About last night …

Pierre Gauthier, who is an assistant general manager for the Chicago Blackhawks, was in the pressbox Sunday night.
He could be seen deep in conversation with another former Canadiens GM, André Savard.
So here’s something to chew on while we wait for a puff of white smoke to emerge from the chimney of Casa Subban in Toronto:
If Andrei Markov had played 82 games last season, would Gauthier still be running your Montreal Canadiens?
Would Jacques Martin still be their coach?

Supplementary question for extra credit: If Smilin’ Jacques had been behind the Canadiens bench Sunday night at the Bell Centre, would the home team have won a game in which it blew a two-goal lead twice?

What a difference a new season is making?

Gauthier is gone. So are Martin and and mini-Jacques, aka Randy Cunneyworth.

Markov is back. And to the astonishment of some, including the know-nothing who live-blogs games of HIO, the defenceman is playing as well as he did before injuries wreaked havoc on his career.

Markov’s overtime winner against the Devils – what the heck was he doing down near Martin F. Brodeur’s left post – gave him four on the season. That’s more than any other NHL defenceman – including Erik Karlsson, the Norris Trophy winner the Canadiens will see twice this week.

At the age of 34, playing on a knee that’s had more surgery than Cher’s face, Markov is averaging 25 minutes of ice time through the Canadiens’ first four games.

The Canadiens’ power-play, which was 28th in the NHL last season, is ranked sixth through four games. The newfound efficiency is almost entirely attributable to the blueline magic being conjured up by Markov and his new PP partner, Raphael Diaz.

(Memo to P.K. Subban: Take your time thinking over the Canadiens’ contract offer. Really, man … no rush at all.)

At even strength, Markov has been paired with Alexei Emelin and has helped his homeboy emerge as a solid Top Four blueliner. Emelin could always hit through his debut NHL season, but the partnership with Markov has allowed the Russian Dman to move the puck with confidence.

Markov boosting a defence partner: Where have we seen this movie before? See KOMISAREK, Mike … who should be paying Markov a percentage of the UFA contract he got in Toronto.

The Canadiens’ OT win was the first over New Jersey on Bell Centre ice since March 11, 2008. Markov was held scoreless that night, but the Canadiens got goals from Bryan Smolinski, Saku Koivu, Maxim Lapierre and Michael Ryder. Carey Price stopped all 38 Devils shots.

Price made 22 saves Sunday night. He got some help from his goalposts, but good goaltenders often do.

Martin F. is a very good goaltender. A great one – arguably the best ever.  Heading into the game, Brodeur had surrendered all of three goals in New Jersey’s 3-0 start.

As was the case in that game five years ago, the Canadiens beat their Hall of Fame nemesis four times. But none of the aforementioned goalscorers were teenagers. The youngest player in the Canadiens lineup that night was Guillaume Latendresse.

Remember Gui! Gui! Gui! He’s Karlsson’s teammate on a very good Ottawa side that will provide a tough test for the Canadiens, Wednesday at Scotiabank Place and back at the Bell Centre on Super Bowl Sunday.

With the benefit of hindsight, it can be argued the Canadiens mishandled Latendresse’s development. Brought him up too soon, ladled too much pressure on a kid that was supposed to become a Québecois star.

The latest Great Franco Hope, Louis Leblanc, is playing in Hamilton.

And the latest potential star is playing like … well, a star.

Alex Galchenyuk had two assists against the Devils. He made a sublime pass to Brendan Gallagher for the latter’s first NHL goal.

It will be decision time on Galchenyuk after the Tuesday home against Winnipeg. The kid will have played five games, and general manager Marc Bergevin can either start the clock ticking on Galchenyuk’s pro career – with UFA implications down the road – or send him back to Sarnia of the OHL.

Fearless prediction: The kid sticks. Through four games, you can tell Galchenyuk has nothing to learn in junior hockey.

He and Gallagher have become the young darlings of the Bell Centre faithful, soaking up the adulation that used to be heaped on Subban. They did not look out of place against last season’s Stanley Cup finalists.

Driving home,  heard someone on TSN 690 saying the Devils have only two bona-fide stars, Ilya Kovalchuk and Martin F. It’s a mystery how anyone could come to that conclusion after watching Patrik Elias against the Canadiens.

The New Jersey veteran had a goal and two assists. He’s not flashy; but like Dainus Zubrus, Elias is a smart, hard-working hockey player who’s not going to let a two-goal deficit diminish his compete level.

A year ago, the Elias-sparked comeback would have shattered the confidence of the fragile Canadiens.

That was then.

Markov is now.

•  •  •

Credit David Desharnais, who has struggled to get the groove this season, with winning the faceoff that led to Markov’s OT goal … playing against his old team and his kid brother, Brian Gionta had seven SoG … The Canadiens have outhit their opponents in every game since the season opener … My favourite radio analyst, Dany Dubé, likes Rene Bourque and would like him even more if the big winger shot less and went to the net more … if P.K. signs, and I think he will, we’ve probably seen the last of Yannick Weber. He was brutal against the Devils – unlike D partner Francis Bouillon, who’s been terrific through four games


  1. Richrebellion says:

    I said it all through last season and I am not surprised that Markov is back to his usual self. Its pretty simple when you look at what makes Markov the elite player he is. He was never the most physical d man, nor did he ever really rely on just speed. The things that make him successful is his positional play, vision and hockey IQ. Having all those knee surgeries did not effect any of those things, it made him a little slower but all his elite abilities are still there.
    I find it funny how Boone was so critical of the Markov contract not too long ago and yet now it looks genius. Gauthier got a lot of hate but was a solid gm and made good moves. He did have his poor decisions like Kaberle but name me 1 gm in NHL history who never made a mistake and I`ll call you a liar. His tenure was more about injuries to key Habs which threw the habs into a tail spin last year. So give the guy some credit because 90% of the team you see on the ice is a result of his doing. He signed Cole who was solid last year and continues to contribute. He signed Markov for what some thought was a dumb contract but paying Markov around the same as the wiz is getting paid is gonna help the habs on the cap this year and next. He signed Diaz who has looked great so far. He got Emelin to finally come over and play for the Habs. He also drafted Gallagher which was a steal. The habs have a bright future due in part to his decisions and yet clueless writers will continue their blind hate.

  2. I have to think that those of you who are thinking of trading Eller don’t know much about hockey. Big,great stick-handler and tough( remember he dislocated his shoulder against Boston and came right back into the game.) Trade him and he will be a great two way centre for someone. All he needs is ice time ( at centre – by far his best position). Is Blunden a better player than White or Armstrong- god yes = bigger, stronger, better skater– please bring him up.

  3. RetroMikey says:

    Glad to see everyone happy on this site….but for how long?
    Playing goon teams like Philadelphia and Boston will show the true test of this team whether they can endure the physical play or not.
    Still too early to evaluate the team and whether it was a gamble move by Bergevin to keep Galcheynuk and Gallagher with the big club.
    Eller and Weber? What can I say but major disappointment s so far in this short season and I don’t see them blooming, they’ve had many chances to stick with the club. I’ve said many times that we were robbed in the Halak deal, Eller should have been sent down for more ice time in Hamilton.
    I don’t want the same mistakes happening to the 2 G’s we have, less ice time in the NHL= poor development.

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

  4. OnlyHabs says:

    I doubt he`ll get traded or whatever. My buddy told me he saw him and Plek scrap it out in a Miami airport though. So, even if he does come back, he might not be as good to the team as what`s going on right now. This team isn`t winning a cup and they`re playing super well. Only time will tell.

    Check out these bozos get all the scores wrong. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfiEni0Tyy8

  5. BJ says:

    Finishing 3rd from the bottom last year really paid off. Finally some youth that can play. As far as the decision to have sent Galchenyuk back to junior, I can think of a few players who could still benefit from that and its no one on our third line.

  6. SmartDog says:

    Agree or Disagree:

    Eller, if TRADED, is likely to become a decent 2nd line Center elsewhere.

    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

    • neumann103 says:

      Absolutely. If the Habs give up on him because of Therrien’s preconceived notions, it is also likely to reduce his trade value and the Habs will get little back and then moan and whine in 2 or 3 years when he is the 2way, shut down, secondary scoring possession machine for some other team

      “Et le but!”

  7. jedimyrmidon says:

    Regarding Eller:

    – Concerning talk about his type of game, I remember during shootouts last year, only he and DD showed any sign of stickhandling abilities. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Blues who drafted him seem to go for skill guys in the 1st round.

    – He’s a big center who plays a skill-based game (not power forward). You don’t just chuck those away at the first sign of trouble.

    – Most importantly, ALL (except for 7 games with the Blues and 2 games under Therrien) of his development at the NHL level has been under Jacques Martin as a 3rd line player. Folks elsewhere have commented that he doesn’t seem to play with a lot of confidence when he has the puck (treats it like a hot potato). I think that’s due to Martin’s system and coaching. It’s going to take time to undo that mindset.

  8. Trade P.K. to Edmonton for one of Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle or Yak.
    Good deal for both teams. What do you think????

    • mrhabby says:

      never going to happen…who replaces Subban on our end.

      • TwoTonTony says:

        Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu could step up…

        I agree with Luke though. Bergevin would have to spike the Oilers’ front office coffee with wacky juice to get them to trade away one of those three for Subban, given that his shining accomplishments so far have been to lead the defence corps on a last-place team, QB a horrible power play last season, and save up all his mistakes for really crucial times.

        I appreciate his energy and recognize that he has the potential to be a great D-man, but it’s a bit soon for him to be so high on himself.

        • wild flower says:

          The last place team was the one led by Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Yak. Along with Subban, their accomplishments are also in junior hockey. Defensemen are generally worth more than forwards.

      • The Cat says:

        Exactly, habs need a D coming back.

        [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

    • Luke says:

      Hahaha. Yah. I’m sure Edmonton would be all over that…

      I think it’s too early to be that drunk. (depending on your time zone, of course).

    • wild flower says:

      Wouldn’t likely get any of them….yet. It would take a bigger deal than one for one.

    • BK says:

      best not to comment, let the big boys talk.

      Time for changes

  9. commandant says:

    Due to the late start of the NHL season, and the early finish of the OHL year, one thing to consider is that Galchenyuk will play 24 extra regular season games in Montreal than he would have if sent to Sarnia. (44 games remaining for Montreal, 20 for Sarnia).

    This is clearly the best decision for his development. He’s ready to handle the minutes, He’s shown he can create offence at this level and won’t get stuck in a checking role, he’s playing less minutes than OHL, but its much tougher competition, and more games… so more to learn.

    I’m really glad the organization made the right call and is doing what is best for development of a guy who has little to learn in Sarnia.

    He’ll struggle here at some point, but I think that he’s so confident and such a hard worker, that he’ll be fine.

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

    • Luke says:

      I absolutley agree and I’d also like to add:

      I’d rather have him spend the time learning & acclimating now than at the start of next season. He’ll be good to go from Game 1 instead of game 25 (or whatever) next year.

      As for the contract? Who cares. He has to be signed eventually anyways. It doesn’t matter if it’s ’16 or ’17.
      He can play. Play him.

  10. mark-ID says:

    I’ve never really understood the hype around Couturier either. Mind you I havn’t seen him play a whole lot……the games I have watched him….he has never stood out.

    “I think I may have found a way for us to get Griffey and Bonds, and we really won’t have to give up much” -Costanza

  11. GuyDoon says:

    Just woke up… Has this been said here yet?
    @JohnLuTSNMtl: #Habs say Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien notified Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk this morning that they will remain with the team.

  12. jmsheehy19 says:

    Is there any chance DD and Eller switch spots on that line? I’ve never been a huge fan of Eller on the wing.

  13. Propwash says:

    You gotta think the lockout helped Markov get his groove back by playing in the KHL. I guess there is a silver lining to everything.


  14. parkex says:

    One more to chew on: If Markov was playing, would the Bruins have won the Cup?

  15. SouthOttawaHabFan says:

    A lot of talk on the net about a Subban for Couturier swap…

    Subban: dynamic offensive defenceman who plays physical, and can shut down other team’s top lines.

    Couturier: a bland, soft 3rd liner who scored 6 less points than Subban last year. We have likely seen the full extent of his ceiling. 29 teams would kill to get Subban, but I can’t say that any would be particularly interested in Couturier.

    c’mon MB, if we have to trade him, at least get a good return……..

    • sane hockey fan says:

      Hes not soft, hes a finess skill player. Even though hes done nothing to prove he deserves it, put him on the first line for 20 games with the best forwards on the team because hes so skilled. /s

    • Mad Habber says:

      Couturier at one time, a season or two before his draft year was consider the top prospect of that year. But he struggled and fell down the charts, then Philly put him in the line-up right away and he hasn’t done a lot there either. I think the Flyers rushed him, and he is probably a ruined prospect.

    • jmsheehy19 says:

      Seen the full content of his ceiling? You realize he’s twenty right? And that he has become a tremendous shut down center in his short time in the league?

      29 teams would be interested in both players.

      I wouldn’t trade Subban for Couturier straight up, but he’s going to be a very good player. Likely in the mold of Patrice Bergeron.

      • Mad Habber says:

        LOL well when you put it like that I guess I might be rushing to judgement.

        • jmsheehy19 says:

          Philly fans overvalue him to an insane degree (on HFboards, a majority said they wouldn’t trade him straight up for Subban, and some even said they wouldn’t do Subban and a 1st), but he will likely develop into a very good 2nd line center taking top defensive responsibilities.

    • habsnyc says:

      The Philadelphia fan sites are all saying that Couturier is way too much to give up to get Subban. The only thing more nonsensical than claiming no team would want Couturier is to suggest that he reached his ceiling in his rookie year.

      Blue, blanc et rouge. Red and White for Canada. Blue for Smurfs.

    • habsoul says:

      Haven’t we had enough stupid trades in the last 20 years? Just get the deal done with PK and let’s move on.

      It would be one thing if he didn’t want to play in Montreal, but he loves the white-hot glare.

      If the Habs win a Stanley Cup in the next few years, Subban’s name will be on the silverware.

      “When you are the Canadiens, you cannot make excuses.”
      — Henri Richard, on what it meant to be a Montreal Canadian

  16. Habfan10912 says:

    I am just in a gloat, get carried away mood today, but is there anyone else in the league who has a first step burst of speed that Eric Cole has?


  17. habs-fan-84 says:

    Even though I think MB is low-balling PK, I think PK should sign. At some point PK has to realize he has ZERO leverage. Theoretically, this debacle could go into next season (not that I think it will) and PK would still have no leverage.

    Ultimately, I think PK begrudgingly signs the deal MB has offered, and I think it will happen soon.

    It mus be eating away at him (PK) sitting at home watching the team come together without him…in a sense it’s like the train has left the station, he has to feel the pressure to want to “catch up” and jump on board especially when, and if, he comes to the realization that he has no leverage to speak of.

    • Les Canayens says:

      The team is in the perfect situation to get PK on the cheap. Judging from what MB said about looking at 3-5 years down the road instead of the immediate future, even if the Habs lose the last three games he’ll still hold his position in the negotiation. But not that the team is winning, like you said, the leverage is not on PK’s side.

      Having PK signed, begrudgingly or not, is always a plus for the team. Just imagine if, god forbid, Markov suffers a season ending injury by a fluky clean hit.

    • Mr. Biter says:

      If the “Low Ball” figure is correct PK has lost approx.$200,000.00 or $50,000.00 for each game he misses (roughly) from now on. Hope he’s been saving his schekels.
      Also now that Gomez is gone DD seems to be the whipping boy for many posters on this site.

      Mr. Biter
      No Guts No Glory

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