About last night …

PriceMarkov

Let’s provide dialogue for Allen McInnis’s Gazette photo:
Carey Price: “Boring game, eh?”
Andrei Markov: “Da. But we win. And you get shutout.”
Price: “I only had to stop 24 shots.”
Markov: “And we block 19.”
Price: “Thanks for that. Now move your left hand, s’il vous plaît.”

Bada-boom! I’m here till the playoffs. Try the veal.

But seriously folks, Price and Markov found themselves in the middle of the goalmouth melee that  erupted at the final siren and might have been Buffalo’s only display of emotion in 60 minutes.

Oops! I forgot Matt D’Agostini slamming the door of the penalty box, a fit of pique that earned the former Canadien an extra two minutes and the disapproval of his coach, who said D’Agostini had behaved “like a five-year-old.”

Somewhere in the world, there may be a five-year-old infant who will grow up to become a hockey prodigy drafted by the Sabres. The Buffalo rebuild might take that long.

Man, they’re a lousy team – the NHL’s worst in many statistical categories, including points, road wins and goal differential.

But as has been the case in more games than I’d care to remember over the last few seasons, the Canadiens played down to the visitors’ level … which would explain why Bell Centre fans were anaesthetized by a scoreless tie that lasted 50:53.

Coming off intense, emotional wins over two bitter rivals, Toronto and Boston, it was inevitable the Canadiens would have a letdown against woeful Buffalo. In his postgame press conference, Michel Therrien said his team’s first period had been marred by trying to make plays that weren’t there – sloppy execution that might have been exploited by a team more adept in transition than the Sabres.

Therrien said the latter 40 minutes hewed more to the Canadiens’ game plan. The coach was able to roll four lines and benefit from many shifts during which the Canadiens were able to cycle the puck effectively in the Buffalo end.

After facing 11 shots in that sloppy opening period, Carey Price made five saves in the second and eight in the third to record his fifth shutout of the season. The goaltender got help from his defence corps and a penalty-kill that pitched another shutout and has killed 35 of the last 37 penalties against the Canadiens.

I was impressed by Jarred Tinordi, who played 18:53 beside workhorse partner P.K. Subban (27:14, high on both teams) and had three hits and a couple blocked shots.

Granted, it was the Sabres, not the Penguins or Sharks, testing Tinordi’s mettle. But he played erfor-free hockey and merits another start Thursday night in Detroit.

As was the case Monday night in Boston, where he faced down concerted thuggery by Milan Lucic, Alexei Emelin was a rock on the back end. He had only one hit but blocked five shots.

Although torched to the outside by Cody Hodgson on one Buffalo rush, Mike Weaver played another steady game. He and fellow veteran Douglas Murray showed no ill effects of playing both ends of a back-to-back that included OT in Boston and travel back to Montreal.

After being forced to play the Bruins with 10 forwards, Therrien was able to roll his four lines.

After the game,, the Canadiens updated the casualties of Boston: Dale Weise is out for three weeks and Travis Moen for at least a week.

They join Brandon Prust in sick bay, a situation that would be worrisome were it not for a superb effort against the Sabres by Lars Eller, Ryan White and, especially, Michäel Bournival. The newly-minted fourth line was fast, physical and smart on the puck.

Playing without offensively-gifted linemates, Eller avoided his tendency to over-handle the puck. Maybe centre on a checking line is the role that suits him best, Eller’s physical gifts and lofty draft status (13th overall in 2007) notwithstanding.

The other first-rounders in the lineup had strong games against Buffalo:

• Price was flawless.

• Max Pacioretty’s 32nd goal of the season was the 100th of his blossoming career

• Thomas Vanek had four shots on goal, plus another three that were blocked. vanek also made some sweet passes, including the one that set up Pacioretty

• Alex Galchenyuk, coming off his Shootout heroics in Boston, did not make the scoresheet but played 16 solid minutes and flashed several examples of the vision and hockey sense that will make him a star when he moves to centre.

That will be next season – which is when the Canadiens will play their next game against Buffalo. They won all four games and outscored the Sabres 10-3 this season – the first series sweep of Buffalo in 35 years.

The 1978-’79 Canadiens beat Buffalo four times en route to winning their 22nd Stanley Cup.

Gee, do you think the snow in Montreal will have melted in time for this year’s parade?

 

429 Comments

  1. habsr4ever says:

    We have many solid prospects but so do other teams. We all think we have the best as again so do the other teams. For the NOW – our backend still scares the sh%$ out of me. We miss Gorges immensly. Weaver was the best quiet pick up of the deadline. MB hit TWO home runs at the deadline in Vanek and Weaver. WOW. Too bad Philly and the B’s are going to be tough to knock off…..still say these are the two teams to beat. Flyers OWN the Pens. I agree with some posts we need to start resting some of our older guys and players who have played a crap load of ice time this season. Markov and Plekanec will need a “rest” before the REAL season starts in three weeks. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Budaj get THREE more starts in down the stretch here. He’ll get two for sure on those back to back games yet to come but hopefully he can play in one other one. He’ll get the Hawks in Chicago and probably teh Sens next Friday. Maybe throw him to the wolves in Detroit tomorrow night. He loves playing on the road and we don’t want to shatter Carey’s confidence. Four games in six nights is insane – we’ll be out of gas for that one tomorrow night – book it. Win the games we are supposed to win (3 more to go) and we’ll get the bolts in round one. Would rather see them than the pens or b’s obviously. Emelin is back FINALLY. He is hitting again and is feeling more and more comfy with his game and his knee brace. It was just a matter of time. $4.1 M for next season is a bit steep but ce la vi. it will help us keep Markov for 2 years at $5.5 M. Sounds like PK is seeking 8 times $8 M. Sheesh. Not sure he is worth THAT much but we’l have to give it because somebody else will sign him to a HUGE offer sheet. Here’s to hoping he takes $7 M because he knows if we want to win a Cup we need the cap space. Watching Vanek in his own zone I am ok with him going to Minny for 7 x $7.5 M. Let him walk.

  2. Danno says:

    Photo above:

    Markov is protecting Price’s parts from Lucic the Nut Cracker?

    ________________________________________

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  3. AliHaba says:

    I’m starting an HIO petition. Please sign below if you agree with the following statement:—-Michel Therrien should be awarded the Jack Adams trophy as Coach of the Year.

    • Alex says:

      Buddy — with all the MT haters on here you have your work cut out for you! I personally am happy with the job the coach has done, but many on this site aren’t!

  4. AA - #25 says:

    Detroit is behind us in the standings and I hope the Habs are not fooled by that. The Red Wings not much weaker than the Habs very much the same type of team and I wouldn’t take this team lightly. Either of these teams can come away with the two points in this Game. I wouldn’t even think about making a prediction that’s how close these two teams are!!

  5. ElMcFoldo says:

    I have to admit that Murray did his job last night. MT was smart enough to use him under 15min.

    Still, with the playoffs approaching, I’d like to see more Tinordi and some more rest for the older guys so they have something left in the tank when they need it most.

    • ElMcFoldo says:

      And by last night, I meant the past few nights. If managed correctly, he could prove useful in the playoffs when the whistles are put away and the rough stuff gets ramped up.

  6. Maritime Ronn says:

    Stay safe fellow Maritimers wherever you are.

    What a mess, and the worst is yet to come later this PM.
    Not a question of losing power – just a question of when, and for how long.

    Basically, it will end up close to, or a Hurricane Category I snowstorm with 40cm-50cm of snow here on south shore N.S.
    Looking out on to the Bay, not more than 100 ft. visibility.
    Concerned about storm surge. Waves might be 3-8 meters.

  7. aHabGrowsInBrooklyn says:

    I’m enjoying today’s Standings. Still a couple of weeks left in the season, but it’s a sweet bit of schadenfreude to see the Leafs on the outside looking in, and drafting 13th. (Or does that draft pick belong to the Bruins, as part of the Boiled Ham deal?)

  8. CJ says:

    Taking a break from labour relations…..

    Any update on Mac Bennett? Are we rumoured to be offering a contract? I thought there might a good chance to see him slip into the Bulldogs lineup for the final few games this season. I would hope we make a similar offer to Brady Vail, who’s season appears to be on the brink. Connor Crisp doesn’t turn 20 until April 8, but I figured Vail and Bennett could get a chance.

    I’ve been keeping an eye on our prospects and the name that keeps jumping out at me is Jeremy Gregorie. I had the chance to see him play and I really thought he was a tenacious player, who drove the net much like Galley. He is constantly in motion and a buzz saw on the ice. Over the past two games he has managed over 20 shots on net total.

    Although I have not seen him play, there seems to be a number of strong reports coming in on Josiah Didier. All promising going forward.

    Of course, when it comes to the Canadiens, it’s all about right now. I am looking forward to seeing how we play in Detroit, who are sure to be a desperate bunch. We are on a seemingly inevitable collision course with the Lightning. It’s all about building cohesion and consistency as a group so that we hit the playoffs in full stride. Equally important will be ensuring that our players are healthy. Hopefully we sustain no more injuries and have depth as we move forward.

    Back to the grind. Cheers, CJ

    • Dunboyne Mike says:

      Nice self-control there, CJ!
      And thanks for the update — names to remember. If you could catch and measure the amount and intensity of hope and dreaming surging through those young hearts….

    • B says:

      I have a feeling you won’t hear anything about Bergevin signing Bennett (or other players for that matter) until the announcement of the signing comes out.

      I pondered similar on Vail and Crisp last night. Nevins is already signed and could get a look in Hamilton when RN’s season ends (they are up 2 games to 1 over Quebec right now).

      I don’t expect Didier to be leaving UofD before his senior year next season.

      –Go Habs Go!–


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