About last night …

Unsung hero of that ridiculous game: Cristobal Huet.

Don’t laugh. If he doesn’t make a huge save late in the first period, it’s 3-2, Bruins have momentum heading into the second and your fragile Montreal Canadiens are nervous. But Huet made the save, Max Lapierre scored at the other end, it was 4-1 and effectively over.

Equally impressive were some stops Huet made later, once the game had turned into shinny. To stay sharp and focused when your team is romping requires some kind of mental toughness. Chapeau to the man from France.

Other heroes?

How about the whole darn team. As impressive as eight goals were, I was blown away by the passing. I can’t remember more tic-tac-toe plays in a game. The Tomas Plekanec line was magical, of course, but everyone else was into it – to the extent that Michael Ryder made a couple bad passes late in the third period and there were faint boos from spoiled fans.

There were set-ups and open nets my mother could have cashed … and she’d have pounded the snot out of Shane Hnidy.

Some of the posters took me to task for being hard on Mathieu Dandenault in my game blog, accusing me of kicking a guy when he’s down. There’s merit to that criticism. But look, a team that some picked to finish 14th is sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference and playing excellent hockey. It’s not the time to be whining – especially if you’re minus-10, you don’t play physical and you’re not a fighter.

Tom Kostopoulos knows there’s a battle for spots on the fourth line. So Tom the Bomb, making the most of his opportunity, gets the Gordie Howe hat trick – a goal, an assist and a fight, in defence of Steve Bégin, that made "TK", as they call him, a very big hero in the Canadiens’ room.

We’re going to hear more sad music from Patrice Brisebois when he’s ready to play. Josh Gorges has improved steadily since becoming a regular. He blocked four shots last night and made several excellent plays, including a recovery after Milan Lucic steamrollered him.

So does the man from My-my-my-my Kelowna sit in favour of Breeze? I don’t #$%^ing think so. And the situation gets even more complicated when Ryan O’Byrne gets back. Does Mark Streit move to forward, thus ensuring more pressbox nights for Dandenault?

Another big hit in the room was Sergei Kostitsyn’s fight. Brother Andrei said it was the kid’s pugilistic debut. I wouldn’t send him out to take on Georges Laraque, but Sergei did fine, displaying the benefits of playing junior hockey in Ontario under the tutelage of Dale Hunter. And if he’d played for Brent Sutter in the Dub, Sergei would have cleaned Chuck Kobasew’s clock.

I really liked that kid line. Sergei, Lapierre and Gui! could be better in their own end, but they’re a high-energy trio that’s going to tire out a lot of defencemen.

Speaking of exhaustion, how about the poor Bruins who had to watch Alex Kovalev skate around wit the puck last night? After he scored to make it 7-1 seven minutes into the third period, I think Kovy should have celebrated by ragging the puck for the next 13 minutes. Not the least of his talents is a theatrical flair that plays to the Bell Centre crowd.

Also emerging as a fan favourite: Andrei K. A redirect with his back to the net, a one-time laser on a pass from his brother …. the guy is on fire. On CKAC after the game, Dany Dubé said Andrei K proves the virtue of patience. People were ready to write him off as a first-round bust. But as he’s become more comfortable with North America and the Canadiens’ system, the big winger has moved onto the cusp of greatness. Size, speed, hands, shot … Andrei K. has it all. And just wait till he’s on a line with Sergei.

Haven’t mentioned the D. They were superb. Komisarek and Andrei Markov: plus-4. Komisaurus had five hits. Markov on the PP with Kovy and Andrei K. orchestrated the best ballet this side of the Bolshoi.

On to New Jersey, where we’ll find out if last night was a fluke.


  1. Will Longlade says:

    Fisher’s take on the team isn’t consistent with the view of the TSN commentators who covered last night’s contest. They talked about the team’s depth. Anyway, it’s been said before that there’s not a lot separating one team from another in the new NHL. An injury to a key player, a rash of injuries or the retirement of a key player can affect a team’s chances to qualify for the post season. As proof of this, consider Anaheim’s success since the return of Niedermeyer. What Fisher said not only applies to the Habs, but every other team in the league as well. It’s not a brilliant deduction, but I guess it wasn’t necessarily intended as such. Just an observation from an informed and objective observer of the team. We don’t have to agree with his opinion and we can even take offence with it if we like.

    To their credit, the Habs are a young team that is moving in the right direction. Hopefully, the team’s fans can sit back and watch a team that is competitive and enjoyable to watch for years to come.

  2. ebk says:

    sorry, hit the damn post button twice. maybe my computer skills are lacking as well.

  3. The Teacher says:

    Booly has one more year on his contract. Although i love him, they won’t be re-signing him after I wouldn’t think. Dandy as well.

  4. Nav says:

    The Habs have to be ready in New Jersey, they cannot forget that Brodeur owns them!!! The Habs have to create a physical & fast-tempo game that breaks up the neutral zone trap. SKATE, SKATE, SKATE! This is a huge game and we will be a measuring stick that shows the organization where they’re at presently. New Jersey is a contender, I believe they can wipe out any team in the Eastern Conference… Let’s hope the Habs blow them out of the swamp lands of Newark!

  5. showey47 says:

    definatly, but then what do we do with streit? Leave him as a forward? Then what about obyrne? Move him down to the third pairing then you have to make a decision with gorges and bouillon. Besides he has less goals and points than streit does and besides we both know we would have to overpay to get him on the ufa market. I do remember him being pretty soft for a big defenceman also, i could be wrong.

  6. ebk says:

    Hainsey would be a great pairing with Hamrlik, no?

    At least for this season

  7. HabsProf says:

    We can dream, but I doubt that is enough. Hainsey probably doesn’t feel like he was well treated here, and I would have trouble arguing with him. Sending him to the AHL that last time was a clear signal that we had given up on him, given that the other option was to send down Streit who was not subject to waivers (and who had indicated that he expected to be sent down to acclimate to the North American game).

    Besides, Hainsey is from Connecticut. If he decides to abandon Columbus (a team that will make a concerted effort to retain his services), I would see him interested in Boston or any of the New York teams before Montreal. And Boston could be interested – they need offense, and he would clearly improve the offense in general and the power play in particular. The Rangers have only two defencemen under contract after this season.

  8. ebk says:

    nope, while I’ve been told I lack writing skills, I can handle my own with a computer. :)

  9. HabsProf says:

    I missed that one – what are the details? Was it more than just a ridiculous rumour?

  10. Jay in PA says:

    Great post!

    Just curious… Where did you get your stats? You didn’t calculate them all by hand, did you?

  11. HabFab says:

    I know! I don’t think I’ve ever knocked on as much wood in my life.

  12. showey47 says:

    Since dandy isn’t skilled enough to play above the fourth line, he should learn to either hit and fight like begin and t.k. do or win faceoffs so he can take slowinski’s job. Just being able to skate isn’t going to win him a regular job on the team, especially one that lacks toughness.

  13. showey47 says:

    well said wayne, we are much better with breezby out of the lineup, gorges is improving every game he plays and doesn’t get pushed around like breezby does even though he is bigger than gorges.

  14. showey47 says:

    where would we put him? We are already swamped with defencemen at the point where 2 are playing forward on some nights and another boatload on the way in a few years.

  15. New says:

    I wouldn’t worry about the Dandenault opinion backlash. People are allowed opinions and some will see qualities in Dandy others don’t. He reminds me a bit of Bulis. Get him good and riled up, he looks like a star, then fades away for another 15 games or so.

    Your blog and the the responses are well worth reading. Keep writing it the way you see it. If worse comes to worse maybe Dandenault will show us all how wrong we were.

  16. Wayne says:

    ————– Without Brisebois, they are 13-3-3 —————-

    nuff said,… except for this.

    I don’t take to crapping on people lightly but if Boone’s prediction that Breezer will whine when he wants into the line-up, well, tough sh!t ’cause if he forgets why the Habs signed him, he can go to Borneo for all i care. He’s more trouble for the team when he’s playing bad on those nights than his need for pacification.

    As for last night… No sympathy for the Bruins. We categorically destroyed them with the gusto! What the heck did Charra say to Carbo anyway. Boo hoo … that’s what you get for blindsiding Kovy and pounding on Gui.

  17. sidhu says:

    Hainsey is a UFA at season’s end and is good friends with Komi. Maybe he will come back?? 😉

  18. RH says:

    Yeah, great post. Glad you took the intiative, and went through all that work, to give us all some insight into the Habs season so far. The only thing I would want to know is whether the Habs PK is up because they’re not taking as many penalties,(thereby less penalties to kill, making the work load lighter), or whether they’ve truly found a proven method to keep the other team off the board during there PP.

  19. ebk says:

    Nice point about Hainsey. I remember being mad when he got sent down and madder still when they lost him. Even Bob Gainey makes a mistake, now and then. He has not made many, though.

    Either on of him or Beauchemin and the Habs would have a top four that rivals all but Anaheim.

  20. MAB the HAB says:

    Did anybody read Red Fisher’s article in the Gazette today? I know Mr Boone et al highly admire Fisher, but his articles are always a jab at the Habs. Today’s pretty much sent a jinx on them (and Kovalev in particular) to get injured and hinting that they would fare badly if it were not for the good health so far this year of their main players. Geez, talk about raining on the habs’ parade.
    Regardless, the whole city is happy today thanks to the 8-2 massacre.
    Here’s to carrying it over into the NJ game!

  21. showey47 says:

    who knows, but i do hope your right though. I just don’t see it for a fourth liner making 1.75 million who is a -10.

  22. Will Longlade says:

    His versatility may translate into a third round pick. I thought I may have been a little too optimistic.

  23. VancouverHab says:

    Thank-you kindly, gentlemen: much appreciated.

  24. krob1000 says:

    Higgins will be fine….I have noticed him still getting his chances and to me that indicates he is fine. 95 out of 100 goalies wouldn’t have got across to make the save Thomas made on him last night. He is just temporarily snakebitten a la Ryder this year and Kovy last year. Eventually these guys get some breaks and if you recall his last slump like this (when he first returned from his injury at the onset of teh season) was snapped by two ugly goals.

  25. likehoy says:

    higgins is wildly inconsistent.

    he started the season on fire…chances galore and was constantly taking it to the other team. Since later november and early decemeber…higgins fell off the board.

    He had a strong second half finish in his first 2 years of his career…here’s hoping for a 3rd?

  26. likehoy says:

    had faith in mr. markov since 98 and 99 when he won the russian leagues best dman 2 years in a row. Then he played a huge playoffs series against the bruins with murray and thornton consistently running him into the boards but markov would get back up and play and that’s when I knew he’d be something.

    funny how a poster in a previous thread posted up an article where we almost traded a bunch of players, including markov, for ilya kovalchuk.

  27. Ed says:

    Thanks for the great stats. They show that this team is definitely headed in the right direction. There are so many positives about this team. Please keep up your great research, and continue to share with us.

  28. likehoy says:

    we had that nice slump in the middle of november

  29. Kingkomi says:

    gotta hope we keep ryder.watching him the past couple of games i like what i see.he doesnt shy away from the corners finishes his checks and works hard.and dont forget his laser beam of a shot.perfect for our 2nd line

  30. habsfan2442 says:

    Do you EVER post anything possitive???

  31. Kingkomi says:

    im in the flatbush area of brooklyn

  32. ebk says:

    oops, thanks. I can guarantee there are probably a few more.

  33. JF says:

    ebk, interesting and telling statistics. The team started the season looking better than last year’s team, and since the low point in early December has improved steadily. Areas that looked problematical – penalty kill, defensive zone coverage, 5-on-5 play – have been addressed so that we now have more strength, toughness and depth than at the beginning of the season. A team that improves over the course of a season is in much better shape than one which starts strong but does not deal with the underlying problems (as was the case last year). The litmus test will be our performance in the games against Jersey and Ottawa, as well as the March western road trip. Also the games against the Rangers, whom we have trouble beating, and Philadelphia now that Gagné is back.

  34. HabsProf says:

    Interesting post, filled with the sort of stats that I like to collect and play with. Most impressed with the improvement in 5 on 5 and PK.

    Anyone thought that Mark Streit, much as we like him, might wind up putting up more points than Chris Higgins this season? Me neither (not a slam against Chris, more a boost for Streit). And who is hard on both their heels, gaining fast? Andrei Kostitsyn, who I suspect will also wind up with more points than Higgins by the time the season is over (again, not a slam against Chris).

    Minor (but good) correction – Kostitsyn has 21 points in his last 21 games, not 20 points.

  35. krob1000 says:

    Stop thanking us as we should be thanking you (and you make me look bad lol). That was a fanatastic and very informative post and should very clearly outline how we are playing pretty damn well as a team (but you already know that to some it won’t).

  36. The Teacher says:

    I agree with you, we need to crash the net in front of Brodeur to obstruct his vision.

    However your second point of getting the puck out of the zone. Don’t the Devils clog the neutral zone?

    That would seem to suggest that we won’t have as much trouble getting out, the trouble will be in getting it through the neutral zone and get good dump-ins or entry into the zone that will not allow Brodeur to handle the puck as much as he would like to.

  37. showey47 says:

    not even gainey could get a second round pick for dandy, especially now that jfj was fired yesterday lmao. I would say anywhere between a fifth rounder to future considerations.

  38. ebk says:

    December 13, the Canadiens season sat on the brink of disaster. They had just completed a stretch of games that saw them lose 6 0f 8. To make matters worse, they were completely dominated for most of these games and their #1 goalie was out for the next two weeks or so. The franchises’ goalie of the future was now in charge of the team’s immediate future and things were looking bleak.

    In the last 18 games, since December 13, the Habs have gone 11-4-3. Carey Price answered the bell and more importantly, so did the rest of the team. Price played a big part in helping change the fortunes of this team during this period. He only played in the first few but if he would have faltered, the team probably would have been dead. He did not, they are not and they find themselves in the midst of a play-off run.

    Here are some interesting facts, that only maybe interest me
    In the last 18 games…
    The Habs have scored 65 goals and allowed 45
    Their PP remainded solid at 24% but their PK improved greatly up to 88.5%
    The Habs have scored 45 even strength goals, about twice as many per game as earlier in the season
    The Habs have allowed 37 even strength goals, making them a very respectable +8 at even strength
    The Habs have cut their goals against, from 2.9 per game to 2.5
    The Habs have exploded offensively, averaging 3.6 per game, up from 2.8

    Latendresse has a team leading 10 even strength goals
    Without Brisebois, they are 13-3-3

    If there was ever a doubt which line was the #1 line, the question is settled now
    In the last 21 games
    Kovalev has scored 10 goals and has had 22 points.
    Plekanec has scored 8 goals and has had 23 points.
    Andrei Kostitsyn has scored 11 goals and 20 points

    The second line of Ryder,Koivu and Higgins has been more than up to the task of providing the team with a quality 2nd line, despite all the braying about the three.

    Ryder has scored 5 goals in his past 11 games
    Koivu 3 and 10 assists for 13 points
    Higgins 4 goals and 10 assists for 14 points.

    Mark Streit has scored 4 goals and has had 17 points
    Latendresse has 5 goals,Markov has 5 goals
    Smolinski scored his first even strength goal of the season that was not an empty netter

    The team now is deep, fast and dangerous.

    Thanks for reading and I promise that I’m done for the day with the war and peace posts. Gotta get some actual paid work done.

  39. HabsProf says:

    Boone – Your point about patience is well taken. The Habs, of course, have had more than their fair share of first round busts over the last couple of decades, so perhaps we have become a little too quick to write a player off as yet another.

    However, I would think that Andrei K. is not the only reminder. Ron Hainsey is another name that comes to mind, and one that still drives me crazy every time I think of him. I was mad as hell when he was sent down and even madder when he was called up, exposing him to recall waivers (the rest, of course, is Blue Jackets history).

    For that matter, while he wasn’t a first rounder, it wasn’t that long ago that Habs fans thought Andrei Markov was never going to live up to his potential. I remember many calls for him to be traded. (If memory serves, this was around his third season with the team.) Now he is an all-star, and a deserving one at that. He may be our most important offensive player. (I said he may be, not that he is – but what is your opinion on the issue fellow HIOer’s?)

  40. Kingkomi says:

    thanks.i study in ny so i could only go to a few games a year and no more this year so ill take up the offer for next season

  41. moser17 says:

    “pugilistic debut”
    “Chapeau to the man from France”
    “My-my-my-my Kelowna”

    Great Boone-isms.

  42. krob1000 says:

    I think your just fishing for us to all chip in and buy you tickets the rest of the way. …..hmmm I might steal your idea. Gotta go …… I have a scheme to hatch.

  43. krob1000 says:

    I know I for one wish the All Star break wasn’t this weekend given the way we played last night. I am also now thinking back to our last road game before a break…..I think it was in Dallas…..anyone remember that one. Something tells me the gusy learned fromt hat one though and that nobody will be taking this one lightly ( knocking on wood so hard my knuckles are bleeding).

  44. Kingkomi says:

    ill be at the game tomorrow and the habs never lose when im there.i think thats whats missing(my record is 14-0-1 although the loss was prior to the shootout days in ot so it dont count)

  45. Rugger says:

    Projecting 58 points in 48 games over the season equates to 99 points.

  46. Will Longlade says:

    Nice overview EBK. You’re right in implying that the Habs have the toughest part of their schedule ahead of them, but it’s how many points they pick up overall that counts at the end of the day. I calculate that they need to play one game over .500 over the last 34 games to attain 94 points. How they do it doesn’t matter to me, but it would be nice if they could demonstrate that they can play w/the elite teams in the league and also achieve the top seed in their division (which could see them playing the Bruins in the 1st round).

  47. The Teacher says:

    I don’t know if you guys remember, the last time we were within 6 points of a playoffs spot, the wheels fell off of our wagon. I just hope we can keep it going.

    I find I am approaching this season more analytically instead of going with blind emotion and passion. however, I must say I do see the potential for us to make the playoffs. I’m still too disappointed in last year’s end to feel secure at the present time.

  48. likehoy says:

    with 34 games remaining…if the minimum points we need is 92 to make the playoffs…we need to play .500 hockey till the end…not too shabby eh? 17 wins.

    to break 100 points we have to play at a solid .617 to obtain 42 points…meaning we need 21 wins (or a combination of extra time losses).

    21 and 17 are not a huge difference in numbers, but a huge difference in making the playoff picture. Now’s the time to string together a big winning streak or 6 or 7 games and then string wins together consistently

  49. likehoy says:

    so who’s hoping we play boston in the playoffs?? easy series to the next round.

  50. Bill H says:

    Nice breakdown of the remaining schedule. That’s an interesting take on it.

  51. OldGrover says:

    It is – last few seconds of their video coverage in the tsn.ca website.

  52. Will Longlade says:

    Lats played a good game last night. People forget that he is young and still learning the game. I’d take Lats over Dandy in the lineup any day. My guess is that Dandy sealed his fate yesterday. He will be dealt for a 2nd round draft pick before the Feb. 26th trade deadline.

  53. Blitzen says:

    I would like to see Komisarek crush a Devil early in the game to get the guys going. Actually, I would like to see several guys hit the Devils like there’s no tomorrow. Stir the pot so the juices get flowing. Guys may not think so much about losing. We may not win but at least get the message across that the games vs us won’t be softies.

  54. J.T. says:

    Check out the highlights on TSN’s broadband coverage. I saw it today on SportsCentre, so I’m guessing it’s there on broadband as well.

  55. OldGrover says:

    I dunno if that’s sarcastic, but it ought to be. I thought Lats had a good game – he was tough along the boards, tough to stop wherever he wanted to go. Didn’t score, no, but he’s looking very promising.

  56. Rugger says:

    My guess is Price back up late Feb/early March

  57. P St. Pierre says:

    The Montreal Canadiens website usually has a fairly extensive highlights package following every game. I haven’t seen it yet, so I’m not sure how much footage of Tom the Bomb it would include. The package can be found under Habs TV or something like that it and it will be titled Game Highlights.

  58. P St. Pierre says:

    “I have not seen a growth spurt like that since baseball discovered the juice and I’m not talking Orange Juice here folks.”


  59. ebk says:

    Interesting read.

    He is a little older than Bryzgalov but they are similar enough that Bryzgalov’s signing certainly is a strong indication of what Huet will get this summer. If he is able to help the Habs make a dent in the 2008 play-offs, his value will only go up.

    I think he stays for the rest of the year and leaves during the summer. Hopefully Price and Halak are ready to carry the load. I think it would serve Price better to be up with the big club, see the day to day pressure involved in a play-off run and hopefully get in to 10 of the last 35 games. AHL experience is nothing like the NHL.

  60. Bill H says:

    I agree with the idea of creating a 3rd scoring line. Having 2 checking lines is the wrong way to go. That’s playing to not lose, instead of playing to win. I hope Carbo doesn’t fall into that trap with New Jersey. K2 and Latendresse both deserve linemates that can score. Putting either one of those with Smokes, Dandenault or Tommy K seems like a waste, even if all three of those have shown some scoring flair of late. btw, the Smokes goal last night was great. He didn’t have much time to set up and he lifted that up just under the crossbar at close range. Very nicely done. Well, if the 3rd and 4th lines keep scoring like they did last night, I won’t have anything to complain about. But I don’t know that they will have their way with the Devils on Thursday though.

  61. VancouverHab says:

    e-Beg: can anyone tell me where to get extended highlights of the Hab games? I would love to see last night’s T.K. “first star” skate I’ve read about.

  62. MikeMcLaren says:

    Pleks, If they carried TSN down here, I would have watched that feed. I was happy enough that I finally could see the Habs in high definition though (my cable carrier only offers the Center Ice package in standard def).

    I am glad someone pointed it out. Even during the Versus broadcast, Forslund (Carolina’s annoying play-by-play guy: “Huet says NO!”) was mentioning how Ottawa was so far ahead of other teams… puzzling as they only have a 6 point lead at this point and the wheels are falling off their wagon a little bit.

    Oh well, here’s to hoping it’s four soon and that there’s more than one way for the Habs to get some home ice advantage in the playoffs rather than just scrapping for *4th* place.


  63. ebk says:

    Today is a good day is a hab fan. They just beat the bruins like a rented mule, quite possibly are playing their best hockey of the season and the Kiddie Corps have gone from diapers to High School in record time. I have not seen a growth spurt like that since baseball discovered the juice and I’m not talking Orange Juice here folks.

    No better time to try to slay the dragon that is Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils.

    In the Eastern Conference, Montreal sits six points out of first place overall and six points out of 9th place. Talk about parity.

    They have 34 games left. The last 3 years 93 points gets you in the play-offs. Montreal needs 35 points in its remaining games to hit the 93 point mark. Of those remaining 34 games, 10 loom large as determining the fate of the 2007/2008 Montreal Canadiens.

    The ten games that will determine what we have with this version of the Habs are, 5 games versus Ottawa, 3 games versus New Jersey and road games versus San Jose and Anaheim.

    If the Habs get blown out of the water by these teams, as their history against these teams suggests, Montreal will have its hands full just making the play-offs. Six points or less means the team will have to fight tooth and nail just to end up as a 7th or 8th seed. Anything more than six points and you can probably start printing tickets for the play-offs. They should be able to manage 30 points in the other 24 games. If they can’t they are in trouble regardless of how they do in these 10 games.

    To take a run at the Senators and Devils for the number one seed in the East, The Habs need to win at least 3 games against the Senators, 2 against the Devils and one against either San Jose or Anaheim. That will put them in position to not only break the century mark in points but also challenge for the #1 seed. Due to injuries, Ottawa does now appear to be more vulnerable than earlier in the season.

    Can they do it? I have no idea but it should be enjoyable finding out. Like I said, today is a good day to be a Habs fan. Their fate sits squarely in their hands and that is all you can ask.

    Thanks for reading

  64. von says:

    I’d rather have Gui! Gui! Gui! having the odd pressbox experience, rather than a player like Dandenault….

  65. mjames says:

    I am not a big Tenders fan but I think that kid is improving and more often than not is getting scoring chances.


  66. Ed says:

    Maybe others suggested a kid line last night, but I noticed when reviewing Boone’s blog on the game that cournoyer12 suggested it. It turned out to be a good line. Here is cournoyer’s suggestion.

    “Submitted by cournoyer12 on Tue, 01/22/2008 – 14:22.

    Why cant they put the kids together, Latendresse, Kostitsyn Jr, and Lapierre, competition would be interesting there, and if it worked, we would have three scoring lines again. Why put baby K with grinders? Go Habs.”

  67. Plek-Andrew says:

    Mike Mclaren,
    It’s not my intention to take away your glory but you’re right; i don’t think anybody mentioned the Habs being 6 points away from first place and the RDS guys sure as hell wouldn’t mention it.

    But, for a recently converted TSN guy, i have to give them credit because they did indeed point that out. Oh and apparently tsn HD is nicer than RDS hd…

    dunno bout u guys, but i don’t really wanna Jacques Demers’ facial details… I think I have enough chins of my own to worry about

    :O cheap shot… haha

  68. Bill H says:

    Speculating about the future of Huet is becoming one of my favourite past times. I’ve been quick to point out soft goals and weak games when he gets too much work. But he is playing very well lately, keeping mistakes to a minimum, and is handling a heavy workload like a pro.

    I appreciate your thoughts, 24, on possible future salary for Huet as I have never actually tried to do the math. There are so many variables that its almost impossible to comment intelligently on the subject. All the same, I am sure Bob sits in his office and tries as best he can to work it out on paper.

    I don’t quite agree that we are dead without Huet, as we haven’t seen what Halak can do this year. He certainly proved he can do the job last year, and the only reason he hasn’t been given the chance this year is completely beyond his control. He is a victim of numbers. And with Huet playing so well, I’m not sure when he will get his chance.

    I still feel Halak and and Price are our future due to Huet’s alleged salary demands, his desire for undisputed #1 status, and his need for a long term deal. Even so, I would be happy to see a deal with Huet that allows him to stay in Montreal. It will be tough for Bob to trade him this year, given his play of late. But that all depends on what we get in return. I agree with 24’s observation that the salary crunch will come in 09 – 10 season. That is the year that we have UFAs Komi, Saku and Kovy. RFAs are Pleks, Latendresse, Higgins, and Chipchura.

  69. Plek-Andrew says:

    You left out how Guillaume Latendresse was the weakest link last night and absolutely useless…

  70. Chris says:

    Others have noticed it as well, but the big highlight that stuck out for me was how happy Koivu was for Ryder’s goal. I think Saku genuinely likes Ryder and loves playing with him, so I think Carbonneau needs to give that line another chance to get back on track.

  71. Will Longlade says:

    I forgot to mention. About 21% of the Hab’s points this season have come at the expense of the Bruins. If the teams split these games, their respective positions in the standings would be reversed. The Habs need to duplicate that success against other teams.

  72. corson27 says:

    The Habs had a great game last night and if we continue with streaks such as our unbeaten streak against Boston, the Habs have not lost a game played on a Thursday night since October 18th against the Sens. So there is hope yet that they can end the curse against the Devils

  73. MikeMcLaren says:

    I don’t think we can judge whether last night was a fluke or not based on playing the Devils tomorrow. At least if the Habs lose, that is.

    I mean, really, at this point? The Bruins are to the Habs as the Habs are to the Devils.

    They own us.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s Martin F. Brodeur, Zach F. Parise or even David J. F. Oduya – someone will likely have their number on Thursday.

    Eventually “the streak” will be over (“Is this the year?”) but who knows when?

    On paper it’s doable. If they play 60 minutes like they played the first 19 or so the last time they were in Jersey then they have a shot. The Canadiens can skate with just about anyone unless you’ve got a wheel with a wing on the front of your jersey.

    REAL interesting thing that no one seems to notice btw…

    The Canadiens are now 6 points out of 1st place in the division/conference with a game in hand on the Senators and I believe 5 games left to play against said Senators.

    A Canadiens win and Ottawa loss puts them within four points and they would still have that game in hand…


  74. Will Longlade says:

    A few observations about last night’s game:

    1. The Serguimax line played w/tons of energy. Carbo should keep this line intact and let it develop an identity.
    2. Koivu was much more involved and on his game. Higgins played well defensively. Ryder was OK, but needs to continue to work on simplifying his game.
    3. Begin played his best game of the year, or perhaps, the best game of his career. The message was clear. No PB for him.
    4. Smokes elevated his play and played perhaps his best game of the year.
    5. Streit played an excellent game from D. He’s playing w/more confidence and seems to have totally shrugged off his November slump.
    6. Like Boone, I’m a big Gorges fan. He makes up for his lack of size w/ his smarts smart and he brings it every night. He also brings intangibles that are hard to replace. B.G., please don’t trade this guy!
    7. It’s a pleasure to watch Sergei set up his brother’s wicked shot. It’s poetry in motion.

    In conclusion, a v. enjoyable game to watch. Let’s bottle that energy and take it to Jersey.

  75. 24 Cups says:

    It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to Huet this summer. Unless a great deal comes along I can’t really see him getting traded at the deadline – not with Price apprenticing back in the minors. Bryzgalov’s new contract probably means that Huet might get $4.5 mil a year for say 3 years. The question is, who would sign him? Tampa and LA will certainly need to look for new goaltenders. LA doesn’t want to rush Bernier just like we don’t want to rush Price. Colorado and Washington are other teams that might show some interest. Regardless, Huet will have some competion as Kolzig, Theodore, and Emery/Gerber will be on the open market. What happens if he doesn’t sign right away with another team? Maybe we could pick him up for two years at $4 mil a year. That would be a perfect fit for Price’s development timeline. We certainly can afford it next year although it would be tight the year after (Price gets 2.2 mil when he plays in the NHL). Anyway, I’ve certainly come full circle on this whole issue – I no longer see Huet having to be traded at the deadline. Right now, we’re basically dead in the water without him in the nets.

    The Original 24 Cups

  76. fuhgawz says:

    dont get to down Naila —- i think this game was a huge confidence lift for alot of players last night i think it will carry over to the next game — our only obstruction MARTY ….. but i think even he would have problems keeping up to the flair and passing montreal had last night

  77. Naila Jinnah says:

    I’m not too confident about New Jersey. Just as we play ridiculously good games against Boston, we always suck against the Devils.

  78. 24 Cups says:

    Naila – The only way to win this game is to win the battles in front of the New Jersey net – that’s assuming we dare to go there. I know scoring the first goal is always important, but against the Devils it’s almost imperative. This would also be the perfect game for Lats to shine. You never can tell.

    The Original 24 Cups

  79. Rugger says:

    My second favorite clip from last night, after Kovy’s glove dance, was the post game interview with Komi on Vs network. The sh*t eating grin when talking about his main purpose is to keep people from scoring. You know he just loves to hit – wish we had him on our Rugby team!

  80. Dana says:

    You could say the same for the Devils though.. they royally kicked the Flyers behind last night.

    I tend to agree with Naila, I think we’re in for it on Thursday.

  81. fuhgawz says:

    true they did work over the flyers….just to me i saw alot of heart last night and even in the loss the other night … i hope this continues

  82. Lafrich says:

    As usual, I enjoyed your “about last night” column tremendously. I don’t mean to be a kiss-a**, but I love your columns. I don’t remember ever enjoying game observations, and general Habs observations, as much as I do from your column. Thanks!

    That being said, it seems simple to me why we play so horribly against the Devils (I will be there tomorrow night, as I live in the NY area). They are a team with a plan! They play aggressively, and the Habs can never handle that. Other teams employing similar aggressive systems that gve Habs fits are: Carolina, Detroit (Of course), Dallas, Florida, and, against the Habs, the Leafs! Carbo has got to come up with a system of his own to play against these teams.

    When we play other systemless teams, we thrive. We have lots of talent, and those teams (Hello Boston) give us room to move.

    Let’s hope the Habs have turned the corner, because I want to have something to cheer about tomorrow night in NJ.

    GO HABS GO!!!

  83. mjames says:

    I think the way to deal with the NJ is to play an aggressive style. If we fore-check aggressively in their end we should keep the pressure on them and prevent an easy breakout on their part. Also once they do get out our forwards need to be tenacious checkers. We stay on top of them. Lastly our defense needs to stand tall at our blue-line instead of collapsing in. If we play as a five man unit without separation between the forwards and defense we should stand a good chance.

    I would keep Huet in nets. He has been very strong since that Atlanta game
    I might play Dandy with Smolinski sitting out. The fourth line would be Begin, Dandy and Kosto. Why I bring up Dandy is because the guy checks and is a good fore-checker. He is much more active than Smolinski.


  84. Kingkomi says:

    good to see I won’t be the only habs fan there to see the end of the curse!!(i study in nyc)

  85. 24 Cups says:

    Brodeur was voted onto the All Star team but won’t play due to ‘injury’. Yet he played last night against Philly and I’m sure we’ll face him on Thursday. Just another reason I don’t get too excited about this borefest.

    The Original 24 Cups

  86. JF says:

    I keep hoping he’ll get the flu that’s going around.

  87. Exit716 says:

    Thursday night should be a great game.
    Pierre McGuire even took his effusive praise normally reserved for Melnick in the afternoon and told Canada about how good this team is and will be.
    Meanwhile 600 km west of Montreal, the puzzled suits, bean counters and wanna-be hockey dads of the MLSE group sit back and wonder that maybe, just maybe Ken Dryden had the right idea about hiring Gainey. Thankfully, Bob opted for the hands-off approach of Uncle George.

  88. J.T. says:

    Last night made me wonder two things:
    First, can the team bring *that* game to Jersey and FINALLY beat f’n Brodeur?
    Second, where did the term “cakewalk” come from anyway? What the heck does it even mean?

    Boone, I don’t think you were hard on Dandenault at all. He’s a pro…he’s been around the league for a long time. He knows the game, both on and off the ice. And he knew very well when he whined to the media about not playing that it would create tension between himself and his coach and a flurry of commentary in the press. This is a young team that needs its bit players to play their bits with grace and class. Dandenault was, I believe, saved from a trade or (more likely at his salary) waivers by his conversion to forward. As far as I’m concerned, he should be grateful for the chance to be part of the team at all and behave in a way that shows the young guys what’s expected of a pro. His complaining did nothing except place him on the outside of a great team effort last night.

    I’m of two minds on Kovalev…I love how he’s playing; he’s a treat to watch. But I wish he’d done this throughout his career. It’s sad to think of the games he wasted when he didn’t bring the effort to the rink. Then again, if he had, Gainey wouldn’t have gotten him for Balej (best Gainey trade ever) and we wouldn’t be thrilled by him now.

    The only one I’m still worried about is Higgins. He seems to be really cold. If he can get it together and the Koivu line starts earning its keep, this team could be a real playoff threat.

    Gainey’s no doubt thinking very hard about keeping Huet. It might be a good idea.

    Highlights of the night for me:
    -Sergei holding his own in that fight, but even better, the massive hip check he threw that caused the fight in the first place
    -The three-point passing play that led to the eighth and most beautiful goal
    -Pierre McGuire admitting he was wrong about Huet, that he is the real deal, and Bob McKenzie lauding the Habs as the best passing team in the East
    -Kovalev ragging the puck behind the B’s net, losing his glove, turning back, retrieving the glove and putting it on, all the while continuing to control the puck out of Chara’s reach as though it were no big deal. That was an awesome display of “aw shucks” dominance.
    -Tom the Bomb coming out to take his bow as the first star of the game with no socks or shin pads on, and throwing his stick to the crowd
    -The goodbye song with two minutes to go in the *second* period and knowing it wasn’t a jinx because there was no way the Bruins were coming back.
    -The Huet save followed by the Lapierre goal with one second to go in the first
    -Pleky’s super-pass onto Komisarek’s stick for the goal
    -Andrei K saluting the crowd after his first goal, and sharing a moment with his bro after his second
    -Tom the Bomb giving Sergei the warrior’s salute when the two of them were in the sin bin for fighting
    -Lapierre putting Chara on his butt, hard
    -Tim Thomas looking up to heaven after the seventh goal, wondering “What the hell did I ever do to deserve this? I’m an all-star dammit!”
    -The veins in Julien’s head throbbing visibly as he walked across the ice after the first period

    And so many other moments…but those were the best. Now, if only they can take Marty and his minions down. Then I’ll believe there’s a chance to make some noise *this* year and that future really is now.

  89. Rugger says:

    I believe Cakewalk comes from post civil war era here in the states and is a racial term, don’t remember the details.

  90. fuhgawz says:

    i really liked the “good job” tap by Tom to Sergei ….that was awesome. in fact all these highlights you mention were awesome ….. the kovy glove incident was one of the sickest things i have ever seen

  91. krob1000 says:

    I wish I saw the after the game stuff but because I monopolize the TV during Habs games the second it ends my wife is all over the remote like Komisarek on a forward.

  92. JF says:

    J.T., I love your highlights. You point out not just the great plays but also the little things – gestures, expressions, byplay – that made the game a treat for Habs fans. I kept smiling as I read it.

    Before the game I had forebodings. I’m usually easy with Carbo’s line-juggling, but in this case I didn’t think it would work. I thought re-uniting Ryder with Higgins and Koivu was a risk, and the third and fourth lines were unlikely to be effective. How wrong I was. Is Carbo some kind of a magician? Or does he just know the players well enough that he can trust his gut feeling about who should play with who? Both the third and fourth lines were great, and Koivu and Ryder combined for a really nice goal. I’m a bit worried about Higgins though.

    I loved the huge grin on Koivu’s face when he and Ryder celebrated Ryder’s goal. Others have pointed out and I’ve noticed that he often does not react much after a goal. He scored the clincher in Atlanta but his expression did not change. It was good to see him smile last night.

    About Dandenault. He probably should not have complained to the media, but I can understand his being upset about being benched against a team he scored two goals against the last time they met. Usually he shows a lot of class, always willing to answer questions, happy to play whatever role he’s asked. At the end of last season I would have been happy to trade him, but this year he’s impressed me with his speed, good play, hard work and upbeat attitude.

    Since the Rangers game, Cristobal Huet has been great. I’m starting to wonder if what he really needs to keep him focussed and on top of his game is simply the knowledge that he’s the bona fide number 1 goaltender, that the responsibility rests squarely on his shoulders. This was the case two years ago, and we all remember how well he did and how far he took us. We just might see a repeat this spring, and, if so, it would go far to erase doubts about his durability and ability to perform well on a consistent basis. I cannot see Gainey trading him at the deadline, and really hope he can sign him to an extension.

    Someone last night posted that unfortunately we can’t play this kind of run-and-gun game against Jersey. Why not? Fast skating, hard hitting, great passing – why can’t we? When we try and match their trap we always catch ourselves in it.

  93. CDK says:

    According to A.Word.A.Day: “In the 19th century, cakewalk was a popular contest among slaves on the American plantations. It was a strutting dance, developed as a parody of white owners, in which couples with the most stylish steps won a cake as a prize. The dance may or may not have been easy but it was certainly a lot of fun, and eventually the term cakewalk begin to be used to refer to anything easy to do. The idiom “to take the cake” has the same origin.”

    Perhaps Kovalev’s dangling suffices for “stylish steps”?

  94. Chris says:

    I have a confession, J.T. I am spending all day today praying that you wake up with a bad feeling about the Habs vs. New Jersey tomorrow. Because after last night’s performance when you had a bad feeling, I really think we need more of your reverse jinxing. So come on, take one for the team…we need you to wake up really crabby about the Habs chances tomorrow! :) Great post by the way…agree with a lot of your highlights.

    By the way, Sergei is only going to get better. He was a beast for the London Knights, one of the best OHL’ers I’ve seen in a long while. And now its looking like its translating to the NHL level.

  95. 24 Cups says:

    Mr. Boone – I wouldn’t be surprised to see O’Byrne go back down to Hamilton for a few games for ‘conditioning purposes’. That will help the Habs buy some more time so they don’t have to make any sticky roster moves before the trade deadline.

    The Original 24 Cups

  96. VancouverHab says:

    Boone’s corner is the first place to come in the morning out here in the West, after a game night ;–)

    Best Hab article of the year has just been published: read this and see how brilliant the current Hab regime is through perfect contrast. http://nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=256101

  97. 24 Cups says:

    VH – Not to mention that Fletcher also helped run Phoenix into the ground as a “consultant” to Gretzky and Barnett.

    The Original 24 Cups

  98. krob1000 says:

    Thank you Boone for noting Huet’s big save as that really was the play on which the game was won. The last thirty minutes was painful and a big minus goes to Hab fans booing Ryder in an 8-2 game in which he scored. The whole team had lost focus at that point and it was nice to seee Carbo call a timeout to at least tell guys to try defensively cause Hell is coming Thursday and Marty’s coming with them.

    The first thrity minutes of that game were the most complete 30 minutes we have played all year. There were no bad shifts at all…none. Yeah Hamrlik had a little gaff at the blue line and they scored but it was a bouncing puck and that kind of stuff just happens. Huet made the first save and the rebound could not have bounced more directly onto the Bruin players stick (it was not Ryders man and he just happened to be the only one who got back at all). We were hitting, hustling, passing, shooting……you name it and we were doing it.

    We were on here questioning Doc Brown’s(Carbo) decision to mix the lines (nice to see he did make the one adjustment and go with a kid line) and once again he proved he knows best. All four lines score even strength goals in the first period…WOW!. I almost half expect Carbo to go blogging today and toot his own horn on all of the fan sites…I know I might if I were him. Huet was spectacular and had Pierre Mcguire apologizing on national television for doubting him. He also looked a little less anxious to roam around after loose pucks although he did make me a little nervous when he made that stretch pass.

    Kovy, Pleks and Kostitsyn are incredibly consistent this year and I think that is a big reason we have been so resilient after losses. They bring it every night and what doesn’t work one game seems to work the next. It is a big reason we are so good after a loss. Sergei K again proved he is going to be a top assist man in this league in time. Lats looked to be strong on the boards again and Lapierre used his blinding speed again to wreak havoc on opposing defenseman expecting to nonchalantly exit their zone. Koivu, Ryder and Higgins looked good early but seemed to lose interest first after the routing began. Interesting stat for all of the Ryder haters out there…….Since Dec. 28th our goal scoring leaders are as follows Kostitsyn 7, Pleks 5, Kovy 5, Ryder 5…….and he gets booed at home in an 8-2 game. Some fans are beyond ignorant and I really wish fans who liked our team would buy those damn seats from those idiots.

    The grinders………..unbelievable. They set the tone early on and looked possessed all evening. Begin was his old sparkplug-like self and Tom Kostopolous again showed a little offensive prowress(maybe a little lucky too)with his Gordie Howe Hattie. Begin got all of the praise from the broadcasters but I thought Smolinski was perhaps the best of the three (that is hard for me to say). He made several key passes and skated for a change. I wonder if Dandenault sitting despite his hard work and two goals last time out of the Bruins did in fact send the intended message that noone is safe because the three most likely candidates for him to replace all met the challenge head on.

    The defense easily moved the puck out of the zone all night (anything after the ten minute mark of the second period is not included as from that point on another game was played). They did a good job in the offensive end as well moving the puck whenever it was passed back to them by the forwards and that happened a lot. It is not often talked about but our defensmen’s intellect and instincts in the offensive end are a big reason (maybe the biggest)we are among the league leaders in goals for. They seem to not throw many pucks away anymore and instead dump the puck into places where we will retrieve it.

    Heart……..Kudos to Tom K for going at Hnidy after taking a run at Begin. Begin probably would have got up and done it himself despite it being his first game back from a shoulder injury. Tom K stepped in immediately and made sure that wouldn’t happen. I have yet to see him win a fight this year but every time he drops his gloves someone else doesn’t have to and that kind of sacrifice has to be admired. Sergei K……just the latest of the young guys to grow up before us and against the Bruins. O’Byrne had multiple baptisms (It think that may be a sin of some sort)and Andrei K was ceremoniously welcomed to the bigs by the Bruins as well I believe a while back….Lats and Gorges too have become men this year and the mere act of dropping your gloves grows confidence in these guys. It makes them feel like they belong (to themselves as well as their teammates). The team toughness I yack about on here is gradually taking shape. Now when Chips gets back he needs to also and I’d like to see Lapierre drop them soon as well…win or lose doesn’t matter. Komisarek…..he protects Huet like he is his mother…..it has become contagious as we now crowd like a a gangland swarming around our goalie when the puck is covered…about time. Also Pleks needs a little mention for taking a knock from Chara and then immediately throwing a shoulder (maybe an elbow…who knows it wouldn’t hurt that animals chest anyway as that is where it ended up hitting him) right back at him a couple seconds later. Chara then proceeded to steamroll someone but it showed we won’t be pushed around without giving something back.

    The Bruins have been our doormats all year but they must also be thanked for the lessons we have learned in playing them. It seems they have been the best practice squad we could have asked for…. and the twelve points have helped too.

  99. 24 Cups says:

    kRob – Re the Huet save – the same thing happened in the last game against Boston when Huet made a great save early in the 1st period after a Gorges giveaway. Sometimes these early plays set the tone for the entire game.

    The Original 24 Cups

  100. OldGrover says:

    Cakewalk is a traditional African American form of music and dance which originated among slaves in the Southern United States. The form was originally known as the chalk line walk; it takes its name from competitions slaveholders sometimes held, in which they offered slices of hoecake as prizes for the best dancers.[1]

    Modern times

    The term “cakewalk” is often used to indicate something that is very easy or effortless. Though the dance itself could be physically demanding, it was generally considered a fun, recreational pastime. The phrases “takes the cake” and “piece of cake” also come from this practice.[1]

  101. J.T. says:

    Thanks, Grover! I learned something new today.

  102. krob1000 says:

    Gretzky triggered something although I would mention on here. I just read a quote of his the other day and although I don’t remember it exactly I will relay the jist of it for anyone who coaches hockey or has kids playing. He said “people talk about skating, shooting, passing but the whole game is angles and caroms and factoring in all of the possible interruptions to determine where the puck is going”. His dad used to give him a rink board and have him draw the path of the puck on it while he watched hockey games to learn where ti would most likely end up. I think it worked.

  103. 24 Cups says:

    kRob – She must feel the same way about the cumputer after you type out some of your prodigious posts:-)

    The Original 24 Cups

  104. krob1000 says:

    lol I post from work. They only take a few minutes so when I look at the length of them I am often surprised. There are just so many things to yack about when it involves the Habs.

  105. J.T. says:

    Sorry, Chris…it wasn’t me who had a bad feeling about the Boston game. I know Boone did, but not me. I actually feel pretty upbeat about the Jersey game. Our guys are on a high and playing a good team game, with Huet holding the fort when he needs to do it. I think they’ll be competitive at least.

    Glad to hear the views of someone who’s seen more of Sergei than I have…because I *really* like him.

  106. krob1000 says:

    like him like more than a friend???

    I too think we are no tovermatched against Jersey and the games are always close unlike our HAbs Bruin thing where we seem to dominate. Basically it boils down to Brodeur. If we played like last night against the Sens or Wings we would beat them occasionally too. The Devils to me aren’t anywhere nearly as imposing as those teams. Brodeur is though but maybe he won’t play or……..has anyone looked into how long the Devils will have been off the ice prior to our game? Maybe the Montreal bias schedulemakers have this one already in the bag for us. I am going to investigate now it is SUCH an important factor…….right cagerattler?

  107. nightmare_49 says:

    Hamilton Dawgs beat Lake Erie in a shootout after playing to a 2-2 tie. Dawgs scorers Ferland and Locke as Carey Price stopped 16 of 18 after 65 minutes. In the shootout he stopped 5 of 6 while Matt D’Agostini potted 2 for the shootout win after 6 rounds. 2nd star) Corey Locke 3rd star) J. Ferland.

  108. frank81 says:

    According to hockeydb.com, Carey is 4-2 with a 3.38 GAA and 0.861 SV%. I wonder what those stats would be if you discounted the blowout losses. Has anyone here seen him play in Hamilton? Is he looking sharp?

  109. The Teacher says:

    TSN- The Canadiens will counter with their own star netminder on Thursday, when Cristobal Huet gets his eighth straight start. He is 0-6 against the Devils, but is 8-2-1 in his last 11 games.

  110. StillattheMapes says:

    Our boys are doing very well this year, well beyond what anyone on this site predicted or could hope for, and they are also coming together as a team. Socialization of vision and cultural change are important, and I think the GM has taken a few courses to this effect (ho, ho) to supplement his natural intuition for good players. Carbs has been also been sent to Senior Mgt Boot Camp and been assigned a very hands-on management coach (duh, you think), though he still has not learned to completely control his temper. Just my view.

    I like our team, then of course I always do no matter what.
    New Jersey is hoodoo, and we will beat them by 2-3.

  111. Chuck says:

    He’s looking fine. The blowouts had more to do with crummy d-zone coverage and tip-ins than anything that’s wrong with Carey.

    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.