Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

The Devils in the details

So the Montreal Canadiens eliminate the New Jersey Devils from playoff contention - but the Canadiens themselves don’t have a spot locked up. Things are looking better though, much better than, say, a week ago, when the team couldn’t score.

How ‘bout that Mathieu Darche?

He’s the hot hand since returning from the sidelines, replaces the physical net presence of Max Pacioretty as he plays shotgun to Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez.

Mr. Gomez, by the way, seems to have somewhat woken up. Maybe that walk and chat with Bob Gainey did him some good.

Carey Price looked solid last night, though the Devils didn’t exactly bring their ‘A’ game. Regardless, if the Canadiens are trying to focus on execution of their system, they did a pretty good job last night, and it’s a bright light moving forward to games this week against Chicago, Ottawa and Toronto.

Jaroslav Spacek is back in practice and could be ready to go late in the week. This would be a huge help for the beleaguered defence, as players such as Mara and Sopel are clearly playing more than they are accustomed too. And more, with all due respects to Mara and Sopel, than they should be.

Carey Price leads the NHL in games played for goalies. One has to think he might get a start off this week, perhaps against Ottawa. Jacques Martin would likely want to see his team lock up a playoff spot before Price takes a night off.

As for those playoffs, it’s almost Christmas Eve for hockey fans. It’s looking more and more like Boston or Washington as likely adversaries in the first round. Who do folks prefer? I see the Canadiens having a reasonable chance against both. The outside noise from a Boston matchup would provide distractions, helping the Canadiens in their underdog role. Plus, don’t discount the Canadiens 4-2 record against Boston this year. Recent games aside, they generally play them well.

Washington? A tough one to call, but their defence may be the only one more banged up than the Canadiens. And who can forget last year’s performance against the Capitals. I’d have to give them at least a decent shot at an upset.

Exciting times ahead Habs fans. We know the team has the determination, skill and grit to go somewhere as the second season approaches. The question is: can they be successful underdogs again? My guess is no one will be underestimating these Habs a second year in a row.

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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