Not Much To Say

I’ll be a man of few words here. I need to get to the local drug dealer and stock up. Without him I’m not able to face reality.

It seemed like only yesterday when the Canadiens were making us excited and hopeful. And then the playoffs started.

They played a fine game and should’ve won the thing, but they couldn’t beat Ben Bishop (aside from Brendan Gallagher’s third period marker), there wasn’t a break to be had as pucks came oh so close, some hit posts, the big bastard stopped 30 shots, and all in all, Montreal could’ve racked up four or five goals if even a bit of luck was on their side.

Tampa even went 16 minutes in the second period without recording one measly shot on Carey Price. And they still won.

The home team made it 2-1 with just over a second remaining in the third period, and things are grimmer than grim for the team everyone hates except 10 million of us worldwide. And now they’re down 3-0 in the series.

Just over a second left. Where’s that drug dealer?

The Canadiens haven’t bested the Bolts even once this year (8 games), and it could all come to a crashing halt on Thursday night.

Unless they play like they did tonight and things go their way for a change.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Lightning 31-19 and were 0 for 2 on the power play.

Up Against The Brotherhood?

Former referee Kerry Fraser says that after the Brandon Prust/Brad Watson dustup, the Canadiens will be in tough against not only Tampa, but the zebras as well – Refs Will Punish.

Officials are a brotherhood and they don’t like being shown up, is what Fraser more or less said as he backed off from his hairspray for a few seconds.

What happened to the idea that officials simply make the right call, regardless of the team? That’s what it’s supposed to be, but now they’re going to let things slide in favour of the Lightning?

Is this professional? Are the officials going to have a say in how this series plays out because Brad Watson isn’t crazy about Brandon Prust? What kind of third world sport are we dealing with here?

Not to excuse Prust or his teammates. They were all pathetic in game 2 and deserved to lose, although they were still in the game until PK was sent to the box near the end of the first period for a needless crosscheck and Tampa scored with just 24 seconds left to grab the lead and the momentum.

The Habs can’t score, and their special teams are the opposite of special. Can’t put ’em in and can’t keep ’em out. They were horrible in game two.  It was embarrassing. And I’m worried about Maripier Morin and how she’s holding up.

But if they come out in game 3 and play a great game but get shanked by the referees and lose a heartbreaker because of the striped brotherhood’s ‘all for one, one for all’ mentality,  after Fraser said what he said, do you think the league might call a few of the culprits up on the carpet and maybe change the way things are done? Or maybe not?

Habs haters are all over this. We’re a whiny bunch and getting what we deserve, they say as they scratch themselves and smash empty beer cans against their head. And if the Canadiens lose because the officials decided such, they’ll laugh and carry on and scratch and smash beer cans, until it happens to their team. Then they’ll cry that life isn’t fair and it’s only the Montreal Canadiens that get the sweet calls.

And one last thing before I sign off and cut the lawn. At least Prust showed fire, unlike so many others.

 

 

Unimpressive Habs

What’s the opposite of smart? The Canadiens in game two.

Blown out 6-2 by the Tampa Bay Lightning, due to a plethora of penalties on a night when the penalty killers couldn’t get the job done and the team as a whole enjoying a nice little Bell Centre sleepover.

The team wasn’t good enough, not by a long shot. 6-2. What the %#*&^ is that?

Penalties killed them, with the boys, led by Brandon Prust, in the box for 53 minutes compared to Tampa’s 13. The Lightning went  4 for 8 with the extra man, while the Canadiens offered up their usual 0 for 3.

And of course, good old Chris Lee was one of the zebras, chosen by the league to work the game (along with Brad Watson). When a referee has a reputation for being a dickhead when working Habs games, why isn’t he assigned another series instead? Wouldn’t it be the thing to do?

I’ll bet Lee’s dad hated the Habs. But regardless, it was mostly Montreal players shooting themselves in the foot all night and not so much anything else.

It had started out well, though, with Jeff Petry sending a wrist shot from the point that beat Ben Bishop and which gave the Habs something as rare as a power play goal – the first goal of the game and an early lead.

Later on, Torrey Mitchell had a great shorthanded chance that might have boosted momentum and made us giddy now instead of the opposite, but it didn’t happen of course. Nothing really happened.

Everything just caved in, beginning when Brandon Prust was given two minutes for roughing and then two for unsportsmanlike conduct for trying, unsuccessfully, to goad Braydon Coburn.

And although the Canadiens killed off the four minutes in impressive style, just seconds later, PK Subban felt the need to do some mindless crosschecking and was promptly sent off, and during PK’s stay in the sinbin, the Lightning quieted the Bell Centre and sent us scurrying to the liquor cabinet by taking the lead with just 24 seconds remaining in the period.

Fast forward to the second period and Steven Stamkos in alone and deking out Carey Price with the greatest of ease, a couple of Lightning power play goals with Gilbert in the box and then Petry, and move on to the third where the Lightning scored once again on the PP to make it 5-1.

Wedged in was a Tom Gilbert goal from the blueline to make it 5-2 before the Lightning added another.

Two goals for the Habs, both from blueliners not known for their goal scoring, while the marksmen up front accomplished nothing. In fact, only Max, in game one, has been able to bulge the twine other than Petry and Gilbert.

It’s tremendously pathetic and discouraging. How do you win playoff games when the boys are on an extended coffee break?

It was also only Habs in the penalty box in the third period to add to the misery, when discipline was needed the most and what obviously didn’t happen. But it was a 4-1 game when the puck was dropped for the third period, so I suppose the game was basically over anyway.

Mitchell for interference on the goalie, Weise a 10 minute misconduct, Mitchell for face-off violation when he grabbed the puck, and Prust for a whack of things including ten minute and game misconducts after tussling with Coburn and throwing an elbow pad into the Lightning bench.

Nutty stuff. Undisciplined and unacceptable, and not the way to be successful in the playoffs. Everybody knows this. But somehow, the Canadiens, in this game two, forgot.

I’ve always loved a feisty team. I’m just not crazy about a dumb team.

Game three on Wednesday night. Another showing like this and we’re screwed. But unless we go down three games to none I’m staying positive. It’s in my blood. Sort of.

 

 

Opener Goes To Tampa

Hockey puck crossing red goal line. Close view

A game of thrills and spills, of hit posts and pucks near goal lines, of guys skating like the wind and bumping and creating fine chances  in a tough, hard-fought affair. All in all, a fine game one.

Except the Canadiens lost 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s a heartbreaker but not disheartening, because Montreal, for the most part, looked just fine, and there’s no reason not to think that the series is for the taking.

For me, one of the better games the Habs have played all season, aside from the fact that most of the guys seem to have forgotten how to score.

My advice, from a guy who was a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers midgets? Shoot the puck at the net. And sometimes ring one off Bishop’s face mask for good measure, like what happened tonight. More of that would be good.

I also liked seeing the game go into the second overtime period. The Lightning had just come off a hard-fought seven-game series against Detroit that ended just two days prior, and fatigue should begin to show as things wear on. Especially when these two teams play back-to-back games in Tampa next week.

If the Canadiens are in tip top condition, which they should be, they’ll soon wear these buggers down. I remain completely confident about the outcome of this series. But a few of the scorers need to score of course. Is it asking too much?

It took until the third period before the lamp was finally lit, when a tip from a point shot eluded Carey Price. That was it. A one-goal game. And the way Lightning backstopper Ben Bishop was holding the fort, odds were that not a single puck would find its way behind him.

Some of Bishop’s magic was pure luck though, as in the case of Tomas Plekanec while killing a penalty, having a wide-open net, and  what looked to be a spectacular save by Bishop. But I’m saying the puck was shot right into the goalie’s glove.

Patrick Roy would’ve raised his catching glove high into the air in dramatic fashion on a save like that, like he’d pulled off something just short of the greatest save ever made. In reality, if the glove is positioned properly, often pucks will zoom in and people will ooh and aah, even though the goalie was basically full of shit.

With just 5:13 remaining in that frame, Max Pacioretty, who looks 100% after recovery from his head-into-boards incident back on April 5th against the Panthers, sped in and sent a wrist shot that Bishop gloved and then let drop, with the momentum of the puck crossing  the line, and suddenly the game was tied.

A glorious moment for Habs fans from Powell River to Pacaraima. Playoffs baby!

Tied until 2:06 of the second overtime period. And then, just like that, it was over.

Looking good, though. Sunday night the boys even the series!  I’m pretty sure about this.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Lightning 44-35 and won 55 faceoffs to Tampa’s 34. They also went 0 for 3 on the power play. Can you imagine the day when Montreal might go 3 for 3 or 4 for 4 on the power play? The thought scrambles my remaining brain cells.

Although Tampa was 0 for 4 on their man-advantages, so both teams sucked equally in this regard.

Alex Galchenyuk took three penalties, played a semi-par game for the most part, but also came close to ending things with 40 seconds left in the first overtime frame. But he didn’t.

Dale Weise also came close to being the hero, in the second OT period, just before Nikita Kucherov sank the dagger.

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness Is A Warm Stanley Cup

From legendary Canadian political cartoonist Duncan Macpherson, who also created the 1960s overhead image of the old Montreal Forum that proved very popular when I posted it a couple of times over the years, is his painting of jubilant Habs celebrating the Stanley Cup.

I know it’s Habs because the caption that comes with the picture says so, even though the sweaters are slightly different.

This is what we need to see this coming June.

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And here’s what folks liked so much. So much so that I’ve had many inquiries about how to get a print of this and which, sadly, I have no idea.

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One More For Tampa And Detroit

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The Canadiens must now wait for the Lightning and Red Wings to battle it out in game seven after Tampa held on for a 5-2 win in game six.

I’m not sure whom I want Montreal to face. Both teams look decent. Originally I would’ve said Red Wings after the Canadiens skunked them four games to none during the season while the Habs lost all five to Tampa. But either way is fine. Bring ’em on.

Detroit was Henri Richard and Claude Provost’s favourite place to play, although at that time it was at the Olympia, which opened in 1927 with the Detroit Cougars (and then Falcons), and closed in 1979 when the Red Wings, who played under that name from 1932 on, took over the brand new Joe Louis Arena.

When I was playing bantam or midget hockey in Orillia, our coach told us we had the choice of playing in a tournament somewhere in Ontario, or in an exhibition game at the Olympia in Detroit.

We had a vote, and the majority of the guys voted to play in the tournament. I was pissed then and I’m still now. I never understood my teammates about this. We were in lots of tournaments, but the chance to play at the Olympia was a once in a lifetime thing.

I’ll bet the guys don’t even remember the tournament. I don’t. But we’d all remember the Olympia.

Price & Co. Snuff Sens

Ye Olde Coffin Nail

It wasn’t easy, for the players and for us, but with Carey Price being Carey Price, the Canadiens move on and the Sens don’t.

A big 2-0 shutout win in game six to end the drama. As tense as can be with the Senators swarming the Canadiens goal, with shrieks and oohs and aahs filling Canadian Tire Centre as the Sens poured it on with the clock winding down.

But Price and company withstood those heart-stopping moments, and now wait patiently for the Detroit-Tampa to end, with the Red Wings currently up 3-2 in the series.

Of course, whenever one talks to a Sens fan anytime over the next eight months or so, the conversation will center around the play being  whistled dead when Price bobbled the puck and it was banged home. But from where referee Chris Lee was standing, Price had the puck and that was that.

A good and proper call. Sorry Sens fans.

For the first time in the series, Montreal opened the scoring when Brendan Gallagher batted home a bouncing puck, and overall, the Canadiens as a whole played a fine, hard-working first period.

It’s a beautiful thing when the team is in the lead instead of behind, and not having us wonder if Craig Anderson can be beaten and a game made of it. A much better feeling. Love those leads.

It was just a matter of getting a second goal, which ultimately didn’t happen until Max sent it down the ice into the open net in the dying seconds. We need the Habs to open the scoring more often. It’s much easier on the nervous system and several vital organs. A second goal soon after would be nice too.

The second period saw the Canadiens play their disturbing ‘sit back’ type of game, at one point being outshot 12-1 and totaling 16-3 overall, but Lars Eller rang one off the post and and Tomas Plekanec had an amazing chance to buried it but it sailed over the net instead.

So regardless of the fact the boys were outshot, they still showed slivers of danger. How the air would’ve left the building if Eller or Pleks had buried one of those. It would’ve been a beautiful thing.

In the third period, Canadiens found themselves with a plethora of great chances, including a Parenteau and Mitchell combo on one sequence, Weise on another, and at least two from Brandon Prust. Beautiful chances, and when no light was lit, dark clouds began to form. We knew how these things usually work. Great chances, no goals, and the other team scores shortly after.

That’s how it usually works. Just not tonight. Because Carey Price was Carey Price and his teammates for the most part, stood their ground. Good, grinding hockey while withstanding an Ottawa team that refused to let up.

So nice to be rid of the Ottawa Senators. I’ll spend a couple more seconds thinking about them, and then begin wondering about the Wings and Bolts.

Either will be tough, but nobody said winning the Stanley Cup would be easy. For the players or us.

Random Notes:

Ottawa outshot the Habs 43-20.

Andrei Markov was a bit of a disaster, coughing up pucks, looking slow, showing uncharacteristic sloppiness with the puck from start to finish. We need Markov to be the general and in strict control out there, not a Mike Komisarek or Dion Phaneuf clone.

Hard and effective workers included, among others,  PA Parenteau, who was inserted into the lineup for Brian Flynn; Brandon Prust, who played a feisty game and as mentioned, had a handful of good scoring chances; Brendan Gallagher, who scored what became the winner and was his usual Gallagher self; Lars Eller, who once again was excellent; and of course Price, who rose to the occasion after not exactly being on top of things the other night.

Maybe it was my ears, but I think I heard the wild and crazy Glenn Healy give us what he called a Beatles reference when he mentioned things being “A long day’s night.” It’s “A Hard Day’s Night” Glenn. Or maybe you were thinking of “A Long and Winding Road”. Regardless, leave the Beatles out of your mutterings.

Tampa and Detroit play game six on Monday. We watch and wait.

 

 

 

 

Habs Drop Another

The Canadiens were pounded 5-1 in game five at the Bell, and although they’re digging themselves a little hole, they still need just one win in the next two games, which is better than what the Sens need.

So all’s well. Except for the part about scoring one measly goal in two games, with that lone marker coming after more than five periods. Goals have dried up, and when the Sens grabbed an early 2-0 lead, we were screwed.

Guys can’t score anymore, and when you look at some of our forwards, you see Max, Gally, and Smith-Pelly with just one assist thus far.  Young de la Rose has zero points. And a bunch of others have a feeble two points.

The pathetic power play, again firing blanks, went 0/3, while the Sens scored twice on their four. One power play goal on 19 attempts over the five games.

Maybe the power play will come together on Sunday. Or Tuesday. Just kidding.

It was all Habs for the first ten minutes of the game, but when Bobby Ryan’s shot found its way through, which gave the Sens the lead on just their second shot of the game, everything changed. The Canadiens’ balloon was popped, while the Sens experienced a crystal meth-like rush.

Tomas Plekanec, one of many who needs to do more, found himself on a shorthanded breakaway when it was still 2-0, and if he could’ve buried it, things might have been different. But he didn’t. And it’s cheap hindsight anyway.

A third goal was scored soon after the Plekanec chance and the game was over, even though it was still only the second period.

A couple of other red lights flicked on as this nightmarish evening unfolded, including the fourth that came from a brutal turnover by the wily old vet Andrei Markov.

It was 3-1 until that point, still a chance to make it a thriller, but the turnover and ensuing goal was a party killer if there ever was one.

All night the Canadiens, for the most part, failed to crowd the net and make life difficult for Craig Anderson, even though they outshot Ottawa 46-25. I’m going out on a limb and saying the Sens, or any team who might have watching from afar, weren’t exactly mesmerized by any Montreal onslaught.

But I’m keeping the faith. They still remain in better shape than Ottawa, and if they have any character at all, they’ll rebound and rid themselves of these guys, whether it’s in Ottawa on Sunday or Montreal on Tuesday.

I can see it now. Sens fans on Sunday give their team a nice standing ovation after 60 minutes.

And the Habs skate off the ice and move on to round two.

 

 

 

 

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