About last night …

No Scott Gomez?
No Brian Rafalski?
No problem.
Forwards and defencemen come and they go. New rinks are built.
But as long as Martin Brodeur is wearing a New Jersey Devils jersey, your Montreal Canadiens are toast.
Marc Antoine Godin has a better food metaphor in La Presse today. He writes that when the Canadiens fell behind 2-0 after 40 minutes, “les carottes étaient cuites.”
The Devils have not lost a game they led after two periods this season.
Canadiens have not won a game in which they trailed after 40.

2-0 against Martin F. Brodeur?
May as well load the bags on the plane. That sucker was over.

I thought this visit to New Jersey would be different. Canadiens were all over the Devils early, including an unreal sequence when the puck was in the home end for what seemed like eternity.
Sadly, Time of Possession is a football stat. Canadiens did their usual Sergei Samsonov skating drills around the perimeter, and the guy who answers to the Canadiens’ question “Who’s our daddy?” watched with a certain degree of bemusement and then calmly kicked out whatever low-percentage shots were directed at him. And as is almost always the case when one team dominates early but fails to score, the Devils got the first goal of the game.

Professional hockey players don’t quit. But you could see the fight drain out of the Canadiens as the game wore on and Brodeur stood strong. They are a young team, a work in progress. On the one hand, that means the best is yet to come. On the other hand, their early-evolutionary status makes for very fragile self-belief.
How bad were the Canadiens in the latter hal of the game last night? The RDS highlight reel was a Guillaume Latendresse backcheck … on a night when the official NHL stats credited Canadiens with THREE hits in 60 minutes.

So, in the immortal words of V.I. Lenin, what is to be done?

A few suggestions from the cheap seats (in my suburban basement):

• Move Christopher Higgins back to LW. He’s messed up on the right side.
• Hope that Tomas Plekanec bounces back against Nashville tonight. Pleks was way overmatched against John Madden.
• Pray that whatever ails Andrei Markov will get better soon.
• Pray that the 30-goal scorer, who played nine minutes in New Jersey, finds his game … and soon.
• Keep alternating goaltenders. And watch how Price bounces back from 4-0 … albeit a pasting that wasn’t his fault.
• Think seriously about a couple of call-ups to energize the room. Bob Gainey was in Hamilton last night, and maybe the GM should bring Ryan O’Byrne and Sergei Kostitsyn back to Montreal with him.
• Hire James Bond to get Alexei Emelin out of Russia.
• DO NOT TRADE FOR MARK RECCHI! This is not a drill. DO NOT TRADE FOR MARK RECCHI!!!!

18 Comments

  1. snowdonsteve says:

    somthing i find quite funny…

    A lot of habs fans talk more often then not about deffensive coverage mistakes or pressures inducted bad passes … and people are right the habs do make some deffensive zone mistakes and it is obvious that mark streit ain’t playing well when facing an agressive forechecking, the same goes for the breezer.

    But…

    can you imagine if fans starded worrying about offensive zone mistakes… nobody would care if they give up 3 goals on bad passes and poor coverage if they could score 5 !!!

    I like Chris Higgins, i think he’s one hell of a hockey player… but i’m starting to strongly doubt is offensive potentiel… The guy is just not a sniper… not quite a power forward and too good to play on the 3rd line !!!

    Lats and Ryder migth have borrowed saku’s stick cos they both keep passing the puck instead of shooting !!! maybe they just try to be generous but for F*** sakes could they be generous when leading 5-0 !!!

    The real PURE offensive talent the habs have is Kovalev and no matther what people say Pleks is not a PLAYMAKER !!! witch on the long run… ouch

    anyway they’ll probebly win angainst the predator… so none of this will mather tomorow

    Go Habs GO

  2. Exit716 says:

    How many fans were really at the game? The NHL line says over 15,000.

  3. sisu says:

    “Pleks was way overmatched against John Madden.”

    Sutter did not use Madden against Pleks. Sutter, like every other coach in the NHL, knows Koivu is the player to watch on this team. Even when Koivu is saddled with a player like Latendresse on his wing.

  4. Will Longlade says:

    IMO, Streit’s mediocre play of late has nothing to do with confidence. He has been given too prominent a role on the team. He simply can’t excel in the role of one of the Hab’s full time players and go-to-guys. Streit has been and can be a very competent role player in the NHL. If Carbo used him this way, he would make a much larger contribution to the team’s success. I’ve said it before, but w/Streit it’s a definitely a case of less being more. When Carbo realizes this, we will see Streit return to his old form.

  5. tleblanc says:

    I was at the game last night and although Price wasn’t at fault for the loss, I did notice watching him live that his puck handling ability is quite simply gawd awful. He created at least three situations in which the team baled him out and it simply is due to very indifferent play with the puck. I am still wondering how you can make two high sticking calls at the same time when they actually occurred about 30 seconds apart and the Canadiens were in control of the puck for that entire time. At least from where I was sitting. Absolutely strange. As for the rest of the team I would ask that they start a pool to reimburse all the Hab fans there because they stopped playing after 71 did what he does best. The only saving grace last night is a game isn’t 4 periods long.

  6. FastRonnie says:

    AFter thoughts on last night’s game…

    -Kovy showed up… alone for 2/3rds of the game

    -Price couldn’t be blamed for the goals – even the first one was nice on the breakaway. But, I did notice he played a little deeper in his crease than usual.

    -Komi is probably getting tired being one of the only guys who consistently grinds down the opposition (with exception of perhaps Begin and Kostopoulos)

    -a Hamilton call up is definitely on the agenda. Is there any other reason for Gainey to visit the ‘beautiful, scenic’ city of Hamilton??? Hello! It was all business and surely he will be making some changes soon. Expect O’Byrne, S. Kostitsyn, or d’Agostini to be wearing the CH shortly. Oh, and send down Grabovski for one of them – he can sublet his new apartment!

    -Carbo needs to bump up his game a notch (if he’s capable). He is not coaching well in less than ideal conditions. He needs to light the fire somehow. Maybe he and Kovy could work out a deal to swap roles??? Ya right, when ‘hellski’ freezes over!

    -Recchi still has some life in him, but I can’t see him providing much to help in the long term. As Boone has so subtly indicated: stay away from Recchi.

    -I think Habs will somehow win tonight, but it won’t change the fact that they can’t find a consistent winning combination. Wins are hit and miss, which doesn’t translate into playoff hopes.

    -Bottom line (literally): there’s a lot of room for improvement in many aspects of Mtl’s game – offense, defence, and behind the bench. The only safe part of their game is in the crease, but goalies can only win so many by themselves.

  7. Wencz says:

    Can somebody explain to me how the Habs ended up with two men in the box for 4 minutes?

    I understand that Chips high sticked someone, but it wasn’t caught by the refs or the play would have died right there when the Habs touched the puck. I’m guessing that it was the linesman that told the ref after the play was stopped, at which time Latendresse had also been issued a 4 min high-sticking penalty.

    Maybe that’s just freak bad-luck, but I think it was too harsh. Had they known they were about to serve a 4 min penalty they probably would’ve been more careful with their sticks. I mean, when there is a delayed pentalty called (ref has his arm up) how often do you see the ref call additional penalties to the team that is about to be penalized (even though it’s warranted)?

  8. Naila Jinnah says:

    LOL!!!! I’m glad you’ve issued a Recchi warning, because I could totally see that happening. I love the thought of Recchi in Montreal once more, but it just doesn’t work. And so, I hope the idea gets vetoed.

  9. P St. Pierre says:

    The game wasn’t really Price’s fault, the entire team (except Kovalev) went MIA for the 2nd and 3rd periods. They need to play a full 60 minutes because the goalie simply can’t win every game for them. The lack of hits last night was ridiculous. It just showed that they weren’t really in the game.

    I worry about Streit alot. This guy really seems nervous and his play reflects it. At the beginning of the season he was playing with a lot of confidence. Where did that go? I think if the Habs D are going to make mistakes, whats the difference if Ryan O’Byrne is making the mistakes? At least he can paste some guys to the boards and clear a guy like Mats F. Sundin away from the net. I’d also like to see Josh Gorges back into the lineup. He hasn’t played that badly and if he has had any hiccups, what can you expect when you only play once every five games. Boullion, Streit, and Brisebois make me nervous.

    I want Carbonneau to keep Latendresse on the first line. Perhaps Higgins should go back to LW and Lats to RW. He played RW in junior. I think the elements which Lats brought to that line were important. He has size, strength, and he is very hard to move. I definantly don’t think he’s hurt the line at all. Obviously it would be nice to get a top flite goalscorer but this isn’t the old NHL. You can’t buy those anymore. Which is why Higgins needs to start finishing. Make him do some target practice, get him a new stick…heck, hire Kovy to teach him how to shoot.

  10. Will Longlade says:

    I would definitely add Koivu to the list of inconsistent Habs. He’s had flashes of brilliance and played w/lots of energy at times, but he’s been as inconsistent as hell. He’s forcing his passes lately and he’s lost his touch in the face-off circle. He just isn’t playing smart or w/passion. He needs to play that way to compensate for his small physical stature.

    Although the Pleks line has been Montreal’s most consistent offensive threat, I find that Pleks hasn’t been playing smart either. He keeps making that blind bonehead pass into the slot that gives the opposition an odd man rush. Can’t the Habs make good passes to open men in the slot like other teams? The players have to be willing to sacrifice themselves for the team. IMO, Pleks is way too prone to hearing footsteps. Although I like the guy as a pond hockey player, I wouldn’t hesitate to trade him for someone bigger and grittier with a flare for offense and scoring. The Habs will have to give up someone good to get someone good. Montreal is too small down the middle. Until they address that problem and their lack of defensive toughness, they will lanquish.

  11. 24 Cups says:

    Ryder’s demise is one thing but what really baffles me is the overall play of Higgins, Plekanec, Kostitsyn, and Streit. At the beginning of the year I viewed these guys as players who would take the next step and elevate their game to another level. They would be major building blocks for a team that would eventually win the Cup. Right now they’re playing worse than last year. There’s still time for their level of play to turn around but if we have over evaluated their talent level then we have a lot more to worry about than a few loses to Buffalo and Jersey. I don’t expect miracles out of guys like Brisebois, Smolinski, and Begin but I’m starting to worry about the above mentioned players. Please take the next step guys – and soon!

  12. showey47 says:

    Agreed on the fact that this was in no way prices fault, he got zero help on all 4 goals against him. The only one he had a chance on the was the one after a brutal Patrice F. brisebois giveaway. I don’t know if bob saw anything tht he liked last night with a 6-0 pasting of the bulldogs with lapierre taking a 5 min major penalty towards the end of the game. The room needs to be shaken up though, either by callup or trade. We have not played a good 60 minute game in quite a while.

  13. Cable Guy says:

    Your 100% right, we need some new blood from Hamilton if for anything to just give this team a jolt.

  14. NLhabsfan says:

    Saw Brodeur with a stick save last night he was incredible….You wouldn’t shoot a pea by this guy…he stood on his head.That penalty …5 on 3 is beyond belief.Changes …Hmm I do believe that we should be calling up some players.O’Byrne would be a nice start.He is as big as a mountain.Our defense is small in some respects.No matter how many mistakes he makes he would learn.Right now some of our defense are playing small, making a lot of mistakes.

  15. Chorske says:

    I think we could also add, “MAKE MIKE BOONE NEVER AGAIN WISH CAREY PRICE WOULD GET SMOKED FOR A BUNCH OF GOALS JUST BEFORE AN AWAY GAME IN NEW JERSEY, THEREBY TEMPTING FATE!!!”

    ;)

  16. Mike Boone says:

    Chill, bro.
    It’s all part of the master plan.

  17. Sbah Reverof says:

    “And I’d like to see him smoked for five or six goals and pulled from a game, just so we can assess how well he bounces back from that kind of adversity.”
    So, Mike, uh, who will win the Super Bowl?

  18. Mike Boone says:

    Ummmm …. I’m going way out on a limb here: New England.


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