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"The Toronto Habsman"
Canada, ON • Canada •
The Montreal Canadiens are coming off of a Cinderella type season, where the so called experts picked them to finish anywhere between 10th and 13th in their conference. Instead, we saw the emergence of Kostitsyn and Plekanec, the resurgence of Alex Kovalev and the Good, the Bad and the Ugly side of Carey Price. The end result was a spectacular surprise first place in the East and a disappointing second round exit in the playoffs.

What do the 2008-9 Habs have in store for us?

The loss of little used Michael Ryder, Brian Smolinski and Patrice Brisboise will not have much of an effect on this team. Montreal will miss Mark Streit, their versatile power play point specialist and winger. However, with the emergence of O Byrne and Gorges as NHL regulars made him expendable.

The addition of Alex Tanguay and George Laraque should transform a good side into a great side. Tanguay should be able to light up the net with Koivu and Higgins, while Laraque is arguably the best enforcer in the game, and the likes of Kovalev and Kostitsyn should not have to fight their own battles.

Young Thomas Plekanec and Andre Kostitsyn broke out as bona fide NHL stars last year playing with Kovalev, and were even referred to as the best line in hockey several times throughout the season. Perhaps best line is a little optimistic, but there is no reason to think that either player will loose a step in the next season and every reason to believe they will continue to improve.

The Montreal defence is not going to look much different than last year. Look for Markov to run the power play, and eat up most of the minutes with Hamrlik and Komisarek. I believe Gorges and O Byrne will both see an increase in playing time, while veterans Bouillon and Dandenault will see a decrease in action. In fact, look for Dandenault to find most of his ice time on the wing.

The biggest area of concern is in between the pipes. Is Carey Price the next Patrick Roy or the next Steve Penny? If the latter, can Halak or Denis step up to the plate? While there are question marks, there is every reason to believe that at least one of the three will provide adequate goaltending. They can’t all stink at exactly the same time, and the competition should be healthy.


Top Goal Scorer: Andre Kostitsyn (40)
Most Points: Alex Kovalev (90)
Breakout Player: Kyle Chipchura
Disappointment: Chris Higgins
Filed Under:   montreal canadiens preview  
July 28, 2008 6:22 PM ET | Delete
July 28, 2008 6:23 PM ET | Delete
nice post.
July 28, 2008 6:35 PM ET | Delete
It still blows my mind that Gainey would trade his #1 goalie and go with 2 unknown quantities, only a couple months from the playoffs! For what? A 2nd or 3rd rounder? It should have been an original 6 final: Montreal vs Detroit.
July 29, 2008 8:25 AM ET | Delete
I am a little put out about that. I have to say Huet was never given any respect from Montreal management. First they keep Theodore as the starter when Huet was consistantly outplaying him, then Abby was expected to knock him off, then Huet was brought up to unseat him. Never did the management seem comfortable with him as a starter, and yet the coaching staff always picked Huet. I'm glad he is making some good money now.
July 29, 2008 10:55 AM ET | Delete
really think AK will put up 90 pts? Bold prediction...suppose though, it is his contract year isn't it? Perform for the $
July 29, 2008 1:52 PM ET | Delete
If Kostitsyn scores 40 goals this year, I will shave a Habs logo in my azz.
July 30, 2008 5:09 PM ET | Delete
I find it interesting how Kostitsyn, who scored 53 points, is considered by you to all of a sudden be a "bona fide NHL star", while Streit, who had 62 points, is little more than "expendable". Furthermore, over in the land of pessimism (Leaf land), Jason Blake was considered to have had a terrible season by many people's standards, yet he put up 52 points, only 1 less than Andrei. Obviously Kost scored more goals and was more valuable, but I would disagree that he was reached that level of bona fide star just yet (and he is certainly not a threat to score 40 goals, at least not yet).
August 5, 2008 7:58 AM ET | Delete
The difference between Andrei Kostitsyn and Jason Blake is that Kostisyn is only 23, Blake is 35 or something. Kostitsyn is only starting to tap into his potential. Kostitsyn is a horse and was a potential 1st overall pick before he had a strange seizure that scared some teams off of him. And lets be realistic, goals are more valuable than assists. Let's be realistic, the second assist is usually not part of the scoring play. If my words don't inspire you, watch him play. This kid is a horse!
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