About last night …

PKMarkov

Two months of the NHL season down, four to go.
So in the wake of that delightfully entertaining conquest of the wretched Leafs, what kind of hockey team do we have here?
The numbers suggest – dare we even dream it? – a team that began November in a fire-the-coach funk is entering December as a Christmas a contender.

As December begins, your Montreal Canadiens are third in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.

Through 27 games, the goaltending tandem of Carey Price and Peter Budaj has allowed an average of 2.00 goals per – second in the league only to Boston’s 1.96.

If, as my friend Patrick V. Hickey was saying on the TSN 690 postgame show, defence wins championships, the Canadiens are lookin’ awfully good.

Price is playing like a Vezina Trophy candidate. Budaj might be the best backup in the league.

Those two guys enjoying a bromance moment in the photo? P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov are among the league’s elite defence pairings.

The return of Alexei Emelin (the Canadiens are 5-1-1 in games he’s played) paired with steady-but-not-spectacular Josh Gorges gives the Canadiens a respectable 3-4.

And how about the depth on D? Raphael Diaz, who was playing in excess of 20 minutes when the season began, has dropped to the third pairing but is contributing smart, quality ice time. Douglas Murray, making his first start since taking on John Scott in Buffalo, tied P.K. for the team lead in hits against Toronto with three and led both teams with five blocked shots.

Yeah, the big Swede is slower than global warming. But Murray, a Cornell grad, plays within his limitations. He’s a crease-clearing monster and is part of a penalty-kill that has zoomed up to fifth in the league, just a tick behind Boston’s.

The power-play, quarterbacked by Markov and Subban as though they were Brady and Manning, is third in the league. The Canadiens’ combination of PP success (24.0) and PK efficiency (85.3) percentages is 109.3 – topped only by Pittsburgh (25.3 and 85.2).

Even-strength scoring is an issue. The Canadiens are 21st in the league, tied with Minnesota.

That stat should improve, however, with the Brendan Gallagher-sparked resurgence of David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty.

It may also be reasonable to expect increased scoring from Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. They’ve been bolstered by the addition of Daniel Brière, who contributed a solid 12:24 against Toronto.

The line that isn’t scoring continued its futility against the Leafs. But Lars Eller assisted on Pacioretty’s shorty and went 10-7 on faceoffs. Rene Bourque returned to the lineup on Eller’s right wing and had five shots on goal, seconbd only to Pacioretty’s ridiculous 10 SoG.

Which brings us to Alex Galchenyuk. After taking an utterly pointless boarding penalty in the second period, Galchenyuk spent the final 20 minutes of the game sitting beside George Parros. Neither of them left the bench until the final siren brought a victory skate.

Was Therrien being a tad harsh on a 19-year-old? Penalties happen.

But Galchenyuk has been in a funk since his buddy Gallagher left the line. And as the Canadiens got their injured players back and climbed up the standings after November began with four straight losses, they became a team on which everyone is expected to pull their weight.

There are standards. And Galchenyuk fell short of them against Toronto.

I’m predicting a bounce-back game for him against New Jersey Monday night.

Galchenyuk is the total package: size, speed, vision, great hands  and high hockey IQ. He’s also had the character-building experience of coming back from a serious knee injury in junior hockey.

The kid is mentally tough. He’ll survive a third-period benching.

IHis fellow spectator, Parros, played five shifts, 3:25 of ToI. Parros wasn’t on for any goals-against and he fought Colton Orr.

I expect to see either Ryan White or Michaël Bournival back in the lineup against the Devils.

The Canadiens find themselves with a surplus of healthy forwards, and the buzz around town has Marc Bergevin thinking about a trade. While their recent performances indicate the Canadiens are for real and the goals are starting to come,  the team could still use a Top 6 forward who can score.

A couple names to contemplate between snaps of the NFL games on Sunday:

Evander Kane is wearing out his welcome in Winnipeg.

Nail Yakupov played with Galchenyuk in Sarnia.

I wouldn’t include Max Pacioretty in a package for either one of them. But maybe Bergevin can conjure up a Christmas present for us.

• Driving home and listening to postgame talk on the radio, someone – I don’t remeber if it was the English or French station – said P.K. Subban is the most talented Canadien since Guy Lafleur.

Discuss.

658 Comments

  1. CHicoHab says:

    Dec.5. Bruins in town. A) Close game low scoring. B) Blowout with lotsa scraps. C) One of our guys gets mangled and no suspension.

  2. neumann103 says:

    “Lyndon Slewidge is great.”

    He is that former cop who sings the anthem in Ottawa?

    I hadn’t noticed that the definition of great had been changed to “terrible”.

    The whole category of anthem singers is inherently crappy. Yes, no one will sound good in a difficult room that you can never practice for in a meaningful way since it would behave totally differently with 20,000 bodies in it. I am sure the challenges of singing under such circumstances scare away lots of decent singers who realize it is a fools errand, leaving it largely the province of …. well… fools. Which explains the presence of Rene Rancourt.

    But after Rene Rancourt, there is no one as bad as cop boy. In fact I can imagine Rene Rancourt actually making a go of it singing Dean Martin ditties in a Holiday Inn lounge off Route 9 in Brookline in front of a group of plumbing contractors and their wives from Cleveland in town for Flushfair 2013. But Officer Sewage’s half octave range and pitch from hell I can’t imagine tolerating him even under those circumstances.

    “Et le but!”

  3. AssInTOheartInTheForum says:

    Ok, something has been eating at me for a while.

    Why does the NHL players’ code say it’s fine for a defenceman to hammer a goal scorer well after the puck is in the net, but if Patches gives a guy like Chara a soft push in the back after scoring or does a little swash buckler routine, that is grounds for revenge.

    • Bash says:

      Because the code is about “might makes right”. Canadian (North American) hockey is about eliminating skill players with intimidation and or injury as delivered by a less than skilled “good Canadian (NA) kid”.

      Not much has changed since 1972; when confronted by a more skilful team we slashed their star player (broken ankle). The perpetrator was of course the iconic toothless, hardworking, rink rat with a penchant for stick work.

      “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” (anon)

    • nek25plus says:

      Here, here…dumped after each goal in Buffalo…therefore we should be able to beat the crap out of three sabres!

  4. Propwash says:

    Some banter from me and a friend who’s a leaf fan…

    I posted on Facebook, a picture of my son waving a Habs foam finger saying “He knows who’s the best team in the NHL”

    Buddy- “Pfft give him a Leafs foam finger too and then we’ll talk.”

    Me- “Pfft the only person who deserves to flaunt a Leafs foam finger is Miley Cyrus.”

    Buddy- “Ohhhhhhhhh! Lol.”

    ____________________
    DOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!

  5. CH Marshall says:

    I don’t get this about MT. We’re winning, but is it necessary to bench Galchenyuk?

  6. Bill says:

    Dunboyne, Francophones laugh at me whenever I say je m’en fou!

  7. commandant says:

    Evander Kane “arrested” in New York City.
    http://lastwordonsports.com/2013/11/30/evander-kane-pretends-to-be-arrested-in-new-york/

    Our new Podcast…. Tape-to-Tape
    http://lastwordonsports.com/2013/12/01/tape-to-tape-podcast-the-debut-episode/

    Go Habs Go!
    Your 2013 NHL Draft Headquarters, Now Open.
    http://lastwordonsports.com/

  8. NoTinFoilCups says:

    We’re still woefully short in the grit department to make a deep playoff run. The only acquisition being talked about here that could come at a reasonable price and improve the team where it’s needed is Steve Ott. Bourque is expendable and perhaps Diaz if one of the kids in Hamilton is ready to replace him. Preferably Beaulieu for second wave PP.
    Kane/Yakupov would not improve this team. Too much would have to go back in return.

  9. HabFab says:

    Starting tomorrow, 11 games in 20 days. Six are home and five away includes the Bruins, Coyotes, Blues and Kings. Going to be a challenge.

  10. habs-fan-84 says:

    classy in Ottawa

  11. habs-fan-84 says:

    Lyndon Slewidge is great.

  12. HabFab says:

    Connor Crisp had another two goals today. On a tear with 6 goals in the last 6 games.

  13. aHabGrowsInBrooklyn says:

    Having more goals for than against wins games. Winning more games wins championships.

    The grass isn’t greener, although it may be a different shade.

    I’m loving ALL of the 13/14 Habs; they play like a team, and they’re making their fans proud by being a classy group, standing up for one another, and putting the team’s needs above their own.

    (No thanks to acquiring: Michael Cammalleri, Evander Kane, Nazem Kadri, or any number of talented döüchëbägs.)

  14. 24 Cups says:

    Price to start against the Flames; Pacioretty, Gionta ready to go.

  15. 24 Cups says:

    Trixie Norton has died at the ripe old age of 90.

    Time stops for no one and moves on unaware.

  16. matt jordan says:

    One thing that makes me happy is the slow death of Hockey night in Toront……………..er I mean Canada. I get that some people see it as a staple in Canada, but not for me. The Leafs coast to coast EVERY Saturday night is more than aggravating and I look forward to the days of NO regional blackouts and not being force fed the Leafs.

    The incredibly biased coverage is too much to handle, I’m pretty sure those guys drop the suits and throw on Leaf jerseys during the game.

    Hopefully Rogers will have a unbiased program in the future, and the opportunity to watch every team play instead of non-stop Toronto Maple Leaf analysis every weekend.

  17. frontenac1 says:

    Big game tonight. Alfie return to Ottawa. Good luck Alfie! Saludos!

  18. frontenac1 says:

    Burly!!! Ladies Curling on TSN now! Life is good, Hurry Hard amigo.

  19. ooder says:

    what’s nuts, is that although habs have collected 11/12 possible points, we barely moved in the standings.. it’s ridiculously difficult to move up

  20. mrhabby says:

    Habs have allowed 57 goals tied with st.Louis. Boston and the avs have allowed less…Habs scored 73 so habs need to improve in that area if possible.

  21. twilighthours says:

    Now, I’m no ophthalmologist, but unless mine eyes did deceive me, I saw Daniel Carcillo playing on a line with Kopitar and Williams last night.

    Carcillo. With Kopitar and Williams.

  22. twilighthours says:

    Another comment from a leaf fan, this time from the sun:

    “I can’t stand Pacioretty (and being a Leaf fan, how can you?), but if the Leafs take anything from that game, it should be how he played. They can get mad about the celebration, but maybe they should watch some video clips of Pacioretty’s game – driving to the net, staying with the puck (how do you get 4 shots on goal on 1 breakaway???), winning battles, outworking the Leafs. It drove me crazy to watch that game, but the work ethic of this guy, gallagher, and others was the difference. The Leafs looked like they could care less about this game.”

  23. rogieshan says:

    If Ottawa continues its fall from contention, then one player who may be available for a reasonable price is Milan Michalek (cap hit: about 3 mil left on this final year of his contract). Giving up Bournival may be all that is required.

  24. Haberoooo13 says:

    wow…if anyone is watching Bears and Vikings…talk about a bad penalty

    Lafleur coming out rather gingerly…

  25. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Sorry for being a countercultural party-pooper but not all Leafs fans are idiots:

    “Between periods Kypreos was calling on Orr to fight Parros, in a effort to somehow pep up the Leafs. Why not urge the Leafs to start going into the corners, beating teams to the puck, and playing with some pride for a change. What a twit. Just one Leaf needs to start playing with some heart like Brendan Gallagher, and the rest would follow.”

    From the Comments section of the T Star’s game report (Cox).

    • HabFab says:

      Just noticed on Stubb’s tweeter that Parros’ wife called BS on Orr trying to protect George’s head when they went to the ice.

      She thinks we are all idiots :)

    • frontenac1 says:

      Hola Mike! Que Passe? You should have heard Grapes giving it to Orr for declining Parros invitation! Then he was begging for his job on National TV! Hilarious. But why do I like the guy? I’m troubled. Saludos.

    • Gerry H says:

      Hey, Mike.

      I saw Kypreos interviewed between the second and third periods and was amazed to see him call for Phaneuf to drop the gloves in the third to get his team going. Apart from the completely counter-intuitive aspect of that proposition, what blew me away is that he had just finished calling Dion the best Leaf defenseman by far.

      OK, Sparky. So s’plain to me how putting your best Dman in the box for five min makes sense when you’re down by two with 20 minutes to go.

      It’s just possible that I will miss Glen Healey when Rogers takes over.

      • frontenac1 says:

        Kipper is a bit of a Dolt, but he is not Anti-Habs amigos. You have to trust me on this. He did a pretty good job covering the Q in the Mem Cup 2yrs ago.He was also the only”analyst” on Sportsnet to call the Habs going deep last year.

      • Dunboyne Mike says:

        Hi Gerry.
        Leafs D is so bad, Phaneuf probably is their best “by far”. Posters are arguing about that right now at the T Star.
        Kypreos — gees, I’m always quoting him about concussion, said he got out of the game because he didn’t want to be playing with his baby girl, throw her up in the air and then forget and not catch her. Grimly captures the issue.
        You sure it was Phaneuf he wanted to see fight? Perhaps he has dim but warm fuzzy memories of the Lecavalier-Iginla captains’ tilt in the Flames-Bolts finals…. Your counter-point trumps him entirely.

    • Reflektor says:

      Good for the one and probably only Tranna fan for saying something remotely decent. The majority of them are complete morons (based on their disgusting online comments) that have no clue about the game and are classless and clueless, maybe even more than most Bruins fans, imagine that. The attempt at word filth and pure hatred spewed by these so-called fans is like the spectacle of a car crash. You kinda wonder how the crash happened, you think about who might be seriously injured (in the head) but you gawk at the gore. Need more proof? Head over to the ‘respected’, ‘national’, Globe and Mail. The proverbial idiots are running the lemming asylum and even funnier, there’s some self-labelled Habs fans that suck up to the Leafers sickening arguments and they make true Canadiens fans look like lost sheep. Sad but true.

  26. HabFab says:

    A look at the Salary Cap going up over the life of the CBA. I believe like Lyle that we will see a +$70 million cap next season.
    http://spectorshockey.net/blog/get-ready-for-a-100-million-nhl-salary-cap/

    Some facts and figures over the new TV deals;
    – US market went from $70 ML to $205 ML per season.
    – Europe Cable went from $0 to $10 ML per season
    – Canadian market going from $190 ML to $433 ML per season

    = $388 ML increase per year or almost $6.5 ML in Salary Cap per Team

    – Hockey Related Revenue was $3.3 BL pre-lock out.
    – Forbes estimated HRR for last years shorted season to be $2.6 BL
    – next year could see $4 BL

    • Gerry H says:

      But the 2014-15 cap is based on 2013-14 revenues, no? The new TV deal in Canada doesn’t kick in for next year’s cap, if that’s the case.

      • HabFab says:

        Yes and no.
        The players are entitled to 50% of HRR each year.
        The HRR from this season is used to project the Salary Cap for the next.
        The players share of the Canadian TV deal increases will be around $4 ML per team.
        The Salary Cap escrow is used to protect not only the teams from fluctuations but also the players ie: they can and have received in excess of 100% of their salary in the past.
        So with that much money being there, would not be surprised to see the NHL and NHLPA agree to project most of it into next years Cap. Otherwise all salaries next season will probably come in at 105%


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