Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

Subban repeat and other thoughts

After two weeks involving moving and a holiday, I'm back to civilization, with an internet connection and lots of opinions. I've also caught every Habs game, and thus far I am very impressed. A few thoughts as we head towards a weekend date with the Predators:

  • Don't look now, but PK Subban is on pace for over 100 pts. His play has been electric, and he is clearly gunning for a repeat and Norris #2. At this point, if Subban isn't a lock for Team Canada, I don't know who is. 
  • The Subban penalties are becoming an issue. Last night, as well illustrated by TSN, he was the victim of a phantom elbow call, and then later in the game he was called for high sticking, when the opposing player high sticked himself. Subban seems to be a target for the referees (along with everyone else). He seems to shut it out and focus on his play, which is good, but I would hope the Candiens would diplomatically address this with the league. It's getting ridiculous. 
  • Carey Price is on. Maybe it was the poor playoffs, maybe it was getting married, but Price seems grounded and focused this year. He's the key to any chance the Habs make a playoff run. Stephane Waite deserves a lot of credit, as Price has clearly changed his approach and it is paying off. 
  • Max Pacioretty is important, but not irreplaceable over a month. Pacioretty has a hamstring injury and is apparently out for 3 weeks (though past injury experience would suggest Pacioretty may be back in a day or two). If Pacioretty ends up out longer, one potential replacement for goals is Simon Gagne, who it was widely publicized had discussions with the Canadiens back in September. 
  • With Pacioretty gone, does the team's game change? He's a big part of their offence. Might the Canadiens tighten up and try and place a more solid defensive game? 
  • The Habs defence is too slow: Beyond Subban and Andrei Markov, they often get caught slowfooted in the neutral zone. This won't get better when Doug Murray returns. Nathan Beaulieu will help as he matures, but this may be the Canadiens achilles heel as the season evolves.
  • David Desharnais is getting better. He had a terrible start to the season, but he's been working his tail off the last two games. He'll break out soon.

At 5-2-0, the Canadiens have had a better start than expected, given their 3-1 record on the Western roadtrip - a trip that generally kills the Habs. The two losses, to Calgary and Toronto, were both close, although so was yesterday's 5-3 win over Columbus. Bottom line: the Canadiens are performing at or above expectations. They play a strong team game, and they've got multiple players (Subban, Markov, Price, etc.) gunning for a spot at the Olympics.

If you're a Habs fan, you have to be happy with the start, and if you're cheering for one of their rivals, perhaps you're a bit more concerned with them than you were at the beginning of the season. 

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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