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Preseason Projections

Some random thoughts on tonights Habs - Leafs tilt.

Habs are now 0-4 in preseason. I am worried yet. No. If they play like this in December? Yup!
Both teams were missing their most important element tonight. Mats Sundin and Andrei Markov. I'm not kidding.

Toronto has a heck of a line with Steen-Suglobov-Stajan. They were all over, all night. Suglobov especially excelled in both ends and has the quickness to play in todays game.

The Habs best rookie was again Guillaume Latendresse. Though he registered no points, he was omnipresent on the Habs first two goals, making a big hit to set up the first, and screening Raycroft on the second. He set himself up well for some good scoring chances and could have notched a couple if not for Raycroft.

Sheldon Souray and Craig Rivet were jittery playing next to green rookies who do not belong and have no chance of making the team.

Koivu started the game strong but tired in the third. Ryder was on his usual firing game and Chris Higgins looks in mid season form already. Expect more than you'd think from this guy this year.

Hal Gill is your new Aki Berg. Rookies were giving him fits. He took one bad call and argued it, which only made him lookworse in my eyes.

Chad Kilger was solid, smart and hitting all he could. I miss this Cornwallite on the Habs. A more well rounded player than most imagine he is.

Kovalev and Samsonov found no synchronism with Corey Locke as their center.

Raycroft was just good. He stopped the initial shots he could see, but still scrambles way too much in traffic. He seems to lose the puck quite easily. The jury is still out.

During a stretch in the second period, the Habs were all over the Leafs. The Buds were called for five straight penalties and Montreal moved ahead 2-1.

Andy Woznuts, whatever his name is...had good moments and brutal moments.

Christobal Huet is not yet himself as weird goals kept him from his steady, calm self. Stajan's goal was a case in point. The play seemed dead when Stajan was falling to the ice. Everyone gave on him and batted the puck in with the heel of his stick.

The Leafs third goal was a double babmington racket deflection that no goalie could stop without the luck of it hitting him.

The Habs best defenseman on the night was Mark Streit, with a goal and two assists.

Habs coach Guy Carbonneau sat out C Mike Ribeiro as he was not happy with his effort in previous game or in practice. Not the way to start the year.

My assessment overall is this for both teams simply based on tonight's game. Toronto is very fast on the forecheck - even with this lineup. The D minus Kubina, Kaberle and McCabe was slow. I beleive they may be better than most people think. Montreal have an abundance of speed up front. When on their game, they draw penalties and throw other teams out of synch. If they fail to do this they will be flat. Once the D pairing are stabilized, they will be much better all around. The Canadiens time for experiments however, is now over and it is time to get serious.