Montreal Canadiens' most frustrating player


kovalev.jpgEvery now and then, Pro Hockey Talk will ask for insight from some of the best team bloggers out there. For this feature, we asked a simple question: “Who is your team’s most frustrating player?” Just for fun, I will also provide my “guess” as to who that player might be.

First, my guess for Montreal.

Scott Gomez – OK, maybe I’m too transfixed on his salary but his contract is easily one of the worst in the league. It’s almost as if Bob Gainey tried to leave the team in as much disarray as possible before stepping down from his perch as the Habs’ general manager.

For the Montreal perspective, I asked the wacky bunch at Four Habs Fans to share their most frustrating player. HabsFan29 provided the perspective. Make sure to check out their off-beat take on the league’s most storied franchise.

So when I asked the other three HF’s who they thought the Habs’ most frustrating player was, the answer was unanimous – Alex Kovalev. I was then forced to remind them that we didn’t re-sign him in the off-season and he plays for Ottawa now. They all responded we know, it’s just that we can’t get over him, he’s the most frustrating player in the history of the universe. I then said come up with something better guys, NBC Sports is the big time and we don’t want to look like idiots. They responded “We spend our time posting pictures of half-naked chicks and crazy yet awesome Photoshops. We already look like idiots.” I said touch√©, but we need an actual answer. Our consensus pick after the jump.

careyprice.jpgAnd the winner is… Carey Price! Carey Price has two nicknames around FHF – he is both “The Franchise Saviour” (sic, but that’s the way we spell it up North, eh?) and “Cari the Big Fat Whale.” Just seeing the two nicknames side by side should give you an idea why our frustration meter runs to 11.

This is a man of dichotomies. Isn’t that the very definition of frustration? He is both insanely intense and completely aloof. One game really sticks out: Carey was playing brilliantly until a Habs’ defensive collapse caused him to allow two goals in the final three minutes; the team ultimately lost 3-2 in a shootout. I swear I saw steam coming out of his ears as he headed back to the dressing room. 

But at the same time you got the feeling that an hour or two later he’d be totally chilling out, maxing and relaxing all cool. Now maybe that has something to do with his alleged pot-smoking, or the fact that Jaro Halak seems to have usurped the number one goalie tag, leaving The Big Fat Whale to chillax on the bench. We have no idea. But you better believe it’s frustrating.
So Carey is either the man who will lead the Habs back to the Promised Land or the man who will be found chilling on a futon with five beautiful ladies and a bag of shrooms. And us Habs Fans will be frustrated the whole way.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.