Friday, September 30, 2011

Habs lose, Lightning, Hawks, Sens, Crosby, Doughty, Rumours and more...

Habs News
Hockey Inside/Out - Canadiens practice, blow town

Too early to panic?

Multimedia after Canadiens’ 4-0 loss

Punchless Canadiens drop another one

RDS - 6e défaite en sept matchs

«Je suis tanné de perdre», Brian Gionta

Le CH s'attaque aux gilets contrefaits

NHL News




30 TEAMS IN 30 DAYS: OTTAWA SENATORS - VIDEO: One-on-one with Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews

VIDEO: Puck Panel – Phoenix Coyotes 2011-12 preview

NHL Free Agent and Trade News – September 30, 2011

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Habs v Lightning, Weber, Campoli, Leafs Kadri, Flyers, Sens, Jets and more...

Habs News
Hockey Inside/Out - Last home exhibition game for Habs

Postcard, video, audio from camp

RDS - Un avenir incertain pour Yannick Weber

Frédéric St-Denis a fait ses preuves

TSN - 30 TEAMS IN 30 DAYS: MONTREAL CANADIENS - Writers Weigh In: Adding Campoli

NHL News





NHL TEAMS LOOK TO MINOR LEAGUE AFFILIATES FOR HEAD COACHES - Rep versus reality for Boudreau, Caps - VIDEO: Puck Panel – Los Angeles Kings 2011-12 preview

Spector's Hockey - NHL Rumors – September 29, 2011

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Northeast Preview: Boston Bruins

With summer behind us and camps drawing to a close, it seems like the perfect time to contemplate the moves made by Montreal and its various division rivals. Over five parts, we will take a look at each team and venture a guess at where they will finish in 2011-12.Today, we wrap up the series by profiling the Habs biggest nemesis, the Boston Bruins
Last season: 46-25-11, 103 points (1st in Northeast, 3rd in East, Stanley Cup Champions)

Additions: Joe Corvo, D; Josh Hennessy, C; Benoit Pouliot, LW; Jamie Tardif, F

Subtractions: Thomas Kaberle, D; David Laliberte, RW; Mark Recchi, RW; Michael Ryder, RW; Boris Valabik D

Look above. Not a whole lot of changes, right? The fact that the Bruins have managed to keep their Stanley Cup Winning roster so intact should be a worrisome proposition for other Eastern Conference opponents. No doubt, the loss of Michael Ryder and Mark Recchi are noteworthy. While Ryder, as Habs fans well know, can be streaky, he nonetheless put up an impressive post-season performance, contributing 17 points in 25 games. As for Mark Recchi, his veteran savvy and complimentary scoring will undoubtedly be missed. A man with 1652 games of NHL experience is difficult, if not impossible, to replace. 

And, yet, with the acquisition of Benoit Pouliot and the continued emergence of Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand as well as, to a lesser extent, Jordan Caron, it is clear that the Bruins have the tools to compensate for the loss of the two forwards.

As for the backend, after many season of courting, Peter Chiarelli finally managed to land Thomas Kaberle from Toronto late last season. However, his presence during the playoffs only allowed the Bruins to muster a horrendous 11.4% efficiency on the powerplay and, unsurprisingly, he was not retained in the offseason.

Indeed, it is quite impressive that Boston defeated Montreal and won a Stanley Cup with such a pitiful man-advantage. With Joe Corvo replacing the underwhelming Kaberle, it is hard to imagine the squad doing any worse.
As for those who doubt Tim Thomas’ ability to put-up another Vezina-like campaign, those doubts are understandable. As resilient, hard-working and headstrong as Thomas may be, he cannot fight the hand of time. Yet, as he has proven many times, doubting him is often a foolish notion. And, even should he falter, the Bruins can always fall back on Tukka Rask, who would easily be a starting netminder on at least 20 other teams.

With a virtually unchanged roster, emerging youngsters and two excellent goaltenders, it seems unwise to bet against the Bruins in the Northeast division. 
Prediction: 1st in the North East.

Will the Bruins win their division again? Can they repeat as Cup Champs?    

Louis is an Associate Editor at and an Editor at Louis was born in Chicago but grew up in Quebec City where he earned Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Université Laval. He currently lives in Ottawa and works for the Coaching Association of Canada. He can be reached at

Habs in Halifax, Cuts from Camp, Campoli, Ducks, Oilers, Simmonds, Rumours and more...

Habs News - Montreal Canadiens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly - Halifax Edition

Northeast Preview: Boston Bruins

Hockey Inside/Out - Canadiens camp winds down

Gabriel Dumont assigned to Bulldogs

Canadiens cut three more players, Tinordi to London

RDS - Un meilleur contexte pour C. Campoli

Des joueurs du CH louangent Shanahan - Canadiens make more cuts, sign two

NHL News



The issues in Wayne Simmonds' version

Spector's Hockey - NHL Free Agent News – September 28, 2011

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Montreal Canadiens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly - Halifax Edition

Being a local, I was excited to score tickets to the Habs - Bruins preseason game at the Halifax Metro Center. Sure, it's preseason and it's not like I expected much in regards to the players I would see, or the final score, but it's hockey and it's the Habs and I knew what I was getting when I bought the tickets.

For the most part I was interested in seeing three players in particular: Erik Cole, Alexei Yemelin and Peter Budaj. Naturally, I also wanted a good look at the kids, most of whom have failed to impress me in the preseason play I've watched thus far.

The Good

If Scott Gomez keeps this up, he's in for a good year. The goal was nice, but what I saw was a determination, focus and effort level that he seemed to have misplaced for most of last season. He worked hard, played smart, and had some nice chemistry with Erik Cole.

Erik Cole is a nice addition to the roster. He's big, not afraid to get his nose dirty and is faster than he looks on television. He got a bit lazy once the wheels came off and resorted to cherry picking from the blueline, but with a full NHL squad around him he's going to create time and space and he's also going to find the back of the net.

The Habs fans contingent in Halifax, Nova Scotia is much larger than I thought. If we didn't outnumber the Boston fans in that little arena (capacity just over 10,000) then we at least met them halfway. Also the count of Go Habs Go chants from fans in the street was 10-2 over people who told us they sucked. Gotta like it!

The Bad

After watching them play a full 60 minutes, I have to maintain my previous opinion that the Habs rookie prospects are completely underwhelming. There's a bit of talent amongst them, but I don't believe most will ever make the NHL, at least not with this team.

They are so busy showing off that there is little teamwork, cohesion or vision on the ice. Most of the time they are unaware of where their linemates are, and they are all far too easily knocked off the puck. I don't recall them delivering a check until well into the third period.

At one point one of the kids was literally standing against the boards watching his linemates skate by, and he was totally surprised to when his centerman passed him the puck, which he immediately turned over. There was little evidence of "hockey smarts", with perhaps Aaron Palushaj being the exception.

Frankly, none of the kids are good enough to showboat at this point, and it is in direct conflict with the teamwork philosophy that the Canadiens have worked hard to develop as a team identity in the past couple of years.

I was also disappointed in Alexei Yemelin who failed to clear the blue paint, didn't seem particularly involved in the game, and like the rest of the team, didn't bother to deliver any checks until too late in the game. Only Alex Henry got frustrated and angry, for which he took a stupid penalty.

When it comes to the vets on the squad, Hal Gill's 10 foot reach is not always going to compensate for his lack of speed and that is brutally painful to watch without PK Subban to cover for it. Mathieu Darche and Andrei Kostitsyn were completely invisible for the entire night.

The Ugly

I know the defense around Peter Budaj was brutal and didn't help, but there were also goals he absolutely should have had. From where I sat center ice I could always feel him sweat and shake whenever the Bruins got a clear shot at him. He lacks confidence and rebound control, and does not track the puck well at all. Pierre Groulx has his work cut out with him here.

There is no excuse for giving up two short-handed goals like that. The power play showed little cohesion, passing too much and shooting too little. The penalty kill was a mishmash of panic and scramble.

So there you have it. If I were Jacques Martin and had to pick a 13th forward today to make the squad, I'd probably pick Palushaj, just because I think he will do the least damage and may even grow from the experience.

I do think that despite all the depth signings of defenseman by Pierre Gauthier over the summer, if the Habs sustain even half the injuries they did last season, we will be spending to the cap again. I have little faith in the defenders that are currently available for call-up.

Tyg used to frequent the Old Forum during her early childhood when he father held corporate season tickets, and she fell in love with Larry Robinson. So her lifelong obsession with the Habs is entirely his fault.

Habs/Bruins, Price ready, Cammalleri, Crosby close, Wisniewski, Rumours and more...

Habs News - Montreal Canadiens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly - Halifax Edition

Montreal Canadiens signs Chris Campoli, Habs Cut Ten from Camp

Hockey Inside/Out - Canadiens cut three more players, Tinordi to London

Bruins down Canadiens again

RDS - Troisième période funeste

Malgré la défaite, Carey Price est prêt

Cammalleri honoré pour son implication

NHL News



James Wisniewski gets hefty ban - Campbell: CHL fights, hockey racism and suspensions

VIDEO: Puck Panel – Anaheim Ducks 2011-12 preview

Spector's Hockey - NHL Trade and Free Agent Rumors – September 27, 2011

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Montreal Canadiens signs Chris Campoli, Habs Cut Ten from Camp

In light of a difficult start to the pre-season and the continued doubt surrounding Andrei Markov's health, the Montreal Canadiens added some depth by signing defencemen Chris Campoli to a one-year, $1.75 million contract. It could also be said that both Yannick Weber and Alexei Yemelin have not necessarily impressed as camp progressed, which perhaps precipitated Pierre Gauthier's move.

The blueliner entered the summer as a restricted free agent and had an arbitration hearing scheduled for August 3rd. However, the Blackhawks, who traded for Campoli at the deadline, were not prepared to match the eventual award and, as a result, the hearing was moved. The two parties agreed to a $2.5 million settlement and the Blackhawks walked away from the decision, allowing Campoli to become an unrestricted free agent.

Last season, the North York native split the campaign between Ottawa and Chicago, recording 21 points in 77 games. In 397 career NHL contests with the Islanders, Senators and Blackhawks, Campoli has 33 goals and 102 assists.

Canadiens make cuts

Ten players have been cut from the Canadiens training camp today. Olivier Archambault, Nathan Beaulieu and Morgan Ellis will join their QMJHL teams. Meanwhile Alexander Avtsin, Andrew Conboy Dany Massé, Mark Mitera, Joe Stejskal, Robert Mayer and Peter Delmas are destined for Hamilton. Finally, reports also seem to indicate that Brock Trotter's name has been put on waivers today.


Louis is an Associate Editor at and an Editor at Louis was born in Chicago but grew up in Quebec City where he earned Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Université Laval. He currently lives in Ottawa and works for the Coaching Association of Canada. He can be reached at

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

Habs lose, Bruins post game, Canucks make cuts, Pens, Caps, Rumours and more...

Habs News
Hockey Inside/Out - Latest loss wasn’t pretty

Another L for Habs .. and a stinkeroo against THEM!

RDS - Soirée d'apprentissage


NHL News


NOLAN RELEASED AS CANUCKS TRIM DOWN ROSTER - Camp Tour: Jagr wants to prove Flyers' faith in him wasn't a mistake

VIDEO: Puck Panel – Vancouver Canucks 2011-12 preview

Spector's Hockey - NHL Rumor and Waiver News – September 26, 2011

(Photo by Getty Images North America)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Habs lose, Sens, Lightning, Doughty, Leafs, Wild preview, Rumours and more...

Habs News
Hockey Inside/Out - At last, the Bruins

Palushaj makes a point, plus video

RDS - Chris Neil fait mal au CH


NHL News




Backchecking: Laurie Boschmann

Spector's Hockey - NHL Free Agent and Trade Rumor News – September 25, 2011

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Habs Wins, Sens post game, Pacioretty, Gomez, Leafs, NHL realignment and more...

Habs News
Hockey Inside/Out - Pacioretty, Gomez key Canadiens’ win

RDS - Pacioretty s'illustre dans une remontée


NHL News


LeBrun's rumblings: Dallas in Central or Southeast? Sharks trade?

NHL execs meet, talk realignment

Sportsnet - Acting alone

Reimer's heavy shoulders

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Habs/Sens, Gomez returns, Desharnais out, Suspensions, Avs, Rumours and more...

Habs News
Hockey Inside/Out - TGIF? Not for the Canadiens

‘The Last Enforcers’ worth seeing

Gomez will play this weekend

Gomez prêt à effectuer un retour au jeu

Erik Cole a bien connu Mike Modano

Training Camp Stock Watch

NHL News




Faceoff: Hooray for transparency! - Proteau: My NHL predictions - East

VIDEO: Puck Panel – Colorado Avalanche 2011-12 preview

Sportsnet - Hordichuk's expertise

Stop sign

Spector's Hockey - NHL Rumor News – September 23, 2011

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Canadiens - Sabres Game Notes: Buffalo 3 - Montreal 1

by Kamal Panesar

Last night the Montreal Canadiens played their second exhibition game of the 2011-2012 NHL pre-season, against the Buffalo Sabres. While their effort was better than in their 6-3 loss to the Stars on Tuesday, the result—which at this time of the year doesn't mean much—was the same, as they dropped the decision.

We got a look at a whole different lineup from Tuesday, however, with notable returns to action by Josh Gorges and Max Pacioretty. We also got our first look at top prospect, Nathan Beaulieu, in action against a Sabres squad that was largely filled with veteran players.

What follows are some of the highlights.

Game Notes

Josh Gorges - His knee looked great as he was skating well all night and didn't seem any worse for wear. Just to make sure it was put to the test, however, Gorges got knocked around on a number of different occasions by Sabres' players. No hit was more notable then when he was crunched by Tyler Myers in the second with no ill effects.

It's good to see Gorges back in the lineup for Montreal!

Now that's a good combo: With Scott Gomez on the sidelines with a lower body injury, David Desharnais got the call to pivot the second line. And he did not disappoint.

His chemistry with Max Pacioretty was evident as the two, flanked by captain Brian Gionta, were a threat every time they were on the ice.

It will be interesting to see how long Gomez is out but, so far, DD looks like a more than adequate replacement.

Nathan Beaulieu - Wow, this kid is good! What a performance by the 19-year-old in his first game against real NHL competition. This kid looked like a mini-P.K. Subban.

Excellent skating, tremendous mobility, a nose for the net, a fierce shot from the point and a Bobby Orr-like ability to carry the rush.

I've got to say that it was a treat watching Beaulieu and Subban working the point on the power play, with the two dancing circles around the Buffalo defenders.

He still has a long way to go but, he seems to have all the tool to become a real star in this league.

Subban himself has some choice words to say about the youngster:

The future of the Habs backend is certainly bright!

Subban - Speaking of the PP, Subban looked superb last night. He picked up where he left off last season and, brimming with confidence, played a solid game at both ends of the ice.

P.K. got the Habs on the board on a sweet pass from Beaulieu at the line, on the PP. Subban made a move on the first defender, walked in and fired a low hard wrister past the Sabres' netminder

This looks like a guy who isn't going to be having any part of a sophomore slump.

Max Pacioretty - He looked great. Big, fast, hitting, going to the net. Again, playing with DD and Gionta, Pacioretty was a threat all game. He didn't capitalize on any of his numerous chances but that will come in time. He looked like his game timing was off a little, which is to be expected this early in the season.

I feel he's in for a true breakout season.

Peter Budaj - He's better than Alex Auld, plain and simple. No offense to Auld, but Budaj is a goalie who has been on the cusp of being a starter for a long time. As such, he brings a better set of skills to the ice and will be a player the Habs can lean on more this season, allowing Price to rest a little in the process.

Alexander Avtsin - I'm sorry, who? This guy was a ghost last night and continues to have difficulty living up to his once top billing. Talking to Rick Springhetti, amateur scout for McKeen's Magazine, he feels that Avtsin just doesn't have the mindset to ever make it in the NHL.

That remains to be seen but, for now, he isn't doing much to help his cause.

Bizarre incident: Hunter Bishop hit a Buffalo player, bounced off of him and fell to the ice in considerable pain. After a few moments he was helped off the ice but didn't return for the rest of the game.

Up next: The Habs have the day off before getting back at in on Friday in Ottawa against the Senators.

Kamal is a freelance Habs writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on The Team 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Habs lose, Sabres post game, Beaulieu shines, Flames preview, rumours and more...

Habs News - Canadiens - Sabres Game Notes: Buffalo 3 - Montreal 1

Northeast Preview: Montreal Canadiens

Hockey Inside/Out - Video: Postgame Pacioretty in return to action

Canadiens get a brief respite

A loss that felt like a win

RDS - Beaulieu saisit sa chance

Nathan Beaulieu s'attire les éloges


NHL News


VIDEO: Puck Panel – Calgary Flames 2011-12 preview - Daniel Tkaczuk: Who goes to training camp?

NHL Trade & Free Agent Rumors and News – September 22, 2011

NHL Rumors from the Blogosphere – September 22, 2011

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Northeast Preview: Montreal Canadiens

by Louis Moustakas

With summer well behind us, it seems like the perfect time to contemplate the moves made by Montreal and its various division rivals. Over five parts, we will take a look at each team and venture a guess at where they will finish in 2011-12. It is now time to look at our favorite team, the Montreal Canadiens.  

Last season: 44-30-8, 96 points (2nd in Northeast, 6th in East)

Additions: Michael Blunden, RW; Peter Budaj, G; Erik Cole, W; Peter Delmas, G; Raphael Diaz, D; Nathan Lawson, G; Mark Mitera, D; Brock Trotter, C; Brian Willsie, RW; Jeff Woywitka, D; Alexei Yemelin, D

Subtractions: Alex Auld, G; Dustin Boyd, C; Mahtieu Carle, D; Nigel Dawes, LW; Jeff Halpern, C; Roman Hamrlik, D; Kyle Klubertanz, D; Drew MacIntyre, G; Alexandre Picard, D; Benoit Pouliot, LW; Tom Pyatt, F; Ryan Russell, C; Brent Sopel, D; James Wisniewski, D; J.T Wyman, RW;
Last year, the Canadiens managed to finish a respectable sixth in the Eastern Conference in spite of a slew of injuries that forced Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, Jaroslav Spacek and Max Pacrioretty, to name but a few, to miss considerable time. As a result, Pierre Gauthier spent significant resources plugging holes in his lineup, especially on the backend. In the end, Gauthier would be compelled to acquire three blueliners, James Wisniewski, Paul Mara and Brent Sopel, over the course of the season.

Clearly, as Gauthier entered the summer, he looked to avoid a repeat of that situation. While many defencemen, including Roman Hamrlik, James Wisniewski and Brent Sopel, left the organization, depth, and youth, was added to the backend.
Raphael Diaz and Alexei Yemelin, who both have considerable international experience, were brought over from Europe. Jeff Woywitka and Mark Mitera should add above-average talent to the Bulldogs. Add to that the returns of Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges along with the continued development of Yannick Weber and Brendon Nash, who was a surprise call-up last season, and the squad seems far better equipped to handle injuries to its blueline.

Meanwhile, management also landed a big fish in winger Erik Cole, who adds much needed size and scoring to Montreal’s attack. Even should his production fail to meet expectations, his addition, along with rising youngsters Lars Eller, Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais, gives the Habs scoring options throughout their top-nine. It has been a long while since we were able to sincerely make that statement.       
In short, this edition of the Canadiens appears to have a depth that was not present in recent years. This depth not only allows the team to more comfortably absorb injuries, but also creates precious competition for ice time. Beyond that, they also possess two of the league’s rising stars in P.K Subban and Carey Price, players who are both able to elevate their game and literally carry their team.  

Key players returning to health. Improved depth. Emerging youth. Sounds like a recipe for success.

And if the above does not work out as planned, there is always that four million dollars of cap space that could be handy.

Prediction: 2nd in the North East.

What do you think? Where will our favourite team finish next season? Can they win the Division?   
Louis is an editor at and has been writing about Canadiens and NHL hockey since 2009. Louis was born in Chicago but grew up in Quebec City where he earned Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Université Laval. He currently lives in Ottawa and works for the Coaching Association of Canada. He can be reached at

Habs lose, Stars post-game, Ovechkin, Staal, Leafs, Coyotes and more...

Habs News - Canadiens-Stars Post-Game Notes: Dallas 6 - Montreal 3

Hockey Inside/Out - Let’s try that again

RDS - Un lent départ coûteux

Cole heureux de compter rapidement

TSN - NHL-X: STARS GET THREE ON PRICE EARLY IN WIN OVER CANADIENS - HW 3 Stars: Sluggish start proves costly

NHL News



FIVE BURNING CENTRAL DIVISION QUESTIONS - Headaches continue to beset Marc Staal - VIDEO: Puck Panel – Toronto Maple Leafs 2011-12 preview

International Scouting Services: Junior games to watch in 2011

Spector's Hockey - NHL Free Agent Defensemen News – September 21, 2011

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Canadiens-Stars Post-Game Notes: Dallas 6 - Montreal 3

by Kamal Panesar

The Montreal Canadiens kicked off their busy exhibition schedule—they play six games in seven nights—last night at the Bell Centre with a 6-3 regulation loss to the Dallas Stars.

It's the pre-season so, in a lot of ways, the final score is kind of irrelevant. What is relevant, however, is how the players look on the ice. How ready for the NHL speed the prospects are. Who looks good playing with whom and, overall, how quickly the players can shake off the rust to re-establish their game timing.

Last night was also the first glimpse many had of newcomers like Alexei Yemelin and Eric Cole, among others. While the Habs lost the game there were still several highlights and points of interest. What follows are the things that stood out, to me.

Game Notes

Brock Trotter - Trying another kick at the can in the NHL after spending last season in the KHL, Trotter looked good on the ice. He is quick, has some slick moves and even did a nice spin-o-rama in the first to evade his defender. It will be interesting to see him play with some of the veterans going forward.

Eric Cole - The Habs prized offseason acquisition wasted no time showing his team and fans why he was such a good pickup. Big and strong with a solid skating stride, Cole is constantly going to the net. Playing on a line with Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec last night—a line that seems destined to start the season together—Cole's size was the perfect complement to his diminutive linemates.

Like Max Pacioretty playing with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta last year, Cole's presence opens up a ton of space for Plekanec and Cammalleri making both more effective. In addition, Cole has excellent finish as he showed when he took a pass from Plekanec and fired a shot past Dallas netminder, Andrew Raycroft, to put the Habs on the board at 5:36 of the second.

With Cole playing on the top line, Plekanec now has two legitimate scoring wingers for the first time since he played with Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn in 2008.

Raphael Diaz - Another in a series of promising Swiss defenseman brought over by the Habs made his debut last night. It took a little while for him to get going but he did show great vision, slick passing and some smooth skating.

That being said, he was mostly quiet last night, except for on the power play where he looked really good and demonstrated his blistering shot from the point.

Diaz seems like a player who needs to adjust to the smaller ice surface of North America. Not only is the NHL game faster than the one he's been playing overseas, but the smaller ice means that players and plays come at you that much faster. This was only the first game of the exhibition season however, and he'll adjust.

It's early but I still think he should do that adjusting in the AHL.

I liked seeing Diaz and Yannick Weber on the point on the PP. Both have great vision, passing and solid shots. The duo kind of reminded me of P.K. Subban and James Wisniewski from last season, where both could fire howitzers at the net.

Andrei Kostitsyn - Kostitsyn—who scored on one heck of a hard wrister in the second—looked as good as I've ever seen him look. I don't know if it is the one-year contract, the fact that he seems destined for third line duties this year or perhaps even just getting his head screwed on straight, but he looked hungry and dangerous all night.

In essence, he played like the player that everyone hopes and feels he should be.

Now it's only one game and against an incomplete NHL lineup, but if he can keep up that kind of intensity and focus over the course of the season, he should have no problem scoring 20-plus goals for a fourth time in five seasons, possibly landing himself a new contract in the process.

Alexei Yemelin - For all the talk about Yemelin's meanness and physicality he showed last night that he is a multi-dimensional player who can not only play physical but who actually has some great hockey skills.

His excellent passing and great vision led to the Jeff Woywitka blast from 10 feet out, making it a one-goal game half way through the second.

Almost more important than his on-ice skill—which is considerable—he carries himself like a veteran and plays with brimming confidence. You can see his experience at work when he takes his time to make plays rather than rushing the pass, which often leads to scoring opportunities.

The perfect example was in the third period where Yemelin made a calm, cool pass to Michael Blunden in the high slot, under pressure. Blunden fumbled the pass but the play shows the kind of on-ice awareness and poise Yemelin has.

Oh, and he can still hit as he showed by going low on Thomas Vincor, sending him head over heels with about four minutes to play in the third period. The best part is that after the hit, Vincor went right back at Yemelin. Yemelin took the hit and just focused on the game rather than getting involved in any shenanigans. That ability to "walk away", so to speak, is the sign of a mature player.

Jarred Tinordi - My god is he big. I mean, really freaking big.

Tinordi skates very well for a big man and has excellent positioning. He still needs some seasoning, however, and you can see he has not yet fully adjusted to the speed of the NHL game. But he'll figure it out in time.

Tinordi will play in Junior again this year. He was cut from the World Junior Championships US squad last year but he should be able to secure a roster space this season. That experience at the WJCs should go a long towards making this kid a gamer.

Sweet spot: Jeff Woywitka scoring against his former team. That's got to be sweet and you could see how happy he was. Oh, and did anyone else notice how freaking big he is? Yowza! That and he has decent wheels, likes to hit and has a blistering shot. Looks like a good pickup for Montreal.

Throw down: Man can Ian Schultz throw a punch! He and Francis Wathier went toe-to-toe at 13:09 in the third in a pretty even bout. Both players are big and each landed solid shots as they were both surely trying to get their respective team management's attention.

Stat of the night: The Habs were absolutely obliterated in the faceoff circle winning only 14 out of 51 draws for a sad 27.45 percent success rate.

Up next: The Canadiens are back at it tonight when they welcome the Buffalo Sabres to the Bell Centre. Game time is 7:30 pm.

Kamal is a freelance Habs writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on The Team 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Habs/Stars, Gallagher, Leafs, Sabres, Sens, Flyers, Rumours and more...

Habs News - Montreal Canadiens: Gallagher Impresses at Camp, Questions on Defense

Montreal Canadiens: Let's Get This Party Started! by Willey

Hockey Inside/Out - Are you ready for some hockey?

Five players cut, Price faces Dallas

Video: Spacek, Trotter, Pacioretty, final Habs scrimmage

Martin foresees 50+ warm bodies in Habs’ exhibition season

RDS - Jouer avec les vétérans

Une page à tourner pour Pacioretty

Plusieurs vétérans en uniforme mardi

NHL News






NHL-X: GERBE SCORES GAME-WINNER AS SABRES TOP HURRICANES - Camp Tour: Kings' Philly connection helping Mike Richards with transition - Campbell: Contract negotiations don't define Doughty's character

VIDEO: Puck Panel – Ottawa Senators 2011-12 preview

Tom Thompson: Traverse City tournament signals birth of a new NHL season

Spector's Hockey - Rumors from the NHL Blogosphere – September 20, 2011

Latest on the Rangers, Canucks and Islanders

Montreal Canadiens: Let's Get This Party Started!

by Willey

The 2011-2012 NHL season for the Montreal Canadiens kicks off tonight at the Bell Center, with the welcome of the visiting Dallas Stars.

I, for one, am usually a pessimistic individual when it comes to this team. I have been critical of our defense core, have despised the lack of grit and tenacity with our forward group, and have been extremely judgmental with the action—or lack thereof—of management.

Every September I sit here, or on other nameless hockey forums around the web and criticize what was done wrong, what we must do to improve and where I ultimately see this team fishing.

Now like anyone reading this, I absolutely live and breathe hockey. Before the birth of my children I would be inclined to watch 7-10 games a week, play 2-3 nights in various leagues and then of course fill my days conversing in all things hockey. Perhaps it was the birth of my daughter that changed things for me, perhaps it is just a means of maturing with age but this year is different. This year I feel, well, at ease.

Sure I still like to speak my mind when it comes to the NHL or to my beloved Habs, and I continue to play at least 2 nights a week but when it comes to the product that Pierre Gauthier has put forward, I am inclined to finally say “I believe”.

It's an easy thing to say when you are a fan of the team, but usually I am on the other side of the fence boasting about the struggles that Les Glorieux are going to feel. But this year I believe. I believe in our forward group, I believe in our defense our goaltending and our management.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I really like Pierre Gauthier. Not in that, “Hey Pierre, whatcha doing tonight” type of way but more along the lines that I have complete confidence in his vision.

I just hope that this confidence can translate into success on the ice.

A Lack of Toughness No More

Up Front

I think it is safe to say that for many years there has been an apparent lack of physicality with this team. Sure we have had some success against our rivals in Boston and Toronto but for the most part when the physical play picks up; our team seems to show difficulty.

So what exactly was done?

Up front Gauthier allowed Jeff Halpern, Tom Pyatt and the much maligned Benoit Pouliot to all seek employment elsewhere. In their place he has secured a roster spot for Ryan White, and acquired two big players in the 6’2 power forward Erik Cole—who was 10th in the NHL in hits among forwards last season—and the 6’4 fourth line right winger Michael Blunden.

Granted it is still unknown whether Blunden will be able to secure a roster spot with the big club, but his NHL experience combined with his two-way contract now gives coach Jacques Martin options. When you add a player like the 6’2 Max Pacioretty to the mix—he missed a large portion of the season last year—it is extremely clear that we have become a lot bigger and perhaps better than any roster we have iced in the past half-decade or so.

On the Back End

The Departure of Alex Picard, James Wisniewski, Roman Hamrlik, Brent Sopel and Paul Mara means the loss of five big D-men who, apart from Wisniewski, are all 6’2 or taller.

So at first glance it appears as though we did in fact get smaller.

Yes we lost 6'4 Mara and Picard and the toughness of Wisniewski but we have replaced these elements with a group of five that are younger, quicker and ultimately better.

The team set to welcome the return of Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, combined with the acquisition of the 6’3 Jeff Woywitka and the arrival of the Russian enigma, 6’3 Alexei Emelin. As such, our D-core is set.

Forget about the rumours mongers suggesting pretty much every name under the sun. We have already replaced every name that was lost and have vastly improved in a position which was already considered our strong suit.

Do I have my my homer glasses on? Am I completely overrating these guys? Well do me a favor and compare them. Look at the five additions and the five subtractions and ask yourself, who would you rather have?

Markov or Wisniewski?
Gorges or Hamrlik?
Mara or Emelin?
Sopel or Weber?
Picard or Woywitka?

They are cheaper, younger, hungrier, quicker, and better, that's what I see.

A Lack of Depth No More

Do you remember when it seemed like our team was saving up for that ultimate vacation, but then had an issue with a leaky roof? Our GM had to spend all his money to fix that leaky roof simply to assure we made the playoffs.

Do you remember a time when the moment a forward was injured and we were obliged to try Jeff Halpern as our first line right winger? Or Travis Moen as a mainstay on the second line left wing?

Up Front

With the arrival of Cole and Pacioretty we are now faced with a scenario where our top two lines have a combination of size, skill, veterans and rookies. We also have a complimentary third line that will feature a consistent 20-goal scorer and a player who was the leading point getter in the AHL just a season ago.

We have a line-up that will allow players like Moen, White, Mathieu Darche, Blunden and Andreas Engqvist to fill a role with which they are comfortable: as fourth liners.

My line-up would look like this:


Is this the best and perhaps deepest line-up we have seen perhaps since the late 90’s?

On Defense

Just a season ago we were faced with having to rush players like Brandon Nash to the NHL or having to trade away prospects, players and picks just to be able to ice a competitive line-up. Less than a year later we have a roster that has nine or 10 players who can easily be considered NHLers.

A roster which includes Markov, Emelin, Gorges, Gill, Subban, Spacek, Weber, Woywitka, Raphael Diaz and possibly even Mark Mitera or Alex Henry.

It is a group which consists of veterans and rookies, offensive players and defensive players, puck moves, shot blockers, heavy hitters, players with heavy shots, power play quarterbacks and penalty kill catalysts.

Essentially it is a group which has it all and, personally, I would ice a roster which looked something like this:



Is this not a line-up to be optimistic with?

Final thoughts

It has been a while since I sat down to write a blog.

It was originally my intention to carry on with at least some sort of presence on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, while Kamal tended to the arrival of his beautiful baby boy. But my intentions and priorities were altered over the course of the summer with what seemed like perpetual anguish.

Although my summer was terrific as it allowed me to spend ample time with my wife and children, it was also darkened with the passing of too many members of the hockey family. Words cannot express the set of emotions which filled my body when the news of the plane crash that took the lives of so many from the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

As a father of two beautiful children, I could not begin to fathom the complexity of emotions that the friends and families must be feeling. A parent should never have to bury their child no matter what the age. In times like this it puts life in perspective.

Simply put there is more to life.

Although it may not be the most masculine thing to admit, I went home that day and sat on the couch with my three-year-old daughter, Marley, on one knee and my 10-month-old son, Quinten, on the other. Even though this is a common occurrence for me, this time was different. I sat there hugging these two pieces of joy, said nothing but cried.

Yes the NHL has become a business and everything is determined by the dollars and cents that a franchise can make. We sit here on a daily basis criticizing this player or that without a care in the world as to what happens to these guys off the ice.

We see players as commodities to be traded or sold yet at no time do we consider the sacrifices that are made on their personal life.

We see a player who misread the play and was drawn offside instead of the husband who has not seen his wife in weeks. We see a player who has missed an open net instead of the father who missed the first words or steps of their child. We see the player who refuses to fight instead of the grandfather who now suffers from Alzheimer’s.

I live by the motto that Hockey is Life. It’s a motto which defines what I am and what I love. I just know that there is more to life than just hockey. Learn from what we went through this offseason, grow from it, and let’s all become better people.

Willey was the shinning light among the wicked growing up as the lone Habs fan in Toronto. Pray to Holy Ghosts of the old forum and all shall be answered I was told, and just like that my family was transferred back to Montreal and away from the damned. Olé Olé Olé.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

Monday, September 19, 2011

Montreal Canadiens: Gallagher Impresses at Camp, Questions on Defense

by Kamal Panesar

With the Montreal Canadiens 2011-2012 training camp in full swing, the players are on the ice again Monday, in preparation for their first exhibition match tomorrow against the Dallas Stars.

And like with any training camp, there is no shortage of storylines that emerge on a daily basis.

From Andrei Markov suffering a setback with his rehabilitation from knee surgery, to Scott Gomez's lower body injury that is keeping him out of practice, the Canadiens season has already got its share of spice to it!

But, for me, the storyline that I am following the most—and which I always enjoying watching—is the youth progression. Who are they? How good are they? When will they be ready for primetime, and what kind of players will they be?

This year's camp is filled with young, bright-eyed prospects but none are attracting more attention than Brendan Gallagher.

Impressive on and off the ice

Picked 147th overall in the 2010 NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens, Gallagher is yet another small but talented prospects in the Habs farm system.

Listed at 5' 8 and 163 lbs, Gallagher won't be intimidating the opposition with his physical play but, with a hard, heavy shot, pinpoint accuracy and excellent on-ice vision, he is a kid who knows how to create offense.

Gallagher is coming off a career season with the WHL Vancouver Giants where he was their undeniable go-to offensive guy. In addition, he was near the top of the league in scoring despite missing time to try out for the Canadian World Junior team.

In the 2010-2011 WHL season, Gallagher played in 66 games potting 44 goals and 47 assists for 91 points to go along with 108 penalty minutes. While the Giants were eliminated early in the playoffs, Gallagher did manage two goals over four games.

So far through the Canadiens rookie camp—and now playing with the pros—Gallagher hasn't looked out of place. In fact, much like Canadiens captain Brian Gionta—who coach Martin compared him to—he plays with a fearless edge, going into the corners with players who have almost a foot on him, and coming out with the puck.

I should caution that as exciting as Gallagher has been so far in camp, this is a player who could use some work on his skating speed. That and a little improvement on his defensive game will go along way towards making him a bonafide NHLer.

His on-ice play aside, Gallagher appears mature and wise beyond his 19-years of life.

Listening to this kid talk and watching how he responds to the crush of microphones in the dressing room, he looks like someone who has the character to make it in the NHL. Especially in the media frenzy that is Montreal.

But like Martin St. Louis, Brian Gionta and other diminutive NHLers, success for Gallagher will only come with speed.

And for Gallagher, skating is an area that he needs to work on.

Still, he seems to be rounding into form and a likely spot on this year's Canadian World Junior team should go a long way towards continuing him progression.

Whatever happens going forward, Gallagher has gone from a prospect that was once a long short to make it, to a player who will definitely be on the Habs radar for years to come. And that has to be a source of contentment for the organization.

New Sunday Shinny podcast

This week on the Sunday Shinny we discussed the Andrei Markov situation and what it means for the Habs defense. Nick asked the excellent question of who we all see as the Canadiens top-seven defenseman for this season.

For me, if Markov is ready to go for the start of the season, I see the pairings looking a little like this:


The question is, who takes Markov's spot if he is out for an extended period of time?

The good news is that GM Pierre Gauthier spent the summer acquiring defensive depth for the Habs. There are no all-stars in the bunch but players like Jeff Woywitka, Raphael Diaz and Mark Mitera are all capable of playing adequately at the NHL level.

I think, if Markov can't play, it will be one of those three that slots in as the seventh Dman with Diaz on the top of the list.

Click play below to listen in (listing time 42:35):

So how do you see the Canadiens D shaping up this season? Are you concerned about the Markov injury or is it really a mountain out of a mole hill?

Kamal is a freelance Habs writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on The Team 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 8 - 9 AM. Listen live at

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter

(photo a video capture from Dave Stubbs, Montreal Gazette)

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The Franchise Weekend Morning Show's Sunday Shinny - September 18, 2011

In this episode of the Sunday Shinny, Gary Whittaker, Nick Murdocco and Kamal Panesar welcome Rick Springhetti, of McKeen's Magazine, to the studio.

Topics include:
-The Andrei Markov injury
-Who are the Habs' top-7 defenseman
-Who are the Habs top-12 forwards
-Is there room for any young players to crack the roster
-Plus an interview with Bobby Dollas about being part of the Team 990's Habs broadcast team
-and more...

Click play below to listen in (listing time 42:35):