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Many questions surround this new Habs team and
one of the more commonly asked is, “Is this team really that much better then
what we had?” This week, I’ll attempt to compare the forward lines of the
2009-2010 Habs with those of the 2008-2009 season. Note that the lines from last
year are from earlier on in the season when the team was playing well and due to
the constant changing of the lines last year it’s the best way I could arrange

2008/2009 First line: Andrei Kostitsyn – Tomas Plekanec – Alex Kovalev

The players that made up this line last year were able to put up 145 points in
232 games while playing most of the early season together. However, due to
inconsistency, Carbonneau switched this line many times last year to try and
find something that would work.

2009/2010 First line: Andrei Kostitsyn – Scott Gomez – Brian Gionta
This line should be able to put up a lot of points and is made up of 3 players
who tend to remain healthy for most of the season.

Keys to Success: Chemistry, chemistry, chemistry. If Gionta and Gomez are
able to connect like they did with the Devils then there is reason to be
optimistic about this line. Throw in Kostitsyn who should really benefit from
playing with two guys who really give it their all and a great playmaking centre
and is it a stretch to think that he could potentially pot 40 goals?

Possible Problems: Should Gionta and Gomez not reconnect and fail to
produce together this could prove detrimental. Montreal really needs a great
season from these two or else it could wreak havoc on the teams’ offensive

2008/2009 Second line: Alex Tanguay – Saku Koivu – Chris Higgins
While this line wasn’t together long they did manage to score 124 points in what
was an injury filled campaign for the three. Together they only played 172 games
last season.

2009/2010 Second line: Mike Cammalleri – Tomas Plekanec – Matt D’Agostini
Has the makings of a somewhat small but solid secondary scoring unit.

Keys to Success: This line, like the first, is a bit on the small side.
But as we all know, speed kills. If the three are able to gel quickly and
Plekanec is able to feed Cammalleri’s one kneed one-timers then they should be

Possible Problems: If Plekanec isn’t able to regain his form of two
seasons ago it won’t be pretty for the Habs offence. I have faith that he will
turn things around but it’s not like there are a surplus of offensive centres
ready to take his spot if he doesn’t.

2008/2009 Third line: Guillaume Latendresse – Maxim Lapierre – Tom
Proved to be a very effective two-way line last year. They were consistently
wreaking havoc on the top lines of other teams and they could put the puck in
the net when counted on as well.

2009/2010 Third line: Guillaume Latendresse – Maxim Lapierre – Travis
Looks a lot like the third line that finished last season except Moen replaces
Kostopoulos, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Keys to Success: Latendresse and Lapierre need to continue to develop
their offensive games. And Guillaume needs a healthy season for a change. Adding
Moen only adds to the grit and in-your-face style of the line; it’s a guarantee
that other teams will not be looking forward to going against them this year.

Possible Problems: None really. Aside from Latendresse suffering another
injury I can’t see where this line won’t go out and do their job night in and
night out.

2008/2009 Fourth line: Mathieu Dandenault – Robert Lang – Matt D’Agostini
While this isn’t really a fourth line that played a lot last season they do
round out the players who contributed throughout most of last season. Of the
players who departed this summer I think Lang will be most missed, as he could
be a decent option to centre the second line if needed.

2009/2010 Fourth line: Kyle Chipchura – Glen Metropolit – Georges Laraque
A great fourth line on paper, but will these guys fill the roll that is asked of
them for a full season? I’d say yes.

Keys to Success: Laraque’s back needs to be good to go this year. Moen
helps to take some of the pressure off of him for dropping the gloves but having
both in the lineup each night will really make other teams players question
whether or not to mess with the Habs. Also, Chipchura really needs to have a
breakout year and show that he is a true NHL calibre player.

Possible Problems: As I mentioned before, Laraque’s back is a huge
question mark. Should he go down for any period of time look for Greg Stewart to
take his spot in the line up.

There is what I make of this year’s forwards. All in all I think that the team
is well improved up front and will benefit from the full blown changing of the
guard. Provided that they all remain healthy and play up to their potential,
it’s not a stretch to think that they will make a push for the division title
and possibly home ice advantage in the playoffs. Check back next week when I
take a look at how this year’s defense stacks up with that of last year.

Note: The projected lines used are borrowed from the article below.