Category Archives: Bell Centre

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

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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.

 

For Whom The Bell Tolls

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Terrific review of the Bell Centre and the area in Montreal around it, from a monthly publication, Stadium Journey Magazine, which publishes reviews of sports stadiums from around the world.

They’ve been busy. To date they’ve reviewed 1,729 different stadiums in 37 countries.

That’s a lot of stadiums.

Here’s the link – Stadium Journey. They break down the Bell, including the beer, food, atmosphere, some obstructed areas in the nosebleeds, prices, the great fans, and lots more.

And a small sampling of their review:

Montréal is a city that truly knows how to embrace the joie de vivre; the joy of living. It is a city that has so much to do, and for hockey fans, seeing the Canadiens play should be high on the list. Don’t be put off by fans who lament the new arena in comparison to the old Forum. The Centre Bell is a rarity in the modern world of sport in that it is truly home to the Canadiens and to no other team. This is an arena that has worn off its new-arena smell and has worked its way into the magnificent history it does so well to showcase.

Fourth Line’s Turn

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Brandon Prust, Ryan White, and Travis Moen enjoyed a fine game Saturday night as the Canadiens downed the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in front of folks of all ages, sizes, religious beliefs, good hair, bad hair, and Luci and I.

How nice it is to see the fourth line chip in in a big way. If the guys with good hands aren’t getting it done, the grinders step up. That’s how teams win. When the usual suspects are flat, others aren’t. It’s why teams are called teams.

And even though the boys could have easily blown it to the basement dwelling Sabres, they didn’t, which is the bottom line.

Five straight wins. They’ve caught Pittsburgh in the east for top of the pops. Winning while not exactly setting the world on fire. I wish we were still downtown right now celebrating.

Personally speaking, what an excellent day. This is what living in Montreal can be about. If you want my advice, I say move to Montreal. How hard could it be? Just do it and then we can all eat smoked meat and get lost together.

A fine day, capped off by the Habs winning. I just wish I could figure out a straight and easy route back to the south shore. It seems I can’t, no matter how many times I try.

We parked under the Sun Life Building ($7) early in the afternoon, walked down Ste. Catherines Streets to Bishop, had a Guinness at the Irish Embassy Pub, then headed to the gigantic Bay where I sat in women’s wear for 45 minutes while Luci checked things out, and I have to tell you, if you think it’s a piece of cake hanging out in the bra department, then you’ve never done it.

It sounds good but trust me, it’s not.

Being in this women’s world is like being on a different planet. Women all over the place, strolling around with underwear in their hands. It’s not something I want to do again anytime soon. I’m still recovering.

So many different kinds of brassieres hanging all over the place. Hundreds of them. Like walking in to a Nevada brothel. Or Kim Kardashian’s closet.

After the Bay, it was over to Reuben’s for smoked meat, then down to the Bell Centre to chat with scalpers where we got an idea of things, didn’t rush into anything, left and sat in McLean’s Pub for awhile where we came up with a plan of attack.

Then we went back and scored two tickets in the last row of the section 103, close to cost price, and which were near the blueline with the steps to our seats right in front of us so we had nobody blocking our view and could even stretch our legs.

Something like what flying first class must be all about.

Going to the Bell might be old hat for you, but not for us, mainly because we lived 3000 miles away up until recently. But it was a beautiful evening, the boys won, and I don’t care that P.K. has seen much better nights and the team in general looked quite lousy. At least we saw them lousy live.

It’s two points, and we savored the experience from start to finish – the siren, the anthem, the sound of puck hitting stick and boards, the crazy bunch up in the nosebleeds, the flag kids, the sights and smells all around us, the salty popcorn, and for me – the abundance of urinals in the men’s room not far away.

Random Notes:

Andrei Markov seemed to hurt his knee but finished the game. But it was scary to see and hopefully he doesn’t wake up tomorrow and it’s ballooned to twice the size.

Buffalo outshot Canadiens 25-19. The Sabres’ second goal saw a guy named Girgensons waltz around P.K. with the greatest of ease. P.K. also took a “holding the stick” penalty which is an infraction that makes me cringe. Hate those penalties. C’mon P.K., smarten up.

Brandon Prust and Tomas Plekanec both had a goal and assist, Travis Moen had a couple of assists, Ryan White added an assist, and Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner which caused a young lady above us to scream like she was at a Beatles concert.

Next up – Kings on Tuesday at the Bell, which should prove interesting. Will the Canadiens pick their game up a notch or two? And who will be the next lucky couple to sit in section 103, row w, seats 3 and 4?

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Habs Lose Fourth In A Row

Winless in November. Four straight losses and falling.

All because they’ve stopped scoring. The Canadiens have bulged the twine just seven times in four games. Joe Malone once scored seven in one game.

They do this to us every year. Most of the team decides to go for a coffee break at the same time. Cripes, they’re not cops. Can’t they go at different times?

Imagine if three lines were contributing on the scoresheet. Even two. The team wouldn’t be in this pickle. And the pickle means very shortly finding themselves out of a playoff spot.

But at least the kids showed some fire, especially Brendan Gallagher, and thankfully P.K. had some fine moments. But if I were to list guys who have stopped producing, I might run out of internet space. (And Ian Sirota is right, Gallagher was in the box four times, which isn’t good).

Andrie Markov opened the scoring in the first period, set up by P.K. and Plekanec, but just 28 seconds later Bobby Ryan tied it for Ottawa, and all the good work the Canadiens had put in up until that point began to fade away. And in the second frame, Ottawa scored a pair just 36 seconds apart and the way the Habs artillery has dried up, coming back from a 3-1 deficit was way too much to expect.

Especially when Montreal took two terrible penalties late in the game – Rene Bourque, who had a lousy night in general, for holding a stick at 11:30 of the third, and Michael Bournival for wrapping his stick around someone’s throat at 14:50.

An empty netter in the dying seconds made it 4-1 for Ottawa and as they say, Gaston’s your uncle.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal  – Habs 34, Sens 24.

Next up – Sunday, when the Islanders hit the Bell.