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» 2011 » February

  • Game 61: Habs/Flames

    Today’s game against the Flames is important for many obvious reasons. The Canadiens have 69 points and are three points clear of the New York Rangers for the East’s sixth seed. The Canadiens are also four points behind Boston for first place in the Northeast Division. Keeping pace in the East has been extremely difficult for the Habs due to injuries to key players. It is crazy that a novelty game such as today’s Outdoor Classic could have such serious repercussions in the standings. It is true for both teams. Calgary sits tenuously in 9th place and should be very hungry to continue their recent hot streak.

    Montreal should have Hal Gill and Michael Cammilleri back in the lineup which will at the very least bolster the depth of the lineup which was tested over the course of the past few games. Paul Mara is also expected to make his Canadiens “re-debut” today. It will be interesting to see to what degree any of the players being re-insterted can be effective.

    To win in this type of atmosphere you really need to cut down on mistakes and odd-man rushes. All of the players will be battling the elements – and so I expect the Canadiens to play a very conservative style. Given the flux of the defensive corps, you can guess that Martin will be employing a very simple system of clearing the puck at the first opportunity and worrying about offense later.

    I hope everyone is warm inside watching this one. The puck drops just after 6PM EST.

    Go Habs Go!!

  • Game 60: Habs/Oilers

    Paul Mara was traded yesterday from the Anaheim Ducks back to his former Montreal Canadiens for a 5th round draft choice in the 2012 draft. As is normally the case – fans from the Habs internet universe are jumping off of metaphorical cliffs in an attempt to express their anger over bringing back a guy who was regularly a healthy scratch during his time here. I would caution against this for a few reasons.

    First, in his initial stint with the Habs Mara faced some pretty serious injury issues. After playing in a stretch of games early, Mara was hurt and by the time he returned to the lineup he was the odd man out.

    Secondly, though Mara has been scratched recently with the Ducks, he has been a fairly effective defender on a team that has faced its share of struggles on defense even though they have had a good season overall. Most importantly, Mara’s 6’4″ frame will add badly needed muscle to our second penalty kill unit which of late has been comprised of Yannik Weber, Alex Picard and James Wisniewski.

    Personally, I like that Gauthier has made this deal – in that he added a familiar face that can plug a hole on defense without losing much. Mara’s contract is negligible in terms of cap space and Gauthier remains able to add an offensive piece should he decide to do so. I’m not saying that Mara solves our issues – because we still suffer from 4 regular defensemen out of our lineup, but at very least we have some flexibility to play the players that are playing well as opposed to simply having enough bodies to ice a team.

    I would love to see a defensive lineup of:

    Hamr-PK

    Nash-Wiz

    Mara-Weber

    The Habs would have a good balance of size and skill on each pairing, as well as left and right shots on each duo. We’ll see what happens because Martin is more likely to go with Picard who has experience over Nash. Personally, I’d like to see more of 47 before he gets sent back to Hamilton.

    Go Habs Go!!!