About last night …

Let’s change the title to About tomorrow night …

The measuring-stick game will be played in Tampa Bay.

I don’t want to sound like one of the nattering nabobs of negativity on L’Antichambre, who were gleefully trashing Scott Gomez AFTER A WIN last night, but there truly wasn’t much to conclude after watching your Montreal Canadiens beat a lousy team that’s tanking its season.

Florida is rebuilding. Of the Panthers who faced the Canadiens last night, Stephen Weiss, David Booth, Keaton Ellerby and Niclas Bergfors will be part of the future in south Florida (or somewhere). Sergei Samsonov? No.

It’s nice to win a rare game in which the third period isn’t a melodrama.

It’s nice for Carey Price to ring up another shutout, tying Tim Thomas at seven.

And it’s very nice to bag two more points on the road, where the Canadiens raised their record to 15-15-1.

But let’s see if they can go above .500 against the Lightning …. and sweep the southeastern U.S. in the process.

(Hey, Gary: No teams in Alabama?)

 

 

There was a lot to like last night. In no particular order:

• Andrei Kostitsyn, who saved his best hockey for when the team needs it most.

• The centres of the future, Lars Eller and David Desharnais.

• Another perfect PK, even though Jacques Martin had to use Alexandre Picard when P.K. Subban was in the box.

• Two more assists for the wizardly Wiz.

• The explosive acceleration of Max Pacioretty, who continues to prove the value of a Hamilton apprenticeship.

• Hal Gill’s goal and plus-3

• Carey Price, a bona-fide candidate for the Vezina Trophy.

• Brent Sopel played a solid 18:47 and his partner, Picard, played a minute less.

There was stuff I didn’t like:

• The Canadiens were outhit 37-20 and had no answers for the aggression of Darcy Hordichuk. 

• Scott Gomez played more minutes than any other forward on the Canadiens.

• In a 4-0 game, Roman Hamrlik played 22:24.

• Michael Cammalleri has two SoG and is pointless on this road trip.

But a W is a W, and the Canadiens have put together a url for the first time in a month.

Maybe Tampa Bay will make it four.

•  •  •

Guest Comments:

From Rad:

 

Good to see the Habs pick up a few wins in here. The next 2 games will tell us a lot about this team. If we can beat both Tampa and Boston, not only Habs fans, but the whole league will have to take notice of this Montreal Canadien hockey team. I have felt all along that last year’s playoff success was an anomaly, a one-off event. But 2 wins against 2 elite teams at this juncture will go a long way to convince me these Habs are for real this year again.

The team is starting to gel and play with confidence. Everyone is contributing….Hal Gill with a goal, Kostitsyn, Eller, Sopel, Wizniewski, Picard. Cammalleri’s return has been a boon for the offense. PG has made minor, but important moves in acquiring Brent Sopel and Paul Mara, both of whom provide grit, an item that was notably lacking earlier in the season. Mara especially, will make his presence felt against physical teams like Boston that attempt to bully the Habs. This is what you see on a winning team … contributions from everyone.

A lot of Habs fans haven’t dared to hope this year. But these Canadiens are starting to round into playoff form at just about the right time. Jacques Martin said the other day he thought this team is BETTER than last year’s team….because of the kids …. Pax, Desharnais, Eller, Weber, and the irrepressible P.K. Subban. The fact that Martin wasn’t bemoaning the loss of Markhov and Gorges, but rather, talking up the kids, says a lot about the quiet confidence that currently permeates this team, from top to bottom.

Very interesting 2 games coming up.

And PeterD:

 

I like the lines the way they have been the last few games.  For some reason Eller, AK and Moen seem to really click together…may be it’s there physical presence and skill levels.  All of them are relatively big guys and they are playing big, hitting and bashing.  I have always like Eller but I am really starting to see him as a key acquisition for the future of the team.  He seems very responsible defensively in our end and is quite often the first guy to pressure the other teams forwards along the boards in our end.

Picard played a good game for a guy that is on the bubble lately…he does seem ready to back up his comments about just being happy to be in the NHL and that he understands his role and to be ready if and when he gets the call to play.  And Sopel, well he isn’t a Markov and will never look like he is, but he has been a reliable add in to the support the defence.  And I loved Mara’s physicality the other night against the Thrashers. 

I’m a little worried about the Pleks, Cammi and Halpern line.  Does Halpern seem a little out of his league here?  I think he seems a little slow and confused about what to do offensively with the other two guys.  But what go you do…the other lines seem to have some chemistry so not sure if I want JM to make a move right now.  And God help us when Darche comes back…I guess we could sit Pyatt.  But I liked how DD, Pouliot and White worked together when they had the chance.  So how do we get White back in the line up?

I guess what we will likely see for the rest of regular season is rotation of our extra d-men and forwards in and out of the line up so everyone stays game shape and fresh.  I’m OK with that provided we get wins.

 

 

 

79 Comments

  1. Timo says:

    It was pretty much a home game, wasn’t it? Lots of nice looking ladies too.

  2. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Wait wait wait. Since Gomez is a good player but one in a major slump — as much a psychological issue as anything else — is there not a reasonable argument to keep playing him, as a way of retrieving him? If JM says, You suck, and benches/press boxes him or sends him to Hamilton, when do we reckon the slump will end? If coach shows patience, there’s at least the possibility that something on the ice will trigger a return. There’s an opportunity for confidence to return if the coach is showing confidence. As is repeatedly pointed out here, Habs are paying massive bucks for poor Gomer. Even at the expense of valuable ice-time for the kids, I would be hoping that JM just keeps playing Gomez –especially against teams like Florida — until he gets his mojo back.

    I acknowledge that there are a number of counter-arguments. Get rid of the ones that are fueled by fan anger and impatience, how many good ones are left?

    What I don’t get is why Auld didn’t get the start.

  3. HardHabits says:

    How anybody can even begin to lambaste the Habs fans is beyond me. I pointed this out a while back when the hot topic was the fans and how much harm they produce.

    That is why finishing in the top 5 is so important. Never discount the value of home ice advantage. Road wins are equally important. I said that if the Habs can maintain a .500 record or better on the road they’d be a shoo-in for the play-offs.

  4. Displaced says:

    Joey’s post about AK got me thinking about how we perform as a team against teams higher in the standings and lower in the standings (based on current standings, not standings when the game was played), at home and on the road.  For your stat trivia consumption…

     

    When we play teams ahead of us in the standings, when we’re at home:

    6-2-1… 25gf/21ga… 2.8 GF on average/2.3 GA on average… 30 shots for on average/35 shots against on average

     

    When we play teams ahead of us in the standings, when we’re on the road:

    4-6-0… 25gf/34ga… 2.5gfa/3.4gaa…  32sfa/34saa

     

    When we play teams behind us in the standings, when we’re at home:

    14-6-5… 74gf/64ga… 3.0gfa/2.6gaa…  35sfa/29saa

     

    When we play teams behind us in the standings, when we’re on the road:

    11-9-1… 48gf/46ga… 2.3gfa/2.2gaa…  32sfa/29saa

     

    Two things stood out. 

    1. Our home record against team higher than us is our best record, despite being outshot

    2. Home ice means more to this team than the quality of the opposition

     

    Here are the 8 games against higher ranks teams on Bell Ice:

     

    10/13  Tampa Bay:  4-3 OTL, 2 short handed goals against and give up 48 shots

    11/9    Vancouver: 2-1 win, Price stopped all 34 shots for the shutout

    11/16  Philadelphia: 3-1 win, Price is the star and stops 40 of 41

    12/4    San Jose: 3-1 win, Price is the star and stops 26 of 27

    12/15  Philadelphia: 5-3 loss, first time this season we outshot a better team at home and we lose

    12/16  Boston: 4-3 win, Price stars again

    1/6      Pittsburgh: 2-1 win, outshot Carey stars

    1/8      Boston: 3-2 OT win, outshoot them 42-29 and win in OT

    1/12    Pittsburgh: 5-2 loss badly outshot, let up 4 PP goals

     

    Looks like we can beat Boston and Philly when we play at home and Price plays a big game. 

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

  5. Jdub1985 says:

    I’m I crazy to want us to throw Saturday? Montreal is a solid 3 games ahead in 6th. A Tampa win puts the Lightning team back in 2nd returning the Bruins to 3rd.

    I guess the larger question is Tampa or Boston?

    and when it comes to May – I always say Boston. I mean if those idiots had an ounce of character and not have had the most epic collapse in the history of the NHL. We very easily could have seen a Montreal/Chicago Cup final.

    Tampa (I just remember 2004, not fun)

    So…Tampa or Boston?

     

  6. light_n_tasty says:

    Yes, you are crazy.  We are not in a position to throw away games.  The playoffs are not a lock.

  7. Timo says:

    Agreed. Let’s not throw anything yet. And let meet Bruins in the first round to hand them their customary first round exit. I believe that’s how things work.

  8. Jordio-oh says:

    It is also possible for us to play the Capitals.

  9. StevieRay says:

    Tampa vs Habs .. first round …Hmmmm that would be interesting .

  10. Timo says:

    Can you imagine… all the Guy Boucher this and that comments should Tampe score a goal in that series? Lol!

    I still would rather play Bruins in the first. There is nothing more satisfying than sending these apes back to the stone age.

  11. PureGuava says:

    How is Gomer allowed to keep taking ice from the kids?

    “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” – Robert Anton Wilson

  12. DearyLeary says:

    Because Pacioretty and Gionta are still producing.

    We’ve got four lines that are reasonably responsible in our end, and all four have some offensive potential.  I think the last three games are a good indicator of what a balanced attack can do.

    Why not get on Pleks’ case while you’re at it?  

  13. Ali says:

    because Pleks is bad on the road, Gomez is just bad

  14. JIMVINNY says:

    If we’re talking about May, then that means the second round, so then playing Tampa in the first round works out.  I’d rather knock the Bruins out in the first round too, but giving them hope by having them beat NY or Carolina, and then losing to us would be nice too.

  15. HardHabits says:

    Because the “nyúl nem szőrös”

  16. punkster says:

    I agree. Gatorade tastes terrible at room temperature.

    ***Subbang!!!***

  17. HardHabits says:

    The kids these days. So many think they can get by without supervision or guidance.

  18. PureGuava says:

     

    As a 7.4 million defensive liability playing in a defensive system, he is not producing & affecting his linemates production as well. He can’t win faceoffs or score, and the others can….There is no logical reason to keep playing him. Gomez is 65pt a season player at his high end, and Martin can’t keep giving 20 minutes a game to a 65pt player, on season 3 of his low-end.

    “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” – Robert Anton Wilson

  19. PureGuava says:

    Boston.

    “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” – Robert Anton Wilson

  20. clichabs says:

    that my friend is an excellent post

  21. Displaced says:

    gee, thanks :-) Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  22. clichabs says:

    to gain home ice advantage will be tough though… leapfroggin wash AND pitt is stretching it a bit. But we never know…

    BTW, has anyone realized how poor is the Caps’ season? Just look at their goals for… the same as the Habs! Who would have thought that we’d have the same amount of goals at this time of the year haha!

  23. Displaced says:

    The Pens are 11-9-4 since Sid went down; and 3-6-3 since Malkin’s last game.  We could catch them.  Washington’s is tougher.

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

  24. StevieRay says:

    either way it’ll be a blast … consumption will be UP !

  25. HabsfaninMA says:

    As a Habs fan in Boston, there would be no better fate than to see them bounce out the Bruins in the first round. Trust me, the fans down here think it is a foregone conclusion that the Bruins will be in the Stanley Cup finals and they are awaiting a Bruins/Flyers matchup in the Eastern finals. The Bruins must go down in the first round so I can have hours of entertaining sports radio!

  26. rhino514 says:

     

    I don´t think many people realize what kind of an accomplishment it is for a team with such a defensive system in place to finish, say, 18th in scoring. I´ve always thought that our defence (as it is now) is decent but overrated and our offense is good and underrated. Look at the goals/game since Cammalleri has returned. Not that many teams have the four line depth the Habs currently do. The second line´s centres problems are the main factor keeping the team from applying consistent offensive pressure. Give Pleks and Cammy a break lately as Halpern doesn´t really contribute much to that line. The tough decision is what to do with Halpern. He´s valuable to a team, but not as a first line winger. And JM (i don´t think) will never bench him for someone like, say, Dawes, who could maybe put the puck in the net.  Likewise he will never bench Gomez. Even if he did, he believes Gomez will produce in the plaoffs as if the regular season had never come to pass (if that happens we will go far, but I´m not completely convinced). PLEASE don´t take Eller away from Kostitsyn and put him back on the wing! Great coaching by JM to have finally after 60 games find what gives Eller and Kostitsyn a chance to excell and feel comfortable. Unlike previous line combinations, I don´t think it is a jump start solution; I think those players really mesh well together. (P.S imagine the offense with Markov feeding the puck!)

  27. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    Whats with Canadians naming their boys Darcy? Hideous name.

  28. StevieRay says:

    18th ?? My measure of he season is to score more goals than you let ..quite simple , we are accomplishing that just barely. As for Gomez … so he’s saving himself for the playoffs …you wish ! How dare he ” float ” for the 1st 60 games some of which we lost due to him ..

  29. _Habsoloutly_ says:

    What a great game.  The Eller line was super impressive to watch last night.  Undeniable chemistry.  My wife was loving that Carey got the SO, she is part native and from BC like Price, so she’s a huge Price fan.  Some idiot next to us was booing the Canadian anthem and my wife wanted me to beat him up,  lol.  I kept saying “I can’t honey, I’ll get kicked out!”  At one point she wanted to go punch him.  lol.

  30. Danno says:

    Glad to see you got to watch a really good game. The Habs fans there did us proud. CHeers!

     

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

  31. sidhu says:

    Boone, nice observation about Hordichuk — he hit Cammy aggressively and was throwing his weight around without repurcussion or real response.

  32. doug19 says:

    Hey check out WHL highlights for the week. The 4th highlight is Brendan Galagher’s a really hot goal! A habs draft choice who likes to score goals. He has 42 or 43 now.

     

    http://www.whl.ca/video/index/id/61e9419d56405eadda72f5ff7f0cec18


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