Category Archives: Alexei Emelin

Habs Finish Trip On A Good Note

The Canadiens ended their three games in California with a nice 2-1 win in LA, and this solid road game takes some sting out of the last two efforts in the Golden State, and also ends a four game losing skid.

Five games would have really sucked.

The afternoon didn’t begin all that great, with Pierre Gauthier announcing that Andrei Markov will undergo arthroscopic surgery to clean up his knee, and the word now is another three or four weeks or so. It just goes on and on, like the Ever Ready bunny, the news of Andrei Markov and how his first game back is today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next Christmas, next millennium.

Maybe he’ll never be back.

Montreal gave us a feisty, patient, hard-working, hard-skating effort, didn’t scramble or panic after falling behind 9-1 in shots on goal, had a power play goal scored by Tomas Plekanec on a nice set-up from Andrei Kostitysn, and Kostitsyn, who was named first star on Hockey Night in Canada, made it two-nothing after converting a lovely tic tac toe play with Lars Eller that must have dazzled those Hollywood starlets in the crowd.

They must have cheered, those folks from Malibu and the Hollywood Hills.. And to quote John Lennon, “Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewelry.”

As good as Montreal was on this fine Saturday afternoon, they’re still in the disturbing habit of having to march all too often to the penalty box at inopportune times, such as Mike Cammalleri’s hooking penalty with just over three minutes to go and the Canadiens holding on. The team had six infractions in all, including Erik Cole’s for slashing after his breaking of a King player’s stick, which led to Hobo’s astute observation that you can break a man’s neck and get nothing but if you break a man’s stick you get a penalty.

Random Notes:

After the game, Mike Milbury went on a rant about how disgraceful it was of PK Subban to embellish a hit into the boards. I have this to say about that – I don’t know if it was an embellishment or not, but I do know that with PK’s skating style, he can be put off balance easier than say, some fire hydrant of a player. And if Mike Milbury firmly believes PK was out of line here, that’s fine. Because Mike Milbury’s an idiot.

I was mad at PK once in this game, when he iced the puck with just 40 seconds left. There’s nothing worse than a Habs lead late in the game and the faceoff is in their end. We’ve seen this picture before and it’s not pretty. But they got away with it, and because they did, I forgive our future superstar.

Shots on goal – 27 each.

Carey Price was solid, and Alexei Emelin continues to thump and bruise and look good. He shows how valuable a hard-hitter can be, and I wish we had several like him.

Next game – Tuesday, when a swarm of Blue Jackets invade the Bell Centre. Now that the boys have that precious losing streak win under their belts, I’m expecting some sort of winning streak to commence.

Habs Better At Least, But No Ole in San Jose

Certainly for the Canadiens it was a much better effort in San Jose than it was the previous night in Anaheim, but the scoreboard still showed another loss, their fourth in a row, and California Dreamin’ has quickly become California Bummer.

But they looked better, for what it’s worth. And they gained a point, if it’s any consolation.

I must give full discloser here. I forecasted this. But no way am I to blame. Is a weatherman to blame when he forecasts rain?

In the second period, with the score tied at two, my wife Luci asked me how I thought it would turn out. I answered, because I’m feeling slightly depressed about the team right now, that Erik Cole would score in the third period to put the boys ahead, and late in the game, San Jose would tie it. Then I added, no one would score in overtime and the Sharks would win it in the shootout.

So what happened? Cole scored in the third period to put the boys ahead, San Jose tied it late in the game (with 1:26 left on the clock), no one scored in overtime, and the Sharks won it in the shootout.

My wife is now blaming me for this loss. But it wasn’t rocket science. Cole was as good a bet as any to score for the Habs, and we know one-goal leads aren’t safe with these guys. And Carey Price hasn’t exactly been stellar in shootouts.

So I’m not responsible for this loss. No way. Maybe a little negative, but not responsible.

Random Notes:

David Desharnais had a goal and two assists, plus a goal in the shootout, and played a fine game. And both Cammy and Cole had a goal and an assist.

There were two bone-rattling bodychecks to speak of, one dished out by Alexei Emelin, who is showing he can punish with the best of them, and Erik Cole was on the receiving end of another when he had his head down and bell rung. But to his credit, he got up and carried on.

Shots on goal – Sharks 41, Habs 32

Now it’s back to LA to take on the Kings in what I think is a 3 pm ET game but you might want to double-check that.

Canadiens Pull It Out, Barely

Brian Gionta’s shootout goal gave the Habs a win in Carolina, and regardless of the fact that the team played fairly lousy, we’ll take the two points and get out of Dodge. But this certainly won’t be included in the next DVD box set of Canadiens Memorable Games.

It began with Carey Price allowing a weak wrist shot from the point to fool him, although it’s possible it was slightly re-directed by an Alexei Emelin glove. Even so, he should’ve had it. And it was only 34 seconds into the game for gawd’s sakes,

It’s not the first time Price hasn’t been focused in allowing a goal, and I wish he wouldn’t do that.

Then, with his teammates caught standing around, it was suddenly a 2-0 Carolina lead, and those Storm Squad cheerleaders at the Raleigh RBC Centre wiggled and smiled and looked lovely. They were nice to gawk at, probably even better in person, even though I think cheerleaders at hockey games look a bit silly.

It wasn’t to be, lovely Storm Squad’ers. (Squadron?) Lars Eller put Montreal on the scoreboard with a shorthanded marker in the second period, then Josh Gorges tied it in the third. Carolina managed to go ahead but Travis Moen tied it again, and eventually, to make a long story short, the Habs nailed it in the shootout when Gionta did what Mike Cammalleri and Max Pacioretty didn’t – beat Cam Ward and give the team the two points.

Of course, the Canadiens were lucky to win this game. They didn’t play well, and their power play was laughable. And I mean literally. After seeing them look like the Keystone Kops, tripping and sliding, giving the puck away and almost getting scored on a couple of times, all on one particular power play, I laughed out loud.

It’s cheaper than throwing a brick at my television.

Scott Gomez suffered some sort of injury, but that’s neither here nor there. He wasn’t doing anything anyway, and the team actually started to have some flow late in the game and with him nowhere to be seen.

Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty skated hard and came close on several occasions, and Eller, along with his shorthanded goal, assisted on Moen’s tying goal. So it seems that Eller is moving along nicely again, but in general, it wasn’t a complete team effort. It was often sloppy and head-shaking, and again, this game will not be on any upcoming DVD box sets.

Random Notes:

There were a whack of posts hit on this night, by both teams. And how much is a whack? It’s a boatload. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s a shitload.

Montreal outshot the Canes 34-33.

Next game – a 3 p.m. Eastern start in Philadelphia. Then it’s back home the next night to meet Sidney Crosby and those flightless birds. Gonna be a tough couple of days.

Habs Can’t Solve The Goalie

It was one of those nights that seemed like it was going to be slightly tough beating the enemy goalie. And it was. In fact, Tim Thomas wasn’t beaten even once as the Canadiens fall 1-0 to the visiting Bruins, and that, combined with me laid up sick, made my night a complete exercise in misery.

Montreal went 0-4 on the power play, including a four-minute high-sticking call to ex-Hab Benoit Pouliot, and also including a Bruins penalty with just 1:39 left in the game, which should have opend the door for home team dramatics. But try as they may, Thomas shut the door, and that, with Boston checking furiously throughout, was too much for the Habs who just couldn’t light the lamp.

What a win it could have been for the Habs. They could’ve leapfrogged over Boston into the promised land. But they couldn’t score, even though they outshot the bastards 33-18. The heck with aspirin. Give me some morphine.

Once again, Erik Cole played with vim and vigour, and I’ll say it again, I had no idea this guy can scoot like he can. He can skate as well as anyone in the league down the sides, and reminds me of a younger Teemu Selanne. But even with Cole scooting and others moving the puck around, Boston stuck to their system, stayed with their men, closed gaps, and let Thomas do his thing when called upon.

That’s basically how those Beantowners won the Cup last year. It’s not because it’s a star-studded lineup. It’s because they play a tough-checking game and hope Thomas gets in a zone.

We won a back-to-back series in late October against these guys, so a 1-0 loss tonight, as great as it would have been, shouldn’t be looked at as a total bummer. The Habs played well, had their chances, and a bounce here and there could easily have shown a different result. The Bruins know it, their fans know it, and we know it.

Random Notes:

Alexei Emelin played a hard-hitting, tough game, and is exactly what Montreal needs against teams like Boston. More and more we see that this is a guy who can add another dimension to the team, and I’m hoping he finds himself solidly entrenched in the lineup. He hits hard and he hits clean. And he plays heads-up hockey.

Andrew Ference scored the lone goal of the night, and even though he didn’t give the crowd the finger, he probably wanted to.

Over in Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby, with two goals and two assists, is now tied with Scott Gomez in points.

Next game – Wednesday in Raleigh to say hello to the Hurricanes.



A Blanking Of The Canes

So many good things on a night when the Habs win a convincing 4-0 game over the Carolina Hurricanes. I just need to list them while the giddiness lingers.

Montreal took advantage of a flat and disoriented Carolina team and scored four big ones.

Carey Price notched his first shutout of the season, and Montreal scored a rare power play goal as Yannick Weber fired one home.

Frederic St-Denis, in his very first NHL game, played well and even managed to get himself on the stats sheet, albeit for two penalties. He carried himself well and his family must be very proud.

PK Subban scored his first of the year and came through as a blueline leader, just when we needed him to.

Travis Moen added his sixth of the season, and if he keeps this up, I’m going to start saying I told you so.

And finally, and I want you to take a deep breath – Scott Gomez had an assist. And you know what that means? It means Gomez manages to stay ahead of Carey Price in the points department. Gomez has two points, Price, with an assist on Mike Cammalleri’s goal which opened the scoring, remains one behind Gomez.

What a race. Can Price catch Gomez? Or can Gomez continue this torrid pace and leave Price in the dust?

Yes, Carolina is out-of-sorts presently, but we don’t care. Imagine if this out-of-sorts team had won the game? It could have been as low as Montreal could sink. But instead, the Canadiens were solid, and they were so without backenders Jaraslav Spacek, Hal Gill, Chris Campoli, and of course Andrei Markov.

TSN colour guy Ray Ferraro called PK a veteran, and I suppose on this night he was, even though he was a fresh-faced rookie just a year ago. It was PK and Josh Gorges as the mainstays on defence, with St-Denis and Raphael Diaz, Yannick Weber, and especially Alexei Emelin, who bumped and thumped and definitely adds a nice, new dimension to the Canadiens. Old-time bodychecks. A Russian Bobby Baun. And like Baun, he hurts people in mostly a clean way.

If Jacques Martin sees fit to give this Russian regular minutes on a regular basis, I see an important guy in the lineup. Because there’s nothing like a heavy hitter on a smallish team.

Now it’s off to Long Island for a Thursday night tilt against the Islanders. Such a roller coaster ride we’re on with this Habs team. And such drama with the Price/Gomez points race.

Random notes:

Habs outshot the visitors 36-25.

The boys are a hair from a playoff spot, tied with New Jersey who hold down 8th, but Montreal has played one more game so they sit in 9th. For a few minutes at least, they owned that 8th spot.



Habs Just Not Good Enough Against Oilers

As expected, my computer breathed its final breath last evening at approximately 9:00 pm Pacific. I was by its side when it happened, it didn’t appear to suffer, and I believe it’s going to a better place.

Which is the Toshiba factory in Vancouver so they can fix the freaking thing.

It’s been quite a past few months. I totalled my car hitting a deer, my computer passed away, and the Habs……….

In the meantime, at least for another day or so until until my new computer is up and running, posts are few and far between, just once a day I suppose, and I apologize.

I’m writing this at work, which I’m not supposed to do, so I guess I should hurry.

What did I see in last night’s game? I saw a hot Edmonton goalie, Nikolai Khabibulin, stone the Canadiens all evening. I saw a Habs power play almost as sick as my computer. I saw too much sloppy play by the Canadiens, even though they had some tremendous chances. I saw passes constantly missing their mark, and confusion reigned throughout.

On Edmonton’s part I saw what appears to be a well-coached team, which bottled the Habs up throughout the evening, closing gaps, making Montreal appear disorganized. These young Oilers looked mighty impressive for a team that ended up in the league basement just a year a ago.

It’s a young, speedy, hard-checking lot that wasn’t sloppy like the home team, and I asked myself, why can’t a Jacques Martin team operate like a Tom Renney team?

Edmonton, with Khabibulin shutting the door, just seemed in control even while being outshot by a two to one margin.

Of course, Montreal could have won this game if someone other than Khabibulin was in nets, but that doesn’t mean a thing in the big picture. The Habs would meet hot goaltenders in the playoffs and would be gone in short order. They have to find a way to beat these goalies, hot or not.

They’re also going to have start producing on the power play. This is a team vying for 30th place in a league of 30 teams when it comes to power play futility.

Things need to change. Once again, after a brief moment of joy in Habs Universe, it’s back to misery. Like  I said, I saw a well-coached team last night, but they were wearing white sweaters.

Random Notes:

It’s ironic that after so many sensatioanl saves by Khabibulin, he let a soft backhander by Max Pacioretty fool him.

Boos were loud and clear from the Bell Centre fans on this night.

Habs are in the desert on Thursday – Phoenix, and then move over to Nashville on Saturday. Who know what we’ll see from this Canadiens team on these night?

Spacek Back Tonight

Hockey Inside/Out has reported that Jaroslav Spacek will suit up tonight against the Panthers, while Alexei Emelin will watch from the press box.

It’s great to see another mainstay return to the fold, especially an experienced defenceman, as we all know how Carey Price has been hung out to dry lately, and Spacek provides this invaluable experience plus the all-important character traits the team has been short of, it seems.

I’m sad about Emelin. He came here with expectations of being a thumper and a guy who can pass and shoot with the best of them. But, for whatever reason, not a lot has happened yet with this Russian fellow.

You don’t need to hear how much we need this game tonight. Unless you feel a big loss is the only way to get rid of the coach. So the questions lingers – how many losses before Jacques Martin is handed his walking papers?

Diaz And Emelin Eyes Wide Open

I wonder what Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin think of the growing furor surrounding their new team, with manying itching to tar and feather the coach and the Alaskan, and where, with only six games played, the pressure of being a Montreal Canadien must be like a tightening vice.

They’re members of a team in turmoil, and the natives, including me, are restless.

Diaz, arriving from Zug, Switerland, probably already knew that Habs fans take their team seriously and demand success, but I’ll bet he didn’t think it would be this already, with fans calling for Jacques Martin’s head, and where a 7 million dollar guy has become one of the most unpopular players in years because he doesn’t earn his money. It’s all stuff Diaz has never seen before. Not at this magnitude.

Emelin, coming from the Kontinental Hockey League, already knows what pressure is, but certainly not like this. A facebook page is dedicated to getting his coach fired, media attention vastly outnumbers anything he’s used to, and he’s learning quickly that he and his teammates must give their all, produce, and don’t take stupid penalties that result in losses, or they’ll have to answer to the fans. 

Canadiens fans show a passion that doesn’t exist in the KHL. I’m confident in saying that.

And if the Canadiens aren’t up to scratch on Saturday night when they host the Leafs, these two are going to hear with their own ears a thunderous noise coming from thousands of angry fans, directed not at them, of course, but at the team as a whole. It would all be very interesting and memorable for them. Stuff to tell their grandkids.

We Habs fans are excellent fans. Bruins fans might argue with that, but whatever. We demand a winner, that’s all. It’s in our DNA. We like our guys to play with everything they’ve got. No floaters. If they’re lucky enough to wear the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens, then they’d better wear it proudly, and work as hard as they can to be a winner.

That’s all we’re asking. Play as hard as can be, earn your money, and hurry up with the Stanley Cup.

Welcome to Montreal, Diaz and Emelin.



Habs Notch Five in Winnipeg

It was a fine night for Winnipeg fans as their team played for the first time in fifteen years.

And it was a fine night for Habs fans, who saw their boys score five times in a 5-1 win. .

A win-win for all concerned. You can’t have it all, Winnipeg fans. We needed the two points.

As dramatic as it was to have the Jets play again, I don’t think it could be any more emotional than when the mother of recently-deceased Rick Rypien came out and dropped the ceremonial puck. You could see she was barely holding it together, but she did, and she was strong and dignified.

Even now, as the game is in the books, my eyes are still red.

Mike Cammalleri intercepted a puck in the first period to open the scoring, and not long after suffered some kind of leg injury, maybe a deep cut, and we wait for an official announcement on the length of time he’ll be out. If it’s only two weeks, as has been reported, then I’m fine with it. It’s a long season, and missing five games or so is never good but not the end of the world.

Jaroslav Spacek was also injured, and if this keeps up, we won’t have any defencemen left. But tonight saw Rafael Diaz and Alexei Emelin play quite well, and Emelin getting his feet wet like this can only be a positive. But our defense situation is a growing concern

Tomas Plekanec, with a goal and two assists, was the game’s first star, and his goal was a thing of beauty. He lost the puck, got it back, and buried it. A great display of second effort.

Yannick Weber did what we need him to do – blast away from the point on the power play, and he lit the lamp on one of these occasions.

Travis Moen looked like Guy Lafleur as he made it 4-1 on a breakaway, and Max Pacioretty, with a beautiful shot, ended any suspense there might have been as the scoreboard now read 5-1.

CBC’s Glenn Healy said something about Max-Pac that made me think. He said he’d rather have one Mike Cammalleri than three Max Paciorettys, and after thinking about it for about 30 seconds, I decided I disagree completely. Max brings size, strength, and talent to the team, and his big shot that bulged the twine reinforced my disagreeing. Cammy’s a great player, but Max is equally important with his own set of skills.

Just a great night in Winnipeg, especially for Habs fans. We saw a historic game, and we saw the Habs not only win but score five times. Unfortunately, we also saw two more injuries but I’m staying positive. For today at least, the glass is half full.

Random Notes:

Next game – Thursday, when Calgary is the opposition for the Canadiens home opener at the Bell Centre.

One final mention of the Emelin spelling and pronounciation. After a nice discussion with Luciena, it is indeed spelled Emelin. But it’s pronounced as if it has a “Y” in front of it. That’s the end of that.

I find it heartwarming to think that the deal for Jets fans was that 13,000 season tickets had to be sold for the team to be viable. The 13,000 tickets were sold in 17 minutes. That’s good old Canadian hockey country folks. Situated in the dead-centre of Canada. Freezing cold in the winter, outdoor rinks on frozen lakes and ponds. Frozen noses, toes, and gonads.

Welcome back Jets to Manitoba. And good job Habs.

Saying The Names

Something I feel you need to know, although in the big scheme of things, and to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, “Ilsa, it doesn’t take much to see that the pronounciation of several million Habs fans don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

You, me, Pierre Houde, Bob Cole, and whoever replaces Bob Cole, will spend the next ten years mispronouncing Alexei Emelin’s name. I know we will. Most of us aren’t Russian.

It’s not “Emelin” as it looks. It’s “Ye-MEL-in,” with a huge emphasis on the “Mel.” You have to make the ‘Mel” explode out of your mouth.

And how do I know this? I asked my Russian wife this very question just yesterday. It was “Luciena, how do you pronounce Emelin?”

And while I was at it, I checked with her about our way of saying Markov, and it’s wrong too! It’s “MARK-uv.: Heavy on the “MARK, soft on the “ov” so it sounds like “uv.”u

However, to make you feel better, we are pronouncing White, Gill, Price, Gorges, Gomez, Eller, Subban, Moen, and Cole the way they should be pronounced. And probably Pacioretty, Gionta, and Cammalleri too, but I need to ask someone who’s Italian about this. I’m also willing to bet that Weber is Weber and I’m happy to report that Lucy says we say Kostitsyn absolutely perfect.

As for Plekanec and Spacek and Budaj, it’s unknown territory.

Someone who has never heard of Jacques Martin and reads something about him somewhere might think Martin is pronounced Martin, as in Martin Short. But the majority of these people live in the Ozarks and Toronto..

And finally, when I was a truck driver and making a delivery in the Crownest’s Pass in Alberta, an older fellow and I started talking hockey. I’ve never forgotten this. He said to me, “I always liked that big Gene Bellevue.”