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Monday, February 27, 2012

AK46 Hab No More

Andrei Kostitsyn, the one Habs forward who could pull us all out of our seats with his offensive flair, is a Hab no more.

Today he's being reunited with his brother Sergei in Nashville, exchanged for a 2nd rounder in 2013 and the conditional fifth round pick the Habs gave to the Preds in the Gill trade the other week.

In other words, not much eh?

Bye bye Andrei. Another victim of our miss the playoffs kind of year. You were fun to watch. I'll miss you. Pic: Getty

Now I'm an Andrei Kostitsyn fan, and sure he's definitely in one of his patented slumps right now, but why we'd trade a guy like this who is just entering his prime is beyond me. Why we'd let another head coach essentially write out players from their lineups -- Carbonneau and Michael Ryder for example -- is also beyond me, especially when the head coach is a temp.

Kostitsyn isn't setting the world on fire this year, with 12 goals and 12 assists in 53 games.

I would be more happy if we got something of substance for this guy but a measly 2nd rounder is a bit disappointing, if you ask me.

In the end, the deal turns out to be a salary dump for more important Carey Price and P.K. Subban contracts in the quicker than most would like to admit is coming" offseason.

But who can blame  him? This guy has been playing 3rd and 4th line minutes. He should be playing on the first two lines, in my opinion, for him to thrive. Last night he was playing with Ryan White for godssake.

Good luck Andrei it was fun. Now the guy we picked instead of Kopitar isn't around anymore to remind of that fact. I'm sure you'll do well in Nashville.

DO I SMELL TOP 3 PICK!!?? The Habs are well on their way especially after losing last night to Florida, and I'm fine with that. Let's see if the team makes a few more moves before the end of the afternoon today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Gary...

Carey Price during the pregame warmup wearing Carter's #8.

The Canadiens honoured Gary Carter before the game against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night and as per form, it was first class all the way. The players wore Carter's iconic number 8 on their jerseys for pre-game warmup, which will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to The Gary Carter Foundation. They also sported #8 on their helmets, and Youppi! wore his old Expos cap and jersey, with Carter's name and number.

He then returned later sporting a Habs jersey, also with a #8. It was nice to see ol' Youppi! in his former threads, even under such circumstances.

Great tribute to the music of the Eagle's "New Kid in Town."

I cried, as I'm sure many others did. I still can't believe it.
Anyhow here's the tribute if you haven't seen it:

Now if only the team could have picked up the win for "The Kid."

I kind of spent the entire weekend thinking about Gary Carter.

Yeah! Gary Carter in his trademark pose, showing the ump the ball after he tagged out a runner at home. Way to go Gary!!! Pic courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

In retrospect, I think the passing of Gary Carter was a bit emotional for me for a variety of reasons: it made me think of my late father, who also passed away before his time at age 51 from cancer in 1980 -- as Carter was entering his prime; it also made me think about all the great memories I had of the Expos and specifically of Gary; and especially made me sad about how much I really, really miss the Expos. No matter how bad their record may have been, no matter how bad a place the Olympic Stadium is to see a game -- it's better to have a team to not have one at all.

Here's a great recap of Carter's career more focused on his prime with the Expos:

It also made me realize that Gary Carter represented something more to us. He represented a sense of optimism, a sense of passion, of winning and hopefulness that used to exist in Montreal that is no longer there. That is very sad too. With the clusterf@#$ season we're having with the Canadiens this year and the, some may say, mismanaging of the team, it makes me wonder how this has gone terribly wrong? Where are our standards of sports excellence that once permeated through everything that was done in the Montreal sports scene? At one time, the Expos were getting to be contenders, the Canadiens were Stanley Cup champs, and the Alouettes were Grey Cup champs.

How times have changed...

I'm also sad because Carter truly was one of the good ones. We're so lucky to have had him in our lives one way or the other.

"The Kid" with ever-present smile, congratulates Steve Rogers after a win during the '81 run. Pic courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

THANK YOU GARY!!!!!!!!!!! Mow 'em down trying to steal second in the Field of Dreams.


On a hockey note, the Habs plays the Dallas Stars tonight. Unbelievably, the Habs are still only 6 points out of the playoffs, but just to bring you back to reality, no team has made up such an amount of points to make the playoffs at this time of the year (post lockout). Good luck.

And the thrill that was Hal Gill is no more, off to Nashville for a draft pick and two prospects including Blake Geoffrion, the grandson of former Habs great Bernard "Boom Boom" Geoffrion. No pressure Blake...

Gee, we're sure cornering the market on players with French names that donm't speak a lick of French, eh? Rene Bourque, prospect Nathan Beaulieu, coach Randy Ladouceur, now Blake Geoffrion.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Give 'Em Credit

I'm proud of myself.

Yes. Proud of myself for not getting sucked into the hoopla and faux-hope of the Canadiens making the playoffs this year after they won four straight last week. Reality... it crashes right into your face. How's that for "...just the perfect amount of pepper?"
And now that I'm approaching the season with this new-found attitude, I'm actually enjoying it more. So back to that draft pick...

And maybe some trades? One point out of four is certainly not enough -- even if the Habs currently sit 6 points out of a playoff spot as I write this (Toronto is up 2-1 against Edmonton right now).

Up, up and away!? Even Dave Van Horne wouldn't have made that call on Pacioretty. Habs lost 4-3 in a shootout. 

After a missed opportunity to keep the ball rolling against the Hurricanes the other night give the Canadiens credit as they came back in the third period tonight to squeeze a point out against the Bruins before losing in the shootout. Ho hum. Price was beaten stick side. What else is new!? Most definitely the scouting report on him. "Psst: Go stick side on Pricer. Works everytime." Krejci did. Hit the post. Seguin made it count and the odd combination of Bourque-Pacioretty-Eller came up firing blanks.

Good to see Ryan White in the lineup at least. And he got in the middle of things with a scrap. Welcome back!!

Time is-a-tickin' on the 2011-2012 season, and that's a good thing at this point. Personally I'm ready to play golf. So who's gonna be dealt??

Everyone is saying Hal Gill and Travis Moen. Now Kostitsyn is in the mix but he always was. Now really, what are we going to get for a malcontent? A fifth rounder??? And I think at this point, we'll take a bag of stinky sox from anyone who wants to take Scotty Gomez. To quote Buffalo Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff from earlier this season: "It's a joke."

Which is a great segway to my conclusion. Brad Marchand. Clipping. Again!!! The guy is going to get his some day. At least Chara took a puck to the face tonight... Like I said "It's a joke."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

False Hope? Who Cares!?

Nothing better.

That's right folks. When the Habs win and the Leafs lose on the same night, that's always a good thing. And when it happens as a result of the Habs beating the Leafs, there's nothing better. Okay maybe when the Habs beat the Bruins, but last night's 5-0 blowout on Mats Sundin night couldn't have come at a better time for the Habs.

Tying a season-high fourth win a row, the Canadiens gave the Leafs a third loss in a row and kept their extremely slim playoff hopes alive. I dunno, I still want them to get a top pick, but you know if they can keep on winning I guess anything is possible. 

If anything at least the team is putting on a better show for its fans and that's what matters. Carey Price is playing really well and they're getting production from all four lines. 

Mathieu Darche scores the Canadiens' fifth goal last night in the Habs' 5-0 blowout against the Leafs in LeafLand last night. Ahh, that feels good. Pic: Claus Andersen/Getty Images. 

Even Scotty Gomez broke his year-long drought in this latest and all too rare win span. And although Scotty G. has steadfastly maintained his mantra that winning is more important that his personal stats, you have to think the guy must be relieved to have touched the twine for the first time since February 5, 2011.

In Long Island on Thursday night, Gomez got the game winner in a game that saw Max Pacioretty score his first career shutout. Leave it to Gomez to steal Pacioretty's thunder, but MaxPac didn't seem to mind. When Gomer scored, it was like the Habs just scored a Game 7 OT winner. RDS's Pierre Houde exclaimed with added gusto "Et le but....SCOTT GOMEZ!!!!!!!!"

The Habs bench rose like they won the cup. Gomez was hugged enthusiastically. And poor Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov. The guy looked up, saw that it was Gomez who scored then looked skyward as if to say "Oh no why me!?" -- rubbing salt in the wound that he was the goalie to let numero 11 break his goal scoring slump.

Turned out to be winning goal. Just goes to show you, Gomez's lack of offensive production is one of the keys to the Habs' off year.

Mazel tov Scotty G. It's over mon vieux. Now you can maybe start earning your keep? Pic: Jim MacIsaac/Getty Images.

So is it too late for this year's team!? Just when I throw in the towel and figure that they might as well give it up for the year and focus on getting that top pick, they start to play as a group and win games as a result.

I'm just going to keep on going with the reverse psychology. Lose Habs, lose!

And back to last night's game, I just love the way Ron Wilson calls out his goalie and his team -- no wonder players voted him the coach they'd least like to play for:

“Carey Price made all the stops and we didn’t get very many, so it made for a difficult night.”
Yeesh. When are you going to realize that James Reimer is totally overrated, plays too deep in his net, and on more nights than not, gets lucky!? Imagine, people have said Price is overrated. Haha.
As a HabFan in LeafLand, you gotta love the fact that in the pre-game Sundin ceremonies, it was all love and applauds for him and the Leafs. 40 game minutes later, the team was being booed off the ice from the same Toronto faithful.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shootout Win!? Oh Joy...

I enjoyed last night's game for once.  Not just because the Habs got 2 points against the Penguins. It was a good entertaining game regardless.

Both teams got good scoring chances and both goalies made great saves yet also let in ones they'd like back. There was good back and forth action and I liked the pace overall.

Of course entering the shootout, I expected the Habs to lose as has been the familiar refrain this year. All I asked for was for someone, anyone, to get at least one past Marc-Andre Fleury in defeat.

Tommy Plekanec scored the shootout winner and was last night's first star. Here he thanks Carey Price for following his advice and shooting to Fleury's stick side. 

And my wish was realized in the form of Rene Bourque who sniped a shot past Fleury's glove hand to give the Canadiens the lead. But then in the 2nd round, Evgeni (I'm money) Malkin pulled a spin-o-rama of his own to tie it all up.

Eventually, Lars Eller put the puck in. Then Chris Kunitz tied it up. Finally, in the 8th round, Tomas Plekanec -- who was stopped earlier in the game on a breakaway, put the puck home and Carey Price made the last save to give the Habs the 3-2 shootout win.


The funny thing of course is that ultimately -- dare I say it -- I want the Canadiens to lose.

Yes. Lose. Lose big even.

Because I want that top draft pick. I want it, want it, want it!!!!

Finish in the bottom five in the league. Please!!!!!! We're not going to make the playoffs. Please do not pull a Leafs-style late season run only to finish a few points short.

Of course you know now that I mentioned it, they'll probably do just that.

Habs visit the Islanders on Long Island tomorrow night.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Groundhog Day Habs Style

Yesterday was Groundhog Day. How fitting was that given the Canadiens did what they seem to be good at doing this year, over and over... and over? That is of course, losing a game where on 2 separate occasions they were up by 2 goals.

Punxsutawney Phil. This cute and well fed little critter saw his shadow yesterday. We saw the Habs's season go straight to the devil based on another repeat performance.

When will this stop? Certainly not this year. Yes, it's all about next year folks. I'm fine with it too. Sure I wanted to be bold and brash and be the first to predict a cup for our Canadiens this year, but hey, I'm not perfect. I'm the most American-Canadian you'll find. I sometimes shoot then ask questions. I like bourbon. And I don't like the winter...

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow when he crawled out of his burrow yesterday. Isn't he cuddly? He certainly looks well fed. Anyhow that means six more weeks of winter!!! Which might be a good thing for the Habs, they need all the help they can get because their summers are fast approaching.

But as I've written previously, a top-five pick is terrific news, especially since this team isn't that far off. Yes, I really believe that. Hey, just because things don't seem to be working doesn't mean it's blow-up time. A car can be in perfect working order but if a tire is flat it won't go anywhere.

So that's that. On the bright side, Louis Leblanc was called up last night and had a good game. All in all it was a bit of a strange one though. Bourque's shot hit Desharnais off his head for the first goal. Puck stopped right on the line for Price on a Kovalchuk backhand in the first period and somehow stayed out. Elias hit Blunden from behind and got fined today $2500. Blunden will probably be out awhile. P.K. Subban just drilled and I mean pasted Larsson and sent him back to his childhood. Price let in a total stinker that even I could've saved. Then the refs decided they had enough and didn't want to go to OT, so they ignored a blatant hooking call when Cole tried to clear the puck out of his zone which led to Parise's game winner.

Well at least Ryan White and Travis Moen are about ready to come back to action. Don't expect Markov to play this year.

Ho hum, c'est la vie. And that's the season folks. So now... who should we pick in the 2012 draft with our top 5 pick? More on that to come.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Top 5 Pick, Here We Come!!


No I'm not talking about me... well maybe a little bit. It's true. I'm wasted for having wasted my time watching last night's 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

What I mean is wasted (i.e. opportunity)... again! The Habs continue to waste any opportunities they have to crawl back into the playoff hunt.

Pricer had a solid outing for his team, but geez! Score some goals for the guy. Pic: Dario Ayala, The Gazette

Here they are, at home and fresh from the All-Star break. Everyone's happy and feeling good coming after 2 solid wins with the last being the 7-2 drubbing of the Red Wings. The team had an energetic practice, things were looking up. And then the game arrives...

What happened?

Well the Habs came out strong and took a 1-0 lead but then fell completely flat through the second period and gave up chance after chance until the Sabres were able to take the lead in the 3rd period and  never looked back.

Lack of intensity and desperation, Price says. Too many players playing from the sidelines.

But does this surprise anyone who's been following the team this year? You know what bothers me most? We're wasting terrific seasons from Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty. These guys have been great. MaxPac needs to work on his consistency but remember, just his first full year. Cole's signing was lambasted by many in the press and after a slow start, they looked right. But the guy has been pretty much Mnsr. Consistency from then on, and has also become the team's leader both on and off the ice. The guy tries hard. Where's that work effort from the rest of the team?

One of my fellow HabsFan in LeafLanders and I had a small agreement yesterday before the game: Habs win, they're going to make the playoffs. Habs lose, Habsnots!!!

My unfortunate yet precise prediction was that the Habs would indeed lose, just because each time this year they've had some momentum, then had a bit of a break, they've come out really flat to lose that next game. It's why they can't get on any sort of run. Everyone was saying after the Detroit win, too bad they had the All-Star break, just stalls their momentum. But you can't make excuses. Come on, the Sabres!? They're on a free-fall. They won only 1 of their last 8 away games for crying out loud. Tell you what. We're on a free-fall!!

But I don't think we need to blow up the team just because it finds itself in the bottom 5 of the league.

Good I say. But it is time for President Geoff Molson to enter the picture. Forget about the delusion of the playoffs. We can find our fun in watching the Leafs blow 4-1 leads like they did last night to the Pens and lose out on the playoffs by one point.

Yes Mr. Molson, you may just receive that letter I promised awhile back. Time to get things in order for the draft. That means letting Mr. Gauthier go and putting an able-bodied GM in his place.

Jeff Carter wants out of Columbus. Columbus wants out of the Jeff Carter contract. Let's take the chance and get rid of Gomez at the same time. Yah it's another silly contract -- but if you throw in that juicy number one pick this summer, it could be worth it.

Let's get that top 5 pick. The draft is going to be a good one, so why not? Even Director of Scouting Trevor Timmins probably wouldn't be able to botch that one up.

In the meantime, how about another trade? I got one for you: Let's swap a problem for a problem. Look we need to get rid of Scotty Gomez, right? Who by the way has a couple more kicks at the can before he can celebrate a full calendar year without scoring a goal. Columbus needs to get rid of party-boy and injury prone Jeff Carter, a guy who has offensive upside when he's engaged and healthy. So why not Gomez, Kaberle and Kostitsyn for Carter (who's currently hurt) and Columbus' 1st round pick in this summer's draft??? Which for all intent and purpose will either be 1 or 2.

Yes you heard me right, trade Kostitsyn. Look I love the guy, you all know that. But I don't want to see him leave for nothing. Carter's contract bites, but you know, it could be a gamble that pays off for the Habs, conditional on getting that 1st rounder.

Never happen you say? Just watch...

I deleted the "" above. Too Trudeau-esque.