Latendresse promoted to first line

Guillaume Latendresse
Up with Koivu, Higgins

Pat Hickey reports from practice that the Canadiens have a new top line for tomorrow’s game in Toronto vs. the Maple Leafs: Saku Koivu centring Christopher Higgins and Guillaume Latendresse. Michael Ryder has been demoted to the third line, on which he joins Kyle Chipchura and Mathieu Dandenault. The fourth line has Bryan Smolinski centring Tom Kostopoulos and Steve Bégin.

(These two lines are probably interchageable, 3 and 3A.)

The Thomas Plekanec-Andrei Kostitsyn-Alex Kovalev second line remains intact.

Defenceman Francis Bouillon returns to the lineup against the Leafs in Toronto tomorrow. D Josh Gorges returns to the pressbox.

Carey Price gets the start in goal tomorrow. 

Andrei Markov, who was banged up in the Buffalo game, skipped practice with a "therapy day" …. like 1.3 million Canadiens fans who were late for work this morning because they were telling Freudian analysts how Patrice Brisebois reminds them of their mothers.

131 Comments

  1. The Teacher says:

    Ryder has actually PICKED his game up over the last few games..everyone’s off their rocker.

    I repeat

    I’d MUCH rather have this year’s Ryder than last year…

    I was a big critic of Ryder’s last year…not this year..he doesn’t deserve it this year. We told him to hit and shoot more…he is….they aren’t going in..ok, that’s life..there’s 82 games, not 21….

  2. The Teacher says:

    My favorite one is

    The last time the Laughs won a cup, Tim Horton was still a hockey player…..

    now…that’s SAD!

  3. Jay Gold says:

    Scouting Report on Lats…
    Assets: Has an outstanding combination of size and hockey sense. Is equally strong scoring goals or setting up teammates. Already possesses excellent hitting ability.
    Flaws: Is a liability in the defensive zone, so he needs to work on his play without the puck. Tries to do too much with the puck WHEN HE IS ON HIS OFF-WING (RIGHT).
    Career potential: Power forward.

    Good call man…this scares me…

  4. showey47 says:

    You make a very valid point but smolinski brings something nobody can bring from hamilton right now which is leadership and experience. Besides its not like anyone is playing well enough to earn a shot other than sergei kostitsyn but lever says he goes through lazy stretches, lapierre who has been inconsistent with his efforts. The one player who no one talks about, ferland who is leading the team in goals could be interesting. It is a long season and injuries will happen which means call ups will happen. This is why it is important for everyone to be playing well in hamilton because who is ever playing well when an injury occurs will be the person getting the call up. Thats the point

    Besides he is also been our best face-off guy which is a whole other issue

  5. Blitzen says:

    So why not give one or two of them a shot at the Bigs instead of playing guys like Smolstinky, who looks like a former NHLer right about now?

  6. habsfan reduxit says:

    “… like 1.3 million Canadiens fans who were late for work this morning because they were telling Freudian analysts how Patrice Brisebois reminds them of their mothers.”

    Mike?? say what??

    … perhaps an explanation or two might help this Habs fan avoid the psychologist’s bench.

  7. Vancouver Hab Fan says:

    I agree that Smolinski does not deserve his roster spot. He has made some positive contributions but he has made more negative plays, particularly brutal are his blind passes in his own end that go right to the opposition and create scroing chances against the Habs. The guy has made brutal giveaways in each of at least the last 5 games. I would cut him and promote Milroy to see what he can do.

  8. coutNY says:

    I don’t think Montreal secretly would jeopordize their season to keep Ryder, but it’s funny, I jokingly said the same thing last year about our Defenseman during the Jan and February struggles. As for signing elsewhere this year, he was still a Ristricted FA. Meaning, Montreal would have had to turn down an Arbitration ruling in order for him to go elsewhere. I’m guessing he thought his value would have been greatly effected by his poor +/- in a hearing…?

  9. Deano says:

    As President of the CHipper fan club, I will echo your comments with a slight twist.

    In last year’s Calder Cup run, there were only two Bulldogs who stood head and shoulders above everyone else … Price and CHipper. Not Lapierre … Not Grabovksi … Not Locke … Not D’Agostini … Not Milroy.

    He could hold the puck for extended periods of time and could not be moved off it. He aways played against the other team’s top line and always shut them down.

    I saw the last 7 games in Hamilton and no forward or D was close.

  10. jonnyhabface says:

    i think from a practical standpoint we can all agree Lats is being moved up to our SECOND line…I think the PAKK line has been our ‘unofficial’ first unit for a few games now…

  11. krob1000 says:

    I have a great idea…….instead of concerning ourselves with Brisebois (who has played well), Ryder (who I think has played well and had tough luck) and Latendresse(who is a KID and come on strong as of late) we should start with our TO bashing a day early. What does a grandparent and a leaf fan have in common…….both were in their primes in 1967!!! Anyone notice what happens to Leaves in the winter…..they fall, get stepped on, raked, trampled or burned. Too bad the Buds are never around for the Spring!!! Toronto Maple Leafs….The Air Canada Centre ????Is that because they blow!!! HEY TLUSTY…..nuff said!!! ………..Ian…. White and Blue…..the end of a sentence we don’t want to hear the beginning of!!!

  12. A. Berke says:

    I fully agree with you. Brisebois has played a good game so far, and filled the role assigned to him. Yes he had a few passes gone bad and was caught behind as well but the rest of our D did make the same mistakes just as often. Furthermore he’s one of the least paid players on the team. He never was billed as the saviour or the star player of the team.

    On the other hand there are some other players who are making beaucoup dollars and not producing (although they seem to have their cheering groupies to always rush to their defence).

    I think ignoring the shortcomings of your “preferred” players and instead picking on another player who has been pretty steady but not stellar, is nothing but using a double standard.

    Ali B.

  13. Dan23 says:

    I’m okay with this change – if Lats can’t handle his new duties, I’m quite confident Carbo will shove him back onto the fourth line in no time.

    Ryder needs a change, and frankly so does the first line.

    I’m more concerned with tomorrow night’s effort – so far this season, I have not seen the Habs play one good game against the Leafs, even the ones where they have won.

    There’s a burgeoning crisis in Hogtown, especially after getting lit up by Phoenix for five goals on Saturday. Sundin called his linemates out, and I know they’re going to come out hard at the ACC. The Habs will have to match that and then some if they’re going to come out of it with a couple of points.

  14. johnnyhab says:

    The line up changes are fine…Guy just stick with them for the entire game please! give it a chance to gel!

  15. krob1000 says:

    I said he was a leader (fourth in the league qualifies as a leader to me). I did not say he led Montreal. When the league lists its scoring leaders do they list them in order of guys who led their teams?? Sorry if the word leader led you to believe I meant he led the team or league but 4th best in the entire league is pretty darn good to me. Fourth best power play guy in the league and we haven’t been using him quite often….doesn’t add up. I wonder if secretly management doesn’t want Ryder to fare too well or his cost may rise (sorry for even suggesting that but I have wondered it at times). He obviously enjoys Montreal or I am sure he could have taken more money to sign elsewhere given the ridiculous deals that were done. With alld ue respect to Gainey and Carbo I have owndered this more thanonce in the last couple of weeks because if they want to trade him you would think they would try and get him going and raise his stock. Only time will tell but the most important thing is we are still doing very well and this run in with the Sabres is really no real reason for panic.

  16. showey47 says:

    back in 1990 i used to watch a player for the sudbury wolves. He was a power forward who scored goals, and was physically dominant. But always looked like he was skating on his ankles. The difference with this guy is that he spent time in the minors to develop his game before going to the nhl, his name was glen murray. This is what lats needs to do.

  17. habsernyk says:

    Hello all! This is my first post. Very excited to be part of this website. It’s been my Habs lifeline since late last year.

    Anyway, I think this is a good move regardless of the player moved into Ryder’s position. Koivu and Higgins have seemed lost the last 3-4 games. It looks like they’re trying to help Ryder get out of his funk yet every time he gets the puck he bobbles it or skates around with it only to turn it over. He’s trying really hard to find his groove but it’s at the expense of two players who could do way more with the puck. At least on a less talented line it won’t be such a waste.

    This should help Koivu and Higgins get going since they can just “go” knowing that Latendresse will eventually catch up with them in the offensive zone.

    I just hope that, short of a disaster, Carbo lets the lines gel for a bit before he panics and reverts them. I thought he made a good call switching Ryder and Kostopoulos two weeks ago but as soon as Ryder scored he “rewarded” him back to the first line. He didn’t give Kostopolous a chance or let Ryder find any kind of groove. If he meant to punish Ryder he didn’t give it time to sink in.

    JAS

    Go Habs!

  18. krob1000 says:

    Thank you, I knew he was right up there. I am still upset that we didn’t use Ryder in that 5 on 3 against Toronto. That would have been the perfect opportunity for him and the team. That was a big blow to his confidence I am sure and it came at the expense of the team. Don’t get me wrong I think Carbo has done an incredible job with everything except the Ryder situation. He has even overcome his own personal obstacles and is now a decent interview and has yet to put his foot in his mouth in quite some time.

  19. Cable Guy says:

    I’m sorry but promoting LAts to the top line is the equivalent of making JFJ the President of the Maple laffs, ok maybe not that extreme but he doesn’t deserve to be on the top line, he doesn’t deserve to be on this roster period.

  20. showey47 says:

    “whats the point” guys like milroy,ferland,locke,danis,cote,archer and lahti are all ufa’s next season. These guys are playing for jobs next season, if not for this team probably another team. They have had inconsistent goaltending for most of the season any maybe some calder cup hangover like the anaheim ducks have had at the start of this season.

    The difference between a future nhl’er and a career minor leaguer is the earlier plays desperate game in and game out so he doesn’t become the later.

  21. HABIT says:

    we need a break out player, a scorer, a star, a star…bob gainey bring us a STAR PLAYER.

  22. coutNY says:

    FYI, Teemu Selanne had 25… Souray had 19 so he was not the leader among Montreal players… Kovalchuk 18…. Ryder tied for 4th with 5 guys….

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/statistics?stat=nhlscoring&league=nhl&sort=ppg&order=true&qual=true&season=2007&seasontype=2&pos=all

  23. krob1000 says:

    As much as I don’t like Latendresse on a “first line” this move does make sense. It gets Ryder onto a line that will consider him the go to guy. We can capitalize on Chipchuras apparent hockey sense. Latendresse was effective last year when teamed with Koivu and if he does go to the net and play big he will do alright. Higgins has eighty something shots on net and only 9 goals….thta’s a lot of rebounds up for grabs. My only real criticism is that Ryder won’t be getting as much ice time when his play warrants it over the guys who are going to get more. He should remain on the power play and I hope Carbo doesn’t go with the lines as the power play units because that would be doing us a disservice (Ryder off the powerplay as he was a league leader in ppg’s last year). I believe (someone please correct me) he scored 17 of his goals on the pp.

  24. RJ says:

    Personally, I’m tired of the Brisbois bashing. The guy has played well this season and he is the LEAST of this team’s real issues. We need players who can score and come through when the game is on the line.

  25. Gooner says:

    I really don’t understand why Latendresse would be put on the first line. The kid isn’t ready for the big league yet let alone the first line!! Carbo also has to quit rolling 4 lines all the time. We do not have enough talent. When we are down late in the game he needs to start double shifting people who are playing well.

  26. nightmare_49 says:

    Ryder was a poor skater in his 1st year and has improved about 50% in my opinion and i’m no expert but i don’t see any suttle change in his style of skating, he just worked hard at it.

  27. Blitzen says:

    Smokes has played well? wow…

    I can’t blame guys in Hamilton who may not be as motivated this year. They won their championship last year and have a couple of underachieving stiffs taking up slots in front of them on the big club. After a while, you may begin to say to yourself: “what’s the point?”

    Bring up Laps and tell him he’s on a short leash and that the other end of that leash is located near Toronto. You’ll see the motivation come right back. It’s nice to make a point but these are young guys and you can discourage them by showing absolutely no confidence in them when you give confidence to Smokes who is playing through the motions, collecting his millions, right now.

  28. krob1000 says:

    I also currently teach power skating (8-14 year olds) but I do think he is correctable. You are right it seems to be balance but I think it is as simple as him not leading with his shoulders. He often turns his shoulders one way while skating the other….a common simple mistake. He honestly just needs to turn his head and leave his houlders square. It also seems to happen (the falling) when he stands and turns while too upright and doesn’t bend his knees (laziness is all this is). His stride would be very difficult to change (isn’t that bad though) but I think you are referring to his balance issues. Skating is all about bending the knees and it is very energy consuming so people cheat and when they do so they cheat themselves (kids or adults). He could definitely use daily balance drills ( a lot of of one leg stuff !!!! all one leg stuff !!!!)

  29. Derek says:

    You guys show a great point, i wasn’t advocating that ryder stay on the first line though. I believe there has to be a better solution than latendresse to fix our overall offense.

    And i agree with both of you, ryder just isn’t getting the job done. I didn’t understand how he got so many goals his first 3 seasons and yet when i spoke to people they told me he was simply a great a player. I called it “luck” and on a line with koivu. And now we see…. even with koivu… his luck is running thin.

  30. arcosenate says:

    what is the reference to brisebois and mothers? can put this all on ryder, noone is scoring. at least on the ice. tomorrow is one of those games where you have a chance to really bury a team in trouble, i wonder if the habs have it in them to do it?

  31. Les-Habitants says:

    According to Lever, Lapierre still has to improve a lot on his 5 on 5 play and his effort level, night in and night out. Personally, I think Smokes has played well and is definitly not part of the problem. If Lapierre is still having trouble motivating himself, an essential quality for a checking-line centre, then (barring injury) there isn’t any reason to call him up.

  32. mjames says:

    You make some great points.

    mjames

  33. mjames says:

    If this is the response to the Habs recent woes then this is very discouraging. This does not address why we have lost the last 4 of 6. It is not the lines that are causing us the problem. It is our inability to handle a strong forecheck.

    Maybe Carbo is addressing the problem in practice. Who knows as we never read about what they do in practice. We only read about line changes. If I was the coach I would try to do the following:

    (1) – Players need to play as a five man unit. That means no separation between defense and forwards.

    (2) – Defense must not collapse into their end. We can not let the opposition carry the puck into our end. The Sabers did this endlessly on Saturday.

    (3) Forwards need to back check like demons. When in our end our wingers must neutralize their defense men. Also when required the wingers need to check the player in the high circle (i.e. Ottawa goals in Ottawa). This is a major failing of Kostitsyn. As much as I like this guy, he needs to be more active in his zone. He waits around for the outlet pass in his end. With his skill and speed he can be more involved and still be ready for the outlet pass.

    (4) To ease pressure in our end, Carbo should allow a two man forecheck, when we lose the puck in their end. This will guarantee turnovers. By pressuring, the opposition will be forced to make clearing passes which should allow our defense to intercept or disrupt in the center ice area, assuming they are remaining forward and not collapsing (i.e. no separation). I might add that Kovy and Kostitsyn used a two man forecheck once in the Buffalo game and they caused a turnover. Last time I checked these guys were not our best checkers. This forecheck we ease the pressure in our end as it will frustrate the opposition break out. You need speed to do this and we have speed.

    I am not the coach but this is what I would like to see. Last Saturday Buffalo was rushing into our end with three and sometimes four players. How many times did we let Campbell and Roy skate the length of the ice? Our defense just collapsed in. This is what happens when the forwards and defense separate.

    By the way that fourth line looks good. I hope Carbo plays them. As for Lats on the first line well anything he gives us is a plus. He certainly does not deserve the promotion but I have given up trying to figure out his treatment.

    Lastly, has anyone heard the rumor that Lats is slated to be the next captain?

    mjames

  34. Blitzen says:

    Chips and Dandy can get the puck off of the boards and Chips makes some sweet passes. I think this may work well for Ryder if he sits in the slot and waits for those passes to come. Chips and Dandy can also play D so Ryder may not have to think about it as much on that line, especially facing lesser talent from the other teams.

    Now sit down Smolinstink and bring up Lapierre to add some more grit to that checking line. Lapierre will be playing with a chip on his shoulder, something Smokes seems to lack right about now.

  35. Les-Habitants says:

    Ryder may be hitting, and yes his defensive game is much better, but he’s not doing his job as an offensive forward. Tender, for all the smack that has been directed his way, has been scoring and has done well when playing with Koivu. Ryder hasn’t been playing like an offensive forward, and with some sort of shakeup needed, there isn’t any reason to keep him on an offensive line.

    Smokes needs to remain at center since, quite frankly, there isn’t anyone available to take his place. Grabovski is too small to center a checking line, plus it was his offensive skills, not his defensive prowress, that kept him in the big club. No one in Hamilton has demonstrated that they deserve to be called up. So as it stands, Smokes remains our no.3 pivot.

  36. Blitzen says:

    I think having a big guy in front of the net is exactly what this line needs. Now maybe Ryder wasn’t doing it because that was, in fact, not in the gameplan. If it wasn’t in there, it should be. There’s no one close to the net whenever that line shoots on the goalie.

  37. theflower says:

    Geez, now the SMOGINAULT line becomes SMOGINOPOULOS well it still sounds ok I guess. I want my SMOGINAULT line back!

  38. theflower says:

    You are right on one thing every game Lats has played he can’t skate. I used to be involved in power skating and let me tell you, the reason he falls all the time, is because he has very poor balance and that has to do with his stride and skating ability. If he was 12 I could say its fixable, but he is not, so as far as getting better with time…….its a real longshot. You can teach a kid to skate better, but unless they are willing to change how they skated before it doesn’t matter. He clearly will never learn a better way to skate.

  39. Les-Habitants says:

    I like the lineup changes, although this means that both Ryder and Latendresse will be playing on their off-wings, right?

    LW – C – RW
    Higgins – Koivu – Lats
    Kostitsyn – Plek – Kovy
    Begin – Smokes – Kostopolous
    Ryder – Chip – Dandy

    Guess Carbo really does want to get Ryder out of his comfort zone.

  40. Derek says:

    Am I the only one who thinks this is NOT the answer to solving our offense problems? Ryder is hitting just as much as Lats, and unless he’s planning to just stand in front of the net as a screen, this line won’t be improved…..

    Try something new? how bout smolinski back on the wing on offense? the guy knows how to score obviously, look at his stats. We have plenty of people who can fill his shoes on defense… on a good day.

    How bout chips with begin and kostopolous as the shutdown line and make a third line that has a chance at going to the net as well? maybe grabs with some big wingers? If you want offense, you should allow the opportunity for it, am i right?

  41. Habs_008 says:

    lats on line one! ohh man, when I saw him 2 weeks ago in T.O he couldnt even skate, he tripped over the blue line! I guess he cant do any worse then Ryder is doing right now. I thought Ryder was gonna have a BIG year bc’s he is UFA. I guess money is not motivation enough for the boy. Lats will get better with time, he is very young, he needs to show that he belongs on the time and not in Hamilton.

  42. theflower says:

    Ed, I couldn’t agree more. I will say though, just from seeing it with my own eyes I love the Smoginault line. pronounce smo-gin-no, with the g in gin being a hard g not a soft g like Begin. hehe thats what my brother and I have renamed that line of Smolinski, Dandenault and Begin. It’s funny too my friend was with me at the game friday and he said he wasn’t sure about Dandy on that line but after the game he too realised Smoginault is really a great line. On a side note last year people asked me if Latendresse should make the team after I watched the whole rookie camp and I said no chance in hell, I did say Chipchura was ten times the player and as we are seeing he is. Go Smoginault Go!!! Oh btw you don’t call any of them by their name they all go by Smoginault, clearly I have too much time on my hands haha:)

  43. habfan53 says:

    I don’t see much difference in the two this year. Both CAN score but are having trouble finding the back of the net.
    Maybe with Lats on the first line it will add a little shakeup and UMPH, I’d like to see him parked in front like Espo used to.
    As for Ryder same thing a change will probably do him good plus I think Chips wants to be a little more offensive and this will give him the oppertunity as well.

    Luckily My wife was able to get me a couple of tickets for Tomorrows game so I’ll be able to see first hand
    (Sorry could’nt help it)

  44. J.T. says:

    Boone…I did a double-take after reading your original post. I assumed it was Dave or Kevin, but when I hit the bit about Freud and Breezer I had to check the author! Anyway, if Breezer reminded me at all of my mother, I’d be doing twenty-five to life for matricide.

    Anyway, I don’t consider this a demotion for Ryder if he’s still going to get his PP time and if Carbo continues to try and roll four lines. I think the Chips line is the actual third line anyway. Plus, I think with Dandenault’s speed and energy and Freddy’s ability to hold onto the puck in traffic, it frees up Ryder to get open for a shot. And he might actually get a pass once in a while from those guys, rather than watch Higgins (Hoggins?) carry the puck around like he thinks he’s Kovalev. I love him, but passing the puck once in a while wouldn’t kill him. Lats on the first line…sheesh. I can’t find much positive in that. Kid’s getting rewarded for doing no more than Ryder did…in fact, if you consider plus/minus an actual statistic that matters, he’s done considerably less.

  45. theflower says:

    I was at the game Friday night in Buffalo and I just want to say watching Latendresse go for the big skate again makes me ill. I have seen him play many times in person, including rookie camps and the like, how this kid is in the NHL is beyond me. This is one time where I think that a player is staying up strictly because, if they send him down they will be admitting they made a mistake last year and some believe there is still potential in him. I for one do not and never have he is the slowest skater on the team by far, has an awful stride and has horrible hands and refusing to use his size on a regular basis. As far as Ryder goes, even good scorers go through slumps. He worked hard friday night and his effort was there. To pick on him is just wrong, he has had some bad games no doubt, but so have others. If you look at every game we have lost this year the biggest issue has been backchecking. When teams transition on us we do not pick up the trailer and we have been killed by it, by Ottawa and twice by Buffalo this weekend. To see it happening in front of your eyes is even harder. I mean watching the wingers, worst of all Latendresse watching the trailer go past him and he doesn’t even think, hey thats my guy and watching our goalies left with their pants down in front of the net with a guy wide open, is hard to watch. Until our wingers learn to pick up the last guy will we get solutions. Also, I have seen Lapierre play in Hamilton this year and his speed and toughness makes a much better fit for the Habs than Latendresse.

  46. krob1000 says:

    I’d like to see them try Ryder on his offwing at some time to try and get him going.

  47. krob1000 says:

    Brisebois needs to take one for the team and give up a breakaway with a giveaway and draw the negativity back on him to help ol Ryder out.

  48. Ed says:

    A poster says they “hope that Ryder doesn’t bring his linemates down. They’re known for being defensive with an offensive spin, and this might make them not so good at either.”

    I am not sure where this comes from as Ryder is one of the players with a plus, while the majority are in the minuses. Some fans make it sound like Ryder is the worst defensive player on the team. Chipchura is the best forward at +5, and I think that, if Carbonneau leaves Ryder alone, he will produce on that line. When placed with Begin and Smolinski recently, he scored, and almost immediately was put back with Koivu and Higgins.

    http://www.nhl.com/nhlstats/app?fetchKey=20082MONSASAll&page=Stats&service=page&sort=plusMinus&viewName=summary

  49. KerryPrice says:

    At least some of us are on the same page. This is gross, and having to listen and read all the negitives against Ryder, The whole team has been playing crappy it`s last few games.I quess it`s all Ryder`s fault. Ryder`s the new whipping boy in Montreal i quess. To bad .

  50. Blitzen says:

    I agree that he can’t skate with them but I think Carbo had to make a couple of changes to shake things up. If he keeps rotating four lines, Ryder will go up against lesser competition and may score more, giving us production on a lower line. My hope is that Lats learns/is asked to sit in front of the net and pick up juicy rebounds. He has decent hands and he’ll get his share of goals.

  51. nightmare_49 says:

    The players are always disciplined when the team is not playing well. It could be curfew or skating the crap out of them in practice or call a practice for 6:00AM. Carbo makes them pay by putting his boy on the 1st line.

  52. rich_m_lewis says:

    Well said KerryPrice…couldnt agree with you more!

  53. rich_m_lewis says:

    How can any of you so called Habs “fans” be happy to see Lats on the first line? As bad as Ryder has looked on the first line this year, Latendresse will look that much worst. He’s a fourth liner at best! Given a choice, I’d send em down to the A and take Lapierre back up (even though he hasnt played great in Hamilton).


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