Quick hits

One team is a serious Stanley Cup aspirant.

The other is going down to the wire to make the playoffs.

You know which is which … and in your heart of hockey hearts, you probably knew it before they dropped the puck in Philadelphia.

Contenders 5 Pretenders 2.

We can talk about special teams.

The Canadiens, who’ve had one of the NHL’s better power plays lately, went 0-for-7 and had three, maybe four shots on Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Flyers scored twice during the 5-on-3 that changed the game and added another against a penalty-kill unit that’s supposed to be one of the league’s best. 

But let’s try to be serious.

Your Montreal Canadiens didn’t lose because of special teams.

Philadelphia is better. End of F. story.

The Flyers have proved it in the playoffs, and it’s carried over into this regular season: three wins in four games, the last two five-goal explosions.

In analyzing the Canadiens’ fatal parade to the penalty box, Michel Bergeron said he didn’t want to hear about indiscipline.

“It’s laziness,” he told the Antichambre audience, pointing to holding, slashing, interference – calls that are made when you’re chasing the play.

And, of course, the obligatory bench minor for Too Many Men. The Canadiens’ NINTH of the season.

For the first 10 minutes, it was a hockey game. Jacques Martin was rolling his four lines, play was up and down the ice with neither team dominating.

But the late 5-on-3 changed everything.

Andrei Kostitsyn was off for slashing, and the Canadiens killed the first minute of his penalty.

But that was with P.K. Subban and Hal Gill on D. For some reason – possibly James Wisniewski’s numerous jittery turnovers during his early shifts, Jaro Spacek and Yannick Weber found themselves on the PK.

Spatcho was called for holding. P.K. was called 20 seconds later.

And that was the ballgame.

The Flyers didn’t need their numerous PPs to demonstrate dominance. There was a 5-on-5 sequence in the second period when Philadelphia held the puck in the Canadiens end for 1 minute, 34 seconds.

And we’re not talking cycling or grinding. For that entire time, the Canadiens didn’t touch the puck.

It was a hockey clinic … with the Canadiens as the slow kids, sitting in the back of the classroom.

There was more to come. In the third period, the Canadiens went nine minutes without a shot on goal.

The Antichambre guys were all over Scott Gomez, who was responsible for the Too Many Men call. They thought he should have been benched.

But you can’t pin the loss on one player.

The list of underachievers includes Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta, Kostistyn, all the Dmen with the possible exception of P.K.

Players who showed up to play competitive hockey in one of the league’s toughest buildings?

Mathieu Darche, who managed to finish a 5-2 loss at plus-2; Lars Eller and David Desharnais, neither of whom was intimidated by the Flyers. Max Pacioretty, who continues to play physical hockey with sore ribs.

Also Carey Price, who was under constant pressure and had little chance on the four shots that beat him. I agree with my man Stubbs, who Tweted the wish that Price had the All-Star break off to recharge his batteries.

The Canadiens have 32 games left.

The Dash for Cash gets serious after the All-Star Game.

And unlike Philadelphia, the Canadiens are going to need great goaltending.

More manana.

•  •  •

Curious stat:

The Flyers blocked 31 shots, the Canadiens eight.

47 Comments

  1. bigdave says:

    or possibly mid-terms?

     

     

    “The Allo Police Media – a collection of bitter ex-coaches, players and wannabees whose collective lack of success accounts for their present positions in Sports’ equivalent of a Jerry Springer Show”

  2. andrewberkshire says:

    The melodrama over one game on here is so ridiculous it reminds me why I’ve been ignoring this site for the better part of the last two months.

  3. patience is a virtue says:

    I was playing pond hockey and only caught the last 30mins.  It was frustrating not to score on that string of third period PPs (which serves to balance all the ref-bias-moaning, at least for last night, doesn’t it?).  On the whole, PP+ES, Montreal outplayed Philly during the third, as should be expected when a team is trying to come back.  They got one, but couldn’t convert the follow up.  Philly scores on an open net.  Remember – that was a 4-2 game.

    I tend to agree with Berkshire.  I’m not sure where the impression came from that the Flyers were so vastly superior last night (the last 30mins, nor the shot totals certainly didn’t reveal it).  It’s easy to be far superior playing 5-3.  That, and a couple of saves by Bobrovsky’s post, seemed to be the difference-makers in a competative game. 

    Yet, I expect fire and brimstone round here today.  Most disappointing is that Boone is leading the negativity with his tact and tone.  It’s not just perrenial whine-boxes like Man Apart.  I like reading those who take a dimmer view on the team, when they provide evidence for their opinions.  But I don’t like the atmosphere created by Boone preaching Habs mediocrity every chance he gets. 

    Our team has done well since coming out of their terrible slump, despite injuries.  They played the top team in the division (the NHL?) and played them hard.  Sure Philly is tougher, deeper, less-injured, on-a-hot-streak, etc. But last time I checked we are 4 points out of 5th and 2 points out of 3rd.  Not back off the bubble yet, but respectably making our way since the slump ended.

    Take advantage of the break and come back hard boys!  A good balance of tougher and weaker oponents coming in Feb.

     

     

     

     

     

  4. ManApart says:

    Hey folks, you just saw the real Montreal Canadiens tonight, against a real deal team. same as the old Montreal Canadiens I’m Afraid. The thing that confuses me the most is how you fools who are complaining didn’t see this 6 months or 12 or whatever ago. Team is ok, but nothing special. I’ve been saying it for almost 2 years now.

    Love DD, Darche, Max Pac and Subban. The younger guys are not bad. It’s the older, overpaid weight that dumb-dumb Gainey brought in that hurts the team.

  5. MathMan says:

    Meh. I still think Lucic is overrated.

    Gionta is the team’s most consistent net-crasher. He practically lives sitting on the goalie.

    Montreal is a pretty strong puck possession team. I think we’ve been force-fed the “need more grit/toughness” notion that we’ve completely lost sight of what the team right now actually is, and what it really needs.

  6. Duracell3 says:

    Toughest guy on the team is probably who, Ryan White maybe? Of regulars, Gill, Moen, maybe even PK? All I know is, we can’t beat the flyers, and they seemingly scare our players s—less.

  7. Black Snake Moen says:

    thanks, I’m just tired of hearing the old addage that we’re a team built on speed and puck movement alone and there’s no room for some real tough guys on this team.

    Chris Nilan, undoubtedly our best enforcer of all time, said this about the Hartnell hit:

    RT from @All_Habs:

    “That’s the time you crack someone in the jaw and make a little noise”

    and at this point, I agree with the guy…I’m so sick of seeing things like Pouliot falling to the ground and turtling because he knows Pronger is coming after him for making a CLEAN hit.  And Carcillo face-washing Gionta? 

    wheres their balls?

  8. Lafrich says:

    Doom Gloom Doom Gloom. Gauthier’s a genius, Gauthier’s an idiot, Martin’s a genius, Martin’s an idiot, Gomez is awful, Gomez is…ummm…errr… In any case, RELAX! It was just one game.

  9. ron181 says:

    Black snake moen,you are absolutely right. An excellent posting and it’s the naked truth. When are Gauthier and Martin realizing that this is not a swiss league. If the habs make the playoffs they will probably face this team again and they’ll be crushed in 4. They should have at least one enforcer like a Parros just to let the Flyers thugs know that they can’t bully DD , Gionta and PK. By not having one , the smurfs have to stand up for themselves and are running the risk of serious injury like Kulemin  last night.

  10. G-Man says:

    Bounces- like the shot in the 1st between Babofski’s legs that clanged off the post- ditto in the 3rd- made this a 3 goal difference. All the talk was about how much better the Flyers are compared to the Habs- so much depth and so much sandpaper, but all I saw was indiscipline by the Habs causing SH goals against.

    Gomez, with his SELFISH crosscheck early in the game, started the parade to the penalty box. WTF is up with him lately? Pleks chose an inopportune game to be…well…. ordinary.

    With each passing game, Desharnais is looking more and more like a keeper. He is smart with and w/o the puck and makes plays. When Cammi returns, look for Desharnais, Pouliot and Kostitsyn to dominate when they are on against other teams’ lesser lights. That will be a huge plus down the stretch.

    Price has been good to great this season, but I have noticed a trend. His lateral movement from his right post to his left is nowhere near as good as his left to right movement from the left post. Many goals lately have been the completion of a pass from his right side to his left. I know the D has to block those passes, but I”m just saying it’s been noted by other teams.

  11. Duracell3 says:

    I’m not talking about fighters. I’m talking about players tough enough to go into the corners, and win. Who don’t get pushed off the puck every time they touch it. The only 2 who were healthy and playing well tonight to me were DD and Eller, and they well exemplify those problems. They win because they can crash the net AND score goals off nice plays. They win because we have to take shots from the tops of the circles or face having a DD, a Cammy, or a Gio try to cycle against Pronger or Coburn. Instead of overpaying for a Gomez, let’s overpay for a Luicic a little.

  12. MathMan says:

    The Flyers are a team built around speed, skill, and small forwards. Kind of like the Habs, only better.

    Yeah, they have dirty snots, Pronger is a jerk, and Richards is a despicable headhunter, but enforcers have zero impact on that (enforcers are, actually, a net negative). But the idea that they win by being the Broad Street Bullies is largely PR and inertia from their old reputation.

    The Habs have trouble beating the Flyers because the Flyers are a very skilled and very deep team. Philly’s a good hockey team, plain and simple. Toughness is a red herring.

  13. Timo says:

    … and the love with Gomez goes on no matter what. Incredible.

  14. Timo says:

    Where is fun in that? Nah, for the money he’s making he will be called out ALL THE TIME just because… unless of course he starts scoring in proportion to the amount of money he collects.

  15. VancouverHab says:

    Wrongo Timo: after the first period Gomez was brutal and probably lazy. Martin called him out and correctly so. Not good enough for the money he’s making. He’s got to stop that and now.

    OK? But how about we knock Gomez when and only when he, you know, iactually has a crap game….not all the time just because?

  16. Robert L says:

    Um, that’s not the REAL Chris Nilan…and I’d to have seen him throw knuckles at John Ferguson!

  17. Displaced says:

    We’ve been .500 (10-10-3) since December 4.  That means, it’s a good time to play “glass half full/glass half empty”, the game show that dares to ask, how good are we really?  The winner gets a Stanley Cup champion the loser, gets a pink slip and some nasty parting shots.

     

    Half Full: Considering that .500 stretch includes the brutal December road losing streak and bad run of injuries to key players, that’s not bad.  If we play .500 the rest of the way, we end the year 41-32-9, good for 91 points.  That’s 3 points better than last year and likely in the playoffs and would have been good for 6th last season.  A resurgent PP, improved production from Gomez, PK and additions like Patches, DD, Wiz we should play better than .500 in the second half.

     

    Half Empty: This team was built on veteran free agents.  That usually means a short window of opportunity.  And, this may not be our year.  Yep, injuries suck.  But they happen.  If this wasn’t our year are we really going to be better next year?  Gionta, Cammi and Gomez aren’t going to score more as they get older.  Patches, Subban, and Eller aren’t ready to lead us. Plecs, AK and Price have shown their full potential. We are a 90-ish point team for the third straight year that can’t seem to overcome inert mediocrity. 

     

    After a short break for our corporate sponsors we like to call the All Star Weekend, we will return for the lightning round.

    Who’s leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  18. Black Snake Moen says:

    I was simply stating the source..Re-tweeted from an official Habs blog…Chris Nilan did say that, in fact

  19. OneTimer says:

    Hey dude, where ya been? Your last post before this one was like 10 days ago. All it takes for you to come back is one loss, huh.

  20. pedro says:

    Gomez is not a team player.I did not like him when he played against the habs and now he is a liability ,no team in their right mind would take over his contract,any ideas on how to unload this selfish ,under acheiving freeloader?

  21. bandaide says:

    Well we had 7 PP and did squat Wiz took  a wiz they didnt want to try to penetrate the zone cept for a few too many times by too few bodies. No wonder we lost but season keeps goin as will the Habs :)

  22. MathMan says:

    Special teams are like that. Sometimes you go 3-for-3 and sometimes you turn up blanks in 10. Ditto the PK. They’re heavily percentages-based. And this game was very much about special teams.

    I’m not gonna talk about the reffing. The problems with it have become obvious at this point and it’s clear it’s not a problem that can be fixed by whining.

  23. OneTimer says:

    There’s 29 others to choose from, Timo. Toronto’s got all that “truckerlence” everyone talks about, maybe you should go root for them?

  24. habs001 says:

    i hope you are correct because if we just maintain our points pace on the road for the rest of the season we will not be able to win our division..

  25. MathMan says:

    Don’t read too much into the road record. The team went on a stunning run of bad luck during the month of December, and most of those games happened to be on the road.

    And yes, that slump was mostly bad luck (couldn’t buy a goal), some of it was Price having a rough stretch, but ultimately, the Habs played pretty solidly in December (believe it or not), outchanced and outplayed most of the teams they faced, and deserved a much better record than what they ended up with… and since most of those games were on the road, it follows that the Habs have been a much better road team than the record suggests, for much of the same reasons.

    The point is, the Habs have been a strong puck possession team on the road as well as at home. Over time, that’s what makes a good team good.

  26. habs001 says:

    our road record is not that of a good team…

  27. MathMan says:

     

    “The other is going down to the wire to make the playoffs.”

    Can we please ditch the “Habs are life and death to make the playoffs” fable already? The Habs are headed for an 98-point season even counting this loss, and the team has played significantly better than that for most of the year. They’ve re-created a large gap between themselves and the 9th place, barring a collapse from which no team is immune but which remains unlikely, the Habs should make the playoffs pretty comfortably, around the 5th or 6th spot. 3rd place remains a possibility — I still think Montreal is, ultimately, a better team than Boston, but making up any kind of deficit at this point will be hard.

    Or are we so freaking used to bad Habs team that we are compelled to overreact to one bad games and constantly sell the team short?

    Is Philly better than Montreal? Probably. Is tonight a fair reflection of the distance between the two teams? Not an F. chance.

    “The Flyers blocked 31 shots, the Canadiens eight.”

    Blocking lots of shots is a serious red flag. This tells me the possession game was nowhere near as dire as Mr. Boone makes it sound — and the Habs leading shot attempts 84-54 paints an interesting picture with regards to puck possession. They were +19 at even-strength, too, intimating that yeah, the game pretty much was about special teams. Though when a team falls behind by a lot, such a favorable differential in puck possession is to be expected. Still, it puts paid to the notion that Philly grossly dominated possession throughout the game. I’m really curious to see Olivier’s scoring chances numbers actually. I suspect they will paint a different picture than our observations that are ultimately informed by the final score.

    But then again, I shouldn’t act as if I’m not used to gross overreaction to a bad loss. ;)

    Still: the Habs are a good team. Good teams do occasionally lose by two-goals-and-an-empty-netter. It’s time to deal with that, and it seems something Habs fans and media seem singularly unable or unwilling to admit, or cope with. 




     

     

  28. Timo says:

    Pansy-ass is one of the better description of this team. 

  29. billylove says:

    Agree with much of your venting, my wife thinks the Habs are going to drive me mad. Must disagree with Spatch’s call not being justified. He had his arms wrapped around whoever it was. What pisses me off is why he’s grabbing along the backboards almost asking for a call when we were already shorthanded. It was just a stupid defensive play at absolutely the wrong time.

  30. Black Snake Moen says:

    ok, lets get something clear here;  regadless of who outplayed who, and who is the better team, etc. etc., cause we all know the Flyers have it together

    the reffing against the Habs this year has been atrocious….and I thought last year was bad.  Anyone who wants to contest this, I’m sorry but you’re either afraid of “making excuses” for your team, or you’re over intellectualizing things…theres no conspiracy theory here…just terrible reffing in favor of big american market teams, bottom line, and I really don’t care what any NHL elite wanna-be analysts would have to say about that.  That mega 5 on 3 late in the first essentially won them the game, and although they severly outplayed us, there is NO WAY anyone can sit here and say that sequence didn’t absolutely change the game.  Those were CHEAP calls on AK, and on Spatch…cheap with a capital CH…figures i guess…PK’s penalty, yes, but i mean, there are so many instances in the game where guys get tangled up in the corner like Spatch and Richards did, uncalled…of course, they make up calls come scattered througout the game, but it’s just frustrating. 

    Will our GM or coach ever say something?  We are by far the most penalized team in the league, and by far the weakest, and most pansy-ass…It just doesnt add up…call me stupid, call me a homer who doesnt know the game bla bla bla, but at a certain point you have to wonder… I guess implementing those fines really do work.

    Theres too much apathy on this team, from head office down…tonight really disgusted me…I’ve been pleased with the season thus far, taking into account the injuries, price’s play, etc., but this one was just demoralizing…its ‘OK’ to get out played by the best team in the league I guess.   But theyre laughing at us right now.  The Flyers need one of the Best Buy buttons in the dressing room “That was Easy….”….it’s a laugher to play against us.

    What disgusts me the most is that we see plays like that scum Carcillo facewashing our captain, and Hartnell running 5 foot nothing DD, and the most pushback we have out of that is 20-year old Max-Pac trying to come to the rescue.  I thought forsure White would have dropped them tonight, I really wanted to see him challenge Carcillo.  I love how White plays, but a guy wanting to make an impression really lost it on me, atleast tonight.  A road game against the best team in the league, and maybe our most-hated current mini-rival, and we see absolutely no grit, no sand-paper, no standing up for teammates, no scraps, and yet somehow we are penalized to kingdom come.  Theres hundreds of guys out there that would have come into this game, dying to make an impression, dying to take someone on.  Take it from a Bears fan, we can never find a QB.  Its starting to seem like the Habs will never find that toughness.  We live in the NE division, we see teams like Boston, Phili, Toronto all year long, we need more toughness through the lineup than this. 

    Moen’s been a disapointment.  He was clearly brought here to be an enforcer who could play.  Did anyone watch this guy in Anaheim? The Moen from those days would have dropped them with Hartnell first period, gauranteed.  Granted thats 3 years ago, but Moens contributions elsewhere (PK, 10 mins a game?) aren’t helping that much either.  Im not asking for a team full of fighters here, Im just trying to level with the fact that our skill guys looked scared tonight.  SCARED.  Because they know full well theres really no one thats gonna have their back.   And whatever way you slice it, thats still an issue.  I’m not even one of those guys that is against the “smurfs”, but I mean we need some muscle in the bottom 6! C’mon people, this is NHL…I thought Moen would be our Chris Neil…a 3rd liner who could play, but would still, at the drop of a hat, fight anyone who pushes his team around.  And as a skill guy, you need that.  Our biggest center on the team is Jeff Halpern…I guess thats ok, but for the love of Pete, please can this team have some bodies who will stand up for that CH on the jersey.  This game isn’t the end of the world either, but I mean…we meet these guys in the playoffs again, and it’ll be our asses handed to us for the 3rd time in 4 years.

    sincerley, a frustrated Habs fan

  31. Timo says:

    GM can do no wrong, can he?

  32. Timo says:

    MAB is the most logical match against any team’s biggest and the baddest. MAB is THAT awesome!

  33. Mark C says:

    JM had Chara, Neil, Hnidy on those early 2000 teams, he also had Andre Roy for a few years. A few other plays like Phillips and York were tough players. As SF09 points out Ottawa’s goalies stunk and the Leafs had Belfour and CoJo those years.

  34. Da Hema says:

    The Canadiens’ commitment to Europeanised hockey far predates Martin’s appointment as coach. So you are wrong to identify Martin as the source of this organisational commitment. You are right, though, about how the Leafs were consistently able to send Ottawa golfing come playoff time. Ottawa had a very balanced and sizable team, but wilted against opponents who were prepared to walk on coals to win.

  35. SeriousFan09 says:

    Martin’s teams never got anywhere in the playoffs because his GM gave him Patrick Lalime as his goaltender.

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  36. TripleX says:

    Has JM ever had a tough team?  I don’t mean a goon squad, but a team with a few gritty in your face players.

    I remember how the Leafs would kill Ottawa in the playoffs every year even though Ottawa was far superior.  The Leafs beat them with tough mean hockey.

    JM seems to have an aversion to tough hockey and tough players.  I happen to think even in today’s NHL you need that component to be successful in the playoffs.

  37. deputydog says:

    Hard to call him a sieve. His save percentage is exactly the same as Price and and his GAA is 2.42 vs. Carey’s 2.36. He does have better Dmen in front of him however.

  38. keepthefaith says:

    What do people really expect from this team? Do people really expect us to blow out the Flyers? One team is healthy and one team is missing three very important players. Until the extended 5-3 it was a game. Its obvious they are a better team right now. They are bigger and stronger and no matter how hard DD tries , he’s losing 95 percent of the puck battles he is in against the Flyers. Even with our three key guys back the Flyers are a better team. Still a beatable team because their goalie is a sieve. Habs are missing size and some heart. Like a  big tough heart, not just a little heart that tries really hard.

  39. Thenumber11 says:

    So much. 

    Sadly used to not having Markov a lot. Cammi? He’s been invisible for so much of this season. Love to have both back right now, but holy hell do I miss Gorges. 

    Just such a reassuring presence on the back end. Friggin blows not having him out there. 

  40. usversusthem says:

    I miss Gorges, and Markov, and Cammalleri. 

  41. JVSmith says:

    I miss Gorges.

  42. kempie says:

    In the playoffs last year which Dman was the most logical to match up against a big and physical Flyers team?

    According to JM it was MAB.

  43. TripleX says:

    In the playoffs last year which Dman was the most logical to match up against a big and physical Flyers team?  O’Byrne and he was effectively benched for the series.

    In tonight’s game which forward best matched up against a big and physical Flyers team?  Ryan White and he played FIVE MINUTES.

    JM’s biggest failing is the proper utilization of his bench.  He consistenly has the wrong players in the wrong places.

    Not saying it would have made much of a difference as the Flyers are just better.  But a coach can at least give his team the best chance of being competitive.

  44. Mark C says:

    Montreal trailed by 2 or more goals for 40 plus minutes tonight, why is it logical to give one of the least likely players to score or create offensive more ice time? White got 5 of his 9 shifts in the 1st, he was benched so that the scoring lines could play more.  

  45. Propwash says:

    The 1st period did the Habs in. Gotta stop the meathead penalties

     

    Goalies in Montreal have two roles, netminder and scapegoat. 

  46. Cool Ice Price says:

    What is left to say.

     

     

    Habs Passion unites us all


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