Category Archives: Brendan Gallagher

Three Straight!

three

Six points from a line on fire, and the Canadiens rack up their third straight win by beating a solid Tampa Bay Lightning squad 4-2.

Tomas Plekanec, who came to life last Saturday against Edmonton when he notched a four-point night, once again rocked and rolled against Tampa, and ended the evening with a pair of goals and a helper.

Linemates Brendan Gallagher collected a goal and an assist and Alex Galchenyuk an assist, and it doesn’t take a brilliant rocket scientist like P.J. Stock to know that when the guns come alive, the team will thrive.

Just a bit more from a few others would be nice. But this a big breakthrough regardless. Three wins in a row beats three wins in a whole month, as they managed in sad fashion in both December and January.

But that was then, this is now. And it just feels a whole lot better. I’m so alive I find myself with a little extra bounce in my step during those dozen or so trips to the bathroom to pee.

Maybe it’s too late to play playoff spot catch-up, or maybe not. It’d be nice to see Boston, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey, the teams in front of the Canadiens, do the nosedive shuffle. (Boston was bombed 9-2 tonight by L.A., which is downright hilarious, don’t you think?).

To see the team put together a handful of wins makes my heart soar. Really soar. You’d be surprised how much it’s soaring.

I like to think that Nathan Beaulieu’s pounding of Cedric Paquette early in the first period put things on track, as a fight will do sometimes.

They’re rare to see now, but really, what’s wrong with a good old fist to face with blood sprayed all over the place? It’s another thing that makes my heart soar.

Brendan Gallagher would soon after open the scoring, while in the second, after Tampa had scored just 40 seconds in, Pleks would weave his magic the first of two times.

And with only 8 seconds remaining in the middle frame, PK Subban twisted and turned and sent the puck in off Devante Smith-Pelly to give the Habs a solid 3-1 lead.

In the third, Pleks faked out a confused d-man and Ben Bishop to widen the gap to 4-1, and although Tampa would score another, that was it. A big win to keep hopes and dreams alive.

And it all started with Nathan Beaulieu delivering a couple of nasty rights to the face of Cedric Paquette.

Random Notes:

Ben Scrivens, in net for all three wins, was once again excellent.

Both Beaulieu and Brian Flynn left the game in the second period, never to return. Beaulieu was hurt blocking a shot, while Flynn appeared to do major damage to his leg.

Tampa outshot Montreal 39-27.

Next up – Friday, when the boys visit beautiful downtown Buffalo.

 

 

Canadiens Come Up Big

celebrate

I’ll try to contain myself. But it was the Habs’ finest game since they pasted the Boston Bruins 5-1 at the Winter Classic on January 1st.

On this day, it was a 5-1 blasting of the Edmonton Oilers at the Bell Centre!I almost felt like singing the obnoxious Olé song, but not quite.

The win gives me quivers down my backbone. I’m not shakin’ all over, but I feel faint hope. I feel like deep in the innards of the slump beast sits a good team.

And all we can do is wait until tomorrow (2:30 ET) to see if the boys can keep it going, or if they come up flat once again like they’ve been so good at doing. But for now, Go Habs Go!

Their losing has always been a matter of players relied upon not being relied upon. If key guys were on their game more often, they wouldn’t be in this pickle.

Today, Tomas Plekanec stepped out of his season-long slumber (although he does have the team’s second highest point tally – 39, which isn’t saying much), and supplied a goal and three assists.

The Czech enigma displayed some serious life, and maybe the rust and dust has been shaken free and we’ll see more from this key guy.

The team has needed Pleks during dark days and he hasn’t been there, but today he was the Plekanec of old. Maybe he remembered the tips I gave him last year in Montreal at an autograph signing.

Now it’s time for Max Pacioretty to shake his hangover and come through for us on more of a regular basis. And Galchenyuk and Weise and DD and on and on.

Guys need to show up like Pleks did today. Four-point nights might be asking too much, but regardless.

Fine goaltending from Ben Scrivens, who recorded his first win as a Hab in five starts, and goals from Gallagher, Eller, Pleks, PK, and Tom Gilbert of all people (his first of the season), and the boys were too much for Connor McDavid and the Oilers.

A beautiful sight. A clobbering of the team that had rolled over Ottawa 7-2 the night before, by a team in the midst of a struggle to recover from the most gruesome of slumps.

Today, it was the team we’ve been looking for after two months of pure mediocrity. They showed fire, but like I said, I need to contain myself. Tomorrow’s another day, but if they look good against Carolina, I just might be whoopin’ and hollerin’.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Edmonton 35-24.

It’ll be interesting to see if Scrivens plays on Sunday after his fine showing today.

Connor McDavid is some kind of young player. Imagine if he wore the CH?

Below –  Prust, me, and Plekanec, last year in Montreal. Gallagher and Max were there too. Sadly, their wives and girlfriends weren’t.

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Bombed By Bottom Feeders

sinking

I’m assuming the Canadiens wandered into Columbus feeling renewed and re-energized after beating the Leafs last Saturday.

The start of something better. Good times are here again!

And then they get trounced 5-2 by the worst team in the league.

Downward they go. Where they stop, nobody knows.

They’re playing with my head, these people. Stop the season, I wanna get off. Pathetic, soft, unorganized bunch of multi-millionaires, playing with my emotions.

A friend today told me about a game he used to play when he lived in New Guinea. Darts, using a real dart gun. Sounds excellent.

This is going to be my new favourite sport, because I can’t handle what the Habs are doing to me. And maybe I’ll put a picture of the team on the dartboard.

I thought, before tonight, that they could finally win two in a row after not doing so since November. After all, it was only the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

And the Canadiens play these same BJs in Montreal on Tuesday, so it was probably going to be three in a row.

A beautiful winning streak to make us happy. And then they’re blasted 5-2 and a dagger gets rammed into my already battered heart.

Can it get any sadder?

Can life be any better for Habs haters?

Random Notes:

Habs outshot Columbus 34-25 and were 1/3 on the power play.

Montreal’s goals came from Gally and PK, with PK’s a big blast from outside the blueline.

Two posts were hit, by Eller and Petry. I’m grasping at straws here.

 

 

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.

Eaten By Sharks

shark

For those of you who find a whack of Habs game blacked out in your area over the course of the season, I can only offer one suggestion. Move to Powell River.

Yes, Powell River, where all 82 games, whether they’re on RDS or Sportsnet or whatever, are shown. I don’t know why. It’s good, though.

Okay, it’s not always good.

Like tonight, when the Canadiens fell 3-1 to the San Jose Sharks at the Bell Centre, and which becomes six losses in the last eight games.

The slump continues, regardless of the win over the Ottawa Senators when they fired 27 shots at the enemy net in the first period alone.

I suppose I could say the obvious. We need Carey Price back.

Dustin Tokarski wasn’t good, allowing three goals on 12 shots, and replaced by Mike Condon midway through the second period.

Imagine Toker now. He’d started the previous two games, played well, including a nice job in his team’s 3-1 win over Ottawa, and could sniff a possible return to the show after almost blowing it permanently to Mike Condon.

Now he’s back to square one. Replaced by Condon again. That’s a stay awake pill if there ever was one.

It has to be a tough life being a backup. Jason LaBarbera might say so. LaBarbera, currently in the Philadelphia system, has bounced back and forth between the NHL and the minors, mostly as a backup, for sixteen years, and says he’s had 16 different goalie coaches along the way. And almost every year he packs up the wife and kids and moves to a new city and a new team.

But backup goalies are backups for a reason. They’ve got the tools but they’re inconsistent. It must be frustrating for all of them.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot San Jose 27-18.

Dale Weise, with his tenth of the season, was the Habs’ lone scorer.

Torrey Mitchell played his first game since Nov. 19th when he suffered a lower body injury against Phoenix.

Carey Price was introduced to the crowd and looked happy, healthy, and rested. Earlier today (Tuesday), Price was named winner of the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s athlete of the year.

Next up – Thursday, when it’s the L.A. Kings in town.

 

 

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.

 

 

Bell Smell

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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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Habs Senatized

Sens

I downloaded a free app called Fresh Paint and the picture above is my first stab at it after being confused for several days.

I painted the cross, not the Sens logo of course, plus that little red blob over on the right which was an accident.

I feel the red blob somehow represents Mark Stone, on the outside looking in, currently sitting out a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Detroit’s Landon Ferraro, and who is probably still recovering from his near-death experience when the evil PK Subban tapped him on the wrist last year.

A trooper, that’s what he is.

I’ll bet Landon’s pop Ray Ferraro  wouldn’t mind tapping this trooper.

Canadiens fell 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Ottawa Senators, although they carried most of the play and outshot the obnoxious pricks 37-27.

But it wasn’t to be as Max and Tomas Plekanec were caught during the newly installed three on three overtime, leaving Jeff Petry to fend off three oncoming Sens, and that was that. Bam. Kyle Turris ended it just 34 seconds in.

This loss is just the Canadiens third of the season, Michael Condon’s first in his five starts, and the first game to go beyond regulation time for the boys. It’s a loss but not something to lose sleep over. They played well, but Craig Anderson, between the pipes for the Sens, did too.

Now it’s time to focus on the N.Y. Islanders, who check into the Bell on Thursday.

In my world, a loss isn’t a disaster, but another after that is getting there, and another after that sucks to kingdom come.

So we need a win on Thursday to avoid all that.

Random Notes:

Dale Weise, with his seventh of the year, scored Montreal’s lone goal. Weise is now tied with Max for goals scored.

Montreal’s power play went 1/3. They also gave up a shorthanded goal to J-G Pageau in the second frame which opened the scoring.

Lars Eller, I felt, played a fine game.

A Habs goal was called back in the first period when referee (and Habs nemesis) Chris Lee ruled that Brendan Gallagher interfered with Anderson in the crease. It was looked at, and the call stood.

I, however, disagree.