About last night …

Who would have thought Canadiens would get goals from Michael Ryder, Christopher Higgins, Saku Koivu … and still lose?

Back to the drawing board for the shut-down game.

As Mike Komisarek learned – and he will learn, because Komisaurus is a bright guy – cross-ice passes can be dangerous … especially when you’re protecting a one-goal lead and Evgeni Malkin has just left the penalty box.

As Alex Kovalev should have known, penalties are not good in tie games.

Ditto for Roman Hamrlik, who had Canadiens playing shorthanded for two minutes while they were trying to regain momentum late in the third period.

Mo was fickle last night.

Coming back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits,  Canadiens seemed to  have the wind in their sails. But the PP during Malkin’s penalty was a mess, and the wind shifted suddenly when he brought the Penguins back.

The list of Canadiens who suffered through off nights would include Andrei Markov, Cristobal Huet, Tomas Plekanec, Kovalev and Guillaume Latendresse.

Gui! has been invisible for a while. He needs either new linemates or a hot dog night.

Some observations:

• The front page of the Journal du Montréal on Thursday had Montrealers smelling the Cup. There was a different smell at the Bell Centre last night, but hey, stuff happens.

• Pittsburgh is good. They have a terrific nucleus of young talent – even without Crosby. And a team with allegedly questionable D held Canadiens to 21 shots on home ice.

• The league’s Russian superstars are doing a number on Canadiens. Alex Ovechkin lit them up a couple weeks ago. Last night it was Malkin. And Ilya Kovalchuk is here on Tuesday. 

• Canadiens’ power-play was 2-for-2 before soiling the bed during Malkin’s penalty.

• Saku Koivu was excellent. The Captain is alive and well for the stretch run.

• Sergei K. gets better every game. You don’t want to break up the Pleks line, but I’d love to see the Brothers K together.

• Max Lapierre tries – God knows, opponents find him very trying – but no one sparks this team like Steve Bégin.

• If Michael Ryder had played all season like he’s played the last few games, he’d be closing in on another 30. 

• Mark Streit is in a bit of a funk.

Let’s see what Carey Price and some new lines can do on Bob Gainey Night. 

 

151 Comments

  1. likehoy says:

    agreed…i echo your tomas vokoun sentiments…or even mathieu garon now.

    Halak deserves a chance, pointe finale.

  2. likehoy says:

    I’ve made the comparison before and I’ll make it again: Brad Richards will be Mike Ribeiro part 2. Soft, skilled, big headed. 7.8 million a year is enough to say about his head. That’s more than Vinny Lecav and who out there really thinks Richards is a more complete player than Lecav?

    Another telling fact is that he needs teammates to play well…if we complain Koivu has no wingers, then Richards will have no wingers…If we want to pay for a centre…we should pay for Jokinen…at least he can play alone since he’s been doing it since he got to Florida.

    The maritimer just wants a maritimer on his team ;).

  3. Bill H says:

    Sure there is a chance. It depends on what Huet’s market value is. If BG gets an offer on Huet and Ryder (whose market value has just taken a good bounce) that could improve the club, that would leave Price and Halak in nets. They would both get their chance to prove they can do it.

    Now that Ryder is playing better, it seems a shame to trade him. But a hot streak of 4 games does not guarantee a return to his former goal scoring. And I suspect he is gone at the end of the season anyway. Given what he has been through, why would he want to continue with the Canadiens. He’ll be looking for a change in scenery and someone will offer him a solid contract in the hopes that he can bring some goalscoring and some of that new found defensive responsibility.

    Huet is the same…gone at the end of the season. Its wishful thinking that he would sign with us so he can mentor Price. He’s got a chance to go for big bucks and long term. He’s worth more to someone else than he is to us because we are so deep with young goaltenders.

    But in both cases, it depends if they offer meets our needs. Bob won’t give either player away. If he doesn’t get a good offer, he will keep both players.

  4. likehoy says:

    habs kryptonite: cristobal huet every other night.

  5. G-Man says:

    Not if he wants a legitimate shot at the cup.

    Gilbert

  6. MikeL says:

    I understand your point, and it’s a very legitimate one. I just think it’s worth the risk. And the experience factor isn’t really a huge issue. Price went on a AHL playoff run and won the championship last year. Huet is more mature, yes…but he really doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience either. He has played one series and he wasn’t exactly awesome.

  7. The Teacher says:

    Offer Huet a one year deal?

    Don’t you think he would just laugh at it?

  8. G-Man says:

    If Brad Richards is trade bait, I wonder if Ottawa wanted him for Redden, who refused to waive his NTC?
    Campbell ain’t 6 million dollars good, period. I’m still thinking to go with what we have, offer Huet a 1 year deal. I’d hate to see any of the youngbloods traded for a too old prime of his contract type player. Adding young Grabovsky in the near future, along with Chipchura and this team is deep. And when I think of the D that’s coming up the pipeline, I ask, why trade anyone who is helping us right now for someone who MIGHT fit in?

    Gilbert

  9. JF says:

    Fun practice or not, I think the danger going into last night’s game was that the team would still be riding the high from Tuesday’s comeback. A lot of the guys said before the game that they still didn’t have their feet on the ground. I think they had trouble getting properly focused. But the longer=term effect of the win on Tuesday has to be good.

  10. The Kid says:

    I disagree. There is no doubt that Carey is going to be one of the premier goalies in this league, but he’s not there yet. We’ve already seen what a brief rough patch can do to the kid’s psyche: one bad game and he starts letting in unscreened wristers from just inside the blue line. Neither goalie has been playing to their full potential of late, but it’s reassuring to the players and coaches to know that if one of them has a bad game, you have an equally good goalie anxious to get in net.

    Aside from all that, if Huet gets dealt and Carey is left by himself, we have NO back-up. Don’t say Halak or Danis because they are both rookies with the same minimal experience as price. If carey were to get injured or start playing poorly, the team would be finished.

  11. RussianProspect says:

    Hey guys check out this blog

    http://habsexpress.blogspot.com/

    Mostly for all Habs fans, includes info, speculation and we want your comments and your insight.

    Enjoy

  12. MikeL says:

    I’ve been saying this for quite a while now, but I’m gonna bring it up again. I think the Habs should deal Huet and get some return assets. Huet is a good, but not great, goalie. I do not think he is good enough to go on a playoff run tho. Price is no better than Huet at the moment, but the potential is there. Why not take a chance and see if that potential comes out in the playoffs? If the Habs ever went on a playoff run, I think it would be Price in nets.

  13. nightmare_49 says:

    That was meant to be a complement Stat-ic Ed , lol. A stat on time.

  14. showey47 says:

    He could at least be a very good back up. The thing that crossed my mind today while talking about goaltending is. What would of happened if halak started the last game against the laffs last year and won. Carbo would probably of had little choice but to start halak for the playoffs,since he is the guy who got us there. Say if halak stole a series or two then get eliminated, where would of this left huet coming into this season? Possibly an expensive back up.

    Instead we have the possibility of having the best goalie in the ahl bolting to the russian super league if he can’t get a spot with the habs. I would hate to trade him because he has tom vokoun written all over him if we do.

  15. 9410 says:

    Also they have no first rounder this year, and its a doozy of a draft.

  16. 9410 says:

    Vokoun really did turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made in the last decade. I pray we learned the lesson, and Halak benefits the organization as one of a growing number of late-round draft pick gems.

  17. Rogie30 says:

    Habs kryptomite.. us fans.

  18. Will Longlade says:

    Anyone out there think that there’s a chance that Halak may emerge as the Hab’s playoff goalie?

  19. 9410 says:

    Realistically I just don’t see any situation where one of the players who have oft been mentioned in the rumor mill, as being a perfect fit in Montreal, with the possible exception of Olli Jokinen. He’s very good offensive player, has years left on his deal, is pretty cheap for his talent, good on face-offs and forward muscle hes not afraid to use. Let’s be honest, Martin will ask for arms, legs, kidneys and everything else he can get. I agree with Booner that we will see Jokinen traded to the west, where the GM’s are going to be trying like crazy to close the gap with Detroit now that Lidstrom seems to be badly hurt. Martin does not need to deal with having Jokinen muss Martin’s always immaculate(and awful)hair, 4 times per season.

    The only thing I see wrong with bringing in Jokinen is where do we put him? If he centres the second line, where do we put Saks(who I don’t really think will be traded since he has picked it up in the last 5 games, has always been our best playoff performer, and he belongs to the Candiens Family which makes him nigh-immovable). We can’t move saku to the third line, and Ollie is less effective from the wing. But this is one of those good problems. The only real knock on Ollie I have heard, is he does not have stellar leadership qualities, and with this group, it should not be a problem to overcome.

    I feel that Gainey will bring in some form of defensive centre who is usually the kind of player who gives a good solid, tough performance in the Second Season. he’ll try to bring in the face off help, and also give more depth to the bottom six. That’s what I feel is what we will get, it wont be too expensive and would add the always necessary grit for the playoffs. But then again I thought we would see Huet traded by now, so I could be wrong yet again. (I don’t think hell be moved, as a side note, which means im out a nice expensive dinner.)

    I wish you all a merry Gainey Day.

  20. nick says:

    Right on. I’ve also heard reports he doesn’t have a great attitude in the dressing room. If true – we don’t need someone like that around.

  21. Bill H says:

    There has been a lot of discussion about scoring, in particular secondary scoring. That is, scoring outside of the top line of Kovalev, Pleks, and K46.

    I’ve done some digging for statistics, focusing on the last 5 games. Of those 5 games, we won 4, scoring 18 goals (including one shoot out goal by Koivu that is not included in his totals) while surrendering 13 goals. These 5 games followed a stretch where we lost 4 out of 5 and we were obviously struggling. So I thought it might be useful to look at the 5 most recent games where we have enjoyed some success.

    During that stretch, Kovalev has been the top performer by far, with 9 Pts and a +/- of +1. Our top line has collectively scored 15 Pts and a +/- of -1, with Pleks in a bit of a slump at only 1A.

    Meanwhile, players not on that top line have scored 12 goals, plus the shootout goal by Koivu.

    Some other notables: Ryder with 4 goals and Higgins with 2 goals. Markov with 7A, but struggling with a +/- of –2. Streit and Lapierre leading the team in +/- at +5 each. Ryder +4, O’Byrne +3 and Bouillon +3.

    Our goal scoring is in pretty good shape, but our team defense, as reflected in goals against is less than stellar. We did well in 2 games, one of them being the shutout by Price. But in 3 games, we surrendered 13 goals, which is quite shabby. This is partly reflected in the +/- and it is why the +/- leaders should be properly recognized for their contribution.

    In summary, I think that our recent success can be attributed to continued scoring on our top line, particularly Kovalev, combined with good secondary scoring, with a new spark from Koivu, Higgins and Ryder. And some solid +/- from Streit, Lapierre, Ryder, O’Byrne and Bouillon. We will be even better when we tighten up a bit and play better team defense.

    Scoring over last 5 games:

    Total GF 18 GA 13

    ———–G——-A——-Pts——+/-
    Kovalev—-4——-5——–9—– +1
    K46——–1——-4——–5—— -1
    Pleks——0——-1——–1—— -1
    Markov—–0——-7——–7—— -2
    Koivu——2——-4——–6——- 0
    Ryder——4——-1——–5—— +4
    Streit—–1——-3——–4——-+5
    Higgins—-2——-0——–2——- 0
    O’Byrne—-0——-2——–2——-+3
    Hamrlik—-1——-0——–1——-+2
    Gorges—–0——-1——–1——-+2
    K76——–0——-1——–1——- 0
    Bouillon—1——-0——–1——-+3
    Lapierre—1——-1——–2——-+5
    Smolinski–0——-1——–1—— -1

  22. Will Longlade says:

    You’re bang on!

  23. Will Longlade says:

    I agree; certain players had forgettable nights, h/e, even when the Habs were down by two, I had a strong sense that they were still in the game and a W was very much within their grasp.

    We’ll have to see how Price and Huet fare down the stretch. There’s no doubt in my mind that Halak will get called up before the end of the season if Huet can’t emerge from his funk and get back on track (assuming he’s not traded before the trade deadline). One of things that I’ve noticed about Huet’s performance since Price returned to the lineup is that he tries to be too “Price-like”. For example, he attempts to handle the puck way too often. This gets him into trouble and puts him off his game. IMO it’s a subconscious thing. The other big knock against Huet is that he has difficulty handling the pressure of big games. IMO this letter factor makes him ex. expendable regardless of what Red Fischer thinks.

  24. Ed says:

    “Static” Ed, huh. Is that as in static electricity? I am really like the Habs, onwards & upwards. :)

  25. Will Longlade says:

    I thought I saw two redirections on the slow motion replay. But then again, I also thought Malkin’s goal on the breakaway was a bit offside.

  26. krob1000 says:

    Habs kryptonite….chances to take over first place in the East.

  27. nightmare_49 says:

    Well Ian , You asked a question and static Ed and Krob responded promptly with no real rebuttal on your part. In the new NHL leads are harder to keep with the new rules and refs don’t put away their whistles in the third period as in the past. Parity (salary cap) has a lot to do with it also. So goals against is a vital guide but what 24 Cups ,i think , mentioned about the differential GF/GA may be more relevant. The uneven schedule and style of play must be considered also.

  28. ebk says:

    I still kinda called him a turd but he certainly doesn’t stink as bad as Smolinski and Dandenault

  29. moser17 says:

    Habs’ kryptonite: Russian forwards and Québécois goalies.

  30. showey47 says:

    I actually think it hit lats first then hit dandy and off huet and in

  31. HabsInBlood says:

    I’m going to check again when I get home from work (reminder to self: I’m supposed to be working now), but think the 1st goal was only deflected once by Dandenault. 2 deflections if you’re including Huet’s trapper ;-)

  32. HabsInBlood says:

    Well, if you fans hadn’t been cheering so loud, maybe the players would have heard him banging his stick :-)

  33. HKisses says:

    D was that bad….i was at the game… Huet was banging his stick to let everyone know Malkin is comming out of the box, but no one even had turned around to cover him until he had the puck… Bad defence? Yes

  34. howtathor says:

    Richards may be (pardon the expression) a poor man’s Hossa meaning that the runner up in the Hossa sweepstakes if they want to make an impact would have to make a play for Richards. I feel that almost certainly we will be saving Huet’s salary next year so maybe we can fit Richards into a 54m dollar cap. Ironically it’s cheaper than what Hossa will be seeking long term.

  35. the Maritimer says:

    Price should be named as the starter and Huet traded. Give the ball to Price and if he falters in a game let Halak come in and clean up.

    Price messed up a couple of times in the playoffs last year in Hamilton, but Don Lever kept going back to him and it paid off. Now, I’m not saying Price will lead Montreal to a Stanley Cup, but let him get there and give him a taste. As Ian says they are probably still a year or two away from being a true contender.

    Personally, I’m hoping that the supposed Hossa deal falls apart and that Gainey’s fall back plan will be Brad Richards.

  36. nick says:

    hmm – he said this the other day didn’t he?

    http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=13528

  37. Chorske says:

    Anyone know if Plekanec is playing hurt or sick? It seems to me his torrid pace has slackened off a bit.

  38. krob1000 says:

    I understand your point and to some degree you are right but this season is wide open and every team in the playoffs is a contender.

  39. Elbacky says:

    “Bob Gainey held a press conference this morning and said that he is actively looking for a top impact forward and has young players he could move to make it happen. More later.”

  40. Ian G Cobb says:

    My point, If we face Ottawa, i think we can take them under play off conditions. They have one line like us without the debth. But take a look at the best goals against record clubs, thats were your Stanely Cup Champs come from each and every year. Very few exceptions.

  41. krob1000 says:

    The game is changing Ian….

    Please check out your history and tell me when the difference in goals against between fifth and 20th was this close before in history. It is a new game now….a hot goalie in the playoffs can mean everything. The difference between fifth and us at 18th is 0.35 goals against/game. Ottawa is in 23rd place ….so I guess they might as well rebuild for next year too.

    http://www.nhl.com/nhlstats/app?formids=PropertySelection_6%2CPropertySelection_7%2CPropertySelection_8%2CSubmit_0&component=reportBuilder.%24Form_0&page=Home&service=direct&submitmode=submit&submitname=&PropertySelection_6=0&PropertySelection_7=0&PropertySelection_8=4&Submit_0=Get+Stats

    Last three Stanley Cup finals

    2006-07 Anaheim (7th in GA) VS Ottawa (10th in GA)
    2005-06 Carolina (19th in GA) vs EDMonton (12th in GA)
    2003-04 Tampa Bay (11th in GA) vs Calgary (3rd in GA)

  42. Ian G Cobb says:

    Sbah– that’s the plan, slow and sure wins the race long term. We all want it now and anything can happen in this game but our team is slowly getting there. The kids need more consistency and seasoning. Two years from now we will be there for years.

  43. nick says:

    Any idea what the press conference is concerning?

  44. Ian G Cobb says:

    Krob- check out your history please and let me know how many teams that were the 20th worst in the league with goals against made any noise in the play offs.

  45. Elbacky says:

    i will translate if only i had RIS, anywhere else to see it?

  46. Sbah Reverof says:

    Agreed. Horse go before cart.
    I like what BG has done, and what’s happening now is just “peanuts with chocolate”, so if we stay focused, stick with the plan, we will surely be what the Red Wings have been for 15 years…a perennial contender and an exciting team.

  47. showey47 says:

    Gainey press conference on RIS and i need someone to translate to english, or i need to learn french, lol

  48. Bill H says:

    Exit, I believe what M00ks meant was that when a young team like the Canadiens becomes relatively successful, and players like Komi, K1, Pleks, Higgins etc become RFA or UFA, the home team will not be able to compete for their services. It has nothing to do with small market. Canadiens will spend up to the cap. But if we go a couple of rounds in the playoffs this year, and maybe farther next year, the players responsible for that success will want big bucks. BG can’t sign them all and stay under the cap. We’ll be producing our own Briere’s.

  49. GPK says:

    Aha. I guess he wasn’t expecting to have to go with Talbot…

  50. krob1000 says:

    If fifth in the league is not a contender then they should just play two playoff rounds and skip the “non contender” rounds. If someone feels like digging how about they post how many times the top teams in each conference during the season have ended up meeting in the finals…..any team that makes the playoffs is a contender. We are a contender…..now.

    Ian there is parity in the league under the cap system and teams don’t stand out the way they once did….even Detroit and Ottawa are vulnerable.

  51. howtathor says:

    It seems to me that when we’ve had our greatest success we’ve been able to shut down the opposing team’s best players. Be it Komi on Sundin or Marky on Ovetchkin, or Max on Crosby. We seem to be getting away from this shutdown strategy in favour of a run and gun style. Don’t get me wrong, I love this style, it’s beautiful to watch but usually ends up with last goal wins! It requires that your goalie make some great saves and if they are having an ordinary night like last night, it’ll be lights out. We have to beat our division rivals at home no less. We’ve lost to the Penguis twice in the last two home games and that is unnacceptable for a team that aspires to be a playoff contender. If we’re going to go deep into the playoffs we’re going to have to play more responsibly in our own end.

    Wishing Bob Gainey all the best on his night and I hope his shopping trip goes well Tuesday!


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