About last night …

And we’re back.
Technical difficulties knocked out HIO after the Canadiens beat the Rangers Sunday night.
So readers were spared ALN’s postgame insights.

Erik Cole summed things up nicely.

When someone suggested he had to be satisfied with a game in which his line had nine points, Cole said:

“You can’t be too satisfied when you’re sitting in the 12th seed. Ask me again in a month and a half when we’re in the playoff picture.”

On the other hand, it was a three-point back-to-back weekend. And the long suffering Bell Centre faithful were treated to the best performance by the home team since Lars Eller’s four-goal coming-out party on Jan. 4.

This game was more satisfying because the Rangers aren’t the Winnipeg Jets. The team that is tied with the Chicago Blackhawks atop the NHL standings should have represented a formidable challenge for the struggling Canadiens.

They didn’t.

John Tortorella said his team lacked “defensive structure”. Henrik Lundqvist was awful – three goals allowed on six shots during the second-period explosion that put the game away. And the Rangers couldn’t handle the Canadiens’ speed.

They had particular difficulty with Cole’s line. Diminutive playmaking wizard David Desharnais (14-9 on draws) mesmerized Ranger defenders and Max Pacioretty, who is emerging from his post-suspension funk, had two goals.

The concept of a slick, speedy centre with two big wingers also seemed to work with Tomas Plekanec’s new line (about his 43rd of the season, if you’re counting). Mike Blunden (a goal and five hits) and newcomer Rene Bourque (four hits and a taste for heavy traffic) complemented Plekanec (10-3 on faceoffs) effectively.

Blunden’s goal was off a perfect feed by Scott Gomez, who played his best game of an injury-shortened season. Gomez displayed the speed we knew he had and the playmaking ingenuity we weren’t so sure about in a productive (four SoG) 14 minutes of action.

The aforementioned Eller lost coverage twice on the sequence that led to John Mitchell’s goal for the Rangers and spent the second period on the bench. He was joined by Andrei Kostitsyn, who returned to action only when Travis Moen was hurt.

The defensive hero was Peter Budaj. Making his first start since the Canadiens’ Dec. 21 loss in Chicago, Budaj was flawless during a scoreless first period and solid thereafter.

Budaj was protected by his number-one defence pairing. Josh Gorges played 25 minutes, blocked three shots and was plus-2, as was P.K. Subban who played 24:59 and had five shots, one of which was blocked while the other four were on net, which is rare for the slapshot king.

The rest of the D was a mixed bag.

With Russia’s national team coach, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov in the house to watch him, Alexei Emelin played 13:37, less than either Yannick Weber or Raphael Diaz but more than Tomas Kaberle’s 8:33.

Hal Gill blocked four shots, but he was on the ice during a ridiculously long period of Rangers’ possession when Bell Centre fans – who are to hockey what the tomato-throwing crowd at La Scala is to opera – booed a team that was leading 3-1.

You can’t fault the boo-birds, though. Not with the kind of season this team is having.

The Canadiens still have a very steep hill to climb, and maybe things will look more promising after the six weeks to which Cole alluded.

They’re in 12th place, eight points out of a playoff spot.

(Shall we have a schadenfreude break and note that Pittsburgh’s win knocked the Leafs down to ninth.)

The January homestand has yielded seven points from five games. Washington is at the Bell Centre on Wednesday before the Canadiens play a back-to-back on the road in Pittsburgh and Toronto on Friday and Saturday.

As my man David Stubbs points out in his column, the playoffs are still a mathematical longshot.

But for one cold night in Montreal, the home team looked like a contender.


  1. Adidess says:

    Why do people want PK to fight? I don’t get it. As a fan of the team, I don’t want PK to fight, does that count? Last time I checked, clean hits are allowed in the game. If you check somebody with no malice and they’re mad, you shouldn’t have to fight them. I want my team to take the penalty and score.
    Not everybody thinks fighting is the answer, you know. It’s 2012, not the 1970s.
    Why does it matter, he’s 6 sth, 200 sth. I don’t know if he looks like one, but PK is not a goon. Get over it.

    • solomio says:

      Hey Adi…we’re not talking goons here…we’re talking turtles .
      Have you ever seen Cammi. Gionta, Desharnais, St. Louis, Briere , turtle? Do they fight….no. But they don’t fall on their hands and knees with their hands over their heads either.
      Do you catch what I’m saying here?

      “I figure PG has one or 2 moves left to bring the Habs that extra step closer to perhaps being the best in the league.” – Einstein

      • Adidess says:

        Solomio, seems like you were replying to me here as I was responding to you below…
        I think we can agree on the fact that Subban shouldn’t seek to become an agitator or a fighter. He’s too valuable to the team. I’d like to see him play as focused and smart as he did last night against the Rangers.
        In reference to fighting I may have characterized your position unfairly by saying you want him to fight. You’ve clarified that’s not your position, so apologies. But many here seem to want him to respond to invitations to fight almost every game. I don’t want to see it.

        • solomio says:

          Agreed. I don;t want to see him fight either. He is terrible at it and would surely get his ass severely kicked .
          Best he stick to playing hockey and try to keep out of trouble.

          “I figure PG has one or 2 moves left to bring the Habs that extra step closer to perhaps being the best in the league.” – Einstein

      • Badwich says:

        As I recall PK was without a helmet and on the ice amidst a tangle of flashing skates. People who take wise precautions generally live longer than those who don’t so cut the turtle crap. We need PK and I’d prefer to see him playing instead of on the injury list because opposing players don’t think hard hits are part of the game anymore.

        As for the Camshaft, he not only doesn’t fight he doesn’t backcheck, forecheck, or come within ten feet of any opposing player unless by accident.


    • issie74 says:

      I agree with you about clean hits and having to fight after delivering one is not necessary and I am happy to say we are in good company.Mike Babcock agrees,that is good enough for me.


  2. averagejoe says:

    If you remember this “small” team was one goal away from putting Boston away last year.I’m not bery happy with the way they handled the Cammaleri incident,I like him,he at had passion,he will be missed.If you going to increase your size uip front and are serious then if i’m PG I try my damest to get Getzlaf.
    This club is stacked with Defense prospects and some inconsisant forwards,if you package AK46,a defense propect and a draft pick to get Getzlaf do it.

  3. Richard B says:


    Richard B

  4. jmsheehy19 says:

    Boone, saying Lundqvist was awful is a case of only looking at the numbers.

    The first Patches goal was after being knocked down in his crease, his second was a rebound in which his dmen let Patches go free, and the DD goal was an unmarked man getting a pass 2 feet in front of the net. The Blunden goal was the only one he can be blamed on and even that was by no means an awful goal.

  5. Hammer says:

    The other day I was listening to TSN radio when they were interviewing Gagnon. He went on how PK was an embarrassment to the Canadiens because in his estimation he turtled after he hit Krejci in Boston. When the TSN announcer went to defend PK all Gagnon could say was that if it was Brisebois he wouuld have been roasted for it. I thought the hatchet job on PK was absolutely disgraceful. if this is what players have to put up with in Montreal is it any wonder some avoid the place like the plaque.

    • solomio says:

      C’mon hammer that PK incident WAS an embarrasment no matter which way you look at it. It (turteling ) was an ahole move.
      I saw nothing wrong with the hit,In fact when I saw it happen I said out loud…” beautiful ”
      Do you know that PK is 6’1 and 210lbs? Does that strike you as small, frail or the skinny kid on the beach?
      The TSN announcer of which you speak is a PK homeboy.
      IMO if it was Breezer who had turtled like that yes he would have been vilified. There should be no double standard, no matter what Gagnon was implying.
      The less turtles on this team the better and if I’m not mistaken perhaps PK and Emelin are the only 2. At least Emelin keeps his mouth shut.

      “I figure PG has one or 2 moves left to bring the Habs that extra step closer to perhaps being the best in the league.” – Einstein

      • von says:

        I’ll answer you the way the TSN announcer should have addressed Gagnon: Do you remember the goal the Habs scored to get back into that game?

        That’s right; It was on the power play that Subban drew after they tried to goon him into a fight. I guess, according to Gagnon and you, we would have been better off having Subban fight, maybe injuring himself, and probably get shut out. Brilliant stuff.

        At least the TSN announcer admitted he’s a PK homer. Gagnon clearly has a vendetta against Subban. I’ve heard him say the Habs should trade him before.

        22 years old? Check. Talented? Check. Envied by teams and fans around the league? Check. Well, I guess you’re right. We should trade him away so we can come back here in two years and complain about it.

        Maybe you both missed the game early in the season where PK fought against Marchand? Doesn’t strike you as the best fighter on the team, eh?

        PK’s talent is on the ice, not in the box serving five minute fighting majors.

        And, Emelin doesn’t fight because he has a plate in his cheek from a fight three years ago in the KHL.

        Now go turtle off, please, into your cave.

        “Obviously it would be great, but they don’t really hang conference titles in this rink. They raise Stanley Cup banners.” – Carey Price

        • solomio says:

          Get over yourself von . Did I say he should fight? Did I say Habs should trade him. I said he shouldn’t be turtling. And he shouldn’t be. And if you take a poll on this site the majority would agree. PK should stop turtling.
          Re Emelin. I know. And if you want to watch the fight that did it to him its on you tube.

          “I figure PG has one or 2 moves left to bring the Habs that extra step closer to perhaps being the best in the league.” – Einstein

          • Adidess says:

            Solomio, you keep using the word ‘turtling’ and you’re doing it on purpose. It’s an attempt to demean the fact that he won’t accept those constant challenges he receives to fight some angry sob.
            All I see is he purposely avoids fighting, unless it is his personal decision to drop the gloves. He was finishing a check on Krejci when Ference and some other guys took a run at him. He didn’t seem firm on his feet while protecting his face, so he fell and grabbed somebody’s legs while on the ice. That’s what I saw. He could have fought if he wanted, but I agree with his decision not to fight in this situation which allowed us to score a goal.
            This is a team where nobody excepts Moen will fight. For whatever reason, people have identified PK as the guy who should be fighting for their entertainment.
            He’s fought already this year. I haven’t seen Cole or Diaz fight, has anybody expressed such a strong desire to see one of them go at it a bit. Didn’t think so. Why PK?

        • Badwich says:

          You are so right about Gagnon. He has never had a good thing to say about PK. Time will force him to change his tune. The guy is a lightweight.


  6. Un Canadien errant says:

    Pierre Gauthier has publicly confirmed what many fans have been screaming for years: the Canadiens were too small as a team and need to get bigger. We saw that in the first and second period for long stretches when the big Rangers forwards (Brian Boyle, 6’7″, 244 lbs., Mike Rupp, 6’5″, 243 lbs.) kept the Canadiens bottled up in their zone with effective, aggressive forechecking. The smaller Montreal defencemen were a little bit skittish along the boards, their heads on a swivel, as they tried to escape with their lives and brain cells intact rather than the puck.

    Getting bigger is not an unalloyed boon though, as we saw what the Rangers size meant in terms of lack of mobility. Time and again, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais and even Scott Gomez, buzzed around the Rangers zone, their quickness, agility and artistry with the puck too much for the lumbering behemoths in white.

    It is clear that what the Canadiens have been lacking is not solely size and strength. If they had had more finish around the net, more production from the putative goal scorers on the team, and if the powerplay had not been so impotent, they would be comfortably in the playoff seeding and battling for position.

    I do agree that the Canadiens need to inject some size and toughness in their lineup, given the conditions that exist with referees overlooking slashes and hooks that were automatic calls after the lockout in 2005, and the Reign of Error of Bettman, Campbell and Jacobs. I wonder how much worse than Chris Campoli or Hal Gill or Tomas Kaberle Shane O’Brien would have had to be to not improve this squad.

    The Canadiens can skate and score the goon teams into submission, kind of like the Red Wings do, and like we’ve done frequently with the Bruins, but an important component of that formula is the scoring part.

    Tonight the #1 line played as such, after a few games of relatively meager production. This game should serve as the final nail in the coffin of the line juggling that was rampant this season. In the Post-Cammalleri era, the David Desharnais line has established itself as the best offensive line. Any mix and matching that might occur should be limited to the other lines. The Lars Eller line might be more susceptible to being broken up with the Travis Moen injury tonight, and the benching of its other two members. This might help find a proper fit for newcomer René Bourque, who played with conviction in his first game as a Glorieux and after a five-game suspension.

    Mike Blunden again proved his worth. In his last game against the Rangers in New York, he was assessed an undeserved interference penalty on top of a too-many-men penalty to the Canadiens bench, and he seemed to be punished for that by being made a healthy scratch and then sent back to Hamilton. We saw during the game that his size and enthusiasm is a complement to his smaller teammates. As long as he plays at the same pace, he should be in the lineup.

    Another positive point is an easy, assured win from Peter Budaj. Apparently he’s a very hard worker during practice, and his game may be improving. Certainly his confidence will improve after defeating the top team in the Eastern Conference, and hopefully the team will also believe in him and not think that unless Carey is in net they have no hope.

    How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?


  7. HABitual Fan says:

    Regarding the latest Subban bashing, what can we expect from the Toronto Sports Network (TSN)?

    “… but it’s better than cheering for the Leafs!”

  8. habs4ever says:

    Now is the time pierre to trade AK46. He doen’t fit in with this team. Lets at least get someone who shows up every night. I am sure we could work out a deal with Nashville. Sergei would love to play with his brother again.

  9. habs4ever says:

    Now is the time pierre to trade AK46. He doen’t fit in with this team. Lets at least get someone who shows up every night. I am sure we could work out a deal with Nashville. Sergei would love to play wiyh his brother again.

  10. PrimeTime says:

    What is the NYR record against playoff contending teams from the West. Is Boston the only formible team that can contend for the Cup in the East?

    TSN needs to drop this alleged Spitting incident. Stoops to La Presse level of journalism.

    Loving the Leafs fall to 9th where they belong – look for Burke to make a move this week moving either Schenn, Kadri, and/or a 1st draft pick for a top supposed top 6 C.

    What happened to the “dream management” team in Tampa? Not a knock on Guy or StevieY but to the Hab Fans who couldn’t help themselves from showing their usual ignorance. Another team that can’t wait for a couple of big contracts to rid from their cap.

    Always a Team Supporter!

  11. kerrgte says:

    I believe there is a glimmer of hope on the snowy horizon.

    Did I see a renewed determination last night? We did see a balanced offense. DD, Cole and Paccioretti (Italian spelling) threatened with each appearance. Eller and Plekanec lines looked competent too and kept the Rangers challenged and fully occupied.

    But what pleased me most was the new line of Blunden, Bourque and Gomez. Bourque is big and has a tasty soupcon of meanness. Blunden too is big, is getting better, and generously barrels into those who get in his way. And our usual whipping boy, Gomez, meant business as he moved the puck forward with purpose, and played a smart game. He played responsibly with his line mates, backing them up and complementing their offensive forays. The puck stuck to him too like in the old days. Presuming this line stays together, I’d like to christen them the BBG line (Big and Bloody Good).

    I’m buying what Erik C says. Let’s wait and see how we do in a few more upcoming games.

    Meanwhile, I’m sticking to my opener – there is a glimmer of hope at the edge of the snowy tundra.

  12. Phil C says:

    Yeah, TSN made me sick this morning, the worst kind of journalism (if you can call it that). Its bad enough when they focus only on the negative, but when they start making up the negative, it is shameful. It’s like they want to keep piling on to Montreal’s struggles, even though the real story was ‘Has Montreal turned their season around?” I will get extra satisfaction if Montreal goes on a bit of a run right now just to stick it to the Toronto Sports Network. Everyone is against the Habs right now, let’s hope the can find inspiration from it.

  13. kerrgte says:

    I believe there is a glimmer of hope on the snowy horizon.

    Did I see a renewed determination in the character of our boys last night? Last night the offense looked great. There was a balanced offense across the four lines. The DD line with Cole and Pacioretti threatened with each appearance. The Eller and Plekanec lines seemed competent too, and kept the Rangers challenged.

    But the biggest treat for me was seeing a new line that looks skilled with a tasty soupcon of meanness. With the intro of the rugged Bourque, an improving and sizeable Blunden who generously barrels into his victims, and a surprising Gomez, a new tough line lifted the team. In particular, I liked Gomez. Like in the old days, the puck stuck to him, and he moved it forward smartly to threaten with every shift. (If Randy keeps this line together, I’d like to christen them the BBG line (Big and Bloody Good.)

    I’m buying what Erik C said. Let’s wait and see how we fare against some other formidable opponents.

    Meanwhile, I’m sticking to my opening thought – there’s hope at the edge of the tundra.

  14. Thomas Le Fan says:

    TSN shows a scan down the bench and, as hockey players are wont to do, everyone is spitting. It’s only because Subban looks up at Zotto as he spits that sort of makes it looks like he spit at him but it’s a trick of perspective and another case of trying to make mountains from molehills.

  15. RiverviewCanadien says:

    Subban played one helluva 3rd period last night. If he can string more games like that together…that would be wicked.

    I feel bad for him this morning though. If it’s not one thing he has to deal with, it’s another.

    The media circus surrounding this team is a disgrace.

  16. Mattyleg says:

    What the EFFF is TSN doing?!
    They’ve got closeup JFK-style footage of PK spitting as Del Zotto skates past, and they’re making a HUGE deal out of it as a “PK Subban Alleged Spitting Incident”.

    This guy can’t hork a loogie without someone freaking out!

    They asked Del Zotto what he thought, and his response was: “Whaa?”

    They asked PK, and his answer was: “I know him. I wasn’t spitting at anybody.”

    What the hell is going on with the media? I mean really. It’s getting worse than Old Lady Macgregor’s knitting group. “Did you hear?!” followed by eyes rolling and wrinkled-lip tutting and tisking.

    I thought Cammy’s interview was bad enough, but this is over the top. Waaaaaay over.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  17. soperman says:

    Those twits at TSN were showing a shot of PK spitting and Del Zotto skating by the bench. They said, “Did Subban spit at Del Zotto?” Why do they make this crap up? Del Zotto didn’t know what they were talking about.

  18. avatar_58 says:

    I think if they aren’t going to be a playoff team they should play Budaj more. Give Price a break and let Budaj get back into the groove, seeing as kind of have this guy next season too.

  19. topher5468 says:

    If it’s not already hard being a Habs fan here in NY, now I have to deal with “Spit Gate”. It’s like my idiot Ranger fans friends are acting like sore losers. Oh well, Poor PK, guy just can’t seem to catch a break, first he slew foots Callahan and now this, Like the rangers are little Angels on Ice. This is why I can’t stand the Rangers and their fans, STFU

    “It’s not an obsession, It’s a way of life..”

  20. HabFanSince72 says:

    Bourque got #27?

    Too Soon. Too Soon.

    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

  21. CanadienBoy says:

    Say it before at 23 DD got better stats then both St-Louis and Briere at the same age ,the guys in the zone right now, Gomez sitting on the bench must be realizing how must is game as slip

  22. wow, you dont see the word ‘schadenfreude’ used in game recaps too often. heh.


  23. Propwash says:

    The team definitely looked like they were playing bigger.

    Don’t let the wultures getcha.

  24. G-Man says:

    This morning I bask in the glow of the Giants dispatching the Packers with extreme prejudice and a dismantling of the Rangers by the Habs. Budaj and co rose to the occasion and gave the Rangers too much to handle. Bourque’s presence is already felt, but benching Eller and AK was a bad move by RC, imo.

    All this is nothing compared to the bs TSN spouted last night about Subban. Habs management should demand a retraction or apology. If not, John Luu should be banned. No access at any time.


    Tanking- The Losers way of winning.

    • Phil C says:

      I agree that Habs’ management needs to action with TSN on this. TSN needs the Habs more than Montreal needs them, so its its time to use that leverage. The players would appreciate the support from above.

  25. HardHabits says:

    The area where the Habs need to improve now is on defence.

    Gorges, Subban and Emelin look good moving forward.

    Gill is on his last legs and has become a PK specialist.

    Weber and Diaz have elements they bring but neither is a towering hulk capable of hitting big or driving fear into the hearts of forwards. Diaz is the better of the two IMO.

    Kaberle at 10 minutes or less per game means he isn’t worth his cap hit and is a defensive liability.

    Markov hasn’t played in over 2 seasons.

    Campoli is not that great either.

    I still think the Habs will need to bury Gomez over the summer (possibly trade him at the deadline if he continues to play like he did last night) and hopefully trade Gionta as well.

    Budaj finally looked like a solid back-up.

    More work is needed to be done in the off-season.

    If the Habs look like they can make the play-offs I hope they don’t make any moves to shore up the ranks that entail giving up prospects or picks. However if they are out of by then they should lay this season to rest and start the process of selling, look towards the draft and put in place the process of making this team a real contender for a deep play-off run and not just merely for a last minute play-off berth.

    EDIT: BTW. Loved Rene Bourque’s hit on Carl Hagelin and how Blunden came in to level the pay-back playing field. Size matters.

    • Ian Cobb says:

      David, I agree with most of your post, got to go out this morning or I would debate just a couple of things.

    • CanadienBoy says:

      Can help thinking without a big D to handle Bolye type players Markov if returning will only get hurt again

    • G-Man says:

      Trading Weber and Campoli for 1 stay at home Dman with some size and hitting ability would be a welcome move right now.

      RC has to learn to roll 4 lines and stop nailing players to the bench. Hockey is a game of mistakes. Keep them to a minimum, but let’s keep seeing Eller get a regular shift. AK, too.

      It really was nice to see Bourque splat Hagelin. Order us up another 50 or so hits like that, please.


      Tanking- The Losers way of winning.

      • REB says:

        We have Nash, Tinordi, Beaulieu, Pateryn and several other prospects that are 1-2 years away…and they are all BIG. If we do make a trade, let’s not mortgage the future, and don’t make the contract for too long.

  26. EastCoastJoe says:

    The Habs just need to rinse and repeat the past 5 games. Play .700 hockey and they’ll have 94 points. Should sneak them into 7th or 8th. No problem.

    And I agree, give Budaj another start. He deserves it and Price can use the rest anyway.

    • HabFanSince72 says:

      Do you know how many teams have .700 hockey record since the start of the season?

      One. The Rangers.

      Vancouver, Chicago, San Jose, Boston, Philly … all under .700.

      We have to play better in the second half than Boston and Vancouver did in the first half just to sneak into the playoffs.

      Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

  27. RiverviewCanadien says:

    What is the latest on Plekanec?

  28. Ian Cobb says:

    We will have the best young team in the league next year. Just a few contracts to move out and do not sign any contract for more than 5 million. Spread the cap over the whole roster more evenly and make players earn their money only up to 5 million.

    You can never buy a cup, but you can build a team that will work for each other. Start them at 1 million and if they earn it pay them 2,3,4,and 5 as they grow in value. Those that want more can just walk and never be on a winner.

    • Ian Cobb says:

      I want the GM job,In one year I promise a contender every year, with a cup or two along the way. Under me every drafted player would know how he will earn his security and long term pay check over his career with us.

  29. Marc10 says:

    Props to Budaj. He should get the next start.

  30. Ian Cobb says:

    G-man . I get a sign also at times, blocking me. So I click on a story or two below to get on the site, then go to the top of the page and click on HOME to get to the current page. Hope this helps.

  31. smiler2729 says:

    Going for a playoff spot:

    Would you rather have Yannick Weber, Raphael Diaz and Tomas Kaberle rounding out your 6 defensemen
    Roman Hamrlik, Jaro Spacek and James Wisniewski?

    Such is the Vision of The Goat

    Jack Edwards sucks chowdah chunks

    • Lawrencetown Liquor Pigs says:

      Ha! Swap Diaz for Wiesnewski, spend the saved $5 million on a bionic knee for Markov and we have a deal.

      Dear Mtl Canadiens,
      Please beat Boston to tie the season series. You are about to cost me three bottles of rum in a little over a year.

      • Ian Cobb says:

        Michael ! You just might be saved by the Hab’s from being a drunk, let someone else drink your rum this year. Next year you will have Champagne my friend!

    • GenerationYHabs says:

      Except where was PG supposed to find the extra 6 million that would have been needed to sign those 3?

      -Weber, Diaz and Kaberle- total about 6 million in cap

      -Hamrlik, Spacek and the Wiz- 12.8 mil

      Not to mention the extra term we would have had to give to the aging Hamrlik.

    • RetroMikey says:

      Hamrlik and Wisniewski….Spacek no!
      Weber and Diaz??? LMAO! You gotta be kidding me! They can’t compare to the iron horses in the Hammer and Wiz!

      Time to tank and rebuild this team.

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

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.