Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the National Post,
But there is one big difference between this year’s team and those of previous glory years: the success has come without a single French-Canadian star. This year the team counts just six Quebecers on its 24-man roster, and the leading scorer among them, Guillaume Latendresse, has managed only 27 points. Once nicknamed the Flying Frenchmen and revered in the province as emblematic of Quebecers’ talent, the team’s DNA is now practically indistinguishable from any other in the National Hockey League.
“Teams are becoming less representative of their community and more brand names,” observed University of Ottawa sociologist Jean Harvey, director of the Research Centre for Sport in Canadian Society.
from Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet,
I’ve gone on record a few times on Hockeycentral saying I don’t think the Canadiens have enough experience to go deep into the playoffs. And yet, I’ve got this unshakable feeling about this team ... like something special is going on here.
First of all, the Eastern Conference is wide open. There is no San Jose or Anaheim or Detroit in the East. Just a bunch of good teams. There isn’t a team in the East where if Montreal beat them in the playoffs you would call it an actual upset.
Then you’ve got this rookie goaltender Carey Price, who seems to fight off a yawn at the most critical moment of a game. He’s that calm.
NEW YORK (April 2, 2008) – Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who backstopped the team to its first division title since 1992, posting a 7-3-0 record, 2.67 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout, has been named the NHL Rookie of the Month for March.
Price edged Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner (6-9—15 in 15 games), Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (5-9—14 in 14 games), Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (4-10—14 in 15 games) and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Eric Ersberg (5-4-2, 2.31 goals-against average, .932 save percentage, two shutouts) for the award.
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,
The Canadiens and the Penguins are tied atop the Eastern Conference with 100 points each and Montreal has only one chance of moving up to the top spot and that’s by finishing with more points in the standings.
With each team having two games to play, the Penguins hold the tiebreaker, because they have one more victory.
But Christopher Higgins said he’s excited about the possibility of winning the conference because “you don’t get too many chances to do that in your career. I think the last time I finished first was in my junior years in high school.”
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
The business of covering the Canadiens is an industry unto itself, complicated by a time when old news is what was reported the click of a mouse ago.
This is not the same communications world as when Carbonneau played. He understands that. And it was clear yesterday that he wasn’t so much trying to control the news as he was attempting to consolidate it, a noble but impossible task in a highly competitive, insatiable media landscape.
There are confidences and trusts built between players and reporters during a long season; phone numbers are exchanged, cordial, even friendly relationships are developed. That won’t change, though the tone of conversation is bound to change, Carbonneau surely having discussed it with his team.
The Montreal Canadiens are going into the playoffs with plenty of question marks as captain Saku Koivu is out for the regular season with a fractured bone in his left foot.
Koivu was seen was using crutches and a foot brace as he left the Bell Centre on Monday. The 12-year NHL veteran told reporters that more tests would be done later this week and he would discuss more details of his injury at that time….
The team got some better news on Monday as they learned that defenceman Mark Streit showed improvement over the weekend and should play on Tuesday in Ottawa.
via Habs Inside/Out,
An update on the health of Canadiens captain Saku Koivu from The Gazette’s Pat Hickey:
Koivu is not playing tonight, having taken a shot off the foot last night in Buffalo. X-rays have not yet been taken, but are expected to be done tomorrow back in Montreal. Koivu says there’s a possibility he’s suffered a break, but he won’t know until tests are done.
Habs assistant coach Kirk Muller was on the HNIC pre-game show and mentioned Saku had gone back to Montreal today and did say they had no update on the injury.
P.J. Stock during the HNIC pre-game also mentioned the talk is Koivu does have a broken foot, but nothing official yet.
from Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com,
Carbonneau reinforced that organizational confidence in the aforementioned conversation with Price, the new starter.
“Coach Carbonneau came up and told me that the Montreal coaching staff and management would never put me in a position that they thought I couldn’t handle,” Price told NHL.com. “That’s all I needed to hear, and it gave me a lot of confidence moving forward.”
Carbonneau admitted his chat with Price wasn’t anything unusual, that he just wanted to show his support.
Today, Montreal Canadiens head coach, Guy Carbonneau, was made available for questions via an NHL confererence call.
In his second season as head coach, Guy has guided the Canadiens to the top record in the Eastern Conference with 96 points. With Monday’s victory over the Ottawa Senators, Montreal has clinched a Stanley Cup record playoff berth for a record 76 times.
Q. Two quick questions: I was wondering if there was any particular game or trip during the season that you really think was essential for the team’s growth where you thought, maybe, this was more than just a playoff team, that they could win the conference?
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,
As the Canadiens take a well-deserved day off, here are 10 reasons why they are the first team to clinch a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference:
1. Alex Kovalev: He’s the Habs’ most valuable player, and coach Guy Carbonneau believes he deserves consideration for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP. Not only has Kovalev rebounded from a disappointing 2006-07 season, but he has made the other players around him better through his actions on - and off - the ice.
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.
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