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Montreal Canadiens 2011-12 Season Preview

Posted by Andrés / October 6, 2011

20111006_canadiens.jpgSomething was different this morning. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, what with my heavy eyelids and foggy morning consciousness. I remember stumbling out of the incubating warmth of my room into the sub-zero temperatures of my hallway with a lingering memory. What's today? Why do I feel like I need to be somewhere? The first thing to wake in my body were my nerves. I turned on the kettle and watched it boil. As the saying goes, it lasted an eternity. Enough time for me to rub the sleep from my eyes, and clear my mind. The kettle clicked at about the time my wife got up, yawning and walking zombie-like down the wintry pass towards me. Doubling back in an unconscious desire to return to bed, I noticed the bright red shirt she wore. Blazoned in block white letters on the back: GOMEZ. Any feeling of nervousness disappeared in a flash, and instead excitement set in. It dawned on me what lingering memory had pervaded my sleeping self: tonight's hockey night!

This same series of events most probably also affected Coronation Street fans, only their hearts dropped. The NHL takes over their beloved time spot. Tant pis for you.

But is this truly something to celebrate? The Montréal Canadiens only won 2 of their 8 pre-season games, with the last being their only convincing win. We can certainly chalk some of this up to the Bulldogs rookies who are not in the lineup, or Carey Price's "working out the kinks", but it certainly must put a damper on team spirit going into their first regular season game tonight with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The highs are of course that last win against Tampa Bay, when the team's roster was fairly complete, and all the baggage shed down to the lower leagues. Michael Cammalleri was solid. Gomez showed signs of a resurgence from his lull. Gorges and Pacioretty are back. Subban is as energetic as ever. Newcomer Eric Cole feels like an offensive line Wisniewski.

It was disappointing that three players were not seen and likely won't make the opener. Markov is no big surprise: I would wager his hockey days are numbered. Other no-shows were Eller and White who are both recovering from minor injuries and should be back sometime this Fall. The greatest challenge for the Canadiens will be defence. We have some great players in Subban, Gill, Gorges and Spacek, but Markov's salary-consuming absence has been a tumor on our defensive lineup for the past year. The other unknown is Carey Price. His performance in this pre-season was that of a backup goalie. Yet, he surprised us last year by coming out of a bad pre-season with an incredible showing. Personally, I think he's still battling off some Halakian demons.

This will be the third season with the Montréal Canadiens' new team. So far, while they have never been considered a dangerous team in the regular season, their last two playoff showings were strong. It may have been beginner's luck (and Halak) that got us to the Eastern Conference finals in 2009-10, but even without Halak, we gave Cup-winners the Boston Bruins a seven-game run in 2010-11. If Gomez is back on his game and Price comes into his own... well, let's not jinx it.

Tonight's game vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs is at 7pm. Do yourself a favour: watch it on RDS.



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