About last night …

On the way to game yesterday afternoon, I listened to Dany Dubé – my favourite hockey analyst, along with Pierre McGuire – on CKAC. His insights were borne out by the 6-3 game result.

The key to what I think we can safely call Canadiens’ resurgence is three lines that can score. That kind of balance translated to four even-strength goals last night. And it deprives the opponent of a shutdown option – not that Tampa Bay has that in their repertoire.

Take a bow, Guy Carbonneau.

When the coach blew up three of his four lines after the Dallas debacle, I thought he’d lost it. Particularly loopy was seaprating Christopher Higgins from Saku Koivu.

Well, guess what?

Higgins is playing his best hockey of the season with a new centre, Maxim Lapierre. Higgins is the leader on the line, and he’s brought Michael Ryder back from the brink of oblivion.

Ryder was excellent last night: two goals and an assist in less than 13 minutes of ice time. Underrated and often overlooked as a physical player, Ryder also contributed two hits and battled for the puck all night.

Max Lapierre had four hits. Once he starts converting some of the chances Higgins and Ryder are creating for him, that line will be dynamite. 

Koivu has been re-energized by the addition of Sergei Kostitsyn. And they’ve elevated the game of Guillaume Latedresse, who’s a much better player with guys who can score, as opposed to plumbers.

I also was astounded when  Carbo sent Kyle Chipchura to the pressbox for the two games in Florida. But Chipchura, centring Mathieu Dandenault and Tom Kostopoulos, played his best game of the season last night. He scored a goal and even outskated Lightning defencemen on a couple occasions.

Memo to Bryan Smolinski: Take all the time you need. 

The only line Carbo left intact continues to shine. Alex Kovalev shows up for every game and stars in most of them. And Andrei Kostitsyn got his 10th last night and is on track for 20 … or more.

Kostitsyn made a couple of bad passes during the second-period lapse that let the Lightning erase a two-goal deficit and climb back into the game. An earlier incarnation of Guy Carbonneau may have benched the kid for at least part of the third period. But the 2008 model Carbo didn’t, and Andrei K scored the game-winner.

The defence corps was part of the second-period letdown but was solid overall. Mark Streit had four shots on goal, two assists and two hits. He and Roman Hamrlik formed a nicely complementary pairing.

Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek weren’t able to shut down Vincent Lecavalier this time. But Markov had a typically excellent night and Komisarek blocked four shots and had four hits, one a crusher on Martin St. Louis. 

Josh Gorges played 12 minutes. I wouldn’t alter a winning lineup, but nor would it surprise me to see Gorges in the pressbox tomorrow to give Patrice Brisebois some playing time.  

And I wonder if the forgotten man, Carey Price, will get a start against Washington. 

64 Comments

  1. likehoy says:

    but how PK’s positional play? not very good I presume. Markov and Hammer will teach him where to be when he has to be hopefully. I’m sure he’s going to be an unreliable double-edge sword his first few years in the league playing less than 12 minutes a game. He might be a good trade piece if you ask me, cause I’ve heard nothing about his defensive game…all about his transition and offensive game.

    Weber though, from all I’ve heard about him, he’s the second coming of Markov, makes me excited since both valentenko and yemelin are supposed to be more stay-at-home dmen…weber can add another dimension. The other guys Fischer and McDonagh will prob bring reliable games. Our defense is set for the next 10 years…Bye Bye Dandeneault, Bouillon, Brisebois. Sooner or later even streit will lose his place…but our defence is definitely our best trade commodity with so much to choose from.

  2. Yeats says:

    Growing up in NYC, my mother never understood the game but always liked the end of a playoff series when the players lined up like gentlemen and shook hands. That’s the way I always feel after a well-played game. The outcome has been decided honorably and, as fans of the game, it’s time to take our hats off to the victors. We will meet at some time in the future and it will be my pleasure to buy several rounds. All the best, Brian

  3. ebk says:

    doubt I’ll ever do the summit but hey you never know. I’m off for a pint or two tonight. Just the thought that one of them was paid for at least in theory by my buddy yeats will be enough to put a smile on my face and make that guiness taste extra special

  4. Yeats says:

    Way to go guys!!! Total spankification of the U.S. in the World Junior Tournament this afternoon. I wish you all the best against Sweden tomorrow. Yes, I am on the hook for several rounds. If you’re in the metro NYC area drop me a line and we can get a good snoot on at the Bull & Bear at the Waldorf. Otherwise, I’ll be ponying up at next year’s summit. Hope you’re all thirsty because I am. (I don’t mind buying as long as I get to participate!) All the best, Brian.

  5. Ian G Cobb says:

    I like him a lot. i just don,t get a chance to see him play.

    But i like all our picks over the last 4 years!

    Great kids and they are starting to show up !

  6. Ian G Cobb says:

    MJAMES— About your question pertaining to P.K. Suban.

    He was a walk on at 16 years old for the Belleville Bulls training camp and made the club. He is now 18 aqnd has developed into one of the OHL,s better offensive defenceman.

    His 1st pass out, is generely hard tape to tape or off the glass. He can carry coast to coast and often does when safe to go, and has so much speed, he can get back into position or catch up to the play to break it up. He has a cannon on target that many goalers can not deal with, therefor giving up rebounds and creating double scoreing chances.

    He is very easy to coach and has a magnetic personality.

    He will be on our blueline within 5 years.

    He loves to entertain both on and off the ice with class and humour.

    Hope this answers your question.

    IAN

  7. oshawahabsfan says:

    I love it, just after Canada made it 4-0 Gord Miller said it’s a wonder why a great player like Ryan MacDonough, first round pick of the Montreal Canadiens is not here for the Americans. Pacioretty has looked pretty good for the Americans, he’s very quick on his feet, with the puck down low and he’s fiesty, didn’t back down after one of our d-men had him in a headlock. Can’t wait to see these two in the bleu, blanc, rouge.

  8. Deano says:

    Scotty Bowman is the “Coach’s Coach” … the one everyone else can learn from.

  9. Yeats says:

    I lived in Inwood until I finished grade school (Good Shepherd). We moved to the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. I went to All Hallows High School where I played on the varsity hockey team for four years. I used to wear a Habs’ jersey whenever I could to counter the effect of the blue and white uniforms we wore in games. Never got beat up because most of the guys I played with and against were Ranger fans. Not the toughest lot to be sure. I used to play roller hockey at the asphalt softball field next to the U.N. I never knew until I got older why we always had a tough time there. You want to defend the uptown net because there is a slight tilt to the surface. There really were several games that I skated up hill for two periods!

  10. leafs67_andcounting says:

    So when’s Tortorella going to get axed?
    He played his top line for 25 minutes last night. Sure they got all 3 goals, but were also a combined minus 9 in the third period when the they lost the game.
    This happens a lot in Tampa.
    I dont see him lasting much longer.

  11. saskhab says:

    Just as important is finding the right players to match up against the opposition’s top lines. Higgins can do that job, but Saku was getting killed in that role. Max might be the right guy… he’s strong enough physically for the role (in comparison to Saku) and he’s quick enough to keep up with Higgins where Chipchura might not be yet.

    That first goal by Ryder I’ve been waiting the whole year to see. On his off-wing, quick wrister from the faceoff circle, top corner. That’s a Michael Ryder goal, and that, more than the two tap-ins courtesy of Ryder (one last night, one vs the Rags), might be the slump buster.

    Onto the D… this version of Mark Streit looks like the version I envisioned there based on his play in 2006-07 when Bouillon and Dandenault were hurt early. Confidence head-manning the puck out of the zone, quick simple plays otherwise. Is it simply that playing with Hamrlik makes one perform to the best of their abilities?

    Keep the D as is with Breezer spotting Gorges every so often while O’Byrne is out. Keep Streit back there and when Begin returns, a tough choice may have to be made up front.

  12. The Teacher says:

    WOW, Gainey’s gonna talk to the press on monday.

    Is that unusual or what?

  13. krob1000 says:

    Your Scotty Bowman pic reminded me of something. I just watched a replay of the Steve Yzerman retirement ceremony on the NHL Network…..that guy was classy. He deflected as much attention from himself the entire time and he actually choked Scotty up during the ceremony. He made his own retirement as much about Bowman as himself nearly. Yzerman joked my stats declined but I became a better player and we became a better team. He also mentioned Bowman’s stubborness and unwavering insistence on a defense first mindset. I am in no way, shape or form comparing Carbo to even a relative of Scotty Bowman but maybe his extreme focus on defense isn’t so bad.

    We can disagree with his lineup decisions and that annoying late game defensive shell but in all reality his results are already undeniable. He has Michael Ryder and Alex Kovalev backchecking…..so what you say? If our most talented layer and our leading goal scorer have to work and backcheck then anyone else damn well better too. It is a trickle down effect and it all starts from the top. Noone can deny that Kovalev is a better play since Carbo and as much as Ryders numbers declined he is definitely a better hockey player now than last year.

    We are building (or restoring) a team culture and that is crucial. A culture where defense is more important and where every man is held accountable by his teammates if he does not bring an honest effort. This is what separates teams from groups of players wearing similar jerseys. We are headed there and the character of Kovy and Ryder …..a fellow named Samsonov did not. It is not an easy transformation and I think we are going to benefit from all of his seemingly mad decisions. He is still seeking offense but he realizes that offensive guys are very talented and if their talents can be used effectively on both sides of the puck then you can only be better. I think guys like Kovy realize this finally. Higgins, Pleks and Koivu are all very talented and they all try equally hard on defense. The young guys are learning on the job and they have to follow the leaders or follow Samsonov.

    What an exciting time to be a Hab fan.

  14. Deano says:

    It is not a coincidence that every single one of them spent time in Hamilton (Price too). Carey and Sergei might have had short stays, but that might be a function of how good they are.

  15. NLhabsfan says:

    All Ryder needed was patience and ice time.He was getting neither.The line helps all Higgins, Ryder and Lapierre.They have a new emerging confidence in each other and it is a joy to watch.He didn’t become a flop overnight.Ryder has skills and loves Montreal.It seems to me the line works out to the teams benefit.I hope he is not trade bait because he will haunt us for years if he leaves.Third star for Ryder …who watched the game?

  16. New says:

    Mr Boone, you’re right.
    And the very best part is that the three wins all came in regulation and were full two point wins against conference foes. That’s the type of thing that gets you into the playoffs at season’s end, taking two points for you and leaving none for the other team.
    Yay…finally.

  17. Ian G Cobb says:

    Good morning Brian, was thinking of you when i was watching the Jr.s. It was closer than the score, we also scored one when we were offside and they didn,t catch it. Not going to be a cake walk against the Sweeds either. Later Ian

  18. madhabsfan says:

    A few points:

    a) I,too, love what I have been seeing by the habs of late. The Kostitsyn brothers are flourishing beautifully, and Ryder seems to have found his game. BUT – we have only faced tough opposition once since the infamous night in Dallas, and we lost. Tougher times may still lie ahead, so let’s not get into a situation where we go from talking about the birth of a new dynasty to trading Koivu, firing the coach, cleaning up house and starting over.

    b) Good post EBK. I think our surplus of forwards, defencemen, and forward/defencemen has caused Guy a great deal of confusion as to who could help the team and how. These injuries have forced Guy to take one core group of guys, and work with them until they are effective. Hopefully, this will be all the evidence the management needs to decide that i) we have to stick with our youth and ii) we need to unload a few players somehow, or at least glue their asses to the press box. Smolinski and Brisebois are pure surplus, and I fear their presence is just getting in the way of young player development, which is what we are supposed to be all about.

    c) I still believe the habs will have to pull off a big-name signing to be a legitimate offensive threat to the best NHL teams. Unlike many others, I feel this CAN be done without mortaging the future of the team. Ryder is quickly making himself a tradable asset again, we have a surplus of experienced players who no longer fit the mold of our youth movement, we have a few million in the bank, and we have draft picks. Surely, we could get this done.

  19. mjames says:

    Thanks – any reason why he is sitting out . With your scouting report he should at least see a few minutes. The other Canadian JR defensemen are good but not great.

    mjames

  20. johnny boy says:

    The most promising aspect of this resurgence?

    Each of the 4 lines has a rookie (or close to a rookie) on it

    Sergei K
    Andrei K
    Lapierre
    Chipchura

  21. Ian G Cobb says:

    He has to stay in junior next year, he is only 18.

  22. 24 Cups says:

    My feeling is that Subban is going to need plenty of time, not that there’s anything wrong with that, especially for a young defenseman. He might even find it beneficial to spend another year at the junior level.

    Te Original 24 Cups

  23. howtathor says:

    I was impressed with the work of Max Pacioretty in a losing cause for the Americans. He showed some real hustle and grit around the net. He’ll be a solid addition to the Hab’s future.

    As much as I’m happy to see the Canadian juniors in the gold medal game, I’m a little ticked with Mark Habscheid.
    You’d think with a 4-0 lead he would give P.K. Subban a little ice time. P.K. didn’t see a minute yesterday although he was on the bench. Correct me if I’m wrong. I can see where Jonathan Bernier is coming from in his recrimination of the Team Canada coaching staff. There is too much emphasis on winning at all costs. These are juniors and the game is supposed to be fun.

    The Habs are going to have to start drafting some “skilled” forwards pretty soon. Last year we passed on Esposito and Cherapanov in favour of D and grit. Captain K and Assistant K aren’t getting any younger (although he has said that he’d like to play as long as Chelios), and we’re going to have to fill those holes up front on the first two lines. Couple that with the potential loss of Ryder, creates some gaping holes in the scoring potential.
    I’m elated with the progress of the Kostitsyn brothers and hopefully Grabovski will get another shot. The upcoming draft is supposed to be a very strong one and while we may not get the top picks, I hope we go for skill this time around.

    Is Sweden the exclusive territory of the Detroit Red Wings in the way that Quebec used to be for the Habs?
    I can’t remember the last time we had a Swedish player of any import since Mats Naslund. Mats along with Borje Salming opened the door for Swedish hockey players in North America. Since then I don’t think we’ve drafted a whole lot out of Sweden.

    We seem to be focused heavily on the U.S. college system (Mcdonagh, Fisher, Pacioretty) or Russia (Kostitsyn, Kostitsyn, Grabovski, Valentenko, Yemelin). Just because we got burned on Chouinard, Turcotte, Ryan, etc etc doesn’t mean we should negate Canadian hockey or leave them for a later round pick.

    Anyway, I can’t complain with the success the team is having and the Canadian first round picks we have (Price, Chipchura) are awesome so there, I eat my words. Just something to think about for Trevor Timmins in the future.

    Look forward to seeing Alex O today. Bob, please sign him a restricted offer sheet!!!

  24. Rockin_Morroccan says:

    Agreed on all points save one – I do not think Markov played such an excellent game…however Francis Bouillon made enough gaffes that any Markov might have made were overshadowed.

    Onwards and upwards!

  25. Thumper says:

    Is Huet too good a goaltender to let go…..sign him up for a longer stay I say even though most will not agree

  26. Cable Guy says:

    I really feel this team has turned a corner mentally.

  27. Jay_in_PA says:

    I think you’re right. The real tests will come if they can show an ability to do the following:

    1. Come back from behind and win
    2. Beat a strong team that usually beats them (Ottawa, New Jersey)

    We’re only halfway through the season, and I think there’s time yet for another slump or two, whether due to injury, illness, or other teams finding a way to counter Carbo’s current system. Still, as it has been expressed in other threads recently, this team has better players and better coaching than last year, and there is reason to be genuinely confident, rather than just hopeful.

  28. J.T. says:

    Hmmmm…I don’t know about Higgins bringing Ryder back from the brink. I think Ryder’s brought himself back. The play he made to set up Kovalev was an absolute beauty last night, and his vintage Ryder ‘Rister from the circle was all him. He’s worked very, very hard to keep an upbeat attitude and get his touch back. I’m delighted to see it, and if Higgins does indeed deserve part of the credit, good on him too.

    One of the things we talked about during the summer was the impact Carbonneau would have on the team’s fortunes this year. Almost all of us agreed IF Carbo learned from his rookie mistakes, the team would have a better chance of winning. I think so far, he’s proving he has done that. Granted, there are still some errors, like having his third D-pair on the ice for the Lecavalier breakaway goal, and publicly singling out players who likely won’t benefit from the embarrassment. But overall, last year’s level of panic is absent as well as the in-game rigidity that prevented him from adapting to opposing coaching strategies on the fly. Part of the reason is that he has better players to work with this year…and part of it is that Carbo is a smart man who learned a few things in last year’s baptism by fire.

    The Plekanec line continues to be the best on the team. A.Kost is coming into his own…finally I saw his mythical laser shot find its way onto the scoreboard, and man, was it great! Kovalev is a new old man this year, and Pleks is always a factor. I was watching Ryder tear it up last night, and thought hmmm…Pleks has been pretty invisible so far. No sooner did it cross my mind than he wheeled back to keep a puck in the zone, floated to his left and laid a perfect, seeing-eye pass through traffic onto Chipchura’s tape for an easy goal. When all three of those guys figure on the scoresheet, it’s been a good night.

    As for Breezer and Smoke…as far as I’m concerned, neither of them NEEDS playing time. They have become spare parts, and should be used as such. Gorges is very young, he’s playing well for the most part, and he’s getting stronger as time passes. He shouldn’t sit, just to get Breezer on the ice. You don’t put on the spare just to give your regular tires a break…you keep it for emergencies.
    I have no problem with Begin replacing Dandenault (who’s been non-existent for several of the last few games) or even Kostopoulos. But youth should NOT be sacrificed for Breezer or Smoke.

    Price isn’t forgotten…he’s just paying his rookie dues behind a strong veteran. He’ll be the Man soon enough.

  29. Mike Boone says:

    Hey, you’re almost always right …. but Markov and Komisarek were on for Vinnie’s goal.

  30. Forlando says:

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying the only thing I really don’t agree with is that you need your “spare parts” to be in working condition in order to effectively use them, so I think Breezer and the others should get some ice time…just in case…that does not change te fact Gorges is D-man #6 and breezer belongs to the pressbox…but you never know when someone might get hurt and you need anybody to be ready, specially vets.

  31. Naila Jinnah says:

    Ryder did bring himself back but it was a lot of Higgins. Without Chris’s playmaking, Ryder might not have scored so much.

    Oooh, that sounded bad too…

  32. Morenz7 says:

    On Carbo: I was struck during the Florida road swing, and during last night’s game, by how restrained he’s been with the officials. I have no examples of it costing them wins, but his incessant carping earlier this season and late last signalled nervousness to the players. It suggested he hadn’t fully made the transition from captain to coach.

    Clearly, someone spoke to him. Or maybe he watched some footage of himself. Either way, he now looks more confident and stable back there, which has to help his relationship with guys like Kovalev. I can’t imagine it’s a coincidence that the players are now (where’s that cliché bag?) pulling in the same direction.

  33. Dan23 says:

    J.T., you’ve always been a little hard on Higgins, but I think that goal Ryder got against the Panthers has helped him break his funk, and you have to give Higgy credit for playing that 2 on nothing perfectly (it goes without saying that Ryder played it perfect by burying the puck).

    I totally agree with you about Pleks – no sooner was I wondering where he’d been all game was he passing the puck to Chipchura for a goal.

    For me, this season’s story is Kovalev. He’s playing the best hockey he’s ever played as a Hab, he’s leading the team, he’s bringing along the young guns, it’s just great to see. As Alex Kovalev goes, the Canadiens have gone, in my opinion.

    I was at the game last night and frankly there were at least 30 minutes of that game when I was one frustrated Hab fan. As much as I loved the win and enjoyed the many flashes of brilliance from both sides, I’m not getting excited about beating Tampa Bay. If they had a better goalie and Dan Boyle back, we very likely would have lost last night.

    I think we’ll see whether the Canadiens are in a better head space after we play Washington and Chicago. Those games should be in the bank, but it’s all going to depend on whether the Habs take them seriously enough and work their asses off. I only saw that for 30 minutes last night.

    Finally: Huet played great last night (when he wasn’t being abandoned by his defencemen) and I really hope we keep him until the end of the season. Our boy Price plays Saturday and I figure he’ll have to play well considering Huet’s performance of late.

  34. Revolution No. 9 says:

    Those two points are exactly what we’ve been missing. I’d love to see a game where we come back from 2 goals down to win in regulation. And winning once against NJ or Ottawa is no great feat. I’d like to see us take half the remaining games we have against those 2 teams.

    And I agree about one more thing, I think we’ve got one more slump in us before the season is through.

  35. J.T. says:

    My bad…it was the Prospal goal, which Vinnie set up, for which Gorges and Bouillon were on the ice. Memory fails sometimes when the synapses get overloaded with pleasant images of Habs wins. Either way, the third D-pair shouldn’t have been on against that line unless absolutely necessary. Especially not when Tampa was pressing to tie late in a period. Oh well…live and learn.

  36. mjames says:

    A few observations on the Habs and last night’s game.

    (1) I agree I like the balance Carbo has created with his first three lines. A nice mix of veterans with youngsters.
    (2) I like the balance on this team. Sure there are areas of improvement but the balance, particularly with the youngsters as they continue to gain confidence and improve.
    (3) Todd said it best in his article in today’s Gazette. Be careful what you wish for. I prefer a balanced team to a super star. I am against (i) trading parts of the team’s core for a superstar, (ii) signing a superstar as a RFA free agent and giving up our future or (iii) signing a super star as a UFA and negatively impacting cap space which should used to pay our core palyers.
    (4)Gainey is going to be faced with some difficult decisions given the play of Huet and Ryder. I am not sure what he should do. These guys are valuable parts.
    (6) The real test will come when we play one the top teams. If we skate and play our game we should put up a good fight.
    (5) What is up with Red Fischer? This guy is so negative when writing about the team even when it wins. He was more complementary about TB than the Habs. I guess he longs for the 60′s and 70′s or maybe since he covers the home games, our home record may have colored his opinion of the team.

    mjames

  37. krob1000 says:

    For the sake of TommyB and probably several others I am going to limit my Ryder talk today. I will say hats off to Carbo for playing him on the 5 on 3…that nifty little pass to Kovy was big for Ryder as a follow up to scoring the other night (confidence is the key….always is). He didn’t do anything all that different than he has been doing all along in my opinion but a puck finally went in….then another goal came compliments of Higgins.

    I can’t really go into a big “I Told You So” rant because I was the first to criticize Carbo (also the first to apologize after one game but still)when he put Higgins with Ryder again. I also must congratulate Chris Higgins for completely transforming his game and playing with his head as much as his hands and feet.

    In RobertL’s blog he touches on something that I think probably went unnoticed to many …..playing Hamrlik and Komisarek as a shutdown pair against Tampa’s big line. Against a team with depth this may not have worked but it showed me that Carbo had his thinking cap on ….and it worked. Very astute observation by RobertL and Carbo also did another thing that I liked and I saw people questioning on the other thread. He played Sergei Kostitsyn extra minutes on a number of different lines whenever the lines were affected after a shorthanded situation. I think this was a move to aid in maintaining Kostitsyn’s confidence and at this stage of the game more time can only help Sergei adapt to the pace. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure Carbo also wanted to see how adaptable he was and how he would play in other spots but I think he wants to see this kid a lot over the next couple of weeks before a roster decision has to be made.

    Sergei did not show up on the scoreboard but he had a decent game as far as a I am concerned. He played a huge role in Chipchura’s goal and could have had another couple of points if other guys had potted their chances. Andrei Kostitsyn is no longer playing tentative like a rookie. Kovy and Pleks are our most consistent forwards this year and no more needs to be sdaid about them.

    The defence was shaky last night and there were some ugly giveaways but what concerned me the most was how often Lecavelier got in behind them. How does the leagues leading scorer who stands 6’4″ hide in behind the defence out in open ice?? That really bothered me. Our forwards though I think have really begun to take pride in their backchecking….that is nice to see. Guys who have spent years slacking in this department are now working hard in both ends and it is things like that that build a team.

    Kudos also go to Carbo for using Higgins so much on the PK. Max Lapierre is a worker and is going to cause a veteran to lose his job. Mark Streit is also making me eat some of my words from earlier on this season. He can have some bad games but when he is on he is damn good. H eis not he defenseman around or the best forward but he is awesome on the powerplay and he is always an offensive threat regardless of his position. I take back anything I said about Streit ….this guy makes 600k/year. He is one hell of a bargain.

    Latendresse had an off game and it hurt his line as he threw a couple of pucks away when we were in attack mode in open ice. I can forgive him but he really should just let Sergei or Saku carry the puck and just worry about going to the net and battling along the boards in the offensive zone. Every game

  38. krob1000 says:

    Sorry I hit post too early and after seeing the length of what I already wrote decided I better stop rambling.

  39. Morenz7 says:

    krob (and Robert L):

    I hadn’t picked up on the Komi-Hammer pairing. What a great idea—under limited circumstances. Much as I love him, Markov can wilt a bit in those feverish minutes near the end of a game when the other team is trying to tie it up. So I think they should do this more often, especially in situations where the other team has pulled its goalie and the Canadiens are struggling to protect a lead. They surrender that goal way too often, and I’m sure Andrei can stand going from 27 minutes per game to 26.5.

  40. The Teacher says:

    I love Sergei but he played his worst game of the season last night.

  41. Deano says:

    Just read Kovalev’s comments after the game. I don’t know who turned on his “Leadership Switch”, but they deserve a raise. Actually it was probably Alex himself. He has always been an absolute delight to watch … one of the few magicians in a league of plumbers, now he is a treat to listen to.

    When your best player is a leader too, great things can happen.

  42. krob1000 says:

    I lied abut shutting up……I forgot two very important things. First Kyle Chipchura…..hardest I ahve seen him play since the frist ten games of the season. His feet were moving and he did not look slow at any point and as long as he plays at a high tempo he is great.

    Bob Gainey has now gone somewhat public three times this season with comments that to me have been very impactful. back at camp it was his decision and influence that led to Price remaining with the team. Can anyone argue that decision now???

    The second and probably most important public statement he made and the one that I believe we can attribute a great deal of our success to was his calling out of Kovy. When people were saying we needed someone to get Kovy going and that was the buzz Gainey stepped in and sternly (yet diplomatically) made his “let’s not put the cart ahead of the horse here, Alex needs to get Alex going” statement. I think Alex woke up that day as he has been completely transformed into a selfless leader and has helped to carry his linemates.

    The third magical Gainey moment I didn’t actually hear but I heard from a few sources about a week and half ago was about Ryder. I heard reports on TSN saying that Gainey is a strong backer of Ryder and that he is not ready to give up on him. Since that statement went public….Ryder has played every game and the results speak for themselves.

    Gainey doesn’t speak often it seems but instead picks and chooses when to speak very carefully. I think this means that anytime he does speak it means something and I get the feeling the players respond.

  43. ebk says:

    About 10 games ago, this team had more holes in it than a whiffle ball. Looking more and more like a team not only destined to miss the play-offs but also maybe qualify for a top 5 draft pick.

    A funny thing happened on the the Habs descent to mediocrity, they turned their season around due to three players getting injured. I’ve seen many team’s seasons derailed because of injuries over the years but I can’t ever recall injuries playing such a big part in turning a teams fortunes for the better.

    While the injuries to Smolinski, Brisebois and Begin were very unfortunate for the trio, the bodies brought up to replace them, have changes the dynamic of this team drastically. One can only wonder if not for the aforementioned injuries, would Lapierre, Kostitsyn II and O’Bryne have made the jump to the NHL. Their play shows that the probably should have been with the big club all season. Let’s not also forget Josh Gorges, who has filled in well for O’Bryne and hopefully can keep Brisebois butt parked in the press box until the kid returns.

    As mentioned by Mr. Boone, this team now ices three solid NHL lines. All seem capable of putting the puck in the net. Although the Plekanec line still accounts for the majority of the goals, the other two are doing their part as well. 37 goals in the last ten games proves this. Even better, most of the goals have been at even strength, as the PP has struggled a little.

    With their improved 5on5 play the fortunes of this team have been greatly enhanced. Their PP and goaltending are still strong. The PK still needs work, although Madd Max and Higgins seem to have helped settle it down a little. If the PK can be fixed and Gainey pulls the trigger and lands another forward or top 4 Dman or better yet both, I like their chances. As the team sits now, they look to be as good as anyone in the East, outside of the Senators

    One thing scares me though, what will Gainey and Carbo do when the injured players return to health. Playing Brisebois will be a major mistake. Subbing in Begin and Smolinski for anyone other than Kostopoulos and Dandenault will be too. The Kiddie Corps have earned their spot with the big club, so Gainey needs to get creative to keep them here.

    Thanks for reading

  44. Ian G Cobb says:

    EBK– Only great clubs know that by having players in the press box, that can jump in and out of the lineup when needed and not gripe about it, come out winners.

    Depending on which type of play certain oponents pratice will depend who jumps in the line up or how we want to play them that night. When someone is hurting or sick they now have the debth to insert someone instead of putting someone out there that needs a little break.

    Because someone is sitting out a healthy scratch is not a bad thing. Brisebois, Smolinski, Begin are very valuable to our hockey club. They may not be all #1s or 2s or even 4s, but they are a major part of our hockey club and i for one can apreciate what each one of them brings to my team as we progress to being the championship contender.

  45. Ian G Cobb says:

    I have known since last year that this is the team and organisation to form the next NHL dynasty. The chemistry is starting to come together, the confidence and debth of the whole organisation is starting to show up in the form of pride and team play.

    It has taken three years for G.M. Bob to get us back to this point. Where people are starting to apreaciate how much time and effort has already gone into this franchise since he has come back to town.

    Scouting, drafting, coaching, developing the kids takes years to build a power house that will be at the top for a long time.

    We have about two more years of second guessing what these great hockey men are building for us. So sit back with a little more patience and enjoy the ride getting there.

    IAN

  46. ebk says:

    Ian buddy, I had to flag this as offensive, you are just to darn positive. :)

  47. mjames says:

    Easy fella, easy with the platitudes. They are okay but Einstein and Edison are not running this operation. I should get a pair of those rose colored glasses.

    mjames

  48. likehoy says:

    we’re too early to toot our own horn. When was the last time we played New Jersey, Ottawa, Detroit?? Have we beaten them yet this season?

    It’s great that we’re beating up the teams that are far worse than we are…but we have to prove that we’re a top tier team by competing against top tier teams. I mean ya we only play Ottawa/NJ/Detroit a total of 13 times and that can add up to ONLY 13 losses (granted we never beat them this season)…but it’d be nicer if we can play against those teams and actually think we have a winning chance. Beating NJ and Ottawa will be major confidence boosters, so wait until we do that before start celebrating dynasties.

  49. ebk says:

    I think the main reason for Kovalev’s troubles last year directly related to his health. His knee was a problem for most of the year and I seem to remember he had problems with a shoulder. 99% of the players in the NHL give you want they have, I think he did as well. He just seemed like he was trying to do to much and as a result was doing very little. His attitude, I think reflected more on his performance than anything else. Hard to be a leader when you are unhappy with your own performance.

    The difference between Kovalev this year and last year, should serve as a lesson to all who want to throw Michael Ryder under the bus. 30 games does not wipe out the fact that Ryder has had a very solid NHL career to date.

  50. krob1000 says:

    I am not referring to his numbers. If you look at his shooting percentage last year it was dismal. All summer I said it was just a fluke….like Ryder….as long as the chances are there the puck will eventually go in. Pucks were not going in. Kovy was notorious for long shifts, only exerting maximum effort in burts and considered somewhat of a distraction off the ice. I know things got blown out of proportion by the mediaand I maintained all along that he was a keeper. I knew he would be back but the leadership and consistency was not at all expected by me.

  51. Deano says:

    I agree with the health comment … he was held back. However, I do believe Leaders lead regardless of what is happening to them. Yes, it is hard, but they Enable and Energize their teams regardless of how they are playing. Hope he can keep up the off ice contribution even if he hits a rough part in the road. I want my leaders there all the time.

    Look at his comments, he is stepping up big time … this is a very good thing.

  52. ebk says:

    I agree, what I was trying to say, is he wasn’t as much of a problem last year as some seem to think. If he was they would not have stuck the ‘A’ on his sweater this year.

    He is honest in frank in his comments with the media, he doesn’t dish out pablum and tripe like most players. Sometimes it comes across the wrong way, especially with the media spin mongers.

  53. Ian G Cobb says:

    I have scouted hundreds of kids, and i keep it very simple.

    Ability and personel attitude has to first be on the table by the player. Philosophy and chemistry are taught within the organisation.

    Without these four qualities you always come up a little short.

  54. mjames says:

    Serious question – What is your opinion of this Stubban kid? I have heard some mixed comments about him – not so much his ability but his mental make-up.

    mjames

  55. Ian G Cobb says:

    Answer posted at top. Sorry

  56. ebk says:

    you are correct, they needed better depth than they had at the beginning of the season. With the Kiddie Corps emerging, they now have it.

    A couple of more pieces and this puzzle will look like a perenial Stanley Cup contender.

  57. krob1000 says:

    Maybe a little too restrained when he said he saw the puck get deflected by Ryder over the glass. The replay clearly showed he did not touch it and we should have had a two man advanatage (unless something else was the explanation….).

  58. Ian G Cobb says:

    They are not fake glasses, just close your eyes, and you will smell the roses, only if you have been there before!

  59. DD says:

    Maybe you should just take the coke bottles off, first.

  60. bidds55 says:

    Bob Gainey has to make a decision – either sign Huet to keep him, or sign him to trade him. Either way, he must be signed ASAP. Unless Ottawa gives up on Gerber and Emery, there is nowhere for Huet to go as an unsigned UFA at the end of the summer. We will get nothing for him, unless he is signed.

  61. Ian G Cobb says:

    They don’t happen over night, Bud. It takes years and we have at least two more years of development to go yet. Don’t just enjoy the cup over our heads, enjoy the long ride of development getting there, winning will be a lot sweeter that way.

  62. krob1000 says:

    He played Ryder minutes and was thrown on several different lines and aside from his penalty I didn’t see any glaring mistakes. He still created a couple chances and I think we will be sitting pretty once they integrate him as a point man on the second PP unit. You may be right about it being his worst but there was nothing wrong with his game nor has there been this year.

    Both he and Koivu (Saku gets pp time though) were affected by Lats wating at leasat two of their shifts that I can remember with passes that honestly missed by ten feet in open ice. A shift is only about 45 seconds on average and it doesn’t take much for a shift to be wasted. One giveaway and that can make your linemates invisible. What did he do wrong he had one giveaway that I can’t even remember and aside from that I only noticed him when we got chances and he deserved an assists on the Chips goal as much as anyone but the defender swung at the puck and gave it to us so he didn’t get one.

  63. The Teacher says:

    I never said he played bad, just that it was his worst game of the season.

    If that’s his worst, we’re in fine shape :)


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