The Canadiens sit alone atop the NHL’s Eastern Conference with 29 points, one point ahead of the Boston Bruins, who have three games in hand. The Habs go head to head with the Bruins Sunday night in Boston, this after the Habs face Pittsburgh Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
THE WEEK THAT WAS
The Habs lost 2 – 1 in a shootout to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. In typical Habs fashion this year, the Habs came out flying in the first period, outshooting the Senators 12 – 5. That, in a nutshell, was the story of the game. Ottawa’s rookie goaltender Ben Bishop stood on his head all night, stopping all but one of Montreal’s 45 shots, Andrei Markov scoring a power play goal just as the second period was winding down to tie the game at one apiece. This just wasn’t the Habs night, for along with the 45 shots, they hit at least three goalposts. Carey Price insisted it was all his fault, as he let in a soft goal on a weak shot from the blue line, from the Sens Dave Dziurzynski. I’m still not sure how he missed that. Regardless, when your team can’t score more than one goal on 45 shots, it’s not the goalie’s fault.
The Habs announced that Rene Bourque didn’t have the flu at all. Instead it was a concussion that he was suffering from. Bourque was unsure when or where it came from. He will be out for a while.
Then the trade, Erik Cole for Michael Ryder. The Habs GM Marc Bergevin showing he’s not afraid of making the bold moves necessary to make the Habs a better team. Maybe this has nothing to do with Erik Cole’s seeming lack of interest this year. Maybe this has nothing to do with Erik Cole’s rumoured feud with P.K. Subban. Maybe this is not the first move in a bigger deal. Maybe this is simply Marc Bergevin, who is known as an excellent evaluator of hockey, believing that Michael Ryder is a better player than Erik Cole. Time will tell. At this point, with the cap savings, a third round pick and Michael Ryder’s no-risk contract, this seems like a slam-dunk win for the Habs.
Wednesday started with the announcement that Raphael Diaz would also be out due to a concussion. This came at some point in the game withOttawaon Monday night. Diaz said he had been feeling dizzy on Tuesday and voila, a concussion was diagnosed. Brendan Gallagher gave up number 73 to Michael Ryder, who has worn that number his whole career, beginning with the Habs back in 2003. Gallagher will switch to number 11; the number he wore with the Vancouver Giants. This number suits Gallagher, as it has been worn by several Habs players who may not have been the most talented players, but all of them were known for their hard work and never say die attitude. Players like Claude Larose, Ryan Walter, Yvon Lambert, Kirk Muller and Saku Koivu.
Wednesday night the Habs took their revenge out on the Leafs for the 6 – 0 drubbing they inflicted on the Habs earlier in the month. The Leafs game plan was to physically intimidate the Habs with the likes of Colton Orr, Fraser McLaren, Mark Fraser and Mike Brown. Brown was thrown out of the game late in the first period for boarding Josh Gorges from behind. In the second, the Leafs Dion Phaneuf went to work, going after P.K. Subban, Brendan Gallagher and Brandon Prust. Prust threw the gloves down and challenged Phaneuf to a fight. Phaneuf backed down and that was it for the Leafs. The Habs ended up outshooting the Leafs 17 -8 in the second period and carried the momentum into the third, scoring three unanswered goals for a 5 – 3 victory. In the end, the Leafs just couldn’t handle the Habs speed and their two-man, high pressure forechecking system.
With both Raphael Diaz and Rene Bourque out with concussions, the Habs were forced to use Tomas Kaberle against the Leafs. They’ve since recalled Gabriel Dumont from Hamilton, Petteri Nokelainen, his back problems in abeyance, has come off the injury reserve and Yannick Weber is chomping at the bit to get in some playing time in place of Kaberele. The Habs keep rolling.