Friday, April 24, 2009
Koivu's reaction to Kostitsyn's goal: Another thing that should be on my list! (Photo credit to habsinsideout.com)
O’Byrne, coming down along the boards makes a blind pass in front of the net. But Price is on the bench for the delayed penalty! It’s in! #!$%##!… I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life!
That, my friends, was my favourite moment of this unlucky, albeit unusual, centennial season.
After the loss Wednesday night, I’ll admit I was quite sad. I didn’t want the season to end on a seemingly endless losing streak, but let’s face it, the minute Grabovski laid that hit on Markov a couple weeks back, it was over. Actually when you think about it, it has pretty much been over since the All-Star Break, other than a couple of heroic performances by a certain Mr. Jaroslav Halak, and a few games where we learned what it would be like to have a first line that could really do some damage out there. Instead of dissecting the inexplicable hell that was February, the wishy-washy unsteadiness that was March, and the dreadfully disappointing month of April, I think it would be fitting to list my 10 favourite moments of the 2008-2009 season (in no particular order). Feel free to sound off on yours in the comment section below!
1) Well I think I made it clear above, but when I think of my favourite things, the O’Byrne “goal” tops the list. It provided some much needed comic relief, and although it would have probably been funnier had we won the game, it still tops my list!
2) 2 was more difficult to decide, but I think I’m going to have to go with Carey Price and Tom Kostopoulos sacrificing Josh Gorges’ stick, to try to bring him some goal-scoring luck! Funny thing was, it actually worked (though it took a couple of games to sink in)!
3) I’d have to go with my favourite unlucky jerseys… Montreal tends to be known for its nice classic jerseys. I think that this year after the barber pole striped ones, our reputation has changed!
4) Getting Mathieu Schneider. What a difference a player makes… to the power-play that is. We went from being at the bottom of the barrel to coming up somewhere in the middle. He really helped us out there.
5) Grabovski also getting linked to gang members. Not sure how many of you heard about this… but about 2 weeks or so ago, I saw a news piece linking him to the same gang member as the Kostitsyn brothers and Roman Hamrlik. Looks like they did hang out together when he was still in Montreal…
6) Speaking of Grabovski, (and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner) these comments about Sergei Kostitsyn were probably some of the funniest I’ve ever heard: “I think he is not Belarussian now, he is French because I never fight with Belarussian guys. I don’t know why he wants to fight with me. If he wants to fight, we’ll go in the street and every minute of every day I’ll wait for him and we’ll fight.” Oh Grabovski…
7) Chris Higgins’ hat trick versus the Sens early in the season. What can I say, he’s my favourite player and the rest of the team gave a great showing that night as well.
8) Kovalev returning after his “vacation”. I was really scared that Kovalev would be gone, after watching L’Antichambre, where Michel Bergeron said he could never come back after that embarrassment. I was angry at the Habs. I was angry at the media. I was just angry in general. But thankfully he came back, and it made me really happy, and I think it made most of Montreal happy too. Kovalev may have off days, but he is the talent and one of the prominent leaders of our team. Without him, we’d be lost.
9) I know this has little to do with the Habs, but it has to do with Montreal, and I was there, so I thought I’d include it anyway: The Skills Competition. Ovechkin’s skills competition get-up was really funny, and was made funnier by the fact that it was Malkin, his alleged enemy, who dressed him up. But the real hilarity came from Mark Streit, who when skating, tripped over a wooden triangular blocker, smashing into a million wood chips and falling to the floor himself. He was okay after thankfully but it was just really funny, especially watching it again afterwards, since they were filming his face, and all of the sudden he was gone!
10) Last but not least, I think I need to include Marty Brodeur’s win a couple of weeks ago. Again, it wasn’t a great achievement for us, but seeing Brodeur tie Roy’s record with Roy in the crowd was really an emotional experience. It was also special since Brisebois played his 1000th game that night. Speaking of Roy, his jersey retirement should probably have a place on this list too.
So there you have it: my ten favourite moments of the season. This season has been full of ups and downs, and next year I fear we’ll be seeing a very different team… I really hope not, but re-signing that many free agents will be difficult.
I’m not bitter about this season or angry… It’s tough to win when most of your team is in the infirmary instead of on the ice. It’s also tough when rumours are spread, when players get suspended and when they are linked to gang members. This centennial season may not have lived up to everyone’s expectations. But hey, at least we can say it was interesting.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
They won't be smiling for long. (Photo credit Yahoo! Sports)
posted by habsbloggergirl
“Come playoff time, I guess you don’t have too many friends.”
That sentence was a little gem provided by Michael Ryder, who I’ll admit I miss quite a bit, if not just for his smile and generally positive disposition (though his 30 goal seasons were nice too).
Less than an hour ‘till puck drop, and seeing our good friend Rydes, and all I can say is that the term ‘underdog’ barely even begins to describe the situation the Habs are in. But then again maybe not.
I’ve only been hockey-obsessed since after the lockout, so have only 4 seasons of experience (so to speak) and only 2 of playoff experience (well of the Habs’ playoff experience anyhow), with the third starting very shortly. In those two years we’ve played Carolina, Boston and Philly. 3 teams, 3 completely different stories.
In Carolina, we chased Marty Gerber from the net and led Carolina to discover the invaluable asset that is Cam Ward, who led them to a cup that very year. In Boston, we learned that history means nothing (regular season), but yet it means everything (rivalry). In Philly, we made stars out of Marty Biron and R.J. Umberger.
I think we have to face the fact that the Canadiens are in the business of making stars. And unfortunately not out of our own players. How many francophone players play well against us? How many Eric Coles and Rich Peverlys are there, who aren’t too bad but look like Ovechkins and Crosbys when they’re in town? How many players profess their love of the Bell Centre, while in the visitors’ dressing room?
This needs to end. Right now. BEFORE anyone steps onto the ice tonight. We don’t need Shawn Thornton scoring on us again, or anyone else on the fourth line for that matter. Other teams tend to step up to face us, not necessarily because of who we are today, but because of who we’ve been. I think it’s time we push them back down a step.
The thing is, with Boston it’s different, just like with Toronto it’s different. No matter how bad these teams are (or how bad we are) when we play them, they play like they are number one in the league. And, usually we rise to the occasion as well. No boring games in the cards there…
I’ve read countless articles saying that the rivalry is what will give us a chance. But as Kovalev so eloquently explained yesterday, it’s the media who builds up this rivalry. Not that it doesn’t exist, but it’s possible that it doesn’t hold the value the media believes it does. Anything is possible (come playoff time anyway).
So what does this mean? Will tonight be an evenly weighted game, or will Boston pummel us? Will we play the underdog card, and somehow pull off a couple of wins? As I have mentioned countless times, Kovalev is the key. If he plays to win, we will, as long as Price doesn’t give up too many softies.
One thing’s for sure. Boston’s not gonna give up easily. But let’s just hope the Habs don’t either. All I can say is that they’d better be ready for anything and everything.
Feels like ‘93? We’ll see soon enough.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tanguay and Latendresse were two of the main injuries the Canadiens had to deal with this season (photo credit to habsinsideout)
Why is it that the Canadiens always seem to have to do things the hard way?
This season has been nothing but a series of tests and trials. Injuries, illness, an incessant rumour mill, gang connections, firings, signings, suspensions (for the least likely of candidates I may add), players coming and going, bad stretches, good stretches, bad goaltending, good goaltending, players being “asked” to take vacations…we’ve seen it all. This was supposed to be OUR centennial season. A year to celebrate all the Habs teams of the past, and look towards all the teams of the future. A year to win cup #25 (while improving our Stanley cup winning rate to 25%) – an insanely high number for an insanely storied franchise.
While, at first, we did celebrate and express our joy, so many other distractions got in the way, and somehow we have still not clinched a playoff spot, and there are 2 games left in the season. While fans and players alike are going back and forth in their heads trying to make sense of all this, I prefer to look at it from a “let’s see how far we’ve come” perspective.
First of all, read this list of players: Koivu, Tanguay, Higgins, Lang, Latendresse, Komisarek, Markov, Schneider, Bouillon, Price, Sergei Kostitsyn, Andrei Kostitsyn, Dandenault, Laraque, Gorges, Hamrlik, Brisebois.
And add these names: Kovalev, Halak, Higgins again, Price again, Koivu again, Begin (when he was still here).
These are players who were either injured (first list) or ill (second) at some point during the season. Not one player on the Habs roster has played in all 80 games. Hamrlik and Gorges are the closest, having played 79 each (they each missed only 1 game when they were injured).
Who does that leave? 3 players: Kostopoulos and Plekanec, who both had suspensions this season so missed some games and Maxim Lapierre, who was a healthy scratch for 3 games after saying on TV that Georges Laraque told him that now that he’s with the team Lapierre doesn’t have to try as hard… I’m sure Carbo loved that one (I’m omitting Metropolit, and most of the young guys who haven’t played for more than a few games). Only 3 players out of 20-something guys were not injured or sick at sometime during the season. That is honestly unreal.
They keep saying they shouldn’t make excuses, but honestly losing that much of a team IS a big deal. Just as losing your coach is a big deal, losing a teammate (Begin), having horrible rumours spread about you (to refresh your memories, Jean Perron accused Higgins, Price and Sergei K of partying too much, and went as far as calling Higgins an alcoholic (according to a source quoted on a Puck Daddy blog on Yahoo! Sports)), being linked to gang members (Hamrlik and the Kostitsyn brothers)… These are all important facts to consider… most of which most likely did influence their play. Not to mention the centennial craziness: the all-star game, the almost nightly pre-game presentations, the even more intense media coverage than usual (if that is even possible).
The thing is though, after all of this, they are still here, in the playoff hunt, with two games to go. Even when February hit, the month that could be compared to the Titanic (i.e. colossal disaster) didn’t sink the organization (sorry couldn’t resist haha). Halak won games for us, seemingly playing 60 minutes of 6 on 1 hockey, with a few sporadic goals from the least likely candidates and we got points, enough to get us this far. Without him, all would have been lost, and unfortunately this brings back memories of the 2006-2007 season when Huet got injured and Aebischer got bad… and Halak nearly saved the day. In the second to last game of the season, when Huet was finally back (as Jaro’s backup to give him one more night off), Jaro was pulled in favour of Huet after letting in 3 goals, which eventually resulted in a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers. Carbonneau was the coach at the time, and faced the decision of putting Huet or Halak in the net in the last game of the season versus Toronto. Need I mention that it was a must-win if we wanted to make the playoffs? Carbo went with Huet, instead of Jaro (who had carried the floundering team during his absence). He was wrong. Michael Ryder scored a hat trick that night. Chris Higgins scored 2 goals. But it wasn’t enough. The Leafs won by a score of 6-5 and Huet was never pulled despite letting in 6 goals. I still maintain that he made a mistake putting Huet in that night. Jaro deserved it, and Huet had just come back from injury so wasn’t 100%. He made another mistake when he didn’t pull him. And these mistakes were costly.
All I hope is that Gainey doesn’t make the same mistakes. Price wasn’t the main reason we lost yesterday, but he did not look well. He was shaky, nervous, and fought the puck all night. If he doesn’t feel ready or still feels sick in any way, Jaro should play. He may not have won the last game, but it wasn’t completely his fault either, and it seems that he has consistently been the more confident of the two for the past 3 months. I’m not saying he should play both games, but all I’m saying is that if there’s any doubt on Price’s behalf, he should voice it and Jaro should play. The team at least deserves that.
The biggest problem facing us now is the loss of Markov. With Komisarek still having a tough time, he and Gorges did not make a good defensive pairing. I think that Hamrlik and O’Byrne should be placed back together, as well as Gorges and Brisebois or Dandenault and then Komisarek and Janik. That way it will be a bit more balanced. The way it is now, all 3 pairings made me nervous.
Markov is not just some other defenseman. He is the most valuable asset to our team. I don’t even want to think of where we would be without him… but even more so, I don’t want to think about where we WILL be without him. Even if we make the playoffs, what are our chances, especially since Schneider’s gone too?
The one thing the team has going for them is at least it’s clear that they are able to overcome adversity. All these tests and trials I’ve talking about?… they’ve gotten by them all so far.
All that remains of this centennial season are 4 days, 2 games, 120 minutes, and 4 possible points… There’s nothing more anyone can do at this point but wait. Maybe, just maybe, this statistical impossibility of a gut-wrenching / heart-warming season will be extended.
Hollywood couldn’t have written it any better.