Wow, you spend a few days away from the blog, and suddenly I forget the two most important things a game report should include: a headline and the score.
I'll get the hang of this reporting thing one of these years.
Anyhow, Guy Carbonneau delivered the bad news after the Habs 4-1 win over the Flames on Tuesday that Christopher Higgins would be going for an MRI on whatever it is he hurt (looked to be a shoulder) on Wednesday morning, while Mathieu Dandenault has a broken arm and is gone "for a while."
How many people remember that play when Patrice Brisebois looked like he'd broken his arm and slowly skated all the way to the bench while the New York Islanders went on a free power play for about 30 seconds? Brisebois didn't miss a shift.
Dandenault didn't leave the ice after breaking that arm of his, he stayed and tried to defend the front of the net, taking an extra cross-check for his effort from the guy that broke his arm in the first place, Dustin Boyd. He will likely miss a few months.
Carbonneau says no call ups are imminent from Hamilton to replace Dandenault on defence, and that Ryan O'Byrne will be making his re-entrance into the top-six Thursday night against Tampa.
"That's why we have Ryan O'Byrne," he said. "His chance is there and I'm sure he'll come back and play well."
I was interested to hear Mike Keenan's assessment of things from the Flames perspective, and he hit it right on the head when he credited the Canadiens "trap" for creating chances off counter-attacks. I asked him if, like me, he's surprised to see a team loaded with talented guys like the Habs use the trap, and Keenan said something I hadn't thought of before.
"They have a lot of European hockey players on their hockey team, and that's how European hockey players play," Keenan said. "They play the trap and live off the counter."
OK, so maybe Carbonneau is actually adapting to his players by instituting this no forecheck system, one that apparently suits "European players." Could it be that using a trap system is evidence of Carbonneau's growth as a coach? I don't know, but it's hard to argue with that 5-1-1 record ever since he decided to go with no forecheckers in Detroit.
"The way we're playing defensively right now, I think we can beat anybody," Carbonneau said. "It's easier to sell these things to your players when you have results."
It's also easier to sell it to skeptical bloggers as well, though I'm not completely on board. Yet.
Carbonneau also deserves some credit for not only throwing Alex Tanguay with Robert Lang and Alex Kovalev, a line that combined for seven points, but also recognizing how effective they were early on and sending them over the boards often.
Kovalev played 21:36, most among Habs forwards, while Tanguay was second-highest with 19:36. And Tanguay had trouble hiding his satisfaction with shoving this performance down Keenan's throat after the game.
"Hamrlik and I put enough money on the board that it'll buy a nice dinner," Tanguay said, referring to the tradition of guys putting up some loot as incentive to beat their former team.
Keenan, however, wasn't nearly as chatty about watching his former whipping boy light it up against him. When asked what he thought of Tanguay and Kovalev's line, Keenan responded curtly, "not much," and walked away from reporters.
That reaction says way more on that line's performance, in my opinion, than anything Carbonneau or Tanguay or Lang or Kovalev could say about their own games. If the line starts to click, and Matt D'Agostini and Andrei Kostitsyn continue to shine next to Saku Koivu, that gives Carbonneau two very solid scoring lines to work around.
That third line is the one that could have an opening Thursday night with Higgins seemingly needing at least that long to recover. Sergei Kostitsyn inherited that spot after Higgins went down, and Carbonneau gave him a passing grade for his return after a three-game stint in the doghouse.
"We just want effort," Carbonneau said. "Obviously we're looking for results down the line, but what I want is effort every game. Hopefully the lesson of not playing the last couple of games will pay off for us."
In terms of effort and results, I thought Sergei was pretty below average considering he'd been a healthy scratch for three nights. But I also hate this trap thing the Habs have been using, the same system that has produced a 5-1-1 record in seven games. So what do I know.