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The Chicoutimi Cucumber

What's your midseason assessment of the 2008-09 Habs?

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We've seen the good (hot streak, Price, Lang), the bad (Plekanec), the ugly (Kostytsin's concussion, the current slump). What's your take on the team heading into the stretch?

F*ck! I tried to do a POLL on this but screwed up. Sorry. Ignore everything. :angry:

Edited by The Chicoutimi Cucumber

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At the beginning of the year, had you told me that the Habs would be 4 points ahead of last years pace, i'd probably say that I was happy, but the way this team (with the exception of the Laps, Lats and Tommy K. Line) has been playing over the past 2 weeks, I must admit I am worried at what might happen come playoff time. We are missing some grit. We have too many "perimeter" players who are afraid to get their noses dirty.

I can understand a team losing a game once in a while to lousy teams, but it's starting to happen a little too often with the habs (Loss to Atlanta and Tampa). I sure hope the boys realise that if they lose tonights game, they'll be in a whole lot of shit...especially when they get back to Montreal. This should be motivation enough to kick some Panther ass!

However, my biggest disappointment has to be the PP. Even though it has been doing better over the past couple of weeks, the loss on Tuesday was a result (once again) of missed opportunities on the PP. When you get a 5 on 3 PP for 90 seconds, you are supposed to score. No excuses! Put the damn thing in the net..but the habs didn't, and it allowed Tampa to stay in the game!

Edited by Habsfan

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Positives: Goaltending, the habs record dispite having many injuries, more no shows this year then the entire season last year.

Negatives: Soft and lazy, not a good combo. Dzone and transition game. No leadership or character.

About right: The play of the youngsters, some good, Pacioretty, D'Agi, Gorges. Some not so good, Kosty brothers alittle invisible at times, but they are young.

Kovalev? What to say, this year is normal year for him, last year was his best in a long time, but that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee. I don't care if he undresses someone in the nuetral zone, 5 seconds later he always turns it over.

Looking forward: I expect the team will look significantly younger and differnt next year. GC seems to get much more out of the youth and at some point you have to get rid of the old guard who have never produced.

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The thing is, when the team was winning 7 or 9, no one was complaining about soft and lazy. Then there was the early season slump: soft and lazy. I think that should be the strongest indication of how to sum up the midseason so far.

Inconsistency.

They have all the talent in the world and on some nights are nigh on unbeatable. Three games later, they screw the pooch and follow that up by finding a llaso and a poodle. The only consistency we've seen from the team comes from the front office - not making panic moves. If only that trickled down to the fanbase. ;)

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Plekanec has been Koivuying.

Kovalev has been playing well since the beginning; it's just that a lot of his shots didn't go in (how many time has he hit the crossbar this season, even in the ASG?)

Automatic losses when Komi is not playing.

Big Tyts had a rough start, but he has been amazing lately; he'll be even more amazing in the 2nd half

Little Tyts has taken too many bad penalties; we need him to be on the ice, his passing skills are too good.

Carbo has to get back to the " Special K" Line (Big T, Kovy and Pleks)

Lang is a GREAT pickup; yes, he is slow, but he knows how to position himself.

Tanguay is just a great pro, an amazing passer and an underrated scorer.

Lapierre has been fantastic; I'm happy for him; as a result, he is getting more time on the PP and Carbo selects him for shootouts; he was just a grinder, he is now developping good scoring skills.

Latendresse is just playing hockey without thinking too much about " hitting more " one night, or " shooting more" another night, and it has been paying off; he is really contributing on a consistent basis.

Markov has been playing like an all-starall season long.

Gorge has been great

O'Byrne is Brisebois's spiritual son.

Where is Hammer?

Speaking of D, Halak and Price could have had better stats if the blue line showed up more often.

Carbo's coaching has had its up and downs; big down: no adjustment in our last game vs New Jersey; Devils pushed us around, we couldn't play " Habs style" hockey; in that case, you have to forecheck more.

Diao and Pacio have been great; not sure if Carbo will use them in the playoffs because of lack of experience, but their enthousiasm and overall skills could help in the postseason.

I knew Pacio could score, but what a great passer he is ! And he plays well with Kovalev

Edited by rafikz

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I actually like this team more than last years. We have improved greatly at 5 on 5, and I haven't researched the PK, but I think it is much better as well. People complain about lack of a system, and sometimes I agree. I think Carbo sometimes tries to "throw speed at them!" It often works, but it seems like a lot of coaches have our number, and just trap the hell out of us. My biggest disapointment this year is not offensive production or the Power Play. It is the way we give up the blueline and often appear inept in our own zone. I think a reason for this could be that when the play is kept along the boards, and we are not successful at chipping the puck out of our zone, we have left the open ice vacant, because 3 players are lined up along the boards.

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Rafiks makes a good point about Hamrlik. He hasn't been the same as last season. In fact, this could be a hidden reason why out defensive play seems inferior to last year. Hamrlik single-handedly brought order to our own zone last year. This season, he's making significantly more mistakes. I don't say that he's been sucking, just that he's been more erratic, which may explain why our D looks more like it did two years ago.

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Despite one of the top records in the league, I would have to say that the first half of the season has been somewhat disappointing. Lapierre is virtually the only player on the team who has handily exceeded the expectations that were placed on him at the start of the season. Maybe you can also throw Lang, Gorges and Latendresse into this category. Flip this equation, and look at all the players that have played below expectations: Hamrlik, Komisarek, and virtually every young player on the team except Price, the call-ups and Andrei Kostitsyn of the second quarter.

We should probably want a bit more from Koivu, we should probably want a little bit more from Tanguay. We definitely want more from Plekanec and Higgins. Not to mention the overhyped addition of Georges Laraque.

But no worries. We still have one of the top 10 records in the league, we are still - I think - in the top 3 on paper, when healthy. We've maintained this record despite lengthy injuries to Komisarek, Tanguay, Koivu, Higgins, Price, Dandenault and Laraque. Even with these injuries, we're matching, or even exceeding, our record from last season, the one that got us to first place in the East.

So, this is how I will sum things up - the players that exceeded our expectations can reasonably be expected to continue their success. Is it at all likely that Lang, our most consistent forward, or Lapierre suddenly hit a horrid slump? Yet all the players playing below expectations can be expected to pick up their play. Can Plekanec or Higgins or Komisarek find their "A game" by the end of the year? Certainly. So we can be reasonably expected to improve on what we've done so far. The only thing that could derail us further would be more injuries. Considering the record this "disappointing" start to the season has provided us, we definitely have a good shot at re-entering the club that is the top 5 teams in the NHL. And win a Cup. Maybe?

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Price has been good, but people need to be realistic. He is in the middle of the pack in terms of GAA and Sv%. Halak is actually decent for a backup, but is not ready to be a starter. Price needs to be better if we are going to start winning again. Boston players constantly talk about the confidence they have in Thomas (and Manny) which allows them to push the offense hard. It works.

The defense has been average so far. Breezy has been better then people give him credit for, but he is still a 5/6 defenseman. Markov has been great. Komi is getting better after a big of an average start to the year. Hammer needs to be better. He is paid to be in the top 4 but is not where close many nights. O'byrne is not that great, but he is young and learning. I will give him more time. Boo Boo is not impressing me lately, he can play better too. Dandy was okay, hope he comes back strong.

Up front is a mixed bag of mediocre play. Lang and Lap have been better then expected. The young kids show a lot of promise. Pleks and Higgins have regressed beyond measure. Koivu is having his typical injured season with breaks of very good play. Lats is a decent 3rd liner and as long as he plays that way, he will be fine. Tanguay was great prior to his injury.. we shall see..., Big T is doing much better, little T is getting on my nerves. Kost and Begin are doing as expected. Kovalev is not as good as last year, but he doesn't seem to have anyone helping him be better. He looks frustrated both with hitting every post in sight and the failure of his linemates to play well. (other then AK). He seems to alternate between trying to hard to do it himself, being invisible, and popping in a timely goal..

Carbo has done well imo. He really needs a big centre on the team. Given how bad the team has played, the number of points we have is impressive.

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