Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Are Brian Gionta’s Best Days Long Gone?

Despite the Montreal Canadiens’ strong start this season, some players are struggling offensively for the Eastern Conference leaders. One of them is captain Brian Gionta. In 19 contests this season, the diminutive winger has only recorded 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 points despite playing on the team’s first line with Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque, as well as getting plenty of power play time.

Named the team captain prior to the 2010 season, Gionta brings leadership, an excellent work ethic and valuable experience to a young team. However, the native of Rochester, New York, has seen his offensive statistics decline over the past few seasons. After recording a 60-point season with the New Jersey Devils back in 2008-09, Gionta signed a five-year contract worth $25 million with the Canadiens as an unrestricted free agent.
Since his arrival, Gionta’s production has been on a steady decline, scoring at a .75 pace in 2009-10, at a .65 pace in 2010-11 and a 0.48 pace in an injury-riddled season in 2011-12. As you can see, the 34 year-old Gionta has not been really efficient and he has lost a step in the past two seasons. While some fans would argue that playing with Scott Gomez certainly did not help Gionta, the veteran is not producing more this season, even after Gomez’s departure.
Still, the former 48-goal scorer is a very underrated defensive players who is very adept at shutting down the opponent’s first line on a consistent basis. A very efficient penalty killer, Gionta boasts a very good defensive IQ and is very strong the back-check.
However, the offensive aspect on his game as faltered dramatically this season despite getting 18:43 minutes of ice time per game on average. Currently on a five-game pointless streak, Gionta has been whiffing on easy tap-ins and one-timers, and his shot has lost the power and accuracy that made him so god. Most of time, Gionta is aiming at the goalies’ chest, making it very easy for opposing netminders to freeze the puck and stop the attack.
gionta-powerplay
A proof that Gionta doesn’t take quality shots anymore: he has only scored 3 goals on 51 shots this season, for a mediocre 5.9% of efficiency (good for 375th in the NHL), while recording only one marker at even strength.
Gionta has been losing way too many battles along the boards, especially on the road, and has been holding the Habs’ first offensive line back because of his inability to recover and keep pucks near the slot. Gionta has also been atrocious on the man advantage, despite getting an average of 3:09 minutes of ice time per game.
The truth is that Gionta is no longer a top-six forward in this league and that Michel Therrien should reduce his ice time both at even strength and on the man advantage to give a chance to the more deserving players to produce offensively.
gionta-scoring
Gionta is second, only to Tomas Plekanec, in ice time per game among forwards, playing six more minutes per match than rookies Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, who both have more points than the team’s captain.
While Gionta is showing a great attitude, excellent work ethic, and commitment to his team and teammates, it is time for Therrien to reduce Gionta’s playing time in order to increase the role of more dynamic players such as Lars Eller and the two Gallys. Moreover, it would be hard for new GM Marc Bergevin to trade Gionta for three reasons:
- he is the team captain
- he has a no-trade clause
- he is still signed at $5 million/year for 2013-14
The best way to handle the situation would be to play Gionta around 15 minutes per game against lesser opposition and give him time on the second power play unit. Then, if his play doesn’t improve, Therrien might have to relegate him only to penalty kill duties and sporadic ice time on the team’s checking line.
With Rene Bourque out of to the line-up for an extended period due to a concussion (no he doesn’t have the flu), what should be the line combinations going forward as a Prust-Plekanec-Gionta line is not the solution offensively?
UPDATE: The Canadiens have traded F Erik Cole to the Dallas Stars in exchange for F Michael Ryder

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

WSMN Radiothon at McKibbon's Pub - March 3rd


 
McKibbon's Irish Pub, in conjuction with WebSports Media Network, is hosting thier annual Charity Irish Open Poker Tournament this Sunday, March 3rd, starting at 1 PM. Tickets are $60 ($75 at the door), and all proceeds from the event will go to benefit West Island Community Shares.
 
WSMN will also be hosting a twelve hour radiothon, starting at Noon from McKibbon's Pointe Claire location, on montrealhockeytalk.com. Starting with Ted Bird and The Week in Review, all the way through to our Pre and Post game shows.
 
Whether you are a poker player or not, come join in on the all the fun, and support a great cause 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why Brandon Prust Is Exactly What The Habs Needed

Greetings HabsAddicts!

I’m honoured that I’ve been given the opportunity to contribute here at HabsAddict.com and I look forward with providing you all with a view from afar.  I’m a transplanted Montrealer proudly representing the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge in evil Leafland!

I was struggling to figure out what to write about for my maiden post.  Its been a while since I blogged about sports. Heck, the last time I operated a Habs fan site was back in 2001. So I opted to discuss my favorite Marc Bergevin move (aside from drafting Galchenyuk): The signing of Brandon Prust. 

Bergevin realized his team needed to get tougher and he needed to improve his bottom six depth.  He went out and signed Prust to a four-yr/10 million dollar deal this summer.  On paper, looks pretty steep financial commitment to a guy who only contributed 17 points in 82 games and finished -1 while playing for the leagues second best team (New York Rangers).   The year before that, he had a solid season with 13 goals and 29 points in 82 games.  The most important number there to me is not the point totals. It’s the games played.  All 82 games, each of the last two years.  In fact, Prust has had only one significant injury his entire career: A broken jaw suffered in a fight in 2009/10 that caused him to miss 31 games.  For a team that was decimated by injuries last season, signing a durable contributor is money well spent in itself.  And we all know our other free agent signing, Colby Armstrong is always one hit away from missing two months of action.

But what’s endearing him to the fans in Montreal – and myself especially - is the intangibles that aren’t always measured in the point column.  From the start of the season, Michel Therrien employed Prust on the line with top pick Alex Galchenyuk and rookie Brendan Gallagher.  Prust is a keen penalty killer with good defensive instincts. He’s also very good a cycling the puck and going into the dirty areas to dig them out.  He can certainly hold his own playing with talented scorers. And when you have your 19 year old future star paired up with a 5’7” 20 year old, it’s nice to know other teams need to think twice about taking liberties with them. Hit them, you’re getting hit. Hard.  And aside from one cheap shot that knocked out Gallagher – which I fully expect will be avenged on April 3 – both Gallys have had a lot of space to work with on the ice. That confidence to drive fearlessly to the net and having it rewarded with early offensive success has certainly sparked their development.   Knowing rookies tend to make mistakes, especially defensively, having a solid back checker like Prust on their line has negated the effect of some of those mental lapses.  And to their credit, they all lead the team in +/- so far this season.  This is a role that Prust is no stranger to.  While playing for the London Knights in the OHL, he was regularly paired up with future Rocket Richard trophy winner Corey Perry on the team’s top line.  He was also responsible for shutting down Sidney Crosby when they matched up against the Oceanic during the 2005 Memorial Cup.

The biggest intangible that Prust brings to the team, in my opinion is character.  With the new regime trying to install a winning culture, going out and bringing in strong character players helps.  Prust is the type of player the Habs have been missing. Montreal has generally lacked the type of on-ice leader who is willing to sacrifice his body to block shots, stand up for teammates, kill penalties and be a voice in the locker room.  Josh Gorges has been that person but he has needed some help in that department the last couple of years. You can’t do it alone and now he doesn’t have to.  With a veteran presence capable of holding others accountable, he’s the perfect face for a team whose new motto is posted on the wall of the locker room: NO EXCUSES.

Prusty wasn’t a flashy signing. He’s not Zach Parise or Ryan Suter.  He’s not going to win a scoring title in his lifetime. He can help you win games, though.  Some argued at the time that the Habs overpaid for him.  From what I’ve seen from him on the ice so far this season, the Habs signed him for a discount.  He’s made quite an impression with me and after decades of following the Habs, I’m not easily impressed by much of anything anymore.  There’s two ways to ‘get tougher’.  One way is the Maple Leaf way: Plug in one-dimensional goons like Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren into your lineup and play them 5 minutes a game.  Or you can go out and employ solid, physical, defensive minded players who aren’t liabilities with the puck.  This is known as the smart way.  Prust certainly fits that latter mold. Oh, and he also tied for the league lead in fighting majors last season with 20.  So he can throw down with the best of them. I’ve never been a believer of having a five minute, fourth line of thugs. To me, its wasted depth. Prust filled a need and compliments it with usable skills.  After helping to beat his former team Saturday night for the second time in a week, maybe now Therrien can give him a new short-term challenge:  Help Eric Cole awaken from his season-long slumber.

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Habs/Rangers, CH Lacking Killer Instinct, Winning Culture And More...

Good Morning Addicts!

Brendan Gallagher is expected to be back in the line up after
missing three games with a concussion.
After giving up two goal leads twice in Thursday's 4-3 overtime loss against the Islanders, the Habs are hoping to get back to winning tonight as they face the Rangers for the second time in five nights.

The Canadiens came out on top with a 3-1 win against the Blueshirts last Tuesday in what Rangers head coach John Tortorella described as the worst game ever. The Rangers were without star forward Rick Nash in Tuesday's tilt and will be without him again tonight as he is sidelined with what is believed to be a head injury. 

Brendan Gallagher on the other hand is expected to get back into the Habs lineup tonight. Gallagher missed the team's last three games after being hit hard into the boards by Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn last Saturday. 

Gallagher has been cleared for contact and practiced yesterday on a line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty has been getting back into his groove, scoring four goals in his last three games after being unable to light the lamp in his first ten contests.

The Canadiens have collected 11 out of a possible 12 points over the last six games and can help solidify the top spot in the east with another win tonight.

Habs And Hockey News

- Our Rosalyn Roy (@TygerLylly) takes aim at the Habs lack of killer instinct.

- Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) takes note of the Habs returning to a winning culture.

- Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) points out the faults of Bouillon's decision to shoot as often as he does


(Photo By Bernard Brault, La Presse)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Roz's Rant: The Habs Still Lack Some Killer Instinct

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

I haven't ranted lately, simply because it's hard to do when the Montreal Canadiens claw their way out of the sewer and back up a long ladder to the top of the Eastern Conference.

They've been playing some good quality hockey, and they've found a lot of team spirit which is translating into solid team work. Throw in a fresh start courtesy of Geoff Molson, Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien and I've been a happy Habs fan for the most part.

But there are still some things that are obviously amiss. That being said, this is still less of a "rant" and more of a "musing online".

Right off the bat I'd have to say my biggest frustration this season is watching Erik Cole. Last year I finally warmed up to Cole because he was a hard worker who used his size and speed to drive to the net. He's got good hands and when he decides to play he's enormously talented and fun to watch.

It took me a while to warm up to Cole after he signed with the Habs just because I used to hate him killing them when he was with the Carolina Hurricanes. But the things that helped me to appreciate him more have gone baby gone and I just don't understand it.

I know he was upset about the lockout, running his mouth and frankly pissing me off. I'd have overlooked that had he come back to the team with a fresh attitude and some hard work. But neither is apparent this season.

If he's indeed thinking of retiring I truly hope he does it sooner rather than later. He's either disinterested in the play or else he's gotten arthritic. I don't know and I honestly don't care anymore. His lack of offensive contributions aside, he's oftentimes a defensive liability. Sure the text to his teammates was nice, and he did step it up for a game or two after that, and that's about as much good as I can say about Erik Cole this season.

How sad.

This team could really use his size and speed and leadership right now, and instead the line of Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Cole - which led the team last year and was expected to contribute most of the offensive production this year - has become its worse. Pacioretty is finally kicking into gear again after and Desharnais is looking more like last year's version, but Cole remains an enigma.

One player the Habs did sorely miss last season and now have back and working hard is Andrei Markov. I adore Markov. He's a funny guy and his coach calls him The General for good reason. Markov can calm down a play and has some of the best "hockey sense" on the team.

But he's also the wrong side of 30 and after two major rehabs he's lost a few steps. His communication with Alexei Emelin is nice, but they're often times put up against top lines when frankly Josh Gorges and PK Subban would be a safer choice. While I'm talking about the defense corps, I have to admit Raphael Diaz surprised me pleasantly this year. I didn't see him coming.

Other things I don't currently get / like / understand about the Montreal Canadiens and the NHL in general:

- constantly icing the puck. If they're going to keep doing it at least bring out a cake onto the ice to justify it.

- the power play. Can we fix this please? Five on five play rocks, but the Habs are missing too many opportunities that are constantly coming back to bite them in the patootie.

- the penalty kill. Note to PKers: you're not allowed to take the night off. No excuses, remember?

- the TV commentators constantly saying that the NHL refs are the best in professional sports. Just because you say it doesn't make it true. Make up calls are obvious to even the casual hockey fan. If my 90 year old non-hockey watching grandmother can see it, it does in fact mean you suck as a ref.

- three games in hand for the Boston Bruins. Whoever draws up the NHL schedule, do they use an app for that or go the old fashioned way and use a dartboard while blindfolded?

Lastly, I still completely resent my many years of waiting for the Canadiens to develop some sort of killer instinct when facing bottom dwelling teams, especially if they have a rookie learning to get his first NHL goal ever. The Habs will always roll over for these guys and the rookie always gets his first goal against them.

It's so tiresome. Really.

Team spirit and unity is all well and good, but why is it so seemingly impossible to develop a bit of the opportunistic bastard? Isn't this team supposed to be going back to a winning mentality? Why does it always go AWOL against the craptastic teams? I realize that the players are very nice guys, but they might want to use PK's "I hate everybody and I want to hit everybody" mantra once the puck drops.

Yes they're still atop the Eastern Conference, but there's only a couple of points separating them from their divisional rivals with whom they've already struggled against this season. The top of the ladder is always a precarious position.

I've never seen a Cup winner that doesn't possess the ability to beat down a vulnerable team when the opportunity arises. The Habs might want to take note.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

5 In A Row For The Habs, A Lump Of "Cole", More...

Happy HumpDay Addicts!!!!

The Canadiens made it five in a row yesterday, with a 3-1 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Alex Galchenyuk scored the game-winner at 1:48 of the third period on a three-on-one with Brandan Prust and Lars Eller. Suffice it to say that the trio has looked pretty good together since Montreal's head coach, Michel Therrien put them together.

That said, the Habs welcomed Ryan White back in the lineup, and Coach Therrien called upon the much-maligned tough guy late in the third period, as the Canadiens were killing off a late penalty to Tomas Plekanec. With all the faceoff problems the Habs have had so far this season, it was nice to see White get a confidence boost from Therrien after his early season braincramps.

White won that particular draw in the defensive zone cleanly, and it eventually led to an empty net shorthanded goal by Swiss d-man Raphael Diaz on a clearing attempt from his own zone that found the back of the Rangers' net 200 feet away.

----------

The Rangers only goal came in the second period while there was a delayed penalty being called on P.K. Subban for holding. The Rangers maintained possession of the puck, as Subban momentarily complained to the official, which led to Anton Stralman scoring on a mice feed from Derrick Stepan.

The biggest issue with that play was the half-hearted backcheck by Canadiens' veteran winger Erik Cole. Carey Price made a brilliant initial save on Stralman, but because Cole had his feet in cement, the Rangers' forward had ample time to score on his own rebound. That lack of secondary effort by Cole landed him on the bench for the better part of the third period, with only 3:59 TOI.

Since the beginning of the season, Erik Cole has been scrutinized by everyone surrounding the Canadiens. Some question his heart, while others maintain he has a health issue. Some even reference his propensity for starting each season slower than most.

There have been instances were Cole has indeed looked like the player he was last season, when he led the Canadiens in goals with 35, and was a major reason why his linemates, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty were so effective.

With 33% of the season in the books, and the Canadiens leading the Eastern Conference with 23 points, Cole remains an enigma among an otherwise outstanding group of players. The combination of character and talent has Habs' fans believing that this team can do major damage in the playoffs moving forward. As ineffective as last year's best line has been so far, Pacioretty and Desharnais are beginning to find their groove, while Cole remains behind.

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It's been tough keeping HabsAddicts up to speed, with all the work at WebSports Media, but I'm doing my best. If you might be interested in writing for HabsAddict, send me an email at coachk@montrealhockeytalk.com.

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Last night's edition of Montreal Hockey Talk was a hoot. With the likes of Simon Tsalikis, Mitch Gallo, Jay Ferrar and Nick Murdocco joining host Corey Collard, the laughs just kept on coming.

Speaking of MHT, they've begun streaming all their show in a loop on TuneIn Radio. Check it out on your Windows 8 computer or via your smartphone, as shows like The 3 Zones (which touches on coaching) and Murphy's Hockey Law with ESPNBoston.com's Jimmy Murphy are just some of the more interesting productions WSMN has coming your way.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Habs Win Third Straight Over Philly, Bournival's Hat-Trick And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


Habs' Brendan Gallagher battles with Flyers' defenseman
Luke Schenn in last night's 4-1 win.
 The Canadiens outplayed a tired Flyers team for 60 minutes on their way to a 4-1 win. And with that win, the Habs have indeed balanced out their three game skid earlier in the month and leap frogged over the Bruins to sit atop the Northeast Division. Sure, Boston may have two games in hand but that's no reason to ignore the fact that Habs have come to play in this shortened 2013 season.

Peter Budaj earned his first win of the season playing in his first home game after losing his first two starts on the road. The win could prove to have been costly as Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty each left the game with upper body injuries.

Gallagher, who earned the game's first star with a goal and an assist, was hit hard from behind by Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn. Pacioretty, who is still in search of his first goal, was hauled down by Philly defender Kimmo Timonen and crashed into the post.

More information on the extent of the injuries is expected after the team practices at noon today.


Habs and Hockey News

- Michael Bournival earned a hat-trick for the Hamilton Bulldogs last night scoring all three goals in the third period in the Bulldog's 4-2 win over the Houston Aeros.

- Here's Andrew Berkshire's fifth edition of the Canadiens Prospect Roundup.

- And with Rene Bourque's great start to the season, I thought I would pull a little something I wrote out of the MontrealhockeyTalk.com archives from last January.

(Photo by Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Habs/Flyers, Bourque's Resurgence And More...

Good Morning Addicts!



Carey Price, who's coming off his first shutout of the season, will
miss tonight's matchup against the Flyers with the flu.
 After collecting four points in the Sunshine State, the Habs are back home tonight to face the Flyers. The Broad Street Bullies are coming off of a 5-3 loss against the Devils in New Jersey last night in which they squandered a 3-1 lead. The Flyers have struggled on the road putting up a dismal 2-7 record.
The Habs have had relative success on Bell Center ice so far with a 5-3 record. The Canadiens have too often in the past helped teams put an end to slumps, but if they can make it a game focusing on special teams then they should have the advantage.

The Habs rank 10th in the league on the powerplay and 15th on the penalty kill while the Flyers have struggled with the extra man sitting in 15th and are 19th while short a man.

Carey Price is coming off his first shutout of the season but will miss tonight's match-up due to the stomach flu. Peter Budaj will look to earn his first win of the season in his third start. 

A win tonight would balance out the three games they lost prior to their four point sweep in Florida and will have a huge effect in convincing fans - and themselves - that their three game skid was nothing more than a slight bump in the road rather than a taste of what's to come over the course of the shortened season.

More importantly, a win tonight would put the Canadiens atop the Northeast Division after the Sabres defeated the Bruins 4-2 last night. The Bruins however will still hhave two games in hand.


Habs And Hockey News

- Rene Bourque's OT winner in Tampa was his fourth goal and eighth point in his 13th games this year. As Arpon Basu pointed out on twitter yesterday, that's as many points as he collected in 38 games with the Habs last year. Bourque's play 13 games in is quickly erasing the bad impression he made upon joining the team last season.

- In case you missed it, the Canadiens traded goaltender Cedrick Desjardins to the Tampa Bay Lightning, again, in exchange for 23 year old netminder Dustin Tokarski.

- This may not be Habs related but I've always been a fan of ageless wonder Teemu Selanne.


(Photo from http://www.habsnews.ca/montreal-canadiens-players/carey-price.html)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Face-Off Woes, Time To Deal With Cole...

Good Morning Addicts!!!

Three straights losses, the latest being a lackluster effort against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Habs' fans are beginning to wonder if the wheels have already fallen off the bus for this season. There are certainly things that can be improved, but there are too many issues facing this team to expect a quick turnaround.

Starting with the face-off efficiency issue, the 45.6% percentage boasted by the Canadiens ranks them only ahead of Edmonton and Buffalo, 28th in the 30 team NHL. When evaluating a team's ability to win, puck possession always starts at the face-off dot. Vertically-challenged first line centre David Desharnais has a measly average of 43.9%, while his linemate Erik Cole has a secondary average of 22.2%.

Even the team's best centre, Tomas Plekanec, is just a couple of percentage points higher that Desharnais, at 46.6%.

One could argue that Cole is not, and never has been, a natural centre, but in order to implement the system Head Coach Michel Therrien is trying to use, gaining control of the face-off is paramount.

A major part of the problem is, as has been discussed ad-nausium, the below-average size of the centres on this team. Bigger centremen always have more leverage, thus winning the draws more consistently, and furthermore causing Habs' centres to cheat and getting thrown out of the face-off way too often.

While percentages are unavailable to substantiate my claim, simply watch a couple of games, and it is easy to see that our drawtakers get thrown out much more often than other NHL teams.

Whether it is their size, or perhaps a lack of technique, this is one problem Therrien must address immediately, if he has any desire to move this team forward.

The other major issue is accountability. From the beginning of the season, we've seen Michel Therrien lay the law down when it came to the undisciplined play of sophomores Ryan White and Lars Eller. While his reason's cannot be denied, why does Therrien not do the same with some of his veteran players.

If you look at the contributions made by Erik Cole so far this season, it's clear his heart is no longer into the game of hockey. Beginning with his claim that he contemplated retirement due to the differences he had in the CBA negocaitions and their subsequent resolution, Cole just hasn't been the same player thus far this season. And after Saturday's effort, it's clear than Cole's issues have little to do with his propensity to start the season slowly, and more to do with his advanced age, his battered physical state, and his lack of desire.

If there is truly a "No Excuses" policy in the locker room, then Cole is due to have his keister nailed to the bench, and if he continues to be a thorn in the side of the Canadiens from a media perspective, perhaps the Habs' brass should consider Cole on the list of possibilities for their second compliance buyout.

Sure, the idea is a bit extreme, as far as the buyout is concerned, but unless Cole shows a desire to tow the company line, then maybe keeping Tomas Kaberle is indeed to lesser of two evils.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Leafs Destroy Habs, Koivu Keepin'on, Habs Prospects And More...

Good Morning Addicts!

Well that certainly did not go well. The much hated Toronto Maple Leafs came into town last night and handed the Canadiens their worst loss of the year. Nothing went right for the Habs who - other than Brendan Gallagher - played as if they had no desire to even be on the ice.

The Canadiens were losing battles in the corners, getting bumped off the puck and while they may have directed 37 shots on Leafs goaltender James Reimer, it's safe to say at least 30 of them were directed right at the Maple Leaf on his chest.

After two straight losses to Boston and Buffalo and now a 6-0 pounding at the hands of the Leafs, some fans are starting to wonder just what team the Canadiens are this year. Are the Habs we saw through the first handful of games for real? Or will we start seeing a lot more games like the ones we've witnessed over the last week?

Habs And Hockey News

- Former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu is enjoying success at age 8 with the Anaheim Ducks. Koivu leads the team with 11 points through ten games and is second on the team with a plus/minus of +8. Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette caught up with Koivu before the Ducks 3-1 loss to the Stars on Friday night.

- Andrew Berkshire is back again with his week four roundup of Montreal Canadiens prospects.

- It's no secret that the Canadiens owe a lot of their success this year to their depth.


(Photo by John Kenney, Montreal Gazette)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Habs/Leafs, Price On Track, Markov For Norris And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


The Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta line has combined for 22 points
through the first ten games.
After two consecutive losses to the Bruins and Sabres, the Habs will look to return to their winning ways tonight against the Maple Leafs. The Leafs will be looking for their third straight win after defeating the Capitals and the Jets.

The win against the Jets on Thursday came with Phil Kessel finally netting his first goal of the season for the winner.

Although the Canadiens haven't banked two points in the win column since Sunday afternoon against the Senators, their losses didn't come without effort. There are some positives in the fact that if Tuuka Rask hadn't stood on his head in the first period of the Bruins, tilt the Habs easily could have finished the frame with a three or four goal lead rather than heading into the second period tied at zero.

The following night in Buffalo the two points were pretty much in the bank before Ryan White took yet another selfish penalty giving the Sabres the opportunity to bring them to within one goal of the Habs. Things went from bad to worse for Montreal as the game was tied with less than two seconds left and the breakdown was complete when they lost in the shoot out.

While tonight's line up has yet to be finalizes it should be safe to assume that White will sit after costing his team a point and Travis Moen will be in.

One thing for sure is that the Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole line is going to have to start producing. If they can mirror the success of the Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta line, the Habs will have little trouble piling up w's.


Habs And Hockey News

- Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) of lnh.com points out that Carey Price appears to be the player Bob Gainey knew he would become when he drafted him fifth overall in the 2005 draft.

- Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) takes a look at where the Habs rank after ten games.

- Andrei Markov makes Kevin Allen (@ByKevinAllen) of USA Today's list of early Norris Trophy candidates.


(Photo from http://thereuschblog.com/?p=16065)

Friday, February 8, 2013

"White Out!", Lousy Week For The Habs, More...

T.G.I.F. Addicts!!!!

How dumb and selfish could a single player be? Well...let's take a hard look at Ryan White.

Against the Florida Panthers, White decided to drop the gloves against notable NHL turtle Tomas Fleishcmann, which cost him and the Canadiens 27 minutes in penalties. You'll say, "Big deal! It was the Florida Panthers." Sure, you could, but let move forward.

Less than a week later, after Michel Therrien defended White for coming to the defense of one of his teammates, White took it a step further. In a game against the Ottawa Senators on January 30th, White was assessed a roughing penalty for in front of the Senators bench, and an extra two minutes for chirping at the officials. That double-minor lead to two Ottawa power play goals, and a complete swing in the game's momentum, which ultimately led to a 5-1 win for the Senators.

Then last night, White, in his ultimate wisdom, decided that a 4-2 lead against the Buffalo was the perfect time to lose his mind, and go after Sabres' pest Steve Ott.

Ott, being the cagy veteran that he is, used his pre-game verbal taunts to his favour, turtling in front of White, leading to a double-minor for roughing. And, as luck would have it, those penalties lead to Buffalo's resurgence, and a 5-4 victory by the Sabres in a shootout.

It's time for Canadiens' head coach Michel Therrien to crack out his bottle of "White Out!", and send an extended message to the Habs' tough guy that, while he loves character and physicality, he appetite for stupidity is quite full at the moment.

Hot dogs and soft drinks will be White's diet over the next few days...with a great view from the Bell Centre press box included.

Habs and Hockey News and Notes:

In what has been the worst week of the Habs`season so far, Montreal Hockey Talk welcomed Tim Redinger, Senior Editor on Sabrenoise.com during the pre-game show to analyze last night match-up, while the post-game gang used their mics to vent their frustration towards White, Peter Budaj and a few other Habs that are dragging their feet.

- Last night's game tying goal by Sabres' forward Thomas Vanek, was his league leading tenth of the season.

- The Chicago Blackhawks continued to roll to start the NHL season. Playing 10 of 12 games on the road to start the season, the Hawks once again won versus the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 6-2 in Glendale. Patrick Kane continued his torrid start, adding another goal a two assists to his point totals. He is currently second in points in the NHL, behind only the aforementioned Vanek, who has 21 points.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Keeping Up With The Canadiens...

Good Morning Addicts!

In trying to keep busy before Wednesdays match up between the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins and the fourth place Montreal Canadiens, I've found quite a few interesting stats.

- For one thing, Habs rookie Alex Galchenyuk is the first rookie in Habs history to record at least two assists in each of three straight home games. He's the first rookie to do so since Peter Forsberg accomplished it for the Nordiques in '95.

- This shouldn't really come to a surprise to anybody who follows the team but Alexei Emelin currently leads the league in hits with 34 and Josh Gorges leading the blocked shots column with 29.

- Including P.K. Subban who has played only two games, the Canadiens have four players who are averaging at least a point per game. Subban has notched helpers in his first two appearances, Pacioretty has yet to find the back of the net but has five assists in four contests. Diaz and Markov each have eight points in as many games and Plekanec and Galchenyuk are close to adding their names to this list as they have seven points in eight tilts.

- How about Carey Price's numbers? A 6-1 record - six straight wins - with a GAA of 1.70 and a .938 sv%. With numbers like that it shouldn't be too long before he earns the two wins necessary for him to pass Jose Theodore and Michel Larocque for all time wins for the Habs.

- Without looking it up would you have guessed that the Habs have just two minus players? Aside from Travis Moen (-2) and Tomas Plekanec (-1) the rest of the team is even or better.

Habs And Hockey News

- Check out the pre-game and post-game shows from Montreal Hockey Talk from Sunday. The MHT crew were joined by the likes of Jimmy Murphy, John Bartlett, Sergio Momesso and Gilbert Dionne.

- Sure it's been a few days since his return but it's still crazy to think that Max Pacioretty returned to the line up just eight days after undergoing an appendectomy.

- Alex Galchenyuk earns second star of the week in week two of the Calder Watch over at TheHockeyGuys.net

- The Canadiens find themselves in the Top 5 of TSN's power rankings.





Monday, February 4, 2013

Pacioretty Returns In Habs Victory Over The Sens/ Bad Officiating And More...

Good Morning Addicts!

I guess at this point it's not that surprising that Max Pacioretty is back in the Habs line up just one week after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. Sure it's a procedure that normally requires three to four weeks recovery time but if we've learned anything about Pacioretty over time it's that he isn't human.

In any event, Pacioretty is indeed back and helped the Canadiens win their second game in as many days as they beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 just four days after the Senators manhandled the Habs 5-1.

Pacioretty notched an assist on his first shift of the game and didn't look out of place on the top line with David Desharnais and Erik Cole.

With the win, the Canadiens earned a perfect four points over the weekend and are back on a winning pace after briefly faltering last Wednesday against the Senators in Ottawa. Carey Price made it his sixth straight victory losing only his first start of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Habs And Hockey News

- Here's more on Pacioretty returning to the ice just eight days after his appendectomy.

- Although the Habs skated away with the win yesterday afternoon, the game easily could've - and probably should've - gone into overtime. Jakob Silfverberg scored what should've been his second goal of the game early in the third only for it to be waved off. Could this be the worst call of the year?

- Along with the Islanders, the Canadiens have taken the league by surprise with their success early in the season.


(Photo by Dave Stubbs, Montreal Gazette)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Match-Up: Sabres vs Habs - Feb. 2nd, 2013

montreal canadiens vs buffalo sabres nhlMatch-Up:
The Canadiens (4-2-0) are home at the Bell Centre to face the Sabres (3-3-1) for the first of two weekend matinees. The game is set to start at 2:00 and can be seen on CBC and RDS. This is the first of five meetings between the Habs and Sabres this season. Last year the Canadiens went 1-3-2 against Buffalo, winning their only game 4-3 in a shootout. Scott Gomez broke his yearlong goal drought in that victory.

What to Watch:

It’s not clear whether or not PK Subban will rejoin the Canadiens lineup Saturday, but if he does you can bet all eyes will be on him. One thing Canadiens won’t see if the Habs win is Subban’s and Carey Price’s patented Triple Low 5 celebration, Michel Therrien has banned the celebration opting instead for celebrations that the whole team can partake in. That said, what you will see if the Canadiens win is what we’ve seen already this year, a salute to the fans from the whole team.

The Canadiens will need to keep a watchful eye on Buffalo’s leading scorers Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. Vanek has 6 goals and 9 assists in just 6 games played including a hat-trick and two assists Thursday against the Bruins. Pominville isn’t doing too bad either with 5 goals and 7 assists through 7 games.

What’s at Stake:
The Habs lost just their second game of the season Wednesday night in Ottawa, but that means they still have yet to beat a division rival. A win against the Sabres on Saturday will help provide a bit of breathing room in the playoff battle, a loss could send them right to the bottom of the Northeast Division.

Who’s Out:
Still no official word yet on whether PK Subban will be in the lineup Saturday, but chances are he’ll be there which could mean Tomas Kaberle will be the odd man out on the Habs’ blue line. Max Pacioretty is recovering nicely from surgery and has already participated in a full practice, just 6 days after an appendectomy!

Cody McCormick (finger) and Ville Leino (hip) are long-term injuries for the Sabres. Patrick Kaleta (neck) will also likely miss Saturday’s game, as will Robyn Regher (lower body).

What Else:
The Canadiens are expecting big contributions from their young stars. Carey Price, PK Subban, Max Pacioretty, Ryan White, Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk are all 25 years or younger (Price is the oldest of the bunch at 25). But as young as these players only Galchenyuk has the distinction of being the only member of the Canadiens not to have been alive for any of their Stanley Cup victories since the franchise won its first Stanley Cup in 1916. Of course, Habs fans are hoping he’ll help to correct that fact in the near future.

Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Patches Skates, P.K. Quick Study, More...

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

Isn't it incredible? Just a week after having an emergency appendectomy, Canadien's winger Max "Wolverine" Pacioretty was back on the ice skating at Complexe Bell in Brossard on Thursday. Although the team officially had a day off, both Patches and newly resigned P.K. Subban were on the ice, going through a light skate.

While Pacioretty isn't expected back for at least another two weeks, history would dictate that his incredible healing ability might say otherwise. Only time will tell, but WOW!!!

And speaking of P.K, Pat Hickey took an indepth look at Canadiens' defenseman's ability to take a crash course in Michel Therrien 101. 

Habs and Hockey News and Notes:

Bryan Murray announced yesterday that Senators' star centre Jason Spezza will miss a minimum of two months because of surgery to fix a herniated disc in his back. According to Murray, Spezza has been playing the majority of his career with back pain, and now it has gotten to a point where he cannot sleep properly, therefore hindering his ability to recover after games.

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There are those of us who are part of HabsNation would love for someone to beat the pulp out of loudmouthed Bruins' tough guy Shawn Thornton. Well, last night at TD Garden in Boston, Buffalo Sabres' heavyweight John Scott layed the smackdown on Thornton, for all of us to enjoy.


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