On the Main Stage - Markov, DOOM, Rhino, Hamr, Frankie B, Gorgeous Gorges, and Fucking Patrice Fucking Brisbois (aka the Breezer), with possible cameos from El Dandy (El! Dandy! Fuck!).
Eager and ready (?) to enter, stage left - This is much more Panger's forte, but even I know the Habs have stockpiled a whole bunch of defenders. Names to watch are Yanick "He's Swiss so he's the next Mark Streit" Weber, steady Mathieu Carle (after he remembers his name - preseason head-shots are not great for development), Darius Kasparitis clone Pavel Valentenko, and wild card Alexei Yemelin. The Habs also have uber-personality PK "The Subbanator" Subban and collegians David Fischer and Ryan McDonagh as ones to watch in the future. It's good. It's very good. Trevor Timmins deserves a raise.
The tits - Markov is an elite-level defenceman and possibly the team's best all-around player. A true number one, he leads the power play, kills penalties, is an exceptional passer and has a good shot. DOOM was among the league leaders in hits and blocked shots last year and is an uncompromising, hammer-you-silly, pick-another-side-of-the-ice-to-try-that-bullshit-dipsy-doodle-shit-you-pansy, headcracking bunch of awesome. Hamr is a cool head, the steadying veteran presence and mentor for Gorges, Rhino, and the kids. Rhino is DOOM with training wheels, a big and nasty but still raw kid with a penchant for stealing purses. Gorges is a sight to see; he spends at least half of every shift getting hammered into the boards or tripping over his own feet, but always seems to get the puck out of danger. Despite being 5'2" and 87 pounds, Frankie B is a bowling ball who always plays tough.
The cellulite - The loss of Mark Streit will affect the powerplay; the fact that Tanguay and Little Tits are being touted as his replacement on the point may tell you something about the d's offensive potential behind Markov. DOOM can often be caught out of position looking for the big hit; Rhino is guilty of the same. Like every third pair, Frankie B and Gorges can sometimes look overmatched and tend to run around. Hamr tired noticeably by the end of last year and will need to play less in the regular season. Any injury to Markov would be devastating.
The armpit hair – Breezer and El Dandy. Sigh. Two vets with limited physical presence, a tendency to get shoved around in their own end, and not enough offensive talent to compensate on the other end. But they're French ... that has to count for something, right? Fuck no. Breezer and El Dandy's only value is comedic and shit stops getting funny the first time Price gets his bell rung by Milan Lucic because these two fuckers missed an assignment.
In the VIP Room - DOOM's contract is up this summer, and that should terrify every Habs fan until he's resigned. He will never score enough to win a Norris, but he's the one guy every opposing forward constantly watches for, and until Rhino finds some consistency he's the team's best hope at corralling not only the Crosby's and Lecavalier's of the world, but also the jackasses and miscreants that populate teams like the Bruins & Flyers. The Rangers and Isles will be first in line for the New York native if the Habs don't get him under contract, his best friend Higgins be damned.
Chez Parée bound? If he's injury-free, Markov goes to the All-Star game again and approaches the 60-70 point barrier. If DOOM continues his current career trajectory he could be a poor man's Scott Stevens. Rhino has the same potential. Hamr gets in because he's making enough money to pay for all the dances. If Franky B and Gorgeous do what they are asked, they can sit in the back, but they aren't allowed to touch anything.
Signature song – "We Are the Road Crew" - Motorhead. Everyone raves about the offence and expects great things from TFS in goal, but this team goes nowhere without another excellent season from the guys doing the dirty work on the back end.
6.5 lap dances (out of 10) – A lot depends on staying healthy, the continued development of Rhino and Gorges, and career-ending injuries/trades/retirements from El Dandy and Breezer.
3a.m. Smoked Meat Sandwiches:
HF29: HF10’s analysis is so spot on I can waste this 3 AM smoked meat sandwich on upping my Breezer Gilooly ante to $100. C’mon kids, you can do it!
Panger: If Doom or Markov get anything more than a rash this season we’re fucked. Let’s hope Hamr plays like last year and not the year before when he got run out of Calgary. And because it’s never too early to start worrying: God help us if DOOM leaves after this year.
HF4: I could say that I miss Gaston Gingras or David Wilkie or Ron Hainsey or Dennis Maruk's mustache, but I would be lying about everything but the latter. More on What the Hell Does This Have to Do With Anything? tomorrow.