Bob Gainey did not like what he saw at the end of last year. The team that he had carefully assembled over the past 5 years was falling apart at the sub-atomic level. The spectacle of the Centennial celebrations brought too fine a magnifying glass and resurrected the glory – and the (unfair) expectations – of the past. The pressure cooker blew a gasket.

Now, in its 101st year, the Montreal Canadiens are going back to the basics. The team has a clean slate for the 2009-10 season. With new players, a new headcoach, a new assistant coach, a new goaltending coach, a new strength and conditioning trainer, a new coaching staff in Hamilton, and new ownership – everything is brand-spanking new. Everything that is, except for its fans. And boy, do we need to lighten up.

Jacques Martin is bringing experience to the table and implementing something that the Habs have not seen in a long time: a system.

Puck possession. Fore-check. Support.
Simple hockey. Jacques Martin hockey. Grumble grumble. Hal Gill. AK-46. Grumble grumble. Have we seen Jacques Martin hockey yet? No, not for a full 60-minutes, but there have been glimpses. It’s a work-in-progress.

Martin is keeping the players on a short leash and it’s good to see. The punishing bag skate for a non-existent performance in Vancouver sets an important precedent for this season. Martin has made it clear that players won’t get away with any listless performances. And as Andrei Kostitsyn can attest, you won’t get away with not playing the system. Martin is going to hold each and every player accountable for their actions. If you make a selfish or lazy play, you’ll find your задницу nailed to the bench.

Jacques Martin is trying to create not only a new system but a new ethos in the locker room. He’s trying to build a team. For us fans, however, a new team is hard to accept. Where is the familiarity? Where are our heroes? Many fans, myself included, lament the loss of Alex Kovalev on the powerplay – circling the right faceoff circle, defenders too timid to approach, an opening, a shot, a goal. I watch the powerplay now and what do I see? Chaos.

But give it time. Newbies Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta are more than capable of putting up points with the man-advantage. Jaroslav Spacek and Marc-André Bergeron might even make up for losing Markov to injury (almost, maybe). How is the PP going to look exactly? I don’t know. What’s for sure is that what we saw out West won’t be the same powerplay that we’ll be seeing in March.

Give it time.

We’ve got a long season ahead of us and there’s no reason to throw in the towel just yet. We’re not the Leafs. The Habs haven’t even had their home-opener yet and some fans are ready to run the team out of town. As fans, we’re gripping the stick a little too hard.

As the players begin to learn the fundamentals of Martin’s system and get to know each other, we’ll see more goals, better defensive play, and better results.

Are there concerns?

Of course.

Will we have secondary scoring? Where’s AK46? Why can’t he create any opportunities for himself? Is Kyle Chipchura really going to be another 1st round bust? Will the team be able to hold up both offensively and defensively without Markov? And what about Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak?

Big questions that came up during a 5-game road trip. Now give the team some time to answer them. And maybe, let’s give them a little support. Let’s welcome them home on Thursday and give them a reason to be proud that they’re wearing the sweater.

Go Habs Go!

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Hockey 101

Mike Babcock could have worn a Concordia tie.

The Detroit coach didn’t need his lucky McGill neckwear as the Red Wings ran a hockey clinic and stomped the Canadiens 4-1.

The game wasn’t as close as the score would suggest.

Shots were 34-16, and the boos to cheers ratio at the Bell Centre was 21,273-0.

When it was over, the great ageless warrior Chris Chelios, chosen the game’s third star, stood at centre ice and waved as the crowd cheered. It was probably Chelios’s last game at the Bell Centre … until the Stanely Cup final.


"We can hear it," Christopher Higgins said of the booing, which reached a crescendo in the third period. "Guys get down. It affects us, makes it tougher to play.

"But that’s this city. They expect the best."

Coach Guy Carbonneau wondered why his team could not get pumped up "with 21,000 people screaming and behind us every game.

"We have 41 home games and the fans want uis to win all 41 of them," the coach added. "We made a lot of errors tonight. They had every reason to boo."  

Then the coach did a little booing of his own.

When asked if Andrei Markov were injured, Carbonneau suggested "maybe he sees himself at the All-Star game too quick.

"He should be our best defenceman, and right now he’s not."

Carey Price?

"We need goaltending that’s better than what we’re getting,"  said Carbonneau. 

And they saw the best – albeit in visitors’ jerseys.

Patrice Brisebois said there are highs and lows in a hockey season and the key is "making sure the lows are not too low."

Noting that the early-season Ottawa Senators were compared to the great 1976 Canadiens and "they’ve lost seven in a row", Brisebois said "we know we have a good team. It’s important to have self-confidence but also confidence in each other."

"We haven’t played our best," said Saku Koivu. "I’d like to turn the page. We can’t get these games back, and we have a lot of games to play."






  1. P St. Pierre says:

    “Yeah, with Chipchura and Dandenault as linemates. Ryder isn’t going to get many goals on solo efforts. Good players are better when playing with good players. See Zetterberg/Datsyuk.”

    He still gets lots of powerplay time, without much production. It should be a much easier place for him to score goals but he still isn’t putting many in the net. I’m not trying to diss Ryder but he hasn’t played up to expectations and he’s had lots of opportunity to do it.

    I don’t disagree with all your comments, but I don’t think Ryder is playing very well if he doesn’t have production numbers to back it up his “good play”.

  2. sisu says:

    “Actually he wasn’t getting many shots and he was playing quality minutes. I believe Carbonneau was the one that pointed that out…

    Then either Carbo was lying or he didn’t know the facts. Prior to his demotion Ryder was on pace for more shots than last year.

    …being on the third line allows him to play against weaker opposition.”

    Yeah, with Chipchura and Dandenault as linemates. Ryder isn’t going to get many goals on solo efforts. Good players are better when playing with good players. See Zetterberg/Datsyuk.

    “Latendresse played very well on the first line.”

    Koivu/Higgins play well on the 1st line. Lats (and Ryder) benefit from their work.

    “So far this season, he’s been fairly weak, but he’s trying hard…”

    I’m not an NHL scout, so I try not to trust my own eyes or my own subjective opinions. The hard numbers say Ryder has performed well this season, but hasn’t scored because his shot% is down.

  3. P St. Pierre says:

    Actually he wasn’t getting many shots and he was playing quality minutes. I believe Carbonneau was the one that pointed that out and he also said that it was a reason for him being demoted.

    Ryder may have faced tougher opposition on the first line, but being on the third line allows him to play against weaker opposition. He hasn’t produced much since being assigned to that line.

    I wouldn’t say that demoting Ryder has been a terrible move. Latendresse played very well on the first line. In fact he’s played more games on the third or fourth line than Ryder has and he has more goals.

    I understand that Ryder has a good penalty differential but that doesn’t always translate into better play. So far this season, he’s been fairly weak, but he’s trying hard and I expect he’ll probably get his spot back on the first line fairly soon.

  4. Ed says:

    Excellent post. Also, thanks for the link. I have seen Ryder drawing penalties, but did not realize that he was #2 on the Canadiens in penalty differential.

  5. Armchair GM says:

    I think somethings in the works… First Price was hurt, then it was Huet. It supposedly happened in the 1st period, wouldn’t (shouldn’t) he have tightened up in the intermission? I think he’s being shopped, As read online, it’s Gainey’s M.O to disappear a few days before a trade happens, I guess it’s to ponder it a while. I don’t know how he hasn’t pulled off a trade yet. That man’s patience is scary! (Or Maybe I’m a hothead who’s favorite hobby is yelling at zebra’s on ice) All I know is you gotta get when the gettings good! We need to trade value if we expect value in return. Huet is value at a deep position.(At leat it’s what I’m hoping) We are NOT going to win Lord Stanley’s mug this year, (if you disagree, hop on the 401 and become a Toronto Make Beleafs Fan, cause you’re delusional) so let’s build something. Price and the other kids may not be ready RIGHT now; but how does one gain NHL experience and the knowledge of what it takes to be an everyday NHLer if they are never given the chance to succeed? If Julien hadn’t given the kids a chance due to his having coached them and knowing what they can do, where would the Habs be today? (I see a 401 joke in there for the ROC)
    Coaches are short sighted. They sign aging has beens or former roomates (Hello Brisebois x 2)instead of giving the kids a chance.

    Anybody remember that kid Beauchemin who couldn’t make it on our team cause we were stacked *snicker* with the likes of Rivet, Brisebois, Quintal, Simpson, & Dykhuis. I try to forget everyday too.

    My two cents. (If it’s worth that much)

  6. Habsfan39 says:

    a shot on goal or a goal

  7. Michael N. says:

    I’ve a got a feeling that Higgins is going to get one

  8. nick says:

    yep – really sharp.

  9. Habsfan39 says:

    I have a feeling we’re only going to get 10 shots tonight.

  10. Gilles Poisson says:

    Thank you. I think these are very important statistics. Not to mention he is working his butt off out there. Thank you.

  11. Habsfan39 says:

    Detroit announcers hit the nail on the head.

    Saying that Kovalev is the only game breaker montreal has, and he isnt even a point a game, and most of his point come on the powerplay.

    Itd would be super nice to have a guy who can get a point per game in the lineup.

  12. Naila Jinnah says:

    Price is looking sharp as glass!

  13. nick says:

    ouch. i hope Begin’s alright. That looked like it tickled a bit.

  14. sisu says:

    “We all know that earlier Ryder wasn’t getting many shots on goal…”

    No, we don’t. That’s the way fallacies get perpetuated. Ryder has gotten less shots since his demotion because he’s getting less icetime. It’s a terrible move by Carbo and the results show it.

    Despite his demotion, Ryder is #2 in shots on goal. It’s not easy to get shots in the NHL. He has just had some bad luck finishing. He’s a 12% shooter, not a 4% shooter. He will come around.

    He did a great job coming back from a terrible season defensively, and has been a plus player while facing tougher opposition than last year.

    Finally, Ryder has been one of the top players in penalty differential. When a team lives and dies on special teams, this is difficult to overlook.

  15. Habsfan39 says:

    How the hell is that not inter-fing-ference!!!

    Holy mother mother mother

  16. Naila Jinnah says:

    Quite a loss this early in the game. Lets hope it ignites a furry in the Habs, as opposed to turning them into lambs.

  17. Naila Jinnah says:

    Finally a whistle!
    Can you say winded?

  18. Gilles Poisson says:

    Didnt Saku know he had Streit on his wing? Why wouldnt he pass? Thank you.

  19. Michael N. says:

    Wow!!! Ted Lindsey, didn’t think he was still alive, they say he’s got a scar of the number 7 on his face.

  20. Naila Jinnah says:

    Nice rush at the beginning! Lets hope they can keep up this pace!

  21. Michael N. says:

    Chris Chelios. What more can you say?

  22. Keith says:

    Wow great little ceremony. It was great to see the comaraderie among the young and old players and great to see Chelios get a standing ovation. Love him or hate him he is a warrior and is closing in on 25 years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him reach 30. GO HABS GO!!!

  23. Moey says:

    It’s just a wind-up.

  24. P St. Pierre says:

    I think Mike’s just being sarcastic. We all know that earlier Ryder wasn’t getting many shots on goal which led to his demotion from the number 1 line. Lately he has been better however.

  25. yathehabsrule says:

    I heard Dionne introduced CJAD….Marcel or Gilbert????? LOL

  26. Moey says:

    I can’t believe the crowd was booing Carbo, class act (yeah right).

  27. likehoy says:

    Mike, that was a really uneducated stab at Ryder with the .2 shots per game. He is on pace for more shots this season than last year, therefore he’s contributing shots, and is averaging 3 shots a game.

    I don’t mind the constant bashing of Ryder for not scoring, cause he isn’t, but at least be a little respectful by confining the areas of Ryder’s game to bash to a truthful level.

  28. Gilles Poisson says:

    And there is Claude beside coach Guy. Maybe Claude could be a good coach for us when coach Guy is finish. Thank you.

  29. Naila Jinnah says:

    YEY! Michel Lacroix on RDS! 😀

    And great ovation for Chelios… Gotta love him slapping Carbo on the arm 😉

  30. Gilles Poisson says:

    There is my favourite #44 Stephane Richer on the TV. Will we ever have another 50 goal scorer? Thank you.

  31. gazeux says:

    You guys know that you can watch the ceremony on Habstv right?

  32. Gilles Poisson says:

    You should learn to spell humour. Thank you.

  33. Grabs says:

    Nobody is fighting, you should learn to recognize humor, even when it isn’t wrapped up in sarcasm. Thank you.

  34. Gilles Poisson says:

    Please Mr Grabs no fighting tonight. You have a nice mustache. Thank you.

  35. Gilles Poisson says:

    I was reading what Mike Boones said. Thank you.

  36. Grabs says:

    Where’s Edward Carpentier when we need him? Back in 1972 he put the sleeper choke on you, too bad he’s retired.

  37. Chuck says:

    I can’t believe that you used both of those names in the same sentence! 😉

    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  38. Gilles Poisson says:

    I wish I could see the old time legends like Howe and Richer.

  39. Joe Habsfan says:


  40. Bill says:

    How could a team that deploys a Swiss defenseman as its ‘first line’ RW NOT think about picking up Mark Recchi at the pittance it would cost? He’s had a rough start, and is certainly just about used up, but I can’t remember the last time he didn’t score 20+ goals, and you know you will get all kinds of hustle. 4 pts in 5 playoff games last year. Sergei K clearly isn’t ready yet, and Rechhi is riding out a one-year deal. What’s the harm?

  41. Chorske says:

    I cannot believe that TK isn’t playing.

    Habs really, REALLY need a win tonight.

  42. zamboni says:

    I’m not particularly a big fan of Grabovski, but I think he played his best game as a Hab against Nashville.
    I’m surprised to see Smokes in the lineup and not TomK or Grabs.

  43. Revolution No. 9 says:

    If we can shell Hasek early and get one by him, I think we’ll win. The Habs are great at early pressure (which doesn’t always translate into goals) but if we can crack Hasek early, I think the Wings won’t be able to comeback.

    If we fall behind by more than 2 goals in the first half of the game, I’ll go outside and shovel some more because it will be less tedious.

  44. Michael N. says:

    My Dad when he was alive, loved the Red Wings. My Grandfather and I liked the Canadians. My dad would go down to Toe Blake’s Tavern and have a few beers with the players after the game, the stories he’d tell.

  45. Chuck says:

    Shoot early, and shoot often. Maybe we can then get Hasek to do his best fish-out-of-the-water impersonation.

    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

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