Rabid Habs

The Champ, The Chump and The Bum, Vol. 12

Jean Béliveau

Written by: Karine Hains

As we enter the third month of the season, the picture is a lot less pretty than it was in September but there’s no reason to panic yet. The Canadiens still have a much better record than they did at this time last year but some of the weaknesses are really starting to show. The Sainte-Flanelle started the week with a win over the Avalanche before falling in a somewhat ugly fashion to the Wild. Then, in Chicago, the Canadiens put on quite a fight over the Hawks but dropped the game in the dying seconds. It was a tremendous game but the final score was quite disheartening and it showed in the poor display the players offered in the first two period of a lackluster effort against Dallas which ended in a 4-1 defeat.

The Champ: P.K. Subban

Too often this year, Subban has looked like he didn’t want to shoot, it was world of difference with the trigger happy P.K. which we had come to love. In fact, the change was so drastic that it made us think that someone had told him to shoot less. Granted, sometimes the blasts off target from the blue line burnt the Habs but those Howitzers are still part of P.K.’s arsenal and when used appropriately, they can do a lot of damage. This week, we saw a more aggressive P.K., in 4 games he registered 9 shots and 8 hits notching 2 goals and 2 assists in the process. While that didn’t translate into a lot of wins for the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge it was still a great relief to see Subban’s name on the scoresheet in all but one game. Yes, he did also get 8 penalty minutes in the week but thankfully, those didn’t hurt the team much. Hopefully, this week constitutes a return to form for the Habs’ prized D-man and he treats us to much more displays like those in the coming months.

The Chump(s): The aging D-men

No, I am not talking about Gonchar or Markov here, while they are both past their prime they still provide flashes of brilliance for the team. Gonchar scored his first goal with his new team this week and while Markov is nowhere near as fast as he once was, he makes up for is lack of speed with his smarts. I wish the same could be said with Allen, Gilbert and Weaver but sadly, it is not the case. When Therrien decided to pull the plug on the young D experiment, we had hoped that there would be some form of consistency on the blue line but sadly it was not to be. Instead, we’re seeing a musical chair game where there are two seats to be filled by 3 men and none of them are doing enough to claim a regular seat. Allen seems even slower than Hal Gill use to be and there really is saying something. Weaver offered sound defensive play last year but this year he really does seem to be struggling and is consequently pilling on the mistakes…yes he really is making us miss Josh Gorges. As for Gilbert well, no one thought Bergevin was bringing in a savior in him but it’s getting to the point where I feel a certain apprehension every time he steps on the ice. That being said, Weaver seems to have sustain a shoulder injury in the debacle against Dallas last night so it will be interesting to see what Therrien’s next move will be. Is he going to recall and use a youngster on the blue line or will he stick with Subban, Markov, Gonchar, Emelin, Gilbert and Allen? One thing’s for sure, I wouldn’t want to have to do his job these days.

The Bum(mer): The fall of losses

It has been a tough fall for the world of hockey, at the end of November, we lost what can only be described as a legend in ex-defenseman and coach Viktor Tikhonov. While he wasn’t that revered in North America, the Russian still won 4 national championships and 8 world championships while he was at the helm of the national team and 3 olympic gold medals. That loss came the day after the NHL was rocked by the passing of Pat Quinn, a former player and highly respected executive in the hockey world, Quinn has particularly left his mark in the history of both the Leafs and the Canucks. While he never got to win hockey’s ultimate prize he nevertheless won the Jack Adams trophy twice and a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2002 olympics. For us Habs fans though, the biggest loss of them all was the passing of the great Jean Béliveau a man who won 10 Stanley Cups with the Habs and wore the “C” with such class that he became a model for all hockey players worldwide. Even after hanging up his skates, le Gros Bill remained a role model for everyone, players and fans alike. Kind and accessible, Béliveau remained involved in the community until the very end. He will be sorely missed and one can only hope that the newest ghost in our line-up will help our Habs right the ship. Thank you for everything Mr. Béliveau, the memories, the legacy and the way you will keep helping us from above.

This week, the Habs have a light schedule; one match-up with Vancouver on Tuesday and another one with the Kings on Friday. Let’s hope that this week is kinder for our beloved Canadiens!