Saku > Mikko
It looks like Bonk/Johnson were matched up with Rolston and his wide assortment of linemates. These guys keep facing off against stars and outscoring them. They're bailing out the Koivu and Kovalev lines, who are just treading water at even strength. On top of that, they've been dominant on the PK. Don't look now, but Radek Bonk might just be Montreal's most valuable forward thus far.
Carbonneau dressed seven defensemen last night, and Janne "Two For Holding" Niinimaa was not one of them.
At the start of the season, Niinimaa had this to say about playing in Montreal:
"When people care, you feel that whatever you do out there, good or bad, you're accountable for it. I like that."
Janne should really enjoy this:
So far, the Ribeiro-Niinimaa trade has been a disaster. One of the Habs' biggest problems this year has been staying out of the penalty box. Niinimaa has averaged a minor penalty for every 20.5 minutes of icetime. The rest of the blueline has averaged one for every 42.1 minutes of icetime. The aggressive Mike Komisarek is a distant second place, with a minor every 31.3 minutes.
And the penalties aren't even the most boneheaded thing Niinimaa has done. After having played seven games with his new club, Janne decided to go all Joe Namath and guarantee a win over the best team in the league. Not smart.
What do you do with an 8th string defenseman who's making $2.5M? If you're Dallas, you trade him for Mike Ribeiro. If you're Montreal, you have second thoughts about the price you paid for defensive depth and pine for the days of Karl Dykhuis.
Who has the better PP point tandem: Toronto or Montreal?
Kaberle + McCabe: 9.0 PP points/60 min
Markov + Souray: 14.8 PP points/60 min
Kaberle + McCabe: $10M in cap space
Markov + Souray: $4.4M in cap space
Curiosities at the Hockey Recap penalty report:
Georges Laraque's replacement Patrick Thoresen been slapped with 3 instigator penalties already, and Anze Kopitar is guilty of the one and only "face" penalty this season. He must have stuck his tongue out at Blaine Angus.
Notable Blogosphere activity:
* This headshaking moment is brought to you via BoO (via someone else, via... ad infinitum):
"The Ottawa charter to Philly this afternoon was delayed due to some last-minute culinary demands. The food service caterers were called to deliver a box of chocolate bars, and one player (we don't know who) reportedly demanded a specific type of salad dressing be made available, before the aircraft could depart."
I won't speculate who. I'll just note that known Nancy-boy Jason Spezza does TV spots for "Jubilee Fine Jewellers - Official jeweller of Jason Spezza and the Ottawa Senators." I wonder if Spezza dons a "Jubilee Fine Jewellers" hat prior to post-game interviews.
* At Hockey Analysis, David Johnson reminisces about the time the Leafs traded away the NHL's worst case of acne.
* Spector's Soapbox is a quarterly report of the Eastern Conference.
"MONTREAL CANADIENS. The Habs are off to another good start but unlike last season it doesn't appear they'll suffer a potentially season-threatening collapse."
Yes, the start to this season has been eerily similar to last season. Even all the "Power Rankings" are giving the team lots of love. I'm not quite so optimistic.
Montreal has been winning a lot of close games. They're being outshot regularly. They're -8 at even strength (30GF, 38GA). Special teams have been an excellent +13 (21 ppgf & 6 shgf, 13 ppga & 1 shga), but the rate they've scored shorties can't continue. Their goaltending has arguably been the best in the league, and that is unlikely to continue. Although the rankings say the Habs' schedule has been tough, they haven't played a whole lot of games. They have benefited from plenty of rest.
This is not the second best team in the East.