About this afternoon … with audio

Tomas-Kaberle
New Canadien Tomas Kaberle takes a shot during Saturday’s pregame warmup.
Andy Marlin, NHLI via Getty Images
If your Montreal Canadiens manage to turn around their disappointing-to-date season, will we look back to this as the turning point?
Carey Price, who has struggled in shootouts this season, stopped a penalty shot by Zach Parise, who is 6-for-7 in shootouts.
In doing so, Price – who was great again in making 28 saves – bailed out his buddy Josh Gorges.
And isn’t about time we acknowledged that Pierre Gauthier is a genius?

OK, I was kidding about that last part.

But with everybody and his uncle second-guessing the trade, Tomas Kaberle brought a struggling power-play to life.

And he matched the two assists Jaro Spacek had for Carolina Friday night.

Moreover, Kaberle formed a decent defence pairing with Alexei Emelin, the duo that RDS’s Chantal Machabée has nicknamed “Ka-boom!”

I’m listening to Gaston Therrien on L’Antichambre predicting that if Kaberle can elevate the PP from terrible to decent, the Canadiens will make the playoffs.

We’ll see.

And to Kaberle’s critics – and I’m one of ‘em – who says “hey, it’s only one game”, François Gagnon has this:

“Would you be saying that if he’d played a bad game?”

So for now, let’s suspend concerns about how well Kaberle will be playing in 2013-’14, the last year of hi contract.

The ex-Leaf./ex-Bruin/ex-Hurricane knows how to play the point on the power-play. Kaberle gains the zone, walks the blueline, makes smart passes, doesn’t panic, opens up P.K. Subban for shots on the other point …

What’s not to like?

And with Chris Campoli ready to play, the Canadiens have extra bodies on D as they await the return of Andrei Markov.

Barring injury, it could be a while until we see Yannick Weber back there again.

I’m an Emelin guy. His game against New Jersey was a microcosm of the Russian Bear’s season: Rough start, largely attributable to being moved to the right side to play with Kaberle, but he got better as the game progressed.

Will Emelin or Raphael Diaz – who took a late penalty in a one-goal game – sit for Campoli?

Will Gauthier make another deal … perhaps for someone who could add some sand to one of the softest fourth lines in the league?

The picture up front is clearer. Brian Gionta may be out a while, but there is some depth.

The Two and a Half Men line was superb in New Jersey. Jacques Martin must resist his inclination to tinker and leave Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty on the wings with the brilliant David Desharnais, who was a mind-blowing 14-4 on faceoffs against the Devils.

The Lars Eller line, with Travis Moen and Louis Leblanc today, is drawing defensive assignments: against Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk in New Jersey, against the Sedin twins and SAlex Burrows when Vancouver was at the Bell Centre.

Eller is also gaining penalty-kill experience (1:50 against NJ), and this will make him a complete player and an asset to the team for years to come.

Now we come to the headache.

With Gionta out, Andrei Kostitsyn was moved to the Tomas Plekanec line against the Devils.

Now, just to astonish members of the Commentariat who think I pick on AK46, I think he played a solid game.

Pleks was 8-11 on draws, great on the P.K. and tried to make plays for his revolving-door linemates.

But what the heck is going on with Mike Cammalleri?

He’s not scoring. He’s not helping the PP. He’s a liability in the defensive zone.

Is Cammalleri pouting because he’s been moved off the DD line?

Is his confidence wavering?

The picture will become clearer as the Canadiens play three home games against the Islanders, Flyers and Devils.

Gionta won’t play during the homestand, which means Louis Leblanc will stay around for a while.

And we’ll see the lines that played against New Jersey … at least until the Islanders open the scoring Tuesday night.

Safest prediction: Tomas Kaberle will be on the power play.

Pending Saturday night action, the Canadiens have scaled the dizzying heights of ninth place.

They have as many points – 31 – as eighth-place Washington, but the Caps have played fewer games.

Grab the Gravol: the roller-coaster ride continues.

•  •  •

The loss dropped Martin Brodeur’s record against the Canadiens to 40-18-5.

We’re stripping him of the coveted F.

353 Comments

  1. LeesaChristman says:

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  2. cdhc says:

    Why do so many care so much about contracts and cap space? If cap space is a problem, the Habs have the balls and pocket change to bury Gomez in the minors. Its about winning and they will do what they have to do to make cap room. Who cares if Kaberle is signed 2 years after this one? If he plays the way he did in TO his cap hit is more than acceptable…..and he may play better than he did there – then whats to say??

    • kholdstare says:

      I agree, he obviously made a difference in the very first game he played. People are crying for the team to do something, then when they do, they say its the craziest thing they have ever heard of. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out a player of Kaberle’s experience alone would make us better. As far as his contract goes I dont think it’s crazy at all. That’s the cost of an experienced veteran.

      • Natrous says:

        Don’t forget that Kaberle is on the decline of his career (admit it), and by having him in the roster for another two years at $4.25M per represents the possibility of losing one of this summer’s RFA’s, like Eller/PK/Price/AK/Gorges among others.

        Great, he scored two points in his first game. If we end up losing any of the aforementioned players – even AK – because we don’t have the cap space, I don’t care how many points he gets this year, I’m still going to hold it against PG and Kaberle.

    • SteverenO says:

      IF anyone here thinks that Kaberle is the answer to this teams power play woes, they have either not watched a lot of hockey, or they are wearing Habs colored glasses.

      The reason the power play was better with Kaberle is that the coach gave more ice time to his played better power play performers. Gionta was injured and Pacioretti played 4 minutes and 28 seconds with the man advantage. The previous game (pre-kaberle) Pacioretti only manged to see 20 seconds of ice time with the man advantage.

      The problems with our power play are for twofold. Martin rarely uses the right players (Gomez has played 37 minutes of ice time and the Habs have scored only one goal in that entire span.) Does that surprise anybody? .

      The second problem is systemic. Our power play system is one where our players don’t skate very much, especially away from the puck. If our players moved around more they would not be so easily covered and they would get more chances.

      Remember the days when we had a power play. we used to get so many “back door” opportunities?. Whens the last time you saw one of those?

      There is is little point in discussing the personnel, without a new coach this team will never be as good as they can be, and more importantly, they will never be exciting to watch.

      I like Carey Price as much as the next guy, but I would like to see us win a game every now and then because we outplayed another team, out-shot them , out-passed them and out-skated them. Not because we blocked more shots and our goalie was the first star.

      Follow the ” Fire The Coach ” channel on You Tube. A new video will be published after each game, pointing out the Coaches major gaffes. The biggest problem is deciding which ones to highlight.
      http://youtu.be/ZVb2CrFC7E4

      Just because we win some games does not mean that the coach had a good game. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

      Its hard to remember a game when the coach actually distributed ice time based on the players performance and merit. It seems that it`s the salaries on this team that determine how much playing time a player gets. Its annoying to watch and even more annoying that he continues to be allowed to operate with impunity despite repeatedly making the same errors in judgement game after game.

      If you are truly a Habs fan speak out! Let the ownership know that you are unhappy with a team that is 25th out of 30 teams in goals per game.

      Our team is small and fast (for the most part) we should be near the leaders in gaols scored. Price is a great goalie? LETS TRY AND SCORE 4 OR 5 GOALS EACH GAME AND SEE HOW MANY CAN BEAT US.

      I am sick and tired of trying to win every game 1 to nothing, or 2 to 1 in overtime. Its just not the way the Montreal Canadiens are supposed to play hockey.

      Lets get the pride back. Lets make the game fun again.

      Lets play Hockey the way it was meant to be played. Fire Wagon Hockey. Flying Frenchmen!

      Fire the coach http://youtu.be/ZVb2CrFC7E4

      Regards,

      Steve O.
      Qlik View – Data Discovery.
      Every team needs it- Every coach needs it.
      Every fan needs it!

      http://litcosys.ca/QV_videos.html

  3. kholdstare says:

    I find it disappointing journalists can go on rants about someone, then when the player in question has a good game they can write how well they did, (without really admitting they may have jumped the gun with a reactionary article) and still reserve the right to say I told you so when said player has a bad game in the future.

  4. Rickly33 says:

    I just hope all of you can remember what you said, when things turn around, and they will. I think JM and now PG has to go, I think cammi as well. The biggest issue is the style that JM brings, not one player on that team is built to or has ever played that style until JM forced it down their throats. I think they need a little freedom to create, this is the most predictable team on the ice. But having all that, I believe they’ll turn things around, but if PG trades Emelin I will have to chose another team, unless they get something real special back.

  5. jimmyb001 says:

    all i can say is “my god” how you overrate this team. You have Gomez (no goals since Feb 11) a player (Markov) who has payed 7 games in 2 years and overated camelleri. Guess you like both PG and JM also.

    billy jackson

    • cdhc says:

      or, we can flip this (and agree with your criticisms of Gomez and Cammalleri), but what say you about:
      Carey Price – best goalie in world
      Markov – my rose colored glasses say he comes back and makes 4 million people eat their words about the contract Gauthier bone headedly signed – don’t judge until you know the final outcome – which we don’t so pissing and moaning does absolutely no good
      Eller – going to be very very good
      Emelin – see above – Eller
      Subban – one of best D in league – he’ll start playing that way again
      Cole – another DUMB Gauthier signing no?
      Kaberle – the mother of all brain dead signings – no? ahem
      And tons of other positives going on inside the dressing room. Some bad stuff and lots of good. Works for me.

  6. G-Man says:

    Beating the Devils in NJ with Brodeur in nets may just be the tonic this team needs to start producing wins regularly. I coitinly hope so. :)

  7. Mr_MacDougall says:

    Wow, Habs are stacked on the Back end (Markov *hopefully, PK, Emelin, Kaberle, Georges, Tinordi, Beaulieu) and Price in goal. Some great pieces up front (assuming AK is signed… AK, Pleks, Cole should be 3 solid top six guys, while Eller, Pac and “plug” make a nice third)

    In my opinion, what stands in the way of this team competing with the leagues elite, is the 18.5 million dollar top line. Gomez, Gionta, and Cammi are major let downs collectively (although Cammi had amazing clutch performances in the Post season).

    Just out of curiosity, what specific player(s) would you guys like to see brought in via trade or in a couple years when the $18.5mill is off the books? *To create a Top Line!

  8. Tremblant Habs Fan says:

    I guess everyone was right, what a great trade.

  9. HabinBurlington says:

    In reading about the new Leafs ownership, one thing comes to mind. If the NHL allows Bell to maintain its ownership in Montreal and be a big player in the Leaf ownership, Geoff Molson becomes a winner. He would now have two partners (Thomson and BCE) who provided significant money so he could own the Habs, and now they both become non voting owners with in essence little to no say on how the team is run.

    Now that is how you run a business partnership, get their money and have the league tell them they can’t make decisions. Obviously I am overgeneralizing the situation, but reality is these partial owners can’t be overly involved.

  10. HabinBurlington says:

    Some reasons why Kaberle may revive his career in Montreal.

    I have mentioned previously that Kaberle and his relationship with the Leafs really began to sour when Ron Wilson arrived in Toronto. Kaberle is a loyal person, and he felt he would be a Leaf for his career, and one of the first things Wilson did was try embarrass Kaberle into playing better, it backfired and it created a fracture in the relationship.

    Boston gave him a chance at a cup, but the style of play was never a fit, and Carolina was probably just the most money offered.

    However, in Montreal Kaberle may see something he used to love in Toronto. A passionate fan base, an original 6 team and most importantly a feeling of being wanted. Add to that, he has always loved playing in Montreal, kind of reminds me of what COle said as well, here is article from a Toronto writer who knew Kaberle well.

    http://www.torontosun.com/2011/12/10/zize-matters-montreal-excites-kaberle

  11. Da Hema says:

    Stop being such a donkey’s ass….

  12. Richrebellion says:

    Just great to get the big win and for Kaberle to prove all the media and fans who think they know hockey wrong. It is only 1 game but our power play looked better than it has all season and it scored against the top ranked pk unit in the league (they’ve only let in 6 goals all year) So many 1 goal games this year the habs have lost because they haven’t been able to take advantage of pps. This team is top 10 in 5 on 5 scoring, PK, and against and if our PP gets going I don’t see how were not a top 10 team in the league. This team has a lot of potential just funny how people can’t see it, in this league the difference between the top and the bottom is a few wins and the habs have lost way too many games by 1 or 2 goals. Kaberle and eventually Markov will make all the difference and I can easily see the Habs finishing near the top of the league! Just wait and see

    • The Cat says:

      I dont want to be a negative nellie but its only one game. It aint rare for a recently acquired player to have a good first game. Im not saying youre melodramatic, its just that Kaberle has went from being a ‘useless piece of crap player’ to a ‘pretty damn good player’ in the span of 48 hours in the eyes of most members here.

      [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

      • Lawrencetown Liquor Pigs says:

        Diddo. For this trade to be a “Gauthier Win”, we need to see that Kaberle 60-80 games a year until his contract expires.

        ____________________________________________________
        They lost me 2 quarts of rum, better make it up next year with a cup!

      • GrimJim says:

        No, you’re being fair. It’s too early to tell either way.
        I often wonder when reading the posts here what would be “success” for a trade like this, or any managerial move really…

  13. idle says:

    What the hell did I miss tonight?? Sounds like things got a bit colourfull…

  14. VancouverHab says:

    If I may be permitted a Spock-type mind-meld, the Molsons & Gauthier look at the team with rational eyes and see a roster that looks very strong–even winningly strong. They away the salary cap-babble that agitates a certain type of fan, and strip away mutatble matters of rcent performance and see this:

    – Price in goal:
    Thoroughbred.

    – Kaberle on D
    – P.K. on D
    – Gorges on D
    – Emelin on D
    – Markov on D

    Very good 5 defensemen…with long-term promise: Gill, Diaz also advantageous.

    – Cole
    – Max Pac
    – Pleks
    – Gionta
    – Gomez
    – Moen

    Winning forwards with mix of proven elite status, strength, speed a youth-age mix.

    – AK, Cammi: possibly good to great.

    That’s a reasonable take on feeeling hopeful about the season, injuries aside, free of ‘attitude’. By FAR the best looking Habs squad (on paper) I’ve seen in years & years.

  15. RiverviewCanadien says:

    “Kaberle created that play,” said Pacioretty, who scored his 11th goal of the season. “He brought two people to him and gave me a chance. He’s really going to help us.”

    I am a huge fan of Max Pacioretty. What’s not to get excited about when he is talking like this?

  16. Trisomy 21 says:

    Not a big Jay Feester fan, I thought his comments about Edmonton’s rebuild were stupid and he’ll be eating his words next year. But he’s doing the after hours show tonight, and I can guarantee that PG would never in his life do that.

  17. ProHabs says:

    Anyone out there feeling bad about Chara hurting his leg.

  18. CranbrookEd says:

    Eller fined $2500 for his boarding penalty a week ago . . . really . . . another bizarre decision by the NHL . . .

    CranbrookEd
    Mr. Beliveau: “Pure Pak mais oui”! . . . What ever happened to Johnny Jelly-Bean!?

  19. Timo says:

    I don’t know if I got used to it or what… but on the most nights NHL product is incredibly boring. Watching Flames-Oilers game… you know, the other rivalry, and what a snooze fest.

    NHL seriously needs to go back to about 24 or so teams. The product will be so much better.

    • CranbrookEd says:

      It is indeed, a diluted product . . . suppose that a sunshine team or three less would certainly help – that does not of course, mean relocating them, just eliminating them!

      CranbrookEd
      Mr. Beliveau: “Pure Pak mais oui”! . . . What ever happened to Johnny Jelly-Bean!?

    • Richrebellion says:

      If anything there is more talent right now than there has ever been before and the oilers posses some great youth. The reason you might find it boring is all the trapping teams are doing. Teams have begun to realize that if they aren’t stacked like Philly or Pittsburgh they’ll just use the trap and play a boring style of play to win. Look at teams like Minnesota and Florida both have used the trap very effectively this year and sit a top the NHL

    • Lawrencetown Liquor Pigs says:

      That’s why Bettman wants them out of the Olympics. Two weeks every 4 years of proving what a sham/scam his product is.

      ____________________________________________________
      They lost me 2 quarts of rum, better make it up next year with a cup!

    • Hab-Q says:

      It’s all trapping and cycling in 40- second shifts.

      Everyone plays thatsame style so it gets boring and predictable.

      Certainly 24 teams would showcase the better talent- I’d even go a step further and eliminate the 4th line by reducing roster sizes.

      ______________________________________________________
      “I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out”

      ~Rodney Dangerfield

  20. RiverviewCanadien says:

    @sholi

    I agree. Took me a little while to get used to trade, but i liked it.

    Posters here have been screaming for getting rid of Hamrlik (who I supported) and Spacek (not a big fan, but was excited when they signed him).

    Both gone, team is younger (which everyone wanted), the boys are doing ok. Except…

    Gomez, Cammalleri. Lot of cash tied up there for so little point production.

  21. TOP DAWG says:

    My boy Carey made me proud today! What a great save on the pen shot

    “If you’re not the TOP DAWG, the view never changes”

  22. DorvalTony says:

    I love being right.

    ——————————–
    “The fish is rotten from the head.”

  23. Rack time, damn, it’s a hard Halak to break.

    Shane Oliver
    http://www.Sholi2000.com
    Brandon, MB,Canada
    R7B 2R7
    hockey@sholi2000.com
    Ph- 204 724 8418

  24. Boomer says:

    im gonna call it cammy for a top prospect and/or draft picks

    Boom baby!

  25. I spent all of yesterday in the arena here (Dec tourney) and 13 s today, missed the trade, and all the “I’m gonna hang myself and I’m a Leaf fan forever” replies.. and just finshed watching the Habs game 10 minutes ago.

    I looked at the deal, took a minute to think about it and wrote this this morning.

    QUOTE
    sholi2000.com

    December 10, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Hockey fans are nuts.

    Spacek was going no where on this team.

    Offensive output was ZERO

    If Kaberle can be involved in 6 goals/month, then that can’t be any worse than Spacek. By involved I don’t mean scoring 6 goals per month. But just starting the play in our own end. Getting the puck out clean, tape to tape, and adding to the PP.

    Kaberle 33 years old. 3 year contract (36 years old to Spacek’s 38 right now). Still can play hockey in the NHL ( how many here are 33 and playing in the NHL)

    Spacek 38, good reliable defenseman (you can get those anywhere) and unlike Kaberle IS on the downside of his career.

    Montreal was/maybe is going nowhere. This is a little fix that may or may not work out.

    I’m going with MAY work out until I see different.

    6 extra goals per month. What would that have done the last two months?

    6 extra goals. END QUOTE

    Gatta love these Canadiens, because we’re fans, this is the NHL, it’s 2011 and not 1956.

    Some people talk hockey, and some know hockey, most can’t do both, and the ones who think they can, quit on the Canadiens and reply with “I’m done with this team”

    Like I said earlier, my sox know more about hockey than half the fans who quit on us yesterday. HIO is now a better site.

    I freakin love it.

    Shane Oliver
    http://www.Sholi2000.com
    Brandon, MB,Canada
    R7B 2R7
    hockey@sholi2000.com
    Ph- 204 724 8418

    • Lawrencetown Liquor Pigs says:

      Damn, I must be all alone then. I don’t think I could manage a hockey team, I’m displeased with the trade, maybe even with where the team is going, but I’m still a fan, and hope like hell I’ll be proven wrong.

      It seems to me that the teams that are advancing have players long-longish term under 30 years old while most of our long termers are on the wrong side of 30. (Sweeping generalization, just how it looks from down here in Nova Scotia) I’m not saying I could do better, and there are undoubtedly extenuating issues we don’t see as fans, but I wish a rebuild would happen via draft and undrafted free agents where possible instead of plug and play over paid free agents/trades. Pie in the sky maybe.

      ____________________________________________________
      They lost me 2 quarts of rum, better make it up next year with a cup!

  26. habsfanforever7631 says:

    I think we all should just forget about the cap, that’s the GM’s job. If he doesn’t sign Subban, Gorjes or Price next year, then all hell will brake out. But Subban and Price will be signed, I mean, we wont go anywhere with out them!
    So don’t worry!
    If Kaberle makes our PP better, then I say great trade!
    Don’t worry guys, we’ll get our main players signed.
    And if we need, Kaberle could be traded like next year, alot of teams want Dmen like that.
    I think there is another trade coming up, we just have to many defenders.

    Great game today!

    Go Habs Go, time for some wins!

  27. JF says:

    When the Devils scored, I could see another shootout loss impending, so I’m thrilled we managed to hang on, although the last couple of minutes were pretty nerve-wracking. But props to Price, and I loved his reaction.

    The biggest difference Kaberle makes on the powerplay is his ability to gain the zone easily and set up his linemates with no delay. Usually we either dump the puck in or skate it in along the boards and around the net. Either way, time is lost (and often the puck as well), which means the other team has a chance to set up and block the shooting lanes. Aside from the one we scored on, a couple of the other powerplays looked dangerous; that is, we looked as though we actually had the extra man.

    If Kaberle’s presence can raise the powerplay to a respectable level, the trade will have been a success. No one knows what is going to happen with Markov, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear at the end of January that he needed another few weeks… and so on. Meanwhile, it was premature for Gauthier to throw in the towel on the season; he had to do something. One game is certainly too soon to pronounce one way or the other, but what I saw today was encouraging. A powerplay goal every couple of games could make a huge difference.

    As for the next two years, who knows? We may want to keep Kaberle, since we’ll still have several inexperienced players on our blueline. If not, he shouldn’t be untradeable. And I have to assume the Habs will find a solution to the Gomez problem, so we should be able to sign our impending free agents. On balance, I think the Kaberle trade was a risk Gauthier had to take.

    BTW, does anyone know the rule about when we can start negotiations with next summer’s free agents? I’m hoping Gauthier will not continue Gainey’s questionable policy of not negotiating during the season, but will lose no time in re-signing Josh Gorges. If not, I’m afraid he’ll be gone on July 1.


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