Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
So what about the Canadiens, a team almost everyone selected to repeat as Eastern Conference champions? Thirty-three games into the schedule, they’ve had their high moments when they were healthy, lows in recent weeks when regulars such as Saku Koivu, Price, Christopher Higgins and Mike Komisarek were sidelined. It’s no coincidence that after losing three in a row, the Canadiens have won two and got a point last night following Komisarek’s return to the lineup. Koivu, I’m told, should be back soon, perhaps by Saturday, which leaves Higgins as the only one with a long-term injury.
In other words, while they trail the surprising Boston Bruins by a generous 10 points following their 6-3 victory over St. Louis yesterday, they’re still in the race with 49 games remaining in the schedule. It won’t be easy, because the Bruins, for the first time in a long time, appear to be the real deal and several other teams in the East are in hot pursuit.
With expectations through the roof for Kovalev following his brilliant 84-point campaign of a year ago, there was no shortage of sprained ankles from everyone jumping off AK-27’s bandwagon. After scoring the overtime winner to down the Sabres, Kovalev appears to be heating up with 10 points in his last 10 games.
“I’m more confident shooting the puck right now. I’ve been working hard in practice at hitting the right spots and I’ve also been watching my own DVD,” said Kovalev with a smile, about his wildly popular instructional video launched last season.
“I’ve been saying all along that it was going to happen and the puck would start to go in. I knew we just had to keep pushing and working hard,” said Kovalev. “I think what we’re all doing a much better job of right now is getting the puck on net and jumping on the rebounds. We’ve been talking about the fact that our goals won’t all be pretty.”
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
With 10 goals, Lang is the Canadiens’ leading goal-scorer heading into tonight’s game against Buffalo; with 24 points, he is tied for the team lead with Alex Kovalev and Andrei Markov.
He is a crafty, smart-skating, 906-game NHL veteran whose poise and experience are precious commodities both on the ice and in the dressing room, a terrific acquisition on many levels.
“(Some) people think he was a consolation prize (to Sundin), but we had started to talk about him a little bit last year,” head coach Guy Carbonneau said yesterday of Lang.
“We took some info from Denis Savard (Lang’s coach in Chicago last season), some people who’d had him, and everything was positive. He has a lot of respect and came in here with a really good attitude.”
from Dave Stubbs at the Financial Post,
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price shoved his hand into the 50-year-old stick-hand blocker, a glove more than twice his age, and wore the look of a man who’d just pushed his palm into a bowl of liver.
He was similarly impressed with the flimsy catching mitt. And the 1970s-vintage chest protector, which was barely more than a thick undershirt.
“This isn’t protection,” Price said incredulously.
“It’s suicide. Can you imagine me going out there like this? For even one practice? No chance.”
continued with picture of Price in the gear.
from Tony Care of CBC Sports,
Whether he was watching the Montreal Canadiens from the bench when his father coached the team or broadcasting their games with the late Danny Gallivan, Dick Irvin always had the best seat in the house.
Ever since Dick Irvin Sr. patrolled behind the Habs bench beginning in 1940, the younger Irvin has witnessed most of the great moments in the team’s history, along with the bulk of its best players….
Top 5 moments
1. Closing of the Forum (March 11, 1996) — “The emotion in the building was unbelievable, and the ovation the Rocket received from the fans was something to behold.”
2. Russia’s Red Army squad vs. Montreal (Dec. 31, 1975) — “I didn’t think it was that great a game as everybody else seems to think it was. It was very one-sided, even though the teams tied 3-3. This was more of a moment than a great game. The whole night was unbelievable. It was a special situation, and everybody understood that.”
Watch the Richard ovation below…
Itching to return from the moment he went on the shelf, Mike Komisarek will be on the ice tonight when the Habs host the Flyers.
A spectator and part-time coach since suffering a shoulder injury on Nov. 13, Komisarek missed 16 games while recovering. His teammates went 7-6-3 during that stretch and are currently on a three-game slide.
“The doctors liked what they saw,” he said. “They put their stamp of approval on my file. I’m good to go tonight.”
from Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette,
If you can figure out what is ailing Kovalev, please let me know. Better still, pass it on to Guy Carbonneau. Here the Canadiens are nearing the 30-game mark and Kovalev has a respectable 22 points, but only five goals. In four games, Matt D’Agostini scored one fewer goal than Kovalev has this entire season.
The strangest part is that Kovalev is in a contract year. Guys like him are supposed to wake up just in time for free agency, get the multi-year deal tucked away, then go back to sleep-walking.
Instead, Kovalev has to go into a funk at the worst possible time for himself and the Canadiens. He did hit a post Saturday night, but somehow his game simply lacks the fire and drive he displayed almost from wire to wire last season.
The Montreal Canadiens got some news on Saturday about their injured players, but the news wasn’t good.
Following Saturday’s morning skate, head coach Guy Carbonneau revealed that Carey Price is suffering from a lower body injury on top of a cold that he’s been fighting for a few days now.
Carbonneau said that Price sustained the injury during Wednesday’s practice and that the starting goaltender will remain off the ice for at least four more days.
Also on Saturday, Carbonneau made public the result of Saku Koivu’s MRI, stating that the captain will be out of the lineup for two weeks.
Carbonneau also confirmed on Saturday that Christopher Higgins will be out at least five more weeks, saying it’s the same injury that has kept defenceman Mike Komisarek out since mid-November.
from Dave Stubbs at Habs Inside/Out,
From The Gazette’s Pat Hickey, at practice in Brossard:
• Carey Price did not practice today. He’s not feeling well, and Hamilton’s Marc Denis is on standby. This isn’t to rule out Price in goal vs. Washington tomorrow. If Halak gets the call, it will be his third consecutive game.
• Saku Koivu will miss Saturday’s game and probably Tuesday’s in Carolina. He will see a doctor later today about what’s suspected to be a foot injury suffered last night.
the injury list continues...
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
Since joining the team on Nov. 29—not coincidentally, the last game before Latendresse began his exile—D’Agostini has four goals in six games and his energetic play has revitalized linemates Saku Koivu and Andrei Kostitsyn. It’s folly to think he can maintain this offensive pace, but 20 pounds heavier and two years smarter, he’s equipped to do all the little things that turn a prospect into a pro. At this point, a job is his to lose.
The same can’t be said for Latendresse, who seems ill prepared to handle his struggles. His confidence shot and his opportunities limited, he’s likely to remain on the outside looking in.
Could Latendresse have benefited from a more cautious route to the pros? Watching D’Agostini make the argument nightly, it’s hard to think otherwise.
Also, in the KK Member Blog a few days ago, Slasher98 weighed in on D’Agostini too.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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