First Phase of Camp Complete

By Chris Boucher

With four games under their belt, the first phase of training camp is now behind the Canadiens. The early part of camp has produced some positives and some negatives. With most of the media and fans focussing on the negatives.

Positives

Andrei Markov’s play can only be described as a positive. His offensive talent, specifically on the powerplay, has been a pleasant surprise. Particularly on a roster lacking anyone capable of quarterbacking the powerplay. Playing alongside a defensively responsible, and veteran partner in Eric Weinrich, should help Markov’s defensive shortcomings.
Markov’s talent has produced success on the powerplay. Although it has only been four games, the powerplay has been running at a success rate of 27.3%; Compared to 16.7% last season.
As a result the team’s offence has been successful; Averaging 3.25 goals per game. An exceptional upswing compared to last season’s average of 2.39. The League’s desire to clamp down on stick-fouls has helped bring about the offensive success. The Habs are averaging 8 powerplay chances per game; Compared with just under 4 chances per game last season.

Negatives

The Habs’ five-on-five play has been less than stellar. They’ve been outscored 13 to 3 at even strength. Last season they were outscored 142 to 154 at even strength. Solid defensive play was the team’s bread and butter. Giving up 3 even-strength goals per game is not going to win games.
The Habs have struggled with their discipline, as the opposition has benefited from an average of 6 powerplay chances per game. Obviously much of this can be attributed to the referees’ new found vigilance when it comes to stick infractions. But if the clamping down continues during the regular season, it will be up to the players to adjust.
Team defense has also been weak. Opposing teams have averaged 28 shots on goal per game, and scored 5.25 goals per game. The goaltending has been particularly bad. Hackett, Garon, and Fichaud have combined for an incredibly disastrous .813 save percentage.

Outlook

Preseason has just begun. Lines have not been structured, and much of the ice-time has gone to inexperienced players. The second phase of training camp should be a much more accurate reflection of the Habs’ upcoming season.

Hab You Heard?

-Vadim Tarasov, the Habs’ 7th round pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft has already begun his season with Metalburg of the Russian League. After 5 games Tarasov is 2-2-1, with a 2.36 GAA, and a .910 save percentage.