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Game 80: Habs/Rangers

  • The Habs can clinch a playoff spot tonight with a regulation win over the Rangers.

    The 0 points last night hurt especially bad now considering the Rangers will be battling for their season and sure to leave it all on the ice. The Canadiens are without 2 important men and coming off a back to back home/away game.

    How hurt is Mathieu Schneider? Bob Gainey wouldn’t confirm an injury and TSN reports he made the trip with his teammates.

  1. #1 Joseph says:
    April 7, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    The Rangers may be battling for their season tonight but so will the Habs. So a level playing field at least in that regard, I think. More importantly than desperation hockey though, Avery is going to make life miserable for the Canadiens’ defense and Halak, and I doubt that Laraque will do much of anything to deter him from doing so.

    Maybe Schneider made the trip to provide some locker room leadership? Who knows.

  2. #2 Mats Naslund says:
    April 7, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Have you heard that Halak is playing tonight? TSN has Price starting in their ice chips. Andrei Kostitsyn and D’Agostini are in and Laraque and Stewart are out.

    I really hope Gainey puts Kostitsyn with Plex and Higgins. There is no time left to juggle. You have to put your best players out in the position to win. I can’t imagine Montreal looking at this game as anything but a must-win. They can put 7th place on lockdown with a victory tonight. They need to get skating early and put the pressure on the NY defense. Yes we’re banged up, but NY is also very fragile on D. Its time to be the hunter tonight instead of the hunted.

  3. #3 Mats Naslund says:
    April 7, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    As of 6:30 its confirmed that Price will start in goal tonight. Andrei Kostitsyn and Matt D’Agostini will be on a line with Plekanec. Dandenault is moving onto the 4th line with Higgins and Metropolit.

    As for defense: Markov did not make the trip although his 3 weeks has not been officially announced. Apparently Schneider accompanied the team to NY to get a second opinion on his injury. Montreal doctors had suggested surgery was necessary which would end his season.

    That being said: I don’t understand why Gainey has not moved Dandenault officially back to defense. Sure he is useful in a fourth line offensive role.. but given Montreal has O’Byrne and Janik penciled as the third pairing, one has to wonder if Dandy might be a better option given that both Kostitsyn AND D’Agostini have returned to the forward ranks. Because he is a somewhat offensive player, Dandenault might be somewhat effective in moving the puck like Markov..

    Anyways, I hope I’m proved wrong and that the Canadiens take it to NY the way they had been playing against their last 6 opponents. Even with the two huge injuries I believe we are a better team than the Rangers. It is going to come down to which team wants it more.

  4. #4 Senet1 says:
    April 7, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    This game came down to three things, Price was nervous and did not play well, the team was tired and had no jump and withoug strong goaltending they could not get any adenalin flowing with any momentum. The third thing was lack of breaks. You kind of wonder what the game would have been like had those two shots that it the cross bar if even one of them had gone in. I did not agree with Gainey starting Price tonight, we had to win this game and although he has to get price ready for the playoffs, we have to get in them first and Halak would have been the better choice tonight.

  5. #5 Senet1 says:
    April 7, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Now Gainey has no choice which ever goalie he plans on using for the playoff has to start against Boston on thursday and he runs with him the last two games. I am betting that it is Price and I can see Price having a great game against the Bruins. If not he will win against Pittsburg Saturday night. He is hoping that Florida looses at least one game and Philly wins both against the Rangers.

  6. #6 Senet1 says:
    April 7, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    I was disappointed that Stewart was not in the lineup tonight, he has played well and needs to score a goal before the playoffs start. Lararque will not play unless we play the bruins.He and Stewart should play against the bruins thursday. But Laraque will not play against Pittsburg.

    I agree with MAtts that we need to put Dandy back on adefence and set Obryne. I would also dress Stewart over D’Agostini.

  7. #7 Donnie says:
    April 7, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    I agree Senet….I don’t think Price should have started either…I also don’t think that BOTH Laraque and Stewart should have been taken out to make way for Kostitsyn and D’Agostini.
    All of our guys seem to play so much better with at least some toughness in the lineup. The 2nd line is enemic, once again 2nd line scoring is gonna be needed if we are to do anything at all….but I don’t think, yet again this year, we are going to get it…’s probably evident now that Kovy made Plekanec and Anderi last season…without him they are not even mediocre it seems.
    These last 2 games I’m thinking are gonna be a harsh shot to our confidence come playoff time….seems we should still make it cuz Florida isn’t winning either…but zero points in these last 2 games hurt bad. Bos and Pitt next..I can maybe see 1 point here.
    But is anyone really surprised…these guys have done this all season long….get really good for 5 or 6 games in a row max. Then as quick as they turned things around, fall right back into bad habits.
    Komiserek assisted (for lack of words) on 2 of the horrible goals Price let in…this guy is becoming a handicap with poor desicions and poor puck movement as of late. Added to that the PP went back into non-exsistence.
    I also firmly believe that Price should not start in the playoffs…he is not ready and Halak has been the better, more confident, more consistent goalie.
    I don;t think any of us believe that this team can actually win the cup, but lets at least go out fighting, go out knowing that we played the best we could, and see what next season brings.

  8. #8 Mats Naslund says:
    April 8, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    I’m less inclined to believe that Price should have sat out last night, even though I was really disappointed with the result. Here is why. Halak played the night before. He was alright, but didn’t steal the game. Price was coming off of stellar play even though he had missed games because of the flu. Gainey is looking, at this point, to do anything that will shake up the lineup enough to give his team back the confidence it had before the injuries. Had Price stepped in last night and stole the game we’d all be talking about how 7th is locked down and how Price gives us the edge we need in the playoffs.

    Unfortunately Price was rusty. When combined with his defense, his blunders were crippling. Even so, as Senet1 pointed out after the game last night – if it wasn’t for a couple crossbars in the 3rd, we may have won the game.

    At this point, it is still likely that we make the playoffs. At this point if we are able to get a single point out of Boston (who seem to like 1-0 and 2-1 games at this point), or Pittsburgh we are in. More important in my eyes is figuring out our defensive problems. It all starts with puck movement. Given that Markov has a strained knee it is safe to assume he’s probably out 2 weeks at the minimum (3 is what everyone says, although if Markov is willing to pay through pain he could cut down on the time he’s on the shelf). Given that it is playoff season, he won’t want to miss time if he’s able to skate. That being said, Montreal needs to come up with a solution to their defensive problems. In a perfect world Bouillon would return and pick up at least some of the slack. Until either Markov or Bouillon return, I think Gainey has to move Dandenault back on D. Given his speed and ability to pass the puck, he is WAY more valuable as a defenseman than a forward.

    Komisarek – Dandenault
    Hamrlik – Gorges
    Brisebois – Janik/O’Byrne

    Its not pretty, but at least Dandenault best replicates what Markov was capable of doing getting the puck to the forwards.

    Moving Dandy back to defense would open up a slot on forward. I thought Stewart did a great job in giving the Habs the type of toughness with speed they need on the 4th line with Metro. I also think Sergei is still a better option than D’Agostini or Higgins for the Plekanec line and the stats don’t lie about that. He’s the one guy that can get Plex
    and his brother in position to shoot, and stop the 1 on 5 madness that Higgins brings to the line. We’ll need him back healthy for that though. They need to settle down and regain the swagger.

    Higgins-Plekanec-Kostitsyn (pass the puck boys you can’t do it alone)
    Kostopoulos-Lapierre-Latendresse (read above)
    Stewart-Metro-Laraque (hit somebody)

  9. #9 Mats Naslund says:
    April 9, 2009 at 1:22 am

    Well, Gainey definitely threw a wrinkle into the plans by sending down Janik today and calling up Yannik Weber. For now the plan is to have him and his 44 points on the PP which will be sorely needed considering how terrible the man advantage looked int he absence of Markov and Schneider. What remains to be seen is if Gainey will allow Weber to take a regular shift on defense or whether he’ll go with 7 defenseman or once again try to use Weber on a forward line. Having him with the club brings some interesting options/dilemmas. Since hes only 5’10” and 195 pounds, he would add another small body on defense. You have to think that a guy like Lucic will absolutely eat him up if he gets the chance. However, if hes able to move the puck quickly and efficiently, he could solve a few of our most pressing issues. My hunch is that we’ll see Dandenault in his spot during 5-5 play. Gainey will probably use him on the 4th line where he can do least amount of damage.

  10. #10 Senet1 says:
    April 9, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    I liked the looks of weber, he will be helpful, playing forward and then the point on the power play, Don’t be surprised if Markov shows up by the 2nd or 3rd game of the playoffs. If we are lucky and can split the first two games then he might not come back until game four or five.

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