About last night … and today’s line juggling

 This just in:

The lines at practice this morning:

First line: Higgins, Koivu, Kostopoulos

Second line: Plekanek, Kovalev, Kostitsyn

Third line: Begin, Smolinski, Ryder

Fourth line: Latendresse, Chipchura, Dandenault 

 •  •  •

Here’s the OT and the future of the two franchises in a nutshell:

Bryan MacCabe’s salary this season: $5.75 million in the second year of a five-year deal.

Mike Komisarek: $1.5 million in the first year of a two-year deal.

Any questions?

• • •

Here’s another one to ponder:

Cristobal Huet/Carey Price

Vesa Toskala/Andrew Raycroft

• • •

Aren’t you happy that Alex Kovalev is happy this season?

That line was by far the Canadiens’ best (some might say only) last night.

• • •


As Kovy pointed ut after the game, the amazing thing about Komisarek’s OT breakaway was the distance between him and his pursuers.

The big guy looked like Pavel Bure … and poor McCabe and Nik Antropov looked like Pierre Bouchard and Moose Vasko.

• • •

What’s Guy Carbonneau going to do with Michael Ryder?

The coach has to find a productive RW for Saku Koivu and Christopher Higgins.

The candidates: Mathieu Dandenault, Tom Kostopoulos, Guillaume Latendresse on his off-wing, Sergei Kostitsyn, Matt D’Agostini.

• • •

What’s Carbo going to do about faceoffs?

Canadiens were 24-38 last night. Kyle Chipchura was 2-8, Pleks 7-12, Koivu 10-10, Bryan Smolinski 5-7.

• • •

Who put a bug up the south end of Andrei Markov last night?

One goal (his sixth, matching last season’s total) and four penalties (he had 56 PIM in 2006-’07)?

Colleague Pat Hickey tells me Darcy Tucker got under Markov’s skin … as has been known to happen with the Leafs’ agitator.

• • •


Carey Price has to come up with some new clichés. As usual, he said his teammates played great in front of him last night.

Which game was he watching?

• • •

More on where the two franchises are headed:

David Shoalts’ story in last Saturday’s Globe and Mail.



  1. Morenz7 says:

    Nice to see the site running again. While I’m in the why-Kostopolous camp, I do get the sense Carbo is loath to disrupt lines while the team is winning. He fiddles them late in games (earlier if they’re losing), but he seems pretty dogmatic on the question of tinkering with a winning formula. The Kostopolous switch is one that creates the smallest ripple through the line-up.

    The problem with this, as JF points out, is that they really haven’t played that wonderfully of late, despite the gift-wrapped win over the Leafs. They’ve been treating one-goal leads like three-goal leads etc and putting in mediocre efforts. I wasn’t as thrilled as others with the last win over Boston, and disagree with those who said they played a good 55 minutes against Ottawa. More like a good 20 minutes, then 35 of good goaltending.

    Anyhoo, I fully expect them to steady themselves tonight. Why? Cuz I’m off to Buffalo for the game, and I know they’d never let me down…

    GO HABS!

  2. FastRonnie says:

    While I had d’Agostini in mind, there are other RWs that could easily come up and play the #1 line (at least on a trial basis): S. Kostitsyn, D. Milroy, and J. Ferland. I think the ones with the most potential at his level are S.Kostitsyn and d’Agostini. If the roster is too full, send down Grabovski.

  3. FastRonnie says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Carbo has in his mind the intention of bringing up d’Agostini sometime soon. I think he’s giving Kostopoulos a shot because of his hard work ethic – the guy makes things happen in the O-zone and plays both ends of the ice. However, I don’t think the Greek Grinder is 1st line material. This is a temporary trial to allow Ryder to “find his game” without pressure. If things don’t improve, expect to see d’Agostini in Mtl. And, after seeing him burn things up in pre-season & camp, he could be the missing link to the Habs #1 line struggles. Time will tell, but this is for sure: no one on the team presently fits the bill of #1 line RW. So, something’s bound to change soon, like before December.

  4. Chuck says:

    I’m intrigued by the new line combos, and I can’t wait to see what havoc Tom the Bomb unleashes on Buffalo with the extra ice time. Hopefully Ryder will plant his butt in the slot to screen Miller and pounce on rebounds.

    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  5. nyadguy says:

    The way Komisarek scored on the breakaway maybe he should be on the 1st line. 😉

  6. blnieder says:

    Kostopolous is a very hard worker and deserves a chance to play, however, I believe their is a better alternative.

    We have a couple of people that are not playing as well as they can.

    Why not put Georges in the lineup to gain additional experience on defense he is reasonably solid. Move Mark Streit up to the first line giving Saku & Chris more speed and savy to work with. Streit does not mind shooting the puck and did well offensively last year while acquiting himself decently on defense, he would fit in nicely.

    It is time to sit Ryder for two games and let him practice shooting. That is his forte and he has forgotten how to shoot. Also, a quick course on positive thinking would not hurt him. He needs the time off to work on his skills.

    Remember the blow out of Carolina
    Note: All four lines played to their potential.
    Remember the almost blow out of Philadelphia
    Note: Almost everyone played to their potential.
    Remember the first 55 minutes against Ottawa
    Note: Three lines played up to their potential.

    Those games were fun weren’t they?

    Most other games one maybe or two lines show up to play.


    C’mon guys go out there and have fun. You should be destroying some of the opposition not losing, tieing or just winning by one goal.

    You only have to play the laffs five times more this season, then not until October 2008. The only reason the laffs are still in the playoff hunt is that you respect them far to much and give them to much room. They are not in the same class as you. Smarten Up. Use your God-given talent.

  7. zamboni says:

    I’m happy that the Habs won, but I’m not happy with the way we played.
    I think we stole the points.

    To me Price was by far the first star, and “The Gazette” missed the boat big time on that, he wasn’t even listed as the 3rd star.
    Why is it that people who score the points are always anointed as the stars.
    Someone has to remind the star pickers that this a team sport.

    I don’t want to take away anything from Kovy for having a 3 point night, he was by far the best forward there, but without Price, this one wouldn’t have even been close for the 3 points to matter.

    I’m baffled that we always struggle against the Leafs, we seem to try to match them in strength instead of taking advantage of our speed / skills / their defense.
    We know it’s hard to win against them on the boards.

    Breezer was awful yesterday, he was constantly making bad passes, and one of the bad giveaways eventually bit us.

    The first line was mostly invisible, and that’s not due to lack of trying.
    It’s normal to have nights where nothing goes for you, I hope they can put this behind them, (should be easy with the win) but like most others I wonder how much longer Ryder is going to handicap that line.

    Is Latts playing hurt? he keeps on tripping by himself, and I don’t know if it is a visual illusion or what, does the guy know how to take of?
    he looks like he’s skating on sand.

    Enough of the negatives, it was not the intent of the post, I’m happy and proud of the boys, they won, but we can’t continue to play like this and hope that the goalies are always going to bail us out.
    We have to stop taking tea breaks in the second period and play for 60 minutes a game.

  8. J.T. says:

    There’s so much to be happy about these days that the things that aren’t working stand out with glaring clarity. Neither the first nor third lines did anything much last night. I think it’s worth switching up Dandenault and Ryder against Buffalo. Dandenault doesn’t have the devastating potential of Ryder’s shot, but he has speed and an effective forecheck. It might be enough to spark the first line. And maybe Ryder will get open more on the third if he’s the go-to guy on that line. I don’t know…it might not work, but something has to be attempted. I don’t want to see another Samsonov experiment from last year, in which the line is left intact, even though it’s not working, for much too long.

    If the Dandeault experiment doesn’t work, I’d try Kostitsyn the younger.

    Most underappreciated player on the team: Tomas Plekanec. The Kovalev goal was all his work. That end-to-end rush was beautiful, and his defensive play was strong as usual. That guy is a gem.

    Price is removing any doubt he’s ready. I thought he might need another season to ease into the number one job, but it’s looking like that’s not the case. I have such confidence when he’s in the net.

  9. Chorske says:

    I’m SO with you on this, on pretty much every point. Except maybe for Pleks being under-appreciated… I think he gets as much appreciation as he deserves. Heck, seems like every second poster’s got a borderline man-crush, haha. 😉

    I’d go with Dandenault on the first line myself. Hopefully being on line 3 will take some of the pressure off Ryder and let him break out of his funk.

  10. DownEaster says:

    It was a real nail-biter, it just goes to show 6 million dollar men, (MacCabe),is just a risk that ain’t worth the ink they sign those big checks with.

  11. JF says:

    From what I saw, that was a thoroughly lousy game. I stopped watching during the second period because I was so disgusted, then came back and bit my nails throughout the third. Why we would play so badly against the Leafs after losing the first two games the way we did is beyond me. But we won. Maybe the victory will provoke a psychological shift in the way the team confronts the Leafs -more confidence, more focus, more determination. Maybe next time we’ll play well and win.

    We’ll have to play WAY better than this on Friday against Buffalo or we’ll lose, even though they have a game with the Senators on Thursday night.

    Price’s performance has convinced me that he is ready for the NHL. He’s not great yet but he’s going to be. At the beginning of the season I thought he should have been left in Hamilton, but I’m changing my mind. His calm in any situation is monumental, his positioning mostly great. I like the way Carbonneau is using him, roughly one game in three. I would hate to see so much pressure put on him so quickly that he never develops his full potential – a la Rick DiPietro or Marc-André Fleury.

    I’m with those who think Ryder and Dandenault should be switched for a few games. Dandenault’s speed and his ability to get the puck out of the corners might get something going on the first line; and maybe Ryder would feel less pressure on the third.

  12. Dan23 says:

    The Habs were really slow last night, and the dipsy doodle moves (Komisarek’s OT winner excepted) and passes were not connecting. While I think the team did not put in a full effort, I would also say that the ACC has some of the worst ice in the NHL, so that might have been part of it.

    I wasn’t terribly impressed with Higgins either. I’m beginning to think J.T. might be right about his lack of finish.

    Still, we beat the Leafs on their home ice. I’m happy this morning.

  13. Chorske says:

    Holy smokes, is that scond line on fire or WHAT? It seems like every couple of shifts they put together a play for the highlight reel. And here’s what impresses me the most: watch the highlight reel, and look at where Kovalev is after his line’s near-misses: responsibly folding back, clogging the neutral zone. Love it. They’re playing smart and it’s a joy to watch.

    But ugh, more line shuffling. The first line looks weird with Nonstopoulos on it. We’ll see how it works: I’ve been second-guessing Carbo all year and look where it’s got me, so maybe I should give this remix a chance. But I don’t think that the lines problems are being caused by a lack of hard work, and i’m not sure what Nonstopoulos can add.

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