About last night …

PriceMinn

Your Montreal Canadiens are idle for a couple day, but it’s safe to predict their next game will be a contemporary variation on a classic movie:
Mr. Bourque Doesn’t Go To Washington.
It took 22 games to do it, but Michel Therrien finally came up with four forward lines that provided energy, entertainment and, oh yeah, SIX goals.
It was fun to watch.
And for perhaps the first time this season, the Canadiens looked like they were enjoying themselves on Bell Centre ice.

Missing the party, due to a lower-body injury, was Rene Bourque. His absence obliged Therrien to tinker further with forward lines he had created at the team’s Monday practice.

Daniel Brière took Bourque’s spot on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. Ryan White came out of the pressbox to join Travis Moen and rookie Michaël Bournival on the fourth line.

Brière scored, off a three-way passing play with Gionta and Plekanec.

Bournival got his sixth, with Moen drawing an assist.

Regardless of Bourque’s health, if he makes the team flight to D.C. on Thursday I can’t see him dressing against the Capitals Friday night.

Why would Therrien mess with a lineup that produced the most goals this team has scored since last March 2 … when they lot 7-6 to visiting Pittsburgh in overtime?

The coach certainly won’t be changing his other two lines.

Brandon Prust’s forechecking and general orneriness opened up some ice for Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk. And the rugged winger drew an assist on Galchenyuk’s goal, which was the conversion of yet another perfect pass by Andrei Markov.

Brendan Gallagher had an even greater energizing effect on his linemates. The sophomore winger drew an assist on only one of Max Pacioretty’s three goals, but Gallagher’s buzzsaw intensity was a crucial element in getting Pacioretty and David Desharnais off the schneid, out of their funk and into an O-zone rhythm reminiscent of their best games over the previous two seasons.

Max-Pac, whose natural hat trick was the product of 10 shots on goal, got the game’s First Star. But save some kudos for the tireless Gallagher and for the much-maligned DD – whipping boy of Canadiens fans ranging from radio blowhards to Montreal’s new mayor …  and including, I must admit, at least one Habs blogger.

Bolstered by Gallagher and Pacioretty, Desharnais played with a confidence that deserted him during a Gomez-like slump that extended back to last season. One game does not a revival make, but DD & Co. looked terrific against the Minnesota Mild, who were outhit 21-15 by a Canadiens team that never outhits anyone.

A dozen Canadiens registered points on the scoresheet, and 11 skaters contributed to the Canadiens’ 23 blocked shots.

Playing 18 minutes, Alexei Emelin blocked five shots and aded a team-leading five hits.

With his team enjoying a rare laugher, P.K. Subban played a mere 23:48. He picked up two assists, briging P.K.’s total to 16, which is tops among NHL defenceman.

Subban finished plus-3 to lead the Canadiens in that department. His Norris Trophy rival, Minnesota’s Ryan Suter, played almost 27 minutes and was minus-3 on the game.

It’s a challenge to be a minus when your team wins 6-2, but the line of Eller, Galchenyuk and Prust pulled it off. They were on the ice for Niederreiter’s even-strength goal, and each member of the – chose your acronym, PEG or LAB – line finished at minus-1.

Carey Price?

Customarily brilliant. Easy winner of his goaltending duel with Josh Harding – and royally pissed when Minnesota got a second goal with one second left in Garbage Time.

It was scored by Dany Heatley.

He’s their Rene Bourque.

So shall we plan the Cup parade?

Um, maybe not just yet.

Let’s see how the Canadiens fare in Washington and back home on Saturday against Pittsburgh.

But it was important to start a tough week with a good performance – the more so since November had been miserable for the Canadiens.

While Pacioretty enjoyed a career night, everyone in a red jersey contributed.

And the guy behind the bench – the subject of dire speculation, even this early in the season – had a very good night.

•  •  •

If you’re near the Bell Centre on Wednesday, pop into the Canadiens’ annual blood donor clinic.

It’s a good cause, and you’ll meet some players and/or execs and/or team legends.

Clinic runs from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Access at main entrance at 1909, Canadiens-de-Montreal Ave., section 116.

 

 

266 Comments

  1. Bill says:

    Subban would be a great captain. His “reputation” is such crap. Every Minnesota player who got called for a penalty last night mouthed off at the ref: nobody cared. Subban says something, and it’s the apocalypse.

    He doesn’t get calls. When he’s fouled, they let it go. If he looks askance at someone, he’s in the box. This has to stop.

    • Cal says:

      What Bill said. ^^

      I’m believing he is being groomed for the position. I think Gio is a quiet leader, but I want a real star to be captain of the Habs. That means Gorges and all other wannabes get a miss for the C.

    • shiram says:

      I mentionned the Subban reputation thing, I meant that it seems to me the refs have it in for him, and he does sometimes try to sell calls. As the duty of the captain is to speak with the refs on behalf of the team, that could be an element that would figure in the selection of the C.

      Still think Max would make a great C.

    • Chris says:

      Subban has never been a captain at any level, and for good reason. At this point in his career, it really isn’t what he’s suited for.

      If it is a player vote, it won’t be Subban (Prust or Gorges would be the most likely candidates). If it is the coach that selects, it won’t be Subban…I think many of us believe that Subban is not Therrien’s favourite. If it is experience, it would be Markov (who doesn’t want it) or Plekanec (who I don’t think has a long-term future with the team).

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  3. Bill says:

    If Gionta has a decent season, he’s probably worth a late first or a second round pick at the deadline. Would you do it for a second round pick if the Habs are in a playoff position?

    And if you wouldn’t do it, would you re-sign him, or let him walk?

    If the Habs were in a playoff position, I would not trade him, and I would let him walk.

    • shiram says:

      Yup just what you said.

    • Hstands4Hockey says:

      I wouldn’t trade him in a playoff position, the east is wide open this year and anything can happen in the playoffs. Gio might not be a all-star first line guy, but he still has consistent production.

      I would offer him the same contract Briere got , 2 years, being fully prepared to let him sign elsewhere if he wants more money or longer term. I think a team might bite and give him 3-4 years which is likely what he’ll be seeking on a new contract.

      ——————————————————————–
      Rule #76: No Excuses, Play Like a Champion!
      @Hstands4Hockey

  4. bwoar says:

    The other big positive is the leadership on display by #67. In fact it’s my favorite thing about last night. The guy came out and spoke up, then answered for himself on the ice. That is real leadership right there.

    I’m convinced that the ‘future’ leaders are already with the team: Subban, Pacioretty, Prust. (And Carey Price, he’s the franchise right now.) Not sure who gets the C, but his initials are probably Pernell and Karl.

    Given that, and I know from a hockey perspective it may seem like a dumb move to some, but IMO it’s time to turnover both Gionta and Plekanec as soon as possible for younger assets. This can’t happen soon enough, as we’ve got youngsters still looking for more ice and room to add one more in trade.

    “thoroughbred”

    • shiram says:

      I’d see Max with the C before Subban.
      He fits in the image of a captain more so than Subban does.
      Calmer and does not have the reputation Subban has.

    • Cal says:

      Losing Gionta, sure. Pleks still competes and is on against other teams’ #1 centers. The youngsters can go up against them, but won’t get the results Pleks gets right now. Move Pleks a couple years down the road, when one of today’s younger players is ready for that role.

  5. DipsyDoodler says:

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    “One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch ”

    http://espnfc.com/news/story/_/id/1621984/sweden-zlatan-ibrahimovic-world-cup-me?cc=5901

  6. habs001 says:

    Solid efforts by most of the players..All you can ask for is effort…
    Now Plecks has to start producing ..right now his passing is poor and he looks lost on offense….He is just whipping the puck around with no plan…

    • PrimeTime says:

      Trade the bum!!! I don’t think he is quite the weak link yet. We still have others to pick on. Subban was horrible last night…..turnovers too high and looks a little lost in the system.

      • Mattyleg says:

        I saw it more that he was experiencing a surfeit of energy.
        He is usually the most energetic person on the ice, and when he saw everyone else pushing harder, he felt he needed to push harder too, and it made him erratic and overenthusiastic, like a kid who stutters because he can’t express everything as fast as he is thinking them.

        He just needs to get used to not being the only one working hard, and he’ll settle down.

        Then again, maybe I’m totally wrong.

        —Hope Springs Eternal—

    • Mattyleg says:

      Ugh, I respectfully disagree.
      He always makes things happen, takes opportunistic shots, and makes extremely clever passes.
      Max was having a terrible time reading him for the past few games, but I like the Oldster Line of Pleks, Gio, and Bière. They are all thinking players, and will produce some very sweet plays, I predict.

      I do agree, however, that it’d be nice to see him start potting some goals, though.

      —Hope Springs Eternal—

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  8. Bill says:

    Price is 7th in save percentage and ninth in goals against among qualified goalies, and his record is 8-8-2. That’s a shame. Habs need to keep scoring some goals for this guy.

    Only three goalies have seen more shots than Price this year – Smith, Miller, and Pavelec – and Price has a way better save percentage than any of those guys.

    C’mon, Habs: support your goalie!

    • RAM_TOUGH says:

      Bill

      With goalies who have played 18 games & more Price is 4th in GAA & 3rd in SAV%

      Guts-Glory-Ram

    • Habsfan4 says:

      Let’s all be glad that Emmelin is back. His toughness and taking the body provokes the same in many of the Habs. Last night they won some battles, not, something they’ve been doing a lot of this year. They came out of their own end with speed and great passing. Maybe 3-4 passes before they hit the Red Line!!! Reminds me of the Habs of old. That’s the game very good teams play night after night. Questions is? Can they keep it up!!??

      • third generation haber says:

        If they had toughness throughout the line-up, players would be able to hit and attack the opposition crease with less fear because they’d know that their teammates would always have their backs.

        There’s just too many guys (softies) who need protection on this team.

        j.p. murray

        • Mattyleg says:

          Every team in the NHL wants toughness and skill throughout their lineup, but there are only so many players like that in the league.

          We are still at the end of Gainey’s experiment, and it’ll take a few years to build up our size and toughness. As MB pointed out, nobody wants to get rid of big, tough, skilled players, so you have to grow them yourself. Which is what we’re trying to do.

          —Hope Springs Eternal—

      • Mattyleg says:

        He was still a wee bit rusty, and made a few bad passes in our zone that resulted in chances for Minny, but other than that, it’s good to see his big presence back!

        —Hope Springs Eternal—

        • Bob_Sacamano says:

          True. Emelin shouldn´t be playing on the right with Gorges though. Emelin on the left, Gorges on the right makes a lot more sense. Emelin can actually pass the puck while Gorges only tries to get to the red line and dump it in.

    • PrimeTime says:

      We have Price and Eller. Blues have Halak. Not too bad for the Pricebot crowd of 2010. Good teams need good goalies but good goalies don’t make teams good…..just better!

    • Cal says:

      Price is earning his ticket to Sochi. Good on him.

  9. jeffhabfan says:

    Wow what a game the best game they have played all year.Do not score for a month then pot 6 hopefully they will score the next game and not use up all there goals in one night.We went from having 1 line all year to having 4 Last night.GO HABS GO.

  10. shiram says:

    A negative, but a small one.
    On Diaz, I like his play and think we need to hold on to him for a while longer, the reasons for his place on the team have been re-hashed alot on here already.

    But I have to say, for an offensive minded D, he needs to work on his shot accuracy.
    22 games, 20 shots and no goals, and his shot always seem to either hit the boards wide of the net or get blocked/deflected by the other team.

    • Eddie says:

      He’s just not that good. I like his work ethic, but he needs to be replaced by a bigger dman, mobile absolutely, who can bring a heavier shot, more accurate, and a stronger presence in the defensive zone.

    • Mattyleg says:

      He is playing scared for some reason.
      Doesn’t have the confidence he had last season.
      A lot of his shots this year are missing the net because he’s trying shot-passes, aka shots to be tipped in.
      He had a great laser before, and I don’t know why he’s hesistating every time he gets the puck this year.

      I don’t buy the ‘he’s not very good’ line.

      —Hope Springs Eternal—

    • third generation haber says:

      Diaz would shine on a big, tough team, but on the habs he’s the 3rd offensive d-man and rarely generates offense. As for physicality, he pretty much looks terrified against tough teams, so I can’t see why we should keep him long-term. Plus, Beaulieu and Tinordi, have higher ceilings than him.

      j.p. murray

  11. FlyAngler says:

    While Rene Bourque might seem to be a convenient scapegoat, the notion that somehow he is responsible for the Habs anemic offense before last night is beyond ridiculous. And as far as effort goes, he has shown up on a lot more nights than many of his teammates. Max, who I happen to like scored his 5th goal only last night- Bourque already had 5 and is a -3 to Bourque’s -1.

    Opposing teams are going to give plenty of attention to the DD, Max and Gally line since DD & Max are finally showing signs of life and Gallagher is a persistent threat. The Habs can ill afford to remove a forward from the lineup who is both a big body who drives to the net as well as someone who has decent hands.

    It makes a lot more sense to get Bourque back in the lineup as soon as possible and sit White or Moen so that Bourque can get some time with Eller and Galchenyuk or on the 4th line which I regard as less prudent and desirable. (Prust could be very effective on the 4th line with Bournival and Moen or White).

    On a positive note, competition among the forwards can only be a good thing, especially if they know that a seat in the press box is a real possibility if they don’t perform.

    “Elever le flambeau!…Raise the Torch!”

    • third generation haber says:

      I agree, Bourque is the least of our worries. He did score back to back 27 goal seasons with Calgary (his linemates then??), so I wonder what he could do if Galchenyuk were feeding him pucks.

      As always, if a hab forward is under-performing, u can just add Gallagher and stir.

      j.p. murray

      • FlyAngler says:

        Agreed J.P. and let’s not forget that he was one of the Habs best forwards in the series against the Sens last Spring. There are players, who for whatever reason play their best and perform when it really counts and as is always said, you build your roster for the playoffs and not the regular season which is why Michael Ryder has moved on for the 2nd time.

        “Elever le flambeau!…Raise the Torch!”

        • kalevine says:

          Ryder had a great playoff with Bruins on their cup run. But it took him a while to get going, and last year Habs were dispensed with quickly

          • FlyAngler says:

            “Great” is probably overstating it. He scored a big overtime goal in Montreal against the Habs but ultimately, the Bruins regarded him as soft and expendable and really did not make any effort to keep him on the roster after they won the Cup.

            “Elever le flambeau!…Raise the Torch!”

  12. Bill says:

    Agree on Price playing too much. I am sure this is what causes his play to trail off eventually.

    I know he’s young and strong, but he needs to be fresh for the real season. And obviously the Sochi thing … I actually hope he isn’t chosen, which is selfish of me as a Canadian.

  13. third generation haber says:

    Love to see us win at home, but I’m not buying it.

    We’re less the team that won the division last year and more the team that got bounced by the sens in the 1st round. But, certainly better than the lottery pick team of 2 years ago.

    As for Cammy, it’s his contract year!!! That’s why he’s actually doing something for the first time since the 2010 playoffs. He will be back to sucking as soon as his agent suckers someone into a long-term deal. MB, please don’t even think about signing this guy!!!

    Final thought; is it me or does our top offensive line always seem to include the Gallagher ingredient? Notice none of us, even skeptical pricks like me, have any trouble with him being undersized?

    j.p. murray

  14. Bill says:

    I get the thing about having four lines capable of scoring, and the need to get Briere going.

    But Bournival is fourth on the team in goals with six, and has done that with limited games and minutes.

    I realize that pace may not be sustainable, but I’d be trying to ride it a bit, y’know?

    Put Bournival in Briere’s spot, and we’ve probably got another rookie of the year candidate.

    • third generation haber says:

      On another team, he’d probably be in the early calder debate, but since we have to justify the bad contracts we’re carrying, Bournival has to sit on the bench. Six goals scored with his limited ice-time and line-mates is a modern day miracle.

      I’d love to see Leblanc and Bournival replace DD and Briere full-time.

      j.p. murray

    • bwoar says:

      It’s a question of having too many veterans. Without Briere, for instance, no problem. But MB had really played it safe this year with his signings, leaving no holes unfilled by veteran NHLers. Normally not a bad idea. I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted Bournival’s play based on his last year in Hamilton.

      Now the GM hs a good problem, he can trade a surplus vet. There is some urgency to do this, now that the injury bug has hopefully moved on. The ball’s in his court, we’ll see what he does with it.

      “thoroughbred”

      • Mattyleg says:

        I would prefer to have too many vets than too many rookies.
        Vets will get injured and replaced by rookies, while if a rookie gets injured or underperforms, we have nobody to step into the breach except very, very green types from the Dogs.

        —Hope Springs Eternal—

  15. Le Jadester says:

    Good Call Mr. Boone !

    Gallagher was the reason DD and Patches got the points

    Call me crazy…..but Gallagher should be considered for Sochi !

    Best fourth Liner winger in the country !!!!!

    Habs, OLE !


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