Monday, 27 February 2012

Game Sixty-Four: Habs v Lightening

Happy Monday! Happy trade deadline day! Well, hold that happy thought, because there's been plenty of talk last night and this morning that the Habs might be a very active team today, which makes me very, very nervous.

And for good reason. Some of the names being bantered around as trade bait include the usual (Kostitsyn, Campoli, Moen) ... the illogical (Plekanec) and the downright crazy (Gomez to Edmonton ... whaaa?).

The most concerning of the speculation is about Subban. I'm not sure what the heck is going on there (hopefully nothing), but if this franchise were to deal off a foundation piece for ... well ... anything else, it would be a mistake of ridiculous proportions.

So we sit ... and wait ... and twitch ... and hope that no incredibly stupid or self-destructive decisions are made in the next four or so hours.

FIRST BIG TRADE: And herrrrrrrre we go. Kostitsyn, as has been widely speculated about for weeks, has been traded to Nashville. No word on the returns (yet).

KOSTITSYN TRADE RETURNS: 2nd round pick ('13) and we also get the conditional pick back from the Gill trade.

That's it. A second rounder. This probably means that management had already decided that the team wouldn't pursue a contract extension with AK46, and the deal was "let's take what we can get instead of nothing." I can't argue with the logic, but given the choice between a pick and negotiating rights to Radulov, the later would have been the obvious choice.

I'm assuming the Preds wouldn't go for that offer, assuming it was ever on the table.

CAMPOLI UPDATE: Apparently for either 5th round (offer) or 4th round (request) pick. Not sure if it's this year or next year's draft. Reputed deal might be sealed if one of the two teams bends.

Campoli for anything would suit me just fine. So yeah ... worse comes to worse, take the 5th.

- It's now about three hours to deadline, no confirmation either way about Campoli. With Moen's injury woes, I'm pretty resigned that he probably won't be taken. Still nervous that Habs might do something really goofy involving either Plekanec or Subban.

MAJOR PLAYER ACQUISITION UPDATE: We got Brad Staubitz! For free! Who? Yeah .. me too, but here you go [player profile]. Staubitz' salary will count a grand total of $60,000 against the cap, according to CapGeek. Heh.

Seriously, Staubitz is a journeyman fighter - which makes him part of the dying breed. The Hockey News notes that Staubitz has more fights this year (9) than he does goal in his entire NHL career (8) comprised of 196 games. So there you go.

CAMPOLI NO-GO: That's the latest. He's stayin'.

At least nobody *really* important was dealt. So .... it could have been worse?

That's your trade deadline! As usual, the biggest deals were in the days leading up to the deadline, not on the day itself. Still doesn't halt the silly media feeding frenzy. Gotta fill those broadcast hours with content. Me? I'd rather watch a replay of the World Lumberjack Championships.

WHAT COULD-HAVE-BEEN UPDATE: The general original reaction to the Kostitsyn trade was that the Habs got fair return. I very much begged to differ - a dependable 20 goal scorer on a dysfunctional hockey team is still a 20 goal scorer on a dysfunctional hockey team, and deserved greater returns than the 50+ overall pick.

So while the merits of whether we got shafted were debated, news came over the wire about this deal.

That's right - the Preds give up their 1st and 4th round picks - and get back a 12 goal-scoring forward.


KOSTITSYN EPILOGUE: It's been pointed out to me that Detroit was also a suitor for  Gaustad, which presupposed that there was a bidding war between the Wings and Preds for the Sabres' forward.

But as Pierre LeBrun pointed out today, the Sabers were steadfast that they would only accept a first round draft pick, something that the Wings don't have. So if there was a "bidding war", the Wings showed up without a gun.

Here's the deal. The Preds were basically going all in today - trading many futures to fill some remaining gaps. The Habs almost certainly could have had a prospect tossed in with the 2nd rounder, but Habs management probably rushed the trade because they were highly motivated to move Kostitsyn out of town for the first "reasonable" offer.

Well a 2nd round pick isn't unreasonable, but it's definitely undervalued.

HAPPY GAME DAY UPDATE: Like the title says, happy game day!  Just one more and we're SO done with Florida. What is the Habs record during these little Florida swings anyway? I think it's something like 1 win and 94 losses. Sure seems like it.

Speaking of losing ... do you remember that little dust up between Gomez and Habs Assistant "coach" (all Habs coaches now require a parenthesis since they're not going to be around much longer) Randy Ladouceur during a morning practice in Brassard? Remember how Ladouceur was all, like ... yelling at Gomez and Gomez was all like ... yelling at Ladouceur right in front of the entire team and all the media and all the people watching in the stands? AWKWARD!

Then remember how after the fight Cunneyworth was all ... like ... "we're mad at Gomez 'cause he can't do a simple drill and he's worthless because we play this North/South game thing and he doesn't know what it is" and then he ordered the Habs bus driver to just keep moving after Gomez was tossed under? Remember that?

Well since that time, the Habs have gone 1-5.

Just sayin'.

Carey Price will start tonight. Shocking, but true.

JEAN BELIVEAU: You get better, okay? We want you around for at least one more parade.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “When we got Sergei, I heard nothing but bad things about Sergei — that he couldn’t do this, he couldn’t do that, he couldn’t do this, he’s not going to help you, all those types of things.”

“They’re wrong, we’re right — Sergei is one of the best things. We virtually gave up nothing and got our first-line left-winger. … He’s a good player. I expect the same thing of Andrei. I know he’s a terrific talent, and he can play.”

- Barry Trotz, pushing the dagger a little deeper into the chest of Habs fans.

HALF-SEASON STELLAR COACHING RECORD UPDATE: Since Randy Cunneyworth was brought in behind the bench, the Habs have been burning up the League, posting a blistering 11-17-3 record. That's 10 games short of exactly one half of one season. Translated into a full season, at that pace, this team would finish with 74 points.

74 points will probably earn you 14th, maybe 13th place in a 15 team Conference.

How much of this well bear on whether Cunneyworth still has a job after game 82, we'll have to see.

First Period:

- Habs off to a relatively decent start, puck possession is good. But how long can this possibly last?

- Answer: Not long. Stamkos making Subban look not good. Bolts 1-0.

- Habs really are creating quality offensive chances, Garon with a hot hand (so far).

- Desharnais with tremendous speed and (FINALLY!) elects to take the shot - nice one at that, to even the game. Tampa defense preoccupied with Cole on that rush, giving Desharnais the open ice.

- Pretty even period, Habs keeping mistakes to a minimum, Garon playing well for Tampa. The question as usual, can they maintain competitiveness over 60 minutes?

Second Period:

- Simple mistakes are killing this team. Emelin gets caught way out of position, leaving Hall unprotected for the easy goal.

- Eller doing all the hard work, setting Bourque up pretty in the slot, and he wiffs on the shot. Bourque continues to look ... well ... bad.

- White with a goal-scorer's fake on Garon, but can't quite slip it past Garon's desperate paddle save. So close.

- Emelin really struggling tonight, having trouble keeping his head up, and he's getting hammered for it.

- Malone absolutely furious with Emelin, and I'm not sure why. But he's livid.

- Still not sure what the heck happened, but Habs end up with a 5 minute powerplay. Watch them blow it, of course.

- Too many low-percentage cross-zone passes on the man advantage, Tampa having little difficulty intercepting and clearing. Habs are indeed going to blow this.

- Canadiens getting plenty of powerplay practice tonight. If they don't score soon, they'll drop back to 30th place in that category.

- Setup is terrible. Basically impossible shots from easily blocked locations. They have no chance of scoring, really.

- Garon making some really remarkable saves tonight. Habs can't win for losing.

- Habs powerplay a disaster tonight - more so than usual. Kaberle is a mess (more so than usual). I still can't figure out after almost an entire schedule of one season's games how the specialty unit has not improved an inch.  Monumental organizational fail.

Third Period:

- Habs have only won once this year after trailing headed to the third. Doubt things will change tonight.

- The new guy Staubitz in a fight with Labrie. And it's a marathon.

- Gorges a tremendous play to stop Stamkos driving to Price. Keeps his team in the game. For now.

- Ryan White has had some ridiculously good chances tonight - he's working hard, really ought to be rewarded.

- Weber, very clunky penalty. Out of position, he uses his stick and it's an easy hooking call for the officials. Poor execution, poor discipline.

- Gomez, another ineffective outing, very depleted ice time tonight. Only Staubitz has less.

- Tampa really shutting it down in their zone, passes aren't connecting, and shots aren't getting through. Habs forwards are being kept to the parameter. Not looking good.

- Pretty listless finish, you'd never know this team was just a goal from tying. No desperation, no push.

- Something of a push with a minute left, but it's too little, too late. Another loss.

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