HIO on the road

on_the_road_book_cover

Not the whole sick crew, but 33.3 per cent of Hockey Inside/Out’s crackerjack staff is in Calgary with the Canadiens.
Patrick V. Hickey is taking some time off to recharge his batteries for the final playoff push.
Dave Stubbs is monitoring Jean Béliveau’s recovery and seeing to family business.
So by process of elimination …

Yeah, it’s the ol’ live blogger, dragged kicking and screaming off the couch in his basement to do something resembling honest work.

I’ve packed enough undies, socks and meds to see me through Sunday in Vancouver; and I’ll be covering the Canadiens’ western swing, starting Tuesday night at the Saddledome in Calgary … where it’s snowing like stink on this fine Monday evening as I drag my fat butt back to the Westin after an expense-account feast at Joey Tomatoes.

The Canadiens have lost their last five games in Calgary. They’re riding a 2-7-2 streak into Edmonton and are 2-8-2 in Vancouver since the 1999-2000 season.

The trip got off to an inauspicious start. Three Montreal writers – myself, Marc Antoine Godin of La Presse and the Journal de Montréal’s Jonathan Bernier (not the goalie) – staked out the Flames’ morning eeting, hoping to speak to the ever-quotable Mike Cammalleri.

It was not to be.

Cammalleri sustained an upper-body knack in Calgary’s 3-2 loss to Dallas Sunday night. It will keep him out of the game against the Canadiens, and injured players don’t talk to the media in these parts.

In any event, the big news was back in Brossard, where Andrei Markov had his first full-contact practice with the Canadiens.

Maybe we’ll see Markov is one of the four games of a road trip that concludes in Buffalo Monday night.

I share Hickey’s opinion that the Canadiens ought to play him before the season ends.

Let’s see where Markov is at, recovery wise.

A good fix on the defenceman’s condition will be one less concern heading into training camp in September. The Canadiens began the 2011-’12 season with a big question mark hanging over Markov’s head – and we’ve all seen what happened.

So here’s the deal on HIO while I’m living out of a suitcase:

Business as usual with the liveblog, but I might have to shut ‘er down during the third period to write buzzer-beater stories for the dead-trees Gazette.

There will be Reader’s Digest versions of About Last Night … because I’ll be doing room quotes for the Gazette web site and catching early flights to Edmonton and Van.

Multimedia is iffy because I’ve only got two hands. I’ll give it the old college try.

And I’ll be counting on the dedicated Commentariat to stay up late, watch the games and fill the site with trenchant observations.

Hark! The room-service masseuse is at the door.

Later.

•  •  •

Freed from the shackles of a non-compete clause that ran until March, former La Presse sports columnist has launched his Journal career with a blistering attack on the three men he blames for the Canadiens’ troubles: Pierre Gauthier, Bob Gainey and Geoff Molson.

Love him or hate him, Tremblay is always a great read.

•  •  •

Huge win over Buffalo in Winnipeg, where the Jets have won 21 of their 35 home games (vs. the Canadiens’ 12 wins in 35 games at the Bell Centre.

The Jets are sitting eighth, but 10 of their last 15 are on the road, where Winnipeg’s 11 wins are fewer than any Eastern Conference team except Carolina.

41 Comments

  1. bigjames says:

    mike, wow first road trip i can remember since hio started. how was the plane ride? must be cool to be out there…
    always wondered what the deal was… clearly the rds crew travels on the habs charters, but others (ie those hacks with beat up hondas) either drive or catch horrific connections on lame commercial airlines to get to the games. mike, can you shed any light on that?

  2. Un Canadien errant says:

    I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, so here goes. Let’s try to figure out what the Hamilton Bulldogs’ roster will look like next season. This is difficult without knowing what the Canadiens’ roster will be, it’s putting the cart before the horse, but what the heck, we have six months to kill before another meaningful season starts, so we should stay busy.

    ***Note: this is just a fan’s view, just noodling around, please offer any feedback or corrections you may have. Just trying to figure out where we’re headed in the next couple seasons.***

    To make room for an onslaught of prospects, we’ve eliminated a lot of players like Brian Willsie, Olivier Fortier, Danny Massé, Philippe Lefebvre and Joe Callahan who for the most part were not drafted, were offered contracts on a tryout basis and are not showing much promise.

    First, let’s think about the defence. The following players are expected to make the jump to the AHL next season: Mark Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu, Morgan Ellis, Darren Dietz and Greg Pateryn. With this much influx, I think that Mac Bennet will be strongly encouraged to remain at Michigan for at least another season, seeing as he’s only a sophomore and can benefit from another season at the college level, and it will ease the introduction of so many youngsters in the system. Holdovers would be Brendon Nash, and Frédéric St-Denis. Let’s add Alex Henry for size, and Joe Stejskal for experience (he’s 23) and also because he’s only had one season in Hamilton, let’s give him a chance. On a hunch, let’s also put Raphaël Diaz on this list, he may start the season in the AHL.

    On offence, we’re adding Michaël Bournival, Brendan Gallagher and Patrick Holland from the junior ranks. On a hunch, from Northeastern University, let’s add Steve Quailer. After three seasons, and although he spent an entire season on the sidelines with a knee injury, and therefore could spend another two seasons there, he may no longer have anything to learn and be ready for the pros. Also on a hunch, let’s add Danny Kristo, although he has another year of eligibility at North Dakota.

    Holdovers would be Robert Slaney, Alain Berger, Andrew Conboy, Joonas Nattinen, Gabriel Dumont, Ian Schultz, and Alexander Avtsin. Based on the current roster, and on a coin flip, let’s act as if Michael Blunden and Louis Leblanc will be on the Canadiens’ roster at the start of the season, and Andreas Engqvist, Aaron Palushaj and Blake Geoffrion will at least start with the Bulldogs.

    Strictly based on the info we have on our prospects based in Europe none are ready to make the jump, so we won’t add any to our putative roster, although we’d love it if Daniel Pribyl came out to play Junior hockey here. Then again, maybe he’s better off at home playing against men, what do we know…

    In goal, there isn’t anyone in the system, so we’ll have status quo unless we add free agents. Any draft pick in June will not make it to the Bulldogs next season.
    So the roster looks like this:

    FORWARDS
    Geoffrion-Engqvist-Palushaj
    Quailer-Nattinen-Kristo
    Holland-Bournival-Gallagher
    Berger-Dumont-Avtsin
    Conboy-Slaney-Schultz

    DEFENCE
    Diaz-St-Denis
    Tinordi-Nash
    Beaulieu-Pateryn
    Mitera-Dietz
    Ellis-Stejskal
    Henry

    GOALIE
    Robert May
    Nathan Lawson

    Notes:
    1) That’s still a lot of bodies. We have to remember that the Bulldogs will be hit by injuries, and that will cull the herd. More injuries in Montréal will occasion some callups.
    2) With a lot of prospects in general and on defence in particular, we may flip two or three of them for one or two serviceable NHL’ers, just to get through next year.
    3) The line combos don’t reflect any preferences or ideal matches, at best we have centres in the right position. The farm team is heavy on the right wing but light on the left.
    4) Defence pairing just match left and right-handed defencemen, but again they do not show preferable matches.
    5) The Canadiens have a need for one or two steady defensive defencemen with size. While we may address this need through trades or free agency, Mark Mitera and Greg Pateryn both fit that bill and may be given a good shot at making the ‘grand club’, if the team decides next year is a development year.
    6) While Brendan Gallagher would benefit from a year of playing big minutes in the AHL, he may also get to stay with the big club if he has an even better training camp next summer. We got the feeling that if he had buried two or three opportunities, he would have stuck last season, so he’s on the radar, and the Canadiens are devoid of forward talent, of forwards who can score, so he might get those big minutes in the NHL anyway.
    7) This would be a very young team, even for the AHL I think, so some of those players we’ve cut right off the bat may be important in terms of team chemistry and composition. Brian Willsie was brought in specifically to fill the veteran role, so he and others may be retained. The Canadiens could deal with this even bigger logjam by not graduating Danny Kristo and Steve Quailer early, or sending some younger prospects to Wheeling in the East Coast League. There’s always the option of getting some prospects to play an extra year in junior, but from what we’ve heard that’s not a great option and usually an indication that the player is not ready for the next step.
    8 ) Overall, this is a much more talented team than the current Bulldogs team, but they may struggle again next year with their lack of experience. Two seasons from now we’d be more justified in expecting good results, especially if a quality goaltender were added.

    ———————————
    How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?

    http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

    • HabinBurlington says:

      First Chuck provides an indepth analysis for us to wade through and now you create this! Haven’t even had time to digest our ineptitude since 79. Give us time Normand, I think in glancing you have done some nice legwork for us to peruse through, pick at and then rip to shreds.

      Thank you sir!

    • LafleurGuy says:

      Nice! Can understand why a West Coaster, up so late, didn’t post on the new thread. Watched the Bulldogs against Redwings farmhands. Detroit has some dandies. Bulldogs have a regimented style and in my opinion, a good coaching strategy in defending vigorously first, and Larry Robinson/Andrei Markov type breakout passes used often. Brian Willsie played hurt, but was effective. He’s getting up in years. Robert Slaney was a good pick-up. “Middle-aged/has size.” Avtsin is raw. Got off two good shots, easily frustrated. Unforturnately, Ian Schulz appeared out of shape.

      “May you live in interesting times.”

    • Viruk42 says:

      Mark Tinordi?

    • veryhabby says:

      Errant…a few things to consider still.

      Neither Kristo nor Pateryn have yet been signed by MTL. Now NHL teams are only allowed an x amount of pro-contracts per year. I think we are almost at the limit. So either the Dogs season has to end and MTL let some of the outside players walk as UFAs…or maybe MTL does not intend on signing these 2 players. My understanding is both of these guys have to be signed this summer or we lose their rights (ie they become NCAA free agents that other teams can pick up).

      Got to think that MTL won’t let Kristo go. But when it comes to Pateryn…if there’s no spot for him maybe they let him go? Again, there are only so many pro contracts they can give out. And we seem to have descent depth for the D corp in HAmilton.

      Time will tell. But for sure we ought to have a better AHL team next year. Don’t forget our top 5 pick this June. He will either play with habs or dogs. I have this top 5 pick in our line up next year, but with the habs who knows..they may return the kid to CHL!!!

      • Un Canadien errant says:

        Quite right that NHL teams have only 50 contracts they can have with players. I think they are now at that number. If they sign Mr. Kristo and Pateryn they will have to drop a couple of players that are underperforming, as I described in my post.

        http://www.capgeek.com/reserve_lists.php?team_id=2

        As far as the Top 5 pick, he will not play in Hamilton. All junior players can make the jump straight to the NHL, but if they’re not ready, they must go back to junior for another year. Maybe a European player can go to the AHL, but only Filip Forsberg falls in that category, and he would be ready for the NHL according to scouts, so no Bulldogs for him.

        ———————————
        How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?

        http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

    • alwayssunny says:

      I can help clarify the situation in Hamilton next year by illustrating what the Canadiens lineup will look like. I am leaving Moen and Staubitz off the roster because I doubt that Gainey will resign them though he does hold his cards pretty close to his vest. Same with Campoli though they like to have a lot of guys like him on the roster for depth. I am fairly certain Darche will be back and Nokelainen as they played very well for us and the 4th line doesnt matter anyway, it can be neglected or filled in with any old players.
      There will be perhaps a free agent acquisition at both forward and defense but I am unable to predict the future. I don’t think they will want to tinker with this lineup because as they have told us many times they love it. Anyway –
      Cole – Desharnais – Max Pac
      Gionta – Plekanec – Gomez
      Bourque – Eller – Leblanc
      Darche – Nokelainen – White
      Weber/Palushaj/Geoffrion
      I think if we can keep everybody healthy we can do a lot of damage with those forwards. I would help you further with the defensemen but this will have to do for now, it takes a lot of time to make projections.

  3. The Cat says:

    I have fond memories of the Jack Kerouac book.

    [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

  4. nickster13 says:

    Where’s all the action at! Leafs suck! Habs need to get better by next year! Lets go!

    “I don’t wanna see Maurice tonight, I want the rocket!”

  5. Timo says:

    Boone is in my part of the world. Should I invite him for some tea and cookies?

  6. Chuck says:

    Earlier on today someone on another thread posted something to the effect of “The Habs have sucked since the late ’70′s.”

    (I guess that they were just plain lucky in ’86 an ’93, but that’s another story.)

    Here are the regular season win totals for teams that have won the Stanley Cup since ’78-’79, the last year that the Habs “didn’t suck”. Tampa’s not included, since their franchise hasn’t been around that long. Also included are worst seasons over that span, as well as worst back-2-back season win totals.

    ……………………..REG/WINS….WORST….WORST B2B
    EAST
    Boston Bruins…………….1207……….24…………60
    Montreal Canadiens..1187……….28…………63
    New York Rangers…..1130……….25…………58
    Pittsburgh Penguins..1109……….16…………34
    New Jersey Devils/….1074……….17………..34
    Colorado Rockies
    Carolina Hurricanes/..1016……….19………..40
    Hartford Whalers
    New York Islanders……981……….21………..45

    WEST
    Detroit Red Wings……….1237……………17………..40
    Calgary Flames…………..1167……………26………..56
    Edmonton Oilers…………1144……………25………..51
    Colorado Avalanche/…..1133……………12………..28
    Quebec Nordiques
    Chicago Blackhawks…..1096…………….20………..50
    Dallas Stars/……………..1089…………….19………..46
    Minnesota N.Stars

    Among Stanley Cup winners since 1979-80, the Habs have the third-highest regular season win total, after Detroit and Boston. Detroit has been a tail of two franchises; they sucked hard before the mid-nineties and have been a class act since then. The Bruins have racked up some massive single-season win totals, though they haven’t been able to string them together like the Red Wings.

    Interestingly, no team has had a better ‘worst’ season over all those years than the Habs, with a 28-win season. Think back to how bad the Canadiens were then, then realize that every other team was, at some point, even worse… sometimes by a LOT.

    Same goes for their worst back-to-back regular season totals. The Habs at their worst still managed to string together 63 wins. the only other team to break 60 was Boston. Even the vaunted Red Wings had to suffer through a 17-win season. And imagine having to endure a measly 28 wins over two seasons as the Nordiques did before packing up and heading west. That equals the Habs’ worst single season.

    Additionally, on average the higher win totals come from the west, suggesting that the competition in divisions, over time, has been a little easier for the western clubs.

    Regardless of what the naysayers bray, over the years we’ve been lucky as Hab fans. Arguably no other team has been more consistent and easy to cheer for over the last 30+ years. Just as every other team has had their swoons, so have the Canadiens; it just goes to show that being good enough to win the Cup doesn’t preclude you from periods of drought, though the Habs have been better at being good over the long haul than just about anybody.

    Looking at the big picture makes it easier to handle seasons like this. Hey… s**t happens, as it happens to every other team in the league. Better times will come.

    Being a Hab fan is like buying real estate: only over the long-haul will you appreciate the true value of your investment.

    • Clay says:

      Wow Chuck…you have definitely proven your point.

      In the process, you’ve also proven that you have too much time on your hands. :D

      Just a couple of things though…you mention that the Habs have not had ‘to endure a measly 28 wins over two seasons as the Nordiques did before packing up and heading west’. Quite correct, but it was those very seasons that allowed the Nordiques to draft the players that made them the best team in the league for a time – well, high drafting and a stupid Habs GM who gave them Roy for next to nothing. We also need some very bad years to replenish the talent, and not having them over the past 30 years has cost this team in the long run.

      Second; while I agree with your general premise that the Habs have been good over that time frame, in the end success in this sport is not measured by regulation wins, but by Stanley Cups. Had we won the cup just once in the past few years, it might not seem so bad overall…but the fact remains we are in a serious drought.

      Despite the heroic Halak/Cammy miracle run of 2010, our best chance to win would likely have been in 2008, when the mighty Habs were the Northeast Division and Eastern Conference regular season champions, amassing 104 points. However, that was the year that a young Price fell apart vs. the Flyers in the second round – a series in which the Habs thoroughly dominated every aspect of the game save for goaltending. That was our shot, and it sucks not to have won it when we had all of the tools in place (except the right goalie in net).

      Don’t get the idea I am throwing Price under the bus for that, despite my pointing out that he was the element that failed – in the end the blame falls on Bob Gainey, who foolishly thought he was ready. The irony is that Price MAY be ready now (the jury is still out), but has a terrible team in front of him.

      __________________________
      ☞ If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong. ☜

      • Un Canadien errant says:

        Clay, I believe your second point is neither here nor there. It may be true, but it’s not germane to the point Chuck is trying to make, which is to disprove the notion that the Canadiens have sucked since the 70′s. His research and the numbers he provides do a good job of providing context and showing that we may be spoiled when we make statements such as those. They show a relatively consistent team that hasn’t reached the abysmal lows that qualify as ‘sucking’.

        ———————————
        How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?

        http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

        • Clay says:

          Well Normand, I did say I agreed that we haven’t ‘sucked’, so I guess I agree with you. But I still stand by the assertion that it is the cup that matters. Of course, this means there are a LOT of teams that have been total failures in the same time frame. I must admit though that I was impressed with the regular season record, and would not have guess we did that well, despite closely following the team.
          I wonder though – if we looked at playoff series victories since say 1990, how would the Habs measure up? I wish I had the time to look now, but it’s bedtime in Shanghai.

          __________________________
          ☞ If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong. ☜

          • Un Canadien errant says:

            I’m with you on that last point. My friend Bob over the years would cackle with glee when his Leafs were doing well and say: “We’re in the playoffs for sure.” He’d then say: “You guys are doing well, you’re in the playoffs.” I had to explain a couple of times that for us, making the playoffs was not a positive thing. If it was ever in doubt, then the season was a disappointment. We only cared whether we could go through the Nordiques and the Bruins and the Flyers. Making the playoffs and getting through Hartford was just a speed bump on the way to the only thing that mattered. Of course, we’ve lately readjusted our criteria a notch or two.

            ———————————
            How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?

            http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

    • Cal says:

      Wow, the Habs have sucked for decades! (hyper-sarcasm)

    • HabinBurlington says:

      Yah but….I was told otherwise on this very site!

      Good work Chuck, thought I saw smoke rising over the northwest corner of Burlington, must have been coming out of your computer.

    • punkster says:

      Heresy and witchcraft, Chuck. This team sucks. They’re the suckiest suck that ever sucked suck. Just ask anybody here.

      ;) Good stuff!

      ***Subbang Baby!!!***

  7. McKanadiens says:

    Thursday’s a big 4-pointer for us!

  8. jedimyrmidon says:

    Quote from a Leafs fan on NHL.com:
    “I mean its ridiculous, the Habs make the playoffs every year almost, they win the east a few years ago, make it to the eastern conference finals in 2010, and now they take a year off to grab a malkin/ ovi caliber player. :( u guys are lucky.”

    Reactions?
    Derisive snort at low standards? Acknowledgement that things haven’t been all that bad? Only The Cup matters – anything else is meaningless/not worth watching?

    • jols101 says:

      If more leaf fans were like this guy and new their place in hockey hiarchy i wouldnt hate them so much and would even think about wanting them in the playoffs. But most of them are just tools and think the leafs are the most important franchise in the league when its obviously the CH…Clowns!!!

    • jedimyrmidon says:

      You know, it’s interesting. I’ve read many discussions about optimists vs. pessimists (often called realists) on this site. I get the impression that many think that even the past few years have been terrible, not worth it because management promotes mediocrity and nothing else. And yet, everything in that quote is true, which starkly contrasts with the doom and gloom picture I often read about. Maybe it’s the horrible season the Habs are having.

  9. club_de_hockey says:

    Yo Boone hit me up when you get to Vancouver. I know all the best poutine places in town. And the best local watering holes/seafood restaurants to drown your sorrows after the all-too-familiar Habs loss after blowing a lead! ;)

  10. sreuel says:

    This blog from Boone was about ?

  11. gohabsgo25 says:

    hey does anyone know when the habs practice tomorrow

  12. boing007 says:

    The Canadiens have lost their last five games in Calgary. They’re riding a 2-7-2 streak into Edmonton and are 2-8-2 in Vancouver since the 1999-2000 season.

    Sounds promising.

    Richard R

  13. JIMVINNY says:

    Welcome to Calgary, Boone. Mother Nature decided to pretend like it’s Montreal, just for a couple of days, so we have a bit more snow than is usual for this time of year. Hope you enjoy yourself… But not too much.


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