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Canadiens 2006/2007 Season Preview

  • There have been substantial changes to the Montreal Canadiens since they last
    competed in the 2006 Playoffs. Montrealers believe their team is a better team than 6 months ago and as always there is a lot of pressure for the Canadiens to succeed.

    Can the Habs compete and take a legitimate run at the playoffs and the Stanley cup?

    The Canadiens chances are as good as any if they can get the right performance from the right guys.

    Gone from the Habs are Mike Ribeiro, Richard Zednik, Jan Bulis and Niklas Sundstrom.
    New to the team are Sergei Samsonov, Mike Johnson, Guillaume Latendresse and Janne Niinimaa.

    Those acquisitions try to address the Habs needs for scoring, size and grit which they’ve lacked for many years.

    However, many questions still surround the Habs. All the ingredients for a winning team are there, how they all mix will determine their success.

    Sergei Samsonov will earn $3.5 Million this season and there is pressure for him to deliver a performance that suits his salary. At $3.5 Million and the ice time he’s sure to receive, anything less than 25 goals from him would be a disappointment. Can he do it? 25 goals is no easy feat on a new team in a pressure cooker city like Montreal. Samsonov has not been particularly noticeable in the pre-season which doesn’t mean a whole lot but he will be watched closely and heavily criticized should he not play up to expectations.

    Mike Johnson might turn out to be the Canadiens best free agent signing. Johnson should have a fresh start and a great year with the Canadiens. He comes from Phoenix with essentially no pressure or expectations and will get a fair chance to show what he can do. The last person who came to the Habs in that situation was a fellow named Cristobal Huet.

    The signing of fan favorite Guillaume Latendresse indicates the Habs aren’t afraid to go with youth. Latendresse at 19 is the first player since Peter Svoboda in 1984 to play for the Habs at that age. Latendresse proved in 2 strong training camps that he deserves a chance. But with the hopes of all Quebecers riding his shoulders it will be a ton of pressure to deal with.

    The departure of Mike Ribeiro was in essence a promotion for Tomas Plekanec who will now play on a top line with Kovalev and Samsonov. Plekanec’s past play proved he’s worthy of the spot and now he must prove he belongs there for an 82 game season. On paper that line looks extremely dangerous and it might very well turn out to be.

    Chris Higgins and Michael Ryder had career seasons last year and will be expected to improve their numbers again. Ryder continues to prove he is a strong goal scorer and powerplay sniper while Higgins has shown flashes of brilliance in his rookie season.

    Saku Koivu has to stay healthy. After all the speculation surrounding his eye it appears as if he hasn’t missed a beat and is fully ready to go. The Canadiens need him there to lead the same way they need Alex Kovalev to score goals. Core players have their roles for a reason and need to fill them. Your best players have to be your best players.

    Janne Niinimaa joins the blueline which is the Canadiens most questionable area. Niinimaa is basically getting a fresh start and a chance to show he can play in a top 4 role. Which Sheldon Souray will show up? Can Mike Komisarek show he is a real force to deal with? Will the thin blueline be able to stay healthy?

    Some things remain the same for the Canadiens. Strong goaltending is the only thing that got the Canadiens to the post-season in recent years and that is not about to change. Huet is the consensus #1 starter after a fantastic year and a fat new contract. He still only has a half season of strong play to his name and the pressure is on for him to perform. Everyone remembers what happend to Jose Theodore after winning the Hart and Vezina trophies.

    Should Huet stumble the Canadiens also have a potential starter in David Abeischer who has made it clear he wants the #1 spot. Clutch goaltending wins Championships and on paper the Canadiens look to be as deep in that department as any other team.

    Guy Carbonneau is a rookie Head Coach. Kirk Muller is a rookie assitant coach. Both had terrific careers and are loaded with experience and hopefully they can translate it into strong coaching.

    The Canadiens as a whole have more depth and skill then they’ve had in many years. The future is bright for the organization and the potential to be a sleeper and have a deep playoff run is certainly there if all the chips fall the right way.

    Players to watch in 06/07:

    Chris Higgins
    Mike Johnson
    Mike Komisarek
    Tomas Plekanec

20 Comments
  1. Ok Habs fans, working with both Chris and Mike during the off-season as their Leadership Coach has made me totally impressed with their commitment towards improving their level of play this year. I have worked with many professional athletes and their understanding of what it takes to be GREAT surpasses many of those I have worked with. Both Chris and Mike made it clear to me that they just don’t want to win, they NEED to win. They understand what excellence is and what they need to reach it. Picking Chris and Mike as “players to watch” is a good move.
    Gary Parks
    Leadership
    Institute 3E
    http://www.institute3e.com

  2. #2 HabsFanStuckInOttawa says:
    October 6, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    Im soooo excited for tonight!! I have a date tho….hmmm date or habs….HABS! (maybe both :) )

  3. Lets offer Calgary both Huet and Aebischer for Mikka Kiprusoff. It’s similar salaries (the Kipster earning around 3.5M this year). We’d have the best goaltender in the league and can move Yann Danis up to be a backup and every goaltender in the organization gets a promotion, we have too many good goalies in the minors!

  4. Lets stick with what we’ve got and see how good we are. If we get good performance from Huet,some good defence, and the boys up front break lose then watch out. GO HABS

  5. From what we seen tonight, Huet looks to be on form. However, it is early days (first game :S) but the team is performing very well. Good to see them doing well on the PK and faceoffs, hope they can keep it up

    Habs all the way

  6. Well, we had some lucky bounces and had the game in our pockets late in the third, but then got a bit unlucky. Four goals for the Higgins-Koivu-Ryder line is not bad at all. Janne Niinima looked pretty shaky with two very ugly giveaways that amounted to very good scoring chances for Buffalo. Even though he wasn’t on the ice for any of the Buffalo goals, he looked like the worst defencemen for Montreal. I say let’s give Streit his spot and trade Niinima out of here for some draft pick or something. He is a weak link and very expensive too. In general one point is not a terrible result in Buffalo, the Canadiens looked shaky and disorganized at times, there is still a lot of work to do.

  7. #7 Thunder63 says:
    October 6, 2006 at 10:41 pm

    Can anyone tell me why the whistle was blown just before Briere’s goal the announcers at first said a buffalo penalty then face off and goal nothing else said about it ??? just wondering Good performance overall

  8. #8 Tricolor true says:
    October 6, 2006 at 10:47 pm

    We have a problem, Houston! Our goalie can’t stop a breakaway, and the word is out on him. Go high, and you will score every time! during the shootout, Buffalo went high twice, and scored twice. I have a prediction .Huet will be gone by December. Mark my words! Every team will go high, and score each time. He will cost us every game. Also do you see how weak he is on stopping the breakaway? When you have a 2 goal lead with 5 minutes to go in the game, you should never lose. but you know what? Good teams will always find a way to win, and lousy teams always find a way to lose!If we keep Huet, there is no way we will make the playoffs. I would rather see Aebischer in nets. Also we have NO DEFENCE!Unfortunately Gainey elected not to improve our defence in the off season, and it will cost us dearly!

  9. #9 Leaf's fan says:
    October 6, 2006 at 11:51 pm

    Tricolor true has a point. Weak teams find ways to lose. Kovalev -3. The top line may have combined for eight points, but the second line (Kovalev-Plekanac-Samsanov) combined for a -7. Most of the defence were negatives for the game except Dandenault and Niinima who were even. A goaltender who is up by two with five minutes to play shouldn’t lose the game. Despite the positivity expressed in some of the comments, this loss really doesn’t bode well for the Canadiens. Might as well get back on the Leaf’s band wagon while there is still room.

  10. #10 Tricolor true says:
    October 7, 2006 at 12:06 am

    I agree with Leaf’s fan. We are no better than the leafs, maybe worse, because we have a very porous defence. Yes, they have played only 1 game, but their defence looks like the paper thin, swiss cheese defence of last years(lots of holes)! They won’t go anywhere with that team. Also, I think Samsonov will be a total bust!(just like Bonk). The announcers on the score, he refuses to shoot the puck, always! the second line was AWOL. Kovalev was invisible for the most part. You can’t win with just 1 line! I feel sorry for Carbo. He deserved a better fate.

  11. #11 Leaf's fan says:
    October 7, 2006 at 12:23 am

    The sad reality is Montreal has no blue-chip, consistent players! Kovalev is the prototype of inconsistency. Talented at times maybe, but does not show up for 82 games a season (or even half those games, for that matter), and certainly not a franchise player that one can build a team around. Koivu is a gutsy, little player, but is subject to many injuries. Samsanov? Forget about it. There is no natural leaders on defense either. Whose the starting goaltender anyways? Couple of complete rookie coaches behing the bench. Lots of questions, and not many answers. Will likely finish between 10-12 in the conference.

  12. Leaf’s fan, it is the leafs who will finish 10-12th in the conference. Bunch of old slow farts. The habs will make the playoffs and may even come in the top 5 in the conference.

  13. #13 Rugger says:
    October 7, 2006 at 6:44 am

    Come on. Before the game everyone says they will lose, they always lose in Buffalo. They get a point after the ref’s blew the call on Briare and all of a sudden, we are worse than the leaf’s. I suppose since Detroit lost their first they will finish in last now.

  14. #14 Leaf's fan says:
    October 7, 2006 at 8:20 am

    It’s not that they lost; it is how they lost. Good teams do not lose in the position that the Canadiens were in (up by two with five minutes left.) I really don’t think that the Canadiens have what it takes. Who is this Latendresse guy and why is he on the team when Kostitsyn and Chipchura are available? We’ll see tonight who the better team is, I guess.

  15. @ Leaf’s Fan..You represent in a nut shell THE REASON why the leafs won’t be a threat for many years to come!! i.e. You sound like you know what your talking about but the truth is (Much like the Toronto Star predicting the HABS coming in first)YOU DON’T !!!”Who is this latendress guy?” 1st of all and this goes to everyone..IT WAS THE FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON!!Relax with the “OFF WITH HUET’S HEAD CHANT!” 2nd I don’t know which game any of you were watching last night but the Habs like it or not OUTPLAYED one of The best put together teams in the NHL.Once again I refer back to my own point it was still game #1.But anyone with a good eye for the game, has to awknoledge that once the wrinkles get ironed out,this team WILL BE A FORCE TO WREKEND WITH! Our problems with’n the “D” need to be worked on! Markov Has to wake-up!Bouillon has to get back and we need to get streit back in the saddle! (Christ he had the best camp of all the defense!)As for the game tonight…Let’s see who’s predictions are closer to the truth Leaf’s fan…MTL 5 TOR 2…OH YEAH and by the way…who is GUILLAUME LATENDRESS he’s a talent the leaf’s will be coveting for the next 15 years!

  16. Guys I don’t know where to start. I’m from Mississauga just outside Toronto Habs fan all my life, through generations. I went to the game last night and got harassed, beer poured on me, shit thrown on me and totally disrespected. What a bunch of low class American Hillbillies. This will be my last game in Buffalo.
    We were told to get the hell out and take our Canadian asses with us. That’s what I get for representing Canada’s team. I am 0-7 in watching the Habs, the worst record in history for a fan;
    I just needed a place to vent my frustrations.
    0-7, I have never seen a win live. I just can’t believe it, can’t believe it.
    Samsonov, what a piece of shit. Seriously what a piece of shit. OVER-RATED!
    6 feet in front of the net and he passes?? Passes instead of shooting??
    Chris Higgins what a player. This guy really is the real thing. Huet, Guillaume, Chris and Saku played with their hearts out every shift. That is the last time I will ever go to Buffalo.
    The rest of the team can go to hell! Thanks for the further embarrassment. This was the one game that I really needed you guys to win.

  17. #17 riser8 says:
    October 7, 2006 at 9:23 am

    I agree with Jay 100%. The Habs traded punches with one of the best teams not only in the east but also the entire league. I for one was very happy with their effort and if they continue to play like this they will be just fine. Sure there were a couple of breakdowns that led to the Sabres tying the game late…but overall they played a really good road game considering it was their first game of the season. As for you leafs fan….take your negative comments and go and troll somewhere else!

  18. #18 riser8 says:
    October 7, 2006 at 9:34 am

    Stevejur it was unfortunate that you had to put up with all of the abuse. Hopefully it was only a few idiots that gave you such a hard time. As for your statement that (the rest of the team can go to h*ll, and that they embarassed you) well you are entitled to your opinion….but as a lifelong habs fan I can
    tell you that their effort was anything but embarassing. Try not to take each loss so hard…..life is too short buddy.

  19. #19 Leaf's fan says:
    October 7, 2006 at 9:51 am

    jay:

    Thanks for your ?educated guesses. Myself, I am predicting Latendresse is Montreal’s next Mikey Ribeiro, Patrice Brisebois, and Jose Theodore all wrapped up into one… Honestly, good luck this seaon because it really looks like you guys are gonna need it!

    PS. If the Toronto Star picked the Canadiens to finish first, it only goes to show that you cannot believe a single word that that rag puts out.

  20. #20 Tricolor true says:
    October 7, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    first game or not, when you have a 2 goal lead with 5 minutes to go. you should never lose!This is not the first game Canadiens have lost in such a manner. If you recall, last year they lost several games because the opposition scored with under 30 seconds to go, in the game. My point is, it is nothing new for the habs to blow a lead late in the game. This will continue to happen, because of their shoddy defence. There were no positive changes in the off season to revamp their D. Their D is as porous as swiss cheese.Also, I knew they would lose, because they always lose in Buffalo, and because when you go into a shootout with Huet in nets, forget about it. HE CAN’T STOP A BREAKAWAY! For the opposition, it’s like child’s play. The word around the league, is shoot high, because he can’t stop those shots. He won’t make it as our no.1 goalie, and mark my words. By Christmas he will be demoted to the minors. Even Carbo knows that’s true! That’s why Aebischer is starting tonight.

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