A NUMBERS GAME


All right. It’s time to take a deep breath.

Can we all agree that the goal that Ryan O’Byrne scored on his own net last night in the game against the New York Islanders is not the number one concern on this Montreal Canadiens’ team?

Good.

Now let’s move on, and take a look at the 2008-2009 edition of a Canadiens’ team that is at the quarter-mark of the season. Twenty games in, there are a large number of Habs who have failed to live up to the offensive exepectations set by this team last season. And when you project current point totals, the news is grim indeed.

Take Alex Kovalev (please.) 35 goals and 49 assists for 84 points last season. If we project his current totals for the rest of the year, Kovalev will finish with 20 goals and 40 assists for 60 points.

Give or take a point.

Tomas Plekanec. Last season, 29 goals and 40 assists for 69 points. Based on his performance so far this season, Plekanec would finish the year with 16 goals and 28 assists for 44 points.

Ouch.

How about Andrei Kostitsyn, the third member of that line that is looking to get into gear? Last season: 26 goals, 27 assists for 53 points. Granted, Andrei had his bell rung earlier in the season which slowed him down, but project his current numbers, and you have a 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points. Now, you KNOW Andrei is good for a whole lot more than that, but it’s certainly food for thought.

Saku Koivu, on the other hand, looks to be on pace for another 60-point-or-so season. Sixteen goals, 40 assists for 56 points last season. His numbers project to 28 goals and 40 assists for 68 points, but Koivu has had a tendency in recent years to slow down in the second half of the season.

Alex Tanguay is producing at a better clip than he did last season, when he scored 18 goals and added 40 assists for 58 points with the Calgary Flames. If Tanguay continues on his current pace, he’ll finish with 32 goals and 36 assists for 68 points. Give or take.

Robert Lang is giving the Canadiens exactly what they bargained for when they signed him to a free-agent deal. Lang picked up 21 goals and 33 assists for 54 points last season with Chicago. This season he’s on pace to produce 24 goals and 32 assists for 56 points.

If you think some of those statistics are scary, remember that the 2007-2008 edition of the Montreal Canadiens lived and died by the power play. This season, the Habs are ranked 23rd overall when playing with the man advantage; 28th overall when playing with the man advantage, at home.

Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel for this Canadiens’ team that has managed to forge a record of 11-5-4, despite a mediocre month of November.

It can only get better for this club, right?

Right???

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About ahefter

I have covered hockey extensively during my 30-year sports broadcasting career. From the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid to the Edmonton Oiler dynasty years, I've shared my views on hockey with listeners in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. You can "catch me in action" on Youtube at the following URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n5BdB9ngYw My radio stops include TSN 690 Montreal, CJAD Montreal, CKNW Vancouver, and CKEY Toronto. I also ran the Canadian Press sports desk (radio). My travels as a network reporter have taken me to four Olympics, most recently Vancouver 2010. I'm currently an Applied Assistant Professor within the School of Communication at the University of Hartford.
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