Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2011 Montreal Canadiens. I could have easily said that on Thursday, but hey, I enjoy being patient from time-to-time as well. Other than a minor league deal involving the acquisition of goaltender Drew MacIntyre from the Atlanta Thrashers for defenceman Brett Festerling (the guy who was traded for Maxime Lapierre), the Habs stood pat.
Ironic that the only move Pierre Gauthier made during yesterday’s Trade Deadline involved the team the Habs are playing tonight. I wondered on my Twitter feed after the trade was announced whether Gauthier actually called Thrashers GM Rick Dudley, or simply threw a rock down the hall of Phillips Arena with a trade proposal tied to it?
Listen Habs fans, I understand you might be fuming at the sight of seeing Dustin Penner riding off to smoggy La-La-Land or Jason Arnott standing side-by-side with the Washington Monument, I really do. But seriously, what could the Habs do?
A team with all the drama, all the problems, maligned by injury and an unstable fan base is still afloat the Eastern Conference standings: Still in 6th place, if my memory serves me correctly. 19 games remaining with a plethora of opportunities to gain some traction before the real season commences in mid-April.
Let’s be serious for a second. When you first saw the fake Nick Kypreos account deliver this trade update via Twitter: “Penner to Habs for Tinordi and a 1st”, followed by the rest of the mainstream media running with this fake news item like a thief in the night (ESPN/CBC hockey analyst, Pierre Lebrun for one), you pooped your pants a little, right?
You gasped, felt slighted as if you were robbed? Am I right?!?!?! Your first reaction was “the Habs got hosed; they gave up too much”, blah, blah, blah.
Then the real trade surfaced, the Los Angeles Kings snagged Penner from the Edmonton Oilers, sending prospect defenceman Colten Teubert, a 1st round pick and a conditional pick for the big guy. You won’t admit it, but you saluted Pierre Gauthier for not shelving out Tinordi, Weber or Subban and an array of picks to acquire this player.
Honestly, was Dustin Penner, or Jason Arnott for that matter, really to be the Saviour of the 2011 season for the Habs? Was one of them the Rosetta Stone, the missing link that would propel the Habs to their 25th Stanley Cup this season? I don’t think so. Neither did Pierre Gauthier, who clearly estimated that they weren’t worth the risk.
So here we are, on the first day of March, the Canadiens setting up to play game #64 against the Atlanta Thrashers – Brent Sopel, Nigel Dawes and Drew MacIntyre’s former team, at Phillips Arena tonight.
The Habs, coming off a rather exciting win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, are looking to make it two wins in a row for the first time since the beginning of February.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender, Carey Price (28-21-6), who was absent with the flu during Montreal’s win on Saturday, will certainly start tonight barring any further bouts with illness or injury. Price’s counterpart, Chris Mason (8-8-3), is expected to start in place of the injured Ondrej Pavelec, who is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
The Thrashers are tied in 10th place, 4-points back of 8th place Carolina in the conference. Tonight’s game will be the third-of-four meetings between these two teams this season. The Habs have yet to defeat Atlanta this season, losing 3-0 back in November and dropping their first game of 2011 calendar, 4-3 F/OT at the Bell Centre back on January 2nd.
19 games and counting, check me…
It just didn’t work out for Ben Maxwell, huh? The kid who will always be remembered for being picked right before Milan Lucic (49th,50th) in the 2006 draft, is on his way to “A-Town”. Maxwell will have his opportunity to flex his stuff alongside Matty Ice, Roddy White, Michael Turner… er…moving on. Let’s be honest, no one had anything against the kid, he was decent, he just never got a shot. B-Max along with a 4th round draft pick (props to @HabsWatch for this gem of a stat: “For what it’s worth, #Habs have gone 0 for 20 in drafting 4th rounders (1993-2008) who managed to play 80+ career NHL games”.) So perfect, what do the Habs get in return, defenceman Brent Sopel and forward Nigel Dawes.
Sopel is +7 this year (1st amongst D-Men in ATL) and ranks 7th in the NHL in the blocked shots category with 130. It is expected that the Montreal Canadiens will annnounce the end of Jaroslav Spacek’s 2011 campaign. Spacek has not returned due to a lower body injury and the Habs management has been mum on his condition; a glaring indication via the recent acquisitions on the blue line (Mara via Anaheim, Sopel via Thrashers) in the last few days.
In Dawes the Habs receive some much needed sandpaper, granted, that sandpaper is getting shipped to Hamilton, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction. In 47 games with the Chicago Wolves the AHL, Dawes has 27 goals and 44 points.
Sopel will not be suiting up for the Canadiens tonight. He’s taking care of some family business back home in Chicago, but should be good to go come Saturday vs Carolina
At least we can all say that Pierre Gauthier is not snoozing behind the wheel of the Habs Express, like some people we know…
Still 3 days until trade deadline, check me…
The further west the Habs travel, the loader the groans get in Montreal. With Sunday’s Heritage Classic abortion of a game behind them, the Habs will look to avoid a 4th straight loss as they square off against the Mt. Rushmore of opponents, the Drago of opponents, the Vancouver Canucks. The action all goes down at 10:00 PM EST, so you may want to take a nap before dinnertime, because if the Habs put on a similar show like they did on Sunday, they will be napping like Apollo Creed in Rocky IV, permanently.
Who are you? And what have you done with the real Jacques Martin?
That’s right folks, after being abducted by Colombian dope peddlers 3 weeks ago, the real Jacques Martin has been found, alive and well and will resume his coaching duties Tuesday versus the Canucks. Upon his recovery, Martin stated that he had no recollection of the abduction but stressed “many mistakes” and “mental errors” on his part.
(Warning: Graphic Imagery and Strong Language)
Ok, Marvin wasn’t so lucky, but Martin is…
Martin’s impostor, Jean Martin, his cousin on his father’s side, twice removed, sent to sabotage the Canadiens on behalf of the Colombians in a bid to further the collective interests of the Toronto Maple Leafs Evil Empire is currently detained in a maximum security prison with no chance at a trial. The real Jacques Martin has decided to *gasp* split-up the dynamic duo of Scott Gomez and Andrei Kostitsyn. Why now Jacques? Oh yeah, the abduction thing…
The new lines are as follows: Gomez anchoring Gionta and Pacioretty; David Desharnais with Benoit Pouliot and Ryan White; the 4th line spectacular: Eller, Moen and Kostitsyn; followed by an intriguing top-6 line: Plekanec, Cammalleri and Halpern. Interesting to say the least, but the same result is predicted. Remember what happened the last time the Habs travelled to Vancouver?
Habs are mired in a scoring funk and it doesn’t bode well for the bleu, blanc et rouge going into Tuesday’s contest. Pierre Gauthier has the unenviable task of balancing this current roster of castaways and misfits; attempt to acquire a couple of more band aid solutions without sacrificing too much and hope upon his return to Montreal that his car isn’t pelted with eggs and batteries.
Movers and Shakers…
James Neal’s found a new home in Pittsburgh, which made everyone in Montreal collectively say, “WTF?!?!? That guy was available?” Penguins send Goligoski to Dallas in exchange for Neal and Matt Niskanen. Really? I truly wonder if the Habs pushed for James Neal, I truly do. Does Bob Gainey still have friends in Dallas? Did he call? Or did Geoff Molson sacrifice long distance service to pay for the Gomez contract? He is exactly what the Habs need, correct? Gee, a 6’2 gritty power forward with the balls to park his a$$ in front of the net. Nah, the Habs don’t need that. Troll out Kovalev! See if Buffalo wants a 3rd for Rivet? Come on! The Funhouse is open for business!
6 days until trade deadline, check me…
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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