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Tag:Montreal Canadiens
Posted on: January 13, 2012 10:15 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 10:51 am
 

Subban with a questionable hit on Krejci

By Brian Stubits

They must feel like it's been months since there was good news in Montreal regarding their beloved Canadiens.

Mike Cammalleri saying the team was playing like losers and then promptly being shipped out of town -- perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not -- to Calgary for Rene Bourque on Thursday night. In the middle of the game. It was just another episode in the gripping soap opera How the Habs Turn.

But that wasn't all the news coming out of the Canadiens camp on Thursday. There was also the loss to the Bruins in Boston and perhaps of P.K. Subban for a couple of games thanks to Rule 48 and Brendan Shanahan's duty to uphold it.

More specifically, David Krejci was moving up the left wing near the benches when Subban came to knock him off the puck. He had the chance to deliver a hit to the body of Krejci but instead came in with his arm raised and it sure looks to me like he made the principal point of contact Krejci's head. You judge for yourself.

After the hit there was also the matter of Subban going into a shell and trying to stay down on the ice when Andrew Ference came in to pay Subban back for the hit. In something that just really smacks of wrong, Ference actually put the Bruins on the penalty kill as a result.

It was on that power play that the Canadiens scored their lone goal of the game.

I don't see how there is much of a way Subban is going to dodge the Shanahammer here. Seems like a pretty clear-cut call for a two-game suspension, possibly three for Subban.

And likely endless taunting every time the Habs meet the Bruins for his turtling.

More NHL Discipline News Here

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

Posted on: January 12, 2012 9:44 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 11:03 pm
 

Mike Cammalleri traded to Calgary

CammalleriBy: Adam Gretz

Just when you start to think the Montreal Canadiens have hit rock bottom on the season, it just finds a way to keep getting crazier. And crazier. And crazier.

The latest development: Forward Mike Cammalleri being traded to the Calgary Flames on Thursday night after he was pulled during the third period of the team's 2-1 loss in Boston.

The deal involves Cammalleri, goaltender Karri Ramo and a fifth-round draft pick going to Calgary in exchange for Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a 2013 second-round draft pick. This, of course, will be Cammalleri's second stop with the Flames after having spent 2008-09 season in Calgary, producing what was the best season of his career with 39 goals and 82 points in 79 games. He signed with Montreal after that season, inking a five-year, $30 million contract.

Said Flames general manager Jay Feaster in a team released statement on Thursday, “Mike Cammalleri is a dynamic player who enjoyed great success playing in Calgary. We believe Cammalleri will help our offensive production, solidify a second scoring line, bolster our power play, and bring another strong veteran voice to our room. We are confident that a return to Calgary will be good for Mike and good for our continued pursuit of a playoff berth.”

The "strong veteran voice" comment is certainly interesting, seeing as how his "voice" has to be one of the reasons he was even on the market in the first place. Cammalleri's name was in the news earlier on Thursday for some controversial remarks about his team and the way they prepare for games. Less than 24 hours later? He's gone.

Following Thursday's loss in Boston, the Canadiens are now 16-20-7 on the season and seven points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. The team has already fired two coaches this season, dumping assistant coach Perry Pearn in the first month of the season, and then replacing head coach Jacques Martin last month. The latter was a move that has resulted in the entire organization facing criticism from a vocal minority of fans that are unhappy Martin's replacement, Randy Cunneyworth, doesn't speak french.
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Add in the Cammalleri storyline, both his comments and the ensuing trade, and it's been total chaos.

At the halfway point of the season Cammalleri had been struggling this season and had scored just nine goals in 37 games.

Bourque is obviously the key part of the trade for Montreal, and his name had been coming up in trade rumors for what seems like two years now. And while he's a solid player having scored 27 goals in each of the past two seasons, and on pace for nearly the same number this season, it's hard to argue that the Canadiens are a better team after this move (even though Montreal general manager Pierre Gauthier tried to do just that when announcing the move).

Really, the only benefit Montreal gets is that it dealt a player that made some comments the team didn't like, and saves a few million in salary cap space over the next couple of seasons. Cammalleri's contract still has two years remaining on it with an average salary cap hit of $6 million per season. Bourque is signed through the 2015-16 season and has an average salary of $3.3 million, giving Montreal a savings of about $2.7 million per year.

The Flames entered their game on Thursday night against Anaheim four points out of the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Bourque is currently suspended for his elbow to the head of Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom. It should be noted that the Canadiens, Bourque's new team, play the Capitals on Wednesday, and he will be eligible to play that night.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:55 am
Edited on: January 12, 2012 12:12 pm
 

Habs' Mike Cammalleri: We play like losers

By Brian Stubits

The season is getting away from the Montreal Canadiens so much now that it's not just their never-shy fans calling them losers. One of the Habs fans' biggest targets for their derisive boos, Mike Cammalleri, isn't shy to say it.

"I can't accept that we will display a losing attitude as we're doing this year. We prepare for our games like losers. We play like losers. So it's no wonder why we lose," Cammalleri told Francois Gagnon of RDS and La Presse (by way of TSN).

"When you display a losing attitude like we do now, you lose more often than you win and you stay in the same place. When you show a winning attitude, you are not stifled by mistakes and you respond to a mistake with 15 good plays at the other end, you win and you get out of misery. This is not what we are doing here now."

There's always a fine line to toe in these instances. Some cases this is seen as an honest assessment and much-needed wakeup call for the team. It can just as easily come across as a malcontent who just became a "locker room cancer" That's what you can get for speaking your mind.

I don't think he's in much danger of falling into the latter category in this case, it's more saying the team needs to start expecting to win. I don't see him calling his teammates losers, just that right now they are playing with that kind of mentality. They are defeated team at the moment.

As for the booing? Well, Cammalleri can live with that.

"You've got to be sensitive to the fact that Canadiens fans live and die by their team," Cammalleri said. "So if anything, you can identify with how they feel. They're unhappy, and they let you know it. So I wasn't disappointed; I think more so I probably expected it."

As the whole team probably does. They obviously know full well what playing poorly in Montreal can bring.

Moreover, Cammalleri is a little frustrated by his ice time, or lack thereof. It's been down from what he's used to playing and like any player, he'd like to get more action.

"I'm not playing as much, so I need to get a little work here in practice to stay in shape," Cammalleri told NHL.com. "I'm used to playing 20 minutes a night."

He hasn't been getting that much under interim coach Randy Cunneyworth.

So the Habs have lost seven of their last 10 and are 12th in the East with a player underperforming and seemingly becoming a malcontent. You all know where this is heading, right? It's likely that if nothing else, you'll hear Cammalleri's name floated around in the trade discussions as the deadline approaches in February.

H/t to Pro Hockey Talk

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: January 11, 2012 3:51 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 11:42 am
 

SI players poll: Phaneuf, Ovechkin most overrated

By Brian Stubits

It's always fun when players are asked who is the most overrated player in their sport. It often shows a divide on how players are perceived within the game vs. outside from the media and fans.

With that in mind, here are the results of Sports Illustrated's poll of 161 players asking them who the most overrated player in the league is.

Taking the cake? Vote-in All-Star defenseman Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although if Phaneuf gets wind of anybody who said it, they can expect one of his completely not overrated checks.

Second in the lineup is Alex Ovechkin from the Capitals. Considering the season-plus he has had, that's easy to see.

There are a couple of things that stick out to me. Players obviously are very aware of how much players are being paid and their corresponding production. Why else would Scott Gomez make No. 3 on this list? I think he fell off the rating radar more than a year ago for the fans/media side. He has become an afterthought for most people, that's how bad he has been. Same goes for Vincent Lecavalier, just to a much lesser extent than Gomez.

The other observation I made is that the list has a high number of Canadian-based players. Eight of the 15 on the list play for one of Canada's seven teams. The Calgary Flames, for example, have three players on the list. That leads me to wondering how Jarome Iginla could crack this list, but I digress.

A name I thought I'd see on here that's absent? Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

Who's your pick for the most overrated?

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: January 11, 2012 3:06 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 1:44 am
 

Minnesota's puck possession problem

WildPucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: A look at what might be the biggest problem with the Minnesota Wild.

By: Adam Gretz


The Minnesota Wild have a problem right now.

After beating the Phoenix Coyotes on December 10, their seventh win in a row, the Wild improved their record to 20-7-3 and owned the best point total in the NHL. They had the look of a sure-fire playoff team and one that was going to end a three-year playoff drought for the franchise.

Of course, that could still end up happening, but it's been all downhill ever since.

In the month that's followed the Wild have won just one game in regulation (a 4-3 win against Edmonton, a team that's been one of the worst in the NHL over the past 20 games), a stretch that's seen them go 2-8-3. The other win came on Tuesday night, a 5-4 shootout win against San Jose after the Wild let a two-goal lead slip away in the final four minutes of regulation. As of Wednesday, the Wild went from the top team in the Western Conference to the No. 7 spot, just three points out of the No. 9 spot, in exactly one month, and their next three games are against Chicago, St. Louis and Philadelphia, which is definitely not an easy stretch.

This recent decline should have been expected (I wasn't ready to buy their fast start earlier this season ... though, I said the same thing about the Rangers and theyr'e still winning. So there's that) and unless something changes in the second half of the season they might have a big struggle ahead of them. Why? Because they are one of the worst puck possession teams in the league, which isn't exactly a good recipe for success in the NHL.

Entering play on Wednesday the Wild were generating the third-fewest shots per game and allowing the most. They're getting outshot by an average of over five shots per game, the worst mark in the league. If this continues it's not going to be a promising development for their playoff chances.

The table below takes a look at the past 10 NHL seasons and the playoff chances for teams when out-shooting, or getting out-shot by, a certain margin over the course of the season.

Possession Matters
Shot Differential Playoff % Total Teams Stanley Cup Finalists Stanley Cup Champions
+5 (or more) 100% 20 out of 20 5 4
+4 89% 14 out of 16 5 4
+3 90% 19 out of 21 1 0
+2 64% 16 out of 25 1 0
+1 64% 24 out of 37 3 0
+ >1 70% 27 out of 38 2 1
- >1 34% 11 out of 32 0 0
-1 36% 9 out of 24 2 1
-2 25% 7 out of 27 0 0
-3 40% 10 out of 23 1 0
-4 6% 1 out of 16 0 0
-5 (or more) 4% 1 out of 23 0 0

Most teams finish somewhere between plus-one and minus-one over the course of an 82-game season. It's the teams that separate themselves from the cluster, one way or the other, that either compete for the  Stanley Cup (on the positive side) or compete for the top-overall pick in the next summer's draft (on the negative side). It should again be pointed out that Minnesota currently falls into the minus-five (or worse) category (and they are the only team as of Wednesday).

Over the past 10 seasons only one such team has been able to make the playoffs -- the 2001-02 Montreal Canadiens, a No. 8 seed that finished two points ahead of the ninth seeded Washington Capitals. If you remember, that was also the season that Jose Theodore put together one of the best season-long goaltending performances in recent memory by leading the league (by a pretty sizable margin) with a .931 save percentage, an obvious outlier in his career, and taking home the Hart Trophy as the league MVP and the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender.

When the Canadiens faced a similar deficit the following season, and Theodore's level of play regressed back to his normal career levels (a .908 save percentage -- exactly his career average -- instead of .931, a top-15 mark all-time) the Canadiens missed the playoffs and Theodore went from being the next Patrick Roy to just another in the revolving door of mediocrity in the Montreal net. He was eventually traded for David Aebischer in 2006.

Another team that stands out from the above chart, and also happens to be the one team over the past decade that won the Stanley Cup despite being outshot during the season, is the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a tale of two teams that year. They started the season with Michel Therrien behind the bench, playing a very passive, defense-first system. After reaching the Stanley Cup Finals the previous season (losing to the Detroit Red Wings) they found themselves on the outside of the playoff picture in mid-February following a humiliating loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

At that point in the season the Penguins were 27-25-5, and were being crushed in terms of puck possession, getting out-shot by nearly four shots per game. It was then that they made drastic changes to the entire team. Pretty much everything about it, from the coach, to the system, to the make-up of the roster. Therrien was replaced behind the bench by Dan Bylsma, brought up from their American Hockey League team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and the team instantly started playing a more aggressive brand of hockey with an emphasis on getting to the offensive zone as quickly and often as possible. Along with that, general manager Ray Shero completely overhauled the team's top line by trading for forwards Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin to improve the offense, and added some additional toughness by picking up Craig Adams on waivers.

Almost instantly they completely flipped the script on their season, and went from being a team that was getting out-shot by nearly four shots per night with a .500 record, to a team that was now out-shooting its opponents by four shots and finishing with an 18-3-4 record. That level of play continued through the playoffs, all the way through their Stanley Cup Finals rematch with Detroit, ending with a Pittsburgh win in seven games.

The ability to create shots (and prevent shots) is a reflection of skill, talent and strategy (coaching), which is why the teams that are the best at controlling the puck are the ones that tend to win the most games and have the best chance at winning it all. Looking at the Wild and there just doesn't seem to be enough players to create chances offensively, and the defense isn't anything great. They've been relying on their two outstanding goalies, Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, and while they've had excellent seasons they can only mask Minnesota's flaws for so long.

Can they still make the playoffs this season? Sure, anything can happen. Maybe they continue to get a '01-02 Jose Theodore-type season from their goaltenders (because at this rate that's probably what they're going to need), or maybe something drastically changes in the second half of the season that allows the team to generate more offense and spend more time in the other end of the ice. But if things keep going like they have been, the odds could be stacked against them.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 7, 2012 10:39 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 11:51 pm
 

Yes, there were protesters in Montreal

By: Adam Gretz

The great Montreal Canadiens language debate of 2011-12 continued to roll on Saturday night. Prior to the Canadiens' 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning a group of around 200 protesters made their presence felt outside of the Bell Centre to voice their displeasure of the hiring of interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth (following the dismisal of Jacques Martin) and his inability to speak french. Along with that, the Quebec-based group is also unhappy about the Canadiens team not having enough french-speaking players on the roster.

This, of course, isn't all that different from what was being said by a small, yet vocal minority of the Canadiens' fan base the day Cunneyworth was hired, and we even knew this demonstration was coming.

Mario Beaulieu, the president of Mouvement Quebec francais released the following statement in advance of the demonstration. Via the Montreal Gazette:
"The Montreal Canadiens management does not respect the status of French as Quebec’s official language. The music played in the Bell Centre is English. All announcements made in the arena are bilingual. There are only two or three francophone players left on the team. And now they have named a head coach who doesn’t speak a word of French. Not even ‘Bonjour’.”
It should be pointed out that these group of xenophobes doesn't represent the entire Montreal Canadiens fan base. Your average Canadiens fan that shows up at the Bell Centre every game in his Mike Cammalleri jersey, ready to pound down a couple of Molson's with his buddies would probably be satisfied if the guy standing behind the bench spoke, I don't know, Chinese, just as long as the team on the ice won games. But the loudest voices always get the most attention, and here we are.

If nothing else, this most recent demonstration illustrates that this noise isn't going away anytime soon.

Previously At Eye On Hockey

Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire
Storm will die down as Cunneyworth makes Montreal adjustments
Jacques Martin fired by Canadiens

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter
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Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:58 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 3:25 pm
 

Barch suspended one game for insensitive remarks

By Brian Stubits

Florida Panthers forward Krys Barch was given a game misconduct in the team's New Year's Eve victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the end of the first period. Why he was booted remained a mystery until after the game when it was revealed the reason for his ejection was his use of a racial slur toward Habs defenseman P.K. Subban.

After the hearing was delayed for a couple of days (the Panthers haven't played a game since then), the NHL announced on Thursday that Barch was suspended one game for insensitive remarks.

Notice the use of the language. Insensitive remarks instead of racial slur. Barch was adamant that what he said wasn't racist. Barch told Jesse Spector of the Sporting News that Colin Campbell didn't see it as racial.

"If there was any question that this was racial, you'd be done five to 10 games, and [the decision] would be done the day after," Barch said, quoting Campbell.

"I never would ever say anything unjust or racial toward somebody else," Barch told Sporting News.

As for what he said, we'll never know for sure. But Jeff Marek of Sportsnet reported that it was something along the lines of "did you slip on a banana peel?" after Subban fell to the ice following a scrum.

Here is the statement from Campbell regarding his decision.

"Mr. Barch has admitted making the remark, but denies that the comment was racially motivated,” Campbell said. “While we accept Mr. Barch’s assertion, as a player in the National Hockey League, he must be held accountable for making a comment that, in the context in which it was made, and in light of the entirety of the circumstances, was offensive and unacceptable.”

If that's what he said, I'm failing to get the logic of it all. If Campbell doesn't see that as a racial statement -- very much in the air, some will see it that way, some won't -- then why is it suspendable at all? What about using a Vaudeville-esque comedy bit in a chirp is seen as being worthy of a suspension if you don't believe it was a racial statement?

“There is no debate over what was said,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “The content or the context of the comment can and should be debated over what the intent of the comments were. I have a lot of respect for Krys Barch and how he’s handled himself the past five days. This has been extremely tough on him. At the end of the day, all the information was laid out there. We respect the league’s decision and move on.”

There are a lot of people that are going to be taken aback by the brevity of a one-game suspension for Barch's alleged actions. It seems to be a light sentence when compared to Sean Avery getting six games when talking about his ex-girlfriend and using the term sloppy seconds. Many are going to say it's another example of Campbell's old wheel of justice. Remember, it's still Campbell's duty to deal with player conduct cases, not Brendan Shanahan's.

This is in pretty stark contrast to Avery, who clear-as-day said his suspendable words to the gathered media. Plus, the intent of Barch's words is debateable, those of Avery were not.

It's worth noting that Barch called Subban personally and explained to him that there was no racial intent behind his comment at all and Subban understood.

To me it feels like the suspension is being given to Barch because the NHL feels there has to be a suspension. This was a much-discussed story when it happened. But I just can't understand how the NHL can view it as non-racial but still worthy of a suspension. It feels like an image decision more than anything.

More NHL Discipline News Here

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: January 4, 2012 10:20 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 10:23 pm
 

Lars Eller spin-o-rama completes 4 goal night

By: Adam Gretz

Two years ago the Montreal Canadiens turned a few heads by trading goaltender Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues after he led the team on its improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals, going through top-seeded Washington and the defending Stanley Cup Champions (Pittsburgh).

The Canadiens were convinced that Carey Price was their franchise goalie, and decided to sell high on Halak. You can certainly question whether they received as much as they possibly could have for him at that time, but the decision to stick with Price over Halak has worked out quite well for them. One of the players that came their way in exchange for Halak was forward Lars Eller, a first-round pick by St. Louis back in 2007 (they also received Ian Schultz in the deal). In parts of two seasons with the Canadiens he hasn't put up huge numbers, entering Wednesday's game against Winnipeg with just 11 goals and 18 assists in 113 games for Montreal.

During a 7-3 dismantling of the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre Eller had a bit of a coming out party, scoring a career-high four goals, including a penalty shot late in the third period that featured a highlight reel spin-o-rama move, beating goaltender Chris Mason who had come on in relief of starter Ondrej Pavelec after he surrendered six goals on 24 shots.



Well that's just wonderful. It also came in what was a much-needed win for a Canadiens team that had lost seven of its previous eight games and fallen to the 13th spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

As for the Jets, well, they have been nearly unbeatable on home ice this season, owning one of the league's best home records. Unfortunately, they've also been brutal on the road and fall to just 5-9-4 away from the MTS Centre after Wednesday's loss.

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