About last night …

While it was great to get a W – and by shutout! – over the team’s playoff nemesis, let’s realize your Montreal Canadiens won the first battle of what is going to be a four-game regular-season war.

I hate the Philadelphia Flyers for their tradition of thuggishness, but there is a lot of talent on that hockey team.

We saw it through 40 minutes, and particularly in the second period, when the Flyers had a 20-8 shot advantage.

Philadelphia’s top nine forwards are better than the Canadiens’. That superiority was obvious over five playoff games last May, and we saw evidence of it again last night.

How does the better team on paper lose 3-0 on the ice?


In three games prior to visiting the Bell Centre, the Flyers had scored 18 goals. My rapidly-diminishing math skills tell me that’s an average of six per game.

Carey Price allowed six fewer than that average.



Late in the third period last night, I had a chat with my friend Eric Engels. He asked if I were as suprised as he by how spectacularly Price has begun the season.

I’m not.

Gratified? Yes.

Relieved? Definitely.

Surprised? No, because Price has excelled at every level of hockey he’s played.

Scouts are not blind. Pundits – at least the ones not blinded by pro-Halak bias – are not stupid.

Price is and always has been a great goaltender. He has a rare combination of size, quickness and athleticism.

That’s what knowledgeable hockey people were talking about when Price’s superior upside was cited as the rationale for keeping him and trading Jaro.

But critics were right when they pointed out the woods are full of the bodies of flamed-out pro athletes who had great upside. And not all of them played hockey in a tough town like Montreal.

After the ridiculous booing in the opening minutes of the first exhibition game, Price urged fans to “chill out.” And some knocked him for the perceived nonchalance of the remark.

Know what?

Chilling out is wise under almost any circumstances, because wisdom and resultant success are rarely achieved through overheated emotion.

Price’s body language through 17 starts has projected cucumber-cool confidence. Save for a few puckhandling gaffes – and he was a third defenceman clearing the biscuit against the Flyers – Price has not made a panicky play this season.

His cool extends beyond the final siren. After Brfian Gionta and Scott Gomez retrieved the puck from that idiot Chris Pronger, Price promptly flipped the souvenir to a kid in the stands.

Who needs it? There’ll be more.

The confidence has radiated out to his teammates. With or without Andrei Markov, the D has played superbly in front of Price: blocking shots, clearing rebounds, minimizing second chances and ensuring the galtender sees everything.

I don’t know how many 24-minute games he’s got left in those 36-year-old legs, but Roman Hamrlik was excellent again last night. He and fellow geezer Jaro Spacek (23 minutes) are a pretty good first pairing. Hal Gill and Josh Gorges (a team-high 7:43 on the PK) were customarily solid.

P.K. Subban played a shade under 16 crowd-pleasing minutes. And I thought his less-flamboyant partner, Alexandre Picard, handled the puck and made smart decisions like the veteran he is.

He only played 13 minutes, but Travis Moen was one of the better forwards. Moen skates, goes to the net, dished out four hits and was ready for action if the third-period goon show got out of hand.

Props to the officials for preventing the Flyers from playing all-out Philadelphia hockey over the last 20 minutes. And the Tom Kostopoulos Memorial Award for Taking a Few for the Team to Max Lapierre for dropping ’em with Powe, whose cowardly hit on Jeff Halpern deserves a suspension if Colin Campbell isn’t too discombobulated to do his job properly.

The best skater was, of course, Tomas Plekanec. Ho-hum: a goal, an assist, significant minutes on the PP and PK, speed that bedazzled the Flyers and a hesitation move that hypnotized Sergei Bobrovsky.

Is it wild homerism to suggest Pleks is the best two-way centre in the NHL?

As to the league’s best goaltender …

My man Engels suggested maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to bring Price into the NHL as early as the Canadiens did.

It hasn’t been easy or smooth getting from draft day to this season’s early glory. But Carey Price has played 170 regular-season and playoff games in the world’s most demanding – and, too frequently, least forgiving – hockey market. And the experience – combined with the maturity that has come to someone who’s still only 23 – has produced some gaudy numbers.

Click on the stats at nhl.com and Price’s name is atop the goaltender list: First in games started, tied for first in wins with Bobrovsky and Michal Neuvirth, second to Jonas Hiller in saves, second to Tim Thomas in shutouts, sixth (and rising) in GAA and save percentage.

When the season began, Carey Price was the NHL’s biggest question mark.

It’s still early, but we may have an answer.



  1. VancouverHab says:

    Hmm….-plausible, except Jaro got universal praise, so does Ovie and Mikko Koivu….

  2. Dintrox says:

    I pull a Burns too. The Pat Burns that stood on the bench and let the refs have it.

    December 4, 2009 – Elmer Lach’s jersey took its rightful place with the Rocket’s in the rafters.

  3. Dintrox says:


    December 4, 2009 – Elmer Lach’s jersey took its rightful place with the Rocket’s in the rafters.

  4. kempie says:

    I can’t be bothered yelling at the TV anymore. I’ve become so accustomed to watching the Habs getting jobbed that I just do the Pat Burns FML smile & headshake. But even I couldn’t believe that. I was waiting to see if it was going to be 4 minutes or 5 & a game, then they dropped the puck 5 on 5. WHAT? NOTHING? OMFG. Even if I hated the Habs, I’d have to say that this is absolutely suspension-worthy. 3-5 games easy. Back turned, vicious blindside elbow to the back of the head, removing the helmet and forcing the head into the glass, rendering Halpern unconscious, before he falls backwards, smashing his unprotected skull into the ice. This is acceptable? What a joke.

  5. SeriousFan09 says:

    I’m pretty sure of that, Good Canadian boys even if they’re cheap shot artists always get more praise than Europeans.


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

  6. Jbird says:

    Like if he was a ‘good kid from Saskatchewan’?  Agreed.  

  7. Jordio-oh says:

    The thing with Price is that he’s staying levelled on all fronts right now. When he plays poor, he knows it, but tells everyone to relax, and when he makes 40 saves and gets the first star, he skates out on the ice after the game and only gives a sheepish wave. If he wants to laugh and shrug his shoulders after a huge save, let him, he’s still a kid afterall and hockey is fun. But he also is learning to stay on an even keel, through the highs and lows.

  8. Philly-Poo says:

    HECK YES!!!

    Totally agree with you both.  I live in Vancouver, and last year, as well as this year, both my fantasy hockey team’s buddies were heckling me for drafting him… They tease me for drafting Pleks in a late round, and yet they go and draft Mason Raymond early on… Idiots… lol

  9. habs-hampton says:

    But how do you not call the hit on Halpern? Isn’t this the textbook “hit from behind”? Isn’t that what they show the refs on video as an example? The man is facing the boards (he didn’t turn in at the last second), and a  guy skates in, and drops his shoulder into his numbers! Why is that a hard call to make?

  10. dh says:

    It’s not like there was one hit though.  The flyers had so many dirty hits that it was difficult to keep track.  If the refs would call them, then teams like that would lose games. 


  11. andrewberkshire says:

    I have a feeling that if Plekanec was Canadian he would be getting all kinds of praise from every corner of the media.

  12. Jbird says:

    Without a doubt way ahead of them.  No one outside of MTL is seeming to notice how awesome he is playing. 

  13. habs-hampton says:

    He was just yammering on like Cherry. PK has to earn respect, blah, blah, blah.  Imagine, the Flyers talking about respect!

  14. dh says:

    What we need are officials that don’t close their eyes when a team like the Flyers play.

  15. DearyLeary says:

    Agreed on all counts.  Philly, despite the goon play, is a dangerous offensive team, and between keeping shots to the outside and good rebound control, there weren’t many of those 41 shots that actually looked dangerous.  Truth being, many of those shots were dangerous against goalies that aren’t playing close to perfect hockey. 

    I think a lot of people had reservations about handing Pricey the reins to this team, myself included.  I knew he had the talent, and I’ve been a booster for Price since he was drafted, won the Calder Cup, and eventually called up to the big show.  I was worried he wouldn’t be given the chance by the fans, despite the infinite patience and confidence displayed by the management and coaches. 

    He gew up a lot last year, and it appears he’s not going to give the chance to the Bell Center faithful to get angry, let alone worried. 

  16. habs-hampton says:

    I hear ya. It’s not like we can hope Campbell does something. Best case, Powe gets 2 games. What does that do for Halpern or the Habs? Where is the deterent? Chris Nilan, now there was a deterent. He’d score a goal, beat the crap out of Powe, and be around at the end to keep the rest of the Flyer F*****s in line!

  17. andrewberkshire says:

    I don’t know if Plekanec is better than Datsyuk, but he’s better than everyone else. His only real competition as a 2 way forward aside from Datsyuk is Kesler, and maybe Mikko Koivu. He’s miles ahead of both of them.

  18. joeybarrie says:

    Im sure Picard is capable of helping us out on defence while Markov is out, HOWEVER, he is NO WHERE near a replacement. WE HAD PK’s play when Markov wasn’t injured. I do not want us to simply PASS THE TIME while he is out. We need to compete at the highest possible level. It’s starting to look very gloomy for Markov’s season and we may need to replace him. AND NOT WITH PICARD. I am still hoping for a 4-6 week thing, but it does not look like it.

    As for you being worried about a replacement for Gomez, I don’t know what to say to that. I feel we should really be focusing on helping the part of our team that is lacking, not nonsense.

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

  19. Timo says:

    I hope we can get through this week without losing any more bodies. Ok, and I admit, we don’t really need an enforcer per se… They have become extinct in the new NHL. But we need a good. You know what I mean… we don’t need Jody Shelly… I mean, what has he done for the flyers or the Sharks? But we need a nutjob like Carcillo. Somebody to run and hurt people. Tooth for tooth, eye for an eye. Man, I still want blood after last 2 games. 

  20. kempie says:

    I’m fine with that. I’d love to be able to fly under the radar until the parade down Ste. Catherine. The more we are lowballed in the power rankings, excluded from AS ballots, ignored on SportsCentre, dissed by CBC and mocked by McGuire, the better it is for the CH. As soon as all those people start to realize and acknowledge the Hab’s awesomeness, teams will become better prepared and highly motivated to hang an L on us. It is possible, maybe even likely, that everyone will continue to underestimate this team until the 82nd game of the year, pointing to a soft schedule, a hot goalie, tired opponents etc. Let’s just keep our mouth shut and our noses clean while we rack up the Ws.

  21. andrewberkshire says:

    Picard just keeps on surprising me. I think he and Subban have very good chemistry. All game it seemed whenever Subban made a little mistake Picard was there for support.

  22. krob1000 says:

    The best part of Price’s game last night was his rebound control…..the shots from long range and through traffic this year so far have not been giving us fits because they have not been generating rebounds, which in turn lead to scrambling, which is what got us hemmed in so often last year.  Long shots,long rebounds, when our guys play the middle like they do we never won a race to any losse pucks and the process would repeat.  This year Price isn’t allowing that to happen and the D is doing a great job of letting Price see the shot …that combination along with Price all of the sudden turning into a Ryan Miller like sponge is the single biggest area of improvement defensively IMO.  The bread basket shots and even the lower ones right now are being controlled….not just saved….HUUUUUGE  DIFFERENCE.

  23. nick says:

    I was about to ask if this was before or after they had 3-4 guys goon him? Classy as ever…


  24. Jbird says:

    Canuck fans rival the leaf fans in blindly thinking there players are the best.  Had a polite argument with a Canuck fan at a New West bar last year about whether Willie Mitchell was one of the best D Men in the league.  He honestly laughed out loud when I suggested Markov was better.  That is very typical out here.

  25. kempie says:

    I wonder why. Could it be that it was the stupidest thing to be posted in days? Maybe because it was either an obvious troll job or just so riddled with stupidity that the mods found it unbearable. It’s not easy in here to stand out so convincingly from the run-of-the-mill morons. Your post elevated you to near-Tony status. Now just post the same thing every hour for a few days and you may catch up to the Hall of Famers. You can do it. You have potential.

  26. smiler2729 says:

    My apologies to ya then, I thought you were hinting at going into that Gomez for Iginla territory cuz too many want to swap our perceived crap for other teams’ perceived gold.

    I wasn’t taking a shot at you for the ‘buzz word’ thing, just the ‘buzz word’ itself.

  27. Bash says:

    I’ll do my best to avoid using “cool” buzz words so as not to offend the more literate posters. And certainly I would not want to appear unrealistic. The team is winning right!

    So let’s agree that the team needs some proactive adjustments. Letting things “unfold as they will” in some desiderata fantasy hardly seems like a successful business model.

    Laps could be traded. Desharnais is another possibility who might attract some interest. And of course draft picks are always on the table.

    I’m not advocating Gomez for Iginla silliness…


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

  28. Matt_in_TO says:

    I hear Richards was running his mouth about PK after the game, anyone have a link to what he said?


    – In Price We Trust

  29. somerslovesthehabs says:

    HIO removed my post

    so much for freedom of speech, WOW

    Sorry guys,

    Carey is God, Gauthier is a Genius, and there is absolutely no chance that Carey will crack at any point this year

    there, that’s better

    what a joke

  30. Thomas Le Fan says:

    Right on Mr. Boone! I couldn’t agree more. I think we can beat this Flyers team in a best of seven. If they can’t score on us, the shoes on the other foot, isn’t it? Go Habs!!!


    Oh and Powe? Live by the sword? Justice will be served somewhere along the line.   

  31. Bob Barker says:

    They tried scoring a goal, it wasn’t working. 


  32. cbass says:

    I think they’ll wait til the end of the month for the Friday game in Atlanta. They play the Sabres at home the following night. He’ll want to keep Carey fresh for the division rival.


  33. habs33 says:

    A year ago we were comparing where we were in relation to two years ago – before Gainey had blown the team up and reworked a new five-year plan.

    Now we’re two points out of first in the East and enjoying the view atop of the Northeast Division. Where were we last year at this time? We were 8-10-0 with 16pts – not the greatest of records but it was a new team and the word being tossed around was ‘gel’. Boone talked about the 20 game ‘gel’ phase to get a sense of the team. Well, someone broke out the Dippity Do because this year we’re 12-5-1 with 25 pts.

    My point? The W’s we’re racking up now are going to make the push for the playoffs that much easier. This is a team that many pundits and fans were on the fence about even making the playoffs. Now, I know it’s early, but each game that Price plays lights-out, that Pleks plays like the natural two way centre that he is, and that we get steady, shutdown D from our aging blueliners is a game we won’t have to scratch and claw to win in January, February, March and April.


  34. dh says:

    Agree. But what’s with the refs anyway? They seem to let the Flyers get away with a lot of BS just because that’s their style. There were quite a few hits that should have been called. A couple on Pleks, the one on Gorges.
    The one on Gionta should have a least been an interference call.

    I think that the Flyers have now surpassed the laffs as my most hated team.

  35. SeriousFan09 says:

    THN had Price at 5th in their top 10 Hart candidates in their last update, safe to say he’s going to get even  higher this time around.

    I don’t think a goalie is going to win the Hart though, voting media doesn’t seem interested in giving respect to the netminders, even ones having career years like Ryan Miller. It’s all about giving the Hart to the Art Ross winner because scoring title = MVP these days.


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

  36. Mike says:

    A few comments in no particular order:


    1) People comparing Pleks to Datszyuk are insane. Pleks does not have the same speed and dazzle of our detroit friend. Toews is a better comparison for Pleks. Hard work and ability to adapt.

    2) Price, what can we say… BOOM SHACK AND SAVE! Keep it up… And stay away from Alcohol. 1 thing I did notice last year… It was Saint Patricks day and I saw a few of the Habs downtown because it was a rare 2 days off for them. A few of the Habs were getting drunk (rly drunk) and hitting on girls. Price only had 1 beer… (still hitting on the girls tho… Can’t blame him)

    3) Hammerlik and Spacek have been playing rly well but they need to play less minutes as to not get drained by the end of the season. The question is… how do we distribute the minutes more? Gorges +Gill? Gill can not play those extra minutes… Subban Picard?  Do we trust Picard enough yet…

    4) MArkov…. We love you… Get well.. Heal… AND COME BACK…. The team is better with Markov and we should sign him. if he is healthy, for life.

    6) If Markov is out for the season.. then we will have 5+ million in a cap cushion. (Markov’s salary – the 18 games + the 1.5+ that we have now).  It will be interesting to see what we can do with it. MAB is not the answer, neither is weber. The biggest thing that comes out for this, is  its effect for the Leafs… Now they have another competitor that has cap space, but 1 that also has picks and prospoects.. What could the leafs offer that we couldn’t.. It sucks for them but also for every other team because it means they won’t do as well meaning bostons pick is getting better 🙁

    7) Subban… what can we say about you… We love you.. But please, for the love of g-d, don’t be the 1 to stand up for your teamsmates like that… We can’t afford for you to get hurt.. you are more valuable then them…

  37. The Juice says:

    Habs won the 1st period

    Habs won the 2nd period

    Habs won the 3rd period

    Nuff said.

    ps-Price is now 5th in GAA and Save %…

  38. oldrrty says:

    Strange but with all the talk of Carey’s play, his name has not come up when people talk of potential Hart candidates.

    I don’t care who wins as long as Toronto doesn’t!

  39. Ian Cobb says:

    The kid wants to play every night and will. The only time Auld gets to play, will be when there are back to back games. Me thinks!

  40. Clay4bc says:

    Look everyone – it’s Captain Hindsight!

    But to address your point, it certainly seems like he has matured.


    I had some hockey taglines, but I don’t know where the puck I put them.

  41. forskis says:

    Just wondering…when Price told fans to chill out after Preseason Game #1, many on here and in the media were convinced that it means Price had not matured and was still a brat.  Have we ever looked at it from the other way around?  Was it not a sign of maturity that Price did not let one bad preseason game get to him and is it not a sign of maturity that he knew it was only a preseason game and really did not matter?

    “I am guilty of using elipses…”

  42. smiler2729 says:

    You’re probably right that the Habs need ‘tweaks’ (one of those ‘cool’ buzz words in sports talk circles that are so lame along with calling a team’s home ‘a market’ and a team’s players ‘pieces’ but I ‘digress’) but don’t ya think Gauthier’s always looking like any GM should?

    Naming players you want traded for this ‘tweak’ is pretty presumptious and unrealistic, always the same suspects are offered away by you fantasy GMs not even considering there would be another GM to deal with who I’m gonna bet has absolutely no interest in, say, Jaro Spacek.

    Just chill, the Habs are winning, and things will unfold as they will…

  43. Irishhabsfan says:

     I’ve said it all along Carey will one day be one of the best, he has arrived.

     Congrats to Bob Gainey for promoting him to the club early, the dividends are starting to roll in.  

  44. Clay4bc says:

    LOL at “Boobe”.

    Freudian slip, or subtle dig?


    I had some hockey taglines, but I don’t know where the puck I put them.

  45. Ian Cobb says:

    The league better start protecting the players,
    if they are wanting a more finesse speed game, instead of the broad
    street bullies game. Other wise someone it going to take it upon
    himself and give a goon a two hand-er across the nose with the stick,
    at the risk of his career.

    I could sure see this happening if
    they don’t stop it now. The day of teams paying millions to carry these
    meat heads are suppose to be over. The league better get serious
    protecting players or there is going to be a serious incident. Mark my

  46. CanadienBoy says:

    Boone right on ,Gainey’s bet his credibility on Price and deserve credit as well i have say to my son and on this site Plak game is a lot like Zetterberg ,before the season i call for him to be in the top 20 without injuries may be top 10?

  47. Kooch7800 says:

    100% agree.  That was clearly a behind head shot. Ref was right beside him as well which makes it worse

  48. Kooch7800 says:

    I hope Halpern is ok. I really didn’t like that hit from Powe. I thought it was from behind.

    I agree with you that the habs need some sand paper guys. I thought Moen would be better at that than he is.  I like Moen but I thought he woudl be a more physical guy

    Schultz has not looked very good in the hammer so far but I think he will be fine.

    We will just bring back laraque (i can’t even say that with a straight face)

  49. RetroMikey says:

    Tooearly as Boobe says where our team is heading, long way to go for the season IMO.

    But I like what I see so far, but as I have said many times, we need to get bigger up front and another brusing physical DMan.

    But I can proudly showcase my Price Bulldogs bobblehead in my office with pride.

    Way to go boys!  Keep it up!  Prove me wrong!

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

  50. W35T5ID3 says:

    lol….haha…i was just looking for a response boonster….hehe…..Habs rule!

  51. Bash says:

    This team cannot beat the Flyers in a seven game series.

    Powe needed more than afew hugs from Laps after either of  the hits on Georges or Halpern. Either could have resulted in long term injury.  Powe is a relative lightweight on this Flyers team!

    Pleks took several dirty shots and again we had no one one to step up. What would have happned if our best player had been run from behind?

    We are brave, competitive, fast and disciplined. But we are not built for a league where goonery is still tolerated and where teams like Philly sign Jody Shelley to play the power play late in a lost game.

    Gauthier needs to move Laps, Spacek (and a pick). Replace them with a solid but nasty D  and a similar forward.  We don’t need to drop the gloves on every suspect hit. Nor do we need goons. But we have to inflict a little payback when it is called for. And aginst teams like Philadelphia it is called for.

    On the farm,Henry is too slow. White might take the forward spot. Schwartz is not ready. Conboy is just a pest. Bonneau is  not an NHL player.

    Come on Pierre! We have a good team. But we need these tweaks.



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

  52. Mike Boone says:

    Oh, stop it!

  53. W35T5ID3 says:

    Amen Mr. Cobb,I’ll smoke to that!

    ….btw …did ya’ll hear about the ” apparant ” lapierre choking hartnell thing?In a skirmish or some thing???Anywho…

    WE ROCK…


    ..and revenge is sweet.

    PLEX is da man.F —all them philly f—ckers…




    LOL sowwwyyy..i get a little hyper talking habs when we are woopin everyones ass!WHO’S NEXT?!!

  54. W35T5ID3 says:


  55. Ian Cobb says:

    I would like very much for one of our reporters
    to speak to Gauthier to find out how there was not even a call for the
    head shot on Halpern. And if there was going to be a review of that
    incident and the conduct of the Flyers coach and team by the league.

    this league is serious about cleaning up the game, then it is up to the
    media to ask the questions that keep the pressure on, please.

  56. habs33 says:

    I’d love to see that, but historically the media show the goalies no love when it comes time for voting. Are Stubbs, Hickey, Boone and Arpon Basu eligible voters? If so, we might have at least 4 guaranteed votes!


  57. nick says:

    If Brodeur can play 70-80 games a season… I don’t see why Price can’t.

  58. joeybarrie says:

    It is a SHAME, that given the option between scoring a goal and gooning it up, they chose to goon it up. Pathetic really. HOWEVER, it shows the difference between our two teams. I have no doubt, given the same situation, we would have preferred to get a goal to get our pride back, or whatever little of it you can get by one goal.

    They deserved to be shut out. Price deserved the shut out. Our boys got a well deserved win. And I only have one thing to ask….

    How do me ‘rose coloured glasses’ look on my face now that we have established we can ABSOLUTELY be a top 5 team, and are looking to finish in the top 5 of our Division?

    BOONE you said it perfectly.

    ‘Scouts are not blind’. Neither are Managers or Coaches. For all the bashing they took on this site and in this city there are ALOT of people eating their own words. Funny I don’t really see alot of them posting any longer.

    NOW, let’s get a solution to Markov and I will feel better. The only thing bringing me down is our boy Marky in pain. We had our fair share and then some last season, it really sucks. We have to figure out a way to keep our potential there.

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

  59. habs001 says:

    price is playing great , the d is playing smart and pk very very good…these elements are very important as we will have streches in the season where goal scoring will be an issue and the pp will not produce..picking up early points is great as we still have many tough road games vs top teams…we also have a 7 game road trip in december and many back to back games…

  60. Clay4bc says:

    We have a replacement. His name is Picard. His solid play, when combined with PK’s flamboyant play and solid team D, is all we need.

    I’m more worried about finding a replacement for Gomez, personally.


    I had some hockey taglines, but I don’t know where the puck I put them.

  61. Will Longlade says:

    The Habs are too small! They traded the wrong goalie! They can’t win without Markov! Gainey ruined the Habs! They won’t have a chance against better teams like Vancouver and Philadelphia!

    Well, this morning even the skeptics are giving the Habs some backhanded compliments. Sill a way to go, but I continue to see a team that competes every night and every shift. The Habs have impeccable leadership. They play big. Those in the know (like BG) realize that they can go far with that combination. 




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