About last night …

Easter came early.

Cristobal Huet rose from the grave he’d dug himself in the third period and made five saves in OT and two more in the shootout to give the Canadiens their 16th road win of the season.

You have to admire Huet’s sang-froid, a French phrase meaning the mental toughness to shake off boneheaded errors. Now if he’d only display some legerdemain in handling the puck.

 

There was a lot to like in the game.

Canadiens came up with their second consecutive brilliant defensive effort on the road. They held the Thrashers to a paltry 19 shots in regulation time after the Islanders got 18 on Tuesday night.

The telling statistic, cited frequently by the RDS guys last night,  was odd-man rushes. Canadiens had nine, Atlanta had one.

That’s some great team D. And in the process, Canadiens shut down the NHL’s leading goal-scorer, Ilya Kovalchuk. We’ll see if the system works as well at home against Sidney Crosby and friends.

What’s encouraging is the young guys are learning to be two-way players. You expect Tom Kostopoulos (who had four shots on goal last night!) to play a responsible game. The pleasant surprise is the defensive play of Sergei Kostitsyn.

It was nice to see Michael Ryder get one and even nicer to see Saku Koivu clinch the win in the SO. The Captain and Chris Higgins have to regain their scoring touch for nights when the opposition manages to shut down the Tomas Plekanec line.

Which isn’t easy – especially now that Andrei Kostitsyn is hitting his stride. That goal last night will make the week’s Top 10 reel. It highlighted the senior K’s speed, quick hands and a scorer’s touch that can’t be taught – and that Canadiens need.

In his post-game chalk talk on RDS, Gaston Therrien highlighted an Andrei Markov play. Pouncing on an Atlanta turnover just outside the Canadiens’ zone, Markov  snapped off a cross-ice pass to Mathieu Dandenault, parked at the Atlanta blueline. Therrien said it was one example among many of Markov’s excellence in the transition game.  

91 Comments

  1. Chorske says:

    You could look at it the other way: the failure to sign Ryder to a stable contract contributed to his decline as a player. Hockey players, like anyone else, are looking for a certain level of commitment from their organizations. I think that at least three or four of the current crop of young guys are deserving of ‘decent length’ contract extensions.

  2. Chorske says:

    There was none better. I grew up listening to him calling the games. He remains the best play-by-play guy I’ve ever heard.

  3. likehoy says:

    they are bias for french-speaking players because it’s a french channel. It’s easier to conduct interviews too. Also, being a french channel, they would like to reach out to french viewers and give them some idols growing up . Hometown players and stuff like that (for example if you’re a vinny lecavalier fan…you would love to hear what he has to say and any pointers…rather than listening to andrei markov try to speak english). The ratings for RDS are primarily french speaking individuals and second, the contingent of english speaking montrealers who can’t find a game in english.

    I agree that RDS is french bias when they are calling the game, not too many-ill words are spoken of the QUEBECOIS players, (huet gets his fair-share of disses), but I have no problem with the interviewees being french. The bright-point of the interviews are that they never interview second-rate french players like dandeneault brisebois and so on…cause no one really cares what they have to say. Occasionally they get begin, but he’s a fan favorite so he gets away with it.

  4. Chuck says:

    To be expected, considering he literally grew up with his dad in the Canadiens’ dressing room. Working next to Danny hed had some licence to pump the home team a bit, but he was also very even-handed when it came to praise for their opposition. I always thought Dick was a great radio play-by-play guy, too.
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    ______________________________________________
    “A banner for Vezina must hang from the rafters!”

  5. steve17 says:

    I respect your opinion, but that is why I mentioned that team management would have the final say. I agree Lapierre wearing number 10 wouldn’t work so a combination of his favourites works. But I think you would agree, Lecavalier wearing number 4 would not tarnish Beliveau’s memory! I also think that some of the retired players may be touched that a current superstar wanted to wear their number, that it is that special to them!

  6. ebk says:

    Dick and Danny both were great announcers but their love for the Canadiens was evident in their broadcast. Especially Dick Irvin.

  7. JF says:

    I actually think the RDS crew do a good job of being objective. They are always ready to praise a good play by the other team and criticize a bad one by the Habs. They try to be impartial on penalties. Before each game they take quite an objective look at the team the Habs are playing, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, they are biased in favour of francophone players from Quebec. The player interviewed from the visiting team is nearly always a francophone.

  8. Jay in PA says:

    I think you can be a local broadcaster and still call the game neutrally. Dick Irvin and Danny Gallivan did a fine job of it. The guys who broadcast the regional NFL games on American TV do a good job, too.

  9. krob1000 says:

    Yes they are and I ran with the bias thing because that was in my post that you responded to. I guess you have specifics and I am talking more philosophically about only you know what so you probably are right in your example and whatever you are referring to. I don’t think you will ever get complete objectivity but I get what you are saying. I was just saying the Sens need to do whatever they can to try and compete with the Leafs and if they can brainwash several thousand fans like the Leafs have been doing in Ontario for years than they will have to. Even in Ontario whenever I got to a Habs Sens game I would say that there are probably 4 or 5 thousand Han fans at the games. That has to be tough.

  10. MatttheHabsFan says:

    Bias and objectivity are very different things. As for professionalism, they exhibit very little of it. Anyone who listened to their broadcast of the Sens-Habs game last year where Dryden had his number retired knows exactly what I’m refering to.

  11. Jay in PA says:

    As I was writing my post, I was trying to remember specifics about the Florida broadcasters, but I couldn’t. I did have a vague memory that they were pretty bad, though.

    I’ve also tried listening to CJAD online while watching the game, but the lack of synchronization made it too difficult.

  12. krob1000 says:

    Why not??? The reason we get angry at Toronto is that stations such as the sports network and CBC who try to present themselves as objective are clearly not. In a case where the station (I believe i their comercials they even refer to themselves as the home of the Sens)then it does give them some lattitude. They shouldn’t skew the play so the anonymous listener doesn’t know what is going on but of course they are going to be bias and they should be. If you go on the NHL.com site you can get the games broadcast to you from either team and in every case you will get a bias broadcast. IF we were watching Maple Leaf Night in Canada on Saturday’s I would expect it too.

    That being said you are rigth about professionalism and if they are taking it too far than that is another story but any local broadcast will be and should be from the perspective of the home club and that will translate to bias.

  13. sidhu says:

    Yeah, Denis Potvin gets too upset when a call goes against the Panthers.

  14. MatttheHabsFan says:

    Being a local broadcast doesn’t give them license to have no objectivity or professionalism.

  15. HabsProf says:

    The Tampa crew is bad, but my vote for the worst is Tampa’s in-state rival, Florida. Those guys drive me nuts – every penalty against Florida is explained away as a bad call, every penalty for the opposition (Montreal, since I never watch Florida otherwise) is deserved, and in fact many unpenalized plays should have a Montreal penalty. I get to the point that I just turn the sound off.

    I wish CJAD would archive their games so I could download a podcast and listen to them while I watch the TV. So far, no go.

  16. krob1000 says:

    In fairness to the Sens (whom I use for their ticket availability to get my HAbs fix a couple times a year)they are sandwiched right between the two most storied franchises in the games history. Their arch enemy is the media monster of the sport Maple Leafs. I their own territory the Sens are likely outnumbered by Leaf fans and as far as franchises go he they are very young. I give the Sens media a pass on their bias if it is a local station. When it is a program called Hockey Night in Canada that supposedly supports Canadian teams I do get very bothered by the somehwat blind and very prejudice broadcasting crews with regards to the Leafs. I understand they are seeking ratings and the stats say the Leafs are the best draw but that doesn’t require the play by play guys to be that way.

  17. MatttheHabsFan says:

    If you want to hear biased broadcasts look no further then Team 1200 in Ottawa…absolutely brutal.

  18. JB says:

    Agreed – roll the die – we will regret losing Ryder.

  19. Jay in PA says:

    I’ll second the motion about the Atlanta broadcast crew. I’ve griped here at other times about some of the local broadcasters and what terribly biased homers they are. Tampa still wins my Golden Raspberry award as the worst of the lot, followed closely by New Jersey. But the reporters last night were well-informed and calling a very even-handed game. And for a non-hockey hotbed like Atlanta, I think that’s commendable.

    I do miss Dick and Danny, though. We’ll never see the likes of them again.

  20. G-Man says:

    It’s all about passion on RDS. The announcers both love the game; you can hear it in their voices and the way they wear their heart on their sleeves. When they see a particularly good play, it’s sheer rapture for them to recount it. I have switched over to their broadcast over and over again this season mainly because of the piss-poor English coverage done by announcers who know sweet f*** all about the Habs. Way to go, RDS. No other station is 100% Habs. (They’ve actually helped me keep my French up to par.) Salut!

    Gilbert

  21. likehoy says:

    oh..understood…well tampa sucks…but i would hate to see vinny play on a successful team…just cause he’ll prob rip it up even more.

  22. MatttheHabsFan says:

    no i meant ~$32M is their remaining cap space after the Big Three…sorry for the confusion

  23. Ed says:

    Hi krob. I agree with you about Kovalev on the PK. Kevin referred to it on Boone’s blog last night, and I had to agree with him. How’s the below for a lousy link to our brief comments. I will have to figure out how to do this instant link thing. Just to let you know that you are right on about Kovalev. Obviously we did not elaborate very much.

    “Kevin’s picture
    Submitted by Kevin on Thu, 01/17/2008 – 19:24.

    How good is Kovalev this season? He plays on the PK.

    * reply
    * Flag as offensive

    Ed’s picture
    Submitted by Ed on Thu, 01/17/2008 – 19:31.

    And he is good at it”

  24. likehoy says:

    wow only 32 million? i know they’re trying to sell the team, but i woulda thought they’d try to be a little bit more competitive, which would save them from trading one of their big 3.

  25. G-Man says:

    Great players deserve hyperbole, don’t you think?

    Gilbert

  26. MatttheHabsFan says:

    Tampa also won a Stanley Cup with those three as the backbone, and as mentioned, if Tampa’s owners were willing to spend to the cap they’d be in a much different situation. $32M is plenty to fill out a roster as long as you draft and trade well, something Tampa hasn’t done.

  27. G-Man says:

    The Leafs do that kind of thing. It would take a major pair of cajones for a new player to wear any of those numbers they have hanging up in the rafters.

    I was sick to death of watching players like Odjik wearing Dryden’s number. Ray Bourque changed his to 77 when the Bruins retired his jersey (a number he never should have had to begin with). I rather like the idea of “homage” numbers, like what Lapierre wears, which is a combination of 4 and 10. When a great player retires, you never see his like again. Echoes from the past those sweater numbers remain, but numbers like 1,2,4,5,7,9,10,12,16,18,19,and 29 still reverberate in the thoughts and minds of Hab fans everywhere. Let’s not dilute their importance to the game or what each player has achieved.

    New fans can read a lot of super hockey books on the greats of the NHL to give those sweaters some context.

    Gilbert

  28. HabsProf says:

    By the way, since I live in the US, I watched the broadcast out of Atlanta on Centre Ice. The Atlanta commentators were quite gracious in their compliments to the Brothers Kostitsyn. One comment was: “Is it just because there are two of them, or are they really that good? These guys are everywhere, involved in every play. Every time you look up, there is a Kostitsyn doing something.”

    High praise.

    Side note: despite his history, let’s not be too hard on Huet. There was clearly some miscommunication between him and Hammer. Huet expected Roman to be right there, Roman was looking for a hard pass behind the net. By the time Huet realized where Hammer was, he had already passed the puck into the goalie-no-touchy zone. It was more miscommunication then mishandling.

  29. HabsProf says:

    A lengthy discussion below concerns the signing of some of our younger players to long term contracts. Some are reluctant to do so before players have fully paid their dues (e.g. Kostitsyn the Elder, who looks like a blossoming player, has yet to play a full season, let alone string together three or four good seasons).

    While I applaud the idea of caution, and of players proving themselves, there are never any guarantees. Last season, many on this site bemoaned Gainey’s failure to sign Ryder to a long term contract. Here was a player who had proved himself: seasons of 25, 30, and 30 goals. Who would have predicted his decline?

    Like it or not, there is always an element of luck to the process of drafting, and signing, players. There is always a risk. If we can get some of our young gems signed to decent length contracts, it may well be worth the roll of the dice.

  30. likehoy says:

    to answer you question…the laffs are looking rather good considering they are 1 spot ahead of tampa…it’s really no competition and they both examplify poor salary cap judgment.

    hopefully our capologist brisebois pulls the right srings. Gainey being reluctant to deal any of his young talent may prove to be beneficial in the future of the cap.

    mind you the bloated contracts may be a way of avoiding arbitration where they are offered 1 year or 2 year max deals, and risk to be RFA or UFA and slip through our hands.

  31. teamplayer says:

    draft talk: im not sure but im pretty sure this year the draft order will depend on how far you made it in the playoffs. so for example if detroit wins the president trophy but loses in the first round they will get the 23rd pick this year and not the 29th.
    and i finally got to see kosts goal last night, it was #2 on plays of the night on the nhl network, that was an awesome goal i just love how he fights off both atlanta sticks so he could gain full control, i’d say atleast top 5 plays of the week, would have been number one if it werent for nash and his gretzkylike goal

  32. MatttheHabsFan says:

    If we give them long-term contracts I don’t think it will take $15M to sign those three. I think we can expect it to be closer to $12M. As for Tampa, much of their problems has to do with their self-imposed cap. They have $20M a season tied up in those three. If the owners were willing to spend to the cap it wouldn’t be such a big issue. If you want to see a team with major cap issues, look no further then the Leafs. What would you rather have as a GM: $22M tied up in Vinny, Marty and Richards or havin $29M tied up in McCabe, Blake, Kubina, Kaberle, Tucker, Gill, Bell and Raycroft for next season. That leaves about $21M to fill out 15 roster spots! Add in Antropov, Poni and Toskala and you’re up to $37M…

  33. showey47 says:

    no doubt , nash’s goal was absolutly sick. He is an aboslute beast, if he could ever learn to fight he could be the one of the greatest powerforwards since cam neely.

  34. RiverviewCanadien says:

    krob

    I agree, Sergei is good and will only improve. I just hope none of these players (kovy, pleks, kostitsyn x 2) are going to be traded this year, I think I am overall happy with the entire team (don’t fix what’s not broken), but all the talk lately and having an Assistant GM going to Calgary is a sign that something is in the works, just hope it is the best for this club (but don’t get rid of my favs…please Gainey). So much young talent that is shining in Montreal as of late, I get so excited to watch them play, even when they lose (except for the Rangers game, oh well) have been good games to watch. Playoffs are going to be very very exciting this year for Habs fans.

  35. ebk says:

    It was a good night for the Habs. The faced some adversity and did what good teams are supposed to, they overcame it.

    Huet had a solid game and one horrific gaffe, it is nitpicking to try and lay the blame even a little on Hamrlik. It was Huet’s fault period. He bounced back like any elite player should, he slammed the door shut the rest of the way and was a large part of the reason his team won. I’d love to see him stay after the season but the financial resources will not be there to do it. To many other players are RFA or simply need their contracts redone before they are lost.

    One of those RFA that needs to be taken care of ASAP, is K1. He scored quite likely the nicest goal a hab has scored in years. He is the Habs best player under the age of 25, and some nights he is giving Kovalev a run for best player on the team. He is the most complete young player on the team, blazing fast, cannon for a shot, ability to beat his man one on one, strong as a bull , and sees the ice and passes the puck very well. He needs to be locked into a contract soon before he heads back to Russia.

    The 4th line played about 8 minutes last night and that is the perfect amount for them. Anymore than that and they become liabilities. Also I’d much rather their minutes go to one of the other three lines. The team is simply much better when it does.

    Can anyone help me understand why Madd Max has been moved back to the fourth line. He has played very well since his call up and is so much better than Smolisnki. Hard to understand that Carbo can not see this as well. Lapierre earned the spot on the 3rd line. Smolinski has one goal at even strength this year and has proven he belongs on the 4th line. The goal he scored at even strength was an empty netter to boot.

    The team improved it’s record to 12-2-3 without Brisebois last night.

    Thanks for reading

  36. steve17 says:

    This comment is unrelated to any games or previous comments, it is just my opinion and suggestion that I wish teams and the NHL would look at.

    I do not like the ” retirement ” of jerseys! I wish they would be hung in honour, but not retired. To me it would be amazing if I made it to the NHL and could wear the same number as my favourite player growing up! Just think if Jean Beliveau were Vincent Lecavalier’s favourite player and he were able to wear number 4 if he played in Montreal!! A case in point is Montreal’s retiring of number 12 in honour of 2 players, Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer. Does this disrespect or belittle the contribution of either? Teams could reserve the right to determine who would wear each number as I am sure they do now.

    I do not believe that this would diminish the honour or memeory of the players who wore those numbers before. I am tired of seeing players wearing football numbers. It could also be used to an advantage. For example; If Carey Price turns out to be the star we hope, as good or better than Patrick Roy, and wore number 1. The commentator could say, ” another great number 1, conjuring up memories of Jacques Plante who made it famous backstopping the Habs to 5 straight cups!”. This would add history and enlighten new fans, can that hurt!

    Thank for listening!

  37. teamplayer says:

    yeh the tender wasnt happy about it, gave him a couple shots while he was laying there

  38. likehoy says:

    we have to allocate home-town discounts while we still can. Joe Thornton and Jarome Iginla are making between 7.5-8.5 million because they were signed to extensions before the inflation (maybe regrettably). I wish players would have more of a “team player” feel and are willing to shave off 500-750k (or maybe a million or 2 ><) a season to allow us to sign more players to long term contracts.

    what DOES worry me is the tampa bay situation. We’ve been constantly mentioning higgins, komi, plekanec should be tied in for long term (and quite possibly big contracts)…considering hammer and markov are here for 11 million each a season for 3 more years…and then say the trio aforementioned are locked down for around 15 million…that’s half the salary cap in 5 players for long term with 18 players left to contract at an average of 1.33 million each . It’s not as bad as tampa with 3 players at half their cap, but it will make it difficult to make any deadline moves or even to fill out in depth. Which emphasizes the dire need to draft well every year so we can have those cheap 500-650k a year players that perform way more than their contract suggests they should.

  39. 24 Cups says:

    I know what you’re saying kRob but it just strikes me that guys should have to pay their dues a bit before they cash in their winning ticket. Sometimes the NHL world spins a little too fast for me. It’s not easy being an old-fashioned, traditional guy in these modern times.

    By the way, when we win Cup #25 I’m going to take the train down to Montreal (just like the Habs and Leafs used to do) and we (as in the collective we) are all going to tie one on big time. Dave Stubbs and Gazette will pick up the tab! I hope you like rusty nails because we won’t be drinking beer!

    The Original 24 Cups

  40. MatttheHabsFan says:

    I agree with you Ian about the system being unfair. I think 24Cups idea that he posted below makes a lot of sense. That being said, it would be brutal to see your team miss the playoffs as the 9th seed, with someone ahead of you having fewer points.

  41. likehoy says:

    did anyone else see that play where kostopoulos lunged into the goalie during a scramble? he wanted to prove himself so badly that he lunged…i love it.

  42. MatttheHabsFan says:

    Based on the contracts being handed out these days, I think we have a pretty good idea of what it’s going to take to sign Higgins. If we can get Higgins signed to a contract similar to what the Kings gave to Dustin Brown that would be ideal. In fact, if Montreal gave that contract to Pleks, Komi and Higgins I would be happy. It does make me a little nervous having so many highly touted youngsters coming up to RFA status. If Lowe was prepared to give Penner 4.25M per for 5 years, imagine what he or some other GM might be prepared to throw at some of our guys.

  43. likehoy says:

    chicago likes what they see, but keep in mind patrick sharp is considered a penalty killing specialist. If he can average 25-30 goals a season, he could be making his money’s worth. (considering everyone is overpaid anyways).

  44. Mr.Hazard says:

    AK46’s goal was inspiring. Then I saw Rich Nash’s…

    Ex nihilo nihil fit

  45. krob1000 says:

    Sharp is on pace for 39 goals and he scored 20 goals last year. He is also a shorthanded machine and is leading the league in shorthanded goals. I don’t think Komi will get that kind of money but Pleks might. Higgins will probably get around there too but I am hoping around 3.5-4 year over three or four years would be enough. Right now that Sharp thing seems high but it will probably end up a bargain in the end. Kane, Toews and Sharp are going to be dominant in the west. That team scares me with their potential.

  46. 24 Cups says:

    kRob – Maybe he can talk to Lats about his play too. That kid has got to get the lead out.

    The Original 24 Cups

  47. 24 Cups says:

    Yeats – Sorry man, I was referring to his sweater number (51) and your estimated age! Loved your reply. Personally, I enjoy the balance of chatting about the present Habs as well as those from the past. The passing of the torch so to speak.

    The Original 24 Cups

  48. 24 Cups says:

    Mike Boone touched on this last night but I think it bears revisiting. Patrick Sharp signed a four year, $3.9 mil a year contract with Chicago yesterday. Now he’s having a great year and has obviously started to blossom into a good player. But this is his first year where he has really started to shine. Has the NHL gone mad with their recent signings of RFA and UFA’s? I only mention this because in my book Sharp isn’t on a par with Pleks and Komi and we have to resign those guys next year. Not to mention Higgins. Better save your money Bob.

    The Original 24 Cups

  49. krob1000 says:

    I think the money somehow may have some substance …sort of. My guess is geography. The divisions are all geographically spread out for travel purposes. To have teams from these regions potentially survive longer would in essence help ensure that all regions are represented to maintain interest and increase or at least sustain exposure. The money????I would say so.

  50. krob1000 says:

    Sergei needs a pep talk from Kovalev telling him to shoot more. He actually reminds me of a more physical Plekanec early last year. You can see his vision is special but he is often thinking pass first. He needs to take a page out of Pleks book and starting shooting more. He makes some incredible passes but he needs to know that everyone is not going to be as smart as him and sometimes he should just shoot and guys sill go to the net. Those two are going to be incredible and the rounded game that they are starting to show by husting on defence and hitting is completely unexpected to me and I am in awe of their rapid rise.

    Noone else mentioned this either so I think I better say it again as he deserves it. Kovalev did not dazzle last night with his moves but he sure as hell sparkled on the penalty kill. He anticipates so well and he is probably the best skater in the entire league when it comes to makeing small tight turns that are effective when out covering a point man and taking away his lanes to pass. Our penalty kill is instantly beter by giving Pleks and Kovy more time.

  51. krob1000 says:

    Sergei needs a pep talk from Kovalev telling him to shoot more. He actually reminds me of a more physical Plekanec early last year. You can see his vision is special but he is often thinking pass first. He needs to take a page out of Pleks book and starting shooting more. He makes some incredible passes but he needs to know that everyone is not going to be as smart as him and sometimes he should just shoot and guys sill go to the net. Those two are going to be incredible and the rounded game that they are starting to show by husting on defence and hitting is completely unexpected to me and I am in awe of their rapid rise.

    Noone else mentioned this either so I think I better say it again as he deserves it. Kovalev did not dazzle last night with his moves but he sure as hell sparkled on the penalty kill. He anticipates so well and he is probably the best skater in the entire league when it comes to makeing small tight turns that are effective when out covering a point man and taking away his lanes to pass. Our penalty kill is instantly beter by giving Pleks and Kovy more time.

  52. Ian G Cobb says:

    About the seeding of teams, you guys are all on the right page. I think the set up is the most unfair and compleatly foolish way of picking dance partners for the playoffs. Its got to be all about the money somehow, why else would they do it ??

  53. P St. Pierre says:

    The Kostitsyns play different games but are both extremely effective. Andrei really brings that dynamic offensive presence, while Sergei is very dependable with the puck and seems to know how to dish it. Given time, I think that Sergei will begin to produce much more offensively than he is right now, but he’s still an effective player without the offensive numbers. And both seem to like throwing those big hits. Hopefully these guys are on the top two lines for years to come. Love it.

  54. mjames says:

    I thought this was a very good game with many positives:

    (i) I have been a critic of Carbo on a great many of occasions over that past two years. Well I do not know who is getting this team up to play but whoever it is deserves congratulations. I am assuming it is Carbo. He deserves a great deal of credit for this team’s performance.
    (ii) The fore-checking and backchecking were superb. I thought the team played as a five man unit with no separation between the defense and forwards.
    (iii) Huet’s third period brain cramp may have been a blessing in disguise. The way Huet played after that blunder was stellar and could serve as a real confidence builder not only for Huet but the team as whole. I also like the way Huet stood up more as opposed to flopping on the ground to make every stop. Maybe Carey should try it.
    (iv) The two Kostitsyn’s are really coming around. I get nervous when I hear all these trade rumors. I really would not want Gainey to make a trade for a superstar or worse a rental and give up any of these young players. If you notice, those teams with a selection of good solid players are leading the league why those with the individual superstars are not performing as well. Take a look at the Wings they have a solid players with everyone contributing in their own way. The Habs are similar in that respect. I hope Gainey continues this strategy. To reiterate we should not decimate our team to get a Lecalvier, Ovechkin, Kovolychuk, Houssa, Briere, Tanguay, Marleau,etc.
    (v) Congratulations to the third and fourth lines. They played lights last night. Lapierre was superb. Tenders will soon start scoring. He is getting his chances which is good. All in all a good solid effort last night.

    Let’s see how Carbo preps his team for Pittsburgh. I think Huet should start.
    mjames

  55. nightmare_49 says:

    I found Danny was gracious to both teams and Dick really bias towards the Habs and way overboard when it came to Lafleur , in all honesty.

  56. Yeats says:

    Aside from the fact that we were both born in New York City, he was born one month into my freshman year in high school. As you get older, it gets sort of weird that the guys you end up rooting for are significantly younger than you. Watching that Red Army game, I realized several things this evening. First, we older fans are probably way too tough on Koivu, myself included. We’re all expecting him to be the second coming of Yvon Cournoyer. And sadly, guys like that only come around once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky enough to see them. Second, I now understand why I loved Pete Mahovlich when I was a kid. He was the second star in a game where the Habs clearly outplayed the Red Army and he was apologizing to Canada on HNIC in the post-game interview for their failure to win. Third, Dryden knew he let the boys down in that game and he was one pissed customer when the horn sounded at the end of the third. Finally, watching Dryden’s mannerisms in the crease, he reminded me of Cary Price. Man, I can hope can’t I? And, Cary will never have to face the old U.S.S.R. or Red Army squads. It could all be good!

  57. 24 Cups says:

    Yeats – I just did the math. There is a good chance that you and Bouillon share something in common!

    The Original 24 Cups

  58. Yeats says:

    I’m watching a DVD of the original broadcast of the the 1975 New Year’s Eve game against the Central Red Army as I write this. I needed a fix badly. You guys are absulutely right. There were none better than Danny and Dick. Things, and certainly the Habs, were much better when I was in high school. The powder blue HNIC blazers look just like the color of the tuxes were wore in our graduation pictures in ’79. Hair down to my shoulders, ruffled shirt and big bow tie. Damn, I hope someone destroyed those negatives.

  59. 24 Cups says:

    What kind of shot did Cournoyer take? And what kind of move did Savard make? Those were always two of my favourite descriptive words.

    The Original 24 Cups

  60. Moey says:

    Agree 100%, and that was in the good ole days when we used to get the Habs on HNIC every Saturday night.

  61. Ed says:

    Good morning Mike. I hear that you were right on in your prediction of the score last night. Congratulations! Yes, 19 and 18 shots against in regulation in two consecutive games. I bet that never happened last year. It must be that Carbonneau’s system is finally clicking in.

    The Habs are on a good roll, and let’s hope it continues at home against Pittsburgh. It is great to see the young talent on this team, and to imagine how they are going to continue to develop.

  62. Guy21 says:

    Huet was lucky that Kovalchuck didn’t shoot first & Hossa tried to be fancy-if he had shot like last time,it would have been over…I really am confused about Huet and why he tries to handle the puck-ever !!!! The Pleks line is really awesome,not only is Pleks an incredible skater and shooter,his passes are tape to tape…
    Please tell me what Latendresse is doing in the NHL????He should be called Gui Useless…..

    GO HABS GO

  63. JF says:

    Huet’s puck-handling is horrible, but on the other hand, he seems to be learning not to flop all over the ice, which means there is less net to shoot at, and he has a better chance in shoot-outs. This is encouraging, means he’s working at the problems in his game; maybe he’ll improve that one as well, or if not, learn to stay in his net.

  64. Blitzen says:

    1)What a goal by AKoz.

    2)Smokes is finally looking ready to show up. Bout time.

    3)Huet wasn’t lucky in the shootout, he just didn’t go to his knees at the first twitch from Kozlov and Hossa. Kozlov missed the net, which will happen when you try to pick corners time after time. Huet stopped Hossa’s deek because he positioned himself well on the play instead of flopping on the ice after the deek. That being said, that was one helluva boneheaded play he made in the third.

    4)Habs were strong on the puck and I like how the D-Men intelligently jump into the play now to create chances.

    5) Folks we just beat a team that beat Detroit IN Detroit. We can’t be half bad. Kovalchuk must hate playing the Habs.

  65. MatttheHabsFan says:

    Excellent points Blitzen. I just have a few notes to add. As per comment #2, Smo did play allrite, but I really don’t see what he brings to the table that the fellow in your picture doesn’t (other then more then twice the salary). As per comment #5, you’re right we aren’t half bad. Who here would have been upset at the start of the year if someone had said that at this point in the season we would have the second most points in the East, and have basically the same GA as the Sens.

  66. 24 Cups says:

    Huet. He prematurely ages all of us with his mishandling of the puck (again) and then saves our bacon in overtime and the shootout. I mean when it’s all said and done, his goaltending was a huge reason why we came away with two points last night. But how many times can we roll the dice before our luck runs out?

    I guess that every player has their own personal Achilles heal in terms of their skills and game to game performances. Huet is fortunate in that the immediate solution to his problem is quite simple – let the other players on your team handle the puck. The only thing that worries me is that the other teams will quickly catch on to this which in turn will put added pressure on our defensemen. The oppostion will in essence know what we are going to do before we do it. That’s obviously not dealing from a position of strength but neither is giving up a goal every other game due to an unexpected, clumsy play. I’m a Huet supporter but this is becoming a concern. Not only do these mishaps sometimes allow a goal but they also tend to totally change the momentum of the game. It quickly moves us from an offensive mode into a defensive mode. Any thoughts or solutions concerning this dilemma?

    The Original 24 Cups

  67. coutNY says:

    I think your comment of his stick handling problems are brought upon him by his competition of his back-ups. He may bring this upon himself with seeinng Halak and Price (early on) demonstrating these qualities to the ice. I think Huet observed and wanted to improve on this difficiency in his game. I am sure he has been trying to work on it, but practicing it, differs from game-time situations… being a louder, more pressured, and harder to communicate atmosphere.

    Just as an offensive play struggles to score, Huet is struggling to find comfort clearing the puck in when the forecheck is coming down on him. He needs to apply the KISS strategy (Keep It Simple Stupid)to not over think his plays. Short passes to his defenseman because stick handling is not his fortee. He played his best hockey, I had seen in a long time after that mistake. He is one of the best when he stays on his feet not frailing around like a fish out of water.

  68. coutNY says:

    Just to comment on the Previous thread… What’s new? 3-2 … in a shootout
    Difference is we won!
    Hats off to Huet for his great play in OT, after a disappointing gaffe late in the game. He could have lost his composure going into OT, but he turned things around to look like an Allstar for that point on.

  69. showey47 says:

    here is some interesting reading about kovalchuk and how close he was to being a hab.
    http://wwwrealitycheckeyesontheprize.blogspot.com/2008/01/kovalchuk-was-almost-canadien.html

  70. 24 Cups says:

    Showey47 – Interesting read. Your article begs the question – would the Habs, right this minute, trade Markov and Komiserak straight up for Kovalchuk? And of course, Garon went on to be part of the Huet trade with LA. It’s a fine line between chaos and creation!

    The Original 24 Cups

  71. likehoy says:

    very interesting indeed…

    Markov and Komi proved that Kovalchuk is would have not worked out last night by shutting him down ;).

    but i wouldn’t mind making a move with him now considering our depth.

  72. J.T. says:

    Our team is really good! They’re not perfect, but I think a big mistake many Habs fans make is watching the only the Habs. I’ve been watching a lot of other teams play each other lately, and the Habs are as good as any and better than most.

    I think consistent goaltending from Huet, which looks like it’s kicking in now…horrible puckhandling gaffe aside, secondary scoring outside the Plekanec line and an honest effort every night is all this team needs to coast into the playoffs very comfortably.

    I notice Pat Hickey is mentioning Carbo’s name as a potential Adams candidate. I don’t know if he’ll get a nomination, but I have to say I’m very, very impressed with how the team and coaching staff have systematically addressed problem areas. When they lost Souray on the PP, they changed the PP to focus more on creativity than raw power. Faceoffs were a problem, but they’ve obviously been working on them and have gotten better. Same with the PK. It’s not nearly as guaranteed to give up a goal as it was earlier this year. There are still some no-show games like the Rangers last weekend, but taking a period off every game like they did last year has been pretty much eliminated. And Carbonneau has corrected his behaviour in not ragging the refs after every single call, and I saw him bite his tongue after Huet’s aforementioned horrendous gaffe in the corner. Last year he would have made a big show of being furious. I think he and his staff are doing well.

    Now…if we can just keep Huet in his damn net and a few other guys putting pucks into the other team’s net, we’re cruising. I don’t know why, but I have a feeling they’re going to beat Jersey this month…and I think it’ll be a turning point in the team’s outlook and confidence in itself.

  73. Exit716 says:

    “Carbonneau and Muller if they could put on their skates would be some of Montreal’s better players.”
    Glenn “Bag Pipes” Healy, paraphrased on TSN’s 2007-08 Preview show.
    It’s definitely encouraging these days, but I’ll feel a lot better when we go through that tough stretch in February and are still holding our own.
    Next month will be the true test of how much they’ve improved.

  74. JF says:

    J.T., good post as usual. I really like your assessment of the job the coaching staff has done. They often don’t get much credit on this site, but I agree with you that they have addressed well the problems the team has and started to find solutions. And I applaud Carbonneau for his calmness behind the bench, which must have a good effect on the players. He’s also less critical of his players than last year.

    I hope your feeling about Jersey is right because I agree that beating them would boost the team’s confidence enormously. Also they have 3 games against Jersey and 5 against Ottawa (who, however, might be less of a problem because of their injuries). But I always feel as though the Jersey games are black holes which swallow the team up. Hope I’m wrong!

  75. likehoy says:

    ya right…carbo for jack adams?? his ego is big enough. I rather him lose and try again next year than to win and become complacent.

  76. showey47 says:

    agreed, i think we have 4 back to back games in a shortened month. This will be the ultimate test to see if the habs are for real or not. We are also gonna need the koivu line to step up and produce some offence. I also wonder if halak is gonna get some games or will the habs bring price back up because he has been getting alot of icetime in hamilton? As for glenn healy’s comments, well it is glenn healy and in his mind the laffs are still the best team in the league so enough said.

  77. Exit716 says:

    Not to get ahead of ourselves just yet, but this team is playing much better than the experts 13th place prediction.

  78. krob1000 says:

    There are only a handful of these so called experts whose opnions are worth anything. Mckenzie, Dreger (so-so), Mcguire, Dave Reid, Dave Hodge,etc and most of these guys adjusted their predictions rather quickly but anyone who is actually part of the Leaf propaganda machine is still not convinced (publicly anyway) because they have become “Experts” only at being losers and their tunnel vision impedes their ability to see outside of the Maple Leafs tainted world view.

  79. krob1000 says:

    Yes his puckhandling needs some work (away from game situations so for now just leave it alone Cristo). I read the otehr posts from last night saying how Brunet and Demers explained it was actually Hamrlik’s fault but I wonder if Huet just isn’t vocal enough back there (I don’t know this …just a thought) But…how about the performance he put on after that miscue?? I haven’t seen him back a full extension glove save in a long time let alone on Kovalchuk alone in the slot. He made many more huge saves and looked like he may be back to the calm Huet we have come to expect in years past. He had been hanging his head after mistakes lately and after botht the first goal that went off him and the puckhandling gaffe he bounced back strong……he needed that.

  80. krob1000 says:

    PS I just thought I would reply to my own post for good ol EBK (lol).

  81. ebk says:

    thank you, you made my day.

  82. 24 Cups says:

    Atlanta right now is tied in points with Boston and the Rangers for 7th and 8th place in the eastern conference yet are seeded third because they lead their division. I can live with the fact that all three division leaders make the playoffs but once the post season starts all the teams should be seeded by points to determine the first round matchups. Something to think about for the future.

    The Original 24 Cups

  83. krob1000 says:

    I agree 101%.

    I wonder how people would be to the suggestion of a 1-16 seeding in the future. I don’t know how I would feel about it either but it would be interesting to see inter conference matchups in earlier rounds. The regular season schedule would have to include more interconference games I guess for it to have any validity but I am curious what others think.

  84. J.T. says:

    This has long been one of my pet peeves. There are two pitfalls with the current ranking system…first, in a very strong division where all five teams would otherwise qualify for the playoffs, one could be bumped by the winner of a weak division. Take the Atlantic division this year for example…conceivably, all five teams could have enough points to make the playoffs, but the winner of the southeast, even with fewer points, would bump one of those teams out.

    The other pitfall is, as you mention, playoff seeding. Once the post season starts, I agree it should be a 1-8 ranking by points. It would be completely unjust if the Habs finish with the second or third-highest point total in the east, but are ranked fourth behind the weaker division leaders and have to play a nominally tougher fifth-ranked opponent instead of the sixth or seventh seed. Then, in the rounds after the first, they could lose home ice advantage to a team with fewer regular-season points, just because that team won its weak division. It’s not good enough.

  85. Ian G Cobb says:

    One thing Mike, on our odd man rushes we do not seem to be comfortable enough yet to make two or three way passing plays often enough. The player with the puck crossing there blue line is generaly the shooter. Advantage, goal tender.

    And if the shot happens to miss on the wide side, we have a heck of a time catching up to the play.

    But just the fact that we are getting odd man rushes tells us how much better we are playing in our end. Need to win a few more face offs in there though.

    IAN

  86. mjames says:

    Spot on, on the impact of the wide shot. However I have noticed more and more passing after they cross the blueline, at least in the last few games.

    Question: what is your assessment of Price and his propensity to drop into the butterfly in preparation for every shot? Is that how he played in Hamilton last year? I liked how Huet played last night (sans the third period gaffe).Just curious.

    mjames

  87. krob1000 says:

    One thing I have noticed with our odd man rushes too is that we are allowing defenders to play the middle and not having one guy either slow up or speed up to make it more difficult to defend. It seems noone knows which three on two they are going to (the center driving and offside winger coming across into slot or off winger driving and center dropping back to make the puck side an effective two on one if the defender takes the crashing winger. I think this may be a function of the ine juggling to some extent as guys don’t seem to know each other in these situations.

    I know my high school coach used to break us up from our lines and make forwards and defensan alike run three on two drills from each position. Odd man breaks are the result of some form of breakdown so it usually ends up in a scrambled form and may have a dman involved and/or a winger on his offside or center on the wing,etc. I am sure that an NHL team likely does this type of stuff at some point but I thought I would mention it for anyone out there who coaches because it is one thing to know what you do if you are in poistion but it is equally important to know what to do in each position and scenario for whatever situation evolves.

  88. Ian G Cobb says:

    Goal tending is all about confidence, I think Price should be sent back to his Junior team right away and start over again. No goaler should ever play in the NHL untill he has at least three years as a pro in the minors first. You can destroy a player if you bring him up to quickly. Goaltenders need five times the seasoning as a skater!!!

  89. Ian G Cobb says:

    His butterfly style is great, its all about the confidence !

  90. JF says:

    Price’s confidence already seems way down; sending him back to his junior team would deal it a further blow. Things are tough for him right now, but this is the first real adversity he has hit, and I’m sure the coaching staff in Hamilton are helping him learn to handle it. Once he does, he will be a better goaltender. The experience of adversity will also help him mature a bit; he’s still just a kid. In turn, maturity will make him a stronger goaltender. But I think it will take patience and time.

  91. showey47 says:

    agreed, considering most of the western conference teams spend alot more than 2 or 3 hours on the plane.


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