Too early to panic?

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Of course it is.
But your Montreal Canadiens have lost six of their seven preseason games, the latest L a shutout in their own, increasingly restive barn.

The Canadiens have been outscored 28-14.

Backup goaltender Peter Budaj has not impressed.

The defence is a bit of a shambles … and Don Meehan, Andrei Markov’s agent, confirmed after the game his client will see doctors on Friday to assess the progress of his recovery from knee surgery that took place 10 months ago.

The Canadiens Top 6 looks set.

The Bottom 6 is still a scramble, with the picture clouded by injuries to Lars Eller (who will not play in the season opener), Ryan White and Travis Moen.

Scott Gomez and Erik Cole each had four SoG in the 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay.

The power play had its moments but took another 0-for … including a first-period 5-on-3 that lasted almost two minutes.

Other notes:

• Andreas Engqvist centred the fourth line, went 5-4 on faceoffs

• Meehan thought his other Russian D-man client, Alexei Yemelin, played OK. But the agent may be a tad biased. Yemelin played almost 21 minutes, paired with P.K., and had five hits to lead both teams.

• Josh Gorges survived a scary moment when his foot was pinned and Ryan Shannon fell on his surgically-repaired knee. No damage, but Gorges will continue to wear a brace.

• As Jacques Martin juggles players to find a third line that can score – a necessity in today’s NHL – David Desharnais and Andrei Kostitsyn were minus-3 and Brendan Gallagher may have punched his ticket for Vancouver … though there will be no cuts till Friday, if then.

• P.K. Subban played 23:46 and thrilled his adoring Bell Centre public again. But P.K. was minus-2 and made too many individualistic plays on the PP.

• Raphael Diaz and Chris Campoli were the only D-men who were not on for any of TB’s four goals.

• Trailing 3-0, the Canadiens had two shots on Dwayne Roloson (who turns 42 in 11 days) in the third period.

• MAB played almost 20 minutes and was plus-2. And Tom Pyatt nearly scored.

Martin said the Canadiens have “a week to go and a lot of work to do.”

Indeed.

When the coach alluded to “many aspects that need correction”, he declined to offer specifics beyond the Canadiens” “work ethic … and several other areas I’ll discuss with them.”

53 Comments

  1. Will Longlade says:

    I’ll preface my comments by saying that I only watched one preseason game and that game was tilted in Tampa’s favour as they dressed a predominantly NHL line-up. Anyway, here are my quick impressions of the game:
    1. Pleks and Cole don’t appear to have the greatest chemistry. In fact, their styles clash. They are both puck possession type of players. I don’t see this line staying intact too long.
    2. Based on Budjai’s pre-season performance, he’d be lucky to make the cut of an AHL team.
    3. DD is absolutely lost in the d-zone and playing himself off the team IMO.
    4. Gallagher and Bournival are keepers for sure, but neither are ready for NHL action.
    5. The score flattered the Habs. It could easily have been 10-0 (and would have been 5-0 with the replay in effect and 6-0 if not for a fast whistle).
    Let’s see if Saturday’s game provides a fairer yardstick of where the team is at.

  2. BONZOHABS says:

    Funny how Habs fans seem to panic so quickly. From the words of great goaltender—”just chill out, Cups aren’t won in September.” I am confident the Habs will find their stride. They’re a better group than last year on paper, and we seen flashes of what this could have been early last year when they were HOT. It was obvious that The Habs got beaten by a more prepared team with a better lineup. I’m not too worried. The Habs have the best goalie in the league, a very competitive top 9 and will have a soild D corps…if all healthy. We also have organizational depth that may payoff in the long run. So quick panicing and chill out guys. Oct. 6th —-> Stanley Cup is when it counts. Go Habs Go!

    • habstrinifan says:

      In Montreal cups arent won in September or April or May or June anymore!

      Just saying!

    • coolozza says:

      Good post Bonzohabs… just looking at past preseason standings:

      2010: Boston was 1-3-1, Toronto 5-3-1, Calgary was 7-0-0 and Edmonton was 4-2-0
      2009: Chicago 1-2-1, Toronto 6-3, Pittsburgh 1-4-1

      Guess we know why Toronto keeps falsely planning parades…

  3. DrA says:

    Panic early and often!
    Jus kidding.
    The one thing that worries me are the injuries.
    Other than that they will be slightly better than last year in the regular season.

  4. zak says:

    Is it the players or the coach.

  5. RS says:

    Last night was further proof that DD is not an NHL centre. A significant part of the Hab’s problems in their own end is due to their small and weak centres who can’t tie up guys or really compete along the boards. For better (plek) or worse (gomez) we have our top two centres. More size at centre on the 3rd and 4th lines would help. Eller will be okay on the third line, with DD shifted to wing. Engqvist is still a question mark for the fourth line.

    In the absence of White and Moen, Blunden looked like he could be a decent fourth line guy for a few games. Darche will also help.

    • Habsrule1 says:

      It’s not up to the centre to tie guys up along the boards. That’s what a big winger is for. That being said, there are different schools of thought on the subject. I have heard that Desharnais may actually make a decent winger due to his speed. you don’t have to tie players up if you can beat them to the puck 9 out of 10 times.

      Go Habs Go!!

      “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

  6. --Habs-- says:

    Was it just me or did Diaz look like he was always over committing and recovering. I guess its good that he recovers but . Yemelin looked steady. Didn’t do anything great but was solid on D. I did notice when he gets the chance his first pass is right on a stick motion or no motion. Josh and Camp looked good. Gill looked like he was ready to retire although he looked like that at the ripe age of 20 as well. PK – OK PK its you second game, step it up and look like your ready to play! He was actually one of our worse D out there last nigh “defensively”. ON the final note AK is working himself out of a job. The poor guys that have to play with him! What a lazy SOB>

  7. caladin says:

    I don’t recall JM blaming the team’s work ethic in the playoffs last year, or after game 7. Did I miss that?
    As for last night, well TB did work harder. Maybe being in the Bell Centre was enough to get their vets trying in the Pre season, idk. It does seem like a simple truth from JM though.
    It was ugly and discouraging, and preseason.

    • habstrinifan says:

      If you are alluding to my post, no he didnt. I was hinting that if JM had learnt anything from last season and from the playoffs he SHOULD have come into this season with ONE MAJOR priority.

      Solve our offensive woes!!!!

      And since he wasnt gonna get a whole new group of top six guys, it was incumbent upon him. THE COACH, to bring the solutions.

      Lack of work ethic is not the solution to this long-standing problem. It is too easy to blame the players.

      • Habsrule1 says:

        Too easy to blame the players? I think it’s much easier for fans to blame the coach. The coach can give the greatest instructions in the world but it’s up to the players to follow them.
        That being said, this was the first game with close to a full line-up. I think they should have started getting closer to the real lines a couple games ago, but we’ll all be fine with it if we win the first game of the regular season or start winning like this team should.

        Go Habs Go!!

        “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

    • Sakukoivumc11 says:

      I have no clue what they are doing with the preseason, but one thing I do know that the games in September are awarded 2 points for a win as well as the games in march !! I hope we do not miss the playoffs by 1 point because we were not prepared to start the season due to “trying” out a lot of prospects ! As far as I am concerned three games at max should be for the rookies and the rest should have been the vets or the team they are planning to go with to start teh year !! These are huge points to start the year and a good start is a must for this team !

      paolo merenda

      • Habsrule1 says:

        Actually, the games in September are not worth any points.
        I assume you meant October, and as far as I can tell, we haven’t played any games in October yet. I hope they’re ready come opening night as well and we’ll just have to wait and see.

        Go Habs Go!!

        “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

  8. habstrinifan says:

    Sign of a coach with hackeyed, easy, unsubstantial ideas to improve his team. His biggest complaint “work ethic”.

    Very very specific JM. It was missing ‘work ethic’ which saw us go up 2 game son the Bruins last year but saw us unable to add some 5 on 5 offense and eliminate them.

    The problem continues and you take the easy way out.. blame the players ‘work ethic’. Where is your ‘work ethic’ in brining to the table this season some new and imaginative answers for what were obviousoffensive needs of the team JM Did you just sign Cole and expect it to be the answer?

    Enough dumping on the players.

  9. The_Franchise31 says:

    I for one think this team can do some damage… On paper. But I just haven’t seen anything inspiring from any individuals. And I don’t like our defense, at all

  10. G-Man says:

    Name of this site should change to ChickenLittle.com
    What a bunch of whiners, and it’s over a preseason game.
    WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH! There, feel better? Sheesh!

  11. Neutral says:

    They put together a playoff team and that’s all you’re gonna get they’ll fight for the last four playoff positions all year and be gone in the 1st round. PG made the team weaker on “D” and brought in one forward don’t need to say more you’ll see for yourself.

  12. pmaraw says:

    alll the games air’d on rds, we lost. the one game that wasnt air’d, we won, wtf rds!!! w t f!

  13. SlovakHab says:

    Thanks everyone for a good laugh..
    The comments here seem to me like preseason NHL is what your lives hinge on..

    So how did the Habs did 3 years ago in the preseason? Are you still upset about those games?
    How about 2002 Detroit Red Wings. Did they win all their preseason games before going on to win the Stanley Cup? I think they must have – because September is when the true character of the team is shown..

    So Yemelin was a bum after 1 photo of him was shown.. Then was a thunderous hitter and all that this team needed after the first set of practices.. Until he played a few pre-season games. Same with Budaj – no way he is an NHL goalie because of his pre-season play!

    One poster mentioned Hamrlik as the last season’s MVP :D
    Other one thinks that one Ribeiro or Grabovski is what makes or breaks an NHL team..
    Another one is Timo – already in the mid-season form of being as useless to a conversation as my grandma was to 1985 Edmonton Oilers.

    You guys are funny – that’s why I love to come here and read your hilarious stuff every day. Keep it coming!

  14. j2w4habs25 says:

    our season is over!

    Carey Price #31

  15. Marc10 says:

    You play like you practice. I have to assume the Canadiens just haven’t put in the effort seeing as they hot owned yet again and miss solid chances. Even MaxPac looked weak out there.

    • habstrinifan says:

      Great post! This is what I have been saying all along. I see no signs of the pre-season practises being well used by the coaches with ideas for solving the teams’ offensive woes.

      • Sharks9 says:

        Probably because up until recently they’ve had so many players at every practice, it’s hard to work out plays with guys who will be sent to the AHL the next day. When the last cuts are made the practices will be better and more intense.

        25 before 14

  16. PrimeTime says:

    Funny how some like to pump up the losses to suit their own needs. Some are just less descreet than Boone.

  17. PrimeTime says:

    I saw 2 stars on the ice tonight – Stamkos and Rolonson. Our 2 stars didn’t play – Price and Markov. 1 team iced their starting line up. So TBay set a different schedule to get ready for the season…..maybe they didn’t have as many prospects to see…..maybe they haven’t injured players to fill. Who cares about the loss? You think TBay doesn’t care about the win? It means nothing! Teams are never as bad or as good as fans believe. Panic? Hell no – never!

  18. PrimeTime says:

    I realize some fans /posters enjoy trolling, antagonizing, and being just plain idiots when they are down but for you others who are so disappointed in the pre-season record do you really think this team has peaked? This is the best we’ll see this year? Have a little patience. It’s a marathon not a dash. Many highs and lows in a full season for all teams and managing them is what players call “learning to play consistent”. We’re not there yet. Maybe we won’t be. But no one on this team will quit trying. Those that do will not be part of the team. What are you? A quitter or someone with some character and understands that the we are no where near the meat of the season?

    • The Dude says:

      Ask yourself this PT…Do you see a Cup finals with this Habs team? Then ask when was the last Habs cup win?Then ask when was the last promise of a rebuild comeback for Les Glorieux? Then ask yourself does the label Troll apply to FRUSTRATED,LIFELONG HABFANS on a Habs blog site? And then ask yourself …are you the one that’s trolling? Dude not saying that you are, but you have to chillax a wee bit and give Hab fans whom are as passionate about this team as you applause for their concerns and feeling towards this once dominate ,101 year old,storied franchise…..We love them just as much as you do but want 2011-12 Cup rings on their fingers….that’s it and that’s all!

  19. habs001 says:

    with markov out we only have pk and to a limited extent campoli that have ever shown that they can produce offense at the nhl level… right now the habs offensive production from the d looks like will be mid nhl level if that…spacek offensive days are over

  20. habs001 says:

    the majority of our veteran forwards will score what they usually score in a season and our best hope is that camm and cole add more goals….with the rest of the forwards we are banking on that they score more goals than they have ever scored in the nhl and the odds are that generally maybe one from this group does that…i just dont see this hab line up scoring that much more than last year..

  21. habs001 says:

    people forget that the habs have been one of the lowest scoring teams in the nhl the last two years and have had many stretches where they had real problems scoring…i am not sure that this line up will be that much different…most of our games will still have to be won 2-1 or 3-2…..

  22. podbay says:

    I find myself in agreement with Habitant in Surrey. Too many bad mgmt decisions have left the Habs in some disarray. I hate being reminded of the terrible Ribeiro trade, but what about Grabovski? What about not resigning Dominic Moore? And the list…goes on. AK46 is playing himself off the team. He looks listless and uninspired. I am a lifer Habs fan, but my expectations for this season are low. It will be a longer than 20 year Cup drought in Montreal, my friends.

    • Habitant in Surrey says:

      …just to clarify podbay …I like Our Team and enjoy watching Them play, despite the fact I would have eaten Martin’s contract and handed the coaching reigns to Boucher at the time, if I was Mr. Molson
      …this WILL be an exciting and fun season …I feel it
      …only saying that it will be much more of an uphill slog with Martin than it would have been with Boucher
      …it’s just these face to face confrontations vs Tampa Bay that brings out My feelings on that issue, but otherwise I feel at least this season will be a fun-ride because of the character alone on Our Team

      Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
      http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

  23. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …I really like to bite My tongue in reactionary moments like this, because it is just too easy for low-blows from the back-seat …it’s PRESEASON !!! as they say …but, I just can’t help Myself feeling deeply when I look at the Tampa bench and ‘think’ What If ? …if We had had a prescient Owner and Management to bite the bullet on Jacques Martin to hire Boucher
    …We would have offence comin’ out of Our rear-ends like bullets, PLUS a wall of D
    …and We would likely be tappin’ on Our mobiles and PCs gloatin’ ’bout kickin’ Tampa’s azz 4-0, ‘stead o’ bitchin like most of Us here are, contemplatin’ Our navels
    …sorry, but THAT’s the way I have long felt …give Guy Boucher the same Player material We have today, and Guy Boucher will make sure Our Habs would not be a bubble team, but a predictable contender
    …it’s all about getting Players to play to Their strengths within a Team concept …Boucher can do this much better than Martin
    …I can talk and moan all I want, and guess it’s a waste of time …but, just got to get it off My chest once in a while

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

  24. SmartDog says:

    Ribeiro had six points TONIGHT. Any of the Habs have six points TOTAL over the pre-season? Didn’t think so.

    Can’t wait to see what Niinimaa does this year though. Another great trade.

    Habs can’t score AGAIN this year. Sigh.

    ————————————-
    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

  25. king ddd says:

    unlike most of the fellow posters,

    i can care less wahts our record in pre season is, and i dont care about the reg. season as long as we play well enough to get into the playoffs its not like soccer leagues in europe where you win the championship by finishing first i league. id rather the habs play just well enough to sneak into the playoffs have no injuries going into playoffs and once the playoffs start then you play real hockey.

    • Timo says:

      I believe that was the theme last season. Once we get into the playoffs we will play REAL hockey. Gomez will show everybody by scoring in buckets. Habs will have exact same problems this season as they had last (with or without injuries) – no traffic in front of the opposition net, too many floaters, inability to score, inability to beat tough teams like Boston and Philly, sucky D, overworked Price, idiotic coaching, incapable GM… did I miss anything?

  26. Propwash says:

    DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMEEEEDDD!!!!

  27. snowdonsteve says:

    camp and pre season is supposed to be showcases for our depth players.

    anyone else seeing a problem if the top guys get injuries?

    Go HABS Go

  28. PierreTurgeon77 says:

    If you are actually panicking before 1 regular season game has been played you need to get off the bandwagon now. It is the preseason!!! Wow, are people really that nervous? Have some faith in the team and the group that put them together. Back to back exciting season IMO and I have no reason to believe that this season will be any different. We will go into the last week of the season fighting for the 4th to 9th spot and then we start it all over again in the playoffs and hope that Price plays out of his mind.

    PT77

  29. habitantpeasoup says:

    my signature pretty much sums it up.

    SHOOT THE F’Kn PUCK!!!!

  30. Un Canadien errant says:

    Well the Canadiens lost 6-0 against the Lightning, but with a couple of assists from the referees whittled that down to 4-0. The fact that it was a pre-season game soothed the sting a little bit, and the fact that I have Steve Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier in the HIO Memorial hockey pool was another balm.

    I was ready to be patient, and I preached calm even though the Canadiens had won only one game out of six so far, since its roster was rife with AHL’ers and no-hopers. This was the first game the Canadiens would have a legitimate roster out on the ice, and my expectations were ratcheted up. To finally see the Cole-Pacioretty power tandem on their respective lines wreaking havoc and the vaunted third scoring line with an Andrei Kostitsyn eyeing a big season to reap a big contract in the summer was going to be a treat.

    This game was a mild disappointment, and there are many culprits who will participate in the Airing of Grievances. Let’s work from the net out.

    Peter Budaj didn’t look solid or confident in nets. He battled the puck, got caught by the camera looking behind him on saves, let a slapper from Mr. Lecavalier dribble through his pads into the net but was saved by the referee’s whistle. He made easy saves look difficult. This is worrisome in that a shaky goalie makes his defencemen tense, and the forwards press to score goals, instead of being loose and confident.

    This summer I supported the decision to let Alex Auld go, since I wasn’t impressed with his play last season anyway, and believed the management team was in a better position to evaluate options in goal. Much was made of the fact that Mr. Budaj had played without a dedicated goalie coach in Colorado, and that the tutelage of Canadiens goalie coach Groulx would allow him to reach his potential. It appears that he still has a lot of work to do, and some confidence to gain before Jacques Martin will be willing to rest Carey Price on a more regular basis than he did last season.

    The defence corps seemed to be a strength this summer. Notwithstanding the absence of Andrei Markov, the replacement of long-in-the-tooth veterans Roman Hamrlik, Brent Sopel and Paul Mara with Yannick Weber, Alexei Yemelin and Raphaël Diaz seemed a definite upgrade. I now have to temper my enthusiasm and accept that even though they are younger and more mobile, they may not be quite ready for NHL duty. Having said that, I think it’s a positive step for the team to play its prospects rather than veterans, even if it costs us a few wins in the regular season. Long-term, we will benefit, but I may have to accept that there will be growing pains. The signing of Chris Campoli will mitigate these somewhat.

    PK Subban is a magician, but may be putting too much responsibility on himself to do too much. Again, I see him choosing to make the difficult play rather than the simple play on a regular basis. You can surprise a forechecking forward by faking a pass or clearing attempt then rushing the puck if it’s not your go-to move. After a while, if that’s what you regularly do, opposing coaches will pick up on this, it will show up on game films, and they will tell their forwards to not bite on the first move and simply go for the body. PK needs to calm down a little bit, keep making his outlet passes and choose his spots carefully when to make his end-to-end rushes.

    In the forwards, I saw flashes from the players we need big seasons from , but it’s worrisome that they couldn’t manage a goal, even with many power-play opportunities, including a 5 on 3. They may still be discombobulated by the abating cavalcade of rookies, but Mr. Gionta, Cammalleri, Gomez, Cole and Plekanec need to bury their chances.

    Brendan Gallagher seemed to come back down to earth. He again showed flashes of brilliance, but the fact that he hasn’t yet scored in the pre-season, despite playing with frontline players, may have ended his hopes of starting the season with the grand club. I think it’s probably best for him to play first line minutes in junior with the Giants and have a chance to play on the Canadian team in the World Junior tournament this season.

    Then again, maybe playing on the same line as Mr. Kostitsyn is what sapped the strength of the Canadiens putative new Mighty Mouse. Mr. Kostitsyn was abysmal tonight, noticed only for his many faults and failings. The sequence which was highlighted on TSN, during which he carried the puck over the blue line in the Tampa zone, coasted and then feebly tried a one-handed pass through the skates of a Lighting defender, was a headscratchingly awful decision. We often talk of players with high ‘hockey IQ’ or hockey sense. We should admit to each other that Andrei has low hockey sense, kind of like Gaston Gingras and Mark Napier and Gilbert Delorme had, lots of physical tools dulled by a marshmallow mind. It doesn’t help that he often chooses the easy play, in this case the low-percentage pass, instead of the demanding play, which in this case would have been to try to sweep around the defender or to chip the puck in the corner and outskate him. I wrote after the third pre-season game against the Senators, during which Mr. Cole and Mr. Pacioretty shined, that their example might inspire him. That may still be true, since in this case Mr. Cole and Pacioretty didn’t set the world on fire, and Mr. Kostitsyn was even more sedate.

    Mike Blunden distributed some good bodychecks and was noticeable on the ice, contrary to his linemate Andreas Engqvist. Michaël Bournival hit a post on a wicked wrist shot, he’s another junior player who should find a way onto the World Junior team.

    Saturday is another opportunity for the team to jell, followed by a retreat at Blue Mountain. Thankfully, the start of the season should be relatively easy, with games against the Leafs and Jets, then at home against the Flames and Avalanche. While the first two will not be walks in the park since they will be played in arenas filled with rabid fans, these four games can serve as final tuneups before the real season starts with a game against the new-look Sabres.

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

    http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

  31. The Cat says:

    I agree preseason is nothing to worry about but I dont think the goalie of a team that turtles around the goaltender can be the MVP. I think the MVP was Hamrlik and he will be sorely missed and those boots havent been filled. Gill should have been the one to go, Subban made him look not so incompetent last year.
    Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

  32. Habsrule1 says:

    “I don’t think a gaolie of a team that turtles around the goaltender can be MVP”. What the heck does that mean?
    There is no doubt that Price was the MVP of this team. Hammer performed admisably, but take him out and take Price out. Which is a more devestating loss to the team?
    Come on….be serious.

    Go Habs Go!!

    “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock


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