About last night …

We need a laugh today, and it doesn’t get funnier than a brawl in Lingerie Football.

Hey, when it’s time to drop the flippers, your Montreal Canadiens could kick the thongs off either of those teams.

Sorry, I get a little giddy as the days count down to Christmas.

But, seriously folks …

Andrei Markov was injured in the final game of the regular season and missed the playoffs in 2008-’09.

He missed 37 regular season games and 11 playoff games last season.

Markov will miss 75 regular-season games this season … and the playoffs, if the Canadiens get to the postseason.

Too pessimistic?

Maybe so.

But the team has never felt the loss of Markov more acutely than during the recent slump.

For an analysis of Markov’s value, I refer you to my great and good friend JT.

From where I’m sitting, the D is a shambles.

The Old Czechs are a year older than they were when filing in so admirably fo Markov last season.

Josh Gorges is playing hurt. Last night probably was his worst game in two years.

Hal Gill is great on the PK but decent, at best, 5-on-5.

P.K. Subban is an exciting Dman – in many ways.

Alexandre Picard is a hardworking journeyman. The Canadiens are his fifth NHL team.

The D is old, slow, soft and lacks puck-moving ability.

The forwards help in Jacques Martin’s system.

And there have been nights when Carey Price has been lights-out.

But if any of those crucial components are missing …

 

 

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I’ll admit to a bit of a fetish about defencemen. I don’t love them as much as Stubbs loves goaltenders, but hey, the pope doesn’t love baby Jesus as much as my man David loves goaltenders.

Defence is difficult. With the exception of guys like Bobby Orr (for me, the best to ever lace up), it takes a while to master D at the NHL level.

We’re seeing growing pains with P.K.; and after the Yannick Weber call-up, the cupboard is bare in Hamilton.

Because of their strong start and unless they go 0-7 on this road swing the Canadiens likely will limp into 2011 in the top tranche of the Eastern Conference.

But they need help on the blueline. So I know what I want for Christmas.

And as explained in that excellent Basu piece, the forwards have to do a better job of puck support. That goal by Karlis Skrastins was a mess: four white jerseys standing around ineffectually while Price was doing the backstroke had Benoit Brunet delivering one of his best Oy-Oy-Oys of the season.

On the other hand, it’s tough to criticize an effort that limited the top team in the Western Conference to 17 shots.

Dallas was opportunistic.

And the Canadiens can’t finish.

If Benoit Pouliot hustles on his 2-on-1 break with Max Lapierre, it’s 3-2 and an interesting game.

But Benny did not turn on the jets.

•  •  •

Speaking of the forwards, what were your thoughts watching Brenden Morrow mug Alexandre Picard in a 5-2 game?

I was thinking: “Gee, it would be great to have that guy.”

Or Adam Burish or James Neal or … any forward with size and scoring ability.

Max Pacioretty – seven SoG and a willingness to go into the dirty areas – shows signs of becoming that guy.

Let’s hope.

•  •  •

Apart from being deked by Stéphane Robidas and sliding out of the play on the sequence that led to Burish’s goal, Lars Eller played a decent game on the Tomas Plekanec line.

The kid worked hard, but the line was not physical and okayed on the perimeter.

The stat sheet says Pleks had five SoG. I can’t remember any of them.

You have to think Jacques Martin will bring AK46 back against Carolina.

•  •  •

Can we all agree it’s a good thing Scott Gomez’s injury was minor?

•  •  •

Contrary to my Quick Hits riff, Jacques Martin won’t bag-skate the Canadiens this morning.

He’s cancelled practice.

But it should be a lively morning skate in Carolina tomorrow.

•  •  •

Stat of the Night: Dallas skaters blocked 20 shots.

That’s eight more than Carey Price.

•  •  •

A guest Comment from spos080808:

You look at the 5 goals tonight and the minimal amount of shots on Price.

But
(1) A deflection off a glove, (2) A breakaway, (3) A scrum in front of
the net where the pucks get dug out of Price’s pads, (4) A deflection
off Gorges stick, and (5) a deflection from the slot.

I have a
hard time faulting Price on any of these. I want, I want to say he let
the team down just like they let him down. But he did everything he
could tonight, including a sick save when the score was 3-0. 

Sure
maybe he could have been better on the breakaway, but a breakaway is a
crapshoot. Then you have 3 deflections and a scrum in front of the net.

Some are saying he is tired?

I
think this game tonight proves nothing. Based on the goals scored, it
would not have mattered if this was his 15th start or 50th start in a
row.

A fluky night in terms of the goals scored on him and you
could tell he was pissed off. Yes, the team did not deserve to win, and
yes the team played very poorly in the Dzone and nuetral zone, but those
goals tonight, you do not see those go in on the vast majority of
nights.

BUT when you are playing well, you make your own luck,
like against Boston. When you are not playing well, like tonight, those
bounces go against you.

HUGE game v. Carolina because a loss
inches Carolina closer to the 8th spot which could soon enough make
Boston or Montreal out of the playoffs!!

 

32 Comments

  1. madcap_habsfan says:

    Can somebody explain to me why, if Gorges is injured, he’s still playing? Seems like a bad desicion for him in the long run, and I’m not saying this for any other reason then curiosity

     

     

    -“People have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.” Chuck Palahniuk

  2. madcap_habsfan says:

    Can somebody explain to me why, if Gorges is injured, he’s still playing? Seems like a bad desicion for him in the long run, and I’m not saying this for any other reason then curiosity

     

     

    -“People have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.” Chuck Palahniuk

  3. HabFanSince72 says:

    Yay Timo!

    You tell’em dude!

     

  4. longtimehabsfan says:

    So the fast start has come to an abrupt halt.  Will this year become like 06-07 and 08-09 or will it be more like 07-08?  In all three of those years we came out fast only to hit a slump similar to this one.  Twice we plummeted and only once did the team pull out of it to finish strong. 

  5. habs-hampton says:

    Just curious as to why the Habs always get screwed with this Christmas road trip. The Leafs get 5 days off, while the Habs will be home long enough to pack some new suits and underwear, grab a turkey sandwich and head back to the airport. It happens every year.

  6. Timo says:

    We don’t need strong forwards with scoring ability. We have forwards with 8, 6, 6 and 5 million dollar salaries and personalities that media just loves to eat up. Some people are just never happy.

  7. New says:

    The way the Montreal Canadiens win is to play Martin’s game. Every game they have to wait for a chance, cash in, and keep the shots by the opposition outside. In case no one has noticed Martin’s game is boring.  When the team is winning it is fine. When the team is losing it really sucks.

    I don’t think there are too many players who can buy in for 82 games to play Martin’s game. Certainly not for two seasons. You can’t win that way. There has to be more to your game. You have to be able to win 7-5, 9-0, 2-1, it doesn’t matter. You have to reach the playoffs then be able to take the majority of your games.

    Now the screaming will start as it usually does. The blame game. All that happened here is the players saw what they could do in the playoffs before they folded against Philly. That and the usual hype started them off with a full house and pumped. The other teams are now smartening up. They don’t want to get too far behind. Montreal is tired. You can’t play on emotion and with discipline that much and not be tired. The mental stamina is not there. Excuses are starting: No Markov, the D is old, Subban is young, Picard is a journeyman. Yet when the team was winning they were all fine?

    Players are players. Lapierre habitually takes dumb penalties at crucial times, but plays. AK plays a solid but streaky game and sits? These guys are not motivated and I find it hard to blame them. This is their livelyhood, is a long and hard grind of exhausting shifts, and the press/fans ride them any minute they aren’t on the ice and between periods. I have news for you. Speed kills but calm, cool, and collected wins.

    Sadly Montreal usually plays their best against teams with good records. When they lose those there isn’t much left but the teams with bad records.  The way things work in Montreal the fans and press will be screaming for the return of ‘Alak while Price will be written in as the All Star goalie.

  8. Richrebellion says:

    I think the team seems a lot worse than they actually are, they need to score the first goal of the game or atleast the second. The problem is that Carey Price isn’t getting the bounces anymore, as said above most of the shots were tips or deflections which never seemed to happen to Carey before. He is still one of the best in the league and I have no doubt he will return to his shutdown ways its only a matter of time. 

    I do agree the habs need another top 4 d man who can eat minutes, even if they dont have the offensive touch taking mins from spacek, gill and hamrlik will only make this team better. I like Regher in Calgary since he can play lots of mins and would add a physical presence to our d corp. 

  9. BC HAB says:

    I think the problem with the habs right now is Martin. He screwed up the chemistry of this team big time with his stupid line juggling. You should never mess with successful lines. I would like to see Pleks, Cammy, and AK back together, PHD back together, and Max Pac, Gionta, Gomez together.  Every one of these lines have had success this season, and Martin messed with them.

    This team was awsome for around the first dozen games or so. The only problem was finding someone to play on the Gomez/Gionta line. Now we have problems everywhere. The only descent line right now is the Gomez line. I wonder how long before Martin messes with it.

    In my opinion Martin eff’d up AK’s strong start. Is it any coincidence that his play went down south right around the time Martin started tinkering.

    We have serious problems folks. At one point yesterday I even felt like throwing eggos at my tv.

  10. Chorske says:

    It’s our annual December meltdown.

    It’s like the grinch on TV, ice storms, traffic disruptions, hangovers, and huge credit card bills. Come January, we’ll be wondering what came over us.

  11. mbplekfan says:

    Lumping AK in with the lunch bucket brigade does him a serious disservice. He’s only our third leading scorer. But if thats the bubble there’s lots more on it.

    Even with Markov playing the Habs are not a cup contender. They make the playoffs but without stellar goaltending they go out first or second round.

    The defence cannot compete over the length of the playoffs against the best forwards. PG knows this, as does JM. It takes time to bring in the right players. This summer is all about retooling the defence.

    We have a good set of forwards. They just have trouble on some nights when the defence isnt contributing on offense.

    Nobody expects or even believes the Habs will go deep again. We just dont have the right mix.

  12. redgorf says:

    redgorf

    Why does a team trade for a centre and make him play wing or agood D right handed and play left especialy if they are young players. Where is webber he’s full of energy and better than Spachec .

     

  13. Chorske says:

    I’m betting we won’t see any movement of personnel until February. This is the first time the team has faltered all year, and it is certainly too soon to sound any major alarms or make any major changes. This team was winning fine without Markov, and it will find a way to do so again. With Markov’s salary off the books, the Habs have all kinds of room to sign a big rental for a long run- why blow that load now, and sign someone just as the team starts to stumble?

    My guess is that PG looks at the team and where it sits and how competitive it is through January, and we don’t see anything except minor changes until then, callups and the like. Weber should be playing, it is ridiculous that he is sitting while Picard struggles. And as frustrating as he can be, AK needs to play through his slump. No way a guy like him should be sitting.

    As for them going all the way– I don’t think we have the horses. But then, I predicted an early playoff exit last year. So WTF do I know. But looking at COL and CHI and DET and PHI and PITT and *gasp* ATL (how does Atlanta do it, year after year?), I am not sure we measure up. We seem to be a bit too easy to throw off our game… and we can’t manage a comeback to save our lives.

  14. HardHabits says:

    The Habs in my estimation are a work in progress, a relatively young and new team.

    There is the current leadership core on offence: Gionta, Cammalleri, Plekanec, Gomez

    The Youth: Pacioretty, Pouliot, Eller

    Those on the bubble: Pyatt, Kostitsyn, Lapierre, Darche, Halpern

    And 1 player signed until 12/13: Moen

    I hope the Habs can land two bruising scoring vets to compliment the smurfs. The last two 4th line spots could be sought out easily from FA or from the farm. AK46 I hope doesn’t return. Laps, meh. Halpern’s price will go up no doubt.

    On defence with the loss of Markov a huge and I mean huge hole has been created, not just in the immediate impact to losing that #1 puck moving defence man, but in all that such a player brings to the ice in terms of training and development for the younger and rookie defence men coming up through the ranks. Markov’s loss is huge and it is one the Habs are going to need to address if they have hopes of making it to the Cup finals. Players that look good in the system are Nash, Weber and Carle (if he can stay healthy). Nevertheless, defence is a difficult position to play and it takes time to develop a player as we are seeing with PK. The cupboards can’t just be pilfered. It is my opinion that having Hamilton competitive is important as that is where the Habs players are being developed. The culture of winning is learned through experience. It’s easier to develop in systems that have success as well.

    I see the Habs needing to sign ASAP a #1 veteran defence man. I am worried about Markov’s ability to recover from his injury. Even so the time-line completely disrupts the Habs ability to progress. How many steps back without Markov will the Habs take and will his return move them more steps ahead? I think not.

    Next season the Habs have Spacek and Subban. I can see Weber in the mix. I am sure Gorges will be resigned. That leaves Gill, Hamrlik, and Picard on the bubble. So with Spacek, Subban, Weber and Gorges, two solid defence men are needed.

    In nets, one would figure that Ramo would provide suitable support for Price. Price is #1 now, unless he falters big time, but I still like the idea of having two solid GTs and splitting the work load 65%-35%.

    Moving forward the Habs are in tight. They need two more top 6 forwards, unless Pouliot and MaxPax prove to be the real deal, and without a doubt a #1 defence man, a veteran, and hopefully a bruiser. I’d kill to have a Chara or a Pronger, and if not then a Shea Weber. Whatever. The Habs don’t have a #1 D-man and without it they can’t lay claim to being a contender.

    The Habs can still can go all the way with the current line up, if the stars align and it’s true that the ghosts have finally found their way to the Bell Centre, but they don’t look like they can. Presuming they will at this point is a stretch. They’re a very good team, but are showing their cracks. Still, just under elite is a good considering the rebuild and they look like a team that can improve. Time will tell if they do.

  15. Chorske says:

    He’s probably a pretty decent guy to have a beer with. Er.

  16. Big Ted says:

    At this point, the Habs D is bad enough that it can’t be picky at seeking out superstars only. Henry was very serviceable in his call-up previously and he looked decent in the pre-season too. At the very least, the D could use someone who can actually clear the front of the net and it wouldn’t hurt to have a guy who’s a bit more physically intimidating.

  17. Habnofear says:

    Sounds like Darche….just saying.

  18. Captain aHab says:

    JM really showed AK, didn’t he? The team can lose just the same without him.

    Can’t wait to see the lines for next game.

    If Gorges is injured, can he sit please?

    Desharnais – 4 points last night and the Habs need O…..can we perhaps just try him in case it actually works out?

    As I said yesterday, leave the two top lines together, bring up Desharnais and play him with Pouliot and AK and see if he can make them more consistent. Habs have nothing to lose based on what I saw last night.

  19. Big Ted says:

    Martin has showed zero coach’s intuition this year. He was wrong about teaching Subban a lesson (it made him more tentative), he was wrong about sitting AK (it obviously taught the team nothing), he was wrong about keeping Moen on the Gomez line for so long (as soon as Pacioretty joined them, the line caught fire), he was wrong about taking AK and cammy off the Pleks line in the first place (the one line that was doing well at the start of the year lost all its chemistry and hasn’t found it again yet)… the list goes on. When will people realize that the Habs’ success under JM has little to do with his system and more to do with outstanding goaltending and timely scoring from 1-2 guys. Without Price/Halak, Plekanec, and Cammalleri (in last year’s playoffs) this team would not have made the playoffs last year and we’d probably be in 12th or 13th place this season. The failure to make adjustments on the PP for the first 25 games is another sign the coaching staff is weak. JM needs to re-unite his top two lines, sit Moen in the press-box and let Gorges and Picard rest if they’re both hurt. With the 3 old men already in the line-up, having two more guys on D who can’t skate is a disaster. Send in Weber, call up Henry to give us some presence on the blue line and give Gorges and Picard a week or so to heal up.

  20. notbigbird says:

    Whomever is at fault, the team is now letting in easy goals — easy in the sense that the opponent doesn’t have to work very hard to score. A casual lob from the blueline goes in. As does many a turnover or mini breakaway. Habs were doing well when the other guys had to work hard for their goals and consequently scored fewer. That also seems to get our guys more in the rhythm. Last night, they had no rhythm or flow whatsoever.

    To me this all started in the Flyers game. The vision that I have of our two recent playoff loses to Philthy is of them scoring on minimal opportunities. In the first two games against them this year, that didn’t happen. In the third it did.

    On almost any goal, you can’t blame Carey, but on the aggregate, you have to think that some should be stopped. Has he stopped a breakaway yet this year? When he first came up, I would rub my hands together when we got to a shootout because he was so darn good. Now, any sort of breakaway shot goes in.

    I sometimes wonder whether we do better when we are being terratorially dominated more. Lately, we seem to be holding our own on territorial play and SoG, and it just doesn’t seem to be working out. Do Carey and the team need to somehow weather a siege to properly get in the game?

  21. JF says:

    The defence looked terrible last night.  Picard looked good to start the season, but he’s become a turnover machine.  I’m beginning to see why he’s on his 5th NHL team.  Subban looked like he didn’t belong out there. If Gorges is playing injured, he should take time off until he’s recovered; it would be less costly in the long run.  And why is Yannick Weber sitting on the bench?  He played very well on defence in three games, and we won them all. Put him back in, take out Picard or Subban (or Gorges, if he’s injured), and, please, P.G., do something.

    While it’s hard to fault Price for any of our recent losses, it’s nevertheless true that he’s not playing at quite the level he was earlier, when he was equal to most deflections, unlucky bounces, and breakaways. If the team in front of him made a mistake, he would usually bail them out.  Now?  Not so much.  He’s still making great saves, but just about every turnover, deflection, and bad bounce is ending up in the back of our net. He hasn’t allowed fewer than 3 goal since before the Detroit game; earlier, he was seldom allowing more than one.  He’s not playing badly, he’s even playing well, but we don’t have enough offensive production to give up 3 or more goals a game and still hope to win.  Like last year.  And if Price is a bit tired and could use a break, there’s only Auld to step in, Auld whose last performance was hardly reassuring. 

    The team is in deep trouble.  We need help both up front and on defence.  Paccioretty has looked great so far, but he’s a rookie.  So is Lars Eller.  Unless our scoring leaders, whose total production says it all about our offence, can crank it up a couple of notches, we’ll be falling out of the playoff hunt before many more games have passed.  Carolina will certainly jump over us.  And once we do fall out, it’s difficult to see what team we could displace to get back in.  

  22. notbigbird says:

    Perhaps if our best scorer didn’t have to play so many PK minutes, he’d be doing a little better right now? It’s a dilemma because he’s so good at it, but he’s slipping offensively lately.

  23. arcosenate says:

    Bigger crowd at the Lingerie game than Atlanta, TB, Phoenix, etc.

    Habs need help, Dallas made it look so easy last night.

    A d man and someone who can score consistently.

    But is there anybody out there?

  24. ctony says:

    That’s the odd part, our scorers are scoring.

    Gomez, 6 points in the last 4 games.  Cammi, 5 goals and 5 assists in the last
    10.  Gionta, 5 goals in his last 9 nine
    games.  Easily the best stretch for them all
    season — and yet, we’re in a slump. 

    We scored 7 PP goals in the last 10 games.  Over that stretch our PP is converting chances at 29%.  So it’s not the PP.

    The recent weak points seem to be:

    - Untimely goals against.  We’ve let up at least 3 goals (not necessarily weak ones) in each of the last 6 games.

    - We’ve let up PP goals in each of the last four games, and six in the last 7 games.  We hadn’t gone more than 2 consecutive games previously 

    - The defense have stopped contributing to the offense. Hamr no points in 6 games. PK has 2 points in his last 9 games. Spacek 1 assist in 10 games. Georges zero points in 10 games. Gill 1 assist in the past 10.  Picard 3 points in 10 games. I recognize that Gill and Georges are not expected to produce points but this is weak.

     

  25. Propwash says:

    Its pointless to have Georges play through an injury, sit him and play Weber

  26. krob1000 says:

    Price was not to blame at all despite the few shots and many goals, 3 deflections, one where teh whistle should have gone and breakaway (there were three breakaways last night, Richards missed the net, he made a great glove stop on Ribeiro and the shorty went in).  I really thought the guys were going to pull that out because they weren;t getting teh play taken to them after the 10 minute mark of the first IMO…in fact we carried the play but cannot finish and had some horrid luck.  When Price made that 3-0 save and Darche scored ….I thought it was on but I then saw a couple of very neagtive plays and realzed I had been crazy.  Earlier on Pouliot outraced a Dman to avid an icing call….whenit was 3-1 though he let up and didn;t even give an effort on one that looked like he could have one…..then a few minutes later Lapierre (who looked like he might have cared last night) made that pull back play he loves at the sliding D and then tried to pass it to Benny….it was a combo of Benny missing it and then Laps shaking his head in frustration…..not a good sign.  When Gorges tipped the 4th one in you could see how frustrated he was (also because he could do nothing right last night it seemed).  It was a demoralizing loss and one I really hope they boucne back from.

    Gomez played his best game of the year for my money, Pacioretty looked willing and able to wreak havoc in the slot and front of the net, Gio looked energized by finally getting to play with a Gomez that resembled a Gomez of past years and an eager young player. While I was really excited to see Eller play with Pleks and Cammi…it wasn;t quite what I had envisioned…Eller seems to liek the freedom of a center and wandered a few times and didn;t quite have the winger thing down…he was rarely in a good position …he may be able to adjust if given any amount of time there but I think ti would be better giving him two wingers instead and having a really good third line….dunno…maybe we give hima nother shot but I think the big Dane might just be a center.  I would like to see a young, big , benergetic line with a combination of Eller and two of Pouliot-Pacioretty-Kostitsyn..and see how that goes.

    Subban had a rough night..his play wasn’t bad but he tooka  rpetty good elbow, slipped twice in his fight and had some tough luck…as did the rest of the team…pucks jsut don;t lie around for us and they seem to bunce the wrong way…oh well….I wasn;t as upset as the score should have meant but the body language last night was not encouraging for many of the guys and they seemd to be letting thefrustrations get to them…that has to be nipped now.

     

  27. Captain aHab says:

    We’ve collectively gone from having only the Gomez line not working – and winning – to having only the Gomez line working – and losing.

    I know what you mean about the icing Pouliot gave up on…kid doesn’t seem to have the guts to go to the boards.

  28. longtimehabsfan says:

    Blocked shots have been plaguing the Habs lately.  They’re playing stupid hockey.  Often they just fire the puck into an opposing player without any effort to get a better angle.

  29. jew4jah says:

    why is the cupboard bare?  could someone provide some insight on alex henry for me please.

  30. SeriousFan09 says:

    Henry isn’t able to keep up with the pace of the NHL more or less is why he’s down there.

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  31. Mike Boone says:

    Alex Henry is a 31-year-old career AHLer whose NHL-readiness has not been apparant to any of the four organizations he’s belonged to. He has, however, played 134 games for Minnesota, and Mario Tremblay likes him. Is that a recommendation? Discuss.

  32. Captain aHab says:

    Yeah, here’s the point though: we are overplaying guys who could keep up with the NHL if they got some rest and who are slipping seriously now and not keeping up often. So why not call up and play Henry (and Webber) for a bit and give the others a rest so they can get back to NHL speed? At the rate we are going, Spacek, Hammer, Gorges and Gill will be totally spent, which is certainly not good. Wishing that they somehow get rested/healed while playing may not be the best strategy…..


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