Here are just a few of the things that jumped out at me watching the Habs take on the Sabres in Roberval:
- Man, I would have loved to have been there. The atmosphere looked fantastic in the rink, but I probably would have been outside watching on the big screen. That's likely where the real party was at.
- My blogging hero Mike Boone wants to see the Kostitsyn brothers play with Tomas Plekanec this season. I still prefer the idea of playing them with Saku Koivu, but the point here is that they should definitely play together. Those guys really know how to find each other out there, and am I the only one that noticed Andrei actually talking on the ice? If playing with his brother can get Andrei out of his shell a little bit, that alone is a big reason why they should be on the same line this season. I remember talking to Plekanec after a game last season where he played with the brothers, and he basically said he was on his own out there. The brothers spoke to each other in Russian on the ice and on the bench, and Plekanec said he got the impression that he would be best served simply going to the net for rebounds, because he was a bit of an afterthought to both of them. He didn't really seem to mind, and Koivu might, so maybe Plekanec would be a better fit there. Regardless, I am more convinced than ever that both brothers would thrive playing on the same line all season. Would anyone dare split up the Sedins in Vancouver? Would they be nearly as effective playing apart? I believe the same rationale applies here.
- New RDS analyst Michel Bergeron actually made an interesting point in the first intermission while discussing Alex Tanguay playing the point on the Habs power play. He noted that putting Tanguay on the left point would allow Andrei Markov to move to the right side, freeing him up for the one-timers he routinely set up for Mark Streit last year and Sheldon Souray the year before. I've always believed Markov's shot was an underused weapon because his role on the power play was largely that of a table-setter. If he were to move to the right point and a guy like Tanguay or Sergei Kostitsyn were used on the left, Markov's lethal shot could really cause some damage. His shot is not quite as potent as Souray's, but it's definitely harder and just as accurate as Streit's. Markov had 10 power play goals last year as the set up guy, I wonder how many he could score as the trigger man?
- Is it me, or is Mathieu Dandenault far more valuable as a defenceman than he is as a forward? Guy Carbonneau has already said he has no intention of using Dandenault on defence this season, but I feel his usefulness is very limited as a forward on a team that has so many guys fighting for fourth line ice time. Not sure how he would take this and if he would report, but if I were the Habs I would send Dandenault down to Hamilton to get re-acquainted with the position for a month or two (with the additional benefit being some salary cap relief while he's down there) and then he would be available to provide some depth on defence. If an injury were to befall one of the Canadiens new big three on defence for any extended period of time this season, all these expectations of finishing first in the East would essentially fly out the window. In case of an injury like that to either Markov, Mike Komisarek or Roman Hamrlik, having Dandenault as additional insurance could be the difference between simply missing out on finishing first in the conference and missing the playoffs altogether.
- Finally, Guy Carbonneau's tie selection is still in pre-season form. I would have thought he would pull out something a little snazzier for the crowd in Roberval, like perhaps the new orange Hermès number he got when he appeared on the season premiere of Tout le monde en parle Sunday night.