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Game 34: Habs/Sabres

  • It has been a frenzied few weeks of action in the NHL as the league tries to squeeze as many games as possible before the break for the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Every team has played too many games in a short period of time, but one has to wonder how this is affecting the Canadiens after watching them struggle to an OT loss in Atlanta on Saturday night. While the team earned a point, you couldn’t help but get the fealing that if Montreal had anything left in the tank they would have been able to beat a team that could only manage 3 shots on 6 powerplay attempts and had lost their previous 4 games. It was not a pretty way to hang onto 8th place.

    Jaroslav Halak will start tonight as the Habs play 2 of 3 at home before hitting the raod for 7 consecutive games to close out the year. The Habs should take advantage of the ‘friendly’ Bell Centre crowd while they still have the opportunity or we may not hold the final playoff position for very long as an extended road trip holds many opportunities for suffering.

    Here’s hoping the Canadiens can shake off the rust or whatever is holding them from using their skates.  Ryan Miller is not the type of keeper you can afford to take only a few shots on. My key to winning in this game is less than 5 PK opportunities and 10 shots per period. If Montreal can stay out of the box it will be beneficial to the number of shots they take. If they’re taking 10 shots per period, then they are holding possession of the puck and they likely aren’t letting Jaro get shelled. I’d like to make a wish for players who can skate and take the puck to the net which would result in scoring chances and powerplay opportunities – but baby steps…

  1. #1 habknot says:
    December 14, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Mats, I’m going to repeat most of a previous comment, because I’d like to hear your opinion:

    what could we offer for Scott Hartnell (Halak, Laraque and???)
    He would look fantastic in bleu blanc rouge (top six with size, heart, skill and toughness). Would Phillie consider a blockbuster (I hear they are disatisfied with Mike Richards)? I think Gomez going the other way would make some sense. Briere is a possibility as well, but I wouldn’t make that deal. I know salary figures in the equation.

    Long-term I think we have the D to compete, so no to Sheldon. Long term I see Markov back, Bergeron as winger/ppD, Pouliot as ???? (second line?), and O’B, D’Ags and Laraque as spot starters, injury protection.

  2. #2 Mats Naslund says:
    December 14, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Habknot, I agree with you that Scott Hartnell would be a fantastic player to target. He’s the type of guy that would get his team 50-70 points per season – while doing much of the heavy lifting on a team’s top line. The problem is – Philly needs more guys like him. I dont think he’s available. We also dont have anything that they want – outside of Jaro and possibly Subban. No team is interested in Laraque. He makes too much and provides too little. If Philly is interested in a deal it is to trade Briere and his contract. From my perspective I wouldn’t expect there are too many teams interested in Gomez. Dont forget that all he cost us was an underacheiving winger and a long shot prospect.

    I agree with your assessment of the D, although I think O’Byrne is far too strong to have as a spot starter. He has really taken another step and is playing some very confident hockey these days. I would rather see Bergeron used as a 4th liner and PP specialist.

  3. Mats,
    Do you put O’Byrne before Mara?
    Markov Hamrlik
    Gorges Gill
    Spacek ???
    (Bergeron on 4th line and 1st pp)

  4. #4 Mats Naslund says:
    December 15, 2009 at 11:48 am

    When Markov comes back this is how I see things shaking down (this is a huge “if” – in assuming everyone is healthy at the same time):

    Markov-Hamrlik 20-24 mins
    Spacek-Mara 17-20
    Gorges-Gill/O’Byrne 16-19

    Bergeron will be a 4th liner and used on the powerplay. More than anything I think that the group of Mara, Gorges, Gill and O’Byrne will benefit from less minutes on the ice. Our problem as it stands is that we have 5 healthy defensemen (Spacek is playing hurt). If we have a full 7 guys, we can afford to let bodies heal when they develop bumps and bruises. Gorges can handle mor minutes out of that group of four. O’B, Gill and Mara can play a similar style and could be moved in and out of the top 4 depending on their play. They can handle big minutes – but not for stretches of games.

    What I am also looking towards is a day when we can ice forward lines that look like:

    Plekanec – A Kostitsyn – Cammalleri
    Gomez – Gionta – S Kostitsyn/Pouliot
    Metropolit – Moen – Pacioretti
    Lapierre – Pyatt/Bergeron – Laraque/D’Ags/White

    Sergei and Pouliot are both NHL ready and could potentially push MaxPac or Moen to the 4th line. Lapierre has no business being with skill guys. He doesn’t have the skill to allow the 2nd line to be effective. When we get these guys healthy we’ll have two scoring lines and two energy checking lines which is optimal. Of course if Gainey is really looking to move Halak this picture could change substantially.

  5. I am not so sure abut the Pacioretti, to me he has moved his game up a notch this year and is improving and is becoming the big power forward that we expected Latendress would be. I agree Sergie appears to be ready to play top two lines as well, so it will be hard to say who should be on that Gomez line. The Pacman looked good on the PP screening the goalie the other night. That is something that it is hard to get the Europeans to do and in my opinion something we need more of on the PP.

  6. There is talk again out of Tampa that Vinny is on the block, to me this is one place we might be able to trade Gomez because his contact is much shorter than Vinny’s It might be worth a shot.

  7. as for Mara vs. Obyrne, at this moment I would rather have Mara on the ice at the end of the game than Obyrne. He has improved his play a lot but needs more time. Mara to me seems to go about his business not too flashy but stays at home and does his job. He does not make too many mistakes.

  8. #8 Mats Naslund says:
    December 16, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Senet1, I agree about Pacioretti. The reason I have him on the 3rd as opposed to 2nd is because of the chemistry that our 3rd line has together. He is learning a lot of good lessons by playing with Moen. I’d keep him in that spot with the hopes that he learns how to bang and play defense when his offense struggles. Eventually he will be a top 6 guy. Having Sergei on the second line with skilled guys puts him in the best position to suceed since his upside is his vision, passing ability and ability to get shots off quick. We’ve seen gim on checking lines in the past (mainly when Carbo was running the ship) and he struggled because while he is solid defensively he will never be a checking winger, and secondarily his linemates lacked the ability to cash in on his passes. When Gionta returns it will be interesting to see if that line can develop some chemistry as Lapierre is completely unreliable offensively unless his line is playing a simple cycle game from the corner to the back of the net. He doesn’t have the hands to recieve or make passes in traffic and doesn’t offer the same dynamic skillset that both Gionta and Gomez posses.

    As for Lecavalier – I do think the Habs are still interested in Lecavalier. Obviously much has changed since the deadline last season. We don’t have nearly the capspace and as such would need to unload serious salary to be able to fit him in. My guess is that it would cost the Canadiens less to land him however, now that Tampa is in a weakened bargaining position. Still, the problem lies in who you trade. I don’t see Tampa being interested in Gomez. Especially at this point in the season when he’s making $2M per goal. He has little trade value. We also know that Tampa will start with names like Cammalleri, Plekanec, Markov before any others. Lecavalier is still a big name and those dont come cheaply. Halak would be part of the deal presumably unless Gainey does a 180 and considers Price as available. Its an interesting situation to think about. I personally feel Gainey would explore other options before dealing with Lawton again – but Gainey has shocked me in many ways over the past couple seasons!

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