montreal canadiens hockey – habs blog RSS

» 2010 » November

  • Game 16: Habs/Bruins

    First off: Ryan O’Byrne has been dealt to the Colorado Avalanche who have recently been struck with injuries to their defense corps. The return is Michael Bournival who currently plays in the QMJHL for the Shawinigan Cataractes. It’ll be a while before Bournival will be anywhere near the NHL, but he does serve as another boost to the Canadiens’ roster of prospects.

    O’Byrne will be remembered as a guy who never could take full advantage of the chances he was given at the NHL level with the Canadiens. To be sure, he has the potential to be a force. But we’ve all waited for him to step up – with no indication that he was ever going to be more than a 7th defenseman. The emergence of PK Subban, and to a smaller extent Alex Picard, spelled the end for O’B who despite his physical attributes was never capable of getting up to speed. That said, there is no question that given the opportunity to play games without the fear of being replaced after every mistake could be exactly what O’B needs. He’s going to get that opportunity in Colorado, and I wish him the best.

    Can you believe its already the 16th game of the season? Its gone by quick. Montreal has been up and down, and yet they find themselves in 3rd place heading into tonight’s rivalry game against the Bruins in Boston. Considering the two clubs I would normally warn of a tightly played game with a heavy lean towards defense – although Boston put up 5 goals in the third period of their game against the Penguins in Pittsburgh last evening. The Bruins were able to overcome a 4-2 deficit in the 3rd period to blow out the Pens. It may still be early in the season to be hoping for losses for our divisional rivals, but it is crazy to think that the Penguins could blow a 4-2 lead that badly in the 3rd period!

    What do you guys think about the O’B trade? Do you think this had anything to do with the “attempted” waive of Dustin Boyd? Is PG clearing cap space?

  • Game 15: Habs/Canucks

    I want to adress the team’s loss Saturday night to the Ottawa Senators. My reasoning is that up until only recently, all of the talk surrounding the Montreal Canadiens play in the first 10 games of the year centred around how well the team was playing while 5 on 5. This was significant because last year’s version of the club struggled so mightily. Rare were games in which the Habs managed to score more than 2 goals. Rare were nights in which the Canadiens managed to out-shoot their opponents. The reason for both of these deficiencies was that often the opposition dominated puck possession, using effective body-checking and neutral zone work to force the Canadiens into playing a dump-and-chase style which did not fit their little bodies and penchant for making one-too-many pretty passes.

    I bring this up because: didn’t that game Saturday night remind you of something?

    Granted, the Canadiens were playing their 2nd game in 48 hours. An “ambush” matchup against a rested Senator’s team after winning in Buffalo the evening before. Still, the Canadiens have been struggling of late and I can’t help but express my frustration with what I see as a few large issues with the club.

    One is that for all of his fancy skating, and creative play-making, Scott Gomez isn’t doing the things he needs to do to break his slump. While the media has focused mainly on Gionta’s troubles finding the back of the net, it would be irresponsible not to note that Gomez’ sole tally this year was just about the flukiest, lame duck goal he’ll ever score.  He’s currently only taking 1.5 shots per game, which has the effect of all but negating the seemingly hundreds that his line-mate Gionta puts up. Until the defense has to respect that Gomez might take a shot – they will always play him to pass, meaning only Gionta’s most perfect attempts will find the back of the net. Nothing will come easy – and that’s not what we’re going for when your team is near the bottom of the goals-per-game category.

    The second issue I have with the Canadiens is the lineup. Jacques Martin is known for his defensive system which is fine by me. What kills me is his seemingly-purposeful-ignorance of how to get offensive players scoring in the NHL. Let me break this down for my man Jacques: throwing every 4th liner you have at Gomez and Gionta will not do the trick. You messed up your best line in order to try to get them going, and while Kostitsyn did everything he could to score – damage was done to the Plex trio in the process. For now, the PhD line – Halpern with Pouliot and Darche seems to be golden (amazing what constant lines will do huh?). I can’t be the only one in the universe that thinks that playing an offensively gifted player like Lars Eller next to Gomez is a better fit than trying to make Maxime Lappiere a top 6 forward… can I?

    Of course Dustin Boyd will not get a shot. His play was bad enough in the previous few games to warrant being scratched and then waived by the team. Do I dare mention that his line-mate during the last game was also a minus-2 in 9 minutes of action – Maxime Lapierre? While Boyd finds himself on the verge of another club or the AHL, Lapierre this morning finds himself on the “top line”. Huh? Hasn’t the knock thus far on Eller been his defensive awareness? Lapierre has been utterly useless since the games stopped being against AHLers and Juniors.

    My suggestion: if Pouliot has found a new home on the PhD line, Jacques Martin had better find on his squad a player with enough skill and grit to effectively compliment the Gomez and Gionta line. If Lars Eller isn’t that player – shouldn’t he be in the AHL learning how to be that guy? Shouldn’t we be calling up Aaron Pulashaj or Max Pac – guys who are currently tearing up the AHL and could potentially provide the required skills? I love Maxime Lapierre in a bottom 6 role when he’s skating and being physical, but he’s done neither so far this year.

    Oh yeah, and the Canucks are in a 6 game winning streak.

    Puck drops at 7:30.