Category Archives: Brendan Gallagher

Habs Take Out Bruins

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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.

Wicked Late-Game Magic

Whew! I needed to go outside and feel some cool air. I overheated during the last hour of the Flyers-Canada’s Team showdown.

Habs sadly behind 3-0 in the third to the always tough Flyers, and then suddenly, like magic, the jets got turned on, the game became tied, and it was won in overtime when P.A. Parenteau capped off the sensational comeback.

Now that’s hockey.

I wonder what was said in the dressing room between the second and third period. Whatever it was, it worked. Who needs a captain anyway?

Through two frames the Canadiens were outshot 27-18. They seemed to be going nowhere. The Flyers were skating and it was one of those games where we tell ourselves that they can’t win every night.

Trying to be realistic. Hate that but sometimes it has to be.

But in the final frame, the “can’t win every night” theory got thrown out the window once again. The Flying Third Period Men flew like the wind, played like they knew it wasn’t over by a long shot, dominated those orange eyesores, chipped away, and it went like this:

Markov from the blueline at 7.05 and it was 3-1. Plekanec bulged the top of the twine at 9.12 and became 3-2. And at 14.40, Galchenyuk converted Pleks’ pass and the game was tied.

It was amazing. The never-say-die kids were back on even terms, the Flyers’ heads must’ve been spinning, and the final salt was added to the wound in the shootout when, after Chucky, DD, and Gally couldn’t solve Ray Emery and no Flyer at the other end could slip one by Price,  Parenteau finally ended it and the team skated off with an incredible 4-3 win.

Three straight wins for the Canadiens to start the season. Late game heroics. And in the end, after being outshot in the first two frames, the team managed 38 shots to the Flyers’ 32.

It’s a beautiful thing if you’re a Habs fan, but now we need to see a game where they outplay the opposition for three periods. This kind of magic can’t go on forever.

Against Toronto, Pleks scored the winner with just 43 seconds remaining. In Washington, Pleks in the third and then Gally in the shootout gave them a 2-1 win.

Saturday night, Pleks scored his team’s second goal to keep things rolling. Fellow countryman, rookie Jiri Sekac, must be in awe.

Other than the six points in three games and the sheer pleasure involved, the power play now needs to get in gear. It was 0-2 against Toronto, 0-5 against Washington, and against Philly – 0-3.

The Canadiens have won three straight without a single power play goal. But we know it’s coming. Yes we do.

Random Notes:

Galchenyuk burst in on a clear cut breakaway in overtime but was stopped cold by Emery, and in the preceding shootout, Chucky tried the exact same move – a little move to his right, again foiled by Emery.

Next up – in Tampa on Monday. Grab a nice win there boys, then come home for some home cooking, a familiar bed, and some very pleased fans.

Toker Comes Up Big

Not a great start for the Montreal Canadiens in Washington, outshot in the first period 15-2, and maybe looking only slightly less lethargic in the second.

But with Dustin Tokarski holding the fort and the team playing slightly better as the night wore on, all it took was one goal in regulation and several in the shootout and the first two games are in the bag with four points collected.

Flat they were, for the first half at least. They played like Monica Lewinsky had woke them up from their afternoon naps at the hotel. But you could see their legs moving well in the third while down just a goal, and soon enough, Canada’s team, those Montreal Canadiens, found a way to get it done.

Did the Brandon Prust fight with Liam O’Brien in the second period liven up the bench? Was it the no-goal by P.A. Parenteau, called back because of Rene Bourque clipping Braden Holtby’s pad, that got them thinking they should probably pull up their socks?

Maybe a small bush fire got lit, because soon after, Tomas Plekanec took a great pass from Alex Galchenyuk and wired it, and game was even at one after three periods.

All the way through, Toker came up big and gave his team a fine chance to win, and when the game went to a shootout, he finally got some help from Chucky, Desharnais, and in the end, Gallagher, and the team skated off with a win that had to have the Caps and their fans shaking their heads at the unfairness of the universe.

Now it’s onwards to Philadelphia to meet the Flyers on Saturday night. It’s a tough early part of the schedule for Montreal. After Philly it’s the Lightning on Monday, then home to face the Bruins on Thursday.

But the 2014-15 Montreal Canadiens can do it, because they’re the 2014-15 Montreal Canadiens.

Random Notes:

Total shots on goal after that dismal 15-2 first period – Washington 30, Montreal 24.

Alexei Emelin went to the room in the third and if he returned I didn’t notice. Hopefully all’s well.

I watched the game on Sportsnet 360 and I have to say what a breath of fresh air it was listening to John Bartlett, Jason York, and from time to time Chantal Desjardins, after the three hour announcer/Leafs love-in on Wednesday.

Bartlett and York actually discussed the merits of the Habs often. How unique is that? And Chantal Desjardins has such a classy and professional delivery, just a wonderful way of speaking. I have a crush on Chantal’s voice.

Habs/Leafs Set To Blast Off

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Gally and Chucky are a tad older now (although, on the downside, Andrei Markov and Mike Weaver are too), the Canadiens are coming off some postseason deepness and liking it, and sixteen skaters (counting newcomer Eric Tangradi), are at least six feet tall.

The size factor has zoomed up considerably with Brian Gionta, Daniel Briere, and most recently Francis Bouillon, no longer in the picture. In fact, the roster, as it stands now, lists 11 guys all at 6’2″, which in my eyes is darn close to the perfect hockey player size.

It’s not that small guys can’t be key contributors. They certainly can be and it would be nonsense to say otherwise. But when there’s an abundance of small guys on one team, the team will often get bounced around like Brad Marchand’s three brain cells when the going gets rough.

It seems the Canadiens also have a nice balance of guys of young and not-quite-so-young. In fact, unless something changes, it’s only Gallagher, Galchenyuk, Bournival, Beaulieu, Tinordi, and Jiri Sekac under 25 years old, and it’s only Weaver, 36, Markov, 35, and Manny Malhotra, 34, as the overly-wrinkled veterans.

Tweaks have been made (- http://dennis-kane.com/summer-notes-from-habsville/), and the Canadiens should be labeled a legitimate contender, which is a sensational feeling. Unless you hate them of course.

It begins on Wednesday when they play the worst sports franchise in North America.

Yes, against those wacky Leafs.

It was ESPN who named the Leafs the worst, with the decision based on affordability, coaching, fan relations, ownership (honesty and loyalty), players (effort and likability), stadium experience, bang for the buck (wins per fan dollars) and title track (championships won or expected).

Pretty sure it costs an arm and a leg to see the Laffs at the ACC. They’ve increased their ticket prices by 53% this year, with the average price being $423.65.

But at ticket outlet “Vivid Seats”, one can grab a pair to see them and the Habs battle from down low, centre ice for slightly more. Just $1213 a seat.

However, if you want to wait until, say January, when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the ACC, you can get a great seat through Vivid for just $385.00!

Likeable players? Probably not on this year’s team. But Johnny Bower has always seemed likeable. King Clancy. Some of the usherettes. I’m sure there’s more.

Stadium experience? I dunno. Are the hot dogs good?

Wins per fan dollar? The team hasn’t won much of anything in four and a half decades, which makes the fan dollar so low that when I do the math, the team should be paying the fans.

You can lump “wins per fan dollars and championships won or expected” together if you want. However which way you slice it, with these two categories being part of the criteria, ESPN should just hand the award to the Leafs permanently and come up with something new.

“Championships expected”? Yes, any year now, the Leafs will win the Cup. Said Don Rickles.

I don’t pay attention to the coaching and ownership so I can’t comment. I suppose they’re trying, but it’s the Maple Leafs they own or coach. How much trying can one do?

Habs and Laffs finally set to go. A big night for sure, even if one team is the worst franchise in North America.

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.

Ahoy Captain

It’s big stuff, this talk of the next Habs captain now that Brian Gionta has gone back to his home state.

The fact is, I don’t think anyone right now has what it takes for the role. Kind of sad, but in a few years, it’ll probably all become clear.

Of course, if someone is chosen this year, please forget that you ever saw this.

The names are tossed around. There’s Markov and Subban, and Plekanec and sometimes Max, and for some unknown reason, Brendan Gallagher keeps coming up. I don’t know why. But more about that later.

A captain’s not there just to make the fans happy that there is one. He has to have big time respect and admiration from teammates. They have to look up to him and learn from him. He has to lead by example. That’s why you never saw Howie Young or Sean Avery or Sergei Kostitsyn wear the C on any team.

A Canadiens captain needs to take Rene Bourque aside when Bourque is comatose and give him verbal smelling salts. He needs to tell P.K. to sometimes calm down, or chat now and again with Michel Therrien and politely mention that embarrassing P.K. in public might not be the coolest thing.

A leader of men. Classy, smart, and distinguished. The opposite of me.

The coaches rely on him to talk to teammates and guide and advise. He has to be great with the media and fans. He has to get along in fine fashion with the on-ice officials. Ask the zebras about the wife and kids. Explain politely that Brendan Prust’s fist into someone’s face was a natural reaction caused by the other player saying something uncalled for about the referee’s wife.

It would be great if the players voted on the wearer of the C but chances are it won’t be like that. Which could also lead to the delicate situation of the player being a bit of a brown noser, one of management’s pipelines. That sort of thing is for losers.

Of course that only happens with other teams, not the Habs. This is a team that rises above the nuttiness. There’s never nuttiness in Montreal, you know that.

Andrei Markov leads by example, that’s for sure, and the players, I think, truly respect him. He’s a hard worker, which a captain needs to be, and he’s been around since he paired with Sprague Cleghorn. But when it comes to the microphone or the PR stuff, it’s just doesn’t seem to be in him.

I know a bunch of his fellow countrymen, and most are cut from the same cloth. Reserved and not all great around anything remotely  resembling public attention. Except Lucy’s son Denis in St. Petersburg, who loves to ham it up when the camera’s out. But I think he’s an anomaly.

As much as I admire Markov, he’s not completely captain’s material. At least not in my book. But you might have a different book.

Same with Tomas Plekanec. Not great in front of the camera. Kind of a quiet guy I think. Not one to take a rookie aside and tell him to lay off the booze and broads. Or maybe he does, but surely not the way a Mark Messier or the Rocket would have handled it.

And if you say that’s old time, that this is now, so what? Because leaders are leaders, whether it’s 1914 or 2014.

As much as I like Pleks, and as much as Brad Marchand dislikes him, which is a definite bonus, he, like Markov, doesn’t have the makeup to be a true captain.

P.K. Subban will be a fine captain some day. He leads by example, he struts in public, and he’s fired up to win. He’s perfect in many ways. We don’t want a laid back captain. We just had one. But P.K. still has a bit of goofiness in him, probably what a captain shouldn’t have.

As much as P.K. is liked by his teammates, do they look up to him at this point the way young players in Chicago look up to Jonathan Toews, or in Anaheim to Ryan Getzlaf, or Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh?

Maybe after this season, after P.K. buys a few rounds, wins another Norris, and is voted Most Popular Guy on the Team by his teammates, then it’ll be time to put the C on him. He’s almost there. Just not quite.

The head scratcher for me is why Brendan Gallagher’s name comes up. As great a player he is, with a heart as big as can be, and a guy who would lead by example as a captain should, he’s still a kid. It’s obvious by the one minute interviews we see. He still talks like a kid. He was like a son to Josh Gorges and his wife when Gally rented a room at the Gorges resident.

Of course you could say Sidney Crosby roomed at Mario Lemieux’s house and was a captain at just 19, but these are two different personalities. I’m sure Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was also 19 when given the C, is a man/boy too. There are guys like that. I once had a teammate when I was about 15 who had to shave every day and had this serious man strength. He looked older than the coaches.

Imagine if everyone had his same burning desire as Gallagher. But he’s not captain material because he’s a kid and I don’t understand why it keeps coming up.

Max Pacioretty might make a fine captain, but it seems he gets into areas when he has to re-screw his head back on from time to time. He’s kind of like me in this regard only I probably take longer to recover. It’s not a knock on Max for having his up and down moments. It’s about a captain not having those moments. One who could help Max along when he’s feeling out of sorts.

A captain has to be a big brother. Jean Beliveau was good like this. He knew how to handle all sorts of egos in the dressing room. Max doesn’t seem to have this in his genes, nor does Markov, Plekanec, Gallagher, and P.K., although at least it seems that way to a guy who only watches them on TV and has never been in the room except during the Bell Centre tour.

The captain situation sort of mirrors the team situation. Getting there, but just not quite. I think it’ll be Subban wearing the C in the 2015-16 campaign if he doesn’t screw it up in the meantime by making his teammates want to throttle him.

It’ll interesting to see how this captain thing unfolds. Just wish we had an obvious choice.

 

 

So Close And Now So Far

The Canadiens fall 3-2 in overtime when Martin St. Louis beat Dustin Tokarski, but the Montrealers absolutely made it a game, although it took two and a half periods before it clicked in.

Imagine if the Habs’ non-contributors were contributing? But when a team gets by with just a handful playing well and still takes it into overtime, it says a lot.

The Rangers aren’t that good. We’re playing without half the team.

Too many periods in these 2014 playoffs when the Canadiens have been outplayed. And yet, another game that was so close, that could’ve gone in their favour.

How close? A puck rang off the inside of the post and out again from Alex Galchenyuk with three minutes left in the third that would’ve won it.

The series only a fraction of an inch from being tied, and now it’s a 3-1 lead for New York going back to Montreal. But many good things happened in that third to give us hope, because finally the boys in general came alive and pushed.

Not everyone, but many.

Just so disheartening. Losing in overtime. And seeing guys still not showing up.

One thing’s for sure. This isn’t the same P.K. Subban we saw in the Boston series, although he tied the game in the third on a shot from the point that appeared to deflect off Brendan Gallagher.

But he doesn’t have that swagger, that dangerous flamboyance that causes fans in other buildings to boo him. The MSG folks have had no reason to let him have it.

Maybe at some point we’ll hear why PK has slowed down. Maybe he’s burned out.

Again Thomas Vanek did very little and there’s no sense dwelling on this. He is what he is.

But having said that, if you haven’t yet come close to showing up and you’re in the third round of the playoffs, it’s a serious problem. And Vanek hasn’t shown up. We need him, and that’s why it’s so maddening.

DD showed up. Gally showed up. Francis Bouillon, inserted into the lineup in place of Nathan Beaulieu, tied the game at one in the second period with a nice shot. Weaver sacrificed his body for the team.

Lots of guys showed up, although for many, not until the third. But lots haven’t yet. The clock’s ticking, and if we don’t see all hands on deck on Tuesday, with everyone giving their all, then we know for sure this team has a ways to go yet before we start thinking about the big prize.

There are no passengers on teams that go all the way. That’s not how it works. It takes blood, sweat and more sweat from every guy. The young Edmonton Oilers found that out when they lost to the New York Islanders in 1983 after the Islanders, banged, bruised, and exhausted, had just won their fourth straight title.

The Oilers learned from the Islanders that it takes supreme sacrifice, ridiculous amounts of hard work, and the willingness to do whatever it takes, even if it hurts like hell.

We’re not seeing that from a number of Canadiens. Although there’s still time. Not much though.

All we can do now is hope we see every single guy give his all from here on in. If we don’t see that, then the time definitely isn’t yet here to even think about Lord Stanley.

 

 

 

Tokarski Saves The Day

The Canadiens, with sensational goaltending from DustinTokarski and an overtime goal by Alex Galchenyuk, win game three 3-2 and make the series a series.

Not that they deserved it but whatever.

Yes they were embarrassingly outplayed for much of the evening and outshot 37-25. But when the sports news comes on, the intro will say that the Canadiens are back in it after winning in overtime. Then I can turn the TV off, smile, and carry on.

However, the boys might want to think about playing a tad better than this. If you’re a Habs fan and didn’t see the game, it might have been a good thing, except you would have missed a young goalie stand on his head.

Dustin Tokarski was simply excellent. Surprisingly excellent. He stopped pucks left and right. Mr. Price couldn’t have played better.

And although I feel for Peter Budaj, after seeing the kid hold the fort in such fashion, it’s easier now to understand why the coaches went with him, even though he had no experience.

Toker won the game for Montreal plain and simple. It was him and no one else, even though the puck went by Henny Lunny three times.

Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner but was mediocre, as was Tomas Plekanec, who fed the puck to Galchenyuk for the winner, as was Thomas Vanek, who assisted on Daniel Briere’s goal that gave the Habs a late 2-1 lead, as was P.K. Subban, who gave the puck up at the blueline that led to the Rangers’ opening goal.

They were all mediocre and they weren’t the only ones. And it was weird to see PK so ordinary.

Not their finest moments, but the team won. Surely that has to deflate the other team.

The Canadiens, thanks to Dustin Tokarski, kept the Rangers to two goals, some greasy ones got by the guy with good hair at the other end, and the series is narrowed to 2-1 instead of a nightmarish 3-0.

It could also lead to great things. The Stanley Cup Finals might have crossed the Rangers’ minds ever so slightly, and instead they lose the game and realize now that if they lose game four and the thing is all tied up, life just might really suck.

The Canadiens know they played poorly, how could they not, but realize they have a young goalie doing the job nicely with Price out. He’s given his team a huge boost, and by no means are they out of it.

The chance of being in the Finals is alive and well, all because of the young guy from Saskatchewan donning the pads.

Maybe from all of this we’ll see the Canadiens at their finest again, playing the way we know they can play, which we haven’t seen yet in this series except for a few minutes of game two.

They won this game three by the skin of their teeth. They dodged a bullet. Beautiful, except they were quite lousy while doing so.

Maybe Dustin Tokarski has turned the series around.

Random Notes:

Not everyone was terrible. Max, DD, and Gally played hard.Dale Weise has some moments. Not many but some. Brandon Prust showed passion. Markov was involved.

But two thirds of the team were less than good and it’s disturbing. Are the Rangers that strong that they made many of our guys look like they were stuck in cement? I don’t think so.

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Drop Game 2

It began with such promise. The Canadiens came out flying, they were a team on a mission, a team that looked like they wanted it in a big way.

All four lines were motoring. The DD, Max, Gally combo especially was on fire, and after some great work during that first frame, Max slipped it by Henrik Lundqvist and the building was alive.

Happy days were here again. Strike up the band.

The joy lasted 17 seconds.

A puck off Josh Gorges, the score was tied just like that, and in the last minute of play Rick Nash beat Dustin Tokarski on his glove side, it became a 2-1 contest, and all that flying around and buzzing in the Rangers’ end was sucked down the drain.

The killer came in the second when Alex Galchenyuk was sent to the box for sort of tripping Carl Hagelin, who should have no problem getting a job as stuntman in Hollywood when his playing days are over. And with the man advantage, Martin St. Louis converted a nice passing play and it became a very discouraging 3-1 score for the visitors.

Montreal just couldn’t solve Lundqvist, no matter how well they were playing. And there was a young and inexperienced goaltender down at the other end who would need more than just one feeble goal from his guys to help matters.

That was that. A 3-1 win by New York, the Canadiens are now in a huge hole, and although Dustin Tokarski played well, he didn’t provide miracles, which we were relying on him to do in storybook fashion.

The fact is, although the Canadiens outshot the Rangers 41-30, they also flubbed way too many chances, chances that didn’t hit the net, pucks over the net, pucks shot wide, and of course far too many pucks that Lundqvist saw.

And then there’s Thomas Vanek, who can soon go to Minnesota and live happily after. If they still want him.

This guy isn’t close to what we saw in the regular season. You remember – the guy who revitalized Max and helped create a sensational big line, who made smart pinpoint passes, who hit the back of the net when the opportunity arose.

The guy who was turning out to be our best player. Who helped lead the charge in the final month. The guy we wanted management to shower with money. The one who was going to love Montreal’s hockey atmosphere so much. We had a sliver of hope that he’d stay and become a full-time Hab.

Now, for lack of a better description, he’s become a bum.

He’s making horrible decisions. His passes are well off. He looks lazy and not terribly interested. He’s a guy showing that when things get going, he doesn’t.

As far as the goaltending situation goes, maybe Peter Budaj should’ve played. Maybe Michel Therrien, in one surprising hunch to use Toker, ripped the guts out of Budaj. Maybe Budaj would’ve grabbed that Rick Nash shot and the teams gone to intermission tied 1-1.

It’s all hindsight now. It’s also very depressing.

Next game – Thursday in Manhattan. It’s desperate times.

Series Has Only Just Begun

Okay, a few dark clouds have drifted in. When haven’t they?

A 7-2 throttling in game one. A possible Carey Price injury. A situation where a two-game series lead for the Rangers would suck much more than a 7-2 series opener.

But if Price is injured, if we find ourselves suddenly in a wretched hole, keep in mind it’s still not over. Our dream of seeing the Habs competing for the Stanley Cup isn’t done until the mature and the gentlemanly handshakes have begun.

What I’m saying is, except for the truly dominant teams over the years, which we all know Montreal isn’t quite yet but regardless, the road to the Stanley Cup has always been lined with more potholes than Montreal streets, which, if you’ve driven Montreal streets, is a lot.

Guys get injured, unknown factors and horrible surprises crop up. But championship teams, teams that scraped and clawed and came out bruised, battered and bloodied, somehow found a way to reach the promised land, and if Carey Price is hurt and Peter Budaj is forced to come in, everyone deals with it, plays even that much harder, blocks even that many more shots, chemistry and bonding boils over the top, and their names ultimately become inscribed on the Stanley Cup through blood, sweat, and tears.

Man that was a long sentence.

Teams don’t usually coast to the Stanley Cup. Some of the 1970s Habs teams might have, but not in general. Sometimes they coast to the first place in their division, and maybe through the first few rounds of the playoffs, but not all the way to the Cup. If it was like that, it wouldn’t be the most meaningful trophy in all the land.

If Price is hurt, which we still don’t know yet, the scenario we hope for is this: Budaj is forced to come in, he stands on his head, the team carries on and wins it all, and Budaj is forever after talked about by fans and historians as the the guy who, as a backup goalie, joined the fray and helped his team win it all.

How great would that be? We’ve seen Budaj perform in unreal situations this year, so why not again? It’s the best and only thing we can ask, aside from Price being okay and is good to go.

As far as the Chris Kreider’s crash into Price controversy goes, I’ve looked at the play below several times, and although you might disagree, I have this to say about it.

All season long I’ve harped about the fact that not enough Canadiens are willing to crash the net. Aside from Brendan Gallagher, it’s just not what we’ve seen from most guys on most nights. Chris Kreider was skating hard, as he should be, and in a nano second, his skate may have done some damage, which I hope wasn’t the case.

Did he have time to react differently? Not by what I saw on the video.

I know Michel Therrien isn’t happy about it, and I know Brandon Prust said it was “accidentally on purpose”. But this was a split-second situation during the world’s fastest game and I’m giving the guy the benefit of the doubt.

I’m not about to become a Chris Kreider fan. Are you kidding? I hope Alexei Emelin leaves a dent in the boards with Krieder’s body the way Larry Robinson did with Gary Dornhoefer. I hope we never have to mention his name again. I hope a slapshot removes all his teeth. I hope he turns out to be a bum and ends up selling vacuum cleaners door to door.

I’m just saying I want more from the Habs like what Kreider did. Skate like the wind, blow by guys, don’t let up when you reach the crease.

It would also be just fine if Henrik Lundqvist tasted some of the medicine that was given to Price. Let the Rangers be forced to use to their backup goaltender.

All’s fair in love and war.