About last night …

There is no disgrace in losing to the hottest team in hockey – which is what the Flyers are at this stage of the season.

Phildaelphia ended the winning streak of its cross-state rival on Tuesday night, then beat the Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

They’re a good team, a bona-fide Cup contender if they get decent goaltending.

Sergei Bobrovsky was several notches above decent last night.

He faced a bombardment of 41 shots. The Flyers’ defence blocked another 22, and the Canadiens had 21 misses.

As I wrote in Quick Hits, that’s a lot of puck possesion against a good hockey team. And if four demonstrable errors hadn’t led to Philadelhia goals … well, who knows?

This is turning into an interesting rivalry, which will resume at the Wells Gargo Center on Jan. 25. Given their recent playoff history and the number of fast, skill ful players on both sides, the Canadiens and Flyers play up-tempo, entertaining hockey. And it was refreshingly free of Philadelphia’s patented thuggery last night.

A contest of skill came down to a W by the team that had, last night at least, the better goaltender and best skater on the ice.

That would be Jeff Carter: a goal, two assists, seven shots of goal. Carter’s line, with James van Riemsdyk and Nikolai Zherdev, was easily the visitors’ best on a night when the Canadiens controlled habitual nemeses Daniel Brière, Mike Richard, Scott Hartnell and, until his late insurance goal, Claude Giroux.

 

The Canadiens had two effective lines – and that, for me, was the most encouraging aspect of the game.

Trailing 2-0 in a dead and despondent Bell Centre, Jacques Martin juggled his top line 15 minutes into the second period. Benoit Pouliot replaced Travis Moen with Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri, and the line spent an entire shift in the Philadelphia zone.

Then the Scott-Gomez-Brian Gionta-Max Pacioretty line exerted similar dominance, and Chris Pronger took Philadelphia’s first penalty of the game.

(Imagine waiting almost 37 minutes for a power play against a team that averages 15 PiM per game?)

When Braydon Coburn joined Pronger in the box, Philadelphia was deproived of its two best Dmen. P.K. Subban fired a laser past Bobrovsky, the crowd went bersek and the Canadiens were back in the game.

Thirty-one games into the season, the Canadiens may have finally found their Top Six forwards. Benny was a force on the Pleks line, and Max-Pac complemented his countrymen on the new All-American line.

I hope Martin sticks with those combinations against the Bruins tonight.

It’s an early-season must-win for the Canadiens. Boston is two points back in the Northeast, with two games in hand.

If the Bs win tonight, the Canadiens will be riding four straight losses into their pre-Christmas road trip.

But as my learned colleague, Patrick V. Hickey, pointed out last night, last season’s team had lost five in a row when it hit the road in late December. The Canadiens reeled off wins on Long Island and in Atlanta, Carolina and Toronto.

For a team that made the playoffs by a single point, those December wins were huge.

Maybe history will repeat itself. But just to be on the safe side, a win tonight would be nice.

•  •  •

As Annakin Slayd posted on Facebook last night, the “We’re Fine Without Markov” period is officially over.

Granted, they didn’t get the puck support  they needed from forwards, but the Canadiens D had a rough night.

Hal Gill looked conspicuously slow against the flying Philadelphians. Jaro Spacek pinched too deep – late in a 3-3 game – on the winning goal. Alexandre Picard looked jittery.

And P.K. was P.K. High risk, high reward. The kid electrifies the Bell Centre and gives his coach acid reflux.

It’s part of a maturation process that’s going to turn Subban into a very good and maybe great defenceman. But getting there from here will be an adventure.

I think we’ve seen the last of P.K. in the pressbox. His speed, puck-moving skill and instincts in the O-zone are too valuable, especially with Markov out all season.

It might be an idea to sub in Yannick Weber for Picard against Boston tonight.

•  •  •

Lars Eller played 6:17.

If his father went for a beer, he may have missed his first glimpses of his son as an NHLer.

Olaf Eller probably was in his seat when Larry was sent out on the PK in a 3-3 game.

I ranted about it in Quick Hits, and I still can’t fathom Martin’s thinking there. The kid had played all of seven shifts to that point.

How do you have an ice-cold rookie centre out in a crucial situation during a 3-3 game?

For a coach that’s been great this season, that’s a head-scratcher.

 

65 Comments

  1. HardHabits says:

    Cornflakes meet piss.

  2. ricardamundo says:

    Man, Dutchie … now there’s a memory! He’d stand up there behind the reds (in the old Forum) with his trumpet and exhort the fans to get behind the team. It was great … none of this non-stop music during every quiet moment at the game. You could hear stuff during the stoppages and fans hollered without the mindless prompts from the clock to “make some noise” … we made lots of noise without that. And then one day the management gave old Dutchie to boot. Sad.

    But thanks for the great memory. By the way, the Loyola teams of the pre-Concordia day were the Warriors and “Warriors on the Warpath” makes more sense than Habs on the Warpath … I wonder if Dutchie was  a Loyola grad?

  3. SPATS says:

    Sorry, not alumni, just a fan since Bobby Rousseau gave me a trophy at our Brossard Hockey Banquet back in 69… OOH AAH – HABS ON THE WARPATH comes from Dutchie who used to yell it (among others) at home games.

  4. habs001 says:

    the season has been very good so far…this team still needs better talent to be an elite team… we seem to forget that there are many very average talented players on the team so what the team has done so far you have to give them a great deal of credit… because we are not an elite team i still dont understand why many posters are so concerned that we finish very high in the standings…as long as we make the playoffs the playoff match ups for the most part are meaningless…right now we would be playing tampa…if we were one spot higher atlanta or first boston…or one spot lower the rangers…it would not be a suprise based on the team now that we beat any of these teams but it would not be a shock if we lost to them…

  5. ricardamundo says:

    Good points all.

    About the OOH AAH … you wouldn’t be a Loyola alumni would you? We used to chant that at Warriors games … OOH AAH – Warriors on the Warpath! I’m goin’ back a ways here … early 70s.

  6. TripleX says:

    In a place where it is almost impossible for him to excel.  The fourth line courtesy of the brilliant JM.  The Count who sucks the confidence and skill out of young players.

     

    ‘Cogito ergo doleo’

  7. SPATS says:

    I was there last night. This was my first game at the bell and my first game since we won the cup in 93. I was remarking how slow I thought the game was until Carter blew by our D (picard?) His speed from the outside, while protecting the puck and waiting out Carey was very impressive. I didn’t see anybody in his league on our team.

    Despite that tough goal late in the first, and the tough clear by Hammer in the 2nd, we had them where we wanted them late in the 3rd. We never quit. Tough non calls, phantom calls against and bad breaks didn’t phase les boys. I’m really liking what I saw, it was like a playoff game minus outstanding goaltending. Carey could’ve won this one for us, but he certainly didn’t get the D suport he needed to make it easier on him. PK made as many goofups as he did excite us.

    I was most impressed at our bounce back after giving up a tough goal on more than one occasion.

    Being an optimist, I chalk this one up to one we could’ve and should’ve been able to put away, especially after Gio brought the house down. But, then the refs decided our fate for us. We were buzzing about how we were going to go home happy until Pleks was sent off for 2 minutes to feel shame. After PK gift wrapped his clear to Richards (of all people!) Giroux showed why he was untouchable at the trade deadline last year. Game over.

    This Philly hater was won over by the better team last night. They capitalized on our mistakes the way we did last year in our magical run. We may have been outcoached, but we were not outplayed. They got more favorable calls and better bounces for sure. They are playing terrific hockey, and we are right there with them. This one was a character builder for sure. We should be able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and be a better team for it. Starting tonite. Go Habs Go.

    Ian, you missed a dandy!

    OOH AAH – HABS ON THE WARPATH!

  8. TripleX says:

    With regards to the bonehead move to put out a cold young player in a crucial situation, with failure a big possibility.  JM did the same thing to SK last season and when SK dropped the ball the “fans” on HIO were all over SK.  I said at the time it was the fault of JM putting a player who had sat on the bench most of the game in that kind of situation.

     

    ‘Cogito ergo doleo’

  9. SeriousFan09 says:

    I don’t think both brothers have both played well at once in about 3 years now.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  10. Hammer says:

    Where is AK 46? Did he also move to Nashville?

  11. Captain aHab says:

    That’s great so why is it again that JM did NOT banish Gomez to the fourth line when he was playing nothing but soft perimeter hockey for 20 odd games at the start of the year? Oh I see different consequences for different players…..

    And nevermind the fact that AK was playing great when his line was broken up to try to get Gomez going.

  12. joeybarrie says:

    The ONLY problem on this team is missing Markov and another top 6 player. We need to make a move for a top defenseman and another impact forward. Pouliot played great on the top line last night, and I like MaxPac. But we need to be able to roll 2 great lines and a strong 3rd. Thats what we are missing to compete every night with the top teams.

    Try to remember though. At the beginning on the season people were saying we would barely make the playoffs. We can compete THIS year. We have a good mix of youth and vets, and most of our impact vets are not too old. But in a few years they will be.

    We will see what this team is made of tonight. But in the end I don’t think we can get to the 3rd round or better in the playoffs without addressing these 2 holes. 2 top teams in 2 nights…

    Also Price had a weak game. He didn’t make any big errors, but last night he didn’t keep us in it. It gonna happen again, the kid cannot be the best for 70 games straight. It was looking great when our guys were pressing to come back and bailing him out after he bailed them out again and again. But our young kids crapped the bed, and it happens. This is how they are gonna learn.

    Still a 3 game losing streak at the same time Pitts has a 2 game and Wash has a 7 game losing streak. We could have really pushed ourselves to the top of the East table with a few games to spare… It leaves me frustrated and unhappy.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  13. ctony says:

    If these are you enlightened opinions, don’t bother responding or posting at all.  

    Calling Eller a good, young player who is learning and making contributions is not hating, it’s right.  Ask around. He’s is not nor has he been one of our best forwards for the past 10 games.  No stats – goals, assists, hits, faceoff performance, +/- suggests anything different.  More advanced stats even show JM putting him up against weaker competition (which is appropriate for a younger player) and giving him more time in the offensive zone than other players.  

    Wake the ef up.

     

     

     

     

  14. Arrow77 says:

    I agree about the double standards; it bothers me too! I thought a big part of O’Byrne’s problems was that Martin wasn’t treating him fairly and his play in Colorado, at least so far, seems to prove it. Kostitsyn wasn’t playing well but there’s no reason he should be singled out.

    As for P.K., I love the guy but he’s been playing horribly lately. We lost 4 in a row with him in the line-up and won 3 without him. Not an accident. His mistakes have given goals to the opposition and made us lose games. As much as he didn’t look like a rookie during the playoff last year and early this season, as much as he look too green right now. I don’t think he’s part of our top-6 d-men right now.

  15. G-Man says:

    Martin isn’t a fan of “perimeter” hockey that AK has fallen back into- always taking the path of least resistance. And, I ‘m sorry, but, veterans have earned their spots over the years while the young players still need a lot of fine-tuning. Pleks has the odd game where he is off, but AK has weeks where he forgets what makes him successful.

    The message he is sending is, “Learn from your mistakes; do not repeat them over and over and over.” Imagine, a coach that has consequences for players who don’t get it. Who would have thought it?

  16. joeybarrie says:

    It’s probably one of those things where JM sees a certain aspect of his game and decided to give the kid a chance on the PK. Maybe (since Pleks was in the box and Pyatt was out) he felt the kid was the best way to go. I disagree, but then again no one will give me any money to coach a NHL team. Maybe it was a mistake, maybe there were reasons and he had no choice. In the end I couldnt understand why the kid was out there. But he was, and he is a good hockey player

    At some point they are gonna screw up. No way to help him move forward without trying him out in all situations. But it really hurt last night. That being said, it could have been Markov there and they probably would have scored. It was a good play.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  17. spos080808 says:

    If Cammalleri played with Darche/Moen on a line do you think his numbers would be good?

    How about if Gio played with Boyd/Halpern?

    Yah thought so.

    Toodles.

  18. spos080808 says:

    You clearly have not watched any of the last 10 games.

    Eller was playing GREAT! He is playing with grinders and is still possessing the puck, shedding defenders, finding the seams with passes etc. The point totals mean NOTHING! He is not playing with Gio or Cammalleri. If he was he would have had a ton of points based on how he was playing.

    Its hysterical you only look at stat total etc.

    I guess a player cannot have a great game unless he scores a goal huh. Please buddy.

    I love when clueless Habs “fans” like yourself speak.

    HaHa, funny as I write this I notice that it is you TONY, the biggest hater this side of Timo. If I knew I was responding to you I would not have even bothered.

    Keep hating you clueless hater.

  19. ctony says:

    What are you smoking… 

    Patches dominated in the AHL. Price dominated.  PK dominated.  Eller had 57 points in 70 games in the AHL.

    Best forward in the last 10 games???  Plah-leeese…. 2G-3A, 10 shots averaging about 12 minutes.  Not even in the top 6 for the last 10 games and probably about 9th among forwards this year.   He has top 6 NHL potential.  He’s not developing it here with grinders and limited minutes.  Pyatt, Boyd, White (when he’ back could eat his minutes).  

  20. bobinsask says:

    Well Martin seems to have finally got Gomez going… at the expense of just about everyone else on the team.  Don’t be misled by the 41 shots, Montreal wasn’t in this game.  It is easy to jump on the anti-PK bandwagon right now.  All the journalists are doing it because they have adopted this herd mentality.  On the first goal, Gomez let two guys skate right past him… but not a word was mentioned.

    I am so sick of the double standards that exist under the Martin regime.  He has literally chased good talent out of Montreal.  For all the “success” Montreal has enjoyed this year, the team is sitting two points out of 8th spot despite a favourable schedule in terms of opposing talent and home ice advantage at the beginning of the year.

    What happened to A Kost.  He is the third leading scorer on the team, second in hits and has been a force for most of the year.  When he stumbles a bit, he is welcomed to the fourth line and his PP time disappears completely.  When Gomez stumbles, he is given more PP time to improve his “confidence”.

    The Pleks, Cammalleri, Kostitsyn line was working beautifully.  Sure they were going to have some off games but what kind of message is Martin sending.

     

     

  21. bobinsask says:

    Well Martin seems to have finally got Gomez going… at the expense of just about everyone else on the team.  Don’t be misled by the 41 shots, Montreal wasn’t in this game.  It is easy to jump on the anti-PK bandwagon right now.  All the journalists are doing it because they have adopted this herd mentality.  On the first goal, Gomez let two guys skate right past him… but not a word was mentioned.

    I am so sick of the double standards that exist under the Martin regime.  He has literally chased good talent out of Montreal.  For all the “success” Montreal has enjoyed this year, the team is sitting two points out of 8th spot despite a favourable schedule in terms of opposing talent and home ice advantage at the beginning of the year.

    What happened to A Kost.  He is the third leading scorer on the team, second in hits and has been a force for most of the year.  When he stumbles a bit, he is welcomed to the fourth line and his PP time disappears completely.  When Gomez stumbles, he is given more PP time to improve his “confidence”.

    The Pleks, Cammalleri, Kostitsyn line was working beautifully.  Sure they were going to have some off games but what kind of message is Martin sending.

     

     

  22. spos080808 says:

    Eller already had a very good season in the AHL where he honed his skill. Going against these players does nothing for him right now. Just like there was no need for Tyler Seguin to go back to juniors this season. The only thing left for Eller is to get used to playing the NHL game at the NHL level v. NHL players.

    And look who he is playing with. If he was for example, in Gomez’s spot playing with Gionta for 10 games do you think he would be doing good.

    Before this last game, Eller was probably the best forward for the team in the last 10 games. He looks NHL ready.

    Hamilton will do nothing for him at this point in his career.

  23. matrags says:

    Finally, Lars Eller came to us at a big price , Six minutes doesnt cut it . Play him  or send him to Hamilton to hone his skill. I know it is business but a lousy six minutes with his father in the stands . Man have a heart .

  24. tony d says:

    agreed, he just happened to be on the ice at the time but those last 2 goals were the result of D blunders.

  25. spos080808 says:

    Boone, why do you keep bringing up Eller being on the PK when it was 3-3. It was not even close to his fault why the Flyers scored. He was not the Dman who jumped into the rush. He was not the Dman who tried clearing the puck on the ice right up the middle.

  26. matrags says:

    great game except the result. I have said it before and I will say it again.No team can get away with losing a norris cabiler d men for a whole season.The hole on d shows up eventuallly. I think Markovs loss is becomming more evident with every passing game. Our defence was directly implicated in four of those goals. You watched the game so I will spare you the details. Markov is a quarterback , skilled ,poised under pressure he directed the team ,defensivily,in  transition and on attack. Subban is a great prospect with tremendous up side prone to rookie mistakes. He is not Markov. The remaining d  are slow stay at home defencemen and when they over commit they are exposed.We  We need to try and fill the void left by Markov by acquiring a vetern d men with a reasonable factsimily of Markovs skills. Is there someone out there to fill that bill. Finally , if Webber is a prospect then play him , dont do what they did to Obyrne , he has to play on a regular basis at this level  for his confidence , developement , and to show what hes got .


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