Quick hits

It’s nice to have depth on D, especially with Andrei Markov gone until …

Well, who knows?

With P.K. Subban a healthy scratch for the second game in a row, the Canadiens won consecutively for the first time in two weeks.

Yannick Weber played 16:20 and was on for all of the Canadiens’ goals en route to a plus-3 – the best number on either team.

The youngster’s D partner, Alexandre Picard, wasn’t too shabby, either: 16:43 of the solid, conservative hockey at which the well-traveled Dman excels.

It’s too bad the NHL doesn’t have an award for the general manager who leads the league in successful reclamation projects, because Pierre Gauthier would be a lock.

Picard, Mathieu Darche, Jeff Halpern – all three made solid contributions to an outstanding team win against a very tough Western Conference opponent.

For the first 30 minutes of the game, it looked like San Jose would skate and hit the Canadiens right out of their own building.

The success or failure of hockey plays is usually a function of time and space. For the first period and into the second, the Sharks didn’t give the Canadiens much of either. But that changed as the game wore on.

Jacques Martin acknowledged his team’s “difficult beginning”, then pointed out San Jose had “five scoring chances in the first period and five the rest of the way.”

“We wanted to start quicker,” Martin added. “But maybe it was because it was an afternoon game and our third in 2 1/2 days.”

The Canadiens weathered the early storm because of Carey Price, First Star brilliant again, and because the Lars Eller-Darche-Benoit Pouliot line contributed shifts in which the puck was in the Sharks’ end.

The other lines struggled. Nine forwards had zero shots on goal after the first 20 minutes.

“It was a game of grinders,” Martin said. “The Eller line was good, the others had more trouble. But from the halfway point, we had more control of the puck in the offensive zone.

Tomas Plekanec’s spectacular goal – man, he’s just so good in every game – energized his teammates, as did Martin’s line-tinkering: Halpern to centre Mike Cammalleri and Travis Moen, with Scott Gomez dropping down to the fourth line, between Max Lapierre and Tom Pyatt.

An oddity: Gomez had more ToI than Plekanec, 16:24 to 15:17. 

The Canadiens top minuteman was Roman Hamrlik, who played 23:01 and blocked five shots. As was the case last season, Hamrlik has been a horse since Markov was injured. He and Jaro Spacek may not be the flashiest pairing in the league, but they get the job done, usually against the opponents’ top line.

Today that was Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau. Heatley, booed every time he touched the puck, had five SoG and the Canadiens blocked another four. Plekanec beat Thornton like a rented mule in the faceoff circle – 9-7, but 8-4 through 40 minutes – and the Sharks’ captain proved to be one of the few forwards in the league incapable of catching up to Hamrlik on a play that resulted in Cammalleri’s insurance goal.

More later.

 

53 Comments

  1. HardHabits says:

    Getting targetted by other players and getting benched by your coach are two different things. My point is Cherry is making it sound like Martin is heeding his words which couldn’t be further from the truth.

    If Cherry had come out on the air when he first mentioned PK and said what he said tonight rather than what he originally said, minus the right-wing invective, nobody would’ve disagreed. The fact is he changed his tune.

  2. VancouverHab says:

    We’ll agree to disagree. Don Cherry previously said that P.K. should change his behavior in order to stop the targetting that he was receiving. If you call that “akin to” a fatwa, well, that’s your right. For one thing “akin to” is one of those wonderful vague imprecise phrases which hide absense of argument. And for another, I disagree. Warning someone of a certain eventuality is not to be blamed for the eventuality when it happensL and the targetting had already started before Don Cherry implored P.K. to change his behavior.

    But we’ll never agree so I’ll leave my side at that….

  3. VancouverHab says:

    No, he didn’t really. He said that they have a chance of making the playoff — wcich they do. (I hope that they don’t of course.)

  4. punkster says:

    Is it wussie or wussy? I’ll need a clear call on this one.

  5. Yeats says:

    Yea, he threw a hissy fit and declined to go on HNIC. Oooooooooooo, what a man!

  6. punkster says:

    Man, dear Burkie sure hasn’t fulfilled his manifest destiny now, has he? Truculence indeed!

  7. Mike MacPhee says:

    1.14 according to the TOI report from nhl.com

  8. Yeats says:

    Clean boxers!

  9. Yeats says:

    Need some truculence!

  10. punkster says:

    Well, I wouldn’t go as far as saying “no need to get any extra help” but I would say we’re not behind the 8-ball yet. Yes, the team has depth. I believe the things to consider now are how to a) put more pucks in the net and b) ensure adequate defencemen are available for the season and beyond. We could pray for no more injuries and continued outstanding goaltending and though I’d prefer to hedge our bets with a couple of pre-deadline purchases/trades. In that regard I agree with your last statement.

  11. HardHabits says:

    I disagree. I watched Don calling out all the left-wing pinko media types tonight in HNIC.

    He completely changed his tune. Probably because of all the complaints he generated. What he said at first was akin to an Imam issuing a fatwa.

    Now he is saying that it is all about not hot-dogging it and playing on the same page as the rest of the team.

    Two very different things.

  12. DearyLeary says:

    My guess was 1:20-1:30 at the time.  He was sucking dirty pond water, that’s for sure.

  13. HardHabits says:

    Cost less is not the issue. Better. Moore is a journeyman at best. Metro is in Europe.

    Gomez better step it up. Centres in China getting assists!

  14. HOGGIE says:

    coach’s closet lots of mindless rambling once again big suprise , did he really just say the laffs have a chance at the cup lol wow SENILE

  15. HardHabits says:

    I like where the Habs are in terms of what to do later in the season. I think they can consider bringing up MaxPac late in the season and if he plays well keep him for the playoffs. Maybe there’s no need to get any extra help. Nice depth on the team. Nevertheless the Habs are positioned to negotiate with a strong hand if they do go out and decide to add a player or two.

  16. Yeats says:

    They didn’t ditch them. They just replaced them with guys that cost less. With the pig of Gomez’s contract, they have to watch their pennies.

  17. Yeats says:

    This is a very easy team to like. The way they have performed in the wake of Markov’s injury and the interchangable-parts on D have been very impressive. And, you just can’t say enough about Price. He’s back to being the guy we saw in the ‘dogs Calder Cup run and the World Juniors. Just stay healthy. Where we end up in the standings doesn’t mean jack. We just need to get to the show with all our troops.

     

  18. Mike Boone says:

    He’s doing the same with Benny. My man from McGill is a coach on the ice.

  19. VancouverHab says:

    OK — now is the time that this has to be said. (Deep breath.)

    When Don Cherry stated that he quote loved unquote P.K. Subban’s cockiness but disliked his benavior that went beyond that to disprespect…well, H-I/O commentors (& pro writers) attacked Don in unison like delegates at a North Korean Communist Party conference. (You can watch yourselves doing it online, here.)

    Well, we now have reports that P.K.’s teammates and coaches have precisely the same opinion as Don Cherry gave. P.K. is a healthy scratch for more than just his play in the last loss.

    He will be a great Hab for many years to come, but he will first mature: like, to quote a certain HNIC coach, was done to and by Sidney Crosby.

  20. punkster says:

    A rack of water bottles? A pile of towels? I dunno?

  21. Samovich says:

    How about Brad Richards to Montreal? what should the Habs give up?

  22. punkster says:

    Hey there B. How’s it hangin?  Caught part of the second and all the third. I continue to like this team, as in T-E-A-M. Very few “i”s in this year’s version and it appears that JM is doing his best to keep it that way. Smart hockey all around.

  23. idle says:

    Apparently you can have too many of them since they ditched Metro and Moore

  24. RGM says:

    Puck never comes close to crossing the goal line and Toronto idiots are booing the refs for making the right call.

    Go Habs Go!

  25. ZepFan2 says:

    Exactly what I was thinking.

    Get out of my head!!

    ;)

    ————————————————————————

    “Young people have seen that a team can play electrifying, fascinating hockey while still behaving like gentlemen.”

    ~Serge Savard~

  26. Yeats says:

    Yep, he and Halpern are smart, hard-working hockey players. You can never have too many of them.

  27. habs-hampton says:

    It wasn’t me that talked to Carey, but whoever did, THANK YOU!!!

  28. Shiloh says:

    Saying that Halak wasn’t great last year is a bit like arguing that water isn’t wet.

  29. habs-hampton says:

    Did you see Darche talking to Eller on the bench, and Eller is listening to every word! Darche is the kind of guy every team needs.

  30. DrA says:

    For the first time, even including last year, JM has got a great goalie.  Can this take him to the promised land? Heaven knows he’s earned it.  All because of a message from. Mr. Burns to Carey at the start of the year.

  31. habs-hampton says:

    I would love to how long Thortons shift was on Cammy’s goal. Late (real late) into his shift he dumped the puck in and then chased it instead of changing. He then turned it over and had no chance of catching anyone (even Hal Gill!!) when Hammer took off.

    That was the game right there. Looks good on Thorton with a selfish play.

  32. HardHabits says:

    About Gomez playing with Pyatt and Lapierre JM had this to say:

    “There wasn’t a whole lot going on with our other three lines, so I sent Gomez in there with Pyatt and Lapierre and I think it created some energy,” Martin said, refusing to call the move a demotion. “I wanted to try and change the momentum of the game.”

    What a class act JM is. And Gomez, ever the consumate team player took it all in stride.

    I love this new team that’s been (being) assembled. It’s been far too long since it felt so good to be a Habs fan.

  33. HardHabits says:

    My hope tonight is that the Leafs beat Boston. Why you ask?

    So that we put some distance between us and them for 1st in the NE division. So that TO takes another step in not handing over another lottery draft pick to Boston. So TSN and CBC can go on and on about the Leafs for the next few days and silently forget about the Habs, all the while with the Habs just keeping on winning.

  34. smiler2729 says:

    It’s time to start realizing this is a team, a collective team, not a bunch of individuals. A solid TEAM.

    So there’s no use bitchin’ about players unless they step out of line, it doesn’t who does what, as long as the team wins…

    Oh yeah and that Price guy’s freakin’ AWESOME.

  35. HardHabits says:

    Thank-you. Of course, I agree.

  36. habs-hampton says:

    I agree and have been saying it all season. It doesn’t matter if Gomez is making millions and millions. We got 23 guys making $58 million and I love ‘em all! It’s called a TEAM!!

  37. habs001 says:

    12 games left in december …9 on the road….i would take 15-16 points …

  38. Propwash says:

    Could this be the start of a defence controversey, seeing that the goalie controversey is over with and done?

     

    Goalies in Montreal have two roles, netminder and scapegoat. 

  39. rwparent says:

    or a center controversy because Eller is outplaying people ahead of him?

  40. rocketsglare says:

    Have to love the play of Darche, Eller, and Pouliot who took it to the Sharks all game long and how about the

    D of Hamrlik and Weber. Great individual goal by Plekanec and a heads up goal on the part of Cammalleri to

    seal the deal. What can you say about Price? He’s making the saves and what saves, especially the 2 he made

    against Marleau and Heatley were sheer larceny. Just a solid team win against a very good Sharks team.

    Now, I can relax and enjoy watching the Bruins and Sens lose tonight.

     

    Go Habs Go!

  41. andrewberkshire says:

    Eller is going to be an excellent player in this league.

  42. rwparent says:

    you beat me to it -  Eller looks good

  43. rwparent says:

    Eller is going to be a force. The kid plays for keeps – every shift.

    There is nothing like leading by example and all he does is work, work, work. Love it.

    People should start to understand that he is a real contributor to the success even without the points production…

  44. Danno says:

    This is a turning point game. Battled to regain the lead after SJ tied it 1-1. Then kept the pressure on until the end to take it 3-1 with Price being spectacular and almost scoring on the EN. Very satisfying. And yes, Eller is the real deal. He’s already good and can only get better.

     

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

  45. HardHabits says:

    Meanwhile St. Louis is out of a playoff spot and Halak is appearing to be all too human and not in the top 10 in any significant category, whereas Price is playing like a Vezina candidate.

  46. likehoy says:

    was gomez demoted to the 4th line or was pyatt/lapierre promoted to the 2nd line?!

    I’ve never seen cammalleri work so hard in his life until he saw a chance to score on an empty net.

    - Gomez is holding down the suck button

  47. rocketsglare says:

    The way Weber has been playing and contributing to the team’s success, I hope he remains with the club.

    Go Habs Go!

  48. andrewberkshire says:

    He makes me think, Plekanec, but younger, bigger and stronger.

  49. Ayan_SB says:

    You’re thinking of Mikko Koivu.

  50. MikeL says:

    Mikko is a great comparison.

  51. andrewberkshire says:

    Very true, but I think Plekanec is a better player than Mikko.

  52. kempie says:

    Wrong. He IS a Vezina candidate. No doubt. Now if Thomas would just knock off his crap, Price would be a lock.


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