Habs Report: Opening week shows promise

Ok, so Wednesday’s game had us all thinking “Sheldon who?” Elated fans everywhere were reveling in the Habs debut performance. We were, however, brought back down to earth quickly on Saturday after being defeated by the arch-nemesis Leafs. Still, you can’t help but notice a few things about the Habs’ first run this week – their style, their speed, everything seemed just a little better than last season.

Ok, so Wednesday’s game had us all thinking “Sheldon who?” Elated fans everywhere were reveling in the Habs debut performance. We were, however, brought back down to earth quickly on Saturday after being defeated by the arch-nemesis Leafs. Still, you can’t help but
notice a few things about the Habs’ first run this week – their style, their speed, everything seemed just a
little better than last season.
There was a previously unknown cohesion among the Habs in their opening game. Despite taking
several sloppy penalties in the first period, the chemistry among the team was tangible. Perhaps it’s the young blood on the ice, a fresh mixture of new energy and veteran
talent.
Regardless of the reason, the change was noteworthy. The passes were tight and quick, and everyone just seemed to be in the right position. They moved the puck much better; setting up plays and outwitting the defense, as opposed to the familiar dump-‘n-chase that makes fans cringe in their seats. Even Alexei Kovalev and his two newbies were setting each other up well; perhaps the role of mentor suits Kovalev well. The Higgins-Ryder-Koivu line also demonstrated great solidity and structure, passing the puck to each other with ease and obvious trust.
Mark Streit’s performance on Wednesday offered a glimpse of hope for the team’s PP, which was ranked tops in the NHL last season at 22.8 per cent. His rocket shot from the point was reminiscent of the #44 we thought we’d miss. Streit made it clear that this was no accident, telling reporters that he spent a huge portion of the
off-season training to be on the first powerplay line.
In addition to Streit, Captain K also showed up to play on Wednesday, which he made clear by knocking in the other two goals of the night, giving Montreal the win in OT. He also seemed to posses a newfound energy and hunger for the win.
Although it wasn’t as consistent throughout Saturday’s game, there were flashes of the same organization that was shown on Wednesday. There were, however, quite a few obvious mistakes made.
Lets start with Brisebois. In addition to being guilty of at least two bad giveaways, he blatantly avoided contact in the corners and seemed lost with the puck. He does have a bad back, but contact is a huge part of the sport and you can’t falter with the puck because you’re afraid to get hit.
Huet was another player that didn’t fully deliver last night. The first goal on him was nice, but it could be easily argued that he went down too quickly – something he’s known for. The other two in regular time were another story. His puck handling on that second goal was almost as bad as his lateral movement. He gave them that goal, literally, he handed the puck right to them. The third goal wasn’t as bad, but still could’ve been stopped. The OT goal was more excusable because it was on the PK, but overall his performance wasn’t stellar.
However Koivu, Komisarek and Markov were three players who really showed up on Saturday. Playing with fervor and drive, it appeared as though these guys really wanted revenge on the team that drowned their playoff hopes last year.
The first week is obviously not indicative of the season to come; many questions remain unanswered. Consistency has always been a concern for the Canadiens, who frequently alter between awesome winning streaks and embarrassing losing ones.
Nevertheless, after the first week of play three things remain on the minds of Habs fan. Will Brisebois survive his first home appearance? When will we see Price play? Where the hell is Kyle Chipchura? Look out for the Habs Report in next week’s edition of The Concordian, and you just might get some answers.

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