So how did you like Carey vs. Corey?
Isn’t it a drag we see the Hawks so seldom?
Buffalo at the Bell Centre three times a year and Chicago every two years: it just doesn’t seem fair.
If the playoffs began today, your sixth-place Montreal Canadiens would face the Boston Bruins.
Know what? I’m good with that.
Carey vs. Tim is a playoff match-up this team could handle. Factor in the history of Montreal vs. Boston this time of year …
Of course, that isn’t carved in stone. Depending on what happens in Ottawa on Thursday and at the ACC Saturday night – plus games elsewhere – the Canadiens could still be overtaken and drop to eighth.
But they’ll be playing hockey next week. And if the Canadiens get the kind of goaltending we saw last night …. well, we saw this movie last spring.
I think the team to fear in the first round is Washington …. unless the Capitals’ goaltending melts like doggie doots in the spring run-off.
Based on the way they’ve been playing lately … OK, in the last two games, the Canadiens would present problems for the Bruins, Pittsburgh and, yes, even Philadelphia.
Great goaltending, solid defence led by a spectacular rookie (really, the Legend of P.K. just gets more and more dramatic), forwards who buy into the Jacques Martin system (when does BGL’s Rebellion in the Room start?) and work hard … hey, you never know in the playoffs.
Yes, Chicago had 43 shots and dominated the last half of regulation time. The Hawks are a good team with some dazzling stars. Patrick Kane, in particular gave the Canadiens fits; and nervous defenders were playing three feet off the best NBA player in the NHL.
But Martin made an in-game adjustment. Instead of Scott Gomez’s line, Martin played Lars Eller, Travis Moen and Tom Pyatt against Kane’s line. It didn’t shut the shifty Hawk down, but the move helped.
Martin also promoted Benoit Pouliot to the Gomez line, in place of Mathieu Darche. I suspect he’ll try that combination again in Ottawa.
Tomas Plekanec, Michael Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn were the Canadiens’ best line against Chicago. If Pouliot can re-ignite Gomez and Gionta, the Canadiens would have two scoring lines heading into the postseason.
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A few of the lads in the pressbox were asking a question that fans might like to kick around today: Is Carey Price having the greatest season of any Canadiens goaltender in recent memory?
Specifically, is he playing better than José Theodore did in winning the Vézina and Hart trophies after the 2001-’02 season?
Price has appeared in a team record 71 games to Theo’s 67. Theo went 30-24-10, Price is 37-18-6.
Price’s GAA is 2.37, with a save percentage of 92.3. Theo’s numbers were better: 2.11 and 93.1.
We have to factor in supporting cast. The leading scxorer on that 2001-’02 team was Yanic Perreault with 56 points. That’s Tomas Plekanec’s team-leading total.
Perreault’s 27 goals topped the team, followed by Oleg Petrov with 24 and Richard Zednik with 22. Brian Gionta has 26, Pleks 21 and Andrei Kostitsyn 20.
The ’01-’02 defensive corps had Craig Rivet, Stéphane Quintal, Patrice Brisebois, Andrei Markov (just emerging), Karl Dykhuis and Sheldon Souray, plus Francis Bouillon and Stéphane Robidas.
Price has his buddy P.K., who is better than any of Theo’s guys. After the game last night, Martin said Subban’s game came together after Josh Gorges got hurt. Playing with Hal Gill, P.K.’s has improved his defence while continuing to be an offensive force.
Chicago’s speed and aggressive forecheck gave Roman Hamrlik problems, but I liked James Wisniewski last night. And the Paul Mara-Brent Sopel pairing was surprisingly effective.
Can you imagine this D with a healthy Markov and Gorges?
Anyway, it’s fodder for some tavern debates … now that Canadiens fans don’t have to sweat the playoffs into the final weekend.
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Best of the Commentariat
That was the game of the year. Sure watching PK score a hat trick as les Habitants demolished les Sauvages was entertaining, but nothing beats a good old thriller between original six teams… I mean, why is it that we only play Chicago and Detroit once a year? As much as I enjoy our rivalries here in the Northeast Division, I somewhat wish the Habs were playing in the Central Division… I just love Western Conference Hockey! I agree with Boone on our conference as well… Save for Washington and Tampa Bay, it seems like most of the powerhouses in the East actually rely more on Don Cherry “bullism” than actual talent to win games… Even Pittsburgh is borderline in my book. Basically I’m just really sick of goons, meat heads and cheap shot artists.
I hope the NHL finds a way to get rid of intimidation, fighting and questionable hits. I don’t have to scramble much to find valid arguments, just look at tonight’s gem… Like Mike pointed out, just 21 combine hits between the 2 clubs, no fights and not one scrum after the whistle. Was the game boring? Not one bit… But would such a tilt be voted game of the year by Bruins fans? Not by a long shot. Will it be discussed on Coach’s Corner this coming saturday? Well, Grapes might criticize PK’s “over the top” celebration with Price, but I’m not holding my breath for any praises in regards to this fast pace, skill oriented affair as all the goals were scored by “soft” players wearing visors…
The worst part is… The hypocrites who preach “respect” are usually the same morons who celebrate thug wars and desperately try to muzzle young (maybe exuberant but none the less greatly talented) rising Stars… Which brings us back to Subban. As you probably already noticed, he keeps popping up in my comment… But how can one ignore the brut force he is on the ice? I dare you to name 10 players that are more dynamic, exciting and flamboyant on a game to game basis than the Subbanator. He is right up there with Sid the Kid, the Great 8 and Tim Too Tall. And tonight, he was at his best as were all the skilled players, given a chance to play a REAL game of Hockey… The NHL would be nuts, not to encourage this style of Play, but then again, their feuille de route suggest they don’t have a clue…
Don’t you all wish we got to enjoy real Hockey every night? I sure do.
I watched tonight’s game with a fellow from Budapest who recently relocated to Mtl. Unfortunately my first attempt to introduce him to hockey was the Sabres game, which I spent trying to explain that hockey isn’t usually that boring. Redemption was mine tonight. That first period alone was breathtaking. Transition-game hockey played at hyper-speed. And the only thing that kept it from being a double-digit score was the goaltending at both ends. BTW, if we ever needed further proof that this fan-ballot voting for the 3 stars is ludicrous, it came tonight. Crawford made 33 saves, many spectacular (what a glove hand!), and surrendered only one goal in regulation. Yet the three stars were all Habs. Nonsense. But I digress.
I am soooo happy that PG didn’t move AK before the trade deadline. He is back in a big way. Perhaps it was the Danish tonic known as Eller that somehow revived him. Whatever the reason, he more than deserves his place back on the top line. He orchestrated both goals with passes that were masterpieces. And while Pleks may not appear on the scoresheet, his shadowing of Toews was brilliant.
On that note, I am concerned that, other than Pleks, we don’t have a true checking line that can handle the likes of Kane et al. He was a nightmare for Eller, Pyatt, etc. all night. Halpern back at centre just might help there.
Meanwhile, Gomez and Gionta seem to be getting their mojo back, and I suspect Darche has something to do with that. His tenacious play frees G&G up to be a bit more artful. However, I have no idea why he got bumped from that line in favour of Pouliot in the third. Benny is a giant-sized dose of frustration.
I’m also not sure why DD was short-changed (no height puns please). His speed gave the Hawks defense a lot of trouble in the first. That kid really has wheels!
PK was, of course, a thrill to watch. And I do mean thrill, as in thrill-ride, with its moments of panic. I loved the shot of JM’s face after PK took that hooking penalty after he had coughed up the puck in his own end trying to make an ill-advised dipsy-doodle, and the Hawks got a couple of good scoring chances. Still, I’ll line up for that carnival ride any day.
Finally… Carey. To me, the biggest difference between CP 2010 and CP 2011 is his ability to make the key save at the key moment. Yes, the 42 saves are impressive. But it was how and when he made them. This imbues tremendous confidence in the troops who feed off his inspirational stops, much as they did last year with Jaro. There are always going to be lapses in a game. But when the opponent’s Goliath pressure gets snuffed out by one calm, cool, lightning-sharp backstopper, the team feels like a platoon of Davids.