About last night …


Two games, four points.
A critical week for your Montreal Canadiens has produced two excellent wins over Minnesota and Washington.
These were the warm-up acts.
Now we get the main attraction.
And if the Canadiens play as well as they did against the Wild and Capitals, Pittsburgh’s saturday visit to the Bell Centre could be the Game of the Season … so far.

The Canadiens survived Alex Ovechkin in D.C.

The Great 8 scored both Washington goals – albeit neither a virtuoso effort. But Ovechkin sure put a lot of mustard on that ridiculously angled shot that got in between Peter Budaj’s legs. And when the final siren sounded, his stat line read five shots on goal, plus three that were blocked and four missing the net. That’s a lot of lumber on rubber – plus three hits … and a dumb penalty.

I’m betting Sidney Crosby won’t go to the box for roughing up Brian Gionta. The best player in the world will stay on the ice Saturday, as will Evgeni Malkin, who’s in the planet’s Top 10.

So no rest for the weary. The Canadiens are within a point of catching Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division, and the Leafs will play host to Ovechkin & Co. Saturday night. Maybe the Caps can come up with a decent road game, after losing to Pittsburgh and the Canadiens at home while surrendering seven unanswered goals over 79 minutes and 37 seconds.

It was at 19:37 of the first period that Ovechkin scored that ridiculous goal after the Canadiens played what TSN analyst Ray Ferraro called “19 1/2 perfect minutes.”

You would have expected it to inspire the Caps, who would then come out and dominate the second period, their fans in a frenzy.

It didn’t happen.

Playing textbook road-game hockey, the Canadiens outshot the home 14-3 in the second period. They took no penalties over the last 40 minutes of the game.

Discipline, balanced scoring from three lines and another superlative performance from Budaj – Those breakaway stops! Oh my!! – ensured that the early lead would stand up – despite a late-game push by the home team.

The commitment to team defence was exemplified by Michaël Bournival blocking John Carlson’s rockey with his right foot. Te rookie had to be helped to the room, and Bournival’s status is uncertain for the game against the Penguins.

George Parros is the only spare forward. But the Hamilton Bulldogs played in Montreal Friday night – and won 4-1 – so an emergency call-up is no problem. Gabriel Dumont, Patrick Holland, Mike Blunden … I bet Crosby is nervous already.

The win in Washington was a team effort, but some individuals merit mention:

• Budaj, of course. Is there a better backup goaltender in the league? And it’s a great situation, because no matter what Budaj does, Carey Price is indisputably Numero Uno.

• Josh Gorges led all Canadiens Dmen in time on ice, at 24:32. The future captain had had a night of 2s: two assists, plus-2, two hits, two blocked shots.

• Max Pacioretty had five shots on goal. As Arpon Basu of NHL.com tweeted, Max-Pac has 24 SoG in his last four games, 26 in his previous eight.

• David Desharnais continues his ascent from the depths of Montreal Hockey Hell. DD’s goal was his first in 26 games. He’s playing with confidence and making plays for linemates Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher. They are the current iteration of the team’s Number 1 line.

• P.K. Subban went right after Troy Brouwer when the rugged Caps forward took a run at Andrei Markov. I would have liked to hear more praise for that from P.K.’s coach.

• Alexei Emelin led the Canadiens with four hits. With Russia’s national team brass watching, Emelin bolstered his case to join Markov and that guy who plays for washington in Sochi.

• The old pros – Markov, Plekanec, Gionta and Moen – played smart, low-risk hockey against an explosive team that never could get fully untracked because the Canadiens all worked hard.

• The fourth line chipped in with quality minutes. That will be very important against Pittsburgh.

Fearless prediction: the Bell Centre will be rockin’.

•  •  •

For the first time in many seasons, I watched an English-language telecast of a Canadiens game.

I pick my spots: TSN, with Gord Miller on play-by-play and the incomparable Ray Ferraro offering analysis. Plus James Duthie and a good studio crew: Panger, Darren Dreger and Paul Maurice.

From beginning to end, when I switched over to RDS for L’Antichambre, the production was informative and entertaining.

Could be habit-forming.




  1. Jim Edson says:

    Boone, TSN could be habit forming ?
    Absolutely! Especially after next May!
    We bid adieu to HNIC: Stock Galley Cole Cherry and Smarmy Maclean!


  2. Tyhudg says:

    Wow…. 70-30 would take Murray over Boullion in the lineup? I cannot believe my eyes. I guess 70% of visitors to this site don’t actually watch the Habs play. Unbelievable, I am absolutely blown away that I just read that.

    • Jim Edson says:

      Not only watch the Habs play but have seen enough of Boullion play his crony card with MT !

      What does the Commissioner of the NHL do?

      In short, a league commissioner is the action man for the Board of Governors.

      They tell him what they want done and he works to make it happen through his subordinates while making sure that individual franchises play by the rules.

      ******** Translated if you haven’t won the Stanley Cup in 40 years your NHL team is becoming irrelevant in a sports mad city long behind MLB, NFL and NBA teams, you just tell the commissioner(who you gave a new contract at 7 plus million per) to make it happen and the rules are bent sufficiently to action the command.

  3. Propwash says:

    Does anyone have a link on how the current NHL point system works?


    • commandant says:


      “The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division. It will be possible, then, for one division to send five teams to the postseason while the other sends three.

      The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the fewest points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second fewest points.

      The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each series will play for berths in the conference championship series.

      The winners of the conference championships advance to the Stanley Cup Final.”

      Go Habs Go!
      Your 2013 NHL Draft Headquarters, Now Open.

  4. HabFab says:

    JT looks at how the Habs can help you with your weight;

  5. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    I hate to be the “glass-half” guy (or Timo) but watching a guy score his first goal after 26 games into a new 4 year contract is not a cause for celebration. It is nice that he is playing better but I will wait until I heap any praise on him. Here is the reality: he is still being out-scored by Bournival and Briere who are on the fourth line. People need to relax. I have been more excited seeing Briere start scoring because, unlike DD, he is a legitimate proven scorer (not a one-season wonder).

    As for the game last night, it was a good win but they almost blew it. They stopped playing in the third and Budaj saved them. They should have blown away Washington with all those chances they had in the second period. If they play like that tonight, they will lose. One more thing: “Markov…played smart, low-risk hockey”??? What game was Boone watching? How many times did he pinch in the third with a 2 goal lead? The reason PK has to play “better defensively” is because Markov pinches all the time. However, if the Norris-trophy/leading team scorer does anything wrong…he’s “weak defensively, not disciplined, blah blah blah etc.”. Give me a break…

    • Habspark says:

      Unless a record has been broken, I don’t think anyone ‘celebrates’ anything a quarter of the way through a season. DD is a member of our team and I am sure his team mates and others are happy for both him personally and the for the team that he is finding his feet, and deservedly so, he’s playing well. That’s not heaping praise, that’s giving credit where credit is due.

  6. Wintercount says:

    Boone, thanks for info on Breslin.

  7. Garbo says:

    The Great One wants PK on team Canada.


  8. Maritime Ronn says:

    Re Andrei Markov contract extension.

    He turns 35 in December.
    There is some pretty solid info out there that Markov wants (at least) 3 years/$15-$16.5M, or he’ll walk away and go the UFA route.
    He also wants a solid, or very favorable NTC for at least 2 years.
    His Plus + 9 leads all Habs Dmen.

    If you are GM Bergevin, what do you do… as you have some very important factors to consider.

    1) The Market:
    The Cap is reportedly moving up between $5M-$7M next year.

    The supposed Comparables:
    Just last summer, 39 year old Sergei Gonchar signed for 2 years/$10M.
    35 year old Marc Streit signed for 4 years/$21M.

    Markov’s Dollar/Term desires would easily be achieved on the open UFA market

    2) Who replaces Markov’s minutes and supreme on ice intelligence?

    To date, Markov is playing 25:07 ave. minutes per game and that puts him as the minutes leader for ALL Habs Dmen – then followed by PK (24:49) and Gorges (20:42)

    Broken down into segments:
    Even Strength minutes: 1st Pairing
    Power play minutes: 1st Paring
    Penalty Kill minutes: 2nd Pairing and could be 1st Pairing

    There is basically little to zero chance of replacing that on the UFA market, which means that would have to be replaced from within.

    From here, there is no one, or no combination that could fill that hole for at least 1 year, and most probably 2-3.

    Do the deal, GM Bergevin

    • Garbo says:

      Markov would easily get that on the open market. Given how he’s played this year, he’s definitely worth $5 million a year.

      The term on the other hand is what is concerning. I would go $10 million for 2 years without hesitation.

      • DDO_Habs_Fan says:

        The Markov situation will be tricky for Bergevin. Does he wait until the end of the year to sign him? The two-year 10 million deal is a no-brainer but he probably wants more. Does MB try to cut a deal before the trading deadline? If Markov wants too much does he then deal him as his value will be high? If he deals Markov, that will take tremendous guts because the easy thing to do will be to give him what he wants.

        • Maritime Ronn says:

          hi DDO

          A trade most likely would be to a contender and would only bring futures, meaning a +20th draft pick and some prospects down the road that may or may not work out
          The concern from here is how do the Habs replace those great minutes next year and the year after that?

    • on2ndthought says:

      nice analysis, M-Ronn! When I watch other teams now I often look at their prime players and think of how they’d get ripped here on HI/O (by some who will remain nameless). Letang made some brutal blunders last night, Chara, Lucic look almost clownish … SOMETIMES. Other times monstrous. I like our team, always have, always will.
      Oops! bit of rant, still; Good Work on Markie!

      “a cannonading drive”

      • Maritime Ronn says:

        hi 2nd

        Letang could not carry Subban’s duffle bag.

        You are so right.
        HIO is a shift/period/game ongoing analysis, and no other site I’ve read breaks down things as much as here.
        Perhaps the microscope doesn’t allow any Habs player to cheat….

        That said, this site is BY FAR the most ‘hockey knowledgable’ place bar none with some great and eclectic views and little to no nonsense.
        If in doubt, one just has to look at TSN or the 4 newspapers covering the Leafs…luckily for HIO, the Kindergarten participants stay there.

    • DipsyDoodler says:

      No brainer – give him the 3 years at $15M.

  9. commandant says:

    November NHL Draft Rankings and Write Ups (11-20)

    Go Habs Go!
    Your 2013 NHL Draft Headquarters, Now Open.

    • HabFab says:

      Nice work as usual Ben, but I have to wait for your next posting as we will be drafting 30th this year and he will be one of that group IMO.

      Interesting to note that Front’s boy is “undersized”….mmmh!

  10. Rossy says:

    Why does HIO create “lose-lose” polls like the one about which defenceman is better? Such polls only provide fuel to the idiots who love to rip and tear guys who are playing their hearts out for us, in roles they have no control over. Polls like that are as bad as mayor’s tweets. Let the coaches coach, the players play and the fans cheer.
    Go Habs Go!

  11. HabFab says:

    HabsWorld.net – With Hudon getting 5 points Friday, the #Habs have three prospects in the top-25 of @QMJHL scoring. (Reway 11th, Gregoire 17th, Hudon 21st).

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