Tuesday, March 31, 2009

CHI v MTL - Predictions

Some of these dudes are even wearing the Heritage Toques. Nice!

Tonight's game at the Bell Centre will feature some of the game's top young talent, and an original six franchise finally on the rebound after years in the cellar. The Canadiens will be there too, hopefully. And to honour Chicago's mighty return, the Canadiens are gonna wear their goofy 'barber pole' jerseys (so I heard).

Is it hard to play with dignity when you clash with even the ice?

Cristobal Huet comes back to play the Habs -- knowing his personality as I do, he is neither excited, nor nervous, and barely concious. But he will play well -- so the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge better be shooting straight; that is, if their brains don't explode from visual over-stimulation.

The Blackhawks have been up-and-down as of late, dropping one in Edmonton, getting shutout a few times, but winning close ones against the Devils and San Jose Sharks.

(on a side note, I love how old standard definition TVs can't handle the stripy lines on these jerseys and end up barfing out a bunch of noise.)

Also, I think the Habs are 0-9 with throwbacks this year. I made that stat up. It felt good.

  • Montreal LOSE 3-2
  • a Hab will end up injured. (what a horrible thing to predict, but with these jerseys I see the players being distracted)
Wouldn't be surprised if....
  • Carey Price shuts the door on Chicago; stoked to out-play Huet and the young talent that he know doubt already knows well - Toews, Kane, Sharp, Keith, and the oh so impressive (if in name only) Butt-Byfuglien.
  • Habs play their second last home game strong, knowing they stink on the road.

Once again, best of luck to the boys! With 2 young teams and competitive goalies, this could be another very exciting game, and I am looking forward to it, win or lose.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

BUF v MTL - SO LOSE 4-3 Summary

There isn't too much to say on this one; it was an excellent game by both sides, and in an over-over-over-time shootout, they sent out Toni Lyndman, and we sent out Maxim Lapierre. Lyndman, with 3 goals on the year, kept it simple and buried one 5-hole. Lapierre tried everything but doing Miller's taxes, and fooled no-one.

The Habs played a great first period, but ended up down 1-0 after a Sabres Power Play goal (which was technically just as the penalty to Kovalev ended.) Early in the second, Buffalo scores another one, and most Habs fans begin to see another disappointment forthcoming...

Then Earth Hour starts, 8:30-9:30, and the Habs start lighting the lamp! Higgins gets the team rolling again, and Kovalev pots 2 on the power play (one off tarrific work by Koivu, another 5-on-3 from a slap-pass by Schneider.) Suddenly, its 3-2 with 20 mins to go!

Unfortunately the lights came back on, and despite getting a few more power play opportunities, the Habs couldn't finish.

Price played a terrific game; he can't be blamed for his goals against, as they were scored by unmarked players on top of the crease. He made several excellent, heart stopping saves through traffic and off wild bounces and plays, bailing out his defence repeatedly. Then again in the shootout to stop the flash offence of Buffalo... he did everything he needed to to win. Too bad the team couldn't get one past Miller.

The Good
The Canadiens played well start to finish. Higgins continued to shine, as did his line. The no.1 line delivered, and Price was great.

The Bad
I love Markov, but keep him away from the press :) He had a rough night, with turnovers, unmarked coverage, and dropping it on net a few times. D'Agostini disappeared, I dunno if he was hurt or benched -- but for a while Kovalev was double shifting.

The Ugly
With D'Ags out, and Kovalev taking long shifts, double shifts, the chemistry for the CH melted down a bit. Defensively it wasn't an aweful game, but it wasn't good. All the goals were preventable with proper defensive coverage, whether from the D-men themselves or from a back-checking center.

Both Miller and Price played great in the shootout; but Miller definitely got into the heads of the CH shooters, and by the time Lapierre had to win it, it was finished before Laps touched the puck.

A good loss, the 1 point keeps us ahead of Florida (by 1 point) and a very interesting week coming up! No reason to hang our head on this one.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

BUF v MTL - Predictions

Thought Montreal was the only team to get slapped around by the bottom of the barrel teams? Detroit lost 2-0 to the Islanders last night. For at least we are in good company.

Tonight's game setup is simple enough: Buffalo desperately wants into the playoffs, and are boosted by the return of Miller. Miller had the team rockin' just before he got hurt, and the only reason Montreal still has 8th is because Florida can't keep it together, and Buffalo had Lalime in net.

Buffalo rolled over Curtis Joseph early yesterday, and despite a late surge from the Leafs, got a convincing win. Their confidence is high, their desire strong... and Montreal is really just started to feel the positive of their play.

Here is the story for me though: Montreal lately has definitely not been able to match the intensity of other geared up teams. Montreal hasn't done well in big games on Saturday Nights. Last time we saw Miller play Price, one looked playoff ready, the other dazed and confused. In that order.

I love to see Buffalo go down... Lindy Ruff drives me nuts... but I have to admit that they love to beat Montreal, especially in games that matter.

  • Montreal LOSE 5-3
  • A fairly open and aggressive 1st period, but les Habs are too easy to shut down lately.
  • Montreal's top line goes without a point.
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Ok, the no.1 line gets at least one of the goals, early.
  • Lets say... two 3-on-1s and three 2-on-1s get given up by the Canadiens tonight.

Sorry to seem so pessimistic, but the game Montreal has been playing the last few nights has been pretty dangerous hockey (exciting, but dangerous). I think Buffalo is too well organized to not take advantage. Further, Montreal has yet to step up to a big game the "must" win this year. No reason why that should change today.

I'll happily eat my words if I am wrong.

Friday, March 27, 2009

TB v MTL - WIN 3-2 Summary

Well! That certainly was an exciting game!

As Tampa did their best "Montreal Canadiens in March" impression, it was the Habs who absolutely shelled the opposition. Puck possession (although I don't have the stat) must have been at least 70% for the Canadiens. It was an absolutely dominant display; and Lecavelier and St. Louis brought a big fat bag of nothing with them to Montreal.

Problem was, despite having a gazillion (mathimatical term for 25 in 2 periods) shots on net, the Home Team only marked once. Ramo absolutely stood on his head and robbed, time and time again, the Habs offense. Open nets were missed, shots just tipped wide... and always with the Ramo. Ramo. Ramo! No finish.

So despite a great game from the the boys in red, the failure to punish Tampa Bay for their terrible play allowed them to steal a point, and make everyone in The Faithful more nervous than a chicken at a Texas BBQ. All it takes, in gmaes like these, is a lucky bounce and all that good energy the dominant team had goes away. And whereas the Habs this year rarely get that lucky bounce, it almost certainly goes in against us.

And so it did, and so it did -- a few lapses in concentration and immediate reprimand from the Lightning. Overtime. In a game that wasn't even close.

Luckily Koivu stopped trying to score the 'perfect' goal and just kept whackin' at the lose puck. His first 2 shots were saved; one by Ramo, one by St Louis' glove -- it wasn't until he launched a bouncing backhand from the red line that capwinged off a TB player in the crease that the Habs finally got their well deserved 2 points.

The Good
Absolutely dominating play from all the lines except the Kostitsyn / Pleks / D'Ags line. But even D'Ags had about 3 stretch pas chances. Ramo had the game of his life. The recovery in overtime to win, despite the pressure, was cool too.

The Bad
No finish. Good goalie or no, 5 goal posts or no, close ain't good enough in a game like this. After Gui! LaTender's goal, Habs relaxed a bit too much, allowing Tampa to grind out a goal...

The Ugly
In the third, when Tampa started to muck it up and play ugly, the Habs lost a step. Thank goodness Prospal is an idiot and took an elbowing penalty on Komisarek in the corner, so the Habs could settle things down.

Tampa Bay played the perfect underdog game: keep it close, then get ugly at the end to get some goals. After the second goal, the Habs thought the game was over -- and TB was able to take some momentum back. The playoffs will be like this; even with a few goals lead, teams will start making hard, ugly, physical plays to push that puck in. The Canadiens had better learn to play that game too.

Update: I never did get Evgeni Artyukhin's name right during the game-tweet. Who knew I'd need to type it so often?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

TB v MTL - Preditcitons

A good ol' fashioned hockey game?

The Canadiens are feeling good after their one win, and The Cavalier and St Louis love coming to Montreal to play spoiler. Both teams should be fairly loose and looking for goals.

The key will be for Montreal to shutdown the Tampa bay offense early; sometimes easy, sometimes hard. And of course, go for the early lead. Like I said; no rocket science here, no do-or-die, just a good ol' hockey game on both sides, and may the best team win.

  • Montreal WIN 4-3
  • Habs score early, but TB will make it interesting late in the game.
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Another big game for the Local Boys Lecavelier and St Louis
  • Habs get rattled early and drop this one.
I sure hope its a good game, no matter the result. So long as Florida keeps tanking, so can we :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fun Math Games

Are there such things? Perhaps if we are talking about the NHL Eastern Conference Standings! I hope so!

Before the game yesterday I was toying with some numbers, trying to figure what the Canadiens needed to get a playoff spot... then what the Leafs need, then I thought; what do the Leafs need to beat the Habs in the standing? A true insult if there ever was one; but very much a possibility.

  • 1st to 7th place is set; only 8th is open.
  • 9 games remaining
  • current standings and points: MTL - 83 FLA - 81 BUF - 76 (+1 game) TOR - 75 (-1 game) OTT - 74 (+1 game)
Scenario 1: Montreal gets 8 points (4-5)
That gives them 91 points overall; Florida would need to go 5-3-1, Buffalo 8-2, Toronto 8-0, Ottawa 9-1. I think TO / Ott / Buf all play in the last week, so a couple of these scenarios are impossible.

Scenario 2: Montreal gets 12 points (6-3)
With 95 points, that would knock out Toronto and Ottawa, Buffalo would need 10-0, and Florida 7-2-1

Scenario 3: Montreal gets 6 points (3-6)
With 89 points, Florida would have to play .500 hockey; 4-4-1; Buffalo 7-3, Toronto 7-0-1, and Ottawa 8-2.

Scenario 4: Montreal tanks, gets 2 points (1-8)
With 85 points, Florida could be as bad as 2-6-1 to move on; Buffalo 5-5-0, Toronto 5-2-1, Ottawa 6-4-0.

And you can fill in the blanks above. Essentially, Toronto needs to win 5 games Montreal does not in order to beat them in the standings.

So, the bad news is Montreal will certainly have to out-play Florida going forward. Although Toronto and Ottawa are playing well lately, putting together 7 wins in a row is still a lot to ask; so unless the CH really hang themselves, we should be able to avoid the embarrassment of Toronto beating us in the standings. Note that Montreal will play Buffalo, Toronto and Ottawa once; TB, CHI, NYR, NYI, BOS, and PIT to round it off (not in that order).

In reality, all but the Canadiens are just above .500 in their play (Canadiens are below). So it is unlikely that any team will be able to go on a major winning streak. Ottawa might be able to, but they are pretty far back.

Now you know. And knowing is 1/2 the battle.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

ATL v MTL - WIN 6-3 Summary

Well there it was; Opportunity knocked, and the Montreal Canadiens finally got off the Porcelain Throne to answer the door.

This was a fantastic win, no doubt about it. Lets not break out the riot gear just yet for the Stanley Cup parade, but if you are gonna crap on guys when they do bad, you have to praise them when they do right.

The Good
Alex Tanguay took this team by the scruff of the neck and shook it loose. Kovalev, despite ending well, continued to struggle early with turnovers; all is forgiven. Koivu, with 2 bad penalties based on lazy play, certainly paid back what he owed. Higgins had a huge game, although not on the score sheet -- he was masterful killing those penalties. Metro and Dandineault had strong games with him; and the Lapierre/LaTender/Tommy K line had a strong game also, at times (there were some definite weak shifts). Even Komisarek got back to his shot blocking shovey old self. Price played a solid game, all the way through. He let in 3, only the last one was a muligan (off a terrible defensive breakdown). He made some excellent saves when the team needed him, and here we are...

A regulation win, with authority

The Bad
Oh yeah... the two 3-on-1 rushes (one of which was on the penalty kill) and several 2-on-1s. Brisebois giving up 2 great scoring chances, one in the first minute, one with a cross-crease pass to Kovelchuk who was all alone. Koivu's sloppy penalties, one of which got converted on and threatened the positive energy from the go-ahead goal.

There was plenty to pick on in this game, if you felt like it. But its all old news. This was a good win.

The Ugly
Andrei Kostitsyn had an unlucky game. It looked like he was playing with a hole in his stick. Sergei played well, and this line could get something going if they keep working at it, I have hope.

Is this the blip on the radar, or is the pendulum starting to swing the other way?

Dunno. But great win. I can sleep tonight.

Update: Mike Boone has a great game write-up. In answer to his question: if I didn't live in a town with a brewery down the road, I would have drank the place dry.

Coaches Know...

I read this in Red Fisher's most recent article: a quote from Claude Julien on Boston beating New Jersey.
“I think lately we’ve been wasting a lot of energy just thinking about getting the win and forgetting how to get the win. I just wanted our guys to go out there and play. If they played well enough, the outcome would take care of itself.”
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I've been dreading to say it, because I want to let the Carbonneau issue drop, but this is essentially what he said was wrong with his team:
“Right now we are scared to compete, scared to play”
And Gainey has avoided repeating these exact words, but its all too obvious. The team is so scared to be get caught out of position, to make a bad pass, to cause a turnover, or make any kind of mistake, that they can't play hockey right now.

  • The passes are soft, or blind. Either way, they are easily picked off.
  • The defense is scared to lose battles. As a result, they leave players alone behind the net, and let players sneak into the slot.
  • The offense is scared to make a bad pass. As a result the passes are too soft, telegraphed, and too late.
  • The offense is scared to turn it over in the offensive end. As a result the forecheck is either too weak (no puck support) or too much (too many players on the puck) and no one is skating to make a play. Even the shots that we are getting are easily stopped and cleared.
  • The goalies are scared of themselves. They are afraid to let up a bad goal, a bad rebound, leave a hole... so they are over-thinking and not ready for the shots that are coming in.
Scaredy-Cats, Scaredy-Cats...

Its just hockey, lads. You've been playing it your whole life; play hard, go get the puck, keep your head up and stick on the ice. Maybe everyone should have a few beers before the game to chill out and get the blood boiling a bit.

ATL v MTL - Predictions

Atlanta comes up for a visit tonight, and in the next 5 games will see NYR and FLA aswell. Which implies that the team that can beat the Atlanta Thrashers will stay in the playoff race; and I doubt Atlanta will beat all these teams. In their last 9 games (where they beat the Habs last time) they have gone 7-2. So another 'loser' team is playing well.

For the Montreal Canadiens, Opportunity has stopped knocking, and is now opening the mail slot asking to come in. A chance at revenge; a chance at redemption; a chance at changin momentum... etc... Once again the chance is there. If the team from Saturday shows up, Opportunity is gonna start to thing we don't like her anymore, and go somewhere else to play.

  • There is a lot of positive energy in the fan base looking for a Habs win ... and you can't lose them all ... home game ... no where to go but up ...
  • LOSE 4-2. I think Atlanta will be hungry after droppong 2 games last week, and Canadiens are still too fragile.
  • Look for a strong start from the Blue-Blanc-Rouge, and a quick crumble.
  • No matter how bad it gets, Price sees the whole game. No Hook today laddy!
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Habs regroup and actually win. I would love for it to happen. I'm cheering for it. I just can't see it
  • Price puts in a solid 60 mins, and only lets in 1 questionable goal. Go Kid!

C'est la guerre. Atlanta won't be easy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Polish On An Old Shoe...

Serigei Kostitsyn is back, and the sent Max Pacioretty back to Hamilton -- keeping Stewart nearby. So sayeth the news.

Here are the lines that seem to be forming:

Kovalev - Koivu - Tanguay
Well, on paper that's a top line. Kovalev and Tanguay never really clicked, and this is certainly a defensive liability, but let the top line either lead or hang themselves. Tanguay is a wizard with the pass, and Kovalev an artist with the wrist shot; if Koivu can grind the puck out then get to the net, this line should be good.

A. Kostitsyn - Plekanec - S. Kostitsyn
Didn't work earlier in the year, and led to part of the collapse. Maybe the bro's can spark eachother a bit; I just hope they keep the dirty tricks and penalties to a minumum.

Latendresse - Lapierre - Kostopoulos
Higgins - Metropolit - Dandenault
I don't like Higgins on the 4th set. Since I have been doing this, Higgins is always one of the guys working hard out there, and it was he who got Lapierre his goals. To boot, Tommy K hasn't done sugar on a beef pie out there -- he can't even hold onto the puck.

Gotta move Higgins up, Tommy K down. Or kick Tommy K off all together and put Stewart in there. Nice to see Dandenault back -- dude loves to play hard.

Anyhow, it doesn't matter, does it? On paper these lines are fine... but if I have to watch a bunch of seives, paint swatches and pylons, you can name them whatever you like.

Why I Would Love To Own The Canadiens

Gillett is looking at selling the Montreal Canadiens; tough economic times indeed.

So, putting on my Mr. Dressup Hat and playing some make believe, why would I love to own the Montreal Canadiens? With all the controversy, bad press, hassle, rioting, taxes, cultural issues, and a ghost problem, why the heck would anyone want this team?

Well there is the money. Put a Habs sticker on a toilet brush and you can charge $25 for it. The way their playing lately, maybe $50. Also, so long as you run middle of the pack, you can sell out every game. So the money has to be alright. But forget the money...

I would love to be involved in building the team; but not really have a say. I don't know hockey well enough to GM a team, but to be privy to all the GMs rationals on decisions would be great. Specifically, Gainey. I would keep him on as GM, if he still wants the job. I think he's done very well, despite a few 'major' mistakes in hindsight. He loves the team, wants it to succeed, and is pretty calm under fire. (Dunno what he's like behind closed doors). I'd give him another 3 yrs to see if he would learn from his mis-steps and I'd love to see where he takes the team.

I'd hire Andre Savard back, as Assistant GM or GM in Hamilton. That guy knows how to spot talent and draft. He didn't want to be GM when he had the chance, and that shows a smart man who knows what he is good at.

I'd set up Montreal Canadiens training camps around the continent, for all age levels. At the Junior levels, it would be by invitation (or at least a screening process) -- and you'd start to develop the skills the Montreal Canadiens need. Learn a system, learn what the organisation is looking for. The current Junior coaches and scouts are amazing, but this would be a camp to look at a specific set of players to see if they can be what the Montreal Canadiens need. And get them stoked about the team, the city, the language, everything. Even have a mini-tournament at the Bell Center like a mini-prospects game.

For younger levels, it would be open to anyone, to give them an opportunity to improve and maybe get noticed for some higher levels of hockey. Good will towards players, my friends -- so we don't have this situation where super-stars are scared or unwilling to come play for us.

And finally, stability would rule. No firing coaches every 2 years; no churn for the sake of churn. Keep good players that are in your organisation rather then go looking to the outside (Streit, for example.) The organisation would be bigger than any player ego, and although struggles would be tolerated, lack of effort would not. Draft winners, not just talent. Support players through hard times, so that they will feel like they want to play for the organisation, instead of catching the first train out of town.

Pride comes from within; even veterans need to be reminded of that from time to time.

Look for my up-coming children's book:
If I Ran the Montreal Canadiens, by Dr. Habstwit

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On Goalies

I had mentioned previously I didn't want to see Carey Price start another game this season. He looked distracted, slow, and beaten down. Halak on the other hand, was supposed to have all this energy, all this "never mind the bulls---, just stop the puck" attitude.

Last night Halak was a big part of the problem; stunning incompetence. It doesn't matter if its rolling, if its 1/2 screened, if its a power-play; the goalie has to stop them.

Luckily, I am sure that both Halak and Price know this, and stayed up all night with some aweful goalie nightmares. I say luckily, because it means they know they did wrong, and they know they can do better.

Good defence can make a goalie look better than he is: like Chris Osgood in Detroit, or Tim Thomas in Boston. If a team can limit the shots to the outside, make every shooter rushed, take away the rush, and clear the rebounds, then the goalie's job is a lot easier.

By the same token, a good goalie can make a team look better than it is: big saves and steady play have a way of driving a lazy centerman to do better. Timely saves can provide the confidence for the team to do better -- this is what Roy was about, what Brodeur is about, Hasek, and even Jose Theodore when he won the MVP. Ok, sure, even Belfour. A steady goalie can make a team better -- ask Columbus.

So where do Price and Halak stand? Well, they are doing neither. They aren't controlling the game, making "saves they shouldn't" and pushing the forward's play. The defence is making it tough for them out there, no doubt, but 15 minutes of goaltending isn't gonna win the game either. Its broken at both ends.

Price is gonna be a great goalie, I still think. He proved it at the end of last year, and he proved it at the beginning of this year. However, he seems to crack under pressure; and hasn't shown the ability to take control of a game. I'm not sure how you teach that either -- but if Rollie Melanson can get this kid to start being prepared for "the next shot, no matter what happend on the last shot," then Carey will be in good shape. By the way, this is more difficult than it sounds; because over-anticipating is one of the biggest problems a goalie can have.

Halak is a little too wild -- kinda like Tim Thomas. Tim is having a great year; he obviously worked really hard in the off-season on his athleticism. But he spits out rebounds like a broken slot machine coughs out change. Halak is a bit the same; making the save is one thing, and it's good, but top-tier goaltenders will know how to settle a game down. You can't bury every shot (well, maybe Belfour could) but there is no reason to be giving up 3 shots for every one on net.

Craig Simpson of CBC's hockey Night, despite driving me nuts last night with some of his commentary, really made a good point how there is no veteran goalie presence in the dressing room to help out these young goalies. I think Price was really doing well with Huet there as someone to look back to when things were going poorly. I think Bob Gainey is actually a pretty good GM, but I didn't like the Huet move. And I still don't -- but nothing to be done about it now.

Price is gonna be good again. Halak will most likely rebound aswell; but maybe one of them should go to bring in some proper mentorship. They both need to learn what it takes to be a leader, and how to bounce back from bad situations; and Rollie can't teach that -- but veterans can demonstrate it.

As far as who should start? Well, both goalies are broken, and the team is broken, so... I think Kyle Roussel pointed out bringing Marc Denis from Hamilton up would be the best solution, and I agree; but both these goalies would get pulled off waivers no doubt. So someone needs an injury.

Take one for the team boys, slam a door on your finger.

TO v MTL - LOSE 5-2 Summary

Never in my life have I seen 5 or 6 skaters try to literally disappear on the ice like the Montreal Canadiens did last night.

The Japanese Woman's Ice Hockey Team put up more competition against Team Canada then the Montreal Canadiens did against the Maple Leafs last night.

The Montreal Canadiens seem to be following our stock markets; just when you think they hit rock bottom, they punch through and find a new bottom.

You can't win if you are scared to lose. Slow skates, soft passes, no second effort and no desire for the puck pretty much sums it all up. Even Laraque skated harmlessly by a Leaf with the puck, waved his stick at him, and went off the ice -- instead of, you know, hitting him. Laraque. Didn't bother hitting the guy. Kostitsyn watched a Leafs dangle at the top of the circle and move into shooting position - could have picked him, but instead stands there like a lump. Not doing anything. Anything.

The Good:
I was sick of writing about only 1/2 the players showing up on game nights, well, thanks for saving me the effort. Lapierre and Higgins were the only players -- the rest were trying to behave like the paint on the ice. I say that because even a Pylon can stop the puck sometimes.

The Bad, the Ugly
Everyone else. Even the crowd got ugly, with good reason.

That game made me honestly want to vomit in rage, disgust and disappointment.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

TOR v MTL - Predictions

Toronto has been a funny team this season. They have nothing in their line-up to scare even a 3-year old with an irrational phobia of the colour blue. And then at the trade deadline they went and got rid of whatever was left to fear.

Losing to Toronto has gotten a couple coaches fired (Laviolette for one), and last time Montreal and Toronto met on February 7th there was a big dust up; I believe a locked-door meeting, followed by some hard practices.

Losing to the Leafs was when fans shook off the glow of the All-Star game and the 100th season and went: What The F--- ... they had just gone 2-7 since Jan 20. Oh, and then the team went West to regroup, and instead completely disintegrated.

So losing to the Leafs marked a change in the season, and magnified it. A win tonight, a good win, might mark the next turn around. A win tonight against the Leafs might be a swivel that gets the team back on track.

"It doesn't matter how you do, so long as you beat the Maple Leafs," and that's a 2-way street. The Leafs are gonna have a good time tonight -- they know they can crush the team completely if they steal a win: and if the Leafs lose? Who cares? No one here in TO does. They are supposed to lose, remember?

The Canadiens have a chance to win back their fans, win back some pride, and stay in the playoffs. If they lose, they are not finished, but the hill gets that much steeper, and the easy gears fall off the bike.

Advantage: Maple Leafs. Biggest Reward for a Win: Canadiens.

  • Habs LOSE 3-2 (what? after all that? Yes. With the provided evidence, Leafs are poised for a win.)
  • Blake scores a couple.
  • Earth opens up, swallows Bell Centre in a fiery cacophony of apocalyptic terror.
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Habs win
  • Blake doesn't score
  • Earth remains secure.
It would be nice to see a full game from everyone tonight; and I am disappointed by Laraque being in the lineup, but you win with what you have. So Let's Win!!

Reality Check -- 11 games left

Despite the recent cracks / crumbling / debacle that is the Montreal Canadiens recently, they are stil very much in playoff contention. Despite the fans and media calling the last couple weeks "Must Wins" -- they really weren't.

Philidelphia and Pittsburgh have 86 points to the Habs 81 -- meaning if the CH can actually put together a couple wins in a row, say 3 of their next 4, then they are right back in 5th place. Meaning it will take until the end of April to decide the fate of this team, and they are by no means out of it.

Now there are lots of reasons to think why shouldn't happen -- that the Habs are already dead, just someone forgot to tell the heart to stop beating. There are also lots of reasons to think that even if they do get into the Big Dance, what's the point? They don't look like contenders...

No arguments here. Except the fact that the playoffs do weird things to teams; sometimes the get better, sometimes they get worse, and sometimes they just don't show up.

But the fact remains that despite the last couple crappy weeks where everyone was thinking: surely if there was a time to step up and prove your mettle the last few weeks were it -- reality is nope: they can continue to stink, and still be a contender.

So fans, unfortunately you aren't off the hook yet.

if i write 'despite' one more time i'm gonna kick myself.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Free Agent Market pt.2

The Revenge of the D-man...

Anyhow, this is a follow up to my post on Free Agent Market posted a few weeks ago; and a little bit in response to this interesting article at The Hockey News.

My Source.

#2 need: Defense?
You better believe it. Although thankfully we have Markov locked up until 2011/2012, there are some 'identity' players that are UFAs: Komisarek, Bouillion, Brisebois, Schneider, and Dandineault. Gorges and O'Byrne are also locked down, but have proven they are not quite ready to be backbones of a team; still solid defenseman, but not gonna work the Power Play or take out top lines and dangerous forwards.

And it would be nice if we could dump Hamrlik, dude makes almost as much as Markov and plays like Brisebois.

So the Habs need a strong defenseman who can move the puck, work the offensive zone, and play some sort of defense. Yeah, like Streit or Souray. Stop rubbing it in.

I like Komisarek and hope he stays, and finds his game: but if The Hockey News is right, someone might pay that guy $6 million. Zowee! And he doesn't solve the offense problem.

So, who's out there?

Teir 1
  • Niedermayer, Scott - As if. but wouldn't that be a coups...
  • Bouwmeester, Jay - Of course! Yes Please! Problem is competition will be high for this guy, he might get signed to a 9-yr contract or something. I doubt Montreal would compete with that. Too bad.
  • Bergeron, Marc-Andre - this would be a good snag. He seems to be coming into his own now, is getting points, and coming from Minnisota will know how to play defense. $3-$5M would be a major step up for him, and affordable to Montreal.
  • Zubov, Sergei - Better him than Hamerlik -- but he has been injured the last 2 seasons. He's also 38.
  • Schneider, Mathieu - (amoung others) Although powerful on the power-play, his give-aways are as epic as his shot. I love the guy, but he might not be a good fit at $5M.
  • Ohlund, Mattias - I've never really been a fan, but all the numbers are right. I think he would fit very well with Markov -- it would be a bit of a steal, too. Only 32
Teir 2
  • Beauchemin, Francois - pretty good D-man, played with Schneider and Pronger in years past... but no offensive threat here. Also looks like he ends up on the minus side.
  • Numminen, Teppo - Oldy van Moldy at 40; but cheap at $1M. I'd have to say no.
  • Spacek, Jaroslav - Not a lot of points for this guy, not a power-play guy, and seems to be hurt a lot. pass
  • Aucoin, Adrian - Kinda in the same league as Spacek; second line D-man.
  • Leopold, Jordan - again, numbers are not that impressive, and looks like a minus player.
  • Sydor, Darryl - at $2.5M, this would be an interesting catch. Played for Dallas, which means Gainey might be interested. Not a real point getter, but did win a Stanley Cup.
  • Mara, Paul - I dunno about this guy; never been sold on him. He could replace Komisarek, if we can't resign him. Not a point getter.
  • Kukkonen, Lasse - going KooKoo for Kukkonen? Full points on the name: but he hasn't played a full season yet -- injury prone? No thanks.
  • Boucher, Philippe - not bad when he played for the Stars, but seems to have lost a step. Wouldn't be a bad replacement for Bouillion or something, if we can't resign them.
  • Scuderi, Rob - not a goal scrorer, but solid on D with a plus rating on a team not known for its defense. And fairly young; this wouldn't hurt the team.
  • Blake, Rob - too old. Wouldn't come out here anyhow.

So, I gotta go with Mattias Ohlund, Marc-Andre Bergeron, and Jay Bowmeester. Young, top of their game, thinking defensemen with a nose for the net. The rest are just plug-and-play replacements -- I don't see any real hidden talents in here, and I don't see anything that the Habs could develop.

Markov - Bowmeetser/Ohlund/Bergeron
Komisarek - Bouillion
Gorges - O'Byrne

oh yeah, Hamrlik. I guess.

Thats not a bad line-up!

MTL v OTT - LOSS 5-4 Summary


There is a lot to say, and yet nothing to say about yesterday's game. According to the score, it was a close game. But I'll tell you that 1/2 the twitter-sphere that watches the games with me clicked off in the second. The game had a lot of end-to-end action; but there were still times where Montreal was caught standing still and watching. Ottawa was pretty lucky in the first, as Carey Price let in 2 goals he could have stopped, and one that was offside + tipped by a high stick; and counted only by inches. Latendress had a huge game with Lapierre and Tommy K -- but the Eastern Blok was more like a Block of ... je ne sais pas quoi.

Its getting tiresome to see parts of the team come to play, and other parts not show up at all. despite Ottawa's horseshoes, they were very beatable last night. If Price was a little sharper, we would have won. If the P-AKs line had done anything with their ice-time, we would have won. These are the guys who need to score the big goals: the top scorer, AK-46 (-1, 0 shots). The hot hand, Plucky-Plekanic (-1, 4 shots), and The Artiste, AK-27 (-1, 2 shots). There were no communication issues here -- there were execution issues.

The Good:
Latendresse, Lapierre, and Tommy K were awesome. Well, especially the first 2 (Tommy K did his thing). Higgins / Tanguay / Koivu were pretty good, but Koivu is really looking beat out there. The New Additions of Max Pac, D'Agostini and Metropololit had a good game, but didn't see much ice, so its hard to praise them too much. Markov, as usual... solid.

The Bad:
Sigh, once again Carey Price had a bad game. If I had to sum it up, I'd have to say he wasn't ready for "the next" shot. Sharp goaltenders are the ones who are prepared for the next shot, not spectating, or over-anticipating, or admiring their last save looking for the puck. Price was not ready. Komisarek didn't have a strong game either.

The Ugly:
The no.2 line played like a steaming no.2. Kovalev's contant turnovers, Kostitsyn's late on every puck, and Plekanic was invisible. They had a good first 5 minutes; and then disappeared. They coulnd't feed off the momentum form the other lines? They couldn't get energized with a new goalie? They couldn't bring themselves to care, only 1-goal down with a period to play in a "must win" game? Next time just give the fans the finger and stay home you arseholes.

Price is a good goalie. He is gonna be awesome next year -- you'll see. But I hope he doesn't play another game this year.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

MTL v OTT - Predictions

So Ottawa has been feeling pretty good about themselves lately; 6-2-0 in their last 8 games, with The Big Line returning to form, and Brian Elliot falling into form. Comfortably out of the playoffs (although mathematically still a contender) The Sens are playing a relaxed, confident game: and getting dividends.

Montreal, I think, was stung by the shootout loss on Tuesday, and should be in form to make a splash in Ottawa. Its technically an away game, 2 hrs down the 417 -- but I would expect the Sens faithful to be pretty boisterous. Price has done Ok against the Sens, 4-2-0 in his career, but the way the Habs defense have been playing I would expect The Big Line to have lots of chances tonight, and possibly bury a few.

Funny thing is these two will meet again in April 6th -- and if the Habs have finished shooting themselves in the foot and amputating the wound (are ot of playoff contention, I mean) then this game will probably be more exciting; as Montreal will be playing with the same relaxed style.

Against the Rangers, Montreal was "gripping the stick too tight." "Scared to compete," as their old coach would say. They are thinking too much, and not skating enough; they waste too much energy chasing the play instead of driving it. etc etc etc... Point is, I see that continuing until they finally drop from a playoff spot. Pressure off, a better Montreal team will appear. And then everyone says "where they earlier?" etc etc etc... Just like they are doing down the road in Ottawa right now.

  • Montreal WIN 5-3
  • The Big Line (Spezza, Heatly, Alfredson) get 2 goals tonight
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Elliot plays a strong game, and Habs can't get more that 2 by him
  • no.1 line for the Habs is blanked tonight
Should be another good game, despite the outcome. Enjoy the match!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MYR v MTL - Loss 4-3 Summary

The Canadiens managed to get a point yesterday, making yesterday's game pretty much a wash. The Rangers failed to really break away from the crowd with this, and the Habs are still very much a contender.

The overall impression of the game was a little different though. Although the game ended in a tie, the Habs were given a gift of 1 point to Lundquvist, who somehow let in Markov's shot. Nice to get a garbage one once and a while, because in the end, they all count.

But the Rangers really looked ot be the better team. They had a great forecheck, and stifling defence. I dunno how many shots were blocked, or passes tipped, or just simple turnovers, but the Rangers certainly seemed to be able to keep the scoring chances down.

Carey Price played a good game, and was let down by his defence. The first and second goal were the off rebounds which should have been cleared. Price had to stop tons of one-timers from the slot, where once again, the opposition (New Jersey and now the Rangers) were allowed to set up behind the net and put a beauty pass into someone unmarked in the slot.

The Canadiens are easy to play against. But it sure was an exciting game -- as the rest of the season wil prove to be also.

The Good:
Max Pac, D'Agostini and Lapierre played a great game. They lead the forecheck, fought hard behind the net, and Lapierre scored a big goal. If they develope a finishing touch, they will dominate. Higgins played well also, but was just missing that little extra to be truley dangerous. And Latendress played a good game also; he supported Kostitsyn, who finally started shooting.

And enough cannot be said about Markov. He led the team defensively, made the play to get the winning goal, and scored in the shootout to keep us alive to the last shooter. He also dealt well with Avery when they met up; kept his shennanigans to a minimum.

The Bad:
Saku Koivu stunk last night. It looks like his legs are made of lead out there. He's getting easily knocked off the puck, provides no defensive presence, and isn't getting back into the play after he gets knocked out of it. His heart is huge: but his legs are heavy. A shame.

The Ugly:
Although the 2nd period was pretty good, the Rangers really started to skate it out; and by the 3rd, the Canadiens looked like a bantam hockey team out there. The Rangers were flying end-to-end, winning the puck, winning races, and basically flying around a stagnant set of red pylons.

The Canadiens seem stuck in a mode where they are watching the game, then trying to react; whereas other teams are anticipating, staying mobile, and making the simple things work. Its really sad; I know Plekanec (for example) is skating hard; but he wastes so much energy trying to get up to speed, when the opposing team is already coasting -- they are burning energy in all the wrong ways; and it ends up killing them because they have nothing left by the 2nd period.

Kovalev had an Ok game, he was hungry, but had lots of turnovers where he was taking on 3 Rangers at once. Price played some great saves, but folded in the shootout, where he is normally king; that was sad to see also.

In the end, that was an exciting game, and an even game. But the CH have no flow to their game, and not playing relaxed, confident hockey. I mean, three 2-on-1s and a couple 3-on-2s, and not so much as a shot!

Oops! Sorry for the broken record, let me switch that...

And finally Antropov. He scored an easy goal on the power play, and another in the shootout. I haven't read Boone yet, but I'm sure he's insiuating that Antropov would've been good in Montreal -- here's what I saw. Antropov is playing on the wing, because he's a liability. Antropov tripped over the blue line with no one around him, sending Kovalev in on a break -- that normally would have ended in a goal. Antropov disappeared for the rest of the game, except when he was being bodied off the puck by the much smaller Habs players. I hate that guy, and watching him play yesterday did nothing to change my mind. Total Sewage.

So I just read Mike Boone, and I guess great minds think alike! We almost independently saw the exact same thing last night, calling out the same players. I mean, its not rocket science, it was pretty clear, but I feel vindicated! I am not a crackpot! And he only mentioned Nik Antropov once. That was nice of him :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NYR v MTL - Predictions

Yes, yes, big game tonight. I don't need to repeat the obvious cliches here... fact is this game isn't going to be easy, but then again neither are Ottawa and Toronto. None of the games from here on in are easy.

The stories of these two teams is very similar this year -- close in points, started strong then fell off, got some new blood, got a new coach, "nothing is helping," ... Imagine for a moment if Montreal went and got Avery?

I didn't mind Avery until his shenanigans with Brodeur last year, and his nasty comment about Miss Cuthbert. But there is one thing Avery brings to the table; passion, and attitude. He loves to play. And he loves to stir it up. And he loves to be a story -- so wouldn't he be a fit in Montreal, the biggest hockey-mad place on the planet? Imagine the scraps he and the press would get into: with all the attention on him, everyone else could play hockey! And with him on the ice getting the team riled, he might be able to spark some energy! Man, it would be glorious -- the battle royal between the media and the loud mouth personality.

Anyhow, onto the game:

  • Montreal LOSE 3-2
  • Lundquvist is gonna have a big game, Habs will be out-shot.
  • And since Mike Boone seems to have a big "Mike Booner" for Antropov, lets say he gets 2 points tonight -- just so Boone can lament about not getting him at the deadline. Damn I hate Antropov.
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Habs might pull one out -- they are at home.
  • Antropov is a minus 5 by the end of the night. I hate that guy.
  • Higgins pots one tonight -- he usually does well v. New York teams.
  • ... or the Habs bury themselves in stupid penalties again.
I gotta say, I'm calling a loss, but hoping for a win. Rangers seem to be energized, if nothing else -- whereas the Habs still seem to be a bit dazed and confused. If the right switch gets flipped, we might see a win tonight for the Good Guys, but I'm tired of waiting for that, or even expecting it.

Prove me wrong, kids! Prove me wrong!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Free Agent Market

Since I am bored of the 2008/2009 season, and there is no news from the front today, I thought I'd take a look at the 2009 Free Agent market, and dream a bit in technicolor of what might be for 2009/2010 -- considering the Habs have a boat load of signings to do.

My Source.

#1 need: "Big First Line Center"
Gotta get Koivu off the first line. He is just getting punished out there, despite his big heart. Tanguay and Koivu click well, no doubt, but still Koivu has been failing to finish lately. And in his own zone, he is being easily out-muscled. So..
  • Todd Bertuzi - big, ugly, mean... but past his prime. I doubt he'd be a fit.
  • Johan Franzen - Tempting! Big, loves to go to the net, and seems to have discovered his scoring touch. Fortunately he is also not scoring 50 goals a year, so might come at a reasonable price
  • Robert Lang - He was good for the team this year, despite my grumblings.
  • Doug Weight - at 38, is much too old.
  • Nick Antropov - please Lord no. no no no no no no nein no.
  • Mike Comrie - is too small. And will probably resign with Ottawa
  • Jeremy Roenick - can you imagine? BWAAAA AHAHAHAHA. (see Doug Weight)
  • Jason Krog - I'll would love to see a Krog in the lineup for the Habs; full points for the name. Too bad he is no 1st line C
  • Henrik Sedin - No. Don't like these Sedins.
  • Mats Sundin - Been there, done that. As if.
  • Sergei Federov - Another Russian? I don't think he'd be the spark the team is looking for. Besides, he's 39 -- and probably very happy in Washington.
  • Viktor Kozlov - Another puck dangling super-talented player, with no taste for driving the net. Pass.
And thats it. There are a couple Restricted Free Agents we could try and weasle for, but thats not really a smart play (we aren't that desperate, are we? For another gamble?). Look's like Johan Franzen is the best available Center out there. He would certainly be an interesting fit, and one I would welcome -- but I'm sure a lot of teams would like to have him. Further, he has a good thing in Detroit; they would probably like to keep him, so he might not even make it to July 1st.

Gee, that was depressing. I thought it was going to cheer me up.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

NJ v MTL - Lose 3-1 - Summary

So Martin Brodeur ended up having to be pretty sharp last night -- he played a good game, and tied the all-time win record of Patrick Roy.

So rub it in why don'cha?

The New Jersey win last night was a bit bittersweet for me. Although I don't begrudge Martin Brodeur like some of his detractors, the fact remains he plays for the wrong team. He's a constant reminder of what Montreal used to have, and thrive on: solid consistent goaltending.

New Jersey as a franchise is sitting there with 3 Stanley Cups over the 15 years, and at least 1 more appearance; and are once agan a contender. The Canadiens? Nothing in that time.

New Jersey went through a rebuilding year a couple years ago, after they lost Neidermyer and Rafalski and Daneko and all them; but it didn't phase them one bit.

New Jersey plays a strong trap system (pretty boring) combined with an explosive offense to win their games... Like the Canadiens used to do.

New Jersey has had one of the greatest Canadiens of all time as their coach, Larry Robinson, who took them to a Stanley Cup, and then to the finals the next year... Only to be replaced by another Canadiens coach Pat Burns, who won them another cup.

In other words, New Jersey seems to be able to take the model Montreal built, and make it work in today's NHL -- whereas the Canadiens are prepetually drawn to 10th place. Its our system! Why can't we make it work?!?

Sigh, ok, enough about that.

The Good
I thought Higgins had a good game, and Kostitsyn definitely had a few good shifts. Pleks got the goal, obviously, and a few other good chances. Komisarek seemed to wake up towards the end of the game also: he was hitting and blocking shots again, and stopped his lumberjack routine. Max Pac asserted himself behind the net, and set up about 3 great chances -- I hope to see more of that. And the second period was not a complete disaster (it was actully pretty good for the Habs!)

The Bad
Tommy K had a terrible game: he was in the box for both New Jersey goals (although one was a 5-on-3) -- and when you do that you normally feel like you owe the team some revenge; he drove the net a few times, but couldn't finish. And he only got those because Max Pac was working so well behind the Devil's net.

The Ugly
It took Halak a period to work off the rust from his flu / 7 day break. The first goal was stoppable, but it snuck under his arm. The second goal was off an unlucky bounce from the boards, but it was a clear shot that Halak had to have. Can't blame him too much, because he kept the team in the game for the next 40 mins. And although the defence played a good game, their skilled players still made a mess of them, dodging and weaving their way through. The winning goal was simply Les Boys getting Les Outplayed by Parise, Zajak and Langenbrunner.

And Brisebois had his 1000th game - he got the 2nd star for his efforts. He made one brain dead play in the first (where he gave it away on the Power Play) and then made an amazing play in the third with a diving poke check to defend a 2-on-1. So it was pretty usual stuff from him :)

Next game is a direct battle for playoff positioning: the New York Rangers on Tuesday. Who wants it?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

NJ v MTL - Predictions

Well, with all the buzz going on about Marty Brodeur and his 551 wins, well, everyone kinda stole my thunder.

It is an interesting decision to play Halak tonight: is Gainey playing his 'backup' to make things easier for the Devils? Or is he hoping a kid from Czechoslovakia, who didn't grow up idolizing Marty, will just be there to do what he did to San Jose: play spoiler. Just stop the puck, you know? Never mind the bull...

Combine that with letting Brisebois play his 1000th game; he should be well rested, but a couple weeks off from game time can have its affects also. Brisebois will be stoked to play, I'm sure, and as a result might be a little wild out there.

Did Gainey expose his flank for an easy kill, or is he hoping for a thunder-stealing upset?

Maybe both.

  • LOSE 5-1
  • Habs might be ahead at the end of the first; it will change nothing.
  • Halak is gonna give me at least 4 Halak-Attacks!
  • Bell Centre treats Brodeur really well if he wins, perhaps even a standing O!
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Halak frustrates NJ a bit, and the game is actually close
  • Maybe we see a bit of Brodeur's nerves finally? Montreal is big, 551 wins is big, Patty Roy watching is big, the press is big... maybe he has an off game, and ... and ... No, that's wishful thinking.
Any way this thing goes, it should be a great game -- so enjoy!

Friday, March 13, 2009

NYI v MTL - Lose 3-2

Well, once again I got the score right, but the result wrong. I did manage to watch the game last night, but I wasn't paying that close attention. Here's what I saw:

  • Habs come out roaring in the first, looking like they might bury it early... and then floundering in the second period...
  • Thank goodnes Markov still wants to win. He led the rush on the tying goal ?!? Good for him...
  • Witt splattering Tanguay through the crease, and a few fights that ended poorly for the boys in red...
  • Price made some amazing saves, on the breakaway and shots in close; he looked to play well...
  • Until he let in the stinker for the loss.
And then a few thoughts came to mind...
  1. Never fight someone with nothing to lose. In my predictions I suggested that the Isle would be in a spoiler mood, and they needed to be slapped down early. Instead they were given a chance to play; the Isle kept it close, played tough, and pop goes the win. The Isle don't have to worry about playing defence anymore; so they are a different team now. They are 4-1-1 in their last 6 games!
  2. Bonjour la visite. New free agents didn't help. Sending a message to the players didn't help. Changing coached didn't help. Changing tactics didn't help. Dial it in boys: c'est fini.
Enjoy the rest of the season, fans, with no expectations -- because if you have any, you will only be left disappointed. There is some good hockey left to play; and there will be some very exciting games. Despite losing last night, the Canadiens will most likely make the playoffs -- with 6 teams playing for 4 spots, the odds are in our favour.

And 2009/2010 is gonna be a very interesting season!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

NYI v MTL - Predictions

Well, there are several factors to consider for today's little match:
  • The excitement of a new coach is wearing off for Les Boys
  • Yann Danis gets a shot at revenge, kinda
  • Kovalev might be out of the lineup...
But the most interesting part for me is the old "Spoiler" mentality teams get into when they have no post season. It seems like the lower echelons of the league really get a kick out of spoiling the fun of those teams that might be able to make the playoffs; consider 2007 when the Maple Laffs beat Les Boys to ensure neither of them made the post season.

  • Habs WIN 3-2
  • Kostitsyn nets one tonight, maybe even 2
  • Ilses get ugly, try to beat up the Home Team and out muscle them.
Wouldn't be surprised if:
  • Habs have yet another crappy second period, after getting over the excitement of the first
  • Yann Danis will play above his pay grade, until the Canadiens bang a couple in. Then: plop.
  • Les Glorieux blow the Ilse apart.
I think it will be a close game, but if we can score early and keep the tempo up, it could be 5+ goals for Les Boys. If the Ilse keep it close and manage out muscle out the Habs, then it will be a good indication that this team is just not ready for any kind of post season.

Finally, I'll be out tonight at the bar tonight - so no habstwit tonight. Just gonna have to fend for yourselves :)

Till Saturday then.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

EDM v MTL - WIN 4-3 Summary

Well there was little doubt that the Canadiens would come out with zip last night. I mean, if you manage to get your coach fired, you better show your appreciation, right?

Funny thing was, Edmonton was up to the challenge. Fighting for a playoff spot of their own, they met the Habs face-to-face, toe-to-toe. It turned out to be a very exciting game!

A few things I noticed that Gainey had made:
  • More of the top 2 lines: unlike Carbo who liked to roll his lines even, Gainey put the onus on his top 2 lines to get the job done. I haven't looked at the icetime numbers, but the impression was Tanguay-Koivu-Kostitsyn and Kovalev-Plekanec-D'Agostini saw more play time that in their last month.
  • Stretch pass: Gainey encouraged this in his 'competition committee,' so its no surprise to see him using it. Although it did generate more offense in the first, it certainly is a tactic that teams can easily adjust to. In the second period, even, Edmonton seemed to be wise to it.
  • New Power Play setup: The new setup was fairly effective once; but the Canadiens had trouble getting parked on their next 2 power plays. It seems that they go with an overloaded side with a tight triangle: someone on the half-boards near the hash marks, someone deep in the corner, and a forward in front. So long as they hold the puck, it seemed to work well to draw the P-Killers out of their box; and opens up some chances. I liked it -- but it needs to get set up quickly to be effective (or the Bad Guys have an easy out on the far side, where there is space)
  • Movement on the 4-on-4: The overtime saw the Canadiens with the craziest 4-on-4 cycling I have ever seen; and it worked. It was like a figure-8, with the D pinching in and swooping around -- Edmonton couldn't handle it and broke right down. They fell over each other and ended up taking a slashing penalty. Schneider made space to get the pass from Markov, and Koivu tipped the shot for the win.
The Good:
The Canadiens looked like a team that had a coach again; they listened and responded to Gainey. Just like they listened and responded to Carbo last year. Price made a few good saves in the third to keep the game within reach; and overall the Habs played with some good energy. But then, they usually do for a home game. Metropolit played an awesome game, and made it clear why he is a better choice than Begin for 3rd line Center. The new defensive pairs were also better, and Tanguay was a bloody wizard with his passing.

The Bad:
The second period was, once again, a donkey show. Although there were lots of chances that didn't count as shots, there were long stretches of time where the Habs just didn't have the puck; and couldn't get it. This has to change, period. Further, in the offensive zone in the third, there was no puck support for the carrier; so the Bad Guys would simply put 2 men on the puck carrier and walk away with it.

The Ugly:
Andrei Kostitsyn's passing was just - plain - terrible. Even his pass on the winning goal was ridiculous; Koivu just happened to get the bounce. And really he's there to shoot: Tanguay and Koivu will set him up all day, so he's gotta find the ice and fire it. Price had a tough 2nd period; there were 3 'sure goals' that Markov himself saved by clearing the puck.

And finally I hear there are complaints that the Canadiens were lucky to get their 3rd goal, and it could have been a loss, blah blah blah -- Edmonton's 3rd goal was as horse-poop as they come, with Koivu diving on top of Price and knocking it in as it trickled to the goal line. So I gotta say it was even all round, and a well fought game. You don't get "lucky" unless you work for it, and the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge certainly worked for it. Nay-sayers can cram it.

But there is the big question: can the Home Team continue to play like this? Or do they only have a couple games of spunk in them, then its back to Crap-Ville?

I guess we'll see.

Was listening to team-990 online and an guest RDS analyst pointed out the wingers were coming back in their zone, and thought it was on purpose. I thought it was a mistake, so didn't want to comment on it: the Wingers were certainly way too deep in their zone, openning up the point shots for the opposition. The Centermen certainly seemed more defensively invovled, which was good, but the wingers gotta stay higher in the zone to help with the breakout. IMO

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

EDM v MTL - Predictions

Ok, new coach, new hope, new lines of communication, fans satiated, let's go!

16 games left, and a ridiculous race for the last 4 playoff spots. Gainey said that "tonight's game will move us in one of those directions (in the standings)" -- thanks coach!

Price gets the start, and the Home Team might be looking for some vengeance against the Edmonton that stomped them out west.

  • Habs WIN 4-2
  • Komisarek will start hitting again, less slashing penalties.
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • With Schneider and Sourray out there tonight, there will be a lot of Howitzers!
  • Edmonton's skill floats through the middle (slot) and generates a lot of scoring chances. I can't see how 1 day can change this major problem.

Its dangerous of me to predict a W lately; I seem to be Mr Opposite. Well, too bad. New coach and home crowd, I gotta give it to Les Boys.

More on Coaches

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" -Albert Einstein

I can't believe Wayne Gretzky out-lasted Guy Carbonneau as head coach. I guess it helps to be the owner.

Here are some things I dug up:
Montreal Canadiens Coaches from Wikipedia
sourced from Hockey-Reference

And what I've learned:
  • Since 1982, (27 years) The Team has had 12 coaches, and 2 Stanley Cups
  • Haven't beaten anyone except the Boston Bruins in the playoffs in 10 years.
  • All coaches have except Vigneault (who's team was gutted) had .500+ regular season records.
  • Saku Koivu has seen 4 coaches fired in 13 years, yet remains Captain.
  • Wayne Gretzky has been coaching for 5 years, and has had one season above .500, where he was .506
  • Despite missing the playoffs 6 times, Lindy Ruff for the Sabres has taken his team to the Conference Finals 4 times -- in 12 years. For those wondering, that's hockey played in May.
  • Since Jacques Demers, we have had rookie coaches.
  • Soon, having "Coached Montreal Canadiens for 2 years" will be a requirement on all new coaches' reusmes entering the NHL.
And here are some player facts:
  • We haven't had a 50 goal scorer since Stephane Richer in 1990
  • We've had only 1 player score 30+ goals each year since at least 2004
It seems like the best part of this organization over the last 20 years has been the coaches; so how come they keep getting fired?

Well, there are a host of other reasons to explain the numbers. But there is one title the Montreal Canadiens seem to be able to hold onto: the most Masochistic Narcisist of the NHL.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Carbonneau Fired -- reaction

This is not breaking news, but the Montreal Canadiens fired their coach Guy Carbonneau today. Gainey grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him under the bus.

It took me a while to sit down and write this because I had a lot of different things to say; but I didn't want to write an anthology -- I'll try and be concise.

A lot of press is coming to Carbo's defense; this happens when you have a lot of ex-coaches now playing journalist. I agree completely -- the players got him fired. Good for them. Problem is, I liked the coaches more than the players. I'd rather watch Carbo coach a bunch of Bantom C leaguers then the lazy bunch of cry-babies they got in the CH sweater right now... but I can't get that channel.

I wonder if Gainey was feeling pressure not from "upper management" but rather from the other GMs... he didn't want to go to the upcomming General Managers meeting and get heckled -- "Hey Bob, you haven't fired your coach yet? Come on man, everyone's doing it! Jeez, they lose a game, you fire the coach! Get with it!" With 7 coaches fired this year, "it's hot."

I could go on, but what's the point? Carbo's gone. The King is Dead, Long Live The King. What's gonna change? Nothing. Gainey might get them into the playoffs -- but they won't win anything. They'll finish 8th, meet Boston in the first round, and Julien will have his sweet delicious revenge. Curse his stubby bald head! hehe.

When has firing a coach in March brought in a Stanely Cup in June? Ever? Did Larry Robinson pull it off in New Jersey? (Honest question, I can't remember.) I know a lot of times it hasn't worked...

My next question is not: what's the future of the coaching staff? But rather:

who owns this team?

Gainey has finally gone all in: if the Canadiens don't make the playoffs, he's finished. He's gotta be (sadly, love him too). If they bomb out in the first round, then he'll be lucky to stay also. And here in lies the problem: if the players can get the coach fired, and the GM fired, then who owns this team? Guess its Koivu, and Kovalev, and Kostitsyn, and all the other players who are allowed to do "Jacque Squat" but stay in the most glorious of hockey mechas. Think this bull-sh*t would fly in Detroit these days? Ask Federov.

I hope for the best: Go Habs Go. I'm on the waggon, interested in the new direction, let's go. But I think the best medicine for the Franchise is to get some stability. I'm sick and tired of good coaches and smart hockey people, not to mention Canadiens Heroes, getting turfed because these damn cry-baby millionaires want to sit on thier thumb and spin because "coach isn't communicating with me.

This ain't f*cking eHarmony.com!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

MTL v DAL - WIn 3-1

Well, I got the score right, but the result wrong. I must say, I'm happy to be wrong.

So it was an absolutely abysmal first period, with terrible penalties, no grit, and feet of stone for the Away Team. Steve Ott was like a dog marking his territory, with every Hab acting as his fire-hydrant. Stewart finally came out and settled Ott down with a few punches; it ended the period with the Habs down 1-0, and 5-on-3 to start the 2nd.

I doubt the coaches had to say anything; with the Captain and both Assistant Captains in the box with bad penalties, and the rookie Stewart acting as the only proud member of the team -- not to mention Price having a good game -- I'm pretty sure the Canadiens finally looked around the room and said: we are better than this!

And they were. They killed the penalties, and didn't take another until 1:45 minutes left in the game. They generated some good offence, about 4 excellent chances off the odd-man rush, and would have recorded more shots if Andrei Kostitsyn hit the net on his many, many, many chances. (Can't be too mad, he scored the tying goal).

The rest of the game was strong, until the last 5 minutes where the Stars had them running around a bit again. Higgins goal was a gift, but when you are unlucky for so long maybe you are owed one.

The Good
I thought Tanguay had a great game, and Price was his calm, cool, collected, unphased self. I certainly hope that Carbonneau keeps these line combinations together; they seemed to work, and they need to gel. It would be good to build on this.

The Bad
Andrei Kostitsyn really gotta hit the net; but keep him with Tanguay and Koivu, and he could get over 30 gaols this year. Maybe. Also, is there a goaltending contreversy in Montreal now? I hope not...

The Ugly
Everyone in the first period. Except Stewart.

So, lets see if they can keep the momentum for the next game. Maybe I'll keep predicting losses, see if that helps.

MTL v DAL - Predictions

Gainey, Carbo and Muller return to Dallas, where I am sure they have some fond memories. Carbo's daughter (Anne Marie, right) is married to Brenden Morrow (who is out for the season, torn ACL) -- so the coaching staff should be in a good mood, reconnecting with friends and family...

And if things go really bad, they'll have a basement to stay in until they "get back on their feet".

I've been predicting losses and getting wins, then predicting wins and getting losses. My success rate is getting close to the Habs 'away' record. So for what its worth...

  • LOSE 3-1.
  • Habs score their goal in the 1st period, of course
Wouldn't be surprised if...
  • Steve Begin pots the Game Winner for the Stars.
  • Halak sees another 35+ shots.

Enjoy the game tonight everyone. Imagine your Team as the talent equivalent of the Maple Leafs, or a 35+ Beer League team, and suddenly they are playing pretty good!

Self delusion is a wonderful survival tactic.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Thought

Given Tim Connolly's explosion in Buffalo since getting a contract extension, maybe Bob should be signing up his players to change some of their mental states of mind?

Signing Komisarek to a deal might get him hitting again; getting Koivu on contract might shake off his no doubt lingering considerations of retirement; Kovalev lead the team last year, no question -- so maybe showing him some cash might focus him aswell... So, what could be a reason be for the delay?

There are so many unsigned players, they don't have a team next year.

I believe the problem is Gainey is looking to shake up the makeup of his team next year. Let's assume he wants Komisarek to be the next Captain (although right now you might think I've had too many...) So Gainey signs Komisarek to a contract...

Its an immediate sign that Kovalev is secondary to the team, and poof you've guaranteed the Artiste is gone for whatever is left of the season. (Is there a chance he'll even come back down the stretch?) And the same for all the others that don't get the contract. Maybe the players are lost as to who and what they are playing for?

The other option is you sign Kovalev -- ok, he steps it up for the remaining games, and does what he does in the playoffs. But then Gainey is stuck with Kovalev; and I am not entirely sure Gainey wants Kovalev anymore! If Gainey was sure about Kovalev, he'd have been signed in January.

Gainey changed the make-up of his team this year: he went and got highly skilled players in Tanguay and Lang -- highly skilled, but journey-men. Meaning other GMs are happy to pass on them, despite their skill. The work ethic of the team got lazy, because it could -- play mediocre, and let Lang / Kovalev / Kostitsyn pop one in when they get around to it... Well, Lang is out and Kovalev is struggling, and now they are asked to grind out a goal every now and then? Bon chance mon ami.

Who's the leader of this team? Who's gonna be the leader of this team next year?

Can anyone answer that? Blaming the coach is very popular right now, what about the players who are supposed to be leaders? How do you get them to feel accountable when they have not been shown any confidence?

Just one last point; in recent years, typically I have noticed that if players are in a contract year entering free agency, they have huge years. Maybe Bob was trying to leverage that trend: unfortunately it looks like he might have gone a bit far, and decapitated his team in a year when everyone should have no other worry except the performance of the team.

Other (less sexy) reasons could be he really wanted to have the freedom to make trades during the season, or maybe he thought he himself might be out of a job, and didn't want to saddle his successor with a lot of no-trade clauses :)


Friday, March 6, 2009

Being a Habs Fan Is Like Having A High School Crush

Every teenager goes through it at some point: you fall in love with a really pretty girl/boy. You think they can do no wrong; you think they are perfect; and every time they do anything remotely successful they light up your day and your world.

You dream of being together, being soul mates, and being happy forever. There is just one little problem; the object of your affection has no idea you exist.

Like me and Scarlet Johanson here :)

And they constantly date arseholes or tramps; they have some bad habits, sure, but if they would just smarten up for a second they would drop those bad habits, stop dating arseholes and tramps, see how perfect you are and the dream could be alive!

(don't get creeped out, i'm making a point. ryan reynolds is awesome, btw.)

Every day that passes and they don't do what you hope tears you up a bit inside; you start to get a bit frantic and irrational -- you try different techniques to try and make them see your point of view -- but they just don't get it, it seems.

This is what its like to be a Montreal Canadiens fan, especially in this 100th year. You love the team so much, your dream is a parade on St Catherines street with the Stanley Cup, a city elated! Un Grand Parti Super Fantastique!! All they have to do is stop acting like arseholes, listen to your advice, and we can all live the dream!

But, like the high school crush, eventually you have to realise it ain't gonna happen. Accept them for who they are, accept the fact they are never gonna do the things that will make you happy, and get on with your life.

I'm tired of hoping this team will turn it around. I'm bored of waiting to see the team from last year come out to play. I'm sick of looking forward to an exciting game, only to watch the same old stuff. And I really pity the folks who have to write about this team for the rest of March; I'll keep up with my blog and twittering, but its not my job. I don't have to make a story. I don't have to sell news papers and TV commercials.

I'm no longer infatuated with this years Montreal Canadiens; as of now, we're "just friends." I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours, and if they succeed that's great, and if they fail, so be it, no harm done.

This attitude will change in April, if there is an April for the Habs, but as of now I'm more interested in next season than this one.

Who cares? And how can you?

MTL V ATL - LOSE 2-0 Summary

I shouldn't have worn my hat. The Habs never win when I wear my hat. Sorry fans...

Its gonna be a hell of a hangover for the Team after this one: because when they wake up Sunday morning before their game in Dallas, they won't be in the playoffs.

Price finally played a good game; an excellent game. He was sharp, controlled, and solid. They gotta go with Halak, but if goaltending were the only problem, that problem is looking to be on a path to redemption.

Unfortunately, there are a few other tiny little issues -- like not getting any offense, and not scoring any goals. Kovalev was dreadful, Koivu looked brain dead, Schneider looked old, and Tommy K looked worn out.

Bright spots include Max Pac, O'Bryne's fight, Higgins played Ok, and Tanguay had a great game back. He, Tanguay, looked to be the hungriest player out there. It's good: I hope he doesn't get discouraged.

But the dumb, constant penalties -- and everyone playing with one hand on their stick poking at the puck; it looked like no one in white wanted to touch the turd of a puck for fear of getting cooties.

I think Schneider needs less icetime, and they need to spread out their 'puck moving D'. Get Hamerlick or Komisarek up with Markov, Schneider and Gorgres, and keep Markov and Schneider on the Power Play together. Maybe with a bit of a rest, Schneider will stop getting beat at the point.

Carbo's got 2 choices: let up, have easy practices, and let the "skill" and "talent" try and find their groove -- ride out the season, or (my personal preference) skate them into the ground. Eventually they'll find their legs; and they'll compete, because they'll all be miserable. And they'll battle, because they will be sick to death of skating practice.

I fail to see how accepting the current level of play is a good move -- unless you are worried players might not sign back on for next year. (You can argue whether we even want them back). How can you pay players that much money and happily accept poor performance? It breeds a lack of caring and respect for the organization and the coaching staff -- forcing a change; when really it should be the opposite, I think. A clear "get on the bus, or get under it," position from the organization that wants to win.

Either way this team will be lucky to go .500 in March -- they'll be lucky to make the playoffs, and they won't get passed the second round, even if every other NHL team is quaranteened with a Clamidia outbreak until July.

Boone's Questionaire

There was an interesting set of questions posed by Gazette writer Mike Boone. I'm not really sure if he was driving at anything, but I definitely sensed a negative, given up tone.

I, of course, would like to respond. But I will pick just a few, as I don't want to write an Epic.

Do you seriously see your Montreal Canadiens as a Stanley Cup contender?
No. They don't seem hungry.

In these troubled times, how much of your equity would you bet on them making the playoffs?
$250, even bet. Who wants my money? It sure would be a tense March. They haven't yet reached the make-or-break point, but it starts next week for sure! every game is already important!

What ails Carey Price? Did he catch it from Mike Komisarek? And has it spread to Andrei Kostitsyn?
Now that is a really interesting Question! If I knew the answer I'd be a millionaire sports psychologist. Or a pro hockey columnist. If I had to guess, I would throw my hat in with those who say 'sophmore slump'. Kostitsyn has his money, obviously he was gonna blow. Komisarek and Price in a cyclone of suck: they suck because they are mentally depressed about their game, then they get more depressed about their game because they suck. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.

If Jaro Halak falters, can we start dreaming about John Tavares?
Good to see Mr Boone still has his sense of humour, and is willing to dream. Maybe if we draft him, he can grow an extra 2 arms and play both Center AND Wing. Awesome! or maybe he can coach!

On the morning after a loss and a plane trip, would you bag-skate 39-year-old Mathieu Schneider, who played 24 minutes the night before, 38-year-old Patrice Brisebois, 34-year-old cancer survivor Saku Koivu and 36-year-old Alex Kovalev?
You bet your ass I would! If they want to play like rookies, they can skate like rookies. It's a team game, and these leaders had better start leading. No one deserved a 'pass' from this workout. I hope Carbo skates them again after Atlanta. On your bikes, everyone! If you are gonna lose, you are gonna be so burned out by the end of the season you'll be contemplating retirement. There has been way to much leniancy on the players this year: the coaching staff has to push his players and assert some authority. The players are craving it.

If his name were not Guy Carbonneau, would he still be coaching the Montreal Canadiens?
That's another very interesting question! But assuming Gainey would hire only a coach he trusted, I would say yes. He fired Julien because he didn't hire Julien. If he fired the coach, at this point, he'd have to take over behind the bench; and that didn't really work last time. Gotta think Gainey is standing behind his coaching staff on this one, as well he should. Regardless of current woes. (May change in the summer or early next season, though).

If his name were not Bob Gainey, would he have the best job security – outside of maybe Gary Bettman – in the NHL?
I don't really get it. He was fired from Dallas, wasn't he? Or pushed out? Or if this is refering to Gillett's trust in him, then again, yes. Gillett hired who he thought was the best man for the job, and gave them complete controle. Whoever the GM is, Gillett would keep them, so long as the seats were full and merchandise sells. Check on both counts!

Anyhow, I hope I passed, Mr Boone.

MTL v ATL - Predictions

So, Halak is not Ba-lack tonight, Laraque is cracked, and Breezer has been Breeze'd-by. And its an away game.

Tanguay is back tonight, but has been off so long I can't see him making much of an impact. He and Koivu clicked really well at the beginning of the season, while other teams were still alseep: but its not November anymore, is it?

I was happy to hear Carbo skated his team; wake up those legs and get that blood pumping to the brain! If you work hard in practice, you work hard in the game.

Here's hoping Lehtonen will be Lettin'-'em-in tonight.

  • I gotta go with a Habs WIN, 4-2
  • Ilya will get a goal for Thrashers
  • Tanguay will get an assist. (ah, what the heck, why not)
Wouldn't be surprised if
  • Habs have a great first, and continue to bag off the next 2 periods (as is their current style)
  • Price gives up if he lets in a soft goal; and hence the team collapses.
All the fans are in agreement, this is a great time for the Habs to show their stuff and shake off that bad game in Buffalo -- prove they deserve to be in the Playoffs. Its not do-or-die, but a bad game today will certainly be a bad omen for the rest of the season.

Trade Deadline Payoff

Last night was a big night for all the newly acquired players from the deadline; just about every traded player, it seems, had an impact.

Gerber almost got a shutout, Little Scottie Upshall got himself a power play goal, Olli had big night in Calgary, even Guerin and Antropov got an assist each.

So now people might be thinking: see? Had Gainey made a move, we too could have reaped some rewards!

The bad news is we already reaped! Gainey's trade deadline was a week and a half ago when he benched Kovalev (who is quoted as saying "it feels like I have been traded to a new team," upon his return) and Schneider, who was racking up the points in his first 7 games.

Now while other teams are all having their post-trade deadline love in, the Habs are in the post-coitus zone: the excitement is once again over, and they need to keep their socks up and keep playing hard until the end of the season.

We certainly didn't see it in Buffalo, maybe we'll see it tonight.

The fans are hopping the team can do just that; find a groove, win games, come together as a team, and show they are ready for the Playoffs. Show grit, timely scoring, hard faught games, and yes, luck!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

MTL v BUF Loss 5-1 Recap

Well, I came in late to see the Habs were down 3-0; my fellow tweeters got me up to date on how crappy the lads were playing.

I watched the 3rd, where Buffalo scored on the power play and then short handed. Correction, make that Gaustad scored. Both goals.

From what I saw, this game was a write off (just write it off, Jerry). The Habs could do nothing right, the Sabres could do no wrong. I mean, they made Lalime look good! Come on! He's allowed to have a good game, but you can still punish him! Or not I guess.

And Carey Price's woes continue. Looks like he is still a spectator; he's watching the game. He was out of his net, cutting down angles... then watching pucks go by him. Again, the team seems to play a bit differently for him, but he is not in Springtime Form. Damn it, another broken goalie.

Anyhow, they gotta forget this game. Everyone sucked -- and there is no time for bowling and soul searching. Maybe they all felt super releaved after the trade deadline, whereas Buffalo was energized. Laugh it off, Carbo should work them in a 90 minute + practice, get back to work, someone give Price some cocaine if he has to play...

... and be ready for Illya Kovelchuk and the Thrashers.

MTL v BUF Predictions and Apologies

Sorry everyone, I won't be twitting the game tonight as I have a playoff game of my own at 7pm. I might get in late and watch the Express.

  • Habs WIN 3-2
  • Carey Price starts a goaltending controversy
Wouldn't be surprised if:
  • Kovalev gets a goal on the Power Play
  • Price actually looks weak, and everyone hopes for Halak's quick return.
Enjoy the game everyone!

Trade Deadline Post Mortem

So another trade deadline day has passed, and it was mostly waiver-junk and third liners. There is plenty of analysis elsewhere (elsewhere) but I will break down my highlights:

Biggest Fish: Well, no kidding, its Ollie "The Big Joke" Jokinen. I was surprised to see Calgary lose Langkow in a trade: I figured they'd want to keep both and have 2 awesome centerman; but maybe that was impossible. This is big for Calgary; Jokinen and Iginla on the same line, they are gonna get 100 shots a game. Jokinen is also back with Keenan, and the ol' coach might light a fire under the struggling star.  Of course, if everybody is shooting, who's passing? Who's forechecking? Despite that, I suspect these 2 guys will mesh well.

Phoenix gets more grit... well who cares. The draft pick is more important; but Calgary is pretty solid and probably doesn't need it this year. Phoenix also got Little Scottie Upshall (good riddance, I don't have to watch him anymore). These guys will be coachable by the Great One. Phoenix definitely didn't win Trade Deadline Day (TDD) but they certainly didn't lose.

Can't Give 'Em Away: Bill Guerin for a 'conditional 5th round pick'? Ouch! After sitting for 5 days! This might not have been the deal they had in mind, but its all they got. Who is doing who a favour here? I thought Guerin was having an Ok year; he has playoff grit... oh well. Next up would be Telquvist for 2010 4th rounder.. "we'll get 'em next-next year, boys!!" and Kyle McLaren for a 6th rounder -- oops, not time to clear waivers, but we need roster/cap room!

Say It Ain't So! My main man Mark Recchi is in Boston? Booo. Mark Recchi is my favorite player, and became so while he was playing for The Home Team. He really seemed to be the only one playing those many years, doing it all and giving it all. And now the Energizer Journey-Man is playing for the Bad Guys. Well, good luck to them both. If the Habs aren't looking like a contender, then they certainly are! Huh? What am I saying? Thomas is a bum, and they'll burn out 2nd round tops.

And All the Rest: I Think LeClair going to the Sens is huge for them; hopefully they don't destroy his career like they did Lalime, Emery, Gerber, Hasek, (grassy-knoll) Barasso, Tugnutt ... Vermett is easily replaceable. The Leafs finally, finally, finally got rid of Antropov, so good for them. I don't know why they got 5 goalies though (Toskala, Joseph, Kolzig, Gerber, Pogge)-- you can't play them at the same time, Burke! Not much else...

I think the rest of the trades were low risk shuffles, to try and change the polish on some of the teams, but should have no real impact. Every one else was kinda having an off year, a misfit, or just a no-op. Some might turn out to be "the missing link," and that would be impressive.

Kaberle and Bowemeester so far haven't moved (doubt they are a last minute thing) so wo0-pidee-doo.

And to no one's surprise, Gainey didn't do squat today. And really, what could he have done? He likes his team too much to trade whatever value he has on a Hope. And frankly, so do I. I like Higgins and Komisarek and Pleks and the Artiste and all the rest of them goofy bastards. Perhaps in the off season things will be different; but then, everyone will be a free agent anyhow.