About last night …

Did anyone foresee this?

The consensus among so-called experts was Canadiens would finish out of the playoffs again this season.

They still might. But it would take quite a tumble – all the way from first place in the Northeast Division.

So which combination of results would you prefer today?

• If Ottawa beats Pittsburgh and Canadiens beat New Jersey, the non-playoff team is first in the Eastern Conference.

• If Pittsburgh wins, Canadiens can open up a three-point lead on Ottawa if they beat the Devils.

Of course, if the Senators win or salvage a point in a tie and Canadiens lose … I won’t even go there.

No matter what happens today short of a total humiliation at the hands of Martin F. Brodeur and his very pissed-off teammates (who got all of 18 shots in a hame against Cristobal Huet last night), Canadiens will be going to the west coast with wind in their sails.

Not that they’re actually making the trip by boat. They’ll be flying to California, on Cloud Nine.

 

Canadiens played a superlative road game in Buffalo, which is a tough place to win.

The power play – which experts predicted would be crippled by the loss of Sheldon Souray – scored three times in three chances. And they made it look easy, with tape-to-tape passes and seeing-eye shots.

Tomas Plekanec, who’d been in a funk, racked up Canadiens’ first hat trick of the season. His linemate, Alex Kovalev, had four assists. Andrei Kostitsyn chipped in with a breakaway goal, off a brilliant pass by Kovalev, and brother Sergei got into the act on a late-game Hell’s Bels shift with Andrei and Mikhail Grabovski

Mark Streit had a goal and two assists.

Grabovski, called up from Hamilton to be traded to Atlanta in the aborted Marian Hossa deal, had two assists and continues to play like a guy who’ll be hard to dislodge from the lineup.

On another great night for Canadiens’ eastern European contingent, Roman Hamrlik was a rock on the back end and Andrei Markov, victim of an unpenalized cheap shot, responded by playing as angry as we’ve seen this season.

As Carey Price mentioned after the game, the defence and backchecking forwards did a very good job of protecting him. Mike Komisarek was excellent again. My man Josh Gorges was outstanding, and Ryan O’Byrne continues to improve.

Price made 31 saves but was not severely tested. Buffalo’s first goal was a fluke and he had no chance on the second. The new number one goaltender continues to impress with his cool demeanour, positioning and puckhandling. 

As befits a home team on a hot streak, Buffalo  came out thumping. But Canadiens got the first goal on an early PP. And two minutes after Buffalo scored to make it 2-1, another power-play goal by Plekanec re-established a two-goal lead.

Buffalo tried to slap Canadiens around. It didn’t work. The PP made them pay, and in the game’s only fight, Guillaume "Lucian Bute" Latendresse caught Nolan Pratt right on the snoot.

Everyone contributed as Guy Carbonneau was able to roll his four lines for 60 minutes. The coach’s determination to use all his players all season undoubtedly has contributed to Canadiens’ very lucky lack of serious injuries. With balanced ice time, no one is getting burned out.

And it’s made for balanced scoring. Canadiens lead the league with seven 40-point players: Kovalev, Plekanec, Markov, Streit, Saku Koivu, Christopher Higgins and Andrei K. If the Magnificent Seven score 50 points, it will be a first since the 1988-’89 season when Mats Naslund had 84, Bobby Smith 83, Chris Chelios 73, Stéphane Richer 60, a Guy named Carbonneau 56, Claude Lemieux 51 and Shayne Corson 50.

I can’t remember if that team was in first place on March 1. 

85 Comments

  1. usversusthem says:

    You could always mention that since they last won the cup, they’re the NHL team with the worst ratio of seasons played to Finals appearances.

    Nearly every NHL team has made the Finals at least once since 1967, if not several times… the Habs have something like 15 times, as I recall, and some teams, like the North Stars, managed to come into existence, make the Finals, and then cease to operate before the Leafs got another shot…

    Of the teams that have never made the finals, the San Jose Sharks have the next worst record, going 0-for-15… which is a far cry from Toronto’s 0-for-39.

  2. Sulemaan says:

    Sam Pollock (God bless his soul) could come back and he couldn’t turn around the Maple Leafs.

    It’s going to take that organization years to turn things around however they are in such a brutal repetitive spiral that it won’t be fixed for a while.

    The fans in Toronto expect a Cup every year but are not prepared to miss the playoffs for a few years to load up on high draft picks and prospects. And when the team does get them, they invariably trade them away for old veterans.

    As much as MLSE may say that they will give full control they really are not prepared to do so because the egos on the MLSE board of directors are too big. Scotty Bowman was prepared to come before this season on the condition he be given full control. The Board of MLSE refused.

    As much as I dislike the Leafs, it’s sad seeing a Canadian team with so much tradition be in perpetual ruin. For MLSE it’s not about the playoffs or Stanley Cup, it’s only about the profits. They sell out all home games so who cares about a couple playoff rounds. Bizarre logic but it’s true.

  3. hound521 says:

    I was at the game last night. The atmosphere was electric. By the middle of the third period half of the Buffalo fans had left the building, and there was an enormous contingent of HABS fans chaning ole ole ole ole ole!!!!. It was quite the scene. I thought I was at the Bell Centre. That was an admirable road performance by Les Boys. Hope they have enough left in the tanks tonight for Brodeur. First in the East would be sweet. GO HABS GO!!!

  4. likehoy says:

    i find it crazy that if you extrapolate the points per team in the standings…the top team in the east would finish with 101 points (NJ)…and montreal/pitts would have 99.6 which rounds up to 100 i suppose…meanwhile last season every team in the west’s top 8 except calgary broke 100 points.

    There are NO favorites heading into the playoffs…even detroit is looking down without 4 top dmen…but once they’re back they’ll be fine (or will they? who can really rely on osgood and hasek int he playoffs…)

  5. Wops says:

    Ahaha, great paper.

    Milbury and Ferguson are indeed the shame of TSN.
    _______________________________________
    CH is for Chris Higgins

  6. wild flower says:

    It would probably be a little bit naive to say that it couldn’t happen – they say that everyone has a price. I suppose the same is true for Burke or Gainey. This week week we saw that when buying Gainey is willing to pay but only to a point. Most decisions can can be explained by economics.

  7. Les-Habitants says:

    From what I understand, they are offering complete control, ie President of Hockey Operations and the GM position to one person.

    If I had to guess who will be the Laffs GM and Prez next year? Dallas’ former GM Armstrong is a great GM who is without a job, and current Nashville GM David Poile was Fletcher’s assistant back in the day and he did a great job of building Nashville into what it is today…until ownership issues destroyed it all. I’m not sure when his contract expires, but he got so badly screwed by the uncertainty in Nashville, I could see him moving to a place where at least he wouldn’t have to worry about the payroll.

    Those would be my 2 bets, and of course Neil Smith is out there, but you can forget about guys like Burke, Gainey, Rutherford, or any other GM who seems very happy in their current place and has full control…especially considering all of the guys banged around in the toronto media are under contract past next season…

  8. Les-Habitants says:

    I like that…the Magnificent 7. At this pace, they should all hit 50 at least.

    As for the outcome, I’d much rather be tied for 1st in the East and have a three point lead on the Sens. I’ll be rooting for the Pens when they faceoff against Ottawa, but New Jersey is going to be an interesting game. Talk about an inconsistent team, I don’t understand the Devils.
    They are 1st in the East right now, and it isn’t by fluke, yet they come up with stinkers of games every once in a while. Should be a good game, but I’m hoping Sutter isn’t able to light a fire under these guys.

    Price is starting again. Guess we’ll see Halak sometime next week. Looking forward to seeing his first start this season.

  9. Rugger says:

    Do they have any draft picks to lose??

  10. dudefella says:

    Gainey’s also under contract to the Habs until 2009-2010, so for another two seasons. I think that means that the Leafs would have to get George Gilette’s permission to talk to Gainey about it, or they’d be accused of tampering, which I understand to mean that they’d lose draft picks and be fined.

    Honestly, the whole story seems really speculative. I think Dreger probably spoke with someone who knows someone who saw the Leafs’ “Good GMs” list in the garbage… Burke’s repeatedly said he wants to stay in Anaheim (Who wouldn’t? Love it down there.)

  11. Scott in Montreal says:

    I’ll be there too – I’ve been a fan since Exit 0, when he did a double-bill with Billr Bragg at the Spectrum (back in Chelios/Naslund days IIRC). Ihaven’t heard Earle’s latest yet though.

  12. ClaytonM says:

    They have as much chance of luring Gainey away as they do of winning a Cup this year. The sad fact is when you have an organization as badly run from top to bottom as the laffs do, no one in their right mind would want to take the helm without complete control over hockey operations and a 10 year contract. On top of that, they’d need to sign an Ontario native or former laffs legend, and there are not that many of the latter in management positions in the NHL. This is a prime example of reaping what you sow. The laffs decide not to retire jerseys, so it’s no wonder they have no former players to choose from.

    Besides, after the way they handled jfj, and the subsequent backlash against peddie after his firing, only a complete douche like berk [sic] would take the job.

  13. dicktracy says:

    don’t take it down yet but move to a position of less prominence and see what happens

  14. Dana says:

    I think he got deleted! Yay. 🙂

    And thank you. 😉

    “Now, now my good man, this is no time for making enemies.”
    – Voltaire on his deathbed in response to a priest asking that he renounce Satan.

  15. rbt259 says:

    Something that strikes me as somehow disappointing (probably because I grew up seeing Habs lead the scoring race), is the fact we have only one player – Kovy – on the top thirty scoring list. I’d say this shows a very balanced team in terms of points given the position we hold in the standings. Had we not been in first, it would show we don’t have anyone who can put the puck in the net.

    What have I been saying all year (well not to you people as I’m new to the neighborhood)…shoot high…roof it and you’ll score in today’s NHL, and what did our boys do last night? They roofed it on almost every goal except for Andre K’s 5 hole jobbie. They all do the butterfly guys…shoot high.

  16. tony d says:

    it’s only 1 o clock and I have butterflies for tonight’s game
    looks like I’ll be knockin back an Immodium smoothie later
    Go Habs Go

  17. ClaytonM says:

    Who is RussianProspect?

    btw, nice quote by Voltaire.

  18. jew4jah says:

    one good thing about living on the west coast…
    watch the habs in the afternoon, still have time for a concert or family dinner or whatever later on.

  19. PGHABS says:

    http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/13890-Loose-Change-Comic-genius.html

    here’s a good link on the quality of TSN’s “EXPERTS”

  20. PGHABS says:

    There’s been a couple articles written in several papers about how the Leafs need their own version of Gainey. I think Dreger just read the paper and formulated his own opinion. Gainey could probably care less about joining the Maple Leafs. He just had his jersey retired by the Habs a week ago! He’s played against the Leafs dozens of times in his career, he probably detests them as much as most of us do!

    It’s funny how so many people called Gainey a lame duck GM but as soon as there’s any rumour of him going elsewhere there’s an outcry from the fans.

  21. howtathor says:

    Nice pic! I heard a good interview with the pocket rocket on the Team990 yesterday. 18 yrs old eh? I’ve seen Steve Earle a few times before too many years ago. Now we’re both older and supposedly wiser, lol. Looking forward to it!

  22. Chuck says:

    Carey didn’t throw his mask; he was cross-checked from behind.

    .
    .
    .

    ______________________________________
    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  23. Chuck says:

    Gotta love the caption under the photo: “Buffalo’s Nolan Pratt, right, and Montreal’s Guillaume Latendresse trade punches during the second period of Friday night’s game.”

    A better caption would have been, “Nolan Pratt getts tagged in the schnozz, miliseconds before he found himself lying on the ice.”

    .
    .
    .

    ______________________________________
    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  24. ClaytonM says:

    Smart coaching there. With 4 minutes to go they showed Carbo talking to Kovalev on RDS and I bet the simple message was “Sit down for the rest of the game, we’ll need you rested for tomorrow night”

  25. mjames says:

    I know this is off topic but assuming the Leafs did go after Gainey , I assume the Habs would ask for compensation in the form of extensive draft picks. If that is the case why would anyone take the the Leaf GM position when you don ‘t have any draft picks and you can’t trade anyone. Secondly Dryden could not turn that mess around what makes Gainey or anyuone for that matter want to try?

    Just ruminating out loud.

    mjames

  26. V. says:

    On a side note, I just realized last night that my McDonald’s Huet stick is useless now! Do you think displaying it still will bring bad luck to the habs? Should I take it down from my shrine? lol

  27. HotHabs says:

    Yes, I read that story – freakin’ funny!!! I laughed so hard my wife wondered what was going on!

    enjoying the high’s & enduring the lows of being a Habs fan

  28. V. says:

    I think the guys will have a tough time against New Jersey tonight. I hate the devils so much so I hope that Brodeur doesn’t come back tonight with a shutout. Hopefully everything will go well and if the habs have to lose, lose in overtime for freak’s sake! I hate it when they blow it in the third.

    I’d prefer it if Ottawa lost tonight because being first in their division, the habs will have a better chance at staying at the top and not in the middle.

  29. RGM says:

    That would be sweet if they had the song queued for when the trio is put together. Wonder how long it would take for people to catch on as to why the song comes only when the Brothers K are put out there with Grabovski. Hopefully a few HI/O readers will be able to help spread the word.

    See you April 5th at the Bell Centre!

  30. Dana says:

    Can somebody ban RussianProspect? All he does is spam! >< -- "Now, now my good man, this is no time for making enemies." - Voltaire on his deathbed in response to a priest asking that he renounce Satan.

  31. Mike Boone says:

    Whoah, Keith. Try the de-caf.

  32. Wops says:

    Funniest story of the day; Leafs looking for Burke or Gainey! Ahah

    http://www.tsn.ca/tsn_talent/columnists/darren_dreger/?id=230928
    _______________________________________
    CH is for Chris Higgins

  33. Wops says:

    How did you like the last line on the ice last night!

    Carey Price – 20
    Latendresse – 20
    S.Kostitsyn – 20
    Max Lapierre – 22
    Ryan O’Byrne – 23
    Roman Hammer – 33 – The Vet looking for the young guns

    Future looks bright to me..
    _______________________________________
    CH is for Chris Higgins

  34. tony d says:

    maybe you should switch to de-caff
    (lol)

  35. nightmare_49 says:

    Someone was asking if Rocky Lats landed any punches http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/story/288565.html

  36. Keith says:

    Leave it to a no class, piss poor organization like the Maple Fleas to try and pry our GM away from us. Total lack of tact and class if you ask me. WHAT FLAGRANT ARROGANCE!! I have absolutely NO respect for that organization whatsoever. Hope they all burn in hell!

  37. Rugger says:

    Did any one else notice the great facial expressions from Komy last night? During the fighting sequence he was doing some sort of imitation of a complaining Sabre. The guy is a riot!

  38. ClaytonM says:

    No kidding. I thought he was a step away from filling up the tank in his flamethrower and driving down the 40

  39. dicktracy says:

    Northeast GP W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Road L10
    Montreal 65 35 21 9 79 207 183 15-12-5 20-9-4 6-4-0
    Ottawa 65 36 23 6 78 211 195 19-12-3 17-11-3 3-5-2
    Boston 63 34 23 6 74 174 168 16-12-3 18-11-3 7-2-1
    Buffalo 65 31 25 9 71 198 188 17-11-4 14-14-5 5-4-1
    Toronto 66 28 28 10 66 183 206 16-12-5 12-16-5 6-3-1

  40. dicktracy says:

    who was that that came up with the ‘hells bels’ again…congratulations on that. will they start the hells bells song tonight?

  41. Dana says:

    Thank you and much thanks to showey47 as well!


    “Now, now my good man, this is no time for making enemies.”
    – Voltaire on his deathbed in response to a priest asking that he renounce Satan.

  42. dicktracy says:

    i’ve enjoyed Steve Earl twice, he put on a great show….i will be going to a Otis Clay show tonight…after the game…he also gives alot of energy, for a 75 year old guy. enjoy the show

  43. Will Longlade says:

    I would prefer that the Pens beat the Sens tonight. Teams have a higher probability of making the playoffs if they are the leaders in their division. Just look at the Canes. The Habs will have an opportunity to leapfrog the Pens later.

  44. Will Longlade says:

    Just Google “NHL Salaries”.

  45. showey47 says:

    Didn’t guy have a couple of concussions in his junior days? If so, i wonder if this has something to do with his unwillingness to drop the mits more often.

  46. howtathor says:

    I like the view from the top! Ottawa looks much more appealing from this vantage point. Look dear there’e the parliament buildings and the Rideau Canal! LOL

    Now I understand why Gui would never drop his gloves. He might hurt somebody! Nice to see Gui and his buddy Max mixing it up a bit. As the run to the playoffs get’s hotter other teams will be doing their utmost to intimidate us and we’ll need the fightin’ frenchmen to take some of the heat of Komisaurus. Can you envision a line of Gui, Max and Beige? Look out!!!

    Didn’t notice if there were any hats thrown on the ice after Pleks third goal. I know Carey would have thrown his! Come to think of it he did!

    Seems like the jersey of choice is 746 Hell’s Bels! Wait till I order that at the Bel (sic) Centre.

    Looking forward to the game tonight although unfortunately (or not) I have tickets for Steve F. Earle. Will have to tape the game.

    Way to go Cristobal. Hope we don’t see you in the playoffs!

  47. Cape Breton says:

    Dana,

    Here is a website of all the Habs contracts.

    http://www.nhlscap.com/capnumbers/montreal.htm

  48. ebk says:

    Excellent game for the Habs on a big night. The win puts them 8 points up on the Sabres for a playoff spot. They now sit in the #2 seed a point ahead of the Senators and a point behind the Devils for the #1 seed. Who woulda thunk it, Certainly not me!

    Great game by Kovalev and Plekanec. The two of them have some unbelievable chemistry together and along with Andrei Kostitsyn, score some of the nicest goals in the NHL. The line had struggled a little of late but bounced back in a big way, the way #1 lines are supposed to.

    Madd Max had another strong game last night. He is a part energizer Bunnt, part super ball, bouncing off of one play after another and keeps going and going and going. Since his call up, he has given the habs quality minutes from the 3rd/4th line that they were missing. Max’s offensive talents lack a little but he is a force defensively almost every game. The opposition scores a goal for every 45 minutes Max is on the ice at even strength, by far a team best. The other so-called defensive forwards the team has are all far worse than him, Smolinski 22, Kostopoulos 22 and Dandenault 18. He has also done a very good job as a penalty killer. This kid is a keeper

    Most of their kids are. The Kiddie Corps was brilliant last night and has been since early December. I give lots of credit to Andrei but the little brother is a beaut too. Gorges, Price, O’Bryne, Sergie K, Andrie K, Latendresse and Madd Max have stepped up and contributed in a big way to this team. If the next wave of the Kiddie Corps is as good as the first two. The Habs will take their rightful place as annual Stanley Cup contenders. What will we bitch about then?

    Team sits roughly 14 points out of securing a playoff spot and improves its record to an outstanding 20-6-4 without Brisebois.

    Thanks for Reading

  49. frank81 says:

    “We’re going to go into a great atmosphere in Montreal and it won’t take much to get back into it from the first period over there.” – Martin Brodeur

    I really hope Brodeur gets lit up for 4+ goals tonight.

  50. showey47 says:

    nhlnumbers.com

  51. Dana says:

    A little off-topic but does anybody have a website which shows the contracts for all the Montreal Canadiens players??

    Just wondering who we might lose and who will command a significantly higher salary next year??

    Thanks in advance!


    “Now, now my good man, this is no time for making enemies.”
    – Voltaire on his deathbed in response to a priest asking that he renounce Satan.

  52. HotHabs says:

    The same could be said of the Habs. It’s no fluke they’re high in the standings, but they also have played some real ugly games along the way!

    enjoying the high’s & enduring the lows of being a Habs fan

  53. HotHabs says:

    I saw that error, too. But, on their video highlights the have it marked as 6-2. Probably just a type-o oversight!

    enjoying the high’s & enduring the lows of being a Habs fan

  54. Gooner says:

    To Jkdavid: Quote: “I’ve found that all of you seniors on here are real brave name calling over the internet,doubt you’d be so brave in person. You’d need a new pair of dentures” I believe that to be quite an insult to our seniors on here. And please don’t try to threaten me little boy. That really shows your maturity.

  55. HotHabs says:

    Great site link for salaries, etc…

    But, I wondered about the accuracy when I saw 1.4 mil. for Breezer. I thought his contract was about 1/2 that amount…

    enjoying the high’s & enduring the lows of being a Habs fan

  56. dicktracy says:

    If you really want to get under a leaf fans skin…sometimes fun just for the hell of it try telling them that they had better teams under Ballard than since. That late ’70’s team was arguably… as good as any since

  57. Les-Habitants says:

    Very true, indeed.

    Man, the East really is wide open…even when the Pens are healthy, it’s anyone’s to win.

  58. Ian G Cobb says:

    That is quite right Sulmaan, You can only have one captain on any one ship or you can’t keep it in line. Toronto does not even know what quality looks like.

  59. The Teacher says:

    Well, then they must be setting the record for web site with the most typos. N’est ce pas?

    “Are the Habs ready to pay the Price?”

  60. Flake says:

    Who works at TSN?? In the preview of toady’s game they say habs won yesterday with the score of 6-3. They just pull numders out of air


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