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First Down

- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 31, 2008

AN EXCERPT FROM IN THE ROOM, OUR NHL BLOG

As part of his examination of all 30 teams, Corey Masisak takes a look at the Montreal Canadiens:

Insert several hundred questions directed toward Carey Price here.

Look, the team returns mainly intact, so the Montreal media are going to need something to talk about (who replaces Mark Streit on the power play will only have so much lasting power). Price's postseason play will provide plenty of ammunition for the skeptics. It should be pointed out that while Cristobal Huet received a ton of attention for his work with the Caps, Price did go 12-3 to finish the regular season and tossed two shutouts in the playoffs (those three five-goal nights, including the final game of the Flyers series, weren't so good).

Prognosis: It will be tough to not pick Montreal to win not only the Northeast but be the top overall seed in the East again this season. Alex Tanguay can be an upgrade over Michael Ryder and offset any loss of offense with Streit gone. None of the other top point-getters in the East (Pittsburgh, New Jersey and New York) look better on paper right now. Bottom line: This is the 100th year for the franchise and Montreal is going to be the center of the hockey universe with both the All-Star Game and draft in the city (advantage: members of the media). If Price lives up to 85 percent of the hype, there could be at least two Stanley Cup Finals games at Bell Centre as well.

TWT FIVE » SPORTS NAME CHANGES

1. Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali — Done for religious reasons, Ali was called by his birth name (even by his hometown paper, the Louisville Courier-Journal) for years after the switch.

2. Marvin Nathaniel Hagler to Marvelous Marvin Hagler — His 62-3-2 record shows why he thought he was so marvelous.

3. Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — Alcindor went first overall to the Bucks in 1969, and Abdul-Jabbar finished his career as the NBA's all-time leading scorer.

4. Chad Johnson to Chad Javon Ocho Cinco — OK, it's bizarre, but at least Ocho Cinco represents his number. Does he really want to be Javon Walker?

5. Lloyd Bernard Free to World B. Free — The “Ambassador of Basketball” boasts one of the coolest names in sports.

SUNDAY'S BEST BET ON TELEVISION

With quarterbacks Andre Woodson and Brian Brohm gone, Kentucky and Louisville rekindle their rivalry in the season's first weekend. 3:30, ESPN