Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

If Montreal’s season was a Simpsons episode…

It’s “Who Shot Mr. Burns?,” and they’ve been declared dead. Sure, they could be upgraded to alive at another hospital, a la Señor Burns - but this game was horrible.

Pathetic effort. Pathetic.

It was David Desharnais, Erik Cole, Max Pacioretty, and Carey Price versus the Buffalo Sabres.

Where was Tomas Plekanec? Rene Bourque? Scott “4 days away from a goalless year” Gomez?

This team needs to wake up. I suspect more roster players will be dealt. A disappointing game from a very, very disappointing team. Not a banner year for fans of the Habs, indeed.

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Markov skates, Moen sits

Andrei Markov skated today, for the first time in basically two months, a 15 minute solo session that suggests he is still quite far away from returning to the lineup. For those counting, it has been 14 months since Markov last laced them up n an NHL game.

Another missing Hab, Ryan White, actually practiced over the past couple of days and appears close to a return. However, he will not play tonight against Buffalo.

The Canadiens, as a team, have to win in regulation tonight. They are 8 points back from a playoff spot, and only 2 points up on their opponents, the lowly Sabres. By my count, the Habs basically need 6 of the next 8 points to stay in the race, and they also need to stop giving points away through OT and shoot outs. Narrow the gap to 4 points by mid-February and they’re in the race. Anything less and I suspect spring arrives early for Les Glorieux.

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Habs romp Wings, break comes at worst time

Who saw that one coming? 7-2 over the Detroit Red Wings, definitely the crown jewel in Randy Cunneyworth’s short head-coaching career. Sure, the Wings looked awful, but they are a very good team, and in first place for a reason. The Habs have now scored 6 or more three times in Cunneyworth’s short reign. Guess how many times that happened with Martin in charge - I will give you a clue - not very many.

Alex Emelin may have had his best game as a Hab, the Cole-Desharnais-Pacioretty line dominated, and Carey Price, while largely untested, was solid.

Can the Habs still make the playoffs? Keep it in single digits, and yes, they can. Currently 8 points back, the Habs need to win 3 of 4 coming out of the all star weekend to make the playoffs a real possibility. They can do it, and if last night was any evidence, they will. However, if the all star break came at the wrong time for any team, it’s Montreal. Finally firing on all cylinders, they now get a five day break. Kind of makes you wonder when things will start going right for this team? Hopefully, last night’s performance was the first step towards the post season.

So now, a few boring days of all star blah. The most wasteful weekend in sports. Let’s get the real action going again.

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The trials and travails of PK Subban

Questionable decisions on the ice. Shouting matches with an assistant coach. Smiling when he shouldn’t smile. Yapping when he shouldn’t yap.

Bad mannered. Temperamental. Egotistical. Oh yes. PK Subban is trouble, alright - in that he acts like most 22 year olds.

With 19 points in 47 games, and a +/- rating of 0, after listening to callers on Montreal radio today, you’d think PK was having the worst season a defenceman has ever had for the Canadiens. Remember, in Montreal, when it rains, it pours.

Now the dogs are out. Trade PK. Get rid of him. Move him at all costs. Get value while he’s still valuable.

Folks: PK Subban is 22 years old. Want some comparables? Go look at the statistics of one Doughty, Drew and one Myers, Tyler. Take a good, long look. Then tell me what you think. Because here’s what I think:

Trade PK, and you’ll regret it for a long, long time.

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Afternoon reading: Habs in the outhouse? (?)

If you’re looking for some light, questionable, mildly objectionable reading, here’s an article from Chris Zelkovich in today’s Toronto Star:

Iconic teams tumble from penthouse to outhouse

People in Toronto often wonder why other parts of the country take issue with what is, without question, a great city: here’s a perfect example of why. Here, the Star’s columnist compares the Canadiens to the Islanders and Dolphins, and writes as if they’ve been 30th in the NHL for a decade. Taking shots at a team when they’re down is one thing - suggesting they’re bottom of the barrel, and alluding to them as an embarrassment, is another.

Sure, no Stanley Cups since 1993, but remember, the Canadiens were first in the East in 2008.

Interesting to note there is little mention of the Maple Leafs, of whom you could make the same, if not a much, much stronger argument.


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Montreal blows another one

The Canadiens blew a 4-2 lead Friday night, losing 5-4 in a shootout to Piitsburgh. The Habs have now won 1 of 8 shootouts, and scored 4 goals in them. But who’s counting?

Many will blame PK Subban for this loss, pegging him for the Dustin Jeffrey goal that started the comeback. I think that’s bunk. Scott Gomez was out of position, and the rest of the team basically stopped skating. If it wasn’t for PK, it would have been Pittsburgh in the offensive zone against, well, anyone.

I don’t blame Gomez for the loss either, despite that terrible play, and the fact that he missed on the final shot of the shootout - where a goal would have tied it.

Nope, I blame Randy Cunneyworth: and you can start at the decision of having Scott Gomez take a shot in a shootout.

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Montreal: backs against the wall

If the Habs have faced a must win all year, this is it. Backs against the wall? They’re through them.

Meanwhile, turmoil in Montreal. I said the seats were becoming emptier, and people called me crazy. Well, now many articles and pundits are commenting on hundreds, if not thousands, of empty seats at the Bell Centre each game. Scalpers can’t sell their tickets. Montrealers are slowly losing interest. Many, it seems, don’t really care.

But to the players, none of that matters. Just like language doesn’t matter. They simply want to win.

Peter Budaj between the pipes tonight, Carey Price tomorrow. Can Montreal close the (enormous) gap between them and Pittsburgh? Penguins-Montreal, faceoff in about 30 seconds. Enjoy.

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Habs-Caps preview

This is a must win for Montreal. You’ve heard of “4 point games?” Well, this is a sixer. The Canadiens are chasing Washington, and the Habs’ chances are hanging by a thread. Beat Washington, and get 3 points out of the weekend, and the chase continues. Lose tonight and one of those games, and the odds plummet.

Carey Price starts in net. The Capitals attempt to extract their pound of flesh from Rene Bourque. Should be a great game.

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Habs…beat the Rangers?

Well, here’s something I didn’t expect to write on Sunday around 10 pm: the Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers. 4-1. And it wasn’t a fluke. They dominated the game from start to finish. Physical play, crisp passes, and solid defence.

Where did the regular Canadiens go?

Now, if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m looking at the season in 3-game pockets. They went 2-1 in the last one. They needed 2 of 3 against Boston, Ottawa and New York. They got 1.5. You know what? Against three of the NHL’s best teams of late, that’s actually pretty good.

To me, without question, this was the Canadiens most impressive win of the season. So what have we got here?

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Final thoughts on Cammalleri, Habs-Sens

The Habs face the Sens tonight. I said they had to win 2 of 3 on Thursday, and they lost to Boston, so this is it. Win today, win tomorrow, or I really think the playoff chase is out of gas. We won’t know for sure until, in my opinion, the end of January, but this team is running on fumes, and a win tonight would help move it forward at least a little bit.

As for Mike Cammalleri, here are my final thoughts:

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com


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