Quick Hits

sabresgerbegrier

The word on everyone’s lips, players and pundits:

Desperation.

The Sabres are in a despaerate fight for a playoff spot, and they played that way.

The Canadiens are in a more advantageous position … although a W would have kept them closer to Boston, heading into the Thursday showdown.

As it is, the Bruins beat another desperate team, New Jersey, to go three points up on the Canadiens with two games in hand. They have a chance to pretty much sew up the Northeast Division with a win on Thursday.

Hal Gill talked about “scratch and claw” hockey at this time of the season.

Brian Gionta said the Canadiens were “a step behind” the Sabres for most of the game.

Jacques Martin offered the most detailed analysis.

The coach said his team “didn’t go to the net with authority” to create traffic and scoring chances against Ryan Miller.

During the second period, Martin said, the Canadiens failed to get pucks deep behind the Buffalo defence and committed several neutral-zone turnovers against the Sabres’ disciplined – and, yes, boring – checking scheme.

The result was the Canadiens spending too much of the middle period in their own end.

And the result of that was fatigue and too many penalties.

Every Canadiens defenceman except Roman Hamrlik took a minor penalty of the step-behind-the-play variety: Hal Gill for tripping, P.K. Subban for interference, Paul Mara for cross-checking, Alexandre Picard for tripping, James Wisniewski for hooking.

Contrast this to Buffalo: Brad Boyes for tripping early in the first period, Thomas Vanek for dumping Carey Price – and negating a Buffalo power play – early in the second period.

That was it. Down the stretch, Buffalo played 37 minutes of penalty-free hockey: an indicator of their discipline but also of the Canadiens inability/unwillingness to press the play and force defenders into infractions.

The Canadiens have taken 332 minor penalties this season, second only to Pittsburgh’s 339. Buffalo is third, with 322. Again, the Sabres’ ability to stay out of the box was either a tribute to their discipline or an indicator of how easy it is to handle the Canadiens within the rules of the game.

As several players noted, the game typified late season/playoff hockey to a greater degree than the Canadiens loss at Madison Square Garden or their romp in Minnesota.

Those eight goals against the Wild were a week’s supply for this team.

• The Canadiens have been shut out seven times this season, three on home ice. Ryan Miller’s goose egg was the first laid on the Canadiens since Mikka Kiprusoff did it in the Feb. 20 outdoor game.

• The PK pitched an 0-for, with Scott Gomez contributing particular yeoman service. He also skated miles and went 8-5 on faceoffs. But Gomez made a bad pass in the third period and drew boos from the cheap seats. Tough crowd.

• Roman Hamrlik played 23:15. He’s most effective under 20:00.

• I thought Lars Eller had a tough time with tight Buffalo checking.

• Good night for Smurfs: two goals by Nathan Gerbe and a solid effort by David Desharnais. DD was minus-2, but the first goal he was on for was attributable to Ryan White’s inability to clear the zone. Then DD was on when Andrei Kostitsyn’s bad pass led to Gerbe’s empty-netter.

• P.K. played 24:20 and was the best skater in a red jersey.

More tomorrow.

64 Comments

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  3. Chris F says:

    Who the F*ck is this Observer idiot. I come on here to read about the Habs, and this Hick Boston Fan is on here spreading his germs.
    Sickening. Get a life. Nobody wants to read your BS.

  4. Guy-Guy-Guy says:

    Tonight a solid, well coached and hungry team won the game.

    I was actually very impressed with the Sabres, they didn’t give up too many chances, and putting the puck behind Miller is never easy. They moved the puck very well.

    As a habs fan I’m happy the Sabres are doing great. Make the playoffs Sabres, and knock Philly out of our way.

    The habs will play .500 hockey untill Plekanec is back, we simply cannot absorb that loss.

  5. maiolola@comcast.net says:

    You make some good points IDLE but I would still like the opportunity to have 8 million to go after a couple of free agent forwards.

    L Train

  6. maiolola@comcast.net says:

    Here lies the real problem: Gomez is a noose around the Habs neck that is going to cripple the team for the next three years. We have numerous D-Men to sign which means no money to buy some help up front. Imagine if Gomez wasn’t here. You can buy a couple of 20+ goal scorers with his almost $8M salary. That would have added about another 35-40 goals for the Habs this year which would have translated into a few more wins and at least 3rd place in the East right now.

    L Train

    • idle says:

      It’s easy when you are dealing with projections on spending money, to simply acquire 20 goal scorers. The reality is that as many times as not it does not work out that way. The only 20 goal scorers on this team this season may be Plekanec, Gionta and Kostitsyn. Cammalerri may get there and probably would have if not for his injury but injuries are part of the equation.

      You can’t get two of the three players above for Gomez salary and even if you did they may not score 20 next season too.

      How many years in a row have we had at least a couple of players to constantly complain about because they were under producing? Players not meeting expectations are a fact of life. Just like there are those who have surprise years.

      Even if they could get out from Gomez contract, it does not magically mean we get two players who play to their full potential.

      Gomez is not worth his contract.

      • Iceberg84 says:

        Let’s see

        In 09/10: A. Kostitsyn, S. Kostitsyn, Hamrlik, Latendresse and Gomez were scapegoats

        In 08/09: Plekanec, D’Agostini and Price were scapegoats

        In 07/08: I think Ryder was the only major one

        In 06/07: The players put up nice stats except for +/- which was awful, but I guess Kovalev was a pretty big scapegoat that year along with Samsonov

        Yeah, you’ve got a point, we always have to have someone to complain about and since he signed here it’s been Gomez :)

        I honestly can’t see Montreal getting rid of him though. I bet even if he were placed on waivers no one would want him and all it would do is hurt the team’s morale (I assume).

  7. RiverviewCanadien says:

    The Canadiens will make the playoffs, there is no question about that. The problem is if they slip to 7th or 8th. If that happens, I really don’t see them getting past the first round. WSH and PHI are just miles better.

    They need to play against BOS or PIT (IMO, TBL won’t be in the picture as a team to face). That will be the only way they have a chance to go for a deep run like last year.

    I hope Pleks does not play against BOS on Thursday and gets the rest he needs, he is their best player and the team needs him to be at his best.

    Price has been unbelievable this season. That kid is just BRILLIANT night after night.

    • The Cat says:

      Just like people were too quick to crucify Price last year, so they are too quick to praise him. Hes been good thanks in large part to suffocating defense, and this Hart talk is too much. Rinne and Lundqvist especially are just as worthy IMO

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

      • RiverviewCanadien says:

        No question about it, Price did not have a great year last year.

        I also do not want to take anything away from the defense, because they have been great on some nights. Effective at clearing the crease on most occasions and allowing him to see the puck, but without Price playing like he has this year…this team might be clawing for a playoff berth.

      • Bill J says:

        “So they are too quick to praise him” ?? What ???

        No – Many people have been praising Price for 3 years now. Stating this is the first year he receives praise is a “Blinders ON” statement.

        As for the Hart talk ?

        Rinne – has Weber & Suter.
        Lundqvist – has a TEAM in front of him
        Thomas – has a TEAM in front of him
        Luongo – has a DREAM TEAM in front of him
        Price – had a team of injured players all season long, and on many nights was arguably THE reason the Habs were even IN the game.

        Now consider another angle, how many “Molson Cups” does Price have to win before being respected ?

        Join the Facebook Group: Carey Price Is ALL HART in 2010/2011!.

      • Jan_pronounced_Yan says:

        If you check the CKAC website, there is an article in which none other than Martin Brodeur himself says Price should win the Vezina because the way in which Price has won his games combined with the number of key injuries on the Habs’ defense makes him the best goalie in the league this year.

        As for the Hart talk, I don’t think Rinne is as strong a candidate. Lindback played many games while he was hurt and Nashville did very well. Lundqvist hasn’t had to deal with the depleted defense that Price has, and the Rangers are more offensively oriented as well. There are many great candidates for the Hart, but Price definitely deserves to be mentioned.

    • observer says:

      As secure as they seem to be in a playoff spot they are not assured of anything. As you obviously say Buffalo and Rangers may well pass them and if by miracle Carolina wins out or close to that , they too can still catch the Habs if they go cold. I don’t think that will happen but if they do keep losing most of their games they are headed to 7th or 8th and early playoff exit. Tampa Bay is still in range for Habs more so then Boston, but they must start winning, Cammaleri must start scoring, Gomez is a write-off. Pacoretti injury killed this team this year.

    • idle says:

      Trying to figure out which team we would or would not beat in the first round might be fun to speculate on but when game 1 starts you can chuck all the predictions out the window. Things rarely go as planned in the playoffs.

  8. rob_c says:

    Boring game? Up until the end I thought it was. Disappointing result? Definitely. Why is it Most of us blow up every loss, start pointing fingers at coaching, players, management etc. Our centres were Gomez, Desharnais, Eller and I believe Pyatt. Martin and Muller should not have been playing a run and gun game with those 4 as the centres. Usually I can tell in the first 5 minutes of a game if were going to win or not. I don’t know if Martin is rubbing off on me but the game against Washington last week drove me nuts it was so offensive. Its clear we were playing to Washingtons strengths not ours. I’m almost wondering if Martin should try matching Plekanec against another teams 2nd/3rd/4th lines for a game or two to try to create some more offense. Just a thought.

  9. Fiat says:

    We got good depth ,lots of speed ,youth,and good experience,good defensively ,good coaching and a good system …Given how the veterans did last spring and the stepping up of our youth i think our team will be very unpredictable in the playoffs . We could go out early or gell as we get players back and go all the way ……

  10. Fiat says:

    Sabres used the same stick checking ,stick on the puck when loose all the time as the Habs uses . It keeps the better teams off their game by using our speed to rush jst to touch loose pucks first ….Sabres used it last night ,turned the tables on us effectively .We are a checking counter attack team but when another team uses same style against us they usually win…..

  11. Fiat says:

    Enquivest seems solid ,responsable ,good size hope we keep him and add Shultz next year …..We are doing fine considering all the missing pieces …..If we had Plecanics last night we would have scored at least one goal …..

  12. in habs we trust says:

    After the way our third line played sunday,I thought maybe JM would have had them start to-nite. Instead they got on the ice with 9:44 left in the first peroid. I don’t think this sends a positive message to the players.This might be some of the reasons why JM has never won anything. Just a thought. P.S. I agree with Timo about Cammy.

  13. habs365 says:

    Pretty even game….difference….Habs couldn’t score

  14. HotHabs says:

    Very sad and reactionary play by the Hockey’s tonight. I expected a lot more, as I’m sure we all did.
    I believe the coaches should’ve prepped them by riding the ‘high’ of their previous scoring spree and asked them for as much offense as possible. However, they played “safe” and it resulted in Miller having a rather easy night’s work with mostly perimeter shots without traffic in front.
    This was a game they needed to win, if only for morale and mental prep for the B’s this week.
    I would’ve thought this team would be hungry to take over 5th spot and even fight for NE crown in order to gain home ice advantage. It didn’t happen – they were flat. It can’t be pinned on only one or two players either. The whole team played a sit back and wait for mistakes game and it burned them – a coaching gaff.
    Now, despite all the injuries, blah blah blah pity party. There are some high-paid veterans who could make a difference but aren’t setting much example of any kind. Pleks is sorely missed – the real captain of this team.
    I still feel this team can get past the 1st round, but after that it’s up to the hockey gods. Ya can’t ride a hot goalie forever, especially if nobody scores…

    • observer says:

      5th spot? They are on their way to 7th or 8th and a first round exit vs. Washington or Philadelphia which comes with it. Buffalo wanted this game more and it showed all game long. Most Hab shots were not good scoring chances. Injuries have hurt them, Minnesota never showed up. Cammaleri has lost his scoring touch.

  15. Robert L says:

    The bottom line is that the Canadiens, with all their injuries, with three rookie centers and the fourth being Gomez, are not going to beat a Lindy Ruff coached team that battles for every inch of ice, especially as Buffalo is desperately clinging onto the 8th seed, by playing in a defensive shell.

    During a break in play in the first period, Joel Bouchard asked Muller about the Canadiens stepping it up offensively, and Kirk immediately cautioned that it wasn’t in the game plan. Certainly Kirk wasn’t about to mention playing with three rookie centers, but his comments suggested that the team play with the intent of committing as few mistakes as possible, while capitalizing on Sabres errors.

    As it went, Buffalo made few mistakes, and their strong puck pursuit style forced all the errors they needed Montreal to commit to beat them.

    I thought the game was as exciting as watching a chess match.

    The Canadiens appeared to shrink, becoming tentative the closer they got to Miller, as though afraid of committing mistakes. After scoring eight in Minny, their inclinations might have been to go on the offensive, but their instructions were otherwise.

    I’d rather have seen them lose a wild game, than be neuteured like this, especially with Boston coming up. Players will never say it, but I think the Buffalo loss caught them looking both forward and behind.

    For the players confidence, would it not have been better to keep going, with some spillover from the Wild game, as it readies for the Bruins? Now, they head to Beantown coming off a shutout. Not a good sign.

    It’s a speculative guess at best, but given the offensive talent on the Habs, that isn’t scoring presently, the players must feel frustration when the game plan is what is was last night. The players might there’s as good a chance of beating Buffalo as there is beating Boston on Thursday. But judging from last night’s game plan, it’s as if the coach doesn’t think so.

    Some will argue, and they won’t be entirely off, that games, from a coaching standpoint, are taken one at a time. But given that a win tonight would have set up a first place battle Thursday, these games were of a piece.

    They are not, now.

    • A. Berke says:

      Excellent analysis Robert.
      I’ve said it some months ago, for some reason that I can’t fathom, JM coaches to “Not to lose” instead to “win”, especially in important games. That’s why I don’t care if we go to Conference Finals again or whatever, he will never take our team (or any other team) to the cup ever.
      No team wins the cup by not playing to win (yes they should have a good D).

      Ali B.

    • HardHabits says:

      Maybe they should just start Auld for the rest of the season. I am getting sick of this defensive shell game that dominates the Habs play with Price in nets.

  16. Timo says:

    I noticed something… David Desharnais, a little guy, bless his heart, always plays very hard, always tries, very often ends up on his rear end becuase he constantly gets knocked down by the opposition players.

    When was the last time anyone saw Cammillerri on his overpaid a$$? And why is that?

  17. Timo says:

    It is official – I hate Cammilleri more than I hate Gomez, and I do really hate Gomez. But I saw this … presumably professional hockey player deliberately giving the puck away today just to avoid any kind of physical contact. I never thought it would be possible to want another Hab off the team before Gomez, but voila, Michael Cammilleri has done it. Never saw more wasted money skate on the same line. Habs were better off when Cammilleri was injured.

    • idle says:

      Can you ever handle a loss Timo?

      • Timo says:

        Let me try.
        “Ah well, can’t win them all. The boy have tried their best but the Sabres simply wanted it more. We are hurting and have so many regulars out so it is wonder we are where we are. JM should be nominated for the coach of the year for all the great work he’s done. Gomez will be better in playoffs, he is a playoffs guys. Cammilleri is clearly playing hurt. People need to layoff this team and support them more. These guys need us fan to rally behind them.”

        Like that?

  18. NorthernHab says:

    I feel were doing just fine. You can’t win them all, in this day and age. Let’s trade the loss tonight for a win on Thursday. Go Habs Go

    • observer says:

      If Boston shows up Thursday wanting this game more than Habs , it will be a wipe out on Thursday. AND a Boston win will just about assure the Bruins with the #3 seed and they will show up. Leaving Habs with a battle to hold off Buffalo and Rangers and having to face Washington next. Last season ended on a losing streak.

  19. doogie says:

    After 25 years of marriage, I’m taking my wife to Bermuda for 5 days and totally shutting myself down from Habs hockey at the most crucial time- just prior to the Bruins game on Thursday night. Sure going to miss the boys but figure another 20 years or so might be short term sacrifice for long term gain!

    Be well folks, hang in there for me! Doogie xoxo

  20. habsfannfld says:

    Thanks Gomer. For giving me hope once again, that I may one day still crack an NHL lineup. And get paid quite a large salary at that. Your floating and avoiding all contact has inspired me to try to make a comeback. I’m 25, and out of shape, but with a few more bad decisions, and a little less body contact, I too can play like you.

  21. Fabio D says:

    People are going to come up with all kinds of excuses, but fact of the matter is, all this team needed was 2 (t-w-o) goals to win this and put the pressure on Boston for Thurs. The Bruins will come in knowing the pressure is on the Habs to keep pace with them and keep a playoff spot.

    Boone is right when he says “Those eight goals against the Wild were a week’s supply for this team.” A week of games with no goals and or wins means bye bye play-offs.

    Even the Laff play by play guys quipped about scoring 8 goals in one night on the road only to come home and lay a goose egg at a crucial point in the season. I threw an F bomb to the radio, but kind of agreed with the guy.

    Not expecting much from this team coming playoff time with all the injuries. Just hoping they play with some pride and if they lose lose with dignity.

    Get it together guys and just BRING IT to the Booins!

  22. habs001 says:

    the lack of production from gomez and camm has probably cost the habs the division…both of them should have 7-10 more goals and that would have won the division i believe

  23. rogus says:

    Has anyone heard what’s up with Cammy? Dude hasn’t been himself this year?

  24. Chuck says:

    In a twisted kind of way tonight was a success, in that it put another nail in the Leafs’ coffin.

    Oh… and the Sabres jersey design makes all of their players look like they have pit stains.

  25. observer says:

    Excuses, excuses! Habs lost last 3 to Buffalo. Habs lost last 2 to Islanders and last 2 to Edmonton. No desperation for those other 2 teams, what was the excuse? Fact is Habs should have been desperate to avoid heading to 7th or 8th and the first round elimination by Washington or Philadelphia that comes with it.

    • rocketsglare says:

      The Habs have been decimated all year with injuries and icing a
      patchwork lineup of kids and aging veterans to remarkably still be
      contending for the NE Division this late in the season is but truly
      amazing. Not excuses, but just facts.

      • Timo says:

        How does that explain the performance of the highest paid players all season? aren’t they supposed to lead by example?

        • HardHabits says:

          What do you know about setting examples.

          • Timo says:

            I know this much – if you get paid more than anybody else on the team you are supposed to lead this team in goals and assists and not in turnovers and giveaways. I don’t know much more than that.

      • observer says:

        Yes, Habs have injuries and it hurt them , tHe Pacoretti injury was the nail in the coffin. But it shows the lack of depth by poor drafting all those previous years. Only of the last couple of drafts have they got something. Subban is the best player on the team Pacoretti another excellent one. But they let the other good draft piucks they did make leave for nothing Dagostini, Obyrnee, McDonaugh to get Gomez, etc. Not enough own draft picks on this team thats why they had to overpay for free agents. BTW – Pittsburgh lost 2 better players than Habs ever had BUT still have the 3rd most points in the east. Injuries are excuses! All teams have them. Green Bay Packers had 27 players on IR.

  26. clever.alias says:

    Price gave this team a chance to win but Miller was great in front of the net. On to Boston now! Hopefully Plekanec will be healthy by then. We need him.

    • observer says:

      No goalie can win if the team scores zero goals for him. Fans here blamed Halak for losing the series to Philly when the great Leighton shutout the Habs 3 games.

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