One more sleep

And then, finally, a Canadiens game.

And while we’re waiting, the Juniors go for Gold.

Price says he’s not tired

Team hopes worst is behind them

• François Gagnon on the impact of the wizardly Wiz

• Presse Canadienne feature on P.K.

Who is Brett Festerling?

Islanders winning

Dwayne Roloson hangs a goose egg on the mighty Caps

• Damien Cox writes nice stuff about the city of Buffalo

Jacques Lemaire loved this:

axJE1dG4uxo

703 Comments

  1. rocketsglare says:

    Good for P.K. Shows community spirit and involvement. Class all the way.

    Go Habs Go!

  2. LA Loyalist says:

    We should have gone to Olympic size arenas back when we started building big stadiums with luxury boxes. We would have a better safer game today. Though perhaps a bit less profitable, which is Gary’s bottom line.

    :(

  3. Corporate says:

    I mostly agree with you post. But there is one thing that I kind of disagree with. I do agree that french talent is on the decline. but We do nt have to go further than TB to see 8 french Canadien players. They are pretty good too. So we could have more french talent here, but I am happy with the team we have. it is a team that has heart. They seem to really care. 

  4. NafSbah says:

    Moen-Halpern-Pyatt (4th line @ practice)

    Could they be the most useless line in the NHL? Not Fast (moen) and Not tough (pyatt) No identity. Not a scoring line, not a shutdown line… what are they?

  5. mbplekfan says:

    I hear Dandenault is available. Brisebois too.

  6. RGM says:

    What a crude and underhanded insinuation. Shameful.

    Go Habs Go!

  7. B says:

    Having arguably the best goal scorer in the league doesn’t hurt either.

  8. shiram says:

    Thank you for the clarification.

  9. krob1000 says:

    yup I messed that up…but I the poiint I meant was that he is playing for a big raise…and that would be a factor in why he was trying to play thorugh injury with the other things I mentioned also as factors….I think he has made things worse….and I just hope it isn’t really, really bad…but thanks for picking off the mistake.

  10. GrimJim says:

    It’s an automatic waiver when you sign a non-entry level player part-way through the year. That way, a team can’t gain an advantage by having a star veteran “retire”, then announce a come back in January and play with an extra three months rest and recuperation. Think Forsberg as he neared the end of his career.

  11. ZepFan2 says:

    “the Habs bosses should look at drug testing this kid (I hope not).”

    Does that same rule apply to the rest of the slugs on this team? Or is it reserved only for the goalie?

    ————————————————————————

    “Young people have seen that a team can play electrifying, fascinating hockey while still behaving like gentlemen.”

    ~Serge Savard~

  12. shiram says:

    here is the link, for your viewing pleasure.

    http://www.tampabay.com/sports/hockey/lightning/tampa-bay-lightning-signs-defenseman-marc-andre-bergeron/1143479

    I also think Roloson is the better of the 2 deals.

  13. B says:

    One of the letters from the Gazette’s editorial page today:


    Christmas is normally a day to spend with your family and/or friends and to forget, even just for 24 hours, war, famine and sick children. One of our Montreal Canadiens didn’t forget.

    P.K. Subban came to the Montreal Children’s Hospital on Dec. 25 and made Christmas a little brighter for the children, their parents, and even the doctors and nurses, who can’t forget that illness doesn’t take holidays off.

    His selflessness, generosity, kindness, caring and true team spirit touched everyone who witnessed it and almost made some of us believe that there really is a Santa Claus!

    Ellen Mitchell, RN Montreal Children’s Hospital

  14. RGM says:

    Close but not quite – he’s an RFA as he’ll only be 26 on July 1st. Summer 2012 is when he’s UFA eligible…unless the Habs do the smart thing and sign him long-term this year.

    Go Habs Go!

  15. alestar says:

    Actually, Gorges will be a RFA at season’s end, not UFA…

     

    XXIV…and counting

  16. HardHabits says:

    Steve Yzerman is looking like a genius right now. Regardless of whether this rumour you speak of is true or not. There’s no denying that Tampa is a contender if not a dark-horse. I credit Yzerman and Boucher.

  17. rocketsglare says:

    Price has been far from being sharp and he himself has said so. But, my post refers to the quality of scorers he

    will be facing tomorrow night and besides, I distinctly state that the key to the game will be defending our net

    and not taking lazy penalties.

    Go Habs Go!

  18. J_P says:

    Are saying continuous OT for every game? Thats a little crazy if that’s what you are suggesting.  The reason they have the shootout is to get a definitive winner without the game going on for 5 hours. 

    I personally dont have a problem with ties.  I just dont like the fact that a point gets magically created when the game goes to overtime/shootout.  Either the game should end in a tie at the end of regulation, awarding 1 point per team, or the loser point should be abolished, or they should switch to the 3 point system.  3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for an overtime/shootout, and 1 point for an OT/shootout loss.  At least this way there is always 3 points up for grabs, and there isn’t an extra point magically appearing out of thin air. 

    Bottom line, I agree that the loser point needs to go. 

  19. shiram says:

    I was not dissing him or anything just reporting on what I saw, as I know alot here follow his carreer.

  20. ed lopaz says:

    MAB is like a kick off or punt returner in football.

    he’s a “specialist”; and he can do that 1 job very well.

    nothing wrong with having that in your lineup.

    it can be very effective.

  21. jennifer1984 says:

    you MUST GO!!! i have friends who are going tonight and friends who havent missed a game. they drive 3 hours each time (plus the sweet 2½ hour wait on the bridge)

    the crowd is intense and they say they have never been to a better game. so go.. and have fun.

    also i know sport chek had Canada jersey’s for $49.99 last week. might still be cheap if you really want one

  22. HabFanSince72 says:

    I suspect (and hope) that Pierre Gauthier isn’t scouring Internet sports chat sites for ideas on how to do his job.

     

  23. J_P says:

    I find all these high end steakhouses to be complete rip offs.  No creativity in the dishes, just a piece of meat on a white plate with some roasted veggies and mashed potatoes.  Gibby’s is probably the best out of all of them, but still a rip off in my opinion. 

    I guess it all depends on your preference, but personally, I find there are WAY better restaurants in this city for that kind of money.    

  24. ed lopaz says:

    there’s an expression in golf, “no room on the score sheet for the explanation”.

    same applies in hockey.

    as long as the puck crosses the line, who cares how ugly it was??

    its time for this team to start scoring some “ugly” goals, and we do NOT have the horses.

     

  25. shiram says:

    Rumours of Tamp Bay putting MAB on waivers already, spotted on tampabay.com

  26. J_P says:

    I actually hate when commentators talk during the game, like Pierre Mcguire always does.  Like a little bit here and there between whistles is ok, but when the action is on, time to limit the chatter to whats going on on the ice. 

  27. rocketsglare says:

    Spot on about Cammalleri. He’s been a disappointment so far. But, guys like him just need that one game that

    gets them out of their funk. Unfortunately for Cammalleri, the problem has been that one game.

    Go Habs Go!

  28. Omit says:

    Apparently, someone in Halifax can notice that drug testing might be required, but everybody associated with the team cannot.  Maybe you are overlooking the obvious.  The team has been in a slump and not scoring enough goals to win.  Period!

    Btw, most coaches that I’ve heard discussing goaltending say that a very good goalie will steal at least 10-15 games per year.  I’d say that Price is pretty close to those numbers already.

  29. Hobie Hansen says:

    Anybody with a brain should feel the same way as you! However, its amazing the amount of negative responses you get on this site when you suggest that the Habs need to get bigger and tougher. I usually get the “truculence” comment when I say we need to score more garbage goals, throw more hits, have a better fore check and drop the gloves a bit more often when a teammate is in trouble…  

  30. Kappy says:

    Off Topic but…..

    I am going to the World Juniors Gold Medal game tonight.  I don’t have a Canada jersey, but I have something even better a Canadiens jersey that I will be wearing at the game.  That is if I don’t sell my tickets.  There similar seats available on Ebay right now for asking $750/seat.  I paid half of that for two, but that was before Canada made the finals.  Who am kidding I won’t sell these ticket. I’m going for Gold!!

  31. shiram says:

    I’d say Gorges proved his worth, I honestly cannot see the Habs letting him go, but then stanger things have happened.His play showed how bad he was injured, so he should really get all the rest and healing he needs, no more messing with lightly injured defence-man!

  32. J_P says:

    Lets see the habs start scoring 3-4 goals with regularity before we start saying that Carey needs to be sharper.  Hard to win games when you cant put goals on the board, and with our stable of offensive minded players (Cammy, GIonta, Gomez, Pleks, etc…), theres no excuse for this lack of offensive production. 

  33. G-Man says:

    It is available- google it. Heck, I got mine from a cereal promo some years ago. Every game is on it.

  34. krob1000 says:

    Gorges is still hurt and Hammer and Spacek went shopping instead…they save 15 percent with their senior discounts today. I am pretty worried that nothing has been revealed about Gorges really….I fear it couldbe worse than we know….he is a UFA and you know he would love to be playing and probably pushed it further than he should have with him being a UFA and his iron man streak,his character, etc…..I just hope he can return.

  35. ed lopaz says:

    Dear Mr. Pierre F. Gauthier,

    I would like to offer you a little friendly advice.

    If you have been watching NHL hockey for the last 50 years – which I know you have – you might have noticed 

    how many goals are scored inside the blue paint, on rebounds, loose pucks, and scrambles.

    In order for the current Habs team to improve their goal scoring, you might consider that it IS EXTREMLY RARE 

    to see a hab goal scored inside the blue paint.

    Why is that, I ask you?

    You are the “professional GM”, getting paid many hundreds of thousands of dollars to assemble the best possible lineup.

    Could it be that too many of our forwards are NOT PREPARED TO VENTURE into this area close to the net??

    Could it be that we need to change a few forwards so that we can begin scoring some “dirty goals”, “garbage

    goals” like other teams are doing?

    Please consider this as you approach the trade deadline?

    If there are forwards available who can skate, hit, and pay the price in front of the net, we could use 2 or 

    even 3 of those.

    Thank you.

  36. shiram says:

    Gorges and Hamrlik  getting therapy days today.

    Offensive lines stayed the same, with Eller pinching on DD’s wing, replacing at times Darche and other times Pouliot.

    D : Weber-Picard / Spacek-Wisniewski / Subban-Gill

  37. 24 Cups says:

    How can they be rusty after having just three days off?  They had an extended road trip and a shortened Christmas holiday at home.  It was more of a chance to catch their breath instead of getting lazy.  Fans were also saying that Price needed a break.

    Shout-out to Cammalleri.  How about getting off your butt and doing something?  You were brought in here to be the top scorer and notch 35-40 goals.

    Shout-out to AK46.  Ah, why bother.

  38. rocketsglare says:

    Price will definitely have to be sharper against the Pens who have players that can thread the puck into the net.

    The key for the Habs will be defending our net and not taking lazy penalties. The Habs should be able to score,

    but can this team play a solid 2-way game from start to finish and earn 2 huge points against one of the better

    teams in the Eastern Conference? Will know tomorrow night. Should be a hell of a game.

    Go Habs Go!

  39. derfab says:

    Price has been solid. Halak was solid. There has not been a real goalie issue on this team for years (including Jose and Huet). The problem was and remains anemic offence and team toughness. This goalie stuff is bunk.

  40. habs03 says:

    I think it’s just consistency issue that comes with most goalies until they mature (usually in the late 20’s). One thing I notice is how relaxed he looks all the time, it doesn’t matter if it’s a 5-0 game or a 1-0 game late in the 3rd, he is always casual when handling the puck, when making saves, etc, now when Price is doing well, everyone says “oh look at how cool calmed and collected he is” but when he struggles that turns into “he doesn’t care, no work ethic, etc”. The only difference I notice is last year he had no breaks go his way, where as its even out this year.

  41. krob1000 says:

    yikes…that is some serious homework you are throwing out there…prbably about a weeks straight of Hab watching…..one may need gravol to handle all of the ups and downs in such a short time…..I know gravol works for motion sickness…but what do you suggest for emotion sickness?

    I see a slight diff but he is nowhere near last year…I have only seen glimpses…this is not a slump lately…it is average goaltending….he’ll be fine. He ahsn;t exxactly been sucking…he has just not been stealing games and hasn’t been the best Hab on the ice.  He is not overcommitting, failing to offer the extra effort,etc like last year…he has just missed a couple…..big diff…but now ay am I watching all those games again…..I am 34 and currently have no ulcers…I would like to keep things that way.

  42. RGM says:

    Welcome to the party, PJ. It was only in the year 1983 that Ken Dryden stated that the Canadiens had a choice between remaining successful and retaining their Quebecois identity.

    Go Habs Go!

  43. petefleet says:

    I challenge Price (or anyone else who has access) to look at any 20 game span last year, 20 games before Dec 10 this year and the all the games since Dec 10.  Look at the body language in those games.  Compare the obvious difference in what he looks like when he’s playing well and when he’s not.  You don’t have to look at the rest of the  team.  For this exercise it’s just his movement style and positioning.  If you or he can’t see a difference I’ll eat my shoes.  I don’t think he’s tired either, but if his play stays the way it is now, the Habs bosses should look at drug testing this kid (I hope not).  He looks like two very different goalies.  Just saying.

    ***Habs Forever***

  44. rocketsglare says:

    It could determine where this team ultimately finishes in the Eastern Conference.

    Go Habs Go!

  45. HabFanSince72 says:

    I’ll try La Petite Marche.

    You are right about waiting in line at l’Avenue on weekends (just get there before 9:30 am and there’s no line), but I think the food is spectacular.

    The best is the steak and eggs benedict.

  46. rocketsglare says:

    My biggest concern with the team being off 3 days. Hopefully, the team can shake off any rust they may

    have early in the 1st period. If they can’t, it will be a long night for the boys.

    Go Habs Go!

  47. joeybarrie says:

    Eastern Conf. Lockup….

    Car vs NYR, Tampa vs Pitts, Atl vs Flor, Car vs Flor, Atl vs Car, Bos vs Pitts, Was vs Flor twice, Tampa vs Caps again, Phi vs Atl, Pitts vs Bos, Tampa vs Car, and Philly vs NYR all in the next 2 weeks.

    PLUS, we play Pitts twice, Rangers twice and Boston.

    It is going to be an interesting week or so, and a TOUGH one for us. If our problems arent behind us, we are in trouble. If they are we could be back in 3rd – 5th…

    I think in the end these 2 weeks here will define how we are going to end our season. Trying to slip into the playoffs, or competing for 3rd or 4th.

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

  48. Omit says:

    Whatever you do, don’t go to Queue de Cheval! It is a total ripoff.

  49. lavie says:

    Sometimes, Well Rested = Rusty.

  50. weightman25 says:

    it could also be the reason they miss the playoffs… what do we have 3 loser pts? look at the teams ahead with 5 6 or 7

  51. Mattyleg says:

    Hmm, L’Avenue is an excellent place to stand in line wondering if you’re ever going to have breakfast, and then pay too much for nothing special.

    The BEST place for breakfast is La Petite Marche, on St. Denis between Laurier and St. Joseph (metro Laurier). Huge plates, not expensive, quick service, and never a wait.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  52. Mattyleg says:

    There’s a good pub for eats and pints pre-game called The Old Orchard on Montagne, just up from the Bell Centre.

    Hurley’s on Crescent (just below St. Catherine’s) or McKibbin’s on Bishop (below de Maisonneuve) are two good Irish pubs with food.

    If you’re staying downtown, there’s a decent watering-hole called McLean’s on Peel. Stay away from the Peel Pub, they recycle their beer.

    Any spot is good on Crescent street if you’re looking for partying with out-of-towners, and if you want something a bit hipper (and cheaper) head to the Plateau. Metro Mont-Royal, and there are lots of cool spots round there.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  53. rocketsglare says:

    Pittsburgh plays tonight against TB and will travel to Montreal to play a very well rested Habs team tomorrow

    night. The Habs need to come out with the same energy and intensity that they had against Atlanta and attack

    the Pens with their puck movement and speed, while clamping down on Crosby and Malkin. They seem to play

    well against the Pens and hopefully tomorrow night will be no different. A win against the Pens will add confi-

    dence and momentum that hopefully will launch this team’s drive to regain the Northeast Division and top bill-

    ing in the Eastern Conference. Let’s do it boys!

    Go Habs Go!

  54. Bill says:

    I checked the article and he really, really can’t. You can tell some editor struggled with that one.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  55. J_P says:

    Complaining that other people are going to complain before they actually complain is even more ridiculous lol

    PJ Stock is a blowhard. He says things just for the sake of stirring the pot. When he used to be on team 990, I never actually believed that he actually believed half the BS that came out of his mouth.

  56. Mattyleg says:

    Intreresting, but apart from the first couple of picks, the draft is a crap-shoot, as we all know.

    But yes, we did suck through that period.

    Strangely enough, it’s exactly the period I was living in Europe: ’95-’05.

    Hmmm…

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  57. Mattyleg says:

    Love that 1937 video on the other thread. Dark Team vs. Dark Team. Damn, it was fast as hell! We can see how much people have grown in the past 70-some-odd years, as our current players fill up the rink significantly more than they did in the past. Yet another reason we should increase the size of the ice-surface. Open the game up a bit, while avoiding serious injuries.

    Oh, and in other news, I had the Caps-TB game on in the background last night, and the second (third?) string RDS commentators were absolutely fycking TERRIBLE. Annoyingly so. Just brutal. All they did was talk-talk-talk, no real commentary, no play-by-play, and anytime anything happened, the announcer would shout: “hold on! Look out!” and commentate the goalie covering the puck after a chance.

    Eesh. Let’s hope Pierre never gets sick.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  58. dicktracy says:

    I was given a dvd of the Canada-USSR 1972 series CBC documentary. While I am enjoying it I would also love to watch the entire series replay.

    Does anyone here know if the original game tapes are available for purchase?

  59. HabFarmer says:

    ……. “is bond” :-)

    Now I gotta do some work.

    A man’s attitude… a man’s attitude goes some ways. The way his life will be. Is that somethin’ you agree with?

  60. Omit says:

    joshua

    The article shocked me.  I didn’t think PJ Stock knew how to write.

  61. habs03 says:

    That whole era under Houle was horrible, lol at Jason Ward, at one point he lead the AHL in points and looked like he would have a decent NHL future. I think the organaztion improved as a whole when Andre Savard become GM, I think one of his first moves was trading away Linden, Zubrus and a 2nd for Zednik,Bulis and a 1st, worked out pretty well for us.

  62. adam76 says:

    club downtown.

  63. HabFarmer says:

    It’ll be what it’ll be then.  I’m talking about the game, and the way it’s been messed with.  Not my favourite team.

    A man’s attitude… a man’s attitude goes some ways. The way his life will be. Is that somethin’ you agree with?

  64. HabFanSince72 says:

    I don’t think PJ is complaining about the lack of French talent, so much as warning  that others will complain if the Habs do poorly this year. (I agree with you about Saku – there was a minority of criticism).

    The way I would see it though is the Canadiens should be tapping into Quebec hockey more assiduously, not (only) for marketing reasons, but for sound hockey reasons. The fact that few Quebec players get drafted high these days is an opportunity. With better scouting they should be uncovering the hidden gems that other teams are missing. Players like Maxime Talbot for example.

     

  65. adam76 says:

    The “loser” point maybe the only reason Montreal makes the playoffs this year.

  66. HabFarmer says:

    Man, I hate the loser point.  The game is worth two points – you win it you get two points, you lose it, you get nada. 

    Make it so (again please).

    A man’s attitude… a man’s attitude goes some ways. The way his life will be. Is that somethin’ you agree with?

  67. Julie H says:

    Where in Montreal will you be staying? Near the Bell centre (I’m assuming by your words you will be at the second game) there are a variety of Resto’s and bars dedicated to the Habs.

    ♪Your cares and troubles are gone. There’ll be no more from now on. From now on happy days are here again, the skies above are so clear again. So let’s sing a song of cheer again. Happy times, happy nights, happy days are here again♪

  68. HabFanSince72 says:

    A  special place to eat is Au Pied de Cochon, because it’s unlike most other restaurants and very typically Quebecois.

    The best place to have breakfast in Montreal is L’Avenue on Mont-Royal.

    There are tons of other restaurants you can read about on http://www.voir.ca

     

     

  69. adam76 says:

    The Russian Goalie Dive vs Finland, anyone have the video?

  70. HabFanSince72 says:

    Just to pass the time … (or: why we sucked from the mid nineties to the mid noughties)

    Year / Draft Position / Pick / Who we could have had instead (must be within 10 picks of ours)

    1990 12. Turner Stevenson / Martin Brodeur

    1991 17. Brent Bilodeau / Glen Murray

    1992 20. David Wilkie / Boris Mironov (no one good that year)

    1993 21. Saku Koivu / No one better

    1994 18. Brad Brown / No one really until later (Patrick Elias, Chris Drury)

    1995 8. Terry Ryan / Jarome Iginla

    1996 18. Matt Higgins / Daniel Briere

    1997 11. jason Ward / Marian Hossa

    1998 16. Eric Chouinard / Simon Gagné, Scott Gomez

    1999 (no pick)

     

  71. dleb84 says:

    Hey Everyone,

    I’m travelling from NB to catch the next 2 games.

    I don’t know Montreal and was wondering if you guys had some tips on where to go before the games, after the games, best places to eat/drink etc. 

  72. joshua94k says:

    Beware this Saturday night on HNIC. PJ Stock will rant on about the Habs having no French Canadian identity. His recent article shows he is out of touch with hockey issues and has no business belonging in the media. He equates a couple of journalists with half the province of Quebec who felt Saku Koivu didn’t deseve to be captain of the Canadiens because he didn’t speak French. The fact is a large majority of Quebecois loved      Koivu because he played with heart, showed up every game and did a lot for the community.

    Stock finds the recent trade of Lapierre alarming as Darche is the only Quebec player left. What he fails to realize is the French Canadian talent has been in the decline for awhile around the NHL. The Canadiens have to put the best team on the ice, no matter where they come from. He fails to point out that Briere and Lecavalier have said they preferred not to play in Montreal.

    What about the recent addition of Desharnais and future prospect Leblanc? If there is a French Canadian talent, the Habs would love to have them on the team. But he fails to mention how recent additions of Halpern, Wisniewski and Pacioretty have helped the team.

    Like Ken Dryden said, the Canadiens will have to decide if they want a good team or a French Canadian team. I think GM Gauthier wants a good team and has done a good job thus far with Price, Plekanec, and the recent additions.

    Here is the link to the article by PJ Stock.

    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/hockeynightincanada/highlights/blogs/pjstock/2011/01/habs-homegrown-flair-a-thing-of-the-past.html

    “It’s too much for one guy to shoulder. For us, we’re going to do it as a group. It’s about sharing that responsibility win or lose.” – Mike Cammalleri

  73. sholi2000.com says:

    No shoot out.

    No single point.

    OT decides the game, no ties.  Strongest team wins (strength and discipline).

    They Call Me Shane

  74. Bill H says:

    I was reading an article at Hockey Buzz about the Olympic 3 point system of awarding 3 points per game.  As others have done in the past, the writer advocates for the same system to be used in the NHL.  I agree with the reasoning stated in the article.  Unfortunately, I don’t see it being used in the NHL.  The current system keeps teams bunched up in the standings, and it keeps bad teams in contention for a playoff spot right up until the last few games.  By keeping bad, undeserving teams in contention, fans keep buying tickets and hoping their team will make the cut.  Of course the other result is both teams playing for the tie in the third period, which guarantees 1 point each, with a shot at 2 in overtime.

    I know this has been discussed before, but how do folks feel about the current system?

    hy-the-NHL-should-use-the-Olympic-point-system/122/32628


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One more sleep!

Cough, please. It’s hockey season.

Training camp begins with medicals tomorrow.

Gillett passes the torch to the Molson family and their partners.

The day in Laval.

The language thing. Again.

• No captain? No problem.

Price predicts good chemistry.

Golf tournament gallery.

• From New Jersey and New York, via Four Habs Fans,  scouting reports on Brian Gionta  and Paul Mara.

The Phoenix show continues.

A Heatley deal that Bryan Murray is denying.

(Gazette photo by Pierre Obendrauf)


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One more sleep

I am TOTALLY stoked for the conference finals.

And yes, the live blog will be dusted off and revived for each of the games.

I can’t promise I’ll post as frequently (or as chemical-free) as for a Canadiens game, but the old college try will be given.

It should be off-the-charts great hockey.

 

My sentimental choice; the Penguins. Five Quebecers (I’m a bit of a chauvinist) and a superstar who’s in the process of grabbing the 2009 playoffs by the short fuzzies.

Sidney Crosby blew my mind in the Washington series. I had never appreciated his skill set (he hasn’t been that great against the Canadiens), but Crosby’s vision, his recognition of opportunities and instant acceleration into openings. Wow!

Then add surprising strength, toughness and an absolute refusal to lose …. especially to that Other Guy. Sid the Kid is the indisputable leader of a very talented and well-coached team.

If my man Gino shows up, I don’t think Carolina has a chance.

But that’s what Mr. Always Wrong-pants thought before the Hurricanes beat Boston. I’d have bet my house (if it were paid for) that the Bruins were going to win that Game 7 – and the result proved, once again, that if I gambled on sports I’d be living in my car.

I don’t know how Carolina does it, but their success offers hope for the Canadiens. Cam Ward is the best goaltender left in the playoffs, and maybe we’ll be saying that about Carey Price one of these years.

On the other hand, Tomas Plekanec isn’t Eric Staal. But still, a no-name defence, secondary scoring from a guy they plucked off the waiver wire, 82-year-old Rod Brind’Amour, Sergei F. Samsonov … and they’re eight wins from the Cup.

Props to Paul Maurice and the great Ron Francis for having their guys prepared every night. Carolina proves what hard work, dedication and a sound, disciplined system can accomplish.

As for the west …. well, regular readers of this blog know I love the Red Wings. And I hope I’m not alone, because of you don’t like the way Detroit plays, then you don’t like hockey.

Two anecdotes say it all about the greatest organization in hockey:

Hakan Andersson scouts his native Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic for Detroit. He’s responsible for such steals as Henrik Zetterberg (drafted 210th overall in 199) and Jonathan Ericsson (291st: THE LAST PLAYER DRAFTED in 2002).

A few years ago the Wings wanted to pay Andersson a six-figure bonus. The scout was thankful but turned it down because, Andersson explained, he made quite enough money to live well in Sweden.

Then there’s the story about Zetterberg’s first training camp. Scrimmages begin and Darren McCarty pounds the snot out of the Swedish rookie, cheap-shoting Zetterberg all over the ice.

Afterwards, McCarty apologizes, explaining that Ken Holland, Detroit’s genius GM, had instructed him to tune the kid up and see if he could handle the NHL.

There will be a fair bit of tuning up in the Detroit-Chicago series. 

For one thing, it’s the Western Conference, where they don’t screw around. This is not Canadiens-Senators in a 7-5 hot dog fest.

The Blackhawks and Red Wings will play smash-mouth hockey – the kind that wins in the playoffs. And the young Hawks are awfully good at it.

You have to like Detroit to advance, but they survived a brutal war of attrition against Anaheim. 

Chicago is rested – and they’re utterly fearless. A big key in the series will be goaltending, and Nikolai Khabibulin has the ability to outplay Chris Osgood.

God, I love that Jonathan Toews kid. Did he lose one single puck battle against Vancouver? An NHL captain at 21. What a horse!

Something to keep an eye on: I don’t know that Detroit will have a answer for the agitators, Ben Eager (who’s become a hockey player in Chicago) and Adam Burish. Then there’s that Dustin Byfuglien kid, who’s a cheeseburger shy of 250 but can skate and score.

It should be a great series.

Just seeing those two jerseys …


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