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Free LCS 1997-98
Reader Hockey Pool
head coach: Alain Vigneault
roster: C - Saku Koivu, Marc Bureau, Vincent Damphousse, Scott Thornton. LW - Shayne Corson, Martin Rucinsky, Benoit Brunet, Terry Ryan, Brian Savage, Patrick Poulin. RW - Mark Recchi, Mick Vukota, Turner Stevenson, Jonas Hoglund. D - Vladimir Malakhov, Stephane Quintal, Patrice Brisebois, Brett Clark, Peter Popovic, Craig Rivet, Igor Ulanov, Zarley Zalapski. G - Jocelyn Thibault, Andy Moog.
injuries: Igor Ulanov, d (torn knee ligaments - Rest of the season); Scott Thornton, c (neck spasms - day-to-day); Stephane Quintal, d (hip flexor - day-to-day); Dave Manson, d (hip flexor - day-to-day).
transactions: 02/01: Valeri Bure, rw, was traded to Calgary in exchange for defenseman Zarley Zalapski and forward Jonas Hoglund. 02/03: Eric Houde, c, returned to Fredericton (AHL).
Eastern Conference - Northeast Division Team GP W L T PTS GF GA Pittsburgh 58 29 16 13 71 160 132 Montreal 56 28 21 7 63 168 141 Boston 56 23 22 11 57 140 138 Ottawa 58 23 25 10 56 130 140 Buffalo 55 22 21 12 56 143 138 Carolina 57 21 29 7 49 139 161
01/29 at Philadelphia W 3-2 01/31 Ottawa L 4-3 02/01 at Carolina W 6-3 02/04 at Islanders L 4-2 02/07 Buffalo L 4-1
by Jacques Robert, Montreal Correspondent
FOUR STRAIGHT LOSSES AT HOME
In life, all good things come to an end... and the Habs are no exception. Not only did Montreal have its longest road unbeaten streak in 16 years (7-0-2) stopped by the Islanders, but Vigneault's boys are desperately stuck when playing at home (.500). As to turn things around, Valeri Bure was traded away for stronger players and thanks to the winter break, injured players will nurse their wounds. But what a pity that Montreal is not able to win at home... Four straight losses!... Good opposing goalies, like Hasek, are no excuse any more.
Moog: 700th Game In The NHL
At least, Montreal is 15 points better than last year at this point. Not bad! Plus, The Habs are so confident on the road these days that they manage to defeat good teams like Philadelphia. Actually, taking on the Flyers on their ice is no piece of cake, even more so since the Habs hadn't won a game in Philly since Oct.24, 1992... OK, Lindros' teammates played without passion through three periods but, on this occasion, Montreal missed having Koivu and Corson on the first line. Thankfully, a guy like Moog - who played his 700th game in the NHL in Carolina - showed up brilliantly (32 saves) and declared: "When we beat a team ahead of us, it takes our confidence level higher."
Unfortunately, confidence is missing whenever Montreal plays at the "Keg". What in the world is going on? The Habs are merely unrecognizable. For instance, no one would assume that Ottawa is a big threat in the league... However, Damphousse & Co were literally outworked by the Senators even though they outshot them, 35-25. As a matter of fact, Montreal's current winning drought is explained in those very numbers: every player is willing to contribute offensively to the detriment of the defensive game. As a result, defenseman Peter Popovic sat out in New York for not being involved enough defensively.
Five New Habs In a Span of... 15 Days!
On the wake of that decision, an even more drastic one was taken: Valeri Bure, whose last goal was scored on Nov. 26, was sent to Calgary in exchange for Zarley Zalapski (D), 29, and forward Jonas Hoglund, 25, a tough cookie who is, incidentally, four inches taller and 34 pounds heavier than Bure.
With that transaction, Reggie Houle intends to add muscle to his team. On that subject, Houle made no mystery that those additions were aimed at bringing toughness on the third line which has the responsibility of neutralizing big top players like Lindros, Jagr or LeClair in the East.
Players: Play The Game You Are Paid For!
For the moment, top offensive Habs players - except Damphousse who has gone eight games without a point - are pretty hot. Alas, Mark Recchi and Brian Savage cannot make up for stupid mistakes made at the blue line by... Malakhov (he can be blamed for three goals scored by Buffalo!).
In other words, each player would be better off playing the game his boss wants him to play. And after Nagano, the playoffs are the next step... Montreal fans will accept nothing but the best from their favorites.
ON MY NOTE PAD
Eric Houde Scores
Eric Houde, 22, scored his first goal in the NHL against the Carolina Hurricanes... and was sent to Fredericton (AHL),the next day. Hard to take!
Who Are Zalapski and Hoglund?
Defenseman Zalapski has two goals and seven assists in 35 games this season. He didn't play much in Calgary this year. But Zalapski is a solid veteran with 370 points and 625 penalty minutes in his 10-year-NHL-career. The 25-year-old Hoglund (Sweden) has six goals and nine assists in 50 games. Last season, as a rookie, he had 19 goals and 16 assists in 68 games.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Mark Recchi: "We have to start winning at home (...) we try (at home) to make the perfect play and we get caught giving up the odd-man rushes."
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