Monday, October 25, 2010

Andrei Kaboom-stitsyn

Andrei Kostitsyn has shot out of the starting gate like a bat out of hell, hes looking stronger than ever, more aware, and thank the lord he figured out "hmmm...if me" While most Habs fans -including myself- have been infuriated by Andrei Kostitsyn's play season after season, it may be safe to say Andrei Kostitsyn has finally found his groove. We can all agree that he has game-breaking ability, and that when he was drafted he was said to have the potential to be an 80 point 40 goal scorer. While it is premature to say he will net anything close to those numbers, we can say with certainty AK46 has 6 points in 7 games in the 2010-2011 NHL season.

Where is this coming from? What happened that could have sparked this great start to a season? While none of us could possibly be in Andrei Kostitsyn's head -nor could we understand what the hell he would be saying- we can take a few educated guesses as to what might have helped Andrei raise his game to the level we've seen so far.

First off, I think we can safely say with a big sigh of relief, that with the departure of Andrei's brother Sergei Kostitsyn ,a shadowy veil of negativity that had been surrounding the team ever since Sergei was called up from Hamilton, has been lifted. Whether Andrei spoke to his brother, and was consulting him through these dark times, is unknown, however it wouldn't be far fetched to say that this had caused some sort of a distraction. With Sergei gone, and a clean slate on a new season, Andrei can focus on what he does best, trying to speak some form of english -lets call it Russlish-, making nice dekes, passes, and finally shooting that puck like nobody's business.

Secondly, Andrei arrived to camp looking more buff than ever. He is currently playing some of the best hockey of his career, and it is not a stretch to say that his fitness level, and his current play go hand in hand.

Thirdly, Andrei's confidence level is at an all time high, and when you have a skilled russian with speed, and confidence to burn you better get out of the way. Players with Andrei's skill, speed, hockey IQ, and potential, are rare, and if they pan out and discover their confidence, their groove if you will, they are extremely dangerous to play against, and just when you think your goalie made a huge save, you realize the rebound that he gave up landed back into your own net, as Kostitsyn grins towards his teammates for a good ol Butt slap and a high five.

And Lastly, Kostitsyn is playing with Tomas Plekanec 2010 edition. Pleks has been showing us why he signed that 5 million dollar contract, and why he is our 1a center. When your number one center is playing with confidence you would think it would eventually rub off on his line mates, and we could hazard a guess to say that's whats happening with AK. He's playing with a line mate that has elevated his game to a whole new level, and Andrei has discovered that he is also capable of so much more. With Pleks becoming a silent leader by example, Andrei has stepped it up and is playing great hockey.

It could be argued that yes AK is in his final contract year, and wants to play hard for a contract, but there have been many players that have had god awful contract years, and had proven absolutely nothing, at least AK is starting to prove why he should stay.

While we can't predict how the season will pan out, or who will get injured, we can only hope that Andrei continues this pace as he is slowly solidifying his position as a top six forward, and while AK might have dry spells as he searches for consistency, at least we know for certain that Andrei Kostitsyn is capable of playing First Line minutes, of scoring 70 points if he were to be consistent, and is capable of being a game-breaking forward that Montreal has desperately been searching for.

Until next time!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Painfully Passive Power Play

Having only played six games, the Habs are already feeling the stress of a non-functioning Power Play. The past problems of a struggling Power Play continue to linger, and the stress continues to follow as the Habs come up Empty time after time. Hopefully with a little patience, and enough luck to power a small city, the return of Andrei Markov could ignite the Power Play, and hopefully shoot the Habs into contention.  Ironically enough, there was a time where the Habs were not gasping for air on the Power Play, where they were such offensive juggernauts to be reckoned with, that Star Players would take double Penalty Kill shifts just to try and shut them down.

For all the fans who remember the year Alex Kovalev scored 84 points with the Habs, do you also remember just how dangerous and effective the Power Play was? Top in the league for a long while. The shots from the wings, the point and Markov cycling the puck on the back end was enough to sky rocket the Habs' Power Play to first in the NHL.  What do we need to get back to that position? Well For one we need Andrei Markov back on our Power Play, his value is extremely under estimated by many, and is arguably one of the best Power Play Quarter backs in the league, as well as a top defender. Markov's influence on the Power Play brings some confidence, patience, smart plays, and I believe to an extent fear. I believe that Markov is an intimidating force on the Power Play, and that he brings that X-Factor every team craves. We also need that ridiculous point shot to compliment our quarterback, we need an identity on the power play.

How can we create this identity you may ask? Well like all fans, when I see the Habs Power Play, and I see that it is clear everyone is trying to Tee up Cammalleri, I shout "NO, HE DOESN'T HAVE A CLEAR SHOT!" well low and behold he doesn't.The reason why is because our Power Play has become predictable, and its the unpredictable plays that are the most dangerous on a Power Play. A perfect example is when Gorges scored that beauty from the point, no one expected him to let one rip, and he got a lucky bounce, but never the less it was unpredictable and it lead to a goal. That's what the Habs need to get back into. They need weapons at three positions.

The Habs need a Quarter Back, a position that will hopefully be filled properly once Markov is back, and as PK Subban progresses he will learn how to play the Quarter Back, as well as the Point shot. They also need a heavy shot from the point to compliment the QB, and I honestly believe Andrei Kostitsyn would be much more useful at the point next to Subban rather than in front of the net, because lets face it Jacques Martin, Andrei Kostitsyn is no Tomas Holmstrom, never has and never will be, his wrist shot is the equivalent to a slap shot according to his teammates, and it is an asset we could take advantage of.  A power play with Subban- AK46 on the back end is simply mouth watering, and we could have Eller or Pouliot slot in front of the net, because both are quick, and have very soft hands, so if a rebound does come their way they have a good chance to cash it in.  Just for good measure, the final key to a successful powerplay is a sniper on either side of the powerplay waiting at the faceoff circle, just dying to launch a massive cannon towards the net. I know it seems like the Habs try this formula, but in all fairness  PK Subban is currently trying to be the QB and the Point Shot, which is not very effective.  We also lack that heavy shot at the point, Spacek just doesn't seem to have the juice anymore, its almost as if his Slap Shot is only half as good as it used to be, and whether the Habs trade for a point shot, slot Yannick Weber in there, or try the AK46 method, it will prove to be a much more effective way of generating offense, instead of using a war-torn Spacek for a point shot. The Habs have the perfect sniper on the wing to generate the cannon from the wing, however I believe all three keys need to be aligned before we start potting goals in bunches.

While the Habs continue to struggle on the Power Play we can only hope Andrei Kostitsyn gets his shot as Point man, and I think Jacques Martin should familiarize himself with one of the greatest songs ever to be recorded. To quote the very great band ABBA "Take A Chance On Me", Yes JM, take a chance, take a chance, take a chance......

What are your thoughts on the Power Play? Any different strategies you can come up with?

Until next time!

by JHabs