Category Archives: Bell Centre

Habs Take Out Bruins

gorilla

Milan Lucic, pictured above, screwed any chance of his team catching the Habs late in the game when he was sent off for mugging Alexei Emelin with just over a minute left and his team down a goal.

Lucic isn’t the smartest thug. Probably most gangsters aren’t. If this was Chicago of the 1930s, he’d be wasting away in Alcatraz instead of making millions as a boneheaded Bruins hothead.

Although he might be slightly brighter than teammate Brad Marchand. I’m just guessing. It’s hard to tell.

Shortly after Lucic’s temper tantrum against Emelin, who had leveled the thug early in the game with a juicy and clean hit,  the Canadiens on the power play saw P.A. Parenteau find the empty net, his second marker of the night, and the boys skate off with a solid 6-4 win over the Bruins.

It was a dandy night for Brendan Gallagher, who notched two goals and added an assist, and led his team in grit and points and heart and desire.

The team would end their power play woes, with two out of three chances bulging the twine.

Jiri Sekac finally scored his first NHL goal, with his family and girlfriend in the crowd, and you can’t much better than that. Dad was excited, and Jiri’s girlfriend is cute.

Tuukka Rask was chased from the Bruins net in the third period after Gally made it 5-3 good guys.

And as the season wears on, if Magilla Lucilla doesn’t seriously injure Emelin, I’ll be surprised. Bruins coach Claude Julien, if he has proper balls, should harness this thug. And while he’s at it, bench the despicable Brad Marchand, who at one point shoved his stick between P.K.’s legs.

That’s sounds rude in a couple of ways, doesn’t it?

On second thought, Julien should leave both alone. Their constant brain farts will sink this Bruins team.

A grand night at the Bell, the Canadiens home opener, with the scoring nicely spread around. Gally with two goals and an assist. Max – a goal and two assists. Parenteau with two goals. Pleks, DD, and Emelin all with two assists. And Chucky, Bourque, and Tinordi with an assist each.

Just one small concern, although I’m sure it’ll be ironed out in no time because we’ve learned before to chill out when this happens. Carey Price has allowed 14 goals in his not quite four games played.

Nothing to fret about. Price is starting slow and soon enough will pick up steam. I’m sure about that.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal, Boston 29, Montreal 26.

Next up – Saturday, when Colorado pays a visit.

Summer Notes From Habsville

A number of things happened Habs-wise this summer, the most surprising being I was able to decipher the notes I’d made regarding the things that happened Habs-wise this summer.

Gone are Daniel Briere, Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Tomas Vanek, Ryan White, Douglas Murray, George Parros, and anthem singer Charles Prevost Linton.

Francis Bouillon, at this writing, remains stranded on the desert island named Limbo. Douglas Murray’s island is slowly sinking. George Parros’ island is somewhere near the lost continent of  Atlantis.

White now finds himself in Philadelphia where one of his jobs will be to protect captain Claude Giroux from grabbing police officers’ buttocks, and Bouillon’s future seems secure. If he doesn’t find a hockey job, the City of Montreal is ready to step in and make him a fire hydrant.

Auditions are now in process for the anthem singing gig. Unfortunately, management, with a somewhat prickly attitude, has informed me that I’m not allowed to be singer AND stick boy.

Forward P.A. Parenteau, from Colorado in exchange for Briere, is now part of the family, and Gorges and Gionta aren’t, as the two UFAs were picked up by Buffalo, a place Gionta is probably happy about being. Gorges, maybe not as much, considering it’s Buffalo.

Parenteau is 31 and hopefully more effective than Briere, who is on the verge (Oct. 7th) of becoming 37. Gorges’ passion and shot blocking will be missed. Gionta’s captaincy will be replaced in a year or two, and until then, Max, Markov, Pleks and P.K. will serve as assistant captains.

In the spirit of fairness, Markov, with the most seniority, should be the one to accept the Stanley Cup from Mr. Bettman next spring.

Signings this summer involved free  agents Manny Malhotra (1-year, from Carolina), Tom Gilbert (2-years, from Florida), and goaltender Joey MacDonald (1-year, from Calgary). And Jiri Sekac from the KHL Lev Praha squad signed a two-year entry level deal.

Those with new contracts include P.K. Subban, at 9 million a year for 8 years. Apparently there is no truth to the rumour that P.K. has bought the Sun Life Building in downtown Montreal to use as his winter residence, so you can stop thinking about that.

Regulars Andrei Markov (3 years), Dale Weise (2-year extension), Mike Weaver (1 year), Lars Eller (4 years), and coach Michel Therrien (4-year extension), also penned their names on paper.

Chosen in the 2014 Entry draft, 26th overall, was Moscow-born Nikita Scherbak, who looks, speaks, and plays like a young Alex Galchenyuk, who’s a grizzled old guy now.

Assistant coach Gerard Gallant is now the head guy in Florida and replaced by Montreal native Dan Lacroix.

Lacroix helped out behind the Rangers bench last year, and if it was he who advised the despicable Chris Kreider to run Carey Price and then Dustin Tokarski, he should be hung by the thumbs outside a Bell Centre window for several hours, and then be forced to teach our guys (aside from Brendan Gallagher) how to run goalies too.

Player Development guru Patrice Brisebois leaves and replaced by former NHLer Rob Ramage. And Trevor Timmins has had the title “Vice President of Player Personnel” added to his “Director of Amateur Scouting” handle.

Timmins is widely respected, particularly in Northern Ontario where they named a small city after him.

Former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, an ultra-talented battler if there ever was one, retired after 1124 regular season games played, with his last 5 seasons in Anaheim and 13 years and one lockout season with Montreal before that. Thank you Saku, for all you did for the Montreal Canadiens and the city. Which was plenty.

And finally, Mensa member Brad Marchand mentioned that he dislikes Tomas Plekanec quite a bit. “Anybody who spells “Thomas” without  an “H” is a rotten bastard”, said Brad.

Other things could happen in the days and weeks too. If so, just mentally paste them to this.

Bell Number Eight?

Hard to believe that seeing a game at the Bell Centre only ranks number 8 behind Minnesota, Washington, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and New York, but that’s what the Stadium Journey people have decided in their new 2014 rankings.

I was sure there was no better experience than being at the Bell. In fact I’m still sure, regardless of what they say. Number 8 definitely beats Ottawa though, which comes in at a dismal 29th.

Here’s the link with new ratings for all the barns – Stadium Journey Arena Rankings.

Habs Unreal (In A Bad Way)

Not much to chat about here.

Not after the Habs sucked more than the septic truck that used to come on the Island Sky ferry and suck the gook out of the tanks.

They don’t want home ice advantage and I don’t blame them. It’s an extra night of not having to endure the blaring techno music the Bell Centre pipes out.

The Canadiens played what was basically an AHL team on Thursday night, the New York Islanders with 11 or 12 raw rookies in the lineup, including 3 AHL defensemen. But it didn’t look like it.

The home team couldn’t score even once. They were bottled up all night. They were confused and uninspired and hopefully the wives make them sleep on the couch tonight.

Blanked 2-0 by the Islanders, who played a great game. The Habs played like the septic truck on the ferry.

But I’m not concerned. They were skating well just 24 hours prior in Chicago. And we’ve seen them flat like this before. Not even Didier Pitre knows why.

Random Notes:

Tampa Bay beat the Flyers 4-2, so they’re doing the right things on the verge of the playoffs, as opposed to what the Canadiens are doing.

They’re saving their motivation for next week.

Douglas Murray slammed Johan Sundstrom head first into the boards, got tossed, and a suspension is a distinct possibility, coming just after he sat for three games for an elbow to the head of Tampa’s Michael Kostka on April 1st.

George Parros was in another scrap, and once again it was nothing to write home about. When we got this guy, I thought we were getting a brute. Instead, we got a paler-skinned Georges Laraque with a mustache.

Both Islanders goals came on the power play.

Shots on goal – Islanders 30, Habs 19.

Luci and I are heading to Quebec City for the weekend. Hopefully there’s a good sports bar near our hotel on the edge of the Plains of Abraham to watch the Canadiens smash the Rangers and Max notch his 40th.

 

 

Thump, Thump, Thump

The Bell Centre is certainly a fine place to see a hockey game. Lively and knowlegeable fans, lots of banners in the rafters, the big CHs at centre ice, Habs jerseys everywhere.

Joie de vivre all around. Go Habs go!

Great to be at. Sensational when the team wins. The best rink on the planet to see a game.

But is the techno music ever freaking loud in there. Maybe it’s why aging ex-Habs aren’t always seen now. They’re probably either at home or in the alumni room, where they can hear themselves think.

Thump, thump, thump, assaulting the eardrums, blasting away. Parents put ear protection on their kids. Adults should wear them too.  The Bell should hand out ear plugs to fans coming in.

I wouldn’t be surprised if those scanned Forum pictures on the walls start falling down.

How come there’s no Stompin’ Tom anymore? How come it has to be this nightclub techno stuff? Stuff that doesn’t stir the soul. Or my soul at least.

I’m sure I’m completely unhip about this. But I’ve done my share of cranking up the tunes, sometimes maybe even causing slight tidal waves on Lake Couchiching. But that was in rooms with not a hockey game within miles.

Am I just too uncool for words?

And while I’m at it – how come I don’t see any programs now?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to loosen my suspenders, crank up my Al Jolson’s Greatest Hits album on the fancy phonograph, and groove in the rocking chair until it’s time for my nap.

 

 

Could’ve But Didn’t

Bell

Luci and I were at the Bell Centre today to see the Canadiens drop a 2-1 overtime decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and as you can see, we were up fairly high.

But having said that, it was still way closer than most seats at NHL outdoor games.

And not only that, we got to see two goals down at our end. Daniel Briere’s in the the third period that tied the game at one, and P.K. Subban’s deflection in the second that put the Lightning up by one in the first place.

On a Habs power play no less.

I’m not mad at P.K. for that big Lightning goal in a game that featured almost no scoring. We’ve seen goals like that over the years from different players.

It’s a natural instinct to stick the stick out when the puck’s near the goal.

As long as he never does it again. Once, maybe twice, in a career is enough thank you very much.

It just wasn’t a barn burner, which is what one hopes for when going to a game. Montreal got chances only here and there, and I found myself glancing often at the scoreboard that showed cute babies in little Habs jerseys asleep in mom or dad’s arms.

I wanted to see a madhouse, people all around me yelling and screaming, but it wasn’t to be. The team just didn’t provide enough incentive to raise the roof.

The Lightning had more opportunities, but Carey Price, who was awarded the Molson Cup for January beforehand, was sparkling often.

The Canadiens still could’ve won it though, it they’d created more chances. But as has been the case so often, the hammer wasn’t down a lot. Maybe one of those little kid’s hammers, but not the big honkin’ workingman’s hammer.

After Briere’s goal in the third, the boys picked it up a notch or two and went hard in overtime. P.K. Subban weaved and wove like he was on a mission to correct his own-net goal, but although we oohed and aahhed, nothing much came to pass.

And  it was all for naught, because with 24 seconds left in overtime, the puck found its way behind Price and that was it.

They got a point and we made our way to Ste-Catherines where we drowned our sorrows with smoked meat at Reuben’s.

Random Notes:

Brandon Prust was in a scrap with Jean-Philippe Cote early in the first, and then late in the second, he and Lightning goalie Ben Bishop had a slight disagreement, as it appeared Bishop didn’t appreciate Prust telling him his mother wears army boots.

Carey Price skated up to get a closer looked and was given a penalty for leaving the crease.

Christian Thomas saw some action for the Habs in just his second NHL game and was given 8:16 seconds of ice time, just 25 seconds less than Briere.

A kid sat beside P.A. announcer Michel Lacroix and read the Habs starting lineup.

I have a beef here. A serious beef. I’ve been trying for more than 50 years to be stick boy for one game. And some kid who’s been a Habs fan for only a couple of years gets to read the lineup?

Michel Lacroix has an excellent voice. For me, he’s as good as Claude Mouton was.

Shots on goal TB 36, Habs 29.

Next up – Sunday at 1 pm again, only this time it’s the Winnipeg Jets.

 

Dodger Stadium

Big outdoor game at Dodger Stadium tonight between the Kings and Ducks and I know, I’m terrible person. What else could I be when deep down inside me I hope someday the ice melts at one of these outdoor games.

It’s goes against all the raving about how great these spectacles are. I don’t why I’m like this. I deserve to be pricked with a Polo Lounge swizzle stick.

Somehow they can make and maintain NHL ice in 70 degree weather. Some rinks, like the Bell Centre, don’t have room on the bench for the backup goalie. But they can make ice at Dodger Stadium.

It took awhile, 50 years in fact, but I finally saw a ball game at Dodger Stadium two summers ago, in 2012. Talk about crossing something off the bucket list.

When I was a kid I thought Los Angeles was just one big ‘Leave It To Beaver’ set, with peaceful, crime-free and clean streets, where bikini-clad Annette Funicello-types danced around bongo-playing surfers on nearby beaches, and where everybody’s houses were nicer than my house.

It took me a few years but I found out I was slightly off on all this.

But I always knew, without question, that the ballpark was the real deal.

I originally wanted to go to Dodger Stadium mostly, I think, because there were palm trees in the background, behind the outfield bleachers. And I guess the fact that the team had Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale back then, along with speedy Maury Wills, big 6’7″ Frank Howard at first base, and kindly old Walter Alston calling the shots. That was then, but long after these guys had called it quits, the place still held huge mystique for me. And I finally went.

Dodger Stadium is a real big-league ballpark, a beautiful place to see a game, unlike that cavernous echo chamber in Montreal named Olympic Stadium. Maybe if Montreal had the stadium L.A. has, the Expos might still be there.

On the night we were at the place, which is also called Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers were trying to catch the Cardinals for a NL wild-card spot, but the Cards disappointed most of the 43,309 fans by squeaking out a 2-1 win and making things very difficult for the Dodger’s postseason hopes. But being given nice fleece Dodgers blankets on our way in softened the blow, and the seats, somewhat.

Great Game, Great Win

A rootin’ tootin’ doozy of a game at the Bell Centre, with the boys in red beating the defending Stanley Cup champions 2-1  in overtime when Andre Markov buried the puck and the Chicago Blackhawks with his second goal of the game.

An Original Six matchup that captured everything the original Original Six would muster – great goaltending at both ends, lots of scoring chances, end to end action, tremendously close calls, the fans into it in a big way.

If only Danny Gallivan had called the game. It was all we were missing.

Unless I’m forgetting something, this had to be the best game at the Bell Centre this year, or at least the most exciting, which, I suppose, is one in the same. The guys were alive. They came to play and they got it done.

I’ll bet the downtown Montreal bars were hopping for hours after, filled with good vibrations and cheer.

And what a confidence booster it could be for the Canadiens, seeing that they can compete against a fine team after getting taught some harsh lessons from L.A. and St. Louis last month. Forget the bad ones and remember the good. And then do it again more often.

A revitalized Alexei Emelin, who hasn’t been his normal self lately, snapped out of it and went out and thumped several Hawks, including a beauty on Patrick Kane that very well may have charged up an already charged-up team that would ultimately carry through to the end.

Brendan Gallagher found himself in a scrap with Kris Versteeg that of course put smiles on faces, with Gallagher, at 5’9, holding his own with the 5’11 Versteeg. It’s not often we see Gally squaring off like that, and it was another moment to make us all realize that the Canadiens were fired up for this game.

Chances came fast and furious, including some beauties when the Canadiens were shorthanded, with Plekanec and Prust coming close, and then Eller, who had it in the bag until a sprawling Corey Crawford got his skate on it. It was a great save, but a tad lucky too. And that’s no slight on Crawford, who was excellent for his team.

So close with all those chances, and yet so far, as the Hawks would tie this barnburner in the third after first having a goal disallowed because of a player in the blue paint interfering with Price, and with just over a minute to go, rang a puck off the post which almost sealed it.

But they didn’t seal it, and in overtime, Andrei Markov, from a deflected pass from Max Pacioretty, bulged the twine behind a screened Corey Crawford, and Habs fans rejoiced, especially Luci, who may have damaged my left eardrum. I enjoyed it in slightly quieter fashion.

What an enigmatic Habs team. They sleepwalked and were generally quite pathetic in Philly on Wednesday, and a few days later play a dandy against a tremendously strong Chicago Blackhawks squad. We just never know what to expect, even though for the last month they’ve been on the listless side, which more and more we’ve come to expect.

Saturday night they came to play, and let’s hope this is a springboard for a strong rest of the season.

It was a complete team effort which begs the question – why don’t they play like this more often?

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Hawks 38-20 and although Crawford had more work, Price was equally outstanding.

George Parros dressed and was on the ice for 3:33.

Next up – Tuesday, when the New Jersey Devils visit. Some real big games coming up after that but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

 

Just A Little Pep Talk

Hardly any difference between the Canadiens and the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, who face off tonight at the Bell Centre (7 pm ET).

The teams are so close it’s mind-boggling, as you can see from the top six point-getters on both teams.

Kane – 54
Sharp -47
Toews – 45
Keith – 43
Hossa – 35
Seabrook – 31

Subban – 33
Plekanec – 28
Max – 26
Gionta -23
Galchenyuk – 23
Markov – 21

Hardly any difference.

Can the Canadiens beat this team that has 67 points to Montreal’s 55, with five guys with more points than our top guy?

I’m saying of course they can, because I’m a optimist, always have been, a Habs fan through thick and thin, and although I get angry at them and want to send up the St. Lawrence and out to sea now and again, the only way I know how to be a fan is to stick with them, keep hoping, and on a night when they play the defending Stanley Cup champions, cross my fingers and hope the power play clicks and guys who’ve been in scoring funks put it together.

Making they’ll play great! Put three solid periods together. Turn the Bell Centre into a riproaring madhouse, with everyone whoopin’ and hollerin’.

C’mon Canadiens, give us one of those games. We know you can do it.