Kukla's Korner Hockey
by The Upper Canadien on 01/20/11 at 10:56 PM ET
With Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges out for the season, the Montreal Canadiens must now get used to life without Jeff Halpern, for at least a few days, and Mike Cammalleri, for probably a month. A few reinforcements are on the way, in the form of Andreas Engqvist and Ryan White, but winning teams generally aren’t made of reinforcements.
The infirmary is buzzing. The Bulldogs are coming. Can the Habs weather the storm? A few observations.
This offence ain’t firing
Brian Gionta has been silent lately. Scott Gomez has been better, but he’s never going to dominate the way he used to. Andrei Kostitsyn has woken up, but Benoit Pouliot has been ill with the flu.
Hey, at least there’s Tomas Plekanec.
Yep, the Montreal offence ain’t great, and it needs to be augmented. Luckily for Pierre Gauthier, teams such as Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton are quickly falling out of the playoff race. Soon, these bottom feeders will admit defeat and start selling of parts. That sets up every hockey fan’s favourite day: deadline day. But if I’m Pierre Gauthier, I’m trying to make a move ahead of time, just like he did last year in acquiring Dominic Moore. Who is the answer? Take your pick. Any of those three teams, along with Florida and the New York Islanders, are prime contenders for a firesale. The Habs should be trying to acquire a veteran forward who scores 50-60 points a year (but hey, the more the better) who’s making $3-5 million a year. And more important than points: he has to score goals. Because goals win hockey games.
The other big key? He’s got to be a free agent at the end of the year. There is no point painting yourself into a corner under the salary cap system. So who’s the answer? I really have no idea, and I don’t have any hot rumours to throw your way. A few guys that might fit the bill though: Matt Moulson, Cory Stillman, or perhaps, on the grittier end, Curtis Glencross.
Nobody beats the Wiz
All I can say is thank goodness for James Wizniewski. The new guy is scoring a point a game since the Habs acquired him from the New York Islanders. PK Subban has been great lately, a solid defensive player blocking shots who throws in the odd OT winner will always be good in my books. Roman Hamrlik and James Spacek continue to be the Rip Van Winkle pairing on the back-end, steady but slow, while Hal Gill is lanky, big, conservative Hal Gill and Yanick Weber continues to progress while no one notices, and I mean that: he’s been very good, yet no one talks about it. A very steady and aware 5th defenceman.
But the fact remains that without Josh Gorges, the Habs are missing a bigtime shot blocker. And if they want to be a contender, they need that. Chris Phillips or Robyn Regehr would fill that hole in an instant. But are they available, and can they fit under the salary cap? Despite what other rumours websites may tell you, at this point no one really knows. But either would look great in the CH.
The Price really is right
Did anyone expect this from CP31? He’s on pace to play 73 games, and he’s still posting a save percentage above .920. There’s nothing negative I can say about Price, other than the fact that he is still a young goalie and will have his ups and downs. But mark my words: he is the real deal, and he has what it takes to remain a starter in this league for many years.
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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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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