About last night …

A few short snappers before I dash off to join my mates for the Habs I/O podcast:

• The Flying Frenchman Meets Québécois Quicksand: the Canadiens posterboys, Maxim Lapierre and Guillaume Latendresse, combined for a hinery of a goal in OT. It was Latendresse’s 12th. I’m a Gui!-liever – and I’ve been mad about Max since last season.

• Tomas Plekanec, Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn are generating more electricity than the Bell Centre (or the Forum, for that matter) has enjoyed in a long, long, long time.

• Mark Streit makes $600,000 and is a pending UFA. Sign him, Bob. Three years.

• Josh Gorges had a roiugh start against the Hawks but was solid for the rest of the game. I like his puckhandling, passing, skating and willingness tro hit and be hit.

• Man, the power play really misses Sheldon Souray, eh? Two more last night – and two at even strength.

• Bryan Smolinski says he’ll be ready for tomorrow’s game in Boston. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in for Corey Locke.

• It wasn’t easy or elegant last night but a W is a W and those two points could be vaulable in April. Nice homestand: five of a possible six points.

 

106 Comments

  1. Ian G Cobb says:

    OK Boys and Girls, here again are this weeks 3 most telling stats for a winning club.

    1st most important is GA-120 that puts us in 19th place, same as last week.

    2nd is total points 50 puts us in 8th place up from 9th last week.

    3rd is GF-130 that puts us in 4th place up from 6th last week.

    We are progressing well each week but our GA has to be better. It is the most important stat of all, because it is a whole team stat. Out of 30 teams, we are well below 500%

    Next week ? IAN

  2. Bill H says:

    Exactly how I feel Chuck. Thanks for making an excellent point. I want them all to play well so the team does well. This bickering back and forth bashing one goalie or the other is really childish.

  3. JasonM says:

    Kinda hard to win faceoffs when you have Yanic Perreault in front of you. He’s what 67% success rate on the faceoffs? Incredible.

  4. likehoy says:

    interesting stats…we’re 4th in the league for goals scored
    detroit 152
    ottawa 148
    carolina 135
    montreal/calgary 130

    top scorers in respective order:
    zetterberg 26; datsyuk 17; holmstrom 17
    heatley, alfie 25; fisher, spezza 15
    Staal 23, Whitney 20, stillman 19
    Iginla 32; Huselius 20; Langkow 16

    Kovalev 18, Higgins 15, Plekanec 13

    (Kovalchuk 35, ovechkin 32…almost double kovalevs)

    our top scorer, kovalev, would rank in the bottom 3 of the top scorers of the 4 teams around us.

    that says something about our depth in scoring. We have 3 lines that contribute despite not having a super scorer. We’re built for playoffs.

  5. showey47 says:

    you make alot of good points but he has only started to play anything that resembles a full season in the last 4 seasons. He has only played a full season twice in is career 02-03 and his rookie season, he played 81 last year when he had a career best. Between 1996 and 2002 he has only played over 60 games twice(but played less than 70 both seasons). Hence its not surprising now that he is putting up career numbers.

  6. J.T. says:

    Ah…I don’t think Gainey’s record is shabby at all. After signing Markov, he had money for one top UFA and some spare parts while keeping a cushion for mid-season callups and a deadline deal if anything comes up. So, he signed Hamrlik as the big kahuna, and he’s turned out admirably well. Smoke is a one-year stopgap to replace Bonk until Chipchura’s ready. TomK is a bit of grit, a bit of versatility, a good influence in the dressing room and a hard worker who can kill penalties. For what he is, he’s a decent addition.

    As for Breezer, I don’t like him as a player, and I didn’t want him back. But looking back, I can see the logic in his signing. At the time, the team had Markov, Hammer and Komisarek as top-three D. Dandenault had played himself off the blueline in camp, while Streit played his way on. So that left Bouillon as number five and an unproven Gorges as number six or seven. Since staff had concluded O’Byrne wasn’t ready for the big time yet, they needed a seventh defenceman to shuttle in and out of the lineup, play a decent ten to fifteen minutes a game and offer veteran stability when called upon…for a small salary. Breezer was cheap, he’s got experience, he has a Cup with the Habs, he can make a good outlet pass and play second-wave PP. Of course, he’s also soft as rose petals, is frequently confused in his own end and tends to make crappy passes that get intercepted a lot, when he’s not injured. He’s meant to be a cheap stopgap spare D until O’Byrne is ready to push Bouillon or Streit into that role. It’s not Gainey’s fault that Carbo tends to overuse him.

  7. ebk says:

    you are correct, sir. Excellent post.

  8. sidhu says:

    Chipper has some things to work on, especially his face-offs, though as a general matter it seems as though we would be playing Brisebois and Smoke more as an obligation than out of anything else — Gainey signed them and to have them sit would poorly reflect on Gainey.

    In my opinion, Brisebois and Smoke should be in the box, and Kosto is on the fence (though he played a heck of a game last night). This would mean that Gainey is effectively one for four with his off-season moves, with Hamr being the only regular. One for four, and not having signed a top offensive player, is pretty shabby.

    Rather than try to save face, we should do what’s best for the team — at a minimum, this means we should sit Brisebois and play Smoke only if the youngsters haven’t proven themselves.

  9. likehoy says:

    random side comment…

    I’m always entertained when Russia plays internationally cause all their names are spelled in funny russian…we should adopt that on Habs jersey’s to add flair to our europeans :P…jk

  10. RS says:

    Well, Saku has never been my favourite player. I’m not much of a fan of his at all, but I really respect his personal strength in dealing with all the off-ice stuff that has been dealt him.

    That said, he is on pace for 63 points this year, if he stays healthy (that always being a major IF). 63 points would be his third best career total. LAST YEAR HE SET CAREER HIGHS IN GOALS, ASSISTS, POINTS.

    Therefore, I don’t find it convincing that he is deteriorating as a player. He is holding up very well.

    But, to be blunt, he never has been a real first line centre. And he has taken bad offensive zone penalties for years. To be more forgiving, the guy has lots of heart and people need to have realistic expectations for the guy, especially without real or consistent first line wingers.

  11. likehoy says:

    it’s sad how we can get on everyones back on this team just because we want to win so goddamn badly. I’m not going to make excuses for Koivu, but he’ll turn it up when time comes…he always does. I’ve had faith in the guy ever since I started watching hockey…and I’m not about to give up on him.

    Another thing, I love how Latendresse loves max “laperriere”…he’s quoted for saying that max is his best friend and he was so happy max got an assist on the play…it’s a little ridiculous…let’s be a little more professional :P

  12. sidhu says:

    I think Timo and MikeL are spot on — Koivu has lost a step and deep down he likely wants to go to a contender (like his buddy Rivet did) instead of build for the future. His offensive zone penalties (the Hawks scored on Koivu’s offensive zone penalty yesterday) may be a reflection of his decreased motivation. His comments at the end of last season, to me, indicated that he has reached a point in his career where wants to win today, not down the road.

    I’ve said before that the team around him is doing well and that it would be better for the team to get a good return for him rather than having a slowed Koivu. He is one of the most respected leaders and people in the league, we should be able to get solid players in return and fulfill Koivu’s wish of going to a team that can go deep in to the playoffs this season.

  13. Blitzen says:

    So four games will be enough for them to work on things? If they brought up Locke to see what he can do then that’s fine but if they sit him for Smokes, then I think my scenario makes more sense.

    Maybe Smokes will surprise us but he seemed pretty content to cash in his pay check and go through the motions…

    Play kids instead of stiffs.

  14. showey47 says:

    i agree with your comments about koivu, i feel its a combination of age, and the long history of serious injuries are now catching up to him. I would go as far as to say that when his contract expires after next season there is a pretty good chance that he will hang them up.

  15. sidhu says:

    I believe he was put on waivers at the beginning of the season, however there obviously were no takers. It’s possible, though, that teams could have changed their minds about Locke since then.

  16. Ian G Cobb says:

    And he scored a beauty, I wonderer why some people even watch the games, are they looking for that suttle great little play that makes the difference in a game. Or are they there to wait for the next car crash. Both happens every game, which is more fun to look for !!!

  17. J.T. says:

    I think it’s simpler than that. I think Price was going down anyway to get some playing time, and get his confidence back. Chipchura has to work on some things too, and it’s beneficial to have him with Price because they’re good friends and going together would cushion the blow of demotion for both of them. Carbo hinted last night that it’s only for the four games Hamilton plays in the next week or so anyway.

    Also, it’s time to decide on Locke’s future. He needs a few games at the NHL level to determine if he’s a keeper or should be traded.

  18. krob1000 says:

    He may still be sick too or at least still trying to recouperate.

  19. Blitzen says:

    Here’s my twisted explanation for why Locke was brought up to replace Chips:

    1) Swapping a kid for a kid generates little flack for Gainey.

    2) Fans haven’t had time to evaluate Locke so sitting him for Smokes won’t generate as much anger from the fans as sitting Chips for him would have generated.

    You gotta admit that the timing of the call-up was interesting with Smokes ready to go.

    I for one hope that Smokes is kept on a VERY short leash and that he only plays on the fourth line.

  20. Chuck says:

    There’s bashing just for the sake of bashing, and then there’s being realistic and making observations based on a players’ on-ice performance.

    Hey, I’m as happy as the next guy when Huet plays well, but making note of his less than stellar one-on-one play, for example, shouldn’t be a reason for receiving insulting posts from the “Huet Is God” camp, either.
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    ______________________________________________
    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  21. Ian G Cobb says:

    Do you relize how many wingers he has played with this year, tough to feel like a well oiled machine don’t you think !!

  22. sidhu says:

    Random question – does anyone know where I can get some quality prints of the old Montreal Forum or of other historical Habs images? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I have a new spot that I want to decorate with a nice print of our club.

    Go Habs Go!

  23. DYCSoccer17 says:

    Did anyone else realize that the Habs are the 3rd highest-scoring team in the NHL? Only Ottawa and Detroit average more goals a game than Montreal does.

    I wonder what Guy LaFleur thinks of that?

  24. Chuck says:

    Why does it matter WHICH goalie gets us to the playoffs? If it’s Huet, cool. If it’s Price, cool. If for some reason Halak finds himself in that position, that’s fine, too. If it’s a combination of the above, even better. As long as we have a guy in the nets playing consistent hockey we shouldn’t give a damn what name is on the back his sweater.
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    ______________________________________________
    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  25. MikeL says:

    Saku Koivu has been my favorite player ever since he became captain of this team. I have loved his heart and passion and it is these qualities that have given him success as both a player, and a leader. This season has been a different one for Koivu.

    I truly believe that he is starting to feel as if his days are numbered. He doesn’t seem to enjoy playing as much as he did when he was the number one, go-to guy. His passion on most night doesn’t seem to be what it used to be.

    I also feel that age is really starting to slow him down. His puck handling skills in the neutral zone and entering the offensive zone are basically non-existent now. He is losing a huge step in the skating department as well. He turns the puck over more times entering the zone than any player I can recall. He is still very good behind the net, in close, and threading the needle with a tap in pass. I just feel he is not the same player he was a few years ago, and maybe it’s time to pass the torch to the young guys. You see the energy that Kovalev is bringing every shift, every game. That used to be Koivu, and he’s not bringing it anymore on a consistent basis.

    I’m sorry for the rant, especially after a win. But it is something that I wanted to throw out there and see what the response is. By no means am I saying I want him gone, I just have noticed a decline in efficiency and effort this year.

  26. krob1000 says:

    Nice read. You know I have to disagree with the Brisebois stuff as everyone is on here saying how much better Gorges is. He will be but he just isn’t right now. Gorges was standing around exactly like Brisebois on one goal on the first Hawks goal. The second goal he was used like a Black Hawk to screen Huet. I agree he is getting better but he is not ready for big minutes yet and that is why we are filling thosedepth postions by committee. Locke only took five draws so the 40% is taken froma pretty small sample…he wins one of those and he’s 60%…does that really mean anything after 5 draws.

    Koivu is my favourite player so I try not to say anything negative about him but I am glas someone else did with regards to those penalties. Kovalev has cut his down, Crosby too ……your turn Koivu. I think it has got to the point where he is known amongst officials because some of them are very borderline and a lot of stuff went uncalled and his hook was very insignificant but he does it so often that I think it is just an easy call to make.

  27. J.T. says:

    Well, it wasn’t the prettiest win, but when you consider the huge mental obstacles the team overcame to get the two points, it starts looking a little more like a bouquet of roses. A win at home (and who would have thought the Bell would be a weakness?!), in overtime, against a team from the West, in a “tribute to the rivals” game, on a night when two popular young members of the team got demoted to Hamilton…add it all up and the sum is a pretty satisfying psychological start to the second half.

    Among my personal highlights:

    -Josh Gorges is emerging as a very solid young defenceman. He made a couple of extremely composed and smart plays to get the puck out of trouble in his end, some nice outlet passes and isn’t afraid of anyone. He’s not perfect, being only 23…but I’m liking him more and more every time I see him, probably because he’s improving with every minute of icetime. He’s part of the team’s future. Remember the tentative kid who made that horrible giveaway off a weak D-to-D pass that cost a goal back in October? This is a different kid altogether. If Max Pacioretty pans out, the Rivet trade could end up being Gainey’s best.

    -Max Lapierre has learned the lesson Kyle Chipchura has been sent to Hamilton to learn: work your butt off on every shift and take full advantage of every chance you get. The pass on the winner was an absolute beauty.

    -Kovalev didn’t score last night, but not for lack of trying. He’s emerged not only as a guy who uses the talent he’s got every night…finally…but as a real leader too. I really think a big part of his trouble last year was injury and the frustration that goes with it.

    -Just about everyone worked hard and looked like they cared about winning for the entire game, minus a couple of defensive lapses in the second.

    -Mark Streit is going to be an interesting issue for Gainey this summer. He switched from the wing during regulation to defence in OT without missing a beat. His penalty shot wasn’t the best attempt, but he’s got hands and can put up the points too. He’s a bargain right now, but Gainey will have to ante up to keep him, or some other team will grab him. I vote he stays.

    -Corey Locke had an unfortunate giveaway on one of his few shifts that led directly to the first Chicago goal. But he also had a nice two-on-one break with Ryder that showed he might translate that offensive instinct he’s carried around in his hockey bag all his life to the NHL. I’d like to see him get a few more shifts and maybe a little PP time in the next game he plays.

    -Andrei Markov: All Star. He can rest assured he would have made the team even if he hadn’t won the vote-in popularity contest.

    And the lesser lights:

    -Koivu almost spoiled one of his best efforts of the season by taking, to quote some of our HIO faithful, his “usual candyass offensive zone penalty.” On a team that’s showing a marked improvement in discipline since last year, the good captain is threatening to become its most-penalized player. He’s only five minutes behind Kostopoulos who’s collected most of *his* minutes five at a time, and three behind bruiser Mike Komisarek who’s got a game misconduct on his record. And few of his penalties are either wise or necessary. Carbo will have to have a little chat with Captain K about quitting some bad habits.

    -Huet looked weak on the second and third goals and the first one was stoppable on a good night. He almost gave up the winner with a lapse in concentration in OT on which Hamrlik bailed him out and his wandering outside the net and his puckhandling were atrocious. I believe he’s the number one goalie, but for the second game in a row, goaltending played a big part in a game the Habs had been leading ending up in OT. That’s got to improve if this team is going anywhere.

    -Brisebois just isn’t as good as the guys he’s replacing. I know he scored a goal, but be honest…it was a fluke. I’m glad it went in, but it’s only lucky it did. And he was left standing there on the Hawks second goal, instead of picking up his check in the crease.

    -Christopher Higgins is working really hard, but he looks a little lost at times since the first flush of success with Lapierre and Ryder.

    -Some centres took Gainey’s warning to heart: Plekanec was 58% on faceoffs, and Lapierre 50%. But Koivu and Locke, as the other starting centres, were both at 40%. I’m thinking the Eye in the Sky isn’t going to be thrilled with those numbers.

    Overall…two points in the bank, no matter the style in which they were acquired, are going to count for a lot come April. On to Beantown and a date with their bitches!

  28. nightmare_49 says:

    Hopefully he’ll get a chance on an offensive line to show his stuff.

  29. ebk says:

    that would be kinda stupid now wouldn’t it. Since he retired and all.

    Quick, re-read my post, maybe you will figure it out.

  30. Exit716 says:

    Craig Ludwig? Isn’t he in Dallas? Quick, maybe Gainey can trade Kovalev or Koivu for him.

  31. Habssince1983 says:

    Whoa la, Huet let in only one bad goal, the one through his pads. Robert Lang’s was a good shot. Give that man a break. He’s a proven goalkeeper so please stop calling for trades and such. Go HAbs GO.

  32. Will Longlade says:

    Yes, the win does take some attention away from the mediocre performance. I give you that. However, I have a hunch that Halak will get a look to allow B.G. to determine who is really expendable. There are some strategic considerations that may come into play here that could force the Habs to trade Huet, even though we would all love to keep him in a perfect world.

  33. Chuck says:

    It’s not like we were three inches away from losing in overtime last night… were we?
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    ______________________________________________
    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  34. Yeats says:

    He said Huet was unimpressive last night and he is absolutely right.

  35. The Teacher says:

    yeah, his first instinct whenever the puck was tied up would be to race to be in back of both his wingers should a play go towards our end.

  36. Ian G Cobb says:

    In 5 min. of play you got all that?

  37. Ian G Cobb says:

    NOPE the TEAM is the 19th best defending in the league !

  38. Ian G Cobb says:

    He had a better chance to work up a sweat in the shower. Over the next few games he may get a couple of miles in?

  39. Chris says:

    A bit off-topic, but I would love to know why people constantly refer to Chipchura as a shut-down forward and give him some slack because he was constantly facing the opposition’s best players. I looked back through the faceoff records for the month of December and there is NOTHING to suggest that that is the case. Koivu and Plekanec take the majority of the faceoffs against the other team’s top lines, usually Koivu. Perhaps I’m dead wrong, but it seems to me that Carbonneau matches Markov and Komisarek against the other team’s top lines, and seems relatively content to let his forward lines roll out at their usual times. Because they play far more, Koivu and Plekanec are going to face the top lines more often. For key faceoffs, it is often Koivu that gets the call, especially on those nights where he is hot.

    Chipchura is a great prospect, and will almost certainly be a vital component of future Habs success for years to come. He has all the potential to be a great shutdown center for the Habs in the future. But I think its a bit of an overstatement to explain away his deficiencies as being due to matching up against the other team’s top lines. He is young, he has struggled at times (particularly with NHL speed…the biggest knock against Chipchura has always been his footspeed), and a trip to Hamilton will not harm his development. Good teams have the luxury of easing young players into the lineup…we should be happy that we are getting to that point, instead of putting our young players out in a situation where they become demoralized.

    To the person that was worried for Chipchura because he had already spent so much time in Hamilton, I have to point out that last season was his first full season in the AHL. He came up for the playoff run the season before, and was officially an AHL rookie last season. He’ll be fine.

  40. ebk says:

    you are the master of the obvious

  41. Will Longlade says:

    I speculate that the purpose is to allow B.G. to get his ducks lined up prior to the trade deadline on Feb. 26th. He wants to take a look at Locke & Halak before doing any wheeling & dealing. I think we will see Halak in goal on Thursday night. Huet was unimpressive last night and it would be a strategic error for B.G. not to have another look at Halak before making a decision on how to deal with the Hab’s bounty in goal.

  42. nightmare_49 says:

    Ian – What was your impression of Corey Locke’s debut.

  43. nightmare_49 says:

    No doubt it’s an expensive venture if you want Blake as a rental player but there are teams like Phillie,Boston,Carolina who have said they would like a veteran “D” with a bit of offense not to mention the teams around New York. The Habs i think are looking for a stay at home veteran “D” with size.

  44. saskhab says:

    I don’t fear that was why he was used… I hope that’s why he was used. We don’t need a 5’8″, average skating center who’s bad in his own end. This team is top 5 in goals for but woeful in the faceoff circle and on the PK (both of which are related). Locke doesn’t help that at all.

    Not that Smolinski will, though he generally doesn’t hurt us in the faceoff department.

  45. nightmare_49 says:

    Perrault is a UFA. Chicago’s centers 1) Lang 2) Toews 3) Williams (UFA-a must sign) 4) Sharpe (RFA) 5) Adams (UFA) 6) Burish (RFA) 7) McDowall and also Rutto (RFA). Think.

  46. krob1000 says:

    I sure as hell wouldn’t ask Glen Healy. Did you see that article?? At any point trade value depends on those circumstances but Blake is old and ihe would definitely be a rent a player (for us anyway). I can’t see too many teams wanting him to sign at the type of salary he will want at this point in his career.

  47. nightmare_49 says:

    At the trade deadline your value depends on how many teams are bidding for the player also are those teams in our conference and would that player put a competitor over the hump etc. Many things are involved in this process and if you don’t believe me ask JFJr.

  48. krob1000 says:

    I was one of those people and I did not expect the team to call up Kostitsyn the younger and for him to be ready like he has been. I also greatly underestimated Lapierre. We would not suffer but I still think he needs a better look than a five minute cameo on a fourth line as he did manage a couple chances even in that role. He looks like one of those guys who just knows what to do but he cannot thrive on his own at his size and he will need players with more offense than he will likely see in his roel. I am still happy for him though……he is in the books as a montreal Canadien forever now and if he never dresses again he’ll always have that. I felt so bad for him not getting his equipment I am glad that situation was at least righted whatever the reason .

  49. krob1000 says:

    I said playing without EITHER Toews(6 games missed adn many more to come) or Havlat (missed 28 games so far)…so how many were they in the lineuop together???The injury to Jason Williams hurt them a lot too no doubt about it. IF they remain in or close to the pack and are going to be a playoff team then why would you trade your best faceoff guy?? If they fall too far out )due in part to Toews most recent injury) and this streak continues then I agree he will be available and not for much but otherwise it would be stupid and Denis Svard is not a stupid coach and he understands the value of draws in the spring I am sure.

  50. Blitzen says:

    Great minds think alike…see my post further down. I absolutely agree with your first sentence. Replacing Chips “because he needs to work on a few things” by Smokes “who’s entire game totally sucks” really sounds to me like Gainey trying to not make himself look bad.

    I like Gainey but at some point you need to admit to yourself one of your moves sucked and that one sure does. Even with his game needing some work, Chips is head and shoulders better than Smokes.

  51. nightmare_49 says:

    First of all , Toews has played 35 games this year and the Hawks have had many injuries this year and a lot to centers. When the Hawks have been close to healthy Perreault has been a healthy scratch on occasion or his ice time down to 5 minutes a game at times. I’m sure he will be available. Chicago was in the thick of things until this six game losing streak cuz of multiple injuries. I follow them a bit cuz i know someone in the organization.

  52. ebk says:

    I was not refering to JT’s post.

    Hamrlik was a fine signing, I’m not thrilled with the rest. She makes a reasonable case for her position and I like that a lot. To many people feel the need to demean and attack anyone on here who has a different opinion than they do. I really respect people like JT, who do not,my son.

  53. ebk says:

    maybe, guess we will see. Hope you are right.

  54. krob1000 says:

    I don’t think he would cost much….he’s 38 years old and playing on a rebuilding team. I would bet he could be had for one of our depth guys and a 2nd or 3rd round pick or two 3rd or 4th picks). I can’t see hime being that expensive anymore.

  55. Dan23 says:

    Sometimes a good GM can be identified by the trades they don’t make.

    I’ll admit that as far as Gainey’s performance as GM, his biggest weakness is in the trade department and that’s not an inconsiderable weakness. The scouting and player development side has been terrific, and it starts with having faith in Trevor Timmins and the scouts. I think the coaching side is a little weak, but they seem to be finding their rhythm this season.

    Finally, I think Gainey has rebuilt the considerable respect the Canadiens have historically enjoyed within the league, and which I think we lost somewhat under Rejean Houle and more particularly Mario Tremblay. While I’ve got nothing against Houle personally, I just felt like he got pushed around by the media and that’s something that won’t fly with Gainey.

    Even if the team is not #1 in the league, I am proud to be a Habs fan and proud to have Bob Gainey as our GM. Then again, my profile pic would seem to indicate that I have a bit of a bias…

  56. ebk says:

    Rob Blake would be a nice addition depending on who you had to give up to get him. He ain’t gonna be cheap.

    Even a physical Dman like Dmitri Markov or a Craig Ludwig type would be a big addition. Someone who knows how to get the puck out of his own end and punish players in front of the net. Pair him with Hamrlik and you have a nice solid top four.

    Streit can stay on the 4th line, be the PP QB and fill in where needed.
    Then O’Bryne, Gorges and O’ Bryne can compete for the 5th and 6th spot. Brisebois can be dressed if something happens to Streit. He can replace him on the PP, he does a good job in that role.

  57. The Teacher says:

    From what I saw of Locke last night, he seemed to be a little too worried that a goal would be scored on his line to really help out much offensively. Five minutes isn’t a heck of a whole lot though. I fear he has been used to serve a purpose.

  58. Dan23 says:

    I agree with pretty much everything you said, J.T. I was at last night’s game and I have to say that I liked Gorges’ play. I didn’t think Brisebois played a terrible game, but as soon as O’Byrne is ready, I hope that the young guns will get the ice time they need to develop.

    The Canadiens are doing okay against teams that are below them in the standings, but they are still not ready to play against the NHL elite. They should have won convincingly against Tampa Bay, Washington and Chicago, all teams that are near the bottom of the standings. Given the injuries to Washington (Semin) and Chicago (Toews and others), neither of those games should have gone to OT. Even the Tampa Bay game didn’t break open until the third period.

    So I would say good progress, but still lots of work to be done. They can qualify for the playoffs, but at this point won’t go very far.

    The future, however, is very bright indeed.

  59. The Teacher says:

    Beautiful, I echo these comments. You truly see the big picture :)

  60. Jay in PA says:

    I believe you’re right. If memory serves, they had to put him on waivers to send him back to Hamilton at the beginning of the season, but no one bit. Again, if memory serves, there were some worried voices on this site expressing concern that he would be a potentially considerable loss if another team picked him up.

    While I love the rest of the young talent on the team and don’t want to see any of them lose playing time, I would like Locke to get a chance to show his stuff. As has been noted in other threads, he’s one of those players who could turn out to be an outsize producer relative to his size, a la Martin St. Louis.

  61. howtathor says:

    Hmmmm, do we have the beginning of a new line here? Gui, Max and either Higgy or Ryder? Moving one of them back up to the Koivu line? I think it’s great when “best friends” in Gui’s immortal words can play together. Too bad there are a couple of “best friends” playing together in Hamilton (couldn’t resist that!).
    I hope the demotion of Chips and Price is only for a week as has been stated but I can’t see Chips becoming Yanik Perreault in the space of a week. I think think it was more of a wake up call for both. Chips had the worst faceoff % and for a checking line going up against the opponents top lines that is a no no. I know that Chips has it in him. I’ve have never seen a more heady player since, dare I say, Gainey or Carbo or Jarvis or Mullier. I think they know the same and are trying to instill that responsibility in their protege.
    As for Price, I hope he stands tall the way he did in the start of the season. He’s been looking very small in net as of late and that is not the Carey Price we know and love. Watch Hamilton go on a roll now! I hope the demotion is brief and productive and indeed if this is a showcase for Halak, there sure are teams out there hurting for a goalie, most notably LA and TB. I wish Bob would show us a little more of his cards but then that wouldn’t be poker would it?
    Smolinski will get every chance to play himself out of the lineup. Who knows, maybe he’s had some sort of a hockey epiphany but I would have to agree that his first half was very dissapointing. He’s there to win faceoffs and play good defense. Period. I never did agree with the signing because now we have three centres and only two spots and guess who loses in the numbers game.
    What is O’byrne’s eta for return? Watching Brisbois last night against people like Byfuglian was brutal and this is another signing I didn’t agree with. I’d much rather have Streit back on D with an energy forward like Dandy or Begin playing alongside Smokes and Kosto.
    As much as I love Huet, he did let in a couple of softies last night. Is Huet heading into his mid season swan dive? It was around this time last year when his game went south culminating in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in NJ. I have to admit that the only solid time I can remember was when Huet took over from Theo 2 years ago and was lights out right through to the playoffs. Maybe he should be like Niedermeyer or Selanne and start only in January.
    Lasltly, what is it with aging or questionable local goalies coming in and stoning the Canadiens? From Thibeault to Denis to Lalime?? These guys couldn’t buy a win! I guess there is something to be said for local pride. I won’t even mention Brodeur who is unbeatable at the Bell.

  62. The Teacher says:

    Especially since our fourth line will be shutting the others 1st line down at home.

  63. The Teacher says:

    So, in effect, is Huet the 19th best starting goalie in the league?

    Haha!

  64. krob1000 says:

    Perreault…..I can’t see Chicago letting him go anytime soon. They are pretty low in the standings but have been without either Toews or Havlat fro most of the season. When they are healthy they will battle for a playoff spot. If he were available I would say go for it. I am not sure who he would replace ….we couldn’t play him on the fourth line so he would be with Ryder and Higgins and Lapierre bumped down. Smolinski would have to be “injured” again.

    I am still hoping Smolinski has something elft in the tank for the stretch and his return may entice even more competition in the battle for playing time. On the other post you mentioned a need for a big defenseman capable ofpunishing guys in front……I mentioned Rob Blake earlier and nobody said yay or nay…what r your two cents on Blake as a rental come deadline time. O’Byrne might make this point insignificant if he builds on his triple fight game and plays a more physical style when he returns.

  65. The Teacher says:

    Every loss last year was the difference between making the playoffs and not.

  66. nightmare_49 says:

    I agree , her assessments are top drawer almost all of the time , me son.

  67. The Teacher says:

    I find it funny how Gainey twisted it so that Smolinski is thought of as replacing Locke and not Chipchura.

    Ahhh, intelligence.

  68. The Teacher says:

    Oh, we don’t think we’re wrong. Time will prove us right that we won’t need him after this year or next.

    no knock against Huet though.

  69. showey47 says:

    Actually do you remember the first game of the season last year against the sabres? We were leading 4-2 with about 6 mins left and we had a powerplay, instead of putting out our top 2 lines carbo opted to play the bonk line on the powerplay in order to protect the lead. Sabres scored shorthanded then scored again late to tie it. Only to lose in a shootout, we lost that point in the first game of the season when we should of had an easy 2.

  70. Mike Boone says:

    Considering how much I like him as a player, I have to stop calling number 26 “Jeff” Gorges. I think the problem arises from the star-crossed NFL career of Jeff George, the QB with the million-dollar arm and 10-cent personality.

  71. showey47 says:

    good call doc, your reasoning about chipper makes sense. Its too bad though, slowinski’s only real contribution so far this season was getting injured so lapierre could come back up. Its mean to say but its not far from the truth. I can’t see huet being around next season either, not with this kind of depth between the pipes. Between halak, price and danis one of these guys could surely step up and give us at least the same type of quality goaltending that huet has given us, probably better quality.

  72. ebk says:

    Sort of a follow up on the good Ian Cobb’s post

    earlier in the year Habs were struggling with 5 on 5 scoring. Ranking next to last with 1.31 goals a game. They have really turned this around in the last little while, now just past the half way point, they are averaging 1.86 goals a game. Quite an improvement in the last 15 or so games. They have struggled a little defensively 5 on 5 for this stretch but on the whole, I think their improvement in this area has been quite noticeable.

    The reasons for this improvement are
    1)Kostitsyn I has blossomed in the last 20 games and is a force every time he steps on the ice. What a treat to watch game in game out. Looking forward to the next 10 years or so.

    2)Latendresse, while his lack of sytyle points seems to drive his critics nuts, the Big Gui has developed nicely this year into a productive NHL player. It’s about production, nothing more and nothing less. He produces.

    3)Kovalev….don’t need to say anymore do I?

    4)While they are the are the elder statesmen of the Kiddie Corps, sometimes it seems to be forgotten that this is only Plekanec’s and Higgin’s 3rd year. Both are making names for themselves in the NHL and night in, night out fighting for the title of the #1 young gun on the team. Both were better the last 20 games than they were the first 20. And the first 20 was nothing to sneeze at.

    5)The call up of Kostitsyn II and Lapierre changed the dynamic upfront and gave the team three solid offensive NHL lines. It worries me a lot that Carbo seems to be messing with this a little. Let us hope it does not backfire.

    On a side note, after watching Perrault dominate the Habs on face-offs again, I’d like to see Gainey go and pick him up. His salary is reasonable and besides playing on the 4th line and helping out on the face-off, Yanic has always been a under-rated player in my books and is capable of being a good depth player who occasionally fills out on the top two lines. If this team is going to be a force in the play-offs, they need Perreault to shoring up the face-off problem. There are some veterans on the team in a similar salary range who might be used to get him

    Thanks for Reading

  73. Ian G Cobb says:

    You are right about Scotty, that would not sit to long with him, just look at Detroit and don’t kid your self Scotty still over sees that end of things there. Toe Blake would turn over in his grave if he found out where we sat in the league. Goals against was always # 1 or you were down the road.

  74. ebk says:

    you are right, Ian. Koivu will not be leaving this year but I don’t mind all the speculation. This site would get really boring without it.

  75. fun police says:

    i think a big reason why chips was sent down was that players and fans would take locke sitting in place of slowlinski much better than if chips sat.
    i would like to see halak start against boston. contrary to the podcast, i can’t see the habs keeping huet and they have to see what they have in halak. if fernandez in bostong gets as much as he does, huet will want more than the habs can give, considering komi is a ufa next year and will get markov type money.

  76. JF says:

    Nice post. I really like your take on why Brisebois is here and agree with you on the importance of respect and class throughout the Canadiens’ organization during the process of restoring the team. The treatment of Brisebois is a good example of the Habs’ class in dealing with players both present and past.

    Brisebois himself is a classy guy and, as you point out, has the respect of all the players. It took a lot of courage and a lot of love for this team and this city to come back after the way he was booed.

    He is not a bad player, has a nice outlet pass and a good shot, is useful on the powerplay, but makes bad mistakes. I have no problem with him being in the lineup, think he can be useful at times, but he should not play so many minutes.

  77. krob1000 says:

    Class and Respect and the fact that he is a winner. With a young team the Ring on Brisebois’ finger and a long career in combination with the fact that he has seen the best and worst of the Montreal fan factor make him invaluable to the young guys. I’d like to hear the young players take on Brisebois….soemthing tells me it would be very respectful and genuine. Kovalev is our other winner and during his interview last night he touched on how Messier helped him and how much that meant to him so he is doing it for the Kostitsyn’s. If Brisebois were actually hurting us it would not be worth it…he is not.

    This entire organizationis trying to undergo a restoration process and reclaim the pride and tradition that is Montreal. To have Brisebois back for the above reasons along with the fact that he is still a capable depth guy make it a no brainer at the cost for him. It also is a classy move ont he part of Gainey and company which is supposed to be the staple of the Canadiens. Unfortunately many fans, media, etc. let all of our winning get to their heads and could not manage the responsibility that comes with success…..and failure. Brisebois did the nthinkable and returned to Montreal and that move as insignificant as it seemed at the time made a bold statement I thought. It said that Gainey runs this show and no matter what is said or written he was hell bent on Montreal becoming what it once was again……a great place to play. Treating your past champions with respect is a part of that process……not at the expense of hurting the team….which he does not.

    Has anyone heard a bad word about Brisebois ever from a player???Ever??? Please share if you have. That is my take and probably the take of several others probably. But I am sure most of the others I refer to won’t even waste their time as they just know this to be the case. I like wasting my time so you poor people all have to read this.

  78. ebk says:

    you do like to hear yourself talk, don’t you

    That is not a bad thing, why say something in a few words, when you can write a novel and entertain yourself and us all day long

    Hope you don’t take the above the wrong way, just poking a little fun at you, don’t mean anything serious by it.

  79. krob1000 says:

    No harm no foul…..and that is about the jist of it. I sell insurance and not too many people are buying cars and homes in the dead of winter so unless the phone rings I’d be reading the same websites over and over (many are blocked out by corp. software so there aren’t too many I get). On this site I can help generate new stuff about my favourite topic all day. Days are nowhere near as long as they have been in winters past. I don’t even edit my posts as is obvious by the mistakes but I find the longer posts (as yours often are too) to be better reads and time killers so I try to do the same. Besides if I am writing I am doing something…..and it is something I enjoy when it is about the Habs. What better way to pass the time can there be if you are in front of a computer??

  80. ebk says:

    you are right, I too tend to get a little long winded. Just a little friendly hacking at a fellow Hab fan.

  81. krob1000 says:

    Keep it coming though…..or I start reading the Toronto Star and that is the point in the day where I know I am in trouble and need to talk about something and quick.

  82. ebk says:

    two players
    one forward with some size who can put the puck in the net
    and
    a big banger on defense that can make the opposition pay a price for standing in front of the Net.

  83. krob1000 says:

    The Hawks are going to be awesome next year and then every year thereafter for a long time. We beat them ultimately with depth and the only reason the game was close was becuase of a very brief lapse and a goal Huet would love to have back (although he was partially scvreened by hiw own defenseman and Mcguire went overboard with his AHL goal comment).

    WE to are going to be awesome and I think the fact that we have so many guys right now trying to get in the lineup bodes well for us down the stretch. I think Carbo did a great job last night mixing up the forechecking as it appeared we moved in and out of a trap style without warning. Pierre Mcguire got confused by this so to me that means it worked….if it confused an ex coach it must have confused a young team like the Hawks. All lines played solidly and although no line really lit it up you could see the Hawks wearing down as the game progressed because we were able to roll effective lines while they had to shorten their bench. Mcguire missed a lot last night and I think it was the worst game I have ever seen him do. He also criticized Lapierre for losing a faceoff that he had been tossed from and Ryder had to take. Before the game he said part of the reason Andrei Kostitsyn is having such a good run as of late was due to Koivu??? I forgive you Pierre as you are normally the best in the biz.

    Faceoffs…we only won 47% but it seemed to me anyways that we won ones that mattered while we were shorthanded and on the powerplay. Special teams faceoffs are more important and those who care about statistics should lobby for this to be kept stat. I thought we took it to the Hawks physically (except that Byfuglien guy…he is a beast and gonna be a force).

    I have one issue that has been bugging me all year and I saw it cost us at least three odd man rushes last night. Too often we have guys playing hot potato with the puck at our blue line and at the oppositions blue line. We are “getting the puck out” or “getting the puck deep” but in today puck possession game that is not always enough. I don’t see Ottawa and Detroit doing that unless it is the last option before trying to beat a man one on one. Higgins, Kostopolous and Komisarek (the ones that stood out to me) all had plays where they were not hurried at all and had guys wide open if they just chipped the puck instead of wiring it deep into or out of the zone. You cannot really say they made bad plays as they made safe plays but over the course of a game and the season we could be passing up hundreds of scoring chances. Guys need to be vocal on the ice and for all I know they are and they are under direct orders to play that way but from afar (with noone trying to hit me) I see several wasted possessions still. Dumping and chasing is effective if you have a forechecker who is moving and has a chance to retrieve otherwise it is a voluntary turnover and I don’t get that.

    I am so excited for this team and I feel like a kid again whenever I think about how they are progressing. This is awesome and I still stand by my earlier assertions that we are one elite player from being an elite team. Imagine our team right now with an extra 15 to 20 goals right now and we are definitely distanced from the pack. Gainey tried his best to get us one but he still has another opportunity to at least try with the deadline approaching and we have the depth to afford a trade if one that is profitable comes available.

    Go Habs go!!!Bring on the Bruins!!

  84. Revolution No. 9 says:

    - Corey Locke = new Garth “spare parts” Murray

    – I’m still unimpressed by Gorges. Serviceable is the best I can say about him.

    – I was at the game and, boy, the Plekostalev line got the crowd on the edge of their seats on just about every shift.

  85. krob1000 says:

    Hardly…it was his first game and he played with Kostopolous and a defenseman. He didn;t look great but who would have expected him to in his first game. He only looked overmatched (as did the whole line) on one shift. He didn’t look uncomfortable with the puck and had no fear driving to the net when Ryder just missed him with a pass at the far post. He twice was wide open in the slot with his stick on the ice and got no puck that I saw. Garth Murray????

  86. 24 Cups says:

    If Smolinski is 100% then he should play instead of Locke. Locke isn’t the right fit for a checking line and you really don’t want to move Lapierre at this point in time. The much maligned Smolinski can win some faceoffs, kill some penalities, and play a defensive game with Tommmy K, Dandy, or anybody else that Carbo puts out there.

    The Original 24 Cups

  87. krob1000 says:

    That is probably what will happen. Lapierre with Higgins and Ryder is turning into an ideal matchup line. They are a perfect two way line and probably one of the the best so called third lines in the league. Ryder has drastically improved defensively and last night again I thought made solid backcehcks and some decent hits along with Laps and Higgins. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought to play those three together but it works. They didn’t do much offensively but they outplayed Langs line and that was their job.

  88. N.B.habs fan says:

    Locke did allright on the faceoff,he just needs more ice time.

  89. Cable Guy says:

    Tom K was unbelieveable last night, the guy goes balls out every time he hits the ice.

  90. 24 Cups says:

    I like him. Within the confines of his role, I think you have to say that he is doing a good job. Every team that wins the Cup has a some role players. Tommy K isn’t going to score a lot of goals and he is going to have the off night and at times be overmatched by his opponent. However, he plays both wings and I believe he might have even played centre one game when asked to. He’s willing to stand up and fight (but doesn’t win many) and support his fellow players. He’s hard working, honest, and probably no problem in the dressing room. I would imagine he knows his limitations and realizes he has to compete every game to get icetime. What more can you ask?

    The Original 24 Cups

  91. Proudones says:

    I thought your “Tom the Bomb” had a very good game last night. He crashed the net a few times and won most battles against the boards.

  92. krob1000 says:

    I thought he played one of his better games offensively getting chances and going tot he net.

  93. Revolution No. 9 says:

    Heh. I didn’t mean it in the sense of skill level. I meant more that he’d be the guy to sit and watch unless injuries come up.

  94. ebk says:

    A win is a win is a win. That is all that matters. It wasn’t pretty but they got the two points. Huet was not at his best early but like a true #1 he made the big saves when he had to. He needs to be better though and for most of the year he has been. On a side note it is annoying how the Huet fans need to tear down Price and the Price fans need to tear down Huet. The team has two very good goalies and despite Price getting sent down, the Habs are going to need them both. Free speech is a b-word sometimes.

    Huet was not the only member of the team that was below par last night. The defense has had back to back questionable games. Gorges screened Huet badly on the second goal and Brisebois had his thumb up his butt on the third. The team needs to improve defensively if they are to take the next step and threaten the elite teams. Another top four Dman would not hurt.

    Big Gui continues to produce and to prove his critics wrong. He is big, strong on the puck and getting better every night. He made a very good play in setting up Saku and his game winner was a beauty, thanks to Madd Max. Just think what a nightmare he will be for his opponents and his critics for the rest of his NHL career. Not bad for an AHL player.

    I just can’t rave enough about the Plekanec line, if they keep playing like this. the team will have a chance to win every game. I hope people are appreciating what we have in Kovalev. He is simply the most exciting player this team has had in years. KostitsynI and Plekanec are nothing to sneeze at either, the three of the produce more electricity on any given night then General Electric.

    I also need to do my own mea culpa at least for last night. Kostopoulos had by far his best night as a Hab, he was involved all night long and actually showed that he may have a little offense to his game. He will be fighting from here on in for playing time and if he plays like last night, he has nothing to worry about.

    I won’t do a mea culpa on Brisebois though. He scored a goal on the PP, which is where he is the best. I would have no problem if that was the role Carbo wanted him for. I think Streit is more suited for a PP specialist, 6th defenseman type but a case can be made for Brisebois. However, a case can’t be made for him playing in the top two defensive pairings. He is what he his, mistake prone and soft in his own end. He was a major reason why the 3rd goal was scored and if not for Huet, he would have been responsible for one or two more. I really don’t understand why he has as big a role as he does. Guess that is why I’m here posting with you fine people and Gainey and Carbo are getting the big bucks.

    Thanks for reading

  95. Proudones says:

    LMAO at your last sentence.
    Your post is well thought-out.

  96. krob1000 says:

    You are right that he isn’t a top pairing guy but he only played 13:28 minutes. He is only here this year and right now we have noone who is noticeably better and that is my point. I thought he looked good on the pp and yes he made mistakes as did most of our defensmen. If Brisebois played a little more physical people would probably get off his back because it seems to give Bouillon and Komisarek amnesty for their turnovers and Gorges to some extent too. You are right he is a fifth or sixth guy and he knows that. He is doing what any fifth or sixth guy in the league does and that is why they are fofth or sixth guys. Not eam has guys that far into their defense corps who don’t make mistakes or they would be elsewhere getting more money and ice time.

    It was nice to see Gui pot the big goal and Kosto did play his best offensive game since the first week of the season.
    AS for a rent a player d-man Rob Blake is supposedly available and at rent a player costs he would be itneresting. I know he is a shadow of his old self but I would suspect that that still amkes him a solid three or four guy….I haven’t seen him much this year so I really have nothing to base that on. I saw an interview with Brian Burke last night and he said he really doesn’t know if Selanne will return and if he does he hasn’t indicated it would be with the Ducks even though that is where he is skating. I don’t really know the salary cap as well as I should but he mentioned something about players over 35 being eligible for bonuses being built into their contract that don’t go against the cap (he referred to Shanahan).

  97. JF says:

    I hope these three home games since the New Year mean the Habs are starting to turn it around at home. It seems to me they’re playing more like they do on the road – a fast-skating offensive game rather than the sitting-back defensive sort of thing they often do at home, with so little success.

    RDS was not very enthusiastic about last night’s game, calling it “peu convaincant” but I can’t really agree. They were very critical of Huet, saying that on the second and third Chicago goals, he simply didn’t get the job done. While it certainly was not a great game for him, it’s fair to remember that he had some kind of virus the end of last week and is probably still not 100%. Also he kept the door shut in the third and the overtime (with a little help from Hamrlik). He must have heaved a sigh of relief that it didn’t go to a shootout!

    It was not an easy victory and the Habs again let up in the second period, but I think the 2 points were well-deserved. Lalime was excellent; otherwise we would have won in regulation time. By the third period we were wearing the Hawks down and getting more chances. I also thought we did a better job of zone clearance than we sometimes do.

    Lapierre’s pass on the winning goal was a beauty.

    Mark Streit had a great game, and has quietly racked up 24 or 25 points so far.

  98. VancouverHab says:

    Mr Boone, sir:
    Can you help us post-ers who are asking the age-old question, “Why is Brisbois on the team?”

    This is a serious question: I’m your average devoted-Hab-fan-with-an-opinion, & I can’t lace Bob’s GM shoes, but Brisbois just stands out as a one-good two-bad player, night in, night out.

    What is going on? Est-que c’est le defenseur est un Francaphone? Le entraineur, il semble un fait indifferent de le pays de origin de les jouer dans il equipe …

    Pardonez mon mauvais Francais, je desire demonstre seulement c’est je n’avez pas le problem avec les Quebecois…

  99. ebk says:

    nice post.
    I don’t really like him, never really been a big fan of players who have little or no offensive ability. But I digress. He played well last night and if he plays like that he will not have to worry about ice-time. I appreciate your assessment of him, very similar to my thinking. A few of the Kostopoulos supports out there seem to think he is more than he is. He is a decent fourth line player and showed it last night. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

  100. 24 Cups says:

    One more thing ebk – Tommy K. made a great tackle on a Chicago defenseman which led to the Streit breakaway which led to the penalty shot. Savard went nuts on the bench!!

    The Original 24 Cups

  101. ebk says:

    lol
    it was a beauty of a tackle at that. Hard to believe it was not called but hey I’m not going to complain.

  102. ebk says:

    You hit the nail on the head. He would be better if he played with a more physical edge. Gorges and Frankie the Bull, all have that edge to their game and that is why they are better than Brisebois. All three have their moments, both good and bad. The difference being that the other two have a component to their game that Brisebois does not. And that is a big difference and in my opinion makes them noticeable better.

    I think the team is better with Streit on the point and Brisebois in the press box but I don’t get paid to make that decision and the people who do disagree with me.


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