Tag:Montreal Canadiens
Posted on: December 5, 2011 5:27 pm
 

Pacioretty still unhappy with Shanahan reasoning

By Brian Stubits

The honeymoon for Brendan Shanahan is over, the grace period gone. Now he's beginning to feel some of the blow back that Colin Campbell put up for years.

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty just finished serving a three-game suspension for an open-ice hit that left Penguins defenseman Kris Letang with a broken nose. He wasn't overly pleased with the punishment from the start, and now he is getting in a little war of the words with the discipline boss.

For some, Pacioretty's hit on Letang evoked memories of Matt Cooke's shot on Marc Savard a couple seasons ago. According to Pacioretty, Shanahan is one of those people.

From the Canadian Press, Pacioretty insisted Monday that Shanahan compared the hit to the Cooke hit, something Pacioretty doesn't feel was fair.

“We didn't bring it up, [Shanahan] brought it up,” Pacioretty said. “You can ask my agent [Alec Schall]. He was on the phone. Ask the GM [Pierre Gauthier]. It happened.

“In the back of my mind it's a completely different hit. Savard's a lefty coming across. He has no idea Cooke's coming from the other side of the ice. I'm not trying to get into comparisons, but they [the NHL] compared it to that and we compared it to [Tampa Bay's Ryan] Malone on [Montreal's Chris] Campoli."

Hey Max, I don't see the problem in the NHL comparing it to the Cooke-Savard incident. After all, Cooke received no punishment (it's never too late for some Colie humor).

"Every hit's different. That's what makes this tough," Pacioretty acknowledged. "There is always going to be that grey area. They're doing the best they can to crack down, but it's not consistent.”

For what it's worth, Shanahan denied making a connection between the two hits in a radio interview. Although he didn't go so far as to say Pacioretty was intentionally lying, just that he was probably a bit emotional and took things the wrong way.

Welcome to the job where you can never please anybody, Shanny.

More NHL Discipline News Here

H/t to Pro Hockey Talk

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: December 4, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Check out Carey Price's All-Star campaign video

By Brian Stubits

All-Star campaigns have existed as long as fans voted for all-stars. Hockey is no different.

There were the Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews dueling campaign ads. And who could forget the Rory Fitzpatrick campaign?

Then there is this one from Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.

Not like a good goaltender playing in a city like Montreal needs much help getting all-star votes. I don't see how this is going to help his cause. But apparently this is a takeoff of something funny in Montreal. Beats me.

H/t to Pro Hockey Talk

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

Posted on: December 3, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 2:54 pm
 

Another surgery for Andrei Markov

By: Adam Gretz

Andrei Markov's return to the Montreal Canadiens lineup is being delayed once again, as it was announced by general manager Pierre Gauthier on Saturday that the defenseman will undergo another "minor surgery." He is expected to miss "a few more weeks."

Markov hasn't played for the Canadiens this season and hasn't appeared in a game since mid-november ... of 2010. Since the start of the 2009-10 season he's been in Montreal's lineup just 52 times due to various injuries, including the knee injury that's kept him on the shelf for the first two months of this season.

Even with all of the injury problems in recent years the Canadiens had faith that he would be able to help them not only this season, but also in future seasons, signing him to a three-year contract extension over the summer worth $5.75 million per season. Needless to say, it hasn't worked out to this point. And that has been the theme of the Canadiens 2011-12 season, especially on the blue line, as their defense has been crushed by injuries all year.

Along with Markov, the team has also been without Jaroslav Spacek, Hal Gill and Chris Campoli for extended periods of time, and it's obviously had a rather large impact on the on-ice product. Montreal enters play on Saturday at the bottom of the Northeast Division with a 10-11-5 record, while also winning just three of its past 10 games.

Its power play, which is quarterbacked by Markov when he is in the lineup, is currently 26th in the NHL converting on just 11.8 of its chances.

More Montreal Canadiens News Here

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Posted on: December 2, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Flames GM adamant Iginla trade rumors are false

By Brian Stubits

On Thursday, one bit of trade speculation was squashed when Ducks GM Bob Murray said he thinks the talk of Bobby Ryan being traded is going to die down now that the team hired a new coach in Bruce Boudreau. It worked pretty well, the dreams have, for the most part, stopped.

Now Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster is taking his shot at stopping the rumors surrounding one of his Stars. That would be captain Jarome Iginla. The speculation has been circling around him wildly for some time. What team would love to have a veteran leader and scorer like Iginla?

While the Flames are struggling, Feaster told Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun. Rather emphatically, too.

“It is not true,” Feaster emphatically stated Friday morning at the Saddledome. ” Jarome Iginla has not been asked to waive his no-trade and Jarome Iginla has not demanded a trade or asked for a trade. There is no list. There is no smoking gun. There is nobody on the grassy knoll.

“What else do you need?”

Deals have reportedly been so close to done, all they needed were for Iginla to waive his no-trade clause and accept to be moved. The Montreal Canadiens were one team rumored to be close. Others have suggested the Dallas Stars, Iginla's original team, would be interested.

All the talk seems to have Feaster at his wit's end.

“Here’s the trouble. When it’s a non-story, and we have to stand here and rebutt it, the rebuttal becomes the story. It puts us in a position that I don’t know is fair to the organization and I know is not fair to Jarome,” Feaster said.

“One of the questions I have is where do these things start? Are they legitimate sources or is it a blogger in the basement in his underwear that says, ‘This is the rumour du jour’ and you guys feel the need to track it down.”

Ah yes, the old blogger stereotype. Well for the record I would like to state that I work in my pajamas, thank you very much.

But seriously, I see where Feaster is coming from, assuming he's telling the truth. It's a Catch-22, he can't let the rumors just fester and become a distraction for his team, so he has to address them. By doing that, he in a way legitimizes the rumors.

The best thing he could do is exactly what he's doing right here: Don't mix any words and flat-out deny. There will be plenty of people who still won't believe him, but it's his best option if he wants to quiet the crowds.

Now maybe he'll be singing a different tune when the trade deadline draws closer.

One player who could be on his way out of Calgary is Cory Sarich. According to Roger Millions (what a last name) of Sportsnet, Sarich has asked for a trade. Yes, that's correct, Sarich with a trade request.

With the news that Mark Giordano is going to be out indefinitely after partially tearing tendons in his leg, the Flames might not be interested in getting rid of a defenseman at the moment. But we'll see. The trades could pick up for the Flames.

Just know that right now they don't include Iginla.

Here is Feaster addressing the media on the matters at hand.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 8:42 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Quick on top of his game again

By Brian Stubits

Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

It's tough to find a position in sports that lends itself to streakiness more than goaltender in hockey. For some reason, most of them fail to maintain an even balance throughout the course of a season -- Tim Thomas' consistently spectacular play notwithstanding. There season charts resemble roller coasters tumultuous enough to turn even the heartiest rider's stomach.

L.A. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick isn't immune to the turbulence. In the opening month of the season, Quick was absolutely phenomenal. He turned in three consecutive shutouts in mid-to-late October. For his work, he was given a day off on Oct. 25 and that good mojo seemed to vanish.

In his next seven starts and nine of 11, he surrendered at least three goals. Instead of being a large part of why they were winning early in the season, he became a large part of why they were losing. It was a quick reversal of fortunes, if you'll pardon the pun.

But like any streaker -- we're still talking goalies here -- he has reversed course again. Entering Saturday's matinee against the Montreal Canadiens, Quick comes in on a tear. Thanks to a shutout of the Sharks and a nearly flawless 41-save showing against the Panthers, Quick has stopped 74 of the last 75 shots he has seen. Go back a little further and he has actually saved 84 of the last 85 shots.

Here's what Pierre McGuire told an Ottawa radio station about how good Quick was in Thursday's win. "If the kings don't have Quick Florida wins that game. Kevin Dineen's team dominated with speed game".

Yes, he's back on his game. It really is no coincidence, then, that the Kings enter their game against the Habs having earned points in seven of their last 10 games.

They really need him to be the good Quick this season. The Kings have high hopes for this season. Many, myself included, saw them as legitimate threats in the Western Conference race this season. Despite the addition of Mike Richards to some other talented offensive players like Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, the Kings aren't going to do a whole lot of scoring. As of now, they are 24th in the league in goals per game with 2.32.

So much more than other goalies, when Quick is playing poorly it shows.

Assuming he'll get the start on Saturday, he'll have a chance to extend his already league-high shutout mark of four. The Canadiens haven't been very good this season, that's obvious. But moreover, they have really struggled on the road. You have to go back four weeks to Nov. 4 to find the last time the Habs won a road game in regulation.

In Kings terminology, that was near the beginning of the bad Quick days.

As a bonus for L.A., if the Kings are victorious, coach Terry Murray will have his 500th career victory.

The Bryz is back in town

When the Flyers visit Phoenix on Saturday Ilya Bryzgalov's arrival will be highly anticipated by the local crowd for the second time this season. Earlier this year he made his first trip to Winnipeg, a city he wasn't too fond of possibly moving to once upon a time. He didn't play in that game.

Now Bryzgalov returns to Phoenix, the city where he did play and left this past offseason. It was with the Coyotes that Bryz built up his reputation as one of the better goaltenders in the league before taking a bigger pay day with the Flyers.

This will be the second time Bryzgalov has faced his former team this season. Before the first meeting in Philadelphia, some of his former teammates had some less-than-kind things to say about Bryz. Derek Morris even admitted to being glad that Bryzgalov was gone.

Everybody knows the Coyotes don't draw a lot of butts to the seats. But this game should have a few more tickets purchases not only because of the abundance of Flyers fans who will be there -- rest assured, they will be -- but likely from a few of the Coyotes fans who just want to boo. Or thank Bryzgalov for his time there. Take your pick.

Welcome back, Bruce

We hardly forget ye.

Anaheim Ducks' coach Bruce Boudreau (looks weird) will make his debut with his new team on Friday with the Philadelphia Flyers in Southern California. One thing we know we'll see, at least to start the game, will be the reunion of Bobby Ryan with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on the top line.

In his final days as coach, Randy Carlyle had been trying to mix and match, trying to find the best results and cure the woes the lack of depth was causing his team. Boudreau, however, restored the top line to its old self and will try to make due.

Remember, when he arrived in Washington he didn't inherit a Caps team with a lot of depth. It was a very similar situation, actually, with some highly skilled forwards. They soared under his leadership. Will the same happen in Anaheim? We'll get the first glimpse on Friday when the Ducks host the Flyers.

Too bad HBO hasn't begun the 24/7 filming yet and depriving us a chance of more Boudreau, if only in a very small sampling.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

In this case, the ranch would be Washington, Boudreau's old stomping ground.

The Capitals enter the third game of the Dale Hunter era still searching for their first win. If the third time's the charm, it will have to come at the expense of the Ottawa Senators, who visit the Caps on Saturday.

They are badly in need of a win, for their confidence if nothing else. The Caps have lost four games in a row and seven of their last nine. They have fallen -- get this -- five points behind the Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division, and that's even with the Panthers leveling off in recent weeks.

There has been a whole lot of difference so far for Washington, but they do appear to be focusing more on defense again and the effort has appeared to be better. But right now they just need a win.

Jason Chimera put it better than I can. "We're going to find ourselves packing an early golf bag."

Still searching Part II

Carolina Hurricanes new coach Kirk Muller is in the same boat as Hunter, 0-2 in his NHL career behind the benches. His task, on paper at least, looks a bit tougher than Hunter's.

That's because the 'Canes will host the high-flying Penguins on Saturday night. Not exactly the team you want to see when trying to bust out of a slump.

It has to start with getting the defense squared away. In the Hurricanes' current five-game losing streak, they have given up at least three goals in each game. Tomas Kaberle isn't working out, that's no secret. But that's only part of the defensive woes. The unit continues to leave Cam Ward high and dry in net behind them.

Nobody told Muller this was going to be easy.

More to prove

The St. Louis Blues have been ridiculously good since Ken Hitchcock came aboard. They are 8-1-2 under his leadership.

But Hitchcock is still delaying his excitement for the team's play until their next stretch of games. Starting with the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night, they will begin playing teams for a second time. That's when you can start to draw some conclusions.

"We're going to get a push," Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "You can surprise a team, but we're now playing a second wave. When we start playing the Chicago's and Detroit's again, now we'll have a look. They'll be ready for us. They won't be surprised by our game

What's shocking about it all is that by the end of the weekend, the Blues -- 14th in the West when Hitchcock was hired -- could be leading the Central Division. With their crisp and disciplined play, that's certainly a possibility.

We're going streaking!

New York Rangers: It took them a few games to get going at the beginning of the season, but when they got going, boy did they. John Tortorella heads back to Tampa Bay with the Rangers having won four in a row.

Blues: In addition to Saturday's game against Chicago, they play the Avalanche on Friday night. That's where they take their four-game win streak.

Detroit Red Wings: All this team does is streak. No seriously, look at their schedule. Like the Blues, they have two games over the weekend, Friday in Buffalo then Sunday at Colorado.

Canadiens: Already mentioned, the Habs go into Los Angeles on Saturday having lost four straight.

Capitals: See above: Caps have lost four in a row headed into Saturday date with Senators.

Hurricanes: Currently at five losses in a row, the Penguins visit next. Ouch.

Edmonton Oilers: With the battle of Alberta looming, the Oilers enter on a three-game skid. They would probably like to have Taylor Hall back.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 30, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 5:02 pm
 

Maple Leafs top 'Forbes' list of NHL franchises

By Brian Stubits

It's that time of year again when business meets hockey, in particular Forbes magazine.

Mike Ozanian did the annual franchise evaluations and, surprise, surprise, the most lucrative team in hockey is the Toronto Maple Leafs at $521 million. The Rangers, Canadiens, Red Wings and Bruins round out the top five.

Bringing up the rear? Naturally it's the Phoenix Coyotes followed by the Islanders, Blue Jackets, Blues and Panthers.

Here is the entire list of the teams in value, 1-30.

The evaluations go on to show that, for the most part, things are looking up revenue wise. But Ozanian goes on to say that more teams are actually losing money this season compared to last; 18 of the 30 are now in the red (makes you see that Florida Panthers slogan "We see red" in a whole new light).

Ozanian goes on to say the reason for that is the high salaries. The cap is too high for a good amount of the teams to be able to operate at a profitable level. He suggests that the NHL needs to get closer to even on their income split. Currently the players get 57 percent of the revenues from the last CBA. Ozanian's assertion is that the players should give back a lot of that ground and get closer to 50/50 like the NFL and NBA.

It doesn't exactly give you warm fuzzies for the upcoming CBA negotiations, now does it?

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 29, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Max Pacioretty disagrees with suspension



By: Adam Gretz

The NHL suspended Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty for three games on Monday for his hit on Pittsburgh's Kris Letang during Saturday's 4-3 Penguins overtime win, which ended when Letang, of all people, scored the game-winner on a controversial play in front of the Montreal net. 

On Tuesday, Pacioretty spoke to the media for the first time following the announcement and didn't seem to agree with Brendan Shanahan's decision, and also gave his version of what took place on the ice.

Pacioretty said that during his hearing, Shanahan compared the hit to one that Penguins forward Matt Cooke delivered on Boston's Marc Savard two years ago that eventually helped lead to the crackdown on hits where the head is the target and principal point of contact.

"I think that couldn't be further from the truth," said Pacioretty, via the Canadiens website (full video above). "If you look at the situation, me and Letang made eye contact and I think that's what gave me the green light to try and hit him. I felt he put himself in a vulnerable position. Maybe I shouldn't have even thought about hitting him because of the way the wind is blowing right now with head shots. I'd like to see a little bit of consistency. If the onus is on the hitter every single time I'd be fine with the suspension, but you've seen instances where they've placed the onus on the player receiving the hit as well. That's why I'm confused and a lot of other players are confused as well."
More On Max Pacioretty

He also talked about how he felt Letang lowered his head prior to the hit, and that when he looks at the play in slow motion he can see that Letang changed his position as he saw Pacioretty coming. When asked if the suspension would change the way he plays and hits people, Pacioretty acknowledged that in the future he would not deliver that hit, and also added that since the start of the season he's been afraid to hit opposing players.

"This whole year I haven't had many hits," said Pacioretty. "Bbecause, I'll be completely honest, I've been scared to hit people out there. A lot of times you're going in on the forecheck and the defenseman turns his back to you, and things of that nature happen. It's a fast game and injuries are going to happen, and that's why it's tough out there, especially for someone who is expected to finish their hits. The blame is still on me. I made a bad decision and down the road I'm definitely not going to make that hit when someone is coming through the middle. Though, I don't see why I should give him free pass to come through our zone and get a free shot on net."

More NHL Discipline News Here

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 4:06 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Guy Boucher knows how to use M-A Bergeron

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Pucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: A look at the way the Tampa Bay Lightning take advanatge of Marc-Andre Bergeron's offensive ability.

By: Adam Gretz


A quick look at the top-scoring defensemen in the NHL this season and the second name on the list, as of Tuesday afternoon, is Marc-Andre Bergeron of the Tampa Bay Lightning, currently with 19 points, trailing only the 21 that belong to Ottawa's Erik Karlsson. There are two things, to me, that stand out about Bergeron being in that spot: First, he plays significantly fewer minutes than the other defensemen near the top of the list. Second: His name isn't one that's usually near the top.

Whether or not he remains there for the rest of the season remains to be seen, but he's not only been one of the leading scorers among defensemen across the league, he's also been one of Tampa Bay's top scorers, regardless of position, and a lot of that has to do with the way head coach Guy Boucher utilizes him and takes advantage of what he does well, while also minimizing what he does not do well.

Every player in the NHL has strengths and weaknesses, and Bergeron's are easy to spot every time he steps on the ice. He has a heavy slap shot (Boucher actually talked about it at the Lightning's website on Tuesday) and is a threat to score from the blue line, while he also struggles mightily in his own end of the ice. In all honesty, he's probably the closest thing there is in the NHL to having a fourth forward on the ice without actually putting a fourth forward on the ice.

After spending the 2009-10 season with the Montreal Canadiens, Bergeron was not re-signed by the team and spent most of last season as a free agent before signing with the Lightning in January. He ended up playing 23 regular season games for them, as well as 14 of their 18 playoff games, scoring four goals and recording seven assists in a limited role, mainly in offensive situations and on the power play. 

Since joining the team mid-way through last season, it seems as if the Lightning have made sure to put him in situations where his skills can be maximized: the power play, obviously, while also starting as many of his 5-on-5 shifts as they can as far away from his own net as they can get, while also sending him out against the other team's weakest competition.

For the season, he's a plus-four, tops among all Tampa Bay defensemen, and has been on the ice for 14 even strength goals against, the second-lowest total on the team. That doesn't necessarily mean he's been the best, or one of the best, "defensive" players on the team. It actually says more about the way Boucher and the Tampa Bay coaching staff have used him, and the situations they've put him in.

We know he can score on the power play. It's something he's done throughout his career for every team he's spent time with. But let's take a look at how he's been utilized during even-strength situations in recent years.

(The table below looks at the following over the past five seasons: Percentage of shifts started in the offensive zone (Ozone%), total offensive zone starts (Ozone), Neutral Zone Starts (Nzone), Defensive Zone Starts (Dzone), Quality of Competition (Qualcomp) and the number of even-strength points he's produced. Data via Behindthenet.ca)

Marc-Andre Bergeron's Even-Strength Usage
Team Season Ozone% Ozone Nzone Dzone QualComp Points Games
TB Lightning 2011-12 69.6% 135 111 59 -.152 12 23
TB Lightning 2010-11 69.2% 110 51 49 -.046 5 23
Montreal Canadiens 2009-10 54.6% 227 207 189 -.078 12 60
Minnesota Wild 2008-09 66.8% 399 251 198 -.040 14 72
Anaheim/Islanders 2007-08 50.2% 167 166 246 -.065 4 54

Obviously, none of his recent teams have asked him to play against the other teams best players, while most have gone out of their way to hide his defensive struggles by starting him in the offensive zone. No team has taken it to the extreme that Tampa Bay has, with only the Minnesota Wild in 2008-09 coming close. The one exception here is the '07-08 Islanders who gave him more defensive zone starts than any other team over the past five years, and it's not a coincidence that was the year he finished as a minus-14, still the worst mark of his career. 

By starting nearly 70 percent of his even-strength shifts in the offensive zone Bergeron is far and away the top defensemen in the NHL in that area. Of the 127 defensemen that have played at least 20 games this season, the only ones that are starting even 60 percent of their shifts in the offensive zone are Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom, Montreal's Yannick Weber and Vancouver's Alexander Edler, while only Sheldon Brookbank and Andreas Lilja have played against a lower quality of competition.

In other words: He's playing some seriously sheltered minutes, and that also can have an impact on the other defensemen on the team.

While Bergeron is getting some of the most favorable matchups in the NHL, his teammates Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer, are drawing some of the least favorable matchups, currently owning the highest QualCOMP numbers in the NHL (again, among defensemen that have played at least 20 games) while also starting, by far, the fewest shifts in the offensive zone. That might help explain, at least in part, why Bergeron is a plus-four, while the two better players defensively are currently a minus-five and minus-seven on the season.

Bergeron is a flawed player defensively, but he has value if he's used properly, and so far Boucher has demonstrated that he knows exactly where, and when, to put him on the ice to take advantage of what he does the best: help score goals.

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