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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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:
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.