About last night …

Over men and horses hoops and garters

and lastly through a hogshead of real fire

In this way Mr. K will challenge the world

Coach Guy  Carbonneau said you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of bad games Alex Kovalev has played this season.

Actually, you could probably count them on the sore (but, let us pray, not broken) thumb of Mr. K. He is having a career season, and Kovalev has become the darling of the Bell Centre.

For all the car races and kissing contests and lame-ass promotions the Canadiens run to keep 21,273 fans amused, the crowd reachest fullest and most authentic frenzy when Kovalev has the puck.

And he has it a lot. If the NHL kept Time of Possession stats, Kovalev would lead the league’s forwards.

Although he shrugged off the notion of cranking it up because Alexander Ovechkin was in town, you’d best believe the aging superstar – snubbed by the Russian hockey federation for its national team – wanted to show the young pup he’s still got some game.

(My God, that sentence ran longer than one of Kovy’s shifts!)

 

 

There was so much to like about the game. A few aspects that caught my eye:

• Cristobal Huet is in the zone. There were no acrobatic or spectacular saves among the 35 stops he made to record the shutout because Huet is seeing everything, he’s square to the shooters, his positioning is superb, as is his rebound control. He even made a few good passes. Huet is giving Canadiens the hottest goaltending I’ve seen since I started blogging.

• How about that D? You expect Mike Komisarek to have a huge game against Ovechkin, but save some kind words for my man Josh Gorges, who held his own against the hulking sniper. All six defencemen did a great job of keeping the slot clear and moving the puck out. Almost all the Caps’ shots were from bad angles.

• Discipline. Two penalties in the game. They overlapped, Canadiens killed the 5-on-3, Sergei came out of the  box to score shorthanded and when his two minutes were up, Steve Bégin  chased down a lead pass and fed Saku Koivu for the third goal.

• The power play. Two more goals last night, and perimeter passing that’s  frustrating to watch if Canadiens are trailing but very pretty when the team is ahead and looking to pad its lead.

• Christopher Higgins didn’t score but was a monster on the boards and in one-on-one battles for loose pucks. That line will explode if Michael Ryder finds his game (which appears increasingly unlikely).

• Bégin, Bryan Smolinski and Tom Kostopoulos are the best fourth line Canadiens have had this year. Three smart veterans who hit and play with energy.

• When some Capitals thought about swarming Sergei K. after his kneeing penalty, Maxim Lapierre got right into it for his linemate.

Now let’s just hope Kovy’s thumb is OK, and it’s on to Washington tomorrow night.

107 Comments

  1. habfan53 says:

    A friend and I thought he was going for a hip check and missed.

  2. GrimJim says:

    The scary (for me, anyway) thing is that last year when the TSN guys and other media started taking notice of the Habs was when they went into the tank (thanks to the flu bug, I know, but still…)

  3. coutNY says:

    Not sure what the definition of cheap would be… he’ll make $6.3 million for the next 2 years… not including the assets we’ll need to give up for him, but who knows if he was under the fire of Carbo what he could turn into???

  4. moser17 says:

    I didn’t know ‘huer’ means ‘to boo'; that’s a great bit of reasoning! Double amen to this!

  5. moser17 says:

    One hundred thousand thank-yous, sir, to you and your talking horse. :)

  6. nightmare_49 says:

    krob – You are correct about the other contender’s deals coming in may affect your judgement and forcing your team to keep up. Just think if we were in the midst of a 5 game losing streak these “stand pat” posters would have everybody on the block. The moves at the trade deadline are talked about since October and teams rather wait to the trade deadline in case they can get more from somebody else and they know better the status of their team. Gainey shouldn’t have to make a big deal but just strengthen our weaknesses , minor deal or deals but if something comes up where somebody is in need of something we have that can put them over the top we should listen. “In Bob we Trust”.

  7. nightmare_49 says:

    Example : For a veteran (UFA) stay at home physical “D” man (Carney or Norstrom etc.) would probably go for a 3rd or 4th round pick. The pick doesn’t have to be from this years draft. We don’t need a star “D” man just someone to fill a void defensively.

  8. krob1000 says:

    Did you see the link I provided on mjames’ post about deadline deals. It highlights several key deals and you are definitely right that bringing in someone would also hinge on locker room compatibility as much as on ice as we do seem to have a group of guys that are really gelling. There are very few guys that someone on a team won’t have had some history with to give an insight into character and attitude so I think that can be handled internally. The reality is though 24 the other teams are going to try and deal but the more we hear the more it seems other teams are also looking for a top six forward and a top 4 dman. That has to drive up the costs unless it is a change of scenery trade where guys are struggling and both teams may benefit.

  9. nightmare_49 says:

    He’s signed with a Russian team if i remember right , dementia.ca. Good thinking though.

  10. 24 Cups says:

    Chorske – The other factor to consider is team chemistry, which right now seems pretty good as far as the Habs are concerned. Why screw that up with a rental player trade? I feel we can give O’Byrne and McDonagh the chance to become our 4th and 5th defensemen over the next few years. Gorges and the other kids will also be in the mix for spot #6 (or vise versa). Then a trade or a UFA signing for a big forward just might round out the team. Subs and a 7th defenseman can be had at any time.

    The Original 24 Cups

  11. ebk says:

    look like you were right. The NHL Official Guide Book is a much better source than Sportsnet. I just did a quick search to answer your earlier post on what the cost of some of those players might be.

    You can have the hand of the fair maiden

  12. gmd says:

    Some of the talk on here has been about the Habs picking up a more experienced D-Man at the trade deadline. Names like Blake, Foote etc have come up. I’m wondering about Danny Markov. I know when he became a UFA last spring the price he was asking was too high and he didn’t have any takers. I don’t think he is playing with an NHL team right now, maybe he’s in Europe. What do you guys think about maybe approaching him with a deal?

  13. Chorske says:

    Urgh, I just wish 1995-1996 would go away forever.

    I’d forgotten about Erik Cole and his neck. That was a horrible incident.

  14. 24 Cups says:

    ebk – Hey, I feel this is becoming a duel to the finish – perhaps to win the hand of a fair maiden! Here goes.

    Feb 25/07 > St Louis traded Keith Tkachuk to Atlanta for Glen Metropolit, Atlanta’s 1st and 3rd picks in 2007 AND Atlanta’s 1st and 2nd round picks in 2008.

    June 26/07 > Atlanta traded Keith Tkachuk to St Louis with future considerations for Atlanta’s (previously acquired) 1st round pick in 2008.

    Source: NHL Official Guide and Record Book, 2008, page 557.

    Footnote: St Louis traded (swapped) the 2007 pick to Calgary and the Flames selected Mikael Backlund who just happened to be the guy who looked like a million bucks in the WJC this year. So Atlanta got a guy who played 4 playoff games and gave up Backlund as well 2nd and 3rd round picks for the right to do so.

    The Original 24 Cups

  15. nightmare_49 says:

    HotHabs – Malik has size but is not physical in front of his net , a la Breezer , and plays the puck and from what i read Sather wants a lot for him.—Liles could be considered this summer but we have what he brings right now. Bouwmeester and Frolov are semi untouchables. We need a big physical veteran “D” man that’s been there before for the short term.

  16. krob1000 says:

    I was surprised at how important these tweaking deals were but it seems that nearly half of the Cup Winners in this article had some sort of deadline or late season deal that helped them. This site clearly shows that these moves have historically helped.

  17. Chorske says:

    He’s big, and he’s coming off a season where he has underperformed. I’ve had him in fantasy pools for a few years now and he has generally been a steady point producer. I don’t know much about him as a player, but certainly on paper, he’s a big center who can score. Sounds good to me…

  18. krob1000 says:

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/nhl/2007-02-25-trade-deadline-history_x.htm

    Here is a list of deadline deals and deals leading up to the deadline of significance. It has worked. Blake with the Avalanche in 2001, WEight and Recchi for Carolina in 2005-06, Sydor for the Lightning 2003-04, Mogilny for the Devils in 2000.

  19. likehoy says:

    yo did anyone else forget that mathieu dandeneault was on the team??

    i was just reading the paper and they were like “dandeneault sits again” and i’m like OOOOHHH YAAAA he was pissed he got benched.

  20. Chorske says:

    Amen.

    EDIT: LOL, did a post get deleted, or am I amen-ing myself? Ok, that’s it, I’m SO off the hard stuff.

  21. Chorske says:

    I predict no moves. No moves at all, unless its an exchange of problems (hello, Ryder) or salary dump (which I don’t think we need, unless we’re planning on extending some contracts?). The team is on a tear, we’ve demonstrated that we can play with the big boys- although splitting the remaining games with Ottawa would confirm that- and I don’t think there’s much pressure to rock the boat.

    Plus the draft is so deep next year, I can’t see us giving up top picks for a replacement part.

    Mostly, please, please don’t trade Huet. The man is on FIRE, and as Boone mentioned, our young Price could probably benefit from a couple more years of mentoring.

  22. mjames says:

    Malik is not an upgrade to what we presently have. Why would we give away our players. If you want to make such a deal maybe you give up Dandy and even then you are paying too much. What i get from reading the various posts is that people want to make a trade for the sake of making a trade.

    mjames

  23. HotHabs says:

    Some names for other possible – although remote – trades to put on the finishing touches:

    -Marek Malik: Rangers 6’6″ 235 lbs. with excellent +/- over career – a solid D who’s not happy in the Big Apple

    -John-Michael Liles: Avalanche 5’10” 185 lbs. – a smaller D who plays big and helps with offence (similar to a Bouillon, but with more offensive production)

    -Jay Bouwmeester: Panthers 6’4″ 212 lbs. – young productive D with size and skills who finished last season with +23, is at end of 2 year contract. Doubt Florida will part with him, but for the right deal, maybe…

    -Alexander Frolov: Kings 6’2″ 210 lbs. – excellent power forward who’s in a 5 year/14.2 million deal (very affordable), but anything’s possible when a team has reached the bottom of the barrel like LA has this season, and LA needs better Defense. A young player like him would be worth a multi-player deal which includes 1 or 2 draft picks.

    enjoying the high’s of being a Habs fan

  24. mjames says:

    I have yet to see a major rental work for the acquiring team. Why would one say surrender first round draft picks plus prime prospects when the acquired player is going to leave anyway. Quite frankly teams like LA,TB and Toronto are not really in a position to demand what Atlanta and Nashville paid last year. Atlanta and Nashville were fools. We would also be a fool to pay these crazy prices. It would be gross mismanagement to part with draft choices, especially this year when the draft is expected to be very good. Some posts seem to think that it is the buyers that are desperate.

    I like our team the way it is presently constituted. Proponents of major trades are risking the team. I could see if these strategies worked but they don’t. If you want to do Ryder and Dandy for Dumont maybe, but you better make sure you can sign him long term. Any deal should be contingent on a contract extension.

    mjames

  25. Nicolas St-Henri says:

    Hi, I was at the game last night and thought it was great (well at least the first period).

    I wrote an article about the 93’Cup, “North-Americans vs. Europeans” and, indirectly i guess, Kovalev’s turnaround this season.

    read it here :

    http://nefacmtl.blogspot.com/2008/01/ceriseries.html

    (sorry, french only)

  26. coutNY says:

    Gainey did not pass on him. WE had already signed Samsonov by the time he broke negotiations with Buffalo… Gainey saw the FA pool dwendling and made a move so we would not be left out in the cold. Dumont was available a week later.

  27. Chorske says:

    Hu-ay sounds too much like “huer”, the french verb for “to boo”. Doesn’t apply to our man. So I’m sticking with Hu-ette.

  28. P St. Pierre says:

    A nice piece on Alex Kovalev from TSN.

    http://tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=228513&hubname=

    Enjoy.

  29. Chorske says:

    Same here. I’d been following his work in Dallas, because I’d liked him so much as a player. Same with Robinson in NJ and Lemaire in NJ/Minn and Dryden in *gasp* T.O. I knew he would slowly turn this team around. Credit his team as well, for everything- right up to the trainers who have worked so hard to keep these players fit and free of flu. I don’t think it’s a complete fluke that we’ve been essentially injury free this season (knock on wood).

    Like you said: Happy Days.

  30. Ian G Cobb says:

    Your right, the draft is in the off season, and he will draft well, just like the last 3 years.

  31. ebk says:


    Jun 26, 2007: Atlanta Thrashers traded Keith Tkachuk and a conditional 4th round selection in 2008 to the St. Louis Blues for a conditional 1st round selection in 2008.
    Feb 25, 2007: St. Louis Blues traded Keith Tkachuk to the Atlanta Thrashers for Glen Metropolit, a first and third-round draft pick in 2007 and a second-round draft pick in 2008.

    I added this after but I just read that the 2nd #1 would have been added to the trade if Tkackuk signed with Atlanta.

    Is what Sportsnet lists for Tkackuk. Although you certainly could be right about the two #1’s.

  32. krob1000 says:

    I don’t want people thinking I don’t believe we can contend this year as is but if the opportunity presents itself then jump at it. My words got pretty twisted yesterday on here after I left for the day but the other big teams will all be stocking up so we kind of have to keep pace in the arms race if we are realistic. Ottwa and Detroit will both make moves and that is almost a sure thing. I am not going to lump us in with them yet but I think with a couple moves (that I am admittedly not able judge how realistic they are) we could be there this year instead of next.

    I don’t think anyone on here denies that in the next few years we are looking prettty good. This is the time to spend a bit of the wealth (prospects and/or picks) we have acculumlated. The East is appearing to be up for grabs as the Sens are surrounded by all sorts of strange issues from Emery to Corvo rumours to Alfie and Heatley’s health to having a new coach in Paddock. Jersey is not Jersey anymore and Pittsburgh is lacking depth. Philadelphia is starting to scare me the most and I am almost leaning towards thinking they may end up the bigger power by playoff time.

  33. teamplayer says:

    i posted last night (after almost everyone was in bed) how about marek malik, solid defensive defensemen unfortunately sather is asking a steep price of a top 4 dman for a ufa for someone whose definetly having problems with the rangers organization and the rangers are looking to still be buyers so they necessariy dont want picks so ill just throw this out there, dandenault and ryder for malik and some pick

  34. Mike Boone says:

    It’s Hu-ETT.
    Straight from the horse’s mouth. It’s what they call him in France.

  35. 24 Cups says:

    ebk – Believe it or not Atlanta gave two first round picks to St Louis – 2007 and 2008. And as you noted they then traded one of them back 2008(which had to be pre-arranged on whether they could re-sign Tkachuk on not) to Atlanta. Still, a 1st, 2nd, and a 3rd for a rental. Hell that’s what Edmonton gave up for Penner but at least they get to keep him for 4 years! As for the Forsberg deal…….

    Good point about Perezhogin. He’s making great money in Russia and probably won’t come back for a while. I’d certainly trade his rights but I also wonder how he would fit in if he ever came back as a Hab. He certainly would have enough experience to contribute right away. He has decent skills but would want too much money to be a third line player here.

    The Original 24 Cups

  36. Ian G Cobb says:

    There are a lot of fans that take notice well after the fact, but there are a few of us that notice a winning climate long before now.!!!

  37. krob1000 says:

    I wish I were genuinely qualified to answer that but there is a reason I post on here from my work. I will address what I think I can anyway. Ryder is tradeable and despite his ffseason he has 3 solid seasons under his belt and anyone inside hockey is aware of his diminished role on the pp and limited ice time, etc. I think the fact he is a UFA coming off a slumping season actually makes him more desirable as he should be signable and not be a rental (I would also be happy if we resigned him but he is an asset that COULD be used).

    I disagree also about Dandenault. He is a very versatile guy with his forward and defensive skills. He has learned from the best in Detroit and has seen it all. He is a hardworker at 1.75 million signed through next year. He is overpriced here in Montreal because he is a fourth liner but on many teams he could play either as a checking/third line (not all teams really play four lines so these guys can be more important). He couild also be a 15-20 minute per game defenseman as well. He is turning 30 on Feb. 3….he still has alot to offer. I would be just as happy with him here as well but given his frustration at his lack of playing time and the fact we are deep in this role.

    Prospects……this may hurt some of us on here but we have so many we could give up any one or two of our young guys (not with the club now). It could come back to haunt us years from now but that is a big IF….many of these prospects just disappear or never get out of the AHL. Take your pick at who it would be your guess is good as mine. We do have depth in nets as well that affords the luxury of dealing one of those guys if necesssary.

    Draft Picks…you all know my feeling on this and I still stick by my one in ten works out theory. They are necessaru when you are building but we are now looking at contending and we have several prospects ready to fill in for years to come in net and on defence. Where we lack depth is in the scoring area. I am sure I am not alone in thinking the worst when Kovy got hurt ……one key inury won’t sink us but it sure would hurt us.

    As for rentals…….I am not so much interested in a rental unless it is a number four defenseman and that is only if we also pick up a legitimate scorer. If we have both of those I honestly believe we are very strong contenders this year. There is no point in renting a defensman if the scoring forward is not addressed as well. O’ Byrne or even Gorges could develpop into our fourth guy so if we are not serous about this year then I wouldn’t make that a priority.

    Scoring Forward…..Tanguay, Dumont, Hossa (dream)are all guys that interest me a but ONLY if we can resign them or they are already under contract like Tanguay who I beleive is reasonably priced for the short term while others disagree.

    I wish knew more about Yann Danis because Halak is attractive to many teams but I don’t know how big his role is in our future plans.

    Ryder and Halak or a 2nd or 3rd round pick for Tanguay and I’d be happy. Blake to me is overvalued right now and I don’t think we should touch that one given the interest I have seen on other websites from other teams about him…cost is to high. Hossa would definitely require a semi-proven prospect and another pick as well and I wouldn’t want to speculate because I am not sure how I even feel about doing what it would take to swing something like that. Erik Cole is intruiging as well as Ottawa has shown some interest but Corvo and Vermette is the rumour and that to me is too high as well.

    I guess it’s Dumont, Tanguay, Hossa, Jokinen,Cole or someone else off the radar for me or nothing. Sundin doesn’t interest me as there is no way he resigns at all with anyone.

    For Jokinen I’d be willing to part with a 2nd pick this year and 2nd or third next year, Ryder, Dandenault and Halak. I’d do the same type of thing for Hossa assuming they would stay. The thing that bothers me the most about all of this is not knowing what our intentions are between the pipes because in all reality that is a hgue factor no matter what direction we go.

  38. Ian G Cobb says:

    Hottie–Even Ryder is filling his roll as Brisebois and the rest of the team. We have debth now throughout the organisation, if they eat steamies or are still developing in Hamilton. Ryder is doing a great job for us now, yes they changed his roll on the team and he is not belly aching about it because he is a valuable player for MY TEAM

  39. HotHabs says:

    Note of interest: TSN has listed the Habs at #3 in their Power Rankings behind the Wings and Sens. Finally, someone is taking notice!

    enjoying the high’s of being a Habs fan

  40. likehoy says:

    i don’t think we want dumont…he doesn’t skate well. we passed up on him last time when he was UFA, so i’m guessing we’ll pass up on him again.

  41. ebk says:

    Forsberg went for Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent and a #1 and #3

    Tkachuk was traded back to St. Louis by Atanta, so he was essentially traded for a #2,#3 and #4.

    You list the assets I think Gainey has to trade, although I think you should add Perezhogin to the mix. Of the players currently on the roster that have trade value, I would part with Gorges and O’Bryne but only for a big ticket player like Hossa.

    I would only move Gorges or O’Bryne if I was getting back a defenseman in the trade. There is no way I would move either if the end result was Patrice Brisebois back logging 15 or more minutes a game

    Gorges,Perezhogin, Grabovski and a #1(2009), might be in the ballpark for Hossa. Atlanta needs defenseman in a bad way, so they may be interested in some of the Dmen in the pipeline.

    Nashville is in contention for the play-offs, so Dumont might not be available even. It will take a good draft pick and a good prospect to land him if he is.

  42. Ian G Cobb says:

    JF–There are very few people cut from the same cloth as Mr. Sam Pollock, but I knew a long time ago that Mr. Robert Gainey was.! My happiest day in many years, was the day he came back to Montreal to run this opperation.

  43. HotHabs says:

    Well, I will stand up and be counted as one who had little faith in Carbo. He’s hanging in there and seems to be learning from some of his past mistakes, so kudos to him. Is he a great coach? No, but he’s improving along with his team.

    However, I will not recant my Ryder woes. He needs to go, plain and simple. If it’s for a Dumont, then so be it. He’s a one trick pony who’s trick has gone south – I guess that makes him a pony in the pasture? Ryder needs a change of scenery…

    As for Breezer, he’s fulfilling his role right now eating Bell Center steamies from the pressbox. He was brought in as a reserve and to fill in the gaps. He was fortunate to get as much playing time as he did earlier in the season. He should be used sparingly. The guys we have on D are doing a fine job and Boone’s man Gorges is steadily on the rise.

    I agree that the team is rebuilding and on the right track. But, that does not mean that every piece of this complex puzzle is in its place. We still could use a power forward winger to join Higgins and Koivu.

    enjoying the high’s of being a Habs fan

  44. sidhu says:

    We had two penalties and the one called against SK74 should not have been called, as even the Caps’ announcers admitted.

    Go Habs Go!

  45. moser17 says:

    amen to that.

  46. HotHabs says:

    Well, originally it seems to me it was to be pronounced “Hu-ay”, but RDS’s Alain Chanteclair pronounced it more like “Hu-ette” – with the “t” almost silent – after last night’s game (and I’ve noticed him say it like that before). On the other hand, other french commentators and analysts often say it “Hu-ay”.

    Regardless, I don’t care what people call him so long as he keeps stopping pucks the way he has recently! Cheers to our French keeper!

    enjoying the high’s of being a Habs fan

  47. 24 Cups says:

    Reply to ebk & kRob messages (below) – (Let’s assume for this discussion that Kovalev isn’t injured and is able to play.)

    There seems to be a consensus that we could use another scoring winger with size and a 4th defenseman to take a run at the Cup this year. I would also qualify that by saying that Huet would have to prove that he could take the wear and tear of playing four playoffs series over a two month period. Nobody is winning the Cup this year with Halak or Price in net.

    So we would be looking at getting two rental players. The names are all out there but I think it’s safe to say that Sundin wouldn’t be one of them. I don’t think the Leafs would trade with us (or Ottawa). We can debate the pros and cons of all the players available but let’s leave that for another day. The question is – what do you think we would have to give up to get one or two of these guys? Also keep in mind that whatever you give up will be for (rental) players who probably have no desire to re-sign with the Habs. So their spots on the roster will be empty (next year) as well as the players and picks we traded to get them. Most teams will demand a first round pick. If we trade for two players that (potentially) means two first round picks. Nobody is going to want Ryder – he’s an UFA and the sellers are trading for the future. Nobody is trading for guys like Dandy or Boullion. Likewise for all the guys in Hamilton. They might bite on a Valentenko or Carle but that’s about it. Halak? Maybe, but we should be careful because we might need him next year if Huet goes elsewhere. Danis? He’ll never play in the NHL. So now we’re down to guys like McDonagh, O’Byrne, and Pacioretty. At a lower level you would have Emelin, Garbovski, Fischer, Subban, Maxwell etc.

    It’s hard to tell what the price would be. It sure won’t be a Balej and a 2nd round pick. Last season’s trades for Tkachuk, Forsberg, and Symth were insane. As for 2008, Blake isn’t coming to Montreal so that’s a waste of time. Stuart seems to be slipping into oblivion. Hossa? You would have to break the bank. That leaves Foote and Dumont. Foote has lost a step but he shoots from the right side and would be fine if he’s asked to be a 2nd, rather than a 1st pairing defenseman. Dumont? He might even re-sign with Montreal but he’s having a career year so his value is at it’s highest. We would have to over pay on both counts (trade & re-sign).

    Only Gainey knows what the true cost would be to make these deals. But I do wonder what you two (and others) realistically think it would take to land rental players that will be available this February. What would a sample deal really look like?

    The Original 24 Cups

  48. moser17 says:

    Is our goalie’s name really pronounced “Hugh-ette” and not “Hugh-eh”? Our man on the TSN highlights made quite a deal about it, something about Huet’s wife telling people the correct pronunciation: “it’s ‘hugh-ette’ because his wife says that’s how he wants it”.

    (I’m posting this both here and in the Main article because I want confirmation. Apologies for the double post.)

  49. JF says:

    You’re right, Ian. It has taken nearly a decade to build this team, with good draft picks, patient development and a few trades. But what we are seeing is the emergence of a team that won’t be a flash-in-the-pan finalist or Cup winner, but a strong contender for years. I think we are on the threshold of having an organization like the Red Wings, a dominant team that will be in the playoffs every year. The years of frustration and shame are over!

  50. Fagstein says:

    Hands up those of us who had “Alex Kovalev has career season” in our preseason predictions this year.

    I thought so.

  51. Ian G Cobb says:

    It is very interesting how all the get rid of “Gainey, Carbo, Huit, Brisebois, Ryder, Smolinski, Tenderness, Koivu, etc. etc.” people have started to see that we are a team now. Which means they don’t all score, they don,t all hit, they don’t all block shots, they don’t all pass tape to tape, they don’t all forecheck or backcheck the same, shoot or even skate the same. But there a team that was put together for what they can do, by people who know that to win it all, you must have all different parts on the same page.

    It is starting to now come together for us. Sit back and enjoy this ride, It will last for years. We have waited for decades for this.!!!!

  52. 24 Cups says:

    kRob – Personally, I think Atlanta is a sinking ship, or a better analogy might be that it is slowing burning to the ground. They made the ill fated trades last year and then watched as their team laid down and died in the playoffs to the Rangers in four straight. Hartley is gone (no loss there) and Waddell seems stuck with a roster that is lacking in many areas. They will be in real trouble if they don’t re-sign Hossa. Rumour has it that they will tender one more long term contract and if he doesn’t sign then they will move him for a package. They probably don’t have much choice but to do so. Even with Hossa I think their chances of making the playoffs are slim. EDIT: I forgot that each division has a team seeded in the playoffs. Atlanta could still play under .500 hockey and make the playoffs!! Isn’t ‘parity’ grand.

    So I already know what your next question is and the answer is no. Signing him as a free agent in July is another story but even there I’m not sure he is the guy that I want to break the bank on.

    The Original 24 Cups

  53. krob1000 says:

    I wonder how that impacts Hossa’s status.

  54. Dan23 says:

    On the Habs trading front, take it for what it’s worth by the indomitable Bob Gainey:

    http://www.cyberpresse.ca/article/20080131/CPSPORTS0101/80131071/-1/CPSPORTS0101

  55. The Teacher says:

    Who is going to be our 3rd line center in the years to come? I guess you’re thinking Lappy?

  56. Mike says:

    but, where do you see chipper in the habs plan? when does he come up?

  57. The Teacher says:

    Yeah, how could you not know that Mr. Krob!

  58. The Teacher says:

    No arguments there, except we could give a 3rd rather than a 2nd IMO. Ryder is not Chipper.

  59. 24 Cups says:

    kRob – Last night Kovalchuk left the game after having a knee on knee hit from Jarkko Ruutu of Pittsburgh. Ruutu recieved two majors and was thrown out of the game. If Kovalchuk’s injury is significant then Atlanta can throw in the towel right now. Knee on knee hits was the specialty of Ulf Samuelsson, one of the dirty players to ever wear an NHL uniform. He even ended a few careers.

    The Original 24 Cups

  60. Chorske says:

    Krob- The thing tht struck me about that link (thanks for posting it) is how few of those February deals end up being championship deals. The two that stand out are the summer deal for Hull and the Roloson acquisition. There is always room for improvement, but not at all costs- I’d be perfectly happy heading into a playoff series with the current bunch, healthy.

  61. 24 Cups says:

    Teach – This isn’t meant to be critical towards them but in all honesty I can’t really say that Sportsnet is on the leading edge of hockey coverage in any respect.

    The Original 24 Cups

  62. Mike says:

    Haha ok. To be honest tho, i would trade Ryder and a 2nd round pick for Dumount and a 5th rounder

  63. Mike says:

    thats what the guy from sportsnet thought would happen.

  64. slamtherimtim says:

    i would do it , and keep komy

  65. The Teacher says:

    your friend and you are right.

  66. The Teacher says:

    that’s what he thinks should happen in a perfect world. I almost fell off my seat laughing that he actually thinks we’d give up that lol.

  67. Mike says:

    now im scared lol. is that true? or what he thinks should ahppen?

  68. ccs says:

    Well I was pretty much ready to see smolinski retire or get traded waived or whatever but that line with Kostopolus and Begin are really playing great now…That may turn out to be a very important line come playoff time Shut down and pop a few here and there. And kostitsyn jr has a pretty mean streak in him looks like he is starting to come out of his shell. He is the real deal. GO HABS GO.

  69. krob1000 says:

    My bad…… I confused one idiot for another.

  70. The Teacher says:

    8. Nashville trades winger J.P. Dumont – a UFA July 1 – to Montreal for a second-round pick in 2009 and rookie centre Kyle Chipchura. Unless Dumont signs before Feb. 26 he’ll likely be dealt. The surprising Habs can use a top-six forward and native son Dumont fits the bill.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHA PIERRE LEBRUN ON SPORTSNET

    IMO even a second rounder would be overpaying..LMAO CHIPCHURA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAH

  71. mjames says:

    You can’t be serious. After the trade you would end up with a poor imitation of the current TB Lightning team. Is that what you want for the Habs. One other thing Lecalvier does not want to play for Montreal. He has the sun, girls and money and NO TAXES in Florida .

    mjames

  72. The Teacher says:

    I don’t get why my powers that be post was deleted, but ok!!!

  73. mjames says:

    Insane and ridiculous. After the trade who would Lecalvier be playing with. Let me see it would be Lecalvier and the Hamilton Bulldogs.

    mjames

  74. showey47 says:

    great game last night, huet probably played his best game of the year. The pleky line was dominant as usual, lapierre’s line and smokes line were skating hard and creating chaos in the offensive end. Still concerned about saku’s line,its great that saku scored but ryder is absolutly killing that line. That line gets stuck playing in their own end for long periods of time and only seem to be an offensive threat when they are on the powerplay, the line only had 2 shots on goal while 5 on 5 (smokes line had 5 with less ice time). Gainey needs to find a right winger who can play with saku and higgy either in-house(hamilton) or trade. Its tough to watch saku and higgy bust their butts to create chances while ryder looks lost and confused.

  75. nightmare_49 says:

    Ryder’s days may be numbered , unfortunately , but i don’t see to much magic when anybody plays with Higgins and Saku. We started playing better when we separated Higgy and Saku but their back together again and last i heard their’s only one puck on the ice.

  76. 24 Cups says:

    Earlier in the year I thought that we would trade Huet at the deadline and hand the reigns over to Price. Well, Huet’s performance during the past month has completely turned that notion around (plus Price isn’t ready). Obviously, Huet won’t be going at the trade deadline and in fact Gainey might have to try and find a way to entice him to come back next year. You never know, Huet may re-sign for two years if the money is right. If not, then we might have to go three. If that happens, then we may have to temper our plans to chase a high priced UFA. It all begins and ends with goaltending.

    Kovalev was great last night and I love watching him perform his magic. Some people have already voted him into the Hall of Fame but for now I’ll just enjoy the moment and what he brings to the club. However, we will have a major problem if he is injured and has to sit out. Dandy is the spare forward at right wing. And there’s not much in Hamilton. AND then there’s Ryder. Everyone will be anxiously awaiting news from Dave or Mike on this point.

    It’s about this time of year that we really start appreciating the play of guys like Begin and Tom the Bomb. They are rarely chosen as three stars but they do play an important role if you focus on them when they are out on the ice. Watch them Thrusday night – they always go full tilt for their entire shift. Sometimes effort can out perform skill. I’m glad that they are already signed for next year. Streit and Gorges should be next on Gainey’s to do list.

    The Original 24 Cups

  77. tony d says:

    have to admit, my glass half empty side thought our boys would come out last night on auto pilot and coast. Boy was i wrong.
    They surprised us all by playing a solid 60….you can see the Caps would not let up but our Habs never cut them any slack.
    Hats off to a great team effort. (all except that lost soul Ryder, who looks way out of his league)
    So does this mean that Kovy’s mafia name now is Alex 4 Fingers?
    Go Habs Go

  78. Rugger says:

    No slack was evident in the last minute, up 4-0 and still pressuring in the O-zone trying to score again.

  79. coutNY says:

    It was nice to have the upper hand and not sit back on the lead, but rather sustaining pressure til the end to earn Huet his much deserved shutout (nad NHL’s #1 Star for the nitght)… I believe this momentum carries better to the next, when a team finishes solid!

    Go HAbs GO …XXfingerXX & praying for Kovalev’s clean bill of health… It would be a long 6 week momentum killing blow if his career best season was stiffled by injury!

  80. J.T. says:

    The celebrated Mr. K
    performs his feats on Saturday at Centre Bell
    The Habs good fans will dance and sing
    as Mr. K flies through the ring, don’t be late
    Messers K. and H. assure the public
    their production will be second to none…

    Great choice on the tribute song Mike. Kovalev owned Ovechkin in every way last night. At one point when the Habs were on the PK, Kovy just bodied Ovechkin off the puck, picked it up and flipped it out of the zone. Brilliant. Kovyness is next to Godliness.

    And speaking of shutting down Ovechkin, Gorges had his best game ever. At one point, he made a beautiful outlet pass under pressure I just assumed had been made by Markov. I was surprised and very pleased to see the 26 on his back as he skated to the bench.

    One thing I loved last night was the way they didn’t settle into defensive mode after the big lead in the first. They pushed for more all night and Johnson had to be good to keep it from being seven or eight to nothing. It shows huge confidence on our guys’ part…and isn’t it amazing what a dose of vitamin C can do to the mindset of a team? These are the same guys who chased their tails and blew leads all over the place in November.

    Huet will be back next year if Gainey can swing it at all. And considering the market for goaltenders is at a low right now, it’s quite possible he’ll sign for two years in Montreal. Particularly if he’s happy and winning, which seems to be the case. Gainey’s record of signing veterans indicates he won’t nickel and dime Huet, so the only barrier to his return would be term. Although, with the aforementioned goalie market issues, it may be tough for him to find term AND money from anyone else.

    If Kovalev has to miss some time, which, hopefully he doesn’t, Andrei Kostitsyn can play right wing. It’s his natural position and the only reason he’s not in it right now is because Kovalev is playing there. The Kosty brothers and Pleks could be the first line if need be, with Dandenault stepping in on the third line. That’s not to diminish Kovalev’s contribution though, because mere words can’t describe the 180 he’s pulled this season over last.

    I love Michael Ryder because he’s a homeboy, he’s got a great attitude and he’s trying like hell most of the time. But even I’m starting to see the advantages of shipping him to Nashville for J.P.Dumont. Although I reserve the right to retract that opinion if/when he starts pounding in the goals every night down the stretch.

    If Plekanec is ever traded, I will be very, very unhappy.

    So, Boone, are you still channelling that gloomy donkey?

  81. 24 Cups says:

    JT – Loved the Beatles’ trip down memory(should I say Penny)lane. Quick point – I’m not sure that Nashville is going to trade a guy having a career year for a guy who’s having the worst year of his career.

    On to the main point – Kovalev. If he’s out for 6 weeks then the balloon bursts and in all likelihood we are up against the wall. I agree with your idea of putting the K brothers together with Pleks. The pressure on Ryder to perform would be enormous because we would be back to having just two scoring lines. Lats-Lapierre-Dandy wouldn’t be producing a ton of offense. But the real loss would be on the powerplay. Kovalev is the powerplay.

    The Original 24 Cups

  82. J.T. says:

    Nashville might trade Dumont just because he’s a pending UFA, and I’m not sure what the chances of him re-signing with the Preds might be. That, of course, means Ryder AND a signed player going back…otherwise they could just trade Dumont for picks and/or prospects at the deadline. And that’s assuming they’re going to be sellers. Right now the league is so tight, there are no sellers aside from perhaps Tampa and L.A. It’ll be kind of funny if all the hype about deadline deals falls completely flat, just because everyone is still in contention and won’t move their assets “just in case.” Every team will have to head into the playoffs with what they have now, in that case.

    Oh, and I agree Kovalev is a big part of the PP. But I think Markov is the engine that drives that machine.

  83. JF says:

    I had to miss most of the game, only saw the third period and the Canadiens Express, but, except for some great pressure by Washington early in the second, it looked like a near-perfect game by the Habs. I lost count of the number of odd-man rushed we had; I don’t think I saw a single one by the Caps. Kovalev was nothing short of spectacular in his puck-handling, passes and setting up plays. I hope that thumb is only bruised, not broken.

    Josh Gorges is coming into his own. Now that he’s playing regularly, his confidence has really grown and he’s making fewer mistakes. He provided some great checking and hermetic coverage of Ovechkin, who most of the time was all but invisible.

    Unless there’s an injury, I think Dandenault has lost his spot. That fourth line played a great game and had good scoring chances. I don’t know what’s happened to Smolinski since coming back from injury, but he’s a lot faster and playing with much more energy and grit. There seems to be good chemistry among him, Begin and Kostopoulos. Dandenault’s only chance might be if Carbo decided to try him again with Higgins and Koivu.

    Congratulations to Huet on his well-deserved shutout. I was holding my breath late in the third period, afraid he was going to blow it as he’s done a couple of times this season. As you said, Mike, he wasn’t spectacular, but his positioning, rebound control and reading of the play were superb. I had to laugh to see him make a couple of Brodeur-like passes. Since the bad game against the Rangers, he’s been playing his best hockey of the year, looking like the Huet who took over from Theodore two years ago and posted five or six shutouts. I think that gaffe in the Atlanta game and the way he recovered and got the victory, in a shootout no less, really built up his confidence; and when he’s confident he’s good. I really hope Gainey can sign him to a couple more years.

  84. mjames says:

    I have not been Carbo’s biggest fan but someone is getting this team up to play and I have to assume it is Carbo. The team busted out last night for sixty minutes. The players are starting to believe in themselves which augers well for the future. Everyone is contributing in their own way. Love the balance. Good balance more than makes up for any superstar which why we do not need a Marleau, Richards, Hossa, etc. I know Ryder is having a rough patch but the guy is not coasting. He is busting. Anything from him is all upside and will only make us stronger.

    I hope Carbo can continue getting his team up. I love the aggressive checking. Next test is this Thursday.

    mjames

  85. krob1000 says:

    Thanks again boys for another incredible performance. From the back end out it was another confident performance with so many obvious improvements and very few errors. I agree with many that Huet played his best game of the year but I think he has also been playing his best hockey as of late. The game that went into the shootout that Koivu won after Huet had another one of his roaming episodes was a turning point for him. Following that gaffe he seemed to ease back into his old personality and looked loose and relaxed again. He made a great glove save and has not looked back since. He did get lucky on a couple last night but as the old adage goes you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good. Patrick Roy talked to his goalposts regularly.

    The first period we picked up right where we left off against New Jersey. The passes were crisp, the work ethic was there, Huet stood tall, guys were physical…..if Carbo doesn’t get some consideration soon for the Jack Adams there is something seriously wrong. I don’t like his constant line changing and /or the Ryder thing this year but who cares anymore, whatever he has done it has worked.

    Kovy is bang on when he talks about the guys now having confidence to carry the puck more and maintain possession longer. That was so evident and even my wife noticed that and she said it was like a game of keepaway during the first period.

    It was nice to shut Ovechkin down for the night but lets be honest to ourselves he hit the crossbar, fanned on a mostly uncontested shot from twenty feet out, was stopped a couple times but a few inches here and there and he was not completely shut down and the score and game could go a little different. In the second period that line of theirs got chances everytime they were on the ice. We were better again in the third but on another night one bad stretch against them and we could end up paying dearly.

    As for the idea that we shouldn’t trade if their is a good deal to be had…….give your heads a shake please. The Red Wings are shopping, the Sens are shopping, the Ducks just added two hall of famers,etc. Our horses are great but you ALWAYS look to improve and to be complacent is to be stupid. I have been one of the most positive people on here consistently from before the season (when the majority of people said we wouldn’t be ready this year and we should write the season off, trade Koivu, Kovy, Ryder, Huet,Brisebois Smolinski (although I admit I almost lost faith in him until a few games ago) etc…..I defended every single one of them) to now and yesterdays insinuations about trades and my comments about Higgins comments were somehow oddly twisted….oh well I guess that is what it is like to be a Montreal fan too.

    There were 17 or 18 different teams out scouting the Leafs last night according to the Toronto Star looking for bargains and ways to improve. Our scouts weren’t in Calgary for the damn Stampede they were scouting NHL players…..the only way you get those guys is via trade. Gainey WILL look to make a deal but will not overpay….to think anything less and to believe nothing is being discussed is naive. Gainey has proven himself in every aspect so let’s not be concerned about him dealing away anyone that could jeopardize anything we have here. He is no fool……and only a fool would not consider trading anyone.

  86. krob1000 says:

    I think it is a twin engine with Streit being the other half. Good power plays need smart and talented players on the points. Both Streit and Markov are adept at moving laterally, shooting, anticipating, keeping pucks in, passing, holding on to the puck in tight situations and not panicking when a stick gets within three feet of them. Too manyt eams have guys who panic but all of our PP guys realize that for the other team to break form and leave their box is not too likely so just hold the puck. IF they do come then someone is open and we seem to be smart enough to usually find that guy so the opposition respects that and usually backs off. Even our second unit boasts Hamrlik and now Sergei K who both demonstrate a similar patience and awareness. If you look at any good powerplay you will see a good point man….when you have four you can’t help but be good.

    Kovalev’s patience with the puck has rubbed off it sems on everyone we are the beneficiaries of some incredible hockey…..what a year.

  87. ebk says:

    Huet was absolutely fantastic last night. For the first two periods, I thought the game was fairly even. The Habs were more opportunistic and buried the chances they had. Huet faced a lot of good scoring chances and completely stoned the Capitals. That was one of his best games of the year and should go a long way to silencing the Huet critics. He has all year made the defense in front of him look better than it is and last night it was especially evident. Give Huet full marks for that shutout.

    The Canadiens are now 31 points away from securing a playoff spot. The last few years 93 points has guaranteed a team a playoff berth. I am guessing it will this year.

    With the call up of K2 and Lapierre, the team now has three productive lines every game. The lastest fourth line has played well, although last night I thought Huet bailed them out quite a bit. I am more and more convinced watching this team, that they are two players away from a legitimate Stanley Cup run. A big scoring forward and a defensive partner for Hamrlik just might put this team over the top. Gainey will not overpay to acquire these assets, nor do I think he should. Sundin and Hossa are big ticket items and will cost probably more than Gainey is willing to pay. Dumont does fit well with what the Canadiens have to trade and might be who Gainey is targeting.

    The last 20 games have shown that this team is not as offensively challenged as many of us thought. The first part of the season, the Habs score mainly on the PP but that has change of late. The last 20 games the team has scored more even strength goals than they did in their first 30 games. That is a significant improvement. The team is averaging almost 3.7 goals a game in the last 20, so maybe a scoring forward is not the team’s biggest need anymore.

    The area I think this team needs to improve the most, if it is going to be a threat for the Stanley Cup, is on defense. The team still allows to many shots a game and this has to improve for the team to take the next step. If not for the excellent goaltending the team has received so far in the season, I think this would be more evident. The defensive corps owes the goaltenders a big pat on the pack for making them look better than the actually are. This is not to say I think the defense a problem, just that it needs to significantly improve for the team to take the next step.

    If the team is to entertain thoughts of a Cup run this year, finding a partner for Hamrlik is the #1 priority. There will be some of those availabe at the deadline. Blake, Foote and Brad Stuart pop quickly to mind but all may carry a price tag Gainey is unwilling to pay. It is something I’m sure Gainey will look into.

    The thought of Marian Hossa prowling the wing for the Habs might be more of a pipe dream. More realistically the Habs are probably looking at grabbing players like Dumont and Adam Foote. If the Canadiens are able to land those two or players similar to them, without trading any of the core that is there now, it will make for a very exciting Spring in the city of Montreal

    For those keeping track, that is 15-3-3, without a certain someone in the line-up.

    Thanks for reading

  88. krob1000 says:

    I concur (I always wanted to say that).

  89. nightmare_49 says:

    ebk – Interesting points , as for Dumont it sounds good but he’s not an all around player and by acquiring him it may open a can of racist worms in this city and it may be hard to unload him later as we have a similar player with far less experience and younger in the wings in Matt D’Agostini. I’m saying this looking into the future when Dandy,Cube and Begin face the numbers game. The french media shoot themself in the foot again. Your suggestions for “D” men are tempting but i think Blake would be expensive and Stuart going south fast and Foote would fit the bill if healthy and not too expensive. IMO , they should also target Mattias Norstrom (UFA) or Keith Carney (UFA) as their playing little and will fill our void for our run. Names like Sean Hill (UFA) and even Richard Matvichuk (UFA-Lowell-AHL) came to mind but i’m sure Gainey will have a priority list of stay at home physical veteran “D” men and will go down the list and get what he wants at little expense and a veteran that’s been there and knows his role for a short term.

  90. Chorske says:

    We’re getting some scoring from all 4 lines but really we’re leaning quite heavily on Pleks and Kovy and their career seasons. It’d be nice to add just a smidge more depth, to get that Koivu line up to where it belongs. That is the ONE move I’d make.

  91. HotHabs says:

    You may be right, but then again it’s often true that the best performers are the worst teachers and vice-verse. Just something to consider…

    enjoying the high’s of being a Habs fan


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.