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Viewing Profile: Mats Naslund

About Mats NaslundA huge fan of the Canadiens since I was brought into the world. I'm named after my earliest childhood hero, the mighty Mats Naslund.

Latest Posts by Mats Naslund

  • Game 74: Habs/Sabres

    It will be interesting if not nerve-wracking for most Habs fans as we meet our divisional rivals in Buffalo at HSBC Arena tonight. The inconsistency of the 2009-2010 Canadiens team has left most fans with a sort of identity crisis and self-doubt normally reserved for dope smoking high-school kids. On a nightly basis we ponder which team will show its face. It is a tiring cycle that has been played out over and over this season with 2 or 3 games of hope, quickly followed by 2 or 3 of pain. And yet, I cant help but to feel that as fans we are often too emotionally connected to the ebbs and flow of a NHL season. If you stop and think about things in a wider perspective, the picture is never as good or bad as it may seem. The Habs are 7-2-1 over their past 10 games. Only Washington has a better record (7-1-2) in our conference. We have been as good as Detroit over our last 10 (7-2-1), and the only team with a better record in the West is Phoenix (9-1-0).  What that means is that in a 30 team league, 27 other teams have been at least as bad, if not worse than our own team over the past 10 games.

    That doesn’t count for much for those of us who watched as Montreal lost two winnable games over the past week. That said, every team loses. The NHL has only seen a few teams each season over the past 100 that could be truly labeled as consistent (in a way that you would want to be). The truth about the 09/10 Canadiens is that on most nights they are average. For a roster with the kind of turnover that ours has seen (even within this season) it might even be expected. There have been flashes of promise, and yet bitter disappointments.

    The good news is that our top goalscorer has returned from injury, as well as a guy who could answer all of our powerplay questions. I for one could not be more pleased to see them return. However, I have to agree with Eric Engel’s assessment of this team’s true need at this point: they have to get back to playing strongly WITHIN Martin’s system. It all starts with the forwards coming far back into the defensive zone for easier passes from our defensemen. This leads to far more successful breakouts, and typically causes turnovers that lead to odd-man rushes, and scoring chances. During the stretch of games that we won, we were able to use speed,  fore-checking and back-checking  to get defensemen and more importantly goalies out of position. If Montreal can return to this philosophy, they’ll be far more effective against an opponent that has employed this strategy very effectively at times this season.

    Big game. Go Habs Go!!!

  • Game 73: Habs/Sens

    As all good things tend to do, our winning streak was snapped by two good dekes in a shoot-out against the Leafs on Saturday night. You’re not going to win every game, but we’re used to it damn it, and that our first defeat in 7 came at the hands of the Laffs is all the more salt in the wound. That said, we took away a loser point and with it squeezed ourselves into another log-jam tying the Sens and Flyers with 79 points after 72 games played respectively. The race truly is on now that everyone has caught up to the Habs with respect to games played, and tonight the Habs will begin the final 10 game stretch that will decide (essentially) whether Montreal plays Pittsburgh, New Jersey, or Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs.

    Earlier last week I asked the question, but I’ll repeat it here:  Who do you want?

    Personally I would prefer the Habs to begin the playoffs on a winning streak. Who they play when they get there is less important. If they can pull of a winning record over their final 10 games I’ll be very confident regardless of their opponent. The team we saw over the course of our last 9 games is a team that can compete with any in the league in a 7 game series. I think they match up well against the Devils and Sabres, although I’m not so sure about the Penguins.

    The first step begins tonight against the Sens. Win and we leap frog over them for 5th. Lose and we remain in 7th. The Senators have been incredibly erratic of late. Their 11 game winning streak before the Olympics has been nullified by their 5 game losing streak since. We’re catching them at a low point, but as we’ve seen before, a team facing dark times can be a dangerous opponent. The Habs need to come out early and really try to fire shots, something they struggled to do in the third period against the Leafs. The best way to get on teams with goaltending issues is to fire shots, and let the law of averages kick in. If its good enough for the 50+ shot Red Wings (what a last second goal against Vancouver), then its good enough for us.

    Big time game tonight. You thought you were frustrated with Kovy as a Hab? He’s currently riding a 9 game pointless streak. You know he wants to end that vs his old squad. Get those feet moving early and get pucks on the net – those are my keys. If we fall in love with our passes we’ll kill all of our own powerplays, and struggle to generate offense.

    Go Habs Go!!!!