I think we’ve won 12 games or so by a single goal so far, so it’s been almost like a playoff atmosphere every game. It’s more intense than it used to be because every game is tighter and more important, and you’ve got a lot to lose. It’s a lot of pressure, but I think we’re doing well this year in large part because we’ve got good team chemistry.
The new rules have helped us, that’s for sure. We’re smaller than a lot of other teams, but we’re fast. It’s helped a lot that we’re a much faster team than we used to be, and the no holding helps a lot, too. There are still a lot of players adjusting to things defensively. I’m still adjusting and it will probably take a while, at least until after Christmas, to get our game to where we want it to be. It’s good that we have a strong record right now knowing that we can still play even better.
The rule changes have helped small players, skilled players. The game’s much faster. There are no more big, slow guys who are hooking you all the time. The defenses used to hook you constantly, taking your speed and your skills away. The fact that’s changed is good for the fans, too. They’re getting to see more goals this year, a lot of games with four, five or six goals per team as opposed to one or two per team in the past.
Speaking of scoring, let me tell you about Sidney Crosby: I think he’s going to be great. We played the Penguins the other week and he was something else. He’s still young and has a lot of space for improvement, but already he looks like a mature young player. There’s a lot of skill and a lot of speed to him, and the new rules are going to help guys like him and Alexander Ovechkin. Watching those two go head-to-head for years to come should be a lot of fun.
After missing a full season of hockey in 2004-05, I’ve been handling the return to a "normal" schedule pretty well. My wife and I welcomed a new baby, Noah, into the world this past year, so with two young boys around I’ve been a busy dad. Being a parent is pretty cool - it’s a lot of work but I had the year without the NHL, so I was able to spend time with my oldest son and I’m closer to him now. I think he’s starting to understand about the start of the season and me leaving a lot and then coming back home. He’s really into hockey now and knows what I do. I have to say I’m enjoying my life right now, having grown up in Montreal and now having the chance to play here with the Canadiens.
One thing I guess I’ll need to start dealing with is the nasty weather that comes with living in this city in the wintertime. I’ve got a bit of a commute back and forth from the Bell Centre because I live off the island, but I like to drive. It’s pretty rare that I hit traffic. We usually start practice at 11:00 so we have to be here around 10:00, so I’m never really in traffic. When I am, I like being in my car anyway so it’s not a problem for me - I can just turn up some music and relax.
The last CD I bought was Kanye West’s Late Registration. I don’t really buy CDs that often; I like to buy mixed CDs, but I made an exception with Kanye’s latest. I bought some Frank Sinatra and Mariah Carey stuff this summer, too, but usually I’ll buy mixes of mostly R&B and hip-hop.
When I get a chance to watch TV, I like to watch "Lost", but I won’t tape it because it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on. If I’m around, I’ll watch it. I’ve actually seen mostly kids’ movies recently - Chicken Little, that was good. I also saw Two for the Money and liked that; it’s more of a guy movie, so take that under advisement. Flightplan was okay but when a movie is always set in the same place, like an airplane, it’s kind of boring and you know where it’s going to go. I’ll probably go see 50 Cent in Get Rich or Die Tryin’, but most of the time, I’ll stick to kids’ movies.
Thanks for reading - I’ll catch you guys next time.
Mike Ribeiro is a forward for the Montreal Canadiens. Diary transcribed by Heather Engel, Site Assistant for canadiens.com.