Category Archives: Andrei Markov

Once Again, Habs……

man-slumped-in-chair

It was sure nice to have a week off during the All-Star break.

The John Scott Extravaganza was up and running, so the Habs’ magnificent Slide Into Hell was forced to stop for a breather. No turnovers, no missed nets, no silent guns, no night with no points.

Nice.

But I’ll admit, after a week off, it was good to see the boys up and at ’em and lose another.

This time it happened in Philadelphia, where they fell 4-2, although they came back from being down 2-0 to tie things at one point, which sort of gave us the silly notion that they could actually win.

There was a glorious chance to even things late, after big lunk Radko Gudas clipped Lucas Lessio with just over seven minutes remaining, and was given five minutes and a game misconduct for his dastardly deed.

But the five-minute power play that Montreal went on because of the clipping simply ticked away like we knew it would, with the boys of course not scoring, and in not doing so, they’ve probably blown their season in solid Linda Lovelace fashion.

On the bright side, it’s only the team’s third straight loss and not five or six like we’ve seen in previous months. Although they should reach these marks soon of course.

I don’t want to talk about what now amounts to one win in 9 games, which is their most recent pathetic contribution to join all the other pathetic contributions. The beat goes on. The longest lousy drum solo on record.

I never know what to say anymore. I dread game nights now. What am I supposed to write about when every game is just a slight variation of all the others?

I miss the ongoing circus, CNN’s Race For the White House, for this %$*&^?

Once upon a time I thought the 2015-16 Montreal Canadiens were good. What was wrong with me?

Random Notes:

Philly out the Canadiens 36-32.

The power play? 1/4.

Habs scorers were Andrei Markov, with his third of the season, and Jeff Petry with his fifth.

Quite a start for Lessio. His first game with the Habs after being called up from St. John’s, and he’s helped off the ice with what may be a serious knee injury. Fingers crossed on this one.

It’s the first time this season the Canadiens haven’t won the first game of a month, which makes it sound like they’ve been good or something. But it’s worth mentioning I suppose.

Next Up – Wednesday, with the Buffalo Sabres paying a visit to the Bell Centre. This is the first of four games at home, for what it’s worth.

 

 

 

Habs Lose Of Course

dead fish

For the second straight night, the Canadiens fall 5-2 to the powerhouse Columbus Blue Jackets.

Send this team to fight ISIS or something. They’re useless here.

Maybe there’s some fine Syrian refugee hockey players who could fill the gap.

This ends the January part of the schedule, by the way. A month when they won three times in 11 games. Good stuff. It’s almost like December, when they won three times in 14 games.

And if things work out in magical fashion, February could give us three wins in 13 games!

How neat would that be! Three wins in each month. Here’s hoping!

They went 1/6 on the power play, and for the most part, it was a mighty fine mess with guys sort of improvising in halfhearted fashion because there doesn’t seem to be any set plays.

It was fun to see them sometimes run into each other, and in general do not much of anything.

This is the power play they promised us would be good this year, one they’ve been practicing since training camp, and one that looks like five drunks screwing around on rented ice.

Once again a turnover by Andrei Markov cost a goal. Andrei likes to do this every game now if possible, it’s become his signature thing, and I for one look forward to it.

To add to the merriment, Max Pacioretty left the ice after a puck hit him in the face after deflecting off his shoulder. And it was announced that Daniel Carr, one of the few guys who’s contributed lately, is gone for three months with a knee injury.

It’s amazing stuff. Sort of funny, really.

Now they get to sit and reflect until after the All-Star break, when they kick things into motion on February 2 in Philly.

Can’t wait.

I just hope the wives are okay.

Wives, if you need to talk, just call me collect at 604-555-1515. We can chat into the wee hours, when your husbands are tossing and turning about the possibility of being sent to Iraq..

Random Notes:

Devante Smith-Pelly narrowed the gap to 2-1 in the second period, converting a nice feed from Torrey Mitchell, and Alex Galchenyuk on the power play narrowed things to 3-2. Then it collapsed.

Again, wives – 604-555-1515.

 

 

Another Night, Another….

keystone cops

The Canadiens dominated the St. Louis Blues and still lost, this time 4-3 in overtime, and we watch slightly stunned as the team that once led all teams gradually fades into oblivion.

It’s fine that they showed fire and were involved in several scrums and looked like they’re a truly fed up and pissed off group. And it’s fine that they outshot the Blues 49-22.

It’s not so fine that Mike Condon in the third period misplayed the puck behind the net and the Blues tied things up, just a few dozen seconds after Tomas Plekanec, who hadn’t scored since the invention of the turtleneck, finally found the back of the net.

And it’s not fine either that in overtime, Andrei Markov lost the puck and the Blues moved in on Condon and capitalized in gut-wrenching fashion.

The good ship Habs takes on even more water.

Random Notes:

It’s also not fine that they went 1/7 on the power play. Although it’s good that PK, with his third of the season, was the marksman with the man advantage.

The Canadiens’ 49 shots is a season-high, for what it’s worth.

They hold on to the final wild card spot by the skin of their teeth, with five teams breathing down their neck and ready to pounce.

Alexei Emelin crushed Paul Stastny with a clean, bone-rattling check that made my heart soar. I’ve missed the soaring heart, so thanks Alexei.

Max, with his 18th, gave his team a brief 2-1 lead in the second before the Blues tied it a minute later.

Sunday in Chicago.

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Crush Bruins

Gally

Brendan Gallagher finally returned to the Habs lineup, notched a goal and an assist, and never missed a beat with his mind blowing work ethic while getting clobbered in and around the crease, usually by an aging skyscraper named Zdeno Chara.

Gally’s a huge difference maker, a leader by example with balls the size of a large planet, and we saw at this 2016 Winter Classic in Foxborough what we already knew. This guy has to be healthy in the playoffs.

Without Gallagher in the lineup, his coworkers lacked fire, but with him punching the clock they’re a different bunch. Today showed a team with character and confidence, as they did when they won nine straight in the beginning.

Not at all the boring and stagnant bunch we came to know and dislike in December.

The Canadiens bombed the Bruins 5-1 at Gillette Stadium with nearly 70,000 fans in the seats, and it was Gallagher leading the way after missing 17 games with a hand injury. He added passion, grit, and will, things lacking during the team’s big slump.

The rest of them should be ashamed of themselves. They can’t play well unless inspired by a smallish yet shifty and feisty right winger?

Why can’t Max or PK or anyone else pull off that sort of inspiration?

And every time he banged it out in the crease against guys like Chara, I was worried he’d get hurt again. Teams will surely go after him even more now, because it’s obvious he’s the straw that stirs the drink.

Do we have some protection for Gally? Not much at all, unfortunately. PK and Eller, both of whom dropped the gloves in the past couple of games, won’t exactly be relied upon, to say the least. And then there’s…….

And the Winter Classic? I’ve never been able to fully embrace these outdoor games. For whatever reason, it upsets me to see fans in seats so far from the ice. Even those in the first row need binoculars.

Often the games aren’t up to scratch, especially when it’s snowing or minus-30 or the ice begins to melt.

And who can be sure about anything that Gary Bettman loves?

But this game was good, the weather was fine, and the right team unleashed a throttling.

Random Notes:

Mike Condon was excellent throughout, including a lightning quick glove save on Ryan Spooner in the dying seconds of the second period.

The Canadiens jumped into the lead just 1:14 into the first period when David Desharnais scored his first in more than a month (which is what Tomas Plekanec did on Monday in Tampa Bay), while other marksmen included Paul Byron with a pair, Max, and of course Gally.

Dale Weise was injured in the third period and didn’t return.

Max’s arm hit a camera stuck through the glass, and if I had a say in things, I’d be telling camermen that when players are skating near you, pull your friggin camera in. How hard can it be?

Canadiens outshot the Bruins 30-28 overall, including a dominant 14-3 in the first period. But the Bruins would close the gap and outshoot Montreal 11-5 in the third frame.

Next up – Tuesday, the final game of this eight-game road trip, when the boys hit Philly. The Flyers know from this Habs-Bruins game  that the secret to success is to maim Brendan Gallagher. So zebras (and teammates), it’s up to you.

Gally artwork by Wade (Darth) Alexander. Thanks Wade.

Dallas Does Debbies

clobbered

The impressive Dallas Stars rolled over the Montreal Liberaces 6-2 Saturday in the Lone Star State, and it was a night when most Liberace players probably should’ve just stayed in the hotel lounge and tickled the ivories and drank Pink Ladies instead.

Eight losses in ten games. Now it’s on to Nashville, Minnesota, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida, Boston, and Philadelphia.

All good teams.

I’m starting to bite my nails again after quitting 20 years ago.

And although Paul Byron (shorthanded) and Daniel Carr would bulge the twine, once again the big guns stayed silent. Pee Wee Herman, Richard Simmons, Don Knox, Bill Nye – none of them were noticeable in this fiasco.

Mike Condon was replaced by Dustin Tokarski early in the third after the sixth goal.

Jeff Petry was hit by Jamie Benn and left the game.

P.K. Subban shot the puck over the glass and was penalized. Twice.

Andrei Markov only did it once.

Random Notes:

For breakfast I had two poached eggs on toast, with extra toast and coffee.

At this moment, P.K. Subban is thinking a little about his two delay of games penalties, and a lot about his new suit at the tailors and his ability to get Justin Trudeau to sing a Christmas carol.

Next up – Monday in Music City.

How are things in the world of cricket?

Stunned By Boston

this-sucks

Three goals in the third period by the Boston Bruins sank the ship, with the visitors skating away with a depressing 3-1 win at the Bell Centre. Now the Canadiens find themselves on a three-game skid, with some tough sledding ahead.

Of course there’s some fine excuses. Inexperienced call-ups from the minors because of injuries to regulars, and a backup goalie who is holding his own but might be getting tired, equals a team unable to fire on all cylinders at the moment. Good, solid excuses. Fine excuses.

In this Wednesday night tussle, Montreal handily outplayed the visitors for two periods but Tuukka Rask was hot, which is unusual against the Habs, and because the tying goal was reasonably bizarre, I feel somewhat at peace.

Like finally making it through two full days and a dozen showers after using fibreglass insulation for toilet paper.

The three-game slump sucks, and the boys play some tough teams coming up, beginning with Detroit in a few hours and Ottawa on Saturday.  It’s slightly worrisome. Imagine four or five or six losses in row? In Habsland it could get downright ugly.

But players on those upcoming teams are saying they have to meet a hungry, angry, and tough Habs, so it works both ways. The hell with getting upset. There are other things to worry about – like what I’m going to get Lucy for Christmas.

Boston’s tying goal in the third period was a killer indeed, an hour or so after Paul Byron had given Montreal a 1-0 lead back in the first.

The horrifying sequence unfolded as such: Dale Weise had burst in and was promptly tripped up by a sliding Dennis Seidenberg, and although a penalty shot entered some of our heads, it was strictly a two-minute deal instead. That was fine. Just score on the friggin’ power play.

The team was setting up  nicely in Boston’s end, quarterbacked by Andrei Markov, with slick passing back and forth between Markov, Max, Subban, Plekanec, and with the Bruins scrambling.

Then the second wave – Eller, DD, Weise, Petry, PK. The puck was in deep and it was only a matter of time. A tidy 2-0 lead coming up. Another loss by Rask and company at the hands of the team that’s owned them.

Suddenly…….at the blueline, Petry to P.K., who was off balance when he sent the knee-high through the middle, and which was batted out of the air by big Chara and directly to a surprised Loui Eriksson, who raced in from centre ice and beat Mike Condon.

Then like a dagger, Landon Ferraro bulged the twine just 42 seconds later, and that was that. Except for a third goal that had me checking soon after to see if Donald Trump had opened his mouth lately.

Random Notes:

The Canadiens, mostly on the strength of their solid first and second periods, outshot Boston 33-23.

They also went 0/3 on the power play, which was going good until recently. Much like their scoring in general.

The team misses Gallagher, Price, Mitchell, and Smith-Pelly for sure. But sometime down the road, like a beautiful rainbow appearing, the team will once again be the one we were bragging to our friends about.

Tonight (Thursday), the Canadiens are in Motor City.

 

 

A Shootout Loss In Pittsburgh

The Canadiens fall 4-3 in the shootout against the Penguins in Pittsburgh, but that’s fine. They were skating and had their chances, they got a point out of the deal, and their dads, on the father/son road trip, probably still love them anyway.

It was just 13 seconds into the first period when Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis beat Mike Condon, and it goes without saying that a goal right off the bat like that isn’t a good thing. Especially for Condon’s dad, who was seeing his son in the bigs for the very first time.

But Andrei Markov would even things up with blast while on the power play (ranked third overall), and hopefully Markov’s dad was there too to see it.

Sadly though, the Pens would bulge the twine with just 44 seconds left to play in the frame, and the Canadiens went to the room a goal behind.

Tough when you’re scored against in the first and last minutes of the period.

In the second, Max Pacioretty sent Brendan Gallagher into the clear and Gally’s great shot evened things, while later on Brian Flynn fired the puck through Marc-Andre Fleury’s armpits to put the team in front.

Montreal owned things in that middle frame. They had it going, they were skating like the wind, passing the puck around like a first-place team would, and they outshot the home team 13-1 as proof.

All they needed was another goal. But it never came.

Pittsburgh would find their game in the third, eventually tie it, and after no scoring in the 3-on-3 overtime, the Pens, with the help of Sidney Crosby, wrapped it up in the shootout after Galchenyuk and DD didn’t come through.

Looking back, the Canadiens were going good in overtime. They came close several times, and they circled with confidence and moved the puck around in fine style, especially when Galchenyuk, Gallagher, and Markov were on the ice..

Then Tom Gilbert stepped on the ice too soon and the team was called for too many men. Which of course killed any built momentum, and any chance to nail it shut.

Gilbert was also called for holding with 2:17 left in the third period, which wasn’t good either.

An inexcusable penalty to take on a 3-on-3. But like I said, the dads probably still love all of them anyway. Possibly even Gilbert’s dad.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Pittsburgh 38-34 and went 1/4 on the power play.

P.K. Subban recorded two assists, which hurdles him past John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars for most points (16) by a d-man.

Next up – Saturday, when Patrick Roy and his Colorado Avalanche visit the Bell Centre.

And finally, this great artwork done by Wade Alexander (Darth), of Brendan Gallagher. Gally played a fine game and also took a shot in the foot which saw him leave the game, only to return. (Dale Weise also left after being hit by Ben Lovejoy, but also returned.)

Whew, on both counts.

Gally

 

 

 

 

Habs Surprise Bruins

There were times throughout when they were far from sharp. Dozey in fact.  Definitely brain-dead in places.

But enough about the referees.

Canadiens double up the visiting Bruins 4-2 in a game that should turn more than a few Bruins fans into babbling glue sniffers. Their team had the Habs on the ropes. And then they didn’t.

Funny how that happens sometimes.

Somehow, although outplayed for much of the game, this first place team hung in against a surprisingly tough Boston squad. Tougher than I thought, considering the Bs sit in 19th spot overall with just 13 points, while the Canadiens, from the highest perch, can barely see them with binoculars.

But in the end, when the score was tied and just over a minute left in the third period, David Krejci decided to crosscheck Tomas Plekanec, several times in fact, and while he was cooling his blades in the sinbin after his numbing stupidity, David Desharnais buried the puck and the knife.

Soon after, Max found the empty net, and fans exhaled.

A fine ending to a tense game, and Bruins fans scurry to the local Army Surplus to buy knives to slit their throats.

Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period after the Canadiens were called for a tremendously dubious ‘too many men’ infraction, which was one of several weird refereeing decisions. But because of the final score, I won’t bitch. Except for the first paragraph of course.

The team was stifled constantly. They were bottled up, scrambling, all out of whack. I couldn’t wait for the period to end.

The only fun I had in this 20 minutes was seeing Andrei Markov blast a slapshot into the Bruins bench after taking a tripping call when Colin Miller embellished in fine Brad Marchand style.

No one was hurt on the Bruins bench, which is good I suppose. But it was a great moment. An excellent Markov moment.

Just as the Bruins had scored early in the first on the power play, the Canadiens did the same in the second, when Tomas Plekanec finished off a feed from Brendan Gallagher at 1:09 into the frame.

The Canadiens power play is clicking now. They promised, and I believed.

The Bruins took the lead in the second when Frank Vatrano, from the legendary Vatrano/Gambino mob family and playing in just his first NHL game after the family made the Bruins an offer they couldn’t refuse, notched his first big league goal.

Now we wait for news of a horse’s head found in David Krejci’s hotel bed after he gets home from Crescent St.

A Bruins lead going into the third period, with Boston stifling the boys and simply being the better team, ready to collect two big road points.

The Canadiens were in trouble, and possibly let down emotionally  after a Plekanec goal in the the third, which would have tied things up, was ruled no goal because of Gally causing havoc in the crease.

It was a sad time at the old Bell barn. The team getting whupped by the rival Bostonians. Things just weren’t going the right way on this Saturday night.

And then………

At 8:58, Lars Eller slipped one through Jonas Gustavsson’s legs and the score was tied in dramatic and surprising fashion.

At 17:57, David Kejci lost his mind and not quite a minute later, DD put his team in front.

And with 17 seconds left, Max found the empty net.

The Bruins and their fans once again hate the Habs more than anyone they’ve ever hated.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Boston 33-31.

Canadiens went 2/3 on the power play, while Boston was 1/5.

Too many turnovers, loose play, a plethora of icings, too many penalties, and the boys still won.

Next up – Canadiens take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

A little humour to close with. The Leafs allowed a goal with just a second left in Washington, and then lost in the shootout.

 

 

 

 

Collapse In Edmonton

Price

This was going to be the night they’d get back on track. It was the plan, and it was a fine plan.

They’d stunk up the joint in Vancouver on Tuesday when they got mugged 5-1, and although they beat the Leafs just prior to this Western Canada jaunt, they were outshot 52-27 in the process. Enough was enough, we said.

In Edmonton they were going to redeem themselves. Be that team the hockey world was talking about after winning nine straight out of the gate.

And indeed, they jumped out to a 3-0  first period lead against the Oilers in Edmonton, and things were good. It was gonna be a big night. A great night. Edmonton fans would see what all the fuss was about. It might even be a slaughter!

Then it all came tumbling down, like Kim Kardashian’s boobs when she’s in her 60s.

In the second period, Alexei Emelin would play handball with a bouncing puck behind Carey Price, and video replay showed the puck clearing the line by an inch or so.

A game of inches. And it happened with a mere 52 seconds left in the frame, and which gave the Oilers the life they needed.

In the third frame, a screened long shot that beat Price made it 3-2, and I’m betting that every single Habs fan on the planet who was watching or listening felt that familiar and quite sickening feeling of the jig being possibly up.

And the jig was up soon after when young stud Connor McDavid shoved the puck past Andrei Markov at the blueline and sent Benoit Pouliot in alone, and suddenly, in horrifying fashion, the game was tied and the boys were in a heap of trouble.

Yes, Benoit Pouilot. A bum when he was a Hab, and one of the league’s dirtiest players. Doesn’t fight and isn’t tough, but prefers to shove his stick in guts and faces. And it had to be him.

The final blow? With just 1:02 left in the third period, David Desharnais was stripped of the puck behind Price, the little black biscuit was sent out to rookie Leon Draisaitl, and that was that.

Oilers with four unanswered goals.

As we used to say when we were kids when a game ended, “game deodorant”, and although it was always a fairly stupid thing to say, the game smelled so it’s fitting.

Random Notes:

Habs scorers – Brendan Gallagher deflecting a PK wrist shot from the point on the power play; Torrey Mitchell after nice work by Devante Smith-Pelly; and Alex Galchenyuk converting a beautiful pass across the crease from Andrei Markov.

Oilers outshot the Habs 27-21, the fifth straight game in which Montreal has been outshot.

Canadiens power play was 1/2.

Carey Price has allowed 12 goals in his last three games, after previously being on a run that saw him average just one a game.

Next up – Friday night in Cowtown. This is the game where they’re going to redeem themselves. This is going to be the night. Enough is enough etc.

 

 

Habs Bomb Buffalonians

eight

Eight straight wins in the books as the Canadiens invade Buffalo and proceed to blast the Sabres 7-2, even though the home team outshot Montreal 36-26.

And regardless of being outshot, there were times in this game when the Habs threw the puck around like hockey-playing Harlem Globetrotters. Looking good and rolling along. A plethora of early points banked, to come in handy when times are a tad tougher.

My chest is swelled so much it’s now in line with my stomach.

With Mike Condon making his second start (he beat Ottawa 3-1 in the third game of the season), and Andrei Markov collecting a goal and four assists, the team now sits just two wins away from the NHL record of ten wins to start a season, jointly held by the ’93-94 Leafs (of all people), and the 2006-07 Sabres (of all people).

The Canadiens host the Leafs on Saturday night to try and keep this sensational run intact, with game ten in Vancouver on Tuesday night.

How sweet it is so far, and how sweet it would be. But the boys can never take the Leafs lightly, because no matter how much the Buds suck, they can still be full of shit when it comes to playing the Habs.

The 7-2 slaughter in Buffalo not only saw Markov inflict major damage. Brendan Gallagher and Dale Weise both notched a pair of goals, P.K. and Plekanec each collected three assists, and Max a goal and an assist.

A great night for so many, with Torrey Mitchell also scoring, and Tomas Fleischmann and DD grabbing an assist each. And to add to the merriment, the team went 2/3 on the power play, as Markov and Gallagher made the enemy pay the price for being shipped off to the sinbin.

Random Notes:

Top five Habs point getters in these eight games –
Plekanec – 5 goals, 4 assists
Max – 6 goals, 3 assists
Markov – 1 goal, 8 assists
Gally – 3 goals, 5 assists
P.K. – 8 assists

*****************************

On such an occasion as a 7-2 drubbing and eighth straight win, it saddens me to hear of former Canadien Jim Roberts passing away at age 75. A solid and important player, and a fine and friendly fellow.

I’ll have more about this later.

RIP Jim.

Jim Roberts