The Habs look to get back in the win column tonight. They welcome the Predators at home. How do you prepare for a team you see so rarely?
I’m really happy with the way that Andrei Kostitsyn has elevated his game over the past 10. He is slowly becoming the guy we envisioned him being after last year with Kovalev. Now we’re seeing what he can do without relying on Kovy.
I have been really pleased with the team’s play of late, especially Latendresse, Kostopoulos and Lapierre, who are emerging as an amazing secondary scoring unit with a ferocious fore-check. I am a little worried however at Montreal’s play with one goal leads or trailing. They are going to need to learn how to skate to collect pucks for the dump and chase. It killed all of our momentum against Boston. If the dump and chase is going to be our policy against the Bruins going forward, we’re going to need to have people skating quickly through the neutral zone in order to pressure our opponents D into making turnovers, and to support the fore-check.
One would think that an NHL coach/club would know that, but the Habs appear to learn things the hard way… which is odd.
No I disagree, I think the habs have a tendency to play at the level of their competition. Not the best way to approach a game but it is the reality of many times not just them. Also, one also has to remember that many players play their best games when they play in Montreal and Toronto, where they grew up watching Hockey Night in Canada.Its a fact and most canadian boys will tell you that.
Matts, I have to agree with you in regard to both your comments regarding AK and the fourth line. I would like those who criticized Carbo back in November/December when we were not playing so well and see their comments and now look what Carbo accomplished with these four players. Many wanted Carbo’s head when we were not scoring and he broke up our #1 line of last year. On the other hand I kept saying that these players have to learn how to play with other players. Those moves that Carbo made back when we were playing poorly proved that he is one of the best coaches around and that many of the habs fans who wanted his head should leave the coaching to the Pros.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Carbo is a great coach, and even at the height of our scoring troubles I thought that somehow he would find a way to motivate our squad.. however, while I love the way the Lats, Lapierre, Kost. line has been playing, I think that there is also something to be said for having predictable lines. Everyone on that squad knows who they’re going to play with, and can build on positive momentum from game to game. I hope that Carbo can see this success and apply it when the rest of the lineup returns to action.
I think both of you are right, MatsN and Senet. Ideal world you have set lines, who know each other’s tendencies and their role on the team. However, injuries and opposing teams may dictate different lines. If, say Koivu, Laraque and Tanguay went down with injuries, other lines need to expect to have some tinkering done. Also, the awkwardness of November can turn into the seamless fit in April (last year’s team).
Also, if your style of play doesn’t match well against a given team (think Carolina, Philadelphia), a good coach will have prepared the middle level players for different roles. Don’t tell me that Carbo isn’t chomping at the bit for Laraques return, even if just to get guys used to his presence in practice. What about a line like Koivu, Laraque and Tanguay against Carolina in the playoffs. Koivu establishes offensive zone, Laraque controls deep corner and Tanguay tries to slip open? plus the skill gets police protection. I’m not trying to think for Carbo (gave that up!), but just trying to defend the line juggling now to improve the team down the road. 82 games is a long pre-season if you want to go deep in the season that really counts in Montreal.
I like that idea in theory, however, Carbo has at times used his grinders throughout the 4 lines with skilled players and the result is 4 lines who aren’t very good at either grinding, or skilled play. Laraque is a little different though, and was semi-effective when Carbo matched him up with Milan Lucic against Boston earlier this year. It will depend on his conditioning mainly. If he’s out of shape he won’t even benefit our 4th line. e’ll need to wait and see on that one.
I don’t have a lineup answer for when Tanguay and Higgins return. If a trade doesn’t follow that happening (which in both cases is rumored to be sometime in february), how do you see the lineup shaping up? If Koivu, Tanguay, Higgins, Laraque come back to the forward lines – what 4 guys do they replace? Dandenault will be some needed reinforcement to our defensive lines, but all of a sudden we have WAY too many guys for roster spots barring injury.
habknot: your right, I do not think Matts and I are disagreeing just sort of looking at different options. The procastinators of November it think are starting to eat their words. I also wonder how the lineups will be once all the healthy guys return. I think the key is how the call ups are still playing. D’Agostini played really well when paired up with Koivu it would be nice to see him reunited with Koivu before we decide to send him back to Hamilton. Pacioretti looks like a keeper right now too but a few games could make a difference but he seems to fit in well with Kovalev and Plex. The to Kostitsyn brothers seem to work well with Lang. And the way the fourth line is playing right now they should not be broken up. I think they will be really valuable come playoff time and should score some real important goals.
So althought we like to see the same set lines sometimes it is better to have these line broken up because it does pay dividends. Scotty Bowman was the master of line suffling. He has success with it and Carbo played in that era of line suffling so he also see the benefit of it. So here is how I see the lines as we progress to the playoffs.
Lang, SK and AK
Plex Kovy and Pacy
Koivu, Tanguay and D’agostini
Lappiere, Latendresse and Kostopolus
Not sure George fits in this situation. maybe against certain teams.
What a game! Tainted only by the worst 4-on-3 powerplay I’ve ever seen.
Beware the Penguins. They are proving to be a reason for concern for any team in the Eastern race, save Boston.
Guys, Bob Cole must be a wizard of some kind because I heard him say things that apparently some others didn’t. For instance, I heard him give full credit to the Habs on several occasions last night, saying how tough it would be for Ottawa to win three in a row given the calibre of their opponents in the Habs, commenting on how the Habs were one goal away from putting Ottawa to bed in the third period, getting overly excited over D’Agostini’s close calls and finally his goal in the third period, and ooing and awing over Kovalev. Even his grammatically challenged sidekick, Millen, was giving the Habs and their players full props. But then, being a fan from Pittsburgh, perhaps I am ignorant with regard to the depth of the Habs-Leafs feud. Maybe my ears aren’t properly trained to pick up on the subliminal hatred. Or maybe my ears simply aren’t selective enough. Come on, guys.
That being said, I was under the impression that the Leafs nation was anti-Ottawa. No?
Just a question guys…..anyone worried at all about Price’s ability to stay healthy? The guy has played about 60 games so far in his career, and he’s been out 3 or 4 times already due to injuries. Do we have another Gaborik or Rick Dipietro here?
Just something I’ve been thinking about….when a young guy comes into this league and spend this much time out of the lineup in less than 1 season, it makes one think.
I guess only time will tell, but not a good start health-wise…any comments?
I’m not sure i would read too much into injuries at this point. He’s still very young and doesn’t have a history of the same types of injuries. If it continues it would definately be something to watch though.
Joseph: to be honest, I kind of like Bob Cole in a weird, reminds me of my childhood-so-i’ll-forgive-his-senility sort of way. I think habs fans are just sensitive because of BRUTAL coverage of Habs-Leafs games in the past. I thought he was pretty fair given that Ottawa made an exciting comeback that warranted attention. Leafs Nation is definitely anti-Sens, but although Cole shows his age at times, I’m not convinced that he is particularly biased against the Canadiens.
A few thoughts on the Habs trade situation nearing the deadline. http://matsnaslund.wordpress.com/
Halak has won a number of games since Price has been out but to me he allowed two goals and should have been stopped against Ottawa. I am not too concerned about Price and injuries but hopefully he will eventually stay healthy. Being young he has had some bad luck. Also becaue he is young and fighting for a spot in Montreal, I think he wants to play so bad that he has a tendency to rush himself back into playing too soon. The coaches and medical staff are going to have to keep and eye on him and make sure that he is completely healthy before he returns this time. So far we have been able to play over Halak’s weaknesses, don’t get me wrong he has played very well at times but then just when you think you have the game won he lets in a soft goal. To be honest that worries me.
So if TB wants Markov so bad, how do we still get Vinny without destroying our defence. I cannot figure out why TB would ask for Markov, why not ask for one of our stud defenceman that we have as a prospect. By the time their team is ready for prime time Markov will not be around. Why would he think Montreal would destroy one part of our team to improve another part. This just does not make since and TB know that we are trying to win the cup this year and would not trade our best defenceman for improve out offence. Maybe they want the deal to fail. Maybe it is a publicity move to get the fans more involved. Maybe, maybe maybe??????????
Barring catastrophic oversight by Bob Gainey Andrei Markov isn’t going anywhere. It will be interesting to see what happens as we get closer to the deadline however.. If it looks like the salary cap is going to go down substantially next season there may be a bunch of guys with large contracts who become available. Why have an $8 million 40 goal scorer, when you could have 2 $4million 25 goal scorers and fill the roster easier? Montreal is already going for broke this year in that we won’t be able to keep all of our free agents, so why not grab a superstar player and make it easier to decide who to sign in the off-season!
Senet1, I said it earlier, but I think that adding Markov to th deal is a way to kill the deal. If it goes through, Tampa picks up an all-star defenseman, prospects etc and shed a crazy contract.. If it gets turned down, they can save face by holding onto Lecavalier.
Admittedly, MN, I wasn’t around for the earlier coverage. And I can understand why such a bias would exist. So perhaps it’s unfair of me to judge based merely upon the current coverage by CBC… which isn’t bad, in my opinion… save Millen who tends to say the dumbest things.
Anyway, more importantly, how realistic is this Lecavalier deal? Has he even shown interest in playing in Montreal? Further, would this move, if it were to happen, be worth it? In my opinion, the Habs definitely need a Lecavalier type of player to go deep in the coming playoffs. Such a player could be the the deciding factor in a series against Boston, or even an earlier round series. However, I wouldn’t be too keen on giving up too much to get him. I wouldn’t want to see Gainey trade away the Habs future for the hopes that Lecavalier will be the one to lead them to the promise land. Bu then, these types of deals are always a roll of the dice I suppose.
Oh, and I agree that losing Markov to gain Lecavalier would make no sense at all.
I agree Mats, frankly I’d be amazed if anything happens at all with this deal. I believe common sense will guide Gainey in his decision to forget the whole thing. As I said before, VL is an awesome talent but I just don’t think we need him enough to make such a lopsided offer. We’re kicking ass and taking names right now, why would you mess with that?
Well the worst would have to be when someone with the PP gets scored on, they just looked disorganized, and Ottawa may have had something to do with that.
Habs 4 life. I have to agree, there is no way you weaken your defence to strengthen your offense. Defence wins championships offence only wins games.
My how things have changed. Offense used to win championships.
I started a blog a little while ago in order to write about these ideas a little more thoroughly, if you click on my name it’ll take you there. Essentially though I think Vincent Lecavalier is DEFINITELY available – his decade long contract is not something Tampa’s ownership is eager to get rid of. I think that after rumors surfaced over what Montreal was going to give up (no stars), Tampa got a little gun shy. Asking for a top line defenseman is a way of ensuring that they won’t be a loser in the deal. Not only is the asking price out of line with what the Habs are willing to pay, but Tampa’s boldness may have turned Gainey towards other options. Yes Lecavalier is worth a lot in return. His ten year contract at 7.727 per season is fair only if the Cap stays at 56.7 million per year. If the Cap goes down, Tampa may be in trouble given that they have signed many long term and expensive deals. If I’m Gainey, I lay down a fair offer that I am firm on, and walk away if the insanity continues. There are other players rumored to be available.
sorry I meant his contract is something Tampa DOES want to get rid of.
Maybe I’m hearing wrong…but apparently Markov is the only thing holding off the Vinnie deal. Again, I agree with you guys…too much to surrender unless Bullion is gonna start scoring goals at an incredible rate, lol.
A gun at the point is something I think we do need though, not that having Vinnie is something we don’t need. So who’s out there for solid, hard-firing blue-liners. People are mentioning Bouwmeester…would be a nice one too…but if Flo keeps winning, he’s not going nowhere as they’ll need him down the stretch. I’m hearing Kaberle…but Toronto, being as dellusional as they are when thinking of their players worth would probably ask for the farm for this guy…so, probably won’t happen. Anyone else available ?
When this Vinnie deal first came up…my thought was, anyone but Komisarek or Price…but now, as well as we are playing that list has grown substantially to include probably 4 or 5 others. Fun to watch again, and getting points also..can’t ask for anything else…except I wanna start making Boston our b*tch again. GO HABS GO !!!
Also I hear Price and Koivu may be back for tonight. Good news for my Pool.
Vinnie’s contract makes him FAR less valuable than Tampa is bargaining for. The key to making a large trade is being reasonable with what your opponent is willing and capable of giving up. Will Markov transform Tampa into a contender? Not a chance. They need draft picks, and prospects, and young players that they can build a team around. Its really just another example of terrible decision making in the Tampa organization. They could have gotten away with highway robbery. They could have made the type of deal that would totally replenish their team for years to come. That would have been the smart choice. I would have asked for Gorges, Higgins, Plex, Subban a first rounder and another high pick (maybe even next years first rounder). They would have gotten our best defenseman, two roster players who are proven playoff quality players, the offensive defenseman that they want, and the opportunity to make good draft choices to complement Stamkos, Malone, Smith, Prospal, St Louis etc. Instead they ask for a defenseman who by the time they are contenders will have left via free agency!