The Upper Canadien
If anyone doubted the knowledge and passion of Montreal hockey fans, here’s a statistic that will perhaps sway you. Montreal is averaging 17,018 in attendance per home game this year. That is way, way down from the 21,000+ they have drawn nightly for almost a decade. This isn’t a surprise - Montreal fans stayed away in droves during the late 90’s as well when acquisitions such as Scott Lachance and Danius Zubrus were supposed to buoy the masses - but it’s a stark, stark drop after only two weeks of play. To put it in perspective, Montreal is 17th in the NHL in attendance thus far.
This is a sign that things could get very ugly this season. Regardless of the product on the ice, if the turnstiles are moving, owners will generally sit pat.
Not when seats are empty. Especially not 4,000. And most especially not when you know that a good product will draw a full house each and every game.
For the full league statistics, as published by ESPN, link is here:
In the greatest trade for Habs Scrabble fans since the signing of Marius Czerkawski, Montreal dealt once touted prospect Brock Trotter and a 7th round draft pick to Phoenix on Sunday for Petteri Nokelainen and Garret Stafford. Nokelainen, a former first round pick of the Islanders, is a scrappy forward who can win face offs, while Stafford, as I recall, is the fellow former Hab Alexander Perezhigin hit in the head with a baseball bat swing of his stick - though I haven’t checked that, and will when time allows.
Regardless, Pierre Gauthier has chosen to act after an abysmal start by the Habs, and act he has: the Canadiens will ice a completely different fourth line tonight against Florida.
Pierre: that’s not going to do it.
How bad were the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night? I didn’t even notice them before the third period.
How bad have they been this season?
The only team they have beaten through six games is the Thrashers.
That’s pretty bad.
The 1-2-1 Montreal Canadiens get set to face the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday, sans their defensive stalwart Andrei Markov for at least a few more weeks. Coach Jacques Martin noted earlier today that Markov will not play in October, and he is apparently rehabbing “on schedule” in Florida (I question the “on schedule” bit, as I recall a certain GM noting that if Markov missed any time he “wouldn’t mis a lot…” but I digress). The Canadiens were most recently shootout losers to the Avalanche on Saturday, going down 6-5 in front of a raucous Montreal crowd.
Pierre McGuire noted earlier this afternoon on TSN 990 that the Avalanche said Montreal was by far the fastest team they’ve faced this year. There’s no doubt the Habs are built with speed. However, the physical compliments, i.e. Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty, have yet to make themselves fully felt. Don’t get me wrong, I think Pacioretty has been one of the best Habs thus far, but he hasn’t had many crushing hits. Cole has been invisible for most of 4 games. And other supposed crushers, such as Alexei Emelin, have yet to make themselves felt the way many were hoping.
So the Canadiens are 1-2. In two of those three games they’ve been held to one goal or less. Surprisingly, the fans in Montreal are getting antsy.
What’s not working? Two words: special teams.
TUC has been traveling for the past five days, and internet has been intermittent. However, I was lucky enough to catch both Habs games in full. Without further ado, a few thoughts, as the Habs sit at 1-1.
- Carey Price is the key to the Canadiens season, plain and simple. Thus far, he looks cool as a cucumber, and he’s picking up right where he left off in April.
- Yannick Weber is the real deal. This guy has a solid shot, and the Canadiens see him as part of the future - hence their dressing him as a seventh defenceman and playing him on the fourth line, just to make sure he gets ice. With injuries to Spacek and Campoli (and Markov), this is Weber’s time to shine. He’s got a heck of a shot and he can run a pretty good power play.
- Speaking of Mr. Markov, reports via various sources on Twitter this evening (originating from the Big T on the Habs blog) that Markov was seen at the airport Sunday, en route to Florida, knee elevated. I’ll have to check to be sure, but I’m fairly certain I’ve read in the past that the famed Dr. James Andrews, who has treated Markov, has a clinic in Florida. I’d dismiss this, except the Canadiens haven’t said anything about it, which suggests they are trying to keep it quiet. That could mean bad news coming. Perhaps a telltale sign in the photo? Markov has his knee very obviously elevated.
I can attest to the fact that there are actually people dancing in the streets right now, as the Toronto Maple Leafs have defeated Montreal 2-0.
Seriously, dancing in the streets. For their first win. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Not a good game for the Habs, in a variety of ways. Price looked good. Raphael Diaz is going to be a solid player. But otherwise, a lacklustre effort for most of the game.
Erik Cole on life in the fishbowl that is Montreal, mentoring Max Pacioretty, and his hopes for the 2011-2012 season.
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the Canadiens nabbed Blair Betts off the waiver wire. And for the first time in a long time, I can say without any hesitation that this is a great move.
That’s right: the acquisition of a fourth line centre for the Habs was a great move. Why?
So what have we got? We’ve got the deepest top nine the Canadiens have seen since 2008, if not earlier.
We’ve got a defence that is in a holding pattern, waiting for the arrival of Andrei Markov.
And, thankfully, we’ve got Carey Price.
About The Upper Canadien
The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.
I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.
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