About this weekend …

TokarskiBuff

Hands up, everyone who thought your Montreal Canadiens would collect four points this weekend?
OK, you’re visionaries. Go buy some lottery tickets.
Now a show of hands: Who would have been happy with three points?
Or two?
Final question for the faithful: At the 16-minute mark of the third period Saturday night, how many of you thought this team would miss the playoffs?

And they still might.

The Canadiens have a killer schedule this week. The patrick Roy Show rolls into the Bell Centre Tuesday night, followed by the surging Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. Then the Canadiens hit the road for games in Toronto on Saturday and Boston on Monday the 24th.

Bolstered by the miraculous Overtime win over Ottawa and that ho-hum conquest of hapless Buffalo, the Canadiens finds themselves back in second place in the Atlantic Division. They are seven points clear of the cut-off for Eastern Conference postseason play.

They’re not home and dry just yet. Another three-game losing streak – which is what the Canadiens rode into this weekend – and it’s tight-collar time again.

But the team is looking a lot better than it did in the seconds preceding Lars Eller’s goal at 16:38 of the third period Saturday night.

In reaping four points that boosted them past Tampa Bay and Toronto, the Canadiens displayed guts, character, never-quit attitude – and some semblance of a lineup that might carry the team into mid-April.

Let’s begin with the MVP of the weekend.

MIA since Sochi, P.K. Subban showed up when he was needed most.

The Canadiens stud defenceman played an astonishing 55:31 seconds in the space of 26 hours. P.K. assisted on the three goals that erased Ottawa’s lead on Saturday night. After seven shots on goal against the Senators, P.K. had only one in Buffalo – along with two penalties – but he controlled the play on every one of his 26 shifts against the Sabres.

I was skeptical of pairing P.K. with Francis Bouillon, and they were on for a couple of Ottawa goals. Unless Michel Therrien plans to use Frankie Boo in the 13 remaining regular-season games – including three sets of back-to-backs – we’ll likely see Subban with yet another partner.

Not a problem. The reigning Norris Trophy winner is in a zone, and P.K. can play with anyone.

OK, maybe not Douglas Murray.

David Desharnais was another standout: The goal – with .3 of a second left, off a genius pass by P.K. – that sent the game into OT, plus an assist against Ottawa. An assist on Dale Weise’s goal in Buffalo.

DD is in a zone, and he can play with anyone.

OK, maybe not Rene Bourque. But DD and Max Pacioretty might be the best linemates for Thomas Vanek, who had six shots on goal in his Buffalo homecoming.

Brendan Gallagher scored his 17th of the season against the Sabres and continued to energize new linemates Daniel Brière and Tomas Plekanec. The Canadiens also got a decent performance out of the other new line THerrien threw together against Ottawa: Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brian Gionta.

Defensive forward duty on the third line is a comedown for the Canadiens’ captain. But at this stage of his career, that would seem to be Gionta’s future with the Canadiens, through this season and beyond if they bring him back.

Galchenyuk played 14:48 against Ottawa, 13:24 in Buffalo. I still think the Canadiens are bringing him along too slowly, and we’ll get to see a different developmental approach when Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche visit. But the Canadiens have a plan for the kid, and they’re sticking to it … at least until the next time Therrien juggles his lines.

That won’t happen if the Canadiens can string some wins together. They got off to a good start, but it was a near-death experience against Ottawa and Buffalo has been dead since October.

Even though the Sabres’ offence was Drew Stafford and 11 guys you’ve never heard of  – oops, I forgot Matt D’Agostini – surprise starter Dustin Tokarski had to be sharp. And he was, making 29 saves to ring up his first NHL shutout.

With Carey Price, Tokarski, Peter Budaj, Devan Dubnyk in Hamilton and Zach Fucale in the Q, the Canadiens have an over-abundance of quality goaltenders – none of whom can help their power play, which went 0-for-Buffalo.

P.K. will fix that.

 

 

 

423 Comments

  1. Hobie says:

    Hopefully Bourque can keep pace with the goal leaders in the playoffs with a goal tomorrow. He’s at 4, leaders at 5.

  2. ArmyFan says:

    May have already been discussed, but aside from his goal on Saturday, did Eller not look completely out of place for most of both games? I lost count of how many times he gave the puck away against Buffalo, got caught of of position defensively, etc. I had high hopes for this guy and in October it looked to be his breakout year, but he’s at the point now after a few seasons where he does not look to be improving overall. Still hope he can take it to the next level, but at this point I’m skeptical.

  3. Savardian Spin-o-rama says:

    Really liking Tinordi’s progress lately. One thing in particular I’d like to see him work on is puck protection along the boards. He tends to reach too much which makes it easier for the opposition to strip him of the puck. He needs to shield the biscuit with his body better. Funny to say this, but Diaz was great at that last year, not so much this year which maybe a reason why he’s gone. PK excels at it too. Anybody else notice the same thing about JT?

  4. krob1000 says:

    Great to see Vanek with Dd and Patches and even better to see Gallagher helping another line out. NEver thought they would break upPLeks/Gio but glad they did! Still not convinced they won;t find their way back together but getting Galagher somewhere else and giving Vanek the best offensive opportunity made sense. Having Gio with Eller helps to compensate for Chucky’s lack of a defensive game and yet to be developed forecheck.
    Eller looks a little more energized…now he just has to remember how to pass and stickhandle again..will take time but he is starting to show signs of confidence. Briere has been getting progressively better and with Gallagher to be a sparkplug…that seemed to give him a little more jump as well.
    HAbs have had tons of great scoring chances of late and not burying..that will change

  5. CHasman says:

    Watching David Deharnais play now is so different from the way he started the season. His legs are moving all the time. This is unlike his line mates who have that stride where they pretend to be moving fast but are only going at about 70%. At least Patches increase that speed when he has a scoring chance.
    I said I was never a Vanek fan, but would be willing to become one. Unfortunately, Nilan was right and Vanek is just dialling it in, and that is not making me a fan. Considering that he will want a long term contract for 7 million a year I know that MB isn’t interested.

    • Cal says:

      So, he gets 6 shots and is generating chances, but Vanek is just “dialing it in”? He’s playing for a big money contract and you think someone will give him that based on him playing like crap? C’mon, man.

      • CHasman says:

        That’s just it. Six shots on goal and he is dialling it in. Just imagine what he could be like. If he’s playing hard then Galagher is out of this world!

    • He’s also taking attention away from whomever else is on his line. The points will come.

      I’m actually hoping he does well until the end of the season and then even better in the playoffs. Then we bite a bit of a bullet and sign him or at least Minny has to ante up.

      Defense wins championships

      “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” St. Thomas Aquinas

    • habstrinifan says:

      Great post re DD. No one can justifiably complain re DD now.

  6. Habfan10912 says:

    Is Rene Bourque’s position in the press box now secure?

  7. habs-fan-84 says:

    Someone who has Twitter needs to tweet Brian Hays (at TSN1050) the GIFs of last year’s kicked in goal and Turris’ digging the puck out from Price.

    Two goals that shouldn’t have counted in the PLAYOFFS last year. What goes around comes around Sens fans. Karma is a b*** isn’t?

  8. habsonly says:

    4 more hours to go then its time for some Guinness to really kick St Paddy’s day into gear. Happy St. Paddy’s Day HIO and may the wind be always at your back.
    Listenin to Night Wish “Dark Passion Play” Last of the Wilds.
    Cheers!

  9. Strummer says:

    Nick Kypreos made reference to a comment Carig Simpson made Saturday night that Therrien “checked out” on the team when they were down 4-1.
    The comeback was basically all on the players.

    ______________________________________________________
    “It’s just an opinion- I could be wrong”

    • Dunboyne Mike says:

      What do you think?
      It’s out there, but how credible is it?
      And it’s Kypreos.
      I don’t remember: did Simpson say that on-air during the game?

    • Habfan10912 says:

      I can understand how people could think that Stummer. Isn’t MT the guy who in addition to benching his best player for half of the third period in a 2 goal game, refused to pull his goalie to give his team a chance to score two quick ones?

      I’ve witnessed his “checking out”. During the game against the Capitols in January, MT wasn’t even watching the play. I took photo’s of him looking right when everybody else was looking at the play which was to his left. He checked out that night.

      Look, I don’t mean to dredge up the past here because God knows we’ve talked enough about those games, but this is a coach who is prone to hissy fits. It’s part of his DNA.

      That said, so Matty doesn’t unfriend me, the players do seem to be playing hard night in and night out. I think the shot block stats and PK stats support the players playing hard. Coach needs to get credit for that.

  10. Strummer says:

    Hockey Central at Noon dumping all over Sens and Leafs today.

    Bruce Garrioch was a guest saying the Sens can blame the ref’s all they want but it was they (Sens) who let the Habs back into the game on Saturday

    ______________________________________________________
    “It’s just an opinion- I could be wrong”

  11. mark-ID says:

    Does anyone have a good video of the overtime goal on Saturday that shows an up close shot of the puck loose in front on Lehner? I have some Sens fans that I need to point this out to….

    I know there were some earlier, but can’t seem to track them down. Thx

    “I think I may have found a way for us to get Griffey and Bonds, and we really won’t have to give up much” -Costanza

    • Habcouver says:

      Tell ‘em Cube said the puck was not covered up by Player #40.
      Cube wouldn’t lie.

      We Are (Not) All Canucks.
      Proudly Canadian but passionately Canadien!

    • Scroll down a bit–Sholi has a jpeg link posted. =)

      Defense wins championships

      “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” St. Thomas Aquinas

  12. habsguru says:

    anybody check out PK’s new personal website?

    how did he get approval from the MT department of personal betterment?

    is betterment a word? sounds cool.

  13. C-Sword says:

    So the EGG line did not even play a whole game together?

  14. Habcouver says:

    I read Patrick Roy is addressing the media at Bell Centre at 1:00 ET.
    Pourquoi? Is this a normal pre-day game thing?

    We Are (Not) All Canucks.
    Proudly Canadian but passionately Canadien!

  15. WVHabsfan says:

    I just want to add to whatever conversation that is going on:

    Screw the Leafs and Bruins!!!!

    That is all.

  16. CJ says:

    Habs send Bournival to Hamilton for conditioning. Makes sense, IMO.

    • shiram says:

      That’s good news, he’s healthy enough to play.

    • Habcouver says:

      Habs miss his speed. Hope he’s in tip top shape come the playoffs!

      We Are (Not) All Canucks.
      Proudly Canadian but passionately Canadien!

    • Dunboyne Mike says:

      BUT.
      When he’s back, where does he go?
      I thought he presented best value when re-charging Pleks and Gio. If they now remain on separate lines, whither Bournival?
      Nice problem!

    • HabsPooch says:

      CJ, it seems we’ve been campaigning for Beaulieu to come up for quite some time now.
      I posted this in depth before but these would be my pairings until Gorges come back…

      Emelin Subban
      Tinordi Markov
      Beaulieu Weaver/Murray/Bouillon

      I for one don’t like Emelin and Markov together
      Each pairing has one defensive and offensive player
      Emelin plays on his correct side
      Both rookies play on their correct side to keep their game simple

      I think the experience for both Tinordi and Beaulieu playing down the stretch will be only be of great benefit. Beaulieu seems to play better in the NHL then the AHL…probably a player that thrives with good players around him like Saint John a few years back as opposed to lesser talent such as what is happening in Hamilton.

  17. krob1000 says:

    ok…had no computer for weekend..saw replays of games on Canadiens express..is Price hurt again or were they just being cautious with back to backs?
    I have read the reports saying being cautious but was there anything to suggest another tweak?

    • Laramy87 says:

      Cautious with back to back…. MT didnt want him playing back to back games this close coming back from injury

    • shiram says:

      All I heard was just about being cautious.

    • Phil C says:

      There was no sign of trouble. I did a little reading on DrRecchi.com, if it is knee tendonitis, it can be a tough injury to recover from (at least tougher than I thought), requiring a lot of rest and time. I’m glad they are being cautious, they can’t afford to have flair up in the playoffs or they would have to shut him down again. Might as well let it heal now. These four points take a lot of pressure off the Habs.

  18. Max says:

    Altough Vanek isn’t scoring yet,it is great to have top line talent to work with in the top six.He’s getting a few quality shots and the goals will assuredly start to trickle in soon.

    Even if he doesn’t re-sign here for next season,it is vital that the team replaces him with another high end,top line forward.

    It gives the team options and makes them better, while forcing the opposing coach to tinker more with their line-up as a means of dealing with a forward who is dangerous around the net.

    • PureGuava says:

      Kovalev did nothing after the deadline when we snagged him. But in the playoffs….

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

    • Habcouver says:

      Vanek appears to be pure talented scorer. Hope he adapts to MT coaching and goes on a goal scoring tirade in the playoffs.

      We Are (Not) All Canucks.
      Proudly Canadian but passionately Canadien!

  19. BudsnPucks says:

    I would be fairly happy with 4 points out of a possible 6 this week.


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