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» 2006 » March

  • Canadiens out of playoff position

    The Montreal Canadiens dropped another must win game against another weak team they needed to beat. A New York Islanders team composed of mainly minor league players. They did it at the most crucial time of the year when they are supposed to be showing that they belong in the post-season.
    The Canadiens were absent 95% of the game and with 5 minutes left they decided to show up and you don’t win NHL hockey games like that even against weak teams.

    Where is the leadership from Saku Koivu? Where is his example? Koivu hasn’t scored a goal in something like 60 consecutive periods. Koivu put it on the line for Finland at the Olympics and he’s been pretty much out of it since.

    Do the Canadiens even want to make the playoffs? That was probably the worst game of the whole season and at the time when winning is most crucial. We all know the team is not the same without Andrei Markov but these are professional athletes and the fact that missing 1 player can change the team so dramatically is very sad.

    Who wants it more? The Habs, the Thrashers or the Leafs? Judging by last night the Canadiens are excited for the golfing season to begin.

    The Maple Leafs took on Carolina who have dismantled the Canadiens each game they’ve played them this year. No way the weak Leafs with Tellqvist in nets are going to beat the mighty Canes right? Well the Leafs took a 2-0 lead on the Canes and even when they were being pummeled and the Canes climbed back and made it a tie game the Leafs found a way to win.

    The Thrashers were down 2 goals twice against the Boston Bruins on the road. They managed not only to tie it in the dying seconds and send it to overtime but also secure the extra point with a shoot out win.

    So let’s summarize.

    Leafs defeat one of the league’s best – 2 points.
    Thrashers come back from behind twice on the road – 2 points.
    Canadiens lose to Pittsburgh at home and the AHL Islanders – 0/4 points.

    Who wants it more?

    All frustrations aside, the Canadiens are only 1 point out and hold a game in hand. It’s not quite panic time yet but efforts like the one put forth against the Islanders sure don’t put a lot of confidence in the fans. It’s time to stop hoping for other teams to lose and for the chips to fall in their favor and start taking care of their own business and winning when they need to. 4 points would have the Canadiens tied for 6th, instead they are 9th.

    The next 2 games are obviously the most important of the year. The Canadiens let the Leafs back into the picture and nothing short of 2 wins will be good enough for the Canadiens. The Leafs are winning the Canadiens are struggling and the Canadiens record against the Leafs isn’t favorable. The worst case scenario is the Leafs will jump past the Habs by 1 point, the best case is a 7 point lead on the Leafs and perhaps passing Atlanta.

    These next 2 games can be considered a playoff series already in which the Canadiens hold a 2 game lead and home ice advantage. 2 wins will put the Leafs out but breaking even or losing both and it’s up for grabs.

  • Must Win Game #3: Islanders
    The Canadiens got the job done last night by defeating a very weak Washington Capitals team 4-2 in Washington. They didn’t make it easy on themselves and the game was incredibly painful to watch until a Michael Ryder goal kick started a scoring spree.

    Ryder’s goal ended his scoring drought and the Capitals wall fell shortly after allowing 3 goals in a a couple minutes. The Ryder goal will hopefully be a turning point for him and the team on their way into the playoffs. It seemed a weight was lifted off the team and they exploded immediately.

    The Habs have few goal scorers and Ryder has to be firing game to game to give them a chance on the scoreboard.

    Saku Koivu gave a "no coaches" speech/meeting at practice before the game and apparently it paid off.

    Mike Komisarek got his first National Hockey League goal. Over 100 games and only 1 goal. Maybe he was enrolled in the Craig Rivet school of offense for too long. It was nice to see and hopefully he can keep them coming. Komisarek also rose to the challenge of watching Alex Ovechkin closely while Andrei Markov was still not 100%.

    I was impressed with Todd Simpson‘s debut as a Canadien. Simpson had no problem dropping the gloves on his first or second shift after Ben Clymer tried taking off Garth Murray’s head. It’s nice to see a ‘tough’ defenceman willing to muck it up every time he’s on the ice. Sheldon Souray and Craig Rivet can’t take fighting penalties and Simpson could be of value somewhere down the road.

    Speaking of Garth Murray, this guy continues to impress. I’d wager he’d win a skating contest with anyone on the Canadiens and his fore-checking is fierce. He brings it every shift. He waited until the opportunity came and delivered a thunderous vengeful hit on Clymer and didn’t back down when 6’3″ Johnson came at him. Took a punch and shrugged it off in the box, came back and fore checked like an animal. I love that style of play compared to an underachieving floater like Marcel Hossa. All the Gainey critics should acknowledge when he makes smart moves.

    The win means the Canadiens didn’t lose ground but have not made much progress. They managed to gain a point on Tampa but Atlanta destroyed Buffalo and are still right behind the Habs.

    Every game is crucial now and a win tonight will all but mathematically eliminate the Islanders. The Thrashers, Devils and Leafs all in action tonight to mix up the pot even more. The Habs need 2 points, no less.