Thank you, surging Sabres

Buffalo did the Canadiens a favour by beating Carolina.

But Boston and the Rangers won.

Canadiens enjoy a day off

Auld has Rangers’ number

The deep sleep of AK46

• Yvon Pedneault on the tight playoff race

They like SK74 in Nashville

Hockey News assesses Northeast Division, sees Canadiens “life and death” to make playoffs

NHL’s top defensive forwards (Czech who’s number three)

• Michael Farber’s midseason awards

And this little ditty:

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151 Comments

  1. mike g says:

    In 2 years, we will be much closer…

    They’ll still have the edge in forwards, can’t argue that.

    But defensively, I think we will. If were able to resign Wiz and Markov, we have the edge. Subban and Georges complete the top 4, and Hamrlik and Spacek will clear up 9 mill in cap space to add hopefully another stud defenseman.

    And the Flyers will have Coburn, Carle, Meszaros, and maybe still Pronger (but I think he has 2 years left in the tank after this one).

    And in nets, well we have the edge.

    So offensively, yes. I think they’ll have the edge over 90% of the teams in this league. But defensively and in nets, we look like we will be ahead.

    And we all know that having a top defensive unit and a solid goaltender can bring you very far.

     

    “These head movies make my eyes rain” -Simple Jack

     I got AK at under 64.5 pts, with Triple X and Tom Nickle.

  2. ed lopaz says:

    Giroux plays a very aggressive game in the offensive zone, as do all of the Flyer forwards.

    They take chances and “cheat” a lot – i.e looking for the turnover instead of focusing first and foremost on the backcheck.

    No forwards are permitted to “cheat” under Martin.

    If they stay 1 or 2 seconds longer in the O-zone, or curl in the neutral zone looking for the turnover pass, for example, they are reprimanded.

    In the defensive zone, the Flyers look to break out much sooner than the Habs.

    The Habs are extremely cautious and conservative in their break outs.

    Again, everything point to the defence first approach.

    Giroux would be stifled here.

    That makes a big difference in your offensive chances.

    Martin knows this – obviously.

    He has forgotten more about hockey than I will ever know.

     

     

     

  3. SLONCOLD says:

    Komisarek was worth more to montreal though. he provided some muscle for markov when they were paired together; it was a good defensive pairing

  4. Storm Man says:

    Stop the press……… Did I miss something here???? Is the season over???? some of you on here need to chill and find something to make your life better. Let’s see what this team does in April before we start acting like owners of the team.

     

    “I have never failed at anything in my life so far… TripleX 12/23/2010 16:34pm”

  5. SeriousFan09 says:

    Next year they’re facing the salary cap squeeze, next year even more for their young talent. You can’t maintain elite status in the NHL anymore, every team has to take it on the chin and lose that depth that takes from SC Finalists to 1st-round playoff dogfighting.

    In 2-3 years, Kristo, Leblanc, Tinordi and Avtsin will be cheap young players under the cap, along with potential others depending upon the depth and quality of future drafts and getting the occasional steal.

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  6. HabFanSince72 says:

    I tend to agree. I mean, anyone who is unhapy can contemplate supporting the Leafs, Sens, Flames.

     

    On the other hand, the constant loss of young players like O’Byrne and SK74 is a concern.

     

  7. SLONCOLD says:

    i love how you defend AK:-) the day he’s traded i bet you’ll say what a bum he was and how management was right to can him cause he had a bad attitude and what not.

    i think he has 30 goal scorer written all over him, hope it shows up here in mtl.

  8. HabFanSince72 says:

    I agree.

    Now the Molsons need to lobby hard to end this preposterous system where tanking is the best way to build a contender.

    Teams like tha Pens and Blackhawks are a disgrace as they deliberately put out non-competitive teams year after year. There should not be a reward for that.

  9. SeriousFan09 says:

    Bournival’s a forward and I have my doubts on Festerling cracking the D ahead of a guy like Brendon Nash. Also, Jarred Tinordi had nothing to do with Grabovski, are you thinking of Greg Pateryn?

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  10. mike g says:

    Burke has made many blunders..

    The Kessel trade: like you said, Seguin or Hall, plus whoever Boston picks this year with TOR 1st rounder. It could turn into a disaster if they pick a solid defenseman, something TOR really needs.

    The Phaneuf deal: Sure they gave up nothing, but they got an overpaid douche captain in return. I bet you 100% that deal was done because Dion was already named captain. It was in Burke’s plan, and I think Dion is probably the worst captain in the NHL. And I don’t think there’s another team out there that would argue that..

    The Komisarek signing: Do I really need to explain? Let’s just say that Komisarek getting paid league minimum is overpaid. So at 4.5 mill per year, that’s just legal robbery.

    Colby Armstong at 3 mill per year? Yea, that would really fly here in Hab land..

    Etc….

    And their drafting team hasn’t done nearly as good as a job as they should have. The quality of our prospects rape theirs. And like I said before, we’ve stayed competitive and built a better foundation than them, and many other teams that tanked.

     

    “These head movies make my eyes rain” -Simple Jack

     I got AK at under 64.5 pts, with Triple X and Tom Nickle.

  11. ed lopaz says:

    we are so far behind the Flyers its not acceptable.

    this year, last year, next year, just way too far behind.

    Price is the 1 position where we have the edge – no question.

    But the Flyers defence and forwards are miles ahead of us.

    Its remarkable considering we all spend the same amount of money on salaries.

     

  12. SeriousFan09 says:

    I think Giroux could succeed in MTL, very smart two-way player. He handled ‘big pressure’ situations like the WJC and the NHL Playoffs with distinction and has overcome many challenges to get where he is, including getting overlooked in the OHL bantam draft.

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  13. SLONCOLD says:

    my issue with our GM is how our drafted players failed to do very much here but seem to be playing rather well in other markets and then the habs failing to get a fair return on those players; not to mention how we failed to even get a few draft picks for some of the UFAs that left. Don’t get me wrong, i know we can’t trade all of our UFAs for draft picks because we do need them in our line up but if you identify a player that is not part of your plans, get something for him.

    also you should look at a bunch of players that left the organization and their point production. looks better than a bunch of our current players….

     

  14. ed lopaz says:

    its also “Pro Development”, SF.

    I’m not convinced that Claude Giroux could succeed here, are you?

    Giroux would not have developed in the same way here.

    That’s my biggest concern.

     

  15. Mark C says:

    I think Flyers management has done a great job at attaining embarrassing photos of other team’s G.M.’s. It seems the Flyers pillage a team in a trade every few years.

    Then again, the Flyers Cup drought is older than Montreal’s.

     

  16. joeybarrie says:

    Yes I think BG did a good job with the team, and created a solid foundation. We still have prospects, and we have a good team. We are a few steps short of being an elite team and its not easy to get there.

    Your post made me think about what the Habs did with the guys we lost. With AK stinking it up points wise in the last 20 games I started to wonder about what is going to happen when we trade him.

    So we got rid of Grabovski, which I believe in the end is a good thing as his attitude was clearly not going to work in MTL. Any professional who skips the plane ride to meet with his agent to try to either get out of the city or force the coach into playing him is not something we need. I also would like to mention that the guys who left are getting top line minutes right now, so of course their production is high. Problem is, HERE in Montreal it would not simply work like that. Think of it this way. Would you rather had Gionta or SK on the top line?

    Grabs = Jarred Tinordi

    SK = Boyd (however there is a big addition by subtraction here) Again, no time to hold the hands of kids who have no respect.

    Chips = 4th round pick in 2011

    D’Ags = Palushaj

    Lats = Pouliot (so far we won that one… However it does suck that Lats in injured, cause he seemed to have found his scoring touch)

    O’Byrne = Bournival (which I think will be a decent defender when his time comes). To be honest I think he is simply a younger O’Byrne, and a good trade considering OB deserved ice time he wouldnt get in MTL and we got a decent prospect for the future when we might need a D.

    Lapierre = Festerling (to me same thing Laps was barely getting himself a regular spot, so we gave him a chance to make it somewhere else, and got a Defenceman that will probably be a 6th or 7th regular D.)

    I do not think we did anything but even ourselves up with these trades. And the Grabs trade will probably work out very well for us if Tinordi lives up to his promise.

    We have interesting ideas here in Montreal, that if a player leaves his production in the new city would have been exactly what he could have done here. The other thing is in order to give these guys time on each line you would have to push down guys like Pleks, Gio, Cammi, Gomez and AK. You can’t simply look back and see one particular player and put him exactly in for another. AK has sucked it up for the last 20 games, so you can’t simply say if we kept SK instead of AK we would be better off…

    Lastly I will say in AK’s defense. He deserves another chance to make it work. He has clear talent. He just needs to get his head right. It’s a work ethic question much like Price’s and to be honest AK is still young. We let Gomez go for a bunch of games, and now look at him. We can’t get anything for AK, so sign him for next season at the minimum we can and see what happens. 3.5 million for 40-50 points is not the end of the world, in fact MANY players in that salary range are producing those numbers. (Rene Bourque, Dave Bolland). Worst case is he gets an offer sheet, and we take it. I think AK will produce a 50-60 point season regularly. Thats not bad. Especially as he gets more experience. And he is clearly doing some things right, cause JM hasn’t really demoted him.

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

  17. joshua94k says:

    I like the path this team has taken, to put a competitive team on the ice and the goal has always been to win a Stanley Cup. Last year they made the conference finals. The Montreal Canadiens won Cups when they weren’t expected to like 1993, 1986, 1971, etc. Once you are in the play-offs, anything can happen and any team can win. The days of powerhouse teams are long gone. No team is too strong. Anybody can be beaten.

    I like what Gainey and Gauthier have done with this team. Hockey is exciting in Montreal, fans embrace this team like never before.

    Gainey made the tough decisions and rebuilt the team in 2009 by replacing the coach and adding fine players like Gionta, Cammalleri, Gomez (even though his salary hurts), Gill, Moore, Darche etc. The result, the team made the Conference Finals in a rebuilding year.

    Gauthier was in a very small minority when he backed Carey Price last year and signed him. He add Halpern, Wisniewski, Picard, Eller and Auld. He resigned Darche, Pouliot etc.

    This team has had to overcome the loss of top players last season and this season they are without their top two defencemen. But the future with young talent looks very good for this team.

    With a young core (Price, Pouliot, Eller, Subban, Desharnais, Pacioretty, Kostitsyn, Picard, Pyatt, Webber, Wisniewski, ) all 25yrs in age or younger, and prospects like LeBlanc and Tinordi, this team has a bright future.

    It is not easy trading or not signing popular French Canadian players like Bergeron, Lapierre and going with with best players available.

    It is not easy signing players in Montreal with the pressure, high taxes, language, weather etc.

    But as Wayne Gretzky said, “Look around here with all those banners, you don’y win many Cups for nothing”

    “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

  18. 24 Cups says:

    Gainey should have stripped the club down in 2003 in order to increase his chances of getting more building blocks.  He had just arrived and could ride out the storm based on his past history and reputation.

    He still would have been able to get players such as MaxPac and Subban.  You could count Price as well although having a lottery draft wasn’t exactly a level playing field.  Pleks and Markov were already here.

    That window has passed and we are now going down another road during our 2nd try at a rebuild. I’m on board and hoping we can challenge for a Cup in a few years.   BTW, It’s really year two, not six.  If you see it as six then you are negating Gainey’s colossal failure of two years ago.  Regardless, the 2nd faze is basically structured on excess cap space.  We had it, so we spent it.  Who did we choose?  Whoever was available at that time on the free agent market.  The players would have changed if it was not 2009 and Hab fans would be loving the new guys as much as they now adore Gionta, Cammy and Gill. 

    I take no comfort from comparing ourselves to the laffs.  That’s nothing to brag about.  We might as well say we’re better than the Islanders.  I prefer to compare our team (and it’s structuring) to the franchises that are ahead of us, not behind us.

    It’s hard to believe that it’s now 8 years since G&G took over the team.  I can play the ‘what if’ game with the best of them but realize that it’s futile at this point in time (resistance is futile – the Borg?).  I try not to revisit the past too much, as the only remnant left is AK46.  And time is about to march on his sad-sack face.

    P.S.  Burke has really only made the one huge mistake.  Without the Kessel trade, he would have either Seguin or Hall and would be in great shape to grab one of the top four guys in this year’s draft.  He then could start moving forward.

     

  19. patience is a virtue says:

    There’s no sure fire recipe for rebuilding, but I too prefer the method chosen by BG.  The two most interesting things, IMHO:

    1) After the Koivu-led team imploded, the free agent rebuild two summers ago, which BG wisely left the door open to by lining up his contracts as he did.

    2) The fact that we have one of the most under-reported youth movements (20-24 year olds) in the NHL happening right now on the Habs (Price, PK, Poo, Patches, Eller, Weber?, DD?). 

    Furthermore, PG has impressed me with boldness equalling Gainey’s: The Halak trade was risky and controversial but bang on (sell high, Halak is not a franchise player, Price might be), shipping out SK and Laps (cut your loses, suck it up – these guys were giving plenty of opportunity in Mtl), and a sweet deal for The Wiz, who will help make our defense one of the strongest offesive-Ds in the league next season – Markov, PK, The Wiz and Weber = wowza.

     

  20. mike g says:

    Smart scouting…

    Thats why the Habs cleaned house last summer.

    And they identified their young core 3 years ago. Carter, Richards and JVR were going to lead the way for the next 10 years. JVR isn’t there yet, but is progressing.

    Then they hit the jackpot with a sneaky pick in Giroux. Guys like Briere and Hartnell were acquired to provide scoring and physical play, and there you have it.

    But the most important piece of that team is Pronger. Trust me, I follow the Flyers 2nd to the Habs, and they’re not the same team without him. And they’ve got 1 more year of solid Chris Pronger play. Next year he might lose a step, and IMO the year after will be his decline year.

    And he’s their MVP. He logs tons of minutes and helps them win close games. He’s been out for a month, and they’ve struggled in close/playoff type games.

    So, if they don’t win this or next year, they might not with this current core, because Hartnell and Briere will probably leave to UFA, since the Flyers probably wont be able to afford them. And not to mention they still need to adress their goaltending.

    So comparing them to us, I think we’re 3 years away from being at their level (being the the Cup window years).

    But our advantage is that our core won’t have anyone who’s Prongers age. So our window might last longer…

     

    “These head movies make my eyes rain” -Simple Jack

    I got AK at under 64.5 pts, with Triple X and Tom Nickle.

  21. Omit says:

    There was no better choice as GM than Bob Gainey, and it wasn’t even close.

  22. SeriousFan09 says:

    They’ve been good at drafting and developing their 1st-round picks over the last 2 decades, the Canadiens have not. The Canadiens have needed to take a step forward in making their 1st pick in a draft count, they’re getting better but PHI had a strong scouting department while the Habs were in a tailspin. It takes time to get player development back on track.

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  23. mike g says:

    Yup…

    And don’t listen to those who complain about not winning a Cup in so long. It’s not BG or PG’s fault that this franchise was run to the ground, and in now way were they gonna come here, press a magic button and fix all the problems in the matter of days.

    Its a very, very long process. And when you determine the approach you will take to rebuild, it’s either a hit or a miss. And we can consider it a hit, because we’ve been a constant playoff team and our young core is just getting better every year.

    I think the Habs, and we, should be very happy that the 1st management team braught in to actually rebuild suceeded. They were asked to make us a competitive every year, and one day a solid contender for a couple of years. And IMO, were on the right track.

    BG had nothing to work with when he got here. Our roster had more holes than Swiss Cheese. And instead of panicking, he stayed calm and look how we’ve grown over the past 5 years.

    Immagine if he would’ve failed. Immagine if we hadn’t made the playoffs in 4 years, Price had failed, no good rookies, etc…

    We would be hiring a new GM and hoping that in another 5 years, we’d be able to enjoy watching meaningful hockey games again.

    It would be a disaster…

     

    “These head movies make my eyes rain” -Simple Jack

    I got AK at under 64.5 pts, with Triple X and Tom Nickle.

  24. ed lopaz says:

    what about the Flyers? what’s the explanation there? why are they so good?

     

  25. shiram says:

    Bg is doign great, of course nothing is ever perfect, but we have a competitive team for a good number of years now, and thats interesting hockey to watch.

    I really really dont want to see the Habs go on a tanking run… just imagine the fan reaction, it would kill the team!

    Pieces are still missing to be a top contender, but injuries have been a bane here too.

  26. HabsFanInTampa says:

    “That’s probably why I’m not a REAL fan of this team”. Yeah right, Mattyleg. I hate it when people who don’t even know me make ridiculous assumptions. Maybe YOU’RE not a REAL fan. If you’re content with just barely making the playoffs every year and not winning a Cup or even being Conference Champions, then fine. Remember 16 teams out of 30 make the playoffs, it’s not that much of an impossible endevour.

  27. mike g says:

    Thanks man…

    Like I said, it may not have been the best years of hockey this club has ever seen. But, we’ve cleaned up the dead wood and the way this team is built, it looks like each year following this one, the team will just get better and better.

    And I can’t complain about a constant playoff team on the rise…

     

    “These head movies make my eyes rain” -Simple Jack

    I got AK at under 64.5 pts, with Triple X and Tom Nickle.

  28. newbrunswick troy says:

    somewhat agree Mike, this team (Gainey ) decided to go the direction of making sure they are a playoff team…nothing more…with the chance (like last year) of taking a run in the playoffs!!!

    the other philosiphy is tank bad for 3-5 years and hope your scouts to good job..( I.E BlackHawks)..and i think Gainey- P.G did what they had to do given the fact that the Habs scouts have been horrible the last decade or so…..

    That said i feel better knowing that last summer P.G cleaned house on the scouts!!!hopefully the future holds well with our new scouting system!!

  29. mike g says:

    Read below…

    As Seriousfan pointed out, and as I hinted above, you have to HOPE those picks pan out.

    What if the Habs tanked, and drafted for 5 years in the top 10, and only 1 of those picks would turn out to be a good, not superstar, but good NHLer?

    Because that’s the path that many teams are going down.

    Toronto tanked. Florida has tanked. The Islanders, Phoenix, CLB, ATL, etc…

    How many of those teams have a better foundation than ours? IMO, none.

    And how many of those teams have made the playoffs in the past 5 years, combined? 3. CLB, ATL and Phoenix made it once in 5 years, and never won a round.

    Yet we’ve made it more times than 5 franchises in total rebuild mode, combined, 5 times out of 6 years, and have a better foundation to work with.

    Still think it was a bad move?

    Not me.

    And sure Pittsburgh has a nice team, but if they woulda sucked one year after they did,  they wouldn’t have gotten Crosby and wouldn’t be this good. It’s all luck. Drafting properly is a technique, but luck determines the draft year talent.

    And if you fall on a weak draft year when you got the top pick, it ain’t gonna be pretty..

     

    “These head movies make my eyes rain” -Simple Jack

     I got AK at under 64.5 pts, with Triple X and Tom Nickle.

  30. SeriousFan09 says:

    Sometimes teams don’t get rewarded with Crosby and Malkin for absolute failure, or Kane and Toews.

    Other teams win the draft lottery, so you go from 2nd to 3rd, which in 2004 was the difference between Evgeni Malkin and Cam Barker. James Van Riemsdyk over Patrick Kane in 2007? You can draft in the lottery for years but if they’re lean draft years and other teams are better at failing than you are… it’s not far between franchise pick and maybe 2nd-line winger.

    Canadiens had better scouting, Ryan Getzlaf, Claude Giroux, Meszaros would be Habs and the team would be solid contenders. You don’t need the draft lottery, you need a good scouting contingent.

     

    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  31. Mattyleg says:

    That’s probably why you’re not a real fan of this team. No real fan wants to watch his team lose, much less ‘tank’. I think that’s the most pathetic thing you can possibly do.

    And Mike didn’t say that 8th or worse was acceptable. What he said was that we’ve been in the playoffs 5 times out of 6. Just read it, it’s up there. There’s nothing mediocre in finishing first in the conference in the season, or going to the conference finals in the playoffs.

    If only the Stanley Cup will make you happy, you’re in for a lot of disappointment, regardless of what team you support.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  32. HabsFanInTampa says:

    I didn’t know you were such an optimist, Mike. So what you’re saying is it’s acceptable to be mediocre and finish as the 8th seed or worse every year and not win a Stanley Cup since 1993. Yes, folks we haven’t won a Stanley Cup in almost 20 years! Oh, but we have a “solid foundation” as you mentioned. To answer your question, in my opinion, yes I would have accepted to have tanked for a few years and then start competing for Lord Stanley after getting rewarded top draft picks. Maybe we wouldn’t be nearing 20 years of futility.

  33. Mattyleg says:

    Yo Mike,

    I’m with you on this 100%. I’ve always liked BG’s approach, and I don’t like the Playstation GMs who want to trade everyone for everyone else at a moment’s notice.

    Slow and steady has been his style, and some pretty deft moves along the way. Who saw what he did in Josh Gorges for Craig Rivet? How about going into the locker room after getting rid of Guy and finding out that the air stank?

    BG’s always been my man.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  34. mike g says:

    Morning….

      So all this talk about our GM’s being stupid and trading away great talents, but yet were still a playoff team every year. Same thing can’t be said for the Leafs. When Burke got there 3 years ago, he promised change. Now to his credit, there have been many changes as far as player personel goes, but not in the standings, where it really counts. And in MTL, BG took over a franchise in shambles, with zero young prospects and a roster that would make the Islanders look like solid opponents. Result? Habs have made the playoffs 4 years in a row, and 5 out of 6. All this, while slowly rebuilding the team but choosing to stay competitive.

    And this is where we have to look around and be happy. When BG took over, he had 2 choices: tank for 5 years, and HOPE to get solid draft picks and they turn our to be stars or rebuild while staying competitive and try make the playoffs every year, while rebuilding slowly over a 6-8 year period.

    We are in year 6, and we have solid futures currently on the roster and gaining experience like Pleks, Price, PK and Patches. Toronto is in year 3 and they have Kessel. No goaltender, no stud defenseman and Kadri doesn’t look NHL ready just yet. And, they don’t have a 1st rounder again this year.

    So who chose the better path?

    IMO, I think the Habs did. They never went overboard and sold the future to acquire a player like Kessel. We waited and signed Cammy for free (not counting his salary); they’re the same type of players. And now, this franchise has a solid foundation, rebuilt, all while making the fans happy by making the playoffs.

    Can we really ask for anything more?

    I don’t think so. We may not have had the prettiest players or point totals over the past 6 years, but we’ve been to the dance 5 times. We’ve gained the playoff experience so that when the prime years come, we perform to our max in the playoffs without the rookie jitters. When Pleks, Price, PK and the rest of our new core enter their primes (Pleks is hitting it now), we will then add the missing pieces and enter our Cup window years.

    So my question is, do you agree that BG quietly did a good job of creating a solid foundation, all while staying competitive and making the Habs a huge success profit-wise for his owner?

    Or would you have rather tanked, and cross your fingers that we draft good young players and they all pan out? Because like we see with the Leafs, it doesn’t always work out. And as much as TSN might think it and try sell it, that franchise is not on the quick path to success. Many teams in this conference have already established their future foundation. They’re way behind.

    My answer: BG gets thumbs up.

    Yours?

     

    “These head movies make my eyes rain” -Simple Jack

    I got AK at under 64.5 pts, with Triple X and Tom Nickle.

  35. adam76 says:

    Gotta love Toronto, even when they cheat, they still can’t get past 25th place.

  36. Dennis says:

    I’d say the Habs scouts and management definitely missed the mark regarding Kostitsyn. Carter, Parise, Getzlaf, Richards, Bergeron, and Shea Weber all came after Kostitsyn in the 2003 draft. Or maybe he felt like playing back then. http://dennis-kane.com/the-ones-that-got-away/

  37. Mattyleg says:

    Ha! I love the story of the Leafs getting their hand slapped for exchanging money for Wilson’s 600th win.

    Violating the CBA. Hilarious.

    These dudes have more money than they know what to do with. Couple grand? 5 minutes’ ice-time.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—


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