About last night …

Don’t be fooled by the final score.

That was a 3-0 game. And if Florida had more snipers, it would have been 6-0.

Hey, maybe the Panthers need a trigger man. Let’s trade them Michael Ryder for Olli Jokinen.

I’m only jokin’. But the day of reckoning for poor Ryder draws nigh. He played another nothing game last night: nine minutes, zero shots, one shot attempt. He did, however, have three hits and was on the ice for Andrei Markov’ssecond goal, which made the final score totally misleading.

Have you heard of the "non-compete clause". It’s a feature of business contracts. If I sell you my sushi restaurant, I agree not to open anoher one across the street.

I think the Canadiens signed a non-compete clause with the Panthers last night: if you skate and play aggressive, hard-nosed hockey, we agree to dick around disinterestedly for 58 minutes.

La Presse’s François Gagnon came up with some telling numbers: in Detroit on Saturday night, Florida gave up 46 shots. In Chicago on Sunday, the Blackhawks had 45 shots against the Panthers.

In the first period last night, the Canadiens had three shots. Roman Hamrlik and Francis Bouillon had two of them.

That’s pathetic.

Shall we chalk it up to growing pains? Ten players dressed last night were 25 and under. Maybe they learned something.

My friend’s father, who believed corporal punishment builds character, used to say "kids’ ears are in their asses." Presumably Guy Carbonneau will be on their butts all through the holiday road trip.

And the kindly old coach should reserve a few cat o’ nine strokes for his veterans, none of whom distinguished himself last night.

Cristobal Huet will start in Washington Thursday night. That’s a no-brainer.

I’d like to see Sergei Kostitsyn and Josh Gorges stay in the lineup.

Guillaume Latendresse should be back, probably at the expense of Ryder or Tom Kostopoulos.

I think the fourth line should be kept intact. Maxim Lapierre was one of the few Canadiens who skated and looked interested last night.

This was the point last season when the team began to tank.

The six-game road trip will be interesting.

•  •  •

A lot of talk about booing on the radio phone-in shows after the game last night.

Are Montreal fans too demanding?

I don’t think so. Yes, many fans remember the glory years. But they’re realists who recognize that in a 30-team league with some very sharp general managers – oh, why can’t they all be Mike Milburys and Bobby Clarkes, like they were in Sam Pollock’s day? –  it takes time to build a winner.

All those years of glory, however, produced sophisticated hockey fans who can tell chopped liver from chicken droppings. And when they pay upwards of $125 a ticket, the very least they expect is 60 minutes of high-octane hockey from the home team.

Too often this season at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens’ effort has fallen wel short of that expectation. And when that happens, the team has a boos problem. 

66 Comments

  1. likehoy says:

    souray was on the team last year too

    i think the league picks the all-star team

    but the starting line-up is voted on by the fans.

  2. TommyB says:

    Yeah, I could be wrong, but if I am not mistaken it used to be that way. Isn’t it Bettman who altered the format for selection, giving it to the fans for selection instead of the hockey writers?

    There are many very knowledgable hockey fans out there, but I dare say there are even more less knowledgable hockey fans out there. There is no distinguishing between the two types when it comes to all-star voting, and multiple voting makes it even more of a farce.

    As far as Huet goes, well, God bless him but he has not been all-star material this year, and if you go back to last year, he spent the majority of the time following the All-Star Game rehabbing an injury. He came back just in time to lose the last game of the season against the Leafs. So how can anyone seriously call him an All-Star? Also, if I am not mistaken, Huet was not voted to the team last year. If anyone can correct me on this go ahead, but was he not “named” to the All-Star team in order that the Canadiens would have a representitive, as is the custom of each team having at least one player present?

  3. RiverviewCanadien says:

    I think Kovalev showed up…for a few minutes. Maybe something was wrong, because it looked like when they wanted to play last night, they got the pcuk down deep. Mayeb they were sending a message to someone…

  4. Chorske says:

    Well, as Mike says, it was about this time last year that the wheels came off. I like to hope that this bunch is younger and more resilient. I also like to think that everyone is taking their vitamins and echinacea and washing their hands- you can never be too careful during flu season. If we stay healthy and carry on our trend of playing well on the road, who knows- maybe we come into the new year swinging instead of dangling. Maybe we make the playoffs. But the truth is that this team has already performed better than most analysts expected. And we can all sense that this team always seems to be hanging on the edge of cataclysm. I’m literally touching wood as I type this: factor in an injury to anyone on the Kovalev line, or to Hamrlik and/or Markov, and the wheels fall off again.

    Huet said it best with his ‘fragile between the ears’ comment. I wish he’d gone into more detail about why this team is so fragile, so easily thrown off its game.

  5. sidhu says:

    I’m sure Carbo wanted him to center our first line.

  6. The Teacher says:

    Tired from using their tractors to snowplow all the snow?

  7. Chorske says:

    And his head was up his own butt for the third… ;)

  8. likehoy says:

    you know the all-star voting is a joke when wayne gretzky comes out and says rory fitzpatrick shouldn’t go…….

  9. tleblanc says:

    I think Markov showed up. Don’t you?

  10. tleblanc says:

    After all he did have the only two goals.

  11. gfunkdoc says:

    The All-Star game is a waist of time. It was great to see Fitzpatrick make a mockery of it (as if it wasn’t ridiculous enough already).

  12. ebk says:

    leaving it in the hands of the so-called esteemed sportswriter would turn it into even more of a farce.

    no offense intended to either sportswriter who may read this

  13. howtathor says:

    Couldn’t have said it better. I would think though that the team would be better prepared to counteract the Florida system. They looked totally lost out there last night. The mark of a great team is motivation. If you look at the great coaches like Bowman, Arbour, Sather they were all great motivators. Not to mention that they all had exceptional talent. Carbonneau has to have this team on an even keel night in and night out in order to get the best results. I don’t believe he is capable of that. What we get is les Jekyls and les hydes! Will the real Montreal Canadiens please stand up!

  14. howtathor says:

    The all-star voting is a farce! They should be chosen by esteemed sportswriters such as Mike Boone and of course the LLSJ. Not to mention that the game is a bit of a lame duck but what all star game isn’t? Maybe baseball where there is no hitting involved and the winner get’s home field advantage in the world series. Make it mean something to the players other than a schmoozfest. That being said, it would be good for Huet to be showcased at the ASG in that it would increase his trade value in this UFA season.

  15. Habs Suck... Again says:

    Not saying Carbo said those words to his team. But, did he have a counter-strategy to play against the strong forechecking of Martin’s troops? Montreal, I believe, is the better of the two teams, but Carbo was out-coached by a very bright veteran leader. I also don’t think that the masses want Carbo’s head on a platter because of “one game”. This mediocre “up-down” play has been going on for some time and the team isn’t improving. That doesn’t mean I’m taking responsibility away from the players – they need to play 60 minutes of fast skating, hard hitting, intense hockey, and they failed. But, a good game plan is critical to countering and conquering.

  16. Moey says:

    You got half your wish, Price was in the peartree for the second goal.

  17. Barts says:

    Shall we chalk it up to a lack of leadership? Hello Saku, one game does not a captain make.

  18. likehoy says:

    Huet has to play thursday!!
    He’s gotta re-up his value and pass Brodeur in all-star voting again.

    Does anyone else find it fishy that BOTH markov AND huet were leading allstar votes. I understand Markov is amazing, but Huet? I’m not convinced that Huet is considered an All-Star league-wide, 1 great year, 1 good year, and a decent start to this season…I can name a couple of goalies in the East that are more tantalizing choices.

    Which raises the question, which of yous spend their time on NHL.com clicking Huet/Markovs and koivu/kovalevs names all day?

  19. likehoy says:

    that’s true..i had him in my pool…he led the league in penalty minutes last year, i was pissed he didn’t really play much this year so i got avery instead. At least avery scores now he’s injured…

  20. Odie Clegorn says:

    A successful coach, or any succesful leader, when communicating in a public forum, focuses on TEAM performance and TEAM outcomes only. “We” or, in this case, “Nous”, is the operative pronoun when describing strategy, mistakes and successes and results; this particular coach appears to have a hard time acknowledging this simple yet essential element of leadership in his communications with the players, press and anyone else. And, he’s been “on the job” for nearly two years now.

  21. Naila Jinnah says:

    Patience is key.

  22. nightmare_49 says:

    It’s definitely not your year.

  23. Moey says:

    Mike,

    I think you’re being too hard on them, after all they did play a solid two minutes of hockey at the end of the third.

  24. Aaron13 says:

    If you watch the game again, watch for the number of times penalties were not called against FL for holding and interference. It made me sick. The refereeing is inconsistent. If you hold the stick horizontally against the body of an opponent, it’s practically an automatic penalty, but everything else seemingly was allowed in this game.

  25. Moey says:

    I disagree about Huet, he was probably smiling all the way to the dressing room…see I told you to put me in nets. Also RDS kept a head shot on him at one point, I think they were hoping to see a smirk after the Price boo boo. I know I was.

  26. vic says:

    I think we have to just ride this out and have some patience I cant see this team winning the cup this year but the building of the team looks good for the future, a lot better than it has in the past.

  27. Aaron13 says:

    Well young kids do need a hard-ass. Just like in the old days – I’m thinking of Ruel barking…”check, check, skate, skate…”

  28. Aaron13 says:

    A major boo-boo by Price on the 2nd goal. The 3rd Pather goal was a BB that Price got a small piece of.

    After the first goal I could see it was a done deal. The Panthers played very well, as usual, in Montreal. With a few minutes left in the game they were exhausted.

    I’m unimpressed with Carbs. He’s definitely not a Scotty Bowman. I don’t know what’s going on with Ryder. He seems slow. Perhaps he’s had it with Montreal or the staff.

    Quite frankly, I think the Habs need more Russians or Europeans, in general, on the team. Markov comes to mind. These kids come over here having eaten potato soup all of their lives and probably grew their own vegetables. Now their grateful for steak.

    It will be interesting to see if any trades are made. Unfortunately, not too many players want to play in Montreal anymore.

  29. Moey says:

    Last night’s game was a comedy of errors. One thing that is consistant with them is I can tell within the first five minutes what kind of game it will be. Actually I’m being generous, at 17:28 in the first, I said out loud they’re going to stink tonight. It’s always the same, if they come out hard they have a good win. If they come out soft, they usually lose or squeak by with a tie.

  30. nightmare_49 says:

    Ben Eager has been out a few times this year with concusion problems so that trade may be a gamble.

  31. HabFab says:

    Couldn’t agree more!

  32. likehoy says:

    whoa why didn’t anyone tell us ben eager was available!?

    Gainey shoulda shipped a dman for ben eager. Instead he’s off to our buddies in chicago.

  33. NLhabsfan says:

    Ryder looked lost last night. He is just going through the motions. Uninspired and obviously not playing for Carbo.I guess Ryder has given up but he is not the only one on this team that just can not or won’t play with Carbo’s system.Yes it is a young team and will make mistakes…….what bothers me is bringing up guys way to early who need a lot of seasoning and patience.Which is something Carbo seems to have little of.Perhaps they were thinking in the same line playing two young guys with Kovlev to inspire Which is working somewhat but for most of the team….I doubt it…Young players are fragle as it is…Messing with that is dangerious.

  34. tleblanc says:

    I get the impression that the team must have been reading the comments yesterday before the game and decided they could all of a sudden beat Florida. They continue to play a very inconsistant game and the curiosity is that on paper at least they play the most inconsistantly against teams they should be able to play even with in the very least.

    I do think the coach is to blame for some of it but feel that you can’t bring in a young coach and not expect the inconsistency with him as well as his young team.

    I am pessimistic about our chances on the road because we haven’t done very well especially at this time of year. Do I hope that history teaches something? Yes. Let’s hope the team studies hard before Washington. They too are playing much better than their record would indicate ever since they made a coaching change.

  35. Wops says:

    If you want some positive.

    The 6 forwards of the Habs first 2 lines are in the plus

    Higgins +4, Koivu +1, S.Kost +1
    A.Kost +4, Plekanec +1, kovalev +1
    _______________________________________
    CH is for Chris Higgins

  36. ebk says:

    you were not the only one, twenty of your most important friends also missed most of the game as well.

  37. The Teacher says:

    I gather he was thinking how to help his defenceman out, and I’d rather see mistakes made from trying, than from not…give him a break already..let’s move on.

  38. J.T. says:

    Yeah, well…it was a mistake to unload him to St.Louis back then, and I’m not convinced he’s largely to blame for losses like last night’s now. Sure, some nights I’d consider him outcoached, but I didn’t see it last night.

    I have a hard time believing Carbonneau is standing there pre-game going, “Okay guys, this is a strong forechecking team, so let’s send one guy in carrying the puck and hope he gets through for a shot. And make sure when you have the puck in your own end you flip it up the boards on the backhand so Florida can intercept it better. You, Price…I think you should wander far out of your net when a defenceman has a better chance to retrieve the puck cleanly, then rush your blind pass right to an opponent while you’re still a mile out of the net. Oh, and if you’re going on a line change, make sure you toss the puck softly into Florida’s end so they can come on transition before our guys are in position. Whatever you do, don’t pass it to a teammate and keep it AWAY from the other team.” No…somehow I think that’s NOT what Carbo’s instructions were. I also have a hard time believing his communication skills are SO bad that he accidentally sent that message.

    Sometimes, the coach gives the instructions and the team just doesn’t follow them. Every team in the league, with the possible exception of Detroit, has games like the Habs had last night. But you don’t see them firing their coaches the minute things get a bit rough. It’s actually quite educational to watch teams other than the Habs and see what they’re doing. It’s surprising how common a lot of the crap we’re complaining about really is. In any case, our team will grow and learn and these games will become a lot more rare than they are now. We have to learn patience.

  39. nightmare_49 says:

    You must have been at Abe’s joint again.

  40. nick says:

    Anyone seen the movie called “Miracle”?

    Maybe Carbo should have the guys doing suicides after games like last night until they can’t walk.

    Mike, you mentioned last night before the game that Latendress and Huet both had their noses a little out of joint. I bet their seriously out of joint now.

  41. Yeats says:

    That second one was just woeful, absolutely woeful. I have to have Price as a guest on a public access show I plan doing some time in the future “What Were You Thinking?”

  42. Yeats says:

    I’ll try to give you my take, but I’m a native New Yorker. They are the most inconsistent group of players I have ever seen. Some nights they look like world beaters, the next night they look like crap. Unless they get better-than-average goaltending, they’ll probably lose. Moreover, when their kicker let’s in a howler like the second one last night, they just fold. As far as leadership, they have some, but it is by no means strong leadership. With perhaps the odd exception like the game against the Leafs Saturday night, Koivu’s performance this year has rendered him unable to give the other guys “the look” in the room. Hell, they’ll just give him “the look” back. We are a very long way from number 25. Beyond fabulous goaltending, the teams that did it in ’86 and ’93 had not only more leadership, but also more ability and certainly more heart.

  43. Yeats says:

    I missed last night’s game entirely and I’m feelin’ great! Sounds like it was a real cracker.

  44. ccs says:

    Here is the solution to all of the Habs problems…..Lets trade Ryder for Samsonov….What do we have to lose?????

  45. Odie Clegorn says:

    All I want for Christmas is for Carbonneau to be detained by US border guards and held indefinitely at some undisclosed location. His lack of effective communication skills, as noted in those pre and post game press releases, combined with his whining, complaining and overall negativity toward everybody but himself have gone on long enough. It seems as if he’s still giving everybody the finger just as he did after one of those early, ignominious playoff defeats which led to his departure to St. Louis. Au revoir Guy…

  46. Wops says:

    You need a crew of veteran to rebuild around. Otherwise puts to much pressure on the young guns.

    If smolinski is not there = Chipchura HAS to produce…to much pressure
    If Hamrlik and Breezer not there = O’Byrne and Gorges HAVE to produce…to much pressure…
    Kostopoulos is just a leader, a grinder, that will help the young in their preparation, in the room, laugh with them when they make mistakes

    Bob knows what he is doing, we needed those signing to ensure that re-building was feasible.

    Samething with Huet…If we are trading him, we will have a veteran backup in return, not to put too much pressure on Price.

    People in MTL are crazy enough.
    _______________________________________
    CH is for Chris Higgins

  47. tleblanc says:

    I have no problem with Hamrlik being here at all and if you check the power rankings for defense I bet you an awful lot of teams would want him. I also think that Kostopolous hasn’t been a terrible addition at all. Smolinski has been a disappointment but in October everyone on this site thought he was an improvement over Bonk. And Brisebois is Brisebois. nothing has changed except the paycheck.

  48. 24 Cups says:

    Hey Wops – I agree with both of your statements. We can’t get too uptight after each loss, regardless of how poorly the team may have played. Some of the guys (not you C12)on this site who are over 40 should never shovel heavy snow right after a Habs loss. Too risky.

    The Original 24 Cups

  49. Bill says:

    Those are mostly very short term deals, designed to fill gaps until the young talent is ready to step in. Definitely part of the rebuild. Gainey didn’t know during the off-season if guys like Chipchura, Lapierre, or O’Byrne would be ready, so he picked up some insurance.

    Hamrlik’s contract, obviously, is a long-term investment. There’s no reason why a rebuilding team can’t have a few veterans, especially if they contribute as well as Hamrlik has been doing.

    http://yearofthehab.blogspot.com

  50. Habs Suck... Again says:

    I agree that Ryder’s day is coming, and watching some of the RDS analysts I’d say they’ve been secretly rubbing their lucky pennies to see him disappear. It’s only a matter of time and some very cunning negotiation skills.

    Mike, while I agree that most of the team didn’t show last night, I can’t say that Carbo should be the one doing all the whipping. Perhaps Gainey has a whip in his S&M closet that could be employed on his sophomore coach. He should dress Carbo in a rubber bunny suit for good measure. Somehow the coaching is not effective and team often looks unprepared. In any other franchise the kindly old coach would be in a line at the unemployment office. However, friendship has obscured objectivism and we are stuck with mediocrity behind the bench.

    I wonder if Gainey has Hartley on his speed dial? If you happen to bump into him in the halls of the Bell Center you might want to name drop…

  51. Mike Boone says:

    I wonder how Hartley’s hard-ass style would play with a team that is a) young and b) loaded with talented Russians.
    Do you think Ilya Kovalchuk will be sending his old coach a Christmas card?

  52. leafs67_andcounting says:

    Just I thought would happen. Florida comes in a plays a textbook road game. Great game plan from Jacques Martin who out coached Carbo………again. The only thing that didn’t happen that I though would was that Ollie Jokinen didn’t get a Hat Trick. The good news………Both Carolina and Florida don’t come back here this season.

  53. nightmare_49 says:

    Last Saturday we went to the net and last night we tried to get as far away from the net as we could. The perimeter boys were back.

  54. tony d says:

    Took a peek under the Habs Christmas tree this year (I can still say Christmas tree right?- I won’t be flagged as offensive, cause today you never know)
    I see they’re getting a lot of those ‘How To’ books… How To shoot a puck, How To pass, How To score, How To keep the other team from scoring etc.. there’s even the cute factor as Santa is giving them all tiny replicas of La Coupe Stanley…ahhh sweet…. that’s because it’s the closest they’ll be to seeing a Stanley Cup this year.
    Week after week, is it just me or is anyone else out there tired of making excuses for these guys?
    Well maybe it’s a good thing, maybe they’re sucking so we can block them out and focus on the holidays and spending time with family and friends. Nice memories ya know?
    And on that note, I’d like to wish everyone in Habs nation a very Merry Christmas…. at least to those who like to be wished a Merry Christmas. To those who find it offensive or insensitive, I wish you happy holidays, peace and tolerance.
    2008 is around the corner, who knows what condition our warriors will be in when they return from battle abroad.
    Some victories would be a nice gesture to all the fans as a kind of thanks for supporting them through this crazy NHL ride.
    With all the alcohol and snack consumption, we put our mental and physical health on the line, each and every game, because after the Zamboni’s gone for the night, and the last light has been turned off, we continue to relive and rehash every last detail, good and bad. That’s not just the makings of a crazy fan…. it’s the mark of a genuine, insane, die-hard Habs fan. GO HABS GO!!!!!!!!!

  55. HabsChick says:

    Mike,
    I agree. Hartley might be able to help the Hans produce roughly 4-5 wins and then it’s all downhill. That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

  56. Habs Suck... Again says:

    Hartley is tough, but remember that he has a long history of winning. From the minors up, he’s produced winners and has a very good overall coaching record. He knows how to strategize, which is something apparently lacking presently with “nos glorieux”. Besides, would you classify Carbo as a softy next to Hartley?

    Now another long shot option would be to call Demers down from the pressbox…

    Ahh, but who says Gainey is even entertaining the idea of a coaching change? I highly doubt it. But, to dream is to live with hope for tomorrow.

  57. Habs Suck... Again says:

    Speaking of no lost love between Kovalchuk and Hartley, here’s an interesting take from November:

    http://www.hockey.com/Blog/279-Ilya-Kovalchuk-owes-Hartley-an-apology.aspx

  58. TommyB says:

    JT,

    Regarding dear old dad and his sage advice: I assume all bets are off the moment Brisebois steps on the ice again. ;P

  59. J.T. says:

    Well, my New Year’s resolution this year is to live up to dear old dad’s sage advice and not say anything if I can’t say something nice. Since I consider that a worthwhile objective, I thought I’d give it a whirl. So, here are the good things About Last Night:

    -no one got injured
    -Florida doesn’t have more snipers, so it wasn’t 6-2
    -Markov padded his stats, which will look good when he’s at the All-Star game
    -Carbo didn’t have a stroke
    -Price got an illustrated lesson in why you should stop and look both ways before passing the puck
    -Kovalev stood in the crease at least twice
    -the PK didn’t suck
    -2007 and all its bad karma is almost over

    There. Hmmmm…somehow, that didn’t feel as good as it should have.

  60. Proudones says:

    How do you figure that “Ryder needs more opportunities”?
    We’re almost at the half way point of the season and we haven’t even seen the slightest indication of improvement.
    In fact, quite the opposite IMHO.
    Although a really nice guy, I suspect that Ryder was over-rated to begin with and seems to have lost interest as well. That’s a deadly combination. Ryder has had far more opportunity given to him than would be afforded almost everyone else on the team. I realize that by benching him we lose on the trade value, but I think we’re probably beyond that point now anyway.
    Surely his situation is at the very least somewhat disruptive for the rest of the team.
    It’s time to face reality and give the opportunities to those who deserve them the most…IMHO

  61. P St. Pierre says:

    Mike, I totally agree that Latendresse should return to the lineup. I realize that Ryder needs more opportunities and blah blah blah, but if he isn’t going to play on an offensive line, he shouldn’t play at all. Because they should not break up any of the top two lines, there is no room for Ryder in the lineup.

    Latendresse plays a third line role much better than Ryder does. Last game he was backchecking and blocking shots. He also adds a very physical element to the forward crew. I know a lot of Leafs fans and all of them hate Lats. He’s realized that this year he needs to grind it out more to be effective and I would say that if one of them is going to play on the third line, Latendresse is much more effective than Ryder.

  62. mjames says:

    Wow, i have never seen such suffocating forechecking and backchecking. Martin certainly has our number. How Chicago can have 40 plus shots agaisnt the Panthers and we have essentially nothing is beyond me. I have no answer for that. It seemed the Panthers played the man all night when the Canadiens tried to cross their blue line. I am not making excuses for our poor play but there could have been some obstruction or interference calls.

    While watching the game it almost appeared the Panthers primarily mission was just to check the Canadiens. They were not interested in scoring. They were counting on turnovers for their offense which they got on the first two goals.

    I am not going to rag on Carbo although it would have been nice if he could have countered the Panthers checking strategy. I just hope the youngsters continue to play and that includes Lapierre, O’Byrne, the two K’s etc. I know they make mistakes but they have to learn. If they are sent down then this team may as well pack it in for the season because Simolinski, Brisebois, Begin, etc are not going to lead us anywhere.

    mjames

  63. P St. Pierre says:

    Sorry, I personally don’t think Ryder needs anymore opportunities either. I’ve just seen a lot of people posting that Ryder needs more chances on the top line. I personally have seen enough of him on the powerplay with no results. I’d like to see him traded but there is nothing you can get for him right now. So I guess that would be one reason they need to play him. So that he starts to score a few and than ship him out.

  64. Wops says:

    Seriously, will there ever be a loss where we won’t want to trade half the team and fire the coach?
    We will loose another 20 games this year minimum, get that in.

    Hockey is a game of mistakes.

    Boone said it, 10 players under 25… be patient for cryin loud…
    We are rebuilding. We are Habs fan, we are supposed to know hockey…

    Rebuilding = more games like last night to come.
    _______________________________________
    CH is for Chris Higgins


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