Ok, back to the breakdown of the (predicted) Habs' roster for this upcoming campaign. We've covered netminders and backup dmen. Now on to the third pairing. This one was a little difficult, given how well O'Byrne played in Hamilton this year, and the strong showing he's giving in pre-season. The Habs definitely need another hard hitting dman, to go along with new alternate captain Mike Komisarek.
O'Byrne is also a righty, and that would help balance out the Habs' defensive corps. Of the candidates with a realistic shot at making the club, only Dandenault, Komisarek and Brisebois are right handed. Brisebois will make the club but won't be playing regularly.
So that leaves a spot open, right?
I don't think so. Like I said before, I think the Habs are going with a veteran lineup, esp along the blueline. They signed two veterans in Hamrlik and Brisebois, and another two (Streit and Dandenault) have the flexibility to play a forward slot as well. Given the Habs' injury and illness woes last season, that is much needed flexibility.
So I'm sticking with Dandenault and Bouillon as the third pairing. Both had their struggles last year, but so did the entire team. And with the depth on defense this year, they should only need to play against third and fourth liners.
Dandenault and Bouillon have to know the heat is on, what with younger and perhaps hungrier players waiting for their shot (Gorges and O'Byrne especially). So this is their last shot.
Not exactly a rousing endorsement. And I admit that I've got a bit of a soft spot for the two, esp Bouillon. He leaves it all on the ice, night in and night out. And Dandenault does what is asked of him, even playing O. If Kovalev had this kind of heart, the Habs wouldn't have been watching the playoffs from home last year.