Let the Season Begin! Habs Hockey Preview, Predictions and no Passing out in the Bar

hitting the road, Go Habs!

The Montreal Canadiens will start their season Thursday   Oct 7th on the road against Toronto. Ah yes, nothing better than starting the season with a matchup where either: A) we humiliate the Leafs the way any good Montrealer loves to, or B) we get humiliated by the money pit that will never hasn’t won since… no one can remember its been that long!

Yes, I am a Canadiens fan. I think I deserve the right to make fun of the Leafs. Its so easy and fun.

Since the Chicago Blackhawks are the current Stanley Cup Champions, Toronto is currently the team with the longest Stanley Cup drought (since 1967, all their Cup photos are in black in white).

However, when we needed the one point in order to qualify for the playoffs last Spring, Toronto didn’t make it easy. They may be lowly Toronto, but our rivalry is fierce and they will do anything to kick Montreal’s ass.

A Toronto/Montreal matchup is a great way to start the 2010-11 season.

So what do I predict for the 2010-11 squad? After a decent preseason, the Habs look alright (not superstars but no celler-dwellers. Lars Eller fought his way into the line-up and looks like he will be a good addition to the squad. However, he does need to fill out a little; he looks more like a stick figure than a Staal brother. There must be someone on the team with a mom, who can stuff his face or maybe a few poutines will do the trick.

Brian Gionta will be leading the team as our new captain. I say it’s a good choice. Gionta has been a captain before, ie. lead the team in points (and by example) and for the French media: He’s working on the french! Not a bad choice, not bad looking either. A shout out to my friend, who is a big Gionta fan, “stand by your man this season, he’s going to need it when the chips are down”.

And so we start the season missing Cammalleri due to a suspension, Markov to an injury since the playoffs and Hamerlik is day to day. Time to panic? NO! It’s only game one.

For those thinking Price is dry heaving because he can’t handle the pressure, you’re going to have to do better than that. This season, if you’re going to badmouth the goalie, could you give me more than “Price sucks?” A shout out to Dave Stubbs from the Gazette whose article about the history of hating goalies by our uptight fans makes a valid point to the Price is Made blog I wrote earlier. To either agree or disagree with Mr Stubbs check out A History of Booing Goaltenders (more elaborate than using the term “you suck Carey Price”).

And now, the predictions for this season, what we will be seeing from the Canadiens and the NHL, and what I’ll be doing when I hit each bar.

1) Montreal will finish between 5th place and 8th. They may be fast, had the #2 power play and steady goaltending last year, however we’re quite small and don’t score as much. If i had to bet some money I’d say 7th.

2) The Chicago Blackhawks won’t hang on to the Cup for long. After an off season of dumping a lot of players to make salary cap space, it seems building a team based on payroll has a short life span. Sorry Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, this was sweet but its gonna be short.

3) The Pittsburgh Penguins have become this decade’s Detroit Red Wings. As in perennial contenders for the Stanley Cup, watch for Sidney Crosby to return to another conference final. He and his amazing supporting staff remind me of how teams like the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980’s and the Red Wings of the late 90’s/early 2000 wowed fans.

4) Players to look for in the Habs lineup: PK Subban will have a full season of awesomeness. Look for Max Pacioretty, Ryan White and Yannick Weber to get their chance in the big show.

5) This is a make or break season for Andrei Kostitsyn and Ryan O’Byrne. Both will have no choice but to have good seasons, time is running out and so is our patience. There are younger players who can score and do more with their sizes than those two. Kostistyn can score goal and he will be less distracted since his bother Sergei got shipped out last summer.

6) The Washington Capitals will be the San Jose Sharks of the East. Translation: they will have another amazing regular season however come playoff time, watch another collapse. Alex Ovechkin has won every single individual award, however, when it comes to leading a team, he disappears. See what Montreal did to the Caps last Spring, it will happen again.

7) There will be a couple sketchier bars than the ones I went last season. If anyone can find something sketchier than Vol de Nuit or Fats, lead me the way.

8) The rest of Canada: Calgary will be back in contention.

Edmonton may have a great crew of young guys but give them a couple years (it worked in Pittsburgh).

Ottawa will be distracted by the presence of Carrie Underwood in the press box (she married Mike Fisher).

Vancouver… please I don’t understand your hockey, why should I bother?

Toronto: you might get close to a playoff spot, but not close enough. It’s going to take more than wins to get Dion Phaneuf to crack a smile.

9) Come playoff time, it will take more than the miracle of last Spring to go further than the Conference final. It was a special moment, but was it the real deal or simply a moment?

10) I will hopefully one day get to catch an actual game at the Bell Centre. It’s the goal. I will work my way up bar to bar until it actually happens. In the meantime, I will remain in the beer leagues. If anyone wants to take me to a game however… well twist my rubber arm!

I will be somewhere downtown for the game Thursday. Cheer on through thick and thin. Either way, there will be beer and there will be yelling at a TV all season long


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