Tag:Montreal Canadiens
Posted on: November 29, 2011 2:46 pm
 

The Habs could get D Markov back on Wed.

By Brian Stubits

The Montreal Canadiens might be getting a very key piece to their puzzle back in the lineup on Wednesday.

According to RDS.cathe Habs could have their top defenseman, Andrei Markov, back for Wednesday's game against the Anaheim Ducks. The report states (starting to wish I took French instead of Spanish, but Google translator is amazing) that Markov was skating with Alexei Emelin in practice on Tuesday.

Markov has not played since Nov. 13 of last season when he suffered a knee injury after falling awkwardly into the boards. The last time Markov played a full -- or close to -- season was 2008-09 when he had 12 goals and 52 assists in 78 games. The Habs would love to have that kind of production back on the blue line.

Over the offseason, the Canadiens, short on defense, inked the veteran to a three-year deal worth $5.75 million per season.

Without Markov and other members of an injury-riddled defense corps, they have been forced to rely on a lot of unproven young defenseman. Thanks in part to Carey Price behind them, the Habs rank ninth in the league in goals against. But it's the offense they would really love to get back from Markov.

After that epically bad beginning to the season, the Canadiens have smoothed things out and are now quietly floating just off the radar in the Eastern Conference. If Markov can give them the same production he used to, perhaps they won't be as quiet any more.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: November 28, 2011 7:51 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 8:01 pm
 

Habs' Max Pacioretty suspended three games

By Brian Stubits

There wasn't much question of if, but how many games would Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty would get for his hit over the long weekend on the Penguins' Kris Letang.

Turns out the answer is three games.

This might be the best and most descriptive video that Brendan Shanahan has issued in his tenure and time of doing these explanatory videos. As he details, Letang risked taking a big hit himself by crossing through the ice with the puck on his stick, but shouldn't have expected a hit to his head like that.

On the play, Letang suffered a broken nose and left a bloody pool on the ice. Shanahan has explained multiple times that any injury resulting from a hit will weigh into the decision. That was certainly a contributing factor here, too.

There were a lot of factors that Shanahan considered on this hit. Of the many, one was that the position of Letang's head didn't change significantly when he shot the puck and thus the onus being on Pacioretty to avoid making the head the principal point of contact.

Pacioretty will be unavailable for the team's California trip, with stops in Anaheim, San Jose and Los Angeles.

More NHL Discipline News Here

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Posted on: November 26, 2011 10:37 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 11:38 am
 

Pacioretty, Letang and controversy in Montreal

By: Adam Gretz

How do you know when a game has questionable (or, let's be honest about it, bad) officiating? When both teams have a legitimate gripe that they were robbed, which is kind of what unfolded in Montreal on Saturday night.

Late in the third period of Pittsburgh's 4-3 overtime win over the Canadiens, and just minutes after Jordan Staal tied the game, scoring on a breakaway off the bench, Montreal's Max Pacioretty hit Kris Letang coming across the middle of the ice with what appeared to be an elbow to the face, resulting in a pool of blood on the ice.

There was no penalty called on the play, though Pacioretty will be hearing from the NHL on Monday for this hit.




If that wasn't enough controversy for one night, Letang managed to return to the game for the overtime period and scored the game-winning goal. It was one that left the Canadiens and their fans absolutely livid.

As Pittsburgh's James Neal drove to the net and managed to get a backhand shot on goal, Montreal goaltender Carey Price appeared to have the puck secured underneath his leg, only to have the Penguins continue to dig and poke at the puck while the referees didn't blow the whistle, even though it easily could have been (and perhaps should have been) stopped given how Price had the puck secured.

It was eventually worked free and Letang was there waiting to deposit it into the empty cage. Price responded by breaking his stick off the goal post and then launching it across the ice. It had to be a frustrating moment, given how well he played throughout the game, stopping 38 shots, some of them in spectacular fashion.



And that's the kind of night it was in Montreal.

The fact it was Pacioretty that delivered the hit on Letang instantly resulted in a discussion about last season's incident involving him and Boston's Zdeno Chara, and how critical the Montreal forward was of the league for not suspending Chara for driving him into the turnbuckle along the benches at the Bell Centre. (It should be pointed out that Pacioretty apologized to Letang after the game for Saturday's hit). And that comes just one day after Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby was criticized by Ottawa's Nick Foligno for elbowing him in the head during a scrum around the net after Crosby called for the banishment of head shots over the summer as he recovered from a concussion.

Crosby spent most of his post-game interview on Saturday answering questions about Foligno's comments the night before, while he defended his actions the night before and pointed to the Pacioretty hit on Letang as the type of play the NHL should be looking to eliminate.

Chaos.

There are so many questions that, at this point, remain unanswered: Why was Paciorrety not penalized? Will the league step in and offer punishment after the fact in the form of a fine or suspension? Why did the refs not stop the play that Letang ultimately scored on? What game were referee's Mike Hasenfratz and Dan O'Rourke watching, and was it as good as the one taking place on the ice in Montreal?

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: November 23, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 2:37 pm
 

How will Sabres respond to Lucic, Bruins?

Lucic1By: Adam Gretz

The last time the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins met we watched as Milan Lucic plowed through Ryan Miller, sparking a debate as to whether or not goalies should be "fair game" when they venture out of their crease to play the puck (according to the current NHL rules, they're not). The play even resulted in the topic of goalie protection being a last-minute addition to the agenda of the general managers meetings that were taking place later that week.

When the NHL decided not to suspend Lucic there was a concern that it meant it would now be "open season" on goalies, a fire that the NHL quickly tried to extinguish. It also left us wondering how the Sabres would respond when the two teams faced off again (as they will on Wednesday night), and whether or not they would attempt to dish out their own brand of vigilante justice. In the initial meeting, immediately after Miller was hit, the Sabres did not respond the way one would expect a team to respond after watching their starting goaltender, and arguably their best player, get run over by a member of the opposing team.

Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff has said repeatedly that the team wasn't happy with their response and that it won't happen again.

As expected, the NHL has warned both teams about any shenanigans that may take place when the two teams meet on Wednesday, but that doesn't mean something won't go down after the puck drops.

Miller suffered a concussion as a result of the play and has not been back in the lineup since, and had some strong words for Lucic in his post-game interviews saying, "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a gutless piece of [feces] I think Lucic is."

Lucic is already expecting somebody from Buffalo to take a run at him, and that's probably a safe bet. In recent years the Sabres haven't been a huge fighting team, finishing 23rd, 27th and 25th over the past three years in fighting majors. Through the early part of this season they're eighth, one spot behind Boston, with 10 fighting majors. The leader in the clubhouse at this point is Cody McCormick with four. Patrick Kaleta and Paul Gaustad each have two, while Robyn Regehr and Mike Weber have each dropped the gloves once.

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It's hard to say how it will all play out, but if I had to guess right now I'd say that somebody, and this would probably be McCormick if he plays (he's missed the past three games), given his size and experience as a fighter, challenges Lucic early in the game and the gloves come off. Hopefully that's the end of it and everybody can move on, but there's a chance, if the referees allow it and can't take control of the situation, that things could quickly get out of hand. The Bruins aren't a team that takes kindly to being challenged physically, regardless of the circumstances, and they've had their share of donnybrooks over the past couple of years.

It's also worth asking if the Sabres might try to return the favor and make their presence felt around the Boston net.

As I mentioned above, there was a concern in the immediate aftermath of the NHL's decision to not punish Lucic that it is now open season on goaltenders, and we've already seen a taste of that in the week-and-a-half since Miller was sidelined. In Buffalo's very next game Jhonas Enroth was hit by Montreal's Erik Cole skating through the crease.

On Tuesday night we watched as Toronto goaltender Jonas Gustavsson left his crease to play a puck behind the net, and was then hit from behind by Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone, resulting in no penalty (click here to watch). When Gustavsson pleaded his case to the official that watched the play unfold right in front of him, the referee simply pointed at the spot on the ice where the Leafs goalie was hit.

Whatever happens, this is probably the most anticipated game on Wednesday's schedule.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: November 18, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Bryzgalov gets to meet Winnipeg

By Brian Stubits

Weekend Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Let's call this the Ilya Bryzgalov tour of fun.

It started with Bryz facing his former team on Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes. His old pals still in the Phoenix red? Let's just say not all of them had flattering comments to make about their former netminder.

There was Derek Morris (no, not THAT Derek Morris) talking about how Bryzgalov gives up soft goals. He even went so far as to say he's glad Bryzgalov is gone and Mike Smith is in. Adrian Aucoin wasn't the most complimentary either.

In the end Bryzgalov got the last laugh with a 2-1 win. Afterward he was only complimentary of his ex-squad.

"It's my former team and not an easy team to beat," he said.

That was Step I, reunion with the team he used to play for. Step II is visiting the city he could have played for, but never would have on Saturday afternoon.

You remember earlier this year, before the Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets, don't you? Most of the speculation was that the Coyotes, not the Thrashers would become the Jets. So Bryzgalov was asked for his thoughts on the matter and considering he's usually always candid, the response he gave didn't exactly sit well with the 'Peggers.

Here is what he said in April.

"You don't want to go to Winnipeg, right?" Bryzgalov said. "Not many people live there, not many Russian people there. Plus it's cold. There's no excitement except the hockey. No park, no entertaining for the families, for the kids. It's going to be tough life for your family.

"I better go to somewhere in Russia, KHL, to be honest. Because KHL is Russian people, it's family, friends. Even as a cold place, I can speak to people in Russian language."

Think the people in Winnipeg forgot about that? Of course not. After all, there is no excitement except the hock ...

Bryzgalov remembers it too, and he did back off a bit on Friday.

"I didn't mean it and I didn't want to offend anybody," Bryzgalov said (from Ted Wyman at the Winnipeg Sun). "I'm pretty sure it's good people, beautiful people live in Winnipeg. I'm pretty sure it's passionate fans. I didn't mean it to be honest. That's it."

Since returning to the NHL this season, the Jets fans have enjoyed once again the art of goalie taunting. No doubt they will serenade the goalie with "Illlll-yaaaa" chants all game long, but they could have just a little more juice in store. A popular Jets fan forum has taken to posting sign ideas for fans at the game. I'm envisioning a WWE event or ESPN College Gameday site with signs all over in the crowd. Make it happen Winnipeg.

Of course, with all of the anticipation in Winnipeg for the chance to boo and jeer Bryzgalov, it will probably be Sergei Bobrovsky that starts.

As far as the game on the ice is concerned, the Jets are playing better hockey these days and have been getting the habit of knocking off some of the traditionally stronger East teams at home. They come into the game against the Flyers -- the top team in the East at the moment -- having won the last two home games, both against teams in the playoffs last year (Capitals and Lightning). They also knocked off the Penguins at home early in the season.

When you add in the absence of Jaromir Jagr for the game and it won't be a walk in the park (get it?) for Bryzgalov and the Flyers.

Back on track

It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Canadiens were in disarray. They were off to their worst start in more than 60 years. Assistant coach Perry Pearn was fired. Jacques Martin seemed to be only a couple of losses away from meeting the same fate.

Since an October 24 loss to the Florida Panthers and the subsequent dismissal of Pearn, the Canadiens have very quietly rebounded. I mean, when have you known the Habs to do anything quietly? They have posted a 7-3-1 record since that game and have climbed within three points of the division-leading Sabres.

The natural connection to make is to see the team has done well since firing Pearn, so that must have something to do with it. While I don't want to completely dismiss the idea -- there could be some credence to the belief that it was a "wakeup call" for the Habs players -- it probably is more coincidental than anything. Montreal just happened to have a rough patch at the beginning of the season.

This is where I caution you not to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. The Canadiens have evened themselves out and are at .500 (if we treat OT losses as ties). Of course, that doesn't mean Martin's seat isn't still hot, it's just not scalding at the moment. He's been passed by Scott Arniel and Paul Maurice in the hot seat rankings.

We will get a better idea of which team more closely resembles the truth: the one that started the season or the one that is 7-3-1 of late. That's because they will go up against arguably the hottest team in hockey on Saturday night. What the Rangers been up to lately? Oh, they're just on a seven-game win streak.

Roller coast of tough love

Speaking of highs and lows, check out the Detroit Red Wings. Talk about a roller coaster of emotion.

The Wings came out of the gate winning their first five games. They followed that up with six straight losses before rebounding with four consecutive wins. Now they have lost two in a row. Pretty amazing for a team to be 17 games in without anything but a streak.

Overall, they have lost five in a row on the road.

"It's tough, nothing that we want to do," said Henrik Zetterberg of the road losing streak. "We have another chance Saturday [in Los Angeles] to turn it around."

That will come on Saturday afternoon against an on-the-up Kings team, 4-1-0 in their last five.

"Do we want to be a good team or not?" coach Mike Babcock said about what will be the subject matter of a team meeting (Detroit News). "Life doesn't just go on good for you. You make a decision it's going to go good for you. You decide for yourself you're going to be successful. You decide for yourself that you're going to make a difference and have a good career. No one just gives you stuff.

"The other teams are trying to. We have to make some decisions."

Ovie debate continues

Alex Ovechkin is drawing a lot of heat these days, and unfortunately for him it isn't over goal celebrations.

At first glance, his numbers don't seem bad (seven goals and seven assists in 17 games) but this is Ovie we're talking about here. Obviously a lot is expected of him.

Right now he is struggling. And, maybe as a result, the Capitals are struggling. Are the two connected? Somewhat. Obviously No. 8 is a big part of the Caps. They especially need more than one goal in a five-game span, such as his current stretch.

So what better place than Toronto for Ovechkin and Washington get find their confidence again? Since James Reimer went down, the goaltending in Toronto has returned to its pre-Reimer state: atrocious. Moreover, Ovechkin has always put up good numbers at the Leafs' place, scoring 23 goals in 23 games there.

It would help ease some of the increasing hysteria in "the nation's hockey capital" if he and the Caps could bust out the scoring stick again in a Hockey Night in Canada showcase.

How much more for Maurice?

That's becoming a popular question in NHL circles right now. Is Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice one or two more losses away from being fired?

Something's gotta give right now in Carolina. The 'Canes have lost six of seven and their star player, Eric Staal, is still struggling to make much of an impression. This was supposed to be a year of progression, not the other way around. After just barely missing the playoffs last spring, the hopes were that the 'Canes would again contend for the postseason as presently constructed.

It would probably go a long way toward calming the panic that is setting in not only among the fans, but GM Jim Rutherford as well, if they handle the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. As you'll recall, Rutherford has fired Maurice before, he could certainly do it again.

We're going streaking

As the great Lou Brown said in Major League: "Gentlemen, we won yesterday. If we win today, that's two in a row. If we win tomorrow, that's what they call a winning streak. It has happened before."

So with that obvious definition in mind, here's a look at the winning streaks in play.

Flyers: As mentioned above, they play in Winnipeg on Saturday and they enter having won three in a row.

Rangers: Also covered, they have won seven games in a row and take that streak into Saturday's tilt against the Habs.

Boston Bruins: The B's also enter the weekend winners of their last seven games and only have one game to play, that's Saturday at the Islanders.

Ottawa Senators: Yes, the Sens have found themselves on another run, winning three in a row. Their lone weekend game comes on Sunday night in Vancouver.

Chicago Blackhawks: Riding a four-game streak, the Blackhawks will have to do the Alberta two-step with the Flames on Friday and Oilers on Saturday.

St. Louis Blues: That's right, that Ken Hitchcock move is working out pretty well. The head to Minnesota having won three consecutive.

Kings: Lastly (boy there are a lot of streaks right now) the aforementioned Kings also take a three-game run into their Saturday game against the Red Wings.

Among the losing steaks, we'll just list the top (or bottom) and that's the Oilers, losers of four in a row.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: November 17, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 1:48 pm
 

Chara won't be charged by PD for Pacioretty hit

By Brian Stubits

The investigation into Zdeno Chara's hit on the Canadiens' Max Pacioretty last season in Montreal has come to a close, and no charges will be filed against the Boston Bruins captain. And sanity prevailed.

From the CBC in Canada:

In a statement released Thursday, Quebec's director of criminal prosecutions says it does not believe a court would find Chara guilty of a crime and it has closed the case.

Montreal police met with various witnesses and concluded their investigation in August after meeting with Chara himself.

Everybody involved in the matter, including Pacioretty himself, wanted this to be done with a long time ago. It stems back to a nasty hit Chara laid on Pacioretty by the stanchion at the end of the bench that resulted in the breaking of Pacioretty's vertebra.

Chara was not suspended for the hit by the NHL (although imagine what would have happened to him if Brendan Shanahan had begun his tenure already). In the aftermath of the brutal shot, the NHL made a change at all the arena this summer by changing the stanchions to rounded glass at the ends of the benches to significantly decrease the chances of another dangerous hit.

Pacioretty remained out for the remainder of last season but has been on the ice from the start of this season with the Canadiens. In 18 games Pacioretty has eight goals and seven assists, blossoming into one of Montreal's better players. Some, mostly in Montreal, maintain that if Pacioretty were available to play in that series, the Habs don't lose in seven to the eventual Stanley Cup champions. But to that we'll never know the answer.

I'm just glad that the Montreal police backed off of this. It's still exactly the reasoning I'd like to see -- the belief a jury wouldn't convict Chara instead of it simply not being a law-breaking incident -- but in this case sanity wins out.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 15, 2011 9:50 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 10:22 am
 

Game after Miller hit, Enroth interfered with

By Brian Stubits

Both before and after it was announced that Milan Lucic wouldn't be suspended for his hit on Ryan Miller on Saturday night, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff prophesized that no suspension would signal it's open season on goalies. Brendan Shanahan called the comment irresponsible.

So naturally, the Sabres had themselves another run-in, so to speak, in their first game with Miller out due to a concussion.

In overtime of Buffalo's 3-2 shootout win over the Canadiens on Monday night, Habs forward Erik Cole made a somewhat reckless play and side-swiped Jhonas Enroth as he skated through the crease.

Normally, this would be nothing to write about. But the game after they lost their starting goaltender and then were hammered for failing to respond? Funny how the fates tempt sometimes. The result of this particular play was nothing more than a two-minute minor for Cole for goaltender interference (of course, Lucic was just given a two-minute minor as well).

After the game Paul Gaustad, who admitted that he and his team should have done more to the Bruins after the Miller incident in Boston, said that moment is something they are now trying to use as a galvanizing moment, saying they are full behind Miller and learned from their mistake.

In the end, this was a pretty minor happenstance, but anytime a Sabres goalie is even sneezed on it right now, it's under a microscope.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 14, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 10:05 pm
 

No suspension for Milan Lucic



By: Adam Gretz


Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic had a meeting with Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's vice president of player safety, on Monday afternoon to discuss the play that took place on Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres when Lucic hit goaltender Ryan Miller after he came out of the crease to play a loose puck.

Following Shanahan's review, as well as his discussion with Lucic, it was determined that the Bruins forward will not face any supplemental discipline.

Despite the calls from fans to allow goalies to be hit when the leave their crease, goalies are not "fair game" when they exit the blue paint. The NHL rule book states that incidental contact may be permitted at the referee's discretion when the goalie is playing the puck outside of his crease, as long the skater makes a reasonable effort to avoid the contact.
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Said Shanahan, via the league's official web site, "I had the hearing because I did make an initial assessment of the play as I do with all plays, but I did have some questions for Milan and I wanted to hear directly from him. They were regarding his intent; at what point did he know there was going to be a collision; and whether or not he felt he had the time to avoid the collision. I was satisfied with his answers."

Lucic received a two-minute minor for charging, while it was later revealed that Miller suffered a concussion and will not be in the crease when the Sabres visit the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

Miller was livid following the game and was brutally honest when it came his post-game comments, saying "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of [feces] I think Lucic is."

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli released a statement relaying his pleasure not only with the NHL's decision, but Lucic not responding to Miller's postgame remarks.

"We are satisfied with the NHL's announcement that there will be no suspension or fine for Milan, and we respect the process that the League took to reach this decision.

"I am also proud that Milan took the high road, and chose not to engage in an exchange of words after the unfortunate comments that were made about him following the game."

The "statement" from Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was decidedly different.

“It just means that teams will be to able do exactly what Lucic did,” Ruff told reporters before Buffalo's game in Montreal. “Your goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over, we can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty.

“That is essentially what that means -- You can concuss the other team's goalkeeper ... it means it's fair game on goaltenders again."

Shanahan wasn't on board with the idea that the decision opened pandora's box on goalies across the league, instead condeming Ruff and the Sabres.

"I think Buffalo's comments are irresponsible to suggest that it's open season," Shanahan said at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "I will have this warning for players: `It's not. If you run a goalie you're going to find yourself in the same situation that Lucic was today, you're going to have to explain yourself and you don't explain it sufficiently, and if I don't buy it, you're going to be suspended."'

The Sabres and Bruins meet again on Nov. 23.

The play has been a hot topic of discussion around the league, and on Monday Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, who coached Miller at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, wondered if the NHL should be doing more to protect goalies. Here's what he had to say from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail:

"It'll be interesting to see the direction the league's going to go. There's no white papers out there to describe that kind of an injury or hit with regards to goaltenders. If it was a defenceman, you'd say that it was a clean hit.

"However, a goaltender's more or less defenceless in some of those situations. They're not wearing the same type of equipment, they're not built to absorb a 250-pound freight train running you over. Whereas a defenceman may. That's the debate that's going to go on in the next couple of days. Should we be protecting goaltenders?"

Wilson's team has been without its starting goalie, James Reimer, for nearly a month after he took a hit to the head while standing in his crease in a game against the Montreal Canadiens back in October. The NHL general managers meetings are scheduled to start on Tuesday, and while this isn't a subject that was planned on being discussed, it wouldn't be a shock if it makes its way into the conversation at some point.

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Brian Stubits contributed to this story

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com