About Sunday afternoon … (super-short Super Bowl edition)

Unlike the evident selflessness and esprit de corps that have propelled your Montreal Canadiens into a 6-2 start that ABSOLUTELY NO ONE was expecting, the prevailing ethos at the modest suburban abode of the ol’ hockey blogger can be summed up in three words:
What about me?
So I will leave it to the Commentariat – brilliant hockey experts, every mother’s son and daughter – to pick over the stat sheet of a fifth straight home-ice win.
I’m banging out a few thoughts and then joining the rest of the civilized world, parked in front of our flat-screen TVs.

Here’s the game in a nutshell:

Ottawa, which had a day off on Saturday, dominated the third-period against a team playing their second game in as many afternoons.

As the Canadiens clung to the 2-1 lead Erik Cole had given them some 48 minutes earlier, Craig Anderson was on the bench as the Senators pressed for an equalizer.

Faceoff in the Canadiens zone. On the ice in red jerseys: Josh Gorges, Raphael Diaz, Erik Cole, David Desharnais and – wait for it – Lars Eller.

Yeah, the guy recently paroled from Michel Therrien’s doghouse.

Eller played 18 minutes against Buffalo and had a goal and two assists.

His reward? With Max Pacioretty miraculously back in the lineup, Eller was bumped down to the fourth line, centring Travis Moen and Colby Armstrong. His ToI against Ottawa was less than 11 minutes.

But there he was with the game on the line, as Therrien employed the old Scotty Bowman technique of using two centres for defensive-zone faceoffs.

This is a coach who gives players second chances. And Therrien talked to Ryan White before the game, pumping the fourth-liner’s tires and telling him he’s part of the plan.

And White will be needed.

Through their unexpectedly hot start, the Canadiens have avoided injury … save for the Max Pacioretty hangnail they expect us to believe was an appendectomy. The good health can’t last in this season’s crazily compressed schedule – there’s another back-to-back in midweek – and everyone will get some playing time.

Therrien was very adroit in protecting the one-goal lead. The coach moved Moen up to Rene Bourque’s spot on the Tomas Plekanec line late in the game. Brandon Prust played with Armstrong and Eller.

But with four minutes to go in the period, the coach had Bourque out with Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher – a nice vote of confidence in the Flying Freshmen.

If Therrien has screwed anything up so far this season, I haven’t noticed.

OK, maybe Carey Price should have started in Ottawa. Having bested Martin F. Brodeur and Ryan Miller, Price added Craig Anderson to the list of hot goaltenders he’s defeated. As has been the case in every game except the loss to Toronto and the win over Winnipeg, Price was lights-out against the Senators, stopping 32 shots and getting plenty of puck-clearing help from a six-man defence corps that didn’t miss Kaberle.

Gorges blocked seven shots, running his league-leading total to 29. Alexei Emelin, however, did not lead the Canadiens in hits, as Cole – who came to life this weekend – had six of the team’s 28.

There’s lots more to chew over … including piss-poor officiating that hurt (that absurd goalie interference call on Tomas Plekanec) and helped (an even worse call on Jacob Silfverberg, negating the tying goal).

The PK pitched another shutout and was perfect on the weekend.

But for the first time this season, the Canadiens power-play took and 0-for.

The Canadiens improved their Northeast Division record to 2-2.

Next up: Boston at the Bell Centre on Wednesday.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m ready for some football.

• The Canadiens swept Super Bowl weekend for the first time since 2006, when they rang up back-to-back shutouts of Boston (2-0) and Philadelphia (5-0).




  1. jeffhabfan says:

    I Like the way the team looks this year biggest thing is they are alot tougher.Yes Ian the Refs are killing the flow of the game.

    • Pembroke Hab says:

      I like they way they look as well……. so far. Let’s just see how things go as anything can happen. I get a little nervous with a ‘worst to first’ senario. Regardless, love the drive and determination they are showing this year!

      This is my Signature, don’t mess with it

      • nunacanadien says:

        I agree, just have to get some bigger tougher guys now to protect our protector Prust. Actually Prust and others have shown the way the way NHL players really work. We need more real NHL players, not just the tiny tykes we’ve been getting. Now we need someone to protect not only Prust but Bouillion, sad eh? Only the habs would have to get a body guard for the body guards….if only they would have got a real body guard to begin with. I know goon hockey is not Montreals style of late, but hey we have had some great players before who could goon it out ala Robinson style though, so it is not impossible to conceive.

  2. Marc10 says:

    Yep. Great post. The one year signings are giving us value. Cube has been great and Armstrong hasn’t cost a win.

    We’re not injured right now and there are plenty of spare parts hanging around. That could change and alter the outcomes. I know March is going to be brutal as the schedule turns on us, but if the Boys make hey now, it won’t matter.

  3. krob1000 says:

    I found it interesting that before the game Friedman said that Bergevin when he took on the job received more calls about Eller than any other player…..followed by BOurque. OIpposing GM’s obviously see Eller’s potential and must have noticed last year that Rene Bourque was not himself.

  4. Lafleurguy says:

    Second last!
    “May you live in interesting times.”

  5. Lafleurguy says:

    This is a well-worn topic from last year, but it is relevant to this season too. We need a physical defenceman who can drop ’em if necessary. Larry Robinson II is a pipe dream. (Big Bird rarely got close to 100 PIM, and probably had fewer fights in his career than Prusty had last year).

    It was obvious the Senator forwards charged into the Habs zone without fear. PK’s return helped (see result of first Sens game); Tinordi and Beaulieu(?) are honing their skills; a trade is the most logical fix.

    “May you live in interesting times.”

    • Marc10 says:

      Cube is physical and can drop them… but yes, he’s too small. There just aren’t many Lyle Odeleins out there.

      We’d need to go through lists of teams that aren’t going to make it to find the guy out there that’s going to help. I’d look out West.

      – Columbus
      – Dallas
      – Anaheim
      – Calgary
      – Colorado

      They all come to mind as teams that will retool. See one in there?

  6. CCL says:

    They’re capitalizing on their chances with 4-balanced lines. that’s the difference I see so far this year. working as a team instead of one line like last year ….. better coaches and management.

    If we can stay away from injuries. This team will do well.

    • Habfan10912 says:

      All that is true but from a pure observation point the difference in getting and moving the puck out of our own end compared to last year is night and day. Credit Markov and the improvement of Diaz and Emelin and the addition of Frankie B for that plus a change in system. We no longer are chasing the puck around in our own end for long stretches at a time.


  7. remi_10069 says:

    Biggest surprise for me so far is Bourque. He’s skating his ass off, going to the net hard, reminds me of cole after he hit his stride last year. Plek and Gionta are on fire too. Our D still looks a little shaky, love Boullion but he’s a tad slow.


    • HabinBurlington says:

      Don’t know if you heard, but before the game Elliote Friedman reported that MB sat down with Bourque to discuss the new season. And apparantly MB told him just go to the net hard. Bourque confided to MB he had terrible year, adjusting to Montreal etc… and I think between his improved health and comfort with Montreal now, we are seeing a return to the talent he is known to have.

      MB also knew Bourque from his days in Chicago.

      • H.Upmann says:

        That’s awesome! His going to the net has been a big plus that I was hoping to see from the likes of AK46 or Tender One. Hope Bourque keeps it going

    • Lafleurguy says:

      Remember Bourque needed surgery, I’m guessing it was a sports hernia, back as recently as Aug./Sept.?

      “May you live in interesting times.”

      • HabinBurlington says:

        He made the comment it was giving him problems before the trade, and he kept trying to play through it.

        Makes me wonder what kind of physical was done for him upon arrival, perhaps Dr. Recchi pulled a fast one on us.

    • Marc10 says:

      I agree. He’s been solid and your example shows the value of a guy like MB who was known as a great teammate in his playing days.

      Imagine the Ghost doing this or Bob post family tragedy. It’s a culture shock. The expectations are the same from management, but they’re obviously light years better in their treatment of players as the guys are no longer dealing with introverts and social recluses.

      Some people made fun of the ‘No Excuses’ posted in the change room, but hockey is a simple game and simple games don’t do trade in subtlety. Management’s messages are straightforward and that’s obviously working for these guys.

      Go to the net. No Excuses.

      (I would guess PK, Eller, White, Kabs or DD got similar simple, direct feedback about what they needed to do to adjust. The proof is in the pudding… This team is night and day with the slackers we saw last year!)

  8. HabinBurlington says:

    So when does Jay Feaster get into complete panic mode in Calgary and trade away their 1st round pick this season for a centerman which they desperately need? (Maybe even one with Viking roots)

    • Loonie says:

      If there’s a team in the league that’s needed a slap in the face at some point over the last five years, it’s the Flames.

      How they haven’t realized that a complete rebuild was in order is beyond me.

      • HabinBurlington says:

        The fact they continued the push over the course of the off season for continuing with the current roster, almost has Feaster in a position where he must continue.

        I do agree, they should have traded Kipper and Iginla last year already.

        I also wasn’t being serious about trading Eller there, but Feaster must be looking for a center. He walked into the Cup Winning Tampa team much like Burke did in Anaheim.

    • AllHailTheFlower says:

      Or maybe, if Montreal is willing to finally let its young talent mature instead of trading it away, Calgary might be interested in a centre with Czech roots?

      • Loonie says:

        As long as the team’s contending Plekanec shouldn’t be moved in my opinion.

        If we get to a point where Eller or Desharnais are his equal or better, by all means, pull the trigger. But as long as this team is good and those two young players aren’t ready, no reason to move him.

        • AllHailTheFlower says:

          Agreed. And I don’t want it to sound as though I’d be willing to pull the trigger on a Plekanec trade the second another team come knocking – I love that guy! I just get a little tired of people constantly throwing out Eller’s name as trade bait, just because he didn’t become the messiah under the stifling and directionless coaching of Martin/Cunneyworth. However, Elliot Friedman made an interesting comment during the Hotstove on Sunday – Marc Bergevin said that when he took over as GM, most of the calls he took initially regarding possible trades were enquiries regarding the availability/price of one Lars Eller.

          • HabinBurlington says:

            Heard that as well. I like Eller alot, it just may take an injury or something before the best spot on this roster is found for him. I think eventually he should be with both Gally’s, but for now they need Prust as babysitter.

          • jedimyrmidon says:

            That’s not surprising. I’ve said it before, but Lars Eller is in a similar position that Cody Hodgson was. Teams are probably hoping to pry Eller away for cheap and emerge with a solid 2nd line center. It would be a mistake for the Habs to trade him (unless the return is ridiculous).

      • Ozmodiar says:

        I hope you’re talking about Pribyl.

    • Habfan10912 says:

      Just saw a rumor the Flyer might be seeking Iginla in a trade.


    • Marc10 says:

      They’re in a great position to offload vets and cash in. You tank the next two years and grab all stars at the draft. It’s a no brainer and they’re way past due on making that call.

  9. commandant says:

    I can’t wait for Wednesday. Show down for first place (early as it may be).

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

    • Phil C says:

      I can’t wait either, a real measuring stick game to see if this team is for real. A good test for the Gally line as Boston’s third line is as good as any in the league. I think the speed on the Habs’ RW is going to give Chara fits, so that will be fun to watch. 

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