About last night …

Will those two points be important in April?

Could be.

And the Canadiens are only 1-1 against crap teams: the Islanders Z-squad in that exhibition game in Quebec City and the woeful Leafs at the ACC.

A loss is a loss, but there were mitigating factors:

No Andrei Markov.

No Mike Cammalleri.

No Roman Hamrlik.

The first two were missed on the Canadiens power-play, which went 0-for-5.

The absence of Hamrlik was less of a factor. The Canadiens’ highly suspect D played a strong game against a weak group of Toronto forwards.

Yes, Clarke MacArthur looked like his former teammate, Thomas Vanek, on the winning goal. But with the exception of Phil Kessel, the other Leafs fired blanks (including a shot-less stretch of more than 10 minutes in the second period).

Carey Price?

Solid but not spectacular. Some huge saves on Kessel, including a cat-quick late-game stop that kept the margin at 3-2 and set the stage for some last-second pressure on Jean-Sebastien Giguère.

(Elliotte Friedman’s excellent interview with Price, including an account of the flare-up with Andrei Markov last season.)

On L’Antichambre, panelists praised the intensity, character and work ethic of the Canadiens. 

The team came out thumping – recording five of the first six hits – and were not intimidated by the allegedly scary Leafs. Brian Burke’s truculent team includes small forwards and a defence corps that has size but limited skill and mobility. The Canadiens’ D, missing two regulars, had three blown assigments and Toronto cashed each time.

Forechecking by the Canadiens third and fourth lines created chaos in the Toronto end. And if Giguère hadn’t been at the top of his game …

Again, no points to show for the evening, but there was a lot to like:

• Lars Eller: The Canadiens cleaned house in their pro scouting department, but I hope there was a bonius for whoever recommended this kid. Eller was minus-2, but had two shots, missed the net three times and had two shots blocked. Stats don’t tell the story, though. Eller played with skill, smarts and confidence. For my money, he’s a Top Six forward who should be tried on the wing with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta when Cammalleri returns.

• Dustin Boyd was the only player Jacques Martin singled out in his postgame French remarks. The newcomer played almost 15 minutes, including more than three minutes of excellent PK time – and had three shots and the goal that put the Canadiens back in the game. He seems to have good chemistry with a renascent Maxim Lapierre.

• Jeff Halpern was superb on the PK and played 10:40 – solid minutes for a fourth-liner.

• Josh Gorges had four hits, blocked three shots and kept his head through the rare sequences when the Leafs managed to maintain control of the puck in the Canadiens’ end. He and Hal Gill continue to play complementary D.

• P.K. Subban took another penalty – his ninth, if you include the pre-season – but played with admirable discipline. The RDS guys praised his sang-froid. We didn’t see the patented rushes until late in the game, when the Canadiens were scrambling to tie it up.

• Andrei Kostitsyn had a few shots and played like he cared.

• The defence pairing of Ryan O’Byrne and Alexandre Picard had a shaky start but improved as the game went on. O’B had some big hits, and Picard moved the puck effectively.

Other observations:

• Tom Pyatt was great on the P.K but took a penalty with four minutes left in a one-goial game.

• Tomas Plekanec had four hits but lacked the explosiveness we saw in the pre-season. He missed Cammalleri.

• Benoit Pouliot is playing his way out of the Top Six. Martin was reduced to using Mathieu Darche with Gomez and Gionta, demoting Benny to fourth-line duty. He had no shots on goal, did little of consequence in the O-zone and had a neutral-zone turnover that sprung Kessel for the Leafs’ second goal.

• The Captain forced Giguère into a couple game-saving stops in the dying seconds. But he and Gomez exerted little in the way of sustained pressure – possibly because they didn’t get much help from Benny.

• Where was Playoffs Gill?

Trotting out his favourite mantra for the opener, Martin said special teams were crucial. The Canadiens should have had more to show for three man advantages. They consistently lost crucial faceoffs to begin PPs, Subban was jittery at the point and there was only one occasion when the first wave managed to maintain control for more than a minute … without scoring.

The power-play will be more dangerous with Cammalleri and Markov.

On to Pittsburgh, where the Penguins will be good and pissed after opening their new building with a loss to Philadelphia – a game in which Sid and Geno were kept off the scoresheet.

•  •  •

With Wade Redden in the AHL, is there a more overpaid Dman in the league than Mike Komisarek?

He played 12:08, had two hits (Josh Gorges and Tomas Plekanec had four each) and was on for both Canadiens’ goals.

What a stiff. And Dion Phaneuf ain’t much better.

•  •  •

Mathias Brunet of La Presse put it well in a Tweet: The Future of the Canadiens is in good hands with P.K., Eller and Price.

•  •  •

LOVED the work of Mario Tremblay on RDS. He and Joël Bouchard are a good team.

And Benoit Brunet, who was ripped in La Presse this week, has picked up his game.

•  •  •

I missed Coach’s Corner, but Commenters say Don Cherry was all over the Halk trade.

First time in history he and Jack Todd agree on anything.

69 Comments

  1. TOEmastro says:

    I gotta say, my sarcasm detector must be broken, I can’t tell if this is sincere or not :/

  2. matraque says:

    I also agree with Cherry….. OMG!

    ——

    Canadien en 5!
    Never go Full Retard
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svwGRJA28lY&feature=related

  3. Rudy says:

    I think PK got nervous when he realized how BAD Spacek was and figured PK had to cover for him.

    “Start the season with a clean equipment bag and a freah bucket of febreze!”-CharlieHodgeFan

  4. forskis says:

    There was one positive from JM’s performance as a coach….even though OB and Picard completely blew coverage on the first goal….he threw them back out there, last season, they would have been stapled to the bench…probably why OB got somewhat better as the game went on.

    It is also clear that he has Pouliot on a very short leash.

    “I am guilty of using elipses…”

  5. RGM says:

    Close game, could’ve gone either way, a lucky bounce here or there, blah blah blah. File it and forget it, on to the next one.

    Some positives – Eller shows a lot of promise, Price played a solid game and didn’t get deflated by any of the goals, Plekanec was Plekanec, Gorges was Gorges, nobody gave up until the final whistle.

    Some negatives – the power play was brutal, 3 bad defensive lapses yielded 3 goals, top two lines seemed disjointed and a little out of sync due to the juggling, HNIC went a lot way in solidifying its Leafs base and alienating the remaining 80% of the country that doesn’t live in the GTA and/or cheers the Leafs.

    Go Habs Go!

  6. Puck Bard says:

    Wow, that Price interview is great.  Gotta like the kid. Just support him, he’s young. He’s gonna be a champion. 

  7. marlboro says:

    Try this Martin! Bring up White, he belongs. Put him on the First line with Gomez, and Gionta.  Tell him your job is to go to the net, and take care of business.  He can be a great Power forward.  Eller stays with Plecs, and Cammi. The kid can play.  Pouliot put anywhere you want not on the Ice, Same with Darche… Top 6 just got bigger, tougher, and younger…

  8. habs001 says:

    losing the season opener should not be a major concern(allthough if we would have lost it last year we would have missed the playoffs)…the concern is that we played a team that has one of the weakest forward groups in the nhl and still gave up 3 goals.. good solid goaltending by our goalies on this team will not be enough…our goalies will have to stop many shots that if they go in we can say not the goalies fault…if this does not happen we will be giving up 3-5 goals a game…the leafs had only a few forwards to cause concern but other teams will have 2-3 lines that cause concern…we may need to score 5/6 goals sat to win…

  9. The Cat says:

    My take on the game. I thought Boyd and Darche played really well. Sure key players were missing but that happens to every team at some point, and Toronto played particularly bad I thought. The depth just isnt there like people seem to say, sure its better than it was but its still 3rd-4th line depth and 5 and 6th Defensemen depth, when you ask those guys to move up the lineup, it doesnt work out so well. The 3rd and 4th line are fine, its the 1st and 2nd line thats still the problem: getting over 2 even strength goals a game will always be a problem because theyre just too small, they looked invisible out there.

     

    [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

  10. G-Man says:

    No scoring against a barely NHL squad and presto, the Laffs start better than the Habs. Price was okay, but allowing 3 while the other goalie outplayed him yet again grates on the nerves.

    Pouliot is another head case. Since the great start after the trade, he has fizzled and received a $500K raise. My question is, why? (He was a 1st rounder- 5 YEARS AGO!- Why NHL teams pay guys for “potential” is beyond me.) He’s done squat since the first 10 games after the trade, proving his consistent inconsistencies.

    Darche’s 2 penalties probably earned him the press box, especially with Cammi’s return. Eller looks like he has the stuff, but it’s only 1 game; wait and see what he does over the next season.

    So, can the fans who think Markov should be traded please stand up? I mean, that power play. It is to laugh.

    Saturday against Pittsburgh we will see what kind of team the Habs have again. It doesn’t look promising.

  11. nightmare_49 says:

      

       

       No NHL distractions to overshadow Bulldogs. Will fans bite?  …  by Scott Radley

       http://www.thespec.com/sports/bulldogs/article/265680–no-nhl-distractions-to-overshadow-bulldogs-will-fans-bite

      

  12. kirbhabs says:

    Totally agree with everything you wrote! Nice summary

  13. Kristopher7 says:

    That interview really gives you hope for Price. He sounds like he’s ready to really shine in his position.

  14. Kaptain K says:

    What do you do if when the leafs win the Stanley Cup? …

    … 

    Turn off your X-BOX


    Captain Gionta

  15. MikeMcLaren says:

    One thing I liked seeing from Ryan O’Byrne… after he settled down… he was firing the puck from the point a lot more.

    I think that’s him showing some more confidence.  Last year when he had an opening at the point, he would slide a hard pass into the corner just to keep it in the zone. 

    That confidence runs both ways though.  I think if the coaching staff shows a little more confidence in Ryan, he’ll be more confident and will continue to progress. 

    The guy’s got a pretty heavy shot from the point and he can get it off quickly enough.  That was always Komisarek’s problem – a nice heavy shot – but took forever to get the thing off.

    /\\ike
    GO HABS GO!

  16. Timo says:

    Well… look at it this way. They couldn’t get him to do it in Minnie, he is not working out here… chances are he is a bust. His problem is not between his ears, it’s between his legs. 

  17. MikeMcLaren says:

    Perhaps the tantalizing thing with Pouliot though were his first 10+ games with the Habs when he came over in the trade from Minnesota.  You could see the hands, he went to the net.

    He’s got the tools, he needs the will.  Can that be fixed?  I dunno, I just have faith that folks can better themselves if they put their mind to it.

    /\\ike
    GO HABS GO!

  18. Timo says:

    It’s not like Pouliot was thriving in Minni. He sucked there as well and that’s why he got dealt. Unlike Lats who just needed a change of scenery, Pouliot will not do well in the NHL no matter where he plays. The sooner Habs realize it the sooner they can start addressing the problem (i.e. looking for replacement). 

  19. Timo says:

    They should really sit Pouliot. At least Darche tries…

  20. MikeMcLaren says:

    Hey, Guillaume did recently say in an interview he would certainly entertain coming back to Montreal (aww, after all the bad feelings he communicated when he was traded?) so maybe even if Pouliot falls even more out of favor it won’t be a complete write off?

    Speaking of writing off, it’s a little bit too early write off Pouliot after one game.  Unfortunately, he didn’t exactly dazzle in the pre-season either though.  Clearly there’s some cause for concern.

    Tremblay dealt with him in Minnesota and he and others have said that the player has the tools, his issue is between the ears.

    There’s no salary cap on support staff.  You can hire as many coaches as you want.  You can hire as many scouts as you want.

    How about this?  How about the Canadiens consider some “life coaches”, sports psychologists or whatever?

    When you play in Montreal you’re under a microscope.  Some players (Cammalleri on the current squad and in the recent past Patrick Roy was never one to lack confidence) just naturally thrive on the pressure, on the attention.  Others don’t.  But what if you coached that?  What if you coached attitude, perception, work ethic, etc.?

    You want to be a world-class organization?  (They are) Then focus on the mental element of the game, pull out all the stops you possibly can to address what is a very real problem with playing in this city.

    The NHL Network is airing a series of documentaries where they follow players in the off-season. P.K. Subban was featured in one.  That young man has such a good head on his shoulders.  He knows what he needs to do, and I just can’t ever see him lacking in the confidence department.

    The leaders on the team can help players like Price and Pouliot.  But the organization should be giving them the support they need to keep them at their mental peak as well.

    /\\ike
    GO HABS GO!

  21. SeriousFan09 says:

    Why, Cammy’s back in tommorow so that’s Darche being bumped out.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  22. Number31 says:

    Can they call up Ryan White now…?

  23. TheMock780 says:

    Like many who have already posted, I didn’t realise how much I missed ALN.

    -Price was solid. While he will have to steal some games this season, simply getting solid starts out of him consistently without the weak goal is a good place to start.

    -Eller looks like a great addition. Fantastic skater with hands and defensive awarness. Once he get’s consistent he’s going to be one heck of a Hab for years to come.

    -Subban, while jittery, eventually settled in and played a solid game. We all know he’s going to be a star but much like Eller he just needs to feel his way in and get consistent.

    -The bottom 6 was awesome. Boyd brings so much to the game, Lapierre looks like he’s carrying on with his playoff form, Halpern was a solid addition, and I have high hopes for Pyatt. With Cammy coming back in Pittsburgh please send Darche to the press box (they kept him instead of White? Really? Another instance of Martin favouring vets over young guys) and it should be Pouliot (who was brutal), not Eller dropped into a bottom 6 role.

    -It took Pleks half the game to get going and Kostitsyn needs his linemates to be affective. While they weren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, Cammy will get these guys really going on Saturday.

    -Don’t know whether Gomez and Gionta just didn’t have it going tonight or if Pouliot was just that much of an anchor? I don’t want to wait to find out. With still no Markov or Hamrlik they don’t have time to mess around. Put Eller with these two on Saturday.

    -The D is bad. Without Markov and Hammer it’s just bad. Gill is off to a slow start (as usual), Picard is a AHL defenseman and what the hell has happened to Spacek!? I didn’t think O’Byrne was that bad actually.

    -All in all I though they were the better team out there tonight but the Habs top 6 needs to get going ASAP or it’s going to be a rough first month sans Markov

  24. Timo says:

    It’s a good thing we signed Plekanec over Halak. 

  25. Exit716 says:

    Actually, I live in Ottawa, so I’ll phone my MP’s office and get the ball rolling.

     

  26. Exit716 says:

    Phone your MP and ask for the information. Or ask how to file a freedom of information request. I’m pretty sure the numbers aren’t being hidden.

  27. habs001 says:

    majority of our games will be very close ones…the key is are we good enough to win the games that are tied in the third…or keep the one goal lead…or tie it up…do we have the forwards,d and goalie that can win many one goal games or do we have a team that will keep the game close but just loose by one….

  28. habs youngtimer says:

    if Pouliot doesn’t play on the top 2 lines, he won’t remain on the team.

  29. SUMO says:

    Exactly! Thats the point I’m trying to get across.

    Forget their Leaf-homer BS. If we are paying for cheerleaders on CBC, I want to know what they are earning.

  30. SUMO says:

    I think they make a heck of a lot more. Why doesn’t the CBC post their salaries? Its OUT $$!!!

    the NHL post the players salaries and its a private corporation.

    The arguement isn’t why the NHL does disclose but abt why is the CBC NOT disclosing. We have a right to know. I’m sure alot of people would be outraged if they knew what the $$ these clowns make.

  31. SeriousFan09 says:

    And we have people here complaining Gomez is overpaid.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  32. Will Longlade says:

    My take on the game:

    – A close tilt. The
    Habs lost, but they weren’t outplayed, outhustled or outhit. Some big
    defensive miscues/lapses tilted the game in the Leaf’s favour.


    I’m impressed by what both Boyd and Halpern bring to the team. Above
    average on the PK, good defensively, some toughness and it looks like
    they’ll contribute some badly needed secondary scoring, 5 on 5. Based on
    early results, they could be an upgrade over Metro and ??? (sorry,
    forget his name).

    – I thought Lars Eller played well. He has nice
    size, he’s got a nose for the puck and he has that long, efficient
    Sundin-like stride when he skates. This kid is gonna be a keeper and it
    may be hard to keep him out of the top 6 for long.

    – Price played
    well and gave the Habs every opportunity to win the game. He has tough
    skin to augment his talent. IMO, he’s going to prove his many detractors
    (Don Cherry included) dead wrong.

    – Similar to last year, it
    takes a while for Gill to build up his cardio (read 2-3 months). He was
    caught out of position badly three or four times during the game and he
    didn’t have a hope in hell of recovering. Let’s hope he doesn’t do too
    much damage until then.

    – Pouliot is adding little to the team. If
    he’s not scoring, he should at least be using his big frame to throw
    some body checks. But, there were instances during the game that he
    shied away from contact. He should take Lapierre’s lead.   


    Overall, I see the potential for a better, more well rounded squad than
    last year. Much better depth than last year once the injured and
    suspended players are back.

     

  33. Exit716 says:

    I believe that Red Deer Ronnie and Kingston’s Village Idiot make around $750,000 to $1 million per year.

     

  34. SeriousFan09 says:

    12 minutes and he was on for both Habs goals, looking pretty bad as well.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  35. ooder says:

    i really liked the teams play and discpline.

    Other then the OB and Picard mess up the team played a very well structured game, everybody knew where to be and what to do.

    everybody pitched in and there were practically no passengers.

    even ak46 was back checking and playing well.

    however, not impressed by gomez or gionta.

    and Price could have been better.

    this game was decided by the fact that Giguere was better then Price.

    Price wasn’t horrible, he was solid, but not that great.

    overall i am pretty excited and like the way this team controls the play and how everybody gets the system.

    on a lighter note check this out

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U6GZ5cmBw0

    the goalie getting scored on: Kari Ramo 🙂 

    ——————

    88 is the new 23

  36. SUMO says:

    Komisarek only played 12mins tonight. Is the big guy hurt?

    QUESTION: If the CBC is a public corporation, shouldn’t we (the taxpayer) be entitled to know what Don Cherry & Ron Maclean are paid? Since it is public $$ afterall…….Get them both off the air!

    Mandatory retirement for everybody but them? Hypocrites!

  37. Exit716 says:

    I wish they would have given Aucoin more time to make a decision last year instead of taking Spacek.

  38. mbplekfan says:

    The game went pretty much according to the form chart.

    Without Markov and Hammer the defence was a little suspect.

    Without Cammaleri the Pleks and AK line wasnt a factor.

     

    Pouliot is playing himself onto the third line. Not a big deal if that line has Boyd and Lapierre on it. Our bottom six is much better than at any time last year. We dont miss Moore or Metro.

    PK took the abuse and dished out some hits. Good to see that he’s not intimidated. He was nervous and shakey at times but not bad considering he wasnt beside Hammer.

    Eller was good. Once the pucks start going in he will be even better. Solid skills and played a decent game for a rookie. Once Gomez shows up that line could light things up.

    OB needs Markov.

    Pitt will stomp our defence if Hammer isnt back. Spacek is MIA. Its almost like having an opposing forward in his jersey.

     

     

  39. Chuck says:

    Just checked the stats, and Price has the same record and GAA as the guy that one the Stanley Cup 2 years ago.


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