Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New year, new mentality?

With the new year upon us, it finally seems as the Habs' resolution is to go with the youth/speed/skill formation that we've all been waiting for for so long.

Thus far, the most impressive line has been without question that of A. Kostitsyn, Plekanec, and Kovalev. No one has been as surprising on the Habs team this season as Kovalev has been thus far, as he already has 16 goals, 2 fewer than the 18 he potted last season.

Plekanec has been a fantastic centerman on the "second line", much better than many anticipated he would be. I'm very happy to say that I completely expected this of him, and he is showing us exactly what he can be when used on a scoring line. He has provided us with some beautiful playmaking sequences that have given us something to cheer for that we normally expect from a team such as the Red Wings (but not quite there yet, as Datsyuk/Zetterberg are hard to touch). Oh, and he is also more than capable of scoring goals. Plaky has 12 goals and ranks 3rd on team goalscoring, behind Chris Higgins' 14 and Kovy's 16. Plaky is also second on team point-scoring with 32, behind Kovy's 35.

Andrei Kostitsyn has been a different player since the promotion of younger brother Siarhei (Sergei) to the big club. Andrei has 21 points on the year, 10 of which have come in the 9 games that Sergei has played with the big club. Andrei, as I mentionned in a previous article, is learning where to position himself on the ice better, allowing him to be free for a pass from capable set-up men Plekanec or Kovalev and let him release that wicked wrist shot. This has been the most promising progression we've seen of Andrei since his stint in the NHL, and I definitely like what I see.

Other young guns with promise include a trifecta of 20 year old's currently on the Habs roster. Sergei Kostitsyn, Guillaume Latendresse and Carey Price are all fresh out of teen-hood, and all display a vast amount of potential that has yet to be tapped. Latendresse needs work on his skating before we can begin considering him as the power-forward we desperately need crashing the net and wreaking havoc on opposing netminders. Sergei definitely doesn't need work on his skating, as he is a quick forward naturally. Sergei has also diplayed flashes of brilliance on the playmaking front, as he has repeatedly made great passes to linemates Koivu, Latendresse and Higgins, sometimes resulting in goals. The only work he needs is the usual work all young forwards need, and that is learning to play without the puck. Carey Price needs little improvement, as he has shown that he already can be the goalie on this or any NHL team. The only thing Carey needs is playing time, but with the absolutely excellent play of Huet recently, don't expect Carey to get a large amount of starts in the next month...unless Huet falls off his game miserably in the coming weeks (HOPEFULLY NOT!)

Higgins is showing that he can be the hard-working two-way captain of the future. His great play at both ends of the ice and consistency in shooting is proof that Higgins was the exact right type of player we needed when we drafted him. He brings an absolutely perfect work ethic to each game, and is able to set-up and finish plays very well, with the exception of some glorious chances he's had but has failed to cash in on on multiple occasions this season.

Mike Komisarek is a towering presence, and with each year has taken on more and more responsibilities. The great thing is that he has perfectly responded to all the added responsibilities imposed on him. Mike is a solid body capable of clearing the net to allow our goalies to see shots, making them easier to be stopped. He is also fantastic on the PK, often getting in the way of shots and clearing the puck. In fact, some of you may not know that Mike leads the league in blocked shots with 129, and is 5th in hits.

So, as you can see, our youth has potential, and while some are close to reaching it, others are no where near. They ALL have their best years ahead of them, and we ALL can be excited for the future. With the new year, I hope we have a new mentality, different from the dump, chase & defend...I would like to see that replaced with pass, shoot & skate, and if the recent weeks are any indication, the coaching staff and administration wants to see that as well.


fra said...

Hey Mr. Amato,

I know this may really be off topic; however, there are many speculations that in 2009, (which will be the Habs' milestone year if you will with the All Star game as well as the nhl entry draft) that this will actually be the year in which the Canadiens will change their mentality, and perhaps have a chance in acquiring Ovechkin, since he has shown a great interest in wearing our colors, and many other reasons will strongly support this theory.

sasabainga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sasabainga said...


you're suggestion of that being off-topic isn't as off as you think.

I believe that the 08-09 season will in fact be the season where we can officially expect them to go from game 1 to game 82 with the "new mentality". Of course, they will never come out and officially announce their change in mentality, but there won't be any need to anyways, as we'll see it on a nightly basis.

Yes, next year is of course a milestone year, in specific, the Centennial year (celebrating 100 of the Canadiens franchise). Montreal will be the focus of the hockey world next season, so, in my opinion, expect them to land a very nice free agent or two this off season (for ONCE!). Any star player who craves attention knows that this is already the place to be, but with all the hype already around the Centennial celebrations, and of course, playing host to the all-star game, I expect to land a true superstar, whoever it may be come July 1st. It won't be Ovechkin though! Any offer we make him through an offer sheet, WASHINGTON WILL MATCH! Buffalo matched it for THOMAS VANEK, so why wouldn't the Caps match for Alexander the Gr8? Forget about that theory, trust me.

The only POSSIBLE way Ovechkin leaves is if he demands a trade, which won't bode well for his caracter and genereal reputation coming at such a young age. I'm not saying he'll be a Cap for life, as actually I'm quite certain he won't want to spend his career in D.C., but I AM saying he won't go elsewhere anytime soon.

fra said...

Sal what did you think about yesterday`s game, sure looked like a new mentality to me. It`s been a long time since i saw the habs set up plays the way they did. Everyone seemed to be unselfish and look for the pass rather than the individual shot we are so used to seeing. It seems as though the atmosphere is presently great in that dressing room, they all seem to be having a good time out there.