About last night …

Are the Canadiens that good? Or are the Islanders lousy?

The first question will be answered, to some degree, tomorrow night in Buffalo, where the Canadiens begin a home-and-home.

Prospects are good, if they play as well as they did on the Island. It was a very solid team effort, keyed by excellent work from the defencemen. I thoght Roman Hamrlik and Patrice Brisebois were exceptional.

Cristobal Huet faced 44 shots – a season high – but his night kind of duplicated Martin Gerber’s at the Bell Centre. The Islanders were kept to the perimeter for the most part, while the Canadiens did to the Islanders what Ottawa had done to them – cash scoring opportunities.

Canadiens are 7-3-1 on the road, best in the Eastern Conference. The guys on 110% last night said the team plays with greater focus away from the Bell Centre because there are fewer distractions than in Montreal.

There was also some talk about whether the Canadiens need an enforcer. The 110 crew thought that hits like Mike Sillinger’s on the captain and that dirty, late-game shot Mike Richards gave Alex Kovalev will multiply in February and March if other teams perceive that Canadiens lack toughness.

Chris Simon had tried to goad Mike Komisarek into a fight, which would have been a very bad trade-off for the Canadiens.

I’m still with Guy Carbonneau on this. The coach is adamant he doesn’t want some goon who plays two minutes a game. Carbo likes to roll four lines, and I think that will pay off in stamina down the stretch.

It would be great to have a Chris Neil. But players like that are rare in the league.


• Great night for the Bryan Smolinski line. Steve Bégin scored twice. Mathieu Dandenault played as good a forechecking game as we’ve seen this season, and Smolinski bounced back after a few indifferent outings that can be a cause for concern with a player his age.

• What a joy to see Christopher Higgins score a honey of a goal in his hometown. Higgins provided tickets for 66 family members and friends.

• Coming back with Carey Price tomorrow is a bit counter-intuitive after Cristobal Huet stopped 43 of 44. But by laying out his goaltending plans – Price in Buffalo, Huet at the Bell Centre Saturday night – Guy Carbonneau pre-empts the kind of media and fan speculation that leads to a "goaltending controversy."

• We don’t see much of Nick Lidstrom, but there isn’t a better offensive defenceman in the Eastern Conference than Andrei Markov. The skating, the tape-to-tape passing … Marky Mark is somethin’ else.

• What’s with Mark Streit? There are times when he seems nervous, tentaive with the puck. It’s worrisome.

• Here today, goon tomorrow: On 110%, Michel Bergeron pointed out that Jacques Lemaire, arguably the best coach in the NHL, has ALWAYS had a fighter … and sometimes two of ’em. I think Carbo is more highly evolved. 


  1. ClaytonM says:

    He played a good game.

    But Price would have earned the shutout 🙂

  2. ClaytonM says:

    That looks like it will stay a hypothetical match-up. The ducks don’t look playoff bound unless Niedermayer and Selanne rejoin the team. I would love to see Selanne playing on Koivu’s wing. I can’t think of anyone else who’s available who would be a better winger for Saku.

  3. Kevin says:

    do you know if the 1993 Cup run is available on DVD?

  4. ebk says:

    There isn’t a team in the league who couldn’t use Wendel Clark. They may have been bigger than Wendel, not to many were stronger.

  5. Naila Jinnah says:

    But Price didn’t play any regular season games… just the playoffs. That’s why I didn’t include him 😉

  6. jody1974 says:

    Or ask Nilan to join the Habs and he can teach our younger players in the AHL how to be like him.

  7. jody1974 says:

    Hello Mr. Teacher

    Can you please tell me when Mr. Ryder will score again??

  8. showey47 says:

    you forgot price who pretty much won the calder cup by himself

  9. the_vipah says:

    The habs lack of toughness will wear them down through injuries. They either need some bigger forwards who can hit or atleast one guy who can make an appearance now and then to make sure everyone plays nice, I would love to see someone try and lay out Alfie with that same hit that Sillinger tried on Koivu.

    Highly evolved? Thats nonsense. If one team is full of fast, skilled, soft players and another team comes in with less fast, less skilled, hardnosed players…Team A is toast. Period.

    Think of a hypothetical Anaheim vs. Montreal in the playoffs. Slaughter.

  10. notbigbird says:

    Maybe this piece (or these pieces) will fall into place down the road somewhere when we are more likely to be contenders. Maybe someone will want to trade for some of the smaller and faster players that we have coming up. Of course, I’m not really up on the size of these up-and-comers, so perhaps there is more there than I am aware of.

    Not to worry about the spelling.

  11. kevin m says:

    Before you go any further I want to remind you that I’m a Habs fan “InsideOut”. But…

    What the Habs need is a player like this:
    Wendel Clark
    5’11” 195 lbs
    330 Goals
    564 Points
    1690 Pims


    If there was ever a prototypical hockey player, this was it.
    Almost every fight he had in the NHL was against bigger & stronger men. The only thing that they all forgot to consider is “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog”.

    For those of you who think that you can teach fighting to someone who doesn’t really have the stomach for it… forget it.

    Go Habs Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Grabs says:

    Habs vs Islanders 1993 on NHLNET.

  13. yukonhab says:

    Good team effort lastnight, have to agree Streit is kinda out of his element. Maybe he wants to play forward also now that Dandy has been rejuvenated…hee.hee…Alot of postives to take from the game, WE have 4 pretty deadly lines, atleast working as a unit and supporting and working off each others shift. I don’t want to have a goon on our bench, just 23 guys willing to back each other up in any circumstance….Ryder to his credit is SLOWLY becoming more than a goal scorer, playing tough and creating chances…i love this team and where it is going….GO HABS GO!!!!

  14. The Teacher says:

    P.S. sorry for mis-typing your name 🙂

  15. The Teacher says:

    That’s pretty much what I mean nothingbird, I don’t agree with getting someone like Boogard or Ben Eager.

    I would much prefer a big, tough RW or LW to play on the first line with Koivu-Rtyder or Koivu-Higgins. Someone who can drop the gloves if need be, but that would just be a by-product of his character, sticking up for his teamates.

    Looking around the league, I don’t see too many guys like that who would be available. Is Gui that guy? I dunno, but he REALLY needs to work on his skating.

    – Ryder and Higgins both like to handle the puck
    – Ryder isn’t good at cycling the puck down low, which is what higgins and Koivu like to do
    – Higgins, although I love him, seems relunctant to pass after he turns his afterburners on and prefers to get a shot away, which is fine

    Do we NEED to make a change, no not necessarily, but in order to become contenders, that role needs to be filled.

  16. Alirio says:

    Leave the gun, grab the canoles

    I’ve made a huge mistake…

  17. Naila Jinnah says:

    Chipchura was a big part of the team, and Ajay Baines, one of the leaders in the locker room and on the ice is still sidelined with a knee injury sustained at camp. You can be sure that if those guys were there the ‘Dogs would be in much better shape.

  18. nightmare_49 says:

    It’s sad to hear of the passing of Tom Johnson and he was quiet a player in the shadow of the great Doug Harvey and it’s not easy to win the Norris Trophy as he did. It would be nice to see our coaching staff wearing black bow ties for Saturday’s game at the Bell Center in memory of the Hall of Famer. Tom Johnson trademark was the bow tie and was a sharp dresser besides being a great athlete.

  19. notbigbird says:

    Put me down as one who does not think we need a goon. But about two more big bodies who could handle themselves would be nice, perhaps a big defenceman like O’Byrne and a good-size forward. First and foremost, we want hockey players, but just a little more size and toughness would probably be beneficial. Mind you, I imagine that most clubs would like to add two big talented players, and trades are no longer easy to make.

  20. Yeats says:

    It’s time to go to the mattresses!

  21. likehoy says:

    if we have such good young talent, how come the bulldogs are playing so poorly?? could it be a coaching thing?

    they’ve only lost chipper and grabs and kostitsyn (kostitsyn only played half the year anyways), off years for everyone??

  22. Kevin says:

    With regard to adding a tough guy on the second line, I was thinking the exact same thing earlier this season. It would be a good thing to try when the second line starts slumping, if they ever do. (Not trying to jinx anything here!) Sean Avery has worked wonders in New York.

    I think having a bigger and tougher defense would help. Once O’Byrne fills out his 6’5 frame and learns how to fight (which I hope is soon), we’ll be 1 defenceman short of having a big man on the ice for every shift. Although neither Komisarek nor O’byrne is an enforcer, they are big, tough and intimidating enough.

  23. Plek-Andrew says:

    I’m Christian. I believe in peace.

    But dammit do I love a good fight.

  24. The Ian Cobb says:

    Yeats I got the picture, and that is what is so much fun for me now, everything is first time for me now, i could not read comics until the last few years.

  25. Yeats says:

    I’m not a fan of fighting, but I really did enjoy “Chris Nilan’s Night of Fun” on Youtube.

  26. Yeats says:

    Ian: The boys could use a few Charles Atlas classes. Remember those ads in comic books? Don’t get sand kicked in your face anymore at the beach!

  27. The Teacher says:

    Habs Kat,

    I like your idea of having a hard hitting guy on each line to create room, but I don’t know if we have the guys to play on those lines. Gui is just too slow to play with Kovalev and anyone, and hard pressed to imagine him keeping up with a Koivu/Ryder Koivu-Higgins line.

    We can always try them out and see if they work, but Gui REALLY needs to work on his skating in the summertime.

    On another note, do you think that John Ferguson and Chris Nilan have made our organization any less classy?

    It is my opinion that eliminating fighting is a bad thing for hockey.

    What are the three (OK, 4) things a fan gets out of their seat for?

    1. A goal
    2. A fight
    3. A REALLY big save
    4. The shootout (but I hate it)

  28. JasonM says:

    That is an cut pic Kat!

    GO HABS GO! 🙂

  29. Yeats says:

    The two best examples of the type of line that you are talking about that come to mind immediately were Beliveau-Cournoyer-Ferguson and Bossy-Gilles-Trottier.

  30. The Ian Cobb says:

    Gee by the sounds of you guys maybe i better start heavyer wind sprints to get ready. If anyones fist were to hit me now they would loose it in my tenderness. LARD

  31. Ed says:

    I thought at the beginning of the year that he would be brought up sooner rather than later. He had 6 points in his first 2 games & was +6, & 8 points after 3 games. However, he has not done so well offensively since then, but I also think that he could help the team. Rugger has a good point about how much he might play. Just look at Gorges & Grabovski. I am sure he will be up before the year is over. Here are Hamilton’s current stats.


  32. CH1909-2009 says:

    I think he must be playing hurt because he never shied away from the heavy gong in the first 15 games of the season, only recently. I hope everything’s alright with him becasue his puck-moving skills and ice-vision are a great compliment to our big 3 on D.


  33. habfan53 says:

    I agree he’s playing with heart but with Begin, Bouillon and Brisebois doing the same that’s 3 defenceman and a defensive forward doing the same.
    I was just saying earlier that a the start of the year he seemed a lot more confident. Carbonneau has shown (Gorges, Huet) that you can make mistakes or have an off game and he is going to come back to you.

  34. JasonM says:

    Any chance to get Chris Nilan to come out of retirement?

  35. Habs-Kat says:

    I’d like to see Gorges suit up on the blueline more often. He’s not yet a veteran player, but he has plenty of NHL experience. He can still develop into something great with the kind of speed and potential he has. Perhaps taking Streit’s place on the blueline for a night might wake him (Streit) up.

    As for the goon issue, all that getting an enforcer will do is diminish the team’s reputation around the league. It might make the team “tougher” in the eyes of other players, but other players will also see the team as having less integrity. I liked the idea of Kostopoulos on the first line. In fact, I like the idea of having one hard-hitting and intimidating forward on each line to create room and security for two other more skilled players. Kovalev, Plekanec, and Kostitsyn are great, but I think that they’d do even better if they had more room to work with. Kovalev can be strong, but he’s still a finesse-style player. Who’s gonna stop a Steve Downie running a muck against Plekanec, Kovalev (who has already been a victim of cheap shots this season), or Kostitsyn? Keep Gui on the second line, or even Kostopoulos. Playing with two very talented linemates will make a Chris Neil out of any tough guy.

  36. Rugger says:

    I would think it is most likely that it is just that they do not need to bring him up and sit 3 out of every 4 games. Better to play every day.

  37. Will Longlade says:

    Mark Streit has been playing a very tentative game lately. IMO, he’s better suited to playing forward on a day-to-day basis. As a forward he would be able to better utilize his offensive skills; take less punishment; and the Habs could continue to utilize him on the right point for the power play. He plays with a lot of heart, so it’s easy to overlook his defensive deficiencies and the lack of a physical dimension to his game.

  38. ebk says:

    Does anyone out there have any clue as to what Max Lapierre has done to be buried so deep in Carbo’s doghouse. They have a roster spot open and they are yet to call someone up. Lapierre showed last year that he is quite capable of playing on the fourth line and being a Begin-like pain in the ass. So why no call up?

  39. Ed says:

    I am sure that the Gazette and HIO will have something on Tom Johnson tomorrow. He was a good one to play all those years with a team as strong as the HABS were in that era.

  40. habfan53 says:

    I just saw that Tom Johnson passed away this morning.

  41. Plek-Andrew says:

    I’m just gonna go on record and say two words.

    Cristobal. Huet.

  42. Yeats says:

    The three stars on the official score sheet were: 1.) Huet, 2.) Begin and 3.) Dandy. Streit has been looking pretty tender out there lately.

  43. habfan53 says:

    Is anybody else concerned with Mark Streits play of late.

    I have’nt seen to many comments on Begin’s game last night
    I assume he was the 1st star (I had to go with 8 minutes left) . I liked that he was after Charra 3 times on Saturday.

  44. likehoy says:

    every thing’s going well so far…but we gotta beat the sens first before we start tooting our horns…

  45. HabsProf says:

    I watched the game on the US Centre Ice package, so I got the Islanders feed. One of the game keys that the Islanders commentators mentioned was the “Rangers hangover” phenomenon. Apparently, the Isles tend to have poor games after their emotional contests with their cross-town (or cross-isle) rivals. That may have been part of the problem with the team last night, since they just played the Rangers on Monday.

    One game is only one game – no team plays in top form all games (witness Montreal against Buffalo last Friday). Habs are good, but so are the Islanders. We were just better last night (and oh, it felt good).

    Side note – it is nice to see Nolan back in the league, and with what he is doing with his team, I think some GMs and owners are starting to wonder why they honoured the blackballing he received.

  46. CH1909-2009 says:

    By fearlessly I just meant even putting himself in that monster’s path… actually fighting him would have been quite dumb, I grant you that.


  47. CH1909-2009 says:

    Those are telling stats, Ian, and also the top-notch PP. Also, on an individual level, you have Komisarek 2nd in hits and blocked shots, Markov regarded best in the East, and the PK must be getting up there after last night’s 7/7. Things are definitely falling into place! A little fine tuning and look out!


  48. The Ian Cobb says:

    I disagree, He turtled, doing the right thing and put us on the power play instead of exchangeing blows with that goon. Team players do that. and anyway it was large man against a large boy. Smart always wins!!

  49. P St. Pierre says:

    A Chris Neil would definantly be an asset to have on this team. I also wouldn’t mind Gorges Laraque in a Habs uniform either. He’s maybe not as talented as Neil, but he brings more of a presence and can still take a fairly regular shift. Laraque is very intimidating as well.

    I loved the game last night, Montreal played well and they looked solid, especially in their own zone. A much better effort than the one against Ottawa. They may have been caught up too much in the Boston game to remember how to play defense.

    By the way Mike, I love these “About last night…” blogs. They provide a nice recap and make it easier to focus on what needs to be changed and what the team did well.

  50. CH1909-2009 says:

    Latendresse could be Chris Neil type influence if he did two things: work, and fight. With his size and hitting ability (he does have a mean streak, too) he could be and intimidating fator for anyone who wants to run around on the star players. He’s good enough as a third liner that he’s not wasting a roster spot like some WWE wrestler in skates, but on the other hand if you lose him for 5 you’re not down one of your big stars. We saw a flash of guts displayed by Guy the other night in Boston, when he rather fearlessly (and futile-ly[?]) went after Chara. Do it more often, Guy!


  51. The Ian Cobb says:

    Every week i like to check out the three stats that tells me how the team is doing compared to the rest of the league. The first and most important one is goals against. Well we sit 6th out of 30 teams, we have to tighten this up a little with 55.

    Second, goals for, we now have 67 third best in the league behind Carolina and Detroit, this is very good.

    Third, total points 27 again 3rd in the league behind Ottawa and Detroit. Can’t ask for much better than that for a team that was not picked by many to not make the playoffs.

    This is a very good franchise now, soon to be #1 again!!!

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