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. 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 .

     

  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. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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. 

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. HabFanSince72 says:

    Yay Timo!

    You tell’em dude!

     

  12. 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. 

  13. 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.

  14. 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.


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