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Shell Game

Regular season game #7

In this early season, we have already seen multiple versions of the Canadiens. We’ve seen the team that resembled last year’s sad sack group. We’ve seen a tenacious and speedy team that suffocated its opponent, and we’ve seen the team that trades punches with opponents while vacillating between wobbly and dominant. Which of those three selections is the real version of the 2013 Habs? Or is there another version that best represents the new team?

What makes assessing this Canadiens team so tricky is the fact that several of their opponents have failed to show up at all. From the Panthers at home to the Capitals in Washington, more than one of Montreal’s opponents have laid an absolute egg. This, however, is not the Habs’ problem. In dismantling the Panthers, Capitals, and especially today against the Sabres, the Canadiens did what they had to do, and are doing what they need to do given the soft schedule laid before them.

Just about everything went right for the Canadiens today. David Desharnais finally had a positive impact on the game, as did Lars Eller. Galchenyuk and Gallagher aren’t just showing that they belong in Montreal, they’re showing that they too can make a difference. PK Subban made his debut and didn’t look like he missed any time all. Look for him to log more ice time as time goes on, starting tomorrow. Carey Price was terrific in making 30 saves and the team’s only blemish was allowing a shorty to the Sabres’ Thomas Vanek, who happens to be as hot as it gets.

In a rare feat, the Canadiens even had a distinct edge in faceoff wins. Much of the credit for this has to go to Michel Therrien, who got his team to rebound after a dismal effort in Ottawa. That is the sign of a coach pushing the right buttons and of a group that cares. On the heels of a “controversial” decision to ban the “triple low five”, he will not have to answer to anyone for the decision as long as the wins keep coming.

Of course, we can discuss all day and night whether or not this is the work of a good team or of an improving team, or whether or not teams are simply not taking the Canadiens seriously yet after last year’s debacle. Case in point: were the Canadiens that good in limiting Buffalo to just ONE first period shot, or were the Sabres still emotionally stuck in Boston? Things can and often do change rapidly, and eager as they may be to avenge their Wednesday loss to the Senators, the Canadiens will have their hands full against Ottawa tomorrow afternoon.

Did you make note of which shell the real Habs are under? Let’s hope that Michel Therrien has, and keeps them on this path.

Follow me on twitter: @kyleroussel


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