Category Archives: Alex Galchenyuk

Brand New Hab

A hearty welcome to Moscow-born (and Saskatoon Blades) forward Nikita Scherbak, chosen by the Canadiens with their first pick (26th), although Marc Bergevin says they had him at 15th for skaters and was surprised he was still around when it came time to choose.

From Moscow to Saskatoon, and sometime in the next few years, hopefully a full-time job in Montreal.

Time marches on. In 1972 when the Summit Series was played, Nikita’s mom and dad might not have been born yet.

Now we have Nikita, with a year in the WHL with the Blades under his belt, which not that long ago would’ve been unheard of, and speaking English, albeit with a heavy accent which is to be expected of course. You should hear my French accent.

I remember when it was truly strange to hear Valeri Kharlamov say a simple English “thank you” when interviewed with a translater in ’72. Completely unusual, although maybe you had to be there.

Now, after just a year in Canada, young Scherbak was a delight, and like Alex Galchenyuk a few years back, I liked him right away.

Again, welcome Nikita.

Darth Comes Through Again

Darth (Wade Alexander) has been creating cool pieces of computer art for several years and it’s always a good day when another shows up that I can post.

Some of his other stuff can be seen right here

And now, without further ado, Darth’s newest.

PKPortrait

The Curtain Closes

And just like that, it comes to a crashing halt.

Blanked 1-0 in game six at Madison Square Garden and the Canadiens’ season closes way too soon. We wanted more but I guess fans of every team except the Cup winner want more and don’t get it.

It was a game where the Habs had a blanket thrown over them almost from start to finish, a game they never found themselves truly in, a game where passes were off, they were checked into the ground, and the flow never flowed.

The Rangers tightened things up so much, Montreal, fighting for their lives, could only muster five shots in the first, eight in the second, and just five in the third when they should’ve been pulling out all the stops.

The attack was non-existent. So was pressure on Henrik Lundqvist. And the Rangers move on to the Stanley Cup Final and the Canadiens say their goodbyes in the next few days and spread out to different corners of the planet.

It’s a tad shocking as I pound the keyboard with two fingers. We had so many hopes and dreams that ended before they were supposed to. It sucks when the hopes and dreams don’t pan out.

This also isn’t  a night to say this guy didn’t do this or that guy didn’t do that. It just wouldn’t feel right.

It’s a night, for me at least, to look back and appreciate the terrific season the Montreal Canadiens gave us. One of only four teams left standing. How great was that?

Carey Price was on the sidelines, Dustin Tokarski stepped in, and the goaltending never lost a beat. But against the Rangers in this game especially, the team in front of Tokarski looked to have run out of gas while the Rangers still had a full tank.

In the next six months there will be some tweaking, some guys gone, a couple of young defenceman will find themselves with regular jobs, our kids like Alex Galchenyuk and Michael Bournival will have another valuable season under their belts, and PK Subban will get signed and continue on his road to the league’s best d-man.

We can get into changes and non-changes in the next while. It’ll be interesting to see what Marc Bergevin decides to do. I just hope Dale Weise, who had only signed a one-year contract, is in the plans.

We missed Weise’s character in this game six because of John Moore. Who is John Moore again?

This run has made our guys better. The experience is invaluable. Next year they’ll be one of the elite teams, one that when playoff time rolls around, they’ll be be a force and that parade will be much more of a possibility.

I’m truly proud of them. They gave us a great year, but they just aren’t quite there yet. Next year they will be because it’s a large and strong nucleus that make up our Montreal Canadiens, and the near future looks extremely bright.

One final note before it’s lights off. As I mention every year when the Habs season draws to a close, I don’t go away. This blog carries on throughout the summer so please continue to stop by.

Tomorrow’s another day. It’s also my weekly beer day at the local pub!

 

 

Carry On Canadiens!

Wild and wacky.

And when the dust had settled, the Canadiens give a little payback to the Rangers with a 7-4 pasting after chasing Henrik Lundqvist in the second, after enjoying a huge lead that they would blow and then regain, and who knows, as the icing on the cake, maybe we’ll even see a Ranger or two suspended!

Would’ve been a good night to be at the Bell. So much went on. Lively as hell. Lots of cheering and fretting. And now the Canadiens are alive and well, and it’s on to New York Thursday to keep the ball rolling.

Montreal practically owned the first period and led 2-1 after Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec lit the lamp, and in the second period, after killing a couple of penalties, went up a lovely 4-1 after Max and Ren Bourque bulged the twine.

But everyone except Lucy in Russia knows what happened next. New York scored three goals on six shots, suddenly it was tied at a horrifying four apiece, and the thought of this team being eliminated after leading 4-1 almost caused dry heaves.

But suddenly, the sun came up again. Rene Bourque scored his second of the night before the period had ended, the boys took another lead, and in the third Bourque would complete his hat trick, DD would score on the empty net, and all’s well in Habsland.

They could’ve folded the tent after those three quick Rangers goals that tied it, but they didn’t. And I’m willing to bet that some Knute Rockne-like speeches were made during the intermission that kept the gang on the straight and narrow throughout the third.

An awesome win. Montreal was the better team. They’ve been playing better slowly but surely as the series goes on and the Rangers know it.

As icing on the cake, we’ll hear sometime soon that Rangers d-man John Moore will get a couple of games suspension for clocking Dale Weise in a play somewhat similar to the Brandon Prust hit. You know, the one that made Rangers fans, players, and coaches scream blue murder about.

And then picture the wailing and sobbing from the Rangers if the less-than-talented Derek Dorsett, who sprayed a flag kid with snow at the beginning of the contest, also gets more than a wrist slap for a nasty headbutt on Mike Weaver near the end.

Who headbutts? Only extreme nutcases.

Dustin Tokarski came up big throughout and Rene Bourque led the charge with three goals. A tremendous night. And lots of guys contributed.

Markov collected three assists. Max ended with a goal and an assist, Eller and Weiseboth had two assists, Galchenyuk with a goal and an assist, Plekanec had a goal, and Vanek grabbed an assist, as did Gally, Gionta, and PK.

More of the same in New York on Thursday please. Except for the part about blowing a 4-1 lead.

Random Notes:

Alexei Emelin was a scratch and hopefully he’s back on Thursday.

Final shots on goal. Montreal 28, Rangers 27.

Derek Dorsett’s a weasel. There are several on that team. And we love the idiotic penalties Benoit Pouliot continues to take. Keep it up Benny!

 

 

 

So Close And Now So Far

The Canadiens fall 3-2 in overtime when Martin St. Louis beat Dustin Tokarski, but the Montrealers absolutely made it a game, although it took two and a half periods before it clicked in.

Imagine if the Habs’ non-contributors were contributing? But when a team gets by with just a handful playing well and still takes it into overtime, it says a lot.

The Rangers aren’t that good. We’re playing without half the team.

Too many periods in these 2014 playoffs when the Canadiens have been outplayed. And yet, another game that was so close, that could’ve gone in their favour.

How close? A puck rang off the inside of the post and out again from Alex Galchenyuk with three minutes left in the third that would’ve won it.

The series only a fraction of an inch from being tied, and now it’s a 3-1 lead for New York going back to Montreal. But many good things happened in that third to give us hope, because finally the boys in general came alive and pushed.

Not everyone, but many.

Just so disheartening. Losing in overtime. And seeing guys still not showing up.

One thing’s for sure. This isn’t the same P.K. Subban we saw in the Boston series, although he tied the game in the third on a shot from the point that appeared to deflect off Brendan Gallagher.

But he doesn’t have that swagger, that dangerous flamboyance that causes fans in other buildings to boo him. The MSG folks have had no reason to let him have it.

Maybe at some point we’ll hear why PK has slowed down. Maybe he’s burned out.

Again Thomas Vanek did very little and there’s no sense dwelling on this. He is what he is.

But having said that, if you haven’t yet come close to showing up and you’re in the third round of the playoffs, it’s a serious problem. And Vanek hasn’t shown up. We need him, and that’s why it’s so maddening.

DD showed up. Gally showed up. Francis Bouillon, inserted into the lineup in place of Nathan Beaulieu, tied the game at one in the second period with a nice shot. Weaver sacrificed his body for the team.

Lots of guys showed up, although for many, not until the third. But lots haven’t yet. The clock’s ticking, and if we don’t see all hands on deck on Tuesday, with everyone giving their all, then we know for sure this team has a ways to go yet before we start thinking about the big prize.

There are no passengers on teams that go all the way. That’s not how it works. It takes blood, sweat and more sweat from every guy. The young Edmonton Oilers found that out when they lost to the New York Islanders in 1983 after the Islanders, banged, bruised, and exhausted, had just won their fourth straight title.

The Oilers learned from the Islanders that it takes supreme sacrifice, ridiculous amounts of hard work, and the willingness to do whatever it takes, even if it hurts like hell.

We’re not seeing that from a number of Canadiens. Although there’s still time. Not much though.

All we can do now is hope we see every single guy give his all from here on in. If we don’t see that, then the time definitely isn’t yet here to even think about Lord Stanley.

 

 

 

Tokarski Saves The Day

The Canadiens, with sensational goaltending from DustinTokarski and an overtime goal by Alex Galchenyuk, win game three 3-2 and make the series a series.

Not that they deserved it but whatever.

Yes they were embarrassingly outplayed for much of the evening and outshot 37-25. But when the sports news comes on, the intro will say that the Canadiens are back in it after winning in overtime. Then I can turn the TV off, smile, and carry on.

However, the boys might want to think about playing a tad better than this. If you’re a Habs fan and didn’t see the game, it might have been a good thing, except you would have missed a young goalie stand on his head.

Dustin Tokarski was simply excellent. Surprisingly excellent. He stopped pucks left and right. Mr. Price couldn’t have played better.

And although I feel for Peter Budaj, after seeing the kid hold the fort in such fashion, it’s easier now to understand why the coaches went with him, even though he had no experience.

Toker won the game for Montreal plain and simple. It was him and no one else, even though the puck went by Henny Lunny three times.

Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner but was mediocre, as was Tomas Plekanec, who fed the puck to Galchenyuk for the winner, as was Thomas Vanek, who assisted on Daniel Briere’s goal that gave the Habs a late 2-1 lead, as was P.K. Subban, who gave the puck up at the blueline that led to the Rangers’ opening goal.

They were all mediocre and they weren’t the only ones. And it was weird to see PK so ordinary.

Not their finest moments, but the team won. Surely that has to deflate the other team.

The Canadiens, thanks to Dustin Tokarski, kept the Rangers to two goals, some greasy ones got by the guy with good hair at the other end, and the series is narrowed to 2-1 instead of a nightmarish 3-0.

It could also lead to great things. The Stanley Cup Finals might have crossed the Rangers’ minds ever so slightly, and instead they lose the game and realize now that if they lose game four and the thing is all tied up, life just might really suck.

The Canadiens know they played poorly, how could they not, but realize they have a young goalie doing the job nicely with Price out. He’s given his team a huge boost, and by no means are they out of it.

The chance of being in the Finals is alive and well, all because of the young guy from Saskatchewan donning the pads.

Maybe from all of this we’ll see the Canadiens at their finest again, playing the way we know they can play, which we haven’t seen yet in this series except for a few minutes of game two.

They won this game three by the skin of their teeth. They dodged a bullet. Beautiful, except they were quite lousy while doing so.

Maybe Dustin Tokarski has turned the series around.

Random Notes:

Not everyone was terrible. Max, DD, and Gally played hard.Dale Weise has some moments. Not many but some. Brandon Prust showed passion. Markov was involved.

But two thirds of the team were less than good and it’s disturbing. Are the Rangers that strong that they made many of our guys look like they were stuck in cement? I don’t think so.

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Drop Game 2

It began with such promise. The Canadiens came out flying, they were a team on a mission, a team that looked like they wanted it in a big way.

All four lines were motoring. The DD, Max, Gally combo especially was on fire, and after some great work during that first frame, Max slipped it by Henrik Lundqvist and the building was alive.

Happy days were here again. Strike up the band.

The joy lasted 17 seconds.

A puck off Josh Gorges, the score was tied just like that, and in the last minute of play Rick Nash beat Dustin Tokarski on his glove side, it became a 2-1 contest, and all that flying around and buzzing in the Rangers’ end was sucked down the drain.

The killer came in the second when Alex Galchenyuk was sent to the box for sort of tripping Carl Hagelin, who should have no problem getting a job as stuntman in Hollywood when his playing days are over. And with the man advantage, Martin St. Louis converted a nice passing play and it became a very discouraging 3-1 score for the visitors.

Montreal just couldn’t solve Lundqvist, no matter how well they were playing. And there was a young and inexperienced goaltender down at the other end who would need more than just one feeble goal from his guys to help matters.

That was that. A 3-1 win by New York, the Canadiens are now in a huge hole, and although Dustin Tokarski played well, he didn’t provide miracles, which we were relying on him to do in storybook fashion.

The fact is, although the Canadiens outshot the Rangers 41-30, they also flubbed way too many chances, chances that didn’t hit the net, pucks over the net, pucks shot wide, and of course far too many pucks that Lundqvist saw.

And then there’s Thomas Vanek, who can soon go to Minnesota and live happily after. If they still want him.

This guy isn’t close to what we saw in the regular season. You remember – the guy who revitalized Max and helped create a sensational big line, who made smart pinpoint passes, who hit the back of the net when the opportunity arose.

The guy who was turning out to be our best player. Who helped lead the charge in the final month. The guy we wanted management to shower with money. The one who was going to love Montreal’s hockey atmosphere so much. We had a sliver of hope that he’d stay and become a full-time Hab.

Now, for lack of a better description, he’s become a bum.

He’s making horrible decisions. His passes are well off. He looks lazy and not terribly interested. He’s a guy showing that when things get going, he doesn’t.

As far as the goaltending situation goes, maybe Peter Budaj should’ve played. Maybe Michel Therrien, in one surprising hunch to use Toker, ripped the guts out of Budaj. Maybe Budaj would’ve grabbed that Rick Nash shot and the teams gone to intermission tied 1-1.

It’s all hindsight now. It’s also very depressing.

Next game – Thursday in Manhattan. It’s desperate times.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Mighty Fine Adventure

I said I’d continue later and that’s what I’m doing. Continuing.

I was in downtown Montreal early,  Danno and his clan wouldn’t show up from Ottawa for another couple of hours , so as I like to do, I walked the streets. And soon I heard excited voices on loudspeakers and people cheering.

I’d stumbled upon a Parti Quebecois rally in a park, and so I stopped and joined them.

Take away the signs and the voices explaining to the freezing crowd how great it would be if Quebec separated, the folks all seemed quite normal for being such treasonous, brainwashed enemies of the country.

Then I left because I didn’t belong. I’m a Canadian.

001

Onwards to Ste-Catherine St. where it began to snow, and I stopped for coffee at Nickles. From the window I saw many of the people who were at the rally walking by with their signs. They can only talk about breaking up the country when it’s warmer.

Down Ste. Catherines to another park where a bunch of people were having pillow fights, which was much more normal than being at a Parti Quebecois rally.

Then it was down to meet Danno and his dad and brother, and we went for pizza and then to the game.

And what a tremendous game to be at. Detroit is a skating club, as Montreal certainly can be, and it made for back and forth, clean and skilled action. Emelin thumped, Price was sharp, the DD line brought extra doses of buzz when they jumped over the boards, and the team found themselves with a nice 3-0 lead.

One of my favourites guys, Michael Bournival, opened the scoring in the first, Max would get his 39th of the season in the second, with the third scored shortly after by Brian Gionta.

It was happy times for almost all concerned. Not for Danno’s brother Bob and others, but for most of us.

And it was just after my mentioning out loud that a fourth goal would be nice, along with the fact that it seems that on many nights now Carey Price stands a fine chance of blanking the opposition, that Detroit scored three quick ones and it was tied.

Rarely do you see me as animated as when Gionta would notch his second of the night late in the third and Alex Galchenyuk get the insurance marker. I looked like a separatist in a park trying to break up the country.

It was certainly a terrific night to be at the Bell. The crowd was loud, the game was fast and at times tense, and being with the Danno clan was a joy.

Afterwards it was beer at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel bar, and then I hopped on a bus and made my way home.

Vive Les Canadiens. Vive Canada.

Random Notes:

39 goals for Max. So great. And 40 is such a nice round number.

Wings outshot the Habs 37-26.

Quebecois Olympians at Sochi were introduced before the game, which was beautiful. Someday when I’m an Olympian I hope to be introduced at the Bell too.

Habs prospect Tim Bozon, looking great after his meningitis ordeal, was in the crowd and waved. Great to see.

Next up – Habs travel to Chicago for a date with the Hawks on Wednesday.

Below, Danno’s dad, brother Bob, and Danno enjoying nectar of the gods after pizza.

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Habs Spank Sens

It seems there are no normal games when the Canadiens and Senators play each other.

Friday night  in Kanata saw a wild 7-4 win by the Habs over the sinking Sens after spotting Ottawa an early 3-0 lead.

It had been a dismal beginning for the Canadiens to be sure, shockingly finding themselves in a deep hole in under six minutes of play, but soon enough, pucks started finding their way behind a shaky Craig Anderson.

And when the dust had settled, the Canadiens had scored seven straight goals before Ottawa would notch a late one.

This was the same Craig Anderson who stoned the Habs last year in the playoffs. On this night, the Sens might have had better luck with Pamela Anderson.

The DDs burned it up again, with Max getting three plus two assists. Thomas Vanek had three assists and DD two.

I heard recently that some who study advanced stats have decided that because the DD line isn’t great defensively, they could hurt the team and should be broken up.

Talk about throwing water on a beautiful thing.

Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt weren’t exactly defensive specialists either, but no one was complaining when they were popping 50 or 60 goals a season.

The way this game started, with three goals in under six minutes by Ottawa, it was certainly cause to be concerned. Was it one of those nights for Peter Budaj?

Were the Senators determined to pay back in a big way for being embarrassed at the Bell on March 15th?

Instead, Budaj was great. Tremendously sharp. The DD line would soon catch fire. And it all started when Andrei Markov bounced one in off Anderson from behind the line, near the side of the net.

Then it was off to the races, although the Sens would hit some posts and Budaj had to be sharp as a razor from time to time.

After Markov, the goals just kept coming, almost every second shot went in, and it became Weaver, then Max, Eller, Max, Max and DD, and it’s two big points and the Sens are basically screwed.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Ottawa 43, Montreal 23.

P.K. Subban rode the bench for most the first period after not being harder on checks during a couple of Sens goals. PK would see a very low 13:39 of ice time.

I truly disagree with Michel Therrien’s methods regarding P.K. A Norris trophy winner being treated like a raw rookie.

There were several scuffles throughout, including Galchenyuk and Karlsson, Tinordi and Gryba, and Gally and Neil, with a player scrum developing from it. But all in all, it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been a Canadiens-Nordiques type of affair.

George Parros played while Rene Bourque watched from the press box, and George not only almost had an assist on the night, but was also sent out to cool things down when characters like Zach Smith and Chris Neil were getting overly obnoxious.

Max scored his 36, 37th, and 38 goals of the season and when one looks at the top four goal scorers in the league, it’s Corey Perry with 41, Joe Pavelski with 39, Max with 38, and Sidney Crosby with 36.

How great is that?

Next up – Detroit at the Bell Saturday night. Should be a beauty, but more about that later.