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Game 76: Habs/Devils

  • With a win tonight, the Devils can guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs. It wont be easy though, as Montreal has everything to play for to remain ahead of the teams below them in the playoff hunt. A win will go a long way to putting pressure on Boston and Philly who have both struggled down the stretch. The Habs have played the Devils well of late which is this new thing their trying out. We’ll see how they solve Martin F. tonight. Go Habs Go!!!

12 Comments
  1. #1 Jackslat says:
    March 28, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I was dissapointed that the habs lost by 2 but the devils are a great team. I can’t wait for wednesday when they play Carolina it’s gonna be great. I think Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn will have great games as well as Cammalleri.

    Jackslat

  2. #2 Mats Naslund says:
    March 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    It was a disappointing loss, especially when you consider that the Canadiens really could have used a push late in the game to get the third goal back, and instead were held to 8 shots. NJ wasn’t trying to move forward at all. They had 3 shots on goal when the empty net goal was scored. You’re right though – credit has to go to the Devils who played a playoff game early.

    There were a few interesting things that jumped out at me after the game when I was looking at the stats. Mike Cammalleri had 0 shots on goal with 20+ mins on the ice. I realize that he had chances, but when he’s firing on all cylinders, there is no way he finishes a game without sooting pucks at the net. I’m not on his case, (he ended up with 2 assists on the night!), but I think that his struggles to find his goal-scoring touch may be symptomatic of the Canadiens approach to offense right now. Our powerplay suffers from extreme predictability, and over passivity. Cammy is at his best when he’s cocky and firing shots. When he starts doing that (along with a few others – Benoit Pouliot I’m looking your way) we may be back on track.

    The other thought I had is one that has come up over the course of many games. Does it seem to anyone else that when one scoring line contributes, the other takes the night off? It only ever seems to go one way or the other between Plex and Gomez’s lines. Thats just a personal observation, and is in no way tied to effort, but it feels that way to me.

    Habs are off until Wednesday vs Carolina. This is a dangerous team to play when everything is on the line for the Habs, and nothing is for their opponent.

  3. #3 Senet1 says:
    March 29, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Jackslat must be Pretty young, and new to our site first time I have seen him on the site.

  4. #4 Avatar37 says:
    March 29, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Senet1 – I don’t recall saying Bergeron was not worth his salary, I said he wasn’t worth the roster spot (which I suppose could be interpreted to mean he’s not worth any salary at all). He’s non productive at forward (which I suppose is better than being a liability on defense), although even at forward his coverage in the defensive zone is still questionable and he still makes high risk passes. For a one dimensional player who is -16, I think you could fill the spot with someone more productive for the team. You can argue that he’s really helped our PP along, which he may have in the beginning, but… He’s -16! It’s exactly the same problem we had with Brisebois…. I swear, I’ll never understand Montreal’s fascination with defensemen who can score 15 goals but cost the team 30 along the way…

    As for O’Byrne, I agree with you, defensemen take longer to develop because it’s a harder position to play, and O’Byrne is coming along quite nicely. In my opinion, he’s the most improved player on the team, hands down. I do, however, think it’s a fallacy that simply because the forwards are smaller that you NEED to have bigger defensemen. You can’t sacrifice skill for size, and that’s what they did in signing Gill. Yes, he’s 6’6, but he’s not a strong 6’6. He’s easily knocked around. Sutton is big and strong too. Markov isn’t huge but there’s no questioning the value he brings. Volchenkov isn’t big either but there’s no question about the value he’d bring (if he doesn’t resign in Ottawa).

    They do need to have someone who can actually drop the gloves, which Martin doesn’t agree with, which is a philosophy that Martin and I will always disagree on. I thought Stewart did a decent job of that, and right now we’re stuck watching O’Byrne or Gill fight when really, neither of them are fighters, they’re just big. Gill’s last fight, all he did was use his reach to keep his opponent far enough away to not do any damage and wait for the linesemen to step in. I’m not knocking him for it, he’s not a fighter. Say what you want about Laraque, but when he was on the ice, no one was taking runs at Markov (and when NY did, the coach didn’t play him to protect his players from that).

  5. #5 Avatar37 says:
    March 29, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Yes, it sounds to me like Jackslat is young, which is fine, it’s nice to talk to old and new Habs fans alike. He’s not old enough to know what the CPP is, you’re collecting it, and I’m in between. What I love most about bulletin boards is that it doesn’t matter how old or young you are, or what gender you are, all that matters is your ideas and what you’re saying. I am very passionate about the Habs and love discussing ideas and philosophies, especially with other Habs fans. I currently live in Chicago so there aren’t too many I can do that in person with around here.

  6. #6 Avatar37 says:
    March 29, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Mats – I don’t think predictability is the problem, it’s the style of play. Montreal is built around one thing: speed. They have small, fast forwards that will burn almost any team in the league if given the space. The problem is, that’s countered by trapping the middle and causing turnovers and dump ins, and even if they get set up in the offensive zone, there’s nowhere for them to go with the puck. Once you’re in the offensive zone, speed doesn’t matter so much as size, because that’s what you need to dig for the puck in the corners and battle for position in front of the net. It’s the main reason why adding Pouliot to the Gomez/Gionta line was such a big success, he’s got decent speed and the size to bang around in the offensive zone which creates space for Gomez and Gionta.

    I really believe that no other team in the NHL can match our forward lines line for line. Keep Metro/Moen together on the third line and use that kid line from Hamilton as our fourth line and it takes a lot of pressure off the first two lines because our third and fourth lines are capable of dominating other team’s third and fourth lines. I really believe that if we can get some defensive defensemen in front of our goalies, that this team will go from being a marginal playoff team to a contender. I hope ferverently this is the area that gets addressed in the off season.

  7. #7 Mats Naslund says:
    March 30, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Avatar37, I agree with you about our speed being bottled up in the neutral zone. Its a tough call though. During our winning streak it was playing within Martin’s system that made us so successful. It gave Jaro some very easy wins, and it allowed the 3rd and 4th lines to play a little over their heads if you ask me.

    My comment about predictability was specific to the powerplay which has become stagnant and easy to defend over the past 7 or so games. The book is out on Montreal’s success. If you can put pressure on them as they gain the zone they are very susceptible to turnovers. How many times have we watched Gomez collect speed, dangle through the neutral zone only to run out of space in the offensive zone and flip a blind pass as a turnover. Its not just him though. Our PP needs to change it up. If we do, it will open the old plays back up.

    Once we gain possession in the offensive zone there is one other issue that I have. We are so compelled to shoot the perfect shot from the point that we spend FAR too much time trying to feed the perfect one timer. Considering we have Cammy, Gomez and other fantastic players playing on the half wall, there is no reason why shots cannot come from there through traffic. We rarely see it though. Only when we have passed back and forth with no point shot. It also opens up a play that we really haven’t seen yet this year which was a staple of the old Canadiens powerplay success: the back-door pass to Markov pinching in from the blueline. To be fair, Markov has fanned on a couple attempts, but it is MOVEMENT that is hard to defend on the powerplay. It is hard to cover 5 players who move around with only 4 defenders. When we don’t move, we allow them to play a zone defense. It has killed us recently, and until we rectify it – its going to be very hard to win hockey games.

  8. #8 Senet1 says:
    March 30, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I guess my point was before about Bergeron was he was playing a deceit role in my opinion on the fourth line and by doing that we were able to utilize him on the PP which was successful before he got hurt. In fact he was the only guy who would shoot the puck from the point and he was scoring some goals and we got his production for little money. So unless we can find someone else to do that next year then I would sign him. That is my opinion anyway and as I said signing him for $750,000 is a reasonable deal but once you go over the $1M this I would say no.

  9. #9 Senet1 says:
    March 30, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I also agee with Mats when it comes to being predictable. Unfortunately unless we have players that are willing to go to the net then the predictability will probably always be there. I have been saying it all year we need to power forwards who are not shy in going in front of the net and standing in there while the defense unload. We watch our last game against Boston and on their PP they had two men standing in front of Halak our defence did not move them out and Halak had no chance on the goal. It is a simple game.block the goalie and shoot the puck.

  10. #10 Senet1 says:
    March 30, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    And Pouliot, I was not sold on him in the early going, then he sort of won me over, but lately he seems to have fallen back into his Minnesota problems he had, he has got to start showing more energy and use that big body of his like Avatar37 suggested he was doing earlier. If he doesn’t then I wish we had Latendresse back, it is funny by Martin never used Latendresse on Gomez’s line. I wonder why not becuase he sure is successful on Minny #1 line.

  11. #11 Senet1 says:
    March 30, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    As far as getting bigger defenceman, I respectfully disagree. You have to have some big men on your team and if you do not have them at the forward position then you need them at the back end. They do have to be able to move the puck though. Gainey went out and got some big men at the D because he knew we needed them, we got pushed around too much last year and our goalies suffered for it. Did he get the right guys well we could argue that forever, my opinion he got who he could get and in my opinion although I am not totally happy with our defence, they were an improvement over last year. Now moving forward we have at least one if not two D-men down in the minors that are probably ready to step up next year. We means we will have to make some room for them. Mara is gone UFA we will not resign him, Gil could be traded and maybe even Hammer if we can find someone willing to take on his salary for one more year if not, then he is trade bait at the trading deadline. It would be nice to be able to pick up a good FA defenceman this summer, hopefully that is in the cards too.

  12. #12 Senet1 says:
    March 30, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Oh one thing about Bergeron he is -12 not -16 and you have to wonder if that is all his fault since most of the time when did does play forward he is on Lapierre line and he is -15. If you have any players that are going to be minus you would hope it is your fourth line becuase if your first and second lines are minus then we are in trouble. Many times the opposition coach is able to get his top line out against the fourth line and as we saw the other night the fourth line was just over their heads against them.

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