About last night …

Jacques Martin has a few pet phrases he likes to use in his post-game press conferences.

The coach almost always talks about the importance of goaltending and special teams.

“Execution” is another favourite Martinism.

But after the streak-ending loss to the team he used to coach and general-manage, martin popped a new one.

The Canadiens, Martin said, were not “direct enough” in their attack. That and too many turnovers through the first 40 minutes, Martin suggested, doomed his team.

I’m not sure what the absence of directness means in the context of a hockey game.

A reluctance, perhaps, to play north-south against a team that kept the Canadiens east-west attack in check for most of the game.

P.K. Subban said it was winnable. The rookie defenceman thought he and his teammates could have bagged five goals.

The Canadiens had 41 shots, a season high (they had 40 against Ottawa two weeks ago).

The Panthers blocked 18, and there were another 14 misses.

So it’s not like they didn’t fire some rubber on or toward Tomas Vokoun.

There were few occasions, however, when the Canadiens had second-shot opportunities.

While Carey Price was beaten twice following rebounds, Vokoun was rarely under any kind of sustained, in-close pressure.



Martin didn’t talk about special teams beyond saying he thought the Canadiens’ 5-on-3 power-play at the beginning of the third period was the game’s turning point.

It was part of another futile night for the PP – the eighth 0-for in 11 games this season.

The return of Andrei Markov was supposed to help, and it did. Markov and Subban formed a solid blueline combo – two skilled players highly adept at keeping the puck alive and moving on PPs.

It was somewhat surprising, then, that Martin chose not to use Markov on the 5-on-3. Instead, Mike Cammalleri played the right point with Subban shifting to the left behind forwards Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn and Brian Gionta.

“We had a shooter in Subban and a shooter in Cammalleri,” Martin said of the deployment. “And we had some chances.”

Gionta had an open net, Martin said, but his shot hit the skate of a Florida defenceman. It’s been that kind of season for the Captain. Four more SoG against Florida – 44 on the season, with one goal to show for it.

The Top Six forwards were stymied all night. Cammalleri has one goal in his last nine games. Lars Eller is learning, but he doesn’t look like a scorer.

Mathieu Darche works his ass off, but he’s not going to get 20.

Tomas Plekanec, the best player on the team through 10 games, lacked his usual jump and creativity. Playing his fourth big-minutes game in six nights  – and the second of a back-to-back that included late-night travel – Pleks looked tired on some shifts.

Markov played 23:03 – second only to Subban’s 24:49. Markov had five SoG and another five that missed, an indicator of his rustiness. On balance, however, the returning superstar played as good a game as could be expected – if not as spectacular as last season’s two-goal return to action.

The rested Panthers skated with the Canadiens and exerted pressure on the D. The first 40 miunutes were reminiscent of Friday’s second period on Long Island: stretches when the Canadiens’ zone clearances were laborious, their passing inaccurate.

Martin said he wwould look at the game tape before deciding what adjustments are in order before a Tuesday game in Columbus.

There’s no need for radical surgery.

As the coach said, the Canadiens took  six of a possible eight points in a tough week – and had a chance at eight.

The loss was disappointing and the lack of scoring, particularly from Gomez’s line, is worrisome.

Roman Hamrlik’s ill-advised to skate through a Florida trap left his p[artner, Jaro Spacek, chasing David Booth and hauling down Florida’s best forward. Booth’s goal on the ensuing penalty shot was the game winner.

The Markov-Subban pairing was solid, and Spatch’s minutes, with no PP duty, were down to 16:58. They are, however, the weakest pairing right now … and this might merit a shakeup if the Canadiens hit a rough patch.

For now, however, a tired team lost to  rested team with a hot goaltender.

And although the Canadiens are 0-1 with Markov, that should change.

•  •  •

Kudos to the fans for astute and non-homer Three Star picks: Mathieu Darche third, Booth second and Vokoun first.


  1. baruch says:

    BTW now that you are asking, it would be nice if the game blog had some kind of auto-refresh feature like < META HTTP-EQUIV=”REFRESH” CONTENT=”15″ > but I guess it should be one the user can switch on and off. 

  2. Mr.Hazard says:

    ALN always used to be my morning treat; I would repeatedly check the site until it was posted. Right now, I’m almost never in bed before you post it, so I end up reading it the same night (being unable to resist until the morning), and then I have no treat in the morning! I agree with the suggestion you just replied to.

  3. kempie says:

    FWIW, I love the immediacy of your game blogs and ALN. You’re right, the stuff you read in the morning is all very similar and removed from the night before. I, for one, love to hear from someone at the rink giving me their impression of what has just happened. It’s the immediacy that keeps me coming here daily. ALN could be done the next day and offer insights you may need to sleep on to develop more but I would still want to hear what you thought immediately following games.

  4. Chuck says:

    How about a new feature called “About Last Night’s About Last Night”?   🙂

    Centre Hice: Check out the new training aid at Brossard.

  5. twilighthours says:

    Whatever you decide, Mike, will still keep me coming back.  You’re the best hockey writer out there, it’s as simple as that.  You’re the only reason I (and I suspect a lot of others) continue to come back to HIO, in spite of the trolls, clowns, and pompous wind-bags in the commentariat.  Sure, Hickey and Stubbs are great, too.  But you’re the straw that stirs the drink.  

    So just do what you do, and the rest of us will keep on lovin’ it.

  6. ZepFan2 says:

    That sounds about right, Mike.

    I always enjoyed reading ALN the next day. Seems like there was more to it when you waited till the next day.


    “Analyst: And I will say things you already know, five seconds after you yell them at your television.”

  7. Will Longlade says:

    It’s an 82 game season. The Habs are going to lose some games that they should have won along the way. There are going to be some rough patches and hiccups along the way. It’s inevitable really. But, I’m a glass half full type guy and I really like what I see after 11 games. Up to this point we’ve seen what the team is capable of without a PP firing on all cylinders and their MPV. The Habs have a ton of team speed; much more depth than last year; they compete every night; and they’ve identified and addressed some critical weaknesses that hurt the team in past seasons. They also have a new superstar in the making in Subban.

    Spacek hasn’t had a great start to the season, but the team has the luxury of some extra bodies on defense to rest him, Hamrlik and Gill during the course of the season. That’s a great position to be in. It’s a bit early in the season to be assessing Spacek’s value, especially after the valuable contribution he made during the Hab’s playoff run last year. 

    BTW, both the Islanders and the Panthers have decent records and they’ve beaten some pretty good teams this year. Last night, the skate of a Panther’s d-man and Vukoun’s performance were the difference between a W or a L for the Habs.



  8. Mike Boone says:

    That’s the direction in which I’m leaning: a few post-game quick hits, then an opinion piece in the morning. I have a couple days to think about it. BTW, I really appreciate the feedback,

  9. nightmare_49 says:

    ebk – It certainly a different sandbox these days, thanks.

  10. notbigbird says:

    I like Boone’s stuff whatever he does, but this seems like a fine idea to me.

  11. ebk says:

    hey Bryan, busy summer, things settling down a little might have a little more time to play in the sandbox this year. keep up the good work posting those links

  12. nightmare_49 says:


       ebk – How is it going, good to hear from you.

  13. ebk says:

    How about a compromise. Do a recap after the game and post it in the live game blog. Nothing major just a few quick points about the game, JM press conference or what ever springs to minde.

    Then Do the About Last Night the next morning, It was a better read when you posted it the next day.

  14. 24 Cups says:

    Mike – There’s something to be said for sleeping on any idea or decision.  The difference in perspective can sometimes be quite astonishing.  As well, the piece is called ‘About Last Night’.  It was always something to look forward to in the morning in terms reading your take on the previous night.  Being posted at midnight doesn’t have the same impact.  Not to mention that most of the replies are from people who just watched the game and happen to still be awake.  They tend to be in game mode and really haven’t had any time to digest what went on.  About Last Night is basically a spent force by the time most of us get up the next day.  It might as well be called ‘About Tonight’.

    I’ll use myself as an example.  AK46 had three good scoring chances in the last ten minutes.  He fanned on one of them and fell on his ass for the other two.  He also let his man get away from him which indirectly led to the 3rd goal by Florida.  I left the room thinking that he had let down the side.  This morning I came to the realization that the team probably took the game too lightly (based on their hot start) and that Florida had played a perfect road game based on their trapping, shutdown style.  Vokoun also was rock steady.  Of course all of this was in contrast to the game before when the Panthers and Vokoun got blown out by Ottawa.  Andrei may have had a lousy end to his night but there surely was more to it than that.  Eight hours gave me the chance to think things through and get a real handle on the game (without the emotional element).

    My thought is that you should go home after the game and get some shuteye.  Then get up early and post something by 7:30 that we can all enjoy while having a morning coffee. 

  15. JF says:

    I think ALN was much better when posted the morning after.  Everyone had had time to digest the game; your piece was more analytical and the comments were more thoughtful.  When it’s written right after the game, a few people post their immediate reactions, but by morning the thread is pretty well dead.  There’s not a lot of discussion.  After an ugly loss in particular, the comments tend to be rants calling for players to be benched or traded and the coaching staff to be fired, etc.

  16. Psycho29 says:

    I can’t get on the main page either…

  17. nightmare_49 says:


       M B – I see your point and it makes sense. You can do your quicky after the game to give All Boone’s Children something to bite on and in the morning, as you are usually an early riser, post a thread (more ALN) which will contain your more astute observation of the game and the issues they produce, time permitting of course.

       It’s amazing how a few hours sleep clears the dust from the tilt and you see things in a different way. I’m sure your morning analysis will also create more national attention as this site has become a leader in info thru the NHL hockey world, great PR. Keep up the good work.

  18. habstrinifan says:

    Dont see how but if we cold work something to get Iginla to MTL would be great. Calgary is ready to implode and he may be available.

  19. baruch says:

    Can never get eough Boone!  The ALN as it is now usually helps ground me after a game.  At its best,  it provides a nice kind of closure to the game blog, resolving some of fragmentary thought expressed there.  But a real morning after would be a double delight.  Depends on your level of workaholism(professionalism, hah!), Mike.  Do one after the game called WTF?! and do the ALN on the morrow. My 2 Euro cents.

  20. moonkid says:

    I read ALN because I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the game. While I can’t speak for everyone, if you reverted to morning postings, I don’t think it would change much. I would guess most people come here for the community, rather than just a news source.

    JT has been doing the same thing(with her Aftermath:…) and it hasn’t stopped me from looking for her articles.

  21. RetroMikey says:

    I would like to see Spacek gone, the guy looks so tired out there and at least bring in Picard to see what he can do.  Guess that fat contract he signed as well does nothing to help our D.

    We do have defensive isuues even with Markov in the line up as the season progresses.

    tired according to Boone?  lol!  We are just into the 10th game of the
    season and the million dollar Czech is not performing to his salary aw
    well as our Captain Gionta as well as others who have a hefty fat

    Is the bubble about to burst on our Habs so early this season?

    IMO, the Islanders and Panthers game were easy, dominating  2 W’a for us but that was not the case.

    a long season but does our aging D have the stanima and our small
    forwards able to take the physical punishment and bruising by other
    strong bigger teams game in and out?

    Only time will tell.

    But I do not like what I am seeing so early in the season, especially these past 2 games against the Islanders and Panthers. 


    “We will win the Cup one day only with ? in the nets “

  22. lemess says:

    Long time reader – rarely comment.

    I always prefered the in-depth analysis of the game after you had a while to mull it over.  In our house, the TV and computer get shut off after the game – About Last Night is read the next day with a morning coffee.  It is a unique piece that I look forward to every morning after.  Keep up the good work – it is appreciated!

  23. nightmare_49 says:


       Jim Matheson’s Hockey World:

       Like the Edmonton Oilers last year, most of the Flames’ cap money is tied up on defence with Jay Bouwmeester ($6.68 million), Robyn Regehr ($4.02 million) and Cory Sarich ($3.6 million). That’s $21.3 million for four guys, and doesn’t include White.

       Now the Flames may let White go if they think T.J. Brodie can fill his role next year.


       Fleury faltering?

       Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury couldn’t be faulted for Pittsburgh’s 3-2 loss to Philadelphia on Friday, but he’s definitely in the crosshairs with unhappy fans with a 1-5 record to start the season, while backup Brent Johnson went into the game at Raleigh at 4-0-1.

    Read more: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/Hockey+World/3754164/story.html#ixzz13wE3zfs7

  24. nightmare_49 says:


       For a little bit of humour , Rumours , by Bruce Rumours Garrioch:


    Rumours du jour

    The Dallas Stars, already in financial peril with their ownership situation in flux, are likely going to have to shed salary down the road. The Stars are averaging just 13,509 fans a game and the belief is C Brad Richards will be dealt before the Feb. 28 trade deadline. “They might have to do it to save cash, but that just doesn’t make sense to me,” said one league executive. “They’ve got a chance to have a pretty good team. They should be trying to add, not subtract.” … Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, who is trying to clear cap space and figure out a way to keep RFA LW Zach Parise, has been fielding calls about LW Patrik Elias. Elias, however, has a no-move clause and isn’t likely to agree to a trade. He has two years left on his deal and wants to stay put … The Coyotes are trying to move little-used RW Petr Prucha. He’s been a healthy scratch and is making $1.1 million this season. He’ll be a UFA next summer … The Bruins will have to shed salary once Marco Sturm and Marc Savard come off the long-term injury list in the next month. RW Blake Wheeler’s name has surfaced in trade rumours, but Boston would have to get a good return to consider moving him. While there has been talk the Bruins could bury the $4-million contract of RW Michael Ryder in the minors, he will be a UFA after the season and has been a consistent contributor this year.

       It’s hard to believe the Blues, who are thin at forward, would trade RW David Backes right now. His name is circulating in rumours, but the only way a deal will happen is if the Blues decide they can’t afford to pay him next season as a UFA.


    Besides Ottawa, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks are among the teams working the phones trying to land defencemen.  ( I’m not for it but should PG dangle O’Byrne ).

      Read more from Rumours article …..  http://www.ottawasun.com/sports/columnists/bruce_garrioch/

  25. Mike Boone says:

    Late last season, I changed my approach to ALN … and effectively turned it into a misnomer. With the Internet’s 24-hour news cycle and the number of writers analyzing each Canadiens game, I decided that waitin until the following morning – my traditional approach to writing ALN – was making the piece a bit late to the party.

    So I decided to write it immediately after games. Admittedly, this makes it more of a game story than an analysis piece … although I try to get a bit deeper into what happened than you might read in a standard game story.

    You’re quite right, though. Basing ALN on the coach’s press conference is working with very thin material.

    Basically, I think I’m sacrificing depth for immediacy. (And wrecking my sleep patterns by staying up till all hours after games, but that’s another story.)

    Any thoughts from the Commentariat?

  26. nightmare_49 says:


       It maybe me but i can’t get on the Main thread, it’s the end of the month and Mr.Boone may be padding his monthly hit bonus.


       Matt D’Agostini now has 6 points and is +5 with the Blues on limited ice time, though last nite he played over 15 minutes. Has Dags found his fit, time will tell.

  27. nightmare_49 says:


       Steve Simmon’s Sunday Rant:

       – I should have known better than to second guess Craig Ramsay, one of the brightest minds in hockey that nobody talks about. When he moved Dustin Byfuglien to defence, I made a wisecrack about it. But did anybody see Byfuglien’s Bobby Orr-like goal Friday night? End to end. The guy has nine points in eight games on defence.

       –  Stat of the week: As of Saturday night, Kris Letang of the Penguins had more points than the entire Philadelphia defence, which is among the reasons the Flyers are off to a dubious start.

       – Department of mindless: All the early-season Tyler Seguin analysis regarding the Phil Kessel trade. Seguin is two weeks into his career. The Bruins have another two draft picks to come. Four years from now, you can break the trade down accurately with context and understanding. Meanwhile, with the Leafs struggling to score, imagine this team without Kessel?

       – I give up, why did the Boston Bruins wait until Milt Schmidt was 92 before retiring his jersey and honouring the man? They should have done this 30 years ago.

       – How did Central Scouting get Jeff Skinner so wrong, ranking him 34th last year. They should have listened to his former GTHL linemate, Seguin, who said he’d be the steal of the draft and he’s looking like that with the Carolina Hurricanes.


  28. nightmare_49 says:


       Having About Last Night based mostly on JM’s post game press conference leaves a void, JM simply rotates scripts and tells you little. He’s hockey’s answer to John Baird, the Conservative’s spin doctor. With Hurleys lurking i would do the same thing.

  29. SlovakHab says:

    Remember Cammalleri’s case?

    Towards the end of the last season, he just couldn’t score. He was in a similar scoring slump as Gionta is now.

    What happened few games later was a ridiculous hot scoring streak during the playoffs.

    We were all complaining about Cammy at the end of the regular season (myself included), but then he started scoring and we all forgot about it. 

    I think once Gionta gets going, he will score plenty of goals. 


    As for Spacek, I have never been a fan of signing him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t contribute offensively like he used to in Buffalo, while being pretty average defensively. He also isn’t getting any younger..

  30. JasonM says:

    Spacek is showing his age and his slow legs and I’m unsure how wise it is to bench assets in favor of him. It’s a big year for the defensive corps as I believe it’s #44’s last year here… and I wished it was #6 as well. 3.8 M for ANOTHER year. Damn. He’ll be almost impossible to move.

    Gio needs to start putting pucks into the net. I’ve kept my mouth shut as people keep themselves busy finding the perfect combo for their line. I’m looking at his whiffs every game that his team can sorely use. Tonight had a flagrant example with a wide open net. I’m keeping faith but it’s getting pretty ridiculous that a sniper like him is missing all these opportunities and is amongst the league’s worst in shooting percentage for a top 6 forward. what is going on? It’s ridiculous.

    Give Markov a few games but I’m happy to see him back.

  31. Da Hema says:

    What frustrates me are the uncalled hooks and holds by teams like New Jersey and Florida. I mean, honestly, why would any sane person spend thousands of dollars to watch 41 games of that shite? Didn’t the league want to get rid of that crap? Both teams have good goalies, so I suppose they can play that “style.” I just lament what those two teams have done generally to hockey. It used to be an awesome spectator sport.


    An important announcement from the Government of Canada:

    Health Canada is reminding Canadians that consumption of the Toronto Maple Leafs has led to vomiting, fever, bloody diarrhea, dementia, and penile dysfunction.

  32. Mr.Hazard says:

    G&G have so much trouble because there is a #11 on the ice, and it’s not Captain K! The number 11 on Gomez’s back is confused to see the “C” skating around on someone else’s jersey, not to mention the adjustment required after over a decade of being on someone else’s jersey! The #11 has to “gel”!

    Basically, just another excuse to blame Gomer :).

  33. Chuck says:

    How would you suugest that he was to blame?

    Centre Hice: Suck on this, Leaf fans.

  34. Norm0770 says:

    JM still can’t find a winger for Gomez and Gionta.  3 of the 4 players he has tried with them have more goals than Gionta or Gomez.  I still thing Gionta and Pouliot need a different centre.  Gomez has looked so useless all season, he hasn’t created anything for his wingers.  Gionta is getting a lot of shots, but they are from the outside on the rush.  The inability to have any sustained pressure is very troubling for that line.

  35. SeriousFan09 says:

    Yes but we’ve got to endure Cryer Ruff’s crap on Friday Night.

    Also, Aces on your new sig.


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

  36. Da Hema says:

    Thank God the New Jersey Devils Lite are leaving town. With that trap bullsh*t, no wonder they cannot even give away tickets in Florida. They would have to pay me to go watch that drudgery on ice.

    Good riddance.


    An important announcement from the Government of Canada:

    Health Canada is reminding Canadians that consumption of the Toronto Maple Leafs has led to vomiting, fever, bloody diarrhea, dementia, and penile dysfunction.

  37. SeriousFan09 says:

    You think our small guys get pushed around? Wait until you see Desharnais getting regular time. He isn’t physically strong enough for the NHL.


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

  38. light_n_tasty says:

    There are a few on Boone’s live game blog.

  39. showey47 says:

    Alex ovechkin had 36 goals in 4 years pre nhl hockey i’d say he overshot the 10-15 goal rate. Maxpac had more goals and points then cammy in their rookie years at michigan. The difference being one stayed in college for another 2 years to develop properly and the other was rushed into pro hockey.

  40. SUMO says:

    Not a single comment blaming Price for the loss. Its been a looooong time since that happened.  

  41. showey47 says:

    jeff halpern 3g 4a 7pts in 11 games. Plus 4 and 59% in the faceoffs. Great pick up for $600,000

  42. SUMO says:

    speaking of the dogs, yannick weber has scored 10pts in 8 games. 6 Goals!

  43. Former Jets Fan says:

    If someone gets a penalty shot while his team is shorthanded and scores, does he get credit for a shortie?

    And crazy – 4th penalty shot goal (that I’m aware of) tonight! Steckel makes it a 6 goal period for Washington.

  44. SUMO says:

    The Flames are self-destructing. Who will be the first coach fired NJD John McLean or CAL Brent Sutter?

  45. showey47 says:

    make that 7-2 caps with 1 minute left in the 2nd.

  46. zak says:

    Send Nomez to the dogs and bring up desharnais

  47. Timo says:

    I agree with you… I don’t see the same jump in him. Last year his was right there in the crease taking it all in. This year you won’t find him withing the distance of his shot near the opposing team’s goalie. Maybe he figured out what Gomez knew all along. Once you signed a huge contract you don’t really have to bust you a$$ all that much anymore. You still get paid. (Man, how I wish NHL was like NFL in that regard)

  48. habs001 says:

    i still think gion will have a 7-8 goal 10 game streak…while he is getting shots he looks a step behind from last year and not as tenacious as usual…but hopefully that will change

  49. Timo says:

    Well… Eller’s production is about the same as Gionta’s and Gomez. I say for the money that he is getting we are getting heck of a lot more out of this guy than the GG millionaires. 

  50. Timo says:

    I am going to love going to work on Monday. 

  51. habs001 says:

    i dont think the organization picked eller because he is a scorer..players that score 93 goals in 6 years of pre nhl hockey usually will not score at more than 10-15 goal rate at best in the nhl…i been saying the same thing about maxpac…

  52. showey47 says:

    lmao,corey sarich just shot the puck into his own net. The flames were up 2-1 now its 5-2 caps

  53. Timo says:

    I knew it… there is that “tired” excuse. Pffft!

  54. Former Jets Fan says:

    double post

  55. Vid says:

    It was comical how Hamrlik tried to carry the puck up the middle only to be met by three converging panthers leaving his partner Spacek out to dry as Booth sped by him generating a penalty shot on the play.

    Some good chances on the pp but too much passing.  Granted give credit to the panthers as they did a good job clogging up the slot 5-5 and on the pk.  I felt whenever a hab player was in the slot they never had enough time to get off a good shot without a panther almost on top of them.

    Gomez is great at penetrating the o-zone but afterwards he is ineffective and before you know it the other team has recovered the puck with little trouble.

    Sure we had some defensive lapses but a working pp would have overcome it.  It was indeed a winnable game but the habs minus the pp did not play terrible.

  56. Former Jets Fan says:

    Watching the Caps on a 5-on-3 vs. Calgary.  The Caps actually push the Flames back so far that all three Flames are at arm’s length in the slot, and all 5 Caps are at the top of the circles or lower.  No one rushes their play, they wait for a good shot.  Ovechkin scores from the half-boards off a Green feed. 

    5-on-4, and Ovechkin gets the exact same shot and scores less than 10 seconds later.

    If I recall correctly, the Habs 5-on-3 featured Subban and Cammalleri just inside the blueline.  Fix it Pearn!!!

  57. larisalapointe says:

    Yes, missing an empty net is frustrating for the scorers, but the d-men are the goalie’s worst enemies. Subban, being a rookie, can take the puck away from an opponent without getting a penalty. Why can’t Hamr? This changed the game. Price had a better chance stopping that in regular play than a penalty shot. Bring back the kids on defense. On the positive, every time the team loses a game, they come back stronger and more determined.

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