About last night …

Your Montreal Canadiens just aren’t good enough to coast.

Thirty minutes of intensity – even against the lowly Edmonton Oilers – wasn’t good enough, and the result was the second two-goal lead blown on home ice within 10 days.

It’s one thing to fold aganst Philadelphia.

But Edmonton?

Not a good way to begin a tough month – and as my friend Arpon Basu writes, you have to start worrying about the team’s woeful inconsistency.

It’s been two weeks since the Canadiens won two games in a row.

It’s been a month since consecutive losses, but that streak is in jeopardy tonight in the unfriendly confines of United Arena.

If the Canadiens play like they did in the late stages of the game against the Oilers, New Jersey will smoke ’em … even without Martin F.

And if they miss the playoffs by a point, the Canadiens will be looking back to a home game against Edmonton as one that got away and bollocksed their season.

The Canadiens had been 11-1-1 when leading after two periods this season. Edmonton was 1-11-2 when trailing.

So what happened?

And why did it all seem so inevitable. The momentum swing was palpable after Edmonton’s second goal, and the only question was precisely how the Oilers would tie the game.

The answer: In your face!

P.K. Subban dicked around, as the rookie tends to do, at the blueline on a power play. The kid fell down, Sam Gagner wheeled away and we were on to OT.

Brutal – as was Mike Cammalleri’s turnover on the winning goal.

I’m not ready to join Brian Wilde in throwing Cammalleri under the team bus. But he’s been out of sorts – Cammalleri, not Wilde – since being demoted (the only way to put it) to Scott Gomez’s line, and the lack of effort in pursuing Dustin Penner was both obvious and dismaying.

While visions of that screw-up roiled our sleep, Tony Marinaro – who has solid sources on this story – Tweeted that Andrei Markov will be having knee surgery … again.

“Partial tear ACL graft rt knee, large radial tear lateral meniscus, bone contusions & mod. knee joint effusion” is Dr. Tony’s diagnosis. The surgery will be performed by Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedic heavyweight )Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Albert Pujols, Drew Brees), in Birminhma, Ala., and Markov could be out for up to a year.

This is the last season of Markov’s contract.

Any advice for Pierre Gauthier?

Does the long-term absence of Markov mean the team we see in New Jersey tonight is the roster that will wear the bleu-blanc-rouge for the rest of the season?

And is it good enough to maintain the Canadiens’ lofty position in the standings?

Fact: The Canadiens have not been able to string consecutive wins since Markov was injured in the 7-2 blowout over Carolina on Nov. 16. They won the first game without him, 3-0 over the Flyers, but have lost and won on an alternating basis in the seven games since.

P.K. tries on the power-play – I found him very trying last night, bada-boom – but he isn’t Andrei Markov … at least not yet.

Roman Hamrlik will pinch adroitly and score the occasional goal, like his milestone 150th last night, but he isn’t Markov, either.

The Canadiens have played .500 hockey without their best defenceman. Maintaining that pace over the rest of the schedule will net them 89 points.

The team snuck into the playoffs last season with 88, so maybe .500 hockey will punch the Canadiens a ticket to the dance.

But that’s a premature projection. There’s a lot of hockey to be played … and no way to predict whether Markov’s will be the last serious injury the team sustains.

Playing their best for 60 minutes, even without Markov, the Canadiens have demonstrated they are better than a .500 team. They’ve got a great goaltender and a system that’s effective when everyone busts butt between the national anthem and the final siren.

Any lapse of effort or intensity, however, and things get muy ugly in a hurry.

Tonight’s game will be telling.

No Martin F., and a bounce-back is imperative.

 

 

 

44 Comments

  1. rbby_habs says:

    re: Cammalleri

    I feel for Cammy. It’s not that he’s playing poorly…it’s that Gomez is just killing his season. Gomez is a liability to the team, and to individual success for his teammates.

    He makes awkward passes, at the wrong time, and it’s difficult for Cammy to make anything happen with the plays Gomez is trying to set up. He doesn’t really pass the puck to his teammates….but it seems that he throws the puck at them without them expecting it, and hopes they can make the best of it.

    What would I like to see?
    1) Bench Gomez for one game. Hopefully that will wake him up
    2) Try Ellar w/ Cammy. I think there’s potential there.

  2. HardHabits says:

    What makes me sick is that this loss is Don Cherry’s fault. He’s gotten into PK’s head. PK needs to get back to what he was doing when he came into the league, giving nobody respect!!!

  3. CHasman says:

    Cammalleri coughed up the puck of both of the last two goals.  To my eyes, on the last goal it looked like he was saying, that was your fault Pk, you fix it because he sure didn’t do anything to chase down Penner.  At least Gomez has a good attitude but something is wrong with Cammalleri that he has to change.  If we want to have that 2nd top line we need to play a better offensive forward on that line.

  4. patience is a virtue says:

    I am beginning to seriously question the quality of analysis and writing here at HIO.  It’s as if you’re getting sucked in by all the naysayers who pop their grumpy heads back up to post whenever our team blows one, bashing the smurfs, the coach, the system, gomez’s contract, whatever.  Or perhaps it’s just been too long since the Habs were a contender for some to believe in this team.  I mean deep down believe.  Don’t wanna get heartbroken all over again, etc.  Fair enough. 

     

    Such troubles as last night should not, however, shake the foundations of our faith.  Because:

    a) Um, we are first place in division and two points back of the fearsome Flyers and Penguins, with a game in hand on each.  Dec has games against strong teams (Wings, Flyers, Bruins, Stars, Caps, Bolts), and games against weak teams (Devils, Sens, Leafs, Ilses and Panthers) .  In the age of parity there may be strong teams and weak teams, but any team can beat any team on any given night.  And the young up and coming Oilers just happen to be getting hot, while our hot team is having a bit of a lull.

    b) We went 7-2-1 before Markov returned, and only 4-3 with him.  Yes, he was improving his own play and the Habs play game-by-game before going down; yes he is our best defenceman, maybe still our best player; but the team has proved it is deep enough to win consistently without him.  In the playoffs, and this season.

    c) Price is an elite NHL goalie and Andrei K is the power forward we’ve been waiting for – I don’t think either of these trends are going to change for many years to come.

    d) Pleks has become a bonafide 1st line centre – no question about it.  Gionta is warming up on his wing.  Gomez has had a slower than usual start, but I see no reason why he won’t turn it on in December.  Cam sucked last night, may be a little frustrated, but he is playing ok and will play better.

    e) More importantly, we have two very good rookies, despite PK’s errors last night, who will only improve as the season progresses.

    f) You can bet that Goat will make a move if Markov is indeed out for the year.  That move will only help.

     

    The future is bright for this team, as long as most of the rest of our best players stay healthy.  You can’t predict that, so there’s no point being a downer about a division leading club that has played a couple of weeks of .500 hockey.  Shutting out the Flyers and beating the Kings handily should balance out any analysis of the Habs fortunes since Markov went down again.

    If you want to read less reactionary and negative post-game analyses try Lions in Winter http://www.lionsinwinter.ca/

     

  5. bwoar says:

    And if they miss the playoffs by a point, the Canadiens will be looking back to a home game against Edmonton as one that got away and bollocksed their season.”

    Ugh, you just keep giving the suicide crowd more blank looseleaf to write on.  Y’know, the juvenile poetry of despair.  Only it comes dressed up as furry animals and hates on Scott Gomez instead of the evil ‘they’ who made 8th grade such a pain.  But they were so much fun to stuff into the dumpster the next year.

  6. VancouverHab says:

    Hmmm….the negativity here after this loss is valid, I think. That wasn’t good: and Mr. Boone is spot-on to say that the team will lose whenever it doesn’t play fast and hard for 60 (or 65, as he says) minutes.

    (Perhaps Markov’s absence is huge?)

    If one must look for blame, I thought that the game changed with Pouliot’s utterly lazy and stupid high stick — that would drive any coach stark raving bonkers. Not that I want to throw P. under any bus — but he has to get way smarter if he wants to fulfiil his potentiality…..

    But in the end I think it’s JM’s show now — he is the man payed to find the answers, and I hope he has the tools to make the right adjustments.  He certainly has the experience — so I say look to there instead of picking over certain players.

     

  7. RockinRey says:

    There is a bigger problem Mr. Boone. The bottom line is the Habs have been inconsistent and the record belies what the team really is about. This team is capable of so much more but have been shut out several times this year already and looked ordinary against teams they should dominate.

    Fans can probably live with a gaffe from Pk from time to time but what is apparent and really frustrating is that this team can’t really score and is in the middle of the pack in that regard. When you are 3-1 you have to be able to push back and weather anything the opposition throws back and be able to burry the opposition. They just couldn’t get that fourth goal.

    They need more depth on D and they need a bona fide number 1 center. How long have we been saying that? It is my hope they can buy out Gomez because he seems very predictable and does not really add much in the way of offense. Admittedly he is a nice passer and can carry the puck but does not get the job done.

    On a separate note Max Patt deserves a look ! They have to find people that can produce consistently and can’t rely on a guy like Darche for offense forever. Find a guy who can finish. A guy who can score every second game on average would be nice.

  8. Chris says:

    No inside information from me, but many of the current Habs were unimpressed with Pacioretty’s comments.  On the other hand, I think people should refrain from blowing it out of proportion…Pacioretty was in sore need of some confidence.  Like Subban last season, it is probably in the Habs’ best interests to not fall prey to the temptation of calling up Pacioretty based on a hot streak.  Let him continue to develop his confidence and cockiness while dominating the AHL so that when he comes up (be it at the end of the season or next year) he KNOWS that he is going to get that top-6 winger spot.

  9. sims says:

    the loss is on cammalleri (and maybe a little pk…but he made rookie mistakes)  #13 embelished a weak trip on the tying goal and had a front row seat for the winner.  he made no effort to get back.  cammy cant beat penner in a foot race?  hes playing like a spoiled brat. 

     

  10. xchicksxwithxsticksx says:

    I don’t even want to read any articles today on the hab’s loss. I’m disappointed with the loss, but i don’t see the point of analysing the sh*t out of the game. a bounce back game is in order, along with back to back wins, please.

  11. likehoy says:

    well i hate cammy’s reaction more than anyone else’s since i’ve been on his back since the beginning of last year

    but i gotta give him the benefit of the doubt cause if subban gave me that pass, i’d be bail too…but maybe not to cammy’s degree

    – Gomez is holding down the suck button

  12. likehoy says:

    i’ve never been a cammalleri fan, but I usually shut up when he’s scoring cause that’s what he’s paid to do

    when he’s not scoring, he’s as bad if not worse than gomez considering cammy has very little on the defensive side of the game.

    I think cammy’s letting the hype and talk get to his head…stuff like “playoff hero” and “captain material”

    he’s gotta stop playing with a self entitlement…he’s gotta earn his minutes like everyone else

    – Gomez is holding down the suck button

  13. Fire_Laraque says:

    Rewatch the way Camy reacted on the last goal.  PK’s pass sucked, but Camy’s reaction was the epitome of suckitude.

  14. Fire_Laraque says:

    Someone as to explain something to me, anyone has privy information on if Patches is in the doghouse because of his comments at the beginning of the season?

  15. likehoy says:

    dunno what people saw but I didn’t think the oilers out played us in the 3rd

    we had equal chances…it’s just that we didn’t play our normally stifling style at the end of the game

    the 3rd and 4th goals were directly related to subban’s miscues…wouldn’t chalk that up to the team not putting effort.

    that’s where carey tells pk he doesn’t deserve the triple low five yet.

    – Gomez is holding down the suck button

  16. Fire_Laraque says:

    I can’t believe how Camalleri reacted on the last goal.  What a pissy way of showing discontent.  I liked Camalleri last year, this year’s version is … well, I think I understand why he never stayed long in any team.

  17. JIMVINNY says:

    I am totally willing to throw Cammalleri under the bus.  Regardless of how bad the pass was, he totally sold out.  He heard the hit coming, and just let the puck go.  Completely inexcusable, and I hope he hears it from the coaches. 

     

    That being said, this Moen-on-the-second-line sh*t has got to end.  Call up Patches, sit Pyatt, and put Moen back on the fourth line, where he belongs.  Cammalleri and Gomez are not going to get anything done with a plugger on their wing.


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