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Canadiens Watch: Time for optimism or pessimism?

Cheering for a .500 team can teach you a lot about yourself, namely whether you’re a “the glass is half full,” or “half empty” kind of person.

The Montreal Canadiens play their first game of November Tuesday night after finishing October with an even 7-7-0 mark. Optimistic supporters of the squad will say that’s a pretty good showing considering the Habs lost their best player, Andrei Markov, late in their first game of the year.

Those same people are likely buoyed by the play of Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri, who are tied for the team lead with 13 points apiece. Plekanec is showing signs of a strong bounce-back year after struggling through last season, while Cammalleri is adjusting well to his new surroundings after a slow start to the campaign.

Jaroslav Halak’s play may be boosting some spirits, as the goalie steadied the ship when his team was on a five-game losing streak and now has a 5-2-0 record on the year.

But, as mentioned, not everybody will take a rosy view of the Canadiens’ showing thus far. Start with Halak, who has certainly provided a winning presence in the crease, yet still has a save percentage below .900. So does Carey Price. That may speak to the fact Montreal is allowing too many quality chances on its goaltenders, but neither stopper can be completely happy with how things have gone so far.

Also as mentioned, the defense is depleted, but it’s never encouraging to see a team cough up a late lead the way Montreal did versus the Toronto Maple Leafs last Saturday. Also somewhat alarming is the fact the Canadiens have just one win in regulation time this season – and that came against the hapless New York Islanders. In fact, two of the Habs’ victories came against the Isles; and two more came against the Leafs, a team that posted just one win the entire month.

Good teams also have success on the road, a place where Montreal squeaked out its first two wins of the year before dropping its next five games away from home.

If the Canadiens don’t improve in a number of areas over the course of the season’s second month, soon there won’t be any debate over the state of the team. 

This article also apears in the Montreal Metro newspaper.

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