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Take a breath…

  • 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.

  1. #1 PACTUM SERVA says:
    September 22, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Nice read MN but i would keep Max Pac up with the big club. Maxwell is also is making a case to stay aswell. On another note, how much longer to we watch Gui drag his skates up and down the ice? Even with his goal last night this guy is just to slow. He cant keep up to the speed of this team now. I know he is still young but your speed does not get better as you age trust me lol

  2. #2 Mats Naslund says:
    September 22, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    haha touche.

    The one thing we’ve been dying to see him do was get to the net and bang loose pucks in though.. I hear you – he could use lighter skates for sure.

  3. Nice article MN. Nice to hear a perspective other than TSN from time to time.

  4. MatsN,
    Yeah I’ve really liked Belle. Good position, and when he hits, players stagger for a while. O’B has been bringing the same pain to his game. Weber looks like a boy among men, if he stays I hope it is as a forward. Why is Pyatt getting so much ice-time. I don’t think he brings enough. We should trade him to Toronto. (ouch, that was mean, sorry Tom). I don’t know who Martin will keep; I just hope it is his decision. You can see the boys are really TRYING to play the COACH’S game, and that is the first I’ve seen that in a while here.
    C’mon Thursday!

  5. #5 Mats Naslund says:
    September 26, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Last chance tonight for tuning before the Habs open up the season against the laffs.

    Most will be happy to hear that Hamrlik and Mara will be in the lineup tonight. They are paired together so it will be interesting to see how that works out. Suprisingly, Max Pacioretti will be on the top line tonight – I guess his seperated shoulder wasn’t too bad.

    Markov, Gorges and Cammalleri are out.

  6. #6 PACTUM SERVA says:
    September 26, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Hey MN Max Pac didnt have a seperated shoulder as first thought, it was only a big contusion (Bruise).

  7. #7 Mats Naslund says:
    September 28, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Ah! makes sense now!

    In other Habs news – Sergei has been sent down to Hamilton. Most are talking about his “attitude”, but I don’t buy it. Could be because of his recent injury or games played/ waiver eligability. He is much better defensively than D’Ags or Pax, but we’ll see how the year pans out.

  8. #8 PACTUM SERVA says:
    September 28, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Yeah this comes as bit of a surprise to me. Martin must see something wrong with sergei’s game. Hopefully he can work on things down in hamilton and come back stronger.

  9. #9 Mats Naslund says:
    September 28, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Hopefuly Sergei doesn’t have to clear waivers to get to the AHL – I’m sure Gainey has considered this. If we lost him for nothing it would be a huge mistake.

    The AHL could be a very good thing for Sergei. He has been an elite scorer in his career – another opportunity to find his offensive game could be great in order to get his NHL career back on track. Defensively he is ahead of the other young players who are still with the club so it will be interesting to see how guys like Pax and D’Ags handle the regular season workload. As Habsblog has noted, Pacioretti has been practicing with Gomez and Gionta. You have to hope that playing with Gionta will show Pax the kind of habits that he should be developing. Can you imagine Gionta with Max’s size?

  10. #10 PACTUM SERVA says:
    September 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Sergei does not need to clear waivers so that is good news.

  11. I think sending Sergie down will help him in every way. He was brought up too quickly and I think that was his downfall last year. He needs to find his game and Hamilton is where he can do that. With the lineup the best he could be would be a third line player, with not much chance to get the offence going that he needs.

    I also think that the pac man and D’agostini may learn more up here this year, although it could be a revolving door with these guys including Sergie.

  12. #12 Mats Naslund says:
    September 30, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Well I guess Sergei has been suspended by the club for not reporting to Hamilton. What a circus and completely unecessary.

  13. #13 Avatar37 says:
    September 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Sergei has also requested a trade, perhaps as part of a plan to play in the KHL this year. It will be interesting to see how, if he leaves, it affects his brother.

    I haven’t had a chance to watch the preseason games (not televised here), but I have my DVR set for Thursday night vs the Leafs! Should be a good game.

    I think that the Habs shouldn’t be afraid of playing Halak this year, if nothing more than to showcase him for a trade. He’s too good and young to sit as a backup and will leave in free agency anyway. May as well get some return for him.

  14. #14 Mats Naslund says:
    September 30, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    I imagine the truth is not nearly as drastic as the media is once again making it.

    Here is the thing: this same thing happens every season. A player finds himself on the wrong side of the bubble and fears that they are losing their opportunity to show what they can do (hello Danadenault, Bouillon, Begin and Carle). They respond by stating that if there isn’t a spot for them here, they would be happier somewhere else. Media gets a hold of this info and blows the story WAY out of purportion and the player has to deal with a firestorm that they did not intend. The reality is that if I was a young player like Sergei and felt that i wasn’t going to get a fair shot, I’d probably rather move to another team that feels that I can help.

    The problem with this is that the Montreal media and fanbase take this absolutely personal and lambaste the player for thinking that he could possibly be more important for the team – which is not usually the case. Has this been handled bad? Absolutely. Should Sergei have simply shut his mouth and reported to the AHL? You better believe it. Has Sergei become the scapegoat that we so fevorishly crave now that we’ve driven Ribiero, Ryder, Kovalev, Souray, Koivu, Theodore etc from town? Without a doubt. From reading the comments over at HI/O you would think that Sergei had insulted the entire city’s mom today.

    The Bulldogs are in europe right now. There is no possible way Sergei could have ‘reported to Hamilton’. It has come out that he asked to be traded, but there is every possibility that he’ll be in Hamilton as soon as things pick up there. If he lights it up down there, there is a real possibility that he could be back within a few months and everyone will be talking about his attitude adjustment.

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