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Game 69: Habs/Pens

  • A few thoughts ahead of this afternoon’s matinee game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens.

    - For the second game in a row, the Canadiens play an opponent that should have fans excited – but won’t – as a result of dangerous, unpunished head-shots. Sidney Crosby, who’s former childhood love for the CH (one his father still admits to) used to make these matchups big time news in Montreal. Unfortunately he is nowhere near close to returning to the line-up. Crosby, who was leading the league in scoring when he was injured by an unnecessary “accidental” shot to his head has missed the last 25+ games with no expected date for return. The fact that Crosby still leads his team in scoring by 20 points after such a long absence gives you some kind of indication just how dumb the NHL has become on this issue – that there was no penalty, nor suspension on the play.

    - Anyone else feel a foreboding sense of doom regarding the Canadiens’ potential offense moving forward without Max Pacioretty? Around the league people may not be aware of how critical Patches had become to the Habs offense – but we’re well aware that he may have been THE most important player in our line up on offense.  If Pacioretty had played in all 68 games thus far this season he would trail only Tomas Plekanec in team scoring with 44 points. If you account for the ‘slowish’ start he had after he was called up, Max would have even more. More importantly however, Pacioretty was finally solving a 2 year long issue of powerplay production by a forward stationed in front of the opposing net. His size and strength are sorely missed and so obviously absent when he is not in the lineup. 25% of Pacioretty’s point production came on the powerplay – although in recent games that figure was much higher. If the Habs are going to have a shot down the stretch – they desperately need to find a way to replace Max’s production.

    - Finally, I’d like to direct your attention to this article by Ken Dryden regarding concussions in sport. Not only is Dryden a legend within the sport – he is also one of its most intelligent advocates (and sometimes critic). His brilliant article appeared in the Globe and Mail this morning. I simply couldn’t leave it out of today’s blog because Dryden is a desperately needed voice of reason who acts and thinks outside of the ‘old boys club’ logic of the NHL. His thoughts cut through the false logic and chest-beating that stand in the way progressive change on the NHL. Here is the link.

    Go Habs Go!!!

  1. #1 Senet1 says:
    March 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Mats, I think JM’s experiment has been working of late, he put a grinder on each line with the skilled players and each line has been more productive lately. In the game against the Pens, all three lines played well and Plex’s line finally scored two goals. Cammy got back on track too which is good. Last year when Cammy went down with injury he was a no show the last 15 games or so when he came back from injury but we all know how well he did come playoff time. So getting him started a little early may be good news for our offenced. The big quesstion mark is Pouliot, will be be able to replace Pacioretty on the Gomez line and at least be 75% as effectve abd Patches was? I think White will bring a little something we have needed on the team to our game as well. So although you can not replace Patches I think our offence is better now than it was the first half of the seacon. Our third line is being productive which we did not get much out of earlier in the season. Eller may be gaining confidence especially now that he is playing center on that third line. They are defensive as well as providing some offence. Hopefully Sopel will be healthy come playoff time. WE will need him badly. I like Mara’s game it is much more aggressive than he was last year with us. Maybe they have asked him to be more aggressive? One thing I have noticed to Hamrlik has played much better now that Sopel and Mara have come aboard, he know longer has to play 24-26 minutes a game. PK is maturing more and more each game under Gil’s guidence and Wizenski’s shot is amazing and he is eating into Hammers minutes too. So Everyone picks on Hamrlik but to me he has carried our defence, and the mistakes he has made were in many cases just because he was playing too many minutes for his age. He will be a force come playoff time if he is given fewer minutes. If our current top six stay healthy, I doubt if Spacek or Picard or Weber see much icetime of the three though I would go with weber except agains the heavy hitting teams like Boston and Philly. Don’t be surprised if Price gets a couple more shutouts before the end of the season. He is playing with confidence as well. So to answer your concerns, yes we will miss Patches for what he did for Gomez line, but I do think we can overcome it especially if Pouliot plays well.
    One other thing I have noticed the last four or five game is that Gomez is playing much better too. He still does no win enough faceoffs to be taking them in our zone but is turnover rate seems to be much better and he also seems more engaged in the play. I gave him a lot of credit to going to Chara after the hit and telling him what he thought of the hit. Naturally, he is not going to fight him but he can voice his disatisfaction for the hit.

    I would also like to direct you to an article in the Tampa Tribune by Erik Erlendsson. Basically to shorten it up, he stated that first it was the wrong message that the league sent to the rest of the players by not giving a suspension. Secondly, his point was that the hit was illegal because it was interference. The refs felt the same way and that is why they gave the penalties minutes that they gave. Since it was an illegal act according to the rules of hockey and the player was injured due to that illegal act then there should have been a suspension because the player needs to be accountable for his actions. So good for him to come out against the NHL. Too bad there were not more hockey writers saying the same thing.

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