Just zoning out in French class, exhausted from watching my beloved Chargers just barely squeak out a win against the Oakland Raiders, who as my faithful reader and NFL Consultant Nu said "bullied San Diego like Johnny Lawrence in the Karate Kid".
The image above is of Carey Price all decked out in shiny, new and red Goalie Pads and a brand spankin' new helmet that doesn't include images of Garth Brooks, who has absolutely nothing to do with Hockey in an Eastern French Canadian city. His new mask looks like it has some retro images of Hab greats Ken Dryden and Gump, along with the Montreal Skyline on the forehead and the centennial logo on the chin. I will post pics of the closeup once they are released.
In other Habs news Andrei Markov has rejected the offer to become the Canadiens captain, and I will probably be posting a whole article about the Captaincy issue soon, but I'm just going to say here that I do not blame him at all.
Anyway now to the question in the title.
As I read the reports from the early days of Training Camp, and I hear Coach Martin's analysis of this new team, I can't help but think of the New Jersey teams of the late 90's and early 00's when I study the makeup of this squad. Not only because those teams had present day Habs Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta.
Defensive oriented offense.
When the Devils captured their Stanley Cups, they did not do it relying on Offense. From their first cup in 1994-1995, to their third in 2002-2003, only one player had scored more than 85 points in a season over those 9 years, Patrik Elias. Much like the Devils, the Canadiens boast only one player who had over 80 points last year, Mike Cammalleri. The rest of the top fowards in the top six put up respectable yet non-flashy numbers. With the additions of Travis Moen, Georges Laraque and Glen Metropolit in the last two years, the Canadiens have one of the toughest bottom six core of checkers and grinders in the entire league. In the Devils days of glory, they had an intimidating group of hard working third and fourth liners that included Claude Lemieux, Randy McKay, Mike Peluso, John Madden, Turner Stevenson and Mike Rupp. While people worry about the Canadiens ability to create offense and have doubts about a defensive minded Coach like Jacques Martin, people should realize that it's not all about scoring 5 goals a game, even if it does get you free wings. I would take a 2-1 win any day over a 7-6 loss. I would rather Brian Gionta score 24 goals and the Canadiens go to the Conference Finals then score 35 and get bounced in the first round. If Martin does his job right, the Canadiens should be able to play a defensive minded game, while still racking up wins. Much like Jacques Lemaire did in Jersey, much like he will do now after returning to the Swamp this off season.
A unit defense.
The Devils are known for their grade A defense year after year. No matter who is lining up on their blue line, they always seem to be one of the top units in the league. At one point, they had Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski, ALL AT ONCE. Three of our decades best defenseman all in Red and Black. When Scott Stevens retired, analysts thought their D Dominance was done. Nope. In comes Paul Martin. Scott Niedermayer leaves for California. In comes Johnny Oduya. Rafalski leaves to Detroit, in comes Colin White. It seems that no matter what happens or who is on their blue line, they are successful. Not because they are all stars, but because they consistently start defenseman who do not make mistakes and are intelligent. The Canadiens are trying to do that because aside for Andrei Markov, they do not posses any world class talent. Instead, they have a solid core of smart and reliable defenseman like Roman Hamrlik, Paul Mara, Hal Gill, Jaroslav Spacek and Josh Georges as well as some highly touted prospects like PK Subban. Martin compared the Canadiens defense to the 2006 Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes saying that "Our group of defensemen are experienced and dependable...Depth wise, there was not a large gap between the first and sixth defenseman."
The Devils can attribute a huge amount of their success to Martin Brodeur, whose play has earned him accolades like "The greatest goaltender of all time", or G-GOAT. Carey Price's seasons last year, was anything but G-GOAT calibre. If Price can play half as good as Martin Brodeur, the Canadiens should be able to have a very impressive record this year. The tentative word there, is of course IF. To me, it seems that the success or failure of this season falls squarely on Price's apathetic shoulders.
CAN. NOT. WAIT. FOR. HOCKEY.
BTW I'm thinking of some clever homophobic joke to make with the word "Cheechoo" to yell next time I'm at a Canadiens Senators game. Comment if you have any ideas.