About last night …

If someone had told you the Canadiens would complete their Andrei Markov-less schedule with a record of 7-2-1 …

You would have laughed – bitterly.

The most optimistic fan might have hoped for a .500 record until the return of the team’s most valuable player.

There is every indication Markov will be ready to join his high-flying, first-in-the-NHL, how-the-heck-are-they-doing-it? teammates against the Panthers at the Bell Centre.

If someone had told you Jacques Martin would have to alter a winning lineup to get him in …

As it is, the coach will be benching a red-hot goaltender to make room for Carey Price.

Someone commenting on François Gagnon’s blog came up with the perfect summary of what happened on Long Island:

Oh my G-Auld!

Martin’s Midas touch continues apace.

After Price started nine straight games, the coach took a chance by sitting him. The Canadiens had beaten the Islanders on Wednesday night. The team had momentum. Everyone, from the goaltender out, was playing sound, winning hockey.

But Price wasn’t going to start 82 games this season.

So Auld, who hadn’t played since the pre-season, during which he reminded no one of Patrick Roy, got the start, made 30 saves and kept the Canadiens in the game through their worst period of the season.

The Islanders didn’t begin playing until the game was 10 minutes old. But once they got their aggressive, physical forecheck going, the home team consistently bottled the Canadiens up en route to a 13-4 shot advantage in the middle period.

Auld stopped 12 of the shots, and he might have stopped 13 if Tomas Plekanec had tied up Matt Martin on the lip of the crease.

Auld stood tall and got excellent PK support through a 5-on-3 Islanders power play that lasted an agonizing 1:43. He was particularly outstanding on the shots the Islanders kept blasting in from the point.

Pierre Gauthier was criticized for signing Auld. Fans wondered why the GM didn’t sign Dan Ellis or someone else with a better NHL pedigree than Auld.

Gauthier knew what he was doing. He wanted a reliable veteran who would be content with a backup role, a goaltender who would work hard in practice and provide mentorship for Price, as Cristobal Huet did.


He’s big, he’s bald and he’s 1-0, with a GAA of 1.00 and a save percentage of 96.8.

Now Auld can sit again, and Martin has a go-to guy for the three sets of back-to-backers the Canadiens will play in November.

Another Gauthier signing that merits mention: Jeff Halpern.

Halpern is winning faceoffs (8-3 last night), killing penalties (which will reduce wear-and-tear on Plekanec, which will pay off as the season progresses), contributing quality puck-management minutes and making unfailingly intelligent plays.

Wednesday night, Halpern had a goal and an assist to help sink the Islanders at the Bell Centre. Then in a tough, hard-hitting road game, he pulled down a lob pass from P.K. Subban, gained the zone and fed Benoit Pouliot for the winning goal. (Props to Mathieu Darche, whose drive toward the net took an Islanders Dman out of Pouliot’s shooting lane.)

I loved Glen Metropolit, but this is a MAJOR upgrade.

Halpern is making $600,00.

Is there a better bargain in the league?

(And the guys on L’Antichambre, Carbo and François Gagnon agree.)

It was another great night for the supporting cast. Travis Moen got another goal, and forechecking shifts by the third and fourth lines broke the Islanders momentum in the early minutes of the third period.

Contributions from the plumbers are found money because the Pleks-AK46-Cammalleri line continues to shine; and Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta will get it going soon, right?

The G&G slump would be the talk of the town if the Canadiens weren’t winning.

Enough pissing and moaning about finding them a left wing. The captain and his highly-paid centre have to get going.

And they will, with the luxury of having sucked through a seven-win start.

Now shall we ponder the Big Question?

Who sits for Markov?

Were the Canadiens a pure meritocracy, Jaro Spacek probably would be sampling Bell Centre hot dogs on Saturday night.

Spatch was not great against the Islanders. He’s played 10 unstellar games this season.

But you know what?

A team that’s been winning doesn’t make a respected veteran a healthy scratch.

No, Spatch is not Bobby Orr. There are times when he isn’t Bobby Dollas.

But he gives his all … albeit a diminished all from a 36-year-old hockey player with a lot mileage.

Spacek and Roman Hamrlik were heroic during Markov’s lengthy absence last season. I think Martin will give them a vote of confidence by keeping the Czech pair intact against Florida.

Josh Gorges and Hal Gill will be kept together. And Markov will play with P.K., which should be fun to watch.

Alexandre Picard, who has been steady while complementing the flamboyance of Subban, becomes the seventh Dman.

Picard will get his chance. Injuries happen. Trades happen.

Ten games without Markov and your Montreal Canadiens lead the Northeast Division, the Eastern Conference and the National Hockey League.

Their goal differential, plus-6, is third to Boston’s plus-9 and L.A.’s plus-7.

They’ve won 4 of 5 road games.

The Islanders were the first opponent to exceed 30 shots since Tampa Bay – and that was 17 days ago …

Back when no one knew anything about Alex Auld







  1. Cee_8ch says:

    The post from ctony wherein he called Gorges “a smallish stiff” is so far off base, it’s inhumanly possible to be that ridiculous.

    For your info ctony, Josh Gorges had an awkward moment during one game in 2009, just to see how it feels!

  2. pdunph says:

    Does anyone think that Spacek might pull a Marcus Naslund and retire next year before his contract is up? He looks exhausted every shit, and I think by next year he might concede to having nothing left to give. This might just be wishful thinking though.

  3. MikeL says:

    I think this is the exact reason the phrase “stats are for losers” was created.

    Not a chance Halpern gets 30 or Gomez only gets 8.

  4. Will Longlade says:

    The G&G line may not be firing on all cylinders, but I thought they had more than a few decent scoring chances last night and they compete every shift. They also scored the insurance goal to put the game on ice. Although it would be nice to see the line contributing more to the Hab’s offense, the team is winning and the goals will eventually come. Some posters have a tendency to measure the success of the G&G line against a higher yardstick than others because of the mighty dollar sign. Me, I look at the results of the games. That’s my yardstick and really the only one that matters.     

  5. Danno says:

    Jeff Halpern is on pace for 30 goals this season which works out to $20,000 per goal.

    Scott Gomez is on pace for eight goals this season which works out to about $1 million per goal.


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

  6. Willy the bum says:

    Halpern is making $600,00.

    If there is no mistake, that sounds like an awesome catch for them… ;P

  7. nightmare_49 says:


       The Litter Box: …  Moen is Challenged by Hordichuk.


    “We’ll see how he likes it when somebody gets in his face. There wasn’t any need for that. That’s why I’m here to make sure stuff like that doesn’t happen.’’

       Panthers’ forward Darcy Hordichuk, evidently looking forward to catching up with Montreal’s Travis Moen on Saturday, via the Sun-Sentinel. In case you had forgotten


       From Sun Sentinel:

       Scouting Report: The 3-5 Panthers have lost three of four, and are 0-2 on the second Canadian road trip of the month. They’re coming off their worst effort of the season, a 5-3 loss to Ottawa in which they lost 61 percent of the faceoffs and had nine turnovers. Former Canadien Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli notched their first goals of the season. G Tomas Vokoun is 4-7-3 with a 2.54 GAA vs. Montreal. The Canadiens won three straight before Friday’s road game against the Islanders. The Habs’ line of Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn and Mike Cammalleri have 25 points in the first nine games. Goalie Carey Price has six wins with a 2.32 GAA. Montreal won three of four against Florida last season, including both games in the Bell Centre.

  8. nightmare_49 says:


       Another good read and Bravo to Pleks for having another stellar defensive game.

       Though it wasn’t our best game this season we managed to take the points and get out of town as the Islanders weren’t clicking offensively. The Panthers will be rested and McCabe is playing the best hockey is sometime. They have a few other players who are ready to end their slumps so we should beware.

       No easy games in the NHL. 

  9. mrhabby says:

    its only 10 games but looks good so far. i like the defensive play 5 on 5 which was a sticking point for many last year. Need the G line to get going and fast , can’t have pluggers score all the goals.

    Pleks looks great and Cams is ready to explode.

    Spacek/Hammer looking old but still hanging on. Great Markov coming back will reduce there minutes.

  10. quentin_stuckley says:

    with the big body of tinordi on the back burner, and picard, whilst smaller, he’s much steadier and composed.  i’d have no problem with him in and spacek getting some rest, but i think boone is right.  martin will keep spatch in for the meantime.  the only way i see spatch sitting is if his play continues to regress.  i hope he will turn it around.  luckily p.k. is playing well, as are gorges and gill, so maybe spacek and hammer will be played a little less, which is fine.  they’ve been around, and they must be doing something right, as we’ve been winning steadily.  go habs go!  continue with florida.  man, are they a thorn.  

  11. G-Man says:

    After 10 games against middling to poor competition, Habs are doing great. Although every1 watching finds faults all over the team (meaning they don’t care for certain players), this is the first inklings of “team” that Montreal has had for quite a while. A united locker room with every1 on the same page makes for a team with no quit that’s getting scoring from all quarters- almost. The fast-paced 45 seconds and get off rule is being followed by ALL the players, leading to stronger 3rd period play.

    When Gio and Gomez get going- Habs have a chance at being a dominant team. Fingers crossed Habs keep to their winning ways tomight.

  12. JF says:

    Last night may have included the Habs’ worst period of hockey this season, but it included some great things as well – a powerplay goal, an absolutely monstrous penalty kill on the 5-on-3, a bounce-back third period with a lovely goal from Pouliot, the type of goal he scored last year, after a great play by Subban and Halpern, and above all, a stellar performance from Alex Auld.

    Back in the summer when Gauthier signed him, hockey writers as well as fans were shocked. One writer even argued that the signing would cost the Habs a playoff berth.  I was disappointed myself; of all the backup goaltenders on the market, Auld was about the last I would have chosen.  But I guess I know squat: I wanted Hedberg, who allowed 4 goals on about 15 shots in his only start so far for Jersey.  A few year ago, Auld for the Panthers and Huet for us duelled to a 0-0 tie which we won in a shootout.  Auld said afterwards that it was the only time in his career he’d posted a shutout and gotten the loss.  If you’re a backup, how much better for your confidence to sit after a solid performance than after being shelled; you’d have days if not weeks to dwell on it.

    I would never have dared dream of a start like this.  But I think that second period sounded a cautionary note. Teams with an aggressive forecheck will give us problems and likely keep us hemmed in our zone for longer than we’re used to seeing this year. The Flyers will throw their weight at us and the Bruins will try and grind us into the boards.  I’m waiting to see convincing wins against those teams before I get too high on this year’s Habs.

  13. Duracell3 says:

    Greatest mystery to me is whty MAB even plays defense, AHL guys can fly around him. If I were a GM for a lower skilled team I’d maybe pick him up just to play him just a few minutes a game ona 4th line and play him on the PP.

  14. VancouverHab says:

    First time I’ve ever done this, but this from joeybarrie is a perfect post. My repects.

    “There were SO many of little faith. Spewing non sense about this team not making the playoffs. How this team is too small, too old, too young, too overpaid, too everything but GOOD. Well its a long season, and we havent done anything yet. Well anything but lead the league after 10 games. Now there are a few teams to catch up in games and we are bound to slump. But we are off to a great start and we are still missing our best player. WHO IS FINALLY BACK IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS.

    “I said it before. We were NOT just lucky. Best part is we aren’t even playing to our capability yet. Say what you will and give all the nonsense reasons you want. BOB GAINEY DID A GREAT JOB. He took a crappy team that made the playoffs but once in the last 5 years. He made the playoffs 5 out of 6 years. Led the East in one year and left a team that made the Conf. Finals and are currently leading the NHL without their star player.

    “SAY WHAT YOU WILL. But we are a GOOD team. ALL YOU NEGATIVE POSTERS OUT THERE SHOULD WAKE UP.”  [Although if I’d written this I’d have said that the negative posters & Gomophobes should permamently SHUT THE HELL UP.]

  15. DYCSoccer17 says:

    How do you bench a defenseman who is +7 in 10 games “without a doubt”?

  16. kempie says:

    Picard without a doubt.

  17. Habies says:

    Short – Term minds work both ways, I see.

  18. Habies says:

    First said this 14 days ago…

    Don’t think O’B will ever play for us again. Anyone think he’s done like Burmese bacon?

  19. Da Hema says:

    Those Duracell batteries in your avatar can play better defence than MAB. I agree with you the team has at least four overall better defencemen either on the team already or in the minors. MAB`s days of collecting a six figure salary because he has a powerful shot are almost certainly over.


    With the resumption of the NHL regular season, Health Canada is reminding Canadians that consumption of the Toronto Maple Leafs can lead to vomiting, fever, bloody diarrhea, dementia, and penile dysfunction.

  20. VancouverHab says:

    From NHL.com

    “I always felt Alex was a good goaltender, I had him in Florida,” Martin said. “He’s capable, especially in that role, and he came in tonight and I think it showed that his teammates really appreciate the win for him.”

    JM is much much better than the smarmy abusers give him credit for (no newsflash, I know…)

  21. VancouverHab says:

    Well, I’ve seen stupider single remarks, but this takes the biscuit for the agglomeration of asinine remarks. (He forgot ‘trade Markov for Rypien’ though, in his defense….)

  22. Duracell3 says:

    I think most of the reservation comes from the teams who they have beaten. Beating the pens and Buffalo was a good start though. But to be fair I think 4 of 7 wins have been against Ottawa and the Isles. No doubt this team is alright though, but they have to beat teams like philly and the Bruins in the playoffs, and that is all that matters.

  23. VancouverHab says:

    They are not — nor should they — sit a class veteran like Spatch. He’s there at an elite level when it matters.

    Respect the veterans if you have half a clue as a coach — & JM has (we now see) a clue & a half.

    And SIT PRICE? Get a brain.

    TRADE GORGES????!!!!!  Oh my dear Lord — sorry this is obviously a troll.

  24. VancouverHab says:

    ha ha!

  25. Duracell3 says:

    Not only OB, but we still have Weber and Carle as very competent players in Hamilton. As an all around player, I think Weber is a respectable alternative to what MAB would bring. IMO his defensive game (not even saying that Weber’s D-game is that great), outweighs MAB’s, with a a skill on the PP that would still be effective.

  26. christophurrr says:

    big time

  27. Da Hema says:

    Moen would kick O’Byrne’s dumb ass all over the ice.


    With the resumption of the NHL regular season, Health Canada is reminding Canadians that consumption of the Toronto Maple Leafs can lead to vomiting, fever, bloody diarrhea, dementia, and penile dysfunction.

  28. mbplekfan says:

    If other teams are starting to target PK it would make sense to put OB in to dish out some payback. He’s the only option we have for toughness unless they bring up Henry from the bulldogs for a few games.


  29. ABHabsfan says:

    I am going to pretend that this comment is facetious, there can be no other reason for it being posted by an actual breathing human. Auld was very good tonight but CP would have to stumble down the Bell centre stairs and break both is legs before  Auld would see more than 20 starts. I would trust Gorges with my children.

  30. Xtrahabsfan says:

    Kpimpil,good game eh!Why all the hate?We be teammates !And tonights game showed us all we could put anyone in nets for the C.H. any givin game and it will work out which is good cause we don’t have anyone great anymore as a netminder! Ok,now that I’m done you should give your puss a lil wipe 🙂

  31. Propwash says:

    MAB was great when he started here, once teams learned to clog him up in the slot, he was a non-factor. Thanks, but no thanks.


    Goalies in Montreal have two roles, netminder and scapegoat. 

  32. Da Hema says:

    The “newspaper” claims “the Montreal Canadiens are undermanned on the blue line.” “Undermanned?” They are so “undermanned” that Ryan O’Byrne may end up unemployed tomorrow.

    Boone was searching for someone to come up with a dumber comment. We have a winner!


    With the resumption of the NHL regular season, Health Canada is reminding Canadians that consumption of the Toronto Maple Leafs can lead to vomiting, fever, bloody diarrhea, dementia, and penile dysfunction.

  33. Propwash says:

    Well, Auld knows he’s hired as a backup, and even though its only one game, it’s kinda comforting that our netminding situation is in good hands, is it not?


    Goalies in Montreal have two roles, netminder and scapegoat. 

  34. SeriousFan09 says:

    HH for cryin’ out loud, why are you trying to help a Sun newspaper increase circulation?


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

  35. Chuck says:

    If Bergeron is worth a Toronto Sun article, why don’t they lobby for his being signed by the Maple Leafs?

    Centre Hice: Suck on this, Leaf fans.

  36. HardHabits says:

    After game article by Brian Wilde >> Habs Fever: Is this for real?

    Another by Arpon Basu Daily Hab-it: Habs turn it on in third thanks to MIA crew

    Toronto Sun sensationalism >> Bergeron: Habs don’t want me

    According to the article The Montreal Canadiens are undermanned on the blue line

  37. PureGuava says:

    He had me at ‘Halak’….

    Actually the only part I agree with is taking Eller out for a spin. I like Gomer – but maybe have him centering the third line for a couple of games. How about rolling three dangerous lines and one shut-down one? 

  38. Da Hema says:

    There are a couple dumbos over at the other threads, Mike. And the evening is still young.


    With the resumption of the NHL regular season, Health Canada is reminding Canadians that consumption of the Toronto Maple Leafs can lead to vomiting, fever, bloody diarrhea, dementia, and penile dysfunction.

  39. Former Jets Fan says:

    Oh, but it’s not for the ‘t and a’ but rather her other attributes – chiefly being an Olympic-calibre skater.  She’d put those jump-suited dudes to shame.

  40. Chuck says:

    I sure hope that you meant that to be a pun.   🙂


    Centre Hice: Suck on this, Leaf fans.

  41. Former Jets Fan says:

    not even a “stiff”, a “smallish stiff”, like he only took a haf-dose of Cialis.

  42. Exit716 says:

    There were some doozies in the game comments section tonight from one poster…

  43. kempie says:

    Yeah, he’s running on the “trade Georges” platform! LMFAO

  44. DYCSoccer17 says:

    Seeing you have such great inside info, then please tell me who is sitting when Markov returns?

  45. Mike Boone says:

    Help me, people: I can’t remember reading a more ignorant Comment than that. There has to have been at least one, no?

  46. andrewberkshire says:

    Please no… PLEASE!

  47. andrewberkshire says:

    Personally not a fan of ice-girls. I don’t watch hockey for ‘t and a’.

  48. sholi2000.com says:

    There’s a whole bunch of silence from those clowns.  Best Site Ever :0  When we Win.

    They Call Me Shane

  49. HardHabits says:

    Oh Tony’s here. He’s scrambling better than an omelet.

    search out ctony

  50. HardHabits says:

    MAB was on l’Antichambre. The Urologist is ready to go with the flow.

  51. kempie says:

    I’m loving the roaring silence from guys like Tony and Xtrahabsknob.

  52. Yeats says:

    LOL! PG is waiting until the trade deadline to determine if a truely glorious outlet pass is still needed to push them over the top. It all comes down to the annual crucial question for the Habs, i.e. do we go “Full Breezer?”

  53. HardHabits says:

    I saw a Mr. Cabbage Head on Kids in the Hall. Maybe he’s related to that guy that wears the Celery Cap.

  54. Former Jets Fan says:

    voted off on Monday.  I’d take him back if he brings Shae-Lynn Bourne to be an ice-girl.

  55. Former Jets Fan says:

    I watch the games but I’m not familiar with this salary cap – what colour is it, and who wears it?

  56. Chuck says:

    “Alex Auld made 30 saves in his season debut to earn his first victory in nine months…”

    Centre Hice: documenting one fan’s attachment to the Montreal Canadiens.

  57. andrewberkshire says:

    What about Breezer? What’s his contract with Battle of the Blades? Does he have an out clause?

  58. Harani says:

    Anyone else feel like the Habs aren’t being given the credit they deserve? 7-2-1 and the best f’ing team in the league with the best penalty kill and without our best player, it’s ridiculous! I don’t think this is a joke, it’s for real! Go Habs!

    “It must be love!”

  59. _Habsoloutly_ says:

    Tony, Tony, Tony, off the meds again tonight?

  60. andrewberkshire says:

    That’s the thing that gets me as well HH, the second line isn’t scoring, the PP is just now starting to click a bit, and we’re still 7-2-1. We’re going up from here, not down. I was excited about this season because I believed we improved as an overall team, but in no way did I think we improved this much.

  61. Yeats says:

    Given all the work put in by Gainey, PG and their staffs, the fact that this team has dropped any points is a travesty. Trade them all and see if Juha Lind and Janne Ninnima are still interested in playing in Montreal!!!

  62. The Juice says:

    Great post Mr. Boone!

  63. Barts says:

    “I think Martin will sit Pyatt and go with 7 defensemen.”


    I’ve got news for ya, Tom Pyatt ain’t sitting.

  64. joeybarrie says:


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

  65. HardHabits says:

    Trade Gorges. LMFAO!!!! Tony (HI/O member for: 6 min 26 sec) you are an idiot.

  66. Former Jets Fan says:

    Totally.  If there’s one overriding impression I have of Gorges, it’s that he’s a greedy SOB 5/6 D-Man just waiting for his turn to break the bank at the expense of the team.  I’m sure it must absolutely rile him that USS Hal Gill makes over 2 million while he’s been covering his wide ass all the time.  If Plekanec can get 25 million from PG, I’ve no doubt that Gorges will be asking for one of those mega-deals like Duncan Keith has…..say 17 years, 60 million.  Ship him out.  Maybe for one of those top-6 forwards I’ve seen growing on trees, and a few picks for good measure. 

    And as for Auld’s play.  Totally!  Again you’ve nailed it!!!  Surely his career sub .900 save % is an aberration, and he just needed a seventh change of scenery, and a starting goalie’s job ripe for the plucking, just like he did to that other young phenom Dan Cloutier.

  67. andrewberkshire says:

    Suggesting trading Gorges because he’s a “stiff”…. No Mike, it doesn’t get anymore ignorant unless we start talking about creationists.

  68. habsfan321 says:

    HI/O member for: 4 min 46 sec… that says it all. Leave troll.

  69. Former Jets Fan says:

    So – do we put Markov on the right side he is unaccustomed to on the PP, to open up the one-timer on both sides with he and Subban?  I think so.  Neither has the absolute cannon of MAB or Souray, but they both shoot very well, and the opposition not knowing who the triggerman is going to be should work to our advantage.

  70. HardHabits says:

    Give it time. The Habs are one of the most entertaining teams to watch so far this season. I would have never guessed that watching last year’s regular season team  though in retrospect they did run with the best of them. The Habs are doing it with solid defense but as Gainey said last year, those Martin coached Senators teams brought a lot of firepower to their games. He needs to work on some new plays for Gomez though. Once that line starts scoring this team looks solid all around. I am kind of giddy right now. 7-2-1 is so much better than 2-7-1.

  71. habsfan321 says:

    “Their goal differential, plus-6, is second only to Boston’s plus-9.”

    We’re 3rd… The Los Angeles Kings have a plus-7. Not that it makes a difference really, but I just noticed that while staring in shock and amazement at the league standings on NHL.com. I can’t believe it.

  72. andrewberkshire says:

    Love this team, unreal how well they rely on each other. JM frustrates the hell out of me at times, but it’s getting harder and harder to argue with how effective his strategies have been.

  73. DYCSoccer17 says:

    Can’t sit Picard…he’s just playing too solidly.


    I think Martin will sit Pyatt and go with 7 defensemen.  He did that last year when defensemen were returning from injury.  

    I agree with the Spacek analysis.  The goal was partially his fault with his weak play behind the net allowing the centering pass…he allowed the guy to whiff on the pass once and then get a second pass off.  Hopefully, we can trade Spacek for a mid-round pick, but I would doubt that anyone would want to pick up his salary at this point in the season.

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