About last night …

This is what diminished expectations have come to in the city of 24 Stanley Cups:

An overtime loss to the second-worst team in the league is the occasion for sighs of relief, high-fives and much merriment in the watering holes of Crescent St., the Main and St. Denis.

And why not?

Your Montreal Canadiens are riding their three-game losing streak right into the playoffs.

 

nszR0tfp4Es

 

After throwing my back out doing a celebratory handspring, I’m day-to-day for The Dance, partners for which are still undetermined.

Depending on what happens in Philadelphia, the Canadiens will finish seventh (if the Rangers win) or eighth (if it’s the Flyers).

A seven seeding means either the Devils or Sabres as first-round opponents.

Eighth place is … gulp! … Washington, which will finish with at least a 32-point bulge on the Canadiens, while scoring 98 more goals, with a game to go.

On the other hand, the Canadiens have allowed six fewer goals, with the Caps playing Boston tomorrow.

Possible first series goaltenders: Ryan Miller, Martin Brodeur or – wait for it – José Theodore.

 

And at the other end of the ice, on Wednesday or Thursday night: Jaro Halak.

I guess.

You dance with the girl what brung ya, but Jaro was beaten four times  by the Leafs, did not look great and was a rare no-show in the dressing room.

He was outplayed by Jean-Sébastien Giguère, the latest Québécois goalie to give the Canadiens fits. Giggy made 34 stops and was helped by his goalposts, which the Canadiens managed to ding four times.

Mike Zeissberger, who writes for the Toronto Sun, said the ultimate playoff series would be a Canadiens-Leafs best-of-seven. There’s always something special in the air when the two rivals hook up, and this game was no exception.

Toronto always plays the Canadiens tough.

But let’s be serious: the Leafs suck. And the difficulty with which the Cnaadiens managed to secure the point they needed does not augur well for a deep run in the postseason.

On the other hand (I hate that phrase and I’ve used it twice; what HIO needs is a one-armed hockey blogger), the playoffs are a new season. Everyone starts with a clean slate and the opportunity to redeem himself.

Redemption started early for some Canadiens’ veterans:

• Scott Gomez was spectacular against the Leafs. Four shots on goal while centring the team’s most effective line, 15-11 on faceoffs and a continually dangerous presence in the Leafs’ end. In a must wine (or tie) game, Gomez played like a winner.

• Andrei Markov scored a goal, assisted on two others and was in total mastery for every minute of the 25 he played. This was vintage Markov, maybe the best he’s been since the Olympics.

• Brian Gionta had 10 shots on goal and was in Giguère’s face all night.

• Benoit Pouliot elevated his game to match the do-or-die efforts of his veteran linemates. This was a very positive development, because Benny has been struggling for a while, raising the spectre of his chronic underachievement  in Minnesota.

• Mike Cammalleri played like his hair was on fire. He had six shots on goal and looked very much like the dangerous sniper he was before the knee injury.

• Marc-André Bergeron, who began the season out of hockey, ended it playing 24:22 – second only to Markov. MAB scored the most important goal of the game, giving the Canadiens a 3-2 lead heading into the final 20 minutes, and made several alert plays and crisp first passes on D. 

Enough with the fourth-line nonsense: MAB is a defenceman. And he had to be because Ryan O’Byrne played a grand total of 1:46 – one shift in each period.

Jacques Martin used a short bench all night, mostly rolling three lines. It worked because final score notwithstanding, the Canadiens held a territorial advantage and would have won easily were it not for Giguère … and, it must be said, sub-par Jaro.

To protect the lead in the third period, Martin benched Andrei Kostitsyn and promoted Mathieu Darche to Tomas Plekanec’s line. The move paid off in several nice puck-possession shifts, but the enigmatic AK will be back for the playoffs.

Sergei?

I don’t know. Martin made the odd assertion that a team needs “25 or 26 players” during the postseason. Maybe BGL is coming back.

Can this team make some noise?

Beats me.

I thought they’d lose in regulation to Toronto, setting up a city-wide nervous breakdown on Sunday afternoon.

As it is, we can spend the Lord’s day not giving a rip what happens around the league.

The Canadiens spent a week chasing that bloody elusive point.

They finally got it, and that’s cause for modest celebration.

•  •  •

Classy:

The Canadiens lined up to shake Dan Marouelli’s hand after the game.

Scott Gomez hugged him.

They won’t be doing that for Chris Lee.

•  •  •

Fight of the Night: Evander Kane makes Marc Savard and many others happy by demolishing Matt Cooke.

155 Comments

  1. light_n_tasty says:

    You’re even crazier.

  2. santeri says:

    One word: Kovalchuk.

  3. SeriousFan09 says:

    Markov just went huge in our biggest game of the year, don’t count him out.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  4. The Cat says:

    Markov isnt at his best right now. Plus hes not really complete as a defenseman: hes great offisively but he lacks physicality and isnt that good at shutting the door. Martin is better in the last 2 parts. Plus, you watch Markov will be a no show once again in the playoffs.

  5. the_larry says:

    Yeah, you’re crazy. The Habs will be lucky to last 3 games! Ovy will CRUSH the Habs D!

  6. andrewberkshire says:

    Uh, no. Paul Martin is good, maybe even very good, but Markov is WAY better than Paul Martin could ever be. It’s not even close.

  7. The Cat says:

    Paul Martin is quietly excellent. If habs play NJ, Paul Martin is the best D of both teams.

  8. The Cat says:

    I think Bostons a better darkhorse in the east. The NHL wants Ovechkin and the caps to go as deep as possible so you know the habs wont get any favours from the refs. The habs chances amount to the goalies stealing 4 games cause itll be a constant pepperin’.

  9. SeriousFan09 says:

    Rather lose gloriously in an entertaining series with the Capitals than be bored into a playoff exit by the New Jersey Trappers. Martin Brodeur may not be at his best anymore but against Les Habitants? He’ll be nightmarish.

    And Kovalchuk is a Devil now, he’s a notorious pain in the ass for us.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  10. Chris says:

    Honestly can’t see it this year.  Last year, I think the Habs would have given the Caps a handful, but the caps have that crucial year of playoff experience under their belts now and are simply too deep for the Habs.

    I would be more than content to see them play the Devils in the first round.  Since the Olympic break, that is the team I fear the least of the top 4 seeds (who are all good, as evidenced by their being the top 4 seeds!).  They are effectively a one-line team with Elias, Parise and Zajac providing most of their offence (although Langenbrunner is a solid vet).  Their no-name defence does not terrify with size or speed (although we saw what a no-name defence corps CAN do to the Habs the other night in Carolina).  And Martin F. Brodeur has not played like himself in the playoffs in either of the last two seasons.

  11. phillyhab says:

    It’s really about how he plays, but Jaro has EARNED without a doubt the first two, maybe three starts in a series. 

  12. phillyhab says:

    It’s the ears!

  13. TripleX says:

    Probably has nothing to do with the shabby treatment of his brother by this organization.

  14. TripleX says:

    Yeah those two consecutive shutouts of Buffalo and Philly were throwaway games.  Give your head a shake.

  15. TripleX says:

    You’re crazy!

  16. HabsFanInVictoria says:

    Hmm…..

  17. HabsFanInVictoria says:

    I guess I didn’t do anything… but it’s nice to pretend :) 

  18. HabsFanInVictoria says:

    WE DID IT!  

     

    Great post tonight Mr. Boone.

  19. andrewberkshire says:

    Something has clearly gone on between them behind the scenes, because Sergei has been our 3rd best forward the last 20 games, scratching him is insane.

  20. t1tan5 says:

    You do realize that if your words betray your lack of knowledge, it means that you are making sense, right?

  21. TOEmastro says:

    good on Kane for not letting the schmuck’s head hit the ice. class act after a good beating

  22. Richrebellion says:

    I agree although he has carried us all season does not mean once were in the playoffs he can slack. You can make excuses for the past 3 games but its simple he wasnt good enough to help us win. If he plays like this first game of the playoffs and we lose id play Price.

  23. SeriousFan09 says:

    Hamrlik and Spacek were admirable in their time as 1-2 Ds for the team, but the toll is evident at this time of year. Taking on Markov’s workload was more than they could handle and it showed. Did all they could, but it wore them down to this point. JM should consider alternatively resting Hammer and Spacek while shifting OB in.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  24. J. Ambrose says:

    With all due respect to the yeoman work Hammer put in this season anchoring the D while Markov was out, it sure would be nice to have that 5 1/2 million to play with.

  25. EricInStL says:

    No killer instinct on this team.

    Boston needs to get it done, does it

    NJ puts their feet down, they get it done.

    Buffalo kicks ass with a pretender.

    MTL lays a couple of goose eggs.

    We canot put sustained pressure on anyone. We need size dammit…… Trade the K brothers for size. I don’t care if they score a billion goals with the other team.

    In Guy Boucher I trust.

  26. Richrebellion says:

    Pretty simple Halak has been sub par for the past 3 games and everyone wonders why we lost to the scum of the east. This teams wont score 5 goals a game so if Halak plays like he did these past 3 games against new jersey or washington we will be out quickly.

    I dont think Halak deals well with pressure, the past 3 games should have been easy wins and should have left us in 6th with a matchup against buffalo. Instead we got mediocre goaltending and barely clinched a playoff spot! When will people see that Halak is not a big game goalie, unlike ward, roy, brodeur and the rest of the greats?

  27. J. Ambrose says:

    I’m starting to think Sergei had an affair with Jacques’ wife… or daughter, ’cause his dislike is palpable and ridiculous.

  28. EricInStL says:

    Next year Kane gets a standing O in Beantown

    In Guy Boucher I trust.

  29. SeriousFan09 says:

    Hamrlik’s not able to play full NHL seasons anymore, 18 years in the NHL has worn him down with over 1200 GP, no real shame in it but he’s too old now unfortunately to handle the strain. Canadiens need to get him off the roster if only to make room for Subban and re-signing our players.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  30. J. Ambrose says:

    Gotta feel for Pleks. He came out flying. Worked in the corners. Stole the puck. Was always fighting to get free going forward. But once he got free, he’d be all alone. Don’t understand what has become of AK, but he has clearly quit.

  31. J. Ambrose says:

    He looks spent. And is Spacek the worst shooting d-man you’ve ever seen?! My God. 

  32. J. Ambrose says:

    Agree. I love Jaro, but if your head’s not in it — and his clearly wasn’t for some reason — you should expect to get the fold-out chair in the corridor. 

  33. habs-hampton says:

    Boone, you failed to mention how bad Hammer looked. Turning the wrong way on Hansens last goal? I learned not to do that in PeeWee!!!

  34. J. Ambrose says:

    Yup. This ain’t 07-08 when, no matter how our goalie was playing, we were always in it. One PP, and we were back. Now goals are as rare and precious as a Wall Street trader with a conscience. 

  35. The Cat says:

    Neither Halak or Price can be blamed for much, sure theyll have slumps they cant be lights out everytime. The habs are like the Florida panthers: good goaltending and rare are the times the team will score 3 goals or more in one game.

  36. J. Ambrose says:

    And he’s only 18!!! Just imagine what a force he’ll be when his pubes grow in. Man!

  37. andrewberkshire says:

    Seems like a much better conversation can be had when criticism is kept civil. I think your respective responses to my comment and Primetime’s comment are a great example of this. Approach an issue honestly and with respect, you get a thoughtful reply in return. Try to be a bit of a jerk and pull an “I told you so”, and you get vitriol.

  38. diehardhab says:

    With our team our margins for winning and losing are so small that 1 bad goal can easily do us in. We don’t have the firepower to be able to stay in games. Whoever is in nets better be stopping anything that they see!

    The torch be yours to hold it high!

  39. Shiloh says:

    You are asinine – almost every word you write betrays your lack of knowledge about hockey. Some of your words go farther and betray your lack of knowledge about the world around you.  I don’t know if you are suffering from the shock of having your idol stink for two years – or are just generally dimwitted. Either way, it must suck.

  40. PrimeTime says:

    Halaka played as I expected….he had a good run and got us into the playoffs but now it’s time to start a Canadian goalie who single-handedly won the AHL cup. PG probably “has” to sign Halak over Price unless the latter steals a round or two in the playoffs. If not he will likely be get an Offer Sheet by PHI and will win it all again in a few years and you idiots will choke on crow while Halaka plays to keep the Habs right where they are now year after year. Those who disagree are simply WRONG and it will be proven

     

     

    Bipolar or Manic-Depressive Disorder is a disease than can treated.

  41. andrewberkshire says:

    It’s what happens when you’re the starter! Nobody can take his season away from him, it’s been a breakout year and a damn impressive one, but I’m worried by the way it ended. A new season starts tomorrow, and Halak needs to be in top form.

  42. andrewberkshire says:

    I think it has to be subjective. Stats won’t tell the story. If he ends up saving 40 of 44 shots in the first game in a loss, and looks as shaky as he did tonight, and fights the puck, I’d be going to Price the second game, even though his stats would look ok. We can’t afford to make the same mistake as last year and ride a goalie into the ground. We have two excellent goalies, if we need to use both it’s not a big deal.

  43. ooder says:

    he definitely has set the bar pretty high for himself eh

    ——————

    “I like what I’m seeing right now,” assessed Markov. “We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to be.”

  44. andrewberkshire says:

    Thanks Topher, means a lot considering we don’t always see eye-to-eye!

  45. andrewberkshire says:

    O’Byrne TOI today was criminal, as was the scratching of Sergei. We absolutely need to start scoring as well. I don’t want to put too much blame on Halak, because let’s face it, he’s also the biggest reason we have a chance to be where we are, but he has to be better.

  46. andrewberkshire says:

    I completely agree that the team has sucked, I just think Halak, through most of the rest of the season, could have won or kept us in both those games.

  47. andrewberkshire says:

    Sorry Clay, legion sounds a lot better! 

  48. habs001 says:

    the biggest upset in playoff history if we play the caps and beat them…looking at some of these stats from a couple of days ago it looks impossible to beat the caps…

    it is very important we do not finish 8th..while we had some success vs capitals reg season in the playoffs the intensity and physicality revs up to another level
    the caps have scored 98 more goals while giving up 13 more than us ..but if you look at their secondary forwards it is impressive
     
                                                             laich         height  6-2    25 goals
                                                             knuble                 6-3    28
                                                         Fleischmann            6-1    23   
                                                              fehr                    6-4    21
                                                           chimera                 6-2    14
                                                             bradley                6-3    10
                                                             steckel                6-5     5     
     
       plus they have morrison 42 points and belanger  39 points who are also physical players…plus their big 3 forwards all  about 6-2…there is no way we can match up with them if they are playing up to par….in contrast we have secondary forwards pyatt  5 points….darche 10 points….lapps 14 points….sk74 18 points…..moen 18 points 
    pouliot 27 points….moore 27 points….plus a slow footed d and questionable physical abilities… 
  49. topher5468 says:

    Dont get me wrong your are exactly right, this team had no fight when they should have been beating teams to secure a spot. I know halak can be better and I hope that he is. I just don’t want to be emarrassed

    “It’s not an obsession, It’s a way of life..”

  50. bigbighabsfan says:

    Well they made it, one way or another. I think the appropriate thing to say now is Go Habs :)

     

    (edit: seems I was drunker than I thought last night..aw hell go habs anyway)

  51. ooder says:

    i dunno, the islanders and canes games the hwole team laid an egg.

    but i get what you and andrew are saying.

    1 one game trial to see where he stands

    ——————

    “I like what I’m seeing right now,” assessed Markov. “We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to be.”

  52. nova scotia vees says:

    I am a Halak fan, but he is not up to par and tonight he was poor.  Mind you…what were Hamerlik and Spazchek doing on that break-away goal??? Hamerlik needs a rest or something.  He is not playing well…

    The Koz brothers are home-sick…no interest in staying around for two more weeks.  Did you see AK’s face on the bench after we clinched?  Morose….

    Don’t play either of them again…and no Moen (moan)…and more Moore…and Darche and Pyatt…players who work hard.

     

  53. SeriousFan09 says:

    Andrew has said Halak should be our No. 1 guy but he is raising a valid point about Halak’s performance in what was our most important week of the year.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  54. topher5468 says:

    I think that was a fair and impartial comment. Halak deserves to start but he can’t play like he did this past week and not get some pine.

    “It’s not an obsession, It’s a way of life..”

  55. Da Hema says:

    The Penguins certianly have some human pukes on their club. That little knockout is wonderful to see!

    ————————

    “There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge….”

    –Hunter S. Thompson

  56. SeriousFan09 says:

    Everyone in the league owes this kid a beer, giving a D-bag what’s coming to him.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  57. Da Hema says:

    No doubt the team’s lack of physicality will mean a short playoff experience. That said, I haven’t seen a Hab player so explicitly go out of her way to avoid going into the corners as little Sergei–or at least since Kjell Dahlin. You can’t do what Sergei’s been doing. It is, well, cowardly–and everyone sees it.

    ————————

    “There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge….”

    –Hunter S. Thompson

  58. matraque says:

    Tu connais rien! Canadiens en 5.

    We will beat the Caps.

    ——

    Canadien en 5!
    Never go Full Retard
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svwGRJA28lY&feature=related

  59. matraque says:

    We know you are in the Price super fanclub so why should we expect you to preach for Halak?

    Did Price allowed us to make it to the playoffs?

    Hopefully, this is worst Price season ever.

    ——

    Canadien en 5!
    Never go Full Retard
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svwGRJA28lY&feature=related

  60. Bob Barker says:

    ya he’s playing noticeably better. 

  61. Bob Barker says:

    Highlight of the night. Evander Kane bringing the pain. 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW9Sp-WndwA

  62. Clay4bc says:

    You’re right…I would have even pulled him tonight after the third goal – it was obvious that he was fighting the puck. 1 game of grace in the playoffs, but another like tonight and Price has to get the nod.

    But for the record, it’s the “Legion of Halak”, not “Halak’s super fanclub”  :)

    _________________

    Don’t argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

  63. topher5468 says:

    I agree with Andrew, Halak laid a giant egg, all week. A short leash is fair

    “It’s not an obsession, It’s a way of life..”

  64. TOEmastro says:

    is anyone else really impressed with Max the last few games? I was getting used to spitting at his name but I really came around on him

  65. topher5468 says:

    I have to say Timo that I agree with you, other than a clean slate, this team has nothig going for them not evev a hot goalie because Halak sucked this past week. this team is horrible and shoud be going home, I hope they dont embarrass like last year

    “It’s not an obsession, It’s a way of life..”

  66. ooder says:

    even though halak was not good tonight at all, i think it’s unfari to say that he is the biggest reason.

    the teams did not show up against the islanders or hurricanes.

    the fact that we even got to overtime was a mircale agasint the islanders.

    as for the hurricanes… well maybe 1 goal was weak, 

    halak was deffinately been sub par, which is a good reason why we didn’t trade price

    ——————

    “I like what I’m seeing right now,” assessed Markov. “We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to be.”

  67. Da Hema says:

    If he is so injured that he cannot make routine contact with opponents, he should not be playing. I think everyone knows the reason why he avoids physical contact on the ice. Either way, eating hot dogs in the press box is where he belongs–until he can be moved.

    ————————

    “There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge….”

    –Hunter S. Thompson

  68. andrewberkshire says:

    I know many of Halak’s super fanclub will be all over me for this, but Halak has been the biggest reason we’ve lost the last three games. All season he’s been spectacular and making everything look easy, and despite the team hanging him out to dry, he’s always come up big and made the big save at key times. That isn’t happening anymore. He’s made higher standards for himself and he’s failing. Two weak goals against the Islanders, followed by one of the worst shootout performances I’ve ever seen, deflating goals against the Canes, and 3 weak ones tonight in a game we should have won 3-1 with Halak having an AVERAGE game. He should start the first game of the playoffs, but he’s on a damn short leash in my opinion. Thankfully we have two good goalies, so if one chokes we can go with the other.

  69. topher5468 says:

    Halak laid an egg, was not impressed with down the stretch at all. This team played scared all night, AK 46 to me is terrible. I dont think this team belongs in the post season. I hope this team can at least make the most of this undeserving opportunity. 

    “It’s not an obsession, It’s a way of life..”

  70. rogieshan says:

    Someone here must’ve mentioned this already, but there were many occasions over the last half-dozen games where you can clearly see Sergei Kostitsyn letting up on plays along the boards and in corners, as if he was deliberately trying to avoid contact. Perhaps he’s still favouring an injury, or he his play had become indifferent again (much like his brother). 

  71. mfDx says:

    Q: How much would you allow Halak to slide in the playoffs before pulling him?

    – Losing the first two games w/ 6 goals against?

    – Losing the first three games w/ 4 goals against?

    – 4 goals in a period?

    – scandalous photos popping up on the internet? 

  72. Shiloh says:

    Agree with most of what you’ve written – he fought the puck all night. The backhander may have been deflected by Hamrlik but it was still gettable. I agree with Martin’s decision not to pull him – if he put Price in and we lost the point it would have been one of the most questionable decisions in franchise history.

    Halak should bounce back – but that may not be enough if we don’t stop hitting posts instead of twine. O’Byrne has to play too.

  73. SeriousFan09 says:

    Disturbing Stat from the night: Ryan O’Byrne, the best physical deterrent the Canadiens have had all year in their defensive zone turned in 1:46 against one of their most physical, aggressive adversaries.

    You think we could’ve used him a little, dressing 7 Ds is only useful if the 7th D does something besides hand the 6 others their water bottles.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  74. Sehs says:

    We’re going to be the only team going into the playoffs with a negative goal differential for the season save for the Senators (who actually have a worse(?) differential than us).


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.