Friday, December 7, 2007

Back on Track?

Not yet. The Canadiens always beat the Bruins. That was their fourth time beating them already this year, and seventh in a row going back to last season.

Chris Higgins is producing, that was his third straight game with a goal.

Carey Price did what he needed to do to pick up the win with 24 saves.

The Habs are better on the road then they are at home. Maybe it's the forced camaraderie, or the lack of insane fans recognizing you everywhere you go. It could be that the pressure feels a lot less intense when they're not under the bright lights of the Centre Bell.

I like they way they looked without Michael Ryder and Patrice Brisebois in the lineup. It's a lot more fun to see a guy in that position who's hungry for a spot and playing hard every shift. Granted, it's hard to accurately gauge the Habs against a Bruins team playing its third game in four nights.

Ryan O'Byrne had two assists and a very solid defensive game. He's on pace for about 110 points if he plays the rest of this year's games. Not gonna happen. However, the signs are encouraging. The key thing will be finding consistency and not letting the pressure get to him.
Easier said than done. He seems like a good kid, and there's always room for an Irishman on my blueline.

I wonder when Jaroslav Halak gets his first start of the year. Habs are home to Carolina and Tampa Bay in their next two games, both are high-powered offenses. Halak was lights-out at home last year, not sure of the exact numbers, but he was either 7-0 or 7-1.

If the Habs can pick up three points in the next two games I will agree that they're back on track. For now, let's just hope they can get it going at home and Guy Carbonneau doesn't call any of his star players out for a little while.

The coach has a mean streak that sometimes manifests itself in tirades against his players and the media. The problem is that it may not always have the desired effect. When the fans are booing you at home, I think you'd rather feel like your coach is on your side than calling you out in public. Carbo called out Andrei Markov and said he wasn't injured. He called out Saku Koivu's leadership and he called out the goaltending. If the Habs beat Carolina tomorrow night, I will have to say that it worked. Sometimes a coaches tirade can help a team, and it's not like Carbo's a jerk. He loves the guys, but like the fans, gets very frustrated when they play far worse hockey then they're capable of.


Mark Recchi's gonna be on re-entry waivers in the next few days, meaning the Penguins pay half of his salary if anyone picks him up. If you're Bob Gainey, do you pick him up, presumably to fill the void left by Ryder's demise?

I wouldn't, but Pierre McGuire says it would be a good fit.

With Scott Niedermayer coming back to Anaheim, will Teemu Selanne be far behind? Speaking of Anaheim, what's going to happen with their salary cap situation? My understanding is that they need to free up some space, and if Selanne comes back it could get even more complicated. Mathieu Schneider could be the odd man out.

Could the Habs bring back one of the key components of their 1993 Stanley Cup run?

Probably not, but stay tuned....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A New, New Low

On the way to work today, an older guy stopped and told me it took a lot of balls to be wearing the Canadiens tuque I had on my head. I guess you can start calling me BBC (Big Balls Conor).

So the Habs lost to the Red Wings. They're the best team in the NHL (The Wings, not the Habs). If you expected them to win that game, then you're far too optimistic. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom do it all. Best line in the NHL. Niklas Lidstrom doesn't get beat. Get over it, Habs are in Beantown demain soir to take on the Bruins, who should be just what the doctor ordered for their struggles.

The Canadiens have called up Ryan O'Byrne and Maxim Lapierre to try and counteract the freefall they're currently experiencing. They've now lost 8 of their last 12 games. Hab Nation is in panic mode. The team is mentally weak right now, and is being pushed around all over the ice. Cristobal Huet is out for a while, Carey Price has looked weak on many recent goals. Jaroslav Halak is waiting in the wings but it's fairly clear that he's not the answer.

Should be good for O'Byrne to play with Roman Hamrlik, the same guy who took Dion Phaneuf under his wing during his time in Calgary.

Guy Carbonneau is pissed. He called out his goaltender last night after he called out Andrei Markov, who despite leading the league in All-Star votes for defencemen, has been in a freefall. You could draw a direct line between the Canadiens success and Andrei Markov's production. He's now a -10 for the year, looking more and more like Sheldon Souray, only without the point production and willingness to fight.

Saku Koivu has been almost inconsolable after the last two games. I'll get the microphone in his face, and he starts talking, but he's so quiet I can't even hear what he's saying until I listen to it afterwards. He is not impressed to be playing with Bryan Smolinski, who has no business on the first line, especially given his dismal play so far this year.

Michael Ryder is playing scared hockey and the fans are letting him know how they feel. He was booed often last night and wasn't available for comment after the game or after practice today. He needs a two-goal game to get going again as he's currently as low as I've ever seen him.

There is speculation that Saku Koivu could be on the move if things don't improve soon. Given his recent demanour, it wouldn't really surprise me. It must wear a little thin to keep losing and dealing with the media the way he has for the last 10 years or so. I'd love to see Saku Koivu hoist a Stanley Cup, but I'd much rather see it with a CH on his chest.

Time will tell, and things can only improve.