Category Archives: Bell Centre

Bell Smell


Mike Condon has had a lot of great nights lately. Saturday wasn’t one of them.

Against the visiting Colorado Avalanche, Condon allowed four goals on eleven shots during his two periods of work before being yanked for Dustin Tokarski in the third, who himself let in two more in this 6-1 debacle at the Bell.

And to make matters worse, the Canadiens had plenty of chances and fired 40 shots at Swedish goaltender Reto Berra. But when all was said and done, the Swede was sharp and the Montreal backups played like backups.

It just wasn’t Condon’s night, his first true bummer of an outing, and it began early, after both Jeff Petry and Max Pacioretty blew glorious chances, when Mikhail Grigorenko sneaked one through Condon’s legs just 3:26 into the contest.

With 1:22 left in the first, Petry turned the puck over to Nathan Mackinnon, who fired past Condon, and just 13 seconds later, it was MacKinnon once again, with a backhand that Condon probably should’ve stopped because it seemed he wasn’t set properly.

There we go again. Early and late period goals. It just seems so Wednesday-like, when they lost to Pittsburgh after being scored on 13 seconds into the first period and again with just 44 seconds remaining.

Their opening and closing habits might need a few tweaks.

In the second period, Brendan Gallagher chipped in a Tomas Plekanec pass from behind the net, and hope reigned supreme. For a few minutes at least.

A game to be had, until Andrei Markov, on a Habs power play, told P.K. Subban to grab the puck at the blueline, and P.K. told Markov to grab the puck at the blueline, which led to no one grabbing the puck at the blueline.

Except Blake Comeau, who took advantage of the black comedy and sent the puck through the backstopper’s legs after skating in home free.

This embarrassing and momentum-killing shorthanded goal would see a 4-1 game at that point and spell the end of Condon’s night and his incredible run as saviour while Carey Price is on the mend.

The Markov/Subban lack of communication sequence is not something we want Habs haters to take and run with and plaster all over Facebook pages.  Not something we ever want to see again. So let’s never mention it.

At the other end of the rink, Avs goaltender Berra thwarted plenty of splendid home team chances, and good for him I guess. It’ll be something he can tell his grandchildren someday when back in the old country. How, when he was playing overseas in Canada, he stoned the team that seven months later would win the Stanley Cup.

All in all, the Habs should’ve beaten this guy several times. They also shouldn’t have been scored on shorthanded, shouldn’t have had a blueline brain fart, and shouldn’t have had their backup goalie come crashing back to earth after being the talk of the hockey world, and the league’s third star last week.

Condon might have been fine if the boys would’ve cashed in early once or twice. But they didn’t and he wasn’t.

If a backup played like a first stringer all the time, he wouldn’t be a backup. Poor play once in a while is to be expected. Poor play too often means you’re Peter Budaj or Dustin Tokarski or Alex Auld and you don’t have the job anymore.

Now Condon needs to regroup and hang in there just a little bit longer, as Price seems closer to being up and at ’em.

We need a serious regrouping on Monday when the Vancouver Canucks stop by to say hello. And keep in mind, not only is this loss the team’s second straight, but they’ve dropped five of their last nine.

Those nine straight wins were so nice. I miss that.





Streak Reaches Four!


Now that’s some kind of season-opening road trip.

Four games, four wins. Success in Toronto, Boston, Ottawa, and a tidy 3-2 win in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Road bonding. Kanata nightlife. Four goals during the stretch for new captain Max.

Now it’s the friendly confines of the Bell Centre on Thursday where this 2015-16 edition of the Canadiens will be introduced before tackling the visiting Blueshirts, who at this moment are considering calling in sick.

Zack Kassian, presumably watching this unfold, must be feeling lousy. He’s missing all this good stuff, and we could’ve used him to smash Chris Kreider’s ribs into bone dust.

And the game in Pittsburgh? Two goals by captain Max, beginning with the opener in the first frame after some nice work by Brendan Gallagher to get the puck over, and with Tomas Plekanec causing fine havoc in front.

The Pens would even things in the second after Nathan Beaulieu was caught at the enemy blueline, allowing Beau Bennett to skate in. (I hadn’t realized that parents named their kids ‘Beau’ nowadays, but apparently they do. They don’t seem to call them ‘Dennis’ though.)

But then it happened (in the game, not the kids’ names). Not only did Max’s second goal put his team ahead again, it was also on the power play of all things. A power play that was nicely quarterbacked by Jeff Petry. A power play that went 1/2 on the night and now stands at 2 for 16. Maybe Petry is the key to untangling this mess.

That’s one small step for the power play, one giant leap for mankind. Or something like that.

Later in the second, a bit of a deflection from far out fooled Carey Price, and the game was tied once again. It’s weird to type that – “from far out fooled Carey Price.” 

But we forgive him. And we’ll probably forgive him two or three more times this season.

The Canadiens won it in the third period after a broken play saw Dale Weise miss David Desharnais with a long stretch pass, but wee DD hustled to the corner, grabbed the elusive biscuit, and sent it to newcomer Tomas Fleischmann who made no mistake. And which kept the beauty of a streak alive and well..

A fine win, capped off by Price robbing Sidney Crosby with just 2:17 left in the game.

What a start to the season, and they have a chance to extend it to five in front of a rip roaring Bell Centre crowd on Thursday.

Again, Zack can’t be feeling great about this. It must be like being locked in a room while your buddies are splashing in the pool with Playboy bunnies.

Random Notes:

Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 33-30.

Everyone on the team has at least a point, except for Tom Gilbert, Alexei Emelin, and Devante Smith-Pelly. Max leads the team with 6, while Markov, P.K., and Galchenyuk sit at 4.

This, from Mike McKim on Facebook –

Knock, knock,
Who’s there?
Foreign who?
FOUR and OH!




Hey Ghosts, Break’s Over

Sent over by Mike McKim, this article in – Battling the Ghosts by Sean McIndoe, talks about the Habs/ Lightning series, the old Forum and it’s replacement the Bell Centre, along with the distance between the two barns in different ways.

McIndoe also notes the apparent absence of Forum ghosts who were suppose to pack up and move over when the old cathedral closed its doors, but seem to be taking their time. If they came at all.

Contrary to what many think, I believe the Forum ghosts did make their way over to the Bell Centre in 1996, but they’ve had so much fun reminiscing, with the hangovers never ending and good times just rolling along, and they simply haven’t gotten around to modern day Habs teams yet, except for some fine times against Boston.

And they were on the job in the 2010 playoffs, at least for a few magical rounds. But all in all, they’ve really slacked off.

I can’t blame the ghosts. They welcome old buddies almost non-stop, so they party hard and tell tall tales, and lately, with Jean and Gilles and Elmer and Dollard and coach Ruel moving upstairs, there’s way too much to do in just a short amount of time.

Guys have to come from all corners of heaven to meet at the rebuilt Toe Blake’s Tavern. Fedora’s have to be dusted off. Someone has to be in charge of cigars at the corner tobacco store. It’s been tradition to have music greet the new guys, so Benny Goodman or Sinatra or Elvis have to be rounded up and sent to Toe’s.

So much to do, and we expect them to do more? Yes we do, because we believe in a serious work ethic from our ghosts,

It’s time to get off your behinds, ghosts. The boys down below need some guidance. Morenz only took 7 years after passing before lending a helping hand. What’s going on, Rocket? What’s the holdup?

And surely Toe and Dick Sr. can get the power play in sync, although it appears they might already be working on it.

All of you. Coffee break’s over. Up and at ’em.





Boys Bomb Bolts

Such a character win by the Canadiens. I’m prouder than a peacock.

They’ve could’ve folded the tent after that murderous last-second goal in game three, but instead, they game out flying, got that first goal early, then another and another, and the series now shifts back to Montreal after the gang that couldn’t shoot straight took out the cocky Lightning with a tremendous 6-2 shellacking.

It was interesting to see one of the Tampa players in the corridor minutes before the game, shown during the first intermission, singing and having a grand old time. Sing some more, buddy. Maybe the blues? Maybe a hurtin’ tune?

Finally the breaks went the Canadiens way. Pucks that stayed out before went in this time. Ben Bishop was chased after the third goal and his replacement, Andrei Vasilevsky, was fairly lousy. Fans left early to water their palm tress.

Heck, Montreal even managed a power play goal, which in itself, is a mind blower of epic proportions. And Max’s shorthanded marker left me hanging from the chandelier.

Two goals in the first period, beginning with Andrei Markov converting a PK setup from a slightly difficult angle.

Next was Max’s shorty, and in the second period, Bishop was yanked after gloving a DD slapshot but then losing it. Craig Simpson on HNIC disagreed with coach Jon Cooper’s decision to switch goalies, but it worked for me.

The score became a juicy 4-0 when Jeff Petry, on the power play, finished it off after PK and Chucky and the gang threw it around in fine style, and just 15 seconds later, Brendan Gallagher let go a blast from the right side that Vasilevsky is still looking for.

It was good, real good, although Tampa would beat Carey Price twice after the 5-0 score was built, with their second just 17 seconds into the third. The Lightning weren’t going to pot three more, no way, but I was nervous anyway.

Brandon Prust converted Lars Eller’s rebound in the third period, the Bolts were officially fried, and it’s back to the Bell for a rousing game five and another one shift, one game at a time deal.

Random Notes:

Canadiens once again handily outshot Tampa, this time 40-24. Last night it was 31-19. And people say the Lightning are the better team?

I saw the game in a somewhat different place with a bunch of distractions that included that call from producers telling me I’m a “World’s Most Handsome Man” finalist. Pissed me off. So did that photo shoot with the Playboy bunnies during the second intermission.

But I still saw the game. I just wish these people would leave me alone.





Beauty At The Bell

Have you forgotten completely about the regular season yet?

What a night at the Bell Centre as the hometown heroes edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in game one, with bangs and bruises and rapid fire goals the order of the day.

A hard-fought win by the good guys in an emotional and mostly bitter contest that has me chomping at the bit for game two on Friday. My back is sore from sitting on the edvge of the couch. And I can yell loudly now and not scare the cat because, and I say this with a heavy heart, she died recently.

Props to the Canadiens fourth line – Torrey Mitchell with a goal, Brandon Prust an assist, and Brian Flynn with two assists and a big goal which proved to be the winner.

The trio caused havoc all night, they skated miles and crashed and thumped while doing so, and ain’t life grand when the grinders step up and get it done with our 37-goal scorer on the shelf.

It didn’t begin well, as we saw Andrei Markov shovel the puck into his own net after P.K. misplayed things. It was a downer for sure but it was still early, and over that first frame, both teams hit hard and skated hard, and any good Habs fan knew that the game was far from over.

We also saw Brendan Gallagher blatantly mugged with no penalty called, and Devante Smith-Pelly rattle bones like we knew and hoped. Overall a fine first period, except for the mugging, but nothing like what was to come.

The second period was as wild and wooly as can be, and the goals came quickly. Torrey Mitchell would first tie things on a wraparound, and just 15 seconds later, Tomas Plekanec buried it after coming in from the left side, making it 2-1 Habs and life worth living.

That was good. But then P.K. got kicked out of the game with a 5-minute major and a game for slashing Mark Stone on the wrist, which sent Stone sprawling to the ice like he’d had acid thrown in his face.

Five minutes later, Stone was back. Soon after he left again. Then he was back. And to show how badly hurt he was, he also managed to get into a scuffle at the end of the game.

But no matter. Embellish. Sort of hurt. Maybe hurt. I don’t care, as long as the league does the right thing and not punish P.K.

Stone and his team lost the game, and it makes my heart soar like an Asian Ground Cuckoo bird.

Second period scoring didn’t end with Pleks’ marker either. The Sens would score on the power play to tie things. Then Lars Eller, our playoff weapon, put his team ahead with a delicious shorthanded goal. And shortly after that, Ottawa, still on the same power play, would tie things at 3.

Five goals in 4:43.  And soon after, Brian Flynn would score one of the biggest goals of his career.

No goals in the third frame, although, on a good Habs power play (their only one), Jeff Petry bounced one onto the top of the net and Smith-Pelly hit the post.

The team held on with the goalie pulled, and game one is in the books. With no Max and only half a game from P.K. And four goals on the saintly Andrew Hammond, who might need a hamburger to ease the pain.

Best of all, the team was alive and rugged and played a brand of hardworking, hard-driving hockey we rarely saw in that now-forgotten regular season.

Random Notes:

Carey Price came up with some huge saves, but this was a night when others stepped up for a change.

Watching Flynn, Mitchell, and Smith-Pelly on this night, and along with the always good Jeff Petry, makes me think that Marc Bergevin is an absolute hockey genius.

Shots on goals – Habs 39, Sens 33, with Montreal outshooting the other guys 19-17 in the second period alone.

C’mon Friday.


Another Fine Blanking!


The Canadiens looked like they were coming off a Demerol party when they lost 4-0 to the Sharks on March 2nd in San Jose, and which kicked off the 3-game hard-to-swallow California crushing.

It had us all in a dither.

But Saturday at the Bell, the boys played hard-hitting, slick passing big time hockey as they slayed the Sharks 2-0, making it three straight wins, four of their last five, coming not long after the aforementioned California slide had us searching for the key to the liquor cabinet.

Great game by the Habs, regardless of the fact the shirtless Joe Thornton told Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson between periods that his line had been in Montreal’s end all game.

Not what I saw, Joe. And really, for the sake of us guys watching, could you please put a shirt on.

Carey Price saved the day when called upon, which could be said for just about every time he’s manned the nets this season, with this being his 9th shutout (tying M.A. Fleury for the lead), and second in a row after beating Carolina 4-0 on Thursday.

The win is also Price 40th of the season, just two back of the Habs all-time leaders Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden, which is absolutely exciting. Price has entered the Land of the Giants.

Tomas Plekanec got his team on the board in the first period, his 22nd of the year, on a great play that gave him most of a wide-open net to shoot at. The goal also came at a great time, with just 1:14 remaining in the period, and we could see that with the way they were playing, taking the lead late like that could very well spell serious trouble for The Shirtless One and his fish.

Brendan Gallagher would notch the insurance marker, his 21st, in the third with the Sharks’ net empty, and with just seconds left and the boys up 2-0, the Ole, Ole song began, with props to the singers. You sang it at the proper time for a change. When the game wasn’t in doubt.

And man, were the last few minutes tense with the goalie pulled and the score still 1-0, and with the game, and a shutout, on the line.

But the Canadiens came through, as they did all night, standing their ground, checking hard, passing well, and all in all, unless you’re a Sharks fan, a mighty fine night at the not-so-old Bell Centre.

A nice, impressive hometown win by the gang, and a tremendous thing to see, considering there’s only nine games to go and maybe, just maybe, they’re rounding into playoff form.

Random Notes:

Tom Gilbert took a puck in the mouth area during the second period and was gone for the night. Hopefully it’s only a chiclet or two and nothing more.

Props to Brandon Prust for playing a fine game, including a nice piece of business on the penalty kill late in the game.

The Canadiens have reached 99 points, tied with Anaheim for top of the heap.

Alex Galchenyuk needs just one more to reach 20 goals.

Next up – Tuesday, when the team hits Music City, U.S.A. to shut out the Predators.


Eller’s Penalty Didn’t Help


Lars Eller got his stick up into the face of Drew Doughty with just 1:35 left in the third period, with his team winning 3-2 after being down 2-0 to the hometown L.A. Kings, and having stormed back from the dead.

The Kings, of course, with just 45 seconds left in the game, would tie it with Lars in the sinbin, and ultimately take it to a shootout where the Canadiens didn’t get the job done and lose 4-3.

I wish I’d kept track of all the ill-timed, momentum-killing, game-ruining penalties Eller has managed over the past few years. Penalties late in periods, penalties that cancel out power plays, penalties when it’s definitely time to not get penalties. It seems like he’s the king of this &$%#@% category.

I know what the Maharishi would tell me (if I knew him and he was still alive). Take deep breaths. Concentrate on trees and streams. Focus on the good that happened before Lars slipped up.

It’s a shootout loss that yes, gets the team a point, but it should’ve been two, and it should’ve been a cool halt to the California creamin’.

It stings, Maharishi. Just like it probably did when the Beatles dumped you. Eller owes us all a dinner.

The first period was as dreadful as the showings in San Jose and Anaheim. Outshot 13-2 and outscored 2-0. Heck, it was only a few games ago when the boys had shutout the Leafs and won their fourth straight, and we were feeling high and mighty and thinking magnificent thoughts.

But seven periods in California changed all that.

The second frame saw the Canadiens come to life though, and Tom Gilbert, looking like a forward, closed the gap to 2-1 when he swooped in and around Jonathan Quick and lit the lamp. And it became a tie game not long after when Gally took a nice pass from Plekanec and backhanded it home.

In the third frame, Max would notch his 31st on a nice pass from DD, and all was swell in Habsville until Eller’s brain froze like a tray of ice cubes, and with the clock winding down and the Kings on the power play, along with Quick on the bench and the extra man out, the bullet was fired to tie it.

Overtime would solve nothing, and in the shootout, the Canadiens shooters were Chucky (nope), DD and Max (yes), and Eller (post), while Kings skaters buried 3 of 4 on Dustin Tokarski, who overall played a decent game between the pipes.

This mostly lousy four-game road trip comes to an end on Saturday in Phoenix, but things don’t exactly let up. The following four games see the boys tackle the Lightning and Sens at home, and the Islanders and Lightning on the road.

Upcoming strategy? Keep Eller on the bench in crucial situations.




Price’s Night Against Jets

Certainly a well-deserved shutout by Carey Price as he stopped the Winnipeg Jets cold in the Canadiens’ decent 3-0 win at the Bell.

Price must have had the Jets talking to themselves as he foiled almost sure goals a bunch of times, while at the other end, Lars Eller in the second and Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec in the third lit the lamp, with Pleky’s being an empty-netter.

It was another night for the third line to shine, with Eller, Sekac, and Prust buzzing around the Jets’ goal all evening. Sekac, chosen second star on the night and his second straight game being one, continues to show he’s the real deal. It seems he and Eller have some serious chemistry going, and Brandon Prust must be happier than a pig in shit to have landed on this line and is adding to the said chemistry.

Others guys chipped in too. Brandon Gallagher caused havoc in the crease and Alex Galchenyuk flashed some serious moves. But often, especially from the Desharnais, Pacioretty, Parenteau trio, the chances to shoot were there and weren’t taken. Fancy moves don’t work all that often against NHL defencemen.

Speaking of defenceman, P.K. might want to to stay away from the moonshine. In the first period he lost the puck on the power play which led to a Jets breakaway, and he almost did the same thing in the second. All in all, he was a bit of a mess throughout. It’s weird how that happens with PK sometimes.

A fine win, Price’s first shutout of the season and his 26th overall, the team’s third win in a row after a brief slump, and now it’s a matter of the Bruins at the Bell on Thursday.

Gotta win that. We hate the Bruins.

Now, at the risk of seeming like a big friggin baby, I need to go to bed. Yes I’m a suck, but I need to be fresh so I can give my usual 140% at work tomorrow.



Sekac Outstanding In Habs Win



It began with an emotional ceremony that saw Guy Lapointe’s number 5 raised to the rafters between his buddies Savard and Robinson.

And the game began like so many others, with the Canadiens not scoring and looking befuddled in the process, relying on Carey Price to keep them in it once again.

But in the second and third they were the team we’ve been craving to see. A team that suddenly found cohesion and speed, with the top three lines dangling and creating chances, and the fourth line punching the clock and sometimes coming close to adding to the festivities, as in Dale Weise ringing one off the crossbar.

And as much as it was a night for Guy Lapointe and a big win that just might boot this group out of the doldrums (I said “might”), it was a coming out party for Jiri Sekac, a healthy scratch for the last seven games, who scored a goal and added an assist and named first star of the night.

If this is what we’re going to see instead of the usual Rene Bourque effort, maybe we could buy Bourque the odd coffee and hot dog as our way of saying thank you for the great games he last played. Last spring.

A big, important, and impressive win on Guy Lapointe night. Imagine if the Canadiens were embarrassed on this special occasion. But they weren’t, and it was a happy night at the Bell for the home team, the hometown fans, and hopefully Mr. Lapointe, who happens to be a scout for the Wild.

The Canadiens got on the scoreboard first, something not often seen, when Gally wired one over the shoulder of Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper, and after the Wild had evened things up, Lars Eller, with 50 seconds left in the period put the boys ahead again.

In the third, it was Sekac and then Max, and Minnesota was done like dinner.

Two goals in the second, two in the third. A great forty minutes. Now if they can only start scoring in the first. And if they can continue what they started.

Random Notes:

The Sekac, Eller and Prust line combined for 6 points  – Sekac a goal and an assist, Eller a goal and an assist, and Prust, who was outstanding in this game, adding 2 assists.

Other point-getters – Gally and Max with a goal each, and Pleky, Parenteau, and DD with assists.

Next up – Tuesday, when Winnipeg pays a visit.


Humbled At Home

Saying the Canadiens were lousy is pretty well all that needs to be said about the 6-2 loss to the Calgary Flames at the Bell Centre.

The Flames were excellent, the Habs weren’t. Montreal was outworked, outskated, outsmarted, gave up plenty of giveaways, and it was all capped off by the Flames fifth goal coming after P.K. fell down.

An embarrassing night for the CH, and this business of the other team usually scoring first is more than tiresome. The madness has to stop. Come-from-behind wins eventually slow down to a crawl. Like now.

Don’t look now but the team has lost their last three of four, so if it’s not a full-fledged slump, it could be very soon. It’s time for some soul-searching. I know it’s early but slumps are slumps and when the team is about to enter one, it’s depressing whether it’s early or later on.

They didn’t play well in Western Canada and it continues in their first game back at home. They need to play much better than this and it certainly can’t be hard. They just need to look at tapes of this game and do the opposite.

Random Notes:

Calgary outshot Montreal 19-4 in the first period, which is unacceptable to say the least. The great October run must have given the boys swelled heads.

Overall shots on goal – Calgary 36, Montreal 20.

Rene Bourque finally scored, which puts him on track for a 7-goal season. Max got the other. (Late-breaking correction – Bourque’s goal was given to Lars Eller later on, so forget the 7 goal thing).

Next up – the Hawks are in town on Tuesday. Time to stop the nonsense.