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» 2006 » March

  • Penalties Burn Habs

    The Leafs managed to cling on to what little hope they have left by defeating the Canadiens last night 5-3 in a penalty riddled “game”.

    I’m not sure but I’d wager that during or after the Olympic Break there was a memo from the NHL’s Head of Officiating to all the referees making sure they “enforce” and call the game with strict attention to the ‘new’ rules right down the stretch run and into the playoffs. Trying to send a message and maintain the integrity of the new anti-obstruction rules is not a bad idea but when it turns into a game like yesterdays and like in Philly the night prior, it doesn’t work.

    Regardless if the Leafs or Habs won, there were several terrible penalties called on both teams. Penalty calls took over and turned the game into an ugly mess to watch. The Habs were far more undisciplined and the end result is what they deserved. Even the worst teams in the NHL have a chance to win if they play with the man-advantage the majority of the time.

    The beginning of the game almost felt like a playoff atmosphere until the penalty parade stole the show. It would have been great to put the hurt on the Leafs but the Canadiens are still having a succesful road trip. Fatigue looked like it caught up to the Canadiens and Cristobal Huet in particular. It may be a good time to start Yann Danis against Boston and let Huet relax for a couple days.

    Chris Higgins put up another goal and got a skate blade to the face for his efforts. Hopefully it’s nothing serious but it was a scary moment to see. Oh ya, no penalty on the cross check.

    They’re all big games this time of year but with Boston still banging on the door there is more on the line obviously. Will the Bruins and Habs have the same roster by the time the puck drops? The Trade Deadline is a little more than 24 hours away and the Eastern Conference is closer than ever. The top spots are up for grabs and the teams ranked 6th-12th all have legitimate chances to reach the post-season. One smart trade might make the extra difference for a team on the bubble.

    Whatever Montreal does or doesn’t do, if they don’t continue winning they’ll be criticized heavily. This team should get into the playoffs as is but who couldn’t use a little extra help? It’s up to Bob Gainey now.

  • Canadiens show Character
    What a game. The Canadiens and Flyers fought it out and after trailing by 2 goals on 2 occasions the Habs still managed to send it to an exciting extra frame and then a shoot out to earn a valuable point.

    The Canadiens dominated much of the early game but got into some costly penalty trouble. Cristobal Huet showed the first few chinks in his armor and allowed a few “Jose Style” goals for the first time this year. Now it’s not fair to jump on Huet who was just named Defensive Player of the Week in the NHL. Yes it wasn’t his best game, but he came back and saved the game several times allowing it to get to overtime, including a Mike Richards breakaway in the last 10 seconds. Huet looked more fatigued then anything.

    Can you blame him? Coming into the pressure cooker that is Montreal and basically leading a mixed up team to a strong playoff chance while having never been an NHL starter anywhere else. Not to mention returning from surgery and being thrown into a starting rotation and schedule he’s never experienced before. He’s only human.

    Since when do the Canadiens come back after being down 2 goals? 2 goals on the road, and twice. Everytime I thought “Ok, it’s over.” The Habs found a way back in. They’re playing with confidence and showing character when it counts.

    Huet got them into the shoot out and a potentially huge point for the Canadiens. In the shoot out his wheels fell off by the time he had to face the 3rd shooter. The Canadiens may have even stolen 2 points if they could have buried another shot on Robert Esche. I’m a big Michael Ryder fan, but at this point you have to realize he’s not a shoot out player much less the 3rd shooter. Ryder’s missed every shoot out chance he’s had. Ryder is more of a player that knows how to put himself in the right position and fires pucks at the net at any opportunity. When he skates in alone from center ice that strategy doesn’t seem to be the strongest. Maybe he has too much time to think and it usually results in whipping a puck over the net.

    Brian the loser Savage
    There seemed to be a lot of diving and BS penalties called as well. I’m not sure if it was a rookie official but there were lame penalties called on both teams. The game could have been decided on some bad calls. I loved Brian Savage’s face after being called for diving. That’s what you get Savage. It was pretty upsetting however to see Peter Forsberg pull a total dive. Savage is a loser, Forsberg is a competitor and it hurts to see a player of that calibre play that kind of game.

    You can’t be too impressed with the Flyers. I don’t know how they’ll expect to get anywhere with Robert Esche. The Flyers should have buried the Habs not once, but twice. If the Flyers meet a good team in the playoffs they’re done for. I’d pick them as a definite beatable team for a lower seed upset.

    The big game is tonight. The Canadiens are in Toronto to take on the hated Leafs. Tonight may very well be the game that buries the Leafs gets Pat Quinn fired. The Leafs trail the Habs by 8 points and a win tonight will make it 10. The Leafs losing tonight should cement their status as sellers as the trade deadline is only 48 hours away and they have plenty of roster problems to deal with and plenty of teams to catch.

    Start Huet or give him a rest? Is he fatigued or was it one bad game? You’d like to see Huet start and get the win but if he’s not ready you don’t want to give the Leafs any breathing room.

    It’s going to be an interesting week.