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Alain Vigneault


C - Saku Koivu, Vincent Damphousse, Scott Thornton, Trent McLeary, Sergei Zholtok. LW - Shayne Corson, Martin Rucinsky, Benoit Brunet, Terry Ryan, Brian Savage, Dave Morissette, Patrick Poulin. RW - Mark Recchi, Turner Stevenson, Jonas Hoglund, Jason Dawe. D - Vladimir Malakhov, Stephane Quintal, Patrice Brisebois, Brett Clark, Miloslav Guren, Craig Rivet, Igor Ulanov, Eric Weinrich, Alain Nasreddine. G - Frederic Chabot, Jeff Hackett.


Benoit Brunet, lw (back spasms, day-to-day); Martin Rucinsky, lw (shoulder injury, undetermined).




02/25 at Ottawa      L 3-1
02/27  Ottawa        W 4-1    
03/02 Philadelphia   W 4-1
03/03 at Pittsburgh  T 4-4
03/06 Tampa Bay      L 6-1
03/08 Florida        L 5-2


Northeast Division  GP   W   L   T   PTS   GF   GA  
  Ottawa            63  37  18   8    82  191  134
  Toronto           64  35  24   5    75  203  187  
  Buffalo           64  29  22  13    71  170  143  
  Boston            63  27  26  10    64  163  148 
  Montreal          65  25  31   9    59  155  174


by Jacques Robert, Montreal Correspondent

Analyze this... 'cause nobody can

After a humiliating 6-1 loss against Tampa Bay, Montreal had definitely shattered all hopes of making it into the playoffs. It's a team that has been difficult to figure out this season. It's a team capable of the worst as well as the best. It's so unexplainable that sports writers are out of words to analyze the situation. It's a let's blame someone game: GM Houle, Corey, free agents Damphousse and Recchi... is Vigneault's turn coming?

Needless to say that the dressing room was a quiet place after the players were hit by lightning on Saturday March 5 and eaten alive by the Panthers on March 8. The Habs' offense is almost non-existent and defense is disorganized. It's just about the way it has been all season long if you don't consider the couple of winning weeks in December and January. Morale has been going up and down like a yo-yo. After every win - like the one against Philadelphia - everybody thought the team was back on track. Over confidence, lack of respect for some opponents but mostly weakness of character and lack of leadership explain the 25-31-8 record.

So is the problem in the muscles or in the head?

After the loss against Florida defenseman Stephane Quintal said: "I don't know, maybe we're a bunch of chokers. We got close to where we wanted to be. We were two games under .500. But when it came time to push further, we didn't do it."

The Habs dropped to the 12th spot over the last week. Hope is hard to come by in Montreal: The Canadiens would need at least a record of 12-5-1 to make the playoffs...

"I don't think anybody's packed it in," said Mark Recchi. "We just haven't done what it takes."

Does he know that the season is almost over?

"We got lots of scoring chances in the first period. But when it came time to face up to adversity we weren't able to," said Montreal coach Alain Vigneault.

Goalie Jeff Hackett had been keeping hope alive ever since he arrived in Montreal. For a while he seemed to inspire his teammates. But the unexplained negative feeling in the dressing room must be catching. He has allowed 15 goals in his last three games. Hackett seems discouraged. One man can't do it all. Where are the defensemen when he needs them? Where are the big important goals from guys like Recchi and Damphousse?

Let's face it, the only places to see the Habs in May will be a golf course or a psychiatrist's couch.

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