One of the best teams in the pre-season had its share of troubles the
past few games against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington to name a
few. Only Buffalo and Dominik Hasek proved to be an unworthy foe. That’s
when Captain Vinny Damphousse broke out of his usual early season drought.
The two goalies, Moog and Thibault, have both played well, but it seems
Moog has so far been the starter while Thibault is the backup. It seems
coaches Vigneault and King have really done wonders with Montreal’s
defensive system, which had been complete chaos under Mario Tremblay. Moog
has also been a calming influence on the blueliners, shouting instructions
to them during the game.
The Canadiens are not like the Bruins, Capitals, or Flames, who all have
a significant number of rookies or young’uns in the lineup — only C
Sebastien Bordeleau and D Brett Clark are with the team. Fortunately,
though, these are two good rookies — especially my boy Bordeleau!
Bordeleau can do it all. He’s got the offensive skills to dazzle the odd
time, and he’s good defensively for a rookie, too. He’s also good on
faceoffs, and can take important draws in his own zone. Again, he played
too many games last year to be considered a rookie and a Calder candidate.
Unfortunately, he’s playing on the fourth line right now with Thornton and
Bureau. Occasionally, he steps up to the third line to play with Brunet and
Stevenson or Richer.
Brett Clark is filling in for the injured Peter Popovic (infected ankle,
returns in 1-2 weeks), but is almost sure to be returned when Cullimore
comes back from his injury in a month or two. On a good note, D Dave Manson
is playing better than he was in the pre-season, when I could have sworn he
was the worst defenseman in the league, but I still don’t like him.
Where will Brian Savage play when he returns from his injury in a couple
weeks? They could sure use a quality defenseman on the blueline, but so can
every team except for the Capitals, Stars, and Avalanche. They could trade
him with Thibault and another player in a package deal. Richer is slated to
return in 3-4 weeks from when Coffey’s skate cut his calf mucle agains the
Flyers last week.
Currently, the lines are as follows. Savage doesn’t really have a spot
for him when he returns, although he might fight with Richer for a spot on
the right side with either Bure, Stevenson, or Bureau sitting.
Corson Koivu Recchi
Rucinsky Damphousse Bure
Brunet Tucker Stevenson
Thornton Bordeleau Bureau