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Saturday, September 27, 2008


27 September, 2008

The CANADIENS begin their centennial season on the road in Buffalo but something about the start of the 2008/9 NHL season feels like home. Perhaps, with 100 years of hockey and 24 Stanley Cup titles in their hindsight, finishing a surprising first in the Eastern Conference last season felt like a return to normalcy.

In the new season, the CANADIENS look to remain at the top of the standings and hope to begin looking for banner space amongst the rafters at Bell Centre. Figuring out where to actually hang those banners will most likely net somebody a full time job after unveiling the new central scoreboard. Seriously, it’s about the size of a house, weighs in at 50,000 pounds and is 25’ tall by 40’ wide. Nosebleed, meet widescreen.

But rafter real estate management may soon be an issue if last season’s numbers hold up again this year. The HABS finished not only first in their conference but second in the NHL in offense (3.13 GPG) and first in Power Play percentage (24.06%) with a league-best 90 goals while skating the extra attacker. Figure in a 21 year old future All Star net-minder who helped the team finish third in save percentage and you can see why the excitement builds in their 100th year.

In the 2007/8 NHL Season:
  • The CANADIENS beat teams within their own conference 44 times last season, establishing themselves as one of the re-emerging powerhouse teams in the East.
  • The team made its second appearance in the playoffs since the lockout.
  • MONTREAL’s defensive play is in need of some attention having finished 26th in the league in shots against per game and an average penalty kill team (15th).
While the foundations of a rebuilt dynasty may already be in place, it is simply a joy to watch the foreman, Saku Koivu, continue his work with the master plans. With actual MONTREAL legends in the head coach (Guy Carbonnneau) and GM positions (Bob Gainey), construction seems to be on schedule. Last year, the On Goal Analysis Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) revealed a team who clinched a playoff spot by the end of Game 20 on 19 NOVEMBER, 2007 as they finished +2.5 against the curve for this time frame. Let’s now examine what the PQC reveals about the MONTREAL CANDIENS’ play for the first 10 games of the 2008/9 NHL season and beyond.

(cont)…The MONTREAL CANADIENS now have a goalie they can grow with. With the memory of Patrick Roy still so fresh in their minds (a modern mile-post, if you will) the fans look to young Carey Price to expand on his performance from last year. Price, only 20 at the time, posted a 24-12-3 record (.920 save percentage) and had three shutouts. Confidence in his ability is so high in fact the team was comfortable enough to trade Cristobal Huet to Washington and then secured Marc Denis for backup purposes during the off season.

The HABS offense will try to recreate the effectiveness of last year’s performance having spread the scoring throughout the lineup and not losing more than three consecutive games at any point in the regular season. Our analysis of MONTREAL’s play against the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) had them finishing the season a whopping +5.5. A closer look shows they actually qualified for post-season play by 19 NOVEMBER and their three-year average has them at a +3.5 above the PQC by Game 20. The trend, however, is for the team to then spiral south of the curve until they are averaging one point below it and then a rebound up above the curve again as they make the final playoff push.

The CANADIENS’ first 10 games of the season are played 10 OCTOBER – 1 NOVEMBER. Our exhaustive research indicates, in this time frame, the CANADIENS earn a PQC rating of 7.0 and about 13 points in the NHL standings.

Some statistics of note to manage your expectations in to late October are:
  • MONTREAL has won thirteen of eighteen games (72.22%) in the three years since the lockout during the period between 20 OCTOBER and 2 NOVEMBER.
  • In this same time frame, the CANADIENS have averaged a PQC rating of 7.0 putting them an entire two points above the curve by the conclusion of Game 10.
  • Since the lockout, the HABS have won 18 of 30 (60%) of their first 10 game segments. They are at an even 50% winning average on home ice during this period, but they have lost every home opener.
OGA will be measuring the CANADIENS against their PQC Rating of 7.0 (as well as with all other NHL teams) in order to provide you more in-depth analysis with the CANADIENSGame 10 Report. The G10R will be delivered to our subscription customers by 2PM Central on 2 NOVEMBER and available for purchase online by 2PM Central, 3 NOVEMBER. See the OGA store for more details HERE. You can also view a sample for our G10R HERE. (Make sure to view all 3 tabs!)

As the HABS continue their push to return to the greatness that has seen the team lift Lord Stanley’s Cup almost ¼ of the times it has been won since the inception of our modern hockey game, this centennial season for the CANADIENS could very well be another surprising year for their opponents. But nobody in MONTREAL will tell you they didn’t see it coming. In fact, they will probably tell you they saw it coming a mile away on that new jumbotron in the barn…while sitting on their couches at home.

Stay tuned to the OGA Blog and check out the MONTREAL CANADIENS G10R for a thorough review of the HABS’ performance as measured against the PQC.

The Frozen Pill goes down easy tomorrow with a Sunday Drive to The Isle and the NEW YORK ISLANDERSSPR.


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