Don't you just love hockey?
I sure do. It's really the only thing that gets me through the winter.
It's been a fun and entertaining NHL season so far, with the Kovalchuk affair, trades, teams struggling etc. And it looks like it'll only continue, especially for the Canadiens, in the second half.
Lots of news, let's get to it:
HABS WIN IN SHOOTOUT AGAINST THE CROSBY-LESS PENS
Well 2 points are 2 points. The team sorely needed this win, even if it was in a shootout, and even if they really didn't play a great game. And with a Bruins losers last night (well, they're always losers, but last night the lost), they gained 2 points on that squad. Thankfully, Carey Price was solid, especially in the pressure-packed shootout, which resulted in a 2-1 SO win for the Habs. A very small step towards rebuilding this team's confidence.
Crosby and Fleury weren't in the lineup, but that didn't matter much (we usually neutralize Crosby pretty good). The Pens certainly weren't at their best, with Aaron Asham being their best forward on the night. Johnson played well in nets, but he's very beatable. Still, the Habs didn't test him all that much last night.
Ultimately, the Canadiens still look very shakey, nobody wants to make a mistake, and there's a noticeable lack of flow in their game that is so present when the team is flying high (skating over pucks, bumping into eachother, fanning on shots -- you know what I mean).
They're also just stymied. Moen, Paciorretty and Kostitsyn had goals on their stick last night and couldn't convert. Spacek drilled the puck off the post. Cammellari broke his stick as he was about to take a good shot close in. Even AK46 muffed his shootout attempt, doing his best Koval-choke impersonation. If it weren't for Benoit Pouliot (who would have thunk it huh?) and for the fact that the Pens played the night before, the Habs would have lost this game for sure.
The Habs seemed to want to lose and won despite themselves. Sure the effort was there, but the first two lines had better nights, and when you have a 5-on-3 for almost 2 minutes in the third period to take the lead, and only get 1 shot on net, pretty pathetic. The Wiz, James Wisniewski, couldn't get his shots through, and the unit looked slow and nervous.
Actually I thought the best line for the Habs was the Darche-Desharnais-Pouliot line, with Desharnais picking up an assist on Pouliot's tying goal. But I'm sure everyone figured the Habs would lose the shootout and again, it seemed like they tried to. Cammellari, Gionta, Kostitsyn, Subban, all came up short.
Pouliot figured he had nothing to lose and tried a move he used in junior... why the hell not? Why not try some things, and play like they have nothing to lose!!?? Good for you Benny. But I'm a bit perplexed why clutch scorer Tomas Plekanec was not employed in the shootout!?? I liked the choice of Subban and he made a great move. For all intent and purpose, he should have scored if he only held on to the puck a second or two more.
THIS ON THE HEELS OF SOME VERY BAD, BUT SOMEWHAT PREDICTABLE, NEWS
That Josh Gorges, the heart and soul of this team, is done for the season. He needs knee surgery a la Markov and is out. Time for the young defense to step it up and show their worth. Ultimately this is Yannick Weber's big time chance. He does well, he'll remain a Hab. If he doesn't, well there are a few options.
Hopefully Hamrlik gets back soon.
Chances are, the Habs will make another move. Personally, I can see the team going after Kaberle from the Maple Leafs. You heard it here first.
AND AT THE HALFWAY POINT
No matter the team's current struggles which I'm confident they will emerge from, the team is 6 points ahead of its pace from last season at this point. That's good. And remember, the Habs went 6-1 last year on that same trip. Had they done that this year, they'd be at the top of the conference. So things are going in the right direction.
For it to continue, Price needs to be at his best every night. The team's best scorers need to be more consistent. The defence needs to be alert and help Price out. And overall the team needs to stay focused over 60 minutes and stop making avoidable mistakes.
AND STILL MORE NEWS, FROM THE ACC
The St. Louis Blues were in town last night to play the Leafs, and poor ol' Jaro was pulled after 4 goals. The Blues were up 2-0 but the Leafs stormed back with 5 straight tallies. Of course the Blues came back to tie it, only to lose to the Buds in a shootout to go down 6-5.
Do you still miss Jaro!? Come on now...
FINALLY, PLEASE MEET THE TAMPA BAY CANADIENS
The remaking of the Tampa Bay Lightning as the Canadiens south continues, with the signing this week of Marc-Andre Bergeron. I was surprised at this move, but am happy for him. He's a good team guy and will try his best. He's got a great shot, but I still think the Habs are better off with Wisniewski. And maybe they'll sign Wiz for next year.
So let's see. The Lightning have players we wanted (LeCavallier, St. Louis), players we had (Moore, Desjardins, Bergeron) and our coach in waiting from the AHL (Boucher). Boucher (and Yserman) are doing a great job down there. But goaltending is still an issue. Not sure why they sent Desjardins down, he looks ready to make the jump. Roloson, who they also got from the Isles this week, is solid and experienced, but he can't do it game in game out. Just look at this week. He shutsout the Caps, then gets blown out of the water against the Pens....