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Follow Me on TwitterMitch Melnick is the host of Melnick in the Afternoon on TSN 990 - Montreal's Sports Authority. Mitch also has his own website at where you can find his blog, music links, upcoming events, neat photos and more. Listen Live to Melnick - weekdays from 3:00 - 7:00 pm. If you have questions or wish to contact Mitch, you can email him at
Who'd have thought the Habs would lose to the Sens, but beat the Rangers
Mitch Melnick
TSN 990 and

Just like you figured. The Habs would lose to Ottawa and then beat the top team in the conference. Following a near perfect victory in Toronto Saturday night the Rangers didn't seem prepared to deal with the Canadiens' top line.

Montreal - January 16, 2012 - Just like you figured. The Habs would lose to Ottawa and then beat the top team in the conference. Following a near perfect victory in Toronto Saturday night the Rangers didn't seem prepared to deal with the Canadiens' top line. And once Montreal put the game away in the second period, New York showed nothing other then a couple of bursts while killing a penalty with just over two minutes to play. Frankly, it looked like the Rangers scattered directly to their favourite late Saturday night Montreal hang-outs instead of heading directly to their hotel rooms. Even John Tortorella might admit in a quiet moment that they had earned it. Taking nothing away from the 12th place Canadiens of course who were and are the more desperate team. Away we go.

•David Desharnais, Eric Cole & Max Pacioretty. Brilliant night as the trio combined for 9 points and were +9. Excellent production as they needed just 5 shots on goal to score their 3 goals. And credit Randy Cunneyworth for getting them on the ice when the likes of Kris Newbury and Wojtek Wolski were out there for the Rangers.

•Scott Gomez. He's alive! Best game since, when, last February against the Rangers when he scored his last goal? He sure is smiling a lot for a guy who hasn't scored in nearly a year. Maybe he's just that happy to be playing again. But it would be nice to see more of a fire-in-the-belly attitude instead of yukking it up with opposing centermen. Still on pace for a 0 goal season.

•Peter Budaj. Doesn't play in nearly a month and is asked to help beat the number one team in the conference. Thankless job. He was razor sharp.

•Michael Blunden. If the HBO cameras were still around the Rangers we might have been treated to something like this from Tortorella: "Michael F$#%ing Blunden? Who's man is that? Rupper-bury that f$#%ing mic where the sun don't shine! We're making Michael f$#%ing Blunden look like he belongs in that f$#%ing all star game I'm coaching! Michael Blunden! This is f$#%ing ridiculous! What the hell am I supposed to say to Brooksie about Blunden? F$#%!" •Josh Gorges & PK Subban. Both played a very strong 25:00.

•Hal Gill. Heroic shift midway through the second when the Rangers had Habs hemmed in for what seemed like two full minutes. There was Gill sprawling to finally knock the puck out of his zone but he still couldn't get off the ice until Budaj froze it. Impressive 16:30 for a 36 year old in a back to back situation.

•Thomas Plekanec. Followed up terrific game Saturday by winning 10 of 13 face offs. Is 40-31 in last three games in face off department to raise his season percentage to nearly 51%.

•Rene Bourque. Good start. Noticed him right off the bat with a strong burst of speed on his off wing testing Henrik Lundqvist with a backhand shot. Went to the net. And hit rookie Carl Hagelin with a strong check into the boards. Apparently not the selfish type.

•Montreal's 2nd Period. Outscored NYR 3-0. When was the last time the Habs outscored their opponents 3-0 in one period, especially at home?

•Montreal's 3rd period. Didn't back off. Even when the bench dropped to 10 forwards when Travis Moen didn't come back after suffering what looked like a knee injury and then down to 9 when Plekanec was clipped and left with over nine minutes to play.

•Randy Cunneyworth. It's all about accountability. Lars Eller screwed up on the Rangers goal so he didn't play in the second period. Head coaches have to send messages without destroying their players. Eller was back in the third. Andrei Kostitsyn also sat out much of the second period but he might have been guilty by association.

•Habs' record with Rene Bourque is 1-0. Without Mike Cammalleri it's 1-0-1.

•Rangers goal by John Mitchell. It started when Eller had the puck in his own zone but softly turned it over to Derek Stepan. Then he made a half assed attempt to check Mitchell.

•Got my first look at those ugly back of the net billboards apparently exclusive to RDS broadcasts. I get the cash grab. Major League Baseball started using rotating TV-only billboards behind the catcher years ago. But what I saw last night was beyond intrusive. Do they really have to be that big?

•Packers performance in Green Bay.

And A Quick Trip Through Saturday's Loss To Ottawa:

•Thomas Plekanec. Rebounded from an awful 5 game stretch, especially after being stopped again on a shorthanded breakaway, before finally nailing his first shorthanded goal of the season to get Montreal going. Had 5 shots on goal, finished +2 and played nearly 26:00.

•Josh Gorges. Shortly after Jason Spezza's power play goal RDS had a great shot of Gorges on the ice talking to his teammates on the bench imploring them not to give up; that there was still enough time to tie up the game. True leader.

•Max Pacioretty's goal to tie up the game with 39 seconds left with some help from David Deshrnais and Chris Campoli. Yes Campoli, whose shot from the blue line bounced to Pacioretty giving Campoli his first assist of the season.

•Montreal PK Unit. Again. Yes Spezza's blast from inside the blue line past a screened Carey Price was a PP goal but overall Montreal held Ottawa to a 1 for 8 night with the man advantage. A Canadiens - like 12.5%.

•San Fransisco 49ers - New Orleans Saints amazing NFL playoff match up at Candlestick Park. Made watching Ottawa - Montreal very, very difficult.

•Randy Cunneyworth. Did he morph into Jacques Martin? Thomas Kaberle in the shootout, as one of the first 3 shooters? If he was looking for an extra special dramatic and redemptive ending why not Scott Gomez? But Kaberle instead of Andrei Kostitsyn, Desharnais, Erik Cole, PK Subban or Plekanec is beyond a head scratcher. When you go out on a limb like that it had better work.

•Paul Devorski. For years I've heard about what a great ref and great guy Devorski is. I don't know him. But as long as I've heard that he was about the best in the NHL I've noticed how often he takes a crap on the ice during a game, especially at the Bell Centre. I understand the league has become ultra sensitive about protecting its goaltenders but that was a terribly bogus penalty he gave Kostitsyn who was clearly pushed into the crease by Milan Michalek.

•Montreal power play. 0-5. How can it be so bad? Maybe part of the answer is...

•Montreal shootout record. Drops to 1-6, 0-5 on home ice. Carey Price has an issue or two (though he did make a save to his stick side) but Montreal shooters keep firing blanks. Where's Alex Kovalev when you need him?

•Mike Milbury. Anybody see his hatchet job on Geoff Molson & Pierre Gauthier on NBC earlier in the day (he was strong but not as forceful on HNIC several hours later)? Gauthier is fair game (see below) but I don't recall seeing or hearing Milbury blasting NHL owners through the years let alone one who's last name reverberates as much as Molson's. Milbury's dripping hatred of the Canadiens is obvious at moments like this. I was hoping Pierre McGuire would take his shoe off and stuff it in Milbury's mouth (U.S. TV being what it is McGuire had to follow Milbury's rant by focusing on the Rangers. The NBC intermission was previewing the Montreal - NYR match up). I also believe Milbury gave up his right to dump on any NHL GM anywhere at any time considering how badly he failed in that department. (Next thing you know Doug MacLean will wind up in a TV studio talking about how crappy a certain NHL GM is. Oh wait.) There's a huge credibility gap. Except perhaps for U.S. hockey fans under the age of 30 who never heard of Alexei Yashin.

THE UGLY TRUTH (As Recommended By @montrealdesign)
•It's one thing for some NHL GM's to complain they had no idea that Mike Cammalleri was available. It's quite another when - as I'm told by somebody based out west - at least one general manager specifically asked Pierre Gauthier last Wednesday if he was trading Cammalleri. Gauthier told him absolutely not. Less than 24 hours later Cammalleri was traded to Calgary.

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