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Twenty/Twenty


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Well, Habs hit the 40 game mark this week. Basically we were fast, fantastic and fortunate the first 20, and at the top of the NHL standings for much of the time.

The second 20 games, well, no need to dwell on those -- we sucked.

Ok, there were injuries -- Kovalev, Koivu and Bonk, our first three centres and our three top-paid skaters, were all out for some time during the second 20 games.

So, now we're healthy -- the next 20 (or the next 18 to be precise and practical, that's our schedule before the Olympic break) -- can we turn it round, win a dozen++ and climb back up in the standings?

I personally don't think we need trades. Ok, I do think Théo is a big question mark right now, but our forwards when healthy are capable of the offence we need and our defence is at least adequate. I also don't think Julien should be shown the door just yet, he is not unaware of the problems the team is having, and finally seems ready top kick some ass. I liked the fact he scratched Ribs/Dags. But Ribeiro is a finesse player, if he gets his head right he could be among the best playmakers in the NHL, anyway I digress.

So what's your call for the next 20 games?

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well, begin has shown himself capable for playing stretches on the 3rd line and and murray has shown himself capable of playing on the fourth. This gave Julien the ability to bench Ribs once bonk and Koivu came back. I think it is important to make Ribs work for his ice time, it seemed to work very well last year.

I am still concerned about the D, but Julien seems eager to try different things out and although I don't expect any knock your socks off trades, I wouldnt be completely surprised to see Dandy playing forward more later in the season (this is under my theory/hope that Komi gets back in the good graces and Streit continues to handle the puck better).

I can't really see Ribs getting moved for a top-6 winger since

1) I don't know if he would bring one back and

2) We have a lot of prospects in the system and might like a top-6 spot for one of them (a rotation of zhog, kost, higs, plek).

but I wouldn't be shocked to see him moved for either a Dman of a grit player + prospect D.

Well, I must say that I would be a little surprised to see a trade anytime soon because it seems like the impetus for a trade has occured a while ago and Gainey didnt move. That being said, as the team gets healthy perhaps Gainey feels more free to exchange parts.

I refuse to believe the team will skid this bad the rest of the year, but in a way I guess this is something of a rebuilding year (although I'm not crazy about the immediate Dman pipeline). In the end, I guess we have too many rookies to contend or play consistently. Of course Julien's apparent policy of rolling 3 lines, 4-5 d seems to exacerbate problems... It seems that as Julien has his full complement of players this practice will cease. Although this will basically be because the 3rd line will become the fourth line.

All this being said, the future of this team is pretty promising, although we will probably have make some changes by next year due to maturation.

This seems plausible for 2006-7 opening night

Zhog/Kost - Koivu- Kovalev

Zhog/Kost - Plekanec - Ryder

Higgins - Bonk - Latendresse

Bulis - Begin - Murray/Sundstrom

Markov-X

Souray-Komisarek

Dandenault-Rivet

Theo

Danis/Huet

Now, Streit could be part of that corps if he keeps maturing... but most probably not. Zed and Ribs didnt make my list and I guess they are the bait I see for the X players... possibly either Huet or Danis gets moved. It is also quite possible that Zed stays top-6 and either Zhog or Kost gets moved as the prospect in a plausible ribs deal. I stuck Latendresse on the third line on the theory that he is supposed to be defensively responsible and could really energize the third line, giving bonk someone to pass to.

OK, a bit off track...

As to the next 20 games? I hope that Bonk and Koivu shake off their rust the team can play about .500. I dont think we are talking about 30 pts, but maybe 20-25. It will be very interesting to see what happens when Plex returns, since I dont see a very clean place for him in the lineup...

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I've got to believe that the next 18-20 games will be better. They better be, because our playoff hopes will not survive if they are like the last 20.

With a healthy line-up, Julien has now shown a willingness to reduce/eliminate the ice time of those who aren't competing. No, it didn't work last night, but it's only one game. I'm hoping too that the closed door meeting last night caused some serious introspection and renewed resolve. I have to believe that everyone's sense of pride in their own play will kick in and cause an improvement.

I just noticed I keep saying "I have to believe" and "I've got to believe". I guess believing things will continue as they have is too depressing.

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Until the defense gets a signaificant make over, 3 or 4 new D, this team will go know where fast. The D is terrible, Markov and Rivet were abused all last night. The D is slow, soft, too many stupid penalties, can't pass the puck or win 1 on 1 battles. I did like the forward combo's last night, the Koivu line was awfull. The next 20 games i'm afraid will be more like the last 10 unless there are some trades on the back end.

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This seems plausible for 2006-7 opening night

Zhog/Kost - Koivu- Kovalev

Zhog/Kost - Plekanec - Ryder

Higgins - Bonk - Latendresse

Bulis - Begin - Murray/Sundstrom

If Ribs and Dags are both gone, then why not take advantage of Ryder's shot and put him on the first line with Koivu and Kovalev? Both those guys are puck possession players with great passing ability. Ryder could set up in the slot and the faceoff circles for one-timers, or pick up rebounds from in close. And the way Koivu and Kovalev can draw defenders carrying the puck, he should be able to find those open spots.

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Agree with much of the above, but I want to "believe" as well.

Because the first line is healthy (and Bonk and Bégin make a big difference as well), I figure we will pick up 25 points in the 18 games before the Turin break. Have to see what becomes of the many trade rumors going round now, just speculation or is something going to happen soon I wonder?

Anyway I want to believe the worst is over, but what do I know -- I'm the guy who brews a pot of tea expecting it will cause Dagenais to score a goal... ;)

Edited by JeanLucPilon
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Some players have to pick it up. We all know about Ribiero's struggles, but Zednik's play has been disgusting, frankly.

All he's proven this season is that there is no way that he's first line material. 16 points in 28 games? Come on..hardly production for a supposed sniper.

It's a known fact that Kovalev takes nights off, and Koivu needs the other winger on the line to step up those nights. Zednik just can't do that.

Perhaps they should give Bonk a chance on the number two line?

They've got to get Komisarek in there more often..Souray is getting back on track. Scratch Streit for a bit and give Komisarek a fair shot. And as for Dandenault, yeesh. He's fast as a -- that's for sure..but his defensive game has never been really great. Same goes for offense. His greatest asset is that he can play both positions. Don't know if that equates to a 4 yr contract though. But he can't be relied on as a top four defenseman.

Therein lies the defense's troubles..

Julien has a top-two guy most of the time in Markov. Souray can be a top four guy easily, if he plays as we've seen he can. But Rivet isn't really a guy who can log big amounts of icetime and still play well. Likewise for Dandenault and Bouillon. And don't get me started on Streit. The key to most clubs is their top four..for example look at Ottawa - Chara, Redden, Volchenkov, Phillips. No one cares that Pothier is the sixth defenseman.

Whereas Montreal has an excess of fifth/sixth defensemen and a lack of top four guys.

Of course, if Theodore would just be better in net..we might not be talking about this. But the facts are that Montreal has won 6 of their last 22 games! If that doesn't call for change, I don't know what will.

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The problem is that 25 points won't be enough to get us to the playoffs. From where we are I think we need atleast 30. If we want any hope of going to the second round of the playoffs we better not finish in 8th spot. Ottawa will pound us.

And that's where Boston went wrong. Twice. But if we do end up in 8th (and Ottawa in 1st) then I really doubt we win. I'd be happy losing the series 4-2. To me, the Habs can still hit 6th place by just playing normally. Without underachieving or overahcieving they should pass a couple of teams like Toornto because in reality they are more talented.

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Even if Theo stands on his head everynight, the problem with the D is still the same. Like the other poster said, we have a bunch of 5 and 6 D-men no real top 4 D-men. Markov on just about every other team is still a number 3. The habs need a top D man to play with Markov, a solid #3 to play with Dandy, a player similar to a "Tom poti" (some who can skate and be on the second PP to play with Komi as a 5 and 6 d man. I've had enough of Soray, Rivet, Bouillon (although i do like his work ethic) getting abused all night. Dandy is not much beter nut with his 4 year deal, he'll be tough to move.

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If the Canadiens stay healthy over the next 18 games they can easily earn 30 points. I believe Theo will improve with a full team in front of him. Before the Olympic break don’t be surprised to see the Canadiens in 6th place. I know this is optimistic but I believe they can do it.

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Three things need to happen for the Habs to make the playoffs:

1. Theodore MUST play better. I was glad he got jeered last night; he needs to know that the funds of goodwill he earned in 2001-02 are just about used up. I for one am sick of his inconsistency - deliver or get the f**k out of town, pal.

2. Ribeiro or Bonk or even Bulis must start playing like legitimate 2nd-line centremen on a consistent basis. I doubt that Ribeiro will be the one to do it.

3. Our key D-men, as well as Kovalev nor Koivu, must avoid longer-term injuries. (I don't believe our D is all that bad; the problem is more the lack of depth than the personnel we're icing, especially given Souray's improved play of late).

Other things -e.g., Zednik finding his game, rookies getting in a groove - would be bonuses. But better goaltending and secondary scoring are absolute musts.

Edited by The Chicoutimi Cucumber
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Three things need to happen for the Habs to make the playoffs:

1. Theodore MUST play better. I was glad he got jeered last night; he needs to know that the funds of goodwill he earned in 2001-02 are just about used up. I for one am sick of his inconsistency - deliver or get the f**k out of town, pal.

2. Ribeiro or Bonk or even Bulis must start playing like legitimate 2nd-line centremen on a consistent basis. I doubt that Ribeiro will be the one to do it.

3. Our key D-men, as well as Kovalev nor Koivu, must avoid longer-term injuries. (I don't believe our D is all that bad; the problem is more the lack of depth than the personnel we're icing, especially given Souray's improved play of late).

Other things -e.g., Zednik finding his game, rookies getting in a groove - would be bonuses. But better goaltending and secondary scoring are absolute musts.

6 posts in, and I think all of them have been between 150 - 200 words.

I like that. Keep it up.

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1. Theodore MUST play better. I was glad he got jeered last night; he needs to know that the funds of goodwill he earned in 2001-02 are just about used up. I for one am sick of his inconsistency - deliver or get the f**k out of town, pal.

If it were up to me I'd bring Danis up, we are allowed to send Huet down for conditioning aren't we? If not we carry three for games when the Dogs have a night off. Put Danis in and suddenly Théo is watching a real rival, Danis got our only shutout this year. If possible, he could be either platooned with Théo or we could start one or the other till they lose. It could make for some intense play between the pipes, and with that, over the next 20 games we would do very well.

Edited by JeanLucPilon
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6 posts in, and I think all of them have been between 150 - 200 words.

I like that. Keep it up.

Way to break the streak! :P

Why are people hoping for 20 points in 20 games? If that happens we will almost definitely miss the playoffs. A team getting an 82 point season is way out of the playoffs. We should be aiming for 6th. Anything less will be a disappointment of a season, IMO, considering the talent that's on the team. But due to our 2 month slide, 6th looks like the best we can get. We need atleast 25-30 points in the next few weeks. Luckily some teams like Buffalo will start to drop so this is our chance to pass Toronto and Buffalo and go back where we belong - 2nd in the division.

Now to me the season will be a success if we get 7th seed or higher AND make a trade/move that helps the team. Like trade Ribeiro, shape up the second line and/or find a good or offensive defenceman. These are some lines I'd like to see next season:

Perezhogin-Koivu-Kovalev

Bulis-Plekanec-Ryder

Higgins-Bonk-Sundstrom

Ferland-Begin-Murray

Markov-X

Souray-Komisarek

Dandenault-Rivet

Bouillon-Streit

Theodore

Huet

What I don't like is Bouillon being the 7th defenceman buyt I guess Dandenault can be called up and take Ferland or Murray's place when needed. I was thinking about slipping Kostitsyn, Chipchura and Latendresse onto our roster but I don't know if they'll make the team ahead of more NHL-ready guys like Murray and Ferland. Sure, if you use the logic "Latendresse almost made it last year so for sure he'll make it this year" then he sounds like a lock but Gui is inconsistent so who knows how he'll play in the preseason. Kostitsyn is getting a few games this season but another season in Hamilton will definitely do him good. He's only 20. Chipchura is the most likely to make the team. If he does then we'd have to demote Ferland, move Begin to LW and drop Bonk to the 4th line (which he shouldn't be on). So unless we get rid of another player we have no room for all these guys. Sundstrom might be gone and that could help us. Mr. X is a quality defenceman that we either sign or trade Ribeiro and/or Dagenais and/or Zednik for. Huet over Danis is a toss up and frankly I don't care who wins. Okay, that post was a whole lot of nothing os I think I'll stop here.

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I agree on the main points.

I also think we're missing some toughness. This is where Komi not playing is hurting us as well. Teams are taking cheap shots at our goalies every game it seems, and there is nobody on CH to really put any fear in them. Not to make excuses for Jose "1 softie per game" Theodore, but this can't be helping either.

Finally, there's the issue of ice time. Julien needs to show faith in all his lines, not start double-shifting guys late. If he doesn't have what he needs, have Gainey get him help. We DO have some spare parts, and this is the time where the team should have an established identity.

Rebuilding is fine, regressing is not - we get outshot just about every friggin game these days..........not fun.

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Honestly, I'd say goodbye to either Plekanec or Higgins if it meant getting a solid d man back. I'd miss them, yes, but the Habs are overflowing with forward prospects and there just won't be enough room in the next few years.

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