About last night …

A win, two valuable points to move within one of the Senators … but it was oddly unsatisfying.

You like to see your team at its best in the late stages of a game. Example: Eli Manning driving the Giants down the feld with the clock ticking down.

Your Montreal Canadiens: Four shots in the third period. The tying goal was inches from the line when Francis Bouillon swept it away. Saku Koivu (more about the captain later) lost a late faceoff in the Canadiens’ end, and were it not for a heroic zone-clearing effort by Steve Bégin, that one could have headed for OT.

Playing without Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley – both of whom will be back for the rematch at Scotiabank Place on Saturday – the Senators fired 12 shots at Cristobal Huet in the third period. They buzzed his net, harassed him, forced the Frenchman, he admitted later, to lose his habitual cool.

What is it with Canadiens’ three-goal leads? Nashville, the Rangers … and Ottawa darn near. I’m not enough of an Xs-and-Os guy to analyze the way Canadiens protect leads. But whatever the system is, it’s not working.

But a win is a win. Cristobal Huet was excellent … again. The defence played well without one of its stalwarts, Roman Hamrlik. And the Canadiens’ indisputable number one line – Tomas Plekanec centring Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn – is treating Montreal fans to thrills we haven’t had since Jacques Lemaire was centring Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt.

Gotta love those European skill levels. And the magic seems to extend as far west as Switzerland. Mark Streit scored his ninth goal last night. That’s one fewer than Koivu – and he’s matched the captain’s 29 assists.

With his ability to play on defence and up front plus QBing the power play, Streit is one of the most valuable players on the team.

He’s certainly Canadiens’ best bargain at $600,000. Unlike Michael Ryder, Streit is setting himself up for a very nice UFA contract.

Sign him, Bob.

The Canadiens GM might also think about re-signing his other bargain-basement defenceman. Josh Gorges, who played almost 23 minutes last night, makes $495,000 and is an impending RFA.

Streit and Gorges together are making a shade under $1.1 million. Mathieu Dandenault makes $1.75 million. Life is not fair.

• The Captain is making $4.75 million. And you hate to say it, but Saku Koivu is not earning the money. Yet another offensive-zone hook put Ottawa back in the game –  just as Koivu’s penalty had done against the Rangers.

Is it fatigue at this stage of the season? Koivu is an older player, and we all know his heroic medical history.

Is it instability on his line? Ryder has had a nightmare season and Christopher Higgins has blown hot and cold. Sergei Kostitsyn was better off on the Kid Line.

Koivu was benched for most of the third period last night. That shouldn’t be happening to a team’s captain and leader … although the leadership role is starting to migrate one dressing room stall over to number 27. 

• Chris Neil gave Andrei Markov a shot at the final siren. We’re going to see a lot of that down the stretch and into the playoffs. I’m not overly concerned, although I sometimes wish Tom Kostopoulos were three inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. It’s great to  have a Chris Neil, but Brian McGrattan played three minutes last night.  Tom the Bomb played 11:41. Guy Carbonneau’s insistence on rolling four lines all season may help explain the extraordinary good luck Canadiens have had with injuries.

• Speaking of pests, Maxim Lapierre has to  step it up. His line, with Dandenault and Guillaume Latendresse, did nothing last night, and they barely played in the third period. 

• With the Senators screening him and slapping him around, Huet made 26 saves –  many of them difficult. He’s a very good goalie.

 • Carbo wouldn’t tip his hand, but we’ll probably see Carey Price against Toronto tomorrow. The Leafs lost 8-0 to Florida at the ACC last night. How sad is that?

• After the game Kovy said Canadiens need 35 more points to make the playoffs. Canadiens have 67. François Gagnon thinks 94 should do it, so Canadiens need 27 points in their last 28 games.

 

 

127 Comments

  1. likehoy says:

    wouldn’t assign a captain…3 A’s would be enough granted the situation. many teams don’t have a captain or are rotating captains.

    Maybe a player vote to assign a captain would be necessary. Koivu has been captain since 23 or 24…and that was through a player vote where everyone thought shayne corson was going to be captain..i wouldn’t feel comfortable if they JUST gave the C to anyone on the team

    also the A is not a C…

    just because they have an A doesn’t mean they’re in line for a C…

    would you have had souray, rivet, higgins, or begin wear the C?

    just because kovy’s been a mentor to young russians doesn’t mean he can command the room. Hamrlik groomed phaneuf? why wasn’t he offered a C or an A? It’s just natural veteran leadership.

    and out of my own personal opinion…playing on several athletic teams…the captain has to be ready to lay his body on the line at any moment and has to be dedicated to the team and is never bigger than the team at any point. After Kovalev’s turmoil season last year and all his negative publicity…His desire has escaped me. He’s only had half a good season so far…and that’s not enough to convince me he’s the real deal as a true leader for the team. If he keeps it up into next season, then maybe his attitude has changed for good, but for now I feel it’s too premature and as an athlete…you don’t want to enter the dressing room asking your captain “so which game are you bringing tonight?? the one where you score…or the one where you disappear?”

  2. sidhu says:

    You can never have enough cap space moving forward – Higgins, Komisarek, Pleks, Streit, AK46 are all going to get significant pay increases in the next year or two. (See Boone’s next post.)

    Of course we are a contender, but Saku has a NTC – he won’t go to another team unless it also is a contender.

    I don’t hear anyone complaining that Kovy has had the “A” all season long – so why the fuss when his leadership status moves up? Has he been so enigmatic that he deserves the “A” but not the “C”? That makes little sense. And, assuming Saku does leave, who else will you give the “C” too? Higgins? Komisarek? Begin? There is no doubt the Pleks line has been our best all season. There is no doubt Kovy has been a mentor to the younger players like AK46 and SK74.

  3. Hockey11 says:

    Fair comments but remember he was acquired as a UFA so those players always get a little more money because the team did not have to give up anything to get them. I agree he could complement the better players. He was a set up man in Jr as a forward and is very comfortable in that role. Remember too he is very durable, he is versatile and playoff proven. If you look at the minutes played in the Carolina Cup series he was 4-5 D man in minutes played, not minutes per game. He is very strong defensively and I think he has been hampered by the team tactics of not being allowed to play his game. Remember he went to camp and did the whole camp as a D-man and switched to forward for game one. He had played the last 9 years without the puck and I have seen him get more comfortable each time out. His 7 goals is more than Begin, Kosto, Lapierre, Smoke, Hammer, Komi, S Kost,Breezer and he plays less than every player on most nites, he has 2 less goals than Streit and Dandy has not taken a shift on the PP this season.

    As this team heads for the playoffs we need all hands on deck and we are one game away from an injury that causes the deck to be shuffled again. Carbo needs to keep everyone charged up and he has this propensity to demote players. Why not come out and say that we are the enviable position of having everyone healthy and he will rotate guys in and out based on who we are playing, no one minds sitting out once in while in a positive environment.

  4. Hockey11 says:

    Okay, elaborate. Both Gui and Dandy drew penalties that resulted in goals. Dandenault had strong wall play and one on one play. This line played more minutes that the Smokes line except Gui who is a defensive liability on a checking line late in tight games. What more do you want from players playing 8-12 minutes a game? They can only do what is asked of them. The team need more 5 on 5 scoring from their big money, big minutes players. Why does Carbo play head games with the minions? BTW, Ribiero went to the All Star Game and Rivet is flourishing. Think playoffs people, that is where we are headed and it ain’t for the faint of heart either.

    More Carbo head games, Higgins fourth line is idiotic and if you want to sit someone, how about Koivu, he is simply not delivering, seems like there is a double standard with this coach.

  5. likehoy says:

    cap space? we have plenty…we have enough cap space to add both jokinen and hossa if ryder heads in a different direction…(10 million in total)

    contending team? hello? we’re 2nd in the east…last time i checked…that’s pretty good contention…oh wait…saku is our second line centre too…funny…how that fits…

    and with regards with kovy getting the “C”…i understand he’s having a terrific season, but don’t forget that he’s been labeled an enigma since the start of his career, not just his time in montreal but in pittsburgh and new york too…as long as you sincerely think kovy deserves to lead this team into the future knowing he is not the most consistent player per year…then all the power to you…just don’t jump on his bandwagon…

  6. howtathor says:

    Higgy isn’t half the skill player that Hossa is but has twice the heart. Which one would you take?

  7. sidhu says:

    Mr Boone, thank you for your comments, especially your honest critique of our captain’s play. Just because he is the captain doesn’t mean he’s above criticism and some might argue he should be held to a heightened standard because he is the captain and our highest paid forward.

    I’ve advocated trying to see what we can get for him on the open market – I think he’d make a solid second line center on a contending team – but practically speaking it would surprise me if he was separated from this franchise.

    As I said the other night – give Kovy the “C”, make Koivu a Habs ambassador, and use the cap space for a star (Hossa perhaps??).

  8. ebk says:

    seems like a pretty fine hair to split to me

  9. Mr.Hazard says:

    I think Lapierre was alright last night, but his line was a different story…

    Ex nihilo nihil fit

  10. likehoy says:

    ahhhh gotcha…lol…just read team in florida and i was like? why would we trade hossa for jokinen? wait…jokinen’s like #39…#4??? lol

    but ya vinny makes sense now

  11. likehoy says:

    #4 jay bouwmeester??

  12. likehoy says:

    dandy is a complementary top sixer as a forward…and a smooth skating 5th or 6th dman. The problem is he’s not gritty enough to play a 3rd or 4th line role, but he has the speed and backchecks, but if he were to play on the first or second lines, he will pick up garbage points from being a good skater and willing to work for his goals. He can be a 30-35 point forward…or a passive defensive forward…or a dman you wish could pass the puck better. Either way he doesn’t exactly fit into our system or depth. When your whole team is amazing like detroits was, it’s hard to be bad cause everyone covers your ass, that’s why they win cups. Dandeneault in no way was the main part of the Detroit cup wins, he rather enjoyed the ride…which is why we thought he was good and offered him 1.75 million a year and was supposed to replace brisebois, but never lived up offensively and we complained his first year here.

    Overall…dandy is overpaid for any of the roles he plays…and he’s a veteran that can help a young team missing depth. Does he fit into our plans? Not so much considering we have 2 players each night rotating with his spot, along with another possible player down in the AHL that goes by the name “Freddy.” and streit is virtually the same player as him in his role for the team, and streit just does it better and at a cheaper rate.

  13. Wencz says:

    Good points.


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