Saturday, February 28, 2009


Pierre Lebrun notes on tonight that Alexei Yashin is a free agent in Russia and exploring options in the NHL as he's interested in coming back to North America.

Now THAT would be out of left field...

Updates On The Evening

  • A great game tonight between Montreal and San Jose. The Sharks dominated until a Georges Laraque fight (yes, Georges is actually still alive, I know many were concerned he had gone missing), and after the fight the Canadiens took over. Three unanswered goals in ten minutes. Against the best team in the league. 3-0 Habs. And great, great play on behalf of Mathieu Schneider. This guy is the lucky charm of the year.
  • Bill Guerin took the warm-up tonight for the Islanders and then left the ice, he is not injured. Has he been traded? Time will tell.
  • Kari Lehtonen is coveted by Philadelphia: CBC
  • Brian Campbell available: CBC
  • Brian Burke scouting the Bruins, potential Kaberle deal: CBC
  • Vancouver in the mix for Jay Bouwmeester: CBC, Daniel Sedin being pursued (but not Henrik)
  • Alex Burrows available: CBC
  • Two dozen teams have made offers for Martin St. Louis: Pierre Lebrun, CBC
  • Erik Cole back to Carolina: CBC
  • Milan Hedjuk is available, but was hurt tonight: CBC
  • Canadiens still after Jokinen: Lebrun, CBC
  • Leafs turned down an offer for Ian White: CBC
  • Leafs will deal Jamal Mayers: CBC
  • Columbus GM Scott Howson scouted tonight's Leafs-Sens game, word is he may be after Antropov

Bruins and Ducks Agree to Pronger Deal: Source

Other Rumours:

  • Pierre Lebrun from ESPN and HNIC reports that Tampa winger Martin St. Louis invoked his trade clause to block a move to Pittsburgh this week.
  • Derek Morris will be traded, and until then will not play in Coyotes games:

Gazette: Canadiens After Top End Defenceman

Bouwmeester mentioned, Kaberle more likely, Pronger anyone?

Link here:

  • The rumour, by the way, is Higgins and Subban or McDonaugh for Kaberle

Streaking Habs Meet Surging Sharks

Big game tonight in Montreal, as the Canadiens (winners of their last 3) face off against San Jose (victories in 5 of their last 6) in what many people thought might be a Stanley Cup preview back at the start of the year. While the Sharks have managed to live up to those lofty expectations so far this season (not that regular season success is anything new to them), the Canadiens have taken a slightly rougher road through their first 62 games. After a prolonged Western slump the Habs seem to have things back in order though, and look to keep it going tonight against one of the top teams in the league.

Key to the recent success has been the resurgence of the once vaunted powerplay with the acquisition of Mathieu Schneider, who tallied two points on the PP last night including the game winner in OT. Jaroslav Halak has also become a stabilizing presence in goal, and Tomas Plekanec has been absolutely on fire with 9 points (6 goals) in the 5 games played since returning from his 2-game suspension. Alex
"L'Artiste" Kovalev has been equally hot of late, totaling 7 points in the three games back after his team-imposed exile.

With the deadline looming it will be interesting to see how management decides to go about tinkering with the roster, since the quality of play lately has been very solid. With Alex Tanguay and Guillaume Latendresse due to return before too much longer there will also be improvements available from within the team itself, although that hasn't stopped people from talking about the availability of Keith Tkachuk and Olli Jokinen to fill some needs up front. Needless to say it should be an eventful few days leading up to the March 4 deadline, and we'll do our best to keep you completely up to date on all of the important news.

Enjoy the game tonight everybody!

Is four in the cards?

Three in a row is great, four in a row is impressive. Can they do it?

For your enjoyment, Mathieu Schneider after scoring the winner in overtime last night. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Three's a Streak

What a game. Halak looks fantastic. Koivu comes through with faceoff magic late. And L'Artiste with three points again. The Habs are back ladies and gentlemen.

Mathieu Schneider, again, looked great anchoring the power play. His booming shot has added a dimension the Canadiens were sorely missing. Mike Komisarek also had a very strong game, playing physical against a very tough Philadelphia team.

And lastly, new Hab Glen Metropolit looked great against his old team. Wearing #15, he played very strong on a line with Tom Kostopolous. Looks like another strong move by Gainey.

In Bob We Trust.


From the Buffalo News, Tim Connolly to Columbus for Rostislav Klesla.

Also of note, Jacques Martin was scouting tonight's Canadiens-Flyers game.

Game Day - Philadelphia

Big game in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings, with the Canadiens coming in 4 points behind the Flyers for fourth place and having played 2 more games overall. Things have been rolling along fairly well of late for the Habs with wins in their last two, so they look to keep it going tonight.

In an interesting aside, the Canadiens acquired Glen Metropolit earlier this afternoon and had him in the starting lineup tonight to take the opening faceoff against his old team (possibly angering the other 4th line players already on the roster who've been fighting/demanding trades for ice time, but that's an argument for another time). I suppose that there's something to be said for making the new guy feel at home and all, but you'd think that you'd at least try and get him one practice and a jersey with a permanent nameplate before throwing him out there to see what happens. Through one period it's been a bit up and down, but thankfully it looks like things are settling into place and the team is adjusting to the new lineup (a usual exercise in Montreal anyway).

Rumours today, game tonight

Halak starts tonight against the Flyers in Philadelphia. Time will tell if the reincarnation of Ken Dryden will again turn away dozens of shots, or if the Canadiens defence will break down. 7 pm EST start, on TSN in Canada. Should be a great game.

UPDATE: Habs grab Glen Metropolit off waivers. Ossi Vaananen grabbed by Vancouver.

Rumours today:

  • Bob Gainey has told Mathieu Dandenault he will attempt to accomodate his trade request
  • Boston is moving hard towards acquiring Chris Pronger: The Four Period and NESN
  • Pittsburgh and Toronto are discussing a Tomas Kaberle trade
  • Sean Avery will be on re-entry waivers come Monday: Sportsnet
  • Niklas Backstrom "must be signed by Minnesota or he'll be dealt" - Pierre McGuire, TEAM 990
  • "Canadiens should be after Keith Tkachuk" - Pierre McGuire

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trade Requests

With the movement of Steve Begin earlier today, and the general unrest of Mathieu Dandenault and Georges Laraque implying that they too would like to be traded, there seems to be an alarming trend of Canadiens depth players wanting to get out (the fact that they're predominantly French-Canadian will likely also get some press). While this is clearly (and somewhat understandably) the result of there not being enough ice time to go around with a large number of young players working into similar roles in the lineup this season, the public way in which these claims have been coming out kills any potential trade values these players would have (Begin was traded for somebody who has to clear waivers; a possible swap that could net the Canadiens nothing in return).

While I'm all for guys like Begin and Dandenault getting the chance to play somewhere else given that their talents were squandered in Montreal on account of depth, it's still a bit painful to see them hanging the team out to dry in terms of a potential return. Almost everybody who leaves Montreal (with Samsonov and Grabovski being notable recent exceptions) talks about how much they enjoyed their time with the Canadiens, so it's too bad that they wind up hurting that same team (and consequently limiting the quality of teams they themselves could be moved to) by publicly demanding trades so close to the deadline.

In other news, with so much 4th line grit and character wanting to leave the team, look for a move to acquire Ian Laperriere to be become a much more reasonable possibility. Also, with salary continuing to come off of the cap, other, bigger-name talent might also work its way into the Habs' deadline day discussions. As always, we'll keep you posted on any developments in this regard as soon as we have the information.

Mathieu Dandenault Requests a Trade

Theme for the week?

Update: Gainey has said he will comply with Dandenault's request. 

  • Apparently, Boston is the front runner for Chris Pronger, and a trade would involve coveted forward Phil Kessel. Any situation where Pronger ends up on Boston is unacceptable, and must be stopped! Wow would they be good...
Source: NESN,

CJAD Montreal: Steve Begin Traded to Dallas

More to come...

Update: For Doug Janik:

The First Big Trade of The Season...

To Pittsburgh: Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi
To Anaheim: Ryan Whitney

Hmm Anaheim adds a defenceman, is Pronger on the move soon? 


  • Martin Gerber on re-entry waivers (as per AM 640, Toronto).
  • Philadelphia defenceman Ossi Vaananen is also on waivers. 
  • Laraque hints at retirement:

Jokinen on the move? And updates as they come...

  • According to TSN, Olli Jokinen and the Phoenix Coyotes have agreed a trade is best for all parties. The question is where he may go, as a team needs to take on Jokinen's sizeable salary. Bob McKenzie did say two weeks ago that Bob Gainey was interested in adding Jokinen to the Habs. More here: 

The Calm Before the Storm

Tomorrow: Philadelphia. Saturday: San Jose. Two big games. Could be a four game winning streak, or it could be a two game losing streak. 

Based on our latest poll results, Most of you believe Alex Kovalev is the key to Canadiens playoff success. Saku Koivu and Carey Price were a close second and third. Georges Laraque received zero votes. Perhaps another sign that Big Georges really is on his way out? We shall see.

More to come today, as it happens.


  • A slightly odd comment from Carey Price in today's Gazette: "My dad always said your sins will sort you out. He's a pretty religious man and evidently he was right." And on that note...
  • Canadiens players were tested for banned substances today by the NHL, perhaps a bit of fallout from the events of last week. More here:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Update on the Enemy

From the Globe and Mail's Alan Maki comes word that the New York Rangers are, in fact, planning on bringing Sean Avery back, and in the very near future. John Tortorella apparently agreed to coaching Avery before he was hired. 

The Rangers, currently battling it out for a 4-8 spot in the Eastern Conference, lost 2-1 tonight in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have begun their annual late season charge for ninth place.

Gainey's Deadline List

With the shot against my insistence of looking at the cap restraints of any possible deals aside, I suppose I can consider the 5 trades proposed. Remember, I'll primarily be judging these in terms of talent and impact, and not worrying quite as much about the possibility of them ever actually happening in reality (as much as it pains me to do so).

Trade 1: I like it. The Canadiens give up negligible factors in the short term and add a proven commodity in Cole. Granted, he'd likely get injured immediately upon arriving in Montreal given his history and the luck that has befallen virtually all of their recent additions (Lang and Tanguay have both missed significant time; Schneider currently fears for his well-being), but for the time that he was healthy he'd be a logical fit. It would also prevent Boston from acquiring him (the more likely outcome in reality), which would be a plus.

Trade 2: Very good idea, and also very plausible. Lapperiere would add all kinds of character and grit which the team sorely lacks. You could pair him with Lapierre and Kostopoulos or Begin and have a great 4th line.

Trade 3: While the payout is minimal, this won't happen. Price and Halak are locked on to the roster, and the team can't really justify paying a roster position to act as a mentor. If you wanted to bring him in as an "assistant goalie coach" then fine, but no way a roster position should be sacrificed. Also, does anybody really think that Brian Burke will trade with Montreal?

Trade 4: I think the Habs would be better served keeping Begin and finding a way to get him into the lineup. Why he's relegated to the press box so often is baffling. He's just the sort of motivated player that a good fourth line needs, and having him on the roster and not taking advantage of it is criminal.

Trade 5: The hardest one to assess. It basically comes down to whether or not a loan of Selanne is worth a solid young player in Higgins and a versatile D-man in Boullion. If the Canadiens were primed for a deep playoff run then yes, it would be fine, but in their current position it would be better to trade for somebody with the potential to stick around for a couple of years rather than being a one-and-done like Selanne. I say no deal here.

What does everybody else think? Are any of these deals better/worse than we're making them out to be? Is there anything else that you think the Habs should/shouldn't be doing at the deadline? We'd love to hear what you think.

Bob Gainey's Deadline List

Now it's important we get feedback, so feel free to dissect these proposals!

Alright, not really, but my predictions for Canadiens trades before next Wednesday, March 4: Deadline Day. I am making trades from the perspective that the Canadiens have a good team and have a chance come playoff time. So yes, the Habs may be losing some youth and depth, but let's take a chance and go for it (for once).

(if I get one right, I'll be happy)

Trade #1: 

To Edmonton: Mathieu Carle (prospect), Georges Laraque, 3rd Round Pick
To Montreal: Erik Cole, 5th Round Pick

Why?: Erik Cole is a proven, effective scorer in the playoffs with size and strength. He can play on any of the top three lines and make a difference. He's also played a little at centre, so he adds much needed depth. Laraque wants out, Edmonton loves him, and he loves Edmonton. Great trade for all. 

Trade # 2: 

To Colorado: 3rd Round Pick, Brock Trotter (prospect)
To Montreal: Ian Lapperiere

Why?: Lapperiere adds some much needed sandpaper for the 4th line, replacing Laraque. Not only that, he can score, and will stand up for teammates when necessary. He's Tom Kostopolous, bigger, stronger, and he'll be a hit with the fans. 

Trade # 3:

To Montreal: Curtis Joseph
To Toronto: 7th Round Pick

Why?: Joseph doesn't play now. He's the only experienced veteran who will come in and be comfortable perhaps even being a number three. He played well last year in the playoffs. And he can give advice to Halak and Price as the pressure mounts. A solid acquisition with little risk and great potential reward.

Trade # 4: 

To Minnesota: Steve Begin
To Montreal: 4th Round Pick

Why?: Minnesota is always looking for toughness come playoff time. Begin brings that and more. Most Habs fans love him, but its only fair to trade him so he has the chance to play, and Minnesota is a good fit.

Trade # 5:

To Montreal: Teemu Selanne, 3rd round pick
To Anaheim: Chris Higgins, Francis Bouillon

Why?: Selanne and Koivu have chemistry. This trade gives the Canadiens the chance to win now. Selanne would bring a dimension this team is missing: a pure goal scorer. Higgins has not lived up to his potential, and Latendresse is coming back and can fill his role. 

Perhaps The Doc will now conduct a financial review and prove these impossible in a cap world, but they seem reasonable, and if any of them happen, I'll be happy. 

If I'm Bob Gainey...

So if I'm Bob Gainey today, before this Larque situation becomes an issue, I try and move him. And Edmonton is the prime target, as the Oilers always loved Georges, and vice versa. He still has significant ties to the organization and within the community. Despite the Ruutu for Cole rumour, would this work:

Georges Laraque
Mathieu Carle


Erik Cole

What do you think? Should Bob deal Laraque? Would this type of move be possible?

More on the Laraque situation:

Rumour Update
  • Brian Burke stated definitively on radio this afternoon that he expects a player, a 1st round pick, and a to prospect for Tomas Kaberle. In essence, he's looking for the same sort of package he paid to Edmonton for Chris Pronger three years ago. 

Two NHL Roster Moves

  • Scott Clemmensen is demoted to the AHL by the New Jersey Devils. As he was an emergency call-up, he does not need to clear waivers. This has been confirmed by the TEAM 990 and the Devils' website.

  • Mark Bell has been claimed off re-entry waivers by the New York Rangers from the Toronto Maple Leafs. No word yet on whether Bell will play tonight against his former team. Confirmed by Sportsnet's Hockey Central at Noon. 
  • Georges Laraque has indicated he wishes to be traded. Reported by PJ Stock on the TEAM 990.
One week to deadline day...


  • Patrick Lalime is quite ill with the flu, and Buffalo has no healthy goalies left to call up from their AHL affiliate. As such, they may be in the market for a goalie given that they are in the playoff race. Detailed info here:

  • Carolina and Edmonton are in discussions to swap Tuomo Ruutu for Erik Cole. As discussed by Globe and Mail writer Mark Spector on the FAN 590 in Toronto. 
  • Bob Gainey has told winger Steve Begin that he will be dealt if the Canadiens can not use him down the stretch. (Globe and Mail)

Goalie Competition and More

With the recent ascension of Jaroslav Halak into the starting role, you have to wonder how this will sit with Carey Price going forward. While he'll obviously downplay the situation in the media, and everyone always says that having two quality players in net pushing each other is a positive (it's worked well for Boston so far this year), you have to assume that being pushed to the side (even if only temporarily) after being handed the reigns to the team at the trade deadline last year is something of a wake up call for a young player. Whether this is another motivational factor like we saw with the Kovalev banishment or just a case of going with the hot hand at a critical time of the year is unclear, but it could certainly lead to some interesting discussions within the team if Halak keeps up his solid play from the last couple of games.

Part of me also has to wonder if Price has ever fully recovered from his injury earlier in the year, since he clearly rushed himself back in time to start the All Star game. His play since that return has been sub-standard to say the least, so it begs the question of whether there's still something lingering there that we'll only find out about at some later date.

On the topic of injuries, it's a bit disappointing to hear that Tanguay has suffered another minor setback and will be delayed in his return for a few more days, although that is tempered by the news that Robert Lang sounds like he will make a full recovery from his Achilles injury that some thought could end his career. Although it's unlikely that he'll suit up for the Canadiens again this year (or maybe ever given his pending UFA status), the fact that they're talking about a return to the NHL is still a very positive fact.

In non-Canadiens news, it will interesting to see how the hiring of John Tortorella in New York impacts the potential for a Sean Avery comeback. Tortorella didn't have a lot of great things to say about Avery during his brief stint as an NHL on TSN commentator, but whether those opinions carry over into the dressing room of your own struggling team remains to be seen.

Well Deserved Rest Day

The Canadiens are off today, and return to action Friday in Philadelphia against the Flyers. It is a reasonable bet that Jaroslv Halak will start again, after a dominating performance against a once hot Vancouver offence, led by Mats "The Sellout" Sundin. 

In injury news, Alex Tanguay may return Friday or Saturday, but it could be another week before he laces up for a game. Francis Bouillon appears gone 2-4 weeks with a leg injury. And there are now whispers that, if the Canadiens get to the second round, Robert Lang will be able to return from a severed achilles tendon.

Today's Rumours
  • Bob McKenzie reported on the TEAM 990 this morning that Vincent Lecavalier "will not be traded this season."
  • McKenzie also noted Chris Pronger "will very likely be traded, but at draft time and not in the next week."
  • Alex Kovalev appears off the block, as per McKenzie and comments by Pierre Mcguire
  • Rumours continue to persist that the Bruins are after either Pronger or Tomas Kaberle
  • Devils send Clemmensen to the minors: TEAM 990

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Today's Rumour Recap

For your trade-deadline-approaching-pleasure:

  • Bouwmeester is available: Florida GM Jacques Martin
  • Lecavalier is not available: Tampa GM Brian Lawton
  • Something brewing in Denver, potential trade with Pittsburgh or Boston, possibly Hedjuk, possibly Staal or Fernandez going to Colorado: Denver Post
  • Brendan Witt getting ready to move: Interview with Brendan Witt
  • Kovalev not available: Pierre McGuire on the TEAM 990
  • Scott Gomez is being shopped: Pierre McGuire
  • Wade Redden will be dealt if anyone wants him: Various Outlets
  • Chris Pronger will be traded, but probably not until the summer: Bob McKenzie

Habs Conquer Canucks

The Canadiens do the impossible, beating Roberto Luongo in Montreal, despite being drastically outshot by Vancouver. And a shutout nonetheless. Two words for you: Jaroslav Halak. If there wasn't a serious goaltending controversy in Montreal earlier today, there is now.  Kovalev with another assist and some great offensive plays, and Koivu with perhaps the play of the year getting the puck out of the zone, while on his stomach, after a 4 minute penalty kill, passing to Plekanec for the breakaway goal.

First win against Vancouver since 2000. Two wins in a row.

How Sweet It Is. 

Big rumour making the rounds tonight is an impending trade between the Avalanche and either Boston, Pittsburgh, or both. More on that here:

A Few Thoughts

I like the choice to go with Halak tonight. While conventional wisdom might suggest that you go with the "franchise" in Price, at this point in the year you need to go with the guy that gives the team the best chance to win and solidify playoff position. Right now, that's Halak.

It's nice to see that Tanguay is nearing his return. He was a solid contributor before the injury, and the team could certainly use his playmaking abilities down the stretch.

A lot of talk (here and elsewhere) has focused on what the Habs will/won't do at the much vaunted trade deadline. I for one think that the acquisition of Schneider was all we'll see from Bob Gainey this year. With only about $350k in free cap space, there isn't much room to maneuver unless somebody like a Hamrlik or Kovalev is moved. Additionally, with players like Tanguay and Latendresse slated to return before the end of the season, the team will actually be improved over it's current state without having to make any moves outside of their own roster. That seems like the smartest route to follow, leading into a more productive offseason when cap room is cleared rather than tearing everything down for a deadline day "quick-fix" that would be doomed to failure.

The McDonalds commercials featuring J.C. Petit are awesome. That guy can play, although the new Russian might be some serious competition...

Van City Visits the Phone Booth

Vancouver comes into town tonight having won four straight, with free-agent mercenary Mats Sundin having scored the shootout winning goal Saturday night against Toronto. Sundin, or as I like to call him, Mats Sellout, has kicked into high gear lately and added a significant weapon to the Canucks once anemic offence. Also hot for the Canucks, Ryan Kesler appears to be the solid, two way centre Bobby Clarke insisted he was going to be.

Jaroslav Halak starts for the Habs after another solid effort against Ottawa on Saturday. The Canadiens seem to routinely give up 40-odd shots these days, but it doesn't seem to matter when Halak is in net. Carey Price watches from the bench yet again as Guy Carbonneau tries to inspire his once dominant starter by challenging his role in net with Halak.

Alex Kovalev is coming off a three point game for the Canadiens, which also featured the talents of Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn. Mathieu Schneider again scored for the Habs against Ottawa, and the powerplay is clicking at 60% since Schneider's acquisition from the Thrashers.

Alex Tanguay, expected to play versus Vancouver, will not be back tonight, he was not cleared by doctors and will aim for Thursday's game as his return. 


  • Jacques Martin told a Florida newspaper he is willing to deal Jay Bouwmeester.
  • Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton told a Tampa newspaper he will "never, ever, ever" deal Vincent Lecavalier.
  • Even scarier than Kaberle: Pronger to the Bruins?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ten days to go

The trade deadline is 10 days away, next Wednesday, March 4. First time it has not been on a Tuesday that I can remember.

Will Bob make another move? What do the Habs need? Who is likely to come and go? The Doc and I will have our trade preview snippets up in the next few days. Essentially, a summary of what may happen in Montreal by next Wednesday.

Until then, we'll keep on keeping on with normal Habs and NHL updates. Renney fired today, Tortorella looking hired, and rumours of Kaberle to *shudder* Boston. That would not be good for Les Canadiens. 

For your viewing pleasure...

There were rumours that Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke was "twittering." Obviously, to anyone who'd read about it, it was a hoax. But apparently, some people actually believed it was Burke. Well, Burke confirmed today it was not him. But some twitter's were humourous. Here's my favourite, from last night.


With the firing of Tom Renney today, the coaches of all 4 of the teams that began their seasons in Europe this year (Ottawa, Tampa, Pittsburgh and New York) have now been replaced.

With Detroit, St. Louis, Florida and Chicago tentatively slated to make the trip next year, I wonder how many of those coaches are starting to feel a little apprehension about their own job security should their club happen to get off to a slow start?

A Quiet Day

A nice change from the fodder of last week. Not much new, except that Tanguay practiced as a regular today on the second line, and Saku Koivu missed practice with what Carbonneau said was the flu. Big game at home against the Canucks tomorrow. 

Also of note, the Rangers fired head coach Tom Renney hours ago, and are said to be deep into negotiations with John Tortorella for the new job, according to the FAN 590 in Toronto. That would mean Tortorella leaves his analyst job at TSN.

No word yet on whether TSN is negotiating to hire Tom Renney.


The Tampa Bay Lightning have filed tampering charges against he New York Rangers - but not over the hiring of John Tortorella. Can anyone say Vinny L?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

An interesting appearance tonight... former coach Jean Perron on Tout Le Monde Parle tonight on tv in Quebec. Perron started "partygate" about a week ago. Tonight, he disclosed a few new facts:

  •  Ryan O'Byrne "took one for the team" by taking a woman's purse last year and getting arrested as the woman had compromising pictures of teammates on her cell phone.
  • Cristobal Huet *may* have been a player involved in that incident, hence his being traded rather suddenly last year at the deadline for a draft pick.
  • Perron previously spoke to Bob Gainey earlier this season about the behaviours of certain players which he had learned about. Perron said he was under the impression Gainey was already aware.
  • He spoke out because he does not want to see the team lose. He just wants them to win. and...
  • Most importantly, he is worried for Carey Price. He doesn't really care about the other players, but Price is so good that he can win the Canadiens the Stanley Cup. Perron hopes Gainey and Carbonneau can help Price get back on track, and quick.
Thank you Jean Perron, maybe...? 

Mr. Smyth Goes to Montreal?

With talk of the potential acquisition of Ryan Smyth being thrown around, you have to stop and consider the salary cap implications that a deal like that would entail. With his contract in the range of 6 million dollars, and no guarantees how the cap number will change in the coming years, you'd be seriously impacting your potential to re-sign upcoming UFAs like Tanguay, Koivu, Kovalev and Komisarek, as well as RFAs Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak in the following year.

If a team was in a situation where the addition of one piece would put them over the top in their quest for a Cup then I'd likely consider the move and let the future take care of itself. Conversely, when you're in a much more ambiguous situation like the Canadiens find themselves this year, you have to weigh the relative pluses and minuses of a deal of this magnitude. In the "new" NHL salary cap room is as powerful a tool as the talent on your roster, and handcuffing yourself behind a bad contract (no matter how good the player) is just not a good way to go. If I were the Canadiens I'd hold on to my prospects and cap room rather than crippling the team with a trade for somebody like Smyth or Lecavalier and wait to see what the offseason will bring. With plenty of cap room available when all of their UFA contracts expire this summer, the Habs will be in the position to offer deals to the best talent available (UFAs on their own team or others, as well as through RFA offer sheets). While it may not seem to be the most appealing way to go in this season of high expectations, the team will ultimately be better off if they choose to avoid the deadline "quick fix" and instead take the long-term view.

Sunday Tidbits

I love Sundays. Why? Well, many reasons. But sports-wise, it's because Sunday is rumour day. All the newspapers seem to print their weekly rumours. Simmons, Garrioch, doesn't matter who it is, or whether they have any credibility, it's a fun way to end the week.

Two stick out today for the Canadiens. The first is not much of a rumour persay, but a clarification of what happened in the past. It comes from Steve Simmons in the Toronto Sun, who reported today in regards to Mats Sundin that: "One more Sundin truth: His agent contacted the Rangers and Montreal in a last-ditch effort to avoid signing in Vancouver. When neither responded, he moved West."

The other big news of the day comes from the Ottawa Sun. This morning's paper had this nugget, regarding a certain Avalanche winger:

"League sources say a possible solution the Habs are studying is Avalanche winger Ryan Smyth, who has three years left on his contract at an average of $6.25 million (all terms US) per season and is being shopped by Colorado GM Francois Giguere."

Now that would be a big, big move. And I have always thought Ryan Smyth would look great on the Habs. But his cap hit is enormous, and with the cap going down in two years he would potentially doom us to mediocrity.

One cheaper name I'll throw out there though, who may be available: Teemue Selanne.

Wouldn't the Finnish Flash looks great on the wing with Captain Koivu?

A Big Win for Les Canadiens

A great game this afternoon for the Habs as they prevail 5-3 over the hated Ottawa Senators. Alexei Kovalev was the man of the hour, with two beautiful set-ups, a goal, and great penalty kills for the Canadiens. Josh Gorges had a spirited fight, and Jaroslav Halak kept the Canadiens in it with some fairly solid goaltending. It will be interesting to see who Carbonneau starts Tuesday against Vancouver, as one can make a reasonable argument for both. 

A positive for the Canadiens: the power play continued to click, as Mathieu Schneider scored yet again in his Habs-redux. The Canadiens power play is a solid 7 for 12 since acquiring Schneider, and is quickly moving up in the NHL rankings from the terrible 30 where it once sat.

A great game, a great weekend, and a challenging week ahead. Will Kovalev and Koivu continue to lead the way? Will Gainey make another trade?

Will the real Carey Price please stand up?

Saturday, February 21, 2009


What a difference a day makes. Less than 24 hours after suffering through endless questions and allegations, the Canadiens came out with a solid team effort on the ice this afternoon in defeating the visiting Senators 5-3.

With the crowd firmly behind him the returning Alex Kovalev didn't disappoint, tallying 3 points and playing an excellent all-around game at both ends of the ice. The powerplay continued it's excellence following the addition of Mathieu Schneider, scoring 3 times and further proving that an effective shot from the point reminiscent of Sheldon Souray or Mark Streit has been sorely lacking for most of the year. As well, Jaroslav Halak was solid in goal, making a total of 44 stops with many of them coming at key points in the game.

The win should give the Habs some temporary relief from the media, as well as earning them 2 big points in the standings. Let's just hope that they can keep up this same sort of effort in their next game on Tuesday night when the Canucks come to town for a visit.

Hockey Day in Canada

Hope everybody out there is enjoying their "unofficial" holiday. With Hockey Day cards still a few years off, there's nothing for you to worry about today other than kicking back and watching about 12 hours of coverage on the CBC.

It will be interesting to see how the two teams react this afternoon, since the Habs have Kovalev returning to the lineup while the Sens counter with the additions of Comrie and Campoli. As we've already seen this week with the Canadiens' addition of Schneider, bringing a new body into the room can have a pretty positive effect on the effort level (even if it doesn't immediately translate into wins). As such, I'm expecting a solid effort from both teams today, although with Montreal clearly needing the win more (both from the standings and media points of view) I'm predicting a decidedly better effort on their part to try and right the ship.

All other stories aside, the reaction of the fans will quite possibly be the most interesting thing to watch for today. It could be resoundingly positive or negative after the drama of the last week, so it should be worth tuning in just to see that if nothing else. Who knows, maybe we'll even get to see a sign on par with the classic "Halak it Like That" from a few years back.

Enjoy the games everybody.

Happy Hockey Day in Canada Everyone

We hope you're enjoying the commentary from The Doc and I. Big game today, starts at 3 pm EST. It's Kovalev or bust, people. 

How will the fans respond to l'affaire Kostitsyn? Boos? Cheers? Ole Ole-ing? 

NHL News
  • Chris Gratton snagged off waivers from Columbus. This guy could be useful for a playoff run. Also suggests the rumours of Mike Peca being available could be true. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Just Another Day In Paradise...

To say that the circumstances surrounding the Canadiens today were "unusual" would be something of an understatement, as there were times when things seemed more reminiscent of a Jerry Springer episode than the day-to-day workings of an NHL franchise. While I won't belabour those discussions too much more here (adequate links have already been provided for your reading pleasure), I will raise the question of what exactly someone with mob connections could seek to gain with a reputed relationship to NHL players. In the immortal words of Homer Simpson:

"You mean the mob only did me a favor to get something in return?"

Given the uncertainty that still surrounds this whole situation there is much to be determined, so it will be interesting to see how things ultimately play out when everything is revealed.

Moving on to actual hockey matters, the Habs finally return home after their miserable road trip to face off with the Senators (who earlier today made a deal with the Islanders to acquire the services of Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli) in a Hockey Day in Canada matinee. Alex Kovalev returns to the lineup after his brief hiatus, and Jaroslav Halak is pegged for the start after a couple of pedestrian efforts from Carey Price (who seemed to struggle mightily with his rebound control last night). The team has clearly taken a beating both on and off the ice this week, and given the high expectations for the Centennial Season, it could very well be a cold reception from the home crowd if the team gets off to another slow start.

History has not been kind to the Canadiens in their Hockey Day forays, and in particular, the Sens have dealt them a couple of lopsided losses in recent years and look to rub further salt in the wounds tomorrow. With their playoff hopes fading faster by the day, the Canadiens need to find a way to rise above all of these recent controversies and come away with 2 points tomorrow to try and stop the bleeding (however temporary the relief might be).

What a crazy day...

Wow. Links to organized crime. Kovalev back in the fold. Halak back between the pipes. NHL investigations.

Quite the day in Habsland. As usual, we're trying to keep you up to date with news and commentary. Many media still say there is a lot more to come out, but let's be honest, this is Montreal: how could they keep anything jucier than this under wraps? So at this point, we here at The Drive for Twenty Five are looking forward to Hockey Day in Canada tomorrow, and the Canadiens annual thrashing at the hands of the Senators. Perhaps The Doc will touch on that later.

For now, we leave you with this: Bob Gainey held a press conference this afternoon to discuss the ongoing police investigation, and the return of Alexei Kovalev. 

Audio can be found on the HIO website, here:

Quite the 24 hours for the Canadiens.

Scandal Update

The NHL is sending security officials to meet with Montreal police as the investigation continues...

The Latest on 'Le Scandal'

So far, it doesn't seem that bad. However, various media personalities are saying this is the "tip of the iceberg." Essentially, three Canadiens (Kostitsyn, Kostitsyn Jr., and Hamrlik) have been implicated in the recent "Axe" crackdown of Quebec and Ontario police on gang activity. Specifically, the police have numerous phone calls between these players and an accused drug dealer/arms dealer/conspirer, the subject of which we can only speculate. However, players like Pierre Dagenais and Mike Ribeiro were shipped out for far less than this. Who knows how big this will get.

Francois Gangon elaborates on the story (in French), stating that this is only the beginning, and suggesting that many of the younger players have been partying all night and heading straight to practice from bars on game days. Perhaps this makes sense, as it would explain the Canadiens porous play over the past two months. 

In the meantime, Les Canadiens lost again last night. The shine is certainly coming off the 100th anniversary logo. They had better turn things around against Ottawa tomorrow or there could be serious changes. How low can they go? The Montreal Canadiens, January/February 2009: like a game of limbo involving 20 different guys. 

Oh, and Kovalev is back with the team today. Maybe that'll provide the spark that these guys need tomorrow against Ottawa. 


Team 990 reports that La Presse had further articles to run on the Canadiens and legal issues/problems that have arisen in recent weeks. However, these articles were pulled on the advice of La Presse lawyers. It is likely that they will be re-written and run this weekend or next week. According to PJ Stock and Tony Marinaro of Team 990, there is much more to come. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rumours out of Quebec...

...of a big scandal that will break tomorrow...TEAM 990 and RDS discussing it currently, whispers of potential criminal charges and serious embarrassment for Les Glorieux...not good...we'll keep you posted.

Kovalev Back Friday: RDS

RDS is reporting that Alex Kovalev will rejoin the Canadiens tomorrow, after he and Bob Gainey had a lengthy discussion today. Kovalev is expected back in the lineup Saturday versus Ottawa, but that decision will be left up to coach Guy Carbonneau.

Game Day - Pittsburgh

The Canadiens bring their media circus into the Mellon Arena tonight to face off with the Penguins in the last game of what has already been a memorable road trip (for all of the wrong reasons).

Alex Kovalev remains at home, and questions continue to surround his future with the team. While some believe that he's on his way out and would command a reasonable return on the open market, I'm inclined to believe that he'll be staying put in Montreal. As a UFA he'd only be desirable to a contender, but his numbers (and some would say attitude) so far this season haven't been good enough to warrant a reasonable return. While it's possible that his expiring contract would be enough for somebody in the rebuilding phase to pick him up in an attempt to clear some money off of the books, I think that Montreal would be better served with him in the lineup. It's not that long ago that he was an integral contributor in a team that was expected to challenge for a Conference title, and I think it's too early to write that off. The Habs are clearly more of a contender with him around than with just about anything he could be dealt for, so keeping him just feels like the best option.

The general unrest of players like Steve Begin and the recently demoted Sergei Kostitsyn is troubling, as team chemistry seems to be wearing ever thinner by the day. How much of this is related to the recent losing streak is hard to say, but I'm of the opinion that a few wins would go a long way to quieting some of these rumblings. Granted, everybody wants their playing time (and will advocate for it accordingly), but it's a lot easier for people in the media to run with these types of complaints when the team is losing and changes seem desirable.

As for the game tonight, going with the same lineup that played so well in Washington last night seems prudent. Perhaps removing the underachieving George Laraques in favour of somebody capable of contributing in a positive manner for the team might have been an option, but other than that I've got no complaints.

With the bottom of the standings in the East quickly becoming a quagmire, the Canadiens need to pull things together or they'll quickly be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. The Penguins have also been struggling of late (and find themselves in a similar playoff quandary), so I expect this to be a hotly contested affair. Crosby usually always brings his best when he plays against Montreal, so hopefully the Habs can weather the storm.

Canadiens at Penguins

Another day, another game...another loss? We'll see. Guy Carbonneau ices the same team tonight, with Carey Price starting after a strong effort last night in a shootout loss to the Washington Capitals.

The Alex Kovalev saga continues (and that's what it is, a saga). As well, Steve Begin is apparently now upset that he isn't playing. I can't blame him. He is the same type of player as Gregory Stewart, and yet Stewart was called up to play ahead of him. Furthermore, Begin makes $1.2 million, and Stewart makes (in NHL terms) next to nothing. If this were any other NHL city, Begin would be dealt, and he is valuable to contenders as a gritty, hard working fourth liner. However, he's French, and this in Montreal, so for at least a few more games he'll likely watch from the press-box.

Also, Georges Laraque. What does he do? Last night, he took a dumb penalty hitting Donald Brashear from behind. Otherwise, he did nothing. I can't believe we have this guy for another two years at $1.5 million. Perhaps Gainey's worst signing as Habs GM - but that's debatable.

And as for rumours, the same ones continue to swirl: Kovalev to Pittsburgh, Kovalev to Columbus, Kovalev responsible for economic crisis, Kovalev meeting in Ottawa with Obama. Etc. Etc. It just keeps going.

Ryan Smyth is apparently available (so says TSN). Now he might look good playing wing to Saku Koivu. But do the Canadiens have the cap room? No.

And lastly, the Habs powerplay came to life last night, going three for four. Mathieu Schneider looked great, playing 27 minutes. Can the Canadiens keep the PP momentum going this evening?

Doc, this is going to be a good one.

Better Effort, Same Result

The Canadiens' road woes continued last night, falling 4-3 to the Caps in a shootout. Unlike other recent defeats though, the team actually looked motivated and controlled the play for large portions of the game against a solid Washington squad. Unfortunately, a late goal by David Steckel forced extra time, where Tomas Plekanec had an amazing chance to beat Jose Theodore but was robbed by the inside of the post. Things were equally bad in the shootout, with goals by Alex Semin and Nicklas Backstrom sealing the victory and ruining what was otherwise a solid team effort from the Habs.

On the bright side, the powerplay found new life and scored 3 times (with goals by the beleaguered trio of Higgins, Plekanec and Kostitsyn Sr.), and Carey Price showed signs that he may be back to the form that we remember from earlier in the year. Mathieu Schnedier also looked to be at home back in the "bleu, blanc et rouge," playing a solid game and recording an assist in just over 27 minutes of ice time.

Montreal travels to Pittsburgh tonight, where they'll face a reeling Penguins team. If the work effort from last night carries over, expect this one to be an equally well-contested affair.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another Day, Another Loss...

The Montreal Canadiens, for the most part, held Alexander Ovechkin in check - but it was not to be. Washington threw 35 shots Carey Price's way, but despite his valiant efforts the Capitals defeated the Habs 4-3 in a shootout on goals from Niklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin. Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov were unable to score on behalf of the Canadiens.

The outcome could have been very different, however, as Price played spectacularly the entire game. Tomas Plekanec rang a shot off the inside of the post with 30 seconds left in overtime, and clearly had Jose Theodore beat. Another inch and the Canadiens win. Thems the breaks, as they say.

A good game for Price, Plekanec, Koivu, Higgins, Pacioretty Kostitsyn Sr. and Lapierre. A great debut for Mathieu Schneider. He looked solid, logged significant minutes, and contributed an assist on the power player. Also a great game for Alex Ovechkin. He is a hockey behemoth. How he scored his goal on Carey Price, with Kyle Chipchura essentially getting a piggy back as Ovechkin fell on his side, I will never understand. But that's what great players do, they score when they're not supposed to.

Now, would the outcome have been different had Alex Kovalev been there to go in the shoot-out? We'll never know. 

Montreal is in Pittsburgh tomorrow night. 

A Nice Day for a Rumour

Two big rumours this hour...

1) Alex Kovalev has been dealt to Pittsburgh, but because the Pens play the Habs tomorrow the deal will not be announced until Friday. The deal apparently involves Ryan Whitney back to Montreal.

2) Alex Kovalev is headed to Columbus, possibly for Mike Peca and picks, possible just for picks.

Now these are just rumours. They're off the radio, but they are from hosts. Sportsnet mentioned the Columbus rumours (Millard/Kypreos) and the Pittsburgh rumour was just discussed by PJ Stock on TEAM 990 in Montreal. So we'll see what happens.

Regardless, Kovalev hasn't been traded to two places (obviously), but I gotta tell ya, it sounds like the end of Kovalev in Montreal is near.

I for one love Kovalev. He is so talented, so great in interviews, and he does a lot of wonderful community work with kids and hospitals. But he always leaves you wanting more, and he rarely follows up on it. But whatever happens:

In Bob We Trust. 

Also...further to what we discussed over the past few days, news from the Journal de Montreal's Marc de Foy on how the Lightning initiated Lecavalier trade talks and a trade was in place:

" Bob Gainey confirmed on Tuesday, there truly were discussions held with the Tampa Bay Lightning involving Vincent Lecavalier.

"Mathieu Schneider has been a name among our priorities since November, when Vincent Lecavalier came into play", said Gainey. "We put the Schneider dosier aside for the time being before coming back to it in mid January."

The rumour at he time, involved Chris Higgins, Tomas Plekanec, and Josh Gorges going to the Lightning. If it had played out, Lecavalier would be wearing the colours of the Canadiens for a month now.

"The names that you heard, it was them who brought them up, not us", said Gainey, in reference to the Lightning management."

What does this prove? Bob McKenzie knows what he is talking about, where there's smoke there's fire, and Brian Lawton (Tampa's General Manager) is a ball faced liar. 

You can read more (en Francais) at:

Blame It On... The Pads?

Yes, in one of the most tumultuous times for the team in recent memory, goaltender Carey Price has made the landmark decision to return to his usual white pads instead of the more recent red set. We can only hope that the new pair brings with them a return to the form that we saw earlier in the season, and not more of the ~0.850 SVP and GAA north of 3 that marked the tenure of the reds.

No word yet on whether the new pads will make an appearance in Washington tonight against the surging offence of Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and the rest of the Southeast-leading Caps .

As The World Turns: Wednesday in Washington

The soap opera that is the Montreal Canadiens continues. Slumping star Alex Kovalev has been sent to his room by GM Bob Gainey. Former hot-shot young winger Sergei Kostitsyn has been banished to Hamilton. And today, rumours in La Presse that Gainey has been trying to deal Kovalev for weeks, perhaps for Vincent Lecavalier. You can read about that here:

So what happens next for the Habs? Well, a game against former goaltender Jose Theodore Washington, of course. This will be a big test, because if Montreal's defence plays as well as they did Sunday against Vancouver, Alex Ovechkin may challenge Darryl Sittler's record for points in a game. Really. The defence was that bad. This could be ugly.

No word yet on starting goalies, although the airwaves this morning are suggesting it will be Carey Price. We'll see who Guy decides to stand in front of the firing squad.

How will the Habs respond sans Kovalev? How many shots will Ovechkin get? All these questions and more to be answers tonight.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kovalev to...bed?

Alex Kovalev will not be travelling with the Canadiens for the next three games, and instead will be staying home to get rest. Bob Gainey apparently feels that Kovalev is tired and deserves some time to rest, as he appears "tired."

This armchair GM thinks instead that Gainey is trying to trade Kovalev and doesn't want him getting hurt.

For the full report, go here:

S Kost to Hamilton...

Gregory Stewart back up to the big club. Clearly, Carbonneau was not happy with Kostitsyn Jr.'s play, and Stewart's 170 penalty minutes bring a new element of toughness to the Habs.

The Canadiens shuffle continues. 

Cap Concerns?

With the addition of Mathieu Schnedier yesterday, the Canadiens now find themselves in the unfortunate circumstance of having essentially spent their total salary cap allotment for the current season. I don't know about you, but given what I've seen recently I'm not all that convinced that one veteran defenceman is enough of a change to put this team back into legitimate playoff contention (even when Tanguay returns and the search parties find Alex Kovalev). With any other deals having to coincide with the movement of a current roster player, it leads to a number of interesting questions leading up to the March 4 trade deadline:

Who (if anybody) is Bob Gainey willing to part with?
What needs remain to be addressed?
How will the team's UFA/RFA situation play out over the rest of the year and into the summer, and what influence (if any) will this have on any potential moves?
Can we finally put the ridiculous "Lecavalier-to-Montreal" rumors to rest?

Needless to say, it's going to be an interesting couple of weeks as the team gears up for the deadline and subsequent drive for the playoffs.

Another Hour, Another Rumour

Rumours are rampant that Erik Cole is headed to the Bruins. Mr. Hab Killer himself is apparently telling friends he is Boston bound. This would be bad, bad news for Les Canadiens, as Cole has been a thorn in their side for what seems like an eternity.

Other rumours have Jordon Leopold headed from Colorado to Boston. Also bad news for Les Glorieux. Anything that makes Boston better has to be a serious worry for Bob Gainey and co. 

How quickly the fans can turn

Turn on Montreal radio this morning, and the general feeling is that Alex Kovalev is a terrible person. Just awful. He's gotta go. Trade him for pucks. Addition by subtraction.

Hold on a second: Kovalev was THE guy last year. He has been THE guy for small parts of this year. Yes, he's in a slump, but he didn't steal a baby or rob a bank. He's just had a bad 10 games. He'll snap out of it. Let him play through it.

The general feeling seems to be that the Schneider signing was a good one. Let's see what kind of impact he makes tomorrow against the Capitals. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

And he comes full circle...

Mathieu Schneider left the Canadiens in 1995 under cloudy circumstances. Rumours of a fight with Patrick Roy still exist. However, what's not in question is that Schneider went on to have many productive years, an all-star American defenceman who could run a power play well and won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007. He went from a rookie in Montreal, learning under the tutelage of Chris Chelios, to a veteran in Atlanta, mentoring the young Zach Bogosian. 

Today, there are two Canadiens defencemen left in the NHL from the 1993 Stanley Cup winner, Patrice Brisebois and Mr. Schenider. And they're both back where they belong. Montreal sends Anaheim's 2nd round pick in 2009 (which they previously acquired), along with Montreal's 3rd round pick in 2010, for Schneider and a conditional pick. The conditional pick is dependent on how deep Montreal goes in the playoffs. It can be as high as this year's 3rd if they don't win a round.

What does this mean? Well, it means Montreal's top four looks a lot better, as Schneider slides in to run a power play that has been ineffective at best all year long. It also means GM Bob Gainey is working the phones trying to get things done. It also means that the Habs have made a preemptive strike against other teams in the Eastern Conference fight for talent at the trade deadline.

And it also means that cap space is running thin. 


Bob McKenzie of TSN is reporting that the Phoenix Coyotes are "upset" with the Canadiens, as Phoenix believed they essentially had a deal with the Habs. Who knows what that deal is - perhaps Bob wouldn't allow them to keep pushing for more? One thing is clear: McKenzie says we should expect more trades from Mr. Gainey before deadline day. 

Schneider Returns to Montreal

Various media outlets are reporting that the Canadiens have traded a second-round pick in 2009 and their third-round pick in 2010 to the Atlanta Thrashers for Mathieu Schneider and a conditional draft pick (based on how far in the postseason the Canadiens advance this year).

In the wake of their recent slump many people have been calling for Bob Gainey to make some sort of move to shake things up, so in one sense this should at least temporarily satisfy those demands. The question now is whether this was a prudent choice (he's a veteran presence and should help the defence and PP), or just a case of panic setting in (2 picks in exchange for an aging player making a lot of money and having a relatively slow season so far).

The Beat Goes On

Another day, another disappointing loss. The Habs return from their Western swing with a dismal 1-3-0 record after losing 4-2 in Vancouver last night, and the questions surrounding the team will only continue to intensify.

How can they build some consistency (both offensively and defensively), and can Bob Gainey make a move that would in some way salvage a season that is quickly spiraling out of control? Also, what does the future hold for Guy Carbonneau, who seems to have lost control of the room quite some time ago? For good or bad, coaches tend to be the first domino to fall in trying to change the fortunes of a struggling team (see Tampa Bay, Ottawa and Pittsburgh so far this year), so it may only be a matter of time before we see a move being made behind the bench in Montreal.

With these issues in mind it's going to be a long couple of days between games for the entire management staff, and with a visit to Washington next on the schedule, things could certainly get worse on the ice before they have a chance to get any better off of it.

Vancouver Bringdown

A 4-2 loss proves that the Habs have not broken out of their funk. Saku Koivu plays like a possessed man, but it's not enough as the team yet again lets down Jaroslav Halak. The one bright spot? Carey Price came in late in relief to play in front of his family and friends and looked good. However, that's really stretching it for a bright spot. 

A few days off may help now, but what this team really needs is a shake-up. Whether it's a trade or a new coach (see Penguins, Pittsburgh) Bob Gainey really needs to figure out how to right this ship. Or this has Titanic written all over it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rumours abound...

Rumours tonight that Halak, he of the great game in Colorado two nights ago, could be headed to.....Colorado! They wanted him earlier in the year, and they still do now. Sounds like a defenceman coming the other way. Brett Clark maybe, former Habs  draft pick and flame-out. A good move for Les Canadiens? Probably not good enough to turn around the teams fortunes at this point. More at the following link near the bottom:

Game Day - Vancouver

The latest West-Coast swing draws to a close tonight when the Canadiens visit Vancouver to take on the Canucks. After a couple of lacklustre performances in Calgary and Edmonton (to put it mildly), the Habs barely managed to squeak out a win on Friday in Colorado to run their record on the trip to 1-2-0. Can they keep it going tonight, or will the combined strength of Luongo and Team Sweden (Canadian branch) be enough to send the Habs to their third loss against a Western Canadian franchise within the week? Only time will tell.

Jaroslav Halak gets a well-deserved second straight start after his heroics in Colorado, and hopefully the team decides to give him some defensive support for more than 15 minutes or so as a secondary reward. It also would not be surprising to see Kyle Chipchura draw in on the third or fourth line in place of the largely ineffective Georges Laraque to try and get even a bit more out of the offence. When your role players (Brisebois, Boullion, Kostopoulos, Dandenault and Lapierre) have recently become the most consistent scoring threat on your team, things will continue to be done to get the "big lines" going and that seems like as good a place as any to start.

Wishing the Streak to Two

Habs go for their second in a row tonight. Kostopolous appears slated for first line duty again with Koivu and Kovalev. Halak brings his 46 save performance the other night into Van City, hoping that this time his team doesn't go to sleep for the last two periods. Mathieu Dandenault goes for a three game point streak, which would be his season-high. Vancouver remains hot, as Sundin has finally awoken from his hibernation and finally looks interested in playing.

Other Habs tidbits this AM, rumours still that Gainey would love to pry Havlat from Chicago (Ottawa Sun), Bouwmeester is likely to be dealt (Toronto Sun), and the Coyotes are indeed shopping Jokinen, Morris, et al (ESPN). Any of these guys would help lessen the loss of Robert Lang and give a push to a team playing like an '84 Chevy Corvair.

And lastly, Kyle Chipchura has joined the team after being called up. He practiced the other night and took the skate but did not play. I liked the look of his last year. Doc, does he get in on the fourth line party, or is Laraque just so good that we have to keep playing him?

You know things aren't going great when...

...a major media outlet in Montreal is calling for Les Canadiens to sign Yanic "No Panic" Perreault. Now, I loved Perreault, and maybe he could help, but the guy hasn't been in the NHL for a year, and it would take him a while to get going (see Sundin, Mats).

Other rumours today: Habs are hot-to-trot for Olli Jokinen and Derek Morris (TSN), Frantisek Kaberle is going on re-entry waivers and could be the key to a team luring Tomas Kaberle into waiving his no trade clause (CBC), and apparently the Avalanche have made big winger Ian Laperriere available (CBC). Wow, would he look good on a line with Begin and Laraque. That would be one mean combination.

And Halak is officially pegged as the starter tomorrow by Guy Carbonneau. When asked what he thought of his performance against Colorado, Guy was quoted as saying "Halak it like that." Ok, he didn't really say that, but I had to write it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What's to Gain-ey?

Trade rumors continue to swirl around the Habs, but if history is to be believed then it's unlikely that Bob Gainey will rush into a move of any type. He knows that dealing from a position of desperation never yields the same types of results, so it seems a bit far fetched to expect that we'll be seeing any sort of major deal in the near future.

With that said, I expect the team to make a deal for a puck-moving defenceman some time before the deadline. The powerplay is stagnant, and recent games have shown an alarming decrease in the efficiency of the outlet pass from their own zone (I don't think I've ever seen so many icing calls in a single game as I have last night). The name of Jay Bouwmeester keeps getting thrown around, and I have to assume that the Habs will at least inquire to see what it would take to get him to Montreal (even if it's just for the stretch drive). Tomas Kaberle is another very reasonable option when he comes back from injury, and if Brian Burke can be convinced to make a deal within the Division then he may very well be an economical option.

The forwards and goaltending will likely be secondary, although a big presence up front would clearly help (like people have been saying for the last 10 years or so). Based on the crippling contract Lecavalier just won't happen (as much as people would like to believe it will), but maybe somebody like Erik Cole could still be possible. Also, with Halak picking up his game yesterday the backup situation seems a little less panicked than it did a few days ago, but some experience and a calming influence would certainly be an added bonus if it could be attained in a cost-effective manner.

In Bob We Trust...

...or do we? I don't know about you Doc, but I've been waiting patiently for a trade for weeks. What gives? Rumours of Lecavalier, then Richards, then Jokinen. But nothing happens. Can Bob get the job done?

In mulling over deadline possibilities, a few stick out as solid additions. Kaberle would look good on the power play. I would also love to see Erik Cole flanking Tanguay and Koivu. Regardless of who you think we should add, can we agree that a puck-moving defenceman, an impact forward, and a veteran backup goaltender are the most pressing needs? Tom Priessing in LA is available as as a rushing defenceman, and Curits Joseph could probably be grabbed off the Leafs for a few signed Kovalev sticks. 

Even if we don't sign anyone, hey, look on the bright side: at least we aren't stuck with Jeff Finger for three more years.

Line Juggling

Another game, another seemingly random assortment of lines thrown together in the hopes of breaking out of the slump. While I suppose you can't fault the coaching staff for trying as much as possible to get their players going, there comes a point where it all starts to seem just a little bit random and desperate (see the "Josh Gorges at Forward" experiment from a couple of days ago). Logic would dictate that keeping lines together to build a bit of chemistry would be the best way to go, but that's easier said than done when the team isn't scoring and there's pressure from all sides during the Centennial season.

With the team winning last night, things are a little less dire for the moment (at least until the puck drops in Vancouver). For now, we'll just have to wait and see if things stay the same, or if some random new lines get pulled out of the hat tomorrow.

We Got One

So we beat the Avalanche, after what seemed like years in the desert. Halak plays great, 46 saves. Bouillon, Brisebois, Kostopolous all score. Kostitsyn Sr. the hero. Koivu plays like his life depends on it. Yet the team's defence is terrible all game, and once solid regulars continue to play a lacklustre brand of hockey. The latest excuse? 100th anniversary celebrations are "distracting." No game tonight, first time in a while with no game on a Saturday. Tomorrow: Vancouver. Will the real Canadiens please stand up?