The Upper Canadien
by The Upper Canadien on 10/15/11 at 12:21 AM ET
So the Canadiens are 1-2. In two of those three games they’ve been held to one goal or less. Surprisingly, the fans in Montreal are getting antsy.
What’s not working? Two words: special teams.
Quite simply, the Canadiens of the past two or three years have succeeded, largely, due to the power play, the penalty kill, and goaltending. Carey Price is still a prime goaltender. He’s looked good, and while his last start against the Flames left a bit to be lacking, the team was thin and asleep at the switch. I’m not worried about CP30.
The problem, my friends, is the special teams. The penalty kill hasn’t been awful, but it hasn’t been stellar either. It’s clicking at 87%, and while there’s room to grow, the basis from past successes on the PK is there, and I believe it will come around. However, the power play is an issue. A 7% issue.
Thus, it’s a big issue.
The problem is primarily a point problem (enough p’s for you?), and one the Habs have tried to fill with little luck. Andrei Markov, as we all know, is out. The Canadiens brought in Chris Campoli, who also has a strong, fairly accurate shot. He’s out. Mike Cammalleri, who has occasionally filled in at the point with his phenomenal slap/snap shot abilities, is out. PK Subban’s shot is becoming more accurate, but it’s not there yet. He’s a much better set-up man. Lately, folks such as Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn and Yannick Weber have manned the line. Jacques Martin mixes his lines up like a martini, so any number of combinations have seen time. The reality is that, while all are talented, and Weber has lots of promise, none are the answer right now. The answer didn’t play Thursday, and he won’t play tomorrow.
Who’s the answer?
Andrei Markov, or XYZ. For arguments sake, let’s say XYZ is free agent Bryan McCabe. He’s a proven veteran with a heavy shot that has run numerous power plays successfully. Bottom line, the Canadiens need a shot from the point. It’s been their hallmark for almost half a decade. If Markov can pop back into the lineup soon, he is the solution. However, if Markov is out long term - and we really don’t know, because the Habs won’t tell us - Pierre Gauthier must act. And he’s gotta act quickly.
There are obviously trade options. But with numerous regulars hurt (Markov, Campoli, Cammalleri, Ryan White) only three games in, a trade could thin the team further and prevent acquisitions later in the season. Should McCabe want employment, and don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing to suggest he’d want to play for the Canadiens, then Gauthier should make the move. Without a strong power play, the Habs are going to be hard pressed to win games.
Am I concerned? Not really. While the Habs were lacklustre against Calgary, and that was a downer as it was the home opener, I give them a pass due to the injuries. However, that’s a one game pass. I expect a stronger, more focused team tomorrow.
Oh, and I am really hoping I see a better power play.
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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.
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