The Canadiens are still re-adjusting to the post-Carbonneau world, and Bob Gainey is clearly still adjusting to life back behind the bench. For an interesting look at Habs coaching hires over the past three decades -- and the apparent bilingual requirement -- check out this FanPost at Habs Eyes on the Prize.
The Last Dynasty (22-37-8, 30th) at The Second-to-Last Dynasty (36-24-7, 5th/E)
7:30 EDT | [telco of some sort] Centre | MSG+
Islanders Nation: "Sign this man!"
What? Who? Me?
Islanders Nation: "Yes. Come home. It is your destiny."
Uuuummm ... how much is Streit making?
Islanders Nation: "There will be no money involved. But on your death bed, you will receive total consciousness."
Also at Habs Eyes on the Prize, Robert has a good report of how things went in Gainey's first game back: Robert saw three different periods -- and Gainey even admitted afterward that he wasn't sure what adjustments the Oilers made during a second period that tipped severely against the Habs. Nothing like jumping right back into the fire.
But Montreal won, in OT. You know that several players are relieved to be rid of Carbonneau -- otherwise Gainey wouldn't have done this to his fiery protege, and so late in the season. So the Habs, fighting for their playoff standing, have everything to play for and no excuses. Unless ... is "just not good enough" an excuse?
All things being equal, the Canadiens suffer from a depth problem and an injury problem. Their power play still hasn't recovered from the loss of some guy who leads the Islanders in points. And pre-season acquisition Robert Lang was arguably their best player before an injury shelved him for the season. (Why does that sound familiar?)
Between the Pipes
|2008 - Yann Danis||21||1232||8||10||2||1||50||2.44||672||622||.926||2|
|2008 - Carey Price||42||2461||20||14||6||4||113||2.75||1189||1076||.905||1|
You've probably heard or seen that young Carey Price has struggled along with his team, but his performance has rebounded recently. He's not currently the phenom that has been hyped like some such Luongo -- but he's no Leafs goaltender, either. Still, for the season he is 30th in the league by save percentage. If ex-Hab Yann Danis qualified -- a big if -- his .926 would tie for second with Tomas Vokoun, who has played 48 games. Amazing. Tonight could be a big homecoming for the kid.
As Doug and Mike both mentioned in the injury post, if Danis gets even more playing time because of Joey MacDonald's injury, he might just steal the Islanders out of prime lottery land.
Speaking of the unending injury carnage, poor Sean Bergenheim is out with that groin -- right as the kid was starting to assert his influence all over games. But for once, the Islanders have a replacement not from Bridgeport but from their own injury list: Things have changed since Nate Thompson was last in the lineup, and the former P-Bruin under Scott Gordon recognizes why:
"[Learning Gordon's system] takes a little bit of time, but once you get to that same page and everyone is doing the same things, even if there's a mistake, someone else is there to pick up for him. It's just the full 60 minutes that really pays off in the long run."
But About Those Habs
Now these Habs: Are they a fragile bunch? Could they not handle Carbonneau's intensity -- or were his inexperience and communication problems legit causes for a downfall? What in his approach changed between last season and this? Was this UFA-laden roster just never going to be enough to get it done -- particularly under the overhyped pressure of the 100th anniversary?
Barring an epic run under Gainey, Habs fans will be sifting through such questions in the offseason -- whenever they can evade the gossip and drama that the competitive Montreal media forces down their throats, of course.
Montreal Canadiens Injuries
New York Islanders Injuries