Tag:Montreal Canadiens
Posted on: February 9, 2012 9:42 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 9:47 pm
 

Scott Gomez finally scores a goal

By: Adam Gretz

Finally, the Scott Gomez watch is over.

Riding the worst goal-scoring drought of his career, Gomez found the back of the net on Thursday night against the Islanders for the first time since February 5, 2011. That's more than a full calender year.

At the 9:50 mark of the third period, Gomez, on the power play, blasted a slap shot off of a rebound past Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov for what proved to be the game-winning goal in Montreal's 4-2 win (Max Pacioretty would add an empty-net goal to complete a hat trick later in the period).

It didn't long for didgomezscore.com to update.



We already highlighted the absurdity of his goal drought over the weekend, and when all was said and done he went 124 shots on goal and 1,311 shifts (including the playoffs) between goals, a pretty improbable run for a player that possesses a decent level of skill and has had the sort of career that Gomez has had.

Hopefully for Gomez and Montreal it's not another year until the next one comes.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:48 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 2:30 pm
 

Catholic Church urges Canadiens fans to pray

Let us pray for eighth. (Canadian Press)

By Brian Stubits

This is what is has come down to in Montreal, huh? Praying for the Canadiens to turn things around and make the playoffs?

That's what the Catholic Church suggests the fans try. Hey, at this point how could it hurt?

From the Canadian Press via the Toronto Star:

The Catholic Church placed an ad in Montreal newspapers Thursday encouraging people to pray for an eighth-place finish — and a playoff spot — for the Montreal Canadiens.

The ad shows the Eastern Conference standings with every team listed except the Canadiens. In eighth place, the final playoff spot, it simply says, "Let Us Pray."

Of course, this isn't the church suggesting that prayer is really going to help the Canadiens pull off a near-miracle (at least I hope not), it's more of an attention grabber. See it as a chance for some easy advertising, not Tebow-esque intervention prayers.

Faced with declining church attendance rates, the Archdiocese of Montreal is known for its clever collection campaigns, designed by a local ad firm, to solicit funds each year.

Bos advertising agency calls this ad campaign a one-shot deal; the spots appeared in French-language newspapers this morning.

The firm says it has long been considering an ad that combines Quebec's two major religions — Catholicism, and the secular passion of hockey.

Maybe they should start with the small miracles first: Scott Gomez scoring a goal. Bovada released new hockey prop bet odds (just for fun) and they have the odds at 6/1 that Gomez won't score at all this season.

If this season hasn't been a reminder of how tough a city Montreal is to play in when you aren't doing well, I'm not sure what it would take. This is just the latest instance of a gong show-like season for the Habs.

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

Category: NHL
Posted on: February 6, 2012 1:57 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 9:43 pm
 

Still no timetable for Crosby return



By: Adam Gretz


There was some buzz coming out of Montreal on Monday morning as Penguins captain Sidney Crosby joined his teammates for practice at the Bell Centre ahead of Tuesday's game with the Canadiens. And while it appears that he's inching closer to returning to the lineup, he's still not quite there yet and there remains no timetable for his return.

Crosby said after the session, via Sam Kasan of the Penguins, that he will continue to skate by himself when the team returns to Pittsburgh this week and that he is still not yet symptom free, and that once he is, he will return.

So in other words: there's not much new regarding his status, other than that he practiced with the team as opposed to skating on his own.

In other injury news for the Penguins, head coach Dan Bylsma said that center Jordan Staal could return to the lineup within the next five to 10 days, which would be a huge addition to their lineup. He plays some of the toughest minutes on the team on a nightly basis, and was also having one of the best goal-scoring seasons of his career prior to his knee injury against the New York Rangers last month. 

Forward Tyler Kennedy, who was injured in the closing minutes of Sunday's 5-2 loss in New Jersey, is also returning to Pittsburgh to have his lower body injury re-evaluated.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 4, 2012 1:03 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 1:29 pm
 

A Big Mac helped Olli Jokinen end his slump

By: Adam Gretz

Before he scored on Friday night during the Calgary Flames 3-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, Olli Jokinen had gone 14 consecutive games without a goal. That's a pretty lengthy drought (though, it's not the longest one we've seen in the NHL recently), and one that he was looking forward to ending.

So what did he do before the game to help snap out of his funk? He took some advice his former coach, Wayne Gretzky, gave him four years earlier and ate perhaps the worst possible thing an athlete can put into his or her body before competition -- a Big Mac. Even if he didn't really enjoy it, telling Steve MacFarlane of the Calgary Sun, “You can’t eat a Big Mac meal before every game. It wasn’t that good, but whatever it takes. You’ve got to suck it up. We got two points and can move on I did it for the team. It’s all about the team. A little upset stomach (Friday), but it’s all good.”

It's probably a safe bet that Jokinen isn't one of the NHL players that sticks to the Gary Roberts all-natural, non-processed food diet, but whatever works.

Following his goal on Friday, Jokinen talked about his pre-game meal:



Hey, maybe somebody in Montreal should go pick up a Big Mac for Scott Gomez.

Also at Eye On Hockey

The Scott Gomez goal slump: by the Numbers

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 4, 2012 9:57 am
Edited on: February 4, 2012 9:25 pm
 

The Scott Gomez goal slump: by the numbers

By: Adam Gretz

At no point in his career has Scott Gomez ever been considered to be a great goal-scorer. Even when he was at his peak, playing his best hockey, he was always more of a playmaking center and a set-up man, having reached the 20-goal mark just once in his 11-year career, scoring 33 during the 2005-06 season as a member of the New Jersey Devils.

Still, he's never gone through a goal slump like the one he's been on dating back to last season, having not found the back of the net since Feb. 5, 2011, against the New York Rangers when he beat backup goaltender Martin Biron. He enters Sunday's game against Winnipeg having gone a full calender year without a goal (some fans already have a celebration planned), which almost seems impossible for any player in the NHL, especially one that has a pretty solid amount of talent like Gomez does. And one that is the 18th highest paid player in the NHL this season in terms of salary ($7.5 million) ... and carries the 11th largest salary cap hit ($7.3 million). But here we are, at the point where high expectations, an angry fan base, a struggling player and even a little bit of bad luck all meet at the same place.

That place is called Scott Gomez.

What has to make it even more frustrating for Canadiens fans is that along with the lack of production and huge salary is the fact the team also gave up defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the trade that brought Gomez to Montreal in the June, 2009 trade. McDonagh, of course, has since gone on to become one of the NHL's top shutdown defensive defenseman at the age of 22 and is playing a huge role for the first-place Rangers.

Canadiens fans have, naturally, grown frustrated, and even started to write parody songs, including this one titled, "Scott Gomez Can't Put Anything In."



Just how long has it been, including the playoffs, since Gomez last scored a goal? Some numbers.

58: The number of games Gomez has appeared in for the Canadiens, including 22 this season.

1,277: The number of shifts Gomez has skated since his last goal.

122: The number of shots on goal Gomez has recorded during his slump. This really makes it amazing. You would have to think that in 122 shots an NHL player, any NHL player, pick one at random, would score at least one goal, even by accident. Look at it another way: there are 93 players in the NHL this season with at least 120 shots on goal. Those 93 players have scored an average of 15 goals. Only 17 of them have scored fewer than 10, and 12 of them are defensemen. If he had maintained his career average shooting percentage of 7.8 percent during that stretch he would have scored eight goals. A player that shot at the league average mark of nine percent would have scored 10 goals.

22: The number of assists Gomez has been credited with during his goal drought, which would put him on a pace for 31 over the course of an 82-game season. It's also the exact number he recorded last season in 80 games.

Again, there is no doubt that Gomez is no longer the player he was seven or eight years ago, and there have been some injuries during this run, but there also has to be some bad luck, too, to keep him from scoring even a single goal over this rough stretch.

He's going to score again. He almost has to.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:14 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 3:51 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Winter Classic redux at MSG

Before Thursday, Giroux's last goal was against the Blueshirts in the Classic. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Weekend Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Let's go back just over a month on the NHL schedule, shall we? The Philadelphia Flyers had just finished losing to the New York Rangers in one hell of a finish in the Winter Classic hosted by the City of Brotherly Love.

The first half of the game was pretty dull, no scoring. But the game made up for it with a great second half, including a penalty shot in the final minute.

Among the two goals that the Flyers potted that cold January day was a beauty from Claude Giroux. It was his 18th of the season. It was a great start to the season that led me to pick him as my midseason Hart Trophy winner.

Would you believe that Giroux went the entire rest of the month without a goal? In the remaining 12 games in January, Giroux had nine assists.

You could look at it as a classic case of regressing to the mean. Giroux can score, but in his previous four seasons with the Flyers he never scored more than 25 (the mark he hit last season). Interestingly, he has exactly twice as many assists in his career as goals at this point. So his 18 goals and 29 assists were a bit out of whack. He's still a play-making center.

The only thing I wasn't sure about if it was a regression to the mean or not is if we were going to see a new way of playing for Giroux. There was obviously a lot more pressure put on him to carry the load after the offseason the Flyers had, jettisoning Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

Well, a Flyer can't change his wings. Or something like that.

Now of course Giroux scored on Thursday night in the Flyers' win over the Nashville Predators and ruined the nice little tie in I was going for here. That being the Flyers visiting Madison Square Garden on Sunday and the Rangers for their first encounter since that day outside in South Philly.

It should be a nice appetizer for the Rangers/New York Giants fans before the Super Bowl.

Little will be all that different from that Jan. 2 meeting either. The teams are still two of the best in the NHL, fighting each other in the Atlantic Division and the Rangers are even expected to be wearing their Winter Classic jerseys. Old-schoolers can rejoice, that would mean the Rangers are wearing white (or at least off-white) at home again. For one day.

Yes, it will be a pretty familiar feel, except for, you know, the game being played indoors on a quality sheet of ice (no disrespect to Dan Craig, the NHL's ice guru). And perhaps a different Giroux from that earlier meeting, but the same Giroux the Flyers have fallen in love with and have come to count on, goals or not.

Central casting

It seems like every weekend there is a massive matchup from the Central Division. I guess that happens when you have four of the eight teams in the league that have reached the 65-point mark.

Between the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators, that's 36 games against one another throughout the season. So if the schedule were completely balanced, it would actually be more than once a week.

So it's not a rare occurrence to see one of the games. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be missed or not enjoyed to the fullest.

That's why we suggest you don't miss out on the Blues' visit to the Predators on Saturday night. It might help if you like defensively sound hockey, though.

This is their fourth meeting this season and if we throw out the Predators' 4-2 win in the second game of the season seeing that it's pre-Hitchcock, each game has played out the same way, a 2-1 shootout win for the Preds. That's not a lot of scoring but it doesn't mean it's not a lot of good hockey.

Don't underestimate the importance of all these games in the Central. They are what people like to call four-point games because of the potential swings they can cause in the standings. Considering the second and third seeds will go to the Pacific and Northwest, the second spot in the Central by season's end will be crucial, it will give that team home-ice advantage against what will surely be another Central foe.

Battle of Ontario resumes

Here Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul thought they got their month's worth of booing last weekend in Ottawa. Nope.

Those two plus the Leafs' third All-Star, Dion Phaneuf and the rest of the guys from Toronto will head for the Quebec border and meet the Senators in the Canadian capital on Saturday night.

This season the stakes have been ramped up in the Battle of Ontario already with the success the teams have enjoyed thus far and their battling at the bottom half of the East's playoff picture. But this one is crucial for the Sens.

This will be their second game back on home ice since Jan. 16 (Friday night they host the Islanders) and for the first time this season, the Sens have lost four straight in regulation. For a team that has played more games than anybody in the NHL, that has made their somewhat comfortable position in the playoff picture much more perilous. Considering the Leafs are one of their competitors for one of the East's eight spots, you can see why this is a massive game for Ottawa.

The captain is back

That would be the Capitals captain, Alex Ovechkin.

On the other side of that provincial border down in Montreal, Ovechkin will play his first game since his three-game suspension before the All-Star break. Because of the time off it feels like Ovi has been out much longer than three games, his last game coming way back on Jan. 22.

"I'm not used to watching the games from upstairs and staying [on the ice] after the morning skates," Ovechkin told Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington. "I'm pretty excited. I miss hockey a lot. It's a situation where you miss the game and you're tired of watching."

The Caps weren't bad in his absence, playing honestly about the same level they were with him, going 1-1-1 in the three games. But there's no doubt he's welcome back in the lineup for his offensive ability on a team that just isn't doing a whole lot when they have the puck these days.

Star showdown

The old North Stars and replacement Stars (see: the Wild) get together for another one of their reunions that's always slightly uncomfortable for the fans back in Minnesota.

But they are clearly much more meaningful this season, more than just some interesting nostalgia coming back up to the fore. This is about the playoffs.

The West has six spots pretty much spoken for already and the Kings are making a good case for the seventh. That means there are a lot of teams fighting for one final spot in the playoff picture, currently held by Minnesota. The Stars are right behind them, three points back with a game in hand. So yea, the games are pretty big.

Of course that includes Saturday night's tilt in Dallas. Both teams could stand to get some wins going again as the Wild are just 4-5-1 in their last 10 while the Stars are 3-6-1 in that same span.

Fight for Florida

Are you noticing a little bit of a rivalry sense this weekend?

While I hesitate to call the Panthers and Lightning rivals, they get the nod based on nothing more than being division and intrastate rivals.

It's hard to quite believe, but this Saturday's game in Tampa Bay will mark the sixth and final meeting between them this season and there are still 30 or so games to go in the season.

Don't let the importance of the game for the Lightning be lost. Their playoff hopes are slim but not non-existent. A chance to take two points from the Southeast-leading Panthers would help them stay within striking distance. It's pretty close to the clichéd must-win game for the Bolts.

We're going streaking!

Here is a look at the streaks, both good and bad, headed into the weekend across the NHL.

San Jose Sharks: Believe it or not, this is the only team in the league right now that has a winning streak (three games in a row or more). And the Sharks barely qualify with three straight. They visit the Coyotes on Saturday night looking for four straight.

Senators: Already covered above, they have lost four in a row in regulation for the first time this season. They have two home games, against the Isles and Leafs.

Blackhawks: Punctuated by that beatdown by Sam Gagner -- I mean the Edmonton Oilers -- the 'Hawks have actually lost four in a row. Their only game of the weekend comes Friday night in Calgary.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Still smarting from that loss that shouldn't have been a regulation loss against the Kings, the Jackets ride their six-game skid into Anaheim to face the Ducks on Friday.

Colorado Avalanche: The up-and-down boys from the Rocky Mountain State are going downhill again. Four consecutive losses follow them into a Saturday matinee with the Canucks.

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

Posted on: February 3, 2012 12:38 pm
 

Patrik Elias fined $2,500 for illegal hit

By: Adam Gretz

The NHL's department of player safety announced on Friday that Devils forward Patrik Elias has been fined $2,500 for boarding Montreal's Mike Blunden in the first period of New Jersey's 5-3 come-from-behind win.

This is the play that the NHL, most likely led by Brendan Shanahan, a former teammate of Elias with the New Jersey Devils, deemed worthy of a fine.



There was a penalty called on the play as Elias received a two-minute minor for boarding, but remained in the game and finished with an assist in just under 22 minutes of ice-time.

Blunden played one shift in the second period, but did not return after that.

Elias has a pretty clean reputation as a player and usually only averages around 30 penalty minutes per season. In 49 games this season he's spent just 16 minutes in the penalty box.

(H/T Puck Daddy for video)
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:48 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 3:30 pm
 

Trade deadline primer: Will Jackets move Carter?

The Jackets might move Carter, but can they? (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

There's no time quite like the present. Isn't that what they say?

The present now just happens to be trade deadline month in the NHL. The actual day isn't for another few weeks, Feb. 27, but the whole month will be full of he said/she said, rumors that make you say hmm and others that make you say huh?

It seems like it's been a while since there were some real blockbuster deals looming in the NHL. It's not often there are teams willing to move the big names, the star players. That doesn't mean there weren't some key trades made, evident after the fact. In all, there were four players traded last February that were in the All-Star Game this season -- Joffrey Lupul to the Maple Leafs, Brian Elliott to the Avalanche, James Neal to the Penguins and Dennis Wideman to the Capitals.

There were certainly other moves that were crucial too. Just look at what the Bruins did, acquiring Tomas Kaberle, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley last February, all important to their run to the Stanley Cup last season and in the case of Kelly and Peverley, the Bruins' push this season.

But none of those really stole the show. Not the way this year has the potential to. Or at least had until recently.

A little more than a week ago it looked like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Tim Gleason and maybe even Shane Doan were possible targets to move. Circumstances have changed or the teams have reaffirmed those guys aren't on the move.

Because of parity across the league partly as a byproduct of the points system in place today, there are a lot less sellers. Despite the odds of teams being five or more points back making the playoffs being long, clubs often times refuse to give in and admit they should reshuffle their organization.

It ends up with teams that should be looking to add, teams that shouldn't be looking to do anything and some teams that should probably be looking to sell all thinking the same: Let's add.

"Right now there are different teams trying to make a trade, but the problem is there are only two or three teams that are even willing to make a trade for a draft choice or prospect, meaning they don't think they are going to make the playoffs," Nashville GM David Poile told NHL.com. "What I want now versus what I can later are two different things because of the parity you have in the NHL.

More Trade deadline

One team that is painfully aware it doesn't stand a shot this season is the Columbus Blue Jackets. They are 11 points out ... of 29th place in the league. It's 23 points to the eighth seed in the West. After an offseason that saw them acquire Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, that's a horrible disappointment. You know what that means ...

Yes, the Jackets will be sellers. And, even though they acquired him just seven months ago, all indications are that they would like to part ways with Carter. It's really been a wash of a season for him, fighting through injuries but still only scoring 10 goals with seven assists in 30 games.

“There’s talk about a lot of guys [in here] right now. Our team, with the way the season has gone -- the injuries, the standings, and stuff -- I don’t think it should come as a surprise to anybody on our team if they end up [in rumors],” Carter told the Columbus Dispatch.

The massive hurdle with Carter is figuring out how movable he is. His contract runs through the 2021-22 season with an annual cap hit of $5,272,727 (courtesy of Cap Geek). For a player that's been snake-bitten by injuries this season and hasn't seemed to want to be where he is at all this season, that becomes a tough sell, especially when you consider what the Jackets will want in return. They need everything, but primary concerns are in net and getting better on the blue line.

Still, he's only 27 and has shown with his time in Philadelphia that he can contribute a lot offensively. This will be the first season since 06-07 he didn't score at least 29 goals and more than 50 points. There could be some GMs out there willing to take the risks for the potential, which is still high.

If it does happen, it will be a not-so classic case of buy high, sell low for Columbus -- granted, low with Carter is probably still kind of high. That's not the best way to move on up in the world.

A good chunk of the rest of the Columbus roster will be available if anybody wants to take a shot, too. They'd probably love to move Steve Mason, but it's tough to envision anybody wanting him at this point. Rick Nash and Wisniewski are probably untouchables, Nash being the heart and soul of the otherwise faceless franchise and Wisniewski being the biggest player at their position of need. But the other guys like Antoine Vermette, Vaclav Prospal and more? Take your best shot.

The Blue Jackets aren't the only team known to be exploring the market. Tuomo Ruutu is a hot candidate to be moved from Carolina with the Hurricanes last in the East.

"I've heard rumors I'm going to every team in the NHL," Ruutu told Chip Patterson of the News & Observer this week. "I must be really playing well."

Obviously Ruutu isn't going to get people's gears going, but he could be a good addition for somebody, assuming the price is right. It's unlikely he's going to give any team top-six production, but he's not worthless either. One of the concerns is that he becomes a UFA this offseason, so it could be a rental situation.

The potential is endless, though. The Canucks have some expendables in their quest to bolster the roster for this year's push. Mason Raymond is a target of many. Some still think they should move Cory Schneider, perhaps the hottest backup goalie in the league. The Stars have to decide what side they're on, and if it's the seller side, Brenden Morrow could be up for grabs. The Canadiens have Travis Moen, Hal Gill and Chris Campoli. The Oilers could move Ryan Smyth again. It goes on and on.

Of course we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brian Burke always seems to find a way to get in the big trade action.

But it will probably all come back to the biggest, most obvious seller of them all in Columbus.

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