Category Archives: Brian Gionta

Solid In Tampa

The Tampa Bay Lightning may have enjoyed a decent first period, but it was all Montreal for the next two, a completely solid and impressive showing by Les Glorieux, a 4-1 win that puts the boys two games up on the road.

All they have to do is keep doing what they’ve been doing – skate hard, constantly forecheck, get scoring from guys who don’t always score, look confident with the puck, enjoy each others company, dispose of the Tampa Bay Lightning as soon as possible, get some rest, heal some wounds, and watch players in other series pound each other into the ground.

Am I getting too far ahead of myself? Enjoying the moment.

Rene Bourque shone with two big goals that included barging in and sneaking it in beside the post, and a great play where he swung around the net and banked it in off Kristers Gudlevskis who had  replaced a yanked Anders Lindback.

Carey Price was back to the Carey Price we know and love after a slightly disturbing performance in game one. He was in control, it showed from the beginning, and it was a different feeling watching him from the the previous game. I think Stephane Waite had a good chat with him.

Just proud as punch about what’s transpired. Both games in Tampa won. My hears soars like a Joe Bonamassa guitar solo.

The game began with a Lightning team that was alive, but so was Carey Price. And at the other end, Lindback stopped Brian Gionta and Max, both of whom barged into the clear but were denied.

But the beginning of the second period was the beginning of the end for the home team. A power play goal that saw David Desharnais deflect a P.K. blast. Rene Bourque would notch his first. And Brandon Prust would plant fist onto the hairy face of Radko Gudas, with Prust scoring on the punch clock.

Ray Ferraro said on the radio before the series began that Habs fans will very quickly learn to hate Radko Gudas, but so far, he’s just another small bump in the road that hasn’t slowed the Habs tank down one bit.

The second was a much better period for the Canadiens, and in the third it was all them again.A goal by Brendan Gallagher and that was it for Lindback. And Bourque’s wraparound made it 4-0 and there was no way the Lightning would catch up, although they managed to make it 4-1 on a late power play with the goalie pulled.

Imagine if Bourque, Briere and Eller put it all together for the next while like they have for these two games. With them and the rest going, with Price at the top of his game, and with me wearing the same socks for as long as they win, the sky’s the limit.

Alexei Emelin was thumpin’ and bumpin’, Max was full of vim and vigour, P.K. and Gallagher too, and it was a truly impressive showing by all the guys in Florida.

Tampa and their fans know now they’re in a bit of a pickle.

Random Notes:

Tampa outshot Montreal 27-26 but definitely didn’t outplay them.

The Lightning also have a goaltending problem on their hands. The problem of not having a number one for the entire series.

Game three at the Bell on Sunday night and preparing to take a stranglehold. Ain’t life grand!

 

 

Weise Ends It

Dale Weise would score at 19:08 of of the first overtime frame to give his and our Montreal Canadiens a 5-4 win and and a nice one-game lead in what should be an outstanding series.

Fast paced, close, tense, some bad blood, and the right team winning. Now that’s hockey!

The Canadiens easily could have lost though, especially after allowing four goals on just fourteen shots. But thanks to some timely goals and Weise pulling the trigger, all’s well in Habsland.

Carey Price wasn’t particularly sharp, but the Canadiens were still able to get it done, even with him being slightly shaky, and the boys on this night outplayed Tampa for most of the first period, much of the second and third, and most of the overtime.

It was one of those nights that whenever play moved into Montreal’s end, the possibility was there that things could go south quickly. And four times it did.

But the Canadiens never let things get out of hand, they scored some timely goals, and that big first game is won by the team that should have and did.

Tampa had opened the scoring in the first period but just nineteen seconds later, Tomas Plekanec wired it home and the teams went to their rooms all even, although Montreal had outshot the Floridians 14-4.

In the second frame, not long after Brendan Gallagher took a puck in the throat from an Alexei Emelin shot from the blueline, Steven Stamkos would notch his first of two on the night and put his team ahead 2-1. Gallagher would return thankfully. But he might not be happy with Emelin.

Back and forth it went, playoff hockey at its finest, fans everywhere on the edge of their seats and couches I’m sure, and in the midst of scrums and battles, Brian Gionta would take a nice pass from Lars Eller and score a big shorthanded marker that caused Luci and I to yell and once again scare the cat that has happened far too often this year.

It’s going to be a long series for the cat.

The Canadiens would take the lead in the third period after Brian Gionta had corralled the puck at his blueline and got it to Lars Eller who danced up the ice and found the back of the net. A beautiful goal, and the Eller, Gionta and Bourque line skated well and created chances all evening. Hell, all the lines skated well I thought.

Sidenote: P.K. Stock said we have one good line and the other three suck. Just so you know.

One of my big dreams is to be rich enough so I could have spare TVs and whenever Stock comes on, I shoot the TV out the way Elvis used to.

Again the pesky Lightning would reply after a turnover, and the way Price was looking in nets, I experienced one of those strong sinking feelings that I’m really not crazy about.

Things would perk up though after Thomas Vanek converted a great pass from David Desharnais, but Steven Stamkos wasn’t through on the night as his second goal would even things at four apiece. Tampa’s captain is dangerous. Therrien’s gonna have to come up with a plan to calm this guy down down.

Sadly, Montreal’s power play continues to shoot blanks, and when they were given a power play with just 2:01 left in the third, the chance to win it was there on a silver platter. But again…..

Montreal’s man advantage at this stage of the year is confused and non-threatening. Throw out the power play drills they recently did in practice and come up with some new ones. Ask PJ Stock. Maybe he can help.

Overtime almost ended quickly when Max rang one off the post, and usually after something like that happens, the other teams scores. But Tampa didn’t, Dale Weise did, and at that point, I breathed a sigh of relief and now my heart is soaring like a Tawny-Headed Mountain-Finch.

Game two on Friday. Without sounding like a greedy bastard, another win would be good.

Habs outshot Tampa 44-25 on the night.

Gionta Wins It And Team Reaches 100!

No goals through three periods.

Brian Gionta tripped up on a breakaway in overtime by ex-Hab Raphael Diaz, awarded a penalty shot, and comes through to give his team and us a huge 1-0 win.

The regular season is finished, the Canadiens reach a very impressive 100 points, and now the real season begins. The 82 games were only a lengthy warm-up act.

And the boys finished it off in dramatic fashion.

I wasn’t a Gionta backer throughout most of the year. He hasn’t been overly effective in my mind. He’s been a reminder of the smurf days. It seems Josh Gorges has been more of captain material.

But Gionta has come through often in the last while. He’s worked hard, has popped a few, and has shown leadership, which he should, considering he wears the captain’s “C”.

So now I’m proud of Gionta. As the season wound down, he cranked it up. And on Saturday night he was also awarded the important Jacques Beauchamp trophy for being an unheralded key guy on the team.

Luci and I decided against the Irish pub to watch the game because we found another down the street with a giant screen. Again a sensational night in Quebec City where we encountered nothing but friendly folk in an incredibly cool Old Quebec.

I had a bunch of beer, though, so this is what passes for my game post for the final game of the season. Hic.

Shots on goal – Blueshirts 41, Habs 27. Carey Price voted game’s first star.

Tomorrow we cheer for Washington in their game against Tampa Bay.

Great talking to you.

Hic.

Mighty Fine Adventure

I said I’d continue later and that’s what I’m doing. Continuing.

I was in downtown Montreal early,  Danno and his clan wouldn’t show up from Ottawa for another couple of hours , so as I like to do, I walked the streets. And soon I heard excited voices on loudspeakers and people cheering.

I’d stumbled upon a Parti Quebecois rally in a park, and so I stopped and joined them.

Take away the signs and the voices explaining to the freezing crowd how great it would be if Quebec separated, the folks all seemed quite normal for being such treasonous, brainwashed enemies of the country.

Then I left because I didn’t belong. I’m a Canadian.

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Onwards to Ste-Catherine St. where it began to snow, and I stopped for coffee at Nickles. From the window I saw many of the people who were at the rally walking by with their signs. They can only talk about breaking up the country when it’s warmer.

Down Ste. Catherines to another park where a bunch of people were having pillow fights, which was much more normal than being at a Parti Quebecois rally.

Then it was down to meet Danno and his dad and brother, and we went for pizza and then to the game.

And what a tremendous game to be at. Detroit is a skating club, as Montreal certainly can be, and it made for back and forth, clean and skilled action. Emelin thumped, Price was sharp, the DD line brought extra doses of buzz when they jumped over the boards, and the team found themselves with a nice 3-0 lead.

One of my favourites guys, Michael Bournival, opened the scoring in the first, Max would get his 39th of the season in the second, with the third scored shortly after by Brian Gionta.

It was happy times for almost all concerned. Not for Danno’s brother Bob and others, but for most of us.

And it was just after my mentioning out loud that a fourth goal would be nice, along with the fact that it seems that on many nights now Carey Price stands a fine chance of blanking the opposition, that Detroit scored three quick ones and it was tied.

Rarely do you see me as animated as when Gionta would notch his second of the night late in the third and Alex Galchenyuk get the insurance marker. I looked like a separatist in a park trying to break up the country.

It was certainly a terrific night to be at the Bell. The crowd was loud, the game was fast and at times tense, and being with the Danno clan was a joy.

Afterwards it was beer at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel bar, and then I hopped on a bus and made my way home.

Vive Les Canadiens. Vive Canada.

Random Notes:

39 goals for Max. So great. And 40 is such a nice round number.

Wings outshot the Habs 37-26.

Quebecois Olympians at Sochi were introduced before the game, which was beautiful. Someday when I’m an Olympian I hope to be introduced at the Bell too.

Habs prospect Tim Bozon, looking great after his meningitis ordeal, was in the crowd and waved. Great to see.

Next up – Habs travel to Chicago for a date with the Hawks on Wednesday.

Below, Danno’s dad, brother Bob, and Danno enjoying nectar of the gods after pizza.

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Habs Hurt Leafs

Canadiens top the Leafs 4-3 at the ACC that should have fans leaving the building feeling they got their money’s worth, and which keeps the Habs train rolling and the Leaf apple cart tottering on the edge of the cliff.

It was a back and forth affair, a bunch of posts behind Carey Price were hit, just two penalties were called for each team on the night, and it was tense going in the final minutes when the Leafs pulled James Reimer and the Habs were holding on.

Montreal looked like they were going to burst it wide open in the first when Max and Rene Bourque both beat Reimer on his glove hand, and maybe a third goal would have really got the ball rolling considering Reimer’s fragile confidence.

But credit to Reimer. He came up with some great saves after those two goals, the game never got out of hand, and the Leafs battled back to tie it until a late first period goal by Brian Gionta made it 3-2 Habs.

Scoreless in the second, and then the obnoxious Nazem Kadri was left open at the side of the net and banged it home to tie things at three.

It was nerve wracking to be sure, and heart-stopping when sniper Phil Kessel waltzed in on Carey Price. But Price would stop Kessel, and soon after Tomas Plekanec converted some nice passing from Markov and P.K. and the boys held on and got it done.

Rene Bourque contributed a goal and assist on this night after being a healthy scratch for the last five games, and he played with rare passion. So much so that HNIC named him the game’s first star.

Imagine that. Rene Bourque. Can he do it again two nights from now?

Speaking of HNIC, the intermissions were all Leafs, all the time. Leafs, Leafs, Leafs. This is one of the main reasons I grew up hating the white and blue. Rarely a mention of the Canadiens.

And at the end of the game, Glenn Healy proclaimed that the Leafs were the much better team on the night, even though Montreal outshot Toronto in the first two periods, the shots overall were even at 36 each, and the Habs won the game.

What the Leafs did win was in the hits department, with 37 to Montreal’s 18.

Dion Phaneuf tried to get rough with little David Desharnais, and considering the way Phaneuf fights, this was a fair matchup.

A great win, the screws are tightening on the Leafs, and the Canadiens are jockeying for a nice playoff seeding. It’s also Toronto’s fourth straight loss which adds to the festivities!

Now it’s Monday in Boston for Les Glorieux when they meet a Bruins team that’s racked up 12 straight wins. But all streaks must eventually come to an end. Like on Monday.

 

Saturday Night Fever

Leafs

It the Habs and Leafs at the Toronto barn, and of course the Habs need to clean the Buds’ clocks.

I shouldn’t even have to mention it.

As it stands, just six points separate the Canadiens from playoffs and no playoffs, and for the Leafs, it’s three points between them and being gone.

But it’s not about the Leafs, it’s about the Canadiens. The Leafs losing is only a bonus.

The Leafs are having goaltending issues. Their best guy, Jonathan Bernier, is on the sidelines with a groin injury, and backup James Reimer, who feels he isn’t a backup but is (just ask coach Randy Carlyle), will probably be between the pipes and the Habs have to pound away.

Toronto’s also lost their last three – to Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Washington, so hopefully they’re in the midst of a big time implosion. It’s up to the Habs to keep this Leafs free fall going.

You just never know with this Leafs team, especially when they play the Canadiens.

The bottom line is, it’s a game the Habs must win.

At Friday’s practice, Alex Galchenyuk centered a line with Brian Gionta and Rene Bourque.

Brandon Prust is gone for the remaining 11 games with an upper body injury.

Holy Mackerel, Habs Pull It Out!

Three goals by a down and out Habs team with just over three minutes left in the third, and then the winner in overtime.

I was getting set to rant and rave and now I won’t have to. Talk about going from upset to feelin’ good. Boom shakalacka!

The game at the Bell began in fine fashion for the Canadiens. Daniel Briere scored just 38 seconds in and the boys dominated the Sens, outshooting them 17-4 with Briere and Thomas Vanek getting several great chances, and others like DD having their moments too.

But aside from Briere’s marker, no one could score as usual, Ottawa got one, and we’ve seen this before. Burst out of the gate and slowly but surely the other team picks up steam when the game should’ve been out of reach.

It became the same old thing. Scoring dried up. Tiring to say the least.

No surprise when it became 2-1 in the second for Ottawa, who outplayed Montreal in the frame.

In the third, it was soon a depressing 3-1 and then 4-1. I was ready with my thoughts. Again they can’t score. They blew their chances. It was going to be four straight losses. The power play was a dismal 0-6. The EGG line at this point was -11.

And then it began. Like Pit Lepine, Sprague Cleghorn, the Rocket and all the gang pulling strings from above.

Lars Eller made it 4-2 at 16:38 of the third, and the team was still so far from a comeback that Eller didn’t dare crack a smile.

At the 17:56 mark, Brian Gionta bulged the twine and it was 4-3, and a small glimmer of hope became a large wheelbarrow full.

Finally, with a Senator in the box for misbehaving and Carey Price pulled to make it a 6 on 4 advantage, David Desharnais shot one over the hot-headed Robin Lehner with less than a second left and the game, miraculously, was tied.

And just 1:26 into overtime, Francis Bouillon won it for his team and us.

It’s hard to believe what we just witnessed. The Canadiens needed these two points badly, and they did it in such heart stopping fashion.

A great win, and have you ever seen such crying to the refs as the Sens did after the last couple of goals? You blew it, Ottawans. Suck it up.

Random Notes:

Marjo and her son were at this game, fifteen rows behind the Canadiens bench. Talk about a game to get tickets for, and I’m happy for them that they saw a mind blower.

Canadiens outshot Ottawa 48-34 on the night, but until the last three minutes, could only score one measly goal. But that’s all forgotten now. Sort of.

Carey Price had no chance on a couple at least, and it was reassuring to see him finally back on the job.

Healthy scratches included Parros, White, Bourque and Tinordi.

Onwards to Buffalo for a Sunday 7 pm game against the Sabres. Can’t wait to see how the Canadiens play after this whopper.

 

 

A Brief Habs-Sens Recap

The Canadiens and Senators clashed three times before tonight, and how did things go?

On Nov. 7th in Ottawa, Montreal dropped a 4-1 decision , their fourth straight loss in November, because for some reason they had stopped scoring  – just seven goals scored in four games.

Sound familiar? Currently they’ve scored seven goals in their last five games.

On January 4th at the Bell, two goals from Daniel Briere and one from Brian Gionta wasn’t enough because with the the game tied and just 19 seconds remaining in the third period, P.K. Subban took a hooking penalty and Ottawa ended it on the power play in overtime.

On January 16th in Ottawa, the Canadiens finally solved the Sens, although it took overtime to do it. And the fact was, the boys were terrible on this night. They had jumped into a 3-0 lead in the first but by the time this period would draw to a close, Ottawa had replied twice and it was a 3-2 game.

For the rest of the night, it was all Ottawa and only Carey Price standing on his head kept his team in it. Finally in overtime, P.K. scored the winner and celebrated like crazy, making the talking heads at CBC and Habs-haters everywhere aghast at PK’s enthusiastic celebration.

I thought it was a justified celebration on PK’s part. After what had happened twelve days before when he was in the box and the Sens won it, and the way they had played so well in the first period of this game and then completely fell apart, it was only right that P.K. was joyful.

Cherry, Stock, Habs haters and Sens fans etc. didn’t get it, naturally.

Tonight is the fourth meeting between these two and it’s time for the Canadiens to start scoring. And it’s time to show some superiority over a team nine points behind them in the standings.

 

 

 

 

Hockey Morning In Brossard

Luci and I went to the Habs practice this morning at the Sports Complex in Brossard, and I have to say, do I ever love doing this. Luci does too.

Grab a chair, sit behind glass in the open area with coffee in hand, and watch the boys go through various drills in an organized and business-like manner.

Stephane Waite had about eight players working on Carey Price from different angles and Price was up and down and didn’t seemed to be labouring with his knee.

Buday and Tokarski manned the other end with the rest of the guys.

Thomas Vanek was on a line with Max and Desharnais. The EGG line was together. Briere skated with Plekanec and Gionta. Prust, Weise, and Moen were together, and depending on the drill, it was various combinations involving White, Bourque, Parros and Michael Bournival.

And although it was cool to see everyone out there doing their thing, I found myself watching Bournival often. This is a kid with good size, is a beautiful skater, and has a great wrist shot.

My feeling is, Bournival (who was drafted in 2010 by Colorado and traded to the Canadiens later that year for Ryan O’Byrne) has a long and fruitful career ahead of him and the Canadiens landed a beauty when they got him.

Yes indeed, taking in a Habs practice.

A great way top spend an hour and a half. It’s nice that the public can do this and it’s all very comfortable.

Like a kid, I’m wide-eyed when I see the guys firing pucks and skating like the wind close up in practice. I guess I’m never going to truly grow up.

Brossard 1

Brossard 2

 

Habs Eaten By Coyotes

With Thomas Vanek in the lineup and Dale Weise a healthy scratch, the Canadiens drop a 5-2 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes, a game they were in until they weren’t.

Maybe it’s because Vanek played alongside smallish Tomas Plekanec and wee Brian Gionta, but he looked absolutely huge. He’s listed at 6′ at the Canadiens website, but 6’2″ everywhere else, including Hockey Database and Hockey Reference.

I’m going with those. He’s definitely bigger than 6′.

But that’s beside the point. The Canadiens lost, although it isn’t the end of the world. They just have to win in San Jose on Saturday to erase the bummer.

The Coyotes struck first when a long shot caromed off Douglas Murray, but Andrei Markov tied it with a big blast. Then with Lars Eller taking a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, Phoenix once again grabbed the lead and visions of Eller in the doghouse danced through many of our heads I’m sure.

But he was back out shortly after, which was nice to see. I hate seeing guys in the doghouse all the time. And if life was truly fair, Rene Bourque shouldn’t have played since last November.

The killer for the Habs came with just nine seconds left in the first period when Phoenix made it 3-1, and as they say, Antoine’s your uncle.

Montreal did narrow it to a 3-2 game in the second when Alex Galchenyuk scored on a 5 on 3, and Alexei Emelin had previously bulged the twine, but the goal was called back because Desharnais was stuck in the crease.

We could also say the Canadiens were all over the Coyotes in that second frame, but the home team had four penalties to Montreal’s none, and that might have something to do with it.

In the third, I listened to the game on the radio on my way to the airport to pick up Luci. That’s when I heard Phoenix make it 4-2 and then 5-2. It’s also when I got lost at the airport trying to find the parking garage.

Random notes:

Along with Weise, healthy scratches included George Parros and Francis Bouillon. Josh Gorges is back in Montreal having his damaged hand looked at.

The Canadiens apparently didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 3:00 am, but no excuses, right?

Habs outshot the Coyotes 26-23.

Thomas Vanek, although looking slightly out of sorts which is understandable, still managed to have three or four good chances to score, which is three or four more than Rene Bourque has managed in the last month.

Peter Budaj was less than sharp. We need Carey Price back, but with the final stretch and upcoming playoffs, it’s very wise not to rush things. Groin injuries take time. I remember suffering one myself after that private party with the players’ wives. Took me months to recover.

Newly acquired d-man Mike Weaver didn’t seem overly impressive in his debut but I think it’s unfair to judge after just one outing.

Next, the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at 10:00 pm ET. Another tough game, and it’ll be nice when this road trip is over. Not only because it’s a tough four games, but also because they’ve all been past my bedtime.

Maybe we’ll see a camera shot of grumpy Neil Young at the game. He’s been a season ticket holder in San Jose for years. Ex-Hab Terry Harper, who lives a couple of hours north of San Jose, also goes to games there from time to time.