Panthers continue roster makeover

Theodore

Of all the teams that engaged in a chemistry experiment with their roster in the offseason, no club mixed more new ingredients than the Panthers, who provide the opposition for the Canadiens on Monday night. And they just keep adding new chemicals to their mix.

The Canadiens will skate for their first win at the Bell Centre against a team they are going to have to climb over to get into a playoff spot. The Panthers sit in sixth spot, 4-3, four points ahead of the last-place Canadiens. Florida has missed the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons and management’s many moves have been designed to bring them back to relevance in their market and the NHL. They no longer can be considered an easy two points on any team’s schedule.

Florida was remade during the offseason by GM Dale Tallon and Assistant GM Michael Santos, starting even before the July 1 free agency period when, flush with a huge amount of cap space, they traded for high-priced Blackhawks defencenman Brian Campbell. It was the first move that brought in a dozen veterans and a new coach in Kevin Dineen (who began his fine NHL career for Hartford at the Forum in a 1984 game in which Mats Naslund scored five goals).

And the roster tinkering has not stopped, as the Panthers acquired two more veterans over the weekend from the Canucks – Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm — in exchange for David Booth, a move that returns two potentially productive but frequently injured and much-traveled players whose contracts are up at the end of the season. Samuelsson played for the Panthers for half a season before the lockout and won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008.

Just how these guys will fit into Dineen’s lineup is uncertain, but they should both be dressed for tonight’s game.

The Panthers also brought in former Habs hero Jose Theodore to partner with Scott Clemmensen in goal. Clemmensen underwent minor knee surgery after a preseason injury and has not played since. That opened the door for Theo, and he’s played pretty well thus far (3-2, 2.62 GAA, .913 SV). But he, too, came up lame during the Panthers game against the Islanders on Saturday and was relieved by Jacob Markstrom, who got the win 4-2 win. That broke a two-game losing streak for the Panthers, in which they played poorly, getting shut out in back-to-back games, 3-0 losses to Buffalo and Washington last week.

Markstrom made his first NHL start in the loss to the Capitals and impressed his coaches despite the outcome. Theodore made the trip to Montreal, but his status tonight is uncertain. So, it’s possible Dineen will stick with Markstrom, who was drafted for Florida by then-GM Jacques Martin with the first pick of the second round in the 2008.

If the trade of Booth, a popular player in Florida, was timed to shake the Panthers out of their lethargy, it worked. They were clearly the better team against the Islanders on Saturday and they’ll try to keep it going against the Canadiens tonight.

The player moves seem to have paid off. Kris Versteeg leads their scoring parade with four goals and four assists in seven games. He’s been playing on a line with another newcomer, Tomas Fleischmann and the longest-serving Panther, Steven Weiss. Campbell has seven assists, tied for the second highest total in the league. Energy guys Scott Upshall and Matt Bradley lead the team in hits, which is no surprise. And defenceman Ed Jovanovski — who returned to the Panthers where he began his career after playing 12 seasons in Vancouver and Phoenix — has been mentoring rookie d-man Erik Gudbranson.

One new addition, Sean Bergenheim (who was an impressive figure for Tampa Bay in last season’s playoffs) isn’t on this trip. He suffered what has been described as a “core injury” — which, one supposes, is neither upper body, nor lower body — and has missed the last three games. He will likely miss a few more. The speedy Bergenheim had a shorthanded goal against the Lightning on Oct. 11 before being injured.

Among the homegrown talent, Weiss has three goals and four assists. Gudbranson doesn’t have a point yet, but he did fight Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie and then Ryan Malone the next game in Florida’s home-and-home sweep of the Lightning earlier this month.

They’ve also gotten some good performances from some lesser known players as well. Shawn Matthias, a 2006 Red Wings draftee who came to Florida in the 2007 trade that sent Todd Bertuzzi to Detroit, had a pair of terrific assists and scored an empty net goal in the win over the Islanders on Saturday, but he may be in a fight with Samuelsson for a spot in the lineup.

The Panthers power play has been very effective, clicking at 26.7 percent, fourth best in the league. Their penalty kill has not been strong: 76.2 percent, 24th in the league. They also average more shots against (31.9) than shots taken (29.9).

Weiss has been strong on faceoffs, winning almost 56 percent of his draws.

Here’s how the Panthers lined up against the Islanders, but that will change tonight with their new additions plugged in.

Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg
Scottie Upshall, Marcel Goc, Tomas Kopecky
Shawn Matthias, Tim Kennedy, Matt Bradley
Ryan Carter, Bracken Kearns, Jack Skille

Ed Jovanovski, Erik Gudbranson
Jason Garrison, Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov, Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore
Jacob Markstrom

115 Comments

  1. mike3131 says:

    With Nokelainen’s arrival, we are a decent faceoff team when Gomez returns and DD moves to the wing:

    Nokelainen: 58.1%
    Gomez: 53.8%
    Plekanec: 53.5%
    Eller: 50%

    It’s DD and Engqvist that kill our faceoff stats.

  2. badbalance says:

    Off with JMs head, his system is too passive and maybe we can actually find a coah who uses our forwards to their potential.

  3. doogie says:

    Prediction:

    Canadiens battling to finish no higher than 10th this year. Leafs make the playoffs. Major off-season blowup in Montreal. Enough mediocrity for the past 20 years, let’s become great again! I’m sick of the BS

  4. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …haha …got to laugh at Jack Todd
    …he got on the fire-the-Jacko bandwagon overnight, peaked-in to HIO’s comments and PLAGIARIZED every friggin’ One of Us …hahaha !!!

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

  5. caladin says:

    @shiram
    It’s likely that we’re having very little effect, let’s hope so. But benching Emelin makes more sense in the short term than the long. The overall media Howling for JM’s head on a stick (which HIO is a part of) may be pressuring him to win now and next month be damned.
    I hope not but that kind of pressure is exactly what has kept the laffs down for so long.
    I’m not suggesting that anyone pretend to be happy, just that we keep it down to a medium roar.

  6. Chorske says:

    Here in Fort Lauderdale, the Panthers are getting an unprecedented level of coverage, benefiting from the combined effects of the Dolphins sucking, the Heat being locked out, baseball being done (PRO baseball, that is- the kids are just starting to fill the parks now that the rainy season is over)… and although college football is king here, there is lingering discomfort over the whole hookers-and-booze fiasco over at UMiami. So hockey is actually on the radar here- I even occasionally see someone in a Panthers t-shirt (still too hot for jerseys!). The buzz around the team is positive, and the team’s moves have created the impression that they are serious about building a competitive team. Plus, the tickets are unbelievably cheap: you can get two season tickets, halfway up, down the middle, for the same kind of money you’d lay down for maybe two or three games at the Bell Centre.

    By the way: any of you planning on coming down for the February Habs game should let me know. We could grab a pint.

    All this to say that it will be very interesting to see how Panthers attendance fares this year, with the increased coverage and big moves and improved record and no basketball. I’m hoping for the team to do well, if only so I can bring my boy to the games!

  7. krob1000 says:

    Has Emelin been that bad? I have missed more Habs hockey this season than the last three seasons combined!!

    • HabinBurlington says:

      No he has been improving, just the latest scapegoat. I suspect because Florida plays a less physical game than the upcoming opponents this would be the time to sit him.

      • krob1000 says:

        I’ve been relying on this site to keep me informed and the general consesus or so I udnerstood it throught he comments was that Weber was struggling playing D and Gill/Gorges have been messing up uncharacteristically. I have rarely seen anything about Emelin which when you have 1 win in 7 games is good news for a stay at home dman….or so I thought.

    • sampson12 says:

      He hasn’t made any glaring mistakes that I’ve seen. I think they’re taking it slow with him, as he may be having more trouble adjusting to the North American game than Diaz, who seems to have adjusted fairly quickly. I gotta wonder if language has anything to do with it as well. Does JM feel more comfortable having players in the line up that he can actually communicate with? Probably.

  8. HabinBurlington says:

    So tonight is the debut of Mr. Petteri Nokelainen.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBBQdFSvvTE

    • shiram says:

      I give him an unenthusiastic meh.
      Not because he cannot help us, but because him coming here examplifies that management should have kept a decent faceoffs, penalty kill fourth line center when they had a few of them over the last years.

      Moen for powerforward 2011/12!!

      • Bripro says:

        There’s a nice article in today’s Gazette on Glenn Metropolit wanting to come back to Montreal.
        I remember him and Cammie jumping off the boards and hugging each other after eliminating the Caps two playoffs ago.
        He had 10 PP goals that year. Not bad for a 4th line journeyman with a lot of passion.
        There are also a couple of articles on the Leafs, which I could care less about.

  9. Habsssssssswin says:

    Failure is not permanent ….Everybody just chill…to quote C.P……
    It’s okay to fail; it’s even okay to fail miserably. The only way to success is on the path of failure. Damn, learn from your mistakes and keep moving. You have time to succeed. It’s October, man……
    Martin, Subban, even Gomez are working hard, but they’re on a treadmill right now … Don’t panic … stay positive !!!

    WFB

  10. caladin says:

    For those of you who are unhappy that Emelin is sitting tonight, you may just have HIO to thank.
    What effect do you think the feeding frenzy we’ve seen (again) over the last few days to have? At best it has no effect, but just as often it pushes coaches and GM’s into short term thinking. At worst we start reading away 1rst rounders to stabilize the team and save the GM’s job.
    IMHO we should think about what coach we WANT. Boucher? Babcock? When are their contracts up?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think we’re helping.

    • shiram says:

      I don’t think we are hindering either, I mean even if players or management read on here, do you really think it affects their performance/decision?
      I also don’t get how the people posting on here could relate to Emelin being on the bench.

      Moen for powerforward 2011/12!!

    • Bripro says:

      Do you seriously think JM or PG care about what we post?
      Did you see his arrogance in the after-game interview with one of the reporters?
      If he treats those who interpret and write his comments for the public to see, in that manner, he’s certainly not going to care one ioda what you or anyone else here thinks.

  11. MikeMcLaren says:

    Barely ever do this, but I have a pair of Flyers tickets available for Wednesday’s game in the Desjardins section. Selling for *below* public face value because the person I was selling to backed out. This is the all-you-can-eat section and these are my season tickets. Other HIO’ers out there can vouch for my legitimacy :)

    If you’re interested, please click on my pic…. oh wait, that’s the old site… please e-mail me at mmclaren at yahoo dot com – if you can’t figure out that e-mail address, paypal would be a problem, too so don’t worry about it ;)

    /\\ike
    GO HABS GO!

  12. I gotta say, I don’t get why everyone’s so down on Gauthier.

    – Our D corps isn’t very good right now, but Weber and Diaz are only playing because Markov, Spacek and Campoli are hurt — good on Gauthier for ensuring that we have the kind of depth that allows us to ice something resembling an NHL D corps with injuries to three go-to guys. In his shoes I might have kept Woywitka and sent down Diaz, but Diaz really over-performed in camp, and in any case that’s a minor issue concerning our 7th or 8th defenceman.

    – Our fourth line isn’t any good — though part of the reason for that is White’s injury and Martin’s insistence on playing Moen on higher lines. Someone miscalculated thinking that Engqvist could take Halpern’s place, and there’s no getting around the fact that this is a mistake. But to Gauthier’s credit, he at least doesn’t have his head in the sand: he first went after Betts, and when that didn’t work out he dealt next to nothing in exchange for Nokelainen, who by all accounts is an unremarkable but solid fourth-line centre with a righty shot who kills penalties and wins faceoffs. If he can eat 8-10 mistake-free minutes per game, Gauthier will look great on this one.

    – Hard to blame PG for Cole either: we all rejoiced when he finally landed a big speedy power forward who hits and has a great shot, and who’s consistently good for 25-30 goals. This seems a clear case of mismanagement by the coach too.

    As for Gauthier’s other moves:

    – Dominic Moore and the Wiz were great moves for 2nd-rounders. PG let Moore walk, but replaced him with Halpern, who was probably just as good and brought some more leadership to the team. In PG’s shoes, I’d have tried to re-sign both Wiz and Markov — dealing Spacek to free up the cap space — but he spent that money on a big proven top-six guy in Cole instead, and that’s not exactly crazy.

    – D’Agostini for Palushaj seemed to be of no consequence at the time, and while Dags has done well in St. Louis, I still think it’s an okay deal: Palushaj is 2 years younger, and may well be a top-six guy in two years.

    – He signed Nash as a free agent — lots of teams wanted him, but Gauthier got him.

    – Eller for Halak is starting to look awfully good, and may very well look brilliant in another year or two. And Schultz was decent as throw-ins go — I’m not a huge fan of goons, but I’m happy to have one who’s reasonably responsible defensively maturing in the system.

    – He took a chance on Darche as a free agent, paid him next to nothing, and got 12 goals out of him.

    – He’s also made a point of drafting bigger guys like Tinordi and Beaulieu, and managed to bring the elusive Emelin to the NHL, who’s already hitting and playing well and will only get better as he gets more used to the game here.

    All in all, that performance has got to be classified as good-to-very-good. If he’d managed just one more big free agent signing, we’d all agree he’s been excellent.

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

    • HabinBurlington says:

      While I respect your cautious optimism, I don’t see Campoli as a real stop gap. Zero physicality, was signed so late that missing an entire training camp could not have helped him being prepared for games so quickly. While I recognize we have zero options with Spacek due to contract, he simply is too fragile now and could not be counted on.

    • PeterStone says:

      I will say this, while he has done a nice job of reacting to challenges, this team has done a lousy job of building a team capable of competing for a Cup.

      Where is the # 1 center that has been lacking for 15+ years ? Where is the hard nosed DMan ? Where is the size, grit and toughness ?

      This is clearly not an indictment of PGs job ( although he “allegedly” pushed to go ahead with the Gomez trade which in itself should be cause for dismissal ) which has been OK to date.

  13. I don’t usually post line combinations. I let the people who get paid the big bucks to do that. But Pacs, DD, and #46 have been the Canadiens most productive line (checking and scoring). They should not be broken up game in game out.

    They should start every period, and they should be the number 1 PP unit.

    They were broken up last game then all of a sudden in the second they were put back together.

    Get a freakin grip. Nothing is going to make Cole, Plecs, and Gionta 80 point players. So stop thinking that Max, and DD are going to do that for them.

    The above three are 50 point players and that’s it. I was hoping for more when they all arrived but reality has kicked in.

    If it weren’t for the Children’s Foundation and meeting some really great fans, I’d sell my Super Summit Canadiens trip in a heart beat. (16-22 Nov. Canes, Rags, Booins)

    Instead, I’ll just wear a mask at the games.

    Shane Oliver
    http://www.Sholi2000.com
    Brandon, MB,Canada
    R7B 2R7
    hockey@sholi2000.com
    Ph- 204 724 8418

    • jon514 says:

      Hmmm,

      DD – MPac – AK were our best unit.

      Then

      Eller – Moen – AK were our best unit.

      Let’s see if I can deduce some sort of pattern here…

      I know, it must be those lazy russians who are making our team lose! Bring back Marshmallow Tenderness toute suite!

      “Let’s be clear on the facts…”

  14. RH says:

    Great game on Saturday, lousy result.

    I have to say that Lars Eller has become my favourite player to watch besides 76.

  15. Old Bald Bird says:

    IMO Emelin shouldn’t be sitting. Even if he isn’t up to speed yet, we need him to get there. I have visions of turning him into another OB by jerking him around. PG gets the benefit of my doubt for now. JM not so much.

  16. Stev.R says:

    Cammalleri – Plekanec – Gionta
    Moen – Eller – Kostitsyn
    Pacioretty – Desharnais – Cole
    Darche – Nokelainen – Blunden

    Gorges – Subban
    Gill – Diaz
    Spacek – Weber

    Those the lines at practise.

  17. Bripro says:

    We, the 3 musketeers who watch every game together, have all agreed:
    It’s time to get rid of Alfred E. Neuman.

  18. habs-hampton says:

    So according to the poll JM and/or PG are the problem and must go. But they can’t get rid of them because there are no French speaking replacements available, even though:
    1. All the players speak English
    2. The coach doesn’t appear to speak to the players in ANY language.
    3. Since the coach has been repeating the same thing over and over to the media after every loss since he got here, anyone can translate it, because it never changes. If he was speaking Mandarin, I would be able to repeat it by now. God forbid a reporter varies from the script!
    4. The GM never talks to ANYONE, so there is no evidence that he can speak French.

    We might as well try Don Cherry, at least he speaks a little English (or some variant of it).

    Time’s up, JM must go!

  19. HabinBurlington says:

    It’s pretty obviouse that the language our next coach needs to speak is Russian. This will prevent any future SK/Grabo misunderstandings. Next time Andrei says my knee really hurts today coach, the coach won’t respond with, okay how about you play 24mins tonight on it.

    Also he will be able to communicate with other Eastern European players like Pribyl as Russian is very close to Czech and Slovak.

    He won’t understand a single stupid question from some of the media. He will need to speak good broken english.

    Does Victor Thikonov still want to coach?

  20. arcosenate says:

    Now they want to add muscle? Now?

    Confused? Starting to feel a little less confident in the brain trust?

    Well you should be, pretty much 90 percent of us morons knew that the Habs would need to push back at some point. I mean, the other teams in the league have been known to scout and try and formulate a game plan which attempts to exploit weaknesses.

    The Habs have a few and one of them is size and toughness.

    Do you think anyone else might be able to figure that out?

    This is a joke, and it’s a bad one. There have been plenty of guys available in the draft and by trade who can play tough and not be a liability, they could actually be assets.

    And now, lo and behold, we’re “bulking up” with Mike Blunden?

    Give me a break.

    There’s no plan and if there is, the Dude sums it up best:

    “That’s a great plan, Walter. That’s f****n’ ingenious, if I understand it correctly. It’s a Swiss f****n’ watch.”

    • Chris F says:

      Exactly.
      Just saying bulking up now, at this point, with these players is simply not good enough.
      I have been stating since the beat down in Boston that our team is being laughed at, and our small skilled players cannot be truly effective without some muscle behind them.
      PG is an embarrassment, how do you not see the team is too small? Ryan White, if playing, should be the smallest guy on the fourth line. Our D is the biggest problem, as PG is the only GM who doesn’t see the necessity to have a couple very big guys on the back end who can clear for Price, and punish a few opposition forwards coming over the blue line.
      Other teams feel they are playing non-contact hockey when they look over the line.
      Subban attempted one hit against that puke Kessel, and almost got his head taken off for it. Unacceptable.
      What does PG think Blunden is going to do?
      I hope the kid does well, but come on!
      And another thing, if JM puts Darche on another PP I’m going to get physically ill. It’s beer league coaching at best.

  21. HolyHabs says:

    Florida was remade during the offseason by GM Dale Tallon and Assistant GM Michael Santos, starting even before the July 1 free agency period when, flush with a huge amount of cap space.
    +++++++++

    They were not flush with a huge amount of cash. They were $15 million below the cap floor and were FORCED to spend all kinds of money just to get there without suffering huge penalties and fines.

    • avatar_58 says:

      I don’t really understand why a team needs to meet the cap. All that does is cause teams to overpay UFAs who then go on to expect more the following contract.

      • HabinBurlington says:

        It is killing the small market US Southern Teams. Perhaps at the end of the day this will be good for the league by forcing some contraction of teams. Would love to see a 26 team league.

      • Un Canadien errant says:

        Avatar, it is part of the Collective Agreement. If the players were to accept a salary cap, which exerts a downward pressure on salaries, they had to insist on a floor so that ‘poor’ teams didn’t just hire AHL’ers and has-beens and pay them next to nothing. With a cap and a floor, the players’ percentage of revenue is guaranteed.

        HIB, I agree that the floor is killing the poor teams, but that’s only a reflection of their real problem, which is lack of ticket buyers in a poor local market. All teams should be spending a reasonable amount on player salaries, and if one can’t it shouldn’t be in business. Atlanta to Winnipeg has been a good start, Coyotes to Quebec City would continue that trend.

        ———————————
        How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?

        http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

  22. The Dude says:

    Budaj in nets tonight.There’s the Nail we have been looking for from Russia .

  23. LafleurFan says:

    A good indicator of defenceman skill is the ability to defend a 2-on-1. Weber, Gorges, Yemelin, Diaz, I’m looking at the TV screen with hope. Gill or Subban? No hope!

    Subban is needed on this team. Hope he gets paired with Josh orJaro when he gets back.

    Wow! Being stuck in Winnipeg in 1984 and getting big doses of news about Hawerchuk, and Babych, and Gilmour in St. Louis, didn’t know the ephemereal Mats Naslund had a 5 goal game! Is this the Canadiens’ only other 5-goal game besides the Rocket’s?

    “May you live in interesting times.”

    • Clay says:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_players_with_five_or_more_goals_in_an_NHL_game

      __________________________
      Anyway, I’ve never been captain in 16 years in the NHL. But that didn’t stop me being a leader in my own way.
      Guy Lafleur

      • Clay says:

        According to that link, the last time a Habs player scored 5 in a game was Yvan Cournoyer, on February 15, 1975
        No mention of Naslund…

        __________________________
        Anyway, I’ve never been captain in 16 years in the NHL. But that didn’t stop me being a leader in my own way.
        Guy Lafleur

        • LafleurFan says:

          Thanks Clay! Yeah, no mention of Mats. Have much greater respect for Joe Malone and Newsy Ladonde after reading this. Always loved Yvan and too bad the Broad St. Bullies won in ’75.

          “May you live in interesting times.”

          • Clay says:

            It makes a guy wonder how many goals Malone could have had in a season if they played 82 games back then. Approaching Gretzky territory perhaps.

            *sigh* Sad we haven’t had one for so long though…

            __________________________
            Anyway, I’ve never been captain in 16 years in the NHL. But that didn’t stop me being a leader in my own way.
            Guy Lafleur

  24. JF says:

    I hope Geoff Molson is looking for a new GM as well as a coach. And I hope the first, perhaps the only requirement won’t be that he speak French. When Gainey stepped down and Gauthier took over, the Canadiens indicated that they had the man they wanted within their own organization, so there was no need to interview other candidates. It was the following year that Boivin made it clear that any potential GM of the Habs had to speak French. Perhaps that was why they overlooked Steve Yzerman, who was at that time looking for a GM job.

    Gauthier may have been the best choice to take over from Gainey on an interim basis simply because he knew the organization. And I think he’s actually done a fairly decent job until this summer, although he let some players go that I would have kept. But Eller for Halak might turn out to have been a stroke of brilliance. Nevertheless, the mess he created this summer means he should go. A defence half made up of NHL rookies, no effective fourth line, a free-agent signing who seems to be anathema to his coach. Throw in the injuries and the subpar performances of some of the veterans, and the team is a mess.

    I hope Molson won’t make a panic move, but I also hope that he at least has some names he is considering. It is the thought of the ineptitude of the present management being prolonged into the tenure of a new GM and coach that is most disheartening.

    • HabFanSince72 says:

      Part of the mess is probably not Gauthier’s fault to be fair. I would include, among factors outside his control:

      1. Price’s terrible start. (Face it he’s having a nightmare.)

      2. Markov’s health (maybe he should have known better – maybe there was no way of knowing.)

      3. Subban’s sophomore slump. Gorges post-injury slump.

      4. Martin’s dislike of Erik Cole.

      • ed lopaz says:

        martins so called “dislike” of Cole, if true, is enough cause to have him fired. Period.

        when a GM who has the trust and support of Molson and Gainey goes out and acquires an experienced, proven goal scorer,

        the coach’s job is to play him. Period.

        Seriously.

        Martin is like a small child sometimes.

        This is NHL hockey.

        You play your best players the most, and especially in the situations when they are most needed.

        It is time for a change!

      • Clay says:

        5. Martin using Darche on the PP
        6. Martin constantly juggling lines, destroying any chance at ‘gelling’
        7. Martin continuing to play Gomez top minutes (until the injury)
        8. Martin (insert random Martin foible here)…

        __________________________
        Anyway, I’ve never been captain in 16 years in the NHL. But that didn’t stop me being a leader in my own way.
        Guy Lafleur

        • habs-hampton says:

          9. At 2-0 against the Pens, JM not calling at time out to REAM his players!!!
          10. At 3-0 with the Pens calling a TO, JM standing there picking his nose, instead of devising a scoring play.

          Time’s up, JM must go!

      • JF says:

        I agree Gauthier is not responsible for the things you list. But the fact remains that he made roster changes over the summer based on a whole host of assumptions many of which have not panned out. The most critical of these concerned the defence – the return of a healthy Markov and Gorges, P.K. not having a sophomore slump, the rapid adaptation of Alexei Emelin. If even one of those assumptions failed to pan out, the Habs would be in trouble. As it is, the only one that has worked out is Emelin (and you can throw in Diaz as a bonus). I don’t think Gauthier took adequate precautionary measures to avoid the situation we’re facing on defence. I can understand his reluctance to give Hamrlik two years, but we needed someone in case Markov could not start the season. Chris Campoli would partly fill the need if he hadn’t been injured, but we need a big, tough, veteran stay-at-home defenceman as well.

        The fourth line situation is at least as glaring. Gauthier had cap space and all summer to put together an effective fourth line. He did nothing beyond letting Jeff Halpern go.

        Price’s nightmarish start was of course completely unforeseen, and Gauthier can’t be blamed for that. I can only assume, based on last year, that Price will bounce back. But I would have started Budaj after the Calgary and Colorado games, in both of which he was pretty terrible.

        As for Cole, if the GM signs an important and expensive free-agent, it is up to the coach to work with him and get the best out of him. Martin does not seem to be even trying to do this. Cole is becoming his scapegoat for the team’s problems.

    • shootdapuck says:

      At the time the purchase of the Habs by Geoff Molson and his group Molson in a print interview bluntly stated that the Canadiens would NOT be run to any political agenda.

      Hope he remains true to his words.

      The time has come to flush the Ottawa Senators operations group presently running the Habs down the toilet.

      … the fans of the Boston Bruins now have lost forever any right to complain that “the league” is out to get their team, and that the Montreal Canadiens have some kind of pull inside the NHL home office.

      Charles P. Pierce – Boston Globe

  25. Chrisadiens says:

    Budaj getting extra work at practice. If he is starting, I would like to recant my game prediction.

    Chrisadiens and HabFan10912, one of the few father son tandems on HIO.

  26. sane hockey fan says:

    Im 09-10 philly went to the finals, during the season they had two 5-game losing streaks and one 4-game losing streak…they break out tonight!!! lets go boys!!!

  27. HabsFansince49 says:

    Hats off to Jack Todd and Leigh Anne Power (“JT”). Thoughtful and insightful articles.

  28. jon514 says:

    If Mr. Miyagi were a goalie coach, Carey Price would be practicing his gloveside wax-on, wax-off.

    “Let’s be clear on the facts…”

  29. Tony McLean says:

    Good thing Bob Gainey wouldn’t return Larry Robinson’s phone calls for a year and a half eh?

  30. avatar_58 says:

    So what happens if the panthers play like ass and still win? What does that say about the habs?

  31. habsfan0 says:

    The natives will be restless tonight.


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