Home-ice advantage slipping away from Habs

The Canadiens held an optional morning skate in Brossard ahead of Saturday night’s final regular-season game against the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).

Michael Blunden, who was called up from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday afternoon because of Lars Eller battling the flu, took part in the skate and will be in the lineup against the Rangers. Brandon Prust, still recovering from an upper-body injury, was also on the ice.

The Canadiens no longer control their destiny when it comes to securing home-ice advantage for their first-round playoff  series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning, backed by goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis making his first NHL start, beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Friday night to move a point ahead of the Canadiens for second place in the Atlantic Division.

The Lightning plays its final regular-season game Sunday afternoon in Washington and can clinch home-ice advantage with a victory no matter what the Canadiens do Saturday night against the Rangers. The Lightning will be without forward Ryan Malone, who was stopped by a Tampa police officer early Saturday morning and charged with DUI and possession of cocaine. The Associated Press reported that according to a police report an officer found 1.3 grams of cocaine in one of Malone’s pockets. The AP added that Malone refused to take field sobriety tests, but a breath test given at the jail recorded blood alcohol levels of 0.112 and 0.116 per cent. Florida law considers a driver impaired at 0.08.

“We are aware of the situation concerning Ryan Malone this morning,” general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement Saturday. “Ryan will not travel with the team to Washington today, but beyond that we cannot comment further at this time.”

The Rangers, who have already clinched second place in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, are expected to rest some veterans against the Canadiens, including Martin St. Louis. Cam Talbot is expected to start in goal for the Rangers with Carey Price starting for the Canadiens.

Defenceman Josh Gorges told reporters on Friday that the Canadiens want to do what they can Saturday night to secure home-ice advantage.

“I think it’s something to strive for, but our focus should more be on the way we’re playing,” he said. “Make sure that coming into playoffs — whether we have home ice or not — we’re playing the right way. We’re playing at the top of our game. We fine tune the details and make sure there are no holes.”

The Canadiens announced Saturday morning that Bulldogs goalie Dustin Tokarski has been signed to a two-year contract extension taking him through the 2015-16 season. Tokarski has played three games with the Canadiens this season, posting a 2-0-0 record with one shutout, a 1.84 goals-against average and .946 save percentage. With the Bulldogs, Tokarski has a 20-15-3 record with one shutout, a 2.36 GAA and .920 save percentage. The Canadiens acquired him from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 14, 2013 in exchange for goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.

(Photo by Peter McCabe/The Gazette)

Rangers vs. Canadiens preview, NHL.com

Game Notes

Rangers coach Vigneault discusses strategy (video), newyorkrangers.com

McDonagh named Rangers MVP, newyorkrangers.com

Rookie goalie leads Lightning over Columbus, NHL.com

Lightning’s Malone charged with DUI, possession of cocaine, montrealgazette.com

Malone arrested on DUI, cocaine charges, Tampa Bay Times

Playoff field set, NHL.com

Habs should have edge on Lightning in playoffs, by The Gazette’s Pat Hickey

Little Davey now standing tall for Habs, by The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs

Desharnais on his childhood (video), Canadiens.com

Captain Gionta receives Jacques Beauchamp trophy, by The Gazette’s Brenda Branswell

There was a time when Habs almost folded, by Gazette Sports Editor Stu Cowan

Subban deserves more respect, Letters to the Sports Editor

Roy brings shine back to Colorado, by Pat Hickey

127 Comments

  1. on2ndthought says:

    new thread

    “a cannonading drive”

  2. ffenliv says:

    Regarding home ice:

    I did a quick tally of all the playoff series tsince the 1938/39 season (when, according to what I read, was the introduction of the best-of-seven series).

    There have been something like 686 total playoff rounds (that number isn’t exact, but is likely close).

    According to NHL.com, as of 2009, there had been 128 game 7s. Add in some more for the intervening 4 playoff years, and we’ll call it 135. So, roughly 1/5 series goes to a game.

    With that in mind, and considering a coach’s poll done by someone .. Friedman maybe? .. that indicated a majority of coaches would favour opening on the road, I’m not convinced home-ice means much.

    A team isn’t likely to encounter one in a season, and only has about a 60% chance of winning the home-ice game seven anyway.

    edit: I’ll add that in the salary cap era, home games which generate big money aren’t as important for big-money teams, which are spending at or near to the cap anyway. However, there may be some financial incentive for budget teams to get home ice, as bonus games at home might increase their budget.

  3. RetroMikey says:

    Yup, as the song goes….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_H-LY4Jb2M&feature=kp

    We had home ice wrapped up but we choked, home ice is so critical in the playoffs.

    Lightning in 6…..even without Bishop they have a solid forechecking team and will give Vanek-Desharnais-Pacioretty problems along withthe other lines.

    Price’s year to shine in the playoffs but I don’t see it happening.

    “We will win the Cup one day only with ? in the nets “

    • ffenliv says:

      I’ll admit that a week ago I had the same opinion as you, re: importance of home ice.

      However, after a bit of digging and reading about it, it seems as though it’s really not.

      When you think back, we were all *told* about the importance of it, and so we continued to assume it throughout our hockey-loving lives.

      However, as I said, it seems not be as important as we always believed. In fact, during an informal coaches poll, something ilke 2/3 of NHL coaches said they’d actually rather open on the road, believing there are benefits to that which out-weigh game 7 at home – which is the only real advantage to home ice.

      I don’t have links handy, but I’d encourage you to search around for it. I was really, really surprised.

    • smiler2729 says:

      Still a dink eh and still whining about what is and what should be…

      _______________________________________
      Jack Edwards is a clam.
      Gary Bettman is a bobblehead.
      The “CH” in CHOKE stands for Toronto Maple Leafs.

  4. HabFab says:

    HabinBurlington – I have it on good authority that Chrisadiens is now a Married man!
    Congrats Chris!

    Congrats to Chris, love the figure on the wedding cake. The groom is wearing a Habs jersey :D
    Jim raised that boy good!!!

  5. Habcouver says:

    Freakin’ Tuuka Rask. Padding his “W”s against the Barfalo.
    I hope he gets complacent and bombs in the playoffs. Can only cross my fingers.

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

  6. Luke says:

    Spiethy! Go get it! Woooo! Off to watch the rest of the round with my Pa at the pub.

    Happy Saturday!

  7. It freakin snowed last night.

    Missing the game tonight to watch Darlington, drink beers with a bunch of old friends from the 2nd, and then we’re gonna party like it’s 1999.

    Shane Oliver
    Twitter @Sholi2000
    http://www.Sholi2000.com
    Custom Sports Figures
    Congrats Carey Price and PK Subban, Montreal’s Gold Medal Members!

  8. jols says:

    Malone arrested for drunk driving and cocaine possession in Tampa last night or early this morning…

  9. johnnylarue says:

    I honestly believe the Habs will be better off if they start on the road.

    It essentially gives them a psychological ‘gimme’ if they come out flat for their first game, whereas losing Game 1 at home could be a confidence killer.

    • Strummer says:

      The only problem with starting on the road is that game 7 will also be on the road.
      Ask the last 3 Canadian teams to play in the SCF how that worked out.

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

  10. Slackman says:

    So Hal Gill is with the Flyers? Since when?

    “When the going get’s weird, the weird turn pro”

  11. montreal ace says:

    I like Blunden and hope that he shows improvement from his time with the Dogs. I liked the signing of Tokarski, the Dogs coach should have made him number 1 sooner. I also hope Myers goes back to Europe and that Dubnyk signs for a year, with the chance of getting help from Waite.

  12. matrags says:

    Patch become our Rocket and carry this team on your back,and when your team mates come over the boards they will hear the roar,Les Cansdiens sont la!!!

  13. CJ says:

    The Masters! I’ll catch up with everyone in four hours!

    Just had shawarma for lunch. I have pints on ice. Today is going to be awesome!

  14. jrshabs1 says:

    I hope Mr. Cherry doesn’t catch wind of these drug and hockey player stories, if he does we will be in for 1 teary Coaches Corner. LoL! I’ve got a few Sens. stories.

    MOAR BIGGAR!!!!!

  15. habs001 says:

    The Tampa series will be a toss up….Now if the Habs lose the series and they dont sign Vanek is there any reason to think the forwards will be better next year over 82 games…This is not a young team and they may have a better chance in the playoffs this year than next…

    • Habcouver says:

      I’ll agree the series is a toss up, although I give Habs the edge with the Price factor.
      I honestly believe Vanek will not be back, and I hope I’m wrong.
      I do believe the Habs have better teams and playoff results in the coming years.

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

  16. Habitoba says:

    If the NHL did some drug testing right now before the playoffs, I wouldn’t be surprised to find more players caught using the booger sugar than just that bonehead Malone…

    • smiler2729 says:

      My buddy was a guitarist in a duo that played a lot of bars in the ’90s and ’00s, and he’s a big Leaf fan.

      Shayne Corson & friends came backstage to meet them, he said he was like a kid in a candy store until he saw #27 do a couple of lines with his buddies.

      _______________________________________
      Jack Edwards is a clam.
      Gary Bettman is a bobblehead.
      The “CH” in CHOKE stands for Toronto Maple Leafs.

      • Habitoba says:

        While in Manitoba, rumours dogged Captain Serious doing a bump or two before games. Hope they were just that, rumours

        • smiler2729 says:

          That I just don’t see, Patrick Kane, yeah, he’s a party boy, beating up cabbies but Captain Serious seems zoned in to one thing: being an NHL player

          _______________________________________
          Jack Edwards is a clam.
          Gary Bettman is a bobblehead.
          The “CH” in CHOKE stands for Toronto Maple Leafs.

          • Habcouver says:

            Not rumor mongering but…
            LA Kings: Brown, Quick? and it’s LA.

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

          • likehoy says:

            if we’re talking LA, what about Richards and Carter! the infamous duo that didn’t want to do the dry island in philly

          • Habitoba says:

            I’m with ya on that but you don’t necessarily have to be a partyboy…

        • likehoy says:

          why do you think more and more players are developing heart conditions in the NHL in the last 4-5 years?

          sure some of them are preconditioned, but it’s exacerbated by the use of recreational and performance enhancing drugs.

          • smiler2729 says:

            No doubt

            _______________________________________
            Jack Edwards is a clam.
            Gary Bettman is a bobblehead.
            The “CH” in CHOKE stands for Toronto Maple Leafs.

    • CJ says:

      I think people would be shocked. I’ve heard so many stories, from guys in the business, and players themselves, I’ve almost become numb to it. Sorry, no pun intended.

  17. smiler2729 says:

    Ryan Malone, what a surprise….
    Heavily tattooed, way too much money, living in Florida.
    Party on.

    _______________________________________
    Jack Edwards is a clam.
    Gary Bettman is a bobblehead.
    The “CH” in CHOKE stands for Toronto Maple Leafs.

    • Slackman says:

      Solid argument. Being heavily tattooed = cocaine use. You must be some kind of genius.

      “When the going get’s weird, the weird turn pro”

      • smiler2729 says:

        Real genius.

        _______________________________________
        Jack Edwards is a clam.
        Gary Bettman is a bobblehead.
        The “CH” in CHOKE stands for Toronto Maple Leafs.

  18. Paz says:

    If the Habs got bonus points for 4th line depth I think we would finish first overall this year.

  19. Timo says:

    Blunden is the 21st century Turner Stevenson.

  20. Black Horse says:

    Habs >>>> Lighting ….

  21. Timo says:

    If Habs don’t have home ice advantage how will Therrien going to make sure Bouillon is on the ice against Stamkos. They HAVE to secure home ice. Just have to.

  22. UKRAINIANhab says:

    Speaking of Blunden remember when Cunneyworth had him with Pleks…

    Anyways, Home ice could be more important than some think, the refs these days are bad enough and with a home crowd if this goes to game 7 could help alot. Also, we could match lines (Plekanec on Stamkos)

  23. Black Horse says:

    It is a wonderful day here in Southern Ontario. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping & I am wearing shorts.

    Being negative & angry takes up too much energy so I though to myself starting today I would try being positive towards my Habs for a change. I have to let go of the years of built up frustration & bitterness.

    I have lived to see many great Canadien teams. I have lived to see many Stanley Cup wins, something many hockey fans have never experienced.

    Hab fans have been spoiled with great teams of yesteryear & we expect all the time but with the “New” NHL that will not happen.

    We have to realize that this is a sport, entertainment a past time. We have no control of what happens on the ice. We have to embrace the wins & forget the losses.

    I know that Montreal can play with the best teams, we have seen that this season. My mind tells me that they can go far in this springs playoffs “IF” they can play the way we all know they can.

    We just need the PP to start clicking, somewhat anyway. We need a a goal or two or three from Ellar, Borque & Prust. Briere needs to produce a few like he has done many times before. The D need to tighten up & make clean stick to stick breakout passes. I feel that offence starts with good defence. Don’t give the opposition clear looks at Carey Price.

    I am looking forward to a long playoff run this spring. 3 rounds would be a success. That will be huge to build off of don’t you think?

    Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

  24. Habcouver says:

    Something very likable with Roy Nelson.
    Looks more like my Uncle Jake, not an MMA guy.

    http://www.sportsnet.ca/mma/ufc/roy-nelson-knocks-out-antonio-rodrigo-nogueira-at-ufc-fight-night-abu-dhabi/

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

  25. Buzz Lightbeer says:

    Malone all gacked up on the yayo. Seems like a strange way to get prepared for the playoffs.

  26. Cal says:

    Haven’t heard enough about the McDonagh trade? Click here!

    Have a great day, everyone!

  27. PrimeTime says:

    Speaking of desperate…..subjects such as “Home-ice advantage slipping away” ; “…McDonaugh…”; …..Roy…”; “Subban deserves more respect”???? Why not some actual Habs reporting on this site???
    Is this like talk radio riding controversial subjects to drive ratings and responses from moronic fans?? How far has media fallen from the days when it actually informed the public instead trying to build an audience??

  28. NightRyder says:

    Home-ice advantage is overrated.

    Win one of the first two games in a less-pressurized atmosphere and you get it back anyway.

    Maybe Ryan Malone will take Stamkos out for a pop or two this weekend…

  29. frontenac1 says:

    Sweet Hands Blunden in tonight! Not much of a scrapper but he will drop em for his mates.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5xUlBGmT4o

    • Habcouver says:

      I watched Blunden when I went to a Nucks game a few years back. I didn’t think he played that bad. Big body up front. Guess he didn’t progress as much as expected by coaching staff but I believe he would almost comparable to present day Moen or Bork.

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

    • monmick says:

      Yeah, sweet hands. He will drop his gloves to arrange and opponent’s hair…

      ~~~> Mathematically eliminated…

  30. JUST ME says:

    Tokarski actually did exactly what was expected from a guy like Blunden but never happened in his case. He seized the occasion and made the most of it. Tokarski will have an interresting challenge next season in Hamilton since many players from the Bergevin`s draft will be injecting new blood in the farm team. About time ! So in between our number one Carey and the far away candidate to be number 1 Fucale there is plenty of job for a guy like Tokarski.

  31. Commandant says:

    Jake Virtanen is #11 on the list. I hope he slips to Montreal, would be a perfect pick for us.
    http://lastwordonsports.com/2014/04/12/2014-nhl-draft-profile-11-jake-virtanen/

    The Internet Hotstove looks at the Habs/Tampa series.
    http://lastwordonsports.com/2014/04/12/internet-hotstove-montreal-canadiens/

    Go Habs Go!

    http://lastwordonsports.com/

  32. Habcouver says:

    Good morning thoughts:

    – Enjoy being a Hab fan despite any criticism you’re hearing.
    – Habs are better off starting on the road.
    – PK will be just fine – both in the playoffs and his life.
    – Ryan Malone must be plain stupid but he’s not the first or last.

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

  33. HabinBurlington says:

    I have it on good authority that Chrisadiens is now a Married man!

    Congrats Chris!

    • HabFan in Edmonton says:

      Hard to disagree with any of those thoughts. I am not overly concerned whether they get home ice advantage or not. When the Kings won the cup a couple years ago they didn’t have home ice advantage in any series, I think home ice advantage is over rated although I am sure Mr. Molson would like to have that extra home game.

  34. shiram says:

    Derek Wills ‏@dogsplaybyplay
    Congrats to @CanadiensMTL prospect & @BulldogsAHL goalie @DustinTokarski on new 2-year contract! 2-way AHL / NHL in 14-15, NHL in 15-16.

    • Habcouver says:

      I can’t see the Habs moving Boods unless he asks. He seems to love Montreal and is a great complement to Pricey. Is signing Toker required to keep him in the system for a future trade or to stabilize the Dogs? Fucale isn’t ready for another 3-4 years but will be in the plans once Boods does move on, m’thinks. :)

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

  35. frontenac1 says:

    Prust back on the Ice! Nice picture eh?

  36. Danno says:

    The 24-CH David Desharnais piece on the Canadiens.com site is heart-warming

    ________________________________________

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

  37. Timo says:

    No matter what happens in the playoffs (no much) there will still be one more year (at least) of Therrien. This is so depressing.

    • PrimeTime says:

      Give it a rest. Its old! It’s truly sad that you continue this empty act of desperate attention every day. Are you still bullied as you were as a kid?

      • JohnInTruro says:

        I would say he gets bullied more here than he ever would of as a kid. It’s old, but that’s what makes it funny sometimes.

        • PrimeTime says:

          I fail to see the humour in the sadness of an addicted loser seeking empty validation driven by ones life’s failures to be accepted as proven by repeated cries of jealousy of others successes and hopes of their demise as a form of satisfaction and false sense of acceptance.

    • piper says:

      I wonder what PK thinks of that.

  38. Marc says:

    Perhaps Bergevin should trade for the McDonough guy. He might turn out to be pretty good. :)
    ———————————————————————————————————————-
    If a man speaks in a forest where no woman can hear him, is he still wrong?

  39. Danno says:

    Home ice advantage is over-rated. But it means a lot if you hold a ticket for game seven.

    ________________________________________

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

  40. Habilis says:

    Interesting that the second year of Tokarski’s deal is strictly one way (NHL). Looks like he’s on track to be the backup after Budaj departs. Good for him, I think he’ll be really solid in that role.

    • BJ says:

      They may have had to throw that clause in to keep him in the organization. I think it guarantees him a NHL salary even if he stays in the AHL (to be confirmed by someone more knowledgeable).

      • Habilis says:

        Yeah that’s true. Plus his salary is something like 1 million so even if he does go down, 900k of that is off the NHL books.

        But it would make sense for Tokarski to take the backup role going forward. He’s much younger than Budaj and as such is cheaper. He also has far more value from an asset standpoint.

        I like Budaj for what he brings, but this is a no brainer moving forward, IMHO.

        • BJ says:

          He has also won at every level so far. I’ve seen him for the Bulldogs in about 10-12 games and he’s a very good goalie. Good signing.

        • rhino514 says:

          Budaj isn´t old by any means. If you take out the string of games when Price was hurt, which was really asking too much of Budaj, he was absolutely stellar this year and one of the best back ups in the league.

          • Habilis says:

            I never said that Budaj is old, I said that Tokarski is younger. Budaj is 31, Tokarski is 24. That’s a big difference in pro hockey years.

            I agree with you, Budaj has been the perfect backup goalie. I’m not trying to slight him here. But if I’m the GM and I have to choose between the two at some point, I’m going with Tokarski.

  41. Feraco says:

    Subban deserves more respect.

    • BJ says:

      I’m almost overdosed with PK posts. I hope he finds his game and contributes to take us to the second round.

    • PrimeTime says:

      Says who?

      ********************************************************
      “Fans are entitled to express their opinion, but most of the comments on talk radio and on The Gazette’s Hockey Inside/Out website ranged from the mildly uninformed to the outrageously stupid” – Pat Hickey.

      º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º

  42. chanchilla says:

    Damnit.


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