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BLITZ 07 TEAM REVIEW - MONTREAL - A LEAGUE

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Done! This is the final team review, completing all 24 Blitz 07 teams. As I said, i'm going back to my Washington review to give it a more thorough going over now i've got used to doing these, but there is now a review of everyone's teams. I'm guessing a few might use these as some sort of scouting tool during the season. If you find them useful or not please feel free to come back an comment as we go through the tournament. Thanks for reading!

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MONTREAL CANADIENS - BLITZ 07 A LEAGUE

COACH: FREYDEY

TEAM LINK: http://www.blitz94.com/draftab/rosterinfo.asp?team=MTL

TEAM OVERVIEW

OK. I know i'm going to get totally abused for this review before I even start writing it............so here goes:

The Blitz 06 A league champs are back to defend their title, and it's a team that will have to cope with the loss of the Blitz record point scorer if it's going to repeat it's success. Steve Yzerman has gone, taking his 96 goals and 128 Blitz 06 points with him. With or without an elite coach, can they cope with that loss?

Powered by Yzerman's goals they finished 4th overall in the 06 A league season and then survived 5,7 & 6 game playoff battles to claim the crown, including overcoming #1 seed Chicago in an epic semi-final.

The make-up of the team in truth looks a little unbalanced between defence and attack. On D this is arguably the best starting partnership in the game. On offence it looks pretty average. If a rookie was heading up this roster i'd probably fear for their ability to score goals, but of course we're talking about the championship coach here, so it could be a different story. We can expect a comfortable playoff qualification, but will it be top 4 again to get 1st round home ice advantage?

TEAM MAKE-UP

We start on offence then. Yzerman is THE dominant force in Blitz history, with a 3.337 PPG average. Way above anyone else, and he's the only player with over 600 goals in his Blitz career (Expect at least Mogilny & Lemieux to join him this season). Huge skates to fill............so who they got? Stephane Richer...........that's right. No. Seriously. Don't skoot back to check that name again. It is correct. Richer is the biggest name out of the new offensive additions brought in to replace Yzerman..........Man Freydey had better be good! Richer is actually a nice player, but he just ain't Yzerman, and he can't be described as elite. He boasts 4/4 speed, a big 5/3 shot and average 3 passing, and it's helped him to just under a 2.000 PPG average in his Blitz career. That huge shot is his main weapon, but his best ever goal scoring seasons were 50 (95 points) in both Blitz 04 & 05.......He'll have to step it up this season if he's to be anything like a genuine Yzerman replacement.

Montreal actually have good strength in depth on the forward line, so Richer's not going to be expected to do it all alone. Retained for this season are Stephane Lebeau & Kevin Dineen, and they're joined by Christian Ruutu, Tony Amonte & slugger Patrick Poulin. Solidly skilled, even if it is lacking a star name.

Dineen was actually Montreal's 2nd top scorer last season, with a mightily impressive 98 points in his first season as a regular, but only 42 of those were goals. He certainly proved a good foil for Yzerman with his blistering 4/5 skating, but his 2/3 shot and 3 passing is only average, and he's not going to be the go-to guy here. Stephane Lebeau then? He was Montreal's 4th choice forward last season, which is why he only averaged 1.000 point per game probably, but in the absence of Yzerman, and as the Canadiens' highest rated forward surely he's going to step into a pivotal role in Blitz 07? He has 4/4 skating, a nice 3/5 shot and 3 passing. As the most accurate on the team is he the most likely to take Yzerman's center spot?

Christian Ruutu is a popular player amongst the coaches, because he combines good skills with big hitting, providing good 2-way play in an enforcer role, and this makes him a candidate to start games. Thanks to a 116 point season with Angry Jay's NYI in Blitz 05 his PPG career average is artificially boosted to just over 1.400, but it shows he has the ability, and Freydey will want to see that type of form this season. Ruutu boasts 4/4 skating and 4 passing in addition to 4 checking and 4 def aware, although his 3/2 shot prevents him being a genuine all-round player.

OK, on to Tony Amonte. What can he offer here? With 4/4 skating, 3/3 shot and 3 passing he's a solid option off the bench. 2nd lightest on the forward line after Lebeau, he may be able to wriggle through a tight defence to make the difference every now and then. He's never played a big part in any team before and there's no reason to think anything will be too different this season.

Finishing off the forward line, Patrick Poulin is a nice solid enforcer to bring on in a rough game, or to help see out a close result. With his 10 weight add 3/3 skating, 3/3 shot and 3 passing he's a nice defensive option who wont let you down with the puck.

In their separate parts the forwards all have the abilities of Yzerman - Dineen has his speed, Richer has his shot power, Lebeau has his accuracy and Ruutu has his passing........can Freydey mould all these qualities together to form one effective group for the Canadiens this season?

So we come to the D, and you have to say the starting 2 look absolutely awesome: Paul Coffey & Rob Blake. If you have to lose a great 2-way defenseman like Dave Ellet from you roster, there aren't too many better to bring in than Coffey. Elite offensive skills, with average defensive skills, saved by his 9 weight. Coffey's main weapon is that incredible 6/5 skating, making him one of the most dangerous Dmen in the game when on the counter attack. His 4/1 shot is not as good as Ellett, but with his speed he gets 1v1 with the goalie more than almost any other defenders in the game, bringing him 105 goals in his Blitz career. His 5 passing has also brought him another 185 points in assists too. Fast, tough to knock down, great control with his 6 stick handling........One of the best offensive Dmen in the game for sure.

Rob Blake stays on the Canadiens roster from last season, and is a beastly checker who can also play his part on offence too. With 4/4 skating 4/1 shooting and 4 passing combined with his 11 weight he averages over a point a game in his Blitz career. He looks perfect to provide cover for Coffey's marauding runs and they should form an imposing partnership.

Backing up these 2 super stars are Vladimir Konstantov & Bob Beers. Konstantov stays on the roster from 06 and despite his 7 weight hits hard enough to make him useful. He's averagely skilled all round but is a nice choice to bring in on penalties and injuries. Beers is also solidly skilled, although his 2 passing lets him down, and he doesn't hit too hard despite his 9 weight. The 4th option definitely.

In goal it looks poor with Dominik Hasek backed up by Pat Jablonski. Hasek has nice awareness and agility, but average skills, but he's now starting his 4th season as Freydey's starting goalie, and has repaid him with a 0.683 save % and the Blitz 06 championship, so who's really going to flag him up as a potential weakness? He needs to be used by a manual expert to be truly effective, but that's what he's got, so what's the problem I guess?

STARS

On offence this team really doesn't have a star. They need to be combined to get the collective best of all their seperate strengths. On D there's that beautiful looking Coffey/Blake partnership though. These two are going to keep it tight, but will also contribute a mountain of goals and assists to the team, which may just help the offence make up for Yzerman's absence.

WEAKNESSES

It has to be said, who's going to get the 70-100 goals this team is looking for to make a high league finish possible? Talk about the individual strengths of each forward, but the guy who's going to win the game on his own just isn't here. If opponents can force each different player to play to his weaknesses rather than his strengths it may be the best chance of controlling this team, because there's no all-rounder who's going to punish you whatever you do.

PRE-SEASON PREDICTION - PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION

As I said, for a novice this team just probably wouldn't have enough goals in it, but in the hands of an elite coach they're still going to be competitive. The biggest question is "How competitive?". Can they be dangerous enough to test the A league's best defensive play?

The D is going to help out big time, and you can expect much of the play to come through the elite skills of Coffey & Blake, but, like Hokkee's Vancouver this team's season depends on their ability to utilise the individual strengths of each of the forwards.

It's a coach that you simply can't bet against, but can they finish top 4 again? Unsure, but of course, once we get to the playoffs it becomes a whole different game. Who's brave enough to bet against Montreal?

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Nice write ups, OK LET'S START THAT LEAGUE :)

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