Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Habs/Stars Post Game October 29th 2013

The Habs were taking on the Dallas Stars at home Tuesday night. Both teams were playing the second game of a back to back. Carey Price was back in the cage for the Habs, who are coming off a 2-0 shutout against the Rangers last night. It's always Difficult to play on consecutive nights and the players did show signs of wear and tear despite being so early in the season.

The Habs got off to an early first period lead when defenseman Raphael Diaz, who finished with two assists, took a shot from the point which bounced off of Stephan Robidas and found its way in the net. The Habs used the goal to generate more momentum in the back half of the period. Leblanc had a good scoring chance up close but was stopped by Kari Lethonen who stopped 22 of 24 shots. The Habs drew a penalty late in the period when Galchenyuk got hooked in front of the net but didn't generate much on this man advantage.

Dallas nearly nodded it up when Jamie Benn came in on a 3 on 1 however Carey Price came up with the big save. Price was struggling to handle the puck early on but seemed to regain composure as the period progressed. Especially in the final minute of the first when the Stars deflected a puck up close, Price made a great save and kept the lead intact . Aside from one or two chances neither team allowed the other to generate dangerous scoring opportunities.

What seemed to spark the club was a mid-period tilt between Francis Bouillon and Antoine Roussel. It was soon after this fight that the Canadiens got on the board.

Both teams were starting to feel the effects of fatigue stemming off the back-to-back games  in the second. The Stars were trying to open the ice up a little more and make more creative passes, while the pace of the game did seem to accelerate Dallas wasn't able to produce results.
Bourque scored a good greasy goal off his own rebound to increase the lead for the Canadiens. The goal came moments after  a power play where the Habs saw a lot of crisp puck movement, After the second goal it just seemed to break any kind of chemistry the Stars had going.
Fortunately for Dallas youngster Cody Eakin did manage to break the shut out bid for Price late in the second with a knuckler that should have been saved. This goal came at a great time for the Stars since the Habs were rather dominant until that point.

Early in the third rookie Valerie Nichushkin nearly tired it up but Bouillon saved the puck and cleared it from the zone. That seemed to wake up the Canadiens who nearly saw magic happen off of Subban's stick as he simply left the Stars watching him go by, his pass didn't create a scoring chance but was able to leave the fans in awe.
The next scoring chance was a sequence of passes that was tipped wide by Desharnais who hasn't been able to buy a goal all season.
Douglas Murray played his first game at the Bell Center and led the team in hits with 6 in his home ice debut. He dumped Roussel along the boards then followed up that play with a shot attempt and another big hit in the defensive zone to reignite the fans. He was called for interference midway through the third.
This penalty kill would have been a shooting gallery for Price had the Canadiens not been as active blocking shots. It wasn't simply on the penalty kill that the Habs were blocking shots, they were blocking lanes throughout the whole game and ultimately added to their league lead in blocked shots with a total of 29 on the night

With less than a minute left and the goalie pulled Price made a timely glove save and redeemed himself against the Dallas goal scorer Eakin. The stars wouldn't get any better chances and the Canadiens pulled through winning both games in their back to back.
The Canadiens hit the road and play in another back to back Friday and Saturday nights against the Wild and Avalanche respectively.

Habs/Rangers Post Game October 28th, 2013

Budaj makes one of his 27 saves on the evening
It was the home opener for the Rangers. The Canadiens scored twice and were able to shut down the Rangers offense that has been flat all season.

The tone of the game was set early on. The Rangers came out and pressured the Habs- it looked like the Rangers would be off to an early 1-0 lead but the puck rang the post and went wide. This was the best opportunity for the Rangers all night.

Despite being on the road for the first time in some time, the Habs fans would have hoped they'd be eager to get back on the ice after their last outing.

The Canadiens had difficulty getting the puck out of the zone in the first half of the game, an issue that was costly for them when they played the Sharks. The Rangers tried to get as many shots on net as they could but the Habs challenged their efforts. They finished the night with 28 blocked shots.

A shocking aspect of the game was how the Canadiens chose to hold their game to a similar style that they did against San Jose. They played a trap game, given the Rangers pedigree thus far, this strategy could've been avoided on this night in the interest of the fans.The Rangers have had trouble scoring five on five goals this season. Surprising since Coach Vignault's used to boasting a very potent offense in his past years coaching the Canucks. The talent is not the same but to be 28th in the league should raise a few eyebrows. Add to that they are 29th in goals against, with their defense and usually solid goaltending, it explains why they've been struggling.

That being stated, the Canadiens should have been the ones generating the pressure.

Special teams played a big role for the Canadiens; they killed off the five penalties against and scored an absolutely beautiful power-play goal by Tomas Plekanec with the help of Bournival. Bournival has clearly established himself on the team and it will be interesting to see what happens when Pacioretty returns to the lineup.

Price had the night off as they play back at home tomorrow night. He has traditionally not performed at his best at MSG. The shut-out for Budaj was warranted given all 27 shots against.

Douglas Murray made his Canadiens debut. He made an impact by delivering a big hit and offered some stability on the PK. Playing on the third pairing with Francis Bouillon; maybe on the back-end of their careers they aren't being asked to log in big minutes. They're role players and offer the NHL experience and stability that the rookies may need.

The Canadiens play the Dallas Stars Tuesday night. Both teams are playing their second game in back to back days. Given that the Canadiens did seem to play with less jump in their step tonight, they will still have gas in the tank to play for the home crowd.

(photo: courtesy Toronto Sun)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vanek Traded to Islanders

The New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres have made what could be the biggest trade of the 2013-14 season.

Islanders: Tomas Vanek
Sabres: Matt Moulson, 1st round pick (2014),2nd round pick (2015)

Vanek was the biggest forward name available going into the season as many believed that the Sabres were going to be shopping their assets in order to build through the draft.

The islanders have gotten a player who has played at an elite level, especially considering his lack luster surroundings while playing for the Sabres over the years.

It is a steep price to pay if you are the Isles, Vanek is a pending UFA and there is certainly going to be a market for his services in the off-season, Garth Snow will have his work cut out for him to keep him on board.

The Sabres have done well to receive two high draft choices and a strong roster player. Moulson may have over achieved by playing alongside Tavares, however he still has a strong shot and will contribute offensively. Moulson is also a pending UFA and could be shipped out if there is a demand come the deadline.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Habs/Sharks Post-game October 26th

Couture scoring the eventual game winning goal against price
Montreal was playing the last game of a five game home stand on Saturday night against the red hot San Jose Sharks. The game didn't provide the excitement that many had hoped as the Sharks took the game by a final score of 2-0.

The Sharks have been one of the best teams in the early going. Coming in they had a 8-1-1 record after losing the Bruins the other night. It isn't simply that they are winning games but are doing so in a convincing manner. They are not only out-shooting their opponents but their ability to box out the opposition leaves little opportunities to score on Antii Niemi.

The Canadiens, coming off of a 4-1 win against the Ducks, had the chance to evaluate their level of play against a team that is looking like a strong contender for the Stanley Cup.

Right off puck-drop the game plan was different. The Canadiens were not controlling the puck and using their speed to generate any kind of breakouts.  The fore-check was nearly invisible, few players were making an effort to finish their checks against the bigger and more physical San Jose squad.

The best way to describe the outing would be to say the Canadiens played "a good road game at home". They held the Sharks back but it was obvious which team was favored coming into this game.

This is where the game-plan should have been different. The Habs have gone up by two goals in four of their last five games, this is the mind-set coach Therrien should have instilled into his squad. It doesn't matter who you play against you stick to what has been working. That is not to say you don't make adjustments but when you're the home team and hold the final change you force your opponent to play your game, not the other way around. It isn't a sound strategy to play for overtime, the Bell Center provides one of the best ambiences in the league, and any player will tell that you that harnessing the energy from the home crowd can be a great source of motivation.

The Habs did successfully hold the Sharks out from being a dominant goal scoring machine. They played very well on the penalty kill, allowing one goal on four chances. The lone power play goal for the Sharks came off the stick of Logan Couture from Joe Thornton. Couture, who scored a pair of goals, seemed to have the hockey Gods on his side, especially the second one. Couture's second tally of the night occurred in the third period when Patrick Marleau dumped in the puck which ricocheted off the end boards catching Price by surprise as he was going to play it, it landed right on Couture's stick and he slid it in.

Besides a 10 minute window in the second period it did not look like Montreal had any kind of offense being generated. The legs seemed to drag on in the third period, but that is the result of constantly pushing back your opponent rather than force them to play on their heels.

As mentioned earlier, this game can be a kind of measuring stick as to where exactly the Canadiens stand in the league. This game says they are a team that will contend for a spot in the lower half of the playoff table and are a few years away from being in the top tier in the league.
The fact they are currently able to hold back a very strong and deep Sharks team speaks to their defense. However, the inability to produce scoring chances was their downfall. The team still has an abundance of time left in the season to make the necessary changes to their game to get them into the post season. Once you get to the dance than it only takes a timely hot streak to get you deep into the chase for Stanley's Cup.

Photo: Graham Hughes, AP

Friday, October 25, 2013

Habs/Ducks Post-Game October 24th

Bournival scores to extend his point streak
The Canadians needed a bounce back game after the oilers loss on Tuesday and a 4-1 win against the Ducks of Anaheim was just what the doctor ordered.

The return of long time Captain Saku Koivu called for a respectable standing ovation in particular when he was named the third star of the game. His value as a Canadien may not be fresh in the mind of the younger fans but he definitely earned his stripes playing in this city.

For the Habs getting off to a good start has not been the issue as of late, rather it has been maintaining that lead throughout the entire game.

The scoring opened past the midway point in the first period. After being unable to convert on a powerplay, the Ducks failed to clear the zone and Habs rookie Nathan Beaulieu launched a puck at the net that was tipped in front by Michael Bournival to get by Jonas Hiller. The helper for Beaulieu was his first career point. He has also been given an extended stay now that Jared Tinordi has been sent down to the farm team. Before the end of the period,Tomas Plekanec scored with a pass across the slot from Bournival.

The play of Michael Bournival is turning heads. He now has points in 4 consecutive games and amassed 5 points in 7 appearances thus far.

Tomas Plekanec has also been upping his game recently. In the last 5 games he has 7 points. With 1 goal and 2 assists against the Ducks he now sits second behind Subban for the team lead in points. He is showing the ability to play in all situations. He is the one Canadiens player that can always be counted on to produce at a consistent level and yet he always falls under the radar when he performs well. More credit should be given to the #1 center.

In the second period Price was counted on to stop more than his fair share of shots. The Ducks came out strong and hard and finished with 15 shots on goal in the frame. Price held his ground, making the necessary saves, but the defense was able to limit the amount of dangerous scoring chances. Price had a less than stellar start against the Oilers and was able to show how solid he has been in nets with a strong performance against a strong team.

Scoring the goal in the second to give the Habs a 3 goal lead was Brian Gionta. The Ducks took one penalty too many and down to a 5 on 3, a scramble in front of the net eventually ended when the puck got put in by the captain. It was the second time in the game the Canadiens scored on the man advantage moving them to 6th in the league.

There was a scary moment in the second period when Corey Perry came in hard on the boards against P.K. Subban. Subban hit the glass hard with his head and fell to the ice. He was able to play on the ensuing man advantage and did not appear to show any lingering signs of pain. Given the recent slew of injuries one could only imagine the hole it would leave if the Habs were to lose their leading scorer.

The Ducks got on the board when a costly give-away by Josh Gorges lead to a 2 on 1 putting Diaz against Nick Bonino and Patrick Maroon. Bonino crossed it to Maroon who scored his first of the year.
However, any attempt to force a late comeback was stopped when Rene Bourque slipped one by Hiller 5 hole off of a weak backhander that must of caught the net minder sleeping.

Given the recent success and the start of the Ducks this game will definitely be one to keep in mind as the red hot Sharks make their only
appearance at the Bell Center this saturday night in what many hope to be one of the most exciting games of this young season.

(Photo courtesy of the Gazette)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Habs/Oilers Post game October 22nd 2013

For the Canadiens; Pacioretty, Prust, Parros, Briere.
For the Oilers; Hall, Gagner, Smyth, Joennsu.

These are not the pre-season lineups made in order to rest some of their roster players, this is the list of players who are out with injuries suffered during this young season.

In the second meeting between the 2 clubs, the Canadiens came out strong in the first period scoring a couple of late goals but didn't sustain that momentum for the rest of the game. They blew a 2 goal lead and were unable to mount a comeback in late the going, eventually ending in a score of 4-3 favoring the visitors.

The story of the night was the play of Carey Price. This season his game as been above par and he has been a major reason the Canadiens are able to sustain the edge in the games they play. Tonight was not the case. He got beat by a weak goal to open up the scoring for the Oilers by Ales Hemsky. The move he pulled with his hands to get to the high slot was a nice piece of work and Price did manage to get in front of the shot but it still slipped by him. Not long after that the Oilers tied up the game with goal from Ladislav Smid that got put in because of a lack of rebound control that laid up right on the defencemen's stick.

It was in the third period that the Habs lost the game, not only did they fall behind 2 goals, but seemed as though they had a little less in the tank. The Oilers are trying to prove they aren't in the free fall that many of the media are speculating. Despite their injuries they received scoring from unlikely sources. Jeff Petry, who was beautifully set up by Nugent-Hopkins, scored during a 4 on 4. Hopkins had quite the game and finished with 2 assists. The eventual game winner was scored by Ryan Jones, his goal was started off by a bad turnover at center-ice from Ryan White, he gain the zone and gave it to David Perron who took a weak shot that Price could not control, Jones crashed the night and pushed it in.

It was definitely not the best performance Price strung together. However, it is only expected that for some parts of an 82 game season, your starter puts up a bad game every now and again. When this happens it should be up to the team to ahead of him to compensate and up their game, unfortunately, save for a few, tonight was not that night.

For the Canadiens, the scoring opened up on the powerplay. Right off the face-off, the puck went back to Markov. Markov started a give and go with Bournival, who has a 3 game point streak, meanwhile Plekanec quietly made his way to the far side of the ice. The veteran blue-liner, Markov, was able to find Plekanec by himself and laser a pass his way. Pleks made no mistake as he finished the job ripping one by Dubnyk.

The second goal came from Brendan Gallagher, who wasted no time giving the Habs a 2 goal lead. Moments after the first goal he beautifully anticipated a breakout pass by Ryan Jones. Gaining control of the puck he came in with speed towards the net andeventually scoring one top corner far side.

The last goal came in the final seconds, when teams down a pair play for the pride of the crest on their jerseys. Gionta was parked it in front of the net, and Plekanec was able to feed him a pass he simply needed to redirect to claim one for the stats column.

Subban played his usual brand of hockey, some wonder if that means Olympic caliber, I believe that should be a no-brainer. In the third period this was highlighted by a series of quick dangles in the Oilers zone that left the fans in attendance breathless. Although the play he made to the side of the night didn't end up in the net. It is in these awe-inspiring moments that prove to the Habs nation he is currently the best player in the lineup.

Making another appearance as the 6th D was Nathan Beaulieu in place of Jared Tinordi. He logged 11:26 and was not noticeable on the ice, but for a young defenceman that means he did not make glaring mistakes. Both Tinordi and Beaulieu have shown some poise when being called upon and are a making the injuries to the blue-line less of a concern
for the Canadiens.

Congratulations go out to Michael Bournival. The 21 year old Bournival was told Tuesday to find an apartment in the city, indicating he will be with the team all season. The youngster has made the most from the opportunities by the club. While this is in large part thanks to injuries to the forward group, his game has adjusted rather quickly to the NHL level. Managing to find his way onto the score sheet in the last few games and being a versatile slot into many lines he gave coach Therrien enough reason to justify his being with the big club for the remainder of the year.

The game as a whole was in no way indicative of how the Canadiens have played thus far in the season. Looking back, with both of the Sharks and Ducks coming into town, it would have been a wise decision to give Price the night off and let Budaj take on an injured Oilers lineup. The team is still adjusting to more injuries, and feeling out some kinks early-on. The quick starts at home for the Habs are a good sign that the team does wake up to play for the home crowd, a necessity in the back end of the season. The only adjustment that needs to be made and has been apparent in the last few games is keeping that momentum throughout the final 2 periods of play.

Photograph by: Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images

Monday, October 21, 2013

Therrien Finally Adjusts and the Canadiens Win

By: Shawn Lavoie @SLavoie54

Shawn has contributed for quite some time and we are pleased to announce he is now part of our writing staff here at Habsaddict

Michel Therrien has the reputation of being a rather impatient coach. He is known to be unafraid to put his players under the spotlight and to shake up his lines when things aren't going his way. Since his second coming in Montreal, he has shown reluctance in giving more ice time to his young players who, since last season, have been playing some great hockey and to cut his underperforming veterans’ ice time. 

This season though, Therrien has finally started to adjust. When the Habs won in Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and at home against Columbus, the coach gave more ice time to his younger players and cut the under-performers' playing time.
Indeed, over the last four wins, Lars Eller, who has five goals and seven points this season, has been the second most used center by Michel Therrien. David Desharnais, who has only one assist this season in seven games, saw his ice time go from over 16 minutes against Toronto on opening night and Calgary, to around 14 minutes a night over the last four games. Only Tomas Plekanec has been used more that the 24 year old Eller. The great Dane has been one of the team’s best forward so far this season.

Same thing goes for Daniel Briere, who has been mostly invisible so far this season. The Gatineau native saw his ice time constantly decline over the past five games from a season high 17:03 against Calgary to a season low 12:59 against Columbus. The small forward has scored two out of his three points on empty net goals. Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, who have been playing well since starting their careers last season, have seen more ice than Briere since the team’s win in Vancouver. 

Francis Bouillon is another player who hasn’t played as much as usual. Even though he hasn’t been bad, he is finally seeing bottom pairing minutes. The 38 year old defender was regularly playing over 20 minutes per game last season, which was insane. Therrien has also reduced Bouillon’s power play time, although not completely. Markov and Subban have, obviously, been heavily relied upon on the power play and for good reason. In general, the veteran rearguard is the fifth most used defenseman, which is a more appropriate role. It is good to see that Therrien has gained some sense with Bouillon’s usage. 

However, this is not to say that the Canadiens’ head coach has been perfect. David Desharnais is still seeing more power play time than Lars Eller. Daniel Briere also receives more time on the man advantage than both Gallys. Even though the Habs have the seventh best power play in the league, it’s in the team’s best interest that the kids receive more power play time than Briere and Desharnais. You can’t keep your hottest players on the bench while up a man to play your underperforming veterans. Even if this could upset them, the team comes first. As long as they can’t fix their game, Therrien has to rely more heavily on the young studs.

Another problem Therrien still has is the fact that Markov plays more than twice as often on the penalty killing. This defies all reason. It does not make sense to keep the reigning Norris Trophy winner on the bench while down a player. Subban is the team’s best defenseman in every area of the game. Yes, he still makes some mistakes, but we tend to forget that he is still only 24 years old. He is still gaining in maturity and improving his game. Markov, on the other hand, is 34 years old and it is obvious that he has slowed down. He has played very well so far, but he can’t keep on playing 23-24 minutes per game as he will get slower as the season progresses. Therrien will need to rely more heavily on Subban. The elite defenseman ranks 18th in the NHL in average ice time with 24:41. He is able to play two minutes more per game, and this can come by switching Markov and Subban on the penalty kill. 

Michel Therrien’s player usage still doesn’t make perfect sense, but he’s getting there.
(Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images North America)

Follow me on Twitter @SLavoie54

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Habs/Preds Post-Game October 19th 2013

It's going to be hard to forget this one for the faithful, and for all the wrong reasons. While the Canadiens will come up short 2-1 in the books, nothing can do justice to the gaffe caused by the referees.

The Canadiens were on the receiving end of controversy Saturday night. Lars Eller seemed to have scored th go ahead goal midway through the third period but the call made by the official was reversed upon further review.To make matters worse, a statement was issued by the NHL. This statement failed to identify any rules that were followed and was only able to state that each official agreed the puck never crossed the line. This would not be as hard to swallow if the play was blown dead by an official who clearly indicated by pointing his arm towards the goal to indicate a goal had been scored!

While the "he said, he said" won't do much in this situation it is painful to think the NHL won't stand it's ground on its own guidelines.

The game itself was played as typically as one could expect of a matchup with the Predators. A high caliber defense combined with an exceptional goalie and a less than threatening attack. Most could have anticipated the game would finish with fewer than 4 goals crossing the goal line. 

Rinne and Price played outstanding. Neither permitted the puck to get by save for something exceptional as was the beautiful toe drag game winner by rookie sensation Seth Jones.

With 2 minutes left on the clock, the game tied at ones and seeming like the fans would need to stay a little longer. Montreal failed to clear the puck from their zone, most noticeably Travis Moen flailing his stick while lying on the ice, the puck found its way to the stick of Jones, who pulled off a slick toe drag to set up his own wrister that got by Price. Along with the goal was his 27 minute workload that was beaten only by long time captain and all-star Shea Weber, 28 minutes. 

It is very possible that the game could have gone out of hand much earlier had the Habs not been able to play such a stellar game short-handed, eventually finishing 5-6 on the PK. Most famously was the referee calling an "embezzlement" penalty against Subban. The Canadiens allowed one goal off of a shot by Weber, that hit 2 Canadiens on the way in. Price should not be faulted at all as it was a shot during the tail-end of an early 5-3 that bounced off of Prust and than Gorges before finding the net. 

Brandan Gallagher played his heart out tonight. For a player who does not boast the most size he certainly puts rubber on the net. He may not possess the greatest shot but any great scorer will tell you that the only way to score is to put the puck on net, he had a total of 9 SOG. His goal came as advertised, a scrum in front of the net found its way to the back of the net. 

The Canadiens should be commended on their ability to play while fighting off in game injuries. Danny Briere suffered a concussion, Brandon Prust took a fall into the end boards and left favoring his shoulder and Josh Gorges received a hit that delivered contact to both sides of his head. The injury list is starting to pile-up for the Canadiens in this short season and it will be a tough test to see how much they can fight the coming opponents in the Oilers, Sharks and Ducks. The farm in Hamilton will be getting a few calls and the fans will get an opportunity to see some of the Habs pipeline. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How Important is Max Pacioretty To The Habs?

HabsAddict would like to welcome Oliver Fisher to the family.
Oliver is a young Habs fan the United Kingdom. He fell in love with the Habs when he got his first hockey jersey in 2007 which donned the famous ‘CH’, and has been a fan ever since. Hasn’t yet had the fortune of making it out to the Bell Centre, but will definitely one day.
Follow Oliver on Twitter
Max Pacioretty, the Canadiens 6’2”, 24 year old left winger, was helped off the ice on Tuesday night against Winnipeg. A lot of people were worried, which got me thinking, how big is Max Pacioretty to the Canadiens and how much would a long term injury affect us?

Starting with a little back-story, Pacioretty was picked up in the 2007 entry draft by Montreal as the 22nd pick overall, having previously played for Michigan. He made his NHL debut in 2009, in which he scored from his first ever shot when we lost to the New Jersey Devils on the 2nd of January. Pacioretty was our leading point scorer in the 2011-12 season, finishing with 65 points in 79 games in a year in which he won the Bill Masterton Trophy. This managed to get him a six year, $27million contract extension which he will feel he deserved.

The first player to wear #67 for the Canadiens, Max Pacioretty is quite clearly an outstanding player. Technically, he is as good a shooter of the puck as most other wingers in the league. His puck placement and ability to simply fire the puck past helpless goalies’ is, while expected you might say, quite simply mesmerising at times. Although not the most mobile and agile player we’ve ever seen, he is also incredibly skilful with very good puck handling skills and a quick release on both passing and shooting. His size as a winger allows him to be a real asset to any team and an impact player on both sides of the puck. Mentally, his ability to read the game has been a very nice surprise on the offensive side of the game, and his ability to win face-offs generally means he has a good skill set.

However, before this turns into a very one sided article, there are some things that I feel he could do a little better. Defensively, he has a tendency to become lethargic and slow to react particularly when anticipating passes or blocking shots, but sometimes it isn’t all his fault. It would be nice to see him react a little better to loose pucks all of the time, and be just more aware in general. His shooting isn’t consistent yet either, but he has the timing and the wrist power to do some real damage, so he needs to make sure he uses it all of the time. Injuries have been a problem also, which some people would blame on the players that hit him, but the fact remains he gets laid out in open ice quite a lot. Obviously there was the Chara incident, which still makes me feel physically ill every time I think about it, but sometimes you get the feeling he doesn’t help himself. Nevertheless, his development has been very pleasing to watch and he promises to be a productive impact winger for the Canadiens.

I think some statistics are really needed to back up the point of how important he actually is. 2011-12 has already been mentioned as a breakout year of sorts for Patch in which he managed 33 goals and 32 assists in the 79 games he played at 0.82 points per game. Now that is very good production for a winger in the goals tally, and a decent amount of assists as well, and being above 0.8 points per game is something to be very happy with. On the season, he finished just +2, which is surprising given his production, so does it maybe reveal a little more about who he was on the ice with than him? That is perhaps a debate for another time.

Moving onto 2012-13, Max got 39 points in 44 games which, by my calculations, would mean he was on course to get 58 points with 22 goals and 36 assists at 0.7 points per game. Those are the stats I was expecting Patch to put up when he broke through as a regular for the Habs in terms of goals to assists ratio.To be fair, he missed four games because of injury which may have eradicated any momentum he was gathering, plus it was a shortened season anyway, but the stats don’t lie and his production did decrease slightly. I will give him the benefit of the doubt on this one though. He obviously has a goal scoring prowess given the skills he possesses, but as a first line left winger (which he has become) it is almost a little worrying that he would score so much. Any goals are good goals as long as he is assisting as well, and given our real lack of a standout first line center it isn’t too surprising he is scoring a lot. In the 2011-12 season he scored 5 game winning goals, but he didn’t manage any in the 44 games he played last year.

So far this year, Patch has 2 goals and 1 assist through 5 games. You obviously can’t read into the stats after 5 games, but he has scored two nice goals this year and was looking fairly confident again to begin the season after a playoff series in which he didn’t manage a single point.

To summarize, I guess its personal judgement whether you think Max Pacioretty is crucial to the Habs. I’m sure most people, like me, will agree that he is a very important player with a bright future. There was a lot of panic when he went down with that injury against the Jets and that should be the telling sign. Whichever way you look at it, he is a fantastic first line winger who has put up some great points numbers that will hopefully be bettered in the future. He has areas of his game to work on, but no player is flawless, and his drive will allow him to work on them and get better as a player. Max isn’t just important, he’s the future.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Habs/Blue Jackets Post Game October 17th, 2013

The west coast trip was a success for the Habs. Rather than rest on their laurels they came back on home ice and came out strong for the 21,000 plus in attendance.

 At times it looked like the Jackets would mount a comeback after they tied the game up at 3. But a late marker from Tomas Plekanec in the final 2 minutes paired with the eventual empty netter would seal the deal for the Bleu Blanc Rouge.

They opened up the scoring early on. A power-play goal by Bourque set up by a gorgeous cross ice pass from P.K. Subban. It's becoming a habit to mention Subban and the score-sheet, he now has 10 points in 7 games this season which is tied for 2nd in the league.

Along with P.K.,Andrei Markov managed to jump start the offense tonight. Markov scored a shorthanded goal when the Blue Jackets received a power-play on a questionable elbowing call issued to Subban. During this penalty-kill the fore-check made the Jackets cough up the puck in their zone and end up right on the stick of Markov who ripped a shot by Bobvroski.

Bobrovski, the current Vezina holder stopped 31 of the 35 shots he faced and was the reason that the game didn't get out of hand much earlier as the Habs did create many difficult chances early on.

In nets for the Canadiens was Carey Price. Coming off a shutout in his last outing he put together a respectable performance and stopped 30 of 33. He was saved early on by a great defensive play by Josh Gorges, the puck was free in front of the net while the Jackets were scrambling towards the goal he cleared it away with his stick. Gorges also contributed offensively with a helper.

The Blue Jackets managed to get a stand out performance from Boone Jenner, the youngster put up a pair of goals and led the team with 6 shots on goal.

Scoring his first goal as a Canadien was Michael Bournival. He ripped a one timer fed to him from Markov. The moment,scored on home ice, will forever be remembered by the youngster who is solidifying his place on the roster as the games go by. His mix of grinding play combined with some offensive punch are quickly making him a viable option to fill in for the injuries that are quickly piling up.

On the injury front it was announced that Pacioretty would be missing at least the next 3 weeks. His natural ability to find the back of the net will be missed, this will force the team to pull together with scoring from other sources. It was a good time for Bourque to make his presence felt, as well as Plekanec.

One observation this evening, was the distribution of ice-time between the top 2 defense pairings. While Diaz led all defencemen with 23:41, Markov was a close second 23:35 and Gorges and Subban came in with 22 minutes each. The ability to provide some time to rest his stars is a not just a testament to the performance of his third and forth defenders but also help prevent any further injuries to the already decimated blue-line.

Tthe Canadiens will have much to prove being on home ice for the next few games. They are making a statement: They intend to compete for top spot in their division rather than simply fight for a playoff spot this season.

(Photo: Courtesy of SB Nation)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Davis Drewiske Out

Montreal Defenceman Davis Drewiske has undergone shoulder surgery. The injury originally occurred during training camp this season. His initial window of rehabilitation was around a month's time.

After surgery his expected recovery time is 5-6 months.

He has yet to play a game this season but his loss drains the Habs pool of NHL experienced defencemen. With Douglas Murray yet to play and Alexei Emelin still sidelined this means that Tinordi and Beaulieu will continue to be with the team for some time.

The Canadiens have done well in their absence but will need for the young duo to continue playing at an NHL level in order to maintain their recent success.

Drewiske Out: TSN

Drewiskie Blesse: RDS

(photo courtesy of: awinninghabit.com)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Habs/Jets Post game October 15th 2013

Playing at the MTS center can be intimidating for any opponent. The Jets gain an extra jump in their game and push a little harder for the fans in attendance. Tonight Carey Price posted his first shut-out of the season in a 35 save performance

For Carey Price, the game was a progression of sorts. The Jets started slow with 8 shots in the first but ended up shooting 15 in the third. Of the many shots he faced, he needed to come up big against the speedy wingers that the Jets boast in Kane and Wheeler. His ability to keep the puck out while the team had a 2 goal lead is solid stepping stone. He is building character and mental toughness early, this was also noticed during the Philadelphia game in which he held a 1 goal lead for a majority of that outing. Price gets to come back to the Bell center with the fans confident in him, offering their full support for the Habs net-minder.

The scoring opened early on with a goal from Brandon Prust. Prust handled and forced in a puck that bounced off of the end-boards coming off a Danny Briere point shot. Briere also logged his first goal as a Canadien, all-be-it an empty netter, he'll take what he can get at this point. Early criticism has been sent his way, especially given the fact that he is earning 4 million dollars. Some players just need that empty netter to get the ball rolling,hopefully this will be the case for Briere.

P.K. Subban was a TOI leader tonight for the Habs logging 25 minutes. He ripped a slapshot passed Pavelec from the point and was often the most exciting player on the ice. On any given night Subban plays a sound defensive game usually accompanied by a strong offensive presence. Tonight it just seemed like it was more of the same. It is early but his recent performances are making a strong case to appear on Team Canada's olympic roster.

I am pleasantly surprised to say that David Desharnais had a strong game. Often in the doghouse for a majority of this young season.  He had an assist on the Subban goal and a finished a +2. He also proved to be useful by back-checking on many occasions showing grit. He stringed together a few sequences that left the Jets defense looking silly, but didn't manage to finish. Regardless it was a well needed boost to his confidence given his recent demotion to the third line.

A moment that had the Habs faithful holding their breath was the early injury to Max Pacioretty. He took an awkward fall and seemed to favor his left leg. No official statement has been made but it is safely diagnosable as a lower-body injury. In his absence, coach Therrien did bring back the EGG line who were left pointless but still showed chemistry, and making the most of Prust and Moen who were rotated on the third and forth lines.

The west coast trip wrapped up rather well for the Canadiens who took 6 points of a possible 8 on the road. Getting these west coast games out of the way early with success could result in a strong home stand in the next few games. Columbus visits Montreal on thursday night, although they are now an east coast team, they still remain similar to a west coast opponent, being only one year removed from the wild wild west. The Canadiens proved they can handle the west on the road, time to prove it at home ice.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Habs/Canucks Post game October 12th 2013

Montreal visited the Canucks on Saturday night and came out with a 4-1 victory.

Carey Price, B.C. native, played his best game thus far, stopping 39 of 40 shots. His presence in net was a calming factor for the team. Save for one turnover by Diaz which lead to the Sedin goal in the second, he should've earned a shutout for the club. His performance was highlighted by a great pad stop on Jason Garrison during a Canucks power-play in the early going.

Lars Eller can do no wrong. He logged in a short-handed goal, continuing his stellar early season play. While this goal will hardly be considered intentional and will likely not be seen again for some time. During a routine dump and change, the puck sailed off of defenceman's Dan Hamhuis' stick, getting lost in Roberto Luongo's skates before crossing the line.

It would be that kind of night for the Canucks as nothing they did seemed to have any impact on the Canadiens play.

The match-up of the evening was the defense pairing of Gorges and Diaz against the top line for the Canucks. Despite allowing the one goal, the tandem was otherwise perfect in limiting the twins scoring chances and keeping the lead. Both even managed to get on the scoresheet, Diaz would log 2 helpers and Gorges even managed to score a goal in front of his grandmother in attendance! A glimpse of that footage made everyone smile.

The Gorges goal was not simply a just dessert for the defenceman, but also a great desert for the Habs' 4th line. With captain Gionta at home due to a personal issue, Bournival was called upon again to play with White and Moen. Moen's faceoff win to Diaz lead to the goal. They played incredibly well, given that coach Tortorella was constantly using the final change in order to send the twins out while the 4th line was making their way onto the ice.

Quitely having a good game was Tomas Plekanec. The early going of the season has centered around the play of the young Canadiens and tonight Plekanec showed why he is an important part of the puzzle. He lead all forwards in short-handed TOI, finishing second total among forwards and he had an assist on the power-play on the Pacioretty goal. His game was not flashy but it was effective, and more of these performances need to occur to keep the teams winning ways alive.

A line that was practically invisible Saturday night: Desharnais, Bourque and Prust. The fact that they did not stand out could be seen as a positive, since they didn't concede anything either, meaning the team didn't lose any points. The concern going forward is that it is only so long before they encounter a team with more depth that will make the most of their match-up. Give coach Therrien credit for allowing them to try and find some chemistry but they'll need to start producing.

The west coast trip wraps up in Winnipeg on Tuesday night. The opportunity to win 3 of 4 games against the perennially difficult western conference match-ups is one the Canadiens will embrace. Their last couple of performances indicate they are making strides towards their chase for the post-season.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Habs/Oilers Post Game October 10th 2013

The second game in their Alberta back-to-back had the Canadiens face off against the high octane offense in Edmonton. Backup goaltender Peter Budaj got the start and back stopped his team to a 4-1 victory.

Coach Therrien has decided to use these early games to experiment with the lines. The goal? To distribute the scoring rather than have the EGG line as the only one scoring goals.

The breakdown:
Pacioretty, Eller, Briere,
Galchenyuk, Plekanec, Gallagher.
Bourque, Desharnais, Gionta
Prust, Bournival, Moen.

Markov, Subban
Gorges, Diaz
Beaulieu, Bouillon 

As is usually the case, change does not always produce immediate returns. The first period had its share of awkward sequences. It's fair to question the coaches decision to "crack the egg". Perhaps just shuffling the other 3 lines should be explored before making the decision to mix up every line. This way at least there is the security that one line has proven chemistry should the game-plan fail to produce dividends. By the end of the game however, the end did justify the means.

It would be in the second period that the Canadiens, despite allowing the opening goal on the power play, began to outplay the Oilers. The game was centered more in the Edmonton zone, the Habs scored twice and generated the more prominent scoring chances. They held off the Oilers attack from creating any serious threats limiting their chances to the outside and getting in the way of shots from dangerous angles. 

Goals from Gallagher and Prust, despite less than spectacular finishes, all stemmed from hard work and a touch of craftsmanship from those who recorded the assists. The Prust goal in particular showcased the efforts of Bournival, who seemed incredibly comfortable in his second appearance. His name wont appear on the scoresheet but his tenacity to keep the puck in the Oiler zone is the reason for the goal.

In the third the Oilers came out with desperation but the Habs weathered the storm. Each line seemed to play with a boost of energy. The play of the 4th line was most certainly a catalyst in this effort. They were constantly banging the Oilers around and leaving them breathless coming to the bench, giving the whole team the extra motivation to keep up the pace.

Increasing the lead would be Galchenyuk who received a beautifully timed saucer pass from Gallagher and put it past Dubnyk. The Oilers did everything they could to make a last ditch effort. Trailing 3-1 with just over 4 minutes left, they attempted a very unorthodox decision by pulling the goalie. Although it did generate some heat in the Habs zone, this was met with the equal vigor. In the end, it would be Briere that recorded his first point as a Canadien when he assisted on the Pacioretty empty-netter. 

A nice surprise was the play of newcomer Nathan Beaulieu. In his limited ice time he made a lot of plays that take confidence to execute and did not seem to be out of place in his role filling in for Jared Tinordi.

P.K. Subban lead the team in TOI , logging in just over 25 minutes. No surprise, when he plays more, the team finds a way to win, that is certain.

Montreal desperately needed to win this game especially coming off of the effort from the night before. They visit Vancouver Saturday before stopping in Winnipeg on their way back to the Bell Center.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Habs/Flames post game October 9th 2013

The freeze frame of Joey Macdonald stacking the pads on Andrei Markov during a second period power-play gave most fans an indication that Wednesday night would not end as hoped.

A 3-2 loss to start the west coast trip is not what the Montreal faithful either wanted or expected.

Their opponents, the Flames, have surprised many by recording points in each of their games to date: a start that can be attributed to their visibly high tempo style of play along with the play of rookie Sean Monahan who finished with a goal and a helper on the night. 

During the first 2 periods it seemed as though the Habs were playing on their toes and rushing through basic sequences, whereas the Flames, kept their cool and while playing an aggressive forechecking style, managed to capitalize early and jump off to 3-0 lead after a period and a half.

Easily the best line in the early going of the season remains the youngest line on the Canadiens. They even earned the starting wave during the power-play in the later parts of the game- a move that should become a regular if they maintain their current pace.

Notably, the  EGG line accounted for 9 shots, the most from any line on the Habs. The easiest way to associate their success with such a statistic is to conclude that they take chances. They are aware that the best way to score is to shoot! rather than attempt the perfect play.

P.K. Subban is showing signs of Norris candidacy in the early goings. He ripped a rocket from the point that beat Macdonald cleanly, this was one of his team's leading 6 shots on goal, also helping Lars Eller find the back of the net during the third period.

A point to note is that P.K. did not receive as much TOI as he did during the Phili game: 22 minutes on the night, which is only a minute more than Francois Bouillon played. This is shocking considering the discrepancy between each player's respective skill-set and their contributions to the club. Also the team leader was Markov, who should be volunteering to give P.K. some ice time to stay as fresh as possible out there. It doesn't help that he did take a costly penalty with 2 minutes remaining in the game.

The 4th line of Moen, Prust and White did not appear to have as much grit as they've had in games past. They all finished a -2 on the night. While they are not expected to provide a scoring role, being down so early in the game, none should've finished in the double digits for minutes played, especially being down 3 goals at the midway mark.

Price was tested by 25 shots. The first goal was the result of bad rebound control; he should take the heat. The other 2 could be seen from different points of view. He was surprised by the Tinordi turnover behind the net and failed to make the best lateral movement on the Baertschi marker. The Glenncross screen and tip is a goal that should have been addressed by having the slot cleared by his defenders. 

In the end, Montreal did put 35 shots towards goal and only beat Macdonald on 2 occasions. Despite having many strong chances to score, the inability to comeback from a 3 goal deficit early on put them away.

They take on the Oilers tonight and will be facing another team that is equally if not superior in speed and skill. They must jump on the fact that they boast a lackluster defense and unconvincing goaltending to emerge victorious.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Schneider returns to Vancouver

Last night the New Jersey Devils visited the Vancouver Canucks.

While most fans in Vancouver are accustomed to seeing one of Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider in nets. Tuesday night, they were able to see both at the same time.

During the NHL entry draft last season, each team made a splash. The Devils dealt the 9th overall selection to Vancouver in exchange for Cory Schneider. Many speculated that Luongo would be the one shipped out. He was admittedly surprised when his name was not the one called to leave town.

Never the less, the NHL is still a business and managers must act accordingly in what they believe is in the best interest of their clubs.

For the Devils, they acquired the heir to the Hall of Fame bound Brodeur. And the Canucks...they acquired a top ten selection and drafted center Bo Horvat.

For many years fans of each franchise will wonder what could have been.

On the Vancouver side, will Luongo remain on top of his game and help the Canucks make the most of their seemingly closing window of opportunity to win a Stanley cup? Will Horvat become a top-6 forward for them worthy of trading away their "goaltender of the future"?

As for the Devils, they have their heir apparent now, but wil Schneider fill in the void that will be left when Brodeur decides to hang up the skates? Or should they have drafted a blue chip prospect to help bolster an aging roster, currently the oldest in the league?

Right now, it is impossible to gauge who won the deal.

For Montreal Canadiens fans, this scenario can be compared to the Eller/Halak trade with St-Louis. A forward prospect in exchange for a goalie who had just gotten his team to a conference final. Right now, Montreal is quite content with how Eller is playing, and St-Louis is also happy with Halak, despite his inability to remain healthy. It would appear as though it was a win-win using hindsight.

Although many deals in the NHL typically favor one side. It would be nice to see another deal work out in each clubs best interest. This particular deal does have the pieces to make that a possibility.

(Photo Courtesy of Vancouver Sun) 

Lars Eller Ready To Shine

Montreal Canadiens center Lars Eller has all the talent in the world to become a premier two-way player in the NHL and Habs fans are finally seeing why the organization acquired his services in exchange for goaltender Jaroslav Halak back in June 2010.

The 24-year-old Dane is now entering his fourth season as an NHL forward, a season that oftens translate into a 25% offensive breakout for NHL forwards. After an uneventful first season with the Habs during which he recorded a mere 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points in 77 games, the first-round draft pick in 2007 improved his offensive numbers in 2008, notching 16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points in 79 contests.

Last season, Eller found himself centering two rookies, Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk, during most of the season. The influx of talent on wings helped bolster his offensive production to a very interesting 8 goals and 22 assists for 30 points in only 46 games because of the lock-out. Over a full season those numbers would translate into a 14 goals and 38 helpers for 52 points!

Including the first two games of the season, Eller has now accumulated 18 points (7 g and 11 a) in his last 14 regular season games with Montreal (excluding last playoffs). If Eller hadn't been knocked out of the series last Spring by a vicious neutral-zone bodycheck laid out by Ottawa Senators' defenseman Eric Gryba, who knows if the Habs would have been eliminated by the Sens in the first round.

Eller was even named the NHL's second star of the first week of action in 2013 after recording 3 goals and 2 assists for 5 points in only 2 games. Eller has also improved dramatically on face-offs, posting a .515% efficiency so far in 2013-14 (he finished with .493% in 2012-13, .466% in 2011-12 and .425 % in 2010-11, respectively).

Eller and his linemates, dubbed the EGG line, are steadily seeing their playing time increase as they have been the Canadiens' best line so far this season. With the increased responsibilities will come more power play time, which will translate into more points for Eller and the Gallys. Eller is currently ranked sixth among Habs forwards with an average of 3:11 TOI/G on the man advantage after playing a mere 42 seconds per game on average on the power play last season!

Stronger and faster, Eller is on a mission this season after bulking up during the off-season! The 6'2'', 215-lb pivot has everything you want in a first-line center: a high hockey IQ, the speed, the grit, and the play-making ability that every NHL coach is looking for.

Eller is ready to shine this season with the Habs and don't be surprised if the young Dane finishes as the team's leading point getter among forwards, battling the team's scoring title with Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban.

No Foolin' Fred Poulin

Monday, October 7, 2013

Laviolette relieved from Head Coaching duties

The Philadelphia Flyers etched themselves into the NHL record books this morning. The quickest coach firing in league history.

A mere 3 games into the 2013-2014 season the Philadelphia Flyers have made the first bench shake-up in the league. Peter Laviolette has been fired and taking his place as interim head coach will be assistant coach, Craig Berube

This is just another move in the long line of  decisions General Manager Paul Holmgren has made. This should not come as a surprise to those who are aware of his tendency to make rather significant moves in what he deems is best for the franchise. The Richards and Carter trades, the Bryzgalov signing, the Weber offer sheet, Briere buy-out and Lecavalier signing are some of the more notable transactions he has been at the forefront of.

This has to be the "writing on the wall" for Holmgren who is surely feeling the pressure from ownership to produce a playoff contender.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Flyers Fire Head Coach

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Habs/Flyers post game October 5th 2013

The Philadelphia flyers came and left Saturday night at the Bell Center with their heads down.

A final score of 4-1 in favor of the home team did in small part make up for the loss in the home opener.

Winning this game was an important step in the right direction for the Canadiens who start their west coast trip having gotten their first win out of the way.

Showing up in a big way was the (unofficially named) EGG line. Eller proved he's here to play. He put up another 2 points with one goal and setting up Gallagher for his marker. Each member of the line got 2 points and this could easily become the premier line by year's end.

Captain Brian Gionta posted a multi point game(1G/1A) and it means much more for the captain that he does it in front of the home crowd. Gionta, having suffered injury setbacks in recent memory, was able to remind the fans why he's the captain and still a valuable piece to the puzzle.

Defensively, the Canadiens played a very sound game. The Flyers were unable to generate any kind of momentum and that was in large part to the success of the Habs penalty killing. Standing out for the penalty kill were Jared Tinordi. He lead all Habs in shorthanded TOI. Also making his appearance was Ryan White. He logged in some shorthanded minutes and was noticeably effective. Although they accorded one late goal in the game, that goal was more about pride for Philadelphia than it was about making a late game push.

On a similar note, while the power play did score twice, anyone watching will argue their club should have had more success.  Had they been able to set up any kind of regular possession in the Flyers zone, they likely would have put the game away much earlier in the game.

For Carey Price, while he did not need to make any highlight reel saves, he made the saves he needed to make. Being up 1-0 for nearly two periods puts stress on the goaltender to maintain that lead. He held himself together and provided the support the team needed to seal the deal in the third.

The absence of Max Paccioretty was not an issue on this night. The team scored 4 without him but his linemates did feel the pinch in their ice time. David Desharnais went from leading all forwards last game to a more suitable, middle of the pack role, finishing with 13 minutes. Ultimately, if he wants to become an important participant on the team he will need to find a way to up his game because he is already an early candidate for the doghouse player of the year.

On a brighter note it would seem as though coach Therrien did listen to the fans when they asked that PK Subban be given more ice time. He lead the team with 28 minutes played and can even be credited for the goal judge's tic to jump the gun early when he ripped one that got lost in the mesh. More importantly he showed why he is a Norris winner. Offensively he posted an assist but it wasn't just about the offense. He was calm and cool under pressure and made the rest of the D feel the same way.

The Canadiens are west coast bound taking on the Canadian teams before heading home again. This 4 game road trip would normally be a big concern. This trip should be a little different though. The teams they face are not the cream of the Western crop and while Vancouver still has a legitimate team, an argument can be made that the glass is less full than it was in years past.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Parros Incident Will Not Change Fighting in the NHL

Parros Incident Will Not Change Fighting in the NHL
By: Shawn Lavoie @ SLavoie54

Trent McCleary in 2000, Donald Audette in 2001, Richard Zednik in 2002, Max Pacioretty in 2011, Lars Eller last season, and already this season George Parros on opening night. This is just a short list of players to suffer a gruesome injury at the Bell Centre. Fans in Montreal are witnessing far too many of these types of injuries, and some could argue that the arena is cursed.

Parros, luckily, was alert and responsive once he got to the hospital and suffered no fractures. Best wishes for him, and let’s hope we will see him again in a Habs uniform this season.

This sad incident has brought back the question: Should fighting be banned?

Every player who has been asked the question after the incident has unanimously answered "no". They all say that fighting is a part of the game. Parros’ incident is just an unfortunate accident, and they’re right.
It is known that more players suffer concussions as a result of hitting than fighting. Should they remove hitting from the game? Of course not!
As for the journalists, a majority of them are saying fighting has no place in the game. They argue that the Olympics offer the best type of hockey, and while this is true. It helps their cause that only the best players from every country participate.
When a fourth line is composed of say – hypothetically – Patrick Sharp, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry, it helps the show. There are not many match-ups in hockey that can beat Team Canada versus Team USA, or Team Russia.
While there is no denying that when the Canadiens will face the Red Wings, with the style both teams play; fighting will not be required to put on a great sho
However, it is hard to imagine the Habs face the Bruins, the Maple Leafs, or the Senators without having at least one good tussle. Yes, those games are extremely fun to watch, as we are witnesses to fast, physical play, and the atmosphere in the building is incredible.
Tuesday’s game was a great example of this. Personally, seeing a good fight is just icing on the cake. A fight happening in the heat of the moment provides great entertainment for the fans and they love it.
As made clear in the last paragraph, you can probably conclude I’m not in favor of banning fighting in the NHL. I am however,  in favor of diminishing the number of fights. Adam Proteau from The Hockey News offers an interesting option for this. He offers to keep fighting in the game, but to have the players ejected after the fight.
I favor his proposition. Because rivalry games will still feature fights, when a star player is victim of a questionable hit, a teammate can still go to his aid
The fact of the matter is, players still prefer to play a full game, so fighting will diminish, and eventually, the role of the enforcer might disappear. As much as I like to see a good fight, I’m not in favor of having a player paid to punch faces.
As for coaches, none will say they like to coach a game without a complete lineup. (Having eleven forwards or five defenders is not ideal).
Fighting still serves its purpose. It can keep cheap shot artists honest. A player may stay calm win he sees a player like a Milan Lucic can go running after him. It is also a way to retaliate when an opponent runs over your goaltender.
The one thing though that a good fight always provides is a jump start for the fans. Look around in the stands when a fight starts, and you will see that no one is in their seats. Sometimes a game may be a little boring, suddenly,  two players drop the mitts and the fans will come to their senses. They will eventually settle down if the game doesn’t pick up, but a fight can at least create a spark and liven up a place.
With that said, “enforcers” and the “staged fight” have no place in hockey.
It’s just a pointless act of violence. Sadly, the league will probably not do anything. Many fans enjoy the violence, and there is nothing that is more violent in the NHL than a fight. With the players who are unanimously in favor of keeping fighting in the game, and with teams liking players who are able to drop the gloves, the league will not budge.
Despite the proof that fighters suffer from problems caused by repeatedly fighting, nothing will be done. As mentioned earlier, I don’t want to see fighting banned, but diminished. I think that fighting does serve its purpose, BUT the role of the enforcer shouldn’t have its place anymore.  Sadly, nothing will change. Fighting is part of the game, and it will not go anywhere anytime soon, and because of that the role of the enforcer will remain.

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Follow me on Twitter at SLavoie54