Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

Habs at the halfway point

I've been traveling the past week, and will be again this week, but as we're at the halfway point I felt I had to opine on this year's Montreal Canadiens team. I can summarize the first two months in one word.

Wow.

From coach, to first line, to the third line, to the defence, right on down the line, this team has surprised. They are leaner, meaner, faster, stronger, and hungrier than last year. By leaps and bounds. My standouts to date? Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Prust, Max Pacioretty, and PK Subban lead the pack. Gallagher is a Calder candidate, and Subban has to be in the Norris conversation, what with 18 points in 20 games to go with superb defence. Brian Gionta and Andrei Marov have bounced back admirably from major injuries, Lars Eller is becoming consistent, Alex Galchenyuk oozes talent, Josh Gorges blocks shots like they are going out of business, and Alex Emelin is turning into a certifiable top three defenceman.

Who could have predicted this?

Now, there are 23 games to go, so who knows what happens, but I called a Habs top five finish in the East and I'm sticking to it. The division is within reach, but I suspect fourth place may be where they end up. The key down the stretch? Carey Price. He's been hot and cold. If he's able to stay constistent, this team could challenge for the conference title.

Who saw that one coming?

As for the second half, with the trade deadline coming, I see the Habs trying to add more grit and a little secondary scoring. Ryan Clowe or Brendan Morrow would be helpful up front, and another veteran defenceman would assist on the back end, as Therrien clearly doesn't trust Tomas Kaberle or Yannick Weber as far as he can throw them.

Thus far, 2013 is a good news story for Les Canadiens. Let's hope it stays that way over the next two months. 

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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