It’s almost January 1st, so I am jumping on the Top 10 bandwagon!! This will be a welcome distraction from the language debate that has once again gripped our city. I will try not to be 100% Habs-Centric, but don’t be surprised if 5 of the 10 focus on the Habs.
Top 10 Surprises of the 2011/2012 Season (so far)…
10- The Opening Montage for Habs home games is L-A-M-E
When I go to a game, it’s VERY important for me to make it in time for the opening montage. The Habs out-do themselves each year, and last year’s graphic-novel / Inception themed montage, coupled with the childhood hockey photos, was probably my favourite. This year? I don’t even know what I am watching. Quick cuts of their off-ice training? The music doesn’t get me amped up for the game either. Big fail this year by Habs marketing department.
9- The Shanahammer
The hammer of justice wielded by the formerly-do-no-wrong Brendan Shanahan has proved to be a heavy tool. Just a few missteps by the (all together now) “Senior Vice-President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations” has earned him the reputation of trying to eliminate hitting from hockey, being inconsistent, and of course, being partial to the Bruins. For the record, I think the Shanahammer is far better than the Campbell Dart Board of Random Justice. There’s no way Brendan Shanahan could get it right every time, and there’s no way he wouldn’t come under criticism. Sure – there have definitely been a few undeserved suspensions (ahem Bouchard), and a few non-suspensions (ahem Lucic on Miller), but at the end of the day, hockey fans now have a collection of highly imitable videos that are sure to become the hottest internet meme’s of 2012.
8- Sidney Crosby would only come back in late November and then disappear again in December
It’s a sad sad story. As a hockey fan, I love Sidney Crosby, and I love what he does for the game. Tragic…both for the league, and for my fantasy team. What are other Crosby holders doing? I’m just keeping him on the IR and hoping for the best.
7- Andrei Markov
When Montreal’s “favourite” GM – Pierre Gauthier, signed Markov to three years this summer, I was of the mentality that it was a pretty good move. Markov would give us at least two quality years, and the third year was a courtesy. Markov would be back by training camp, and he would make a great pairing with Emelin. It’s end of December. Markov is not even close. All I can think of now is that we could have used that money in the off-season to, I don’t know, re-sign James Wisniewski?
6- Boston is doing it again…and with conviction
I know I’m not supposed to say this but Boston is a GREAT team. Save for their poor start at the beginning of the season, the Bruins are one of the most consistent teams in the league right now. They do everything I wish the Habs could do – hit, score, KEEP A LEAD, finish off an opponent.
5- Brian Elliot is to Jaroslav Halak as Jaroslav Halak is to Carey Price
My how the tables have turned. Brian Elliot is stealing Halak’s job. The Blues are in a nice playoff position, and me thinks that the stop signs in St-Louis will read Elliot come spring. Brian Elliot leads the league in shutouts, save percentage, and GAA. HE HAS ONLY LOST TWO GAMES! I don’t give Gauthier any credit, ever, but when the whole city pressured him to keep Halak, he listened to Gainey and kept Price. Let us give thanks for that small miracle.
4- The Florida Panthers are…goood!?
Scratch that – the Panthers are first in their division, and a mere 3 points away from being the top team in the East. Remember this summer when we all had a good laugh at their giant overhaul. Oh how we giggled at the thought of a top line containing Stephen Weiss, Thomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg. I spent many an-hour regaling my friends with tales of how silly it was for them to acquire Brian Campbell. And José Theodore! What were they thinking?
3- Ovechkin DIDN’T bounce back
Yesterday someone offered to trade me Alex Ovechkin for Jaromir Jagr and Evander Kane – and I said no. Doesn’t that just say it all? What happened to Alex the Great? I had to scroll through 3 pages to find his name on the scoring leaders table. He’s ranked 74th for points. Some notable names that are above Alex Ovechkin? Thomas Plekanec (46th), Max Pacioretty (53rd), Erik Cole (69th)! If you look at average shots per game, Ovechkin is near the top with 3.9. So he’s getting shots, they just aren’t going in! With him sucking and Crosby sidelined, with the Habs mediocre and the Panthers soaring, and with apparently every other top scorer getting concussed, this is turning out to be a pretty bad season in the NHL.
2- People seem shocked that concussions are up!
Of course concussions are up! When something comes to the forefront of a conversation, like concussions have these last few years, people become more aware. With more awareness comes a higher rate of diagnosis. If the medical staff of teams (or the world in general) knew what they knew now 15 years ago, there likely would have been many more concussions then what is in the books. I don’t think the higher number of reported incidents indicates that the game is getting more dangerous, it just indicates a higher level of understanding.
1- The Habs are not in a playoff position, and worse, they are boring
I have a confession to make… it’s kind of a big deal. I get a lot of crap for not being consistent with my blog lately. I usually pass it off as being too busy with work, which is somewhat true. The whole truth? I am totally uninspired. Watching Habs hockey has become somewhat of a chore lately. I’ve stuck with the Habs through a lot in my life, and I suspect, like anything, this is just a down time in terms of entertainment, and it will soon pick up. But for the moment, I’ve noticed myself more willing to PVR a game this season than in recent years. And if you are married to me, you know that is a big deal. I hate PVR’ing games because someone always texts me a spoiler or I inevitably walk by a restaurant with a big screen TV. But this season, text away. If I do PVR the game, I’m quick to the fast forward button and have started creating my own Canadiens Express… (I can’t believe I just confessed that).