Saturday, January 19, 2008


Crosby's out. Ty Conklin actually let a few goals in last night. It's a good time to be facing the Penguins and if the Habs get points they'll extend their slim lead over the flightless birds.

Watch out for Malkin, he's amazing and seems to really get up for games in Montreal, at least from what I've seen so far this year.

The game's broadcast nationally on CBC but stick with Pierre and Yvon and keep it real.

Bon match!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Confidence & the Ks

Andrei Kostitsyn (K1) seems to have found his. I looked over at my buddy when the shootout started and said "I can't wait to see what the kid does with confidence," Sure enough, he looked completely calm and collected as he put the Thrashers on the brink before Saku Koivu and Cristobal Huet iced it. He also scored his second goal of the year candidate in the second period, splitting the Atlanta defence and roofing it on Kari Lehtonen on a sweet backhand. That line is really something else.

12 points for Kovalev-Plekanec-K1 over the 4 game road trip.

One thing that I've heard echoed by his teammates is that K1 makes highlight-reel plays in practice all the time, so they knew it was just a matter of time before he started doing it in game situations.

Sergei Kostitsyn (K2) smoked fellow rookie Tobias Enstrom into the boards really hard on two occasions. He doesn't have much in the size department but you can tell his time in the OHL added a physical element to his game. He has levelled a few guys over the last few games and continues to make smart plays. His defensive game has vastly improved during his time in the NHL as well.

The Thrashers seemed to be really pissed about something last night. Guillaume Latendresse was targeted a few times and I got the impression that K2 was a marked man at times.

Cristobal Huet wasn't the only guy to blame for the Thrashers tying it up on the turnover. Roman Hamrlik made a bad play as well. In a very awkward postgame interview on RDS, Huet took all the blame and seemed like he felt like shit about it. I get the impression that many Habs are hypersensitive about any line of questioning, fearing that their comments could be taken out of context and turned into a front page story in Le Journal.

I would like to see a bit more swagger and bravado from these guys. If they could bring the level of confidence they have on the road back to Bell Centre, there would be a lot of happy maniacs in the rafters.

The game also marked the first time this year the Habs have won a game in which they trailed after the first 20 minutes. I must say, I wasn't really concerned. Maybe I have more confidence in them. The first goal was the result of a phantom penalty on Francis Bouillon and a bad bounce going Atlanta's way. This year's edition of the Canadiens doesn't seem to let things like that stop them in their tracks as much as they used to.

Can't wait to see two of the hottest teams in the League square off on Saturday night. Sidney Crosby is a true pleasure to watch and Evgeni Malkin is no slouch either. Here's hoping the Ty Conklin's fairy tale run comes to an abrupt halt at the hands of K1, K2 and the confident Canadiens.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Habs in the Dirty South

It's always interesting to hear people's takes on what the Habs should do at any given time. Montrealers are generally very fickle about their team and any win or loss sets off a chain reaction of insanity. I've had the opportunity to host a few Hab-related shows on the Team 990 and among our learned listeners I have heard some gems.

"Trade Koivu."

"They need to trade Alex Kovalev."

"Tomas Plekanec isn't good enough for the second line."

"Fire Carbo and/or Gainey."

It's funny how your perspective changes when you start watching the Habs as a member of the media . I went from paying my hard-earned dollars to see about 10 to 15 games a year at the Bell Centre, getting wasted with my friends in the reds or in the Molson Ex Zone. I've been to pretty much every pivotal playoff home game in the last few years (there hasn't been that many). I'm more of a long view guy now than I have ever been. I believe in Bob Gainey and by extension, I believe in his guy, Guy Carbonneau.

Trading Saku Koivu, who is a greatly underappreciated asset here, who plays every game with a metal brace on each knee, the captain of this team, his national team and one of the pre-eminent leaders in ALL sports, equates to giving up on the season. You don't just yank the foundation of a team away.

Kovalev is the MVP of this team so far this year. He's not in a contract year. He's in the midst of the second best statistical season of his distinguished career. Trading this guy equates to giving up on your season.

If there is one guy the Habs can't afford to lose, it's Kovalev.

Can you imagine the effect of his loss on the number one Power Play in the NHL? A lot worse than losing Sheldon Souray, who owes Kovy a steak dinner for all the space he created for him during his record-setting 19 power play goal season last year.

Plekanec is looking more and more like a first line centre every game. He's on the penalty kill, the power play and kicking all kinds of ass at even strength. Given his history of being a stronger player statistically in the second half of the season, is it unreasonable to think Plekanec could put up 80 points this year?

Credit the Canadiens for their handling of Plekanec's development. He benefited enormously from his time in Hamilton and it's been a true pleasure to watch him develop. I remember his performance against the Carolina Hurricanes in the playoffs a few years back. He was arguably the Habs most complete forward during that series and he's a much better player now than he was back then.

I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the season and the years to come. If the harmonious dressing room continues without controversy and this team stays near the middle of the pack in the East, they could do some damage in the playoffs (unless they play the Devils).

I also maintain that Montreal would be a more attractive option for free agents if the team was winning and making the playoffs every year. Guys want to win. It's not just about the money. I hope.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Success & Stupid Questions

Another road win. The Canadiens have 15 this year.


Things got a bit hairy in the second period but Cristobal Huet held down the fort. Tomas Plekanec is the best two-way forward on this team. He had a great second half last year but struggled with linemates Alex Kovalev and Sergei Samsonov.

When Radek Bonk signed in Nashville during the offseason, Plekanec acted quickly and contacted Habs equipment manager Pierre Gervais about taking over his number 14 instead of the number 35 he had for the last two years.

The change has been evident as Plekanec's speed and vision have been on display all year and he, Andrei Kostitsyn and Kovalev have been without a doubt the Habs best line this year.

He has a good shot and a lightning quick release.

There was some debate among my friends and I following the game. They thought Kovalev should have passed the puck over to Plekanec in the hopes he would score into the empty net and register his first career hat trick. They said it was selfish Kovy on display and then Darren Dutchyshen of TSN backed them up by calling him out during Sportscentre.

I honestly Kovalev made the right play by keeping it. He would've risked a turnover and the Islanders tying the game if he hadn't. It would have been nice to see Plekanec get it but he didn't and instead, Kovalev scored his 20th goal of the year.

It's nice to have fans worrying about trivialities like this instead of who our next general manager and/or head coach and/or president is going to be. Here's blogmaster Mike Boone of with his learned and extremely well expressed thoughts on the fate of the Leafs.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Long Weekend's Over

Winter is back in Montreal. I'm happy, it means outdoor hockey. The City of Westmount is still working on the rink in my neck of the woods. It's a disgrace. I realize that winter just took a week off but something needs to be done about this. It was fun to go outside and not get hypothermia for a little while.

Back to business for me and for the Montreal Canadiens. They're in Long Island to take on one of the most boring teams in the NHL in the Islanders. Mike Comrie is pretty good, Bill Guerin and of course their best player, one Rick DiPietro.

He's one hell of a goalie and he's headed to Atlanta to represent his team at the All-Star Game at the end of this month. The Habs power play needs to respond after being effectively shut down by the Rangers on Saturday night. Alex Kovalev was shut down big-time and the Habs couldn't get anything going during two separate two-man advantages. Time to adjust. Let's make sure our coaches' special teams expertise continues to pay dividends. If Kovalev isn't getting it done, the Habs and their power play are in a world of trouble.

It's so much fun to watch the continuing implosion going on down the 401. The Leafs are terrible, getting worse, with no clear end in sight. Things can't get much worse but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping they do. People on the way out: John Ferguson Jr., maybe Paul Maurice, Mats Sundin....

Tonight's game is big for both teams is the ridiculously tight Eastern Conference, the Islanders trail the 5th place Habs by only 3 points.

When Mike Komisarek and Christopher Higgins go home, good things tend to happen for the Habs. There was a great article in the New York Times today about the young stars give it a read...

NY Times on 21 & 8

Enjoy the game.