The state of sunshine

In frigid Montreal, we envy our traveling hockey team.

Habs doing more talking

Why is the NHL in Atlanta?

Arpon Basu’s assessments of Gauthier, Martin

Pierre Durocher on next season’s D

In praise of Price

François Gagnon: Three Dmen, one opening

CapGeek’s FA list

And courtesy of Gazette marketing stats wizard David Klimek, the latest HIO page view numbers from Google Analytics.

February, 2010 = 2,007,322
February, 2011 = 2,499,619
A 24 per cent increase.

Plus 176,069 page views on the mobile site.

89 Comments

  1. LA Loyalist says:

    Ok. Let’s go with 30.5 shots a game. Is this the proof of Mr. Happy’s stellar system? (and I know not all shots are equal, but for the immediate argument). 

    New Jersey are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games, playing a systemic, defensive game. (18-2-2 in their last 22)

    Montreal is 4-4-2 in their last 10, playing a systemic, defensive game.

    Obviously we would be better with Markov and Gorges, obviously New Jersey would be better with Parise.

    Please explain how JM is such a great coach – he has had 2 years of TOTAL FREEDOM to implement his genius “system” which we can execute to the level of .500 winning %. Wow. I saw someone post that we may make it up to 5th place. Crack the champagne.

    My point is we can’t even play his genius system excellently, and neither can we score. Lemaire comes in and wins 20 freaking games in a row almost with the same players. Mr. Happy clops along happily win 1, lose 1, win 1, lose 1, c’est la vie.

    Either his system is not as good as you think it is, or are players are not as good as you think they are. Which is it?

    This is good enough? It’s not good enough, not in Montreal. .500 hockey is not good enough, spin it every way from Sunday.

    And imagine us without Price, and we’re a groin pull or a puck off his head away from that. Even 3-6 games without Price and we would drop like a stone.

    How is this good enough?

     

     

  2. The Teacher says:

    Arpon Basu’s article is awesome! Kudos!

  3. Displaced says:

    I don’t expect to win every game, although I’d sure like to.  “Sadly”, under JM, our winning percentage is below the average team during the same period (.549 vs. .560).  Other than beating two team ranked ahead of us on the back of Halak’s magic and Cammi’s timely scoring, Arpon gives JM, his system, PG and his organization a passing grade.  I find it difficult to credit management for what oldtimers in sales used to call a “bluebird”, a client that calls you out of the blue to buy something.  You get the commission, but you didn’t earn it — and until they repeat their playoff success, neither did PG and JM.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  4. Displaced says:

    He’s all over the map.  First Arpon praises superior performances from Halak and Price, then says Price doesn’t make spectucular saves, then says they are the reason we won this year and last playoff, then credits JM for creating the hold-on-for-dear-life “system” while omitting a league-leading 12 too-many-men penalties (surprised Cherry has jumped on that…)

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  5. The Cat says:

    Good analogy dude.

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

  6. The Teacher says:

    Wow one hand as thge other is broekn and my posts erases itself.

     

    Coles nots version

     

    Kaberle   a first and Colbourne for 39 points in 62 games

     

    Wisniewski with us for a lot longer and 40 points in 57 games for a 2nd rounder..

     

    Gauthier gets us stuff when needed when prices are lower. He ripped Islandrs off.

     

    Halak or Price…case closed, made the smart move and yes, Eller will be a legitimate 2nd line center when all is said and done.

     

    What could he have done better? We need size yes, but not always easyto get and get at fair price. I dislike Penner and L>A> way overpaid so happy with that too…What could he do better???

     

    Can’t expect him to get ANOTHER D..we have too many as it stands when we look at next year…Gorges is back without a doubt and almost certain ?Markov is also…Gill probably but the others I dunno..With PK, Weber, we are fine. on D. Forward we need can be picked up off UFA list, (even if not strong this year) Trade at draft an option..We weren’t going for broke this year so I’m fine.

  7. ed lopaz says:

    I find it difficult to credit management or the coaching staff as well.

    When we are outshot 2-1 by Atlanta, and the coach admits that the game was stolen by Price, and that we gave up way too many scoring chances, etc.. there are 2 conclusions usually drawn here at HIO.

    1) the Habs won the game – which is followed by 100 rationalisations why shots on goal or scoring chances or time spent in our own zone is NOT relevant

    2) your analysis – the system did not work, the habs, Martin and Gauthier did not look good, but Price was spectacular and so we prevailed.

    I usually read Boone’s About Last Night – which I did in the case of Atlanta.

    When he confirms that the Habs are relying almost exclusively on Price – I take a deep breath and relax.

    Take a close look at the teams that are ranked 7-15 in the East.

    We are 6th – which is outstanding – and surprising considering our injuries.

    But the teams 7-15 are god awful – and that’s a fact. – thankfully!!

    Habs hockey is “smart” hockey – we play 5 man defence, not just 2 – we move up the ice as a 5 man unit, we back check with 5.

  8. adamkennelly says:

    I agree but have some issues.  If PG gets props from his owners for getting the team into the 3rd round and making more loot – great – we are acknowledging that hockey is a business.  Fine – but its the entertainment business – winning is #1 and makes up for other things but relying on your goaler to make 39 saves out of 40 shots is not a recipe that will have long term success.  its a fine line he is walking.  JM plays boring hockey – we all know it.  Habs don’t score enough goals, are not physical – basically rope a dope their opponents every game and then try to play shut down.  zzzzzzzzzz…..we are the customers – like it or not…we will always be here because of the team we follow but if Halak has one slightly worse game in series one last year and this whole argument about this team goes down the drain…

    I am just tired of our team getting pushed around every game…happened again in ATL – where 19 year old Evander Kane was roughing our guys up…I’m sick of it…teams come into our building and do as they please…this is the NHL – its not Europe….

  9. wd40 says:

    NOTE: The link to the article on Price (In praise of Price) is broken.

     

  10. Displaced says:

    PG’s been here for 8 years in positions to draft, develop and advise on trades.  He knows the cap rules going into the season, so he can only blame himself when the team is saddled with stupid contracts that limit moves.  He also benefits from deep-pocketed owners who let him spend all the way to the cap.  Ask Tallon and Maloney if they have that luxury.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  11. J_P says:

    I think one of the biggest disappointments with the habs this season is their struggles with non-playoff teams.  There’s no excuse for the lackluster efforts they have displayed this season against teams below them in the standings.  They can get blown out by the oilers, but beat the league-leading canucks.  Kind of frustrating because you know they are capable squad. 

    Teams with nothing to lose can be a dangerous opponent, so the habs really have to come flying out of the gate tonight.  If they can grab an early lead, it should be smooth sailing for them the rest of the way. 

  12. LA Loyalist says:

    I just want to scream after reading AB’s apologia for PG and Mr. Happy.

    Yes PG has done some good things this year patching holes at modest cost, but we are still a long way from the Grail.

    But I am going to mention only 2 things as I think they are very telling:

    “But his (SK) market value was very low when he was traded because he was considered a chemistry risk, one the Predators were confident super-coach Barry Trotz could manage.”

    So is Mr. Happy a super-coach or a stick boy? What is it? He’s basically saying that Trotz is a far better coach than Mr. Happy so Sergei is playing great. Lovely.

    My other point about Mr. Happy and the article – that JM’s system is built on the goalie stoppping 40 shots a night. Well, last night New Jersey beat Tampa 2-1 in a very tough game (won by Kovalchuk with a laser beam). New Jersey gave up 15 shots. FIFTEEN! NOT 40! Do we have Jacque Lemaire Lite?

    If Habs were giving up 15 or 20 shots a night, Mr. Happy might have some credibility. And don’t go blah blah blah last years playoffs. That was Halak and everybody knows it. And this year it might be Price god help us but if the SYSTEM calls for 15-20 shots and we’re coughing up double that – DO THE MATH. How can you defend a system that doesn’t even WORK.

    I couldn’t even finish the article.

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  14. Displaced says:

    First, sorry about your hand. 

    Second, I agree with every point you made.  Boston and LA overpaid for Kaberle and Penner.  I don’t like Penner and don’t think Boston matches the Flyers other than in net, where they have a good advantage. Wiz was a good pick up and represents good value.  Last year Moore was a second and played fewer regular season games than the Wiz.  Eller has size and obvious skills, but hasn’t put it all together.  Halak would have been a nice luxury but moving him was the right move.

    Moves are nice, but I’d like to see us win something. We are below average in the regular season under PG/JM and I am doubtful that we will return to the ECF this year.   Until we can consistently demonstrate that we are an elite NHL team, this management team doesn’t deserve a good grade.

     

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  15. BJ says:

    How serious can concussions be? This serious (its in English even though its off a french page, scroll down to the vidoe at the bottom of the page):http://www.ckac.com/football/nouvelles/vid-o-la-dure-realite-d-un-commotionne-du-foot-62684.html

  16. LA Loyalist says:

    that’s why Bob blew up the team. to improve our character and intangibles.

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  18. C_Hand says:

    I’m in Florida to watch this game! Go Habs Go!

  19. Displaced says:

    WARNING —- PG RANT FOLLOWS:

    PG has had almost 8 years to assemble a body of work drafting players and about five years developing them.  We should be reaping the fruits of his genius right now.  We’re not.

    As President and GM of Anaheim from 1998 to 2002, he missed the playoffs 3/4 times and had less than 70 points in two seasons.  Then he leaves and they won the Cup.  Their top four scorers were acquired AFTER he left.  Their Norris trophy D (Neidermeyer) and playoff MVP goalie (JSG) were drafted BEFORE he arrived. 

    He has a pretty miserable body of work, so we hired him to head scouting in 2003. After doing nothing there, we PROMOTE him to run development and make him Assistant GM in 2005.  Again, nothing evidenced by blowing up the entire team. 

    So, again, remarkably, inexplicably, and ineffably we PROMOTE him to run the whole show. WTF???

    Forget Arpon’s passing grade, how is he still employed in the NHL? Does he have pictures of hockey owners with farm animals?

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  20. The Teacher says:

    I understand what you are saying but try to look at it this way. When Gainey started the Habs were in the same shape as the Leafs were right after JFJ.

     

    We also lost Markov and Gorges this year. I think with those two we are definite contenders. It is hard to fault the GM and coach when circumstances beyond their control occurs…..I agrre it sucks not winning for almost 20 years, and I was there watching the parade last time…….but we can’t change overnight.

     

    For all the talk of Boton and Philly, when was the last time they won the Cup?  I dont think they will win this year either!

  21. Displaced says:

    Amen brother.  Yesterday, I said the teams suck and only the ones with superior goaltending have a shot.  I got torched.

    leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  22. ed lopaz says:

    there are days like that around here.

    your posts are excellent, so don’t get discouraged.

    when Subban got benched for 3 games, I almost lost it – ha! ha!

    I came on here and was torched as well.

    how dare I take the position defending Subban (a rookie!) against THE COACH.

    Of course he deserved to be benched, they argued.

    Martin came on TV and announced that Hamrlik and Spacek were his #1 d-pair.

    I went nuts!

    But still the fans here at HIO refused to be tough on the coach.

    Its almost like they are writing their posts from inside the dressing room.

    They’ve been schooled not to be critical – to do what the coach tells you – and be ready whenever the team needs you.

    I used to say, I love Canada, but that doesn’t mean I have to Love Harper, does it??

    That didn’t go over very well either.

    In any event, the team is in 6th, which means we will get another shot in the playoffs.

    I hope for the best.

  23. MikeMcLaren says:

    So Boone, it looks like your naming convention has finally caught on with the headline writers at TSN.ca!

    DOCTORS CLEAR DEVILS F PARISE TO RESUME SKATING

    As humorist Dave Barry is wont to say, I am not making this up.

    /\\ike
    GO HABS GO!

  24. Displaced says:

    You’re right that BG started the turnaround.  From the ’94 strike through 2002, we had one 90-point season and missed the playoffs four times.  BG’s teams never had fewer than 90 points, until JM’s first season (88).  And, since ’93 Boston has been a turd.

    But check out the Flyers, since we won the Cup in ’93, they have been to the Finals twice (1996 and 2009) and have been to the conference finals four times (94, 99, 03 and 07).  Other than the strike shortened 94 season, they have been above 93 points in all but one year.  Realistically, winning a Cup is a huge long shot.  I’d like to see us be in the mix consistently.  Philly has done that.  I’d trade for their record in heartbeat.  

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  25. HabFanSince72 says:

    And you have idiots like …

    Brian Burke: “This year it’s head injuries, next year it’ll be shoulder injuries.

    Mike Milbury: “Oh come on, I’ve had both knees replaced. You pay the price.”

  26. BJ says:

    Milbury sounds as if he was born concussed. As for Burke??? Its serious stuff and at some point will have to be taken more seriously. I don’t know if at some point players will have to wear football type helmets or ease of on the hitting. I’m not sure if there is a solution other than players policing themselves or a hell of a suspension.

  27. HabFanSince72 says:

    Agreed. I’m guessing Arpon reads H I/O because his article could be addressed to the commentariat, or at least a section of it.

    We have to remember that GM’s are very limited in what they can do. In the cap era big trades simply don’t happen, especially mid-season. The biggest trade of the deadline involved Dustin Penner – not a future member of the HOF.

    The Habs had a decent team in the playoffs and at the start of the season when they were consistently at the top of the standings. Then we hit trouble: injuries, Gomez and Cammi slumping, etc … Gauthier did what he could to fix the leaks. He didn’t go out and get Jonathan Toews or Sidney Crosby though, I’ll grant that.

     

     

     

  28. derfab says:

    Habs need to hang on for the duration, rest Pleks, small guys and Hammer when possible. The key players have have shown that they know how to put aside personal interests and up their game for the playoffs. They are an average team that, because of the intelligence they displayed last year, will get stronger teams off their game.

  29. HalifaxHabs says:

    I gotta say, I feel good about the Habs chances of getting a 2nd win in a row on the road tonight. Carey looked great Tuesday, and I gotta believe the veterans will bring a better effort after Tuesday’s lackluster showing.

    It would be great for their confidence to head into Saturday night against the Bolts riding 2 wins on the road. I know we have a tough time with Florida sometimes(inexplicably), but since they’ve dumped half their roster, there’s no excuse for not winning tonight.

  30. Displaced says:

    Remarkably refreshing and rational thoughts. I love hanging around this place because of the rabid fans, but dialing it down a little on occasion would be nice.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  31. joeybarrie says:

    You know its funny. The article basically said two things that are particularly important for your post. JM plays around his best asset, and his system works.

    WHY????

    System works, cause we are in 6th place. Many thought we would be out of the playoffs WITH Gorges, and Markov. System works, cause we went 3 round in the playoffs.

    Secondly your point about the shots against… Just so you know, our shots against last season and this season are LESS than they were the 3 years previous to JM coming to the team…

    Lastly, he is not saying Trotz is a better coach. Just a different one. And honestly, if you do not know that you can’t simply put the 30 NHL coaches on paper and simply rank them easily from best to worst then I do not know what to tell you. The grass is ALWAYS greener. And I guess your SUPER coach is on vacation, cause SK has 1 point in the last 7 games…Maybe he needs ANOTHER change of scenery in order to make the bus.

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

  32. LA Loyalist says:

    You make a good point. If we blow the next Canadian team, it will be a dark day before we ever get another.

    As for Leafs, and this is true going back many years, many of the seats are corporate and remain empty. When we had seasons tickets when I was a kid, you never say the same people every game, it was always different.

    Watch the good seats in the first period at MLG next time a game is on. Unless it’s a major team in town, they are empty well through the first. They are paid for, but empty. And the irony is you can’t get tickets, except maybe from a scalper.

    We need to be careful.

  33. LA Loyalist says:

    This year the naming convention is in vegas, right after the draft.

  34. J_P says:

    I have a few issues with some of his points:

    -An 82-66-17 record as a coach is basically an 82-83 record, which is a losing record.  Considering the talent, and the fact the habs spend to the cap, it isnt exactly impressive.  Nashville has only 2 less points than us and phoenix has one more point than us.  Both those teams not only play in the tougher western conference, but both have $9 million less in payroll than the habs.

    -Carey price and halak had very different win/loss records last year, with the same team and same system in front of them.  Therefore, to say that the team makes the goalies look better is hogwash.  Considering how tight most of our wins are, if Carey gives up a weak goal per game, especially if its early, we suddenly have far more losses.  Carey Price is a top-notch goaltender.  He’s won in junior, and he’s won in the ahl, with MVP accolades in both.  To say that his stellar play is a product of the team in front of him is an insult. 

    -To suggest that Carey Price doesnt make highlight reel saves is ridiculous.  Does he even watch the games? Just because the goalie makes it look easy, doesnt make it an easy save. 

    -He gives Martin credit for his teams record considering Cammalleri, Gomez, Gionta, and Pleks are all underperforming (or at least not performing to even last seasons standards).  I dont think that to be a compliment, I think its a knock.  These players are being paid hefty salaries to perform, and they aren’t.  It’s a coaches job to get the most out of his players.  Pleks and Gionta have indeed been good, but they havent been consistently good.  Gomez has been downright awful, and Cammalleri doesn’t look like he’s buying whatever JM is selling.  They both look unhappy.   

    I appreciate Arpon’s effort, but there’s plenty of holes in his arguments. 

  35. notbigbird says:

    Seems to me that the further south we go, the worse we get. I stand to be corrected, but I don’t think we have a very good record in Florida.

  36. HalifaxHabs says:

    I completely agree…. getting blown out by the Oilers then beating the Canucks being the perfect example.

    Hmm how can we take a posiitive from that… well at least in the Playoffs we won’t be playing any teams lower than us in the standings, LOL.

    I can’t even begin to explain the lackluster efforts, but I have to say, the JM’s job to prevent that, and he’s not doing that part of the job very well.

  37. joeybarrie says:

    The only thing I will say to this is put Gorges and Markov in our lineup and have Gomez have a great season and we would be competing for the Cup.

    Honestly, how much better do you need to be for people to be happy? In the last 5 years we came in 1st in the East and then went to the Conf Finals.

    I understand that winning the Cup is the ONLY measure in Montreal, but I have to say those two accomplishments is pretty damn close. Who is reaping the fruits??? You understand there are other teams out there and if you give ONE GM 5-8 years it does not mean he can absolutely win the Cup. Its just not possible. But MOST teams don’t make the playoffs every season but one, with the East and get to the Conf Finals all in the span of 5 years with two very different teams and two different coaches.

    Top 4 in the NHL last season, and 2nd in the NHL Reg Season a few years prior… NOT BAD…. Thats pretty fruitful. We have to stop assuming the Habs can win every season just cause they are the Habs. There are 30 teams now, not 6…

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

  38. Mark C says:

    You should do the math LA, instead of cherry picking ONE game to compare Martin too.

    Fact: Montreal allows 30.5 shots per game, good for 17th in the league, without Markov and Gorges this stat is dropping.

    Fact: Not one NHL team averages less than 25 shots allowed per game. Are you really going to blame Martin because his team isn’t 20% to 40% better at not allowing shots than any team in the league?

    Fact: Montreal has improved their shot differential from last year to this year by 5.7 shots per game; Montreal has outshot their opponents by 2.2 shots game this season.

     Fact: Montreal has only given up 40 or more shots 4 times this season.

  39. HalifaxHabs says:

    you’re right we don’t… but tonight is the perfect opportunity the get started on bucking that trend. I know it’s not the most important game standings wise… but I feel it’s very important that the Habs get a convincing win tonight, in order to feel like they are going in the right direction.

    Let’s face it, Florida is joke right now, they sold most of their team at the deadline(and I don’t blame them for doing that) no excuses tonight boys!!!!

    Preditiction

    Habs – 4

    Panthers -2

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  41. notbigbird says:

    Three years ago, many on this site thought we had a top-flite team. It was based on the previous years run bolstered by the additions of Tangauy and Laraque. For whatever reason, that team imploded. The GM/GMs must take responsibility, but that doesn’t exactly make them at fault. There is a difference.

    I think most are agreed that that team had to be re-made. I think the GM/GMs did that with the goal of icing a competitve team as soon as possible with what talent they could readily find on the market.

    We have that competitve team.

    Now the tweaking must begin in the next few years. So far, I see PG is good at minor tweaks. We’ll have to see whether he can make more important ones over time. (I know by definition tweatks are all minor, but I think you take my point.)

    From his staement the other day it would appear that he knows changes must be made, so that is good. I think most of us can agree that he was somewhat hamstrung by the necessity or replacing the injured this time around. We all get anxious for more, but I think the next few years will tell the story.

    Addendum: I think the additions of the summr of ’09, including JM, were meant to stabilize the franchise. It appears that goal has been met, so it’s time to set loftier goals. In the same vein, I think this year was largely about figuring out whether Carey was going to be The Man or not. Another test passed.

  42. Bash says:

    Piggy deserved a better fate…

     

    “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” (anon)

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  44. notbigbird says:

    The fact that we’re having good discussions proves how good Mr Basu is at what he does. Agree or disagree: he usually makes a good case for the point that he’s making. He’s my preferred read these days.

  45. t1tan5 says:

    Compared to this point last year, we have improved. I’m not saying that PG and JM should get an A+ for their work, but we are an above average team that could take the next step next year with so much salary coming off the books. How we do in the playoffs remains to be seen, but you cannot draw a comparison between this year’s team and last year’s based on last year’s playoff run since this year’s playoff run has not yet been completed. We need a consistent basis for comparison. At 64 games last year, the Habs had 66 pts (30-28-6). We are 9 pts ahead of the pace with 4 more wins. Based on this comparison, we are in fact better than last year and JM and PG deserve credit for this. Add to that the fact that we have accomplished this without Markov, Gorges, Spacek, and Cammalleri for extended periods of time throughout the season and we can see that PG and JM are performing quite admirably.

  46. HabFarmer says:

    I think we’re ignoring the point that one dark night several years ago Mr. Lemaire was visited by a gentleman named Louis Cyphre, offering up a business deal……… .

     

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

  47. joeybarrie says:

    How anyone can GET A POINT in a game that put them higher in the standings can consider that a LOSS I have absolutely no idea. 2 ties equals a win, doesnt equal 2 losses…

    JM’s record is exactly what it is 82 wins – 66 loses and 17 ties.

    Detroit???? Same time frame, 88 wins….. Stanley Cup winning Pitts????  91 wins…….

    Less than 10 over JM.

    Honeslty. 5 wins a season from two Stanley Cup winning teams, and JM is doing a terrible job, but Det and Pitts are SO MUCH HIGHER.

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

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  50. cautiousoptimist says:

    Totally agree with you.  The Cup is not the only measure of success, and we simply cannot blame the GM for the fact that the team lost in the conference final last year, or that the team that won the East a couple of years back crapped the bed in the playoffs.  Like you said, a good GM takes responsibility for his team’s actions — but that doesn’t make them his fault.  Fact is, he and Gainey have for two or three years out of the last five, put together a team that looked at various points like a contender.  A couple less injuries to vital core players, a different draw in the playoffs (if Boston beats Philly instead of blowing a 3-0 series lead, say), and we might be making bronze statues of the guy.

  51. Mattyleg says:

    Bep.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  52. Wayne says:

    RE: Capgeek.

     

    You can paint me stunned as I see Gorges only makes a little over a million bucks a season. I thought he made more than that… for some reason. Well, the reason could be exactly this; he plays above his value, especially to the Habs. My opinion is, however damaged he is, we should sign him because this guy plays smart. There’s always a 50/50 chance that, after the surgery and physio, he’ll be as good as he was. Even if he ends up being 70-80%, he would still be worth signing because he still has tremendous value as a leader and, he’s a lion heart.

  53. Displaced says:

    That’s fair.  We have a mixed track record.  Average to below average regular seasons with one unexpectedly good playoff.  The situation is incomplete.  If we have another good playoff run, there would be evidence we are building something from a good foundation. If not, or if we hadn’t knocked out two top teams last season, people here would be miserable at PG’s Montreal performance to date.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  54. Displaced says:

    I don’t expect a Cup every season, although it would be nice.  I would like to have a reasonable belief that we are among the elite.  Yes, we were second overall a few seasons ago.  That had no playoff success and we blew it up.  Yes, we finished among the top four in the playoff last year but we have sandwiched that accomplishment with middle of the pack regular season performances.  Again, it’s hard to hang your hat on a foundation of consistent success.  If we go far this year, we can make the case that we built a playoff team.  If we don’t (as I fear), we will be exposed as middle of the pack team that over achieved in the last playoffs.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to e get a dry martini around here?

  55. Displaced says:

    Getting a point is not a loss, but the math is similar to factoring OTLs into the league’s overall winning percentage.  OTLs exist to inflate stats.  The average team now plays .560 hockey and gets 92-94 points.  Our point percentage is below average and JM’s career numbers are sub-par too.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  56. notbigbird says:

    Right. No excuse.

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  58. G-Man says:

    Canada should have 10 NHL franchises- the Americans maybe 14. The quality in players making the NHL would go up. However, because of the NHLPA and those payments Canadian franchises make to the ownership of teams where the interest in hockey is behind highschool swimming, it will never happen.

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  59. Timo says:

    While I enjoy Basu’s column, I completely disagree with his giving PG and JM a passing grade. Both have failed. The idea is to improve. This team is hadrly an improvement from the last years crew, which is to say that we will go as far in playoffs as Price takes us or/and until we play Philly. (I still think we’ll beat Boston)

    What happens if Price gets injured? What is Martin going to do then? I’ll tell you what – watch his team getting blown by 3 or more goals every game. Average and above average talent? Gimme a break – unless talent equals salary, then of course. Gomez a talent? Haha… Sure we have talented guys like PK, Pleks and on some nights Cammilleri (however he’s been progressing towards Gomez category thorughout the season). Max Pac maybe. Price absolutely. BUt that’s about it.

    I was mesmorized to see Atlanta players skate circles around Sopel, Gill and Hammer on tuesday. It was truly a great thing to watch. What finess.

    Anyway… If the goal is to be the perennial middle of the pack team squeaking into playoffs year after year then sure… both PG and JM are fantastic to achieve that. Personally, I would like to see this team win a cup. But that’s just me. Maybe I am just behind times.

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  61. Wayne says:

    Fact: Montreal has improved their shot differential from last year to this year by 5.7 shots per game; Montreal has outshot their opponents by 2.2 shots game this season.

     

    What is the goal differential as a result? Not butting in here, just curious. If it’s lower or on par from last year, one would suggest the quality of shots are an important variable. If we have scored more goals at this point as a result, it would stand to reason. What I’ve noticed all season long is many shots were ineffectively taken from the point or perimeter and frankly, may only be padding that stat. It appears, maybe, that JM’s defensive system discourages forwards from setting up in front of a goalie (most of the time) because the player is deep and can’t get back to defend. Yes, Iv’e seen Patches and Halpern do this but, as a rule, I don’t see it consistently.

  62. JoeC says:

    Why are the people that dont agree with him irrational?  Assuming that this is as good as the team can ever be regardless of coach is his point and is very close minded.  If JM was the best coach out there then i get what he means by playing there strength but im not sold that this team is this terrible offensivly.  As a defensive team they are not that good, i dont understand why people think that JM amazing game plan is the reason they are where they are.  Plus the amount of undisiplined penalties game in and game out is a coaching problem, no one else to blame.

  63. sholi2000.com says:

    And if the new Winnipeg team has a losing season, will the fans support them?  My nights in the old arena are not pleasant nights.  4000-8000 fans, all wondering where on earth are the fans.

    If they ever get a team back they better appreciate them win or lose….just like we Montreal fans, and yes the dirty Leaf fans.  They may suck, but their fans are loyal……loyal losers! (had to add that in) hehe.

     

    They Call Me Shane

  64. Displaced says:

    Obvously, I’m missing something.  You’re the second person that thought it was awesome.  Please, I’m being serious, explain it to me.

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

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  66. PrimeTime says:

    +1 article by Arpon Basu. I hope everyone reads it with an open mind. Sadly, the irrational fans who think the Habs should never lose still will argue with the more objective fans.

  67. sholi2000.com says:

    My favourite Price saves this year were against Crosby.  He stoned him three times in one game.

    In fact Price had three of the top five saves for the month of Oct (maybe Nov), but whos counting, we all knew he was great.

     

    They Call Me Shane

  68. Displaced says:

    You have to appreciate Arpon’s contribution to the Hab dialog.  He makes a genuine effort to find new interesting facts.  Sadly, that’s where you have to stop reading his articles.  Her presents stats without context and draws conclusions that contradict his own statements. 

     

    Here are some examples from today’s story, starting with the most obvious and egregious, “Let me ask you this: how often do you see Price make a post-to-post save? Or one that’s even worthy of the highlight reels? Hardly ever. … But he’s rarely called upon to make spectacular saves.”  Has this beat writer even watched a game?  A Price save is normally the highlight of the night and he routinely makes spectacular saves that are replayed repeatedly during games. 

     

    This of course, calls into question, his defense of JM’s “system”.  First he defines the system, in two parts.  Part 1: “his [JM's] conservative system… preaches defence first is destructive and doesn’t work unless his goalie is spectacular.” And, part 2: “the Canadiens went out and provided a carbon copy of the winning formula it used in the playoffs last season – namely to get a lead and hold on for dear life.“.  Then he comes to this remarkably spurious conclusion, “I just find it somewhat ludicrous that people can continue saying that Halak single-handedly created that magical playoff run” and compounds it with “…and that Price is the lone reason the Canadiens find themselves where they are in the standings today without identifying what seems to me to be a blatantly obvious common element between the two”.  Wow.  How does anyone justify this comment on the heels of his definition and example? 

     

    Then we get the usual assortment of Arpon-Stats. 

    Stats presented that don’t enter into the conclusion. For instance, all our goal scorers are scoring at lower rates than the first year JM had them, which was below their career numbers in all but one case.  Remember, this was the coach who empathetically stated his teams (Ottawa, not St. Louis or Florida) scored among the best in the NHL. 

    We also get stats without context, JM’s overall record is 549.  The average team in the NHL during that span has a 0.560 winning percentage.  Without Markov, we are even less impressive, 50-46-10 (.519).  Yee haw. 

    Arpon gives PG a passing grade for architecting this sub-par team.  Largely on the strength of choosing Price over Halak (very good decision) and trading picks for three defensemen, the best of whom we could lose to free agency.   Beyond that Arpon decided we lost the Laps deal, overlooks the failure to retain D-depth (OB) knowing Markov is returning with wonky knees, giving away SK, and noting that PG may not have canvassed the market when making his biggest deal to date – trading Jaro to the Blues. 

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  69. mrhabby says:

    given the various circumstances the team has had to deal with, the type of players the habs have, the drafting, development thats been going on, the direction..i say he is not to far off the mark. Not saying i fully agree with apron but giving the cards that have been dealt… it is what it is…sadly.

  70. G-Man says:

    Arpon is an amateur. I have read him a number of times and you can tell there is no editor looking over his work and saying, “WTF is this? It’s a mess.”

  71. The Cat says:

    I think Price doesnt often make spectacular-looking saves on account that hes pretty big. hes not a scrambler like halak, hasek or thomas, hes more of a assume the butterfly position and play the percentages type of goaltending.

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

  72. The Cat says:

    The league needs to relocate 3 suffering franchises to Canada and contract the other ones. Theres too many teams and too many bad players in the NHL.

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

  73. The Cat says:

    Florida had a ‘make your offer’ on season tickets! Way to make the buyer feel like hes a part of a hot commodity lol

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

  74. sholi2000.com says:

    I like St Louis’ deal this year.  Only pay half for your season tickets, and half when they make the playoffs.

    Phoenix has a good one going now.  Buy four seats, get four free lol.

    They Call Me Shane

  75. puck face says:

    i agree with Apron.

  76. The Cat says:

    Other than Chicago, tickets are pretty cheap. In TB last year, you could get 4 good tix, 4 hotdogs, your parking spot and 4 beverages for 45$.

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

  77. adam76 says:

    While atlanta may never bounce back – citys like Chicago, Carolina and Tampa Bay ar eputting up solid numbers.  Not every franchise that struggles at the gate should be eliminated or moved.

  78. CharlottetownHabbies says:

    Fitting how many here view the outside world’s view of Price as pretty low, that link in praise of him is dead…..

  79. Displaced says:

    They are, but PG’s had almost 8 years to assemble a body of work of in drafting and about five years in development.  This is the time we should be reaping the benefit of his work.  We’re not. 

    In fact, it’s remarkable that he was promoted from Director of Scouting to head development after three mediocre years in scouting; and then promoted to GM after four years without demonstrable success as Assistant GM.  In most organizations, a person would have to show some success before being promoted.  Not here.

    The Ducks were awful from 1998-2002 when he ran the team, missing the playoffs 3/4 times and getting less than 70 points in two seasons.  After he left, they won the Cup.  All their top 4 scorers were acquired AFTER he left.  And, their top D (Neidermeyer) and playoff MVP goalie (JSG) were drafted BEFORE he arrived.  He has a pretty miserable body of work.

    How did he get this job again?  How did Arpon give him a passing grade?  Does he have pictures of hockey owners with farm animals?

    Whose leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  80. mrhabby says:

    lol..animals. i don’t disagree with what you said. i guess i take the middle of the road approach that being it is what is and move forward with what the canadiens have.

    i was really hoping for change when Molson bought the team and really wanted fresh faces re: Yzerman but he went for the safe approach so like i said it what it is….not my money.

  81. mrhabby says:

    drafting and development are a crapshoot. always has been, always will be.could he have done better yes but most teams fall into this category.

    i would like to see the team less dependent on price. it reminds me of the days when roy was keeper. not alot of talent up front but  the team riding his coat tails many games.

    surely things could be better with markov/gorges playing.

  82. ed lopaz says:

    The Habs have known about Gorges knee injury since his first medical exam – the first day he caem to training camp – and probably even before that.

    They had to know or Gorges would have been signing his contract under false pretense.

    Habs hockey is “smart” hockey – we play 5 man defence, not just 2 – we move up the ice as a 5 man unit, we back check with 5.

  83. Displaced says:

    Circumstances? 

    PG was directly responsible for our drafting and player development for most of the past decade.  His efforts should be here now and playing at their peak levels.

    We lost Markov an older player with a recent history of major knee problems, we lost Gorges but PG probably knew about the knee problems for a while (which makes trading OB a head-scratcher) and Cammi for about a month.  That’s not too far off the norm, nor unexpected. 

    We also have uber-wealthy owners who don’t limit spending on players and seem to let a GM run the team the way he wants to.  Ask Dale Tallon if he would like those circumstances…  We have fans that support the team rabidly.  Ask players in Atlanta if their circumstances are better…

    We have been dealt surprisingly good cards but don’t win enough hands.

    leg do I have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

  84. JustSomeguy says:

    Howdy folks,

    Another link for today: Bob Probert’s brain showed the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (i.e., what football players get from multiple concussions). One of the symptoms of the disease is poor impulse control … and Probert certainly did have his share of run-ins with law enforcement and sustance abuse problems.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/sports/hockey/03fighter.html?_r=1&hp

    And a slide show, also from the NYT:

    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/02/28/sports/SPTSHOCKEY0228.html

    And one more from the NYT, an interview with Donald Brashear:

    http://slapshot.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/brashear-on-hockey-fighting-and-his-lost-rangers-season/?ref=hockey

    For my part, I’ve always liked watching a good hockey fight, but I’m feeling increasingly queasy that these guys are risking their health for our entertainment. And the side effects from repeated concussions are nasty (short term memory less, sensitivity to bright light, living with headache every single moment of your life, poor impulse control). We aren’t living in Imperial Rome, and hockey players aren’t gladiators. The league has to protect its players better before we lose even more big names to concussions.

  85. J.J. of Turku says:

    Brilliant, Mr Hickey:

    “Sadly, the NHL hasn’t reached the point where it sees the value of having 30 healthy franchises rather than a series of weak links. They seem determined to hang on until it’s Phoenix’s turn for a Winter Classic.”

  86. The Cat says:

    Doesnt Atlanta owners want to relocate though? I thought I heard that somewhere.

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

  87. The Teacher says:

    The Price link does not work….

  88. TommyB says:

    Can’t say I agree with your statement that “we all knew he was great”.  Some of us believed he was a very good goaltender who had the potential to be great.  Count me as one of those.  I feel Price’s best is yet to come, provided that some day he has some goal support up front.  Otherwise he could wear down rather quickly.  But that’s out of his hands.

    Where your statement goes wrong, is from what I recall, that many (most?) Habs fans were crapping all over the kid for the last two years.  They provided stats, they provided their own great insight into Price’s psyche, they declared that he was a party animal more intent on boozing and hanging out with the late crowd.  They knew it all……….didn’t they.

    In the end, Habs management made the decision to stick with Price and let Halak go.  Halak, just as good, and with just as much potential.  One might argue that the Habs made the right choice, and point to Halak’s “struggles” in St. Louis this year.  I don’t think that would be fair to Halak.  He is still a very good goaltender, but the hype that preceded his arrival in St. Louis may have put him in an impossible situation, at least for this year.  I think he’ll settle in and be a steady netminder for the Blues for the next few years.  Price on the other hand, has been plunked into the role of saviour in Montreal.  One not so unfamiliar to Halak.  Carey Price is playing lights out most nights, and has reclaimed a place in the hearts of Habs fans.  I think the difference between the two goalies is a very slim margin, but in the case of the Habs, I think they made the right decision in keeping Price.  Now if they could just build a team around him, instead of relying solely on his performance, we just might have something for the next half dozen years.


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