Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Canadiens Roll Call

One, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 16, 18, 19, and 29.

Those numbers are very familiar to any Montreal Canadiens' fan. They all hang from the rafters at the Bell Centre where they play their home games. The Canadiens have a long and wonderful past to look back on. The names of great players, coaches and general managers are far too long to mention. It is this history that changes a player when they put on the sweater with those famous colors on it.

That is why when the 2006-2007 season ended and this team didn’t make the playoffs, it was like the world came to an end. Finishing seventh the previous year, hopes were for a longer playoff run, but the team finished tenth and sat at home watching instead of skating. Some players had off seasons as well. After scoring only 18 goals all season last year, the AK-27, Alex Kovalev, is back on track eager to forget last year.

With 10 goals already through 19 games this season, Kovalev has reached the mark faster than any Canadiens player in over a decade. Not since Martin Rucinsky scored his 10th goal in game No. 20 back in 1996-97, has a Habs player scored so many so fast. The Russian winger will crack the 40-goal mark for the second time in his 16-year NHL career, if he were to continue at this pace. The last time he did was in 2000-01 with the Penguins when he exploded for 44 goals on his way to his first All-Star Game appearance. He is sixth in the league with 6 power play goals on a team that is ranked number one with 30% power play efficiency. He, Saku Koivu, and Andrei Markov all have 17 points in this early season.

The team is also fourth in goals scored per game with 3.16 Goals/Game and only a small handful have a plus/minus ratings in the red zone. But it is not all about offense in Montreal. They rank ninth in goals allowed per game with a stingy 2.53 goals. This, in part, is due to their goaltending tandem of Cristobal Huet and rookie sensation Carey Price. Huet has a 6-4-2 record with a 2.23 GAA and a Sv% of .925, while his younger counterpart enjoys a 5-1-1 record with a 2.66 GAA and a .0914 Sv%. Price is making the departure of David Aebischer a faint memory.

The Canadiens lost a few big names over the summer, Sheldon Souray, Radek Bonk, and Janne Niinimaa to name a few. But they also picked up some with marquee talent; Roman Hamrlik, Bryan Smolinski and Patrice Brisebois for coach Guy Carbonneau to insert into his lineups. Carbonneau took over the coaching reins on May 5, 2006 after having played 13 seasons with the Canadiens, including five as the team’s captain, and was the winner of the Frank Selke Trophy three times.

Carbonneau’s second season behind the bench figures to be a much better one than his first. You see he’s one of those great Montreal Canadiens players of the past. And he won’t let this team fail.

So, stand up and help Guy Carbonneau push this team to the playoffs and beyond. Be a proud member of the team and shout your support in the Montreal Canadiens' Roll Call!!

~ ogre1kanobe