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Monday, February 28, 2011

Da Trade Deadline

UPDATE AS OF 2:40 PM -- Dustin Penner traded to the L.A. Kings for a prospect, a first round pick in 2011 and a conditional 3rd round pick. Ugh!!

I've been away for a bit.

Not physically, just mentally.

But you can be sure I've been watching hockey.

Lots to talk about. For starters as I write this post, it is just past 1 p.m. EST, less than 2 hours before the trade deadline.

So far, not that much action, with the Florida Panthers the team that's made the most moves today. Boring!!!!

Tick tick tick. De time, it is ticking down...

And our beloved Habs!? As predicted, they remain quiet. Guess nobody wants Scotty Gomez!! And I was so set on seeing Dustin Penner in a Habs jersey. Guess that'll have to wait until the summer. And boy, it should be an interesting summer for the Habs.

No, the Canadiens have made their moves and this is the team that will fight to the death in the playoffs. Last week the team picked up dman Brent Sopel and forward Nigel Dawes from Atlanta. Sopel is a good pickup in my opinion. 34, rugged, stay at home type defenseman who blocks shots. A fair substitute for Gorges. He won the cup with Chicago last year, and anyone who follows hockey knows, that does make a difference!!! We needed someone like this. Also word is everyone likes him, and he's done well in the locker room. He played with a few players previously, namely Cammellari while in Los Angeles.

Speaking of which, number 13 for the Habs was like a deadline pickup as well. He missed 12 games with his separated shoulder, and the 2 goals he's scored since his return just reminded me how much we missed him. Aside from Kostitsyn, who has a better shot on the team than Mikey C??? He beats all of the league's goalies glove side, just like he did to Ward on Saturday night in the team's 4-3 win against the Hurricanes.

That game wasn't pretty, but boy did we need those 2 points. The previous loss to the Leafs at home was unacceptable!! 2 points down the toilet. The upside is, by losing the Habs just gave Leafs Nation a spoonful of hope that they all crave. Of course since that game, the Leafs blew leads in 2 separate games only to lose in OT or a shootout. 1 point is not enough, especially when they still have to jump a surging Sabres team who are ahead of them. Leafs don't make it, but keep it up!! I don't want to see another top 5 pick go to Boston again.

Spacek is out for the season. This kind of came and went very quietly but the big dman has most likely played his last game in Montreal. He had a slow start to the year, but with Hamrlik he did his darndest to fill the void created by the loss of Markov and Gorges.

That means, the Habs have lost 3 of their starting 6 defensemen this year!!! And to see them in the 6th spot in their division can only be a tribute to this team -- a team that has had trouble scoring all year. If my boy Carey Price doesn't at least get nominated for the Hart or Vezina, I will truly be disappointed. Considering all the hoo-hah from the summer trade of Halak and all the expecations, the boos, the preseason crap game against the Boo-ins, this guy has delivered big timo!!!! He will lead us to the cup some time soon... probably not this year, but soon. It's coming, because finally some prospects have emerged and gained a foothold on this team, and they're talented guys (Weber, Pacioretty, Desharnais).

And then there's Brother Andrei. Mr. Kostitsyn, you are the second coming of the mercurial Alex Kovalev, who was traded to the Penguins last week. And what does he do? He scores the first goal of the game, then scores the shootout winner with a shot nobody could have even seen leave his stick. The guy is brilliant. Too bad he's not Canadian, because if he were, he'd be challenging Gretzky's records....

But Kostitsyn, the last few games he's been taking the body, making solid plays and scoring game winners. That's how important this guy is for our team. He scores goals that matter. Not the 6th goal in an 8-2 win. Winning goals, clutch goals like he did in Vancouver and again in Montreal against the Hurricanes. Hurray Andrei, hurray! Pleeease keep it up.

Not only that, AK 46 had ignited a fire under Lars "Do you want me to sign your jersey" Eller. He's passing, he's scoring, he's playing well defensively. Now all we can hope is that Martin doesn't tear the line apart. Leave 'em alone!! With Travis Moen, they're potentially the best 4th line in the league. Please please please, just leave this line alone and let AK continue his solid play. KEEP HIM AWAY FROM GOMEZ!!!

That's all I have for today kiddies. Habs start a 3 game road trip tomorrow night in Atlanta, then off to Florida. Traditionally a tough trip for the team. Let's hope for the best. Kisses...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

End of Western Futility, Sort Of...

Well I'm not going to sit and write how successful the Habs' western swing was, because it wasn't!

Canucks' Ryan Kesler is hit by the puck while standing in front of Carey Price on Tuesday night. Photo by Rich Lam, Getty Images.

Still, they pulled out a much-needed win last night against the NHL tops Vancouver Canucks, winning there for the first time in 10 years, and also giving poor deserving Carey Price a win in front of his home crowd.

You may remember last year's swing out west -- which was also a write-off -- when Price was hung out to dry like Granny's bedsheets by his teammates in a 7-1 loss.

Thankfully, Price was once again on top of his game stopping 37 shots for a 3-2 win.

What is it with the Habs and the Canadian west??? As far as I can remember, we've always had trouble out there, as far back as the early 80's. Even in Winnipeg, though I'd have to look up the actual numbers.

By the way check out this fact as pointed out by Nucks Misconduct:

"The Vancouver Canucks haven’t lost in regulation at home to an Eastern Conference opponent all season while the Montreal Canadiens haven’t earned a point on the road against a team from the West."

Happy that fact is no more. Last night the Habs came out strong, buoyed from a less-than-intense Canucks squad who probably figured they could mail this one in. But the Habs showed speed and fortitude for the first 10 minutes of the game, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Desharnais and Gionta.

It could've easily been 3 or 4 zip if it weren't for Luongo, who also had a strong game.

But then the Habs got into penalty trouble and almost blew it. Even Price was called on a delay of game penalty that lead to Vancouver's first goal. They had to kill of a 5-on-3 in the first period too. Both Vancouver goals were on the power play.

Do I need to repeat how important Andrei Kostitsyn is to this team? The Canucks were putting on the heat when he scored a nice goal off of a feed from Lars Eller. Yes, Lars "would you like me to sign your jerrrrsey" Eller. Finally contributing. What gives? Both players were in an offensive funk yet supply the spark the team needed from the 4th line!?

Whatever. Point is, Kostitsyn scores Habs win. Kostitsyn doesn't score, we maybe get a point. This team desperately needs his offence, especially until Cammellari finds his groove in probably his most challenging season to date.

I still think Brother Andrei is a goner after this season, if not this week before the trade deadline. But man he can be a good player when he wants to be. In fact, the 4th line of Kostitsyn, Eller and White had a good night when they were used. Maybe Martin should stick with this.

Gomez continues to be stymied. He got an assist on the Gionta goal (the 500th of his career), but missed an open net in the 3rd that could've sealed the deal for the Habs. Man, it's not my imagination... he's missed at least 5 goals like this this year!!!!

Anyhow, unless he's traded, the hope is that he can play through his struggles and get back to what he does best for the playoffs. In that same vein, I would totally take the deal of Cammy not scoring for the rest of the season in exchange for catching on fire in the playoffs, like last year.

On a closing note, Gauthier's latest pickup Paul Mara played a solid game... and he is showing some grit and toughness the Habs desperately need. Hope it continues.

Habs Fans in Leafland! Your Habs play host to the Maple Leafs tomorrow night, surely to be a more intense game than the last time out which saw the Habs blank the Leafs. The Leafs will surely want some revenge and show resilliency. Habs can't do what the Canucks did last night... take them lightly.

Monday, February 21, 2011

D.O.A. in Calgary

Well the hoo-hah that was the "Heritage Classic" is now said and done and for the Canadiens, couldn't have happened soon enough with the team skating to a listless 4-0 loss to the Calgary Flames last night.

What a bore this game was!!!

Easy to say because the Canadiens played a pretty heartless game. If it weren't for Carey Price early on, this game could've gotten out of hand quite fast.

The best part of the game for me was noticing the Habs were wearing vintage numbering on their jerseys from the 70's - 80's era. Anybody else catch that???

But it really was a boring game. The Habs play didn't help at all -- I think there may have only been one time the entire game where 4 Habs touched the puck in succession before a Flames player did. That means, pass from one player to another, then bang, the puck is in Calgary possession. No flow, no speed, no goals!!!!

Ever the optimist, this is all I have:

- Paul Mara finally got his equipment and played.
- Wisniewski, Gill, and Cammellari all returned from injury.
- Nobody else got hurt (as far as we know).
- Carey Price's "Heritage Classic" mask will be retired, hopefully buried deep somewhere in McMahon Stadium (I wasn't a fan).

Hey, the Flames played like they wanted it more, point finale. So good for them. They played with a hunger, that something was on the line here. The Habs, well, they're going through a typical funk where goals are at a premium and their top players are not being their top players.

Hard for me to rag on Plekanec (there's already many in the media that do) but he's been a bit less for wear of late. He's still the team leader, and he's the one that has to emerge and step up to take the team out of this funk. Gionta too.

Of course we don't need to mention Gomez... or Kostitsyn... or Lars Eller who really needs to go to the AHL because he's not contributing anything to the team.

Worst of all, it's just not fun to watch this team play of late. The games have been a drag. Boring, listless hockey without heart, without passion, without results.

Gauthier should not have left Alberta without making some sort of a deal. This team needs a bit of a reality check right now. Boy that Rene Bourque would look good in the bleu-blanc-rouge. He had a great game last night.

Luckily, the Rangers lost yesterday so we're still in a solid 6th in the conference, but this could change very quickly if the team doesn't roll up their sleeves and figure out how to get some offence going -- and not at the expense of the defence.

Habs now have won only once in their last 7 games after a strong start to the post-All-Star game break. The task becomes that much harder as they enter Vancouver to play the tops of the league Canucks tomorrow night. Hopefully it's a fun game to watch.

Friday, February 18, 2011

When They Lose, They Do it in Style!!

I don't have much positive to say about last night's ecchhy 4-1 loss to the lowly Oilers in Edmonton last night.

Sure the Habs always have a rough time out west, maybe last night they were a bit beat due to travel, etc. But is that an excuse??

No, it ain't.

It seems lately everything that can go wrong, is going wrong. Have to work through it. And let's be honest, the Habs have done their best to stay in the midst of things, persevering over devastating losses to Markov and Gorges. Now Gill is down, and Spacek is not skating with a possible knee injury.

And just to rub salt in the wound, Wisniewski took a puck off his face and left the game with a huge gash in his upper cheek. Waiting for test results to see if he has a fracture, which if he does, will probably mean he's out for at least a month!!

The defense corps is decimated. So much the reason why Gauthier re-acquired Paul Mara from the Ducks yesterday. Not the answer to our prayers, but a healthy body!!

I'm not going to say how poorly the Canadiens' top offensive lines played yesterday, or how Khabibulin outplayed Price last night. Let's just forget about this one and focus on the next game, which happens to be the Heritage Classic in Calgary this Sunday. The defense corps is being overworked, and we're in trouble if things don't change.

Meanwhile, Boston got Rich Peverley from Atlanta and finally Kaberle from the Leafs. What will Gauthier do, if anything?? I couldn't help but dream about a nice trade with the Oilers: Gomez, Kostitsyn and maybe even Moen, for Penner.... but yes, that's a dream.

Gomez and Kostitsyn were arguable the best forwards last night, and that was the problem.

Have to try to pick up some points on this trip otherwise the team is going to be in a totally different situation in the standings when they come home to Montreal.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Squandering Precious Points!!!

Last night's game against Buffalo seemed like a re-run of last week's game against the Islanders.

Our Canadiens did not display a "killer" attitude and left their opposition off the hook.

Jonas Enroth makes a save in Montreal last night.

The Sabres came out brutally flat and the Habs went to work, sort of. They missed the net on a lot of opportunities and Pacioretty ultimately converted a nice "power forward" type goal to make it 1-0 -- but it's not as if the Habs were playing their best hockey.

The lead was precarious at best, and we knew the Sabres would come out stronger in the 2nd, which they did.

To me, the Habs played the 2nd period as if they believed it were the 3rd -- hanging on to keep the lead. Not a good recipe for success.

Meanwhile the Sabres chipped away and got back into the game, even if Montreal made it 2-0 with a nice goal by Pouliot.

With all of that, the Canadiens still could have put this one away at the end of the 3rd as they were up a man, but couldn't even muster a shot on net.

Once in the shootout, anything can happen. And it kind of mirrored the game. Habs went up 2-0, but couldn't close the deal. It took the Sabres' Hecht to score in the 11th round to give Buffalo the 2 points.


Habs head out to Edmonton today to play there tomorrow night. Hey Pierre! Don't forget to pick up Dustin Penner while you're there.


Heritage Game Saturday Night. I can understand why he'd want to play, but do you think it wise to bring back Cammalleri on this night? I mean, the ice is going to be potentially rough and it's not a normal game. Maybe better to wait for normal circumstances?? Just a thought.

The Habs wasted an opportunity. They could have jumped past the Bruins who lost to the Leafs last night in Boston. Finally little Philip Kessel scored a goal against his former mates. Scored 2 goals. Good one. Bruins have lost 3 since the beatup game against the Habs. What did I say about karma, and gooning!?

The Kids are Alright. It was nice to see the youth movement continue to do well. At one point in the game Pouliot, Desharnais, Pacioretty, Weber and Brendan Nash -- who was called up to replace ailing Spacek -- were all on the ice at the same time. Nash didn't look out of place. Weber continues to be solid and is progressing. We're all gaga about Desharnais and Pacioretty these days, but Pouliot is the one who is really showing some consistency of late, scoring goals in 3 straight games.

Gomez & Co. ugh! Is it just me? I can't help of late to moan when I see Gomer on the ice. The question is, if I'm doing that, what are the coaches feeling? It seems to this point, Martin's strategy is to try to help him play out of his funk.

Case in point, he started the power play at the end of the game that could've won it for the Habs. I disagree with this approach. Not working. The Kostitsyn-Gomez-Moen line was painful to watch last night. Andrei gave a good effort, but it seems he is under the spell of terribly low confidence these days, and nothing seems to be going right for him. I think he's going to be traded, and if not, he will not be resigned. With other, younger guys playing with more urgency and hunger, we're going to have to bite the bullet on this one and watch him succeed elsewhere. If you've followed this blog, you know I've been one of A.K.'s biggest supporters, but my patience has ran out.

Btw, Moen too is trade bait. I like this strappling Canadian boy, but he just doesn't seem to be the impact player he was last year. He doesn't seem to be hurt, so what's up Travis????

Chris Kelly to the Bruins. Who cares? But what I don't like is Burke possibly trading Kaberle to the Bruins. Who's side is he on?????

Cousin Warren was at the Game. Against the Leafs. Like I said. But not only that, he ran into Subban again! This time with some more of his teammates in tow and he helped to play a practical joke on Price. Story to come. But Cousin Warren should be travelling with the team out West, don't you think?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Habs End Losing Streak in Style Against Leafs

The Canadiens have yet to lose 4 straight games this season and last night they avoided this fate by snapping a 3 game losing streak, posting a solid 3-0 win last night in Montreal against the Leafs.

The Montreal Canadiens score the 1st goal of the game in a 3-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs last night in Montreal. Mikhail Grabovski and Mike Komisarek, both former Habs, watch helplessly. Photo AP

Really the Leafs weren't that good last night and the Habs seemed to carry the play for most of the night. Can't blame Giguere, as usual he was solid against his childhood team.

Carey Price takes home his second shutout of the year against the Leafs. And can you believe he's the first Habs goalie to do so since Rogie Vachon wayyyyyy back in 1968. Considering how bad the Leafs were in the 70's, and that Dryden owned the Canadiens' net for that period, it is somewhat astonishing. Good times Carey, continuing to chisel your way into the Canadiens' large record books.

This was also a bounce-back game of sorts for a few players, namely Gomez and Kostitsyn who showed much better efforts last night. Gomez made a sweet pass on David Desharnais' 5th of the season, who finally broke his spell of scoring in games where the Habs lose. Until last night, Desharnais scored in four separate games, the Habs losing each one. So good to break that spell.

The team needed a strong defensive effort to get back on track and that's exactly what they delivered. Of course, it didn't hurt that their opposition was somewhat lacklustre offensively last night.

Anyone else think Joffrey Lupul is a complete waste of space out there? To me, he seems like a kid who had one good year in Junior and everyone keeps waiting for him to repeat it, but it's not going to happen. He's been a disappointment on every team he's played for, and with the Leafs it will be no different.

David Desharnais celebrates his 5th goal of the season with Scott Gomez of the Montreal Canadiens last night in Montreal. The Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0. Photo AP

And the guy is crying about how Subban suckered him by punching him when he was trying to take off his helmet. Tough guy. How about worrying about putting some pucks in the net Joffrey!?

The first two Habs goals were essentially carbon copies of each other -- first Desharnais making a sweet pass from behind the net to a wide open Benny Pouliot in the high slot, who made no mistake putting it past Giguere.

Then Pacioretty took a page from Desharnais' playbook, making the same pass to Gionta, who potted his team leading 21st goal of the year.

The Habs have to pick up these valuable points as they prepare to head out on a Western swing that is always a challenge, including the Heritage Game in Calgary later this month.

With the 2 points, the Habs now have 68 points and have further entrenched themselves into a solid position in the Eastern Conference. They're a full 6 points up on the 7th place Rangers, and are tied with the Capitals who still have a game in hand. They're now also only 1 measly point behind the Bruins, who just lost against the Red Wings 4-2 today. The Bruins still have a game in hand.

Max Pacioretty continued his solid play but unfortunately left the game in the 3rd when he was pushed into the boards by Luke Schenn. To me, it looked like a dirty play, but the refs didn't see it that way. He left the game and we're still waiting to hear what is condition is. He's a tough kid so let's hope he bounces back like he did the last time.

The Habs play the surging Buffalo Sabres in Montreal on Tuesday night before heading out west for 3 showdowns. The Sabres are believing in themselves lately and have crept back into the playoff picture in the East. Should be a good game.

Oh and by the way, Cousin Warren was at the game... so the Habs victory last night was a no-brainer in my mind :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Craziness in Boston

After a Superbowl split which saw the Habs turn in a tight game against the Rangers with a 2-0 win, then a somewhat predictable loss against the surging New Jersey Devils 4-1, the team came into Boston with the chance to catch their rivals atop the Northeast Division.

Carey Price lands the one and only punch on Timmy Thomas last night in Boston. Price won the fight, but the Habs lost the game 8-6. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.)

Nobody could have predicted the Habs would score 6 goals... and lose! The Bruins deserved this hard-fought, 8-6 win that saw endless fights and a crazy 2nd period where the teams scored a combined 8 goals on two of the best goalies in the league: Timmy Thomas and Carey Price.

These two even faced off in a rare goalie fight, Thomas skating to Price's end to offer him the chance to knock his block off, which he did. Price looked reluctant to fight, but obliged. In the end, it amounted to a playfight, with Price getting in one shot, Thomas losing his balance and the two falling onto eachother. Standing back up, the two looking like they were going to kiss -- or at least hug it out. That was a funny moment.

As an aside, check out the photo above. I love that old guy in the Bruins sweater at the far end of the ice. Boy did he enjoy the tilt. It's true, it is exciting when two goalies fight. Maybe because it conjures up memories of Roy vs. Vernon. But who wasn't holding their breath, with two franchise goalies going at it. Last thing anyone wanted was to see someone break their hand.

Honestly this game could have been well out of hand for the Habs if it weren't for Price's strong play in the first period which saw the Bruins score twice in 12 seconds to take a 2-0 lead. The Habs came back strong in the second with Captain Gionta scoring in the first minute to cut the lead.

Then once P.K. Subban tied the game up, the fireworks began. Boom, the Bruins took the lead back. Boom, the Habs tied it up with a nice shot by Yannick Weber. Boom, the Bruins scored another two quick ones, by former Hab Michael Ryder and the king of goons, Milan Lucic. Boy I'd love to see someone punch his lights out. I guess he is the kind of player you'd like on your team, but when I see him crosschecking Price in his crease, that's a bit too much. Hope the Habs remember that.

The real problem was the Habs couldn't play defense on this night. And you'd think because Price let in 8 goals, that he'd had a bad game. But all the goals that sailed past him he had no chance on. That's what his team was doing in front of him -- continuously handing over quality scoring chances to a Bruins team who were determined not to let this one slip out of their hands, like what happened back in January in Montreal.

And what about the Gomez-Kostitsyn-Eller line!? A combined minus 12!!! Gomez probably had his worst game in a Habs jersey, Kostitsyn is just continuing his easy-breezy play, and Eller? Well, I think the time has come for him to go to the farm, just like MaxPac did last year, to regain his confidence. He's had all the chances in the world, but isn't putting up anything on the board. It seemed the Bruins scored everytime these guys were on the ice last night.

Credit to the Habs for hanging around in this one, and when Max Pacioretty scored with a little over 12 minutes remaining in the game to make it 6-5, the team at least had a chance to maybe eke out a point with some late heroics. But once again, the Bruins came right back and put out that fire.

The goonery at the end showed the Bruins true character. They had the game in hand, but they wanted to rub it in for good measure. These are the kinds of things that anger the hockey gods, and why the Bruins will always be a "coulda been" kind of team. Gregory Campbell punching out Pyatt with his elbow pad? Uppercuts no less. Come on, what a hump! Stand up and fight the right way. Even Krejci got into the action with a reluctant Pouliot, who came across as if he were saying "You sure you want to do this?" Pouliot then dropped the Bruins player with one punch.

I always respected coach Claude Julien but he should be ashamed for the way this game ended.

The Habs can take a few positives from this game:

1) The power play finally got going, scoring 4 times. Hopefully this is just the start.

2) They have the chance to bounce back tonight against the New York Islanders in Montreal.

3) They have this game as a reminder for future matchups against this Boston goon squad.

Don't the Bruins know that the only good squad that can win it all is playing in another state, namely the Philadelphia Flyers!?


In some other notes around the league, don't you think Penguins forward Matt Cooke should be banned from playing? I mean, this guy is exactly the kind of player the NHL does not need... he intentionally tries to hurt players. He may have single-handedly ended Marc Savard's career. I personally can't stand the guy. For awhile now. He's a joke and an embarassment to the league.

Mike Fisher was traded to Nashville today. Now his wife Carrie Underwood can rest easy. And the Senators have now officially raised the white flag, trading away their best player.

The Leafs traded Beauchemin back to the Ducks for underachieving forward Joffrey Lupul and a defense prospect. Lupul has underperformed everywhere he's gone and is injury prone. Is there any reason why this would change in Toronto, where players come to die?????

What's with all these back to back games of late? Weird schedule...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Habbiness is 4 Points in 2 Nights

Last night was a great night of hockey. Around the league, lotsa fun.

Starting with the Habs. Nice 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers last night. Second victory in 2 nights, always a pleasure.

Alex Auld is flanked by teammates after last nights 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers in Montreal. Photo: Getty Images/Richard Wolowicz

Especially considering, again, the Habs gave up the first goal. But they're finding a way to win, and showing veteran-style patience in not panicking, not getting too down or worried and sticking to the game plan -- which they know, if they execute, will result in being on the right side of the win/loss pendulum more often than not.

But coming from behind on a regular basis is not a sustainable, long-term recipe for success. Goals are still a premium for the Habs, but it looks like after a few blips, the Habs defense has reigned things in. Last night Spacek made some excellent plays, Hamrlik joined the rush on a few occasions, and even Yannick Weber is beginning to find his place within the team/system. He has yet to score, but he will. Regardless he's showing more confidence and poise on the blueline. He did have a brutal giveaway last night and was saved by Auld.

Speaking of which, Alex Auld rebounded with a solid outing after his first Bell Centre start against Calgary went south. His numbers are great, exactly what we asked for from a backup. Pundits around the league (namely TSN) have stated the Habs could use a "better" backup to relieve Price of some games, and they could be right, but for now, why waste time/energy on this when what the team really needs is that big body up front (bonjour Dustin Penner).

And what about Max Pacioretty??? He had a fine outing last night and was all over the ice. Gionta's winning tally was set up by him flying around the Florida dman and almost putting the puck past Vokoun. Gionta cleaned up the trash.

The only real minus from last night, besides their slow start, is the powerplay. Ech! At least in Washington, they had a lot of shots and good presence. Last night was a joke. Funny how they can't score 5-on-5 -- now they can ONLY score 5-on-5. Let's be honest... if the Habs were able to get consistent production 5-on-5 AND score on the powerplay, they'd be a pretty dangerous team. Well we can always dream!!

Habs are now in 6th place, passing the Rangers and still have a game in hand on the blueshirts. If they maintain this position, they'll face the Bruins in the playoffs. Why? Because it doesn't seem like either Boston or Montreal will catch Tampa/Philly, so the winner of the Northeast Division will end up 3rd in the conference. So whoever doesn't win the division, all it takes is for either team to finish 6th for that matchup to happen. Hello Timmy!

Get some rest, Habs play 2 matinees this weekend against the Rangers and the Devils because of the SuperBowl.


-- Johan Franzen (love that guy) scored 5 big ones -- that's right, 5 goals -- against the now officially pathetic Senators in Ottawa last night. His last coming into an empty net. It's been awhile since anyone has scored 5 in a game, and he's the first to ever do it against the Sens. He's the kind of player that MaxPac could morph into, but we should get someone else like him -- did I mention Dustin Penner????

-- Johnson vs. DiPietro: poor Islanders goalie, gets completely clocked by Johnson of the Pens in a rare goalie vs. goalie tilt. And loses the game 3-0. Nice night for Johnson posting the shutout and the K.O.

-- Marc Savard: he's done for the year. Shut down by the Bruins. Concussion. Not good. Could have been worse though. The Leafs could have traded away their first round picks in '12 and '13 for him to the Bruins. Thank god that didn't happen.

-- Ruff to coach Leafs? Not exactly, but Damian Cox thinks he'd be a good fit. I think anyone would be better than Ron Wilson. I've never been a fan of that guy. Ruff would be exactly what the Leafs need: someone who's tough and holds players accountable. But he's too smart to take the job... I'd be shocked, but hey maybe he's in for a challenge.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Memories of D.C.

Aww, nothing like memories. Good memories. Memories that give you the warm and fuzzies.

That's what I got last night watching the Habs take down the Caps 3-2 in a shootout last night in D.C.

Washington, decked out in their retro jerseys probably should have left them in the closet, because they evoked times past when the Habs would regularly beat the Capitals 10-3.

P.K. Subban followed closely by Alexander Ovechkin Feb. 1, 2011. They were at it all night. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Okay it's been a while since those kind of scores (I remember 'em though) but still, we have fresher memories to build on. And that's what happened last night.

Honestly, I pretty much wrote off the Canadiens team after a listless 1st period saw them fall behind 2-0. The first goal was a joke from a couple of vantage points. Andrei Kostitsyn (who struggled last night) failed to control a puck in the neutral zone which would have saw him take off on a 2-on-1 with Scott Gomez. Instead he fumbled it, and the Caps' Mathieu Perreault took the puck deep into the Habs' zone and launched a sharp angle shot past a surprised and upset Carey Price -- who looked weak on the play.

Not a good start for our All-Star goalie, who apparently had some equipment snafus leading up to the game. His equipment arrived late from Raleigh and when it did finally arrive, it was frozen.

The Habs then couldn't convert on a few powerplays, and after the team took a penalty after Price made the save on a breakaway, Knuble slid the puck past Price after a nice play by Mike Green for a powerplay goal.

2-0. And I'm thinking, hoo boy, tonight's gonna be a write-off.

But although they didn't score, the Habs seemed to generate some good momentum from their powerplay, and had some nice chances. Varlamov was solid in nets for Washington. And Ovechkin was being generous by giving the Habs another powerplay right at the end of the period.

Then I remembered, you know, the Habs have been playing pretty well of late when they fall behind early. Here was a chance to redeem themselves for the previous game against the Flyers, which also saw them fall behind 2-0 after one period.

In that game, the Flyers got the all-important "next goal." This time, even if the Habs couldn't score on the powerplay, they finally got that goal on a nice slapper by Brian Gionta who finished off a 2-on-1 with Kostitsyn for his 17th of the year.

This gave the Habs the boost they needed and they began to slowly take over the game. Before the period was out, Captain G. found himself in alone on Varlamov after a sweet pass by Plekanec and he made no mistake, wristing a nice hard shot stick-side past the Washington goalie to tie the game.

Now I'm thinking, if the Habs don't get any points out of this, they can blame their powerplay.

But the Habs continued where they left off, continuing to apply pressure and asserting a puck control game.

To be honest, the Caps completely left the Canadiens off the hook in this one. Up 2-0, it was if the team thought this one was done and done after 10 minutes. And to Montreal's credit, they found a way to slowly chip away at this one.

But the Caps didn't exactly roll over and die. Price made up for his slow start with some nice saves, notably on a shorthanded breakaway midway in the 3rd. And Ovie completely laid out Subban in an open ice check that more or less stopped him straight up and flipped him through the air. Actually Ovechkin showed nice restraint with that one, and showed that you can still be effective with the body, without being dangerous -- and still get on the highlight reel.

The teams swapped chances in OT, but nobody could find the net.

In the shootout I was happy to see Gionta take the first attempt, he of the hot hands. And he made no mistake, roofing a backhand past the sprawling Varlamov -- who deserved a better fate in this one. Price slammed the door shut, and the Canadiens picked up a very important 2 points.

Important because the Bruins beat the 'Canes last night in regulation. So the Habs kept pace with the Bruins, while increasing their lead on the 9th place 'Canes and the 8th place Thrashers, who also lost last night.

Habs can't rest on their laurels though because they have another important 2 points to pick up tonight in Montreal against the Florida Panthers, who lost in a shootout here in Toronto last night.