About last night …

SCREECH!

Know what that sound is?

The grinding of metal on metal as Montreal Canadiens fans recallibrate their expectations for the season.

2010 was fun: the miraculous playoff run last April and May, a good start in October and November.

Then December happened, and the more sensible among us began to realize what we have here:

• A very good goaltender who has to be great for his team to win

• A defence crippled by the loss of Andrei Markov, leaving fans to hope that James Wisniewski can join a healthy (we hope) Josh Gorges in bridging the gap between aging veterans and raw-but-promising youth

• Forwards who exhibit the tendencies that have plagued the Canadiens for years: the skill guys lack grit and the tough guys lack skill

• A coach whose defensive, puck-support system looks brilliant in 3-2 wins is accused of being a stodgy, ultra-conservative stifler of talent when the team loses.

Look, your Montreal Canadiens are what they are: A team deprived … again … of their best player, with strengths and weaknesses that will leave them battling down to the wire for a playoff spot in a very competitive hockey league.

Need a pick-me-up after another dispiriting loss?

How about a good nutritious breakfast?

 

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The Canadiens are six points clear of Carolina and Ottawa, but the Hurricanes have two games in hand.

They are two points back of Atlanta and the Rangers, but the Canadiens have played two fewer games than the Thrashers. The Welcome to the Bell Centre, James Wisniewski afternoon game against Atlanta on Sunday will be huge.

Before we get to the weekend, the Canadiens play a tough back-to-back in Florida.

In Tampa Bay tomorrow night, they face an explosive team that has scored 115 goals this season, to the Canadiens’ 93. But the Lightning have allowed 120, 34 more than the Canadiens. Surely an offence that has scored once this week will come to life in TB.

Then, with only about 20 hours rest the Canadiens play Jacques Martin’s old team at Happy Hour. At that point, the December road trip could be a putrid 1-5-0.

But, again, the Canadiens will skate into 2011 as a playoff contender.

Every team has slumps. Washington lost eight in a row this season – and did not look like a lock for the Cup last night. The team that bombarded Jaro Halak with 42 shots on April 28 had 30 on Carey Price last night. Nicklas Backstrom was brilliant – 10-2 on faceoffs, excellent in all three zones – but Alexander Semin was held off the scoresheet, and the Great Ovechkin didn’t score until Price was on the bench.

With a lead, Bruce Boudreau was able to roll four lines – a luxury denied Jacques Martin, who also had to deal with another parade to the penalty box. Maxim Lapierre played 4:06, Travis Moen and Jeff Halpern fewer han five minutes at even strength.

Benoit Pouliot – one of the precious few Canadiens with size and skill – took an undisciplined penalty when the score was 0-0 and played 8:20 on the night.

Scott Gomez went 0-12 on faceoffs, Tomas Plekanac 6-15. Pleks, one of the team’s ace penalty-killers, spent six minutes in the box.

Brian Gionta was minus-2, as was Yannick Weber, who’s my bet to sit when Wisniewski suits up.

Wiz should help the PP, which took another 0-for.

On the bright side, Max Pacioretty had a couple hits, came to the rescue of his captain and continued to look like he belonged.

P.K. Subban was on his butt in the neutral zone to start the sequence that led to Mike Green’s goal, but the kid played 21:10 – most ToI since his return from purgatory. P.K.’s minutes will become more manageable when Wisniewski becomes likely a first-wave RH shot on the power play.

Andrei Kostitsyn had five shots on goal last night. None went in, but the Big Enigma showed some jump.

The penalty kill was perfect again. Why not? They get lots of practice … and the Canadiens take a succession of rinky-dink minors that don’t even serve the usefulpurpose of intimidating anyone. The only people this team scares are its fans.

Bottom line on the FOURTH 3-0 loss of the season: the Canadiens have played worse games than they did in Washington.

And they may play worse games between now and April 9.

But let’s hope there aren’t too many, because this is a Parity Division team that can finish anywhere from sixth to 10th.

•  •  •

An astute Comment from JasonM:

Something happened to the Habs when they lost that game to Edmonton.
It seems that when the changes were made to the team they have been
unable to play quality hockey. There hasn’t been a stretch where I sat
down and watched them play in awe as they played some quality hockey.
I’ve seen some flashes here and there but the Habs are playing very
mediocre hockey. Carey Price is no longer standing on his head and when
everyone is no longer playing at their best and shall I say… coasting?
that won’t be enough… they won’t win games.

Now that the
pressure is on there’s a big problem… they cannot get it back into
gear and what does that translate to? Poor plays being made, frustrated
reactions and ultimately, bad penalties. The Habs have played a terrible
month of hockey and combined the Habs have taken far more penalties
than have been granted and it’s no referee controversy here folks.

I’m
not happy with Martin. I think he’s unable to get the best out of his
players and plays a game the way it shouldn’t be played in this day and
age. Furthermore, the youth don’t tend to grow under him, a big issue
when you have really OLD players and really young studs. I feel the way
he’s handled Subban far from ideal and to be honest, he had to take care
of other players beforehand.

There’s an issue with confidence
right now and more importantly an issue with motivation. I don’t see any
hunger out there and our forwards are shooting the opponents with peas.
We can’t score, we can’t finish and no one has stepped up and took it
to the other team. I thought this team had leadership? I just don’t see
it.

It’s embarassing to lose to the Islanders.

To no show the next game and get shut out?

As the French media would put it… “c’est deplorable.”

 

 

 

65 Comments

  1. nova scotia vees says:

    I know I sound like a broken record, but when are people (and the media) going to take a hard look at how the League is favouring the Maple Leafs.  Did you see the stats on last night’s game?  After 2 periods the Leafs had 6 P.P.’s to the Canes 1.  Then with less than 4 minutes to go and down a goal they get another P.P….They didn’t score so they then get ANOTHER power-play with 30 seconds left!!! This happens ALL THE TIME.

    They finished second last in the league last year, but were one of the leaders in Power-plays.  They were also in the bottom half of the short-handed statistics.  Co-incidence??? Where were the Habs last year?  LAST IN POWERPLAYS AND FIRST IN SHORT-HANDED SITUATIONS.  Co-incidence?  It is easy to see which team the league feels is CANADA’S TEAM.

  2. Chris says:

    The problem with comparisons to the guys you mention is that they are surrounded with larger players.  St. Louis plays with Ryan Malone, who does not mind getting dirty.  And Briere/Giroux are complimented by Richards/Carter/Leino/Hartnell, physical forwards who will work hard in the corners and more often than not win their battles.

    The Habs have players that are good in the corners, such as Moen and Lapierre, but those players lack the skill to play on the scoring lines.  Until the team can acquire or develop a forward that wins those battles and/or block the opposing goalie’s sight lines to help out the teams shooters, the “Lament of the Power Forward” will continue to be sung by Habs fans.

  3. nova scotia vees says:

    Typical.  Let’s try and dump on Crosby.  Why?  Does it take the sting out of watching our “stars” float around the perimeter of the ice surface, instead of driving to the net and NEVER QUITTING while on the ice…like our great Canadian star Sidney Crosby does?  Oh, let’s cheer for Ovy or the Sedins or Parise or someone other than a Canadian.  Boy do I wish he were a Ca-na-dien…I hope we beat Pittsburgh on the 6th…BUT I also hope Sid keeps the streak alive. 

  4. Chris says:

    You are right that the “trap” was born in North America, but that was back in the Original 6 days.  The trap came back, however, after being popularized in Europe, especially in the Swedish Elite League, which has always used an international ice surface.  So the trap is not necessarily a North American phenomenon.  Swedish hockey coaches eventually moved to the torpedo system to counteract the neutral zone trap, which has been relatively successful.  However the torpedo system relies on the lack of a two-line pass rule and players that can actually pass the puck with some skill.

    As for the reason I gush over a goal like that, it is solely because it was a beautiful pass.  I couldn’t really care less about whether it was possible in the old days.  That was a highly skilled and very heads-up play by Anze Kopitar, and Dustin Brown was equally heads up to see it coming and get to the puck. 

  5. bolder says:

    How big is St.Louis, or Breire, or Giroux? All are scoring and having great seasons! Its all about team concept and playing big. The JM system sucks and always has! The team is soft and plays confused. They don’t hit or finish any checks, with the a exception of a few players. This team has no fire! Get a coach that can move this team into competing consistently!

  6. oshawahabsfan says:

    I wholeheartedly agree, it’s been one of those lines I thought of since Max was called up to join the big club. I feel the problem is Martin wouldn’t let them play as they could, and would bench them for making a single mistake.

  7. krob1000 says:

    There we4re glimpses and a couple of games where that may be true but it is the negative body language, lack of interaction, teammates turning on each other etc that has me most dissapointed and frustrated.  Guys have blank stares and seem to be fed up.  What appeared to be a great team chemistry wise and a full nergy group seems to be fading.  I think Martin deserves credit for making guys a little more responsible defensively…but he has taken it too far.  I think he hs a short half life behind the bench like a Mike KEenan but his polar opposite.  Guys can only take so much hypocritical nitpicking, stifling of creativity and general boredom. 

    I think of the PK benching when Cammi was as resposnible, I think of Hal Gill saying to the media something along the lines of yeah I can see where PK rubs guys the wrong wqay, I think to the tinkering to try and get Gomez going and his immunity, I think of Lapierere quitting at times and then finally being energized in one game only to have Pouliot decide to sulk  and wuit on an icing and he didn’t appear to be paying attention when Laps made a great pas to him, Gorges looking defeated, losing Markov,Eller consistently being our hardest worker and never gettinga ny time. Moen doing nothing all year except getting top line minutes? Spacek being echl calibre for a montha nd never sitting out, OB having been int he doghouse and now succeeding elsewhere…which is not an uncommon trend in recent years….and don’t think that goes unnoticed….more icetime, means better stats, means more money and ultimately like it or not this is a career and guys continously being limited in their opportunites while old overpaid guys already earning tehir big coin get all of the minutes with no accountability breeds hostility.

    I don’t think it is knee jerk to see that things are crumbling yet the talent pool is there for the most part …I think it is reasonable to really start examining whether or not Martin has anythig left to offer this club.  He has instilled a defensive mindset, he has shown players that defense can bring about success…but he has too little focus on personalities, confidence, offense, chemistry and ultiamtely it appears he just plain does not respect younger players trying to pave their career paths.  These guys will buy a ticket out of town, play in a less competitive environment , get better minutes, pad their stats and double their career incomes.  You thinkt hat doesn;t matter? We always seem to pick on guys in contract years it seems to….thinkt aht goes unnoticed…while they watch Gomez rake in 8 million for less production or Hammer make 5.5 and go unpunished for countless turnovers …they make one mistake and it’s ass splinter time? 

    Ia msure people will say…well we don’t want players who can;t handle it, blah, blah, blah…who the hell can handle it? Patrick Friggin Roy left, Koivu left, Robinson finished elsewhwere, Lafleur finished elsewhere, Chelios ….. this isn’t a six team league with owners controlling everything…star players are as wealthy as owners…heck they become owners….kids make millions and coaches lament it.  Who was the last Habs to play his whole career as a Hab (a career worth noting). Where is the teams allegiance to it’s players, where is the coaches protecting of his players (other than vets who really aren;t the ones in need of protection).  I think this is all very real and I fully admit I know no more ahtn anyone on here but this is what appears to be happening from where I stand.  I see ag uy like Tomas Plekanec getting frustrated and I have to wonder….from an outsiders perswpective he seems to be about the most professional payer not named Koivu this team has had in the last decade….when I see them going berserk (as I saw sometimes with Koivu) it tells me there is something very serious going on…whatever it is it needs to be addressed.  Are times like these not times where coaches coach? where Gm’s manage and where leaders lead?  I am not a believer that a C on jersey really means all that much or even an A, but when the veterans are making mistakes and they see the kids they are mentoring getting punished for lesser errors does one not stand up and say something is wrong..where is their accountability. Everyone mocked Pleks for his “little girl” comment…..he did not pass the blame on, he did not give up he looked in the mirror, didn’t like what he saw and acted. 

    Carey PRice had one of the most difficult seasons I have ever witnessed in any sport last year……and he has been unflappable this year.  However, the difference between him and Subban, Eller, Pouliot, Kostitsyn and whoever else has been doghoused is that he was replaced by a player who was outplaying him….therefore everyone benefitted…who benefits from Pk sitting? PK? well even if that is true and it comes att he expense of theteam is it right? I would say no.  Who benefits from vets playing despite underperforming? who benefits from a hypocritical system? Ultimately it comes down to this…win and everyone is happy…..that simple…aice the best lineup game in and game out. Our vets and highest paid players need to perform…if they perform tgen the kids and second tier benefit too…but it also works the other way…if the kids are playing well then the vets benefit…..but who benefits with the way things are going right now?

    Martin needs to rexamine his philosophy for a while IMO…..he did what he needed …he made us a team…..but he is also dismantling the teamy atmosphere he worked so hard to create.   Someone needs to coach the coach.  The Vets need to be the ones to sharpen op, the youngsters need to play through msitakes, the dirty players have to play dirty, the Pk’s need to be PK, the Gill’s need to be Gill’s, Cammi and Gio need to find twine.  The roles have to be remphasized and we have a talented team.  The coach needs to let talent be talent, let them play trhemselves out of this funk…they are already gripping their sticks and fanning on open nets, starting to go solo, avoiding dirty areas and trying to create something out of nothing the wrong way…on the outside……thhis is all play of players without confidence.  This has to be addressed….and if ever their was a role for BOb Gainey int his organizaton in his advisory capacity…because I don;t know if Gautheir carries the clout..this is the time for it. To hell with old school crap about mistakes,etc….you can’t play favourites on a team … the favourites will play themselves and the team will sort things out itself….a coach is a guide…he is not a magician, he is not a player.  he can work on skills in practice, he can analyze like crazy…but hey we can do that one….more than anything he needs to create a positive environment, a tough envirnoment, a fair environment…a team environment where everyone is accountable but everyone is also respected as individuals, everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses….and everyone has areas they can improve…but the handling of this team as of late from the outside appears disastrous and needs to be revisisted.

    I don’t absolve the players…not by any stretch…instead I point fingers at diff’t players…the ones who should be able to handle the fingerpointing, the ones are our core and the ones who are supposed to be leading the ones who have been there and done that…to me it is they who are letting us down.  I point the finger at Martin for not standing up to these guys.  i point the finger at some of the young guys for sulking…some of it, much of it in fact I beleive perhaps warrants it almost…but that doesn;t meant hey quite on their other teammates.  Do you bench the vets? I don’t really think so now but maybe we should have a while back?we shold have a while back though….Spacek, Gomez, Hammer, Cammi, Gio, Gill and even Gorges all had brutal stretches.  Why a guy ike SDpacek or Hammer or Gill wasn’t sat…I will never know? That would earned respect in the room…taht would have created a sense of acountability….that would have showed the team that they are a family and that stepchildren don’t get treated differently….but no…that did not happen. It needs to….now.

    Carey Price, Subban, Pleks, Eller, Darche,Gorges (although I think he should have pulled himself as he was obviously hurt) …to met hese are the only  guys who I have not seen let up this year….they have all made mistakes but to me they all have brought an honest effort every single night.  gomez, Gio (less than the others in this group), Cammi, Ak(he was shuffled when palying well and I thinkwe toyed with him….but his history speaks for itself..he can be a game changer when he wants to) ..all have had visible stretches of sub par play that appears to be effort realted…on the back end Spacek, Hammer and Gill have been brutal at times…long times…and never had any role reduction, Weber tries ahrd but plays afraid to make a mistake and like he really doesn;t want to ride a bus again…he is fanninf on onetimers, missig the net and not even doing the things he does well well of late…confidence, PK has been our best dman all year IMO…up until his “lesson” since then he too seems to be playing diff’t, Picard is trying hard and is a botto pairing/fringe guy…no real complaints there ..he is what he is. Your Pouliot’s and Lapierre’s…guys who in their own minds feel they are better players and have at times earned top 6 mintues…and other times get nailed to the bench…..with them I see the same thing I saw with OB , guys who were working hard and not getting results…to me that is excusable…..then thye get put in Micahel Ryder land and are expected to “work themselves back ioto the lineup” from an even more difficult position. Were they wroking hard to begin with and made a few mistakes …you know ike humans…or did tehy lose their spots for lack of effort…that si where I see things diff’tly… 

    Ok…I have to stop…my hands hurt…but I have mroe venting to do later so those with “longpostaphobia” consider yourselves warned.

     

     

     

     

  8. geo_habsgo says:

    Great post..nothing to add to it really but good post!

  9. HardHabits says:

    I can’t understand how you guys can gush over a goal that only a few years ago would’ve been off-side.

    Removing the red line wasn’t the move that should’ve been done IMO. The ice surfaces should have been made bigger instead if they wanted more offense and a quicker game.

    The smaller ice surfaces are the reason why the North American game has always been more physical. The trap was born in North America as well.

    It’s not like they’re filling arenas anyways. Take away some seats. Make the ice bigger. Bring back the red line.

  10. saskhabfan says:

    If you want to know what one of the reasons are, go to the nhloa website and check out the profiles of the leagues ref’s. Nearly half of the leagues refs are from southern ontario. So on some or even maybe most nights, the leafs will either have one or two refs doing games that live in the gta. Could you imagine the uproar from toronto if 15 or 16 of the leagues refs were from quebec and the habs were spending as much time on the PP as the leafs do?

     

     

     

     

    I think I know more than most about hockey and believe my opinions are almost always reasonable and thought out.-manapart.

  11. Man Dingga says:

    I don’t know why JM won’t go back to what was winning us games.

    1st Line: AK46/Plecs/Cammi

    2nd Line: Gionta/Gomez/MaxPac

    3rd Line: Benny/Halpern/Darche

    4th Line: don’t care 

    These are the lines that play well together, quit messing the lines up for love of god!

  12. krob1000 says:

    We need “the legion of bloom” …a bunch of big ass young players with potential out the ying yang to create some energy….How about  Eller-Pacioretty-Pouliot for a line.  Theya re all big, fast and skilled and might feed off each others energy.  Pleks-Cammi-Ak is left alone as they have been our most consistent line all year, put Darche with Gio and Gomer…now that Gomez appears willing to occasionally shoot at the net and Gio always does…maybe having Darche working hard and griding away in front will work? Laps-Halpern-Moen…sounds like a real nasty line to play against. I astill believe the key to success on any team in todays NHL is the young guys, the guys one their first or second contracts and provide great dollar/production value….they have to be solid contributors to succeed. A line of Eller-Pacioretty and Pouliot could be something really, really fun.  A line of size and talent in all three spots? when was the last time Montreal had that? The line may not see immediate success but if given some time I think they would be great at susttaining pressure in the ozone and would create havoc ont he forecheck and in front of the net as all three have shown a willingness to go to dirty areas.

  13. patience is a virtue says:

    I don’t get it.  We hit a slump, as almost every opponent has or will, and all of the sudden we are a bubble team predicted to finish 6-10th again?  Hopeless without Markov – yeah, we’ve heard that one before.  JM is losing the room – how the heck could we know that?!  The System sucks – even though it is still limiting opponents shot totals and helping us beat tough teams like Boston, mid-slump.  And our Habs are accused of lacking heart!!!?  Gimme a break.  Their hearts are breaking losing like this.  But it is bound to happen and I think it will make them stronger.  Have you learned nothing about this team?!  

    I get that the moan and groaners relish in such moments and will pollute the threads with their dire predictions (where’s Retromikey?).  The rest of you should be ashamed of yourselves!  LOL   

    There are a dozen reasons for optimism right now.  The four most important, in my view:

    1) PRICE: Carey played very well last night – I was starting to get a little worried

    2) PICK US UPS: The Wiz will bring much needed grit, puck movement, a shot, plus, his relatively affordable cap hit leaves Markovless-cap-room for one more rental.  I’m hoping that the out-of-favour captain Langenbrunner will be reunited with G&G in short order.  Who else would be willing to give up a quality top six winger at this point besides NJ?

    3) UP AND COMERS: Despite all the whining, I think JM is handling PK, Eller and Patches perfectly.  Six weeks ago we were worried about Eller being on in clutch moments.  No longer.  PK’s ego is being tamed by coaches and players alike (his game will follow). Patches is finally ready – we hope!

    4) HEALTHY HAB FORWARDS: Thank goodness. 

    Now, let’s kick this thing back into division leading gear boys.  The next 2 games are huge, because they’ll set the tone for the following 7 very tough matches.

     

  14. Habnofear says:

    It’s called having balance …Habs have some big players but they play small AND THERE ARE ONLY TWO FIGHTERS,(Moen and Waz) Laps,Cammi,Gill and Subban get a pass from me.

  15. MathMan says:

    You know me. My assessment is not blind optimism; it is founded in statistics and prior experiences with teams in the same situation, such as this year’s Capitals, actually.

    The ever-helpful Olivier should cheer you up:

    http://enattendantlesnordiques.blogspot.com/2010/12/dehors-decembre.html

  16. Bill says:

    I don’t agree with your assessment, but I love the optimism! Hope you are right. Good post!

  17. MathMan says:

    The Habs just aren’t a bubble type team this year. They’re much too good for that.

    In the playoffs, the fact that they were winning blinded us to the underlying picture: the Habs were terrible. They got dominated every game, out-chanced, out-shot, out-everythinged, the Zamboni barely had to pass in the opposing zone, and fantasies of the Habs having a sound defensive game that kept shots to the outside were easily dispelled by a glance by the shot chart. The ECF finish masked the fact that the Habs were a bad club.

    Likewise, this slump should not blind us to the underlying picture — the Habs are outplaying but being unlucky, unlike previous seasons in which they were genuinely bad. They’ve been outshooting, outchancing, and outplaying their opposition, sometimes badly, and whether you look at the length of the game or the game when the score is tied doesn’t matter — the Habs have been served the same sort of medicine they offered the Caps and the Pens during the playoffs. And like the Habs’ playoff run, stories are made to explain it, stories that don’t really match up to reality.

    My expectations at the beginning of the season were that they would miss the playoffs, based on their abysmal play in 2009-2010 and worse showing in the playoffs (even if they lucked to a 9-10 record, they were getting dominated routinely). How surprised I was to see them completely turn their game around and become a strong 5-on-5 club! As that lasted for 10, 20, 30 games I was forced to redo my expectations.

    They haven’t been readjusted since then: I expect the Habs to end up with 100 points, possibly more, and enter the playoffs in 3rd place — they are in a weak division and I believe they are better than all the teams in it, including Boston.

    The slump is ugly on the scoreboard, but it’s a percentages slump, not a level of play slump like we’re used to. The underlying numbers are all fantastic, and those numbers have been shown to be far more predictive than the final scores of games, which in a low-scoring game like hockey are far too vulnerable to the vargraries of bounces. The Habs will get out of this and then, we’ll realize that they’re really very good, 

     

  18. Danno says:

    Speaking of breakfast, I hope the Habs don’t wind up at this diner the way they are playing lately…

     

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

  19. Deano says:

    This is always a hard question.  Given that the term is over used by everyone (including me), let’s restrict the number of people who use the term to two (Bob McKenzie and Pierre McGuire).  The only two players I have heard them use the term “Real Deal” about are:

    Carey Price and PK Subban

    All the rest have been “prospects” to them.  Even Eller is not a favourite of Pierre’s … yet.

     

  20. New says:

    Pretty much agree. The D have nowhere to go with the puck coming out. The positive thing is that a team that plays well short handed can be dominant if the forwards decide to smarten up. Guys like Lapierre may be fan favorites but are hurting the team. Gomez’ lazy coast to the bench doesn’t reflect on a bad line change but on his lack of involvement.

    I think the addition of the Wiz will help a bit. It settles one area of concern. I suspect the real issue is a kick*** leader, and an agitator who can back up his play and doesn’t take stupid penalties.

    Too many small guys playing small. The thing I am happiest about I suppose is that the fans are not forced to read easy columns about how this or that opposing goalie is incredible. Price has put that to rest at least.

    I like the juniors as well. They are playing for something. Win or lose it means something to them. But if the National team played 82 games a year for Montreal I suspect they’d put their earbuds in and coast a bit too.

  21. bolder says:

    All people are different yes. What I’m saying is the all players can play hard if they really want to. Its all about work ethic and passion. Giroux scores many goals with individual efforts and going to the dirty areas to earn goals. The skilled players for the habs seem confused on what they are suppose to do. They play soft! JM is dull, and the team is playing dull!

  22. PrimeTime says:

    It sure was entertaing watching my team play some darn good hockey in Oct and Nov. Now, I find it difficult to watch a full game….I think I have turned off more than not the past 2 weeks. Fans cried for MaxPac and got ‘em but he alone wasn’t the answer but sure is a welcomed addition. When was the last time we won a game with PK in the line up?? I’m not blaming him or do I think it is a coincidence but why all the hype for this guy……because he has a good personality and is fan friendly?? I’m really hoping this Wiz guy can jump start this team for a couple of better played games in Florida with some much needed help on D and the PP. I only care about winning and not the lack of goals we score…….2-1 games are fine with me. But not having a single win after NOT scoring the 1st is very very worrisome and partially explains my recent motivation problem not to watch to the end.

  23. 1010 says:

    You seem to be implying that penalties outnumbering powerplays is some new problem that coincides with their play of late. You’re wrong JayM. They were getting the short end of the stick long before this slump. Check the stats.

    Nova Sotia is right. Look at the laffs. Cleanest team in the league – apparently.

     

     GO HABS…

  24. Deano says:

    Agree … the time to panic is when we are 6 moints up on the Laffs and they have 3 games in hand.

  25. Ronin says:

    Fan definitely is short for fanatic. 

    Guys (and gals), lighten up.  Every team goes through streaks and we are on a bad one.  Better now than the last 5 games of the season.  This team is no worse or better now than they were a month ago…….actually with the Wiz on board they are probably better.  We’ve got a proven top 4 dman with a bit of mean streak (when is the last time we could say that) and a goaltender who is still playing excellent hockey.

    The offence is a problem, but Wiz will help the power play and scorers are streaky….and they are all streaking off right now….we’ll get back on track and everyone will be smelling the cup……..DON’T, stay on an even keel and be happy………

    OR

    Watch the world juniors, the Canadians are on fire and Louie Leblanc is the REAL DEAL (anyone see that shortie yesterday….WOW!).

    All the best….know I don’t post much but I read you all and wish you a Happy Holidays!

    Ronin

  26. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    Brilliant BOONE……”The only people this team scares are its fans.”

    anybody watch the Juniors??, I see 3 lethal elements to their game plan:SPEED/SKILL/HITS

    and the hitting is so brutal and dangerous, it totally puts the other teams in fear, or at the least knocks them off their game, doesn’t allow them to be free flowing and creative when 200+lbs of power is crashing at you.

    i’ve said it a million times, without the POWER element you are a mediocre team…such we are.

    We have SPEED! we have SKILL!, we have NO POWER, or any hint of depth in power….and i’m not talking about Torontos Colton Orr type of power…

    I love the Wiesnewski pickup, good Speed/Skill/Power player, will standout.. we need more of the same.

    1:The N.A.G.S. (North American Grit Speed) Youth Movement will bring us respect. 2: The NHL-REF-SYNDICATE will do everything in its power to deny us the cup. 3. ..call up WHITE/SHULTZ/PAX now.

  27. 24 Cups says:

    Further proof that the kid still can’t keep up with the wily old vet:-)

  28. 24 Cups says:

    Exactly, Bill.  From a glass half full perspective, two victories in Florida keeps us in the race to win our division.

    Martin faces a tough decision in terms of which game to give to Auld.  Tampa is your immediate foe when it comes to the playoff race so you want to go with your best.  On the other hand, in terms of resting Price, the Panthers game makes more sense when it comes to him starting.

  29. CHsam says:

    WE BOUT TO GET DRUNK OFF PANCAKES

  30. Chris says:

    Hockey is usually a timing game, but this one takes the cake.  That pass had to be a perfect weight…too heavy and the goalie gets it, too light and it is a suicide pass.

    And give Dustin Brown full credit to working his tail off and having the hands to finish that off.  Beautiful play all around.

  31. habs-hampton says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. I think JM has put a great system in place, but I question his skills as a bench coach. I would love to see Muller take over for games. I think the guy behind the bench needs to show some passion. I also wonder about his lineup decisions, particiularly with PK. I think he is on the verge of losing the room.

  32. Chris says:

    I just remembered that it was $6 M and came back to fix it.  :)  Thanks for the correction!

  33. 24 Cups says:

    Chris – I saw that play and marveled at the beauty of it all.  It’s why we all love the game.

    The dark side of me also wondered what would have happened if some NHL slug had blindsided either of the participants.  It’s why we all worry about the game.

  34. Bill says:

    Back to back wins in FLA would go a long way to salvaging this trip. However unlikely it may seem. Anyway, to look on the bright side, what’s actually happening is that the Habs are reaping the rewards of Carey Price’s hot start. All those wins in the first quarter put the Habs well beyond where they realistically should have been: now they’re in a rough patch and things are evening out. Thank goodness they started where they did! If they’d been the bubble team we expected and then dropped 6 of 8, they’d be sinking down to Maple Leaf levels right now.

  35. 24 Cups says:

    J.T.’s best lines of the night.

    “Habs are getting killed by a guy named Beagle. Poetic justice for a team playing like a bunch of dogs”.

    “Gomez is just terrible. He’s as bad as year-old eggnog”.

  36. the Maritimer says:

    There is no one on this team with enough talent and skill to lead them, or make them an upper echelon franchise. No Richard, Beliveau or Lafleur or even a modern day equivilent like Crosby. Those types of players/personalities can make the people around them better. They are pretty much a team of ‘B’ players. If they could ever acquire an ‘A’ type player things may change.

    Jarome Iginla was such a player but, at age 35 not now. Nor Lecavalier.

    The Canadiens won’t tank nor would I advocate it. It may occur naturally though due to lack of talent or heart or injuries.

    I don’t think Jacques Martin is going anywhere as yet. It’s usually year 3 when the axe falls. 

  37. Chris says:

    Not sure if it’s already been posted, but wow…check out this beautiful pass by Anze Kopitar to set up Dustin Brown for a goal.  Got to agree (and this is a rare event for me with) with Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshnyski…that has to be one of this year’s best goals.

  38. CHsam says:

    Although a win would be nice, i’m betting Guy Boucher is going to have his boys running circles around The System

  39. MikeMcLaren says:

    I have a bright side / prediction.

    January 6th:  The Canadiens end Sidney Crosby’s point streak.  You heard it here first!

    /\\ike
    GO HABS GO!

  40. Chris says:

    One of the truly amazing things for me is that game after game, I read these “About Last Night” columns to see how the game went (sadly, my work situation has my life so unsettled that I find it difficult to watch many games this season).

    What jumps out at me after most of these losses is how very little mention Mike Cammalleri receives after the losses.  This is a guy that is paid $5 million per year to be the team’s one true sniper…he brings nothing else to the table.  He is not a playmaker, he is not a physical presence and he is perhaps the team’s worst defensive forward.

    Interestingly, he’s getting his points (3 G and 5 A in the last nine games, where the Habs have gone 2-7-0).  At least from appearances, they are Dany Heatley points.  Cammalleri has been invisible other than on the scoresheet.

  41. 24 Cups says:

    Chris – It’s 6M and the expectation is that this guy would score 40 goals (knowing full well that he has always run hot and cold).  His game went to hell as soon as they made Gionta captain.  Come to thing of it, so did Gionta’s.

  42. Max_a_million says:

     

    Max Pac has been good, a big difference maker.  Unfortunately the slump is deep right now, he will be fine.  

  43. geo_habsgo says:

    I agree on all points except for Max-Pac. I think that he hasn’t lost any offensive zip. There were many times last night that I saw him parked comfortably in front of the net. He is the biggest forward on his line so it is his job to throw his body around and make space for Gomez and Gionta. I think its more that the fact that he hasn’t had many opportunities these last few games because of the way the team has been playing more than anything else. I really think his numbers would be different if he was up here with us during our October-November good times. Only time will tell I guess.

  44. Max_a_million says:

    I don’t think AK played badly yesterday, and I have nothing personally against him.  I wish that JM could motivate him, and I don’t think JM is going anywhere.

    Where the rubber hits the road is that someone who is paid to score needs to score.  He is paid to score … 

  45. mjames says:

    It is amazing. After every game we hear the same old refrain. Get rid of AK. He has no heart. He doesn’t back-check. He doesn’t go to the net. If you watch the game he is the one that creates the chances for the Pleks line. If you watched the game last night it was the Pleks line that created any chances for us. You do not get rid of one of the players that exhibits some modest offensive skill.

    I saw several players in front of the net last night. I saw AK, Cammy, Pouliot, Darche and others. Unfortunately either there were no rebounds or the puck bounced away. I did notice a tendency to shoot from the wing as soon as we cross the blue line. Maybe we should take another step before we shoot. That might give those forwards that go to net a chance at a deflection. I saw Cammy have an opening in the period and he shot to soon. That was one of our best chances. Incidentally fans it was AK who made the pass.  

    I have watched Max Pac since his call up. I really believe he is losing the offensive zip he had when he played in Hamilton. He is preoccupied with hitting and finishing checks.  He is turning into a Moen type player. I would like to know why simply every player we bring in loses their offensive skill.  I think we and the coach are all too preoccupied with this playing without the puck.  It is possible this team is too defensive minded?

     

    mjames

  46. HardHabits says:

    What’s next? Putting the net up on a little pole and removing the goal-tender!!

    Back in the day there was also more physical contact which rendered the trap less effective. The trap has many surrogate fathers, one being that teams realizing their offensive liabilities resorted to playing stingy because of it. It’s offensive miserliness born of offensive poverty. The trap in North America also became a symptom of the clutch and grab era which was created with the removal of fighting and the wearing of visors. Hahahaha!!! I know that sounds Don Cheryish but in a way it’s true.

    Look at any old plays from previous eras, especially the Habs of the 70’s, and you see nice zone entries. The red line removal has made these aerial passes become part of the game. I’ve seen much more beautiful plays that are works of team entry, like the classic tic-tac-toe play. These aerial dumps are just extensions of the gimmickery that has permeated the modern game.

  47. Graves says:

    I really hate to say it, but in terms of play on the ice, Cammalleri is essentially a slightly more expensive version of Phil Kessel. They both have the ability to score goals in bunches and absolutely break open a game, but they’re also both prone to going completely MIA over long periods of time. When they’re hot (think Cammy in the playoffs last year), they’re worth their weight in gold. When they’re cold, they’ll make you want to tear your hair out in frustration. Thankfully, the Habs didn’t give up two firsts and a second for Cammalleri…

  48. Bill says:

    The problem with comparisons is that it’s just hard to compare people, who are all different in crucial ways. The difference with St. Louis is not who he plays with, IMO, but the way he plays: balls out all the time. He’s fearless and will not be denied. That is ‘fire in the belly’, and it would let him produce regardless of whom he is skating with. There is nobody on the Habs you could compare to a player like St. Louis, because he is twice as determined and twice as good as any of them. Not knocking the Habs, per se … just giving St. Louis his props.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  49. The Cat says:

    I think theres many things wrong with the habs. The team just aint good at the little things that make a team a ‘solid team’. Bad at faceoffs, bad at forechecking, bad at one on one battles, and bad at even strength.

    I dont care for JM: for a team thats so good at killing penalties, he shouldnt worry and preach about penalties all the f&*(&^ time. And I got to repeat what Molinaro said on L’Antichambre:’ I dont know what goes on in the dressing room, if JM is a good motivator or not, but Ill believe it when I see it. ‘

    Someone said dont criticize JM without offering an alternative, well my choice would be TED NOLAN. If theres a guy thats good at getting players off their arses -its him.

    [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

  50. The Teacher says:

    Cue a Tommy Rebuttal lol.

  51. RJ says:

    More line guggling is needed. After all, that seems to be JM’s strength. Oh, and disciplining players who do not play his SYSTEM. Wonder if he would have benched Bobby Orr for taking chances and forsaking the SYSTEM. 

    “My face is my mask,” Gump Worsley

  52. twilighthours says:

    He does that – with pouliot, kost, etc. Do you like the results? I dont.

  53. smiler2729 says:

    Losing close ones wouldn’t be so bad if the Habs could just HIT THE F***ING NET!

    How many times on a scoring chance or a Power Play does their shot completely MISS THE MARK??

    I’d rather they hit the goalie square in the chest cuz you never know going in there, if a deflection or a rebound might happen but SHOOTING WIDE is BRUTAL, half the time, the pucks careens around the boards and out of the zone!

    WTF! HIT THE NET!!!!! PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HIT THE NET!!!

  54. geo_habsgo says:

    This team just doesn’t have the ability to come back from a deficit like they did when they played under Carbo a few years back. Now I’m not saying he was a better coach than JM, but his system, if you can call it that, was all based on freewheeling hockey meant to capitalize on the teams speed. This allowed some flashiness and creativity when it was necessary and that was what often saved us when the going got tough. The only knock on his “system” was that it allowed for too much individual play which probably hurt team morale.

    It seems that in signing Martin the teams style has completely shifted. No creativity, no flash, no individuals. Teamwork, simplicity, defence. His system can work too but its clear that this team needs to meet somewhere in the middle. They went from one extreem in Carbo to another in Martin.

    What is the identity of this team? That’s a question we have been asking ourselves for nearly twenty years.

  55. 24 Cups says:

    The Habs top five forwards are sucking the air out of the team right now.  They earn the most money, get the most ice time and receive the most favourable press clippings.  They’re not as bad as they look at this point in time, but they never have been as good as most posters on this site believe them to be.

    The fact that four of them are signed long term means that what you see is what you get for the next few years.

  56. Chris says:

    Agree completely, Steve.  And not only are out Big 4 up front signed for another 3 seasons, they are signed to contracts that collectively make them one of the most expensive groups of forwards in the NHL.  That is mind-boggling given their mediocre (at best) production rate.

    This is the peril of going fishing in the UFA market to repair a poor drafting and scouting department.  You overpay significantly for guys who are often on the wrong side of their career peak.

  57. Max_a_million says:

    I want Iginia.  Give them Benny, AK, Webber, and a 1st round draft pick.  I want Iginla, give Calgary an out.

     

    “I need player who hate to lose” D. Irvin

  58. geo_habsgo says:

    Okay, but then who takes their places in the lineup? Who steps up? 

  59. Deano says:

    I like your thoughts about Iginla, but this trade will not happen.  Suter might been stupid enough to make a trade like this, but most GMs would not.  You can not get a top line center for:

    1) A 3rd line clueless winger.

    2) A talented winger with an power switch stuck in the off position.

    3) A prospect D man

    4) and a draft pick that could be in the mid to late 1st rounds.

     

     

  60. Max_a_million says:

    Webber is the 8th defenceman right now, no replacement needed

    You replace Benny and AK with Iginla and I would be in favor to calling up a Desharnais who seems to make people around him score.  Can Gomez be moved to a wing … it would be nice to win some faceoffs.  Even just a few.

    The arguments against Desharnais sound like arguments against St. Louis no?

  61. geo_habsgo says:

    Fair enough. That actually seems to work out a bit and I think everyone here agrees that Iginla would be a welcome addition to the team. The trade is probably very doable as well even though I would be hesitant to part with AK at this moment and I don’t know why lol. But I would be in favour of calling up Desharnais. I wanna see what he can do.

  62. Max_a_million says:

    Other guys who couldn’t cut it on D in Montreal:

    Hainsey, Robidas, Streit …

  63. geo_habsgo says:

    It’s a deep draft this year? lol :p

  64. Deano says:

    If only Sutur was still there … he might fall for it.

    ;)

  65. Exit716 says:

    This team looks as rudderless as some of those rotten ones that Koivu captained.

     


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