About last night …

Nabokov

On Wall Street and Bay Street, they call this a market correction.
When stocks have been trading too high for a while, prices take a tumble back down to something approximating their actual value.
Which is not to suggest your Montreal Canadiens are not much better – and may indeed be worse – than the team that was 10 points behind them in the Eastern Conference standings before the puck dropped.
But the overtime loss was a reminder, to the Canadiens and their fans, that early-season glory notwithstanding, this is not a team good enough to coast against anyone.
Not even the Islanders.

The game should have been done and dusted after 20 minutes. As has often been the case this season, the Canadiens played an excellent first period, outshooting the Islanders 14-3 and getting goals from Travis Mown, of all people, and a hot Max Pacioretty.

But the Islanders hung around, got good goaltending, capitalized on power plays and left Montreal with two points in the bank.

The game was a reminder, if one was needed, that the surprise Eastern Conference leaders are still susceptible to being surprised.

The Commentariat will be all over my ass for being a Negative Ned, but this team is still a work in progress. And there are issues.

• Andrei Markov has lost a step and maybe two. The veteran defenceman doesn’t hit anyone and studiously avoids being hit – caution that is understandable, given Markov’s history of injuries.

Raphael Diaz, Josh Gorges and P.K. Subban all had more ToI than Markov. The pairing of Gorges and Diaz were on the ice for three of the Islanders’ four goals. In the OT, with all that open ice, Gorges had more time than Subban. Go figure.

• Brian Gionta has three goals this season, and they were scored in the opener, game 3 and game 12. Gionta’s 46 shots on goal are second to Tomas Plekanec’s 52. Gionta’s shooting percentage is 6.5 – anemic, but better than Erik Cole’s 5.6.

When the Rangers visit the Bell Centre on Saturday, Brendan Gallagher should be ready to return to the lineup.

Michel Therrien won’t do this because it’s not the way you treat your captain, but I’d be tempted to try Gallagher in Gionta’s spot, with Plekanec and Rene Bourque.

The far greater likelihood is a reunion of the kid line, with Gallagher rejoining Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Prust.

He took two penalties against the Islanders, but I can’t see Lars Eller getting the Ryan White treatment. But I have no idea where Eller should be playing.

Look, one Shootout loss won’t have Therrien dismantling his lines. But the coach – whose press conference ended abruptly when some media wretch started talking on his cellphone – has some concerns to address.

The power play continues to sputter. And after a run of 11 successful kills, the PK was lit up for Matt Moulson’s two goals – one a tip and the other a wide-open look that you should never give a 30-goal sniper.

And what’s with the Canadiens and third-period leads?

• Third game of the season in Washington, the Canadiens take a 4-0 lead into the third period. They’re outshot 11-2, but Carey Price stops everything except a late goal by Joey Crabb.

• Super Bowl Saturday afternoon, the Canadiens trounce Buffalo … but they’re outshot 18-11 in the third priod.

• In the course of blowing a 4-2 lead and losing in a Shootout in Buffalo, the Canadiens are outshot 10-5 in the third period.

• With a 3-1 lead and 1:43 remaining in Tampa Bay, the Canadiens give up two goals before winning the Shootout.

• In the scoreless snoozer in Florida, the Panthers had a 13-9 shot advantage in the third period.

Against the Islanders, the Canadiens took a 3-2 lead into the final 20 minutes and managed a measly four shots at Evgeni Nabokov in the third period. The Islanders goaltender, who was better than Carey Price Thursday night, stopped them all.

Perhaps it’s the Canadiens’ lack of size – achingly illustrated by the valiant Brandon Prust dropping them with the Islanders’ 6’8″, 250-lb defenceman Joe Finley. A small team may get worn down after 40 minutes. And Team Smurf was playing its fourth game in six nights.

It doesn’t get easier. After the Rangers visit, the Canadiens play 11 of  15 games on the road.

We should know, by the end of March, whether there will be hockey in Montreal come May.

 

299 Comments

  1. Rocketnewfy31 says:

    Rocketnewfy

    b’yes come on with the with the negativity are you serious. Its actually quite funny they finish last last year and your complaining (understandably of course) and now the direction has turned a full 180 degrees and you still complaining? I think we all had enough negativity last year to last a life time lets enjoy it for what it is right now and that being on top if you ask me its a hell of a lot better then being on bottom. And for Boone saying that everyone else has more less games played its only Boston and they have 3 less so they have to win 2 out of 3 to get back on top pretty much everyone else has about the same amount of games played. Also tit for tat Boston has few less games played I can only imagine what their schedule will be like goin down the stretch come on man stop with the negativity and love it for what it is and thats being #1 like it should be. Peace

  2. DickandDanny says:

    If you, “Clay” believe based on the present standings that they are any type of true indicator about the chances of this squad competing for the Cup, or even making the play-offs, your the one who sadly doesn’t have a grip on reality. A good GM, any manager really, has to evaluate personnel, and performance, and they will recognize any weaknesses the team has and make the appropriate changes. Thank God you are not our GM. I have lived and watched this team for too many years to be fooled into believing the present roster is without deficincies that need to be remedied. Simply because we are the number one team in the east presently does not preclude us from that. Check all the standings incuding number of games played by other teams, ie Boston before making such a simplistic response. As I mentioned in my intial post, which you have taken issue with, yes we are competitive presently, but we are not yet at the elite level. That’s where I want the team to be. You on the other hand can remain being pretty good, which I assume is how you live your life. That’s my grip on reality. I doubt you have one.

    “A cannonading blast from the wing, by Lafleur”

    • Clay says:

      Here’s your mistake – I never said they will compete for the cup this year.
      My point is that this was a 15th place team last season, and they have greatly improved this year to the point where we are leading the East – however briefly; this is great progress, and I’m sure the GM is ecstatic with it.
      But why am I responding to a fool?

      __________________________
      ☞ The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. ~ Richard Feynman ☜

  3. BobDobbs says:

    Boone hit the nail on the head when he said that “The Commentariat will be all over my ass for being a Negative Ned”. There’s more than one Habs website and I’m frequenting this one less and less. Respectfully, it’s not a matter of pointing out problems with the team, it’s a matter of doing so in an extremely emotional and personal way that encourages readers to be egocentric and self-pitying about it, that reduces objectivity but that, admittedly, may be good marketing to attract the angry ‘masses’ to tune in to the website.

    • FunkyCrabChairNF says:

      You got that right. Driving sensationalism drives emotions which drives more hits to these opinions that are worth less than dirt. Stubbs is a good reporter, Hickey is okay, the Gazette as a whole is a journalistic joke.

  4. hockeymaniac31 says:

    Im tired of people calling this team small. Get rid of Gionta and DD and gally the smallest forward on the team is Plecky at 5’11. If you ask me just get rid of Gionta and put Gally in his place they would be better off.

  5. FunkyCrabChairNF says:

    “Go figure”. Nothing to figure, Boone, PK made a fool out of himself handling the puck in the d-zone in the 3rd period, two series that were particularly ridiculous. “Go to the eye doctor.”

  6. TheBoss says:

    The islanders are not that bad a-team. Their problem is on the back end. fix that and they’re a decent team. I think the Habs laid back a little too much and got burnt.

    Habs didn’t play a bad game. but you can’t under estimate any team today when you do you see the end results. I think that’s what happened last night.

    The Islanders are a better team than they’re showing in the standings …..

    • issie74 says:

      As the RDS Guys stated at the end of the 1st period … Islanders are not a good team. Do they honestly believe … someone in that dressing room does not speak french? or that all these stupid statements do not get back.

      NorthTOHab

  7. FunkyCrabChairNF says:

    Do sports journalists take their own see-saw, babbling opinions seriously? jw

  8. habsguy says:

    Scotty Bowmen, (arguably the best coach ever) had a theory, don’t get scored on in the first or last minute of a period, it sucks the life out of a team.
    He played his best shut down guys in those situations, I’m not saying PK is the best shut down guy in the league, BUT he is the best we have !!
    Check back, PK is always on the bench during those situations..

  9. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    For my fellow posters: The likelihood of your trade scenario is probably nil if your proposing to trade:
    1) a terrible contract (e.g., Kaberle)
    2) a aging veteran who is not worth his contract anymore (e.g., Gionta)
    3) a prospect nobody wants now (e.g., Leblanc)
    OR to trade for
    1) the best player on a team (e.g., Crosby)
    2) the best young prospect on a team (e.g., Huburdeau)
    3) un underachieving UFA (e.g., PM Bouchard)
    4) an underachieving young player with a contract (e.g., Brassard)

    I’m probably missing other criteria. Just trying to help out…

    • Loonie says:

      Bouchard and Brassard are exactly the kind of players who are attainable.

      Gionta is much better than you’re giving him credit for, as is Kaberle.

      They both also happen to have only one year remaining on their contracts. Not immovable.

      But I don’t see a reason to move Gionta unless this team is completely out of playoff contention. Which it won’t be playing in the Eastern Conference.

      • DDO_Habs_Fan says:

        Bouchard and Brassard are attainable, but I do not see MB trading for them as they are not playing well. Gionta is not worth his salary, especially next year. With the salary cap going down next year, Kaberle is untradeable. He is a buyout waiting to happen. The only way he gets traded is if you give someone the incentive to buy him out instead of you doing it (e.g., toss in a draft pick).

        • Loonie says:

          Gorges isn’t worth his, Price isn’t worth his, Cole isn’t worth his. Markov and so on.

          Gonna trade them all?

          Gionta may not be worth his salary to you, but he’s a complete player much like Tomas Plekanec.

          Worth his weight in Gold and even though he’s a small guy, that’s a lot.

          • DDO_Habs_Fan says:

            The point of my post was to explore the likelihood of a trade scenario occurring, not who I want to trade or keep. I don’t believe teams would be interested in Gionta because of his salary (unless the Habs are taking some back). Since you mentioned others, nobody would want Cole either (same caveat as above). Gorges, Price and Markov, even though overpaid to you, would generate a ton of interest. I just don’t see 99% of the trade scenarios proposed on this site ever having the chance of happening.

            The salary cap dropping next year is going to have an effect. The biggest will be making it more difficult to get rid of a veteran contract. We shall see…

          • Loonie says:

            13 teams need to acquire significant salary next season to hit the cap floor.

            The cap going down isn’t nearly as much of an issue as you’re making it out to be.

            And with regard to Gionta. Despite what you may think of him he’s a 20 goal scorer, captain, Cup winner who brings everything he has night in and night out. He also happens to be among the best defensive wingers in the East.

    • A guy like Brassard is a classic low-risk high-reward pick-up. Inexpensive to get, with a strong likelihood of okay play, and a small likelihood of something much more. He doesn’t happen to be the kind of player we need (i.e. big physical D-man or big physical faceoff-winning 4th-line centre), but that’s exactly the kind of bargain we should be looking for.

      And Kaberle is still a 0.5PPG player — don’t be surprised if we get a 3rd or even a 2nd for him at the deadline.

      Mike Boone: “With Gainey at my side, I’d walk into any dark alley in the world.”

    • durocher says:

      Anything is possible in trades. Exhibit A: Gomez trade from NY

  10. Cal says:

    More jocularity! New thread, peeps.

  11. durocher says:

    The chances of this happening are 0%, but WOULD you do this:

    Gio to San Jose for Ryane Clowe

    Clowe has size, is having an off-season in SJ, and his contract expires at the end of this season, whereas Gio is on the books for another year.

  12. durocher says:

    PK should be bumped up on the first PP unit and on the regular D pairings, in part because I think he’s played well enough to deserve it, and in remaining part because Gorgy-Diaz is not a great pairing.

    I also hope MB is looking at getting some size on D: O’Byrne and Erskine come to mind.

  13. CalgaryHab says:

    Tuned in to the 2nd half of the game last night – we’re lucky to come away with a point. Effort reminiscent of last years team. I know you can’t bring it every night and that it’s very hard to maintain the compete levels that they’ve been showing but c’mon – it’s against the Islanders and you’re at home.

  14. Luke says:

    Oh, amongst the disgrunting due to last night’s game; I just want to throw this out there:
    That tying goal by the Islanders (Neilson?) was an absolutely beautiful shot.

    Too often ‘we’ (fans/media) blame the goalie, I wanna give him props for that laser. Hopefully Galchenyuk will start bagging some like that… He’s got that shot, I think he just needs to find the “range”.

    We just need someone to win faceoffs consistently so he can get more practice. (hee hee… see what i did there?)

  15. commandant says:

    Part 3 of the Draft Rankings (#21-30)

    http://lastwordonsports.com/2013/02/22/nhl-draft-february-rankings-part-3-21-30/

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
    http://lastwordonsports.com/

  16. HabinBurlington says:

    Anyone from Montreal heading down to the Bell Centre to watch the Dogs tonight?

    • Mattyleg says:

      I am!
      Thanks for the reminder, I wanted to ask how they’re doing, who to look out for, etc etc.

      —Hope Springs Eternal—

      • Kooch7800 says:

        They are playing better as of late but still lack scoring. Dumont will impress you for a little guy he plays with a lot of spunk and really plays hard.

        Nathan Beaulieu is quite the offensive D man. Watch for how he breaks out of the zone with his passing or on the PP.

        Let me know how Leblanc is playing. I haven’t see a game with him the past few weeks.

        Tinordi you probably won’t notice that much as he is playing pretty much a stay at home style. That is a good thing. I think he will get more physical as he gets more confident in the league

        Not many people mention Greg Pateryn but I think he will be on the habs team in two years. He is a decent D man

        “Keep your stick on the Ice”

        • showey47 says:

          Pateryn was playing really well before he was injured. From what i read before his injury he looked the most nhl ready. IMHO,that would be because he was already used to playing against men at the college level while the rest of the D played against mostly kids in junior.

          • Kooch7800 says:

            You may be right on the men vs boys. I still think he will be a good cog for the habs in a year or two. He is big and can move quite well./

            “Keep your stick on the Ice”

        • HabinBurlington says:

          It will be interesting to see if they play Mayer or Tokarski. Mayer having just been up with the big boys but didn’t see the ice or Tokarski the obvious Bulldogs goalie of the future with Mayer signing in EUrope.

          • Mattyleg says:

            Cool, thanks guys!!
            Looking forward to it!

            (mind you the beer isn’t any cheaper…)

            —Hope Springs Eternal—

  17. Loonie says:

    Some thoughts about the team.

    When you live by the sword you die by the sword. This team forces turnovers based on effort and a system that is predicated on overwhelming the opposing teams’ puck carriers in every zone. The result with that style of play is either a dream come true or a nightmare. When you have active sticks and force bad decisions it works, when you chase without purpose or desire it goes terribly wrong.

    Further to that point. When the goal is to outnumber the opposing team on the perimeter, some of the opposing players are left open, and even though this team has played a third of its season it’s obvious that some players don’t know who they’re supposed to pick up on the backcheck. Nielsen got a beautiful scoring opportunity because Rene Bourque didn’t know he was supposed to pick him up or because he didn’t put in the effort, I’m giving him and others the benefit of the doubt here because nobody has really lacked effort.

    Teams still crash our crease too often. Lars Eller and David Desharnais shouldn’t be players who are counted on to clean up the front of the net before and after whistles. And they have been far too often. Most of us know the solution.

    Some suggestions…..

    – Move Cole to the left wing and force him to play out of his comfort zone.

    – Put Subban with Markov. Subban has the speed to disrupt the opposing teams’ rushes when Markov pinches, Emelin doesn’t.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.