Sunday, February 1, 2009

Game Day @ Habs 2/2/09

Here we go again. As much as Montreal players and fans alike play down the rivalry between them and Boston at times, we all know the Habs want this one badly. It's been easy for Habs fans over the years to say Toronto is a bigger rival. Those games have been closer. In the past, the Habs have had their way with the B's. But the past doesn't do them any good in the present. Not when the Bruins are now the better team. With the much better coach. And just for good measure, Montreal is playing some, shall we say, "uninspired hockey"? They got swept in sunny Florida this week, and are a whopping 5-5 in their last 10 games. On the flip side, the B's are 7-2-1 in their last 10. This while sputtering at times, as they re-integrate their walking wounded into the line-up. All of the Bruins that have just come off IR have played pretty well, but obviously not near where they were when they went down, or where they should be again. But the bottom line is, these are two teams playing at the opposite end of the spectrum, both physically and emotionally. All that being can bank on the Habs coming out flying today. You just know they WANT this one. They NEED this one. They find themselves in the odd situation of playing catch-up to the Bruins. Both in the overall standings (Boston holds a 16, yes, 16 point lead over Montreal) and in the season series as the Habs are 0-2-1 in the last three games, since taking a shootout win in Montreal in October. The Habs, if they want to get their mojo back, need to win this one, in regulation. But all of that emotion coming from the crowd and the home bench, may actually help Boston. They've played pretty well lately, but for long stretches recently, they've seemed to lack much "emotion". A trip to Montreal can fix that in a hurry. If they don't match the emotion, they could be in trouble. But I don't think that will be an issue. I fully expect a strong showing today, from both sides. ROUGH STUFF: This is one of those weird games, where I almost expect the unexpected. Any time you have an emotionally charged game between rivals, anything can happen. And that means, some unlikely guys could end up throwing down. I wouldn't be stunned if someone like Mark Stuart, Dennis Wideman or even a Chuck Kobasew ended up going today. For Montreal, a Max Lapierre or a Latendresse could find themselves in a bout. But the interesting thing, to me anyway, is that Montreal called up D-man Alex Henry. Henry is a 6'6" 230lber. I've said it before and I'll say it again...if Carboneau (AKA: The RODENT) wants to alter his lineup and style of play to match up with Boston, I'm thrilled. Now, I wouldn't call this a case of them calling up a "goon". But it's close. It's clearly an attempt to insert some size and toughness into a line up that desperately needs it. In watching all of Henry's fights in the AHL this year (he's had 8), the vast majority are a case of him responding to a teammate being hit hard. Clean, but hard usually. As a result, he hasn't really fought many tough guys, just "regular players" that happened to throw a body check. That also means he's ended up going with much smaller opponents. And one of those smallish guys, Aaron Downy, gave him all he could handle. Henry throws rights, almost exclusively. He throws big shots, but doesn't look like he plays much defense in his bouts. If he goes with anyone that knows what they're doing, he could be in trouble. Lucic or Thornton *should* handle him if it comes to that. But really, I'd just let Henry run around picking up penalties and let it slide. I'd rather take an actual good player to the box with a Lucic if possible. PREDICTION: After all is said and done, I feel the better team will win. And right now, that is Boston. All of the Rodent's line-up changes will only serve to confuse and distract his team, as usual. So, I look for a B's win, 4-2. Bergeron, Ryder, Savard and Chara are your goal scorers. There will be at least one bout, but probably a pair (or more if it gets out of hand?). So, I'm going with a Kobasew-Kostopoulos wild card bout (nothing new for Kostopoulos, but Chucky would be a rarity). For the "Main event", look for Henry and Thornton. The "BIG GAME" is at 2PM today, contrary to what you may have heard. The 6PM game is merely icing on this sports fan cake. Go B's-Kynch


  1. Jack Edwards' call of the Thornton/Henry bout was classic. I guess they should've called up someone who could actually play hockey. It's strange how the Habs feel they always need to have a thug in the lineup against the Bruins... as if simply playing us tough isn't enough.

  2. A thug? like Lucic?

    Perhaps you hadn't heard but one of the true thugs of the league Denis Gauthier tried to decapitate Josh Gorges on Saturday. Alex Henry was called up as his replacement.

    "All of the Rodent's line-up changes will only serve to confuse and distract his team, as usual." That's actually rather astute. Habs were simply outcoached today...again.

  3. How is Lucic a thug? Because he hits people? Please tell me what makes Lucic any different from Komisarek.

  4. Lucic is a thug for many reasons but I'll name a few: his celebration after the fight with Komisarek and mocking the bench. That's bush league..something I would expect from Sean Avery or Darcy Tucker.

    How about when Lucic spending an entire game running away from Laraque, and at times, jumping to the bench? Yet Lucic is only too happy to pummel much smaller players. That's not unlike Denis Gauthier!