Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A whole lotta nothing

Well the deadline has come and gone and Bob Gainey did nothing, not even a depth move, nothing, nada, zilch. As a fan, I am disappointed, I felt he was going to do a little something, address at least one of the needs on this team, but he didn't, nope, nothing, nada, zilch. I am a pissed off blogger, I will keep this short, les boys better win tonight, or I may unleash the fury. BOO!

Confirmed deals...

Calgary reacquires Leopold from the Avs. Taking them out of the Jokinen sweepstakes?

Pittsburgh gets Wozniewski from the Blues for Richmond... minor deal at best.

Tellqvist to Buffalo for a 4th. Help for Miller, who has a high ankle sprain.

Leafs claim Gerber off waivers. Good luck with that Bud fans.

Morrison to the Stars off waivers.

Jokinen to the Flames for Lombardi, Prust and a 1st round pick. Damn, I was sorta interested in Olli.

Montador to the Bruins for Nokelainen.

Recchi a Bruin. Wouldn't be a trade deadline if Rex wasn't moved.

Guerin to Pittsburgh, for a conditional pick, 5th or a 4th or a 3rd depending on how far the Pens go. Bob misses out again.

Carcillo to Philly for Upshaw and a 2nd rounder.

Antropov to the Rag$ for a 2nd and conditional pick.

Confirmed deals...

Calgary reacquires Leopold from the Avs. Taking them out of the Jokinen sweepstakes?

Pittsburgh gets Wozniewski from the Blues for Richmond... minor deal at best.

Leopold back to the Flames

Calgary reacquires Leopold from the Avs. Taking them out of the Jokinen sweepstakes?

Live Blogging the Deadline

Quiet, really, really quiet. A couple of signings, the Sens lock up Kuba, the Sabres Connolly. The only deal so far is Vermette to Columbus for Leclaire and a 2nd round pick. More to come....

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What Will Bob Do?

It's that time of the year again, yes, the wonderfully mad Trade Deadline period. A time when anyone who calls themselves a true hockey fan scours the Internet is search of any and all rumours. Web sites such as TSN, Spectors, Eklund, and the Fourth Period are visited and revisited all in the hopes that a deal has been struck, that the first shoe has dropped, hell even the waiver wire is exciting right now. Up until this point, I am still waiting, it's eerily quiet..refresh, reload, refresh, reload, still nothing.

So what is Bob Gainey going to do? Surely he isn't finished. Schnieder was a heck of an acquisition, one that has paid huge dividends on the powerplay already, but there are still some glaring holes in the Habs lineup. The Habs have to be looking to add a big talented center... Jokinen's name keeps popping up, he is a definite possibility, but he is also a guy that has never played in a playoff game, and has played poorly all year in Phoenix. I'd love to see BG land Tkachuk, he is both physical and can score, the problem is that the Blue's are still in the playoff picture and look to maybe be buying not selling. Then there is Vinny, who was the darling of the rumour world during the All Star break, but Brian Lawton (can he be trusted?) seems adamant that Vinny is not being shopped. Vinny landing in Montreal would be the trade of the century, will it happen? I doubt it, but again, it's that time of the year, anything is possible, salary cap permitting.

Those were a few names for the hole at center, what other holes might Bob try and fill? Defense: I think BG would like to land a big stay-at-home defenseman. The names out there are Derek Morris, Brendon Witt (still suspended, but tough), and Jay Bouwmeister. I think Morris ends up in Boston. Witt I believe can be had, if BG wants him. As for Jay Bouw, every GM in the league is wetting themselves for his service, aside from Vinny (which is all speculation) he is the biggest name out there. I am not convinced the Panthers will move him, they desperately need to make the playoffs and he is their best player. But, if Jacques Martin does move Jay Bouw he is going to ask for the moon, and Jay Bouw is probably worth it. I doubt BG sells the farm unless he has Jay Bouw locked up in a new contract, which is not going to happen. If he goes anywhere it will be Philly, or a team from out of nowhere with an offer which was impossible to refuse.

Any other holes, sure, what about a tough physical forward. The Habs tend to get pushed around by bigger more physical teams, a top six forward who is tough as nails would be a great addition. Ryan Symth might be available, so too Laperriere (not much of a scorer, but grit to spare). Bill Guerin is in limbo, two days ago it looked like he was going to be traded at any moment, things for whatever reason have fallen apart, that said he is a gritty forward with top six capabilities. Gary Roberts (too old) is on waivers, and Recchi (as is the case at every deadline) is also on the block. I could see BG taking a run at Guerin, I love Ryan Symth, but I just can't picture him coming back to play in the East. If Bob makes a move, or moves I bet he tries to land a center or defenceman first, but what do I know?

Ok, sure, those are some names that might go the Habs way, who might be headed out of Montreal? If BG makes any sort of significant move I think the one big piece moved would be Chris Higgins. Higgy was stripped of his 'A' earlier this year, and his offensive game, has well, been offensive. Other possiblities are the Kostitsyn brothers (one or both), Halak (his stock has never been higher), Dandy (he is a goner), O'Bryne, and any prospect (especially on the defensive end). Pure speculation on my part, but isn't that what makes this time of the year fun? Ok, back to refreshing every possible hockey site on the web. Enjoy the madness fellow puckheads!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Early Season Reflections

I haven't written in awhile, life has a way of holding back my words, chalk it up to bed case of writer's block, and the demands of raising a couple of kids. Anyway, yes, this is a hockey blog, not a diary entry, so lets get down to it.

The Habs are off to a blazing start, after last night's 2-1 victory over the Wild the Habs are sitting pretty with a 7-1-1 record, not too shabby. What pleases me the most about the Hab's fast start is that I believe they have yet to play their best hockey. Last year's top line of Kovalev, Plekanek, and Kostitsyn has yet to show the magic that it had the last year, and the powerplay, which was the bread and butter of the Habs last year, is a shell of its former self.

What then explains this fast early start? First and formost, I think the Habs are scoring goals outside of their top line, Saku and Tanguay seem to be a great fit, the third line (although it hasn't yet jelled with the return of Higgins) is always a threat, and the pluggers, although not putting up big numbers, have enough jam and energy to change the pace of any game. Secondly Carey Price is living up to expectations, this kid time and again comes up with big saves at key moments. He has a bit of a bad habit of over-handling the puck, but I believe that in time, he could have comparable puck-handling skills to a Marty Broduer, or at the very least a Marty Turco. And finally, I am impressed with the Habs defence this year, sure I would love nothing less than to see Brisebois sit in the press box and not as the Habs sixth defenceman every other night, but as a unit they have played some solid hockey. Huge props to Markov, who seems to have gone from an all-star defenceman to a Norris Trophy candidate.

Enough about the Habs for a bit, I'd like now to talk a little about the NHL in general. I haven't watched all that many games, and the games I have watched have really only been those inwhich the Habs were playing... but damn is it just me or are the refs really over officiating? Yes, its early in the season, the zebras have their marching orders from the league to call anything and everything, but damn, talk about ruining the flow of a game. Take lastnight's Habs-Wild game for example, the wild were rewarded 3 almost back to back 5-3 advantages... yes most of the calls were legit, but the refs have to swallow their whistles every now and then, just for the sake of the game. The idea that more powerplays will lead to more goals is a myth. Sure if each team has 5 powerplay chances a game, there is a chance that each team, if their units are functioning well will score a couple of goals each, but the Wild had 10 chances against the Habs lastnight and failed to score a goal at all. The special teams guys are a select group, if you have your 10 best guys on the ice for 15 minutes a period, they are going to wear out, it defeats the purpose. Give me an end to end 2-1, hardly any penalties called barn burner any day.

Thats all I have got... oh ya, Go Habs Go!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Off Season

I have kept a keen eye on the off season developments of the Habs and the rest of the NHL, but haven't found, or made time to comment on any of it. I have a few spare hours today so, in an attempt to keep this blog relatively relevant, I will throw my one or two cents out there.

First I'd like to give a little tip of my hat to Bob Gainey for being as active as I have seen him for a long time. The Sundin soup opera, as exciting as it is, has me a little nauseated, all the power in the world to Mats to sit and reflect about his career, and what he wants to do next, but shit, he has Bob and the Habs over a barrel right now. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this is yet another situation where a big named UFA is simply using the Habs as leverage to land a larger contract. Similar to what Brett Hull, Brendon Shanahan, and Martin Lapointe have done in the past. Mats my simply be suffering from a crisis of consciousness, he is as you know an all-time Leaf great, the idea of signing with the Habs may have him questioning everything he knows. It would be much easier, at least on his Leaf plagued soul to resign with the Leafs, retire, or sign on the dotted line with the Canucks, who have reportedly offered him a ridiculously bloated 20 million smackers for 2 years. Perhaps Mats has been adequately wooed by Bob Gainey, the Habs, and the prospect of living in Montreal, but I just have this feeling that Mats won't sign with the Habs, I can't put my finger on why, maybe its because I feel he is still loyal to the Leafs, maybe its because this is probably the last chance for Mats to cash in large in his career, maybe its because its taking too long....shock me Mats, shock me.

I am content with the other moves Gainey has made this year, Alex Tanguay is a big improvement over Michael Ryder, and the addition of Big George Laraque gives the Habs an elite enforcer that they have been so sorely missing for years. Gainey has also been able to resign a number of key RFAs, like Kostitsyn, Halak, and Gorges. The departure of powerplay specialist Mark Striet remains a bit of a concern, unless either a forward like Tanguay or Kovalev, or a dman like Gorges can be fill the void at the point.

So here we are, the Habs are in a sort of void until Sundin shits or gets off the pot. Rumour mongers like Eklund would have you believe that if Sundin does not sign on with the Habs, that Gainey has a plan B, which would be say Marleau, or the artist formerly know as Forsberg, but I believe that if Sundin does not sign with the Habs, then Gainey will stick with what he has got, and fiddle if need be throughout the regular season. I think the Habs still have two pressing needs, the elusive first line center, and a puck moving defenceman that can man the point on the powerplay. Gainey has feelers out for the centerman, as for the dman, well he might have to try to fill that hole with a guy from within the Habs organization, or wait and trade for one later in the season.

Do I believe this team is as good or better than the 2007-08 squad, hypothetically yes. If Gainey can reel in the big fish that is Sundin, the Habs instantly become an early favorite for the Cup, if not, well the talent level of this team is on par with that of last years squad, as to whether it can perform like it did last year well that is a question that is impossible to answer at this point.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Post Sript

Its been a couple of weeks since the Habs hit the wall, had their season end with a resounding THUD. I have digested it all, actually I have been busy enough with life to not have given it too much thought. But in an attempt to keep this blog relevant, it would be best, I guess, that I break the 2007-08 season down. Time for me to reflect on the good the bad and the ugly. So here goes.

On to the positive first. The Habs surprised everyone this year, there wasn't a pundit, however delusional, that expected the Habs would finish a top of the Eastern Conference. I believe that I wrote in the 2007-2008 pre-season that I expected that this group of guys would finish anywhere from 6th to 10th, I was not going to be shocked (disappointed of course) if the Habs failed to make the playoffs. But, but, surprise, surprise, surprise, not only did they make the playoffs, but they won their conference. How did that happen? Lets start at the top; shame on me for questioning Carbo's coaching, the 2nd year man, not only lead a young (not riddled with superstars, by any stretch) team to the top of the Eastern Conference, but he has also received recognition for the job he did from the hockey press, by securing his first Jack Adams nomination. Truth be told I do not believe Carbo to be that shit hot a coach, but then again I don't believe in a lot of stuff, so what do I know? O.k., I put the cart before the horse, I should, if I meant to start at the top, started at the top, and Bob Gainey is at the top of the Habs organization. Gainey it has been said has a plan, he is building, so its been told, a championship team for the centennial season, which if you look at your watch, is next year. If this season is not an aberration, then hell, it looks like BG's plan is working. How, what did he do or not do to make the Habs a contender? First he was brave enough to stick with the youth, the Habs have drafted extremely well in the last 4 or 5 years, and Gainey has made sure that the young skilled players in the organization cut their teeth at the NHL level. The emergence of Carey Price, and Kostitsyn brothers are a testament to Gainey's youth movement. Experience is only going to make this young and talented crew all the better. The veterans, hmmm, Kovalev had a comeback player of the year style season, he was key to the Habs success this year. Roman Hamrlik, Mike Komisarek and Andrei Markov provided stellar veteran leadership on the backend. There was just enough a dynamic between veteran and youth this season to float the Habs ship.

I believe aside from Kovalev, Hamrlik, Markov, and Komisarek (hard for me not to think of him as a kid, but Komi is all growed up), it was the kids that were key to success in 2007-08. The Kostitsyn brothers added a spark offensively and with their speed. Guys like Gorges, and O'Bryne filled important holes in the blueline, and Carey Price gave glimpses that he may be a force between the pipes for years to come.

O.k. enough with the sappy feel good stuff. Why did the Habs flame out in the playoffs? How could a plodding team like the Flyers make short work of a much faster, seemingly more talented Habs squad?
One word, TOUGHNESS! The Habs are too soft to survive the war that is the playoffs. Speed and reliance on an effective powerplay works in the regular season, the playoffs are a different beast. When the line of Smolinski, Kostopulous, and Begin is your most effective line in the playoffs, you can not expect much playoff success. It was far too easy to lean on the Habs, Carey Price was run at will. The Bruins figured this out, and almost stole the first round series, the Flyers followed the Bruin blueprint, and the smaller, weaker Habs had no answer.

The other disappoint was the disappearance act of key players like Markov, Hamrlik, Higgins, and to a lesser extent Kovalev (I believe he tried to do too much). I was also upset that Ryder (who was atrocious in the regular season) did not get a shot in the playoffs, the guy can score goals, and well goals were hard to come by in the playoffs. Perhaps guys like Markov and Komisarek were playing hurt, but the disappearance of veteran leadership was along with the lack of size and toughness the main cause of the playoff disappointment in 2008.

What to expect for next year? I expect BG to add some size up front. Yes, yes, and yes every true Habs fan on the planet has been screaming this for years, but damn it, its what is missing on this squad. The Habs need someone with hands that will sit their arse in front of the net and take the abuse needed to win big games. Aside from added size and toughness, if the Habs young players can continue to develop, the 2008-09 season should be just as exciting as the season just passed. GO HABS GO!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Philly It Is

I will admit that I have yet to become full engaged in the 08 playoffs. I watched the Habs game 7 victory over the Bruins, I was in full Hab regalia, and I even have a playoff bread, but my life outside of the world of hockey is, well, far more exciting at the moment. Why its exciting um, that story is meant for a different blog, so I will not get into it here.

As for round 2, I am content that the Habs are matched up with the Flyers. As much as I believe that the league would have loved a Crosby vs. Ovechkin battle in the second round, the idea of the Habs squaring off against the Rangers had me worried. I think the Hab's speed gives them the edge against the slow plodding Flyers. If the Habs play their game, and if Price holds up, which I think he will, the kid is something special, I believe the Habs can win this series in 5 or 6.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Eastern Conference Champs!!!

Who'd have thunk it? Not this fella, last fall I believed that the best that this team could do was creep into the playoffs, wow, was I and every other pundit in the hockey world wrong. If anyone of us had of predicted that the Habs would finish at the top of the heap in the Eastern Conference, we would have been called delusional, or at the very least uber-optimistic.

Tips of my hat have to go out to Bob Gainey, Guy Carboneau, Alex Kovalev, Carey Price, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, Mike Komisarek, Roman Hamrlik, the Kostitsyn brothers and Mark Striet. There are names left of the list, my hope is that guys like Saku, Higgins, and Ryder can come up big in the playoffs, they as well as those mentioned on my hat tip list, are key to playoff success.

I am worried about the Bruins, yes, the Habs have owned the Bruins all season, and historically, but the law of averages says that the Bruins are gonna win a couple of games at least. Godspeed Les Boys!