Category Archives: Alex Galchenyuk

Game 5 Bummer

The Canadiens fall 3-2 to the Rangers in overtime, and now it’s gonna take them seven games to win the series instead of six.

I’m okay with that, because I have faith. But they’re testing my faith. And my patience. Bastards.

For much of the game, the Rangers were the better team, and that’s unacceptable, especially at the Bell Centre where noisy fans provided the atmosphere, but fans can’t put the puck in the net. That’s where the team is supposed to chip in.

It was a sickening sight to see the puck get past Carey Price in overtime, because as dominate as the Rangers were in OT, it was always possible that a lucky break could see the Canadiens end up winning the thing.

It never happened, and now the series resumes once again on Saturday in New York. And it’ll have to be all hands on deck for that one, because no-shows aren’t welcome. Never have been, never will. Especially no-shows that wear the CH.

I still feel that Montreal is the better team. It’s just how I feel. They weren’t tonight, and they weren’t on Tuesday. Or game 1 for that matter. So maybe they’re not.

This one hurts.

From my notes:

In the first minute of the game, Carey Price made a huge save on Mats Zuccarello, and I thought maybe Pricer was gonna be a hero on this night.

Andrew Shaw and the much bigger Brendan Smith dropped the gloves, Shaw got in several fine rights, and he looked good as he swung away. It was just the beginning of a rough and tumble, hard hitting, testy kind of a night.

Still in the first, Artturi Lehkonen fooled with Marc Staal and ended up swooping around the net and sending the puck past Henny Lunny to give the boys a 1-0 lead.

Still in the period, Jesper Fast scored a shorthanded marker after Alex Galchenyuk coughed up the puck, and the game was tied.

Galchenyuk’s been mediocre at best in this series. Maybe he doesn’t want to be a Hab anymore.

Just 25 seconds later, on the same power play, Brendan Gallagher fooled Henny from 15 feet out and the good guys took the lead again.

In the second period, Zuccarello highsticked Paul Byron, catching him in the eye area. Somebody needs to tune the Norwegian in once and for all.

With just 1:32 left in the 2nd, the Rangers tied it up, and it was after this that the strength of my ticker was firmly tested.

Sixteen seconds in, Gally took a slashing penalty when his little love tap knocked the stick out of the hands of a weak-wristed Blueshirt. A cheap call indeed, but NY failed to score.

Gally’s only 5’9″, 184 pounds, but he’s the toughest son of a gun on the ice.

Also in the third, Phillip Danault hit the post while the team was shorthanded, and Max couldn’t solve Henny on a clear-cut breakaway.

Max is in a slump at the wrong time of year. But you already know that.

In overtime it was all Rangers.

One Lousy Random Note:

Game 6 on Saturday in New York is an 8pm ET start. Or 5pm where I live.

 

 

 

Big Game 3 Win For Habs

Definitely solid were the Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Sunday evening, with their 3-1 win giving them a 2-1 series lead over the Blueshirts, and it was a job done in impressive style.

Outshooting the Rangers 29-21, Les Glorieux stood their ground, skated miles, the defence and Carey Price shut the door, and New York ticket buyers rained boos down on their beloved team that lacked flow, mainly because the Habs made sure there was no home team flow.

The boos were music to my ears. Disgruntled New Yorkers, pissed because their team was outmatched by the proud CH.

That’s two straight wins for the boys after an opening game loss, no longer are they stymied in the neutral zone as they were in game 1, they’re on a roll with that magical momentum, and my heart soars like a pair of pelicans at the beach in Malibu.

After a scoreless first period, Artturi Lehkonen, on the power play, finished off a great sequence (Plekanec to Gallagher to Lehkonen), while in the final frame, Shea Weber, on another man-advantage, converted some nifty work by Alex Galchenyuk.

Weber’s goal proved to be the winner, but it wasn’t the final marker. Alexander Radulov danced in and extended his stick and the puck one-handed around Henrik Lundqvist, and the game for all intents and purposes was over. Although New York would pot one with 2:56 left and Lundqvist on the bench to make it a slightly more respectable 3-1 game.

A great win, the boys are rolling, Claude Julien seems to be molding them into a tight and impressive playoff club, and I think the Rangers to a man know they’re in deep trouble.

Their fans do, that’s for sure.

And at the risk of sounding smug, greedy, and obnoxious, it’s a beautiful thing when a team can dispatch the enemy in less than seven games. The postseason is a brutal marathon, and we don’t want the series to go long.

I’m not smug. If I can’t be a player or coach or stickboy, I have to do my own mental planning from a distance. And my mental planning means winning the series in five games, or at the most, six.

Next game – Tuesday in NY, at the normal time.

 

 

Habs Strangle Sens

A Shea Weber blast in the first period, two rockets  from Andrei Markov in the second, and the Canadiens, with their 3-1 win, down the Ottawa Senators for the third time in a week.

Montreal’s pathetic showings against Detroit and Carolina earlier this week is now ancient history. The Canadiens win a big one, they once again widen the gap to three points in the Atlantic Division fight for first, and they looked decent doing it.

They’re back in our good books, thanks to Markov with his pair of goals and a helper, Carey Price coming up big when called upon, and a clock-punching, hardworking, hard-skating  effort by everyone.

They make me proud when they play well and win when it really counts. This is a team we can’t always predict. Sometimes they play like fat reefers were handed around at the morning meeting.

But when they’re angry, focused, and determined, they play as a team. Like a contender. Like tonight.

And through it all, through both good and bad, even when I’m mad at them for sometimes playing like they’re still trying to remember the grocery list, I love them.

I love them like me and my buddy loved hula dancers.

Random Notes:

Ottawa outshot the Canadiens 32-24 and were 2/4 on the power play.

A fine example of looking good: In the first period, Ottawa’s feisty Alex Burrows high-sticked Alex Galchenyuk in the face, and a few seconds later, Andrew Shaw tuned Burrows up. I thought it was a fine moment. Teammate helping teammate. Far too often in the past this wouldn’t happen, and it was always embarrassing. Seeing a tougher team is pure joy.

Next up – Tuesday, when the Dallas Stars pay a visit to beautiful downtown Montreal.

 

 

 

Habs Clipped By Wings

It’s a loser point so it’s still okay I suppose, but definitely not something to do handstands over.

Not that I could do a handstand. But whatever. Maybe a pushup.

The Canadiens, in falling 2-1 to the visiting Detroit Red Wings, reminded us of too many times this season when they looked flat throughout.

Boring, confused, out of sorts. Weird and a bit baffling. The season’s winding down and they played like they were on tour in northern Saskatchewan.

And in overtime, when they had a chance to win it, Detroit had the puck most of the time.

Oh well. Not that big a deal. Unless they play like that on Thursday against Carolina. Would two lousy games be a hiccup, or the beginning of the end?

I’m remaining optimistic. Not a good night for the Habs and fans, but it was a point and I suppose they can’t always play like gangbusters.

I just think that management needs to get the wives out of town until June. How many times do I have to say this? It’s obvious.

I can take about five of them at my house in Powell River, and I’ll cash in an RRSP to put the rest up at the hotel down the street.

Random Notes:

Al Montoya was in nets, and the last time he was, on March 9th in Calgary, he and the boys lost 5-0. Tonight, it took most of another full game before his team would score for him, thanks to Artturi Lehkonen with 2:29 left in the third.

Do they play a different, more hesitant game when Al is in the nets? If they do, they shouldn’t.

Anthony Mantha’s overtime goal came with just 50 seconds left, with Alex Galchenyuk being walked around like he was Dion Phaneuf or Mike Komisarek.

Chucky isn’t a complete player yet. Maybe next year. Maybe not. Maybe never.

Shots on goal were even at 36.

The Canadiens are still 3 big points ahead of Ottawa, who beat the Bruins 3-2 tonight in Boston.

 

Canadiens Nail Leafs

A sweet pass from Tomas Plekanec to Andrew Shaw in overtime, and the Habs skate off with a 3-2 win in Toronto, thus ending Leaf fans and the HNIC crew’s dream of their beloved team crawling within two points of the boys from Quebec.

If only they could’ve won, sighed Leaf fans as they left bars or turned off the lights at home and tried to sleep, and the HNIC crew wrapped things up at the rink and sadly shook their heads and looked broken.

It was a back and forth game, one that had extra purpose considering the standings and the built-in rivalry, and for a change, one that probably kept many fans on the edge of their chairs and couches throughout.

Of course I don’t know for sure about the edge of chairs and couches. I’m only guessing.

A fast-paced affair which could’ve gone either way, and I could say that folks got their money’s worth at the ACC, except a bunch of lower seats probably went for a grand or so, so maybe the people sitting there didn’t exactly.

Depends on what a grand means to them I guess.

But it went Montreal’s way for a change, they keep their distance from a bunch of pretenders, including the Torontonians, after two sharpshooters and one Shaw raked the Leafs into the ditch.

A struggling team gets it done against a good young Toronto team that gets TV announcers’ libidos doing the watusi.

The Leafs would open the scoring in the first period when Habs rearguard Nikita Nesterov not only had the puck go in off him, but played his man in front so softly it was like he was up against Betty White.

Greg Pateryn sat while Nesterov dressed. Next game, in New Jersey on Monday, maybe that’ll change. Softness isn’t cool, unless it’s toilet paper and a few other things, like women.

In the second frame, with the man advantage, Max would bury a beauty pass from Alex Galchenyuk, and nine minutes later, Galchenyuk would bulge the twine with a great shot that gave the boys a 2-1 lead.

In the third, again with poor defensive coverage (this time by Alexei Emelin), Leafs super-rookie Auston Mathews would tie things and send it into overtime.

And that’s where Pleks and Shaw worked their magic.

This final photo shows the Rocket scoring his final goal, his 626th, on April 12, 1960 during the Stanley Cup Finals against the Leafs. I wrote to a Toronto paper after it happened, asking if they’d send me a photo, and they did.

Therrien Gets Boot

I know that my friend Mike Williamson, for more than six decades a Habs fan, is pissed about the Therrien firing.

Not because Therrien was fired, that’s a great thing! But because he feels Claude Julien is just another old retread, as Therrien was. Both with two kicks at the can, and it should’ve been time for fresh blood.

Kirk Muller should’ve gotten the chance, says Mike. He liked the idea of Gerard Gallant coming back too.

I’m fine with having Julien on board. Or pretty well anybody else for that matter. Not Patrick Roy, but pretty well anybody. I’m a wait and see guy with Julien, and maybe he’ll help jumpstart a team that needs to send the wives to Powell River, put their heads down, look within themselves and not like what they see, and climb out of this freefall with whatever inner and outer strength it takes.

The fact is, even with a healthy Carey Price, the team now looks almost as bad as last year’s. And if they’re even close to last year’s futility after the dust settles, I know my soul will go dead and I’ll spend my remaining years drooling and maybe trying to understand cricket.

Even Danno, a fellow who was a regular and enthusiastic commentor on here for years, told me recently that because of last year, he barely pays attention now.

It hit us hard, that pathetic display by the Montreal Canadiens last year, and now WTF? Younger fans with favourite players might stay true and sort of excited, but guys like me are getting the shit pounded out of our hearts and the times they are a changin.

Danny Gallivan, where are you? Come down and help make hockey magical again.

Michel Therrien needed to go. Something that Dra58 (Dan in Malone NY) has been saying all along, year after year. He recognized the ‘boring, dump and chase, don’t take chances’ Therrien style, and hated it. Echoed by Peter Rherbergen in Chesley, Ontario who nicknamed Therrien ‘Thornbush’ and who has called for the coach’s head for several years.

Peter says today: “It’s Valentine’s Day, and Bergevin showed us some love. The boys can be creative again. Emelin will horizontalize folks again, Weber may return to being a force, Galchenyuk will gain confidence, Shaw will learn grit within the rules.

Peter has always complained that Therrien has stifled certain players’ creativity, including PK Subban’s. And the way the benchboss gave Desharnais such major minutes is a big head scratcher.

Dishonest John in Kenora, Ont is another one. “Yup, as each day went by in this break I was thinking there was less and less of a chance this could happen. Now I’m over the moon.”

I’ll bet it’s the first time his high school students heard the old man yelp during math class.

We needed Michel Therrien gone for the sake of our health. Much of our mental stability was at stake. Although some of it was our own fault.

But imagine now if the thing continues to slide with Julien behind the bench. What a mess it would become. Another chapter of the big time soap opera called the Montreal Canadiens.  Equal parts sad and interesting soap opera.

Most of Montreal, plus fans everywhere else like you and me and Dan and Danno and Mike and Peter and Dishonest John, would need some serious drinks and drugs if the mess gets messier.

No way can we have a repeat of last year. So Therrien had to go.

Saturday Morning Close But No Cigar

The Canadiens almost pulled it out in the dying minutes but they didn’t, so why even mention it?

Because I’m feeling guilty for slacking off lately with the recaps and this is the best I can come up with.

A 3-2 Caps win at the Bell Centre, in a game that saw the home team play with more vim and vigor than their comatose display in Philly Thursday night.

But 95-year old Betty White and a full century Kirk Douglas would play with more vim and vigor than the Habs’ Thursday sleep-in. So instead of doing a little summary of that recent yawner, I decided to pick my toenails and melt my ear wax instead.

Today (Saturday) was a game that began at 10:10 am at my house, which works out beautifully because it gives me plenty of time to track down my pusher. Same thing tomorrow when the boys greet the Edmonton Oilers.

Sure hope I don’t get ‘acid’ indigestion while stirring the ‘pot’ full of boiled ‘hash’ while I, uh, drink my ‘coke’.

I can’t wait for the playoffs. This 82-game schedule is merely a series of teams tweaking before real hockey begins. Let the Canadiens play like bums now, it doesn’t matter. Calm down and don’t get your shorts in a knot. Spent some quality time with your pusher instead.

The Maharishi would tell you the same thing if he were alive and not busy hitting on Mia and Prudence Farrow.

The postseason is the real deal, not Gary Bettman’s dream of parity, where almost every team is basically as good as every other team, in the regular season at least.

The top of the heap Caps are notorious flops in the playoffs and I expect them to do so again, mainly because it’s all we know from them. And surprises happen in late-spring. Small and quick teams with great goaltending, who were often boring and inept as hell beforehand, can sometimes surprise and go far at this time. Like Montreal will this year.

Just have to get the wretched season over with.

I hate parity. I want a handful of good teams and plenty of bad ones. It’s nice to see the bad ones play like gangbusters against powerhouses. Sometimes the poorer teams win because of hard work, lucky bounces, milder hangovers, along with supreme cockiness and worse hangovers on the part of the good ones.

Where was I going on this? What’s this about parity? Sorry.

Carey Price allowed his usual three goals, which he does on most nights now, but it matters little because it’s not the playoffs. So please don’t take his play or Galchenyuk’s or Shaw’s to heart. It means almost nothing.

Is there a rule that says Price can’t wear Jacques Plante’s old equipment during a game?

Random Notes:

Alexander Radulov was on fire today, with a goal, an assist, and a goal called back after Max interfered with Caps netminder Braden Holtby.

Below is Lyla, who is the main reason why my priorities have changed. Why I don’t write summaries after every game now. Why I often pace the floor or look at blank walls instead of paying attention to these friggin’ multi-millionaires on the ice who insult all of you when they float or sign their chicken scratch names on a piece of paper, which ultimately looks like something Lyla would’ve scribbled.

Lyla’s become way more important than getting wound up about any lousy regular season showing on the part of this team that I’ve put my heart and soul into for six decades.

My wife Lucy and I are raising this little girl, with great help from Lyla’s mom, even though we’re in our mid-60s. And I’m slowly converting my spare room, that was filled with rare Habs memorabilia, into a little girlie room, which I’m happy to do.

Lyla is real life, unlike the regular season.

 

 

Sabres Stab Habs

It’s three losses in the Canadiens’ last four games after falling 3-2 in overtime to the visiting Buffalo Sabres.  Or four losses in six if you’re interested.

Yep, the boys are far from smokin’.

They held on to a thin 2-1 lead going into the third period, they were playing well and were on their way to two big points, but they couldn’t nail down the all-important insurance marker.

They couldn’t muster any killer instinct, Buffalo would tie it at 8:07 of the third, and then the Canadiens simply decided to give about 50% instead of the required 110%. It makes my blood boil, considering I always gave at least 160% wherever I worked.

Sometimes 170%. But I digress.

Well, I’m kinda mad. But not at Carey Price, who was terrific throughout and came up with two astonishing saves in the last 20 seconds of the third period to get the boys into overtime and of course that important single point.

Price got them the point, not the guys in front of him. The Sabres were allowed to fire clear shots and move in close far too many times. It’s soft hockey. Doug Harvey would be rolling in his grave. And if Larry Robinson was dead, he would be too.

Sprague Cleghorn would’ve punched Lehner, a ref, Brian Gionta, and most of his own teammates for losing a game they should’ve won, against a much-inferior squad. Toe Blake would’ve torn a strip off them and taken away the beer on the next train trip. John Ferguson would’ve punched a hole in a cement block. But that was a different time of course.

Today’s players check their investments, go to dinner with friends from the other teams, and say “obviously” a lot when interviewed.

Full marks to Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, who absolutely robbed Alex Galchenyuk in overtime with a glove save on a hard shot while being screened. It’s marked for the highlight reels. His save, and Price’s glove on Rasmus Ristalainen, are two for the ages.

But alas, after Lehner’s big stop, Zach Bogosian would light the lamp and win the game and not that I’m the pessimistic type, but I’d say the Canadiens are in a bit of a mid-winter funk right now.

I’ll also say it again, it’s the wives fault and they should be rounded up and sent to Powell River until the season and playoffs come to a close. I’ll find something for them to do.

Random Notes:

Artturi Lehkonen and Philip Danault scored for Montreal, with both goals coming the middle frame.

Next up – Tuesday, when the Calgary Flames come a callin’.

 

 

Habs Rock Rangers

The Canadiens rebound from a 7-1 trouncing on Thursday in Minnesota to edge the visiting New York Rangers 5-4 at the Bell on Saturday night, and church bells ring throughout the land.

So if you hear church bells on Saturday night or Sunday morning, it’s because the Habs won. What else could it be?

Not only did they win but they did it by scoring three unanswered goals in the third period to do it. It’s almost religious.

The first period saw Andrew Shaw, returning from concussion, interfere in the crease which caused Phillip Danault’s goal to be called back,  the team was scored upon with Shaw in the box, and to cap off the night for the returning not-so-bright forward, he blindsided Jesper Fast and received a five minute major and game misconduct.

Too much energy and adrenaline for Shaw, and not enough brain cells turned on. But whatever. The team won. And regardless of the lack of brain cells, at least Shaw plays with an edge.

I’ve been whining that the Canadiens have been too full of peace and love for a decade. Time to be mean assholes. But probably a bit smarter than Shaw on this night.

Alex Galchenyuk, back from sick bay after more than a month, tied the game with a deflection, but quickly the visitors went ahead after Alexei Emelin took the man but forgot the puck, and Rick Nash banged it home.

But….I don’t understand.

Kevin Hayes barged in, wrapped his skate behind Carey Price’s pad, and dragged the poor bastard out of the crease, thereby giving Nash the open net. The play was reviewed and the goal stood.

How come? Please tell me. Maybe Kerry Fraser can explain. I’ll watch for it.

Things were heating up, and the Bell Centre patrons sat up. Brian Flynn would shove it home to tie the game at 2-2, but tragically, our man Chucky would lose the puck along the boards, reliable old Shea Weber was beaten cleanly, it was 3-2 Rangers, and life wasn’t worth living.

Until it was.

The third frame saw Alexei Emelin fire a wrist shot home from the blueline to put things at 3-3, then Max would outrace two d-men to put the boys ahead 4-3, and Paul Byron would give them a beauty of two goal, 5-3 lead.

The Rangers would make it 5-4 with 5:07 left, but that was the best the Broadway Blueshirts could do.

Habs win 5-4. And please don’t fret about Carey Price’s mediocre play lately, or cracks in defence, or this or that. This is the regular season, where we only have to be concerned about them making the playoffs, which they will.

The regular season is only a rehearsal, a fine-tuning, a time to get the gang ready for opening night – the playoffs. I’m sure Marlon Brando was an asshole sometimes before the cameras rolled, and then rallied to give the performance of his life.

That’s the Habs. Ups, downs, fine tuning, readying for the curtain to rise.

Random Notes:

The Rangers outshot Montreal 33-32. Price came up big a bunch of times.

Next up – two tough games on the horizon. Detroit on Monday, and at home to greet Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Habs Burn Leafs

Just when the young and smug Toronto Maple Leafs and their giddy fans thought the team was rockin’ and rollin’ toward new and amazing heights, they came up against the gritty Montreal Canadiens.

Suddenly, all isn’t so fantastic in Leafland, as the visiting Habs, finishing off a seven-game road trip that took them to winter wonderlands like Miami, Tampa, Dallas, Nashville etc, waltzed into Toronto and won 5-3 in solid fashion over the Toronto Kadris.

Alexander Radulov was sensational, as was Carey Price, but for me the real hero was Shea Weber, who pounced and trounced Zach Hyman after the Leaf forward flew into Price and sent him sprawling. Then, as the second period came to an end, Weber once again sought out Hyman and made his point even clearer.

That’s what we want, and it’s what I knew we’d get from Weber when he came over from Nashville. This is is a guy respected by all, he’s a big brother to some and a leader to all, and he needed to bend Hyman’s nose to say it loud and clear in Toronto and around the league that Carey Price is not to be messed with.

The team will protect Price, and the corner was abruptly turned after New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri ran Price a month ago and Price took matters into his own hands. His teammates were embarrassed and criticized, but sometimes a team in the midst of gelling needs to learn a solid lesson.

And the Canadiens have.

Habs

Leafs

Three wins in their first three games of January. Last season, the boys won just three in the entire month. I’m proud of these crazy bunch of beautiful bastards. A team held together with band aids, and they won’t break.

Just a tremendous showing in front of smug Leaf fans.

Random Notes

Habs were outshot by the Leafs 36-31, and were 2/5 on the power play (Scherbak and Radulov).

Nikita Scherbak, in his very first NHL game, scored his first NHL goal with just one second left in the first period to give the boys a 3-2 lead.

Max Pacioretty had opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the game, and Artturi Lehkonen added another befor e the Leafs stormed back to tie it.

Radu scored his power play marker in the second frame to widen the gap to 4-2, but the Leafs would soon make it a 4-3 game.

In the third period, Michael McCarron salted it away by bouncing the biscuit off Leafs goaltender Frederik Anderson, who was quite shitty on the night. Anderson is keeping up the fine tradition of mediocre backstopping in Cabbagetown. It goes back many decades.

No sense naming the Montreal injury list. It’s old news.

But if you haven’t heard, it’s Gally, Chucky, DD, Pateryn, Markov, Byron, and Shaw.

Next up – Habs at home on Monday to battle the Washington Capitals, then it’s back on the road to Winnipeg and Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday. The wives must be lonely. (And if you are, my number is 604-555-1212. Call me.)

Photos – First – the art was done by me in grade two. Second – one of my old ads from crumbling newspapers. Third – My hockey coin collection. I have the other four teams complete as well. Fourth – the iconic Maclean’s magazine cover, with added script created by my friend Ed in Ottawa.