3 straight losses, that’s the reality folks. The latest, a 4-3 shootout loss to the Eastern Conference cellar dwellers, the New York Islanders. The Canadiens have reached THAT part of the season where all reasoning goes out-the-window and the L’s, OTL’s and SOL’s* out-number the W’s. The Habs’ overachieving from the first part of the season is halted and the real nitty-gritty physical/mental games are just getting underway.
Last night’s game bored the crap out of me. So much so, I headed down to the old Mu Omicron Zeta Fraternity house on Ste. Catherine St., took part in some festive rituals (in other words, I drank a lot), pushed the snooze button on the 2nd period and returned to watch the 3rd period with one eye open.
After verbally berating my fraternity brother Chris “Boxer” Gravel’s television on the 2nd floor of the MOZ house following the shootout loss, I, along with many Montreal Canadiens fans realized that in order to survive the last stanza of the 2010-2011 season, changes must be made.
To quote Jack Nicholson in Batman… you know what, just watch the clip below; you’ll understand what I’m trying to say:
Lars Eller needs to be sent down to Hamilton, nothing personal on the guy, but when you’re playing with Gomez and Kostitsyn and you’re only handed a little over 11 minutes of ice time and no PP time, well, I don’t need to tell you, the writing’s on the wall. Even Ryan White had more ice time than his Danish counterpart!
Gomez and Kostitsyn, ughhhhhhhh, what more can I say? Along with Eller they were a combined –3 with only 3 shots on goal. Out of 37 shots total. Oh yeah, by the way, they started the damn game after that abortion of a performance against the Bruins Wednesday night!
We all understand that the Habs are trying to showcase AK’s talents (or whatever) for the 29 other General Managers in the league. Believe me, they’ll find a taker. As I stare into my crystal ball I can’t help but visualize Sergei’s older brother turning into a mega-superstar in a new area code.
There has to be a bag of pucks out there with the Habs’ name on it in exchange for Scott Gomez’s hefty contract. There just has to!
James Wisniewski has not fully recovered from the flu. I credit his offensive prowess since his return (other than his open net gaffe in the 2nd period), but he has become a detriment in his own zone. He finished last night’s game with a –1, with some ugly giveaways. With Gill out of the lineup and Picard logging some 15 minutes, an upgrade at defense is likely via trade.
Jacques Martin looked as squeamish and uncomfortable behind the Canadiens bench last night as a certain Egyptian dictator giving a speech to an angry, hostile crowd. His continued trust in this defacto 2nd line is making many fans s*%t pancakes! If a change is needed for the troops then a tactical change is needed from the coaching staff. Martin needs to be more flexible with his “System”. The league figured out the Habs’ game plan, just as they did with the Capitals following the first round of last year’s playoffs, when the #1 seeded team in the East was vanquished by the eighth-place Habs.
* (Losses, Overtime-Losses, Shootout-Losses)
The Canadiens host Hogtown Saturday night at the Phone Booth (Bell Centre for those of you who didn’t get the joke). The greatest goalie in the world, ever, Carey Price is pretty much a 99.999% shot at starting on Saturday. The Price man is one game above .500 in his career record against the Maple Leafs, 6-5 with 1 shutout and a .919 save%.
Leave it to Toronto to crap on Joffrey Lupul’s Maple Leafs debut, they lost their last game 2-1 in Overtime, handing New Jersey Devils coach, Jacques Lemaire his 600th career win as an NHL head coach.
Puck drops at 7 PM!
The Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins will add another chapter to their storied rivalry as both teams renew hostilities ce soir at the TD BankNorth Gaa-den. Tonight’s game marks the 4th meeting between these two Northeast divisional teams this season with the Canadiens holding a 3-0 series lead going into tonight’s game.
Vezina trophy front-runner, Tim “The Toolman” Thomas is slated to start for the B’s. Thomas’ last outing vs. Les Canadiens was solid… for 58 minutes, until two soft goals sent both teams to the extra frame and Max Pacioretty sealed the deal (and a shove to Zdeno Chara) with his OT winner. Thomas’ comeback into the Bruins spotlight is nothing short of spectacular following what many feared to be, a career ending surgery at 36 years old to repair his hip. He has certainly earned his place atop the league as one of its elite netminders. Versus the Habs, not so much.
Thomas may a boast .945 save %, a sparkling 25-6-6 record with 7 shutouts this season; against the bleu, blanc, et rouge though, the numbers are not so flattering. Lifetime vs. Montreal, Thomas has a 8-14-4 record with an alarming 3.05 GAA and a .870 save % a far-cry from his squeaky clean numbers this season. Truth be told, has there ever been a goaltender in the Boston Bruins organization to have ever handled the Canadiens with relative ease? Other than Andy Moog (on a stacked Bruins team in the late-80’s early 90’s…hello…Cam Neely anyone?), I cannot, for the life of me, remember any Bruins goaltender having continued success against the Habs (including the playoffs) throughout his Bruins tenure. Not Dafoe (In the playoffs), not Raycroft (regular season and playoffs), not even the great Gerry Cheevers (The Lafleur goal comes to mind)!
As my good friend Anthony Di Domizio would say, “The Bruins goal crease is cursed, CURSED I tell you! The Bruins could have both goaltenders starting and they would still find a way to lose against the Habs.”
“The Chosen One” Carey Price will be Thomas’ rival tonight, Superman to his Lex Luther, Neo to his Agent Smith and so forth. Price has garnered a respectable 26-17-5 record this season and leads the NHL in wins. What’s more impressive is Price’s career record against the B’s. In 16 regular season games against Boston, #31’s record is an outstanding 12-2-2 with a .926 SV%. You have to love those numbers!
Speaking of numbers…The Canadiens are only two-points shy of surpassing the Bruins for the Northeast division lead and the #3 spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. The Habs have won 3 out of their last 5 games since the All-Star break and are 9-3-3 in 2011.
James Wisniewski should return to the Habs lineup tonight. The Wiz was battling the flu this past weekend. The Habs are 0-for-22 on the PP in their last 5 games and 3-for-10 on against the Bruins this year. The Habs would love to have #20 on the ice tonight to jump-start the Habs power play.
Tonight’s game will mark the 709th meeting between these two bitter rivals with the Habs holding a 342-257-103 lifetime record (Both regulation losses and Overtime/Shootout losses are lumped together).
I will provide highlights of tonight’s game via my tweeter-feed @JohnnyBertolo
Enjoy the game!