Friday, February 8th: That loud, whining sound ...

... is the sound of a million fans jumping off the bandwagon. Though it's just one game, Thursday's loss to the hated Maple Leafs has Habs' fans in a foul mood from coast to coast. From the volume of the complaints, you'd think it was the Habs who were next to last in the East, and the Leafs who were challenging Ottawa for first. Many fans are openly excoriating head coach Guy Carbonneau for his incompetence, despite the Habs' dream-like season. That's the biz, I guess. It certainly sucks to lose to the Leafs, especially when idiot former-Hab Darcy Tucker scores, but it really is just one game, people.

Tsn.ca reports that Roman Hamrlik will miss a third straight game with the flu. The flu! Three games? What's he got, the Bubonic Flu? The article also notes that the Habs' play has dipped in the last three games, during which they've surrendered 12 goals, losing twice and winning ugly in the other game against a battered and undermanned Senators' team. Coach Carbonneau says some players - he means Koivu, Higgins, and Ryder - have been trying so hard to break out of scoring droughts, they're forgetting their defensive assignments. Carbo will reunite those three players in another attempt to reignite their dormant chemistry. If they can start playing as well as they did last year, without disrupting the production of Kovalev, Plecanek, and Kostitsyn, the Habs would have arguably the best top-two lines in hockey.

Michael Ryder says he's in a "catch-22" position, benched for not scoring goals, unable to score goals because he's benched. Ryder has handled a very frustrating situation with class and grace, not whining, complaining, or in any way reminding anyone of Sergei Samsonov. He'll bounce back from this, but unfortunately, it won't be with the Habs.

Canadian Press finds Chris Higgins upset with himself for not scoring. He's got 4 points in his last 15 games, and was bounced from line to line against the Leafs on Thursday.

Spector of Fox Sports reports on recent rumours that Michael Ryder could be traded for Marian Hossa or Alex Tanguay, and says that while the trading of Ryder is a virtual certainty, it is obviously insane to hope that he would fetch such a high return. A more likely scenario, he says, would see the Habs pick up a defensive centre with face-off skills. Exciting. Why would the Habs even bother making such a sideways deal? Might as well just hang on to Ryder for the balance of the season, in case he comes in handy during the playoff drive.

The Canadiens have managed to sign one of the best players in the American university system, picking up Brock Trotter, who has decided to leave the University of Denver under decidedly murky circumstances. It's "a private matter between the player and the coach," according to Trevor Timmins. Trotter will join Hamilton.

Would you trade Chris Higgins, a "prospect", and a 2008 first rounder for soon to be UFA Marian Hossa? I doubt Bob Gainey would either, but the Ottawa Sun says that's what the deal would be. Now, I would love to see the Habs get Hossa, but he's not the kind of player - a true number-one centre - they really need. If they're going to break the bank, it has to be on a Sundin-type player, and there aren't any of those available.

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