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. Jordio-oh says:

    Bernie Parent played 73 games and won the Cup with the Flyers in 73-74.

    Glenn Hall played 70 games and won the Cup with the Hawks in 60-61.

    Terry Sawchuck played 70 games and won the Cup with the Red Wings in 51-52.

    Jacques Planted played 69 games (almost 70) and won the Cup with the Habs in 59-60.

    That took me 10 minutes to find out. There might even be more.

  2. Exit716 says:

    I’d laugh if some team scooped him up like Doug MacLean did to the Habs with Hainsey and Beauchemin.

  3. HardHabits says:

    He actually had been playing for two years. The WJC plus his regular team Tri-City Americans and then going on to Calder Cup finals and winning in them, two MVP trophies along the way. Then winning the starting job on an NHL team. He’ll yet add to his resume, Halak’s heroics notwithstanding.

    The problem really isn’t Price’s game. It’s the Habs inability to capitalize on chances and prevent them from  happening. Most of the bad goals have been due to missed defensive assignments, however when you now add a few bad goals from Price into the picture, add that to can’t score and blowing coverage here and there, and then you wind up with a recipe for disaster.

    Aulds numbers are respectable. This coaching staff had the Panthers’ goaltenders 2nd and 3rd over-all in save percentage when they were there. Let the percentages average out then and play Auld more. The team needs to learn to win regardless of who’s in nets IMO. My argument is that the Habs as unit and individually started cheating because of Price’s stellar play and as a result exposed Price to a higher probability of error. Sit Price not because of his play but because of the team’s play. Well I don’t mean sit. I am not arguing replace him with Auld. I am saying give Auld a more respectable work load for a back-up netminder.

    Would you rather have your prize thoroughbred physically over-worked and mentally weary or chomping at the bit when the big race comes up?

  4. PeterD says:

    Hypotheically…Put yourself in the GM’s shoes…at this point in the and the teams continued performance…low scoring to no scoring team…aging Defense, serios cap space limitations, next years crop of RFA’s and UFA’s…what would you be looking to do bewtween now nad the trade deadline this season to improve the team?

    My move would be to trim one or two of the low performing forwards (AK, Moen, Gomez,) and a older D-man (Spacek, Gill) and make a pakage trade to try and get a top line big scoring left winger or Center that has contract left so we don’t lose them right away as a Free agent this summer (Iginla, Marleau). 

  5. Jordio-oh says:

    Pavelec is the real deal based on what?

  6. HabFanSince72 says:

    His save percentage during the slump was 87%.

    How bad is that?

    It’s worse than the worse season save % in the league (88% – Martin Broodeur).

    He has not been playing OK.

  7. habsruleworld says:

    so true,

    thanks for clarification, I missed that one obviously

  8. PeterD says:

    They signed MAB to a one year/two way contract.  I assume that since he has not been playing the want him on their farm team to get in shape…thus the demotion to the farm and the placing him on waivers.

  9. Jordio-oh says:

    Its been said before, but unless Price plays stellar, this team will lose.

    Right now we’re averaging less goals per game than we did last year (and last year 22 teams scored more than we did).

    In October we scored 2.63 goals per game. In November we scored 2.38 goals per game. In December we scored 2.47 goals per game.

    In October Price had a 2.38 gaa. So we won games since we score more than we let in. In November Price had an outstanding 1.59 gaa so we win more games. This month Price has a 2.96 gaa so we lose more games.

    My point in all of this is we just don’t score enough goals, and when our goalie suddenly isn’t playing like the best goalie in the league some of the babies on here like to blame Price. My train of thought leads me to be thankful for Price for the first two months because without him we wouldn’t be where we are. Some of the other people in here (ManApart) like to take shots at him because he isn’t winning us the games he used to. Sure, his 2.96 and and .893 in December isn’t great, but neither was Jimmy Howards 2.90 and .902. The difference is Detroit scored well over 3 goals per game in December and we weren’t even close to that.

    Considering some people thought he was terrible last year, for those same people to just immediately expect him to be a top 3 goalie all year in order for us to win games shows just how ridiculous their expectations are and it just shows the rest of us how full of sh*t they really are.

  10. HabFanSince72 says:

    They have to in order to send him to the AHL for conditioning.

    It’s a formality.

     

  11. HabFanSince72 says:

    The only bad thing about watching is it gets me depressed when I see the others teams coaches taking charge

    Are these the Oilers that finished last in their conference last year, and are last again this year?

     

  12. Omit says:

    Before you go saying it was a stupid move on Gainey’s part, can you tell us why Dandenault hasn’t been able to find a spot on another team?  Is it because other GMs don’t have your insight or is it because you’re wrong?

  13. habsruleworld says:

    TSN reports Lightning placed MAB on waivers?

     

    Am I missing something here? they just signed him? why place him on waivers rightn away?

  14. VancouverHab says:

    Have you tried eating All Bran for your breakfast?

  15. Psycho29 says:

    Yes he will score 15 goals, but will be responsible for 25 goals against…..not a concern.

    Plus he’s coming off a knee injury…

  16. rocketsglare says:

    There’s nothing wrong in management finding out what Price is capable of handling. Hell, I’m sure Price too

    would like to know himself.

    Go Habs Go!

  17. lenny says:

    There has been a lot of talk of the HBO series 24/7 which is awesome. But, there is also a great series on TSN called Oil change which is about the oilers organization. It is also a behind the scene look  at the oiler organization. The only bad thing about watching is it gets me depressed when I see the others teams coaches taking charge acting with enthusiasm and passion. I have never seen JM behind the scenes but from all outward appearances he doesn’t strike me as a guy with passion who can motivate a team….I wish there was something on the Habs that we can watch, but with all the red tape it would probably be pretty boring…bravo to the Pens, Caps and Oilers for allowing us to have this sneak peak

  18. The Cat says:

    Because Price is light years better than Pavelec in Atlanta? That sounds like hot air. Pavelec is the real deal.

     

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

  19. CHsam says:

    Wow. Thanks for posting. Very inspiring. Great person, great character, great athelete.

  20. notbigbird says:

    We are probably getting paranoid, but …

    – People worry that he’s reverting.

    – Some goals seem soft, whether others are partly to blame or not.

    – He sure doesn’t stop many breakaways.

  21. christophor says:

    Even though Yzerman and Boucher are doing a good job, I think a huge factor to consider is how bad a job their predecessors did. With 3 all stars, there’s no excuse for being at the bottom of the league like they were. We’re not talking about a staff working with an average team (see Barry Trotz in Nashville).

  22. Ian Cobb says:

    I know some that do for sure, but they would never say or comment. That would be suicide and they have been taught not to.

  23. Propwash says:

    I figure it’s because he’s the last line of defense. He’s kept the Habs in alot of games even after letting in a softie or two.

    There is an old saying “One oh-s*** erases a hundred ‘attaboys”. Then again, it seems a few people around here want him to fail so they can say “See, I toldya so!”

     

     

    Goalies in Montreal have two roles, netminder and scapegoat. 

  24. HardHabits says:

    Tanking to get Stamkos and Hedman.

  25. Ian Cobb says:

    Goals against are always looked at as a team statistic anyway.

    If not for price, our goals against would be solar.

    I would not trade Price for any other tender in the league. Those that would, don’t have a clue, just hot air.

  26. jimmy shaker says:

    Nope your wrong, the only one of those 3 that played 70+ games and won a cup was Brodeur.  Hasek played 70+ with Buffalo but lost to Dallas in the finals, and Eddy played 70+ but lost to the penguins in the finals.  Hasek and Eddy won cups with Detroit and Dallas when they played in the low 60 game range.  Marty is the rare exemption to the matter. 

    Cheers,

    SHaker

  27. The Cat says:

    Well if the plan was to get a backup that sucks so bad so that Price has to have 70+ starts for the team to be competitive, then thats not very smart. In fact its downright stupid.  After the past couple of years they shouldnt even be toying with this idea even if they think he can handle such a load.

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

  28. samTHEman says:

    I don’t get it. Price hasn’t necessarily been playing bad despite allowing weak goals now and then, but he hasn’t been lights out like he was earlier in the season…all this during the team’s biggest ‘slump’ thus far (note that a goalie can’t win games if the men infront of him aren’t putting the puck in the opposition net, just fyi). During a ‘slump’ if you want to call it that, I imagine that team morale is at its lowest, resulting in a general lack of team effort. My question is this: why do you Price-bashers always have to single him out? He’s part of the team, just like any forward or defensemen. Price is not the only player to have seen his game drop since the beginning of the season, yet the same fans that were shitting on Price during the off-season, and praising him after the first quarter of the season, are the same ones to jump off the bandwaggon again. It’s actually becomming pretty sickening. You know who you are. And you call yourself Canadiens fans….please

  29. Jordio-oh says:

    Moens hits per game since he started with the Habs is almost identical to his career hits per game. So he isn’t hitting any less now that he’s with the Habs.

    But his fights have definitely decreased . Last year he fought four times, and the year before (with the ducks/sharks) he fought around 8 or 9 times.

    Different culture between the Habs and Ducks, i suppose.

  30. Hockey Socks says:

    Can’t say something like that. Gretzky and Lemieux both scored at least 150 points regularly at some point – doesn’t mean Pavel Datsyuk is a bad player because he doesn’t.

  31. christophor says:

    now you’re being a deuce

  32. shiram says:

    Yea let Auld take us to the Cup, you selfish Price guy!

  33. deuce6 says:

    I have no problem with Price admitting that it isn’t fatigue that has set in, but what is it then? Contentment?

    Does he feel that he doesn’t have to work as hard simply because earlier in the season he told fans to “Just Chill”? Does he feel by winning over most of the fans that he has done enough?

    Here’s news for ya, kiddo…We are not settling for less..Either give your all for this team or leave…

  34. Hobie Hansen says:

    What about Brodeur, Hasek and Belfour they all played 70 plus games and won Stanley Cups?

  35. habaholic68NJ says:

    Listen up youngster.  There is nothing wrong with being 50 (or older).  Some of us have learned something about the game after watching our team win 10 stanley cups (compared to your 1).  Respect the Vets on this site or you will find yourself in the press box.

  36. rocketsglare says:

    There’s a reason that Auld has traveled far and wide in the NHL and besides, management wants to see

    what Price is capable as a starter. Whether Price can start 70 games or not will be determined this year.

    Next year will probably reflect his true potential in the number of games he will be expected to start.

    Go Habs Go!

  37. JF says:

    I think it’s clear Price is playing too many games now, and equally clear the coaching staff have little confidence in Alex Auld.  Price may struggle through the season playing 70+ games, but I think that if he doesn’t get enough rest, we’ll see the negative results (we’re already seeing them) even more in the playoffs.  The year he started with us, he had a great stretch after Huet was traded and into the first round of the playoffs, but was clearly tired in the next round.  He said afterwards that he felt as though he had been playing hockey continuously for about two years.

    I think he’s stronger mentally this year than last, but if this losing streak is prolonged, the effects will become very demoralizing and it will be more difficult to pull out of it.  I was sorry he started the game on Sunday; but I’m hoping the few days between then and tomorrow’s game will have allowed him to refocus and work on the aspects of his game that have seemed a bit off lately.  If he hasn’t been able to do this, the next couple of weeks will be tough and will likely see us fall out of a playoff spot.

  38. jimmy shaker says:

    Easy on Dandenault……..he’d be our second best D-man on this team behind Subban if Gainey would’ve kept him.  Stupid move on his part by the way.

    SHaker

  39. KenD29 says:

    Take a look at any goalie’s body language when they are not playing well!

    And as others posted, should Price be scoring gaols too?! Pretty hard to win when you can not score a goal !

    Tonight we skate with them, Tonight is our night!

  40. jimmy shaker says:

    No tender should play 70+ games.  60 -62 games is what Carey or anyother starting tender should play with the back up tender getting the rest.  This is a good balance and was how Patty Roy played most of his career, and even less than 60 games in some seasons.

    Shaker

  41. The Cat says:

    And some guys on the bubble like the 3rd-4th line guys probably are scared to take time off. They probably have a higher pain threshold than anybody else on the team.

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

  42. The Cat says:

    After what has went on the past couple of years, am I the only one that thinks this is nuts? Its not like Auld has been that bad.

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

  43. RJB says:

    Disgusting, who are you to suggest such a thing. The team is in a slump. Stop making such ridiculous accusations. One of the most pathetic things I have ever read on here.

    “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
    – Bilbo Baggins

  44. Mattyleg says:

    And insulting.

    And depressing.

    And amusing.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  45. rocketsglare says:

    Where definitely going to find out this season if Price has what it takes to be a 70 game starter. He may struggle

    and even stumble initially, but IMO he will learn and gain invaluable experience as he continues the season and

    will become better for it. I do believe Price has the potential to become a 70 game starter, especially if he has

    the benefit of a solid D helping him. It sure helped Brodeur in N.J.

    Go Habs Go!

  46. SmartDog says:

    He was when he got here.  But he’s been nice-ified.  Blah blah blah… respect.. blah blah blah… fairness.  I mean these are important but the Habs have made being nice more of an art than being dominant. And it’s spilling out the sides in stupid chippy penalties.  A big hit is okay, a love tap on the heels is 2 minutes. Where did the big hits go?

    ——-

  47. Mattyleg says:

    Dunno, but five or six times is enough for me.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  48. KenD29 says:

    Think some of our D have been worn down since almost the beginning of the season!

    Tonight we skate with them, Tonight is our night!

  49. SLONCOLD says:

    i’m sure some have looked but i doubt they care too much. they probably find it pretty amusing

  50. Mark C says:

    It’s a two-way deal, MAB gets $105K while playing in the AHL, yet gets a prorated $1M while being in the NHL.

  51. SmartDog says:

    I don’t think a player necessarily knows when he’s tired or what he needs.  This is why there are coaches and trainers.  How many guys would go back after an injury too soon?  All of them.  These guys are trained for stamina.  I keep thinking of the goal on Price where his foot was not on the post.  I’d be surprised if a fresh Price made that mistake – his positioning and discipline are better than that.  But a Price playing 35 games by New Years.  Sure.

     ——-

  52. Hobie Hansen says:

    He’ll probably have a +/- of -25 and help TB miss the playoffs…

  53. newbrunswick troy says:

    Here,s a legit question,  does anyone know if any Habs players or brass  ever read this sites post???

    If so,  it would  really bring out lots of opinion!!

  54. SLONCOLD says:

    well, i’m not too worried. I think mentally and physically he’ll be fine. defense men and forwards play for the whole season barring any injuries or serious lack in production ( unless you’re gomez lol)

    this whole thing about goalies getting tired is something in my eyes that is just way overplayed in the media. Like last year in the playoffs halak was said to be so tired and then he helps teh team win a game making 50 saves. i don’t know how he was too tired to play the game before but fine the day after.

    price now is just going through one of those stretches were a few stinky goals are going in. it’s part of the game and has happened to just about every goalie except time thomas this year.

    i would be much more concerned about our defense getting tired and worn down than the price situation.

  55. KenD29 says:

    Forgive me, but Moen a tough guy?!

    Tonight we skate with them, Tonight is our night!

  56. KenD29 says:

    Thankfully we have choice of which station to watch the Habs games… RDS leading the way. Pierre Houde far better than “Bob Cole” who’s better days are long behind him! And PJ and Milbury… just brutal!

    Tonight we skate with them, Tonight is our night!

  57. Hobie Hansen says:

    MAB is like one of those golfers who has an amazing drive but the rest of his game sucks…maybe he should travel around and enter long drive compititions?

  58. KenD29 says:

    Peel Pub still doing that?!

    Tonight we skate with them, Tonight is our night!

  59. NafSbah says:

    Not questioning their individual value (although some may question what Moen actually brings to the table) But as a trio, it just seems like a contradiction

  60. KenD29 says:

    Canada winning Gold   PRICELESS!

    Tonight we skate with them, Tonight is our night!

  61. newbrunswick troy says:

    wow..if it works, and it will,  They end up with Bergeron for only 105,000 …that is a real steal!!!

    And the hockey Gods being what they are…he will probly scoal 15-goals on power play and even score the goal that puts us out of the playoffs!!!!

  62. KenD29 says:

    Not to mention a strong supporting crew too

    Tonight we skate with them, Tonight is our night!

  63. HabFanSince72 says:

    I was gently (I hope) teasing Ed for addressing his post to PG.

    I dare say  that if accusing someone of being “almost 50″ is an insult in your book, the people who run this site might be offended …

     

  64. KenD29 says:

    Heard about PK’s visit over the holidays. He opted not to go home to his parents in Toronto to stay here and visit the Children’s hospital. Well done PK. Hopefully some of your teammates paid attention.

    Tonight we skate with them, Tonight is our night!

  65. joeybarrie says:

    If you look at any Stanley Cup winning team you have key role players like these 3 on them.

    Halpern is a great face off center with good minutes on the PK and has good numbers this season. ALL for $500K. This might be the best deal we have…

    Pyatt is a young player who is also a key to our PK and his face offs are also above 50%.

    Moen is an experienced tough guy, who can play good hockey. He has size and capability. AGAIN, a guy who is a big part of our PK.

    JM has these guys on the 4th line mostly to fill in and he can use them as he sees fit. He will mostly roll the first 3 lines and these guys will get their minutes when we take penalties.

    Remember 3 key players to our PK and it is number 1 in the league. I think quite the opposite, and think they are a great 4th line cause they will be used is certain aspects where we need them, and have the other 3 to hopefully score…

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

  66. Mark C says:

    I don’t see why that couldn’t be a shutdown line, those three players are some of the Montreal’s best and most responsible defensive players.  Halpern is the team’s best face off man, this line can be used for d-zone face offs.

  67. Jordio-oh says:

    If he were out to correct people, he could have a field day cleaning up the mess of words you have just thrown together.

    But since he isn’t, you should maybe chill out a bit.

  68. HardHabits says:

    I am concerned for the Habs should Price get 70 starts this season. In his interview he said he might be at a point where he could miss some practices should he start getting tired. I am not liking it.

    It’s not about physical fatigue. It’s about being able to put out the mental energy to win game in and game out. In the past Price’s weakness was often viewed as mental. Mental lapses, deer-in-the-headlight-syndrome, the frustration in his body language apparent. He had his mojo moments but even when confident he was fragile and easily shattered.

    I am thinking out loud here so please humour me.

    I am a student of the what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger school of thinking, so the possibility is that Price might have a major melt-down come play-off time due to the stress and strain of needing to bring it every night, and in the course of this excessive work load feel the weight of mounting losses, should they occur, and then have to grapple with the negative emotions those experiences bring.

    My worry is more for the fans, unable to see how should this happen, Price in my estimation has the inner fortitude to overcome this dilemma and come back stronger and better because of it. Many fans will throw him under the bus and certainly the Halakians will go into attack mode.

    The other possibility is that Price and the team start winning and Price and the Habs go deep in the play-offs.

    I still see Price playing 90% of the games as detrimental over-all in the short term. I am undecided as to the benefit over the long haul. It’s a serious gamble.

  69. Timo says:

    You have a MAB jersey?!

  70. newbrunswick troy says:

    what they are …..they are they “cross your fingers and hope we don,t get scored on while the top 2 lines are catching a breather”……thats what kind of line they are

  71. LA Loyalist says:

    thanks for your work on this. I was already blue when I logged on, now…

    If we’d had Saku AND Iginla all these years. Jeezzzz.

  72. Chris79 says:

    Who the F**K asked your opinion on someones thoughts of his team’s that does not approve of there gameplay….Listen you *Habfansince72..i can imagine your like almost fifty or something… You Stop Scouring on internet sport chat sites…and acting like your correcting people..Pathetic.

  73. Say Ash says:

    “Bergeron, one of the league’s top power-play quarterbacks “

  74. joeybarrie says:

    This is a very good point. However it is nothing new. The problem with getting a BIG center, is that there are not alot out there and of course the teams that have them, are not trading them.

    Also, I did some research and out of the 30 top GOAL scorers in the NHL right now, only 12 of them are above 6 foot 1. I used 6 foot 1 as this is the median height in the NHL. Now out of those 30, there are 5 players over 32 years of age. All I am trying to point out, is that it is going to be VERY difficult to make a trade for a players like, Toews, Franzen, Perry, Kesler, Staal, Semin, Nash, Eriksson, Carter, and Kopitar. The other team will want 2-3 players in return, and they wont simply take Laps, Weber and the rights to Laraque…

    Eller and MaxPac are our hopes for the future, but I know everyone wants to see a 6 foot 4 220 guy in there. You know, there are very few of those around. There arent 20 in the NHL right now, and not all of them have 15+ goals a season.

    But in the end, our top two lines do not have a single player who can really stay in front of the net, and none of them are successful at cycling the puck around. This is a big part of our game missing. Extra time in the offensive zone cycling in the corners and a guy in front of the net would help.

    I don’t think PG is saying, hey we don’t want that. I think he is saying I can’t get that without selling the farm…

    The only one I can think of is Iginla, and I can’t imagine getting him for a few leftovers… Maybe we should wait to see how MaxPac and Eller come along before we sell our best players. I think thats one of the reasons PG went after Eller is he is 6’2 200 and young.

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

  75. Mark C says:

    What moves did you like the most? Signing Ellis? Moore? Trading for Gange? Drafting Connolly over Skinner?


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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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