Kukla's Korner

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Entries with the tag: canadiens

Everyone loves playing GM…so it’s my turn

While I like to write about hockey generally, I am clearly a Habs fan. So, if you’ll allow me to dabble for a moment, my thoughts on the Canadiens roster - as of August 4.

Sidenote: While I’d like to add Kovalchuk, Selanne, etc. etc. – the cavalry ain’t coming. I have tried to be as realistic as possible with potential additions/subtractions. Now, onto the fun.

Forwards

Up front, Pierre Gauthier has made some significant changes, but perhaps more significant is what he has not done. Gauthier has brought in Dustin Boyd, a valuable fourth liner at a much lower salary than, say, Glen Metropolit. A good cap move that makes the team younger and faster. The big acquisition of the summer - so far - is Lars Eller. Acquired in the Jaroslav Halak deal, Eller gives the Canadiens a rising young power forward for the 3rd line centre role. He replaces Dominic Moore, bringing much more offensive upside and potentially more physicality.

Perhaps the most surprising move to many Habs fans was the re-signing of Tomas Plekanec to a five year contract. While I am a big Plekanec fan, even I must admit his playoff performance was lacklustre at best. After scoring the overtime winner in game one of the playoffs, he was virtually invisible as the Canadiens defeated Washington, Pittsburgh and then fell to Philadelphia. This suggests two things: one, the Canadiens felt Plekanec was good value at five million a year, and two, the Habs braintrust believes Plekanec will continue to grow into the role. What must be acknowledged is that while Plekanec scored 70 points last year, and 69 three years ago, he is also a great defensive cog for the Habs penalty kill. He is arguably the PK’s hidden secret, a catalyst for the Candiens success short-handed in the past two or three seasons.

What wasn’t done? Well, while Sergei Kostitsyn was shipped to Nashville in the Boyd deal, brother Andrei still finds himself in Montreal. Owners of perhaps the largest biceps in Quebec, Andrei Kostitsyn possesses incredible physical talent, but often seems out of synch with the rest of the team. Will having his meandering little brother out of the way lead to Andrei’s coming out party? Only time will tell.

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  Tags: 2010-2011, canadiens, free+agency

Time to Fire Guy Carbonneau: Montreal Canadiens Sinking Fast

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After the Canadiens’ fourth consecutive loss against the Oilers yesterday, it is clear that the Canadiens players don’t want to play for their coach anymore. They have lost nine of their past 11 games, during which they scored only 25 goals (2.27 GF per game) and surrendered an astounding 48 goals (4.36 GA per game).

The Habs have lost their last seven road games and have still four road games to go before returning home on Feb. 21 against Ottawa.

Carbonneau keeps juggling his lines like a Cirque du Soleil juggler, trying to find some chemistry among his players, but since they don’t play together for more than a few shifts, it’s hard to build chemistry.

Carbonneau doesn’t have a game plan. The Canadiens don’t fore-check, can’t make a good first pass, are unable to clear the front of the net, don’t finish their checks, and don’t win one-on-one battles. They clearly need to go back to basics; however, they don’t practice. Carbonneau prefers sending them to a bowling alley to hone their shooting skills.

The Canadiens are lucky to have registered that many points this season, because they’ve been sloppy most of the season, but they have been able to win some games because of their talent. The problem is that the farther we get into the season, the harder it is to win games without working, and the Canadiens don’t work. As soon as they get scored on, they stop hustling and playing hard; they simply give up.

When you give up, it means you don’t care, and that’s the job of the coach to make the players care, which is not happening right now.

I know that Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau are close friends, but it’s time to put an end to their working relationship, especially since Gainey can’t find a trading partner just yet because of the salary cap. We are still three weeks away from the deadline, and the Canadiens can’t afford to wait that long to make changes.

The Senators waited way too long before canning Craig Hartsburg, as I had predicted on Jan. 7, 2009 here > Hartsburg to be fired (Hartsburg was fired at the beginning of February).

GM Bob Gainey must make his move NOW! Time to put a veteran coach behind the bench—someone with extensive experience like Larry Robinson, Bob Hartley, or John Tortorella.

Stay tuned!

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  Tags: canadiens, carbonneau, gainey, senators

Is the Price really right?

Coming out a phenomenal 2006-2007 hockey season, during which the Anahim Lake, B.C., native won the gold at the IIHF World Junior (U20) Ice Hockey Championship in Sweden (he was named the Tournament MVP) and the Calder Cup with the Hamilton Bulldogs (he was named playoffs MVP), expectations were very high at the beginning of last season in Montreal.

The 6-3, 212 lbs, butterfly goaltender made the team out of training camp. He shared duties with French goaltender Cristobal Huet for the first few months, before being sent down to the AHL in January 2008 to regain his form after a lackluster start. After a one-month stint with the Bulldogs, the Canadiens called him up and gave him plenty of action before trading Huet to the Capitals at the trade deadline. Price responded very well, leading the Canadiens to a strong finish atop the Eastern Conference. Price finished the 2007-2008 season with a 24-12-3 record, a 2.56 GAA and a sparkling .920 save percentage.

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  Tags: canadiens, halak, montreal, price

Time for D’Agostini to get an apartment in Montreal

After playing 20 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL, during which he recorded 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points, forward Matt D’Agostini was recalled by the Montreal Canadiens on November 28th.

After watching his first game from the press box in Washington, a 3-0 loss, D’Agostini was inserted in the line-up the next day at home against the Buffalo Sabres. D’Agostini, 22, played 13:52 that night, finishing with a +1 differential.

Paired with captain Saku Koivu and Andrei Kostitsyn, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. native has shown flashes of brilliance since he was promoted to the Habs’ first line. In five games with the Canadiens this season, D’Agostini now has 4 goals, 1 assist and a +4 differential. He is currently on a 4-game scoring streak.

The 6-0, 200 lb, right wing is only one of two right-handed forwards with the Habs this season (Robert Lang is the other) which gives the Canadiens another weapon on the power play. He uses his speed to find open areas on the ice and create scoring opportunities. He really likes to drive the net where he scores most of his goals.

D’Agostini might be the last year’s Sergei Kostitsyn who was recalled in early December 2007. Kostitsyn sparked the Habs offense with his skills and speed, notching 27 points in 52 games after beginning the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs.

D’Agostini’s fortune is Guillaume Latendresse’s nightmare, the latter being a healthy scratch for the Habs last 4 games. After a quick start (6 points in 5 games), Latendresse slumped to a point where Guy Carbonneau had no choice, but the put him in the press box.

With the latest injury to Christopher Higgins (likely a separated shoulder), Latendresse is supposed to draw back into the lineup against the Lightning on Thursday.  If the Habs were to lose Higgins for an extended period of time, look for GM Bob Gainey to tell Matt D’Agostini to get an apartment in Montreal to finish the season with the Habs.


D’Agostini was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the 6th round, 190th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. From: http://www.nhl-northeast.com

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  Tags: canadiens, d'agostini, higgins, latendresse, montreal

Habs need to find a power play specialist

I guess a lot of fans in Montreal now miss Mark Streit after his departure via free agency to Long Island.

Montreal had last year’s number one power play in the NHL, but they are now sitting 26th with a poor 14.6% success rate, while the Islanders power play has improved slightly from 29th to 25th overall. Streit has 12 points (he would be the Habs’ 5th scorer) in 18 games, with only six of them coming with the man advantage.

Many thought Streit would struggle as a full-time defenseman, but he’s only minus-2 on a very ordinary islanders team. Streit has logged the ninth most ice time in the NHL with an average of 25:53 each game, including over six minutes on the power play.

Meanwhile, Ryan O’Byrne and Patrice Brisebois, who play with Roman Hamrlik, Streit’s former partner on defense, have a combined 1 goal and 4 assists in 27 games this season…

Streit was the shooter on a very effective 1st unit last season along with Markov, Kovalev, Plekanec and A. Kostitsyn. This season, newly-acquired Alex Tanguay is also manning the point with Andrei Markov.

The latter was asked to be the shooter without great success, Markov being more of a passer than a shooter, as shown by his 1 goal and 13 assists in 17 games this season. As a result, the Habs have became very predictable on the power play, and the defensive team is putting much more pressure on Koivu (0 goal on the PP) and Kovalev (1 goal on the PP).

Guy Carbonneau has yet to adjust his strategy and the problem is more and more evident recently as the Canadiens have lost 4 of their last 5 games.

Will Carbonneau change his strategy or will Bob Gainey pull the trigger and acquire a power play specialist with a hard shot (Philippe Boucher anyone)? From: http://www.nhl-northeast.com

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  Tags: canadiens, islanders, montreal, new+york, streit

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