Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The 20 most overpaid NHLers making more than $4.0M per year: Gomez makes the list!

More than one quarter into the 2011-12 NHL season, it’s time to have a look at the most overpaid NHLers who don’t contribute as much as their team and the general manger who signed them would like. Please note that I have not included players whose contract is buried in the AHL or oversees such as Jeff Finger, Rotislav Olesz, Wade Redden and Cristobal Huet. Players are listed by team alphabetical order and by cap hit.

Lubomir Visnovsky, Anaheim – $5,600,000 cap hit After his best offensive season in the NHL, during which he scored a league-leading 68 points among defensemen, Visnovsky has been a big disappointment this year in Anaheim. The talented rearguard had only four points in 16 games before he sustained a broken thumb that will put him on the shelf for at least a month.

Ville Leino, Buffalo – $4,500,000 cap hit Signed to a six-year deal as a free agent by the Sabres this summer, Leino has been a major disappointment in Buffalo. With only 6 points and a -5 differential in 24 games this season, Leino is considered the worst free-agent signing of 2011.

Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary – $6,680,000 cap hit Acquired from Florida by the Flames before the 2009-10 season, Bouwmeester’s offence has always been overrated, having never broke the 50-point barrier in a single season. Entering the third year of his five-year contract, Bouwmeester has only one goal and six assists for seven points in 23 games.

Eric Staal, Carolina – $8,250,000 cap hit Coming off a very good season, during which the Hurricanes captain recorded 76 points in 81 games, Staal has been slumping badly this season without his former line-mate Erik Cole, who has signed a multi-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens. Staal has a league-worse -18 ratio to go along with only 12 points in 26 games.

Tomas Kaberle, Carolina – $4,250,000 cap hit Signed as a free agent by Carolina in the off-season after winning the Stanley Cup with the Bruins, Kaberle has only one goal and 13 assists for 14 points in 49 games since he got traded by the Maple Leafs last season. The offensive defenseman has zero goal this season to go with a dismal -12 ratio.

Ed Jovanovski, Florida – $4,125,000 cap hit Signed as a free agent to a four-year contract by Florida this summer, Jovocop is more like a mall guard these days. With only five points in 23 games this season, Jovanovski has seen his offensive output decline steadily since his 51-point campaign in 2007-08. The oft-injured rearguard finished 2010-11 with only 14 points in 50 games with Phoenix.

Dustin Penner, Los Angeles – $4,250,000 cap hit Entering the last year of a five-year deal he signed with the Oilers, the Penner experiment has been a major failure with the Kings. The oversized forward's production has been nearly non-existent this season with only two assists in fourteen games, before he sustained a hand injury.

Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota – $4,000,000 cap hit The oft-injured Zidlicky missed 36 contests last season due to injury, recording only 24 points in 46 games. This year, Zidlicky's production has been almost non-existent; in 18 games, the offensive-minded rearguard has zero goal and six assists for only six points.

Scott Gomez, Montreal – $7,357,143 cap hit Acquired prior to the 2009-10 season by Montreal, Gomez had an average year two years ago, recording 59 points in 78 games. However, since then, his play has been declining fast. Last year, he only managed seven goals and 38 points in 80 games, while the season he has yet to score a goal (4 assists) in 13 games. He's currently sidelined with a groin injury.

Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey – $6,666,667 cap hit After signing a very expensive 15-year contract prior to the 2010-11 season, Kovalchuk's production has been subpar at best. Known as a point-per-game player in Atlanta, Kovalchuk finished with only 60 points in 81 games last year, while this season, the Russian sniper has only scored four goals and 13 points in 17 contests with the Devils. This contract could prove very costly, as the Devils are rumoured to be bankrupted and all-star Zach Parise is slated to become a free agent at season's end.

Brian Rolston, New York Islanders – $5,062,500 cap hit Acquired from the Devils in the off-season for his veteran leadership, Rolston's production has been in steady decline since the 2005-06 campaign during which he recorded 79 points with Minnesota. This year, Rolston has been mediocre at best, notching only three goals and three assists for six points in 20 games with the Islanders.

Rick Dipietro, NY Islanders – $4,500,000 cap hit Re-signed to a 15-year contract prior to the 2006-07 season, Dipietro’s career has been marred with injuries. This season, Dipietro has been healthy, but he has not played much losing his starting to veteran Evgeni Nabokov first, and then to back-up Al Montoya who has been playing well. he’s also been mediocre posting a 3.44 GAA and a pathetic .885 save % in only seven games.

Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia – $5,666,667 cap hit Acquired from the Coyotes before the season by the Flyers, Breezer has been colder than a winter night in January in Winnipeg. Bryzgalov, who was signed to a nine-year contract to stabilize the Flyers goaltending position has been more than shaky. In 15 starts, Breezer has eight wins with a subpar 2.89 GAA and a less than stellar .897 save %.

Paul Martin, Pittsburgh – $5,000,000 cap hit Signed as a free agent in the summer of 2010, Martin was brought for his steady and calm presence on the blue line. After a so-so campaign last year during which Martin managed 24 points in 77 games, the 30 year-old blue liner is having a tough season so far despite the Penguins' success. Through 25 games, Martin has yet to find the back of the net, while adding only eight assists. He also has a team-worse -9 ratio.

Martin Havlat, San Jose – $5,000,000 cap hit Acquired in the off-season from the Wild for forward Dany Heatley, Havlat has had trouble adapting to his new team after a 62-point campaign in Minnesota last season. After 17 games, Havlat has scored only one goal and added eight assists for nine points in 17 games with the Sharks.

Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay – $7,727,273 cap hit Lecavalier was signed to a 11-year contract extension by Tampa Bay before the 2009-10 season. Lecavalier rewarded the Lightning with a paltry 70-point campaign in 2009-10 and an even less impressive season of 54 points in 2010-11. This season, Lecavalier has been inconsistent, scoring ten goals and adding seven assists for 17 points in 23 games, on pace for only 60 point, which is not enough for the face of the franchise.

Mike Komisarek, Toronto $4,500,000 cap hit After flourishing as a bruising defenseman alongside Andrei Markov, Komisarek joined the Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2009. This year, Komisarek had only one goal and three assists for four points in 18 games before breaking his arm. After being made a healthy scratch a few times, now Komisarek will be sidelined for almost eight weeks.

Keith Ballard, Vancouver $4,250,000 cap hit Currently in only the third year of a six-year deal, Ballard has been far from impressive since his acquisition from the Panthers. Ballard was often made a healthy scratch during the Canucks cup run last spring. So far this year, Ballard has only recorded a mere two points in 22 games to go along with a -6 plus/minus ratio.

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver $5,333,333 cap hit Luongo's play has been slowly fading in recent years, and his inconsistency in last year's playoffs has planted a seed of doubt in the mind of the Canucks fans. With ten more years to go to his twelve-year contract and this season, Luongo is the clear #1 goaltender in Vancouver. Well, not necessarily as youngster Corey Schneider has started the past six games and doesn't want to give the job to the struggling Luongo. Bobby Loo has a back-up calibre GAA of 2.97 to go along with a borderline .900 save % in 13 games this season.

Alexander Semin, Washington $6,700,000 cap hit The unpredictable Russian had a slumping season under former head coach Bruce Boudreau, scoring only ten points in 22 games. Semin was even made a healthy scratch once. Now that Boudreau is gone, Semin should find his motivation back and start producing offensively if he wants to cash in big at season's end as he is slated to become an unrestricted free agent.

Please note that I omitted players who have been injured most of the season such as Jason Blake, Kristian Huselius, Andy McDonald, Ryan Whitney and Andrei Markov.

If you think I missed an overpaid NHLer, please let me know in the comments section.

----------
Fred is a freelance sports write and translator, as well as a featured Montreal Canadiens blogger on http://hockeyindependent.com/blog/ and a baseball columnist on http://www.dobberbaseball.com/. Fred also joined HabsAddict.com in time for the 2011-12 season.

Follow Fred on Facebook and Twitter

Habs/Ducks, Bulldogs, Leafs success, Flames and Iginla, Crosby, Rumours and more

Habs News
HabsAddict.com - Roz's Rant: Calm Winds Blowing over Jacques Martin
http://www.habsaddict.com/2011/11/rozs-rant-calm-winds-blowing-over.html

Hockey Inside/Out - Habs visit dying Ducks
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/habs-visit-dying-ducks

RDS - Markov affrontera-t-il les Ducks à 22h?
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330876.html

Pacioretty en désaccord avec Shanahan
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330862.html

TSN - Gameday
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/scores/gameday/?hubname=nhl-ducks

Habsworld.net - Bulldogs 1st Quarter Grades: Part 1
http://www.habsworld.net/article.php?id=2654


NHL News
TSN - SIEGEL: SCHENN, GARDINER OFFER PROMISE OF 'SOMETHING SPECIAL'
http://www.tsn.ca/toronto/blogs/jonas_siegel/?id=381583

LEAFS FORWARD KESSEL TAKES LEAD IN ALL-STAR VOTING
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381546

YOUR CALL: SHOULD THE FLAMES TRADE JAROME IGINLA?
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381533

BURKE'S PLAN BEGINNING TO SHOW SUCCESS FOR MAPLE LEAFS
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381560

THN.com - Campbell: NHL should move the Coyotes temporarily to Hamilton
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43238-Campbell-NHL-should-move-the-Coyotes-temporarily-to-Hamilton.html

VIDEO: Penguins learned to win without Sidney Crosby
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43236-VIDEO-Penguins-learned-to-win-without-Sidney-Crosby.html

Spector's Hockey - Canadian Corner – November 30, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/30/canadian-corner-november-30-2011/

Latest Bobby Ryan Trade Rumors – November 30, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/30/latest-bobby-ryan-trade-rumors-november-30-2011/

Latest on the Flames, Flyers and Sabres
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/30/latest-on-the-flames-flyers-and-sabres/

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Roz's Rant: Calm Winds Blowing over Jacques Martin

Jacques Martin - Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens - Game ThreeJust outside of my hometown of Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland there is a stretch of highway sandwiched between the mountains and the sea where the wind blows so fiercely that it has been known to derail trains. The CN Railway used to employ a gentleman by the name of Lachie MacDougall, and would call him up to check that it was safe to run the trains through.

That was years ago and the trains and Lachie have long gone but the winds still blow so fiercely that there are times when local residents will not brave the area, and transport trucks miss their delivery deadlines because the Mounties have shut down the one highway out of town.

Why am I telling you this and what does it have to do with the Montreal Canadiens?

Well I am about to pull a Lachie MacDougall and tell you which way the wind is blowing and how hard.

Fresh on the heels of news that the Washington Capitals have parted ways with Bruce Boudreau—the Carolina Hurricanes also dropped Paul Maurice in favour of ex-Hab assistant coach Kirk Muller—came the usual cries for the dismissal of Jacques Martin from behind the Canadiens bench.

Let me put it bluntly: barring something unforeseeable such as a 10-game losing streak, Martin's job is safe.

I will admit that some of his decisions are truly head scratchers for me.

Michael Cammalleri is not, nor will ever likely be, a sound defensive player. Yet it does not deter Martin from putting Cammalleri on the penalty kill. I can only suppose that, unlike me, Martin believes that if he hammers long and hard enough, a square peg can be forced into a round hole.

Yet my dislike of this coach goes right back to the day he was announced and it stems directly from his record.

In his 1,286 games as head coach of an NHL team, he has a Win-Loss percentage of .450.

His best year was with 1998-99 in Ottawa, when he won the Jack Adams trophy for Coach of the Year, and the Sens won their division. Looking at his entire body of work though, he is a mediocre coach who had one great year.

When he was initially hired my first thought was that the Habs will continue to be a bubble team and that RDS would be happy to have a French-speaking coach.

The fans who had long griped about Canadiens' rookie coaches, would finally be getting the experience they had felt was lacking under Guy Carbonneau.

Be careful what you wish for.

A coach with over 1000 games in the NHL does not lack for experience, but his record is hardly impressive either. I found it hard to believe that his mediocre record would suddenly skyrocket in the fishbowl existence that is the city of Montreal.

Rewinding to the playoffs of two years ago, this mediocre coach, assisted by Kirk Muller, rode a red-hot goalie and some hard workers into an Eastern Conference Finals berth—Montreal subsequently lost to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Martin's had his bit of luck in Montreal too, and some of that is no doubt due to the defense first system I abhor.

Fast forward to present day and the Habs are still nowhere near the top tier of their own division or conference, let alone the league. What promise they showed almost two seasons ago has been revealed to be the aberration it was all along.

But Martin did get this team into the playoffs last season as well, and may even do so again this season.

Currently the Habs are only a couple of points out of a playoff berth, and no matter what the insightful statisticians will tell us, teams and players always point out that the playoffs are a new season and anything can happen.

Under Martin I see no great progression for this team, but then again he's not the only coach to have run the Habs bench since their last championship almost 19 years ago. So it's hardly fair to hold him up as the pariah of all the ills this team is suffering.

Injuries are also part of the reason Martin is currently safe.

This is his third season working with a depleted defensive corps and under his system they are the legs the team stands on, Carey Price included. That he even made the playoffs last season with a dozen different defensemen is entirely to his credit.

This season he's working once again with too many injuries, both on the blueline and at forward. He has problems with his powerplay, been given new assistant coaches, lost one of his long time associates and been given too many rookies to babysit.

It is a heavy load for any coach to bear.

So why is it the Canadiens have not evolved into a high level team? Other than that one post-lockout season where they finished top in the league, have they ever looked like they could reclaim Lord Stanley's trophy?

That's not all on Martin.

If the Habs are out of contention by late January there might be a coaching change. If the Canadiens inexplicably go on a double-digit losing streak there might be a coaching change.

Barring such drastic failures, he has bought his goodwill from the organization by hauling this injury-riddled, under-performing group into the post-season two years running, delighting the fans and generating massive playoffs revenue for the team's owners.

If he does it for a third consecutive year I am convinced he will ride out the fourth year of his contract as well. Jacques Martin is a competent coach. The problem for him is that he is coaching in Montreal, where mere competency is not good enough.

And as a fan I must bear some culpability for this team's fortunes too. I may want things to change, but I don't send a clear message where it counts the most.

Canadiens fans might be a generation removed from seeing the Habs routinely slide into the elite teams category, but there are still enough of us around to keep those fires burning bright when common sense would threaten to spoil our fun.

The fact is as a Habs fan I pay a premium for what is essentially a mediocre product. Or at least I did up until recently.

This year instead of my usual jaunt to Montreal to take in a game wherein I would pay Geoff Molson around $600 of my hard earned salary, I'm going to use that money to lie on a tropical beach instead.

Meanwhile it's still safe for the Jacques Martin Express to roll on threw. The winds of change aren't blowing hard yet.

---
Rosalyn used to frequent the old Forum during her early childhood when her father was a corporate season ticket holder, where she fell in love with Larry Robinson, so her lifelong obsession with the Habs is entirely his fault.

Follow Rosalyn on Twitter

(Photo by Philip MacCallum/Getty Images North America)

Pacioretty Suspended, Leblanc Recalled, 3 Prospects at WJHC camp, Boudreau/Maurice fired, Rumours and more

Habs News
HabsAddict.com - Montreal Canadiens Video: Max Pacioretty Get Three-Game Suspension
http://www.habsaddict.com/2011/11/montreal-canadiens-max-pacioretty-get.html

Habs Press Release - Canadiens Recall Louis Leblanc
http://www.habsaddict.com/2011/11/habs-press-release-canadiens-recall_28.html

Hockey Inside/Out - Pacioretty suspended three games
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/pacioretty-suspended-three-games

RDS - Leblanc rappelé par le CH
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330817.html

Pacioretty est suspendu pour 3 matchs
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330810.html

Habsworld.net - 3 Habs invited to Canada's WJHC camp
http://www.habsworld.net/article.php?id=2653


NHL News
TSN - HURRICANES REPLACE HEAD COACH MAURICE WITH MULLER
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381464

CANUCKS, LEAFS MAKE BIG GAINS IN NHL POWER RANKINGS
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381487

MCKENZIE: CANADA JUNIOR TEAM COULD GET SOME NHL ASSISTANCE
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381492

THREE RETURNEES HIGHLIGHT CANADA'S WJHC SELECTION ROSTER
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381469

ESPN.com - With Bruce Boudreau out, how will Alex Ovechkin respond?
http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/12488/with-boudreau-out-how-will-ovechkin-respond

Campbell: Five days on the road with Boudreau and Capitals sheds light on firing
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43224-Campbell-Five-days-on-the-road-with-Boudreau-and-Capitals-sheds-light-on-firing.html

Proteau: Will the real Ovechkin return after Boudreau's firing?
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43217-Proteau-Will-the-real-Ovechkin-return-after-Boudreaus-firing.html

Kennedy: Maurice firing a necessary move
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43212-Kennedy-Maurice-firing-a-necessary-move.html

Spector's hockey - NHL Trade Rumors – November 29, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/29/nhl-trade-rumors-november-29-2011/

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Habs Press Release - Canadiens Recall Louis Leblanc

Habs call up Louis Leblanc

ANAHEIM -- The Montreal Canadiens announced Monday that forward Louis Leblanc has been recalled from the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs.

In his first season at the professional level, the 20-year old centerman ranks tied for second on the Bulldogs with four goals and 10 points in 14 games so far this season. Leblanc scored two of his goals on the powerplay and added 48 shots on goal.

The 6-foot, 184-pound Pointe-Claire native recorded 58 points (26 goals and 32 assists) along with 100 penalty minutes in 51 games with the QMJHL Montreal Junior in 2010-11.

The Canadiens’ first round selection, 18th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Leblanc signed a 3-year contract with the club on July 30, 2010.

Montreal Canadiens Video: Max Pacioretty Get Three-Game Suspension

RDS has confirmed that Max Pacioretty received a three-game suspension for his blindside hit on Pittsburgh's Kris Letang.

Here's video of the hit if you haven't seen it.



So what do you think of the hit? The suspension?

Too much? Not enough or just right?

Here's Shanahan's explanation of his reasoning:


---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of  HabsAddict.com and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM.  Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter

Max Pacioretty hearing, Habs recap, Wings Eaves out, Jets, Couturier, Rumours and more

Habs News
Hockey Inside/Out - HIO at Monday practice
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/hio-at-monday-practice

Monday phone hearing for Pacioretty
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/monday-phone-hearing-for-pacioretty

RDS - Max Pacioretty devra s'expliquer lundi
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330730.html

Habsworld.net - HW Recap: An Up-and-Down Season Continues
http://www.habsworld.net/article.php?id=2652


NHL News
TSN - WINGS' EAVES TO HAVE SURGERY ON BROKEN JAW, OUT 6-8 WEEKS
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381422

BEYAK: JETS FINALLY BEGIN LONG STRETCH AT HOME
http://www.tsn.ca/winnipeg/blogs/jets_report/?id=381388

THN.com - Getting To Know: Sean Couturier
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43200-Getting-To-Know-Sean-Couturier.html

Internet Trade Talk: Suter to Colorado?
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43199-Internet-Trade-Talk-Suter-to-Colorado.html

Before I made it: Jason Garrison
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43181-Before-I-made-it-Jason-Garrison.html

Spector's Hockey - NHL Eastern Conference at the Quarter Mark
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/27/nhl-eastern-conference-at-the-quarter-mark/

Hockey Blog Beat – November 27, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/27/hockey-blog-beat-november-27-2011/

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Habs/Pens post game, Letang broken noes, Jets, Lemieux's comeback, rumours and more

Habs News
HabsAddict.com - Montreal Canadiens: the untapped offensive potential of Alexei Emelin
http://www.habsaddict.com/2011/11/montreal-canadiens-untapped-offensive.html

Hockey Inside/Out - About last night …
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/boone/about-last-night-39

Multimedia, video of both teams: Carey Price wanted a whistle
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/multimedia-carey-price-wanted-a-whistle

RDS - La revanche de Letang
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330673.html

Encore des ratés pour l’attaque à cinq
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330726.html

TSN - LETANG'S NOSE BROKEN BY HIT FROM PACIORETTY
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381389


NHL News
TSN - BEYAK: JETS FINALLY BEGIN LONG STRETCH AT HOME
http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=3656244977550522852

THN.com - Tom Thompson: Mario Lemieux comeback still greatest of all-time
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43180-Tom-Thompson-Mario-Lemieux-comeback-still-greatest-of-alltime.html

Spector's Hockey - Hockey Blog Beat – November 26, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/26/hockey-blog-beat-november-26-2011/

Canadian Corner – November 26, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/26/canadian-corner-november-26-2011/

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Habs/Flyers post game, Pens preview, Leafs, Jets, Gretzky, Turris, Rumours and more

Habs News
HabsAddict.com - Montreal Canadiens: the untapped offensive potential of Alexei Emelin
http://www.habsaddict.com/2011/11/montreal-canadiens-untapped-offensive.html

Hockey Inside/Out - At long last, Sid returns to Montreal
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/at-long-last-sid-returns-to-montreal

Audio: About this afternoon … (Reader’s Digest version)
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/boone/about-this-afternoon-readers-digest-version

RDS - Giroux vole la vedette contre le CH
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330609.html

ESPN.com - Penguins-Canadiens Preview
http://scores.espn.go.com/nhl/preview?gameId=400047771


NHL News
TSN - SIEGEL: KULEMIN FIGHTING DEMONS OF GOAL DROUGHT
http://www.tsn.ca/toronto/blogs/jonas_siegel/?id=381315

BEYAK: JETS MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
http://www.tsn.ca/winnipeg/blogs/jets_report/?id=381314

DREGER'S MAILBAG: QUESTIONS ON TURRIS, LEAFS GOALIES AND OVI
http://www.tsn.ca/blogs/darren_dreger/?id=381257

FRASER: THE BRUINS-SABRES, 'REVENGE' GAMES AND BRIAN BURKE
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381256

GRETZKY DECLINES TO PLAY IN WINTER CLASSIC ALUMNI GAME
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381262

THN.com - Kennedy: Can Fleury catch Brodeur's win total?
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43125-Kennedy-Can-Fleury-catch-Brodeurs-win-total.html

VIDEO: THN Puck Panel - Off-season steals
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43158-VIDEO-THN-Puck-Panel-Offseason-steals.html

Spector's Hockey - Updates on Turris, Comeau and Bergfors
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/25/updates-on-turris-comeau-and-bergfors/

(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images North America)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Montreal Canadiens: the untapped offensive potential of Alexei Emelin

After playing the past seven seasons in Russia with Tolyatti Lada and Kazan Ak-Bars, rugged defenseman Alexei Emelin decided to come to North America to make his NHL debut for the team that drafted him 84th overall way back in 2004. In 2010-11, Emelin had his best offensive season in the KHL, registering 11 g and 15 assists for 26 points, while earning 117 penalty minutes. He also finished the year with a +16 ratio.

Despite playing in Russia for what seems like an eternity, Emelin is still only 25 years-old, the moment most defensemen reach their maturity and full potential. While Emelin will never be a constant point-producer in the NHL, he can certainly do better than his 0 point in 14 games so far for the Canadiens this season. Emelin has proved that he can block shots and make a good first pass. But right now, it's clear he is focusing on the defensive aspect of his game, but he showed in the KHL that he can contribute offensively too.



Often a healthy scratch at the beginning of the season, Emelin has now played the last six games due to a rash of injuries on Montreal's blue line and has slowly adjusted to the smaller NHL rinks and the more physical style played in North America. The 6'2'' 220 lb rearguard looks a lot like Red Wings Nicklas Kronwall when he made his North America debut in 2003-04. Kronwall is a hard-hitting defenseman that developed his offensive skills over the years to become Detroit's most important defenseman behind Nicklas Lidstrom. The former has amassed 191 points in 405 games in the NHL, or also one point every two games. Emelin is still far from producing offensively at such a good pace, but let's not forget Kronwall only registered 14 points in 47 games over his first two NHL seasons.

Emelin is currently ranked 32nd in the NHL in total hits with 49 in only 14 games (3.5 hits per game), but is ranked 6th for hits per game behind the likes of Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck, Troy Brouwer, Mark Fistric and Steve Ott. Not bad for rookie defenseman used to play in the KHL, not a league that is known for its physical play.

Alexei Emelin hip-checking Ales Hemsky at the blue line


Alexei Emelin with another hip-check on Tomas Vincour


Emelin is by far the Habs most physical defenseman as the rest of the defensive corps is composed of smaller players (Diaz, Weber, Spacek, Gorges) or softer players (Gill, Markov, Campoli) than the Togliatti, Russia, native.

Currently earning $984,200 this season with the Canadiens, Emelin will be a restricted free agent at season's end, so the team will have to decide if they want to sign him long-term in order to prevent him from returning to Russia. The left-handed blue-liner moved to North America in part because of Andrei Markov, who has yet to play this season recuperating from a knee injury that sidelined most of last season.

One has to wonder if Jacques Martin will reunite the two Russians on a defensive pairing in order to groom the young Emelin along a proven veteran to back him up and repair his occasional blunder. Once Emelin earns the confidence of his head coach, he will most likely receive more power play time than the 2:11 minutes he received so far this season!!

Through 14 games this season, Emelin is only seeing 15:11 minutes of time per game despite all the injuries the Canadiens sustained on the blue line. However, when Emelin gets more ice-time on the special units (playing only 43 seconds per game on the penalty kill this season), his ice-time will increase exponentially. With only four penalty minutes, Emelin has been very disciplined despite his rugged style. He has also taken only one penalty while drawing seven, which ranks him 7th in the NHL with a very positive ratio.

Now the question remains: Will Emelin be dressed over smaller defensemen Raphael Diaz and Yannick Weber when the Andrei Markov and Jaroslav Spacek come back into action in early December? Or will Emelin be made a healthy scratch more often than not?

------
Fred is a freelance sports write and translator, as well as a featured Montreal Canadiens blogger on http://hockeyindependent.com/blog/ and a baseball columnist on http://www.dobberbaseball.com/. Fred also joined HabsAddict.com in time for the 2011-12 season.

Follow Fred on Facebook and Twitter

Habs/Flyers preview, Gomez out, Leafs PK/Reimer, NYR Deveaux, Rumours and more

Habs News
Hockey Inside/Out - Canadiens seek afternoon delight in Philly
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/canadiens-seek-afternoon-delight-in-philly

An honor and anniversary for Scotty
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/an-honor-and-anniversary-for-scotty

RDS - CH : Gomez ne jouera pas à Philadelphie
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330588.html

Moen: « Une question de confiance »
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330604.html

HabsWorld.net - HabsWorld Podcast - Episode 3
http://www.habsworld.net/article.php?id=2650

ESPN.com - Canadiens-Flyers Preview
http://scores.espn.go.com/nhl/preview?gameId=400047666


NHL News
TSN - SIEGEL: LEAFS PENALTY KILL FINALLY TRENDING UPWARD
http://www.tsn.ca/toronto/blogs/jonas_siegel/?id=381212

CULLEN: A LOOK AT NHL AWARDS RACES THROUGH THE FIRST QUARTER
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381196

RANGERS' DEVEAUX HAS LEAGUE HEARING AFTER MATCH PENALTY
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381182

FRASER: HOW WAS CAROLINA'S GOAL ALLOWED TO COUNT?
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381185

SIEGEL: LEAFS' REIMER OUT AT LEAST ANOTHER TEN DAYS
http://www.tsn.ca/toronto/blogs/jonas_siegel/?id=381197

Trophy Tracker: Latest Calder candidates
http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/12439/trophy-tracker-latest-calder-candidates

THN.com - Proteau: NHLPA raising awareness about concussions
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43146-Proteau-NHLPA-raising-awareness-about-concussions.html

Spector's Hockey - NHL Trade Rumors – November 24, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/24/nhl-trade-rumors-november-24-2011/

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Habs/Canes, Blueline logjam, new podcast, Doughty fined, Leafs Gustavsson, Rumours and more

Habs News
HabsAddict.com - Canadiens - Canes: Habs Complete Comeback, Down Carolina 4-3 in SO
http://www.habsaddict.com/2011/11/canadiens-canes-habs-complete-comeback.html

He Said / She Said: Montreal Canadiens Faced With Blueline Logjam
http://www.habsaddict.com/2011/11/he-said-she-said-blueline-logjam.html

Kamal Panesar on LiveSport Radio (New Zealand) w/Nathan Rarere
http://pc.habsaddict.com/2011/11/kamal-panesar-on-livesport-radio-new.html

Hockey Inside/Out - About last night …
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/boone/about-last-night-38

Canadiens win 4-3: game story and audio
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/canadiens-win-4-3-game-story-and-audio

RDS - Le Canadien fait sa chance
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330515.html


NHL News
TSN - KINGS' DOUGHTY FINED $2,500 FOR CROSS-CHECK ON BLUES' OSHIE
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381116

FRASER: ASSESSING RYAN MALONE'S HIT ON JONAS GUSTAVSSON
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381120

THN.com - Campbell: Can the Maple Leafs prevent a team from moving to Southern Ontario?
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43130-Campbell-Can-the-Maple-Leafs-prevent-a-team-from-moving-to-Southern-Ontario.html

Spector's Hockey - NHL Trade and Free Agent Rumors – November 23, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/23/nhl-trade-and-free-agent-rumors-november-23-2011/

(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images North America)

Kamal Panesar on LiveSport Radio (New Zealand) w/Nathan Rarere

Host Nathan Rarere invites Kamal on his show to discuss the Montreal Canadiens.

This interview is from Sunday Nov. 20, 2011, the day before Montreal played the Boston Bruins.

Topics include:
-The Canadiens as an organization
-The Nov. 20, 2011 Habs v. Bruins match
-Carey Price
-Saku Koivu
and more...

Click play below to listen in (listing time 07:53):

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Canadiens - Canes: Habs Complete Comeback, Down Carolina 4-3 in SO

The Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes clashed for the second time in a week tonight. But this time, things played out a little differently.

Shutout 4-0 by the Habs last week, Carolina got on the board within the first 10 seconds on a soft floater from the blueline. The puck was tipped slightly by Habs defenseman Alexei Emelin, but Carey Price should have had it.

Montreal fell victim to another strange goal at the six-minute mark, and all hope seemed lost. But not tonight.

Trailing 2-0 to start the third, the Habs stormed back to tie things up. It was a wild period that saw the teams take a 3-3 deadlock into overtime and then the shootout.

Price was solid in the shootout stopping all three Canes shooters for the win, with Brian Gionta the lone goal-scorer.

Final Score: Habs 4 - Canes 3 (OT)

Game Notes

Is that a goal? - Hurricanes forward Anthony Stewart made it a 2-0 game six minutes in on a strange play.

The play was a bit dodgy since the puck was frozen on top of the Habs net. In that case, the ref has to allow three seconds to pass before blowing the whistle.

That said, more often than not the play is whistled dead immediately.

However, against the Canes, the ref didn't blow the whistle, the Habs stopped skating and that left Stewart all alone to roof one past Price from five feet out.

There was a lot of debate on Twitter about whether that should have been whistled dead and if the goal should stand. And while it seems clear that the ref made the right call, the bottom line is that the Habs stopped playing and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the real reason for the goal.

Comfort Zone - Slowly but surely, Alexei Emelin looks like he's staring to "get" the North American game.

As a result, his decision-making is getting quicker and quicker.

You have to remember that, playing in the KHL, Emelin was used to the much bigger European rinks. That he is starting to make quicker decisions with the puck is a result of getting used to the smaller rinks.

In North America, the play comes at you much faster and so do the players.

If you watched Emelin playing against the Canes, he spent much less time with the puck on his stick. He was continually gathering the puck behind the net and firing off a quick, short breakout pass to the closest Habs winger.

And this is an aspect of Emelin's game that we are just starting to get a glimpse of: he's got a great first pass.

Hit the net! - With one win this season—earned tonight against the Canes—when trailing after the second period, it's clear the Habs would do well to score first in any given game. One area in which they could perhaps help in this department is by hitting the net more often.

In this first period, the Habs outshot the Canes 7-5 and had 12 other shots that missed the net. That missed shots total ballooned to 20 by the end of the game.

Prior to the match, Montreal was fifth in the league for most missed shots with 263 though 21 games. That's an average of 12.52 shots per game.

Brian Gionta, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban were all tied for 11th overall (with three other players) with 29 missed shots each for the season. Next up for Montreal was Lars Eller, 28th overall with 25.

That gives the Habs the dubious distinction of being the only team in the NHL to have four players in the top-30 for missed shots.

Perhaps target practice needs to be on the menu for Montreal's next practice.

From bad to worse - Is Subban in a sophomore slump or what?

He's had flashes of goodness this season but his play has been mostly disappointing. In his defense, he is only 22 years old and the defensive position is one that takes the longest to learn at the NHL level.

That and he has been shouldering way too much load for a young player over the last season or so. That said, he seemed to have no problem pulling it off last season.

A tough year got tougher for Subban against Canes, as he played perhaps his weakest game of the season.

For most of the night he looked like he was skating in quicksand. Constantly stumbling and bumbling in the defensive zone, out of position, making poor decision, missing his assignments and one step behind the play.

To be honest, he looked like a guy that had a little too much fun the previous night. And that's not out of the realm of possibilities, considering the entire team went over to Erik Cole's house instead of humping it in a hotel the previous night.

Whatever the problem, you can add Subban to the list of players who will breath much easier once Andrei Markov returns.

I don't get it - I'm no fan of Jacques Martin. I've never hidden that fact and always thought he was a bad hire.

That said, watching him work his magic (cough, cough) and trying to decipher it can put your brain in knots.

After the second period against the Canes, the ice time for the top forwards read as follows:

Brian Gionta 15:24, Michael Cammalleri 13:57, Tomas Plekanec 12:44, Scott Gomez 12:31, Erik Cole 10:44, Max Pacioretty 8:06, David Desharnais 9:06, Lars Eller 6:46.

And this despite Eller being one of the best forwards and scoring the only Habs goal to that point.

I'm certainly not qualified to be an NHL coach, but when things are not working—and so far this season it's hit or miss—shouldn't you try something different?

To make matters worse, Eller saw exactly 0:00 of ice during the overtime period. This despite finishing the night with two points (1G, 1A) and a plus-2.

Poor Scott Gomez - He really does bring it on himself, but there was some hilarity on Twitter last night after it was announced that he went to the dressing room and would not return.

Here's a small sample:

@NHL_STATS
"Gomez not on bench...Hmm, traded? Hurt? Either or can only help..."

@kuyaz
"Maybe Gomez went to the dressing room to change into the vintage stripes jersey so we can properly play Where's Waldo. That'd be fun."

@HabsCoachK
"Seems like the most productive thing Gomez has done tonight is get reinjured."

@HabsLaugh
"RDS has no reason for Gomez being out. It's ok boys...I don't need a reason."

@BackwordssirhC
"maybe he got word his game was found in Alaska and he went to get it back"

Genius.

Stat of the night - Seven. That is how many goals Travis Moen has for the year. His goal against the Canes tied the game at three with about 16 minutes to play. It was also the 50th of his career.

Question of the night - With Hal Gill back in the lineup, Jaroslav Spacek around the corner and Andrei Markov on the mend, the Habs will soon have a logjam on the backend. My HabsAddict.com colleagues debated this issue but how would you solve the logjam? Does someone get traded? Demoted?

Up Next - The Habs have the day off before taking on the Flyers in a Friday afternoon matchup, in Philly.

Side Note - For those of you who have been asking, here's the link to the interview I did on New Zealand radio.

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter


(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

He Said / She Said: Montreal Canadiens Faced With Blueline Logjam

Andrei Markov - Carolina Hurricanes v Montreal CanadiensAs various reports have noted, Montreal Canadiens' star defenseman Andrei Markov is now practicing with full-contact. On top of that, Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill’s injuries do not seem to be of the long term variety, so they should soon be back in the lineup.

So, for the first time since, seemingly, the big-bang, Montreal will potentially be able to ice a full contingent of blueliners. While this is an interesting prospect for the team, it also creates a log jam at the defensive position.

In this edition of He Said/She Said, HabsAddict.com writers Bryan Willey and Rosalyn Roy discuss the implications of the issue.

So, assuming everyone is (relatively) healthy, what should the Habs do with their D once Markov returns?

Bryan Willey: Not a simple question to answer because there is a huge difference between what will be done and what should be done.

Given the philosophy of Jacques Martin, we are going to see a veteran laden line-up that will consist of Markov, Gorges, Gill, Spacek, Subban and my guess Campoli as the sixth guy. The team will then keep Diaz and Weber as the spare parts and ultimately send Emelin to Hamilton.

If the decision were up to me, however, I would be looking for a trade. If there is a taker for his contract then Spacek is my number one choice to find a new area code.

If teams are unwilling to take his $3.833 million contract off their hands then it seems Yannick Weber will be the odd man out.

With that said, should the right deal present itself, I would also be willing to part ways with P.K Subban.

Rosalyn Roy: I agree that what will be done will most likely differ from what should be done, and that Jacques Martin's penchant to value veterans at the expense of what's best for the team will likely come into play when it comes time to make the hard decisions about the blueline.

My choices differ a bit in that I think Markov, Gorges, Gill, Spacek, Subban and Campoli will be the six starters, with Weber playing out of his natural position as a fourth line forward and Emelin kept in the press box as backup. Diaz will get dropped to Hamilton. There is no way Gauthier will take the chance of letting Emelin walk after a seven year wait. It's easier to send Diaz down.

The Habs should really be looking to deal and since Spacek is likely not going anywhere if a veteran is offloaded chances are pretty good it's Campoli.

That said with the insane amount of injuries that this team suffers rather routinely I think Gauthier will be unlikely to pull the trigger just because he has a log jam, and will try to hedge his bets by keeping his blueliners as possible insurance.

Bryan Willey: Personally, I cringe at the thought of Yannick Weber as a fourth line right winger. The best teams in this league roll four lines. Sure, the top three play the bulk of the minutes but you need a dependable fourth unit if you want to go anywhere in the playoffs. Weber as a winger is an experiment that should never again be duplicated.

The problem with the defensive core is that if Weber or Diaz sit then there are two players playing out of position. Sure Gorges and Spacek seem capable, but both play better when they are on the left side.

I agree that Diaz to Hamilton makes the most sense because of the two-way contract but I like the way he plays, more so than Weber. As for Emelin, he absolutely must be in the lineup. He is the only D-man on the team that provides a physical element to the squad. Emelin absolutely must play.

Rosalyn Roy: I don't care for Weber as a fourth line winger either, but if the Habs’ blueline is healthy for more than five minutes it's what I expect will happen. I suspect Martin will worry more about his veterans logging heavy ice time and less about if they're playing out of position or not.

As for Emelin, as you have pointed out he is precisely what we need, but Martin didn't put him into the lineup regularly until he had no choice but to do so. That's why I think he'll get shoved back into the pressbox first, though if it were me I'd put Spacek on the shelf.

Under Martin the young bloods, regardless of performance, always give way to the veterans regardless of ability, performance or what's best for the team.

Bryan Willey: Are you suggesting that Martin may be the issue?

Weber as a fourth liner, Emelin as a press box staple; to me this absolutely means we must seek a trade. The team would have nine D-men on the roster and an apparent lack of depth on the fourth forward line.

I think it is extremely difficult for any of us to accurately project the value a guy like Weber has in the NHL but I just don't see him on this team long term.

There just has to be a team in need of an offensive blueliner with a stock pile of fourth liners and willing to trade.

Perhaps the answer to this conundrum is a bigger deal involving more than just a utility defenseman?

Rosalyn Roy: I am suggesting that Martin is a creature of habit and it makes him somewhat predictable. If all the Montreal blueliners are suddenly magically healthy the only way no one gets dealt is if Diaz is sent down and the Habs decide to carry eight blueliners as insurance.

As far as deals go, I'd expect Weber to be in the mix if we do deal a young puck moving defender, but beyond that I have no predictions.

What about the rest you, what do you think? What should the Habs do if and when their blueline is healthy?



---
Bryan is a Marketer by day, writer for HabsAddict.com by night and full time fan of the game. Follow me on twitter @BryanWilley78 but don't bother looking for me on Facebook, I'm just too old for that now!

Rosalyn used to frequent the old Forum during her early childhood when her father was a corporate season ticket holder, where she fell in love with Larry Robinson, so her lifelong obsession with the Habs is entirely his fault.

He Said / She Said is regular column on HabsAddict slated to appear on a bi-weekly basis.


(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Habs/Canes preview, Palchak funeral, Crosby, Leafs Reimer, Turris Signs, Rumours and more

Habs News
Hockey Inside/Out - Canadiens family remembers Eddy Palchak
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/canadiens-family-remembers-eddy-palchak

Habs Future
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/habs-future-13

Habs’ day: Brossard to Raleigh, with video
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/habs-day-brossard-to-raleigh

RDS - Crosby suscite l’admiration à Montréal
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330490.html

Une autre étape franchie pour Markov
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330475.html

CH : l'objectif de 96 points encore visé
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330498.html

ESPN.com - Canadiens-Hurricanes Preview
http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/preview?gameId=400047594


NHL News
TSN - SIEGEL: LEAFS CONTINUE TO SURVIVE WITHOUT REIMER
http://www.tsn.ca/toronto/blogs/jonas_siegel/?id=381099

TURRIS SIGNS TWO-YEAR, $2.8M DEAL WITH COYOTES
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381038

SIEGEL: REIMER MAKING STEPS TOWARD RETURN
http://www.tsn.ca/toronto/blogs/jonas_siegel/?id=381053

FRASER: WHY CHARA WAS NOT PENALIZED FOR HAVING TWO STICKS
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=381047

THN.com - Campbell: Construction of NHL-sized arena to be proposed in Southern Ontario
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43120-Campbell-Construction-of-NHLsized-arena-to-be-proposed-in-Southern-Ontario.html

Jamie McLennan: Toughest arenas to play in
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43113-Jamie-McLennan-Toughest-arenas-to-play-in.html

Spector's Hockey - Rumors from the NHL Blogosphere – November 22, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/22/rumors-from-the-nhl-blogosphere-november-22-2011/

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Habs/Bruins post game, Gorges' Value, Canadiens stats, tons on Crosby, Leafs Connolly and more

Habs News
HabsAddict.com - Canadiens - Bruins: Boston Extends Streak to Nine with Shutout Win over Habs
http://www.habsaddict.com/2011/11/canadiens-bruins-boston-extends-streak.html

Montreal Canadiens Josh Gorges: His Value to the Habs Is Underrated
http://www.habsaddict.com/2011/11/underrated-value-of-josh-gorges-to.html

Montreal Canadiens by the Numbers - November 21, 2011
http://www.habsaddict.com/2011/11/montreal-canadiens-by-numbers-november.html

Hockey Inside/Out - Reflections on a tight loss
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/reflections-on-a-tight-loss

Multimedia: Jacques Martin audio, player video after tight loss
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/multimedia-jacques-martin-audio-player-video-after-tight-loss

RDS - Le Canadien ne peut arrêter les Bruins
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330391.html

Le Canadien incapable d'acheter un but
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330460.html


NHL News
TSN - BRUINS BACK ON TOP OF NHL POWER RANKINGS
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=380985

FRASER: COMPARING SID'S RETURN TO OTHER MEMORABLE GAMES
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=380984

SIEGEL: CONNOLLY IMPARTING WISDOM ON MAPLE LEAFS
http://www.tsn.ca/toronto/blogs/jonas_siegel/?id=381014

PRICE, VLASIC AND READ NAMED NHL'S THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=380972

THN.com - Kennedy: Sidney Crosby electrifies with four-point return
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43103-Kennedy-Sidney-Crosby-electrifies-with-fourpoint-return.html

VIDEO: THN Puck Panel – Sidney Crosby returns
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43107-VIDEO-THN-Puck-Panel-Sidney-Crosby-returns.html

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Canadiens - Bruins: Boston Extends Streak to Nine with Shutout Win over Habs

It seems that, in recent years, every time the Habs and Bruins clash the spectators are served a real treat.

With so much bad blood between these teams, you truly never know what's going to happen. That being said, the 2011-2012 versions of these two team also know how to play hockey and play hockey they did tonight.

With the Habs at the 20-game mark for the season, they welcomed the red-hot Bruins to the Bell Centre. Despite Boston's eight-game winning-streak, Montreal is the team that came out on fire.

Not that the Bruins sat back or anything, it's just that Montreal used their speed to cause all kinds of problems for Boston's defense.

Unfortunately for the Habs, one defensive lapse gave Boston a late first period lead, despite being outshot 10-5 after the first.

The Habs kept pressing but the Bruins defense and Tim Thomas' brilliance kept the Habs off the board. That and the Canadiens inability to cash in on four key man-advantages did them in.

Final Score: Boston 1 - Montreal 0

Game Notes

What a hit! - A mere minute or so after I tweeted "I'm expecting big things from Emelin tonight. This is the type of opponent that Emelin has to show his physicality against," Alexei Emelin delivered.

With the play headed into the corner and David Krejci in hot pursuit, Emelin leaned into Krejci, slammed him hard into the boards.

I guess he read my tweet.

If that wasn't enough, Emelin and Zdeno Chara collided with the Bruins on the powerplay, with Chara taking the worst of it.

Then with about three minutes to play in the first, Emelin dropped the hammer on Daniel Paille at the blueline, shouldering him to the ice.

And all of that was just in the first period!

Emelin finished the night with five hits, one blocked shot and 17:21 of icetime. Moreover, with the exception of a terrible third period O-zone turnover, played his best game in a Habs uniform.

It seems like he slowly gaining confidence.

The Nifter - David Desharnais continues to impress in the offensive zone.

The perfect example was at around the nine-minute mark of the first, when he completely controlled the play in the Bruins' zone. Juking and diving behind the net, shaking off his cover, getting the puck to the point for a shot, picking it up again and doing another dance before finally dishing a seeing-eye, cross-crease pass to a pinching Erik Cole for a brilliant scoring chance.

Tim Thomas was equal to the task, stopping Cole, but that play put Desharnais' considerable vision on display.

Oh, Gomez - I'm getting a little tired of writing about the struggles of Scott Gomez, so I'll make this quick.

He played a solid game against the Rangers and looked decent against the Bruins, but where has his defensive sense gone? It seems that game after game, Gomez is missing assignments and the puck is ending up in the Canadiens' net.

Against Boston, it was more of the same with Gomez coasting on a back check and watching the puck instead of his man. The result was that Andrew Ference was allowed to skate to within 10 feet of Carey Price, unmolested, and fire the puck top-shelf for the lone goal of the game.

Weak, Gomez, weak.

All he had to do was take his man, the opposing defenseman, and this would have been a different game.

Head scratcher - Speaking of topics that are getting tired, I am struggling to understand why most in Montreal can see the shortcomings of the Habs powerplay, but the Canadiens coaches do not.

It took Montreal until near the end of the second period before getting their first powerplay. When they did, the Canadiens rolled out Yannick Weber, Tomas Plekanec, Michael Cammalleri, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta on the first wave.

No Erik Cole or Lars Eller—Montreal's two best forwards over the first 40 minutes—and no Max Pacioretty.

How about a little size in front of the goaltender? Is it such a stretch to think that having a big, strong player planted in front of Tim Thomas on the PP, will increase your chances of scoring?

No? Is it me?

What a pick up - Erik Cole continues to show why he has quickly become one of the best players in the Habs lineup.

Night after night he is physically engaged, is constantly charging the net and, overall, causing problems for opposing defenders.

Against Boston, Cole was again the Habs best forward but, for some reason, he saw less even strength ice than Travis Moen—Cole had 14:04 to Moen's 14:24. Unless there was some kind of injury, that just makes no sense.

On the powerplay, it was the same thing with Cole getting 2:33 to Michael Cammalleri's 4:26, David Desharnais' 3:55 and Scott Gomez's 3:12.

What is the problem here?

Despite all of the coaching shenanigans Cole finished the night with six shots on net, one blocked shot, five hits and two takeaways.

I don't get it.

Stat of the night - 18 shots. That's how many the Bruins were able to get all game. You have to be impressed with the Canadiens' young defense core. They did a great job shutting down the aggressive Bruins attack and limiting their opportunities.

Question of the night - What will happen first: Sidney Crosby will get into the top-10 in league scoring or Scott Gomez will score a goal?

Up Next - The Habs have the day off before traveling to Raleigh for a Wednesday tilt against the Hurricanes. Carolina might be having a rough season but they are only two points back of Montreal.

In addition, they are sure to want revenge for their 4-0 shutout loss to the Habs last week.

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter


(Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images North America)

Montreal Canadiens Josh Gorges: His Value to the Habs Is Underrated

Looking for a multi-year contract after an injury-riddled 2010-11 campaign, restricted free agent Josh Gorges had to settle for a one year $2.5 million contract with the Montreal Canadiens this off-season.

Gorges missed 46 games last year with a knee injury.

He originally tore up his right knee during his last season with the Kelowna Rockets, of the WHL, and had hoped to postpone the surgery until his retirement.

Despite what Gorges may say, the surgery was the best thing that could happen to him and the Canadiens.

Gorges has been far more effective this season for the Canadiens, playing on a depleted defensive corps that has seen four key veterans miss time with injuries.

Currently paired with the offensive-minded P.K. Subban, Gorges has been the calming veteran presence that Jacques Martin needs to keep his team afloat.

The Canadiens are currently using four rookies on their blue line—winning two of their last three games—both via shutout, with Frederic St-Denis, Yannick Weber, Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin combining for only 104 games in the NHL.

That's not a small feat, especially against the red-hot New York Rangers on Saturday.

With a 9-8-3 record for 21 points after 20 games, the Habs are only one point back from the eighth seed—Ottawa Senators is eighth in the Eastern Conference—and Josh Gorges has been a key to the Habs 6-3-1 record over their last ten games.

Through 20 games, Gorges leads the Canadiens defensemen with one goal—a game-winner in Phoenix—and seven assists for eight points.

The 27-year old defenseman is on pace for a career-high of 33 points, ten more than his previous summit of 23 points in 2008-09.

Gorges is also ranked 12th in the NHL with an impressive plus-10 +/- differential. The second best Habs player is Travis Moen at plus-six. The Kelowna native also has 24 hits and seven takeaways this season.

Most impressively, Gorges is currently second in the whole league with 52 blocked shots, seven behind the NHL leader Ladislav Smid of the Edmonton Oilers.

Gorges is averaging 21:42 minutes per game this season, which is second on the team only behind P.K. Subban's 23:47 minutes per game. Despite playing far less than some defensemen, Gorges is averaging 30.6 shifts per game for the Canadiens, which is good for eighth in the NHL.

Gorges is also ranked 13th among rearguards with 3:48 of PK icetime on ice per game—eight seconds more per game than penalty-killing specialist Hal Gill.

To top it off, all of Gorges' points have come at even strength as he's barely used on the power play. In fact, he presently averages a mere seven seconds of PP time per game!

Acquired from the San Jose Sharks along with a first round pick—which the Canadiens turned into Max Pacioretty—in exchange for veteran Craig Rivet, Gorges has turned into one of the most undervalued and underrated blueliners in the league.

When he arrived in Montreal, Gorges was often a healthy scratch and played only sporadically when dressed. Now, he has been given the task of shutting down the top players in the league on a nightly basis.

And he does so with great success.

The problem is that this situation might turn out to be a major problem for GM Pierre Gauthier. The Habs GM has painted himself into a corner by giving Gorges a one-year deal, preferring to extend a longer, three-year contract to brittle veteran Andrei Markov.

One has to wonder if Gauthier will have enough money to retain Gorges' services since he needs to re-sign RFAs P.K. Subban and Carey Price—both will likely hit the jackpot, signing long-term extensions.

The Canadiens' GM needs to “think outside the box” and start negotiating with one of these key players immediately. Every game Gorges plays, every solid mistake free shift he takes, he gets a little more expensive.

With both veterans Hal Gill and Jaroslav Spacek slated to become unrestricted free agents at season's end, Gorges' experience and leadership will be even more so important for the Bleu Blanc Rouge's long-term plans.

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Fred is a freelance sports write and translator, as well as a featured Montreal Canadiens blogger on http://hockeyindependent.com/blog/ and a baseball columnist on http://www.dobberbaseball.com/. Fred also joined HabsAddict.com in time for the 2011-12 season.

Follow Fred on Facebook and Twitter


(Photo Getty Images North America)

Montreal Canadiens by the Numbers - November 21, 2011

The Montreal Canadiens are only a few hours away from their biggest challenge of the season: taking on the red-hot Bruins at the Bell Centre.

After losing back-to-back games to the Canadiens, the Bruins have gone on an eight-game winning streak, moving into seventh overall in the East and becoming the team to beat.

Montreal too has gone through various swings, 20 games into the season, so I thought it would be a good time to see how they've fared so far.

Numbers never lie, so I have taken a look at the standings, scoring, special teams and a few other variables, to see where Montreal currently ranks.

I'll continue to do so a few times a month so you can get an ongoing view of how the Habs are doing.

So, without further, here is the first edition of Montreal Canadiens by the Numbers.

Standings

Montreal is currently 20th overall in the league, last (fifth) in the Northeast Division and 11th overall in the Eastern Conference.

Overall Scoring

Montreal has scored a total of 53 goals over 20 games for an 18th overall 2.65 goals for per game. On the defensive side of the puck, the Habs have a sparkling eighth overall 2.35 goals against, having allowed 49 goals against over 20 games.

While the Habs powerplay could use some work, they are much improved 5-on-5, with a fifth overall 1.28 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio.

Home/Road Scoring

Montreal has scored 32 goals (seventh overall) and allowed 27 (16th overall) through 11 home games. The Canadiens have scored nine powerplay goals at home (sixth overall) while allowing seven against (18th overall).

The Habs have scored (10th) and allowed (24th) one short-handed goal at home.

On the road, the Canadiens have managed only 21 goals-for (20th overall) while limiting their opponents to 20 (sixth overall). They have scored 12 powerplay goals (16th overall) and allowed a measly nine against (fifth overall).

The Canadiens have been having their share of problems when down a man on the road, however.

Montreal has scored one short-handed road goal (22nd overall) but allowed four against (29th overall).

Scoring by period

Montreal tends to do most of their scoring over the back two-third of the game, scoring 12 goals in first periods (23rd overall), 22 in the second (fourth overall) and 17 in the third (18th overall).

The Canadiens have scored two overtime goals and 53 overall.

When it comes to the opposition, they too tend to score most over the last two periods. Montreal has allowed 13 first period goals (23rd overall), 18 second period goals (13th overall), 15 third period goals (22nd overall) and one overtime goal.

Montreal has allowed a total of 47 goals against through 20 games.

Special Teams

Despite a better showing over the last week, Montreal's powerplay is still struggling at 15.4 percent efficiency (20th overall).

Their penalty kill, however, continues to be a strong point, operating at 89.3 percent efficiency (third overall).

Shots and Faceoffs

Montreal has been the aggressor many nights so far this year. The result is the ninth best shots per game average, at 31.4.

The beauty is that the Habs continue to stifle the opposition's attack, limiting them to a second overall 26.8 shots per game. Whether they outshoots their opponent or not, however, seems to have a negligible difference to their winning percentage.

Montreal has won 41.7 percent (22nd overall) of their games when outshooting their opponents and 50 percent (19th overall) when being outshot.

In the faceoff department, Montreal wins 48.8 percent of their faceoffs (22nd overall). A little improvement in this area would likely put a few more victories on the board.

Wins/Loses

Given the trapping nature of the Jacques Martin system, you would expect the Canadiens to do well when scoring the first goal.

Not so much, however.

The Habs win only a little over half their games (54.5 percent, 26th overall) when scoring first.

Montreal's passive resistance system means that they have difficulty pulling off come-from-behind wins. The Canadiens have won only 33.3 percent (17th overall) of games they were trailing after the first period.

In contract, their defensive scheme has held strong 100 percent of the time (tied for first overall) they hold the lead after the first period. That's a pretty amazing stat and testament to the strength of their defensive system, despite the numerous injuries.

Oddly, their winning percent drops to 87.5 when leading after two periods (19th overall).

This means that Montreal has lost 12.5 percent of the games they lead going into the third period. That's not as high as their "sit-back-and-let-them-come-at-you" third period strategy might lead you to believe.

Then again, they are in the bottom of the league (19th overall) in that department, so it's not that good either.

Penalties

Montreal has taken 91 minor (23rd overall) and six major (sixth overall) penalties through 20 games (total of 104 penalties—24th overall, 242 penalty minutes—18th overall).

The Canadiens are once again horrible with the bench minor, tied for last in the league with five.

Overall, Montreal is averaging 12.1 penalty minutes per game (18th overall). If those were all minors, that would mean they were taking a little over six penalties per game.

Clearly, that is too many and the problem of indiscipline is still a thorn in the Habs' sides.

So numbers aside, how do you feel about the Canadiens performance so far? Do you think they are a playoff team? Which is the real version of the Habs, the one that lost to the Isles or shutout the Rangers?

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Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter


(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Habs/Bruins preview, Crosby returns, Gomez, Leafs skid, Rumours and more

Habs News
Hockey Inside/Out - Gomez is trying
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/gomez-is-trying

Hot Bruins return to Montreal
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/hot-bruins-return-to-montreal

TSN - BARTLETT: GOMEZ FINDS HIS GAME IN HABS' WIN OVER RANGERS
http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/blogs/habs_report/?id=380911

Gameday
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/scores/gameday/?hubname=nhl-canadiens

Habsworld.net - HW Recap: Habs overcome injury woes
http://www.habsworld.net/article.php?id=2648

Cyberpresse - Canadien: un «système» qui rapporte


NHL News
TSN - CROSBY RETURNS TO PENGUINS' LINEUP AGAINST ISLANDERS
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=380912

SIEGEL: SLUGGISH START HALTS LEAFS IN CAROLINA
http://www.tsn.ca/toronto/blogs/jonas_siegel/?id=380949

ESPN.com - The emotional return of Sidney Crosby
http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/12392/the-emotional-return-of-sidney-crosby

THN.com - International Scouting Services: The effect of injuries on draft-eligible prospects
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/43072-International-Scouting-Services-The-effect-of-injuries-on-drafteligible-prospects.html

Spector's Hockey - Canadian Corner – November 21, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/21/canadian-corner-november-21-2011/

NHL Trade & Free Agent Rumors – November 21, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/21/nhl-trade-free-agent-rumors-november-21-2011/

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Sunday Shinny - Nov. 20, 2011 - Should Habs trade P.K. Subban, Eller vs. Desharnais, Scott Gomez and more

In this episode of the Sunday Shinny, Gary Whittaker and Kamal Panesar welcome Robyn Flynn to the show.

Topics include:
-Would Habs trade PK Subban for an Eric Staal/Elite center?
-If you could choose ONLY one, would it be Lars Eller or David Desharnais?
-Was Scott Gomez' performance enough to keep his detractors at bay?

Click play below to listen in (listing time 43:47):


(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Habs/Rangers post game, Price, Toronto's Dynamic Duo, Staal brothers, Rumours and more

Habs News
HabsAddict.com - The Sunday Shinny - Nov. 20, 2011 - Should Habs trade P.K. Subban, Eller vs. Desharnais, Scott Gomez and more
http://pc.habsaddict.com/2011/11/sunday-shinny-nov-20-2011-should-have.html

Hockey Inside/Out - About last night …
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/boone/about-last-night-36

Multimedia: Canadiens shut out Rangers
http://www.hockeyinsideout.com/news/multimedia-canadiens-shut-out-rangers

RDS - Un exemple à répéter
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330279.html

Jacques Martin lance des fleurs à Price
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/330350.html

TSN - LIGHT NIGHT FOR PRICE AS CANADIENS BLANK SURGING RANGERS
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=380871

HabsWorld.net - HW 3 Stars: A Saturday Shutout
http://www.habsworld.net/article.php?id=2646


NHL News
TSN - SIEGEL: KESSEL AND LUPUL EMERGE AS NHL'S MOST DANGEROUS DUO
http://www.tsn.ca/toronto/blogs/jonas_siegel/?id=380890

ESPN.com - Brothers collide: Eric and Marc Staal
http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/id/7246643/is-marc-staal-lingering-head-injury-affecting-eric-staal-play

Spector's Hockey - Canadian Corner – November 20, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/20/canadian-corner-november-20-2011/

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 20, 2011
http://spectorshockey.net/wordpress/2011/11/20/sunday-nhl-rumor-roundup-november-20-2011/

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)