Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Halak Gets The Call

The Canadiens have announced that 22 year old Bratislava, Slovakia native Jaroslav Halak will start game 4 tonight.

It appears that coach Guy Carbonneau feels that 20 year old Carey Price needs a bit of rest, and has cconfidence in starting Halak in this pivtoal fourth game with Montreal trailing the series 2-1.

Rumours also have Sergei Kostitsyn as a game time decision. Should he not suit up, Michael Ryder will be in.

Habs & Flyers: Game 4 + Lineup News

The Canadiens will try to tie the series at 2 and restore home-ice advantage tonight with a win in Philadelphia.

The Habs ran out of time to tie game 3 on Monday night, recovering from a 3-0 deficit to narrow the score to 3-2 before time expired.

Montreal will likely welcome Patrice Brisebois back to the lineup tonight, and the likely candidate to sit out will be Ryan O'Byrne.

No word on who gets the call in goal, but Carbonneau said today that he knows who will be in net come gametime, and the chosen goalie knows as well, but he won't reveal it to reporters.

Price's usual start is in question tonight after he allowed 3 goals on 6 shots in the 2nd period in the game 3 loss before being replaced by Jaroslav Halak, who held the fort in the 3rd making just 2 saves, one of them critical.

The Flyers are also receiving some welcome help as they will be embracing the return of Mike Knuble to the lineup tonight. Knuble strained his hamstring in game 5 of the Philly-Washington series, but has stated that he's fit to return tonight.

Martin Biron, who has proven the old addage "You have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good" true, gets the call in goal again for Philadelphia.

Canadiens: Canada's Team

A Canadian Press Harris/Decima survey indicates that the Montreal Canadiens have overtaken the Toronto Maple Leafs as Canada's team.

The Habs, who were the only Canadian team to advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs this season, were the team of choice for 40 per cent of Canadians asked.

Toronto missed the playoffs for a third straight season in 2007-08, yet finished second among those surveyed at 24 per cent.

Last season, it was the Leafs on top with 24 per cent while the Canadiens finished a close second at 22 per cent.

More than 1,000 people across Canada were surveyed April 24-28 - after the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames had been eliminated from the playoffs.

With files from the Canadian Press

Monday, April 28, 2008

Missed Opportunities Lead To Habs' Loss

Price eventually fished 3 goals from his net on 6 shots in the 2nd period before being pulled in favor of Jaroslav Halak to start the 3rd. Montreal went on to lose, 3-2.

The score could possibly have been (at LEAST) 4-0 for Montreal after one period of play had lady luck been on their side - in reality, lady luck was on Martin Biron and and the Flyers side, and the Flyers came away with a nail-biting 3-2 win in game 3.

It all began with NONE OTHER than possible "unluckiest player of the year" Chris Higgins, who had a puck bounce over his stick as he went to wrist a shot setup by Kovalev past a long-beaten Biron - basically missing an absolutely empty net.

Prior to that, Koivu had a chance on a breakway as he exited the penalty box and received a feed from the defensive zone. He came in wide, and as he attempted to cut across the paint, Biron poke-checked the puck a la Hasek and had the puck slide under his paraphenalia for the faceoff whistle.

The Habs also failed to convert on a full 2-minute 5-on-3 situation created by Bouillon drawing consecutive penalties on Steve Downie and Sami Kapanen.

Afterwards, the Canadiens proceeded to hit 3 posts on separate shots/occasions courtesy Andrei Markov, Alex Kovalev and Maxim Lapierre, and as I've stated before, that seems to be the WORST possible thing for Montreal, as it almost 100% results in goals for the other was the case vs. Boston once, and Philly once already...and it was the case tonight again.

For each post hit in the first, the Flyers responded with goals in the 2nd.

Upshall opened the scoring 7:04 into the 2nd, as he used Montreal defensman Mike Komisarek as a screen from just inside the blueline to release a wrist shot past Carey Price.

Mike Richards then scored shorthanded to extend Philly's lead to 2-0. He scored five short-handed goals in the regular season, which led the Flyers and was tied for third in the NHL. Richards picked off the puck and broke the zone, much like Upshall earlier, releasing a wristshot that hit Price's glove and continued its trajectory on the ice, eventually ending up in the cage.

Just over 3 minutes later (and with less than 2 to go in the frame), R.J. Umberger scored his 5th of the playoffs and 4th of this series by converting a wristshot from between the hashmarks which was made available to him thanks to a very solid effort from centerman Jeff Carter, who fought for the puck behind the net and tried forcing home a wrap-around.

The Habs, who were completely deflated at this point, needed any spark to get them going in the 3rd.

Coach Guy Carbonneau decided to start Jaroslav Halak in the 3rd, and after Halak made a major save with the right pad, that spark came - in the form of Derian Hatcher.

Hatcher completely wallpapered Bouillon behind the net from behind, planting his arms/hands into Bouillon's numbers and sending his face into the glass. Bouillon, who wears a visor, had a small cut under his left eye, and the call was made by the referee as a 5-minute boarding major and game misconduct against Hatcher, giving the Habs a full 5-minute powerplay to make a game out of it once more.

After 2 full minutes of entering the zone and having the puck turned over and sent back into their own zone, Montreal finally got their icebreaker, as a delfection on Biron was too hot to handle, and Tomas Plekanec was able to bat home a lose puck that was in the process of being cleared by a Flyers defenseman.

With just over 1:30 remaining on the 5-minute major, the Habs would get another goal, as Markov's slapshot was knocked down in front of Biron, and Koivu, who was trying to screen Biron and be in a lane to bang home a rebound, coralled the puck to his backhand and slid it past Biron into the empty net.

Montreal then got another powerplay opportunity as Kukkonen ran interference on Steve Begin, but failed to convert on it.

The Habs then took a too many men on the ice penalty with 3:36 to go, and, once that was killed off, the Habs tried the no-guts-n0-glory play, pulling Halak and shooting the lights out on Biron, who withstood the barrage long enough for the win.

Coach Carbonneau did indeed decide to break up the "Smoke & Fire" line of Smolinski-Begin-Kostopoulos, replacing Begin with Latendresse on the line. The move didn't exactly pay dividends, but Latendresse did have a good game, registering 5 shots and 5 hits. Begin played well as well on a line with Lapierre and Streit, as he seemed to boost Lapierre emotionally which allowed Lapierre to play one of his best games in recent memory.

Plekanec and Kovalev continued to struggle however. Despite scoring, Plekanec had a lot of difficulty evading the Flyers checks and big defensemen, and Kovalev, who played 25:23, took just one shot on goal, missing 3 others wide of the net.

Koivu played 23:21 and played another impressive game, scoring once on 5 shots which were all quality scoring chances. He also set up Kovalev a few times for great chances, including a post and a few missed targets which could have been potted by a player of Kovalev's calibre.

Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek continued to struggle tonight, and it was reportedly confirmed to Team990's Tony Marinaro that Markov is suffering from a knee and shoulder injury, explaining his abysmal skating and overall play in these playoffs.

Montreal went 2-for-8 in the game on the powerplay, while they stifled Philly's 3 opportunities.

The Habs also blewout Philly on the shotclock, outshooting them 34-14 in the loss.

Game 4 goes Wednesday night in Philly at 7 p.m.

Habs & Flyers: Game 3 + Lineup News

The Canadiens and Flyers will duke it out in game three tonight, where one of the teams will come away from it all with a 2-1 series lead.

Montreal took game 1 in dramatic fashion, tying the game with under 30 seconds left to play in the third and winning it in OT in just under a minute played.

Game 2 went Philly's way, thanks in large part to a stellar performance by Flyers goalie Martin Biron combined with a weak effort by Habs goalie Carey Price.

Game 2 ended in emoitional fashion, as Tom Kostopoulos nailed Kimmo Timonen with a gloved punch to the face after Timonen was shown laughing at the Habs forward after Philly's 4-2 go ahead goal. The punch cause a huge melee in the Habs zone, and may have set the table for a feisty encounter in Philly tonight. Puck drop goes at 7:08.


- Mathieu Dandenault is slated to be a healthy scratch tonight, and it appears that coach Carbonneau will look to Guillaume Latendresse to fill his spot. Latendresse may figure in on a line with Bryan Smolinski and Tom Kostopoulos.

- Ryan O'Byrne will play again, as Patrice Brisebois coninues to suffer from an unspecified leg injury.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Biron Steals Game #2 In Montreal

R.J. Umberger had 2 goals and goalie Martin Biron made 34 saves en route to a 4-2 Flyers win over the Canadiens in game #2 of their 2nd round series, evening the series at 1 game apiece.

Umberger scored the first goal of the game just 5:53 in as he spun to face the net from well out int he offensive zone and released a wrist shot that beat a screened Carey Price over the shoulder.

The Flyers would add insurance shortly after as on Jeff Carter found the top shelf short-side on Carey Price, converting a late solo rush down the wing on the tail-end of a powerplay for the powerplay marker.

Saku Koivu would score his 1st of the playoffs before the 1st period finished, as he scooped up a loose puck behind the net and came out on the opposite side of where Biron was anticipating, coraling the puck short side between the post and the late-reacting Biron's skate.

Daniel Briere scred just past the midway mark of the 2nd, as he deked out Price and released a backhander from in close setup by Vinny Prospal that was partially - but not entirely - saved by Carey Price's inner pad. The puck JUST barely crossed the line, but as the play continued, Prospal potted the puck past a downed Price to ensure that a goal would result from the play.

Just a buck 26 into the 3rd, Andrei Markov would make the game a game again, taking a Higgins pass as he pinched in from his position and redirecting the pass past Biron for his 1st of the playoffs.

Umberger restored the Flyers 2-goal lead with just over 2 minutes to play in regulation, swatting at a puck which seemed to be en route to being caught in midair by Price. Umbergers stick connected with Price's glove, allowing the puck to land on the ice, and Umberger took a shot off the post, back off Price's skate blade and in for the controversial put-away goal.

The Habs had their fair share of chances gone missed, notably those by Plekanec (breakaway) and Kostitsyn (missed backhander in close). Also huge were the saves on Tomas Plekanec on the powerplay, as he snagged a shot out of midair from Plekanec who stood on the doorstep, and a save on Bryan Smolinski who elected shot on a 2-on-1 with Steve Begin early in the 1st.

Chris Higgins, who still cannot BUY a goal, had Biron beaten, but the puck rang off the far post and stayed out.

Martin Biron absolutely stole the show as he made key save after save to keep Philly in the game, and counterpart Carey Price had another sub-par game between the pipes, missing out on saves he should have been able to make.

Ryan O'Byrne played in place of Patrice Brisebois, who is reportedly suffering from an undsiclosed injury and elected to sit out before the game got underway. O'Byrne held his own in the defensive end, but could not help the Habs earn a win for a possible 2-0 series lead.

Game 3 goes Monday night in Philadelphia.

Friday, April 25, 2008

KOstitsyn, KOvalev & KOstopoulos K-O Flyers

Alex Kovalev demonstrated excellent hand-eye coordination and discipline to bang home the 2-2 tying goal out of midair legally under the crossbar.

Thanks Pat for the AWESOME headline!

The Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers opened their 2nd round series last night in Montreal, and after coming out very flat in the 1st period, Montreal turned it on in periods 2, 3 and in overtime to steal a win that seemed destined to Philadelphia.

The Flyers and Habs were each coming off game 7 wins in the 1st round, but Montreal seemed to have the edge with an extra day of rest, on top of the fact that Philly was playing its 3rd game in 4 nights in 3 different cities.

After Montreal had 2 unlucky redirections that went off the post, Philadlephia finally got the offensive wheels turning... with a little help.

R.J. Umberger went wide around Roman Hamrlik as he entered the zone and then backhanded a cross-ice feed intended for Patrick Thoresen who was crashing the net. Thoresen was being guarded by Patrice Brisebois, and as the pass came through, Brisebois, in an attempt to deflect the puck towards the backboards, ended up deflecting the puck off the inside of the near post and in for the series-opening goal.

Shortly after, Philly's 4th line would forecheck and maintain the puck down low in the Habs zone. After a Thoresen shot hit the side of the net, Steve Downie charged for the losse puck behind the net, contoured it and centered a desperate pass out front which ended up reaching Jim Dowd alone in the slot. With Price's vision blocked by Brisebois who was guarding his man in the crease area, Dowd cranked and uncorked a perfect one-timer that tickled the twine top corner.

The second period would prove to be completely different than the first.

The Habs got their sloppyness in check during the intermission and came out gunning in the second, and at 6:32, Andrei Kostitsyn was sprung loose on a breakway but was tripped from behind, and he was awarded a penalty shot.

Kostitsyn came in on Biron, dead-center, and stickhandled quite a few moves before pulling wide left. Biron, in desperation, stuck the right pad against the post, and Kostitsyn ended up keeping the puck along the ice, therefore straight into Biron's pad for the save.

Andrei would redeem himself just over 3 minutes later.

Brother Sergei would enter the zone and stickhandled cross-ice before getting hooked down by Braydon Coburn. The puck would wind up sliding to an open Andrei Kostitsyn, who had entered the zone late as was taken down in the neutral zone, and Andrei one-timed a wrister with deadly force and accuracy that beat Biron short side.

The Habs would then tie the game on a shorthanded Kovalev goal that would need extensive review before being called.

Plekanec took a drop pass from Kovalev to enter the zone on the right-end boards. Plekanec pulled up, took a look, and wristed a hard shot right on goal, forcing Biron into making an awkward save that sent the puck high in the air and caused him to lose sight of it. Kovalev, meanwhile, was crashing the net in search of a rebound; but the rebound he found was definitely not the kind he expected. Nevertheless, Kovy used his uncanny hand-eye coordination skills to patiently wait for the puck to fall just under the crossbar before batting it home in mid-air. The play would be reviewed for about 5 minutes before the referee pointed to the ice indicating a legal goal, and an ensuing roar from the crowd erupted as the game was tied.

The Flyers would be on the tail-end of a powerplay to start the 3rd, and with under 10 seconds remaining on it, Coburn would crank up a slapper that would go off of Price's glove and would drop down at the foot of the goal. Lupul, looking for a rebound, would have that exact rebound go off of his foot in a non-kciking manner, and the puck would wind up in the net, restoring Philly's lead.

The lead would last late into the third period, but just as the Flyers tried to settle down for the win, Mike Richards would be called for kneeing as he extended the leg out to catch Kovalev as he entered the zone, sending him sprawling (and causing him to lose his helmet on the play, which so far has more often than not led to a Kovalev goal).

The Habs would go to the powerplay, and on a crucial faceoff in the offensive zone. With Price on the bench for the extra attacker, Koivu would win the draw, and in the process, Philly's centerman Jeff Carter would break his stick, making this more like a 6-on-3 powerplay. The puck would wind up in the ensuing scrum at the faceoff circle, but would miraculously squirt loose to an awaiting Alex Kovalev, who wasted no time coraling the puck and letting go a patented lightning-like wrister that beat Biron high glove side with just 29 seconds remaining.

Overtime would begin, and Carbonneau would elect to start the "Smoke and fire" line of Smolinski, Begin and Kostopoulos. The trio maintained the pressure in the offensive zone for most of their shift, and when it mattered, TK was there to finish this game before reaching the 1 minute mark of OT. Andrei Markov held in a poor clearing attempt by Sami Kapanen, and just before getting hit, would release a hard wrist shot on goal. Biron would make the save, but the rebound would come loose to Kostopolous. Kostopoulos shot, had it saved by Biron, but once again Biron offered up the rebound to Kostopoulos on the pad save; this time, Kostopoulos would forehand the winner into an open cage as Biron was still down and out of position from the previous 2 saves to win the game.

The Canadiens escape with the game 1 win, and will now prepare for game 2 on Saturday night (7 p.m.).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"The Price Statue" & "The Habs Horse"

These photos were brought o my attention by Karl and the man known as Igor Larionov himself in our comment sections, Paolo.

Contemporary artist Ju Ming's sculpture entitled Taichi Single Whip located near metro-station Square Victoria, has been decortated to resemble a patented Carey Price pad save. Enjoy.

Here's a personal fav I found in the Journal de Montreal...hahahaha:

The horse looks SO SAD and humiliated it's really too funny...It was probably just moments away from horse-kicking its owner straight in the teeth, or at least ripping some bad gas in retribution...awesome stuff! It's actually wearing pants and holding a stick hahaha... no horsing around in round 2!

Flyers Earn Date With Habs In Round 2

The Flyers were able to defeat the Caps with the aid of overtime thanks to Joffrey Lupul's first of the playoffs to win the game 3-2, and in doing so have earned an Eastern Conference semi-final date with the #1 seed Montreal Canadiens.

Daniel Briere also reserved himself a 2-game minimum appearance for the Bell Centre boo-birds to feast, and I believe this feeding frenzy will far eclipse the Chara session.

The Habs swept away the Flyers in the regular-season this year, outscoring Philadelphia 15-6 in the process.

The last time these two franchises met in the playoffs was in 1989, when Guy Carbonneau and Bob Gainey teamed up to sink the Flyers in six games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, eventually (and unfortunately) losing to Calgary.

The Habs and Flyers have met in the playoffs 4 times in their history, with Montreal owning a 3-1 record on Philly all-time in the postseason. The Habs won one series in 4 games (1976), one in 5 (1973), and one in 6 (1989); they lost their only series to Philly in 6 games as well, this one back in 1987.

Here is the full schedule for this upcoming series:


Thursday April 24th - Game 1 in MTL
Saturday April 26th - Game 2 in MTL

Monday April 28th - Game 3 in PHI
Wednesday April 30th - Game 4 in PHI

*Saturday May 3rd - Game 5 (if necessary) in MTL

*Sunday May 4th - Game 6 (if necessary) in PHI

*Tuesday May 6th - Game 7 (if necessary) in MTL

All games can be viewed on RDS or CBC.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Postgame Celebration Quickly Turns Ugly

Police car set ablaze in downtown Montreal following Habs win over Boston in game 7. (

Habs fans' jubilation quickly went sour as many supporters turned their cheerful attitude into an aggressive one early Tuesday morning in downtown Montreal following the Habs' 5-0 win and elimination of the Boston Bruins in game #7.

A fantastic win for the Habs is already being considered an after-thought to what has transpired in downtown Montreal.

Police cars have been the main target of the vandalism, as a reported 6 cop cars have been set aflame. Various other squad cars either had their windows smashed or tires punctured, or, in some cases, both.

There is no word yet if any weapons were stolen from these cop cars, which are known to have loaded weapons inside.

Helicopter video allowed us to see some of the carnage taking place live, and various videos showed some vandals (usually operating in small groups or gangs) setting police cars on fire while others filmed the event, surely to have the footage to upload to such social sites as YouTube.

Various testimonials of citizens who witnessed the events stated that the vandalism was done not by actual Habs fans, but by vandals who are seizing the opportunity to exact whatever kind of damage they would like.

It has also been reported that a few buildings on Sainte-Catherine street and various other surrounding streets have been vandalized, notably an SAQ store, which is an alchol-distribution shop for those of you who may not be aware. A comment from an anonymous poster has also informed us here at HabsHockeyTalkey that a Western Union branch and an American Apparel clothing shop were also attacked or vandalized Tuesday morning. One witness said he saw many people fleeing with many bottles of alcohol.

One citizen who commented on LCN cable 29 in Montreal suggested that the Habs should be banned for 5 years from playing in their own town due to the extremely disgraceful events that have transpired.

Others don't quite see such a harsh punishment suiting (myself included), but they do agree with the actions as being deplorable and non-reflective of what Habs fans are truly about.

I for one am completely against what happened downtown tonight. We are privileged to live in such a well respected hockey town that has demonstrated the utmost class in everything it does, whether it's playing games or honouring it's legends, and we should not succomb to such a low-form of celebration. This is hardly celebration at all; it's just plain stupid. Fans who would like to head downtown to celebrate peacefully have to bear witness to this kind of insanity, and it's just not fair to taint someone else's celebration by actually putting their lives in danger. Surely some of the vandals will be "google'ing" stories about the riots tonight and tomorrow, and if you're one of them, you should be ashamed of your actions.
More on this story should new details surface in the morning.

Monday, April 21, 2008

JESUS PRICE!!! Habs WIN Game 7!

The Habs salute their fans after winning game 7 vs. the Bruins by a 5-0 score.

Carey Price did everything expected of him in a pressure situation; he held his ground and COMPLETELY shut out the opposition en route to a Habs 5-0 romp of Boston in the deciding 7th game.

Price stood on his head throughout the contest, but most importantly in the 1st period which was dominated by the Bruins once again. Price turned aside 11 shots in the 1st and 25 overall tonight, but at least 5 or 6 of those 11 saves were game savers, noteably stops on Krejci with a flash of the left pad and Savard with the blocker.

Montreal came out guns a-blazing from the moment the second period started, and they never looked back.

Already leading 1-0 on Mike Komisarek's fluky opening goal at 3:31 of the first, the Habs padded their lead by two in the 2nd, starting with Mark Streit's possible goal of the year (for Montreal), as he absolutely undressed big Zdeno Chara with a move similar to Kessel's in game 6 and pump-faked a couple of times before finally fooling Thomas (guess where?) 5-hole.

Andrei Kostitsyn then scored his first of 2 on the evening just as a Boston penalty ended. Young brother Sergei hit him with a perfect pass in the slot, and Andrei found a way to coral the puck and release a deadly accurate wrist shot through a few bodies and over Thomas shoulder, who saw the puck at the very last second and couldn't make the save.

The Habs officially iced the contest with 2:02 remaining in the 3rd, as Andrei was the scorer once again, this time backhanding home a rebound of a Patrice Brisebois point-shot on the powerplay.

As the game seemed destined to end at 4-0, the Habs, on their last rush of the outing, produced yet another goal. Andrei dropped a pass for Plekanec, who went wide and hard-passed one at the crease, hitting a poorly-covered Sergei Kostitsyn for the easy redirect past a downed Thomas.

The Canadiens were backed by a very loud 21, 273 at the Bell Centre, who really did figure in as the 6th skater on the ice tonight.

Guy Carbonneau's lucky tie is now 3-0, and we would really like for him to use it in every SINGLE remaining game we have left.

All luck aside, Carbo's coaching made a huge difference in the outcome tonight, as he pulled a curveball on everyone by forming two new scoring trios: Saku Koivu centered Chris Higgins and new linemate Alex Kovalev, while Plekanec centered the high-flying Kostitsyn brothers.

The result: Koivu's line - 3 points; Plekanec's line - 6 points

The Habs unblocked their clogged powerplay tonight, getting credit for 1 PPG on 4 opportunites (keep in mind that Andrei Kostitsyn's first goal came exactly as a Bruins player stepped out of the box, so it could have been 2 for 4.

Boston, despite putting up an amazing, nail-biting fight, have seen their cinderella run come to an end.

Let's not forget, BOTH of these teams were predicted to finish near - if not, dead - last in the East, so for them to not only be in, but put together such a fantastic series is just amazing.

Hats off to the Bruins, who gave the Habs (and their fans) a real run for their money; but, in sport, one team must one, as one must lose, and we are privileged to have the opportunity to continue to wear the bleu-blanc-rouge colors proudly.

Unfortunately, LCN cable 29 is currently showing a live helicopter-feed of 6 police cars on fire in the downtown area. The fans involved here are definitely crossing the line, and these kind of actions can really put a bad cloud over such a greatly respected hockey city. It's a real shame that these morons are doing what they're doing, but it would be naive to not expect any sort of wild action at the end of such a great series by two classy organizations. The riot suqad has been called in to help deal with the overly violent downtown crowd.

The Habs now await tomorrow's result of Washington's game 7 with Philadelphia to find out who they will face in round two. The possible scenario's play out like this:

Washington wins game 7: MTL vs. NYR, PIT vs. WSH
Philadelphia wins game 7: MTL vs. PHI, PIT vs. NYR

The Sharks and Flames also conclude their series tomorrow night with game #7.

Habs & Bruins: GAME 7

Somehow, the series which everyone predicted to be over quickly and in Montreal's favor is looking as reversed as it could possibly be, with the Habs getting set to host the Bruins in game 7 of their first round series tonight at the Bell Centre (7 p.m.).

The Canadiens squandered 3 separate leads Saturday night in Boston in game 6, allowing the Bruins to tie the game at 1, 2 and 3 before having the B's jump ahead 4-3. The Habs equalized on Chris Higgins' 2nd goal of the night, but shortly after that - and very late in the 3rd, Marco Sturm potted a loose puck by Price by outwaiting him.

Game #6 was by far the most entertaining of the series, but all that should change with tonight's contest.

The Bruins are riding higher than they have been all season as they have now won back-to-back games vs. the Habs for the first time this season, needing games #13 and #14 to accomplish that feat. They will look to make it 3 in a row, with the most important victory yet to come.

The Canadiens are also looking for their most important win of the season tonight.

Looking to put an end to the stunning comeback attempt being displayed by the resillient, never-say-die Bruins, the Habs will once again have captain Saku Koivu in the lineup, as well as regulars Francis Bouillon and Mark Streit, barring some sort of unforseen event.

Montreal's ineffective powerplay CONTINUES to make headlines as this series goes on, but much of the credit must be given where it is due: the Bruins are playing the PK exceptionally well.

Alex Kovalev will have to step his game up for game 7, as will linemates Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec.

Andrei Markov, who has had an absoultely dismal series (highlighted by his worst performance yet in game 6), also needs to find a way to regain the confidence he had in abundance throughout the regular season. He is shying away from all physical contact, and the Bruins have picked up on it and have seized every opportunity to make his life a living hell.

The Habs have not been finishing their checks, passing crisply, or cashing in on their chances, 3 things that they had going for them on any given night during the season.

The Bruins have been doing the opposite, noteably in the hitting department, as every single Bruins skater is making sure to lay the body on the adversary.

The Bruins may welcome back Patrice Bergeron as an added offensive weapon for game 7, but it still remians unlikely. Bergeron's status would currently best be decribed as doubtful.

It will definitely be a wild one in Montreal tonight...the Habs will have to come out gunning if they wish to avoid the humility of having done to them what they did to Boston in 2004; that is, trailing the series 3 games to 1 as the #8 seed and coming back to win it 4-3 for the first time in franchise history.

A Boston win would allow them to set a record of their own; that is they would comeback to win a series that they were trailing 0-2 for the 1st time in franchise history (32 opportunities).


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Habs Welcome Back 2 Injured Vets

The Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins will duke it out tonight in game #6 at the TD Banknorth Garden (7 p.m.), and for the first time these playoffs, both defenseman Francis Bouillon and captain Saku Koivu will suit up for game action.

The Habs were embarassed on home ice Thursday night, dropping a 5-1 decision to Boston to allow them to narrow the series lead to 3-2 in Montreal's favor.

Carey Price was the focus of the match Thursday, as he has been on a regular basis - however, for the first time, it was a focus he'd have preferred to not have had.

Price quickly played a puck from his glove to Maxim Lapierre, but the communication was botched and a turnover resulted, with Glen Metropolit tallying the eventual game winner.

Shortly after, rookie Sergei Kostitsyn took a very undisciplined penalty, allowing big Zdeno Chara to score on the PP, putting the game out of reach.

Sturm added a shorthanded goal, and then Vladmir Sobotka scored on a harmless shot from an awful angle, summing up the Habs night perfectly; lack of effort, and poor goaltending.

No word yet on who the scratches will be for either team.

Mark Streit is also a game-time decision.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Price Hands Bruins The Game Winner

Is "the Price right" or do we really need a "Price check"?

A pair of rookie mistakes in the third period cost the Canadiens a chance to wrap up their first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.

With the game tied 1-1 in the third period, Carey price, who had been stellar up to this point in the series, handed the Bruins the lead when he tried to play the puck to a teammate only to have it intercepted by a Boston player and Glen Metropolit batted the puck into an open net for a 2-1 Boston lead.

Moments after the goal, Sergei Kostitsyn took an undisciplined penalty in the offensive zone.
Zdeno Chara scored the Bruins' second power-play goal of the game 5:49 into the third period for a 3-1 Boston lead and the Bruins coasted the rest of the way for a 5-1 win and narrowed the Canadiens' lead in the series to 3-2 and force Game 6 Saturday night in Boston.

Marco Sturm added Boston's fourth goal while shorthanded at the 15:13 mark of the final frame and Vladimir Sobotka made Price look silly with a shot from a bad angle that Price misplayed at 17:48.

Phil Kessel, who was a healthy scratch for the last three games for the Bruins, scored on the power play 7:45 into the second period when he grabbed his own rebound and beat Price between the legs.

Things had started well for the Canadiens, who grabbed a 1-0 lead on a nifty goal by Alex Kovalev 9:47 into the opening period.

Kovalev, who had lost his helmet and had his golden mane flowing like Guy Lafleur decades ago, got the goal on a backhand shot that eluded Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas between the legs.
Patrice Brisebois and Roman Hamrlik got the assists on the goal. It was a fourth point in the postseason for both Brisebois and Kovalev, who are tied for the team scoring lead.

I don't believe Price will faulter as he did tonight in the future, and I still believe in my pre-series prediction of Habs in 6... "Jesus Price" will bounce back, he's done so in the AHL before as a young goalie even for that league.

Habs will win it 4-2 in Beantown...series over...hopefully.

With files from

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Response to Mr. Strobel's Article


Ok so I didn't have any question for you at all, I just hoped you would read my email instead of deleting it so quickly, as you probably have all the rest of the replies to your piece in the Sun about Habs fans.

The "kind of fans" who give nicknames to their legends and heroes are the kind of fans with actual PASSION for their team...a nickname is direct and personal, as opposed to the lame and completely non-CREATIVE style of adding "er or "y" to a name...Caber, Steener and Matt-y are pretty f'n lame if you ask me, which I know you don't, but too bad...why don't you ask them if they'd rather be remembered by a real nickname or by a suffix, you might be shocked to hear the answer.

"Habs fans are arrogant, and often cruel. They tell Leafs jokes, such as:
What do Habs fans have that Leafs fans don't?
Colour photos of the Stanley Cup. "

Every joke has some truth to it right? Isn't that the old addage? In this case, that joke is fully true.

"It is true Montreal has won 10 Cups since the Leafs' last in 1967.
But this is pure luck, not divine right."

PURE LUCK! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, 10 cups since your last're right Mike, that must be completely luck, and must have nothing to do with the fact that we iced better squads than your Buds did. It must be luck, jeez I can't believe how lucky we REALLY are.

"Even when they lose, they're lucky. The Habs missed the playoffs last year, a glorious chance for Leafs fans to gloat. But we missed, too, damn the luck."

Sure Mike, let's just go right ahead and accredit EVERYTHING to luck while we're at it...or, let's be rational, and admit that both of our teams dropped the ball and were surpassed by 8 other playoff-worthy teams who worked to the bone to make it in, like the New York Islanders...why don't you hate them too then, Mike, they knocked your guys out? Oh, that's right, you're too much into a blind-rage for Habs fans that all the hate you can possibly muster is directed at us, none left for the Islanders, or for your own team who could have picked up and extra win or even point here and there throughout the season to qualify for the playoffs.

"Zdeno Chara, just because he's tall. Darcy Tucker, because he's from Toronto. The American anthem. The other team's stickboy."

PASSION again, Mike-y (or Mike-r, which ever super cool nickname you prefer). We like disturbing the other teams stars and goalies, anything to help the boys win, but that's hardly being arrogant. We may have crossed the line by booing the American anthem, of that I'll agree, but we don't do that anymore...maybe you haven't watched some of our games in a while so you don't know.

"Not only are they rude, they're everywhere. I have seen Canadiens sweaters from Stonehenge to the Amazon."

Take a hint big guy, you're cheering for the wrong team. This team is WINNING. Look it up in the dictionnary.

"Leafs fans never smirk. In fact, we don't smile much at all."

That's not because you're humble, as you also implied us Habs fan of not being... no no, it's because your team stinks and has been stinking for quite a few years (I believe it's since 1967), leaving its fans no real opportunities to smile.

Enjoy reporting on the golfing...and say hello to Caber, Steener and the rest-er of the crew-y.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Leafs Columnist Sounds Off On Habs Fans

I know it's a little irrelevant with the playoffs right now, but there's always time to read about a fool out of Toronto who rants aimlessly and uselessly about the Habs.

Better so, it's a rant about YOU and I: The FANS.

This rant came out of nowhere, and was published in the Toronto Sun.

Guys (and girls), if you are ANY BIT as much of a Habs fan as I am (which I know you are because you read this site), I promise you that this article will get under your skin at the very beginning, and will last through until the final word.

I know that's what he wanted, and we shouldn't be supporting him by reading his junk, but it's just so aggravating that I can't let it slide like I do most others.

This guy makes some pretty ridiculous statements... a random one would be about how we are LUCKY to have won 10 Stanley Cups since his Maple Laughs - oops, Leafs, won their last one. Yup, it must be luck, and not at all the fact that we iced better teams than they did...must be.

I detest the Leafs because of their rivalry with Montreal, but thanks to idiots like this guy, I now hate their fans, too, because he leaves me little alternative than to believe that all Leafs fans from Toronto share his mentality.

If you're a Leafs fan from Toronto reading this here and are upset that I now hate you, you have him to thank.

Keep in mind: links to either email or call this guy are found at the bottom of his article... and I'd really like to hear your comments here once you've read it.

Habs Win; Look To Seal Deal At Home

Patrice Brisebois celebrates his powerplay goal late in the 2nd period; It would hold up as the game-winner.

The Montreal Canadiens must be very relieved to have escaped game 4 in Boston with a win as they are now up 3 games to 1 on a Boston team that gave it their all to try to even the series.

The Bruins once again played with more intesnsity than the Habs for the most part of this game, but were denied in their 60 minute quest for a single goal as Carey Price's star shined brightly once again, making 27 saves in the win.

Despite what many fans and columnists alike are saying, I believe that this game wasn't a solid team performance. From what I saw, the Habs weren't playing the style of hockey that brought them to an Eastern Conference regular season crown; they were dumping and chasing, not finishing their checks on every opportunity, and setting up & exectuing very poorly on the powerplay (despite Brisebois' PPG with 42 seconds remaining in the 2nd). The Habs were basically trying to play Boston Bruins hockey, but were not playing it right at all and were lucky to keep Boston off the board.

Boston missed two glorious, sure-goal opportunities in the first; one player missed an open-net, and David Krejci failed to connect on a 2-on-0 taking a feed from Marco Sturm and redirecting it wide.

Steve Begin took a terrible penalty at the very end of the 2nd period on a harmless carry from Milan Lucic in the neutral zone with under 10 seconds to play, but lady luck was on Montreal's side this time around, as the Bruins failed to cash in and tie the game.

The Habs did shape up when it mattered most, however; as down the stretch and into the final 10 minutes of play, they really cracked down on defense. They provided Carey Price with all the assistance he would need en route to helping him record his first career NHL playoffs shutout, including a fantastic, selfless play by Roman Hamrlik who acted like a goalie himself in the dying seconds of the game to partially block a shot from in close as the B's pressured with Thomas on the bench for the extra attacker.

Prior to all that and with about 12 minutes to go, the Habs had a great chance to practically put the game away early, as Tom Kostopoulos broke the zone and floated a drop-pass to Steve Begin who would patiently skate in on Thomas, outwait him, and would try a pass back to Kostopoulos in the crease area for an easy slam dunk goal - only problem was that Marc Savard stood between them, and with Thomas down and out, Savard managed to make a goal-line interception and clearance.

Montreal are now 2-for-21 on the powerplay. Tom Kostopoulos had another standout game, his 4th out of 4 career playoff games, all played this season.

Boston will look to send the series back to Boston for game 6 Saturday by winning in Montreal in game 5 which goes Thursday night. Price is 15-4 since general manager Bob Gainey traded goalie Cristobal Huet to Washington on Feb. 26. And he's allowed just seven goals in his last seven games.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Habs & Bruins: Game 3

Canadiens lead best-of-7 series 2-1

The Montreal Canadiens will look to bounce back fromt heir first loss of the season against Boston tonight in game 4.

Boston needed their 11th confrontation with Montreal this year to notch a win, and that win put an end to a 14-game Montreal winning streak over the Bruins, dating back to last year.

Milan Lucic has been the story of the Bruins so far as he is effectively using his size and skill to create plays. Milan leads the NHL in hits in the postseason with 18.

The other key element for the Bruins thus far has been their penalty kill. Ranked 28th in the regular season, Boston have revamped their shorthanded mentality and have switched to a tighter box in front of Tim Thomas all the while adding more agressive checking on the Habs point men. The result? #1 ranked Montreal's powerplay is exectuing at just under 6%, going 1-for-18 thus far.

The Habs will need to find a way to get the powerplay going a.s.a.p as they are now dealing with a Bruins team that is high on momentum and motivation having won their first game vs. Montreal in well over a year.

The key line has been that of Tom Kostopoulos (team leader at +3), Steve Begin and Bryan Smolinski (tied for team lead with Kostopoulos with 3 points). This line needs to continue doing exactly what it's doing; grinding it out and laying the body on the Bruins defence, all the while creating scoring chances.

The problem that needs addressing immediately is the ineffectivness of Montreal's go-to line in Alex Kovalev, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn. This line needs to shift into gear as of tonight to attempt to avoid having the Bruins tie the series at 2 heading back to Montreal.

No lineup changes are confirmed as Guy Carbonneau stated that the lineups will be a game-time decision. In all likelihood, however, expect to see Ryan O'Byrne inserted into the lineup to provide that extra physical element that the Habs need to wear down the Bruins forward contingent. Patrice Brisebois MAY be the healthy scratch, as could be Mathieu Dandenault, which would surely see Mark Streit return to offense.

Puck drop scheduled for 7:08.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bruins Narrow The Gap To 1

Marc Savard is to Boston in game 3 as Alex Kovalev was to Montreal in game 2, tallying the overtime winner for his 1st career playoff goal.

It took them 11 games this season to notch a win vs. Montreal, but the win couldn't have come at a more important time.

With the potential of being down to Montreal 3-0 in the series, the Bruins knew what was at stake, and once again they played a pretty solid game, this time in front of their own crowd - well, mostly, as a large contigent of the crowd were clearly Habs fans.

The Bruins got off to an early lead, as 6:30 through the first, a bothced defensive zone play led to an unmarked Milan Lucic using time and space to his advantage and wristing a shot top corner by Carey Price.

Lucic played an outstanding game, having at least 5 quality scoring chances throughout the game.

The goal had major significance to it as it was the first time ALL SEASON that Boston held a lead over the Montreal Canadiens - this in their 11th confrontation together.

The lead would last until 4:26 of the second, as a gritty effort from Habs playoff scoring leader Tom Kostopoulos was converted into a goal. Taking the puck to the net, TK would take a weak shot on Thomas' left pad before being taken down from behind by a defenseman; but TK would not give up on the play, extending his stick on his own way down and connecting with his own rebound to slide it past a laterally displacing Thomas for the equalizer.

The story continued to be Montreal's ineffective 1st ranked powerplay, as they failed to convert on 4 more opportunities tonight, taking them to 1-for-18 in the series - or 6%.

No goals would be scored in the remainder of regulation, so off to overtime we were, again.

The Habs enjoyed early domination over Boston in overtime again, as they had in game 2.

The only difference was, accoridng to Bruins coach Claude Julien, was that "Lady luck was on their side" this time.

The Habs would be stymied on multiple occasions in OT, including a glorious chance from Tom Kostopoulos before a delayed penalty against Bryan Smolinski was signalled.

Tim Thomas left the ice to be replaced by extra attacker Marc Savard, and with the Bruins setting up in the Canadiens' zone, Savard charged in on the opposite wing of where the play was setting up. Dennis Wideman would tee-up a slapper, but would actually end up sending a crisp, hard pass cross-ice to the wide open Savard, who stopped the puck before hard-wristing a shot that beat a sprawling Carey Price ever so slightly for the game-winner.

The goal was Savard's first NHL postseason marker. The win was Thomas' first as well. Thomas turns 34 Tuesday.

"We got the monkey off our back after 13 losses," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who wasn't with the team when Montreal started its 13-game winning streak against Boston more than a year ago.

"I knew at one point they were going to beat us," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We had a couple of really good chances in overtime, but Thomas played big."

Bruins forward Phil Kessel was scratched for the 2nd consecutive game as a reuslt of a very poor performance in game 1, and it seems to be having a positive effect on the team as Boston have looked solid in games 2 and 3.

The Bruins have never come back from 0-2 down in the playoffs to win a series, going 0-31.

Carey Price's winning streak ends at 9 games.

Game 4 goes Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Boston.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

From Goat To Goal Scorer - Habs Up 2

"Kaptain Kovy" avoids being the goat in style; scoring the overtime winner in game 2.

At one point in time, Alex Kovalev was looking like the goat on the ice for taking an unnecessary penalty that led to the overtime-forcing goal...and at another point in time, Alex Kovalev was the hero, slapping home the overtime winner.

Another raucus crowd gathered and filled out the 21, 273 capacity Bell Centre for a vintage Hockey Night in Canada event, as the Canadiens looked to extend their 1-0 series lead vs. the Boston Bruins.

After coming out and getting dominated in game 1, Boston turned the tables and came out on fire in the first period of game 2 Saturday night, laying the body on Habs players every single opportunity they got. The Bruins in the process generated quality scoring chances for themselves, something seen so rarely in game 1.

Boston would not score in the first, but Montreal would, thankfully capitalizing on one of their few chances allotted to them by the Bruins. Roman Hamrlik took a drop-pass on a 3-on-2 rush from Bryan Smolinski and moved in closer before wiring a low slapshot that fooled Thomas low-glove side.

The second period was more about Montreal, as they were the team coming out gunning. Unlike the Bruins, their efforts would be rewarded in the period, and early, as Sergei Kostitsyn notched his 2nd is as many career postseason games, cleaning up a Brisebois rebound that was initially created from a great individual effort by the magician himself, Alex Kovalev, just 1:50 in.

Trailing 2-0 to start the third, Boston would once again find the energy they had to start the game, and this time they would be rewarded for a big way.

Peter Schaefer needed just 3:58 of the "final" frame to get the B's on the board, crashing the net and one-timing a Petteri Nokelainen wrist-shot rebound past Carey Price. The goal came shortly after Andrei Kostitsyn failed to convert on a clear-cut breakaway with the Bruins D activating and joining the rush dangerously.

The Bruins would enjoy their highest margin of dominance in the period, outshooting Montreal 11-4.

Alex Kovalev would also have a breakaway, but the result of it was much worse than Andrei Kostitsyn's.

Kovalev, clear-cut in on goal as well, came in on an angle, moved to the backhand, and missed with the shot completely, sending the puck of the end-glass. As he rushed to recover the puck, he would be taken down by a Bruins defender. Upset by the type of check served to him, Kovalev would get to his knees and would proceed to slash the Bruins defensemen in the leg; However, the gesture failed to go un-noticed, and Kovy was assessed a 2 minute minor.

On the ensuing powerplay, David Krejci would convert a pretty passing play set up by Marc Savard and Marco Sturm to knot the game at 2 - a feat the Bruins hadn't accomplished in game 1 since the match started at 0-0 for 34 seconds.

Two missed Habs breakaways + one bad penalty = Boston tying the game.

The Bruins and Habs would exchange powerplays without success before a crucial call was assessed to Boston late in the third.

Scott Thornton would be called for high-sticking on Tom Kostopoulos, with the incident enducing bloodspill from TK's face. The call would indeed be a 4-minute dounle-minor with 2:17 remaining in the third. The Habs would come oh so close on the powerplay, as they worked the puck around with one second left to Patrice Brisebois, who one-timed a blast that got by everyone and rang off the iron, with 0.1 left on the clock.

The penalty would carry over into overtime, and very late on the Thornton penalty, disaster would strike the Bruins in the form of another penalty; this one a tripping call on Jeremy Reich.

Thornton's penalty would expire before the Habs cashed in on Reich's penalty.

Tomas Plekanec won an offensive zone faceoff to Kovalev, who sent the puck back to Markov. Markov returned the feed to Kovalev, who was setting up across the ice (on his off-wing) from his favorite spot, atop the faceoff circle. Kovy would look around, and in a split second would decide to crank up and uncork a slapshot bomb, which caught Thomas' shoulder going down and had more than enough juice on it to continue its trajectory to the top corner, short side, sealing the deal amongst a thunderous roar from the 21, 273 at the Bell Centre - one of which accounted for my presence. The goal was Montreal's first PP marker in the series; they are now 1-for-14.

Carey Price was nothing short of stellar once again, making 37 saves in the win. Tim Thomas had 28 saves.

Game 3 goes tonight in Boston, while game 4 goes Tuesday in Boston as well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chiarelli: "We Had The Jitters"; Game 2 Preview

Canadiens lead series 1-0

With game 1 in the books and the (expected) result in Montreal's favor, The Bruins aill be looking to even the series at 1 before taking it back home to Boston for game 3 tomorrow.

A Habs win would be their 10th straight over Boston this season and 12th overall.

No word on any lineup changes for Montreal. As for Boston, Patrice Bergeron had a lengthy pre game skate but is unlikely to go for game 2.

The Bruins now know the Bell Centre atmosphere, and after coming out flat and losing the game before it started Thursday, they will definitely be looking to get back to their agressive, no-nonsense style for game 2. The Habs will have to be ready to get down and dirty vs. the desperate Bruins, and Tom Kostopoulos will likely have a busy night ahead of him.

The Boston Herald had a great piece on the atmosphere of game 1. The full story can be read here ( but here is a snippet:

“We had the jitters,” B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli admitted yesterday. “I haven’t seen our team play like that in a while. Normally, at the very least, we’ve been aggressive. We were tentative.”

The B’s stepped onto the ice to an absolute cacophony, blasted by a seismic sound wave of 21,000-plus frenzied locals who embrace this team to the very bottom of their souls. The remarkably emotional pregame spectacle must have had some intimidating effect on the Bruins players, nine of whom were appearing in their first playoff game.

“With the crazy crowd, the singing, the towel-waving, it was like being a Roman gladiator,” said B’s goalie Tim Thomas, who was not sharp in his playoff debut. “I took a few minutes to soak it in. I don’t know if that had anything to do with the start. I don’t think so. But (tonight in Game 2) I’ll pay no attention to it and just go out and do it.”

The B’s neophytes had been told that playoff hockey was different than the regular-season variety, faster and more intense. They quickly found out how true that was.

Things got worse in a hurry. Pregame noise was one thing, and it probably did contribute to the visible nervousness, uncertainty and jittery hands the Bruins displayed. -

Wow, what a city we live in! And I'll be there, one of the 21, 273 screaming and chanting all night long... Go Habs Go!

Friday, April 11, 2008

And The Domination Continues...

Sergei Kostitsyn got the series-opening goal on his first NHL playoff shift and shot.

Montreal and Boston renewed acquaintnces last night in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quaterfinals, but very little changed with regards to the outcome.

The Habs dominated the play from the get go, outshooting, outchancing and outhitting Boston en route to a 4-1 win to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

The win extends Montreal's winning streak over Boston this season to 9 straight games.

Montreal wound up with 32 shots on goal while limiting Boston to just 18.

A hint of things to come came very early as Sergei Kostitsyn scored on his 1st career NHL playoff shot just 34 seconds into the first, sliding a rebound through a fallen Thomas' pads.

With Sergei on the board, older brother Andrei felt that it was an "anything you can do, I can do better" type of event, and he took it upon himself to get on the board as well. Andrei tallied just 1:28 after Sergei's goal, taking a perfect cross-ice feed from linemate Tomas Plekanec and re-directing/shooting through Thomas' pads once again.

''I told (Andrei) before the game that I would score on the first shift,'' a beaming Sergei Kostitsyn said. ''It felt great.

''Andrei scored, I scored. I'm happy for us both. I'm happy to help the team.''

Shane Hnidy would get one back for Boston before the midway mark of the first, deflecting an Andrew Ference slapper past Price.

The second period was highlited by an increase in physical play, which included the hit of the game as Hamrlik wallpapered young Bruins forward Milan Lucic.

Brian Smolinski would eventually add to the Habs lead with his 1st playoff goal as a Hab and 23rd of his career, backhanding home a loose rebound from between the hash-marks by Thomas' glove side.

Tom Kostopoulos capped the scoring in the third, converting a nifty feed from Maxm Lapierre, as the latter sent a one-touch pass from beneathe the goal-line out front for an unmarked and awaiting TK to one-time a wrister once again through Thomas' pads.

Carey Price's biggest test of the evening came with under 2 minutes remaining in the third, as he turned aside a breakaway bid from Bruins forward Marco Sturm. Price made 17 saves in his first playoff game and first win.

Bruins stars Tim Thomas and Marc Savard were also seeing their first career tastes of playoff hockey.

The only multipoint game belonged to checker Tom Kostopoulos, helping on Smolinski's goal and adding the 4-1 goal himself.

Montreal went 0-for-5 ont he powerplay, while Boston was 0-for-3.

Game 2 goes Saturday night in Montreal (and I'll be there!) at 7 pm.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Habs & Bruins: Game 1

The Canadiens and Bruins will start their playoff series tonight as Montreal welcomes Boston to town for game 1 tonight and game 2 Saturday.

For Montreal, Saku Koivu is OUT with the left foot injury, Francis Bouillon is out as well but believes he will be ready to go for game 2.

Ryan O'Byrne will be a healthy scratch due to Mike Komisarek returning to the lineup, while replacing Bouillon will likely be Patrice Brisebois.

Michael Ryder who suffered from the flu is also ready to go, and will likely play on a line with Chris Higgins and Sergei Kostitsyn.

For Boston, Marc Savard appears to be healthy enough to go after recovering from a broken bone in his back. Patrice Bergeron will not play.

Puck drop: 7:08.

GO HABS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Are The Habs Too Soft & Inexperienced?

According to a story from the's Pierre LeBrun, an NHL General Manager requesting anonymity stated that the Habs are 'too soft' and will have difficulty in the playoffs against tougher teams.

The Habs are matching up in round 1 vs. the Bruins, who are without a doubt one of the bigger, tougher teams of the Eastern Conference.

But what good has that done them in their season series?

The Bruins are 0-7-1 this season vs. Montreal. They tried going skill-on-skill in the early games of the series, and that didnt work out. They tried mixing skill and physicality in the middle, and that didn't work out. The tried weighing hard on the physical aspect in the later games of the series, and that didn't work out, either.

The Habs used their speed and skill to outchance the Bruins, and were able to come away with 8 out of 8 possible wins, which says a lot about this 'soft team' sizing up to tough competition.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli stated that in order to come away from the series as winners, the Bruins will have to "face up to slay the dragon, so to speak".

Chiarelli on first-year netminder Carey Price: "We have to get him moving and get the puck high. He's very big. He's a pads-down, blocker-down goalie. We have to get pucks high, get him moving, and keep pucks away from him on dump-ins and hard-arounds. He's going to have pressure. He's young and it's his first NHL playoff series. We have to get in his head in a variety of ways."

The Habs are a very young team moving forward, but the experience they garnered winning the Eastern Conference crown this season pans out to be the best possible thing that could have happened to a young, playoff-inexperienced team. Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu will have to step up as veterans mentouring the young squad; Koivu with his leadership qualities and skillful play, and Kovalev via leading by example, as he's done all season long.

Chiarelli indicated that Patrice Bergeron, recently cleared for full-contact practice, will NOT suit up for game 1. Marc Savard skated for 15 minutes before practice, skating in slow circles and taking wrist shots on goal. He is questionable for game 1. Chuck Kobasew is likely OUT for the series for Boston, as he is still on crutches.

Montreal legend Guy Lafleur calls for a CANADIENS win in 5 or 6.
HabsHockeyTalkey legend Sal Amato (yours truly, of course) has the CANADIENS in 6.

The Hockey News has released its prediction, and they believe the CANADIENS will take it in 5. Their analysis below (sorry, that's as clear as I can get it for you):

Here is the full schedule for the Canadiens/Bruins series:

Thursday April 10th, 7pm Game 1

Saturday April 12th, 7pm Game 2

Sunday April 13th, 7pm Game 3

Tuesday April 15th, 7pm Game 4

Thursday April 17th, 7pm Game 5*

Saturday April 19th, 7pm Game 6*

Monday April 21st, 7pm Game 7*

* if needed

ALL games will be broadcast on RDS & CBC. VERSUS (U.S.) will broadcast GAME #2 Saturday night.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Habs To Meet Bruins In Round 1

The Canadiens clinched 1st overall in the East this season, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 Saturday combined with Pittsburgh's 2-0 loss in Philly this afternoon.

The Canadiens end the year at 47-25-10, totaling 104 points, two ahead of Pittsburgh.

With many predicting the Habs to finish out of playoff contention this season, the Habs have not only stunned their critics; they've made them all look like fools (me included) as they are now statistically the favoured Eastern team to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, gunning for their 25th Stanley Cup.

And if history is any indicator, Montreal will be heavily favoured to at least come out of round 1 on top.

The Habs owned the Bruins this season, defeating them all 8 times they met, only one of which requiring extra time (shootout).

Lifetime, Montreal is 23-7 vs. the Bruins in the playoffs.

Boston can thank their 12 overtime losses for their spot in the post-season, as Carolina had more wins in ninth, yet only mustered up 92 points, two fewer than the Bruins.

The Bruins will be hoping for an early return from Marc Savard, suffering from a broken bone in his back suffered in Boston's last game in Montreal, courtesy a Steve Begin crosscheck, and will also be praying for a miraculous return of dangerous centerman Patrice Bergeron, sidelined nearly the entire season after being boarded head-first by Philadelphia's Randy Jones.

Montreal will likely be without Saku Koivu for the first game at least, but there is optimism of a Koivu return for game 1 as well...he is suffering from a broken bone in his left foot, suffered blocking a shot in a game vs. Buffalo. Accoridng to coach Carbonneau, if Koivu can assure him that he's ready to go and ready to play through the pain, he will suit up.

The series kicks off Thursday night.

The other Eastern playoff matchups are as follows:

2 Pittsburgh vs. 7 Ottawa
3 Washington vs. 6 Philadelphia
4 New Jersey vs. 5 NY Rangers

Friday, April 4, 2008

Updated Standings Through April 4th

The Bruins defeated Ottawa 2-1 and the Panthers stunned the Hurricanes 4-3, allowing both Boston and Ottawa to clinch a berth in the playoffs.

The only position left to be clinched is the SouthEast champion at #3 seed. With their loss, Carolina will play the waiting & watching game as their fate lies in Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals' hands.

The Caps host Florida in their most important game of the year tomorrow night; a win (or an OT loss) will surely guarantee Alex Ovechkin and his 65 goals the honor of receiving the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP.

All the Caps need to do is take the game into overtime. Should they lose in regulation, Carolina would advance in 3rd, having more wins.

As it currently stand for Montreal, they would face the Senators (minus Alfredsson and Fisher) in the opening round.

Depending on the results of Boston and Philadelphia's remaining games, we could also face any of those teams as well, but it will be limited to those 3, as the Rangers can fall no lower than 6th.

Murray: Alfredsson Injury "Significant"

Bryan Murray spoke to the media Friday morning and revealed that both Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher - injured in last night's 8-2 win in Toronto - will be out "weeks", and indicated that Alfredsson's injury is worse than Fisher's.

Alfredsson is said to be suffering from two injuries - the obvious one, a head injury, was not reported until today; they initially stated last night that Alfie was suffering from a knee injury. Alfredsson was cleanly yet solidly checked from his blindside after sending away a pass from Leafs winger Mark Bell. Alfredsson's helmet flew off of his head before he hit the ice.

Fisher suffered a knee injury on his third shift of the game and did not return.

Ottawa hosts Boston tonight, where earning just one point will secure Ottawa their 11th straight post-season appearance.

The Habs host Toronto Saturday the question is: Should coach Carbonneau rest some of his key players to avoid a potentially devastating injury? Or should he dress them and gun for a shot at the Eastern Conference title?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Habs Send Sabres Golfing Early

Carey Price snags one from Derek Roy; The Habs win and end the Sabres chances for "post-season dancing".

The Buffalo Sabres had their season on the line tonight in Montreal, and they came out flat for 40 minutes, eventually surging in the third; however, it was too litte, too late for Buffalo, who suffered a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Canadiens to officially put an end to their post-season aspirations.

Carey Price was stellar once again, stopping 27 of the 28 shots fired his way.

Despite the slow start for Buffalo, they had some quality chances on Price as the game progressed, and threw everything but the kitchen sink at Price in the third, only being able to get one by him late in the third with Miller pulled for a 5-on-3 advantage (more on that later).

Montreal struck quickly midway through the first, scoring two goals in 40 seconds to take a 2-0 lead.

Higgins opened the scoring on a power play 11:28 in when he beat Miller by re-directing a Mark Streit point shot for his 25th of the season and 50th point overall.

The soldout Bell Centre crowd of 21,273 was still celebrating the Canadiens' opening goal when Smolinski made it a two-goal lead with his seventh goal at 12:08., taking a nifty - yet surely unintentional - feed from Steve Begin from below the goalline and off of the side frame of Miller's net right onto his stick, and releasing a slapshot past Miller's blocker-side.

'Smoke' - as our good friend Karl likes to call him here at HabsHockeyTalkey - then added his second of the game late in the second, converting his own rebound through a maze of Sabres and Habs and through Miller's wickets along the ice, making it 3-0.

As previosuly mentionned, Ales Kotalik would break Price's shutout bid with 8:30 to play in regulation, as the Sabres cashed in on a 4-on-3 opportunity which was in essence a 5-on-3 as coach Lindy Ruff pulled goalie Ryan Miller to attempt the comeback. Kotalik one-timed a Derek Roy feed from the slot that beat Price low and to his left. The goal was the first allowed by Montreal since Jiri Tlusty's goal in Toronto's 4-2 victory over Montreal last Saturday.

The Habs had great opportunites to add to the goal scoring in this game, as Plekanec was stifled by Miller's stick on a breakaway, Andrei Kostitsyn rang a wrister off the post past a downed Miller, and Josh Gorges ran out of real-estate to complete a manoeuvre that would've landed him his 1st NHL goal.
Matt D'Agostini made his NHL debut tonight, taking a penalty on his first shift, cutting his own nose on a follow through of a bodycheck, and nearly collecting an assist on a sweet no-look pass from behind Miller's goal to Sergei Kostitsyn, who was eventually stopped point-blank. He had no shots in 8:49 of ice time.

Montreal have once again tied Pittsburgh atop the Eastern standings with 102, and both teams have one game remaining. To be crowned as Eastern Conference Champions, the Habs will have to finish with one more point than Pittsburgh since the Penguins have one more win than Montreal.

The Habs will host Toronto Saturday, while the Penguins will visit the extremely desperate Philadelphia Flyers, who (idle tonight) have now slipped out of the playoff picture by dropping to 9th place thanks to a Washington win vs. Tampa Bay, vaulting the Caps to 92 points, one ahead of them.


-The Red Wings defeated Columbus with a late comeback capped by Henrik Zetterberg, sealing their claim on the President's Trophy.

-Alex Ovechkin had goals 64 and 65 in the win, significant because he broke the LW single-season record of 63 goals set by Luc Robitaille in 1992-93. Ovechkin also tied Washington's franchise record of single-season PP goals with 22 set by Peter Bondra in 2000-01

-Ottawa's 8-2 win came at a price tonight, as Mike Fisher left with an undisclosed injury and Daniel Alfredsson was ABSOLUTELY LAID OUT by a blindside check from Mark Bell. Alfie skated his next shift before leaving the game for good with what the team is calling a knee injury.

-Nashville's 3-2 win vs. St. Louis has put Vancouver on the ropes. Should the Canucks lose tonight in ANY way (regulation OR overtime), their playoff hopes will close. BASICALLY: Canucks MUST WIN.

UPDATE: Ryder, Grabovski OUT; D'Agostini IN

Recently recalled forward Matt D'Agostini will suit up tonight and will make his NHL debut replacing forward Michael Ryder, who now joins a long list of sidelined players with a leg injury.

Mikhail Grabovski will sit out due to the flu.

Alex Kovalev also suffered from the flu yesterday, but is cleared to play tonight.

Bouillon is also out with a lingering foot injury, and will join Komisarek and Koivu, as well as Grabovski, Ryder, and other Hamilton recall Greg Stewart.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Division Champs Host Desperate Sabres

The newly crowned Northeast Division Champion Montreal Canadiens play host to the need-a-miracle-to-make-the-playoffs Buffalo Sabres Thursday night.

Fresh off a 32-save performance that helped the Habs clinch the Division, Carey Price was named NHL Rookie of the Month for the month of March today, edging out other candidates Sam Gagner, Nicklas Backstrom, Patrick Kane and fellow 'tender Erik Ersberg of L.A.

Price will get the start tomorrow night and will go head to head with Ryan Miller. Miller has surrendered 17 goals in six games against Montreal this season, but 10 have come in the last two matchups - both losses.

Since becoming the Canadiens #1 goalie at the trading deadline with the sending of Cristobal Huet to Washington, Carey Price has dominated between the pipes. He has registered 10 wins in his 13 starts, losing only to top-tier teams San Jose, Anaheim and Ottawa. His goals-against-average in that span is 2.29; two of his 10 wins have come versus and in Buffalo.

The Habs (45-25-10) now trail Pittsburgh by 2 points, as the Penguins were able to topple the Flyers 4-2 tonight. Pittsburgh have 102 points through 81 games.

The Sabres (38-30-12) won the Presidents' Trophy last season by setting franchise records with 53 wins and 113 points, but sit in 10th place in the East this season with two games remaining for them.

Should the Sabres not take tomorrow's contest into overtime, their season will officially be over.

The Sabres reached the conference finals each of the last two seasons, losing to eventual Stanley Cup winner Carolina in 2006 and Ottawa last year. Now, Buffalo is trying to avoid joining the New York Rangers (1992-93) and Montreal (1969-70) as the only teams since 1967-68 to miss the postseason after leading the league in points the previous season.

A win for Buffalo tomorrow night would put them at 90 points, one point off 8th place Philadelphia.

Washington currently holds down the 9th spot, but plays host to Tampa Bay tomorrow. An overtime loss would be good enough for Washington to grab the 8 spot, as they would equal Philly in points while having one more win.

Who will be more desperate tomorrow night...a team gunning down 1st in the East, or a team playing for their postseason lives? If Tuesday's game was any hint, don't necessarily favor the Sabres.

Notes: The Canadiens recalled forwards Matt D'Agostini and Greg Stewart from the AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs today. No word yet on whether or not they will both play, but they will practice with the team Thursday morning.

Puck drop: 7:38

Here Are YOUR Northeast CHAMPIONS!

Carey Price collected his 3rd shutout; this one very meaningful as it clinched a Northeast crown for the Canadiens.

The Canadiens were able to come out of Ottawa with 3-0 win led by a 32-save effort from rookie netminder Carey Price.

The Habs may now celebrate the feat of earning the Northeast Division crown, a feat they hadn't accomplished since the 1991-92 season - that's a 16 year span folks...for the MOST STORIED franchise in NHL history.

In fact, the last time the Habs won the Division title, the Division was called the Adams Division, and the Habs needed just 93 points in 80 games.

It's about time, boys!

Montreal came into the contest having won 5 of their last 7, while Ottawa had LOST 5 of their last 7.

And the streaks continue...

Alex Kovalev opened the scoring on the PP midway through the first, backhanding home a Michael Ryder centering pass from along the goal-line past Martin Gerber and top shelf for his 35th of the season.

5:28 into the second, Mathieu Dandenault picked up a Guillaume Latendresse rebound and created a lane for himself to either dish the puck or go for the shot. Luckily, Dandenault chose the latter, and released a perfect wrister to beat Gerber high and top corner once again.

Midway through the third, the Habs would send this game out of reach on an Andrei Kostitsyn marker on the PP, his 26th of the campaign, as his wrist shot beat Gerber under the arm and over the pad.

Ottawa's loss now puts them in serious danger of actually missing the post-season, something that hasn't occured in 12 years. The Sens sit with 92 points through 80 games, good enough for 6th out East, but only one point ahead of both 7th Boston and 8th Philadelphia, both of whom have only played 79 of 82 games. 9th place Washington won tonight hosting Carolina, which moves them up to 90 points in 80 games, 2 away from the catching the Senators.

The Habs win vaults them to 100 points with 2 games remaining, and guarantees them a finish in the Conference no less than 2nd. The Pittsburgh Penguins also have 100 points through 80 games, but remain first as they have 45 wins, one more than Montreal's 44.

The Canadiens have not reached 100 points since doing so in 1992-93, when they finished 3rd in their Division with 103 before going on to shock many people and win the Stanley Cup, their 24th overall and 23rd as an official member of the National Hockey League. It is the 16th time in their history that they've broken the 100 point barrier.

Alex Kovalev became the first 35-goal scorer for Montreal since 1995-96, when both Pierre Turgeon and Vincent Damphousse tallied 38.

Montreal have played all their road games this season, and have two home games remaining: Thursday vs. Buffalo, and Saturday vs. Toronto. Montreal finishes with a 25-12-4 road record.