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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Habs Sweep Season Series Against Rangers, Pacioretty Review, Robyn Regher And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


Carey Price earned his third shut-out of the season last night
and his second against the New York Rangers.
 The Montreal Canadiens shut out the New York Rangers 3-0 last night for the second time this season, with Carey Price earning his third shutout od the season.

Michael Ryder opened the scoring for the Habs giving him 14 points in as many games since joining the team giving Marc Bergevin good reason to think about extending his contract. Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher also scored for the Canadiens as they swept the three game season series against the Blueshirts.

P.K. Subban earned assists on all three goals as he continues to make a strong case for himself to be a candidate for the Norris trophy at years end.

Nathan Beaulieu finished his NHL debut with one shot on goal and one block while playing 17:17 minutes of ice time including 1:04 minutes on the powerplay.

Habs And Hockey News

- Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) follows up Lars Eller's mid season review with that of Max Pacioretty.

- The Montreal Canadiens placed defenseman Tomas Kaberle on waivers yesterday and it's a safe bet the veteran blueliner will clear today.

- With Raphael Diaz not returning anytime soon and Andrei Markov feeling the effects of the longest season he's played in years, is Robyn Regher the answer to the Habs blueline problems?


(Photo By Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Habs/Rangers, Ryan Clowe, 'Dogs Lose Again And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


Nathan Beaulieu will make his NHL debut tonight against
the New York Rangers
 The Montreal Canadiens are back in action tonight as they host the New York Rangers. it will be the third and final meeting between the two teams with the Habs winning the first two games by a combined total of 6-1.

It seems Brandon Prust will return to the line up for Montreal after missing eight games due to a shoulder injury. His timing is quite fitting as he is back on time to face his former team. Prust is a +4 against the Rangers this season and has also notched an assist.

With Prust returning to the roster, Gabriel Dumont was sent back to the Hamilton Bulldogs along with defenseman Jarred Tinordi. Tinordi played six games during his stint with the Habs earning one assist, two penalty minutes and a +2 rating while averaging 10:32 minutes of ice time.

Nathan Beaulieu was called up from Hamilton to take Tinordi's spot on the blue line. Beaulieu has six goals and 19 assists for 25 points in 62 games for the 'Dogs. His style is more offensive than that of Tinordi and will be called upon to help the Canadiens second powerplay unit.

Habs And Hockey News 

- There has been lots of talk about the Habs interest in San Jose's Ryan Clowe as the trade deadline approaches but is he a player the Habs should acquire?

- Eric Engels (@EricEngels) takes a look at who he thinks the Habs should target on April 3rd.

- The Hamilton Bulldogs continue to struggle as they fell 4-3 to the Abbotsford Heat last night for their sixth loss in their last ten games.

(Photo By Bernard Brault, La Presse)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Habs Fall To Sabres, Halpern Returns, Prospect Roundup And More...

Good Afternoon Addicts!


Michael Ryder notched his 11th point in as many games
since joining the Habs in last nights loss to Buffalo.
 The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 last night, handing the Habs their second regulation time loss in 20 games. Ryan Miller played outstanding between the pipes for Buffalo turning aside 39 of the 40 shots fired at him earning the games first star.

With Toronto edging the Bruins 3-2, Montreal lost a quality chance to increase their lead in the standings over Boston.

Thomas Vanek scored both goals for the Sabres after missing one game due to a shot he blocked in the previous game against the Habs. Michael Ryder put Montreal on the board with his tenth goal of the season, his fourth as a Hab and his first at the Bell Center.

Montreal has a tough back to back series coming up as they will face the Penguins and Bruins on Tuesday and Wednesday night. It's the second time the Canadiens will face the two Eastern Conference powerhouses in back to back games.

In early March the Habs fell 7-6 in overtime against the Pens before beating the Bruins 4-3 the following night.

Habs And Hockey News

- Here's Andrew Berkshire with his weekly Montreal Canadiens Prospect Roundup.

- The Habs claimed Jeff Halpern off of waivers from the Rangers yeasterday addint him to the list of returning Canadiens along with Francis Bouillon, Michael Ryder and Michel Therrien.

- The Hamilton Bulldogs lost 4-2 to the Binghamton Senators last night for their fourth defeat in their last five games.

- Here's a few quick rumor hits from TSN as the April 3rd deadline quickly approaches.


(Photo from Habsblog.com)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Habs/Sabres Preview, Should The Canadiens Target Max Talbot? Lars Eller And More...

Good Afternoon Addicts!


Ryan White will miss tonight's game after suffering a lower
body injury in Thurday's 5-2 win over the Islanders.
 The Montreal Canadiens are back at it tonight gettting another crack at the Buffalo Sabres in Montreal. It is the final of four meetings between the two teams with the Sabres winning two of them including a 3-2 overtime win over the Habs just four nights back.

Both teams are coming off of victories since their last meeting with the Sabres edging the Maple Leafs 5-4 in shoot outs and the Habs finally solving the Islanders with a convincing 5-2 win on Thursday night.

Ryan White will be out of the line up with a lower body injury and while Rene Bourque and Brandon Prust are nearing their return, neither are expected to play tonight. Michael Blunden has been called up from Hamilton to replace White.


Habs And Hockey News

- We are ten days away from the April 3rd trade deadline and Fred Poulin (@FredPoulin98) would like to see the Habs go after Philadelphia Flyers forward Max Talbot.

- Former Caadien Alex Kovalev retired this week putting an end to his career that saw him play 1,316 NHL games and win the cup with the New York Rangers in 1994.

- Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) breaks down Lars Eller's performance in the first half of the season.


(Photo by Bernard Brault, La Presse)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Habs extend Francis Bouillon, plus some other good reads

Greetings Habs addicts!

Photo credit: CBC.ca
Big news (pun intended) out of Montreal on Wednesday!  The Montreal Canadiens extended the contract of 38 year old, 5'8" defenceman Francis Bouillon on Wednesday. His extension is a short one (pun intended), just one-year at 1.5 million.

I like this signing. Its nothing flashy, nothing risky; just a solid depth move by GM Marc Bergevin. Bouillon has bought into coach Michel Therrien's system and he has played well, contributing 1 goal, 6 assists with a plus-6 rating in his 29 games thus far this season.  Frankie has also worked well with the younger players on the team, recently paired up with callups Greg Pateryn and Jarred Tinordi.

This is a no-risk signing.  If he is out-played next year in training camp and the pre-season by our younger players, he'd become a solid 7th defenceman who can fill in for injuries or just sit in the press-box as a depth scratch.  For 1.5 million, there's nothing wrong with that.  The Habs are paying four times that to Tomas Kaberle to do the same thing this season.  Bouillon wants to retire in Montreal and I would be shocked if he doesn't stay within the organization either as an assistant coach or in player personnel capacity after his playing career is over. While TSN did report he is a Montreal native, truth be told he's a New Yorker. But he's certainly adopted Montreal as his home.

Good for you, Frankie!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Habs Win Fifth Straight, Emergence of Eller, 'Dogs Lose And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


Colby Armstrong (center) celebrates his first goal of the season
with teammates Ryan White and Jarred Tinordi
 The Montreal Canadiens made it five wins in a row for the second time this season last night defeating the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in Newark. Despite outshooting the Canadiens 33-22, the Devils play made it quite apparent that they were tired from their game against the Flyers the night before.

Colby Armstrong scored his first goal as a Hab in the first period and Peter Harrold responded for the Devils in the second frame. Jarred Tinordi earned an assist in his NHL regular season debut after Tomas Plekanec tipped his point shot past Johan Hedberg for the game winner in the final period.

Tinordi also finished the game with a +2 rating. Lars Eller had another strong showing directing four shots on goal and throwing a team leading four body checks.

Carey Price was solid when he needed to be, making multiple big saves to keep his team in a position to win in the low scoring contest. With the win, Price shares the lead for most wins with 15 along with Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Canadiens also moved back on top of the Easten Conference after briefly falling to fourth with the Penguins and Bruins both winning their games earlier in the day.

Habs And Hockey News

- As mentioned above, Eller has been playing fantastic as of late, here is Andrew Berkshire's (@AndrewBerkshire) take on the emergence of the "Great Dane".

- Alexei Emelin is another player who has been coming into his own recently. The Russian defender has seven points in his last ten games and has been much more sound defensively.

- The Hamilton Bulldogs lost their third straight last night as Josh Lunden of the St. John's IceCaps scored with 26 seconds left in the game to down the 'Dogs 4-3.


(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Montreal Canadiens: North American Prospects Worth Watching


Now that Alex Galchenyuk has graduated with the Montreal Canadiens, Habs fans have definitely turned their attention to the NHL. However, let’s not forget all the quality prospects that Trevor Timmins and his excellent scouting staff drafted in recent years. Let’s have a look at all the North American prospects that are worth watching in the CHL and the NCAA this season.
Olivier Archambault, Drummondville Voltigeurs (108th overall pick in 2011)
The 20 year-old Archambault has set career bests for goals (31), assists (34) and points (65) after a slow start with the surprising Drummondville Voltigeurs who are currently 9th in the QMJHL this season. After missing most of last season with a concussion, the 5’11”, 190-lb left winger has managed to be more consistent in 2012-13 on a well-balanced offensive team and that bodes very well for his future with the organization..
In his last 10 contests, Archambault has been red-hot, notching 8 goals and 6 assists for 14 points with a -3 plus/minus rating. Blessed with great speed, a great hockey sense and soft hands, Archambault really needs to concentrate on the defensive aspect of his game as he is -31 in 172 junior games. The Le Gardeur native will need to get stronger physically over the summer and improve his defensive play without the puck if he hopes to graduate with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL next season.
Charles Hudon, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (122th overall pick in 2012)
After missing the World Junior Hockey Championships due to a severe back injury, the talented left-winger came back to action stronger and has recorded 30 goals and 39 assists for 69 points in 54 games to go along with a solid +13 differential with Chicoutimi. The diminutive 18 year-old winger has shown flashes brilliance all season-long and has displayed a strong two-way play for the inconsistent Saguenéens.
In his past ten games, Hudon has been blazing hot with 5 goals and 12 assists for 17 points with a +5 differential! Hudon has also racked up 66 penalty minutes despite his smaller stature, proving that he is a combative competitor. The native of Alma, Quebec, will only turn 19 in June, so he will most likely play another year in junior before turning professional.
Brady Vail has been inconsistent this season (Source: windsorspitfires.com)
Brady Vail has been inconsistent this season (Source: windsorspitfires.com)
Brady Vail, Windsor Spitfires (94th overall pick in 2012)
The centreman who turned 19 years of age yesterday, has cooled down considerably after a strong start this season with the Windsor Spitfires. Through 65 games, Vail has scored 19 goals and 35 assists for 54 points to go along with a mediocre -20 plus/minus differential, after having recorded 27 points in first 29 games. Playing mainly on a shutdown line for most part of the year, Vail was recently given more offensive responsibilities and he answered the call by providing plenty of offense to his team.
In his last 10 match-ups, Vail has recorded 2 goals and 8 helpers for 10 points along with a -6 rating. After a good showing at the Habs rookie camp this past summer,  the 6’1”, 195-lb prospect needs to be more consistent and pay a better attention to the details that made his game so good earlier this season. Since, the Spitfires will miss the playoffs this season, so we will not have the chance to follow Vail much longer as the season ends on March 17th.
Tim Bozon, Kamloops Blazers (64th overall pick in 2012)
Tim Bozon is having a great offensive season with the Blazers (Credit: Kamloops Blazers)
Tim Bozon is having a great offensive season with the Blazers (Credit: Kamloops Blazers)
Playing for the #4th ranked team in the WHL, the Kamloops Blazers, Bozon has been fairly consistent on a team loaded with offensive weapons. After 67 games, Bozon has scored 33 goals and 51 assists for 84 points with an excellent +30 rating. His teammates JC Lipon and Colin Smith are currently ranked 3rd and 8th with 103 points and 89 points, respectively.
The hard-working Bozon has recorded 1 goal and 7 assists for 8 points in his last 10 games, posting an even rating in the process. Bozon will only turn 19 later this month, so he will most likely spend the next season in the WHL to polish his hockey skills even more before making the jump to the AHL.
Darren Dietz, Saskatoon Blades (138th overall pick in 2011)
The physical defenseman has been a physical and offensive force the powerful Saskatoon Blades this season. Dietz has recorded 23 goals and added 31 assists for 54 points in 64 contests, posting a +10 differential and receiving 98 penalty minutes. The 19 year-old rearguard really improved his defensive game after Christmas (he was -21 at the time), having an excellent month of February during which he recorded 7 goals and 12 assists for 19 points and posting an astounding +23 plus/minus differential in only 15 games!
In his last 10 games, the 6’1”, 205-lb defenseman has potted 6 goals and 7 assists for 13 points with a +13 rating. An excellent power play specialist, Dietz is blessed with a Shea-Weber slapshot from the blue line and a great hockey sense to support the attack. Despite his inconsistent overall play, the Blades are relying on Dietz and Duncan Siemens to log big minutes and will certainly be a threat to win the 2013 Memorial Cup as the host team.
Dalton Thrower, Saskatoon Blades (51st overall pick in 2012)
A teammate of Dietz, Thrower, 19, has been a major disappointment this season for the Memorial Cup hosts. Suspended four games earlier this season, Thrower has only 5 goals and 20 assists for 25 points in 25 games with a +18 rating. The talented blue-liner missed some action earlier this season because of an upper-body injury.
In his last 10 contests, Dalton has a mere 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points with a +3 rating. The most disappointing CHL prospect of the organization, Thrower will need to improve his work ethics and discipline if he wants to have a successful career in the NHL. Thrower should make the transition to the AHL next season, but expects a few bumps in the road for the North Vancouver native.
Danny Kristo, University of North Dakota Sioux (56th overall pick in 2008)
With the college season winding down the Habs will have to make an important decision regarding Kristo who is currently playing his 4th and last season with UND. Montreal really needs to sign in the next few weeks or months, or they risk losing him to free agency this summer. The 5’11”, 180-lb right winger has recorded 21 goals and 24 assists for 45 points in 34 games this season with UND.
The speedy winger, who is blessed with soft hands and a great hockey sense, will be ready to make the transition to the NHL next season, as if the Habs decide to sign him in the upcoming weeks, he could even join the Bulldogs or the Canadiens when the Sioux are eliminated from the playoffs. Don’t be surprised if the right-handed Kristo replaces Michael Ryder as a top-6 forward in 2013-14.
Danny Kristo Highlights
Mark MacMillan, University of North Dakota Sioux (113th overall pick in 2010)
One of the most unknown team prospects, MacMillan is certainly flying under the radar. Currently listed at 6’0” and 170 lbs, the speedy forward is a long-term project for the organization. In 36 games for UND, Kristo’s teammate has scored 13 goals and 12 assists for a respectable 25 points. The 21 year-old native of Penticton, BC, is an excellent skater who blessed with a good vision on the ice.
MacMillan still has two more years at UND before transitioning to professional hockey, so he still has plenty of time to bulk up and increase his foot speed, while working on his defensive game to become an efficient third-line forward in the NHL.
Mac Bennett, University of Michigan Wolverines (79th overall pick in 2009)
The 6’0”, 190-lb defenseman has recorded 6 goals and 11 assists for 17 points in 28 contests, playing his third year at UM. The puck-moving rearguard has great two-way instinct, excellent mobility, good hands and an ability to join the rush at the right moment. The 21 year-old blue-liner will need to improve his decision-making with and without the puck as well as add a few pounds of muscles to become a successful NHL defenseman.
Bennett will return for his final year at Michigan next season, so he is still a project for the Habs and a few years away before turning pro.
Follow me on Twitter for more updates on the Canadiens and hockey in general.

Habs/Devils,Desharnais Extension,Habs North American Prospects And More...

Good Morning Addicts!

Jarred Tinordi (right) wll make his NHL regular season debut
tonight against the Devils.
It's been quite a slow week in Habsland with only one game, a 4-3 victory over the Senators, this week. The Canadiens are back at it tonight as they face the Devils in New Jersey. It's the teams second tilt of three this season with the Habs coming out on top 4-3 in their first meeting back in January.

While Montreal is heading into tonight's game after two days off, the Devils are playing their second game in as many nights dropping a 2-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers in a shoot out last night.

Lars Eller is coming off his most dominant game of the season. Eller scored the teams first goal of the night in Ottawa and provided the shoot out winner with a nifty move. Aside from his production on the scoresheet Eller finished the night with seven shots and played an aggressive game at both ends of the ice.

Raphael Diaz (concussion), Rene Bourque (concussion), Brandon Prust (shoulder) and Michael Ryder (lower body) will all miss tonight's contest for the Habs. Michael Blunden has been called up from Hamilton to replace Ryder and Jarred Tinordi who was also called up from the Bulldogs will make his NHL debut.

Hab killer Martin Brodeur is out for the Devils  with a back inury.

Habs And Hockey News

- David Desharnais will play his first game since signing a four year contract extension with the club.

- Our own Fred Poulin (@FredPoulin98) takes a look at the Montreal Canadiens North American Prospects Worth Watching.

- With the realignment given the green light, Habs Eyes On The Prize has explained the rules to the Habs new conference.


(Photo by Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Blake Geoffrion to announce his retirement



Photo Credit: aol.sportingnews.com
Greetings Habs addicts,  

I woke up today, got some coffee brewing and then sat down at the computer.  As always, my first move of the day is to log onto Twitter and catch up on the overnight tweets.  In between all the NFL free-agency news, I saw a sad announcement:  Blake Geoffrion will announce his retirement after suffering a horrific skull fracture after a violent hit during a game on November 9th, 2012.

Geoffrion, the 2010 Hobey Baker award winner for best collegiate hockey player in the US, was acquired from the Nashville Predators in the Hal Gill trade on Feb 17, 2012. When he made his debut with the Canadiens, he became the first fourth-generation Canadien: His father Dan Geoffrion, grandfather Bernie ‘Boom-Boom’ Geoffrion and great-grandfather, Howie Morenz, all preceded him.  The Habs blood-line ran thick with Geoffrion.   He finished the 2011-12 season with 2 goals in 13 games with the Habs.

I’ve always had a soft-spot for Geoffrion.  I liked the back story of his family history and I liked how he respected the history of the Canadiens and his family’s role in that history.  Choosing to honor both his grandfather and great-grandfather by donning the No.57 (Bernie Geoffrion wore 5, Howie Morenz 7 and both numbers are retired), I hoped he would have secured a spot on the opening day lineup.  Instead the NHL lockout forced him to start the year playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the American Hockey League (AHL), where he suffered his unfortunate career-ending injury.  While talented, he never projected to be more than a bottom six depth player at the NHL level. He possessed good size and a solid two-way game, but he never projected to be a scoring champion. 

However, due to circumstances beyond his control, his professional hockey career is over.  I do applaud him for taking the smart path and putting his long-term health above his career aspirations. Its never easy for an athlete to give up the sport they devoted their life to.  I would imagine its especially hard to step away when their career is cut short due to injury and not because they were ready to step aside.  Every athlete wants to leave on their own terms.

I would speculate that Geoffrion will be offered a position within the organization, should he choose to accept it.  He is a bright, young individual with a degree to fall back on. He’ll land on his feet and do well whatever he chooses to do. Due to a freak injury, suffered in a game he was potentially only playing in because of the NHL lockout, we’re left wondering what could have been for Blake Geoffrion. 

Good luck in the future, Blake.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Habs/Lightning, Habs/Panthers, Midseason Review And More...

Good Afternoon Addicts!

Habs captain Brian Gionta is back on track earning five goals
and one assist in his last six games.
These Canadiens just keep finding ways to win. In recent years the Canadiens would simply fold after giving up three second period goals as they did last night against the Lightning. This group however kept their heads in the game and their foot on the gas and responded with three unanswered goals of their own in the third period on their way to a 4-3 victory placing them back on top of the Eastern Conference.

Micheal Ryder still has yet to find the back of the net sonce rejoining the Habs but added another two assists giving him six assists in his six games as a Hab this season.

Brian Gionta scored his fifth goal in his last six games and added an assist on Alexei Emelin's game tying goal as he continues to break out of a slump which saw him go five games without earning a point.

There was a damper on the win however as Brandon Prust fell hard into the boards in the third period and laft the game after injuring his shoulder. Prust will miss tonights game and is expected to be out Wednesday and Saturday against the Senators and Devils.

Expect Peter Budaj who is on a three game winning streak to get the start in goal.

The Habs are back at it tonight against the Panthers in Florida.

Habs And Hockey News

- Tonights match up is the Canadiens second game of the second half of their season, here's a look at their first half.

- Andrew Berkshire is back with his eighth edition of the Montreal Canadiens Prospect Roundup.

- Rumor season is in full swing, here is TSN's Sunday rumor roundup.


(Photo from thehockeyhouse.net)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Montreal Canadiens At The Halfway Mark

24 Down, 24 To go

Alex Galchenyuk (left) and Brendan Gallagher are tied for third
among rookie scoring with 13 points each.
The Montreal Canadiens have reached the halfway mark of the shortened 2013 season and they can't be disappointed in what they've accomplished thus far.

With only 24 games remaining in their season, the Habs currently sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 15-5-4 record.

Predictions are always sketchy and even more so when it comes to this specific squad as they headed into the 2013 campaign. With Markov's knee always in question, a coach who didn't work the first time and a team who failed to produce any offense outside of  their top line it was hard to imagine they would find any more success than in 2011-12.

However, how could it get worse than 15th? The days of Pierre Gauthier and Jacques Martin are over, the entire organization had been re-structured and character players such as Colby Armstrong, Francis Bouillon and Brandon Prust were added to the roster. How could they not improve?

Pleasant Surprises

Why not start with Brandon Prust? Prust is coming off of a career high three point game in Thursday night's 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Prust has shown his willingness to stand up for his teammates by dropping the gloves seven times in the first half of the season. Along with his toughness, Prust has added nine points (4G-5A) and a very impressive +13 rating, good for 11th in the league.

I'm not sure why I'm putting Carey Price's success as a surprise. I  guess it's because most of the blame for the team's failure is usually put on him and this could be the season that he put's an end to that. In 19 games played Price has posted a 12-4-3 record with a 2.33 GAA, .912 sv% and two SO's.

His 12 wins put him first in that category and has had only two outings in which he played below expectations. He followed those performance up with a 41 save win in Carolina Thursday night including 19 saves in the second frame when Carolina came at Montreal with everything they had.

Rene Bourque was enjoying a bounce back season notching five goals and adding five helpers and playing with determination in the 17 games leading up to a concussion he was believed to have suffered after an altercation with Toronto's Colton Orr in February's 6-0 pounding at the hands of the Maple Leafs.

Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher have been as equally productive as they've been entertaining. With 13 points each, they are tied for third in rookie scoring. Gallagher's two game winning goals are tied for first and he is alone atop rookie skaters with a +10 rating.

Galchenyuk's +7 puts him in third and each of them has done this despite having top line minutes. Neither player ranks among the top 50 rookies when it comes to ice time.

And finally, Michel Therrien has them playing like a team.  It's been a long time since the Habs have bought into their coach's system and it's showing in the standings. Therrien has them playing more aggressively and each night his players are agressive on the puck at both ends of the ice and are winning more battles along the boards than they are losing.

Disappointments

Erik Cole got off to one of his usual slow starts and was subsequently shipped to Dallas for former Hab Michael Ryder. Cole's production was one thing but the lockout left a sour taste in his mouth and after making comments about possibly retiring at seasons end, Marc Bergevin decided it was better to go ahead without him.

Ryder has yet to score in his second stint as a Hab but has earned four assists. The beauty of the deal is in the cap. Cole has two more years on his deal at $4.5 million while Ryder is on the last year of his contract which pays him $3.5 million.

If Ryder can pick up his game Bergevin may decide to re-sign him, if not the Montreal GM has given himself some much needed cap space for a season that will see the cap limit decrease by roughly seven million dollars. Did I mention Bergevin managed to squeeze a 3rd round pick out of Dallas?

Colby Armstrong and Travis Moen have both been less than impressive. While I won't be as hard on Armstrong as most, I can't say he's been the player I was hoping  he would be when he signed as a free agent. Armstrong is far from sniper material but he's going to have to start cashing in on some of the chances he's been getting. His grit factor also seems to have disappeared from his game.

Speaking of lost grit, what has happened to Moen? His play is less physical, his intimidation factor is non existant and his four points in 23 games speaks volumes about his offensive contribution, or lack thereof.

Final Notes

David Desharnais almost made the list of disappointments after starting slow following a stellar 2011-12 campaign. However, in his last 11 games he has recorded ten points and a +5 rating indicating that he may have found his groove.

Peter Budaj is doing exactly what he needs to by posting a 3-1-1 record and giving the team a chance to win when he's called upon.

The Canadiens special teams have been above average as they currently sit in ninth place with the extra man posting a 19.8% success rate. Their rating of  82.1% while down a man puts them at 14th.

The Team's defensive play in their own zone has left a lot to be desired and too often goals are given up due to breakdowns in their own end. Many question why Markov is still getting top pairng minutes at his age and why it took an injury to Raphael Diaz for P.K. Subban to start getting top four ice time.

Subban has 15 points in 18 games and is tied for first among defenseman with six goals. It's not quite clear why he spent his first 14 games hovering around 20 minutes a game.

Looking Ahead

while there is nothing wrong with taking a minute to enjoy the fact that the Canadiens reacherd the halfway mark of the season atop the Eastern Conference, it's only fair to be realistic as we look ahead.

It's not impossible for the Habs to keep the top spot but the Boston Bruins have been absolutely amazing and still hols games in hand on the Canadiens.

The good guys keep finding ways to win without the likes of Rene Bourque and Raphael Diaz but there is a long way to go and they will have to find a way to continue rolling four lines successfully for another 24 games if they expect to finish on top heading into May.


---


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.


(Photo by Paul Chiasson, Canadian Press)

Habs/Lightning, Fishing For Sharks, Time To Lower Standards? And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


Brandon Prust is coming off a career high three point game, notching
one goal and two assists against the Carolina Hurricanes.
 The Montreal Canadiens kick off the second half of this short 2013 season tonight in Tampa Bay as they face the Lightning hoping to earn their second straight victory after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 on Thursday night.

The teams will meet for the second time this season with the Habs winning the first contest 4-3 in shoot-out's back in February.

Brandon Prust is coming off a career high three point night and Carey Price was back to his usual form after two less than stellar outings leading up to the win in Carolina.

With Yannick Weber suffering a lower body injury against the 'Canes and Raphael Diaz still out with a concussion, the Habs have called up defenseman Greg Pateryn from the Hamilton bulldogs.

It has not yet been announced whether Price will be in nets tonight and with the team facing the Panthers tomorrow in Florida it's a safe bet that the starting goalie will get one of the twon nights off. Price has a 7-6-2 lifetime record against the Bolts with no shutouts, a 2.55 GAA and .908 sv%. Budaj has gone 2-1-0 with a 3.37 GAA and .880 sv%, also no shutouts.

In nets for the Lightning will be either Anders Lindback who's start against the habs earlier this season was his only contest against the Canadiens where he posted a 2.77 GAA and .912 sv% in the 4-3 shoot-out loss. Cedrick Desjardins, the former Hab, is the other option who posted a 1.00 GAA and .964 sv% in his only start against his former team, a 4-1 Lightning victory.

Habs And Hockey News

- With the word out that the Habs are potentially interested in making a deal with the Sharks, Fred Poulin weighs in.

- Arik Parnass of Habs Eyes On the Prize asks, "Is it time to lower our standards on Habs greats?".

- With the trade deadline less than a month away, here are some rumors from around the league.


(Photo by Gerry Broome, Associated Press)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Will the Montreal Canadiens go Shark fishing?


erik cole traded to DallasAccording to TSN/ESPN insider Pierre Lebrun, the Montreal Canadiens are looking to add size and gritto an already potent line-up before the NHL trade deadline, which is four weeks away.  Currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference rankings with 32 points in 23 games, the Canadiens will most likely be buyers at the trade deadline compared to last season where they were sellers and finished dead last in the conference.
New Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has already been active this season, trading disgruntled forward Erik Cole and his three-year contract worth $4.5 million annually for impending UFA and former Hab winger Michael Ryder. The transaction freed up much-needed cap space for next season, when the salary cap will drop from $70.2 million to a mere $64.3 million. After four games, Ryder has yet to score his first goal with the Habs, but he has recorded four assists, three of which were on the power play. Bergevin also managed to receive a third-round pick in 2013 in the deal.
The Canadiens now have three 2nd round picks and two 3rd rounders this year which will come in handy when Bergevin is calling the 29 other general managers to improve his already-potent team. With Rene Bourque sidelined by a concussion, the Canadiens are severely lacking size up-front, especially with the soft and lacklustre play of veteran Travis Moen and new acquisition Colby Armstrong. Both players have been invisible for most of the season, and especially last Sunday against the Boston Bruins, recording only a combined 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points in 45 games together.
Brandon Prust, who has been signed to a four-year deal worth $10 million last summer, has been the lone Canadien playing with a physical edge and ready to drop the gloves, even against much bigger opponents like Milan Lucic earlier this week. While Prust is a warrior and great team player, he will need help to keep his inspired play in the playoffs. This is the main reason Bergevin will try to get his team bigger and meaner by adding a power forward and a stay-at-home defenseman who can clear the front of the net and lay big hits.

Ryane Clowe nhl salariesThe problem is that power forwards don’t grow on trees and that when they are made available by their own team, the phone won’t stop ringing. Yet, Sharks’ power forward and impending UFA Ryane Clowe is drawing interest around the NHL, despite his poor play this season. While Clowe plays around 18 minutes every game, he has yet to score a single goal this season, heck Scott Gomez has one more goal than him, and he has recorded only six helpers in 19 games.


Clowe even received a two-game suspension in February for leaving the Sharks bench on a legal line change before initiating an altercation with Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw. After three consecutive seasons with at least 50 points, Clowe’s play regressed last season when he scored 17 goals and added 28 assists for 45 points in 76 games. The 6’2”, 225-lbs, forward is slated to become an UFA at season’s end is making $3.625 million this season.
Clowe would fit perfectly on the Habs’ third line with Lars Eller and rookie Alex Galchenyuk, allowing the youngsters to be creative on the ice and concentrate on scoring goals rather than taking physical abuse in front of the net. Clowe would certainly bring size on the man advantage in front of opposing goalies allowing PK Subban and Andrei Markov to benefit from the increased traffic.
Still, don’t expect the Canadiens to mortgage their future for a rental player unless the price is reasonable, such as a depth player like Yannick Weber and a middle-round draft pick in exchange for Clowe.
Another Sharks player who could interest the Canadiens, is rugged defenseman Douglas Murray. The 6’3”, 245-lbs, rearguard is mostly known for his thunderous bodychecks and his defensive play alongside offensive Dan Boyle. However, this season, Murray has played less and has been mostly paired with young defenseman Justin Braun instead of Boyle. Slated to become an UFA like Clowe, the 32 year-old Swedish blue liner is only making $2.5 million in 2013, which the Bleu Blanc Rouge can easily fit under the salary cap this season, with currently $4,363,433 of room.

Douglas Murray – Fights and hits
The only physical player on the Canadiens blue line this season is Alexei Emelin, with Francis Bouillon and PK Subban laying the occasional hit. Murray’s presence on the blue line would make the Habs tougher to play against and the addition of both Clowe and Murray for the playoffs, depending on the price, would give a few more inches to every Habs player, especially guys like Gionta, Plekanec, Markov and Desharnais.
Do you think the Habs will go Shark fishing? If so, what should they give for the above players?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Montreal Canadiens: Brendan Gallagher A Serious Calder Candidate


Brendan Gallagher for the Calder
The Canadiens might have found the offensive spark plug that they have been lacking in recent years in Brendan Gallagher. The feisty winger, who was selected 147th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, is playing better every game. At just 5’9″, 175-lb (soaked wet), the Edmonton, Alberta native plays like a 6’2”, 220-lb power forward every night. 
Similar to Brad Marchand, one of the most hated Boston Bruins players along with Zdeno Chara, Gallagher is not afraid to drive the net and create scoring chances for his linemates. Recently promoted to the team’s first line alongside sniper Max Pacioretty and playmaker David Desharnais, Gally plays the game with a fearless edge. Like Marchand, the smallish and feisty winger has a “nose for the net” and is blessed with very good hands and an accurate wrist shot.
After recording 44 goals and 33 assists for 77 points in 2011-12 with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, Gallagher made the transition to the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs during the NHL lockout. There, Gally notched 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points in 36 games with the injury-depleted Bulldogs. Invited to the mini-camp prior to the shortened season of 48 games, nobody thought Gallagher would make the team and play such a major role for the Eastern Conference leaders.
A healthy scratch the first game of the season, Gallagher made his presence felt on his first shift and recorded an assist in his first NHL game when Michel Therrien decided to insert him in the line-up. He has yet to look back since then. In 18 games this season, the dynamic right winger has scored 6 goals and 7 assists for 13 points in 18 games (he missed three games with a minor concussion), along with a great +12 plus/minus rating. Currently on a three-game scoring streak during which he has recorded 1 goal and 4 assists, Gallagher was a nuisance and a pest against the Big Bad Bruins last night, directly leading to two third-period goals by his linemates leading the Habs to a very important 4-3 win on the road.
Gallagher is currently among the rookie leaders in almost every offensive category being 3rd in goals (6), 6th in assists (7), 3rd in points (13), 1st in +/- (+12),  6th in penalty minutes (19), 1st in game-winning goals (2), while being 43rd in time of ice per game (12:11 – minimum 8 games played)! Since being paired with Desharnais and Pacioretty, Gallagher’s ice time has increased to a little under 15 minutes per game which should translate to a much better offensive production until the end of season, giving him a real chance at winning the Calder Trophy awarded to the best rookie in the NHL.
Great to see how much montreal fans love hockey, they had the bell center rocking! #NoFansLikeHabsFans17/1/2013 via web @BGALLY17
Brendan Gallagher
But the young man contributes more to the team than points in a sheet of paper: he is getting very adept at getting under his opponents’ skin just like Brad Marchand does with the Bruins. The 5’9”, 185-lb left winger is not only a super-pest, he can also score goals in bunches. This season, Marchand has already 11 goals and 6 assists for 17 points in only 18 contests, after potting 28 goals and 55 points last season with Boston. If Gallagher can continue to play with an edge like Marchand while filling the back of the net, the Canadiens will have a precious gem in their hands for years to come.
Gallagher’s first NHL goal against the New Jersey Devils
Gallagher is a competitor, the kind of player Michel Therrien dreams about, because he knows that the youngster will give his 100% every shift, just like Brandon Prust, because of his great work ethic, his undervalued two-way game and his offensive prowesses. Gally11′s hard-edged, yet clean game is inspiring all his teammates, and it explains why the Canadiens are first in the conference and not last like in 2011-12.  Compared to last season, the Habs don’t give up when they trail in games, as shown Saturday and Sunday against two Eastern Conference powerhouses when they managed to mount two comebacks, even though they lost in overtime against the Penguins.
Quickly becoming a fan-favorite in Montreal, Gallagher leads by example on the ice and is proving that you can be successful in the NHL by playing a clean, hard-nosed game despite a marked disadvantage in stature. His exemplary style of play and extraordinary talent could very well mean he becomes the first Montreal Canadiens rookie to earn the Calder Trophy since Ken Dryden earned it in 1971-72, or more than 40 years ago!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Is there a better rivalry than Habs vs Bruins?



Photo: Linked from habstalkradio.com
Greetings Habs Addicts!

Last night I watched another classic match-up between the Boston Bruins and our beloved Montreal Canadiens.  The game had it all: Scoring, fighting, hitting, lead changes and edge of your seat dramatics down to the very end.  Habs prevailed 4-3.  That evens the season series at one win apiece and goals are 5-5 over the two games.   With Boston coach Claude Julien crying foul after the game about Montreal players diving around and drawing penalties, I expect the intensity level will be through the roof on March 27 when they renew acquaintances.  It will be another closely contested game in what I deem is the greatest hockey rivalry.

Sure, the Toronto Maple Leafs are rivals.  Ontario vs Quebec. English Canada vs French Canada. Toronto vs Montreal. Without a shadow of a doubt its Canada’s biggest rivalry. Two original six franchises; the faces of hockey in Canada prior to the days of expansion. It was either or back then.  You were pro-Leafs or pro-Canadiens.  Post-expansion however, it has been a different story. It’s always an entertaining series, but very rarely meaningful in the standings.  Up until the 1998-99 season, the Leafs were in the Western Conference with the Habs in the east. Twice a year they matched up.  This rivalry picked up once they became division rivals. And being a born and bred Montrealer now living in Toronto (the self proclaimed hockey capital of the world), it’s my surely favorite rivalry to be a part of.  Great as it is, though. Its not Montreal vs Boston.

It seems these two clubs are always jockeying for position in the standings against one another. If its not a direct battle for conference supremacy like last nights game was, it always has some playoff implications for at least one of the teams involved.  In the last 25 years, these two teams have met in the playoffs 11 times.  Montreal was victorious in only 4 of those series.  Five times they’ve played the full seven games.  That’s just in the last 25 years.  Seven of those years we did not even make the playoffs.  So kids, if it feels like you constantly say 'Montreal always faces Boston in the playoffs!!' you're basically correct. 11 times in 18 playoff seasons we’ve faced Boston in a round. 

History lesson aside, let’s get back to the intangibles.  How many other teams do you as Habs fans loathe? I mean seriously despise?

  • Ottawa Senators? You haven’t been around long enough. Well you have. Just you weren’t very good.
  • Buffalo Sabres? Meh. You’ve always been the little brother of the division.
  • New York Rangers?  Detroit Red Wings? Chicago Blackhawks? Maybe back in the early days of the NHL.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs? Touched on them already.
  • Boston Bruins? *#*&$% the *#*$@&* Bruins!!!


Some highlights of this classic rivalry include:


Too much has happened over the years for this rivalry not to be considered hockey’s best. Sorry Chicago-Detroit, Ottawa-Toronto, New York-New Jersey, Pittsburgh-Philadelphia or Calgary-Edmonton.  You just don’t have the history behind you.  Montreal and Boston have met 33 times for 170 games in the NHL playoffs.  That’s 10 more times and 53 more games than the next closest NHL playoff rivalry (Detroit-Toronto). Eight times they’ve played a series-deciding game seven. And my favorite stat, which I saw on the telecast last night: Montreal is 7-0 vs Boston in Stanley Cup Finals.  Suck on that, Bruins fans.

What’s your favorite Habs-Bruins memory?


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Habs/Penguins Explode For 13 Goals, Tokarski Blanks Monsters And More...

Good Morning Addicts!

Canadiens captain Brian Gionta seems to have found his groove
scoring three goals in his last two games.
The Canadiens may have lost but last night's 7-6 overtime defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins was one hell of a game.

It's never easy to accept a loss when your team scores six goals but there is something comforting in knowing that this team does not give up. When Matt Cooke gave the Penguins a 4-2 lead with just under seven minutes left in the first period it was hard for any Habs fan to remain positive. Therrien's group however didn't stop pushing and with just under one second left in the frame P.K. Subban tied the game just two and a half minutes after captain Brian Gionta brought the Canadiens to within one.

Carey Price did not have his best showing. There's no doubt there were a few goals that he would've liked to have back but no one can expect any goalie in the league to go through a full season - or half in this case - without at least a few off nights.

Price, however, can take comfort in the fact  that his team did not give up on him. It's encouraging for any netminder to know that if they let in a softie or two, the guys in front of him will do all they can to get the W.

Brian Gionta scored twice giving him three goals in his last two games. Previous to his empty net insurance marker against the Leafs on Wednesday, the captain had gone seven games without a goal.

Max Pacioretty extended his point streak to three games with a goal and an assist. Patches has now notched 12 points in his last eight games.

Andrei Markov's assist on David Desharnais' fifth tally of the year marked the first time this season the defender earned a point while not on the powerplay.

Tomas Kaberle finished the night with two assists, two shots and a +3 rating. Let's hope some scouts were in town.

The Habs have now gone ten games in a row in which they've earned at least a point. In that span they have a 7-0-3 record and can regain the top spot in the Eastern conference tonight with a win against the visiting Bruins.

Habs and Hockey News

- Dustin Tokarski who was recently acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Cedrick Desjardins earned his fourth shutout of the year and his first as a Bulldog in Hamilton's 2-0 victory over the Lake Erie Monsters last night.

- With Tyler Seguin and the Bruins in town, here's Andrew Berkshire's comparison between the young Bruin star and the Habs own promising prospect, Alex Galchenyuk.

- Tim Wharnsby breaks down the Habs' recent hot streak.


(Photo by The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Habs/Penguins, Gallagher The Next Marchand And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


Max Pacioretty has tallied eight of his 16 points in his last
six games
The Canadiens host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight hoping to carry over the success they had in February into March. The Canadiens finished February with a 9-2-3 record.

The Habs are also hoping to continue to find success against teams outside of their division. The Habs have absolutely dominated outside of the Northeast with an overwhelmingly impressive 10-0-1. Their sole loss was at the hands of the New York Islanders losing 4-3 in overtime.

Max Pacioretty has been on fire as of late scoring six goals in as many games after being held without a goal through his first ten. Patches has also notched two assists in that span and has become the offensive threat the team had expected and needed him to be.

Michael Ryder should be more effective on the ice now that he's had time to rest and practice with the team since the trade that brought him back to Montreal from Dallas in exhange for Erik Cole.

Rene Bourque and Raphael Diaz will both miss tonight's contest as they are out indefinately with concussions.

Habs And Hockey News

- David O'Connor of Habs Eyes On The Prize has deemed  fiesty Habs forward Brendan Gallagher as the next Brad Marchand.

- The Hamilton Bulldogs have extended their affiliation with the Canadiens for the next three years.

- Is now the right time for NHL realignment?

- Steve Yzerman look back on Canada's 2010 gold medal and looks ahead to Sochi.