Friday, February 29, 2008
The Canadiens defeated the Thrashers on deadline day, putting a halt to a mini two-game losing skid. With the win, however, the Habs improved themselves to 34-21-9, and have won 5 of their last 7.
Chris Higgins, whose name was running rampid throughout deadline week, responded to not being traded on Tuesday night by cashing in on 2 goals and adding a helper to lead Montreal to the 5-1 rout. The Habs scored 4 third period goals in the effort, and newly appointed #1 goaltender Carey Price was stellar manning the pipes, stopping 26 of 27 shots thrown his way.
Price has become the go-to guy in Montreal after the Canadiens traded away G Cristobal Huet to Washington for Anaheim's 2nd round pick in 2009. Huet will be getting his first career start as a Capital tonight as the Caps visit New Jersey, a team which Huet has had very little success against in his career, going 1-6-0 in 7 career games vs. NJ.
The Sabres (31-24-9) have won three straight against Montreal, outscoring the Canadiens 11-3. Montreal had won the first two regular season meetings, but have since dropped 3 straight to trail the season-series by 1 game.
Steve Bernier is coming off an absolutely spectacular debut with Buffalo on Wednesday night. Bernier played his first game with his new team on Wednesday, scoring on his first two shots and adding an assist in an 8-4 home win over Nashville. Bernier was acquired by the Sabres from the Sharks along with a 1st round draft pick in exchange for two-time All-Star defensemen Brian Campbell and a 7th round draft pick. Campbell debuted with the Sharks Wednesday as well, tallying an assist.
Bernier's fifth career multi-goal game ended a career-worst 12-game goal-scoring drought. Bernier's impressive debut gives him 15 goals in 2007-08, matching the career high he set last season with the Sharks.
Buffalo find themselves tied with Philadelphia with 71 points through 64 games, but the Flyers own the 8th and final playoff as of now with 32 wins, one more than Buffalo.
The Canadiens are 5th in the East with 77 points, and trail division-leading Ottawa by a single point. The Devils lead the East with 80 points. Montreal and New Jersey play tonight, while Ottawa sits idle.
On a side note: Marian Hossa (a name we are all too familiar with these days) made his Pittsburgh Penguins debut last night and suffered an MCL injury. The team stated that he is expected to miss at least one week. Brad Richards, meanwhile, made his Stars debut last night as well, and figured in with 5 assists in a 7-4 win vs. Chicago.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I checked that article, and I was thrilled to find a feature story about Alex Ovechkin and his new girlfriend, and a nice pic of him being drunk. It's located under the Chris Simon "Welcome Back, Psychopath" story and just above the "Vanek Is A Prophet" story, which contains the link to my article. Enjoy! http://deadspin.com/359048/welcome-back-psychopath
p.s. I just found another link to a the Hossa story I posted on another site, I'm loving this. http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2008/02/21/a-fitting-hossa-rumor-for-montreal/
I sided with Bob Gainey at 3PM and I'm glad I can do it again tonight. I would have loved to get Hossa but if there is one GM in the league that we don't have to question its Gainey.
With Gainey you can be sure that he explored every avenue and thought about it long and hard, the man knows what he did and I think he did right. Look at the game tonight, the players were so happy to be with each other and the chemistry on the ice was evident. Give time to Grabs to get settled, expect Ryder to get back on the top line if this re-newed confidence grows, and Sergei will drop w/ Grabs and Latendresse (this is a line where #84 can actually do something with his size)...
This gives us 4 complete attacking lines;
Kovy, Pleks, Andrei - This is our big line, it has been shut down recently, so we need secondary scoring.
Higs, Koivu, Ryder - On the PPlay tonight this line clicked and brought back visions of last season. If this line can start producing now, everyone would forget about the awkward start to the season and would give us the very much needed secondary scoring.
Sergei, Grabs, Lats - This would be our energy line, you have speed and grit w/ Sergei, size and decent finishing w/ Lats and Grabs is just a VERY complete player (I'm very happy we didn't let him go). Yes this line may get caught in transition coming out of the D-zone, and may sometimes get burned for the offensive-mindedness, but this line is meant to boost the guys on the bench as they see the youngsters getting into it.
Begin, Laps, Streit - This is our checking line, we know Begin CAN throw the body, and we know Lapierre CAN get feisty, and we know Streit is so versatile...this line can go up against 2nd or 3rd line opponents and play a good cycle deep, keep opponents off the scoreboard and get some ugly goals...if they don't perform we'll have the always hungry, Dandenault and Kostopoulos to bring in energy to the next game and Smolinski for.......... well he's useless, maybe they need a centreman in Hamilton
On defense we're fine as long as Brisebois stays "rayez de la formation" and everyone stays healthy. But Carbo...if you're reading this...say someone gets injured...play Streit or Dandenault on D before going to Breezer...PLEASE!!!
In nets...Price knows it, even though he won't say it, he is the number one man, this season, next season and for many more to come. And for the complainers...what did Huet do this season? He didn't steal one game all season, he may have even lost some for us. He may be a loss in the locker room but he isn't one on the ice. Price knows what he has to do and he is great under pressure, history shows us that, this is another level of pressure and I think he will handle it well. Most importantly, the guys in front of him have confidence in him, as they should, and that really does make all the difference.
This is our team going into the playoffs, I do believe that we are serious, I do believe that we are for real, however there is still one element missing, but don't kid yourself, that element IS NOT Marian Hossa.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
He also said that the decision was unanimous amongst the group of directors that the deal would in fact hurt the Habs more than it would favor them, therefore the deal fell through.
On Huet: He felt that the quality of young goalies in Price and Halak made the impending UFA Huet expendable at ANY cost, and also stated that the decision was made last night that whatever the highest offer would be for Huet, the deal would be made, stating that even a (5th or 6th round draft pick offer" would have been accepted. He believes that Halak has earned a spot on the team as his save % is tops in the AHL for two years running now, and that the healthy competition between the youngster will benefit each other, and hopes that one day they can develop to their potential in the same way that AK 46 and Tomas Plekanec have this year.
On Ryder: Gainey admits that the year hasn't been easy for Ryder, but he is a good player, drafted and molded by the Habs, and they have confidence in him. He compared him to an 8 cylinder engine currently running on 6 cylinders.
Gainey also went on to state that he is satisfied with the makeup of his 3rd and 4th lines, and of his 5th, 6th and 7th defensemen. They all know their roles, and are more than capable of achieving their goals.
On Pittsburgh's offer for Hossa: When asked if he felt his offer was better than that of Pittsburgh's: "Well, we always feel that our own offers are better than others, of course, but the decision was made by Don Waddell and Atlanta that the better cogs were in place on Pittsburgh's behalf." He also confirmed that he had no priorities in talking with Hossa's agent Rich Winter prior to acquiring him.
As a Habs fan...I'm at a loss for words.
Here are the NOTEWORTHY deals of the day in chronological order:
- San Jose acquires D Brian Campbell and a 7th round pick
Buffalo acquires F Steve Bernier and a 1st round pick.
Love this one for the Sharks, as they have been abysmal to watch lately. This should help the powerplay and adresses their need for a puck moving d-man. Buffalo gets a fantastic young developing power forward in Steve Bernier, who's got a very bright future in the league.
- Dallas acquires F Brad Richards and G Johan Holmqvist
Tampa Bay acquires F Jussi Jokinen, G Mike Smith, F Jeff Halpern and a 4th round pick.
The Stars make a nice splash acquiring Richards and a nice backup for Turco in Holmqvist, who I believe can be a great goaltender in this league...the problem for him was the goalie-killer, Tortorella. The Lightning get up-and-commer Jussi Jokinen in return, and defensive specialist Jeff Halpern as well. Mike Smith will finally get that #1 role he's been longing for.
- Washington acquires G Cristobal Huet
Montreal acquires a 2009 2nd round pick.
Initially believed to be part of something bigger...but, it wasn't. Habs fans were let down once AGAIN this year, despite the rumours that actually had significant evidence to back up. The Habs have decided out of the blue to hand over the reigns to 20 year old Carey Price, who will now be under tremendous scrutiny for everything he does wrong. The Habs may have been trying to acquire something for the impending unrestricted free agent, but a 2nd rounder is way under-priced. A nice steal for Washington here. Gainey let us down folks, AGAIN - that's really all I can say.
- Colorado acquires D Ruslan Salei
Florida acquires D Karlis Skrastins and a 3rd round pick.
The Avs got a little more physical with Salei, but an overall fair deal. Skrastins is an iron-man in the league.
- Carolina acquires F Tuomo Ruutu
Chicago acquires F Andrew Ladd.
If Tuomo can help Carolina make the playoffs, he can finally get his chance to prove to the world that he CAN live up to the hype. He's been compared to as a Peter Forsberg type player throughout his young career, and he can definitely bring a much needed physical/offensive asset to this Hurricanes club. The Hawk's get bigger, and get a power forward in training who can crash the net like the best of them. Two young, very hgih potential players swapped here, and it will be interesting to look back on this deal 4 or 5 years down the line.
- Ottawa acquires F Martin Lapointe
Chicago acquires a 6th round pick.
A character player heads over to Ottawa, as they continue to add veteran help. Lapointe can still score, and will stick up for his teammates without hesistation.
- Colorado acquires D Adam Foote
Columbus acquires a conditional 1st round pick in 08 or 09 and a 4th round pick.
Colorado have decided to go back to their former heroes. First Forsberg, now Foote, and almost had Blake by the deadline apparently, but that wasn't meant to be. Foote will be a real nice addidtion, joining the likes of shut-down d-man Scott Hannan and offensive specialists Liles and Leopold. A real nice quartet in Denver, hard to see the Avs missing the playoffs now.
- Washington acquires F Sergei Fedorov
Columbus acquires D Theo Ruth.
The Caps (apart from Pittsburgh) are the winners of the East on deadline day. Acquiring Fedorov promotes the prospect of an all-russian super-line in Fedorov, Ovechkin and Semin, although it is unlikely to happen as Semin and Ovechkin are natural left-wingers. Also, Backstrom has been doing superbly well centering Ovechkin and Kozlov.
- Vancouver acquires F Matt Pettinger
Washinton acquires F Matt Cooke.
The "Matt" exhange sees two grinders switching scenarios. Not much more to say here, but I slightly prefer Cooke to Pettinger, so I chalk up the win to Washington.
- New York Rangers acquire D Christian Backman
St. Louis acquires a 4th round pick.
The Rangers' search for a defensive upgrade comes to a rest with the acquisition of Christian Backman...if you're thinking "well that's nothing to brag about", you're right. I think the Rangers dropped the ball today, but not as badly as Montreal.
- Pittsburgh acquires D Hal Gill
Toronto acquires a 2nd and 5th round picks.
The 6 foot 7 250lb stalwart d-man heads to Pittsburgh to provide more stability on the back end. A pretty solid pickup for the Pens here, but nothing compared to the bombshell that dropped at 2:58 p.m.
- Pittsburgh acquires F Marian Hossa and F Pascal Dupuis
Atlanta acquires F Colby Armstrong, F Erik Christensen, F Angelo Esposito and a draft pick.
Bombshell. Heartbreak. In that order. The Habs hype that's lasted for well over three weeks came to end with 2 minutes to go on deadline day, as the Pens landed the Slovakian dynamo away from Atlanta. Hossa will slot into place on the wing alongside Sid the Kid, replacing a role thought to be Colby Armstrong's for a few years now. Hossa provides the natural scoring ability to take some heat off Sid, and combined with the likes of Malkin, Staal and Sykora, the Pens now posess a disturbing plethora of offensive talent. Gone are Erik Christensen (who saw limited time in Pittsburgh thanks to his placement on the depth chart behind Crosby, Malkin and Staal at center), Armstrong (who never really developed into the power forward they anticipated, and 20th overall selection in the '07 draft Angelo Esposito, who was disappointing in the preseason for Pittsburgh, shying away from any and all physical activity. The Pens also acquired Pascal Dupuis, who has had a disappointing season thus far, but can turn it around in Pittsburgh. I don't see how Gainey couldn't get a deal done with Waddell after all the time Waddell spent scoping out the Habs young and current stars...I'm so disappointed.
- Detroit acquires D Brad Stuart
L.A. acquires 2nd and 4th round picks.
I had rumoured the Wings to acquire Stuart a while back, and they eventually did so. Great move by the Wings, as Stuart can now be a 2nd line PP point-man alongside Kronwall/Samuelsson. Also, acquiring Stuart is a great move because of the injuries to Rafalski and Lidstrom right now.
- Florida acquires F Chad Kilger D/F Wade Belak
Toronto for 3rd and 5th round picks.
Minor deal, of course, but still an improvement to their AHL-like roster of now.
- New York Rangers acquire F Fredrik Sjostrom, G David LeNeveu and F Josh Gratton
Phoenix acquires G Al Montoya and F Marcel Hossa.
Al Montoya has the potential to be a star in the league, but behind recently locked up Henrik Lundqvist, it wasn't to be in New York. Marcel Hossa should be able to figure in the lineup in Phoenix consistently and immediately, something he wasn't able to hold down in NY. Sjostrom is a streaky player, but does own some nifty highlight-reel goals in the past. LeNeveu, also a highly touted youngster, has struggled in the NHL with Phoenix. Josh Gratton adds more size down the middle.
- Anaheim acquires D Marc-Andre Bergeron
New York Islanders acquires a 3rd round pick.
Anaheim adds ANOTHER offensive defenseman, who to me figures in behind Pronger, Niedermayer, Beauchemin and Schneider on the depth chart. Nevertheless, a solid depth pickup should one of those 4 go down. Wise move to protect his lineup by Burke.
Alright...please, help me understand guys! What happened with Montreal!? Are you really surprised, or have you come to expect this of Gainey? What do you think of dropping Huet for a 2nd rounder? PLEASE LET ME KNOW, I NEED ANSWERS!!!!!
Marian Hossa to MTL for
Michael Ryder, Mikhail Grabovski, Maxim Lapierre (picks are believed to be involved as well)
McKenzie fully expects Hossa to be the first big name to be dealt, and continues to state that the Habs are the leaders for Hossa, despite the rest of the panel suggesting that Ottawa leads the sweepstakes.
I'm off to school at 10:45 until about 2:45, so no updates here during that time!
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sticking with T-Bay:
Dan Boyle has agreed to a 6 year $40 million contract extension.
Alex Tanguay - As previously posted, Alex will not be dealt by Sutter.
Peter Forsberg - A decision is rumoured to be made by Peter today with regards to a comeback. Déja-vu, anyone?
Dan Boyle - I reported last night that Boyle is likely to stay, but that may have changed, as sources indicate that Dan Boyle's name is being brought up by Lightning management to three teams as of now: Boston, NY, Philadelphia.
Brian Campbell - As the days wound closer to the deadline, the expectation of Campbell being dealt rose exponentially...until today. Rumours have it that the Sabres are fully-willing to try an re-sign Campbell by July 1st, confident that they can reach an agreement. It's a toss-up with Campbell, as the deadline is exactly 24 hours away.
Olli Jokinen - Rumours are heating up that Montreal are pursuing Jokinen harder than they are Hossa. Also, the Sabres, who were mentionned in the early going for Jokinen, are apparently back in the mix, and ready to make a serious offer.
Marian Hossa - It seems Detroit have in turn taken the lead in the Hossa race.
Brad Richards - Columbus are rumoured to have offered a multitude of young talent for Richards: Gilbert Brule, Dan Fritsche, and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen.
Jay McKee - The shot-blocking specialist whose name just doesn't seem to gain in popularity but is ALWAYS mentionned at deadlines, McKee is rumoured to be linked to Pittsburgh.
THE BIG THREE
Olli Jokinen - San Jose, Detroit, Minnesota, Calgary, Montreal, Edmonton (rumoured to have offered a "serious young star" in exchange)
Brad Richards - Columbus, Minnesota, Vancouver, Dallas, Montreal (rumoured to have thrown their name in the mix on Sunday). Richards reportedly gave Tampa management a list of teams he would waive his NTC to play for. He will make $7.8 million over the next 3 seasons. TSN.ca reports Vancouver, Columbus and Dallas have all submitted offers for the Conn Smythe trophy winner.
Marian Hossa - Montreal, Detroit, San Jose, Boston (Waddell reportedly checked out the Bulldogs/Marlies AHL tilt tonight, where Hamilton won 3-1 led by 2 goals from Grabovski)
THE BEST OF THE REST:
Alex Tanguay - Montreal, NY Islanders
Brian Campbell - Chicago, San Jose
Vaclav Prospal - Detorit, Nashville
Rob Blake - Anaheim, San Jose (Likely to stay put in L.A however)
Sergei Fedorov - Ottawa, Montreal, but likely to stay in Columbus.
Dwayne Roloson - Likely to be dealt, although no real teams rumoured. I'd guess Ottawa.
Michael Ryder - Calgary, Dallas
Patrick Marleau - Calgary, Montreal. A deal was rumoured to be offered by San Jose to Toronto which would have sent Marleau, Bernier, Ehrhoff and a 2nd rounder for Sundin and Kaberle, but with Sundin's recent refusal to waive his NTC, that rumoured deal can now be forgotten of.
J.M. Liles - Boston, NYR, Pittsburgh
Bryan McCabe - Has reportedly stated that he would "consider" moving to a contender. Interestees could include San Jose, NYR and Boston.
Jaromir Jagr - Likely to not be dealt as he seems to be awakening from a season-long sluber, but rumoured to be interested in by Calgary and San Jose.
ALMOST CERTAIN TO STAY PUT (but still have been rumoured to move):
Mats Sundin - Check that; Mats is now officially staying put. Speculation and rumours have it that Mats may retire at season's end, which would explaing why he wants to remain a Leaf. I will say this now: I think Sundin will get booed at Toronto's next home game...as much as it is a shame, fans are fans, and Mats may have crushed the potential of landing a few solid prospects for the Leafs.
Dan Boyle - New owner Oren Koules is intent on keeping his assets, and if Prospal gets dealt (as he should), Boyle will almost certainly stay.
Tomas Kaberle - Rumours galore, but Tomas' agent has stated that Tomas will not waive his NTC.
As I expected, no big deals have been made prior to the last 2 days of the deadline, excluding the Ottawa - Carolina swap. Tuesday has the potential to be something specaial...So many big names in the mix this year; difference is, Montreal is in the BUYER position for a change. Gainey should have his hands full within the next 24-48 hours, as the crunch time is upon him.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The decision will surely spark an outpour of mixed emotions from the Toronto faithful. Mats has been well-respected throughout his entire career in T.O., but may now have to take some heat to defend his decision to stay loyal to his club. Most fans embraced the idea of dealing Mats by Tuesday to acquire a young roster player and some draft picks to build for the future, but with Mats' recent decision to stay put, some of those fans may shift their excitement to anger. It would be ironic to call Mats selfish, but nevertheless, that is surely what will happen over the next few hours.
On a side note: Thanks for being patient in my absence...I'm back now, just in time for deadline day.... speaking of deadline day: I will be in SCHOOL unfortunately from 12 noon to 2pm, which is located downtown, so by the time I get home to update it will be around 2:45 pm. I will re-cap the day's events around that time, so until then, enjoy the action live.
Friday, February 22, 2008
The pre-and-post game updates will be on hold until after the trade deadline, as I intend to focus all my energy in the coming days on finding fresh trade rumours.
Also, Friday will be a very busy day for me, as I am preparing to DJ for a house party at a friend's house, and I will likely be gone from early afternoon until Saturday afternoon at the least. I will try to update anything I can onto here from there, before the party starts of course.
I will try to get Karl or Pat (co-contributors to this site) to post updates should there be any.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Just last night, the rumour of the Canadiens ordering equipment for Hossa (Marian) was released in La Presse, but has been recently shot down by RDS.ca.
RDS.ca is reporting that they've learned that the gloves ordered, made by WARRIOR, were indeed ordered for a Hossa, just not the one we hoped for. They were ordered for brother Marcel, of the New York Rangers, as the Rangers recently visited the Habs for a (memorable) game Tuesday night. Marcel is currently playing for the Hartford Wolfpack in the AHL, but Warrior decided to send the gloves to his NHL team (NYR) who would be in Montreal on Tuesday, to avoid complications of sending it to Hartford, for whatever reasons that might be.
Instead of avoiding complications, this sparked rumours in a city that will feed on the smallest speck of dirt to create a massive dirt mound. The rumour was given loads of credit for the fact that gloves were of the same colour as Montreal's uniform - in fact, they were to match New York's colours, which are identical, but based more heavily on blue rather than red.
On top of everything, the big rumours today suggest that Boston is the frontrunner for Hossa's services, and they are rumoured to be 100% willing to move former top 5 draft pick Phil Kessel in a package deal. The Bruins have been reportedly quitely shopping the 5th overall selection for some time now, and would LOVE nothing less than to move him to acquire the natural goal-scorer they lack just as badly as Montreal. Also, the Oilers are rumoured to have expressed interest.
Things are getting interesting for Hossa.
Also, to wrap this up on the rumour subject, expect Sergei Fedorov to become a Senator, possibly as early as today.
Thanks to Karl for the lead on this story at 2:40 a.m.
The article linked above is in french, so for you non-speakers/readers, here's the resume.
Mathias Brunet of La Presse reports that the Montreal Canadiens have gone ahead and processed an order to have equipment fitted to Marian Hossa's measurments fabricated. The order does NOT necessarily mean a deal is made and pending announcement; it simply means that SHOULD the ongoing talks between Gainey and Waddell sprout into a deal for Hossa, his equipment (in Habs colours) will be awaiting his arrival.
There was a similar situation in the past, 2 years ago to be exact, as the Canadiens had pre-ordered the development of equipment for Chicago Blackhawks members Nikolai Khabibulin and (then) Adrian Aucoin, as a deal was nearly made to acquire them in exchange for Jose Theodore, Mike Ribeiro and Pierre Dagenais. The deal was apparently accepted by both parties, but fell through when Khabibulin suffered a serious knee injury before it was made official. Doesn't it make you wonder where we'd be today had that deal gone through?
However, it is important to note that even though the order does NOT indicate an imminent trade, it DOES indicate that talks are very serious right now. The names rumoured to be sent to Atlanta at the moment are Michael Ryder, Mark Streit (both pending UFA's, like Hossa) and draft picks.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Huet streaks towards his teammates after Jagr misses his opportunity to extend the shootout.
The Canadiens were able to come back from 5 goals down for the FIRST time in their storied history by scoring 5 of their own to tie the game, and eventually win it in the shootout for the official 6-5 score.
The Habs allowed goal after goal after goal to the Rangers - five times to be exact - and they were looking lifeless. Each goal seemed to deflate the Habs more and more, with the 2nd goal of the game courtesy of Sean Avery seeming to be the dagger through the Canadiens' collective hearts as it was scored so rapidly after Brandon Dunbinsky's opener.
But, never say die seems to be the motto for this year's group of Habs, and Michael Ryder was able to snap one passed Lundqvist to break the ice. He would then get another goal to make it a 5-2 game, and this is what really seemed to get the team back into gear.
The Habs would however take a lot of stick-related penalties, as Kovalev would take consecutive high-sticking calls, Higgins would serve a double-minor for cutting Michal Rozsival, and Mike Komisarek would take a minor for high-sticking as well.
The crowd had had enough of the referees seemingly tilted points of view with regards to the Habs, and would litter the ice with GO HABS GO! banners given to them as a free gift.
That delay seemed to further spark the Habs, who would continue the comeback with a goal from Alex Kovalev to make it a 2-goal game.
The Habs would then score in even quicker succession thatn the 14 second Dubinsky-Avery markers, as Michael Ryder took a wrist shot that deflected in off of Mark Streit a mere 9 seconds after Kovalev's goal, making it a whole new game with just over 13 minutes remaining.
And then, what the fans around the city, the crowd, and the team were waiting for...
On a Marek Malik hooking call, the Habs would go to the powerplay, and 1:15 into the powerplay, Andrei Kostitsyn would leave a drop pass for Alex Kovalev in the left faceoff circle, and Kovalev would lean into a slapshot so much that he would lose his balance. The torque he put in went a long way, however; as the puck would have eyes for the twine, beating Lundqvist and capping the comeback.
Overtime would solve nothing (although the Habs had a few chances, as did Scott Gomez on a redirection), so the two teams would head off to a shootout.
The Rangers would shoot first, and Shanahan would be stopped on a slow-moving wrist shot by Huet. Markov would round out the 1st round, going forehand-backhand in vain as Lundqvist would lay the paddle down for the save.
Round 2 offered Chris Drury and Saku Koivu. Drury went to the backhand, but Huet followed him, sticking out the pad and blocker in unison for the stop. Saku Koivu would break the collective shootout goose-egg, using his patented innie-outtie deke that I choose to name the SNAKE, beating Lundqvist along the ice.
Jaromir Jagr had to score to keep the shootout alive, and as he moved in, he offered up a plethora of dekes and dangles, only to mishandle the puck on his last move and lose the puck, sending it wide and passed the goal line.
Habs Win...Habs win.
I still can't believe it.
I'm still wearing my jersey.
I'm still trying to wake up from what I think is just a very sweet dream.
The Habs and Sens both won their matches tonight via the shootout, therefore the Sens remain atop the standings with 75 points and a game in hand. The Devils (73 points) are idle tonight.
The Habs will try to settle down after this exhilerating win in time to prepare for a date with the Penguins on Thursday.
Oh, and for the first time I won '8 ailes gratuits' thanks to the habs scoring '5 buts ou plus'. God bless La Cage aux Sports.
Notes: The Rangers would chase starting goaltender Carey Price after scoring their third goal of the game.
- Wow. WOW. WOW! This was without question the game of the year! If there are any haters out there, I'm sure tonight's performance even turned the biggest haters into fans for this one night (I'll even go so far as to say that many Leafs fans will respect what the Habs achieved tonight...if it was reversed, I'd respect it for sure). Never before have I seen such a spectacular display of resillience. This team never gave up on itself and on each other. Even though Price let in 3 goals on 11 shots, the team bounced back. Ryder was a man on a mission, out to prove his critics wrong, and he did so in fashion. In only 12 minutes of ice time, he had a hat-trick, which was then converted into 2 goals and 1 assist (as his last goal was credited to Mark Streit). This team has to be the highest team in the league in regards to team chemistry right now, which is why I am growing increasingly scared with what will change come the Feb. 26th deadline. Gainey went on the record stating he wants to acquire a first line "impact player", and we can only wonder who he will acquire, and if it will do more good than it will do bad at such a fragile moment in the season. I've always wanted to be a GM of a team, particularly Montreal of course; but I have to admit, I don't envy Mr. Gainey's position right now.
That is mighty impressive, alright.
The Canadiens (32-19-9) are looking to extend their current winning streak to four games with a victory tonight, but it certainly will not come easy.
The Rangers now find themselves six points out of first place in the Atlantic Division and in sixth place in the East, having earned points in four straight games (3-0-1). They have defeated the Candiens 6 times out of their last 7 meetings, and have not yet dropped a game in this year's season series, going 3-0 thus far and looking to complete the sweep tonight.
The Rangers' last victory over the Habs was a memorable one. It was the game in which Montreal pulled away to a 3-0 lead (including a penalty shot goal from S. Kostitsyn), Ryan Hollweg was ejected for boarding, and the Rangers came back with 5 unanswered to defeat the Habs. Emotions should certainly be high tonight in the teams' final meeting of the season - or maybe I should say REGULAR season.
Montreal have rebounded very well after dropping 3 straight games - including one to Ottawa, the Division/Conference leader - by winning 3 straight vs. Florida & Philadelphia twice. Carey Price has been the go-to guy in all of those victories, registering his first NHL shutout in the process. His play has been so exceptional that the NHL recognized him as the league's Third Star for the week ending Feb. 17 with a 3-0-0 record, a 1.32 GAA, and a .963 save percentage, stopping 103 of 107 shots. Pretty impressive for a 20 year old.
All eyes will be on Alex Kovalev and Ryan Hollweg tonight, as the incident in last game may be cause for some retribution from either Kovalev or Hollweg.
No lineup changes for the game tonight, as Carey Price will start again, and Smolinski, Kostopoulos and Brisebois will sit out.
Puck drop: 7:38.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Alex Kovalev had a goal and two assists to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-3 win over Philadelphia on Sunday night, the reeling Flyers' seventh straight loss.
The Flyers, who lost to Montreal for the second straight night, have taken a stunning freefall from division leaders to seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. Their season-high skid has left Philadelphia only one point ahead of Boston and Buffalo (64).
Coach John Stevens held a closed-door meeting with a team losing confidence as quickly as games.
"We've got to start doing everything in our power that's going to be in the best interest of our team winning hockey games," he said.
Francis Bouillon scored his first goal in 75 games, and Michael Ryder and Saku Koivu also scored for Montreal. Maxim Lapierre added an empty-net goal with 1:24 remaining.
The Canadiens beat the Flyers 1-0 on Saturday night in Montreal behind Carey Price's first NHL shutout and an Andrei Kostitsyn goal. Price followed with 34 saves on Sunday.
The Canadiens are tied with Ottawa for the most points in the Eastern Conference (73), but Ottawa has two more wins.
"Our goal was to make the playoffs and it's still our goal. Sometimes you're ahead a little bit of the curve and I think we are," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said.
Mike Richards, Braydon Coburn and Riley Cote scored goals for the Flyers. Cote scored his first NHL goal with 18.1 seconds left.
The Canadiens took advantage of a momentary mental lapse in the final seconds of the first period that left Bouillon open to skate nearly the length of the ice and finish the 2-on-1 break with his first goal since last season.
Forward Scottie Upshall drilled Kostitsyn in the corner near Montreal's net. Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges came to Kostitsyn's defense and goaded Flyers defenseman James Vandermeer into a faceoff, leaving Bouillon free to skate uncontested through center ice and score with 2 seconds left for a 2-1 lead.
Gorges smirked at Vandermeer as he skated away.
"I think if each guy is better and more aware every shift on the ice, that's the only way we're going to stop this thing," Vandermeer said. "If I'm a little more aware where the puck is, if I'm back, maybe it slows the play up a little bit."
A play like that seemed to sum up all that's gone wrong for the Flyers.
"Everyone stopped. They thought it was going to be a fight," Stevens said. "That's just a killer. You can't stop playing."
Carbonneau was surprised the Flyers would try and fight instead of defend.
"They completely forgot the play to try to engage in short fighting," he said "They play us enough to know that we're not trying to engage in anything. We're just trying to play the game."
Coburn, who returned after missing four games with a ruptured artery in his buttocks, scored his fifth goal only 34 seconds into the second that tied the score. It was the first even-strength goal the Flyers scored against Montreal this season.
The celebration was short lived.
Ryder punched in the puck off a rebound for his ninth goal only 1:41 later for a 3-2 lead. Then Montreal capitalized on a two-man advantage when Koivu hooked the puck around a sprawled Antero Niittymaki for his 11th goal.
Those were enough goals to send Montreal to its third straight win overall and a season sweep (4-0) off the Flyers.
There were plenty of Montreal fans in the crowd, so when Kovalev scored his 27th goal off a pass from Tomas Plekanec from behind the net, pockets of the upper deck broke into cheers and chants of "Go Habs Go!"
The Flyers tied the score at 1 midway though the first on Richards' 23rd goal. With the Flyers short-handed, Richards faked a pass from the circle, then put his stick down and slapped one past Price.
Notes: The Flyers played without RW Steve Downie (concussion), D Derian Hatcher (knee) and RW Joffrey Lupul (sprained ankle). ... The Flyers have lost six straight overall to Montreal. Their last win against the Canadiens came on Nov. 25, 2006.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Montreal (30-19-9) will look for its 5th straight win against the Flyers (30-22-5) squad since a 4-2 loss on Nov. 25, 2006.
The Canadiens' are looking to build on their win in Florida on Wednesday, as that win put an end to a 3-game losing streak.
The Flyers may be welcoming two defencemen back to the lineup tonight, as Derian Hatcher (knee) and Braydon Coburn (Buttocks - or ASS...yeah, that one's funnier) practiced with the team this morning.
Flyers' Simon Gagne will see a neuro-specialist in Denver this week after suffering his third concussion of the year, and stated that if the specialist recommends he take the rest of the season off, "I will do it". That is not good news for the Flyers, who could definitely use his services for the stretch drive and of course, the playoffs.
Alex Kovalev (ankle) and Josh Gorges (flu) skated and are expected to be in the Canadiens lineup tonight. Defenceman Roman Hamrlik (flu, skin condition/rash) did not skate, but that was for precautionary reasons and he too is expected to play tonight. No word on who will be the healthy scratches.
Puck drop: 7:08
Friday, February 15, 2008
Rumours suggested that MONTREAL might have been announcing a deal tonight, but nothing has materialized since, leading me to believe that the rumour was a false alarm (which is usually the case in the wild & wacky world of NHL trade rumours).
The Marian Hossa to Nashville rumours do have some actual merit, but that deal is likely to happen (if it does at all) later in the week.
PLEASE don't think that I'm delivering false hope here...I'm only reporting what I find for you, in an attempt to keep you entertained! And who knows, maybe they will strike a deal before midnight...no matter how unlikely that is. I will not be adding anything from now until 3 am as I am off to work, so check back tomorrow for more updates!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The first, as expected, IS Marian Hossa. The Habs have not yet made an official offer, but the GM's are in FACT talking to each other for Marian's services. A likely list of names include Higgins, Chipchura, Dandenault, Emelin and Ryder, with Halak as a possibility.
The other player that the Habs are reportedly interested in is a bit of a curve ball:
San Jose's Steve Bernier.
No genuine surprise that they are interested in the promising Quebec-born power-forward, but just surprising in the sense that we've heard no rumours about him whatsoever this season. Possible returnees could include names like Halak, Ryder or even Latendresse.
Of course, this is all speculation courtesy of Tony Marinaro...but he says his sources are reliable.
Keep in mind that he (Michel Beaudry) is a former comedian, specializing in impersonations, so his style is clearly expected to be different than a fully trained panel's...but this is crossing the line.
P.J. Stock was also part of the panel last night, and was clearly shocked by what Landry said. This is sure to be more prominent in the news in the coming days or hours.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Chris Higgins was able to tie the game by whacking home (with one hand, no less) a faceoff that had been won by Florida in their own zone but failed to be neutralized by goalie Tomas Vokoun, and Alex Kovalev snapped home a wrister on a 4-on-3 powerplay in overtime as the Habs came from behind in Florida to defeat the Panthers 2-1.
The win not only gives Montreal the vital 2 points, but it snaps a 3-game losing skid.
Carey Price was absolutely huge in the contest, making 35 saves, 14 of which came in the 3rd period against a pressing Panthers squad. It also seems as though coach Carbonneau is leaning towards going with the hot hand between the pipes down the stretch, so do not be shocked to see Carey get the call Saturday as the Habs play host to Philadelphia.
The Panthers got off to a 1-0 lead in the first period, cashing in on a Steve Montador wrister on the powerplay that defelcted off of Markov's stick and beat Price.
However, the goal would be the only one for Florida tonight, and the lack of offense was magnified with Zednik and Weiss (top 5 Panthers scorers) out of the lineup.
It took 40 minutes and 20 seconds for Chris Higgins to tie the game.
On a bizarre play, the defensive zone faceoff was won by Brett McLean, but the puck hopped on edge towards Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun went down in an attempt to trap the puck in the glove, but at the PERFECT moment, the puck hopped in air and over the glove, casuing Vokoun to be completely out of position. Higgins, meanwhile, had outraced Bouwmeester towards Vokoun, and thanks to that burst, was able to whack at the puck with one hand and bat it home into the empty net for a freakish 18th goal of the season.
Koivu, who took the draw against McLean, was credited with an assist, as he was judged to have pushed McLean's stick backward on the draw.
Confusing, yes...but, the game was tied at 1, and that's what you need to know.
In overtime, the Habs came out gunning, keeping possession of the puck throughout the first minute. Koivu was able to receive a pass between a couple of defenders, and as he tried squeaking through, Jassen Cullimore "a sorti le crochet" (applied the hook) and took a soon-to-be costly penalty.
The Habs set up with Koivu, Smolinski, Markov and Kovalev, and it was the latter taking a feed from Koivu and, after displaying some trademark patience, unloaded a trademark snap shot through Brayn Allen's legs and past the screened Vokoun for the win.
The goal was Kovy's 26th on the season.
Koivu has two assists in the outing.
Higgins has now scored in back to back games.
Markov has 10 points in his last 11 games.
Montreal's win coupled with Ottawa's OTL in Jersey moves the Habs to within 4 of the Conference lead.
-- WHAT'S ON MY MIND? --
- Thankfully, the eventful stay in Florida is over with. The Habs came away with 2 points of a possible 4, and they came against the only NHL team who owns an over .500 record against the Habs in the regular season lifetime. The Habs played well tonight, but have Carey Price and a lucky bounce to thank as well.
- Saku Koivu did it again. Despite playing a good game, Koivu took a hooking penalty with 3:39 remaining in a tied 3rd period. Luckily, his 'mates bailed him out, or he would have CERTAINLY been front page material tomorrow morning. Koivu now has 75 PIM...75! That is 4th most amongst ALL NHL centermen!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Vaclav Prospal had the tying and game-winning goals in this one. His game winner came with 8:09 remaining in the 3rd, and gave Tampa their first lead of the match.
Chris Higgins opened the scoring (and broke a slump in the process) just 50 seconds in, as he took a 2 line lob pass from Andrei Markov which sprung him on a clear cut breakaway. Using a wide outtie-innie fake to get Ramo sliding the wrong way, Higgins was able to easily bury the puck passed the red-line into the vacated net.
Shortly thereafter, Tomas Plekanec collected a loose puck and sprung himself on a shorthanded breakaway. He came in with speed, and as Ramo went down with a poke-check, Plekanec released a wrister but was denied by the pre-positionned right pad. As cliché as it's going to sound, it has to be said: This game may have been a different result had he scored there on the penalty kill.
Instead, Tampa were able to tie the game on a rebound goal potted by Rimouski, Quebec native Michel Ouellet.
The 3rd goal of this game came at the 9:48 mark of the 1st, as Mike Komisarek was able to earn his team a powerplay after CRUNCHING Nick Tarnasky into the boards and having Andre Roy step in to take an interference penalty.
On that powerplay, Mark Streit was able to lug the puck coast to coast, flip it in along the boards to get by Boyle, and center it out front to a streaking Plekanec for the one-timed wrister that beat Ramo.
With 40 seconds remaining in the 1st, Vaclav Prospal got his first of two as he took a feed from Lecavalier and let go a wrister that beat Huet 5-hole.
No goals to report in the 2nd period, but a whole LOT of nice saves from both goaltenders, but mainly from Cristobal Huet, as he came up with his most notable saves on Jan Hlavac (twice) and Craig MacDonald.
In the third, Prospal would notch the eventual game winner by converting a feed from Vinny Lecavalier, who really grinded for the assist. Pressuring Markov behind the Habs' net, Lecavalier came up with, lost, and came up with the puck once more, stealing it away from Markov using a savvy combination of slashes and sticklifts. Instinctively, he threw the puck out front, right on the tape of the unmarked Prospal, who outwaited Huet into a flinch and released a wrister that Huet had gotten a piece of, but not enough to keep it from trickling home.
The rest of the game was highlighted by some more miraculous saves. Huet came up with 3 more clutch saves to keep it a one goal game, including the stellar stop on a tic-tac-toe combination from the big line that ended up having St.Louis stopped on the doorstep on a cross-ice feed.
With time winding down, Lecavalier caught Kovalev with an elbow, and Kovy retaliated, throwing a punch towards Lecavalier. Both were sent off with roughing minors, and action went to 4-on-4. With the extra ice, and Huet already on the bench, the Habs nearly capitalized a couple of times, but Karri Ramo came up with the game-saver. With under 20 seconds to play, Andrei Kostitsyn went cross-ice down low and hit brother Sergei perfectly on the tape, but Sergei failed to get a lot of mustard on the chance, and Ramo was able to move laterally quickly enough to come up with the save - despite being unsure of where the puck lay. It would eventual be blown down as a frozen puck, and the Lightning would survive the late surge to hang on for the win.
Tampa outshot Montreal 36-21. The shots were 9-9 after one, but then Tampa turned it on, outshooting Montreal 10-4 and 17-8 over the course of the final two periods, respectively.
The Habs play again tomorrow night, as they visit the Panthers to finish off the road trip. Florida are fresh off a 5-3 loss Sunday in Buffalo which saw them lose Richard Zednik - who is expected to be out for the rest of the season - due to a freak skate-to-throat incident. That game is schedule for 7:30 pm.
Contrary to the pregame report, Mathieu Dandenault did dress for this game. The scratches were Kostopoulos and Begin, with Hamrlik missing his 4th consecutive game with the flu.
With a chance to pull within one point of Ottawa for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the Canadiens fell behind 3-0 less than five minutes into the game and lost 6-1 on Saturday.
Huet stopped only one of four shots before he was pulled 4:45 into the opening period. Rookie Carey Price then surrendered three goals on the final 25 shots. Huet was 10-3-1 with a 2.53 goals-against average and one shutout in his previous 14 starts.
It was the second straight loss and third in four games for Montreal (29-18-9), which dropped five points behind the Senators.
The Habs will go with Cristobal Huet tonight, who has won both of his starts this season vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. Carey Price was in goal for the shootout loss at the Bell Centre way back on December 11th.
Alex Kovalev has goals in four straight games against Tampa Bay.
Although the Lightning own the worst record in the conference, they are only seven points behind Southeast Division-leading Washington. If the Lightning are going to make a run at a playoff spot, they have to play better at home, where they have won only three of their last 14 games (3-10-1).
Johan Holmqvist has heated up lately, going 6-1-1- with a 2.40 g.a.a. in his last nine starts; however, the TEAM 990 is reporting that Karri Ramo will get the call in goal.
Vincent Lecavalier sits in fourth place in the Art Ross point-scoring race with 72 points, four behind leader Alexander Ovechkin. He was recently bumped into fourth courtesy of the surging Evgeni Malkin, who is certainly making the most of his time as the team's #1 centerman.
Ryan O'Byrne will play tonight, but Tom Kostopoulos will be a healthy scratch along with Mathieu Dandenault. Along with Mark Streit, Dandenault is a team worst -10.
The woman who filed the charges against Ryan O'Byrne has now dropped them, reports CJAD.
Puck drop slated for 7:08.
Report with files taken from AP.
Monday, February 11, 2008
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The Senators are looking to shake things up by acquiring the veteran foraward and defensemen in exchange for their younger talent. Commodore is a proven playoff warrior, and Stillman brings in even more experience along with a knack to find the net. Both were members of the Carolina cup winning team of 2006.
The Canes are looking to shake things up on a so far disappointing season, moving forward with youth. The Canes have now acquired the offensive d-man they have been searching for, but it certainly came at a price.
Stillman waived his No-Trade Clause to move to Ottawa. He and Commodore will be unrestricted free agents at season's end, while Eaves will be restricted. Corvo has two years remaining on his $2.75 mil/yr contract.
The rookie supper (for those who don't know) is an annual event in which rookies take the veterans out for supper and cover the tab. The veterans are known to always order the MOST EXPENSIVE dishes and wines all night long, and P.J. Stock stated on the TEAM 990 today that during his rookie supper, his tab ran to $20, 000.
The story surrounding O'Byrne and Kostopolous...
Ryan O'Byrne was arrested and charged with grand theft, as he allegedly stole a woman's purse and was found tampering with her cell phone outside the club.
Tom Kostopolous was charged with resisting an officer. He reportedly tried to control the situation by showing the officers his NHLPA players card to indicate his status as an NHLer and explain the situation as it was, but the officers were insistent on arresting O'Byrne, so they decided to haul Kostopolous in, too.
Bails were set at $2,000 for O'Byrne and $500 for Kostopolous, both of which have been paid.
-- WHAT'S ON MY MIND? --
- Ok, the guys were HAMMERED. This is sure to have happened because the guys were past drunk...WAY past. O'Byrne was probably acting like a clown around that woman, and as she got fed up, he probably took her purse to take her phone and prank her in some way (maybe change the language to chinese or something). This situation is hilarious to me, but I'm hoping they can leave it behind them for Tuesday night's game. And, hopefully, they can take the incident as a plus and learn to stand up for each other and band together better on the ice. Kostopolous demonstrated again his excellent role as a team player, being the first one to stand up for his teammate and suffering the consequences for it.
<-- The look on the fans' faces says it all.
A freak accident led to a horrifying scene in Buffalo Sunday as the Sabres hosted the Panthers.
With 10 minutes remaining in the 3rd period and the Panthers trailing 4-3, Olli Jokinen took a hit and went awkwardly off-balance, with his right leg lifting up behind him and his skate blade slashing a gash in teammate Richard Zednik's neck on the right side. Blood immediately poured out onto the ice, but thankfully Zednik realized at that exact moment that the best thing to do was to get to the bench and visit the medical staff.
Zednik left a trail of blood from the Sabres zone to his bench, but the medical staff were able to act quickly and thankfully get the bleeding to stop.
The crowd at HSBC center sat in complete silence in awe of what had transpired before their eyes. The shock was also visible in the other players from both teams, who stood around as the game was delayed for several minutes before resuming.
Zednik's status in hospital was upgraded to stable, and a press release from a Panthers spokesman stated that Zednik had successful emergency surgery and was resting comfortably.
The two teams decided to finish the game on the decisions of coaches Lindy Ruff and Jacques Martin, and Buffalo added a goal to win 5-3; though some of the players questionned the decision to continue, such as Olli Jokinen, who stated that the incident was so frightening that he had no further intentions to play hockey. Lindy Ruff also stated that he "didn't care" about the game anymore after the incident.
--WHAT'S ON MY MIND? --
- I hadn't seen the incident live, but I was able to catch the highlights on multiple televison channels. Only RDS and affiliate station RIS replayed the scene showing the blood pour from Zednik's throat, and I almost wish I hadn't seen it. The initial splash on the ice was about as big in circumference as a typical salad bowl. From now on, when I think "Richard Zednik", I will have two images in my mind: the usual elbow from Kyle McLaren in the playoffs a few years ago when he was a member of the Habs, and this. Zednik had been on a tear lately for the Panthers, notching 6 goals and 3 assists in his last four games. However, that's no longer important, as his health takes obvious precidence over any hot-streaks (or anything else for that matter). Safe to say that Richard Zednik is out indefinately as he recovers from the ghastly accident.
O'Byrne should see action Tuesday after Saturday's debacle, and here's hoping that Patrice Brisebois gets the nod to watch from the pressbox. The Canadiens now find themselves carrying 9 defencemen on the roster.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Spezza wrapped up the evening with a neat 3 goals and 3 assists, notching his first career hat-trick and passing his career high of 5 points in one game.
Alfie made his return felt as well, going on to tally 2 goals and 3 assists. Dany Heatley finished with 1 goal and 3 helpers, as the "Pizza" line combined for 15 points (refered to as the "Pizza" line because when Ottawa scores 6 or more goals in a game, the fans get a free slice of pizza from Pizza Pizza, and that line is more often than not responsible for the 6 goals in any given game.)
Spezza opened the scoring 22 seconds in on a nifty redirect off an Anton Volchenkov blast stemming from an offensive zone faceoff win. At 1:42 of the first (!:20 later), Spezza had his second of night, sweeping home a loose puck that Huet was unable to cover off a streaking Dany Heatley wrist shot. Huet was chased at the 4:45 mark, as Daniel Alfredsson officially capped his return with a goal, and, in doing so, introduced Carey Price to the ice. Price temporarily healed the wound, but in the second, Ottawa added goals from Heatley and Spezza.
Andrei Kostitsyn scored the Habs' lone goal of the game on a 5-on-3 man advantage with 25 seconds remaining in the 2nd, redirecting home a nice pass set up by brother Sergei to make it a 5-1 Sens lead. Price started that play off and was credited with the secondary assist, the first of his career.
But, to kill the buzz, Alfie earned the crowd their pizza, scoring 2:28 into the third on the powerplay, notching his 2nd of game and giving Spezza the personal-milestone 6th point on the night. Mercifully, the scoring would end there.
Huet allowed 3 goals on 4 shots. Price stopped 22 of 25 in relief. Montreal has now lost 4 of their last 6.
The Senators scored both of their powerplay goals on opportunities granted to them via Patrice Brisebois penalties (notice how much I like him?)
Montreal outshot Ottawa 34 -29, and Ray Emery had 33 saves in the win. Ottawa's lead in the standings has now increased to 5 points over Montreal.
The Habs are off until they kick off a south-Florida mini-trip, visiting the Lightning Tuesday before heading into Florida for a date with the Panthers Wednesday.
-- WHAT'S ON MY MIND? --
-I really hope Montreal finds a way to rebound from this loss as they continue their road-trip in So-Flo next Tuesday/Wednesday. They are now losing more than they are winning, something we are used to enduring in the past but not yet this season, and to keep the fans from panicing, a strong effort and a WIN is needed vs. the Lightning.
-Huet was to blame on 1 of the three goals he allowed. Spezza's redirect and Alfie's shot were practically unstoppable, but Spezza's rebound goal off Heatley was a gift left on the doorstep.
-Montreal really turned it on when down 3-0. They found plenty of ways to beat Ray Emery, but almost no way to solve the posts, as they dented the iron on 5 separate occasions! Emery owes his posts (and, on one occasion, his crossbar) dinner.
-The Habs REALLY need secondary scoring, as tonight demonstrated what the rest of the season could look like should the new big-line fail to produce, although it is rather unfair to judge a performance against a conference leader such as Ottawa.
-Good to see Sergei Kostitsyn not shying away from rough stuff, as he got into his second career fight. His opponent was much tougher this time around, as he upgraded from Chuck Kobasew to Wade Redden. Redden was able to knock him down with a swift uppercut, but, hey, at least he stepped up, which is more than what I could say about Maxim Lapierre, who likes to stir, but doesn't seem to like to shake (shake meaning fight).
Saturday, February 9, 2008
The Senators (33-18-4) were able to restors a 3 point lead on Montreal Thursday with their 5-4 win against the Panthers, coupled with Montreal's 4-2 loss vs. the Maple Leafs. The Sens struggled prior to Heatley's return, and have only won 1 of 7 games without Alfie in the lineup.
Since joining the Senators in 2005 following a trade from Atlanta, Heatley has recorded points in each game at Scotiabank Place against the Canadiens, totaling seven goals and nine assists while leading Ottawa to an 8-2-0 record.
Alfredsson, the Senators' leader with 32 goals and 68 points, has missed the last four games with an injured hip flexor. Alfredsson hasn't played since Jan. 29, when he logged an assist in just over 12 minutes during a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders in his first action following the All-Star game. He has three goals and eight assists during Ottawa's current five-game home win streak over Montreal.
The Senators have outscored the Canadiens 24-10 since last losing to them at home on Nov. 13, 2006.
Montreal, who got their first win of the 8-game season series against Ottawa on Tuesday, will be looking to close the 3-1 gap that Ottawa holds to one game with a win tonight at ScotiaBank Place. To do that against a team welcoming back it's biggest stars, the go-to line of AK27, AK46, and Tommy Turtleneck (hat-tip to Kev for the nickname) will have to shine brighter than ever. Some secondary scoing from Koivu and whoever he is centering will be needed as well, not to mention making the most of every powerplay opportunity they will get while staying out of the sin-bin. The Canadiens are losers of 3 of their last 5, and are trying to avoid falling into an official slump, one of their first of the season.
Montreal will be without Roman Hamrlik, who remains in quaratine while suffering from the flu. Michael Ryder will play tonight, with Mathieu Dandeneault designated as the healthy scratch. Cristobal Huet gets the call in goal.
Another source tracked the progress of this potential deal and reported that there is not a possibility of this deal at this time. In fact, this new source stated that there have been ZERO conversations bewteen Waddell and Gainey over dealing Marian Hossa. This rumour went from peak to peak (high to low) in a matter of hours.
Gainey is making additions to the Hamilton Bulldogs roster, signing UFA NCAA college forawrd Brok Trotter and making a minor deal with Detroit's farm club. This is sure to be ragrded by many as a sign of a potential "big picture deal" that Gainey might be working on, involving some farm-team prospects.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Here's the catch: The site also suggests that the Habs return may involve assistant captain Chris Higgins and a high draft pick, as high as a 1st rounder. The site has also hinted that Higgins may be a part of the deal only if the Habs can work out an extension (long-term) for Marian Hossa.
Would you do this deal, involving Chris Higgins? Let me know in the COMMENTS section below!
Stay tuned, as a major change for the Montreal Canadiens may be hours away...
Thursday, February 7, 2008
The Habs were able to open the scoring, but Toronto responded with 3 unanswered goals, including the 3rd back-breaking goal from Kyle Wellwood on the PP with 24 seconds remaining in the 2nd period to hold on for a 4-2 win. Darcy Tucker added a couple of goals including the empty netter to seal the deal for the Leafs, who have won their first match against Montreal after dropping 3 straight to even the season series at 3 games a piece.
Montreal opened the scoring on Plekanec's 20th goal of the season, matching his career high set last year. Andrei Kostitsyn got the phantom assist, as he did most of the work but did not figure on the scoresheet. AK 46 got his forecheck going, collected the loose puck on a brilliant dump in from Markov, circled the net, held off his challenge, and got the puck back to Markov, who then threw it towards goal. Kovalev redirected it into Kubina's skates, and as the puck rebounded to Kovalev, he put a pass under Kubina's stick and a little ahead of a wide open and awaiting Plekanec, who had to control the puck skate-to-stick before sliding it five-hole past Vesa Toskala.
Kovalev was able to get a goal tonight as well, as the Leafs failed to convert on a powerplay opportunity. Kovalev realized that he was beaten and out of position on the play, so he decided to bolt up ice and hope for a miracle. That miracle happened, as Carey Price came up with a key stop and Plekanec was able to seize a loose puck and launch it up ice to the awaiting Kovalev, who found himself on a clear cut breakaway (and that's an understatement!) Kovalev kept it simple, yet fancy (as is customary of him), going forehand-to-backhand and shelfing the puck past Toskala to make it a one-goal game early in the third. However, Toskala would hold his ground long enough for Tucker to pot the empty netter and seal the win.
Vesa Toskala registered 34 saves in the win, while counterpart Carey Price had 24. Cristobal Huet will be back between the pipes Saturday in Ottawa as the Habs visit the Sens.
The Senators got the 'W' tonight vs. the Panthers, restoring their 3 point lead over Montreal. They welcomed back (with VERY open arms) Dany Heatley tonight, who had 2 goals and added a helper.
Huet's string of consecutive starts ended tonight at 13. Crisotbal went 9-3-1 in that span.
-- WHAT'S ON MY MIND?... --
And now, to kick off my new feature at the end of all future post-game reports that I like to call "WHAT'S ON MY MIND?", which will be a quick summary of any random event that I have on my mind...
-The game seemed to be lacking in one area specifically tonight: REFEREE-ING! The Habs should have been awarded with many more powerplay chances than they were tonight, and I say this in an impartial stance. To Toronto's credit, some calls went un-noticed their way as well, but certainly not as many as what they got away with tonight. Howver, credit must go where it's due, and as much as I hate to praise the team I despise so greatly, the Leafs simply got the job done with a severely under-manned roster tonight.
-What was Koivu thinking in the last 30 seconds?! Markov sent a pass in his direction as the Habs tagged up on the delayed offside, but Koivu's attention seemed to be on Toronto's bench in front of him for an inexplicable reason. His lack of readiness allowed Tucker to come away with the puck and pot the empty netter. Carbo was then seen shaking his head in disgust...I sense some tension between the two. With the goalie pulled and under a minute to go, Koivu's attention has to be on the puck and not on anything else.
-Mark Streit must hit the net on 1 out of every 7 or 8 blue-line one-timers. His lack of accuracy could cost us in the longrun, and I find it extremely aggitating to endure. He does get the odd slapper to go for goals on some nights, but he should REALLY work on his long range one-timers in practice, for his own and the team's benefit.
-Patrice Brisebois needs to go. That's it.
Feel free to COMMENT on any of the points I mentionned above, or anything at all! I am really enjoying the feedback being left by all of you, so THANK YOU and please keep it coming!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
LINEUP UPDATES AT BOTTOM
The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, hockey's two oldest franchises, have won a combined 37 Stanley Cups. With the way the Canadiens have played lately, they appear to be a contender for what would be their NHL-best 25th trophy.
Given their play since the new year, the same certainly can't be said about the Maple Leafs.
Montreal looks for its sixth win in eight games on Thursday when it concludes a four-game homestand against Toronto, which is coming off its worst loss since 2005.
The Canadiens (29-16-9) have been steadily rising in the Northeast Division since late December, and have closed within one point of Ottawa, which had clearly established itself as the Eastern Conference's premier team over the season's first two months.
But by beating the Senators 4-3 on Tuesday, Montreal sent a message that Ottawa is in for a fight if it wants to win maintain control of not only the division, but the conference.
"We all know nobody trusted us before the season," said center Tomas Plekanec, who had two goals and an assist. "We were supposed to be in 13th or 12th place right now, and we are where we are and we know what we can do, but we're not going to get overconfident, that's for sure."
Plekanec has 19 goals - one shy of his career high - and is the Canadiens' second-leading scorer behind Alexei Kovalev.
Kovalev had only 18 goals in 73 games last season, leading many to believe the 34-year-old's days as a premier scorer were through. But he has 24 goals and 28 assists thus far, including two goals and four assists in his past three games.
After missing the playoffs last spring, Kovalev is focused on the big picture.
"It's still 35 points to make the playoffs," he said. "That's the way I look at it, so we have to keep working."
Kovalev has tormented the Maple Leafs recently - he has four goals and three assists in the teams' past three meetings, all Montreal wins. Toronto won the first two games between the clubs in the season's first month, and Kovalev was limited to one assist.
The Leafs (21-25-9) snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday with an impressive 4-2 win against Ottawa, but followed that by equaling their worst loss in more than three years, an 8-0 thrashing administered by Florida on Tuesday.
Florida scored three power-play goals to chase goaltender Vesa Toskala as the Leafs fell to 5-9-1 since Jan. 3.
"We can't roll over like that in any game," said center Matt Stajan. "It's embarrassing to lose like that on home ice. We know that in this room."
Toronto is giving up an average of 3.27 goals - only Tampa Bay and Los Angeles yield more goals per game. It's been even worse for the Leafs in their last 15 games, getting outscored 53-33 in that stretch.
One of the team's top offensive options will be missing his third straight game on Thursday. Nik Antropov, whose 18 goals are second behind Mats Sundin's 22, will serve the final game of his league-imposed suspension for hurling a stick at an official following an overtime loss to Carolina on Jan. 31.
Sundin, who has been one of the most prominent names discussed as the league's Feb. 26 trade deadline approaches, has been held pointless in four of his last five games.
He has six goals and 10 assists in his last 13 games against Montreal.
Carey Price gets the call in goal and will likely go head-to-head with Vesa Toskala. Expect some line juggling with the possibility of Chris Higgins playing on the fourth line. Francis Bouillon has an injured foot and will be a gametime decision. Should he not dress, Michael Ryder will be inserted into the lineup. Brisebois will dress in place of Roman Hamrlik, who is still out with the flu.
Puck drop scheduled for 7:08.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Plekanec's line continues its dominance, as each member of the line would register 3 point nights hosting the Senators Tuesday night. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson/ESPN.com
That's right: The Montreal Canadiens are now one point away from top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Habs improved their record to 29-16-9 thanks to a 4-3 win tonight on home ice vs. the Eastern Conference leading (currently injury riddled) Ottawa Senators.
Chris Kelly opened the scoring 2:42 into the game with help from Antoine Vermette, but that goal led to a series of 4 unanswered goals for Montreal.
Getting it started was Andrei Kostitsyn, or as I like to call him, AK 46. Andrei was able to notch a powerplay marker by planting himself at the tip of the crease and being the beneficiary of a beautiful display of puck-control and passing courtesy of linemates Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec. Kovalev stickhandled the Ottawa defensemen out of position before laying it off to Plekanec, who dished a perfect cross crease pass to Kostitsyn, who battled for the tip-in goal with Andrej Meszaros on his back.
Up next was Tomas Plekanec, scoring what was certainly considered the goal of the game and a definite possibility for Habs goal of the year. Kovalev was able to catch a long cross ice pass from blueline to blueline, gain the zone, go cross ice through a few Sens players to Andrei Kostitsyn, who then went cross crease again through a couple of Sens to find Tomas Plekanec streaking hard to the net, and Plekanec was able to beat the visibly confused Martin Gerber with the re-directed wrister. Tic, Tac, Toe with a dash of beauty.
The Habs' next two goals came 1:46 apart, midway through the second period. Mark Streit padded the lead to 3-1 after accepting a breakout transition pass from AK 46, gaining the zone, and unloading a slapper that redirected off Joe Corvo's outstretched stick to wind up lasering its way home top corner. Plekanec then scored his 2nd of the game on the powerplay after taking a feed from Kovalev and quickly throwing it towards Gerber from the goal line, bouncing it in off his catching glove arm for a goal that Gerber certainly wishes he could have back.
Cristobal Huet was sensational in this outing. Despite giving the puck away to Kelly for the game's opening goal, he made the saves he made when he really had to, making at least 5 saves on what could be considered as golden opportunities for the Senators, including two saves on Chris Kelly in the dying moments of the game to preserve the victory. He had 26 saves in the win, and made a strong case to coach Carbonneau who now has to decide who to start for Thursday's outing vs. the Maple Leafs.
The line of AK 27, AK 46, and Tomas Plekanec (TP 14 just doesn't have that ring to it...) each tallied 3 points on the evening en route to leading the Habs to their first win against Ottawa of the season. Montreal hadn't beaten Ottawa since a 3-1 win on Jan. 29, 2007.
RDS and TheScore television reported that both Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley might return to action Saturday, conveniently in time to face Montreal in the two clubs' 5th meeting of the season.
The Canadiens (28-16-9) are 3 points away from division rival and Eastern Conference leading Ottawa (32-17-4) as they prepare to host them tonight at the Bell Centre. The two clubs will meet again this coming Saturday in Ottawa at ScotiaBank Place.
Ottawa has been in the news all year; sometimes for reasons that they enjoy, and, more recently/often, for reasons that are detrimental to the club overall.
Ray Emery is in the headlines AGAIN today as reports indicate that "Rayzor" Ray left practice and then left the facility early. This is the latest event in what can be considered an epic saga of events that have transpired between Emery and the Sens this season, ranging from altercations with teammats (McGratton), verbal disturbances during practice (Neil), and his own failure to arrive to practice on time on two separate occasions. Emery has been nothing but a distraction this season, and it is very unfortunate for him and the Sens as well. Slated to be the starter for the Senators this year after taking them to the Finals in last year's playoffs, Emery suffered a wrist injury which required surgery in the pre-season, which inevitably led to Martin Gerber being named the starter. Gerber took off, tallying win after win after win while Emery healed, and the emergence of Gerber solidified his position as the team's #1. Since his return, Emery has struggled when given the chance to play, and his frustrations have now carried over negatively.
As if the "Emery Situation" isn't enough, Ottawa have now been dealt significant blows in the form of injuries. Patrick Eaves, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson are all ruled out for tonight's contest against the Habs, and there is a possibility that top shut-down man Chris Phillips misses tonight's action as well, as he is listed day-to-day with a lower body injury. The Sens are winless this season without Alfie in the lineup...which is why Alfie is strongly considered to be named MVP at season's end. Alfredsson has tallied 2 goals and 4 assists in three games vs. Montreal this season.
If there's any plus for Ottawa tonight, it lies in Martin Gerber. Gerber has gone 7-1-0 with a 2.26 goals-against average in eight lifetime starts versus Montreal.
The Canadiens are looking to rebound from a heartbreaking defeat on home ice suffered at the hands of the New York Rangers this past Sunday afternoon. Montreal dropped a 3-0 lead to eventually lose 5-3. They are 1-1 in their current four-game homestand, and face an injury riddled Sens team tonight before hosting their arch-rival Maple Leafs this Thursday.
The Habs have not defeated Ottawa yet this season, recording a 0-3-o record. They have been outscored 11-6 in that span, but are definitely in their best position yet to secure their first win vs. Ottawa this season with 5 games remaining between the clubs. Cristobal Huet is expected to get the call tonight, while freshly re-called Carey Price will backup. Many believe Price will start Thursday vs. the Leafs, as he is 3-0 vs. Toronto this season. Michael Ryder will be a healthy scratch tonight, and defenceman Roman Hamrlik will be an injured-scratch as he is suffering from the famous Flu bug that the Habs and their fans know about all too well thanks to last season.
Sepcualtion continues to swirl that a deal is in the works between Atlanta and Montreal that would have the Thrashers sending over Marian Hossa. Speculation also suggests that the Thrashers are eyeing Chris Higgins, Michael Ryder, Ryan O'Byrne and prospect d-man Alexei Emelin as possible returns. Don't count on Gainey moving Higgins, but don't rule out any of the other three as the Habs have a deep pool of defensive prospects in the system - and we all know that Ryder's days in Montreal are numbered...we just don't know the actual number.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:38.
Monday, February 4, 2008
After taking a "late" hit in the second period, Sean Avery decided to not retaliate against the aggressor, Mike Komisarek. Komisarek was assessed a 2 minute roughing minor for the check, which may explain Avery's initiative to lash out after the game rather than on the spot.
I say "late" because Komisarek checked Avery into the boards about half a second after the clock ran out to expire the 2nd period.
Late or not, the hit is making news this morning once again on the heels of Sean Avery's latest comment.
"That's what (Komisarek) does," Avery said. "He's big, so he doesn't skate well. He's got to play physical, or he won't play in this league."
Is he watching the same Komisarek as us??? Mike has been an absolute monster this year, laying out top-tier forwards left and right, clearing the net to clear a view for Huet, and blocking shots at a league-leading rate. Many have argued that if there was a trophy for top stay-at-home defensemen of the year, Mike would be a definitive candidate for reception.
But hey, there is no reason for me or for anyone, Habs fan or not, to even argue this (absurd) claim since it is coming from an absurd source. In fact, commenting on it and getting the blood boiling is exactly what Sean wants from fans around the league, so the best way to deal with it is to ignore it - which should be easy, because most of what he says makes little to no sense anyway.
Sean Avery is just being Sean Avery; the same guy who was voted 66% as the most hated super-pest in the NHL by his fellow NHL'ers. He is simply running his mouth in an attempt to get back into the media, as usual...after all, being in the papers is just like being home for him.
The comment should go a long way in setting up the next encounter between these Original 6 rivals. That rendez-vous is set to take place two weeks from tomorrow (February 19th) right here at the Bell Centre. Scalpers should have little trouble making some cash on that day.
P.S. It may be worth noting: Mike Komisarek is rumoured to be in a fling with Montreal actress Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door, 24), former girlfriend of Sean Avery.