Friday, September 21, 2007

Blueliners: the second pairing

I better pick up the pace here, seeing as the new season is just around the corner. No more long and rambling introductions; lets get straight to brass tacks (whatever that means): Guy and Bob will go with Hamrlik and Streit for their second pairing. Both are left handed, but the word is that Hamrlik is almost as good on his backhand as on his forehand. So he could play either side. That ought to give Bob and Carbo some options.

We all know Hamrlik is going to make the team and play on the second pairing. No surprise there. He's good, and is probably deserving of his fat contract, but still won't break up the excellent first tandem we have in Markov-Komisarek.

Streit, on the other hand, has been quite a revelation in his short tenure with the Habs. When he broke in a couple of years ago, he looked really nervous and lacked confidence. Then he went to the Olympics. I think he even captained the team. The same team that started off really hot, losing only to Finland in the preliminary round.

He came back seemingly reinvigorated and full of confidence. I remember one game where an opposing forward had an unimpeded breakaway. But Streit caught up, lunged and dove on the ice, deftly swatting the puck off the other guy's stick without touching him. It was brilliant.

I thought he had a chance last year too, but with the experience of Rivet, Souray, Komisarek, Markov, Bouillon and Dandenault all ahead of him, it was a tough lineup to crack. But he stuck with it, eventually playing left wing of all things, even on Saku's line. And he didn't fare too badly, ultimately netting 10 goals and 26 assists.

So this year ought to be his year. He's paid his dues. And Hamrlik is the best partner for him. He's big and he hits -- from what I've heard anyway. Streit can skate and pass as well as anyone, but his size has always been a limitation. Hamrlik, even though left handed, is apparently almost as good on his forehand as his back hand. Streit could then play the left side, with Hamrlik on the right.

Streit's offensive skills set him up to be an ideal PP QB. I wouldn't be surprised if he pairs with Markov on the first unit, as Komisarek might not be quite ready to be setting up Markov's slapshot with some nifty passes. I love big Mike, but O is not his forte.

Another reason to root for Mark Streit? Apparently he took less money to play with the Habs than he would have made had he remained in Europe. He wants to play with and compete against the best. This isn't about money for him.

Now isn't that refreshing?

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