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» 2006 » April

  • 7th Straight Victory

    The Montreal Canadiens beat the Bruins for the 6th time out of 7 games. The once fierce and entertaining rivalry has been dominated by the Canadiens recently and this year in particular. The Bruins traded away their franchise player and it has proven to be a terrible move. The Bruins haven’t won on the road since before the Olympics and 2 of those losses were in Montreal. They will miss the playoffs this year after finishing 1st in the East in the last season they played.

    Ryder, Higgins and Koivu scoring means things are going the way they are supposed to. Top players are firing like they should but it’s even nicer to see a guy like Aaron Downey contributing. Everyone including Alex Kovalev had a smile on their face when Downey scored the 5th goal. There seems to be a real ‘team’ feeling to the Canadiens that hasn’t been there in a long time. Everyone seems to be ‘getting along’ and things are meshing well. No more cliques like Theodore, Ribeiro and Dagenais and no more division in the dressing room.

    The game was the last game in the ‘10 must win‘ games that the Canadiens played against weaker opponents. Well the Canadiens managed an 8-2 record and 16 points over those games and have pretty much solidified their inclusion in the playoffs. Furthermore, it’s put them in a position where 6th place is well within reach. Now is a very exciting time for Habs fans who have supported simply awful Canadiens teams through the late 90s and early 2000s. The team looks like it can compete with anyone in the league right now and there’s nothing to suggest that they won’t continue that way into the playoffs.

    The goal now is 6th spot and avoiding the Senators and Canes in the first round. The remaining regular season schedule is a little more difficult then the previous 10 games and the Habs will start it off against Ottawa in a potential playoff preview. Everyone will be watching to see if the Canadiens can continue winning against the big teams in the East.

  • The Hottest Team in the League?

    The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre this weekend for their 6th consecutive victory. Another shutout for Cristobal Huet and an unlikely hero in Garth Murray who had 2 goals to go along with his scrap.

    Why an unlikely hero? Murray is one of the hardest working players on the ice on either team and on every shift. A guy who values his ice time and has been rewarded with more and more responsibility from the appreciative Bob Gainey. I don’t recall Marcel Hossa ever having a game like that.

    People love to get on Gainey’s case when the Canadiens drop a couple games but how about showing some love when his moves pay off? Saturday’s win was a perfect example with Huet’s 7th shutout and Murray’s grinding paying off.

    The win has further seperated the Habs from 9th spot and although there won’t be any mathematical guarantee yet, the Canadiens should cruise into the playoffs somewhere between 6th and 8th spot. Even better however, the Canadiens right now are among the hottest teams in the whole league.

    The Habs are 7-3 in their last 10 games. Only rivaled in the East by the streaking Florida Panthers (8-2) who won’t reach the post-season anyways and Anaheim (8-2) in the West. To compare, the very stable Sabres have 2 wins in their last 10 games and are dropping hard at the worst time.

    The Canadiens are scoring more goals than normal and are getting some of the best goaltending a team can get right before the playoffs. You have to also like the physical element that the Canadiens have added since the first game of the season. Aaron Downey, Garth Murray and Todd Simpson fit into the depth of the team very well.
    If there is a time to peak it is now and the Habs are definitely peaking. The team seems so far removed from the season’s earlier troubles and distractions.

    Jose Theodore, Kovalev’s surgery, Souray’s rough start, Bonk’s early season floating, the Firing of Claude Julien, Markov’s injuries etc…

    What changed? Some credit should go to the coaching staff getting the Canadiens in the right position to be their best. Coaching moves, roster moves. Maybe more credit should go to Cristobal Huet as his confidence and composure has been infectious on the team. Who is the Habs single most valuable player on their run into the playoffs?

    The team is at their best and could pose a serious first round upset threat. No one’s hotter than the Habs right now and it’s perfect timing.