Continuing in my preview of the Montreal Canadiens leading up to Game One of the Flyers Eastern Conference Final against the Habs, I now turn my attention to the Canadiens defense. The group is beat up, that’s for sure, but they are not to be taken lightly. If anything, they’ve shown they certainly can hang with the best after knocking out Alexander Ovechkin and his high-octane Capitals in the first round, and then Sidney Crosby and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. Let’s meet the Montreal’s blue-liners.
Josh Gorges – Jaroslav Spacek
Roman Hamrlik – Hal Gill
P.K. Subban – Marc-Andre Bergeron
***The Canadiens’ top defenseman, Andrei Markov, is out with an injury and according to Montreal is currently listed as “out indefinitely” though he could return this series at some point or another.
Two defensemen to watch on the Canadiens:
1. Jaroslav Spacek. Spacek has been battling injuries at times in these playoffs, but he returned in the nick of time last round to help the Canadiens cap off an incredible upset of Pittsburgh. He certainly is known as the Canadiens’ shut-down defenseman, and could make a difference in this series. Although he scored a goal in Game Six of the Canadiens’ Conference Semifinal series, don’t expect Spacek to be making any kind of large contributions on the score sheet throughout the course of this series. He will be out there against the likes of Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, Simon Gagne, and Danny Briere, to name a few, and his primary job will be to shut each and every one of those guys down. If the Pittsburgh series was any indication, he certainly has the ability to be quite a defensive force.
2. P.K. Subban. There have been few younger players – let alone rookies – that have surprised me more with their poise and strong play than Subban. Rushed into the Habs’ first round series against the Washington Capitals, Subban has been an absolute blessing for Montreal and their fans. He’s an offensive-minded defenseman who has the ability to play shut-down defenseman at the same time. He’s greatly improved the Montreal power play and give them another quick and youthful body out on the ice for the speed of the playoffs. I can’t say enough how much I’ve been impressed by Subban and I’m actually anxious to see just what he can bring to the table in this series against the Flyers. Will the pressure get to him? I wouldn’t bet on it.
Scoring Leaders for the Canadiens Defense in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
GOALS: Jaroslav Spacek, P.K. Subban, & Marc-Andre Bergeron (1)
ASSISTS: Roman Hamrlik (6)
POINTS: Hamrlik (6)
PLUS/MINUS: Subban (+3)
PENALTY MINUTES: Hal Gill (18)