Kirk’s ‘Canes on the upswing

jm11 0606 habs rookies 12.jpg

Kirk Muller’s Carolina Hurricanes stand in the way of the Canadiens extending their winning streak to season’s best five games and despite their last place standing in the Eastern Conference, this young group is a club the Habs cannot take lightly.

They’ve gotten 16 of their last 24 points and that’s an impressive stretch for any club. “In the last 10-15 games, we’re beating some of the top teams in the league, we’re right there, our record, with everyone else and if we can do that going down the stretch, you never know what’s going to happen,” coach Muller told the media on Sunday (and you can hear his remarks, if you haven’t already, in Dave Stubbs HIO post from yesterday).

The Hurricanes have beaten the Bruins twice in the last month, as well as the Kings, Capitals, Lightning and Jets plus getting regulation ties before losing in OT against Avs, Ducks and Islanders and losing in the post-game skills competition to the Penguins.

Strangely (or perhaps not) they’ve done this since trading Alexei Ponikarovsky to the Devils three weeks ago for a minor leaguer and a draft pick. Ponikarovsky has played well for New Jersey but Carolina hasn’t suffered his absence.

“In our last 10 games on the road we’re almost .500, in our last 10 games at home we’re 7-2-1, so if you do that over the course of 82 games, that’s a pretty good formula to be fightin’ up to the top,” Muller added “Our last 10, 15 games we’re playing really good hockey and I wanna take that momentum right from here to the end of the year.”

They’re wrapping up a three-game road trip at the Bell Centre Monday after losing the first two in overtime in Anaheim and Colorado, the last with two seconds remaining.

“We’re definitely on the right track,” said captain Eric Staal, who had a goal and assist Friday in Denver. “We’re in every game. We’re playing hard. If we keep doing what we’re doing, I think we’ll get rewarded.”

Part of the turnaround has been the improved play of Cam Ward in goal. After a leaky first half that saw his goals-against balloon to 3.24 and his save percentage drop to .896 at the end of December, he’s lifted both dramatically. He’s now at 2.79 and .912.

Staal, too, has been better than he was earlier, with 16 points in his last 15 games. His rugged winger Tuomo Ruuttu has been the subject of trade rumors that GM Jim Rutherford is hoping to squelch by negotiating a contract extension, so his value to the ‘Canes has been established. Jiri Tlusty, who’s playing on Staal’s other wing has eight points in his last 12 games, a good pace for him.

Other factors in the ‘Canes play of late include getting the exciting Jeff Skinner back a month ago. Last season’s Calder Trophy winner had missed 16 games due to concussion, although he’s not yet scoring at the pace he was prior to the injury (only five points in 10 games, compared to 24 points in his first 30 games).

Recognizing hs defence corps is not particularly physical, Rutherford surprised a lot of observers by getting a contract extension negotiated with tough Tim Gleason. Muller with work to get Gleason and Bryan Allen, the ‘Canes veteran shutdown pair on against the Cole-Desharnais-Pacioretty line.

The Hurricanes’ second pair of big Jay Harrison and Justin Faulk have been a pleasant surprise for Muller. Harrison had a shaky reputation for play in his own end, especially against speedy forwards, but he’s improved quite a bit this season by playing better positionally. It allowed Muller to put rookie Faulk with him. The 19-year-old is terrific with the puck and has been installed as the power play quarterback while injured Joni Pitkanen recovers from his concussion and knee surgery. “Kid’s good, he’s good,” Muller said of Falk.

Ex-Hab Jaro Spacek, like Muller in his first trip back to Montreal, is on the third pair with Jamie McBain, acting as something of a mentor to the former collegiate star. Spacek is also the subject of many trade rumors.

Carolina recalled Jerome Samson from their AHL team in Charlotte for this game. He’s a native of Greenfield Park and Muller said he’d be in the lineup to play in his hometown. He’s had a goal (his first in the NHL) in three games for the Hurricanes this season.

Here’s how Muller’s team should line up for the game:

Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal, Tuomo Ruutu
Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen, Chad LaRose
Andreas Nodl, Brandon Sutter, Patrick Dwyer
Jerome Samson, Tim Brent, Anthony Stewart

Tim Gleason, Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison, Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek, Jamie McBain

Cam Ward
Justin Peters

184 Comments

  1. montreal ace says:

    I hope the canes are using walking ones after the game tonight, after a good thrashing

  2. shiram says:

    From John Lu Tsn Montreal..
    “#Habs Cunneyworth says Markov is up to 50 minutes’ skating per session and is able to exert more on the knee. Still no timetable for return.”

    Never fear Habs fans, Markov is only taking so much time because they are prepping him to play the whole game!

    • Timo says:

      Markov updates become as annoying as Crosby updates. Aww, Markov went for a skate. A double Aww – he put pressure on his knee. Even more Awww – he had sushi for dinner last night.

      • sanman_11 says:

        I’m happy for the updates. If we can get close and he comes back at even .33 pts per game (way below his average), that’s may be the difference between an OT win and a shootout.

        I doubt he will be ready but 50 minutes sounds like the plan is to fatigue the knee and see how it responds before any contact. Very smart given the set backs.

        I’m a HABS fan not a Leaf blower.

      • shiram says:

        It would be great to see him play a few games this season, it’s knowledge management needs to have before going into the off-season.

      • The Jackal says:

        Aww Timo posted something negative. Double aww, he used sarcasm. Even more aww – ran out of f**ks to give.

  3. shiram says:

    White and Schultz not practicing with the team, the 3 games in 3 days is probably why they are not practicing.
    White and Schultz both had above 20 minutes of penalties against the Marlies.
    RC did not say if they would play tonight, but “those guys are in good shape, they can take it”

  4. HabinBurlington says:

    Nothing earth shattering in this blog, but a nice a summation of what many of us have been talking about on this site.
    http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Steven-Hindle/What-5-Wins-in-a-Row-Could-Mean-for-the-Habs/139/42134

  5. Habshire says:

    C’mon TSN! Any reason you can’t flip the switch and go nation wide tonight? Oh I see, you have to show a trade deadline preview because otherwise we wouldn’t know what to expect.

    • habs17 says:

      ya i agree countdown to tradecenter is a stupid terrible idea just milking trade deadline for everything its worth

      I support Scott Gomez

      • HabinBurlington says:

        You don’t enjoy watching Dreger talk out of both sides of his mouth as he proctects himself against any and all possible trades or lack thereof?

      • Vladdy Mondavi says:

        Both TSN and Sportsnet are guilty of making the Trade Deadline bigger than it should be.
        A prime example was TSN rented out advertisement space along the boards. I saw it at the beginning of the Canucks/Flames game on Saturday as the teams were getting on the ice.
        The ad specifically for the Feb 27 Trade Deadline show… 24 hours of talking heads talking out of their keesters.
        _______________________________
        Opinions are like kittens, I’m giving them away.

    • HabinBurlington says:

      Yup I hear you Habshire, it’s not that I mind watching on RDS even though my french is worse than Cunny’s, problem for me is Quebec Owned Regional Cable Carrier Cogeco, doesn’t provide RDS in HD format here in Southern Ontario where I live.

      I have had numerous heated discussions with them regarding this. The idea of switching to Bell is there, but there is a company i was hoping to never provide another nickel to.

      • kempie says:

        Last time I checked, Cogeco doesn’t provide RDS AT ALL in Peterborough. Not at all, in standard or HD, at any cost. That was the last conversation I had with Cogeco. I’m pretty happy with Bell.

        • ffenliv says:

          A fellow Peterboroughan .. ite … er? Not sure how that’s said, strangely.

          I’ve been looking at my TV options the last week, and you just eliminated Cogeco from the list.

          I’d wave if ever I see you in town, but I doubt your avatar is actually you!

        • Curtis O Habs says:

          I`m in the St. Catherines area and cogeco provides RDS with their Francophone theme package, in digital only however.

  6. habs17 says:

    DRIVE FOR THE PLAYOFFS

    I support Scott Gomez

  7. j0nHABS says:

    What is with the talk that Moen is injured? Who is saying this? He just got back.

  8. habsfan0 says:

    Anybody know what the current status of Markov is and his ETA?

  9. HabsFan82 says:

    HH Glad you’re not coaching. a 4th liner on the 2nd line won’t win you many games. they may be winning now but it’s gonna back fire.
    weak players with good players that only works for awhile. Been there done that and seen the results.

    • savethepuck says:

      Maybe you haven’t noticed that Darche with Plex and Moen have shut down in the last 3 games the Malkin line, the Tavares line and the Kessell line. Too much labelling of 1st line, 2nd line, 3rd line here. All this team really has is a 4th line that gets limited minutes. The other 3 lines get ice time based on the game situation and how they are playing that particular game.

      “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
      Carey Price

  10. jon514 says:

    I read somewhere that White has been playing RW in Hamilton the past 4 games. Any truth?

    “Let’s be clear on the facts…”

  11. G-Man says:

    Poll question results are up to 32% yes. That’s up from roughly 26% from when I first noticed it last week. The bandwagon is beginning to fill up again…

  12. adamkennelly says:

    I love the Schultz call up – we all knew White was coming back but I sure hope these guys don’t try to match up with Thornton and Lucic cause they’ll get pounded…but its a step in the right direction, not sure why this was not done a month ago.

    • joeybarrie says:

      I think Schultz will match up fine against Thornton physically. Problem is Thornton is a better player.
      No one on our team can match up to Lucic really. But we can refuse to fight him. And just stay in his face. When he is concentrating on playing physically and hitting, he produces nothing offensively. Not hard to keep him in the box.

      There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

    • canadiens_habs says:

      im excited to have white back and to get a chance to c schultz. just because he’s young doesn’t mean he isn’t a good fighter. its about time that we had some size on our fourth line and some guys willing to fight n stick up for their teammates

  13. joeybarrie says:

    Reading the comments about the playoffs. Some of the reasons we are sitting out of the playoffs.
    agreed to slow start
    agreed to AWFUL powerplay (missing Markov, Hamr, Wiz, MULLER)
    what I didn’t notice was TERRIBLE shootout ability/selection.
    We should easily have 4-5 more points on that alone.

    Things just haven’t gone right for this team this season. Again injuries killing us. But we are getting the chance to find players who add depth to this team.

    With a solid powerplay and good shootout players, we could easily be in 6th or 7th place.

    But we have a crappy PP, and our guys are not great in the shootout.
    Still, lots of games remaining and we need to play just like we are till the end. If we do, we will find ourselves right in the mix. But its still a long uphill battle where everything pretty much has to go right for us. And that has not been the case in the last 4 years.

    • Seps says:

      I agree considering we’ve never been this good 5-on-5. Our 5-on-5 goal ratio according to nhl.com is 1.07, The only teams above us are Boston, Vancouver, San Jose, Detroit, New York and St. Louis, all cup contenders. We’re 4th in the East in GA and 5th in the East in GF/GA +/- at Even. We have the best PK, clearly, we resemble an elite team statistically. So why oh why aren’t we in the playoffs? The only reason I can see is because of a) the shootout losses and b) a 29th place powerplay. Many games we could’ve won by just getting one more PP goal, like the SO loss to Ottawa a month ago when we were on the PP the whole game and didn’t do anything, one PP goal and that game is a regulation win instead of a SO loss.

      • Momentum is a two-way street, guys. You are right to point out the slow start. Boone wrote an excellent article on how the Canadiens dogged themselves starting in training camp. I’ll see if I can still find the link and add it here. It makes many good points.

        • My error – it was a Pat Hickey column.

          http://www.faceoff.com/hockey/teams/montreal-canadiens/Preseason+greed+hurts+Canadiens/6111739/story.html

          Quote:

          But there’s one other discussion that should be taking place, and that’s an examination of how the franchise approaches training camp and exhibition games.

          Ask the players about this disappointing season and they will talk about never recovering from a slow start. The Canadiens lost seven of their first eight games, and you can blame it on a training camp that’s more about corporate greed than preparing a team for high-level competition.

          In a policy that predates the current ownership, the Canadiens routinely schedule five preseason games at home. Throw in some road games and the Canadiens cram eight or nine exhibition games into less than two weeks. Before the current season, the Canadiens had three days of practice to open camp and then played six games in seven nights.

          While the Canadiens went into camp with a good idea of who was going to be on the opening-night roster, there were more than 50 bodies at camp, and many of them were cannon fodder to help the team get through the busy preseason schedule.

          Read the full article…it gets more detailed.

          • Seps says:

            That article raises a valid point. During training camp I noticed when other teams were cutting their teams down to the last 3 or 4 players, we still had almost two teams of guys still in camp. I never really thought about that affecting the team’s performance but it makes a whole world of sense.

            Edit: Although that still doesn’t help having JM as a coach at the start of the year in addition to a garbage PP

      • joeybarrie says:

        All true. We are still missing the player who can score no matter what. An elite goalscorer who constantly gets us going.
        Stamkos, Sedin, Backstrom, Malkin, Crosby….
        But I’m pretty happy seeing MaxPac become a 30 goal scorer. Hopefully better. With him, Cole, Bourque, Eller, Kostitsyn, and hopefully a healthy Markov we have some decent sized scorers.
        Fast small scrappy guys like Gio and DD.
        Experienced vets like Gill, Gomez, and Moen.
        young talented kids.
        our boy Price who when is playing well gives us a great chance at winning. We are not great at playing catchup.
        and of course our jack of all traits Pleks…..
        We have a recipe for a top 5 team.
        We simply need them on the ice and playing to their capability.
        same song same dance pretty much every season lately.

        only thing that sucks right now, may be too late to get in the playoffs, and a top 5 draft pick would have been nice.
        There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

    • HabFanSince72 says:

      By far our biggest problem is third period play. I posted the stats earlier but we are in the top 4-5 of the conference for periods one and two and next to last for period three.

      I think this is due in part to always playing three lines.


      Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

      • shiram says:

        That makes sense HF72, but looking at the TOI of the Habs player, none are getting overworked, Subban and Gorges are getting alot of time, but that’s to be expected from a #1 D pairing, and our only forward over 20 minutes is Plekanec.
        I’ve been checking the TOI after just about every game, and it seems to me they should not be tired out after only 2 periods.

        Unless conditionning is an issue.

      • joeybarrie says:

        With a barebones team that is constantly missing top players and doing their best to make it work with a 3rd or 4th line player on the top two. We are always playing 3 lines to make it work. And other teams know they can play hard in the 3rd and probably be successful.
        we don’t have the strongest defence there either.

        There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

    • JUST ME says:

      The initial difference comes from the terrible start of the season. Never could catch up (so far) the precious points that we lost.
      I think that the pre-season games did not do any good for the team. Too many games,too much place for the youngsters .If you already know that Beaullieu,Gallagher,Bournival and so on are going back to the minors ,why don`t you give the ice time for the chosen ones ? They were just not in the groove at official puck drop.

  14. DorvalTony says:

    Alexei Kovalev sings “This is the end my friend.”

    Moscow Oblast Atlant KHL 16 GP 1 G 5 A 6 Pts 12 PiM -10

  15. shiram says:

    5-0 pasting of the Leafs., even the tankers can appreciate that, right? A lovely night, and good on Eller for making Phaneuf look like a pylon out there.
    Momentum seems to be swining into the Habs side, and that’s great, maybe they needed an adaptation period under RC, but they are playing well right now.
    I’ll be intrigued to see how RC sets the lines, with the added depth of White and truculence of Schultz.

    Rumours about Moen being out with concussion symptons.
    Fourth period says he won’t be traded, as he is in the Habs future : http://www.thefourthperiod.com/news/mtl120212.html

  16. Seps says:

    Rumours swirling in a potential blockbuster deal,

    To Buffalo:
    Patty Kane
    Corey Crawford

    To Chicago:
    Derek Roy
    Ryan Miller

  17. Stev.R says:

    Anyone follow PG on twitter? His tweets always seemed somewhat legit, but if you look back at his older tweets, it’s either a fake account or he’s got a pretty good sense of humor.

  18. habbernack says:

    Anyone know where the Cane’s PP ranks.

    ability is what you’re capable of doing.
    attitude determines how you do it

  19. HabinBurlington says:

    Hopefully tonight we see the same from the Plex line, big assignment shutting down the Staal line. As others have said, this is like having Guy Carboneau back on the squad.

  20. habs03 says:

    Moen-White-Schultz, nice 4th line for the Bruins game..Hobie Hasen(sp) probably is doing doing cart wheels somewhere lol

  21. Mad Habber says:

    I was looking over the remain schedule for the teams in the playoff chase or at least some of them. (Washington, Florida, Montreal, Leafs and Ottawa.)

    Even though I don’t think they will; Montreal still has a very solid chances at making the play-offs. The play the Sens (March 14th, 16th, 23rd) three more times and play Florida (Feb 26th, March 27th), Washington (Feb 24th, March 31st), and the Leafs (Mar 3rd, April 7th) twice.

    I went along and predicted outcomes for each game where each team will finish if I guess them all right (yeah right)

    3- Washington 94pts
    7- Florida 93 pts
    8- Toronto 91 pts

    9- Montreal 89 pts
    10 Ottawa 85 pts

    Leafs get in on the back of the loser point in both games against the Habs.

    I should add the Canes could do the same as they play all the teams several times as well. I predicted mostly wins against them though, they can definitely play the role of spoiler if not contend for a spot.

  22. Some random interesting thought food when considering whether Canadiens are a playoff team or not:

    With 106 five-on-five goals, the Canadiens rank 11th in the league, and seventh in the Eastern Conference. This category used to be a sore point. It has improved.

    The Habs’ 147* goals scored in total rank them 14th overall, and 9th in the East, only three goals behind the conference leading Rangers.

    Montreal’s penalty kill is at 89.7% – best in the league, and the highest NHL rank in close to 15 seasons. It is clearly here where Canadiens are managing to stay close in games.

    Their goals against of 142* is 10th best in the NHL, third best in the East, behind only the Bruins and Rangers. While the PK ratio certainly influences this, it’s important to note that Canadiens are 12th in even-strngth goals against with 99 would be fifth best in East.

    In shots for/against on the season, Montreal stands at 1626 – 1606 (29.0%-28.75). When outshooting opponants in games, their win percentage is .333% (8-13-3). When being outshot by opponants, the percentage is .414% (12-11-6). When shots are even, they are 3-0. Their overal ranks here are 29th, 24th and tied for 1st with four other clubs.

    Other stats:

    Faceoffs 48.6% – 24th overall

    Home hits 648 – 13th overall, 7th in the East behind NYR, Tor, Was, NYI, Phi, and Ott. Bruins 22nd with 581.

    Road hits 672 – 18th overall, 9th in the East. NYR are first 833, Bos are 27th 489.

    The Achilles’ heel, the powerplay is 29th with a rate of 13.1. Their 27 goals ranks 25th.

    Canadiens were 13-12-7 under Martin. They are 10-12-2 under Cunneyworth.

    Since acquiring Rene Bourque, Canadiens are 7-4-1.

    Of the Canadiens’ final 26 games, 12 are home dates.

    5 of those are out-of-conference games against the Stars (home Feb. 21), the Wild (home Mar. 21), the Flames, Oilers and Canucks (road Mar. 6, 8 & 10)

    The 21 others are against Eastern rivals and the breakdown is as follows (road gms in CAPS): Hurricanes, Bruins, SABRES, Devils, CAPITALS, PANTHERS, LIGHTNING, Leafs, SABRES, Senators, SENATORS, Islanders, SABRES, Senators, FLYERS, Panthers, RANGERS, CAPITALS, Lightning, HURRICANES, Leafs.

    Legend for below: Road games in Caps, season record vs, (game results), total GF/GA

    Hurricanes, HURRICANES: 2-0 (4-0, 4-3 SO) 8-3
    Bruins: 2-3 (2-1, 4-2, 0-1, 2-3, 1-2) 9-9
    Devils: 1-2 (2-1, 3-5, 3-5) 8-11
    CAPITALS, CAPITALS: 0-2 (0-3,0-3) 0-6
    PANTHERS, Panthers: 0-2 (1-2, 2-3) 3-5
    LIGHTNING, Lightning: 1-1 (3-4, 3-1) 6-5
    Leafs, Leafs: 2-1-1 (0-2, 4-5 OT, 3-1 ,5-0) 12-8
    SABRES, SABRES, SABRES: 0-2-1 (1-3, 2-3SO, 1-3) 4-9
    Senators, SENATORS, Senators: 2-0-1 (2-1, 2-1, 2-3S0) 6-5
    Islanders: 2-1 (3-4, 5-3, 4-2) 12-9
    FLYERS: 1-2 (5-1, 1-3, 3-4) 8-8
    RANGERS: 2-1 (3-5, 4-0, 4-1) 11-6

    Against these 12 opponants, the Canadiens record is 15-17-3 with a combined GF/GA of 87-84

    * Minus shootout totals

    • habs03 says:

      Habs would be sitting in 4-6 in the East quiet easily if it wasn’t for 3 things..

      1: Poor start
      2:Horrible PP (Markov not there)
      3:Coaching change: team was lost for the 5-6 games after RC took over.

      • Throw in 4 pts for referee miscues on the Letang and Parise goals and Habs are just three points out of eighth place. Panic is Montreal reflex – there’s no need to blow up this team.

        • Chris says:

          I’m assuming that you are referring to the Letang goal, which was scored in overtime. So that one only cost the Habs a chance at 1 point, and given Price’s struggles in the shootout at that point in the season, I’m not sure it was a terribly good chance. ;)

        • HabFanSince72 says:

          You need to factor in all referee miscues for all teams. though.


          Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

          • Do you have a schedule of games reffed by Chris Lee?

            I get what your saying, and maybe it’s just my opinion, but doesn’t it seem to you that Canadiens get the cheap end of the shaft more often that their opponants?

    • Ron says:

      Great to see you posting Robert. Those are tell tale stats and if they continue to play with the confidience they have shown in the last few games the remaining games should prove to be worth watching. Hope you stay around a while.

      • Thanks for the kind words!

        Those stats are far from complete. I wasn’t up to tracking all the blown lead things, wins after trailing stuff.

        The Habs have played strong games against quality opponants this season and now appear to be much better prepared against lesser teams. All games are tough come February, but I like the things that are trending over the last 10 games. The PP is showing a little spark too.

        I look at things this way. The Canadiens players know themselves that they are not as bad as their record. They will be playing for pride the rest of the way – especially after having pride scorched by Cammalleri’s words before he left town. His comments – perhaps misquoted – could be seen at the turning point in the season. It was a heeluva wake up call.

        • Ron says:

          I think your right as too the Cammie mess. It did seem that the team came together on and off the ice . Much better ice management of the players by the coachs has been a factor as well. The media has tried to kick the sh*t out of the Habs as well and I believe the team as a whole stepped up and shown many they are much better than the win – lose stats.

    • jedimyrmidon says:

      Nice stats. When people say that the Habs are just not that good, I bet they don’t pay attention to these sorts of numbers and just to W-L-OTL. With the number of things that have gone wrong for the Habs this season, it’s amazing they actually have decent numbers. They should definitely not be where they are (well, except for the PP which is horrible).

      Also interesting is that they’ve achieved this with an extremely young and inexperienced blueline: when a guy in his 2nd year is the 3rd most experienced D in the NHL on your team, that shows how young they are.

      So, PG, no need to have a fire sale. Just need to steadily improve this team.

  23. HabinBurlington says:

    Perhaps the callup of the forwards is more an indication of a trade amongst our Dmen, and that now the Habs will revert back to 6Dmen and 12 forwards.

    • G-Man says:

      Campoli, Diaz, Weber and Gill are all in play.

      • HabinBurlington says:

        Agree G, hope we hear some news on Markov in the next few days. Given he was skating last week, he should be close to practising non contact with the team or we hear setback. I am cheering for the former.

        • G-Man says:

          I’m hoping the Habs keep Markov’s return quiet until he suits up on Saturday night and reclaims his #1 spot as the Habs best Dman. PErhaps, in 2 weeks, if the stars and his knees align…

          • kempie says:

            I try not to think about Markov too much anymore because, well you know. But when I do, I’m less concerned about the mechanics of his knee and more worried about if the guy remembers how to play hockey the way he did at this level. The last time he returned from rehab it took a while for him to settle back in (or did he?) and the dude has missed a lot of hockey. He’s a guy who relies on playing a smart positional game more than size & speed but many posters here have played have played more hockey than Markov in the past 2 years.

            I really hope he is able to resume practising with the team again soon and get a few games in before the snow melts. If he’s not going to be ready for next season, we need to know soon. I believe that the absence of Markov or a suitable replacement has cost us a lot of points this year. I hope PG has some kind of a plan ready if Markov can’t come back. We need someone to anchor this D. And I don’t mean anchor in a Campoli or Weber kind of way.

          • canadiens_habs says:

            i would wait and see how the team is doing by the trade deadline. if wer out of the playoff picture and decide to b sellers then don’t bring him back this year. Thers no point in risking an early return and re-injuring his knee for a lost season. better give him the extra months to come back that much stronger next season and assure that we can b at least a playoff team next year

      • kirkiswork says:

        I would really like to include Kaberle in that bunch.

  24. HabinBurlington says:

    As usual an excellent pregame read on the opponent. Stu it is appreciated by the masses these articles you provide. Thanks.

  25. 365fan says:

    In ’09 and ’11 we tried the turn-the-other-cheek routine with the Bruins and look where that got us, out of the playoffs and with our guys in the hospital. Schultz and White (and hopefully Moen), along with Bourque and Emelin show that at least PG is trying something different this year.

    Historically when we have thoroughly dominated the Bruins (like during the ’70 and early to mid ’80s) we were able to prevent them from dominating us physically, which allowed us to play them straight up and win. To do so we needed Bouchard, Lambert, Tremblay, Lupien, Nilan, Kordic, McPhee, Corson, Momesso etc. They played on teams put together by guys like Pollock, Bowman, and Savard, who knew a thing or two about winning. Recently we have tried playing having Tom Pyatt and Spacek in the trenches against them and it hasn’t worked.

    Like it or not, we cannot change the league in which we play. Teams like Philly and Boston will try and hurt our key players and the league won’t stop them. It looks like PG is finally starting to realize that if he doesn’t have White or Schultz dealing with the goons from the Bruins, then it wil be left to the Paciorettys and Subbans to do it themselves.

  26. mdp2011 says:

    Both White and Shultz played Friday, Saturday, and yesterday. 3 games in 3 nights, I highly doubt that either one will be in the line up tonight.

  27. ths says:

    Good call ups. I like these guys but you may as well have Gomer and Gio against Lucic and Chara. Different league, but these guys wil make a great 4th line

    Ooh Aah Habs on the trade path

  28. CH4Life says:

    I really like RC as a coach, but i hope Captain KIRK will be back
    behind the habs bench soon. He has the stuff to coach in Montreal and our powerplay would be at least 9% better.

    The whole Thomas talk is getting totally out of control, who cares about his poltical view, he has to win and if it wasnt for him, the bruins would be still waiting for a cup.

    Habs will win tonight – good game by price……he looks unbeatable at the moment. Go get em boys!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    **************************************************
    I hate the Bruins………i really do!!

  29. HabsFan82 says:

    I’m not RC and don’t pretend to be – This would be my starting lines against captain Kirk see how it goes make changes if need be.

    Cole Desharnais Max-pac
    Bourque Plekanec Kostitsyn
    Darche Eller Leblanc
    White Gomez Schulz

    If the canes wanna stick to hockey fine – If they don’t we have something in store for them – white, Schulz, Cole, Bourque,
    Max-Pac. to take care of the rough stuff and than we have Leblanc, Eller, Kostitsyn, Pleks, Bourque, Cole, Desharnais and Max-Pac to light up the scoreboard and a goalie as good as theirs to back it up. as much as I like captain Kirk bring it on.

  30. Phil C says:

    Muller was right to leave, it wasn’t going to happen for him in Montreal because Martin would have never been fired as long as Muller was there. Muller compensated well for JM’s shortcomings and JM was wise enough to give Muller a lot of leeway to influence things. Cunneyworth and Martin were too much alike in terms of playing strategy to continue the success that Martin and Muller had. In fact, I still think that RC could use an assistant like Muller to help with the powerplay, but I doubt it will happen this year.

  31. Le Jadester says:

    Nice pic of Captain Kirk on the headline Mr. Hackel !
    Man, I wish he was our coach.

    Although I’m not minding Randy so much right now.
    Obviously it helps when you go 4 in a row and spank the Laffs in their own barn.

    I’m also wondering why AK’s ToI has been cut lately ?
    He must be in the works of a trade ?
    I wonder if the goat could muster a good trade and then sign him back in the offseason at that home town discount ?

    Habs, OLE !

  32. Captain aHab says:

    Tea leaves are not positive this morning…..Habs will look passed the Canes to the Bruins and will start off slow like they did against Torrona. But, unlike the Laffs, the Canes will play loose and make them pay. Loss tonight for the boys.

    —————-
    McGuire for GM!
    Roy for Coach!
    Sh*t for Brains!

  33. Psycho29 says:

    So the latest from Tony Marinaro this morning, he’s not sure about the call up of Ian Schultz.
    In his words, “Schultz is no good, he’s not good enough to play for any other team in the NHL.”

    Has anyone thought about Maguire as GM and Marinaro as his assistant????

    • LafleurGuy says:

      Saw White, Schultz, and others at Copps Colisseum yesterday. Bland game. White was opportunistic. Schultz did not look bad. Skating ability is OK. 2 – 0 Bulldogs and the choreography had both teams play the trap and thus a levelling effect transpired, meaning the best were not much different from the worst. Angel(o) Esposito played for the Texas Stars and did not stand out

      “May you live in interesting times.”

    • Marinaro’s not good enough to be on radio. Dull, absolutely uninsightful….but a nice guy.

      • Psycho29 says:

        He showed his true colors the night of the Bourque trade. I tuned in and the host had a caller on the line complaining about trading Cammy; and how awful Bourque’s contract is. He also predicted that Bourque won’t play out the rest of his contract with the Habs. He will end up being traded, etc.
        Anyhow, I thought it was a fan…..it was Marinaro ranting about a guy who hadn’t played a game for the Habs at that point yet…

      • RD says:

        You beat me to the punch.

        I can’t stand Marinaro. Most of the time, he makes absolutely no sense at all and then he’ll just toss out a 50-50 guess on something to show adept he is.

        Most importantly, he isn’t even a good broadcaster. I know that radio station has pretty low standards as to who they put on the air (remember listening to Gabriel Morency and his awkward pauses?). Maybe being under the TSN umbrella will eventually make him go away…

      • SmartDog says:

        He just seems like he either doesn’t really pay attention or like he’s dumb. Either way he sounds like he’s pulling ideas out of his donkey. Totally useless.

        ————————————-
        Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

        • What kills Tony’s cred for me, is his bungling of quotes and stats. In this day and age, where every bit of info is at your fingertips, his lack of knowledge is unforgivable. He has to be authoritive, or at least give that perception, but that’s unachievable for him without a command of facts. Any opinion from there on, has no more worth than Joe Schmoe’s. It might be branded TSN, but it’s a fan station. I won’t even get started on the game announcers. Montrealers are terribly missing the boys from CKAC.

    • steve17 says:

      If Marinaro is that good a judge of talent, maybe he should apply for a scouting job! I have not seen Shultz play this season and had read he was not in great shape at the beginning of the season, but maybe bringing him up will give him the motivation he needs. When he arrived in Montreal, he did say he wanted to show he could be a Lucic type player. Let’s hope those weren’t empty words!

      Habfan17

  34. SmartDog says:

    They forgot to mention jettisoning Kaberle as one other change that’s strengthened the Canes blue line.

    Sounds like Kirk’s done some good work too. Nice to see he Habs’ve launched another good coach into the league.

    ————————————-
    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

    • Stu Hackel says:

      Good point on Kaberle, Dog. The development of Harrison and, especially, Faulk made that possible.

      • LafleurGuy says:

        Like the Jay Harrison situation. Resembles Matthieu Darche’s. Funny how the Leafs shovelled boatloads of cash to upgrade their defence and then let an affordable NHLer go. (First time I got to follow the coattails/thread of a VIP like Mr. Hackel)

        “May you live in interesting times.”

  35. petefleet says:

    Hold the phone!!!! Recent call ups have left the Habs with a log jam at forward. Even if Moen is traded, that still leaves and extra body laying around.
    27 14 52
    67 51 72
    60 81 71
    46 11 ?
    extras: White, Schultz

    That also leaves a D man in the press box. Odds on favourite is Weber.

    To be honest, I like the way RC has managed the forwards by subbing in Cole, Bourque and Max on the 4th line. Why not give the guys with some fire power a chance to play a little more if they’re deserving of it?

    The line up from Saturday night looked good, balanced. I hope they can beat Capt. Kirk with it tonight.

    ******************************************

    Nothing would be written at all if a man waited until he could write it so well that no one could find fault with it.

    ***Habs Forever***

  36. jonnyp says:

    Scotty gomez is the best thing that ever happen to Montreal !! Go Scottie go

    • petefleet says:

      LMAO

      ******************************************

      Nothing would be written at all if a man waited until he could write it so well that no one could find fault with it.

      ***Habs Forever***

  37. Thanks Stu! Looking forward to this one!

    Mike Boone: “With Gainey at my side, I’d walk into any dark alley in the world.”

  38. steve17 says:

    It is fun to say what if. What if Kirk Muller had stayed on? I wish him well tonight.

    The Habs have run off 4 straight which is great. I was never one of the fans that wanted them to tank, but, Having said that, I am one of those fans that hope this recent success doesn’t go to the heads of the brain trust. Sure, the team is playing much better than they were. Cunneyworth was thrown into the fire and it takes time to make changes. I know what people say, once we are in the play offs, anything can happen. But in reality, these Habs are not built to be solid contenders this season, or for the next few. I happen to think that they have strong prospects that will help them in a season or two, but there is a lack of forwards that have size and will go through a wall in the system.

    The defence is fine with Nash, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Ellis, Dietz and Patryn. They add size, offence and some bite! Diaz and Emelin will be that much better with a year of NHL experience. Gorges is the anchor! Subban will rebound.

    Up front, DD, Pacman, Cole, Bourque, Eller, Leblanc, White and Blunden give the habs a good mix of size and skill. I’d like to see them resign Moen. Detroit has proven you can win with average sized centres and big wingers, playing a tough team game, which does not mean fighting.

    Montreal has a great opportunity to turn their UFA’s into picks and prospects. They can also take some roster players and RFA’s and potentially add players that will fill holes and help them be competative on a yearly basis. At centre, Eller and DD have proven they are more than good enough. Some would say that neither is a first line centre, but I would challenge you to define a first line centre! There are only a few superstar power centres and most teams do not have them. LeBlanc is coming along very well and White will soon be ready. That means that Plekanec holds a lot of value, especially since we have been reading that not much will be available at the deadline. That could drive the price up more. It may get the Habs a top prospect that could fit on the wing on the 2nd line. Packaging Pleks with Weber, Kostitsyn, or one of the UFA’s might really help the Habs long term. I love Pleks as a Hab but this is a business and the Habs are in the business of winning long term.

    I say if the right return is there, move Gill, Kostitsyn, Plekanec, Weber, Kaberle, and Nokelainen.

    As for Gomez, it is not his fault that Sather lost his mind and threw huge contracts at a few players. I don’t think any of us would be complaining about Gomez if he were making $2 to 3$ million/season. At the end of the day, it would be nice if the Habs could get his contract off the books, only because they would have the money to spend on more players. If any of us were offered 10 times what we are making tody to join another company, would we say no?

    We should not boo Gomez, we should boo sather and the other GM’s that spend like drunken sailors, they are the ones that keep our teams from being competative when they throw most of the budget at 3 or 4 players!!

    Habfan17

  39. G-Man says:

    Nice read on what the Canes and Muller have in store for tonight. Thanks, Stu.
    Habs going for 5 in a row. Keep smiling, people. And stop commenting on Mr. Floppy. This ain’t a Gooins site. Or a political one.

  40. The Dude says:

    May atheistic socialist hockey players from the Evil Empire of Scandinavia score at leisure on TeaBagger Tim Thomas for the rest of his career!

  41. 24moreCups says:

    I agree, but what does that have to do with our game against the Canes?

  42. Marc10 says:

    It’s probably consistent with the Tea Bagger hypocrisy on what they did before Obama got into office.

    What most of those cretins won’t tell you, and what Timmy T won’t tell you, is that they voted for Dubya, not once… but twice! And now that it’s convenient, they’re all anti-spend, anti-government… The last thing those simpleton hypocrites want is for someone to call them on their double standards and ask them who they voted for before a Black Democrat took office… So let’s not be surprised when this flake joins their ranks.

  43. The Cat says:

    Im surprised teams dont have rules about social media. Thomas is older and his career winding down, but hes making it hard for the bruins to keep him. Most teams wont want this potential distraction.

    [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

  44. Ferguson says:

    I could not have said it better myself.

  45. VancouverHab says:

    Ouch– partisan politics and LSD apparently produce the same painful warp of muddled verbiage.

    Turn it down–in fact, this is a hockey site: turn it right the heck off.

  46. The Dude says:

    One has to ask oneself …Can the 1% support the NHL if everyone else is pooched?I don’t think so and there’s your relevancy.

  47. Marc10 says:

    And then you follow up the Dude’s post with your own partisan drivel. Hi Pot.

    But you’re right about this being a hockey site. I just couldn’t help lay into a hypocrite douche who wears piss and brown. And you know I’m right about the tea f***ers. Timmy T just proves my point by being a yellow bellied right winger who cuts and runs when he’s under fire. These people should admit who they backed right up until their black nemesis took power. But they won’t. They’re the worst kinds of cowards.

    Now back to the Habs…

    We beat the Canes, we’re still alive… but barely. We follow that up by beating the Bruins and things get interesting – especially with the way Carey is dialing it in right now. But I just don’t see it. I hope my Habs prove me wrong and become the team they can be – but the math is pretty daunting. I’m hoping we’re clear one way or another before the deadline. I’d hate to lose Gill, Moen and AK for nothing if we’re not going to make it.

  48. Thomas Le Fan says:

    If these people played hockey, their teams would have two left wings and no centre. Come to think of it, sort of like Comrade Obama.
    For a Bruin, I’m liking Timmy Thomas more every day. Especially how he stirs up the maroons among us.

    Now … enough politics … Screw tanking … Go Habs!

    http://pjmedia.com/blog/its-not-personal-why-we-resist-obamas-power-grabs/

    “The Secretary shall develop oral healthcare components that shall include tooth-level surveillance.” – Obamacare mandate.

  49. VancouverHab says:

    Well, self-delimited to stay out of politics here, I’ll just use straightforward math.

    What a vile use of numbers that whole “1%” thing is.

    1.] On any wealth distribution scale ranged from lowest to highest in any society that isn’t oppressed by governing force to artificial egalitarianism, the top 1% will by definition have by far the most wealth. Duh!

    The partisan authors of this 1% publicity campaign are just taking as a parameter that the majority of ordinary people are outright morons and will be too dumb to see this flagrancy. (It’s like saying that “Did you know that as much as 50% of the population are in the bottom half of the wealth scale?” To the barricades!!!”)

    2.] Wealth is not a zero-sum reality. I could not give a fig if the top 1% — or the top .01% — had ten thousand times the wealth they do now. Their success does not effect me in any way. I have my life, and opportunity to keep, lose, or increase my wealth abundantly life anyone else, and that’s my path & my choices. Wealth can be made literally from thin air: ingenuity & endevour plus Fortune & Providence are all that’s needed.

    Envy for the more wealthy and self-pity for my (relative but not absolute) lesser wealth are alike mean and detestable moral attitudes that should be cast aside as unworthy.

  50. RD says:

    Even if we beat the canes, we’re not alive.
    We’ve watched this team all season. It’s nice to see them winning some games but they are not going to sustain .700 hockey for the rest of the season. Even worse, they will probably finish around 11th or 10th and get a lousy pick.

  51. RD says:

    Why should you get a free pass? Sure, write complete partisan right wing garbage and say enough about politics…

    That’s like punching a guy in the face and then saying…”ok, I’m done fighting, see ya!”.

    If you want to keep politics out of the discussion, start by keeping your own politics to yourself.

  52. RD says:

    Thomas should not be traded for his political views. That would be a mistake by the Bruins organization and not a very classy gesture towards their con smythe trophy winner.

    Sure, his teamates might think he’s a d-bag but he’s part of the team core and his play has been very strong.

  53. Teams and the NHL have rules regarding social media, but they are quite lax. One that I do know of, is that players are not allowed to tweet or post regarding games, a certain number of hours before and after.

    I think Paul Bissonette of Pheonix has been a rule or two in this regard, as he sits out quite a bit.

    This would be an interesting question to put to Bob McKenzie.

    It’s curious to watch the Bruins faulter some after Thomas’ words. It’s easy to suggest from the outside that he’s part of the cause, but his teammates have likely heard his opinions for quite for time now.

    The old adage is to never mix sports and politics, but in roundabout ways, that’s exactly what Thomas is doing. It’s not so odd also that he refuses to answer to it, as that’s likely a team instruction. Jeremy Jacobs, the Bruins owner, is most certainly a capitalist who does not appreciate his goalie’s views. Ditto for TD Banknorth.

  54. Might need a stronger center to play against Paille, with Thornton and Campbell.

  55. G-Man says:

    Nice to see you back patrolling the site, RL.

  56. Merci. Got a little downtime + sparked by the win streak.

    I think these Habs are going to make it in. Sens are free falling.

  57. sanman_11 says:

    Blunden had surgery, he’s out. Moen is injured as well.

    I’m a HABS fan not a Leaf blower.

  58. HabsfanoftheHabs says:

    Better redo those projected lineups HH

  59. j0nHABS says:

    where did you hear that he got injured again? He just got back.

  60. j0nHABS says:

    I am really excited to see White back! They missed his grit and determination all season. I don’t know if Schultz is an NHL’er even as a forth liner but they could use the grit. We’ll find out I guess.

  61. j0nHABS says:

    Where is Moen? Try again!

  62. CanadienBoy says:

    I would love for the Habs to get is brother D men from the Cap to beef up ours back end

  63. Kooch7800 says:

    fighting isn’t all size either…some of it is just skill. Look at White, he isn’t that big but is strong. He is always going toe to toe with bigger guys

  64. ffenliv says:

    The real difference between the two is that Thornton is (and has been since his junior days) a very good fighter.

    I’m pretty sure he still holds the Petes record for most PIMS in a season, and they weren’t all tripping and hooking calls….

    I’m not saying Schultz would end up in the hospital or anything, but that Thornton has the fighting edge.

  65. LesHabs says:

    Schultz is listed at 6’1″ – 179lbs

  66. jon514 says:

    I love the way Cunney coaches. 4 lines each get about 10 minutes. Extra ice time is earned by succeeding at offensive/defensive assignments. In the past 4 games I don’t think there’s a forward who’s played less than 9 minutes… and it’s working!

    “Let’s be clear on the facts…”

  67. LesHabs says:

    Remember Francis Bouillon? (would say pound for pound one of the toughest in the NHL – 5’8″ – 198lbs)

  68. canadiens_habs says:

    moen is back, however he got injured again so idk how long hes gona b out this time

  69. canadiens_habs says:

    the problem with gomez playing center on the fourth is that he doesn’t fit as a fourth line player. White n Schultz are most likely gona play on the fourth line and i would rather have a big, gritty player to round out that line n then finally we would have a proper fourth line


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