About last night …

PriceTB

Is the playoff express back on track for your Montreal Canadiens?
Is it SRO on the bandwagon?
Can P.K. Subban play 60 minutes of each playoff game?
And who had the brilliant idea of dusting off those old Forum Ghost-guaranteed goalposts?

Those are a few of the questions that linger after the Canadiens snapped their losing streak with a 3-2 squeaker over Tampa Bay at the Bell Centre Thursday night. It was the second time this season a win over the Lightning stopped a three-game skid.

In his postgame press conference, Michel Therrien talked about his team catching a few belated breaks … like the two goalposts and a crossbar the Lightning hit during a scoreless first period.

The shots beat Carey Price. But whichever god rules the destiny of goaltenders decided enough was enough for the Canadiens’ beleaguered netminder.

Ping! Ping! Ping! And as the shots ricocheted harmlessly off iron, Price and his teammates were spared a fourth consecutive first-period deficit.

Which was a good thing, because let’s be honest: The Canadiens won, sure enough, but they did not look like a team that would have roared back from 2-0 or 3-0 had those shots been a few centimetres more accurate.

But a win is a win. And Brian Gionta’s late power-play goal moved the Canadiens past idle Boston (which plays mighty Pittsburgh Friday night) into the Northeast Division lead.

The win also padded the Canadiens’ lead over fifth-place Toronto to six points, diminishing the likelihood that the April 27 game at the Air Canada Centre will be a battle for home-ice advantage when the playoffs begin. The Leafs are one point ahead of Ottawa, which has a game in hand, and two up on the red-hot Islanders, who embarrassed the home team at the ACC  Thursday night.

Nor can you count out Winnipeg, which cooled off Washington and ensured the Capitals, who are at the Bell Centre Saturday, will be desperate for a win.

Brandon Prust will be back in the Canadiens’ lineup on Saturday. More importantly, Therrien also indicated Raphael Diaz is likely to play against the Caps. The Swiss defenceman is desperately needed for a blueline corps that once again had its hands full – and its skates in sand – Thursday night.

Andrei Markov played 25:45 against Tampa Bay. He has averaged a team-leading 24:19, and Markov’s performance in recent games strongly suggests the defenceman could use the nights off Therrien has been giving Prust in recognition of the valuable forward’s banged-up body.

The return of Diaz will give Therrien some flexibility in his defence pairings. But as the playoffs loom, the Canadiens still desperately miss the physical force of Markov’s injured D partner, Alexei Emelin. As was rarely the case earlier in the season, opponents have been able to pound the Canadiens’ defence and cycle effectively in the offensive zone, creating high-percentage scoring opportunities.

With the help of his goalposts and some stellar saves – notably on Richard Panik and Martin St. Louis – Price was able to deny  Tampa Bay goals their puck possession and pressure might have merited. He will have to be just as good, if not better, against Washington on Saturday.

The Caps, who beat the Canadiens on their last visit, will be facing rejigged forward lines that offered uneven performances against the Lightning.

Max Pacioretty had four shots on goal, three hits and an assist. Max’s speed complemented that of his new linemates, Tomas Plekanec and Gionta.

I was less impressed by David Desharnais, Rene Bourque and Michael Ryder. Ryder had four shots on goal and Bourque had a couple (while missing the net three times), but the line is weak defensively and floundered around the Canadiens’ zone during the sequence that led to the Vincent Lecavalier goal that completed TB’s comeback from a 2-0 deficit.

Brendan Gallagher played with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk on a line that was used sparingly. Galchenyuk, who used his silky smooth hands to pop the game’s first goal, played less than any forward on either team. I know Therrien is protecting the kid, which is what Boston did with Tyler Seguin and may be the wisest course in the long run. But Galchenyuk has scored in three straight games and has six goals in April. Surely this merits more ice time than Travis Moen.

• The game completed the Canadiens’ schedule of nine back-to-backs this season. While the conventional wisdom is the team is undersized and therefore vulnerable to the ravages of fatigue, the Canadiens were 7-1-1 in the second half of back-to-backs … Vincent Lecavalier, who has scored one goal more than Galchenyuk, has seven years left on a no-trade contract that carries a cap hit of $7.72 million … Yannick Weber played 13:20, was not on for either TB goal and set up Brian Gionta’s winner. Will MT sit him for Diaz? … When asked about the struggles of the power play – which was 0-for-5 and horrible until Gionta’s game-winning goal – Therrien said special teams have suffered from a lack of practice time. The Canadiens are off Friday after playing four games in six nights

 

 

 

302 Comments

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  2. doug19 says:

    We have a secret weapon player for the playoffs it is————–wait for him
    KABERLE!!!

  3. petefleet says:

    I was in the Newark airport yesterday and watched the American president on TV at the memorial service for the bombing victims. I turned to my wife and said”If I wanted a bigger target than the finish line…there it is. I can’t believe the Secret Service let the president go to Boston with the bombers still at large!!!” Something is seriously wrong in his camp. No way I’d go to Boston with those guys still running around.

    ******************************************
    I haven’t been wrong in a long time…..not feeling like today is the day.

    ***Go Habs Go***

    • joeybarrie says:

      I am fairly certain that the secret service and US intelligence know a lot more about whats going on than the media has come out with.
      Besides, they do a different job of checking an area when the President comes than they do to put on a marathon. Which is why its so sad.
      I think they figured out exactly who is responsible.

  4. savethepuck says:

    In 3 years on this Site, I have never posted line combos or D pairings, so this is. 1st for me. Weber seems to be getting some praise for his play last night, so when Diaz returns, is it really that bad to have both Swiss D in the lineup?
    PK-Markov
    Diaz-Gorges
    Boo-Weber
    PK has the speed to insulate Markov defensively and nobody can Argue the offensive upside. Gorges And Diaz were mostly paired together before Diaz was injured.

    I would also not have a problem with

    PK-Gorges
    Markov-Diaz
    Boo-Weber
    “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
    Carey Price

  5. Loonie says:

    On the previous page there’s some comments about heat that Desharnais has taken.

    In my opinion it comes from his limited contributions. He’s an excellent passer which is obviously tremendously valuable. But like every other player who isn’t elite he needs to find a way to contribute when “his game” isn’t working. When guys like Pacioretty and Gallagher aren’t burying the chances he puts on their stick his positive impact on the game is almost non-existent.

    I mentioned that last night was one of his best defensive games I’ve ever seen if not the best. That’s the kind of Desharnais that needs to show up more often. He’s billed as one of the hardest workers on the team and last night notwithstanding, I’m sorry but I haven’t seen it. This season at least there have been far too many times where he skates lazily toward the puck carrier and uses a laboured one handed poke in a feeble attempt to break up a play. Last night he was a man possessed. Skating hard, breaking up passes and eliminating his men with two hands on his stick and hard checking. Last night’s Desharnais deserved praise as a hard worker, the version of him that has shown up for most of the other fourty-two games hasn’t deserved that compliment.

    Ryder is similar in that when he isn’t scoring his value is minimal. Pacioretty’s figuring this out, it’s something Bourque has always understand, Gionta too.

    When things aren’t going your way you need to find other ways to be a good contributor.

    Jonathan Cheechoo is a an excellent goal scorer, look at him now.

  6. Timo says:

    What’s going on people? So quiet today.

  7. jeffhabfan says:

    I just want to finish strong and win the divison and go as far as possible this year.GO HABS GO.

  8. frontenac1 says:

    I love the speed and skill on the team,but we are coming down to Crunch time amigos as we have witnessed in the last few games,opponents are belting the crap out of us and it will intensify in the first round.We are being out hit 3-1 and no,its not because we have the puck more.Our bigger bodies have to start hitting. Max started hitting last night finally. Cube can hit like a truck and must start again.Eller,Drewski,Bourque ,Moen can do some serious damage with their size.You just can’t get outhit like that every game and win.

  9. Thomas Le Fan says:

    Yeah sure the Bolts hit the post a few times but we missed some pretty decent chances in the first period, as well. What’s the difference between near misses and loud misses? I know the similarity. Neither are shots on goal and this ain’t horseshoes. Maybe it was just time we caught a break. Besides Price made some big saves. Go Habs.

    There is no crying in baseball, “i” in team or “chuck” in Galchenyuk.

  10. Kfourn says:

    Wow Price stole that one for the Habs, it could have been ugly. With some luck and goaltending like last night we may be able to do some damage in the playoffs

    _______________________________________________________
    Well, he’s kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace “accidentally” with “repeatedly” and replace “dog” with “son.”

    “It’s sad when our rookies have no NHL experience before they jump up to the NHL.” – nunacanadien

  11. Timo says:

    Drewiske – another strike against Bergevin. (not that he doesn’t have enough)

  12. The Dude says:

    2 teams same budget ,one has athlete’s named Crosby ,Letang,Malkin,Neal, Iggy,Morrow etc . And the other Drewiske, Weber and fk’n Kaberle…it’s a nightmare for this 50 year fan.

    • jo_maka says:

      Wolverine never used a gun.
      Neither did Thunderbird and the Beast.
      So there’s that. :P
      _________________________________
      Open-mindedness is not a skull fracture

  13. 100HABS says:

    Diaz should replace Drew, keep Weber in. I think even Kaberle would be an improvement on Drewiske.

  14. Luke says:

    My new avatar picture is 100% responsible for this win.

    Since changing my avatar the Habs have been undefeated.

    Solid statistical analysis indicates that EVERY single game the Habs have played while Guy Smiley is pointing the “finger of trust” at them has been a victory.

    The evidence is overwhelming.


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