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Game 2: Habs vs Lightning, 7 PM
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- Habs F Daniel Briere has the 5th most playoff points amongst all active NHL'ers. He has 13 game winning goals in the postseason, 3rd highest among active players.
When Brian Gionta came to Montreal, he was accompanied by Scott Gomez. These two were part of the famous 'EGG' line, with Patrik Elias, in New Jersey. It seemed that the two were inseparable at first and even showed some chemistry of old. However, the demise of Gomez and some injuries have unfortunately halted Giontaís progress. The upcoming season will be a big challenge for the Habs' captain who hopes to regain his scoring touch that led him to seven consecutive 20 plus goal seasons.
Gionta played only 31 games in the 2011-2012 season, so it is hard to offer a good assessment of last yearís campaign. However, he has definitely created a history for himself and is considered a high end top six forward. His best season was in 2005-2006 when he put up 48 goals. Since then, he has had at least 20 goals in each season (not including last year) and 28 and 29 respectively in the two seasons with Montreal before a torn bicep ended his play last year. It is fair to say that the lack of a complete second line last year was a major concern. If Rene Bourque is indeed the second line winger, he will lace up for the first time with Gionta this year. Some stability on the second unit could be a much needed ingredient that was not there last year. Let us wait and see.
Season stats: GP 31, G 8, A 7, PTS 15, +/- -7, PIM 16, PPG 2, SHG 0, GWG 0, SOG 75, ATOI 20:45
5 Year AveragesGP: 67
2012-2013 RoleWith new blood running the organization and new blood in his own family (his wife recently gave birth to their third child) Brianís motivation should be heightened and the captain is expected to be in top form to lead the club out of their last place standing of a season ago. The lack of secondary scoring is a problem that will need solving if the Habs are to return to the postseason. The captainís work ethic and reputation should assure him of a return to his plus 20 goal form. The X factor going in to next season remains the line configurations. We can only assume that the David Desharnais line stays intact - but what if it doesnít? If Plekanec is to play with Pacioretty and Cole would Desharnais click with Gionta and Bourque in the same way? Will Gomez be given the chance (as it seems he might be) to redeem himself and rekindle the chemistry of old with Gionta. Will Bourque underachieve or will he put up 25 goals or more? The answers to all these questions will influence the production of Gionta, but his leadership and on ice effort should, nevertheless, return and give the Habs a much needed boost.
Projected StatsGiontaís consistency makes him an easy pick as a fifth or sixth winger. He is not shy in taking shots, so a few lucky bounces and he could easily break the 25 goal mark. He is not a top scorer, but his drive makes him dangerous on every shift. What he lacks in pure goal scoring ability he makes up for with heart. Do not expect a 70 point season from Gionta, but given the right environment he is sure to consistently produce and is a safe pick as a secondary winger in all types of pools.