We like to stay on top of things here but something that apparently slipped past us was a rumor that the Montreal Canadiens were going to fire GM Pierre Gauthier. Canadiens owner Geoff Molson would like everyone to know that no matter how much they’re hoping and praying that might happen right now, it’s not going to happen.
Molson took to Twitter to tell everyone that regardless of what they’re hearing, he’s saying that Gauthier will not be relieved of duty.
Canadiens fans are furious with how poorly the team is playing, furious about how Randy Cunneyworth hasn’t been the answer to Jacques Martin as the head coach, furious about Scott Gomez not being a scoring machine, and just angry about everything in general.
With no solutions to those problems, the fans have been calling for Gauthier’s ouster. If that’s going to happen, it might have to wait for the summer.
When the New Jersey Devils drop the puck in Montreal on Sunday night against the Canadiens (6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN), they’ll be aiming to keep their torrid run through the Eastern Conference going strong. The Devils are sixth in the East just a point behind their division rivals the Penguins and Flyers.
Leading the charge for New Jersey isn’t Montreal native Martin Brodeur, it’s superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk has shed the label of being an offense-only forward and has become one of the team’s most reliable and dangerous penalty killers as well as being a consistent goal-scoring threat. With the kind of play he’s putting on the ice this season, he’s got some people whispering his name in the discussion for the Hart Trophy.
Brodeur hasn’t been too bad himself this season, but at 39-years-old he knows that this could wind up being the last game he plays in his hometown, but he’s choosing not to look at it that way as Tom Gulitti from Fire & Ice found out. With Montreal unlikely to make the playoffs, if this season is Brodeur’s final season, expect him to pull out all the stops in front of his hometown. Stopping the Canadiens might prove tricky.
The Habs might be in Canada, but they have a team fit to play on Hockey Day in America. With Americans Max Pacioretty, Erik Cole, Scott Gomez, and injured captain Brian Gionta on the roster the Habs have a lot more red, white, and blue than they’re used to seeing in la belle province. Fine Canadian players like Rene Bourque and P.K. Subban make for nice complementary pieces themselves.
The Habs will be looking to play spoilers for the Devils as they’ve started to sell off ahead of the trade deadline by dealing Hal Gill, another fine American, to Nashville. Carey Price will have to be the guy that takes care of business there for Montreal in goal. Getting to square off against a future Hall of Famer in Brodeur should give him the motivation he’s looking for.
Another day, another dramatic practice in Montreal.
This time, the drama surrounded Canadiens forward Scott Gomez and assistant coach Randy Ladouceur. Ladouceur, upset with Gomez’s perceived lack of effort during a drill, let the struggling center have it courtesy a verbal tirade.
Gomez — he of the one goal scored this season — responded with a tirade of his own.
Depending on who you believe, this incident was either an ordinary, run-of-the-mill argument or a precursor to something bigger.
Player and coaches (read: people that generally tend to understate everything) say it was no big deal — head coach Randy Cunneyworth smiled when discussing the shouting match and Gomez said stuff like this “happens every day.”
But reporters (read: people that generally tend to overstate everything) contend this was a blowup for the ages. Many media members thought Gomez and Ladouceur were going to come to blows; there was also this, from the Globe and Mail:
Veteran team observers say it’s been many years since they’ve seen a spat like this, and compare it to a memorable 1996 argument between then-coach Mario Tremblay and enforcer Donald Brashear. That one got so bad that Brashear was sent to the dressing room, and was traded a few days later to the Vancouver Canucks.
We probably won’t see a similar situation unfold here, because nobody’s trading for Gomez’s contract. That thing is like the gym membership from hell.
Watch P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec “fight” in practice
Stop the presses: Scott Gomez scored a goal
They’re literally praying for the playoffs in Montreal
Worth a shot: Habs consult with sports psychologist
Canadiens head coach Randy Cunneyworth was highly critical of referees Ghislain Hebert and Chris Lee after Montreal’s 5-3 loss to New Jersey on Thursday night.
“We were battling and working hard and I liked for the most part the effort and the desperation,” Cunneyworth told the Montreal Gazette following the game. “The difference was the penalties. It’s hard to fight a good team when you’re down a man for as much time as we were.”
Montreal was whistled for four penalties on the night, New Jersey three, though it was the non-calls that really drew Cunneyworth’s ire. Specifically, an alleged missed hooking call on Zach Parise’s game-winning goal.
“[Erik] Cole was obviously hooked and could not battle to get the puck out of his zone. He was held up by [Ilya] Kovalchuk and that’s a little bit beyond comprehension for me,” Cunneyworth explained. “It’s tough enough playing a team straight up, but when you don’t get the calls, especially on the one that made the difference.”
That Hebert was at the center of this game is interesting — he was one of the referees that Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville blasted after a 2-0 loss to L.A. back in December. Quenneville said the work of Hebert and fellow official Tom Kowal was “tough to watch.”
Hebert was also one of the referees working the Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller game and the one that famously called the “Sean Avery Rule” on Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger in 2010.
They might both be original six teams, but the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens couldn’t possibly be having more opposite seasons. When the two teams square off tonight in Montreal (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) the one thing the Canadiens have going for them against the Wings is that they’ve got them on their turf.
Detroit has been a terrorizing team at home this season and have strung together 17 wins in a row at Joe Louis Arena. On the road, however, the Wings are a totally different team sporting a 13-13-0 record. Comparing that with their 20-2-1 record in Detroit and you’ve got a team that has an obvious Achilles’ heel. All that aside though, the Wings have won seven in a row and would love to go into the break making it eight.
For coach Mike Babcock, he’ll hope that his college town homecoming (he’s a McGill graduate) will help provide a semblance of comfort for the Wings. Meanwhile, look for Jimmy Howard to again be the man in goal while continuing to get great offensive play of late from Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Niklas Kronwall.
For Montreal, things this season haven’t been all that hot. You know all about the strife with head coach Randy Cunneyworth by now and Scott Gomez’s inability to score a goal this season has added fuel to the disdain Habs fans have for him. Lately, P.K. Subban has come under fire for his struggles defensively. Given that he’s just 22-years-old and playing in the NHL’s biggest fishbowl, he’s handling things rather well.
Lately, Montreal has lost seven of their last 11 games but are coming off an inspiring win against Toronto on Saturday night. They’ll need to use any momentum gained from that victory tonight to try and keep the Wings in check.
At least Montreal has Rene Bourque’s goal scoring and toughness added to their team, something Detroit knows all too well from his Calgary and Chicago days. The Habs will be hoping that Carey Price can withstand the barrage that the Wings will throw at him tonight.