For more information regarding our move, please read the two last post published below.

15 March 2007

2 Games, 2 Nights - 4 Points

Hello loyal BBR readers! This is my first post here as a contributor to the site, so I'd like to thank Mr. Blue, Blanc et Rouge himself for the invite.

I'm all about the Habs, so you can expect most of my entries to be Montreal Canadiens related.

Any who, let's get to this.
The Habs have a big weekend ahead of them with two games in two nights against the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Friday and the Leafs in Montreal on St. Patty’s day. Needless to say, the Habs have to pick up at least 3 of 4 points before Sunday's parade.

Furthermore, Montreal cannot afford to lose to the Leafs, let alone give them a point in overtime or shootout. In order to keep their playoff hopes alive, Les Habitants will certainly need to pick up at least a point versus Sid the Kid and beat Toronto in regulation.

The league's leader in points, Sidney Crosby, with 104 in 67 games, has a chance to add to his point totals against the Habs Friday night. The 19-year-old from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia has six assists in three games against Montreal this season, and 12 points in seven games since he began his NHL career last season.

Now, everyone remembers what Crosby did to Montreal, erm, Jose Theodore the first time he played against them, right? Let me remind you: The game was tied after five minutes of 5-on-5 overtime and Crosby had the opportunity to win the game on his shot in the shootout on home ice. If you still don't remember the fantastic move he put on Jose, here's the clip thanks the YouTube. I can watch it with ease by reminding myself that right now, Theo is warming the bench in Colorado.

Some bad news for the Habs heading into the game against Pittsburgh, though, is that they will be without the services of their biggest center, Radek Bonk. Bonk has been instrumental in shutting down the leagues best players for Montreal this season, but didn't make the trip to Pittsburgh thanks to the flu. Without their defensive center in the lineup, Carbonneau will certainly have his hands full trying to find combinations to contain Crosby and friends.

Moving on to Toronto now, the Habs will hope to have Bonk back in the lineup in order to help shut down Mats Sundin. Sundin has been on a tear and is a large reason why the Leafs are getting a sniff at a playoff spot right now. One thing is for sure, the team will need a great effort from Koivu if they're going to win.

It is uncertain, too, whether or not Alex Kovalev will be good to go on Saturday after being diagnosed with Vertigo. The talented winger has trouble keeping balance when he turns his head and it's nearly impossible to predict when, or if, the problem will go away.

The next two games are extremely crucial; losing both would all but crush the Habs' chances of making the post-season dance.

Currently sitting at 11th place in the Eastern Conference, the Canadiens sit two points back from both the New York Islanders (7th) and the Carolina Hurricanes (8th). The problem for Montreal lays in their games played. Montreal has played more games than all the teams they're currently fighting for a playoff spot with, minus the Hurricanes.

Still, Montreal has a chance at controlling their own destiny if you consider that they play two games against both the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers. Win those games and not only does Montreal pick up 8 points, but that's 4 points both the Leafs and Rangers won't have (if they lose in regulation). I know, it's all much easier said than done, but Montreal has proved that when they play their best, they can skate with anyone in the league and win.

Another interesting little tid-bit is that Montreal will renew their rivalry with the Boston Bruins. Of their 11 remaining games, the Habs face the Bruins three times. While the Canadiens will see the games as a chance to gain ground on the final playoff spots, the Bruins will see them as a chance to bring themselves closer to the pack. Boston is seven points back from eighth place, but they hold two games in hand on both the Hurricanes and the Habs.

Until next time, take it easy & Go Habs Go!

2 fanatics have replied:

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

Hey Matt!

Great to have you aboard!

Anyway just a quick note: Do you think the Habs should call up Mikhail Grabovski now that Bonk and Kovalev are out.

Could be nice to try him out now since it looks like Chipchura is sadly failing...

Matthew Macaskill said...

Thanks mahn!

It would be cool to give Grabs another shot, but since Bonk is only out with the flu, not a long-term problem, I don't think they'll give anyone a call. If anything, they'd bring Milroy up again because he'd fill the defensive hole that lacks without Bonk.

As for Chipchura, he'd doing pretty good in the AHL actually. For a guy who's likely to be a very good third line center (that's why the Habs drafted him), he's putting up a fair bit of points. It's only his first full season with Hamilton, so no one is really expecting him to make the jump this season.

Montreal has been notorious for being extra patient with their prospects over the past few years. Thus, guys like Plekanec and Higgins spent a lot of time in the AHL before hitting the NHL. Latendresse has really been the only guy since (I think) Ribeiro to make the jump as a teen. Montreal really wanted a big-body presence, so that helped in their decision to keep Lats around.

Also, I don't know that the Habs want to keep their younger players out of the AHL too long since Hamilton is destined for a playoff spot. The experience would be great for guys like Grabovsky, Chipchura, and Halak if the Bulldogs can go far in the playoffs with their help. Of course, if Montreal does make the playoffs, keeping Kosty up here to play in them would be just as good for him.

© 2007 Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

All Rights Reserved. The content of this blog is the sole opinion of these bloggers and does not represent an opinion of any kind of a professional NHL hockey team mentioned.