About this afternoon …

Tough loss – but one from which the Canadiens can derive solace.

Ottawa is a terrific team, a bona-fide Stanley Cup contender.

The Canadiens will not win the Stanley Cup. But they skated and hit with the Senators in a terrifically entertaining, up-tempo game that looked more late April than early November. 

For 20 minutes, the Canadiens dominated the Senators in their own building. For 55 minutes, Cristobal Huet and friends shut out one of the most potent offences in the league.

Martin Gerber was just as sharp – give or take a highlight-reel glove save –  at the other end of the ice.

But games last 60 minutes. And the Senators, who cranked it up a notch in the second period, dominated the third.

Daniel F. Alfredsson had seven shots and scored the tying goal. The Senators’ captain has 24 goals and 52 assists in 59 games against the Canadiens.

I wasn’t counting (too busy trying to figure out the new way to blog), but I don’t think Canadiens won a faceoff for the last five minutes of the game.

 But let’s accentuate the positive:

• Huet was brilliant.

• Mike Komisarek and Roman Hamrlik played huge games.

• Alex Kovalev continues to play like he cares, and he has two terrific playmates in Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostisyn.

• The third and fourth lines played their hearts out.

 Chalk it up as a learning experience.

On to Toronto. 



  1. manorrd says:

    First off, the new blog looks great. I like the new time-stamping feature during your game logs. Very nice.

    So…it’s off to Toronto. I think Montréal is going to kill ’em. This last game should have both given them the confidence that they are almost as good a team as The Senators, and the anger that only a quick, redeeming win can fix.

  2. J.T. says:

    You can’t steal what isn’t there to be stolen anymore. But, there’s no harm in discouraging leafs fans from coming within cannon range generally, is there?

  3. edmond says:

    The Habs have a more balanced lineup and are better coached than any of the other teams they have played against this year, including Ottawa. Our defense and goaltending are among if not the best in the league.

    Offense is good enough as most of our forwards are strong two way players. Our thid and fourth lines have more offensive ability than most of the competition’s lower lines.

    Ryder will come out of his slump, he has always been streaky.

    Our only true weakness may be lack of a tough guy.

    We can make the playoffs and from there we can match up with any team.

    The time is now.

  4. Yeats says:

    Por supuesto!

  5. El Guapo says:

    Toe Blake es muy mas macho, en una coparisone de Toe Blake, Scotty Bowman es un marichon.

  6. Yeats says:

    Quiene es mas macho, Toe Blake o Scotty Bowman?

  7. El Guapo says:

    Latendresse juega como un hombre qui bebe mucha cervesa, y Ryder como un hombre qui tienne hacer un pipi.

  8. habitual says:

    Hi JT: I do agree with you, this edition of the Habs does have to learn how to win. And I think they are doing that. But to what degree are these lessons required?

    The history of Cup winners is not quite as you remember, therefore the experience of playoffs are not as important. Only Anaheim lost in the finals the year before they won the Cup. Carolina had no playoff games in the three years before winning the Cup in 2006, and Tampa only had one series win the year before they won in 2004, and nothing previous to 1996.

    So why do I seem to quibble when I think you have a point? Because I think the loss last night has taught them how to win. Because recent history suggests that it is the play in the regular season that seems determinant in winning the Cup, and that as the Habs are mimicking the hot starts of previous Cup winners I’m talking myself at least into believing that it’s not delusional to think the Cup is not out of our grasp based on what I’ve seen so far.

  9. DD says:


    Deter the leaf fans from stealing your salt cod?

  10. El Guapo says:

    Koivu juega como un mui grande hombre, el referio, no es bueno. Alfredson es como Greg Louganis, mui malo, un pequeno cabronsito.

    Mi dos centavos.

    Vamonos Habs vamonos!

  11. J.T. says:

    I think it’s not so much a matter of having guys who won elsewhere before…it’s a matter of the group learning to win together. Carolina and Anaheim had been to the finals and lost before they won their championships. Tampa went to the semis the year before theirs and lost to the eventual champion Devils. In a couple of years, we may look at Pittsburgh’s ousting by Ottawa last year as a precursor to them winning it all.

    I think the only way to learn to win is by doing it. In the process, while they’re learning, you’re going to have some losses. I think last season went a long way in teaching what not to do…and I think they’ve learned some hard lessons from that experience. So, yes, I think the team is learning and developing and definitely on the road to being a contender. I share your optimism.

  12. Lee Hayes says:

    100% in agreement, suffocating defense should be reserved for the 2 and 3 goal leads. Firewagon hockey is deadly against teams that are forced by the scoreboard to open it up. Plus it doesn’t do my hypertension any good, watching nail biter after nail biter!!

    Go Habs Go

  13. J.T. says:


    Yeah, in this case, I think some of the younger guys like Price, Chipchura and Lapierre have an advantage in the winning department. Those guys know what it’s like to grind through four rounds of playoffs to reach their goal, and it’s great to have that experience among the team’s youth. They may be the ones to show the way when crunch time comes…especially Price. I’m very optimistic that they can. And you know the old saying about attracting flies with honey…well, it’s the same for free agents and winning.

    And the cannon is to deter leafs fans.

  14. Chuck says:

    At the same time, maybe Carbo can remind Ryder that the Leafs are the team that he scored a natural hat-trick against
    in the last game of the year.

    Come to think of it, maybe that’s Ryder’s problem; Carbo told the team to put that loss behind them and to forget about it.
    It appears as though Ryder did indeed forget about it… and also put his scoring touch behind him, too.

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

  15. FastRonnie says:

    In disagreement with some who think Montreal didn’t think they could beat the might Sens, I don’t think Montreal had confidence issues. I don’t think they ever doubted they could win. First, they were outplayed in the 3rd and a big part of that was the coaching. They fell back into a shell for much of the 3rd and tried keeping the lead by dumping the puck out of the zone. That kind of protective strategy should be reserved for when they have at least a 2 goal lead. A 1-0 game is never a sure thing and Carbo should have emphasized more two-way play. I’m not against Carbo either; I think he’s made some huge strides in his coaching, but I think as Boone said that there are some things to be learned when playing in those circumstances against such an explosively talented team as Ottawa.

    Here’s hoping they come out against Toronto with the same intensity. Let’s also pray that they don’t play to protect a lead (assuming they get one).

    In addition, it’s been said and I agree that we are one solid power forward away from being a strong team. Sorry, but Ryder’s got to go – it’s not working and his linemates are being held back. Also, Lats needs to stay one the 3rd or 4th line. He doesn’t deserve to be on the top 2 lines. He had a good physical game yesterday, but he’s not a finisher.

  16. DD says:

    Tommy has my e-mail address. Ask him to give it to you and contact me and I’ll send you one. There is nothing better than wearing a shirt like that in your neck of the woods!

  17. ClaytonM says:

    I’m tired of ripping into Ryder, so I’ll just pray instead that Price gets the start Tuesday and that we see a Habs team that shows up for once against the leafs. It’s starting to get embarrassing losing to them the way we do. I mean a loss is bad enough, but for them to pull a win out of their ass in OT or the last few minutes of the 3rd is just annoying. I’m also hoping that the rest of the conference starts playing the senators with some grit and determination, not go into the game looking for a pity point. They have one great line, one good goalie, one fashion disaster, and 2 good blue liners. Give the Habs a heatley type scorer and we’re as good or better. Please, BG.

    Carbo, will you please, for the love of all that is holy, put the fear of God into the boys before the game Tuesday?!?

  18. Chuck says:


    Say… I love the “Maple Losers” shirt. How does a guy go about aquiring one of ’em?

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

  19. Les-Habitants says:

    Great game, but a shame to lose it! Man, I really thought we might have had this one, but you can’t sit on a one goal lead against Ottawa…it worked against Boston, but Ottawa isn’t the best team in the East for nothing.

    Ryder…I don’t think anyone can deny that’s he working, but he has got to start putting the puck in the net! I like Dandenault on the 3rd line, and don’t think he should be moved up, I think trying either Grabo or Latendresse in that role would be worth it. Lats has put up his best numbers when next to the captain, albeit on the LW, and Grabo has offensive flair and speed…although he too would be playing on his off-wing. Regardless, I think trying offensive minded players before resorting to a 3rd liner would be better

  20. DD says:


    Alfredsson should have been awarded an Academy Award for the best Greg Louganis type dive, along with 2 minutes unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

  21. Chuck says:

    Re: the trip on Koivu…

    In looking at the replays, I think that you’d see that Brisebois didn’t touch the puck while trying to stop Alfredsson, whila the Ottawa defender at least came very close to touching it while trying to stop Koivu.

    That said, as soon as Brisebois dove for the puck, Alfie chickened out, took a hand off is stick and raised it in the air as if to say “Where’s the penalty?” He didn’t even try to get a shot off (one of the requisites for a penalty shot to be awarded) and opted for trying to draw the penalty instead. An after a couple of seconds to think about it, the referee awarded him a penalty shot on what at most was a trip, and what should have also been a diving or unsportsmanlike call against Ottawa for obviously trying to draw a penalty. I was glad to see that karma bit him on the ass when Huet stopped him.

    Full kudos to Koivu for not giving up on his play. THAT’s how it’s supposed to be done, even though he was shafted on the non-call.

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

  22. yehaken says:

    Just checked on hockeydb.com (which rules, by the way–recommend checking it out). Habs haven’t had a guy in the top ten in points for over 20 years. (Mats Naslund in 85-86).

    Last guy in the top 5 (also the last in the top 10 before Naslund)? Guy Lafleur in 79-80.

    If that’s depressing, feel better–remember the early years of Koivu’s career? No one cracked 50 points for about 4 years!

  23. DD says:


    Hopefully some of that “magic winners mojo” will brought in with Carey Price and some of the kids who got a taste of it with the Bulldogs last year.

    I remember reading an interesting article about the young upstart Oilers and Gretzky getting beat by the Islanders for the Cup in 83. The article basically said that the Islanders were able to beat the Oilers even before the puck was dropped because they had that winning magic. Of course it was probably the toronto media so there was no mention of Bill Torrey’s affiliation to Montreal.

    I can’t help be optimistic that if we continue to improve and start to contend for the Cup it should induce some of the better ‘winner’ free agents to want to come back to the winning tradition we use to exemplify.

    BTW Is that a picture of a cannon in your back yard? I guess you guys really do have to protect your salt cod stores for the winter.

  24. RetroMikey says:

    Just imagine, how we are playing now and how we will be playing game in and out. I honestly feel we are going to get better and surprise these “contender” teams out there. The word “slump” is not defined in the teams dictionary. In my opinion, this team feels it can play any team any given night. Let’s hope our top line gets it together. I can honestly say that I can enjoy a Habs game on RDS or CBC without chewing on my nails and being nervous as a fan. I now can feel confident in my team!

    “We will win the Cup only with Carey Price in the nets”

  25. JF says:

    I agree with J.T. that the team has to learn how to win; more specifically, they need to acquire the confidence to believe they can win against teams like the Senators. I think they’re learning; they refused to be intimidated yeaterday, and they skated, hit and checked with the Sens through most of the game. But they did let up in the third period, just when they should have stepped it up a notch. However, there were many positives – intensity, goaltending, discipline, penalty-killing.

    In a thread yesterday I suggested switching Ryder and Dandenault for a few games. Ryder is really struggling, can’t seem to buy a goal, whereas Dandy as a forward had been a revelation. With his great speed, he could perhaps make things happen on the first line. Also, I’d rather not see Grabovski against the Leafs; he gets beaten off the puck too easily. Hopefully Bégin will be back; this would make a third line of Smolinski, Ryder and Latendresse.

  26. habitual says:

    Fair enough, JT. Nothing like ordeal under fire to temper steel.

    But, I offer the observation that the last three Stanley Cup winners, Anaheim, Tampa, and Carolina, had very few Cup veterans on their teams when they won. Yes, Anaheim had Neidermayer, but did Tampa have anyone who had won a cup previously?

    And take note of the # of teams who bring their recent draft choices onto the team and play them as rookies – a sharp contrast to say the Habs in the 70s when rookies rode the bench. With everyone playing young players and giving them ice time it balances out yesteryear’s thinking that one had to have a team laden with veterans to win.

    So, my point, I guess, is that with a few more guys from Hamilton on the team next year (Kostitsyn, Valentenko, O’Burne) and the 2 & 3rd year players we will have, the Habs will be very serious Cup contenders, irrespective of how they finish this year.

    Do you share my sense of optimism?

  27. yehaken says:

    The hockeybuzz column says it all:

    from http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=10997

    < < In the end Huet didn't make THE save. I am not anti-Huet. That would be ridiculous, since the guy played amazing most of the night. However, like last Saturday night versus Toronto, Huet couldn't stop the big shots down the stretch. Anyone else notice the common thread behind Alfie and Neil's goals and the goals from last Saturday night versus Toronto that Huet let in? He isn't set. All have been outside shots and he looks to be going into his stance as the shot is taken. Huet is ridiculous down low and quick, but from the slot a quick release can beat him. My two cents. >> –Eklund

  28. J.T. says:

    When I spoke about the team’s lack of notable success so far, I wasn’t referring just to this young season. But guys like Komisarek, Plekanec, Ryder and Higgins…even Markov and Koivu…have never really won anything in the NHL. They’ve all played the early years of their careers for a team that missed the playoffs more often than they made it, and made early exits when they did. They’ve started the two seasons previous to this one quickly, only to fizzle after Christmas. That’s what I meant. Many great players have said winning is a learned skill and teams have to go through the process of acquiring it before they’re successful. That’s the stage I see the Habs in right now.

  29. showey47 says:

    You can’t sit back and try to protect a lead anymore. Especially against a team like ottawa who everyone knew they were gonna double shift their 2 top lines at the end of the game. Especially a one goal lead, guy has to learn to get these guys to play the last 20 mins the same way they play the first 2 periods.

    Why wasn’t koivu given a penalty shot on his trip? it was a worse play than the one on alfredsson. I just don’t know what to do with ryder, but i saw a post that recommended dandy, which could be interesting. Latendresse seems to play his best hockey when he’s on the top line. Something needs to be done, ryder is killing that top line.

    Well if we play this way on tuesday and give price a shot to be a laff-killer then we should be able to come out with 2 points

  30. habitual says:

    JT: I am puzzled by your comment that the team has had little noticeable success. How is a young team to have success other than to perform at the level they have 16 games into the season? They are one of the top teams in the league right now. I bet they feel pretty good about themselves.

    Note that Mike Boone praises lines 2,3, & 4. But not line # 1. Koivu and Higgins have been consistently solid, so that leaves Ryder.

    I have good thoughts for every player wearing a Habs sweater, but Ryder is baggage right now. He pulls the # 1 line down, and if the PP isn’t clicking on a night then it is left up to Kovalev, Plekanec and now Kostitsyn.

    Any one of Grabowski, Sergie Kostitsyn or even D’Agostini will be better than Ryder. Yes, I agree that Ryder is streaky, but the season is not, and this is the big leagues. The Habs aren’t getting the let it all hang out effort from Ryder that they get from lesser lights making considerablly less: Begin, Kostopolis, Chipchura – frankly, everyone else.

  31. RH says:

    Hopefully, everyone observed a moment of silence at 11:00h.

    I have to comment on that Plekanec penalty against Redden yesterday. What ABSOLUTELY drives me nuts is the fact that Redden, an alleged top tier defenseman in this league, would let up when he KNEW Pleks was going to hit, or bump him and he would go flying into the boards if he didn’t brace himself. Of course, the idiot that he is, he let’s up and goes face first into the boards. Now, contrast that to later in the game when Markov was chasing the puck and was being chased by some Sens’ player. Did Markov let up and risk being hurled into the boards? No! He braced himself for the hit and came out, relatively in good position. He still managed to keep his footing and chase the puck. If Pleks gets a penalty for his hit, then that Sens’ player SHOULD HAVE gotten one as well. Both plays were identical except that Markov was a hell of a lot smarter than Redden.

    How about Alfredsson looking like an ass on that Brisebois penalty? He should get an ‘Oscar’ for that performance. He looked like he just got mugged or something. Come to think of it. He looked like a World class soccer player. Contrast that to OUR fearless captain, who legitimately got knocked down, but didn’t make a show of it. How come Koivu didn’t get a penalty shot for that?

    The Habs have a lot of work to do judging from yesterday’s performance. They dominated for two periods, but couldn’t finish. Coming out flat in the third didn’t help either. I wonder though, how much better Ottawa could’ve played with Spezza in the line-up?

    I watched the leafs game last night, because I’m a good host and decided to accomodate our guests. Toskala kept the leafs in the game and won them a point against the Rangers. The Habs BETTER start crashing the net and start doing a better job of screening the goalies, or it’s going to be 0 for Ontario on Tuesday. Pierre Mcguire believes the leafs are a horrible defensive team. Why can’t the Habs take advantage of that? By the way, I was left shaking my head watching Darcy Tucker and Shawn Avery going at it. Are there any two BIGGER idiots in this league?

    I can honestly say that I will not be watching the Habs-leafs game on RSN. If you think the doofuses on TSN are sucking up to the leafs, these guys on RSN will make you want to puke until there’s nothing left.

  32. showey47 says:

    i would like it also, but no way is buffalo gonna trade a player like him to a division rival. If anything, he would be traded to the western conference

  33. stephen says:

    I’d have to echo the sentiment that this team is very much a work in progress.

    A loss like yesterday should go a long way in teaching them how to win. You need to lose to win, as it were.

    It’s becoming redundant, but Markov has been absolutely brilliant. It’s obvious the coaching staff has given him a degree of “free reign” out there, and has encouraged a more aggressive approach in supporting the forwards.

    He’s right there through the neutral zone to back up any rush, and is even leading the rush at times, as we saw yesterday.

    This team is starting to open some eyes around the league, but they can’t get wrapped up in the ‘surprise’ of it all. If they’re going to win at the next level, their success should be a measure of their own skill and hard work, and not a pleasant surprise.

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