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Big-Ted

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  1. I would send Carey out against the Sabres for sure. Road game, less pressure. If he feels well enough to go Saturday, I'd send him back out against the Sens too. We have a break after that for him to recover, but Price is supposed to be a number one this year and those are two divisional opponents. The number one should be in against both. Auld is not Halak and he is not a number one goalie or even a potential number one goalie. He is a career back-up and he should be called upon to rest Price in more stressful portions of the schedule during games against Western conference opponents. If Price is the guy this year, he needs to be in against our key rivals.
  2. I love Lapierre. I think he does his job well, and when he's on his game, he's very effective at drawing penalties, getting guys off their game, and bringing energy to the line-up. I understand why teams hate to play against him and why other team's fans hate him, but that's part of the territory. The wya I see it, you have two types of agitators. The first is a group that includes players like Lapierre and Sean Avery, guys who get the other team riled up and who might chicken out on a fight, but who aren't really dirty players. They don't go hacking at opponents with their sticks, they aren't looking to injure anyone on purpose, etc. The second type of agitator is the guy who does the yapping but also looks to get cheap shots in and then shirks away. This would be someone like a Jarrko Ruutu or a Claude Lemieux. This is the type of agitator that needs to be weaseled out of the game. It's one thing to yap and annoy other guys, my opinion is that if you're good at it then go ahead. I don't care for the guys who legitimately lack respect for their opponents though, and who, for example, hack an opponent on the ankle or wrist repeatedly behind the ref's back until the other guy retaliates and gets a penalty. That's more dangerous and cowardly. I think it's important to make the distinction, and as long as a guy like Lapierre doesn't cross that line, I'm all for what he's doing.
  3. I liked what I saw from Benny in his first game and again last night. Didn't think he played well against Ottawa. What I have noticed about him thus far is that he is using his size more this year, and that can only be a good thing. Hoping JM and KM positively re-inforce that behavior and tell him to keep hitting people and going hard to the net. Benny seems like the kind of guy who will respond more to that kind of coaching than anything else.
  4. Disappointed to see Avtsin isn't going to be playing Friday either, although I am eager to see his practice linemates White-Desharnais-Pacioretty play. Avtsin won't make the NHL team, but he's such an unknown as far as North American hockey goes that it would have been nice to see how he performs in an NHL-type game. One has to wonder if we really need to see a player like J.T. Wyman suit up when we could have assessed Avtsin. Wyman did little to impress me last year in his brief stint and hasn't stood out at all at camp thus far.
  5. JM hinted that Sanford has an outside shot at making the team, but I believe this is more to make sure Auld takes nothing for granted. I don't see any way Sanford jumps ahead of Auld to start the year. If the Habs really felt Sanford was their number two guy, they wouldn't have signed Auld. Sanford had a good year last season in Hamilton, so it's not like he needs to show he can do more at the AHL level. The fact is that the Habs like him as a potential call-up but nothing more. I agree that he is a good insurance policy to have, although I am not so sure Alex Auld was the best available guy for the money we spent. He is a decent back-up, but I'm not sure he has the ability to be a short-term number one in the event Price is injured or isn't playing well. A guy like Ellis or Biron may have been more suitable given our needs, but I'm willing to give Alex the chance to prove himself here.
  6. The playoff run likely helped with that too. I'm sure all the NHL players were aware of the mad support fans gave the team during the playoffs, and while many avoid Montreal because of the pressure, the great run and the enthusiasm that came with it certainly helps.
  7. I'd thought about this too. On the one hand, like you pointed out, it makes it easier to coach having two guys who play a similar style and of similar build. but on the other hand, you wonder if they also have the same flaws. Sometimes being able to change up the style of goaltending you throw at a team, particularly in the playoffs, can be an asset. Look at us last year going to Halak, or the Canes in their Cup year going from Gerber to Cam Ward. Some of that is also finding the guy who's in the right psychological place to win games at that time, but some of it can also be attributed to a goalie matching up well with the type of attack an opposition uses.
  8. Players who are smaller have an uphill battle trying to make the NHL roster and the same can be said for players who are younger too. If a guy who's 23 or 24 has a decent camp and a guy who's 18 or 19 displays a similar level of play, the team is going to take the 23-year old most of the time because there's an extra level of maturity and experience playing with pros. I realize Avtsin has playe din the KHL but he's still only 19 and could likely fill out his frame a bit more. I would put the odds against him making the team even with an Eller injury. I think he will get the chance to play in Hamilton and if he really blows people out of the water he'll get a chance, but the best bet is for him to get get some developmental coaching and learn the Habs system before being thrown into the Montreal fire.
  9. Halpern is of the same ilk as players like Joe Juneau and Radek Bonk and Glen Metropolit in terms of the role he will play here. Lower-line centre, used in defensive roles, might score a bit... it's true that White has a higher cap hit, but I see White as being a more physical player and the big upside is that he could be playing here for years, whereas Halpern is likely a one- or two-year player and then moving on. I still think Halpern will contribute this year and he is great value for the contract we gave him, but I feel equally as strong that a player like White or another young player could have brought something to our team too.
  10. Signing Halpern makes sense in terms of ability to win draws. But as far as centermen go, we have 7-8 forwards who will likely make the team who could potentially play center (if you include guys like Cammy, Pouliot, Pyatt, etc.). I don't know that we have a guy from hamilton who could do what Guerin does, mainly in front of the net and bringing size and experience. I feel like Halpern definitely brings some things we don't have but I think it's also easier to make up for what he brings with other guys in the system.
  11. The best answer to that question would have been Bill Guerin. Big guy, plays in the corners and in front of the net and has been able to score his whole career. Debatable what his production will be like without Crosby, but I think he would have been a solid veteran to have in case AK or Pouliot faltered. At this stage, I believe he would have signed for something in the 1 million range. Obviously now there is no cap space for him nor is there an evident roster spot, but he is one of the few players left who I think would have been an upgrade of sorts for the Habs.
  12. I would like to see Pleks need to play less on the PK, although admittedly, he is also one of our best penalty killers. If you look up and down the line-up though, we have enough guys who could play short-handed: Plekanec, Pyatt, Moen, Halpern, Gionta, Gomez, Lapierre, Boyd, White. Not really sure what Eller is like on the penalty kill. With the roster we have, I'd like to see Pyatt, Boyd, Halpern, and Lapierre be the 4 guys who step up defensively. They are all decent skaters and can play an aggressive style. All of those guys can also play center in case the other guy gets tossed out of the face-off circle. I think it would be acceptable to have Plekanec and Moen or Gio and Gomez also rotate through the PK though, especially if we are short-handed a lot in a game. But using those first 4 guys the most saves the top two lines for scoring and even strength, and I'd like to see JM come back with those top two lines on short shifts to try and catch the other teams off guard more this year. We've shown we can be the type of team that can sit back and attack opportunistically, but I think if we are to have a realistic shot at winning our division, we need to be more aggressive and use our speed against the bigger teams to take advantage of slow defence and draw penalties.
  13. I am among those who questioned the value of the Halpern signing in lieu of the rookies we have who are potentially ready to come up this year. I will say that for the price we signed him, he should be well worth the value, but the stats you quoted are fairly meaningless to me with the exception of the face-off winning percentage. A player's blocked shot total has more to do with his SH ice time more than anything, so that players who don't play the PK are unlikely to have high shot block totals. I don't think any of us would pick out shot-blocking as one of Pleks' best skills and I don't think we would necessarily say he is the best shot-blocker on the team. I think that stat is much more useful with respect to defencemen. Similarly, PK time is more a measure of how many penalties a team takes and how a coach chooses to use his players. As an example, two years ago, Alex Kovalev played a lot of PK time for a long stretch, but I don't think we'd say he was among our best defensive players. The face-off numbers have been fairly good for Halpern over his career and that will be one thing that helps us out quite a bit. That was one area the Habs struggled with quite a bit last year. However, when it comes down to it, I still would have liked to see a younger player get a shot. Even without Halpern, we have a wealth of players who can play center (Gomez, Pleks, Laps, Boyd, Eller, Cammy, Pouliot, Pyatt, etc have all played center at one point or another in their careers) and I don't see why a rookie couldn't get a crack at a 3rd or 4th line spot. There will be time to sign a veteran later on in the season if we need to. With Darche and Moen already occupying roster spots, adding Halpern really takes away from the chances of identifying players who can contribute to the team for more than 2-3 years. The same thing occurred last year and if it hadn't been for the unusual wealth of injuries, we may never have seen what a guy like Tom Pyatt could do for us. I believe Halpern will be a useful player for us this year but I do question what this move says about the Habs organization and its persistent inability to develop forwards to their maximum potential.
  14. I'd like to see Pyatt aim for more than 15 points. Yes he's young and yes he's going to play more of a defensive role, but I think he'll get decent minutes and likely play on the third line at least some of the year. He seems to be a smart player and a decent skater and I'd like to see him take advantage of that. I don't see why he can't contribute the same way we'd like to see Max Lapierre contribute and put up 25 points or so. The Habs need to develop more scoring depth, and I think the guys who emerge on the third line this year need to be able to contribute at least 10 goals each. If Pyatt ends up playing sparingly on the 4th line, I'd accept less output from him, but the Habs have accepted poor offensive production from the third line guys for too long and it's time to ask the checkers to go to the net and get some garbage goals.
  15. I don't think Benny is the third most important player for the Habs and how they do this year, although I agree that he is a potential source of improvement. Last year, especially in the playoffs, guys like Cammalleri, Gionta, Gorges, Gill, Lapierre, Halak, etc. were playing near their maximum potential. Some of those guys could still be more consistent during the regular season, but assuming the top players stay at the same level of their game, there are others who have the potential to step up their games and make more of a difference. Pouliot is one of those guys. AK46 is another. Gomez could be better and needs to be better in situations when other top forwards are out of the line-up. Markov needs to get back into form when he comes back. But looking at players who had disappointing ends to last year, I can see how someone can look to Benny as a guy who has the chance to make the team better by taking his game to a new level.
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