Habs Missing Pieces

By Chris Boucher
The Canadiens’ health problems of a year ago have been the main topic of discussion during training camp. With health should come scoring, and with scoring should come success. But will this hypothetical scoring be enough?

The Canadiens went into the off-season looking to improve on offense. The team averaged only 2.39 goals scored per game last season. Which was actually an improvement from the 98-99 season, when the team averaged only 2.24 goals per game. Then again, scoring was up around the league last season; from 5.3 goals per game in 98-99, to 5.5 goals per game last season.

Jim Campbell and Darryl Shannon, Rejean Houle’s only notable free-agent signing going into the upcoming season, combined for only 5 goals at the NHL level last year. Obviously not the scoring punch Habs’ fans were hoping for.

Based on last year’s numbers, in order for the Canadiens to improve to a respectable 11th place in scoring, they would have to increase their output by nearly a goal every two games. Initially this doesn’t seem like much. But in order for this to happen the Habs would need to add two 20-goal-scorers to last year’s roster. That’s without taking into account the 16 goals that Turner Stevenson and Shayne Corson combined for last season.

Unfortunately, the only way that the team could achieve this “goal”, is if every player on the current roster matched their career-highs in goals scored.

Obviously, there is no way that some of the players could even come close to their career years. Patrick Poulin is not going to score 20 goals, and Trevor Linden won’t score 33. The likelihood of Jim Campbell scoring 20, or Sergei Zholtok potting 26 could also be classified as zero-to-none. On the other hand, look for a healthy Koivu to match his career-high of 20, Savage to reach 26, and a good possibility of Rucinsky coming close to 28.

Patrice Brisebois is the only defenseman on the team to reach 10 goals in one season. Eric Weinrich’s career best is 7; matching Karl Dykhuis’ total of last season. Andrei Markov could be the wild-card as far as offense from the defense is concerned. His offensive talent is beyond reproach. Unfortunately, can Alain Vigneault look the other way when it comes to Markov’s defensive shortcomings.

Keeping players like Koivu and Savage healthy this season should be the Habs’ biggest concern. These players are key pieces to the Habs’ offensive puzzle. Unfortunately, this puzzle might just be missing more than a few pieces.

Hab You Heard?

-Defenseman Ryan Glenn, the Habs’ 5th round pick in last year’s draft will play for St. Lawrence University. Glenn had 59 points in 42 games for Walpole of the EJHL last season.

-Center/right winger Scott Selig, the Habs’ 6th round pick in last year’s draft will play for Northeastern University. Selig had 57 points in 28 games for Thayer Academy of the USHSE last season.

-Defenseman Petr Chvojka, the Habs 6th round pick in last year’s draft will play for the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. The Tigers chose Chvojka during this year’s CHL Import Draft. Chvojka had 14 points in 29 games in the Czech junior league last season. He also played 5 games in the Czech Elite League, where he registered no points, but was a respectable +1.