Poor Len Canayen here. With SuperBowl coming up, it's time to talk hockey! High time too, because, since the beginning of the NHL season, Ed. hasn't allowed me any space at all -- zero -- to talk about how right I was that the Montréal Canadiens would be a vastly improved team this year, thanks to Marc Bergevin's genius trade to Nashville of P.K. Subban in return for which the Habs got one of the two best defencemen in the league -- Shea Weber.
I content myself with saying that I was right, and Dave Stubbs and all the other flaks for the "transcendant defenceman" (Stubbsy's phrase) were wrong. The Predators are having a mediocre season. Les Glorieux started off like gangbusters, causing some -- OK, me -- to wonder if they were going to finish the season with under 10 losses out of 82 games, like the 1976-77 club which still ranks as the Best. Hockey. Team. Ever.
First in their division, first in their conference, first overall in the NHL. Then came the 10-0 debacle in Columbus and we fans readjusted our expectations. The Habs had a very good record through October and on into November. Then came the injuries. I need both hands to count the number of regular players who were out of the lineup in December and January. Suffice it to say that at times it seemed there were more members of the St. John's farm team on the ice than members of the Big Club. Thank the hockey gods that Carey Price remained healthy, although arguably not at the top of his game.
In spite of the injuries and a pretty tough schedule in January, the Canadiens remain at the top of their division, and by the end of the month should be assured of a berth in the playoffs. The regulars are returning, one by one, with only Brendan Gallagher not able to answer the bell for tomorrow's afternoon game against OV and the Washington Capitals. Moreover, the Habs have added a good, experienced defenceman, Nikita Nesterov, acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning. He scored his first goal as a Canadien in last night's rather shabby 3-1 loss to Philthydelphia.
Nesterov and the other Russians -- Montréal is beginning to look like the old Red Army squad -- are the subject of this week's discussion Hockey Inside/Out, a weekly quarter-hour of hockey chatted produced by the Montreal Gazette. It's a good little show that all Habs fans ought to watch, if only to enjoy "Knucks" Nilan's Montréal accent. Do all Canadians talk like that? Check this out...
Note from Ed.: This is not a promo piece for Poor Len. He is not one of the panelists on the show.