Only three more days before we can all crack a beer, tune in RDS (or, if we're really lucky, take our seat in the Bell Centre) and watch some honest-to-God meaningful hockey again. This off-season has felt like it's lasted about a year, probably because when there's really something to look forward to, like Christmas or a trip abroad, the time drags interminably. And, for the first time in a very long time, we truly have a hockey team that makes us impatient for the season to start.
There's so much to look forward to this year, I'm sure everyone has their personal expectations. I like the little things...the things that tell us these are the Habs and no one else; the team for which we've been waiting all summer. So, as the Centennial season opens, I'll be watching for:
-The first time Alex Kovalev gets cut across the beak. It seems like whenever he plays a particularly good game, he comes out of it with a big cut right across the bridge of the honker. Bonus if he gets his first hat trick in a Habs uniform and does the moonwalk on Bell Centre ice. The place would go crazy.
-The first time Saku Koivu takes a candyass hooking penalty, followed by Carbo rolling his eyes, ostensibly at the ref. It's just not a Habs game without a Koivu hooking penalty. Especially if it comes in the offensive zone when the team is on a powerplay. We love Koivu, but his penchant for those is maddening. I'm hoping he'll have it under control this year, but I'm not really expecting it to happen.
-The first powerplay goal. Will it be a blast from the point by Markov? Or a tic-tac-toe from Kovy-to-Pleks-to-Akost? Maybe Koivu behind the net to Sergei sneaking in from the point? All the possibilities are there, and all of them are beautiful.
-The first big 5-on-3 successful PK that turns a game around. I don't think there's much as exciting as watching a beleaguered goalie shut down the other team's PP and crush their spirit at the same time.
-The first time Andrei Kostitsyn skates through the whole opposing team and makes their D look silly.
-The first time the team is down by two late in a game and we see the line of Koivu-Lang-Laraque on the ice because Carbo has already tried every other possible combination.
-The first game against Jersey to see if they've really solved Brodeur or not, and the first game against the Bruins to see if they've really solved the Habs or not.
-The first time Komisarek crushes someone and creates that little gap in the space-time continuum in which everyone in the building can only stare open-mouthed at the destruction he leaves in his wake.
-The first Habs blowout. I love a good blowout. It's fun to get tense over a close game sometimes, but there's nothing like sitting back and enjoying the deluge of goals the Habs can produce when everything's going well.
-The first ceremony. This is going to be a season of moments, and no one does them like the Canadiens.
And, oh, so much more. I just can't wait for the season to start. Here's hoping it's a healthy one and the boys do what they need to do to be ready for the second week of April. Until then, it's going to be a helluva ride.