montreal canadiens hockey – habs blog RSS

Canadiens Season on the Line

  • The Canadiens host game 6 tonight at home against Carolina after falling down 3 games to 2 in the best of 7 series. A loss tonight will end the Canadiens 2005-2006 NHL campaign which would be especially heartbreaking after taking a 2-0 series lead and giving hope to fans of at least a 2nd round birth.

    Are the Canadiens out of it? Absolutely not. Will it be easy? Absolutely not.

    The Canadiens have lost every game by one single goal. They are going to have to go that extra distance and become the team with that extra goal rather than chasing it late in the game. Have the Canes shown their early season dominance? Not at all. The Habs at many times looked as good or better than the Canes and watching the series you don’t get the feeling the Canes are anything like the 2nd place seed and offensive powerhouse.

    That being said, the Habs have to execute a better game plan or they’ll be packing their bags tonight. After the outbursts in game 1 and 2 the Habs offence has been rather sad scoring only 4 goals in 3 games. They have not been able to beat Cam Ward consistently. If the Canes didn’t start Gerber in game 1 and 2 would the Habs still be in this series?

    The powerplay must improve. If they cannot take advantage of the extra man and be able to score they won’t win. They can barely beat Cam Ward 5 on 5 and the powerplay was absolutely pathetic last game. Carolina on the other hand could not beat Huet either other than with 2 PP markers through thick and heavy screens which he had almost no chance on. Learn something from that maybe and start crashing the net and causing traffic. No more fancy Mike Ribeiro dangles and weak dump in’s when no one is getting into the corners to win those pucks back.

    Refereeing has and may again be a factor in this series. No one wants to see the series end on some garbage penalty call or a missed call. There’s been enough negative attention surrounding the referees already. If the Canadiens fall at home due to some ‘iffy’ calls it could get ugly.

    The story will likely be the same. Huet and Ward being the main guys for their team. Whoever wants it more is going to win tonight. Do you think Rod Brind’Amour wants it a little more than Mike Ribeiro? Our heart and soul guys like Souray, Rivet, Ryder are going to have to want it more and play for their lives. This is the type of game where Saku Koivu is most missed.

    Of course the decisive factor could be Alex Kovalev. History shows when it’s on the line he shows up and makes the difference, the Habs will need some of that tonight.

    A win tonight and it’s all down to one game.

    Before the playoffs started anyone would have taken that situation against mighty Carolina.

    GO HABS.

33 Comments
  1. #1 nilan says:
    May 2, 2006 at 12:26 pm

    Classy as always, Habsblog. Huet has given this team a chance every night thus far. If Habs can get some offence rolling, we’ll see a game 7. GO HABS!

  2. #2 marcintouch says:
    May 2, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    I agree. Ward isn’t Patrick Roy or Ken Dryden, he can be beaten, if the Habs try to beat him.

    My worry is that we simply don’t have the depth to trick Carolina’s forecheck. We keep trying to enter the offensive zone in exactly the same way, and about seven times out of ten, we don’t even come close to goal. The Hurricanes are starting to know that, and they’re exploiting it. They know where we’re going and what we’re going to try to do.

    They’re not even really man-marking, because the only one worth marking is Kovalev, and either he will laugh at your feeble attempt and score, or he’ll shut himself down, saving you thr trouble.

    On most of our rushes, the puck bounces off someone or is poached, and the Hurricanes are away. Huet has been stopping them, but at some point, a Hab has to stay near the front of the net and get a rebound, except that with our luck, Markov will finally shoot and knock Ryder’s fool clean head off.

    I’ll be there tonight. I’ll be the glum-looking one in section 110.

    Stay Habs Stay!
    Marcintouch

  3. #3 bauld says:
    May 2, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    It’s game 6. Neither team is going to fool the other with a surprise game plan. It’s all a matter of who wants it more and getting the breaks – which usually fall to the team that works the hardest. GO HABS GO!! I’ll be cheering my ass off for ‘les boys’ from Denver.

    Also, stay out out the box. Carolina scored both goals on the pp last game. I wish we could play 5-5 the whole game, with only high-sticks and “scoring chances taken away by an infraction” being called … the way it used to be. The Habs and Canes could still be playing Game 5 overtime if Markov hadn’t been called for delay of game…

  4. #4 Joe says:
    May 2, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    With all due respect, Habs Blog, I don’t feel that Carolina has been all that mighty in these playoffs. In fact, I am fully confident that a determined Canadiens team – one that skates, hits, crashes the net, and FINISHES its chances – will win decidedly tonight. That’s a big ‘IF’ of course, as they’ve shown none of this in the past two games. But now they have nothing to lose, no reason to play if safe anymore. It’s time for firewagon hockey. Come out flying, throw everythgitn at Ward, from bodies to pucks to a combination of bodies and pucks, and see what happens.

    Will the Habs be the only Canadian club not to advance to the second round? It’s truly up to them.

  5. #5 kazmojo says:
    May 2, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    I agree. Canes haven’t been that good, except for maybe Ward. But even then, he rarely makes a sensational stop — just saves you expect a good goaltender to make. The Habs have been making the Canes look better than they are. And the refs haven’t helped much either, except for the last game, when they finally decided to shut down the Canes crashing-the-net antics and let Huet play.

  6. #6 ALEX THERIAULT says:
    May 2, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    You know what … the last three games our habbies have played … horrible
    i think that the team is to relaxed, ive said it befor and il say it again.. we need to fire some rubber at ward earley and often.. and if we beat him earley i think it will be easy win for the habs.. and i think that Ivanis should replace ribero for game 6!!!

  7. #7 ALEX THERIAULT says:
    May 2, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    You know what … the last three games our habbies have played … horrible
    i think that the team is to relaxed, ive said it befor and il say it again.. we need to fire some rubber at ward earley and often.. and if we beat him earley i think it will be easy win for the habs.. and i think that Ivanis should replace ribero for game 6!!!.. OUT

    habs win 4-1..

  8. #8 bauld says:
    May 2, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    With Koivu out, the Kovalev line is really the top line. They need to produce tonight … or at least play the majority of their shifts in the Canes end of the ice to set the tone.

  9. Extra Distance Habs Blog? You think a guy like Mike Ribeiro will go the extra distance? Please, we all know this series is over tonight or Thursday the latest. You guys give this team too much credit.
    No Grit and No Heart.

    I reserved tee-times for 3pm Saturday. I’m starting my first drive off Mike Ribeiro’s head.

  10. #10 Joe says:
    May 2, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    Go Habs Go! Go Habs Go! Go Habs Go! Go Habs Go! Go Habs Go! What are you made of? Go Habs Go! Go Habs Go! Go Habs Go! Do you really want to just bowel out to the Hurricanes now after all but dismantling them in Games 1 and 2? Go Habs Go! Go Habs Go! Go Habs Go! Go Habs Go! Go Habs Go!

  11. #11 marcintouch says:
    May 2, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    One thing’s for sure — all vestiges of the Vigneault-Therrien-Julien years will soon be swept away. Next year’s team will hopefully be remade in Carbonneau’s image, with maybe some room under the cap for an actual consistent goal scorer. I hear Patrik Elias is a free agent next year, and Lamoriello is notoriously stingy…

    Well, a man can dream, can’t he? I still don’t know why we didn’t move heaven and earth to get Teemu Selanne back when he and Koivu used to read each other’s minds at every international tournament. I remember the World Cup of Hickey a few years back. Top scorer? Selanne, with 10 goals and one assist. Second? Koivu, with 10 assists and a goal.

    Message, Spock?
    Marcintouch

  12. #12 marcintouch says:
    May 2, 2006 at 3:30 pm

    World Cup of Hickey. Sigh.

  13. #13 marcintouch says:
    May 2, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    “If I can score in this game, I think what I did in the first five games will be forgotten,” said Ribeiro, who has two assists in the series. “That’s how I’m looking at it.”

    Say it with me, everyone: “NOT BLOODY LIKELY!”

    Je me souviens,
    Marcintouch

  14. #14 kazmojo says:
    May 2, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    Je vais souvenir — esp around contract time. Is Ribs’ contract up? I hope so. He was supposed to make us forget Perreault, but instead made us yearn for Perreault. Don’t know about Elias, but Selanne is a free agent next year — I’d think he’d like to finish up his career with Koivu. Habs need a right handed scoring winger — and Selanne fits the bill. Enough with the overabundance of lefties trying to switch to their forehand and losing opportunity after opportunity in the process.

  15. #15 riser8 says:
    May 2, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    This comment is for stevejur. It is possible that there are certain players on the Habs that do seem to lack heart and desire, but only a certain few. I dont know what series you have been watching but if you havent noticed the majority of this team has been working hard with little or no results in the last three games. Hopefully they will get a positive result with a full effort tonight and then move onto Carolina where anything is possible in a game seven. If they dont win it certainly isnt a surprise as they were not expected to beat the no. 2 seed in the conference, having said that have a little faith in your team….I remember before the 2 game series against the Leafs you were predicting doom and gloom and we all know what happened. Good luck Habs!

  16. #16 4mGhost says:
    May 2, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    Selanne would be a great fit, PROVIDED Koivu is able to return to the team, to the game. THIS season is not over yet. The moment this season ends, we’ll discuss next season. GO HABS-FORCE GAME 7!

  17. #17 Max says:
    May 2, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    If the guys come out playing like they did in the two first games of the series, and they persist for the full game, the Canes won’t be able to handle them; they’ll break under the pressure and end up taking silly penalties for a change. Probably the most important factor is to play very disciplined hockey and stay out of the sin bin. If the Canes can’t go to their pp they won’t get to enjoy those bonus points that have won them important games in this series. And even if they don’t score on the pp, we are tiring out our D and taking ice time away from our offense. Bob is a bright guy and I am sure that he has been giving this message to the boys. Its up to them to strictly follow the plan.

    Good luck

  18. #18 Joe says:
    May 2, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    They’re not executing. They’re not finishing. Breaking sticks are breaking my heart.

  19. #19 habs61 says:
    May 2, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    Too little too late. They should have been driving the net in game three, rather than waiting for game six for a desperate flurry. It was quite obvious that Ward had built the confidence that he needed to put the Canes through, and the Habs were not going to break him. Once again far too many moves in the offensive zone trying to make the perfect play. What ever happened to shoot the puck, and drive the net? Gainey has work to do in the off season, too many passengers that did not live up to their capabilities. Ribiero, how many chances does he want? Once again we had them where we wanted them, and game three was the beginning of the end. Someone should have taken a two minute penalty, and sent a serious message rather than sit back and turn the other cheek.

  20. #20 jfk0202 says:
    May 2, 2006 at 10:04 pm

    yes there finished whos going golfing tommorw im sure not go canes go up 2 to 0 and then loseing the next 4 what a joke

  21. #21 Gumper says:
    May 2, 2006 at 10:04 pm

    … and it’s GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

    see you next year…

  22. #22 joshtm says:
    May 2, 2006 at 10:42 pm

    I don’t know, it was disappointing hearing Jim Hughson and Harry Neale basically destroy it for us fans, hello, it’s not the Carolina Broadcasting Corporation. Maybe it is time one of the Quebec Conservatives complain loud and long about CBC’s shameful english language covereage, they sucked even more than Montreal did.

    Summer camp should be; how to shoot the puck, you know how to use that piece of wood you get paid to use…I guess for Kovalev its good bye to your big contract. Any bets Ribs is gone too maybe? Between Ribs and Kovalevs stupid penalties and Carolina’s power play winning goals, heck gee I wonder who it was that lost it for the Habs?

    No doubt though Kovalev came out flying you have to give him that but hey game three he was not in the game.

    Zednick is good but he is weak and even though he sets up there is no one on the team that can capitalize on his ability to grind. Who would have thought Zeds a grinder but that is all he has become and he is easily knocked over.

    Time for Montreal to match the big size on defense with stronger larger forwards maybe, Kovalev was supposed to be the answer, but he showed he can do it when the team is behind him, and when no one else tries hey who can blame Kovalev for giving up?

    Definitely Montreal needs a real coach, time for Gainey to find a real coach and get back to swinging those deals cause hey, for the little money Montreal spends, other NHL teams with smaller budgets seem to get better players, what gives?

    It was a good year, after Julien was let go. But Montreal needs a real coach, and real forwards, real stars, cause hey Koivu can’t always be there.

  23. #23 Asif says:
    May 2, 2006 at 11:36 pm

    Disappointed, but looking forward to seeing what Bob Gainey will do with this team. It’s comforting to see Guy Carbonneau, Doug Jarvis, Kirk Muller and Mr. Gainey around. These guys care about the organization as more than just a job. Or at least we all hope that is the case. GO HABS GO!

  24. The Canadiens tried hard but lost to better team. If you need some cheering up, read my post of May 2nd, “The Montreal Canadiens. An open letter to Stephen Harper” on my blog “Politics and the Law” at my abovementioned website.
    JUST WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR!

  25. #25 kazmojo says:
    May 3, 2006 at 1:17 am

    Joshtm: agree that Ribeiro needs to go, but too harsh on Kovalev and Zednik. Kovalev’s got hurt in game 2 (I think) in a knee-on-knee collision. Might have been the surgically repaired knee. He’s been slow, and worse, couldn’t make any of his dazzling moves to open ice. His wrap-around attempt in the third was just one too many corners to turn on a bum knee.

    And while Zednik was a regular season disappointment, he showed up to play in the playoffs — which is what really matters. Of course, being on a line with Habs playoff MVP Plekanec (what is it with him and the ‘Canes? Did they pass him over in the draft?) didn’t hurt.

    Next year:
    Higgins-Koivu-Selanne
    Kovalev-anyonebutRibs-Ryder
    Bulis-Plekanec-Zednik
    Begin-Bonk-Murray

    Two scoring lines, and two checking lines. They ought to do well.

  26. I feel like shit, I can’t believe it’s over. How the mighty have fallen. I don’t care how great Huet played, goalies who want to be considered “greats” don’t allow goals from 50 feet away. It should never ever happen even if a stick was in front of that shot. That Recchi goal was also weak, Cam Ward would have stoped it. I still think we need to go goalie shopping for next season or give Abby a shot.

    riser8 prediction confirmed, wish I was wrong. Let’s sign those 3 pieces to the puzzle July 1st (free agnecy) and get excited for next year. Thank God for the World Cup in June or this would be a long summer.

  27. #27 Joe says:
    May 3, 2006 at 4:11 am

    Well, I was wrong. I was foolish enough to believe that the Habs ad a win in them tonight. It wasn’t to be. They lost to a team that will now go on to lose to New Jersey, and that’s that.

    As for Huet, he was phenomenal 95% of the time, which proved not to be good enough. Three soft goals, and ones coming at the most inopportune times, handed this series to Carolina. What can you do? I still like him backstopping the Canadiens next season. I think he has the tools to be a beast in the playoffs next year.

    Ribeiro has absolutely no finish at all, and therefore should have absolutely no spot on the team next season. I’d certainly hang on to Kovalev, however. He was the leading scorer in this series, and he will be again in the future. This series loss certainly wasn’t his fault.

    I must say that I’m surprised at the Habs’ overall lack of effort in this game. They tried a bit harder than they did in Game 4, but they left quite a lot in the tank as well, in my opinion. 26 shots on goal is not the work of a desperate hockey club. It’s more the work of a hockey club hoping to get the series over with. And it is.

  28. #28 Joe says:
    May 3, 2006 at 4:16 am

    By the way, I’ve never seen one team miss so many opportunities to score–goal posts, fanned on shots, missed empty nets, broken sticks, not knowing where the puck is after yet another juicy Ward rebound, etc–in one game in all my years of watching hockey. I think that perhaps this was the most frustrating aspect of this series. The ‘what ifs’ we are left with at this series’ conclusion are far too many for any dedicated Habs fan to be expected to deal with.

  29. I agree with you Joe. Would have could haves ….BUT young team. perhaps the youngest in the league and will improve a great deal…..Gainey will make certain deletions on this team for sure. To all the Carolina fans you were lucky to have the refs, press the TV CBC( Any time you have Harry Neil, Don Cherry as a color commentators you can count on a very one sided opinion against the Habs) and a high stick…Oh Williams was sooo sorry hmmm joke of the year. But we took this team to the limit who were supposed to cream us…and they didn’t.To the point of sounding a lot like a totonto fans(god forbid) wait till next year:-)

  30. #30 Rob says:
    May 3, 2006 at 8:35 am

    Considering that the Habs lack talent and significant playoff experience, I thought the Canadiens played well (except for Ribeiro.) I am amazed that they were able to play with Carolina whom you have to give some respect to with the plethera of young talent that that team has (Staal, Williams, Erik Cole, Brind’Amour, Cullen, etc.) Cam Ward gives the Canes exactly the one element that this team was missing before the playoffs started to make a deep run in 2006. Carolina is a very good team, and the Canadiens almost matched them in every game of this series. It was not at all like the Habs-Canes series in 2002 where you felt like you were constantly waiting for the clock to strike midnight, the carriage to turn back into a pumpkin and Theo to start suddenly let in 5-8 goals each game. The TEAM together played well; they, unfortunately, came up against a better team.

    I am not trying to sound like a Toronto fan saying we should “hold our heads high” for our strong finish to the season, and I am not suggesting a Stanley Cup Parade down Ste. Catherines Street in May. But when you look at what has been accomplished with the Habs this year, it’s pretty remarkable. The coaching staff is as strong as it has been in decades. The goaltending both now (Huet, Aebischer) and in the future (Danis, Price) is strong, and no longer depends on one single player who could be a superstar on one night and a total flop on the next. The defense core is strong, but needs a true leader. Souray has to go back to the basics when he used to be the Canadiens strongest defender. They need to add a couple big forwards who can score. Ribeiro should be dealt to St. Louis for a third round draft pick as he has no place in the Canadiens’ future. For once, there appears to be a framework on which to build. The Habs are as close to being a true contender as they have been in a long while.

  31. #31 Rob says:
    May 3, 2006 at 9:02 am

    Oh. By the way, while everyone is feeling bitter, and all! Don’t forget to take time to e-mail the Carolina Broadcasting Corporation’s Hockey Night in Canada (hnic@cbc.ca) to thank them for their unbiased commentary on the Habs-Canes series particularly Neale, Cherry and MacLean. Also, boycott the sponsors of HNIC. Next year, they can figuire out which side their bread is buttered on.

  32. #32 kazmojo says:
    May 3, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Rob, I took d-brave’s advice and boycotted HNIC altogether. Watched every game on RDS.

Leave a Comment