Wow, 5 games in 5 nights, if only the regular season could sustain this! Not that I want to see the players injured, but days off for our players means nights my wife has controll of the TV – and I was already sick of So You Think You Can Dance and Project Runway BEFORE hockey came back. Now that the frenzied action has slowed, it gives a perfect chance to look at what happened over the course of the past 5 nights. I have a few key realizations that I’ve made.
1. Brian Gionta… wow. I came out fully against this signing when Gainey made Gionta a Hab for the next 5 years. Time will tell if it was a good signing or not – but I have to say the first impression is good. How many times last year did our defensemen lead our team in shots? Gionta had 5 before anyone else had 3 last night. I’m loving his presence on the ice – who cares if he’s little.
2. Ryan O’Byrne. Anyone who payed attention to O’B in the past week was pleasantly suprised with the way that he has elevated his game. We need him to be solid, and he has been. With the injuries to Hamrlik and Mara at the moment, O’B got his chance and he took advantage. Its great to see, and encouraging for all those who believe that with some experience and confidence O’Byrne can be a solid NHL defender.
3. Shawn Belle. The guy who Pierre McGuire said “has muscles on muscles” was sent back to the Bulldogs after last night’s game. I found that a little suprising considering the injuries on defense right now, and when you consider that he was pretty good in most appearances. Does he need work? Sure, but I won’t be suprised to see him in the NHL soon. If you condsider the possibilities of Mara, Gill, O’Byrne, Belle, and Hamrlik in the Habs lineup this year, I would bet that the days of talking about Montreal’s lack of physicality are over.
4. The Rookies. Does anyone feel LESS certain about who should be on the roster as of Oct. 1? I sure do. Who do you like from Sergei, Max Pac, D’Ags, Gui! and the rest? There is a spot in the top 6 – who gets it? I’m not convinced on anyone really although I’d like to give Max a complete year in Hamilton along with PK before rushing him back to the NHL. Not sure where that leaves the rest. While Gui! would be a good body to have in the top 6, the prospect of Lapierre, Latendresse and Moen is intriguing. So does that leave D’Ags or Sergei? D’Ags still needs defensive work, and Sergei was been hurt..
5. Your starting goaltender is….. Is Price better? Worse? Same? He’s looked good, ok, and terrible so far. Has Halak been better?
The habs have two remaining pre-season games before Oct 1 in Toronto. I expect we’ll see a better representation of the final roster in the last two games in an attempt to forge chemistry before the real fun begins.