Are you ready for some hockey?

Welcome to Positivity Central.

Unlike some of my learned colleagues, I’m not ready to throw Carey Price and Pierre Gauthier under the bus headed for the Air Canada Centre Thursday night.

This is what we know:

Lets start with the player who is under more pressure than anyone else in the NHL.

Price has the size. He’s got the talent. He’s got the pedigree.

It’s time to cowboy up.

When the Canadiens opened their 2009-’10 season in Toronto, Price faced 46 shots and stopped 43 of them in an overtime win.

Two nights later in Buffalo, he stopped 34 of 35 and the Canadiens won in OT again.

Then the Canadiens headed west, where Jaro Halak started and lost in Calgary. The next night, Price was bombed in Vancouver, and he never really recovered the form of those first two games.

It would be really, really, really nice if Price got off to another hot start.

It would be even nicer if Montreal fans were willing to cut the kid some early-season slack

 

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Look, Jaro Halak is in St. Louis and there is no Plan B in Montreal. Alex Auld is not going to start 60 games.

When the UFO appeared over the Cavendish Mall last week, I was really hoping it would touch down at the home of my distinguished colleague, the Living Legend of Sports Journalism.

Then a creature looking like something out of District 9 could have rung Red’s bell and said:

“Mr. Fisher, we bring you a technological device that is a product of our highly advanced culture. It’s called a calculator.”

Armed with his gift from the aliens, the LLSJ might have been able to punch in enough numbers to understand what Pierre Gauthier realized at the end of last season: There was no way the Canadiens could sign an arbitration-eligible Halak AND impending UFA Tomas Plekanec.

I think the choice came down to this:

Lose Halak and the Canadiens still have Price. Keep Halak, lose Plekanec and hope that Pleks’s Top Six/PP/PK minutes can be filled by …

Ben Maxwell?

Yeah, right.

Yes, Gauthier rolled the dice on Price. But it wasn’t the most ill-considered gamble in the history of hockey (see MILLBURY, Mike; Yashin contract et al).

I’m afraid my friend the LLSJ (who’s nurtured inexplicable tumescence for Price since the kid joined the team) and many fans will second-guess the Halak trade until the end of days. But until the puck drops – and, I say, until the puck drops 15, maybe 20 times or more – let’s bag the “I told you so”s and focus on what promises to be a very interesting season.

Are the Canadiens a Cup contender?

Please. Let’s be serious.

Are they a lock for the playoffs?

I wouldn’t bet my house, my paycheque or the willingness to perform an intimate act on the likelihood of late April hockey in Montreal.

But until the season begins, anything is possible.

The Canadiens have a new captain whom everyone loves. And there are reasons for cautious optimism:

• The team knows Jacques Martin’s system, and the players came to camp in better shape than they did a year ago.

• Lars Eller can play. Barring injury, pencil this kid’s name into the lineup for the next 10 years.

• P.K. Subban is going to give Bell Centre fans the most thrills they’ve had since Kovy left.

• The pre-season is meaningless, but Pleks was on fire and that was a harbinger.

• CJAD colour man Scott Gomez is loose as an Alaskan snow goose and primed for a solid season.

• Dustin Boyd and Jeff Halpern are upgrades on Glen Metropolit and Dominic Moore.

• Andrei Markov is a fast healer.

• In the immortal words of Joe Theismann, AK46 is no Norman Einstein. But he’s smart enough to know this is a contract year.

• The playoff run demonstrated the shut-down skills of Josh Gorges and Hal Gill.

• Maxim Lapierre is fully recovered from his ankle injury and the departure of his friend Gui!

• Tom Pyatt will never be a scorer, but he’s the fastest player on the team and uses the speed to advantage on the PK and through third- or fourth-line minutes that wear down any opponents trying to skate with him.

Are there causes for concern?

Oh, yeah.

• Benoit Pouliot is an enigma.

• Until Markov returns – and perhaps beyond – the team has major issues on D.

• Roman Hamrlik had a better pre-season than Jaro Spacek. There’s a lot of mileage on those Skodas.

• Ryan O’Byrne is playing himself off the team.

• If Mathieu Darche’s family name were Dawson, Ryan White would be a lock to make the Canadiens.

• Two of the skill players – Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri – are small. And both missed significant numbers of games due to injuries last season.

• The 2009-’10 Canadiens were the worst five-on-five team in the league. And the PP, which saved their ass last season, struggled in every exhibition game except that Islanders farce.

Hey, I promised no negativity.

Won’t the the last lie I tell this season …

Drop the puck already …

 

87 Comments

  1. thorandresson says:

    Good points, but if you if you include Eller into the mix and pencil him in as the 3rd line center it looks like an improvement

  2. andrewberkshire says:

    Pretty sure he had surgery in the offseason and may miss some time.

  3. Jamie Archer says:

    I have a question that is completely off topic, but was really hoping someone could answer it for me.  Does anyone know if Chris Pronger is injured or if he is starting the season opener?  I didn’t see him in any of Philadelphia’s pre-season games and was wondering if they were just resting him.  I couldn’t find his name in any injury report, but found it odd that he wouldn’t play in at least one exhibition.  Any help would be appreciated!

  4. TOEmastro says:

    Wrapped in a french canadian 

  5. sidhu says:

    Question: the Oilers likely will need to trade Jeff Deslauriers or Devyn Dubnyk — would you rather have homeboy Deslauriers than Alex Auld as the backup to Pricey?

     

  6. mbplekfan says:

    Oh cmon. Moore was a first line center who could fight, give interviews and zamboni the ice all at the same time. No one will ever compare to his Mooreness.

    Lord Metropolit scored countless powerplay goals and gave blood after every game. He spent weekends helping out at the orphanage.

  7. mbplekfan says:

    The decision was always about Price.  He was the high draft pick goaltender the franchise was betting on. Maybe the money could have been found to sign Halak but there isnt enough room on any team for  two goalies of that calibre.

    This was always going to be Price’s team.

    Lars Eller is the best young prospect we’ve had since Pleks made the jump. Eller is big, fast and good with the puck.

    Ian Schultz is a big, tough winger with decent hands and leadership ability.

    We got a smokin hot deal for Halak. It was a good trade and one that Im sure most GM’s would make in a heartbeat.

  8. MathMan says:

    I don’t think the problem is with the defensive personnel. Frankly I think ‘big shutdown physical’ D-men are pretty overrated unless they have other skills; physicality is too often confused with defense.

    The Habs’ transition game sucks, but I think it’s a system issue and not a skill issue and even if it were a personnel issue, it’s certainly not one you’d fix by adding more big guys with no puck skills.

    And Montreal made a fantastic deal with Gorges-for-Rivet; not only is Gorges at least as good as Rivet for cheaper but they also netted a first out of it. Yes, he’s a “project 3 years in”, but so are the majority of draft picks, especially in the bottom part of the first round.

  9. sidhu says:

    ” Roman Hamrlik had a better pre-season than Jaro Spacek.”  totally agree, and a funny a– line!

    I’m rooting for OB, but I agree as well about his pre-season performance.  Henry looked more solid and reliable than he did – and he’s meaner.   If Henry and Picard continue to play well, OB could be on his way out — he may fetch a decent pick or prospect, as he’s big and costs less than a mill. 

    Also agree about Darche — I’m thinking his value is in the dressing room, but still, White had a heck of a pre-season.

  10. ProHabs says:

    This team is so much better than last years just by not having Bergeron, Laroque, D’Agostini and Chipchura in the starting lineeup. There are many upgrade over the team last year that as long as they can stay healthy, they will be alright.

    Check out this goal on Habs prospect goalie.

    http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Video-Kaspars-Daugavins-instant-hockey-legend-?urn=nhl-274370

  11. twilighthours says:

    Bill,

     

    totally agree.  The Habs could have found the money to keep Plex and Halak.  A creative solution was required, but it was definitely doable.

  12. longtimehabsfan says:

    Agree with everything you say, Mike, except that Benny is an enigma wrapped inside a riddle.

  13. twilighthours says:

    Here’s why he wasn’t offered a contract: because he captained the most pathetically gutless and heartless Canadiens’ team of the last 15 years.

  14. Bill says:

    I am in agreement with 90% of this highly cogent and eloquent post. However, the other 10% is absolute homerism (though still cogent and eloquent).

    The part I disagree with is the stuff about Jacques’s “system”, and the salary cap excuse for trading Halak. Jacques Martin had no system last year, unless it was to be outshot and outplayed and bailed out by a superhuman goaltender. Okay, maybe there was a system and the players simply couldn’t execute it. Which would be worse.

    As for Halak being “unaffordable”, I think it would’ve been possible to finnd a million dollars to cover the difference in Price and Halak’s salaries. I would cite Pouliot and Auld as two obviously unnecessarily expensive players, and that’s a thirty second look at the cap figures. The Habs also have major cap relief on the way with Hamrlik’s expiring contract. Having said that, I admit I have no idea who will prove to be the better goalie – noone does – but it’s still a little disingenuous to suggest that it would’ve been impossible to keep him and Plecanek. And obviously, the Habs haven’t been great with cap management in the past … that’s another story.

    Eller is indeed a major addition, because he will undercut the extreme negative influence that Pouliot and Kostitsyn – with their their Amazing Disappearing Acts – exert on the top two lines. The Habs’ top two lines were essentially two-maan units the whole year. Eller can replace either of those players when they go 15 games without scoring. That’s a major upgrade even if it’s based on Eller’s tenacity alone.

    Subban changes the face of the Habs’ D starting now. I don’t know how many points he’ll score, and I fully anticipate that his youthful exuberance and confidence will result in some growing pains, but his mobility and passing give the Canadiens a kind of pocket-Markov to go along with their star D-man.

    Barring injury – and those seem to be chronic with players who’ve just signed massive long-term deals – Pleks is looking at a big season. He’ll have Cammalleri + AK/Eller for a full year, and I think he’ll get to take a break on the PK with Halpern and Boyd around.

    So I actually think the Habs will be better this year, on the balance, but – and this is unfair – it won’t matter much unless they once again get ridiculous goaltending. Or unless Martin develops an *actual* system.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  15. _Habsoloutly_ says:

    lol,  I think it was a freudian slip Boone.  You’re secretly wishing that PG goes out and spends the farm on a UFA.

  16. SPATS says:

    Indeed, as I posted further below, 1 fewer key injury (Markov) less PK time for Pleks, P.K. on the point and G Love, Cammy, Gio and AK playing to their potential (not to mention Eller, Pouliot, Lappy etc) equals more goals scored which results in more support for a less snakebit Price which moves us from pretender to contender. With a stronger team in front of him (and backing him) He won’t have to shine like Jaro did. The playoffs made shutdown superstars Gorges and Gill shine, with a healthy Markov and P.K. the Skodas will see 15-20 instead of 20-25 minutes….I can go on an on, but it’s simple, score just one more goal every other game over last year and we’re in, and then the fun begins in April. Injuries will be key, but this year we appear to have more depth to overcome them.

    OOH AAH – HABS ON THE WARPATH!

  17. MikeL says:

    I haven’t been posting much lately, but that’s mainly because Boone’s blog has been pretty quiet throughout the off season, and his blog/posts tend to lead to the most solid debates.

    I agree with most of the post, but I completely disagree that Boyd and Halpern are better than Metro and Moore. I could easily argue that Dominic Moore, playing 3rd line minutes with Lapierre and Tom Pyatt, was the 5th most important forward for us in the playoffs last year – obviously behind the Gomez/Gionta Plekanec/Cammalleri tandems. Moore won faceoffs, played extremely hard, skated like the wind, and had much more offense than Boyd or Halpern. He gave us a third line that not only tried keeping the puck out of our net, but also attempted (and sometimes succeed) to score. I was so disappointed, and still am, that Gauthier did not offer Moore a contract. He’s a perfect 3rd line center for our team, which is built on speed.

    Tampa Bay essentially signed Moore to replace Halpern, and they gave him more money – which means they obviously value him much more then Halpern, or they would have resigned Halpern for less. The reason we went with Halpern was because of money, not because he was better.

    As far as Boyd and Metro are concerned, I think they are about equal – but they really do not compare at all. Boyd is big, but not overly physical, and doesn’t seem to have the offensive hands of Metro or the ability to play on the PP. That being said, he is a bigger body, faster, and much more capable of playing a 4th line banger role – if they can convince him to check (which was his problem in Calgary). It’s a wash for me.

  18. Mike Boone says:

    case of nerves. Drop the puck already!

  19. rocketsglare says:

    That’s why the game is played. Anything is possible. If the team can remain fairly healthy and

    competitive on most nights, I can see this team making the playoffs and who knows, as Boone

    so eloquently stated, “anything is possible”.

     

    Go Habs Go!

     

  20. _Habsoloutly_ says:

    An un-restricted free agent appeared over the Cavendish Mall last week?

  21. somerslovesthehabs says:

    good call on Darche Boone…I also feel this is a big reason why Saku was unceremoniously shown the door…he was going to break Belliveau’s Record for longest serving Habs Captain…how else can the Habs explain why he was not even given an offer of the league minimum…if only he was Saku Leblanc….I know that this will draw alot of comments from the Anti-Saku club but seriously, who played with more passion and did more for the community than Saku during his time with the Habs…NOBODY!!!

     

     

  22. Beaco says:

    STELLAR Post! Seriously one of the best I’ve read here. Firmly grounded in reality. Sometimes I wonder why I keep reading Insideout when it takes its turns to debate of the nonsensical kind, but then I read a post like this and I know there is intelligent life in the blogoverse. Thanks Joey.

  23. joeybarrie says:

    Got to think beyond this season when you sign a player. Remember next season we have to re-sign Markov, Gorges, AK, Pouliot, and Lapierre. We have to replace Hamrlik and Gill. That alone will cost about 24 million. Leaving us with about 5-6 million in cap space to sign 6 players. And thats to get us to the MAXIMUM with no cap space to use if we need to do some moving during the season… In my opinion it was the right move. But I also believe PG had no choice. Keeping a 9th round draft pick over a 5th overall on the basis of one season is a recipe for disaster. Especially when the 5th overall has so much promise. If he meets this promise, it would be one of the worst trades around…

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  24. somerslovesthehabs says:

    fair enough

    not sure he had much of a chance to reach a Cup Final with the cast surrounding him but at least your response shows that you put some thought into it which is quite refreshing in H I/O

    cheers

  25. Mats Naslund says:

    Thank you Mr. Boone for spelling out that the Price vs Halak decision was actually a Price + Plekanec vs Halak decision. When read that way with an understanding of the limitations of the salary cap, there was NO decision! Halak played himself out of Montreal. He was too expensive because there is NO WAY the Canadiens (a team that struggled to put up 2 goals per game as is) could afford to let their leading scorer in Plekanec go.

     

    Halak is gone. If you’re a fan of the Habs its time to move on.

     

    Go Habs Go!!! 

  26. Kamal Panesar says:

    Great post, Mike!  I’m with you on this one.  Let’s hope that the fans can breathe through the nose and calm down enough to give this team—and Price in particular—a chance to do their thing.

    I think Price can turn things around if the fans can just support him.  If not, I fear he will fall apart and the Habs season will go down the drains with him.

    The only positive that could come from that is that Gauthier and Martin would likely be fired….at least Gauthier…and, well, that is something I would have no problem with.  But that’s just me.


    Follow Kamal on HabsAddict.com, Facebook and Twitter

  27. Chuck says:

    A few teams are a lock to make the playoffs. And a few are a lock to miss them. We’re somewhere in that leftover bunch who’s season could hang on a 3 or 4 game winning or losing streak sometime during the regular season.

  28. jpinjurylaw1 says:

    What are the odds in vegas we have to make a trade before the deadline to get a number one goalie?  Hope it doesn’t have to happen………….

  29. joeybarrie says:

    I look at it this way, last season Semin didn’t do anything in the playoffs and the Caps defense/goaltending was weak. The year before Semin has 14 points in 14 games in the playoffs and the year before 8 points in 7 games. Now what I am saying here is when a guy you count on for a point a game and a goal every two at least plays badly, your team is in trouble. Especially when it has so many other big holes.

    In my estimation the Habs’ defense is pretty strong. We were in the top half of the league last season in GA and we had MAJOR defensive injuries.

    We have a pretty even top two lines. They can both easily have the same production. Teams like Washington are different because the top line scores twice as much as the second line. So what happens when you shut down the top line? You don’t make it to the next round if your opponent’s goalie is on fire…

    Carey Price is a great goalie. When he plays great, he is one of the best in the league. (please no other debate about this)

    In my estimation it’s pretty simple. Barring major injuries like last season we have 2 scenarios.

    1…………….

    -Pouliot, AK, and Lapierre play well and produce what we expect of them. Pouliot 25 goals, AK 30 goals, Lapierre 30 points and not a huge MINUS…

    -Our top guys have a top season. Camma with 40 sniper goals, Gio with 25 goals jammed in from the front of the net and another 30-40 assists. Pleks with an even 80 points, and Gomez with his patented 50 assists.

    -Markov plays himself into a 6million+ contract and Gorges plays himself into a bigger contract as well.

    -PK, Eller, Price play as great as we THINK they are.

    WE WILL BE PLAYING HOCKEY IN APRIL and will be in the top of the league

    2…………….

    -Price plays as good as he did last season (which wasn’t bad)

    -Pouliot has a couple of good scoring streaks but doesn’t reach more than 20 goals and AK continues to give us Ryder type numbers

    -Pleks plays like a girl

    -Our rookies play like the need more seasoning

    WE WILL BE STRUGGLING TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS and wonder about who we can trade AK and Pouliot for. Price will be jailed, so we couldn’t trade him…

    It’s easy for guys like Red Fisher to predict the season. (and none of them have any type of decent accuracy) But the truth is in the East it’s such a tight league that you never know who will come out ahead. A couple of good winning streaks and a few lucky games and your in the top 4. A bad losing streak with injury and a few unlucky games, and your struggling or OUT of the playoffs. I mean the two teams that had the hardest time making the playoffs went the furthest, and in my opinion it was because of injuries.

    Its not about having players who are supertars and they lead you to the cup. OH YEAH it helps, but our team has a slightly different make-up. It’s about having your players play beyond their salaries. If we perform well all season we have one of the top teams in the league.

    Last season we had ALOT of injuries. Say we did not have these injuries. Say Markov, Gionta, Cammi, AK, Gill, and Metro played 78 games. Do you think it is reasonable to have won 5 more games and gone into overtime 3 more times? Last season we lost 14 games in regulation by only 1 goal. That’s almost HALF our losses.

    5 more wins and 3 more ties would have made us the top of the division. Then would everyone say the Habs are one of the strogest teams in the East????  With simply put us beating Edmonton in October, Atlanta in November, Toronto in December, Florida in January,and Carolina in March. Not too hard a task in any of those cases. That was the difference between us ending up in 3rd or 8th.

    So in the end it is simply this……. HERE’S TO SCENARIO NUMBER 1…

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  30. thorandresson says:

    and the question really is, would you rather have a team that is covered at all the key positions (center, goaltending and defense) and that consistently outplays it’s opponents or one that has to rely on the heroics of one player?

     

    Granted, we have yet to see how this team will work, but I certainly hope that they improve in the shots for/against ratio and on 5-on-5.

  31. soperman says:

    I wonder how long we can keep up all of this positivity?  Let’s go for at least a whole period.

     

    _________________________________________________________________

    “You want to keep weening de Coupe? Then sign zee great Pew-sie!”

  32. soperman says:

    Timo, welcome back.  I have been out of the loop for a while.

     

    _________________________________________________________________

    “You want to keep weening de Coupe? Then sign zee great Pew-sie!”

  33. Les-Habitants says:

    Great post

  34. HardHabits says:

    Saku had to go because he was part of the reason why the locker room was factionalized. It wasn’t his fault but he inherited the mess that started way back when with the Chelios/Carbonneau rift.

    Saku’s time was up as a Hab and no player should be captain for life, especially without even one trip to the SCFs.

  35. madcap_habsfan says:

    Thanks for a great post Mr. Boone

    I certainly hope we can acomplish some great things this season :)

     

     

    -”People have to really suffer before they can risk doing what they love.” Chuck Palahniuk

  36. Clay4bc says:

    LOl. great post…but I think Jean-Luc Picard is way cooler than Kirk. Maybe we can argue about this instead on Halak/Price?

    __________________________

    I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend your right to make yourself look stupid.

  37. mbplekfan says:

    Our forward lines are fine. The problem is on defense.

    The skoda’s have too many miles and we dont have enough physical presence to handle the bigger forwards.

    OB isnt getting it done and we dont have any depth at that position.

    We havent stocked our farm team with physical, shutdown defenceman and as a result we have none even close to NHL ready.

    The Gorges trade so far looks like a wash. We gave up a big, physical defenceman and got a smallish one in return along with a 1st rounder who is looking like a project 3 years in.

     

  38. RetroMikey says:

    Ask me in 20 games how this team is going to fare this season.

    Is it going to be a season of ulcers and headaches for us Habs fans here?

    Most are predicting us in 8th with a healthy lineup?  Yikes.  We better be injury-free!

    No excuses for this season, we have the same coach, same players from last season, the “franchise” in the nets.

    The players know the system.  So a Stanley Cup parade in Montreal?

    I just wish we were bigger up front and better on D and in Goal.

    But Rah! Rah! Rah! Got to be pumped up like all Habs fans here on this site  facing Toronto…gulp!

    But some advice to Boone, you better get a bigger server Boone, this site will need it if the team falters.

    so…Go Habs Go….as they say.

    Let’s kickoff the season and prove others and myself wrong, that this team is good.

    So ask me in 20 games  how this team is going to fare this season.

     

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

  39. CharlieHodgeFan says:

    I think the keeping of Price and trading away of Halak was a huge error, but when I read your post, I think you may represent a long winter’s reading. So we are going to slam Price when he sucks. What will this accomplish? We’ll write boring posts denouncing a trade that can’t be fixed now. We’ll say what’s been said over and over again. We will probably be dead right. Chances are, you and I and a thousand others could write those posts now, save them and paste them in when the expected happens.

    Either we all delete our accounts or we forget the trade, move on and discuss the team we have, and not the could have hads. Even with halak, the Habs would be fighting for a spot. “Pricebots”, “Halakites”, “fanboys” – scrap that language. We’re Habs fans, not Captain James T Kirk looking for strangely named aliens to boink.

    Start the season with a clean equipment bag and a freah bucket of febreze!

  40. MikeL says:

    Oh I agree completely.

  41. somerslovesthehabs says:

    brilliant response

    I guess it was Saku’s job to let a bunch of pansies like Guillaume Laten wearing a nice dress and Maxi Pad Lapierre grow a set of balls…amazing how dumb some habs fans are…if you call the Captain gutless then you obviously do not watch the games, but simply are an internet geek who blogs all day

  42. mbplekfan says:

    The trade was Halak for Plekanec, Eller, and Schultz.

    We are a better team because of it. All the naysayers dont understand how to operate in a salary cap league.

  43. G-Man says:

    Sorry, Boone, but I disagree with your math. Price should have been the one traded. Management should have found a way to keep the “performing” goalie.

    The team is what it is. Beyond the top 4, there isn’t much in terms of offense or toughness. If Price plays like he has since January of ’09, Habs are at best 9th with gusts to 12th. And, yes,  hope I am wrong, but I don’t think so. I have seen too much of the thoroughbred in nets to believe he is mentally tough enough to do it.

     

  44. Xtrahabsfan says:

    The fact is the Habs had a great young  goalie  named Halak and the Price -Auld  combo is pretty much a joke,which I  don’t find funny at all ! So …I’ll put it on the line ..for all you fans”just for you”,If by some  miracle Price  beats the Laughs and if Carey pulls of a winning  record in the next twenty games I will gladly delete my account and post NO MORE” Good deal for the Pricebots”,BUT if Carey craps the bed in the next 20 ,YOU MUST go to your nearest Depaner and buy some new rose colored glasses while crushing the old ones,then pick -up the shards ,put them in your beds and sleep on them for the complete freaking SEASON !

  45. SPATS says:

    No argument here, and a nice explanation of the Jaro/Pleks challenge.

    May I add that with a mentally and physically stronger team in front of him (and backing him) Carey shouldn’t have to be as spectacular as Jaro was. Imagine (it’s not a stretch) if Markov stays healthy, P.K. plays to his potential and Pleks gets more time on offense and less time on PK?  The extra scoring could be all that’s needed to reestablish Carey’s confidence. He’s gotta feel snakebit over the lack of support last year. Remember how solid he was 2 yrs ago at the start of the season? We got off to a great start before the team imploded around the all star break. That team wasn’t built to stand the pressure, this one is. JM’s koolaid is being gulped down, lessons have been learned, character has been built, and a solid team has been born. Stanley cup contenders? You bet your A$$ 

    OOH….AHH….HABS ON THE WARPATH!!!!!!!!

  46. habs001 says:

    if they play like they played last year there is no way price or any goalie can play 60 games…too many shots and constant stressfull pressure in our zone…there will be nights in the regular season when we give up 6-8 goals…auld better be ready and able to play 30-35 games….price may even get injured where he has to miss 3-4 weeks as our d will not intimidate any teams forwards from crashing the net…

  47. MathMan says:

    I’m optimisitic they’ll improve their overall game enough to avoid the lottery. ;)

    Given the unlikelihood of a repeat of last year’s unearthly goaltending (regardless of who is between the pipes), a bottom-5 finish would be a reasonable expectation. Yeah, I do think they have the roster to be much better than that but they have to overhaul their game if they want to be respectable.

    I’m also hopeful that when the Habs miss the playoffs, we won’t end up with Price being blamed even if it’s really about the Habs turning out to not be very good, but I’ve gotta admit that might be dreaming.

  48. Garcia says:

    Mr. Boone, thank you for reminding us that it was never about Halak versus Price. It was about being able to keep Plekanec, and still have a decent young netminder with a lower pricetag.

     

     

    yes, that’s jerry garcia shredding it in a habs sweater.

  49. Timo says:

    The decision to keep Price (god bless his soul) has Bobby Gainey written all over it. 

    As far as Subban goes, my biggest fear is that JM will tell him to play The System and completely ruin the kid. Does JM strike you as somebody who enjoys creativity and can take a player and use his talents to better the team? Could be just me. 

  50. thorandresson says:

    really? after less than a year you’re calling for his head?  What has he done to make you think that?

     

    The only move that I thought was very questionable was the Moore for a 2nd, but it proved to be a great move come playoff time.

  51. thorandresson says:

    nice post!

     

    But on your second scenario, the only thing I absolutely don’t see happening is Plekanec playing like a girl, he’s way past that and at worse he’ll play like a feisty woman.

  52. RJB says:

    Love it! Way to be Boone! So Pumped for thursday when we give the Loafs a good ol fashion stompin! Looking forward to spending the season with all of you here at HIO! We are lucky to have such a fantastic place to discuss the greatest franchise in the world! Cant wait for the first “About Last Night” Booner!!

    “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
    - Bilbo Baggins

  53. SeriousFan09 says:

    Knee surgery, not expected to play to start the season but could return within 10 games of the start.

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  54. petrov14 says:

    I think he even tried to play on it for a while before going on IR. 

    ______________________________________ Gionta IS Captain.

  55. SeriousFan09 says:

    Gionta could’ve been 6’7″, a puck hits your foot at full speed and it’ll break, that was just a bad-luck play and he’s been pretty durable in his career.

    Thanks for teeing it up Boone.

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  56. Number31 says:

    It’s all about The Secret. C’mon people! Think positive and the Universe will reward you!

  57. Danno says:

    Boone, this is way too positive and optimistic. We need your reverse jinx. But maybe not now. Maybe tomorrow. You decide. You’re the master of these things.

     

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  58. SeriousFan09 says:

    He did! That’s why me was my choice for the C, it was the 5-4 to Atlanta to kick off November he took the shot on his foot, it was also a 2G game for him. He then played 5 games with 2G and 1 assist in that time. Five games he played on a bad foot and scored during it. Tough beyond measure to do something like that and provide offensive impact no less.

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  59. B says:

    Both of you are speculating. No one knows what it would have taken to sign Halak. IIRC, Gauthier did not even bother talking to Halak before deciding to trade him. He was not “forced” to make the trade and it was not trade Halak or loose Plekanec. There were many ways it could have gone, Gauthier simply made his choice and made it fast.

  60. Rob says:

    Pure speculation but an interesting point to be sure!

    The Montreal Canadiens: sporting the best AND worst fans since 1909!

  61. Big Ted says:

    Love the line about the two skodas. Classic!

     

    I think a lot of what Boone wrote is true. There is reason for cautious optimism, but we’re going to have to give these guys 15-20 games before we know what our expectations should be this year. If Price plays well and the team gels early, we could be vying for home ice in the first round. If Price is inconsistent or injuries hit, we’ll be golfing early this year. I’m also one of those who don’t think Halpern is necessarily an upgrade. i think Boyd can bring some energy to the team, but Halpern has been on the decline for a couple of years, so we’ll have to see if he can ressurect his career here, and I don’t know that playing on the 4th line is going to do that.

    As for tonight’s game, the Habs will be in tough if they start out without their number one goalie, top two defencemen, and one of our top two forwards. We’re essentially missing 4 of our starting 6, if we look at it like a basketball team would. We will need Spacek to really step it up tonight or the D will be toast. Picard and OB cannot be expected to perform for more than 15 minutes without a major lapse or two, and the offensive contributions of OB, Gorges, and Gill are minimal. So it will take Spacek bringing it at both ends of the ice to make that D go without the top two. Up front, the Gomez-Gio line should be okay, but the guy who will need to make a difference is AK46. Eller’s a rookie and Pleks is reliablly good, but AK is the other factor that could push us one way or the other and decide whether we have one line or two going strong tonight. he needs to be the sniper on that line tonight and take advantage of Toronto’s slow D.

  62. Clay4bc says:

    Prefer all you like, but it’s still a rationalization.

    __________________________

    I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend your right to make yourself look stupid.

  63. TorontoHabsFan says:

    Yes, of course. As everybody knows, the more rational explanation is that management hates Halak and has a man-crush on Price.

  64. Mike Boone says:

    Thank you. But I prefer “explanation” to “rationalization”.

  65. showey47 says:

    Yup,apparently since day 1 price is and will always be the chosen one. Even though gainey had him traded for vinny in the summer of 2009. Then CJAD reports last thursday that halak did demand a trade around christmas and wasn’t giving a hometown discount meaning he wanted market value. They went on to say gauthier was notified by halak and his agent earlier on the the season what he wanted contract wise which was why there were no talks after the season. But the haters don’t like facts,they prefer to make up their own versions usually containing any variance of maybe’s,what if’s and yeah but’s. They deny the facts yet call the ones who know better “blind”, “delusional” or “wearing rose coloured glasses”.

  66. New says:

    Tweaking the nose of the LLSJ – Montreal Chapter – is a fairly bold move Mr Boone. And had the UFO hovered over his humble abode it may have been solely due  to the LLSJ’s critical finger and his quiet voice whispering “Red…call …home.”

  67. Richrebellion says:

    Interesting fact, last season Price played 14 different playoff teams in 26 different games. Halak played 8 different playoff teams in only 18 games. I think people on this site love to look at stats but I find it interesting that both goalie faced very different opponents and that Price actually had 8 more games against top teams. That can really change a goalies stats especially their win-loss record. Also Halak had a .919 against our division and a .924 against the conference where Price had a .944 against our division and a .920 against the conference. The difference between the two is mostly wins and how they played against the west. For those of you who think Price didnt play well last season consider those stats. 

  68. TorontoHabsFan says:

    There are 29 other teams in the NHL – perhaps you might want to follow one of them? At least until management in Montreal is more to your liking?

    It’s okay you know…you aren’t forced to support a team that disappoints you so.

  69. Steve in Kingston says:

    Mais franchement!  Déjà jamais autant de “slack” a été accordé a un joueur du Canadien qui le mérite moin.  Tu en veut ENCORE, Mike Boone?  

    Sa finit quand, exactement, cette charade?

     

     

     

  70. DCos says:

    Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ferme ton trou idiot! Il est temps pour quelque chose nouvelle. Cessez de se répéter. Vous ennuyez chacun sur HIO.

    Sa finit quand, exactement, ta charade?

     

    ———————————————————————— Whining, sniveling, complaining, negative “fans” annoy me. BG, PG and CP bashers….take a hike!

  71. Shiloh says:

    I disagree on your calculator instructions for Mr. Fisher, Boone. They could have traded Price for future picks, resulting in no Eller salary hit. They didn’t have to offer Pouliot such a large salary. They could have eaten a salary by putting somebody in the minors. Or they could have resigned Halak early enough that he might have cost a little less. There were ways to keep Halak, even if they weren’t pretty. The bottom line is that they decided to go with Price about three years ago and haven’t as yet changed their minds – and they were willing to part with Halak.

    I think it’s clear that Gautier has done this in good faith – and not out of animus toward Halak, for surely his job will be in jeopardy if Price is unable to raise his game. Hopefully he’s right. It was fun being a fan when the lads could win every night – Halak outright stole quite a few games the past couple of years, and it hurts that he’s gone.

    Lastly, even if Auld can’t step in, we’ve got a couple of young guys who could turn out to be the next Plante or Sawchuk – or not. 

  72. Propwash says:

    Everyone here can give 10, 15, 20 games. I’m waiting till the end of the season to pass judgement. One cannot tell who is going to be where after 82 games, its a crapshoot at best.

     

    Goalies in Montreal have two roles, netminder and scapegoat. 

  73. Mats Naslund says:

    15 Games? After Game 82 we still had no clue last year!

  74. RiverviewCanadien says:

    Awesome post Boone.

    I am on board.

  75. Willy the bum says:

    Let the regular season begins!

    And my great support for Price, I wish him the best out of this year!

    THE VERY BEST!!!

  76. ManApart says:

    The idea that it was Price and Pleks or Halak and no Pleks is nonsense. To suggest Montreal couldn’t find 1 million dollars more (almost Eller’s salary) to keep both Halak and Pleks instead of Price and Pleks is silly. Surprised a wise old cat, like yourself Boone, would come to such a conclusion. If Gauthier was into Halak as much as he was Price, Halak would be here (along with Pleks) and Price would be in St. Louis or wherever. No question about that one.

  77. ShyS says:

    ignorance on my behalf: i don’t bet the mathieu darche, dawson, ryan white comment. explanation?

  78. doogmac says:

    darche is only with the team because he’s french

  79. scrowe21 says:

    Price makes or breaks this entire season for us..

    ——–

    http://www.easports.com/media/play/video/24279250

    My spinorama shootout goal with Cammy

  80. likehoy says:

    i hope that’s an overstatement…I know it’s in the habs culture to embrace your goalie like the second coming of Jesus (no pun intended)…but it’d be nice for once if we had a team that was so dominant on the ice that it wouldn’t matter if we got solid goaltending or not.

    at the end of the day i don’t care if my goalie has a GAA of 4.5 if we’re scoring 5 goals a game.

    - I support Carey Price as the Number 1 Goalie!

  81. andrewberkshire says:

    Can’t wait to see this team play in its entirety.

  82. showey47 says:

    “Then a creature looking like something out of District 9 could have rung Red’s bell and said:

    “Mr. Fisher, we bring you a technological device that is a product of our highly advanced culture. It’s called a calculator.”

    Armed with his gift from the aliens, the LLSJ might have been able to punch in enough numbers to understand what Pierre Gauthier realized at the end of last season: There was no way the Canadiens could sign an arbitration-eligible Halak AND impending UFA Tomas Plekanec.”-  Thank you Mr.Boone.

  83. Keith says:

    Amen to that. That’s the best rationalization of “The Trade” that I’ve read on here.

  84. Rob says:

    I think what some people forget in the whole “why would Halak mean no Pleks” take on things, is that it probably would have taken more than the 3.75 he got in St Louis to keep halak in Montreal.  Everyone assumes 3.75 was what he and his agent were looking for.  But 3.75 in St. Louis is a lot different than 3.75 in Montreal.  A lot of people forget that when they compare salaries players took in other markets and assume we could have had them at that price.

    Another one is Moore signing in Tampa.  Some people assume we could have had Moore at the rate he signed in Tampa Bay and are astounded as to why we didn’t re-sign him.  Well, I doubt Moore would have signed in Montreal at that price tag.  There is no income tax in Florida, so it would have required Moore making approximately twice as much in Montreal to take home the same amount of pay as he will with the bolts. 

    So I guess what i’m saying is that, implying keeping Halak over Price would have only cost the Habs a million dollars more against the cap may be a little misleading and oversimplifying a complicated situation. 

    The Montreal Canadiens: sporting the best AND worst fans since 1909!

  85. SPATS says:

    Halak would’ve probably stayed for less than 3.75 as he would have cashed in on endorsments much better in Mtl than St Louis

    OOH AAH – HABS ON THE WARPATH!

  86. mrhabby says:

    Nice Post Boone. you captured what we basically have all been thinking. Lots of question marks. I only have one wish that we have alot less games lost due to injuries. i want to see the team play together for all or the majority of the season.

    ps.season is not all on price.


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