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Monday, March 11, 2013

BIGGER! STRONGER! FASTER!!!

We can rebuild it... we have the technology...

HABS FAN IN LEAFLAND has OFFICIALLY MOVED!! New blog! Whoopee!!

Continue the fun, the good times and all things Habs at:

HABSFANINLEAFLAND.COM

Bookmark it. Share it. I don't care what you do just get down there!!

"Look Maw.. they got there a ding-darn Habs blog now":

HabsFanInLeafLand.com

Hey if Guy Lafleur, Peter Mahovlich and Jacques Lemaire can get into this blog, so can you. PS: These three former Habs greats do not officially endorse this blog. But they do like to hug each other.



It's Hab-errific, Habs-tastic, and Habs-tacular!!

Come up with your own Habs pun. Everyone is a winner!!

Stick tap to Brian and Tom at Uniseo Inc. for their outstanding work in getting it done just in time for the Habs to sweep their 2 game sojourn in the Sunshine state.

Ahh, I could use some sunshine, but at least I got me a great blog!!

We're going to the big leagues folks; got the call up today... and I owe it all to you. But don't expect any money.

Don't forget to follow me on that thing they call the twitter: @habsfanleafland

PS: This is the last time I will be posting here.
I know it's sad, but just go to HABSFANINLEAFLAND.COM and you'll feel much, much better.

Buh-bye.


Friday, March 8, 2013

CP Rides High In 'Cane Country

Carey Price makes 42 saves in leading the Canadiens to a 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes
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So what was it that I was saying?

Last post, that game against the New York Islanders!?

Oh yeah, about Carey. Carey Price. You know!? The young star goalie of the Montreal Canadiens. Right.

Carey Price made 42 saves on the night helping the Habs beat the Canes 4-2. AP

And what was it that I was asking him for?

To steal a game? Actually, to stand on his head and win the Habs a game.

Well I don't know if CP reads this blog but if he does, the message was received loud and clear as last night the Canadiens might have played one of their worst games of the season in Raleigh yet still managed to get out of there with the two points.

Price made 21 saves in the second period alone which was a completely one-way affair, the Canes coming at the Canadiens like a dog on a bone.

Actually the Habs started this game strong, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Prust and Gorges -- who seemed to be channeling Andrei Markov on this night.
In Prust we trust? Brandon Prust got three points in the Habs 4-2 win against the Hurricanes. AP









Then the Hurricane onslaught began in the second; and if it wasn't for Price the Habs could've been down by a few going into the third.

But alas, Price kept his team in the game and though he'd probably like that second one back, it's tough for a goalie when a forward has the time to wind up and blast one from the faceoff dot. The puck can go anywhere. Yet he was strong in potentially the turning point of the game on no other than Eric Staal, making the save on a penalty shot with a little more than five minutes left in the middle frame.

The Canadiens then regrouped and came out strong once again in the third, getting goals by Lars Eller and P.K. Subban on the power play.

Prust continues to make Bergevin look like a genius, tallying a goal and two assists on the night. The guy brings the sandpaper but can also play. Eller and Gorges also had strong games, as well as Galchenyuk.

Michael Ryder? Not so much. He was benched for the third.

There were too many passengers on this night. Did Desharnais and Pacioretty even play?

And poor Yanick Weber. In his first game of the season he looked a bit rusty, getting caught flat footed on the second Carolina goal, then left the game early with a lower body injury.

Habs now head down to the sunshine state where we can only hope they get the same results like the last time. That is, fly out of there with some sun and four big points.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Islanders Have Habs Number!

Habs points streak ends at 11 games; Gionta scores 20,000th goal in Canadiens history in 6-3 loss to Isles

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Not a great game all-around, Habs vs. Isles on the island.

The defense was sketchy; Price didn't have the bounce back game we had hoped he would; and the Islanders took full advantage. So let's give that mediocre team the kudos they deserve for doing what they needed to do to get the two points.

Get it together Carey. Your team, your fans... need you to be at your best. Isles beat Habs 6-3 on Long Island. AP

But nevertheless, the Canadiens lost the chance to get two points against a team that does not play well at home; a team that probably won't make the playoffs; a team starting an aging, past-his-prime goalie in Evgeni Nabokov.

Michael Ryder had three assists and Captain Brian Gionta scored the Canadiens' 20,000th goal in its history. But it still wasn't enough.

Defensively, the Canadiens have been making a lot more mistakes of late. And Carey Price is getting the shaft because of it.

You know I'm his biggest supporter. As a goalie myself, I understand what it's like to play between the pipes.

But hey! The team needs a big save once in awhile. Lately, Price just doesn't look comfortable in his crease. That's the reality, that's the truth. You can blame the defense all you want, but it's nice when your goalie saves their behinds sometimes... that's what goalies are for!!

And Price just isn't doing it right now. To be honest, he hasn't looked the same since he came back from the flu. Maybe he's not totally 100%. But the fact is, he looks shaky. Point finale!!

Michel Therrien was clearly frustrated in his postgame presser. He was positive in general, didn't throw anyone under the bus, but he did mention how Price probably would've liked the Islanders' fourth goal back.

That's the one that hurt. The Canadiens came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it up and needed a few saves to keep the momentum going. They didn't get it.

On twitter, Price's defenders were bashing anyone who even suggested Price was at fault for this game. My position was that the loss wasn't his fault per se, but just because the puck is deflected does not mean that automatically should be a goal. I've made plenty of saves off of deflections. So has he. Make some big saves when your team isn't playing its best. The Canadiens need that from time to time. Stand on your head!

When was the last time we said that? That Carey Price stood on his head to get the win for the HABS!? Seems like a long time...

Remember what Ben Bishop of the Ottawa Senators did to us last week? I'd like to see Carey Price do that for us sometime soon.

Hopefully he gets it together. Do we see Budaj or Price on Thursday against the 'Canes in Carolina?? I think Price needs to play through this... but he better get it together quick because it's still pretty tight in the Northeast division.

Hey did I tell you I'm on twitter? I have over 400 followers now: #habsfanleafland

Monday, March 4, 2013

Character Wins Hockey Games

Habs take 3 of 4 points on weekend to reclaim top spot in Eastern Conference

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If there's one thing we know about freshman GM Marc Bergevin is that he likes hockey players with character.

So it was no surprise that his first signing was gritty forward Brendan Prust as a free agent from the New York Rangers. The Blueshirts still seem to be having issues replacing him.

It's players like Prust who provide those intangibles that can often swing momentum from one side to the other.

Brandon Prust taking one for the team from Milan Lucic in Boston. Lucic should really know better and pick on someone more his size, but it says a lot about both of their characters. Habs won 4-3. AP

Last night in Boston, it happened when Prust dropped the gloves to take on beast Milan Lucic and literally got punched out took one for the team.

The Habs were trailing 3-2 at that point and with the Bruins a strong third period team, it didn't look good.

But his teammates took notice, and responded in the best way possible by going out and winning that third period.

They also took notice when Alexei Emelin, steel plate in cheek, took on monster Zdeno Chara -- who received a fighting major and 10 minute misconduct going into the third. Bit of a mistake by the big Z but it paid off for the Habs.

So this year's edition of the Montreal Canadiens doesn't seem to wilt like they have in the past when faced with adversity.

Character.

It can go a long way on a hockey team.

Good teams seem to win games and collect points even when they don't have their best stuff. This weekend was a perfect example of that for the Canadiens. After Saturday night's surreal 7-6 OT loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Montreal, which saw a see-saw battle of giveaways, odd man rushes and somewhat sketchy goaltending, the Canadiens marched in to Boston's barn to begin a five game roadtrip. And they didn't exactly play a perfect game, but they did what they had to do to win, coming back in the third with two unanswered goals for the 4-3 victory.

Coach Therrien went with his gut, sent his team a message, sent his star goaltender a message -- whatever you decide -- by starting backup Peter Budaj in Boston. Twitter was ablaze, per the norm, questioning his judgment. Why start a backup who hasn't played in Boston since 2007 when the top spot in the conference is up for grabs? Doesn't make any sense...

But it does. Therrien is showing consistency in his message and that no player is immune from the team concept this season. You play well, you play. You don't perform to expectations, you sit. And it applies to Carey Price, just like it does to Lars Eller or Ryan White. Doesn't matter what nametag is on the back; what matters is that "CH" on the front.

I'm sure Price didn't like the call, but could respect it. He knows he didn't have a good game against the Pens. He knows he was shaky. He knows he has to be better -- as his team has to be better in front of him. And Price will be better. But in the meantime by starting Budaj, Therrien sent a message to the entire team and not just a single player.

And it worked. Budaj was solid and made a terrific save in the dying moments of the game to seal the deal.

So the Canadiens returned the favour to the Bruins in beating them on their home ice and coming back in the third to win. The Habs have to be happy with 3 of a possible 4 points when they didn't have their best stuff.

Things tend to even out; after all, the Habs had their best stuff in Ottawa last week and only got one point out of it.

Now it's on to Long Island to face the Islanders. Let's hope the Habs return the favour to the Isles from last week...


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pacioretty Bites Back

Ryder returns, Pacioretty scores two as Habs down Leafs in LeafLand 5-2

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What did that crime dog MacGruff used to say?

Take a bite outta crime!?

Well luckily there wasn't any biting going on, but there was a dose of revenge for the Canadiens as they marched in to Toronto and dominated the Leafs 5-2 at the ACC.

Max Pacioretty continued his tear of late with his first goal of two on the night helping the Habs to a 5-2 win against the Leafs in Toronto. AP

Newly acquired Michael Ryder was not a factor, but newly minted #11 was: Brendan Gallagher gave the veteran sniper his #73 and grabbed Captain Koivu's old number (which he wore with the Vancouver Giants), then proceeded to score the game winner on a nice deflection from a shot from the point.

One game with #11, one goal. I think it took Gomez over 80 games, right? Way to exorcise those demons kid.

The Leafs were up in arms as Tyler Bozak blew the faceoff for reasons that he thought the faceoff was going to be restarted. I say he gave up on the play, and David Desharnais did not.

The Canadiens dominated on the scoreboard and shots on goal; Max Pacioretty potted two and continues to  have the hot hand.

This game should have been out of reach earlier than the third period, but Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens made a few good saves, notably on Brendan Gallagher.

Carey Price didn't have to be great in this one, but I'm sure he would have liked to have back MacArthur's goal. Even if it was a nice passing play, he could have sucked that one up.

But he did excel on Mikhail Grabovski's penalty shot when the game was only 2-1 Habs; had Grabovski scored the game might have turned in another way.

Credit the Canadiens for being very disciplined and not getting pulled into the goonish play of the Leafs like the last time. Honestly now that I look at it, the Leafs look like the poor man's version of the Bruins. They want to play tough and with skill, but they're just goons with flashes of talent.

And I'm still not that sold on their goaltending, whoever is between the pipes. Scrivens was a bit soff on a few of the Habs tallies.

The Habs were a motivated team last night and have yet to lose in regulation since their 6-0 drubbing at the hands of these very same Leafs. It might have been all about getting "the two points" but this game proved my point in an earlier post that the Leafs made a big strategic error in embarrassing the Habs in Montreal a few weeks ago. They awoke the beast in the Habs -- now Montreal has something to play for against Toronto. The flame has been re-ignited for the Canadiens in this classic rivalry.

Well now that the Leafs had their rears handed to them in their barn, will they respond and go on a tear like the Canadiens responded after their drubbing??? I wouldn't bet on it.

No ifs and buts about it: the Canadiens are a much harder team to play against this season -- exactly what Coach Therrien wanted. They keep limiting their opposition to under 30 shots a game and are now starting to dominate in the faceoff circle. It's all in the little details. Winning, that is.

Habs have a tough weekend which could say a lot in where they stand in the conference next week. Back home to face the Penguins on Saturday, then off to Boston to play the Bruins on Sunday.

As always: SHOULD BE FUN!!!

You know that Twitter thing? Yeah, I'm on it: #HabsFanLeafLand



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Back to the Future -- Again!!

GM Bergevin pulls trigger on deal with Dallas Stars trading Erik Cole for Michael Ryder and 3rd round pick

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I was just about to get into the shower after a hard "insanity" workout. Then I heard from the television downstairs on RDS saying the Canadiens made a trade today. My immediate thought was "...oh what draft pick and prospect now!?"

But then I was shocked to hear the Habs traded big power forward Erik Cole with two more years on his four year 18 million dollar contract to the Dallas Stars for Michael Ryder and a third round pick!

Wow! Was I blown away.

Welcome back Ryder. Times have changed in Montreal. Good luck in Dallas Cole. Let me know if you find out anything I don't already know on the JFK assassination.

Why? Well Cole had a terrific season last year with 35 goals. He was off to a slow start, no doubt. But we at least thought that he was a good team guy, a leader and would get going.

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised when this veteran winger who clicked so well with Desharnais and Pacioretty last year came into camp saying he was going to retire at season's end. Seemed very odd. He was definitely rattled by the lockout, and maybe a change of scenery will be good for him.

Kind of a weird way to start a year. And then his play and lack of production has brought up questions about his fitness, leadership and will.

I admire Bergevin for pulling the trigger and making a splash to make his team better.

The big question is: was this the right deal?

From a numbers perspective, after looking at the specifics quite frankly, yes.

Cole has another two years left on an $18 million contract. Ryder is a UFA at the end of this season. So in one swoop, Bergevin frees up money against the cap for next season; gets a natural goal scorer who also scored 35 goals last season and so far this season has 14 points in 19 games -- tying him with team leader Plekanec; gets a player who'll be hungry to get a good contract for next year with whichever team; and gets a pick.

And the other intangible? Bergevin shakes his team up a bit, ensuring over confidence and complacency doesn't set in, and puts some of the other "leaders" on this team on the hot seat (I'm looking at you Brian Gionta).

The other big question? What else does Bergevin have up his sleeve? Is he done?

Ryder struggled under head coach Guy Carbonneau in his last season with the Habs and during his first year in Boston but now he's a veteran player who is confident in his abilities. He's a proven goal scorer, even if he is one-dimensional to some extent. He's a sniper. He'll be expected to snipe.

Erik Cole waived his no-trade clause for this. Maybe he wasn't happy? Maybe he wasn't the leader we were led to believe? Maybe Bergevin wants to purge anything Pierre Gauthier? Whatever the case, Cole can now retire a Dallas Star if he so chooses, while Michael Ryder can enjoy playing on an up-and-coming team that could be competitive in the post season this year.

Time will tell whether this works out for the Habs. In the end, Erik Cole was the best thing that happened to the Canadiens during last year's debacle. But I knew we wasted the best year of his career. Maybe Ryder still has his best in him.

Twitter! It's good, clean fun: #habsfanleafland

Bishop Burns Habs

Ben Bishop stops 44 shots to steal win for Sens against Habs in shootout

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Craig Anderson? Who's that guy? Oh yeah, starting goalie for the Ottawa Senators. You know, best goalie so far in the league this season; went down with an ankle sprain last week. Yeah yeah.


Hey, he played a heck of a game, that Ben Bishop goalie person. AP

Ben Bishop? Who is that guy? Isn't he the Canadian candidate for the papacy?

Not even close.

Unfortunately for the Habs, they probably wished they faced Craig Anderson in Ottawa Monday night, and that the 6"7 Ben Bishop was the papal candidate, because he was the difference maker in stealing the two points for the Senators, stopping 44 shots in regulation and OT, then 3 of 4 shooters to win the shootout.

He was very good on this night, and also very lucky. Hey when you're good, you get the luck. The Habs hit five posts in total and Bishop made more than one save with the butt of his goal stick.

As a goalie myself, I love those saves. Not just when they go against the Habs. Sometimes that's just the way it goes.

But the eternal truth is, if the Habs play like this consistently, they're going to win a hell of a lot more games than they are going to lose. The team dictated the play and all four lines really had good chances.

Carey Price looked a bit uneasy from the beginning and unfortunately he whiffed on the Sens' only goal in regulation -- a low slapshot that normally the goalie would have sucked up in his sleep.

After big time saves on Brandon Prust and Tomas Plekanec, Ben Bishop finally let one by when Andrei Markov blasted one from the point on the power play with four seconds remaining in the second period. It was the Habs' 30th shot at that point. Ultimately they won on the shot clock 45-24 but the Sens won the shootout on a goal by Peter Regin.

In the end, it was a pretty entertaining game filled with sharp passing from the Canadiens and good plays. But the Sens' backstop was the better player on this night. And so was the butt of his stick. Nobody on the Habs tried to put it top shelf on the big goalie in the shootout -- they might want to practice that because a guy like that covers a lot of net along the ice.

Nevertheless the Habs still technically hold the top spot in the East with the point but the Bruins still have games in hand. Wednesday night they roll into LeafLand to face the Leafs and hopefully looking for revenge from that 6-0 drubbing of a few weeks ago.

Follow-moi sur le twitter: #habsfanleafland