About last night …


Maybe we can stop talking, at least for now, about overtaking Buffalo or making a deep run in the playoffs.

Your Montreal Canadiens played badly – down to the level of their opposition, as was the case against Edmonton – and they salvaged a point.

With Philadelphia and Ottawa losing, the Canadiens had a chance to jump up the Eastern Conference standings.

Their failure to do so is not cause for excessive worry.

A bit of tweaking and they’ll be ready for a HUGE four-pointer against Ottawa on Monday.

First tweak: Marc-André Bergeron probably will dress against the Senators. The power play went 1-for-6, and it wasn’t pretty.

Jaroslav Spacek played 5:29 on the PP. He had zero shots on goal.

Josh Gorges had 3:45 of PP time. One shot.

The Leafs crowded the slot, pressured the puck and forced the Canadiens into jittery, ill-conceived plays with the man advantage. No one went to the net. Everything was on the perimeter.

The MAB laser is badly needed at the point. Gorges does not belong on the power play.

But how will Jacques Martin use him?

Seventh D-man? Maybe. The coach certainly won’t mess with his Top 6, who have played very solid D since the Olympic break.

Fourth-line forward?

Maybe. But Glen Metropolit’s unit played well against Toronto. Along with the third line, they managed to create pressure and maintain puck possession in the Leafs’ end.

The other tweak on Monday night: Mike Cammalleri.

Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn are struggling. Tom Pyatt works his butt off, but the kid is not a top 6 forward.

I don’t know how sharp Cammalleri will be after a long layoff. But he plays his best games at the Bell Centre, and the Pleks line desperately needs a finisher.

Jacques Martin was not happy with his team’s work ethic at the ACC.

The coach said there was too much space between defencemen and forwards, too many long, low-percentage passes; not enough instances when the Canadiens were able to attack with speed.

Again, the team seems to play to the level of his competition.

The Leafs have heart. They’re young and they play hard.

But like Edmonton, which also took the Canadiens to a shootout, Toronto is a crap team.

A big indicator: the Canadiens, who average almost five minor penalties per game, took one. Scott Gomez’s retaliatory elbow on Dion Phaneuf cost his team Tyler Bozak’s power-play goal, but the Leafs were unable to muster enough offence to draw a single hook, hold, trip or interference call.

Maybe the absence of penalties indicated lack of intensity. But the Canadiens outhit an allegedly physical team 28-25, and allegedly big thumper Phaneuf was not a factor … although he seemed to take Gomez out of his game to a degree.


Jaro Halak gave up fat rebounds. He wasn’t great on Phil Kessel’s quick wrister. And Jaro was beaten with dismaying ease by Nikolai Kulemin and John Mitchell in the shotout.

But Halak made 31 saves. And I don’t think the SO loss changed his Number One status.

That said, Price could use some work. I think Jaro will start against Ottawa, but we’ll probably see Carey in one of the mid-week back-to-backs, either in Buffalo or at home against the Panthers.

•  •  •

Tom Pyatt is on Hamilton’s playoff-eligible list and is probably destined for the Bulldogs with Cammalleri coming back.

The interesting question is who sits if MAB plays against Ottawa?

Either Maxim Lapierre or Mathieu Darche … probably Max.

•  •  •

Nothing close to a fight in the game, but Cherry showed four of them on Coach’s Corner.

And the NHL web site had a story and a video of the epic battle between Cam Janssen and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, which lasted nearly three minutes and might have been the longest fight in the history of the league.

•  •  •

Mystery solved.

Watching the HNIC pre-game show, I wondered abut Alyonka Larionov, the blonde honey working with  P.J. Stock at the Quebec Red Bull ice racing event.

An e-mail from Stu Hackel, who writes the Slap Shot blog for the New York Times:

She’s Igor’s
oldest daughter. She was working for the Penguins on their website last
season and half of this season, doing weekly video things on the
players, etc. and she mysteriously left in mid-season. She also fancies herself as a music star (along with her
sister, they have a duo act of sorts.





  1. HardHabits says:

    We can talk about it over a few pints at Hurley’s if you like. I’ll be there next summit.

  2. keepthefaith says:



  3. showey47 says:

    yup,the gold medal winning bum luongo was on he knees early and was beaten high glove by a backhander. I also saw it happen to lundqvist today from dennis wideman with a back hander from the top of the faceoff circle. So,contrary to HIO belief this doesn’t only happen to price. 

  4. HardHabits says:

    The Habs may lock up 5th or even 4th but no-one here expects them to go deep in the playoffs and IF they win the 1st round it’ll be an upset and they wont be doing it as the favourite. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy the Habs look like they’ll make the playoffs but there are too many missing pieces and those stem from the last 17 years of the team stagnating and spinning its wheels in the mud. As for the injuries, they are a symptom of the team’s lack of size and lack of grit. Yes Gio and Cammy are gritty but their size makes that grit subject to injury when confronted with a bigger piece of grit.

    The problem is that people like PrimeTime, keepthefaith and you are satisfied with just making the playoffs and don’t really see that the team is not a real contender nor a threat for the Cup. It doesn’t mean they can’t win it, but it’s more than the odds that make it highly unlikely, it’s that the team lacks too many parts to make a 4 series run, IMHO.


  5. ooder says:

    don’t get me wrong… I don’t think Markov will be the captain either,

    it’s just you mention cammy as leading by example… and well, i think the perfect leading by example candidate is Markov.

    This guy controls the flow of the game every single shift… and even on off nights, he is still one of the best d-men on the ice.

    honestly I would be happy with Gionta or Markov as captain…


    “I like what I’m seeing right now,” assessed Markov. “We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to be.”

  6. notbigbird says:

    Good thoughts. They seem to take us very seriously though. It’s probably a case of the supposedly lesser team getting up more.

  7. SeriousFan09 says:

    I don’t think the rivalry is as significant to Montreal anymore. Over the last 10 years, the Bruins have been our common playoff adversary for the most part. The Bruins have been the more relevant rival to us for a while now, Toronto’s just a team like Buffalo that we play 6 times a year in our division these days. Have we played the Leafs in post-season since the 60s? I don’t think for most of the players, the rivalry really registers with them on a purely Toronto Versus Montreal basis.

    Not that I think we need more Montrealers to rekindle that, we were packed with Quebecois last season and we still turned in some stinkers against them, albeit we also had some nice solid blowouts of them as well, not this year, skin of our teeth stuff every step of the way. I just don’t think we have a team that really considers the Montreal-Toronto rivalry as we fans see it. It’s another team to them more than a mortal enemy. We need that purely for wins of course, but this team just doesn’t seem to regard Toronto as one of those teams they NEED to beat anymore.


    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  8. Natrous says:

    Someone posted an interview between Dominic Moore and Toronto 590 yesterday, who was quoted as saying something along the lines of “Markov introduced himself to me and Hal Gill piped up saying ‘That’s the last thing you’ll hear from him all season'”.

    IMO, Markov is our MVP and we won’t win without him. For that reason, I would LOVE to see him extended through to age 40 or so in order to remain a Hab for life, however that doesn’t mean that he should be our captain. He doesn’t step up, and when he does (see his words to Carey earlier in the season), it’s labeled as a non-factor and something that happens all the time (which I’m sure it does).

    Guys that don’t ever take a shift off (Cammi, Gionta) should be considered despite their lack in physical size. They both bring more heart and talent than most guys bigger than them, and either would make me proud of our captain if they were named. Ideally, I would love to see both guys be co-captains going into the playoffs.

    Speaking of which, WTH kind of team goes into the playoffs without a captain???

  9. notbigbird says:

    The Leafs always, or almost always, outplay us. I don’t know why this continues to shock and confound people although I agree to not understand WHY we play them like this against them.

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