Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Statistical Look: Montreal Canadiens Sans Michael Cammalleri Equals..

When Michael Cammalleri arrived on the scene, spirits were high in Montreal as the Canadiens had acquired a top-level sniper long term.

He got off to a slow start, but quickly found his mark and went into Saturday’s game with a team leading 26 goals in 55 games.

We all saw what happened Saturday afternoon, after Cammalleri took a hit into the boards from Anton Volchenkov, but in case you missed it, here it is.

The collision sent chills through viewers of the game, whether they were Canadiens fans or not.

Cammalleri was expected to have an MRI either later Saturday or sometime on Sunday and results are expected to be announced on Monday.

But it doesn’t take a medical degree to know that this is not a short term injury.

Late January seems to be  bad time to get injured as a Canadiens player. Just short of a year ago, on Feb 1, Robert Lang sliced his Achilles tendon, ending his short period with the Canadiens.

The most tragic of all fell on January 28, 1937, when Howie Morenz’s career, and ultimately his life, was over after getting his skate caught in a rut after receiving a body check against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Fortunately for Lang and Cammalleri, today’s  modern medicine is far more advanced that that of 1937. Lang is back playing with the Phoenix Coyotes, and Cammalleri will return the the ice. But will it be this season?

Cammy_0130 Michael Cammalleri is helped off the ice after receiving a body check from the Ottawa Senators’ Anton Volchenkov 01/30/2010 – Ottawa Citizen Photo

Through 56 games in the 2009-10 NHL season, the Canadiens have managed to stay at .500 amidst all their other injuries past and  current.

The team is still holding on to seventh position in the Eastern Conference, amongst a pack of eight teams battling for the last four playoff spots.

While the earlier loss of Andrei Markov crippled the Montreal power play, Cammalleri’s injury is different in a very big way.

The Canadiens have a combined 139 goals, and rank 29th in the league as of the time this is published.

Cammalleri has 26 of those goals (eighth best in the league), or 18.7 per cent of them, and has been in on the scoring for 48 goals in total (34.5 %).

Further breaking down the goal scoring, he has scored four of the Canadiens 43 power play goals, and has eleven power play assists (34.8 %). He has also logged the most power play time on ice of all Montreal forwards.

The key abilities of Cammalleri, that have truly benefited the Canadiens’ offense, are his numbers playing even strength.

Montreal ranks dead last in five-one five-goals (81), despite being tied for first with ten four-on-four tallies.

Cammalleri’s numbers, playing even strength, are  22 goals and 11 assists. Otherwise said, he’s on for 36.3 percent of the team’s even strength goals, not to mention his plus-10 rating that leads the team.

If the team is already last in five-on-five with him in the lineup,imagine how bad it will be without him.

Another key area where the Canadiens will be hurt is in the shot department, where the Canadiens again sit neat the bottom of the barrel.

Cammalleri’s 191 shots on goal are just in the top-ten league wide and makes up for over twelve percent of the pucks that reach the Canadiens’ opposing goals. His 13.6 shooting percentage is comparable to that of Alexander Ovechin’s.

The bottom line in any game though is the end result, so here they are.

When Cammalleri scores a goal for the Canadiens, the team is 12-6-2, and is 3-0-1 in his four multi-goal games.

When he doesn’t score a goal, they are 13-19-4.

What happens when he’s not on the ice at all???

Malone’s Seven-Goal Night: The Hockey News looks back at Joe Malone’s seven-goal game on this day in 1920. The record to this day remains unbroken.

January 31, 1936: Canadiens Play Benefit Game for Injured Rookie

imageMany Montreal Canadiens fans always recall the 1937 memorial game for the late Howie Morenz, as the team’s first benefit game.

In fact, the Canadiens, in one form or another, participated in at least two known benefit games prior.

One was in March 1929, where Canadiens and Montreal Maroons players, still in town after the playoffs, participated in an event on support of local sports figure Tom Elliott. The game is of interest as the teams experimented with new offside rules planned to be implemented it the next season.

The second took place at the Forum on January 31, 1936 where Inside Hockey’s Mike Wyman has a detailed look back at a benefit game played for Nels Crutchfield, who’s only NHL season was with Montreal in 1934-35.

Crutchfield was a standout with the McGill Redmen, and a prospect of the Montreal Maroons before his rights were traded to the Canadiens in October 1934.

He played just one season with the Canadiens, before suffering a severe skull fracture, during a car accident, in September of 1935.

two two_bhSt. Maurice Valley-Chronicle 10/03/1935

The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search

Montreal Gazette – 10/01/35

Fans from Crutchfield’s hometown of Shawinigan spent their $2.00 for the train ride to the Forum to see the event. The Canadiens donated the use of the Forum rent free, and provided ushers at no charge.

Members of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had played the Canadiens the night before, chose to stay in Montreal to participate in the event  before heading to Chicago.

The New York Rangers and Canadian Olympic Team also sent cash donations.

The game was just part of a full evening of events for the benefit.

After a figure skating exhibition, and a twenty minute women’s game, a squad of Canadiens and Maroons players took on a team of players from Crutchfield’s former amateur teams.

The St. Maurice Valley Chronicle - Google News Archive Search Itinerary for Crutchfield benefit game –St. Maurice Valley Chronicle 01/23/1936

The speed skating race featured the Leafs King Clancy, the Canadiens Johnny Gagnon and the Maroons Bob Gracie. There was even a goalie race between the Canadiens Wilf Cude and the Maroons Bill Beverage.

The original on-ice entertainer, Jean Pusie of the Canadiens, won the event overall even outskating provincial amateur champion Leo Sylvestre.

Canadiens legends Newsy Lalonde participated in a seven-on-seven Old-Timers game, with former linemate Billy Boucher scoring the lone goal.

The main event saw the Canadiens against the Maroons, with the help of a few Leafs in a seven-on-seven game. The Montreal clubs swapped goalies for the night as Cude earned a shutout in the Maroons/mixed teams 3-0 win.

In total, $7,777 was raised and Canadiens president Ernest Savard, and co-owner Maurice Forget went to Crutchfield’s home to personally present the check in March, 1936.

More on Nels Crutchfield can be found at Greatest Hockey Legends, and Legends of Hockey.

image Crutchfield’s ECHA contract with the 1929-30 Shawinigan Cataractes

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Pair of Habs Bargain Book Finds


Ever had one of those days when you walk into a store, with no real intentions to buy anything, then luck in on a great deal?

Last weekend, I had one of those. My goal was to find a small printer cart or table for my fiancée and her two girls. After not finding any to my liking, or that were reasonably priced, I spotted a discount/clearance store across the street from where I was parked.

“Couldn’t hurt to try,” I said to myself so in I went.

With no luck in the small furniture area, I noticed a used book area in the far corner and decided to see what was there.

I found the sports shelf, and thumbed my way through. Low and behold, there stood out the greatest hockey book ever written, Ken Dryden’s “The Game”.

It was in excellent shape, in light of a small tear on the sleeve in the corner, but on opening it I realized that this was a very early edition (4th printing).

My only other copy was a paperback release, that I had in my possession for over 20 years. To find an early printing was quite a treat, especially at the price of $3.99.

There was even an old 1984 First Choice (now the Movie Network) card calendar between one of the pages. So this copy had likely not been handled too often, and likely by just one owner.

Then I found something peculiar. A page or two in, the inscription “John, He Shoots, he scores! Sincerely, Gordie Howe” was written in blue pen.

The signature had been written over slightly in marker. An added bonus, I wondered. But why would Gordie Howe sign Ken Dryden’s book?

IMG00018-20100129-1751 Later in the day I researched Mr. Howe’s signature, but alas the one in the book doesn’t match up to any I saw online. Perhaps John’s father did it to cheer him up, who knows.

Working my way through the books I hit another jackpot. “Thunder and Lightning” by John Ferguson, and Stan and Shirley Fischler.

This was a better find for me than the other book as for months I had been tracking down a decent copy of this book. A few times it pops up on eBay or in Amazon’s used lists, but my timing, or the ridiculous shipping costs, kept me away from it.

The timing couldn’t have been better either, given the Georges Laraque mess that was going on in Montreal. Here in my hand was the autobiography of the man who basically created the enforcer position, while at the same time the Canadiens had just bought out the man they thought could carry that role or them.

Off to the checkout I went, and passed over the money for my new finds plus a 75th Anniversary NHL book, just under $13 after taxes well spent.

As for the printer cart, I did manage to find one on sale the next day. A successful weekend all around.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Now That the Latest Habs Off-Ice Mess is Over, What Happens Next?

image Carey Price and Andrei Markov will look to put whatever it was behind them and get back on the winning track Saturday vs. Ottawa – AP Photo

So glad to hear Carey Price and Andrei Markov have made nice after their alleged spat in the Canadiens dressing room last week, cause the thing was tearing me up inside. Well, not really.

The whole situation was a fabricated story out of the gate, and a quick exchange of emails, with a verifiable media source who covers every single game, quickly confirmed my suspicions.

Arguments between players in the dressing room happen all the time, at any level of the game. It’s a common occurrence, but unfortunately some media yahoo decided to stir the pot. Was the 2008-09 season not enough for him, or is it ratings time?

Andrei Markov spoke to the media Thursday on the situation, addressing how some journalists make a living from bad stories.

All Habs has a great write-up on the off-ice events, from Wednesday and Thursday, but whether it happened or not, it should be really something of little concern to the rest of us.

For all we know, Price and Markov could have been fighting because one of the two forgot to flush the toilet.

We weren’t there, the reporters weren’t there, the players were…case closed.

The real concern should be the fact that the Canadiens came out of Florida with zero points and scored just a single goal in two games.

Montreal now sits ninth in a conference where sixth place and thirteenth place are separated by one point. Just one!

The two teams the Canadiens faced Tuesday and Wednesday are amongst that pack of teams. That’s two four-point games out the window, just like that.

The Canadiens will need to get it together, and fast, for any chance at a post season.

Leading up to the Olympic break, Montreal faces Boston and Philadelphia twice. Both of those teams are in that 6 to 13 grouping, and both have four games at hand on the Canadiens as of Thursday afternoon.

Games against Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Washington are also in those first two weeks of February, but who are we kidding?

Add a hot Ottawa squad (5th place by five points) in the mix on Saturday, and you get the idea of what could happen.

Call me a “Debbie Downer”, but if Montreal goes below .500 against  these three teams, you can call it a season before the torch is even lit in Vancouver.

In the meantime, what needs to be done? Arpon Basu at The Daily Hab-It looks at what little options the Canadiens have at the trade deadline, which falls three days after the Olympics.

Patience Please: Nice article by Mathias Brunet of La Presse on giving Price time to mature. On a similar note, this is something I put together for Bleacher Report last May.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Farewell Georges Laraque, With Music By ABBA

image Sweden gave us ABBA, so maybe it’s fair for many that Georges Laraque goes to the Swedish Elite League. But perhaps that’s too cruel!

And so, Georges Laraque, another page has turned.

It appears that you told AIK Stockholm, of the Swedish Elite League,  to “Take A Chance On Me”… “Mamma Mia”!

The report even says that “Money, Money, Money” is not the issue, and you will play for free. The team will covered your travel, lodging, meals, PETA (Swedish Chapter) dues, etc.

Since you met your “Waterloo” last week in Montreal, it was a bit of a surprise to see you want to “Move On” to another league.

One would expect that you would help the “SOS” call in Haiti and make your way to the devastated country, as discussed two weeks ago, but “Just Like That” you abandoned those plans.

Why Georges, “Does Your Mother Know” you’ve turned your back on her homeland?

Instead, it appears you’ll be off to Sweden and the “Another Town, Another Train” SEL.

Who knows, maybe the change of scenery will make you “As Good As New”, and perhaps “The Visitors” you oppose will understand your code better than we do.

FYI Georges: “Voulez-Vous” se battre avec moi? is said “Brist
slåss med mig” in Swedish.

I’ll be honest, “The Day Before You Came”, the Canadiens had been “Under Attack” by the bigger teams in Philly and Boston.

“Ring, Ring” went Bob Gainey for your services and upon “Arrival”, your new teammates, media and fans were “Head Over Heels”.

There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright and there was a sense of expectation hanging in the air. You would be the Habs “Super Trooper”.

But alas, it was “Disillusion” when dreamed of you protecting your teammates.

“The Name Of The Game” in hockey, notably the NHL where “The Winner Takes It All”, is teamwork, Georges.

Instead, you “Dum, Dum, Diddle”d around for a season and a half.

“On And On And On”, we winced as you didn’t do your job, either due to injury or that you plain didn’t want to do it.

You became more of a “Dancing Queen” as you looked for excuses or mislead the media with your comments.

“When All Is Said And Done”, Mr. Gainey and the team had had enough. Maybe now you realize now that you could have “Givin’ A Little Bit More.”

“Should I Laugh, Or Should I Cry?”, Well “I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO” know that it won’t be the latter because “That’s Me”

“Thank-You For the Music”, Georges and “So Long.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

HNIC Heats Up Canadiens Goaltending Controversies

23638 Cassie Campbell-Pascal got this bloggers attention, when she asked Canadiens’ Jaroslav Halak if it was safe to say that he was the Habs #1 goaltender.

OK, for quite some time I’ve come to the defense of the CBC using Cassie Campbell-Pascal as a between periods interviewer or game analysis with “Hockey Night in Canada.”

Yes, it’s true she has no journalism background, but she does have a sociology degree, from the University of Guelph, and is an active public speaker throughout the year.

article_15515_1 Cassie Campbell-Pascal got her big break on HNIC in Oct 2006 as the colour analyst with play-by play man Bob Cole.

Her background in women’s hockey, and the upcoming 2010 Olympics, brings a potential female viewership to the CBC’s flagship program that the network didn’t have before.

Her biggest flaws are that she becomes a deer in headlights in front of a camera, struggling with on-the-spot interviews and intros frequently, and some of her questions are not always well prepared.

Just like any other former pro athlete, that winds up on “The Panel” or in the booth, she’s on a learning curve in journalism.

But her most recent example, during this past Saturday’s post-game of the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, really got my attention.

After a 6-0 victory by the Canadiens, Campbell congratulated Jaroslav Halak on his shutout, then stated a question along the line that it was safe to say that he was the number one goaltender in Montreal right now.

I couldn’t believe she asked that, and from what I saw on Twitter, several were stunned at the question!

Habs-@-Devils-19The Canadiens goaltenders have been under the gun on this issue all season long, and not even a veteran Montreal journalist would dare pose that question to either Halak or Carey Price.

Maybe she was trying to catch Halak off guard. If so, it didn’t work as the netminder shrugged the question off.

In my opinion it was a boneheaded question. For anyone following the Canadiens this season, they know that Canadiens coach Jacques Martin prefers to ride the hot goalie.

Message to Cassie Campbell-Pascal: There is no number one goalie for the Montreal Canadiens!

Maybe she got that update on that shortly after, as she smartly stayed quiet during the John Tortarella post-game scrum.


Meanwhile back in Habs land, the debate amongst fans, as to who is the number one goalie, continues to roll on.

The Slovak-born Halak currently edges out Price in all statistics, and is fourth in the league in save percentage.

The argument for Price is that he has played in more games against a higher level of competition. Halak-a-maniacs can counter that this week as the New York Rangers are not the Carolina Hurricanes, and the New Jersey Devils, whom he beat Friday, are certainly not the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Many will say too that the Canadiens have a potential 1-2 combo similar to a Moog-Fuhr in Edmonton, or dare we say Roy/Hayward with Montreal in the late eighties.

Debate all you want as to which one becomes the Hall of Famer of the duo, or if it’s fiscally possible for GM Bob Gainey to sign both potential RFA’s, and keep them both happy splitting with sufficient playing time.

HABS-@-Sabres-03.thumbnailFor the time being, it appears Halak is the one willing to step up to the plate. Regardless of that, Jacques Martin does not have a full-time number one and makes the final decisions on who starts and who doesn’t.

Something I’d like to see: Halak has yet to start a game coming off a loss. It would be nice to see how he bounces back from a defeat, rather than sit on the bench.

More Halak/Price Arguments from the CBC: HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman feels this may be the right time to trade Carey Price.

A few other Habs related stories can be found in his 30 Thoughts section further down the post.

…and a response to Mr. Friedman: From Lions in Winter.

So Who’s the Real #1? : Dave Stubbs, of the Montreal Gazette, has a feature column showing that Halak is the better number one, for time being. Stubbs points out that Martin’s decision on the goalie, against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, is a no-brainer on paper. Halak is 4-0 lifetime against Florida.

Team Slovakia Weighs In: The debate can go world-wide thanks to this tweet from The Sporting News’ Craig Custance:

“Just spoke with Slovakian GM Peter Bondra. He joked that, the way Jaroslav Halak is playing, he wishes the Olympics started tomorrow.”

Update: Thought everyone had their say, but here comes the Gazette’s Jack Todd.

Game action photos (Halak and Price): HabsInsideOut

Thursday, January 21, 2010

10 Things Georges Laraque Can Do in His Free Time


Just me, or is there something odd with this picture?

With the Canadiens reliving Georges Laraque of his duties, the big guy might have a lot of free time on his hands.

That in mind I put together a Top-Ten list with some suggestions. Keep in mind, I’m no Letterman, nor do I make Letterman money, so keep that in mind when you read this. You get what I don’t get paid for.

The Top-Ten Things Georges Laraque Can Do in His Free Time

Heeeeere we go….

10. Work as a doorman at Chez Paree.

9. Write a book on how to score goals for the Canadiens “One in 61.”

8. Just for fun, hold the next PETA chapter meeting at a butcher shop.

7. Take lessons on fighting Cam Janssen from Carey Price.

6. Get Vince McMahon’s phone number. If Rodman can wrestle, so can I!

5. Do a beverage commercial, with scantily clad women, without thinking of the repercussions… No wait, done that!

4. Open a McDonald’s and start a new catch-phrase “Would you like tofu with that?”

3. Look up Ferguson, John to learn what a real Habs enforcer was like.

2. Yoga! Yoga! Yoga!

And the number one thing for Georges Laraque to do….

1. Debate MMA star Brock Lesnar on his recent opinions on Canadian health care, cause you know he won’t fight him….That damn code!

Habs Buy Out Laraque: Adieu Big Georges, Thanks For……


Well I was going to discuss Carey Price’s “George Jones” impression last night, after the Montreal Canadiens goaltender didn’t speak to the media after Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis, but I found bigger fish to fry.

What a big one it was Thursday morning, when the story broke that the Canadiens heavyweight Georges Laraque from his contract.

Laraque was in his second year of a three-year, $4.5 million deal, and will be paid for the remainder of the 2009 season, when he is officially bought out. As part of the buy out, he will receive two thirds of his 2010-11 salary paid over two seasons.

image Laraque was the first to respond, telling TSN that he learned of the buyout on his way to Canadiens practice via phone call from GM Bob Gainey.

Laraque called the move classless, given the emotional stress he was under with the tragedies going on in Haiti, and called out coach Jacques Martin as being behind the move.

He went on to say that Martin had not discussed any of his issues with him personally.

“Jacques Martin doesn't like me and doesn't believe in toughness,” Laraque said. “To do this in the midst of all I'm dealing with in Haiti, the timing is awful. Needless to say, I'm very disappointed.”

Both Gainey and Martin voiced their side to the story at the team’s practice facility in Brossard.

Gainey states that he “met” with the enforcer, and told him the decision was made due to lack of productivity on Laraque’s part and that he was a distraction to the team.

Trading Laraque, or putting him on waivers, was ruled out by Gainey due to a no-movement clause in his contract.

Gainey went on to define the type of player he thought he was getting when he signed Laraque, based on players he’d seen before him.

“My view of a player in that roll, and is how they can be productive, and bring confidence and a comfort level to their team. Drawing away from your team is not productive.”

He also stated that the decision to release him were made prior to the Haiti earthquakes. Laraque had claimed that he was asked by the Canadiens if he needed some time off over the situation.

Like any business, an employee who experiences a close to home tragedy, won’t be fired the next day. It’s just not classy, Georges.

image Laraque visits  a donor at the Canadiens annual Blood Drive

Gainey also discussed Laraque’s infamous code when it comes to fighting.

“I don’t have a copy of George’s code, I think the code is ‘It’s your teammates that' you’re hear for’. It isn’t your code, it’s our code.”

Martin added that it was not a personal decision, but a team one.

image Laraque, at a Montreal Canadiens Children’s Charities event, in 2009.

“I don't have anything personal against Georges and I appreciate what he did for the organization, but we've decided to go in a different direction," Martin said.

"It's a hockey decision.  We felt that he was not helping our team to win games. The Red Wings, I don't think they have an enforcer and they've won some Cups. It depends on your team and where you are at in your development. The game has changed and speed has become a major factor.  It's nice to have, but it's not a necessity as some teams have proven."

“I’ll never forget the support of that fans,” a calmer Laraque told the Montreal media later Thursday afternoon, after he stopped by the team’s practice facility, to say good-bye to his teammates and wish them well for the rest of the season.

“I was proud to be putting the jersey on and been given the chance to play in front of my friends and family in Montreal.”

Canadiens to part ways with winger Laraque Georges Laraque speaks to the media after being bought out by the Canadiens

“I wish I know what ‘distraction’ means”, he added. “I always had a positive attitude, and never been a negative person, or done things to embarrass the team.”

Laraque then cited his accomplishments in the community since joining the Canadiens.

There is no question that Georges Laraque’s charitable endeavors are always there. He was always available when called on for team-related events, as seen in some of the photos seen here.


George Laraque leaves the Canadiens Brossard practice facility – AP photo

Nor did we hear any associations with criminal elements, or late-night partying in Montreal on his part…

Ok yes there was that controversial beverage drink commercial, but Laraque had his name pulled from that shortly after.

The distraction was, as Gainey noted, in his lack of productivity in his element on the ice.

In two seasons with Montreal, Laraque played 61 injury riddled games and logged in 89 penalty minutes and just five points.

Now he’s no sniper, but throughout his career Laraque was always in double digits in scoring. He even admitted embarrassment that it took until last week to register his first goal with Montreal.

Georges Laraque appeared off to a positive start in the Canadiens season opener

Laraque had 13 major penalties in his two seasons in Montreal. He had 15 in 71 games with the Penguins in 2007-08, but had over 140 penalty minutes. Clearly he was more of a presence then, even in light of the instigator and third-man-in rules of today’s NHL.

image Laraque tries to talk up the Bruins Milan Lucic into a round of fisticuffs in  November 2008. Lucic declined.

His refusal to drop the gloves when needed, or stir up the pot with a big hit finally wore it’s toll with Gainey and co. Sunday’s game against New York, where Josh Georges and Benoit Pouliot had to fend for themselves, was the final straw.

Laraque says he’ll be back in the NHL in due time. The question is, who’ll want him? Well,I think we might know one guy.

Remember when?: Laraque’s frustrations in Montreal stem back to February of 2009. At that time, he reportedly requested a trade in response to then Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau’s “limited use of his skills”.  Ironically Carbonneau acknowledged that a team needs to be tough at times. Laraque later retracted some of his comments.

Classy update: In an exchange of emails this afternoon/evening with CJAD’s play-by play man  Rick Moffat, I learned that Laraque told the media that he never called the Canadiens classless as reported earlier.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blues 4 Canadiens 3 (OT) : Early Jump Denies Habs Two Points


Andy McDonald scored 3:19 into overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

The loss gives the Canadiens a single point, but leaves one on the table, as the battle for an Eastern Conference playoff berth continued.

The Blues jumped to an early lead, on the power play, when David Perron deflected a point shot in front of Carey Price at 2:57.

Veteran Paul Kariya put St. Louis up by two, at 3:35, cashing in on a rebound that Price couldn’t handle, and banking it off his pads.

Feeling the pressure of the Montreal fans early, the Canadiens netminder then took things into his own hands.

Price was flattened while playing the puck, by Can Janssen, and with no Georges Laraque playing, peeled off teammate Roman Hamrlik to get at the Blues’ enforcer.




e39c6bd363772566dbadda5f68213deae Price’s frustrations put him back in the crowd’s favour. It also got the attention of Blues’ goalie Ty Conklin, who crossed the red line to confront his counterpart and drew a minor penalty.

The incident motivated the Canadiens briefly, as Benoit Pouliot scored on the ensuing power play to put them within one.

# 51 - Canadiens vs. Blues - January 20, 2010 - 20-01-2010 - Montreal Canadiens - Photos The momentum died quickly, when Alex Steen took advantage of a poor back check by Scott Gomez and put a rebound into a wide open net at 19:47.

Price didn’t let the two goal deficit, or the lack of effort in front from his team, phase him through the second period, coming up big on the Blues scoring opportunities.

St. Louis had an opportunity to break the game open, with a 1:16 two-man advantage, late in the the period, but the Canadiens and their goalie shut them down.

Montreal’s momentum from the end of the second period carried into the third, putting pressure on Conklin and keeping the Blues to just one shot through the first 10 minutes.

The Canadiens got within one when a St. Louis turnover found the stick of Gomez, who set up Pouliot for his second goal of the night at 9:11.

The Canadiens persevered and with Price pulled, a point shot from Jaroslav Spacek deflected off the stick of Gomez, forcing overtime with just 33 seconds to go.

In overtime, Conklin continued to work his magic, denying the Canadiens Andrei Markov point blank.

Kariya then took a Canadiens turnover and fed McDonald, who fired a laser over Price’s blocker for the win.

St. Louis 5-3-1 under new coach Davis Payne, who took over when Andy Murray was fired on Jan. 2.

The Canadiens stay at .500 (23-23-5) for 11th in the conference, and head to New Jersey for a Friday encounter with Martin Brodeur and the Devils.

Three Stars: 1. T.J. Oshie 2. David Perron 3. Benoit Pouliot

Goalies: Mtl – Price (L) 4 GA 28 SA StL – Conklin (W) 3 GA 38 SA

Where’s Carey?: CJAD reports that Carey Price was not available to the media post-game.

Photos: Montreal Gazette, Canadian Press,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Habs Talk Radio from The Land of Blue and White

image Not just one, but two topics of interest on the Montreal Canadiens, on Tuesday, from Toronto-based FAN590. Surprisingly neither involved Habs-bashing.

First up, University of Montreal Theology professor, Olivier Bauer  (pictured above) talked about his book, and class that is taught bi-annually, “La Religion du Canadien de Montreal.”

Professor Bauer has been featured on this topic in the past in the Montreal Gazette and on TVO’s “The Agenda” (seen below).

Uncle George talks to the Bobcat: Former Canadiens owner George Gillett talked to FAN590’s flagship Primetime Sports’ Bob McCown about his former asset.

The former owner, always a favourite on the show, told Primetime that he is still an avowed fan of the team and the city of Montreal.

image Gillett still follows the Canadiens faithfully, TiVo’ing when he has to, despite no longer having any financial commitments to the team. His family still has an apartment in Montreal, but Gillett said he has only attended the Centennial game since the sale to the Molson brothers.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Canadiens Weekend of Woe

Two games, two losses for the Montreal Canadiens. This team really knows how to start it’s fans  week off on a good note, eh?

Had these games been at least close, or against a top-four team, one could say “A for effort”, or “at least we stayed in it”.

In the case of these two games, it certainly wasn’t the case.

Last I checked, a regulation NHL hockey game is played in three twenty-minute periods. Maybe the Canadiens were erroneously given a rule change contrary to that fact, twice!

In Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators, I’d say they were there for maybe half of it, and I’m being generous.

image Carey Price’s performance was clearly not his best, in light of what coach Jacques Martin said post-game. What was essentially brushing off the media, after the loss, was also clearly not the actions of a number-one goaltender, win or lose.

Martin was right on one thing, they were beaten on special teams.

Benoit Pouliot’s cough-up with the Man advantage to an all-time Habs killer (Daniel Alfredsson) was a mistake more commonly seen in a beer league game, believe me I know, and should not happen at the NHL level.

image Ottawa played an effective game for 60 minutes, blocking shots, shutting down the open lanes and throwing out hits. Not to mention Mike Brodeur played like distant cousin Marty.

Montreal, in the meantime, must have thought they were bakers, making 30 turnovers in the game.

It was a game where the Senators wanted the win, and the Canadiens clearly did not, and when you see that Georges Laraque logged over nine minutes for Montreal, you know there’s a problem.

image Moving on to Sunday’s game against the Rangers.

I’ll be honest, I was away from the tube on Sunday, so I relied on updates off my Blackberry and replays later that evening.

Before the game, I tweeted the following, “#gohabsgo Need a solid 60 out of the #Habs tonight.”

After checking the score after 20 minutes, it appeared they were off to a solid start, 2-0 Habs.

But after 40 minutes, 3-2 Rangers with yet another shorthanded goal in the mess. That’s two shorthanded goals in two games, equaling their total allowed in the first 48 of the season.


If that wasn’t bad enough, the Rangers outshot the Canadiens 15-2 in the second period, and Montreal was held to just four over a 26 minute span.

A too-many men penalty didn’t help things either, and can someone tell me why Pouliot and Josh Georges were out there fighting?

image image

Final score, 6-2. A game dominated by the Rangers in every almost facet of the game, notably the faceoff circle (31-20). Six New York players were +3.

At least the Habs’ bakery took the night off, just two turnovers.

Martin summed it up this way post-game, and my comments are in parenthesis.

"We played a strong first period, and then we gave it away (Ya think?). We had turnovers (well not really, just 2) and a lot of bad play selection (Yeah I’d drop the giveaway play on the PP, not working). I think it’s a matter of us playing the type of hockey we are capable of (tick tock tick tock). If we play like we did in the first period for all three periods, we’d be alright. (Heard that before, Jacques)"

So two straight four point games, against the kind of teams Habs GM Bob Gainey said they had to take head-on and two losses. The team walked away with nothing to show for it, not even a shred of dignity, and currently sitting in ninth place.

2009-10 Standings - CONFERENCE

With just 32 games to go, the Montreal Canadiens are now in a shape-up, or book your late April tee-times now situation.

The good thing for the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge is that they play in the Eastern Conference, as The Hockey News’ Ryan Dixon points out.

James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail has set the bar for the Eastern Conference playoff seeds at a very generous 89 points. That said, the Canadiens would have to go 19-12-1 the rest of the way to clinch a spot.

Of the remaining 32 games, all but six are against Eastern Conference teams. Twenty-two of those games are against the top thirteen teams with five of them against the top-four.

With 5th to 13th separated by just eight points, that leaves 17 very crucial one-to-one matchups against teams still in contention for the NHL’s second season.

If The Canadiens work ethic from this past weekend is any indication however, season over at around 9:35 EST on April 10, barring an OT and shootout.

Photos: Getty Images/

Master Plan Failure?: CJAD’s Abe Hefter thinks Bob Gainey’s master plan is lacking consistency.

The Gods Are Angry: Apparently the Montreal Hockey Gods are not impressed by the weekend’s performance, taking their toll on Canada’s west coast, as attested to by Hockey54’s Dennis Kane.

Underachieving Numbers: A nice compilation by HIO regular “Chuck” who came up with this:

“Just finished doing some number crunching with goal-scoring for all teams, through January 17th (722 games played x 2 teams/game = 1444 team games)

  • A team scoring 4 or more goals in a game: .681 win% (326 wins in 478 times that it's happened)
  • A team scoring exactly 3 goals in a game: .597 win% (200 wins in 335 times that it's happened)
  • A team scoring exactly 2 goals in a game: .294 win% (96 wins in 326 times that it's happened)
  • A team scoring exactly 1 goal in a game:  .057 win% (13 wins in 225 times that it's happened)

And of course, if you score 0 goals your win% = .000 (0 wins in 80 times that it's happened)

Average it out, and if you score under 4 goals in a game, the league-wide win% is only .319 (309 wins in 966 times that it's happened)

As for the Habs:

  • Scoring 4+ goals in a game: 12 wins in 13 games = .923 win% (vs. .681 league average)
  • Scoring 3 goals in a game: 6 wins in 10 games = .600 win% (vs. .597 league average)
  • Scoring 2 goals in a game: 5 wins in 15 games = .333 win% (vs. .294 league average)
  • Scoring 1 goal in a game: 0 wins in 8 games = .000 win% (vs. .057 league average)
  • Scoring 0 goals in a game: 0 wins in 4 games = .000 win%

In other words, the Habs have just a .297 win% when scoring fewer than 4 goals in a game (vs. the .319 league average). However, they outperform the rest of the league's winning percentage when they score 2 or more goals per game. The main problem is that they've scored 1 or fewer goals in 12 of 51 games (23.5%) while the league as a whole has scored 1 or fewer goals in 305 of 1444 team games (21.1%)

Our problem really isn't goaltending. What the Habs need to do is cut down on the number of games where they score 1 or fewer goals.

Of course, the other (unreasonable) alternative is to expect the goalies to start racking up the shutouts.”


Third Star for Latendresse: Ex-Hab Guillaume Latendresse was named the NHL’s Third Star of the week. He had a four-point night earlier in the week, and a hat-trick Saturday night. Latendresse was left off the score sheet in the Wild’s other game, as they were shut out by Second Star Steve Mason of the St. Louis Blues.

AHL All-Stars Show They Got Skilz: The AHL All-Star Skills challenge goes Monday night in Portland, (TSN), with the game going on Tuesday. Habs prospects P.K. Subban and Cedrick Desjardins will represent the Canadian AHL All-Stars.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sens/Habs Pre-Game Chat today at 2pm EST

Thought I'd try something new this week.

A live discussion on tonight's game between Ottawa and Montreal.

Be patient as this is my first attempt! :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Habs Win 5-3 over Stars with Laraque’s “Miracle” Goal


The rust may have shown, but the Montreal Canadiens pulled out a 5- victory over the Dallas Stars Thursday night.

Montreal’s defense looked sleepy on several occasions and allowed the Stars to have several odd-man rushes, much to the disconcert of coach Jacques Martin.

Capitalizing one of the Canadiens’ defensive lapses, Toby Peterson moved in on a 2-on-1, beating Carey Price five-hole at 8:52 of the first period.

image Brian Gionta, playing in his 500th career NHL game, got the Canadiens on the board with a power play goal four minutes later.

The Stars regained the lead, on their own power play, when Steve Ott tipped in a point shot with just under five minutes left in the period.

At the 2:51 mark of the second period, Laraque earned his first goal with the bleu-blanc-rouge on his first shot on goal of the season.

CJAD’s Murray Wilson, doing his Amazing Kreskin routine, actually called the goal just moments before it happened.


Georges Laraque scores his first goal as a Hab, and his first since March 2008.

Laraque’s goal could not have come at a better moment, on a personal level, as his thoughts had to be with the people of his family’s native Haiti.

It’s hard to think about hockey when the place where your parents came from is totally destroyed,” he said.

Laraque was uncertain whether or not he would play Thursday and has been debating travelling to the devastated nation to help.


“With all that happened in Haiti, it (goal) couldn't happen at a better time. It  was really a miracle.”

Laraque dedicated his goal to the people of Haiti.

Prior to the game, there was a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the Haiti earthquake, and fans brought donations to support UNICEF.

“Tonight was so special. The support from the fans and the team meant a lot to me,” Laraque added. “That’s why it’s the best thing in the world to wear the Montreal Canadiens jersey.”

Fortunately, Laraque as made contact with family members in Haiti and is happy to report that they are safe.

The goal also seemed to get the Canadiens’ momentum going.

Benoit Pouliot matched his career high mark with his seventh goal of the season at 6:44. It was Pouliot’s fifth goal in eight games since being acquired from the Minnesota Wild.

Georges was working hard, and it finally popped through for him,” Pouliot said. “It got the crowd into it and got us going.”

Veteran Mike Modano managed to tie it up for Dallas with 5:05 to play in the second.

The Canadiens took control in the third period, with a second goal from Gionta, set up by Glen Metropolit. It was Metropolit’s 100th career assist.

Mike Cammalleri put in the insurance goal, at 16:41, with his 21st of the season, taking a stretch pass from Roman Hamrlik, and making a move that will make many a highlight reel.

Despite a slow start, Carey Price picked up the pace in the final 40 minutes, making 33 saves for the win.

The Canadiens slide up into eight place in the Eastern Conference standings and willl face their division rival Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Three Stars: 1. Brian Gionta 2. Benoit Pouliot 3. Stephane Robidas

Photos: Montreal Gazette

Habs, NHL Rally for Haitian Aid - How We Can Help

image The Montreal Canadiens announced Thursday that proceeds from both their 50/50 draws and silent auctions at the Bell Centre, over the next two home games, will be donated to UNICEF to help the relief effort in earthquake devastated Haiti.

The money raised normally goes to the Canadiens Children’s Foundation, but in the already impoverished country’s time of crisis, the Canadiens felt the money can be put to better use in this situation.


UNICEF’s target in the aid effort is the children and women, who are the most vulnerable in times of crisis. Children under 18 make up nearly 50 per cent of the 10 million population of Haiti.

Team president Pierre Boivin is recording a video, that will be played during the games, to encourage fan support.

The NHL has put in a donation of $100,000 to relief efforts, and the Canadiens are expected to make a donation announcement in the coming days and will match the fans donations.


The tragedy hits close to home for Habs enforcer Georges Laraque.

Laraque was born in Montreal, but his parents are from Haiti, and some members of his immediate family were on the island when the earthquake hit.

Laraque spoke to the Montreal Gazette about Tuesday’s earthquake that hit the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

"It’s hard to be here and playing hockey, not knowing what’s happening and not being able to reach someone," he said. "The next couple of days, the next couple of months are going to be tough. … I’m going to be praying for not only the members of my family, but for all the Haitians that are struggling."

Laraque’s relatives are in Haiti for the winter and not having any word from them is the hardest part.

“We've been trying to reach them. We don't know what's happening,” Laraque said.

"When you sit and wait and you can't get a hold on anything, it's much harder than knowing the result. It's lingering, and anticipating that phone call is much harder."

The big winger later added how an incident such as this puts everything else into perspective.

“When you hear something like this, how can you ever complain about anything, about hockey, about criticism, when there are people battling for their lives?"



There are several other ways to donate to help the people of Haiti:






Rogers Wireless users can also donate via text. Just text the word HELP to 1291, and you can instantly donate $5 to Partners in Health, one of Haiti’s biggest healthcare NGOs.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy B-day to Hail Cesare, The Popcorn Kid, Hollywood and the Bulin Wall


While skimming through the SIHR website, I noted that January 13 is shared by a foursome of goaltenders, who’s combined careers span over five decades.

Cesare Meniago (b. 1939) No argument that “Hail Cesare” was an NHL level goalie, it was his timing that was bad. First as a backup to the Leafs Johnny Bower, followed by the Canadiens’ Jacques Plante and then the Rangers Eddie Giacomin. Tough to unseat three Hall of Fame netminders.

image He finally found a home with the expansion Minnesota North Stars for nine seasons. Meniago worked in a tandem with future Hall of Fame goalie Gump Worsley for five of those seasons.

He still ranks second in all-time games played and minutes played in net for the Minnesota/Dallas franchise behind Marty Turco, and is third in wins and shutouts to Ed Belfour and Turco.


Mike Palmateer (b. 1954): Palmateer’s unorthodox goaltending made many an exciting nights for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, in the late ‘70s, and almost got the blue and white into the Stanley Cup Finals in 1978.

image He was also a great playmaker with 32 career assists, and a then goalie record eight assists in 1980-81 with the Washington Capitals.

Did you know?: Palmateer was being prepped for orthoscopic surgery when the Capitals needed him to play in place of the injured Wayne Stephenson. He was sent back to the arena in an ambulance and was ready for the game.


Kelly Hrudey (b. 1961): Hrudey is currently a familiar face on Hockey Night in Canada.

Hrudey was the winning goalie in the “Easter Epic” playoff game in 1987, where he made 73 saves, for the Islanders in their 3-2 4OT victory over the Capitals.

image During his career, he wore a blue bandana under his helmet. It became more noted in 1993 when he backstopped the Los Angeles Kings into the Stanley Cup Final, only to lose to the Montreal Canadiens.

Did you know?: Hrudey was the third goalie for Canada in the 1987 Canada Cup, but did not see action.


Nikolai Khabibulin (b. 1973): The Bulin wall is the only one of the four birthday goalies to own a Stanley Cup championship ring, doing so with Tampa Bay in 2004.

image He is the first Russian-born goalie to win Lord Stanley’s mug, and also has an Olympic Gold Medal and World Junior Championship Gold (both in 1992) in his resume.

Khabibulin is also the only active goalie in the group, playing with the Edmonton Oilers.