About last night …

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Remember a few short months ago, off-season talk focused on what few openings there were on a nearly-set Montreal Canadiens lineup?
That was then.
A 1-2 start and ugly home opener loss is now.

(Photo by Pierre Obendrauf of The Gazette)

Time to panic?

Fire the coach?

Work the phones for trades?

Not hardly.

But points won and lost in October can be very important when April rolls around. And your Montreal Canadiens are looking very much like a team that is going to need every point it can get in April.

The Calgary Flames are not an NHL powerhouse. They missed the playoffs last season (albeit with two points fewer than the 96 that punched the Canadiens’ ticket), and will be a battle with the Western Conference’s other mediocrities to make postseason play in 2012.

What if it were the Philadelphia Flyers skating around the Canadiens’ zone untouched last night?

The Pittsburgh Penguins? Washington Capitals?

The – gulp! – Boston Bruins?

Despite outshooting the visitors 36-21 – plus firing 24 shots that were blocked – the Canadiens looked awful.

The D was a mess and got intermittent support from the forwards. The shot totals are misleading: none of the forward lines had any cohesion, and Jacques Martin was juggling by the end of the second period.

From where I was sitting, the only forwards who looked good were Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller.

Brian Gionta had more penalties than SoG.

Tomas Plekanec burned himself out on the PK … and that problem is a ticking time bomb.

Scott Gomez and David Desharnais? Meh.

Travis Moen did his job. He had six hits against Calgary and was far from the worst skater wearing a red jersey.

But Moen as a Top Six?

C’mon, man.

Newcomers Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz weren’t the worst defencemen on the ice. That dubious distinction fell on Hal Gill, who was minus-2 in less than 13 minutes of even-strength ice time.

But for a team that managed only 21 shots, Calgary looked like an offensive juggernaut. All four goals were scored by unchecked players with good, clear views of Carey Price.

The goaltender was not available in the Canadiens’ dressing room after the game. Price was beaten twice to the short side and did not furnish the all-world performance this team needs to win hockey games.

Let’s go back to the summer scenario.

The acquisition of Erik Cole gave the Canadiens a Competitive Top Six. Andrei Kostitsyn, in a contract year, would join two promising youngsters, David Desharnais and Lars Eller, on a third line that offered hope os some scoring. Rugged Ryan White, Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche and maybe Andreas Engqvist, a righthanded defensive centre who kills penalties and wins faceoffs, would vie for fourth-line ice time.

The defensive pairings: Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban. Gill and Josh Gorges, Jaroslav Spacek playing out his contract, probably with Emelin. Yannick Weber (on a one-way contract) and Diaz would be the candidates for seventh D.

The roster looked good, eh?

Not good enough to make the top four of the Eastern Conference, but definitely a team with possibilities in the Parity Division.

Then Markov missed training camp … and his recovery from a second knee surgery is so problematic the report he won’t need a third is seen as good news.

Chris Campoli went down. Then Jaroslav Spacek.

Emelin and the undersized Diaz and Weber became regulars.

Ryan White sustained a sport hernia early in camp, missed the preseason and is out indefinitely after surgery.

Mike Cammalleri suffered a fluke skate cut. He’s gone for a while, and Moen is on the Tomas Plekanec line with a slow-starting Cole.

And the walking wounded have a day to prepare for Colorado, another hungry team that missed the playoffs last season.

Pierre Ladouceur has a game report card in La Presse. The grades, on a scale of 10, are predictably poor – including  5.6 for P.K. Subban, who played a team-high 23:30 and looked tired in the third period.

The Canadiens outshot Calgary 12-1 over the last 20 minutes. But it was garbage time and everyone knew it – including the thousands of fans who had emptied seats for which they’d paid Premium Game prices.

There wasn’t much of a premium last night.

Even the home opener ceremonies came off as lame until the MSO played O Canada.

Maestro Kent Nagano’s tempo was out of synch with fans singing the anthem – a disconnect that was a harbinger of things to come.

•  •  •

Jacques Martin predictably mentioned special teams.

The Canadiens’ PK unit gave up two Calgary goals, and the power-play pitched another shutout.

The PP – which desperately misses Markov and could have used Cammalleri – is an anemic 1-for-13 through three games.

Calgary is not a physical team. Once the Canadiens start playing thumpers, the PP better get in gear as a deterrent or they’re gonna get killed.

•  •  •

The Canadiens claimed another sellout last night, extending a streak that began in 2004.

While all seats were sold, there looked to be a lot of empty ones in the Reds.

And by the last 10 minutes of the third period, the habitually rockin’/rollin’ Bell Centre looked like an Atlanta Thrashers home game.

•  •  •

Michael Farber, looking really good after his illness, was back in the pressbox last night.

Farber said Brian Burke was in constant touch with him as be went through treatments and rehab.

Say what you will about Burke, the Leafs’ GM is a stand-up guy – for his son and for ailing journalists.

When Farber had heart surgery a few years ago (nicest guy in the world, my man Michael, and it’s one thing after another), Burke sent a gift with a card that read “I didn’t know journalists had hearts – Brian”.

Burke is what my people call a mensch.

•  •  •

Guest Comment from gK_HabsFan:

Alright, so I was at the game, and here are a few thoughts:

1) Wow they sucked! The place was emptying, and it emptied FAST!

2) Yes we got 30 plus shots on net, but most of them were “One and Dones”. Absolutely no sustained pressure in the offensive zone!

3) Most of the goals we gave up were due to defensive cramps, and the Flames capitalized.

4) Gomez and Gionta aren’t generating anything! NOTHING! A lot of our veterans weren’t all that great tonight, but they showed very little IMO. I expect more out of Gionta, and Gomez… well…

5) Subban was struggling out there! He tried to do too much with the puck in the defensive and offensive zone.

6) Can we please stop the PP experiment with Pleks on the point. I prefer him down low, where he excels, as opposed to manning the point. He has no chemistry with Subban, and he doesn’t look comfortable there.

7) Cole has to play better.

8 ) Emelin is impressive. Didn’t notice him out there all that much during the first two periods, which is kind of a good thing when you’re a defensive defenseman. But during the 3rd I saw him hitting more, and being more engaged in the game.

9) Out of all the forwards, Eller was definitely our best! He was winning puck battles, getting a few opportunities and playing well defensively. He began the game on the 4th line, moved up to the 3rd line, and finished on the 1st. I want to see him playing a more prominent role if Gomez and Gionta continue to play poorly.

10) I wouldn’t say the Flames outplayed us. They just had their chances and capitalized on them. After the 2nd goal we just couldn’t gain any momentum and generate anything offensively

90 Comments

  1. immortalhab says:

    They sure must be able to speak the required languages well.

  2. immortalhab says:

    We won’t hire a decent coach who can’t speak French. We let great French Canadian players go like they’re indispensable: pouliot, Bergeron, lapierre, tanguay, begin, etc, etc. Maybe not Crosby’s but they played like every game mattered. AK46, has a shitload of talent but could care less what team he played for and does NOT have a record of consistent effort. Yet, the top dogs would never give him up. When we have something good, we can’t hang onto it (ex: Wiz, Halpern). Garbage like JM we can’t get rid of, even though we’d come out winning if we got a pail of used pucks for him.
    I sincerely hope that our language skills lead us to the next Stanley Cup so that people I thought were wrong can point to me and say: “We shure learned you!”

  3. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …a half hour ago, I received an RDS ‘push’ on my phone, I thought was saying Markov has received his physician’s approval to join His Team-mates for ‘skating’
    …did I interpret from French correctly anyOne ?

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

  4. mamacat says:

    Slow starting Cole? I like what I’ve seen. Is everyone supposed to score in the first 3 games?

  5. HabsFan1111 says:

    Here here to the comments above by gk_HabsFan.

    I swear #10 applies to somewhere around 50% of Hab losses.

  6. bobinsask says:

    I don’t know if was an oversight or if you consciously avoided mentioning Kostitsyn as one of our top forwards. He was better than Pacioretty or Eller. But I hardly expect him to get any positive ink, unless it is accompanied by the tiresome phrase, “he is playing for a contract”. Some things never change.

  7. The Dude says:

    Vancouver andBoston are still suffering with a finals hangover and had a long season….and to be critical of a Cup winner and the runner up is “special”.lol

  8. i can’t stand seeing 1) Cole barely playing on PP. 2) pleks at the piont? was Muller that essential to keep JM in a realistic perspective? luckily, i had plenty of beers to wash away the sorrow…lol

    ———-
    hip-check!

  9. RetroMikey says:

    The cracks are starting to show so early in this team and give them another 17 games or so for fans to realize this team is nothing but an average team at best compared to other teams.
    Can’t blame injuries to Markov, White or Campoli, Crosby is gone with Pittsburgh and they are playing great hockey without him?
    I do not like the fact we have so many skilled players on this team but they cannot finish off scoring chances which is our downfall and the fact is, we have to realize that this team cannot compete game in and out against bigger and skillful teams.
    Subban is going to be a very tired DMan come 20 games if he continues that pace. Personally, he has to work on his defensive game than showcasing his hot dog style of play.
    We’ve got problems Habs fans with our teams and I’m not talking about the injuries!

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

    • Chris says:

      Vancouver sucks defensively.
      Boston sucks offensively.

      Want to lay a bet on either of those two statements remaining true for the whole season based on the first 3-4 games?

      • RetroMikey says:

        Sure, bring it on!

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

      • SmartDog says:

        Yeah but you have to look at it in context. If you’re comparing to people judging the Habs too harshly, it’s that last year was all promise and no-payoff and this year has started out the same. Gomez lit it up in the preseason and now looks like he did last February. Cole looks like Moen (though Moen looking like Cole for a game was a nice surprise). Pk seems to have lost maturity. Price laid an egg in the home opener. The concerns people had in the off season about losing Halpern (and more weight on Pleks) add to issues the team does have. It’s not pretty – not a good start anyway.

        ————————————-
        Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

    • tbovs says:

      Really!!??!! Pitts burgh is winning without crosby and your comparing that to us and markov et all. Really??!!??…So Pitts who has 2 #1 pics in the line up. One of the best defencemen in the league in letang and the deapest forward group in the league….Really??!!??

      Unless we finish last overall for 5 years like pitt and sydney crosby gets cloned and grows fast then it aint comparing apples to apples. Management will do just enough to make sure we don’t finish last i.e. make moves so we willl at least be middle of the pack fighting for the last playoff spot.

      Crosby less pens….wow…who knew.

  10. habitual says:

    For sure a long term problem will be Pleks continuing to kill penalties, in addition to everything else. I’ve complained about this before and then some genius replies: “Your best players have to be your best players.”

    That’s why it was too bad that Betts had to be returned as defective goods. Engqvist isn’t ready as a prime PK centre. Suggestions on who we might poach?

  11. The Dude says:

    OK….like a lot of us said in the off season “only to be ridiculed “,this year HAbs team is a effing bad joke!And the beauty of said statement ,no typing required cause we all have eye’s ,ears and a brain”except for the faithful,eh!”

  12. Chris says:

    While (and perhaps because) I know that it annoys people to talk about players on other teams, is anybody finding Erik Karlsson up in Ottawa to be an underrated gem?

    He should hit 100 career points as a defenceman by age 21, which is staggering given the weakness of the supporting cast in Ottawa.

    The +/- number is of course disturbing, but it would be interesting to see how that number would change were he playing on a less inept defensive team.

    • christophurrr says:

      living in ottawa (and with a girlfriend who is a sens fan) i have seen my fair share of Karlsson and agree that he’s pretty great offensively.

      he has a lot to learn in his own end, but as they say, defense takes a lot longer to learn.

      as you inferred, playing with Kuba will also open a kid up to a lot of bad defensive situations, so that has impacted his d-game for sure.

  13. zak says:

    JM mentioning problems with the special teams and wasn’t Muller in charge of special teams. PG has no idea on who to keep, who to let go, and who to sign.

  14. Bash says:

    Okay Jacques…Tweak this!

    Kostitsin Eller Cole
    Pac Plek Gio
    Darche Gomez Moen
    Pal Enq DD

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

    • neumann103 says:

      How about my PanicTweak (TM)? Is it too late to bring back Gallagher for 9 or fewer games while waiting for Cammy? Once he was sent back to junior, that was it for the year? I would have liked to have seen a line

      Pacioretty Eller Gallagher

      otherwise with what they have now I would line up

      Kostitsyn Plekanec Cole
      Pacioretty Eller Desharnais
      Darche Gomez Gionta
      Moen Engqvist Palushaj

      Gill Subban
      Gorges Weber
      Emelin Diaz

      I am more concerned about Gionta (who has looked awful so far with lack of finish and bad penalties) than Gomez (not that he is improved that much).

      I think Cole will come around. He had a decent start last night with a big hit on the first shift. He looked lost from the late 1st period on. Still I think you have to give him consistent top 6 minutes and linemates for at least 20 games before panicking.

      AK46 was a Kostitsyn microcosm last night.

      Lars Eller is the man. Hope he can keep up the “first game back” effort, but that seems to be the kind of player he is.

      “Et le but!”

      • Kooch7800 says:

        You would bump Gio for DD. DD hasn’t done squat either but Gio will produce if with the right centre

        • neumann103 says:

          Hey I said it was a PanicTweak! (TM)

          But seriously it is not about line hierarchy. I do think that in most combinations the 1st-3rd lines ought to be playing similar minutes, with the extra time for PP and PK so it becomes more about who you think might work with whom.

          Yes I would like to make a bit of a statement that Eller ought to be the #2 Center and MaxPac probably would play well with him or at least get more form Eller than from Gomez.

          I would love to be able to read Gionta’s mind. He seems to have made a career out of playing with Gomez. I don’t know how much you break that up even if both are somewhat at sea. I do think Gio has been worse than Gomez in the vast 3 games of experience we have so far this season but I think he will come around. Gomez? Maybe not so much.

          Apart from Price having to play consistently Vezina level goal, the first principle ought to be is that Tomas Plekanec is far and away the premier skater on the team. After that, Eller and Pacioretty are bringing it. You have to use AK46 and Cole where they have an opportunity to do some damage.

          The D are just young/ unused to this level/ ice. Give Diaz and Emelin 20-30 games and they will be okay. The problem is that you would have hoped (expected) that those 20-30 games could have come as 6th or 7th D-man.

          While I think the Spacek contract is a little rich, those who dump on him oght to consider just how valuable that $3.8M could have seemed in a game like last night where the amount of confused running around was epic.

          “Et le but!”

      • SmartDog says:

        Gionta scored 29 goals last year. Why tie him to Gomez? And why the hell put him on the 3rd line?

        ————————————-
        Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

    • Kooch7800 says:

      I was actually thinking about those same combos. Gio can play with Pleks and so can Max P.

      Gomez might be better against weaker D

    • i like. could alternate eller and pleks, but looks good bud.

      ———-
      hip-check!

    • PureGuava says:

      Magical. Although I would put Palushaj with Gomer on the 3rd.

  15. SmartDog says:

    What’s really frustrating is all these long-term no-trade contracts to guys whose best years are behind them. WTF? Montreal will only win if they develop from within. But they’ve got 3 more years of Gomers laziness, Gionta’s overly-relaxed “leadership”, and Cole’s continued decline as a (former) power forward. Hoorah.

    ————————————-
    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

    • SeriousFan09 says:

      Oh good, trashing Brian Gionta. That’s great material right there. And 3 games into his contract with MTL, Cole is a bust.

      You can do better than this SD.

      - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.
      SF09 on Twitter

      • Kooch7800 says:

        Gio had a slow start last year and did recover. I am sure he will again this year. He has been our leading goal scorer two years in a row. A lot of his slow start has to do with your #1 centre Gomez.

        I do think Cole will be better but he needs to be put on a line and left there. Cole and AK should be on a line together with Pleks IMO

        • Natrous says:

          I fully agree – Gio had 3 points in October last season, and finished just shy of 50, so I’d say let’s save throwing the Captain under the bus until the Habs have been eliminated from the post season (heaven forbid).

          The other factor SD didn’t mention is that it’s quite unlikely that we’ll have to endure the same garbage from Gomez for the next three years – if this year mirrors last year, I think they’ll Redden his a$$ to Hamilton cause there ain’t no way we’re paying $7M+ per for ~40 pts a season.

      • SmartDog says:

        It’s not “Gionta” I’m trashing. It’s the philosophy PG and Martin are following. The team that has too much weight on the wrong guys. (It’s on record that I’ve never been thrilled with Gionta as Captain, there just seems something lacking. He doesn’t have much presence (to me), and he’s not the kind of guy I think people want to win for.)

        Cole to me was too obvious – I need a power forward, I’ll make sure I buy one whatever the cost and terms. Where I am impressed with the team is that they’re actually developing good young players. (So many they can afford to even give some away… but that’s another story.) And given the choice between Patches and Cole, who would you take? I’d take Patches – at his age and salary, he’s a keeper. Cole is very likely on the decline, like most of our top 6. So why would you lock up another guy like that? And why they didn’t chase Jagr harder – all he wanted was a 1 year deal and he would’ve brought not only size and scoring but some star power to the room – I’ll never know.

        Imagine Gionta, Cole, and Gomez decided to all go on a trip and their boat sank. Do you think we’d be better off after a year or so with an extra 17 million in salary and a need to rebuild, or with those three for the next 3 years?

        If Cole scores 25 goals, I’ll eat my hat. Same goes if Gomez scores 20. Neither is gonna happen. More likely, two of our top six forwards together, eating up almost a quarter of our salary cap might be good for 35 goals. Whoop.

        And I tie this to Martin too. We need a coach that can turn good play into goals. Martin hasn’t shown he can do that. Without stellar goaltending, we are a middle of the pack team AT BEST.

        ————————————-
        Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

        • Natrous says:

          I get where you’re coming from, but how do you pin what you said about Martin to Martin? He proved he can turn good play into plenty of goals in Ottawa, but hasn’t had the same talent set in Montreal as he did with the Sens – if anything, blame PG for JM’s inability to produce goals; JM is trying to win games by playing to the team’s #1 strength, which is goaltending at the moment. If you think about it, we’re more likely to win a 1-0 game than we are a 5-4 barnburner with the lineup that is currently being held together with tape and glue…

      • G-Man says:

        No, actually, he can’t and doesn’t. He’s a doom and gloomer for those ready to be sucked into it. The Dud is the same. Man Afart as well. Same old, tired crap the moment the team loses a game.

        • SmartDog says:

          And you’re just a bolt of sunshine out of your a–. Keep it to yourself. Stop stinking up the joint.

          When there are positives to talk about, I will. Unless you’re watching a different team, I can’t get understand your need for a rosy outlook.

          ————————————-
          Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

  16. Marc10 says:

    No compete on this team… And after that embarrassing display, we shouldn’t be referring to them as a team at all… weak.

    If I’m the Molsons, I put in a call to Jacques Lemaire and Big Bird to casually inquire about their wreck salvaging capabilities and general availability…

    • G-Man says:

      Good thing you’re not the Molson, then. The last time the team panicked after 4 games, the club went into a tailspin that has taken 15 years to recover from. Relax! It’s 3 games in.

  17. VintageFan says:

    1. A Cap team should NEVER, EVER look like a team struggling to make the Floor.
    2. Power Play production and the Penalty Kill can all be taught/improved with quality coaching. If the “plan” is just WAIT FOR MARKOV, the the coaching staff is both overpaid and overrated. The PP has deteriorated since JM and PP took the helm
    3. Winning faceoffs is a teachable skill. If none of the coaches can teach this skill, then why did The Ghost hire them?
    4. Veterans is a polite way of speaking about Gionta and Gomez…Over the hill would be more accurate.
    5. Experiments with Kostitsyn to get consistency is like trying to improve the buggy whip.

    • SmartDog says:

      If Muller was holding this team together, we’re going to see that. And if so, we can only hope that Martin loses his job, Gauthier stops over-paying for veterans on the slide years of their career, and Muller comes back where he belongs.

      ————————————-
      Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

  18. SmartDog says:

    Veteran leadership. Pffffftttt.

    ————————————-
    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

  19. avatar_58 says:

    So this is what the Kirk-less canadiens look like…

  20. HabinBurlington says:

    Well after last nights performance I am reminded of that great quote from one of our longest running TV icons:
    AY CARUMBA!

    Not a good night of hockey. Would love to believe they were rusty, or 3 Opening Nights in a row is tough, or perhaps this team really Sh*t the bed.

    There is talent there, but didn’t see anything cohesive. Too many little flicks of the stick hoping the pass gets there instead of making sure it gets there. Just everything looked off.

    This team has plenty of veterans and a coach who has been in this league for a long time. That combination should not be crapping the bed on a home opener.

    I am hopeful this is an aberration, if not well back to Bart Simpson then Ay Carumba.

    Final Note, apparantly Brother Andrei was offered a deal on a week long lift ticket and turned it down. He may be growing tired of the Alps and could be headed back to Montreal for further rehab.

    • punkster says:

      Whew. I was concerned he wanted to join the FIS World Cup circuit.

      As for the game from what I saw of the first and third periods it would have helped to have more than 2 players per line actually trying to win. Far too many passengers up front and far too few forwards helping out the D in the first.

      Funny, nobody has mentioned The Great Guy today or over night. I thought he was a cat’s meow, the bees knees and the gift of the gods to the coaching world?

      ***Subbang Baby!!!***

      • HabinBurlington says:

        Bang on PUnkster regarding the passengers on every line. It seemed like one guy would go hard for the puck be then get no support. Just very strange to see a team with so many veterans appearing to go through motions.

  21. MikeMcLaren says:

    Of the three games the Canadiens have played this year, the one I had marked down as a guaranteed loss (Winnipeg, opening in their barn) was the one game they’ve won!

    Go figure.

    But that’s how this works. It’s sports. It’s unpredictable. Hopefully they learn from this debacle, tighten up against a Colorado team that has hopefully used up all its goals against Ottawa.

    Or someone will be there to blame Carey Price’s pink pads if things don’t go so well tomorrow.

    C’est la vie.

    /\\ike
    GO HABS GO!

  22. geo_habsgo says:

    If the only reason Eller is playing in the bottom 6 right now is because they are easing him back from injury than I am totally on board. However, if by 10 games in he’s not playing on the top two lines something is wrong. He is a big dynamic player that is hard to wrestle off the puck. Exactly what the Habs need up front. Imagine him centering guys like Cole and Patches? I think that would be a killer line. No?

  23. PrimeTime says:

    Hockey games is like the weather. Unpredictable in October. Things settle a bit in November then you get ready for the more predictable Winter and hope for a happy spring and a great start to an enjoyable summer.

  24. PureGuava says:

    I really don’t wanna hear any more talk about Eller on the “third line”, he wins battles, completes passes, makes plays, and is exciting to watch. Let’s give the kid some wingers and bump him up to the first line….It’s time for Gomer to ‘muck’ for a living.

    “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”
    - Robert Anton Wilson

  25. JF says:

    The team is clearly a mess right now, but I don’t think it’s time to panic yet. We need help on defence. With Spacek out and the dubious “good” news about Markov (did he go to Florida thinking he might be told he needed more surgery???), Gauthier has to make some kind of move, if it’s only signing Mara, whose experience and big body might stabilize things a bit. Our young guys, including P.K., who is struggling right now, will probably be fine in the long run, but I think we can expect a lot of mistakes at first.

    Bad as last night was, I beg to differ from those who think Jacques Martin and his defensive system are the problem. If we didn’t play a tight defensive system, we would be shelled just about every game. When the team competes hard and the players are willing to crash the net and go into the dirty areas of the ice, they can score.

    The problem, as on so many nights, was that they basically didn’t compete. That is, they came out flying, dominated the first few minutes, scored early, but as soon as something bad happened, they collapsed. Similar to the game against Toronto. We see this a dozen times during the season, but it’s particularly hard to take when it happens in big games – opening night, the home opener. And last year it seemed that every time they had a chance to move up in the standings, they came out flat. I find this really hard to explain. They’ve shown they’re a good playoff team, but in key games during the regular season, they’re not interested or motivated enough to give their best. It started with Gionta’s two penalties, and he has to take a large share of the blame, but very few of the players were at their best.

    Colorado, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh – we could easily be 1-6 when we face the Leafs next Saturday.

    • Chris says:

      To be honest, I’d rather the team struggle with Weber, Diaz and Emelin for a couple of weeks, even if it jeapordizes the playoffs, so that we can see what we’ve got.

      At some point, you’ve got to play your prospects or trade them. Emelin and Diaz are 25, Weber is 23. It’s time to work them into the line-up if they are going to be part of the team’s future.

      Guys like Mara have had their day. You know what you’re going to get, and it’s not all that much. Mara will drop the gloves, but he gives the Habs one more skating-challenged defenceman who was somewhat exposed by speed last season.

      I liked what I saw of Emelin last night in his 2nd NHL game. I can excuse some of his rough play against Winnipeg as that was his first NHL game. Last night, he was settling down and making some nice plays and showed some surprising jump in the third period. The kid can skate, and as he adjusts to timing his hits on the smaller ice, I think he will be a keeper.

      Like you say, we can expect a lot of mistakes at first as the young guys find their niche. What the team needs is for its veterans (Gill, Gorges and Subban) to play relatively mistake-free hockey for a couple of weeks to let the new guys learn on the job. That might mean toning their own game back and keeping it simple to lead by example, and the forwards are going to have to do a better job of carrying the play.

      I couldn’t agree more with the passengers comment. Gionta had perhaps his worst game in a Habs jersey, Cole had some hits but was largely invisible and I didn’t see too much from Moen, Engqvist or Desharnais last night.

      Plekanec had his moments, but the team’s best forwards last night were Eller, Palushaj and Kostitsyn. And that actually gives me cause for optimism. Eller looks fine returning from shoulder surgery, while Palushaj showed an ability to get in on the forecheck and hustled all over the ice. I would love to see the Habs switch Eller or Palushaj for Moen, who should never be anywhere but the 4th line and PK duty.

      • JF says:

        Chris – I’m not trying to be critical of Weber, Diaz, or Emelin. All three were good against Winnipeg despite some mistakes, and they weren’t the problem last night. I think Weber is underrated, I love Diaz, and Emelin just needs a bit more time. But I do think we need another veteran. We’re missing Spacek, P.K. is having his problems right now, and there’s no real indication of when (perhaps even if) Markov will return. Mara isn’t the speediest guy, but I thought he was a help in the few games he played last year.

        Plekanec always tries to give his best, I liked what I saw from Eller and some of the other young players, but most of the veterans, especially Gionta and Cole, were MIA, which is unacceptable.

        • Chris says:

          I’m with you on Diaz. :) I knew your weren’t being critical of the youngsters…I think we’re both supporters of the need to let them play.

          I just don’t know that it is the young, inexperienced defence that is the problem. The Habs have given up 7 goals in 3 games, 5 of them even-strength. Admittedly two of the teams they played are not known for their offence (Atlanta and Toronto, although I think the Leafs might be a much improved team with Lombardi, Connolly and Liles this season), but if they continue at that pace, they will end up as one of the top-5 teams in goals against at the end of the season. They currently rank 3rd in the league in shots against (23.3 per game, thus far) which, when combined with the presence of Carey Price, should be more than good enough to get the job done defensively.

          The bigger issue is an anemic offence. Nothing to show offensively in Toronto against a team that is not know for its defensive prowess. A good performance against Winnipeg. And then they come home and lay an egg. There were opportunities, but the Habs continued inability to convert those chances (some will call it bad luck) plagues them.

          If the Habs have any potential for playoff success, it is going to require that some of the younger guys (Weber, Diaz, Eller, Desharnais, Palushaj, Pacioretty) continue to develop and push out the older guys in front of them on the depth chart.

          We know what we’re going to get offensively from players like Gill, Gorges, Moen, etc.). They are serviceable NHL players that are forced into roles beyond their ability due to a lack of offensive talent. I want to see if the kids coming up can push the veterans back into roles for which they are more suited.

  26. Propwash says:

    Doomed…….

  27. Chris says:

    As with others, trying to read the tea-leaves after 3 games is frought with danger.

    Boston is 1-3-0 after 4 games.
    Vancouver is 1-2-1 after 4 games and have not looked good at all.

    I don’t know if Montreal, Boston and Vancouver pull out of their early season funks and rebound or not. But chances are that their talent level will ultimately make itself felt.

    Montreal’s defence is painfully inexperienced, something that was dismissed in the summer as the Habs had a bevy of “NHL-calibre” defencemen. They do, but they nonetheless had to sign Jeff Campoli (who was unfortunately hurt in the first game) and are now relying on heavy minutes from sophomore P.K. Subban and three NHL neophytes (Diaz, Weber and Emelin). There will be a learning curve.

    The goats last night, though, were not the new guys, but the veteran leaders who should know how to prepare for a new season. Gionta was terrible, Gill and Subban were brutal, and Gorges had an off-night (somewhat understandable given what he is working his way back from). Gomez was Gomez. Those are the guys that the Habs are relying on heavily and who let the team down last night.

    And to be honest, the team did have some few opportunities that were snuffed out by Kiprusoff, who had his A-game last night. At the other end, Price was exposed by some horrid defence but certainly did not cover himself in glory in general. He was average on a night the Habs needed him to put up one of his other-worldly performances. It happens, and it will happen again.

  28. Hobie Hansen says:

    What if it were the Philadelphia Flyers skating around the Canadiens’ zone untouched last night?

    The Pittsburgh Penguins? Washington Capitals?

    The – gulp! – Boston Bruins?

    - Mike Boone

    That’s Mr Boone’s statement from above and he’s completely correct.

    To play against those types of teams you need possibly three big defenseman that protect well in their own end. And by protect well I mean clearing the front of the net, wining physcial battles along the boards and just plain making life miserable for forwards in our zone.

    Diaz, Weber, Spacek and Campoli are just weak back there. And even Subban, Gorges and Markov aren’t exactly towers of strength.

    That leaves big old Hal Gill as our supposed rugged stay at home defenseman. He gives it his all and maybe he has one more year of blocking shots and taking up space left in him but he’s fading fast. Not to mention he the biggest pussy cat on the planet.

    A defenseman is supposed to keep the puck and opposing players away from the net and it would certainly help if our defenseman were at least bigger and stonger than not just a small portion of players on the opposing teams.

    Virtually every good team in our conference or in the NHL for that matter all have big and tough defenseman who plays a stay at home style or combines both offense and defense.

    We have Hal Gill.

  29. Chorske says:

    Great story about Burke.

    I find it disingenuous of JM to fault special teams. This constant prattling about special teams misses the point that we were disorganized and lazy 5 on 5, which led to bad penalties (two by the captain! arggh) and a complete loss of momentum. The problem is not the PK- the problem is HOW OFTEN the Habs are on PK.

    Also, I saw some of the same things that bothered me from last year- a DMan gets control in his own zone on the PK, and makes a rushed play to clear that is blocked. Forwards waiting for rebounds in the offensive zone about fifteen feet from where they should be (this means you Cole and AK), and waiting for rebounds in the defensive zone BEHIND the Flames’ forwards (this is pee wee level stuff, guys).

  30. Danno says:

    What an abysmal performance. With few exceptions, nobody played with any heart. Everyone just mailed it in.

    The problem is about motivation. It’s the coach’s job to get the best out of his players. Jacques Martin is not accomplishing that.

    This can’t go on for very much longer.

    ________________________________________

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

    • CanadienBoy says:

      I hope it not a missing captain Kirk , the AV are coming with a young O’Reilly 3 pts last night and a focus OB

    • G-Man says:

      The old “motivation” excuse and blaming it on the coach? C’mon Danno, my motivation to get to work is money and these spoiled athletes get truck dumpsters full while giving an effort that barely a shovelful.
      Where the f is Gionta? Gomez and Pac are doing the work, but all lines need the 3rd guy contributing.
      The D is a little shredded and they missed Spacek enough to play totally awful, especially in the first. Minus Cammy and Markov, the team needed a better game from Price and he didn’t deliver while Kiprusoff did. His first period was sh!t, compared to last season’s solid performance.
      Relax, though, this isn’t December. If the Habs are like this in December, changes will occur and it won’t be the coach; it’s the players.

      • Danno says:

        Let me explain.

        I think Martin has de-motivated a lot of the players and has lost the room. That’s what I mean by his inability to motivate. I’m beginning to think Martin is simply lacking in people skills and good judgment needed to get the best out of his players.

        ________________________________________

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

  31. CanadienBoy says:

    Gionta with is penaltys ruin the game right from the start ,the C should be on Plek or George

  32. Habfan10912 says:

    Two questions. Why is Gomez still on this team? Why does Martin give him 20 minutes of ice per game (only 17.13 last night)?

  33. slamtherimtim says:

    i dont mind if markov even misses the yer , the problem is PG did to little too late , we are already in bandaid mode ,

    good point about houle , at least he tried , PG is afraid to pull the trigger, ,

    well i loathe martin

  34. PureGuava says:

    The kid gets 8 minutes a game with a limited supporting cast and gets 17 pts – with no PP time. Gomer gets 21 minutes a game, time on the 1st PP unit, and wingers that are wasted and produced 38…for a bargain price of 7.4 million dollars.

    Eller was the 13th overall pick (we traded the 12th pick of that draft for Gomez), and we traded a highly valued roster player to acquire him. It’s time to use him.

    As for my expectations for point totals. He may flirt with 20 goals, and get 50 assists. What have we got to lose at this point?

    Look, I am a fan of Scott Gomez. He is great in the dressing room, and he’s a leader on this team, but he needs to have less ice time. I think Gomer’s poor performance and his ice time are related. He’s burnt out. Let him have 10 strong minutes a game, and let JM shuffle him like he does the younger guys. The young players need stability and ice time…let them play!

    “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”
    - Robert Anton Wilson

  35. Chris says:

    I can see Eller as a 40-55 point guy in a couple of years, especially if he is used in his native position (center) instead of being forced to ride shot-gun on the wing.

    Eller is a good skater, and needs to work on the strength side of his game to take advantage of his physical size. He will never be a goal-scorer, as he has never been a goal scorer at any level of hockey. Put him with a natural sniper and I think his passing abilities make the line better.

    Like Kostitsyn, who I personally think might be the best passer on the team, I worry that Eller is being groomed for a goal-scoring role that doesn’t necessarily fit his mentality.

  36. wouldn’t that be the same numbers as gomer? gotta give the kid credit, probably would have more points than gomer given top 6 wingers ;)

    ———-
    hip-check!

  37. HabinBurlington says:

    Yah, Enqvist is Casper the Ghost. Aside from looking tall on skates he is just not ready for NHL, not sure that day will come either.

  38. HabinBurlington says:

    I am actually far more concerned by the play of Gionta than Gomez.

  39. PureGuava says:

    I think his effort is there, he just can’t make plays any longer, and that’s an issure

  40. i take scott gomez’s 7 mill, and throw it on the ground! :D
    “he’s not part of the sys-tem!” lol

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAYL5H46QnQ

    ———-
    hip-check!

  41. Chris says:

    Agreed, but that would have been the case whether the Habs win or lose…they play a very boring brand of hockey, in my opinion.

    There are some very talented individual players (Cammalleri, Subban, Plekanec occasionally), but the blow-up was done to bring in guys who are defensively responsible.

    If the Habs are winning, a lot of the complaining that we’re seeing today would not be there. But the players and coaches understand the beast…they get played very well to entertain. If the team isn’t winning, the fans aren’t entertained and the ire is going to flow freely.

  42. HabinBurlington says:

    The Calgary roster has just as many average players, but they worked hard and played as a team (last night, they were crap their first 2 games).

    I am not defending the roster we have, but that Montreal Roster last night didn’t give two shits what the results were.

  43. PureGuava says:

    It doesn’t matter who we draft. Goalies are apparently the only form of young player that this organization will stand behind.

    “Of course I’m crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”
    - Robert Anton Wilson

  44. zak says:

    We have to resign PK and Price and at what cost. Markov5.75, Gomez 7.0, Gio 5 plus ,Cole 5 plus, Cammi 5 plus. AK has a contract coming up. PG is called gm???

  45. Kooch7800 says:

    He doesn’t have that edge you need. I have seen him play with the dogs many times and was never like wow that guys is going to be a good NHL player

  46. Chris says:

    I think people over-state the importance of big, physical defencemen on a defence corps personally.

    Small, mobile defencemen have proven very valuable to a host of teams in the playoffs in recent years.

    Detroit won their last Stanley Cup with Brian Rafalski (5’10″, 200 lbs.) and Brett Lebda (5’9″, 195 lbs.) on defence.

    Weber and Diaz bring some much-needed skating to the Habs blue-line in a league that is increasingly dominated by speed. People were going on and on about Josh Gorges being too small, and he grew into one of the better defensive defencemen the team has had in recent years because of good positioning, excellent mobility and a willingness to get himself in shooting lanes.

    Weber and Diaz give up a couple of inches and 7 pounds to Gorges, but let’s see what they can do before writing off their chances to contribute to a deep run.

    The chances of the Montreal Canadiens making a deep playoff run will not ride on the defensive abilities of Weber and Diaz, a 2nd and 3rd pairing defenceman. The team desperately needs offence, and both those guys have the puck-moving ability to greatly improve the Canadiens’ transition game that is so key to their success.


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