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Game 35: Habs/Jets

  • The Habs walked into Winnipeg to start the Jets’ home season and ruined the party.

    The Habs are on the verge of losing their season for good. They’ve played more games than anyone in the conference – and they have 12th place to show for it.

    Winnipeg leads us by two points. If the Canadiens are going to salvage this season they will need to do so tonight.

    Go Habs Go!!!

  1. Although I am not a quiter basically a never say die attitude. We have to serious figure out what we can do to make this team want to play hockey So who should be traded, if we are looking at improving this team in the long run, then to me you have to figure who will be here five years from now or should I say who do we want to still be here five years from now. So lets determine who we keep. Price, PK, Emelin, Diaz, Desharmais, Eller, Pacioretty, Leblanc. Then are are those who are here short term, Cole, White, Gorges, Plex and Markov. That leaves Cammy, Gionta, Gomez, AK, the fourth line, Gil, Camponi, Moen, Weber to be traded away.Some sooner than others. So who goes first. Gil to Philly, they need a defenseman and Gil is the perfect fit for the Flyers playoff run. Cammy is next he is doing absolutely nothing for us so I send him in a package to one of the western teams, anaheim, or LA, I would like to pry Bobby Ryan from Anaheim if possible. Next Gionta not becuase he is playing real bad but because he is marketable and again a package for big power forward or centerman. Gomez when he is healthy goes to Hamilton to free up his cap space if not for a trade for hopefully free agent signing next summer. Camponi would be gone to anyone who needs defense besides us.

  2. Well I think the first change is to get the team feeling positive about itself. I think we made a big mistake expecting 4 basically rookie defenceman carry the load on defence. I believe that although Emelin did not want to play in the minors he and Diaz should have been convinced that they should take some time to get used to the life style changes as well as the NHL game in the AHL. As usual injuries have played a major role in this teams defence again this year.

    Emelin and Diaz could have each been brought up for a few games and then sent back down to work on the aspects of their game that were needed. Even though these guys are a little older then still needed some seasoning. PK was hurt by the coach depending on him to play 25 minutes a game. He has formed some bad habits that he did not have last year. He also was taken away from Gill which was a major mistake. They complimented each other and PK was mentored by Gill. To me our defence lacks a veteran presence.

    Our forwards are a different problem. Bringing in Cole was a good move and gradually as he got use to his teammates he has done very well. 10 goals in his last 20 games has been about the only positive to our offense. Gionta if he could stay healthy has been steady, although for $5M I expect more. Cammy has been terrible and he has really lost his game. I do not see him getting it back in Montreal and needs to be traded. Plex also seems to be off in another world lately. That line was a Minus 9 in the Chicago game. So of our top five big salary players, only Cole is being productive, Gomez is of course non existent, Cammy is fighting his game and Gionta and Plex are just not producing to their abilities. Defensively, Cammy Plex and Gio are our worst forwards, making major mistakes in our zone that are our young defenceman are not capable of recognizing until it is too late causing the breakdowns in our end that result in 1-0 leads changing to 2-1 deficits in a matter of minutes like in the Chicago game. We were playing reasonably well after a slow start in that game until 21 seconds of brain dead moves by our forwards and our lack of defensive response to those mistakes.

    Coaching:
    I do not think the players have the confidence now that Cunnyworth can bring them out of this problem and lets face it Cummyworth was part of the problem under JM so his message is similar.

    Management: PG has not recognized our weaknesses and put all his hopes on Markov coming back and saving this team, which may not ever happen.

    Solutions:
    1. Fire PG so we start with a new GM January 1, 2012. It may have to be Gainey short term, but as much as many do not like Gainey he did bring this team out of our problems of 2003-2005 and drafted or traded for some good players, Price, Halak, PK, Cammy, Gionta, Gill Pacioretty etc. Good enought to take the team to the conference championship and then to semi finals. I do not think that Gainey wants the job permanenty so short term he could be the answer.

    2. Change the coaching. Bring Carbo back shorterm, Bring Patrick Roy in as a co Coach to see if he has what it takes. Again give them the idea that they have the team until the end of the year and depending on what they do will go a long way on whether they are rehired for next year.
    3. Trade I would package Cammy and Weber or a draft pick to see if we could get Bobby Ryan. If not then someone else that teams are trying to move and has some offensive upside.
    4. Gomez put on waivers close to the trading deadline so the option is there for another team to pick him up otherwise to Hamilton he goes. He is in the final stages of his career, and could be interested in coaching and his starting point could be playing in Hamilton and helpiing out the coaching staff. Bottom line free up his cap space.
    5. At this point if we could get something for Gill I would attempt that move at the trading deadline if we cannot turn the team around.
    6. Give Eller more responsibility offensively with some real offensive players and see what he does, if he does not respond then we know he is a third line center who has some upside but plays a good defensive roll for the team.
    7. Plex line needs a more defensive side to it, this line is getting too many goals scored against it and is not producing any goals.

    8 Team needs to become tougher and bigger, moving Cammy Gomez and even Gionta gives us the opportunity to make both of these things happen.

    Some would like to see the team tank, I for one think it is a mistake, if for no other reason than Carey Price. He has to see that this team is going to be competitive otherwise why would he want to resign with the team.

    Teams can be turned around with trades and FA signings, it does not take 5 years to build a team anymore. SO!

    More changes will need to be made over time but that is how I would start, that is my opinion, interested in other opinions as well.

  3. #3 Avatar37 says:
    December 24, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Senet – I don’t think now is the time to look for a rebuild. This team has major contract commitments until the end of 2013, when Gomez, Cammalleri, Gionta, Markov, Kaberle and Budaj all become free agents.

    Something needs to be done with Gomez, no question. I do not believe a major retooling needs to occur now. This group went to the ECF two years ago, and last year took the team that won the cup to a 7 game series while suffereing from significant injuries. The problem, though, is not with the corps group of players. I truly believe that, with some good coaching, and with the addition of TWO or THREE key players, this team could compete again.

    Who are these players? We are missing one defenseman who is tough and can fight. We had that in Mara, who was oddly not signed in favour of Campoli. Frankly, we should have kept Mara. Boston has McQuaid and Boychuck on defense, we desperately need someone like McQuaid. We have too much finesse talent, and not enough physical toughness and size. Gill is 6’7, but hardly tough. When he’s effective, he uses his size to block shots, block passing lanes, and get in the way of the other team, but he’s not in the same tough category as, say, Chara, who has size AND can fight. Our next biggest defenseman is Emelin, at 6’2, and have no idea if he can fight because he hasn’t dropped his gloves yet. After that, you have Gorges and Kaberle at 6’1, neither of whom could be described as physically punishing or tough, and after them it gets smaller. Not ONE single tough defenseman who can drop the gloves and protect Price. Remind me, why did we not sign Mara again? *facepalm*

    The other two forwards we are missing are: 1 power forward who can fight, and 1 heavyweight fighter. I’d originally suggested Hartnell at the beginning of the year as a power forward capable of fighting. He was slumping, and rumour had it Philly was in the market to trade him. Now, he’s 2nd on their team in points, 15 goals, 16 assists, and 30+ PMs. On our team, he’d be our top goal scorer and top point man, and 2nd behind PK for PMs. Except his PMs come from dropping the gloves, typically not from hooking/slashing/tripping penalties. We then need a top heavyweight fighter. Someone who is an answer to Thornton/Lucic on the Bruins, Konopka/Neil on the Sens, Orr/Brown on the Leafs, Shelley/Simonds/Hartnell on the Flyers, and Prust/Avery/Rupp on the Rangers.

    If we can do that, then I think this team will turn itself around without a major overhall. We have these guys for two more years after this one, I say it’s time to get the pieces we’re missing, have a good coach work with these guys, and see what happens. If, after the end of next year, things aren’t better, then it will be time to look at trading/rebuilding.

    For the record, I like Gainey. Gainey also brought us Laraque, so clearly Gainey understands the winning formula. I’m not sure how that formula got lost with JM and PG. It’s time to get back on the right track, and at least get the right pieces in place to see if we can win. If not, a year from now, we rebuild, trade away the pieces we have and replace them with other pieces that fit in the formula and see if we can build a winning team.

  4. Avatar37, I agree there is not need to tear down the team. I hope you did not think I was suggesting that, however, I would make a few trades. If in fact Anaheim want to get rid of Bobby Ryan then I would make that trade, we are getting a goal scorer in Ryan less cap space ($5,5M 3year contract) than Cammy and a bigger player who does not get pushed off the puck that easy. It would not be a straight up trade, so we would have to give up something. To me either Camponi or Weber would be the guys I would target. Camponi I am not sold on, maybe he is having trouble getting in the grove after his long layoff, maybe he will improve but right now he is killing us. Just the difference in Ryans salary would pay for Mara. Not sure where he is playing right now?

    I like the idea of another power foward, and I like the idea of a defenceman who is tougher and willing to drop the gloves when needed. Mara will do that. I like the idea of a heavy weight but he has to be able to play hockey I am not sold on a player who is strickly a fighter, my experience is if he can only play 4-5 minutes a game then he is a waste of space.

    I think Gainey may have his personal problems over now and his grieving for his daughter too. I think he has the ability to build a team. I know others do not agree, he is not one to panic and make bad moves. Not every move you make is going to work out. Gomez is an example, know one could no that he was on a major downside to his career when we traded for him. I am sure if he had to do it over again he would have done it differenty. I also think Carbo was a good teaching coach but lacked communication skills with his players. Whether he can improve in that area not sure but at least he would not have the media on him becuase he cannot speak french. Give him the rest of the year and see what he can do, if he is not successful then he knows he is not staying. That is how I see it anyway.

  5. #5 Avatar37 says:
    December 25, 2011 at 10:21 am

    I would like to know what your idea of an enforcer who can play hockey is. Thornton, in Boston, plays anywhere from 6 to 12 minutes a game. Does he meet your definition? He had 10 points and was a -9 in 2009-2010, last year was 20 points and +8. His previous career high had been 11 points in 2008-2009, prior to that he’d never cracked 10. You see, it’s easy to say you want a heavyweight who can play 20 minutes a game and score 40 points a year, I don’t know of any, do you? Of the top 11 PM leaders in the NHL, only 2 have 10 or more points, and those are Steve Ott and David Clarkson. I know Ott isn’t a heavyweight fighter, not sure about Clarkson, I know he can fight but not sure of his weight class. I do know many teams have contacted NJ interested in trading for Clarkson, though.

    I’d suggest leave the point scoring to the skilled players and get an effective heavyweight who can actually fight, rather than some middle of the road player who can’t go up against the Thorntons of the league. We already have Moen and White for that, both of whom I think are effective middleweights who can provide some hits and play a defensive role. Once you can create some room out there and provide protection for Price, Cammalleri, Gionta, Gomez, Eller, Subban, and all the other softer “skilled” players, I think you’ll find they’ll get their game back and more than make up the point production the enforcer isn’t providing.

  6. You are putting words in my mouth, I did not say he had to play 20 Minutes most of our current forwards to not play 20 minutes. He is not going to be a top six forward but he has to be able to play fourth or third line minutes without being a liability to the team. Thornton plays a regular shift, maybe 10 Minutes a game. He will score some point and play tought when needed. But he is not just sent out on the ice to fight. That is what I do not want is a guy who only fights and nothing else. There are a few heavyweights most do not have a Plus rating so that is not a problem for me as long as the penaties they take are reasonable. I hate a guy who jumps on the ice and takes an aggressor penalty. To me tht costs the team. He needs to wait for his change to get even. In fact I would be in favour of a 5 min major for players who do that. To me if you have bigger players on your team who do not get pushed around and are willing to drop the gloves when needed then you do not need an enforcer. Becuase we have so many small players on the team we seem to get pushed around more often which fosters the idea that we need an enforcer. However, if you trade cammy, gio then the only real small player left is Desharmais. Replace those guys with legit $5M players who have some size and you know longer need an enforcer. Get yourself a defenceman who will drop the gloves when his goalie gets run and again you do not need an enforcer. If players are going to be challenged then they don’t do those things, the fact that we have not challenged these guys means that they continue to do it because there are no repercussions. That is my opinion for what it is worth. Just make the team tougher through size and grit.

  7. #7 Avatar37 says:
    December 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I apologize, I did not mean to put words in your mouth, or to make it sound like you were saying something you weren’t, I am just simply trying to clarify what exactly you were meaning by what you were saying.

    Thornton plays 6 minutes to 12 minutes a game, less than 10 most of them, I was just trying to figure out if his average of less than 10 points a year would qualify him in your eyes as a player who can play hockey? Because Laraque has better career numbers than Thornton does, and I know you hated Laraque.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by you hate someone who takes an aggressor penalty, do you mean an instigator penalty? Because, for example, I remember one year in the playoffs when someone tried to pick a fight with Koivu, Souray went right after them to defend his captain and got an instigator penalty. If Lucic or any other player were to go after Price or Gionta or Camamlleri and you send your enforcer out to protect them and he picks up an instigator penalty in doing so, he’s doing his job. You can’t have it both ways.

    What about Iginla? He’s a bigger skilled player that can fight, however, do you really want him dropping his gloves ever two games to stick up for himself? Don’t you want your star player healthy and able to score rather than having a broken hand or wrist? Souray was a great example of that, a tough player with a hell of a shot. Did you really want him pummelling someone to protect a teammate and risk him injuring his wrist? Souray had to fight, though, due to a lack of anyone else who would.

    To understand what I’m saying, you need to understand that fundamentally, you have three categories of players.

    1)Skilled players, either skilled offensively or defensively who may or may not be able to be physical.

    2) Aggitators, players considered “pests” whose job is to get under the skilled players skin and distract them from their game to get them to play badly.

    3) Enforcers, whose job it is to protect the first category of players from everyone else who tries to distract and intimidate those guys from doing their job.

    I remember one play where Lucic went after one of our smaller forwards for crashing the net looking for a rebound, and suddenly there was Laraque, who grabbed Lucic and steered him over to the boards and basically told him if you want to push someone around, try me. Lucic skated away. That’s what an enforcer does, and since we fired Laraque, we no longer have that. As I’ve stated before, it’s no coincidence that two games after Laraque was fired, Gomez got into his first fight as a Hab.

    We have no one on the Habs roster that is feared that would act as a deterrent to the second category of player, and that is a void we need to fill. Until we do, our players will spend more time pushing and shoving protecting themselves and distracted rather than focusing on scoring and winning, and to me, an enforcer who can protect his teammates and allow them to focus on their job IS someone who plays hockey, regardless of how many points he may or may not get.

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