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Game 62: Habs/Flyers

  • Big weekend.

    The Flyers hold 2 games and 4 points in hand over the Habs and with the league best Sharks on the flip side of a back to back weekend – valuable points won’t be easy to come by.

    Can Halak maintain his excellent play? Can the Habs match the physical intensity of two tough teams?

12 Comments
  1. Needless to say, Halak will have to be stellar the next two games. Further, the Habs will have to keep converting their PP chances to have a chance against a team like San Jose.

    That said, as much as I’d like to see two victories this weekend, I would be happy with a split, just as long as they show up for both games.

  2. #2 PACTUM SERVA says:
    February 27, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Metropolit with the hat trick tonight LOL

  3. He just might.

  4. One thing that has impressed me lately is that Koivu seems to have got better at winning faceoffs. Last year at this time he seemed to loose a lot of faceoffs Carbonneau must have been working with all his centreman because our win percentage seems to be improving. Last night our centreman seemed to control the faceoff circle.

  5. Schneider has been complimenting this team so well..great acquisition !! Another 3 points for Kovy last night also…big difference when he wants to play…another well handled job Bob !!
    I’m a little embarassed though…I’m one of those fans, as probably were many of you, who, when we got Price, looked at Halak as expendable….good trade bait. The tables have certainly turned now huh?
    This team is fun to watch again…just keep plugging away and see if we can get 4th…can;t get any higher…so 4th is the goal.
    Anything else is the works Bob? This year…I think so.

  6. #6 Mats Naslund says:
    February 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    And that was a huge factor in being able to eventually win the game. I don’t have the stats for the face offs, but Montreal did win almost every face off down the stretch we were able to clear the zone off of draws (so Jaro didn’t have to play the puck), and between the four centers (plus Kovy and Higgins on a few) we were able to control the puck. The powerplay in overtime would have been drastically different had Philly won those draws. The guys never got deflated. they kept firing at the net, and eventually one found its way in. It was a great win for Montreal who desperately needed to continue grabbing two points. This team is not a playoff bubble team. When they play well they belong in the upper tier of NHL clubs.

    Going forward my biggest concern is Carey Price. Don’t get me wrong, if Jaro keeps playing this way he is absolutely the starter. If we could get Carey playing the same way, this team could be deadly. Maybe the competitor in Carey needs to be pushed. We saw it last season at the deadline, so hopefully if Carey gets another chance he plays well. Tonight would be an interesting time to try.. If we win, then we all of a sudden have two confident goalies going toward the playoffs. If we lose, it will be the result that everyone expects and we continue next game with Jaro who doesn’t have to face San Jose. Just a thought, because Jaro definitely deserves to keep playing.

    On to the deals… You really have to believe that Bob gainey is earning his paycheque these days. He is in a terrible position. If his club doesn’t win the Stanley Cup, everyone will think he has failed when in fact he has done nothing but make shrewd deals all year long. I for one do not doubt that whatever happens on the 4th, Montreal will be a better team going forward. Its all that has happened since Gainey took over.

    Lang- Everyone in Habsland was calling for Gainey to land Sundin over the past summer. There wasn’t a day that went by where Montreal wasn’t linked to Sundin, and yet- at a critical point in the off season Gainey said “enough”, and went out and acquired Robert Lang. All Lang did was become the teams leading scoring forward during the time before his injury.

    The Kids- Gainey has no issue calling up his draft picks and trade acquisitions to fill major holes in his roster. It is amazing how well the youth have responded. You look at a guy like Gregory Stewart who is now a fixture on the 4th line and wonder if there is no end to the well of talent in Hamilton? Sergei will be back with the team either for the payoffs this season or to start next year. At that point Gainey will potentially have 11 players under the age of 25 on a team that many believe to be a deep playoff threat. That is good news for the cap and great news for the future.

    Mathieu Schneider. When Gainey snagged Schneider for a 2nd rounder (and a conditional 3rd to 5th), he said “We were looking for a defenceman who could contribute offensively. Mathieu, is an experienced player with a lot of offensive upside, will bring depth to our core group of defencemen and will be an asset on our power play.” It turns out Gainey may have an enchanted crystal ball. In the 5 games since coming to Montreal, Schneider has scored 5 points, is logging huge minutes and has brought leadership to a defense corps which had lost its way. The group is back and the book is in: Schneider was an amazing pickup.

    Glen Metropolit- How funny many of the other message boards have been since noon yesterday when it was announced that Montreal had claimed Glen Metropolit off of waivers. A nation of complainers who call the team soft, and young and pine after the Flyers and Bruins of the league with gritty guys who can play both ways (should I mention that Metropolit’s last two teams are Boston and Philly?). Philadelphia waived Metropolit because they needed cap-space to add Briere back to the lineup. Their loss is our gain. You get what you see in Metropolit – he is a rugged, Canadian grinder with the ability to win face offs. He is a decent skater, and while many in Montreal were sad to see Begin leave the team, we found a guy in return who better suited our needs.

    My point in all of this (other than killing a Saturday morning with no games on!) is to say this about the man who will no doubt be damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t on March 4th: He’s done a fantastic job. He has taken 2nd round picks (hello Grabovski and Huet) and turned them into Lang and Schneider. While Lang is currently hurt, if he had continued to play he was on pace for 25 goals and over 50 points. Schneider has almost singlehandedly transformed our bottom feeding powerplay to the league’s best (over his 5 games here). Metropolit gives the team much needed depth at the center position. All of this and Gainey has parted with NONE of the promising youth that this organization is now built upon. If anything he has a glut of young talent waiting to get to the NHL level at both forward and defense. With those prospects, Gainey has all kinds of ammunition to make a deadline deal, but if there is one thing that I’ve come to realize with Gainey – its that he will only make the deal if he thinks it makes his team stronger. It is the kind of responsible management ANY franchise would be lucky to have. Whatever he decides to do at the deadline – I will support it.

  7. Matts. is 100% correct, many people damned Gainey last year for not making the right moves at the deadline,and for not getting enough for Huet, but in the long run you can see he made the right decisions for this team not only now but for the future of the organization. It is not that long ago that we had a GM that totally ruined the current team as well as the future of this team and it has taken us 10 years to overcome all those stupid moves. One also has to remember, that you have to have another GM willing to make a deal in order to actually make a trade. Montreal has always been known for building their team through the draft and being patient with its draft choices to let them develop. For Gainey to be any different would be a disappointment.

  8. As for Price, he seemed to be ready last spring for prime time especially when what Gainey was really doing was preparing him for this years run at the cup. Is it ironic right now that maybe in hind sight Halik was given more time to develop and now appears at least at the present time to be the better goalie. I still have confidence that Price will right the ship, however, I do not see him getting a starting assignment until Halak faulters or unless they think he is tired after to very hard fought wins this week. I guess we will know later tonight.

  9. Metropolit, gave us something else especially if we end up facing Philly in the first round, he gave us the inside track on the Philly team, the coaches theories and general knowledge that could come in handy come playoff time. He also gives us that extra factor of wanting to beat the team that did not want him.

  10. #10 Senet1 says:
    February 28, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I hope that Gainey can find another experience defenceman before the trading deadline, and maybe even a offensive centreman that fits the team and can take over in Langs position but if he can’t Metropolit at least gives us the depth that we needed.

  11. #11 Mats Naslund says:
    February 28, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    My vote definitely would have been for a Center a couple weeks ago, but if Plex keeps playing like he is now, that becomes less of a team need. Gainey has said that he is using these games to decide what his biggest team need is. Considering Plex has 12 points in his last 7 games Gainey may feel inclined to go after a guy like Kaberle or Morris to bolster the defense rather than the offense. The fact that we don’t have an offensive “superstar” on our team has driven the demand for a premier goal scorer, but the addition of another solid blueliner could make us a VERY difficult playoff team. Either way, I like the position we’re in: the pressure is off as far as the rest of the league is concerned. We’re not on anyone’s radar which is a nice chance from the beginning of the season.

  12. #12 Joseph says:
    February 28, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I don’t doubt Gainey’s ability. Most of my few criticisms of him/his actions have either been in jest or were the result of a thoughtless knee jerk reaction and that’s the truth.

    Coach Carbonneau’s abilities, on the other hand, have been the center of much speculation this season, and I certainly haven’t excluded myself from that speculation. Despite a recent three-game winning streak, we cannot ignore the fact that the wheels completely fell off of this team for such a long stretch of time that it put the club in peril with regard to missing the playoffs altogether. Team morale and therefore team motivation was in the toilet and one could hardly detect a pulse. When this sort of thing happens, it’s almost guaranteed that it’s a result of poor coaching. Perhaps he is a young coach yet, and perhaps he needs to learn from his mistakes, but some of the moves he made during the team’s darkest days this season were more of desperation than than were strategy.

    So, who turned it around? Carbonnueau? No. As has been mentioned by others several times now, Halak has played the role of savior over ther past five or so games. And as has been mentioned, Halak’s solid play has revived confidence in the offensive attack, which leads to the powerplays which Gainey’s recent offensive-defensive acquisition can contribute to. But the negatives are still there. The defense continues to be, well, horrible more often than not, the turnovers persist all over the ice, and the undisciplined pentalites aren’t going away. Coach Carbonneau needs to find a way to right the defensive ship soon or it’ll be doom and gloom all over again as soon as Halak, or Price, has an off day.

    And while it can certainly be pointed out that the defense is hurting, this fact doesn’t excuse the nature of the defensive collapses, which again, are largely mindless turnovers, stupid penalties, and some strange (and unsuccessful) version of the trap which is being executed for a period and a half.

    Much work yet to be done.

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