About last night …

Reading some of the Comments here and on other sites after the game, I was struck by how many Canadiens fans were indifferent to the outcome.

And it looked like that attitde was shared by the team.

They were due for a dip, and the Max Pacioretty injury greased the downslope.

In the hours leading up to the game in St. Louis, the hockey universe was still buzzing about news that was 48 hours old.

Gary Bettman, Geoff Molson, Air Canada, Joe Thornton and Henrik Sedin, a criminal investigation into what Zdeno Chara did … and to top it off, news that Max-Pac had been released from the hospital.

The Canadiens, who read their BlackBerrys, had to be plugged in to much of the frenzy.

How could they focus on the task at hand?

And St. Louis played like what they were touted as before the season began: a team bolstered by the addition of Jaro Halak and expected to make some noise in the Western Division.

That hasn’t happened.

The Blues aren’t part of a crazy playoff race in which four points separate the West’s fourth-place Blackhawks from 11th place Wild.

But they’re a formidable team at home, 20-11-4, and they have some very impressive young talent, both up front and on the back-end.

David Backes can play on my team. Heck, he could be captain.

I’d also take T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund, Chris Stewart, Alex Pietrangelo, Nikita Nikitin and Kevin Shattenkirk.

Matt D’Agostini? Nah, one good game doesn’t sell me on the guy that was supposed to replace Michael Ryder in Montreal.

Jaro Halak? Sure – but he’d still be Carey Price’s backup.

Last night’s loss was an F&Fer.

File it, forget and focus on Pittsburgh, where the Canadiens play tomorrow afternoon.

I’m confident the dedication and work ethic that was evident during the Canadiens five-game W streak will be back. But Jacques Martin has to something with his forward lines, and he’s running out of resources.

The Pacioretty injury is devastating. His loss hurts the Scott Gomez line and the power play. Arpon Basu laid out the Max-Pac numbers, and last night’s game supported the stats.

The injury left a huge hole that Benoit Pouliot was unable to fill.

I don’t want to throw Benny under the bus after one game. But let’s face facts: Pouliot had a chance to step up in St. Louis, and he didn’t.

Pouliot doesn’t have Pacioretty’s explosive acceleration. But the rest of the package is impressive: size, toughness, skills in the O-zone: all the qualities that made Minnesota draft Pouliot fourth overall in 2005, one spot ahead of Carey Price.

But Benny has been a career underachiever. He is prone to brain cramps, and there are serious confidence issues. Pouliot has looked most comfortable out of the spotlight, playing with David Desharnais on the third line.

Placed in a pressure situation last night, Pouliot wilted and spent all but 45 seconds of the third period on the bench.

Does Martin stick with him on the Gomez line in Pittsburgh?

Does he promote Andrei Kostitsyn, as the coach did last night? Would that jeopardize the emerging chemistry between AK46 and Lars Eller, who was the Canadiens’ best forward in his St. Louis homecoming?

Ryan White with Gomez and Brian Gionta?

Nigel Dawes?

It’s not like there are a lot of LW options.

But RW, C and D weren’t great in St. Louis, either.

And Mike Cammalleri is pointless on the road in 2011.

Let’s see what happens in Pittsburgh.

•  •  •

Guest Comment from PeterD:

What I saw tonight was a team that still has their collective heads in Montreal worried about MaxPac, and not focussed on the current game.  This needs to be addressed tomorrow by the coaching staff and team leaders in the room.

They never played with the heart and desire that was evident in the previous 5 wins, and understandably so after what they witnessed in the game on Tuesday night when Max took the horrific assault into the stanchion.  But as Max would probably say, that is in the past and the team needs to get refocussed on the next game.  Unless the emotions of the players on the team are addressed and dealt with they will not bounce back right away.

My prescription is for Coach Martin to bring in some Post Traumatic Stress de-briefers to sit with the team in lieu of their next practice…what these players saw and experienced on Tuesday was a horrific incident within feet of their bench to one of their team mates…the sound alone was enough to have turned stomachs…This incident followed by the NHL’s lack of action would be enough to make any young player question what might be their own fate if they go near the boards or into the corners in a game…what sort of assurance do they have that their safety is in the least way important and protected in this league.  But I don’t want to go there with this post…what I think the players need is some post traumatic stress councelling to help them deal with their sense of violation and the violence done within inches of their faces to one of their own team/family member.

I did like Eller again tonight…he seemed to put on a show, but the supporting cast was not there for the team to get the 2 points.  But I feel bad for Pouliot.  Obviously he is not Patches and to expect him to be Patches is unfair to both players.  Patches is a true Power Forward and for some reason the chemistry with Gio and Gomez works.  Pouliot seems to be more of a finesse player and it seems to work with DD and White et al.  But Patches and Pouliot are obviously not interchangable parts.

So it would seem Martin and company will have to go back to the drawing board for a combination that works until Patches returns to take his place on that line.  But for now, lets put AK46 back with Moen and Eller…we all know that does work, and while we are at it, re-unite DD, Pouliot and White….again we all know that works.  Pleks, Halpern and Cammi will start to click once Cammi regains his timing and stamina…so maybe we can look to Hamilton and give Dawes a spin for a few days.



  1. sidhu says:

    It was my second

  2. Ian Cobb says:

    You have to watch this 3 min clip—Chara


  3. _Habsoloutly_ says:

    Sounds like a good show. Last time I was at the NS casino was to see Jeff Healey play.  Won some money at the blackjack table afterwards to. 

  4. cmac12357 says:

    Tks, thought I saw Palushaj on LW in pre-season & so was confused.  Looks like Dawes it is then, as I assume Boyd is not in the picture given how he was handled when he was up.

  5. punkster says:

    The whole thing is a travesty and the league is in full coverup mode. Then we have writers like Steve Simmons looking like shills for the league. First his comment on OTR last night that Chara was skating backwards and second with this Toronto Sun article today 



    There’s a scramble going on that will hopefully end in the ouster of the existing management team, including Bettman.


  6. HabsFanInVictoria says:

    Winning a game at the NHL level is tough as it is.  It’s not easy to focus and bounce back from the kind of even they witnessed.  It sort of takes the fun out the game and really makes it feel like a job.

    I’m hoping that it last night doesn’t turn into a trend and the boys can eventually rally around it.  My guess is it will take a few weeks before we see that.

  7. Derek says:

    gotta move halpern off top line. I know he scored last game, but who is JM kidding. Pleks and cammy arent scoring with him there.

    Pleks – Cammi – Kostitsyn

    Gomez – Gio – White

    DD – Pouliot – Eller

    Pyatt – Moen – Halpern

    White may not be flashy or bury the puck, but he’ll definitly make some room. If that doesnt work, throw eller or DD on the wing and see what results.

    Thank god there’s no worry about the D or G.

  8. Barts says:

    What would it hurt to give Dawes a shot? He’s sitting in the A racking up goals, and although I know there’s some question about his fitness, he’s definitely a harder worker than Pouliot. Worth a try in my estimation.

  9. Habitoban says:

    57 had a poor game… as did 14 and 13 and just about every other number. And didn’t I see a nice pass from 57 to Gio in front of the net go right between his legs. People have been throwing Benny under the bus all season, so why should today be any different. The comments that Benny is not Max are spot on. He is a different type of player and a coach should recognize that and work with his strengths. Benny does best when he has a banger on his line a la Darche or White. As far as looking lost on the Gomez line, join the parade.

  10. Shiloh says:

    Agreed. Sometimes a call-up plays as if his career depends on it (and it often does) and it gives some juice to the line-up. Dawes has been putting up some numbers this year – why not give him a shot?

  11. baruch says:

    I think the idea of bringing Nigel Daws in isn’t bad.  He’s a seasoned vet, yet some fresh blood in the room. He’s also big.

    It is hard to get enthusiastic in the season again.  Everything seems tainted by what happened.  But hockey has been becoming more dangerous every year, not just because of Bettman’s engineering.  The profeesionalism of sport has its benefits and risks, but generally, the combination of professionalism and big money, is poisoning the artistry of most sport, not just money.  The CFL is just a step lower on the chain, but much more real.

    The ‘professionalism’ is turning NHL players into lethal cyborgs, players are getting severely injured by pucks fired by these new sticks (seemingly much faster than before) also why is it suddenly the case that so many people are getting cut by stick blades? Are they especially sharp? the skates are super sharp, the players are super sized, all kinds of injuries are now commonplace.

    And since when is it legitimate hockey to try to decimate a player to send a message to the other team. A team losing 4-0 car really legitimately try to win the game by purposefully injuring the most talented members of the other team?  Is this hockey?

    pretty disorganized thoughts as I deal with my own post-traumatic stress after having watched the game on Saturday…



  12. Cape Breton says:

    I just don’t understand what Scot Gomez is thinking most times. He’ll skate beautifully like Henri Richard used to when coming up ice with the puck, then he’ll hit the opposition’s blueline and promptly give it away on either a dumb-ass pass or a pathetic shot at the net. Like, what is this guy’s purpose?

  13. punkster says:

    Big? He’s 5’9″.


  14. DearyLeary says:

    Well, he’s big for our team haha

  15. jew4jah says:

    chara = חרה

  16. New says:

    That was the first game I have missed watching somehow this year. Indifferent? I suppose. Bettman’s smirking face, and the last couple days thinking about the whole thing has sort of soured me on the NHL game for a bit. I am sure I’ll get interested again. I guess.

  17. Mr.Hazard says:

    I find it so sad and disappointing that Cammy sucks on the road. I mean… he’s supposed to be a sniper, he’s paid $5-ish million a year to do it, and he only really delivers on home ice…

  18. punkster says:

    No, he’s not. He’s well under the average size of the team. He may be a good player, though if he was that good he’d be here by now, but he’s not “big” by any measure.


  19. ricardamundo says:

    I agree but I’d even go so far as to say he hasn’t even really delivered on home ice. He’s been mailing it in lately. Elsewhere on HIO someone else mentioned that he’s turning away from the play now, avoiding the check and just waving his stick at the opponent. Pretty lazy. Hope he gets going soon. We’re gonna need him now more than ever.

  20. nick says:

    Buddy of mine came across this earlier today… I forgot about this…

    Apparently it’s the three strikes and THEN your suspended rule for Chara.



  21. Derek says:

    no news on Darche. Palushaj isnt ready yet. And hes a RW.

    Best callups for offensive roles now are Dawes, Plaushaj and Boyd. Both Palushaj and Boyd have 15 goals each, with boyd playing 20 less games.

    AKA, we need to restock our farm team next year.

  22. cmac12357 says:

    Any word on Darche?  Has Palushaj (spelling???) been showing anything in Hamilton?

  23. Timo says:

    I wasn’t indifferent to the result. I wanted Habs to win that one for Max. They HAD to win it for Max. Man… it’s just disappointing that they simply decided to let their emotions (presumably) get the best of them and just mail it in. That wasn’t right.

  24. RetroMikey says:

    For once, after a loss I will not be negative on the team’s performance.

    IMO, it is so hard to play after what Pacioretty has endured and focus on the game played last night.

    Perhaps, this team will be more united and perform higher than expected from me and others.

    GO HABS GO! 


    Say NO to goon Hockey!


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

  25. Timo says:

    no argument there

  26. Timo says:

    Delivers on home ice is also an overstatement… His season is not far off from being as bad as Gomer’s

  27. jew4jah says:

    the plot sickens



    chara = חרה

  28. showey47 says:
    From the thornton/sedin article.”Murphy said the stanchion in Montreal caused Pacioretty’s injury, not the Bruin pushing the Canadien towards the partition.” So,did the stanchion find its way onto the playing surface and maxpac ran into it,or sorry “leaned and jumped into it” as chara says? Can’t believe how f’in stupid bettman/campbell/murphy are. Do those idiots think that we are that naive to buy that garbage?

  29. baruch says:

    oops must have meant ‘big personality’.

  30. _Habsoloutly_ says:

    Lurch is a gutless coward.  Look what he does when he has to fight someone who is actually big enough and a good enough fighter to take him.  He grabs him and tries to wrestle him to the ice before he takes a punch.  Gutless.  Just like the other gutless puke uncle fester (Lucic) who is really careful to pick his spots.


  31. 1010 says:

    I don’t comment too much on here about whose coming up or whose going down or whatever, but I really think this Dawes guy is worth a shot at this point. I know on a team like this that replacing a 6’2″ guy with a 5’9″ doesn’t sound good but any time I’ve seen him in the past he has played tough.


    GO HABS…

  32. nick says:

    Thats a little like saying the boards are to blame for this hit…


    I mean… had it happened anywhere else on the ice, Campbell probably would have been alright… That is the argument their using isn’t it?

  33. Daves a mess69 says:

    Sooo..Zdeno Chara claims he did’nt know which players were on the ice prior to the hit heard round the NHL. Reeeally?! A D-man earning $7.5 mil. a year was’nt aware who he was defending against in the final 15 seconds of a period?! Reeeally!

    Clearly Chara takes us for a bunch of fools! As if fans of hockey don’t know that when Ovechkin is on the ice, you don’t want your third pairing of defencemen lined up against him. Top D-men are paid top dollars to play against the best players, as their ice time suggest. For Chara to assert otherwise is a complete an utter lie. I wonder if he will be as forthcoming when questioned by the police?

  34. showey47 says:

    Yup, a defenceman who’s job is to play against other teams top 2 lines every night wasn’t aware who was on the ice. Every time he opens his mouth he just makes himself look more and more of a dimwit.

  35. StevieRay says:

    Change of pace ..off to see Eric Burdon and the Animals tonite at the NS Casino ..Deja Vu …

  36. Montrealer2 says:

    seasons over ,let’s sink to the bottom of the pool & blame everything on the chara hit..Yikes Excuses are for Mediocre hockey teams with small feet,…well if the shoe/skate fits………lol

  37. showey47 says:

    Wow,just wow. I say our summit game next season should be the bruins first game in montreal. How much of a “riot”would that be?

  38. HotHabs says:

    I think most will agree there was no life the Habs’ game last night.  They mailed it in.  They didn’t show up.  Call it what you want.

    But, how is it that we agree, Mr. Boone, that the team collectively was distracted and sucked and at the same time Pouliot becomes the scapegoat?  This L wasn’t on Benny.  We know he has a different skillset than MaxPac, but he doesn’t deserve to be hung out to dry when his whole team rolled over.

    Some have expressed their concerns about our small forwards and slow, old D, again after a loss.  But, those same concerns fell silent during most of that 5 game win streak.  Mtl did not lose last night because of those reasons –  W’s in Boston and Tampa and Vancouver prove otherwise.   The sad truth is we need Pacioretty who won’t be returning anytime soon, and nobody can repace him right now.  Therein lies JM & PG’s biggest immediate challenge: find a suitable linemate that won’t disrupt some of the other lines’ chemistry so they can roll 4 lines with confidence.

    I was rather disinterested in the game, as were many other fans.  Let it go and move on.  Let’s hope the boys get their heads back on straight and focus on the goals ahead of them.


    PS – Chara on the warpath again with another dangerous hit from behind last night. His opponent must’ve decided to dive head-first into the end boards…


  39. ricardamundo says:

    1. Agreed

    2. Agreed

    3. Agreed

    4. Agreed

    5. Maybe this issue has finally galvanized public opinion beyond the “talking heads” so that maybe the league will respond (probably with minor tweaking only though). As long as its headed by Bettman with Campbell and Murphy riding shotgun, nothing much will change. They do have to go. Both Toronto papers have the story on their front pages this morning … 3 days after the incident. Despite some of the over the top rhetoric from both sides of the issue, it seems to have legs.

  40. habs4evr says:

    1. Bettman is arrogant – what kind of businessman would tell a major sponsor (Air Canada) to hit the road, even if he is thinking that.  Arrogance in the face of criticism shows fear, incomprehension and incompetence. His contract should never have been renewed, and he has never measured up to the commisioner’s job.  Roger Goodell’s handling of head injuries in the NFL is an example of what Bettman needs to do.  Set up an independent commission to study, collect input and make recommendations; show that you care and are paying heed to a problem or the perception of a problem; and take action to show you are handling the concerns or at least have given it thoughtful and full consideration. Blowing off every critic is not the skill we need in a leader. He does not have what is takes to handle this problem and protect the brand.

    2. In all the talk by other NHL players. coaches, officials, past and present, some who are now talking heads, about how this is just a rough game and that Chara did nothing wrong – what is being blatantly forgotten is that it was an illegal hit that caused serious injury.  There should be an automatic supplemental penalty – min. 2 games. Period. Reckless acts causing serious injury need deterence.  If toss the puck opver the boards gets an auto. 2mins – why should serious injuries (especially the head) from an illegal playing have a similar consequence? Why is intent or good character relevant to a head injury from an illegal hit?

    3, The league needs to clean up its image. What parent wants their kids to watch a hit like that or 100+ mins of brawling with blood on the ice for the sake of retribution?  Its good if the sport wants to cater to the goons in pubs – but the future of the sport is at stake.  Its time to elevate the image. 

    4. Geoff Molson has the leverage of a storied brand behind him – it has pumped a lot of money (the Mtl fans’ money) into the NHL – use that leverage and let’s clean up and deter reckless conduct on the ice. If the NHL does not police this – the courts will.

  41. Chorske says:

    Hey- you know I am always giving you aa hard time about how full of it? 😉

    So I can admit when I am off. Not only will I admit that White pounded the snot out of Boychuk, I also ended up keeping my promise and buying a round of Bushmills for Berkshire, Propwash, and JD (I think Punkster desisted by appreciated the sentiment) because White ended up playing more than 2 minutes.

    That said- all that NAG grit in the form of Mara and White didn’t stop Chara from breaking one of our guy’s neck. So I’m not sure where that leaves us.

  42. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    some real issues:

    Halpern does not work with Cam/Plek & Pouliot does not work with Gio/GOM…

    lets not waste 10 games figuring this out, its a fact, act NOW.

    my opinion is to move WHITE with GIO/GOM and AK back with PLEk/CAM….AK doesn’t need explaination, as for WHITE, this kid will deliver, he has good speed and good hands, he takes his time and looks to make a play, and for certain he will give 110% every shift, he also provides excellent grit and policing for gio/gom and will do alot of dirty work in the corner and in front of the net… and guess what, he wont complain.

    anyway thats my plug for WHITE… bigger issues happening in the world today…

    Wednesday March, 9th, 2011 – the day NHL Hockey “officially” died

  43. JF says:

    The loss of Pacioretty may have crippled this team.  Last night went pretty much the way I thought it would after the trauma of Tuesday night, but the gaping hole left by Pacioretty’s injury was very evident and will be all but impossible to fill.  We simply have no one with his skill, strength, and explosive acceleration who can do what he did.  Pouliot clearly is not the answer, although this seems to be more a problem of confidence than of skill.  He looked good when he started playing with Gomez and Gionta last year, but this has not been repeated.  If he plays on that line next game with the same results, JM will have to find another solution.  I would not break up Lars Eller and Andrei Kostitsyn, which, as I see it, leaves only Mathieu Darche and Nigel Dawes as possibilities. Darche does not have Pacioretty’s talent, but he does drive to the net and can sometimes make things happen. He was reported to be skating the other day, so should be back soon.  What about Dawes?  He’s very strong, and I can quite well see him crashing the net.  I understand he would have to clear waivers, but would this still be the case in the playoffs, or could we call him up?

    Kudos to Joe Thornton and Henrik Sedin for speaking up against the NHL’s ruling on Chara.  

  44. Mats Naslund says:

    For a ZipCode: Use 02143. That was mine when I lived in Boston.

  45. Captain aHab says:

    Posted this yesterday:

    Well boys and girls, here’s your chance to let NHL sponsors know how you feel and ask them to follow Air Canada’s lead. I don’t have emails for all of them and some of the emails I have are likely not to the best person but it’s the best I could do.


    You’ll have to put your address on the address line, and pick a zip code like 90210 or whatever as it only takes US addresses. HIO member L.A. Loyalist suggests using his zip code 90036 – about a mile from 90210 :-)


  46. RiverviewCanadien says:

    Good blog Boone. The team did not look like their mind was on the game. This whole Chara mess probably had an awful lot to do with that. But who really knows.

  47. Ian Cobb says:

    All of our boy’s heads were some place else last night, as was all the fans heads. They just mailed that one in. But I think we have seen the last of B. Pouliot playing for J. Martin.

    On to Pittsburgh Sat. afternoon where we might see Nigel Dawes in our line up.

  48. StevieRay says:

    I agree on my boy Benny..I’ve been a big supporter of him and second guessing JM’s treatment of him . He did not look good last nite ..I thiink he’s kind of a fragile dude ..and maybe ..just maybe after seening the Pacs attack….he might be thinking this game is not for him ….I hope not but he sure did some dumb things out there ..

  49. SlovakHab says:

    Count me among those absolutely disinterested in the last game and the result. First time that I’m not even checking out the highlights or reading beyond the first paragraph..

    I am not sure I can force myself to watch NHL this season any more.

    One more thought I wanted to share with all of you, guys.. I read through some Slovak online media articles and comments and I think I am going to puke. I never could imagine we were so uneducated and nationalistic. Every single commenter thinks that the only problem was the glass put in the wrong place and most of them don’t even understand why would Chara get even 2 minutes for that.


    Get well, Max.

    Screw you, Bettman, Campbell and the rest of NHL officials.

  50. geo_habsgo says:

    Good post by Peter D. I think it is times like this that the team could use one of Carbo’s notorious “lets go bowling exercises”. The team needs to center itself again and regain their composure. What I saw last night was a team that was not really committing to their checks and not skating at their capacity. Thats a sign of more than a little fear and a lack of trying by the team. They are shaken up. I know I wouldn’t be able to get myself ready to play in just two hours. I think a couple days away from the rink to relax and maybe get to talk to Patches and hear how well he is doing will do wonders for team confidence and morale. We know that this team can do it they are just a little shellshocked right now.

    Also, I was thinking about the game that Price played last night. He definitely kept his team in the game but did anyone feel like he wasn’t himself either? He made some key saves but I feel like he wasn’t as concentrated as he usually is later. The difference with Price and the other players is that he has oodles of natural elite-level talent that he can rely on sometimes without too much trying. This team will get back on track. One lost game after five wins is nothing to fret over.

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