About last night …

Let’s change the title to About tomorrow night …

The measuring-stick game will be played in Tampa Bay.

I don’t want to sound like one of the nattering nabobs of negativity on L’Antichambre, who were gleefully trashing Scott Gomez AFTER A WIN last night, but there truly wasn’t much to conclude after watching your Montreal Canadiens beat a lousy team that’s tanking its season.

Florida is rebuilding. Of the Panthers who faced the Canadiens last night, Stephen Weiss, David Booth, Keaton Ellerby and Niclas Bergfors will be part of the future in south Florida (or somewhere). Sergei Samsonov? No.

It’s nice to win a rare game in which the third period isn’t a melodrama.

It’s nice for Carey Price to ring up another shutout, tying Tim Thomas at seven.

And it’s very nice to bag two more points on the road, where the Canadiens raised their record to 15-15-1.

But let’s see if they can go above .500 against the Lightning …. and sweep the southeastern U.S. in the process.

(Hey, Gary: No teams in Alabama?)

 

 

There was a lot to like last night. In no particular order:

• Andrei Kostitsyn, who saved his best hockey for when the team needs it most.

• The centres of the future, Lars Eller and David Desharnais.

• Another perfect PK, even though Jacques Martin had to use Alexandre Picard when P.K. Subban was in the box.

• Two more assists for the wizardly Wiz.

• The explosive acceleration of Max Pacioretty, who continues to prove the value of a Hamilton apprenticeship.

• Hal Gill’s goal and plus-3

• Carey Price, a bona-fide candidate for the Vezina Trophy.

• Brent Sopel played a solid 18:47 and his partner, Picard, played a minute less.

There was stuff I didn’t like:

• The Canadiens were outhit 37-20 and had no answers for the aggression of Darcy Hordichuk. 

• Scott Gomez played more minutes than any other forward on the Canadiens.

• In a 4-0 game, Roman Hamrlik played 22:24.

• Michael Cammalleri has two SoG and is pointless on this road trip.

But a W is a W, and the Canadiens have put together a url for the first time in a month.

Maybe Tampa Bay will make it four.

•  •  •

Guest Comments:

From Rad:

 

Good to see the Habs pick up a few wins in here. The next 2 games will tell us a lot about this team. If we can beat both Tampa and Boston, not only Habs fans, but the whole league will have to take notice of this Montreal Canadien hockey team. I have felt all along that last year’s playoff success was an anomaly, a one-off event. But 2 wins against 2 elite teams at this juncture will go a long way to convince me these Habs are for real this year again.

The team is starting to gel and play with confidence. Everyone is contributing….Hal Gill with a goal, Kostitsyn, Eller, Sopel, Wizniewski, Picard. Cammalleri’s return has been a boon for the offense. PG has made minor, but important moves in acquiring Brent Sopel and Paul Mara, both of whom provide grit, an item that was notably lacking earlier in the season. Mara especially, will make his presence felt against physical teams like Boston that attempt to bully the Habs. This is what you see on a winning team … contributions from everyone.

A lot of Habs fans haven’t dared to hope this year. But these Canadiens are starting to round into playoff form at just about the right time. Jacques Martin said the other day he thought this team is BETTER than last year’s team….because of the kids …. Pax, Desharnais, Eller, Weber, and the irrepressible P.K. Subban. The fact that Martin wasn’t bemoaning the loss of Markhov and Gorges, but rather, talking up the kids, says a lot about the quiet confidence that currently permeates this team, from top to bottom.

Very interesting 2 games coming up.

And PeterD:

 

I like the lines the way they have been the last few games.  For some reason Eller, AK and Moen seem to really click together…may be it’s there physical presence and skill levels.  All of them are relatively big guys and they are playing big, hitting and bashing.  I have always like Eller but I am really starting to see him as a key acquisition for the future of the team.  He seems very responsible defensively in our end and is quite often the first guy to pressure the other teams forwards along the boards in our end.

Picard played a good game for a guy that is on the bubble lately…he does seem ready to back up his comments about just being happy to be in the NHL and that he understands his role and to be ready if and when he gets the call to play.  And Sopel, well he isn’t a Markov and will never look like he is, but he has been a reliable add in to the support the defence.  And I loved Mara’s physicality the other night against the Thrashers. 

I’m a little worried about the Pleks, Cammi and Halpern line.  Does Halpern seem a little out of his league here?  I think he seems a little slow and confused about what to do offensively with the other two guys.  But what go you do…the other lines seem to have some chemistry so not sure if I want JM to make a move right now.  And God help us when Darche comes back…I guess we could sit Pyatt.  But I liked how DD, Pouliot and White worked together when they had the chance.  So how do we get White back in the line up?

I guess what we will likely see for the rest of regular season is rotation of our extra d-men and forwards in and out of the line up so everyone stays game shape and fresh.  I’m OK with that provided we get wins.

 

 

 

79 Comments

  1. clichabs says:

    that my friend is an excellent post

  2. Jdub1985 says:

    I’m I crazy to want us to throw Saturday? Montreal is a solid 3 games ahead in 6th. A Tampa win puts the Lightning team back in 2nd returning the Bruins to 3rd.

    I guess the larger question is Tampa or Boston?

    and when it comes to May – I always say Boston. I mean if those idiots had an ounce of character and not have had the most epic collapse in the history of the NHL. We very easily could have seen a Montreal/Chicago Cup final.

    Tampa (I just remember 2004, not fun)

    So…Tampa or Boston?

     

  3. Displaced says:

    gee, thanks :-) Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  4. clichabs says:

    to gain home ice advantage will be tough though… leapfroggin wash AND pitt is stretching it a bit. But we never know…

    BTW, has anyone realized how poor is the Caps’ season? Just look at their goals for… the same as the Habs! Who would have thought that we’d have the same amount of goals at this time of the year haha!

  5. light_n_tasty says:

    Yes, you are crazy.  We are not in a position to throw away games.  The playoffs are not a lock.

  6. Displaced says:

    The Pens are 11-9-4 since Sid went down; and 3-6-3 since Malkin’s last game.  We could catch them.  Washington’s is tougher.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  7. sidhu says:

    Boone, nice observation about Hordichuk — he hit Cammy aggressively and was throwing his weight around without repurcussion or real response.

  8. Timo says:

    Agreed. Let’s not throw anything yet. And let meet Bruins in the first round to hand them their customary first round exit. I believe that’s how things work.

  9. Jordio-oh says:

    It is also possible for us to play the Capitals.

  10. StevieRay says:

    either way it’ll be a blast … consumption will be UP !

  11. StevieRay says:

    Tampa vs Habs .. first round …Hmmmm that would be interesting .

  12. HabsfaninMA says:

    As a Habs fan in Boston, there would be no better fate than to see them bounce out the Bruins in the first round. Trust me, the fans down here think it is a foregone conclusion that the Bruins will be in the Stanley Cup finals and they are awaiting a Bruins/Flyers matchup in the Eastern finals. The Bruins must go down in the first round so I can have hours of entertaining sports radio!

  13. Timo says:

    Can you imagine… all the Guy Boucher this and that comments should Tampe score a goal in that series? Lol!

    I still would rather play Bruins in the first. There is nothing more satisfying than sending these apes back to the stone age.

  14. rhino514 says:

     

    I don´t think many people realize what kind of an accomplishment it is for a team with such a defensive system in place to finish, say, 18th in scoring. I´ve always thought that our defence (as it is now) is decent but overrated and our offense is good and underrated. Look at the goals/game since Cammalleri has returned. Not that many teams have the four line depth the Habs currently do. The second line´s centres problems are the main factor keeping the team from applying consistent offensive pressure. Give Pleks and Cammy a break lately as Halpern doesn´t really contribute much to that line. The tough decision is what to do with Halpern. He´s valuable to a team, but not as a first line winger. And JM (i don´t think) will never bench him for someone like, say, Dawes, who could maybe put the puck in the net.  Likewise he will never bench Gomez. Even if he did, he believes Gomez will produce in the plaoffs as if the regular season had never come to pass (if that happens we will go far, but I´m not completely convinced). PLEASE don´t take Eller away from Kostitsyn and put him back on the wing! Great coaching by JM to have finally after 60 games find what gives Eller and Kostitsyn a chance to excell and feel comfortable. Unlike previous line combinations, I don´t think it is a jump start solution; I think those players really mesh well together. (P.S imagine the offense with Markov feeding the puck!)

  15. doug19 says:

    Hey check out WHL highlights for the week. The 4th highlight is Brendan Galagher’s a really hot goal! A habs draft choice who likes to score goals. He has 42 or 43 now.

     

    http://www.whl.ca/video/index/id/61e9419d56405eadda72f5ff7f0cec18

  16. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    Whats with Canadians naming their boys Darcy? Hideous name.

  17. PureGuava says:

    How is Gomer allowed to keep taking ice from the kids?

    “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” – Robert Anton Wilson

  18. DearyLeary says:

    Because Pacioretty and Gionta are still producing.

    We’ve got four lines that are reasonably responsible in our end, and all four have some offensive potential.  I think the last three games are a good indicator of what a balanced attack can do.

    Why not get on Pleks’ case while you’re at it?  

  19. PureGuava says:

     

    As a 7.4 million defensive liability playing in a defensive system, he is not producing & affecting his linemates production as well. He can’t win faceoffs or score, and the others can….There is no logical reason to keep playing him. Gomez is 65pt a season player at his high end, and Martin can’t keep giving 20 minutes a game to a 65pt player, on season 3 of his low-end.

    “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” – Robert Anton Wilson

  20. PureGuava says:

    Boston.

    “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” – Robert Anton Wilson

  21. StevieRay says:

    18th ?? My measure of he season is to score more goals than you let ..quite simple , we are accomplishing that just barely. As for Gomez … so he’s saving himself for the playoffs …you wish ! How dare he ” float ” for the 1st 60 games some of which we lost due to him ..

  22. Timo says:

    It was pretty much a home game, wasn’t it? Lots of nice looking ladies too.

  23. _Habsoloutly_ says:

    What a great game.  The Eller line was super impressive to watch last night.  Undeniable chemistry.  My wife was loving that Carey got the SO, she is part native and from BC like Price, so she’s a huge Price fan.  Some idiot next to us was booing the Canadian anthem and my wife wanted me to beat him up,  lol.  I kept saying “I can’t honey, I’ll get kicked out!”  At one point she wanted to go punch him.  lol.

  24. Danno says:

    Glad to see you got to watch a really good game. The Habs fans there did us proud. CHeers!

     

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

  25. Ali says:

    because Pleks is bad on the road, Gomez is just bad

  26. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Wait wait wait. Since Gomez is a good player but one in a major slump — as much a psychological issue as anything else — is there not a reasonable argument to keep playing him, as a way of retrieving him? If JM says, You suck, and benches/press boxes him or sends him to Hamilton, when do we reckon the slump will end? If coach shows patience, there’s at least the possibility that something on the ice will trigger a return. There’s an opportunity for confidence to return if the coach is showing confidence. As is repeatedly pointed out here, Habs are paying massive bucks for poor Gomer. Even at the expense of valuable ice-time for the kids, I would be hoping that JM just keeps playing Gomez –especially against teams like Florida — until he gets his mojo back.

    I acknowledge that there are a number of counter-arguments. Get rid of the ones that are fueled by fan anger and impatience, how many good ones are left?

    What I don’t get is why Auld didn’t get the start.

  27. HardHabits says:

    How anybody can even begin to lambaste the Habs fans is beyond me. I pointed this out a while back when the hot topic was the fans and how much harm they produce.

    That is why finishing in the top 5 is so important. Never discount the value of home ice advantage. Road wins are equally important. I said that if the Habs can maintain a .500 record or better on the road they’d be a shoo-in for the play-offs.

  28. JIMVINNY says:

    If we’re talking about May, then that means the second round, so then playing Tampa in the first round works out.  I’d rather knock the Bruins out in the first round too, but giving them hope by having them beat NY or Carolina, and then losing to us would be nice too.

  29. Displaced says:

    Joey’s post about AK got me thinking about how we perform as a team against teams higher in the standings and lower in the standings (based on current standings, not standings when the game was played), at home and on the road.  For your stat trivia consumption…

     

    When we play teams ahead of us in the standings, when we’re at home:

    6-2-1… 25gf/21ga… 2.8 GF on average/2.3 GA on average… 30 shots for on average/35 shots against on average

     

    When we play teams ahead of us in the standings, when we’re on the road:

    4-6-0… 25gf/34ga… 2.5gfa/3.4gaa…  32sfa/34saa

     

    When we play teams behind us in the standings, when we’re at home:

    14-6-5… 74gf/64ga… 3.0gfa/2.6gaa…  35sfa/29saa

     

    When we play teams behind us in the standings, when we’re on the road:

    11-9-1… 48gf/46ga… 2.3gfa/2.2gaa…  32sfa/29saa

     

    Two things stood out. 

    1. Our home record against team higher than us is our best record, despite being outshot

    2. Home ice means more to this team than the quality of the opposition

     

    Here are the 8 games against higher ranks teams on Bell Ice:

     

    10/13  Tampa Bay:  4-3 OTL, 2 short handed goals against and give up 48 shots

    11/9    Vancouver: 2-1 win, Price stopped all 34 shots for the shutout

    11/16  Philadelphia: 3-1 win, Price is the star and stops 40 of 41

    12/4    San Jose: 3-1 win, Price is the star and stops 26 of 27

    12/15  Philadelphia: 5-3 loss, first time this season we outshot a better team at home and we lose

    12/16  Boston: 4-3 win, Price stars again

    1/6      Pittsburgh: 2-1 win, outshot Carey stars

    1/8      Boston: 3-2 OT win, outshoot them 42-29 and win in OT

    1/12    Pittsburgh: 5-2 loss badly outshot, let up 4 PP goals

     

    Looks like we can beat Boston and Philly when we play at home and Price plays a big game. 

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  30. HardHabits says:

    Because the “nyúl nem szőrös”

  31. punkster says:

    I agree. Gatorade tastes terrible at room temperature.

    ***Subbang!!!***

  32. HardHabits says:

    The kids these days. So many think they can get by without supervision or guidance.

  33. patience is a virtue says:

    lol.  i like that part.

    ya, you are right, he would be just as crazy to say he expects them to win the Cup.  he just can’t say he doesn’t, which is the part of your interview quote he won’t say.  the rest is pretty close to what he has been saying, isn’t it?

  34. Displaced says:

    Not really or a least not explicity.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  35. Displaced says:

    I skipped almost all my classes in University and slept through the ones I attended.  One of the only things I remember was my economics prof setting a ring toss game for two year-olds. 

    He stood right beside it and made shot after shot.  Then he stepped back 50 feet and missed shot after shot.  After a few minutes of this he explained that if the game is too easy it’s boring and you leave.  If the game is too hard it’s frustrating and you leave. 

    His point that I apply to many things when you’re honest with yourself and those that you lead, they respect you for it.  Tallon would sound like an idiot and lose his charges if he said we were going to make the playoff after selling off players.  PG would seem like an idiot to his players even in the private confines of an all players meeting if he said, “we EXPECT to win it all this year.”  At best, he probably said, “We like where we’re going, our vets are helping develop our young players and we’re coalescing as a team.  We had some injury setbacks this year so we decided not to mortgage our future and chose to save our dry powder for the next couple of years to make a serious run.  But, Carey is playing great and we have Cup winners in the room, so we would like to build on last year’ success.”

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  36. Displaced says:

    … while the Battle Hymn of the Republic plays in the background.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  37. patience is a virtue says:

    lol.  Doggy, have another martini and lighten up.  Not so sad that the coach, players and fans have hope for another long run and Stanley Cup championship this year.  It would be totally nutso for the GM to set the bar any lower – he’d be seriously repremanded by the Molsonis, at best.  His job is to do the dirty work behind the scenes and to project confidence and vision to the adoring public, not ho hum realism. 

    I said, quite explicitly, that I agree with your assessment of PG’s “realistic scenario” plan, but it is totally reasonable to expect the Habs to go further than any of the 5 teams currently ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings and it would send a terrible message to his team if he doubted their prospects in public.

    After all, they have proved such doubters wrong before.  Do you really think they should be put into a positon where they have to prove their own GM a mistaken doubter as well?  Come now.  That would be sad.

  38. Displaced says:

    Classic. 

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  39. patience is a virtue says:

    correction – chances are pretty good that the world has been suddenly completely covered in soot a few times, including at the end of the Mesozoic Era, 65 million years ago (i.e. when the dinosaurs died out)

  40. patience is a virtue says:

    The world being suddenly covered in soot and it’s implications for Tide and its shareholders is not really comparable to the likelihood the the Habs win the Cup this year.  The first would be totally unprecedented, the second would be a happy surprise for us, but not at all out of the ordinary in terms of NHL history.

    A best case scenario big picture stuff vision for PG has to be win the Cup this season and he might get himself fired if he said anything public that set his team’s, or the public’s, expectations any lower.

  41. Displaced says:

    Very, very sad that sophisticated, informed Habs fans can’t accept a GM saying 60+ games into a regular season filled with injuries and a lack of scoring, that “this isn’t our year”.  That, “we blew up the team less than two years ago and need to complete the rebuilding process”.  That rioting in the streets might ensue because Pierre Gauthier deigns to say “there are five teams in the east with better records and likely better chances reach the Cup Final than us, but we think we have good team built for the playoffs and getting better each year…” 

    Very, very sad.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  42. Displaced says:

    Sure, anything can happen. 

    P&G provides analysts with their expectations and broad strokes strategies for Tide for the next 5-10 years.  The world could be, unexpectedly, covered in soot tomorrow and they could sell 10x more Tide than they forecast this year.  That doesn’t excuse them for providing their investors, employees and other constituents with their plan.  And, it shouldn’t excuse PG.

    I can’t image the leader of ANY institution NOT providing the publicly consumable aspects of his vision.  The only person it benefits is PG, because it makes it impossible to measure his future success of lack thereof.  BG said he had a five-year plan when he started.  Five years later, we didn’t win it all.  We were first overall.  Is that what he meant?  We’ll never know.  He offered us very little.  PG offers us even less.  It’s stunning that sophisticated managers like the Molsons who run business built on marketing can’t appreciate the importance of communication between their leadership and fans.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  43. patience is a virtue says:

    likewise!  but i’d better get back to work now :)

  44. Displaced says:

    Crap – work… I actually have a five year plan to finish today.  I guess work spilled over into more important stuff.  Sorry.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  45. Displaced says:

    Just having some fun.  I come here for the laughs and stick around for thoughtful discussion with good people like you. 

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  46. patience is a virtue says:

    ouch.  you do me an injustice, good sir.  there is a difference between what i’ve said PG should say in public in our, lol, “raging debate below”, and my answer to kroberto’s question.

    just scroll down a little further beyond the rage for my cautious optimism for the tough month ahead.

    i’d be happy to finish 4th-6th and satisfied with 7th as i like playing Boston.  8th seems like suicide.  i prefer the leafs take that first round assignment, tyvm.

  47. twocents says:

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve another suggestion, perhaps you should change your first line to, “Let’s change the subject to something we can fret about…”

    Huh, whadaya think? 

     

  48. bigjack says:

    “Canadiens have put together a url for the first time in a month”

    In skimming the article quickly, I was certain that was just another typo, but in re-reading the previous sentence, it actually made me laugh out loud! Good one Boone!

     

  49. Rugger says:

    Any of the teams ahead of us are fine with me, even Philly, who will come into it very confident and if we get them down 3 games to none, we will not pull a B’s.

  50. Displaced says:

    Based on the raging debate below, the only acceptable answer to “Where should the Habs realistically finish this season?” must be, First – empathetically and without hesitation.  We are going to win it all.

    Sorry, realistically, I’d say we finish fifth, ahead of Pittsburgh because with Sid they look pretty awful and I don’t think he’s coming back any time soon.  Agree that Washington made some nice moves and that their D has been stronger than most people realize this year.  I think we open against the Caps, but I’d prefer to play TB.  We proved last year that we can shut down one-dimensional offensive teams. 

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  51. forskis says:

    Pittsburgh in the first round would be nice.

    “I am guilty of using elipses…”

  52. krob1000 says:

    Where should the Habs realistically finish this season?…with a Crosby return nowhere in sight I see Pittsburgh dropping.  I like Washington’s moves at the deadline and think they will actually improve their position and may actually overtake the Lightning..should be close anyway. I can’t see anyone in the rearview mirror catching us either.  So, with that all said I believe we finish 5th or 6th with an outside shot at 4th.  We will likely play TB or Washington in round one and maybe Pittsburgh but I think the Bruins will run away with the 2 seed now. Given the choice of the 3 I would think PIttsburgh would be the obvious favourite in my mind of who I would prefer to see….then probably TB and then Washington….thoughts anyone? who would you prefer us to play?

  53. Displaced says:

    The definition of “fan” includes “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion”.  So why even pretend that PG can treat them rationally?

    Perhaps the Montreal fans aren’t as sophisticated as we’d like to believe if can only hear “we can win it all this year” every year, despite our standing, other statistics and visual evidence that this time is near the middle of the pack for 1.75 regular seasons.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  54. Displaced says:

    There is middle ground between a pompous media whore and a Hughes-esque recluse. 

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  55. Morenz7 says:

    Burke, much as I loath him, recently transformed players with no future on his team into a fistful of draft picks and some decent prospects. His bluster is irrelevant to his performance as a GM, in my view. He’s made bad moves and good moves— much like PG.

    I think his bluster does come into play where the team’s performance is concerned: the “truculent” diatribes were plain silly, and resulted in a lot of players doing a lot of stupid things on the ice.

  56. Malreg says:

    I somewhat disagree.  I prefer PG’s approach as to someone like Brian Burke, who sees the need to give an interview everyday just to hear himself speak, and does his trade negotiations through the media.  I can imagine that quite a few teams don’t like dealing with Burke just because they know they will hear him talk about it on radio the next day.

    Would it be nice to hear more of what is on PG’s mind, sure, but I don’t mind the quiet approach.  Could you imagine the median and fan reaction if he came out and said “I’d like to win one or two playoff series this year so we can let our young players build on their successful season.”.  He can’t admit that he doesn’t think we can win the stanley cup, there would be rioting in the streets.  And like you said, Tallon has to do interviews during games to keep his fans interested and give them reason for hope.

    Also, how boring would these forums be if PG always came out and said what his plan is?  It would take all the fun away from the wild speculation that is posted here everyday :P

     

  57. Displaced says:

    Boone nailed it.  It’s easy to get caught up discussing the significance of good or bad showings against bad or worse teams like Atlanta and Florida.  As frenetic HIO-ers, we can (and likely will) fill reams of electornic paper debating our next big conundrum, “Is Sopel the shot-blocking replacement for Gorges or did we post impressive PK’s against three non-playoff teams?, Discuss”.

    The BIG PICTURE is these two wins means we solidify our playoff situation while the Eastern all-rans jostle behind us and the Eastern elite jostle ahead of us.

    On a personal note, Unlike most of you, I consume my Habs games on the Center Ice package in the US, which means a lot of really bad US regional TV production, numerous explanations of the offside rule and has-been/never-were commentators (ex-Hab Bill Lindsey last night).  But the worst is the between period “discussion”.  Truly awful.  I yearn for HNIC’s expert discussion and (kill me) even Don Cherry. 

    I offer this as context to highlilght a rare exception.  Last night Dale Tallon spoke with commentators during the first period intermission about his team, his rationale for moving players at the deadline and his blueprint for the future.  He even took the time to explain why he kept pending UFA Marty Reasoner – Tallon wants to set the tone for his franchise and retained a guy who played hard, had a better than expected season and wants to stay a Panther (it probably didn’t hurt that he has a low cap number). Now, I understand, Dale he has to stay in front of the cameras to engage skeptical and disinterested South Florida hockey fans.  But, I appreciated his candor.  Really.  He took the time to explain his vision and set timelines and milestones for success — and, this is my point.

    We all come to HIO to debate/discuss/yell at one another about JM’s and PG’s success.  We can only measure them by the yardsticks (I know, it’s metric now) we each bring to the table.  Did we win a Cup?/Are we close?/We won more playoff series than any year since ’93/Players are developing/Players aren’t developing/etc. 

    Useful and appropriate data points but, they’re are not PG’s.  Unlike Tallon, PG doesn’t offer us HIS blueprint.  He makes vague points that other teams don’t like to face our speedy team.  We have character.  We didn’t panic bringing in players to fill our depleted blueliner section.  But he didn’t say, “I’d like to win one or two playoff series this year so we can let our young players build on their successful season.  We see that as a jumping off point so add size, toughness, scoring through free agency in the off season to catapult the team into winning the division next year and move us into a shot at the Cup for the two years following that while we have most of our core under contract and have developed our young players.”  

    That would be a statement worthy of this team’s fans and appropriate for the manager of any enterprise yet alone one as large and important as Les Canadiens.  If PG has a failing, it’s a total lack of communication.  I’m not asking for top secret info like are they going to re-sign Markov, or sign Patches to a long term deal vs. one year RFA contract.  Just BIG PICTURE stuff, like where we’re going, when we can expect to get there and what we can expect to see along the way.   We deserve that.

    To quote myself, “Are we there yet?”

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  58. patience is a virtue says:

    I appreciate where you are coming from Mr. Martini Dog, as I love big picture stuff too, but I totally disagree that we “deserve” to hear it.  Actually, deserving has nothing to do with it.  It would be plain stupid for PG to be honest with us about his vision.

    It’s easy for Tallon to talk openly about his rebuild as there is no chance of hiding it.  The Habs, on the otherhand, would not be the first “non-contender” to win the Stanley Cup.  His coach and players certainly have their eye on the prize and they proved last year that anything is possible from them.  No Halak some say?  Do they doubt Carey Price’s potential to put on a similar show, or the fact that the team is much improved over last season, mostly due to the maturation of young guns?

    Whatever.  My point is that while I agree that what you have asked for PG to say is most likely his most realistic assessment and plan for the next few seasons, there is a fair chance that the best case scenario (number 25) could happen this year and he would be a fool to say anything in public that indicated that he was planning, or working towards, or expected, anything less. 

  59. punkster says:

    A couple of points:

    First, Tallon is addressing a market that couldn’t care less about hockey or the team. Mapping out a plan or forecast could be seen as an attempt to generate interest, increase awareness and engage the weak fan base more in the team’s future. You said it yourself, engaging a skeptical and disinterested fan base. PG does not need to do any of that in Montreal. It’s just not required here.

    Second, your wish to hear where we’re going, when we’ll get there and what to expect along the way may be driven by your need to finish a 5 year plan for your own company. I’m sure the Habs organization has a plan as most corporations and large businesses do but are they under any obligation to share that with the public or customers? Is your company under any obligation to do so? Would details of those plans in any way have an impact on how other corporations deal with the Habs (or your company)?

    Having worked for a large corporation for many years and being exposed to the public statements and mutterings of many of my own company and competitor executives I learned many years ago to simply tune them out. They say very little of substance in public and certainly nothing that would tip their hand. I have no problem tuning out PG, Tallon or Brian Burke when they are anywhere near a microphone. (Though I will admit Burkie is a sketch near an open mic)

    ***Subbang!!!***

  60. twocents says:

    So, is this enough to staunch the flow of bm around here?

    Knowing this saloon, not likely.

    (bm: bitching and moaning, alternate readings are also germane)

  61. patience is a virtue says:

    While I am certainly not a BMer, and often get riduculed for my staunch approval of BG’s retooling, PG’s fine tuning, JM’s all around excellent coaching, and this team’s contender potential, I do think some caution is warranted at this juncture.

    We absolutely needed these past few wins, and the win against Van made up for another must win that we dropped against a hot TO team that is in the hunt for a date with Philly.

    Why “absolutely needed”?  Because we had a second slump of the season in Feb, and the next three weeks are going to be killer – TB, Wash and Boston twice each, plus the playoff hopeful Rangers, Sabres and Wild.  It’s gonna be a tough month leading into the playoffs.

    We needed to get the MO back to help avert March BMing.  I am hopeful, but cautious about finishing 4th to 6th.  7th would be bearable.  8th?  Let’s not go there again…

  62. Mr.Hazard says:

    Carey didn’t tie Thomas for the league lead Booner, he tied second. King Henrik is 1st.

  63. Mike Boone says:

    Fixed! Thanks

  64. JF says:

    Gauthier’s moves before the deadline are starting to look pretty good.  Three games since Sopel was acquired, and no powerplay goals have been given up.  And the addition of Wisniewski in December right away sparked the powerplay.  Special teams are often the difference between winning and losing, so improvement in those areas was key.  We now have good depth on defence as well as a bit more toughness and size than we’ve had most of the season.  Sopel is fairly gritty and Mara can deliver a good hit, which means it shouldn’t be easy for the opposition to clog up our crease.  We’ll see how this plays out against the Bruins, who looked pretty dirty beating Tampa last night.  I almost wish we had another game against the Flyers so we could see how we match up.

    We’ve also got a lot of depth on our bottom two lines.  When Darche returns, JM will have lots of options there, and once the playoffs start so he wouldn’t have to go through waivers, Nigel Dawes becomes a real possibility. He’s very tough, and he seems to be on fire with the Bulldogs.

    I liked Arpon Basu’s piece on JM’s confidence in his rookies.  I don’t usually pay much attention to statistics, but the numbers he produced show that at centre also, a perrenial weakness on this team, the Habs are improving.  The progress of Eller and Desharnais is giving JM options there too, and it seems inevitable that Gomez will get less ice-time and become less necessary to the team.  I haven’t bashed him and I’d love him to start producing, but if he doesn’t and others do, the organization will have to conclude at some point that he no longer fits, and find a way to move him.

    We’ve seen in the last half-dozen games how good Andrei Kostitsyn can be with the right linemates.  Many among the fans and the media thought and hoped he would be traded at the deadline.  I was not among them, and I repeat that I hope he is re-signed this summer.  We want strength, size, toughness, scoring ability, defensive responsibility – he brings them all in spades.  

  65. Number31 says:

    Meh… Darcy Hordichuk can go away. Habs were busy playing hockey and making sure the Panthers took ZERO momentum from anything he was trying to start. Puck first. I liked how they protected Price though, even Gionta was tossing guys from his face.

    Looks to me like the staff finally has some interchangeable parts to rest the older legs in game more. Hamr’s minutes are down and he’s not puffing around the ice. However, why Halpern who’s the BEST faceoff man on the team doesn’t take more faceofffs now I’ll never know…

  66. Timo says:

    Indeed, except for one shift I haven’t noticed Hordichuk all game.

  67. Sisterray says:

    *Lundqvist has 8 shutouts to Thomas/Price’s 7

  68. Ali says:

    so not the guys who deserve it then? reward the guy who’s been brutal for 60+ games?

  69. joeybarrie says:

    The few issues I have with Boone’s post.

    -AK saving his best for when the team needs it most. Agreed he has picked up his points lately. He is also streaky, like Cammi. However I looked at his stats for when he had multiple point games this season. 3 times vs OTT, FLA, CAR, LAK, BUF, NYI, and PHX. Not a single team that is having a better season than us. So I will say this. We will see if Boone is right about AK tomorrow, cause we need it most against Tampa…

    -Gomez having the most playing time. When the team is winning 4-0 or even 2-0 after the first. I do not seeany problem with letting Gomez have alot of ice time to help get him out of this slump. I think the problem is people simply think because of his contract and his lack of performance that he is a worse player than he actually is. People WANT him to fail, so they can say I told you so. But Gomez is one of the better players in the NHL and is having an off season. I am not saying he is worth 7.3 million, so dont get started on that, but while your team is doing well, give theice time to the players who NEED it….

     

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  70. punkster says:

    Well I remember it from The Unforgiven (1992) but the phrase has been around longer I believe.

    ***Subbang!!!***

  71. Ali says:

    quoting the Wire is a sure way to win me over

  72. punkster says:

    Deserve got nuthin’ to do with it.

    ***Subbang!!!***

  73. punkster says:

    Interesting discussion. I do think though that in a pro sports market there are factors that come in to play that you won’t see in an ordinary business environment. You make a point of saying that injuries play a part and that’s one thing. Another is the way the league is structured with revenue sharing. Another is how the owners really define how the business model of the entire market operates…hell they design it and run it. There are 30 competitive companies in the market but they’re not really competitive as businesses, only on the ice, but the competition on the ice helps drive their individual profits. They’re really in collusion with eachother in fact.

    Whoa…this is way off track here. I was trying to point out that because pro sports franchises aren’t ordinary businesses they don’t follow ordinary business practices. Hence no need to go about making bold proclamations, predictions or publicizing specific plans. But like any business they have to be able to react to the changes in their unique market including injuries, contract expirations, the Cap, RFA, UFA and God forbid, players who turn out to be duds.

    Hey…maybe I’ll come back to this later. :)

    ***Subbang!!!***

  74. Displaced says:

    Come back soon, I need a reason to procrastinate.

     

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  75. Displaced says:

    You’re right.  Gauthier isn’t obligated by law to provide insights, we’re not investors.  Montreal is a mature hockey market so he doesn’t have to be visible.  You’re also right that my frustrations for preparing a plan are spilling into this. But I sure would like him to define our identify.  If not explicitly by sharing elements of his vision then by sticking to a plan. 

    At least I hope he has a plan.  Maybe I can’t read the tealeaves as well as others or maybe I’m too lazy, but I can’t infer our strategy from his moves.  I’m not complaining.  We’re top 10 and had a good run last year. 

    There seems to be little consistency in what he does, so at best I’d say we’re opportunistic.

    We’re a defensive team because BG hired JM and that’s his preferred style and then signed small, fast forwards – inconsistent. 

    Most of our stars have three years left on their contracts suggesting our time is soon and then we have as many as eight regulars with in their first or second year yes, injuries play a part in this) — inconsistent. 

    We make our AHL team an integral part of our strategy and cut our scouting staff and trade away 2nd rounders virtually every year — Moore, Wiz, upgrade for Tinordi (yes, injuries play a part in this too) — inconsistent. 

    We had to move a goalie last year, St. Louis called and we picked up Eller.  Good, talented young player at a position where we had signed Gomez and Plecs in the two prior years — just strange.  Was this part of PG’s plan, or was he just reacting to a team that called him that suited a need?

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  76. The Teacher says:

    Oh no you didn’t!

     

    Make sense, that is :)

  77. Chuck says:

    What makes you think that we CAN’T beat Pittsburgh? They were an even better team with Malkin and Crosby last spring, and we all know what happened there…

  78. forskis says:

    They ARE a good team…but without Malkin and Crosby, they are not a GREAT team…besides, it would be an interesting experiment to watch…TB has the QC voodoo and WSH with its new commitment to defence is so out-of-this-world, I do not want to see the results until later.

    Besides, aren’t the Habs SUPPOSED to take advantage of “weakened” teams?  No Malkin and Crosby is “weakened”.

    “I am guilty of using elipses…”

  79. RetroMikey says:

    Um, what makes you think we can beat Pittsburgh? 

    They still are a good team without Malkin and Crosby,

     

     

     

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


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