About last night …

Weber or Subban?

That’s the question that will preoccupy sports talk radio in Montreal today. It may even come up on Mitch Melnick’s afternoon show on the Team 990, during which Dave Stubbs and I pinch-hit for His Mitchness this afternoon.

The show begins at 3 p.m., so I’ve got till then to formulate some advice for Jacques Martin.

Should be alter an effective lineup after one of the Canadiens’ rare wins in New Jersey?

If P.K. Subban plays, who sits?

The other hot issue on the day’s agenda is Andrei Markov.

There is credible indication, as we say here at the C(anadiens) I(ntelligence) A(gency, that a high-level meeting today will determine the injured defenceman’s status going forward. Attendees likely will include Don Meehan, Markov’s high-powered agent, general manager Pierre Gauthier and team physician Dr. David Mulder.

The upshot will be a decision on whether to put Markov on long-term injury reserve. This would free up an additional $4 million in salary cap space for the Canadiens. It would give Gauthier money to play with should the GM try to bolster his lineup now or at the trade deadline.

They’ll also talk about Markov’s future – which is in jeopardy.

The Canadiens’ best and, it must be said, most frequently injured player will be 32 next month. Markov is facing a second surgery on the right knee that was repaired during the summer.

The timing couldn’t be worse for Markov, whose current contract ends this season.

Does Gauthier re-sign him? And for how much?

One need look no farther than Ottawa for an example of a superbly-conditioned Russian athlete who has bounced back from knee problems.

But Markov plays a more physically demanding game than countryman Alex Kovalev. Can he ever again be the Markov we know and love?

The Canadiens D corps played superbly last night. It was only one game, but Yannick Weber looked an awful lot like an NHL-ready defenceman.

Weber deserves to play against San Jose tomorrow afternoon. So who’s the odd man out if Subban returns after a one-game penance?

Alexandre Picard played almost 16 minutes last night and delivered what we’re accustomed to seeing from him: smart puckhandling, adroit pinches, few mistakes – the kind of Dman play that pleases his coach.

Josh Gorges is playing with some sort of undisclosed injury. But the Canadiens ironman won’t want to miss a game against his original team.

I would sit Subban again.

Yes, he is the future of the possibly Markov-less Canadiens. But P.K. has to modify his high-risk/high-reward style to some degree.

This is the NHL. At this level of hockey, mistakes by defenceman are costly – even against teams like the Edmonton Oilers (Luke Schenn was minus-3 last night).

Would another game in the pressbox sap Subban’s confidence?

You’ve got to be kidding. An amputation wouldn’t affect this kid’s self-belief.

And please, spare me the hand-wringing about the Canadiens screwing up young talent.

For all his travails, Carey Price has turned out pretty good, wouldn’t you say?

Jacques Martin has brought Lars Eller along slowly. And in his 33rd NHL game, Eller was First Star spectacular last night.

Weber looks like two seasons in Hamilton have helped his game. And Max Pacioretty is tearing up the AHL.

So what bright budding star has this team mishandled?

Christopher Higgins?

P.K. Subban is going to be the Canadiens’ best defenceman in the post-Markov era … whenever that begins.

But he’s not the second coming of Bobby Orr just yet.

And turning P.K. into the defenceman he can be is a process in which I have a lot of faith in Jacques Martin and the organization.

•  •  •

Enough about the D.

How ’bout dem forwards?

I liked all four lines last night, and Martin was able to distribute ice time against a woeful New Jersey team that was down 2-0 after 98 seconds.

It wasn’t long ago we were singing the praises of the PhD line, but you have to love Eller with Benoit Pouliot and Mathieu Darche: a creative playmaker, a digger and a talented scorer.

So just who are the Top Six on this team?

I likes Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri last night, after both were meh against Edmonton.

But they need a winger with better hands than are affixed to Travis Moen’s hard-working arms.

Max-Pac under the Christmas tree?

•  •  •

My friend Arpon Basu is always a great read, and he’s got an interesting analysis of what the Canadiens might do if Markov is on LTIR.


  1. HardHabits says:

    Says HIO’s newest troll.

    HI/O member for: 2 weeks 2 days

    This post makes me think of what Don Cherry and Mike Richards said about PK Subban. You need to earn respect here before you can talk smack to me. I paid my dues. You. Probably another Tony clone.

    Try again, in 2 years, if you don’t get banned by then.

  2. HardHabits says:

    Fair enough. I am one to bury the hatchet, albeit sometimes in my adversaries. 😉

    If you are not the Tony everybody refers to then so be it. I accept your word.

    I don’t know if you read these pages last season but I was commonly referred to as the tank guy. I was so fed up with the Habs squandering picks, trading them, always trying their damnest to make the playoffs every season at best as an also ran, then watching expansion teams like Tampa Bay and Anaheim win Cups and then seeing teams like Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago snag all the top players after successive years of tanking, all financed by Canadian fans, that I just got fed up and threw in the towel.

    I’ve been a fan since ’73. Back then my favourite player was the Pocket Rocket and afterwards Yvan Cournoyer. I vividly remember Robinson taking down Dave Schutz and loved the way the Habs handled the Broad Street Bullies in ’76. My point with that is that I have lived through some dark times as a Habs fans. For the 1st time in a while I get the sense that the Habs are in a slow rebuild but at the same time are competitive.

    Martin is a good coach. The only thing his Senators teams missed was quality goaltending. Well. Geuss what? He has it now. At least this season I get the sense that this team can go all the way, even if a few tweaks are required. I haven’t been able to say that since Roy was on the team.

    I think critical thinking is paramount to humanity’s progress. Without it we stagnate. However, I have learned that if it is encapsulated in negativity and not positivism it becomes worse than stagnation but a downword spiral dragging everything down with it.

    I am passionate at times but I do my best to be objective. What’s the value of a sparring partner if victory is certain? Let’s debate ideas. Sometimes though I take things a bit personal, however as stated above, I can let things go and move on.


  3. Chris says:

    Ugh…I did it AGAIN!  I meant 2011-12 season, not 2010-11.  My fingers are apparently not correcting my brain today.  And I misread your post…I see your point now about the 45+ shots.  My brain is in a fog today.

    I agree that Markov is done until 2012.  I doubt he will be done for good…two injuries to the same knee is certainly a potential disaster.  But I know far too many soccer and ultimate frisbee players who are still trucking away after multiple surgeries to repair blown out knees to not maintain some hope for Markov.

    I agree that the Habs PP could be reset to take advantage of the tools we have, but then I look at the team and wonder what formation/strategy would work better.  The problem with the Habs is that they have no player that seems willing to go to the front of the net.  Unless you’ve got a bomb for a shot, that makes the goalie’s job so very easy.

    I don’t know what big forwards with some modicum of offensive ability might be available via trade, but without one of those, I’m not sure what strategies they can use.  NHL goalies are too good to beat with long shots when they can see the puck the whole time.

  4. HardHabits says:

    Two separate dependancies.

    The 35+ shots against made the Habs dependant on their goaltender.

    The cannon from the blue line is the other dependancy on which the PP rested upon.

    I said over the summer, and PrimeTime ran with it, that goaltending cannot be the Habs bread and butter. They need to play a solid defensive game, team defense as it’s been coined here. They’re doing that now and Price is looking great because and in spite of it.

    I also stated recently, in regards to all the MAB hysteria, that the power play needs to use the tools it has and get creative and stop depending on the Souray/Streit/Schneider syndrome.

    Nevertheless, Weber fills the role of what the Habs need back there anyways, but I still prefer less dependancy on that one aspect, because when it’s removed the PP% plummets. Having a strong PP without the cannon makes the cannon all the more useful as it becomes one of many weapons in the Habs arsenal.

    Markov is done, maybe for good but at least for 1.5 years. He wont be back this season and if he comes back it wont be until 2012. Habs need to move on. It’s the reality, unfortunately.


  5. ctony says:


    Glad you responded. 
    For what it’s worth, I swear on
    any stack of your favourite bible, I am not habs_guru.  Hopefully this means we can have kind of
    thoughtful, fact-based discussion that I enjoy on this site.  If you think it would better to change my
    handle for safety’s sake, then I’ll do it.


    Thanks for sending the link on the Habs draft record. I’ll
    read it carefully and respond, responsibly. 


    Some of what you said happened.  I’m living in the US right now and deal with
    a lot of the finance guys.  Trust me on
    this one, way too much easy money and we’re all the paying the piper.  No real economic growth, no real
    inflation-adjusted personal income. 
    Everyone was living large re-financing their housing and
    businesses.  They sucked all the equity
    out of the system and spent it on disposable stuff.



  6. twocents says:

    Based on….?

  7. Chris says:

    No way Montreal gets Parise without giving up Subban and more.  An RFA means that you still own his rights, so it is not your standard rental.  A young superstar in the NHL is going to cost you a LOT of assets, more than Montreal has to offer.

  8. Chris says:

    Given that the team gave up 35+ shots only 23 times out of the 82 regular season games, I think you might be exaggerating the effect of the Habs dependancy on a defensive liability cannon from the point.

    And I wasn’t clear in my original post, which created some misunderstanding.  I was not talking about this season, nor was Eric in his post.  We were both addressing Markov’s status for next season (2010-11) with the Habs, as many are questioning whether it makes sense to sign him due to his recent injury history.

  9. RetroMikey says:

    I was talking about MAB just to make everyone happy here that we need a PP specialist since MArkov is gone.

    MAB is a defensive liability but he would come cheap and help us on the PP since none of our overpaid smurfs are scoring.

    And we need another big skilled CMan.

    But the main priority is a physical DMan.



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

  10. DearyLeary says:

    At the same time I want him to work for his spot.  The first time we brought him up he was supposedly ahead of the development curve, and he kind of floundered in the NHL.  He’s tearing up the AHL right now, but I don’t know if he’s ready for a full-time second line job.  

    Frankly, I think that best case scenario at the deadline we see a deal for a strong right winger to fill out Cammy/Gomez/________, and Pacioretty sticks with the club and can play with Eller and Pouliot.  

    That’s contingent on a lot of things, but that would give us three solid lines with players who can score goals, and with the likes of Halpern, Darche, Moen, and Lapierre we’ve got a solid contingent of checking style players.  

    That would be my best case scenario (aside from Markov being able to stay healthy).

  11. HardHabits says:

    Tony, Tony, Tony. Nice try. If you are not, habs_guru than you made a serious mistake taking ctony as your handle.


    Study Proves Canadiens Draft Record Over The Years Among The NHL’s Best



    1. The downturn is due to mismanagment and corruption. The US is living beyond it’s means and doesn’t manufacture anytghing but weapons.

    2. CEO’s are criminals for the most part and get paid way more than they are worth. They steal money from stockholders. Have stockholders vote on salaries, severance packages and stock options and watch as the playing field gets levelled. How anybody could defend these crooks is besides me.

    3. Adam Smith? I am talking relativity and you’re trotting out Isaac Newton. Hilarious!!!



  12. Mike Boone says:

    As always, a breath of fresh air blows in from the west …

  13. Mike Boone says:

    At this stage of his development, Max-Pac has to play more than a game now and then.

  14. Caper says:

    It’s Andrew Krystal from the Fan 590 in TO.

  15. Caper says:

    Fan 590 with Andrew Krystal. He’s been going postal on the laffs all week.

  16. Ayan_SB says:

    You’d sit Subban again?

    Boone, did you watch the Sharks-Sens game last night? Cause they’re not the Devils. We need Subban against a team like San Jose.

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