About last night …

This edition of ALN will be terse and pithy.

What is there to say? Your Montreal Canadiens played pithy … yeth, they did.

Seeing their heroes for the first time in a week, 21.273 fans filled the expensive seats of the Bell Centre. They drank overpriced beer, gobbled overpriced hot dogs, bought REALLY overpriced souvenirs and yelled themselves hoarse – at least until the third period, when the inevitability of the outcome became obvious and the giant arena turned into a sold-out Urgel Bourgie (although booing is considered bad form at a visitation.)

Joceleyn Thibault – who had spent 18 of the previous games 20 at the end of the Buffalo bench, watching Ryan Miller – made 24 fairly easy saves. I can’t remember who was prime minister the last time Thibault posted a shutout.

Here’s the game in a shots-on-goal nutshell:

Christopher Higgins: 1

Saku Koivu: 0

Michael Ryder: 0

Jochen Hecht: 7

And what’s that noxious pall hanging over Montreal this morning? It
smells like …. last season. People who have respiratory problems or hopes of this team making the playoffs are advised to stay indoors.

On to Toronto, where – should the Canadiens lay another ACC egg – the panic will officially begin.

66 Comments

  1. The Teacher says:

    if that’s true that’s pathetic…especially since they had the ceremony BEFORE the warmups…

    I do remember the game starting much later than the posted time of 7:38 though.

  2. likehoy says:

    the reason we’re so keen to blowing this team up is because they haven’t had any serious sustained success in recent years. We are in no way confident of this team and we still remember how we expected them to miss the playoffs before the season started, so give us the benefit of the doubt for being impatient.

    But we DO need a trade. We have great young players, we have have great goaltending and excellent young defense on the rise, but where is our game-breaker?? The jury is still out on the Kostitsyns and Higgins may never be able to be a consistent finisher at this rate, but at any rate, we need to pick up that top tier player, and by trade is probably the only way we can do it, and mind you, we have plenty of trade-able pieces in young players, goalies and Ryder. Gainey has already tried getting the top player through the UFA countless times (Shanny, Elias, Briere, Smyth) but has been unsuccessful, he knows it’s something we need to address and through trade is the best way of getting it.

    You heard it here first, it’s not IF he’s going to make a trade, it’s WHEN he’ll make a trade, and he will, the moment he feels the habs are a step away from stanley cup contention.

  3. Kevin says:

    At least Abby was great for the first couple of weeks of the season while Huet was searching for his game. Can’t say the same for Lats. Maybe he’ll be great in a few years, but until then he should only dress for Toronto, and Philly… when size might be a bit more important than skill or speed.

  4. showey47 says:

    Well if we did bring him on board it would be a great short term investment for an even better long term gain if he can show his craft to the likes of chipper, pleky, koivu and anyone else in the system who wants to learn. How he maintains these kind of stats every year? Well from personal experience being a center i would say its a combination of timing, stick speed, being strong on the stick, knowing your opponents tendancies in the circle (to the extent of watching game film) and lots of practice.

    Yanic was probably smart enough to know that he wasn’t gonna be able to rely on foot speed and offence to have a long nhl career. So he mastered a craft that will always be in demand by most nhl teams, it may of prolonged a career that could of ended with the “new nhl” which has claimed the careers of older slower players.

    Trading for perreault can solve alot of the canadiens 5 on 5 problems without giving up anything more than a draftpick or depth player. I know gainey is bent on having a team built on speed. You can have all the team speed you want, if you don’t have the puck most of the time team speed is pretty much useless. As my former coach told me “nobody outskates the puck”.

  5. Yeats says:

    Really sobering thought: the Habs’ first line got just one more shot on net than you or I did last night and we didn’t suit up.

  6. Yeats says:

    The more I think about your point in bringing Yanic Perreault on board the more I like it. Why does this man year in and year out have such fabulous stats on the draw? Is there some special knowledge that he can impart to our other centermen? Also, if we are going to “waste” a roster spot on someone, I’d rather have him than and enforcer, or Lats. Really, why is this guy still on the big team. Is Carbo going to wait all year for him to find his game like Abby last year?

  7. Exit716 says:

    Question Mike or Dave

    I just read in the NY Post that the Habs were fined for the length of the Robinson ceremony.
    Is this true?
    Is so, isn’t that a stinging indictment of what a world class phoney Bettman is?
    Talking about respecting tradition, yet taking the first chance to fleece Uncle George for even more money?
    The Senators were staying the night in Montreal anyway.
    If that is true then the Commissioner needs to be told who really runs the league and who pays the bills for his failed expansion franchises.
    What a joke.

  8. Exit716 says:

    Awesome.
    Can you do a rendition of Boom Boom Mancini?

  9. showey47 says:

    yeats:

    i agree with all the statemens in your first paragraph and how often does koivu win a draw against sundin? Never. Just like the post i made earlier about the importance of winning draws, the laffs always own us in the faceoff circle and are allowed to establish their hard forechecking game because they have the puck most of the time. The team who has the puck most of the time spends most of the time in the other teams end which leads to more scoring chances and also leads to more penalty calls because teams trying to defend their own end. Hence even more scoring chances on the powerplay.

    Its not rocket science if you control the puck, you control the game.

  10. Ed says:

    Here are Yanic’s stats on winning faceoffs when he played with the Canadiens’ in 2003-04. Very impressive!

    http://www.nhl.com/nhlstats/app?fetchKey=20042MONSASAll&page=Stats&service=page&sort=faceOffWinPctg&viewName=summary

  11. Chuck says:

    Friday and Saturday, while not easy to digest, were still our only back-to-back regulation losses this year; not bad for just over 25% of the season. If the team can follow that trend and end up with 4 two game losing streaks this year, I know that I’d be happy!
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    ______________________________________________
    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  12. The Teacher says:

    Mike,

    Do you know if a tape of the hit on Chipchura is being forwarded to the league office?

    Or because it is Vanek he will not get any supplementary discipline?

  13. The Teacher says:

    Oh ya, it could be a lot worse…it could be last year ;)

    I agree, I’d much rather be a the Habs franchise rather than the Laughs franchise right now. Plenty of assets and on the way up. Still two years away, but there is always room to improve. Gainey knows what he’s doing.

  14. Chuck says:

    Personally, I could care less about the laffs. My only concern is that the Habs play hard and are successful. But to hear it from some folks you’d think that the franchise is in as rough shape as them. My point was that that isn’t the case.
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    ______________________________________________
    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  15. Chuck says:

    My point was that if you look at it from “their” perspective, life could be a whole lot worse. To hear it from them, they don’t even remember that last win against us. Their fans are calling for the laffs to blow up the whole team and start all over again, including a mercy trade of Sundin and wholesale changes at the top.

    Yes, we’ve hit a bump in the road–all teams do–but at least we’ve got assets and options to help the team continue to grow. Some of the “sky is falling” crowd needs to look at losses against a still very good Sabres team and the Senators as not the end of the world, but as learning experiences about how to make the team better.
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    ______________________________________________
    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  16. Farmer says:

    gotta leave ryder alone
    he’s working his guts out
    hitting every thing in his path
    he’s bonnifyed top 6 forward
    see how fast he scored on the third line he’s gotta be the trigger man
    he’s trying to play the power gam and thats higgin’s game

  17. Yeats says:

    Even if you disagree with Lafleur about four fourth lines, why do we have two checking lines? This is the New NHL damn it! It’s not like we send them out there to shut down the other squad’s guns. Gainey, Jarvis, and Risebourough were enough for the last extended run. We always put Koivu’s line out there against Sundin’s, for example, ayway. The secret to beating the Habs isn’t brain surgery. Just stay out of the box and play as much five-on-five hockey as you can. They can’t do jack when there are ten skaters on the ice. The only way to counter that strategy, if you’re the Habs, is to show some energy, keep your feet moving and draw penalties. We failed to do that both Friday and Saturday nights.

    You know that barring an appearance by the Virgin Mary, they are going to get their asses handed to them in the ACC Tuesday night. You can pretty much write the script now. The leafs coming off a dreadful road trip are going to come out full of piss and vinegar in the first twenty minutes. The Canadiens’ goaltender, whoever he is, is going to be hanging for dear life off the stern of the Titanic like Leonardo DiCaprio or Kate Winslet. At the same time, we won’t get any shots on the stump that Paul Maurice puts between the pipes. One again, the leafs size will win over our alledged speed and skill. Then, it’s off to face a Devils’ team that has won four in a row as I type. It’s goona be a banner week folks. And, I do hope that I am terribly, terribly wrong.

  18. ebk says:

    I could give a rats ass that they are better than the leafs. If that makes you happy, more power to you. That isn’t such a hard goal to achieve.

  19. The Teacher says:

    J.T. although I agree with most of your points in yesterday’s posting, I do have to say that I disagree with your view on the lateral passing between defencemen.

    Last year we had none of that and often caused us to throw the puck randomly into the neutral zone, pressing our passes which often resulted in nothing.

    This is why I LOVE Hamrlik. I notice that he doesn’t force too many passes and keeps POSSESSION of the puck, which are hallmarks of successful teams.

    I’d much rather have my defenceman pass to his partner who can then maybe make a good breakout pass than to just dump the puck along the boards or force passes into the neutral zone only to lose the puck.

    I agree, too many passes up the boards, need to have a better breakout going up the center of the ice to increase our options instead of dumping it in every single time.

  20. The Teacher says:

    This is reposted from yesterday’s blog, since I posted at the end of the night in a reply to J.T.’s early post, which then got placed in a spot I don’t think anyone read.

    I did notice that Higgins-Kost-Pleks were playing together at the same time Gui-Kovy-Koivu were. I think the chorus of silence is because they were as ineffective together as the rest of the night was….and we can’t boo ourselves can we, the people that have been pushing for this line combo all season…well you got it, and it didn’t work any better. Not to say that it won’t either.

    To J.T.

    1. Worst game of the year in terms of execution- BANG ON, can’t clear the zone for their lives (this wastes SOOOOOO much energy)

    2. My vote for worst effort is definitely last Friday’s game against Buffalo (THAT was pathetic), at least they are skating I find.

    3. I’m not dreading Tuesday’s game against the Leafs….I just have a feeling about that one, but yeah I don’t think their problem was effort, but execution, so let’s see what Higgy says. After reading Higgins comments, he really didn’t focus on the effort part, but more execution.

    4. BANG ON, last 5-7 games Hamrlik has been getting tired out, he’s not playing bad, but leaving himself out of position covering for Breezer…something’s gotta give..and yup, O’byrne might as well be given experience.

    5. The guy (Lats) can’t skate, but I do have to give him credit for picking up his game last few…but WHAT THE HECK is he doing on a line with Koivu and Kovy..that was horrible….

    6. BANG ON. Chasing the puck all game, need I say more…

    7. I disagree, I see the effort, I saw a lot of hitting going on, I saw a lot off ill-advised shots where the rebounds landed straight on a Buffalo player’s stick. INCREDIBLY dissapointed at the lack of reaction to the INCREDIBLY dirty hit on Chipchura, these refs should be fired…it was a blatant hit from behind, BLATANT, that is worse than the DOWNIE hit in my opinion. Incredibly dissapointed with the lack of someone going after Vanek…at the very least you’ll get him a 5 fot fighting, but he should have already been gone for 5 and a game IMO…ridiculousssssss, I don’t know how many times i can say it…RIDICULOUS!

    ok, enough with that rant

    8. Bang on, was really impressed with Kovy’s effort tonight, looks like Carbo even noticed it as they panned on him after that 3rd period shift where he had not one, but two great hits.

  21. CH1909-2009 says:

    Yeah but that’s his game. Like a guy who runs around a lot like Begin, he’s going to find himslef a bit out of position sometimes along the boards, but that’s just the side-effect of being a good hitter. And with Kovy, his posession-game and dangling pushes back defenses and opens up a lot of space which is great, the side-effect being it sometimes rolls of his stick or whatever.

    GO HABS GO

  22. Chuck says:

    Breather time, folks!

    Around this time of thanksgiving (well, American Thanksgiving, anyway) we should be counting our lucky stars that we’re not fans of that club that calls the so-called “Centre of the Universe” home. They’ve won exactly 8 of 24 games (none of them withing recent memory), and what’s worse, the way that the team has been assembled by their inept front office leaves them little hope of righting things any time in the near future.

    We went into this season figuring that we might play .500 to .600 hockey as our youngsters continue to develop. And that’s exactly where we are. We’ve had a good first-quarter of the season to build on, and the areas that we need to improve are becoming apparent. Give them a chance to make those adjustments before writing them off. Through an 82-game season, everyone has hot and cold stretches… heck, even the Senators are suffering through what in relative terms could be called a “slump”. At least we have some options, unlike those other guys down the 401.

    To put thinks in perspective, you should read last night’s comments on the TSN board after the laff’s shelling at the hands of the Coyotes. It’s almost like there’s a sea of blue and white tying boulders to their ankles while toeing the edge of the Bloor viaduct.

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    ______________________________________________
    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  23. CH1909-2009 says:

    I can’t watch the Canadiens when things don’t go well because I can’t get depressed over a game. Ha ha. I have a life. But if they lose in TO I’ll have to boycott the next two weeks just to keep my sanity… what’s left of it after the last trying 15 years of Habs-fan-ship!

    GO HABS GO

  24. Plek-Andrew says:

    Sorry guys, but as much as Kovy was flashy, he had his regular brain-dead plays like he did last year.

    He coughed up the puck SO many times. I would say it was honestly his worst game of the season so far.

    Everyone is talking about how amazing he was but if you paid close attention, he lost the puck. A LOT

  25. nightmare_49 says:

    I’ve glanced thru most of the posts and have not noticed anyone commenting on their most popular post for the past month or so. Didn’t anyone notice that Higgins-Pleks-A.Kostitsyn played together.

  26. Yeats says:

    Hand me the paddles. Clear!!!

  27. The Ian Cobb says:

    Not me, I don’t kick my team when there down. But I hope someone does!

  28. showey47 says:

    it has to come sooner than later, considering his role lapierre would be a better fit.

  29. Yeats says:

    How much longer do you think Carbo will wait before finally sending Lats down to the ‘dog pound? I understand he’s only 20 years old, but I’m having a really hard time seeing the diamond in the rough.

  30. showey47 says:

    Very good point, but what are the ratio’s of face-offs to shootouts to fights in one game. something like 40:1:maybe 1. Considering all the close games we lose, he is 25% better on the draws than anyone in the habs lineup. This swing in puck posession could be the difference in gaining one point instead of no points or 2 points instead of 1 and not giving the opposition a point at all. Considering how last season ended, we all know the value of one point

  31. showey47 says:

    i would give him lats spot and seng gui to the minors. He is probably faster than gui and has much better hands. Hell you can even put him in ryders spot, he can take the draws for saku and it wouldn’t be even worse than having ryder there. Yanic can play center or wing.

  32. Yeats says:

    I’ll take an idiot savant over an idiot (read Lats) any day of the week. He is just lost out there and I don’t think he’d be lighting up the A either.

  33. J.T. says:

    I’d be interested in acquiring Perreault if there’s something he can teach the others. If he’s like an idiot savant who just happens to be inexplicably brilliant at faceoffs, I’d consider him a luxury similar to keeping Dagenais because he was great at shootouts, or a tough guy just to lay someone out once in a while. If he can’t contribute with speed or goalscoring as well as faceoff wins, I don’t think I’d do it. BUT…if he’s not an idiot savant and he’s got some secrets for how to win 60 percent of faceoffs, I’d hire him as a sort of playing consultant. He might sit out a lot, but if he could teach Pleks and Chipchura how to win the draw consistently, it’d be worth carrying him.

  34. J.T. says:

    Well, several hours removed from last night’s Wake at the Bell, the bitterness has eased a bit, to be replaced with nagging worry. I know many of you feel it’s too early for panic, and I agree. It isn’t time to panic…it’s time to calmly correct the issues that are plaguing the team now so they don’t get destroyed on the annual Christmas road trip this year.

    I think we all agree…and according to the line matchups late in last night’s game, so does Carbo…that the Koivu line isn’t working. I hope to see Higgins and Kovalev switched in practice tomorrow, just to see how they might work to spark other lines. Kovalev is playing with passion and energy…maybe he can influence Koivu a bit. But, I’d like to see new lines actually practice together before they’re thrown together for a few shifts late in a losing cause. That smacks of panic, and rarely works when the players aren’t used to each other. If they practice first, then play an entire game together, there’d be a better chance of developing some sense of chemistry.

    The PK needs to be more aggressive…its passivity is allowing the opposing team to set up and control the Habs zone.

    The problem they have with aggressive forechecking can be addressed with speed…both in motion and in decision making. Right now, when a Dman has control of the puck in the face of a forechecker, he almost always makes a D-to-D pass, which is usually a lateral, rather than forward motion. It slows down the Habs’ advance and allows the other team’s forecheck to move in. When that happens, we see the Habs’ D often circle and attempt a pass up the boards to a winger…which is easily anticipated and intercepted. What I’d like to see is the five players moving as a unit…when a D has the puck, everyone is moving forward and the pass goes to a moving centre or winger before the opponent can set up. We want our guys’ forward momentum to push the other team back…make THEM struggle to contain the rush. Even if half the forwards on the team aren’t that creative…most of them can skate. And sheer forward momentum threatens the opponent’s defence and gives their own defencemen moving targets for passes.

    Also, when they do manage to penetrate the offensive zone, I’d like to see them spread out more in their set up. Right now, we’re seeing them too much in a line around the boards or across the blueline, giving a winger with the puck few options for a pass. I’d like to see one guy head to the slot as soon as they enter the zone, giving the winger on the boards the option of passing along the boards or into the slot. That’s harder to defend against, and relieves some of the pressure on the cycle.

    But really, those are all fixable issues, mostly caused by not using their speed as on offensive weapon. They all know they’re a team that has to work to win. For them, work means skating hard all game long. And when they do that, it automatically solves some of the major issues they have when they hesitate and are left with only predictable plays. The difference between last night and, say, the Flyers game, is their quickness on the attack and hard skating. If they wait around for the perfect play, or if they hang back at all, they’re doomed like they were last night. We know they can do it…it’s just a matter of committing to do it every night.

    This could be a triumphant week…leafs and Devils being two traditionally horrid opponents for the Habs. If they can get it together and pull off a couple of wins, they’ll get a huge shot of confidence. If not…well, I guess we can always come mourn at Boone’s Funeral Home and Crematorium.

    And, for those advocating a trade…I don’t think so. Gainey has nothing to deal that would return something better than what he’s got. As we saw with Bryzgalov, the goalie market is non-existent. So, if we’re anticipating a big deal involving Huet that will bring back a scoring winger, I’m pretty sure we’ll be waiting a good long while. Same for Ryder. No one is going to trade a scorer for a guy who’s not scoring AND who’s going to be UFA at the end of the season. If Gainey wanted to make a trade for an Olli Jokinen or similar player who’s rumoured to be available…he’d have to start with Higgins or Plekanec and likely have to include a guy like Chipchura or Komisarek as well as prospects and picks. Real stars don’t come cheap, so unless Gainey (and fans) are willing to part with guys we see as the core of the future team, a trade like that isn’t going to happen. What we’ve got, we’ve got…and we’ll just have to make the best of it.

  35. Yeats says:

    With apologies to the late Warren Zevon:

    Carbo’s coaching in Toronto
    He’s a desperate man
    Send lawyers, guns and money
    and some forwards who have hands

  36. Yeats says:

    Your Yanic Perreault idea is, at the very least, an intersting one. As you point out he is old, slow, but still the best man in the League on the draw. Your length-of-shift point is a good supporting argument that I have never thought of. If they’d take the Cube straight up, I would do it. It would make some needed space for Ryan O’Byrne. I’m so frustated with Lats, he’d be another choice. He’s young, slow, doesn’t finish checks and has hands of not stone, but wood. He really should be playing in the “A” at best.

  37. Mike says:

    i agree with you. i thought about that last season. The big concern is his age and his overal physic. Another issue is where he would play in our line up?

  38. ebk says:

    The good news is that this team sits in a play-off spot at the moment and taken as a whole their season as been a success. No one but the must ardent Habs fan, with his Habs goggles firmly on, thought this team would be at or near the top of the standings.

    That being said, I’ve taken tons of flak from the faithful for pointing out that I think this team might not be any better than last years. People with way more hockey knowledge than me said it couldn’t be so.

    Lets take a look at the defense. Other than Komiserak, they basically have a team of finesse-type defenseman. Markov is the best player on the team and Hamrlik, so far as been a good addition but neither strike any fear in the opposition. Brisebois is generally horrible and while he’s not a smurf, he plays like one. Streit and Boullion are both smurfs and get pushed off the puck far to often. Souray and Rivet were far from the perfect players but they both played with a physical edge that so far this misses. Taken as a whole, I don’t think Hamrlik and Brisebois are an upgrade over Souray and Rivet but it can be debated. What isn’t debatable, is that on a team that lacks a physical edge to it, that part of Souray’s and Rivet’s games are not missed. Time to get some size back on the blueline and soon.

    Similar to last year, this team wins with an excellent power play and good goaltending. At even strength, this team is well below average. Koivu has only one even strength goal this year and it was actually scored while he was the extra attacker on a delayed penalty situation. Ryder needs to get his game going soon. He has improved of late but he is and only will be judge by the number of goals he scores. Three goals, 23 games into the season, isn’t cutting it.

    Smolinski and Kostopoulous are touted as fine free agent pickups, and they maybe. Both are still looking for their first goal of the season in even strength situations and need to make contributions for this team to be successful. These two are the replacements for Radek Bonk and Mike Johnson. The only place I see where these two are an improvement over Bonk/Johnson, is Kostopoulous does provide a physical edge that this team lacks. Overall though, Bonk and Johnson last year, by far outproduced the two new players. For a good part of last year the Bonk/Perezhogin/Johnson line was arguably the Habs best line at even strength.

    Latendresse has regressed horribly from last year and looks on most nights to not quite be ready for a regular shift in the NHL.

    The positive are few but there are some. Kovalev has his game back and is dangerous on almost every shift. Markov is a Norris trophy candidate. Plekanec is emerging as a quality centerman. Kostitsyn has shown he is close to being another weapon for the Habs. Higgins is ready to be a premier NHL player once he starts finishing a little better. Huet and Price have been solid but unspectacular. Hamrlik has played well in his own zone.
    Best of all, they are sitting in a play-off spot right now and should compete for a play-off spot.

  39. showey47 says:

    Here’s the game in a shots-on-goal nutshell:

    Christopher Higgins: 1

    Saku Koivu: 0

    Michael Ryder: 0

    Jochen Hecht: 7

    Wanna know why? Every sabre center was over 60% success rate in the face-off circle. i think koivu was less than 40% pleks was 25%. Smokes was the best hab at 50%. Hockey is a game of puck posession and whoever wins more faceoffs has more puck posession. Hence more shots on goals, more scoring chances and when you have the puck the other team can’t score.
    Hence better 5 on 5 play cause you have the puck most of the time, better powerplay because when you win the draw most of the time at the start of a powerplay it doesn’t get iced and the team doesn’t have to regroup from their own end and then come back and try to set up the powerplay in the offensive end which usually chews up 1/4 of your powerplay time. Penalty kill works the same way when you can win a draw and ice the puck right away forcing a team to go back and regroup then come back and then try to set up their powerplay it kills off 1/4 to 1/3 of a penalty.

    Answers anyone? I know i’m gonna get chewed for this but i suggest trading for yanic perreault. I know he is getting old and he is slow but once again leading the league in face-offs at 66.3%. But he did score 21 goals last season, mostly on a bad phoenix team last season and went to the all-star game. He is struggling in chicago, but hey samsonov is his winger and we all know what samy brings to the table. I would offer bouillon for him straight up which would offset the salaries, cause be honest does anyone think the cube is gonna get a contract extention here after next season? Neither do i.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have perreault line up against the other teams best players and win draws 2/3′s of the time? Hence cutting down their scoing chances cause they don’t have the puck. The average nhl shift is 45 to 50 seconds, you can’t produce much offence when your spend most of your shift chasing the opposition to get the puck back from a lost faceoff. Just a thought

  40. yehaken says:

    Agreed, imho this is like reading an old email thread. Especially with responses below and next messages above. How about just Momento was too hard a movie for simpletons like myself; can’t deal with it on my favourite site!

    Every aspect of the game was brutal. Powerplay, penalty kill, faceoffs… Habs did win a few battles along the boards but couldn’t move the puck off said boards and into the non boards. Remember kids, the biggest reason to be good on the boards is to get the puck to the non boards. (See the sabres second goal for an example of winning battles along the non boards.)

    On a good note: Great to see Kovy hitting people when he’s frustrated instead of pouting, slashing, or sucking. I’m seeing a real leadership vibe from him this year. That sequence at the end of the second period where he laid out a couple of sabres was inspiring. He also made a few great plays. Carbo finally tried Kovy and Koivu together. They looked good for those two shifts. Too bad they were with Latendresse. (Koivu’s lot in life is to carry around C3PO like baggage around the ice.)

  41. P St. Pierre says:

    I have to say that I’m in agreement with everything you just said. The Habs have to work through this on their own and Carbonneau needs to figure out some decent lines. There is no point in sacrificing youth for a second tier scorer. Maybe if you can obtain an Alexander Ovechkin, but no GM in his right mind would trade a player like that for anything.

    Montreal has a good young team. They aren’t going to win tons of games in a row because they don’t have that consistency yet. I still believe that they have many components that a building team should have and in 3-4 years, they might be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Bob Gainey is a smart man. He will find a way to get a winning team in Montreal.

    If the Habs can continue to show progress with their young players and have a decent season, they will attract attention from top free agents. Say what you want about the Montreal media, the school system, and whatever else, it all comes down to one thing. Good players want to win. If Montreal can prove that they are building a real winner here with players like Price, Markov, and Plekanc, UFA’s will come to this city.

  42. JF says:

    Your first point, about peaking early while other teams are just finding their game, is a very good one. Buffalo is a case in point – they have been finding their game over the last little while and will now rise easily through the standings. We have to work harder, especially at getting the puck out of our zone. That is one aspect of the game where we are really starting to look like last year. When it comes to digging the puck out of a corner or along the boards, the opposition player always looks stronger than the Hab.

    Our powerplay is beginning to concern me. I’m not seeing those swift passes that allow us to move in on the goal and catch the other team out of position. We spend a lot of time chasing the puck down the ice and then dumping it in, only to have to chase it again.

    The only way we’ll win a lot of games is by hard work. We haven’t seen enough of it lately.

  43. zamboni says:

    I don’t know about the others, but this reverse comments is making me dizzy.
    Besides with tree style commenting, the leaf of the tree is newer post than the root, yet it appears lower as a post, which goes against reverse order commenting.

    Quite un-intuitive if you ask.
    I’d love to have this as a user preference, but I’ll adapt if majority think that this is a better way to read blogs.

    PS: This is not a demand, but rather a suggestion.

  44. zamboni says:

    Two things I noticed ALN
    1- Buffalo played an excellent game.
    2- Nothing bounced our way.

    Given the above two, you could have placed any other team there (instead of the Habs) and they would have lost the game.

    So it’s premature to start talking about playoffs (or the potential of not making it) based on yesterday’s game.
    However as Mike and others correctly pointed out, this team started reminding us of last season’s awful Habs.

    Why is that?
    How could we start so strong, and yet struggle to make the playoffs?
    I’m no Carbo or Gainey, heck according to some HIO members I’m not even a true fan, but I can speculate the following.

    1- We are peaking early in the season with full energy when most teams are just finding their grooves, so we win, not because of our superiority, but rather the other’s teams inferiority.

    2- Full energy early on, but we wear down rather fast and run out of gas when it matters the most.

    3- We get out-coached, the other teams figure out our plays, and adjust to it, while we never re-adjust and change our style.

    I have noticed that any time the opposition aggressively forchecks us, we can’t adjust, we can’t come out of our zone, or if we do, we barely have a play.
    I’ve seen the same thing during PP, we are not as strong as our record suggests when the opposition is pressuring us, we struggle to make the plays, and are forced out of zone too often.
    Even during PK, when we form a box and not forecheck, we are conceding more goals.

    Arguably we have one of the best (if not the best) goaltending duo in the league, hockey is all about goaltending, it’s inexcusable to miss the playoffs this year given the too strong goaltenders. God forbid if that happens, heads should roll (justifiably so).

    I hear a lot of people suggesting bringing up Bulldog players to help the team, if the NHL caliber players aren’t able to help, what makes us think that minor leaguers can, specially with the style of hockey we play, we’re going to put them on a 3rd of 4th line to play defensive hockey, do we remotely think that they are complete enough to help?

    Another thing I hear a lot is trades, yeah it’s easy to suggest that we want to see Lecavalier, Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, Hossa caliber players wearing the tri-colors, but what GM would be stupid enough to part with them?
    and what do we have to offer to entice them to that level of stupidity.
    Still not convinced, read Here about what it would have taken to grab Lecavalier in 2001, and that’s when he hadn’t established anything yet.

    I think we have good enough team to play a point per game average over the season, which should not be enough to make it to the playoffs, however couple that with the strong goaltending duo, they should be able to steal few of those games and take them over the 90/92 points to make the playoffs.

    just my two cents folks.

  45. JF says:

    It’s too early to push the panic button. This team is a lot better than last year’s team. Things have not been going that well lately, but I didn’t think they played badly last night. It has been a tough month with all those inter-division games. Maybe facing some different teams will give them a lift and help them get back to their game. But it’s a long season and there are bound to be highs and lows; let’s count the last couple of weeks as a low and move on.

  46. Ed says:

    Everyone on the so called 1st line has been anchored solidly for the last 2 games. Ryder is an easy scapegoat because of his lack of goal production, but look at these stats for those 2 games against Buffalo:

    Koivu -4
    Higgins -3
    Ryder -1
    Koivu 0 hits
    Higgins 0 hits
    Ryder 5 hits

    I agree with putting someone else on the 1st line, but don’t see why Ryder should sit. His last goal was scored while on a line with Begin and Smolinski. What does Carbonneau do, but almost immediately put him back with Koivu and Higgins. Ryder needs to regain his scoring touch, but it does not appear that it will be with his present line mates.

    The Kovalev, Plekanec, Kostitsyn line is really the 1st line. I thought they played well last night, and Kovalev was outstanding. The line had 8 shots, and 7 hits, with Kovalev having 3 shots and 5 hits. As Pierre Mcguire would say, he was a “Monster”. Carbonneau should not be breaking them up as he did last night.

  47. RJ says:

    What to do about Ryder who is constantly out of position and standing still? This team does not have enough depth to have a huge anchor on its first line. Let him sit a few games and put someone else on his wing.

  48. The Teacher says:

    Yes, in the first period, then he wasn’t getting any passes in the third, with Guillaume losing every breakout pass, Kovy at LEAST showed some passion with his skating aggressively after the puck.

    Also, we pay him to try and score, if the team isn’t receiving passes well, I commend him for at least showing the effort to try and create something, which at times last year..ok, most of the time, was lacking.

  49. The Teacher says:

    Umm Chuck,

    I definitely remember our last loss to the laughs…is that their last win?

  50. Moey says:

    10 million a year? Crosby isn’t even making that.

  51. Mike says:

    I have a few things to say last night but I won’t bother, Im sure it will be said by the other people here. What i will say tho, is the feeling that i have at the end of this summer. I have this strong feeling that we can get Alexander Ovechkin this summer. It seems that we will not be making a big trade this year and that we have alot of empty cap space. also with ryder leaving this year we would have another 1.7 million. I strongly believe that Gainey will throw alex an offer sheet of close to 10 or if not 10 million per year this summer and therefore force washington to match it or let him go. I dont think that washington will match it and thus believe we have a chance. Alex has stated that montreal is his favorite city to play (away at) and he has very good friends here. anyways, if we were to get alex, we would get that big scorer plus the body. I think the 08-09 season is looking pretty nice.

  52. Moey says:

    Mike, Ottawa has lost 3 of their last 4 games, I wonder if the Sens fans are having a meltdown?

    I didn’t think the Habs played badly last night, Huet had no chance on the first 2 goals. They had their share of scoring chances, but you’re right if we lose to Toronto the hand-wringing will be in full swing.

  53. Mike Boone says:

    You mean in full wring.

  54. RH says:

    Come on Mike, you can’t be too hard on these guys. After all, they have been overachieving up to this point. Speed killed the Habs last night and, although I fell asleep during Friday’s affair, I assume speed killed them that night too. I think Kovalev had it right at the end of the second when he went on a hitting rampage and flattened some Sabres players. Too bad the rest of the boys couldn’t pick up where he left off. These guys looked tired and disoriented last night and, with the leafs getting completely embarrased by the desert dogs, I don’t think I want to watch Tuesday’s game.

  55. Moey says:

    RH,

    They played a lot of games this week, next week is less demanding, let’s hope they get their energy back for Toronto.

  56. Mike Boone says:

    Oh man, if the early season was an over-achievement then I don’t like their playoff chances. You’re right about Kovy. He tried to wake the guys up … to no avail.

  57. P St. Pierre says:

    Very disappointed with that effort last night. The team played like they were in a daze, no flow, no communication whatsoever. I’m sick of the top line. It needs to be changed somehow. I don’t really know of any better way than to put Kovalev on it, but that doesn’t bode well for the Pleks line (which has been the best one all season).

    Montreal needs a finisher for that first line. I’m not sure how many times thats been said in the last 8 years, but it is still true today. Chris Higgins is an awesome player with a great work ethic and energy. He is not a true finisher. Neither is Ryder or Koivu. One of those players on your top line needs to be taking shots all the time and actually putting some in the net. Higgins and Koivu work the boards very well for being smaller forwards, but they need someone who is going to put the puck in the net.

    I’m not sure that at this point of the season, teams are really looking to move goal scorers. I think if Montreal struggles for a couple of weeks, we’ll see some Hamilton experiments start taking place. D’Agostini and S. Kostitsyn immediately come to mind, as well as Mad Max Lapierre. Shuffling lines is fine, but when you have grinders on your number 1 line, you have problems.

  58. OldGrover says:

    I think they should spend today doing nothing but practicing faceoffs. Heck with the day off – just faceoff after faceoff until they figure it out. I mean, Doug Jarvis and Guy – how can this be such a bad faceoff team?

    I have to say, there were at least three times I thought they were gonna score a goal last night, but somehow that puck just stayed out. Frustrating, that. I also thought there were some bad calls and some missed calls… but fundamentally, they were just outplayed – everything else is just excuses.

  59. howtathor says:

    I just can’t understand laying such an egg last night in front of 21,273 faithful. You can be sure that there were not that many to witness the third period. I know it was a letdown the night before having come back only to lose on a phantom penalty call to Mike (The Kommish) Komisarek. These guys are supposed to be self motivated, they certainly get paid enough, and with the hometown faithful on board you’d expect a better effort. Well, as they say I hope they leave this lost weekend behind and move on down the 401 where oddly enough things are even worse. Paul Maurice looked shell shocked in his press conference last night. The Leafs are ripe for the picking or as evidenced by the tree outside my window have already fallen! Let’s hope we can capitialize on their leadfoot defence and lack of scoring. Note to Carbo: watch the Phoenix tape!

  60. RH says:

    Speaking of the leafs, they would be UNWISE to start anybody but Toskala against the Habs on Tuesday. Then again, the Habs don’t know how to score anyway so, the leafs could probably put there last Stanley Cup banner in net and still win!

    OK breathe……breathe…….breathe………….ahhhhh, there we go. Back to a level head again.

    Like I said before, I don’t know why people are getting so upset about the Habs recent woes. They have been overachieving up to this point and, it was only a matter of time before the rest of the league caught up to them. Like Moey said, Ottawa has lost three of there last four, and I can’t speak for Ottawa but, I noticed that they started Emery the other night and maybe there doing the ‘Carbonneau’ now as well. You know, the goatender merry-go-round? Besides, Ottawa has a hell of a lot more depth than the Habs and they’ve got the advantage of a lot of playoff experience to fall back on. In other words, they no what it takes to win and, will most likely bounce back. The Habs have only been getting consistency from one line and the other, so called, #1 line has been a bust thus far.

    I thought I read somewhere that no one in Hamilton was ready to make the jump to the bigs? Well, the way I see it, there are a few on this team that don’t deserve to be in the bigs either and it’s time Gainey, with ALL that cap room, called up some guys and made some trades. The Habs ARE NOT going anywhere this year, and it’s time the youngsters got a chance to gain VALUABLE pro experience!

    One more thing, the Brisebois experiment is slowly coming to an end!

  61. Moey says:

    I use Ottawa as a measuring stick for us, that’s the team I want us to become. Buffalo beat them, so I can stomach these two losese a little easier. The leafs beat them too, and that rivalry is a lot stronger then the Habs and leafs.

  62. Thumper says:

    We need an enforcer and a 40 goal scorer. the first line needs to start playing or be called the 3rd line minus Higgins. The team has been found out and Bob may need to make a move me thinks. Mr Ryder has gone too long now as an under par first line scorer, the team needs someone else who can and quick with a tough guy to kick off whenever someone picks on the skilled guys.

    Huet and Price are in my eyes doing a good job but lack support.

  63. Mike says:

    fine, wtvr. a big amount. and to be honest, i think alex would destroy crosby’s numbers in montreal.

  64. fun police says:

    now we will see what carbo and the canadiens are made up of. it is easy to coach when you are winning, questionable decisions are not generally criticized. now, we will see what kind of coach he his. last year, when things where falling apart, it seemed that carbo couldn’t do anything right. hopefully he has learned from last year.
    my main beef with carbo is that instead of mixing all the lines up when things are going bad, SHORTEN THE BENCH. don’t throw koivu out there with dandenault when we are down by two. with two minutes left in the game, lats, kosto, and chips was on the ice. no offense to these players, but that is not there role.

  65. fun police says:

    also, smolinski looks just about finished.


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