Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

Montreal Mess

That was a big game to lose. 6-2 for Carolina. Not good for your Montreal Canadiens is an understatement.

Some players looked decent, such as PK Subban, Mike Cammalleri and Mathieu Darche, who was a pinball all over the ice. At times, it looked like it was the Hurricanes vs. David Desharnais. So the good news is that there were some bright lights.

Ellers, I mean others, looked terrible. Such as Lars Eller.

Do I sound like a broken record?

Eller isn’t NHL calibre right now. He’ll have one good shift, and then 5 bad ones. Is it disappointing? Sure. I wish he was dominating. But the reality is he is not. And there really isn’t anyone to step into his place. The trade deadline was a month ago. So the cavalry ain’t coming.

Here’s the really worrying factor: Carey Price looks off. Not just off, he looks tired. Really tired.

But they have to nail down a spot. Can they do that with Auld if they give CP30 a bit of a rest? I’m not sure they can.

Bottom line: two weeks ago, the Habs looked like they were moving on up in the standings as the playoffs approached. Now, they’re dragging themselves across the finish line. And their schedule isn’t exactly easy over the final five games. New Jersey always plays them hard. And you know the Leafs want nothing more than to knock the Canadiens out of playoff contention again. Don’t count that out: it happened four years ago and it could happen again.

And don’t say lightning never strikes twice: it hits the top of Place Ville Marie dozens of times a year.

I’m starting to get nervous. The stars aren’t aligning, they’re combusting. Jacques Martin needs to get a lot more out of his horses, notably Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri.

Otherwise, I fear a first round playoff series of Alex Ovechkin, or Mike Richards, versus David Desharnais. And that, probably, wouldn’t be pretty.

But it would be prettier than the alternative: no playoffs at all.

Come on, Jacques, get this team together and start circling the wagons. It’s the most important time of the year. Time to get this ship on the right course.

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This is not “the most important time of the year”. These are the least meaningful games the Habs have played all year. The most important time of the year starts in round 1.

We’re used to the Habs being life and death to make the playoffs every year and only making it in after a late charge, which is why the whole “most important time of the year” is what we’re used to. We’ve only seen the Habs holding a playoff seed down the stretch once in the last few years, and their lead was so unsurmountable that even the most narrative-starved media couldn’t pretend their spot wasn’t secure.

But now? Let’s be realistic. Even with the win, Carolina’s a long shot to pass the Habs. There was a chance the Habs might improve their seeding, but that was a long shot as well. The Habs making the playoffs has been largely settled for weeks now. And while they were playing for seeding there wasn’t much seeding to be had either.

Posted by MathMan on 03/31/11 at 12:17 AM ET


I’d still suggest this is the most important part of the season thus far. Against Washington and Boston I give us a chance, against Philly? Not looking good. these points are important, or else we could be out in 4 games just as we were two years ago.

Last year’s team tripped across the finish line as well, but they were playing as a team. Lately, the Habs look way off. They need to regroup and get through this if they want a shot in round one.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 03/31/11 at 12:33 AM ET


CP30?  Christ, you should be fired for that inane piece of idiocy.

Posted by ransacktheelder on 03/31/11 at 09:43 AM ET


I think the Habs have to do everything they can to avoid a round 1 match-up with the Flyers. I don’t see any way they can win that series. Other than that, they have to get moving and build up some momentum for the play-offs to hopefully go on a bit of a run.

Posted by BlackXinu on 03/31/11 at 11:09 AM ET


The Habs are not big enough nor tough enough to do anything in the playoffs.

Pacioretty was their only true power forward who can play top-6 minutes.

They have too many midgets (Gionta, Cammy), too many stiffs (Gomez, Eller)
and too little offense to do anything come the postseason.

It’ll be first round and buh-bye!

Posted by Peter on 04/01/11 at 12:16 PM ET


Its interesting to note the differences of opinion on what the Habs have right now.
Sure they had tons of fire power against the Canes the first go around,and not so much on the return trip.
Eller… I gotta stop ya. To say he isn’t NHL ready is a little bitchy. He’s played well with AKos, and with a little more conditioning he could be better than Pacoretti. IF JM could slow down on the line changes every other game, we could actually play as a team. There’s been too much expected out of the key guys (those producing this year), and not so much out of the over paid. On occasions I feel JM should bench Gomez. But talent wise (not what he is using but what he has ) there isn’t someone to replace him. Desharnais does a good job winning face-offs, and gets very creative with the puck, but he’s a rook with some learning to do. And Hamrlik…man, steady to increasingly letting up 2 on 1s. I’;d say bench him for a game as well, but there’snot anyone they could call up just to give him a jolt. At his age though, taking him out of the lineup could do a lot of damage in the long run.

But, looking now,we have a fairly healthy team. I mean we don;t need to be overly worried about the guys. Price may be a lil gassed, and JM should likely have played Auld a little more earlier on. But , with the playoffs coming in 2 weeks, they need the points and shouldn’t gamble that they are in like flynn.

Again with the garbage about needing to be bigger. Reality is,IF the Habs were to change up their entire system, then Bigger guys would be an asset. Speed and skill don’t translate into a lot of top talent available for cheap when the Habs have been looking.    So give up on the excuses,,, we haven’t played one playoff game in ‘11 and you already sold out on them. Fans or critics?? I for one am a Fan and I don;t believe there’s a team out there that can’t be beat by our Habs

Posted by Halfnthebag from Halifax on 04/01/11 at 03:07 PM ET


They certainly looked better on Saturday. And believe me, I think they can repeat last year’s playoff performance and then some - but they have been lacking in intensity of late. Saturday was a good test. Tomorrow versus Chicago will be a better one.

Eller, however, I still say isn’t ready. He has looked out of step most of the year. Yes, he’s been better of late, but his performance on the whole has been very sub-par. He is the same age as Pacioretty, and apparently much more skilled - yet he has not played even close to the level of MaxPac. Maybe he can change my mind in the playoffs, but the sub-par play mixed with bad penalties makes me think he needs more time in the AHL.

And size wise…yes, they’re small. But the Habs have grit, determination and smarts. They beat much bigger Penguins and Capitals teams in the playoffs last year. Their speed will be a factor again this year, no matter who they draw. Do I wish they were bigger? Sure. But size doesn’t win hockey games. Scoring goals - and stopping them - do. If the Habs can do both of those, they can go somewhere.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 04/04/11 at 10:45 PM ET

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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