Penguins Power Play Proves Poisonous

It’s a waiting game now. Waiting to see if Andrei Markov is gone for good from the series.

Is that a depressing opening line or what?

But Montreal losing 6-3 in the opening game against Pittsburgh shouldn’t be depressing. We shouldn’t let it get us down. You bet it would’ve been nice to grab the opener, but it was obvious the team had no zip to their game, and Jaroslav Halak in nets looked tired, far removed from those cat-like moves we saw from him in the Washington series.

But it’s a serious concern if Andrei Markov is out for a lengthy stretch. It’s one of the worst-case scenarios we can think of. We’re already without Jaroslav Spacek for far too long with what was described initially as a virus but now is an undisclosed injury.

We were just kind of getting used to having an-almost healthy lineup, and then Markov, the recipient of a legal hit by Matt Cooke, went down in a twisted heap, and like I said earlier, now it’s a waiting game. I guess almost getting used to a healthy squad was way too much to ask.

One thing’s also for sure: It may have been a legal hit Cooke threw at Markov, but before this series is over, Habs fans everywhere will be looking to lynch this guy who has a reputation of dirty and cheap hits that often injure others. I’d love to see some Hab, any Hab, pummel this guy. He was nasty in Vancouver and he’s nasty in a Penguins uniform.

Montreal needs a rest after their glorious seven-game series win over Washington. They’ve come off such a high that this really wasn’t a surprise. They were bound to be as dull as most of my tools. Imagine what it must have been like for Team Canada in 1972. They won the thing with Paul Henderson’s goal with 34 seconds left in game eight in Moscow, and instead of coming home and celebrating, they still had to play a meaningless game in Prague against the Czechs. It was the last thing they wanted. In the end, they tied the Czechs 3-3 with four seconds left and played without any kind of enthusiasm whatsoever. 

The Canadiens will regroup with a little more rest; Jaro Halak, who was yanked and replaced by Carey Price in the third period, will return to the nets and play better, and the team will regain their energy as the series moves forward. It’s just one game, and I’m optimistic that the Habs will turn it around. They might want to think about tightening up their penalty killing though. Or even better, don’t take any penalites. Four power play goals by the Penguins killed the Canadiens on this night.

Random Notes:

Don Cherry called Halak “Havlak” all evening. And then, when Ed Johnston was interviewed, he called him “Havlak” too. C’mon guys, it can’t be that difficult to get the poor guy’s name straight. He’s been in the league for awhile now.

PK Subban scored his first NHL goal. The first of hundreds. Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta also bulged the twine.

Shots on goal were Montreal 31, Pittsburgh 24.

Don’t forget it’s an afternoon game on Sunday – 2 pm eastern.

22 thoughts on “Penguins Power Play Proves Poisonous”

  1. Hey Dennis, The Habs were tired, very tired .I could see that right from the start, Halak , although not playing to poorly was beat.He didn’t make the saves he is capable of making, I said at the end of the second that Carey Price shold be in the net, Jaques Martin left it a bit to long I thought.I’m thinking that the Habs will rebound,hell they outshot the Pens by eight shots and outfaced off them as well.Never look down on a performance like this,they will rebound.

  2. Habs in a slump? Will the underdogs make a comeback?

    Well, I think there may be a bit more empirical evidence to support that notion now. I think those boys at TSN and CBC won’t be so quick to write them off this round.

    I just pray we get Markov back.

    And as for game 2, I say, give Price a shot. He’s competant, and I think at this point he may be reading and willing to prove himself. He just needs the shot. And frankly Hav- er, sorry, Halak could use some rest. The stress of being a goalie in the playoffs must be unbearable. Let him watch a game, collect his thoughts, and then let him get back to being the brick wall we all know and love in Montreal during game 3. The Habs can win with Price in net, I believe that. Halak is our man, but Price deserves a shot.

  3. After a while, I just forget Don Cherry and his intentional mispronunciations (anyone remember “Ponicahosky”?) so I didn’t think to much of “Havlak” at all.

    I really don’t think losing Markov will be the end of the series for Montreal. It hurts, but it’s not like the team doesn’t have any competent defenders- Hal Gill, Josh Gorges, Roman Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek (who says he’ll play in Game 2) are all performing well and this PK Subbhan kid looks like he’ll be the real deal. Plus the Canadiens beat the Capitals with a team game- no one is bigger than the team. If Jaroslav Halak went down then I might say it’s “series over” but he didn’t; and Glenn Healy said the Habs beat themselves tonight with all the stupid penalties they took. If they play more like they did in the third (played *without* Markov) than they did in the rest of the game, they stand a very good chance of winning the series.

    I know it was reported after the game that Markov left the arena on crutches, but so too did Jordan Staal, and Staal didn’t look terribly injured so I wonder if the crutches are a mind game. We’ll see after the evaluation.


  4. There was no fire today, they were tired and the Pens took advantage of it.

    But there are some positives with this loss. Subban is showing endless potential, he was cool as a cucumber.
    The veterans are elevating their game.
    This game might have just been the result of some wear and tear against the Caps. Game 2 should be very interesting

    Never count that Habs out.

  5. Dennis, I think the turning point in the game came just after we rallied to come back and narrow the Pens lead to 3-2 in the second.
    There was only a few minutes left to play in the period and it looked very promising at that point.
    But then, Andrei Kostitsyn carelessly pushed the puck ever so softly directly on the Penguins stick in their zone instead of dumping the puck behind the net so we could execute a line change.
    That give-away by Kostitsyn lead to Pittsburgh’s fourth goal at you could feel the momentum drop like a lead balloon.
    I agree with Derry that Martin should have put Price in nets either after that or at the start of the third period.
    We were guilty of a few other miscues, probably due to fatigue. In particular, Brian Gionta shooting the puck into the crowd proved costly and lead to Pittsburgh’s fifth goal in the third period and ended Halak’s night – the nail in the coffin. That kind of stuff should not happen. Neither should too many men on the ice. But it did and the Pens took advantage of those mistakes.
    I think referee Chris Lee gave us several bad penalties that altered the outcome of the game. Cooke’s hit on Markov was late. He should have been called on that. Amazingly we wound up with the penalty (Gomez – roughing) and then the Penguins got their second goal.
    There were some positives throughout this game however. PK Subban played spectacularly and flawlessly throughout. We’re going to need him now more than ever if Markov is off for very long. Congratulations on his first NHL goal, with many more to come I’m sure.
    I don’t think we can blame Havlat – I mean Halak (sorry Don Charra) for many of the goals. But Price looked good in his relief role so it’s a tough call for Martin. Remember what happened last time Martin gave Halak a day off?
    Overall though, if you take into account the Habs were running on fumes and still managed to outshoot Pittsburgh 31-24, there’s reason to be hopeful. With a good rest, some fine tuning and more disciplined play this team can resume its role as the giant killers of the Eastern Conference.
    It will be a fresh start tomorrow afternoon at the Mellon. Stay tuned…

  6. All excellent points, Danno. Kostitsyn has definitely played a soft and slightly brain-dead game lately. He hasn’t been one of our stronger guys by a country mle. And Havelots, er, Hamilton, er, Halak, was just tired for sure. And Gomez’s penalty – I didn’t even know he had a penalty until I saw Pittsburgh on the PP. Anyway, it’s just one game. I also wish we had a guy to level Cooke. Maybe O’Byrne. Maybe Subban’s a great fighter. Maybe Moen will do it.

  7. Phil – they just need some more rest. They were out of sorts and will return to be giant slayers tomorrow. Nobody said it would be easy. But they have to stay out of the penalty box.

  8. DG – all’s fair in love and war and so I’m hoping Staal has some problems. And I’m with you – they can win this series, but they need Spacek back at least. Relying on O’Byrne and Bergeron too much will take its toll.

  9. David – I think most of the hockey world has written them off. That’s why it’s going to be a beautiful story when they continue on. Putting Price in? Geez, it’s so risky, but Halak needs a rest. It’ll be very interesting to see what Martin does about this. Jacques actually impressed us a little in the Washington series. Maybe he’s got more tricks up his sleeve.

  10. You’re right, Derry. They’ll be back. They outshot them as a tired group. It’s all good.

  11. It’s kind of ironic how our defence was flat the whole regular season, then out of the blue, Spacek and Gill play like they just got injected with steroids. And PK Subban, I can’t get enough of him, he’s got attitude, but in a non cocky way. His presence just shows he’s legit. He looked like a veteran on his first playoff game. I see some Norris trophies coming his way.

  12. foster always called ivan, cornoiyay. he never got it, cherry still says lalongo, phil esposito still says carmaloff, as in Valery…….. guys who get paid big doe to be observant miss the obvious and don’t pay attention…… it used to drive me nuts when american tv hockey commentators, who know piss all anyway, would say, rOOwa, for st. patrick. i bet there are hundreds more…… the point is they keep doing it and don’t PAY ATTENTION!
    go habs

  13. being one of the premier jm dissers, i must say he did a good job against the ovenchickens……… credit where credit is due….. now do it again.

  14. Dennis, everyone is making excellent points here.

    Everyone seems to agree that Montreal was tired after getting hardly any rest after a grueling seven-game series.

    But I’d like to add another ingredient to the soup.

    Who is the jerk who made up the second round schedule?
    Montreal comes off a seven-game series and is given only one day of rest, must travel while other teams have plenty of time to be fully rested before their next game.

    By my count Montreal got shafted in the scheduling:
    Days off after last game of first round:

    Pittsburgh’s last game was April 24 giving them seven days off.
    Boston’s last game was April 26 — four days off.
    Philadelphia’s last game was April 22 — eight days off.
    Chicago’s last game was April 26 — four days off.
    Vancouver’s last game was April 25 — five days off.

    Detroit and San Jose started the second round before everybody (April 29)
    but both teams still had way more time off than Montreal:

    Detroit’s last 1st round game was April 25 — four days off
    San Jose’s last 1st round game was April 24 — five days off.
    Montreal is the only team to have commenced the second round with only one day rest.

    Now I ask you. Would it not have been possible for the NHL to have started the Montreal/Pittsburgh series on Saturday instead of Boston and Philly?

    What possible reason could the NHL have for screwing the Habs like this?

    I don’t like Gary Bettman.

  15. I was wondering just how many times Cherry was gonna pronounce his name wrong….

    Now I don’t drink anymore… buy my God if some of you would have made a drinking game out of it (Cherry saying Havlak instead of Halak)…. there would surely be some who would have perished.

    Please Don. Read your game sheets.

    I’m impressed with PK Subban. Skate, pass, handle the puck, shoot, solid on his skates… can hit… I like him.

    Shots on goal were encouraging. And the fact that they scored 2 5on5 goals to Pittsburgh’s 1.

    I’ve never been a huge Marc-Andre Fleury fan…. and I really think if they can put a guy in front of him, like Moen/Moore…. or like a Gionta who’s got good hands…

    Pucks will do in for sure.

    Go Habs Go!

  16. I need to correct something here…

    Actually Detroit’s last game was the 27th in Phoenix. So they only got one day off like us.

  17. I expected them to lose, sad to say. Didn’t hit me so hard. Not enough time to reset and recuperate. markov has to be more aware of idiots like cooke. Markov was more at fault than Cooke. I will O’byrne or Moen have orders to …. They can survive but my heart dropped when I seen it was Markov on the ice. If you think we seen heart and perseverance in the first round, this is gonna make them look deep into themselves. Gill wasn’t kidding when he said they make things harder for themselves.

  18. the cooke was not illegal but he must be dealt with. send a message. pick your spot! NO stupid penalties…… wait, just like gordie howe would. howe always evened the scored and usually a bit more.

  19. It is going to be a little tougher without Markov but I’m sure someone will take over his job while he’s out. My eyes aren’t as good as they used to be ’cause I don’t eat too many carrots anymore but I watched replays of that Cooke hit and it seemed to me that his left hand was instrumental in the injury. It appeared to me that it made contact under Markov’s chin causing his body to twist.
    You’re right Dennis, the fans will be ticked off at Cooke. Maybe our guys should rearrange his flight schedule to Montreal and he can fly with our guys. I’m sure they’ll have a relaxing chat about that hit and all will be fine. Oh…but he might want to bring his own parachute just in case there’s no parking spot for the plane!

  20. Don Cherry is a bigot and couldn’t care less – trust me if “Havlak” were some wholesome kid from Alberta or he played for his beloved Leafs or Bruins, you can be sure he would remember the name. He just hates anything that is French, European and ultimately Montreal (due to his piss poor head count back in 79 – he’s had it out for us ever since).
    Most Canadians do not think much of Don Cherry, he is knowledgeable about hockey, but he is an idiot at best. Those who do are the same losers who dropped out of high school to go on welfare and lick mustard off their shirts all day – 7th greatest Canadian? Shows how bad history is in this country – the average Canadian can’t tell you who Emily Murphy is (she got the fairer 50% of the population to be recognized as a “person”) yet they know who Don Cherry is and apparently he played a bigger role in Canadian society than she did, go figure. I bet Tommy Douglas was also a “who?” before being voted the greatest Canadian, or he might have been “Keifer Sutherland’s grandfather”, which shows were priorities are at over here! Canada is a country with great people, yet with lots of morons who don’t know much aside from hockey and reading about sexy scandals in Parliament. The CBC has lost a lot of credibility, they cannot be taken seriously, I watch my games on RDS, great announcers who properly analyze games without going on political rants or by ignoring teams that they may not like. HNIC should got the way of the dodo bird

  21. P – what I like about Cheery is his appreciation of our troups. But yes, you’re right. He shows no respect for others of different culture and nationaltity. My wife is Russian and she can’t even be in the same room when he’s on TV. I don’t know why more people don’t hammer him on this but you’ve spoken out and thanks. I like RDS too but my French just isn’t good enough to catch everything they say. If it was better, I’d be on RDS only. Bob Cole on CBC doesn’t seem to appreciate the Habs at all.

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