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Habs get knocked around

So the Habs lost 8-6 on Wednesday, as everyone knows.  And yes, they were battered and bruised by the end. But am I worried about it? No. Here’s why.

Many other pundits, bloggers, etc. are going on and on about the lack of toughness, the fact the Canadiens were pushed around. But I see something else. I see yesterday’s game as a turning point, a team builder, one that people could look back on as making a positive difference to the Canadiens.

Last night forced the Habs to band together, and that’s the kind of game that forges bonds. I suspect they will play better as a team for the rest of the year, starting with tonight’s game in Montreal against the Islanders.

The Canadiens are an interesting mix this year, with veterans like Brian Gionta stepping up, while youngsters like Max Pacioretty and Benoit Pouliot also play a key role.

More worrying from last night’s game? The absence, for lack of a better word, of Scott Gomez. His game has deteriorated to a point that it is a detriment to the rest of the team. He isn’t winning faceoffs, and he seems distracted. But how do you correct such a situation with your highest paid player? A benching? Jacques Martin has tried that. Healthy scratch? I’m not sure the Canadiens have the depth to start scratching $8 million players.

A trip to the minors?

I can’t imagine it would happen this year, and maybe it won’t happen at all, but is it really that ridiculous to suggest Scott Gomez could be on the same path as, say, Wade Redden, or Cristobal Huet? There’s no question that $7.5 million could be put to much, much better use.

In the meantime, Montreal forges ahead, battling for sixth place, maybe for third. What wouldn’t be better than a playoff date with the Boston Bruins? It seems a good possibility at this point.

As for the trade deadline, now 18 days away, there is no question that Pierre Gauthier must be looking for toughness. But I highly doubt he wants a goon. Gauthier wants a player, or multiple players, who can dish out hits and play hard shift after shift. Chris Phillips fits that mould. So does Chris Neil. So does David Clarkson. Each of these guys is, apparently, available. Will Montreal bite?

I, for one, am glad the Canadiens had a rough ride last night, 19 days before decision day.
This is what makes the trade deadline so much fun.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: chris+phillips, scott+gomez, toughness

Comments

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I don’t know if that incident can bring the team together. Generally it brings the team that wins the brawl together. It doesn’t really work for the other team because they know that they were beat physically, mentally, and literally. I would say that this team is toast if they meet Boston in the play-offs and it just reinforces what i have been harping on for a while. Montreal is too small and not tough enough.

Posted by BlackXinu on 02/11/11 at 10:07 AM ET

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I think being out-muscled is a problem. I was at the Ducks vs. Canucks game the other night and the Canucks are a considerably more talented team but the Ducks used their size and pushed the Canucks around, much like the Bruins pushed the Habs around a couple of nights ago. Much like you, I am not advocating a goon or anything like that, but just some big guys (maybe like Pouliot), who finish their checks and force their opponents to realize that they will be hit in the corners and against the boards. After this happens, then there will be more of a perception of team toughness and teams such as the Canucks and the Habs won’t be man-handled quite as vigorously as before.

Posted by Etterbeekers on 02/11/11 at 03:38 PM ET

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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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