About last night …

A terse and pithy (yeath, it will have great pith) edition of ALN because I have to dash downtown to join Mio, Hickey and Stubbs for the Habs I/O podcast.

Was it just a couple weeks ago we were talking about the Canadiens’ three scoring lines?

Now they have one. And if anything – slump, injury, ominous horoscope – happens to Tomas Plekanec-Alex Kovalev-Andrei Kostitsyn, this team is in deep sewage.

On the day La Presse decided he should be traded, Saku Kovu played a very good game: skated hard, plenty of energy, battled for pucks, no offensive-zone penalties.

But for the love of Michael Ryder, get the Captain some wingers!

The Sergei Kostitsyn/Guillaume Latendresse experiment was a disaster. The kids had no clue as to where they should be or where Koivu was or what the centre might set up for them. The line played like they’d met each other for the first time in a bar an hour before the game.

By the third period, Christopher Higgins was back with Koivu and Sergei K. I think Guy Carbonneau should leave this line intact, at least through the upcoming road trip.

Failing that, the coach should reunite Koivu, Higgins and Ryder and play Sergei with Maxim Lapierre and Latendresse. The Kid Line showed promise before Carbo, the compulsive tinkerer, started futzing around with it.

Let’s hope Roman Hamrlik is back for the game in Ottawa tomorrow. But Patrice Brisebois wasn’t bad last night, and Carbo may be tempted to move Mark Streit up front to give the Bryan Smolinski line some punch.

 

Bright spots?

Not too darn many.

• The Pleks line, of course. While recollections of the Jacques Lemaire-Guy Lafleur-Steve Shutt have been bandied about, I’ll make a more contemporary comparison: This is the most dynamic line since Doug Gilmour was centring Oleg Petrov and Richard Zednik. They had that great playoff series against Boston before Kyle MacLaren laid Zednik out.

• Josh Gorges is the number four defenceman on this team. He was solid again last night, with a succession of partners.

• Carey Price didn’t show any rust. Price wasn’t brilliant, but nor was he to be blamed on the three goals that beat him. I just wish he’d have a stand-on-your-head, 40-save game one of these nights.

• Vesa Toskala was the game’s first star, but I thought he had an easy 34-save night. Canadiens didn’t go to the net, didn’t screen him, didn’t pounce on the few rebounds he gave up.

• Leafs had 14 shots in the first period. Pith-poor defensive effort against a visiting team that isn’t the Detroit Red Wings.

• Add Mats Sundin to the long list of players who won’t be sending Mike Komisarek a valentine.

• Love him or hate, you have to admit Darcy Tucker is a player.

• Jason Blake is a whiner, a yapper, a diver and an overpaid pain in the ass. After Steve Downie popped him – probably the only fight of his career in which Downie was the sentimental favourite – P.J. Stock’s friend and fellow tough guy Jim Cummins derisively summed up Blake: "Jason Blake’s mouth writes cheques his body can’t cash."

On to Ottawa, where Dany Heatley and Daniel F, await.

 

 

129 Comments

  1. likehoy says:

    i think that’s just crazy talk.

  2. nightmare_49 says:

    i agree , and Streit is a great sub on “D” but to play regular he’s too soft for the NHL , not so in Europe , and the opposing teams notice this and dump it in his end and pound.

  3. The Teacher says:

    How about this spin.

    Hamrlik is not really sick. He is just sitting like Ryder because he is being included in a trade and they do not want him to get injured.

    Now who could Ryder AND Hamrlik get us?

  4. likehoy says:

    i just read that we’re interested in Yannick Perreault…not surprised considering how bad we are on face offs…but can he still play hockey?

  5. The Teacher says:

    Jim M has a point Sidhu. Koivu should have at LEAST 15 more assists.

    It may be a matter of execution rather than vision in Koivu’s case even disregarding the 15 more assists argument. Everything about him seems off.

    But when you have the French AND English media all calling for him to be traded…..

    It’s just sad IMO.

  6. Jim M says:

    sidhu

    Maybe you’re forgetting Koivu’s 53 assists last year with one good eye? How many assists do you think he’d have this year if his wingers were putting the puck in the net like last year?

  7. Ed says:

    Oh my God, not that Ryan Getslaff (as in laffs) fellow again. cournoyer, you sucked me in good.

  8. sidhu says:

    Koivu – maybe a couple years ago. He makes good plays from behind the net, but I haven’t been impressed beyond that.

  9. ebk says:

    I was just being a smart-ass. I like them all.

  10. howtathor says:

    Thanks for the info!

  11. Ed says:

    Knowing you, I am sure that you would make an excellent argument for Kovalev, and there is lots of ammunition available for you to work with.

  12. likehoy says:

    we could always roll the dice with him…see if he can score…if not…we can just send him to the AHL and hope he gets stolen…or he just plays in the minors…no biggie…we might lose 20-40k into the salary cap for him…not that bad for someone who has a history of scoring goals.

  13. Mike says:

    It’s not that heir bad, or that they are amazing. Its that if we utilize their skills, because every player has a specific skill, then we can form an amazing team.

  14. ebk says:

    I’d argue and probably win that it is Kovalev. :)

  15. Ed says:

    For some reason he had only 11 goals last year, and is now in the Swiss league. I think his days in the NHL are over.

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php3?pid=847

  16. likehoy says:

    yea but they all have heart…key ingredient i guess is that they have the will-power and desire to want it bad enough. (questionable for the french mario and luigi).

  17. ClaytonM says:

    It looks like Gainey and Carbo have 3 choices.

    1) Trade to get Koivu a winger
    2) Trade Koivu for a 2nd line C
    3) Stand pat

    So here are my thoughts on his options

    1) Who is really a viable option? He can’t trade away our future to land a mercenary who will leave after a playoff run. We’re not in a position like Detroit or Ottawa that needs that 1 puzzle piece. Do we have a shot at Forsberg or this Brunnstrom guy? I doubt it. Is Hossa the guy we need for Saku or will he disappear come the playoffs? What is the asking price for Martin St. Louis? How pissed of is Savard at Martin Havlat?

    Of all the options Gainey had, my favorite would have been sigining Selanne. Oh well.

    2) I’d never have thought it a possibility and I still doubt Saku is going anywhere unless of course HE asks for a trade. The way the media and some of the fans have acted in the past and specifically this year, as much as I’d hate to see Saku in another team’s jersey, I wouldn’t blame him for demanding a trade. The guy’s been here 11 years and the best winger he’s had in that time was Mark Recchi. He’s continually assaulted in the french press by petty little douchebags who would be happy to have a no-heart guy like Pierre Turgeon back as Captain just because he’s quebecois, even if it meant we’d have to fight the laffs for the draft lottery instead of the sans for 1st in the East.

    If you leave, Saku, I hope you win a Stanley Cup before we get our 25th.

    3) Here’s the thing. If everyone who “knows hockey” was right and we should not be where we are in the standings, then we need Gainey to choose option 1 or 2. If in fact they’re a better team than they gave them credit for then why fix it if it ain’t broken? We have 7 players with 10+ goals, and if they stand pat, it’s a sure thing Streit, Ryder and S. Kost. will reach the 10 goal mark. The only team with more is Detroit with 8. It might sound like a meaningless stat, but what it shows is we have a team, not just one line (regardless of the posts and opinions spouted in the last 24 hours) or one player (Alex the Great). I’d take that over getting our due from the TSN Player Rankings, especially when it comes with probably the best blue line and goalie tandem in the NHL.

    Carbo needs to meet with Koivu Higgins & Ryder and tell them he’s putting them together for the remainder of the season to work out their issues. He needs to leave the Plekanec line alone, and he needs to tell the remaining forwards that they’ll be fighting for ice time even after a huge win against Boston. It’s time for Koivu’s line to produce. It’s also time for our 3rd & 4th lines to contribute on a daily basis, not just in a blowout win.

  18. likehoy says:

    what’s funny is that everyone based our success on how alex kovalev does this year. Even Red Fisher did. Clearly everyone knew how good alex kovalev can be for our team, it’s whether or not he wanted to. I think he’s a year too early…next year is his contract year…unless he has more up his bag of tricks for next year.

  19. Ed says:

    Great analysis. The main thing is that we are very lucky to have both of them in our lineup. Plekanec does adjust his play as if he is waiting for other players to get into position. It’s amazing how he can hold on to the puck. As to that back check against Toronto, that was so amazing that they should add +5 to his +/-.

  20. New says:

    Last week they’re heros, this week zeros. Ever think that nothing has changed except your perceptions?

    Sorry, they’re not that good. Good news, they’re not that bad.

    There are a handfull of players in the league that can change a team.
    Smile, you have one.
    Kovalev.

  21. likehoy says:

    guys lets roll the dice and sign anson carter.

    we need some street cred. maybe a few goals too.

  22. likehoy says:

    prove what?

    i don’t think we’re on the same wavelength here…

  23. The Teacher says:

    I have to admit these are the two players with the best vision of the ice on our team

    . Pleky is a master at adjusting his speed and angles himself to buy time for trailing players to enter the zone. He has a good sense of where the player will be and adjusts his pass to compensate. His defencive vision is off the charts. What a play he made to back check and poke check the puck away near the end of a breakaway for a Toronto player.

    Markov is more of a quick pass player and will put it right on your stick. He also makes good decisions that will maximize his team’s chances heading up the ice. He can put himself into a certain spot on the ice heading across his own blue line to ensure that the puck will get into the other teams zone at a minimum. (Except for last night’s pass). A lot of his passes to Kovy from the left point to right side of the ice are easy for him to see. (not that the execution is easy, mind you)

    So, vision? Depends on how you define it.

  24. Jim M says:

    Teacher

    I like your posts. Then I get to see your shadow’s comments. Always good for a laugh.


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