Monday, December 31, 2007

Habs drop game in OT

Despite taking the overtime loss last night in New York, the Montreal Canadiens should be very pleased with their performance on this 6-game road swing.

The Habs lost 4-3 in OT last night in New York. The Rangers got on the board first, off a weak wrister that floated through un-touched and beat Huet courtesy Dan Girardi. Then, with his 1st of two PP goals on the night, Andrei Kostitsyn wired a wrister top corner from the slot to beat Lundqvist. The Rangers went ahead again just 17 seocnds later, as Jagr wired home a one timer wrister set up by Gomez passed Huet who moved the wrong way laterally. The Habs then struck again, as Kostitsyn took a great feed from Plekanec and went 5-hole to beat Lundqvist. The Habs then got out in front on a beatuiful passing play between Sergei and Andrei, who then went cross crease to Plekanec, who released the one timer to beat the compeletly fooled Henrik Lundqvist. But, with time winding down in the third, Chris Drury cleaned up a rebound of a faceoff win to knot the game at 3. And, in OT, Roman Hamrlik got caught deep in the offensive zone, and Drury sprung Shanahan loose on the breakaway, and Shanny went top corner from 20 feet out, beating Huet with the surprisingly quick and accurate wrist shot. It really looked as if the Habs were putting all their eggs in the OT basket, as opposed to the shootout. Hamrlik made a mistake, as he was supposed to stay back in case of a turnover as his defense partner had already indicated that he would have been joining the rush. Since both D-men rushed, a breakaway opportunity was created, and capitalized on.

The Rangers are back ont he winning track, as it seems their New Years' Resolution to win more games is panning out earlier than planned. Jagr and Gomez continue to sizzle, with Gomez now on a 12-game point streak. Jagr is scoring again, as he now has goals in 3 straight.

Huet's game will not be remembered as one of his best, that's for sure, but it wasn't as horrible as I've been hearing many accuse it of being. I will agree, it could have been better, but he has been remarkle over the last week, and there is no reason to point the finger at him. The Habs came out of the road trip with 8 of 12 points, and Huet played a major role in most of them.

Now, I have to say something. I have been freaking out lately over the quality of playmaking we've seen from the youngsters recently. This road trip has featured some incredible goals coming from our beloved Habs, and we are rarely treated to hi-light reel material on offense from these guys. Sergei Kostitsyn has demonstrated that he SHOULD stay with this club for good. His vision has been put on display more than anything, as we've seen him make the perfect pass on a few occasions that led to goals. Plekanec, although shooting more often, is also passing extremely well, as was the case last night on his lightning-quick decision to feed Andrei in the slot for the Habs' second goal of the game. Andrei Kostitsyn is starting to get open in the right places, which is allowing him to get that wicked wrist shot he possesses off more often. The plus on Andrei has always been his shot, but the problem is, we have rarely seen it because he isn't too strong on getting open and positioning. It seems he's learning quickly, and if he continues this way, he definitely could reach 20-25 goals this season with that shot. Also, Higgins is continuing to work extremely hard on a shift-to-shift basis, and he is shooting very well. But, hats off to Chris for his play on Michael Ryder's goal in Flroida. Ryder passed to Higgins on a 2-0 deep in the zone. Higgins had a solid chance of scoring then and there, but decided to immediately return the pass to Ryder, causing Vokoun to be caught moving laterally and out of his own crease entirely to creat the empty net goal for Ryder.

They are looking like a playmaking offensive team, and I honestly cannot say I remember seeing them so effective on passing & finishing in a LONG time. What sucks, is that Brisebois, Smolinski and Begin are almost all set to return, and with their return, will come decisions as to who to scratch and who to possibly demote again to Hamilton. If I had my way, I'd move Smolinski 100% sure, for a draft pick...highest bidder wins. With Begin, it will be interesting, as Lapierre has provided a nice spark especially on a line with Ryder and Higgins. As for Brisebois, he can be useful with the injury to O'Byrne...problem is, he's not good enough to even be useful. He should be released and regretted.

And, it's got to be said: What a downer for Corey Locke.

Locke was recalled and was expected to be in the lineup in place of Saku Koivu. All went well, as Locke arrived in time and was excited and ready to go. But as time continued to pass, worry accompanied, as Locke's equipment hadn't yet arrived. In fact, his equipment didn't arrive at all until after game time, which forced Locke to be a healthy scratch, and the Habs played a man short the whole night. That's something to remember, but I feel REALLY bad for him on that. And enough of this nonsense talk about being too SMALL to play. If he is good, he can play, it ends there. Not every single player needs that forechecking big-body presence. The Habs are FINALLY moving towards youth and speed and skill, and Corey Locke would be a great fit in that system. I hope he gets a chance to play, because he has some pretty awesome accomplishments in his career, and could pan out to be a steal at his 113th overall draft selection.

Here are some of his honours, in case you don't know:

CHL - First All-Star Team (Canadian Major Junior)
OHL - Red Tilson Trophy (Most Oustanding Player)
OHL - Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy (Leading Scorer)

OHL - First All-Star Team
CHL - Player of the Year (Canadian Major Junior)
CHL - Sheetrock Top Scorer Award (Canadian Major Junior)
CHL - First All-Star Team (Canadian Major Junior)
OHL - Red Tilson Trophy (Most Oustanding Player)
OHL - Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy (Leading Scorer)

OHL - First All-Star Team

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY! We'll see our Habs in '08!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Habs end winless drought vs. Panthers, and are ready for surging Rangers

Sorry for the minor layoff, but it IS the holidays after all...

So, incase you have forgotten, THEY DID IT!!!! The Habs BEAT the Florida Panthers, for the 1st time in their last 6 contests...and BEAT is an understatement.

Montreal got on the board early and often once again, keeping pace from their game on the previous night with the other Floridian team, the Tampa Bay Lightining. In fact, The Habs scored 3 goals on their first 3 registered shots of the game! Tomas Vokoun was rattled so badly that he was pulled immediately following the third goal. Latendresse got on the board first, on a nice (possibly accidental) feed from Roman Hamrlik who pinched into the slot. Then, a gorgeous 2-on-0 play saw Ryder dish off to Higgins, who then sent a perfect one-touch return pass to Ryder for the easy tip-in. Then, all but 13 seconds after that goal, Ryder and Lapierre forechecked the Panthers hard enough in their own zone to eventually steal it, and Lapierre sent a great pass across to Higgins, who made no mistake pulling Vokoun out to challenge and then beating him far top corner with a wrist shot. Huet was absolutely stellar once again, stopping 40 of 41 shots fired his way. Huet now leads the league in save% at .931, just ahead of Osgodd's .930. Only Olli Jokinen was able to get one by Huet late, on a botched clearing attempt from Mike Komisarek. Jokinen swatted at an airborne puck, and got lucky, being able to get it passed Huet.

Everything went well in this one, except for the fact that Ryan O'Byrne injured his thumb and will likely be out of action anywhere bewteen 3-6 weeks. O'Byrne injured himself in a fight which was deemed as a useless one, with the Habs up 4-0 at the time. Corey Locke has been recalled and will join the team tonight in New York, and should be inserted. Locke, 23, is the new all-time leading point-getter, after registering a goal in last night's 4-3 loss to the Marlies. He has 180 career AHL points, passing Bulldogs' former player Brian Swanson.


The Habs end off their longest trip of the season tonight with a visit to the red hot New York Rangers. New York has won 2 straight against Carolina and Toronto, and look to build momentum heading into the new year. Jaromir Jagr has gotten back on track in those 2 wins, potting 3 goals and 3 assists in that span. Prior to the Carolina win, Jagr hadn't scored in 10 consecutive outings. However, Jagr runs into Cristobal Huet tonight, who lately has had a real knack for keeping the superstars off the pointsheet.

The Habs are 3-1-1 thus far on their 6 game road trip, which is quite impressive when looking at the margins of victory in those wins. With each win, the Habs scored 5 times, and allowed 5 goals combined. Huet has kept Lecavalier, Richards, St.Louis, Kovalchuk and Hossa off the scoresheet, and tonight will hope to keep top guns Gomez and Jagr at bay as well.

The Rangers are 6th worst in goals for with 93(despite the 6-1 blowout win last night in Toronto), but are 4th BEST in goals allowed, with just 91. That is a huge reason why the Rangers are even in a playoff position right now. As a matter of fact, a lot can change with just a couple of night's action. 5th seed Pottsburgh have 42 points, while 13th seed Toronto are only 4 points behind at 38.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Carbonneau is cRaZy...Like a fox!

Final Score: Montreal 5 - Tampa Bay 2
Goal scorers: Lapierre, Latendresse, Kovalev, Markov, A. Kostitsyn

All the talk before this one got started was about Carbonneau's decision to juggle his lines. He went with all new lines (with the exception of the Kovalev-Plekanec-A. Kost. line), including re-uniting Latendresse with the player he plays best with, Saku Koivu. The moves, although questionned by many fans before the game, paid off in spades. The Habs struck early and often, while the Lightning responded late and infrequently.

Montreal were able to score 5 straight, before eventually allowing two third period goals in the 5-2 win. Despite having a strong start to his career, having Kyle Chipchura sit this one out seemed to be the right move, as the Habs got some more crucial points on this holiday road-trip, which now has 2 of 6 total games left on it.

This game was high octane from the get go. We saw great chances, plenty of hits, some tempers were flaring (ask Andre Roy, who was given a 10-minute misconduct after a verbal assault with the Habs' bench led to him smacking his stick on the boards while he was on his own bench), and we got to see the rare "goaltending carousel", as Holmqvist started, got yanked after allowing 3 in place of Ramo, and then got re-inserted with 13 minutes remaining. Honestly, I REALLY get a kick out of seeing Tortorella trying to not completely lose it and start beating up his gives me so much pleasure! If it were legal, he would likely take a bat to Holmqvist's legs, arms and head, and would probably have already decapitated Denis. Ramo must be horrified...he better produce in the crease, before those violent emotions overcome Tortorella...

The Habs' only allowed one powerplay opportunity for the Bolts to feed on, and feed on they didn't. Keeping Lecavalier, St.Louis, Richards and Prospal off the ice in a man-advantage situation can be the X factor in defeating the Lightning, and it was proof on this night. Lightning forwards St.Louis, Richards and Lecavalier were all held off the statsheet, another crucial element which can determine the winner in a match with Tampa. We also had the rare privilege of seeing Vincent Lecavalier log less than 20 minutes of ice time (18:30), which was less than Richards, Prospal and St.Louis, who all had over 20.

Sergei Kostitsyn (actually spelled KASTSITSYN, SIARHEI in his native Belarus) extended his points streak to 4 games. He now has 5 points (1-4) in 7 career NHL games. The kid is making a case to stick around with big brother Andrei in the big leagues. Cristobal Huet was able to bounce back from a sub-par performance, as expected. He stopped 28 of 30, and to his credit, the Lightning's last goal with 16 seconds to go was the result of an extremely sloppy, botched clearance attempt courtesy of Tom Kostopoulos. This game also featured a couple of scraps, as Tom Kostopoulos and, most surprising of all, Josh Gorges, dropped the gloves and engaged in fisticuffs (love that word). The Habs got nitty and gritty in Tampa, now if ONLY they can play the same way against a more steadily defensive Florida Panthers team tomorrow night, they just might be able to BEAT them, for once.

Florida is the only team in the NHL in which the Canadiens have a lower-than-.500 record against in their history.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Habs ready for 4th of 6 straight road games

Christmas has come and gone, but before we can call it 2008, the Habs will have 3 games in three different cities, none of them their own.

Cristobal Huet will be between the pipes as the Habs play guest to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. Huet's last appearance was two games ago, as the Habs dropped their first of two straight in a shootout loss against Atlanta. Huet wasn't particularly sharp in the game, and was 0-for-2 in the shootout. Usually, Cristobal bounces back after a weak outing, but to bounce back tonight, he's going to have to stop the league's leading point-getter.

Vincent Lecavalier has 25 goals and 30 assists for a league-high 55 points, and is on pace for 55 goals and 66 assists - career highs in both categories. Last season, Lecavalier led the league with 52 goals and was third with 108 points. Lecavalier is officially off to the best start of his young career, yet the Lightning's struggles on the back end have led them to the 14th position in the East, a real disappointment. Like Montreal, Tampa have lost in two consective games, most recently, last night in Washington. Lecavalier had both Tampa goals as the Lightning fell 3-2 to the Capitals. Despite their poor overall record of 15-19-3, the Lightning are a solid 12-6-2 at home. However, a home win is not guaranteed tonight, since the Habs boast a strong 11-6-2 road record, almost identical to Tampa's home record.

Montreal will have Michael Ryder back in the lineup tonight, and he will reportedly skate on the 3rd line. No indication on who will be left aside in place of Ryder. Begin, Brisebois and Smolinski are out with injuries. Begin and Brisebois are at least a week away from return, while Smolinski's knee injury could keep him out for another 3-5 weeks.

The last meeting between these two clubs was this past December 11th. The Lightning won via shootout, 3-2, with Marc Denis getting the win. It's anybody's game tonight, as both teams are very desperate to get in the winning column, with Montreal looking to hold a playoff position, and Tampa looking to get into one.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Holiday season opens the door to deadline-day deals

*this post contains info from,, and

The holiday season is upon us, and all the things we come to expect of it are here: There's snow falling, kids are excited about Santa struggling his way down the chimeney, and the Habs lost their December 23rd matchup, as they have done so consistently over their history.

However, in the NHL, with the holdiays come the roster freeze. No player may be moved until midnight of December 27th, which is a very good rule allowing players to spend the Christmas holidays in peace with their families and loved ones...but this doesn't stop the General Managers from getting on the phones and discussing potential deals to help their team in their respective playoff runs.

Let's kick off with the most popular rumours surrounding the Habs.

- Sergei Fedorov to Montreal? My brother heard this on the Team990, and I have yet to hear about it. If it's true, I honestly wouldn't mind. Yes, Sergei is washing up, but the fans still love him, and that name on a Habs jersey would be welcome anytime. He can still play on the PowerPlay, whether it's as a forward, or at the point. He can play Penalty Kill, as he does in Columbus already, but falls back on the PK depth chart behind Nash and Chimera. He can form a nice line with Alex Kovalev, returning Plekanec to his natural left wing position, and opening the door to the Kostitsyn brothers playing together on a line with Koivu or Higgins. Of course, this would cause a surplus of forwards for our top 2 lines, as we already have Higgins-Koivu-S.Kostitsyn and A.Kostitsyn-Plekanec-Kovalev, so unless we dealt one of them for Fedorov (which WON'T EVER HAPPEN, of course), Fedorov just doesn't have the space on the top 2 lines. We all know Gainey promotes the development of young forwards, which is why he didn't make a claim for Mark Recchi on waivers. So, as for that rumour, if not acquiring Recchi virtually for FREE is of any indication, Fedorov will not become a Hab, unless the deal is straight up for Bryan Smolinski. That's the only way I see it happening, and I would LOVE to see that happen. Both Smolinski and Fedorov are impending UFA's, so why not pull the trigger and give it a shot.

-Hurricanes scout Habs/Stars game: Alright, last night in Dallas, Carolina Hurricanes scouts were in attendance to watch the game. With the injury to Justin Williams sidelining him for a mimimum of 4 months, and a possibility of losing him for the entire season, Carolina may be looking to part with prospects and draft picks to acquire Michael Ryder. I'm gonna go out there, WAY OUT THERE, and call this right now: If Ryder goes to Carolina, he WILL SCORE 30 goals again this season. HE WILL. Unless, of course, this deal comes at the deadline, then time might run out on a 30-goal campaign. BUT, should a deal sending Ryder to Carolina happen within the next couple of weeks, the Habs will watch Ryder score and score often. Carolina already boasts one of the top 3 12-forward lines in the NHL, with Ottawa and Detroit, and acquiring Ryder would perfectly replace Williams. Carolina's needs however are on defence, and with a POSSIBLE return of Teemu Selanne to Anaheim down the road, Carolina would love to welcome inexpensive Francois Beauchemin to the team. He can log 30 mins a game, play PP, PK, lean on forwards, and make a great first pass to open up Carolina's transitional game. Jim Rutherford has openly expressed his disappointment in the team's performance, and would like to fix the team where he believes it needs fixing. Carolina just needs to find that missing puzzle piece to re-gain its status as cup-contenders.

-Craziest rumour of the week: Habs might sign Ovechkin to an offer-sheet: Ooooohhh Kaayyyy...All I SHOULD say is KEEP DREAMING. The Caps' supersniper is RFA at season's end...and that's exactly my point. AT SEASON'S END. You do realize, people, that that means 7 months away, right? The Caps will re-sign Ovechkin, of that there is no doubt in my mind...actually, wasting time writing about how sure I am that Ovechkin stays in D.C. is aggrevating me, but if it has to be said, it has to be said. Ovechkin will be re-signed, and it wont take 7 months to do it...expect it to be done by March at the latest. Owner Ted Leonsis already said at Ovechkin's draft that Alex will be the centerpiece for the Capitals to re-build matter how badly we would like to see Ovechkin on our own personal favorite teams, or at least just not in the weak market of Washington, it won't happen, until Alex can be UFA...should he choose to even want to leave (beacuse Washington will try to re-sign him as a UFA if that event should ever arise). The same goes for Phaneuf, who is also RFA at season's end. He is not going ANYWHERE. He will be re-signed long-term and early.

Other rumours around the NHL:

- Jarrett Stoll's days in Edmonton appear to be numbered. Stoll's got plenty of untapped potential, yet he somehow can't seem to be getting it done on an Oilers team where he can literally be the #1 center. Stoll might need better talent around him to help reach his potential. Rumours suggest that Detroit and Boston are interested in his services.

- L.A. will definitely be looking to deal some of their veteran talent, as certain free agent signings haven't exactly panned out. Nagy, Calder, Handzus, Stuart and Preissing may all be available to the highest bidder. On paper, the Kings look like one of the best mixed rosters of Youth and Veterans in the league, but the game is played on the ice, and the Kings are simply not getting it done. A goaltender continues to be the major need in L.A., and with Jonathan Bernier still not 100% ready to be a starter, L.A. will continue to struggle. LaBarbara's successes in the AHL haven't carried over into the NHL, and the Kings would be wise to trade for a solid starter. Maybe a return to L.A. for Cristobal Huet would be a perfect move for both teams? Price would be a starter, Halak would be an ample backup, Cap space frees up in Montreal for at least 2 years, and Montreal could get someone very worthy in return, like a defenceman? Or a forward? I would be calling L.A. right now if I was the GM, as a deal like that makes a lot of sense.

- *taken from : - Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon says that he's looking for a forward, telling the Chicago Tribune: "Maybe a forward, a good left winger to play with either Lang or Havlat or the kids (rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews)," Tallon said. "If there's a forward in the 25 to 27 age range and he's a good player, we'll look at it."* Also, the 'Hawks are apparently in the market for a defenseman.

- Rangers have all sorts of rumours surrounding them involving defensemen. They are reportedly interested in landing John-Michael Liles from Colorado, Brooks Orpik from Pittsburgh, or taking a chance on Brad Stuart from L.A.

- The Penguins would reportedly like to add a stable winger to play with Sid. Some have suggested that J.P Dumont might interest them, as would impending UFA Kristian Huselius.

- The Isles are reportedly interested in Phoenix D's Derek Morris or Ed Jovonovski.

- Marleau rumours continue to float around, and will continue to so long as Marleau's production in SJ stays low. Also, with Cheechoo's horrendous start to the campaign, rumours have Cheechoo being dealt, POSSIBLY to Pittsburgh to play alongside could happen...

- The Canucks and Devils have reportedly spoken to each other a whole lot...of what is still unclear to me. Perhaps moving Zubrus to Vancouver, as he is underachieving in NJ?

Who would you like to add to your favorite team? Who do you think should be traded by Montreal? Who should the Habs pursue via trade? LET ME KNOW!!! As you all know, I want as much fan feedback as possible, so please, take a minute or two and leave a comment!

Ribeiro has dream matchup vs. Habs

It seems that everyone we trade away loves coming back to haunt us. On this night, Mike Ribeiro fit that description, as in his 1st game vs. the Habs, Ribeiro tallied a goal and two assists.

Dallas was in complete control for the entire encounter tonight. The match was physical from the get go, as the Habs looked like they intended on contending with the Stars. Two early scraps set the physical tone, yet for some reason, the Habs decided to sit back as the game wore on, opening the door for one of the hottest lines in the NHL to get going.

The Miettinen-Ribeiro-Morrow line is getting it done and managing to fly under the proverbial radar in the NHL at the moment. In the nine games they have skated as a line this season, Miettinen, Morrow and Ribeiro have either scored or assisted on 20 of Dallas' 30 goals.

Ribeiro talked the talk prior to the game, and luckily for him, he was more than able to walk the walk. Ribs set up Miettinen's goal to open the scoring on a beautiful East-West feed, allowing Miettinen to outwait Carey Price and pot his 7th of the season. Morrow then added one, his 13th, off another setup from Ribeiro. Then, it was Ribeiro's turn. Christmas came early, but at the right time for him, as Hamrlik put the puck directly on his stick in his own zone, allowing Ribeiro to skate in one-on-one with Price and beat him with a wrister top corner.

The Habs looked defeated from the moment Dallas opened the scoring. The Habs weren't fighting their battles in the corners, on the boards, and at open ice. The Stars were the visibly hungrier team, and were rightly rewarded with the 4-1 win. Montreal got on the board last and late in this game, as the Kostitsyn brothers hooked up with assists on Markov's goal. Sergei was the architect, as the young Kostitsyn moved in with Markov on a 2-on-1 and sent a pass through the Dallas defender's legs and right on the tape to Markov for the easy tip-in.

The Habs will now take their Christmas break, and return to face Vinny Lecavalier and the Lightning Thursday night, before meeting Jokinen and the Panthers Friday.

Coming up tomorrow on Habs Hockey-Talkey: A look at some of the trade rumours currently floating around the World Wide Web.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ribeiro anxiously awaits 1st game versus Habs

Mike Ribeiro is looking forward to facing the Habs for the 1st time in his career tonight as the Stars host the Montreal Canadiens at 8 p.m.

Ribeiro was drafted by his hometown franchise in 1998, 45th overall with Montreal's 2nd round draft choice. After spending 6 seasons with the Habs, he was dealt just prior to the beginning of the 06-07 season to the Stars in exchange for veteran defenceman Janne Niinimaa. Ribeiro went on to lead the Stars in points last season, while Janne Niinimaa not only had a miserable stay with the Canadiens, but is now not even playing in the NHL. Despite being dealt away, "Ribs" holds no hard feelings against the Habs and their General Manager Bob Gainey.

"They probably know the trade was wrong for them so I would love to score a goal because that would feel good, but getting traded is part of the job,” he said. “One thing I thought that (Montreal GM) Bob Gainey did was trade me to a place where he thought I would fit in and enjoy and he was right. I always appreciated that about him and thought it was a nice gesture for him to send me to an organization and city like Dallas."

Mike Ribeiro is once again leading the Stars in scoring with 18 goals and 18 assists through 36 ganes. He has 7 goals and 5 assists over his last 7 outings. He has found his spot alongside winger Brendan Morrow, while the third player on the line has altered 3 times this season due to injury. It began with Niklas Hagman, then shifted to Jere Lehtinen, who then suffered an injury and isn't expected to return for another month. Lehtinen's 19 points in 21 games are missed for the time being, but with injury comes opportunity, and gritty forward Antti Miettinen was given the chance to pad his stats. He has responded very well, as the line continues to produce on a nightly basis. Miettinen and Morrow will surely be looking to feed Ribeiro with the hopes that he pots one versus his former club on this big night.

"It will definitely be special for me,” Ribeiro said. “A lot of people back home will be watching the game on television and I'm really looking forward to it."

The last time these two clubs met was January 16th, 2006, in Montreal. The Habs went on to win the game by a final score of 4-2. The teams also haven't met in Dallas since playing to a 1-1 draw on December 31, 2003.

*with extracts taken from and's game preview.

Thrashed in a shootout

Cristobal Huet was the savior Thursday night, and was the scape goat Saturday.

The Thrashers got on the board early with a weak goal coming from Slava Kozlov, as he came down the left wing and released a wrist shot that completely fooled Huet glove side. Perrin was also able to score on the PP after receiving a brilliant cross-crease saucer pass from Marian Hossa, who has assists on both Thrashers goals. Ilya Kovalchuk was held off the scoresheet, despite being on the ice for a whopping 23:35. Thrashers rookie defenseman Tobias Enstrom led all skaters with 29:39 of ice time.

The Habs got off to a great start. The 1st line of Higgins-Koivu-Kostitsyn got a great first shift in, nearly scoring on a few chances. The line would eventually click, as Kostitsyn was able to cash in on rebounds from Komisarek and Koivu. The goal was the rookie's 2nd in as many contests, and his speed continues to impress many Habs fans. Kovalev was able to tie the game midway through the 3rd, as he released a slap shot from his off-wing at the very end of a powerplay, which beat Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen between his body and left arm. The goal was registered as an even strength marker, and was Kovalev's 15th of the season.

The Habs outshot the Thrashers 39-28, yet were unable to capitalize on chances throughout the game. Anrei Kostitsyn was the unluckiest of all. He missed multiple chances, including an absolutely gorgeous setup from Tomas Plekanec down low. Plekanec was able to attract and stickhandle around both Thrashers defensemen, before backhanding a cross-crease pass to the awaiting Kostitsyn. Andrei was unable to catch the pass, which would have needed the simplest of touches to tickle the twine.

The Thrashers remain one of the most lethal teams in the NHL when it comes to the shootout. With such weapons like Kovalchuk and Hossa, it's already hard enough for any goaltender to even fathom making a single save. However, completing the trifecta is Slava Kozlov, who is arguably the best shootout man on the team. On this night, Kovalchuk didn't even have to step up, as the Thrashers went two-up on the Habs after 2 rounds of shooting, thus ending the game and earning them the extra point. Hossa skated in and released a lightning quick wrister that beat Huet to find the top right corner of the mesh. Koivu then missed his deke due to Lehtonen's crafty pokecheck. Up next, Kozlov resorted to his bread and butter. He skated in faked a wrister and cut wide, outwaiting the sprawling Huet and beating him top shelf. Sergei Kostitsyn then tried his luck, only to be stopped by Lehtonen who read the young Kostitsyn's deke perfectly.

The Habs board a flight for Dallas to face the Stars Sunday night at 8 p.m. Speculation has it that due to his weak performance tonight, Cristobal Huet will be given the night off in favor of rookie Carey Price. Also, Michael Ryder just may be the luckiest Hab Saturday night, as the loss might convice coach Carbonneau to re-insert him into the lineup. The match will mark the first time that the Habs and Stars meet since Ribeiro was dealt for Janne Niinimaa. Also worth noting: Captain Brendan Morrow is married to Guy Carbonneau's daughter, making him Guy's son-in-law. Just a fun fact for the loyal readers.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Habs look to continue winning ways in Atlanta

The Canadiens roll into the 1st of back-to-back matchups tonight as they are in Atlanta to take on the surging Thrashers, before heading off to Dallas for tomorrow night's contest.

The Habs are coming off a win in Washington where they opened up their season-high 6 game road trip. They have won 3 of their last 4, and if their road record is any indication, the Habs should come out on top tonight. The Habs boast a stellar 11-5-1 mark away from home, and have won 3 straight on the road. They go into Atlanta to face a Thrashers team that is 8-8-0 on home ice. Cristobal Huet proved himself fit to play with his 35-save performance Thursday night in Washington. He will have to do just a well tonight, as he faces the league's leading goalscorer Ilya Kovalchuk.

Atlanta are on a roll lately. After dropping 4 straight, Atlanta have gotten back on the winning track, posting victories over division rivals Tampa Bay and, most impressively, a regulation win over the Ottawa Senators. Kovalchuk continues to light the lamp on a consistent basis, leading the league with 28 goals, 3 ahead of Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg. Kovalchuk has 16 points in 21 career games versus the Habs, with just 6 goals. Now that he is on the hottest streak of his career, he will look to boost those stats as best he can and try to earn his team a win tonight to push them over the .500 mark on home ice.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Habs Win Despite Slow Start

The Montreal Canadiens were able to top off the Washington Capitals tonight, despite being badly outplayed and outchanced throughout the game, but most evident in the 1st period of play.

"They outplayed us. They were better than us." said coach Guy Carbonneau. "We were lucky to get the points. We got a few goals here and there, but we worked for our goals."

Carbo was quick to give credit where it was due on this night, as on so many other nights. "I was anticipating he (Huet) was going to get tired at the end of the game, but he didn't," Carbonneau said. "His focus was really good. He was around the puck. He made the difference."

Cristobal Huet made 35 saves for the win. The Habs were outshot in this one by a lopsided 37-21 margin, which really goes to show that Huet is fully recovered from his groin pull which caused him to miss 6 games. Tonight's contest was Huet's second start in December.

The Habs were also solid on special teams tonight, particularly on the powerplay, as they wound up going 2-5. PP goals came from Sergej Kostitsyn, who recorded his 1st NHL goal in the victory, and the returning Guillaume Latendresse. Latendresse scored 2 goals in just over 12 minutes of ice-time. Latendresse is just 20, and he's already missed four games this season - twice as many as he did in his rookie year.

"He has to play without the puck," Carbonneau said. "Sometimes guys decide to change their style, and that's never good for the team. I think tonight he came back with a good attitude."

Guillaume's 1st goal (and the game's opening goal) came on the PP, after a questionable tripping call was assessed to Tom Poti. Latendresse took a beautiful saucer pass from behind the net courtesy of Saku Koivu, and released a quick wrister that got by Kolzig. His second goal came off a face-off win by Lapierre to the right of Kolzig. The puck went to Dandenault, who tipped it to Latendresse, who then released a wrist shot that beat Kolzig blocker side. The goal would wind up being the game-winner.

The Habs won't return to play at the Bell Centre until January 3rd vs. the Lightning. Until then, they have 5 games on the road, with 2 consective sets of games on back-to-back nights. Atlanta & Dallas are the 1st set, with the game vs. the Thrashers on Saturday, and Tampa Bay & Florida are the second set, with the Habs in Tampa on Thursday, before ending the trip on another rare Sunday matchup, this one being vs. the Rangers on December 30th.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Habs kick off 6-game trip in D.C.

The Habs will be wishing for a winning road-trip as they open a 6-game road swing that will take them through Christmas and right on up to the new year.

The Habs are aiming for their 3rd straight road victory in Washington tonight. Montreal is sporting a very solid 10-5-1 record away from the Bell Centre this year, and they are facing a Capitals team who is dreadful on home ice with a 6-9-1 home record, 2nd worst in the NHL after Phoenix. The Caps are dead last in the East and will have to pick up their game on and away from home ice if they wish to stay in the playoff hunt. They have had a pleasant month of December thus far, posting a 5-2-1 record, with the OT loss coming via a shootout loss in Detroit. Getting a point at the Joe Louis indicates that this team is in fact capable of contending with a juggernaught such as the Wings (when they're completely 100% on their game, that is).

Montreal meets Washington for the 1st time this season. Montreal have won 5 of their last 6 with the Capitals, and have scored 20 goals over that span. Montreal went 3-1 against Washington last season, scoring at least 4 goals in each of their 3 victories. Huet gets the call in goal tonight. He is 4-2 lifetime against the Caps, sporting a .912 save%.

Michael Ryder will be a healthy scratch to make room for the returning Guillaume Latendresse tonight. Ryder has been a major disappointment this season, so much so that the former 30 goal scorer of two consecutive seasons has now been scratched on multiple occasions this season. Many fans have already expressed interest in dealing the struggling Newfoundland native, but having him in the pressbox on a contract year where he is set to become a UFA is not the right way to build value. However, he has dawned this problem on himself, demonstrating a complete lack of grit and lack of determination to score. Look for Kovalev to sometimes play on a line with Koivu and Higgins, while the Kostitsyn's will flank a line centered by Plekanec from time to time.

Welcome to Habs Hockey-Talkey!

Hey everyone!

Sal here, welcoming you to the all new "Habs Hockey-Talkey" blog. The purpose of this blog is for me to vent my frustrations, or, rarely of late, express my excitement over the recent play of our beloved bleu-blanc et -rouge, the Habs.

I will also try to comment on other matters surrounding the NHL, such as reactions to recent events (i.e. suspensions) and trade rumours involving any team...However, this blog will mostly serve material related to the Canadiens.

Feel free to comment (positively or negatively) to any of my opinions in future posts.