Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Great Day to be a Habs Fan

In an early season that has had plenty of ups and downs for diehard Montreal Canadiens fans, last night was certainly one where we could all sit back and smile.

Not only did the Habs put up a dominating 4-0 win, giving Carey Price his first shutout (and assist!) of the season and P.K. Subban his first goal (a culmination of greatly improved play over the past few games), but for the first time in the 2011-12 regular season, the team is now above the .500 winning percentage mark. They've battled their way to that point with an impressive 7-2-1 record over the past 10 games. And if even that isn't enough to please you... at long last, Mathieu Darche did NOT receive any powerplay time yesterday!

I recently saw it suggested that Erik Cole might be one of the more disappointing off-season signings league-wide. If you had only watched the first 7 Montreal Canadiens games this year, I could see how you would think that. Cole took his time finding his zone in Montreal. But over the last 11 contests, night in, night out, Cole has been one of the team's most dangerous forwards, playing physically and driving the net hard. Over the last 11 games, Cole has picked up 4 goals and 4 assists, a rate which would project to 60 points on an 82-game season. Sixty is just one less than Cole's career high of 61 set in 2006-07, so it would be unrealistic for Habs fans to expect anything more from him. I, for one, am loving Cole, and feel every bit as happy about the signing as when it was first announced (or when I was clamouring for it prior to July 1).

Shifting over to other good news which made it a great day to be a Habs fan...

- Yesterday evening, the Montreal Canadiens announced the signing of Brendan Gallagher to a 3-year entry level contract. Gallagher is in his final season with the Vancouver Giants, where he currently has 18 goals and 31 points in 18 games. He is well on pace to better his last season's totals of 44 goals and 91 points in 66 games and seems a near-lock to represent Canada in the upcoming World Junior Championship. Last night, he captained the WHL Team that defeated Russia 5-2 in the penultimate Subway Super Series match, though he was held off the scoresheet.

Gallagher is the second highly touted prospect to be signed to join the Hamilton Bulldogs (if he doesn't make the Habs outright) for 2012-13 after Jarred Tinordi. They will form part of a strong incoming pro class that should also include Michael Bournival, Morgan Ellis, Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn, and Danny Kristo.

- Speaking of Ellis and Beaulieu, both were in action for their QMJHL clubs last night, and each recorded 2 assists in respective 4-3 victories. After a bit of an up-and-down start offensively, Beaulieu is now on a 5-game point streak, over which he has 2 goals and 6 assists. It will be interesting to see if he is invited to Canada's December camp for the World Juniors and if he can lock down a spot amidst tough competition.

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