Category Archives: Brian Gionta

Marc Talks About Things

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin met with the press on Monday and didn’t say a lot  but mentioned the core players are maturing but the team in general isn’t mature yet like Chicago and Los Angeles are.

He said there will be more ups and downs, but the team is well on track.

Nice to hear. And we already knew all that. Ups and downs, on track, good core players.

He said Dale Weise was allowed to return and play after getting thumped by John Moore because all the tests looked to be normal, and it wasn’t until the next day that they realized he was concussed.

He looked pretty concussed to me on the TV screen. Wobbly and goofy, just like George Parros, Travis Moen, and Michael Bournival looked when they got clocked. PK had to give him a bear hug to hold him up.

If the test machines said he was fine, I’d be looking to buy new test machines. If the doctors and trainers said he was fine, I think Weise paid them off.

One of the guys Bergevin did single out as playing hard was Brian Gionta, which must be some sort of sneaky ploy. Make Gionta feel wanted and want to stay, and then cut the salary in half. Or something like that.

He played hard, he just didn’t make much of an impact. I’d rather have an impact guy. Put me in a uniform and I’d play hard too. Harder than anybody. I wouldn’t get anything done and I might fall down a lot, but I’d play hard.

For me though, it’s much different about Gionta. I think either Gionta should go, or if he stays it’s for a bargain rate and the captain’s ‘C’ comes off.

Why do I want the ‘C’ off? I don’t even know the guy. Maybe he’s a great captain. I don’t care about that. I don’t want a non-productive wee little guy leading my team.

If I’m going to have a small captain that I can be proud of, I want one like 5’7 Henri Richard or 5’7 Yvon Cournoyer. Guys who play with burning fire and also produce.

Otherwise, I want a bigger captain. Crazy eh?

Really though, at this stage of the game, I think the one big change I’d make sooner than later would be the announcing of the new assistant to the assistant to Head Equipment Manager Pierre Gervais.

Stick boy.

Habs Trounced In Opener

It’s not surprising that after such an emotional Boston series, against a team that played such a drastically different style, the Canadiens might look slightly out of sorts in game one of the Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers.

Just didn’t think it would be that much out of sorts.

It was all Rangers, all the time. So much so that our esteemed backstopper Carey Price was relieved of his duties after two frames, with Peter Budaj getting his first shot at the 2014 playoffs.

The Canadiens need to seriously readjust. The Rangers can absolutely fly, but the saving grace is that the Canadiens can too, and once they truly become accustomed to this non-Bruins style of play, they should be fine.

Talk about a wake-up call, a stick to the groin, a water bottle spray to the faces, including ours. Just a dismal start for the team and to disappointed Habs fans who have been so excited and hopeful.

7-2. What the $%#% is that?

Ill-timed penalties. A collapse in the second period when it was just a 2-1 lead for the Blueshirts and the Habs playing much better than in the first.

But with 61 seconds left in the middle frame it was 3-1, and then with 12 seconds left, 4-1.

The third? Three goals in 3:08. All power play goals, the first with Max in for roughing, the other two because of several Prust  transgressions.

One of those games where I had contemplated paying several extra bucks and springing for a scalpers ticket, to soak in the atmosphere. To say I was there in the moment.

I didn’t, and I’m very happy about that. Now I have more money for food.

It was one of the more miserable nights in recent memory, except of course the beginning when the torch kid did his thing and then Ginette did hers. And maybe not quite as bad as game two of the Bruins series when the Canadiens led 3-1 with nine minutes left and lost 5-3.

One thing to keep in mind. It’s a seven-game series. We’ll see a different Habs team on Monday. They’ll have lots to ponder.

They’ll regroup, adjust, and come out a different team. No problem. And I think I’m going to stay away from TV sports highlights for a couple of days.

Random Notes:

Canadiens were undisciplined, including Rene Bourque in the sinbin for three separate minors and Brandon Prust given two separate minors and a 10 minute misconduct, and when the final dust had settled, the Habs had spent 24 minutes in the box and the Rangers just four.

And as far as undisciplined goes, it was the complete opposite of the Bruins series when they stayed cool, calm, and collected.

If you’re curious, Rene Bourque slipped the puck across the line behind Henrik Lundqvist for the Canadiens’ first goal, which was assisted by linemates Brian Gionta and Lars Eller. And late in the third, Eller scored an unassisted shorthanded marker.

Shots on goal, 28 for the Rangers and 22 for Montreal, including just six for the Habs in the first and six in the third. They need to make Lundqvist work much harder than that.

 

 

Outplayed All Evening

Not much good to say here. The Canadiens were outplayed from start to finish, they were outmuscled, outworked, outchecked, and basically bottled up for about 50 of the 60 minutes, and although the final score looked an almost respectable 4-2 loss, it wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

The Canadiens were dismal and they lacked drive. How do you lack drive in a crucial playoff game? And once again, the scorers, the ones we rely on to light the lamp, didn’t come through.

Except PK and Gally of course, who’ve refused to stay quiet in the series when others around them have. Lots of heart with these two, but it’s no surprise.

To make matters worse, mainstays Eller, Bourque, and Gionta were ineffective and were shut down from start to finish. In fact, Bourque reminded me of his season-long comatose efforts. Eller was slightly better. Gionta was physically a non-factor. Too small in a game like this.

On top of that, the fourth line, which has contributed throughout the playoffs, were non-existent, and Michel Therrien’s choice of Brandon Prust in for Daniel Briere didn’t prove as brilliant a move as he might have hoped.

Prust’s name was barely mentioned, although the line only played about eight minutes. But of course he wasn’t alone in the not standing out department.

The Bruins were too strong in game five, and most of the Canadiens were surprisingly inept. They weren’t sharp to say the least. I’m expecting some true grit from them on Monday.

If they don’t come out breathing fire at the Bell, there might be some serious character flaws in many that need to be dealt with.

It was almost like they’d conceded early on, maybe right around the time Tomas Plekanec performed his dubious hat trick so to speak.

It was Plekanec who, instead of taking an extra second to cross the red line, iced the puck which led to a series of events and the Bruins’ first goal.

It was Plekanec who barged into Tuukka Rask with seventeen seconds left in the first, which led to a Bruins power play goal a minute into the second period.

It was Plekanec just a half minute later who took a high sticking penalty and six seconds later it was 3-0, and for all intents and purposed, the boys were dead.

It’s here I have to agree with what Don Cherry didn’t like and mentioned afterwards. Plekanec sat in the box with his leg resting on a ledge, like he was lounging in Acapulco.

When I saw that I wondered what the hell he was doing. Maybe in Europe you might see something along those lines. Not in a Habs-Bruins playoff struggle.

And even though Plekanec was terrible and in three ways helped cost the game, his teammates weren’t there either. They’ve been reading their press clippings about how they have the Bruins on the run, how great they’ve been, how they’re in the Bruins’ heads.

Tonight, the Bruins had them in their back pocket. The Canadiens were outmatched in every way in a huge game, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Random Note:

Shawn Thornton spraying PK with the water bottle as PK skated past was bush league to say the least and a typical type of Bruin move.

 

 

Overtime Blues

A great game, fast, hard, and exciting. A wonderful example of how a contest with no goals scored can be a thing of beauty.

No goals in three periods. Great to watch. Hard on the nerves. And then horrifically, the Bruins ended it early in the first overtime period, and instead of the series being a 3-1 Habs stranglehold, it’s now tied at two apiece.

And for those who said the winner of this game will move on, and I heard it more than once today, you have no idea. That sort of thing was also said after the Bruins had clawed back in the third period of game two.

That kind of talk drives me crazy because you just don’t know and why say it? Why predict such a gloomy ending? I feel some Habs fans are hoping they lose for some weird and distorted reason and it’s hard to understand.

The series is tied. The Habs have not lost the series, in case anyone needs reminding.

What a hard-fought, hard hitting, fast, back and forth, tough contest this turned out to be. A classic playoff game. A game at its finest. No goonery, no craziness, no lulls. No goals and it didn’t matter.

If only the good had prevailed over the bad. It was all that was missing.

It’s Saturday in Boston and then Monday at the Bell for games five and six. What a series this is.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal, Boston 35, Montreal 33.

Price and Rask were both solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. And for me personally, it was once again the Eller, Gionta, Bourque line who skated the most miles. Although Michael Bournival was flying and had several big shots on Rask.

Boston outhit the Canadiens 40-32 but Douglas Murray and PK smashed the enemy a handful of times.

The Canadiens edged the Bruins in faceoff wins 38-36, which is truly an important stat. And Montreal blocked 20 shots to Boston’s 12.

Everyone played well, all the way through the lineup. Although we need more on the board from some of our regular sharpshooters.

Right now, it’s the Eller line, the fourth line, and Bournival giving the most bang for the buck. If some of the quiet guys can break out, preferably at the same time, Boston will be a heap of trouble.

Have a great Friday. The series is not over.

 

 

 

Thank You Carey!

An outstanding display from Carey Price. Brilliant from start to finish, stopping 48 of 51 shots, including a plethora of tough ones, and the Canadiens take the opener in Boston.

It was PK Subban, with his second power play goal of the game, hitting the back of the net in the second overtime to give his team a huge 4-3 win.

They were outplayed but they weren’t outscored, which is the basic rule of the game. The team that scores most, wins.

And they weren’t always outplayed, it just seemed like it. Tuukka Rask had to come up big often.

The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first with a blueline wrist shot from PK with the man-advantage, and the team, after weathering an early onslaught, settled down and picked it up a notch.

In the second, Rene Bourque made it 2-0 on a pass from Lars Eller, and Price was magnificent throughout, especially during a Bruins power play that was ridiculous in the fury seen around the net.

The Bruins took charge. They slammed bodies, stormed the net, kept coming, rang pucks off posts, came close far too often, kept the puck in the Canadiens end for several heart-stopping days and weeks  it seemed.

Often I couldn’t look.

Our man stood tall though, before, during, and after.  Price stole it for his team, but brilliant playoff goaltending is a time-honoured tradition, and legends are slowly carved from performances like this.

Not only did he help his team win, but he might have started the process of being in the Bruins’ heads. Maybe they’ll toss and turn all night, thinking of what might have been. Maybe they’ll think about storming the net on Saturday. Maybe they’ll start to question their ability to beat this guy.

And if they think they should be more forceful,  they’ll remind themselves that the Canadiens bulged the twine twice on the power play and they’ll have to think twice about being more physical.

Maybe they’ll blow their minds from thinking too much. Although Brad Marchand doesn’t have to worry about that.

For a hundred years, goalies have been saving the day on special nights, and on Thursday in Boston, it was Price’s turn. But he’ll need to do it again and again, although hopefully the players in front of him will decide to keep the puck in the other end more often than game one.

Another rule of the game. Keep the puck in the other end as much as possible.

The Bruins pushed hard in the third and would tie it at two, and the game became as intense as most seventh games. To win the first would be huge. Blowing a two-goal lead was already disappointing. Losing the opener would be a painful blow.

After regaining the lead on a shot by Francis Bouillon, the Bruins would tie it again with just 1:58 left in the third. A horrible turn of events. Sometimes I wonder if my old ticker can handle this sort of thing.

No scoring in the first overtime, Price continued to be sensational, and after Matt Bartkowski took a holding penalty at 4:10 of the second overtime, PK blasted it home just seven seconds later.

I’m sure Jack Edwards had lots to say about that.

And isn’t it lovely that the one player that Bruins players, fans and media consider the most despicable was the one who settled things. Has to be a hockey god thing. Thank you PK, for scoring the winner and wounding Bruins fans.

A huge game-one win. The Canadiens’ fifth straight playoff victory. Carey Price held the fort.

Random Notes:

The DD, Vanek, Max line was ineffective all evening but that should change. The Punch Line had off-nights too.

The Eller, Bourque, Gionta trio was Montreal’s best, and aside from Price and Subban’s heroics, my choice for best skater on the night for the good guys was Lars Eller. He skated well, made smart decisions, and had several fine chances. The same could be said for Rene Bourque. They picked up where they left off from the Tampa series. Many wondered if they could. And they did.

Brendan Gallagher came to play too. But many were quiet and we’re expecting a different story in game two.

Goal scoring recap – PK, Bourque, Bouillon, and PK.

Final shots on goal after four periods and four minutes – Boston 51, Montreal 33.

Next game – Saturday at 12:30 pm eastern. A lot of people hate afternoon games. I don’t mind them as much as many, but I’m not overly crazy about them either.

I suppose I’m used to early starts after living on the West Coast for so many years. For West Coasters, Saturday’s game is at 9:30 am, which truly sucks.

 

Second Round Coming Up!

At a loss for words here but I’ll give it the old college try.

Max, with 43 seconds left, sends our Montreal Canadiens into the second round and I’m numb and left exhausted. And it’s only the first round.

A sweep over the pesky Tampa Bay Lightning. Two periods of perfect hockey where the team would take a nice 3-1 lead, then a slight letdown in the third and the Lightning would tie it.

But Max, who couldn’t buy a goal for the past week or two, shoved it under Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis for the winner and all’s well in Habsland.

What a sport hockey is. Especially when the good guys give us an incredibly serious bang for the buck so to speak.

The agony and the ecstasy.

Moving on to round two.

A team playing with passion and drive.

Rene Bourque coming alive and again a supreme force. He never lived up to expectations after coming over in the Cammalleri trade. Until now. And in a big way.

Lars Eller, criticized frequently this season, especially on talk radio, coming through again and being the smooth and effective forward we’d only seen glimpses of this season.

Daniel Briere proving he’s a big time money player.

Everyone contributing, all the way down the line, with tonight’s goals from Briere, Eller, Gally, and then Max, which is a goal from each of the four lines.

And although the Vanek, DD, Max line was on the quiet side, Vanek would assist (along with P.K.) on Max’s winner. So the points from the line came anyway.

Imagine how proud papa Ray Pacioretty, sitting in the stands, must be.

The team was unreal in the first and second period, creating rush after rush, skating like the wind, checking Tampa to a standstill, clearing the net, making the right passes, doing all the right things.

I watched them play like that and I saw a real team. A team that takes a back seat to no one.

Now it’s a week’s wait. That’s fine. It’s going to take me that long to recuperate.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bolts 37-23.

 

 

 

 

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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