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.