Second Round Coming Up!

At a loss for words here but I’ll give it the old college try.

Max, with 43 seconds left, sends our Montreal Canadiens into the second round and I’m numb and left exhausted. And it’s only the first round.

A sweep over the pesky Tampa Bay Lightning. Two periods of perfect hockey where the team would take a nice 3-1 lead, then a slight letdown in the third and the Lightning would tie it.

But Max, who couldn’t buy a goal for the past week or two, shoved it under Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis for the winner and all’s well in Habsland.

What a sport hockey is. Especially when the good guys give us an incredibly serious bang for the buck so to speak.

The agony and the ecstasy.

Moving on to round two.

A team playing with passion and drive.

Rene Bourque coming alive and again a supreme force. He never lived up to expectations after coming over in the Cammalleri trade. Until now. And in a big way.

Lars Eller, criticized frequently this season, especially on talk radio, coming through again and being the smooth and effective forward we’d only seen glimpses of this season.

Daniel Briere proving he’s a big time money player.

Everyone contributing, all the way down the line, with tonight’s goals from Briere, Eller, Gally, and then Max, which is a goal from each of the four lines.

And although the Vanek, DD, Max line was on the quiet side, Vanek would assist (along with P.K.) on Max’s winner. So the points from the line came anyway.

Imagine how proud papa Ray Pacioretty, sitting in the stands, must be.

The team was unreal in the first and second period, creating rush after rush, skating like the wind, checking Tampa to a standstill, clearing the net, making the right passes, doing all the right things.

I watched them play like that and I saw a real team. A team that takes a back seat to no one.

Now it’s a week’s wait. That’s fine. It’s going to take me that long to recuperate.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bolts 37-23.

 

 

 

 

Finish It Tonight Please

Bury them tonight and be done with it.

Because even though Tampa’s chances of winning this series are slim to none, coming back from being down 3 games has been done before – Toronto over Detroit in 1942 to win the Cup, the Islanders in 1975 over Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals, and Philadelphia over Boston in the Eastern semifinals.

But I like our chances in so many ways. And a nice rest while other teams pound each other means healing wounds, working on the power play, and not getting injured.

As they say, why wait for Christmas, do it now.

Christmas

 

 

Moving On From The Non-Goal

Not that I want to, but I suppose the thing to do is mention more about the goal/non-goal from Sunday’s game at the Bell Centre.

I’d prefer to move on and think about the guys getting it done in four games and continue to work on the power play during practice.

Frankly, it’s not the first or last time a disputed goal decision will be made. We’ll probably see several other instances in other series as we move along. Maybe as early as tonight.

The fact is, as mentioned by TSN’s Darren Dreger, the idea was put forth at one the general managers’ meetings, held in some palm tree-laden resort with a golf course, that monitors should be set up at the timekeepers bench where referees could have a look and see exactly what went down.

But the GMs dismissed the idea. It was probably getting close to tee time.

Tampa’s fans can complain but I’ll bet Jon Cooper and his players are now only concerned with game four. And this non/goal shouldn’t turn into the distorted opinion that it was a big turning point in the series. The Canadiens have outplayed Tampa in all three games for the most part, and Tampa should never have allowed Rene Bourque to bulge the twine after just eleven seconds (which is the fastest goal to start a playoff game at the Bell Centre).

But I expect the whining because it’s what I’d be doing if it had happened to the Canadiens.

The other chatter that just won’t quit is the hit to the head of Steven Stamkos by Alexei Emelin as Emelin was hurtling past him.  I’ve watched it several times, it happened quickly, seemed absolutely unintentional, and we’ve seen Emelin enough to know that it’s not his style to hurt, except for those thunderous bodychecks that rattle bones but are clean as a whistle.

Emelin’s not Matt Cooke or Raffi Torres or any of these dudes who have a reputation for such nastiness. He’s a punishing checker who caught Stamkos’ head by accident as he was flying through. Very unfortunate and I hope the Lightning star is 100%.

Hopefully this series ends soon so the only ones left to talk about all of this will be Tampa Bay folks. The Canadiens will have other fish to fry.

Canadiens Push Tampa To The Edge

Whew. That was stressful. But the boys prevailed, edge the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2, take a 3-0 lead in the series, and I’ll bet the bars and restaurants in downtown Montreal were rockin’ afterwards.

Of course, more will be said about a controversial non-goal by the Lightning than the fact that the Canadiens never panicked and held the fort when Tampa picked it up a few notches in the second and third period.

Frankly, the disallowed goal was a tough judgement call, there was some interference with Carey Price, although it might have had nothing to do with the puck going in.

The bottom line for me is, the Canadiens have their fair share of calls go against them in games over the years. Every team has. It’s hockey, the game is over, the boys won, we feel good, and that’s that.

It was a barnburner for sure. From the pre-game light show that began with the Stanley Cup banners lighting up one by one, to the amazing display on the ice of past and present players and voices, of Rocket hugging the Cup, Beliveau celebrating, Lafleur charging up the ice, and guys on the present team going full-tilt.

There was the kid wearing number 9, lighting things up with the torch. And legendary Ginette Reno belting out Oh Canada.

It’s the kind of thing only Montreal can do. With Habs haters grudgingly admitting it’s done well here, although complaining about the Cup banners and Habs fans stuck in the glory days sort of thing I suppose.

Just eleven seconds in, after Madame Reno had belted out the anthem and the puck was dropped, Rene Bourque burst in and beat Anders Lindback and it was 1-0.

Pre-game goosebumps and an early goal that latecomers missed because they had one extra beer at the Peel Pub.

Bourque once again played a fine game, used his size and great skating ability, and was dangerous often. It only took him 83 games to wake up. Is that an NHL record?

Every year the playoffs produce an unsuspecting star, one we would never predict in a million years.

So far in this series it’s been Rene Bourque, the one many of us wanted out of town on the next stagecoach. He’s gone from dreadfully ineffective to hugely effective. Who knew?

The biggest problem on the night was the Canadiens inability to bulge the twine on a big four-minute power play in the first frame, although they looked good and moved the puck around well.

Looking good and moving the puck around doesn’t guarantee goals though. But it kind of bodes well for the future.

They couldn’t score on that four-minute power play, and in the second, Tampa, newly-invigorated and playing with desperation, would tie it up. And it was after that that the controversial no-goal decision was made that would have given the visitors a 2-1 lead but didn’t.

P.K. Subban then dazzled with a rush that brought him around the back of Tampa’s goal, sent the puck over to Brendan Gallagher, and it was a 2-1 Habs lead instead of the other way around.

Absolutely exciting period, edge of the seat type stuff, and the third would be too.

Tomas Plekanec would send his team into a two-goal lead but a Tampa long shot flew by a screened Carey Price, which made for a seriously nerve-wracking finish, ending with a sigh of relief for everyone except Lightning fans as the Canadiens squeeze it out 3-2, and the noose is tightened.

The vibes around Montreal today were extraordinary, even in St. Hubert. Hockey was in the air. The flags were flying. I can only imagine what it’ll be like leading up to Tuesday’s game four.

A  stranglehold on the series. Finish it off in four and practice the power play. It’s the one achilles’ heel on a team that is playing well overall. The Canadiens went 0-5 in this game, which is just about the norm nowadays.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot TB 31-29.

Max had some great chances to break out of his scoring drought, but remains snakebitten. It’s coming though. We know how it works with him. Often it’s a flukey goal that lights the fuse.

Injured Alex Galchenyuk must surely be wishing he was out there being a part of this.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter To Everyone

Hope you’re having a terrific weekend. Is it okay to have chocolate bunnies instead of meat and potatoes today?

This picture includes my mom who’s been gone since 1978, and my little furry Easter duck that was mine when I was a baby and got back a year ago when the old homestead was being cleaned out.

I thought it was a baby chick until Luci told me it’s a duck.

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Avoiding Montreal Potholes

To fool you into thinking this a timely playoff post, I’m leading off saying we were at Canadian Tire in St. Bruno yesterday and not only were all the employees wearing “Go Habs Go” shirts, but they were also giving away large posters like this:

poster

Now that the contemporary playoff section is complete, I move on to potholes and Maurice Richard’s house.

Today was a day to get out and drive around Montreal because we hadn’t done it in awhile. A little thing like a brutal four-month winter got in the way.

And we drove all over the place, looking at classic neighborhoods filled with apartments with winding outdoor staircases, with people coming alive and milling about, all capped off by smoked meat at Lesters. Beautiful.

However, the potholes everywhere are something to behold. It’s pathetic. I’ve never seen a city with so many large craters in the streets everywhere, ready to destroy cars.

My car had such a gentle life up until nine months ago, but I think it’s quickly becoming screwed. I just wish I owned a shocks and suspension shop. I might be rich enough to own the Habs.

And Montreal, if you’re going to have these ridiculous potholes, the least you could do is fill them in front of the house in Ahuntsic where Maurice Richard lived and raised his family and drove to and from the Forum.

It doesn’t seem right.

Below, potholes at the Rocket’s, who lived at the end of a normal and unassuming street. Although his place was nicer than any others.

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Below, Rocket’s house from the park across the street. Darth took me here last fall and today I took Luci as part of our Saturday drive. It still appears that no one lives here, although blinds are on the windows now.

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Rocket’s street.

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Scenes from inside this house in the 1950s.

Habs wives

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house

And a restaurant not far away.

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Solid In Tampa

The Tampa Bay Lightning may have enjoyed a decent first period, but it was all Montreal for the next two, a completely solid and impressive showing by Les Glorieux, a 4-1 win that puts the boys two games up on the road.

All they have to do is keep doing what they’ve been doing – skate hard, constantly forecheck, get scoring from guys who don’t always score, look confident with the puck, enjoy each others company, dispose of the Tampa Bay Lightning as soon as possible, get some rest, heal some wounds, and watch players in other series pound each other into the ground.

Am I getting too far ahead of myself? Enjoying the moment.

Rene Bourque shone with two big goals that included barging in and sneaking it in beside the post, and a great play where he swung around the net and banked it in off Kristers Gudlevskis who had  replaced a yanked Anders Lindback.

Carey Price was back to the Carey Price we know and love after a slightly disturbing performance in game one. He was in control, it showed from the beginning, and it was a different feeling watching him from the the previous game. I think Stephane Waite had a good chat with him.

Just proud as punch about what’s transpired. Both games in Tampa won. My hears soars like a Joe Bonamassa guitar solo.

The game began with a Lightning team that was alive, but so was Carey Price. And at the other end, Lindback stopped Brian Gionta and Max, both of whom barged into the clear but were denied.

But the beginning of the second period was the beginning of the end for the home team. A power play goal that saw David Desharnais deflect a P.K. blast. Rene Bourque would notch his first. And Brandon Prust would plant fist onto the hairy face of Radko Gudas, with Prust scoring on the punch clock.

Ray Ferraro said on the radio before the series began that Habs fans will very quickly learn to hate Radko Gudas, but so far, he’s just another small bump in the road that hasn’t slowed the Habs tank down one bit.

The second was a much better period for the Canadiens, and in the third it was all them again.A goal by Brendan Gallagher and that was it for Lindback. And Bourque’s wraparound made it 4-0 and there was no way the Lightning would catch up, although they managed to make it 4-1 on a late power play with the goalie pulled.

Imagine if Bourque, Briere and Eller put it all together for the next while like they have for these two games. With them and the rest going, with Price at the top of his game, and with me wearing the same socks for as long as they win, the sky’s the limit.

Alexei Emelin was thumpin’ and bumpin’, Max was full of vim and vigour, P.K. and Gallagher too, and it was a truly impressive showing by all the guys in Florida.

Tampa and their fans know now they’re in a bit of a pickle.

Random Notes:

Tampa outshot Montreal 27-26 but definitely didn’t outplay them.

The Lightning also have a goaltending problem on their hands. The problem of not having a number one for the entire series.

Game three at the Bell on Sunday night and preparing to take a stranglehold. Ain’t life grand!

 

 

The FACC Coming Up Fast

Forget about the NHL playoffs, it’s good and all that, but the First Annual Classic Challenge goes in a week and I’m sort of ready.

A day off with pay for is at stake. Are you kidding me?

Classic Auctions employees, wives and kids have been split into two teams and I’m thankful we have five-year old Leo Brodeur on our team. Leo burned it up in atom action this year and I`m expecting big things from him.

Luci’s not playing because she’s never been on skates. And a few years ago she took shots at the Hockey Hall of Fame with a radar gun clocking it and the puck went about two miles an hour. So she’s not ready.

I’m ready, although I’d only played in two beer league games in Powell River in 1996 or so, played a little bit about ten years before that, and played 20 years before that when I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for the Byers Bulldozers Juveniles.

So if I do the math, that’s just a few games played in almost 50 years.

But I have new skates, and because I have no other equipment, I’ve borrowed two different Habs game-worn gloves from work that almost match. I’m expecting magic from those gloves.

I’ve been loaned shin pads but I think they’re going to be too heavy so I plan on making cardboard ones. And also from work is a helmet with a cage. I’ve never worn a cage before but I need to protect my devilish good looks.

I suppose I should buy a cup and jockstrap but maybe I can just tape on a lid from a small preserving jar.

Yes, the NHL playoffs are exciting, dramatic, tense, beautiful, and thrilling. But they’re not the First Annual Classic Challenge.

 

 

 

 

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