About last night …

NikolaiKhabibulin

Your Montreal Canadiens held the visiting Edmonton Oilers to 14 shots on goal.

The Canadiens took two minor penalties while enjoying the man advantage six times.

The Canadiens pretty much matched the visitors in hits and blocked shots, while winning 56 per cent of the game’s faceoffs.

They lost anyway.

As was the case on a Monday night two weeks ago, the Canadiens were stoned in their own barn by a hot goaltender.

On Oct. 24, it was Jacob Markstrom, an unknown who made 40 saves in a 2-1 win. Florida has since returned Markstrom to the AHL.

Nikolai Khabibulin (photo by Christine Muschi of Reuters) won’t be going to the minors any time soon. He is the hottest goaltender in the NHL, and the Bhulin Wall was unbreachable in stopping 28 of the 29 shots the Canadiens fired at him.

Jacques Martin said the Canadiens had 17 scoring chances against a hot goaltender and a team that has surrendered the fewest goals in the league.  The Canadiens hit the post a couple times and surrendered goals on a Tomas Plekanec error and a deflection that eluded Carey Price.

They could have won the game.

But they didn’t.

And while there were several praiseworthy performances, the team has dropped six of the eight games they’ve played at the Bell Centre this season and face some daunting math as they hit the road to Phoenix and Nashville.

The Canadiens are 14th in the Eastern Conference with 12 points. Martin has hypothesized that 96 points will be needed to make the playoffs.

The Canadiens need 84 points in their remaining 67 games, 35 of which will be played on the road.

It’s too late at night and I’m too much of a math spazz (hit the wall with freshman Calculus) to figure out the combinations of wins and Overtime/Shootout points the Canadiens will have to fashion to punch their ticket to the dance.

Suffice it to say it won’t be easy.

This is shaping up as the kind of season in which nothing is easy … the more so because teams like Toronto, Ottawa and Florida are on the rise and hungry for playoff spots.

There are no gimmes on the Canadiens’ schedule, no opponents that this team can dominate easily.

The Canadiens are going to have to scratch and claw for every point. And having stumbled through the opening weeks of the schedule, they will need a lot of points.

And maybe the Canadiens are capable of putting together the kind of winning streak that will catapult them past a few teams in the standings. There were strong performances against Edmonton by Erik Cole, Mike Cammalleri, Max Pacioretty, Lars Eller and Brian Gionta.

I spent most of the night at the Bell Centre hoping Jacques Martin would put Lars Eller between Cole and Cammalleri. The Oilers size on defence and ferocious back pressure turned David Desharnais into a non-factor, and I agree with my colleague Patrick V. Hickey that DD is destined for duty on the wing when Scott Gomez returns.

Eller played with Travis Moen and Mathieu Darche, neither of whom complements a playmaking centre. Andrei Kostitsyn was missed … to the point where Martin tried Petteri Nikolainen on a line with Eller and Moen.

Nokelainen began the game centring a fourth line with Yannick Weber and Mike Blunden on his wings. Weber ended up being used primarily on the power-play, and Blunden played 44 seconds on three shifts. Heck, even Georges Laraque used to get more ice time than that.

None of the defencemen had a bad night, and Alexei Emelin made an auspicious return to the lineup with four hits in less than 11 minutes of ice time. I feared the young, fast Oilers would run Jaro Spacek and Hal Gill out of the rink, but that was not the case.

The power play is a problem.

Pleks’s turnover to Ryan Jones highlighted the difficulties he’s had playing the point on the PP. Martin alluded to “guys not there who could help” the struggling power-play.

He’s probably referring to Gomez, and the coach is certainly yearning for the return of Andrei Markov … as we all are.

As Hickey, Stubbs and I were saying in the latest HIO Puckcast, the Canadiens have PP point men who can shoot the puck – P.K. Subban, Weber, Raphael Diaz – but none of them gets his booming shot on net with any consistency.

The current state of the PP makes a fan nostalgic for Mark Streit, Sheldon Souray and James Wisniewski.

Heck, it makes you miss Marc-André Bergeron.

The Canadiens have about $1.3 million in available cap space, so Gauthier can’t really afford to rent a howitzer.

The general manager has to hope the return of Markov will boost the Canadiens past their dismal success rate of 12.7 per cent on the PP.

What percentage will they need to get to 96 points?

Hey, my Movember ‘stash is pathetic, but do I look like Stephen Hawking?

54 Comments

  1. Sal says:

    I meant Habs, Habs doggonit!

  2. Sal says:

    Hans play best when they play a physical game

  3. Michelob says:

    I can understand the disappointment that everyone is feeling at the Habs not winning last night (because winning is everything, they say), but I found it to be a very entertaining game. The Oilers have a great young team and are fun to watch. The Canadiens didn’t just run into a hot goaltender, the problem was that they weren’t getting the second and third chances, and that is thanks to the Oilers defensive play. I have found the Habs playing aggressive and passionate hockey more often than not, this season, and last night was a good example. I don’t get how anyone can say they were flat when they took the play to the Oilers all night and held them to 14 shots. That’s not the JM style that we used to see when they were continually outshot. I like what I’m seeing. The results will come. Be patient. And firing everyone is a dumb idea because then it’s back to the drawing board. JMO.

  4. Rickly33 says:

    Get use to it cause we’re going to see it all year. I’ll be very surprised if we make the playoffs this year.

  5. Hammer says:

    The Habs should bottle the cure for insomnia and sell it on the open market. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz

  6. Davery11Habsfan says:

    The Montreal Canadiens have the personnel (yes though some are injured) but this god forsaken “system” and JM’s whole philosophy needs to be changed and the best way to do that is…wait for it….fire him, and PG and please put BG out to pasture (like he’s not in the decision making process-lol). Snipers? yes we have them, goaltending, yes we have that, people for the PK, yes we have that, people for the PP, yes we have that too…but the team needs a big, huge, tremendous change in how we execute. I’ve been a Habs fan all my life but these last years (especially since JM) have been so tough to watch. To me, It’s like a horse race where they hold back on the reins on the best horse. For God’s sake, let then play the style they were meant to. Cammi on the Pk – give me a break, Darche/Moen on the PP, again give me a break and of course Plecks on the PP point…awesome player but geez…ITS NOT WORKING JM….(besides, by April he’ll be burnt out anyway). Wow, that feels better…thanks for letting me rant a bit…so frustrating watching my team play this way, game after game….oh one final thought….coach must speak french….give me a break…if it’s a problem, hire an official translator….Mr. Molsen are you listening????????

  7. WindsorHab-10 says:

    Is JM still around?
    That’s our biggest problem.

    “Hate Bruins like a sickness”

  8. Old Bald Bird says:

    While it was still 0-0 in the 2nd, Mike Johnson (?) on the CTV telecast said, “This is the kind of game that Jacques Martin loves.” He went on to say something like, “Play it tight and wait for the breaks.” Well, sometimes with that philosophy the breaks happen for the other team.

    Say what you like about Bulin or SOG, but I thought they came out flat with little intensity. This is a chronic condition with this team as they only come out with intensity against the big teams such as the Flyers or Bruins, and even then, not always. By the end of the game, they were beginning to find themselves, but it was too little, too late.

    When they showed a clip of Bulin’s heroics, frankly I mostly saw a guy making ordinary saves against ordinary shots into ordinary places. The team was simply out of sync for most of the match.

  9. Natrous says:

    I need some ho-hum, sky-is-falling-on-the-Habs told-ya-so’s from RM to make this loss feel real.

  10. port elgin says:

    Red is right as rain, where are the scorers? Despise the Leafs but Kessel sure as sh7t would have scored on some of those chances.

    I wish Boone would quit saying “your” Montreal Canadiens, this team full of goal less wimps is not my team.

    This is a sad era for habs hockey, very sad era.

  11. Higman says:

    [Molson's Kitchen]

    Me: ‘Morning, Geoff.

    Geoff: ‘Morning.

    Me: Pass the cereal, please

    Geoff: Sure.

    Me: Hey, what’s this new stuff?

    Geoff: Super Martin Flakes

    Me: Wow! These sound amazing. (Takes first bite) Ugh, these are awful!!

    Geoff: I know. I’ve been eating them for weeks, though.

    Me: Why in the world would you do that?

    Geoff: Been a little backed up. I heard Super Martin Flakes get “The System” moving.

    Me: What are these powder-blue things “floating” in here?

    Geoff: Those are Gomez marshmellows. Soft, small, and sugar-coated. No substance whatsoever.

    Me: Man, I hope you have your “movement” soon. This cereal is torture.

    —–
    When the tough gets going, the laughs start flowing. Like Price said, “Chill.”

  12. Exit716 says:

    Twenty years for nothing….no ones interested in what you didn`t do.
    Wheat Kings…Tragically Hip.
    The Montreal Canadiens 1993 to present.

  13. The Pickle says:

    The forecheck was not nearly as bad as some are making it out to be, many times the Habs had 2 forecheckers in on the Oilers D. Plekanec needs to stop being a baby about his being put on the point and be a professional. I don’t know why everyone was complaining about dump and chase on the PP, we barely did it last night. Instead we had Plekanec skating it out so slow turtles were honking at him and then making even slower passes to wingers who had no speed and were covered. He looks completely disinterested when skating it out of his zone and he’s the single biggest reason the PP entry was so awful last night.

  14. Higman says:

    I was excited about the team when they started being aggressive on offense and sending in 2 forecheckers. But Martin’s propensity to fall into a defensive shell is like the over-riding desire of a dog to return to his vomit. This team is in big trouble if it continues to turtle like it has been.

    And turtling is the attitude of this team – make no mistakes. Look at Gomez’s response to the media about taking hits. He says, “I avoid them.” And that’s not “Wayne Gretzky-you-can’t-hit-me” kind of talk. That’s “I’m-afraid-to-get-hit” kind of talk. Even Spacek talked like that in an interview last year when asked about fights.

  15. JayBee says:

    It’s no longer fun watching this team. I’ll probably be cancelling my RDS pakcage. Watching Habs games in the past (win or lose) used to be exciting.

  16. Marcusman says:

    We need to shoot the puck more. Leave Weber and PK on thew points on the power and let Emelin play every night…

  17. Bim says:

    Watched last nites snorfest…thought I was watching the leafs. Canadiens fans deserve better considering their storied past. What we have here is just simply a collection of very expensive 4th liners, grinders and guys who couldn’t score to save their lives. Very disappointing to watch! I would say a coaching change is in order followed up by a GM change. Lets start over with this team and inject a little offense and please, please, please get rid of that albatross Scott Gomez!

  18. RiverviewCanadien says:

    “The Canadiens hit the post a couple times and surrendered goals on a Tomas Plekanec error and a deflection that eluded Carey Price.”

    Price does not get a pass on that one in my books (how many goals has he surrendered in the 5 hole this year). He should have stopped that one, sure it was a turnover by Pleks, but in no way do I fault Pleks (or single him out rather). He is expected to do everything and I hope the next game he plays the half-boards on the PP, where he is more effective than anyone else that is put there. Without him, this team would be far worse for wear.

    Cammalleri is supposed to be our sniper…only thing he is sniping are posts.

    I could not believe the Habs out shot the Oilers, won more faceoffs, etc. It sure never looked like it watching from the platinum seats in my basement.

    The Bulin wall was great though…Price was not so great, but I won’t fault him either, not when the team has 6 PP and gets bupkis.

    • bleedhabs81 says:

      You won’t give a pass to Price but you do not fault Pleks?

      Seriously man. I love Pleks and he does do everything for this team, but a bad turnover is a bad turnover. He made a bad turnover… so, yeah, it was his fault that there was a breakaway.

      I have said this from day 1, just put a D back there on the point. Quite screwing around with Pleks. He is more dangerous when he can move freely in the zone. Plus, this is hurting my pool stats (faceoffs count).

      As for Price, those types of plays are 50/50. Jones made a good move and found the 5 hole when it opened up. Price had to move to follow Jones and was beat… good goal and not the goalies fault. What would you do differently?

      Price didn’t have to be great last night. He let in a break away (not his fault) and a Tip (from a turnover when they should have cleared the zone). He also bailed them out on another bad PP later in the game. I know your not blaming Price, but he should not even be mentioned in the same sentence as the loss… Once again, his team failed to score… he can’t win if they don’t score.

  19. slamtherimtim says:

    how about a real Markov update , can Boone go ask how he feels and when he thinks he will be back , pinning our hopes on one player is not the answer , one more will hurt bad ,

    there is winning and losing , we lost no matter how well we played,

  20. Higman says:

    Martin is thinking, “Markov is our only hope!”
    Coaches of other teams are thinking, “Markov will be our biggest target!”

    When Mr. Frail comes back, who’s gonna protect him from taking the big hits that almost always lead to injury?

  21. gatorhabs says:

    24th in the Eastern Conference!!?

    Things are worse than I thought.

  22. HardHabits says:

    I think the biggest mistakes Martin made:

    1) not playing four lines
    2) not sitting Diaz in favour of Emelin
    3) putting Weber as 4th line forward
    4) not bringing up somebody to replace AK46 (oh wait, we don’t have anybody to replace AK46)

    This team is nowhere near being a contender and their only hope is to start the mental process necessary to accept that fact. Once the Habs admit they are nothing more than final berth play-off junkies they will be half way there to kicking their habit.

    Yes the pain of a cold turkey is miserable but it is worth it once you come out healthy and alive on the other side. This organization is in denial. They make little moves and squander the future for the hope of entering the play-offs battered and bruised meanwhile teams around us build to be bigger and better. Other teams drop and fall and then rise again. Meanwhile the Habs finish middle of the pack, don’t draft high, and essentially squander the good work of Trevor Timmins by moving players for nothing.

    3 and a half games the Habs play an aggressive fore-check and roll four lines and win. Playing Martin’s beloved by him only System gets them 2 losses and almost squandered a picture perfect win (up until the rope-a-dope 3rd).

    I am disgusted with this team. Not because they might tank. But because they will do everything in their power not to and in so doing hurt the team ever more and for years to come.

    Mediocrity has a name and it is Canadiens.

  23. Habfan10912 says:

    So disappointing to watch this when I had such expectation. If Martin isnt let go soon we might as well set ourselves up for a high draft choice. How bout another American born defensemen we can trade away for an overpaid unproductive centerman. Grrrrrrrr.

  24. CanadienBoy says:

    So who are we trading, oh wait we just let them go, Mab, The Wiz and all those years in the top 5 PP with Capt. Kirk in charge this gone a be a long season

  25. Why won’t they score?

    I should hold a protest in front of the Bell Center, asking management to release the Goals?

    Do you think that would get my on the front of the Gazette, would that make them wake up? Oh my god I should.

    Shane Oliver from Brandon MB flew in yesterday (boy are his arms tired). The self-proclaimed World’s Greatest Canadiens Fan is here for a week to watch his favourite team play hockey. He’s holding a 24-hour protest against the Canadiens management to release “GS Goals” (Gotta Score Goals) who has been in solitary confinement for over 6 weeks. When asked why, Shane had this to say. “This isn’t the just a hockey team, this is the Montreal Canadiens. Other teams can lose year after year, and stack their team with number one picks, but all that represents is the big “L”. Teams like Washington, Pittsburgh, and Edmonton may have all the talent, but you know what, all that means is that they sucked for years. That’s not building from the draft, that’s not using your scouts. My son could make those first round picks. These guys (Canadiens players), need to stop just wearing the jersey and play hockey. They need to picks corners, score on power plays, and they need to stop making stupid mistakes that we all make playing pond hockey”.

    OK when I get to Montreal where is the nearest Staples? LoL

    OH and don’t be surprised if I actually do it, I’m retired, and there for a week anyways.

    Shane Oliver
    http://www.Sholi2000.com
    Brandon, MB,Canada
    R7B 2R7
    hockey@sholi2000.com
    Ph- 204 724 8418

  26. fun police says:

    frustrating game. I’m tired of watching Darche on a power play. He has no hands, and is he really that good in front of the net? Why not give Eller some pp time? As i said earlier, i don’t care if Moen has four goals, he’ll still end up with six by the end of the year. When Darche and Moen are your third line wingers, you’re in trouble. Gomez is a better player than DD, give him Cammy and Cole. Gionta has been struggling all year, Gomez would have at least 5 more points if Gionta had buried a few. i’m not excusing Gomez’s lack of production, but he’s better than DD at this point.

  27. jimmy shaker says:

    Losing games they deserve to lose. Losing games they deserve to win. Not having a tender stealing any games and leaving town before they get arrested, while that seems to be happening more and more often against themselves ( at least 3 or 4 times now). Might be turning into a very long season, with a major shakeup coming via the coaching ranks. In the end it could be a good thing, if the draft is deep next year!

    Shaker

  28. Chris says:

    Regarding the 96 point level:

    The Habs would have to play at something like a 40-23-4 clip to get to 96 points. I’m not sure that they have a 0.634 winning percentage clip in them, to be honest.

    Of course, I’m also not sure that 96 points will be required.

    Regarding “hot goaltenders”:

    Last night was a hot goaltender, but moreso a sputtering offence that would make Frank D’Angelo, the Cheetah commercial buffoon, look like a hot goaltender. But hey…they were just unlucky again. Eventually, after 180 games, their luck will turn, right? It can’t be that we have just assembled a roster of guys who aren’t particularly great at shooting in live-action hockey games…

    Looking around the rest of the games last night, some statistical gems:

    Drew Doughty scored his first goal of the season last night…looks like it isn’t just Subban that is struggling.

    Has Halak turned his season around? 2 goals against (on 54 shots) in his last 2 games, including his shutout last night. Ken Hitchcock will have a mighty say in how halak does.

    Buffalo’s offence is doing well, but do they have buyer’s remorse yet on Ville Leino?

    Shawn Matthias had a goal and an assist last night. At 6’4, 225 pounds and with a stirling junior career behind him, I keep waiting for the now 23-year old Matthias to break out. But he’s rapidly running out of time.

    But then again, look what a little patience meant for Kari Lehtonen. A 2nd overall pick way back in 2002, he has had a relatively poor career constantly derailed by injuries. But he’s off to a ridiculous start: 11-1-0, 2.12 GAA and 0.936 SV% for a team that many had pegged as battling for Nail Yakupov. (To be fair, the 2002 draft was terrible: the top scorers from that draft almost a decade later are Rick Nash, Alexander Semin, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Jarret Stoll, Joffrey Lupul and Matthew Stajan, while the best defencemen from that draft were Duncan Keith (54th overall), Tom Gilbert (129th), James Wisniewski (156th) and Dennis Wideman (261st).)

    Whatever water Nicklas Lidstrom is drinking, it must be bottled and fed to our defencemen! 6 goals and 11 points for the 41 year old this season? Sorry Crosby, Ovechkin, Sakic, Yzerman…there has been no better player in the NHL since the retirement of Lemieux and Gretzky than the gentlemanly Swede, and I’m re-evaluating his place in the pantheon relative to them as we speak.

    Everybody’s favourite whipping boy, Guillaume Latendresse, scored an empty-net goal last night. Now the obvious question is “What the heck is Guillaume Latendresse doing on the ice when the other team is pushing for a goal late in the game?”. I have no answer. :)

  29. SmartDog says:

    Hey, where is everybody?

    ————————————-
    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

  30. SmartDog says:

    I’m starting to think that missing the playoffs is the only thing that will fix this team. That, or a lot more shooting practice.

    ————————————-
    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

    • JayBee says:

      Nope. Cuz we will waste draftpicks to get rental players for a playoff push and finish 9th. The only way missing the playoffs helps is finishing dead last.

      We’re not making the playoffs and we’ll be giving up our future in an attempt to get there.

  31. SmartDog says:

    Tough game. Hit a couple of posts again. Generally dominated. Price was good. And lost.

    ————————————-
    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

    • stevieray says:

      tough game for Blunden….although I realize he’s not a ” differance” maker to have a player get 44 seconds of ice time ..??? we must be quite thin on talent if we just have a warm big body sitting on the bench for the whole game…pretty disgusting to me..and probably quite demoralizing for him.
      I’m getting sick of Martin’s game plan …if he has one . Hot goalie …hit posts..out hit ..out shot ……excuses..excuses.
      and what was with the 4 men on th eice when we had a 5 on 3 ??? bech coaches had ther head up there asses again .
      0-6 on the PP…..work in progress is a understatment !
      enough whining …of to the golf course @ 11….old timers hockey @ 4 …. retirement is tough !!!

    • HardHabits says:

      The only thing the Habs dominated was the boredom factor. One of the worst played games I have ever seen. Martin is useless and this should be his last year as coach.

      I hope the owners have decided on a contingency plan and by that I don’t mean a desperate attempt at making the play-offs with another gutting of whatever meager wares exist in an already bare cupboard.

      This organization hasn’t got a clue how to build a champion. Their only goal is making the play-offs. Big deal if they do. This is not a team that can win a play-off round let alone go deep in the after-season.

  32. Marcusman says:

    He would of been the 1st free agent I would of signed.

  33. port elgin says:

    Smarten up! A tough guy that can score , no way he plays for the Habs

  34. Habsolutely says:

    I wanted Souray and the hockey experts here lambasted me and said I was crazy. Never take anything anyone on this site says seriously, most of them are stats fans and don’t know squat about the game, and the rest are oldtimers with no lives who come here in a bid to make friends.

  35. HabinBurlington says:

    agree and agree and agree.

  36. HabinBurlington says:

    That is the issue jlgib, even if we sign physical JM won’t play. What is Blunden going to get benched until White comes back because of that penalty in New York? I mean really, how long will JM punish him for now. JM’s head is ratcheted so far up his sphincter it can never be removed.

    BUt play Darche till the cows come home because he tries. Well guess what, I can try hard too, but i have dick all for talent.

  37. WindsorHab-10 says:

    That’s why they both need to go.

    “Hate Bruins like a sickness”


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