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All Quiet In Habs Land

August 9th 2010 03:18
It's been a pretty summer in Montreal this year. Much of it has to do with a tight salary cap which doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room for general managers around the league. The Canadiens had to ship playoff hero Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis to make sure that they would ave enough money to resign centerman Tomas Plekanec. Veterans Metropolit, Moore and Mara have been let go in favor of younger, cheaper options while RFA Carey Price has yet to sign a new deal.

And that is the crux of the matter right there. Until Price signs, there will be nothing of note in Habs land. Sure, 2010 draftee Louis Leblanc has been burning up development camp but there's no sense hyping another francophone player only to be left severely disappointed when he doesn't meet expectations (see Guillaume Latendresse).

In other news, Benoit Brunet has been dismissed from his position as color man to the joy of francophone RDS viewers everywhere. Hopefully, his replacement won't be worse – though I honestly don't see how you can get any worse than Brunet.

That's it for this month. See you in a couple of months or so.

Summer Update

June 11th 2010 21:21
Hey y'all... I haven't written on here in forever and with the World Cup going through all this month... this blog will be pretty quiet... See you on July 1st on Free Agency Day!!

Stanley Cup, NHL Playoffs

In the week following the Olympics, the Montreal Canadiens were the hottest team in NHL, riding a five-game winning streak and finally looking like a well-rounded squad. Fast-forward two months later and the Habs - who looked poised to overtake the Senators' spot in the divisional rankings back in late February - are stumbling into the playoffs in eighth place after a dismal last week in which they went 1-1-2, clinching their playoffs spot in the last game of the season - an overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before that week, the Canadiens were sitting pretty in sixth place, a date with the Buffalo Sabres looking more and more likely. Now, they'll face the powerhouse of the East, the Washington Capitals.

So, for the second consecutive year, the Habs will face the number one team of the East. There is no question that this year's edition of the Canadiens is much better than the one who were swept in four games by the Boston Bruins last year. However, more questions arise as the playoffs are set to begin.

First, there is no doubt that Jaroslav Halak will be given the nod to start in goal but last week's average performance which came after he posted back-to-back shutouts two weeks ago has people wondering if the young netminder is showing signs of fatigue – an aspect of the game that was crucially neglected two years ago when Carey Price offered a subpar performance in the second round against the Philadelphia Flyers. Of course, Jacques Martin can't start a cold Price to begin the playoffs but if Halak were to falter in the first couple of games, I hope that Martin won't be as stubborn as Gainey who refused to give Halak a start against the Bruins last year.

In defense, Ryan O'Byrne looks to be the odd man out but you have to wonder if he wouldn't be better than Jaroslav Spacek who doesn't play physical and can't shoot straight. There's also the Marc-André Bergeron factor to consider before the games begin. He diminutive blueliner is horrible defensively but has a rocket shot that's desperately needed on the powerplay.

In attack, the first two lines are set and hopefully Mike Cammalleri will find his scoring touch before the Habs find themselves down 3-0. Sergei Kostitsyn should be back on the third line unless Martin finds some insignificant reason to bench him again. There is no question that the team is better when the younger Kostitsyn plays, Martin just has to find a way to get him going instead of punishing him all the time. Finally, the fourth line's members will depend on whether Bergeron plays defense or offense. As previously mentioned, Bergeron is a mistake waiting to happened in his own zone (can you imagine him against Ovechkin?! Yikes!) but when put on the fourth line, he usually detracts his linemates from playing the relentless hockey they should be playing. I guess there will be a three-man rotation between Darche, Pyatt/Maxwell, and Bergeron if he plays offense.

Finally, there's been talk of Jacques Martin's system all year long but a system which is based on sitting on a lead will not work against Washington's deep offense. If Canadiens want to have any chance in this series, they'll have to take the game to the Caps and force their defense to commit turnovers. If they wait for the Capitals to come to them, they'll be easily dismantled, leaving Montreal to wonder where it all went wrong once again.

Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Tuuka Rask, Mathieu Darche
Darche scores Montreal's third goal

What happened to the Boston Bruins? Last season, they dominated the Eastern Conference thanks to hard work, sheer determination and great coaching. This year, the parts are the same but nothing's working. After winning the Vezina Trophy, Tim Thomas lost the number-one spot to Tuuka Rask while defenseman Zdeno Chara – winner of last season's Norris Trophy - is a mere shadow of himself. The Bruins' collective problems were even more evident against the Montreal Canadiens – another struggling team – on Tuesday.

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Be Back After The Olympics

February 23rd 2010 03:39
Hey all, I know things have been pretty quiet here but real life has been hectic for me. I wanted to update this site more often since January but now it looks like it'll have to wait until the Olympics are over... So, see ya then...

Site Update

December 25th 2009 07:08
Hey all, I know I've been pretty much absent from this site the past couple of months but don't fret, I'm trying to find a format that will go easier on my schedule. Due to the Olympics this year, the schedule is pretty compressed and instead of having two-three games a week as it was the norm the past couple seasons, now we have to deal with four - sometimes five - games a week and I can't write a recap for each and every single one of them without running over games (posting recaps from a game after two other games have already been played). So, this is just a heads up to say that I'm still here and should be back to full throttle by New Year's.

Happy Holidays!!!!

Montreal Canadiens, Habs, New York Islanders
Habs celebrate a goal

After stealing two games at the beginning of the season, the Montreal Canadiens embarked on a road trip to the West coast where they lost three in a row including a shameful display in Vancouver where the Canucks won 7-1 after losing their three previous games. The Canadiens came back to Montreal only to lose close-fought games against the surprising Colorado Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators. They finally ended their five-game losing streak with a shootout win against the Atlanta Thrashers. Finally, on Thursday, the team that kept losing games due to a lack of scoring finally exploded offensively when the New York Islanders came to town.

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Game 3 Review: Canadiens Fall To Flames

October 11th 2009 03:24
After stealing their first two games of the season thanks to superb goaltending, the Montreal Canadiens were brought back to Earth on the West coast where their best performance of the young season ended with a bitter 4-3 loss against the Calgary Flames. Both teams were looking to go 3-0 in this game and Jaroslav Halak was given the start for the Canadiens in order to rest Carey Price for the Habs' next game against Vancouver.

As the Canadiens stepped onto the Saddledome's ice, many observators expected a blowout for the Flames considering the way the Canadiens had played in their two previous games. Surprisingly, the Habs held their ground for most of the period, going as far as winning the opening twenty minutes by the score of 2-1. Fourth-liner Eric Nystrom opened the score for the Flames after poor coverage by Montreal's fourth line (Kyle Chipchura in particular) in the defensive zone. Then, the Habs scored twice in the span of 30 seconds at the end of the period to take the lead. Scott Gomez grabbed his first of the season off of a nice pass by Mike Cammalleri and Guillaume Latendresse finished a great forechecking play by the third line to score the visitors second of the game

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Brian Gionta, Montreal Canadiens, Habs
Gionta celebrating his game-winning goal

For the second time in as many games, the Montreal Canadiens escaped with an overtime win against division rivals. After Josh Gorges against the Leafs on Thursday, it was Brian Gionta who scored the winning goal against the Sabres on Saturday.

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Montreal Canadiens, Habs, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toskala
Canadiens win first game on the road

After a seemingly endless summer, NHL hockey is finally back. In the case of the Montreal Canadiens, the new season is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean with a new coach, new team, new approach. But Montreal weren't the only team to change direction during the summer. Down the 401, the Toronto Maple Leafs also went through some changes, getting bigger and tougher on the back-end by signing ex-Canadien Mike Komisarek and ex-Duck François Beauchemin.

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