Category Archives: Andrei Markov

Whomped In Winnipeg

Winnipeg

I’m sure hoping Dustin Tokarski’s family didn’t make the trek from neighboring Saskatchewan to see the young fellow guard the twine on Thursday night.

Because it just wasn’t Toker’s night as he and the Canadiens got kicked 5-2 by the Jets, with several of the five goals stoppable by our prairie boy backup.

4-1 after two periods. With the Canadiens outshooting Winnipeg 31-13. Over three frames, shots were 41-22 for the visitors. It should’ve been a fine win.

But Ondrej Pavelec shut the door at his end and Toker didn’t at his.

But forget about our goalie. Just one goal on 31 shots by the guys up front? Only two on 41? And of course once again the slightly less than magnificent power play blew the proverbial tire and went 0/4,

Another game, another fizzing out with the man-advantage. Sitting 26th overall on the feeble chart. It’s been going on all season and still hasn’t been sorted out. We’re not asking for much, not expecting the number one power play. How about a heady 17th or 18th or 20th?

Thursday’s loss shouldn’t completely rest on Toker’s shoulders, although it’s easy to do because Carey Price has spoiled us. This lack of offense, especially with the man advantage, is just plain ridiculous,  and as tiresome as hearing Don Cherry talk about how smart he is.

Canadiens got goals from Andrei Markov, who sent a wrist shot through a crowd and narrowed things to 2-1. And a close-in blast from Gally in the third made it a 4-2 game.

But soon after, the Jets scored another, and the Winnipeg crowd got their digs in by singing Ole Ole.

Next up – Saturday in Montreal when the Florida Panthers pay a visit.

A lousy night for the Habs, Toker or no Toker. Outscored and outmuscled, and if the Canadiens continue this gruesome lack of finish, even with Price in nets it’ll be tough sledding in the upcoming post season.

This offense doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of the opposition. Only into the hearts of Habs fans.

 

 

Canadiens Better Against Islanders

They still had to rely on Carey Price to come up big, but the Canadiens on Long Island would get the job done, winning 3-1 and looking better than they have in their other six games in March, and keeping me from putting %$#&* in the title.

Yes there were a few bad penalties taken by the boys, including a hot-headed Dale Weise boarding call that could’ve been smarter, and an Andrei Markov tripping penalty with just 4:11 left in the game and his team up-2-0, and which lead to an Islanders’ power play goal to make things tense for all concerned.

Not to mention that the Isles goal was scored after Max had sent an absolutely soft and ill-advised puck to the enemy in the slot.

But a Lars Eller empty-netter sealed it and the Canadiens, at least until Monday, stop the acid rain that has been coming down for about two weeks now, beginning in sunny California.

The win puts the Canadiens two big points ahead of the Lightning, who lost 2-1 to Winnipeg on Saturday, but most importantly, they looked like they’d finally slept off their stupor, shook out the cobwebs, and picked it up a notch.

That and Carey Price.

Montreal opened the scoring early in the second period on a Galchenyuk to Parenteau to Galchenyuk to Plekanec bang, bang, banger, and later, Max would fire one home with his team shorthanded, after Isles goaltender Michael Neuvirth left the puck behind his net, only to have it grabbed by Lars Eller who sent it out to Max.

It was also in this second frame that Carey Price swooped his glove behind him to rob Matt Martin, which you can see here at the bottom, and which is what plenty of folks will be talking about for the next day or two.

A fine effort in general by the visiting Canadiens, although they were outshot 36-30 and were saved by Price a bit more than should be expected.

They also went 0-4 on the power play but that’s not really news. They go 0-4 every game.

Next up – another important beauty as the Canadiens head to Tampa Bay for a Monday night meeting with Bolts. Time to shake these guys once and for all. They’re like leeches on the skin after swimming in local swamp.

Shoutout to both Lars Eller and P.A. Parenteau for contributing in a big way.

Canadiens Wear Out Jackets

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For a team that has had trouble scoring a lot of goals, 10 in the last two games is a beautiful thing.

The Canadiens, like they did on Tuesday in St. Louis, win another 5-2 game, and their two-game road trip comes to a successful close with the gang playing solid if not spectacular hockey. For example, their power play continues to fire blanks and….well….continues to suck.

Now it’s a rumble with the Leafs on Saturday at the Bell to close out February. The March schedule is a bit of a bitch but that’s for another time.

P.K. Subban opened the scoring just 1:49 into the game with a big blast after Manny Malhotra won the faceoff cleanly and got it back to our man. One slightly disturbing thing to note – Manny doesn’t seem to be winning just about every faceoff like he did up until recently. If he’s not doing that, should he be in the lineup?

And without mentioning Columbus goals because it’s not important, the scoring continued with a Markov shot from the top of the circle, Max would notch his 30th, and in the third frame, Jacob De La Rose bagged his first NHL goal and then added another with the net empty.

P.K. would collect a couple of assists to go with his goal, and his 47 points is good for second best behind Max’s 53.  Max needs 10 more goals in 21 games to hit 40. Can he do it?

Devante Smith-Pelly had a couple of decent shots on goal, and although he didn’t overwhelm, he’s probably still in a bit of a stunned mode considering he was an Anaheim Duck just a few days ago and has had just one practice with his new team. I was hoping we’d see more physical play from him, but I’m a patient man.

Smith-Pelly worked the right side, usually with De La Rose and Brandon Prust, but at times things were juggled around because he has a coach named Michel Therrien, and he also saw a small amount of time on the power play.

The new guy wore number 21, and I don’t know if you’ll find this interesting or not, but Toe Blake, in his first season with the Canadiens in 1935-36 after coming over from the Maroons, wore number 21. But from 1937 until the end of his career in 1948, number 6 was Toe’s.

One question lingered as I watched the game unfold. How did that whole row of fans wearing Habs jerseys get tickets right behind the Canadiens bench?

Random Notes:

Shots on goal were 27 apiece.

The photo at the top is one of my vintage popcorn boxes. Here’s some more. Very proud of my mint boxes, which date back to the early and mid-20th century.

Just what you wanted to see on a hockey blog, right?

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An Excellent Price (Again)

sick cat

A little late getting this done. I’ve been preoccupied with my little cat who’s in the hospital with a mystery illness that has left her weak and unable to walk. No one can figure it out and it’s heartbreaking. She may or may not pull through.

I suppose it should be old hat now to see Carey Price stop lots of pucks. But for me anyway, it’s always cool, including last night when the big guy came up huge as the Canadiens posted a fine 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings, even though they were outshot 46-20.

Naysayers will say a team can’t always rely on the goaltender to win, but I think it’s fine, as long as other guys do the job too, and aside from Price’s heroics, some big moments were in store for us.

Jiri Sekac scored twice and showed again that he’s here to stay. Sven Andrighetto lit the lamp, his second in three games, and might be here to stay. David Desharnais scored an even-strength goal, which lately has been rarer than a Florida Panthers home rink sellout. PK notched a goal and assist, and with his three points sees him tied with Plekanec and Max for tops on the team with 22 points.

And last but not least, the power play came to life and was 2/3 on goals by Sekac and Markov, which makes me think that Jean had that chat with Toe.

So although Kings goaltender Martin Jones was no Carey Price (or Jonathan Quick), I’m chalking this up to a fine, all-round Habs win. Lots of contributors. Lots of guys not named here who also had fine evenings.

Now it’s time for breakfast and soon back to the animal hospital.

 

Sweet Mother’s Night Win

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A 2-0 blanking of the Boston Bruins by the Canadiens with Habs moms whoopin’ and hollerin’ from their seats at Boston’s TD Garden.

How sweet it was. And how the Bruins and their fans must already dread the thought of meeting the Canadiens in the postseason.

Montreal just keeps on beating the Bs (6-4 in October, 5-1 and 2-0 in November), and they’re ready to drop the gloves, as Dale Weise did with Gregory Campbell and I guess Alex Galchenyuk with Torey Krug, although I somehow missed Chucky’s battle in the ring.

They also show they couldn’t care less about the increasingly less-problematic Milan Lucic.

Last night, while sitting with my brother in an Ottawa public place watching the game with the sound down, I remarked that the Canadiens at one point were showing great things on the power play when they had the Bruins completely at their mercy and hemmed in for what seemed an extraordinary stretch.

Then I realized it wasn’t a power play. Montreal was simply dominant for more than two minutes on a five on five situation. Men against boys. It almost didn’t seem fair. Bruins prez Cam Neely had a serious look of concern from his high above perch.

It was going to be a formidable task. Four tough games in short order against the Penguins, Blues, Bruins, and Rangers. But after dropping a 4-0 decision to Pittsburgh, the boys have taken out the Blues and Bruins in fine fashion and the possibility is there that they can emerge with three wins from those four somewhat worrisome contests.

Tops in the league overall with three points more than Tampa Bay. (Boston sits in eleventh place), and looking more and more like a confident bunch who know they can win on any given night and so far haven’t been all that far off from doing so (5 regular season losses and 1 in overtime).

It’s still early, but Habs fans have every right to feel excited as hell about what’s transpiring. I know I am.

Tonight, Madison Square Garden. C’mon boys, give your moms another great night.

 

Like A Rolling Streak

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The Canadiens would score the game’s first three goals, which is more than unusual, and all three would be power play goals, which is even more unusual. To say the least.

And even thought the Philadelphia Flyers clawed back and made a game of it, the hometown gang ended up doubling the score and skated away with a big 6-3 win to extend their streak to five games.

Love those streaks. And of course we want more. We want six straight, and then seven, and then eight and maybe squeeze out nine or twelve because we’re a greedy bastards.

Greed. One of the seven deadly sins. Only acceptable when we’re talking about Montreal winning streaks. And way better than the other six deadly sins sloth, gluttony, embellishing, gooning, whining, and sucking, like Boston and Toronto.

Two power play goals in the first from Parenteau and DD, and then one from PK in the second, and hopefully now the man advantage woes have been sorted out and they’re off to the races.

A good power play can make a good team a great team if things are going well in most other areas. It’s what’s been missing in Montreal, and judging from this game and the previous Boston tilt, it’s coming around.

The Flyers would narrow it to 3-1 and then 3-2 with just 1:14 left in the second, and after Parenteau had given the boys a two-goal margin when he deflected a Sergei Gonchar shot from the point, the Flyers once again made things dicey when the puck sat within a crease scrum for what seemed like way too long, although the referee could see it the entire time.

It eventually scooted out and was driven home, and it was a 4-3 game and the Flyers had momentum. But Dale Weise, first with a five-hole shot that Ray Emery should’ve had, and then another when the puck bounced in off our man Lafleur Weise, and any thoughts the Flyers had of mounting a final comeback were laid to rest.

This by the guy who just last game had a Gordie Howe hat trick and a Rocket Richard home run, and tonight dropped a fine deuce.

Next it’s a relatively short jaunt on Sunday to Detroit to try and keep the streak going on. They can do it. They’ve got Dale Weise. And Carey Price.

Random Notes:

Philly outshot Montreal 29-28.

Habs point-getters included Plekanec, Gonchar, Max, and Markov with two assists each, Gachenyuk with three assists, Parenteau and Weise with two goals each, DD with a goal and an assist, and PK with a goal.

Brandon Prust  found himself in a decent scrap with Zac Rinaldo. I find it impressive that Rinaldo can make the switch from soccer to hockey like that. Don’t you?

A bit of a quiet night for two guys who’ve been burning it up lately, Eller and Sekac. And that’s fine. Others picked up the slack.

To think it was only six games ago, when Chicago pounded the Canadiens 5-0, that many of us were quite pissed at these guys.

The ole song was being sung in the second period. Hate that song.

 

 

Canadiens Stomp Bruins

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Imagine that. The Bruins thumped 6-1 in Toronto and 24 hours later smoked 5-1 by the Canadiens.

Take that, Bruins fans.

The Canadiens looked just fine on this night, a solid three periods led by the guy whose name was mentioned beforehand not for what he might accomplish, but for what Milan Lucic might accomplish.

Dale Weise was a ball of fire, a guy who came to play, and with his fight in the first period with Gregory Campbell, then seeing him tie the score in the second on a penalty shot and setting up Max later on, it all added up to a sensational Gordie Howe hat trick.

But I’ll take it one step further, because after all that, he later on crashed the Bruins net in serious fashion, so I’m gonna call it a Rocket Richard home run.

Very impressive, those crazy Habs, even though, as sure as Bob Dylan won’t be singing opera and not one winning number will be on my lottery ticket, the Canadiens wouldn’t hit the back of the net in the first period and once again fell behind.

They didn’t get down on themselves though. They were dominant for the most part, and the worrisome power play was sharp all night and would eventually click on the fifth try when Jiri Sekac made it 5-1. But I’m  ahead of myself here. Tons of stuff went down.

Max Pacioretty was flying all night, and after not scoring on a last minute, clear cut breakaway in the first period, would light the lamp in the second and again in the third.

Nathan Beaulieu found himself in a fight with Matt Fraser and clocked the Bruin with a right that sent the fellow to the room with a sore face, leaving Beaulieu to add ice to the hand. Fraser had goaded Beaulieu to drop ‘em, and such a mistake it was.

40-year old Sergei Gonchar, after just one practice and playing in his first game with the Habs after coming over from Dallas in the Moen trade, was solid and effective all evening, including on the power play where he showed poise and smarts, otherwise known as experience.

Tomas Plekanec pulled off the coolest little between-the-legs pass to Gally in the crease, but unfortunately it couldn’t be finished off. Looked great though.

Lars Eller notched his third goal in three games with a nifty backhand after great work by Gally. Eller’s a new man.

Pleks had a wide open net on a power play and hit the crossbar. But I think at that point we could all feel a power play goal was only a matter of time and it was.

PK stood up to Lucic after the big thug had levelled Sekac. Luckily nothing developed, but good on PK anyway.

Weise looked like Mike Bossy on the penalty shot goal.

Alexei Emelin bumped and thumped as he likes to do against the Bruins. It’s a beautiful thing when he’s rattling bones. Especially Beantown bones.

Alex Galchenyuk pulled off several very cool moves to once again give us a more hints of what’s in store for years to come.

And Carey Price continues to stop most everything and show once again that when he’s doing his thing, the team always has a chance to win.

Great game, tremendous result. And if you turn your TV or radio down and open the window, that sound you hear are Bruins fans everywhere grinding their teeth and pushing down little old ladies..

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot Boston 34-22 and dominated much of the time.

The power play had a new feel to it. Therrien had two left handed blueliners, Markov and Gonchar, paired up, and two righties, Subban and Gilbert, for most of the five man-advantages.

Near the end, Nathan Beaulieu was rewarded for his fine play over the evening by getting some time on the power play as well. And it wasn’t just the d-men changing the environment. The power play units up front stormed the net, played like they were on a mission, and finally…..finally….Sekac scored after the team’s 28 previous attempts had proved futile.

Next up – Saturday when Philadelphia pays a visit.

 

Wicked Late-Game Magic

Whew! I needed to go outside and feel some cool air. I overheated during the last hour of the Flyers-Canada’s Team showdown.

Habs sadly behind 3-0 in the third to the always tough Flyers, and then suddenly, like magic, the jets got turned on, the game became tied, and it was won in overtime when P.A. Parenteau capped off the sensational comeback.

Now that’s hockey.

I wonder what was said in the dressing room between the second and third period. Whatever it was, it worked. Who needs a captain anyway?

Through two frames the Canadiens were outshot 27-18. They seemed to be going nowhere. The Flyers were skating and it was one of those games where we tell ourselves that they can’t win every night.

Trying to be realistic. Hate that but sometimes it has to be.

But in the final frame, the “can’t win every night” theory got thrown out the window once again. The Flying Third Period Men flew like the wind, played like they knew it wasn’t over by a long shot, dominated those orange eyesores, chipped away, and it went like this:

Markov from the blueline at 7.05 and it was 3-1. Plekanec bulged the top of the twine at 9.12 and became 3-2. And at 14.40, Galchenyuk converted Pleks’ pass and the game was tied.

It was amazing. The never-say-die kids were back on even terms, the Flyers’ heads must’ve been spinning, and the final salt was added to the wound in the shootout when, after Chucky, DD, and Gally couldn’t solve Ray Emery and no Flyer at the other end could slip one by Price,  Parenteau finally ended it and the team skated off with an incredible 4-3 win.

Three straight wins for the Canadiens to start the season. Late game heroics. And in the end, after being outshot in the first two frames, the team managed 38 shots to the Flyers’ 32.

It’s a beautiful thing if you’re a Habs fan, but now we need to see a game where they outplay the opposition for three periods. This kind of magic can’t go on forever.

Against Toronto, Pleks scored the winner with just 43 seconds remaining. In Washington, Pleks in the third and then Gally in the shootout gave them a 2-1 win.

Saturday night, Pleks scored his team’s second goal to keep things rolling. Fellow countryman, rookie Jiri Sekac, must be in awe.

Other than the six points in three games and the sheer pleasure involved, the power play now needs to get in gear. It was 0-2 against Toronto, 0-5 against Washington, and against Philly – 0-3.

The Canadiens have won three straight without a single power play goal. But we know it’s coming. Yes we do.

Random Notes:

Galchenyuk burst in on a clear cut breakaway in overtime but was stopped cold by Emery, and in the preceding shootout, Chucky tried the exact same move – a little move to his right, again foiled by Emery.

Next up – in Tampa on Monday. Grab a nice win there boys, then come home for some home cooking, a familiar bed, and some very pleased fans.

Habs/Leafs Set To Blast Off

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Gally and Chucky are a tad older now (although, on the downside, Andrei Markov and Mike Weaver are too), the Canadiens are coming off some postseason deepness and liking it, and sixteen skaters (counting newcomer Eric Tangradi), are at least six feet tall.

The size factor has zoomed up considerably with Brian Gionta, Daniel Briere, and most recently Francis Bouillon, no longer in the picture. In fact, the roster, as it stands now, lists 11 guys all at 6’2″, which in my eyes is darn close to the perfect hockey player size.

It’s not that small guys can’t be key contributors. They certainly can be and it would be nonsense to say otherwise. But when there’s an abundance of small guys on one team, the team will often get bounced around like Brad Marchand’s three brain cells when the going gets rough.

It seems the Canadiens also have a nice balance of guys of young and not-quite-so-young. In fact, unless something changes, it’s only Gallagher, Galchenyuk, Bournival, Beaulieu, Tinordi, and Jiri Sekac under 25 years old, and it’s only Weaver, 36, Markov, 35, and Manny Malhotra, 34, as the overly-wrinkled veterans.

Tweaks have been made (- http://dennis-kane.com/summer-notes-from-habsville/), and the Canadiens should be labeled a legitimate contender, which is a sensational feeling. Unless you hate them of course.

It begins on Wednesday when they play the worst sports franchise in North America.

Yes, against those wacky Leafs.

It was ESPN who named the Leafs the worst, with the decision based on affordability, coaching, fan relations, ownership (honesty and loyalty), players (effort and likability), stadium experience, bang for the buck (wins per fan dollars) and title track (championships won or expected).

Pretty sure it costs an arm and a leg to see the Laffs at the ACC. They’ve increased their ticket prices by 53% this year, with the average price being $423.65.

But at ticket outlet “Vivid Seats”, one can grab a pair to see them and the Habs battle from down low, centre ice for slightly more. Just $1213 a seat.

However, if you want to wait until, say January, when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the ACC, you can get a great seat through Vivid for just $385.00!

Likeable players? Probably not on this year’s team. But Johnny Bower has always seemed likeable. King Clancy. Some of the usherettes. I’m sure there’s more.

Stadium experience? I dunno. Are the hot dogs good?

Wins per fan dollar? The team hasn’t won much of anything in four and a half decades, which makes the fan dollar so low that when I do the math, the team should be paying the fans.

You can lump “wins per fan dollars and championships won or expected” together if you want. However which way you slice it, with these two categories being part of the criteria, ESPN should just hand the award to the Leafs permanently and come up with something new.

“Championships expected”? Yes, any year now, the Leafs will win the Cup. Said Don Rickles.

I don’t pay attention to the coaching and ownership so I can’t comment. I suppose they’re trying, but it’s the Maple Leafs they own or coach. How much trying can one do?

Habs and Laffs finally set to go. A big night for sure, even if one team is the worst franchise in North America.