Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Carey and Jaro can clearly get along, so why can't we?! (photo taken from sportsnet.ca)

posted by habsbloggergirl

Goaltending has been a major issue this year, not so much for the team, but for the fans. Never have I seen such a divide between a group of people supposedly wanting the exact same thing. At first, I didn't understand why this was such a major issue. To me, it seems logical to play the goalie who gives us the best chance of winning, and though the identity of that goaltender may change weekly, we are lucky enough to have two able goaltenders, so I never saw a problem with that. Clearly, the majority of fans disagree.

I can't go a day without seeing or hearing something negative about one goaltender or the other, or something that pits them against each other, and to be honest, I am sick of it. Most fans seem to think its okay to badmouth a player, and although they do have the right to their own opinion, I have no clue what it accomplishes. I honestly don't know how Carey and Jaro do this. Or why. And I think that if it continues, one or both will be run out of town (or rather will themselves run as fast as they can to get out of town) and who would blame them?

Imagine being in their position. Would you stay if you had the option of leaving?

I don't want to dredge up the old arguments. We have heard them all so many times before and they are useless. People don't easily change their minds, so no matter how valid an argument is, if they believe something, they'll find a way to counter it. It's not their fault, it's just human nature. I just think that we aren't being fair to Jaro, Carey and the rest of the team. They may have been having a tough time, but at least they were trying. How can we not credit Jaro for being a momentum changer in the last win or for bringing the Slovakian team further than they have ever been in the Olympics? How can we not credit Carey for playing well right after the Olympic break ended or for his great play at the beginning of the season? To me these things are so clear, but I'm 100% sure that as people are reading this, the so-called Halak-haters will disagree with my first question, and the so-called Price-haters will disagree with my second. The worst part is most of the time people don't even realize that they are being prejudiced towards one goaltender or the other. I'm sure I'm guilty of this sometimes too; we all are. But it's important to become conscious of these prejudices, since only than can change occur.

The Halak-haters see Price through rose-coloured glasses, just as the Price-haters see Halak in that way. The truth is, neither are perfect. They both have their flaws. This year, both have been both good and bad at times. It is however not fair to slam them for every miniscule mistake they have made. They are only human after all. I doubt any one of us could have done any better, and although it may be easy to criticize them, who are we to say that the other goalie would have done a better job? There is absolutely no way of knowing that. Stats can only predict things to a certain extent.

People have criticized Jacques Martin for his “win-and-stay-in” policy, and although I think it may put a bit too much pressure on the goaltenders some of the time and sometimes may be unfair if goaltender has a great game, yet loses, I hope he sticks with it for the rest of the season, since I don't think we can make the playoffs any other way. At this point, we need points, so it doesn't really matter who is in nets when we get them. It isn't fair to sacrifice the team's chance at the playoffs to meet the expectations of the goaltenders, the administration or the fans, and by putting one goaltender in for the remainder of the season (unless they win every game), it would be doing just that.

Both goalies are talented and both deserve success. When one (or both) leaves, we'll be wishing we were back in this situation. So why don't we all take a deep breath, relax, try to get along and enjoy what we have while we still can?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Gainey, Boivin and Gauthier at yesterday's press conference (Photo from newsobserver.com).

posted by: habsbloggergirl

I've been reading a lot about Gainey's stepping-down lately, and it seems that a lot of people are concerned about the language debate that seems to be so intricately connected to the hiring of a new GM, just as it has been with hiring a coach, and even naming a captain.

A lot of people, especially in the anglophone and international communities, are really against the Canadiens' (well Boivin's) policy of hiring people only if they speak French, so I thought I would try to give a bit of a different perspective, although I too am anglophone and living in Quebec.

I don't completely support this policy... I don't think it's fair that otherwise qualified people are being denied positions based on their language skills. But, just because I don't think it's fair doesn't mean I don't think it's right. Although I feel this way, I can't deny the fact that we are living in Quebec where the majority of the population is francophone. It is often hard for anglophones to get jobs when they don't speak both languages, but then again, the opposite it often true as well.

The thing is, I don't see the problem with hiring a GM based partially on the fact that he is French-speaking, I see a problem with hiring one solely on that fact (which I don't think was the case for Gauthier, since he is experienced and is already a part of the organization).

Think about it, there is a large amount of both English and French media, and it's a huge bonus for the GM to be able to speak both languages. Most fans who watch these press conferences probably also want to or don't mind seeing it in both languages. Personally, I watch both, and would even say I watch more in French than in English in terms of media coverage and the like. To me the language isn't a big deal because I understand both, but for those who don't it proves to be more of a problem.

As long as the person is qualified (and Gauthier gives us no reason to think he is not), I honestly don't care whether the GM speaks English, French, Chinese or Russian. As long as he does a good job, it doesn't matter, right? Maybe. But all things considered, it would simplify the lives of many people if he spoke both languages; the media especially, but a lot of fans as well.

I think that ultimately if it came down to it, they would be able to work out a way for the GM not to be French-speaking, but this would require more work on the part of others in the organization, and I understand them wanting everything to be as simplified at each level as possible.

We may be seeing this as unjust and unfair bias, but imagine if you were French-speaking only. It would be equally unfair to that person if the guy giving the press conferences does not speak a word of French. We are a bilingual city, so although I think Boivin dealt with this in entirely the wrong manner, I understand where he is coming from in wanting to hire someone bilingual.

Personally, I think he just talks too much. I don't think he should have even mentioned the language issue at all, since there was really no need to. He could have just said Pierre Gauthier was the assistant GM and it just made sense to keep him since he had previous GM experience. But no, Boivin had to go on and on... I think a team president should know when to say things and know when to remain tight lipped. By his behaviour in the past few weeks (saying that Laraque was leaving, that Halak would be gone, and now this), I think that he doesn't know when to keep quiet. He needs to stop talking, because if he doesn't, I think the Canadiens will be in big trouble. Maybe he should take a page from Bob Gainey's book... I think he could really learn something.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


The game's number one star.

posted by habsbloggergirl

So I just got back from my first (and most probably last) game sitting in the Molson Ex Zone at the Bell Centre.

When my friend got these tickets, I was excited! We had actually seen Florida a couple of times in past years, but still, they always tended to be somewhat interesting games.

Tonight was an experience to say the least, but I’d hardly call what happened on the ice tonight interesting. To be honest, it was actually a pretty boring game.... Or rather it would have been, had we not been sitting where we were.

We were actually in the 300-level seats so it was equivalent to grey, which was great, or so we thought. I was at the end of the row, which I liked, although sometimes it’s annoying since you have to get up so many times to let people through and miss parts of the game.

Anyway, the game starts and this girl comes and sits on the steps right next to my seat, and unpacks a bag of signs and Habs memorabilia. Of course, she was one of the Molson Ex people... and had the goal of getting everyone up and screaming. Before she got there, our area was relatively quiet. I mean there were a few loud people and everyone was cheering, but nothing too intense. However, that soon changed. First, the two guys behind me would not stop screaming, booing... you name it, they did it. Second, Molson Ex lady was giving away things to people who were loud, so of course these two guys got even louder. And to top it off throughout the entire game she was smashing around a tambourine (part of the job description unfortunately). I can’t tell you how many times I looked over, wanting so badly to take that tambourine and throw it at the two guys behind me.... and I seriously don’t think I was alone in that line of thinking.

You’d think during the breaks in game, we’d get a break too... but in fact, just the opposite occurred. Every single break was filled with that damn tambourine, followed by more screaming.

It wasn’t all bad... We actually saw Bob Gainey right above us walking (I got a blurry picture!), the goaltending was fabulous on both ends of the ice, and I’m happy my section was a little bit enthusiastic at least (though it went way overboard at times).

Back to the goaltending, it pretty much led to all the highlights of the game. Jaro was amazing, and definitely earned his shutout, and Vokoun did a stand-up job as well, so much so that it could have gone either way. Luckily Pouliot got a goal, because honestly had it been 0-0 until the end I’m not quite sure we would have won in OT.

The rest of the team was abysmal. Markov really did not have a good night (though he did made some a few nice defensive moves (I mean, he’s Markov!) but there were some defensive errors), and Plekanec and Cammalleri looked completely out of sync. Speaking of line #1, during the game, I turned to my friend and said something I thought I’d never say: “I miss Kostitsyn”. Not that I’m not a fan, I actually really like Andrei, and he’s been doing great this year, it’s just that he seems a little space-y on the ice, and I know that he can do even better. However, perhaps I was wrong... maybe this space-iness allows for Plekanec and Cammalleri to have more time (I’m just grasping at straws here), but without him they were the ones who looked “dans la lune”, so I’ll be glad to have him back ASAP.

Laraque was really bad tonight too... It made me miss Kostitsyn (Sergei this time) because honestly, anyone could have done a better job than he did. I still rue the day that Gainey gave him a no trade clause (or a 3 year, 4.5 million dollar contract for that matter). When he came he told us he was a good fighter who would help protect our team and that he also was skilled hockey-wise. I’ve yet to see him perform in either of those categories and the three years are almost up...

The three stars were predictably Halak, Vokoun and Pouliot. Why? Because there was actually no one else. Every other player was either invisible, or doing something wrong. I just hope that we can get our acts together, and quickly. We are very fortunate because Halak and Price have been playing well of late, but that doesn’t give the rest of the team the right to put in absolutely no effort.

On that note, I think I’m going to get to bed since I’m still hearing tambourine sounds in my ringing ears. Hopefully sleeping it off will do the trick, though I doubt it will be erased from my memory anytime soon.

So we’d better hope for some stellar goaltending Saturday night against Jersey... and someone’s gonna have to get a puck past Marty B., and to be honest I have no idea who that will be. We seem to be lacking in scorers lately. Either way, it should be an interesting one.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Markov, ready as ever. (photo taken from rds.ca)

posted by habsbloggergirl

To be honest, I’m a little scared for this game. Terrified actually.

This is the day that our defensive star returns after missing 35 games. It’s the game that can become the 6th in a series of losses, or the 1st in (hopefully) a streak of wins. It’s against the Islanders, who have somehow caught up to us in the standings, but are ahead due to their game in hand. We sit in 12th, only ahead of Philadelphia, Toronto and Carolina.

The past few games have been grim at best. With little secondary scoring, Plekanec, Cammalleri and Kostitsyn are dragging this club along, and Plekanec is particular (due to his heroics on the PK) is showing signs of exhaustion. Our defence as a whole is mediocre (if that), and with the loss of the Hamrlik, we’re pretty subpar. We have taken an enormous amount of penalties. To win our goalies have had to have been incredible, but lately they have only been good. Not their fault, it’s hard to be perfect, and with scores like 3-1 and 2-1 in the past two games, perfection would have been the only way for us to win. We know this, and have been going over and over it for a few weeks. It has been extremely frustrating, and the only possible solution is that someone, or rather some people, need to step up.

On L’antichambre the other day, they said that someone needs to get mad in the locker room. Although that may be one solution, most of our team doesn’t fit that role. Perhaps a better one would be for someone to step up and play their heart out on the ice. Now I’m not talking about those mentioned so far. Plekanec et al. do it every night. I’m talking about Maxim Lapierre, Matt D’agostini, Max Pacioretty... The young guys really haven’t been bringing much to the table lately. I’m also talking about Scott Gomez and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Honestly, most of the team has been a bit off lately.

Markov leads on the ice, no question. But we can’t expect miracles from him. He’s just one player (albeit one player who can affect the course of a game). I’ve always been a bit jealous of Pittsburgh, Washington, LA... with guys like Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kopitar... it’s a little frustrating that they were rewarded for playing badly, but that’s beside the point. They have these “franchise players”... amazing talents. In Montreal, it seemed like we never had one of those uber-talented stars. But I realize that Markov IS in their league, and am quite thankful that we still have him. When Bob Gainey blew up the team this summer, this is one piece I’m thrilled he kept intact. He may not have been 1st overall in the draft (actually it’s a bit unbelievable that he was still around in the 6th round!), but his play in the past 8 years has shown otherwise.

Whether he has a great game or doesn’t, I’m thrilled to finally have him back, because honestly the Habs haven’t felt like the Habs without him. I’m still member of the Markov for captain fan club, and I think no one would do a better job. I also think we need a captain ASAP. At the beginning of the season, when Jacques Martin said not having a captain would work, I knew it was a bad idea. There are a lot of leaders in the room, yes, but without one clear leader, it’s hard for the others to organize themselves. If everyone stepped up in the room it would be too chaotic, and so, though many may want to, no one does, and nothing gets done. Captains exist for a reason, and with our lacklustre performance this season, you’d think Martin would realise that. It won’t solve all our problems, but at least we’d be going in one direction instead ten different ones.

I think we can pull it off tonight. Ending the losing streak now would keep our confidence levels from hitting rock bottom. Markov’s return should give them some form of fuel, and hopefully he can make a difference in the game.

On that note, I’d like to wish him a very happy (early) 31st birthday, and good luck tonight! We’re probably going to need it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Hamrlik doing what he does best: Keeping talented players from scoring goals. (Photo taken from habsinsideout.com)

posted by habsbloggergirl

Every year we think we have it bad injury-wise. Players drop like flies on a daily basis. Last year was out of the ordinary in that department for the Habs, but it almost seems like this year is going to top it.

We have not been having an easy time, starting from day one when Markov went down. We lost (in my opinion) the most important player on the team, and although we did have other capable defenseman, losing Markov was heartbreaking. We not only lost a great player, but a leader, and someone who is greatly respected among his teammates and the fans.

However, our remaining defensemen have played incredibly hard to make up for Markov’s absence. In fact, I doubt anyone would disagree with me when I say that Roman Hamrlik is the Canadiens’ unsung hero thus far. He logs an unbelievable amount of minutes for a 35-year-old, and he plays as though he’s 10 years younger than he is, but with the added bonus of wisdom and the fact that he makes very few mistakes, if any. He almost seems to know what’s going to happen before it does, and he’s arguably the best 1-on-1 defenseman we have. He has a calm demeanour on the ice that most others do not, and you can tell he thinks things through very carefully before he does them, but never hesitates either. Without him, I honestly believe we would be lost; another season down the drain.

It’s strange to me that when Jacques Martin initially picked his alternate captains, he didn’t include Hamrlik among them. But I suppose there are a lot of leaders on the team, and it was a tough decision. It’s strange to think that of the three he chose (Markov, Gionta and Gill), all three are, or were in the case of Gill, injured. Now that Cammalleri wears an “A”, I often worry that he may eventually suffer the same fate (though obviously I seriously hope nothing will ever happen!!). If Hamrlik is the defensive hero, then Cammalleri and Plekanec are the offensive ones, having really dragged this team to their current position in the standings. In fact, it irks me that Gomez’ lack of production is being rewarded by an inexplicably high salary, when Plekanec, who is making about 1/3 of what Gomez is, has more than double the amount of points. And I doubt we’d be able to get rid of Gomez at this point, because honestly what team in their right mind (other than us apparently) would take on a 70-point-per-year player for $8 million a season?

Anyway, another positive this season is goaltending. Now I know that there are A LOT of Halak haters and Price haters out there, and this bothers me to no end. They are BOTH good goaltenders. They BOTH have the confidence of their coaches and teammates. They clearly get along and work well together, motivating each other along the way. So we need to deal with the fact that they BOTH play for Montreal. I don’t understand why everyone seems to think it needs to be one or the other and that there are no other options. People keep talking about what’s best for Carey or what’s best for Jaro... Personally I think what’s best for them is that everybody stop fighting over which one is better than the other... AND I don’t understand why everyone thinks that we SHOULD be thinking about what’s best for either of them in the first place! Instead we should be thinking about what’s best for the TEAM (which they are currently BOTH a part of). They have each done a lot for the team this season, and without them we would not be where we are.

My favourite thing about the 2009-2010 Canadiens is that they rarely go down without a fight. Yes, there has been the occasional blow out game, but most of the time each player plays their little heart out every night or at least gives some effort – something we haven’t always seen in the past. I miss a lot of the 2008-2009 Habs: Koivu, Kovalev, Higgins, Lang, TK. They were good guys, and I especially missed Saku at the centennial celebrations the other night. But, I think we have finally started to move on, and that this group of mismatched misfits is finally starting to forge an identity, something they may have been missing for most of this season. Good things happen in cohesive groups, and hopefully when Markov returns (which I’ve recently heard may be sooner than we thought) we’ll be fighting for our playoff spot (or division title, who knows! Buffalo is only 6 points ahead of us), and showing the rest of the NHL that Gainey’s so-called “chemistry experiment” worked.