Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Predictions - Round 2

Hey, just because the Habs are done doesn't mean we'll stop posting. There will soon be trades and a draft to start thinking about, and we'll do what we can to provide updates and commentary where they're possible.

Until then, there's still playoff hockey to be played. For Round 2, I'm going to go with:

Detroit over Anaheim in 6

Chicago over Vancouver in 7

Washington over Pittsburgh in 7

Boston over Carolina in 7

Nothing like a little dissension amongst bloggers to keep things interesting...

Also, for actual expert picks we direct you to the wheel-spinning monkey.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Predictions - Round Two

Anaheim over Detroit in seven.

Vancouver over Chicago in six.

Pittsburgh over Washington in six.

Carolina over Boston in seven.

Friday, April 24, 2009

And the train came off the tracks

That thunderous thud on Wednesday night was the Canadiens' 100th season coming to a halt. And wow, what a disappointment. The Doc did a good job breaking down what happened, and has written a bit about what he figures might happen. My five big questions heading into the off-season:

1) Will Vincent Lecavalier be a Canadien come September?

2) What happens with Carey Price - can he get his confidence back? 

3) Speaking of goalies, will Jaroslav Halak be back as a Hab? Or will he walk?

4) Can Tomas Plekanec regain his 2007 form?

5) Will Bob Gainey return as Habs GM?

As always, we welcome your thoughts, discussion and poll voting.

Interesting Article

A good read on the Habs' current situation by Elliotte Friedman.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Swept Away

Sadly, the once vaunted Centennial Season came to an inglorious end last night at the hands of the Bruins. While it's obvious that the Habs were fighting an uphill battle without Markov, Lang, Boullion, Schneider and Tanguay in the lineup, I think it's safe to say that the better team won this series. Boston was just too good in all aspects of the game this year, and while you would have liked to see the Canadiens field a full lineup to try and make the series a bit more competitive, I'm not sure that it would have ultimately made much of a difference other than in the number of games that would have been played.

While the Bruins now move on in their quest for the Cup, the Canadiens will be forced to endure a long summer of questions. With 10 players from the roster coming up for UFA status, we'll likely see a lot of movement before the start of the next season. Additionally, the coaching, management and ownership situations are all in states of flux themselves, so it will most certainly mean some tumultuous times for the team to endure in the coming months.

Random Thought For the Day:

-Does anybody else have a really bad feeling about the situation in goal for the Habs next year? Through his actions, Bob Gainey has made it clear that as long as he's around Carey Price will be the starter (for good or bad). The problem I see with this is that Jaroslav Halak would have given the team a better shot at winning down the stretch (not letting him start Game 3 was criminal), and yet he was overlooked in favour of "The Franchise." After his continual mistreatment by the team this season I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Halak walk, which would be a shame given what he could have done with the right opportunity.

Unfortunately, this becomes an even bigger problem when you factor in the fragile state of Carey Price these days. The fans absolutely gave it to him last night, and the mock cheers and Roy-esque salute after an easy save in the second period were more than a bit worrisome. It's entirely possible that the team and fans could have seriously damaged his confidence through their respective treatments of his game, so going forward it's going to be a delicate situation to see just how it all plays out...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


...Habs in eight?

Seriously, congratulations to the Bruins. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pushed to the Brink

It all started so well too. For the first 15+ minutes last night the Habs looked like they might be able to make this a series, but sadly, reality eventually caught up with them. You just can't expect to beat a #1 seed missing the likes of Markov, Schneider, Lang and Tanguay, and that's exactly what showed down the stretch. The Bruins (despite a shaky start) played disciplined hockey in all 3 zones last night, and now have up to 4 chances to end the Habs' Centennial Season. After the last few weeks of losing (7 in a row now) and injuries, I'm not sure that it'll take more than 1 or 2...

Random Thoughts From Game 3:

-I know that Price played pretty well last night all things considered, but after Game 2 I was sure Halak would get his shot. He has a lifetime GAA of 1.82 and SVP of .943 against the Bruins, and as evidenced by the Washington series, a change in net can drastically alter the fortunes of a struggling team. Guess Bob likes Carey too much for that to happen though...

-Yannick Weber looked really good last night. Pairing him with Markov next season should make for a solid PP tandem.

-What's up with all of the noise/booing from the Montreal crowd during the American National Anthem? They always seem to do this, and it just looks petty. I know they hate the Bruins and all, but save the displays for the game itself. I'm sure the American players and owner of the Canadiens would also agree...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Down 2-0...

We Shall Overcome.

Down 2-0 Heading Home

It wasn't even close last night either. The Habs were crushed 5-1 by the Bruins, and dominated in virtually every aspect of the game. The team now returns home needing to beat the Eastern Conference Champs 4 times in 5 games to win the series; a long shot at best.

Interestingly, the team hasn't won a game since Andrei Markov left the lineup (they're now 0-6), and even though his return would certainly increase spirits, I'm not sure if he'll be healthy enough to be the contributor that the Habs will need him to be. I suppose anything is possible though, and if the series is 2-1 after Monday night then it'll be a whole different situation. Not a lot to go on I know, but right now it might be the best that they've got...

Thoughts and Questions After Game 2:

-Should Milan Lucic be suspended for his hit on Maxim Lapierre? Some suggest that he led with his glove and that the shot was no cheaper than the Lapierre hit on Kessel after the empty net goal in Game 1, but it's certainly a tough call to make.

-Who exactly should start in Game 3? History tells us that Gainey likes Price, but is a GAA of 4 and a .875 SVP what the team needs right now?

-What lines will we see next game? The shuffle will likely continue to try and get things going, but how will it work out? Maybe Gainey should try the Carbonneau route of pulling names out of a hat?

-For all of those people who answered the poll question with the Habs winning this series (and there were a bunch of you), what have you seen so far to suggest that it's still possible?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Good things to take from game one...

Well, sure, the Habs lost, but they looked pretty good towards the end. However, there's no such thing as a good loss. That said, a few positives:

  • Laraque did a good job opening up some ice for Koivu and Kovalev. That said, if they're down Saturday, after the second he definitely, DEFINITELY should not be on the first line. He played 14 minutes for crying out loud!
  • Latendresse threw some nice hits in the corners. Perhaps he takes BGL's spot on line one?
  • Christopher Higgins is a defensive beast. Wow did he look good.
  • Price played well. We just need more urgency in his game. There's a difference between calm and lazy. On the first Bruins goal, he was lazy.
  • Glen Metropolit is a great defensive player.
  • Mathieu Schneider is tough as nails. The guy has one shoulder and was one of our best defencemen.
  • Patrice Brisebois has to sit. He's just not physical enough.
This series will go six or seven - and the Habs will win. That was the real Bruins. The Habs can do better. Especially if Markov and Bouillon get back - and they both skated yesterday.

Habs in six.

Round One to Boston

In what was a hard game to really assess, the Canadiens fell 4-2 to the Bruins last night. The Habs certainly showed some positive signs (Carey Price was very solid for example), but the fact of the matter remains that the loss will only build confidence for Boston.

Going into the game, I felt that the Canadiens needed to win to plant some doubt in the Bruins. While it looked for a while like that might very well happen, the Chara goal on the powerplay in the third seemed to eliminate all momentum that the Canadiens had enroute to the eventual loss. The Habs almost certainly need to win this next game to have a realistic shot at winning the series, so we'll see how they react on Saturday night.

Random Thoughts From Game 1

-Georges Laraque probably shouldn't be on the top line in place of Tanguay, no matter how much you think he "deters" Chara...

-Do the Habs have a second line? Whatever happened to Kostitsyn and Plekanec anyway?

-That was a cheap shot from Lapierre on Kessel after the empty net goal. It's not like he was even taunting or anything. He basically smiled and then got punched in the face. The same goes for Komisarek wailing on Hunwick after the game ended. I guess you could say that the team was trying to "send a message" or something like that, but I worry about those types of things motivating Boston more than anything else...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It begins

And then the Lord said, let there be battle.

Kovalev. Koivu. Tanguay. Price. Schneider. Latendresse. Lapierre. Komisaurus. Kostitsyn. Plekanec.

Let's get it on, Boston.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Why Montreal will beat Boston

1. Andrei Markov will return.

2. The Canadiens special teams are statistically better.

3. Carey Price will outplay Tim Thomas.

4. Bob Gainey will outcoach Claude Julien.

5. The ghosts just won't let the Bruins win. Won't happen. The Canadiens always have the ghosts in the playoffs. And the Canadiens ghosts can beat the heck out of the Bruins ghosts. I don't care who's in net. 

Prediction: Habs in six over Boston. Price, Markov, Kovalev lead the way.

Habs ghosts in four over Bruins ghosts. Maurice Richard with nine goals, Aurel Joliat with six, Jacques Plante with three shutouts. Eddie Shore with a couple for the 'Ruins. 

Predictions: Round One

San Jose-Anaheim: San Jose in six. But the Ducks could surprise. Key to series: Joe Thornton.

Detroit-Colombus: Detroit in five. Key to series: Chris Osgood.

Vancouver-St. Louis: Vancouver in six. Key to series: Can Sundin take it up a notch?

Chicago-Calgary: Calgary in six. Key to series: Gotta be Kipper.

Boston-Montreal: Montreal in six. Key to series: The return of Andrei Markov, and special teams.

Washington-NY Rangers: Washington in five. Key to series: Sean Avery.

NJ-Carolina: Carolina in seven. Key to series: The Cole-Staal combination.

Pittsburgh-Philadelphia: Pittsburgh in six.  Key to Series: Sid the Kid. 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Get ready Boston

Because we're ready for you. Bring it on.

Trouble Bruin?

Talk about backing into the postseason...

The Habs lost their 4th straight game tonight by conceding 2 shorthanded goals in just under a minute, and will now head to Boston to open up a first round series on Thursday night against the Eastern Conference Champion Bruins. Interestingly, the Canadiens finished the season with an identical record as the 9th place Florida Panthers, and only qualified for the final playoff spot through a fortunate tiebreaking situation. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of their play down the stretch to be sure. It is also becoming clear (if it wasn't before) that the absence of Andrei Markov on the blueline is a serious concern. Should he not be ready to go for the start of the playoffs, the Canadiens will be in tough against a rugged and talented Boston team.

Fortunately, not everything was bad in the 3-1 loss tonight, as Carey Price single-handedly kept the team in the game with a number of remarkable saves. It's that type of performance that the team needs out of him if they hope to pull off the upset, so at least it provides something to build from as the team readies for the second season.

Who Will It Be?

Washington? Boston? We'll know soon enough. If the Canadiens top the Penguins this evening, and Philadelphia beat the Rangers tomorrow, Montreal plays Washington. Which I presume they'd prefer. Otherwise, it's Boston, version 32.0.

And why Washington? Well, I have three words for you: Jose The Odour. Even better? Not only is he bad, our goaltending coach taught him how to play. The book's out on Jose.

And for those wondering: Tim Thomas has never won an NHL playoff series.

I smell an upset...

Friday, April 10, 2009

No Loss Unrewarded

Despite losing their third straight game last night, the Canadiens still locked up a playoff spot thanks to the overtime point. They now sit at 93 points, and thanks to holding the tiebreaker over the Panthers are assured of a postseason berth even if the two teams finish tied in the standings (i.e. Montreal loses on Saturday and Florida wins).

The game last night was a chippy affair, with plenty of evidence (especially in the second period) that these are two teams that clearly don't like each other. With the return of Mathieu Schneider and insertion of Yannick Weber the Montreal PP was again successful (if unspectacular), scoring 3 times with the man advantage. A bit of secondary scoring was also evident (Matt D'Agostini had a pair), and Carey Price played a relatively solid game despite throwing in a couple of noteworthy errors. Unfortunately, the problem with the team still seems to be an inability to play and focus for a complete 60-minute game, and that is clearly something that needs to be fixed if they have any aspirations of making a postseason run.

With their playoff spot now assured, the main question that remains is who the Canadiens will face in the first round: Boston or Washington. That will depend on the outcome of the games over the weekend, as a Rangers win or Canadiens loss means a return matchup with the Bruins, while should the Rangers lose and the Habs manage a single point against the Penguins then it will mean a series with the Caps. Each possible opponent has their own relative strengths and weaknesses to be sure, so it's hard to say who the Canadiens would feel is a better matchup. Either way, I'm sure most people following the team are just glad to see them in, and will be more than happy with any first-round opponent given the alternatives that were looming a few weeks ago.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Verdict: Matt's Back

Mathieu Schnedier returns tonight for the Montreal Canadiens, partially torn rotator cuff and all. It's a Passover miracle for Schnedier, after being told days ago that his season was over. Hopefully, this gutsy decision to play through pain will spur the rest of the team on.

Still no word on Andrei Markov.

Go Habs Go. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

This is now going well

Another day, another loss. Still no new news on Schneider or Markov. Price looked good for most of the Rangers game, but he still seemed shaky. At least Dandenault and Metropolit seem to be performing.

A win and they're in. Boston tomorrow. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Well that went well...until the last 5 minutes.

Price versus the Rangers. This is the biggest game of the season.


Monday, April 6, 2009

The Thin Blue Line

That's what the Habs are faced with tonight. No Schneider. No Markov. Doug Janik slots in for his first game. And a power play that has been 37% for the past six games lies in wait.

Can they get it done sans the big two?


Schneider gone for the season with a rotator cuff injury. Markov gone for 3-4 weeks with a reported left-knee injury.

Can it get any worse?

The solution: Yannick Weber.

Bob, make the call.

4 Points

That's what the Habs need in their remaining four games to guarantee themselves a playoff spot. While it's also possible that even 3 points might be enough, that could also bring tiebreakers into the equation depending on how Florida and New York finish out. While the position the Canadiens will occupy should they make it into the postseason still remains to be determined (anywhere from 4th to 8th are all possible depending on how things fall), with all of the doubts that were lingering about the possibilities of even making the playoffs a few weeks ago, locking up a spot will be a good first step. Once you're in just about anything is possible, and with the top line firing on all cylinders a deep run wouldn't be as inconceivable as it once was.

With games against Boston, the Rangers and Penguins later this week, it would likely benefit the Canadiens to take advantage of the chance for 2 big points against Ottawa tonight in Montreal. This is the last game against a team that isn't playoff-bound/desperate for points in the standings, so now would be the ideal time to add on a bit of insulation in the standings before the tough final stretch kicks in.

Game time is 7:30 EST from the Bell Center (RDS and Sportsnet).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Leafs left blowing in the wind

And another great game by Mr. Alex Kovalev, with 4 points. Jaro Halak comes up big again. But mostly, the team dominates a weak opponent. That said, the Leafs have played well lately, so this one counts.

Ottawa tomorrow. And after a Penguins loss today, it's a big, big game. If the Habs win, they're up to sixth, and the playoff possibilities look that much more solidifed.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Big Game Tonight

Rangers currently losing to Boston, Panthers lose last night, if the Habs win they are within striking distance of 4th or 5th. Will Kovalev, Koivu and Tanguay lead the way? Is Halak up to the challenge? Will Gainey be 5-0-1 in his last six?

It's going to be good.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Habs Rock the Island

5-1, and looking good. Komisarek is, once again, a beast. The AKA line is on fire. Kovalev is the man. And Halak does a good Price impression.

Habs-Leafs. Saturday. 7. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Interesting take on the Habs coaching situation

It's a good read. Bill Clement suggests Jacques Lemaire may be the Habs guy come fall.

Flu Shots Are Free...

... yet you wouldn't think so given the problems Montreal has had with the bug. Carey Price is the latest victim, forcing Jaroslav Halak back into the starting role tonight on Long Island (his first game since a 5-2 loss to the Leafs on March 21). Mark Denis has been recalled from Hamilton to serve as the backup.

In other lineup news, Sergei Kostitsyn will also miss the game tonight after suffering an "upper-body" injury on Tuesday against Chicago. Roman Hamrlik is expected to play, but could always be a late scratch after being forced to leave the game against the Blackhawks in the second period by an odd collision that resulted in a cut to his face.

Game time tonight is 7 PM (TSN).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Solid Homestand Comes to a Close

It isn't even an April Fool's joke or anything either.

With an impressive 4-1 win over legitimate playoff contender Chicago, the Habs ran their record on this most recent 5 game homestand to 3-1-1. The win last night was critical in the standings too (imagine that...). With Florida having defeated Ottawa earlier in the evening, the 2 points kept the Canadiens 1 clear of the Panthers for the final playoff spot in the East (with a game-in-hand as well).

The race to the postseason continues to tighten, with positions 5 through 9 in the East separated by only 4 points. Realistically, none of those teams are safe at this point, and even though most talk centers on one of Florida or Montreal missing out, it isn't out of the question for the Rangers, Penguins or Hurricanes to fall as well. Needless to say, the next 12 days will see a huge number of changes in positioning as the contenders struggle to distance themselves from the pretenders.

For the Canadiens, they need to prove that they can win on the road and against weaker teams in their last 6 games if they want to make it in. With visits to Long Island and Toronto in the next four days, those are 4 points that will be critical to earning a spot in the postseason. After that, things get tougher as they finish out at home versus Ottawa, in New York and Boston, and wrap up against Pittsburgh.

Thankfully, Bob Gainey seems to have the team playing solid defence, and Carey Price has regained some of his confidence from earlier in the year. While secondary scoring remains a bit of a question, it's certainly something that seems like it can be fixed given the talent available on the roster. The drive for the playoffs is in full force, so we'll see how the team reacts tomorrow night against the Isles.