Thoughts on the upcoming season
A long long melting pot of rambling is ahead, read at your own risk :)
First of all, I'm very happy to be back and able to discuss and watch the habs with you guys. I'm very very excited about the upcoming season and think no matter where we end up, we'll have a very good entertaining product to watch because of our very well balanced offense. I like the fact that we're giving shots to young players like Latendresse, Perezhogin, Plekanec and Higgins. The good thing is that with some well established offensive players we have a lot more freedom to do it this season. Players such as Kovalev, Koivu, Samsonov and Ryder will be expected to carry most of the offensive load this season which really gives a whole lot of room for the young ins to be in their shadow and be productive members without too much attention being put on them. Also most of those young players already had an important role last season and were given a chance to develop and show us good stuff. So it's not like we're breaking in 3-4 at the same time. As much as I would have liked to believe otherwise last summer, it wasn't possible to bring in Latendresse, Kostitsyn, Perezhogin, Higgins, Plekanec all the same time and still give them spots on the starting line up. We first broke in Higgins, Plekanec and Perezhogin. This season is Latendresse's turn and hopefully later this season will be kostitsyn's.
I also like the general direction the team has been headed in for the past 2 years and what Gainey has done with this team.
I've cried a lot over the past 2 season over some players (Sundstrom, Ribeiro, Théodore, Dagenais), and felt they really didn't belong here with their inconsistency and lack of either grit/effort/overall abilities. Most of the problem players are gone now though, you know, the ones that made you sit there and curse when the team was losing. Those players were, in the playoffs, most of the time no shows and would crap the bed for half the season or more despite being given so many chances to prove otherwise.
It's always been a work in progress. Sometimes you're so into it that you feel changes are not forthcoming fast enough which make you wonder if either you're just not getting it at all or if it's the management that has their head up their butt or a mix of both.
For exemple, I was a bit disapointed when I saw we had resigned Sundstrom and Dagenais and when I saw Theodore's fat contract last summer (2005). But we did trade Theodore last season, and also got rid of Dagenais. I felt those moves were done too late but they did come.
I was disapointed when we resigned Ribeiro this summer, but then Gainey traded him for help on D, which I felt was really needed. We didn't resign Sundstrom, whom I felt brought very little to the table despite what many said. Sundstrom has always been the kind of player that was just there along for the ride and everything that's wrong with the hockey of today. The kind of player that never really tries to make a difference but would rather not be a factor. All you could say about him is that most of the time he was doing the right plays. He'd sometimes score an important goal or pass, or sometimes screw up a play at important times but he never really made a difference on the team. You could just imagine what was going on in his head after a shift where nothing bad or good happened : Phew, I was a non-factor again. Guys like Bégin, Murray (Yes I repent, I was wrong on Murray) make a difference. This is the kind of players we gotta shoot for on our bottom lines. In your face type of guys that make the game tougher for the opposing team. Not players like sundstrom and dackell. Especially true when you're lacking size and/or grit on your offensive lines. You just cannot afford to have players like Sundstrom on your bottem lines if you do.
We also got rid of Zednik last summer. I was always sort of on the fence on Zednik. I always like the fact someone on this team would shoot the puck, but I was always cursing him for screwing up those easy set ups and shooting the puck when an easy goal would have been scored with a good pass. Zednik essentially had the less playmaking abilities of the whole team but he really helped us with his finishing skills. It made no sense to replace him with a lesser player though so he was a keeper all those years. Now that we got samsonov and that our kids are improving, he had become really expendable. As for Bulis, well, I always hoped he'd improve a little and make better use of his speed but the fact of the matter is that this guy will never be a top 6 forward on a good team and he didn't want to be a 3rd liner. He could have been an useful player for us still but the season he spent in europe really screwed up the opinion he had of himself.
I really appreciate the fact that we went with forwards that either have :
1) A boatload of offensive talent : Kovalev, Samsonov. These guys might not put out the same performance night after night, but they have so much natural talent that they'll be fun to watch play when they turn it on and when it's clicking for them on a given night. Even when it's not, they can still pull off one redeeming play that can put us ahead on any given night.
2) Make up for slightly less talent and/or experience with consistant hard work : Higgins, Plekanec, Koivu. Ok I feel a little reluctant to put Koivu in there because he does have a lot of talent AND experience, but I feel most of his success come from his hard work so that's why he's in there. These guys don't have as much talent or experience as the ones I named above but you feel like they always work very hard to make things happen. They are not there for themselves but rather for the team. Unlike players like Zednik and Bulis. Guys who were after their 20-30 goals bonus first, who didn't accept the roles that were given or the lines they were put on and who would shoot the puck when a pass would have been better and vice/versa.
3) Make up for a lot less talent with even more hard work and grit : Murray, Johnson (I think?), Bégin. This is the type of players you need on a bottom line. If you don't have too much offensive talent, you better be a pita to play against. No more small, soft non-factors like Dackel, Juneau and Sundstrom please.
4) Are very young and promising : Latendresse, Perezhogin
The great things about our forwards is that for the most part we have people that aren't too predictable. Remember those night where we had tons of chances last season but we never could buy a goal ? We had so many one-dimensional players. Players like Ribeiro and Bulis who can't shoot the puck to save their life unless it's a gimme. You just knew Ribeiro was going to end up in the slot and either pull off a weak *** predictable shot/feint or make one too many pass. You just knew Zednik and Bulis were going to end up pinned against the boards and lose the puck to the other D or the forward that had backed up. The players we got rid of either had no imagination or simply didn't have the skills to pull off the move we needed them to.
I just love how we gave a chance to Latendresse this season. He probably wasn't ready last season but it was a close call. If he wasn't ready, it was only his maturity, because he had the tools to succeed at the NHL level last season IMHO. You do need more than that though so it's understandable he didn't make it. But not over someone like Dagenais or Sundstrom. That's what stung the most when we cut him last season. You just felt that he would have been more of a factor than these two, for the better or worst.
I love how we gave Plekanec more responsabilities this season by trading Ribeiro who was never a good center for Kovalev honestly. I expect this line to really show up good stuff.
I love how we haven't given up on a kid like Perezhogin yet. I feel though that he's under close scrutinity by the management and coaching staff and that he won't get much of a chance to play with good offensive players this season unless we consider a Perezhogin-Bonk-Latendresse line as a 3rd offensive line or something like it. I thought Julien was way too harsh on him last season and might have screwed something good. He was producing at a very very good pace with Kovalev, and making things happen on the ice. He was taking bad penalties and had other flaws, but his overall contribution was greater when given a more important role. It's hard to tell if his development was hindered or if it will make him a better more responsible player though. Hopefully the later. Or I might just have seen stuff that was never really there :help:
It's definately not all perfect. We do have a lot of question marks. I'm looking at our goaltending and hoping that Abby can bounce back and become a team player (didn't like his comments in the last playoffs, nor his general comments so far). I'm hoping Huet can repeat altough.. he had such a great half of a season that it's hard to believe he can. The good things is that we don't have a long term situation contract wise in the nets and we have 2 goaltenders to rely on that won't get special treatment because they have a big *** contract. We would keep playing Theodore when it was obviously not working, we even fired the coach because he had given up on the "team's MVP" ugh.. If Huet chokes, we'll go with Abby, plain and simple. And Abby will be hungry to take over Huet's spot. We do have options, and we don't have a prima donna in nets. Huet is an incredible team player, you have to love his attitude. Even with all the attention he had last year, you could see him deflect the praise on his teamates and listening to him you never felt it was an act either. He doesn't want to be a star and we don't need one. No matter how Huet performs, I'll always have more respect for him because of his attitude than a guy like Theodore.
We also have a lot of question marks on D. Will Komisarek keep improving slowly but surely ? Will the D as a whole be healthy this season ? If not, is Patrick Traverse really an option, I mean... What about Streit ? He never really impressed me last season. He had good moments but you're just unsure if he can have more of those more consistently if given more time. It seems Markov hasn't had the greatest of pre-seasons so far altough I have no doubt he'll bounce back.
On O, we can only wonder if Bonk is going to come unto his own this season and be better defensively or more of a factor offensively. Not that we are relying on him too much but he does have size and it would be nice to see him use that to his advantage. Not asking him to be the 2nd coming of Lindros, but there are ways to use your size to your advantage without being physically dominating.
Can Bégin's body sustain the crazy strain that his style of play requires for him to be successful ?
Is Downey really a necessary evil ?
Will the media calm down on the unbelievably sick and disgusting Latendresse hype ?
I mean yes, he's got an interesting package.. of skills. He does have big, um, size. And his game really translates well on ice as well as on the screen, his lips are .. whoa.. :propeller
I'm expecting RDS to have a little window in the corner of the screen focused only on Latendresse a la Mario when he made his come back... I mean, there's no way he warrants that much attention yet. He just doesn't and if he was from anywhere else in the world he'd get at the most half of the attention he's getting now. It just cannot be good for the team or for the kid to have that much attention on him. What happens if he hits a wall at any one point during the season and pucks don't go in, and referees get on his back and send him to the box all the time ? Can Carbo really decrease his ice time without drawing undue attention on himself and the team ? Will the media ever realize fans aren't there for the drama but more for covering the team ? *ramblings over*
In closing, it's good to be back. We have a long season ahead of us. I'm putting a buck on the side that it's going to be a more enjoyable season than last one no matter where we end up in the standings just because of the fact the players are more interesting and this will feel more like a real team rather than a bunch of individuals than in the past. Last season we did have team players, but amongst them we had prima donnas and me me me type players. I don't feel we do anymore and this is, at least for me, more exciting in and of itself.
Have a good season everyone. If you disagree with me don't worry about pulling out the tar and feathers, let's keep it respectuous though :)
I'm incapable of reading more than a paragraph.
Where the heck have you been?
Great post! I agree with everything!
But whats wrong with some Latendresse hype? He's a powerforward! it's exciting!
Welcome back and I look forward to argue with you until it leads to petty insults soon in the near future:handclap:
Good to see you back, E. Need more wet t-shirt stories.
I read it all more or less and agree with it all more or less. I'm am firmly at this point on Perezhoign's bandwagon. I believe he has the skills to be a very good player in the NHL. The best thing I like about the team Gainey is building is that it has ZERO room for floaters. You play, or you leave, cause we got kids ready to take your sorry spot.
And Jaane Niniimaa is going to have his best year this year.
Huet - not sure, but he'll at least be decent sp of at least .910
Can't wait to trash the Leafs this weekend...
Welcome back E. Good points. My thinking about the team this year was that I was concerned over what looked like some soft pre season goals. D men, a second late, losing 1 on 1 coverage battles, less than stellar goaltending, but boatloads of potential up front. I was thinking that we may have some exciting if not, textbook hockey. Then I listen to some guys on a panel on Sportsnet last night thinking Huet will excel on a Carbo coached team as they will limit the chances.
So, I don't know. I believe the D can come together and play good team D. A lot of that depends on the forwards willingness to limit spacing, leaving the zone early etc. I think Plekanec will be an important player in whatever role he ends up with.
There seems to be more weapons at Carbo's disposal than any recent Mtl coach, but I see it as challenging to get the most out of them, in terms of position and icetime. This team can battle for the divison lead, or struggle to make the po's.
It's become so much about how teams come together now, that handicapping has become a real tossup.
The recent deal concerns me a bit in that I can't quite see the best line combinations, but that could be me just not seeing the obvious. If a Higgins or Johnson could play C if needed, I'd feel better, in terms of depth for whatever may happen.
Great post E = CH², it's great that the season is almost here, can't freaking wait for the puck to drop.
I don't think I am as high on this team as others, but there's nothing to base it off until the season starts and we see what happens. Huet I don't expect to repeat the great numbers he put up, but hopefully he can be solid. I hate that he changed his pads, am concerned about his preseason but nothing matters until the 6th. If Huet doesn't play well we are in big trouble imo. Abby I am not a big fan of and have yet to be impressed with him based off last year since I didn't see any preseason action. But I think he should be a decent backup since he was an average starter with the Avs, imo.
The defense is a concern with Bouillon being out for so long, as I would prefer to see Streit as the 7th guy instead of the 6th, but then Gainey made a risky move to bring in some help, the cost was high but if Niinimaa can bounce back to a degree and handle the 6th spot, hopefully he can sure things up until Bouillon gets back. I'm not a huge fan of Bouillon's skills but love the way he plays. It will be interesting to see what happens when the Cube is back if Niinimaa is playing well. Personally I expect Niinimaa to play a decent game, better then many seem to be expecting from him, not saying he will be great or anything just better then Streit at least in his own end (hopefully) The rest of the defense should be fine since they were last year and I expect Komisarek to be better after a tough year off the ice.
Please get Markov resigned.
The offense will be interesting to see how Carbo handles them. Koivu sounds like his eye is fine and that's very, very big. Huge fan of his and personally it's an honor to be able to watch him play for another year cause he might not have too many more. I have a ton of respect for the guy, what a player, not the most skilled guy but what a hard worker. Without him imo we are in trouble, so hopefully he stays healthy.
Kovalev is Kovalev, you know he will put points on the board but you never know what player your getting, still he is the one forward that can win a game on his own. Samsonov I have always liked his speed and flashy play but was never a big fan of his offensive game. I think he will produce at a good clip but I don't expect a career year. Ryder gets a lot of heat but he is one of our few shooters and he can put the puck in the net. I expect a better year from him, which will cost Gainey this summer but if he improves his all round game it will be a big benefit for the team.
The young guys will play a bigger role with the team. Higgins and Plekanec look to be a major part of our offense, so the team is depending on them to produce. If Higgins plays with Koivu all season, I have no doubts he will produce and there's no doubt he will continue his excellent two way play. Pleks I think he could have a big year, love his shot and moves, really look forward to seeing what he does in a bigger role. My concern is his consistency, but my hope is that he gets more comfortable out there and plays more of his stlye, since I felt he didn't play with the physical edge he had in Hamilton, where he played a bit on the dirty side. Not that I like to see a player use the stick like that, I think it helps his game. Perezhogin I am concerned about but he could be the most skilled of the 3 and could have a big year, but I'd be happy with 15-20 goals.
Latendresse I can't wait to see what he can do. Personally I think all players should have to go through the AHL, pay their dues, but I was pushing for us to draft him when he was 16, and I think he could be huge for us. Like Komisarek, they both displayed freakish strength at a young age, but we'll have to see how it goes for Latendresse, who is jumping right into the fire. I don't expect a lot from him but can see him playing a big physical game and generating a lot of excitement when he's on the ice.
I expect us to see other rookies. Kostitsyn will likely get more time, we need to continue to break him into the NHL, cause he will need to make the team next year full time. Grabovski, Lapierre, Chipchura, Ferland, Danis, all could see time with the team at some point if injuries hit. Many of them will look to play a role with the team next year, so any ice we can get them this year is good for their progression.
Johnson and Bonk I see as more of a mystery. Both have been solid NHLers over their careers, but we'll see what they bring to the team this year. Bonk I expect to play better and a big part of our PK but I'm not a huge fan of his game. Johnson I feel is soft and wasn't thrilled we got him but he can produce. It will be interesting to see what the 3rd line does, assuming these two are part of that line.
Begin, Murray, Downey, we know what they bring and we can expect them to continue to bring it. Hope Begin can stay healthy since he plays so hard each night, it's got to wear on the body. Hope to see Murray follow in Begin's footsteps, with Lapierre joining the Begin club in the future.
The special teams should play a big part of our success. The PP was one of our main assets last year, especially at home. We will need to click again, the loss of Ribeiro is a concern since he excells on the PP. Samsonov and others will need to step it up, but no one on the team can dish it like Ribs can. Will be interesting to see how things go. The PK was a weakness and could be again, despite having Jarvis and Carbo behind the bench. I hope our PK turns it around, Higgins, Pleks, Bonk, Begin and others should be able to do a good job but we'll see how the defense and goaltending does.
The coaching staff is a concern anytime you have a rookie coach behind the bench, but at least he was back there last year, so he already has experience and with Gainey/Jarvis he has good experienced guys right there.
Now drop the damn puck already! :hit: :stanley: :bb: :hockey: :hyper: :habs
But is he even 20 yet ? Has he ever played a NHL game before ? Has he broken any records anywhere at any levels ? Until he proves it on NHL ice, all this potential is meaningless and can amount to nothing in the end. Especially when it comes to powerforward. Most of them don't come unto their own until later in their career (ie Neely, Bertuzzi, Thornton, Iginla, etc). And, if you noticed a trend, they all came unto their own with another team than the one they started with except thornton, but a case could be made he was never as good with Boston as he was with SJ last season. To play that kind of game you need confidence in your offensive and physical abilities, good coaching and time to realize what is doable at the NHL level. He's not playing against 5'7 forwards no more. He'll face mans that are as big and as strong as him. People have to realize it might take a while for him to really be a factor at the NHL level as PF. And the way it's looking, it seems the less interested and dedicated habs fans aren't realizing this and expect him to dominate right off the bat or pull a Bergeron. And if he's not, I'm afraid people are going to point fingers everywhere (Carbo hates him and doesn't give him a shot, Koivu not being supportive of him and being a crappy leader, Latendresse being lazy himself, etc). When the medias have that bias they've built for themselves, you just know they'll see what they want to and not be objective about it. I remember when it was everyone's fault but Ribeiro's and Theodore's and that's exactly the kind of drama that gets old quick.
He's getting almsot as much attention in Montréal than Crosby was getting elsewhere. That's too much and that is possibly one of the reason why he was so exhausted at the end of training camp last summer. You could see that all the pressure had affected him. How could it have been otherwise, he probably wasn't expecting that much attention either. It wasn't good for him then, and it probably won't be this season either.
You just have to hope the medias will give him a little bit more room to breathe and concentrate on his very first NHL season. He has a lot on his plate. He doesn't need that much attention yet.
Just remember how things are at the moment. At least 80% of the Latendresse bandwagon has NEVER watched him play and no I'm not talking about the people on these boards. I'm talking about the average joe fan that is watching 110% and listening to CKAC who simply doesn't care to know any more and just swallow everything that is fed to him by the medias. I don't want to come off as condescending, or a english/french media hater but people do listen to some of these morons because they don't care or know where to look for real sources of informative journalism on the habs.
I'm just hoping that Latendresse has a head on his shoulders, won't buy into his own hype, work hard and not be influenced by all of what is said on him too much. That he won't lose confidence if things don't go as well as he expected. He does have a lot of potential and I hope he'll realize this potential at some point in the future.
The First line has Higgins and Ryder, who both are still pretty much question marks.
( Will Ryder repeat ? be more constant ? will Higgins show up again this year ? )
The Second line has Plekanec ( Will he be able to keep the '' light on '' with Samso and Kovy ?
The Third line has Mike Johnson, Bonk and Perezhgin wh are all question marks !
and the fourth is the only line that is '' basically no risk ''
Except for Latendress !
Intangibles everywhere !!!!
Including Defence and Goalie position
About the defense ....
Komisarek, Souray, Dandenault were basically non-existant for the first half of last season. I expect them to be better this season's first half. I really think a helathy Niinima is the X factor. If he can QB the PP and use his puck moving skills 5 on 5. We may have the makings of one hell of a fast break team.
We will see where we end up but all I know is that it will be exciting.
Good posts. It's been a long time since the team has been in a position of strength at almost all positions. The Habs lost some size and grit when Zednik was traded but made up for it with the creativity and speed of Samsonov - a shrewd signing and a step in the right direction, in my opinion. Ribeiro always left me somewhat ambivalent but I do think the Niinimaa-Ribs trade is a gamble worth taking. A motivated and healthy Niinimaa is superior to Bouillon in many ways and gives us the possibility of a top six defense and second power play unit potentially few teams can match.
I do have some concerns: one is goaltending. On paper, the present tandem looks good but is it? I'll admit I've never been an Aebischer fan and I've seen him plenty when he was playing in the Western Conference. The other concern is the Latendresse media circus. How much time before it becomes a distraction? Unless Carbo and Gainey keep a tight rein on things, it's not a question of "if" but "when".
We're not at the stage where we can say "contender" or "elite" but we're getting there gradually. The Habs are a better team this year, no question.
J'ai hate a Vendredi...
Just a ''good'' to ''moderately good'' season from Huet and Aebischer and as a whole the Habs goaltending should be improved over last season's goaltending over 82 games. We don't need Huet to be as great as he was last year. With that said, if Huet can repeat or come real close what he did last year for 55-60 games this team will easily put up 100+ points IMO.
Both Komisarek and Souray had the personal problems last year, Dandenault just didn't click until the second half. Just think, we went 12-3 in the first 15 last year with Dags, Bulis, Sunds, Ribs, Theo an injured Zeddy and off-ice distracted Komi and Souray. We had 4 unproven rookies who took time to find their groove in Higgs, Pleks, Perez and Streit. We hit a slump when Kovy and Markov went down for lengths of time and then the colapse of Theo. Huet then turned it on we charged right into the playoffs (except for running into a couple hot goalies; Miller and Brodeur). We took the enventual Stanley Cup champs to 2-0 before a crazy accident took out our captain and were left with Ribs too lead our team.
Except for the uncertainty of Huet we've got a great group of never-say-die players on our hands this year. The Kardiac Kids minus some riff raff. Even if injuries hit or Huet doesn't start off strong, we still have some incredible depth to fall back on this year. We've got a hungry Abby and Danis, a more experienced Kosty, Lapierre and Ferland. New guys like Grabs and Chippy. Niinimaa, Coté, Javenski, O'Byrne... yes even Traverse if we get desperate. Oh and a little guy named Latendresse to replace some soft bodies. Better yet we're once again labelled the under dog this year. The competition is tougher, but so are we.
I have a good feeling about this year :yo:
When I look at this year team I see a well balance line up with four lines that have something to offer. If guys like plekanec and perezhogin have break out years theres no telling what we can accomplish. The most important thing about this team is that we finaly have some nhl ready players in are farm system who can come in and replace a short term injury. Years past a injury to are key players and we would be in trouble cause most of our prospect were still to young to make the team and be an impact player. This year we got kositsyn who his mature enough in my opinion to take on a offensive role on are team and help us out for a month or two. Chipchura will be ready for nhl action in january if everything goes well and he dosent sufer a injury. Grabovski can come in and help out this team for a couple months. Lapierre can replace one of are grinders. Cote is ready for a role on this team. Its important you have this kind of depth because injurys are part of the game and you need players who can come in and fill in for a month or two. We dident have this kind of depth last year as most of are AHL players were not ready. We needid a talented player to upgrade are second line and bob gainey got it in samsonov. We will still see some up and downs this year but with coach carboneau were in good hands to overcome those bad periods.
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