Category Archives: Andrei Markov

Ahoy Captain

It’s big stuff, this talk of the next Habs captain now that Brian Gionta has gone back to his home state.

The fact is, I don’t think anyone right now has what it takes for the role. Kind of sad, but in a few years, it’ll probably all become clear.

Of course, if someone is chosen this year, please forget that you ever saw this.

The names are tossed around. There’s Markov and Subban, and Plekanec and sometimes Max, and for some unknown reason, Brendan Gallagher keeps coming up. I don’t know why. But more about that later.

A captain’s not there just to make the fans happy that there is one. He has to have big time respect and admiration from teammates. They have to look up to him and learn from him. He has to lead by example. That’s why you never saw Howie Young or Sean Avery or Sergei Kostitsyn wear the C on any team.

A Canadiens captain needs to take Rene Bourque aside when Bourque is comatose and give him verbal smelling salts. He needs to tell P.K. to sometimes calm down, or chat now and again with Michel Therrien and politely mention that embarrassing P.K. in public might not be the coolest thing.

A leader of men. Classy, smart, and distinguished. The opposite of me.

The coaches rely on him to talk to teammates and guide and advise. He has to be great with the media and fans. He has to get along in fine fashion with the on-ice officials. Ask the zebras about the wife and kids. Explain politely that Brendan Prust’s fist into someone’s face was a natural reaction caused by the other player saying something uncalled for about the referee’s wife.

It would be great if the players voted on the wearer of the C but chances are it won’t be like that. Which could also lead to the delicate situation of the player being a bit of a brown noser, one of management’s pipelines. That sort of thing is for losers.

Of course that only happens with other teams, not the Habs. This is a team that rises above the nuttiness. There’s never nuttiness in Montreal, you know that.

Andrei Markov leads by example, that’s for sure, and the players, I think, truly respect him. He’s a hard worker, which a captain needs to be, and he’s been around since he paired with Sprague Cleghorn. But when it comes to the microphone or the PR stuff, it’s just doesn’t seem to be in him.

I know a bunch of his fellow countrymen, and most are cut from the same cloth. Reserved and not all great around anything remotely  resembling public attention. Except Lucy’s son Denis in St. Petersburg, who loves to ham it up when the camera’s out. But I think he’s an anomaly.

As much as I admire Markov, he’s not completely captain’s material. At least not in my book. But you might have a different book.

Same with Tomas Plekanec. Not great in front of the camera. Kind of a quiet guy I think. Not one to take a rookie aside and tell him to lay off the booze and broads. Or maybe he does, but surely not the way a Mark Messier or the Rocket would have handled it.

And if you say that’s old time, that this is now, so what? Because leaders are leaders, whether it’s 1914 or 2014.

As much as I like Pleks, and as much as Brad Marchand dislikes him, which is a definite bonus, he, like Markov, doesn’t have the makeup to be a true captain.

P.K. Subban will be a fine captain some day. He leads by example, he struts in public, and he’s fired up to win. He’s perfect in many ways. We don’t want a laid back captain. We just had one. But P.K. still has a bit of goofiness in him, probably what a captain shouldn’t have.

As much as P.K. is liked by his teammates, do they look up to him at this point the way young players in Chicago look up to Jonathan Toews, or in Anaheim to Ryan Getzlaf, or Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh?

Maybe after this season, after P.K. buys a few rounds, wins another Norris, and is voted Most Popular Guy on the Team by his teammates, then it’ll be time to put the C on him. He’s almost there. Just not quite.

The head scratcher for me is why Brendan Gallagher’s name comes up. As great a player he is, with a heart as big as can be, and a guy who would lead by example as a captain should, he’s still a kid. It’s obvious by the one minute interviews we see. He still talks like a kid. He was like a son to Josh Gorges and his wife when Gally rented a room at the Gorges resident.

Of course you could say Sidney Crosby roomed at Mario Lemieux’s house and was a captain at just 19, but these are two different personalities. I’m sure Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was also 19 when given the C, is a man/boy too. There are guys like that. I once had a teammate when I was about 15 who had to shave every day and had this serious man strength. He looked older than the coaches.

Imagine if everyone had his same burning desire as Gallagher. But he’s not captain material because he’s a kid and I don’t understand why it keeps coming up.

Max Pacioretty might make a fine captain, but it seems he gets into areas when he has to re-screw his head back on from time to time. He’s kind of like me in this regard only I probably take longer to recover. It’s not a knock on Max for having his up and down moments. It’s about a captain not having those moments. One who could help Max along when he’s feeling out of sorts.

A captain has to be a big brother. Jean Beliveau was good like this. He knew how to handle all sorts of egos in the dressing room. Max doesn’t seem to have this in his genes, nor does Markov, Plekanec, Gallagher, and P.K., although at least it seems that way to a guy who only watches them on TV and has never been in the room except during the Bell Centre tour.

The captain situation sort of mirrors the team situation. Getting there, but just not quite. I think it’ll be Subban wearing the C in the 2015-16 campaign if he doesn’t screw it up in the meantime by making his teammates want to throttle him.

It’ll interesting to see how this captain thing unfolds. Just wish we had an obvious choice.

 

 

Markov Staying

Andrei Markov sticks around after signing for the identical number he just finished with – 3 years at $5.75 per.

I suppose most figured he’d stay, although it was that pesky three years he wanted when several million Habs fans, and probably management too, felt two years was plenty for the aging d-man.

But it’s neither here nor there now, and if after a couple of years he needs to be bought out, it’s only money, which of course the Montreal Canadiens have plenty of. Their beer cost 11 bucks.

I’m glad he’s staying. He’s smart, makes the fine short pass, and is a big part of the power play. He just gets blown by from time to time by speedy opponents.

But speedy opponents have blown by lots of smart, important veteran defencemen on all teams for the past century or two. It’s what young guys do – blow by old guys. It’s just that when it happens to Markov, we scream blue murder.

Now that the Markov signing is out of the way, we move on to the next thing, which should be P.K. Subban’s brand new doozy of a contract that’ll keep him in Lamborghinis and fancy suits until he’s too old for Lamborghinis and fancy suits.

And after that, it should be the announcing of me being the new stick boy.

Weise Inked

Louis Leblanc is traded to Anaheim for a conditional 5th round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Michel Therrien earns himself a four-year contract extension, and now Dale Weise has a two-year extension in his back pocket.

That’s the easy stuff for Marc Bergevin, and I’m tremendously happy about Weise being rewarded. He’s gritty, tough, and full of character. And unlike the majority of NHLers, he loves the whole idea about being a Montreal Canadien.

He’s like me, only instead of gritty, tough, and full of character, I’m gritty, weak, and full of shit.

For Therrien, what happens if he loses the room or gets into a major blowout with Bergevin early into his four years?

Now it’s getting P.K. to sign on the dotted line and deciding what to do about Andrei Markov, who apparently has his heart set on a three-year deal. After a few more years, Markov will be almost as fast as Hal Gill at his slowest.

And no, now that Shawn Thornton is being set free in Boston, he’s not welcome in Montreal and the idea of him wearing the CH should never be considered. So stop considering it or I’ll spray you with water.

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!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Dear Wife

The title was supposed to be Dear Lucy and not Dear Wife, but I thought people might think it was about Lucic and we can’t have that.

My wife Lucy is in a Russia right now and she’s a huge Habs fan who happens to be missing this dramatic little thing we call the Habs-Bruins series.

She’s missed a lot, don’t you think?

Dear Lucy,

Game six was a beauty. Your favourite player Pleks was great. Your other favourite player Max came through in a big way. Your other favourite player P.K. carries on in his superstar ways. And one of your new favourite players Dale Weise flexed his muscles in front of Milan Lucic, mocking the thug for his actions in game five.

The boys skated and never stopped working, and your favourite player Carey Price, who reminds you of your son Denis, shut the door. And I’m happy to report that your favourite blond-haired player Lars, who you want to mother, has continued to shine.

I also want you to know that your favourite Russians (aside from your sons of course), Andrei and Alexei are crunching bones, giving Carey a hand around the crease, and making sweet passes, just like you knew they would.

You’d be so proud of the whole bunch of them.

The Bruins of course are oily greaseballs as you know, and they don’t represent normal North American humans, as you also know. More like those annoying Ottomans from a few centuries back that your ancestors disagreed with.

You really need to get up at 3 am and watch if you can find a channel showing it. Or have recorded Putin speeches and clips of him playing beer league hockey preempted everything else?

I know you’d be a nervous wreck and maybe it’s a good thing you’re in Russia right now and not watching it. And with you being away, the cat’s eardrums are finally healing after being near you when the Canadiens scored big ones in the Tampa series.

I just wish you were here so you could have seen how well they played in game six, and experience the excellent atmosphere around Montreal right now. It’s like the Bolshevik Revolution, only bigger and more important.

Could you also cook me some lasagna and mail it?

Miss and love you,

Dennis

Good Game, Single Point

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Fine game Wednesday night in Chicago, and although the Canadiens grabbed a point, they could’ve had two. But it slipped away in the dying seconds.

Hawks win 3-2 in overtime.

After two periods of play it was a see-saw battle with no goals and just one penalty, a hooking call to Daniel Briere, but in the third, the puck started to find its way.

Dale Weise, in his first game back after injury, banged one home after a fine rush by Rene Bourque. But the Hawks, who held the edge in play many times on the night, tied it soon after.

Just 22 seconds later, Francis Bouillon blasted one home and it became a Habs lead once again.

And then, the one-goal lead almost a two-goal lead when our almost 40-goal scorer came oh so close..

How great it would’ve been to see Max score his 40th when he was set up fifteen feet out but stopped point blank by Corey Crawford. Great play, great shot, great stop.

It was also the beginning of the end, because after some serious Hawks pressure, the home team would tie it with 48 seconds left in the third, and in overtime, Peter Budaj accidentally backhanded the puck into his own net and that was that.

A point on the road but it could’ve been two. But that’s fine, because the Canadiens played a solid skating game, took just two penalties (the only two of the night), and in my book they continue to impress.

They’ve won 10 of 13 games. I feel I’d be a greedy bastard if I complained.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Chicago 30-28.

Thomas Vanek and DD assisted on Bouillon’s marker, and the big line continues to roll.

Alex Galchenyuk left the game in the first period after taking a hit from Andrew Shaw and now we wait to hear the damage.

Injuries just before playoff time. Imagine how Tampa must have felt when Ben Bishop went down.

Other guys were hurt too, Bouillon and Ryan White in particular, but both would return. Thank goodness Carey Price, Andrei Markov, and Alexei Emelin were left at home where less injuries could happen.

Much safer at home. Maybe tripping on a roller skate or taking a rolling pin to the head from an upset wife.  But no hits into the boards or hard pucks to the ankles.

In a few short hours (sort of), the boys host the Islanders at the Bell. Then game number 82 on Saturday against the Rangers.

Grab that opening round home ice and please, no more injuries.

 

 

You Shoot Because You Do

As mentioned on Hockey Inside Out, both Josh Gorges and Dale Weise might be suiting up for Wednesday’s game in Chicago.

All we need now is Brandon Prust and Travis Moen back, and hope  everyone else is as healthy as a 40-year old Jack LaLanne when the real season begins.

Gorges is a left-handed shot, as are Francis Bouillon, Jarred Tinordi, and Douglas Murray, who’s back from his suspension after one more game. Somebody’s gonna take a rest there.

Dale Weise shoots right-handed, as does Rene Bourque and George Parros. So one of those fellows will also be having some down time.

I did a little Googling and found that the majority of Canadian hockey players, young and old, shoot left-handed, while the majority of Americans shoot right-handed.

It’s odd and there are different theories, none of which I had the time to try and understand when I was reading up on it.

And how do they know that folks young and old shoot more left or right? Because since curved sticks became the norm in the 1960s, American hockey manufactures say they’ve been shipping way more lefts than rights to Canada ever since.

It’s sort of the same with golf only different. Seven percent of Canadian golfers swing left, which is apparently the highest percentage of any nation. And the reason they give is because Canadians pick up hockey sticks at an early age and it’s therefore imprinted when it comes time to pick up a golf club.

European players are mostly left-handed shots too, and one site gives the example of the great Soviet teams of the 1980s, some of which never had even one righty on the roster.

I shoot right, write left, my fork is in my left, and I put my right shoe on first if you’re interested.

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.

 

 

 

Toppled In Tampa Bay

Not great this one. Blatant giveaways, a rash of penalties, a Lightning shorthanded goal.

3-1 Tampa Bay, ending the Canadiens five game winning streak. A solid game by them and far from solid from the visitors.

Except for one guy, Carey Price, who was unreal all night, diving and sprawling and throwing his glove and pads out and taking sure goals from the likes of Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell and a host of others.

Price kept it close and made it deceiving. The Canadiens were out of sorts and the score could’ve been embarrassing. So maybe we should close the book on this one and throw it in the fireplace.

More than anything it was the parade to the penalty box, with some deserved and some not, which is what you get when Chris Lee is working and the Habs are involved.

Lee’s dad is or must’ve been a hardcore Bruins or Leafs fan. Can there be any other explanation?

And those giveaways. Every period we saw loosey goosey puck handling that ended up with Price coming to the rescue. Except the time when David Deshanais gave the puck away on a power play, which ultimately was the winning goal for the Bolts.

Now we’re faced with a suspension, compliments of Douglas Murray landing a vicious elbow into the face of Michael Kostka, which brought the stretcher out but thankfully wasn’t needed.

Just one of those games where the Canadiens were often outplayed, they shot themselves in the foot a bunch of times, and the one saving grace from this is that the Lightning are probably slightly spooked by Price and he’ll be in their heads come playoff time.

The Habs are now officially in the playoffs, thanks to Washington and New Jersey losing, but it was only a matter of time anyway so no need to shout or sing ole.

Random Notes:

Habs lone goal was scored by Brendan Gallagher, his 19th of the season. Sure wish he would’ve slipped the puck over to Galchenyuk on that two-on-one late in the game though.

Tampa outshot the Canadiens 33-26, but it didn’t seem like a 33-26 game to me. Ben Bishop could’ve read The Hockey News for long stretches when his team was peppering Price.

Andrei Markov was hurt in the third and went to the room.

Next up – Friday in Ottawa to meet a team that still has a faint chance of making the postseason. So they’ll be hungry and the gang can’t let up because home ice advantage against the Lightning is still in question.