Saturday, May 25, 2013

Emelin Out 6 Months, Habs At The 2013 Awards, Future Of The Canadiens And More...

Good Morning Addicts!

Alexei Emelin tore a ligament in his left knee after bouncing off
of Bruins forwards Milan Lucic in April.
When Alexel Emelin tore a ligment in his left knee after a hit on Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic went wrong in April, it became evident just how important the hard hitting Habs defenseman was to the team. The absence of Emelin created a void on the blue line that no other defender on the Habs could fill.

Andrei Markov's play proved that his age and multiple injuries have caught up with him and his play showed that he was less confident on the ice without the protection of his younger, tougher counterpart. Francis Bouillon is well like in Montreal for his heart and willingness to play a much tougher game than his 5'8" 197 lbs frame should allow. Bouillon however doesn't have the bruising effect that Emelin brings to the ice and so the team's lack of size and toughness once again became a  glaring issue.

News came out earlier this week that Emelin's surgery on Friday will keep the Russian blueliner out for six months. This blow will make Marc Bergevin's summer a little more stessful as he will need to find a way to bolster the back end so the Habs can be competitive at the beginning of next season until Emelin returns.

There is no question that regardless of Emelin's injury the team needed to add some size and toughness. What this news means is that it is all the more important now to make changes in the offseason. Douglas Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins will be a UFA at season's end, if the Penguis fail to re-sign him perhaps Bergevin will take a shot at him.

Habs And Hockey News

- Last week I posted an article on Michel Therrien's Jack Adam's snub, here's a piece I wrote over at TheHockeyWriters.com focusing on the Canadiens who did recieve nominations and which ones have a chance at bringing home some hardware at the 2013 NHL awards.

- Robert Rice of HabsEyesOnThePrize.com writes up on six Habs who can shape the future of the club.

- Seeing as how it was the Ottawa Senators who eliminated the Habs from the post season, I figured I would post five reasons the Senators were eliminated from NHL.com. Also, how good did every Habs fan feel last night when Brendan Morrow of the Penguins blatantly kicked the puck in the net for the Pens first goal on their way to their 6-2 victory. I have to admit I would've been quite displeased if the referee's were to have disallowed the goal.


(Photo by Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Michel Therrien Robbed Of Jack Adams Candidacy

Therrien Left Off Of The Jack Adams Ballot


With Michel Therrien not in the running, expect Paul Maclean
of the Ottawa Senators to take home the Jack adams Trophy.
With P.K. Subban named as a finalist for the Norris Trophy, Brendan Gallagher being considered for the Calder as the league's top rookie and Marc Bergevin being what should be a shoe in for the GM of the year it was expected that Michel Therrien would round up the list of Habs nominees as the coach of the year.

Apparently not.

Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks, Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks and Paul "I am the walrus" MacLean of the Ottawa Senators were named as the finalists on Friday for the Jack Adams Trophy as the leagues top coach.

This article is not meant to take away from any of thess bench bosses as they are all deserving of having their work behind the bench recognized.

And Here Are Your Nominees...


Bruce Boudreau, who won the award in 2007-08 with the Washingotn Capitals, worked wonders in Anaheim as he lead the Ducks to the number two seed in the Western conference after having missed the playoffs in 2013. Again, not to take away from his accomplishment but Boudreau had some help along the way from the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan to name a few. Having one of the top lines in the NHL goes a long way in finishing on top and a more than capable one-two punch in goal with Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth wouldn't hurt anybody's chances.

It's hard to argue against Joel Quenneville's nomination after watching his troops start the season by earning points in their first 24 games. That's half of the shortened 2013 season. If the Ducks roster shares Boudreau's credit for his success it's hard to imagine the Hawks finishing anywhere other than first overall even if it was a monkey, Rob Ford or Jacques Martin calling the shots.

Quenneville won the award in 1999-2000 with the St. Louis Blues, so there is no argument that he is a capable coach. I just feel that with a team boasting the likes of Jonathan Toewes, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seasbrook and Duncan Keith as well as Corey Crawford and Ray Emery between the pipes it would be more of a challenge not to finish on top of the league.

Paul Maclean is more than worth of his nomination and will more than likely take home the award. In fact, if Therrien were to be named as a finalist it wouldn't come as a shock if he lost it to MacLean.

The Senators played the majority of their season without their top defenceman in Erik Karlsson, their first line center Jason Spezza and one of the league's top goalies Craig Anderson. The absence of Milan Michalek for 25 games sure didn't help. MacLean however managed to shock the hockey world by leading his injury riddled team to the playoffs as the seventh seed in the Eastern conference.

The Therrien Argument

While it takes more than a stacked roster to find success in the NHL, it seems that finding the success that Therrien managed to get out of his troops with much less to work with than two of the three candidates should've at least earned him a nomination.

The goal here is not to make the Canadiens out to be a group of imcompetant players that would make up the first half of a Mighty Ducks movie before coach Bombay works his magic. The Habs after all do boast one of the league's top defenseman in P.K. Subban. Carey Price played very well in the first three quarters of the season and while Montreal doesn't have the firepower up front to match Chicago or Anaheim, they do have depth and could provide scoring from any line on any given night.

My argument is that Therrien simply had less to work with and with less time. Due to the lockout Therrien was thrown behind the bench of a team that finished 15th in their conference and 28th overall without even having the luxury of a training camp. The lockout came to an end on January sixth and thirteen days later the Habs played their first game.

Therrien had just under two weeks, with no pre-season games, to work with a team that he hadn't coached in ten years. while the lockout effected every player and every coach in the league, MacLean, Boudreau and Quenneville were at least familiar with the teams that were playing for them.

Lars Eller

The most impressive turnaround on the Habs was that of Lars Eller. Before the season was underway, Therrien stated that he was a fan of Lars Eller's and was expecting this year to be a breakout season for the young Dane. After one game, Therrien was not getting the results he wanted and sat Eller for the following two contests. When Eller returned to the ice he never looked back and enjoyed his best season in his young career.

Eller's 30 points were a career high surpassing his previous best of 28 in 2011-12. It should be noted that he reached the 30 point mark despite playing 33 fewer games than he did in the previous year. Eller also brought his +/- from -5 in 2011-12 to a +8 showing that he didn't limit his improvements to only one end of the ice.

The Gally's

While the limited minutes given to the Canadien's top prospects infuriated many fans in Habs nation it didn't seem to stunt their growth as players. Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk each finished third and fifth respectively in rookie scoring, second and sixth in goals scored, fifth and fourth in +/- and yet their average ice time of 13:51 and 12:19 placed them 12th and 24th among rookie forwards with at least ten games played.

In a city that applies too much pressure on any promising prospect and an organization that has mishandled their fair share, Therrien found a way to get the most out of the young stud's without putting the pressure of top line minutes on them. Placing them on a line with a character player and well respected leader in the dressing room in Brandon Prust in the beginning of the season seemed to pay dividends as they gained confidence early on and never looked back.


And The Winner Is...

Paul MacLean.

I will not change my mind in my argument that Therrien was unfairly snubbed of a nomination he deserved. However, even if he was a candidate I wouldn't be too upset if he lost to Paul MacLean after what the Ottawa bench boss managed to pull of this season in the nation's capital.

If the choice was yours, who would be your top three finalists and who would take home the hardware?


(Photo from http://wildlifeanimalz.blogspot.ca/2012/12/Walrus-Wild-Animal.html)

Gally/Kristo Play for Bronze As Diaz Goes For Gold, Nygren Officially Signs With Habs And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


Habs defenseman Raphael Diaz (left) goes for gold today at
the WHC as his Swiss team takes on Sweden.
 Alex Galchenyuk and Danny Kristo may not have finished the World Hockey Championships with gold medals as they ould have liked, but the two Montreal Canadiens are on their way to bronze medals as the Americans are currently up 2-0 over the Finns with less than five minutes to go in the second period.

Galchenyuk, who joined the tournament after the Habs were eliminated from the NHL playoffs, has so far notched one goal in four games and a -2 rating. Danny Kristo played in all nine games for the Americans and came into the bronze medal game with one goal, two assists and a -1 rating.

Raphael Diaz, who also joined the tournament late has one game left this afternoon as his undefeated Swiss team will take on Sweden for the gold medal. Switzerland beat Sweden 3-2 earlier in the tournament on their way to a 9-0 record leading up to this afternoon's final.

Diaz has an even plus/minus rating in his three games played and one assist.

Habs And Hockey News

- With year one in the books as the Habs new GM, Marc Bergevin looks forward to continuing his mission of turning the Montreal Canadiens into a winning team.

- Here are Eldon MacDonald of The Hockey Writers 2013 NHL Draft rankings for picks 31 through 60.

- Magnus Nygren has officially signed with the Montreal Canadiens.


(Photo by Petr David Josek/Associated Press)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Habs at the Worlds, Prospects At The Memorial Cup, Gallagher For The Calder And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


Alex Galchenyuk celebrates his goal against
Russia in USA's 8-3 win on Thursday.
 The Montreal Canadiens may have started their off season earlier than they had hoped but there are still a few Habs who have yet to hang up their skates for the summer.

Alex Galchenyuk scored what provd to be the game winner for Team USA in the World Hockey Championships on Thursday as the Americans rolled over Russia 8-3.

Raphael Diaz notched an assist on Switzerlands game winner in their 2-1 win over the Czech Republic that same day. Tomas Plekanec had an assist on the Czech's only goal.

Galchenyuk and the Americans will face Diaz and the Swiss this afternoon at 1:00 pm with the winner advancing to the final against Sweden as the Swedes shutout Finland 2-0 this morning. The loser of today's match up will play Finland for Bronze.

Habs And Hockey News

- A pair of Habs defensive prospects lost in their 2013 Memorial Cup debut. Dalton Thrower and Darren Dietz of the Saskatoon Blades fell 3-2 to the London Knights in the tournament opener.

- While it may be a shock that Habs coach Michel Therrien was left off the ballot for the Jack Adams Trophy, here's a reminder as to why Brendan Gallagher should come home with the Calder Trophy.

- Pat Hickey of the Gazette writes up on something that has been true for too long now as he points out that the Habs need to get bigger.


(Photo by Martti Kainulainen/Associated Press)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Canadiens "Have Faith In Carey Price", But...

During his post-mortem press conference, Canadiens' General Manager Marc Bergevin expressed the organization's "faith" in the professionalism and ability of their 2005 fifth overall pick, goaltender Carey Price. However, is Bergevin really expressing the team's feelings, or are they genuinely concerned about the future of their number one goaltender?

The latter may be closer to the truth than meets the eye. While the lockout that threatened this season kept many players off the ice, Price was in Tri-Cities, working out with his former Western Hockey League junior team, the Americans. While we can all assume that Carey's father, and Americans' assistant coach, Dan Price, kept a close eye on his son's work ethic, the workouts pale in comparison to the National Hockey League's workout regiment.

The groin injury sustained by Price (hidden by the team, but not to the fans) in the scrimmage at the Bell Centre on January 17th leads us to believe he was nowhere near the shape he was in going into the 2011-2012 season, where he gained 15 pounds of muscle and looked as limber as ever.

Many question why Price didn't choose to go the Europe and play with any number of teams who were interested in his services. Wouldn't he have been better served playing at a more competitive level than simply working out with a junior team? The skill may not be anywhere near that of the NHL, but it is certainly better than anything a junior team could offer.

That concerns the Canadiens, who will be monitoring Price's off-season workout regiment much more closely than the previous year, where the expiration of the NHL collective bargaining agreement restricted the interaction they could have with the players under contract to the organization.

This off-season will be telling as to the commitment to excellence Price has, and whether it falls within the expectations of the Montreal Canadiens. Marc Bergevin must assess his team and make many difficult but necessary decisions, including the plight of Tomas Kaberle, Tomas Plekanec and others.

Bergevin, although he has resigned Petr Budaj for another two seasons in Montreal, may look for an experienced backup, much like Pittsburgh did in signing Tomas Vokoun to insulate Marc-Andre Fleury. Although Budaj definitely deserved an extension, the team's need for veteran mentoring for Price may just make Budaj expendable in the grand scheme of things.

At the end of it all, everything falls into Carey Price's lap once again. Can he be the consummate professional and deliver elite-level goaltending performances, or will he force the Habs to rethink the goaltending position?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gregson To Blame For Officiating Issues

Officiating has become a focal point in this NHL season. From terrible calls to referees putting away their whistles, media and fans alike have clamored that there are significant issues that are affecting the overall quality of the product on the ice.

We can point fingers at individual officials, such as Tim Peel and Chris Lee, who time and time again have demonstrated levels of competency that one can find at the bottom of a commode. Others, like Paul Devorski and Dan O'Hallaran, have shown an innate inability to keep control of overly physical contests, often resembling zebras frozen stiff as they wait to be pounced on by a hungry lion.

Gone are the likes of Bruce Hood, Brian Lewis, Kerry Fraser, Andy Van Hellemond and Don Koharski, whose ability to get along with players and coaches was among their strongest assets.

Van Hellemond's reputation earned him the position of NHL Director of Officiating from 2000-2004, a position he took over from Lewis. Van Hellemond resigned in 2004 to pursue other interests when the year-long NHL lockout seemed inevitable. During his tenure, the NHL was rich with referees who thought themselves smaller than the game (although one could argue that Mick McGough was the exception).

After the lockout ended, the NHL introduced a new set of rules and a new Director of Officiating, that being Stephen Walkom. Walkom was another well-respected official, who decided to move his career in another direction. Walkom did an admirable job in extremely volatile circumstances. His overseeing of the new obstruction rules introduced after the lockout was a daunting task, and he did a good job making sure they were enforced.

However, as scrutiny began to grow as officials began changing their modus operandi in the playoffs, Walkom decided in 2009 it was in his best interest to return to the ice as an official.

That opened the door to the crux of the current officiating dilemma, the hiring of former NHL referee Terry Gregson on September 9th, 2009.

Gregson served as an NHL referee from 1981 to 2004. He officiated over 8 Stanley Cup finals in his career, as well as an All-Star Game, and the World Cup of Hockey in 1996. He built a reputation of being a no-nonsense official, who called the game HIS way.

His way, however, mimicked the inconsistency we currently see in the league. Gregson was notorious of putting away his whistle very often at the end of games. Further, he was loathed by some NHL coaches because of an obvious bias he had towards certain organizations, including the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres.

That became evident during the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, when Gregson didn't show the intestinal fortitude to disallow the now infamous toe-in-the-crease, Stanley Cup winning goal by Dallas Stars' sniper Brett Hull.

Gregson retired before the new set of rules, designed to speed up the game and increase flow, were implemented by the National Hockey League. Often viewed as a stubborn coot as an on-ice official, that is evident in his current disregard for rule enforcement. He has allowed his wards to run their assigned games their way, in turn soiling the product on the ice and confusing those closest to the game.

In four years, Terry Gregson has certainly left an in-admirable stench over the National Hockey League. Hopefully, the NHL Board of Directors, Gary Bettman and the league office will see the light, and do what Gregson couldn't...

Make the right call!!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Can Habs Afford Players With Too Much Edge?

On Thursday night, after the Canadiens were eliminated by the Ottawa Senators, I took up my customary spot in the production booth for the final post-game show on MontrealHockeyTalk.com.

During that show, Simon Tsalikis of TSN 690 questioned why the Habs didn't go after a play like Raffi Torres at the trade deadline to bolster their physical game. I took exception during the show, and voiced my displeasure of entertaining the notion of having Torres wearing the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

I don't have anything against tough players. I loved former Habs like Chris "Knuckles" Nilan, Lyle Odelein and Todd Ewen (to name a few) who could be physical, yet brought some game along with their truculence. They are the type of players this team needs moving forward, in order to compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and possibly make a run at hockey's Holy Grail.

However, players in the mold of Torres, along with Matt Cooke and to a certain extent Ryan White, are example of players who have not distinguished the fine line between physicality and borderline recklessness.

Last night was a prime example, where in the second round opener between the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks, Torres took a run at Kings' forward Jared Stoll. Torres hit Stoll from the blind side, making the head to principle point of contact, while Stoll was reaching for a puck.


 
 
I don't have an issue with the play itself, but like the Erik Gryba hit on Canadiens' forward Lars Eller, there was no need to cut to the front of the player, and take an unnecessary risk of putting your team on the penalty kill. If Torres, like Gryba, would have hit Stoll on his lead shoulder (the one facing the direction Torres was coming from), my point would be moot.

Hitting was introduced to hockey as a way to separate an opposing player from the puck, not his head from his body. Players are taught at a young age that body checking should target the lead shoulder, the middle of an opposing player's chest or the hip.

Of course, in the professional ranks, selling the game has become more important than protecting its assets. Fans love a good open ice hit, that not only rattles the receiving player, but those watching from the stands as well.

Players like Torres and Cooke have deprived fans of talents like the Penguins' Sidney Crosby, Chicago's Marion Hossa and Bruins' forward Marc Savard, because they believe their jobs are to remove a player from competition, not simply make them pay physically for having the puck.
 

 
 
As a team in the process of reestablishing its franchise identity, am I certain that, to a man, the Canadiens' brass most certainly wants to address the need for more size and physicality on their current roster. However, I find it disconcerting that fans clamor for players that play with reckless abandon, without any concern for their opponents or the repercussions for their respective organizations.
 
Sure, we all love the acquisition of a player like Brandon Prust, who not only bring character and a physical game, but he has above-average hockey sense for a player whose primary role has always been to bring energy and help with special teams. That said, there is a point that I, and I believe the Canadiens, simply do not want to cross.
 
Ask yourselves: Would you prefer the Canadiens draft a young, physical player, that can mold into the type of player the organization needs, or would you prefer dealing with the track record of the aforementioned perennial judgmentally challenged?
 
I think you can all guess what my answer would be...
 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Now That The Bitterness Has Subsided... (Season Review)

Greetings Habs Addicts!

Its been a few weeks since I was last able to write here, aside from some comments on other posts.  The series against the Ottawa Senators did not go as we all would have hoped. Instead of moving on to the next round, we were soundly beaten in five games, including two 6-1 defeats.  In a season that started strongly, it ended on sour notes. Seemingly from the moment the Habs clinched a playoff berth, they eased off the gas peddle and rolled into the playoffs in neutral.  When they had to hit the gas again, they stalled. And now the magical 2013 season has come to a close.

Today, Marc Bergevin had his season-closing press conference.  Bergevin spoke highly of Brendan Gallagher and PK Subban, voiced his satisfaction in the job Michel Therrien and the rest of the coaching staff did and also backed his struggling goaltender 150%. Bergevin was very impressive, answering all the questions candidly without resorting to notes.  A very engaging press conference to say the least.

Now that the bitterness of the playoff exit has subsided, its time to begin the analysis of what went right and wrong for the Habs.  I will not spend too much time on the playoff exit, as its fresh on our minds and we know what went wrong:  We were drastically outplayed in goal by Craig Anderson.  The Habs managed to out-shoot and out-perform the Senators, only to face a brick wall in the form of Anderson. 


What Went Right?

- The rookies provided a spark.  Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk were not guaranteed roster spots at the start of the season.  Not only did both players stick with the team, they both provided consistent energy and a spark.  Paired up with new acquisition Brandon Prust, the Gally-Gally-Prusty trio helped the team to the fast start they enjoyed at the beginning of the season.  For the year, Gallagher finished with 15 goals, 28 points and a +10 rating in 44 games.  Gallagher was also nominated for the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year. Galchenyuk slumped briefly in the middle of the season before finishing strong. His final total was 9 goals, 27 points and a +14 rating in the full 48 games.

- Defenceman P.K. Subban was a contract holdout at the start of the season.  After signing a two-year pact, he went out and scored 11 goals, 38 points and finished with a +12 rating, while manning the point on the power-play.  He played solid and bought into Therrien's system very quickly.  His performance this year has earned him a nomination for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman.  It also ensures his next contract will put him amongst the highest paid at the position.

- After playing in the KHL during the lockout, veteran Andrei Markov was able to return to playing at a high level.  He managed to play in all 48 games, tallying 10 goals and 30 points.  His defensive play slipped towards the end of the year.  Various reasons could be behind that: age, conditioning after two lost seasons, nagging injuries or the condensed schedule. Losing defensive partner Alexei Emelin seemed to trigger the decline in Markov's performance.

- Backup goaltender Petr Budaj was outstanding in his role.  Budaj filled in admirably when Price missed a few games after a bout with the flu and gave the Habs a spark and a fighting chance to win each game he played in.  His highlight performance was in relief of Carey Price against the Boston Bruins on March 27th. Budaj stopped every shot he faced in overtime and the shootout as the Habs came back to stun the Bruins 6-5 in a battle for first place in the division. Budaj finished the season with an 8-1-1 record, to go along with a 2.21 Goals-Against-Average (GAA) and a .908 save percentage (SV%).  His season earned him a two-year contract extension.

- Also of note, forward Brandon Prust proved to be a bargain after signing with the Habs during the off-season.  Prust brought leadership, grit and an unexpected scoring punch to go along with his actual punch. Something the Habs sorely lacked up from.  Prusty finished the year with 5 goals, 14 points, 100 penalty minutes and a very surprising +11 rating. I posted about Prust earlier this season as being exactly what the Habs needed.  Prust also received the Jacques Beauchamp/Molson Cup trophy as the Habs unheralded MVP.  Forward Lars Eller had a breakout season, continuing his trend of improving his points-per-game ratio.  Until he had his face smashed in during the playoffs, Eller was a force as the second-line center and finished the regular season with 8 goals, 30 points and a +8 rating in 46 games. Youngsters Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn all held their own as call-ups following the injuries to Rafael Diaz and Emelin.  Tinordi was especially solid providing a physical presence in the playoff series against the Ottawa Senators.


What Went Wrong?

- Up front, Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais failed to carry on the success they had in 2011/12.  Linemate Eric Cole underperformed and was eventually dumped on the Dallas Stars in a trade that reunited Michael Ryder with the team he broke into the NHL with. While the traded can be viewed as a success (Ryder had 10 goals, 21 points in 27 games as a Hab) and also helped by freeing up salary-cap room for next season, Desharnais failed to perform after signing a 4-year contract extension.  Desharnais followed up his 60-point breakout season with a lousy 10 goals, 28 points in 48 games.  He was seemingly invisible most nights, both on the ice and on the score sheet.  One might consider that extension the first bad move of Bergevin's tenure.  Pacioretty did lead the team in scoring, with 15 goals, 39 points in 44 games but did not have the same crease-crashing ability he displayed last year, instead developed into a perimeter player.

- In goal, Carey Price started off the season very strong and was in the early talk for the Vezina Trophy before tailing off towards the end.  He was pulled in back to back games late in the season and while he did have a stellar 21-13-4 record, his 2.59 GAA and .905 SV% did not rank in the top-25 at the position.  Price did nothing to silence his critics in the playoffs, finishing the Ottawa series with a 1-2 record to go along with a 3.26 GAA and .894 SV%.  Price was also injured late in game 4, leaving a tied game that Ottawa eventually won. After signing a 6-year, 39 million dollar extension, more was expected from the franchise netminder.  Price also opened up the debate as to whether or not he wishes to remain a Hab in his post-season remarks about the pressure of the Montreal market.

- Injuries to key contributors were a challenge the Habs faced this season.  Both Rene Bourque and Rafael Diaz missed significant time with concussions and forced the Habs to juggle the lineup.  Bourque contributed 7 goals, 13 pts in 27 games and Diaz added 1 goal and 14 points in his 23 games played. Defenceman Alexei Emelin was leading the team in hits and providing a solid physical presence on the blue-line before suffering a horrible knee injury in an April game against the Boston Bruins.  Emelin suffered a torn ACL and his status for the start of the 2013/14 season is in question.

- Forwards Travis Moen, Colby Armstrong and Ryan White were supposed to provide a physical presence and bring some size to the lineup.  Both Moen and Armstrong were disappointments, contributing 6 and 5 points, respectively. Moen did so in 45 games; Armstrong 37 games.  White did provide a physical presence, but poor decision making and an inability early on to keep his emotions in check earned him a spot in Therrien's doghouse and costly penalties hurt the Habs games against the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo SabresTomas Kaberle and Yannick Weber spent most of their seasons in the press-box as healthy scratches and neither seems to have a future with the organization.  Kaberle should be the Habs second amnesty buy-out after Scott Gomez was waived-goodbye prior to the start of the season.


Overall, the Canadiens as a team finished second in the Eastern Conference and won the North-East division with a 29-14-5 record, good for 63 points.  Coming off a dismal 15th play finish in the East last year and expected only to challenge for a playoff spot by most critics and hockey experts leading up to the season, the Habs surprised everyone.  Marc Bergevin's regime reignited the passion that was lacking, both on the ice and in the stands after last season and the 'No Excuses' motto came to define the squad.  With all the positives to build on, and a strong farm system to feed off of, Bergevin has the team in a good position to become a force in the NHL.  With 6 draft picks in the first 3 rounds of what is expected to be a very deep NHL entry draft, the future looks even brighter.  Even after losing in the first round to the 'underdog' Ottawa Senators, the 2013 season can only be looked at as a success.


Why Brendan Gallagher should Win The Calder Trophy



Will The Canadiens Have Their First Calder Trophy Winner Since Ken Dryden In 71-72?

After being a healthy scratch in the Montreal Canadiens season opener, rookie Brendan Gallagher fought his way onto the roster with his fiesty character and hard work and never looked back.

In a season that had a healthy crop of Calder Trophy candidates including Nail Yakupov, the first overall pick in the 2012 draft, and Gallagher's teammate Alex Galchenyuk (picked third overall in 2012), Brendan Gallagher should be the safe bet to take home the Calder Trophy. Habs' Brendan Gallagher finished his rookie campaign with 15 goals and 13 helpers to go with a +10 rating.

Being a Hab fan myself I can see how some may say I'm biased. The truth of the matter however, is that Gallagher brought more to his team than his fellow nominees.

Gallagher's Calder Competition

In no way am I trying to take away from either Brandon Saad or Jonathan Huberdeau. Both rookies displayed tremendous talent and have bright futures ahead of them in the NHL.

Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks finished fourth among rookies in scoring with 27 points in 46 games and first among first year players with a +17 rating. Saad averaged 16:27 minutes of ice time per game (third among rookie forwards) on a President's Trophy winning team that boasts the likes of Jonathan Toewes, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick sharp just to name a few.

Nobody is doubting that Saad is one of the top rookies in the NHL, but the cast he plays alongside certainly doesn't hurt his development. It's hard to imagine the Blackhawks suffering too much in the standings without Saad in the line-up.

Jonathan Huberdeau is one heck of a player and undoubtedly has a promising future ahead of him. Out of the three finalists for the Calder Trophy, Huberdeau is though of by many to be the best in the longrun. Huberdeau finished his season tied in first with Edmonton Oilers prospect Nail Yakupov for points among rookies with 31 points in 41 games. His 14 goals put him third behind only Yakupov and Gallagher.

Huberdeau's -15 rating is nothing to write home about but when you average16:55 minutes per game - unmatched by any other rookie forward - on the lowly Florida Panthers (the Panthers finished 30th overall) it would be asking a little much for a top quality plus/minus rating.

While he didn't have the roster that Saad had to play alongside, Huberdeau's stellar introduction into the NHL did little for his team overall.

Head Of The Class

And now for Gallagher...

Montreal's nominee for the Calder, the (expletive) disturbing fireball with a pesky smile that 90% of the league wants to slap right off of his face, managed to have an incredibly impressive season with less to work with.

Gallagher managed to finish third among rookie scorers with 28 points in 44 games, his 15 games had him behind only Nail Yakupov and his +10 rating was good enough for fifth among rookie skaters. Gallagher pulled those numbers off on a team that doesn't come close to matching the linemates Saad played. Not to mention if Gallagher took the season off, it would be a safe bet that the Canadiens would not have won their division, jumped to second overall in the East and eased their way into the post season after finishing last place in the Eastern Conference the previous year.

Huberdeau also lacked the all star support that Saad enjoyed but was unable to help his team rise in the standings. And unlike Huberdeau, Gallagher saw an average of only 13:51 minutes per game which would put him 13th among rookie forwards who've played at least ten games.

A Quick Recap

While Saad, Huberdeau and Gallagher all enjoyed stellar seasons, Gallagher brought the most to his team while having less to work with in terms of support (Saad and his first place Hawks) and time on ice (Huberdeau and his top sik minutes).

To simplify things if the three candidates were to have sat out the season the Hawks would win their conference still and - probably the President's trophy - and the Panthers would more than likely remain in the basement....no changes there.

The Habs however would be hard pressed to make the playoffs let alone win their division and keep up at the Penguins pace for the better part of the season.

There is no doubt in my mind that the stats Gallagher managed to put up with minimal ice time on a team that had no business succeeding as much as they did should be enough to earn Brendan Gallager the 2013 Calder Trophy.

(Photo By Ryan Remiorz , The Canadian Press)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Vokoun Good-Fleury Bad, Habs Not Too Small? And More...

Good Morning Addicts!


Tomas Vokoun has backstopped the Penguins to the second
round after replacing Mar-Andre Fleury in goal.
 First off I would like to wish a happy Mother's Day to any and all of our readers who happen to be mothers!

And now to hockey. When the playoffs began, the one series I had no real intention of following was that of the Pittsburgh Penguins taking on the New York Islanders. I know that having two teams with high flying offense has a lot of potential of being quite entertaining, but at the same time when it seems one team will just roll through another in four games a lot is taken away from the excitement of it.

The one thing that made me believe in the back of my mind that John Tavares and company could possibly upset the Penguins was the fact that Marc-Andre Fleury was  in goal. Sure enough, after four games the series was tied thanks in large part to Mr. Fleury. Not to take away from the Islanders, it's just that I have no faith whatsoever in Pittsburgh's goalie.

The difference between last years early exit at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers and their win over the pesky Islanders was Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun started game five and earned a shutout in the Penguins 4-0 victory over the Islanders. The Penguins back up was again called upon in last night's game and his 35 save performance earned his team a spot in the second round with a 4-3 overtime win.

With the win the Penguins will face the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. As long as Dan Bylsma sticks with Vokoun against the Sens the Penguins will more than likely find themselves playing in the Eastern Conference finals soon enough.

My prediction?

Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Iginla, Kunitz, Letang and Vokoun over Anderson and a non 100% Karlsson in five.


Habs And Hockey News

- With their post season cut short, the Canadiens revealed to the media just how injured their roster was in their series against the Sens. With a list including a concussion, seperated ribs and shoulders and sprained MCL's it's hard to imagine the Habs would've went too far had they defeated the Senators.

- As disappointing as the Habs first round exit was, fans in Montreal have plenty of reason to be optimistic heading into next season.

- Andrew Berkshire @AndrewBerkshire argues that the Habs are not too small, an argument that is not often heard.


(Photo by Jason Cohn/Reuters)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Price vs. Budaj, Prust Is A Warrior, Halak Has The Blues And More...

Good Morning Addicts!

Would the Canadiens have made it past the first round with
Peter Budaj as their starter?
I have to say, I haven't been looking forward to putting up today's news and links as it's the first time I am doing so since the Ottawa Senators sent the Habs packing last Thursday night.

The Montreal Canadiens enjoyed a surprisingly successful season finishing second in the Eastern conference after ending up in the basement at the end of the 2011-12 campaign. It's this amazing turnaround that had Montreal fans hoping and expecting the Canadiens to make a deep playoff run.

Instead the Habs lost defenseman Alexei Emelin in the final stretch of the season and things ent downhill from there. It's pretty typical for any fanbase to blame injuries on their team's early exit and so I am not trying to sing that song. The fact of the matter however is that with Emelin out, followed by captain Brian Gionta, Lars Eller, Brandon Prust and Ryan White the Habs were put to the test. A test which they ultimately failed.

As if those injuries weren't enough, goaltender Carey Price injured himself at the end of game four causing him to sit for game five as the Senators handed the Habs a 6-1 beating for the second time in the playoffs ultimately ending the Canadiens playoff run.

It wouldn't be Montreal without a debate over whether or not it was our goalie's fault. Its funny how so many people forget how good Price was to help the team win the Northeast division. Instead they remember his less than impressive overall performance in the final ten games of the season and first round of the playoffs.

I understand that in the big picture it's the playoffs that count, it just get's tiring to always have Price be bashed for the team's failure. The injuries did not help.

So before putting all the blame on Price and making ridiculous claims such as "Peter Budaj would've got us to the second round", take a look at Coach K's perspective on the goaltending debate in Montreal.

Habs And Hockey News

- It's no secret that the Habs need to get tougher to find success in the future, but this article by Dave Stubbs shows that acquiring Brandon Prust last year was a giant step in the right direction.

 - Speaking of goaltendending controversies, it seems former Montreal Saviour Jaroslav Halak may be on his way out of St. Louis.

- Shawn Reznik of TheHockeyWriters.com takes a look at Justin Bailey in his 2013 NHL Draft Prospect Profile.


(Photo by Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Putting Price vs. Budaj Debate To Rest

For weeks, on this very site, some "Anonymous" reader has left comments in an attempt to discredit Carey Price and anoint Peter Budaj as the Canadiens' playoff savior.

Instead of deleting or blocking this reader, who we really do appreciate, we at HabsAddict.com decided to fight back, in an attempt to finally put this unfair notion to rest.

When looking at Carey Price's numbers in the playoffs between 2008 and today, his won/lost record leaves much to be desired (9-17), which gives him a 0.346 winning percentage. That being said, the Montreal Canadiens have played 46 games in the playoffs since Price's arrival in Montreal. The Habs have an 18-28 record and a 0.391 winning percentage.

Detractors may look at those statistics and say, "So what? Halak took us further in the playoffs!"

On the surface they may be right, but in 19 playoff games that Price didn't play in 2009-2010, when Jaroslav Halak backstopped the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals, the Habs went 9-9-1, giving them a .526 winning percentage.

When you look more in-depth, "Les Glorieux"  scored 46 goals in the 2009-2010 playoff run, while allowing 51 against, giving them a -5 goal differential. Halak's GAA was 2.55 with a goal differential of -1 in 1013 minutes of action.

Bear in mind, Price appeared in 4 games, allowing 2 goals on 23 shots in relief of Halak on April 19th versus the Washington Capitals, 4 on 36 shots in his only start of the playoffs on April 21st, 0 goals on 3 shots against the Pittsburgh Penguins and 2 on 11 shots on May 16th versus the Philadelphia Flyers, again in relief of Halak.

How many did the Habs score while Price was in goal that playoff season? A measly 4 goals in 135 minutes (a -4 goal differential).

Carey Price has allowed a total of 82 goals in 1696 playoff minutes, giving him a .905 save percentage and a career 2.90 Goals Against Average. The Canadiens managed to score a meager 68, giving Price a career goal differential of -14.

Some will look at these numbers and still believe Carey Price isn't the answer to a deep playoff run. Let us add some more stats, just to justify where we are going.

In 2008, Price had a record of 5-6, having beaten the Boston Bruins in a tough, seven game first round series, while allowing 30 goals in 648 minutes. The Canadiens scored 33 goals that playoff year, giving Price a +3 goal differential, a 2.78 GAA and .902 save percentage.

If you do the math, from 2009 to today, Price has allowed 52 goals in 1036 minutes of action, while getting 38 goals in support from his teammates. So, in 23 more minutes than Halak's magical run, Price has received 13 goals less in support, while allowing only 6 more goals that Jaro Halak.

Meanwhile, Peter Budaj has appeared in only 5 playoff games in his career, allowing 4 goals on 71 shots, giving him a .887 save percentage and a 4.00 GAA.

All this to say that Carey Price certainly has average numbers in his playoff journey so far.While some try to discredit him as an athlete and an individual, others like Marc-Andre Fleury and Antti Niemi, both Stanley Cup Champions, have similar career numbers. The difference between the three goalies is that Fleury and Niemi played with some pretty incredible teams in front of them.

Carey Price has played for six season during a decade of Habs' futility. As the future becomes clearer while the Canadiens continue to rebuild their franchise to its former glory, so will the value of a talent like Price. Just think, if Price can have numbers like Fleury and Niemi with sub-par teams supporting him, imagine what his numbers may look like in a few seasons?

The statisics used in this articles were found with the following resources:
NHL.com
hockey-reference.com

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NHL Officials Allowed Too Much Gray

Not only did the Canadiens got jobbed on the goal by Mika Zibinijad in Game 4 versus the Ottawa Senators last night, but I also believe the tying goal by Corey Conacher was just as suspect.

I understand entirely that any reviewed goal is subject to the call made on the ice, and the interpretation by the video review judges in the war room in Toronto, and completely respect the complexity of each individual situation. I do not, however, understand how a professional sports league can function knowing full well that their rules are subject to constant scrutiny.

The Senators' rookie (for those of you who haven't seen it a million times), scored a questionable goal off his skate in the third period last night to get Ottawa within a goal of the Canadiens. The pass, made by Sens' perennial pest Chris Neal, came off the shaft of Jarred Tinordi's stick and then made contact with Zibinijad's skate.

Many think the fact that the puck deflected off Tinordi was the principle reason the goal was allowed are dead wrong.


NHL Rule 49.2 - Goals

Puck directed or batted into the net by a hand or foot. 

With the use of a foot/skate, was a distinct kicking motion evident? If so, the apparent goal must be disallowed. 

A DISTINCT KICKING MOTION is one which, with a pendulum motion, the player propels the puck with his skate into the net. 

If the Video Goal Judge determines that it was put into the net by an attacking player using a distinct kicking motion, it must be ruled NO GOAL. This would also be true even if the puck, after being kicked, deflects off any other player of either team and then into the net. This is still NO GOAL. 

A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal. A puck that is directed into the net by an attacking player’s skate shall be a legitimate goal as long as no distinct kicking motion is evident. 
(i) A kicked puck that deflects off the body of any player of either team (including the goalkeeper) shall be ruled no goal.
(ii) A kicked puck that deflects off the stick of any player (excluding the goalkeeper’s stick) shall be ruled a good goal.
(iii)   A goal will be allowed when an attacking player kicks the puck and the puck deflects off his own stick and then into the net.
The argument is the actual definition of a distinct kicking motion. A pendulum motion requires a player pull their foot back, then thrust forward. On that premise, the Zibinijad goal is allowable. Since when does someone have to pull their foot back to kick forwards?
But this isn't soccer, right? Why are players allowed to score off their skate to begin with. From inception, hockey was designed to be played with a stick. As long as a rule allows for players to score off their feet, the debate will continue to rage on.
A simple adjustment to the rule would clear the air and eliminate the gray. In my own wording, it would read:
A puck that deflects of the hands/feet of a opposing player immediately prior crossing the goal shall be ruled NO GOAL.
If you eliminate goals that can be scored off a player's extremities, the debate is done...PERIOD!!!
On the Conacher goal, both on-ice official missed Kyle Turris applying a chicken wing on Carey Price's goal stick just prior to the goal being scored.
Rule 69.3 - Contact Inside the Goal Crease 
If an attacking player initiates contact with a goalkeeper, incidental or otherwise, while the goalkeeper is in his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
If, after any contact by a goalkeeper who is attempting to establish position in his goal crease, the attacking player does not immediately vacate his current position in the goal crease (i.e. give ground to the goalkeeper), and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed. In all such cases, whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a minor penalty for goalkeeper interference.
If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper’s vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
For this purpose, a player “establishes a significant position within the crease” when, in the Referee’s judgment, his body, or a substantial portion thereof, is within the goal crease for more than an instantaneous period of time.

Not only does Turris impede Price's ability to make the necessary save, but, in my humble opinion as a former goaltender, he is the principle reason why the Canadiens' netminder got hurt on the play. Price's over-extension and inability to push off while having his stick held was obvious.
We've seen Brandon Prust get called for lesser infraction against Senators' goalie, Craig Anderson, in this series alone. Because Price was more preoccupied with stopping the puck than embellishing the contact, does that make it less of a goalie interference penalty?
NHL on-ice officials wore gray shirts back in the day. Maybe they should swap their stripes for those jerseys again, so at least the players and coaches can be reminded about where they stand.



Willey's Look At The Habs Beyond The 2013 Playoffs


BY Bryan Willey - Habsaddict.com (@bryanwilley78)

So this morning my wife wakes up and overhears the score of the Habs-Sens game last night and upon hearing the outcome quickly turns to me and asks if I am upset.
 
I cannot speak for all Habs fans with this, but without hesitation I told her, “No”.

Perhaps it is just my own opinion, but I like to consider myself a knowledgeable hockey fan without bias and with realistic expectations.  I am not one of those band wagon fans who come to life in the playoffs but rather just a regular guy who bleeds Bleu Blanc Rouge, 365 days a year. 

My expectations, you might ask, were realistic yet disappointing as I expected a first round exit in what I thought would be a 6 game series. 

This prediction was made without even knowing  of the injuries to Max Pacioretty, Brian Gionta  and Brandon Prust or that Lars Eller would be lost for the playoffs with his devastating injury of game 1.

You see, there is an old adage in hockey that you need to learn how to lose before you can learn how to win.
 
Perhaps it is nothing but BS but if you take a look at recent victors of Lord Stanley’s Cup and you’d see a Pittsburgh Penguins or Chicago Blackhawks team, to name but two that needed to face playoff disappointment before ultimately hoisting the cup.  With such a history why would I expect the Canadiens to be different?

Hell No. 

Yes we finished second in the Eastern Conference but this team has way too deficiencies  at this stage which need to be improved upon before truly making the next step.

First let’s discuss experience.

In Game 4 of the first round of the 2013 playoffs our lineup consisted of Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, Gabriel Dumont, Jarred Tinordi, Max Pacioretty, and Raphael Diaz who were all disputing their first playoff series.

Add these names to the likes of Ryan White, Rene Bourque, Lars Eller, Colby Armstrong and David Desharnais who are all surprisingly only playing in their 2nd career playoff series.

Think about that for a second.  11 players who suited up for this team in the past 4 games were either playing in their first or second playoff series in their career.

Does this sound like the make-up of a team destined for success this time around?

Then let’s talk about our D-core. 

Our top five defensemen are currently Francis Bouillon, Andrei Markov, PK Subban, Raphael Diaz and Josh Gorges.

Now I do not know about you but when I see this group I see some experience and some very good movers but I also see a list where four of the five players are 6 feet or smaller. With only Gorges coming in at 6’1. 

I also see a gaping hole with the loss of the 6’3, 220 lbs. Alexei Emelin.  There were numerous complaints about him this season but Alexei Emelin I might point out is our biggest, meanest, hardest hitting and one of the leading shots blockers. 

Did fans really expect to see a level of success in a playoff battle of attrition missing this key element?

We need to be realistic here guys and girls, the Montreal Canadiens are on the right track but this was not our year. We cannot let the success of the regular season blind us, because we are not ready to make that next step, yet.

However as each of you read this piece, I don’t want you to leave with a sense of ill will or negativity because this team is on the verge of something bigger.

Yes we are down 3-1 and yes I still believe that this team will put up a fight for game 6 and maybe even game 7 but my optimism is what will be in 2013-14.

I salivate at the thought of a blue line patrolled by Jarred Tinordi, PK Subban, Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu et al.

I drool as I envision a more experienced Galchenyuk, Eller and Gallagher or a playoff battle with a healthy Prust, Pacioretty or the Emelin #Boom.

Be wary Eastern Conference, the Habs are coming !!!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Playoff Preview: Canadiens Vs Senators (Round 1, Game 4)


Match-Up:
After a disastrous Game 3, the Canadiens will look to bounce back Tuesday when they face the Senators for the second time in Ottawa. The game is set to start at 7:00 and can be seen on RDS and CBC.

The Habs and Sens combined for 236 penalty minutes in Game 3, including 152 minutes doled out during a brawl that saw five Habs square off with five Sens at around the 7 minute mark in the third. For a series between two teams that didn’t have much of a rivalry going into it, things have certainly gotten heated. It looks like the series will continue the same way, both teams have a serious hate on for each other and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon.
What to Watch:
Carey Price had a rough night on Sunday, allowing 6 goals on 30 shots. Price was left in nets throughout the third period despite having to backstop a team that had clearly given up on the game.

Down 4-1 in the third the Habs were clearly frustrated which resulted in an all out brawl moments after the fourth Sens goal. The Habs will need to get their emotions under control, which won’t be easy considering Paul MacLean’s decision to call a timeout with 17 seconds left in a game that was essentially over.
Ottawa rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his first playoff goal on Sunday, and then followed it up with his second and his third. Pageau also became yet another played to lose a tooth in this series, joining Craig Anderson and Carey Price in that department.


What’s at Stake:
The Canadiens aren’t in do or die territory just yet, but a loss on Tuesday would give the Senators a real chokehold on the series. If the Habs can manage a win in Ottawa, they’ll not only even up the series, they’ll regain home ice advantage in the process.

Who’s Out:
The Habs are missing Lars Eller (head) and Alexei Emelin (knee). Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty both missed Game 2 but were back in action Sunday.

Patrick Wiercioch left Game 3 with a lower body injury and won’t be back for Tuesday’s match. Eric Gryba will likely fill in for Wiercioch now that his suspension is over. Jason Spezza (back) is also out.
What Else:

The Calder Trophy nominees were announced on Monday and Brendan Gallagher got a nod along with Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau and Chicago’s Brandon Saad. The nomination could be the first of many for the Habs, with PK Subban a likely candidate for the Norris, Michel Therrien for the Jack Adams and Andrei Markov who could very well be the second straight Canadien to win the Masterton Trophy.

The Question Mark:
After Sunday’s undisciplined loss, if you were coaching the Habs what would your message to the team be before Game 4?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below or tell us on Twitter by using the #MTLHockey hashtag.
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. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sens Pummel Habs, Gallagher Up For Calder, More...

Greetings Habs Addicts!!!

After what seemed to be a promising 4-1 victory by the Canadiens in Game 2 on Friday at the Bell Centre, they were thoroughly embarrassed by the Ottawa Senators 6-1 in front of a sellout crowd at ScotiaBank Place last night.

The Sens Army came out in force, physically imposing themselves early in the first period, hammering the Habs with a barrage of hits that they were never able to recover from.

Sens' rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau, with a little help from the playoff tooth fairy, led the Sens with his first career playoff hat trick. Craig Anderson was solid in front of the Ottawa goal, although he went mostly untested by anything the Canadiens sent his way.

Senators' coach Paul MacLean certainly provided the Habs with enough bullitin board material to perhaps awaken them from their Game 3 stupor, especially with his attempt to take a timeout with 17.9 seconds left in the third period and the game all but done.

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun gives us his take on the pounding the Senators gave the Habs.

Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette drubbing in Ottawa, from a Montreal perspective.
give us his take on the

The National Hockey League announced the finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top rookie this season. Among the finalists in Habs' diminiative right winger, and perennial spark plug Brendan Gallagher.


Habs' Veteran Leadership Non-Existant

In three playoff games so far this year, the Montreal Canadiens have blown hot and cold. Their Game 1 loss
at the hands of the Ottawa Senators was a testament to the fact that shot output means nothing. The quality of them matters more.

The "quality" came in Game 2, when the Habs peppered Senators' goaltender Craig Anderson, going to high percentage scoring areas, providing screens and driving the net.

Last night, the Canadiens were outclassed on every part of the ice, oftentimes looking like a team already defeated after the first period. After the initial ten minute barrage of truculence on the part of the Senators, the Habs played scared. That part troubles me more than anything else I've seen so far this playoff season.

And it all begins with the team's veterans. Injured or not, they are the ones that should be providing the example to the Canadiens' youngsters, and not vise-versa. Other than Rene Bourque and P.K. Subban, not one else has stepped up to the plate.

David Desharnais: The Habs Equivalent to "Chinese Water Torture"

I think everyone can agree that Desharnais has been the biggest disappointment this season for the Montreal Canadiens. While his rise to the NHL earned him much respect in the hockey community, his standards of play have all but disappeared since he signed a four-year extension with the Canadiens on March 15th, 2013.

His greatest strengths were his ability to fend off bigger players along the boards, get possession of the puck and distribute it to his wingers for quality scoring chances. Needless to say, DD has done nothing of the sort, not having registered a single shot in three playoff games and constantly being pushed off the puck like a rag doll.

And can someone please explain why he keeps getting chances on the Canadiens' power play when he has been so ineffective for such a longer period of time? Unless we have a two-man advantage, it's still four-on-four to me when Desharnais take the ice for special teams' duty.

Pacioretty: "Wolverine" needs to sharpen his claws.


That bring us to Hab's power forward Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty once described Desharnais as "the best centre he's ever played with." Well, that's not saying much.

And with that though in mind, where did Patches' game go? Last season, he was being praised for his net drive and his fearless positioning in front of opposing goaltenders. Now, he's resorted to playing like Scott Gomez, refusing to engage the mid-ice lane, and taking useless shots from low percentage areas along the perimeter.

Granted, the quick healing winger has been dealing with different injuries for the better part of the season, but this is playoff hockey!! If you know you can't be beneficial to your team's fortunes, take a breather, and let someone else carry the load. Patches took the game off in Game 2, and it didn't go so badly for Michel Therrien's team.

Ryder: Lost In Space


Michael Ryder is one of those players (being a coach myself) I'd like to take aside and beat some sense into him. A perennial 30 goal scorer for the better part of his career, Ryder seems to play regular season games like they mean more than the playoffs. Granted, NHL players don't get anything in the playoffs unless they win the Stanley Cup, but still...

Skating like he's stuck in quicksand, and defensive liability, Ryder provides nothing of substance to the Canadiens' playoff roster. While he played well in the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup run of a few years ago, his career playoff stats are a joke.

Plekanec: Girl's NOT Wild


Tomas Plekanec is anothere one of those players who needs to find their game. Gone are the caroussel of wingers and free-flowing excuses. The Habs' #14 has done nothing to disspell his "I played like a girl" quote from a few years ago. That comment too was in reference to another useless playoff performance.

With a minus-13 rating in 50 career playoff games, Plekanec's defensive play seems to dwindle when the chips are on the table. Other than his 2005-2006 rookie campaign, where Plek was plus-2 in 6 games, he has not had ANY success in the playoffs.

Granted, Tomas does do the "little things" right more often than not, but those same things will not help lead the Canadiens to playoff success.

Markov: Gimpiddy Doo-Da


Canadiens' veteran blue liner Andrei Markov has not come back to the lineup...yet.

Markov has a distinct inability to pivot to his right to defend the mid-ice lane. That much was clear evidence last night, when Markov decided it was easier to follow Chris Neal than keep Jean-Gabriel Pageau from streaking up the middle. On that play alone, he left both P.K. Subban and Carey Price out to dry.

The Russian-born defenseman still has the brains to play at this level, but his legs just aren't there. He skates up the ice without the vivacity we have growing accustomed to in previous season, and has become a defensive liability on the left side.

If Markov's season has any hope of being salvaged, perhaps taking him away from P.K. Subban as a partner (who himself showed obvious frustration last night), and pairing him up on the right of Josh Gorges or Francis Bouillon.

Veterans need to lead by example, and if this is the example these players will continue to afford their teammates....FORE!!!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Habs/ Sens Game 3, Tinordi Embraces Playoffs And More...

Good Afternoon Addicts!

Craig Anderson will need to be in top form for the Senators to
move past the Habs in round one
The Montreal Canadiens resume their first round best of seven series tonight against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.

Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty traveled with the Canadiens to Ottawa but it's unsure as of yet if they will return to the lie-up tonight.

Whether or not the two top six forwards return, the Habs will need to play the way they did in Friday night's 3-1 win if they want to take the series lead. Craig Anderson will look to bounce back in goal for the Senators and if Montreal sticks to their game, he will be the main concern.

With more depth up front as well as on the blue line, Montreal will need Carey Price to outplay Anderson once again. Anderson finished the season with a .941 save%. That's a record for any goalie who has played at least 20 games in a season.

Anderson no doubt has the ability to steal a game or two in the series - hence the 48 saves in Ottawa's 4-2 game one win - and so the Habs will have to keep their offensive game going.

Habs And Hockey News

- Jarred Tinordi says the playoffs are good for his style of play

- TheActiveStick of habseyesontheprize.com  writes on whether or not the Habs window for the Stanley Cup as re-opened.

- Sal Lentile of thehockeywriters.com focuses on four players who have something to prove in the playoffs.


(Photo from ingoalmag.com)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Habs Beat Senators, Knot Series At One, Pittsburgh Blows Three Goal Lead, Therrien Keeps His Cool And More...

Good Afternoon Addicts!


Carey Price drops his tooth off at the bench during last night's
29 save win against the Ottawa Senators
 After falling apart in game one against the Ottawa Senators following Eric Gryba's crushing hit to Lars Eller's head, the Montreal Canadiens bounced back with a convincing 3-1 win last night at the Bell Center.

With Eller, Max Pacioretty and captain Brian Gionta out of the line-up things were looking pretty grim heading into game two of the best of seven series. The Habs however played the way they needed to in order to tie the series up before heading to the nation's capital.

Carey Price played excellent, hopefully putting to rest the doubt that too many Montreal fans have in the team's number one goalie. Price made 29 saves and lost a tooth en route to leading the Canadiens past the Senators.

Ryan White played what was probably his best game in a Habs uniform scoring the team's first goal, throwing three hits and getting under the skin of the Senators. Rene Bourque threw three hits of his own and added an assist giving him two points in two games.

Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk showed no signs of playoff nerves as they teamed up for the game winning goal after being reunited on a line with Brandon Prust. The Gally's each have two points in as many games and are looking very promising in their first post season at the NHL level.

With the series tied at one, the series will resume at Scotiabank Place in Kanata tomorrow night. If the Habs show the energy they displayed last night they should have no problem banking at least one win in Ottawa.

Habs And Hockey News

- Coach k (@HabsCoachK) shares his view on last night's game in Tony's Take over at montrealhockeytalk.com

- I have to say, I half expected the Penguins to beat the Islanders in three but after last night's comeback by the Islanders I can't help but wonder if Marc-Andre Fleury will blow it for the Pens for the second straight years. Justin Glock (@JTGlock) of thehockeywriters.com takes a look at last night's collapse by the Penguins.

- Michel Therrien  is focused on the task at hand rather than showing a willingness to lose his cool as he might have ten years ago.

(Photo by Pierre Obendrauf, The Gazette)