Wiz returns, Martin tweaks lines

AUDIO: Brian Gionta | Hal Gill | Jacques Martin (barely audible) | Jeff Halpern | P.K. Subban

Defenceman James Wisniewski returned to practice today after missing two games with the flu. He’s expected to face the Bruins tomorrow night in Boston.

Jacques Martin, who juggled his lines for the last two periods Sunday against the Devils, returned to a more familiar lineup. There are some changes on the bottom two lines. Jeff Halpern is between Benoit Pouliot and Travis Moen in what shapes up a checking line. David Desharnais is between Tom Pyatt and Mathieu Darche on a line which didn’t see much ice time against Jersey and probably won’t see much more action in Boston.

The top line has Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta while Scott Gomez is with Andrei Kostitsyn and Lars Eller.
Michael Cammalleri is still out with a separated shoulder. He didn’t skate with the team and will not accompany the team to Boston.

Defence pairings are Hal Gill-P.K. Subban, Roman Hamrlik-Wiz and Jaro Spacek-Yannick Weber, with Alexandre Picard as extra Dman.

The Bruins had a casualty at practice this morning. A shot hit Patrice Bergeron in the chin and he was taken to hospital for stitches.

156 Comments

  1. oshawahabsfan says:

    Ah yes, I forgot about that one! I thought of that once Desharnais was called up, They worked so well in Hamilton, why not give them a shot on the PP up here?

  2. HabFanSince72 says:

    The Pens are in the market for a centre with Malkin and Crosby injured.

    What would it take to get them to take Scott G. off our hands?

     

  3. ds says:

    A win tomorrow will be huge.  Last time we played Boston, there was that late third period comeback, let’s blow them out this time.

     

    Regarding D.D., has there ever been a shortie center 5’7 in the NHL?  Martin St. Louis & Theo Fleury were shorty RWs with great careers, why not try to convert him to a playmaking winger.  At center there are many responsibilities that are difficult for shorter players.

     

    Second of all A. Kost has played well of late, saw him back check, made some nice runs, hopefully a friendly competition with Max Pac will develop between these two causing them to become better.

     

    Wiz is back and that will have a huge impact.  Another defenseman with a hard shot from the point. 

     

    Breaking up Darche & Pouillot?  Doesn’t seem like a smart idea IMO. 

     

    Personally I’d go

    Pac-Plex-Gio

    Pouillot-Gomez-Darche

    Moen-Halpern-A.Kost

    Pyatt-Eller-DD

  4. HardHabits says:

    Interesting what if. If the Habs had 2 extra wins than losses they’d be 3rd over-all in the Eastern Conference. 3 more wins than losses and they’d be 2nd in the East. 6 extra wins and it’d be 1st. 3 extra losses and the Habs would still be in the play-off picture, 6 more losses and they’d be where they’ve too often been at this time of the year, in 10th place and outside looking in, fighting for that last play-off spot.

    As people have said. Baby Steps.

  5. arcosenate says:

    $17.5 million?

  6. DearyLeary says:

    An act of God.

  7. shiram says:

    Dc 35 on a persuasion check.

  8. TomNickle says:

    Like so many others you seem to want him gone.  Do you think we can win without him?

  9. secretdragonfly says:

    Habs Alumni play for charity in Beaconsfield – here are some pics, in case this hasn’t been posted. Scroll down to the bottom for the captions. Is it just me, or does Donald Brashear still look pretty scary?

    http://westislandgazette.com/node/20413

  10. 24 Cups says:

    Dave – It’s the West that blows my mind.  Eight teams are five points apart for the last five playoff spots.  Talk about parity.

    If Montreal was in the West, they would be tied with Dallas for 3rd spot overall.

     

  11. TomNickle says:

    People continue to say that we need a solid two way defenseman and a physical scoring forward.  My opinion is that we don’t need anything more on defense, we need Wisniewski and Subban to be reliable consistently which will lower the team need to rely on Hamrlik and Spacek and their aging bodies.  I also believe that Andrei Kostitsyn and Benoit Pouliot are inconsistent physical scoring forwards.  So if we do need a physical scorer at forward what player could be added who is consistent?

    Penner and Lupul aren’t consistent.  Those are the two biggest names who get bounced around here.  

    The point I’m making is that if you can only acquire an inconsistent version of a physical scorer what’s the point when Pouliot and Kostitsyn are exactly that?

    Let the youth on the team develop and rely on them, from there, let the chips fall where they may. 

  12. Jordio-oh says:

    Cliff Ronning was 5’8. But he was about 7-10lbs lighter than DD.

    Back to back 62 points with the Preds in 99-00/00-01 at the ages of 34 and 35.

    Not too shabby.

  13. HabFanSince72 says:

    The only player we cannot win without is Price.

    Obviously if you subtract Gomez and add nothing else we are a worse team, but in the long run his cap hit is an albatross, his jokes less than amusing, and his unwillingness to fight for any puck vexing, to say the least.

     

     

  14. mbplekfan says:

    We lack size on the back end and it will be very painfully exposed in the playoffs. After Gill we dont have a large, crease clearing defender. Our defence does not punish forwards for dump ins and in a seven game series our guys would get worn down by more physical forwards.

     

  15. BJ says:

    Some of you might might remember “The Refrigerator Perry” 

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2010/news/story?id=6091766

    Wonder if Chris Higgins future is like this?

  16. Kooch7800 says:

    In my opinion, we will never win a cup with him.  He takes up too much cap room and does not deliver in regards to offense.  Does he have skill yes, does he help bring the puck up yes, but he also is lazy on back checks is the highest paid player by far and is the teams worst plus minus (not counting Wiz cause he was on the island).

    In a cap world we will never win with him as our number two centre who is putting up numbers of a third and fourth line player.

    People always say ignore his contract, that is difficult in a cap league. He has to produce or after next year when his pay drops I would buy him out.

     

  17. DearyLeary says:

    Neither Andrei or Benny have had a good enough season to warrant the faith you’re putting in them.

  18. Puck Bard says:

    Nice stuff Robert.

  19. Hobie Hansen says:

    With the play of Pacioretty improving on a daily basis and Cammalleri hopefully returning well ahead of the playoffs, I think the Habs should focus on landing a defenseman.

    Spacek can be awfully shaky and Weber seems to get overpowered. Bieksa would have been perfect but Vancouver just lost their top Dman to injury. If Montreal can land a steady defenseman to take Weber out of the lineup and bump Spacek to #6, I’m all for it. 

    The talk here in Ottawa is that Phillips will not finish the season with the Sens and will be rented out…   

    “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf” – George Orwell

  20. SeriousFan09 says:

    The Canadiens have a new exhibit in their Hall of Fame, the Captains http://bit.ly/f2cUeD

     

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

  21. Kooch7800 says:

    Wow, that is just sad.

  22. Jdub1985 says:

    This victory put the habs at a 33 – 19 – 9 record

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGEwzY1E98M&NR=1

     

  23. jimmy shaker says:

    no not saying you were numbering the lines at all…..i was just saying how I felt about the lines, saying that JM could put them out there anytime and not really be worried about limiting minutes with the balance these lines projected. Good ideas all around!
    Shaker

  24. Kooch7800 says:

    We really don’t have a physical team period. On D or forward.  If we play Philly in the playoffs we might win one game.

     

  25. PeterD says:

    I’m with you on your logic…I think if all that is available is a large inconsistent forward, then don’t make the move because we have enough inconsistency in AK and Benny right now.

    But if we could get a Knuble or Brad Richards, or a Rolston, then I think we could beef up our top 6 wiht a short term quality scorer.

    On the back end I think we need some more size to clear out the Flyers and Bruins that park them selves there…think of our last game against Philly and how easliy Carter stood in there and scored.  Or the game against the Ducks when Perry did the same thing.  I like the top 6 D-men we have now but we have zero experienced depth if we run into injuries during hte play-offs…I don’t see Picard as a top 6 d-man in the long run.

    If we could add a Chris Philips or a Robyn Rehger to our back end I would be move comfortable for the play off run.

  26. avatar_58 says:

    They are injured for ONE season and you think they’d take Gomez who has quite a few more years to go?

  27. Mr.Hazard says:

    LOL check this out from TSN:

    “We’re less than three weeks away from the most active day in the NHL and TSN gets you ready for the wheeling, dealing, shocks and surprises that is Trade Deadline Day. Host James Duthie will be joined by Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger on Countdown to TradeCentre, tonight on TSN at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt.”

    Wheeling, dealing, shocks and surprises? Trade deadline day!

  28. Kooch7800 says:

    Man Boyd now has 14 goals in 21 games with the dogs.  Good for him.

  29. LA Loyalist says:

    I agree with you, but Moore cost quite a bit more and PG was counting his pennies. We’re lucky Halpern has worked out as well as he has as he had a pretty serious injury (though of course that’s why he was inexpensive).

  30. LA Loyalist says:

    Excellent summary and analysis, thank you for your hard work.

    The most disturbing point you raise is our virtual abandonment of Russia, Sweden, Finland in terms of scouting. Yes there have been issues, but as a perennial mid-pack team we are unlikely to have really high first round picks, we have to uncover diamonds in the rough and how can we do that with such a minimal commitment to those sources?

    Look at how many of the really stud players right now are from Europe and Russia.

    If we had an announce plan i.e. Don Cherry “I’m only drafting right-handed Canadian boys from Mississauga who like TimBits(tm)” philosophy that would be one thing… but stealing a Markov, Halak, Ovechkin or a Koivu under the radar? G*d isn’t that worth some effort from Management?

    My personal feeling is we will have a clearer idea about PG after Feb 28 in terms of his approach.
    Keep up the good work.
  31. Mark C says:

    I don’t know, the Moore/Lapierre due costs $900K more and is being out produced by Halpern and Darche.

  32. The Cat says:

    I still say though that Moore and Lapierre shouldve been the 3rd line still. I certainly dont see Halpern-Darche as an upgrade on them.

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

  33. Rudy says:

    Excellent feature on PK’s first “year” on TSN http://watch.tsn.ca/nhl/#clip414618

    “Start the season with a clean equipment bag and a freah bucket of febreze!”-CharlieHodgeFan

  34. krob1000 says:

    sad to see Cammi not skating…he and Komisarek seemed to have some chemistry.

  35. PeterD says:

    Rumour …TSN to trade Duthie to CBC from Milbury and a roll of tape.

  36. PeterD says:

    LOL…Good to have shutdown forwards…these guys will do it for both teams on the ice….LOL

  37. Mark C says:

    Sorry but your selling Darche and Halpern way too short, on any night those two are good enough to be in any team’s line up.

    Look at some of Philly’s bottom-6: Blair Betts, Jody Shelly, Dan Carcillo, Darroll Powe. Do you really think any of those guys are better than Darche and Halpern? Darche has turned himself into a legit bottom-6 player, and Halpern helps a team in a lot of ways, he’s 7th in NHL faceoff %.  

     

  38. habs001 says:

    would be nice to win .not sure we score 4 goals unless there are 2 empty net goals….i believe we will win in boston and come back the next night and beat the islanders …but i have a feeling we will have to score a few goals to win sat..for some reason the leafs forwards gives us problems and their top 5 forwards in points have produced 91 goals… our top 5 forwards have produced 70 goals

  39. SeriousFan09 says:

    I’ve been writing a blow-by-blow review of Gauthier’s first year as the Habs GM and examining the organization’s 30 most significant moves since he took on the job, here’s Part 1 for those interested.

    http://bit.ly/fODk1P

     

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

  40. The Cat says:

    It appears to be the reality of todays nhl: to have most of the money on the top 2 lines and have the rest be expendable fillers.

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

  41. oshawahabsfan says:

    It’s ridiculous that Boston is ahead because of their loser points, not to mention Montreal is 3-0 against them this season. The NHL needs to make a change to this, if Boston finishes ahead of Montreal by one point from a loss, it really makes the league’s point system look pathetic

  42. oshawahabsfan says:

    Oh yeah I understood that for sure. Balance is a good thing, it’s pretty easy to shut down one line – hello Washington – but having four lines that contribute at both ends should be the goal. Martin’s going for that, I just feel a lineup like I posted would play to strengths of the players more and potentially deliver more goals, we sure as heck need them!

  43. habbs9 says:

    habs win 4-2 to the bruins tommorow night

  44. Say Ash says:

    Rask or Thomas tomorrow? Gotta be Rask, no?

  45. kempie says:

    I think it will be a dman that’s added in the next couple of weeks. I think PG is looking first for a player who will fit into his plans for next year so a pending UFA as a rental isn’t that attractive if we have to give up a lot. An RFA perhaps – Wiz is a good example, I think PG intends on keeping him. I’m relatively confident with the forwards going into the playoffs the way they are but I fear that the D will break down fairly quickly. It would be nice to land a younger version of Hamr for the future (Regehr for ex.). A scoring forward would be nice but you’d have to give up something of value to get something of value. For example, I don’t see guys like Penner & Lupul as upgrades over a guy like AK. I’m not crazy about shipping out prospects because I like what’s in the cupboard at the moment. All that being said, Capgeek claims that the Habs have $4,772,439 to burn right now, due mostly to injuries I guess, and that’s a pretty good chunk to go shopping with. Whatever move PG makes, I doubt anybody will see it coming at all. They call him the Ghost for a reason.

  46. SmartDog says:

    Good post. LMAO

    —-

    “It bothers me…there are old coaches in the league today that don’t know how to deal with these young personalities.” – Mike Peca on JM handling of PKS

  47. krob1000 says:

    that is a very sad story..for everyone involved…

  48. Hobie Hansen says:

    Ya I’d have to disagree on that one. Believe me I love Volchenkov but the contract he just signed with NJ is completely nuts. I think the Habs would be completely hard pressed to get that defensive lineup on the ice. And the three players you suggested trading for him are pretty steep.

     

    I like his style and it would be great to have him but financially it would never work, unless we didn’t resign one of the other defenseman you suggested. But like you said, it’s only a dream…

    “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf” – George Orwell

  49. fun police says:

    great new nhl commercial.  have some b list celebrity read your post in the background while cammy fips tires with a determined look on his face.  That’s gold Jerry, gold!

  50. adamkennelly says:

    I gotta believe that no one on this site (and hopefully not PG either) thinks that this set of F are good enough and properly balanced to win in the playoffs.  sorry but Darche, Pyatt, Halpern, Desharnais – on a good night, 1 of them should be in the line-up – not all 4…toss in BP and AK on nights they decide to take off and this team will have a ton of trouble scoring goals when the going gets tough and no way of pushing back.

  51. habs001 says:

    well moen and pyatt will earn their keep as not only will they shut down the opposition from scoring but they will shut down our 3rd and 4th lines from scoring

  52. habs001 says:

    we can switch the lines around but the reality is this line up will be a low scoring line up..we have had anough sample of games to see that…since it is very hard to obtain goal scorers if we add any players before the trade deadline it will probably be a checking type player with size…

  53. rob_c says:

    Weber has been playing pretty good hockey of late, Im not sure I’d have him sit over Spacek. But  thats besides the point as I’m kind of against us going after another dman unless we can do so without giving away any of our future. I’m COMPLETELY against going after another puck moving dman as next year Id like to see Wiz, Markov, and Subban, deployed on each of the 3 pairings on D (obviously hoping we resign both Wiz, and Marky). I’d also like to resign Gill and Gorges. Having Gill and Gorges play together is a pretty good shutdown pair. But I don’t you’d lose that with Gorges playing with Markov. I’d stick a defensively minded Dman with one focusing on O. In my dream world we could land a guy like Volchenkov from NJ, in that case because he’s got term, I’d give up a Carle/Kristo/Avsitn, 2nd rounder whatever it takes. Imagine we had these pairings

    Markov Volchenkov

    Subban Gill

    Wizniewski Gorges

  54. BJ says:

    Bruin’s Bergeron taken to the hospital by ambulance after getting a slapshot on the chin. Hope he’s OK but that he needs to skip tomorrows game. 

  55. The Cat says:

    They might. Pittsburgh -if well positioned- has the tendency to go for it rather than hope for next year. But the problem is we wouldnt be getting a centre in return…

     

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

  56. SmartDog says:

    Good post and good stats re. Benny and AK.  I agree about Benny 100%. AK…. if he can be resigned for 3 mil maybe.. but at $3.5 he was being paid partly for potential that he hasn’t reached.    I’m guessing he won’t stay, for better or worse.  I hope he stays but…

    “It bothers me…there are old coaches in the league today that don’t know how to deal with these young personalities.” – Mike Peca on JM handling of PKS

  57. solomio says:

    Wow. Just read about the lines JM is trying out.

    Jeez is the guy out of his mind? He’s diluted any scoring punch that he didn’t have !!!

    These are really bad

    Glad yo see that you guys are all over it

    Jeff Halpern is between Benoit Pouliot and Travis Moen in what shapes up a checking line. David Desharnais is between Tom Pyatt and Mathieu Darche

  58. fbkj says:

    good stuff, way to school leclerc’s breakdown 😛

  59. punkster says:

    Good work Robert!

    ***Subbang!!!***

  60. HardHabits says:

    Nothing was more exciting than watching Dregger and McKenzie watch the clock tick as nothing happened on who get’s to sign KovyII day.

  61. SeriousFan09 says:

    Thanks, Part 2 should be tommorow, final revisions currently ongoing as I work on Part 3.

     

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

  62. HardHabits says:

    Aaaargh, another cliff hanger. When are the follow ups?

    Good stuff BTW. An excellent read!!!!

  63. punkster says:

    Hmmm, agree with your premise that the players we need are already in the system but not sure that playing Pouliot and AK more is the solution just yet. Neither seem to have their heads in the game at all times, not that some of our other players do either at times, it’s just that these two tend to be streaky in that regard. Good talent for sure but talent in need of more development. Playing more minutes alone isn’t the only answer but maybe more coaching first?

    On that note, it must be tough to have so many rookies on the squad needing coaching attention (and naturally so) then discover you have a couple of relatively experienced players in need of special coaching as well. I’m sure most teams face this challenge. I hope the Habs can work through it because it would be a shame to see AK and Pouliot perform in the same streaky manner in the playoffs even with additional minutes.

    ***Subbang!!!***

  64. oshawahabsfan says:

    Exactly! We all know about Martin and his urges however…

  65. PeterD says:

    Excellent stuff Robert…I look forward to parts 2 and 3.
    I think you may have made an error in the Tampa Bay win stat…”Boucher has his team playing an aggressive up-tempo game that is all-offence and has led to an impressive record of 3-16-5″.

  66. SeriousFan09 says:

    As I will address in Part 2, the Canadiens did hire Christer Rockstrom to take over European Scouting for the Canadiens. His previous body of work includes the last two decades as a scout and later, Head of European Scouting for the NYR and had a five-year stint before that with the Detroit Red Wings in 84-89 (he was on the job when they selected Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom and Vladimir Konstantinov). What influence he will have on the effects of European scouting are yet to be seen, it could take 5 years or more to really understand what this whole scouting department makeover did for the Canadiens.

     

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

  67. Mark C says:

    Halpren’s injury was at the 2008 Worlds, he’s played in two NHL seasons since then. It had nothing to do with luck, PG knew what he was getting.  

  68. Bill says:

    What if I put it like this: one more solid forward of the type likely to be available – an Umberger or a Weiss – is not going to be enough of an upgrade to really improve the Habs offense, so they’ll have to win with goaltending and D.

    Give Pouliot and AK consistent top-line minutes and power-play time and see what happens. Meanwhile, target a good D-man for a deadline deal and strengthen that aspect of the game.

    Kostitsyn – Plekanec – Cammalleri (18:00)

    Pouliot – Gomez – Gionta (18:00)

    Pacioretty – Desharnais – Eller (14:00)

    Moen – Halpern – Darche (10:00)

    Hamrlik – Wisniewski

    Gill – Subban

    Weber – Spacek

     

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  69. punkster says:

    Better. I do agree that we have what we need (AK and Pouliot) but maybe it’s just the method of getting them inserted into the top 6 that I’m uncertain about. It’s Feb 8 and they have 2 months (and 28 games) to ramp up. Just saying “get out there on the top line and work” won’t guarantee success. The team doesn’t have the luxury of time, as they did in October, to let these guys work it out for themselves. It will take a joint effort from their coaches and line mates as well as the players themselves to get these two guys slotted in and clicking.

    ***Subbang!!!***

  70. billylove says:

    Sharks are taking it to the Caps. OV and Caps being outhit, outskated, outshot – looks there playing a man short. Couture will get the game winner, I think he now leads the NHL in that category. Not bad for a rookie. Sharks are beating everyone right now.

  71. solomio says:

    Time to worry ?

     

    Toronto is 12th in the East, but the deficit behind eighth-place Carolina is down to eight points with 28 games remaining.


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