Kukla's Korner Hockey
by The Upper Canadien on 10/23/10 at 10:30 AM ET
Tonight, the Canadiens take on the Senators in Ottawa, perhaps still recovering from their 3-0 loss at the hands of New Jersey on Thursday. The Canadiens looked terrible against the Devils, going long stretches without a shot as New Jersey invoked pre-lockout hockey to shut down any offence the Habs could muster. Sure, the Devils were helped by the inane refereeing of Stéphane Auger, but the Canadiens themselves were to fault on Thursday as they failed to put forth the effort needed to beat Martin Brodeur.
As an aside, Brodeur did make some fantastic saves, but so did Carey Price. With an average goaltender, the Habs may have lost 6-0. It was that one sided at times.
So, while the Habs prepare for the Sens, a few questions linger from Thursday:
1) What are they going to do about the power play? They have but one goal this season with the extra man, going 1 for 20 over the first six games. Is there an answer that doesn’t start with Andrei and end with Markov? Every day the Habs power play falters, more dollars go into Markov’s next contract, as the Canadiens continue to demonstrate they can’t generate offence without him.
Is a forward on the point the answer? I for one would like to see coach Jacques Martin try either Tomas Plekanec or Mike Cammalleri on the back end with the extra man.
Failing that answer, is a return of the legendary Marc-Andre Bergeron in the cards? Sure, he can’t play defence, but MAB can run a power play. Many teams dress an enforcer as their 12th forward – why don’t the Habs do the same with MAB? Could it work?
2) When will Alex Auld get his first start? Will it be tonight versus his former Senators teammates? Carey Price must think he’s died and gone to goalie heaven after six straight starts. It’s his longest stretch since nine games in a row last season – the only time that happened.
3) What to do with Benoit Pouliot? The man continues to work hard in the corners, behind the net, in front of the net, yet he can’t buy a goal. He’s got 18 hits in six games, but still only two assists. Coach Martin continues to shift Pouliot line to line. Is he better suited as a 3rd line winger or a first liner? Personally, I don’t see another potential first line scorer on the team. Lars Eller has the talent, but he’s not ready. Pouliot proved last year that he can score, and he’s likely to get another look on the first line – but how much more patience does Jacques Martin have?
4) If Pouliot can’t succeed as a scorer, and ends up a third line winger, what’s the answer? Is a trade in the works? I had advocated the signing of Owen Nolan or Bill Guerin in the pre-season, and both are still available. Is one of them the answer? Lord knows Nolan and Guerin have both had success helping to run power plays.
Montreal will be looking for its fourth win in Ottawa, as the Senators come off of a 4-2 victory over Ottawa last night. Alex Kovalev hopes to redeem himself after his awful showing in Montreal last Saturday and continues to try and shake the cobwebs of knee surgery. The puck drops at seven.
• Some had suggested Andrei Markov would return this evening. While that seems unlikely, the Canadiens do play a stretch of five games in eight nights, so his return would be very welcome – especially given the plight of the power play. While Markov continues to skate, the only word we’ve had is Jacques Martin’s mention a week or so ago that he believed Markov would be back before the end of October. Habs nation awaits with bated breath.
• TSN’s Darren Dreger noted Thursday night on TSN that the Vancouver Canucks intend to trade defenceman Kevin Bieksa in the near future, and mentioned that the Canadiens have been scouting the Canucks regularly. Interestingly, Bieksa to Montreal rumours popped up this past summer in a few newspapers. Could the rough and tumble rearguard be on his way to Montreal? He’d add an element to the Montreal defence that many argue is missing. If it happens, I would have to guess BC boy Ryan O’Byrne would be part of a package going the other way.
• Montreal prospect Yanick Weber has started the year off with a bang in Hamilton. Weber leads the Bulldogs in scoring, with five goals and four assists in only five games. Weber’s 16 shots also lead the team. Could he be the answer to the big team’s power play woes?
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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