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Game 8: Habs/Thrashers

  • I’ll keep the comments about this game short and sweet because there is another issue I want to talk about… First things first:

    Tuesday night the Thrashers roll into town. The Habs NEED to win this game. Not only do they need to win, but they NEED to score more than 2 goals to get the critics off of their backs. We can talk all we want about Gill or Price or whomever – but the reality is that you rarely win a game in which you score only one goal – especially since the Habs rarely conceed less than two. We’ll see if MA Bergeron can help the Canadiens who need all hands to contribute at this juncture.

    A Case for Sergei:

    There can be little doubt that when Sergei Kostitsyn was demoted to the Hamilton Bulldogs at the end of training camp that both the player and the organization dropped the ball in how the situation was handled. I blame the organization for not fully explaining the situation to a player who was with the club for sustained periods for the last two seasons. I’m not saying they need to hold a player’s hand – but at least let him know where he stands in terms of getting back to the NHL. If they had said to him, “Look Sergei, your surgery still needs some time. Go to Hamilton, and when there is a spot on the roster we’ll take another look” – I doubt we would have gone through the drama that we did.

    On the other side, you have a young player who hasn’t really proved a thing in the NHL (aside from a great run after he was called up in his rookie season). In an Olympics season where he and his brother looked to be locks for top line duties with the Belarussian National team, he was possibly not going to get the chance to prove his worth. He also clearly did not like the possibility of making less than $70,000 in Hamilton this season. His agent liked it less. Those factors lead to a ridiculous and childish over-reaction – especially given Montreal’s current position in the standings.

    Thats where we are right now. A team who cant score, with a rotating gong-show of a lineup that features Matt D’Agostini, Max Pacioretti, Kyle Chipchura and Gregory Stewart who share a combined 19 games played, o goals, 1 assist (Pacioretti), and are – 10.  The Canadiens have tried almost every possible combination in an attempt to get the most from what they have, and are left with one option that I believe that should try.

    I can already hear the groans. Nobody wants to reward the kind of selfish behavior that started this mess. But the Habs have now played 7 games and have proved beyong any doubt that the duo of Pacioretti and D’Agostini are not ready for the NHL – let alone the top 6. The final option left to the Habs is to call up Sergei in hopes that playing alongside a rejuvinated Thomas Plekanec, he along with his brother can find the chemistry that can support the smurf line.

    I believe this is Montreal’s best option, and should happen for a three reasons:

    -Sergei is playing well in Hamilton. In three games he leads the team’s forwards with 4 points (2G, 2A), and is + 1. By calling him up you catch him at a time when things are going well, and by reuniting him with his bro, you set up the best chance for his success.

    -Right now, Bob Gainey’s trade resources are very low. With the team struggling out of the gates, he will want to give them the opportunity to become better without making another major move. If he makes a trade right now, he will undoubtedly have to give up FAR too much to bring in the kind of top 6 forward we need to be competitive. The Kessel deal is a prime example of this. If Sergei isn’t going to work out for the Habs, it would be far better for us to trade him as an NHL roster player than a minor leaguer. The old saying is “buy low, sell high”. Those who do not follow the rule end up with bare cupboards. The worst case scenario is that Sergei ends up struggling and we trade him for the same return value as he has today.

    -Protect the prospects for ONCE! We’ve seen this story before. We rush to bring in a youngster who isn’t ready, and they play out their short career underacheiving in the harsh Montreal spotlight. There is no reason for Max Pacioretti, PK Subban or any of our young players to share in the destruction that losing in Montreal causes. As I suggested at the beginning of the year – it would be far more beneficial for Max to light up the AHL then to learn the Latendresse model for a struggling Habs team. Unless he makes a contender BETTER, then what is the point? Instead of rotating young guys and having no better idea about what we have by the end of the season – let Sergei play at the NHL level. If it doesn’t work out after this season, move on – but don’t lose him to another team for nothing only to watch him become a productive NHLer. The future looked so bright a couple years ago when the Bulldogs won the Calder Cup, as the Canadiens used the opportunity to let their young players develop.  They HAVE to re-commit to this process if they want to develop a young player into a quality NHLer. The current strategy is not working.

  1. #1 PACTUM SERVA says:
    October 20, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    After watching tonights game i cant help but wonder if the 2010 draft is front heavey.

  2. #2 Mats Naslund says:
    October 21, 2009 at 10:22 am

    haha, PS – I know the feeling. Through all of my delusions of cups and playoff games, the more I watch this team, the more they look like a team that struggles to win even the games they are handed.

    The positives:

    Michael Cammalleri. He has to be the most snakebitten payer in the league at the moment. In 8 games he has 33 shots, and only 1 goal. I don`t care though. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite players because of his determination to shoot the little black disc. What a breath of fresh air for a club that has long suffered through players with all kinds of talent who don`t shoot, and ones with little talent who do. Latendresse, MaxPac, Kostitsyn etc TAKE NOTE!

    Honorable mention: Gomez who has been almost as good, but nowhere near as clutch.

    Brian Gionta. Brian, I am sorry. I take it back. Of Bob’s moves on June 1st you were the one who I was most outspoken against. I was crazy. You are unbelievable. I can only take solice in the fact that even the pundits were scratching their heads. You are our best player every night, and you are clearly the best choice for Captain. At least I got that much right after watching you play one game in the preseason.

    Jaroslav Halak. Through two periods he had only faced 13 shots. That can be tough for a goaltender (especially one making just his second start of the season). In the third Atlanta came on strong and Jaro made some fantastic saves to keep this game 1 – 1. His two biggest however, came in the shootout to ensure that his team got the 2 points it desperately needed.

    The negative:

    Where do I start?
    -we cant score
    -we turn the puck over WAY too much
    -we dont generate powerplays with strong moves to the net, like all of the good teams
    -when we do get a powerplay we get 10 chances that almost never make it to the net
    -Hal Gill plays more than 10 mins per night. 10 minutes more than 10 minutes.
    -There are too many more to list

  3. #3 PACTUM SERVA says:
    October 21, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Yep M.S you pretty much hit the nail on the head on all points. Its really sad to say that last years Habs would pretty much lay a beating on this years Habs…….does not really say much about this team. We are right back to where we were 5 years ago. Let the rebuild begin………….once again.

  4. #4 PACTUM SERVA says:
    October 21, 2009 at 11:08 am

    On another note i would like to point out to all of the other HabsBlog members on what a great job Habsblog and Mats Naslund have done so far this season. Great reads M.S.

  5. #5 PACTUM SERVA says:
    October 21, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I mean M.N lol

  6. I truly believe by the time we get to 30 games that last years bads will not hold a candle to this team. Lets face this team has so many new players that have never played together and it is going to take time to develop the chemistry. Last year we did not have a player like Gionta, or Cammalleri, or did we have a line like the those two with Gomez who could put pressure on the opposition almost every time they are on the ice. We did not have a defence that would apply the body like this defence and we did not have a player like Travis Moen. These are all positives, and it is only a matter of time before they start to come together as a team. We have played some good games and lost and we played a couple of poor games and won, but to me we have only played one game that we could not have won with a little luck or a break or two. So I think those who want to throw in the towel this early are a way off base. WE need a game like playing a team that is struggling like us so that we can get the money off some of our scorers backs. Hopefully, the Islanders game will be it.

    As far as Gill is concerned, again this is not a bad defenceman just a slower skater, and once his playing partner learns to adjust to his weakness’ and our wingers also adjust I predict that we will be glad we have him by year end and I predict he will be playing closer to 20 minutes a game.

    As for Halak, he I do not want to take anything away from his play he played well but to me he made some good stops on average scoring chances that I believe Price would have stopped as well. Atlanta did ot have the quality scoring changes with open nets or deflection shots against him and he was able to see the puck on almost every shot. He has played 2 games in a row now and has won both with I believe 45 shots in total. I would play him until he loses simply becuase I believe our defence played better for him than they did for Price, but then again the competition was different too.

    Matts’ I agree with you about Sergie I believe Bob was going to meet with him today and I have not heard what came out of that meeting. Hopefully it is positive, but Sergie’s agent or big brother has got to talk some sence into this kid before it is too late.

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