About last night …

This comes under the heading Tell Us Something We Don’t Know:

Your Montreal Canadiens will go as far this season – and for seasons to come – as Carey Price takes them.

Fresh off winning the Molson Cup for February – for a month during which he had a losing record – Price was the difference again last night.

Playing behind a patchwork defence and an offence that doesn’t offend anyone, The Franchise made 40 saves.

Price has played more than any goaltender in the NHL. He’s made more saves than anyone except Cam Ward.

Here’s the factor that doesn’t show up in NHL statistics: Carey Price has to be great every night, or the Canadiens don’t win.

It’s that simple.

Twenty-two teams have scored more goals than the Canadiens this season. After 64 games, the Canadiens have scored three more than they’ve allowed.

This team does not blow anyone out. Carey Price has made 54 starts under intense pressure. One mistake by the goaltender puts his team behind the eight-ball.

Maybe the Canadiens’ brain trust planned it this way.

The team got lucky in the 2005 draft lottery. Picking fifth, the Canadiens selected Price … while Pierre McGuire had a cow on TSN about what an error it was.

(Not the first time – and certainly not the last – my friend Pierre has questioned CH management decisions.)

The Canadiens had never drafted a goaltender that high. The team that selected Carey Price already had a 28-year-old goaltender, three years off a Hart/Vezina Trophy season.

But José Theodore had issues. And that didn’t sit well with an ultra-conservative hockey organization.

Price was the goaltender of the future … and, in short order, the present.

I think the team, building around its prized asset, decided to become New Jersey North.

After the Centennial Season debacle, Bob Gainey blew up his team. Two of his newcomers had won Stanley Cups with the Devils.

The Canadiens hired the only Jacques available, and Martin introduced his renowned/villified/unexciting defensive system.

OK, I don’t want to get overly Grassy Knoll here. The Canadiens did not totally emulate Lou Lamoriello’s team.

After Mike Komisarek tanked, the team didn’t have a Scott Stevens-in-the-making.

And Andrei Markov, the Canadiens’ Scott Niedermayer, became injury prone.

But Carey Price has become the closest thing to Martin Brodeur we’ve seen in a long time. And the Canadiens style of play is predicated on minimizing shots against him (it didn’t work last night) and ensuring they’re low-percentage shots.

It’s not an easy system to play. The forwards have to come back deep to help, and that costs them energy at the other end of the ice, where they like to play.

The defencemen have to be smart and good with the puck. As you marvel at how much P.K. Subban has progressed this season, think how great that D would be with Markov and Josh Gorges.

Instead, Price is playing behind one of the oldest, slowest Ds in the league. And still the team manages to win.

On the farewell Andie Bennett edition of his show yesterday, Mitch Melnick was working a familiar theme: the Canadiens’ lack of size.

We saw it again last night. Evander Kane was a wild bull in the Canadiens’ end. Cliff Thorburn wreaked havoc as well.

After a quiet Trade Deadline Day, Pierre Gauthier talked about the identity of his hockey team, which can be summarized as the three S’s: Speed, Skill and the System.

Plus a great goaltender.

Will it produce another Miracle Spring?

To be honest, I’m not optimistic. 

But Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller aren’t midgets, and they were excellent in Atlanta.

With Price, Subban and David Desharnais, they form a core of young talent that offers optimism as we look to the future of this maddening team.

On to the Sunshine State.

•  •  •

From HabsFanInVictoria:

You vultures only have one word in your vocabulary: Gomez.  Is that all any of you have to say these days?  He’s not having a good season, fair enough.  He’s not earning his pay, fair enough.  But he’s here, and he’s not going anywhere so you can focus on something else and enjoy a win for once.  Are you not sick and tired of the same old broken record BS about #11?  Get real and start realizing that perhaps Gomez is just the latest scapegoat.  When you really put it into perspective… 

Gomez did not:

Trigger the current economic crisis

Trade Leclair

Drop an “F” Bomb at the Oscars

Catch that ball at the Cubs game

Shoot Mr. Burns

Leave threatening messages on your answering machine

Expose his nipple at the Super Bowl

Trap the Chilean miners

Steal your lunch money

Kill Bambi’s mother

Honestly, the guy is playing hockey and trying to do his job.  He’s not getting the desired results according to the standards of many, but that happens in pro sports.  Get over his contract, it’s not changing.  He’s not going to pay back when he’s not producing the numbers you expect.  Forget the stats, they don’t always tell the whole story.  If he’s frustrating you THAT much then you should find something better to do with your time.

By the way, he had 14 points in 19 games in the playoffs last year and was considered one of our stronger players.  Remember, that run we made to the Conference Finals?  He was an important part of that and proved how much he cares, regardless of what the ‘so called’ experts think.



  1. bobinsask says:

    Weren’t Phil Myre, Michel Plasse and Ray Martyniuk drafted as high as Price

  2. solomio says:

    Apparently that question was rhetorical

  3. Chris says:

    From the 2010 Forbes evaluations:

    Ottawa was projected to have lost $3.8 M, largely on the back of falling attendance and poor local television deals.  That would mark the second time in the past two seasons that the Senators were expected to have lost money after 3 profitable seasons.  (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/31/hockey-valuations-10_Ottawa-Senators_318444.html)

    Calgary made $4.6 M, but has lost money in 2 of the last 4 seasons.  That despite the Flames’ revenues being boosted by the team’s ownership of the Saddledome and therefore being able to bring in extra revenue in that regard.   (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/31/hockey-valuations-10_Calgary-Flames_311479.html)

    Edmonton has been profitable for the past few years, but their revenue stream (~$85 M) has them right in the zone where teams often find themselves in the red. I really don’t know how Edmonton is turning such large profits of late, to be honest.  Good for them though, as they are one of the teams that has suffered the most when the Canadian dollar drops.  (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/31/hockey-valuations-10_Edmonton-Oilers_314229.html)

    The issue that some of these teams face is, quite frankly, corporate support.  There are not a lot of corporate head offices in Winnipeg, nor in Quebec City.  Filling their luxury suites becomes a bit of a challenge.  With no other professional teams in town to split/share revenues, they rely entirely on the hockey side.  Montreal can get away with that because of the size of its market and its media revenues.  But the smaller cities struggle in that regard.

    The Canadian teams have historically done well when the Canadian dollar rides at the 90 cent level or higher.  When it drops below that level, things become dicey.  Relying on a dollar near parity might be a safe bet given the financial issues in the U.S., but it is by no means a sure thing.  In Canada, you know what you are going to get, but that means there is also very little growth opportunity.  Winnipeg lost its team partially because it couldn’t fill its old 15 000 seat arena, and the primary concern there centers around the NHL’s fears that fans in Winnipeg will continue to talk the talk, but refuse to actually back it up when it comes to selling out the arena using standard NHL pricing of their tickets.

  4. light_n_tasty says:

    Well, with respect, the fans DID get rid of Brisebois…remember when he had to take time off because of heart problems due to all the stress from the booing?  And then he was traded to Colorado…

    The fans also got rid of Theodore.

    Arguably, the fans also got rid of Patrick Roy.


    Perhaps the analogy has some holes.  But I don’t think it’s idiotic.

  5. bwoar says:

    The money is already on the table in Winnipeg.  With less political BS (because of no government funding needed) and a billionaire owner.  And there are is no shortage of $$$ for luxury boxes, I think most Middle Eastern people (Upper and Lower Canada) are just ignorant of reality here on the prairies.

    I’m always scratching my head over the Quebec thing; there’s a theothetical arena not yet built with theoretical public money… so if the Thrashers need to move tomorrow, how are they going to Quebec City?

    God knows I hate this crappy little town stuck in the late 80s, but Winnipeg is still way ahead in terms of NHL-readiness.

  6. HardHabits says:

    Like clockwork l_n_t comes out of his lair to comment, er bash, on those who would support Gomez.

    You will notice that there are posters who, when Gomez has a bad game will point it out. These are the same posters who when Gomez has a good game will admit it.

    Then there are the posters who will defend Gomez regardless of how awful he is and the posters who will bemoan, bitch and whine about Gomez regardless.

    Which category do you fit in, Mr. Perpetual Whiner. Oh, I think I already answered that for you.

    Oddly the pollyannas in this case still appear to be more intelligent than the chicken littles.

  7. RetroMikey says:

    Youth movement was a great and I was supportive  100% under Gainey but it really failed with the likes of the party boys in Komisarek, Higgins, little Sergei to name a few  and Gauthier is following suit to what Bobby has done.

    My prediction is that it is all about money in our organization, 

    If the Bell Centre has NHL hockey, the people will come regardless of how the team plays. 

    Fine dining, the Casino, nightclubs are other alternatives that the average fan can sulk after a losing game in Montreal.

    Perhaps the interest in the Molsons is about revenue more than bringing a Cup.

    After all, money is important to everyone and you don’t think Subban will jump ship when he is a UFA or Carey Price?

    So much for rebuilding the youth in our organization then.


    “We will win the Cup one day only with ? in the nets “

  8. Chorske says:

    The Reverse Jinx, by Chorske

    I am not a sage or a mystic

    But I am still optimistic

    It’s not that Carey’s a thoroughbred

    Or that Subban messed with their head

    Eller gave them Hell or

    Pacioretty was steady.

    It’s spring once agin, and I look forward with a grin:

    Boone expressed pessimism about a playoff run:

    Conference Finals, here we come.

  9. FormalWare says:

    That would make sense! I found myself scratching my head as to how a champion snooker player (arguably the best in Canada’s history) managed to get a hockey career going at 60-ish (or whatever he’d be, now).

  10. Displaced says:

    It’s only 845 words.  Many around here post 10x that on a daily basis. 

    But his points are good.  We have good goaltending and an impaired D.  We couldn’t afford and shouldn’t have tried to acquire the scoring we needed leading up to the deadline.  Which means we have what we have.  Gomez certainly second to Plecs and AK is maddeningly inconsistent.  But they offer the best potential to turnaround their games to provide much (perhaps desparately needed) offensive.  JM has been trying all sorts of things this season to get them out of their ruts. I say this as someone who would like to see JM, Gomez and AK all moved out of here. 

    Nearing the end of the second season with this folks in place, the playoffs will be time for them to put up or shut up.  If we lose in round 1 or we get shellacked game after game (but still manage to scrape through a round or two), if Gomez and AK contribute little to nothing, then PG has to build a new road map to near term success. 

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  11. krob1000 says:

    lol re HabsFaninVIctoria…..and his disciples.  The truth is that Gomez was traded for to lead the way and be our number one center (I remember all of the debates with the same devotees who insisted Gomez WAS a number one center,etc) Well……since then it became apprent that he would be second fiddle to Pleks who keeps improving in all facets of his game and is now a big girl…..ok fine we can deal with that…he isn’t the 80 point guy he was for his one good season…BUT…NOONE expected him to be our third best center behind David Desharnais? Any honest assessment of this team will immediately focus on our depleted back end.  It is what it is now at this point and I think managaement has someone compensated for that with the Wiz signing, with Sopel and Mara the puckmovement wasn’t special but the front of our net was kept clear and Price saw every one of those 4 million shots last night…if that is the case he’ll usually stop them. 

     Our goaltending has been great and we can’t really improve much there.  So where can we improve? What is our biggest fault to this point? Most would agree it is offense..where can this team “step it up” and improve when gauged against the present? Gionta is not having a stellar season but is actually around his career average if his one season is removed from the equation.  Cammi? yup he could definitely improve and this season seems to have been a big mish mash of diff’t things for him and he is also expected to pick it up at some point but he gets a little bit of a grace [eriod for injury as timing is crcuail and his mobility is a focal point of his game…but he absolutely is just as expected to excel over the stretch run and come playoff time.  Pacioretty has exceeded expectations, Pouliot  and Desharnais have too IMO.  Eller is ahead of where he could be expected as he plays great when center and appears mature beyond his years….BUT when he plays on the wings he is a little scary.  Moen? yeah he could improve but by how much? really not a factor IMO.  Kostitsyn? this is nothing new wit Andrei ..he runs hot and cold…and the good news is he appears to be headed to the tropics as of late but Andrei is Andrei and time will tell…he is still statistically not that bad this season (but he is definitely a wildcard that could help lift us).  Pyatt, White, Darche, halpern? all role players that play small roles and maybe collectively they can amout to an upgrade from their current play and heklp us but I feel they are not big factors moving forward ( I would like to see Dawes get a crack).

    Now what about the gu who was traded for to be our number one center? how is he doing? well it would seem is having a career worst year in all facets of his game.  What can be expected of him down the stretch given his pedigree ?  Well it is not unrealistic…in fact is damn well a necessity to the this teams hope that he steps it up and plays at the worst to his career average.  If that happens he has the ability to make players around him better…unfortunately the prominence of his role with his combiantion of icetime, puck carrying time, situational use and distributor role also allows for his poor play to affect others in a negative capacity.  What it boils down to for us is…whether people want to acknowledge it or kiss Montreal Management and Underachiever Cyber Ass and live in denial…..The simple fact remains…GOMEZ is the most important role that is underperforming which offers this team the greatest chacne of improvement at the present.  Nobody who ctriticizes Gomez actually wants him to fail…although some have a strange way of showing that….but to pretend that he is not the key to our success rigth now and to think he does not deserve to be the topic of water cooler talk, press clippings and cyber venting…ridiculous.  it is what it is and we will go as far as an improved Gomez..and to some extent Cammalleri will take us assuming teh other guys maintain or even suffer a slight dip.  Price is of course going to have to stay the course but we just expect that too. 

    Gomez, Gomez, Gomez ,Cammi, Gomez, Gomez, Gomez, Kostitsyn, Gomez, Gomez, …seems about right to me when looking at where the conversations should be….I won’t get into coaching as it has been made completely obvious Martin feels the same as Gomez has clearly been outplayed by others but JM knows how important his success is going forward for this team……he is doing everything in his power to try and help Gomez succeed…right or wrong that is where we are at. So unless a certain element of fans are actually Gomez fans that have loyally followed him to Montreal like his other minions Gio and Cammi….

  12. notbigbird says:

    I am shocked, I tell you, shocked that you are not optimistic. I must go and rest now.

  13. JVSmith says:

    To HabsFanInVictoria: I was going to wait to next season (around Thanksgiving) to post this but I’ll do it now instead. People should be thankful for Gomez, what would we do without him? Who would they bash non-stop? Who would they watch, waiting with anticipation for the man to screw up? No wonder we, as Habs fans, have such a horrible reputation! We get 2 points we desperately need, we keep managing to pull wins against teams who should & could beat us and rather than discussing that, there is a discussion on what’s wrong with Gomez. Last year it was Price, the year before was Plekanec, why do we need a scapegoat? Especially when the team wins? So he’s not having a great season, it’s been mentioneda lready Let it go. I’m enjoying the win, hoping for the best tomorrow night and am still in awe that they scored an empty-netter last night.

  14. patience is a virtue says:

    lol.  ok, ok.  just having some fun 🙂

  15. derfab says:

    Price did not have to be great last night, just solid and a little lucky.  The Thrashers were unable to finish in large part because our (slower but now bigger) D cleared the slot and crease on shots from the outside.

  16. Chorske says:

    Like many HIO posters, I watched every minute of that playoff run. I can assure you that, had Patrick Roy not been supernatural, the Habs would have not made it past the first round. Sure, the team needs to score goals- but 11 OTs suggests that the goalie was keeping them in there until the goals came. Like this year’s edition, that Stanley Cup team wasn’t one to blow anyone out of the water.

  17. punkster says:

    You said that yesterday. Try another angle because this doesn’t apply.


  18. habbifier says:

    Final four madness sure would be nice

    But if philly stumbles, Price may suffice

    To lead us on a journey where it’s open for all

    Stanley Cup Finals, who said we too small?

    To Thomas in Boston we’re the nemesis

    While Gino and Cindy ain’t part of this

    And Boudreau’s intellect still on the waiting list.

    3 S’s and some magic from the ghostly mist

    And im a dreaming optimistic…sorry, couldn’t resist.



  19. christophor says:


    That you’ve boiled the eastern conference down to a difference in goaltending is just plain ridiculous. 

    Case in point is Florida. GREAT goaltending. HORRIBLE team. No one. Not Ward, not Price, not Thomrask make up the difference.

  20. sidhu says:

    Ignoring Gomez is like asking Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, “so other than that, how was the play?”


  21. HardHabits says:

    That analogy is neither clever nor accurate and is is patently false. I think it’s time to call you an idiot.

    If the fans could get rid of Gomez they’d have been able to have Kovalev resigned.

    If the fans could get rid of Gomez they’d have gotten rid of Brisebois.

    If the fans could get rid of Gomez the smarter HIO posters would get rid of zak.

  22. HardHabits says:

    So you’re saying that the Habs are suffering from a bad case of TomPyattitis? :p

    They are moving forward in terms of being a better team. If as you say it is true that the Habs are out-chancing their opponents, which BTW I agree with, then it is my opinion, rather, observation that they will work on this next season, or maybe even in time for the play-offs, and eventually start uping the percentages in favour of more goals scored per attempts.

    JM is a sneaky gradualist IMHHO and I believe he is intent on saving his best for the play-offs.

    Last season it took 3 rounds for people to not underestimate the Habs. I doubt they can rely on that for more than 2 rounds again this season if even 1, but, and I know I have had my sky is falling moment or two, these Habs can beat any given team in the NHL in any given series, as long as they stick to the script.

    I do believe that opportunism is sustainable and in fact it is the team that manages to sustain its level of opportunism that wins the Cup.

  23. Morenz7 says:

    Well, HabsFaninVic, appalled as I am by the play of Gomez, I actually do have more. As a diehard—and I mean diehard—fan, I’m sick to death of watching a team that doesn’t, can’t, won’t attack. Last night was, in my view, an embarrassment. This allegedly “quick” team has been reduced to scrambling like a herd of headless chickens in its own end, flipping the puck in the air in the rare event it gets posssession, and hoping Max Pacioretty can outrun a d-man for a goal.

    Yeah, they won. But enjoy the win? Not on your life. To say last night’s score flattered them is a woeful understatement (Boone’s “never in doubt” was never more ironic), and the fact this ridiculous playing style carried them to a conference final last year is no excuse for failing to address the problem. I won’t give up on them, but you can’t blame fans and pundits for losing patience. Gomez and his bloated salary stand in the way of meaningful remedies, namely, a true, large-bodied first-line centre; more big talented forwards like Max; a back-up goalie who can stop a beachball. The D I can live with, knowing Gorges and Markie could both be back in the fold. But right now I see a team with maybe four players they could consider untouchable. Habs fans deserve, much, much better.

  24. Displaced says:

    Boone is right Carey saved us last night and is a big reason we enjoy an 8-point playoff cushion.  Frankly most of the Eastern conference teams are an underwhelming bunch saved by playoff quality goaltending. 

    Last night Ward stopped 41 shots to “steal” a 2-1 win against the pathetic Panthers.   Rask stops 33 against awful Ottawa to earn a 1-0 shutout.  And, we anoint Price the best tender in the game for his 40 saves as his hapless teammates are outplayed by playoff-outsider Atlanta in their empty sports palace. 

    Last night’s games are not supporting evidence that Boston’s trade deadline moves make them elite or that we should diddle ourselves into believing that we are distinctly better than the teams below us looking for a card to Spring Social.

    Fortunately, TB, Boston, the Rangers, and Buffalo are all in the same boat; and Toronto still needs to know if Reimer can be their Steve Penney. While Ottawa, the Isles, Florida and Atlanta don’t have the goaltending to offset their suck-a-tude.  The only scary team, right now, is NJ, who, thankfully, started their stretch run from the clubhouse turn, while everyone else was on the backstretch.


    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  25. smiler2729 says:

    Bottom line Canadiens 3 Thrashers 1. A big FAT W! And that’s what the record books will show forever. Does it really matter how they got it? I worked and couldn’t watch so that’s all I know – THE HABS WIN!

  26. smiler2729 says:

    The point is that the goalie is the superstar and many can’t grasp that concept cuz to them unless the team’s superstar is leading the league in scoring, they aren’t a great team.

    The ’93 Habs were a great team, the ’10 Habs can be a great team… just gotta get on that run.

  27. bwoar says:

    That debate is a lot more interesting in French.  But then, imo Quebecers are the unlucky children of North America.

    One thing though aHab, Math is right: this team relies less on its goalie than last year, plays much better hockey in front of him and ‘the system’ seems to have been imprinted much more successfully.

    I know, it’s hard to back up the “relies less on Price” part since, well, he starts pretty much every game.  But the point is, he doesn’t need to be stand-on-his-head spectacular each night.


    Of course that will change in the playoffs.

  28. habbifier says:

    If NHL fans owned a restaurant, habs fans would run the PMS section.

  29. bwoar says:

    yep that and stellar lights-out goaltending 😉

  30. ZepFan2 says:

    “After all, money is important to everyone and you don’t think Subban will jump ship when he is a UFA or Carey Price?”

    Like Plecanek and Markov did?

    If they did split for the money as you predict, would they be the first pro athletes that did? No.

    That being said, with “fans” like you, I wouldn’t blame them if they did. It’s business after all with EVERY organization in the NHL, NFL, and the NBA looking out for #1.

    Shocking, I know.

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

  31. HardHabits says:

    That’s so unlike you Ian. 😉

  32. habbifier says:

    Martin has forgotten about hockey more than most of us will ever attain in knowledge.

  33. HardHabits says:

    You people need to look up the word analogy because that wasn’t one.

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