Saturday, November 29, 2008

Habs Stonewalled By Former Hab & Vezina Winner

WASHINGTON [CP] - Jose Theodore tried to downplay the importance of his shutout against his old Montreal Canadiens teammates.

Theodore, who spent parts of 10 seasons with Montreal before being traded to Colorado in March 2006, made 28 saves for the first shutout with Washington in the Capitals' 3-0 victory over the Canadiens on Friday night.

"I knew in the first period I was seeing the puck well," said Theodore, who has 26 career shutouts. "Even if I didn't see a lot of shots early, I knew I would need a good shot to beat me."

Theodore's second game against Montreal was a lot better than his first. He allowed eight goals in a loss to the Canadiens on Oct. 21, 2006, with Colorado.

Alex Ovechkin, Tomas Fleischmann and David Steckel scored to help the Capitals win their seventh straight at home - the longest streak since also winning seven in a row from Nov. 17-Dec. 16, 2000. Washington is 9-0-1 at home, and is 15-0-1 since March 9.

This season didn't start well for Theodore. He was pulled after allowing four goals in 30 minutes in the opening game in Atlanta and, after sitting in favour of Brent Johnson for four games this month, he's back in favour.

"He was fabulous," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "For his confidence, for his mind-set, it was great to see for him for a confidence builder."

Fleischmann opened the scoring at 11:03 of the first period. In back of his own net, Montreal's Francis Bouillon tried to flip the puck down the ice, but Fleischmann intercepted it just in front of the net. He tapped the puck to Michael Nylander, who immediately returned it to Fleischmann, and the winger sent it past Jaroslav Halak for his ninth goal of the season. Fleischmann has five goals in his last eight games.

Ovechkin added his 13th goal of the season, and his fourth in the last two games at 3:42 in the third when he skated at Halak, who was making his first appearance in the last seven games, and shot it cleanly past him. Ovechkin has scored in 10 straight games. During those 10 games, he has 11 goals and 11 assists.

The shutout seemed more important to Ovechkin than his own streak.

"Before the game, (Theodore) didn't talk. He just concentrated on (the) game," Ovechkin said. "Today, he played well and deserved it. He deserved it."

Two minutes after Ovechkin's goal, Washington had a two-man advantage for 1:42, but couldn't score. About three minutes later, Steckel scored his fourth goal of the season.

Theodore was tested in the second period, with the Capitals clinging to a 1-0 lead. Neither team scored, but the Canadiens were clearly more aggressive - outshooting Washington 13-7 but failing to capitalize.

"The saves he made over a period of five minutes in the second period were pretty dazzling," Boudreau said.

Halak played well, his coach thought, but his teammates didn't.

"Jaro - that's where I'm embarrassed," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We come up with that kind of game, and that kind of effort - and I'm really sad for him.'

Carbonneau was grudging in praise of the former Canadiens goalie.

"He was lucky at some times," Carbonneau said. "He made the saves when he had to. We didn't really test him."

The victory was Washington coach Bruce Boudreau's 50th since he took over the team on Thanksgiving Day 2007, tying him for sixth place among Capitals. He reached 50 wins in 84 games, the fastest to the mark in team history.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Motown Shocker: Habs Stun Defending Champs


This Montreal Canadiens team is weird.

When a team that gets embarassed by Toronto and defeated by other lowly teams such as Columbus and Long Island defeats a team so good as the defending champs in such dominating fashion, you have to wonder how it all makes sense.

The Habs defeated Detroit 3-1 last night, and did so in a defensive-minded effort.

Montreal's game plan was obvious from the get-go: stack bodies in the neutral zone, allow no one to forecheck deep, and force Detroit to dump the puck in and chase. The plan worked perfectly against a team that uses puck posession and speed to their advantage. The system forced the Wings to dump the puck in, and despite them chasing, they were rarely ever able to gain control of the puck long enough to set up a decent attempt on goal. The reason for that was Montreal was winning nearly all of their 1-on-1 battles, and then used transition play at key times to find the back of Detroit's net on three occasions.

Montreal got the lead early in the second, when a Maxim Lapierre pass attempt from below the goal line redirected in off captain Nicklas Lidstrom's skate.

Shortly after that, Tomas Plekanec scored on a shortened Montreal powerplay, completing a tic-tac-toe passing play with defenseman Andrei Markov. The goal was initially a result of an Alex Kovalev takeaway - he got the secondary assist.

Just 50 seconds after that, Detroit coach Mike Babcock was forced to call a timeout as Chris Higgins took a nifty drop-pass from captain Saku Koivu and slid a backhander along the ice passed Ty Conklin.

Ryan O'Byrne, playing in his first game since the brutal own-goal incident Monday night, played a very solid game, apart from the fact that his giveaway led to Johan Franzen's shutout-breaking 10th of the season. Franzen showed dangler hands as he completely undressed O'Byrne before moving to his backhand to beat Price who was still on the wrong side of the net.

Josh Gorges had a spectacular outing, as has become the norm, especially in Komisarek's absence. Gorges blocked 2 shots (one of which required him to walk off the pain in the tunnel), dished out two hits, took a shot of his own and played for over 22:30.

Carey Price turned aside 32 shots for the win; Conklin stopped 25.

The win may have come at a price though, as Alex Tanguay left the game in the first period after being rocked by a hard, clean hit courtesy of Brad Stuart along the boards. He finished his shift but didn't return. Tom Kostopoulos filled his spot on the line alongside Koivu and Higgins, and he did a very good job at that, creating space and generating chances.

The Habs handed Detroit their first regulation loss of the month.

The Canadiens now prepare to face a surging Capitals squad in Washington, led by Alexander Ovechkin (fresh off a 3 goal 1 assist performance) and Jose Theodore.

Ovechkin, by the way, has really heated up in November: He has 10 goals and 21 points in his last nine games. Has has earned at least a point in all nine of those games, and has had three or more points four times.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Original Six Matchup: Habs vs. Wings @ the Joe

LIVE PREGAME SHOW ON THE TEAM990 STARTS AT 6:30 PM WITH MITCH MELNICK, THEN CONTINUES FROM 7-7:30 WITH MYSELF AND ROD FRANCIS. TUNE IN!


The Montreal Canadiens (11-5-4) visit an Original Six rival as they take on the Detroit Red Wings (14-2-4) at the renowned Joe Louis Arena.

Montreal will be in tough tonight, led in goal by Carey Price.

The Red Wings have won 7 of the last 8 home games vs. the Habs, and since 1994, are a sparkling 13-4-0.

To add to the Habs' woes, Detroit boasts a league-best 32.4% PP effeciency.

The only chink in their armor appears to be their penalty kill, which at 80.8% ranks 18th, one rank lower than Montreal's at 81.4%.

Ty Conklin will be between the pipes tonight, despite it being Chris Osgood's birthday. Conklin has been playing extremely well of late, boasting a 6-1-0 record. He has won his last three starts.

For Montreal, it appears Guillaume Latendresse wil sit out again. No word on any lineup changes.

Game can be seen on TSN(HD) and RDS(HD), faceoff time 7:30 pm.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Remember This? From March 9th - Backstrom Leads PENGUINS To Victory?



Caps forward Nicklas Backstrom, a possible leading candidate for the Calder trophy as the league's top rookie, scored a huge goal in a 2-2 game with 30 seconds left to give the Pittsburgh Penguins the lead en route to a 4-2 win in Washington.

If you think I made a mistake above, I don't blame you; by all means, it should be.

It isn't.

Sidney Crosby one-handed a desperation pass through the crease of Cristobal Huet, and the puck landed on young Backstrom's stick. Backstrom attempted to wrist the puck behind his net out of sheer panic, and wound up notching a goal that will not show up on the scoresheet...all it will do is leave him with a -1 on the play, and cost himself and his teammates a vital point in a sensational game that looked destined for overtime. Crosby was credited with the goal as he was the last Pens forward to touch the puck. Staal later added an empty netter set up by Malkin.

Immediately as Backstrom potted one past his own 'tender, Alex Ovechkin crumbled to the ice in a fetal position, with the reality of the situation sinking in immediately: a game which he and his teammates battled for to the bone had just been wasted away by a very bizarre own-goal.

Sidney Crosby was "mic'ed up" for the game on NBC/TSN, and they replayed the celebration footage, which allowed us to hear Crosby laughing and yelling to his teammates "He shot that in his own net!"

It certainly was something special to witness live. An identical event happened earlier in the year to Leafs d-man Bryan McCabe, who potted one home off of both posts past own-goalie Andrew Raycroft with 4 seconds remaining in an overtime session vs. the Buffalo Sabres.

Habs "O'Byrned" By Islanders

What is Doug Weight so happy about, you ask? The answer will leave you stunned...

I had predicted on the TEAM 990 pre-game show that Montreal would win 4-2 on the strength of their powerplay.

Early in the game, that prediciton looked good, as Montreal cashed in on the first PP opportunity to take the lead at 2-1 (from as unlikely a source as any in Josh Gorges, who scored his first as a Hab).

Then my prediction started to look worse, as Montreal failed to score on their other 6 powerplays.

Then, something happened that no one on the planet would have or could have predicted.

With the Habs up 3-2 since about midway through the second period, someone commited the error of all errors.

In the third period, with 4:47 remaining, Bill Guerin scored an empty net goal.

WHAT?

Did Montreal feel so cocky with the lead against the lowly Isles that they felt the need to pull Price? Is that the error I'm refering to? Was it Carbo's coaching error?

No. God no. I wish...

With Carey Price on the bench on a delayed penalty against Sean Bergenheim, Ryan O'Byrne won a foot race to the puck against Doug Weight (nothing to brag about, I know), collected it near the boards beside the right faceoff circle, and WRISTED IT INTO HIS OWN NET (Even LESS of SOMETHING to brag about, I know!).

Just like that, without even a shot on goal officially, the Isles were back in it...new game.

The Habs would solve nothing on two of their 7 powerplays that came after the O'Byrne gaffe, and, despite being the aggresor , found no way to win their first in overtime of the season.

The shootout concluded with what I felt would happen immediately after the O'Byrne doozie, as the Isles wound up winning led by Richard Park and Bill Guerin.

O'Byrne was chanted off the ice by his own crowd, as they mocked his name in tune.

In an incredible stat, Joey MacDonald allowed 3 goals on 26 shots, while Price allowed 2 on 24, yet MacDonald got the win, as the O'Byrne own goal was never against Price.

In all fairness, O'Byrne's mistake was terrible, but the Habs threw this game themselves. They failed to connect on 6 straight man-advantges and looked very sloppy and disorganized on those opportunities once again. Even with the goal, their powerplay has become a serious issue. They came into the contest with the 2nd worst PP% on home ice, only ahead of Tampa Bay.

Steve Begin (2) and Maxim Lapierre (2) had the other goals in this one.

Montreal now has one night to dwell on this loss before heading out to Detroit to face the defending champs. Detroit lost 3-2 in overtime tonight, on the road in Vancouver.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Habs Host Streit, Islanders

CATCH MYSELF AND ROD FRANCIS ON THE TEAM 990 PREGAME SHOW AS WE FILL IN FOR MITCH MELNICK FROM 7- 7:30!


Montreal looks to shake off a tough loss to Boston on Roy's jersey retirement night tonight as they visit former Hab Mark Streit and the New York Islanders at 7:30.

Carey Price will face-off against Joey MacDonald between the pipes.

The Canadiens look to win their seventh straight against the Islanders as the teams meet Monday night.

Montreal (11-5-3) has outscored New York (8-10-2) 24-10 since a 3-2 road loss on Feb. 24, 2007. The Canadiens have also won 12 of their last 15 (12-3-0) at home against the Islanders despite being limited to goals on 17.7 percent (11-for-62) of their power-play opportunities.

On Nov. 1, Montreal beat New York 5-4 despite going 0-for-3 on the power play. Yann Danis, who has since been sent to the minors, was in goal for the Islanders in that contest, but the Canadiens have had problems scoring regardless of who has been in net.

Montreal is 3-4-2 since getting off to an 8-1-1 start, scoring two goals or fewer four times during its slump. The Canadiens' scoring woes are largely due to their struggles on the power play, going 2-for-27 (7.4 percent) in their last six contests.

Friday, November 21, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: MORROW OUT 6 MONTHS

Stars F and captain Brendan Morrow will miss up to 6 months with a torn ACL in his right knee.

This is a HUGE blow to the Stars, who are last in their division and 14th in the Western conference.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Carbo Shuffles The Deck, Again

CATCH THE PREGAME SHOW LIVE ON THE TEAM 990 TONIGHT, BEGINNING AT 6:30 WITH MITCH MELNICK. THEN, AT 7, ROD FRANCIS AND MYSELF TAKE YOU THROUGH THE FINAL HALF HOUR.


Coach Carbonneau hasn't been impressed with his team over the last few games, especially in Carolina Tuesday. That's what has prompted him to once again shuffle the deck.

Saku Koivu will center a line between Alex Tanguay and Guillaume Latendresse; they played together for the first few games of the season while Higgins healed from a groin injury.

Tomas Plekanec is reunited with Alex Kovalev, and will welcome Chris Higgins on his left wing. The latter played with Higgins for two years in the AHL, but haven't played together much in the NHL.

Robert Lang centers Andrei Kostitsyn and Tom Kostopoulos, while the fourth line remains up in the air, but may feature Steve B├ęgin centring Georges Laraque and Sergei Kostitsyn.

Carey Price is back between the pipes, fresh off a 46-save outing in the loss.

The Sens, who are dead last in the East, will reunite the PIZZA LINE of Jason Spezza centering Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson (named PIZZA LINE because of a promotion in Ottawa where 6 goals on home ice wins the fans a slice of pizza, and those three were generally responsible for many free slices being handed out).

Alex Auld is likely to take his sparkling 2.14 GAA into Scotiabank Place tonight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Price Stops 46 In Loss To Hurricanes


The punchless Carolina Hurricanes kept peppering Carey Price, and got a couple of pucks past the Montreal goalie just in time.

Sergei Samsonov and Ray Whitney scored 3 1/2 minutes apart in the third period, and Carolina put a season-high 48 shots on net in its come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Canadiens on Tuesday night.

"We came out with the attitude that we were going to shoot some pucks and crash the net a little bit more," Samsonov said. "We really made an effort to try to put the puck on net from any position, and I think that kind of created the forecheck."

Whitney followed Samsonov's first goal of the season with the go-ahead goal with 13:27 remaining to jump-start a Carolina offence that averaged fewer than two goals in its previous six games.

"We're doing what we're doing now with not a lot of goal-scoring," Whitney said.
Robert Lang scored for the Canadiens, who ended a lengthy power-play drought yet lost for the third time in four games.

"The whole game was about who was going to take a gamble," Montreal forward Alex Kovalev said. "I think every time we saw (the) opportunity to be on the safe side, we took a gamble, and it cost us. We really (need to) focus on and concentrate on the little details, which is not to worry about points or if you're going to score a goal. For now, we need to win a couple of games 1-0 or 2-1.

"There are not going to be a lot of goals like there were at the beginning of the season. That's where it starts."

Price made a career-high 46 saves and stopped the first 30 shots he faced. Carolina's 48 shots also were the most allowed by the Canadiens.

"That's a team that shoots everything," Price said. "Whenever they get the puck in a good shooting position, they're going to be letting it go."

Cam Ward made 28 saves for the Hurricanes, who have won two straight after dropping three in a row.

"We're just building a little bit on each game," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "If you go back to (Friday's) loss in Atlanta, the next game and the next game, I think we're doing the right things and getting a little better each game. So we just have to continue on that road."

Whitney gave Carolina the lead by capping a busy sequence that started with Dennis Seidenberg's slap shot that caromed off the back boards to Scott Walker, who fanned from close range. The puck rolled to Whitney, and he pushed it high past Price for his fifth goal and first in four games.

That came after Samsonov got the Hurricanes even with about 17 minutes left. He took a feed from Patrick Eaves on a 2-on-2 rush and beat Price with a snap shot to end an 18-game goal drought.

"There have been some quality chances that I've gotten throughout the last few games, and it paid off," Samsonov said.

His slump might be over, but Eric Staal's certainly isn't. The Hurricanes' marquee player hasn't scored in eight games and has one goal on home ice.

"Our next (goal) is to get the big boy going," Whitney said of Staal.

Montreal entered with one of the NHL's worst power-play units, but scored with the man advantage for the first time in five games.

Barely a minute into the second period, Lang got things going for the Canadiens, who entered scoreless in their previous 20 power-play chances. He slipped into the slot, took a feed from Kovalev and snapped the puck hard past Ward's stick for his sixth goal, making it 1-0. One-third of Lang's 240 career goals have come with the man advantage.

Notes: Lang has scored in two straight games. .. Carolina C Rod Brind'Amour's two-game goal streak ended. .. Montreal lost in regulation after scoring first for the first time this season. .. The season series is tied 1-1.
CP

Monday, November 17, 2008

Habs Eek Out Win In St. Louis


The Habs rebounded on the road Sunday after dropping a 2-1 decision at home vs. their playoff nemesis, the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Habs were very undisciplined, and it was evident that the cause was the fatigue from playing two games in under 24 hours + travel.

I had never before seen Montreal cancel so many of their own powerplays by taking a penalty. It was truly mind-boggling. They did it four times.

Luckily enough, however, the Habs found a way to get it done...however, some truly discouraging characteristics are becoming evident.

Most evident of all: the powerplay is anemic. Someone needs to pot a PPG soon for Montreal, because it has become downright ridiculous. The confidence of a team that had the best powerplay 2 years running is clearly shaken. Montreal has always been highly-dependant on their special teams, so someone is going to have to find a way to score soon, to shake the proverbial monkey off their collective backs.

The Habs tied the game twice, each time responding to a Steve Regier goal - his first two in the NHL.

First, Andrei Kostitsyn barreled down the right side and squeaked a backhander through Manny Legace's legs. Then, Robert Lang displayed great hand-eye coordination by batting a puck out of mid-air while on his keester to send it top shelf and tie the game at 2 with just 4:12 remaining.

OT solved nothing, despite each team going on a 4-on-3 powerplay.

Alex Kovalev sealed the win in the shootout, scoring the only goal of either team. He went from forehand to backhand to the top shelf as the last shooter on the bench-clearing goal.

Montreal's 3 game road trip continues Tuesday in Carolina before concluding Thursday in Ottawa - two teams that have struggled lately.

Montreal D Francis Bouillon took a slapshot in the neck area during overtime. He bolted for the locker room immediately, horrifying a woman who worked as personnel for the Blues in the tunnel (she took one look at Francis and put her hands to her mouth in sheer, utter horror). Not much word on the severity of the injury, but one site claims it isn't too serious.

Friday, November 14, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: MELROSE FIRED

Lightning head coach Barry Melrose has been fired by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Melrose will be replaced by Rick Tocchet - a man who nearly went to jail a little over a year ago on gambling accusations.

Melrose coached 16 games this season, going 5-7-4. He used Vincent Lecavalier slightly over 16 minutes yesterday, about 10 minutes less than Lecavalier's accustomed to.

Habs On A Roller Coaster Ride

The Canadiens, who went from a thoroughly embarassing weekend to a stunningly awesome outing on Tuesday, went back to their humiliating ways again last night in Boston.

Milan Lucic had a goal and a big fight win over Mike Komisarek to help lead the B's over the Habs, 6-1. The win put an end to Montreal's 12-game regular season winning streak.

Komisarek suffered an injury in the fight (hand) and will be held out of the lineup tomorrow vs. the big bad Flyers, who for their part will be without Danny Briere and are fresh off a blown lead for a loss vs. Pittsburgh.

The Habs just had absolutely nothing going for them in the game, which slipped away from them very early as F Shawn Thornton scored 2 and a half minutes in. The Bruins turned it on and never looked back, while the Habs seemed to apply the brakes when down and never recovered.

Carey Price was in goal for all 6 goals allowed...needless to say, Price had a weak outing.

Coach Carbonneau announced to the media that Jaroslav Halak will start vs. Philly.

Saku Koivu had the only goal for Montreal. Tanguay assisted.

Montreal (9-3-2) now hosts Philly Saturday before flying to the midwest for a rare date with the St. Louis Blues, on an even rarer start-time of 6 p.m.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Habs Shoot For Lucky 13 in Boston

The Boston Bruins host the Montreal Canadiens tonight and will try to win their fifth straight...to do so, they'll have to end a 12-game regular season losing streak to the Habs.

Boston (9-3-3) has won seven of their last eight games, thanks in large part to the sensational play of G Tim Thomas, who controversely is not on the All-Star ballot. Thomas boasts a sparkling 1.76 GAA and a .946 save %.

Rumors have Manny Fernandez getting the call in goal tonight, however.

The Canadiens (9-2-2) have outscored Boston 50-22 over their 12-game winning streak. Montreal are fresh off their best-effort of the season, having come away with a 4-0 win on home ice vs. the Senators. That win was fresh off an abysmal weekend which saw the Habs lose 4-3 in penalty shots to Columbus and 6-3 in an embarassing outing in Toronto.

Carey Price recorded his first shutout Tuesday, and will be between the pipes again tonight.

Game time is scheduled for 7 pm, and the game can be seen on RDS (HD) and on the NHL Network.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Higgins Gets Tricky, Price Stonewalls In Habs Win


Christopher Higgins scored his first career hat-trick and Carey Price made 28 saves for the shutout as the Montreal Canadiens downed the Ottawa Senators 4-0 Tuesday night.

Guillaume Latendresse also scored for Northeast Division-leading Montreal (9-2-2), which ended a two-game losing run.

The Senators (6-7-2), who are last in the division, lost both games on a two-game road trip.

Higgins, who had scored twice in a game nine times, had a goal in each period to give him four in seven games since returning from a groin injury.

Price rebounded from a weak outing in a 6-3 loss in Toronto on Saturday night to post his first shutout of the season and the fourth of his career. His last shutout was 3-0 against Ottawa on April 1, which was the last time the two teams met.

The highlight for the 21-year-old was a toe save on Dany Heatley in alone in the third period.
Montreal outshot the Senators 31-28.

The Canadiens were short-handed when Saku Koivu shovelled a pass from his own end to the far blue-line, sending Higgins in alone to lift the puck over Alex Auld 7:22 into the game.

Sergei Kostitsyn slipped the rebound of Ryan O'Byrne's point shot to Higgins for a shot into an open side 14:11 into the second frame. Latendresse got his first goal in 11 games with a one-timer to the top corner after Robert Lang won a face-off in the Ottawa zone.

With 3:25 left in the game, Higgins took a pass from Alex Tanguay at centre ice and went in alone to score on a high shot to the stick side.

Ottawa's Jarkko Ruutu had the sellout crowd of 21,273 aroar early in the third when he nailed Maxime Lapierre with an elbow to the jaw along the boards, drawing a charging call, and then fought to a draw with Francis Bouillon. Ruutu was later sent to the dressing room with a 10-minute misconduct for yapping at Lapierre on the bench.

It was a rare night on which Montreal shut down Ottawa's big three of Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza, who together had 42 points in eight games against the Canadiens last season.

It has been six games since Alfredsson was moved onto Mike Fisher's line. Spezza has only one assist in his last five games.

Notes - Last season, Ottawa was 5-3-0 against Montreal, but lost the last two meetings..Tom Kostopoulos served the first of his three-game suspension for a hit from behind on Toronto's Mike Van Ryn. Steve Begin and Patrice Brisebois were healthy scratches for Montreal..Luke Richardson sat out for Ottawa.
CP

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kostopoulos Suspended Three Games

Habs winger Tom Kostopoulos has been suspended three games for his hit from behind on Toronto defenseman Mike Van Ryn last Saturday, which left the latter with a concussion, a broken bone in his hand, a broken nose and a gash on his forehead. Van Ryn is expected to miss a month.

"While it is my determination that Kostopoulos did not deliver a check to an unsuspecting opponent, his actions caused injuries," said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Kostopolous is considered a repeat offender, and will lose $32,926.83 from his salary. As a repeat offender, the salary forfeit is based on games in the season (82) rather than the number of days (186). The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Kostopoulos said after the game he had no malicious intent and planned to call Van Ryn to apologize."I was trying to get in there, get a hit and get the puck," Kostopoulos said. "Like I said, I didn't anticipate him turning and I couldn't stop myself. And I hope he's all right."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Grabovski, Leafs Double Up On Habs


Mikhail Grabovski is settling in quite nicely with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Grabovski had a goal and an assist and linemate Niklas Hagman scored twice to lead Toronto to a 6-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Grabovski has six goals and two assists in the last four games, teaming with Hagman and Nikolai Kulemin to form a nice line. Grabovski had three goals in 27 career games with Montreal over the last two seasons and has seven in 15 for the Maple Leafs, who acquired him in a trade over the summer.

"He's been our best player for two weeks," coach Ron Wilson said. "He's been a dominant player. That's why he's got seven goals now."

Grabovski was gracious when asked about his time in Montreal after Saturday's game, but Hagman said he was pretty fired up to prove something to his former team.

"For sure he wanted to show the coach and show the other players on the team that he is a good player," Hagman said. "I think that he did a pretty good job."

Nik Antropov, Pavel Kubina and Alexei Ponikarovsky also scored for the Maple Leafs (6-5-4), who outshot their opponent for the 11th straight game.

Robert Lang, Tomas Plekanec and Saku Koivu had Montreal's goals.

The Habs (8-2-2) were playing for the second straight night and weren't able to match the pace set by the speedy Leafs.

A scary play early in the game helped Toronto score first. Montreal forward Tom Kostopoulos slammed Mike Van Ryn into the end boards from behind and was ejected with a major for boarding.

Van Ryn lay on the ice for several minutes with a cut on his forehead and is expected to miss a month.

"It was a dirty hit," Leafs forward Matt Stajan said. "It's something that can't happen in the game. Luckily, we made them pay."

The incident left Kostopoulos visibly shaken. He planned to give Van Ryn a call to apologize.

"I was trying to get in there, get a hit and get the puck," Kostopoulos said. "Like I said, I didn't anticipate him turning and I couldn't stop myself. And I hope he's all right."

The Maple Leafs weren't able to get much going during the ensuing five-minute power play but Hagman converted the only good scoring opportunity they had. Grabovski made a nifty move to get around defenseman Andrei Markov before feeding Hagman at the side of the net for a goal at 8:12.

"He's playing well," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said of Grabovski. "Good for him."

The lead held until a wild second period that featured each team score three times.

Grabovski ripped a quick shot by former teammate Carey Price to make it 2-0 at 1:48 but was in the penalty box for goaltender interference when Lang scored three minutes later.

Plekanec's power-play goal at 9:59 tied it and drew a loud ovation from the large group of Habs fans that were among the 19,512 in attendance at Air Canada Centre.

Hagman and Koivu then traded quick goals before Antropov put the Leafs up 4-3 at 16:27. With Price out of position, Antropov took four whacks at the puck in a scrum before finally getting it past Habs defenseman Mike Komisarek.

That goal gave the Leafs a lead heading into the third period for just the fourth time in 15 games this season. They had no trouble holding on.

Toronto now heads out for a tour of Western Canada that includes stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. There was no better send-off than a win over the rival Canadiens.

"We really wanted that game," Stajan said. "That's how we've got to play every game, come out with an edge and really take it to them. Even when they came back there, we never gave up.
"You know, we're proving to everybody - we know in here that we can play with any team in this league. There's no doubt about it, that's one of the best teams in the league."

Notes: Former Leaf and World War II veteran Gaye Stewart read the poem "In Flanders Fields" before the game. ... Since the NHL lockout, each team has won 13 games in the series. The total number of goals in those games? Montreal 87, Toronto 87. ... The Habs scratched Roman Hamrlik, Mathieu Dandenault and Steve Begin. ... Jiri Tlusty replaced John Mitchell (shoulder) in Toronto's lineup. ... Jonas Frogren, Anton Stralman and Ryan Hollweg sat out for the Maple Leafs.

(AP)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Jersey In For Many Tough 'Weekes'

YOWZERS!

Martin Brodeur's assault on the NHL record book will be put on hold for a considerable amount of time.

Brodeur, shown above wincing after landing awkwardly on his left elbow while making a save, will have surgery to repair torn tendons in the bicep-elbow area, and will miss the next 3-to-4 months. ''This Thursday morning, Martin Brodeur will undergo surgery to repair the distal bicep in the left elbow," Devils president, CEO and general manager Lou Lamriello said in a statement.

Backup Kevin Weekes, who had his first start of the year yesterday in a 2-0 lopsided loss to Buffalo, becomes the new man between the pipes - at least until Lou Lamoriello pulls the trigger and acquires bonafide help in goal.

Maybe some Jaroslav Halak to New Jersey rumours can start now...and I'll get the fire going on them. Leave a comment on that, let me know if you would deal Halak to New Jersey, and for what in return?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Habs Score 4 In Third To Comeback In 5-4 Win


The Montreal Canadiens were happy to mount a four-goal, third-period comeback, but quite upset to have been in that position in the first place.

Alexei Kovalev's second goal of the game with 4:41 left capped the rally that lifted the Canadiens to a 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

"The good thing about tonight is that we showed character and that we'll fight to the end," Kovalev said. "Our biggest problem so far this season is that when other teams skate and put pressure on us, we get out of our game."

Kovalev's close-in shot beat Yann Danis, a goalie making his first NHL start in nearly three years, and gave the Canadiens their third straight win.

"Obviously, losing a game when you're up 4-1 is never a good thing," Danis said. "They got a couple of lucky bounces and capitalized on them."

Danis, the Islanders' third-string goalie, could be in line for more action with regular backup Joey MacDonald because No. 1 netminder Rick DiPietro will be out four-to-six weeks following knee surgery on Friday.

The Canadiens got two goals and two assists from Tomas Plekanec and one from Long Island native Christopher Higgins. Carey Price made 27 saves.

Former Canadiens defenseman Mark Streit scored for the Islanders, along with Jon Sim, Bill Guerin and Frans Nielsen.

The Islanders are winless in six games (0-5-1) since a 4-3 overtime victory at Tampa Bay on Oct. 16. Danis, who spent time in the Canadiens organization, stopped 27 shots.

"The biggest thing was there were a lot of shortcuts," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "It wasn't because of anything they did differently. The loosening up in front of the net and the shot area, that shouldn't happen."

Montreal took a 1-0 lead 2:03 in when Kovalev took Plekanec's pass in the low slot and beat Danis with a quick wrist shot.

New York tied it at 3:47 on its first power play. Streit ripped a right point slap shot that beat a screened Price.

Streit found it a difficult to face his former team.

"I played a long time in Montreal," Streit said. "It's not easy the first time. I tried to do my job the best I could."

The Islanders took their first lead after a span of 317 minutes, 4 seconds of playing time over five games when Sim sent a slap shot from the top of the left circle between Price's pads at 12:27 that made it 2-1. New York hadn't been ahead in a game since Oct. 16 when the Islanders beat Tampa Bay in overtime.

New York capitalized on another power play early in the second period to grab a 3-1 lead when Guerin scored on a tip-in.

Nielsen made it 4-1 on an in-close wrist shot that hit the top of the net at 16:43.
Plekanec scored twice in a 2:07 span to close the gap to 4-3 in the third period. His first goal came at 7:48 on a rebound, and his second, at 9:55 was scored with a quick wrist shot.
Danis was not happy with Plekanec's first goal.

"It just bounced off my glove," Danis said. "It's one I should have had."

Higgins tied it at 14:06.

"We played one period, and we won," Higgins said. "I wish the effort was more consistent for 60 minutes."

Streit said the Islanders didn't play at all in the final 20 minutes.

"For two periods, we really played well," Streit said. "Then we didn't skate anymore. We just waited. We gave them space and time. We didn't forecheck, we didn't backcheck. We just watched."

Notes: The Islanders debuted their third jerseys, which look like the first uniform the team wore back in the early 1970s. One difference is that the stick in the logo has four stripes instead of the usual three, to signify each of New York's Stanley Cup championships. ... Price had allowed only 13 goals in his first seven games for a goals-against average of 1.91.


NHL.com