About last night …

Your Montreal Canadiens are not going to win many hockey games when their most effective line is a rookie centre and two pluggers.

Lars Eller was the best forward in a red jersey last night.

That was gratifying to those of us who see a lot of potential in the tall, talented kid obtained in the trade that sent Jaro Halak to St. Louis.

Eller used his size and speed effectively. He drove the net when opportunities presented themselves. He made deft passes.

There was an air of excitement in the Bell Centre when Eller, Travis Moen and Tom Pyatt were on the ice.

Unfortunately, an air of frustration accompanied shifts by Tomas Plekanec’s line.

And we won’t even discuss the air engulfing Scott Gomez. I’ll leave that to friend Arpon Basu, who points out the Gomez lethargy – six points in 19 games – is allowing opposing teams to focus on Plekanec, which makes the going very tough for the Canadiens’ best forward.

The Tampa Bay Lightning took 33 shots last night. Eight went in.

The Canadiens: 30 … and a big, fat goose egg.

Pleks had one shot on goal last night. His speed was effectively neutralized by a Nashville defensive scheme that turned the neutral zone into a traffic jam.

The Predators took away the Canadiens’ time and space, forcing them to make decisions before attractive options presented themselves … which they seldom did because nobody was moving their feet.

Case in point: the winning goal.

Roman Hamrlik had the puck to Carey Price’s right. With two Predators closing on him, Hamrlik panicked and threw the puck into the slot, where more white jerseys were prowling.

Nashville had possession in the Canadiens’ zone and worked the puck until old friend Frankie the Bull found Marcel Goc on the lip of Carey Price’s crease, where Pleks hadn’t bothered to pursue him.

Another case in point: the sequence that led to Goc’s second goal began with Brian Gionta making a neutral-zone pass into Andrei Kostitsyn’s skates.


Nashville rush.

Game over.

Credit Nashville with a solid game plan and the discipline to follow it. They skated and battled ferociously for every loose puck. Their big  defencemen – Shea Weber! What a stud!! – kept Canadiens forwards out of Pekka Rinne’s face.

The Finnish goaltender extended his shutout streak against the Canadiens to 138:55 and Rinne was the game’s first star. But he wasn’t severely tested.

Every scoring attempt was either long-range or from a bad angle. Alexandre Picard and Maxim Lapierre were the leading shooters with five. P.K. Subban and Jaro Spacek each had three SoG.

When 16 of your 30 shots are coming from those guys, it’s a long night at the Bell.

And boring. Homer that I am, I was disappointed by the Canadiens failure to get into any kind of rhythm and flow. But it wasn’t like Nashville was running a Red Wings-type artistic hockey clinic, either.

The Predators just work hard and oblige their opponents to match their intensity level.

The Canadiens didn’t, with predictable results.

Toronto shouldn’t present  as much of a technical challenge, but the Leafs will be riding a two-game winning streak into the Bell Centre tomorrow night.

The Canadiens best will have to be better than they were against Nashville.

•  •  •

A member of the Commentariat pointed out the Canadiens have scored a grand total of eight goals in their six losses this season.

They’ve been on the short end of 3-0 scores three times – twice on home ice.

The Canadiens are 20th in the league in per-game goal average at 2.58 (the massacre of Carolina helped that stat).

But thanks to Carey Price, they’re second in GA per game at 2.05.

The power play took another whiff last night, and its efficiency sits at 14.9.

The PK is at 90.1 per cent – tied with L.A. for number one.

•  •  •

Before the season began, Patrick V. Hickey bet CJAD’s Rick Moffat that Jaro Halak would win more games than Carey Price and have a lower GAA and higher save percentage.

Price is leading in all three categories.

And Jaro’s save percentage of 90.6 has him 30th.


  1. RetroMikey says:

    Numb nutz, there are many Habs fans in Hamilton.

    Do a little research before you post comments on this site redneck!

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

  2. Antho says:


    But pouliot is being wrecked on a grinding line

  3. saskhabfan says:

    Wrong as usual. All because your co-workers,like yourself,are leaf fans doesn’t make them the biggest rival. Gee, i wonder why the bulldogs-marlies games double in attendance? Could it be because hamilton is virtually a suburb or toronto and is mostly made up of leaf fans? Use your head.




    I think I know more than most about hockey and believe my opinions are almost always reasonable and thought out.-manapart.

  4. Yeats says:

    Last night’s game against the Preds was certainly a yankfest, but who cares? They came off an emotionally and physically draining win against the Flyers.  Calling a letdown wouldn’t not have made you the heir to Jimmy the Greek. Get through tomorrow’s tilt against TO and get some rest for Ali/Fraser II on Monday night in the City of Brotherly Love. Repeat after me: the NHL is a glorified house league, the NHL is a glorified house league…

  5. HardHabits says:

    Thankfully we’re here to make sure he doesn’t embarrass too much himself on the Internets.

  6. Chuck says:

    Boone, it’s 5 goals in 6 regulation losses, not 8 goals.


    Centre Hice: weird math

  7. linp says:

    The so called JM’s defensive system = hot goalie. If we didn’t have Halak last year, our team would miss the playoff. If we don’t have Price playing light-out, we could not have won so many games this year. I agree that the PHD line is solid. He should give Eller a chance on the top 6. A chance means more than one game.

  8. Magg says:

    Can’t blame this one on Price, he kept them in it during the first half of the game, just an all-around lethargic performance. Not much energy, and I agree with Boone the Eller was noticable tonight, which is a good sign. Maybe its time to try him on the second line and give Gomer a good kick in the ass by bumping him down to line 3 or 4. They did it to Kovy when he was here, I don’t see why Gomez would be above it.


  9. New says:

    This is how I see it. Sometimes teams come out flat, especially after an emotional game. With the Canadiens you can see it if you have watched them long enough. Now sometimes they pull it together in the third, but that sometimes is when the other team is disorganized. Sometimes crud is bothering a team or a player, and until something riviting comes along to change the mindset it just stays that way.

    If the team wins a few, loses one, I’m cool with it. If they begin to go all win seven lose the next six-ish then there is a real problem.

    I also think Gomez wants to be somewhere else. Alaska doesn’t have a team. Jersey can’t afford him. But man would he fill seats in some US cities. Such strange marketing in the NHL. 

  10. SeriousFan09 says:

    On #1, I hope JM is trying to pad his 1st-half wins record a bit so he can afford to play Price less in the 2nd half of the season and let Auld get in some more games. I don’t want Price to have to play 70-75 games and then he gets slammed when he’s worn out a bit in post-season and people are on his case when it’s Game 89 or something and he appears a bit worn down. Auld needs some work soon so Carey can have a night off, goalies need physical and mental rest no matter good of a workhorse they are.

    Skipping 2 since we’ve had this discussion a bit already.

    3. I’m right there with you.


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

  11. Philly-Poo says:

    I like the idea of lines that dont change around all the time, but, if you feel like you can do something to make it better, there is only one way to find out.  Having one of your biggest stars in a slump is cause for concern, but, it was more then just cammy.

    In the last 5 games, including last nights loss, Cammy has 5 pts, Pleks has 9, and Gio has 7… That’s also with Cammy still stuggling to find the back of the net.  Also, JM will not use Gorges as a forward, with no Markov he needs Gorges on the D as much as possible.  I see Weber having a shot at the fourth line instead of Pyatt, so Weber would see PP time, 4th line ice time, and be able to step in if a d-man goes down, or if Hammer and Spacek need a break.  Thats nothing against Pyatt either, hes a great defensive forward, he could just benefit from more offense.

    As far as JM’s system, it’s a good system, if the players buy into it, and they are.  Again, you can’t win every game, and more often than not they have been doing very well this year.  Being the only team to not give up more then 3 goals in regulation speaks of a system.  He led some pretty offensive Ottawa teams, based off his defensive system.  Sure, they were beat in the first or second round in most of the years they made it to the playoffs, but, they also went to the finals one year.  His big problem in Ottawa was not having a good goalie who could carry the team.  If Price is solid all year, and with the team chemistry we have going, that has been developing ever since the big shakeup, I think we will stand a very good chance come May.

    Big Bird would have been great, he’s Montreal Canadiens heritage, but in NJ he coached a very similar defense-first style that JM uses, but had one hell of a goalie, and some AMAZING dmen to help out his cause.

  12. SeriousFan09 says:

    It’s simple, they do not play like Toronto is a rival. When it’s the Capitals, Penguins, Bruins, Flyers it tends to be a very spirited affair. People think these games are bigger than they are but I’ve been much more entertained watching MTL play those teams than seeing another MTL-TOR game where MTL doesn’t tend to have their heart in the match. We know we can see two different Habs teams depending upon the level of the opposition and the Habs consider the Leafs a non-rival team, it’s indicated by their play.

    It’s like going to see Metallica and getting nothing but the St. Anger stuff and no Master of Puppets or Ride the Lightning. You keep expecting their best and you get their worst instead. The rivalry exists for the fans, for the media but the Montreal Canadiens as a team have brushed aside a rival they consider irrelevant as they haven’t faced them in a truly meaningful contest since 1967.

    If I was told I could get tickets to a Canadiens game, I’d want to see the Penguins, or the Capitals or the Bruins because I like good hockey with two dedicated teams, not one treating it like their SCF because it’s as close as they get to it and one team seeing a Northern Florida Panthers squad.

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

  13. RetroMikey says:

    Ask any fan what team they would like to have tickets to or see on TV and it would be Toronto hands down, not Pittsburgh, not Philadelphia, not Boston but Toronto.

    Look at the TV ratings for tomorrow night and all eyes will be glued on a Toronto-Montreal game than watching Cindy Crosby play our Habs and ratings soar watching the 2 original 6 teams.

    Don’t know where you live but I live in Hamilton and whenever there is a Toronto-Montreal game all my co-workers at work are excited watching this game on TV or trying to get tickets to see them at the ACC.

    Being a Bulldogs supporter, whenever the Toronto Marlies come into to town, the attendance is doubled if not tripled because of the rivalry of the 2 clubs.

    Sure there is a rivalry in the playoffs when the Bruins play our Habs but a Leafs-Canadiens rivalry whether in the regular season or playoffs is huge, and how would you know the team does not believe there is no rivalry anymore with the Leafs?

    It never loses meaning, you should know better.





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

  14. Philly-Poo says:

    IMO, thats hitting a panic button.  I wont argue that losing to a shutout is lame, especially at home.  We had a solid winning streak going though, so I dont feel like there is any reason to blame the lines.  Just one loss, whatever, bring on the Leafs already, and Philly on Monday will be a great game, I’m hoping! 😛

    p.s. The Halpern, Darche, and Pouliot line is one of the better lines of late.  Always out there working, driving to the net, and making effective simple plays.  I just think JM is doing the best with what he has.  Before JM broke up Gio and Gomez, I thought about MaxPac as the other winger.  He was/is doing well in Hamilton, and does have size, but, he seems to struggle at the NHL, unfortunately.

  15. habs518sox says:

    I agree we shouldnt be getting shut out at home, none the less against teams like new jersey and nashville. We cant continue to lost the sub par teams (leafs, jackets, preds, devils) Its nice to beat the best teams in the league but the best teams in the league like the red wings dont lose to the bottom half.

    I do like the move of moving AK with gomez. We need gomez to get going you cant win in the nhl with one scoring line, thats why martin made the moved. Expect they put a lost puppy on the line with them. I love laps dont get me wrong he just cant play a skilled game with gomez and ak. I would like to see Eller up with them. He can add some skill and some physical presense to that line. Lapierre is just not a top six foward he looks lost with them them. He needs to go back to the trenches on the 3rd and 4th lines. (propps for fighting outside the weight class needed that vs philly)

  16. HardHabits says:

    I have three major concerns right now:

    1) What JM’s projection is for how many games Price will play this season. I’ve always believed that it’s important to have two solid goaltenders. The team that had a stranglehold on the Jennings trophy back in the late 80’s for 3 years running had an awesome back-up by the name of Bryan Hayward. Auld needs more starts.

    2) The Markov factor. Is he injured for good? Will he come back? If so, when? Which Markov do the Habs get should he return; the #1 stud or the one with a knee built on a house-of-cards?

    3) Gomez. I have been patient up to now but my patience is waning thin. He missed another chance at popping one in an open net last night. He has to start producing points, and soon, otherwise I am going to join the get rid of Gomez chorus.

  17. MathMan says:

    Martin has 5 top-6 forwards to fill 6 spots. His inability to put together two scoring lines from that isn’t exactly surprising.

  18. leafs67_andcounting says:

    Anyone up for a road trip Dec 17th when the Preds take on the Devils? Should be some real firewagon hockey. Seriously, last nights game reminded me of New Jersey-Hartford circa 1995. The poor family in front of me were taking their kids to their 1st ever Habs game. I hope they summon up the will to come back.

  19. HardHabits says:

    SF09. Don’t waste your time with RetroMikey. He hasn’t a clue. He’s a borderline troll. Notice he mostly posts after a loss.

  20. VancouverHab says:

    He must be being ironical here (I’ve long thought we don’t take the Leafs seriously, and they raise their game a bit for us…)

  21. Norcal Habsfan says:

    I agree with Boone that Shea Weber was good but that doesn’t outshine the fact that Gorges took another puck  off his head and didn’t miss a shift. He’s the stud in my book.

    They’re going to have to open a new wing in the Habs archives just for Gorges’ helmets.


  22. SeriousFan09 says:

    You’re serious? No rivalry with the Bullies or the Bruins? Okay forget it I’m not debating this with you any further. If you don’t believe the Habs as a team have it in more for Boston or Philly than a team they haven’t met in the playoffs in 43 years. WSH and PIT were generated by hard-fought playoff series and we could see it in Game 2 of this season when it was MTL-PIT, that was a hard-fought game.

    Not sure what team you’re following because it’s certainly not Montreal. Some of the fans and media might consider TOR-MTL the ultimate rivalry but really, the team does not because it lost real meaning when my father was about the age I am today.


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

  23. RetroMikey says:

    The rivalry will always be against the Leafs whether they are an awful team or a contender now and forever.

    I disagree, there is no rivalry with Washington or Philadelphia or even Pittsburgh or Boston.

    What matters most for fans and the media is when we face Toronto.

    Also, we need to get physical in order to contend in the East against Philly, or Boston or even Pittsburgh.

    Get back to me on Monday when we play Philly on their turf.

    It’s going to be a physical game and you will see we need help in this weakness we have whether a player upfront or on defense who can perform this job.



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

  24. keepthefaith says:

    Ha ha . Was thinking the same thing on Lappy s pugilistic skills. Maybe a couple more lessons wouldnt hurt.

  25. Antho says:

    What did subban do yesterday?

    Your right we cant win everygame but getting blanked again at home is an embarrasement and his lines are garbage lapierre is lost with gomez n ak

    you go an sign gomez n gio on purpose and then split them up


    Pouliot -gomez-gio



  26. Antho says:

    not scoring for one or two games is not a cool off…its called rolling at least three lines. JM gave up because cammy went into a slump thats why

    Cammy pleks n gio is not more effective; they are always the first line on the powerplay which has done nothing

    Laps is definitely not a atop 6 forward – JM will start using georges as a forward like carbozo did

    Its not necessary to juggle lines in the first 10 games and it is not necessary to tell a puck moving defenseman to stop carrying the puck nor bench lars eller the whole game when he is the only one playing with grit

    You guys can call me out all you want JM does not prepare this team to play and his system is complete garbage

    Bob should have brought in larry robinson when he asked for a coaching job instead of getting a guy who did nothing in ottawa

  27. TommyB says:

    You’re right about Lapierre.  He’s going to sit back and admire that last spin-around goal he scored the other night for about another 15 games before he realizes it’s time to score another goal.  And on the subject of Lapierre…nice that he took boxing lessons in the off-season.  Great boxing stance.  Now grab the other guy’s sweater and start pounding for crying out loud, Max!

  28. Don Carnage says:

    He painted his helmet orange.  Take a guess why >?

  29. Don Carnage says:

    To be fair Halak blows chunks        ( this is a joke )    but some will react I am sure

  30. sidhu says:

    What’s the latest on Spacek? 

  31. HotHabs says:

    OK, so the game was lame.  Based on the players’ comments, I’m sure a better effort and result is in store Sat. vs. Leafs.

    Eller shows upside, for sure.  I really think he should be on the second line instead of Laps – give the kid a chance for an extended length of time, not just a few shifts here and there.

    The truly upsetting part about the Gomez situation is how much money he earns per point!!!

    Subban needs someone to tell him that time does not stand still while he winds up for a point shot…

    As for the Hickey-Moffat bet, happy that Habs’ tender is in lead but there’s a lot of hockey left to play.  It will be interesting to revisit those stats come March.

    Bring on the Laffs…

  32. Duracell3 says:

    Goaltending is, and has been the last decade, the least of our problems.


    Herkik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Patrick Kane, Toews, Mikko Koivu, Saku, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jason Spezza, Marian Hossa, Patrice Bergeron, Marc Savard, Paul Statsny, Ilya Kovalchuck, Patrik Elias, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Alex Semin, Nik Backstrom, and our own Thomas Plekenec…

    are all inferior in pay to Scott Gomez. Clearly worth every penny.

    I wonder what Stephen Weiss could get from Sather…

  33. Jbird says:

    His entire career? He has played 114 NHL games.  Last years 45 GP were the most he has played. He has never been a #1 for a whole season.  Not sure your comment is logically sound. That said, Halak is a good goalie.  At the same time I’m getting the feeling that he is not the next Hasak (which I’m very good with seeing that he plays for St Louis . . . . .).

  34. Philly-Poo says:

    Kudos for having one of the better, non-panicked posts, after a loss.

  35. Philly-Poo says:

    PLeks, Cam, and AK46 had cooled off, and with the second line at the time (Gionta, Gomez, flavor of the night) doing absolutely nothing JM had to shake things up.  Pleks, Cam, and Gionta have played very well together, and, as long as Gomez is doing nothing, with the exception of carting his millions to the bank, our second line will have issues.  I don’t think Laps is the answer, but, him, AK46, and Gomez haven’t been completely dreadful, but, it certainly isnt a second line.

  36. Philly-Poo says:

    Really?  Really?  That’s what you chose to write?  Seriously??  This has NOTHING to do with JM’s lines, they are the same lines that have been EFFECTIVE in winning us hockey games.  With the exception of the fourth line, and Picard and Subban, our players either were snake-bitten, or robbed by Rinne.  We can’t win every game, especially when our good players take a night off, or season (see Gomez, Scott).

  37. keepthefaith says:

    Pat Hickey would love for Price to fail. The  old fool should just write for St. Louis. Eller should be on PP. It cant be much worse. And Gomez needs a line mate. Sorry buy Lapierre is not gonna cut it.

  38. Mr.Hazard says:

    That being said, if Price finishes higher, I’ll take it! Sorry Hickey 🙂

  39. Mr.Hazard says:

    Halak’s numbers will improve. He has never suffered in the stats category, over his entire career.

  40. Mr.Hazard says:

    Oops hadn’t refreshed my page in a while. Didn’t see this reply.(I won’t say anything!).

  41. Mr.Hazard says:

    No, Halak is 30th in SV%. You mean 14th in GAA.

  42. Sith says:

    I was thinking bout preds

    thinking bout wins

    thinking little of the leafs

    cuz they stink

    opened my eyes (yea!), it was only just a dreaaaam.

  43. Josh says:

    Maybe if Martin knew how to properly put together two scoring lines then opposing teams wouldn’t have to just focus on one line.

  44. Antho says:

    your absolutely right, they need a bigger presence on that line, they should have never split up AK-pleks-cammy

    The line was on fire and you sacrifice that to try and get gomez going?

    Oh yeah excuse me guys thats excellent coaching im sorry

  45. Antho says:

    Boone the first line of ur thread says it all

    There is no sustained pressure and yes the Eller line was the only line that kept the puck in the zone for 20-30 sec per shift

  46. linp says:

    I am disappointed with Michael Cammalleri‘s effort. He lost the puck so often and couldn’t win a single puck on the board.

    Without Markov, Jaroslav Spacek
      is back to his dreadful state.

    Gomez is so ineffective. Lapierre is not a top 6 forward. Pyatt can’t shoot. Halpern is not 100%. It all adds up.

  47. 24 Cups says:

    Andrew – It just hit me that I was looking at the GAA page, not the save % stats.

    That means Mike Boone was right and I was wrong but please don’t let him know. It will probably cost me a beer or two!

  48. andrewberkshire says:

    Steve, where are you getting your numbers? Halak is 30th in save%.

  49. nick says:

    Montreal didn’t bring their A game. Simple as that. Move on. No need to start throwing them all under the bus just yet. CH had won 4 tough games before losing last night. Can’t win them all.

  50. tony d says:

    Yeah I thought Auld shoulda got a crack at Nashville. However as we saw, it wasn’t a question of goaltending. Our offense sputtered and once again Gomez was totally invisible. I think when he’s off, it brings the guys on his line down. AK couldn’t get anything going. Anyway, hope this loss fires them up to beat the Leafs.

  51. SeriousFan09 says:

    They weren’t intimidated by the Flyers, Canucks or the Bruins. They dropped multiple opponents who supposedly bring that physical game that makes the Canadiens play scared and are ‘big, tough, intimidating’. Leafs don’t intimidate or scare the Habs, they’re just not interested in them because it’s a rivalry from my father’s time but it’s all the Leafs have to hang their hat on if they can win a season series with the Habs in the last half-decade.

    The Habs have rivalries with relevant teams like BOS and PHI plus some new ones with teams like WSH and PIT.


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

  52. RetroMikey says:

    I disagree,

    Our team is always intimidated or scared when playing the the big, bad, no name Leafs and I would not want to meet the Leafs in a playoff series.

    BYW, my man Marcel Goc gets 2 goals and was second star of the match.

    I wanted this guy to play with us in Montreal  and have wanted him to come here for 2 years to come to Montreal, nice, long, reach on the kid as evidenced on the first goal.

    Strong, tall, big skilled CMan which we could have gotten him for good value.

    Can’t say I miss a 4th liner in little Sergei on Nashville, see ya Sergei!

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

  53. SeriousFan09 says:

    True enough, our division record needs improvement certainly, close to half their wins in NE last season were won off of the 5-1-0 whipping of Boston and let’s face it, this year’s Boston squad I don’t think will be as obliging in that regard. Habs need to do what they haven’t done since the 08-09 season, beat TOR like it’s SmartDog wailing on Gomez’s contract.

    Gomez has to do more of course, right now it’s almost punishment duty for whatever forwards are on his wing right now, I know we’ve got the stories on him being a late starter but we can’t be giving up wins when the team is healthy save Markov and everyone’s ready to go, the team will have tough times and lose another key player for a stretch at some point so they need to build a buffer of wins up.

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

  54. 24 Cups says:

    For sure, Robert.  Boston is only two points back with two games in hand.  They have won their last three games and are doing it without two top forwards.  I realize we will have flat games (like last night) but it can’t be two in a row.  Especially seeing that we play Philly on Monday.

    It was stated here that Gomez’s dreadful play has allowed other teams to focus on Pleks.  I would also point out that it hasn’t done much for AK46’s game.  I’ve heard all the crap before about all the things Gomez brings to the team but the truth is he that has to start generating some offense.  He won’t get a better chance than Toronto.

  55. SeriousFan09 says:

    Habs treat Leafs games like they’re playing FLA or ATL, Leafs treat it like the SCF is the difference.


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

  56. 24 Cups says:

    To be fair, Halak is 14th in save percentage and 10th in wins.

    The laffs and The Monster won last night after beating Nashville on Tuesday.  Regardless of how bad they are, Toronto always seems to give us a tough go.  It’s far from being a slam dunk even though in theory it should be.

  57. G-Man says:

    Habs can’t win every game and Price can’t play every game. I would have sat him last night for Auld and played Price for the 4pointer Saturday.

    Pretending Jaro is the worst goalie to boost how Price is playing so far is what mere posters do. You are better than that, Boone, and Jaro is, too.

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