Game 63: Canadiens weather Hurricanes’ storm

Roman Hamrlik and Alex Auld defend the net against the Hurricanes on Saturday night. Robert J. Galbraith, The Gazette

Preview | Matchups | Saturday’s

NHL schedule | Boone’s

Hits and About last night …
| Stubbs on Twitter | Hickey’s game story

AUDIO: Jacques Martin | Tomas Plekanec | Alex Auld | Brian Gionta | Mike Cammalleri | Brent Sopel

• At a Glance: The Canadiens gave themselves some breathing room in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at the Bell Centre. The teams exchanged six goals in the first two periods, with three on either side. Jussi Jokinen opened the scoring when he took advantage of Alex Auld’s misdadventure behind the net to slide the puck into an open net. Auld started in the place of Carey Price, who was under the weather. The Canadiens would score twice before the end of the first period to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Michael Cammalleri scored for the second straight game at 13:48 of the period when his wrist shot whistled over Cam Ward’s shoulder. Andrei Kostistyn did the grunt word below the goal like and passed the puck to Lars Eller, who beat Ward at 16:53 for his fourth goal of the season. The Hurricanes tied the game 2:10 into the second period when Tuomo Ruutu redirected a puck behing Auld. Tomas Plekanec put the Canadiens up 3-2 when he used a Hurricanes defender to screen Ward to bead the goaltender with a wrist shot from the slot 5:13 into the period. Cory Stillman tied the game 3-3 10:49 into the period with a wrist shot of his own that eluded Auld. On their first power play of the game, which came at 14:10 of the third period, Kostitsyn deflected Roman Hamrlik’s point shot beyond Ward at 16:07.

• Key Moments:
It took more than 54 minutes, but the Canadiens finally got a power play against the Hurricanes and made it count.

• What It Means: Montreal gave itself a cushion in sixth place of the Eastern Conference, moving to 73 points with a 33-23-7 record, six points ahead of the Hurricanes in eighth spot and three up on the New York Rangers, who are in seventh.

• What’s Next:
The Canadiens hit the road for three games this week, starting on Tuesday in Atlanta, then off to Florida on Thursday and Tampa Bay on Saturday night.


  1. Mattyleg says:

    “ssshhhh… you’ll feel a little pinch, then all your worries will be over…”

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  2. Sportfan says:

    not gunna lie thats what i thought lol

  3. Bugs says:

    Sure as hell’ll make more difference than exchanging Auld for Conklin at this stage of the season.

  4. Mattyleg says:

    I think we know Montreal on a Friday night too well.

    I thought so too.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  5. Hobie Hansen says:

    Not sure which way each player shoots off the top of my head but they should play one defensive defenseman with an offensive defenseman during regular strength play. Wisniewski-Sopel, Subban-Gill, Hamrlik-Mara.

  6. christophor says:

    That’s pretty much what the current pairings do. Hammer is more of an all round D who can play shut down if necessary. Wiz is the more offensive of the two and Hammer balances him out while being able to chip in himself from time to time. Then there’s PK-Gill and Sopel-Weber.

  7. christophor says:

    I thought it was, “you won’t even feel a pinch”

    You do feel the pinch?!

  8. larisalapointe says:

    Five years is a lot in hockey years. I also believe he is good but has lost his confidence maybe since then, and somehow slipped through the cracks. It’s not that he’s that bad, it’s just that Price is that good.

  9. Rob D says:

    I would be willing to give up a 1st round pick in this draft. It’s a very weak draft in any case and I shudder to think that the Habs would be comfortable going into the playoffs with this offensively challenged squad. Not sold on Penner and his dicey work ethic but if they think they can motivate him, he’s exactly what they need. He’d make room for whomever plays with him to operate.Its a gamble of course.

    Incidentally, I would be in favour of benching Gomer for the playoffs. Love that guy…He marries ineptitude with a lack of balls.

  10. Mark C says:

    Another deal that makes PG’s trade for the Wiz look like steal.

  11. christophor says:

    Hammer is having a terrific year. I’m surprised that it’s not talked about more often and even more surprised that he’s dumped on.

    Definitely unexpected. I’d say resign him cheap but I recall that Hammer is usually one to elevate his game only when Markov is out and his minutes and responsibities increase. The quality of his game generally goes down with his minutes and responsibilities. So maybe not a good use of 2 plus million.

  12. Mike D says:


    – Honestly yours

  13. Ian Cobb says:

    We have a nice mix of quality vets and rookies on our roster to carry the day, under the correct coaching staff.

    After J.Martin put this train wrecked team together last year and took us on a very nice run into last years play offs. I have been very slow to be critical of his coaching ability to take this club to the next level. But it is now show time, to give the paying public their monies worth.

    Yes we have been hit hard by the injury bug to key players this year. But we do have a very good farm team to draw replacement players from and we have picked up some more experience for our back end.

    There is no excuse for this talented team to fall on its face this year. It is getting late in the season and it is now time for the coaching staff to get this team playing winning hockey with more consistency than the recent past.!

    Come on Jacques, It is time to show us what your made of. Just ask PK to coach you on how to develop some more enthusiasm and intensity behind the bench.

  14. Mike D says:

    IMO, Penner would be a bad idea for this team.  I don’t like players with questionable work ethics (which we already have a few of), and for whatever reason, Montreal seems to make some players lazier…or at least some players who were considered lazy while they played here seemed to be much improved in that department as well as in the scoring department after they were traded.  4.25mil is too expensive for someone like Penner.

    Conversely, the playoffs is actually the one time you actually DO want Gomez playing on your team.  Seems to be the only time he comes close to earning his salary.

    – Honestly yours

  15. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    In my response to your comment below, I did indeed “bash” Auld. He is not good. I did not however say that we should sign Conklin, if you were drawing that connection.

    While on the topic tho, couldn’t we trade with the Islanders for Nabokov if he was willing to take the trip?

  16. TomNickle says:

    I have my opinions about Hamrlik which some call over the top.  But I haven’t yet seen anyone call his season terrific.  Anything specific you can say about his play that’s made his season terrific?

  17. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    Maybe he was… but unfortunately he wasn’t…

    .902 save percentage, 2.94 GAA in those 67 games. When was that considered good? When Georges Vezina played?

    Here’s to the team vote though!

  18. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    He did not have a good year when he played 67 games, if anything he showed the opposite. see above.

  19. TomNickle says:

    Wisniewski’s done a nice job of trying to replace what Markov brings, if Sopel can come close to mirroring Gorges production defensively and on the penalty kill there are no excuses.

    With the positive additions of Pacioretty, Desharnais, Eller and Subban this team is as talented as it’s been in 15 years and should be playing their best hockey soon.  If not, you are on to something about the coaching on this team.

    A decent season from Gomez would have this team in the division lead and primed for home ice through 2 playoff rounds.  It’s Martin’s job to put #11 in the best situation possible for the team’s sake.  Having him with Moen and a revolving door on the right wing is unacceptable.

  20. HabFanSince72 says:

    It’s Martin’s job to put #11 in the best situation possible for the team’s sake

    Bottom of the St.Laurent with cement shoes? Maybe AK46’s buddies could help.

  21. TomNickle says:

    Subban and Gill have both been significantly better than Hamrlik.  A revolving door at the position beyond that doesn’t say a whole lot for Hamrlik.

    Has he been the best because Martin has stupidly fed him icetime in situations where he won’t succeed?

    Our powerplay has gone into the tank(Leaf game aside) since Hamrlik took over quarterbacking it.  Our penalty kill started it’s major downhill slide with him getting minutes on it.

    He has areas where he is excellent, but he has not been our best defenseman.


  22. christophor says:

    Agreed. Especially if playing 28 minutres while a young and capable teammate plays 8 minutes less.

  23. TomNickle says:

    Having Moen on Gomez’s wing elimates half of the ice in terms of offensive production.

  24. christophor says:

    I’m not saying Subban couldn’t have done a better job if he were given all those responsibilities. I’m just saying that Hamrlik’s been ther best defenseman because of how he’s managed in those situations that maybe he shouldn’t be in. 

    Look, that can be taken as more of a knock to the team and coaching than anything. Considering the injuries and how well Subban has played for the last while, he should be overaging over 24 minutes a game and Hammer should be averaging 20-21.

    I really think you have an unreasonable dislike for Hamrlik. I think you’re stuck with how he played in the past and can’t recognize that he’s unexpectedly played well this year in light of his ridiculous responsibilities. I’d never have thought he would have held up this well.

  25. TomNickle says:

    You’re absolutely right.  And people wonder why Eller doesn’t have 40 points.  Playing alongside Halpern and Darche for 50 games would be the primary reason.

  26. thebigguy says:

    So the Flyers put in a claim for Boynton. Here’s betting fans are going to come out and bitch that we should have gotten him. Also bet if we picked him up on waivers, these same fans would have complained that we’re taking other teams trash.

  27. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    Would be nice. Get his contract off the books for next year. I don’t hate the guy but I do hate seeing him on the ice in a red, white and blue jersey.

  28. OneTimer says:

    TomNickle, I’m liking your view on things a lot lately. I agree.

  29. SeriousFan09 says:

    Gomez’s struggles are very much on himself this season though, lazy backchecking that had him -4 in the Boston Brawl and other issues. Too often he’s half-assed his game when he should be going all-out. He does need a winger on both sides that he can dish to for offence but for a playmaking forward, his passing has been terrible too often.

    Veterans should be able to work with anyone, like Pleks has, he’s been expected to get guys going this season when they’ve gone cold next to Gomez.


    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  30. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    Never said this, and hate posters that do. Bugs is just keeping his Fox News affiliation legit by drawing conclusions and innuendos.

  31. Ian Cobb says:

    Paul, be nice. Gomez will come around. To much speed and talent not to. He is a possession and set up man, he was never a top goal scorer. Put the right two players with him and things will come together.

  32. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    Like, +1, ditto, agreed, a-ok, thumbs up.

  33. TomNickle says:

    He has strengths and weaknesses like any other defenseman.  His are magnified by his decision making and lack of effort in certain situations.  From his zone outward he will not skate for loose pucks, he pokes at them.  That’s a combination of lack of effort and fear.  He often turns the puck over in bad areas of the ice and takes terrible penalties.

    He’s great on the walls and in front of our net.  Our best in both of those areas by a mile.  And because of that, he is valuable, and those things are also keeping him in the NHL.

    Subban and Gill have led the team in TOI since the all-star break because of Hamrlik’s inability to play big minutes.  And when you’re going to sing his praises, and I could care less whether you do or not.  Consider that he played dreadfully for a 40 game stretch last season and was never once scratched and benched only once.  And that’s not just my opinion.  That’s the opinion of the majority of sports media members in addition to a large number of fans.

    It’s no secret that he wears down, and that’s exactly what’s happening.  But my reservations are that I don’t want a player who can only be a positive member of my team for 40 games and then be dreadful for the next 40 and into the playoffs.  There are waiver additions, low cost trades and possibly even free agent signings who could contribute more over the long haul.

    I don’t have a personal dislike for the player aside from the mistakes that he makes.  I don’t dislike Gomez even though Hamrlik has been miles more valuable this season.  It’s my opinion about his play.  Nothing more.  I have nothing personal against the man.

  34. oldrrty says:

    One could make the arguement that Halpern and Darche have been among the team’s most consistent players.


    I don’t care who wins as long as Toronto doesn’t!

  35. solomio says:

    Like I heard on team 990 – Melnyk saying you don’t blame the wingers for Gomez’s predicament you gotta blame the man himself. He has already played with our best wingers and brought each one of them down. Its his own fault he is where he is and until he proves other wise he will stay on the third line.

  36. observer says:

    #1- spit it out! who made martin coach? you dont like him? then you think the gm is a fool! #2- this is but a middle of the pack team in the weaker conference and even there as of this minute is no cinch to make the playoffs.#3- need new blood to re-engerize the team for the final weeks and the playoffs. someone bigger who can score. kostitsyn is spinning his wheels here – he can still attract someone in return. yes, because all teams know this gainey style of thinking holds back many players. gauthier had better make a trade even if the habs win tonight.

  37. TomNickle says:

    Not offensively they haven’t.

  38. observer says:

    check the standings! flyers still try to bolster the squad and without giving up anyone to boot. this fool here trades away a pick for a 23 of 25 healthy scratch and then promptly healthy scratches him 2 of first 4 games here. a real genius gm.

  39. TomNickle says:

    Ummm….Andrei Kostitsyn ring any bells?  If you’re going to tout Plekanec as a guy who can get anybody going you’ll have to disregard that he couldn’t get offensive production out of Eller and Kostitsyn.

  40. solomio says:

    I disagree. Have you seen the number of scoring chances Eller has had for which he has nothing to show?

    A goal scorer scores no matter what. Eller hasn’t figured out his game nor the NHL game yet. And he also needs to work on some lower body strength. I think he will become a very very good centerman and hopefully with the Habs.

  41. TomNickle says:

    He has his faults no doubt.  But putting Moen on his left wing is not a way to get him going, it has hurt more than it’s helped.

  42. observer says:

    he had one huge year never was close to repeating. sather overpaid for him. somehow sather was able to lay him on gainey/gauthier! gomez is exactly what sather saw too late but saw it soon enough and lucky enough to find 2 like gainey/gauthier to unload him on.

  43. TomNickle says:

    He has played the majority of his season with Halpern and Moen.  He doesn’t score off of the rush because of that reason alone.

  44. observer says:

    kostitsyn may be playing his last game with habs tonight.

  45. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    what other game was he scratched for? He didn’t have his equipment for the first game, moron. Word on the street is right, you are annoying.

  46. solomio says:

    Tom you feeling all right today? I’ve never seen you so off the mark as you have been today.

    There’s no question that Hammer has been and is our best dman. Period.

  47. TomNickle says:

    Please.  Is that supposed to magically improve Gomez’s numbers.  Are you forgetting that Moen doesn’t have the speed to get to the net in timely enough fashion for Gomez to use him as a screen or in an effort to get him a deflection?

    Moen isn’t the answer to Gomez’s struggles, he makes him worse.  Martin is not putting Gomez in a situation to come out of his funk.  That’s all there is to it.  The player can’t be expected to rebound when he’s put in position to fail.

  48. Tremblant Habs Fan says:

    I’m not sure what you’re expectatiuons are, but he’s our back up goalie. For the year, he’s expected to start 10-12 games, I’d expect a .500. After 9 games, he’s 4-4-1. I don’t think this is a concern for the team, unless of course CP goes down.

  49. TomNickle says:

    There’s no may about it.  He is.  

  50. blu3chip says:

    ok, you win.

    I will create a new site –, a HIO rip off, for you to post your wonderful opinions.

  51. solomio says:

    Make no mistake, the addition of McCabe does strengthen the Rangers.

  52. oldrrty says:

    I have been thinking of what would happen if the team did not make the playoffs this year. Of course I do not want that to happen but what if it did? It could free up the head coach job for Muller. Conf. finals to an absence from the playoffs to me would sound like Martin would need to go. The only thing that I see wrong with Muller is that he has been a part of the coaching staff that was unable to ignite Kovalev, Gomez and tried to control PK’s swagger. But to be honest I do not see who would be a better replacement.

    I think that Gill needs to be resigned. The mentorship that he is providing with PK is extremely important and cannot be quantified with a dollar amount. He should get a small raise but not a big one.  Gorges and Markov need to come back because I think that they will be unable to get Wisniewski. 

    Is anyone esle excited about a future with any Kostitsyn’s on the team.


    I don’t care who wins as long as Toronto doesn’t!

  53. TomNickle says:

    Assistant coaches who take over their current team have pitiful track records.  He’ll be a good head coach, but it won’t be on this team with this roster.


  54. JF says:

    Why are you so sure Kostitsyn is playing his last game with the Habs tonight?  Have you heard anything other than rumours?  A couple of days ago you were sure Phillips would be a Hab by now…

  55. solomio says:

    I would suggest that back up goalies are especially for the time when your number one goes down. And I would hope for better than .500 hockey from the back up. If you watch Auld he does have very good technique.

  56. TomNickle says:

    I was told Phillips would be a Hab by that time.  Kostitsyn will in all likelihood be gone because teams that miss out on getting players like Hemsky, Richards, Booth and others of their pedigree will still want an upgrade and will turn to the Habs for Kostitsyn.

    It will very likely be a deadline day deal because he will be a plan B option for teams looking to add scoring.

    On Phillips, it was highly likely that he was going to be here until Murray started screwing around with those contract negotiations in an effort to maximize Phillips’ value.  Gauthier said screw you and added Sopel.

    You think it’s coincidental that Gauthier added Sopel the day after Phillips was offered a contract?

  57. oldrrty says:

    They are doing pretty good for guys that are playing on the 3rd and 4th lines. They are both in the top ten in team scoring and they are a +11 together. I mean if you want to bleep and moan for the sake of bleeping and moaning go ahead but these are solid 3rd and 4th liners.


    I don’t care who wins as long as Toronto doesn’t!

  58. TomNickle says:

    I’m saying that it’s unfair to expect 40 points out of Eller while playing with those players.  I don’t know where you got the impression that I was bitching and moaning.  My point is simply that if Gomez and Eller are to have high expectations for what they bring offensively, they need to be put in situations where they can succeed.  Having Moen play with Gomez and putting Eller with Halpern and Darche is a sure way to limit their offensive production to a point where’s a gift if they do contribute.

    If you think that playing with Darche and Halpern will bring out the offensive talents in somebody, more power to you.

  59. blu3chip says:

    Like you have mentioned, if our team went from reaching conference final to missing playoffs (touch wood), should we immediately blame it all to JM (and of course our beloved Gomez, everything is his fault)?

    Maybe there are problems with our team? Lack of grit? Too many underachieving players?

    Maybe the downfall is caused by our depleted blueline?

  60. Habnofear says:

    I am broken hearted ….thank-you Gauthier and Martin.

  61. rob_c says:

    Or maybe its all Gomez’s fault

  62. Bugs says:

    THIS is funny!

  63. Bugs says:

    Doesn’t matter if you said it or not; I said it in the spirit of the “bashing Auld” situation.

    As for Nabokov, ub-ub-ub, that’s so crazy on some many levels that I’m left to wonder if I even shoulda given your Auld thing any attention.

  64. punkster says:



  65. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    I don’t have lofty expectations, but there’s no reason to cling to Auld if a seemingly better alternative arises. We can disagree on his skill level, but I don’t see why anyone would think he is a strength for the team that can’t be toyed wiith.

  66. thebigguy says:

    “You think it’s coincidental that Gauthier added Sopel the day after Phillips was offered a contract?”


    Yes, I do. I think Gauthier looked at what the cost of adding Phillips would be and how much of a difference he’d make to our team and wisely chose to get Sopel for spare parts. I don’t see why any team would want Phillips, he’s been subpar for at least 2 years in a row now. Signing him will be a mistake.

  67. rob_c says:

    Please tell me you create posts like this one just to get reactions. You CANT be serious right now?

  68. Bugs says:

    Hear, hear about Boston.

    Every year, it’s “the best team”; every year, it’s “ooohh, watch out for Boston” and every year they up the ante of humiliation in their exit from the playoffs, culminating last year in their HISTORIC shank-job against the Flyers.

    ‘Member when they finished 1st in the conf that time and we were 8th and we beat’em few years back? Or the time they were 2nd and we were 7th…remember? Yeah, they were “the best” then too.

    The best at CHOKIN, that is. Eeeee-yoink!

    Da Bruinies? Puh-leeeaase. I’ll believe it when I see it. Til then? A-loo. Oo-oo-zer.

  69. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    Spacek is not a free agent. God, how i wish he was, but he is not. I would rather have Hamrlik on the roster than he, but nothing more than a one year deal, and not at the price you listed. Do agree on keeping him though. I think Halpern and probably Pyatt are guarantees not to be back. Moen is upgradable.

  70. TomNickle says:

    Spacek isn’t a free agent and buying him out when he’s in his contract year and the possibility of finding a trade partner for him at the deadline next year is high would be idiotic.

    $2 million annually for Desharnais?  No way in hell.  He hasn’t played 50 NHL games.

    $3.5 annually for Hamrlik?  Not a chance. 

    Eller still has a year left on his deal.

    Gorges will make nothing less than $3 million annually.

    Pyatt and Picard are restricted free agents, they’re cheap and good for depth, not qualifying them with inexpensive offers would be a huge mistake considering how young both of them are. 

    Ryan White has played less than 50 NHL games and has a knee problem he hasn’t been able to shake all year.  He’s a restricted free agent and is in line for a qualifying offer and a bare minimum raise.

  71. Bugs says:

    Verbs don’t reconvene.

    But I see what you’re sayin. Very wise indeed.

  72. CanadienFanTrappedinNiagaraFallsNY says:

    Yes, I am still having trouble comprehending the mentality of our peanut gallery and the media, wondering how we can possibly contend with the vaunted Bruins. They have beat us ONCE IN FOUR GAMES, and it was a “shootout” in the football sense. We owned them last year too. If they had any other goalie they would be struggling to earn a playoff spot.

  73. TomNickle says:

    Finding out that the price for Phillips is rising every day and then adding Sopel means that there is a correlation between the two occuring, and thus not coincidental.

  74. TomNickle says:

    He added Wisniewski to fill in for Markov, but they knew Gorges was done before making that move.

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