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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Montreal Canadiens Blogging Horizon Widens

I was shocked when I received an email this morning from Bruce Hollingdrake.

There's something about being a writer that is always daunting and, in turn seems to become self doubt. I've experienced it since day one. I would sit and write, and as my thoughts flowed from brain, to hand - and then from pen to paper - I would feel inspired and on top of my own world. I felt artistic and special.

But then that moment would come when the pen would be laid to rest, and a re-read of those "brilliant" thoughts would be looked at more subjectively. And that's when that little voice inside my head would tell me that what I'd written wasn't all that good. It was average at best.

These are the thought processes of those who are cursed to write based on passion.

So when Bruce notified me this morning that he had read my Tribute to Pat Burns, and liked it enough to link it to The Hockey Writers web site, I felt a sense of pride in my work for a change.

But it didn't end there.

Through further discussion, Bruce and I "spoke" at length regarding my coming on board and writing for his site, as a contributor to the Montreal Canadiens content, as well as giving opinion on various happenings around the league.

So it's now official. I am happy to announce that I will be a regular writer for The Hockey Writers site (view My Bio) which has over 60 writers, including 7 who hold full media credentials.

That doesn't mean that BBBR will fade into the background. It just means you have an added venue to read my thoughts and opinion, and another great place to support my efforts in getting the Habs message out there.

Again - I can't thank you all enough for your incredible support since this sites inception, and I ask that you continue to support me in my future endeavours, as well as right here: On Bleed, Bleu, Blanc, Rouge!

Go Habs Go!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Patrick (Pat) Burns : Montreal Canadiens Coach Remembered

It's a rare occassion when I sit down to write, that I don't know what to say.

All I knew, as I booted my Notebook and clicked the links to get me to this point, was that I felt something. I knew there was an emotion that I wanted to project onto this page, and share with my readers. But when I started to physically type the words, I had to begin again several times.

I've never been the type to feel particularly close to, or aligned with people of celebrity status, or those in the media. I have my thoughts on them, but I don't know them. We don't share moments together, so to pretend like I even have an understanding of them, as people, would be ludicrous. But there is a certain kinship that I think many people have felt with Pat Burns over the years. Undoubtedly, because of his ability to wear his heart on his sleeve, produce some exceptional results in his work (that most of the hockey world holds dear), and because he showed every soul that witnessed his life, what it meant to never give up.

You could always tell just by watching Burns behind the bench - even before being told - that he had been a "cop" in a previous career. He had both the stature and the demeanor. The ever watchful eye and the ability to analyze a scene were all prevalent in his coaching ways. But there was also a softness in his eyes. An understanding. You got the feeling that even when he didn't like what he was seeing from his players, he had the ability to coach them. More-so; mentor them.

And the results were the proof of the pudding so to speak. In 1019 games in the NHL, while coaching 4 different teams, Burns amassed 501 wins, 353 losses, 151 ties, and 14 OT losses. But the stat that probably says it all to me is his 3 Adams Trophies, which he gained with three separate teams - all being Original Six franchises. He is the only coach in the history of the league to gain that honour on so many occasions.

During his four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Burns (who's record was 174-104-42) took the Habs to two first place finishes, one second place, and one third in the Adams Division. It also saw La Flanelle earn a berth in the Stanly Cup Final (1988-1989), only to lose to the President Trophy winning Calgary Flames in 6 games. To this date, it is the last time two Canadian teams have squared off in the Stanley Cup Final.

After moving on to both the Toronto Maple Leafs (1992 - 1996), and the Boston Bruins (1997-2001), from which he was fired on an equal number of occasions, Burns settled in behind the bench of the New Jersey Devils for the 2002-2003 season.

In his inaugural season with that franchise, Burns coached players like Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, and Scott Stevens, accomplishing the crowning jewel on his career, with a Stanly Cup Championship over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in seven games. A feat only accomplished by two coaches before him - also previous members of the Montreal Canadiens club - Jacques Lemaire, and Larry Robinson.

With an impressive record, trophy winning seasons, and a Stanley Cup ring - there was one underlying feature about Burns that consistently shone through. And that was his ability to never give up. Pat Burns was a fighter, and sadly - he was soon to find out after hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup, how important that quality would be for him.

Through battles with both colon cancer and liver cancer, Pat Burns always showed the heart of a champion. Stepping down from the forefront of the league after the second diagnosis, Burns battled on, until his third diagnosis - this time of incurable lung cancer. Deciding to forgo treatment, Pat Burns felt content in living out the balance of his days near his wife: Line.

Sadly, we lost Pat Burns yesterday. He finally succumbed to the disease that had been festering in him for many years. He died near his home in Sherbrooke Quebec.

But there are many things that the hockey community will take with them after his passing. Grit and determination can carry you a long way, and a quitters attitude has no place in this life. A sense of humour is paramount to what we all face on a daily basis (imagine the media reporting you're dead when you're not - and calling them up to remind them that you're still alive - shopping in the local market for your dinner). But mostly, we'll remember those soft eyes, and his incredible attitude. Even while facing death.

To Patrick Burns; we thank you for being more than an example of how to live both on and off the ice. And to your family, we offer our good wishes and prayers.

In His Own Words:

"I know my life is nearing its end and I accept that."

Gesturing to a group of local minor hockey players, he said: "A young player could come from Stanstead who plays in an arena named after me. I probably won't see the project to the end, but let's hope I'm looking down on it and see a young Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux."

Patrick Burns (April 4, 1952 – November 19, 2010)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Montreal Canadiens : Habs Week 8 in Preview

Just when you thought you were facing the Dogs of War last week, along comes another tough November week! Montreal has some serious adversaries to face this week, and once again, I can't be too positive of the outcome. Mind you, the team showed enough spirit last week to bring out the positivity in even the most pessimistic fans.

But there are certainly some serious issues that the Habs are facing as they start the week off tonight at home against their nemesis - the Philadelphia Flyers. Last week at this time, Jacques Martin had shuffled his defensive unit, and looked to solve the struggling power play. And just as all seemed to be turning around, Andrei Markov's heroic return was quashed by what looks to be another significant injury.

While there has been tremendous speculation as to what the results of Markov's knee-on-knee collision with  Eric Staal will be, there is still no conclusive information available at this time. What we do know is this - the defense will be paired differently this week in his absence.

Montreal will have the luxury of spending the next week on home ice, and the toughest test of the week is tonight. The Flyers come back to the Bell Center for the first time since upsetting the Habs in the Eastern Conference Final last May, and without doubt, the Habs will be looking for retribution. But the squad in orange tonight are not exactly the same team that Montreal faced last, with key injuries keeping Danny Carcillo, Ian Laperriere, and Michael Leighton out of the line-up. But Captain Mike Richards has anchored a team full of talent to 9 victories in their last 10 games. And the familliar faces of Giroux, Carter, and Briere have amassed 49 points since the puck dropped this season. Add that onto the overall size of the Flyers, and once again we will see if the speed of the Canadiens can compete for a full 60 minutes.

Thursday brings the Nashville Predators to Montreal, and the return of former Habs - Francis Bouillon, and Sergei Kostitsyn. For a team that's sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference, and having scored only 38 goals on the season, it needs to be noted that the Preds are a solid 2-1-2 in their last 5 against the Canadiens. Pekka Rinne will most likely get the nod to start between the pipes, and he's sporting a highly respectable 2.85 GAA and .910 SV%. Numbers that aren't the most promising for a Montreal offense that is just beginning to get on it's feet. Most of all, there will be great hope that the return of SK74 doesn't come back to poison the decent start of his brother, as it seemed to do when they both skated in Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.

Saturday night caps off the home stand with the age old rivalry of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto, who got off to a superbly promising start (5-0), have tanked as of late, losing their last eight straight. They continue to struggle offensively, and a red hot Carey Price is not likely to help them in their quest to break out. But depite some decent offense from Clarke MacArthur and Phil Kessel (with 7 and 8 goals apiece), it's apparent that the Leafs franchise is suffering from the loss of Captain Dion Phaneuf. Having said all of that, the Leafs continue to be a team that plays well against Montreal; and if ever there was a team that the Leafs would love to break out of their slump against - it's Les Canadiens.

Not the toughest week of the year. But one that screams out a warning against the ever present complacency that always seems to be on the tongue of those fans who follow the Habs like a religion. But for 63,819 fanatics, it should be an entertaining and relatively succesful week, before heading out of town to face the Broad Street Bullies on their own turf.

There's nothing quite like the echoing chant of the Ole's as they drift upwards to the rafters of the Bell Center. Here's hoping for plenty throughout the course of this homestand.

Montreal Canadiens : Habs Panel (BBBR and TCL) 2nd Week Panelists Announced

It's hard to believe that it's already closing in on two weeks since we had our first Habs Panel. And with the sweet success that it brought, we're pulling out all the stops for the follow up.

There has been plenty of action in and around the Canadiens camp over the past week. Success against two very strong teams (Vancouver and Boston), and a decisive victory against the Carolina Hurricanes brought 6 points to le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.

But other issues have arisen as well. Predominantly, the trade of Ryan O'Bryne, and the possible extended loss of Andrei Markov; only a few short games after his return from a torn ACL.

So we're ready to deal with the issues at hand, and this week we've brought in the following two heavy hitters.

Kamal Panesar is on the Panel this week, and he brings a lot of depth and knowledge to the group. Kamal is a freelance Habs writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of Habs Addict, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz, and Habs writer for The Franchise.

And complimenting him is Kevin van Steendelaar of Habs Eyes on the Prize. Kevin's passion for the game has put him in the position of interviewing some of hockey's legends over the years; including Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Cassie Campbell, Mike Keenan. Plus former Habs Kirk Muller, John LeClair and Guy Lafleur (to name a few).

So make sure you join us on the site this coming Sunday for another Habs Panel as we continue to chase after the relevant news on the Montreal Canadiens, and offer our speculation and opinion. And then prepare to get in on the action, as once again, we open the floodgates in our LIVE BLOG on Monday November 22nd - just prior to the Habs / Flyers match-up.

We're looking forward to having you join us once again!

If there is something on your mind that you would like the panel to discuss, you can still submit your questions here!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Je Me Souviens ... Lest We Forget.

As the 11th hour of the eleventh month, on the eleventh day passed, many of us stopped to celebrate the 92nd Anniversary of Armistice Day.

And despite the fact that this is a Blog dedicated to written stories of the Montreal Canadiens; today Bleu, Blanc, Rouge pauses to reflect on the most important men to live - and die -  in our history.

Sacrifice is a small word that can never fully encompass the meaning of everything that was done by our forefathers. WW1, WW2, the Korean War, Vietnam, Bosnia, Afghanistan. These are all Theaters of War in which many of our family, friends, and Brothers in Arms  have served. Let's take time today - not just at the eleventh hour - to pour over what has been done to secure our freedom and our way of life.

Drawing back to the Montreal Canadiens, let us all ponder the quote that hangs in the dressing room of our beloved hockey team. A quote taken directly from the verse of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae's illustrious poem "In Flanders Fields" :

"To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high."

Je Me Souviens.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Habs Panel Success, and Post Canucks Banter

Well it's official. The first one is in the books!

And it's with great happiness that I can report to you that the first ever Habs Panel was a great success. Following on the back of Sundays Blog Post on TCL, Tuesday night saw the first ever Habs Panel Live Blog. Many people came out to discuss the Panels topics, to question our answers, and give their own opinions.

So for all of you that managed to make it to this first time event - THANK YOU! You made it a tremendous success. And like any pilot project, the success of the Habs Panel, and it's live blog, has ensured that we will be making this a regular feature.

So if you missed it this time - have no fear - you can join us again in two weeks as we do it all over again. And if you did manage to join us this time 'round, we're looking forward to having you join us once again. Bring all your friends! We have new guest panelists lined up, and you won't want to miss them. Plus - If you have certain questions that you want to see discussed, leave them in our Habs Panel Forum section and there's a good chance that we'll give you our point of view.

Last night was also a great success for the Montreal Canadiens. There are still many issues that the team needs to iron out, but in a week that will test the Habs to no end - it was the perfect beginning to a tough 3 game stretch.

Once again, I was asked to fill in for some vacationing staff at The Checking Line, so in order to avoid double posting, please check my Canadiens / Canucks post game wrap-up here.

Time for preparation against the Bruins on Thursday. I'd love to get your opinions on what the potential outcome of that match will be, or what changes the Canadiens need to make going into Boston. Feel free to leave your comments below.

So once again - Thanks for supporting the Habs Panel, BBBR, and visiting me at The Checking Line.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Montreal Canadiens: Week 7 in Preview

Coming off a week that saw a lot of shuffling and changes, a lack of scoring, and only a 2 point advancement in the standings, the Montreal Canadiens were lucky to maintain their first place position in the North Eastern Division. And as we were all aware coming into the month of November, it is not going to get any easier. This week is proof of that.

But the Habs begin the week in continued controversy. The intense movement in the top two lines by coach Martin definitely got tongues wagging here in Montreal, and there were no great results from the changes either. Add to that, the dumping of Dustin Boyd on waivers, and there are still plenty of things to talk about in the land of hockey in Quebec. Clearly we don't need a goalie controversy to keep the "Hockey Talk" going.

But as the Canadiens get set to embark on a new week, they have to realize that the deeper they get into the season, the more intense the challenges. And those challenges come in the form of what should be considered their most adversarial opponent in the North East; one of the strongest Western Conference contenders; and a sleeper team that always produces points against the Habs.

Martin's boys begin the week against the red hot Vancouver Canucks. Sitting third in the West, with a strong 8-3-2 record, the Canucks have been lightning hot, winning their last six straight. But they aren't just getting all their offense from the Sedin Twins. No doubt they're a big part of the picture with 16 points apiece (11 Goals and 21 Assists). But it's the 3rd line combination of Maholtra, Torres, and Hansen that have been lighting things up as of late. They've combined for 22 points this season, and 19 of those coming in the past 6 games. The only possible saving grace lies in the fact that Luongo hasn't exactly been stellar this season. If the Habs get to shooting at him, and causing a stir in front of the net (for a change), they may have a chance. Defensively, the Canadiens have the ability to make a game of this, especially if they can stay out of the penalty box. And there is no doubt that Carey Price will be a difference maker. But the offense has to get to Bobby Lou, and make him pay early on.

The week continues as the Canadiens hit the road and face North Eastern Divisional rival Boston Bruins. Forget the incredible historic rivalry between these two squads. What's important to note is the hunger that Boston has after their failed playoff attempt last year, and their desire to make up for it. Add the fact that they have a super hot goaltender in Tim Thomas who is 7-0 and has 3 shout-outs supporting his 1.07 GAA and .967 GAA. This is a team that you can not have a faltering offense against, so there will be a definite turnaround required in Habs scoring by the time Thursday rolls around. Nathan Horton, Ryder and Lucic will also be a strong test for Montreal's defensive unit.

But if there's anything the Canadiens have proven over time, it's that they are normally capable of meeting tougher teams head on. Often their woes come at the hands of teams that many people consider "shoe-ins" for a victory. And that's what has me concerned most about the weeks finale against Carolina on Saturday night.

The Canes sit 10th overall in the East and have a 7-7-0 record. But the glaring stat for  the Huricanes squad is the amount of goals that they've given up this season. Cam Ward has had a slow beginning in his twelve starts, so there is a great opportunity for the flailing Habs offense to gain some confidence. Add to the fact that the Canes will face some strong adversity against the Flyers in their previous match; Saturdays close out back on home ice at the Bell Center has promise. But as I said, adversity seems to be a friend to Martin's squad, so the Carolina match-up could turn into another Columbus fiasco if they don't enter into the game prepared both mentally and physically.

So once again, the weeks become progressively tougher. Without doubt, there are some huge points up for grab this week, and the Habs have to be prepared at every turn. After all, we're closing in on 20 games played, and there's yet another 4 game (including back to back weekend matches) week ahead to close out the month.

If ever there was a time to get the offense rolling, it's now. Let's hope all the shuffling that's been going on pays off. I'm sure we all agree that first place feels pretty good so far this year, and it would be a shame to relinquish it now.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

*** Premiere *** : Habs Panel and LIVE BLOG

As announced last week, we're embarking on a brand new adventure in Canadiens blogging and we want to get you involved in the action.

George Prax of and I are joined on the panel by Rosalyn Roy (@Tygerlylly on Twitter) and Scott Schmidt (@shmitzysays on Twitter) to address some of the current issues involving La Flanelle.

This week we discuss what needs to be done about Jaroslav Spacek, how to solve the issue of the top 2 lines, and ponder who we think should be called up from Hamilton; as well as who that person should replace.

We'll be following this up on Tuesday with the LIVE BLOG portion, where we want your participation. Join the entire panel at the TCL website prior to Tuesdays match against the Vancouver Canucks, and discuss the topics that we've addressed on todays panel. We want your thoughts and opinions! But that doesn't mean that you have to wait to be heard - you can leave your thoughts in the comment box under the panels blog as well.

So please head over to, and check out the Premiere.

And THANK YOU for all your support!

Cheers - Iain

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge asked to fill in at TCL

Big win for the Habs tonight, and I'm sure many a fan is breathing a bit more easily.

But tonight, my thoughts "apres le match" can be found on a guest post over at The Checking Line, as I fill in for some vacationing staff at that web site!

Please join me over at, where you can get a full blown recap on tonight's game in Buffalo, and a quick preview on what we're facing tomorrow back here in Montreal against the Senators.

You'll find me on the main page under the Habs Logo, with the article entitled:

Canadiens New Top Six Topple The Sabres; Preparation For The Sens Begins.

Thanks for your support, and I look forward to your comments over there!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Montreal Canadiens: Shuffle the Deck - Deal Me In.

Ever since watching the Habs blowout in Columbus the other night, I've felt this sense of decline in my elation to the start of the 2010-2011 season. I've been pouring over the stats, reading articles and opinions, lamenting over next weeks schedule.

But in other moments, when I've stepped back from the Twitterverse, and all the negative thought processes that are in full flourish around the internet, and the MSM press as well, I see that we're still in a very good position at the beginning of the year.

When I look at all the other top team in the league, I notice that they're struggling too. I look at Washington who's 8-4-0, the Flyers at 7-4-1, and Tampa at 7-2-2. We've all played 12 games with the exception of the Lightning (11). Even the team that is considered top contender in the Western Conference to go to the Stanley Cup (The L.A. Kings) is sitting 8-3-0.

So all in all, we're ok. But we won't continue being ok if we don't make some adjustments. October's schedule was relatively easy compared to November, and we won't have time to coast at all as the season progresses.

The scariest stat moving forward sits in the "Goals Scored" column. I know there are many people out there that think that it's a defensive game. It's all about the goaltending. But sadly - even if your keeper stops every puck thrown his way, it won't secure a win. Without goals, you don't win: plain and simple.

No other team in the leagues top 16 have scored fewer goals in as many games as the Montreal Canadiens thus far. Some are close - but with a minimum of a game in hand. When you consider the offensive maelstrom that the Habs inflicted in the post season last year, the current level of putting it in the net is not acceptable.

So today, while going through the morning skate, Coach Martin made some changes. And at this point, I believe that change is good.

Offensively, Kostitsyn gets moved to the Gionta / Gomez line. This line has produced plenty of shots on net (thanks to Gionta), but has not been able to pot one, in far too many minutes. Kostitsyn has proven that he has good vision, soft hands, and a rifling shot. His gritty style, and movement to the net could help this line break the drought, and I'm more than willing to give it a look-see.

Eller has finally been moved up to play wing alongside Plekanec and Cammelleri. There is no doubt that Pleks is the best offensive player on the team thus far, and is the best two way player on the ice. Eller has youth, size, and incredibly good hockey intuition. With the inception of this as a whole new line, Eller will be able to draw attention off of Cammy, and create all kinds of havoc if he gets to the front of the net. Add a playmaker and goal scorer like Plekanec, and you might start seeing results here as well.

The defensive pairings have been weak as well. There is no need to put Markov and Subban on the ice together. Oft times, Markov is left sitting back waiting to bail out some of PK's rookie mistakes, and both have a point shot that needs utilized on separate lines. And despite what Gorges and Gill were able to do together last year, they are the worst defensive pairings of the season. Their plus/minus is terrible, Gill is getting even slower, and too many times they have collapsed in down low - or simply been out of position. So I like the change of Markov with Gorges. They will be a good compliment for one another. And Gill - who likes to sit back anyway (because of his lack of speed), is a great pairing for the quick aggressive styling of Subban. My concern lies in the Hamrlik / Spacek team. Two veterans that are getting older and slower. One who has shown a lot of inconsistency in his play. Just for once, I think it's time to give Spacek some press box time, and bring Picard in to play next to Hamrlik. Picard also has size and youth on his side, and so far this season has a goal on 9 shots in nine games with a +7 rating.

I don't know that these changes will remain in place come game time on Friday, when we make our way onto the ice against a very hungry Buffalo Sabres franchise. But I believe that if Martin gives it a shot with the top 6 as he's practiced them, and gives Spacek a night or two on the bench, then maybe November won't be such a bad month after all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hapless Habs Fall Asleep in Columbus

Most teams that find themselves sitting precariously atop their division, especially this early in the season, would likely wear their hearts on their sleeves, and play their guts out.

Most teams.

Last night, the Montreal Canadiens made their way into Nationwide Arena, and promptly picked up where they left off after Saturday nights match-up against the Florida Panthers. At the wrong end of a result.

It became clear very early on that the Habs had left their game at home. Despite having a solid opening four and a half minutes, the tide soon began turning in the Blue Jackets favour. They looked tighter, with cleaner tape to tape passes. They looked stronger and more determined. They looked like a team that was hungry, while the Canadiens looked complacent and dominated.

Whether it was in the offensive or defensive zone, there were always more blue jerseys visible than white. Columbus back-checked aggressively, and fore-checked ferociously, and made the Habs pay the price.

Speaking of Price, here was another night that Carey didn't exactly have the toughest workout. He faced a total of only 24 shots on goal, 19 of them coming during even strength play. There is no doubt, despite the speed of Nash, and his sniping ability, that Price needs to stop shots like the opening goal. But having your defense fold around you is no help. Both Josh Gorges and Hal Gill had terrible nights. They both ended the game at -2 on the night, and were consistently out of position - specifically on the third goal potted by Kyle Wilson.

Jaro Spacek, who was given the night on the ice as a type of redemption from Coach Martin, did anything but redeem himself. Once again, taking an undisciplined penalty; not to mention forcing Price to make a stop on a shot that he took on his own net, clearly shows that the veteran defenseman needs a day or two out of the line-up to think things through.

Credit has to be given to Mathieu Garon though. He turned away everything that he faced (a total of 29 shots), making some great saves against his ex-team mates, and in turn earned himself the 17th shutout of his career.

The question that now rests heavily on everyone's minds: Where is the Montreal offense. The Habs haven't found the back of the net since Darche claimed his 2nd of the year at 02:13 of the second period against the Panthers on Saturday night. And his linemates earning the supporting points were Halpern and Pouliot. Kind of begs the question ... what are the top 6 forwards doing these days.

Clearly there needs to be some changes to the top 2 lines. Perhaps it's time to get Cammy back with Gionta and Gomez. Plekanec and Kostitsyn seem to be the sole producers in the top 6 anyway. And why did Maxime Lapierre's fire burn out? He's looking more like his old self again; and that, we could do without.

Friday takes the team to Buffalo, where the match-up will be no easier. Then it's home for Ottawa the following night. Losses are not an option in these two games.

I think we all knew that this wasn't going to be an easy week, but simply put, the Montreal Canadiens shot themselves in the foot last night with the most lackluster performance of the season thus far. And in doing so, have squarely put the pressure on themselves for the weekend to come.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Canadiens Week in Preview - Another Tough One

The Habs are coming off a busy week that saw them pickup 6 points over four games in only six days. Most notably, was the back to back Friday / Saturday games that no doubt tired the team, and was a partial reason for their loss against the Panthers.

But despite being back to a three game week, the coming five days will be as challenging as ever. Once again, the Canadiens face back to back games, which will most likely see Alex Auld take to the net for his second campaign. We should also see a bit more consistency building on the Power Play, as Andrei Markov will certainly see more ice time. Despite all the chatter that Jaro Spacek will sit out tonight's match against Columbus, the reality is that he WILL be on the ice in his usual slot. It would seem that Coach Martin is giving his veteran defenseman another opportunity to prove himself after they spoke at length about Spacek's lack of consistency.

So how should the team fair against the talent that will be thrown at them this week?

Tonight is one of those rare occasions. The Habs make their second start against a Western Conference team when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets. This being their only meeting of the year. The last time these two teams faced off was November 24th, 2009 in Montreal, and it ended in a Habs victory (5-3). On paper, both of these teams look quite similar, with the one glaring exception being the PP. However, Montreal has struggled potting goals in the past two games, and will certainly be challenged this evening when they face Mathieu Garon between the pipes. Although he's only started 2 games this year, he's been the winner in both, and posted a fantastic 1.61 GAA and a .938 SV%. With numbers like that - the Habs offense is going to have to get far more proactive in front of the net, and rattle Garon's cage early.

The mini road trip continues Friday night as the Habs roll into Buffalo to face the Sabres. Once again, the oppositions record (3-7-2) doesn't paint the clear picture about the team. Consider that they have 6 players with 7+ points on the season, and a total of 30 goals scored, the Sabres are a group that has plenty of depth across their lineup. Shutting down Derek Roy will have to be a priority. And goaltender Ryan Miller, who's considered to be one of the best in the league, will also be anxious to add another to the win column. It would appear to be either teams opportunity when they step to the ice.

The week comes to a close as Bell center fans welcome home their team, as they face the Ottawa Senators for the third time this season. Montreal has owned the Sens so far with 4-3 and 3-0 victories, but that will only fuel the fire for some Ottawa revenge. Clearly the Senators have struggled getting their share of goals as well, and Alex Kovalev always has something to prove whenever he returns to his old teams barn. But Brian Elliot hasn't posted great numbers as the starting goaltender for Ottawa, and the Habs have definitely capitolized on that in both previous outings.

This is a tough week to call. All three games seem like they could go either way, and to be honest, I'd be happy if we are 4 points richer by weeks end. Reality states that in order to do that, Price will have to rebound with a strong start tonight, and ride a win into Buffalo. And the power play has got to start clicking. Besides that, the same old song needs to be sung: Take shots, and get players to the blue ice at every opportunity possible.

By the time it's all over and done, we should still be sitting atop the North Eastern division, which will also secure a top3 slot in the Conference.

Not bad for a team that everyone called "lucky" in last years playoffs.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Canadiens Blogging just got WAY BETTER! Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself ...

I'm pretty sure that many of you are already singing the Stones anthem. And to be honest - if you are, I'm smiling already!

Here I am ... the newest edition to The Team at The Checking Line. And what better way to get to know you - and for you to get to know me - than a nice and simple introduction.

So let me tell you a tiny little bit about myself.

First of all, I have a serious illness. Yeah that's right. I'm sick! Some people love hockey, and some people are huge fans of the team they support. I however - have issues. To say that I'm a Habs fanatic would be a terrible understatement. I truly live and breath it. Some people think that I should seek professional help.
So as a part of my "therapy", I began blogging about the illustrious Canadiens. But that didn't help. All it did was solidify the fact that I have an illness. I became obsessed with looking for great Habs topics to discuss, and blogged incessantly about those things.

Strange for a guy that was born in South Dakota, USA - and grew up in Toronto! But I've had a Montreal chapeau on my head since high school. Many a day saw me and my fellow Habs fans, sitting in the "Greys' of Maple Leaf Gardens, cheering on our beloved Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge. We even made sure that we were there to shut down MLG for the last Canadiens / Leafs match-up. We won 2-1. And we rubbed it in all the way along College Street, making our way to catch the subway!

So when George and I began talking about starting a project together that might combine the ranting of (shameless plug!), with the professional hockey site of The Checking Line ... Well - it was a no brainer.

So here we are, and the excitement has just begun to build. The announcement of our "amalgamation" has already stirred people into a frenzy of excitement, and that's before we've even spelled out what we're doing. So I feel it only fair to completely let the cat out of the bag ...

Beginning this coming Sunday (Nov 7th, 2010), George Prax and I will be hosting an interactive blog, and we're inviting a couple of our closest Habs bloggers to join us in the commentary. We'll have different guest bloggers every two weeks to address the issues that are current and most pertinent to Canadiens hockey. But to top it all off, on the first Habs game day after each post, we invite you (Yes - YOU!), to join us avant le match des Canadiens for a LIVE BLOG to discuss what's been posted, and to get your thoughts and opinions.

Sound like a radio call in show? You bet! Sound like something that's never been done before in the history of Habs blogging? Right again! Think of it as radio without audibles.

So we're going to kick it off this coming weekend! And as the excitement builds, George and I want you to welcome our first guest bloggers for the inaugural version of this incredible program: Rosalyn Roy (@Tygerlylly on Twitter), and Scott Schmidt (@shmitzysays on Twitter). We'll release the topics later this week so stay tuned!

So there you have it! Habs Blog History in the making. Thanks for supporting us and joining us for the ride. I promise you that the journey will be great!

Also, please ensure that you head over to our guest bloggers web sites:

And let me finish by saying this ...

(I'm) Pleased to meet you - Hope you guess my name!