About last night …

Let’s assume, for the sake of a nice Lord’s Day argument, that was the real Montreal Canadiens we watched last night.

So what do we have here?

• Great goaltending that gives the team a chance to win every night.

• An excellent first line, featuring the best two-way centre in the NHL.

• Four experienced, reliable defencemen – plus a surprisingly competent journeyman and an exciting rookie who’s thrilling fans and enraging opponents.

• One of the best penalty-kills in the league.

• Third and furth lines that are industrious, disciplined and capable of scoring once in a while.

• A second line on its way to becoming a third line if Lars Eller continues to improve.

• A power-play that doesn’t always totally suck.

• A defensive system that has not allowed more than three regulation-time goals since the season began – something none of the other 29 teams has accomplished.

Did I forget anything?

Oh, yeah: Team spirit.

Granted, the Sabres aren’t the Flyers. But you had to love the alacrity with which the Canadiens arrived, in numbers, whenever trouble started last night.

Patrick Kaleta? Invisible …. which had not been the case in Toronto on Friday.

December is not going to be an easy month.

Two winnable games – Edmonton and, yes, New Jersey – mid-week, then the sked gets hairy: San Jose at home followed by nine of 12 on the road; stops in Detroit, Colorado, Dallas, Carolina, Washington and the year-end Florida swing. Four sets of back-to-backers, including an ice-pack special: Philadelphia and Boston at the Bell Centre on Dec. 15-16.

If the Canadiens played like they did in Atlanta on Friday, December is going to kill them.

But if the real team is the one that beat Buffalo last night, 2010 will go into the books as a great year that included a miracle playoff run and a surprising season start.

Get Scott Gomez going, which will help Mike Cammalleri, and 2011 will be a very good year.

•  •  •

And now, because I’m lazy and want to watch football, here are a couple interesting observations from my favourite print analyst, Pierre Ladouceur of La Presse, and a member of the Commentariat, usversusthem:

Ladouceur outlined the genesis of the AK46 power-play goal that opened the scoring. On the previous shift, the excellent-all-night line of Eller, Mathieu Darche and Benoit Pouliot had controlled the puck in the Buffalo end and a desperate Steve Montador cross-checked Darche  on the lip of Ryan Miller’s crease. Twenty-two seconds later, Andrej Sekera flipped the puck over the glass and the Canadiens had a 5-on-3.

The ensuing goal can be traced back to Darche’s willingness to pay the Price in the dirty area.

“Positioning in front of the net is a question of will,” Darche told Ladouceur. “It’s my role, and I know there’s a price to pay.”

The bill, however, landed on the Buffalo tab.

(When I talked to Darche, he said some interesting things about Eller’s willingness to listen and learn. The kid is going to be a good one.)

Usversus them worked up some stats on Carey Price in December: 8-4-0, GAA of 1.59, save precentage of 95.1, three shutouts (and 73 bloody seconds short of a fourth!)

The Commenter concludes:

Worth noting: 2 of those losses came in games the Habs were shut out in.
Meaning: In the 10 games the Habs actually scored a goal, Price went
8-2. (Of his 7 regulation losses so far this season, the Habs have
scored 1 or 0 goals in 4 of them.) Also: Keep in mind, he let in 8 of
those 19 goals in the first three games of the month. Over the last 9
games, he’s been insane! 7-2-0, 1.23, .964, 3 SO… It’s unlikely he’ll
be about to retain his Movember mojo going forward, but if he puts up
anywhere close to these numbers for another couple of months the Habs
shouldn’t have too much trouble clinching the division even without

How good are your Montreal Canadiens?

No one, least of all the team PR department, talks about Markov.

His creativity is still sorely missed on the PP. But Alexandre Picard has been very solid. He’s not a physical defenceman, but Picard is rarely out of position (which is important, playing with the irrepressible P.K.),  and he makes good decisions with the puck.

You don’t notice Picard … and that’s a good thing.

•  •  •

The annual Canadiens Blood Donor Clinic goes at Windsor Station tomorrow.

The team also will be out in force at Mary Queen of the World, Montreal’s beautiful cathedral, for Pat Burns’ funeral.




  1. sidhu says:

    Agreed — so in my mind, we do this: 1) get some depth this year (e.g., Bieksa) to reduce the minutes of Hammer and Spaceman, but which may push Picard to the 7 slot for the time-being, and 2) after this season, let Hammer go, insert Picard into a regular top-6 role, keep Bieksa, and find depth for the 7th slot perhaps through the UFA pool or Hamilton.

    In short, I don’t think we can have Weber as our #7 guy, we need depth, but that may push Picard out of a starting role.  We bring him back into a starting role next season after Hammer departs.

  2. ProHabs says:

    My letter to the CBC:

    Hello, I was wondering if someone can explain to me how it is possible that on a publicly funded network like CBC, someone like Don Cherry is allowed to publicly put a bounty on the head of a 21 year old athlete. It is unacceptable that on a highly viewed show such as Hockey Night in Canada, a show in which is watched by hundreds of thousands of kids, that Cherry is able to encouraged NHL hockey players to go after or injure Montreal Canadians defenceman PK Subban. I wonder, if your 21 year old son was the target of Cherry’s obvious campaign to injure, how would you act or feel. A response would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.

  3. JD_ says:

    To be accurate, I wrote that the notion Cherry-Haters are blamin’ the guy for causin’ harm to Subban is a bit of a straw man argument. This was your exact wordin’. I said nothin’ with regards to what Don actually wants - i.e., wantin’ to cause harm - as I do not know what he actually wants.

    You may also want to give stronger consideration to the overwhelmin’ historical evidence Don is a classic xenophobe.


  4. habs-hampton says:

    Actually, I heard it in the Ott-Tor game, but I think they were trying to ruin Ottawa’s SO bid. But of course it was the Leafs, so not much chance of it happening.

  5. Shiloh says:

    So I guess my hope for “Black Snake Moen” is out the window …..

  6. VancouverHab says:

    Absolutely. If the empirical hypothesis about visors & helmets is contradicated by facts then it is to be rejected. Likewise, of course, the other way…

  7. Ian Cobb says:

    Gomez is doing more for this team than most
    people appreciate. He is the second fastest player on the team and
    checks ferociously. When the play offs come around, this team will be
    able to adjust to any style from the opposition. Our team speed is totally intimidating every team in the league, and they cannot clutch and grab like years gone by. We are disciplined so as not to get drawn into the goonery. 

    Two areas that need work are, face offs and of coarse the power play. We will peek at the right time this year folks.

    I know we mail
    in a few games, as some players pace themselves until the play offs.
    Just watch out when these money veterans hit the ice in the spring.

  8. DearyLeary says:

    I like Picard in the 6 slot, but I would be extremely reluctant to give him big minutes.

  9. VancouverHab says:

    JD: forgive me, but I’ve been a bit cheeky (for a purpose) in one point, and I see that it’s had the intended effect. The way that you, and others here, react with (justifiable) annoyance at being labelled in an argument merely by virtue of our political and ideological position (‘Left-Wing uran elites’) is exactly the type of behavior which is done against Don Cherry and his defenders (‘Right-Wing, redneck,etc.)

    This labelling of critics (both sides) is useless, abusive, and off-putting and should stop.

    I am very glad that you think that the view that Cherry-Haters are accusing him of wanting to cause harm to P.K. is actually a straw-man. I had read it that way, and it was to despair. I’m glad to wrong about that.

    On P.K., Don Cherry focuses on him by way of compliment — that, like he did with Crosby & Lemieux, he uses his weekly ten minutes to focus on a Big Name of the moment.  

    Everything else is fair argument (we entirely agree that Don Cherry calibrates his media persona to be good for business. His deliberate mispronunciation of names, for instance, is, as I said yesterday, a case of something pointed out by this classic Saturday Night Live skit with Phil Hartman on Ronald Reagan’s similar populist craftsmanship.)

    Thank-you for the detailed and substantial reply. I’ll need to spend time thinking through what you say about visors.


  10. sidhu says:

    Props for mentioning Picard — he jumps up, skates hard to get back, and looks confident with the puck.  Great find.

    If we continue to sit near the top of the leaderboard, the question becomes whether we will nonetheless acquire some more depth on D, Picard’s play notwithstanding. 

    My take: yes, we need depth; but when Hammer’s contract expires after this season, Picard should be given a firm spot in the top-6.  He’s more reliable and about 4.5m cheaper.

  11. Danno says:

    Go here to make an official complaint to the CRTC about Bob Cole ruining Carey Price’s shutout bid.



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

  12. drivefor25 says:

    It’s not the network that pays Cherry. It’s you and me and all the other long-suffering Canadian taxpayers. Cherry has been so outrageous this year that I’m going to write to the CRTC and the CBC Ombudsman about this jerk/clown/bigot. Enough’s enough.

    Fan since ’71

  13. Bob Barker says:

    ‘This specific cigarette smoker didn’t die of cancer, therefore tobacco is safe.’

    Sample size too small, not representative of the population. 

    “In other words, specific cases (of harm or safety) neither support nor refute general truths (smoking in general causes cancer: but not in every particular case.)”

    How do you think the link between smoking and cancer became a general truth?

    Numerous studies with appropriate sample sizes were used to prove the link. The results demonstrated a statistically significant increase in cancer rates in smokers compared to non-smokers. 

    Smoking doesn’t cause cancer in every case because of several factors including frequency of exposure and genetics (varying effectiveness of DNA repair enzymes). 

    Don Cherry’s argument that visors increase the occurrence of eye injuries is similar to saying helmets increase the occurrence of head injuries. They both contradict the results of previous studies. Therefore, unless he can prove his argument, it has little merit. 

  14. JD_ says:

    It’s precisely the same reason that, back in the day, I could never take anythin’ seriously durin’ Hockey Night In Canada’s ill-advised and very short-lived Liberace’s Ledge.

  15. Thomas says:

    I love reading Boone, he is a huge reason for my ever expanding vocabulary!!

    Alacrity—who knew?

  16. ABHabsfan says:

    You are quite right about that, but it was hypothetical.

  17. punkster says:

    Still don’t like the way he dresses.

  18. DearyLeary says:

    Well, there’s a simple reason you wouldn’t hear that in a Leafs telecast… they’re hardly ever in the position to shut teams out in the last 3 minutes because they allow goals.

  19. DearyLeary says:

    I think people need to remember that Eller is 21.  Our current best position player (Pleks) played 3 games in the NHL when he was 21. He’s on the fast track to being a second line center. 

  20. thebigguy says:

    It’s something you see a lot of right wing ideologues use :P


    But god forbid we criticize those that that grew up in small towns and/or didn’t get an education!


    I kid.

  21. _Habsoloutly_ says:

    Gauthier’s big move will be signing MAB in December, in hopes to jump start the PP back to last years status.

  22. ABHabsfan says:

    What a great game to watch last night. The Habs were relentless at the beginning and at the end. Some lapses in the 2nd but CP was there to hold them through. I thought Pouliot was really good, amazing set of hands. Pouliot with Gomez and Cammy might be worth a look. I realize they are all left hand shots but having 2 skilled players on the wings could help Gomez and Cammy gat it going. This would be to the detriment of Eller, who is better every game, but who would you rather have rolling, Cammy or Eller?

    Bob Cole ruined CP’s shut-out bid. Going on and on about being 3 minutes away from another shut-out and what-not. I realize it is blind superstition but you just don’t do that. Funny how when you start talking about it, it always results in a goal. You wouldn’t hear that talk in a Leafs telecast.

  23. DearyLeary says:

    Of all the new wave of ‘superstars’ how many are in the western conference?  They’re shooting the lights out in Philly, Washington’s got Ovie/Backstrom/Semin, Boston is riding Thomas, and Horton has been pretty good thus far.  The other team beating us in the East is Pittsburgh with the evil Sidney Crosby.

    Also, we’re right in the mix with the same +/- as Detroit and have played competitive games against three of the four teams that are ahead of us in that category (beat Pitt, Philly, and Boston, with a collapse against Philly being our fourth game). 


  24. Caper says:

    I was a fan of his for years. However I am sick of his rants against the Habs or individual players on basically a weekly basis. He does know hockey but his his love of Toronto is becoming too much. Other than Cherry, we all know the leafs are a horrible hockey team. and will be for a few more years to come.

  25. DearyLeary says:

    Are we sure that Jaro Spacek isn’t just some elaborate Dan Aykroyd sketch?  What on earth was he saying about Plekanec’s percentages?  hahaha

  26. JD_ says:

    As much as you have, I’m simply presentin’ a viewpoint. There are some positive aspects to Don’s persona, but I’ll stick to the arguments you made.

    This notion that Cherry-Haters (CHers) are blamin’ the guy for causin’ harm to Subban is a bit of a straw man argument.

    Subban has not been disproportionately targeted any more than any other of the league’s chatterers nor the victim of violence. Don is suggestin’ PK, as you put it, modify his verbal behaviour or he’ll end up bein’ the victim of violence.

    I’m thankfully not in Don’s head but have a few questions: Do you sincerely believe Don is singlemindedly preoccupied with PK’s safety? Just wants to take this one kid under his wing? For the record, public statements regardin’ what he thinks of Subban does not constitute evidence. Part of Don’s makeup is a healthy dose of disingenuous behaviour. Keeps him out of real trouble. Morever, why this perpetual preoccupation – there are almost 700 active players in the NHL – with this one guy?

    In my opinion, there’s a lot more to this than Don simply bein’ Uncle Helpful. I will not pretend to know what it is but have known Don his entire CBC career and know there’s a load bein’ said between the lines.

    The second notion, that CHers believe Don mocks the wearing of visors on helmets because he likes violence and wants people to incur harm is also a straw man argument. Obviously, this isn’t the case.

    The issue has nothin’ to do with safety. Its genesis has largely to do with the manner in which visors worked their way into the league. Many years ago, Don went on record with his belief that visors were for wimps, specifically European wimps. His argument that visors are, on the whole, more harmful than beneficial only emerged long after he was publicly and openly criticized for his position. Long after. Just another example of his penchant for bein’ disingenuous in order to defend a largely indefensible, and now hollow viewpoint.

    Or, is the entire planet just wrong about visors?

    Finally, and most importantly, if one really needs to take the time to slice the fine hairs between nationalism and xenophobia, then xenophobia it is. Were it otherwise, it would be obvious.

    Were it feasible to replay the entire history of Coach’s Corner and revisit every other public proclamation from the guy, one would have absolutely no trouble labellin’ Don for what he ultimately is: A xenophobe. In the past, his comments were outright offensive. Over the last decade-and-a-half, Don has actually toned down his rhetoric to come across as more pro-Canada than anythin’ else more objectionable.

    See, it was good for business, an objective for which Don required no explanation.

    And, by the way, attemptin’ to label his critics is not helpful and, in my case, wholly inaccurate.

  27. Mike Boone says:

    I loathe FHF “funny” nicknames more than you loathe that rule. So let’s just call him Moen, shall we?

  28. HabFanSince72 says:

    You lost me at “Left-wing urban elite Canadians”.


  29. habs-hampton says:

    Don’t forget the personal vendetta that Cherry’s sidekick Ron McLean had against Alex Burrows last year. He used our national, publiclly owned network to start a smear campaign against Burrows. Now I’m not a Canucks fan or Burrows fan, but that was really cheap journalism.

    Next, maybe the 5th Estate can bring in Ron and Don for a 30 minute special to try and ruin Subban’s reputation.

    The only real way to protect guys like Subban is to trade them to Toronto, then the 2 village idiots can fawn all over him.

  30. Mr.Hazard says:

    Best goal differentials in EAST: +26 (PHI), +17 (WSH), +16 (BOS)

    Best in the WEST: +15 (DET), +12 (COL), +11 (CBJ)

    What does this mean?? More disparity in the East, or just more scoring?

    Also: NJD have the 3rd worst goal differential in the league (after NYI and EDM) with -24!! On average, the other team scores one more goal per game. What a terrible stat!

  31. Danno says:

    Good stuff habsgirl174!


    And for anyone else who is so inclined…


    Go here if you wish to make an official complaint about Don Cherry to the CRTC.

    You may also address your complaint to the CBC Ombudsman directly:



    Vince Carlin
    P.O. Box 500, Station A
    Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6
    Fax: 416/205-2825
    Tel.: 416/205-2978


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

  32. habsgirl74 says:

    i just personally sent a letter to the CRTC regarding Don Cherry and i would urge evryone on this site to do it and everyone else you know and maybe get him off the air

  33. Rad says:


    Good Lord. May I be the first to nominate Mr. Cherry for Archbishop of the Holy Catholic Church, and thereby vent myself cathartically of any goodthinking and/or thoughtcrimes, now and in the future, so help me God? 


  34. Danno says:

    Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words.

    Go here if you wish to make an official complaint about Don Cherry to the CRTC.




    Dear Sir or Madam:

    recent broadcasts of Coaches Corner which airs during Hockey Night in
    Canada broadcasts on the CBC television network, TV personality Mr.
    Donald S. Cherry has been repeatedly suggesting that Montreal Canadiens
    defenseman PK Subban will suffer some physical retaliation as a result
    of his style of play.
    He has shown replays of violent acts and
    attempts against PK Subban as well as videos by other players including
    Philadelphia Flyers Captain Mike Richards making threatenning remarks
    against PK Subban.
    Mr. Cherry is constantly and openly encouraging,
    inciting and justifying violent forms of aggression to be taken against
    PK Subban.
    His main justification for the above is that PK Subban is a
    player who is new to the NHL and therefor should be showing “respect”
    by not playing with such a flamboyant style.
    This is totally unacceptable.
    am shocked and outraged that this hateful vendetta against an innocent
    individual is allowed to be broadcast on our public airwaves by the CBC,
    our public television network.
    I would respectfully ask the CRTC to
    intervene on my behalf and on behalf of all Canadians who expect our
    public broadcaster to uphold our values and standards which include
    keeping our airwaves free of content which would encourage hatred and/or
    violence against an innocent individual.

    Thank you for your attention to this important matter.




    You may also address your complaint to the CBC Ombudsman directly:



    Vince Carlin
    P.O. Box 500, Station A
    Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6
    Fax: 416/205-2825
    Tel.: 416/205-2978



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

  35. VancouverHab says:

    (Love the name!)

    Well, nobody, including Don Cherry disagrees with the position that you state here. But you’ve made a reverse form of the  “agumentum ad tobacum industrium.” (Argument of the Tobacco Industry ;–)

    ‘This specific cigarette smoker didn’t die of cancer, therefore tobacco is safe.’

    In other words, specific cases (of harm or safety) neither support nor refute general truths (smoking in general causes cancer: but not in every particular case.)

    So, Don Cherry’s argument is that visors cause a general increase in eye injury, not that visorlessness universally prevents it in every case. His hypothesis may be wrong, but it is both a rational and a testable hypothesis.

  36. light_n_tasty says:

    Gainey brought Gomez in to be the number one centre.  Gomez is not even close to living up to those expectations.

  37. Exit716 says:

    PK dissed the old fart at some point in his past and Cherry won’t let it die.

  38. Bill says:

    Fair enough.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  39. stephen says:

    I think he was cleverly suggesting the effort on Friday didn’t quite constitute a ‘game’.

  40. Clay4bc says:

    Fair and balanced just like FOX “news” is, yes.


    The only interesting answers are those which destroy the questions. ~Susan Sontag

  41. VancouverHab says:

    SF09–good counter-points too: I’ll think over your’s and the other’s good points and hopefully adapt to & learn from them.

    I just want to note that Don Cherry’s defense (lionisation?) of Nazem Kadri is a strong argument against Mr. Cherry being either a simple racist or religious bigot, no?

  42. VancouverHab says:

    Thanks to you, Bill, & to everyone, for good & reasoned responses. I do want to say that Don Cherry’s opinions of French Canadians are not defensible, and I don’t like them. For myself, I contextualise it as being common to his generation of pros & semi-pros, and note that fact that he is 100% admiring of individual Francophones (Beliveau 7 Roy, for example.) But, again, those views & attitude behind them are indefesible.

  43. Bob Barker says:

    When will you be accepting your Nobel Prize for your groundbreaking study “Eye injuries and the Visor Environment”?

    The proper way to test visor effectiveness would be 1) high stick someone not wearing a visor 2) highstick someone wearing a visor  3) repeat steps 1-2 5 times with different subjects 4) Examine subjects for injuries and determine if differences are statistically significant. 



  44. Fargo Habs Fan says:

    I find it comical how PK is just some disrespectful jerk in Cherry’s ice, but Nazem Kadri is the second coming of Christ.


  45. CalgaryHabsFan says:

    Every time Cherry gets under my skin I always think of this moment and it always makes me smile.


    Cherry is a pathetic small minded little man who hates us because we crushed his dreams of winning the stanley cup.

  46. Fargo Habs Fan says:

    I didn’t see a whole lot of playing going on in Atlanta, but I agree that the Canadiens were scheduled to be there Friday night.  :)


  47. punkster says:

    Hey, I just don’t like the way he dresses or his smug and opinionated attitude. That, and all the rest of it, is nothing more than the persona he has developed and honed over the years. I don’t take any of his comments seriously. At best he’s an experienced ex hockey coach who knows how to market himself. At worst he’s a clown. Either way he’s harmless.

  48. Keith says:

    I really liked what Travis Moen (aka:Moeman) did last night, coming to the aid of Mike Cammalleri and taking the instigator (how I LOATHE that rule), which is exactly what the team needs to do for one another since the Habs are a bit on the small side. Take a well deserved day off guys, you’ve earned it!

  49. DLHABSNUT65 says:

    Are you forgetting about the NO SHOW in Atlanta on Friday night or are you just trying to forget it! If that’s the case then I’m sorry I reminded you!

  50. RS says:

    Lots of people hate Sean Avery, but he was probably saying what a lot of players think when he said Cherry was a out-of-date clown who doesn’t know much about hockey today. I’ve got more respect for Avery than Cherry!

  51. Ali says:

    To answer the question:

    The Habs are a team that you don’t want to give up the first goal to. If the opposition team scores first, we have yet to see the Habs overcome that. Thats when this team can be considered a true contender. That and we have to be able to find a way to beat big, fast aggressive teams like the Flyers and Thrashers. And I guess that means coming up with a plan to beat it, because God knows management isnt going to go out and get any big guys.

  52. DLHABSNUT65 says:

    I can’t believe the network actually pays for Cherry’s BS. He should have been put out to pasture 10 years ago or longer! He’s so prejudice it’s not even funny. Goes to show how out of touch with reality the CBC really is. If PK played for the leafs Cherry would love the kid! Well I think PK is awesome and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for PK, Eller and Price!! GO HABS GO!!

  53. Clay4bc says:

    You have an interesting and well thought out argument here, and I respect that. I do not, however, respect the constant digs in what you term the “Left-wing urban elite” like it is some disease to be cured.

    Aside from that though, you have some good points. I think that in his mind he actually thinks he is trying to help Subban, and he does try to help prevent injuries. These points are unarguable.And if not a xenophobe, he is as close as it gets – although it is clear that he considers Americans to be part of “us” in his “us vs them” world. Why else would he constantly demean “Europeans”, and purposely (and repeatedly) mis-pronounce their names (especially when they play for the Habs – he didn’t pronounce Halak’s name correctly once until he was traded to the blues, which also tells me that the Quebec region is not part of his “us”)? He quite obiously has no respect for them.

    As well,  you may want to consider the fact that you are over-thinking this just a tad. While many may actually see “DonCherry” in the was you portray him, others, like myself, simply see Don Cherry as epitomizing the Boston Bruins, as well as rightwing, uneducated people who would benefit from a little education. Well, that, and a fool –  because he is an ignorant redneck fool who has used the upholstery from my grandmother’s 1960’s furniture to make his suits.


    The only interesting answers are those which destroy the questions. ~Susan Sontag

  54. andrewberkshire says:

    Alzner however wasn’t in the AHL because he wasn’t ready. It was very clear in his callups that he was the best defenseman the Capitals had defensively. He wasn’t called up because Washington didn’t want to pay him.

  55. HardHabits says:

    1) I liken Cherry’s remarks to a fatwa. It’s an underhanded way putting a price on Subban’s head. He wants PK to get hurt so he can I-told-you-so. He’s a Habs hater an a shill for the Leafs.

    2) It’s for old-schooled views like this that I used to like watching Cherry. Back in the 80’s he was like a clown.  Then in the 90’s the started dressing like one. He’s bombastic and full of himself. He’s a boor of the highest magnitude.

    3) Don Cherry is not a “nationalist” he is a “monarchist”. Cherry is not an inclusive Canadian either.

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