Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

Habs knock off Hawks, continue to outperform

If I had told you, in September, that the Canadiens would be chasing first in their divison come January 11th after: 1) public feuding between their head coach and star players, 2) the disappearance of Rene Bourque, 3) the absence of their #3 defenceman for the first 40 games, 4) David Desharnais going the first 20 games goalless, 5) 7 goals year-to-date from their big UFA signing, well, you would have called me crazy. I could go on, yet here we are, more than halfway through the NHL calendar, and the Habs are fighting at the top. There are a few reasons for this, the bulk of them named Carey and Price, but coaching and team commitment have gone a long way, as the Canadiens roster has worked hard and bought into Michel Therrien's defence first system. 

The Habs played arguably their best game of the season on Saturday night, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime on a goal by Andrei Markov. The Canadiens outshot, hit and played the Hawks, who are one of the NHL's best this year. Tomas Plekanec was intrumental, shadowing Jonathan Toews while he picked up 11 shots along the way. This was a huge game for the Canadiens, bouncing back from what was their worst effort of the season, Wednesday's no-show against Philadelphia. It also helps Michel Therrien silence the gallery, with media and fans after him for benching PK Subban towards the end of Wednesday's mess.

The Habs have a big two weeks ahead, with games against Toronto, Piitsburgh, Detroit and Boston on the horizon. They head into them in good shape, coming off a strong effort, three points off first place in the Atlantic, and continuing to march ahead of expectations.

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To be fair, there is more to this team than Carey Price.  Subban has been dynamic and Markov has adapted his game quite well defensively.  And Plekanec has been the most consistent skater on the team, he brings it every night.  And Pacioretty, whilst streaky, does have 19 goals.  But, as you note, this is a team and it has bought into Therrien’s system.

That makes the commentary coming out of MontrĂ©al last week laughable, fans were calling for Therrien’s (and Bergevin’s) heads, demanding Markov retire and Pacioretty be traded.

Posted by ransacktheelder on 01/13/14 at 01:22 PM ET

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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