About last night …

Your Montreal Canadiens just aren’t good enough to coast.

Thirty minutes of intensity – even against the lowly Edmonton Oilers – wasn’t good enough, and the result was the second two-goal lead blown on home ice within 10 days.

It’s one thing to fold aganst Philadelphia.

But Edmonton?

Not a good way to begin a tough month – and as my friend Arpon Basu writes, you have to start worrying about the team’s woeful inconsistency.

It’s been two weeks since the Canadiens won two games in a row.

It’s been a month since consecutive losses, but that streak is in jeopardy tonight in the unfriendly confines of United Arena.

If the Canadiens play like they did in the late stages of the game against the Oilers, New Jersey will smoke ‘em … even without Martin F.

And if they miss the playoffs by a point, the Canadiens will be looking back to a home game against Edmonton as one that got away and bollocksed their season.

The Canadiens had been 11-1-1 when leading after two periods this season. Edmonton was 1-11-2 when trailing.

So what happened?

And why did it all seem so inevitable. The momentum swing was palpable after Edmonton’s second goal, and the only question was precisely how the Oilers would tie the game.

The answer: In your face!

P.K. Subban dicked around, as the rookie tends to do, at the blueline on a power play. The kid fell down, Sam Gagner wheeled away and we were on to OT.

Brutal – as was Mike Cammalleri’s turnover on the winning goal.

I’m not ready to join Brian Wilde in throwing Cammalleri under the team bus. But he’s been out of sorts – Cammalleri, not Wilde – since being demoted (the only way to put it) to Scott Gomez’s line, and the lack of effort in pursuing Dustin Penner was both obvious and dismaying.

While visions of that screw-up roiled our sleep, Tony Marinaro – who has solid sources on this story – Tweeted that Andrei Markov will be having knee surgery … again.

“Partial tear ACL graft rt knee, large radial tear lateral meniscus, bone contusions & mod. knee joint effusion” is Dr. Tony’s diagnosis. The surgery will be performed by Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedic heavyweight )Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Albert Pujols, Drew Brees), in Birminhma, Ala., and Markov could be out for up to a year.

This is the last season of Markov’s contract.

Any advice for Pierre Gauthier?

Does the long-term absence of Markov mean the team we see in New Jersey tonight is the roster that will wear the bleu-blanc-rouge for the rest of the season?

And is it good enough to maintain the Canadiens’ lofty position in the standings?

Fact: The Canadiens have not been able to string consecutive wins since Markov was injured in the 7-2 blowout over Carolina on Nov. 16. They won the first game without him, 3-0 over the Flyers, but have lost and won on an alternating basis in the seven games since.

P.K. tries on the power-play – I found him very trying last night, bada-boom – but he isn’t Andrei Markov … at least not yet.

Roman Hamrlik will pinch adroitly and score the occasional goal, like his milestone 150th last night, but he isn’t Markov, either.

The Canadiens have played .500 hockey without their best defenceman. Maintaining that pace over the rest of the schedule will net them 89 points.

The team snuck into the playoffs last season with 88, so maybe .500 hockey will punch the Canadiens a ticket to the dance.

But that’s a premature projection. There’s a lot of hockey to be played … and no way to predict whether Markov’s will be the last serious injury the team sustains.

Playing their best for 60 minutes, even without Markov, the Canadiens have demonstrated they are better than a .500 team. They’ve got a great goaltender and a system that’s effective when everyone busts butt between the national anthem and the final siren.

Any lapse of effort or intensity, however, and things get muy ugly in a hurry.

Tonight’s game will be telling.

No Martin F., and a bounce-back is imperative.

 

 

 

44 Comments

  1. patience is a virtue says:

    I am beginning to seriously question the quality of analysis and writing here at HIO.  It’s as if you’re getting sucked in by all the naysayers who pop their grumpy heads back up to post whenever our team blows one, bashing the smurfs, the coach, the system, gomez’s contract, whatever.  Or perhaps it’s just been too long since the Habs were a contender for some to believe in this team.  I mean deep down believe.  Don’t wanna get heartbroken all over again, etc.  Fair enough. 

     

    Such troubles as last night should not, however, shake the foundations of our faith.  Because:

    a) Um, we are first place in division and two points back of the fearsome Flyers and Penguins, with a game in hand on each.  Dec has games against strong teams (Wings, Flyers, Bruins, Stars, Caps, Bolts), and games against weak teams (Devils, Sens, Leafs, Ilses and Panthers) .  In the age of parity there may be strong teams and weak teams, but any team can beat any team on any given night.  And the young up and coming Oilers just happen to be getting hot, while our hot team is having a bit of a lull.

    b) We went 7-2-1 before Markov returned, and only 4-3 with him.  Yes, he was improving his own play and the Habs play game-by-game before going down; yes he is our best defenceman, maybe still our best player; but the team has proved it is deep enough to win consistently without him.  In the playoffs, and this season.

    c) Price is an elite NHL goalie and Andrei K is the power forward we’ve been waiting for – I don’t think either of these trends are going to change for many years to come.

    d) Pleks has become a bonafide 1st line centre – no question about it.  Gionta is warming up on his wing.  Gomez has had a slower than usual start, but I see no reason why he won’t turn it on in December.  Cam sucked last night, may be a little frustrated, but he is playing ok and will play better.

    e) More importantly, we have two very good rookies, despite PK’s errors last night, who will only improve as the season progresses.

    f) You can bet that Goat will make a move if Markov is indeed out for the year.  That move will only help.

     

    The future is bright for this team, as long as most of the rest of our best players stay healthy.  You can’t predict that, so there’s no point being a downer about a division leading club that has played a couple of weeks of .500 hockey.  Shutting out the Flyers and beating the Kings handily should balance out any analysis of the Habs fortunes since Markov went down again.

    If you want to read less reactionary and negative post-game analyses try Lions in Winter http://www.lionsinwinter.ca/

     

  2. HardHabits says:

    What makes me sick is that this loss is Don Cherry’s fault. He’s gotten into PK’s head. PK needs to get back to what he was doing when he came into the league, giving nobody respect!!!

  3. CHasman says:

    Cammalleri coughed up the puck of both of the last two goals.  To my eyes, on the last goal it looked like he was saying, that was your fault Pk, you fix it because he sure didn’t do anything to chase down Penner.  At least Gomez has a good attitude but something is wrong with Cammalleri that he has to change.  If we want to have that 2nd top line we need to play a better offensive forward on that line.

  4. rbby_habs says:

    re: Cammalleri

    I feel for Cammy. It’s not that he’s playing poorly…it’s that Gomez is just killing his season. Gomez is a liability to the team, and to individual success for his teammates.

    He makes awkward passes, at the wrong time, and it’s difficult for Cammy to make anything happen with the plays Gomez is trying to set up. He doesn’t really pass the puck to his teammates….but it seems that he throws the puck at them without them expecting it, and hopes they can make the best of it.

    What would I like to see?
    1) Bench Gomez for one game. Hopefully that will wake him up
    2) Try Ellar w/ Cammy. I think there’s potential there.

  5. bwoar says:

    And if they miss the playoffs by a point, the Canadiens will be looking back to a home game against Edmonton as one that got away and bollocksed their season.”

    Ugh, you just keep giving the suicide crowd more blank looseleaf to write on.  Y’know, the juvenile poetry of despair.  Only it comes dressed up as furry animals and hates on Scott Gomez instead of the evil ‘they’ who made 8th grade such a pain.  But they were so much fun to stuff into the dumpster the next year.

  6. VancouverHab says:

    Hmmm….the negativity here after this loss is valid, I think. That wasn’t good: and Mr. Boone is spot-on to say that the team will lose whenever it doesn’t play fast and hard for 60 (or 65, as he says) minutes.

    (Perhaps Markov’s absence is huge?)

    If one must look for blame, I thought that the game changed with Pouliot’s utterly lazy and stupid high stick — that would drive any coach stark raving bonkers. Not that I want to throw P. under any bus — but he has to get way smarter if he wants to fulfiil his potentiality…..

    But in the end I think it’s JM’s show now — he is the man payed to find the answers, and I hope he has the tools to make the right adjustments.  He certainly has the experience — so I say look to there instead of picking over certain players.

     

  7. RockinRey says:

    There is a bigger problem Mr. Boone. The bottom line is the Habs have been inconsistent and the record belies what the team really is about. This team is capable of so much more but have been shut out several times this year already and looked ordinary against teams they should dominate.

    Fans can probably live with a gaffe from Pk from time to time but what is apparent and really frustrating is that this team can’t really score and is in the middle of the pack in that regard. When you are 3-1 you have to be able to push back and weather anything the opposition throws back and be able to burry the opposition. They just couldn’t get that fourth goal.

    They need more depth on D and they need a bona fide number 1 center. How long have we been saying that? It is my hope they can buy out Gomez because he seems very predictable and does not really add much in the way of offense. Admittedly he is a nice passer and can carry the puck but does not get the job done.

    On a separate note Max Patt deserves a look ! They have to find people that can produce consistently and can’t rely on a guy like Darche for offense forever. Find a guy who can finish. A guy who can score every second game on average would be nice.

  8. Chris says:

    No inside information from me, but many of the current Habs were unimpressed with Pacioretty’s comments.  On the other hand, I think people should refrain from blowing it out of proportion…Pacioretty was in sore need of some confidence.  Like Subban last season, it is probably in the Habs’ best interests to not fall prey to the temptation of calling up Pacioretty based on a hot streak.  Let him continue to develop his confidence and cockiness while dominating the AHL so that when he comes up (be it at the end of the season or next year) he KNOWS that he is going to get that top-6 winger spot.

  9. sims says:

    the loss is on cammalleri (and maybe a little pk…but he made rookie mistakes)  #13 embelished a weak trip on the tying goal and had a front row seat for the winner.  he made no effort to get back.  cammy cant beat penner in a foot race?  hes playing like a spoiled brat. 

     

  10. xchicksxwithxsticksx says:

    I don’t even want to read any articles today on the hab’s loss. I’m disappointed with the loss, but i don’t see the point of analysing the sh*t out of the game. a bounce back game is in order, along with back to back wins, please.

  11. likehoy says:

    well i hate cammy’s reaction more than anyone else’s since i’ve been on his back since the beginning of last year

    but i gotta give him the benefit of the doubt cause if subban gave me that pass, i’d be bail too…but maybe not to cammy’s degree

    - Gomez is holding down the suck button

  12. likehoy says:

    i’ve never been a cammalleri fan, but I usually shut up when he’s scoring cause that’s what he’s paid to do

    when he’s not scoring, he’s as bad if not worse than gomez considering cammy has very little on the defensive side of the game.

    I think cammy’s letting the hype and talk get to his head…stuff like “playoff hero” and “captain material”

    he’s gotta stop playing with a self entitlement…he’s gotta earn his minutes like everyone else

    - Gomez is holding down the suck button

  13. Fire_Laraque says:

    Rewatch the way Camy reacted on the last goal.  PK’s pass sucked, but Camy’s reaction was the epitome of suckitude.

  14. Fire_Laraque says:

    Someone as to explain something to me, anyone has privy information on if Patches is in the doghouse because of his comments at the beginning of the season?

  15. likehoy says:

    dunno what people saw but I didn’t think the oilers out played us in the 3rd

    we had equal chances…it’s just that we didn’t play our normally stifling style at the end of the game

    the 3rd and 4th goals were directly related to subban’s miscues…wouldn’t chalk that up to the team not putting effort.

    that’s where carey tells pk he doesn’t deserve the triple low five yet.

    - Gomez is holding down the suck button

  16. Fire_Laraque says:

    I can’t believe how Camalleri reacted on the last goal.  What a pissy way of showing discontent.  I liked Camalleri last year, this year’s version is … well, I think I understand why he never stayed long in any team.

  17. JIMVINNY says:

    I am totally willing to throw Cammalleri under the bus.  Regardless of how bad the pass was, he totally sold out.  He heard the hit coming, and just let the puck go.  Completely inexcusable, and I hope he hears it from the coaches. 

     

    That being said, this Moen-on-the-second-line sh*t has got to end.  Call up Patches, sit Pyatt, and put Moen back on the fourth line, where he belongs.  Cammalleri and Gomez are not going to get anything done with a plugger on their wing.

  18. RiverviewCanadien says:

    Do it Mike.

    Can you give me rights to make posters disappear. I assure you, this site would be in tip-top shape, especially after losses.

  19. InGaineyWeTrust says:

    Carbo doesn’t have the respect of a Jacques Martin, nor does he have the track record. Martin is far from Scotty Bowman, and he’s certainly no Pat Burns (may he rest in peace), but he’s not a bad coach.

  20. InGaineyWeTrust says:

    Talking the team into the dirt with nothing to back it up is a good way to piss off anyone on a Canadiens fanpage, I’d imagine.

     

    And yeah, it is okay for him to rant and rave. If you didn’t notice, his pretty mug’s over on the right of the site there, lookin’ all pretty-like. It means he matters. Frankly, you and I, we don’t. You’re coming into -his- house and taking a crap on -his- rug, and that’s a bad doggy right there.

  21. HardHabits says:

    Yes. But he more than likely logs with other accounts so it’ll only only be one of his accounts gone. This one is particularly annoying.

  22. habsfan2442 says:

    Have to vote for a yes on this one mike.. Make him disappear… 

    brings nothing uslfull to you blog as I see it.

  23. bwoar says:

    Asking that question is answering it, too.  Please, don’t hesitate.

  24. InGaineyWeTrust says:

    Unlike most Habs coaches of the last decade, Martin actually has previous NHL experience, jsyk.

  25. InGaineyWeTrust says:

    You’re not the first and won’t be the last. The internet is in plenty supply of porn and obnoxious users who wouldn’t know their arse from a hole in the ground.

     

    I assume if it were true, you’d give at least some sort of credible evidence to back it up. So far you’ve yet to do anything other than fling poo. When you make statements intelligently and back them up with logic, reason, and evidence, people may actually respond in a way worthy of evolutionary standards. Til then, they’re just gonna fling poo back, ’cause everyone loves snowball fights with monkeys.

  26. OneTimer says:

    Wait ’til right after the next loss (could be tonight?) to ban him, that’ll piss him right off. :)

  27. Mike Boone says:

    I love dogs, but you are this year’s Timo, and you’re starting to piss me off.

  28. RiverviewCanadien says:

    Look pal, show respect to Mike. You are beginning to cross the line.

  29. HabFab says:

    And that is a boone not a bone, so be careful which you chew on!

  30. InGaineyWeTrust says:

    Showing total disrespect is a good way to highlight yourself amongst the other “doom and gloom” posters. Further, backing up your “doom and gloom” is a pretty good way to avoid being called out. If you’re going to say something stupid, at least try to justify it.

     

    Gomez is overpaid, but far from useless.

    Martin hasn’t won a Stanley Cup, but to say he hasn’t won anything in the NHL is asinine. Further, he can obviously motivate the team, as they had a miraculous run last year and are amongst the best in the league this year, so he’s certainly doing something right because you don’t accomplish all of that just with good goaltending alone.

  31. Mike Boone says:

    Whaddaya think, peeps? Should I make him disappear?

  32. HabFab says:

    Wouldn’t that be a “boone giving the dawg the bone??”

  33. habaholic68NJ says:

    Anyone going to the Habs-Devils game tonight at the Prudential Center?  I will be in section 9 row 18 and would love to meet-up with HIO posters before or during the game.

  34. RiverviewCanadien says:

    When Pleks is held off the score sheet, the team seems to shite the bed.

    Pleks is the best player we have, but I wish he did not play so much SH all the time (over 5 min last night). It takes energy away from him to be able to score or setup his wingers. Too much pressure is laid on his shoulders, something has to change.

    BTW Pleks gets 3 points tonight.

    I hope Gomez TOI is reduced and Eller is given the 2nd line role (at least for a few games), I really feel that would work wonders for Cammalleri. Eller is smart with the puck and works hard every shift. He can dangle like the best and on most nights, it appears the puck is glued to his blade. He can generate so much time for his wingers to be in position, and when Mike is in the O-Zone, he is quick and pivots very well…and we all know how his shot is from one knee. Sweet Jeebus I miss those goals, when was the last time he got one like that?

    Come on JM, give the kid a chance. Eller is becoming one of my favs on this team.

  35. VancouverHab says:

    Deleted.

  36. merlin_24cups says:

    I think we are all in agreement that that was the high water mark for P.K. . I don’t want to throw him under the bus either for last nights loss, but his high risk style helped create a great opportunity for Edmonton. (I know that stuff happens every night in the NHL). And most on here know better then me about JM. He has to reign P.K. in more and keep him tighter on the blue line. Had he made that play and kept that puck in they might have created a scoring chance for MTL and been the hero of the night. But like Mike Boone likes to say, He most likley gave JM a heart attack.

     

  37. RetroMikey says:

    I got this feeling in my stomach  that we are headed  for a losing streak this month and after the New Year.

    Teams that underachieved early this season like New Jersey and Carolina for example are just going to get better as ther season progresses.  We better be prepared.

    Great for Plekanec playing defensively but is he worth 5million to be a defensive forward or to score goals?

    Everyone heckles the Leafs blowing the lead to Tampa Bay the previous night, but we fared no better.

    We choked to a team that is a young team in progress.

    Yes, Santa I want a big offensive talented CMan and a brusing big DMan for Xmas.

    We got too many smurfs who are not performing on our team, who are just coasting in the regular season.

     

     

    “We will win the Cup one day only with ? in the nets “

  38. 24 Cups says:

    Some fans will blame the loss on the missed penalty call on Cammalleri or his turnover in OT.  In terms of the technicalities, this loss lands squarely on the shoulders of PK Subban.  He cost them the tying goal and had an indrect influence on the winning goal with his half-assed pass to Cammy.  You could also mention the high, glove side goal on Price (which was a pretty good Oiler shot) although he played a solid game for the most part.  My wife doesn’t watch that much hockey but commented last night that Price must surely be the best Hab.

    The real issue for me was how the Habs let the momentum chance in the last period.  They were playing at home on three days rest against one of the worst teams in the NHL.  A team that started their AHL goalie.  They has the Oilers on the ropes as they dominated the play.  If the Habs score the pivotal 4th goal, Edmonton is history.  Once Montreal backed off, it was just a matter of time and circumstance before Edmonton would even up the match.  Once you go into overtime (or a shoot-out), it’s anybody’s game.

    The Habs let this one slip away.  Plain and simple.  Subban should hang his head, but he’s not alone when it comes to Habs who let down the side.

  39. InGaineyWeTrust says:

    No one should hang their head, least of all Subban. They’re right back at it tonight and they have no chance to. Accept it, get better, and move on. That’s all there is to do.

  40. RGM says:

    There is going to be much doom & gloom and hand-wringing today as everybody seeks to figure out the secret of what went wrong. It’s really very simple: when you stop doing the things that made you successful for the first thirty minutes of the game, you are inviting the other team to come back and steal the game. Everything that the Habs did and did well in the first period and a half last night…they simply stopped doing after the timeout.

    What is very bothersome about that fact is that it’s not the first time that they have done it this year. When you have an opponent on the ropes, you do not let up. You keep your foot on the gas and keep pounding them until it is truly out of reach. It has been said many times in the New NHL that the worst lead to have is a 2-goal lead. Yet on multiple occasions this young season the Habs have got to that point and then started to go into their shell, hoping that Carey Price will be an impenetrable wall while everybody else merely has to run out the clock. It’s not fair to the goalie, and it’s nonsensical to have skill players stop deploying their skills.

    People want to pin this on Subban or Cammalleri or whatever, and that’s fine for people who feel the need to find a scapegoat, but a gaffe that leads to a goal against takes 3 seconds. In an NHL game there are 60 minutes. The game was tied with ample time remaining in the third period. This is the essence of why the Oilers won the game and the Canadiens did not: the Canadiens mustered all of 4 worthwhile shots in the last half of the 3rd period, all of them from behind the faceoff dot and all of them by defencemen. The front 12 contributed NOTHING offensively for the last half of the third period.

    You will not win games in the NHL if your forwards do not get shots on the net in the most critical situations in the game. Period.

    Go Habs Go!

  41. JF says:

    We’ll know we have a really good team when games like last night happen only rarely instead of twice in 10 days.  The team choked, as they did last week against Philly.

    P.K.’s rookie mistake can be forgiven – he’ll certainly improve – but there is reason to be concerned about Mike Cammalleri.  He has been out of sorts all season, and is palpably dissatisfied with his role and reduced scoring chances.  He’s showing his frustration in ways that harm his team.  He needs to take a look in the mirror, tell himself that it’s a long season and things will change.  The lines aren’t set in stone.  If he plays well in the role he’s assigned, he’ll very likely have the chances he’s looking for.  Overall he has been playing well, and he’s much better defensively than last season, but last night was brutal.  I’m starting to wonder if his dissatisfaction over his demotion will lead to his wanting out of Montreal.

    There’s no way .500 hockey will get us to the playoffs.  However, I think it’s a safe bet that Gauthier will make a move if, as seems certain, Markov is out long term.  There’s plenty of time.  I think that as fans, we’re prone to panic because we remember the epic collapse of the team two years ago.  I really can’t see that happening this year.  This group is far more united and has a lot more character than the team that Gainey blew up.  But we’ll certainly need to make changes.

    As for the Markov situation, I can envisage the team signing him to a short contract, which will allow both parties to evaluate his play and see what the future holds for him.  I’m pretty sure he wants to stay in Montreal, and I can’t see any team willing to sign him long term without knowing how he’ll perform coming off a series of injuries.  I hope he stays with the Habs, and, as Subban improves, Markov’s role will be reduced. I think the team should keep both Gill and Hamrlik, if he can be signed at about half his current salary, for another year as I believe it will be very difficult to replace their experience and solid play.  But after that, or next year if that doesn’t happen, there’ll be a changing of the guard on defence, and Markov’s veteran presence will be invaluable.

  42. RiverviewCanadien says:

    Good post.

    I have been feeling the same about Camms, but I hope that is not the case. If so, he should leave.

    Pleks did not pout when he was given a particular role last year in the playoffs and neither should Mike. Lets just hope Camms comes out of the shell tonight and starts scoring/caring again.

    EDIT: not caring is a bar choice of words, I think he gets frustrated too fast and gives up at times.

  43. HabFab says:

    I wonder if some of Cammies problem is that after last years play-off success, he was perhaps invisioning a 50 goal season. He certainly trained hard in the off season, perhaps him and Gomez developed too much muscle…between their ears!

  44. 24 Cups says:

    Jane – In terms of the D for next year, there’s not much help down on the farm, so we either bring back the old guys or dip into the UFA (scroll down) market. That’s what Pittsburgh did (Martin & Michalek) when they let Gonchar leave.  Markov has to realize that the landscape has changed, so hopefully he will be realistic and take a one year deal.  If not, he’s gone and we move on.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.