About last night …

GioRangers

You can make an arguable case that Brian Gionta scored the most important goal of your Montreal Canadiens season.
The proof will be in the postseason pudding.
Imagine the scenario if the Captain had not put that nifty penalty-shot move on Cam Talbot in Overtime.
What if the Canadiens had lost against a team resting its number-one goaltender, its top two defencemen and its prize late-season acquisition.
The New York Rangers who outshot the home team 41-27 and held the Canadiens scoreless through 62:04 accomplished this without Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi or Martin St. Louis.
What if this depleted Rangers lineup had won … which they would have had Carey Price not been brilliant yet again?

The Canadiens would be starting the playoffs on a three-game losing streaks.
The players would be demoralized.
The fans would be plumbing the depths of despond.

And the Tampa Bay Lightning would be licking their chops (does Lightning have chops?) at the prospect of facing an opponent reeling into the first round.

Instead, the Lightning go into Washington on Sunday needing a win to secure second place in the Atlantic Division and home ice against the Canadiens. A loss in OT or a Shootout won’t be enough. It would leave the Lightning and Canadiens tied at 100 points, with the CH holding the tie-breaker because they have more wins in regulation or overtime.

So yeah, Gionta scored a HUGE goal.

A dramatic goal.

And an entirely appropriate goal, because a pre-game ceremony honoured Gionta as the Canadiens’ unsung hero of the 2013-’14 season.

Gionta scored 18 goals this season. That’s the fewest he’s ever had in a full injury-free season.

Gionta’s contract is up this year. He is probably playing his last season in Montreal.

Was he worth $5 million this season. Probably not.

But Gionta has showed up in every one of the 303 regular-season and 28-playoff games he’s played for the Canadiens. He has an impeccable work ethic and leads by example.

Moreover, Gionta’s contract is not the most egregious on a roster that includes Daniel Brière ($4 million) and Rene Bourque ($3.3 million).

Brière and Bourque were Gionta’s linemates against the Rangers. On a night when few of the home team’s forwards distinguished themselves, the line was not the team’s worst. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Michel Therrien keep them together for at least the beginning of the first game of the playoffs.

We know the David Desharnais-Max Pacioretty-Thomas Vanek line will be intact. There might have been some cases of overpassing as DD and Vanek tried to feed Max for his 40th goal, but the unit is far and away the most dangerous line at Therrien’s disposal.

While Gionta was getting the Jacques Beauchamp Trophy and Carey Price was presented with the Molson Cup for his superlative season –the shutout was his sixth, and Price’s GAA of 2.32 was the best of any goaltender who faced more than 1,800 shots this season – there should have been recognition of the Canadiens centre who played with the most wingers this season.

Give the silver revolving-door to Tomas Plekanec. Is there anyone Pleks hasn’t centred this season? With Brendan Gallagher on his right, Plekanec had Michäel Bournival and Dale Weise on his left wing at various times against the Rangers.

They were, unsurprisingly, kept off the scoresheet.

Finding linemates for Plekanec is not Therrien’s greatest challenge heading into the playoffs. Of greater concern is the Canadiens’ power play.

An 0-for-3 against the Rangers ran the PP’s futility record to 0/23 over eight games. Because the Canadiens are something less than an even-strength juggernaut (23rd in the league), the Canadiens have to score on the power play. And PP potency has to act as a deterrent against teams taking liberties with the Canadiens’ smurf-laden lineup … especially in the postseason.

It’s not a coincidence that the power play has struggled since P.K. Subban stopped scoring. After scoring 11 goals  in 42 games en route to winning the Norris Trophy, P.K.  had 10 in 82 games this season.

His last goal was March 3 in Los Angeles, two days after his last power play goal, against Toronto at the Bell Centre. Opposing penalty-kill units focus on P.K. and Andrei Markov at the points, and the Canadiens have to figure out a way to either open the shooting lanes or create some pressure down low.

They’ll have a few days to work on the PP – and on defensive zone coverage that was woeful against the Islanders and Rangers.

But I’ll warp this up on a positive note:

The Canadiens reached the 100 oint mark for the first time since the 2007-’08 season, when they had 104.

The Canadiens are among eight teams with triple-digit point totals this season.

Tampa Bay, with 99 points, can join the group.

Let’s hope not.

359 Comments

  1. Ton says:

    PK

    Ok lots of comments about PK….my take> it was the right decision not to fight yesterday but the disturbing part was how he decided that he was not going to fight! Well that’s PK and that’s why is not respected around the league. In the end the decision proved to be the right one for he would have gotten hurt. Moen should have made the same call especially since he was at the end of his shift. Why has PK’s play faltered>PK has become “predictable” and opposing players have been able to key on his every move and contain him effectively. He should go back to his one skill that no one can defend against……speed and edges! I think he has beefed up so much that his mobility is not as good as it was hence all of the “zig zagging” very often just standing still! I hope he can get it back…….the telling tale in this whole ordeal will be his performance in the playoffs……if he is not a factor its bye bye Subban!

    • olematelot says:

      “Bye, bye Subban.” Really glad you’re not the GM.

      • Ton says:

        ok your the GM……….based on his play of the last 30 games and a dismal playoffs what do you do??? Sign him to a 9 million dollar contract?

        • RockinRey says:

          Huh? So what if Price underachieves? This guy is a stud. I would only unload him if another team overwhelmed me with an offer.

          ——————————————————————————————————
          ‘This organization going forward must set its sights on competing for the game’s ultimate prize every season — and no lesser standard should be accepted.’
          —Geoff Molson, Canadiens owner and president

        • olematelot says:

          You’re the GM are you going to get rid of a Norris Trophy winning defenseman based on a “30 game ” slump and. lets be honest here, he hasn’t been “bad” everyone of those games. I say you’d be a fool to do so.

    • Habcouver says:

      I appreciate your take and it may be shared (or sneered) by others.
      However I see PK’s play being dictated by how the coach wants him to play. We haven’t seen the “speed and edges” for the latter part of the season… it totally frustrates me, too but I have to point the change to MT emphasizing putting the team first and being responsible for defensive zone coverage.

      PK is an aggravator but is not paid to fight, so I’m pleased with his (or MT’s order) to walk away.

      Finally, PK is only 24 years old. He’s way beyond his years and will get better. When we compare him to Doughty or Keith, we’re only blowing the situation out of proportion. I repeat, he’s only 24 years old. We needs to chill here. Only if MB is offered a top line centre and multiple high draft picks should PK be even considered as expendable. Otherwise, PK should be a life-time Hab.

      We Are (Not) All Canucks.
      Proudly Canadian but passionately Canadien!

  2. Timo says:

    Rhino – the answer to all these question is – because of Therrien.

  3. Timo says:

    I agree A. Therrien made Subban situation such that no matter what he does or doesn’t do is now under the microscope. I am afraid this is the point where only a fresh start somewhere else will change things for him ( seeing how Therrien leaving is out of the question)

  4. rhino514 says:

    Questions we will never know the answer to:

    1) What´s the story with Beaulieu?
    2) Is there really a rift between Subban and the coach?
    3) What has happened to Subban over the last 30 games?
    4) What happened to Eller this year
    5) Was Gionta playing hurt/ had family problems at the beginning of the year
    6) Would Tinordi, Galchenyuk, Beaulieu be developping faster if given more playing time and playing their natural positions (have they been used correctly)?

    • AliHaba says:

      I’ll only respond to #5. In defense of Gionta, he was just coming off bicep surgery. Has been getting a little stronger as the season wore on.

      • Habcouver says:

        Which begs the question, why wasn’t Gio the Habs’ candidate for the Masterton trophy?

        We Are (Not) All Canucks.
        Proudly Canadian but passionately Canadien!

    • Adidess says:

      Many interesting questions in there…

      I am with you a little bit on the young guys. We have a coach, and probably management as well, who believe the focus on player development happens primarily in Hamilton, not in Montreal. See Galchenyuk. Many teams are able to do both, pursue results and develop young talent.

      I am not sure having Tinordi and Beaulieu in the line-up would have led to results that are much worse in the standings personally, but you can’t argue with their decision, considering a 100-pt season. There is a belief among Habs decision-makers that these guys need more time in Hamilton, maybe for physical maturity more so than in terms of their skills. In fairness, you’d rather have them err on the side of not ‘graduating’ them too early. More bad things happen, when youngters are rushed into the league. We don’t ‘need’ them here too much this year.

      If the Habs don’t make room for these guys at camp later this summer, fans will be right to get pissed off.

      Go Team CHanada!

  5. ProHabs says:

    George Parros won’t be a Hab next year. BIG John Scott is a free agent this year. Should the Habs go out and sign him?

  6. jamman says:

    Blues ain’t going anywhere. Second round tops. You heard it here first.

    • Clay says:

      I doubt they’ll make it out of the first round. Been playing terribly lately. Made the wrong moves at the deadline, and that seemed to destroy the team chemistry.

      __________________________
      ☞ “The deepest sin of the human mind is to believe things without evidence” ~ Aldous Huxley ☜

    • Habcouver says:

      Their recent losing streak couldn’t come at a worse time.
      11 shots so far with over half the game played today, I am guessing most teams are tightening up for playoff style hockey… but the Blues have appeared to list some mojo and are playing small for a physically big team.

      We Are (Not) All Canucks.
      Proudly Canadian but passionately Canadien!

  7. 24 Cups says:

    Shanahan, Sakic and Linden leap frog the field. Is that a great idea in terms of the long run?

    http://www.thestar.com/sports/leafs/2014/04/11/risky_shanahan_move_could_redefine_maple_leafs_feschuk.html

    24.2 Cups

    • Clay says:

      I’d say it’s not a bad thing to start replacing the Old Boy’s club in the NHL – except that, judging from Brendan’s time doling out ‘justice’, he seems to have embraced that club.

      __________________________
      ☞ “The deepest sin of the human mind is to believe things without evidence” ~ Aldous Huxley ☜

  8. 24 Cups says:

    I’m not trying to pick on Toronto but they were outshot in 65 of their 82 games. That’s basically 75%.

    Carlyle is a dead man walking right now.

    24.2 Cups

  9. Forum Dog says:

    Props to les Bleu-Blanc-et-Rouge. A great season by pretty much any measure. 100 points is about 8-10 more than I expected in September, and they have done it despite going through some real rough patches. Just goes to show that good goaltending is the great equalizer. Up and down performances by a defensive unit or mediocre scoring by the offensive lines can be offset by consistently good netminding. The Vanek add has really changed the dynamic up front, and Therrien has managed to wade through the adversity without losing the team. Still not a great fan of his, especially when it comes to player development, but am willing to acknowledge that he has done a good job with the leadership of the team and has everyone buying into a system.

    I think they have a chance to surprise some teams in the post-season, especially if they can get Prust and Moen back and playing. Losing Galchenyuk hurts a bit, but I think Bourque is a guy that could show some value in the post-season.

    Looking forward to watching some play-off hockey. Should be a good series. GO HABS! ALLONS-Y!

  10. Adidess says:

    There aren’t too many new posts right now, so I was able to go back and read some of the earlier comments in the morning. And wouldn’t you know it, quite a few of them were about PK, where posters (namely Maritime Ronn, CJ) were expressing extreme outrage over Subban’s ‘behavior’ last night. I sort of get it, because it looked puzzling, even bad, but again still there is no middle-ground sentiment with this Subban guy.

    I like to think in terms of scenarios when assessing what happens in a spur-of-the-moment type of situations. Because I’m not in the head of the person involved, I find it’s lazy for me to pick the obvious thing I think happened, without consideration to what else might be at play. My conclusion might still be the same, but I give it a try. Here’s the scenarios I consider in reference to the latest ‘PK incident’ following the hit on Desharnais.

    1. PK decides he’s going to run towards Dorsett, pretend he’s going to fight, but fly by him, and obviously believing he’ll look really good doing it. And he proceeded to do just that.

    2. PK started running towards Dorsett on instincts, then it crossed his mind that he’s running towards a fighter, which he isn’t; next game is a playoff game, so he would really look tough for trying, but so very stupid; every playoff game is a big game, that’s really where he is needed to look good, so better not get into a fight with a goon.

    3. He started running towards Dorsett on instincts, with doubts on his mind about what he should do and thankfully, somebody (assuming Bouillon), calls him off and he’s just too happy to defer to Bouillon, who’s a better fighter.

    Any of these three things are plausible. To me, only scenario 1 is about character. As in, from the point he started running, he knew it was Dorsett and he knew he was just going to fake it, period. And if you find scenario 1 is what happened, you know things that I don’t.

    The bottom line is this. It would have been stupid for Subban (an awful fighter) to risk being taken out by Dorsett in a fight, 3 days before the playoffs start. I am happy a fight involving him and Dorsett did not happen.

    I would be curious to find out what ran through his mind during those 2 seconds, because the whole thing looked akward. That is my middle-ground sentiment on the ‘incident’.

    Go Team CHanada!

    • B says:

      I figured #3 is more or less what happened. You don’t want to let a plugger on the other team take Subban off for 5 minutes or more. Kudos to Bouillon and Subban for being smart about it.

      –Go Habs Go!–

    • frontenac1 says:

      I’ve never once come down on PK, love the guy but that was just plain old bad and disappointing imo. I’m willing to give him a mulligan on that one. But only one. Saludos!

      • Adidess says:

        More than fair on your part, Front.

        It’s normal to wonder about what happened there. It’s a curious thing, and I don’t have the answer, I wasn’t there. But Subban’s character seems to be on trial for every mistake, real or imagined. And we often don’t take the time to question what we assume about him.

        Go Team CHanada!

    • twilighthours says:

      Maritime Ronn with a strongly-voiced opinion? Get out of here!

  11. crane says:

    My lineup

    Prust Bournival Gionta
    Eller Plekanec Gally
    Patches D.D. Vanek
    Bierre White Wiesse (Bork fills in )

    Parros,Moen,Gally out

  12. RockinRey says:

    Though I felt the Habs should have traded Markov at the deadline I am predicting he has a big first round. Gallagher too.

    Heart says Habs in 6!

    ——————————————————————————————————
    ‘This organization going forward must set its sights on competing for the game’s ultimate prize every season — and no lesser standard should be accepted.’
    —Geoff Molson, Canadiens owner and president

  13. rhino514 says:

    Prust back healthy will be a big factor for this team in the playoffs, Prust back not healthy is not much of a factor.
    I hope he is healthy. He should be healthy to start, anyway. the way he plays who knows for how long.

  14. habs001 says:

    Would be nice if some of the none main producers could go on a streak…Bournival in the beginning of the season had minimal scoring chances but he produced points…This does not continue over a season as he has continued to have minimal scoring chances in a game and that is why he is not a point producer at this stage of his career but players can get hot for a short period..this is what the Habs need from some of their limited point producers…

    • Le Jadester says:

      Agreed!
      I hope Bournival isn’t scratched in the playoffs to make room for others ?
      He deserves to play in whatever role.
      He’s gonna be an important Hab for us now and for years to come.
      Such a hard working, fast and good all around player in all 3 zones IMO.

      Habs, OLE !

  15. Prop says:

    Alright Therrien, time to bag skate the lot of them until they puke. Everyday. Because Timo thinks its best.

    ____________________
    DOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!

  16. habs001 says:

    At this stage of his career Plecks has to pick up his playoff game..career playoffs… 52 games 10 goals minus 14…

    • Timo says:

      Pleks needs a new turtleneck for the playoffs. Rainbow colors (just the way little girls like it)

    • habsfan0 says:

      His proficiency in the faceoff circle late in a very close,important game is what concerns me the most.

      • habs001 says:

        He has not been stellar in key faceoffs in his zone for most of his career but give him credit as it has rarely cost the team…he loses most faceoffs at the start of the pk…and the same thing happens at the end of close games…

    • B says:

      Over his career to date, Plekanec has averaged .646 ppg in the regular season and .634 ppg in the playoffs. That looks pretty consistent to me.

      –Go Habs Go!–

      • Adidess says:

        I am a big Plekanec fan, but those numbers don’t meet the eye test when it comes to regular season vs playoffs. Obviously, HIO being on high on hyperboles, you would think Pleks just plainly sucks at playoff time, which is not true at all.

        But Timo’s oft-repeated ‘little girl’ is a term coined by Pleksy himself in reference to his playoff performance. He was obviously feeling frustrated by his own play in the post-season. He expects that he’d be among those capable of elevating their play in the playoffs, which has happened sparingly for him.

        Go Team CHanada!

        • B says:

          He may not have “elevated” his game overall, but he didn’t lower it either. Perhaps he plays around his highest level all the time rather than saving a bit more for the post season? That aside, it’s not a bad thing that he wants to do more in the playoffs, I just don’t think he (or Montreal fans) should be overly disappointed if he simply maintains his level of play.

          –Go Habs Go!–

  17. Lafleurguy says:

    Deletions from the final roster in the 6-1 loss last spring to the Senators:
    Michael Ryder, Jeff Halpern, Colby Armstrong, Gabriel Dumont (still available), Michael Blunden (still available), Raphael Diaz, Robert Mayer.
    Hope injuries this playoffs are kept to a minimum. Travis Moen and Alexander Galchenyuk also played in that game 5, and they are currently injured, so 10 different players will be in wednesday’s line-up.

  18. habsfan0 says:

    So,it appears today’s Tampa Washington game will not be available for local viewing.
    Of course,if this contest had an impact on the Laffs playoff seeding,rest assured that either the CBC,TSN,or Sportsnet would have tripped over their feet in their haste to preempt regular scheduled programming.

  19. Haberoooo13 says:

    For Hab fans that are Wrestling fans:

    http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/MatMatters/2014/04/13/21600281.html

    Lafleur coming out rather gingerly…

  20. habs001 says:

    This team is not a young team…there is no reason that it should not beat Tampa…Management must believe that this team can do something in the playoffs because they have a lineup that you cannot really say if they lose in the first round that this was a learning/growing experience for next year…


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