Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

1-1: Thoughts thus far

The Canadiens have looked decent through two games, with a few standouts and a few question marks. The loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday was not a surprise - the Habs have a history of bombing in openers versus the Leafs, and as soon as George Parros went down, the team looked out of it. I was reminded of the Senators-Habs game in the playoffs when Lars Eller was knocked out - as soon as he hit the ice, the Habs side was mentally out of the game. Which begs the question - when teammates go down, do teams generally jump to attention and play for their friends, or react as human beings often do in other situations, and get distracted?

Given the plethora of freak injuries I've seen as a Habs fan over the past decade and a half (McCleary, Koivu, Audette, etc.) I'd say teams usually lose their interest in the game, which is certainly  how most people would react, but it's an interesting question that I've never seen studied and is rarely discussed.

Carey Price looked decent in game one (great at times, pitiful at others), but looks fantastic last night against Philadelphia. Price seems to have started the season on the right foot, challenging shooters and staying mentally focused. I did not a few big saves against Toronto immediately after goals. Last year, Price would often yield a second goal. A sharp Price will be necessary if the Habs have playoff hopes.

Lars Eller has, of course, been the catalyst for the Canadiens thus far, with 5 points through two games. His linemates, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, have also looked dangerous, and are being rewarded with more icetime than they ever got lost year as rookies. PK Subban has also looked good, as has Andrei Markov, an important factor given Markov's age and speed. Danie Briere has yet to make a meanigful impact, partially due to the absence of his linemate Max Pacioretty. One big question mark for me is Travis Moen. Last year, he looked lost, and this year, he hasn't looked much better, though he did have a decent scrap with Schenn last night in Philadelphia. We'll see if he can get back to the solid defensive forward, and occasional contributor, that he has been in years past.

All in all, a good start for Montreal. They'll face a decent test this week in Vancouver, as they head out on their first major roadtrip of the season. Look for Max Pacioretty to be back in the lineup quickly, as he generally heals like one of the X-Men. Hence, his sometimes 'Wolverine' moniker. Habs fans should be happy so far. This team looks like it is ready to compete.

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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.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com