Category Archives: Buffalo Sabres

Stuck By Sabres

The Canadiens scored just once (Tomas Plekanec), while the Buffalo Sabres netted two, which means, um…..the Sabres’ win ends the Canadiens five-game winning streak.

It was a meaningless tilt for the Habs standings-wise, although continuing along their red-hot path would’ve been nice. Momentum is always good.

But it was also meaningful because Carey Price was almost hurt after getting bowled over (and who knows, maybe he is hurt), and Alexei Emelin went off late in the second and never returned.

Please Mr. Cleghorn and the rest of the Habs hockey gods, no injuries now with just two games left before the postseason. Is it asking too much?

And gods, please have the Canadiens hit the net sometimes. Is that also asking too much? Hit the net for ***** sakes. High, wide, just missed, close, high again, wide again.

Damn.

Friday at home against Tampa Bay, and Saturday in Detroit before we get down to the nitty gritty next week. Once again, Sprague and gang, no injuries and better aim please.

Habs Continue To Rock

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been fighting for their playoff lives, trying to catch Toronto for the final wildcard spot, and were winners of their last four games.

Then they met the Montreal Canadiens.

Unfortunately for the Lightning, they ran into a team that’s looking mighty fine these days, and for the Florida-based team, their plans of postseason action just took a major hit after Alexander Radulov bulged the twine in overtime, and the Canadiens skated away with a 2-1 win, their fourth straight.

Rock and rolling at the exact time we want them to be. My chest swells with pride.

Montreal has done serious damage to Tampa’s hopes of catching Toronto (who edged Detroit on this night), but that’s what happens when the Lightning come up against a team now firing on all cylinders, with Carey Price doing his thing and the boys as a whole looking sharp.

Like a playoff team ready to make a large dent.

It’s a fine feeling to see the team play well when it counts. They give us hope, something that was lacking when MT was behind the bench. And after last season in particular, we deserve it.

Four more games for the Canadiens, and then the real fun begins. We’ll be looking for them to shoot down postseason enemies the way scary warriors shoot down monkeys on giraffes.

Just a tight, goaltender’s duel in Tampa, with Price at one end and Andrei Vasilevskiy at the other coming up big time after time. A sensational back and forth game, with wondrous play in overtime that finally saw Max find Radu, and Lightning fans filed out of the rink, got in their cars, and drove palm tree-lined streets to get home and drown their sorrows.

At least I’m assuming that’s what they did.

Random Notes:

The game was scoreless in the first, but the middle frame saw Phillip Danault stuff it home to make it 1-0 Habs. Tampa would tie it in the third by someone named Yanni Gourde, but then Max and Radu went to work in the three-on-three overtime.

Shots on goal – Canadiens 36, Lightning 22.

The Canadiens’ final four games will be within the next week, with the boys bombing over to Sunrise on Monday to throttle the Panthers, then to Buffalo on Wednesday to embarrass the Sabres, then home on Friday to meet these same downcast Lightning, and end it all in Detroit next Saturday.

Sabres Stab Habs

It’s three losses in the Canadiens’ last four games after falling 3-2 in overtime to the visiting Buffalo Sabres.  Or four losses in six if you’re interested.

Yep, the boys are far from smokin’.

They held on to a thin 2-1 lead going into the third period, they were playing well and were on their way to two big points, but they couldn’t nail down the all-important insurance marker.

They couldn’t muster any killer instinct, Buffalo would tie it at 8:07 of the third, and then the Canadiens simply decided to give about 50% instead of the required 110%. It makes my blood boil, considering I always gave at least 160% wherever I worked.

Sometimes 170%. But I digress.

Well, I’m kinda mad. But not at Carey Price, who was terrific throughout and came up with two astonishing saves in the last 20 seconds of the third period to get the boys into overtime and of course that important single point.

Price got them the point, not the guys in front of him. The Sabres were allowed to fire clear shots and move in close far too many times. It’s soft hockey. Doug Harvey would be rolling in his grave. And if Larry Robinson was dead, he would be too.

Sprague Cleghorn would’ve punched Lehner, a ref, Brian Gionta, and most of his own teammates for losing a game they should’ve won, against a much-inferior squad. Toe Blake would’ve torn a strip off them and taken away the beer on the next train trip. John Ferguson would’ve punched a hole in a cement block. But that was a different time of course.

Today’s players check their investments, go to dinner with friends from the other teams, and say “obviously” a lot when interviewed.

Full marks to Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, who absolutely robbed Alex Galchenyuk in overtime with a glove save on a hard shot while being screened. It’s marked for the highlight reels. His save, and Price’s glove on Rasmus Ristalainen, are two for the ages.

But alas, after Lehner’s big stop, Zach Bogosian would light the lamp and win the game and not that I’m the pessimistic type, but I’d say the Canadiens are in a bit of a mid-winter funk right now.

I’ll also say it again, it’s the wives fault and they should be rounded up and sent to Powell River until the season and playoffs come to a close. I’ll find something for them to do.

Random Notes:

Artturi Lehkonen and Philip Danault scored for Montreal, with both goals coming the middle frame.

Next up – Tuesday, when the Calgary Flames come a callin’.

 

 

Elite Perreault

The Buffalo Sabres, the team the Canadiens meet tonight, boasted one of the greatest players in the game, the magnificent Gilbert Perreault, who could dangle and dazzle with the best of them.

Nowadays, it’s almost as if he’s become a bit of a forgotten superstar for some reason, which is an absolute shame. The guy was amazing.

After starring for the Montreal Jr. Canadiens in the late-’60s, he would play 1191 games, all with Buffalo, scoring 512 goals and adding 814 assists for 1326 points, and in 1990 was inducted into the Hockey Hall of fame.

He would’ve looked just excellent in a Habs uniform.

This big Gilbert Perreault bobbing head doll is a whopping 3- feet high, is one of only 100 produced, and stands in the showroom of Classic Auctions in Montreal, where I once worked.

003

Habs Edged By Blue Jackets

bombed

The Stanley Cup champion Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

A nail biter.  A heart stopper, a thriller, and a barnburner.

Oh, that was game 7 of the World Series.

This game? 10-0.

And the Blue Jackets aren’t Stanley Cup champions?

Oh again.

stinker

And thus, the magical ride smashes full speed into a brick wall, and now we must consider something:

One loss is a baby slump. Two losses is a teenage slump. Three losses is a full-fledged adult slump.

Four or more straight losses is your grandma and grandpa and dead relatives slump.

And a slump creeps up like next month’s Visa bill. So the next game, which is also creeping up quickly, will be interesting.

Simply pathetic in Columbus, against a team 8 points behind our bunch. Inexcusable. I need to talk to the wives about this.

It’s just one loss, but they’ve sucked for several games now. Just as they did last year when they opened the season with nine straight wins.

Cracks in the armour lately. Turnovers. Laziness. Sloppiness. Two guys who score less than the Pope – David Desharnais on the power tonight and Tomas Plekanec on the PP against the Canucks.

I think that’s how it went. I wasn’t really paying a lot of attention as the night wore on.

Picture this: You’re a lifelong Habs fan living near Columbus, and you somehow nailed down a couple of great tickets to finally see your team when they come to town. You couldn’t sleep last night, you waited all day to finally head to the rink, and you wore beloved your Habs sweater with ‘Lafleur’ or ‘Beliveau’ on the back.

You watch your heroes warm up, and you think how much you love seeing that crest in person.

You’re in heaven. It’s so great.

And then your team gets demolished 10-0 and you want to stuff your sweater in the team bus exhaust pipe.

Random Notes:

Of course, if you’re a glass half full kind of person, you can always say that Stanley Cup-winning Habs teams have had a few pathetic nights.

The Canadiens, in their third year of five straight Cups, 1957-58, lost 7-1 to Chicago, on January 12th, 1958.

On Oct. 13, 1985, many months before they’d hoist the trophy, they were handed a 7-2 spanking by Boston.

When they won the Cup in 1993, they were bombed 8-2 by Buffalo on Oct. 11, 1992.

And who can forget Dec. 2, 1995, a non-Cup year but with Patrick Roy in nets, and the team was pasted 11-1 by Detroit.

But on this Friday night, they were embarrassed almost like never before. Snuffed out by the mediocre Columbus Blue Jackets 10-0.

Snuffed. Like this guy.

snuffed

Al Montoya was in nets for all 10 goals.

Shots on goal – Columbus 40, Montreal 30.

Habs power play was 0/1, while the Jackets went 4/5.

Next up – Saturday night, when Philly pays a visit. Will the boys get their shit together?

Or will it become a teenage slump?

 

 

 

Habs Handle Sabres In Opener

opening_night_logo

It was slightly sloppy and reasonably boring, but it’s October hockey, which is a far cry from deep winter hockey. They’re rusty, like me.

Heck, I quit doing recaps last season with more than a month left to go. But you understand. After the pathetic nosedive by the boys, you’d quit writing recaps too.

They owe us a big turnaround campaign, and it began Thursday night when the Canadiens skated off Buffalo ice with a 4-1 win under their belts.

It’s hard to be overly excited when it’s (a) October hockey, and (b) they won their first nine last year before free falling into the depths of hell, but it’s a new season with a roster makeover, and the new guys in the lineup showed grit and spark and became major factors in this bombing of the Buffalonians.

Al Montoya, in goal for the ailing Carey Price, was as solid as can be and stopped 30 of 31 shots fired at him.

Shea Weber thumped bodies and blasted missiles like we knew he would, although he missed the net several times in dramatic fashion. The big fellow was solid, tough, and imposing, and notched an assist when his wrist shot was deflected by Brendan Gallagher for the all-important third goal of the night for the good guys.

Alex Radulov showed plenty of smarts and composure, something another newcomer, Andrew Shaw, might want to consider.

Shaw batted home his team’s fourth goal of the night, but also received a match penalty at the final buzzer for slew-footing, which is despicable at the best of times, and it’s the kind of brain-dead act we’ll see from this fellow at various times throughout the season.

Shaw can be incredibly valuable, and can also be quite an arse, as we saw when he played for the Hawks. It’s something we need to get used to. If he doesn’t wear the CH we hate his guts, right?

Artturi Lehkonen seemed to have some chemistry with Tomas Plekanec and didn’t look out of place, although having said that, my mind did tend to wander throughout the game and maybe I missed a couple of things.

And young Mikhail Sergachev, only several months removed from being a 17-year old punk kid, looked fine but also at times looked like he might need another year in junior. But he’s a beauty with a great future.

Yes I’m excited about Sergachev, but I was excited about Jacob de la Rose, Jiri Sekac, and Michael Bournival too, so I have to contain myself. But Misha was the best d-man in the Ontario Hockey League last year, so maybe it’s safe to be excited.

Misha is the everyday nickname for Russian guys named Mikhail, so if you want to call Sergachev this, it’s perfectly fine. And while I’m at it, Radulov can be called Sasha, which is the common name for Alexander.

It was the heart of the team who did the most damage, though. Brendan Gallagher would contribute a pair on this night, the opener which was a long shot from the top of the circle that rang in off the post, and his deflection of Weber’s wrist shot for the third Habs goal.

Torrey Mitchell would score his team’s second goal after Paul Byron’s speedy rush created the opportunity.

Random Notes:

The Sabres outshot the Canadiens 31-24, but Al Montoya shut the door. The name Al Montoya sounds to me like a lounge singer with connections to the mob. I’ve always thought that.

Buffalo’s Evander Kane smashed into the end boards after getting tangled up with Alexei Emelin, and was taken to the hospital. Hope he’s okay, even though he can be a bit of a dipshit off the ice.

Next for the boys – Saturday in Ottawa to clash with a natural enemy.

 

 

More To The Roy And Brian Spencer Story

Spencer

A new email adds greatly to an old story.

In 2008 I wrote about former NHLer Brian Spencer and the tragic events surrounding his dad when CBC decided to air a Vancouver-Oakland game instead of the Leafs and Chicago, which was Brian’s first NHL game.

Brian’s dad, Roy, furious at not being able to see his son in this huge moment in time, decided to bring a rifle to the local TV station, where he would be gunned down by the RCMP.

You can see the full story here – The Sad Story of Roy Spencer and his son Brian.

Today I received an email from a woman named Carole Fawcett who was working at the TV station when Roy Spencer burst in, and I appreciate very much her taking the time to describe those horrific events.

Here’s her email:

Hello

I was at the actual event in Prince George, where I worked for CKPG Radio and Television. Just wanted to clarify a few details about the Roy Spencer incident.
He had actually been calling the station all day asking where the game was going to be showed. He was very abrasive and rude I remember being told. He came to the station that night, and once in the door, lunged toward me (I was at the reception desk), wrenched the phone from my hands, banging it against my face in the process. Then he went further into the station. Fast forward to the TV studio where he had us all lined up with his gun pointed toward us and told the TV Switcher to shut down the TV which he did – so all people watching in Prince George would have had their TV’s go black. He told us he had killed (said he was a commando in the war) and would do so again and that we were NOT to put the TV back on the air. He threatened one of the staff members and then subsequently all of us. Unbeknownst to him, Fiori D’Andrea had managed to call the police before he got to the television studio. So, when he went outdoors, the RCMP said – “Halt – or we will shoot”……………and he ended up wounding three RCMP officers. He was killed in the process. He was suffering from serious mental health issues…………………..and his ability to be rational was long gone.

Of course in those days there was no help for staff and we were expected to be back at work the next day.

Just thought you may want some details from someone who was there.

Carole Fawcett, MPCC, CHt
Master Practitioner in Clinical Counselling
Clinical Hypnotherapist

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.

kid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Notes:

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

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

Tampa outshot Montreal 39-27.

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