Game 44: Flat Canadiens outclassed by Rangers

Links updated Sunday 6:40 a.m. 

New York Rangers’ Petr Prucha beats Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet up under the crossbar for the home team’s third of four goals.
Mike Stobe, NHLI via Getty Images

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The Canadiens came into Saturday’s Madison Square Garden game against the New York Rangers having won five of their last seven, impressive 5-2 victors over the Boston Bruins on Thursday to begin a four-game road trip. Their Big Apple hosts, meanwhile, had lost five straight.

All of which goes to show that any National Hockey League team can beat another on any given night. Especially when one forgets to take off its skateguards.

The Canadiens’ league-leading power play went a dismal 1-for-8, getting nothing on two lengthy 5-on-3s, and a fired-up Rangers squad took full advantage of its opportunities to hand a 4-1 loss to a visitor that was outshot 41-19 and showed little interest in putting up a fight.

Montreal’s terribly flat first period set the tone for the game, being outshot 13-6 and going 0-for-2 on the power play, only two of Montreal’s shots coming at even strength.

An Andrei Markov giveaway helped get the Rangers on the scoreboard early. Chris Drury and Marcel Hossa charged back to the Canadiens end to combine on a fine give-and-go passing play and a great Drury deke of Montreal goalie Cristobal Huet converted the rush at 3:17.

The Habs appeared to be in pause 10 minutes later when Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr was allowed to stickhandle unmolested to Huet’s side, four Canadiens impressed enough to stand around and watch. Martin Straka wound up taking a pass and whipped it home to give New York a 2-0 advantage.

Montreal’s woes continued early in the second period, coming up empty on a minute-long 5-on-3 power play, before Petr Prucha put the Rangers up 3-0 on a left-alone-at-the-goalmouth score that hit the white frame high inside the crossbar behind Huet. The play required video review after it was first waved off, but it was a goal beyond a doubt.

The Rangers continued to play with fire, giving the Canadiens another 5-on-3 for 1:41 midway through the second. But that yielded nothing for the Habs, leaving them 0-for-6 on the power play.

On a delayed penalty call to Montreal, the Rangers made it 4-0, Nigel Dawes beating Huet on a very stoppable shot to the short side at 19:38. New York held a 15-8 in shots in the second period; eight of Montreal’s 14 shots had come with the made advantage.

Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau decided to sit Huet for the third period and replaced his veteran with backup Jaroslav Halak, who’d been called up last Tuesday afternoon from the Hamilton Bulldogs in the move sending Carey Price back to the Habs’ AHL affiliate.

Halak stopped all 13 shots fired his way in the final period.

The Canadiens finally solved Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist 7:10 into the third period on the power play, Markov feeding Andrei Kostitsyn from the blueline to the faceoff circle, Kostitsyn then perfectly feeding his brother, Sergei, parked at the edge of the crease, for his third goal of the season.

The Habs were scheduled to have Sunday off – though that might be subject to change given the team’s effort at MSG – before practising on Monday for Tuesday’s game in Long Island vs. the Islanders. The road trip wraps up Thursday in Atlanta before next Saturday’s home date against Pittsburgh.

366 Comments

  1. JF says:

    Sorry, you are right.

  2. JF says:

    I don’t think we gave up a draft pick in the Rivet deal; we got one of San Jose’s picks in the 2007 draft.

  3. MatttheHabsFan says:

    As bad as that Ribeiro trade looks, I’m still glad Gainey made it. I only wish he had gotten picks instead of Janne.

  4. Scotty90 says:

    Habs have the talent to do well against those teams.. i think its more a psychological thing and they have to make sure they play a full 60…. 59 minutes against those guys won’t usually cut it!

  5. Scotty90 says:

    I had a good feeling that they would go far.. not too many people did… I made quite a bit of money on bets that year :)

  6. Ed says:

    I checked it out on TSN. Rivet & a 5th in 2008 to San Jose for Gorges & a 1st in 2007. Ribeiro & a 6th in 2008 to Dallas for Niinimaa & a 5th in 2007. So you are spot on.

  7. T-roy West says:

    That is exactly what I am getting at in my above post :)

  8. Chuck says:

    I was watching that game with a bunch of non-Hab fans at a local watering hole, and to a person we figured that the Habs would use that incident as a motivational rallying point and decimate the Hurricanes after that.

    Sadly, such was not the makeup of our team.
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    “A Vezina banner must hang from the rafters!”

  9. T-roy West says:

    Agree with most of what you are saying Chuck, but all I was saying is people shouldn’t say ” we won’t win ” because unless someone has a crystal ball then they don’t know. We don’t have to beat all the top teams in the league to make the finals, other teams can take out good teams. Detroit and Ottawa got bounced out pretty quick two years in a row if I’m not mistaken. Considering the parity in the league right now its even more possible now than before. Right now where tied for the third most points in the Eastern Conference. Not bad for a mediocre team! I will admit we would have a hard time against Ottawa and New Jersey but I think we can just about give anyone a go in a seven game series. In short – anything can happen in the playoffs – anything!!!!

  10. Habster101 says:

    we definately have needs…….1 good tough heavy weight of a player…not Kostop…a heavy weight…an enforcer.

    Kostop is ok to use him in and out of the line up to make room for the depth players here and there…but hes not an enforcer….

  11. Habster101 says:

    well we dont play the west enough to really get a good feel for it, and the only time it really counts is win its for the final series…so, on that note, I am only dealing with the east.

    yes I agree on New Jersey, they are definately another team that fears me, but if we can beat Brodeur, then we can beat Jersey and I think in a 7 game series, we’ll eventually beat him…hopefully…

    now as for Ottawa, they have some pretty well talented players on that team that from what I’ve seen so far, they dont quit…they just keep coming at you and they tend to always score…. and it looks like they do it with ease…

  12. Bill H says:

    Very good point Chuck. People keep talking about how we were robbed by one dirty play in that series. Its not a nice way to lose for us, but I agree that if we had had what it takes, we would have found a way. With the depth our team has now, we are getting close.

  13. nightmare_49 says:

    What pissed me off that year was the teams Carolina had to play were the teams the Habs had played extremely well during the year and the Habs were playing good and gelling going into the playoffs but to go all the way would be a stretch but who knows.

  14. Ed says:

    I think The Teacher asked this question to RetroMikey, because RM was saying we could get a big, gifted offensive centreman for those players. If RM was saying this, it’s not going to happen. Who would give up a star centreman for those players? No one.

  15. The Teacher says:

    BTW TRADERYDER,

    Ryder is only -2

  16. showey47 says:

    i would like to see some team toughness but not in the form of boogard, belak or perros who get less ice time than the guy who drills the holes for the nets after a flood. It would only work if carbo was willing to shorten his bench and brings out the enforcer when required i don’t think thats his style

  17. TradeRyder says:

    I don’t even know where this thread came from… but for those who think that Ryder is now playing some GREAT defensive game – FYI!!!

    CANADIENS AHEAD OF RYDER IN PLUS-MINUS:

    21 L Christopher Higgins 43 15 16 31 8 12 7 0 1 135 11.1
    44 D Roman Hamrlik 43 3 15 18 7 24 1 0 2 81 3.7
    27 R Alex Kovalev 43 19 22 41 6 36 11 0 3 111 17.1
    8 D Mike Komisarek 43 3 9 12 5 64 0 0 1 46 6.5
    46 L Andrei Kostitsyn 39 11 13 24 4 13 4 0 2 73 15.1
    40 C Maxim Lapierre 16 2 4 6 4 8 0 0 0 22 9.1
    51 D Francis Bouillon 38 0 3 3 4 36 0 0 0 31 0.0
    14 C Tomas Plekanec 43 14 24 38 3 18 6 0 3 96 14.6
    11 C Saku Koivu 42 8 25 33 2 65 4 0 2 78 10.3
    74 L Sergei Kostitsyn 13 2 5 7 0 4 1 0 0 10 20.0
    22 L Steve Bégin 25 3 1 4 0 24 0 0 0 37 8.1
    28 C Kyle Chipchura 36 4 7 11 -1 10 0 0 0 36 11.1
    45 C Corey Locke 1 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0 0 1 0.0
    79 D Andrei Markov 43 11 19 30 -2 28 6 1 1 71 15.5
    71 D Patrice Brisebois 28 2 6 8 -2 20 2 0 0 32 6.3
    26 D Josh Gorges
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    Let the kids play… let the non-performers watch or walk.

  18. Chuck says:

    Cap room is important because a given player is only one particular type of asset to the team; your cap space has the potential to be turned into whatever type of player that you deem necessary to augment your team.

    Also, not having any cap room means that you’re at a disadvantage when negotiating wih other teams. Look at the Sundin situation, for example: Toronto has next to no cap room, so they’re stuck with looking for draft picks or creating cap room. They have no other choice in overhauling their team. As an opposing GM, I now know that the laffs’ back is to the wall, which puts me at a negotiating advantage when dealing with them.

    Additionally, not having a surplus of cap room available when looking to re-sign players is an invitation for another team to hit a player up with an offer sheet, knowing that you won’t have the cap room to match.
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    ______________________________________________
    “A Vezina banner must hang from the rafters!”

  19. 24 Cups says:

    Ed – It’s true – we have no fifth or sixth round picks in this year’s 2008 entry draft. One of them was part of the Ribeiro deal and the other was part of the Rivet deal. Can’t remember which is which.

    The Original 24 Cups

  20. RetroMikey says:

    Everyone has to realize that yes, we are playing well but we have to beat the teams like the Devils, Hurricanes, Flyers, and Buffalo on a consistent basis which is why we need that special trade, if we are to move further than the first round or even the second round. Being from Hamilton, I’ve seen many AHL games involving our beloved Bulldogs and opposing teams and one guy I wish Bob to snatch is a gifted offensive centreman in Marcel Goc, who I got to watch and observe before he got called up with San Jose. This kid can really help us in this position. Yes, Plekanec is our No.1 centreman for years to come but this kid is really gifted and can win faceoffs given his chance to shine with our talented wingers as a potential No. 2 centre. Trust me on this one.

    Someone mentioned in this post how Price is doing after 2 games. We won last night 5-2, Corey Locke was our first star. Too early to give you a report, but he will gain his confidence, polish up on his technique and hopefully be called up before the playoffs start. We’ve got another good goalie in Halak as well folks and he hasplayed great while he played in Hamilton. Price is in good hands with Don Lever at the helm in Hamilton. All I can say to everyone is that we are headed in the right direction for many years to come with the team we have and the prospects in Hamilton simply amaze me!

    “We will win the Cup only with Carey Price in the nets”

  21. showey47 says:

    thats pretty much it, an underachieving goal scorer who is a ufa, an expensive 4th line winger and an expensive #5 dman.

  22. showey47 says:

    agreed, jan bulis had one good offensive season in montreal then complained to gainey saying he wanted to be on the top 2 lines and powerplay time. His whining led to gainey not even bothing to resign him, hence did the same thing in vancouver without having the numbers to back it up. I think he is now playing in europe

  23. showey47 says:

    agreed, carolina would of been out in the first, probably a sweep. As good as ward was , we still would of won the series.

  24. Ed says:

    With all of the trade talk on here today, here’s an article on Mike Ribeiro. I think it is an interesting read, whether you like the guy or not. Personally, I think the Canadiens gave up on him too quickly, but there are many who disagree with me. You can’t teach a player the offensive talent that Ribeiro has, but if he has some kind of a perceived attitude problem, isn’t there something that can be done about that? At the very least, we should have gotten something much better in return. The article says we also gave up a 2008 draft pick, which I find hard to believe.

    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/indepth/feature-hockey-ribeiro.html

  25. Chuck says:

    The fact that we couldn’t (or wouldn’t) rebound from the Koivu tragedy leads me to believe that the team didn’t have the make-up necessary for an honest run at the Cup. At some point over four rounds of playoffs, you’re going to be in a position where you’ll have to take the momentum back from the other team. That edition of the Habs juust didn’t have that essential ingredient.
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    ______________________________________________
    “A Vezina banner must hang from the rafters!”

  26. Chuck says:

    Ryder is sitting at -3, which puts him right in the middle of the pack. That’s a huge gain over last years’ -3,245, or whatever he was. I have a feeling that as he becomes more accustomed to his defensive responsibilities he’ll adapt to mixing in the offence as well, becoming a well-rounded player in the process.
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    ______________________________________________
    “A Vezina banner must hang from the rafters!”

  27. ccs says:

    One of my main concerns for this team was what I thought was the lack of toughness. But I am starting to see a really tough team. I was all for an enforcer and still think it would be wise but they seem to be ok without one. I really hate seeing Saku taking so much abuse though. Does anyone think a heavy weight enforcer is needed or not??? I guess I am sort of sitting on the fence with this one.

  28. Chuck says:

    Perhaps we could trade them John Kordic again.

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    ______________________________________________
    “A Vezina banner must hang from the rafters!”

  29. hhl says:

    i dont get this cap room crap,there r several players that r not coming back next year. + with the year ryder is having, i can’t see him signing a 15 year 90 million dollar deal. we will however need to lock up higgins n komi soon or others will make bids forcing mtl to match thus messing with our cap space which will become critical within the next three years trying to sign our poss ufa’s or going after ufa’s in the off season.

  30. Chuck says:

    I too have visions of being “Leclaired” again, but you can’t not move someone just because you’re afraid that he’ll start to perform on some other team. If that’s the case, then all you’re doing is eating up your cap space with dead wood. The only thing that matters is that player “X” isn’t the right guy for this team right now, so you’re better off cutting bait and finding someone that is.

    For the record, I believe that there’s still a lot of upside to Ryder in this organization. It’s normal for a players’ growth to plateau on occasion. Tossing in the definsive responsibility thing for him to learn has been difficult for him to adjust to while keeping his numbers up, but lately he’s showed some promise.
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    ______________________________________________
    “A Vezina banner must hang from the rafters!”

  31. Yeats says:

    I agree with both of you. Granted, hockey is entertainment as well as sport. But, would you follow the team so closely, if you didn’t the Habs had a shot? Hot goaltending, timely scoring and lucky breaks in your own and other playoff games — remember Steve Smith — and who knows? I thought we were on the verge of making some noise in our last two playoff appearances. However, tragedy struck in the forms of Michel Therrien and Justin Williams.

  32. 24 Cups says:

    Well said Chuck – we are so much better but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.

    The Original 24 Cups

  33. Ed says:

    There have been a few times when I thought I actually saw that happen. It’s funny in a way, but not good for team spirit. The one that gets me is the guy who starts a play, gets an assist, but does not get a plus, because he is on the bench when the goal is scored.

  34. JF says:

    Neat comment, Ian! But I’m on the fence about Ryder. I’d love to see him start producing more and re-sign with us, but I have a feeling neither will happen. I also think that he wants to leave. He’s a natural scorer and wants to play where he can score a lot of goals.

  35. hhl says:

    perhaps toronto is willing to trade sundin for,say,jimmy bonneau, or a 7th round draft pick in 2012.along with a signed picture of john ferguson holding the cup.

  36. Chuck says:

    The Oilers ended up being the exception to the rule. Over four rounds of playoffs, all things considered equal, it would be extremely difficult for a mediocre team to stay consistently strong enough to make the final, never mind win the Cup.

    That unrealistic line of thinking is what has sunk the laffs; they’ve always had that “one player away from making the playoffs, then anything can happen” mentality. So they blow off their draft picks and young hopefuls in exchange for false hope… and we know how far that’s got them.

    If Gainey were to make a sustantial player move at the deadline, I would hope that it’s because he feels that we’re that one move away from winning the Cup, not just making the playoffs. Unfortunately, I don’t think that we’re quite there yet.
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    ______________________________________________
    “A Vezina banner must hang from the rafters!”

  37. 24 Cups says:

    Yeats – I think it’s so much more than just the OTPF – that has just been a convenient excuse for Lousy Leafs fans when they are disappointed in the performance of their team. The Leafs have always turned to the quick fix in order to turn things around. Trading for over the hill players like Clark, Nolan, Leetch etc. Even now they trade for Toskala (he’s really not that bad) and pass on drafting a guy like Cherepanov. The year before they traded for Raycroft and gave up their #1 pick (Rask). One bandaid after another. Ultimately, it’s the fault of the Toronto fans. They accept mediocrity year after year. I mean, how long did the Ballard era go on for? It never ends.

    The Original 24 Cups

  38. JF says:

    I think New Jersey might actually be a better team than Ottawa. They have more solid goal-tending, an area in which Ottawa doesn’t look as good as they did at the beginning of the year. The Devils, after their slow start, have also been more consistent than Ottawa. Anyway, of the two, they’re the one we have the most trouble beating. I know we haven’t beaten Ottawa either this year, but we played one great and two respectable games against them, whereas we were worse than pathetic against New Jersey. When we figure out a way to beat them, I’ll start believing that the future is almost here.

  39. hhl says:

    ie:back in jan 86, how many fans thought we would win the cup in june.86?we didnt exactly finish first that year in the reg season.

  40. 24 Cups says:

    Chuck – We’re getting the cap space one way or the other (unless we resign him in July). I was just hoping to get a pick or player like we did with Rivet. Of course that would mean that we wouldn’t have Ryder for the stretch run or the playoffs. That’s the gamble you take unless you feel you have an adequate replacement waiting in the wings.

    The Original 24 Cups

  41. T-roy West says:

    Amen to that Ian!!!

  42. T-roy West says:

    I disagree with everyone who says that we won’t when this year or that we are one to two years away from winning. I realize that people are being realistic but I also know that if you make the playoffs than anything can happen. The playoffs are taylor made for upsets. Just ask the Edmonton Oilers a couple of years ago. They were lucky just to make the playoffs and ended up going all the way to the finals.

  43. 24 Cups says:

    ccs – I too agree with your plan. We don’t need to break the bank on a 4th defenseman, somebody that is middle of the road will do fine for now. However, I do think that as a group (of online fans) we do tend to over rate the players that we would offer in trades. We keep trying to trade used Civics for a new high end Acura RL.

    The Original 24 Cups

  44. Chuck says:

    If he walks at the end of the year, you don’t get nothing for him… you gain cap room, which is probably the most important thing that you can have nowadays.
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    ______________________________________________
    “A Vezina banner must hang from the rafters!”

  45. Sulemaan says:

    Anytime Dave. Although I thought Dandy was pissed off too at first at someone. You make a good point. The coaching staff is pretty young too in terms of experience. Just like the players, they will improve with time as well.


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