About last night … (with audio)


POSTGAME AUDIO: Erik Cole | Mike Cammalleri | Lars Eller | Tomas Plekanec | Carey Price | Jacques Martin

Shall we bask in the warm afterglow of an important and impressive win?
Or should we plunge right into the $8 million question.

What will your suddenly successful Montreal Canadiens do when Scott Gomez is ready to return?

Who sits?

Or does Jacques Martin make the team’s highest-salaried Canadien a healthy (and wealthy) scratch?

And farther down the road, what happens when Andrei Markov is ready?

The decision does not have to be made immediately. Gomez still isn’t skating with his teammates, and a lot can happen before he’s cleared to play.

Like some more losses … possibly starting as soon as Saturday night against Sean Avery, Ryan McDonagh and the current version of team that signed Gomez to that ridiculous contract.

For now, however, the Canadiens have fashioned a winning streak on the basis of four stable forward lines and three highly capable defence pairings.

Oh, also a goaltender who made 33 saves in Ottawa.

Jacques Martin had hinted Peter Budaj, who has a winning lifetime record against the Rangers, might get the start in New York.

But Carey Price has been lights-out since the winning streak began, with a lot of help from his teammates.

The Canadiens blocked 19 shots – 10 more than the Senators. Hal Gill and P.K. Subban blocked three each, and 11 other Canadiens got into the self-sacrificial act.

And which pairing was on the ice with Josh Gorges in the penalty box and six Senators pressing for the equalizer?

Jaro Spacek and Yannick Weber. They have emerged as a dependable pairing, with Spatcho playing the left side he favours and Weber confounding the pundits – myself included – who thought he was too small and soft to play D in the NHL.

Weber is a team-best plus-7.  He’s on the power-play, he’s killing penalties and he’s making fewer mistakes than P.K. Subban.

He’s also part of a team defence system that is allowing very few odd-man rushes. That’s because the D is making few dangerous forays into the offensive zone. Raphael Diaz was caught on the Ottawa goal, but that was mainly because Mike Cammalleri’s pass led him astray.

The D can hang back because the Canadiens are getting offensive-zone pressure from all four forward lines. And that’s what threatens to create a Gomez problem.

Right now, the $8-million man sits fifth on the depth chart of Canadiens centres.

Tomas Plekanec is number one and Lars Eller is number two with a bullet. David Desharnais is a close third, and Petteri Nokelainen is contributing double-digit minutes and killing penalties.

What’s particularly impressive is how well the centres, particularly the top three, are meshing with their wingers.

Eller is a revelation (who the hell needs training camp?) who excels in all three zones. Travis Moen does the digging, and Andrei Kostitsyn  while feeding sweet passes to Andrei Kostitsyn is off to an excellent season start. AK46 has scored two of the Canadiens’ five game-winning goals, and his total of four doubles Brian Gionta.

On L’Antichambre, Gaston Therrien’s chalk talk showed the line’s forechecking prowess. Moen and Eller harassed the Ottawa D, which finally managed to get the puck up the boards to where AK46 laid a lick on the Senator at the blueline. Lovely stuff.

Ottawa coughed the puck up 14 times to only five giveaways by the Canadiens. That speaks to the kind of energy, aggressiveness  and compete level we’ve seen during the winning streak.

The Canadiens’ solid effort is also a tribute to the prep work Martin and the two Randys were able to accomplish during three days of practice preceding the trip to Ottawa. The Canadiens did things correctly, minimized mistakes, benefited from sound execution and positioning and put together the kind of game they needed to win on the road.

Back to depth at centre:

DD benefits from playing with a sniper like Cammalleri and the team’s hottest forward, Erik Cole. In only 13 minutes of ice time, Cole had a goal, three SoG and three hits.

The Plekanec line is getting chances. I thought Max Pacioretty played his best game in a while. But Gionta is snakebit.

With Gomez goal-less since Feb. 5 and Martin Brodeur struggling, maybe we should be feeling sympathy for the Devils.

In the captain’s defence, however, he is still skating, working hard and getting shots. The goals will come.

On to the Apple.


  1. Richrebellion says:

    The habs have been playing solid hockey during their winning streak, I think a major part of this turn around can be attributed to much better defensive play. Since Spacek`s return the habs have only allowed 7 goals in 5 games pretty impressive. Spacek brought a veteran presence and stabilized a young d corp.
    People love to hate on Gomez but he is very talented and with some solid linemates he will do well this year. I think part of Gionta`s problems stem from the fact that he doesn`t have much chemistry with Pleks! Gionta and Gomez are amazing together and while Patches was on their line last year they were the best habs line at the time. On top of that we all know what Pleks and Cammy are capable of together, add a power forward like Cole to that line and its hard to imagine them not producing. Desharnais can centre the 4th line or be a winger on one of the top 3 lines.

  2. Xkhann says:

    Hmmm..what TO DO with Gomez? I like what he brings to this hockey club and still think he can contribute in a limited role. BUT I’m not sayin to go and change up the lines as is very Martin-esque just to bring him back into the line up due to his obese salary. He’s just going to have to wait and out-play someone during practice. Or if someone needs a break he can fill in (if that even happens). But I dont see why not. If he’s making the most, make him more versatile then – use him on the wing. When the Habs last won the Cup, or captain, Guy Carbonneau, played 3rd line center, no? Gio struggling..hey, no problem for me if he’s on the 3rd line. He’d probably outpace most third D pairings anyway. I really like what Nokelainen has brought this hockey club. He’s a solid 4th liner and is the anchor of the forward group. his wingers should be perpetually experimented with and in the case of finding a spot for either Gomez or Gionta to discover themselves let it be there – goes for anyone else amongst the group as well. Can’t wait til White comes back, BOY do I miss his energy out there! Darche is awesome too, and if there was ever anyone who if I was a coach would not be worried to ask to be a healthy scratch once in a while it would be him, and not as a knock against him, but to only make good of his team-first nature. Would Phoenix take Gomez and Gionta and a 2nd for Turris, Doan and a 3rd? Doan gonna be a FA soon anyway and Turris just doesnt want to be there…Gomez n Gio still got a good 3 years in ’em…ya its trading away our captain and a lot of heart, and dont get me wrong I’ve loved Gio the second he arrived in Mtl, but if that was a deal that was available would you do it? Ya we give up the high draft pick just so they’d take on Gomer’s contract, but to get a big center and RW with great leadership in return would be worth it in my estimate…again, if only it was possible!

  3. habsrpast says:

    why should the habs shuffle lines to make room for a player(Gomez) who’s done nothing since the day he arrived in Montreal?
    you EARN a spot! but unfortunately JM gives him all kinds of crazy ice time even tho he sucks!
    no goal scored since Feb 8th, and JM still gives him pp and 1st line duty!

    JM must go!
    what kind of message does that send to players busting their butt and playing great?

    I loathe JM !

    oh and about last night, playing the PASSIVE RESISTANCE style in the entire 3rd period, sitting back trying to protect a lead.
    when will JM learn?

    obviously when the habs lost that playoff game to the bruins last year, because they tried to sit on a 3 goal lead, JM learned NOTHING!
    FIRE JM ! this is not the 1960’s .
    he has no idea how to play in the 2011 era!
    he must go, along with his donkey head GM!

  4. HardHabits says:

    My main observations are the Habs played extremely well as long as they were fore checking. The short-handed goal however changed the allure of the game. The Sens are one of if not the hottest 3rd period teams in the league this year so give them credit. However the Habs decided at one point during the 3rd to go into defensive shell mode. No fore-check. 1 man high in the neutral zone and 4 men back. It was back to old and bad habits for Martin’s team and you can tell Martin was delighted that he was able to play rope-a-dope hockey and watch his team get out with the technical win on points having been saved by the bell because if the Sens had a few extra minutes they would have scored a knock out punch.

    Last night’s game was proof positive that this should be Martin’s last season as head coach. I hate his hockey. This team could be way better than they are in the standings if allowed to play.

    Fire-wagon defense is much more exciting than the System, and more effective.

    • TommyB says:

      Totally agree, HH. That third period was tough to sit through. Why, oh why, would you revert to that style of play when you totally dominated the first two periods, playing an aggressive forecheck/high tempo game? The kicker is, you just knew the Habs would draw a penalty in the dying couple of minutes. Happens all the time. It would have been nice to kill that late penalty with a two goal lead, instead of hanging on for dear life Jacques Martin style.

  5. adamkennelly says:

    why not make this team better? big boy decisions to be made…Gomez needs to be sent down…I would still like this team to get better in the physical dept – we can certainly upgrade on Blunden – who in my mind is no where near the player Neil or Thornton or Prust is….PK is not playing well at all either. Lets be frank – team barely and I mean barely deserved to win the game- which was boring as hell for 2 periods and then we got outplayed…on the bright side..Cole is playing great, Moen looks good and Webber is a very nice surprise…I promise no one will miss Gomez. Trade for for Umberger and Boll..

  6. Habfan10912 says:

    Being one of many here that are quick to criticise our management team you have to admit when they get one right. Mr. Price is special, eh? They got that one right.

  7. JF says:

    It was great to see that there was no rust on the Habs’ game after five days off. They were skating well and the transition game was smooth and effective. I love those short, crisp passes. But it kills me to see them sitting on a one-goal lead through an entire period. Keep attacking, keep forechecking, keep driving to the net. The Senators’ defence is mostly young and likely to make mistakes; another goal would have made the third period easier to watch.

    As far as Gomez is concerned, I don’t see how JM can demote either Eller or Desharnais, both of whom are being more effective at centre than Gomez was. Give him a short stint in Hamilton, then maybe play him on the wing. At any rate, make him earn a spot.

    I love the way Travis Moen is playing right now. I think he was unfairly maligned last year, largely due to being forced to play a role he’s not really equipped for. Since joining the Habs, he’s been one of our hardest workers. The line of Eller, Kostitsyn, and Moen is big and strong, can’t be pushed around, and scores some beautiful goals.

    I was glad to see Weber out at the end. What does this guy have to do to impress? He took a back seat to P.K. last year, but he’s played far better than P.K. this year. He scores important goals, he plays well defensively, he leads the team in +-. If Alexei Emelin is to have a chance anytme soon, I would sit P.K. over either Weber or Diaz.

    • Habfan10912 says:

      JF I couldn’t agree with u more. Weber has improved more then any dman on our team and I think JM notices too which results in Weber getting 20+ plus minutes of ice time a game. And your right on about Moen being more effective when used properly. The same can be said for Darche.

    • Chris says:

      Gomez is a conundrum and I really don’t know what the solution is. He would be fine as a play-making winger in the Alex Tanguay mode, but what line do you put him on? I think the solution would be to re-unite Gomez and Desharnais, who seemed to play well together last season.

      Travis Moen is definitely playing fantastic hockey at the moment, but I don’t think he was particularly unfairly maligned the past two seasons…he quite simply wasn’t anywhere near as effective. It isn’t lost on me that Moen is playing well in a contract year. I can live with Moen’s lack of offence, but I didn’t like the lack of hits or blocked shots from a guy who was supposed to be a defensive forward.

      I like the message sending to Subban, but I doubt that it would happen that way. Weber reminds me a bit of Gorges; when Gorges first showed up, we heard that he was too small and offensively challenged to ever be much more than a 7th defenceman on a good hockey team. Now he is an integral part of the team, while guys like O’Byrne and Carle have been dispatched.

  8. rousseman says:

    It kills me that the leafs are doing so well. But you know what???/ It’s the start of the season and they are bound to start sucking again before we know it. Just like the oilers….they are doing well but it won’t last….ride the high while you can leafers….enjoy it won’t last long.

    • geo_habsgo says:

      I usually think the same way but the Laffs look like a different team this year. They are gelling and playing good hockey two-ways. They certainly don’t look like a team that is going to have a major slump anytime soon. Their players are maturing and the right guys are contributing. We are just going to have to face the facts that the Eastern conference is crazy tight this year and for the foreseeable future.

      Maybe it will push some of the borderline great teams like the Habs to dig a little deeper and take it to the next level.

      • JF says:

        I don’t see the Leafs slumping either. The first few games, I think Kessel was doing most of their scoring, but that’s evened out a bit now. I doubt they can sustain quite the pace they’re on now, but they certainly look like a playoff team. Their weakness is penalty-killing, and we’ll see how Reimer does after the injury. I’m not sold on Gustavsson.

  9. smiler2729 says:

    Right away when I saw Boone’s reference to an $8 million question, I thought he was talking about Carey Price’s RFA status this summer and Pekka Rinne’s new contract setting the bar. I had completely forgot about Beam Me Up Scotty or even AMark for that matter.

    Maybe JM’s luck will continue and a center will get hurt right as Gomez is about to return… Maybe Gomez does the Tonya Harding shuffle and has Pleks’ knee tire-ironed.

    As for Willy Wonky Markov, if Diaz is here to replace him, then the Swiss Ninja Turtle should sit when the new Gord Kluzak returns in a few weeks/a few months/a few years…

    “Geez, I sure wish we were WICKED AWESOME like the Broons and their chowdahhead fans and their backwards baseball caps”

  10. CanadienBoy says:

    Webers deserve credit and PK with is mistakes still got the most ice time at over 21min.. i guess go with the territory

  11. Habs-royalty says:

    8 games in 2 weeks to come. A 5-3 record would bring as back on track. 37-26-7 for clinching. Go Habs Go
    05-05-2 after 12 for 12 , check
    10-08-2 after 20 for 22
    21-16-4 after 41 for 46
    32-23-7 after 62 for 71
    42-31-9 after 82 for 93

  12. ClaytonM says:

    Man, these laffs fans on TSN comments pages are hilarious. I think they post more to stories about Montreal than their own team. Even Sans fans are getting in on the act, saying the refs handed the game to us. Sure, we had 4 penalties to Ottawa’s 2, but the video clearly shows Gonchar didn’t push Max into whoever their goalie is.

    Makes me shake my head and laugh.

    Ken Dryden For NHL Commissioner

  13. Marc10 says:

    Spacek and Moen are really impressing me this year.

    You want your support players to push the rest to strive for a higher level. We’re getting that.

    Big props to our centers too. They are winning their match ups… Something we haven’t been able to say in a long while.

    On Gomer: Send him to Ham for rehab. Once that option is out, don’t put him in unless someone slacks off.

    • geo_habsgo says:

      Good post. I think for Moen and Spacek it is a matter of them finally playing manageable minutes and having clearly defined roles. All it took for Spacek was a move to the left side. I’ve been advocating for that move since he started with the team and I’m glad to see that I’m not a moron for thinking that! :p

      Also, Moen has been a solid player since he joined this team. I think he’s responded to the long leash the team has given him, actually grown a bit in the time he spent as a top-6, and is a more than capable third-liner. If guys like Moen and Spacek can keep up the good work than only good things can happen for this team.

      I never really had too much to say on Gomez because I always had a soft spot for him but if his return means that we have to go back to watching Eller and DD battle for fourth line minutes and stop their crazy development into top-flight top nine players than I don’t want him on the team. Gomez is getting older and his play is depreciating while the other two are still young and their play is only starting to blossom now.

  14. Un Canadien errant says:

    A well-deserved win for the Canadiens tonight, and one that would have been more easily predictable at the start of the season than before puck-drop. Both teams may be on different trajectories though, with the Canadiens waking up from the stupor that took hold at training camp, and the Senators now losing two straight, after a surprisingly strong start. The Senators didn’t look like a dangerous team tonight.

    The constants that the Canadiens need to be there to be successful were present tonight. Carey Price was solid in nets, and handled the puck skillfully, save for that instance when he got caught icing the puck. The defencemen were effective as a group, and the forward lines seem to be clicking.

    The Eller-Moen-Kostitsyn line is a revelation. Lars Eller now seems ready to play, after last season’s apprenticeship, which I thought might have been better served in Hamilton playing first-line minutes. The long minutes spent on the bench seem to have been put to good use, he used them as motivation to play with inspiration in the playoffs, and for a good summer of physical conditioning and shoulder rehab. It’s noteworthy that he also missed all of training camp, but he now seems to be regaining his timing.

    Travis Moen took a few barbs from fans last season, but most understood that he was miscast as a powerplay guy and first-liner. Most expected him to assume a grinding role as a fourth-liner this season, but he has shown surprising touch and the customary heart on the Eller line. On a team like the Canadiens, with no clear offensive stars like Steve Stamkos or Sidney Crosby, so-called secondary-scoring is crucial to the Canadiens’ success. We hope Travis can continue on the productive streak he is on.

    Canadiens fans are divided into many factions: the Fire Jacques Martin crowd vs. the Chill-Out crew; the former Halak-Price controversy; the anti-Gomez vs. the homicidally-anti-Gomez feud. Andrei Kostitsyn has been a target for years now, with some accepting him for what he is, which is a pure scorer and effective passer who can be a 25 goal 50 point winger who can throw a good bodycheck when called upon. Others are infuriated by his apparent lack of effort, his coasting on the ice and his frequent brain cramps. Both sides of the debate amassed ammunition tonight.

    Andrei scored a goal on a beautiful pass by Lars Eller, a goal which might have seemed easy, but which was only possible because he drove to the net and provided Lars with an easy set-up opportunity. Andrei was also singled out for plaudits by Gaston Therrien on L’Antichambre, who showed a sequence where Mr. Eller and Moen were both forechecking, and ably backed by Mr. Kostitsyn who was properly positioned and checked his man effectively.

    I have to pick at warts though, and couldn’t help notice Andrei in the first period, once again gaining possession of the puck behind the goal line in the offensive zone, then skating softly toward the blue line, where he caused a turnover. He has made that soft, low-probability-of-success play twice before this season, once in Game 9 against Philadelphia where it was noted and lowlighted by Ray Ferraro on TSN. In this instance, the Sens were in a box as if they were killing a penalty, and had a fifth skater peeled out of the frame to take a position in front of the net. Andrei was indecisive and dragged two checkers with him towards Josh Gorges, and then handed him the puck. Of course, Josh lost it, and this set up Jason Spezza for the scoring opportunity where he crashed into Carey Price. Andrei gains back half a point by at least having positioned himself to back up Josh, but then loses another quarter-point in my, and probably Mr. Martin’s, notebook for his poor attempt at bodychecking, which Mr. Spezza deked out of.

    All in all, a good game for Andrei, but he needs support by the coaching staff to stop this negative pattern of behavior. They need to show him this on video, and practice this situation with him. He needs to take a page from Erik Cole’s book and reverse his direction, drive toward the net while buttonhooking the defender, or at least just dump the puck back behind the net for another cycle.

    Another player I’ve been noticing who’s been making mistakes is PK Subban. He has calmed down quite a bit since his ragged start to the season, but he still is trying to do too much. Tonight, he took two penalties that were unnecessary. The first tripping call he took was due to him being too aggressive in the neutral zone, trying to get a puck without anyone backing him up, which meant he had to stick his leg out to prevent a breakaway. His slashing penalty was also preventable. While he was being aggressive and fighting for the puck, which is laudable, he needs to use that gym strength of his and drive opponents off the puck, instead of hacking at their sticks, an easy, automatic call for referees these days.

    Finally, other fans and posters noticed Erik Cole squirting water from a bottle for Carey Price during the postgame handshakes. I’m as puzzled as everyone else about that. I see it happen regularly now on football sidelines, and I wonder why grown men need someone else to give them a swig of water. It seems awkward, like having your mom wipe your nose for you as you approach teendom. I know that coaches are always on you to drink during the game, because in the heat of the battle you don’t notice that you’re thirsty and dehydrated and your performance may suffer. Maybe research has shown that your players will be better hydrated if you have trainers running around actively making players drink. In this instance, I don’t know what was gained by having Mr. Cole show such solicitude for Mr. Price.

    How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?


    • Da Hema says:

      I too noticed Cole squirting water for Price at the end of the game. It could be another amusing post-victory ritual for the Habs (like the Price-Subban low-fives). Or it is possible that Cole, as I would imagine everyone on the team, is in awe of Price’s goaltending, and that’s his expression of gratitude. I think it’s kind of cool. Cole ain’t so shabby himself.

    • OneTimer says:

      nice post, O errant one, this coming from one of the “Chill-Out crew”. nice analysis of AK46 especially. he’s an enigma, but i’m glad he’s on the team. Go Habs Go!

  15. Eric C. says:

    First post! Nice to finally register and give my two cents.

    Ok, ok. So let’s say Gomez comes back, and we make room for him on the wing. Who sits? Blunden. Fine. But now White is ready to play. Who sits? Darche? Nokelainen? No way. So I ask: Who sits when White come back?

  16. O-ZoneVertigo says:

    On the Ottawa goal, in addition to what’s been said, I also thought that PK was out of position to deliver a useless/unnecessary hit to Condra, instead of trying to block the pass from where he was. The only thing I liked about his game tonight was the triple-low 5 with Carey at the end of the game.

  17. HardHabits says:

    I always enjoy reading EN ATTENDANT LES NORDIQUES. Here’s an HH translation of his analysis of tonight’s game:

    20180: Montréal 2 Ottawa 1

    The Habs were rusty in the 1st period but it was their propensity to sit on a lead in the 3rd period that struck me. I geuss the idea is to not piss and moan when the Habs are leading but seriously.


    MacLean did his best to shelter Spezza from Plekanec. Which is a huge compliment to Plex.

    Two weeks ago if somebody told me that MacLean was going to pit Spezza against Desharnais I would have freaked out. Not only did his line hold it’s ground but they scored a goal. DD is never going to be Plex but I found some of his defensive plays surprising. I am not ready to qualify him as a defensive centre just yet but he is showing signs of progress. Cole has been on fire lately but tonight Cammy had his first A-game of the season; anticipation, shifting gears, passes.

    Eller had pretty much the same match ups as DD but more often in the offensive zone. DaCosta’s line dominated in the shots on goal but it was his line that was on the ice when AK46 scored.

    However MacLean put Spezza’s line on after Eller’s line iced the puck and it wasn’t pretty. Defensive or not, they were nailed to the bench after that.

    PK and Gorges played more in the defensive zone usually against the Spezza line.

    Was it a whim or by design? In any case Gill and Diaz were on the ice for numerous offensive zone face-offs. The scoring chances as well as shots on net immediately followed.

    Spacek and Weber were mainly used against the Sens’ 2nd and 3rd line except in the 3rd when they were used against the Spezza line. It’s preamature to pass any judgement on this reversal of roles between the 2nd and 3rd pairing defensemen.

  18. Sean Bonjovi says:

    “Raphael Diaz was caught on the Ottawa goal, but that was mainly because Mike Cammalleri’s pass led him astray.” Cammalleri then coasted back up ice and watched Diaz almost get back in time to prevent the goal.

    Andrei has spread out his 8 points over 7 games and they have all been at even strength.

    “Andrei Kostitsyn is a better hockey player than Max Pacioretty”
    – Sean Bonjovi

  19. GUNKA DIN says:

    I may be crazy but I am thinking that when Markov comes back it would be interesting to pair him with Emelin.
    It puts a bruiser on the blue line with a crafty old guy to mentor him in a language he understands, and to cover for mistakes just like he did for PK.

    Then you use Weber instead of The Gomer who sits until someone gets hurt.

    see my blog at http://noroomatthedump.blogspot.com/

    • Trisomy 21 says:

      Jesus did you skip reading the article? How many games will it take before people appreciate Yan Weber? He must not be charismatic enough for everyone. Maybe not enough interviews? I don’t get it, he’s playing great, he’s 23 and if he continues to improve he can be Gorges with a nose for the net + cannon.

  20. Wayne says:

    Great article, Mike. Always a pleasure to read your stuff.

    Now, if Price wins us a cup? Well, look at (“what have you done for me lately?”) Cam Ward. I still think he should thank the Habs for his salary. He got damn lucky that series.
    I think we should pay him and play him. There’s no doubt Price will pay off.

    • Chris says:

      Cam Ward has been to the Stanley Cup finals once, winning one of them, and has a Conn Smythe Trophy to his name.

      Price still has to earn his money come playoff time. Like you, I think he will, but there have been other excellent goalies (Dominik Hasek comes to mind) who have had phenomenal regular seasons wasted come playoff time.

  21. Booyacaja says:

    I say BOOO to Budaj

  22. DEANDALLEY says:

    Price is HOT right now!

    Martin dare not to go with Budaj!

    “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”

    • ClaytonM says:

      Back to back games aren’t an issue this early in the season, especially after a week off and the next game happening on Tuesday. Ride the streak with Price, I say. Budaj should dress on the 17th vs NYI and then the US Thanksgiving game Friday afternoon against Philly. Unless we’ve won every game until those with Carey in nets, then it’s dealer’s choice.

      Ken Dryden For NHL Commissioner

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.