How good can this team be?

To start the season the outlook seemed bleak. Offense was nowhere to be found, team was taking penalties like they were going out of style and special teams weren’t that special.

The uproar soon followed. I must admit, I felt that we were in for a long season. And honestly, we may be. Time will tell.

However, I try to be a “glass half full” kinda guy. An optimist.

When it comes to predicting the outcome of a season by looking at a team’s roster at the start of the year maybe you can, in a general way, assess where the team will finish. When it comes to predicting where a team will finish by looking at a team’s first 10-15-20 games…. you can make certain judgements… sometimes you’ll be right.

But sometimes, you’ll still be dead wrong.

In the last few years, we’ve seen predictions by experts that rated a team at the top of the conference…. the team barely makes it in. A team was rated as being out of the playoffs and they finish in the top spots of the conference.

There are so many variables it’s impossible to tell. Maybe your best guy gets hurt. Maybe a mediocre player has a career year and puts up surprising numbers which really helps raise his linemates production and the team in the overall standings. Maybe your GM makes a move that propels the team on a higher level…. or cuts the heart out of the group.

Just look at the Penguins of just a few years back when they won the cup. Going into the home strech, they weren’t even in the 8th spot. They were out of it. Sure, they had Sid, Malkin etc… But they were struggling big time. The last strech of the season, they hit a different gear and seemed to peak in the playoffs.

That’s not a one time occurance either. 8th seeds, 7th seeds, they occasionally go far. If your team really hits it’s stride at the right time of the year, you’ve got a shot.

So how good can these Habs be?

Well, there are positives for sure.

Erik Cole has been looking like the player they brought him here to be. He now has 6 goals and he’s always going to the net. Montreal has needed players like this for years. A bigger frame guy who goes into the other team’s goaltenders face…. and causes problems. Of course, to start the year, Mr Martin didn’t seem to want to play Cole much. Thankfully, that has changed.

Tomas Plekanec is a hell of a hockey player. We Habs fans have known this for quite some time. He has become much like Markov was a few years back. Our secret weapon.

Markov was quitely in the tops of the league in offensive defensemen. One of the very best.

Plekanec is such a good 2 way player. And it’s almost like it’s a secret because you don’t hear much about him. If it’s 5 on 5, penalty kill or power play, Tomas is on the ice and paying dividends. In fact, on the penalty kill he will sometimes generate offensive opportunities and rarely gives up on a play.

Our defense is depleted but some young guys are settling in. Gorges has been hitting his stride. Not that he’ll lead all defensemen in points or anything like that. But he’s a steady defensive precense. Josh is leading the team in +/- at +10. He wasn’t that strong to start the year but it’s coming together.

PK Subban is starting to settle in. Early in the season he gave up the puck alot and took some pretty bad penalties. Weber has looked really good at times, Emelin had a strong game the other night being quite physical.

Carey Price is looking like he’ll be the same goaltender we had last year. One of the best in the league, he will steal some games for sure.

Scott Gomez started looking alot better in the last game…. while many people expressed their desire to can him right away, if this guy can find it, he can be a heck of a puck mover. He and Gionta were looking like their New Jersey days last night.

Andrei Markov. Certainly, his contract is a risky one at best. If Markov can come back and be reasonably healthy this season, you can be assured that the special teams and the offensive game will be affected quick positively. Even with some diminished production due to his injuries, the guy has an incredible vision and hockey sense. Komisarek should be paying him a good chunk of his contract for making him look good for those Montreal years (I had to!).

Point is, it’s a guessing game. A crap shoot. You never know what can happen. There may not be another major injury this season. Or maybe, they will be decimated with injuries. You can only guess. If you’re “the expert”, the “arm chair gm” or whoever, it’s impossible to be completely accurate without an incredible amount of luck on your part.

My hope is that Montreal hits their stride and really click when the playoffs roll around.

I think they’ll make it in!

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