Theo was given the start and a chance to redeem himself. I mean, he couldn't be any worse than last time (5 goals on 18 shots), could he?
Well, Theo outdid himself. This time it was 5 goals on 10 shots. In his last two starts vs. the 'Canes, he has a 11.08 GAA and .643 Sv%. His season numbers: A 3.46 GAA, good for 40th out of 44 netminders listed in the nhl.com stats, and a .881 Sv%, ranking him 42nd - better only than Lalime and Thibault.
Do we have the next Jim Carey on our hands, or is this merely the mother of all slumps? More importantly, how much longer does Gainey wait to find out? There has to be a Tim Thomas somewhere in the Habs' system. It might even be Huet.
Speaking of Lalime...
"LALIME TO HABS? The Blues have recalled Patrick Lalime, but the former Senators goalie must first clear waivers before he returns to the NHL. There's speculation the Habs could be interested."
Yes, Patrick Lalime - the one NHL(?) netminder whose psyche is as frail as Theo's, and whose numbers are actually worse. It's too late for Breezy to join in, but perhaps the pair could form a support group, improve their self-esteem and carry the Habs into the playoffs.
Speaking of Brisebois, another defenseman has been booed out of town - this time, in Edmonton.
In a twisted way, this story is a mild relief. It means Montreal isn't the only town that can stress players to the point of illness. I worry for the future of the Habs when I read about players who are unwilling to deal with the pressure-packed environment in Montreal, and meanwhile the Leafs are getting hometown discounts for Ontario lads. That Edmontonians can be just as mean-spirited provides a glimmer of hope for the Canadiens.
Olli Jokinen will be a UFA next season. He would plug two holes for the Habs - size on the front lines, and goal scoring ability. Unfortunately, being a very young UFA of his calibre, he will command a very hefty price. But wouldn't it be nice to boast Team Finland's top two centres? Amassing players of a given European nationality has been all the rage lately. You had the Russian Five in Detroit, the Czechmates in New York... how about the Flying Finns in Montreal? If only Dallas hadn't already hoarded so many.
How did the Hurricanes get to be so damned good?
Answers to this question often point to Rod Brind'Amour's resurgence, or the secondary scoring acquired this year. I'm going to go with the obvious reason: Eric Staal. Just because a reason is obvious doesn't mean it's wrong. Staal gives Brind'Amour the leads to protect. His work against the checkers creates room for the secondary scorers. The guy is a star. I'm not prepared to give Stillman and Whitney credit as long as they continue to pull their disappearing act in the playoffs.
There are a couple of other little things that are different this year: They're getting goaltending from Gerber and Ward that Irbe never could provide, and they regularly play seven defensemen (although only six played last night).
Two d-men, Wesley and Hutchinson, left the game with injuries in the first period last night. Under normal circumstances this would be crippling, but the 'Canes still had the legs to win (and win with style). We've seen absences on the blueline ruin games for the Habs several times this season. With Dandenault on the bench, it would seem like a no-brainer to dress seven defensemen. But what do I know.