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Maple Leafs @ Canadiens | 3-21-09 | 7:00 Pm Edt


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At Bell Center


Game Preview

A coaching change hasn’t helped the Montreal Canadiens end their slump. Poor defensive play hasn’t either.

Clinging to a playoff spot, the Canadiens open a five-game homestand Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs looking to avoid a season-high fifth straight loss.

Montreal (36-29-9) has one win since general manager Bob Gainey fired Guy Carbonneau and assumed coaching duties March 9 - a 4-3 victory over Edmonton in his debut the next evening. Since then, the Canadiens are 0-2-2 and on their fourth losing streak of three or more games since Jan. 20, going 9-15-3 in that time.

They lost four straight from Jan. 20-29 and Feb. 6-11 but haven’t dropped five in a row since a six-game skid from Feb. 6-17, 2007.

“Our team had been struggling for quite a while, and I think the idea of changing the position of the coach was one to attempt to increase our chances in the last 16 games of the season, and I think we can judge how that goes when we finish our final game,” Gainey said.

If Gainey’s team wants its final game to be at some point during the playoffs, it needs to improve its defensive play. Montreal goaltenders have given up at least three goals in each of the last five games, and Carey Price’s struggles continued Thursday night in Ottawa.

Price was pulled in the 5-4 defeat after giving up four goals in the first 22:28, but Jaroslav Halak took the loss despite helping Montreal get within a goal at the end of the second period.

Despite Guillaume Latendresse’s two scores and Tom Kostopoulos’ career-high three points, the Canadiens couldn’t get the equalizer and dropped into a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Since returning from an ankle injury prior to starting the All-Star game in Montreal, Price is 4-10-3 with a 3.56 goals-against average.

“I’ve got to take responsibility. I can’t be letting goals in,” he said. “It’s a group effort but I’ve got to play better.”

Gainey may turn to Halak on Saturday, as he’s allowed three total goals in the Canadiens’ two victories over Toronto this season, while Price has given up 11 in their two losses. Halak is 3-1-0 with a 2.20 GAA in four lifetime appearances against the Maple Leafs.

Should he start, Halak will need more help from Montreal’s penalty killing units, which allowed the Senators to score on both power-play opportunities Thursday. The Canadiens have given up five power-play goals in the last 17 chances.

If the Canadiens don’t get back on track soon, Toronto could end up passing them in the standings. The Leafs (29-30-13) are 8-4-1 in their last 13 games and totaled 11 goals in back-to-back victories before Thursday night’s 3-1 loss at Florida.

Toronto couldn’t add to Mikhail Grabovski’s tying goal late in the first period against the Panthers, who took the lead for good with two second-period scores.

“We had chances, and we had good puck possession,” goaltender Martin Gerber said. “In the second period, we just lost the momentum, and they were on top of us for a while. We had a tough time getting out of our zone. In the third, we tried everything we could. We had some chances, but we couldn’t put it in.”

The acquisition of Gerber off waivers from Ottawa on March 4 hasn’t helped the NHL’s worst defensive team. Gerber is 3-3-0 with a 3.18 GAA since coming to Toronto, and the Leafs, who have given up 248 goals, have allowed 16 in the last four games.

Team Leaders


Points Jason Blake 56

Goals Jason Blake 24

Assists Matt Stajan 35

PIM Pavel Kubina 79

Plus/Minus Alexei Ponikarovsky 5

PP Goals Pavel Kubina 8

SH Goals Jason Blake 1


Points Andrei Markov 55

Goals Andrei Kostitsyn 23

Assists Andrei Markov 45

PIM Mike Komisarek 97

Plus/Minus Josh Gorges 12

PP Goals Robert Lang 8

SH Goals Tomas Plekanec 3



Martin Gerber



Jaroslav Halak


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Guest olddude

Well there you have it, we're going to win this one. BGL is back in the lineup. <_<

Laraque set to attack

The Leafs-Habs rivalry has definitely lived up to its billing during the 2008-09 campaign, with no love lost between the two clubs throughout their four heated match-ups so far this season. On the shelf for the past seven outings, tough guy Georges Laraque could make his return to the lineup on Saturday night, slated to skate alongside Glen Metropolit and Gregory Stewart.


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this game right here starts a 5 game homestand in which we also see atlanta tampa buffalo chicago

its 10pts on the table, we are lucky to have this last stretch of home games right now because its going to be our last gasp for air

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is Jaro confirmed in net? i just heard Gino Reda on That's Hockey (TSN) say Bob will stick with Price. That program might have been recorded earlier in the evening though.

Yes, Halak is set for the start. TSN confirmed that just tonight on Sportscentre.

This game just became a must win, with emphasism. If we lose tomorrow, we pave the way from Carolina to grab a four point lead above us even with a game in hand and Florida the opportunity to knock us completely out of contendership.

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How do I sum up this Montreal team.....NON COMPETITIVE......no emotion, no desparation, no class. This is the worst team I have ever seen led by a "golden boy" Gainey selected to lead this crowd into NHL oblivion.

Without good goaltending....you have nothing. We all know that. We have a GM who refuses to accept the fact that Price just doesn't have what it takes to get the job done ....now & probably never. No great goalie has ever stunk up the league the way he has in the last several months & the playoffs last year.

The team in front of him have no faith & simply can't do their job whenever Price is in nets. Consistency is what a team needs in a goaltender....this isn't the minor leagues Carey. You look like another Wickenhouser more and more each day. Letting in a goal on every 4-5 shots is mickey mouse goaltending. Stop making excuses for a guy who is laughing all the way to the bank every week.

The team has exceptionally poor management who don't care about the fans. They keep guys playing when they have no right to be.

Blow this team up at the end of the season and install Patrick Roy as Coach or GM....it doesn't matter.....he'll get the job done. It's been 30 years since this city had a real contender. Roy stole 2 Cups.

Halak has worked hard to earn number 1 but has been spat at by management. Just the other night Gainey installed Halak so he would be saddled with the loss instead of his golden boy Price.

Tonite Halak will make it close but this team will come up short. Toronto is a hard working team who knows they're not going anywhere this season and they have always played well against Montreal for decades.

Montreal is in Gainey quicksand......fading into the golf greens.

Mr. Gainey you should be ashamed of yourself for the product you put on the ice this year. Mr. Madoff's swindle of $50 billion pales in comparison with the ponzi scheme you tried here Mr. 5 year plan.

My prediction...Leafs win 3-1 and Halak has 40+ shots against.

I am one very disappointed Habs fan who feels betrayed by the ownership.

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Sadly and more mind boggling the team cannot play with desperation and we will either get blown out or we will lose a close one to a more up beat team. Frankly, I cannot wait for the upcoming offseason and the day when a number of UFAs will jump ship so we can start from scratch. Its a sad thing to say but we need players who really have a clue what it means to be a Montreal Canadien...

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i never thought we would be in this situation. if we lose to the leafs at home, this team doesnt deserve to make the playoffs.

Don't you think for a minute that nothing more would give them satisfaction is to stroll into the bell center & play spoiler,oh yea for sure.

Come on habs,do not allow the leafs this oppurtunity.

Well,no thanks to carolina winning last night,we now sit in 8th,with florida one point behind in 9th :angry:

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