About last night …

habs-vs-senators-05

The ideal scenario would have been a win last night and an utterly meaningless game at the ACC on Saturday.

But that didn’t happen.

So your Montreal Canadiens have to have a decent game in Toronto, where the Leafs will play them tough, or ride a two-game losing streak into the postseason.

At least Hockey Night in Canada is guaranteed an entertaining marquee match-up. I assume the Canadiens will bring something approximating their A-game.

Which wasn’t the case in Kanata.

As Michel Therrien pointed out in his famous rant, hockey is a game of passion, emotion and intensity.

All were lacking, for the most part, against the Senators.

I’m disinclined to beat up too much on our boys. They began the game well – 12 shots in the first period – but Craig Anderson may be the long-awaited answer to Ottawa’s goaltending problems. Notwithstanding a lineup loaded with AHL call-ups, the Senators played a pretty good game.

Jason Spezza was oustanding: a goal, an assist, 12-6 on draws and plus-2.

The Senators dominated the faceoff circle to the tune of a 31-15 advantage. That left the Canadiens chasing the puck all night – a trend that was particularly evident during that painful-to-watch five-minute power play.

Best of the Canadiens was Andrei Kostitsyn. Arpon Basu has a detailed analysis of the Belarusan enigma, who will play against old antagonist Mikhail Grabovski on Saturday.

AK46 is combining with Tomas Plekanec (who did not have a great night in Ottawa) and a revived Michael Cammalleri to give the Canadiens the kind of top-line play we saw early in the season.

Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta played well last night, but the absence of Max Pacioretty on their left wing is a wound that Mathieu Darche, as hard as he works, cannot heal.

It will be interesting to see how the third and fourth lines play against Toronto. David Desharnais made some nifty moves and passes last night, but linemates Benoit Pouliot and Yannick Weber couldn’t finish anything. The Lars Eller-Ryan-White-Tom Pyatt unit didn’t bring much in the way of the physicality and energy energy you need from a fourth line.

Hal Gill and P.K. Subban were weak on Bobby Butler’s goal. Roman Hamrlik and James Wisniewski were on for the winner. In his return to the lineup, Jaro Spacek played 16 minutes with Paul Mara and blocked three shots.

In what may have been his last appearance of the season, Alex Auld made some good stops and couldn’t be faulted for the Ottawa goals.

On to TO for a must-not-suck game.

•  •  •

JF Comments:

I actually didn’t think the effort was all that bad. I had half expected the team not to show up at all, and I certainly didn’t expect anything like the intensity we saw against Chicago. The first two periods were decent, the third not so much, and faceoffs and the powerplay definitely need work. But there’s not much that can be concluded from a game like this, and I’m not at all worried the Habs will play like this next week. I know they can bring the necessary intensity and focus when it really counts.

I was glad to see Gionta score; it’s been a while. And it’s reassuring that Mike Cammalleri seems to have found the pinpoint accuracy of his shot, which has been missing most of the season.

As for Price, the RDS guys suggested giving him a period or half the game, then putting Auld in. That way Price would stay sharp, but still get some rest with minimal risk of injury. I would either do that, or just play Auld. I’m not sure that playing twenty or thirty minutes between now and the playoffs would have any effect.

And I would definitely give Hamrlik the game off and use Gill minimally.

30 Comments

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  2. 4m3y2j says:

    What is the update on Pacioretti,are they planning for him to return in the playioffs?

  3. HardHabits says:

    Utterly disgraceful. Where was the effort? The gang mailed it in last night for sure.

    The Montreal Canadiens? No, no, no. I mean the Commentariat!!!

    Where is all the patented whining, moaning and groaning we’re so accustomed to. You trolls should be ashamed of yourselves.

  4. rocketsglare says:

    Habs must improve the PP. Last night’s 5 minute PP looked dreadful.
    Could be the difference between advancing or an early exit in the
    playoffs. Cammalleri seems to be peeking at the right time and it was
    good to see Spacek playing. His return will help boost the depleted D.
    The Habs appeared to be going through the motions last night but will
    have to give a better effort against the Leafs. If they fail to show up
    against TO, the game could turn ugly very quickly.

  5. Rob says:

    Let’s see…..we have/had no control over who we play regardless of the outcome on Saturday/last night The whole notion of going into the playoffs on a streak translating into playoff success has been debunked so many times, that i’m surprised it even gets brought up anymore. So tell me again, why it’s important that we win Saturday? or even play well? or why it matters that we lost and “mailed it in” last night? Sorry…i just really don’t get it, so you’ll have to explain it to me.

    The Montreal Canadiens: sporting the best AND worst fans since 1909!

    • Shmitzy says:

      No need for explanation, you’re already bang on. Who cares? Who they play between Pitt, Philly and Beantown is kind of irrelevant since every one of them will be heavily favoured.
      The Habs’ potential for success completely resides in their own camp. When they skate and play with emotion, they are tough for ANYONE to beat. When they don’t, they have the potential to lose by a touchdown to that same group.
      But anyway you look at it, nothing about next week’s games has anything to do with how they played yesterday or how they’ll play Saturday. All season — and last for that matter — they’ve proven that only they decide which team they are going to be, but they’ve also proven reliability for bringing their best when it matters most.
      So, sit the whole team for all I care. Just be well rested and hungry for game one, wherever that might be played. The rest is just smoke-filled coffee house nonsense that only exists because these Habs beat reporters have to find something to talk about.
      Boone’s own column before the Ottawa game completely contradicts this one. He acted like he couldn’t care less about the Ottawa game once they had clinched. Now he tells you how they played in that game somehow matters? Get real.

  6. ClaytonM says:

    The Commentariat might be upset we didn’t give 110% last night. They’d have the same old same old fire JM & PG comments if they played an intense game and had a key injury. I take comfort in seeing them tie it up like they did, and in the knowledge that last night was far from playoff/end of season hockey, like they’ve been playing for the last 2 months.

    There’s just no pleasing some people.

    Ken Dryden For NHL Commissioner

  7. LA Loyalist says:

    I am profoundly disturbed by last night’s “Canada Post” effort.

    We have mailed in so many games this year against “lower” teams.

    My understanding is that elite teams play to their own integrity and standard of excellence, regardless of who the opposition is.

    Also the wild inconsistency of this batch of Habs is either an utter condemnation of their coach, or their own lack of character, or both.

    A team with not much skill but character would put in a reasonably consistent effort most nights, just out of pride.

    As I’ve said, I’d rather have 20 Skrudland/Corson/McPhees than this clown call (with a few exceptions).

    Sorry, but with the playoffs starting next week I don’t know how this is acceptable.

    • joshua94k says:

      Hey they pulled their goalie and tied the game with 11 seconds and eraned a point. This is not like the Devils who didn’t even try to come back last Saturday. What about the Flyers who have mailed in their games for the past month?

      “It’s too much for one guy to shoulder. For us, we’re going to do it as a group. It’s about sharing that responsibility win or lose.” – Mike Cammalleri

      • LA Loyalist says:

        Devils are gassed, after their run, they ran out of steam a couple of weeks ago. Philly will probably pay dearly for mailing it in. It might not be us that do it, but Washington or Pittsburgh could.

        Sports are littered with the carcasses of teams who thought they could just push a button and turn it on when they felt like it. I guess there are a few teams that could do that, Jordan Chicago Bulls, the current LA Lakers, 70’s Habs, some Yankee teams, Gretzky Oilers…

        We aren’t that deep and we aren’t that good. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but the math is way against us.

    • Shmitzy says:

      It’s acceptable because it doesn’t even kind of matter. They backed into the playoffs on the last day last year and then went kinda far, you might remember. You’re profoundly disturbed?? Maybe you should save bold words like this for things that are actually profoundly disturbing. Like Catholic priests for example. As for the GAME of hockey, it truly doesn’t matter how they played last night, what mattered is staying loose and not getting hurt.
      To call this group one that ‘lacks character’ is yet another awful choice of words. You call them a clown call yet refer to them as ‘we’? Sorry but hating them, as you clearly do is, is not the password to the club. Using fancy adjectives to insult them in a situation that in no way warrants negativity does nothing to mask your lack of actual knowledge on the subject.
      Good luck to whoever you’re actually cheering for next week.

  8. joeybarrie says:

    If the Sabres lose to Philly tonight the game vs toronto becomes useless again. Philly has to win if they want the number one spot.
    But what is nice is that we are in before the season ends, and Toronto has almost no chance to really do anything negative to us.
    PLUS it will be nice for fans in toronto to see a Playoff team before they head to their well worn in and usual spots in the golf course clubhouse bar. Its nice for them cause I hear their fans do not like change….
    I REALLY REALLY HOPE the Sabres lose tonight, I would love to see our boys beat Toronto 5-0 JUST FOR FUN…

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

  9. DearyLeary says:

    That’s the way the Canadiens game felt last night…

    Test: Can we still play? Nope… not really.

    The whole game was flat. Then some career minor leaguer tried to kill Pyatt and my interest in the game disappeared. Here’s hoping les boys decide it’s a good idea to show up in Toronto.

  10. Habitoban says:

    I found the game disturbing. Not because it had all the intensity of al all star game, but because the team looked poorly prepared for the puck drop and poorly managed during the game. We saw Subban returning to his Fall style of play which earned him some time in the press box. The bottom six, who should have been charged up to break out with points before the playoffs (especially Benny and Eller) seemed content to experiment with nifty stick handling and passing while otherwise sleepwalking through the game. And tired D, like Gill and Hamerlik, who should have been resting were logging minutes, while Weber played on the wing. As usual, I find the coaching mystifying.

  11. smiler2729 says:

    The Habs looked disinterested until it really mattered when they scored to tie it in the dying seconds then went back to the disarray in OT.

    They know they have to be better than that so I’m not worried.

    “My second favourite team is whoever plays the Leafs”

  12. WindsorHab-10 says:

    I say rest more players tomorrow night. No need to take chances against a team that could play dirty. There are no guarantees that we can win a series against any of the top 4 in the East, so why chance it tomorrow & go all out. As poorly as we played in Ottawa, getting the equalizer with 11 seconds to go sure felt like a win.

  13. WindsorHab-10 says:

    Why does Montreal have to have a decent game in Toronto? Does it really matter if we face Flyers, Caps or Bruins? Are we guaranteed a win against any of the top 4 in the East? I think JM should use the game to rest more players. No need to take chances with a dirty team like the Leafs. As poorly as we played last night, getting the equalizer with 11 seconds to go felt like a win.

  14. JohnBellyful says:

    Can’t believe I have to do this but test … test …
    Mr. Server, are you there? Anyone?

  15. JohnBellyful says:

    MONTREAL – The sixth-place Montreal Canadiens received devastating news Thursday that could severely hurt their Stanley Cup chances: Tom Pyatt’s stone hands is contagious.
    The chief researcher at the the club’s newly established medical foundation told reporters a battery of tests and a stack of game sheets have confirmed Pyatt’s inability to score has spread to his teammates.
    “Pouliot, Desharnais, Eller, Gomez – all have been infected,” Dr. Mel Cleghorn said. “At first we thought it was a genetic condition peculiar to Pyatt that could be treated, once its cause was determined. That’s why we set up the foundation in December, to find a cure for Tom’s Roberto Duranitis and then move on to tackling other diseases rampant in the NHL. But the disease is more insidious than we first imagined.”
    Dr. Cleghorn said the team has tried different prophylatic measures, such as isolating Pyatt from the team (a keep-the-other-players-healthy scratch), making him dress in the hallway, and having him wear aluminum-lined, antibiotic-soaked oven mitts at all times.
    But it appears the team waited too long.
    “When we saw a natural goal scorer like Gomez consistently coming up empty, we knew we had a bigger problem on our hands than just Tom’s hands,” Dr. Cleghorn said.
    He also revealed the foundation’s medical team is working on another medical mystery: Pouliot’s propensity to fall to the ice unprovoked.
    “We’ve ruled out weak ankles, an inner ear infection, and poorly built skates,” Dr. Cleghorn said. “Until we find the reason for it, we’re calling it poulio- a temporary paralysis of the lower limbs that causes a player to lose his stride and then his balance. We know it’s not contagious because no one else on the team displays the same symptoms.”
    The researcher said the foundation is exploring the possibility the two puzzling conditions might be the result of environmental factors.
    “There’s no way these forwards would have been signed to contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars if they couldn’t score,” Dr. Cleghorn said. “Something must have happened after they got here.”
    To confirm that thesis, the foundation will find out if players traded away by the Habs have upped their scoring totals playing with new teams.

  16. Captain aHab says:

    Oh well…..guys just looked like they wanted a day off last night.

    They should bring up a couple of tough guys for the Laffs game and have them pummel Grabovsky and Kessel. That’s what the league and Brian Burke want, correct?

  17. notbigbird says:

    Let’s not get too upset. Sens have beaten a lot of decent teams lately: Wash, Philly, NYR and TBL (also lost to TBL). We know they weren’t playing with an edge, and that’s understandable.

  18. pierre lapuck says:

    I agree with the Plekanek assessment, he was brutal last night and has been rather sucky for the past month. We need him back.

  19. CanadienBoy says:

    What’s happening with turtle neck ? Kesler ‘s making the same $$ and score 40 last night

  20. Old Bald Bird says:

    As usual when we lose against a lower team, people are up in arms, but the Sens have defeated Wash, Philly, NYR, and TBL lately. Take last night with a grain of salt.

    — formerly notbigbird –


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