About last night …

What is there to say?

Six consecutive penalties is an aberration in a league that tends to even up the calls.

It was an accurate reflection, however, of the Canadiens’ indisciplined play.

Benoit Pouliot, who had finally started flashing high draft choice form in recent games, took two stick calls behind the play and far from his net.

There was a brain fart at the bench, resulting in the Too Many Men call that turned the game around.

Last night on CKAC, Dany Dubé was talking about the most crucial stages of a hockey game:

• The final minutes of a period, when you want to generate some momentum heading into the room.

• The opening minutes of each period, when a team practices what’s been preached in the room and sets the tone for the minutes that are to follow.

Players have to be aware of both situations. They have to bear down, concentrate on the task at hand.

With 11 seconds left in the second period and the score last night, the score was 2-2. The Canadiens had been outplayed and had blown a 2-1 lead, but there was a chance to get off the ice in a tied game and regroup for the final 20 minutes.

That didn’t happen. Jaro Spacek coughed the puck up to Jordan Staal, who beat Carey Price to the short side.

OK, it was only 3-2. Still a game.

But 1:11 into the third period, Pouliot went off for hooking. The Pittsburgh power-play, which had struggled this season with Sidney Crosby in the lineup, got a goal from Alex Goligoski.

Game over.

It was won by the better team – last night, most nights … except the playoffs and the first two games this season.

Jordan Staal was the best player on the ice.

Marc-André Fleury outplayed Price, earning he right to do some stylin’ as the seconds ticked down.

Goligoski and  Kris Letang (with three assists, and the Penguins were lobbying the NHL for a fourth, on the Spacek giveaway) were the scorers, but Pittsburgh got a solid efort from its entire defensive corps, holding he Canadiens to 22 shots.

That’s the fewest at the Bell Centre since Dec. 4, when the Canadiens recorded 19 shots against San Jose. But Fleury doesn’t play for the Sharks, and that paltry total was good enough for a 3-1 win.

 

 

Perhaps we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from a game in which the Caadiens spent so much time in the penalty box.

There was some good play at even-strength. And the crowd enjoyed a long stretch of wide-open hockey during the second period.

Some suggest thatthe Canadiens should play that was more often, that the team’s speedy scorers are shackled by Jacques Martin’s defensive system.

I think opening things up would make for more excitement.

And more Ls.

Your Montreal Canadiens don’t have the horses to play run-and-gun. Specifically, they don’t the defencemen to handle odd-man rushes for 60 minutes.

The Dmen are undersized and, espoecially when Andrei Markov is out of the lineup, they need a five-man effort to clear the zone efficiently against aggressive forechecking.

The Martin system is designed to protect this team’s most valuable asset. Five-man defence minimizes the good scoring chances Carey Price willl face, and if he plays as well as he can, the team has a shot to win.

Any rational assessment of the Canadiens’ roster leads to the conclusion Martin, Pierre Gauthier and Bob Gainey reached:

They don’t have the horses. This just isn’t a team capable of blowing anyone out.

The Canadiens haven’t drafted high enough to get a Cosby or Staal (any Staal!)

They got lucky in the 2005 lottery and moved up to draft in the fifth spot. Ignoring the sage advice of Pierre McGuire – and knowing that José Theodore had issues – Gainey picked Price.

The GM rushed his boy into The Show, with decidedly mixed results. Then Gainey blew up his team, acquiring two veterans who had played on a goalie-centric team, and hired a defence-first coach.

And the die was cast.

Your Montreal Canadiens win when they get superb goaltending and puck support that eases the pressure on an aged, undersized D. If they get that plys good special-teams play, the Canadiens can hold opponents to two goals or fewer. Giving up three is pushing it, because the Candiens don’t score: 25th in the league in Goals For

But only Boston, Nashville and Cancouver have allowed fewer Goals Against. The system has worked to the tune of 24 wins this season, a three-W improvement on the Canadiens’ record after 44 games last year.

But there is little room for error – and no room for brain-dead penalties.

And it doesn’t get any easier when two defencemen and a scoring forward are out of the lineup.

The Canadiens have a team meeting at their Brossard practice facility this morning.

There’s much to discuss.

•  •  •

Another view, from Number31 in the Comments:

That 6 minutes and 30 seconds of fast, back and
forth hockey was the only awesome part of the game. The teams looked
like they were having fun, the crowd was loving it, the goalies were
making the saves… Habs were skating and for that moment I totally
didn’t see the effects of playing yesterday on them. I could, however,
see JMart’s face gradually flushing.

Then, they forgot how to count.

But
in all honesty how many times does it need to take for someone to
realize that Spacek on the PK is a bad idea? Especially when you’re
closing a period, and not long after he messed up in that same corner.
Screens his goalie, pulls the Mike Komisarek pass to the slot,
brainfarts with Hamr and tackles his goalie and smacks him in the back
of the head, then ends it off with a great immitation of a perfect
pylon. He wasn’t the only penalty killer that did not help but he was
the standout error on it…

And meh to Fleury. Not exactly a
pose-worthy type of game but whatever. Originality is key though, and he
seems to lack in that category. Get your own damn pose …

 

108 Comments

  1. light_n_tasty says:

    The Habs have small forwards.  They do not have a size problem on defence.

  2. MathMan says:

    “2) As per Mathman. You can frame the experiment anyway you want but you
    cant ignore the results. The habs shots are from far away. There are
    almost no secondary shots or rebounds cashed in on. If the shots arent
    going in there must be something wrong with the shots.

    This is the misconception right there. You’re extrapolating the cause from the result, but you’re not actually looking to see if your cause is correct.

    There’s no evidence that the Habs’ shot quality is significantly lower than other teams’. Behindthenet.ca has shot distances for individual players (go see!), I wish it did it for teams, but I bet you the Habs would be smack dab in the middle. You’re only assuming the shots are bad because the shots don’t go in, but there are other explanations and we know, from analysing similar streaks, that this typically just random variation; streaks like this pretty much invariably revert (regress to the mean). There is no way that the Habs are so bad at shot quality that they end up with a 5-on-5 shooting percentage of 6.5%, which is the second-worst in the league (the average is 8.2%).

  3. Chris says:

    “But the point is, they’re 25th in goals for despite being 8th in shots for. That’s just awful shooting luck.”

    I’m sorry, but I feel that this comment is a fallacy.  Montreal is tied for the second worst shooting percentage in the league at 7.6%.  Given the number of shots they take, this might make one believe that they are a bit jinxed.

    However, when you look at the career numbers of the Habs veterans, a different conclusion emerges.  Ignoring the players without a full season under their belt (Eller, Desharnais, Subban, Pacioretty, Pyatt) and the injured Markov, the combined numbers for the Habs roster yields a shooting percentage of only 8.4%. 

    When you factor in that some of the players are on the downside of their careers (Hamrlik, Spacek, Gill) or factor out blip years (like the post-lockout scorgasm for Gionta/Gomez, which was an obvious anomaly in their career long arcs) and how much the team centers around point shots (a low percentage play against modern NHL goalies given equipment size and the prevalence of the butterfly, 7.6% is about right for a team with no snipers and no bodies willing to screen the goalie.

    The Habs don’t have such a low shooting percentage because of bad luck or hot goaltending.  They have it by design…the team is full of players who have never been consistent snipers at all levels in their career, with the notable exception of Cammalleri, and they refuse to obscure the goalie’s sight lanes. 

  4. matrags says:

    just a note , a scorer despite poor discipline last night , can there be any doubt that old pouliot is as gifted a scorer as we have got. Despite the slash to get the puck the way he buried it past Fleury was as good as it gets and demonstrated what a threat he would be if only he could bring it night in and out.

  5. mbplekfan says:

    Spacek, Weber, Wiz all listed at 5’11. Not good in a league with Ovechkin sized forwards.

    Gorges listed at 6’1 but barely squeaking over 200 lbs.

    Markov listed at 6’0 and barely over 200 lbs.

    Subban listed at 6’0 but decent weight at 210 plus…

    Hamrlik decent size but getting old.

    Gill awesome size but not mobile or aggressive enough.

    Picard should be in Hamilton.

  6. TommyB says:

    MathMan, you can use numbers like shots on goal, scoring chances, etc., all you want.  Bottom line is the low number of goals scored.  Until that number increases significantly, this team will be goaltender-dependent. 

  7. Colomb27 says:

    Ain’t that the truth

  8. Colomb27 says:

    Just a loss.. let’s regroup quickly boys! Big game Saturday!

    Too many penalties against a team with great point shooters.  Ridding the team of that minus machine known as Gonchar was the greatest thing to happen to Pittsburgh.  A star emerged in Letang and he seems to be improving every game.

    We need shots on Saturday. King Henrik is a dynamo in net and he’s always up to shut out our heroes.

  9. MathMan says:

    The importance of goaltending continues to be overstated on the team. Not a knock on Price, but the Habs are no longer a goalie-dependent team most of the time (or, at least, not more goalie-dependent than on other nights).

    For most of this year, the Habs have been a team that controls possession and outshoots, outchances, and outplays other teams. This is good, this is how you win hockey games. They are good at generating chances the way they are playing and, more importantly, they generate more chances than the other guys most of the time. But they’re very unlucky with their shooting, which means they aren’t racking up goals — which creates the illusion that they’re a defensive team that is weak on offense. That is not strictly true; they generate offense but keep running into hot goaltending and/or unlucky shooting streaks.

    Lately they’ve stopped doing that, which is a concern — and it’s ironic that the latest 4-1-1 stretch should be more worrisome about the future than the disastrous, but ultimately unlucky, December month. But even though they’ve won, they’ve won more by luck than by outplaying the opposition. JM needs to refocus the team.

    But the point is, they’re 25th in goals for despite being 8th in shots for. That’s just awful shooting luck.

  10. MathMan says:

    Based on observation, the Habs do not have a shot quality problem. Of course in this case, systematic observation (where people actually go and count scoring chances) disagrees with anecdotical observation (which is informed by the low shooting percentage and tends to look for causes).

  11. MathMan says:

    I doubt that if you weighed all the shots and multiplied them by the shooter’s career shooting percentages rather than just averaging them out, you’d end up with a number that was much below average (Gomez would be the only one dragging it down really). Right now, you’re comparing apples and oranges. Most shots on a team are taken by forwards, especially top-line forward, and they have mor. Right now, you’re calculating the Habs as if Spacek and Gionta took the same number of shots, but the majority of Vancouver’s shots are taken by the Sedins. That makes your 8.4% number problematic; in reality, Cammy and Gionta will take more shots and would get more weight than Gorges and Gill, and the “expected” number over the season would be higher.

    Be that as it may, every year there are lucky and unlucky teams. Shooting percentage has been studied extensively, and variations of luck affect it more than variations in shot quality or team talent. It may be counter-intuitive but there it is, shooting percentage is not a talent that teams can maintain, especially at even strength. It varies a lot year to year with little rhyme or reason. Boston has been a prime example over the last few years, as this year’s Canadiens are (unless you believe their shooting talent dropped by over 2% year over year for no good reason — incidentally, a drop like this one would eat

    Here’s some reading on the subject:

    http://objectivenhl.blogspot.com/2009/02/even-strength-shooting-percentage.html

    http://www.behindthenethockey.com/2010/9/20/1696352/team-shooting-percentage-and-shot

    “The Habs take a lot of shots, but many of them are from the periphery. “

    Again, there is no real evidence of that, and there is evidence that it is in fact untrue. The only reason to assume this is because the Habs have a low shooting percentage, and we know that shooting percentage is volatile and luck-driven.

    Incidentally, if the Habs had last year’s shooting percentage of 8.9% (nothing special, and something that should be within their ability) they’d have 19 more goals. That total would put them around 10th in the league for total goals and goals per game.

  12. Chris says:

    After a season and a half, I feel like I have had enough time to look back at the 2009 Summer Blowout and assess the changes.

    The old guard obviously had to go.  Bridges were burned and the franchise needed some new blood.  So I’m not going to comment on what was let go.  But I’m curious to see how people assess the various signings and acquisitions.  Here’s my two cents…

    Scott Gomez and Tom Pyatt acquired via trade for Chris Higgins, Pavel Valentenko and Ryan McDonagh

    Leaving aside my personal feelings about Gomez, I can’t really say that this trade was a net positive or net negative.  It was a deal to make a deal.

    Gomez has obviously not been worth his cap hit, but to be honest, he has not been a good player on the whole over his tenure in Montreal.  The expectation was that Gomez would be good for 65-75 points (with the delusional out there promising a point per game).  But with 81 points in his first 120 regular season games, it is pretty clear to me that Gomez’s time as a #1 centre is done.  He’s a serviceable second line centre, but certainly not elite in that role.  Pyatt has been a nice addition to the penalty killing unit, but has contributed nothing else to the team in his tenure with 9 points in 77 games.  Although I hear from my female friends that he is hot, so I guess that is something.  :)

    Jaroslav Spacek signed as UFA

    I like Jaro.  I think he contributed a lot in the playoffs last year.  But this was a bad signing.  Too much money for a player that is too old.  Spacek was counted on to fill the void on the PP created by not re-signing Mark Streit.  Problem is that he was never suited for that role.  Nor was the veteran that had spent his whole career on the left side really suited to play out of position for most of his tenure here in Montreal.  I’m not sure that his eventual role, second or even third pairing defenceman, couldn’t have been filled by a cheaper acquisition or a younger player.

    Hal Gill signed as UFA

    Can’t really say anything bad about Gill.  He has played exactly how you would expect him to play based on his long career.   Great penalty killer, played well in the playoffs last year, but is frequently prone to being a pylon on the ice.  Good signing.

    Mike Cammalleri signed as UFA

    Well, he can score goals.  That makes him a rarity in Montreal.  He was a hero in the playoffs.  Buuuuutttttttt….he is invisible just as often as not.  Easy to see why a guy capable of scoring 40 goals in a league starved for goal scoring is already on his third team despite good numbers in his previous two stops.  I get the feeling he’s a me-first player.  Still, good signing, especially based on that playoff run.

    Brian Gionta signed as UFA

    Too much money and too high of expectations.  Gionta is a good player, but people were expecting him to be better than he has been.  For $5 million cap hit for the next 5 seasons, we got a guy who is basically a good positional player that can get you 30 goals without being a huge defensive liability.  I’m worried about his ability to stay healthy, although he is doing well this season.  For $4 million, I would have said a great signing.  At his cap hit, I’ll say it was an average signing.  Hasn’t made the team particularly better, to be honest, but he hasn’t made it worse.  And he gets bonus points for his leadership.

    Mathieu Darche signed as UFA

    Great guy, good role player, cheap.  Fantastic signing, if only for the leadership, work ethic and attitude he brings to the room.  Wish the league had more like him.  But the Habs can’t afford more like him, because he has no offensive upside whatsoever.

    Paul Mara signed as UFA

    Another good guy, but he didn’t end up providing what the Habs needed.  Injury cut short his stint in Montreal, but that -16 rating in only 48 games is too big to ignore.  Bad signing.

    Travis Moen signed as UFA

    Nobody on the current roster annoys me more than Moen.  When he came here, it was to much fanfare of how he would bring some needed toughness and Western Canadian grit to the lineup.  Some might like him, but I think he has been a complete waste of time.  He contributes nothing as far as I can tell…no offense whatsoever, very little in the physical department (his supposed bread & butter), and just invisible on most nights.  Bad signing. 

    Tomas Plekanec re-signed as RFA

    When Gainey re-signed Plekanec that summer, Tomas was coming off an abysmal 39 point season where he looked like a deer in the headlights.  People were expecting one year at a significant pay cut.  Instead, Gainey gave Plekanec a substantial raise ($1.8 M to $2.75 M) and was rewarded with a terrific bounce-back season from Plekanec.  Much angst ensued over Plekanec’s inevitable UFA departure, but he ended up re-signing this past summer for $5 M per, a pretty good deal given his production and importance to the team.  The seeds of that hometown discount were planted back in 2009 by Bob Gainey’s loyalty to a player he could have fleeced, so credit where it is due.  Fantastic signing.

    Overall

    Have to say it was a positive summer, I guess, but I think it is over-rated.  Two years later, the Habs remain a team that struggles to score and fights and claws to squeak into the playoffs.  With good goaltending, they can upset a superior team or two, but they probably don’t have the offensive guns to win a Stanley Cup.  So basically, nothing has changed from what we’ve had the past 5 or 6 seasons before the summer of 2009.

  13. joeybarrie says:

    So in the end I believe we have some very good components on our team. We have a good mix of players, and are dealing with injuries and illness. But with every single player on our team comes good and bad. Last night we saw alot of bad. 4 of 5 games we took points. 3 of 4 wins, and let’s remember we are missing our 2 best D and our top scorer. Pittsburgh was missing their best player too. Difference is we took points in 4 of 5 games, and they lost 3 of 4 games.

    Im pretty happy with our play so far this month. Tonight Boston plays Philly, then Pittsburgh and then Carolina twice. Either way those games turn out it helps us as long as they all don’t go into overtime. We concentrate on beating NYR, CAL, and BUF. IF we win these games, we will either be in 3rd place, or Carolina is pegged back a few spots. Atlanta plays Philly, Dallas and Tampa. The NYR play Vancouver, US, and Philly.

    By next week we will see how things look. If we win at the rate we are winning right now, we should be safely in 6th, or 5th and possibly in 3rd by the skin of our teeth. To stay in 3rd we need to be beating Boston.

    Despite our setbacks, this team is still pushing and we are still looking good for a spot above 8th. I am thinking 95-96 points. Not too bad, and still showing that every year this team gets better.

    BEST PART… PK will hopefully soon be the superstar we have been needing to push us above the good team line and into the elite. Now all we need is for another great forward and we will where everyone wants us.

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

  14. Timo says:

    Undersized D? Come on… Gill, Hammer, Subban, Spatch and Wiesnewski can hardly be considered small. Aging, yes, but still… I don’t think age is a problem. Overutilization, being plain not very good and inexperience is the problem.

    Small and weak applies to our forwards, not D.

  15. Timo says:

    I’ve been saying for at least 2 years that goaltending is the least of our problems. Hey, Philly went to the Stanley Cup finals with who? Blackhawks won the cup with what? Why? Because the rest of their team were solid top to bottom and could score and could defend without relying on a goalie. I agree with your post below – when Habs lose usually it is a collective face plant (including goalies). What would indicate Habs ability to win despite goalies having average performance? Well, stats like Habs winning despite Price or Auld having over 3.00 GAA. But there were probably less than handful games like that.

    When Bobo went and did the whole sale 2 years ago, was Jacques Martin in plans yet as the coach? Becuase if he was then WTF was Gainey thinking getting players that he got? If not, WTF was he and Gauthier thinking hiring Martin?

    It all start with the management anyway.

  16. PeterD says:

    It still seems very clear to me…and I would say Mr. Boone supports this in his analysis of last nights game…”the D are too small, and aged”…The “team can’t score”..or as he put it…”an aged, undersized D…because the Canadiens don’t score“.

    So “if the die is cast” and this is the team we had to play after the rebuild by Ganiey and company, I would say there are some glaring wholes that need addressing right away…The “Die” can be recast and needs to be for this team to be successful moving towards the post season.

    Small, fast, skilled players are great in a run and gun style of play…but if it is team defense and trap style hockey are to be getting from this team we need to make some changes to the die set and lose some of the smaller sized palyers and back fill with mental toughness and size with skill.

    1)  We need to upgrade our Defence…our aging, slowing and small D are a lliability in a league that has teams continuously sending bigger, stronger, faster forwards into our zone shift after shift…Weber may have a slap shot but he is simply too small to handle the larger forwards in the corners and setting up their net presence in fornt of our goailes…we should be going after one or two fresh, mobile, large, oyunger D-men now.

    2)  We need a couple more big strong, skilled and fearless forwards to fill out of top two lines…enough of the smurfs and our current guys with size and talent that avoid the front of the net and the so called dirty areas…we need more ugly, dirty goals from in tight on the goailes, not more shooting from the top of the circles or from the outside.  Our smallish forwards have skill, speed and tenacity, but seriously (with the exception if Gionta) are any of them going to beat out the larger D and F’s in this league along the boards or fight and maintain a screening position in front of the opposition net…we should be going after one or two forwards along the lines of Marleau, Havlat or Iginla.

    The type of changes I am referring to here will require us to give up some of our current roster (not a big deal if it is the right players that leave) and probably some prospects, again not a big deal if we get proven quality in return…afterall a prospect is just that a prospect and the hope that they might become a talented player in the future but this is no guarentee they will ever make the big team.

  17. Chris says:

    It was the best of seasons…

    October/November:

    Price and Auld combined for a 15-8-1 record,  helped by the pair combining for an elite level 1.96 GAA and 0.934 SV%.  The Habs pop-gun offence was mustering a paltry 2.50 goals per game.

    It was the worst of seasons…

    December/January:

    Price and Auld combined for a 9-9-2 record.  While the pop-gun offence somehow found a way to be even less effective (albeit only slightly), with goal support of 2.47 goals per game, Price & Auld have really returned to Earth, posting a much more pedestrian 2.72 GAA and 0.901 SV%.

    The difference in the Habs’ fortunes through the second quarter of the season do correlate quite strongly to the fact that the team’s numerous flaws are no longer being covered up by elite level goaltending.  When the Habs’ goalies are only good (or in the case of the last 20 games, decidedly average), the Habs are in trouble.

    The goalies are not the problem.  But when they aren’t the solution either, the Habs are sunk.  Just like last year.

    And let me be clear…this isn’t intended to slag Price or Auld.  The Habs are struggling because too many offensive players are slumping, Markov and Gorges are injured, Subban and Eller are not where we thought they would be at this point and the team on the whole has been woefully inconsistent.  What we’re seeing now is a not so great team that has had its flaws exposed by no longer being able to count on ridiculously good goaltending.  Just like the Oilers found out the year after their Stanley Cup Finals run or the Flames after their own…great goaltending is nice, but you can’t count on it for a whole season.

  18. habsfan0 says:

    “Six consecutive penalties is an aberration in a league that tends to even up the calls.”

    When the team takes that many penalties in succession, it’s a sign that they are either not talented enough and have to resort to fouls to impede the opposition..or..they are just tired from having played the night before in an emotionally draining game,followed by a delayed flight into Montreal arriving at Dorval at 1am…or..a combination of both.

  19. Habnofear says:

    Your starting to sound like that hockey mom from  Alaska….

  20. king ddd says:

    just watch the highlight. fleury is such a douchebag. at least when  price did the pose he stoned all the penguins in the shootout, what did fleury do last night.  i hope we light him up him up next time we meet them and someone gotta remind him that he costs us the world juniors in 2004.

  21. Chris says:

    The Habs offence is pathetic, and realistically has been pathetic ever since Martin came into town.  The Habs are 4th worst in goals scored per game this season.  They were tied for 5th worst last season.  It’s not going to magically change.  They just don’t have the players to consistently generate offence off of counterattacks. 

    It’s probably meaningless, but check out how the offence and defence have done in the wins and losses this season:

    Wins:  Montreal scores 3.27 goals per game, Price & Auld combine for 1.36 GAA and have stopped 95.2% (!!!) of the shots against.

    Losses:  Montreal scores 1.54 goals per game, Price & Auld combine for 3.44 GAA and have stopped 88.5% of the shots against.

    But while I was initially siding with Bill, I have to agree that too much emphasis is placed on the goalies.  The offence has bailed out the goalies and picked up three times when the goalies had sub-standard games (at least statistically from SV% numbers).  Similarly, the goalies have only lost three times when they played amazing games statistically due to a lack of goal support. 

    When the Habs lose, it is pretty much an all-encompassing group faceplant.  And when they win, every aspect of the team seems in synch.

  22. Habnofear says:

    Very good Mr. Boone.I would love too know your thoughts on fixing this”the comings and goings of players” but realize it could cost you too much heat when trying to report in a locker room.

  23. mbplekfan says:

    A fast team with no goons should generate hooking, holding and interference calls. But why would you hook a forward skating backwards through the neutral zone? Why would you hold a forward that is too small to muscle past you?

    JM’s “system” has the third forward playing high in the O-zone in order to quickly retreat and play defence. There is no need to hook or hold anybody as there isnt anybody doing anything to generate offense.

     

  24. leafs67_andcounting says:

     

    “Six consecutive penalties is an aberration in a league that tends to even up the calls.”

    One would think, but this happens often to the Habs. They are near the bottom, if not last in PP opportunities for vs PP against, I think it’s around -30, which is odd for a fast team with no goons. (Even odder is I believe the Leafs are near the top of this stat). Pouliot was finally playing well, I hope this doesn’t set him back.

    Also, at the start of the 2nd period, before either team came out, Bylsma was at his bench chatting with the ref for a good 90 seconds. There was some hand-gesturing, but it seemed civilized…Habs received the next 6 penalties. If Bylsma sat there with his arms folded and shook his head, would that have the same effect?….just wondering.

    Too much down time at work stat: Habs have given up 9 goals in the last minute of a period this year. They’re 2-7 in those games. Conversely they’ve scored 3, where they’re 3-0 (empty-net goals excluded)

     


     

  25. Mats Naslund says:

    Well said. Agree 100%.

  26. Chris says:

    Detroit and Philadelphia have both managed to build through a combination of good scouting/drafting, astute free agent signings and making trades when necessary to bring in players that fit their system.

    What I like and admire about teams like Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston and San Jose is that those teams have had an identity for many years now and they acquire players that fit that identity.

    The Flyers pick physical players that can skate, as do the Bruins.  Detroit picks two-way players that play smart positional hockey.  San Jose has had a nice mix of skill and size to go with a strong defence corps and goaltending up until this year.

    What is Montreal’s identity?  Two years ago we would have all said that they are a puck-control team that uses its speed to generate offence.  Now we’re seeing them play a Florida Panthers/Phoenix Coyotes style of trying to play tight defensive hockey and rely on 1 or 2 goals off the counterattack to win games.

    Switching team identities so frequently (at least three different team identities in the last decade) is a recipe for disaster, as it makes it very hard to draft, develop and/or acquire players that will fit your identity.  Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn do not fit a tight defensive team, and I think at least some of their struggles this year might stem from that lack of fit.

  27. mbplekfan says:

    Two points:

    1) As per Boone the system is designed to do a certain job but it isnt protecting Price. It is about not exposing an inadequate corps(e) of D-men to odd man rushes. Too old, too small, too slow…A complete rebuild is needed if this team wants to progress.

    2) As per Mathman. You can frame the experiment anyway you want but you cant ignore the results. The habs shots are from far away. There are almost no secondary shots or rebounds cashed in on. If the shots arent going in there must be something wrong with the shots.

    You can make a 22 calibre bullet go a long way but it wont have enough kinetic energy to do enough damage to kill a large animal. You need to move closer and get bigger bullets.

    Firing 50 small bullets at an elephant from 500 metres is going to generate a lot of hits and no kills.

  28. Bill says:

    Boone suggests that The System is designed to protect Carey Price. With all due respect I must argue the converse: Carey Price is designed to protect The System.

    It was Halak’s freakish play down the stretch and in the playoffs that created the myth of The System in the first place. In reality, The System is about playing tentative, defensive hockey that probably worked back in Jacques Martin’s day, but fails pretty miserably without all the interference that used to be allowed. Without a superhero goalie to bail it out, The System is as exposed as Paris Hilton getting out of a limo.

    When Price plays great … the Habs win. When he plays average or less … they lose. Bank on it. That is The System, but it’s not a system to be proud of.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  29. light_n_tasty says:

    Just a stat that I found interesting that I posted last night:

    The Habs are 3-20 (ok, 3-17-3) when the opposition scores more than 2 goals. On the other hand, the Habs are undefeated when the opposition scores 2 goals or less.

    As for the System “protecting” it’s most valuable asset, I would say that it exploits it’s most valuable asset.  Basically, the System is, get perfect goaltending and you win, don’t and you lose.

  30. Timo says:

    That made me LOL.

  31. RGM says:

    It was an inside joke between friends. If you listen to Carey’s post-game interview (on the Habs’ website) he discusses its origins.

    Go Habs Go!

  32. punkster says:

    EXACTLY like liking the Habs! A few good rounds and you can’t wait for the sun to come up so you can get back out there again. Then you shank that first tee shot into the woods, hit your 3rd shot drop into the creek, drop your 5th into the sand, dig 3 wedge shots into the side of the trap before finally getting on the green only to 3 putt your way to a double digit par 4 opening hole…and things just go downhill from there. But there’s always Benny’s :)

    ***Subbang!!!***

  33. punkster says:

    Personally I think the whole pose thing is cute. Like the dipsy-doodle shootout moves and in-your-face rookie stuff it adds a bit of spice to the old game. For that’s what it is…a game. Lots of folks getting uptight over it thinking it’s not the right thing to do, like trowing fuel on the fire in the opposition dressing room. It’s no different than those silly throw-myself-against-the-glass goal scoring celebrations that Ovi loves to do or the Tiger Williams stick ride when he scored for the Leafs. It’s silly, it’s cute…it’s a freakin’ game for heavens sake.

    ***Subbang!!!***

  34. Timo says:

    Thanks… now I will be craving Benny’s for a while. Living in Calgary for about 5 years now I am yet to find a decent falafel place ala Benny’s. And when you say “like” golf… what do you mean by that? Is it like liking the Habs?

  35. Habnofear says:

    CHasman, agree on Price “but if we talk like that on HIO,you will have all the Hockey moms on this site put you in their gun-sights!”

  36. MathMan says:

    People always hold up Pittsburgh and Chicago as examples of team that tank and rock. But they’re really exceptions.

    Pittsburgh lucked into the generation’s best player after a random draw. Chicago surrounded a couple of high picks with an excellent supporting cast, notably the likes of Hossa, Sharp, Campbell, and Keith. Much is being made of Toews and Kane, but the Hawks were a deep team, something that you simply cannot create merely by tank-and-draft.

    The majority of teams that tank actually end up sucking. Atlanta. Columbus. The Islanders. It takes more than just high draft picks to make a good team. And high draft picks are not absolutely necessary to make one; the slow and steady approach also works, it’s just less spectacular so people don’t talk about it.

  37. punkster says:

    We’re not that far apart. Though I’m more in Boone’s court when it comes to the speed and skill thing. They do have it but I don’t believe they have are the league leading scorers to make all the speed and skill matter. Hence the defensive game they must depend on. Kind of boring for us fans but without that top flight scoring talent they don’t have much choice.

    ***Subbang!!!***

  38. punkster says:

    What do you mean for once? We both like golf, Benny’s falafel and Breeze.

    My issue with Bill’s second point is that the Habs winning is not entirely dependant on Price’s play. He can play a lights out game but if his team doesn’t score they’re screwed. And they just don’t score enough. We’re not far apart in that opinion but I don’t put quite as much emphasis on Price’s value to the team as Bill or you may. Not much of a difference likely but it just won’t matter whether Price plays lights out or not, without goal production (even a few FFS) the team won’t go far. I guess the test would be if (HUGE if) this team suddenly started scoring, as in 3 or 4 goals every game, how far would they go?

    ***Subbang!!!***

  39. Bill says:

    You raise good points. To clarify, I didn’t that The System was invented during the playoffs, I meant that the myth that The System is effective exists because of Halak’s second-half play, without which the Habs would have missed the playoffs and none of us would be thinking how great the coaching is.

    I really do think the Habs would have more success playing to their speed and skill, which is still respectable even without Markov. They depend on their goalie way too much.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  40. MathMan says:

    What I am saying is essentially that low goals-for is due to bad luck, not due to any systemic problem or lack of talent. It either fixes itself or it doesn’t (and the odds are it will), but it is not something the team can work on, save in the general sense of playing better overall hockey.

    In other words there’s no evidence that the Habs are a purely defensive-oriented team. They spend too much time in the offensive zone and shoot too much for that.

  41. Chris says:

    Even bumping the Habs up to their 8.4% career average would leave them tied for 23rd in the NHL this year.  The leaders are:

    • Vancouver – 10.7%
    • Colorado – 10.5%
    • Detroit – 10.3%
    • Dallas – 10.2%
    • Philadelphia – 10.2%

    The Habs take a lot of shots, but many of them are from the periphery.  With Markov’s passes missing, the easy one-timers haven’t seemed to be there this season.  With Bergeron’s bomb missing from the point and Subban seemingly unable to avoid hitting shinpads, the easy rebound opportunities aren’t there and there isn’t as much room down low as there was when teams were cheating up to cover Bergeron.  I suspect the PP numbers at least will improve with Wisniewski and his accurate bomb now in town.

  42. MathMan says:

    There’s a whole branch of math, called probability theory, that studies random events and variables. It’s actually a primary component of statistical study.

  43. MathMan says:

    This is true only in the same way that the Habs kept the Caps’ shots to the outside in the playoffs. Which is to say, not at all, but at least it sounds plausible.

    What you’re saying, unconsiciously, that the Habs do not score goals therefore their shots must be of low quality. That’s a classic problem of hockey analysis — coming up with a plausible-sounding explanations that attributes control of a result to the players even if the evidence does not support it. We as humans don’t like to admit that stuff just happens, especially in sports. This is how Montreal’s defense was credited with stifling Washington or Philly’s size was credited with winning them the 2007-2008 series — both of which were, pretty much demonstrably, false.

    Shot quality is generally ignored because it’s been shown to be such a small factor — not because it doesn’t exist, but because the variations between the teams are so small they don’t warrant being taken into account. It is an extremely rare case that a team has consistently low shot
    quality, and there is no evidence that Montreal’s shot quality is
    unusually low.

    Except for the fact that the puck doesn’t go in, there’s no reason to believe that Montreal’s shot quality is significantly lower than anyone else’s
    (and it would practically need to be the worst in the league to fully explain the
    discrepancy). In fact, be it in the shot charts or by scoring chances counters (who by design ignore all outside shots), there is reason to believe it isn’t low.

     

  44. Chris says:

    If we’re shipping out players of the calibre of Cammalleri or Gomez, I would rather see somebody young coming back.  Guys like Iginla, Marleau and Regehr have good name recognition, but they also have a ton of mileage on the odometers.  A guy like Gomez will have some value next season for a contending team that thinks he might be the final piece to a Stanley Cup puzzle.  If that were the case, I would prefer young roster players coming back the other way.

  45. Timo says:

    For once I agree with you Dave. The System dates to the first game JM coached the Habs (sad day in the history of the club indeed). Your last sentence somewhat strengthens Bill’s point – and that is without awesome goaltending we are… to put it gently… loved. The team has no scoring. With close to 30 mil on the top 2 lines we have jack $hit to show for it. Might as well  jsut have 4 fourth lines and be done with it. It’s cheap, it will suit The System and it will deliver probably same, or close to the same production in goals for.

    Martin will never take Habs higher than a team that always fights for the last or last 2 playoff spots. This spring, should we manage to make playoffs, will be no miracle run. Price may play lights out but in the end, you still need to score goals and you have to outmuscle bigger teams like Philly to get by. As much as I like Price, I am not banking on either.

    … with all due respect, of course :)

  46. Chuck says:

    If they showed more of an ability to bury the good chances that they DO create, then I’d be more inclined to give them a little more rope to play with.

    Until that time, however, I’m of the mind that they’re better off focusing on keeping the puck out of their own net. Right now, running and gunning with teams like the Penguins will only guarantee losses.

    Centre Hice: C’mon… vogue

  47. punkster says:

    Bill, I disagree with both your points. First, the System was not a myth created during Halak’s run. It was clearly being discussed, commented on and joked about as far back as the beginning of that season, after JM put his stamp on the team. Second, it wouldn’t mattter how well Price played he would never be able to record a shutout every game because that’s pretty well what he’d have to do to win any game based on the Habs lack of scoring.

    Certainly when Price plays great the Habs have the best chance of winning but it’s not guarantee of victory without some goal scoring from the team.

    ***Subbang!!!***

  48. Chuck says:

    Because he posed right after sealing the victory for his team. If he had posed after one of the previous shootout attempts, prior to getting the victory, THAT would be taunting.

    And we’ve also got Price’s own history to help us determine his motivation. After his first pose against the Lightning, Price said that it was nothing more than a celebration of the victory.

    Centre Hice: C’mon… vogue

  49. Bill says:

    Goes to show you that math will only get you so far, or, if you prefer, statistics lie.

    Their low scoring percentage is not due to “hot goalies”, “winning streaks”, or “bad luck”.  Those might happen occasionally, but not consistently.

    The reason their scoring percentage is low is that their shots are disproportionately not dangerous shots. Most goals in the NHL are scored from a few feet around the net … precisely where fewer of the Canadiens shots come from.

    The typical Habs scoring chance is a long wrister from the sides. The goalie has an excellent chance of stopping those, especially if no-one is in his way … as the Habs seldom are.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  50. Bill says:

    If it’s just luck it’s been going on for quite some time. Obviously it’s possible to flip heads a hundred times in a row, but in reality, it doesn’t happen all that often.

    I think it’s at least just as credible to suppose – based on observation – that there is a problem with shot quality.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  51. VancouverHab says:

    That’s a very a convincing analysis, Mr. Boone: it takes good account of the chronology of events back to the selection of Carey Price.

    And I don’t think it can be said too often that teams who tank and get high draft picks are rewarded — and then the fans of teams that don’t tank (hello-o many H-I/O commentors) moan about how culpably weak their own team is.

  52. Bill says:

    Ugly stats. I still think the team could score an average 0.5 to 0.75 more gpg easily if they tried ANYTHING offensively at all. Just got a TINY bit creative. Imagine if the third and fourth lines occcasionally tried to forecheck or shoot at the net, instead of all running around like Tom Pyatt, skating furiously towards his own end and just pokechecking everybody before going back to the bench for a pat on the head and a biscuit from Jacques?

    No, the Habs do have some talent. It absolutely is being stifled. Look at the other really low scoring teams in the NHL. Look at St. Louis. Even they have scored more goals than the Habs, and that is one weak roster.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  53. CBrady12 says:

    With all due respect how are you in any position to determine that Price’s pose was a celebration and not an attempt to taut the Pens…

  54. CBrady12 says:

    I don’t get it…you say that the “douche” pittsburgh players need to realize its not all about them…well the same could be said about price’s pose…its not all about him…instead of going to congradualte his team…he showed off…I also watched the highlights last night and I heard Fleury say it was just for fun…Letang said it was not a big deal and had no problem with it but it gave them a little extra push and I heard stall say he had no problem with it and that it was not really something they talked about…so I don’t get were you said several players said it was offensive…Lertang said it was offensive once and at the same time said he didnt have a problem with it…bottom line stop whining about everything…If carey can pull that move (and it is a douchy pose) then when pitt beats us Fleury can do the same…its TWO goalies having personality even though you say “thats how little personality goalire are allowed to have” 

  55. Mike Boone says:

    Great analysis, Chris. I think there was addition by subtraction in the cases of Higgins, Grabovski, Komisarek (he should send Markov 10 per cent of his salary, minimum).

    Koivu or Gomez? Tough call there. With nothing to go on but gut feeling, I think Gainey targeted Cammalleri, and he wasn’t going to come here to be centred by Koivu. Nor Gomez, as it turns out, but who knew, at that stage, how good Plekanec would be.

    Gionta or Kovalev? Not even close.

    I think Piere Gauthier is compiling a better boxscore than his predecessor … though the Dominic Moore and Sergei Kostistyn stats give one pause.

    Biggest question for the franchise: What the heck should they do about Andrei Markov? On the way to Jacques Martin’s pres conference last night, I spotted Gauthier in conversation with Don Meehan. Then the agent left the Bell Centre with Markov.

    So they’re talkin’.

  56. B says:

    Any Staal? They could have taken Marc Staal in 05 and they did draft Kim Staal in 96 :)

  57. Chuck says:

    17 regulation losses. 21 goals for. That’s 1.25 goals/game. They’ve only lost one game in regulation where they’ve scored more than two goals (3 against Philly).

    And the goalies are the problem. Right.

    At the moment, the team just doesn’t have the horses to impose their offensive will on anyone. If they score more than 3 in a game, it’s more likely that the the other team had an off night, instead of any magical offensive prowess that the coaching staff has reigned in.

    Play good, sound defense, stay out of the penalty box, and the wins will come.

    Centre Hice: Bruins to unveil new look vs. Habs

  58. light_n_tasty says:

    Weird that you would use Malkin and Ovechkin as examples of players our D can’t handle.  See 2010 playoffs.

    My comment was in response to the suggestion that we have “small” D.  Ok, we have one small defenceman (Weber), who wouldn’t even be playing if Markov or Gorges were healthy.

  59. christophor says:

    except that several players in the pitt locker room said that the pose was offensive. a little more than a joke, i think.

    what i also think is that these pitt douches need to realize that not everything’s about them. this is what the nhl has come to: a goalie colourfully celebrates with his team and the opposition assumes it must be a mocking gesture.

    that’s how little personality goalies (and rookies) are allowed to have. it’s so rare that when it happens, no one understands it and so it’s taken as offensive.

    if i were price and were asked about it, i’d say, “was that in pittsburgh that i did that pose? i didn’t realize, i was just celebrating with my team”

  60. PeterD says:

    Well said Chris…good analysis.

    When I look at the rebuilt team from aummer of ’09  I see some good acquisitions and some htat did not work out quite as hiped for by Bob Gainey..but that’s the nature of the game, not every player achieves everything that is expected or hoped of of them.

    This is why I think standing still through this season would be a mistake of massive proportions…every year all players get older. Some get betteer as they grow into their careers, while others begin to decline as the peak of their careers can be seen in the rear view mirror.  With injuries some players slide farther and faster than what should happen.

    It may just be that Gomez, Gionta, Cammi, Hammer, Spacek, Marlov, Gill are all on the downward slide in their careers…

    This Spring and summer we have the opportunity to again reshape this team by not signing UFA’s and at least one overpriced dead weight RFA…My hope is that before the trade deadline this year Pierre can go out and swing a deal that reduces our overall age, increases our overall size and adds solidly to our goal scoring and defense.

    The problem I see is not one of cap space.  It is one of finding as couple of GM’s or at least one that Pierre has some compromizing photos of them in unflattering positions.  Or at least one GM that is seriously stuck in a simliar or worse position that will not make the playoffs and needs to reduce cap space and rebuild their team.  Calgary may be one place to start looking.  San Jose if they keep underperforming, and even New Jersy even though they are in our conference.

    Right now I would be looking at Cammi, AK46, Spacek and Moen (maybe Gomez to Islanders to help them reach minimum cap levels), to go and hope for something llike a Havlat, Iginla, Regheir, Bieksa, Marleau types coming back.

     

  61. B says:

    Price’s pose was no worse than Malkin trying to skate to the net while repeatedly bouncing the puck up in the air off his stick, but you didn’t see the Habs getting all indignant and using that hot dogging for bulletin board fodder. On the flip side, making a mountain out of a mole hill seemed to work for the Pens last night. It just seems odd that it would take something like that to get the Pens pumped up. I would have thought getting beat in the playoffs last season was a bigger deal / motivation.

  62. Arrow77 says:

    There’s a difference between not being intimidating and being undersized. Hamrlik and Subban are not very scary but they’re big enough to do job. Besides, we did handle Malkin, Crosby and Ovechkin last year with pretty much the same group of d-man so we don’t need more evidence, I think.

    The only issue we have in defense, and it’s a pretty big one, is that we no longer have a defenseman that can take top-pairing minutes. Gorges and Markov were the only ones that fitted the bill and they’re missing!

  63. Chuck says:

    For the resons that you’ve stated, I would not at all be surprised to see Price but out a pose at an opportune time at the All-Star game.

    Centre Hice: Bruins to unveil new look vs. Habs

  64. Chris says:

    You have made a poor assumption.  I did not average out those shooting percentages.  The career shooting percentage I quoted was by taking the sum of every roster player’s career goal totals and divided by the sum of their career shot totals, i.e. the definition of a shooting percentage.  As somebody who has spent many years dealing with high level mathematics, I do know enough not to take an average shooting percentage.  ;)

    Therefore the only extra weighting that you could logically argue is that guys who have been in the league longer obviously skew the numbers.  Since so many of the Habs veterans are defencemen, there certainly might be a justifiable contention you could have made. 

    As for my comment about where the shots come from, it is purely observational.  When I watch the Habs play, they rarely generate traffic in front of the net and seem to rely a lot on passing around a box on the outside, usually looking to set up a point shot or a back-door pass to a winger.  We can cite the numbers, but at some point you have to trust your own instincts.  Yours clearly tell you they are just unlucky this year, while mine tell me that they have not done a good enough job creating their own luck.

    I’m not a big fan of the term “luck” when it comes to professional sports.  It is a bit of a red herring at times.  There is of course fantastic luck associated with hockey:  pucks bounce off sticks or shin pads, pucks occasionally take a bad bounce as players wind up for one-timers, etc.  But, from the statistics side of it, there are many confounding factors that can lower a team’s shooting percentage, and I sincerely doubt that random variablility plays as important a role as so many of the statisticians would have me believe.  If it was so random, then you wouldn’t see so many of the skilled players consistently ranking highly in shooting percentage.

    How many of the shots from each team were taken through traffic?  Unless an analyst watches every game and charts each shot, this can not be included in the statistical model.  An NHL goalie will probably stop 99% of shots from 10+ feet away if they don’t have to deal with any distractions.  That percentage will drop considerably when they have to worry about deflections, distractions or simply not being able to see the puck. 

    What impact do rampant injuries have on a team?  Injuries force coaches to juggle lines, meaning that “chemistry” on the ice is sometimes limited.  Intricate passing plays that often result in high-quality scoring chances are often discarded in such situations as teams try to keep it simple.

    What about the opposition? How far out and from what angle were shots taken (angle is a bigger factor in distance in many of the analyses I’ve seen)?  In that Atlanta game on January 2nd, the Habs badly outshot the Thrashers 50-28.  But of those 50 shots, only 9 were from closer than 10 feet and not a single shot came from closer than 5 feet.  On the other hand, 37 of those 50 shots came from 20+ feet out.  You are not going to score a lot of goals on NHL goalies from that distance without traffic, and we both know that the Habs do not do a good job of getting to the front of the net.

  65. mbplekfan says:

    then name one player other than Hal Gill that is intimidating or physical enough to handle Malkin, Ovechkin, Lucic, Kaleta and others.

    your comment makes no sense and you give no evidence to back it up.

  66. MathMan says:

    “However, when you look at the career numbers of the Habs veterans, a
    different conclusion emerges.  Ignoring the players without a full
    season under their belt (Eller, Desharnais, Subban, Pacioretty, Pyatt)
    and the injured Markov, the combined numbers for the Habs roster yields a
    shooting percentage of only 8.4%. “

    Do you know whether other teams have a superior combined save percentage? 8.4% actually sounds like it would be smack dab average, combining the 12-13% of the typical top-6 forward with the numbers common to grinders and defensemen.

    Did you prorate based on who’s taking the shots? Forwards have better shooting percentage then defensemen, and players with more icetime and more PP time tend to take more shots, and they tend to be guys with better shooting percentages.

    I bet that if you did a per-shot calculation of the career percentages for everyone in the league, you’d come up with very similar number across the board. There just isn’t that much variation between players, especially players that take a lot of shots, they are almost all in that 11-to-14% band.

    Why did Montreal go from average 5-on-5 last year (7.9%) to abysmal (6.5%)? From excellent on the PP (14.1%) to average (11.4%)? Where their shot quality that much better? Or did Dominic Moore and Paul Mara have that much shooting talent?

     

  67. Displaced says:

    Your post started with “Math” and ended with “luck”.  Does not compute. 

    Who’s leg do I have to hump to get a martini around here?

  68. MathMan says:

    They’re not a defensive, 1-2 goals for type of team. They are a puck control speed team, in a way they just haven’t been in the past decade. They’re also better at it than they’ve ever been in the past decade. The problem is, even though they are generating more offense than they’ve had in a long while, the damn puck just won’t go in.

    IOW, they spend too much time taking shots to be a purely defensive club. Even if you buy the fable that they are low-quality shots, you still need to have the puck in the offensive zone to take them, which means time not spent in the defensive zone.

    The goals-for and goals-against stats are giving an impression of the team that’s just not reflected in reality.

  69. CHasman says:

    Firstly I have to say I think we lost a game we could have won.  Those reasons in my opinion were…

    Giveaways!  Does any team give the puck away more than we do?  And not just our defensemen (though they are indeed good at it.)  So many of the turnovers happen because of little back passes.  What is with that?

    Penalties! Too many stupid penalties.  I’m not going to complain about the penalties we got but there was definitely some hooking and clutching and grabbing going on with the Pens that wasn’t called.  If the refs are calling it let’s ref the same for both sides.  Another brutal too many men call.  

    Goaltending!  Com’on, admit it.  Carrey let in some poor ones.  Three by my count, both of the shots on the short side and the rebound he pushed out there with his glove when he took it away from the clearing attempt of our own D-man.  He’s allowed to have sub par games because everyone does but the best penalty killer is the goaltender  and last night he wasn’t.

    That being said, when we were up 2-1, with the right bounces and more discipline we go on to win this one.

  70. TommyB says:

    Just a comment on this “pose” thing…..the only ones who take any real notice, or try to make something out of it, are the fans, and maybe some sports media people whose job is to find something to write about.  It’s no big deal.  I have no doubt that both Price and Fleury will share a laugh over it at the All-Star Game.  It’s nothing more than celebrating a goal, save, or whatever, just as NFL players celebrate touchdowns.  Just something that has found it’s way into hockey. It was bound to happen.

    Look at what has happened with the shootout.  Trick moves, for lack of a better phrase, have started to become the normal thing now.  The NHL has stretched the letter of it’s rules to accomodate this new gimmicky behaviour.  It was discussed briefly on Off The Record last night.  One of the panelists suggested that a goaltender has zero chance of stopping that 360 degree move, while another panelist said that goalies will figure out a way to counter this move over a period of time.  He is probably right.  But right now, I think a goaltender should counter it by Billy Smith-ing the guy soon as he gets near enough, or Ron Hextall the guy.  That might help to even the playing field a bit for the goalie during the shootout.  It would make any shooter think twice next time, at the very least.

  71. TommyB says:

    Yep.  My 65 coupe.  Ground up restoration performed by myself.  Living proof that you can go back to the glory days if done properly.  (pay attention, Habs front office)

     

  72. the Maritimer says:

    Nice. As you know a classic car rebuild requires a complete dismantling of said vehicle. Just sayin’.

  73. TommyB says:

    It’s actually a mixed bag.  You do take it all apart to determine what the process will entail.  Then you keep some parts, you refurbish others, and some you just throw into the can and replace with NOS (new old stock) or new aftermarket pieces ;)

     

  74. Displaced says:

    Like Shakespeare, your last paragraph illuminated a basic human trait, it’s a whole lot easier to live in our glorious past and optimistic future than in our current reality.   

    Sorry, that should have read, “it’s a lot easy to sell our product to fans based on our history and our prospects than to build a great team right now”

    Who’s leggeth do I have to humppeth to get a dry martini around here?

  75. TommyB says:

    Mike, I share your opinion that opening things up would make for some more excitement, but would also make for more losses.  You look at our defence, and you see two things: one, there are three old-timers who cannot log that many minutes and be effective, and two, there are a couple of youngsters who are not quite ready for primetime regardless of their billing as future stars.  What’s missing are the solid guys in between the old guys and the kids.  We have two of those type, but they are both gone for the season.  Maybe we are near having a third (Wiz) of that type, but he is still a degree away.  I love Hammer, Spatch, and Gill.  We owe those guys a ton of thanks for the decent work they have given us the last couple of years.  Their collective experience is an element that is needed, but we have to find some defencemen who can bring that experience along with some legs and lungs with a bit more in the tank. 

    We have talented forwards, who maybe are more suited for run and gun hockey, but the makeup as a whole of this team works against that type of game.  You have to have some big-body forwards flattening a few guys to open up some lanes for the speedy, smaller, forwards to fly through.  We either don’t have them, or the ones who might fit that description refuse to play that way.  Our defencemen, I dealt with above.  We have that working against us.  Our goaltending would be quite capable of backstopping a run and gun offence, provided that offence was scoring goals.  Price would be a much better goaltender than he already is if each and every game did not fall directly in his lap for the outcome.  He is a great goalie, who needs some goal support.  It has to be discouraging for him to look up at the score board period after period, game after game, and find that the outcome will again rest on his shoulders.

    Run and gun hockey, or the flying Frenchmen, whatever you want to call it would be a lot of fun.  It sure was fun when those of us lucky enough to have been around at the time were witness to it.  Who could blame the younger fans for feeling abandoned, or cheated, having only to rely on what the elders tell them about their Montreal Canadiens, and never witnessing it themselves. 

    It is what it is today, with the Montreal Canadiens.  They are a product that seems to be desparately hanging on to their history, while not finding a way to be one of the dominant teams in the NHL today.  I’m sure there is a template that management is trying to follow, but it doesn’t seem to be working.  Throw away that template that they have been using since Patrick Roy came into the picture.  They got lucky and won two Cups playing that kind of hockey, where they relied on the goaltender and scored two, maybe three, goals to win the game.  The league is an offence driven machine now, with high profile young stars, overtime to settle ties, and shootout gimmicks thrown into the mix.  Can’t beat ‘em?  Better join ‘em.

  76. 24 Cups says:

    Great post, Tommy.

  77. Graves says:

    Awesome post. I am one of those younger fans – I started watching the Canadiens in the early 2000s – and you’ve really done a hell of a job summing up how I feel about this team. I can’t help but feel a bit cold when I was raised hearing about the Richards, the Beliveaus, and the Lafleurs, but today see a team that mostly tries to emulate the most numbing of Jersey-era defenses. I know that smart defensive play is integral to every championship-calibre team, but when it’s all defense, all the time, with little to no emphasis on offense, it really starts to wear on me.

  78. the Maritimer says:

    Tommy, you have indeed diagnosed the present day dilemma of the Montreal Canadiens. Mediocrity and parity are the bywords of today’s NHL. Maybe it is the infernally long regular season but I find it hard to “get up” for a game on TV lately, watching more out of habit than anything I suppose. I even took a hiatus for the Christmas road trip to see if that would help (absence makes the heart grow fonder?). History is all they have now and the further away the glory years get the harder it will be for the organization to carry the aura of a “winning” franchise.

    I’ve tried to lower my expectations these days. As constructed this team will either win 2-1 or lose 3-2 depending on Price’s performance or the hockey god’s dictates for bounces on any given night.

    BTW, I’ve often wondered about your avatar. That your ‘Stang? I have an ’04 GT.

  79. CBrady12 says:

    wahhh wahh cry me a river…

  80. CBrady12 says:

    I agree I loved it…I also loved Fleury’s comment after “I thought thats how you celebrate in Montreal” hahah good stuff…

  81. punkster says:

    You respect someone who is negative more than someone who is positive. Do you equate negativity with reality, is that it? So if someone here whines, complains and states that the team will not make the playoffs then in your eyes that person in right because a wrong person will speak well of the team and suggest they will go far in the playoffs?

    ***Subbang!!!***

  82. matraque says:

    Totally disagree about DD he never looked out of place last night… not once.  He also scored a sick goal.  I bet he will have move goals then Eller at the end of the season… no matter how many games he played with the Habs

    ——

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

  83. RockinRey says:

    When Gainey ignored the Guru i am assuming you mean draft a power forward  or Big Centerman. Can’t remember who was available and I am too lazy to look it up but the argument has merit.

    DD will not last in this league . He just wont be able to withstand the punishment and the wear and tear and be able to produce on a consistent basis?

    They have to look at turning the page with AK46, and unloading one of Spacek or Hammer at the deadline. Because if they get into the playoffs they are not going deep like last year. My heart hopes so but realistically they dont have the fire power to beat the likes of Philly and Boston.

    What about the rumblings Malkin or Staal is being shopped around long term? I would certainly like either one in a Habs uniform.

  84. SeriousFan09 says:

    The Habs were supposed to draft Gilbert Brule, who is becoming a rather notable draft bust. Jack Skille is a Blackhawk because of depth issues from the Cup disassembly Devin Setoguchi so far is struggling to be consistent and Brian Lee was placed on waivers not too long ago. There’s arguments for Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal as draft options but the four names after Price aren’t even near his stratosphere of talent.

     

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  85. DearyLeary says:

    Boston?  Really?  The Boston that we’re 3-0 against?

    Who’s rumbling about Malkin or Staal being shopped?  Your dog’s colon?

  86. JF says:

    Wide-open hockey is fun to watch, but I have to agree that the Canadiens can’t play that way and hope to get a lot of wins.  We simply don’t have the firepower.  We have to play a tight defensive game, cash our chances, and hope our goaltender is as good as Auld was in the last game and as Price usually is.  Long before the game got out of hand, I thought we were giving up far too many scoring opportunities, many of them from point-blank range.  Price made some great saves, the score was even, but I was hoping we would tighten up and limit the chances.  Didn’t happen, and the penalties killed us.  Now we have to hope the Sabres beat the Canes tonight and Philly beats Boston.

  87. 24 Cups says:

    Jane – I don’t think there’s any need for a lot of head scratching this morning.  An 82 game schedule is a long time and there’s no way this team can be involved in low scoring games every night.  The bubble burst and we paid the price.  A win against the Rangers on Saturday would make us 4-1 during this past few weeks and I would certainly be happy with that.

    Everyone is all over Spacek this morning but I still feel we need to be concerned about Hal Gill’s deficiencies.  He brings a lot to the team but his slowness is becoming a major liability in certain defensive situations.  Can’t make the turn at the blueline and is constantly beat to the outside.

    You had to feel good when DD scored.  He’s up against all odds but there’s a need for his skills on this team.  The only question is can he take the punishment.  You just know that guys are going to constantly hammer and foul him eevry chance they get.  His response has to be, more weight, please.

    I watched the game on TSN last night and something strange hit me.  I really can’t stand Ray Ferraro when he’s part of a panel discussion.  Yet I thought he did a solid job as the colour man last night.  Insightful comments and a well balanced take on both teams.

  88. RockinRey says:

    WE? What have you contributed to the 3-0 record. Kind of a pet peeve of mine. I’m as big a fan as anybody but dont recall reading DearyLeary on the scoresheet in any of those games!

    Just because they own them in the season doesn’t mean its going to continue. I like Price but he hasn’t proven squat in the playoffs and until he does…..

    Rumblings – they have been mentioned for some time. They can’t keep all three and there are pressures to find more balance in the scoring so some feel it inevitable that one of them goes. Even the TSN guys have been carrying on about Malkin wanting to be  “the guy ” and he seems to excel in Crosby’s absence.

    Dogs colon- remember hearing that on a sitcom- and you’re trying to pass it off as your own? Downloading without credit is plagiarism!

  89. Captain aHab says:

    I’m not going to worry too much about this one…second game in two nights and the guys came back VERY late. It showed as the game went on. And the two penalties on Pouliot were crap. On the first, the guy threw himself on the ice as soon as he felt Pouliot’s stick and on the second (that nullified the goal) if you are going to call Pouliot for the slash, then why not call the Pittsburgh player who retaliated immediately on the slash by slashing himself before Pouliot touched the puck?

    Anyways…not losing sleep on that one and I hope that Benny doesn’t get benched because of this game. The nullified goal was another laser roof-daddy and we need a guy who can produce those.

    Is it just me or is the Habs schedule getting worse and worse every year? How many back to backs do we have compared to previous years?

  90. JF says:

    I think we usually have about this number of back-to-backs.  The §abres have more than us this year.  The real problem for me is the number of road games in March and April, and of course the Christmas road trip. Meanwhile, the Lightning have a 12-game home stand in February.

  91. SeriousFan09 says:

    If we’re going draft revisionism, Getzlaf over AK and Giroux over Fisher.

     

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  92. DearyLeary says:

    Why did we draft Urqhart instead of Bergeron?

     

    These arguments could go on forever… I wish people would shut up about the draft, especially since we have an extremely good record of producing NHL players.

  93. G-Man says:

    Habs have a relatively average record at the draft. People can call it a crap shoot or whatever, but the fans are left watching a lot of middle of the road players with no real star players. Frankly, it’s nice to have a star goalie, but it’s a hell of a lot more fun to watch players that can score. The Habs don’t and haven’t had that since Damphousse left.

  94. 24 Cups says:

    Timmins stated that the Habs would have taken Puoliot if he was available (in the 5th spot).  Brule was ranked as high as #2 by some writers and would have been the next logical choice.  Kopitar was a crap shoot and would never have gone 5th unless the GM was willing to go way out on the ledge.  Staal was a decent prospect, but once again no team was going to use a 5th pick for him.

    The Habs may have fumbled the 2003 draft but they hit a homerun by getting Price in 2005.

  95. DearyLeary says:

    Bold, especially considering DD looked out of place a lot during the game.  Also don’t forget that Desharnais’ goal doesn’t happen if Eller doesn’t work his butt off taking the puck back at the blue line.  

    I think this will be my new mantra when it comes to hockey.  Eventually you have to see production, but to reward production over hard work and good habits is deceptive, and is normally the hallmark of inconsistent teams.  

    Simply put, DD put a nice touch on that shot from PK, but not a whole lot else in the game.  He was muscled off the puck every time he went into the boards, his passes were lackluster, his defensive awareness was setting off alarms.  Frankly, he didn’t even look that fast, I can’t remember one significant race that he won last night.

    So yeah, he scored a goal, and it’s a feel good story, but if you’re placing his entire game above Eller’s you just want to rag on Eller.  

  96. DearyLeary says:

    The turning point was the Benny no-goal.  If the ref doesn’t have his head up his ass that’s a different game.

    They played well, and were victimized on the penalty kill, which was a little puzzling.  We’ve been really good on the PK up until that game, and if I really cared I wouldn’t have deleted it off the pvr to see what the hell happened.  

  97. RGM says:

    I agree – when you look at stickwork that was much more substantial than that play, that went unpunished, you just have to throw up your hands in amazement with the bush league officiating that is becoming the hallmark of the NHL. As I said last night, that “slash” wouldn’t have been called in the Swedish Elite League, but it’s a call (sometimes) in Gary Bettman’s NHL.

    Go Habs Go!

  98. SeriousFan09 says:

    Gill gets caught, but we all know he’s a liability about being beaten to the outside and his problems whenever he is caught trying to handle the puck past the blue line. The issue people (including myself) take with Spacek is we don’t know which Spacek is going to show up on a given night, he’s either good or bad and it’s becoming frustating, will be +2 or -2? We don’t know. We know what Gill is giving us each night and even if he is trouble in some situations, he is what makes the PK tick especially with Gorges out for the season.

    Spacek, it’s just the constant on/off of his performance…

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  99. 24 Cups says:

    Wait until next year!

    Speaking of next year, it might be helpful if Spacek was in the third pairing for his last year with the Habs.  If we had two strong top twos, then the 3rd pairing could have reduced ice time and responsibilities.  Of course this all begins with the notion that both Markov and Gorges will be able to come back and play 80 games at a high level of performance.

  100. RGM says:

    “They don’t have the horses. This just isn’t a team capable of blowing anyone out.”

    Except for that time they smoked Carolina 7-2 and pounded the Devils 5-1. They do have the horses but they’re all on very short leads. I’m sure that La Cage smiles every night that Jacques Martin is coach of this team because free wings nights are in short supply relative to the run & gun days of Carbo.

    Go Habs Go!

  101. Displaced says:

    The NHL schedules games based on the availability of arenas and the marketing needs of teams.  I believe GM’s have to approve their team’s schedule.

    Most southern teams (especially those in Snowbird destinations like Florida and Arizona) ask for more games in general and extra games against Canadian teams between December and March.  The Lightning and Panthers always get long home stretches around this time of year and Canadian teams often play there around Christmas season. 

    As for the Habs, Cirque Du Soleil gets a long stretch of premium dates at the Bell Centre without having to disassemble their special equipment.  The Molsons own the Bell Centre and could schedule around CuS, but choose not to.  PG could veto the schedule if found it especially onerous.  They didn’t. 

    Who’s leg do I have to hump to get a martini around here?

  102. eyhp says:

    Childish behaviour by Fleury, what is this the sixth grade? I can say the same thing about Price last week also.

  103. joeybarrie says:

    I saw Fleury on 24/7 acting up against his teammates as they did the penalty shot drill to see who would grow the stache…. Fleury was clowning it up and having a blast. I really liked his attitude.

    Price did a move to celebrate??? WHAT? NEVER IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS HAVE I HEARD OF CELEBRATING… Just awful, they should all be banned.

    Cmon. The players are having fun, and to be honest NO ONE ON THE ICE CARES… Good for Fleury for making the move. Poking fun. Is this childish behaviour???? Probably. Am I young at heart???? Absolutely. Am I having more fun than most???? The answer to that is yes too…

    By the way, how is it any different than any celebration by a player who scores?

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

  104. RGM says:

    A wise old Jedi once posed the question: who’s more foolish: the fool or the fool who follows him?

    The Price pose was an inside joke between friends, anda little bit of showmanship, sure. But for the Penguins to have that stick in their craw for a whole week is somewhat amusing, particularly when you look at their circumstances being minus Crosby and being on a 3-game losing skid heading into the game.

    Here’s what I say: at the ASG, make sure that Carey & Fleury are on the same team, and after they win, they can strike a tandem pose.

    Go Habs Go!

  105. Graves says:

    Posted this on the main page too, hope no one minds the double.

    A few thoughts about the game…

    -Those six-odd minutes of end-to-end hockey in the second period left me utterly depressed. Why? Because they reminded me of exactly what I don’t get to see every time I tune into a Habs game. Yes, the coaching staff is probably right to stick to a defensive, play-to-our-strengths kind of game, but damn, those six minutes were friggin’ fun! Can’t there be some kind of happy medium? I feel like I’m watching vintage Jersey or Lemaire-era wild Wild most nights, and it’s really getting me down.

    -The Habs are down Markov, Gorges, and now Cammalleri. That hurts, and it showed last night. There’s only so far this team can go before all these injuries catch up to them. Yes, the Penguins were down Crosby, but when you take away a team’s top two defensemen, plus its top winger, you’re bound to be in for some long nights. The Pens don’t really have a top winger worth taking away, but where would they have been last night minus Letang and Goligoski?

    -It’s unbelievable just how many penalties this team takes when you factor in how physically soft they are.

    -I don’t mind Fleury’s pose at the end. In fact, I like it, because it adds some more fuel to an already pretty heated rivalry. Besides, if the guys can’t take it, they certainly shouldn’t be dishing it out.

    -I liked Pouliot last night, despite the minors. And I really liked Darche, which is fast becoming a recurring theme.

    -I try to like Jacques Martin. I really do. But would it kill him to show some – any – emotion? I know I’m beating the desiccated corpse of a dead horse, but I’m dying here. I’m not asking for a Tortorella-esque explosion, but give me something. There was one moment last night when I thought he was about to rip the team a new one for their soft play. Then he yawned, scratched his ear, and went back to looking mildly perturbed.

    Bottom line, last night was a terrible loss in which all the problems and deficiencies we knew this team had stood out all the more glaringly. I still think they’re capable of making the playoffs, even with all the injuries. Moving beyond the first round with no Markov and no Gorges, however, is a tall order.

  106. RetroMikey says:

    You are not a troll, if you feel negative about this team I will respect you more than an optimisitc fan on this site who thinks this team is going to far in the playoffs.

    But there are so many answers to why this franchise is headed into troubled waters as I have said all along.

    I would love to have a Q & A with the big kahuna Pierre Boivin who is still in the limelight and Trevor Timmins and want answers to why this team has not been a Cup Contender since the early 90′s.

    We’ve drafted players who are still in Europe and not tasted North American ice.

    Everybody remember Alexandre Burtulin from Russia?  A high draft pick  many years ago who never came to play in North America and Alexei Emelin who is still playing in the KHL.

    And we have to get bigger on our team in the future, draft hard working North American born players who have grit and character and the days of firewagon hockey are long gone in the new NHL.

    “We will win the Cup one day only with ? in the nets “


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