Habs Goalies : Which One Goes?

IMG_0640-1.JPG
Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

As the wave of relief over the long term signing of PK Subban fades, and the countdown number to the 2014-15 season grows smaller, the franchise still doesn’t lack issues to be dealt with. Some more glaring than others, especially to the general public.

After the eight year contract extension for Subban was announced, many immediately piped up feeling that the Captaincy issue was also now solved, feeling that #76 should wear the “C”.

That got BBBR to posing the following question to our readers – What’s the next big Montréal controversy? Captaincy or the backing goalie situation.

Your responses were clear. It’s all about who plays behind Carey Price. We couldn’t agree more. The franchise went an entire season with no one wearing the Captains C before it was awarded to Brian Gionta in 2010. A delay announcing his replacement won’t stop the world from turning.

On the other hand, Cap space and contracts are at the forefront of the business of hockey, and there is one contract too many within the goaltending slot.

Peter Budaj has been nothing short of wonderful during his stint as back-up for Les Glorieux.

The 31 year old, 6’1″ 192lbs tender played in 24 regular season games last season. His numbers were more than fine (10W 8L 3OT – 2.51 GAA .909SV%) as he instilled confidence in the fan base that he was more than capable of giving Price the night off. People felt that he always gave the team the chance to earn two points on any given night he got the call. But more than that, as an “older” player in the league, he causes no fuss for the organization. He is happy being number two, and has no further expectations. A requirement that hasn’t always been met in Montréal backup net minders. And that brings a certain harmony to the team that you can’t put a dollar value on.
IMG_0605-0.JPG
Dustin Tokarski has also proven himself to be an invaluable addition to the NHL segment of the Canadiens franchise. He had a more than acceptable regular season (2W 1L 1.84GAA .946SV% with 1SO), but really stepped up his game as he took to replacing the injured Price in the Eastern Conference Finals. Considering the skates he had to fill, and that he had never started an NHL playoff game before, he did everything expected and more.

Most fans were surprised that the coaching staff were handing such a huge responsibility to such a young inexperienced player. After all, he’s only 24 years old without having experienced the pressures of NHL playoff hockey. But he outshined expectations, and despite losing the series posted a 2W 3L record with 2.60GAA and a .916SV%.

There’s no doubt that this performance elevated how the Canadiens organization, MSM, and the fanbase view him. Many of the latter stated that he had clearly become the new #2 man to back up Price.

By let’s look at the contracts, player values, and other variables that come into play.

Certainly there’s a dollar value win by keeping Tokarski and trading away Budaj. The youngster has a contractual value of only $562.5K per year over the next two seasons before becoming an RFA. Budaj on the other hand sits at $1.4M for another year before becoming a UFA. Pretty substantial dollar difference.

Contractually, the Habs only have the veteran on the books for one more season giving them time to decide if he is worth re-signing for the 2016 campaign.

After last years stint with the big club, Tokarski can’t be sent back to the AHL Bulldogs without being placed on waivers, which based on his performance induced value add, I hardly see him clearing. That means that one way or the other, in order to see this situation through, a trade is imminent.

It seems rather unreasonable to think that the Habs can muster up a solid enough payback on Budaj to make it worth him being put on the block. Add in his experience and content in the position, he seems the logical choice to keep.

Tokarski on the other hand has increased his value, and is at a good young age to fetch a solid return that (if packaged) could add even more size the the team up front. It also doesn’t seem likely that a young rising star would be happy playing between 10-15 games a season behind Price.

At this point, it appears that Budaj is the better choice overall for the Habs. The decision won’t be an easy one, but if I was going to leave it in anyone’s hands, Marc Bergevin is a phenomenal choice.

Let us know what you think and weigh in below in the comment section.

Posted in Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, Montreal, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Trade Talk | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canadiens Lock In Subban For Eight Years

20140802-145502-53702195.jpg

Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

A mass sigh of relief could be heard across the hockey world as Canadiens fans exhaled in joy at the announcement.

Shortly after 2pm EST, Montréal’s GM Marc Bergevin announced the news that Habs fans wanted to hear. PK Subban will remain in le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge for eight more years.

In what seemed a never ending fiasco of negotiations between the Canadiens organization and Subban (front lined by his agent Don Meehan), there seemed little hope of a contract extension after Thursday night.

Both sides went as far as they could possibly go, entering into a four hour arbitration hearing yesterday. In an interview following the hearing Subban appeared less than optimistic and seemed resigned to the fact that he was destined to a one year deal assigned by the arbitrator.

That all ended with this afternoons announcement which sees Subban as a Canadien through the 2021-2022 season, with an average annual value of $9M USD per season ($72M over the contract term).

The young defenseman helped secure a contract of this nature by proving himself over the past two season, and showing he is one of the elite defenders in the NHL.

Winner of the Norris Trophy two seasons ago was part of the proving ground for Subban, along with his solid fifty three points in the 2013-14 regular season campaign (10G, 43A, -4). However his post season team high of fourteen points (5G, 9A, +1) in seventeen games was a powerful exclamation point.

“We are very pleased to have reached a long term agreement with P.K. Subban. This agreement helps consolidate the future of our team. A key element of our group of young veterans, P.K. plays with a high level of intensity every time he steps onto the ice. Despite his young age, he carries a great deal of experience and brings contagious energy to the team. Defensemen of his level are a rare commodity in the NHL. ~ M. Bergevin

Powerful words from the man who has helped solidify the franchise into a serious contending team over the past two years. Words that remove all doubt that he has nothing but faith in, and respect for his young defenseman.

Posted in Announcements, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, Northeastern Division, Player Profile | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Pat Burns Inducted Into Hall of Fame … Finally

Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

In light of the news that the NHL has finally seen fit to induct Patrick Burns into the Hall of Fame (HHOF), we take a look back at our original remembrance of this incredible man.

It took far too long for this day to arrive. Congratulations Coach Burns. Hockey has finally bestowed the honour you so rightfully deserve.

Enjoy this look back on one of the greatest men to be a part of the National Hockey League.
20140623-153024-55824908.jpg

Patrick (Pat) Burns : Montreal Canadiens Coach Remembered

It’s a rare occassion when I sit down to write, that I don’t know what to say.

All I knew, as I booted my Notebook and clicked the links to get me to this point, was that I felt something. I knew there was an emotion that I wanted to project onto this page, and share with my readers. But when I started to physically type the words, I had to begin again several times.

I’ve never been the type to feel particularly close to, or aligned with people of celebrity status, or those in the media. I have my thoughts on them, but I don’t know them. We don’t share moments together, so to pretend like I even have an understanding of them, as people, would be ludicrous. But there is a certain kinship that I think many people have felt with Pat Burns over the years. Undoubtedly, because of his ability to wear his heart on his sleeve, produce some exceptional results in his work (that most of the hockey world holds dear), and because he showed every soul that witnessed his life, what it meant to never give up.

You could always tell just by watching Burns behind the bench – even before being told – that he had been a “cop” in a previous career. He had both the stature and the demeanor. The ever watchful eye and the ability to analyze a scene were all prevalent in his coaching ways. But there was also a softness in his eyes. An understanding. You got the feeling that even when he didn’t like what he was seeing from his players, he had the ability to coach them. More-so; mentor them.

And the results were the proof of the pudding so to speak. In 1019 games in the NHL, while coaching 4 different teams, Burns amassed 501 wins, 353 losses, 151 ties, and 14 OT losses. But the stat that probably says it all to me is his 3 Adams Trophies, which he gained with three separate teams – all being Original Six franchises. He is the only coach in the history of the league to gain that honour on so many occasions.

During his four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Burns (who’s record was 174-104-42) took the Habs to two first place finishes, one second place, and one third in the Adams Division. It also saw La Flanelle earn a berth in the Stanly Cup Final (1988-1989), only to lose to the President Trophy winning Calgary Flames in 6 games. To this date, it is the last time two Canadian teams have squared off in the Stanley Cup Final.

After moving on to both the Toronto Maple Leafs (1992 – 1996), and the Boston Bruins (1997-2001), from which he was fired on an equal number of occasions, Burns settled in behind the bench of the New Jersey Devils for the 2002-2003 season.

In his inaugural season with that franchise, Burns coached players like Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, and Scott Stevens, accomplishing the crowning jewel on his career, with a Stanly Cup Championship over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in seven games. A feat only accomplished by two coaches before him – also previous members of the Montreal Canadiens club – Jacques Lemaire, and Larry Robinson.

With an impressive record, trophy winning seasons, and a Stanley Cup ring – there was one underlying feature about Burns that consistently shone through. And that was his ability to never give up. Pat Burns was a fighter, and sadly – he was soon to find out after hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup, how important that quality would be for him.

Through battles with both colon cancer and liver cancer, Pat Burns always showed the heart of a champion. Stepping down from the forefront of the league after the second diagnosis, Burns battled on, until his third diagnosis – this time of incurable lung cancer. Deciding to forgo treatment, Pat Burns felt content in living out the balance of his days near his wife: Line.

Sadly, we lost Pat Burns yesterday. He finally succumbed to the disease that had been festering in him for many years. He died near his home in Sherbrooke Quebec.

But there are many things that the hockey community will take with them after his passing. Grit and determination can carry you a long way, and a quitters attitude has no place in this life. A sense of humour is paramount to what we all face on a daily basis (imagine the media reporting you’re dead when you’re not – and calling them up to remind them that you’re still alive – shopping in the local market for your dinner). But mostly, we’ll remember those soft eyes, and his incredible attitude. Even while facing death.

To Patrick Burns; we thank you for being more than an example of how to live both on and off the ice. And to your family, we offer our good wishes and prayers.

In His Own Words:

“I know my life is nearing its end and I accept that.”

Gesturing to a group of local minor hockey players, he said: “A young player could come from Stanstead who plays in an arena named after me. I probably won’t see the project to the end, but let’s hope I’m looking down on it and see a young Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux.”

Patrick Burns (April 4, 1952 – November 19, 2010)

Here’s a link to the original article posted on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2010:

http://bleedbleublancrouge.blogspot.ca/2010/11/patrick-pat-burns-montreal-canadiens.html?m=1

Posted in Announcements, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, NHL Events | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Habs Face Elimination Game in NYC

20140528-235227-85947694.jpg

Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

After a barn burner on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens headed south for their fourth elimination game of the 2013/14 campaign.

On most peoples minds today, was the potential outcome of the NHL Player Safety meeting with Rangers defenceman John Moore. After a late hit deep into the third period Tuesday night, a hit that clearly rocked Dale Weise, Moore was sent packing with a five minute major and a game misconduct.

When the news came down late this afternoon that Moore also incurred a 2 match suspension, a sense of justice prevailed.

So Thursday evening, the Habs will skate onto the ice at Madison Square Garden to try and push the series to a one game finalé back in Montréal.

Back in the lineup, after serving his own 2 game suspension, is Brandon Prust. He brings a high level of intensity and physicality to the game, but his return is certainly not the prevalent key to living another day for Les Glorieux.

Looking back at game 5, there are plenty of things that need refined in order for the 21,273 seats to be filled again at le Centre Bell for a live game.

First and foremost, is a tighter defensive grouping. With a commanding 4-1 lead on Tuesday, the d corp folded like a cheap lawn chair. They lost every battle to the puck, and worst of all – showed no inclination of how to clear a puck in their own zone.

Gorges, Markov, and Subban all had weak clearing attempts that resulted in turnovers, that inevitably lead to goals. Three in just over four and a half minutes.

Just as big a concern? The power play. Montréal went 1 for 8 on the night. A conversion rate that is unacceptable. They also gave up a shorthanded goal in those attempts.

It’s also time for Thomas Vanek to stop dreaming about his 2014/15 Minnesota Wild Jersey and contract. He needs to get his head (as well as skates and stick) back into the present. I can’t fathom being this close to a Stanley Cup Final appearance and not giving it everything I’ve got.

Goaltending, which most of us thought was going to be the anchor around the Canadiens neck, has been the complete opposite.

Dustin Tokarski has more than stepped into Carey Price’s shoes. He has shown incredible composure for a young man with absolutely no playoff experience till a few short days ago. Now the team has to play in front o him.

Tall orders but not impossible. When their back is to the wall, this team has shown depth and resiliency unlike most others. They have no option but to do that again.

You can catch Game 6 on CBC, RDS, an NBCSN, or listen to it in TSN690.

Puck drops just after 20h00 so make sure to join is on Twitter for live in-game Tweets, analysis, and all your game night numbers.

Posted in 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, Postgame Report, Pregame Report | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Price Questionable After Game One Routing

20140518-232216.jpg

Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

It was far from pretty. But it was more than apparent only one team came out to play in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Habs looked out of sorts, out of place, and out of their league. Two goals in 1:52 set the tone for the remainder of the match.

They clearly weren’t mentally prepared after the long tough series against the Bruins. In many aspects they looked like they were still playing the same grinding game they were required to utilize against Boston, instead of getting back to the quick paced north/south game that made them effective in the first round against the Lightning.

The biggest scare of the opening game was the potential injury to Carey Price, who took a skate to the leg from Chris Kreider who slid into him after losing his edge during a breakaway attempt that failed.

Price remained on the ice clearly nursing his knee, but after several minutes spent with trainers on the ice, Number 31 remained in the blue paint. He remained there only for the duration of the second period giving up 4 goals on 20 shots. Budaj faired no better in the third.

There has been much speculation regarding Price starting game two Monday night in Montréal.

During this mornings optional skate at Complexe Sportif Bell in Brossard, Price only skated for 5 minutes and took no shots. His time on the ice was spent working on lateral movement only.

Therrien remained vague regarding the hopes for the net minder to start In game two stating only that the decision wouldn’t be made until Monday. The loss of Price would have devastating consequences on the Canadiens post-season, as he’s been instrumental in the teams success.

Other players opting out of this mornings skate were forwards Tomâs Plekanec and Lars Eller, as well as defencemen Josh Gorges and PK Subban.

Game two is set to get underway shortly after 20h00 at the Bell Centre in Montréal.

It can bee seen on CBC, RDS, and heard on TSN690.

Join us on Twitter for live in-game Tweets and game analysis and help cheer on Les Glorieux.

Posted in 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Postgame Report, Pregame Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Habs Face Elimination in Do or Die Match

20140512-174019.jpg

Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

The Montréal Canadiens face elimination tonight as they take to Bell Centre ice for game 6 of the ECSF against the Bruins.

The Habs haven’t been able to overcome the thundering Bruins, who have had moments of brilliant hockey over the past two games.

Montréal held an optional skate in Brossard this morning that only lasted 30 minutes. All players were present with the only exception being Carey Price. Coach Michel Therrien was also absent from the practice.

This is the most important, and biggest challenge Les Boys have faced all season, and with their 5 on 5 scoring ability taking a nose dive at the wrong time – this could prove to be their last outing for the 2013/14 campaign.

This game will require greatness from every facet of their game. Strong defence, shot blocking, big hits, and depth of scoring chances from every line.

When speaking to the press after this mornings practice, Therrien had this to say:

“I see tonight’s game as a very interesting challenge.”

There was no mention if there would be any lineup changes for Game 6.

Catch the action with us on Twitter for live in-game Tweets and news.

The game itself can be seen on CBC, RDS, NBCSN, and heard on TSN690 Montréal.

Posted in 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Pregame Report | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Therrien Tough on Top Line

20140510-163206.jpg

Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

With no skate after Fridays loss to the Bruins, the Habs have had plenty of time to mire over where things went wrong in game four of the ECSF.

The ones who probably needed to do most of the thinking on the flight back to Boston were Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, and Thomas Vanek. They used to be the powerhouse first line for Les Glorieux. You might remember them.

But since the opening bell of the second round they’ve been predominant in one thing only – silence. Vanek failed to register a single shot against the Bruins in game four. Something head coach Michel Therrien is flabbergasted about. When asked if he could explain Vanek going without a shot in Game 4, Therrien said: “Tough for me to answer that.”

With the lack of cohesion and performance, Therrien has dropped Vanek from the top line, replacing him with Brendan Gallagher. The head coach has not been shy to say that these members of the team need to step up the intensity and produce.

“From our standpoint, our good athletes offensively, they got to make sure they adjust to the intensity of the playoffs and fight through those adversities and make sure that they’re impact players, because I always believe that there’s a certain way to play the game,” ~ M. Therrien

Tonight game five gets underway at 19h00 and can be seen on CBC, RDS, NBCSN, or listened to on TSN690.

Make sure to join us on Twitter for live in-game Tweets.

Posted in 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Pregame Report | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment