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Home Boys

  • The Canadiens are at the beginning of a stretch of 7 consecutive home games. The Habs will play 9 of the next 10 games at home.

    The Canadiens are 6-2-2 at home so far. Okay, but not great.

    With so many home upcoming home games there is bound to be some tough road stretches ahead. Time to bank some points.

    A good start is crucial, lose 2 or 3 in a row at home and the fans will make the Bell Centre feel like the most brutal road building.

  1. #1 Habs 4 life says:
    December 10, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Amen Pactrum,

    Comparing lats to Leclair is as far of a stretch as comparing led foot Phaneuf to Bobby Orr. I’d love to see Chip come up for Higgins, he is a special teams monster and always comes out of corners with the puck and rarely makes big mistakes. Besides I think he’s paid his dues.

    I heard a rumor that Lats gave Habs management an ultimatum to either call him up or he’d look elsewhere. I don’t know if this is true or not but it would explain alot.That kid just wasn’t ready when they brought him up.

    I just wanted give props to Dandenault to staying in the play after he broke his arm. Things like that tend to inspire teammates.

  2. #2 habknot says:
    December 10, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    OK, PS and H4L, you may not like the comparison, and we have to wait FOUR more years to know for sure, but I still say the comparison sticks. Big, mobile, soft hands, slow developer in the NHL. JL was 25 yrs old when he was traded and broke through. Actually, Lats is way ahead of Leclair on the development scale, comparing age wise. JL still had two years to finish at college when he was Lats age! Lats was the fastest canadien in the pre-season drills, like a lot of big men [Beliveau, Thornton] they just don’t seem to be trying hard.
    I’m not saying he will have the career that Leclair had, but whichever team has Lats from the age of 24-32 will be very lucky. I hope it is the Habs.

    I agree about Dandenault, that was inspiring. I hope its a clean break and heals well. Even in the pressbox, Dandy is handy!

  3. #3 Mats Naslund says:
    December 10, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Definitely important to keep in mind that Latendresse is the 2nd youngest on the team. Not saying he’s the answer now, but he is way too young for Gainey to give up on him..

  4. #4 PACTUM SERVA says:
    December 10, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Second youngest on the team and he is in his third season with little if any improvement. What was all this i was hearing about him working on his skating in the summer? After 3 years it looks like his game has taken a step back instead of forward. Is sitting in the pressbox going to improve his skill? Here is something to chew on guys…Lats made this team before A. kostitsyn did…Lats made this team before S. kostitsyn did…Lats made this team before d’agostini did and all 3 have passed him on the depth chart and i am sure pacioretty will pass him too. I do feel sorry for lats because he should have been sent back down to junior where he belonged. Management is to blame for lats lack of development. Dont get me wrong i do wish the best for him and i do hope he pans out but its not looking good at this point. You just dont wait around 5 or 6 years in HOPES of a player to break out. I would love to see if some of you would give price that much time if he struggles. I think kenney said it best when he said…. You gotta know when to hold em and know when to fold em.

  5. Figures, soon as we play Dandy where he should be playing, we lose him. Hurry back Mike K.
    Higgins won’t be missed in my opinion as he’s really doing notta to help any causes on the ice, and seems lost most nights.
    Gotta love D’Agostini though folks. If this kid even gets sent down again…with some of the calibre players we use every night still there….somethings obviously wrong.
    Makes one wonder, what other great little nuggets, or hidden secrets are still playing in Hamilton, while the likes of Higgins and Latendresse are dressing every game.

  6. #6 PACTUM SERVA says:
    December 11, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Well said donnie

  7. #7 Mats Naslund says:
    December 11, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Well Higgins is out for at least tonight’s game so we’ll have to see who takes his roster spot- either Big George or Latendresse. At the risk of siding with Latendresse I really think people have greatly elevated expectations as to what he is capable of as a pro. When he came up he seemed to be the most pro-ready of the prospects because of his size. That is not his fault. People thought he was going to be the next Bertuzzi. I think we can all agree now that it would have been better for his development to remain in the AHL to learn how to use his body to score goals, unfortunately he has spent three years being overpowered by NHL defensemen. I’m not one who is disappointed by Latendresse, because in my mind he is among the youth who still need work, regardless of how long he’s been with the club. I see his sporadic contributions as a plus because I don’t see him as an every-day guy at this point in his career (the same way I had no expectations for, and thus was pleasantly surprised by Dandy). Most of all though, I think we need to exercise patience when dealing with young players. It never pays to be reactionary when building a franchise. If you look at the 3rd and 4th lines from even the good teams throughout the league you will be hard pressed to find one team that doesn’t have a couple guys who have underperformed to the expectations of their early career. The difference with Lats being that he is 21 and still has all kinds of time to find his NHL game.

  8. I have to agree with HabKnot when it comes to Lats. You simply cannot say he will not be another John Leclair at this stage of his career. We all agree he should have been in the minor and at 18 he would have been better back in Junior to build his confidence. Not sure what the management staff were thinking at the time? As I said earlier in the year I hoped they send him down before he plays 8 games, No I do not want to loose him at this point to waivers. He has shown he can play well but he just does not play well all the time. Maturity is a big thing, just look at Larry Robinson as another example of a slow starter drafted in 200’s and spend a few years in the minors.

  9. Well I for one am not ready to fold them just yet. You are wrong when you said he has shown little improvement. Lot at this states for the last two years. You will see that his plus minus has improved a great deal over his first year. This year was team managements year to decide do we keep him up for send him down. Again I am not one to find fault with management overall I think they are doing a great job, I just think they dropped the ball on Lats because I agree he should not have made the team at 18 and he should have spent time in the minors. Now they either have to play him or loose him in a trade or waivers. I am not sure what the answer is, I just wish someone could light a little fire under him before it is too late.

  10. #10 Senet1 says:
    December 11, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    That would obviously include management, the thing I do not understand is why with all the other prospects down in Hamilton did they put themselves in a corner with Lats and not send him down this fall before he had played 8 games. I have to agree that Management has mishandled this Guy and maybe it was because he was French??? Not sure, to me he will be a great player some day but how do you develop when you are either sitting ont the bench or cannot be sent ot the minors?

  11. #11 Senet1 says:
    December 11, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Higgins was wanted by a number of teams last year so maybe he still as a market value. Maybe he misses Ryder?? Anyway he I think he needs a change of scenery and I would like to see us get that esperence defenceman.

  12. #12 Habs 4 life says:
    December 11, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    All I know is since Lats has moved from the roster, The team has been playing pretty damn good. I don’t think it matters who’s fault it is at this point, I’m just looking at the numbers and they aren’t looking too good for him. We’re not a rebuilding team that has the time (3 years and counting) to wait and see if this kid pans out. We’re a cup contender now.

  13. #13 Joseph says:
    December 11, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Come on! It’s Tampa Bay!

  14. Say what you want, but that was inexcusable. I was watching this game and witnessed a plethora of Habs give up on the puck/play time and time again. When you’e got a number of players making the same mistake(s), you’ve got a coaching problem. And this is the Tampa Bay Lightning for crying out loud. I don’t care if St. Louis and Lecavalier get up for Montreal. So what. This is a team that they have to beat. Two points lost to an undeniably crappy team. Inexcusable.

    As to Kovalev, he can’t score. I’m not sure why, but it simply isn’t in the cards right now. Perhaps he needs a visit from the Love Guru.

  15. Wow, was that a pathetic attempt at 2 points or what? The only 2 times they were flat-out beat in the last 5 or 6 games was against Tampa and Atlanta….anybody see anything wrong with this?
    With the exception of the first 6 minutes or so, this team just decided they weren’t going to skate or work tonight at all….Lapierre, Kost and Begin excluded. Guys, we need our points prducers playing hard like these 3 every night.
    Noticed alot of little diddley-ass behind the back passes tonight…none of which worked. What is it guys…this team doesn’t wanna score unless its pretty ???
    No one went to the net again tonight, bad passes, no skating, and this joke of a PP speaks for itself. With the talent on this team, having a league-wide joke of a PP like this is unacceptable. Teams were afraid to take penalties against us last year…now they take all those liberties and cheap penalties cuz no one cares about our PP. Absolutely brutal !!!
    Thought with the last few games we played, most of the sh*tty play was behind us…but apparently not. TB is so bad they’re only about 2 notches above an AHL franchise, and these are the games we lose.
    Guys, not taking an automatic 2 points at least 90% of the time against the Tampas and Atlantas…the bottomfeeders of this league is what separates sucessful teams from the rest.
    Brutal effort guys, and the next game should be a surprise cuz we really don;t know what team is gonna show up anymore.
    P.S. Guy……Sergei learned no lesson…he stood still tonight more than anyone.

  16. #16 Joseph says:
    December 12, 2008 at 5:01 am

    My expectations have lowered for this, the centennial, season.

  17. #17 Habs 4 life says:
    December 12, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I missed the game and only caught highlights, but I’m not really surprised at what I’m hearing. Even when the Sens were an expansion team and they were last place, the only team they could beat were the Habs. For some reason, Montreal has always struggled against crap teams, this is no excuse of course but it’s a funny thing.

    I can’t imagine were we’d be at if it wasn’t for our 3rd and 4th lines, I can’t even believe I said that but it’s true. night in and night out those guys are the only ones who come to play. The guys on the top lines will show up when they feel like it or if things are going their way (Koivu is an exception, he’s a work horse) This song and dance is getting old and it’s time for Carbs to do something big, let’s see what would happens if we put Kovalev and Sergei down to the 3rd line for a while.

  18. #18 Mats Naslund says:
    December 12, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    A very frustrating game to watch for sure. I keep expecting to see a PP goal, or a goal by Kovalev and I am astounded game in and out to watch the futility. They learned nothing from the first goal by Brisebois. (Get the puck on the net for rebounds). When you think about the games Montreal has won, it usually works out to- 1st goal: garbage or rebound goal scored by someone who grabs a lose puck with the goalie out of position and sneaks one in. 2nd goal: A good pass with a goalie moving with a great shot. 3rd and all subsequent goals: 3-7 passes with 3 missed chances at shots waiting for the perfect play that presents itself 1 out of 15 tries.

    Unfortunately in Montreal losses, its the 3rd goal they’re trying to score first. Last night was a perfect example of how good and terrible their powerplay is. They passed on so many high percentage opportunities only to cough the puck up after 40 seconds of controlled passing. Lang is the worst for this. Kovalev apparently is legally bound to beating three defenders before he makes a move.

    Finally, I want to highlight two keys to this game that had nothing to do with the Habs play. 1. Lecavalier and St Louis wanted this one BAD. Their season has been utter failure to this point. You could see the emotion that the two of them had for this game. And while the Habs surely could have responded and played with the same intensity that won their past few games, it is often hard to play an opponent that is so bad that they leave EVERYTHING on the ice for 2 points in an 82 game schedule. For those two this was more than one game, it was to end a 9 game losing streak before it got to 10. It was to respond to Barry Melrose who wished that they lose all their remaining games after he was fired. In the end, I think it mattered more to Tampa and so they took it. Not an excuse for the Canadiens, but a reality.

    2. Carbo laid an enormous egg on this one. I fully agree that the 4th line has worked the hardest of anyone since the troubles in Montreal began.. That being said Begin, Lapierre and Kostopoulos are not going to get you back into a game when you’re down 2 goals. His refusal to play anyone other than the 4th line against the Lecavalier trio meant that Tampa could virtually bench its worst players in order to keep Montreal’s 4th line on the ice. Any coach in the league will take that trade if you allow them, regardless of how admirable their work ethic is. And if there is one thing I can guarantee its that you won’t break a slump by not playing slumping players.

  19. It seems like every time we loose it is the coaches fault, come on guys the players have a responsibility here and the top players just are not producing. Watching the last two games, has been frustrating, firstly, we get poor goal tending in the Tampa Bay game then Halak plays like a super man in the Washington game and we can get a goal. The puck is just not bouncing our way right now and if it ever starts the flood gates will open. However BJ hit the nail on the head after the Tampa Bay game, this club does not play like a team. Oh they play but they do not stick up for each other and in order to win especially in the playoffs, we have to do that, both Boston and Philly showed us what we were lacking last year and it seems that we did not get the bodies that we need in order to address this issue. Big George has been a disappointment although injuried right now, Obryne, it seems cannot skate??? so he is hurting us more than helping. Twice tonight Halak bailed him out when he fell attempting to turn. WoW!

  20. One good thing, Lats, Lapierre and the two kids played great games tonight. Lats even make some very good body checks, here is hoping that the benching helped. Kovy is just snake bitten, he seems to be working hard but the puck just will not bouncing his way.

    The Tampa Bay game was just a game where all they thought they had to do was show up?? But how many times have the two french canadian kids beat us on our home ice. I do wonder though if the game would have been different had Halak stopped that first goal, a puck he should have had. That seemed to take the life out of the team and they just never recovered.

    An just when we write off Brisebois and he scores two goals in two games and played a half decent game against Washington.

    Oh well back to the drawing board.

  21. Once we get healthy, I feel Gainey is going to have to make a couple of trades to get the team working together. If you look at this team and compare it with other championship teams, we need some character players that have some skill. I look at both both Boston and Philly and they have some good character players, Bob Gainey type players. we also have to get the players to play as a team, by defending each other, I saw a little of that tonight, but it seems we are lacking, that ingredient. Finally, we are going to have to get another experienced defenceman, I know i keep saying that but to date know one has agreed with me so I guess I am the only one who thinks that is what we need. But our young goal tenders need to know they have someone backing them.I feel that when the goalies have a bad game it is because of lack of confidence in their defence. Halak seems to have one good game one bad game, not sure if he is really a Number one goalie?
    That’s how I see it anyway.

  22. #22 Donnie says:
    December 14, 2008 at 1:27 am

    I think Gainey has no choice but to do this Senet…I agree totally. Our big guns are playing horrible hockey. Still gliding out there, very weak on the puck, and making poor puck decisions. Still trying all these little behind the back passes which ends up most of the time having the puck going to no player in specific,,,hence turnover. When times are hard, get back to basics. Shoot on the net are have traffic heading there. One without the over is useless. But still we are trying to be too cute and its not working.

    Confidence level is dropping for this team, and thats when its gonna get real bad. These teams looked so different coming out of there respective zones tonight. Wash was tape to tape passes on the fly to get things started offensively. We where just chaotic. Dumps and chips on the backhand to no one at all, which leads to no momentum and no offense. Where o where have the first 10 games gone? Where has our team who played these games gone? And why are these shabby remnants of a once thrilling squad all that is left?

    First to last on the PP in less than a year is unacceptable and very amateur indeed. But guys, struggling or not, you don’t give your 4th line all the ice time and ESP. any PP time and expect to win. Come on….I’ve watched alot of hockey in my life, as I’m sure all of you have….and you all know that you maybe only do this when you’re up 7-1..not when you’re down or even.

    High “energy” line or not. The PP is for ur top players…skilled players…weather they are struggling or not. The best chance for a goal still comes from these players. Putting who they didd on the PP was plain WRONG. Don’t care who agrees or disagrees. Are we the only team to go thru these harsh times? NO we are not..but one thing remains consistent with all these teams except for tonight…you keep coming back with your best and power thru a hard time.
    Sure guys don’t even know who they are playing there next shift with anymore…how are you supposed to get into a rythem. Piss-poor coaching tonight. Carbonneau din’t lose it for us thats true…but he sure helped. So easy to tell he’s panicing, throwing any collage of 3 players together for a shift and playing perhaps the 3 most unskilled players on the PP tonight…AND…thinking that this is going to work !!! Laughable coaching Carbs. Sorry guys.

    P.S…And are we all really THAT shocked at Kovys lack of anything. We all knew last year that there was a chance of this happening this year. The guy has never put together 2 good seasons. The guys not slumping…this is what we’re gonna get this year from him. If he’s still worth anything, this is a very good spot to start looking when you’re talking trade. Ugly ugly hockey…so hard to watch.

  23. #23 PACTUM SERVA says:
    December 14, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Senet i do agree with some of the things you are saying but when it comes to latalentless you are way off. To say lats made some pretty good body checks is like telling a 4 year old good job wiping your ass in the bathroom. He is a pro hockey player…is that not what he is suppose to do. I dont praise ever kid on the team i coach after every hit they make because its their job and they know it’s what they need to do. As for o’byrne i agree with you but if he cant skate then can you please tell me what lats is trying to do in a set of size 11 skates? Watching lats skate reminds me of a crazy bear lost in the swamp.

  24. #24 Mats Naslund says:
    December 14, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    I agree that we’re witnessing frustrating times in Montreal right now, but I think its highly unrealistic to think that trades in the NHL happen so easily. Kovalev isn’t going anywhere. He’s 35 years old, counts for 4.5 million in cap-space, a free agent after this season, and with 5 goals through 29 games his return value has probably never been lower. As a GM there is simply no trade that would make Montreal better that could be had for Kovalev. If Gainey has a move at all it will be with a roster player, a prospect and a draft pick (unless we’re talking about side-ways trades that don’t improve the squad). Barring a trade to free up space for Sundin, if you consider the NHL trade wire in the past few weeks, you can bet that nothing at all will happen in the immediate future.

    As for last night’s game, I completely agree that there is no use in continuing to switch up the lines. It simply doesn’t work and has had the effect of making everyone play on an island (Kovalev wasn’t the only one doing things on his own last night). Carbo can’t be blamed for a lack of player productivity, but he’s the one who has to put them in a place where they will succeed. Seeing how Kostitsyn, Plex and Kovalev have worked individually why not reunite them? How long do you wait? Everything else including using the 4th line as your PP has failed. Its time to put the players in a position to succeed.

  25. #25 Senet 1 says:
    December 14, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    My only point is that Lats finally showed that he is willing to use his body instead of just skating around and not getting involved, so give me a break, that is what we have all been saying for months, that he is not using his body enough and getting physically involved with the play. I felt that he played the best game I have seen him play in a long time last night. I think you dislike him so much that you are reading your negative thoughts into what other people are saying. Comparing Lats to Obryne I am not sure of your point here, at least Lats does not fall down twice and leave his goalie hung out to dry. Maybe he had skate problems but I personally thing he needs to be back in Hamilton working on this defensive play and it would appear his skating as well.

  26. #26 Senet 1 says:
    December 14, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    I have to agree that the experiments had a place in the coaching decisions but it is time to establish two solid offensive lines and stick with them until they start to work again. As for the power play, I feel Carbo was right in sending the message that if you are not going to work then someone who does work hard gets more ice time, but the only thing I disagree with in his decisions is when the game is on the line you need your best players on the ice to see if we can score the tying goal. To me the only mistake that carbo made was trying to make is point for too long. I think he is gradually learning that some coaching moves can only last so long and then he has to go back to the team plan that he started with.

  27. #27 Senet 1 says:
    December 14, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Trades, are often made to shake up a team, Kovy is still working hard, but if you look at how many good shots he had last night and the posts that he and others hit in the third period and we should have won the game by at least two goals. I would definetly trade Kovy now if I could get another similar star that is struggling like Havlat in Minnesota both are free agents next year and maybe Kovy plays better in the west?? However, if I could get a character player who could score 15-20 goals a season and play a more physical game that is the type of player I think this team needs. We said that last spring and we did not get that type of player. We need to start to draft players that show their real value come playoff time. Both Boston and Philly have those types of players, we need some too.

  28. #28 Mats Naslund says:
    December 14, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Havlat plays for Chicago, makes 6 million per season (which would put us over the cap) and has only 2 more goals (and 2 LESS points) than Kovalev. He’s also 27 years old. Other than he lives in Montreal in the off-season what reason would Chicago have to make that trade? If you were referring to Gaborik in Minnesota, he makes 7.5 million (which means you’d have to trade Kovalev AND another player worth at least 1.5 million to fit our cap. Not only that, he’s also only played 2 games this year because of injury. By all accounts he wants to make in the 9-10 million range next year which is entirely out of our possibility so we would be basically renting an injured player for Kovalev and another roster player. If a trade eventually comes down, I can see moving a guy like Higgins but it is incredibly hard to move a guy like Kovalev if he’s not performing.

  29. #29 Mats Naslund says:
    December 14, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Luckily, Komisarek is most likely going to be back on Tuesday at Carolina. If we want to take a look at an impact player moving into the lineup to shake things up, that is about as good as it gets.

    My lines for Tuesday:



    We have to give that top line a shot at redemption since every other conceivable combination has been tried. Being inconsistent with the lines has fueled uncoordinated play. Also, lines such as this allow for the young guys to play with veterans in order to spread the jump around the lines. I’ve said it many times before, but Kovalev is at his best when he has other players who will skate with for him. Kostitsyn is by FAR his best offensive partner.

  30. #30 habknot says:
    December 14, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Mats: I agree with your previous few posts. I would switch Tanguay and Lats, make a speed-size line and a speed-skill line.
    Just generally, I think its important to put our ‘bad’ spell in perspective. We’re still picking up enough points to stay in the hunt, our superstar is snake bit, and our shut down D has been out more than a month.Injuries could pile up and ruin our year, otherwise we head into the post season as a dangerous team. Perhaps our expectations were a little high based on landing Big George? I think we can say landing one tough player doesn’t automatically keep your team from being pushed around on the ice. Speed, skill, and great first breakout passes were our hallmarks last year and we’ve got to re-establish fear of our breakaway speed to keep other teams from crowding us in our own end. I hope the boys can put that back together soon, and we all get the christmas we deserve in Montreal!

  31. On another note….I wanna see big George back when he’s healed up and playing a regular 4th line shift. Seems he’s getting winded by the 3rd period…but that’s because Carbo uses his 4th line more than any other team in the league (which is not helping matters with the teams struggles)….but a regular spot in the lineup I think George should have.
    Look at some of the other “tough” guys in this league now. Cote, Boogaard, Shelley, Parros, Brashear…all these guys have regular spots on their respective teams. The key is get them to contribute in other ways, until the time comes you may need them for their most skilled trade.
    Every one of these guys use their big bodies to crash opposing players..except George. Get this guy crunching players, get him on a regular 4th line that plays 7-8 mins a night, he can already help with puck control behind the net, and we all know what he can do with his knuckles.
    Get this guy a regular spot in this lineup. Get him to add a few elements he easily could to his game. There is no fear factor or respect given by the other team when this guy is in the press box not being able to do what he was brought here for.

  32. #32 Habs 4 life says:
    December 15, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    I agree, lets’ get George back in there, I’d hate to see him get a shaft like he did in Pittsburgh plus the fans love him.

    I’d like to see Carbo grow a pair and bench Kovy for a while and see if he’ll wake up. Working hard is great but he’s there to score goals and right now he’d trying too hard and making really costly mistakes. What’s the worse that could happen by putting him on the 4th for a while.

  33. I always think about how Kovalev would react from a night in the press box. He’d either be pissed up and ultimately bring the attitude in the locker room down, or he’d realize he needs to start putting in some of those shots he takes from the hash marks.

  34. #34 Joseph says:
    December 15, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    The Oilers used Laraque well. Montreal should emulate that.

    I had mentioned that Kovalev should have been benched a couple of weeks back. But no. His reward for an absolutely horrid performance in one particular game was ample time in OT followed by a shot in the shootout, which had no intention of eluding the goaltender. That lead me to believe that there was something fundamentally wrong with Carbonneau’s thinking. Nothing has transpired as of late which leads me to believe otherwise.

    This team is not turning any corner. What they’re doing is persisting with bad habits which become more and more difficult to break with each passing game. Diagnosis: a new strain of Ottawaitis.

  35. #35 Mats Naslund says:
    December 15, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    I don’t really know how you could go about benching Kovalev. Yes it has been frustrating to watch his goal drought, but he continues to lead all forwards in points after 29 games. My point is that the whole team has been inconsistent. How about Chris Higgins’ 9 points after 21 games? How about Andrei 3.25 mil Kostitsyn and 13 points after 27 games? Tanguay is on pace for a repeat of last season’s terrible showing. Realistically, there is no way to bench your leading scorer without causing a problem in the dressing room. Last year Montreal was a hard team to beat because it seemed like everyone in the lineup could contribute offensively, this year everyone is so focused on Kovalev, that the rest of the guys have forgotten that they need to produce. If the rest of the lineup continues to wait for Kovalev to signal that the drought is over, we could wait a very long time.

  36. As opposed to the current problem which obviously exists in the dressing room?

    I agree that the whole team has been inconsistent, and I also agree that too many players are far too reliant on what Kovalev is doing, or not doing. I even agree that Kovalev is getting much less room to maneuver this season thanks to the uninspired play of his linemates. But I believe that you pinpointed the problem, MN, when you stated, “If the rest of the lineup continues to wait for Kovalev to signal that the drought is over, we could wait a very long time.” Precisely. And sometimes drastic problems call for drastic measures. And maybe taking Kovalev out of the equation for a game or two wouldn’t be so much a message to Kovalev as it would a message to his teammates. Maybe that should be explained to him beforehand. Maybe not.

    An extreme (and unfair) example: Was Maurice Richard ever benched? Yes, he was, but the motivation for doing so wasn’t to punish him, it was to send a message to the team as a whole.

    Back to Kovalev’s production.

    He’s actually tied with Koivu for second in team points with 22. Markov leads the team with 24. But far more importantly thqan who has the most points on the is team thus far is the fact the Kovalev, despite being restricted to a more confined space on the ice this season, still leads the team in shots on goal with 84. That’s 5 goals in 84 shots on goal, or a shooting percentage of 6.0… well below his career average of 12.0. So there’s evidently more to Kovalev’s drought than the fact that he’s being played tighter defensively by the opposition this season. And even with that being the case, elite players find a way to produce. It’s been 18 games now. So what’s wrong?

    All of that being said, I will reiterate that I like Kovalev as a player and as a Hab, and I want him to break this drought as much as any Habs fan. But if Carbonneua sits and waits for the players to fix what’s wrong, we may very well see this season’s goal drought shatter his career high set with New York.

  37. My apologies for all of the typos. Must be headache inducing.

  38. #38 Mats Naslund says:
    December 16, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Well he has tied his New York record of 19 games. I’m not opposed to sending a message to the players, but what new message can be taken from benching one of your best offensive threats? I just don’t understand punishing one of the few who has actually produced points. It may not be the number we hoped for at the beginning of the year, but aside from Markov he’s done better than everyone else thus far. Kovalev is 35. He is also already overly aware of his own slump. He doesn’t need Carbo to remind him publicly. If Carbo is continuously punishing guys for a lack of production he runs the risk of losing impact when he needs to use the strategy – especially if he’s punishing the teams second MOST productive player.

    Aside from that, there has been a lot of trade talk concerning Montreal for most of this season thanks to the continued Mats Sundin soap opera. I figured it helps to know exactly the situation regarding what Bob Gainey can do given this team’s contractual obligations. Here is a list of each player’s salary for the 2008-2009 season. That site is a good resource when trying to determine exactly what kinds of trades might be available, and how much in terms of players it would cost to land some of the big names that we hear thrown around often. “Trade for Kovalchuk” seems like a good move until you realize who would be missing from the lineup just to match salaries.

  39. #39 Joseph says:
    December 16, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I understand your thinking. I really do. That’s why I suggested a very temporary rest for Kovalev to see what the team will do when they’re not relying on him – not as a punishment to him.

    Anyway, what are the alternatives? Sit and watch and wait and hope?

    That website is a useful resource, but who are Andrei and Siarhei Kastsitsyn and why are they absorbing a total of $4,066,667 of Montreal’s total budget? Never heard of them. :-)

    On the subject of Kovalchuk, I know that he was an example here but I don’t think that the Habs need any more skilled players. What they need (for the second season in a row) is sandpaper and leadership (role players). Those missing ingredients would not only set an example (and a direction) for the rest of the team, they would also create some room for the existing talent to do what it’s supposed to do.

  40. #40 barriehabfan says:
    December 16, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Laraque must play more. Trade Latendresse.
    Laraque deserves to play, he has impressed me even if he hasn’t gotten the intensity that I hoped he would show.
    Not wanting to trade Latendresse because he may finally start to play with any hope of physical play, effort, or average skill is ridiculous. He’s had more than ample time to show his skills. Some thigs develop with time, but lack of effort, lack of desire and lack of physical play will haunt him throughout his career. To keep him in case he finally starts to play the way we thik he should is to doom the habs to having a crappy, heartless “power forward” in the lineup for many years to come.

  41. #41 Habs 4 life says:
    December 16, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    First off, to be in the top 3 for points on montreal is not a big deal, they’re a deep deep team where everyone contributes so the points tend to be distributed a little more than most teams. Besides 22 points for a so called “superstar ” in the new NHL after 29 games is terrible. Kovalev is supposed to be a leader on this team so if you want to shake things up, you have to start with him. Don’t think of it as punishment, it’s simple a way to say “hey you need to re-charge and get your head straight” and at the same time, send a message to everyone else. Otherwise, what is Carbo supposed to do? he has to do something and benching Higgins or Andrei isn’t going to do anything.

  42. #42 Mats Naslund says:
    December 16, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Laraque has only been a healthy scratch a few times this season. He’s been hurt for the rest, so he’ll need to be healthy to see more ice time. As for trading Latendresse: I’m not opposed to Gainey making a trade that he thinks will make this team better, but I would have a huge problem with him making trades just to get rid of a guy who the City has fallen out of love with. His return value is straight up not very much. He may get added to a trade to sweeten a deal, but the team won’t get anything of value back for him in a 1 for 1 situation. And while doing nothing seems like a futile move, it has served Gainey well in the past. With all of the reactionary fans calling for huge changes after 2 game losing streaks, its important to understand that when you make trades from a point of weakness, you’re bound to lose the trade. If Gainey takes a macro approach to the team and lets some of the struggling players get out of their slump, he will give up less to get quality back.

    Joseph: The confusion over the Kostitsyn’s spelling was due to the translation from Cyrillic by the NHL when Andrei was first drafted.. which to me is weird because Sergei was already in London Ont, playing for the Knights at that time with “Kostitsyn” on the back of his jersey.

    The Kovalchuk example was just because he’s someone who has been thrown out there in the past (could have been Bowmeester or Gaborik etc). A trade for someone with a little grit and leadership, may be more likely given cap realities. Just for fun though, who out there do you see that could make that kind of contribution? And secondly, given that Lapierre, Kostopoulos, Laraque, Begin and Dandenault (when everyone is healthy) are already fighting each other for ice time, how or where would this new player fit into our line-up?

  43. #43 Mats Naslund says:
    December 16, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    H4L: I’m not against a coach sending a message or two (I’ve said many times before), but what does Kovalev need to hear that he hasn’t heard over the last month? I mean, the message has been sent over and over. Its time to back off of the players and let them play through a little adversity instead of constantly juggling lines and reacting to every bad stretch of play. Carbo runs the risk of doing more bad than good if he starts trying to bench every player who runs dry offensively. I would be shocked to find out there was even 1 player in the dressing room who doesn’t acknowledge that they need to step it up.

  44. #44 Joseph says:
    December 16, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    I’m sure you’ve examined the possibilites but let me think about that and get back to you. I will say that I wouldn’t be opposed to the Habs moving one of the so called grit players that they presently have for a more effective player in that role.

    Also, I am not questioning your coaching philosophy. I am merely throwing ideas at you for feedback and thus helping to complete my own thoughts in the process.

    That said, morale and confidence are tricky things. For example (and I hate to keep falling back on this example, but…), I’m quite sure that every player in Ottawa’s dressing room last season knew that he needed to elevate his level of play, yet none of them could could manage to accomplish this given the lack of confidence and therefore morale which existed in that dressing room. Just as lowered confidence occurs at one point or another in everyone’s lifetime in our culture, there is undoubtedly no easy fix – one just has to, as you say, battle through it. So perhaps Carbonneau’s best approach as a coach is to put down the wrench and play the role of team therapist? I don’t know. One thing he can do is look to move a player for the aforementioned ‘role player’, but then we all saw how effective that was for the Senators last season too, so…

    Sit, watch, wait and hope. The inevitable reality for all sports fans, as frustrating as it may be. Perhpas we should move for professional sports to be made more deomcratic. After all, we, the fans, make the players rich enough. We should have a say in how things are run. No? :-)

  45. #45 Joseph says:
    December 16, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Am I imagining this? 11 penalties through two periods? Eleven.

  46. Problems, problems everywhere. Other than maybe a couple of calls…all the penalties were legitamite calls in this league…so lets not take the easy way out and blame the refs. Couldn’t get anything going 5 on 5 either.

    This team is lazy for the mostpart…don;t wanna skate and work hard for goals, and that accounts for some of the penalties also. Forwards waiting flat-footed at the blueline for pucks from the D…so you’re easily caught if you do get it. Break out passes are almost non-existent now…its usually dumps in the air or flicks along the boards. Forwards are scared to go to the net with the puck…when we do get inside the zone our guys turn towards the boards not the net, and we get alot of low qualities shots from low quality scoring angles as a result…dont wanna head to the net, might take a knock there.
    4th line still playing wayyyyyyyy to much…these guys aren’t gonna generate enough goals (if any) to make a difference in any games Guy…wake up man. Seems to me these guys aren;t very inspired by Carbs anymore, and seems to me he doesn’t know what to be doing to shake this. Kovy and Lang together is still a bad idea…not much being generated there either and thats 2 older guys playing together who don’t really like skating hard. Plecs and Andrei are wasting away…hows about trying the 3some from last year again…can’t be any worse than now.
    Whatever you’re practicing at the rink on off days seems to be the wrong thing guys…generating offense is not improving by any means…maybe spent more time on that…thats getting NHL players to learn how to get out of there own zone WITH the puck and turn that into offensive chance… would be great to see that Guy.
    So after all of this…where do the problems lie??? Anyone know??? Could be so many things.
    All I know is this was another brutal effort by a team whose only 3 guys who want to skate aren;t skilled enogh to score any goals. Sh*tty spot to be in. Maybe it’s just alot of bad dreams are coming thorgh from last year, when alot of us questioned if this team just over-achieved…wait til 09-08 to find out….well guys, maybe we’re finding out in a harsh way that we did.
    Getting harder and harder to watch these guys play.

  47. #47 Mats Naslund says:
    December 17, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Let me preface this by stating that I never blame officiating for a loss, and I won’t do that today… but.. In my life I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team receive 11 straight penalty calls including 4 – 5 on 3 advantages before the FIRST penalty call against the opposition. The fact that this game was only 3-2 is a testament to hard work (yes I said it) on the penalty kill. Surely many of the calls were legitimate, but if someone can tell me with a straight face that the first Carolina infraction worthy of a penalty (other than the penalty shot) was committed at 5:33 of the third period, then that person deserves an Oscar. If a ref is going to call a tight game, I’m fine with that. If a team is committing many fouls, they deserve the penalty box. But there is no way in Hockey that one team could play so clean while the other so dirty. The Habs could have used this motivation and put a goal in the back of the net to take this game away from Carolina, but remained generally unlucky through this game. Hopefully the team sees this night as a low point and rallies towards better play.

  48. #48 Habs 4 life says:
    December 17, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I Agree, this team is getting pretty hard to watch but good or bad we are all suck with them. Carbo should just bring in tapes of Detroit and say “here, this is how you play the game of hockey!”
    This team is a mess right now, seems like everyone is scared of making mistakes and just plain refuses to play fundamental hockey. Any idiot can shuffle lines around all year, all your doing is killing any chance for chemistry or consistency . So now what? I don’t think anyone has the answer yet but I think it’s about time for Carbo to step back to see the forest through the trees and get back to basics. Tight passing, strong forechecking, and move your damn feet or you sit!. This isn’t brain surgery.

  49. #49 Joseph says:
    December 17, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Although it’s difficult to win when you’re shorthanded for seemingly 22 straight minutes (all three of Carolina’s goals obviously coming on the powerplay), I will say that that was a sorry effort to try to pull one out.

    An obviously biased game though. The official(s) either had a hate on for Montreal or a hard on for Carolina. The last time I witnessed anything like that was in 2002 in Salt Lake City. Team Canada was called on no less than 13 penalties against the US in what was very clearly a completely biased (women’s) gold medal match. So much so that even the US fans grew restless and started booing the calls.

    Of course Canada won the game 3-2. Maybe the Habs should go after Wickenheiser.

  50. #50 Joseph says:
    December 17, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Upon further relflection, I get your point, MN. It’s doubtful that a personnel change is going to fix this team’s problem. After all, I find it difficult to believe that this is a player problem for the mere fact that so many players aren’t doing what they should be doing – playing to their respective potentials. No, there’s something else going on with this team and Carbonneau must know what it is.

    A premature prediction: A seventh or eighth place finish and a potential first round matchup against Boston, who isn’t likely going to begin playing any differently than they have been thus far this season. Can you envision it? Ryder shoving it down his former team’s throat when it matters most.

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