Habs evaluate their first half of the season.
The Montreal Canadiens' general manager Bob Gainey was available for a press yesterday to discuss about the performance of his team during the first half of the 2007-2008 season.
Gainey noticed more balance inside his team compared to last season at first. Then Gainey mentioned the faceoffs, the most problematic area where his team needs to improove to qualify in the playoffs this season. The team managed to cope with such a weakness this far but cannot continue to win only around 30% of the faceoffs and hope to go very far. Gainey wishes to find a solution from the inside but did not reject the option of making a trade to improove this area. He directed the warning to centres like Maxim Lapierre, Bryan Smolinski and Kyle Chipchura.
Then Bob Gainey briefly talked about the better discipline of his players. ''We are now spending less time playing four on five this season and it only can benefit the team on the long run.''
Then came his impression about the work of his head coach Guy Carbonneau. ''I see that Guy is a lot more comfortable behind the bench, he is making better decisions and the players are responding well to his leadership this season.''
I have to mention another few good things that Carbonneau did well this year thus far. First, he really did a great job of splitting the starts between both of his goaltenders Christobal Huet and Carey Price. Then he was also able to adjust in the face of adversity. When Carbonneau saw major problems with his team, he never hesitated to bring in the youth from Hamilton and juggled with his offensive lines very effectively.
The very ordinary team record at the Bell centre this season was also a topic in this press conference but Gainey said that he preferred that his team struggle at home instead of struggling on the road. ''This problem is easier to solve at home than on the road.''
And how can I not mention the fact that this season, the team really decided to give a chance to the youth players inside the organization. First, goaltender Carey Price was kept with the team and given his first NHL experience. Then defensemen Ryan O'Byrne immediatly filled a regular spot as soon as he was brought with the team. Kyle Chipchura, Maxim Lapierre and Sergei Kostitsyn also filled spots the lineup and never lost their spot since. Many of those young players will continue to improove into the second half of the season.
The team will attack this second half of the season tonight at the Bell centre as they will host the Chicago Blackhawks. The objective of the team is clear: qualify to the playoffs.
(Picture: Bob Gainey, Canadian Press.)