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The Tipping Point

  • The Canadiens completed their 6 game road trip yesterday with a 3-0 win against division rivals Boston Bruins. The win gave the Canadiens 9 out of a possible 12 points and has put them right back into a favorable playoff position. This road trip will go down as the push that put the Canadiens over the playoff line.

    Cristobal Huet earned another shut out and continues to impress. Sheldon Souray has made a complete 180 from a couple months ago and is finally playing like he should be. Even Richard Zednik is looking better out there. The Canadiens definitely seem to be rolling at the right time. Even Mike Ribeiro was willing to mix it up yesterday, maybe the loss of Jose lit a fire within.

    Remember back in January when the Canadiens faced a tough road trip and lost the services of Andrei Markov for three weeks? The trip that featured a 5 goal first period outburst by the Canucks on Jose Theodore? A 7-3 embarassment by the Carolina Hurricanes? The Canadiens only managed 4 points on that trip. It’s hard to remember those games now after the great hockey the Canadiens have been playing recently.

    This past trip has put the Canadiens in a good position but far from a guaranteed post-season. The Habs have a favorable schedule and presently hold a 3 point lead on the surging Thrashers and also hold a game in hand. What’s more interesting is the struggles of the defending cup champ Lightning. The Lightning gave up *8 GOALS* again last night and it looks like it’s going to get worse before better. The Lightning made no moves at the deadline which is incomprehensible and probably stamped their ticket out of the post-season. The team’s confidence in their goaltending has to be next to none.

    Instead of the Canadiens and Thrashers battling it out for the 8th and final playoff spot it looks more like they could both finish 7th or 8th and Tampa would be on the outside looking in. The New Jersey Devils are only a few points ahead of the Canadiens and are definitely in reach. The Devils however DID make some good moves at the deadline and if you’re betting Tampa against New Jersey for who can hold on, the hands down favorite is Martin Brodeur and the Devils over the troubled Lightning.

    The Canadiens meet the Lightining on Monday in a huge matchup and if the Canadiens get the upper hand on them in the standings they might never look back.

    David Aebischer will arrive in Montreal some time today and no doubt be met by a media circus. It’s unknown who will get the call Saturday against the Rangers, chances are they throw Aebischer to the wolves sooner than later.

  1. #1 Manitoban says:
    March 10, 2006 at 11:26 am

    So we’re stuck with Bonk, then? Really?

  2. I think Bonk hating is getting old. It’s so easy to pick on him. As long as he doesn’t give up the puck and give up goals he’s fine as a penalty killer. Is he overpaid? Yes. Can we do anything about it now? NO.

  3. Yeah, Bonk is fine if he’s not on the ice, with a one-goal lead or less, at the end of games.

    Huet’s accomplishments make that more acceptable.

    I think Gainey said it’d be hard not to play Huet after the way he played.

    Aebischer can speak French, so that’s cool. He’s an intelligent guy so he may even pick up the Quebecois accent.

  4. #4 Gumper says:
    March 10, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    Seeing Huet bounce back from the TO game was a relief. It says something about his resiliancy because i saw his play to be a little shaky in the second half of that game.. including the give away behind the net. It doesn’t hurt his motivation that he has Aebischer breathing down his neck for the #1 spot. Despite the idea the trade was a #1 for a #1 goalie… Gainey will ride Huet as long as he produces wins.
    The test (again) for Ribeiro will be the playoffs. Will he continue to “mix” it up? Does he have too? Well, whatever works for him to be effective is a plus, but he knows his job is to score, not grind.
    Bonk bashing (if one can call it that) could be getting redundant, yes. Bonk continually frustrating Hab fans with his lack-lustre, overpaid-underachieving play to the point of venting about it? Yes. After all, this is the place to do it.
    I’m still stinging from those games in January. Habs are looking much better but I’m cautious about the notion that they are 100% back on track. Naturally, if they continue this kind of team play, they’ll go much further in the playoffs.

  5. #5 kazmojo says:
    March 10, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    Just a small nit to pick, but a complete 360 would have Souray right back where he was. 180 degrees would be where Sheldon is right now.

    I also agree that Bonk is an overpaid but decent role player. And given the number of penalties the Habs keep getting, that role is getting plenty of ice time.

  6. You’re right! I got caught up in writing and over rotated Sheldon.

  7. I personally think that bob is gonna go with huet tomorrow night against NY and maybe start Abs on monday against the lightning..it’s actually a really tough call but I think that the bigger mistake would be waiting too long to get abs feet wet! I actually might wait until their next away game to start off abs with a little less presssure ! which I believe would be against washington in about 10 days or so! Who knows i’m just happy to see we have choices!!!

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