Category Archives: Buffalo Sabres

Beaten In Buffalo

kid smoking

The thing to do, if you’re a Habs fan, is sit back, have a smoke, pat the dog, fire up the record player, and when you’ve done all that, swallow a bunch more anti-depressants.

Habs lose 6-4 in Buffalo.

But it seemed fine in the beginning, after Max Pacioretty sent a nice pass over to Sven Andrighetto and bam, the boys had the all-important  1-0 lead.

Always good to get that first one. Except the Sabres got the next four.

David Legwand began by tying things, and soon after, Old Man Markov turned the puck over (yawn), and suddenly it was 2-1 Sabres.

Mark Barberio tried to boot the puck out of danger and couldn’t, and the Sabres finished the play to take a 3-1 lead. It also finished Ben Scrivens for the night, with Mike Condon taking over.

In horrific fashion it soon became a 4-1 game, and the Sabres rout was on.

Then it wasn’t.

Alex Galchenyuk scored on the power play, and it was 4-2.

Andrighetto, with his second of the night, narrowed things to 4-3.

Things were going good. But then Galchenyuk was called for hooking Marcus Foligno, who was promptly awarded a penalty shot, and who promptly beat Condon to make it 5-3.

But with 22 seconds left in the middle frame, Galchenyuk, who was great on this night, scored on the power play to put it at 5-4, and there was hope. Lots of hope.

Especially after the Canadiens swarmed Buffalo’s end time after time in the third period, going all out to even things.

It was tense for fans of both sides. At least I’m assuming this. It was tense for me, anyway.

Tense until the Canadiens pulled Condon, and with the puck being sent along the boards towards PK Subban, it suddenly hit the linesman, Evander Kane picked up the blocked puck, and he fired it into the empty net.

Subban was pissed.

Who knows what would have happened if the linesman wasn’t in the way? But that’s hockey. Pucks hit zebras.

The bottom line is, the CH took the early lead and then proceeded to fall behind 4-1 before playing catch up.

It’s not good to dig a hole like that. Especially when the team has a tough time scoring goals at the best of times, and especially when they’re trying to show that the slump has ended.

But at least they didn’t fold and they gave it the old college try. They came close to rebounding from being down 4-1 to actually winning. That’s good, right?

It’s tough being a Habs fan.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Sabres 30-22.

Montreal, sitting at 21st overall on the power play before the game, were 2/3 with the man advantage.

Next up – Monday in Arizona. Game time 9:00 pm ET.

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Not As Much Fun In ’80-81

The late 1970s were fine years for Habs fans of course, as the Canadiens chalked up four straight Stanley Cup wins and all was well in this crazy, mixed up world.

Even after the run finished, the 1979-80 campaign saw the boys finish first in the Norris Division with 107 points, but cracks and unrest had begun to show.

Unhappy coach Scotty Bowman had left town for Buffalo after the 1978-79 season , where he assumed the role of coach and general manager after being denied GM duties in Montreal.

And as Bowman bolted, aging stars Jacques Lemaire, Ken Dryden, and Yvon Cournoyer retired.

In 1980-81, any semblance of a powerhouse team was gone and it was very sad. We were used to much better.

Difficult to stomach was the gang being swept in ’80-81 by the upstart Edmonton Oilers, with a skinny kid named Wayne Gretzky emerging as a freak of nature in the Oiler’s lineup.

Shortly after the disappointing sweep, Montreal coach Claude Ruel resigned and was replaced by the unsuccessful Bob Berry (14 different coaches have followed since).

Berry, between his three years as coach of the L.A. Kings and almost three in Montreal, would never get his teams past the first round of the playoffs, and 63 games into year three, Jacques Lemaire took over the helm.

It just wasn’t a rosy time for all concerned.

These were the days that saw a New York Islanders dynasty rise, with Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Billy Smith and company winning their own four straight.

By then, the idea of the Habs winning four in a row as they once had was only laughable. It had become painfully obvious that the dynasty wasn’t just on life support, it was officially over.

The Flower’s greatest years were behind him, his 50-goal seasons would come no more. Goaltending was shaky, and Patrick Roy was still several years away.

Steve Shutt was the team’s leading point-getter in the 1980-81 season, recording 35 goals and 38 assists for 73 points. Mark Napier was next with 71 points, while Lafleur was third with 70 points.

The goaltending duties were shared by four guys that season – Richard Sevigny, Michel Larocque, Denis Herron, and Rick Wamsley.

Doug Wickenheiser, the Habs first-overall pick, chosen over fan favourite Denis Savard, suited up in this 1980-81 season and turned out to be not quite the player the organization and fans thought they were getting.

The much maligned (and initially much heralded) centreman recorded just 7 goals and 8 assists, and often found himself a healthy scratch.

Wickenheiser had been a huge star in junior with the Regina Pats and his big body at centre ice had folks wondering if they might have a new Jean Beliveau on their hands. But he never managed to become a major impact player (115 points in 202 games in Montreal), and was finally dealt to St. Louis.

And to add salt to everyone’s wounds, including Wickenheiser’s, the shifty and bilingual Quebecer from Pointe Gatineau, Denis Savard, had become the toast of the town in Chicago.

Rough times after those glorious late-1970s, and it would be five more years after ’80-81 before the Canadiens would become champs once again.

At that time, a handful of years in Montreal without Lord Stanley was unacceptable.

Now of course, it’s a bit more than a handful.

Three Straight!

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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.

 

 

Beaten By Buffalo

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Canadiens lose 4-2 to the visiting Buffalo Sabres after blowing a 2-1 second period lead.

More importantly, when the season kicks off in early May,  it’ll mark the 95th year for the Powell River Lawn Bowling Association.

I’m hoping to get out and watch some of the action.

In cricket play, England is on fire after Jos Buttler tallied 399 in game one against South Africa.

I have no idea how many games these two teams play, or what the series is about, or when they play, or what the rules are, but I’m excited anyway. And how bout that Buttler!

The English Tiddlywinks Association (ETA) informs us that the first adult version of the game began in 1958, so I truly feel I was there from the beginning and should be labelled a pioneer of the sport.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Buffalo 34-32.

I’m hoping you noticed how long it took for the trainer to grab a stick from the bench for Torrey Mitchell. Some of you are aware that I’ve been lobbying the Canadiens about the stick boy job for a long time, and without bragging, I would’ve had a stick for Mitchell much quicker.

Next up – Saturday, when Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers pay a visit.

Once Again, Habs……

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It was sure nice to have a week off during the All-Star break.

The John Scott Extravaganza was up and running, so the Habs’ magnificent Slide Into Hell was forced to stop for a breather. No turnovers, no missed nets, no silent guns, no night with no points.

Nice.

But I’ll admit, after a week off, it was good to see the boys up and at ’em and lose another.

This time it happened in Philadelphia, where they fell 4-2, although they came back from being down 2-0 to tie things at one point, which sort of gave us the silly notion that they could actually win.

There was a glorious chance to even things late, after big lunk Radko Gudas clipped Lucas Lessio with just over seven minutes remaining, and was given five minutes and a game misconduct for his dastardly deed.

But the five-minute power play that Montreal went on because of the clipping simply ticked away like we knew it would, with the boys of course not scoring, and in not doing so, they’ve probably blown their season in solid Linda Lovelace fashion.

On the bright side, it’s only the team’s third straight loss and not five or six like we’ve seen in previous months. Although they should reach these marks soon of course.

I don’t want to talk about what now amounts to one win in 9 games, which is their most recent pathetic contribution to join all the other pathetic contributions. The beat goes on. The longest lousy drum solo on record.

I never know what to say anymore. I dread game nights now. What am I supposed to write about when every game is just a slight variation of all the others?

I miss the ongoing circus, CNN’s Race For the White House, for this %$*&^?

Once upon a time I thought the 2015-16 Montreal Canadiens were good. What was wrong with me?

Random Notes:

Philly out the Canadiens 36-32.

The power play? 1/4.

Habs scorers were Andrei Markov, with his third of the season, and Jeff Petry with his fifth.

Quite a start for Lessio. His first game with the Habs after being called up from St. John’s, and he’s helped off the ice with what may be a serious knee injury. Fingers crossed on this one.

It’s the first time this season the Canadiens haven’t won the first game of a month, which makes it sound like they’ve been good or something. But it’s worth mentioning I suppose.

Next Up – Wednesday, with the Buffalo Sabres paying a visit to the Bell Centre. This is the first of four games at home, for what it’s worth.

 

 

 

Habs Bomb Buffalonians

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Eight straight wins in the books as the Canadiens invade Buffalo and proceed to blast the Sabres 7-2, even though the home team outshot Montreal 36-26.

And regardless of being outshot, there were times in this game when the Habs threw the puck around like hockey-playing Harlem Globetrotters. Looking good and rolling along. A plethora of early points banked, to come in handy when times are a tad tougher.

My chest is swelled so much it’s now in line with my stomach.

With Mike Condon making his second start (he beat Ottawa 3-1 in the third game of the season), and Andrei Markov collecting a goal and four assists, the team now sits just two wins away from the NHL record of ten wins to start a season, jointly held by the ’93-94 Leafs (of all people), and the 2006-07 Sabres (of all people).

The Canadiens host the Leafs on Saturday night to try and keep this sensational run intact, with game ten in Vancouver on Tuesday night.

How sweet it is so far, and how sweet it would be. But the boys can never take the Leafs lightly, because no matter how much the Buds suck, they can still be full of shit when it comes to playing the Habs.

The 7-2 slaughter in Buffalo not only saw Markov inflict major damage. Brendan Gallagher and Dale Weise both notched a pair of goals, P.K. and Plekanec each collected three assists, and Max a goal and an assist.

A great night for so many, with Torrey Mitchell also scoring, and Tomas Fleischmann and DD grabbing an assist each. And to add to the merriment, the team went 2/3 on the power play, as Markov and Gallagher made the enemy pay the price for being shipped off to the sinbin.

Random Notes:

Top five Habs point getters in these eight games –
Plekanec – 5 goals, 4 assists
Max – 6 goals, 3 assists
Markov – 1 goal, 8 assists
Gally – 3 goals, 5 assists
P.K. – 8 assists

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On such an occasion as a 7-2 drubbing and eighth straight win, it saddens me to hear of former Canadien Jim Roberts passing away at age 75. A solid and important player, and a fine and friendly fellow.

I’ll have more about this later.

RIP Jim.

Jim Roberts

Canadiens Zing The Blues

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Not much to report here.

Only that Canadiens beat the 5-1 (now 5-2) St. Louis Blues 3-0 to win their seventh straight out of the gate, with Carey Price recording his second shutout of this early season.

Seven wins and no losses, with Price as stingy as Scrooge McDuck, and everyone chipping in and doing their fare share of the housework.

On TV today it seemed like I heard nothing except how good the Blues are. And tonight I tuned into Montreal’s TSN 690 radio during the first intermission and the on-air guys simply gushed, and I mean gushed, about how fantastic the Blues are.

All that gushing, and the Habs were leading 1-0 at the time.

The first period showed the Blues on top of their game, outplaying and outmuscling the home team, and outshooting them 17-10. It was a concern. But like I say, we were leading.

Blues assistant coach Kirk Muller, interviewed midway through the frame, said there were good chances at both ends, but Kirk was just being polite because he’s a polite kind of guy. A good old Kingston boy.

Montreal was going nowhere, but Max Pacioretty deflected Tomas Plekanec’s shot with a minute and a half left, and outplayed or not, the home team took the lead.

Shortly before Alex Semin bulged the net in the second period with a fine wrist shot, Price made a huge glove save on Vlad Tarasenko, which prompted Scott Gomez to pat Price on the head.

Yes, that Scott Gomez. The face I hoped never to see again. Congratulating the opposing goalie like he used to when he played for the Habs. That Mr. Nice Guy thing to the enemy. The congratulations I never wanted to see again.

And there it was and there he was.

If the Blues are so good, how come they need Gomez?

Torrey Mitchell would make it 3-0 in the third frame after firing home a Subban rebound, and the Canadiens roll along like a train chugging across the prairies, with a bar car filled with us whoopin’ and hollerin’.

Random Notes:

It’s an amazing 7 goals against in 7 games for the team.

Although the Habs were outshot 17-10 in the first period, the Blues only slightly edged them in overall shots – 38 to 36.

There was slight nastiness. Nathan Beaulieu and Steve Ott squared off in the second period, and Beaulieu held his own against this guy who was playing like he wiped his ass with fibreglass insulation.

Ott was at it all night, that’s his game, that’s why he’s in the league, and he eventually got tossed with a couple of minutes left.

When I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers bantams and midgets, I was a bit of an asshole like Ott. But he gets in there and gives and takes blows, whereas I relied on bigger teammates to come to my rescue.

Next up – Friday in Buffalo, and it would be nice to make this thing eight straight. Buffalo might be better than last year, I don’t know. They’ve got this 18-year old phenom Jack Eichel, which must help.

Eighteen years old. Imagine.

The Sabres last year managed only 23 wins all season.

And we have seven already!

 

 

Torrey Mitchell Joins Habs

Montreal-area native Torrey Mitchell is coming to the Canadiens from Buffalo.

Mitchell, 30, is a right-handed forward weighing in at 5’11, 190 lbs, and at this point, because the news has just broke, I don’t know what the Canadiens gave up or why they took him in the first place.

And I won’t know for awhile because I need to leave. If you can add something about this, please do.

 

Canadiens Add A Couple

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The Canadiens gave up a second-round draft pick and a conditional fifth-rounder (which will become a third-rounder after the team marches toward the Finals), and pry defenceman Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers.

In a blink of an eye, the 27-year old Petry goes from the basement to the penthouse. He’s gotta like that.

I’d say the Canadiens are definitely set on the blueline, but I’m not going to bullshit you here, I have no idea how good or bad this guy is. The Globe and Mail calls him a smooth-skating puck-mover who will probably pair up with Nathan Beaulieu, and apparently he was Edmonton’s best d-man, but I’m not sure that says a lot.

Petry’s a righthanded shot with nice size – 6’3″, 200 lbs or so, and giving up draft picks seems a fair enough price to pay if the blueline is now set for a long run. He also becomes an unrestricted free agent soon so he won’t be looking to buy one of those new downtown Montreal condos just yet.

The Canadiens have also grabbed centre Brian Flynn, 26, from the Buffalo Sabres for a 5th-round draft pick, but this is no high-scoring impact player to solve the team’s scoring and power play woes. It’s simply a move to add either depth or become part of something Mr. Bergevin has up his sleeve before trade deadline draws to a close.

I wish The Amazing Kreskin was my buddy. I’d have all the inside scoops before they happened. What a blog it would be.

So far so good, but we still wait for a big and skilled forward to come aboard and give up next to nothing in return. We’ll see. The TV talking heads say Bergevin’s still not done and hopefully not, as long as the team’s  great chemistry isn’t affected in a big way.

Hometown Heroes

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Two fine hometown boys, Hall of Famers Gilbert Perreault (inducted 1990) and Mr. Beliveau (inducted 1972).

Perreault was born and raised in Victoriaville, Quebec (pop. 43,462), and Jean moved there with his family when he was six.

From the HHOF’s “One on One”I was a Montreal fan,” admits Perreault. “The Canadiens were our main team in the NHL. They had so many great players. I admired Jean Beliveau. I watched him a lot. I liked his style, I liked the way he moved and I liked his stickhandling.

Anyone who saw this great Buffalo Sabres star play knows just how how talented he was, with an extraordinary slickness when it came to handling the puck, just like Jean. Simply an incredible player with the Sabres from 1970-71 to 1986-87, notching 512 goals and 814 assists along the way (1326 points in 1191 games).

Perreault starred for the Montreal Junior Canadiens for three seasons before joining the Sabres, and when you see him with the Junior Canadiens (as in the Youtube video below), it’s a definite reminder that he would’ve looked good in a Habs uniform.

Thanks to Kathleen in Maryland for sending me the picture above  via Twitter @bflosenrab, and she adds that her sources say it was taken in good old Victoriaville.