They’re the talk-of-the-town. When the Canadiens are winning, Montreal is always a better place in which to live. Ten wins in 16 games, first in the Northeast division and third in the Eastern Conference. Sixteen games is not a season, but there are signs that the team can be the force they were in last year’s playoffs.
Never Been Done Before- And what do you think of Bob Gainey’s team rebuilding job now? On April 22nd, 2009 when the Bruins completed their four game playoff sweep of the Canadiens Gainey, who was behind the bench, decided he had a disfunctional hockey team that could only go backwards. Only six players have survived that night, Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, Roman Hamrlik, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre and Carey Price. Gainey not only brought in seven new players through trades and signings; he brought in the right kind of new players. It took a while for it to come together, (the eighty-two games before last year’s playoffs) but, in hindsight, what Gainey did was brilliant and ground-breaking. The Toronto media hype-machine has been canonizing the work of Brian Burke for two years now, without basis in fact. Is anyone paying attention to what has happened in Montreal?
By Comparison- The Canadiens record is 10-5-1 after 16 games. Last year at this time, with ten new players in their lineup and a new head coach, the Canadiens were a .500 team (8-8-0). Their early season included a five game losing streak followed by a four game winning streak. Their 16th game last year was also a victory over the Bruins – a 2-1 shootout win in Boston. Carey Price stopped 42 of 43 shots that night.
On a Roll – In his two games this week Carey Price has stopped 69 of 70 shots in back to back games against two of the NHL’s hottest teams. In the two games his goals-against average has dropped from 2.45 to 2.19 and his save percentage has risen from .911 to .923. Price is tied for the league lead in starts (15); tied for second in wins (9) and among players with 10 or more starts he is 4th in both GAA and save %,
The Rumour Mill – First there was all of that talk about Bill Guerin. Now it’s Miroslav Satan. A couple of local media outlets (first CKAC, then RDS) reported the Canadiens were negotiating for the services of the unemployed Slovak winger who is currently playing for Slovan Bratislava in his native Slovakia. Not so, says his agent Allan Walsh. Walsh does say there are a couple of teams interested in signing him, but the Canadiens aren’t one of them. Satan scored nine goals in 38 games last year with Boston after signing a pro-rated 700 thousand dollar contract with them in January.
Canadiens Player Rep. – Goaltender Alex Auld has been elected the Canadiens representative to the NHL Player’s Association. Auld, who has plenty of time on his hands as Carey Price’s backup, replaces Josh Gorges, who doesn’t have a lot of spare time these days. Gorges took over the job after Georges Laraques was kicked off the team last December.
The “Who Cares?” Department – Carey Price, the starting goaltender for the 2009 All-star game (thanks to a heavy dose of ballot-box stuffing) has been left off this year’s All-Star ballot completely. For that matter, so has Tomas Plekanec, the Canadiens best forward last year and this. Doesn’t matter much. The fans will pick only six players (3 forwards, 2 defence and 1 goaltender). NHL operations will name 36 more players. The group of 42 will then select two captains, who in turn will then choose sides in a kind of fantasy draft. No more East-West format. Will the game be better then what we’ve been subjected to in the past? Don’t count on it.
Hard to Ignore – Centre David Desharnais has at least a point in all 13 games the Hamilton Bulldogs have played this season including today’s (Saturday) game against Grand Rapids. In 13 games he has six goals and 11 assists and a plus-8 rating. Desharnais, who was the Bulldogs scoring leader last year despite missing the first thirteen games with an injury, has been playing on a line with Aaron Palushaj and Max Pacioretty. With Desharnais feeding him, Pacioretty is averaging five shots on goal per game.