Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sj v MTL - WIN 3-2


my predictions could not have been more wrong.

A very exciting game, and a stunning victory. This game is best summed up as a mirror of this season:
  • It started with a bang, and had expectations raised, fans stoked (3 goals in the first, and sharks looking weak).
  • After the Big Climax (all star game?) the team folds badly; letting in 2 easy looking goals and breaking the Faithful's spirit...
  • Followed by a jittery extremely tense and highly scrutinized 3rd. The Habs tightened the bolts, grit their teeth and took it, but with the help of Halak, won the game!
D'Agostini had a huge game, hitting, playing strong and skating well. He took the hits, and still delivered. Higgins and Pacioretty also skated really well. Markov and Schneider continued to be essential in Halak's success.

In the dog house? No one really. Habs had to play well to win, and everybody did. And the fans were huge also. Komisarek kinda struggled, needs to step up a bit and stop letting guys get away from him. And Lapierre was a ghost... but what can you do. If there were any holes, San Jose would have found them.

It wasn't a pretty win, and 48-21 the shots can't be something to be proud of, but this is exactly the kind of game that gets teams through the post-season: Edmonton and Calgary did this when they went to the finals. This is the kind of hockey that makes good playoff teams, believe it or not. Win unlikely games, a goalie you can lean on, trap it out, and score when you can. It won't win the cup, but might avoid a first/second round exit :)

So, there is a month to go and I hope they don't burn Halak out; because if they continue to improve, and feed off Halak like Boston fed off Thomas, then we might have a stew goin'.

One last word on Halak; he still is not technically perfect, obviously (rebounds! Halak-Attacks!) but he is playing a relaxed, focused game right now. And as long as he can keep making those saves when needed, he will be the battery to charge this team.

What a win!

SJ v MTL - Predictions

Oh yeah, before I forget - does anyone else find it funny that Philadelphia gave Briere so much money that they can't even play him?

Ok, on with tonight's game. Things are going well in Montreal -- they are winning games, their confidence has returned, players seem to be back on the program, the goaltending is strong and the powerplay is back on. Last night's win in Philly was big; v'ry nace.

But now they are dealing with the biggest monster in the west; San Jose. After watching them properly hand Boston their towels and say -- "shower's that way boys, the men need the ice to play hockey," back a few weeks ago, well, I don't have much hope for a team that got eaten alive out west.

Carbo has a bit of a challenge on his side; does he risk his current "hot hand" getting crushed by a formidable opponent? Or does he throw Price litterally, to the Sharks? Last I heard he is going to go with Jaro. I think this is a good call: he's earned the right to play, he might steal one, and it's a big game. But I'm also pretty sure that if the Habs do their best chum impression, Halak will get the hook pretty quick to save his confidence.

Pluses: Habs got the home advantage, and Joe Thornton has typically disappeared against Montreal. The fans will really have to be a 6th and 7th skater out there tonight.

Minuses: Back-to-back game, and unlike the Habs, when the Sharks shoot, they score. And they can even come back from a deficit aswell; so even if the Habs jump ahead, this won't be over early.

  • Canadiens LOSE 5-2.
  • Price sees some ice-time.
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Habs build a giant "cone of ignorance" in front of their net, and stiffle all the offence, ice the puck 300+ times, and manage to commit Grand Theft Win.
  • We see neither Kovalev or Thronton do anything tonight.
Nothing is known before time, which is why you play (or watch) the game... but its gonna have to be an awesome 60-minute performance from the boys in Blue-Blanc-Rouge to get this one: and I've seena lot of strong 1st periods, but not a lot of big 2nd & 3rd periods.

Honestly, I'm stoked to watch this game: it should be good, no matter what!

Game Tweets

I've been doing this for a few weeks now, and here are a few things I think I am going to change:
  1. Not every post will be prefixed with #habs. Since folks can't really just track a 'channel', embedding the #habs tag anytime its necessary is sufficient. Further, when I'm talking about the opposition, putting in the #habs tag doesn't make much sense.
  2. Reduce play-by-play comments. I found I would get pretty carried away, and start trying to call the game like a play-by-play -- as a result I feel like I am spamming those nice enough to follow me. I will try and cut down on the stuff that is "obvious" to those watching, but I would still like to provide solid updates to those away from the TV.
  3. I am gonna develop some nicknames for the players; I'm working on a list currently. I have to apologize for my shoddy name spellings; I feel like a typelexic Don Cherry.
And as I mentioned before, Daniel Bigras (@tricoloreca) is going to do the same thing in french, so the community is starting to build; hopefully it is useful to people, and not just sending their Twitter accounts into heart spasms. Also, (@canucksblog) is doing the same thing for the Canucks; and it was kinda cool to have a counter-commentator online :)

Any ideas on what you'd like to see in the tweets, let me know! I am happy to try and ajust.

MTL v PHI Game Summary

What a great win! 4-3 in OT, as the reports will tell you.

I unfortunately missed the start of the game, but did catch the last half. D'Agostini I noticed had a big game, and in general the CH where able to deal with the physical play of Philadelphia very well. Niittymaki played a good game, and has every right to be pissed with the loss.

Kovalev was getting mashed around, but there he was, 3-on-3 at the end, pulling a neat move to get some space, then laying a wonderful pass to Schneider, who finally tried a wrister instead of his slapshot; and it payed off. (Not that his slap shot was bad, just that Niittymaki had it tuned.)

Brisebois had a tough game, and we were lucky to get the penalty on little Stevie Upshall at the end -- don't expect that call in the post season. Not a lot of love the the Breezer tonight, lets see what he brings tomorrow (if anything).

What I saw was that the Habs were playing Ok, Halak was once again solid and in the zone, aggressively after the puck and reacting well to each shot (without over anticipating). Great game again for him. But Philly really had the better chances in the last half -- and I'd really like to see Montreal's offence kick it up a bit. They are working the puck well, but the scoring chances are not that dangerous.

Or maybe it just seems that way because everytime I saw Gagne skate in with Carter or Richards I had a Halak-Attack.

Anyhow, great win, and tomorrow's game should be fun.

And my fellow twitter-bug, twitter-tonian, twi... nevermind. Tricoloreca is gonna twit the games en francais -- and he called the winning goal! I am still trying to find my style, but that's for another post.

Till tomorrow.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Witt Gets 5 Games...

And Hagman gets "life without concussion free symptoms".

If you haven't see it, here is the hit, and TSN's report on the suspension.

So Witt gets 5 games for decapitating a guy, when he could have just as easily stolen the puck and had a breakaway (it was a weak play by Hagman, and Witt would have been off to the races). Terrible. A disgrace all over: the play, the fact it even happened in a "pro sport", and the response.

Avery gets rules written about his asinine behaviour, has to go to anger management, and demoted to the minors... this thug loses $74k and 5 games, and he's a repeat offender.

Don't blame the NHL for this one: blame the NHLPA, ironically. The NHL would love to send a message I'm sure, and suspend this guy for the year. They gave Tie Domi a worse punishment for this hit on Scott Niedermayer. But the NHL can't ruin a guys career: the NHLPA is protecting Witt, in this case, from losing his living. To Hell with the victim, its all about defending the perpitrator.

I think the NHLPA needs to examine its own purpose: "respect needs to come from the players" the old saying goes, and so maybe the player's union should step up, and allow the league to kick f^cktards like this out of the game, or drop him to the minors, or to anger management camp, or get him off the juice.

All this with the bug discussion about whether fighting should still be in the game. Get the priorities straight!

3rd Line C revolving door

So I saw Gainey got Glen Metropolit off waivers, probably as a "3rd Line Center." This continues the pattern of aging players taking on this key stabilizing role: Radek Bonk, Bryan Smolinski, and now Glen.

When we got Robert Lang at the beginning of the year (after finally giving up on Mats Sundin) I was a little surprised, knowing that Gainey liked, and had good success, with .. um ... "players past their prime" playing that 3rd line C role. They don't have to score, but they do have to shutdown the other team. And if they get a few, so be it.

Lang didn't fit the profile: he was old, but never a defensive force. And sure enough Lang became an offensive force, and was not expected to do anything in that 3rd line center position.

So Gainey has gone back to his roots with Metropolit. I think he'll fit in, but honestly I don't really remember him. I know he played in Boston, I remember the name and seeing him, but I can't tell you what kind of player he is -- but I do know what kind of player I expect.

Big picture: looks like Gainey traded Begin for Metropolit and a big defenceman (career minor leaguer, to prop up the Bulldogs). I'm ok with that; but it looks less likely now that there will be a big move by the deadline.

The CH are certainly an interesting collection of players, if not really a team you would consider a 'contender'.

Update: fans in the twitter-sphere are saying Metropolit is a big face-off guy. So that fits with the stabilizing role; lets hope these foundations bear fruit, and let the talent score. sore. soar. whatever. anyhow, check out tricoloreca.

So Long Stevie

We'll miss you!

I guess.

Hard to explain this trade, except that Begin was a UFA next year, and probably not going to be resigned. So Gainey "got what he could" for him I suppose, and did Dallas (his old club) a favour. I have no vision into what Doug Janik brings to the table... the Canadiens have lots of Defencemen. Maybe he is going to leverage Gorges or O'Byrne for something.

I always liked Begin's heart; he was a dedicated player for many years. Huge on the penalty kill, heart of stone, and unfortunately hands to match. I still remember when he out-raced the Leafs defence to the puck, short handed, and then deked a sprawling Belfour who was WAY out of his net... only to hit the post on the empty cage. That pretty much sums up Begin for me. I was a big fan, but knew he wasn't ever going to be a big goal scorer.

And then in the last cople years, this year included, it seemed as though Steve had lost a step. He was no longer the hungry forward he once was, he stopped winning those battles and blocking shots and really kinda disappeared into the background. Maybe being unsigned kind of took the wind out of his sail.

Anyhow, I'll miss the Steve Begin of old, and wish him all the best in Dallas. With Tangauy coming back, it ensures that D'Agnostini and Pacioretty can stay up.

As for Dandenault, I will be much sadder to see him go. Another awesome team player, accepting any role he was given. He was definitely one of the heart-and-soul players, giving everything he had on his shifts. He was trying to lead by example and get the team out of its slump on that horrendous road trip. I think his playoff experience is very desirable as well; it helped them in game 7 v. Boston last year, to be sure.

I know he was largely marginalised by Schneider coming on, and Gainey has almost too much depth on D. But whereas Begin kinda faded for me, Dandenault seemed to step up.

Maybe Bob is just doing another favour for a hard working player he has no intention of re-signing, but personally I feel better with Dandenault on the team than off. I guess we'll see what we get for him.

Update: Dandenault continues to be a positive team player. What a great attitude! I hope we keep him.

images courtesy of CBC and

MTL v PHI - Predictions

Well, I was happy to see the win against Ottawa, and didn't get a chance to write down my predictions for the Vancouver game. I think the team is feeling pretty good about itself right now, but Philly seems to have found some steam of their own.

This one is hard to call -- but I'm gonna go with:

  • Montreal LOSE 5-4
  • Schneider gets another point on the Power Play
  • Briere has a big game (he's back, right?)
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Habs squeek out a W

Sorry, this one is just too close for me to get a real feel for. I do hope the CH can win, but they are going to have to have a strong game.

Update: Looks like Briere and Biron are out tonight, according to this report. So it looks like the Habs have a good chance of winning tonight. I'd change my prediction, but that wouldn't really be a prediction, would it?

Still, Habs have a good chance tonight. Lets see them pull it off.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2008/2009: what's remaining

So it has been ultra slow on Habs news lately -- everyone seems to be catching their breath. Fair enough; calm after (and before?) the storm. I'm gonna take this shot at looking at what is left of the season, and seeing where Our Hockey Club might see some light, and some troubles.

End of February: back to back games, Philly and San Jose. I see the Philly game as big, as they are about equal to the Habs in the standings. Its also the last game between these 2 teams before the post-season, so the Habs could use a big win. San Jose, on the other hand, has been crushing the empty beer cans that is the Eastern Conference, so if the good guys are gonna win, they'll have to steal one. At gun point. With a hostage. And a rocket-powered getaway car.

Early March: March starts with a 3-game road trip. Although the habs have been 'Valari Zelepukin' on the road this year, its their last set of consecutive away games -- if they are going to figure out how to win on the road, bond as a team, play without their fans, etc... then this is it. Buffalo - Atlanta - Dallas: all good enough teams to beat a sub-par performance. If the Canadiens want to go anywhere in the playoffs, they will have to win on the road.

Next they get a chance for vengence on Edmonton, Sourray returns to Montreal, and this is a game they should win. Follow that with the Islanders and then Big Bad New Jersey (at home, though), and the Habs have a tough-but fair schedule; perfect for getting ready for the post season, and also a proving ground to see if they deserve to be there.

Mid-End March: Rangers, Ottawa, Toronto -- Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Chicago. Only 1 away game. This is easy: the home team has to win. They'll need to assert their dominance over these 'lesser' teams, earn the points, and bury the hangers on. If they go .500 in this stretch, expect to either miss the playoffs, or end up in a lucky 7/8 spot. Chicago will be their toughest match, by far, but all these teams have proven that they love playing against Montreal, and step up their game (especially Tampa Bay, with StLoo and The Cavelry).

This is when we'll see if the Canadiens are gonna be a contender, or an after thought.

April and Beyoooond: Ok, not much for beyond -- I am not going to even pretend to have playoff expectations or predicitons until its on.

Islanders, Toronto, Ottawa, Boston, Pittsburg. 4 away, 2 at home. Well, if March goes badly, there is still hope in an 'easy' schedule. 3 big rivalry games to test the mettle of our team, and to once again show (or no-show) their playoff grit. With TO and OTT out of the playoffs, they might dial it in, but I wouldn't count on TOR being a pushover. Boston will be an exciting away game (especially since they've owned us this year) and Pittsburg; Sidney loves playing here. And if they are still in the race, MTL could have their hands full.

If March goes well, then there is a potential for a letdown here: and I certainly hope that doesn't happen. Any kind of meltdown, collapse, frustration will really rust the foundation of the team when it needs to be at tis strongest. And the fans hate to lose to these rivals -- so if these games do not go well, I fear for the club in the post season.

The last game of the season is not against Toronto, thank goodness. Those games are always too intense.

Any thoughts on the last 500m to the season's finish line?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

VAN v MTL recap: W 3-0

There isn't too much to say on this one: except Jaroslav Halak! He was the story, beginning, middle, and end.

Both teams played well; the CH getting their 2 goals, and Vancouver coming close so many times and generating great offence. Luongo played a strong game; no shame in the ones he let in.

But Halak has got to be the no. 1 goalie in Montreal now; until he falters with several bad games in a row, he has got to be the man. He has the team playing with confidence, is making saves he has no business making, and inspiring his team to play better. Halak was good, the defence played strong for him. Why change? No point in messing with the team's head and dropping in Price now; its gotta be Halak all the way, until someone punches holes in that plate armour Halak has on.

Oh yeah, and some offence would be good. No way anyone can be happy with 16 shots; 4 in the third! They gotta stop making it so hard for Halak with penalties and no offence; or they'll burn him out, and they'll be back where they started.

Play Halak until he breaks; and when he does (if he does) the Price can come back in and be a hero.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Goaltending Rebound

Funny thing with goalies; although they really need to be the foundation of a team, providing composure, stability and confidence to the club to perform, a goalie by themselves is nothing. A goalie alone wins nothing; and any good goalie will tell you that.

Goalies need their team to force shooters to take bad shots; goalies need their team to let them see the shots, and most of all the goalie needs the Defence to cover his ass when there is a rebound or a bobble or a redirection.

What we've seen in Halak's 40+ performances is that even though he is coughing up pucks like my dog in a hockey rink (where did she even get that?), the Habs defence are bailing him out. They are playing tight on him, beating up the other team, and making sure that if there is a second shot, its pretty piss poor, and if it bounces out too far, they clear it. In other words, for Halak, the team is playing for him. Halak is definitely a better rebounding goalie, playing the fact he is gonna give up the rebound, and therefore in position -- but his team knows it too.

No so much for Price. What you see with him is, when he bounces the puck out, the D has no clue; and it usually ends up in the net. Price isn't getting the same support as Halak in net -- why not?

Have his team mates bought into the Price hype, and simply expect him to be amazing? "why would he let out a rebound, he's Carey Price." Or...

Is it the opposite? Are they somehow pissed off with the kid, and not standing up for him? Maybe there is some dressing room crap, or attitude crap, I dunno, but they defintely don't play the same in front of Price as they do for Halak.

Price's style has always been very calm and low-rebounding. So maybe they just aren't expecting to have to cover his ass like they do for Halak -- but I do know this: if we want to see Carey Price be the goalie we want him to be, (or just get his GAA around 2 again) then the defence has to start being consistant no matter who is in the pipes; give Price the same respect (fear?) they give Halak.

Its a 2-way street. You need your goalie to be huge, and the defence need to make sure the goalie doesn't get thrown under the bus. Halak should probably start the majority of the games for the next couple weeks, he deserves it, and we'll see if Price starts getting the same play from his D; and then maybe he can start making saves and not letting in 5+ per game.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

OTT v MTL - finally, a good win! Summary

Ok, just a quick summary:
  • Nice to see Kovalev respond positively: 3 points! Hope he keeps it up
  • Halak facing that many shots is his own damn fault: so so many rebounds. But, would you prefer Halak's rebounds or Price's Goals Against? (zing!)
  • Habs once again got tired in the third; Sens were able to draw penalties and get good chances. The CH have got to clean that up.

Geez, thank goodness they won. And a good win.

Its Us Against the World...

Well, the Canadiens are certainly playing in a different environment today then they were in January.

What went from a fairly successful hockey club, riding the enthusiasm of the fans to victory, is now a team attacked from all sides. This article by Dave Stubbs in the Gazette outlines the frustration: the fans, organization, city, province and very Habs culture are embarrassed and shameful. The rest of the hockey world is laughing their ass off, pointing and snickering; the only thing richer than 100 years of Montreal Canadiens successes, is watching them fail. If last season was a gift to the fans, so far the Centennial is a gift to the detractors.

So, party is over. No body loves me, everybody hates me. Its gut check time, and this can actually be a good thing. The coaches should feed on this, I think, and put the team back together. When attacked from all sides, its time to band together and focus on the hockey. Habs are still a good team, and if they take the 'to the devil with it all' attitude and start playing for eachother, start sacrificing -- not for Guy Lafleur, but for themselves -- the team will bond, and I believe they can turn into a great hockey story.

History has shown the the Montreal Canadiens usually respond poorly from this kind of atmosphere -- like a mountain getting eroded by a rough sea, eventually there is nothing left to fight. But there is one month of hockey left; then maybe a post season. The pride in that room should be able to step up, and win not for all the bullshit, but for themselves. They are now underdogs, expected to f#ck off and die. Never fight an enemy with nothing to lose.

Could be a great story for the 100th year; or it could just slide into the ocean and be fogotten just as easily.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Early Predictions, OTT v MTL

I will be skiing at Gray Rocks tomorrow during the game (although it starts at 3, might get to see it) but I'll drop my predictions now.

So my last post of A Tale of Two Cities, where I mentioned the 2 biggest teams in the East trying to solve their problems in different ways; Pens fired the coach, Habs fired the players (and went shopping). Well, arguably the 3rd biggest flop in the East is Ottawa, and they've done both! New coach, and now, new (returning) player in Mike Comrie. So they have to win, right?

I disagree.

  • The Montreal Canadiens will (explitive deleted) win this game, so help me.
  • Kovalev will get at least 1 point
I Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • The tailspin continues, and
  • The fans riot, tearing the Phone Booth down brick by brick, and re-enact the 1976 season with the various pictures as cutout from around the building while it burns!
I'm bummed I'm missing Hockey Day in Canada with my buddies; normally we camp out at our local bar and get wicked sauced while watching all three games, then celebrate with a feast of Chinese food on Spadina. But skiing is fun too.

Also, I am not endorsing a riot. Don't riot on my account. Do it for yourself. No, wait, don't even do it for yourself.

What's the Big News?

La Presse is reporting that it had some huge, shocking devastating news with regards to the Montreal Canadiens... so what was it?

My French isn't perfect, but apparently Andre and Sergei Kositsyn were cozy friends with a bit of a gangster (Hells Angels) Pasquale Mangiola. The story says the cops have many tapes of phone calls between the three, and that they hung out in the bars and clubs together, and Mangiola was around the Bell Centre 'back stage' and such.

Allegedly the Kostitsyn's went through Mangiola whenever they needed something; vodka, luxury cars, or sexy ladies (oo-la-la!). Mangiola either had their credit cards, and bought stuff for them, or helped them get credit cards and then bought stuff for them (that part I'm not clear about).

At any rate, it really seems like Mangiola was "taking care" of the brothers K, and that they went to him for everything they needed. Apparenlty Hamrlik also liked the sound of this, and was beginning to rely in Mangiola in the same way.

Oh yeah, and Mangiola was busted in a cocaine smuggling operation... so... that's bad...

As of yet, the Kostitsyns (and Hamerlik) have not been implicated in anything.

MTL v PIT L 5-4 summary

Ok, I missed the game live because I was out enjoying some beers. Looks like Plekanic had a big game! And that was cool, and Schneider got another PP goal (yeah, 5-on-3, but if you knew the Habs record 5-on-3 to date it almost makes it more impressive). So positives again... but...

Zut Alors I am disappointed! I really wanted this crap session to end with a positive! A proper Win! Everything was in place, except... habs lost.

I'll let more clever people then I tear apart the players, coaches, GM, ghosts, pucks, refs, sahdes of the moon and whatnot. I just give up -- can't see it anymore. Maybe its the sacrifice Lafleur was talking about, but I dunno -- 4 good goals and you still lose...

  • Plekanic had a good game
  • Schneider continues to be the big presence Gainey wanted.
  • Price lets in another 5 goals; despite looking pretty good in net. I gotta blame the skaters on this one, not that it helps any. Press will focus on the kids numbers.
  • F@#k Hamerlik. Press box that bitch and put Brisebois back in. If benching Kovalev doesn't help that guy, maybe a few games off will. Not that it needs to be so dramatic as all that.
My predictions were way wrong. Looks like I was an idiot on this one. Damn, what a let down.

Update: just checking the stats: Hamrlik, Higgins and D'Agistini were -3... but my main man Schneider was -4! booo! ... ah screw it, I still think Hamrlik sucked the worst.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

MTL v PIT Predicitons

Ok, I am claiming semi-victory for my last prediction; I predicted a regulation tie, and an overall loss by the Habs. I missed the score by 1 goal, and didn't think it would get to the shootout. Also, Green didn't score. Therefore: I'm a genius.

  • Habs WIN 3-2
  • Crosby gets 2 points
  • Stewart gets his first NHL goal (bold!)
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Plekanec slew-foots someone again
  • This game is really tight and boring
So, let's see the gravey. And make sure it don't have no lumps.

A Tale of Two Cities... MTL v PIT

So tonight there is another match between the 2 most broken teams in the Eastern Conference: Pittsburgh and Montreal. These two teams were supposed to be 1-and-2 in the East; instead they are caca-and-poopoo.

The interesting bit is how they tried to solve their problems: Pittsburgh went the "Fire the Coach" route, Montreal went the "Trade for an (x)All-Star" route.
  • Both teams have suffered major injuries. Gonchar & Whitney for the Pens, plenty in Montreal.
  • Both teams lost key players in the off-season Pittsburgh is still crying over Hossa, and Malone turned out to be pretty key also. Streit was big on the Power Play, but no one seems to be lamenting the loss of Smolinski for Tanguay or Lang.
  • Both teams have under-performing stars. Well, Montreal certainly. But it has been shown that the powerhouse of Malkin and Crosby cannot carry the team (no.1 and no.2 in league scoring?!?); because they aren't on the ice for 60-minutes. Jordan Staal, Satan and Sykora (and arguably whitney since he got back) have not covered the slack.
So, both teams are desperately trying to regain some form in order to make a serious run at the cup; and both teams have some serious soul searching and on-ice work to do. Which method will pay off? Who is more suited to make it into the playoffs, and do well?

Maybe we'll get lucky and they'll play eachother first round (as 4-5) so we can find out.

MTL v WAS summary

If there is such thing as a good loss, this was a stellar example.
  • Habs Power Play came alive,
  • Higgins, Komisarek, Price, Plekanec, Kostitsyn got their grooves back,
  • New acquisition (Schneider) made his mark.
I thought all lines played well; if I had to pick a couple goats I'd say Hamrlik, Laraque and Tommy K . TK just looked slow out there to me, but others said he had a good game, so maybe the Molson is getting to me. Theo played a great game too, so getting the 1 point was a very positive sign.

But that's the problem when you try to hold a 1-goal lead; a crazy bounce can turn the tables. I got the feeling that if OT kept going, the CH would have pulled out the win.

I will temper this enthusiasm with one observation: its good to be back in the East. Washington definitely does not forecheck like the Western Conference teams, and certainly realied very very heavily on its massively talented group. But even Washington, Pierre McGuire's new catch-cloth (if you'll pardon the expression), would get eaten alive by those hungry Westerners.

Play that same game in Pittsburg, dispite Crosby / Malkin, and we should see a WIN. And then another, and another, and another (then a break) then another...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MTL v WAS Predictions

Ok, so here are my predictions once again for tonight's game. (I was right about the Vancouver game, so lets see if I can go 2-fer-2)

  • 5-4 Loss in Overtime
  • Mike Greene does NOT score
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Matt Schneider gets 0 points
  • Plekanic has multiple point game
  • Semin and Ovechkin eat Habs alive, and it doesn't even get to OT

Ok, these are not the most entertaining predictions.

Also, I will be calling the game but might not be around for the finale; got my own league game tonight.

Trade rumour: Kovalev for Jordan Staal?

Ok, I made it up. But here is the rationale:
  1. Both are under performing
  2. Habs needs a big 3rd line center, and need some youth back.
  3. Pens need a veteran, and someone to score off Crosby's passes so malkin can go back to a different line
  4. a-la-Schneider, Kovalev has played in Pittsburg, and might mesh well with the young super star Malkin
So, there. Perfect trade. Thoughts?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dad Says "Party's Over!"

Like kids in a basement being too rambunctious, Dad came down, raised his voice, and flicked the lights on and off. He called some of the kids' parents to come pick them up, and settled the rest of the group down.

Gainey rolled in like thunder today, and like a strong father figure layed out some discipline, harsh but fair. The message is simple: you have embarrassed me, you have let me down, and your dicking around stops here. The coaching staff and the organization are bigger than you, so smarten up!

Honestly, I thought Kovy should have "had an upper body injury" a while ago, take a few days off, but was hoping with the small shake up he'd respond. Looks like Father Gainey wasn't interested: there is no faking this, dude is benched. Not even in the press box. OUCH!

The audio interview is hilarious, and definitely the euphemism of the year. Listen to it here, of course:

Personally, I think its awesome.

Personally, I really hope it works. I want to see Kovy back, and I want to see Sergei back aswell, playing their best.


I believe this is called a conditioning stint.

Gainey to Andre Kostitsyn: "We have your brother. He is fine, for now. Please deliver another 20 goals, or we'll send your brother's Canadien's Jersey home to Belarus in pieces."

Grabovski must be giggling like a little girl in his Blue-and-Whites. (Because he is a little girl.)

Ok, that might be a little cruel to the Kostitsyns. I bet we'll see SK back in time for the next Toronto game, March 21st.

And I hope everyone gets the message.

A (more) Sober Reflection

Ok, I shook off the haze of the fact Montreal actually made a trade I liked and would like to provide a more sobering look at Matt Schneider.

He brings a successful veteran presence and a known Hab back to the fold; but at 39, he is not going to replace anyone (which is a good thing). It will take some time for him to fit into the current system (is there a current system?) and get used to his mates; so I don't expect magic from him for at least a week. Hopefully he can take some pressure off Komisarek and Gorges, who are playing well, but shouldn't play like the world is on their shoulders.

Markov and Hamerlik still need to pick up their games. Markov should still be considered the #1 D-man, and the foundation of the defence. Markov is still the future of this club on D, and at 39 Schneider cannot replace Markov. Hopefully this addition does not (continue?) to knock Markov off his game (He's definitely off his game now, I'm hoping he settles).

As far as leadership, again, I hope Kovalev doesn't feel pushed out. This team, with all its young Russians, thrives when Kovalev is leading. Ideally getting Kovalev another "all-star" to play with helps him step up and puffs his chest a bit.

I hope this doesn't turn into what happened with Stephan Ritcher, or Turgeon, or all the other Habs who come back to the rink: they struggle early, the press hounds them, they lose heart, and plop. Another one in the porcelain bowl. I've seen it happen a lot; I'm hoping we don't see it here.

I'm a big fan of Schnieder (surprise!) and am really hoping he can help the other players get their groove.

Also, looks like Gainey felt bad for breaking poor Boone's spirit, and listened to him. I give Mike Boone full credit :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Habs Aquire Schneider, I crap myself with happiness

TSN and of course The Gazette are reporting my dream trade: Montreal Canadiens (re)Aquire Mathieu Schnieder.

Back in the summer I was hoping beyond hope that Gainey would pick up Schneider; instead he ended up in bogus Atlanta, and we landed Robert Lang. I thought it was way bad; but I'll eat my own medicine, Lang turned out pretty good. But the loss of Souray and Streit really had me digging for Schneider.

Lets review:

  • Was a Hab for 1993 cup. (1987-1995)
  • Played amazing in Detroit w/ Lindstrom (I know, he helped me win my hockey pool).
  • Despite being 2nd tier defence in Anaheim, still got the points.
  • Provides the Habs with veteran MONTREAL experience, and experience from the best system currently active in the NHL (damn you Detroit).

Geez, he's already on the Montreal Canadiens Website!

I honestly thought that after the summer we'd never get him. But I am stoked he's back. Hopefully he fits in and really makes the difference we need him to.

This is the f**king Catalina Wine Mixer!
This is f**king Matt Schneider!

Boone has a bad day...

Yikes! Looks like Mike Boone finally snapped! Poor guy. He was one of the reporters "towing the company line" -- but now it looks like the fans who contribute to the site have finally got to him.

My Super Awesome Genius Solution
Ok, the 'suck bug' went up the 416 from Ottawa and nestled quite nicely into the Bell Centre -- no ghosts are gonna kill this infection. Only one thing to do as a team: sweat it out.

Carbo has got to keep skating his team (90 minute practise with rookie skating drills). They want to play like rookies? Treat them like one. Gainey should try and sign Kovalev to a 2-yr deal, then make a trade for a player to either get the PP in order, or a pride-filled finisher. (who that is, is another post).

Consider Boone's points:

Fire Guy Carbonneau: Come on -- this is not the answer. Carbonneau needs to keeps skating his team; give him a chance to turn it around. He still has a killer winning record with the club -- firing the coach is a ridiculous move -- its not like we're Pittsburgh.

Make a minor trade that will bring in a hard-ass. Nice idea; but not really that easy. We have enough grinders, we have enough underperforming 'skill' -- but you are right, we need a leader, and a finisher. If you bring in a Hard Ass, as you say, you will lose Kovalev and the rest of the Russians for sure. Its why Sourray left the team: he saw the writing on the wall. No one wants to listen to a english Hard Ass in that dressing room. You'd get Ka-chunk and immediately delcare him to be in a slump, where is his form, etc...

Admit that the fifth year ... is an abject failure Last I saw we aren't in last place, and still above .500. Grow up: you can't win them all.

Stand pat: Yup, you're right, its probably what Gainey will do, and it probably won't work.

An entire forward line is missing. But the absence of Alex Tanguay, Saku Koivu and Christopher Higgins – touted as the team's number-one line this season – didn't prevent the Canadiens from winning games in December and January.
Doesn't that point to good coaching? If you are gonna crap on the coach when he fails, praise the coach when he succeeds.

Does this team have a forechecking system? If so, why can't the players execute it?
Work work work. Carbo tried the easy route with his injury rattled team; he's got them practising hard now, and if he keeps it up, we'll see results in time to make the playoffs, and win. Players are checking with 1 hand on the stick and taking dumb penalties; they gotta get the lead out. Its a long season, they are tired, but they can only skate it out.

The Power Play: Crap since the Boston and Phladelphia series – when, you may recall, Mark Streit was still playing the right point.
You bet, no question here. Losing Streit hurt a lot, and the young core have not been able to fill the gap. And Markov looks dead.

Mistakes: The same ones over and over and over again.
Goes to confidence, and confidence comes from the legs. The players are surpirsed to get the puck; stop moving and have no ideas. But if they skate they get time with the puck, and their brains starts working. If they have no fear of getting out skated, then they can start playing again.

Grit deficiency: Why do opposing teams' fourth lies pound the snot out of the Canadiens in every game?
Yup. But grit means more than just Tommy K and George Laraque; real grit means finishing the play and scoring goals: like Lucic and Kreijkec and Malone, and Getzlaf...

Too many soft players: Would Tomas Plekanec have made a difference last night?
No, it would have been worse because Higgy might have seen less icetime. Pleks is trying, but having a bad year. Too much energy spent in the wrong places.

The All-Stars: Carey Price, Andrei Markov, Mike Komisarek and Alex Kovalev have been horrible since that magical night that ended with Kovy scoring the winner and blowing kisses to his adoring fans.
You bet. The All-Star game is all about coasting and scoring easy goals. Your super-stars get spoiled, your goalie gets shelled.

Centennial BS: Tell the truth now: Didn't you just know the season was lost when the Canadiens wore Cirque de Soleil costumes to play the Boston Bruins?
If it makes you feel better, let's blame a sweater (which they only wore once).

Unsigned players: The pet theory of my guru, Pierre McGuire. It has to weigh on their minds. And as Réjean Tremblay pointed out in a recent column, it turns potential UFAs and RFAs into "PME"s (petites et moyennes entreprises).
Yeah, I'll buy that. Kovalev showed what he can do when he feels like he fits and is part of the puzzle. Dumping Sourray was a clear sign it was his team (despite Koivu wearing the C) -- and maybe he feels like he's done anyway, so he thinking where he's gonna play next year. If thats the case, move him on out! From a hockey pool point of view, players in a contract year usually outperform themselves; but too many uncommitted players might have everyone feeling like its not their team anymore.

Habs v Nuks - L 4-2

Whoa, I called the score!

Anyhow, here are the summary thoughts:

If there is such thing as a good loss, this was one. The team worked hard, showed some pride, tried to come back. There is still room for improvement, obviously, but there was heart in that game. If Carbo keeps working them hard in practise, we'll see results.

Higgins played well, but showed he still has room to improve to get back into his old form; the young line of Lapierre, D'Agnostini and Pacioretty worked real hard, but had no finish. Koivu was his old self, but Kovalev was still absent.

At the end of the day, the Habs played like a 11-to-8th place team; they still could not handle big lines and skilled puck carriers. But it looks like they'll get a shot at shutting down Ovechkin and Semin next; so hopefully they have some more big practises and continue this (more positive) swing -- and start winning their games.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Habs v Nuks: predictions

I might be a bit late twitting the game tonight; I have a game of my own at 9pm.

Based on nothing, here we go:


  • Habs lose 4-2.
  • Kovalev scores 1 goal
  • Sundin continues his current hot-streak and eats Habs alive

Wouldn't be surprised if...

  • Halak gets chased from his net in another meltdown
  • Or, conversely, Habs steal another win

Not very committed to my predictions, am I?

A Response...

CBC's Elliot Freedman put together a great article on how Price can get his groove back

All good advice! And a reminder to fans that Price s still 21; and in a town where lighting has struck twice with rookie goaltenders, reality has to be realised that its not really how things work anymore.

Tugnutt said... “He’s not reacting. It’s more like he’s predicting everything. On one play, the puck was down below goal-line, and he’s already on his knees. What’s he doing?

“Players can anticipate a few plays ahead. Wayne Gretzky was such a great player because he could always go where the puck is going before it got there, but for goalies that doesn’t happen because it can make you look bad.”

This is by far the most accurate observation. At first Price was trying too hard to make the save, and not reacting but predicting. Even in my crummy beer league where I play, that's the worst mistake I can make. Then in Edmonton, Price tried changing his style to be more like Tim Thomas -- big mistake. Price has never been a scrambly goalie, and it showed -- he looked like a first timer out there.

I believe the only mistake Gainey has made as GM was trading Huet. Huet was like Price; plays best when he is cool, unshakable, and relaxed. If Price ever struggled, he could look to the play of the veteran -- and they could feed off each other. Now there are rumours of getting Giguere for the playoffs; and sure, the reasoning is sound (doubt they can get him now though) but its a backwards move; keeping Huet would have been better. Gainey bet the farm too early on Price; simply because he is still developing.

Look at Fleury in Pittsburgh; took him 3-4 years to settle down and start playing like a real NHL goalie.

Anyhow, good luck kid. In MTL, you're gonna need it.

From Red Fisher at the The Gazette
Yes, Price at 21, is young. He merits some slack, but the last time I looked, a 20-year-old named Steve Mason has an NHL-leading seven shutouts.

I love Red; by far the best hockey writer there is. But this comparison is bogus; you put Steve Mason in a Habs sweater, and he crumbles like a stale cracker. Mason isn't winning any cups or division titles.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kovalev should have been a goalie

I was reading a friends post about Team Canada's 2010 Goalies and got to figuring... Kovalev should have been a Goalie!

Here is my evidence:

  • He is moody, mysterious, and unpredictable.
  • He loves the spotlight.
  • His brilliance can inspire a team, and absence drag a team into despair.
  • He loves to hold onto the puck.
  • He doesn't like to skate much.
  • He doesn't like getting hit.
  • He can dazzle with the puck.
  • His performance alone can get coaches fired.

Any other additions? I love his new nickname: The Artiste. So appropriate.

If Halak crumbles, and Price continues his bi-polar play, maybe Kovalev should strap on the pads!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Habs v Avs W 4-2

My first twitter experience calling the game; here's my summary:

Carbo wanted goaltending, he finally got it! Halak steals the game! And good for him.

Habs couldn't win a faceoff, and completely left the building for 35 minutes after the first period.

Dandineault deserves an honourable mention.

Love him or hate him, Tucker knows what he's doing. He got a lot of anger focused at him, and drew a penalty with just 30s left. Too bad Tommy K curled in an empty netter from his own blue line.

An Idea

So Habs Twit is an idea I am trying; I'd like to tweet about the games I watch and send comments out there.

But I am not sure what it should be yet:
* targeted for people who are watching the game also, or for those not near a TV?
* keep the posts fewer but bigger picture, or rapid and current?