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.



  1. 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?

  2. 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.

    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  3. nightmare_49 says:

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

  4. 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.

  5. Exit716 says:

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Chuck says:

    It’s not like we were three inches away from losing in overtime last night… were we?

    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  9. Yeats says:

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

  10. 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.

  11. Ian G Cobb says:

    In 5 min. of play you got all that?

  12. Ian G Cobb says:

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

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. ebk says:

    you are the master of the obvious

  16. 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.

  17. nightmare_49 says:

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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 .

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. ebk says:

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

  29. 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.

  30. 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…

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. The Teacher says:

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

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. The Teacher says:

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

  38. The Teacher says:

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


  39. 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.

  40. The Teacher says:

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

  41. nightmare_49 says:

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

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 24 Cups says:

    Thanks Ian. I agree about the GA and so would Scotty Bowman. I am glad to see the spread between GF and GA has increased. I don’t know where we rate in the pack but I think we’re doing OK. Do yourself a favour and don’t bother looking up Detroit’s spread. It’s unreal!

    I find over the past few years that I only really concern myself with comparing stats with other eastern conference teams (I know that’s shortsighted on my part). Short of going all the way in the playoffs it really doesn’t seem to matter. I sometimes feel like we’re the American and National leagues in baseball. I keep abreast of everything that goes on in the west but I rarely get to see my boys play them. I guess that’s a reflection of expansion and the Bettman era.

    The Original 24 Cups

  51. Exit716 says:

    Remember last year when Montreal lost that dreadful 2-1 game in Chicago early on?
    That was the difference in making the playoffs.

  52. MikeL says:

    I watch the games neither specifically for a great suttle play or for a car crash. I watch the entire game and take it as it is. I don’t focus on one goal being scored and then automatically determine that someone is playing great or had a great game. There are a lot of aspects to the game of hockey, and scoring a nice goal is only one of them.

  53. Ian G Cobb says:

    He is going nowhere, are you kidding me? So short sighted. He will hold Stanley over his head for us before he packs it in, and it won’t be to long now!!!

  54. 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

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. ebk says:

    you are correct, sir. Excellent post.

  60. 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.

  61. 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

  62. 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.

  63. 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 😛

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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 !!!

  69. 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.

  70. krob1000 says:

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

  71. 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.

  72. 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 !!

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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!

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