Friday, September 26, 2008

Montreal Canadiens Season Preview

The Habs need Alex Kovalev to put up big numbers if they're to remain atop the Eastern Conference. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

From The CBC:

Key arrivals: G Marc Denis, D Alex Henry, F Robert Lang,F Georges Laraque, F Alex Tanguay

Key departures: D Mark Streit, F Michael Ryder, F Bryan Smolinski

Offence: The key to Montreal's high-powered attack is no secret. A lethal power play that converted an astounding 24.1 per cent of its chances (best in the NHL last season) fuelled an offence that ranked behind only Ottawa's with 3.13 goals per game. And staying out of the box is easier said than done for opponents: only four teams drew more than Montreal's 374 power-play chances.

But can the star of the show match his production from last season? Alex Kovalev netted 17 goals with the man advantage en route to reaching 35 overall, easily his best tally since arriving in Montreal in 2004. The good news for the Habs is that the mercurial Russian has something to play for: he's an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

Ditto for captain Saku Koivu and new acquistions Lang and Tanguay. General manager Bob Gainey imported the latter from Calgary on the heels of a disappointing 18-goal, 58-point campaign, Tamguay's least productive since 2001-02 with Calgary. Lang averaged 53 points over the last two seasons with Detroit and Chicago.

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