Sunday, December 9th, 2007

The major news continues to be the Habs' recent struggles, specifically a weak effort in a 5-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

Dave Stubbs calls the Habs' effort "feeble", and notes a surprising statistic, the 36-36 draw in shots taken by both teams. Cam Ward made 35 saves?

Mike Boone of HIO bleeds virtual tears in an agonized blog detailing the causes of the Habs' skid. To sum up: the Habs can't skate, can't score, and can't keep the puck out of their own net. Yeah, that just about sums it up. Boone waxes Dickensian in noting how the Canadiens, in failing to really show up for their last five home games, are actually breaking the hearts of sick children in Montreal hospitals, who "wake up smiling on Saturday mornings ... in joyful anticipation of watching their beloved Montreal Canadiens on television." I would laugh, except I remember being a sick kid in a hospital, a long time ago, and actually waking up smiling in joyful anticipation of watching the Habs on HNIC on Saturdays. This was before HNIC switched to its present All Leafs All The Time format, obviously. This post is notable for Boone's criticism of the goaltending, as Carey Price is a favourite of his.

TSN.ca fronts a "how the mighty have fallen" story, noting Montreal's terrible home record (0-4-1 in their last five). Teams used to be afraid of coming into the Canadiens' house ... now they enter without knocking, track mud over the carpets, put their feet up on the coffee table, slap the Habs' wives on their asses and generally make themselves at home.

For another perspective see the Carolina News and Observer. Staff writer Luke DeCock - I'm assuming that's really his name - focusses on the 'Canes dominance over the Habs at the Bell Centre since the lock-out: they've won nine straight. One big reason for that is Erik Cole, who has 27 points in 26 career games against Les Boys. No doubt about, the 'Canes own the Habs.

Alessandro Nicolo writes on something called intersportswire.com that it is time for Saku Koivu to part ways with the Montreal Canadiens. He feels that Koivu has been unfairly treated by the Habs, who have failed to give him wingers to bury his passes or to protect him from the carnivorous French media. For Koivu's own sanity, Nicolo feels, Bob Gainey should be a good guy and send him to a contender. Well. Koivu has been a great player for the Habs: he's all heart, and he's got a big CH tattooed on it to boot. But the Habs have been VERY good to him too. They've made him a wealthy man, stuck by him through an endless string of injuries, and brought him into the inner fold of the Habs elite. So I don't think Gainey owes him anything. And Gainey likely wouldn't get much for him in a trade, so why would he deal him? Koivu has a reasonable contract, is well-loved by the city, and brings a lot to his team. He's not an impact player, so his trade value is neglible. Nothing is out of the question, but from here it looks like all sides are best served with Koviu rounding his career out in Montreal.

Speaking of trade rumours, Spector discusses the possible market for a deal involving Cristobal Huet. This is indeed a trade that has a chance of happening, but as Spector says, look for it to occur closer to the deadline. At the risk of disappointing all you arm-chair GMs, I would add that the Habs will be lucky - very lucky - to get as much as a 1st round pick for Huet, so don't expect a Huet deal to do anything to solve the team's present scoring woes.

The Hamilton Bulldogs have recalled defenceman Jon Gleed from their ECHL affiliate, the Cincinnati Cyclones. Presumably, this means they don't expect big Ryan O'Byrne to be returning any time soon, which is good news for him, and for Habs fans who are tired of seeing their favourite players get sand kicked in their faces. Though certainly no goon, O'Byrne - who weighs in at the approximate height and weight of a Wookie - will be expected to help rid the Canadiens' beach of bullies.

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