a top line star. Yes, I'm aware of Jonathan Huberdeau but he has not yet played himself into that category.

Washington has the likes of Alexander Ovechin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green but their play has declined over the years and their 0-2 record heading into Thursday's match up can vouch for that statement.

I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade here, in a 48 game season every single point is crucial and so those were both big wins. I'm simply waiting to see how the Canadiens fare against tougher teams like the Penguins, Bruins and Rangers before I take a day off work for any type of parade.

Regardless of who they played, there are a few things that stood out over the past three games that even the most realistic/patient fans can't ignore.

Andrei Markov

Remember this guy? After putting up three goals and one assist -all on the powerplay - in his last two games the only thing Montrealers will be forgetting is any inkling of doubt they had that he was done.

Markov has lead the team in ice time in all three games this year and has shown no weakness at any end of the ice. His hockey sense is out of this world and his return has single handedly fixed the teams power play.

The Habs currently sit in eighth with the extra man executing a 29.4% success rate. With Markov manning the power play I would be surprised if the Canadiens found themselves outside the top ten at any point this season.

And with five points in the first three game, how good does this Raphael Diaz Character look?
Carey Price

For a goalie who chose not too play abroad during the lockout, Price hasn't looked out of place at all. In each of the Habs first three games, Price has made big saves, been playing with op level awareness and hasn't been caught out of position.

heading into Sunday's game against the New Jersey Devils, Price sits in fourth place among goalies with a GAA of 1.34 and third place with a .953 sv%.

Tomas Plekanec

Plekanec played for his hometown Kladno in the Czech Republic over the lockout and has shown no rust, scoring twice and adding one helper so far this season. It helps that Brian Gionta (2 g, 1a) is back in game shape and Rene Bourque (1 a) is playing with more gusto than he showed after joining the team halfway through last season.

What will more than likely help Plekanec the most this season will be the additions of Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong on the penalty kill unit.

After averaging 20:49 minutes of ice time per game last season, Plekanec has seen an average of 18:39 minutes so far in 2013. The difference is in the penalty kill giving the second line center more time to focus on even strength and powerplay performance.

Alex Galchenyuk

After three games, Galchenyuk doens not look at all out of place. I was at the game against the Panthers and his goal gave the building a playoff type atmosphere. The entire Bell Center gave the first 18 year old to play for the Habs since Petr Svoboda in 1984 a standing ovatioan and when his goal was announced the PA was drowned out by the crowd. When trying to describe that moment the word 'magical' jumps to mind.

As much as it would be great to watch Gally play the year in Montreal, you can't help but wonder whether or not it's worth it to burn a year of his contract on a 48 game season.

Speaking of Gally's, how about this Brendan Gallagher? Gallagher has been quite impressive on a line with Galchenyul and Brandon Prust. This kid doesn't give up on a play and shows a tremendous amount of heart on every shift. He's not going to make it easy for Michel Therrien to take him out of the line-up.

P.K. Subban

I won't spend much time on the whole Subban situation because quite honestly I'm already tired of it. I will say this however, Subban is incredibly talented and still young. Over the last two years his defensive game has improved drastically. It's hard to come across solid d-men these days let alone ones with talent at both ends of the ice.

That being said, he won't be traded. To be honest I'm surprised that the thought of trading him has been tossed around as easily as it has been over the past few days.

I would be surprised if we play three to five more games without him.

Lastly, it's encouraging to see that Joey Crabb's goal scored against Price with under three minutes to go in Thursday's victory over the Capitals was the first time the Canadiens have been scored on at even strength this year.

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Sean is a freelance writer currently contributing to HabsAddict.com. He is also a regular blogger and frequent panelist on the Habs post game show at MontrealHockeyTalk.com
You can follow Sean on Twitter @SeanLloyd93

1 comments:

Pk should sign for 2 years it's really in his best interest to get a bridge contract and then get an extension after this season for a lot more money but if he's tempted by the big offers he gets when he's not a rfa then he probably won't be a hab player. let's hope he signs something soon because we care about the team on the ice not players unsigned , it is getting boring ! 2 years 3.75 mil per year

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