Category Archives: Anaheim Ducks

Habs Add A Defenceman

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Montreal signed Marc-Andre Bergeron today to help shore up the hurting blueline.

This is a guy with a wicked shot, is a good, rushing defenceman, but has in the past been dealt a few times for lower draft picks. He was also unsigned after having a good year in Minnesota last season. What does all this mean?

He’s also not big but we’re used to that.

More on Mr. Bergeron right here.

And here.

Hoping For A Warm And Fuzzy Habs Dressing Room

Saku Koivu had this to say recently about the difference in closeness between his new team, the Anaheim Ducks, and his old. “It’s more of a tighter feeling than in Montreal.”

And that says a lot. Because if it’s true, that the Canadiens weren’t a close group, then no wonder they lost big and looked dismal while doing it. You can’t win if you’re not a family, even a disfunctional family. The Edmonton Oilers, thanks to the documentary “The Boys on the Bus”, along with testimonials from Gretzky, Messier, Fuhr et al over the years, have described and shown us what a hockey family is. The Habs of the 1950’s were a close group, except for Jacques Plante maybe, but he was a goalie, and goalies can be whatever they want. Ken Dryden told us in “The Game” what a tight group the 1970’s Canadiens were. The Toronto Maple Leafs, the second-most successful franchise of the 1960’s, became a family and banded together because of one common denominator – their distaste of coach and drill sargeant Punch Imlach. Detroit bonded, possibly because of the tragic car accident involving Vlad Konstantinov, and have shown many times to be a close group. Now Pittsburgh, maybe with the help of Mario Lemieux’s mansion/party house, seems the same.

But the Canadiens weren’t?

Were the rumours of a divided dressing room true? Did players go their own way socially, or in small groups only, like we’ve heard? Was there friction in the room, including those who felt Koivu was a taskmaster as captain? Were the Kostitsyn’s moody? Did Kovalev upset players with his inconsistant play and puck-hogging, and what was the true relationship between him and Koivu? Did players roll their eyes when they saw how Georges Laraque was told to go out and stage fights? Did the players drive coach Guy Carbonneau out? Did owner George Gillett stick his nose in places he shouldn’t, and too often? And is the real reason players from other teams have no desire to play for the Habs because attitudes and chemistry are all out of whack?

When Guy Carbonneau was fired, he said that someday the truth would come out. What is the truth? Is it related to a divided room, with some players poisoning the air? And has the team been blown up and rebuilt because of the problems among players that may have been the biggest contibutor to their dismal performance?

We’ll hear soon enough about this group, because no team, probably in any sport, is scrutinized, categorized and analyzed the way the Canadiens are. Bob Gainey knows what harmony in the dressing is. I’m thinking he’s gone out and tried to find it.

Hopefully he has.

Guest Writer Phil Reports From China

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Phil Wu is a Chinese fellow who grew up in Montreal but now lives in that hockey hotbed, China. That’s nice, but the problem with that is that Phil won’t be able to see his treasured Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre anymore.  I know the feeling. But I only live three thousand miles away. Phil lives about three million.

Phil reads this blog and comments often, and he has a real love and understanding of the Habs, and offers good insight about the team. And when I suggested he start up a team in China with red, white and blue uniforms, he said the players he’d recruit would only say “What’s a slapshot? Ice? What?”

I also said to Phil, why don’t you write something and I’ll post it on my site, and lo and behold, he’s done just that. So here’s Phil, reporting from China:

Habs in China?!

Hey, my name’s Phil and I lived in Montreal my whole life, but I recently moved to China for personal reasons. This is my post about international hockey play; or more specifically, the Montreal Canadiens and China.

In 2007, The NHL organized a game outside of North America: The LA Kings vs the Anaheim Ducks, in England.
So I was wondering what it would be like if the the 2009-2010 Montreal Canadiens would play in China, against a Chinese hockey team. But I suppose realistically this would never happen since the travel and time difference is too much trouble for the organizations and players.

The reason why I mention a Chinese hockey team is because the people here in China are much shorter than the people in North America. Which means faster players.

This would be a great sample for the 2009-2010 season on the Canadiens part since our beloved Habs are a much smaller team compared to their counterparts in the league, with the acquisitions of Mike Cammalleri, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, and we’ll have the smallest top line in the NHL. 

If the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge play against a undersized Chinese team, it will give us an idea of how the Habs will excel in the next season. It will tell us if size isn’t is as important as speed, and vice versa.

Koivu And Kovalev Together Again. In A Box

I was in Wal-Mart in Courtenay the other day and while waiting for a prescription, decided to stroll around because Wal-Mart is a good people-watching place and an excellent store to witness nagging wives berate their poor, broken husbands about how they need more good towels because he wrecked the last ones checking the oil in their 1983 shitbox.

So I was in the toy aisle, and like some kind of simple twist of fate, there on the shelf were the McFarlane hockey figurines, which consisted of Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev together in one box. I didn’t buy it because (1) it was 35 bucks, and (2) these guys play for the enemy now.0787926752946-g

Travis Moen Adds Size And Grit

 moen2Travis Moen is the newest Canadien, bringing his six foot, two inch, 215 pound frame to the left wing, thereby making Montreal even better, and tougher. Moen was in San Jose, so he and Saku, who is on his way to Anaheim, may pass each other somewhere around Des Moines.

More and more, the team is shaping up, and more and more, I like what I see.

Here’s the CBC report:

Canadiens sign Moen to 3-year deal

Moen started last season in Anaheim, but was traded to San Jose where he had three goals and two assists in 19 games.

He had four goals, seven assists and 77 penalty minutes with the Ducks.

“Travis Moen is a character player,” Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey said in a statement. “He is versatile, and he plays hard. His size and style will contribute to adding physicality to our team.”

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound left wing blocked 78 shots and had 171 hits in 82 games last season.

In five NHL seasons, the 27-year-old has 56 points (29 goals, 27 assists) and 487 penalty minutes with the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim and San Jose.

Dusting Off The Crystal Ball. Let The Games Begin.

The Hockey Barn asked me to write down my predictions for the opening round of the playoffs, and although predictions are for gypsies, as Toe Blake used to say, I’m giving it a shot.

Anything can happen come playoff time. Every team is just one small injury or one bouncing puck away from sinking like the Titanic. Surprises are the order of the day. Overwhelming favourites stink the joint out. Journeymen rise, at least for a few weeks, to stardom. Cheers and tears abound. Pencils are sharpened for playoff pools.

And in the end, after it’s all been sorted out, the team with the will, talent, luck, endurance, and great goaltending emerges from the pack and hoists the Stanley Cup while champagne is poured over interviewers’ heads, and there’s wild celebration and dancing in the street. It’s a beautiful thing. Trust me, non-hockey fans.

In the east, Montreal and Boston will lock horns for the 32nd time. Washington will play the Rangers. New Jersey meets Carolina, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia fight it out.

Who will emerge?

This is the playoffs, not the regular season, so throw out the window Boston’s marvelous regular season record where they ended up first over-all. It wouldn’t be the first time the first place team fell to the eighth place squad. Montreal’s the solid underdog, no one with any sense at all gives them a chance. And for that reason alone, I’m picking Montreal in seven.

Washington’s too good, I think, for New York, with the great Alex Ovechkin to cause fits. But also add star defenceman Mike Green to the mix and it proves too much for the Rangers, who have the dubious honour of having Sean Avery on the team. So, who would you pick, a team with Ovechkin and Green, or a team with Avery? Washington in six. I’d say five but New York has one thing going for them, a solid goaltender named Henrik Lundqvist. And we know what goaltending can do in the playoffs.

New Jersey ended high in the eastern standings, but Carolina came on strong late in the year. This is a close one to pick, but I’m saying New Jersey in seven, only because they have a winner in goal named Martin Brodeur. Although he’s old. But so were Terry Sawchuk and Johnny Bower in 1967.

In the Battle of Pennsylvania, Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin and company should outlast the Flyers. I’ve got a personal Habs-related grudge against the Flyers, and the Kate Smith magic vanished years ago. Penguins in six.

In the west, first place  San Jose takes on Anaheim, Detroit meets Columbus, Vancouver and St. Louis will battle, as will Chicago and Calgary.

San Jose should have no problem whatsoever with Anaheim. I think it’s going to be short and sweet. Sharks in five. Of course, I may be way out in left field about this one, but I’m sticking with short and sweet.

Same for Detroit over Columbus. Detroit, the defending champions, just have too much artillery, and although Columbus played well this year, they should prove no match for the Wings. Detroit in six.

You never know what you’re going to get from Vancouver. How many times can they disappoint their fans in the playoffs? They have possibly the best goaltender in the league, a good, solid defence, and some great forwards like Ryan Kessler and Alex Burrows. (Should I mention Mats Sundin, who scored nine goals in 41 games?) So, with Luongo and the Sedins and Burrows etc, my prediction is – St. Louis in seven.

I really want Calgary to beat Chicago, but I don’t think it’ll happen. The Flames are not going into the playoffs in playoff form, they’re injured, and Chicago has had Calgary’s number this year. Although it would be fun to see, there should be no upset here. Chicago in six. Sorry Calgary. I hope I’m wrong.

Ducks Quack Halak And The Habs

At least Ottawa lost, so that’s good.  But then again, Toronto won. So that cancels out the good part.

 

Oh, and there was a game at the Bell Centre.

 

Chalk that one up to one of those nights, forget about it, and move on. Because nights like this, a lousy 6-4 loss to the Ducks, are gonna happen. It’s a long season.

 

We just don’t want it to happen too often. Almost never, as a matter of fact.

 

We could say the five-day layoff made the team rusty, and that might be true.

 

Or we could say that Jaroslav Halak stunk, and that might be true too.

 

And we could say the Habs just didn’t have it on this night, although they fired 51 shots at J.S. Giguere.

 

The fact is, the Canadiens played their poorest of their seven games so far this season (although opening night in Buffalo was pretty bad too), and the Ducks, just like I was worried about, have used this little eastern road trip to snap out of their doldrums, having also beaten Toronto and Ottawa on previous nights.

 

Watching Halak reminded me of so many nights from recent years, when you never knew what kind of goaltending you were going to see, and far too often, weak goals were scored on the good guys. It was discouraging for the skaters, and nerve wracking for fans whenever the puck made its way inside the blueline. But that changed, for the most part, with the arrival of Carey Price.

 

Halak didn’t have it, allowing four goals in a period and a half, and was replaced by Price, who’s been fighting the flu all week. Price wasn’t tested a whole lot and gave up two goals, which is a whole lot better than giving up four goals.

 

You have to wonder what the outcome would have been if Price had started. 

 

On the positive side, Alex Tanguay notched a couple more to make it five in seven games, and Saku Koivu and Tom Kostopoulos also bulged the twine.

 

That’s it for positives.

 

Next Up:

 

The Carolina Hurricanes are in town on Tuesday. The game may be televised back in Raleigh as long as there’s no car racing and high school basketball going on.

 

 

Bob Gainey’s Really Weird Idea. And Brian Burke Is Probably Very Nice At Home.

Bob Gainey, at the GM’s meetings, proposed a change in the game that can be looked at as either brilliantly innovative, or completely laughable. Either way, it’s interesting.

 

Gainey’s idea is to make it illegal for a player to slide across the ice to block a shot, therefore creating more offence, more shots on goal. He wants to do away with exactly what he and Guy Carbonneau did on a nightly basis when they both played.

 

Players would have more teeth if this was implemented. There’d be less bruises, less chance of getting killed. I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.

 

Goalies would hate it. More blasts from the blueline getting through.

 

Players with less guts than players like Gainey and Carbonneau would love it because then they wouldn’t have to look silly by not diving in front of a Sheldon Souray shot. They could say to the coach, “I would’ve slid and blocked it but it’s against the rules so I couldn’t.”               

 

Don Cherry would hate it, because not doing this hard-core type of thing isn’t lunch-pail hockey.

 

Fans might like it because of the added offence. Fans might not like it because a good fan likes to see the brave and unselfish task of blocking a shot in the face for the good of the team.

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

 

It’s never good when a fairly good team starts slow out of the gate because eventually they’ll break out of it and there’s always that chance they’ll break out of it against your team.

 

You have to figure that the Anaheim Ducks, with players like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, will figure things out eventually. Right now, before their game with Ottawa Friday night, the Ducks’ record stands at two wins and five losses, which is quite mediocre to say the least.

 

The Ducks certainly have one thing going against them – the incredibly stupid name, ” Ducks,” which is only slightly less stupid than “Mighty Ducks.”

 

And Brian Burke is probably an excellent front office-type, except he always looks like his boxer shorts have too much starch in them. And his “I’m smarter than you” attitude, his childish fights with Kevin Lowe, and his distaste of reporters’ questions makes you think he’d rather be doing something more important, like running the world.

 

I was told once by an ex-sports editor of the Calgary Sun that Burke and former league executive Brian O’Neill were the two most miserable characters he ever had to deal with in the NHL.

 

Habs and Ducks Saturday night.

 

Go Habs.

 

May the Ducks lose like they’ve never lost before.

 

 

 

 

Gary Bettman Wets The Bed, And Other Hockey Thoughts

Hockey items you could discuss with your friends after five or six beer:

 

The Philadelphia Flyers have sent Steve Downey down to their AHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Players around the NHL now stand a much better chance of not having their skulls cracked. AHL players, however, are putting extra padding in their helmets and have told their wives to remarry if anything happens to them.

Steve Downey is Sean Avery on crystal meth.

 

Gary Bettman says everything’s rosy in the the league and so talk of a team in Canada is silly, especially the part about having two franchises in the Toronto area. Bettman may or may not have said this as he overlooked the three franchises around New York from his office window.

 

This is a guy who probably even makes French-Canadian oldtimers long for Clarence Campbell.

And why are teams like Atlanta, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix etc. so important to the little man, and placing a team in Canada isn’t?

There has to be a reason. I just don’t know what the reason is. Is he getting fat little Christmas bonuses from people?

Was the bully who picked on Bettman in school a transplanted Canadian?

 

Rumours contimue about Wild star Marian Gaborik being traded to Montreal. I’m assuming Gary Bettman is against this because if it makes the Habs even stronger and even more of a Cup contender, the Stanley Cup could end up in the dreaded backwaters of Canada, one of the commissioner’s worst nightmares.

 

And one of my worst nightmares is a major trade involving the Canadiens which disrupts the harmony and chemistry they’ve got going now.  If they landed Gaborik for future draft picks only, then great. But they’d need to clear out some salaries to make room for him, which means moving some existing players.

Is this a good idea?

 

Did the Boomer-Pocket commercial make you smile?

 

Bobby Clarke says Sean Avery is an idiot and someone should punch him out. Of course, when Clarke played, he was an angelic, gentlemanly fellow whom the whole hockey world loved. But aside from that, I completely agree with him.

 

This five-game break in the schedule for the Canadiens may or may not suck. Players can nurse their wounds and certain things can be worked out in practices, but geez, they’ve been on such a roll. And don’t forget about the poor wives who have to put up with them for this long. This isn’t normal for the little ladies.

Hope all this doesn’t affect the big game against Anaheim Saturday night.

 

Is it possible Gary Bettman told the schedule planners to give good Canadian teams big long days off to disrupt their play?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Take Out The Panthers. Jaroslav Halak And RDS Do The Job

Buying one of those PVR digital boxes (the thing that allows you to pause live TV, among other things) for my TV and subscribing to RDS French network for three bucks a month was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

 

Because now I may never miss another Habs game.

 

And Monday night, If I didn’t have RDS, I wouldn’t have seen:

 

The Canadiens notch their fifth straight win with a 3-1 squeaker over the pesky Florida Panthers.

 

Francis Bouillon playing in his first game after coming back from a leg injury and

scoring the winner in the third period. I would’ve missed this if I didn’t have RDS.

 

Other things I would’ve missed if I didn’t have RDS.

 

Tomas Plekanec finally getting his first goal, albeit into an empty net. Plekanec has started the season a little on the slow side, and this in turn affects linemate Alex Kovalev. Maybe this empty netter will get him going.

 

Montreal’s other goalie, Jaroslav Halak, stoning the Panthers for his second win in his second game of this young season. Having two excellent goalies is a real bonus, and with him in nets, Carey Price can be rested and we’ll still feel confident.

 Montreal has depth all over the place. It makes me proud. 

 

The RDS viewer’s poll asking the question – what do you prefer – The Canadiens red sweaters, or their white?

77% liked the red sweaters, 23% chose the white. 

 

I personally have a soft spot for the white sweaters because when I was a kid, it seemed like it was very difficult to find them in stores or catalogues. They were always red. I remember finally getting one, and I really loved it because it was kind of unusual at the time.

 

Montreal’s Les Cage aux Sports restaurants’ TV ad on RDS offering 8 free wings if the Habs score five goals or more in any game. But I already knew this because the lovely lady at http://thenotwithstandingclause.blogspot.com/ who calls herself No. 31 and is a great Habs fan, told me so last week.

 

All this because I have RDS.

 

GAME NOTES:

 

Montreal now has some well-deserved time off before Saturday when the Anaheim Ducks are in town. That should be a good test for the boys. Maybe Chris Higgins will be ready then.

And hopefully, Andrei Kostitsyn suffers no lingering effects from his concussion.

 

The following Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricane are in town to end the Habs five-game home stand. No 31 says Carolina should move back to Hartford and I agree.

 

Georges Laraque didn’t play because his groin injury was bothering him again. Hopefully his knuckles are fine.