Friday, November 19, 2010

Habs hit the wall against Nashville, Weber called up, and other random thoughts

The Habs weren't about to go on a 70 game winning streak, so those of you who were hoping that Carey Price would shutout every team for the rest of the year were somewhat disappointed last night when the Canadiens fell 3-0 to the Nashville Predators. After a four game win streak that included emotionally draining games against Vancouver, Boston, and especially Philadelphia, a lot of people nailed it on the head when predicting that the Habs would run into an obstacle against the Predators, despite the fact that they went into last night's game sitting in 13th in the Western Conference. Grinder Marcel Goc scored twice and former fan favorite and good guy Francis Bouillon marked his long awaited return to Montreal by notching two assists. I can't help but be happy for the guy; he gave it his all every single night in Montreal, never complained, always did what he was asked, and was always there for his teammates. Good on Frankie for settling down in Nashville.

There weren't many positives to take out from last night's lethargic performance, but one of those was that Lars Eller showed up to play. He stood out among all the Habs players despite limited ice-time and his third-line role. On the flip side, considering the way the Habs are using him, Eller shouldn't be the guy standing out among a group that includes Plekanec, Kostitsyn, Gionta, Cammalleri and Gomez. The four of them played a sub-par game-the Plekanec line finished up a combined -8. Andrei Kostitsyn was implicating himself but has cooled off after a blistering start; he need to get back to putting pucks behind goalies for the Habs to continue to be successful. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case way to often this year, Scott Gomez was once again...invisible. I hate to rag on one player, and I hate to bring up the salary again, because Gomez didn't ask for 8 million dollars, it was handed to him; would you say no to eight million?...didn't think so. But Gomez has to pick it up, big time. Six points in 19 games is inexcusable for a second-line center. With Plekanec ahead on the depth chart, Gomez's job is to support the offense, pick up the slack when the first line falters, and make his linemates better. So far, the secondary scoring has come from the third line, the Habs just tend to lose when the first line doesn't score, and no one has been able to stick with Gomez this year-even long-time teammate and friend Brian Gionta got moved away from Gomez, and look at the results: Gionta has 8 points in his last 6 games, all with Tomas Plekanec. So clearly, Plekanec is steering the offensive ship, but Gomez has to be there to help carry the load. And I hate to break it to everyone, but he's not going no anywhere, unless a team is in a desparate positiong and in dire need of an established center. No one is going to bite on his cap hit, especially the way he's been performing of late. So we all better hope Gomez gets his game together, or it won't be easy going forward for the Habs.

Perhaps it's time to give Lars Eller a shot at the second line center position? Maybe moving Gomez down to the bottom six will light a fire under for thought.

Moving right along...Yannick Weber was called up from Hamilton yesterday, and according to the Team 990's Tony Marinaro, the Habs have set up Weber in a Montreal hotel for 30 days. Clearly Weber is going to be here for awhile, but the real question is when will he play, if at all? Is he here to be an extra body in case of sudden injury, or is he here to help provide the offense lost when Andrei Markov re-injured his knee? Or is something brewing in the front office that could eventually lead to Weber being in the line-up full time? Only time will tell; as of now, it looks like Weber is here to provide insurance to the club. Perhaps it was a timely call-up too, as Jaroslav Spacek went hard face first into the boards last night near the end of the game. If he got hurt badly on the play, Weber could see action as early as tomorrow night against the Leafs.

Random Habs' Musings...

- Should P.K Subban have more of a role, a la Markov, like he did during the playoffs last spring? Or are the Habs doing the right thing in letting him develop steadily?

- Do the Habs have enough right now to survive on the blue line, or will a replacement for Markov need to be acquired from outside the organization? If so, who?

- Should the Habs give Max Pacioretty a shot on the second line, to not only try and spark the offense but to see if Patches can back up his words? Or are they better off leaving him in Hamilton for the time being?

- Should Carey Price continue playing this many games, despite the risk of him burning out in the playoffs? Or is it time to start giving Alex Auld some more action?

- Should Travis Moen really be growing a moustache? I understand that its for a good cause, but blond moustaches just look...awful. It looks like a yellow cat is living under his nose...just putting that out there.

Don't forget to vote for your Habs to represent Montreal at the 2011 All-Star game! Gionta and Cammalleri are on the ballot, but make sure you write-in the guys who got left off, like Plekanec and Price!

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