About last night …

One Alaskan went to bed happy last night: Sarah Palin.

Scott Gomez?

Not so much.

I’ve been reluctant to join the Gomez-bashers, including Richard Labbé and Bertrand Raymond.

But a cliché you hear a lot as it pertains to winning hockey is “your best have to play like your best.”

Scott Gomez is not the best player on the Montreal Canadiens.

But he’s the highest-paid, so let’s modify the dictum slightly:

“The guy making the most money has to play like he’s earning it.”

You could make the argument this will never happen with Gomez. His cap hit is $7,357,143 – for this season and three more.

And they key to appreciating his game is ignoring the salary while you watch Gomez. He’s a great skater, a conscientious defensive centre (having come up in the New Jersey system) and, until this season, a creative playmaker.

But the season is still young. There are still 70 games for Scott Gomez to put his game together, and no reason for short-term panic.

But the Canadiens are in a mini-slump, and we’ll be removing the qualifier if Gomez doesn’t get going … and bring his old Devils teammate along with him.

Brian Gionta is fifth in the league with 47 shots on goal.

One has gone in, and the Captain may be facing the Confidence Crisis that can occur when a scorer stops scoring.


My friend Arpon Basu wonders if we’re seeing the real Canadiens.

The first 10 games and the team’s 7-3-1 record may have elevated expectations beyond what they were when training camp began, i.e. “Let’s pray they make the playoffs, but let’s be realistic: they could finish 12th.”

It doesn’t make for a Montreal Canadiens fan’s realism to evaporate. Through October the team won consistently – until last night, the Canadiens hadn’t sustained consecutive Ls – without Andrei Markov and with an anemic power play.

Markov is back, and the Canadiens have not won since his return. A bad second period on Long Island Friday night was the harbinger of a worse 60 minutes against Florida and a butt-kicking in Columbus.

The Blue Jackets’ best played like their best: Former first-round draft choices Rick Nash and Derick Brassard had goals, the spectacular Jakub Voracek two assists.

The Canadiens had a 29-24 shot advantage, but the stat is misleading. Mathieu Garon, the latest Québécois goaltender to Jacques Plante them, saw everything, had good rebound control and was rarely under any sustained pressure. Through heir recent travails, the Canadiens haven’t been getting second chances to score.

The goaltender at the other end was pretty good. Some of the Commentariat have criticized Carey Price’spositioning on the third Columbus goal, but certainly Nash’s laser would have beaten any goaltender in the league (cue 25 Comments claiming Jaro Halak would have stopped it), and the Brassard goal was a power-play tic-tac-toe after a defensive breakdown that started with Josh Gorges bumping into Brian Gionta.

It was imperative for Carey Price to start the season well. He did, and the team played a solid defensive system that limited opposition’s shots-on-goal.

That element of the Canadiens’ game remains intact. Columbus’s 24 shots is not the kind of 40-plus bombardment Price and Halak routinely faced last season.

There are other positives going forward:

Jeff Halpern’s line, with Benoit Pouliot and Mathieu Darche might have been the Canadiens’ best last night. Tomas Plekanec’s line wasn’t, but whomever he centres is going to get scoring chances. Pleks is that good.

Jacques Martin juggled his lines in the third period, and it seemed to pay dividends; though you could argue Columbus had the game won at that point and was easing off the throttle.

Andrei Kostitsyn played well with Gomez and Gionta. Lars Eller did not look out of place with Plekanec and Cammalleri.

Jacques Martin might be too conservative to change his top two lines for Friday’s game in Buffalo. But the Travis Moen experiment ought to be terminated, and something has to be done to get G&G untracked.

The interesting personnel moves will come on D. Roman Hamrlik and Jaro Spacek looked old and slow – as did Hal Gill –  against skilled, speedy 20somethings like Brassard and Voracek. There were indications, heading into Columbus, that Spatch would sit out; but the coach had a game-day change of heart.

Maybe we’ll see Alexandre Picard against the Sabres. A shakeup of the pairing wouldn’t hurt, and it might help.

There were some moments last night when we were treated to vintage Markov. A couple times he swooped in from the left point on the power play, only to shoot wide or high on opportunities he usually buries.

The team’s best player – with an asterisk, the way Pleks is earning his money – will get better as Markov plays more games.

And the power play, which is currently the NHL’s worst, has to improve, right?

The Canadiens have too much talent for the PP to be this crappy. But do they have the talent to correct two notable power-play shortcomings: no Franzenesque net presence and, in the otherwise spectacular P.K. Subban, a scatter-gun shot from the right point that the kid telegraphs with his wind-up every time.

The Blue Jackets blocked 24 shots (to eight for the Canadiens), which tells me the Canadiens were kept to the perimeter and firing into a sea of sticks, with predictable futility.

Anyway, that was the last visit to Columbus until the 2012-13 season …. by which time there may not be a franchise there.

•  •  •

Will the team be as good as it was in October?.

The schedule continues to favour the Canadiens because Buffalo and Ottawa are not Washington and Philadelphia.

The back-to-back set at the end of the week will be a test of whether the Canadiens can recapture the mojo of their fast start – or, let’s be honest, continue to play like the team many fans dreaded before the puck dropped in Toronto on Oct. 7.




  1. Chorske says:

    OMG I could not disagree more with this post.

  2. Mr.Hazard says:

    Wow, the Caps looks crappy tonight.

  3. HabFanSince72 says:

    Leafs have come back from 3-1 down to take a 4-3 lead in the 3rd.

    I’m no Leaf fan but anything bad that happens to Ovie, Bruce  Boudreau, and Mike Green is good news to me.


  4. Bob_Sacamano says:

    I don´t know. Breaking up the first line is one thing but why put Kostitsyn on the second line instead of Cammalleri? Kostitsyn had to play LW (I know, he has before but I think he´s better on the right) with Gomez and Gionta, Cammalleri is a LW…

  5. Will Longlade says:

    Nice post! 100% in agreement.

  6. Danno says:

    Twelve games have been played. That represents roughly $1 million in pay for Scott Gomez.

    That’s a lot of dough for such little show.


    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  7. NCRhabsfan says:

    Gomez will look good playing in a Hamilton jersey against the likes of Redden and Souray, other ex-NHLers who are perhaps good enough to still play in the NHL, but no longer worthy of the cap hit they represent. It’s time to end the Gomez experiment, he’s a boat anchor because of his salary. Surely we have a kid in Hamilton that can muster 1 goal and two assists per 12 games, not take as many stupid penalties, perhaps get Gionta going and best of all, free up 3.5 million bucks to get someone that can actually score a goal or two. Eat the salary and free up the space already!

  8. New says:

    Timo, you are exactly correct. If the expectation was that he score as much as Pyratt, or Lapierre say, then we would all be simply wondering why he is paid so much. There is no provision under the CBA for him to decline or renegotiate his pay lower. What is, is. He is too small to bull his way into the crease and stay there. His ability is to move the puck fast and find the guy in scoring position. So he is either not playing to his ability or some people are not in scoring position. Love Gionta but he’s not burying them. And the other wing of the moment isn’t either.

  9. HardHabits says:

    A Gomez bashing ALN and not a comment from SmartDog! Is his absence an indication that he is gloating?

  10. Timo says:

    I agree. For an underpaid tiny little guy we are all way too hard on him. The expectations should be that he gets about 10 points and stop expecting miracles.

  11. Chuck says:

    I hear that the folks in Pittsburgh will buy $40 bottles of “melted Mellon Arena ice water”.

    Centre Hice: Major blackout hits Montreal

  12. Chorske says:

    Great. Thanks. Cat’s out of the bag- how am I gonna pay off my student loans now?

  13. New says:

    I think we’re all too hard on Gomez. I think on several teams he would be doing great. If the Canadiens had big, lumbering wingers who crashed to the net Gomez would be racking up the points. Right now everyone wants to play cute, dipsy doodle around, and play on the perimeter. You don’t much score from there. The first goals, the big goals, usually come from hard work in close. That opens the ice for the cutsy plays. Close games…well cute doesn’t cut it.


  14. HabFanSince72 says:

    Finally Martin woke up last night and moved Kostitsyn to that line …

    Finally I’ve had enough of Martin and his line switching, …


  15. Chuck says:

    The parade is free. You out-of-towners always get duped into buying tickets.  🙂

    Centre Hice: Major blackout hits Montreal

  16. VancouverHab says:

    I really like the new-&-improved (and still at the low-low-price of free) morning-after “About Last Night.”

    Now that Mr. Boone has come out of the closet as an open–but not quite flamboyant–Gomez-basher, the specific question can be asked: what are actually asking him to do? “Get better?” Gee, that’s not too helpful. Gomez wants Gomez to get better more than you want Gomez to get better. Doesn’t it ‘click’ that since Gionta has so many shots this year that he’s getting them from Gomez? He ain’t getting ’em from Moen, that’s for sure. A poster today points out that Gomez is the type of player that excells when a scorer (Gionta) finishes, and another player rounds out (Elias).

    My answer is actually put in terms of Hall Gill. Read all the posts today bashing Gill for being too old/slow/incompetant. Now go back last year and find EXACTLY the same posts about Gill. Then go to the posts during the playoffs last year and find one beautiful comment here that sticks in my mind: “At the start of the season I worried whenever Gill was on the ice. Now I worry whenever Gill is not on the ice.”

    In other words, we panic like hens here whenever things aren’t going immediately well. We need — and the sportwriter should give ballast here — balance, rationality, and much longer perpective. Gomez–like Gio, Gill & Cammi — will be very fine for us in the final analysis, just like last year. (And Gomez contract is irrelevant — merely a handy and simplistic stick to beat a ready target with…)


    “….it is entirely possible to argue genuine differences of policy and values with conviction and passion while avoiding personal insult.” Ed Broadbent.

  17. bertuzzisucks says:

    Call up Desharnais-2nd line center. (I dont want to hear the rubbish-he’s not strong enough-he will get points in the nhl one day)

    Put gomez on 3rd line

    waive Boyd

    Sign Bergeron and waive Spacek-send him to Hamilton cause hes obviuosly not going to get picked up

  18. notbigbird says:

    Where do you usually throw up?

  19. Greg says:

    This should cheer everybody up.  Hilarious.



    “I lined up next to him at a faceoff, looked over and said “Hi Rocket”. All he did was growl.”

    -Gordie Howe

  20. nick says:

    I’m sorry but your wrong.

    Price is payed 2.75 or so to stop pucks.

    The forwards are being paid a collective 35 million to put the puck in the other teams net.

    Whats the bigger problem here?

  21. OverseasFan says:

    You’re right. Even on this site, people were like “Can’t wait till Markov is back! He’ll instantly fix our PP which is the worst in the league!”

    Of course, no one guy can fix that if the team isn’t holding together, certainly not a guy coming off of months of rehab. He needs time, and everyone else has to shape up.


    Go Habs Go!

  22. Mr.Hazard says:

    Nice! Loving the Quick Hits AND About Last Night…

    Thanks Booner.

  23. TripleX says:

    A gentle dig at Mr. Boone’s “Don’t Panic”  comment. xD


    ‘Cogito ergo doleo’

  24. Chuck says:

    I’m not sure if your avatar makes sense. We need the Habs to be willing to hit the ice hard, not avoid it.


    Centre Hice: Major blackout hits Montreal

  25. TripleX says:

    MATHMAN, begs to differ. He seems to think we dominated the game and should not worry.  HIO is sooooooo confusing!


    ‘Cogito ergo doleo’

  26. TripleX says:

    Gomez for THREE more years Mr. Boone?  I think I threw up a little in my mouth.


    ‘Cogito ergo doleo’

  27. Chuck says:

    We score ZERO goals, generate scoring chances that a three-fingered amputee could count on one hand, and you’re blaming the goaltending?

    Centre Hice: Major blackout hits Montreal

  28. HabFanSince72 says:

      Hal Gill is finally being recognized as too slow



  29. punkster says:

    On the other hand, CP was the least our our problems last night. Apart from the trainer who did an excellent job handing out towels the entire team sucked road apples. 

  30. habber86 says:

    good point…

  31. Xtrahabsfan says:

    This site blows me away…..Don’t criticize Jebus Price but slam all the other players “4th floor “!Last nights loss was a team affair,period!Carey Price can make the flashest,prettiest saves ever but if we lose ,it’s for show and NO GO!Besides ,Carey’s got to start to stay square with his post “Man he goes wide!”And as for the rest …no surprise here “the D is weak and our forwards are too small!” …It’s nice to see we addressed this  issues in the off season???

    So do any of you see a play-off Stanley Cup winner here or is there another 5 year plan a  comming?


  32. sidhu says:

    Subbie should use a snapper from the point on the PP, which he did a few games ago and seemed to generate some chances in front of the net.

    The lack of a big presence in the crease area is a recurring problem.  We need a big body and as much as I credit Gio for trying to be Franzen, he just isn’t.

    Eller is a big, willing body — he could fill the void in the meantime, even though he doesn’t seem to have amazing hands. 

    Picard deserves to play, Spaceman should sit.  I’d also consider calling up White for some energy, and maybe even waiving Boyd.

  33. MathMan says:

    This team has gone a long way.

    This year the team can outshoot someone 29-25, out-attempt them 65-40, and it gets called “mailing it in”.

    Last year, we’d let a 40-20 shot shellacking (80-40 on shot attempts) pass almost without comment, because it was so common.

    Standards have gone way up. This is a good sign. 😉

  34. Chuck says:

    Everyone sees the game a little differently. No reason to run panicked through the streets.

    Centre Hice: Major blackout hits Montreal

  35. Chuck says:

    Unfortunately had to miss the game last night. Fortunately it sounds like I didn’t miss much.


  36. Arrow77 says:

    It’s easy to understand what’s happening: almost all of our offense this year have came from either Plekanec or Kostitsyn. They spend two games without scoring and the rest of the team can’t come up with more than one goal!

    Gomez, Gionta and Cammalleri have to start producing soon if we want to have a good season because those two players aren’t good enough to carry the team on their own!

  37. bobinsask says:

    It’s going to take some time for the overpaid, under-achieving contracts to work their way through the system.  Hal Gill is finally being recognized as too slow while Spacek and Hamrlik have clearly seen their skill diminish.  We can afford to have one of those guys on the roster, but not all three.

    I am sure history will look back on the Gomez trade as a blunder.  If he was high priced but contributing or low priced and not contributing it would be palatable.  He and his play are the worst of both worlds.  Looking back at old Ranger blogs, it was the same thing.  The cry of the day was that Gomez needed better wingers to be effective.  Clearly they weren’t happy with his play.  How did our management miss that?

  38. Timo says:

    So much doom and gloom. I am selling my tickets to the parade.

  39. Richrebellion says:

    I have been watching the Gomez line closely the past couple of games and Gomez hasn’t been the biggest problem. Let’s face it last year gomez didn’t score much and he isn’t paid to score, he’s paid to create. I think the problem has been gionta, he has had scoring chances as his 47 shots show just hasn’t scored. Its easy to blame gomez but i think the 2 problems are the wingers. First off Gionta recently has looked off, he’s missing open nets and isn’t getting to the open spaces. In my opinion he was the worst player on that line last night, he stays to the outside and never breaks away from coverage. Gomez tries to get him the puck but he just isn’t open. 

    The other problem is the other winger, other teams know exactly where gomez is going and its easy to cover 1 man. Finally Martin woke up last night and moved Kostitsyn to that line and they had some chances. It gave room to Gionta and gave Gomez another passing option. They need a scoring winger and I’m still confused as to why Pouliot is not on that line? They had such good chemistry last year and at one point they were our best line. He is a big body and has a great scoring touch. Martin has to just settle down and let them find their game together. 

    Finally I’ve had enough of Martin and his line switching, he has a good system but no patience to let guys gel together. The main reason that line isn’t scoring is him, wake up put pouliot on the line and let them go. It might take a couple of games but they will get going and they will score. 

  40. geo_habsgo says:

    Judging by last years playoffs I think it is obvious that Habs are just the ultimate spoiler team. How often do the Habs play a bottom dwelling team (Not saying Columbus is a bottom dweller btw) that they should dismantle only to be embarrassed? It seems like whenever they play against a team like the Penguins or any upper tier team we really show up and steal the show. Strange little thing I’ve noticed and I’m sure other’s have as well. 

  41. nick says:

    I get the impression now that Markovs back, everyone kind of feels someone else is going to do their job for them so to speak. No one would admit it… But when you have a player of Markov’s talent come back to the line up, folks tend to think things are going to be a little easier… More will happen. Heck, fans have been saying it for the last month or so, “once Markov’s gets back, XYZ will get better”.

    If players think like this, then consequently make one less hit, one less blocked shot, win one less battle… It adds up. Hopefully last nights loss will restore a sense of urgency.

  42. krob1000 says:

    I am an admitted Gomez contract/deal basher…Gomez not so much.  I posted this last night after the game but Gomez I thought actually played well….desptie waht everyone else said.  I thought he looked like he cared and he developed instant chemistry with AK46.  Gomez is a very simple player, he is  a defensive mind, puck carrier and distributor.  He is very quick and does have very good vision.  Players playing against him know he will not shoot though…he stickhandles side to side and is never a threat to shoot….this right away puts him at a disadvantage…fortunately he has demonstrated he is stilla good enough passer to get the job done over his career.  The problem of him basically having two options…left or right is his own doing and it doesn;t appear is going to change.  The two options? that is on us….if we are going to play to his strengths then I believe it is Gomez…not Pleks…who is capableof crating his own space and shots…taht needs two scroing wingers.  If you look at Gomez’ career his best seasons came when he had Elias and Gio, when he played with us his best results were when he played with Cammi and Gio or when POuiot was hot.  The common thread …two options.  Becaause he is not a threat to shoot…and he essentially has Brian Gionta to pass to…..he will not be efffective offensively.  He stil does other things well…..but he NEEDS two options….


    I really liked putting Eller with Pleks and Cammi for a while.  Breaking up our top line? I really don;t think it matters becasue Pleks has the ability to play well with anyone with talent and Cammi and Eller would be plenty.  I liked that experiment and would like to see more of it.  Of course Eller with Gio and Gomez could work too.

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