I guess everyone’s back on the proverbial bandwagon. The Habs, winners on Saturday versus the lowly Maple Leafs, ending their 3-game losing skid by blanking Toronto 3-0. The Bruins, losers in back-to-back games (6-1, 4-2) against their Original 6 rival Detroit Red Wings made everyone in Montreal laugh like Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop.
(WARNING: Strong Language)
Thankfully, the Montreal Canadiens wagon has reinforced shocks. Following Wednesday night’s blood bath against the Bruins and Thursday night’s snooze fest versus the Islanders, the Habs needed a strong showing Saturday night against The Maple Leafs in front of the hometown faithful, or plunge into the St. Lawrence River, cradle and all.
Just like that, the Montreal Canadiens whipped the Maple Leafs like a giggling Homer J. Simpson chasing down a half-naked Uter in the locker-room during that ‘Simpsons’ Hockey episode.
The Canadiens and their fans are breathing a sigh of relief Monday morning. Worried solely about digging their cars from an icy, snow covered tomb (Current ‘Hot Topic’ on Twitter: #blamesubban). Alas, still keeping warm upon viewing the current Eastern Conference standings. As of today, Valentine’s Day (the holiest of all days) 2011, the Canadiens sit tied in 5th place with the Washington Capitals (Caps have 1-game in hand) and 1-point back of the Northeast division-leading Bruins.
After defeating the Habs back on December 10th, 2010, you couldn’t help but feel like the Red Wings owed the Canadiens, right? I mean, the Habs DID give Detroit a run for their money 2 months ago. The Red Wings HAVE been the most successful franchise over the last twenty years. Furthermore, the Red Wings WERE responsible for chasing Patrick Roy out of Montreal…even though that was over a decade and a half ago.
The point is, with so much bad luck befalling the Habs this year (injuries, horror stories involving team cohesion, PK Subban being to ‘cocky’ according to outside media officials, we call him ‘talented’ here), they needed a break from having their head in the noose. And, with the Red Wings playing the part of the Lone Ranger over the weekend, the Habs may have assured themselves some extra playing time come mid-April.
Meat and Potatoes (Mmmmmm):
It’s back to business for Le bleu, blanc et rouge. Valentine’s Day, pffffffffff, who cares when you’re hosting another divisional rival at the Centre Bell the following day, right? The Buffalo Sabres, coming off a Green Bay Packers/ Chicago Bears-like loss (7-6 F/OT) against the suddenly scorching New York Islanders team, will be looking to get back into the win column Tuesday.
The Sabres sit 10th place in the Conference, 4-points back of 8th place Carolina. This game will mark the 5th time these two teams lock horns this season with the Habs holding a 3-1 series lead. Buffalo won the last meeting, 2-1 F/OT in January.
Hopefully the Habs will give an update on the status of Max Pacioretty. The New Haven, Connecticut native was drilled hard into the boards by Maple Leafs defenceman, Luke Schenn during Saturday’s game. The injury has not been confirmed, but it looks like a left arm/hand injury, more details to follow.
Mathieu Darche is currently skating on the ice in Brossard. Taking some shots on Habs backup, Alex Auld. It has been confirmed that Darche, along with Mike Cammalleri, and MaxPac will participate in Monday’s practice. Hal Gill is skating alone which signifies he may miss some extended time.
So it’s Valentine’s Day, if you’re sans partner, I can’t help you. I’m pretty sure there’s a watering hole right around the corner where some person will give you all the attention you desire, at a nominal fee.
Guys, don’t get suckered in to all the hoopla, just show your woman you give a damn, cook her dinner, light some stupid candles, embrace her and make her feel special.
Girls, don’t put too much stock into this day, it’s Monday, it’s sh%#&y outside, the Habs aren’t playing and chances are, your man had to take public transportation to get to work today. Give him a break, know that he cares and just curl up together and tag-team that bottle of vino!
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!
Well, that was “entertaining”, right? Is that the right word? Combined 14 goals, 182 penalty minutes, a goalie fight (sort of). If you’re a Boston Bruins fan then of course it was, you dummy! Resurrecting The Beantown Brawlers, giving Mike Milbury that “funny feeling” from his cozy NESN booth (yes, I watched the 1st period on NESN, you want to talk about biased?), and most importantly, distancing themselves further from the Habs in the standings by winning one of those special “4-point” games.
For the bleu, blanc, et rouge, last night’s game was an eye-opener. Despite their resiliency, they’re unrelenting never-say-die attitude was admirable to watch, but simply not enough to surpass the B’s. With the win, Boston holds firm to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, leaving the Habs still searching for answers.
It wouldn’t be much of a rivalry if the Bruins didn’t win every once in awhile; Boston showed some serious intestinal and testicular fortitude in this game. Walloping the Habs with every chance they got, earning every goal, hitting every body, punching every face.
Was it pretty? Of course it wasn’t. It was downright nasty. At some points it looked less like a hockey game and more like an audition for Slapshot: The Broadway Musical. For some of our older fans watching Wednesday’s game, it certainly conjured up memories of O’Reilly, Jonathan, and Wensink going “Tasmanian Devil” on the NHL during the 70’s.
In my previous post, I had mentioned that the Canadiens would win Wednesday night’s tilt vs. the Bruins simply on the lack-of-success displayed by the Boston Bruins goaltenders against Montreal since, well, the beginning of time. Tim Thomas surrendering 6 goals (in 2 periods none the less) doesn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is Jacques Martin’s continued trust in Scott Gomez as a 20-22 minute a game centre. The trio of Eller-Gomez-Kostitsyn combined for –12 and only 5 shots. Gomez was blanked in the face-off circle and the Big Bad Bruins, with their towering size, completely dismantled the Habs’ defacto second line.
What to do now?
Wednesday night’s game proved once again that the Canadiens need a skilled, physical presence down the stretch. Ottawa Senators forward, Chris Neil comes to mind, seems unlikely he will be traded to a divisional rival. The Islanders Trent Hunter is another. Habs fans are screaming from atop the highest watchtower, “Where’s the Beef?”. Montreal Canadiens General Manager Pierre Gauthier will have to appease the fans soon, before this game becomes the focal point of the Habs’ unravelling in the 2011 season.
The Canadiens will return home to face the New York Islanders at the Bell Centre ce soir. The Islanders are working on goaltender #5 this season as they are going through netminders faster than Larry King goes through wives.
This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams this year with the Habs holding a 2-1 series lead. The Islanders were the victors during their last meeting on Boxing Day, 4-1 in Uniondale.
After surrendering 8 goals last night, it looks as if Big, Bald, Alex Auld will get the start for Les Canadiens in place of Carey Price. The Habs have called up Ryan White from Hamilton, looks as if Tom Pyatt will be the odd man out after getting his face split-open by Gregory Campbell.
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