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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Habs/Panthers preview, Martin speaks, Leafs, Jets, Lindros, Concussions and more

Good new year's eve day folks!

I hope you've had a much better year than the sad-sack Montreal Canadiens have. But what a year it has been for the Habs.

Looking back, we saw an exciting but ultimately disappointing first round loss to the Bruins last spring. We saw P.K. Subban finish last season as one of the most prolific scoring defenseman in Habs history, and we entered the summer with promise.

All of this, of course, while the calls for Jacques Martin's head were in full effect.

Since the start of this year, things have gone from bad to worse. It seems that every player has had more downs than ups, the assistant coach and then head coach were fired, and Tomas Kaberle was brought it.

All of the moves by GM Pierre Gauthier seems like the actions of a man without a plan. And, in the salary cap world, that is never a good thing.

But hockey aside, on behalf of everyone here at HabsAddict.com, I want to wish you all a happy new year and tons of health, happiness and good fortune for 2012! Enjoy your new year and be safe!

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - Habs Roundup: Louis Leblanc, Carey Price, Randy Cunneyworth and more

Hockey Inside/Out - Paper hats or paper bags?

RDS - Finir l'année en beauté

Jacques Martin sort de son mutisme

ESPN.com - Canadiens-Panthers Preview

Habsworld.net - 2012 Habs WJHC StatTracker

Hockey News

TSN - SIEGEL: MAPLE LEAFS MELT DOWN IN CAROLINA

BEYAK: KANE DELIVERS AGAIN FOR JETS

ESPN.com - Eric Lindros discusses concussions

Campbell: THN's 2011 player of the year

PowerScout Hockey - Ranking Canada's Teams at New Years

Friday, December 30, 2011

Habs Roundup: Louis Leblanc, Carey Price, Randy Cunneyworth and more

The Montreal Canadiens played, and lost to, the Tampa Bay Lightning last night. It was yet another game where Montreal let a third period lead slip away, a disturbing trend that is a prime suspect in the Canadiens woes this season.

I remember when the Habs made the trade for Tomas Kaberle, that I was embroiled in an argument on Twitter about how the Canadiens were just not a playoff team because they had too many holes. The person arguing with me asserted that the only problem with them was the powerplay.

Interesting, since a working powerplay won't help you protect a third period lead, but we are all entitled to our opinion.

The other assertion that was made was that Kaberle would be able to fix the broken powerplay. While there is no question Kaberle brings poise and passing ability to the back end, his recent track record (see his work is Boston and Carolina) suggest otherwise.

That said, as of this morning, the Habs PP currently sits 28th overall in the league at an abysmal 13.1 percent.

Ugly.

A case for Leblanc

If losing six out of seven games is the bad news, the good is that rookie Louis Leblanc looks like he is ahead of schedule. Moreover, he does not look out of place at all in the NHL.

He hasn't necessarily garnered a ton of attention either, due to his limited ice time (he averages 9:54 per game). But with five points (2G, 3A) and a plus-three rating in 14 games, Leblanc is one of only a handful of plus players on this team.

Just to give you an example of the Habs defensive woes, Tomas Plekanec, perennially near the top of the list, is a team-worst minus-10.

What's more amazing, is that if you look at the Habs scorers using the PowerScout Hockey 60-minute equivalent—i.e. looking at how many points each player would average, per 60-minutes of ice time, so that there is a common base—Leblanc would be tied as the third most productive Hab (with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn), averaging 2.2 points per 60 minutes.

Here's a chart of the top-10 Habs, sorted by points and using the 60-minute equivalent:


Pretty impressive numbers for the young man.

So the question is whether or not the Habs should keep Leblanc with the big club.

I can certainly see both sides of the argument, since Leblanc does not look out of place. In fact, playing with David Desharnais and Michael Cammalleri, Leblanc has been displaying his NHL caliber speed, creativity and tenacity on a regular basis.

The main consideration in this decision is that, at some point, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta will be back in the lineup. While I'd rather take Leblanc over either of those two players, the reality is that, unless the Habs can dump either or both they're going to play them.

So Leblanc will end up being the odd man out. Unless, of course, they want to keep him around just to play him five minutes per game on the fourth line. And I'm not a fan of that idea.

The other factor is that Leblanc is lacking physical maturity. That's something that will come with time and in the off season. But, for now, I think it would be better for him to dominate in Hamilton, while getting stronger, than playing for the mess that is the Montreal Canadiens.

Especially if the fourth line is the only place they can find a spot for him.

Price's Play

Much was made last night about Price's play on the second Tampa goal, where most felt he should have stopped the puck.

And, in all honesty, he should have. It was a shot from the outside that just trickled through his pads. And you never like to see a shot go through your goalie.

But let's be honest here for a second, how many wins would Montreal have this season without Price's brilliant play?

Two, maybe three? Less?

Montreal currently has 14 wins and Price has 13 of them. Of the 13 wins, Price has let in one goal six times, two goals three times, three goals twice and zero goals twice.

If you're doing that math, that means Montreal has only won twice when the opposition has scored three or more goals against.

I don't know about you, but that sounds more like a goal scoring problem than a save making one.

Changes with Cunneyworth

Poor Randy Cunneyworth. This guy just can't catch a break. Cunneyworth earned his first NHL win over the Sens the other night, but aside from that there has been precious little to cheer about.

Last night's loss to the Lightning just showcased how fragile this bunch is. Leading 3-1 in the third period only to lose 4-3? Horrible.

Even though the team continues to lose, you can see some differences between Cunneyworth and Jacques Martin's styles.

First of all, the Habs use a two-man forecheck most of the time. That's pretty revolutionary if you're Jacques Martin. The other big change is that, while he benched P.K. Subban and Lars Eller, Cunneyworth is not afraid to lean on his young guns.

And it's bringing out the best in players like Eller and Leblanc.

The problem is that the veterans are, for the most part, still lagging. Fortunately for Montreal, Michael Cammalleri finally broke his lack-of-scoring-streak and has one goal in each of the last two games.

He also potted his first powerplay goal of the year against the Lightning.

I know, 38 games in and the Habs top sniper final got his first powerplay goal. Is there any wonder why this team is floundering?

They won't make the playoffs

I hate to tell you folks, but the Habs chances of making the playoffs of slim and are shrinking by the day. And I am ready to say that they will not make the playoffs.

I know, I know, they're only six points out of the eighth and final spot.

But Montreal has played more games (38) than any team they trail. This means that Tampa (36), Buffalo (36), Washington (35), Ottawa (37) and Toronto (37) all have games in hand over the Habs.

Moreover, what too many people seem to forget is that it's not just about catching the eighth place team. It's also about passing the teams between 12 and eight.

What I mean by that is that in order for the Habs to catch Toronto (they are currently in eighth), Montreal would have to win three straight games to make up the six points.

But, at the same time, they would need Tampa, Buffalo, Washington, Ottawa and Toronto to all lose their next three games. Then, to stay in eighth, Montreal would need to keep winning and the teams trailing them would have to lose their games in hand.

And what are the chances of all of that happening? Slim to none.

The reality is that with 44 games left to play and 35 points in the standings, the Habs would need 58 points to reach the generally accepted 93-point playoff mark. That means 29 wins out of their remaining 44, for a blistering .659 winning percentage till the end of the season.

To put that in perspective, out of the top-10 teams with the highest winning percentage right now, only four are playing at or above .659—Boston (.721), the Rangers (.686), Chicago (.676) and the Flyers (.667).

So do you still think the Habs will qualify for the post season dance?

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and featured columnist on PowerScoutHockey.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/Bolts Post-Game, Price, Jagr and More

Raphael Diaz - Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Canadiens
Another game, another blown lead. So it goes for the Habs.

Carey Price gave up a gift to fomer Canadien J.T Wyman while he also looked shaky on the rebound that led to Lecavalier's goal.

The loss puts Montreal 13th in the Eastern Conference, a whole seven points out of a playoff spot. Like it or not, Habs management need to start looking towards building for next year.

Is now the time to get value for pending free agents like Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen? What should be done with Scott Gomez? What about Andrei Markov?

Amidst the negativity, at least Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin have been bright spots. The Swiss born blueliner has five assists in his last two contests while Emelin delivered another six hits last night. Unlike many, they both seem to be part of the solution.




Habs News 

HabsAddict.com - Habs Roundup: Louis Leblanc, Carey Price, Randy Cunneyworth and more

Hockey Inside / Out - Canadiens prepare for year-ender

Hockey Inside / Out - About last night...

La Presse - Encore du gaspillage

RDS - Andre Savard a sa place

Hockey News

ESPN - Jagr better when he shares spotlight

ESPN - Kings getting hot under Sutter

The Hockey News - Fantasy Pool Look: Sophomore slumps



(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guaranteed Win Night II -Trivia Question - Enter To Win!

The Franchise and HabsAddict.com are proud to announce our second “Guaranteed Win Night” Hockey Party.

(Just like last time, if the Habs lose, you get a coupon for FREE chicken wings so you come out a winner regardless!)

So come out and watch the Canadiens take on the Leafs with us, January 21, 2012 at Brasserie Sports 40!

Wanna be part of our VIP's? Read on and enter!

Entry into the party is completely FREE so show up early because seating will go fast!

We are happy to welcome the Habs Tweetup members who will be having an official Tweetup in conjunction with the event! If you’ve always wanted to see what a Tweetup is all about, now is your chance!

Also, there we will be giving away a ton of prizes such as tickets, jersey, gift certificates and more. Tickets for the draw can be purchased at the event with a portion of the proceeds going towards Team In Training (TNT) http://www.teamintraining.ca/mon/ (a nonprofit fundraising program of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer).

You can win VIP entry into the party for YOU AND FOUR OF YOUR FRIENDS which includes wings and nachos, drinks and a bunch of awesome swag!

Just send the answer to the following question to kamal@habsaddict.com:

Which Habs goaltender has the most career wins for Montreal (and how many wins does he have)?

** Want another chance? Visit TheFranchise.ca and answer THEIR question too!

***Contest closes Sunday January 15th at 9AM.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Canadiens - Senators: Opportunistic Habs Score Six, Snap Losing Streak

What a difference a win makes, eh?

The Canadiens, losers of five-straight games prior to last night, rolled into Ottawa for the fourth game of their current six-game swing. Things started off poorly for Montreal, with the Sens opening the scoring only 1:42 into the first.

And admit it, at that point you thought "here we go again," right?

But it wasn't to be, as Lars Eller got the Habs on the board with a wicked wrister, short handed, at 5:08 of the first. After that, the floodgates opened.

In total, Montreal scored four goals on their first seven shots, chasing Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson from his cage. Alex Auld didn't fare much better as the Habs received scoring all three of their top lines.

Ottawa dominated play for the first 30 minutes but, ultimately, Montreal was able to build momentum off their opportunistic goal scoring to seal the deal.

The win was coach Randy Cunneyworth's first as head coach of the Canadiens. Good on you Randy. This is a guy who is in a no-win situation and who a ridiculous amount of pressure on his shoulders. So it's nice to see him get the first 'W' under his belt.

Final score: Habs 6 - Sens 2

Game notes

The Price is right - While there is a lot of attention on the Habs explosive offensive last night, the win, once again, was signed by Carey Price. He continues to be the uncontested MVP of this team and, without him, they would probably be in the NHL basement.

Against the Sens, Price made 33 saves including 13 in the first and 29 over the first 40 minutes. And all this while the Habs were managing a measly five shots in the first.

The win was Price's 13th of the season. 11 of those wins have come when Price has let in two or less goals against.

Montreal has only won once, with Price in the net, when he has allowed three or more goals. That is at once a testament to Price's importance to this team and a condemnation of Montreal's inability to score.

The best players were the best players - We've all heard that sports cliche that in order to win, your best players have to be your best players.

Well, last night for the Habs, they were.

Coach Cunneyworth, in an effort to jump-start his team, shuffled the deck and came up with some interesting combo's that bore fruit.

Lars Eller, playing with Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty looked like a good combo, but so was the line of David Desharnais centering Louis Leblanc and Michael Cammalleri. Desharnais' vision coupled with Leblanc's tenacious play resulted in two markers.

On the first, the rebound off Leblanc's shot to the net was potted by a lurking Cammalleri. And on the second, Leblanc simply beat the netminder by himself.

The bottom line is that with players like P.K. Subban, Cammalleri, Cole and Tomas Plekanec getting on the board, Montreal got scoring from the people who should be scoring.

And all on the same night. How many times has that happened this season?

Josh Gorges - Stalwart. That is all.

How do you like them apples? - Benched as healthy scratches the previous game, both Eller and Subban roared back with strong games. Eller was finally getting a chance with two top-six wingers in Cole and Pacioretty, and he did not disappoint.

Moreover, his laser-wrister that dinged in off the post to open the scoring, was a thing of beauty. A goal scorers goal.

Eller continues to make a legitimate case for playing in the top-six on this team and, with no sign of Scott Gomez anywhere in sight, that shouldn't a problem for now.

Subban too bounced back, with a solid defensive effort and an equally strong offensive game. He was solid in front of his own net, played a much simpler game than we've seen in recent weeks and was rewarded with a goal and an assist.

Love him or hate him, it's a breath of fresh air to see Coach Cunneyworth generously leaning on his young players.

Stat of the night - Seven. That is the number of Canadiens players who had multi-point nights—Raphael Diaz led the whole pack with three assists. When was the last time that happened?

If the Habs are going to continue to win and turn their season around, they're going to need more offensive outbursts like last night.

Question of the night - What's going on with the injured players?

Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Andrei Markov to be specific.

What exactly is Gomez's injury? And Gionta's? They're skating, they're not skating. It's an arm injury, it's a groin injury.

Gionta, who looked like he injured his hand, apparently has a groin injury. Gomez, who is also supposedly suffering from a groin injury, doesn't seem to skate like a man who's groin is injured. At least according to many who have seen him skate recently.

And what about Markov?

We're about four weeks into the 4-6 week timeframe for him to be back on the ice—according to GM Pierre Gauthier. But no one's seen hide or hare from him. Also, Canadiens management hasn't released any info on Markov with no apparent updates in sight.

It's seems that Gauthier's Omerta is still in full effect.

Up next - The Canadiens have the day off before taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa tomorrow night. It will be the first of a back-to-back against the two Florida teams, with the Habs wrapping up their road-trip on Saturday against the Panthers.

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and featured columnist on PowerScoutHockey.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)

Canadiens/Sens Post-Game, WJC, Leafs and More

Lars Eller Daniel Alfredsson #11 of the Ottawa Senators skates away dejected while P.K. Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his goal with teammates Josh Gorges #26 and Lars Eller #81 during a game at Scotiabank Place on December 27, 2011 in Ottawa, Canada.
Good morning hockey fans.

Randy Cunneyworth finally got his first win as an NHL coach, as his Habs won 6-2 against the Ottawa Senators. 

Lars Eller and P.K Subban, who were healthy scratches in Winnipeg, both scored goals. Tomas Plekanec and Michael Cammalleri also broke goal scroing droughts. 

In the end, seven different players had at least two points, with Raphael Diaz leading the way with three assists. 

Of course, it helped that Craig Anderson was giving away goals like they were on sale for Boxing Week. 

Habs News


Hockey Inside / Out - On to the Sunshine State

Montreal Gazette - Habs coach trying to tune out language debate


Hockey News





(Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images North America)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Canadiens/Senators, World Juniors, Spengler Cup, Cam Ward Scores and More

Happy Holidays Habs fans!

Well, that was not was not an especially close first day at the World Juniors, was it?

Brendan Gallagher, who had a goal and an assist, and Team Canada hammered Finland to the tune of 8-1.

Meanwhile, Jarred Tinordi's American squad crushed Denmark 11-3. The hulking blueliner had a goal in the contest.

The Swedes also cruised past the Latvians by a final score of 9-4.

At least the Swiss kept things interesting, losing 3-0 to Russia but fighting throughout the game, peppering the opposing keeper with 40 shots.

Speaking of Switzerland, the Spengler Cup in Davos also got underway yesterday. Team Canada imposed its will abroad as well, overwhelming HK Vitkovice 7-1.

As for the Montreal Canadiens (remember them?) they head back into action tonight against the surprising Senators, who currently hold on to eighth place in the East with 39 points.

Oh, and in what proved to be a rather interesting day of hockey, Cam Ward was credited with a goal last night.



Habs News

HabsWorld.net - HW Recap: Is it rock bottom yet?

Hockey Inside / Out - Bounce-back game for P.K.?

TSN - Subban looks to be back for Habs after being healthy scratch

TSN - Michalek will return to Senators' lineup Tuesday against Habs

Hockey News

IIHF - Skillful Russians blank Swiss

IIHF - U.S Shuts down Denmark

IIHF - Boxing Day Blowout

IIHF - Swedes Start Strong

Spengler Cup - Canada’s Great Start to the Spengler Cup

TSN - Team Canada loses Smith-Pelly for remainder of tournament

TSN - Romanuk: A blowout start for Canada at Spengler Cup


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Habs wishlist, Canadiens WJC players, Crosby top story, Leafs and more

Good morning and happy holidays to you all!

Today is a time of family. A time of friends. A time when the World Junior Championship start and a time when you can forget about the sad-sack Montreal Canadiens.

I know the season is long—too long when they're losing so badly—but the Habs have certainly been a painful team to watch over the last month.

That said, this Christmas morning and with a Habs on a break till Tuesday, take this time to forget about hockey. And, to remember that it's just hockey. Sure it gets our juices going and our tempers boiling but, at the end of the day, it is just entertainment.

And it's nice, ever once in a while, to take pause and to remember that.

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - Montreal Canadiens: My Christmas Wish List

Hockey Inside/Out - A holiday serenade

Habsworld.net - 2012 Habs World Juniors StatTracker

Hockey News

TSN - CROSBY TOP SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR; TSN.CA USERS VOTE JETS

LEAFS' WILSON HINTS AT CHRISTMAS WISH FOR CONTRACT EXTENSION

WORLD JUNIORS GETS NHL PLAYERS BETTING AND BRAGGING

PowerScoutHockey.com - Montoya Injury BAD for Islanders

ESPN.com - Weekend notebook: surprises of 2011-12

THN.com - Tom Thompson: Merry Christmas to the hockey community

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Montreal Canadiens: My Christmas Wish List

Santa Claus - Christmas Decorations in New Jersey
I would like to think that I am a very rational man.

My emotions very rarely get the better of me, unless I am crying during Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I am the type of person who takes in information, processes it through reason and then responds.

Sure I am an odd ball when it comes to my thought process, but for the most part I am the type of person who reacts only after careful deliberation.

In the blogging world this can be a serious issue. There can be perception of always being late to the ball, but I see it differently. Why read and react when you can read, assess, re-assess, deliberate and then react.

Another quality of mine is the ability to admit defeat or admit when I am wrong.

So with that said, I apologize. I was wrong.

When the Montreal Canadiens first announced the hiring of Jacques Martin I was a very happy camper.

After years of rookie disasters we finally had a man behind the bench with a record of success and strength.

Despite the omnipresent criticism of our general manager, I was also a supporter of Pierre Gauthier.

Perhaps this was because I have a pattern of going against the grain or perhaps it was just a momentary lack of clairvoyance. Either way, with this confession I feel the weight of a 400lbs gorilla removed from my chest.

Yet, despite this confession, a sense of disgust and rage continuously plagues me during this holiday season.

These are feelings that I no longer want to have in my life so I humbly sit here and ask for help. I am in a time of need and so ask that, as I wake up on the morning of December 25th, 2011, that underneath my Christmas tree as well as my stocking are filled with this simple wish list.

The List

Dear Santa,

I have been a good boy in 2011 and ask for the following:

1) Please give the strength to Mr. Molson to reach deep into his pockets and outright fire this staff. From Mr. Gauthier to Mr. Cunneyworth to the assistant coaches. The organization has a lack of vision, and the young players are not developing as they should.

2) As a follow up to my first wish, I would be especially happy if you could allow Mr. Molson to offer the role of General Manager to Pierre McGuire and bring back Larry Robinson in a capacity of assistant coach for the defence.

3) Can you please change the Habs' training staff? Not only are they among the league leaders in man games lost to injury almost every year but the recovery process always seems to be longer than any other club. On top of that, a number of key players seem to be re-aggravating injuries due to improper monitoring .

4) Can we please get a roofer on the payroll? I am fed up of spending money and draft picks repairing a leaking roof instead of just outright changing the roof. Enough is enough.

5) Can we please get some much needed toughness to both the forward and defensive units? It is unacceptable that Petteri Nokelainen leads this team in fighting majors and poor Travis Moen is the lone pugilist against most clubs. The Canadiens need help.

6) Please remove the name of Mathieu Darche for my memory. I watch the game  five-on-5 and he’s there. I watch the PK or the PP and he’s there. I think this morning I woke up to make breakfast and he had already moved into my bed. Please, no more Mathieu Darche.

7) Can Alexei Emelin be allowed to play in a position where he is comfortable? He was playing extremely well when he was paired with Raphael Diaz on the left side of the ice. Maybe we should give this a shot.

8) Can we please change this policy of not negotiating during the season? Josh Gorges needs to be locked up to a multi-year deal right now.

9) Can Michael Cammalleri finally be sent packing? It was a bad idea getting this guy in the first place, despite his playoff success. I would trade him right now to LA for Dustin Penner and a good pick. Make it happen.

10) My final request: Can I please get a Stanley Cup that I can actually remember? We have not won the cup this century and I am getting fed up of non-hockey markets hoisting the cup. Please allow the Habs to get better and reward this rabid fan base.

---
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!

(Photo by PacificCoastNews.com)

Habs on break, Carbo as coach, Rangers Girardi, Leafs, WJC and more

Happy Saturday (and holidays) puck addicts!

With the Canadiens and the NHL on a mini-holiday break I thought it would be a good time to thank you all.

Thank you for reading HabsAddict.com, for posting comments, for following and engaging in discussion on Facebook and Twitter, and, overall, for helping make the site one of the top Habs blogs on the Net.

Without your support, this site would be just another voice in the wilderness.

So thank you and have a happy and safe holiday season and new year!

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - Build your own team of former Montreal Canadiens players

Hockey Inside/Out - Making the case for Carbo

RDS - Trève

Sans Markov, le Canadien s'est enlisé


Hockey News

TSN - SIEGEL: GOOD VIBE FOR LEAFS ENTERING HOLIDAY BREAK

FRASER: THOUGHTS ON THE FOLIGNO HIT...AND SEE YOU IN 2012!

NO CHARGES FOR MILBURY IN CONFRONTATION WITH YOUTH PLAYER

DREGER'S MAILBAG: FLAMES TRADE SPECULATION AND SELANNE

PowerScout Hockey - Underappreciated: Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers

THN .com - Campbell: Top youngsters belong in NHL, not WJC

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Build your own team of former Montreal Canadiens players

Now that we've reached the yearly Christmas break hiatus, it's an appropriate time to look at the Montreal Canadiens situation and wonder why things have turned out so badly for a team that was supposed to battle for a least a playoff spot in 2011-12.

Following their worst performance of the season yesterday night in Winnipeg, a 4-0 loss, the Canadiens are now mired in a season-long five consecutive losses, their longest since Jacques Martin became the team's head coach in October 2009.

The club looks bored, hapless and flat, especially since Jacques Martin's firing that occurred last Saturday only a few hours before the team lost 5-3 against the New Jersey Devils. Martin's assistant, Randy Cunneyworth, took over as the team's interim head coach without much success so far.

Under Cunneyworth, the Habs have scored a mere 6 goals in 4 games (1.5 GPG average) while allowing a dismal 17 goals (4.25 GAG average). Some veterans, such as Michael Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec and Hal Gill, look lost, disinterested on the ice and like they don't want to work hard and give their 100 percent for their new coach.

Several moves made by general manager Pierre Gauthier and previous GM Bob Gainey, have proven to be costly financially and unproductive on the ice—for example Scott Gomez and Andrei Markov).

Let's have a look at what the Habs' line-up could look like if it was only filled with former players. Below you will find a list of all players who played for the Canadiens since the 2004-05 lock-out, whether they were traded or let go via free agency by the organization.

Your roster must include 2 goalies, 6 defensemen and 12 forwards, and fit under the NHL salary cap of $64.3MM.

Goaltenders

Jaroslav Halak - 6 wins ($3.75M)

Jose Theodore - 13 wins ($1.5M)

Alex Auld - 1 win ($1M)

Curtis Sanford - 5 wins ($600,000)


Defensemen

James Wisniewski - 16 points ($5.5MM)

Mark Streit - 18 points ($4.1MM)

Mike Komisarek - 4 points ($4.5MM)

Francois Beauchemin - 11 points ($3.8MM)

Roman Hamrlik - 2 points ($ 3.5MM)

Ryan O'Byrne - 5 points ($1.8M)

Sheldon Souray - 15 points ($1.65M)

Francis Bouillon - 4 points ($1.35M)

Ryan McDonagh - 14 points (1.3M)

Marc-Andre Bergeron - 22 points ($1M)

Jeff Woywitka - 5 points ($650,000)


Forwards

Mike Ribeiro - 24 points ($5MM)

Alex Tanguay - 22 ponts ($3.5MM)

Michael Ryder - 21 points ($3.5MM)

Mikhail Grabovski -15 points ($2.9MM)

Sergei Kostitsyn - 15 points ($2.5MM)

Saku Koivu - 15 points ($2.5MM)

Guillaume Latendresse - 9 points ($2.5MM)

Chris Higgins - 22 points ($1.9M)

Matt D'Agostini - 12 points ($1.65M)

Benoit Pouliot - 8 points ($1.1M)

Dominic Moore - 11 points ($1.1M)

Maxim Lapierre - 9 points ($1M)

Tom Kostopoulos - 7 points ($916,667)

Jeff Halpern - 9 points ($825,000)

Kyle Chipchura - 4 points ($550,000)

Tom Pyatt - 4 points ($525,000)

My potential roster:

Goalies:

Halak-Theodore

Defensive pairings:

Beauchemin-Wisniewski

Streit-McDonagh

Bouillon-Bergeron

Offensive lines:

Tanguay-Ribeiro-Ryder

Higgins-Koivu-Kostitsyn

Pouliot-Moore-D'Agostini

Lapierre-Halpern-Kostopoulos

Total cap hit: $47.85MM

So who would you choose? Which former player(s) would you really want back in Montreal?

---
Fred is a freelance sports writer and translator, as well as a Montreal Canadiens blogger on http://thehockeywriters.com 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 by Elsa/Getty Images North America)

Habs/Jets post game, Hawks Cup favorites, Power Rankings, Rumours and more

Happy Friday Habs addicts!

Although if you're a fan of the Habs I'm sure there's nothing that's making you very happy right now.

Montreal dropped their fifth straight game, last night, a 4-0 blanking at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets. And man did they look bad in the process.

It looks like Carey Price is the only player who is showing up on a regular basis.

In other news, Adam Proteau looks at the Blackhawks as Stanley Cup favorites, Jonas Spiegel discusses Joffrey Lupul and much more.

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - Montreal Canadiens in Chaos, Need Leadership at the Top

Hockey Inside/Out - At least it’s a white Christmas

About last night … with audio

RDS - « C’est rendu gênant pour chacun de nous »

TSN - WHEELER HAS TWO GOALS, ASSIST; JETS SHUT OUT CANADIENS

HabsWorld.net - HW 3 Stars: Quintuple Low Five

THN.com - Campbell: Unnecessary talk

Hockey News

TSN - FRASER: WHY EDLER'S GOAL ON HOWARD SHOULD NOT HAVE COUNTED

TSN.CA NHL POWER RANKINGS

SIEGEL: LUPUL A CONSISTENT THREAT FOR LEAFS

THN.com - Proteau: Blackhawks take over as Stanley Cup favorite

Boylen: What makes hockey great

VIDEO: Kings Anze Kopitar paving the way for Slovenian hockey

Spector's Hockey - Next Update to NHL Rumors page – Tuesday, December 27, 2011

(Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images North America)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Montreal Canadiens in Chaos, Need Leadership at the Top

As I sit looking out the window at the ice covered winter scene, I am reminded of the Montreal Canadiens.

The washed out, grey sky and the glistening frozen-tundra-look of the trees is akin to the frozen wasteland the Canadiens have become. And just like the weather that announces snow over the next day or so, the immediate future looks decidedly frosty for the Habs.

I can honestly say that, in the 35-plus years of watching this team, I have never seen the organization in more turmoil.

Sure they've had their share of drama like when Patrick Roy was traded, the Mike Milbury-like Rejean Houle years and even the Bob Gainey rebuild of 2009.

But none provoked as much angst and frustration from the Habs fanbase as their current situation.

Politics not sport

So this morning, as I read about a protest of the Canadiens being organized by the Quebec and Montreal French Movements, and I hear politicians getting up on their soapboxes to slay the evil anglo demon known as Randy Cunneyworth, I can't help but feel sick to my stomach.

This is not hockey. This is not the Montreal Canadiens. This is politics, pure and simple.

It's an opportunity for some in the media to advance their personal agendas. It's an opportunity for politicians to jump on a bandwagon in order to gain votes and trumpet a dead and dying cause.

But more importantly, it's an opportunity for the strong xenophobic current that lies dormant in Quebec culture to rear it's ugly head.

Maybe it's just fear, as my HabsAddict.com colleague, Louis Moustakas wrote (en Français).

Whatever it is, I won't get into the details of the language debate. Enough people have already hashed and rehashed them. But I will say that as a born and raised Montreal Allophone who used to be married to a French-Canadian woman, I truly understand both sides of the debate.

And my one wish would be that there was a little more moderation on both sides. If each took one step toward the other, perhaps a reasonable understanding could be reached.

For those who say that it should be the best coach, no matter what, and that language has no bearing on anything, I ask, do you have no knowledge of Quebec history?

Do you not understand the roots of this team and the repression French-Canadians used to suffer in this province?

And for those who say it must be a French or French-speaking coach, no matter what. That winning is secondary to protecting the French language, I say, do you not want another Stanley Cup in Montreal? Would you not be happy with a championship team, regardless of who is running the ship?

I would also ask why do we have to be stuck in the past? Why do a people need to be stuck in the mentality of a movement whose roots took ground 60 years ago?

It is not better to move forward towards the future rather than living in the past?

But I'm not here to discuss this current sports battle turned politics. I am here to show how when a team is falling apart, as the Canadiens certainly are, the vultures come out in full force.

And that is exactly what is happening right now.

We've heard the refrain "winning cures all" this week and, when it comes to the Habs, that has never been more true.

And I'm not talking about short term winning, since this year looks like a write-off, but winning on a perennial basis. Becoming a Stanley Cup contender again. Having an on-ice product that is both entertaining and successful.

Those are the key ingredients that have been missing from this team since they last won the Cup in 1993.

It starts at the top

If you haven't yet read Bertrand Raymond's brilliant piece about Gauthier and the current language problem, do yourself a favour and check it out.

Sorry my anglo readers, it's in French. :-)

In short, Raymond explains how the seeds for the Canadiens current mess were sown when then Habs President, Ronald Corey, fired GM Serge Savard and brought in Rejean Houle.

He says that the organization has had poor drafting, terrible trades and a coaching carrousel since then.

Hard to argue with any of that and Mr. Raymond basically nails the descent of this once proud organization. He also discusses the shortcomings of Bob Gainey and his successor, Pierre Gauthier, and goes on to talk about how Gauthier is finished in Montreal.

And I tend to agree.

When Gainey took over this organization, he was a ray of light. He was the man who was supposed to shepard the Habs back to glory and out of the dark times of the 90s.

Instead, since he took over in 2003, the Canadiens are perennially one of the highest spending but lowest achieving teams in the league. Moreover, Gainey and Gauthier have shown that they simply do not know how to manage a team in the salary cap world.

They run the team like it's still 1994.

With long term, high paying contracts to Michael Cammalleri, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez, in addition to rich extensions to Andrei Markov—who for all we know will never play again—and now Tomas Kaberle, the Habs are a team who will continue to be up against the cap for the forseeable future.

And the kicker? Most of these are second-tier players being forced into top-tier roles and being paid accordingly.

What an absolute mess.

To me, there is no doubt in my mind that Gauthier will be let go by or before the end of the season.

Heck, if Habs owner, Geoff Molson, is smart he's probably already looking for his replacement.

Who he ultimately hires for the job will determine whether this team will get back on track or remain a rudderless ship.

Taking a step back, this year, in order to take two or three steps forward in the future is not a bad thing. It's the "we must make the playoffs at all costs" mentality that has kept the Canadiens in a one step forward, one step back dance for the last 15 years.

Here's hoping Molson brings in someone who understands the modern game, is creative, innovative and knows how to build a winner. Anything short of that will unfortunately bring more of the same.

As Hockey Inside/Out's Mike Boone pointed out in his post-game piece, the Habs need 60 points in their remaining 47 games to end the season with 93, and make the playoffs.

That's 30 wins out of 47 or a 63.8 winning percentage from here to the end of the season.

Can you say early tee-time?

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and featured columnist on PowerScoutHockey.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 Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Canadiens/Blackhawks Post-Game, Language, Sweden Cheating and More

Corey Crawford - Montreal Canadiens v Chicago Blackhawks
Good morning Habs fans!  Do you have Chelsea Dagger in your heads this morning?
I don't.

But, then again, I stopped watching after the third Hawks goal.

Unprofessional for someone who writes about the Habs on a daily basis? A little bit, for sure.

Even writers get tired of losing and lackluster performances.

At least there is still reason to hope for the future. Not the imeediate future. No one really expects the Canadiens to string together a long series of wins.

Rather, hope for the mid and long-term. With three Canadiens' prospects — Michael Bournival, Nathan Beaulieu and Brendan Gallagher — on Team Canada's WJC squad as well as Jarred Tinordi representing the United States and Daniel Pribyl suiting up for the Czech Republic, the Christmas tournament should be especially interesting for the Habs faithful.

Speaking of which, Michael Bournival signed an ELC with Montreal yesterday.

Discussion

HW/HA Forum - GDT | Montreal at Chicago | December 21, 2011 | 1930 EST

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - Le CH et la peur

Louis' Note: Above is my take on the language issue. In French. That is my shameless plug for today.

HabsWorld.net - Is There A Doctor in the House?

HabsWorld.net - Habs sign Michael Bournival to a three-year contract

Eyes on the Prize - Cunneyworth still in search of a W as Blackhawks crush Habs

Hockey Inside / Out - About last night...

RDS - Pierre Gauthier est cuit

Hockey News

ESPN - Flyers coast as Claude Giroux nets four points in return

Louis' Note: Between Pronger's injury, Giroux's return, a last second goal by the Rangers last week and Steve Ott shoving Peter Laviolette, it is not like the crew at HBO are having a hard time generating stories for 24/7.

Sports Illustrated - A simple way to curb concussions

TSN - Forsberg denies Sweden threw game at 2006 Olympics

Louis' Note: Sure Peter, I believe you. It's not like your coach came out publicly and suggested it would be best you threw the game. Swedish coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson said something along the lines of "We are going to go out and play and whatever happens happens, but neither one of us will waste energy."

TSN - Fraser: Knocking the net off and sunbelt hockey


(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Le CH et la peur

Randy Cunneyworth Montreal Canadiens head coach Randy Cunneyworth works the bench during the game against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on December 19, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Le Canadien de Montréal est une organisation riche en histoire, une organisation qui jouit d’une position unique au sein d’une culture unique en Amérique du Nord.

En raison de cette position unique, le club de hockey se retrouve souvent à l'intersection du monde sportif et du monde politique.

Ce fait a été à nouveau mis en évidence cette semaine quand, suite au congédiement de Jacques Martin, le club a annoncé l’embauche de Randy Cunneyworth comme entraineur par intérim.

Randy Cunneyworth, un anglophone unilingue issu d’Etobicoke, a vite senti les foudres des médias qui exigent un entraineur francophone.

Mais, pourquoi ce brouhaha? Après tout, d’un point de vue pragmatique, la langue de l’entraineur ne change pas grand chose.

Avec plus de 20 pays représentés au sein de la LNH, on converge vers l’anglais dans le vestiaire des joueurs. Les pratiques et les réunions d’équipe sont dirigées dans la langue de Shakespeare.

Les journalistes, eux, doivent déjà interagir en anglais avec plusieurs joueurs et entraineurs, donc ils possèdent déjà les moyens pour s’ajuster à un instructeur anglophone chez le Canadien.

Pour le partisan, que le coach livre ses banalités au point de presse dans une langue ou deux n’affectera pas sa lecture de la section des sports.

Alors, pourquoi cette controverse?

La peur. La peur de perdre sa langue, sa culture et son héritage.

« Au Québec, le Canadien n'est pas seulement une équipe de hockey. C'est aussi une institution. Et comme toute institution, elle a des responsabilités envers son milieu. Parmi elles, la défense et la promotion du français» dit Philippe Cantin, du journal La Presse.

M. Cantin souligne une responsabilité de promouvoir et protéger le français. Nous pourrions donc sous entendre que, sans cette protection, la culture francophone s’écroulera et qu’elle sera assimilée par la mer d’anglophones qui l’entoure.

Notre culture est-elle si faible? Avons-nous réellement besoin de la protection du Canadien?

Un rapport de 2007 nous indique que 83% de la population Québécoise utilise le français à la maison. Cela représente au-delà de 6 million de personnes dans la province.

Les Québécois représentent un des peuples les plus éduqué sur la planète, avec plus de 60% de la population active possédant un diplôme postsecondaire.

Plusieurs compagnies d’envergure telles que Bombardier, Alcan ou Bell ont des liens étroits avec la province. À lui seul, le Québec représente la 44e économie mondiale et presque 20% de l’économie canadienne.

Mais il y a toujours cette peur. Cette peur de perdre sa place dans le monde.

«Il s'agit de montrer aux Québécois et au monde que le français est une langue moderne et dynamique, qu'on n'a pas à abandonner pour réussir à l'échelle de la planète» renchéri le journaliste André Pratte.

Abandonner? Le français est la deuxième langue la plus enseignée au monde. Globalement, le français est une langue officielle dans plus de 29 pays et est parlé par plus de 250 millions de personnes.

Le gouvernement du Québec entretient un réseau de délégations internationales dans plus de 25 villes à travers la planète. La province jouit d’une excellente réputation et attire plus de 7 million de visiteurs par année.

Les artistes de la province continuent de rayonner à l’étranger. Au-delà des noms célèbres comme Robert Lepage ou Céline Dion, d’autres comme Denys Arcand, Marie Laberge ou Malajube connaissent également du succès.

Plus que jamais, le français et le Québec semblent avoir une place de choix dans le monde.

Mais cette peur, il y a toujours cette peur.

Notre insécurité nous mène à scruter chaque décision sous un microscope linguistique.

Notre insécurité impose une atmosphère où nous avons parfois l’impression qu’il faut choisir entre le français ou l’anglais.

Cette peur, j’en ai assez.

Si nous croyons réellement en la force et l’importance du français, nous devrions avoir la confiance qu’elle peut cohabiter avec l’anglais et les anglophones, et même ceux qui sont unilingues.

Si nous croyons réellement aux capacités et aux talents des francophones, nous devrions les laisser faire leur place sans le fardeau des politicailleries. 

Notre langue, notre culture est-elle si précaire qu’il faut la défendre contre un simple homme, un simple entraineur, parce qu’il est anglophone?

À voir la réaction des médias, il faut croire que oui.

Pourtant, il me semble que nous sommes plus forts que ça. Moi, cette réaction m’insulte.

Pas vous?

---
Louis est rédacteur pour HabsAddict.com et redacteur pour HabsWorld.net. Il vit presentement a Ottawa où il travaille pour l’Association canadienne des entraineurs. On peut le rejoindre à l.moustakas@habsworld.net

L'opinion est celle de l'auteur et ne reflète pas nécessairement les opinions de HabsAddict.com 

(Photo par Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Guaranteed Win Night II - hockey party for charity - Jan. 21, 2012

The Franchise and HabsAddict.com present
Guaranteed Win Night II

WHAT: GUARANTEED WIN NIGHT II
WHO: Presented by THE FRANCHISE and HABSADDICT.COM (Nick Murdocco, Gary Whittaker, Kamal Panesar)
WHERE: BRASSERIE SPORT 40 (8220 Metropolitain E, Anjou)
WHEN: Saturday January 21, 2012, 6 pm to 11pm
COVER CHARGE: Nothing, it’s totally free!
PRIZE DRAW: Tickets can be purchased for the prize draws at the event.
CHARITY: A portion of the proceeds go to Team In Training (a nonprofit fundraising program of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer).
SPECIAL GUESTS: Habs Tweetup members, TSN 990 radio personalities, Team In Training (TNT) Alumni

The holiday season is upon us and you know what that means right? Another Guaranteed Win Night! Oh, you were thinking about Santa Claus? Our bad.

To help ring in the new year in style The Franchise and HabsAddict.com are proud to announce our second “Guaranteed Win Night”! Just like last time, if the Habs lose you get a coupon for *FREE chicken wings so you come out a winner regardless!

If you want to see what you missed last time, here are pics from Guaranteed Win Night I: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150349038191616.343859.293450486615&type=1

Plus we are happy to welcome the Habs Tweetup members who will be having an official Tweetup in conjunction with the event! If you’ve always wanted to see what a Tweetup is all about, now is your chance!

So come out and watch the Canadiens take on the Leafs with us, January 21, 2012 at Brasserie Sports 40!

Does is get better than that? Yes, it does. Entry into the party is completely FREE so show up early because seating will go fast!

Also, there we will be giving away a ton of prizes such as tickets, jersey, gift certificates and more. Tickets for the draw can be purchased at the event with a portion of the proceeds going towards Team In Training (TNT) http://www.teamintraining.ca/mon/ (a nonprofit fundraising program of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer).

You can win VIP entry into the party for YOU AND FOUR OF YOUR FRIENDS which includes wings and nachos, drinks and a bunch of awesome swag!

Listen to The Franchise on TSN Radio 990 (www.tsn.ca/Montreal) every Saturday Sunday from 7am to 10am for your chance to qualify.

You can also qualify online at www.thefranchise.ca or www.habsaddict.com.

Keep checking the website for the trivia question (correctly answer the trivia question in order to qualify, winners will be announced on Sunday January 8, 2012 on the Sunday Shinny portion (9 – 10 AM) of the Franchise Weekend Morning show (TSN radio 990).

Once the game is over the lights get lower and the music gets louder as the on-site DJ and your great hosts at Brasserie Sports 40 will keep the party going!

So come out, watch the game and help out a good cause!

Guaranteed Win Night II is brought to you by:

Brasserie Sport 40, in Anjou
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brasserie-sports-40/140848159265945

CSG International
http://www.csgint.ca/

GameTags
https://www.gametags.ca/

Team in Training (TNT)
http://TeamInTraining.ca/Mon

Secret Garden Florist

*due to circumstances beyond our control, the chicken wings
had to be changed for another item of equal value...more details at the
party.

Canadiens/Blackhawks, Language, Sabres and More

Jonathan Toews - Chicago Blackhawks v Pittsburgh Penguins
Good morning Hab addicts.

The Canadiens have quite a challenge ahead, facing off against the almighty Blackhawks tonight.

Jonathan Toews is having a Hart-worthy campaign. Marian Hossa has been on a tear with 37 points. Former Senator Ray Emery has wrestled away the starting position from Montreal native Corey Crawford.

And yet, with all of these captivating story lines, all we are focused is the language of the coach.

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - Montreal Canadiens Plus/Minus: Organizational Culture

HabsAddict.com - The Montreal Canadiens' unexpected hidden gem: David Desharnais

Hockey Inside/Out - On to Chicago

La Presse - Damage Control

Sports Illustrated - Coaching in Montreal presents unique demands

TSN - Carbonneau says Habs coach must know French to survive

Louis' Note: Really? How is the French of Dick Irvin? Or Scotty Bowman? Or Toe Blake? Or maybe they had  a hard time learning French because they had a combined 16 Stanley Cup rings stuck in their ears.

TSN - Montreal tabloid rips Cunneyworth for 'another loss'

Louis' Note: Personally, I enjoy how TSN calls le Journal de Montreal a tabloid as opposed to a newspaper. Good on them for calling a spade a spade.

Hockey News 

ESPN - Kings seem misguided in hiring Sutter

ESPN - It's not panic time in Buffalo -- yet

The Hockey News - What makes hockey great

PowerScout Hockey - Trendspotting: Eric Staal on the rise


(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images North America)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Montreal Canadiens Plus/Minus: Organizational Culture

Where to begin?

Since this column last appeared, the Canadiens have lost three consecutive games, fired their head coach and seem ever on the brink of a complete organizational overhaul.

In this edition of Plus/Minus, we will discuss the culture within the Canadiens as well as Price's recent performances.

Plus

With a fired coach and three straight losses, the Canadiens have been decidedly naughty, not nice. Santa has decided that they deserve nothing but a lump of coal this week.

Although, should one insist on finding positives, David Desharnais' emergence is certainly one of them.

Minus

Firing Jacques Martin: This move was pointless.

Randy Cunneyworth has been given 50 games to turnaround a moribund squad. Unless he pulls an unparalleled miracle, he is liable to be shown the door at season's end. Similarly, Pierre Gauthier looks like he is on his last legs as the team's General Manager.

So much for Geoff Molson's vote of confidence.

Realistically, how does one expect Cunneyworth or Gauthier to have the foresight to do what is best for the franchise when they are constantly looking over their shoulders.

If you are going to effect change, why continually do so in half-measures?

Assistant Coach Perry Pearn was fired earlier this season but retained as a scout. Then Jacques Martin was let go only to be replaced by another assistant coach. Larry Carriere descends from the front office into a coaching position as well.

Other remnants of previous regimes remain as well. Bob Gainey, Clement Jodoin, Patrick Boivin —former President Pierre Boivin's son — and Rejean Houle all hold various roles within the Canadiens.

Why not actually hire a new manager and new coach? Why postpone what seems inevitable? Why not take a look at your organization now and clean house?

As it stands, the Canadiens have an odd mix of people fearing for their jobs and remnants of other less-than-successful eras. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Price's Puckhandling: Ignoring for a moment that Carey Price has allowed three goals or more in his past four starts, his puckhandling has been abysmal lately.

In the game against Philadelphia last week, he led his team with four giveaways and one of his turnovers directly resulted in Andrej Meszaros' game winner. 

Too often, Price seems overly intent on distributing the puck. His blueliners are caught unprepared and forced to make a play, a play they are not ready to execute.

Perhaps the netminder feels compelled to force the play due to his team's inability in the faceoff circle.

Perhaps he wants to do too much given his team's recent lack of success.  

Regardless, should Price continue to emerge as the true leader of this team, he will need to show poise, patience and calm, be it making saves or moving the puck.


---
Louis is an Associate Editor at HabsAddict.com and an Editor at HabsWorld.net. 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 l.moustakas@habsworld.net


(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images North America)

The Montreal Canadiens' unexpected hidden gem: David Desharnais


David Desharnais - Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Canadiens
Despite being a dominant player at every level, David Desharnais has had to repeatedly prove himself because of his small 5-feet-6, 175 pound frame.

 It takes a special athlete to overcome the ingrained size discrimination that exists in today’s NHL, one who must combine quickness, intelligence, athleticism, skill, courage and, most importantly, determination.

After being drafted 20th overall on June 7th, 2003 by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, the diminutive pivot managed to have a very successful QMJHL career from 2003 to 2007. In 262 games with Chicoutimi, Desharnais scored 126 goals and added 248 assists for 374 points - a 1.43 point per game rate. He also won the Frank J. Selke Memorial Trophy as the QMJHL’s most sportsmanlike player in three consecutive years from 2004-05 to 2006-07.

Despite a successful junior career, the talented center went undrafted at the 2005, 2006 and 2007 NHL Entry Drafts.

The following September, Desharnais received an invitation to the Canadiens rookie training camp on a tryout basis on the recommendation of Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau, who is a co-owner of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.

After his tryout, the Laurier-Station, Quebec native signed a contract with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. That year, as a rookie, Desharnais led the league in scoring with 106 points in only 68 games. Desharnais is only the fourth rookie in 20 years to lead the ECHL in scoring.

The competitive rookie added 33 points in 22 play-off games to lead the Cyclones to their first Kelly Cup championship.

One year later, in September 2008, Desharnais was invited to the Canadiens rookie camp on an AHL-contract. He participated in four exhibition games, recording two assists, before being sent down to Hamilton. One month into the season, Desharnais signed a two-way contract with the Habs. In his first full-AHL season, he recorded 24 goals and 34 assists for 58 points along with a +12 ratio in 77 games. He finished tied for third in AHL rookie scoring.

The following season, Desharnais exploded at the AHL level, scoring 27 goals and adding 51 helpers for 78 points along with a fantastic +30 rating in 60 games. The center also played in his first NHL game on November 25th, 2009 at Pittsburgh and recorded his first NHL point versus Washington on February 10, 2010.

In 2010-11, Desharnais starts the season in Hamilton once again, notching an impressive 10 goals and 35 assists for 45 points in only 35 games with the Bulldogs. DD instantly clicks with current line-mate Max Pacioretty before both players get called-up during the season.
When the Canadiens decided they want to part ways with forward Maxim Lapierre on December 30, 2010, trading him to the Anaheim Ducks, it opened a roster spot for the creative pivot. Desharnais was called-up the next day and finished the season with the Canadiens, playing 43 games with the big club, scoring 8 goals and 14 assists for 22 points despite playing only 12:52 minutes per game.

As restricted free agent in July, Desharnais signed a two-year, one way contract with Montreal valued at $750,000 dollars in year one and $950,000 in year two.

Thanks to an early injury to Lars Eller, the 25 year-old center started this season on the team's third line behind veterans like Tomas Plekanec and Scott Gomez.

Desharnais took advantage of the opportunity. After overpaid veteran Scott Gomez went down with a lower-body injury, DD found himself on the team's top-six playing with talented players such as Erik Cole, Max Pacioretty, Andrei Kostitsyn and Brian Gionta.

After a few games, former head-coach Jacques Martin reunited Desharnais and Pacioretty on a line completed by recently signed power forward Erik Cole. The line immediately began producing and has now become the Canadiens' most reliable forward line.

So far in 2011-12, Desharnais has amassed 5 goals and 15 assists for 20 points in 33 games. He is arguably now the team's number one center, ahead of struggling center Tomas Plekanec. Even when veteran Scott Gomez returns to the line-up, it will be hard for the Canadiens to cut DD's ice time of 17:47 minutes/game as he's on pace for almost 50 points over a full season, whereas Gomez hasn't scored a goal in almost a year.

In short (pun not intended), David Desharnais, or double-D, is an undrafted master illusionist whose magic and courage have vaulted him from the minors to the Montreal Canadiens' top-producing forward line in less than 12 months. He seems destined to join other diminutive players who have had tremendous success in the NHL such as Martin St-Louis and Steve Sullivan.

---
Fred is a freelance sports write and translator, as well as a Montreal Canadiens blogger on http://thehockwywriters.com 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 by Richard Wolowicz / Getty Images North America)

Canadiens/Bruins Post Game, Sutter, Red Line and More

Tim Thomas - Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins
That was rough start to the season's longest road trip, wasn't it?

Last night the Canadiens fell to the Bruins 3-2. Although the effort was there, turnovers absolutely killed the Habs. P.K Subban's less than slick between the legs pass and Travis Moen's inability to clear the zone proved costly.

It is one thing to make mistakes. It is another thing to make mistakes because you refuse to make the simple play. I'm sure Randy Cunneyworth was none too impressed.

And, yet, the Canadiens remain two points out of a playoff spot.

Then again, in the grand scheme of things, perhaps missing the post-season would be best?

Discussion

HW/HA Forum - Tonight's game GDT Montréal - Boston

HW/HA Forum - Getting ready for 2012-2013

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - The Canadiens' unexpected hidden gem: David Desharnais

HabsWorld.net - Writers Weigh in: The Martin Firing

Louis' Note: I haven't really expressed my thoughts on the Martin firing in concrete fashion, but I do so here.   I don't touch on the language issue though. I'm saving that wonderful topic for HabsAddict.com

Hockey Inside/Out - About last night...

La Presse - Cunneyworth: «Nous avons fait un pas en avant»

Hockey News

ESPN - Kings seem misguided in hiring Sutter

The Hockey News - Unnecessary Talk

Sports Illustrated - The red line debate

Louis' Note: The notion that restoring two line passes in the NHL would curb concussions is silly. It would slow down the game considerably, it would not prevent hits targeting the head. NCAA and IIHF rules have long since eliminated the red line and, at those levels, concussion epidemics have yet to arise.


(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Habs Press Release - Geoff Molson's Statement on Coaching Change

COMMENTS FROM GEOFF MOLSON FOLLOWING THE HEAD COACHING CHANGE WITH THE MONTREAL CANADIENS

MONTREAL (December 19, 2011) – Team owner, President and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens, Geoff Molson, made the following comments today on the head coaching change over the weekend.

“On Saturday, our general manager Pierre Gauthier made a coaching change and named Randy Cunneyworth interim head coach of the Montreal Canadiens until the end of the 2011-12 season.

This important decision was made with the objective of giving the team a much-needed spark after disappointing results since the start of the 2011-12 season. We are responsible for providing our fans and partners with a winning team and believe that this move will contribute to improve the overall performance of our team and produce positive results this season. The action was taken to remedy the situation without further delay.

Randy Cunneyworth is a qualified and experienced coach who has earned the respect of the players and everyone within the organisation and he was ready to take over the responsibility of head coach. As Pierre Gauthier indicated, the head coaching position will be revaluated at the end of the season and, at that time the selection process will be carefully planned.

Although our main priority remains to win hockey games and to keep improving as a team, it is obvious that the ability for the head coach to express himself in both French and English will be a very important factor in the selection of the permanent head coach.

Like all our fans we hope for the Montreal Canadiens to be among the top teams in the NHL and we are doing everything we possibly can to win.

We would like to thank all our fans for their understanding.”

Canadiens/Bruins, Jacques Martin, Erik Cole, Sutter and More

Erik Cole - New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens
Happy Monday Hockey fans.

After another dramatic weekend in Montreal, the Canadiens get ready to embark on their season-determining Christmas road trip.

With games against Boston, Chicago, Winnipeg, Ottawa Florida and Tampa Bay, the results during this voyage will truly set the tone for the second half of the campaign.

Currently, the Canadiens remain only two points out of a playoff position, sitting in 13th with 33 points. Sport Club Stats gives the Habs a 38.9 percent chance of making the post-season.

With the way things have gone lately, you would expect it to be worse, wouldn't you?


Discussion

Forum - Who would you pick as a long term coach?

Habs News



Hockey Inside / Out - On to Boston

Hockey Inside / Out - Cole avoids suspension, Lucic to have hearing

Louis' Note: Montreal cannot afford to be without Cole, but he should have gotten time for his hit. Turning a blind eye once again, the league has clearly lost its resolve regarding headshots.

Kamal's Note: The fact that Cole was not suspended speaks to inconsistency from the league. It is sad that before the hearing no one had any idea if he's be suspended because the league has failed to hold the line.

That said, this hit was similar, if less vicious, than the Ryan Malone hit on Chris Campoli earlier in the year (Malone was not suspended). So while I agree with Louis that BOTH hits should have been suspendable, at least there is consistency between those two decisions.

La Presse - Un homme déçu bien plus qu'en colère

La Presse - Patrick Roy prêt à écouter si le Canadien lui fait une offre

Louis' Note: So many people, including Bertrand Raymond, seem to think Roy is the only logical choice to be the next Habs coach. Do you think Roy is next in line?

Sports Illustrated - What Doomed Jacques Martin in Montreal?

TSN - With new Anglo coach, Canadiens strike a nerve in Quebec

Louis' Note: The whole language issue is silly. That is all I will say for now, I will write a proper piece addressing the issue this week.

Hockey News

Faceoff.com - Not Always Go Time

Spector's Hockey - Latest on the Canadiens and Hurricanes

Spector's Hockey - Morning Coffee Headlines

TSN - Sutter agrees to become Kings' next head coach

Louis' Note: This is old news, but I put it there just to comment. Seriously? Sutter? After setting the Flames back with his poor management decisions and his underwhelming playoff record, I can't help but question the logic of this move. Don't you?

TSN - Numbers Game: Senators get Turris for Rundblad, pick

Louis' Note: A top prospect and a second round pick for a pouting hold out who never had more than 35 points? A lot of people here in Ottawa (where I physically reside) are not too pleased with this move, especially considering Runblad's apparent high potential. For having seen Runblad play, I agree with their dismay.


(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)