About last night …

Wait’ll next year!

It used to be the eternal plaintive cry of long-suffering Brooklyn Dodgers fans. But in Montreal, we can say it with a bit more conviction.

There won’t be a Stanley Cup parade in 2008, but Canadiens are on the come. They’re young, they’re talented and they’re going to get better.

Exhibit A: Last night’s game. Down a defenceman, lacking their captain, dressing only 17 skaters and facing a hot team and a well-rested goaltender, Canadiens took it to the Rangers for 54 minutes. Had Tomas Plekanec and Alex Kovalev – who were brilliant, along with linemate Andrei Kostitsyn – cashed a third-period 2-on-1, the Canadiens would have won in regulation.

As it was, they got a very well-deserved point to complete an outstanding 3-0-2 road trip.

 

There are many positives:

• Michael Ryder didn’t score but played his best two-way game of the season.

• Wearing the C, Kovalev played his heart out in the city where his NHL career began. Crafting the best season of his Canadiens career, Kovy is a leader and an inspiration to the kids.

• The stats sheet shows Roman Hamrlik at minus-3. He had some late-game difficulties and was the goat of the OT, but Hamrlik  blocked six shots, had four thunderous hits and was a rock for most of the evening.

• The fourth line was minus as well. But Tom Kostopoulos had five hits and skated all night, as did his linemates. I hope Kyle Chipchura is back in the lineup to stay.

• Andrei K. is rising to the challenge of being shown up by his kid brother.

• When Guy Carbonneau was able to get the matchup he wanted, Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek did yeoman duty against the Jagr line – just as they’d done against Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Vincent Lecavalier. Mike Ribeiro was the only big gun Canadiens couldn’t muzzle on their road trip.

• Christopher Higgins is playing like he’s happy to be reunited with Ryder.

• Guillaume Latendresse had a quiet night but a splendid road trip.

• Maxim Lapierre played 20 high-energy minutes (but he needs work on faceoffs). 

• Josh Gorges had some anxious moments, but I like him and the resurgent Francis Bouillon as a defence pairing. 

• You like disciplined hockey? Canadiens took two minor penalties last night and killed them both.

• Neither Sean Avery nor Colton Orr was a factor against your allegedly soft Montreal Canadiens.

•  The power play produced two goals in three chances. I like the brothers K together on the PP.

• On RDS, the postgame comments of Jacques Demers and Benoit Brunet praised the Canadiens’ puck support (illlustrated by a clip of Chipchura coming back behind the net to help Bouillon), one-on-one battling, forechecking and opportunism. Canadiens competed, they said, in all facets of the game – against a team that had annihilated the Leafs.

All in all, then, a loss worth celebrating. 

And there is reason to believe the best is yet to come. 

74 Comments

  1. grrrreg says:

    It’s not always black and white. There are wins that are not worth celebrating, and losses that are encouraging. This one was certainly not awful, considering the circumstances (the end of a road trip, no captain, and a reduced roster, against a good team with one of the very best goalies in the league)
    It’s normal to be ambitious and unhappy with losses, but it’s also good to be able to look at the things that went right even in a loss. So I share Mr. Boone’s point of view on this one.

    Happy new year.

  2. Chuck says:

    Would only help Huet, you mean? ;)
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    ______________________________________________
    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  3. sidhu says:

    Happy New Year to everyone in the Habs I/O community, including and especially Mr Boone, Mr Stubbs, and the other contributors!!

    Go Habs Go!

  4. The Teacher says:

    For the record,

    I never said I thought Huet was the number one goalie? It is only normal to expect him to play more games than Price, and unloading on him every time he makes a little mistake, people harp on him. Step back and look at the big picture. Our team is going to be BETTER next year (we hope) so Price will play 30-35 games this year and maybe 40-50 next if Huet is still around.

    Price still has things to learn as well, he’s very good, learning will make him great.

  5. DYCSoccer17 says:

    A loss worth celebrating?

    WTF????????

    Are we that complacent that we celebrate losses now?

    Seriously, the Rangers came from behind in the 3rd period and beat us in overtime. This team outplayed us and outskated us the secnd half of the game. THIS WAS A TEAM THAT HAD PLAYED THE NIGHT BEFORE AND ARRIVED TO NYC AT 130AM.

    There is nothing worth celebrating about that effing game.

    Mr. Boone, you are way off on this one.

  6. Yeats says:

    You’re spot on! Sitting back like that is just crazy and, I think, difficult to pull off. It requires absolute perfection on defense for it to work. You’re much better off pressing the attack and capitalizing on the other team’s miscues as they occur. Carbo just doesn’t understand several fundamental concepts of hockey: offense is fun and as long as I have the puck you don’t.

  7. Bill H says:

    Submitted by mbplekfan on Mon, 12/31/2007 – 17:39.

    “Price will get better and Huet will get us a big center, and lets not overlook the continued improvement of Gorges who is stealing Breezer’s spot and getting better every game.”

    Yes,mbplekfan, things are looking up for the Habs, for all the reasons you listed. However, in terms of getting anything for Huet, there are a couple of things to consider.

    First off, if this team starts firing on all cylinders and people start thinking we have a real shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup, I am not sure Gainey will be in a hurry to trade Huet away. As impressive as he has been, I don’t think Price has convinced anyone to date that he is ready to take on sole number one duties. He is unproven in that role, and to count on Halak as a backup is equally risky. That is unless things change between now and the trade deadline. If people are talking about a real run for the cup, Gainey might keep Huet for the playoffs, and let him walk in July when his contract runs out.

    Second, if Gainey does decide to trade Huet, it will likely be at the trade deadline to a team looking for reinforcements in net for the playoffs. The idea is to improve the team for the playoffs, and that means that whoever comes our way in a trade will be a draft pick or at best a prospect. He will not be a big centre, at least not one that has much current value. Upside yes, to be developed for the future. But not someone that is currently producing. So that will be Bob’s Dilemma. Any club that trades for Huet will be looking to improve their team now. Otherwise why trade for a goalie that is a UFA at the end of the season? That means that Bob will be weakening the Canadiens in the short term, unless Price and Halak are truly ready to take over. So if Bob is thinking of a trade, we will probably be seeing more of Price, to test him and see if he is ready.

  8. Guy21 says:

    I use Guy 21 because Guy Carbonneau was one of my favorite players and his number was 21……

  9. ebk says:

    thanks Maritimer. I respectfully disagree with you about Huet. I do appreciate the tone of your post. Great to see an opposite point of view that is presented in such a manner. Have a good new year.

  10. ebk says:

    Early in the season, despite the results, this team looked to me to be worse than last years. We were missing a few quality players from last year and this year’s replacements did not look up to snuff. The team that broke camp lacked depth at forward and this showed up in spades in the month of November. Stop the PP and you beat the Habs. Pretty simple.

    Thanks to a few injuries the make up of this team has changed dramatically. The Kiddie Corps have injected new life and more importantly quality depth in the forward lines. O’Bryne is much better than Brisebois. Hopefully Carbo can show more patience than he has to date and stick with the kids even when the Vets comeback.

    I would keep the top three lines as they are. my fourth line would be Streit, Chipchura and Begin. That would leave Kostopolous, Smolinski and Dandenault to be used as injury or situational replacements. Better yet they could be used to replace a slumping forward or to get the attention of one of the Kiddie Corps when/if their heads get to big. Having three decent players like that in the press box every night would show the depth the Habs have at forward.

    Like I said earlier, a top six forward, preferable a centerman, and another top four defenseman and the Habs will step into their rightful place, a yearly Stanley Cup Contender.

    Sorry for the two novels and again Thanks for reading

  11. JF says:

    I forgot to add to my last comment: A happy and successful new year to the team and coaching staff, the HIO staff who make this site so rewarding, and my fellow posters. Reading and digesting the comments is an integral part of the life of a Habs fan! Best of 2008 to all.

  12. mbplekfan says:

    I am as guilty of the next poster for griping too much. This is a young team and they will make mistakes. I just hope that the players get to make the mistakes and not the coach.

    That being said, this team should improve dramatically down the stretch. Latandresse has improved his play by leaps and bounds and the whole kovy-pleks-AK line is our new number one.

    Chipchura has to be the best surprise of the year, Lapierre is back for good and Sergei K is almost a ppg player already.

    Obyrne will be a physical force when he comes back and look out for next year with him and Komisarek intimidating opposing forwards.

    Price will get better and Huet will get us a big center, and lets not overlook the continued improvement of Gorges who is stealing Breezer’s spot and getting better every game.

    Things are looking up with at least five blue chippers on the way.

  13. showey47 says:

    as much as i am proud of the team for the gigantic character effort they showed last night i could not help but be absolutly frustrated how we lost against the rangers. We dominate for 2 periods, outwork and outskate a very good ranger team for 2 periods and come the third we revert to the 1-4,zero forcheck defence and it costs us yet again. How many points have we given away doing this? You play the last period the same way you play the first 2, you play to win instead of playing not to lose. Until carbo learns that you can’t sit back and protect a one goal lead for 20 mins expect these late game melt downs to continue.

    Ok now that i’m done venting and heading out for the new years bender i would like to wish all the people of habsinsideout and fellow posters a very happy new year.

  14. OldGrover says:

    Well, he scored on Cujo today at the Spengler Cup…

  15. howtathor says:

    Actually just saw Perezhogin the other day playing for the Russian team at the Spengler Cup. He is one of their big guns (go figure!) Anyway, it was nice to see him!

  16. howtathor says:

    I just took about 45 min to read all the excellent posts and was really impressed with the quality of the ananlysis. Just think, a week ago we were firing Carbo, giving Ryder away just to get rid of him, and on and on.
    I’m glad for the Canadiens sake that calmer heads prevailed, not that I would expect anything less from Bob Gainey. If there ever was a general manager who was above the hubris and had the patience to wait out the storm it’s Bob. Much in the way he approached the game.

    That being said, I am so impressed by the results of the last three games. Not the least of which is being able to dust off my Ryder jersey which was hanging in shame in the closet. The rejuvination of MR is like a metaphor for the whole team. Having three quality offensive lines is proving to be a matchup problem for opposing teams. Used to be that if you stopped the Koivu and the Kovy lines, you won. Now you have to multiply your matchups to three lines. Way to go Carbo! I would like to see a more creative wheel man on the third line. No one can match Maxim for heart and determination but we’re missing a real playmaker on the third line. That being said, those guys get to pucks even the creative geniuses wouldn’t. To see Higgy or Max forechecking, these guys never give up on a puck and win more battles than they lose. It seems to be rubbing off on Ryder which is giving him another breakaway dimension. Whew, what a shot!

    The K brothers are the biggest revelation so far! Had injuries not come to bear would we still be slogging it with Smokes on the first line wing? I hope that Sergei is here to stay and his presence seems to have a marvel effect on brother Andrei. Watching last night made me think of the Mahovlich brothers which was the last time I remember the Habs having a brother combo of such talent.

    As long as the kidz continue to produce Carbonneau has no choice but to play them. NOTE TO CARBO: That kid at the end of the bench P-R-I-C-E, he deserves some playing time too! Carbo seems to be ok with the youth movement until they screw up and then it’s the kibosh. Give em some breathing room and they will produce.
    I was not happy to see O’byrne go down but the injury opened the door for Chipper to get back in the lineup. There is a crux here of veterans coming back (Brisbois, Begin, Smolinski) and kidz who are playing their hearts out and making the team exciting to watch again (S. Kostitsyn, Lapierre, Chips, Price, Gorges et al). I would hate to see any of these kidz lose their spot to the aformentioned veterans. I prefer Begin to Dandy and that’s about the only change I would make. I can understand why Bob might have signed Smokes, Kosto, Breezer in case the kids were a bust. As witnessed on this road trip, they are anything but a bust and mistakes and all we’d should let em’ play, let em’ play, let em play!

    I could go on and on but just want to wish the team and everyone here at HIO all the best in the New Year!
    I read this board religiously and especially during games, it provides a unique and true insight into our Montreal Canadiens!

  17. The Teacher says:

    I don’t know, he needs to adjust the way he addresses people.

    We all want the Cup where it belongs, but we do it with class, am I not right?

  18. The Teacher says:

    God, I agree with your sentiment on Abby from last year. He’s the perfect definition for a fish on ice. Flop flop flop.

  19. HabsProf says:

    Heard anything about how Perezhogin is doing back in the land of Stalin?

  20. krob1000 says:

    Next year he’ll score thirty goals on a line with Perezhogin in Russia. He needs to lose ten pounds. He is 5’8″ and 195 pounds. That is the same size as Bouillon whom we call Cube. A buzzsaw, speedy forward can’t be a Cube. If he played at 180-185 pounds I bet he could be a twenty goal, sixty point guy for someone again. 195 pounds is too heavy and he either goes to Russia or talks to Vince Mcmahon.

  21. Yeats says:

    Can’t argue with any of those points!

  22. HabsProf says:

    Update on a past-Hab: Sergei Samsonov just cleared waivers and will probably be sent to the AHL. Chicago might be hoping someone will take a chance on him for half his contract on reentry waivers. Or they’re just giving up.

    Either way, a stunning fall for someone who was once a minor terror in the league. Who are you and what have you done with the real Sergei Samsonov?

  23. Habs-Kat says:

    Dave Hodge, whom I like, said that Ottawa is the undisputed best team in the East. After that, its a toss-up because no one team can really hold that they’re second-best. He suggested New Jersey and Montreal have the best cases for that honour and that gives me a lot of confidence going into the playoffs. I have no doubt that this team will find itself by the end of the regular season and by then, look out Ottawa.

  24. Yeats says:

    The success or failure of the Habs in any game comes down to strict adherence to Yeats’ Two Goal Rule:

    If Huet or Price can hold the opposition to two goals or less, the Habs should win. The burden falls upon the offense to do the job.

    If the offense can put up more than two markers, the Habs should win. In this case, the burden falls upon the kickers to play their game.

    I am generally ambivalent about who plays between the pipes. (Last year, when Abby got the nod, I was afraid of every shot the other team took.) The only exception is against the Leafs, I prefer Price. Huet had a shakey game last night. And, in hindsight, Carbo probably should not have asked him to play three games in four nights. But, as others have pointed out, you can’t complain about taking 8 of 12 possible points on the road.

    I still can’t figure this team out. What happened after the Dallas game to prompt the boys to step it up a notch? The more I think about it, I think Ian is right. This team is a work in progress and we should try to remain calm as they find themselves over the course of the season. Yes, I go mental way too often. Crap, it even happens in pickup. Although, I have yet to go Emery on anyone since my junior year of high school. Just get to the playoffs healthy and who knows, anything can happen. There aren’t any teams in the East that scare me.

  25. The Teacher says:

    ahahahahaha!

    I was waiting for it.

    I wish we could have another goalie as sucky enough to lead the league in save percentage.

    you realize the only reason I back him up is because when criticism is not warranted you give it anyways, so when it IS warranted, you just sound like a broken record.

    I wait for the next game when he plays well to say..Huet saved our butts! Which has happened MANY times in the past.

    From what I saw, he had a chance on the first goal. all the other ones he had no chance on.

  26. The Teacher says:

    Happy New Year all!!

  27. likehoy says:

    we should have played price as our 6th dman…
    he coulda been volchenkov…and price seems like a good puckhandler and skater ;)

    missed the game but glad to hear Kovy got the C…has there been any other interim C holders other than kovy while koivu has been captain?? i think recchi might have had it for a few games but anyone else?

  28. Ed says:

    Happy New Year to everyone, no exceptions. I wish you all the best, & may our Canadiens continue to improve & prosper. A special Happy New Year to Mike Boone who keeps us all entertained, both during the game & the morning after. Thanks Mike.

    Mike, you mention your daughter & the Montreal – Russia game on New Year’s Eve 1975 as being very special. I can relate to you there as our second son was born that night, & I got to see the 1st & 3rd periods. Unlike you, our Doctor did not want fathers in the delivery room. It was a great night all around.

    I look forward to getting back here to read the posts in a couple of days as we are now leaving for a New Year’s Eve dance some 50 miles away, & there is more snow coming. Happy New Year!

  29. jimbo82 says:

    3-1-2 boone i know we all wanna forget the dallas game but….it happened

  30. RetroMikey says:

    I’ve always said that those who follow or support the Hamilton Bulldogs are the most knowlegable Habs fans, period!

    We are showing results slowly but never give up hope about a Stanley Cup Parade in 2008! I’ve said it all along that when we make the playoffs (I predicted 5th place before the season), we will surprise a lot of skeptics and Habs fans and sportswriters out there! In Bob and Guy I trust totally 100%!

    “We will win the Cup only with Carey Price in the nets”

  31. the Maritimer says:

    ebk: Very good analysis. However, I have to disagree on one point. You stated that the goaltending has not cost Montreal a game this year. I can remember a couple of instances of weak goals being let in, in particular one by Matt Stajan of the Leafs in the Bell Centre from well out, with about two minutes left in the game. That’s when I abandoned the Huet bandwagon and don’t ever intend to get back on.

    Huet, to me, is an adequate goaltender at best. I find that he gives up a lot of late in the game goals, just as he did last night. He has a very hard time closing out tight games. Sure, give him a 4 or 5 goal lead like the two games in Florida and it’s no problem. I think Carey Price has won mostly nailbiters, but I could be wrong.

    If Huet does not re-sign with Montreal (which I doubt will happen) I won’t be unhappy. Even better would be a trade, including others of course, for the elite player the team needs to really be competitive with the likes of the Rangers, Devils, or even the Senators.

    The rest of your observations are spot on. I also like the youth this team has to build on.

  32. Guy21 says:

    I agree-this will only get better as the year goes on.The brothers K are really good on the PP as they never stop skating and passing.I really like the improvement of Streit and Bouillon this year,both having a great year.I was glad to see Chipchura back-I think he is the next Guy Carbonneau (same type of player)very savvy and mature for his age.I might want to think about someone ‘tougher’ on the fourth line. Tom K is likeable but not too big and even if he is willing to fight,he never wins.I’m not sure Jimmy Bonneau is the answer,you have to know how to hit and not just fight.If we did have a heavyweight who could protect his mates,Komi and O’Byrne would not have to fight and risk further injury.It seems like the other teams are aware that its easy to get Komi off his game and they don’t mind if their thug goes off for 5 minutes if they can get Komi off also(even if he doesn’t break a hand).
    Well its fun to see such great fans and read all your comments-Have a great 2008 and remember

    GO HABS GO

  33. P St. Pierre says:

    The game last night was heartbreaking, but at the same time, inspirational. To see the Canadiens dominate a highly skilled and defensively responsible team for most of the game was a treat. Despite being short a player (and not just any player), the Habs had a gutsy effort and were able to salvage a point.

    I agree that had Plekanec and Kovalev scored on that 2 on 1, the game would have been won. However, that line played hard all night long, so I can’t be too upset with that one missed opportunity. These guys are certainly fun to watch.

    Alex Kovalev is completely rejuvinated this season. I posted something similiar to this on the main page, but does anyone think that he would have been wearing the “C” last year in Koivu’s absence? I think besides Sergei Samsonov, he would have probably been the last choice. His play this season has been spectacular. He’s working hard, he’s not questioning Carbonneau (at least not publicly) and he’s clearly taken the number 2 line and turned it into the number 1 unit. I still think Andrei Markov is the best overall player on this team, but Kovalev is a close second in my books.

  34. J.T. says:

    Andrei Kostitsyn isn’t just a productive NHL player…in the last little while, he’s quietly become a point-per-game player, with thirteen in his last twelve games. He and Plekanec are marvelous together, and the revelation that Kovalev has become this year doesn’t hurt him either. He has all the tools, and we’re starting to see him put them together and justify his 10-overall selection. My favourite moment from last night’s game was when Andrei scored his first goal, and Sergei was on the bench, grinning from ear-to-ear as he waited to high-five his brother. The sibling factor definitely plays into those two’s production, and I hope to see it continue.

    The only weak link I saw last night, aside from Hammer’s whiff on the winning goal, was Dandenault. He made a couple of coverage errors that cost them…particularly on the second goal. But even he wasn’t terrible. He just made the most obvious mistakes.

    I just hope Koivu’s not contaminating anyone else, and they can bring the road magic to the Bell.

    The team might not win the Cup this year. But you know what? Everyone was sooo high on the Pens last year, with their core of youth and their hot run at the end of the season that they were given status as a contender. Then against Ottawa it turned out that if you can shut down Crosby, you can beat them. The Habs are just as young and exciting, but with better balance up front, better defence and the kind of goaltending most teams dream about. I wouldn’t rank them as a contender yet, but certainly a dark horse. If they get in there, it just takes a little magic!

  35. paul b says:

    carb.will raise the banner (: (soon)

    Teach where have you been till 9: in the morning LOL ………….

  36. paul b says:

    carb.will raise the banner (: (soon)
    hay Teach It would have been a good game if the were not so many changing back and forth.glad for Sid though.

  37. kevrob says:

    yeah i am in indianapolis…no hockey here.

  38. Yeats says:

    I’ve played in conditions like that and it’s really tough on those of us who wear visors. Unless, of course, you get one of the really pricey models with battery-operated windshield wipers.

  39. Erik says:

    its on NBC here where I am on one of the american affiliates the Buffalo one

  40. The Teacher says:

    Man oh man, Do I ever wish I could be out on the ice in buffalo today. what atmosphere, what conditions, awesome. My heart is warming at the sight :)

    Getting goosebumps :)

    good to see all the players laughing and smiling.

    Hahahaha! what a play by Crosby. you can tell he played on outdoor ice. gonna be funny to see the puck stick in the snow.

  41. Xtrahabsfan says:

    I hope you all feel better than I after the New Years ,LOL…And I just wanted to bring up one last thing I noticed in the 3rd against the Rangers.Iam one of those Habs fans that is really hoping the size of the team GETS WAY BIGGER….whenPaul Mera of the rangers grabbed two habs and squished them into his chest during a little scrum between the teams,I really felt it so intimidating as to of changed the whole game at that point and then,WE GOT RUN OVER !

  42. kevrob says:

    lol NBC is showing Montel Williams in my local viewing area.

    This whole game is a marketing ploy and Bettman can’t even get national coverage. The only thing on in Indiana at the moment is college football…I miss Montreal.

  43. Erik says:

    RDS NBC CBC dont need any more than that

  44. kevrob says:

    Is RDS the only channel showing the winter classic? I just looked online at the scheduling and that is how it seems. Centre ice isn’t showing it, it’s not on the NHL network either. Ridiculous, with all this hype and it is not even being televised. What assanine marketing is that, way to go Buttman.

  45. The Teacher says:

    Wow, just getting in..and it’s 9:51AM

    Go Habs Go.

    I don’t know if I’ll be able to stay up and watch the winter classic, but I’m sure gonna try

  46. howtathor says:

    Gee it’s quiet! Hope everyone had a good new year’s. Waiting for the Winter Classic to start at 1 pm. ESPN classics is showing the Red Army New Year’s eve game at 10 am. Ahhhh the good ol’ days!

  47. Moey says:

    As long as we have a cup by 2010, that will be one every decade at the very least. We can build from there, I’d like to see 3 for the next decade.

  48. JF says:

    Mike, I’m glad to see you so positive about last night’s game. My biggest fear before the game was that they would come out flat, as they have a tendency to do against really strong teams, and that it would end up being no contest. But from the first faceoff they skated hard, forechecked well and really took it to the opposition. At the end of the first period, when it was 1-0 Rangers and Habs fans might have thought, “Oh well, they’re down a goal, game over…” I had a feeling that this might be the night when they would turn it around and come from behind. They then came out and played perhaps their best second period of the season. If one of their missed opportunities had clicked, they would have done it. But from about the 12:00 minute mark of the third period, it was obviously only a matter of time before the Rangers scored. The Habs were falling back, zone clearance was becoming more laborious, the Blueshirts were crowding the net.

    Nonetheless, and despite Hamrlik’s gaffe in OT, this was a very good game for the Habs. You pointed out the individual positives, but the overall positive is that the team as a whole is becoming stronger. They’re playing with more confidence, more determination and more character. They’re learning how to play against really tough teams. when the only way to win is to work hard the whole game and seize every opportunity. Once they learn how to score an insurance goal or to protect a one-goal lead during the last few minutes of the game, we’ll be in business.

    A couple of weeks ago I watched the third period of a game between Buffalo and Carolina, in which Buffalo were up by a goal. They skated hard, moved the puck well out of their zone and gave Carolina few chances. I could tall that there was no way Carolina was going to tie the game – quite the opposite feeling I had during the last few minutes of last night’s game. But the Habs are learning. The end of this game reminded me a bit of the afternoon game against Ottawa early in the season. Leading 1-0 in that game, we didn’t even manage to hang on for a regulation tie; last night we did. With a young team these things take time to learn. But progress is being made.

  49. krob1000 says:

    I was about to say the same thing about Mike being so darn positive. There really wasn’t much to be negative about. I am glad you noticed Ryder’s two way game because many posters either turned a blind eye or just have blind eyes when it comes to Ryder (Brisebois, Lats and Huet too).

    JF I think the emergence of Kosty sr., Kosty jr., O’Byrne (before the injury), Lapierre, Las, Price, etc. is making all of these guys believe again. I sound like a broken record on here with my ramblings about confidence but it’s importance cannot be overestimated. These guys are starting to believe (the older guys) that the youth really is as talented as we have been led to beleive and they must battle if they wish to be a part of a very bright future.

    The guys seemed to have fun this weekend and that comes with confidence and vice versa.

    As for the last few minutes…..I too was clockwatching and had a very uneasy feeling. We aren’t adept enough yet at trapping and it is very frustrating to watch us let up at times when you know we can kep pushing and probably have better results. I curse in my rec room and mumble under my bre4ath like everyone else as it happens but once their is a commercial I usually calm down and ask why???
    It is really quite simple and a part of the learning process.

    While it would be easier and more entertaining to us to keep up the pressure and press the action the reality is that all of the good teams are capable of slipping in and out of a defensive mode. We are not. We need to be. Therefore we learn on the job. With this will come some crushing collapses, uneasiness, near heart attacks and eventually a stronger hockey club that will one day perfect the defensive shutdown.

  50. krob1000 says:

    I thought that Jagr goal was just the result of a really good pass by Gomez. He did it a couple times throughout the game. Kovalev almost got burned another time as he stopped skating for just a second coming back and Gomez immediately rifled a bullet pass to someone(can’t remember who) and they got a decent chance. I really noticed this because of thw accuracy and speed at which he hit Jagr in the slot on that goal.

    He is a special passer and playmaker and guys better get into passing lanes or he will make them pay. I do know what you mean about the passive forecheck but I really don’t think that goal was anything other than the result of two great players hooking up on a great play. I admit I don’t remember the breakout from their end but the defenseman (Hamrlik??) backed in a hair and the forward had let up (our backchecker) and given the tiniest bit of time and space those guys (Gomez and Jagr) can kill you.

    Mjames you must have had a great time as that was an awesome game to see. Kovy returning to New York and tearing it up must have helped the already electric atmosphere that is MSG.

  51. mjames says:

    I was at the game last night and I have few observations.

    The Habs out skated the Rangers for most of the game. Even during the latter stages of the game the Rangers were not overwhelming us. They simply made the most of their limited chances.

    Kovalev played his best game this year and was the best player on the ice. I guess since he was wearing the C, he wanted to lead by example and that he did.

    Ryder played a strong two way game. If he can do that on a regular basis he is a keeper, maybe not at $2.9mm but he is someone the Habs can use. He almost took Lindquist’s shoulder off with one of his shots. During the following stoppage in play after the shot, you could see Lindquist trying to work off the effects. That guy can shoot.

    AK46 seems to playing with more confidence. His backchecking is certainly improving. It still needs work but if his confidence continues to grow this kid is going to be good.

    I could name other players that played well but I would probably end up naming the whole team.

    I do have one negative and that relates to my ongoing complaint I have with our passive four back style. This led directly to the Rangers’ second goal. We let the Rangers carry the puck right into our end (top of the circle). Jagr was trailing in the slot. He took a simple pass, shot and scored. A more aggressive forecheck would have prevented that. Why Carbo persists on playing this style is beyond me. It works sometimes if we stay up at our blue line but when we collapse in, it leads to havoc or worse, a goal. I think this is the single biggest factor for our problems this year. If he would only change this style once in awhile we might be pleasantly surprised. He is certainly flexible in assembling his lines; I wish he would apply that flexibility to the team’s playing style.

    mjames

  52. RH says:

    Captain K will have a few days off to rest and recoup from his apparent flu bug. I am curious though, as to whether Mr. Locke will get a chance to play. I hope he does.

  53. HabsInBlood says:

    Wouldn’t that suck for him if was sent back down before getting in the lineup. His first call to the show (I think) and he didn’t get into the lineup because he equipment didn’t make it….

  54. RH says:

    I didn’t think the younger Kostitsyn was ready to play in the big leagues but, he’s looked good so far. I think he’s a better prospect than Grabovski in that he looks so much more durable on the ice.

  55. 24 Cups says:

    There has been some discussion on different threads about the negativity of some posts, whether it be about the team, individual players, or Carbo. I think part of the problem is that as a group we sometimes get too focused on the moment – we sort of live and die from shift to shift, and game to game. It’s a reflection of the deep connection we feel toward the team. By doing so, we may lose perspective of the big picture and where the team is really going. Maybe our emotions get in the way of our thoughts and observations. It seems that people in life can sometimes find it easier to see the glass half empty rather than half full. At times, I know that can certainly be true for me.

    Anyway, they say you should lead by example, so I will. I haven’t been a great fan of Andrei Kostitsyn ever since we drafted him in 2003. There were other players that I wished we had selected and he has been slow to develop in comparison to his age group. I’ve been critical of his play and consciously viewed him in a negative light. I thought this was the year he should break through, especially seeing who he gets to play with as linemates. Well, Andrei certaintly stepped up last night – it had to be his best game as a Hab. He was flying around the ice as he contributed to all three Montreal goals. He gave us a glimpse of the goal scorer that we so desperately need. So I will eat my words and admit that I may be wrong about this guy. Andrei K. won’t be 23 until this March so I’m sure that last night’s fabulous performance was just an inkling of what’s to come. I hope that the champagne kills the taste of the humble pie I’ll be eating tonight as we usher in 2008. My glass will start out half full although I’m not sure it will stay that way as we approach midnight:-) Cheers to everyone on the site.

    The Original 24 Cups

  56. RH says:

    At the beginning of the season he looked kind of fragile on the ice. Since his brother was called up though, he seems to have toughened up. Hopefully, he’ll become an impact player on this team for years to come. You know, when you think about it, Habs fans in there 40’s 50’s and 60’s can talk about when they used to watch Beliveau, Richard, Dryden and Lafleur with pride. Those of us in our 30’s have Patrick Roy to hold on to in our memories but, I am a bit concerned as to what younger Habs fans, in there teens and early 20’s have to look forward too. Carey Price is a young blue chip prospect that carries the weight of future generations of Habs fans on his shoulders. Who else will help carry the load?

  57. krob1000 says:

    I really wish I could understand what Brunet and Demers say after the games. If I understand the first topic I leave it on otherwise i just change the channel. Everyone on here seems to respect their opinions so I feel like I am really missing out. I like Dave Reid of the NHL Network, Pierre Mcguire, Ron Maclean and after that it gets pretty thin. Many of the other commentators just see the team from a distance (read the odd article and see the highlights and not the whole games and it is obvious). That is what attracted me to this site was the intelligent and in depth analyses of the staff and posters. This has got to be as knowledgeable of a hockey blogging community as there is.

    I wonder if the segment you are referring to was a direct result of the World Juniors as that has been a focal point of the Juniors coaching for years (the puck support). It is funny they said that because there were a few times where I actually thought the opposite and wondered to myself what the reason for the difference in mentalities (Juniors and pros) must be. I know we do it deep in our own zone and deep in the offensive zone but in the neutral zone we are often caught flatfooted and can’t really offer any support. I also think sometimes the fact that Pleks, Kovy, Higgy and Koivu are so good in one on one battle situations that guys may get out of the routine (if it is supposed to be part of their routine).

  58. HabsProf says:

    Anyone know why Locke was the call-up instead of Grabovski? The Habs seemed so high on Grabs earlier this year that I would have expected him to be the first call-up. I realize they decided he wasn’t NHL ready, but I still thought that he would have been the one.

    Has he been sulking/dogging it in Hamilton since his demotion?

    BTW, I’m not advocating for Grabs over Locke – I’m just curious.

  59. ebk says:

    He is hurt as far as I know

  60. ebk says:

    The Kovalev,Plekanec, Kostitsyn line was amazing last night. Quite simply the best line on the ice for either team. Kovalev is playing as well as he ever has, leading the two youngsters to new and exciting heights. Plekanec is giving Koivu a run for the top center on the team and Kostitsyn is emerging as a productive NHL player. He really reminds me of Chris Higgins after the All-Star break two years ago.

    Andrei Kostitsyn is going to be an excellent NHL player. He has a great shot, is very strong on the puck and has very good vision on the ice. His pass to Plekanec was a beauty that demonstrated his ability to see the ice. I get a chuckle out of the stuff about his brother being better than him. Clearly not the case right now, Sergei looks like a keeper as well but his big brother is the best player in the family by a fair bit at the moment.

    The above being said, Sergei is not to shabby either. For a 20 year old, he is playing as well as can be expected. He is quite a different player from his brother. Not as strong yet, but seems to be a bit more creative and faster.

    I can not stress enough how big a difference the kiddie corps has made. The Habs now throw out 9 quality NHL forwards every night. That was not the case earlier in the year. If the Kids can continue their progress and Ryder can produce at the level he should, this team should be able to compete with any team in the East on most nights. Lapierre and Sergei should have broke camp with the team but at least that mistake has been rectified. At least now with Carbo’s desire to roll four lines, they have three who can compete with anything the other team has.

    If Gainey can either upgrade the 4th line or Carbo can realize he needs to ride the other three more, the Habs may take the next step in their development. Here is hoping.

    Just a final word on the Habs goaltending. I can not remember a game that their goaltending has cost them this year. I can remember quite a few that they have either stole or made more respectable because of their outstanding performances. Huet is a fine NHL goalie and has been the biggest reason along with Carey Price, why this team is sitting where it is in the standings. They give the team a chance to win every game the team plays. That is all you can ask of your goalie.

    It kinda amazes me how fans of either Huet or Price, feel the need to rag on the other. I like them both, Huet is probably in his final season as a Hab and has been outstanding for three years now. Price is showing that Gainey was absolutely correct in keeping him up at the start of the season. Both give the Habs as good a goaltending as there is in the NHL. If the Habs can make the play-offs, their goaltending is good enough to steal a series and after that you never know.

    I truly believe that with the infusion of the kiddie corps, this team is close. All that is needed to threaten the elite teams in the NHL is another top six forward and one more top four defenseman. If Gainey can manage to bring that to the team this year, I like the Habs chances.

    Thanks for reading

  61. krob1000 says:

    A pleasure to read!! Thank you.

  62. Mike Boone says:

    Excellent analysis.

  63. P St. Pierre says:

    Great post!

  64. krob1000 says:

    In all fairness to those saying Sergei is the better Kostitsyn I think they are taking age into consideration. I think they are going to be a great pair to play together as they will compliment each other pretty nicely. It looks like Andrei probably spent a lot of time coaxing little brother into passing him pucks as it is apparent who the passer and the shooter is. They look a lot like the Sedins in style as Henrik always seems to be the playmaker and Daniel is the triggerman.

    As for the inevitable debate for years to come…only time will tell. I think playmakers and offensively minded fans will think Sergei’s style is more appealing whereas it will likely be Andrei eventually lighting the lamp and reaping a larger share of the glory. I am so excited about these guys and the makeup of our propect pool is far better offensively than I thought.

    I have mainatined all along that we are a top six away and now more than ever I beleive that. We are actually nine forwards deep and moving closer to my dream of a Carolina, Detroit or Ottawa like lineup (three potential scoring lines and one grinder line). Now with the success our young guys are having maybe it is just a matter of time. This team could very easily surprise come spring but at the same time we better not yet get too excited about this year. Growing pains will return and as long as we continue to look beyond boxscores and nightly performances it is obvious that we are gaining momentum in our quest to return to glory.

  65. HabsProf says:

    A couple of points about the Sergei-Andrei comparisons. First, I don’t believe most are saying that Sergei is currently the better player, but I do believe they feel he has more hockey sense, that one thing that can not be taught. It certainly seems that he had, from the first game, a better idea of what to do and where to be on the ice, than brother Andrei had when he first came up.

    Of course, that may come from playing with Koivu and Higgins (now Lats) as opposed to playing with Kovalev, who at times forgets he has linemates, but that is another matter.

    Second, Andrei comes with higher expectations – he was a first-rounder (10th overall, if memory serves) and so we compare him to that standard, one to which he so far (repeat, so far) has not met. Brother Sergei was a late rounder (7th, 200th overall) and anyone that makes the NHL from that level is a bonus. We therefore tend to evaluate Andrei more critically and Sergei less critically. We have all seen the posts where people say “we could have had ________” (insert Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, or others) instead of Andrei. Anyone able to name a single other 7th rounder from 2005, let alone one that we would rather have compared to Sergei?

    Having said all that, I have no doubt that, if the Habs had a must win game and could only dress one Kostitsyn, Andrei is currently the better choice. I believe most Habs fans agree.

  66. P St. Pierre says:

    You are right about Gomez, when he’s on, he’s on. In my books, his passing skills are only surpassed by Thornton, Crosby, Spezza, and Savard. He’s definantly a dangerous player.

  67. TommyB says:

    Yeah, I don’t know anything regarding injury but that might be the reason. But I like to see different players brought up now and then, even if only to demonstrate that you are being monitored and not completely buried in the minors….sends a good message.

  68. TommyB says:

    Kind of reminds me of the Stastny brothers. A pleasure to watch the two play together and while most might agree that Peter was the better, Anton was no slouch either and would have been a welcome addition on any team.

  69. krob1000 says:

    The Stastny’s a pleasure to watch????? At least the Sedins are in the other conference lol. I was only a sprout of a Hab fan and I still remember the Nordiques beating us out on that goal where Stastny (or Hunter but I believe Stastny) backed in over the blueline and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t offside (but apparently he had possession so it was o.k.). Peter Stastny was huge contributor to my delinquency as a child as my Dad and his friends would have a pop or twelve and watch the games and without fail it seemed Stastny would be instrumental in something that led to a lot of cursing and swearing. I learned more than a few swear words watching the Habs games back then and Stastny was responsible, I’m sure, for more than anyone at the time.

  70. JF says:

    I believe you’re right. But it seems to me that as well as shutting the other team down defensively when we’re protecting a lead, we also need to keep attacking. I think we had 3 shots on goal in the third period. More shots and a stronger attack would have interfered with the Rangers’ focus as well as using up valuable time and not tiring our defense. The more time we spend in the opposition’s zone, the fewer will be the occasions for making mistakes or panicking in our own. Attacking constantly would also give us the momentum. That is what I saw from Buffalo in the game I mentioned; they never let up on the attack and did not get into the kind of running around, panicky zone clearing attempts that we see with our team late in tight games.

    But I agree that we can see confidence and self-belief developing and that a lot of this is due to the excellent play of the kids and their energizing effect on the veterans. The team is really starting to gel and can only get better. I don’t think we’re a serious Cup contender this year, but I do think that we might finally move from being a team that scrambles for a playoff spot and either just makes it or just misses it to one that makes it easily. In other words, this year could see us progress from being a mediocre team to being a good one.

  71. krob1000 says:

    Yes, I have wandered down this same path you are on several times and I agree that the best defense is offense…..unless the other team is better than you offensively. I am not anymore certain of this than Carbo is of the line combinations next game. I just can’t think of any other reason why we would continually take this “shell” approach given its lack of success. That is why I tried to think on a larger scale and understand why people as smart as Gainey, Carbo, Muller and Jarvis would be doing this (allowing us to surrender leads over and over).

    Then you look long term, and think about the successful teams around the league (not one year wonders but perennially successful teams like Ottawa and Detroit. As much offensive talent as they have the are stellar defensively and have always maintained a defense first approach (the Sens sent Spezza back to teh AHL when he would have been one of their best players to work on his defensive game). We have Plekanec, Higgins, Komisarek, Chipchura, O’Byrne,etc and it is apparent that the team is interested in players who can be equally effective ion both ends of the rink.

    As frustrating as it is Gainey has done a masterful job (with a lot of help from his friends) at changing the culture (or should I say restoring the culture) and the days of Montreal being a laughing stock will be no more. He is not here to win a cup this year (he has no need to). He is here to restore order to the organization that made him who he is today.

    If this means sacrificing a few leads (maybe even missing the playoffs for another year) here and there but ultimately produces the necessary mentality and skills to be a complete team than I am all for it. Given the reputations and experiences fo our staff I cannot come to any other conclusion unless I simply concede that Carbo is mentally unstable and noone is offering to help him. There are too many great minds at work for that to be the case so I am going with this theory and am willing to squander a few more leads here and there for the greater good.

  72. 24 Cups says:

    Agreed. I also think you can mention the influence of Scotty Bowman in this regard. As offensively gifted as his teams were, they always had to buckle down and play defense to protect the lead early in the third period. There were no exceptions – Lafleur, Lemaire, Shutt, and Cournoyer all fell in line to the doctrine of defense first.

    The Original 24 Cups

  73. JF says:

    I agree completely about defense. The elite teams focus first on defense and ensure that their offensive players also have strong defensive games. It seems clear, from the coaching staff to the choice of draft picks, that Gainey is going this way, and I have no complaints. But we are not a team like the New Jersey Devils, and our attempts to play any kind of trap rarely succeed. We are much more like the Sabres and it is when we play like them that we have success, the keys being speed, puck possession and offense. I don’t mean here that we don’t need a strong defensive game, just that we shouldn’t try and play any kind of trap. Another poster said that we should play the third period the same way we play the other two, even when protecting a lead. We have to keep skating hard, forechecking and attacking. When we fall back to the blueline and try and fend the other team off, the same thing happens every time: we end up with one point. Had we played the whole game the way we started, some of those OT or shootout losses, including perhaps last night, would have been regulation wins.


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