About last night …

No team, not even the 1976-’77 Montreal Canadiens, plays 82 great games.

And trust me: your 2010-’11 Canadiens aren’t their 60-8-12/132-pts/nine HoF forebears.

The team was overdue for a bad game, and that’s what they played for the last 40 minutes in Philadelphia.

You can imagine what Peter Laviolette told his Flyers after the first period:

“Listen up, ladies. We are losing 2-0 to a team we @#$%ing OWNED in the playoffs. They had 15 shots in OUR BUILDING. Their goals were scored by the most annoying &^%$# in the league.

“Are you going to lose to a team that has an AHL defenceman from Switzerland playing forward?”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Shots in the second and third periods were 36-16 Philadelphia.

Ask yourself this: What would the score have been if Brian Boucher were the Canadiens goaltender and Carey Price were in nets for Philadelphia? (Which might have been one of the trade scenarios pitched to Pierre Gauthier last summer; we’ll never know.)

Because Price is still on the team, the Canadiens maintained one of the NHL’s more remarkable early-season streaks: They have yet to yield more than three goals in regulation time.

Here’s a quote that will help put a bad outing in perspective. After his Dallas Stars lost 3-1 to the Leafs last night, Marc Crawford said “The positive thing is there are a billion people in China who don’t know that we played terrible tonight.”

 

There are 3 million people in Montreal and its ‘burbs. And 2.5 million will be on hold to the phone-in shows today, waiting to vent about Scott Gomez and why Mathieu Darche should be playing and the crap power play and the fatal error of trading Ryan O’Byrne and the urgent necessity of calling up David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty NOW.

Hey, it was one game … 40 lousy minutes.

The sun rose this morning – in Montreal and Beijing.

The Canadiens and Flyers are 1-1 this season, and Philadelphia is at the Bell Centre 10 days before Christmas.

Of more immediate concern are two tough challenges, tomorrow night’s game against L.A. at the Bell Centre and a Friday night visit to Atlanta to face the much improved Thrashers before scooting home to play the Sabres on Saturday.

The Canadiens were soundly beaten by a very good hockey team. Key stat: Philadelphia had a 38-22 faceoff advantage. Jeff Halpern, who won 6 of 11, was the only centre with a positive percentage. So the Canadiens chased the pouck all night against a big, highly-skilled team.

And as Carey Price said, the rope-a-dope strategy, in protection of what Don Cherry rightly (even blind squirrels find nuts once in a while) calls the worst lead in hockey, “didn’t work out.”

Momentum shifted for good after a second-period penalty to Benoit Pouliot (whose ice time diminished thereafter). The Flyers didn’t score (the Canadiens’ 90.8 per cent PK is still the league’s best), but they wreaked havoc in the Canadiens’ end, with Scott Hartnell and Jeff Carter parked on the lip of the crease, and played the rest of the game like they had a man advantage.

One of my favourite members of the Commentariat, JF, summed things up succcinctly:

This game was a reality check.  The Habs are good, but not that good.
 To win, we have to use our speed and keep the intensity level up.
 After the first period, we didn’t do that.  The Flyers looked faster
and more determined.  Their domination was so total that I could barely
stand to watch.

All our scorers seem to be streaky, and no one is
scoring at the rate they were last year, most notably Cammalleri and
Gionta, who tended to produce in bunches with a couple of games between
each bunch. 24 Cups above is right in saying this game recalled last
spring’s playoffs.  After the first period, we had trouble keeping the
Flyers out of our crease, and we couldn’t penetrate theirs. We badly
need a big, net-crashing scorer if we are to be competitive against
teams like the Flyers.

JF and friends will have to carry the ball – or should that be lug the puck? – for the L.A. game tomorrow.

I have personal business to attend to, and the ironman streak that began in January ’09 is ending.

I’ll be back in the saddle (how many clichès can one man write?) for the road game in Atlanta, where the Canadiens likely will face Ondrej Pavelec, Allan Walsh’s other favourite goaltender.

Until then, try to remain calm.

 

 

 

102 Comments

  1. mjames says:

    Every time we play either the Flyers or the Ducks and we lose we hear the same old tired refrain. We need to get bigger up front. Enough with this BS. We need to play like we did in the first period. You can say we were grossly outplayed by the Flyers but if we had buried our chances we would have scored around six goals. I think we hit two posts and had at least 5 breakaways or two on ones. Convert a few of those chances and it is an entirely different game. When we skate like we did in the first the Flyers can not stay with us.

     

     

    mjames

  2. MathMan says:

    Work ethic and chemistry is all well and good but it didn’t stop them from being dominated like an AHL club by all three teams.

    In fact, Philly was by far the weakest of the three clubs Montreal faced last year, and the one that dominated them the least. But they had been lucky against the better Washington and Pittsburgh clubs, and their luck ran out.

    It’s nice to romanticize the two 7-game series, but the reality of them is, Montreal really had no business being in those games at all, work ethic or not. By all rights they should have gotten blown out. Halak stood on his head and still it shouldn’t have been enough but for a LOT of good fortune.

    What’s really changed is the strategic approach. Whereas last year they were a puck-concession, sit-back-and-defend, don’t-try-to-get-the-puck club, this year they forecheck, pressure in the D-zone, transition, and try to keep the play in the offensive zone. They went from a stupid system to a workable one and since they actually had some really good ES players, it shows.

  3. punkster says:

    Who’d a thunk it! Hey, I like this team. They’re far less frustrating than last year’s version because JM has them playing fast and furious most of the time. It’s when he pulls them back (or is it when they simply slack off???) that they frustrate me no end. Not a bad season so far and if the scorers wake up…!

  4. JohnBellyful says:

    That makes two of us.

  5. MathMan says:

    DOH! And I knew that, too. I feel dumb now. >.<

    My apologies to JF.

  6. punkster says:

    I love it. I’m definitely in category one. No wait, I mean two. No…hang on, category one. Yep definitely category…uh…two, er….one…maybe.

     

    I’m a glass half-assed sort fo guy.

  7. Mike Boone says:

    Call JF whatever you want … except “he”.

  8. Tobiass says:

    Can The Gazette not call up a blogger from the farm team to take over for one game or is The Gazette up against the cap?

  9. joeybarrie says:

    BYF is a defender. He is also 3rd overall in points among defenders. He would be 1st with ONE MORE POINT… Not that he would be the solution. We have a pretty good defence. (although it would be nice to have him right now with Markov out). In the end though to say he is overrated is not a very smart comment to make right now. Kind of like saying Price is overrated.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  10. Barts says:

    Sorry, but JF is right. We need a big net crashing presence, and God bless him, David Desharnais is not the answer. Better yet, we need a big net crashing scoring CENTER, the securing of which has been the failure of the organization for too many years to count. Not unlike Philly’s failure to solve their goaltending problems, which stretches back to the Bob Clarke management era.

  11. ctony says:

    you must be a stats major. 
    i was an applied math guy myself. 
    so, could your stats predict the kind of number carey is posting so far
    this year, or is that a small sample size that will revert to the mean?

     

    Carey prior to this season: 60-48-18, 2.77GAA, .912 SV%

    This season: 12-7-1- 
    2.05  .932

  12. Clay4bc says:

    Lol…wrote almost the same thing below as you were writing this. So needless to say, I agree.

    _________________________

    I had some hockey taglines, but I don’t know where the puck I put them.

  13. Clay4bc says:

    Yes, I agree that they have not played the same style. But that’s all that has really changed – the work ethic. We need to work hard every shift to win games.

    We had this ethic in the playoffs last season though, and Philly still made them look bad. They will do so again unless we get better, or Price steals the show.

    __________________________

    I had some hockey taglines, but I don’t know where the puck I put them.

  14. punkster says:

    The team may be almost the same but their method of play or style is different. They generally do not sit back this year and generally do challenge and go for puck possession. However they do, at times, fall back into old habits. You’ll note that when they do resort to last year’s style they lose their leads.

  15. ctony says:

    maybe.  but, he’s
    lagging four other top-6 edmonton forwards in ice time, has 11 points in 19
    games, and will be an UFA at the end of the next season.  Doubtful he will re-sign with edmonton.  so they will probably move him at some
    point.  

  16. joeybarrie says:

    Very true, but how do you fix a powerplay that topped the league the last 3 years, with basically the same players?

    The only way is to replace Markov. Not possible if he is going to play at all this season.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  17. JohnBellyful says:

    Being a Hab fan, especially the kind that bleeds bleu-blanc-rouge, is an either/or proposition:

    Either

    We lost to the *^&$*# Flyers. Gave up a two-goal lead. Got badly outplayed in the second. Wasted another fine effort by Price. And an unexpected two-goal performance by Lapierre. Ugh.
    But, hey, the team that was expected to fight for a playoff spot, leads its division, stands third in the conference, is getting phenomenal goaltending from Price and outstanding two-way play from Plekanek, and has the best penalty-killing unit in the league. Gawd, just imagine how good this team will really be when Gomez finally gets untracked, the offence develops consistency, Eller sheds the goose egg and the power play starts producing the way it used to.

    Or

    We’re leading the division and stand third in the conference when we were supposed to be fighting for a playoff spot, Price is giving us phenomenal goaltending and Plekanek has been outstanding at both ends of the ice, and the penalty killing unit is the best in the league. Hooray.
    But, geez, we lost to the *^&$*# Flyers. Gave up a two-goal lead. Got badly outplayed in the second. Wasted another fine effort by Price. And an unexpected two-goal performance by Lapierre. Gawd, just imagine how bad this team will really be if Gomez continues to play as he has, the goal scorers remain inconsistent, Eller can’t find the net and the penalty-killing unit starts to weaken.

    They say of certain places in Canada that if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes and it’ll change. The HIO weathervane always gets a good workout. I guess I’m one of those helping to make it spin.

  18. joeybarrie says:

    Let me ask this question. If we addressed all our so called weakeness’ what would we end up with?

    -We trade our aging defencemen for younger ones

    -We trade our underperforming players

    -We trade our smaller guys for bigger ones

    -We trade our center for a big net crashing player

    We lose….  PLEKS, GOMEZ, GIONTA, CAMMALLERI, HAMRLIK, SPACEK, GILL, PYATT and PK SUBBAN.

    Basically the team that got us to the Eastern Conference Finals and beat the number one offensive team in the league, as well as the team with the best player in the league…

    People have to learn to take the good with the bad. So far we haven’t even hit our highest gear, and we are still 4th in the league. We have beaten many GOOD teams, and as for PHILLY… Well yes they beat us last night, but so far in 2 games we outscored them, and didn’t get shut out. We completely killed them and when we player poorly we still only lost by one goal.. LETS REMEMBER THE TWO POSTS WE HIT LAST NIGHT.

    YES I said MANY good teams… PENGUINS, SABRES, SENATORS, PHOENIX, VANCOUVER, BOSTON, PHILLY, AND LOS ANGELES…(got to be optimistic)

    Its really EASY to say we have to do this and do this… But it changes the dynamic of the team. PLUS, you may not be in return what you want for them. Just because YOU believe certain teams will accept certain deals, does not make it true. Do you really think we can trade Spacek, Hamr, and Gomez for Bieksa, Ehrhoff, and Raffi Torres???????

     

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  19. MathMan says:

    Small sample size. Let’s see if he keeps this up over a longer period. I’ll be surprised if he does. Except for a fortunate run in the playoffs there’s nothing in his history to suggest he’s a 70-point player, and his underlying numbers for Chicago weren’t precisely great.

  20. MathMan says:

    Last year’s team and its system were so completely unlike this year’s that you can’t really draw conclusions about what they can and cannot do. They were clobbered like a baby seal by everyone and it’s only unholy goaltending and incredible luck that saw them past Washington and Philly. They completely overhauled their playstyle this year and it shows.

    MAB is a no-go for the Habs. Last year they were a putrid 5-on-5 squad anyway and survived only due to the PP, so it made sense to add MAB because PP scoring was their only hope of survival. They’re actually pretty good at evens this year, and now can’t afford to have a liability like MAB that they need to over-protect.

    Unless they’ve decided to be last year’s team, but it’s a bit late to be tanking for a draft pick.

    What the Habs need first and foremost is a top-6 forward. Martin keeps having to shuffle 5 guys into 6 spots and include a grinder who’s invariably in over his head.

  21. ctony says:

    In general, yes.  Hopefully, we can chalk up the last 40 minu es of last night’s game to brain freeze.  It just looked eerily familiar.

  22. Clay4bc says:

    Last year they would basically sit back all the time, defend the slot,
    not even challenge for the puck or attempt puck possession.
    It was a big
    reason as to why they sucked all year. It was a miracle of good luck
    that they made the playoffs at all and an even bigger miracle that
    Washington didn’t summarily turn them into road kill. That team was baaaaaaaad.”

    This is exactly what last night’s team did. And guess what – with a (very) few minor differences, this year’s team is the same as last year’s team.

    __________________________

    I had some hockey taglines, but I don’t know where the puck I put them.

  23. ctony says:

     

    You mean this Dustin Byfuglien? 6-3, 246:  21 GP, 7-12-19 0+/- averaging 21.31 minutes
    per game.  Yeah, the stats confirm he’s in
    way over his head.  I for one wouldn’t
    want a 25 year old like this on one of top 2 defensive pairings or adding some
    sizing and second on our team in scoring.. NOT.

     

  24. MathMan says:

    They have a different system.

    Last year they would basically sit back all the time, defend the slot, not even challenge for the puck or attempt puck possession. It was a big reason as to why they sucked all year. It was a miracle of good luck that they made the playoffs at all and an even bigger miracle that Washington didn’t summarily turn them into road kill. That team was baaaaaaaad.

    This year’s team is very different — they are forechecking, transitioning the puck, attacking at even-strength. There’s no comparison at all in the style of play or the results. And in the rare cases where they don’t, well, they go back to being a lottery team — like last night, say.

  25. MathMan says:

    Penner would be a fantastic pick-up, but I doubt even the Oilers are silly enough to ditch their best player…

  26. ctony says:

    Philly beat us pretty easily last fall.  If their small, speedy forwards are better
    than our small, speedy forwards then we need a different system for them.  Last night was a repeat.

     

    Insanity: doing
    the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Einstein. 

  27. Clay4bc says:

    Some people in China do know that they played terribly last night…

    __________________________

    I had some hockey taglines, but I don’t know where the puck I put them.

  28. MathMan says:

    Byfuglien is overrated. A third-line forward (or third-pairing D-man) whose reputation was inflated by a particularly fortunate playoff run. He wouldn’t be the solution for the Habs.

    I’m guessing management watched the playoffs more closely than the pundits and actually realized that size was not the factor people think it is. Montreal was killed by the Flyers’ small forwards and by their inability to break Philadelphia’s left wing lock once the Flyers got a lead.

    But mostly, their luck ran out. Outside the crease, the 09-10 Habs were a very bad hockey club. Nothing like this year’s.

  29. MathMan says:

    Except that with rare exceptions, they haven’t played the same style of play since game 1. Which is why they aren’t at the bottom of the conference.

    I’ve been blaming Martin for last year’s debacle because they had the horses and the #1 problem the team had was a terrible system/style. Kudos to him for turning it around (I guess even coaches can have terrible years on occasion) but he can’t let it happen again.

  30. Ali says:

    BINGO! we have a winner

  31. ctony says:

    If you give me your watch, I’ll tell you the time. 

  32. MathMan says:

    I was with JF until he went on the old we-need-size-to-beat-the-Flyers nonsense.

    I did a little experiment a while back and checked who was on the ice for the Flyers goals in the playoffs. Unless Philly’s big guys were able to intimidate and crash the net from the bench they weren’t a major factor. Philly’s small speedy scorers, the Briere and Giroux, killed the Canadiens.

    Oh, and all scorers are streaky. At some point our guys will start having more puck luck. Especially Gomez, the guy seems to radiate an aura of misfortune. He keeps generating scoring chances and the Habs come up with bupkis while he’s on the ice. It’s leading to a lot of nonsense being written about him. A few points would get the vultures off his back and he doesn’t even really need to change his game to get them.

  33. ctony says:

    I like the thinking but Chicago needed to dump a LOT of
    salary and we couldn’t absorb it.  That
    trade alone helped them shed $6.6m in salaries at a time when we were
    shoe-horning Boyd’s $650k under the cap. 
    Chicago didn’t have the room to take back any of our high priced guys
    and they picked up a first and second. 
    Montreal only trades that for guys like Tanguay.

    Seriously, with Markov presumably on LTIR we have the room
    to make a trade like this.  I suggested
    Penner a couple of weeks back.  He got
    some mention on these boards yesterday.  A
    lot of other top-6 wingers have been mentioned here as well.  Penner could probably be had for less than
    Atlanta’s prospects and picks.  I’d like
    to see a Weisnewski type on D.  The Ilses
    have to be a willing trade partner at some point.  

  34. FormalWare says:

    Lose PK Subban? How? I don’t follow. (Besides, this organization isn’t going to trade Subban, except for another bona fide superstar-in-the-making.)

  35. arcosenate says:

    I was thinking about that last night as I watched him skate around for no apparent reason and give advice on the bench.  He must be a consultant, and like every consultant he’s not actually expected to get results.

  36. Desgardens says:

    Hey Boone, how come the HIO guys aren’t getting on Martin about his crappy line juggling.  Martin f*%ked everything up by breaking apart the Pleks-Cammy-AK46 line.  Cammy has hardly done anything without Pleks and Martin took a red-hot AK46 and asked him to chill out with Gomez (basically a curse the way Gomer has been playing).

    The team was doing fine with the Pleks line together and Martin thought he should experiment.  Well the experiment was over 2 games ago – it hasn’t worked.  I know we need another top 6 forward but splitting up a hot line to get the 2nd line going was a big mistake.

    As far as Weber is concerned, I don’t understand why Martin doesn’t have him on the whole PP (at least he should be on the 1st PP line), it’s not like he’s playing a lot of minutes… and for what little time Weber has been on the PP, who has more PP points, Weber or Darche?

    Martin’s line strategy is mind-boggling and disconcerting.

  37. arcosenate says:

    You know, if we needed a big net crashing forward, why were we not involved when Chicago was getting rid of Byfuglien?  Did our management not watch the playoffs last year?  It’s not like the Hawks were asking for the moon in return:

    Chicago Blackhawks traded Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel and Akim Aliu to the Atlanta Thrashers for Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin, Joey Crabb, a 1st and a 2nd round selection in 2010.

    The draft picks would hurt but they would have delivered exactly what we needed, it’s not like we’ve developed anyone like Byfuglien through the draft for the past 20 years.

  38. FormalWare says:

    Is Penner the Oilers’ best player, or is Ales Hemsky–who might be available, according to the reports I’m hearing out West, here. (Probably a moot point; we’d much rather have Penner than Hemsky–right, PG?)

  39. JohnBellyful says:

    Just wondering:

    – Has anyone here actually read Gomez’s contract? Maybe it doesn’t say anything about scoring goals. Maybe the wording is a bit ambiguous about earning assists. Maybe he’s getting paid by the hour.

     

    “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”

  40. JF says:

    Presumably Pierre Gauthier watched the game last night.  He’s been pretty good so far at addressing our weaknesses, and most of his moves have worked out.  We’ll know very soon how long Markov will be out for and how much cap room we’ll have in consequence.  The period is approaching when teams will start making moves, and I hope Gauthier will be able to add some size and scoring punch to our roster.

    I think we should still consider signing Marc-André Bergeron to help the powerplay, despite his obvious weaknesses. The thing about him is that he would be cheap, which would still leave us in a position to do something else.  It’s clear we have to; otherwise, the playoffs will be a repeat of last year’s – we’ll be successful against teams that rely on speed and offence, but hit the wall against a big, bruising team like the Flyers or one that plays a tight, grinding defensive system like the Bruins. 

  41. ctony says:

    I thought about your sub .900 SV% comment and did some
    analysis in games where Carey’s save percentage dipped below .900.  Five in total:

     

    .875 lost to Toronto 3-2, add your own commentary here 8-9-3

    .842 beat Ottawa 3-0
    when they were struggling, 10-10-1

    .850 lost 3-0 to New Jersey, 6-13-2

    .857 beat the
    Islanders 5-3, one of the worst teams in recent history, 4-12-4

    .875 lost 3-0 to Columbus, good and underrated team, 13-6

     

    So, 2-3 in five games against teams ranked: 5, 21, 24, 29, and 30 (average rank 21.8).  Forgiving the loss to number five ranked, Columbus,
    we went 1-3 against some pretty bad teams when Carey’s SV% was sub .900.  This is the stuff that concerns me about our
    ability to win against top teams when our goaltending isn’t lights out.

     

    On the other hand, Carey’s record in games when his SV% is
    above .900 is: 10-4-1 with a GET THIS, 1.74 GAA, .948 SV% four shut outs.  Totally out of control – and, to your point,
    likely unsustainable.  The average rank of
    teams we played in those 15 games, 16.1. 
    Proving, again, that we only win when he stands on his head. 

     

    Now, contrast this season’s scoring with last season’s
    playoffs scoring.   This season we average .91 goals per game in
    losses and 3.33 goals per game in wins. 
    Last year in the playoffs, we averaged 1.5 goals per game in losses and
    3.5 goals per game in wins.  Which makes
    us even more reliant on superior goaltending to win games than last year’s
    playoff run. 

     

    And the playoffs doesn’t include teams ranked in the 20s,
    which means tougher competition.  In last
    year’s playoffs, we only won one playoff
    game last year when Halak had a SV% under .943
    (Halak had .919 in 4-3 win
    over Pittsburgh). 

     

    Looking at data, it’s difficult to find any empirical evidence
    supporting the notion that Martin has radically changed the way this team
    plays.  

  42. MathMan says:

    If Gauthier can con Tambellini out of Penner, I’ll be ecstatic.

  43. DavidKB says:

    Regarding Pacioretty, from what I’ve read and seen he is more of a wheeling and dealing kind of player than a guy who will be effective standing in front of the net. I am looking forward to seeing him get his shot at playing for and sticking with the Habs.

  44. Captain aHab says:

    They are bringing up a great blogger but he’ll be used as a janitor during the game to use his skills as badly as possible.

  45. SeriousFan09 says:

    Boone told me flat out I’ll be spending my entire ELC in the minors. Concerns are I’d come up, pitch a bad live blog, the boo birds would shatter me and they’d have to trade me to TB Inside/Out in a month.

     

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

  46. Mike Boone says:

    I think the coach was accommodating his captain, who wanted to be paroled from Gometraz.

  47. Mike Boone says:

    In a folder on my hard drive. How did you know?

  48. Max_a_million says:

    Oh, I was wondering where the naked pictures of aboriginal women were.

  49. ctony says:

    I agree with most of the points you make here, including this one. There will be some reversion in Price’s numbers but I am enjoying his play right now. As much as I enjoyed and greatly appreciated Halak for overcoming a defensive shell system that resulted in him facing more shots than Daffy Duck in a rabbit season/duck season episode.

    For now, until I see them win a few without a dominant performance from Price, I’ll enjoy the ride and stay skeptical about our scoring, size and Martin’s coaching.

  50. Max_a_million says:

    I think I agree with you, but you have confused me with the number of different directions you have moved to so very quickly.  This was kind of a Scott Gomez post … lots of effort and great pace, but you missed the assist. :(

  51. JohnBellyful says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head (always good place I’ve found). Gomez has long been known for his sarcastic wit which made us think of him as an insulting player. But now we know he’s a consulting forward.

  52. Max_a_million says:

     

    I don’t know about “anything”.  Patches is on his way soon, and Eller is coming along nicely.  No need to panic. 

  53. Max_a_million says:

    Gill doesn’t have the hands and ability to do that.  We have players who have tried to do so.  It’s professional hockey, and guys who are good at it make it look easy, but standing in front of the goalie and deflecting shots takes a lot of skill or else everyone Guillame Lantendresse included could do it. 

  54. Mike Boone says:

    They don’t want to place me on IR, despite obvious substance abuse, sleep deprivation and evidence of an imminent shutdown of my central nervous system. Chillax, I’ll be back Friday.

  55. Mike Boone says:

    This is HIO, not National Geographic.

  56. Max_a_million says:

     

    They are locked into a crap long term contract with Jack Todd who hasn’t scored in years … and who alas is untradeable.  Sorry :(

     

  57. Max_a_million says:

    I didn’t like breaking up a hot line to try to make 2 lines work.  Keep the hot line churning, and let the other line figure it out or play less.  Now we have two lines scoring less than the one hot line was. 

  58. Max_a_million says:

    Boone,

    Unfortunately the sun has not actually risen in Beijing since this game has taken place (it had risen right at the beginning of the game). 

    It is scheduled to do so at 7:08 pm tonight … should I be worried?

    m

  59. MathMan says:

    They already had a few games they won despite Price going sub-.900, so it’s happened this year.

    It’s not going to happen versus a team like the Flyers, however. Against the lower-tier teams it might, and has, but the Flyers are too good to get dominated over a full game.

  60. MathMan says:

    Goalies are notoriously more volatile. Price’s underlying numbers ( his ES percentage especially ) indicated that he was likely better than his overall save percentage made him look. He’s also two years younger at a position that peaks older than skaters; some incremental improvement was to be expected.

    Besides, and I hate to break this to you, he won’t stay at .932 his whole career either, unless he is the best goalie in NHL history. Small sample size, again, same as Byfuglien. Expect him to settle in the .915-.917 range over time. This hot streak is great, and all power to Carey, but it’ll be a feat that will be hard to sustain over a full season, and impossible over a career.

    As for his W-L record, well, he’s playing behind a much smarter club this year, and that’s more important to W-L (which is a team stat) than the goalie’s actual play. There are goalies who play .912 hockey and win the President’s trophy.

  61. Timo says:

    HIO would not be able to afford me.

  62. Danno says:

    Timo, they could do a salary dump with Todd to clear some cap space.

     

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  63. Mike Boone says:

    I reached strikingly similar conclusions watching the game on TV.

  64. mbplekfan says:

    Timing is everything. Price is all-world a year early. PK is too good one year too early. Eller is a year away from finding his way in the NHL.

    This team has cap space next year and opportunities to fix the problems but we are pretty good right now.  We have a young group that is getting better too fast. Instead of focussing on winning next year we might make a mistake and trade away needed players in an attempt to win this year.

    Our defence lacks a physical presence. We simply arent tough enough to keep the crease clear of the bigger players.

    Our forwards are fine for the most part. Gomez is dragging down the whole group with his poor play but aside from him we are doing ok. We even have depth which could be used to trade for that needed defenceman but we cant move the defenceman we need to replace. Spacek has a NTC and Hal Gill cant be moved.

    We could package up Lapierre and Gorges and get a good defenceman but we need to shed salary in order to do so. So many constraints keep all teams from doing whats necessary to get better.

  65. New says:

    Tell you the truth I thought the Flyers played fine in the first. Boucher got lucky with a post but really had bad luck on both Habs goals. In other words the Flyers deserved better coming out of the first.

    I had kind of thought Gomez was going to work his way out of his …well there really isn’t a word for it. I don’t know why he passes to nowhere or does the things he does. I guess the rest of the team isn’t on the same page as Gomez. He sure has talent though. I saw it when he was with Jersey. Maybe the team will come around to psychically knowing what Scott is intending to do. Probably before Gomez himself knows.

    If the Habs are back and going to play that way Price will wear down. The fans who jumped on the bandwagon will blame the goalie, they always do.

    Let’s hope JM knows what he’s doing. Maybe they do need to skate more, and when the vets complain, more again.

  66. NoTinFoilCups says:

    Gorges my friend is a keeper. You don’t trade heart and soul players who give it all each and every game.

  67. habsfanmandy says:

    I think this is a good time to point time to point out that the major scandal of this past summer, Gomez changing his jersey number, DID NOT HELP HIM AT ALL. So much for his moaning over how much he wanted it, what a “dream come true” it was (direct quote). And we all said, maybe, just maybe, it’ll change his luck, he’ll play better, more like he wants it, WELL?? WELL?

    Guess it didn’t have the desired effect, huh?

  68. habsfanmandy says:

    Has JM tried centering Cammy with Eller? I think I see potential there.

  69. habs001 says:

    non of our d has more than one goal…we have 13 forwards on the roster..the bottom 9 have a combined 27 goals…we were 23rd in scoring last year and we are at 21st this year and to be honest i dont believe the scoring will improve by much…the key will be winning 2-1 and 3-2 games… maintaining the pk and solid goaltending and getting a few pp goals…

  70. RS says:

    The flyers are a very good team. They are among the best in the east this year. And the Habs just split a home and home series against them, outscoring them 5-3. I wouldn’t say the sky is falling.

    Yes, Gomez is struggling big time. The PP is not what it should be. Markov is hurt again. I’d like to see Cammallari score more often. AK46 is slipping back into the fog. But, the Habs have been surprisingly good this year. I’d love to see them challenge for the cup, but more honest expectations would be to see them make the playoffs. Right now it looks like they have a pretty good shot of making the playoffs (but it’s only 20 games).

      

  71. notbigbird says:

    Reading the comments here and elsewhere, I’m sure we must have lost 14-0.

  72. light_n_tasty says:

    Which is what the score would have been if you switched the goalies…

  73. Number31 says:

    Though he’s the trigger man, Cammy really should take more faceoffs. He usually wins them…

  74. mbplekfan says:

    He is also our only tradeable commodity on defense. You dont trade Markov or Subban and nobody wants the others.

    You have to offer quality to get quality.

  75. isirota1965 says:

    I was at the game last night (sitting right behind the Habs bench), mixed in with a bunch of fellow Habs fans and some Flyers fans.  Collectively, we all agreed (regardless of team loyalty) that Montreal was completely outclassed in the second and third periods, and that if not for the stellar play of Carey Price, the score could easily have been 7-2 in favour of Philadelphia.  The bright side?  Like Mike noted, it was ONE game.

    As an aside, my 11-year old son and I were both wearing Habs jerseys, and we experienced no animosity at all from the Flyers fans.

  76. Danno says:

    Boone, in your absence couldn’t you hire Timo to act as your surrogate and keep your Ironman streak alive?

    Just a thought :)

     

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  77. Habs Fan in LeafLand says:

    Totally agree with the statement that last night’s game was a reality check for the Canadiens. Hey, they have a very good team on paper, and with Price playing like he wants to assume the throne of the top goalies in the NHL, they should place well. And considering the PP isn’t where it should be, Markov is out and the top scorers aren’t putting enough pucks into the net, they are doing darn well.

    However nobody is walking around thinking we’re going to win the cup this year. May happen (I think the team is setting itself up as good as in any year of recent times to make a run) but they do need to address some things.

    I was hoping last night that the team would collectively pull around Price and try to win him a game, instead of the other way around. Especially after CP made a terrific save in tight on a 2-on-1 after the Flyers made it 3-2. Once again he gave the team a chance to win if not get a point. The team let him down…they should be reminded of this fact. Price had no chance on any of the goals.

    It might have been interesting ultimately to see how the game would have played out had the Canadiens not taken a 2-0 lead. They dominated the 1st period and should have scored a few more; but their top lines were not clicking last night and didn’t take advantage of their opps (starting with Cammelari’s partial breakaway after the opening faceoff). Great to get production from Lappy, but we really needed someone from the top lines to put in that 3rd goal. They were facing a shaky goaltender in Boucher and should have shelled him. As is the way it seems to usually go, the first team to get to 3 goals usually wins. Last night was no exception.

    http://habsfaninleafland.blogspot.com/

  78. RetroMikey says:

    Not saying I am unique punkster but when you have HIO members like Saskhabfan, HardHabits, and others bashing me with comments I make for suggestions on the team upgrade, go back and check their comments on what they said about me.

    “We will win the Cup one day only with ? in the nets “

  79. habs001 says:

    pk is young and will get better on the pp…but with spacek,hammer,picard and gorges on the pp point we will not have a dominating pp that we can rely on to get a big goal at key moments….i am not sure we even have a forward who can play the point…i believe the pp will struggle all year unless we get markov back or another pointman emerges or we pickup….i was hoping pk would have more than one goal but looks like this is a learning year for him…

  80. Captain aHab says:

    I think the lack of a big shot is compounded by the lack of guys willing to play in front of the net. They tried Weber (not all that well mind you) and that hasn’t worked so why not bring someone up who’ll be willing to get his nose dirty? I seem to remember White saying that if he needed to score one off of his head, he was good with that. Why not try him and see what happens? Might not need lasers from the point if the goalie can’t see them….

  81. Ayan_SB says:

    Like someone asked earlier in this thread, why didn’t the Habs go for Dustin Byfuglien? This is the exactly the type of player this team needs.

  82. Timo says:

    Overdue for a stinker? Are they supposed to stink it up every second game? Last I remember the game against Nashville wasn’t all that great either. And that wasn’t all that long ago. Overdue.

  83. HardHabits says:

    The only person I hold accountable for last night’s loss is JM. He got out-coached. Period. The Flyers came to play hockey for periods 2 and 3 and the Habs were spectators.

    The two biggest issue are Gomez’ lack of production on the scoresheet and that with him playing the way he is the Habs only have 4 top 6 forwards.

    I’d say start limiting Gomez’ ice-time. Keep him under 18 minutes per game. Give Eller better wingers. Send Weber back to Hamilton or use him as a 6th D man on the right side, not as a 4th line left winger.

    In fact I CANNOT stand seeing this continuation of the Streit/MAB utility role. Roll 4 lines, of forwards. Let the D play D.

  84. Captain aHab says:

    Somehow I doubt that Martin said to his guys to stop skating during the first intermission. If the players need the coach to explain to them that this is a big game and they need to play 60, then they need to reconsider this  as a career….

  85. joeybarrie says:

    JM got outcoached last night. I agree. But remember we hit 2 posts, and didn’t really get anything continuously going. That being said, I watched half the game, went to play soccer, and came back and watched the rest. So maybe I wasnt paying full attention. HOWEVER, I didn’t notice Price really making any BIG saves. Not knocking him. What I am saying is that I don’t feel they necessarily got incredible chances. They out shot us and kept us on our heels, but we did score 2 and hit the post twice. Could’ve gone our way. JM liked to sit on a 2-0 lead. PHILLY isnt the team right now to do that with, they have about 33 goals in their last 8 games… One they got shut out… (HE HE HE) the others they got 5, 7, 5, 5, 8. So they are capable of scoring ALOT. So sitting back is not the way to win.

    We NEED Gomez to start producing. But he is not the only one to blame. He put 6-8 pucks in to the center of the net last night, with no Gionta there to put it in. (usually I notice Gio goes to the net when gomez is behind or on the side of the net) He is passing, but we aren’t controlling it. It takes TWO players to be out of sinc, and thats exactly what they are. If you think he is floating and not passing your crazy.

    Our biggest problem right now is our weakness’. They stayed out of the penalty box last night, taking only 4 penalties leaving us with only 7 minutes on the PP. Which we need more, cause our PP sucks. They know when we are up 2-0 we tend to sit back and defend, and they came out to kill us, they had more shots in the 2nd than we have had in some games this season. We are missing our best player and haven’t really done anything about it.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  86. Hobie Hansen says:

    “Are you going to lose to a team that has an AHL defenseman from Switzerland playing forward?”

     

    The above quote is taken from Mr. Boone’s article today where he put hypothetical words in the mouth of the Flyers’ head coach.

    I happen to agree with what he’s imposing 1000%. It’s a joke when the Habs played MAB on the 4th line last year and they’re repeating the same dumb move with Weber this year. Given the fact that the Habs a pretty good team there’s not a huge rush but they better do something before the deadline to fill that hole and get tougher to play against. 

    We could could remain the same and gamble that our offence alone will lead us to the cup but as any hockey fan knows, you need some toughness in the playoffs if you want to succeed. The Flyers wearing us down in the playoffs last year is a classic example.

    Go out and get a guy who can pot 20-30 goals while at least standing up for himself to play on the top two lines, and maybe a bonified intimidator to play on the forth line. Do that and I think we’ve got one heck of a team. 

    The Wings won the cup after getting Shanahan, the Avs won the cup after Lemieux arrived and the NYR made a great pickup in 94 by adding great foot soldiers like Matteau and Noonen to put them over the top.

     The current status of the team is good but it could be great.  Add some grit and determination to this team and we’re one of the best.  

     

     

     

     

  87. smiler2729 says:

    The Flyers are a bunch of subliminal rear ends.

    Everything they do from the GM to the coach to the on-ice goofs is deeply seeped in dirt. They’re dirty, they do it in little ways except when a statement is needed, that has been their M-O since their inception, their idiot fans feed off it.

    I hate the Flyers… cool logo though.

  88. likehoy says:

    I”m happy with the contribution of the 3rd line…

    but it’s time to move pouliot or eller onto gomez’s line to actually give him 2 wingers that have some offensive potential

    moen/lapierre/pyatt and are all good role players, but their role can’t be confused with “sniper”

    like JM said, they need a player that won’t kill the plays when the puck reaches their stick.

    - Gomez is holding down the suck button

  89. Captain aHab says:

    See I think it’s time to move Gomez off of the Gomez line because he is the one killing the plays. Enough with the excuses at this point. They’ve tried everybody with him.

  90. RetroMikey says:

     

    We badly
    need a big, net-crashing scorer if we are to be competitive against
    teams like the Flyers.

    We need a big offensive CMan and a big bruising DMan to compete, 

    I’ve
    said this for the past 2 years on this site and most HIO fans don’t
    agree or are quite content with this current roster we have..

    If
    Gauthier does not act soon, our Montreal Canadiens will sink like the
    Titanic when it comes to the playoffs, an exit  where Boston or Philly
    make it to the final.

    That is not good enough for me.

    Sorry HIO posters, but  we may all hate the Flyers or Bruins but they are doing someting right to make it to the final in the spring by having skill and toughness, we are not doing anything at the moment.

     

    “We will win the Cup one day only with ? in the nets “

  91. punkster says:

    No RM, you’re wrong about something. You’re not unique. Most HI/O posters have called for a big forward and big D since last fall. Go back and check.

  92. RiverviewCanadien says:

    They have to do something with Gomez at this point, if that is reducing his ice time to make way for another player, you do it. I don’t care if he is a veteran and making the most $, he needs to do what is best for the team and if he can’t see that, well there lies a problem. Hey if Kovy can be told to stay home, Gomez can be told to sit down on the bench.

    Prime candidate to take his spot is Lars. Eller is strong on the puck and does not always go north-south like the wind to only run along the boards and lose the puck, he always battles and some nights it appears the puck is stuck to his stick. With that ability he can give ample time to set up the scorers as long as they are moving their feet. IMO if he played a few games consistently with AK and let’s say Camms, I think that would work wonders.

    I also think Pouliot needs to have some more ice time with skilled guys.

    My lines with the current players:
    Pouliot-Pleks-Gionta
    AK46-Eller-Camms
    Darche-Gomez-Lapierre
    Moen-Halpern-Pyatt

    I love playing MTL coach, because everything makes so much sense to me :)

  93. Captain aHab says:

    Last night, the guys on L’Antichambre were saying that you can’t sit a veteran like Gomez because that might wreak havoc in the room. What about not giving guys PP time who should be getting it based on effort and giving it to a guy who is currently afraid of going to the boards and fighting for the puck? Wouldn’t that split the room? How about decreasing the ice time of a guy who has been one of our best forwards in recent times and who just took a penalty while giving big minutes to a guy who isn’t pulling his weight? To me, this could also split a room.

    Gomez was amazing in the playoffs but it might be time to remind him that the team has to get there first and it’ll take effort. And that effort will be rewarded regardless of who you are. Put him on the fourth line for a bit and play with three lines mostly and don’t give him PP minutes. Put Eller on the second wave and give him practice time before proclaiming him a bust on the PP. If Gomez got 20 games to try to work it out, then give Eller at least 10 and I’m pretty sure he’ll play better than Gomez.

    A lot of people are saying that we shouldn’t consider Gomez’ salary when evaluating him. That this is the Molsons’ concern. The issue is that it is also Martin’s problem: he cannot sit a guy making huge bucks without making the organization look bad for trading for him so he has to keep throwing him out there despite lackluster play while penalizing guys for minor transgressions…guys who have played far better than Gomez since the beginning of the year. Does anybody doubt that if Pyatt had played as bad as Gomez since the beginning of the year, he’d be eating hotdogs instead of minutes since early November?

    To me the epitome was last night on the play leading to the winning goal: Gomez could have waltzed untouched to the Flyers net and decided to make a ridiculous pass instead. The Flyers came to our end and Gomez lost his guy and bam…back of the net. How many guys would NOT be sitting a game after that? Yet he’ll probably get thrown back on the PP next game for 3-4 minutes.

    I really love this team but it’s time for Gomez to get a wake up call that the pre-season is over. Gomez needs to stop trying to come in on the boards and come in through the middle with speed. He might get hit instead of just pushed on the board but coming on the wings isn’t working. The other teams have absolutely no fear of him cutting back to the middle from the boards because he never does it. He weakly dumps the puck, gets stopped on the boards and the d-men have lots of time to retrieve before any Hab gets there. Rinse and repeat.

    Loved him in the playoffs last year but he is making horrible decisions right now.

  94. RiverviewCanadien says:

    Couldn’t agree more.

  95. JVF says:

    Maybe Gomez should go back to #91?

  96. ctony says:

    HabsLoyalist summed up it perfectly.  A great analysis of how most of us view the team and where we go from here. 

     

    Aftermath: Square One

  97. Captain aHab says:

    I don’t think they need better play from their 3rd and 4th lines. Those are the lines that have been carrying this team of late. I agree with pretty much everything else JT said. If you put Gomez on the 4th line, reunite the Pleks line and give Eller wingers.

    Maybe something like:

    Pleks/AK/Cammy

    Eller/Pouliot/Gionta

    Have Halpern center the third line and Gomez the fourth and give these guys a combo of Darche, Laps, Moen and Pyatt to play with. And don’t sit Eller if he makes a mistake. Let him gain the experience.

  98. Captain aHab says:

    The other option is to send Weber back down and bring up White to play in front of the net during the PP. I don’t think bringing Weber up to play forward when the guy has been dominating at D in the AHL is the way to go.

  99. ctony says:

    ANY loss leads to venting. 
    That’s human nature.  But almost EVERY
    loss has the same characteristics:  (1) Lack
    of scoring from our top forwards; (2) our old defensemen are too slow; (3) our
    coach fails to adapt to big teams that forecheck; (4) Gomez…  Check the comments after game, read the post
    game analysis from Boone and others. 

     

    Last year Halak was the whole story.  This year, Price is becoming the whole
    story.  Deservedly so.  Four shutouts, plays big in big games (hell,
    plays great in most games), great GAA, SV%, etc.  Good thing. 
    If not, we wouldn’t be lauding Halpern for a shorthanded efforts against
    the Leafs.  We would be chastising our
    leadership (Gomez, Gionta, AK – where did you go???, JM, PG, etc.) for deploying
    the HOPEFULLY-OUR-GOALIE-CAN-BAIL-US-OUT-EVERY-GAME strategy that excelled in
    the playoffs – to a point.

     

    And, that’s the troubling part.  We are not addressing these recurring CORE problems. 

     

     

  100. Max_a_million says:

    I bet Gomez is from the future and afraid that if he does something it will alter the space time continuum.  Meaning if he scores then he might never actually be born! 

    Have Stubbs eagle eyes check while he is looking at water bottles to see if he has his birth certificate on the bench with him to see if it is disappearing?


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