About last night …

What did your Montreal Canadiens do to offend the Gods of Hockey?

Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges: Gone for the season with torn ligaments in their right knees.

Now Michael Cammalleri and Max Pacioretty.

If Cammalleri scores just before turning toward the right-wing boards, Mike Weber wouldn’t have hit him during his goal celebration.

But Cammalleri’s shot didn’t go in. And  a not-overly-vicious crosscheck from behind by Weber sent Cammalleri into the boards and out of the lineup.

Max-Pac did what Mathieu Darche does and what we wish more large Canadiens forwards did. He stood on the lip of the crease and obscured the vision of Ryan Miller as James Wisniewski cranked one up from the blueline.

The result … OK, who volunteers to be the next Tomas Holmstrom?

If the Canadiens are cursed – and there have been times we’ve all wondered whether the Bell Centre was built on an aboriginal burial ground – they will find a way to deal with it.

This year’s edition is that kind of team. Getting a point out of Buffalo with three lines, while playing their second game in 24 hours, was nothing short of heroic. And it typified the spirit we’ve seen this season.

Markov goes down, Roman Hamrlik steps up.

Gorges finally succumbs to his wonky knee, P.K. Subban becomes Hal Gill’s D partner and plays 25-plus minutes a game.

So who’s on deck to replace Cammalleri and Pouliot?

 

 

My great and good friend Arpon Basu makes a case for Lars Eller. The kid may be ready for prime-time – you had to love his grit in that late game battle with Tyler Myers – and he could take Cammalleri’s spot on the power-play, while continuing to play 5-on-5 with Tomas Plekanec.

The help has to come from two players who entered the season as question marks.

If the Canadiens are going to pick up points through the games preceding the All-Star break, Andrei Kostitsyn and Benoit Pouliot have to display the talent that made them high draft choices.

Can they do it?

Absolutely. We’ve seen flashes of their ability, and the team needs consistent effort from them RIGHT NOW!

But those two enigmatic talents have broken our hearts before.

And if AK46 and Benny move up to the Top Six, the third and fourth lines get pretty thin.

David Desharnais centred Travis Moen and Tom Pyatt after the injuries forced Jacques Martin to improvise last night. They were the only line who consistently cycled, dogged the puck and spent time in the Buffalo zone, but DD won’t be boosting his Assist totals with those guys.

Then you’ve got Jeff Halpern, assuming he’s recovered, Mathieu Darche and …

Ryan White? Dustin Boyd? Aaron Palushaj?

Or does Pierre Gauthier try to deal, from an uncomfortable position of extreme need.

The Canadiens play in Ottawa Friday night, then scoot home to welcome Saku Koivu and Maxim Lapierre back to the Bell Centre. Saturday will match the NHL’s busiest goaltenders: Carey Price and Jonas Hiller, each of whom has 23 wins.

Price was spectacular – again – in Buffalo. The Sabres spent the third period in the Canadiens’ zone, and Price shut the door to send the game into overtime.

The Canadiens might have had a crack at stealing two points if Scott Gomez hadn’t blown his cool with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

I wrote about Gomez’s gaffe in Quick Hits, and all credit to him for manning up about it afterwards.

“I put us in a bad situation,” Gomez said, “and I’ll take the blame for this loss.”

No time for the blame game. Gomez and his teammates have to regroup and figure out ways to soldier on, minus four starters.

That’s hockey. And at least the injuries didn’t happen in the last week of March.

•  •  •

Two from the Commentariat, first from CharlieHodgeFan:

Pacioretty is a recent call up – a brilliant
one, but a guy who came in late. What he brings is a bonus, and having
him out hurts a lot, but can be dealt with. Cammilleri is a bigger hit,
even if he was slumping. If he’s gone for a few weeks, the team is in
trouble. White has maybe two goals in the AHL, and it’s goals this team
needs, not just guys to skate hard.

Pouliot. Kostityn, Eller,
Gionta – any of those guys could get hot. I don’t see a big trade, so as
usual, we sit here and watch what happens. The Habs are a good team
this year, and the depth is being built – Pacioretty, Eller, Pouliot and
increasingly Desharnais are interesting young forwards. The team is not
far from being at a solid level of depth for an NHL organization, but
these injuries at this time stretch it out pretty far.

That was a nasty evening of hockey against a shabby team and with inconsistent officiating. Ugly hockey with ugly results.

And from Jason M:

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to watch hockey it really seems that 1 game
out of every 3 are decided by flagrantly bias and incompetent officiating. Is
it I hope I get to watch the occasional barn burner that makes me happy? Or is
it misery that I so seek on game nights? The Habs aren’t exactly the most
disciplined team out there but I’d really like it if for a single game, the
Refs would do their job efficiently and properly and I can watch a game the way
it was meant to be watched. Gomez deserved a penalty but I think closing your
eyes on a handful of calls before cherry picking one is not what they have been
hired to do, at least, as far as I know. If a player has to “sell it” to get a
call, then the Refs aren’t doing their jobs.

I don’t know if you’ll touch up on this but early in the game Lindy Ruff had
a hissy fit and then the Sabres have a field day with many non-calls that put
the health of our hockey players at risk out there. Where have we seen this before? Did
the Habs even get ONE POWERPLAY after that hissy fit? Unfortunately, I believe
not.

At what point will management or the media bring this issue to the
limelight? I know it is frowned upon to cry foul towards the Refs but seriously
enough is enough and it’s time for a change about this. Can we kindly ask
people to be consistent in their work? How hard is it to call a penalty on a guy
who used his stick and a battering ram on Eller a handful of times? The holding
of a stick on Moen? Or hit players repeatedly from behind causing injuries
(Cammy and Woz) ? What about the non-calls on the headshots (Halpern)?

Do Refs even get any repercussions from being terrible at their jobs beyond
not officiating in the playoffs?

The current NHL system for officials is terribly broken and at times makes
me wonder if I should simply PVR the games, check later to see the feedback
from people off internet media and decide or not if I should go through the
motions to watch season games.It’s hard to be passionate on the product on the ice with all of these shenanigans going on.

One thing is for sure, I’m a very unsatisfied NHL fan right now. Though
kudos the Habs in sticking in the game, 3-4 players short while being on the
short end of the stick.

48 Comments

  1. showey47 says:

    He is also much more injury prone. He seems to have some sort of major shoulder surgery or something every season for the past 3 or 4 years.

  2. bobinsask says:

    You mentioned it was time for Kostitsyn and Pouliot to contribute more.  I think you forgot to include Gomez in that group.  This team needs him to become more of an offensive force than he has shown so far.

  3. light_n_tasty says:

    Because he is bigger, stronger, faster, better, sexier, and frenchier than Gomez, or any other centre we’ve had in recent memory.

  4. olematelot says:

    blah, blah, blah, blah :(

  5. PeterD says:

    Mike Boone…I caught this in the last line of the top half of your report…I think you meant Cammi and Patches…not Pouliot?

    So who’s on deck to replace Cammalleri and Pouliot?

  6. HabsFanInVictoria says:

    Why take on a 10 year contract with a player who seems to be on his way down.  Gomez brings many intangibles to the team that maybe the average fan doesn’t always pickup on. 

  7. light_n_tasty says:

    Because Gomez only has 3 years left on his contract.  Lecavalier (who is also having the worst season of his career) is signed for 10.  Tampa will need cap space when Stamkos becomes a UFA, and Gomez will be off the books by then.  Also, Tampa is a small market team who’s owners are concerned with actual $$$, and Gomez ‘only’ makes an average of 5.8 mil over the next three seasons, while Vinny makes $10-mil for each of those seasons.

  8. Danno says:

    The NHL should leggo of Mike Leggo.

    Until they do, print his picture (along with Chris Lee’s) and tack it to your dartboard.

     

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  9. nick says:

    That sounds great, but can you tell me why Tampa would swap Gomez for Lecavalier?

    Your trading a smaller 60 point guy whos having the worst season of his career, for a big 70 point who missed a few games… How does this benefit Tampa in any way?

  10. Hali_Hab says:

     I would love to see a swap between montreal and tampa  Gomez for Lecalvier. Before you dismiss it, think about it for a moment. It would be benificial to both teams. Get the  big franco center playing in montreal and get a fire lit under his ass.

     

     wishfull thinking….. maybe!

     

    “After 13 years, I couldn’t accept to be number two.“
    Guy Lafleur.

  11. leafs67_andcounting says:

    Jason M’s comments were bang on. JM should’ve blown a gasket after Gomez got called, not because it was a bad call, Gomez deserved a penalty for sure, but because of the non-calls before that. Ruff complains, the calls go his way, against Pittsburgh last week Bylsma spoke to the refs for about a minute and a half prior to the 2nd period..Habs received 6 straight penalties. It’s how you play the game Jacques, lobby the refs, don’t just sit there with your arms folded shaking your head and muttering tabernack under your breath.

    Plus you know what else…it shows the players your on their side and you’ve got their back. There’s a reason players loved to play for Pat Burns and it wasn’t because he was the second coming of Toe Blake or Scotty Bowman.

  12. Chips says:

    Ouch that game really hurt!!!!!! Good grit getting that point though. Call up White and Boyd. I’d roll these lines

    Poo, Gomer, Gio\
    AK46, Pleky, Eller\
    Boyd, DD, Darche\
    Moen, Halpern, Pyatt/White\

    Leave the D pairings the same. I like them.
    Hammer, Wiz\
    Gill, PK\
    Spacek, Weber\

    Picard and Pyatt get the short end of the stick, as Weber has been looking prety decent. Boyd has been scoring of late, so maybe that 3rd line could help a little.

    25 in 2011

  13. pedro says:

    time for price to carry the team good goaltending always wins Philadelphia finally figured it out

  14. punkster says:

    ?

    ***Subbang!!!***

  15. Bill says:

    What a situAAAAtion! The last month has been trench warfare, and the Habs are running out of reinforcements.

    Looking on the bright side … with two top D and two top-six forwards out, this has suddenly become a team that looks good with The System! If they are missing Camalleri and Max for any serious length of time, the Habs will be the lowest scoring team in the NHL over the last third of the season, and will have no choice but to try and grind and trap out 2-1 wins.

    Also on the bright side: Price is playing well; Gomez is showing lots of emotion and drive; Plekanec has played like his hair was on fire the last couple games; Subban is a godsend; AK46 is hitting and skating and looking due for one of his scoring streaks; Hamrlik is heroic … and I’m sure there’s lots of good I’m overlooking.

    They really need these two points against Ottawa, who unfortunately always play well against the Habs, so they’ll have to dig even deeper. I’ll be watching with great interest.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  16. aemarchand11 says:

    White will also stand up for Team mates and take out guys like Keleta. I would like to see him back up in the bottom six as well.

    Go Habs Go!
    2010-2011

  17. Chuck says:

    The play against the Flames was a smart, veteran play. He didn’t panic with the puck and either shoot or dump it into the corner; he knew that PK was coming up the right side so he held on to the puck to draw the defenders towards him, giving PK the open ice.

    And yeah, it was a dumb play by Gomez last night. He didn’t hit the guy, so a penalty shouldn’t have been called, but he’s guilty of putting himself in a position where the ref was able to put his arm up.  If that play happens in the first period, no one talks about it.

    He took responsibility for it after the game. We’re short forwards so sitting him, regardless of what some here think, isn’t an option. Time to move on and get ready for Ottawa.

    Centre Hice: Price shines in 18-minute effort over Calgary

  18. Chuck says:

    It’s good to know that you have the foresight to know what I would have done.

    Centre Hice: Price shines in 18-minute effort over Calgary

  19. soperman says:

    “If Cammalleri scores just before turning toward the right-wing boards, Mike Weber wouldn’t have hit him during his goal celebration…”  Can we be sure about that?

  20. HabsProf says:

    Do you really think it was that terrific?  The Flames backed off – they gave him the blue line, but contained him out there.  Their real mistake was leaving PK unchecked.  What Gomez did was recognize who was open and give it to him.  But we’re not talking about a great, seeing-eye pass or a play that dozens of others could not have made. 

    Gomez cost us a shot at a 2nd point last night.  I’m trying to think of when he has gained us a point this season.  He probably has, but it is a mark of how little impact he has had when I can’t think of one.  It’s not like I’m a Gomez hater.

    _____________________________________

    They brought their f____ing toys with them!

  21. DearyLeary says:

    I know the Rochester Americans are bad… but how did Hamilton manage to score 7 goals without DD and Patches?

  22. mjames says:

    As they say “even a blind squirrel…..” and Gomez is our blind squirrel. His on pace to put up 10 goals and 30 assists. He has the worst +/- and he gets paid $8mm. he complains about his teammates who score winning goals.  What a waste.  If Pouliot or AK had taken that penalty they would have been torched by Boone et al ,including you, and would have been benched for at least the next game. 

    mjames

  23. sidhu says:

    I’m very impressed with Eller’s work ethic — the guy won’t quit, he skates hard, backchecks, and is rarely out of position.

    This is his chance, and more than him, Benny’s chance to shine.  Benny always wanted top 6 minuts, well here you go. I actually liked the DD line last night, they had some strong shifts. Unfortunately there may not be anyone on the bottom six who will really help DD with his assist totals.

    I’d like to see White get the call-up after his excellent pre-season. Plus, even with Max Power we are a soft team.  We could use his grit and energy.

    Eller-Pleks-AK46
    Benny-Gomez-Gio
    Darche-Halpern-White
    Moen-DD-Pyatt

  24. Chuck says:

    Who made that terrific play in gaining the Flames’ zone, then feathered the OT winner onto PK’s stick?

    Centre Hice: Price shines in 18-minute effort over Calgary

  25. mjames says:

    Amen . I could not agree more. The sooner we can unload this loser, gomez, the better this team will be . Gomez is apparently somewhat jealous or upset with PK. Well senor, PK is twice the hockey player you are. When I think of the amount of money we are paying this guy I just roll my eyes.  I have nothing to base this on but I do not think Gomez is a positive influence on the dressing room.  Yes he cost us the game last night. His “maning up” is rather hollow. Martin should sit him for a game. Gomez is a punk and thinks only of himself unlike PK who is a ream player.   

     

    mjames

  26. nick says:

    Alot are saying AK needs to step up, Pouliot needs to step up…

    How about Gomez step it up. He’s due.

    Its amazing the amount of shit some players take for not scoring a goal and how long people hold grudges against a guy, in comparison to how easily Gomez gets off the hook for costing MTL the game with a stupid penalty.

    The guy is on pace for 46 points. Lowest number of points in his career. It’s time for him to man up.

  27. Habnofear says:

    White will help but too be honest the Habs have got to SIZE up a wee bit! The second half stretch run is going to be brutal and I foresee more injury’s to come(It’s getting nasty out there).Desharnaise has been giving his all but is taking A POUNDING IN THE GAMES HE’S PLAYED.And our old eastern euro Dmen are standing up to all this but for how long?Abd can AK show up every night…come on buddy,your team needs you. Lapierre would have been nice to have last night…

  28. RS says:

    Yep, Pouliot and AK46 are going to have to step up. The job of the 3rd and 4th line is to grind it out and provide some energy. Boyd or White among a few other Dogs could help in that department.

  29. BeachHabFan says:

    just finished watching TSN coverage on pvr. Lindy ruff, kaleta, and gaustad were “selling” penalties all night. Habs suffer for not diving or bitching after every call. whether it is intentional or not, refs definitely seem to respond to a coach who is complaining at their calls. Rangers had calls in their favour as well after a tortorella rant. i don’t think it is a conscious decision as much as a “top of mind” thing – just like in marketing, if you keep telling the ref ‘they’re holding, they’re tripping, wah wah wah…” the refs are going to see it whether it is there or not.

    so long as maxpac can play w/in 10 days or so i wouldn’t expect a trade, i can see a ryan white call up and maybe a ‘closed door’ chat w/ benny and AK46 to let them know expectations have just increased about 140%. White has a bit of an edge that they could use right now, buffalo wasn’t the first team to target price and subban and take the occasional late shot to put the habs in their place. any trade would be for depth anyway (Cammy should be back by February, right around when he got injured last year) – either someone with size (big JF Jacques guy still playing in edmonton?) or another experienced and pending UFA Dman

  30. JF says:

    Only saw the last few minutes of last night’s game, but I salute the team for a heroic effort.  Given the situation – the injuries, the officiating, the fact it was the second game of a back-to-back – getting one point was little short of miraculous and says a lot for the team’s character.  Efforts like last night contribute to bringing the players together and forging a strong team identity, which will stand us in good stead come playoff time.

    Short-term I think the injuries shouldn’t hurt us too much if Pouliot and Kostitsyn can continue to play at the level they’ve been doing the last few games.

    We’re still in fifth place pending the Rangers’ game tonight, but, more importantly, we’ve opened a bit of a gap between us and ninth place.

  31. smiler2729 says:

    Inept or unfair officiating is the most maddening aspect of being an NHL fan. Throw in crap like Bettman and his vision, Campbell and his biased sheriffing, the total domination of Canadian airwaves by everything Maple Leafs and ya gotta freakin’ wonder why we keep following the league…

    The biggest flaw in the whole NHL system is this: every corner of the game from the owners to the players to the rules are represented by unions and committees that get a voice EXCEPT US THE FAN! Maybe there ought to be an NHLFA (NHL Fan Association) where as a union, we elect a leader to represent us at all league dealings so these morons get a sense of what the fan likes and dislikes!

  32. Shiloh says:

    The officiating has been lousy for a long time and probably isn’t going to get any better under the regime of Colin Campbell, who espoused situational calls in his now-famous e-mails criticizing his own employees. Kovalev in particular has been a marked man for years. He can get chopped for 60 minutes, but the second he stands up for himself he is gone. Lapierre was headed that way as well. I also believe that the referees know (perhaps subconsciously) that their job security won’t be in jeopardy if they over-penalize Montreal.

    I don’t see any discussion of the non-existent “loser-point” today. Thankfully, the NHL retained the reward of a single point for a regulation tie. One point is a fair reward, especially in a situation like this where an undermanned team grinds out a tie after three periods. 


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