• Tomas Plekanec in search of his MIA scoring touch (read below)
• On Page 1 of the National Post, Are the Canadiens a religion?
• Canadiens have to allow fewer shots
• Pierre Durocher of the Journal de Montréal on Marian Gaborik
• Ryan O’Byrne inspired by Mike Komisarek
• Pierre LeBrun on Gaborik, GMs meeting
• Scott Burnside on the NHL’s best (including Koivu-Tanguay-Latendresse) and worst lines in the early going
• Highest payrolls (Canadiens are 10th)
• Second Toronto team would be good for hockey
• Mats Sundin prepping for a comeback
• George Gillett and Tom Hicks ready to sell Liverpool?
• Goaltender controversy in Philadelphia
• James Myrtle on the move
Gazette online captured only half the Plekanec story. Here it is:
Late last season, the vacated Florida Panthers net would have
looked as large as the ocean to Canadiens centreman Tomas
Plekanec. On Monday, it probably seemed the size of a raindrop.
"I was thinking of passing," Plekanec said of his two-on-one break
with winger Alex Kovalev in the waning seconds of Monday’s 3-1
victory over the Panthers.
"But with the confidence I have and the bad game I’d had, I just
skated in as close as I could to hit the net."
Plekanec did indeed find the empty Florida net with a 55-footer
for his first goal of the season, perhaps the ice-breaker he needed
after five games that had produced two assists.
(For those stressing over Plekanec’s start this season, he is
exactly where he was offensively after six games last year, when
he went on to score 29 goals and record 40 assists, both career
It’s not that the 25-year-old fourth-year Canadien is wanting for
confidence in the usual sense of the word.
"I’m not thinking that I’m not a good player, not at all," Plekanec
said yesterday, his team back at practice after having enjoyed a
"It’s just that the puck sometimes doesn’t go for you. It doesn’t
bounce or go the way you want. Sometimes you make bad
decisions with the puck.
"It’s not going to come easy or just with one bounce. You have to
work hard for it. I’m working hard, but I have to work even
harder to get that bounce. I’m sure it’s going to come."
The Canadiens resumed their work in Verdun, something named
Madonna having literally taken over the Bell Centre with
mountains of equipment, security and linger-at-your-own-risk
warnings to all in the building.
Goalie Carey Price was under the weather – the word flu wasn’t
officially used – which left Jaroslav Halak to face every puck.
Defenceman Andrei Markov also didn’t skate, taking a so-called
therapy day, nor did Plekanec-line winger Andrei Kostitsyn, still
recovering from having had his bell loudly run against Phoenix
Forward Christopher Higgins (groin) skated alone with strength
and conditioning coordinator Scott Livingston, while Georges
Laraque (groin) and Steve Bégin (flu) returned to the ice with
Sergei Kostitsyn skated with Plekanec and Kovalev, as he did in
Monday’s game, while Saku Koivu remained between Guillaume
Latendresse and Alex Tanguay.
Bégin practised with Robert Lang and Tom Kostopoulos, with
Maxim Lapierre skating between Mathieu Dandenault and
"Same name, same face … almost," Plekanec joked of the
interchangeable Kostitsyns. "No, not really. They’re both great
players. It’s not a big, big change for me."
Of course, Plekanec’s value to the Canadiens isn’t calculated solely
by his offensive output. He’s a strong two-way player who brings
other qualities to the rink.
"We have plenty of players who can score," he said. "My job is to
win the faceoff in the (defensive) zone and be good on the penalty-
kill. I’m not thinking just about scoring goals, or getting points.
It’s the overall game for me. I know I’m doing some good things,
but there are plenty of things I can do better.
"I’m just trying to play my two-way game. It’s going to come."
Head coach Guy Carbonneau knows he needs to work on neutral-
and defensive-zone coverage, and hone that in practices leading to
Saturday’s home game against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Canadiens have been giving up blizzard of shots – 192 to
date, an average of 32 per game. That was third-highest among
the 14 clubs having played six games heading into last night’s
It’s been the superb goaltending of Price, with a .939. save
percentage in his four games, and Halak, a sizzling .967 in his
two, that’s allowed the club to earn 11 of 12 possible points. The
pair’s combined .948 leads the league.
"It’s details, the little things," defenceman Josh Gorges said of
the necessary repairs. "Being in the shooting lanes, taking away a
little more time and space, and not being hesitant.
"Sometimes we’re second-guessing if we should jump in or stay,
then we get caught. We get too excited, try to do somebody else’s
job, then start running around and they get momentum and time
in the (Canadiens’) zone.
"We have to help our goalies a lot more," Gorges added. "They’ve
been holding us in the games. They’ve shut the door. If it wasn’t
for them, our record could be different right now."
Strangely, the steadiness of Price and Halak is what often leaves
them on their own.
"We feel comfortable when they’re in the net," Bégin said, joking
that it’s "good for them, we make sure they’re ready" when the
goalies faces pucks early and often.
"We don’t try to (take chances), because that’s dangerous.
They’ve been playing very well since the beginning of the season.
We know if they make a mistake, they’re going to be there."