Monday, November 2, 2009

November will set the tone for the Canadiens


Mike Cammalleri is featured on the Canadiens’ online calendar, available here.

The Montreal Canadiens managed to squeak out of October with a 7-7 record.

Granted the team was without Andrei Markov for the month less a portion of their first game, but let’s look at a few individuals and some statistical tidbits.

First some positives:

The home ice of the Bell Centre appears to have been the comfort zone for the les bleu-blanc et rouge, going 5-2.

They were 3-1 against division opponents, though two wins against the Leafs went into overtime/shootout and shouldn’t have.

In one-goal games, they went 6-4 and 6-0 past regulation.

Newcomers Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta are, thus far, a big improvement over the departed Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay and Alex Kovalev.

Travis Moen and Paul Mara are playing much better than expected.

Jaroslav Spacek and Roman Hamrlik have banked the big minutes on the blue line in the absence of Markov. Shots-per-game against are slowly getting more respectable, but still just under 30-per-game.

Now the not so good:

When their opponents scored four goals or more, Montreal was 2-3. Two of those games were severe beatings by serious playoff contenders (Vancouver and Pittsburgh).

In goals decided by one goal or more, the Habs sported a 1-3 record with only win coming from a 5-1 drubbing of the lowly Islanders

The Canadiens have 36 goals in their 14 games, 20th in the league, averaging 2.57 per game. 21 goals came in seven home games and 15 in the seven road games.

Factor out the 5 goal night against the Islanders, and the home-game average is more realistic.

The power play ranks 25th in the league at a disappointing 15.1%.

The Canadiens are tied for second in the league with 75 minutes in minor penalties, and their penalty kill ranks 24th,at 75.8%, with one shorthanded goal.

Their ability to comeback when trailing a game is just 2-4 when trailing after 20 minutes and 0-5 when behind after two periods.

Do I need to even talk about the brothers Kostitsyn? The younger ones actions speak words for him and as for the older one, just listen to the audio from Monday’s practice via

Guillaume Latendresse cannot find his opportunity to be the power forward that he is expected to be, and Hal Gill is quickly becoming the weak link on the blue line in the fans eyes.

The real concern seemed to be commitment to 60 minutes of play. Several games were the result of the team losing focus for a period, and the opposition took advantage of it.

Coach Jacques Martin has been emphatic through the season the the team is still looking for an identity and that has to be expected with the roster moves made in the off-season.

November should give us that identity with a dozen games (seven at home) as to whether the Canadiens can be a real playoff team or squeeze into a final spot in the last game, or two.

The Canadiens will face their rival Boston, for the first time this season, and a rematch against Calgary in the first four games of the month.

The last two weeks could be of real interest when the Canadiens have a pair of games against the Washington (Ovechkin injury pending) and games against the Detroit,  Columbus and Pittsburgh sandwiched in between.

Today in Habs History: Howie Morenz’s No. 7 was retired, posthumously, on this day in 1937. He was the first Canadiens player to have his jersey number retired.

image An image from the Howie Morenz benefit game, 11/02/1937

On the same night, members of the Canadiens teamed up with the Montreal Maroons in a benefit game against all-stars from the rest of the NHL.

image Subban comfortable in the AHL: Canadiens prospect P.K. Subban tells that he is comfortable in the AHL

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