About last night …

Dany Dubé, CKAC’s outstanding hockey analyst, had an interesting take on the game.

What killed the Canadiens, Dubé said, was the lack of an effective fourth line.

A team’s fourth line is supposed to contribute something: energy, physicality, nastiness, maybe the odd fluke goal … something that will wake up their teammates and perhaps generate a bit of momentum.

The Canadiens didn’t get that last night.

Andreas Engqvist, the Hamilton call-up, played 5:26, went 1-4 on faceoffs and did nothing productive in terms of feeding hs linemates.

With the exception of his shootout goal against Tampa Bay, Nigel Dawes has looked like what he is: an AHL scorer who can’t handle the speed of The Show.

And Tom Pyatt is Tom Pyatt: a good penalty-killer and excellent skater who doesn’t do much at even-strength.

Proof positive that the 8-1 laugher in Minnesota was an aberration: Pyatt scored his second goal of the season against the Wild.

Buffalo’s fourth line º Rob Niedermayer, Cody McCormick and Mike Brier– had almost double the ToI of their Canadiens counterparts.

And check out the stat sheet on Boston’s big win over New Jersey: Claude Julien got double-digit minutes from every forward except Shawn Thornton, and he played 8:31.

The failure of Engqvist et al to provide a spark or eat appreciable minutes meant more ice time for the top lines.

And this was a problem because, as Arpon Basu points out, the injury to Tomas Plekanec bumps Lars Eller and David Desharnais up one level on the depth chart. And the absence of Max Pacioretty has Travis Moen, a prototypical fourth-liner, impersonating a Top Six forward.

Eller didn’t do much last night, and his sub-par play rendered Andrei Kostistyn fairly useless. Mike Cammalleri was “promoted” from the Eller line to play with Scott Gomez, which did nothing to shake Cammalleri, who’s not 100 per cent physically, out of his slump/funk.

DD was probably the best of the forwards against Buffalo. Jacques Martin had him out taking the last faceoff in the Buffalo end, with Carey Price off for an extra attacker.

The gang at L’Antichambre were talking about DD as the second coming of Jacques Lemaire.

And hey, I love the kid. But there’s a reason DD was an undrafted free agent. I think he’ll be a solid member of this team, but on a Cup contender, DD is not a Top Six centre.

The Canadiens did not play a bad game last night. They outshot the Sabres 31-24 and were perfect on the PK.

Unlike what happened at Madison Square Garden and in Minnesota, this was late-season/post-season hockey. Hal Gill, a former high-school quarterback, called it a “field position game.” Ryan Miller made the comparison to a chess match.

The game was tight and tactical. And it turned on errors:

The Eller line failed to clear the Canadiens’ zone, and someone forgot to cover Nathan Gerbe.

In Gill’s analogy, Buffalo got close enough for a field goal. In Miller’s, they were up a pawn.

Marc Antoine Godin of La Presse Tweeted a good summary of the Canadiens offence, notwithstanding its 31 shots:

The team has played two games outside this season: outdoors in Calgary and on the perimeter of the slot against Buffalo.

You can’t beat Ryan Miller from out there.

And unless the Canadiens go to the net with more determination than we saw last night, they won’t beat Tim Thomas at the TD Garden tomorrow.

• Statistical oddity: The Canadiens have alternated wins and losses since that costly win over the Bruins on March 8. Buffalo’s W-L alternation goes back to March 6.


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  3. malmn says:

    I respect Dany Dubé but he’s wrong. Sure, the 4th line could be better, but Cammalleri, Gomez and Gionta did diddly squat (again) against the Sabres . They were almost invisible. No team can win games if their “best” players aren’t leading the way.

  4. kusanagi says:

    Studied NHL stats and was pleasantly surprised to see DD has the most points per minutes of ice time, averaging approx 1 point for every 20 minutes of ice time. Patches is #2 at 1 point per 24 minutes and Cammy and Plecs are almost tied for 3rd best on the team at 1 point for every 26 minutes of ice time. See detailed stats below in this thread.

  5. Kristopher7 says:

    Confusing stat. Leafs best scorer is Grabovski with 55 points, as opposed to the Habs’ top scorere, Pleks with 53.

  6. Hali_Hab says:

    Hey Habs fans, just dropping a line from the beautiful waters off the coast of Libya..Just wanted to let crew at HIO know how much the site has come in handy for all us habs fans on board the HMCS Charlottetown.. since we dont get to see games boone has been keeping us in the loop. Thanks Again..

    GO HABS GO!!

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

  7. Bouleau noir says:

    In their previous game BUFF had losted to NASH in overtime after having losted a two goals lead within the last two minutes that was left to play in that game….. devastating lost !….. lesson learned ?

    To ammend themselves from such unforgiven lost wich came as a result of some defensive lapses BUF decided to play their best hermitically controlled game of the season against our Habs and it worked to perfection.

    Our present Habs are not the same team who won against Vancouver and the 3 road game preceding the 5-1 bashing of the Bruins a few weeks ago, I am shure that THAT TEAM with Pacioretti and Plekanec in the line-up had more than enought scoring depth ressources to win tightly controlled games like last night never mind the added PP effiency they were providing to the squad now at a lost without them.

    Its not the first time that the Bruins violence has reduced severly our chances to compete by taking out one of our crucial player from the roster….. it hapenned to our leading scorer in the 2001 series against them ( Zednick ) and it hapenned now again to Pacioretti who was our leading scorers during the 20 games preceding the hit by Chara with 11 goals and 16 points.

    The lost of Pacioretti was a huge one to the make-up of our team and substracting our best forward in Plekanec to it pretty much makes us vulnerable to any of the competion that is out there.

  8. RJ says:

    What’s with Cammy?

    “My face is my mask,” Gump Worsley

  9. Willy the bum says:

    As I seen it, the Sabres are in desperate need for points and they got them, while the Habs are busy thinking about the huge match-up tomorrow and figuring out how to injure Chara (I say below the waist…)

    Sabres need the 2 points and they got them, but the Habs played excellent throughout a 1-0 score til the end. Hey at least they tried hard to score, especially when Miller is in nets.

    Speaking of Miller, got him in my pool and got my 2 points for his SO…

  10. PeterD says:

    I have been hearing how David Desharnais is the leading scorer on the Habs since the All Star break and at the same time that he is not a top 6 forward…So I pulled some stats to take a look at…most notably Points per game. I think they are kind of interesting…Below are the top 12 forwards on this years Habs.

    # Name Pos GP G A Pts Pts/Game
    1 Tomas Plekanec C 69 21 32 53 .77
    2 Michael Cammalleri L 59 16 25 41 .69
    3 Max Pacioretty L 37 14 10 24 .65
    4 David Desharnais C 35 8 14 22 .63
    5 Andrei Kostitsyn L 73 19 22 41 .56
    6 Brian Gionta R 74 26 15 41 .55

    7 Scott Gomez C 72 7 28 35 .49
    8 Benoit Pouliot L 71 13 17 30 .42
    9 Mathieu Darche L 51 9 12 21 .41
    10 Jeff Halpern C 68 11 14 25 .37
    11 Lars Eller C 69 7 9 16 .23
    12 Travis Moen L 73 6 10 16 .22

    No surprise to me that the top 2 are who they should be – Pleks and Cammi. But after that it gets interesting, with the next 2 spots being mid season call ups from Hamilton and one (DD being a rookie)…Patches is #3 and DD is #4 in points per game…not bad really for replacement players from Hamilton and a rookie.

    In at # 5 is AK46 who has been on a bit of a run this past month, but where would he be if he hadn’t been woken up by playing with Eller for some time. Then there is Gio at #6…certainly can’t argue with his heart and effort he always brings to the games.

    But then there is a fairly big drop off to the bottom 6…starting with Gomez, Benny, Darche, Halpern, Eller and Moen.

    Now, Eller I understand because of his limited playing time and he is a rookie. Benny, well he is also suffering from limited ice time.
    But Gomez…well hopefully just a very bad year for him, but I think we have seen the full upside from him and he is working his way down the depth chart as he ages.
    The other 3 are solid 4th liners on any team…Darche, Halpern and Moen, so to be employing them on 1st or 2nd lines is a tactical error by the coaching staff. But we all know injuries have made it necesssary to use them in ways that are not consistent with there abilities and strengths.

    Bottom line for me is that I look forward to two things…getting the rest of our injured forwards back in the fold for the Post Season and re-balancing the lines to more realistically leverage our players natural abilities.
    The second thing I look forward to is next season and a full year on the team for DD, Eller and Patches. If the coaches use then to leverage their skills and abilities for to their most effectiveness, we could see a much better top 6 in 11/12 season. And it may not be unrealistic to see DD in a top 6 position on this team.

    • myron.selby says:

      I think you’re using the wrong numbers for analysis. If you really want to see who is and who isn’t producing, forget points/game and use points/minute. Considering that DD, Eller & Pouliot in particular get very little ice they have produced extremely well. Gomez looks even worse using this yardstick since the less he produces the more ice Martin gives him.

      • PeterD says:

        Well stated…I only used the stats I could find and they were on the NHL web site…where can we find pts per minute playerd?

        Your point is well taken and if all goes well next season we could see Eller’s, Benny’s and DD’s ice time increased significantly.

    • kusanagi says:

      Hi guys, took a look at NHL.com’s stats and found average shift and total games played. Multiplying one by the other gives you an approximate but reasonably accurate total minutes played. Divided minutes by points and was really surprised by the following (sorted from best minutes/points ratio to worst) with least amount of minutes per point scored being best:

      Player GP P TOI/G Total mins Mins / point
      David Desharnais 35 22 12:46 446.25 20.28
      Max Pacioretty 37 24 15:53 588.3 24.51
      Michael Cammalleri 59 41 18:18 1079.7 26.33
      Tomas Plekanec 69 53 20:19 1400.7 26.43
      Mathieu Darche 51 21 11:06 566.1 26.96
      Benoit Pouliot 71 30 11:39 823.6 27.45
      Andrei Kostitsyn 73 41 15:49 1153.4 28.13
      Jeff Halpern 68 25 12:44 867 34.68
      Brian Gionta 74 41 19:36 1450.4 35.38
      Scott Gomez 72 35 18:33 1332 38.06
      Lars Eller 69 16 11:13 775.56 48.47
      Travis Moen 73 16 13:03 949 59.31
      Tom Pyatt 57 5 10:37 604.2 120.84

      Unfortunately the formatting makes this hard to read by DD is the best forward on the team as far as points per minute. Of other note is that he also has the 2nd best shot to goal % conversion (after Jeff Halpern who barely shoots) and 2nd best FO % (after Jeff Halpern who is a veteran specialist). Not too shabby for a rookie call up. The guy’s playing inspired hockey! Who knows if it will last but I think we all wish him the best.

  11. RetroMikey says:

    We are really blowing the opportunites down the stretch to gain that 4th position in the East or Division title.
    We will not catch Boston but let’s hope the team can finish 5th in the conference.
    It will go down to the wire and our Canadiens could possibly in 8th position and come down to the last game.
    That means on the road, and kiss the playoffs goodbye.
    You play for home ice advantage, especially our team which stats have shown we play better at home than on the road.
    But what a boring game, kudos for Buffalo, they could surprise in the playoffs as well with a very good Miller in the nets.

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

  12. vic says:

    No Players in front of the net?Its the system play safe and hope to get a goal.
    DD was in behind the Buffalo net for a few seconds the rest were at the blue line waiting for Buffalo.The system.

  13. Jdub1985 says:

    Any reason to change the line up after a 8 – 1 win? JM?
    So a kid (Palushaj) who gets called up and actually produces gets sent down – Engqvist a none factor.

    Any reason to change the game plan after a 8 – 1 win?JM?
    So he does the opposite, and plays the defensive system for 40 mins which puts the habs in a hole.

    Bottom line – I think this system got so much credit in last years postseason, but no one remembers why or when it was used. The Defensive system is used to protect leads – not build them. So JM riddle me that.


  14. cunningdave says:

    Not to point out the obvious, but Calgary didn’t think that Martin St. Louis was a top-six forward on a Cup winning team either. Why are we so sure about DD?

  15. myron.selby says:

    I wouldn’t state quite so firmly that DD isn’t a top 6 centre. This year he isn’t, but I think that a couple of years down the road either he or Eller (or hopefully both) will be more than capable of playing on the top 2 lines.

  16. Sal says:

    Sal from the Hammer, testing

  17. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    forget about that game… its allowed…
    we must focus on the task at hand… WWIII, MASSACRE III, REVENGE of the WHATEVER….

    Our season comes down to one game…MARCH 24th… what has JM done to bolster the lineup? has conboy,henry etc been called up yet? are we going into the game with our tail between our legs? why haven’t we formed a proper 4th line?

    a proper 4th line will not effect the other lines, it will not turn us into goons, we are facing Boston, not Buffalo, we need to adapt to what we face.

    we must shut down Lucic and destroy Chara… what has JP/PG done to rectify this MAJOR PROBLEM?

    thats all that matters.

    Wednesday March, 9th, 2011 – the day NHL Hockey “officially” died

  18. Dennis says:

    After watching Cammy on “Your Canadiens” I’m thinking he should spend a bit less time on outside businesses and concentrate on getting back to the player he could be.

    When I’m owner/stickboy, things will be different.

  19. t1tan5 says:

    Looking at our injury ravaged line-up, these types of games are inevitable. We’re missing our #1 centre in Plek, #1 faceoff man and PK guy in Halpern, a top six forward in MaxPac, our #1 defenseman (and arguably best skater overall) in Markov, our top PK defenseman in Gorges, a top 4 defenceman in Spacek, and even our replacement for Gorges in Sopel. That is just too much for a hockey team to win consistently.

    • HabfaninTO says:

      You can expect more games like this down the stretch
      with so many starters out it’s amazing they have done this well.

      To survive this team has to have Price be lights out and win on special teams.
      Honestly they just aren’t strong enough and should they manage to hold on to a playoff spot will be lucky to win a few games.

    • takuto97 says:

      @ t1tan5: Well, when you put it THAT way….;P

  20. Bugs says:

    But…Buffaler was ALSO playing just 3 lines; that’s why we hardly saw our 4th.
    They got all their minutes in the 2nd, not the 1st, no?

    Chillin like MacMillan, potty-boy says he’s L. B. Potter, esq.

  21. Timo says:

    So when is Cammi going to get his for slacking off pretty much most of the season? I mean, you can’t tell me he is playing any better than Gomez, and I would also argue that he plays WORSE than Gomez. Yet, not a mention.

    • OneTimer says:

      Timo, do you even bother to read Boone’s posts? He’s playing I-N-J-U-R-E-D.

      • Chris says:

        Playing injured never held the dogs off on players like Komisarek, Higgins or Tanguay.

        If Cammalleri is injured enough that he can’t contribute, he should be rested. Because the Habs will need a productive Cammalleri in the playoffs…I don’t know if his injury is the type that a week or two of rest could help, but I see Washington shutting down their best player in Ovechkin to get him ready for the season that counts.

        Montreal is pretty safely in the playoffs. It would take a collapse of epic proportions for them to not get in at this point. I’m not all that crazy about fighting tooth and nail for a seeding if we enter the playoffs with tired and/or injured players that could have benefitted from a bit of rest.

        • habbifier says:

          I agree with this, and that’s where i think our experienced coaching staff and core of vets know full well what they’re doing. We can analyze their play all we want, only they know how well they’re shifting gears mentally/physically. Most of us didn’t expect Cammi, Gio, Gomer and Pleks to have a 6th gear in the playoffs last year either. I’m sure 14 and 15 (at least) would be playing tomorrow if it was a playoff game.

        • OneTimer says:

          A fair proposal. I just get upset at posters who are obsessed with dragging some players’ commitment to the game through the mud.

  22. HardHabits says:

    BTW I still think the Habs will win tomorrow in Boston. However I fear another injury or two.

  23. filincal says:

    Why has the PP looked so bad lately, with exception of Minni.? I originally thought it was the lack of Darche’s front of the net presence, but it’s the movement of the puck and containing the puck in the “O” zone.

  24. Max_a_million says:

    I don’t see any reason DD can’t be a center on a 2nd line. He is producing at the same rate as Taylor Hall in his rookie season. Superstar most likely not, productive player definitely. He is really showing some surprising speed lately as well. Great back check last night, and he creates more offensively each night then the rest of the lineup.

    • B says:

      Desharnais is more productive than Gomez (not saying much) and is a plus player. He has been the Hab’s 2nd best center so far this season.

      In a 30 team league, there should be 60 top 2 line centers. According to nhl.com stats, Desharnais ranks 43rd among centers with .63 ppg. Using the same crude math, there should be 180 top 6 forwards in the league, Desharnais ranks 115th among all forwards in ppg. Of course this statistical ranking approach is not perfect, but it does show something IMO.

      His 51.8 faceoff% also ranks him well among centers, not as high as Halpern’s amazing 56.5%, but still very respectable.

      • LA Loyalist says:

        Interesting – with a couple of notes 1. Halpern is very experiened on face offs, so if DD is close to him that’s impressive. Saku Koivu went 13 and 9 the other night in a win and there was a whole article in the paper about how important face-offs are.
        2. I know DD is small, but he has shown a great willingness to go to the net, which on this team is something.
        3. My suggestion is we look for a big winger or two to play with him (not easy) but it will make him even more effective. The kid has some hands.
        Is he the big center we need? No, but with the right wingers we might be in good shape.

      • ManApart says:

        It does say something, especially for a rookie. He’s already a ton better than the 7 million dollar man. I stated back in December, before DD was even called up, that I’d take him over Gomez on the second line. People thought I was crazy. Not anymore.

  25. Johnny_D says:

    I would argue that:

    We didn’t actually see the Habs 4th line on the ice yesterday, we saw Hamilton’s second line.

    The fact of the matter is, if the Habs go into the playoffs this depleted, we’re out … and very quick.

    • newbrunswick troy says:

      yes and i would argue that who ever plays with Gomez will very soon find himself off the score sheet and in a slump…case and point of lately ” Gionta”
      Plecs needs to get back into action so the habs can adjust some lines for the last 8-9 games!!!

      • HardHabits says:

        When Plex and Halpern return Gomez should be sat out a game or two. I defended him for the better part of the season but not any more and I think he should be on the 4th line with Moen and Pyatt or Carche. Both Eller and DD have passed him on the depth chart. Next season if he repeats this season’s dismal numbers I hope he gets traded or waived.

        He’s the most predictable player on the team. He’s beneath one dimensional. Ne’s none dimensional.

        • VancouverHab says:

          HH: aren’t you all forgetting, with somewhat idecent haste, that until MaxPac went down, the Gomez line was big?

          Moen is my hero but he ain’t a top 6 goalscorer. Judging Gomez by his Moen configuration, and ignoring the MaxPac success is misleading.

          And, he had a pretty solid game last night…..

    • icemachine says:

      Exactly, when a 1/3rd of the lineup is essentially rookies and AHLer’s the team is lucky to win 50% of the games. We get back Halpern, Pleks and Sopel and we should be able to win a 1st round against anyone other than PHI or WAS.

      2 rounds of playoffs is seasoning for this years rookies, and what should set the Hockey up for real runs at the Cup for the next few years.

      Its time to switch to whiskey, we’ve been drinkin’ beer all night

  26. HardHabits says:

    The Habs IMO were not generating chances. They seemed to be content with playing defense hoping for a Sabre error which never manifested itself. People can go on and on about how defense wins championships but a lack of offense lost last night’s game.

    Once the Sabres scored there was a bit more desperation in the Habs play but it was too little, too late.

    What I am talking about here is the Habs inability to play around the defensive trap other teams are placing on them. Regardless of how good a team plays defensively, games wont be won unless the team scores a goal. The Habs have been shut out 7 times this season.

    The bottom line is there is a serious lack of offensive creativity and the big signings of Cammy, Gionta and Gomez did absolutely nothing all game and by that I mean they didn’t score. I wont put the blame on their shoulders but we all knew that if the Sabres scored a 2nd goal it was game over. That speaks to total lack of offensive threat that the Habs provided last night and I think it goes whole heartedly to the game plan.

    I still maintain that the injuries are happening because of the system. The Habs are a team built for speed and offense yet they play a game that hurts them, both in the injury department and in the taking penalty one. The refs are not screwing the Habs over. The Habs screw themselves over with their lazy play and mental miscues. That’s why they are one the most penalized teams in the league.

    Conspiracy theories seem to be popular here.

    • LA Loyalist says:

      Good summary.

      The penalty record is really discouraging because (comments welcome) I suspect it either means the players don’t fit JM’s system, or they are so lacking in character… I don’t even want to go there.

      As for offense, one of the advantages of a scary offense is the D has to defend more broadly. When we only have two or three guys who are threat to shoot, we are easy to defend. How do you defend Gomez with the puck? You take away the pass. Whereas if your center is a threat to go to the net and get messy, it buys room for the wingers.

      This is beyond obvious, one would think.

      We play perimeter hockey, and we’re getting perimeter results.

      Quelle suprise.

    • Jdub1985 says:

      A shocker … I took you for a JM sympathizer … good post


  27. Rejean says:

    I can’t find audio or video of last nights post-game interviews, have you stopped posting those?

  28. UnkleGary says:



  29. Les-Habitants says:

    “The team has played two games outside this season: outdoors in Calgary and on the perimeter of the slot against Buffalo.”

    Love this comment, haha

  30. bobinsask says:

    It’s the old chicken and egg dilemna.

    Was it that Enqvist didn’t contribute and therefore got only slightly over 5 minutes of ice time or was it Engvist only got 5 minutes of ice time and didn’t get a chance to show what he could contribute?

    Young players are on a short leash and granted very little leeway when it comes to showing what they can do.

    Perhaps the fourth line was at fault but when you score ZERO goals and give up two… it is pretty hard to blame the fourth line. Last night, for example, I saw Gomez make a bad pass in the Sabres end. He continued to circle deep into the Sabres end and coast back while the play went the other way.

    That is a MUCH bigger problem than the fourth line.

  31. DearyLeary says:

    Can someone explain the decision to send Palushaj down and bring Engqvist up? For the life of me I don’t see the appeal in Engqvist’s game: plodding skater, no hands to speak of, poor puck possession, a weak first pass… what is it people see in him?

    Almost every time the 4th line was on the ice they were hemmed into our end. Thank goodness for Price, that game could have been embarrassing.

  32. alestar says:

    I don’t get the dumping on Eller for his “sub par play”, he played a decent game and battled hard for a first year player.

    If anyone is going to point fingers at guys who are guilty of “sub-par play” there are 3 veteran forwards who collectively take up 1/3 of our salary cap that fit that bill…

    Just my 2 cents.

    XXIV…and counting

  33. mdp2011 says:

    I don’t buy into the argument that “the injury to Tomas Plekanec bumps Lars Eller and David Desharnais up one level on the depth chart.” The problem is that it bumps Gomez up the depth chart, DD has the most points on the habs since the All-Star break and Eller has been playing great of late. Meanwhile (and I am not a Gomez basher), Gomez has done nothing to step up his game.

  34. habitual says:

    Wonder if the coaching staff has shown Cammy tapes of his shooting tendency. Did anyone watching the game on TSN notice the clips they showed of him all have him shooting top side, glove shelf.

  35. Jbird says:

    DD has more points than anyone on the team since his call-up. Right? So, by Boones logic, non of the current top six are top six on a cup contending team. That’s a glass is bone dry empty kind of outlook if you ask me.

    Vancouver Canucks 2nd line is now Higgins, Kesler, and Samuelson. DD does not bump Kesler, oviously . . . – but the way DD is playing he would not look so out of place as a top 6 forward on any team.

    Higgns is a top 6 forward on a cup contender, so is Samuelson. Also, Higgins is not on that line to replace an injured player. I’m pretty sure he is replacing Raymond who is now playing on the 4th line.

  36. Desi says:

    It wasn’t the lack of a good 4th line that hurt us vs. Buffalo — it was the lack of anything resembling a good 1st or 2nd line. How many goals do Gionta, Cammalleri and Gomez collectively have over the last 30 games? Maybe 10? No hockey team can have its highest-paid (and supposedly best) forwards go game after game without putting the puck in the net. I give DD and AK46 and Eller credit for picking up the slack when they can, but unless our “big” guns get going, the team will be going nowhere fast.

    • habitual says:

      It was both the lack of production from our top players, and the fact that the 4th line was ineffective and rarely on the ice.

      That brought the fatigue factor into the mix. It may have been why we didn’t see a Habs forward drive to the net.

  37. Clay4bc says:

    “What kiiled the Canadiens, Dubé said, was the lack of an effective fourth line.”

    With all due respect to Mr. Dube, what killed the Canadiens was a plethora or regulars injured, including our best forward (Pleks), forcing us to suit up many players who should rightfully be in the AHL. What also helped kill us was the lack of production from our remaining “big” guns, namely Gomez, Cammy, and Gionta.
    Ryan Miller didn’t help the Habs cause much either…

    With that said, we lost a one goal game (with an EN goal) against a hungry team that has been playing exceptionally well lately, and we did it with a seriously depleted lineup. We need some bodies back, and we will be fine.

    The only interesting answers are those which destroy the questions. ~Susan Sontag

    • RGM says:

      Well put. It’d be nice if the vaunted scoring prowess of Tommy Pyatt & co. were in effect last night, but the top lines are the guys that are expected to contribute and last night they didn’t do that. The talk of Cammalleri being injured was nowhere more evident than on the partial break opportunity he had early in the game. A healthy Cammy pops that wrister top shelf, even on the great Miller. With an injured Cammy, that’s a pretty routine stop.

      Carey Price is All Hart! http://on.fb.me/CP31Hart
      Go Habs Go!

  38. krob1000 says:

    anyone wonder how in the world ryan miller controls rebounds as he does….i think he is hands down the best in the game in that regard. That slapshot Andrei K took last night was a rocket, low far side, puck should naturally be kicked out…isntead it was weird..it appeared to almost go through his pad and fall a couple of feet behind him? made me wonder if he uses softer pads than most goalies….because I have always noticed pucks fall in front of his pads even on hard low angle shots where it seems to defy physics or at least the norm….any goalies out there who know if he uses the softest pads in the league or what the hell his secret is….

  39. Norm0770 says:

    The game last night, the Washington game, any Devils game, and a majority of the Habs game with Martin’s system make it apparent that the rink isn’t big enough. How many passes for both teams were knoked down tipped or intercepted last night? The players are so big and fast now that passing and shooting lanes disappear in an instant. Don’t get me wrong, when the Habs are playing the system and the other team is neutralized it doesn’t bother me as much, but blocked shots and neutral zone trapping aren’t really that exciting.

    The NHL has been on a long campaign to increase scoring and lure new fans. Or at least that the discussion has been: bigger nets, smaller goalie equipment, new rules. One of the things that they have overlooked is the ice surface. The international ice surface has made for great hockey in the Olympics (with the exception of Vancouver) and the fact that neanderthals like Mike Milbury, Brian Burke and Ron Wilson lauded the decision to use the NHL rink for the 2010 games speaks volumes as to how antiquated the NHL standard is.

    In the past 15 years almost all of the NHL teams have made new arenas, it would have been a good time for the league to change the standard. Most of the sun belt teams could accomodate the larger surface without even impacting attendance! Sure the hitting and blocked shots might be down but the open ice movement of the puck and increased scoring chances would be a great tradeoff.

  40. J.T. says:

    I don’t really buy the fourth-line argument as a reason for last night’s loss. Generally, yes, a team needs an effective fourth line to compete. In this case “effective” means having speed, the ability to tirelessly forecheck, the size to throw some good bodychecks and the will to use all three consistently. With Halpern, White and Darche, the Canadiens have more of that element than they did last night.

    Still though, last night’s loss was more of a lack of body commitment throughout the lineup. The Canadiens didn’t make the physical sacrifices they needed to, to force the play and get the rebounds and tips in Miller’s crease. Not totally unexpected, considering the teams’ places in the standings, the injuries and the upcoming huge tilt with Boston.


  41. UnkleGary says:

    I think DD is the real deal. Heard yesterday (Team 990) that he has more points per minutes than anyone else in the league. Buffalo blew a late lead on Sunday, and they were just hungrier than us last night.
    There’s no way were gonna win nine strait with this line-up, just keep out of the L column for consecutive games and wait for the real season to begin, when hopefully we get a few reinforcements.
    If we do, and the vets step it up, and the kids and Price keep it up, we are one dangerous team.

  42. Fred D says:

    This was a tight game and it could have gone either way. Because of where I live, I had the Buffalo “feed”. The comments between periods were that the Canadiens were “gaining our zone” along the boards and “passing in”, hoping for some one else to be there and go to the net. Nobody ever was. That was the only difference in this game. The goalies were equally great.
    Notably Gerbe was in front of our net when he scored the winning goal.
    I hope our team watches the tapes. Clear as crystal!

  43. HardHabits says:

    The Habs lacked more than an effective 4th line. The Habs didn’t have any lines that were effective. Not a 1st line, nor a 2nd neither a 3rd, not too mention a lack of a 4th.

    As Robert L. pointed out in Quick Hits with regards to Muller’s 1st intermission interview, the Habs tried to play a game without errors, however the Sabres played a game that forced errors on the Habs. The Habs by contrast were unable to do the same damage to the Sabres game.

    I noticed this in the Washington game, to lesser degree in the Tampa Bay game, as they were less effective in stymieing the Habs, and in last night’s game against the Sabres. Teams, apart from Boston and Philly who use physical play, know how to beat the Habs; play a defensive system against them, don’t allow the Habs to make any of their patented crisp and accurate short passes. Stop their speed game. It obviously doesn’t help that their top players are either injured (Plekanec, Pacioretty, Markov and to a lesser extent Halpern and Darche) or ineffective (Gomez, Cammy, Gionta).

    The team got out coached again. Lindy Ruff and Jacques Lemaire (and now Bruce Boudreau) know Jacques Martin’s game and how to neutralize it.

    Another thing, and whip out the thumb downs all you rose coloured lens wearers, is the Habs play this boring pseudo-trap, AKA the system, that is devoid of any offensive creativity. I lay the blame squarely on the coaching staff’s using Price’s excellence as a crutch. JM said this year the Habs were going to be able to concentrate on offence now that the defense part was supposedly behind us. I am still waiting for the offensive part of the Habs game to come to the fore, the game in St. Paul notwithstanding as that was an aberration.

    The Habs need a bona fide numero uno centre. The injuries are literally killing this team.

    • G-Man says:

      “AKA the system, that is devoid of any offensive creativity”
      Run and gun loses. There are no teams in the NHL right now that can use that tactic and have it work. Offensive chances come from good defensive work, ie, turning the puck over and getting a chance before the other team can get back into position.
      This blaming of Martin for a system that has worked despite many injuries to the team is just the same old tank tank tank nonsense.
      Habs will go with their strengths: hard work, smart defensive play and pouncing upon opportunities.

      2011 is the Year of the Hab (can I still say that?)

      • HardHabits says:

        Nice ad hominem attack. Dismiss my argument by bringing out the tank card. You sound like Homer Simpson calling Marge an alcoholic. I guess anything I say will be worthless because I bemoaned that the Habs are never sellers and even when they had great opportunities in the past to trade players for picks their choice was rather to trade picks for that elusive 8th spot and 1st round play-of exit.

        I didn’t say run and gun but that style of play not only got the Habs the Conference championship but also had them go the year virtually injury free. It’s not just a coincidence that since they’ve been concentrating and focusing primarily on defense that there’s been a steady flow of players to the infirmary.

        Why does everything have to be either or? I am talking balance here. I am not saying give up the defensive part of the game. I am saying have balance. Let’s see some offense. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Rarely though is the best offense a good defense.

        • G-Man says:

          Look, it is about balance, but none of the players currently on the Habs are point per game types. Right now, there are only 7 in the league that have that distinction. I wish there were more offense, too, but improved Dmen and goalies along with defensive systems that all teams employ cuts down on goals scored.
          Besides, Habs can’t play a horrible Wild squad every 2nd night.

          2011 is the Year of the Hab (can I still say that?)

    • notbigbird says:

      In your last sentence, do you think injuries or lack of #1 are the main problems? Or do you think that injuries have taken our #1 or quasi #1 out?

      Re. the system, I’m not sure that all things considered this group would be where they are without the system. Another year might be a different story. It’s a tough year with all of the injuries plus the problems of Gomez and Cammy.

      • HardHabits says:

        I can agree with that. However the system has been figured out by Ruff and Lemaire and others will follow. It is like playing chess. Make the same moves over and over and your opponent will figure you out. Martin needs to study his game and see where his rivals are out-witting him.

        I still maintain that the injuries are part of the system’s package and will continue to hamper the team until they add offense to the mix. The year the Habs had the least injuries they were all about offense. My other contention is that the team isn’t built to play JM’s system and that is why the Habs are amongst the league leaders in penalty minutes. These aren’t roughing penalties. By and large it’s the cheating lazy mental lapse kind that the Habs are guilty of.

    • punkster says:

      I gave you the thumbs down you requested. You still won’t beat my outstanding record 😉

      ***Subbang Baby!!!***

  44. habbifier says:

    With healthy bodies returning, especially 14, 15 and 55, everyone will go back to their normal roles. That should help us string a few W’s in the finals 2 weeks of the reg season. The fact DD, Eller and others are playing big minutes lately is awesome for their development. One strong game out of 2 from them in their increased roles (with consistent effort) is enough to show that they are solid (especially Eller) projects in the making. Injuries are often a blessing in disguise.

    Of all the playoff teams in the East, Montreal is the one most assured of its final position. I’m happy Boston won last night. Playing them as the 6th seed is virtually better for us than hosting them as the 3rd seed. We’ll hopefully be healthier, sharper and more focused. It’s an easier task for our vets to lead the troops on a 2 game road journey for 1 W than to defend home ice for 2 straight games. Plus up until 10 days ago, Boston’s road record was better than any team’s home record. So for the final 8 games we should hope for hard work, health and no change in the standings affecting us!

    Health x (13 + 14 + 21 + 91) + Studness x (76 + 31) = merry playoffs imo

  45. Chris says:

    Good article on Mike Van Ryn in the Globe and Mail today.

    Like Van Ryn, I think we need to change the culture in hockey. When a player bails out from getting steamrolled into the boards by another player, it is not a cowardly play or a bad play. Players have to try to do what they can to preserve themselves: that means not putting themselves into a position to get hurt (no turning into the boards!) and avoiding a hit when you know you are going to get clobbered.

    Avoiding the injuries that are taking over the game obviously requires some more caution and control on the part of the checker, but it also requires better “hockey sense” from the player getting checked.

    It requires teammates not making a pass that puts their teammate into a completely defenceless position (the dreaded “suicide pass”).

    It requires officials who have the fortitude and the backing of the league to make the tough calls on hits that are reckless.

    And it obviously requires better support from the NHL’s head office and NHLPA when it comes to suspending players who have obviously crossed the line.

    • smiler2729 says:

      I don’t know where the rivetheads of hockey think the game has to be physical to the nth degree.

      Everywhere the average Canadian of any age plays the game, there’s no bodychecking at the organized level, in fact, on every outdoor rink, frozen pond or even in the street, the game was never played with bodychecking, we just made plays, nice passes, nice shots, nice saves. You skate, you pass, you shoot – that’s the game!

      Now I like the physicality of the game but I hate the violence because it is not needed. A skater should NOT feel like he’s hunted out there every time he steps out for a shift.

      I was a forward in midget house league when I got a puck caught between my skates, looked down to kick it forward to my stick and lifted my head to see a moron crosscheck me into tomorrow landing square on my tailbone. I couldn’t move my legs for about 5 minutes.

      I quit hockey and came back 7 years later as a goalie where it’s safer. Love the game but if you pinheads want to kill each other out there, I’d rather sweep snow out of my crease.

      *Perfectly content as a HABS I/O member for 3 years 16 weeks… now forced here, grrrrrrr.

  46. HalifaxHabs says:

    Yeah our 4th line was non-existent last night, but man do we need Pleks back… it kills our offensive depth to have him out and have to move Eller, AK, and everyone else up a notch on the depth chart.

  47. Davery11Habsfan says:

    Yes, one frustrating game to watch when most of the Habs shots come from the outside. Ok, the Buffalo D played them well but geez, I just cannot understand why the Habs forwards will not fight to the front of the net and the “lets pass the puck around allot instead of shooting routine” – it’s way past getting old. Just can’t afford these types of games, at this time of year.

  48. Fiat says:

    No probs with last night game . No one got injured and we were in it until last minute against a hot hungry team that checked us very close . I don’t care what Enquivest stats were ,he looks good out there and just needs time to develop in pro hockey as Eller did . Why blame the fourth line when you lose one nothing ,i just don’t get it .Seems like both teams played well but the other guys lucked out on a deflected shot but we didn’t . BTW Moan is playing well and a complete game . He came closer then any other Cdn to scoring when he was in close couple of times ….

  49. HotHabs says:

    Mike, I can’t agree with your very early assessment of DD. He’s shown he can play at this level and his career has barely begun.
    Remember, Martin St.Louis was a small undrafted free agent, too, when Calgary picked him up.
    DD shows the signs of a very good 2-way top 6 forward.

    • JVF says:

      I’m in total agreement. Give this kid a little time and he could surprise a lot of people. Don’t rule him out because of his size or the fact he wasn’t drafter, Mike — Too many people have done that with him already… and lived to regret it!

    • G-Man says:

      DD is 24. Guess what? He has reached his prime physically. He can get better positionally but what you see now is what you get.
      He is definitely NOT a top six player. A 3rd line center capable of 40 points? Definitely.

      2011 is the Year of the Hab (can I still say that?)

      • HardHabits says:

        That still makes Gomez a 4th line centre on this team. At his cap hit that’s a hard pill to swallow.

      • myron.selby says:

        Fortunately what you’re saying is not really accurate. DD can continue to get stronger until at least 28 or 29. He can also hone and develop his skills (his shooting for both speed and accuracy). He can get quicker as a skater by working on his technique. His faceoff skills, stick-handling and anticipation can all be improved year over year until he hits 30 probably. Plus just playing in the league will improve his game (if he is capable of improving). He is after all still a rookie so he has a lot to learn yet.

        All you have to do is look at some of the great players coming out of US colleges. They don’t hit the league until they’re 23 and they continue to get better as they go along. While most players coming through junior tend to peak at about 28 those who played college hockey often play their best hockey around 32.

  50. RiverviewCanadien says:

    Well I like that statistical oddity. Beating Boston on Thursday will be wicked!

  51. RGM says:

    A good game with a bad outcome for the Habs. It was pretty fun to watch, and you got the sense after that late second period push that they were going to come out guns blazing in the third. The stat sheet says they had nine shot but maybe two or three of them were remotely menacing. So much for blazing guns.
    Great stuff out of the DD line and the beleaguered D, who kept Buffalo’s chances to a minimum. Price? Excellent all game long but the guy needs to shoot more often.

    Carey Price is All Hart! http://on.fb.me/CP31Hart
    Go Habs Go!

  52. StevieRay says:

    Cammi needs to step up

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