About last night …

The most popular game of “what if?” among Canadiens fans focuses on Andrei Markov?

What if the team’s best player hadn’t been injured during the season opener and missed almost half the schedule?

Here’s another one:

What if Brian Gionta hadn’t missed 21 games?

If the Canadiens’ toughest, hardest-working and most consistent player had been available for more games, this team might have more than 82 points heading into the last seven games of this crazy, roller-coaster of a season.

Gionta scored two goals, including the winner, in that crucial conquest of Florida.

He has 25 in 54 games. Last season in New Jersey, Gionta scored 20 goals in 81 games.

As my friend Sean Gordon of the Globe & Mail suggested when we chewed over the 4-1 win, maybe Bob Gainey knew what he was doing whe he signed the diminutive sniper.


I invite the Commentariat to correct me (which gives them an inordinate amount of pleasure), but I can’t remeber Brian Gionta playing a bad shift this season.

He never quits on a play. He battles for loose pucks. He skates fearlessly into the dirty areas where a succession of speedy, skilled Canadiens forwards have feared to tread during recent seasons.

Gionta is the unSamsonov. And he’s a MAJOR upgrade – not least for his impeccable dedication and work ethic – on Alex Kovalev.

Just like Gionta’s former Devils teammate, Scott Gomez is an upgrade on Saku Koivu.

And just as the third member of their line, Benoit Pouliot, is an upgrade on Guillaume Latendresse … no matter how many goals the former underachiever scores in Minnesota.

Through Gainey’s off season rebuild and Pierre Gauthier’s tweaking – notably the addition of Dominic Moore – your Montreal Canadiens are a better team than they were 76 games into last season.

The nightmare in Buffalo might have haunted a team with less grit and character.

Not this team.

Even after Florida made it 2-1 and every Canadiens fan on the planet held their collective breath and thought “Noooooooo, not again!”, this bunch was determined to avoid déja vu all over again.

After the Three Stars were announced, the Bell Centre PA system serenaded departing fans with a James Brown classic. And there was much to feel good about:

• Moore’s line contributed quality shifts. Travis Moen, playing with a visor for the first time in his career, killed penalties, worked the boards and had a few scoring chances. Sergei Kostitsyn continued to display the tantalizing skills that raise hopes he could become a star.

• Markov was Markov. Like Gomez and Gionta, he was plus-3. And while the power play fired blanks in two opportunities, Markov and Marc-André Bergeron combined to give the Canadiens a oint threat thats been missing.

• Jaro Halak was Jaro Halak. A light load – 24 shots – but key saves, including a beauty on Nathan Horton, when the game was tight. Jaro is 24-11-3. If the playoffs start tomorrow, he’s the Canadiens’ starting goaltender … as he will be when the playoffs start next month.

• Jaro Spacek is a class act. Hugely popular with the media because he’s accessible, win or lose, and because he’s such a good guy, Spacek was genuinely concerned by the damage his clean hit did to luckless David Booth.

• Jacques Martin showed class by heaping praise on Booth, whom he  called “an outstanding young man, one of the better kids I’ve ever coached … a professional on and off the ice.” Let’s hope Booth is going to be OK. His concussion, resulting from a Mike Richards cheap shot, put the kibosh on Florida’s season.

• Tomas Plekanec made it 100 goals in the NHL with his third empty-netter since the Olympic break. The return of Mike Cammalleri has fuly restored mojo on the Pleks line: Andrei Kostitsyn had three shots on goal and four hits. We can only hope Pleks’s 200th will be scored in a Canadiens’ uniform.

The game was not a DVD collection classic. But it was a crucial win for the Canadiens, snapping a three-game skid (during which they salvaged two points) and exorcising the ghosts of Buffalo.

Boston, Atlanta and Philadelphia lost – the latter two in three-point games.

The Canadiens are sitting sixth as they await a Saturday night visit by Martin F. and the Devils.

If the playoffs began now, their first-round opponents would be the Sabres – a team the Canadiens, for 56 minutes, looked like they could beat.

That’s another “what if?” we can kick around.

•  •  •

Maxim Lapierre’s return to the lineup meant champagne all around on L’Antichambre.

Max played a team-low 7:49 and was a non-factor: 4-4 on faceoffs, one shot, one hit, one blocked shot. No PP or PK time.

Glen Metropolit’s place on the Scott Gomez wave of the PP was taken by Benoit Pouliot.

Will Metro and Mathieu Darche be back aganst the Devils?

Or will Martin stick with a winning lineup?

•  •  •

Funny how seldom these days you hear anyone say the Canadiens should have kept Cristobal Huet.


  1. Ian Cobb says:

    I pick Phoenix to be in the western finals. And maybe just maybe…….

  2. showey47 says:

    You wouldn’t pat your stanley cup winning goalie on back and was the starter? When huet gets there i will give him the credit others think he deserves,till then he should at least win a playoff round and be a starter doing it. I can’t believe people still want to have this conversation about huet. The guy ranked somewhere around 40th in the league in save percentage.

  3. jbroderi says:

    A little off topic, but just a note on Chicago.  If they draw the red wings, does anyone really think that they will win that series?  I know they have a better shot than last year, but I just don’t see the hawks or SJ playing that great of hockey, while Detroit has been getting healthy and steadily improving.


    “Do the day and let the day do you” JB

  4. ed lopaz says:

    Ok – I’m convinced – thanks.

  5. jbroderi says:

    no crap there, my friend. Yiou make some very strong points. 


    “Do the day and let the day do you” JB

  6. twocents says:

    Oh yeah, Jaro Spacek and his team leading +13 really sucks and should be benched. The boofons on L’Antichambre, led by Napoleon Bergaparte, said the same thing last night. And they meant permanently, in favour of little Bergy.

    There is no shortage of morons.

  7. linp says:

    I am sure that Metropolit will be playing tomorrow as the 4th line center. The choice will be between Pyatt/Lapierre/Darche. I prefer Pyatt because his play is more effective than the other two. But the french media may have an influence on JM’s decision.

  8. jbroderi says:

    That hit is everything that uis right with hard fought hockey, completley different then cooke’s.  he mainly hit the body of booth, not really the head, but even so, spaceks hands and arms were down, the way they should be.



    “Do the day and let the day do you” JB

  9. showey47 says:


  10. ken says:

    Idle- What are you talking about?  Huet was an UNRESTRICTED free agent.  How could we keep him for part of the next year?  Please!  That was an excellent trade by Gainey.  Trade him or loss him for absolutely nothing in the off season.  Funny how most people have no clue what it means to be an unrestricted free agent.  Just like with Price and Halak, the habs are in the driver’s seat.  They are both restricted.

  11. avatar_58 says:

    So if a miracle on ice occurs and the hawks win won in the next while will Huet be justified?

    I wouldn’t pat the goalie on the back just because he was ‘there’

  12. avatar_58 says:

    We all know the truth though – he wanted to play in the BETTER hockey city 😉

  13. Bob Barker says:

    I’d take Duchene. Tavares will probably put up more points in his career but I love Duchene’s speed and two-way ability.

  14. showey47 says:

    you realize huet lost to those flyers in the first round right?

  15. Harani says:

    Hey y’all! The game last night was so much fun! I had blast and finally picked up win#37. Gionta…seriously…WOW! And as boone mentioned, he never takes a shift off. And if you listen to the post game thoughts on RDS, you hear the guys in the background say “That’s the hardest-working empty-netter I’ve seen.” and “Way to go Gio!”

    Also, the moron sitting in front me said that Spacek sucks just because of that hit and JM should make him sit (and he was a Habs fan!) What a douche!

    “I gotta feeling…that tonight’s gonna be a good night!”

  16. twocents says:

    As much as I doubt they will name a captain this season, I still think Markov is the eventual choice. If he signs long term this summer, as the rumours suggest, I think it will be done at the start of next season.

    You can see that players and coaches look to him whenever were in a tight situation. Gionta, Pleks, Gomez, Cammalerri, all make good candidates on some level. But, Markov is simply the key player on the ice. It’s not just points. When the forecheck is hemming us in every Habs player will look to Markov if they can get possession of the puck for a moment. He grounds them.

    In post goal celebrations you get the sense that he is the alpha dog, the one others go to for praise. He’s calm, cool, collected, and when a little fire is needed he can summon it while maitaining
    control. Every player who has ever been paired with him plays their best hockey. He is respected by his teammates, throughout the league and internationally. 

    Alright enough of my crap.

  17. The Juice says:

    Bang on. Had we kept Huet back in ’08, I am sure we would have gotten past the Flyers and who knows how much further. I was watching highlights of that series and the Habs were scoring at a pace I’ve yet to see duplicated. 3 lines were firing, problem is that Carey Price was exhausted (and overweight)….ah the what ifs….

  18. showey47 says:

    at least giggy won a cup which justified his contract.

  19. idle says:

    In fairness Mike, I’m not sure that those of us who were saying they should have kept Huet meant that he should still be playing for us today.  At the time he probably should have been kept, for the rest of that season and maybe part of the next.


    It’s a MAB MAB world.

  20. krob1000 says:

    nope….Giguere was! and still may be if the Monster does anything next year

  21. krob1000 says:

    I think the injuries we had have kind of camouflaged this fact Showey…nobody expected this out of Pouliot and Gio has really come on…..I still think the key to everything for us comes through depth but it our “top six” are a far more legit top six then they look on paper when viewing their goal totals.  Many of them are very responsible players as well with perhaps onyl Ak46 lacking consistency among the group.  I won;t stray from my belief that we need three lines scoring to really compete with the big guys but we are a heck of a lot closer then I expected and getting Pouliot going has been a big reason why….and he is more complete and suited to our faster game.  You also are neglecting the fact that Sergei and Moor can chip in here and there and IF and it is an IF one more guy gets a little offense going like Moen or Darche they can ice three lines that are capable of scoring.  That trickle down could have us icing the best 4th line in the game as well with guys like Metro and Lapierre and maybe even Moen is someone else emerges…..that is depth…and that is what we will live and die by.  I think a number 1 line vs number 2 ,line debate right now would turn into a month long back and forth in the mold of Koivu/Kovy.  We have  IMO two average or slightly below, number one lines, a weak second line and an average third line………I’d take that model over most teams in the league..it all comes down to depth for us.  Thank goodness for POuliot, SK, Moore, Darche, Pyatt ……what I call the second rebuild because that one is the key to me…I believe the key has always been how well our supporting cast plays because our good players  before were good too….but now we are firing on all cylinders…hell….Max Pacioretty isn’t even being mentioned anywhere and I know he is hurt….but when playoff rosters are expanded there is a chance he gets called up and that could get interesting too if he were to challenge for a depth spot….who knows maybe maxwell, pyatt, darche, moen …whoever? maybe someone else becomes a Chris Kontos or John Druce……combine that with our balance on the tp end and we are pretty interesting right now and still flying far under the radar….

  22. Geoff F says:

    Then we agree to disagree.  However i would probably not use Pat Hickey to explain this away, i feel it weakens the argument. 

    I will just suggest this and if you still disagree that’s cool.  Look carefully at the hit just prior to impact, Spacek’s arm is just below chest level, he moves it forward to initiate the first contact as one would do when making a hit.  So it’s not SHOULDER DOWN (the variety most often associated with attempt to injure).  He leads into the hit with his arm at just below chest level meaning he’s square and straight up on Booth.  The Shoulder then catches Booth squarely in the upper Chest area at which point Booths head bounces off the shoulder from the momentum of the impact.  So if it’s black and white, then yes shoulder made contact with head but the head impact is a consequence of the clean hit to the chest and the aftermath of the forces.  If that hit is illegal then body checking will have to come out of the game because almost any hit of that kind of force will involve some sort of consequential head impact.  Especially if the two players are of different sizes, weight, or even direction of entry into the hit.  At this point it becomes impossible to evaluate.  I look at it as Spacek entered the hit cleanly and after that physics kicked in and that’s not on the table here.  So if we are only concerned about head impact (in isolation and out of context) i agree with you but if we are looking at this as part of a violent game then this was not a dirty hit with intent to injure.  I believe it meets the sniff test of a clean hit.   I’ll add this though both the coaches and players on the Panthers agreed it was a clean hit.  I’ll take their assessment before Hickey’s any day of the week including Sunday, they were on the ice, they saw it first hand! 

  23. showey47 says:

    Huet is the most expensive backup goalie in nhl history.

  24. Shiloh says:

    You’re right, Showey – I must be getting old.

  25. forskis says:

    We lucked out on that…he said that he that he did not want to play where he lived in the off-season…

    “I am guilty of using elipses…”

  26. avatar_58 says:

    I still don’t care for Gezlaf, but we could have had Parise and that still stings….

  27. SlovakHab says:

    What if we drafted Getzlaf instead of Kostitsyn and Hossa signed with us instead of the Red Wings..

  28. SlovakHab says:

    I totally disagree. You need to play hard and score as much as you can. So if you’re up 5-1 and have a penalty shot – will you try not to score just to avoid a bad carma? 

    I would like to do that all the time. Score as many goals as possible. Beat your opposition! It’s not like injuring someone or doing something disrespectful.

    If I lost a game, I would feel more disrespected if the oposition tried not to score on my empty net just not to embarass me..

  29. avatar_58 says:

    Or Cammy with Toronto (he said it was an offer)

  30. linp says:

    It is obvious that if Booth didn’t have a concussion problem, he would just continue to play after the hit. With his condition, he should have been more careful and should avoid being hit (a la D’Agostini).

  31. camel_larry says:

    another what if:

    What if Gio had chosen to sign with Buffalo instead of Montreal?


    Go Habs Go!

  32. Geoff F says:

    Everyone will have a different opinion, i’m not saying i’m right.  Cammy definitely brings speed and goal scoring to the mix which opens up lanes for everyone else including AK46 & Pleks.  So i’m not saying he’s not good, i’m saying that compare him to Gionta and i feel like Gionta plays harder and with more grit than Cammalleri.  I guess I feel that he does a better job leading by example that doesn’t mean that i don’t think Cammalleri does NOT lead, i just think Gionta is better.  But most importantly the scrapping with Teammates thing puts me off a little.  Having an edge is one thing knowing how and when to use it is another (maturity).  Again only my opinion.

  33. jbroderi says:

    If I could pad my stats a little, I would.  He stripped the puck from the Dman, and then he really had no chouce but to put it in.  If not, he would have intentionally missed, which would be even more disconcerting.  I get your point about the bad karma, but I hope we paid the piper angainst the Sabres..

    “Do the day and let the day do you” JB

  34. topher5468 says:

    Thats a fair question, IMO I say no. I believe you can’t go out on the ice and and not compete against a team that is still competing, thats when bad things happen. I think there a different respect in Hockey for things like that and when the net is empty you have to shoot on it, unlike other sports when teams do concede when the game is out of reach.  

    “It’s not an obsession, It’s a way of life..”

  35. Danno says:

    I think they just rested Metro. That’s all. Might be hurting a bit.


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

  36. avatar_58 says:

    Was it? I pretty much said “EFF YEAH!” – especially given how much trouble that crappy southern team has given the habs over the years. Sorry, no sympathy here.

  37. thepriceiswrong says:

    couldnt this be summed up as “the playoffs are a brand new season… anything can happen.”

    But yeah… enjoy the math

  38. avatar_58 says:

    Carbo did the same to Price then was promptly fired not long after. So who knows.

  39. forskis says:

    That would be a tough Centennial gift to pick:  playoffs or no playoffs but a gift-wrapped Tavares, Hedman or Duchene…

    “I am guilty of using elipses…”

  40. topher5468 says:

    I think the Blackhawks putting Huet back in the net for the 3rd period speaks volumes about their feelings about him. I think he’s done in Chi and why waste Nemi on that game. Why else would you put him back in there to get further demoralized. 

    “It’s not an obsession, It’s a way of life..”

  41. ed lopaz says:

    I watched the hit several times on you tube, Spacek’s shoulder hits Booth in the head.

    Pat Hickey – who probably looked at the hit 10 or 20 times before writing his article – knowing how professional he is – is sure that this was a shot to the head as he wrote:

    “but Spacek caught Booth in the head”

    of course – I have the same replays as you have – nothing more – so this is my opinion on the contact vs your opinion on where the contact took place.

    I’m saying that “assuming” Spacek’s shoulder hit Booth’s head – it should be an automatic penalty as though it was a stick to the face.

    If Spacek’s shoulder hit Booth in the chest – as you suggest – then I stand corrected – and I have no problem with the hit.

  42. forskis says:

    Just wondering…Gionta’s 2nd goal was into an empty net with 8 sec to go and a 2 goal lead:  would that be considered running up the score and building bad karma?

    When I watched it happen I thought, “Was that really necesary?”  I had a bad feeling right away.

    “I am guilty of using elipses…”

  43. avatar_58 says:

    Hmm. See I thought this too until that one stretch where Gionta didn’t do a THING. The line went cold. Then all the sudden he started producing again. Same goes for Cammy – some players just have off games that’s all. I sure as hell NOTICE Cammy since coming back even if he hasn’t scored yet – it’s clear Plek and AK notice him

  44. showey47 says:

    Had we missed markov for half the schedule last year like we did this year we would have ended up with  either taveras,hedman or duchene. Damn it,lol.

  45. jbroderi says:

    I think metro should be back in sat for lapierre.  I can see darche being out, him and pyatt latley is like flipping a coin, but Laps is having a real hard time without his bumchum Gui!


    “Do the day and let the day do you” JB

  46. avatar_58 says:

    Nope, just like the goalie-choices I’m sure he’s smarter than that. After all Lapierre didn’t do much all game.

  47. jbroderi says:

    Just a new take on winning percetnage and what it might mean in the play-offs.

    lets assume we play buffalo (big assumption, but I am just making a point.

    we will also consider all ot/shoot-out losses as a normal loss.

    buff winning% is .555, spread over any given 7 games, they win 3.9 games out of 7.

    Mon winning % is .493, spread over 7 games, they win 3.4 out of 7.

    The difference between the two teams as of these stats would suggest .5 games difference over 7 games, or one more loss for the Habs over a 14 game span. That difference could be viewed as both teams winning a six game series, but the third series, one team is tied 1-1 after 2 games, and the other is up 2 to 0.  I know that couldn’t happen, because they would be playing each other, but it really shows how small the difference is over a shorter amount of games.

    When you look at it this way, 10 or 12 points may seem like a lot, but that is over 82 games.  A series is at most 7 games, with every team having several hot/cold streaks that last 7 games or longer.

    Maybe I am boring you, but this looks quite interesting and puts the odds of winning a play-off series in perspective.

    just a note wash vs boston would be 4.6/7 games for washington, 3.16/7 games for boston.  a bigger difference, but is it that much of a sure thing??

    “Do the day and let the day do you” JB

  48. forskis says:

    Yes, it is good…I guess Gainey knew what he was doing after all…yes, this current team is behind the pace in terms of points compared to last year, but this year’s team works a lot harder and does not give up and the losses are no longer blow-out losses.

    Who knew that Gionta would get back to scoring goals?
    Who knew that Gomez would be the key to getting Gionta back to scoring goals?
    Who knew that Pouliot would end up doing more than Latendresse no matter what Latendresse did in Minnesota?

    And props to PG for getting Moore, a player at 1.1MM with 8 pts in 13 games which is a 50 pt. season pace and who also helped wake SK74 up.

    “I am guilty of using elipses…”

  49. showey47 says:

    3 out of 6, you forgot the sens regulation loss. Don’t worry i’m trying to forget it also,lol

  50. Greg says:

    We took 3 of a possible 6, and 4 of a possible 8.  1 point against TO (shootout loss), 0 points against Ottawa, 1 point against Buffalo (shootout loss) and a win against Florida.  1+0+1+2= 4.  With the playoff race so tight, .500 isn’t gonna cut it.  But your right, not the end of the world.

    “I lined up next to him at a faceoff, looked over and said “Hi Rocket”. All he did was growl.”

    -Gordie Howe

  51. forskis says:

    The only problem with last night’s win is that it gives incentive for JM to not put Darche and Metro back in….just wondering, some of the members on Antichambre were not pleased that Lapierre was scratched, what was their reaction to Darche’s scratch?

    I say put those two guys back in on Sat. because that 4th line did not look very dangerous…lots of scrums along the boards but not much else.  Pyatt got his scoring chances from when the lines were in the middle of changes it looked like last night.

    “I am guilty of using elipses…”

  52. showey47 says:

    Without gionta missing those 21 games he is on pace to score somewhere around 38, as would have cammy without missing his 18 or 19 games. Benny’s production with a hab over a full season,same thing. So, 3 potential 35 to 40 goal scorers in our lineup? When was the last time we had that kind of potential scoring in our lineup? Oh and i forgot about ak46.

  53. linp says:

    Gionta’s heart is as big as Koivu. He has earned the respect of the fans.

  54. Geoff F says:

    Sorry man but i disagree with your assessment on the hit.  If you are looking at your feet and you walk into a wall is it the walls fault or your fault.  Spacek came face on to booth and had Booth had his head up he’d have seen him coming and would have plenty of time to prepare.  Second When your head is down the first thing to make contact would be your head assuming you are the same height not bent over etc…  Given that if watch the play carefully you’ll see the Spaceks shoulder connects with Booth’s chest then the impact causes Booths head to snap back and the follow through and Jaro’s momentum carried him up and forward.  No elbow no nothing.  Even with his head down Jaro gets him square in the chest so that to me indicates that the hit was as clean as they come.  That doesn’t take anything away from the fact that it’s very unfortunate that Booth was hurt, and that something needs to be done.  It is probable that Booth’s previous concussion now has him more more susceptible to further concussions, and i believe that might have been the case here.  In my opinion they have not gone far enough in the rule as this is a perfect example of how the rule will not work in most instances.  I believe they should add some soft padding above the hard outer shell on the shoulder pads.  They wont want to take off the hard shell because they block shots, but if they were to add a type of foam that gives more on the hit they could soften the hard shell a little and make it so that both players will feel the hit.  Maybe people will be less reckless if they fear getting hurt.  Either way i hope Booth gets better soon but i would review that hit again because that is NOT a head shot, it just appears to be that way!

  55. Shiloh says:

    If we look at the past three games, we took 4 out of possible 6 points – not the end of the world. The shootout loss to the Sabres was tough, but so was getting the point for the tie.

  56. soperman says:

    That makes me feel good about the team.  When we are arguing about who should be left out and not who should be brought up.

    “Pusie possessed a wickedly wild shot, so inaccurate that he could not hit the province of Quebec if he was standing inside the Montreal Forum.” Dick Beddoes

  57. soperman says:

    You kept track?

    “Pusie possessed a wickedly wild shot, so inaccurate that he could not hit the province of Quebec if he was standing inside the Montreal Forum.” Dick Beddoes

  58. nogoalov says:

    On most occasions, pulling the goalie for an extra man don’t pay off. The second empty netter was the one they didn’t get against the Sabres. I was scared again, but they did what they have been doing consistently since the break – they won.

    Since we’re on about trends, Habs fans (maybe we’re not an anomaly) just love to beat up on ex-Habs, whether they’re doing well with their new team or not. Not so long ago folks ’round here were looking into the “Cristo-ball”, touting Kovalev Koivu, and their lost boy – Lats. Carey Price, the poster boy was the savoir…and he’s still here. Latendresse’s good fortune in Minnesota is living testimony to the old adage – “there has not been a bad wind yet, that didn’t blow somebody good”!

    We’re all fools at sometime, and as I keep reading posts on HIO I am reminded of that.


  59. soperman says:

    I would also like to see Metro resigned and play every game.  He is a role play who knows his role and JM seems to know how to use him.  I find it hard to believe that he would take offense to sitting out for a game because he seems to be such a genuine team player.  To me he has the same attitude as Tom Kostopoulos – “just tell me what to do, coach”. 

    And I really don’t think the organization disrespects him.  He is a fourth line center who gets major time on the power play.  And he produces goals on the power play.  If the coach didn’t appreciate him, he would not get this PP time and because he produces, they must respect his play – coaches tend to like results and effort.  He gives both.

    “Pusie possessed a wickedly wild shot, so inaccurate that he could not hit the province of Quebec if he was standing inside the Montreal Forum.” Dick Beddoes

  60. Geoff F says:

    I don’t think Cammy is the right choice.  He says the right things and knows how to work a camera however he’s been in a few scraps with team members this year in practice.  He doesn’t have an “A” on his chest which means the powers that be don’t think he is “THE” candidate.  But the most important point of all is Cammy dissappears for stretches.  If he’s not scoring goals, you don’t see him much.  Gionta is ALWAYS doing something, if he isn’t scoring he’s forechecking hard creating turnovers and working hard till the last buzzer sounds.  So looking at Cammy on his own he does in my opinion have some potential however in the team dynamic Gionta is by far the/a better choice.


  61. projectpete19 says:

    the same people that said Huet should not be traded are the ones that are saying Price should be traded

  62. JF says:

    That certainly took away some of the bad taste left by Wednesday’s disaster.  But I have to say the Habs got a bit lucky.  Their two first-period goals were pure gifts.  Before that, the Panthers were playing a hermetic style;  we had no skating room and few scoring chances.  Everything was on the outside, and if the Panthers had scored first, they might have kept it that way.  That said, I think we played a solid game; our confidence didn’t seem to have been dented by what happened the other night.  After Florida scored, we were a lot more aggressive than in the same situation on Wednesday, and I could see the determination not to let the win slip away.  But the empty-netter was certainly a relief.

    But I felt bad for Carey Price.  He was excellent on Wednesday, facing more shots and more dangerous ones than Halak did last night.  But he gets a loss while Halak gets a win and first star.  Since the Olympic break, our goaltending has been outstanding, with the exception of the first period in Anaheim and the Edmonton game.  Whether it’s because the team plays better in front of Halak, or because he gives up fewer goals at key moments than Price, or because Price is just unlucky, we win more often with Halak than Price.  So he’ll be our starting goaltender for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.  I think, from Price’s demeanor, that he has grown up enough over this tough season to accept that.  But I hope we don’t trade him.

    Gomez said after the loss in San Jose that the team has realized they can compete with anyone.  Since the Olympic break, with the exception of the games against Toronto and Ottawa, they’ve been playing that way.  The defense is a lot tighter than earlier in the season, zone clearance is less laborious, shots against and scoring chances are down.  Overall we’re a lot less passive than we were.  But in tight-checking games, there’s still a tendency that way, and the beginning of last night’s game looked like that.  We still need to be more aggressive at the net, particularly on the powerplay.

  63. Barts says:

    I’ll still take Metro over Lapierre anyday of the week…

  64. jimhasbeen says:

    boone is a pimp

  65. tony d says:

    Give Gionta the ‘C’ already! fer fek’s sake

  66. Mike Boone says:

    Thanks for the kind words, man … and for the heads-up re Max/Metro. I added a note.

  67. jbroderi says:

    maybe, but i think it was key tat even if he stayed, he wouldn’t be resigned.  I think that might be boones point, but I can’t speak for him i guess


    “Do the day and let the day do you” JB

  68. ed lopaz says:

    game vs Jersey will be a much better barometer on how this team will fair come playoff time.

    this week we played our best game against Buffalo; that to me was very encouraging.

    but we should note that Buffalo, playing only for playoff positioning at this time, might not have brought their A game.

    Spacek was genuinely concerned by the damage his clean hit

    the hit is considered “clean” because it did not come from the blind side – i.e – spacek was in front of booth

    however, I think the rule did not go far enough – this is still a head shot; in this case, shoulder to the head

    Pat Hickey confirmed that this was a shot the head in this morning’s article.

    here’s my suggestion – if we agree that shots to the head are dangerous, even if they are not blind side hits,

    I would make a shot to the head the same as a stick to the face.

    the player is responsible for his stick and even an accidental infraction of a stick to the face is penalised.

    a shoulder hit to the head should be viewed the same way –  an automatic penalty – it can not go unpunished – and if the league rules that the player intended to injure than a suspension can be handed out.

    the rules could be modified in the offseason – but we should try and eliminate all hits to the head.


  69. ed lopaz says:

    Hockey is a simple game when its played properly.

    move your feet

    move the puck

    shoot when you can

    go to the net

    play every shift as though it was the 7th game of the finals

    If you are lucky enough to attend a Habs game with your son or daughter, just ask them to watch Gionta play the game – every second of every shift.

    Gionta “GETS IT”.


  70. G-Man says:

    Decent game after the last 3 minute horror show in Buffalo. Metro sat because this was a back to back and needs a break once in a while, so he can be better against NJ. The Habs were playing the Panthers, not the Penguins, for eff sake, so Laps got a chance and did…nothing much. He’ll be riding the pine again next game, and Darche will be back at the expense of…who the bleep knows?

  71. The Cat says:

    There are a lot of what ifs we can kick around but there is one worrying factor, the habs record isnt good against teams with a winning record.

  72. The Cat says:

    Totally agree.

  73. Habitant out West says:

    Considering the Habs young goaltender sh’t the bed in the playoffs and lost to a team they outplayed… I still think it was a bonehead move regardless of what’s happening between the pipes two years later.

  74. Greg says:

    What ever happened to “keep your head up”? If that was anyone but David Booth, we wouldn’t even be talking about it.  I feel bad for Booth, his career is likely over, and he’s just a kid.  But Spacek laid a clean hit (no jump, no boarding, no charging) on a guy that wasn’t looking where he was going. If you take that out of the game, you’ve got ringette on your hands.


    “I lined up next to him at a faceoff, looked over and said “Hi Rocket”. All he did was growl.”

    -Gordie Howe

  75. Black Snake Moen says:


    just let me say again that youre a fantastic read and that I’m glad your a Habs fan too so guys like us can tune in…when the games on and im not home, I know i can find HIO on the web from my phone and see whats REALLY going on in the game…I tell ya man, it really makes a big diff, and I commend you guys and the site for runnin it…I just wish i would be able to comment from on the HIO mobile site….I’m all over it every night and read everything here but I can’t comment unless I run to the computer which is rare…help me out site tech guys!

    anyway…I figured we’d see more comment on the Laps in / Metro and Darche out situation…I know the decision wasn’t the wrong one, but did Max’s 9-odd useless minutes really factor in the game? that’s really buggin me about JM……You take a guy like Metropolit, I wonder how bad he wants to play for JM after that slap.  And i know some will say that any 4th line center shouldn’t take offense to being a healthy a couple games a year…but I mean, what team would ever tell their LEADING powerplay scorer to sit down so the hometown black sheep can try to be a good boy again…I don’t think the caps would tell Brooks Laich or Mike Knuble to hit the pressbox and this time in the season…really puzzling to me…….

    I guess PM doesnt want Metro back next year, and realizes he’ll be gone in the next 10-15 odd games in a Habs jersey, which sucks….I really wanted to get Metro resigned but I realize it’s not likely to happen given the situation and that he’s a 35 yr. old whos coming off career numbers and might want more than his $1 mill per or whatever so he can pocket a little more for his family before he’s done in 3-4 odd years….really sucks, i love that guy, he plays his heart out everynight, you see it that smile thats forsure…

    but then the other thing about Max’s return, (god forbid what the french media would do if he sat another game! or the rest of the season!) the other thing, why not sit Pyatt over Metro or even Darche…seems logical on how the depth-chart-ey way of doing things woul go….but man I love JM and the hard-on he’s got for Pyatt’s play hahaha…you can tell they love his speed and he always grew up being sucha smart player, and I think their realizing that now and with more confidence he’s only get more comfortable…he really is Pierre Mcguire’s prototype of the “active player”….people, think Todd Marchant for the years he played for the Oil up until their cup run…smart, dependable, 3rd line gritty, speedy guy who can kill penalties…..Pyatt can be that for Habs, I hope they make him a regular next year…but I still would understand, and will understand when he gets the hook before the playoffs, but I cant wait to have a beer with him and shake his hand on a job well done this year haha (both T-bay kids we are)

    thanks again boone, keep it up

    ps. I like us at 6th right now, Buffalo can bring it on, Habs will be ready next time

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