Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sens Trounce Habs, P.K. Meets With Therrien, More...

Good Morning HabsAddicts!!!

In a less than stellar effort last night, the Montreal Canadiens went into ScotiaBank Place in Ottawa and were thoroughly trounced by the Senators by a score of 5-1, ending the team's four-game winning streak.

Although the Sens were without Jason Spezza and Sergei Gonchar, they managed to take advantage of the Canadiens' lack of discipline, and had an edge in blocked shots, hits and faceoffs. Backup goaltender Peter Budaj got his first game action of the season and stopped 27 of 32 shots he faced.

Once again, David Desharnais and Erik Cole seemed a step behind everyone else, showing an inability to get off shots in quality scoring situations and making any kind of offensive contribution. The lack of offense from Desharnais in the first six games of the season has prompted many to ask that he be given a wake-up call, and sat in the press box for at least a game this weekend.

Super Bowl weekend has the Habs playing back-to-back afternoon games against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, and a rematch against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. These two game hold particular importance, since the Canadiens are 0-2 versus the Northeast division so far this year.

Habs and Hockey News and Notes:

- After last night's loss, Montreal Hockey Talk was as energetic as ever, as host Corey Collard discussed the night's action with Steven Hindle of HockeyBuzz and the incomparable JD, as he made his return to WSMN's airwaves.

- P.K. Subban met with head coach Michel Therrien early Wednesday morning, after the Canadiens arrived in the Nation's capital for the tail end of a back-to-back against the Ottawa Senators. He also met the media for the first since signing his new two-year, $5.75 Million contract on Monday.



- Brian Wilde gives us his opinion of the new look and attitude of Michel Therrien in his latest installment of Habs Fever for CTV Montreal.

Photo:  Wayne Cuddington , Postmedia News

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Grand Theft Subban

Habs fans rejoice as the organization announced yesterday evening they had re-signed restricted free agent (RFA) P.K. Subban to a two-year deal worth $2 million in year 1 (prorated) and $3.75 million in year 2 for an average annual value (AAV) of $2.875 million. The flashy defenseman finally caved in and accepted a short-term deal after asking for a multi-year contract since he became a RFA last July. Marc Bergevin’s first real test as the team’s new general manager prove that he is ready to rise to the challenge and face the music in a demanding Montreal market.

Subban, who was looking for a contract similar to the five-year contract worth $26.25 million signed by RFA Jamie Benn with the Dallas Stars, settled for a shorter term in order to play this season. To alleviate Subban’s “pain”, Bergevin gave him a nice salary increase in the second year of this bridge contract. This agreement is pretty similar to the two-year pact that Michael Del Zotto signed with the New York Rangers two weeks ago for which MDZ will earn $2.2 million in year 1 and $2.9 million in year 2 for an AAV of $2.55 million compared to Subban’s AAV of $2.875 million.

The Canadiens have a reputation to sign they star players to transition contracts before signing them long term contrary to other teams such as the Flyers and the Oilers who are adept at throwing a pile of money at their star players to retain their services for ages. Max Pacioretty and Carey Price signed two-year deals before hitting the jackpot, both agreeing to six-year pacts worth $27 million and $39 million, respectively.

“I’m happy to be at this point and I’m looking forward to reintegrating with the team and helping them win,” Subban said on a conference call. “It was about getting a deal done that was fair to both sides.”

Now that Subban is under contract at a very affordable price, he needs to regain his teammates’ respect and trust after missing training camp and the first few games of the season. The 23 year-old rearguard is slated to rejoin the Canadiens on Wednesday and is expected to make his season debut when Montreal hosts the Buffalo Sabres at Bell Centre.

After Subban’s signing and Scott Gomez's buy-out, the Canadiens now have $3,314,041 under the salary cap to make a transaction before the trade deadline should Bergevin believes the team needs help in anticipation of the playoffs.

“I really didn’t want to become a distraction and I think that’s why this is the right thing,” Subban added. “The longer this went on, the bigger a distraction it became.”

With Subban under contract, the team now has eight defensemen on a one-way deal, which likely means one of them is on his way out, the most likely candidates being Tomas Kaberle and Yannick Weber, who both have been healthy scratch so far this season. Look for the “Subbanator” to draw into the line-up as soon as he has practised with the team and slide alongside last year’s defensive partner Josh Gorges on the Habs’ first defensive pairing.

Defensive pairings with Subban in the line-up:

Josh Gorges – P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov – Alexei Emelin
Francis Bouillon - Raphael Diaz
Extras: Tomas Kaberle and Yannick Weber

It is now time for PK to perform on the ice and to silence his critics off the ice, and it will be in his best interest to do exactly that in order to land the lucrative contract he is expecting to get from the Habs after the 2013-14 season. Subban will still be two years away from unrestricted free agency after the completion of this two-year contract, so the Canadiens must give him a qualifying offer of $3.75 million to keep his rights in 2014 when he will be 25 years old.

With the Canadiens off to a good 4-1 start this season and following the announcement that both rookies, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, will remain in Montreal this season, there is optimism in the air among Habs fans regarding the NHL shortened season and most of them fairly believe that their favorite team can improve and blossom under the tutelage of new head coach Michael Therrien. Some even believe the team will make it to the spring dance and have an interesting playoff run.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Habs Best Devils in OT, The Gallys Are Staying, More...

Hey there, HabsAddicts!!!

Our Montreal Canadiens squeaked out a 4-3 overtime victory last night against the previously undefeated New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre.

Brendan Gallagher and Brandon Prust both scored their first tallies in a Habs' uniform, while Alex Galchenyuk had two helpers and Andrei Markov scored the overtime winner.

Little could be said about the performance of Carey Price once again, as he outplayed his counterpart , Martin Brodeur. However, with the Canadiens playing four games in six days, some expect Peter Budaj to make his season debut on Tuesday.

Many were concerned that the absence of Max Pacioretty would be a weakness for "Les Glorieux", but Lars Eller did an admirable job in his absence. Much maligned left winger Rene Bourque continue to play solid hockey with another excellent effort, silencing many of the naysayers who want him to bought out at season's end.

On the Devils' side of the ledger, Patrick Elias has a goal and two assists to lead the boys from Newark, while Ilya Kovalchuk had but a single assist on the night.

Next up are the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night, who are coming off another win against the New York Islanders 5-4 in overtime. Evander "Show Me The Benjamins" Kane, Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom lead the Jets in scoring with six points respectively. Expect Ondrej Pavelec to be between the pipes for Winnipeg.

Habs and Hockey News and Notes:

- Jimmy Murphy of ESPN Boston joined host Corey Collard and Jay Ferrar on the Montreal Hockey Talk's post-game show. MHT is also giving away a pair of tickets to the game on Super Bowl Sunday at 2 PM versus the Ottawa Senators, courtesy of HockeyTickets.ca. Simply follow @mtlhockeytalk and send a message with the hashtag #HabsGiveAway to enter. The drawing will take place during the Pre-Game Show on Saturday at 1 PM, hosted by Steven Hindle.

- Today, Canadiens GM Marc Bergavin and head coach Michel Therrien advised both Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher that they will be remaining with the Habs for the remainder of the season. Galchenyuk is expected to live with his mother and sister in their apartment in Montreal, while Gallagher has been told he'll be living with Josh Gorges for the foreseeable future.

- Andrei Markov took a therapy day on Monday. With the tight schedule this week, the break will do him some good. Markov leads the Canadiens in goals with four on the season.

Photo: Graham Hughes/Canadian Press


Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Emergence Of Raphael Diaz


Who would have thought that after three games, the Montreal Canadiens’ leading scorer would be sophomore defenseman Raphael Diaz? That’s right, nobody!
Raphael Diaz
Raphael Diaz is the Habs’ leading scorer with 5 points (Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)
Diaz is currently leading the team in scoring with five points (five assists), three of which came with the man advantage. He also has eight blocked shots and a +1 plus/minus rating in three contests so far. The native of Baar, Switzerland, who turned 27 on January 9th, has been dynamic at the point on the power play, feeding great passes to a healthy and confident Andrei Markov who leads the team with three goals, all on the man advantage.
The right-handed rearguard is the player who has benefited the most from P.K. Subban’s absencedue to a contract stalemate with new Canadiens’GM Marc Bergevin and after playing only 14:49 minutes in the home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Diaz played 18:06 minutes Tuesday against the Florida Panthers and 20:28 minutes yesterday against the uninspired Washington Capitals.
This increase in ice time shows that new head coach Michel Therrien is getting to know Diaz and has decided to rely more on him at the expense of veteran Tomas Kaberle, who is now relegated to the second power play unit and plays under 15 minutes per game on average.
The 5’11”, 195-lb blue liner made his NHL debut last season after playing several years for EV Zug of the Swiss A League. The Canadiens have a knack for finding untapped talent in this league after drafting Mark Streit in the 9th round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and Yannick Weber in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft. Diaz signed with the Habs as a free agent in May 2011 to finally make the jump from his homeland.
During his rookie campaign, Diaz managed to record 3 goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 59 games after being made a healthy scratch on more than one occasion. Now he is back in Montreal with more confidence and experience after playing 32 games in Switzerland during the unnecessary NHL lockout. In Europe, Diaz notched 7 goals and added 22 assists for 29 points during his stay with his former team. He was the fourth-leading scorer on his club when he came back to North America. NHL all-star Henrik Zetterberg, fellow countryman Damian Brunner and inconsistent, but talented, Linus Omark all played with him in EV Zug.
Raphael Diaz – Just Play (in German)
Back with the Habs, Diaz is currently paired with gritty veteran Francis Bouillon, who’s physical and sound defensive play has allowed Diaz to make solid passes and jump into the attack on numerous occasions. Averaging 4:40 minutes per game on the power play, second only to Markov’s 5:08 minutes, Diaz is taking full advantage of Subban’s absence by contributing to the team’s rejuvenated power play, which is currently clicking at a 29.4% rate (5 for 17) through three games. The same power play that finished 28th in the league last year, and produced at a dismal 14.3% rate!
With improving skating and decision making, Diaz has been able to make the key plays in his own zone, whether clearing the puck along the boards or finding his wingers for a quick transition out of the Habs’ defensive zone. As a result of a tight defensive system under Michel Therrien, the Canadiens have only allowed one even-strength goal this season.
So who sits when/if PK Subban re-signs with the Canadiens in the near future?
The defensive pairings are currently the following:
A. Markov-A. Emelin
F. Bouillon-R. Diaz
T. Kaberle-J. Gorges
Extra: Y. Weber
My bet is that Kaberle is the odd man out especially since Subban was Gorges’ defensive partner last season. Kaberle is currently the team’s sixth defenseman and with Subban in the line-up, his presence becomes moot as both Markov and Diaz are manning the point on the team’s first power play unit. Subban would simply slide along Frankie “the Cube” Bouillon on the second unit and get ice time on the penalty kill as well.
As for fellow countryman Yannick Weber, he is the team’s insurance policy until Subban returns, but when he does, look for Marc Bergevin to trade Weber to a desperate team in dire need of defensive help. Hello Detroit!
Buenos Dia(z)!

Pacioretty Out 3-4 Weeks, Subban Stalemate And More...

Good Morning Addicts!
Well I hope all you Habs fans out there have enjoyed to spoils of two straight victories because the good news never stays good for too long in Montreal.

On Friday I wrote that people should just relax over the whole Subban situation. I confidently stated that a deal would get done in the near future and that the Habs would not trade him. I'm not about to retract per say, but I must admit I am no longer as confident.

If online reports are accurate that the Canadiens are standing firm on their two year offer worth $5-$5.1M then it's not hard to understand why there hasn't been any resolve to the dispute as of yet.

Personally I think the Habs should offer somewhere around  $3.5-$4M over the two years. I can't imagine Subban would turn that down. It's also reported that Subban is looking for a contract closer to $5M per year over five years. I'm not sure I would hesitate to give him that If I were GM.

There are quite a few takes on the Subban situation in today's links and so I'll move on to more bad news.

Last night, Habs forwards Max Pacioretty underwent an emergency appendectomy and will be sidelined for three to four weeks.

Pacioretty's absence all but guarantee's that Alex Galchenyuk will remain with the team for the season. It's popular opinion online that Gally be slated on the top line along with David Desharnais and Erik Cole.

TSN reported yesterday however that Lars Eller would be filling the void on the team's top unit. I agree with that move and look forward to seeing Eller get the chance to play consistantly with capable linemates.

Eller will get his first shot on the first line tonight at 6:00pm as the Canadiens host the New Jersey Devils.

Gally will still recieve over ten minutes of ice time per game, including oppurtunites on the powerplay, and will not yet face the pressure of performing on the top line.

Habs And Hockey News

- Bruce Peter of Habs Eyes On The Prize takes a detailed look on whether or not P.K. Subban is worth $6M?

- TFP offers a few scenarios that may present themselves as this Subban stalemate continues.

- Fred Poulin (@FredPoulin98) takes a look at the emergence of Raphael Diaz.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Markov/Gionta & Co. show Promise, Should Bergevin Trade Subban? And More...

Good Morning Addicts!

I have to say that waking up on a Saturday knowing the Habs aren't playing just doesn't feel right. However after missing three months of NHL action I'll take what I can get.

The Habs are coming off of two straight victories and will face the red hot Devils tomorrow evening at 6:00 pm. Goaltender Martin Brodeur has been stellar for the Devils so far and a shortened season will only play to his advantage.

Older players will no doubt use the extra rest provided by the lockout to their advantage. Jaromir Jagr of the Dallas Stars and Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks each have four points in four games played and Saku Koivu also of the Ducks has five points in four contests.

On the Habs, captian Brian Gionta is already benefitting from the time off with two goals and an assist in the teams opening three games. Granted he isn't quite as old as the players mentioned but his 34 years of age mixed with his 51 games missed due to injury last season should definately put him in the group of veterans who will benefit from the 48 game schedule.

Then there is Andrei Markov. Also 34, Markov has played in only 65 games since 2009 and was said to be finished by many fans and pundits around the league. In his first three games Markov has scored three goals and added one helper, all on the power play, and has given the team some hope.

In the teams opening three tilts, Andrei Markov's play is just one of many signs of promise this city needs after such a dismal 2010-12 season.

Habs And Hockey News

- With Marc Bergevin and P.K.Subban still unable to reach an agreement, there is tons of talk about the possibility of trading the young defenseman. Fred Poulin (@FredPoulin98) explores that option here.

- The city seems torn right now over whether to love or hate Subban. With so many calling for him to be shipped away, Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) asks "Why do Habs fans eat their own?".

- Jacob Saltiel (@JacobSaltiel) takes a look at some of the new rules being enforced in the 2013 season.

- And finally, if you haven't yet seen the video of Habs' Alex Galchenyuk being told by Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien that he's made the team, it's worth taking a look.


(photo from andrewshabs.blogspot.com)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Habs Show Signs Of Promise Early On

Some Quick Habs Notes

Three down, forty five to go. The Habs followed up last Saturday's disappointing opener with two solid performances against the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals.

With two 4-1 victories, the Habs displayed some promise that was seldom showed, if at all, last season.

Through all the excitement that comes with the Habs posting two straight victories, it's easy to look past the fact that they didn't face the toughest competition. Florida has a handful of mediocre players but lacks a top line star. Yes, I'm aware of Jonathan Huberdeau but he has not yet played himself into that category.

Washington has the likes of Alexander Ovechin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green but their play has declined over the years and their 0-2 record heading into Thursday's match up can vouch for that statement.

I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade here, in a 48 game season every single point is crucial and so those were both big wins. I'm simply waiting to see how the Canadiens fare against tougher teams like the Penguins, Bruins and Rangers before I take a day off work for any type of parade.

Regardless of who they played, there are a few things that stood out over the past three games that even the most realistic/patient fans can't ignore.

Andrei Markov

Remember this guy? After putting up three goals and one assist -all on the powerplay - in his last two games the only thing Montrealers will be forgetting is any inkling of doubt they had that he was done.

Markov has lead the team in ice time in all three games this year and has shown no weakness at any end of the ice. His hockey sense is out of this world and his return has single handedly fixed the teams power play.

The Habs currently sit in eighth with the extra man executing a 29.4% success rate. With Markov manning the power play I would be surprised if the Canadiens found themselves outside the top ten at any point this season.

And with five points in the first three game, how good does this Raphael Diaz Character look?
Carey Price

For a goalie who chose not too play abroad during the lockout, Price hasn't looked out of place at all. In each of the Habs first three games, Price has made big saves, been playing with op level awareness and hasn't been caught out of position.

heading into Sunday's game against the New Jersey Devils, Price sits in fourth place among goalies with a GAA of 1.34 and third place with a .953 sv%.

Tomas Plekanec

Plekanec played for his hometown Kladno in the Czech Republic over the lockout and has shown no rust, scoring twice and adding one helper so far this season. It helps that Brian Gionta (2 g, 1a) is back in game shape and Rene Bourque (1 a) is playing with more gusto than he showed after joining the team halfway through last season.

What will more than likely help Plekanec the most this season will be the additions of Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong on the penalty kill unit.

After averaging 20:49 minutes of ice time per game last season, Plekanec has seen an average of 18:39 minutes so far in 2013. The difference is in the penalty kill giving the second line center more time to focus on even strength and powerplay performance.

Alex Galchenyuk

After three games, Galchenyuk doens not look at all out of place. I was at the game against the Panthers and his goal gave the building a playoff type atmosphere. The entire Bell Center gave the first 18 year old to play for the Habs since Petr Svoboda in 1984 a standing ovatioan and when his goal was announced the PA was drowned out by the crowd. When trying to describe that moment the word 'magical' jumps to mind.

As much as it would be great to watch Gally play the year in Montreal, you can't help but wonder whether or not it's worth it to burn a year of his contract on a 48 game season.

Speaking of Gally's, how about this Brendan Gallagher? Gallagher has been quite impressive on a line with Galchenyul and Brandon Prust. This kid doesn't give up on a play and shows a tremendous amount of heart on every shift. He's not going to make it easy for Michel Therrien to take him out of the line-up.

P.K. Subban

I won't spend much time on the whole Subban situation because quite honestly I'm already tired of it. I will say this however, Subban is incredibly talented and still young. Over the last two years his defensive game has improved drastically. It's hard to come across solid d-men these days let alone ones with talent at both ends of the ice.

That being said, he won't be traded. To be honest I'm surprised that the thought of trading him has been tossed around as easily as it has been over the past few days.

I would be surprised if we play three to five more games without him.

Lastly, it's encouraging to see that Joey Crabb's goal scored against Price with under three minutes to go in Thursday's victory over the Capitals was the first time the Canadiens have been scored on at even strength this year.

---

Sean is a freelance writer currently contributing to HabsAddict.com. He is also a regular blogger and frequent panelist on the Habs post game show at MontrealHockeyTalk.com
You can follow Sean on Twitter @SeanLloyd93

Will Marc Bergevin Trade PK Subban?


Two games into the 2013 NHL season, the stalemate between the P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadienscarries on. The negotiation between the parties has been a deadlock from the start for new general manager Marc Bergevin as Subban is looking for a long-term deal with big dollars, whereas the Bleu Blanc Rouge wants a short term pact with smaller dollars.  As a result, the controversial defenseman is still in Toronto away from the team and awaiting to finally sign his second NHL contract with the team that drafted him 43rd overall in the  2007 NHL Entry Draft.
PK Subban
PK Subban is still without a contract (Eric Bolte-US PRESSWIRE)
With the improved play of Raphael Diaz and a healthy Andrei Markov, the team is in no hurry to re-sign the 23-year-old defenseman to a long-term deal that the organization might regret later. Consequently, rumours are swirling in social media circles that the Habs would be better off trading Subban to a team in dire need of a young and talented defenseman in exchange for the big forward the team has been lacking for years.
Will Marc Bergevin have the guts to trade P.K. Subban or will he be patient and sign Subban under his own terms?
Circumstances have changed since last summer, as both parties don’t want to budge on their initial position, and should the Canadiens lose a few games in a row, the pressure of the Montreal media and fans might force him to make a move sooner rather than later. As we all know, Subban is a unique talent, and is part of a very select group of NHL defencemen when you take into account his dynamic offensive skills, his excellent puck-handling and skating abilities.
Subban told the Montreal media that he wants to sign a fair deal and that he is not looking for a humongous deal similar to Drew Doughty’s eight-year deal worth $56 million that he signed prior to last season. The question still remains, how much money is Subban really worth?
Comparable defensemen who recently signed long-term deals:
Cam Fowler, 21, Anaheim Ducks: 2011-12 stats: 5 goals and 24 assists for 29 points in 82 games -> five-year contract with an average value of $4 million
Tyler Myers, 22, Buffalo Sabres: 2011-12 stats: 8 goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 55 games -> seven-year contract with an average value of $5.5 million
Erik Johnson, 24, Colorado Avalanche: 2011-12 stats: 4 goals and 22 assists for 26 points in 73 games -> four-year contract with an average value of $3.75 million
Erik Karlsson, 22, Ottawa Senators: 2011-12 stats: 19 goals and 59 assists for 78 points in 81 games -> seven-year contract with an average value of $6.5 million
Victor Hedman, 22, Tampa Bay Lightning: 2011-12 stats: 5 goals and 18 assists for 23 points in 61 games -> five-year contract with an average value of $4 million
John Carlson, 22, Washington Capitals: 2011-12 stats: 9 goals and 23 assists for 32 points in 82 games -> six-year contract with an average value of $3.96 million
SOURCE: CAP GEEK

The problem with trading Subban is that you have to make sure you receive enough talent to justify not giving him a long-term pact, such as a young power forward like Bobby Ryan or a good young offensive defenseman like Jamie McBain. Bergevin will have to deal with the media and fans’ scrutiny in the upcoming weeks as he ponders what to do with his prized defenseman. This will definitely be the biggest decision of his short tenure as the team’s general manager, a decision that will be much more difficult than buying out the contract of under-performing center Scott Gomez.
The other problem Bergevin is facing is that another GM might decide to send a lucrative offer sheet to Subban, an offer that Subban would likely accept. As a result, Bergevin would be faced with an even tougher decision and decide to match the offer sheet or simply let Subban go and accept the draft picks as a compensation.
Bergevin also has to consider his cap landscape a few years down the road, when he will have to renegotiate with impending restricted free agents Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu, and Louis Leblanc, among others.
Getting rid of Gomez’s contract off the salary cap and the fact that the team currently carries seven healthy defensemen on a one-way deal (Kaberle, Markov, Diaz, Bouillon, Emelin, Gorges and Weber) mean the organization can be patient and wait for Subban’s agent, Don Meehan, to make the first move and accept a shorter term or a less expensive contract.
Personally, I believe the Canadiens must re-sign Subban long term despite his off-ice antics and his propensity to turn the puck over, as this kind of generational talent does not come often. Pundits will say Subban’s peculiar personality and egocentric persona don’t fit with the current roster and the vision of this centennial organisation, but let’s be honest, who will compensate Subban’s absence on the blue line? Nathan Beaulieu is still a project, Andrei Markov is one bad movement away from a career-ending injury and Raphael Diaz only has one season under his belt.
Several NHL teams are looking for help on defense, most notably the Detroit Red Wings, the New York Islanders, the San Jose Sharks, the Ottawa Senators, the Edmonton Oilers, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Dallas Stars and the Philadelphia Flyers.
The return for Subban would most likely be a power forward, a young and talented defenseman and a draft pick.
Hockey fans, what is your team’s best offer for the “Subbanator”?

Habs Top Capitals, More Subban News, More...

T.G.I.F. HabsAddicts!!!

The Habs kept rolling along, going into Washington and beating the Capitals 4-1. The Canadiens scored early in the second period and never looked back.

Washington looked totally out of sorts, rarely generating any speed through the neutral zone and creating very few scoring chances. Capitals' captain Alex Ovechkin had only three quality shots on goal. Carey Price was solid once again in the Montreal goal, only allowing a single shot to be him off the stick of Joey Crabb with 2:23 left to play. Price stopped 30 of 31 shots he faced.

Offence from the back-end was once again front and centre, as both Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges beat Washington netminder Michal Neuwirth. Markov now leads the Habs with three goals on the season, while Raphael Diaz , who added two assists on the night, leads the team in points with five.

Habs and Hockey News and Notes;

- Jimmy Murphy had some news about the P.K. Subban contract impass, and he joined Corey Collard, Dave Kellerman and Kamal Panesar on Montreal Hockey Talk to discuss it.

- The Edmonton Oilers found a way to squeak out a 2-1 overtime win against the L.A. Kings, as Nail Yakupov scored with only five seconds left in regulation, and Sam Gagner scored his first of the season in overtime. The highlight of the night was the celebration by Yakupov after scoring the tying goal.



- Jamie Benn finally signed a five-year, $26.25 Million contract ($5.25 Million AAV). According to sources, the Stars had made this initial offer weeks ago, but Benn's agent, Rich Evans, never advised his client that this offer was tabled by Dallas.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Subban Update, Eller Takes It Like A Man, More...

Good Morning HabsAddicts!!!!

The Twitterverse was abuzz yesterday after TSN Insider Bob McKenzie joined the Morning Show on TSN 690 Montreal, claiming that the Canadiens may be looking into trading RFA defenseman P.K. Subban, should a contract impasse continue.

The fact of the matter is Habs' GM Marc Bergavin has claimed publicly that he has every intention of resigning the budding superstar, and NOT trading him. Rumours and speculation are part of the everyday business of sports, but this is beginning to border on the ridiculous.

What exactly do people think would be an equitable return for Subban? Certainly, if a team signs him to an offer sheet and the Habs don't match, three first-round draft picks wouldn't nearly cover the value P.K. brings to the Canadiens' lineup.

Some have suggest perhaps trading him to the Anaheim Ducks for Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf or Bobby Ryan. How irresponsible would Marc Bergavin be if he traded a restricted free agent for a player, as in the case of Perry and Getzlaf, are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents come year's end? Further to that, not getting back a high defensive prospect in return for Subban would be a mistake as well.

The ball is in the Canadiens' court right now. Subban, without right to arbitration, can only wait and see what the team decides he will do this season. If the negotiations continue to stall, and the team has success, it may be a longtime before Subban gets to count a fresh set of Benjamins.

Here is Dave Stubbs' piece on the Subban situation from the Montreal Gazette.

Habs and Hockey News and Notes:

Remember to tune into MontrealHockeyTalk.com tonight at 6 PM for the Pre-Game Show with Steven Hindle, Rob Elbaz & Bobby Dollas, and join Corey Collard and a cast of characters for the best Habs Post-Game Show 5 minutes after the game. Also available on the TuneIn Radio app for smartphones.

- Lars Eller took his lumps like a man. While speaking to the press yesterday, the Danish centre said he needed to earn his spot in the line-up, and do what was asked of him by Habs' Head Coach Michel Therrien. He also admitted that being told what he was expected to do by the coaching staff was a refreshing change from the previous regime.

- Leafs' forward Joffrey Lupul broke his forearm during last night's game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the injury, speculation of his emminent departure to Vancouver as part of a deal between Toronto and the Canucks is pushed aside. Kessel anyone?

- The New York Rangers, who most have picked to come out of the Eastern Conference and compete for the Stanley Cup, finally earned their first victory of the season defeating the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime.. Marian Gaborik, who was lined up with Rick Nash and Brad Richards, scored a hat trick that included the overtime winner.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Habs Declaw Panthers, Kovy Returns, More...

Happy Hump Day HabsAddicts!!!

Our beloved Habs, fresh off a lacklustre performance on Saturday against the Leafs, brought their A game last night, beating the Florida Panthers 4-1. The Canadiens were led by Andrei Markov, who scored two power play goals, his first tallies in over two years.

Rookie centre Alex Galchenyuk, who centered the Habs' third line alongside Brandon Prust and Brendan Gallagher, scored his first career NHL goal. Gallagher tallied his first career point on the play.

Many were questioning the removal of Lars Eller from the lineup, but Galchenyuk's performance, which earned him the first star of the game, brought the capacity crowd to its feet and quickly silenced the naysayers. It was obvious through his performance that the Canadiens' 2012 third-round pick was right at home playing the centre position.

The team's character was also in evidence when Ryan White threw a couple of punches at the Panthers' Thomas Fleischman after he hit Josh Gorges from behind. While the altercation earned White an instigator penalty and ejection, no one criticized that fourth liners for coming to the defence of one of his teammates.

Kevin Dineen, the head coach of the Panthers, started Scott Clemmenson in goal versus the Canadiens. Coming into the game, Clemmenson boast a flawless 6-0 career record versus "Les Glorieux."

The Canadiens are next in action on Thursday night, as they travel to Washington to take on Alex Ovechkin and the still winless Capitals.

Habs and Hockey News and Notes:

- Tune in to the podcast of the post-game show on MontrealHockeyTalk.com, as host Corey Collard, Matt Casavant, Jay Ferrar and our own Kamal Panesar analyze the Canadiens' victory, and it possible implications in the P.K. Subban negociations.

- Dave Stubbs visits with former Hab and current Florida Panthers' winger Alex Kovalev to discuss his return to Montreal. 

- With Vancouver GM Mike Gillis' comments yesterday about a possible deal being close for trading goaltender Roberto Luongo, rumbling out of Toronto suggest that the "additional player" in the deal may be either Joffrey Lupul, who just signed a five-year extension with the Leafs, or Phil Kessel, who has lost favour with head coach Randy Carlyle.

- While we already knew sports merchandise sales were down during the NHL lockout, SportsPosterWarehouse.com posted some interesting stats in regards to how overall poster sales were affected. Hopefully, business is about to pick up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Subban Saga Continues, Prust' 1st Taste,More...

Good Morning HabsAddicts!!!

Everyone at HabsAddict.com and WebSports Media Network was saddened by the passing of broadcasting legend Richard Garneau this weekend. A veteran of 23 Olympics and former host of La Soirée du Hockey, Mr. Garneau was considered the Jean Beliveau of broadcasting.

With the Canadiens' loss to the hated Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, the calls to sign P.K. Subban have intensified. The lack of offensive push by the Habs has fans worried, even if it's only just one game.

Original reports suggested the Canadiens were unwilling to give Subban a long term deal, and the dollar amounts he was asking for. The Habs were willing to give him a 3-year, $10.5 Million ($3.5 Million AAV) contract, while indications were that Subban's agent was looking for a 5-year, $27.5 Million ($5.5 Million AAV).

Now, reports indicate that Canadiens' GM Marc Bergavin is willing to give the Subban camp a 6-year deal, worth $24 Million ($4 Million AAV). Others are saying that Subban is willing to sign for less term, but more money annually.

Coming of a four month work stoppage, and the posturing from both sides associated to it, HabsNation isn't in the mood to hear the back and forth between the Habs and Subban. They just want a deal to get done and move on. There was enough greed to go around during the lockout, we don't need anymore.

Habs and Hockey News and Notes:

- Brendan Prust, one of the newest members of the Canadiens, sat down with the Gazette's Dave Stubbs to discuss his first weekend with the Habs, and the experiences that came with it.

-Rob Elbaz of Montreal Hockey Talk.com takes a look at tonight's tilt between the Habs and Alex Kovalev and the Florida Panthers.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Habs Drop Opener To Leafs, Gomez A Shark?, Schneider/Luongo Controversy And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


Carey Price was one of the few bright spots in last night's loss
 Well hockey is back but it seem the Habs didn't get the memo. In losing 2-1 in their home opener against the Maple Leafs it seemed quite evident that it will take some time to adapt to Therrien's system.

There was a lot of negativity online following the game but it's important for everyone to remember that it was just one game. Understandably each game carries a ton of importance due to the shortened season but if it makes anybody feel better the Red Wings got trounced, the Blue Jackets won and the defending champion Kings looked nothing like they did when they lost only four games while on their way to winning the cup.

The Canadiens had a handful of players play overseas during the lockout but as ESPN's Pierre LeBrun points out, it was the Toronto Marlies graduates who appeared more fresh while leading their team to their first two points.

For those optimists out there, there were a few positives you could pick out of las night's loss if you tried. For one, it didn't seem too obvious that goaltender Carey Price hasn't played since last year. Price played well enough to give his team a chance to win had they provided any offense at all.

Andrei Markov finished the game healthy. Not only that but he lead the team in minutes with 24:08 minutes. Not one player on the Habs finished with a faceoff percentage lower than 50%. That is an area that has hurt the Habs since Yannick Perreault left the team and will play a huge part in their success or lack thereof.

The Canadiens play next on Tuesday when they host Alex Kovalev and the Florida Panthers. Kovalev enjoyed his debut with the Panthers scoring his first goal of the season and adding two assists.

Habs And Hockey News

- It seems Scott Gomez may be a Shark sooner rather than later. Gomez is set to meet with the Sharks this week. I'm not going to lie, I wish him the best!

- Keep your eyes on Vancouver if you enjoy a good goalie controversy. In his first game as the Canuck's starter, Corey Schneider lasted only 26:37 before being replaced by Roberto Luongo.

- Richard Garneau who hosted La Soiree du Hockey as well as covered the Olympics for Radio Canada passed away this morning at the age of 82.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Game day, Galchenyuk's Debut, Markov's Return, Northeast Preview And More...

Good Morning Habs Addicts!


Habs' P.K Subban will watch tonight's opener from
his home in Toronto.
Happy game day!
It may be three months late but the day we've been waiting for since the end of the disaster that was the 2011-12 season has come.

What better way to put an end to fans' NHL withdrawal than with a game against the Leafs? Although honestly the Habs could be up against the Blue Jackets and the city would still be counting down every last second leading up to the drop of the puck.

Tonight marks the first time Habs fans will have the chance to see top prospect Alex Galchenyuk in action. Gally looked good in Thursday night's scrimmage the team put on for the Habs and will now have the  oppurtunity to impress where it counts.

Coach Therrien had said that he wasn't originally expecting to have Gally on the opening night roster but the young Russ... American earned his spot in training camp. There is some debate on whether or not he will return to Sarnia after his five game trial but it's best for him and everyone involved to just take it game by game.

Joining Galchenyuk on the opening night roster is his roommate Brendan Gallagher whose path to the NHL hasn't been as straight forward as the number one pick in the 2012 draft.

Tomas Plekanec is expected to lace up after missing training camp due to a rib injury he suffered while playing in the Czech Republic. Lining up on either side of Plekanec will be Galchenyuk and captain Brian Gionta.

The center of attention leading up to this game however - and to nobody's surprise - is defenseman P.K. Subban. Still without a contract, the dynamic and animated Subban is said to want a longer term deal than GM Marc Bergevin is willing to dole out just yet.

Until he is signed, Subban has just become the latest distraction after the departure of Scott Gomez.

All that aside, the Habs will start their season against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 pm, enjoy the Game!, and don't forget to tune into the post game show at www.montrealhockeytalk.com five minutes after the final siren!

Go Habs Go!

Habs And Hockey News

- Jacob Saltiel (@JacobSaltiel) breaks down the Northeast Division heading into this shortened season.

- Andrei Markov's return will be focused on nearly as much as Galchenyuk's debut.

- With Canucks' blue liner Alex Edler inking a six year $30 million contract, what effect do you think that makes in the Subban/Bergevin talks?


(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Habs' Scrimmage Fun For All, Final Cuts Made, More..

T.G.I.F. HabsAddicts!!!!

On Thursday night, the Montreal Canadiens held an open scrimmage at the Bell Centre for fans to watch for free. The Habs also gave fans a complementary hot-dog, bag of chips and a soft drink.

Although many expected a capacity crowd and people to be turned away, the brisk January weather left 4000+ seats empty. Some say it's a way for the fans to show their displeasure because of the lockout, but that's just hogwash.

As the Canadiens got on the ice for a ten minute pre-game warmup, the fans stood and cheered their heroes. As the game began, there was renewed excitement in the air because NHL hockey was back, and this was the first, of what some assume to be many, promotions the Habs have in store for their faithful partisanship.

The game wasn't anything to write home about. After two 2- minute periods, the twine only bulged six times, as Max Pacioretty, Michael Bournival and Brendan Gallagher scored for Team White, while Rene Bourque scored on a beautiful backhand, and Tomas Kaberle wristed out on the power play for Team Red.

The 20-rounds shootout saw goals two goals aside but ended when Brandon Prust showed the fans how tired he was, by flipping the puck into goaltender Peter Budaj's mid-section and then pushing him into the net. Prust, a newcomer to the Habs, scored brownie points with the fans and his teammates with his antics.

Habs and Hockey News and Notes:

- Seven players were sent back to Hamilton this morning by the Canadiens, as they trim the fat to get to the league maximum 23-man roster for the beginning of the season. The players sent down were:
Louis Leblanc, Brendan Gallagher, Mike Commodore, Frederic St-Denis, Jarred Tinordi, Gabriel Dumont and Patrick Holland.

- Scott Gomez was officially bought out by the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, making him an unrestricted free agent. Some believe there won't be much interest in the 2-time Stanley Cup champ, but ESPN jumped the gun when they added Gomez's name to the New Jersey Devils roster on their website. Wishful thinking or stupidity? You decide.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gally Impresses, Gomez Issue Lingers, More...

Marie-France Coallier , GAZETTE

Good Morning HabsAddicts!!!!

Day 2 of the Montreal Canadiens camp was a showcase of rookie forward Alex Galchenyuk's skills. Not only did he beat Carey Price with a wrist shot that the goaltender is still looking for, but he absolutely undressed both Habs' goalies during a shootout contest.

In the press conference that followed, Canadiens' head coach Michel Therrien said he continues to be impressed by Galchenyuk's talent. Therrien explained that not only does the OHL's leading scorer have incredible skills, but he also has above-average vision on the ice, and a maturity beyond his years.

The Canadiens' open scrimmage on Thursday, January17th at the Bell Centre, which is open to the public on a first come, first serve basis, will be Galchenyuk's chance to prove his worth. While it is an inter-squad game, it will be his only chance to show Therrien what he is capable of in a game situation.

Therrien also showed some love to left-winger Rene Bourque, telling the media present that he was impressed by his work ethic so far. The coach reiterated that while he appreciates the effort so far, it will be up to him to make sure Bourque continue to work equitably night in, night out.

Habs and Hockey News and Notes:

Pierre-Paul Poulin/QMI Agency
- It seems the Scott Gomez saga isn't over just yet. The NHLPA has been in contact with the league in regards to the Habs' decision to send Gomez home with pay for the entire season. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the Canadiens consulted the league prior to making any sort of decision.

The Players' Association, while not accusing the Canadiens of any wrong doing, would like to find a more favourable solution to the situation, that would allow the former Calder Trophy winner to continue his career. The union is also discussing the same situation in regards to New York Rangers' defenseman Wade Redden.

Redden was playing in the AHL over the past two seasons, but with his salary counting against the cap because of changes to the new CBA, he is the same situation now as Gomez. The NHLPA is arguing that sitting out the players for an entire season would hinder their ability to secure employment with another NHL team next season, once they are bought out by their respective teams.

- Carey Price has an new way of looking at himself. Canadiens' goaltending coach Pierre Groulx has resorted to placing an iPad in the corner of the rink focusing on Price, allowing the Habs' #1 to take a quick look at himself to see what he can improve on. Price welcomes the idea, saying that as the position evolves, so do the teaching methods.

- For you fans who are so starved for hockey, the NHL announced today that the are selling their online GameCenter package for $49.99 for the entire season. For further details, go to NHL.com.

Photos:

Marie-France Coallier , GAZETTE


Monday, January 14, 2013

What Is P.K. Subban Really Worth?


By Coach K and Francois Dumais

Since the announcement of an agreement in principle between the NHL and the Players’ Association, Habs’ fans have had one thing on their minds:

How long before the Canadiens sign RFA defenseman P.K. Subban?

With the recent signing by the New York Rangers of Michael Del Zotto, who is represented by the same agent as Subban, Don Meehan, the comparables game has once again come front and centre. Del Zotto signed a two-year, $5.1 Million contract on January 13th, 2013.

There are many in the media who claim that Subban is using L.A. Kings’ defensive stalwart Drew Doughty, and his eight-year, $56 Million contract as a viable comparable. 

That leaves a huge gap between those comparables alone ($4,450,000 per season). However, numbers can’t define the importance of P.K. Subban alone.

With the announcement by Habs’ GM Marc Bergavin that he has no intention of trading P.K. Subban, it concretizes his importance in the future plans of the Canadiens. After all, Subban was on the ice an average of 39.7% of the time last season.

The Stats Don’t Lie

If you want to talk about comparables, you need only look at four of the NHL’s youngest defensemen. For the purposes of this article, we added John Carlson of the Washington Capitals to the mix, along with Del Zotto, Doughty and Subban.

Strictly from an offensive perspective, Subban finished behind our other examples in goals with seven, although he had 29 assists, giving him second behind Del Zotto. If he and his agent want to use Drew Doughty as a primary comparable, it doesn’t bode well for P.K. Over the past three seasons, he’s averaged 20 points less than the Kings’ D-man. That said, his points-per-game is mere 0.03 behind Doughty, due to Subban’s limited use in his first NHL season.

In overall ice-time, Subban (24:17 per game) is a mere 36 seconds on average behind Doughty (24:53 per game). Subban is second among our four defensemen in terms of TOI on the power play and penalty killing. Michael Del Zotto (PP) and John Carlson (PK) lead those respective categories.

Last 20 Games May Be Subban’s Best Case

Using a smaller sample size from last season, that being the last 20 games of their respective seasons, Subban takes the lead over our four other defensemen in goals, assists and points (4-9-13). Doughty and Del Zotto were behind him with three goals, six assists and nine points respectively.

While Del Zotto led our group on the power play with an average of 4:35 TOI (Time On Ice) per game, P.K. was right behind him in second with 3:39 TOI per game. On the penalty kill, while Doughty had a TOI per game of 2:00, Subban had a whopping 3:39 TOI per game. Overall, Subban led everyone in overall TOI per game with an average of almost 26 minutes.

Top 10 Among His Peers

If you look at Subban’s overall ranking among his NHL peers, he is ranked sixth from the top 50 defensemen in the league from an offensive perspective, with an overall score of 723. Only Zdeno Chara (BOS), Shea Weber (NSH), Kevin Shattenkirk (STL), Dan Boyle (SJS) and Alex Pietrangelo (STL) are ranked ahead of him. Doughty ranked 26th, while Del Zotto ranked 14th.

So What Does He Deserve To Be Paid?

If you look at our comparibles, there are solid arguments from both sides of the coin. The Rangers have a much stronger supporting cast on defense for Del Zotto than the Canadiens have for Subban. P.K.’s importance is just as high to the Habs as that of Doughty to the Kings.

If Subban and Don Meehan want to be fair to everyone, including themselves, then an average salary of $4.5 Million is a reasonable number, in our opinion, to ask for. As far as length of term is concerned, with the wealth of defensive prospects in the Canadiens’ organization, signing Subban for more than three years would be a colossal mistake.

Ultimately, it’s a question of organizational importance…for Subban. Does he want to be part of the refit of the league’s most storied franchise, or does he want to think of himself first? Compare what you will, only time will really tell.