Habs in first place at midway point

The Canadiens reached the midway point of the 48-game lockout-shortened season with Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Hurricanes in Carolina and were sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference on Friday morning with a 15-5-4 record.

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien gave his players a well-deserved day off in Florida Friday as they prepare to face the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN 690 Radio) and the Florida Panthers on Sunday (6 p.m., TSN-HABS, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

(Photo by Grant Alverson/Getty Images)

For the Canadiens, what a difference a half season makes, by Dave Stubbs

Calm, confident Therrien does impressive job in first half of season, by Pat Hickey

Therrien’s message awakens Canadiens, by Pat Hickey

Price makes 42 saves to calm ‘Canes, by Pat Hickey

Canadiens vs. ‘Canes photo gallery

Lightning has dug tough hole, by Tampa Bay Times

It’s time for NHL to make visors mandatory, by Pat Hickey

Pitter Pat-ter Notebook, by Pat Hickey

397 Comments

  1. DD says:

    I think a player like Mike Fisher is a better player to compare Plekanec to. Both are two way centers, defensive specialists, who can also get some points when needed. Alfredsson is a first line winger and a Calder trophy winner, and that’s not even mentioning the different responsibilities between the two positions. I think sometimes people miss what the coach’s idea of what Plekanec’s duties and assignments are. He usually see’s a lot of time playing against other teams number one centers and killing penalties. Maybe because of our lack of talent up the center, in years past, he was regarded as the number one, or even number two centre. I think we would all agree that it is quite obvious that Pleky is not a number one centre, but with the emergence of DD, Eller and Galchenyuk, I think we will now see him excel at what is his real forte, in my opinion, which is shutting down number one lines while still being legitimate scoring threat. Fisher suffered the same fate in Ottawa, but there is not a coach in the league who doesn’t appreciate the hard, honest work players of their calibre bring to the table on a third line. For now, MT has decided to play Galchenyuk on the wing, for the simple reason it’s an easier position to play, but after he gets a more games and experience, he will be that big number one centre we’ve been praying for. Go Habs Go!

  2. Bryant Mac Lean says:

    Plekcanic gives the puck away as much as Ryder, and his atitude seems indifferent at times, but he is a prolific scorer, except on shootouts(usually sucks on the faceoff). I wish he was as good as he thinks he is!(did you ever see him win a battle for the puck)?

    Bryant Mac Lean

  3. Danno says:

    New thread

    ________________________________________

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”
    Updates, highlights & great discussions on all things Habs

  4. HAB - Have A Beer says:

    We may be able to beat Tampa Bay tonight but I wouldn’t go around making bets. Tampa Bay are not as bad as their record indicates.

    Lot of scoring power on that team. Better “D” and Goal-tending not too many teams would beat them.

  5. Habfan17 says:

    @ sir.plekers
    I think we Hab fans over value him Pleks. I look at Alfredson as a comparable. They are about the same height and weight.
    Pleks: 5’11″ 198 lbs
    Alfredson: 5′ 11″ 196 lbs

    Last season, Pleks 81 games, 52 points minus 15, Alfredson, 75 games played, 59 points, plus 16. Alfredson was on a team supposedly rebuilding and he constantly mentors young players on his lines.

    Pleks has been over 60 points twice, his best year being 70 points.
    By the time Alfredson was 30, he had 5 seasons over 70 points, one at 61 points and one at 59, while playing in Martin’s system. At 39 on a rebuilding team he put up more points than a 29 year old Pleks. Alfredson makes other players better, in my opinion, Pleks does not. Pleks is very good, works hard, but if a team made a great offer that would help make the Habs better for the long term, I would deal him.

    Habfan17

    • K-hab25 says:

      “Alfredson makes players better, Pleks does not”

      Couldn’t agree more.

      • Habfan17 says:

        I don’t know where you get that, not from me! I would trade Gionta and Pleks to add more prospects and players to the solid core in place. I think that is their biggest value to the team. The only other players I have ever said to trade/buy out are Kaberle and Weber. I have also said I don’t think I would resign Markov once his contract is up.

        Habfan17

    • Mattyleg says:

      You would trade everyone on the team for anyone else.
      You just love trades.

      —Hope Springs Eternal—

      • Habfan17 says:

        Habfan17

        March 9, 2013 at 10:59 am

        I don’t know where you get that, not from me! I would trade Gionta and Pleks to add more prospects and players to the solid core in place. I think that is their biggest value to the team. The only other players I have ever said to trade/buy out are Kaberle and Weber. I have also said I don’t think I would resign Markov once his contract is up.

        Habfan17

  6. The Jackal says:

    @New – nice try. Habs are #1.

  7. Thomas Le Fan says:

    Can’t say that I predicted they would be in first place but I’ve been saying all along, all through last season, that this team was much better than their record would indicate. Faith pays off. Go Habs.

  8. Habfan17 says:

    I know he is a hated Leaf at the moment, but on the list of Trade Bait on TSn is Tyler Bozak. I would not trade for him but he will be a UFA and he is currently 3rd in the NHL is faceoffs. Would be a good 4th line centre. Laidlav Smid might also be a good free agent signing.
    http://www.tsn.ca/tradecentre/feature/?id=88532

    Habfan17

  9. commandant says:

    Russ checks in on the St. Louis Blues. Should they be worried about being outside the playoffs right now?

    http://lastwordonsports.com/2013/03/09/dont-give-up-on-the-st-louis-blues/

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
    http://lastwordonsports.com/

  10. HabinBurlington says:

    Tampa article discussing Marty St. Louis and how time is perhaps running out for him.

    http://www2.tbo.com/news/opinion/2013/mar/08/1/tampa-bay-lightnings-st-louis-running-out-of-time-ar-653818/

  11. Strummer says:

    A number of people on this site have recently experssed their hopes that we could somehow re-acquire Ryan O’Byrne for his size and crease-clearing attributes.
    Colorado ended the Hawks streak last in a decisive manner.
    O’B was a -2 in a 6-2 victory
    I did not see the game but the highlights showed Ryan O’Byrne doing a pylon impression on the first Hawk goal.
    He may not be the answer.
    ______________________________________________________
    “It’s just an opinion – I could be wrong”

    • Hobie Hansen says:

      He can’t be as bad defensively as Weber or Kaberle who will be gone before next season and I don’t think Boullion will be back either. I’d take O’Byrne and Tinordi as our 5th/6th dmen next year in a heartbeat.

      • K-hab25 says:

        I think they’re both LD, so you’d have to split up Subban and Gorges.

        • showey47 says:

          Obyrne is a righty. I’d take him back in a 3rd pairing role.

          • Ian Cobb says:

            Sudbury plays here next Sat. night Showey! Lot’s of room for the family to stay here my friend. I’ll buy all the tickets!
            Let me know if that works for you guys?

            I would take Koivu back as well, even if he was in his last year!

          • K-hab25 says:

            In that case two 6’6″ / 6’7″ guys would definitely be interesting. I doubt they’d choose O’Byrne over Diaz though, but maybe as insurance if Tinordi’s not ready next year.

          • showey47 says:

            I’d love to Ian,but i got a full plate next weekend. But thanks for the offer. Going to have to make it down your way sometime in the near future.

      • Habfan17 says:

        I think I would rather have Smid or Whitney

        Habfan17

    • 2mins4lookinsooogood says:

      I am neutral on rob returning but he is playing top 2 minutes right now so it will cost you more than you think.

      “Don’t crush that dwarf Alex Henry, hand me the pliers”

  12. Castor says:

    I stuck to my guns last year saying we were NOT as bad as our record indicated… I thought we were at team that would easily fight for that 8th seed. I never thought they’d be on top at this point. I still think reality kicks us in the face soon and we drop to 4th or 5th. Still above, way above, what I expected.

  13. frontenac1 says:

    Prust. Heartbeat of the Habs. MVP

  14. Lafleurguy says:

    Further to the discussion re: halfway MVP, and thanks Chris for initiating the subject, I would pose the hypothetical question, which of the Canadiens players could significantly improve any of the struggling teams? You could use the Oilers as an example. Anyone of our best would make them better. Then I would point out that just 11 short months ago we were one of those struggling teams, although there were a lot of good players on that team. It’s not a one-man band so several reasons explain the remarkable improvement (we’re not in the running for the lottery draftpick position anymore, while Oilers and Blue Jackets still are). There has been only one player on the Habs who has fought Lucic since he humiliated Komisarek and the brand. Also, this individual has looked highly effective with several different linemates which was the same reasoning used to explain Larry’s and Pleks ineffective play last year. Sorry that this is sounding like a nomination speech at a political rally. “Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, I give you…………………Barack Obama! (kidding)”

    “May you live in interesting times.”

    • K-hab25 says:

      Hockey is truely a team sport, it isn’t basketball, no one player makes a worst to first difference, no one. The Pens kept winning without the best player on the planet. The Sens are still biting at our heals without one of the top defenseman in the world and a ppg #1 centerman. The only guy who “could” truly cause us to fall from grace, is Price and that’s only if Budaj doesn’t play well, which he’s shown he can.

  15. rogieshan says:

    I voted for Markov as 1st-half MVP. Even though he has labored in some games, I feel his presence alone makes the players around him better. All those key goals he contributed at the beginning of the season also gave the team momentum out of the gate.

  16. Habfan10912 says:

    We’re at the halfway point of the season and if the playoffs were to start today the 8 teams from the east would be:
    Montreal
    Pitt
    Car
    Boston
    Toronto
    Ottawa
    NJ
    Rangers

    Who among those 8, if any, do you say don’t make it in and who do you think will?
    I say NJ and Ottawa don’t make it in and Washington and Philadelphia sneak in.

    • Ian Cobb says:

      Jim!
      Only a point or two separates teams my friend.
      Lose two or three games in a row and any team could drop off the page.
      3 point games are a disaster. That is why it is so important to first, win the game, but also do it in regulation time to avoid giving them a point, so as to get a little separation.

    • Danno says:

      Ottawa is most vulnerable with key injuries, but they are chugging along in spite of it all…

      ________________________________________

      “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”
      Updates, highlights & great discussions on all things Habs

    • Phil C says:

      Washington have very quietly put together a nice streak of wins. Because they have some games at hand, the seem more out of it than they are. If they get their defense sorted out, they could be a dangerous team.

  17. Chris says:

    Not to be too harsh, but 50% of 2400 people think that Brandon Prust, who is playing 13:44, is the Montreal Canadiens MVP of the first half of the season? What am I missing?!?

    Yes, he’s been better than expected. He’s chipped in some offence, he’s killed penalties and he’s stuck up for teammates when needed.

    But Therrien is still only playing him 14 minutes per game.

    Andrei Markov is playing 24.5 minutes per game, and he’s logging those minutes against the best players on the other team every game. Rightly or wrongly, Therrien is using Markov and Emelin as his shutdown pairing.

    Markov is also the quarterback on the power play, which is converting 5.8% more of its chances this season, an increase that makes up the lion’s share of the Hab’s excellent offensive improvement (even-strength scoring is up from 2.00 to 2.16 goals per game, while power play scoring is up from 0.52 to 0.92 goals per game).

    Prust has been excellent. But to put him into the conversation for MVP with everything that Plekanec, Markov and Subban do is a bit mind-boggling. Price also has to earn some credit, as he has been a rock behind the team with the exception of a short stretch of lacklustre play last week.

    My MVP ballot would have:

    1. Andrei Markov/Tomas Plekanec
    3. P.K. Subban
    4. Carey Price
    5. Brandon Prust/Max Pacioretty

    I think it is easy to get carried away with new players, and forget just how much our established veterans do for the team.

    • HabinBurlington says:

      While I didn’t vote for Prust (I will admit I voted Price), I think you may be looking at the question to literally. (probably wrong word choice)
      Prust has brought an element which this team has been missing for a few years. He is bringing intangibles night after night. From helping the two Gallys as their bodyguard/big brother to bringing out the best in other lines. He is filling many different roles and bringing a spirit and attitude which was missing.

      One could argue the spirit and trust these players now have for each other is what is carrying the team to its current lofty heights. That spirit is coming in large part from Prust, thus Prust = MVP

      Whether he is MVP from a statistical perspective is irrelevant.

    • Habfan10912 says:

      Hear the coach speak of Prust play? His mind must be boggling too. Look, there is no arguing your point that the players you listed are all more talented and productive players then Prust. What Prust has thus provided to this team can’t be measured by TOI or stats although he has scored a couple of very timely goals. His willingness to provide protection to our young players IS invaluable. To me the question wasn’t who is the best player. It was who I thought was the most valuable.

    • Hobie Hansen says:

      There’s no stat for it but Prust has lit a fire under the team. I don’t believe he’s the true MVP either but when the other players look down the bench and see Prust, with a fight, goal and a couple big hits, dying to jump back over the boards, they get an extra shot of adrenalin and want to back him and the team up.

    • JUST ME says:

      I do not think it`s how many minutes you play it`s what you make of them. Prust made the best of what time he had. Key plays,important goals,standing up for his teammates,good grinder…No miracles just small smart play. Of course we notice his game cause we did not have one of these guys wth the team so far and it was desperately needed so we could win the battles .

      I do not think you can judge such a player with statistics,goals ,ice time and p.k. time. It`s the small things he does that nobody usually notices that are important.

    • Ian Cobb says:

      Chris! We have great intensity from Prust, Gallagher and to a lesser degree Galchenuk. They have brought back the winning hell bent for fire attitude stuff that we used to see from players of yester-year.

      They have lit the fuse and ignited the whole team!
      So in that respect they deserve top billing, but for sure the most valuable players on our team are still, Price, Plex, PK, Markov, Patches and DD

    • aroma says:

      I quite agree with your assessment. Easy to get overpsyched about the new guys. And I think Habs fans have a tendency to take Plekanec for granted. If I had to pick one, I’d choose him as our best player this year.

  18. Ian Cobb says:

    I believe Bergevin stays pat with this lineup through to the playoffs.
    Unless we are lucky enough to obtain a long term ringer in return for a couple of our players from the farm that do not fit into our future plans. Package them with Weber, or Kaberle or maybe one of our 4th liners.
    Next year we have a couple players on the farm that should make the roster.
    But over all, Bergevin will build through the draft one year at a time. We do have the finest scouting team and development program in the league today.

    • Habfan10912 says:

      I think I’m with you Ian, on a more conservative approach. The reason? I think our best years are yet to come. If MB feels differently or is he feels he has a legitimate shot at the cup then that would call for a more aggressive approach. Right now in all fairness there are a few teams you’d have to put ahead of the Habs as cup contenders. I say hold your ground and wait for the farm to develop.

  19. JohnBellyful says:

    Don’t know if this was posted earlier this week but for those who might have missed it or want to cringe a second time reading about it the Bruins have joined forces with their state brethren in academia to expedite player development and eliminate scouting expenses.

  20. commandant says:

    Mick looks back at the Blackhawks streak, now that its over.

    http://lastwordonsports.com/2013/03/08/blackhawks-down-a-look-back-at-the-streak/

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports
    http://lastwordonsports.com/


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