First off, if you want the most in-depth preview you'll ever see, check out the awesome Habs preview Panger wrote for our formatting-challenged friends at The Pens Blog. Start squinting now.
OK let's summarize what we've learned so far from the Neverending Stripperriffic Story, using the FHF-patented # of lap dances rating as our guide.
GOALTENDING - Like that Martian chick in Total Recall, we'll give the three-breasted monster than threatens to be Montreal's goaltending this year an 8 out of 10.
DEFENCE - 5 out of 10 – 6 if Brisebois gets mowed down outside the Bell Centre before Oct. 3.
CENTERS - No true #1 = 7.5
WINGERS - Let's say 7 – but this is probably the biggest guess of all our "rating": it can go to a 9 if Kovalev is a player again, Ryder is consistent, and Higgins and Kostitsyn continue to improve. If not, and Garth Murray is playing on the top line, a 2.
We never covered the boys upstairs in the offices – let's take a look at management.
The tits - Gainey's has years of experience and is impervious to pressure. Carbonneau's not a rookie anymore and had to have learned something from last year – right?
The cellulite - Gainey has no visible emotions and maybe is too conservative as a result. Carbo's coaching resume isn't exactly remarkable. Most significantly, w e acquired WHO in the UFA sweepstakes? At least there is little likelihood of a Samsonov repeat this year.
In the VIP Room - Trevor Timmins is the most underrated person in the organization, turning around 20 Wickenheiser-esque years of drafting, and the team is just starting to see the fruits of his labours. If Timmins leaves, they might as well just pass on all their draft picks next year.
Chez Parée bound? - They'll have to take the Métro until they prove they can make some better decisions (why Breezer? Why???). No one's getting fired, but no one is carving out a Hall-of-Fame career ion the builders category either.
Number of lap dances (out of 10) Again a solid 7. Despite the FHF motto – Trust in Gainey - his re-signing of Breezer seriously undermines his credibility. Carbo's not great, but at least he's not Mario Tremblay. We'll se if he learned anything from last year.
And now (drum roll please...)
THE FINAL 4 AM SMOKED MEAT SANDWICH FROM THE FHF – PREDICTIONS SPECIAL:
HF10 – IF everyone plays to their potential, and IF some of the other teams in the East a) have their team plane go down or b) trade for the ebola virus or c) get managed by John Ferguson Jr ... oh, wait ... or d) remain "The Florida Panthers", the Habs may have a shot at a low seed in the playoffs. Miracles along the lines of St. Patrick's 1993 post-season could result in a top-four spot. Not gonna happen. Just beat the goddamn Leafs out, okay? I have to live in Toronto.
I say 82 wins, zero losses, 575 goals for, 19 goals against, 9 players with 100 or more points lead by Art Ross winner Higgins with a new Habs points record after a 53 goal, 86 assist, 149 point campaign, Koivu's 40 goals and 72 assists, a Richard Trophy for new Habs record holder Kostitsyn and his 68 goals, and a stunning 32 goal, 101 assist "f-you, world" season from Kovalev. Komisarek hits someone so hard that the guy's ancestors are born bruised, Huet AND Price break the shutout record, and thirteen owners actually disband their franchises in embarrassment. Mass suicides in Boston and Toronto after the Habs outscore the two East basement dwellers 157-1 combined. 16 straight wins in the playoffs lead by Ryder's 29 goals and Conn Smythe winner Markov's 12 goals, 31 assists and + 72.
HF29 – I don't know about a 4 am smoked meat sandwich. I don't trust this to be the best way to come to the aid of ailing entrails incurred by the many defeats Habs fans will be ill at ease digesting. Instead of numbers on jerseys, this year the players should don the shoe that really fits – A BIG FUCKING QUESTION MARK. I can't help it, I've always been an optimist.
HF33 – And I've always been a pessimist. 11th place in the East, crippling injuries all year (giving the French media an excuse), Carbo gets fired, and Kovy, Pleks and Huet are all gone by the deadline. Worst. Season. Ever.