Category Archives: Calgary Flames

Humbled At Home

Saying the Canadiens were lousy is pretty well all that needs to be said about the 6-2 loss to the Calgary Flames at the Bell Centre.

The Flames were excellent, the Habs weren’t. Montreal was outworked, outskated, outsmarted, gave up plenty of giveaways, and it was all capped off by the Flames fifth goal coming after P.K. fell down.

An embarrassing night for the CH, and this business of the other team usually scoring first is more than tiresome. The madness has to stop. Come-from-behind wins eventually slow down to a crawl. Like now.

Don’t look now but the team has lost their last three of four, so if it’s not a full-fledged slump, it could be very soon. It’s time for some soul-searching. I know it’s early but slumps are slumps and when the team is about to enter one, it’s depressing whether it’s early or later on.

They didn’t play well in Western Canada and it continues in their first game back at home. They need to play much better than this and it certainly can’t be hard. They just need to look at tapes of this game and do the opposite.

Random Notes:

Calgary outshot Montreal 19-4 in the first period, which is unacceptable to say the least. The great October run must have given the boys swelled heads.

Overall shots on goal – Calgary 36, Montreal 20.

Rene Bourque finally scored, which puts him on track for a 7-goal season. Max got the other. (Late-breaking correction – Bourque’s goal was given to Lars Eller later on, so forget the 7 goal thing).

Next up – the Hawks are in town on Tuesday. Time to stop the nonsense.

 

Habs In Vancouver

If I would’ve tried to stay up to watch the Habs in Vancouver in a game that began at 10 pm in the east, there’s a chance I could’ve fallen asleep at the control panel and if my head dropped on the wrong button, missiles would have been sent to various places around the globe and I couldn’t risk that as you can well imagine.

So I went to bed, saved the world in doing so, and when I woke up in the morning saw that although the Canadiens had tied the score in the third period on goals by Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty, the team would eventually lose 3-2 in overtime.

3 of 6 possible points on this western Canada road trip. Could be worse I suppose.

Now it’s the Habs facing the Calgary Flames on Sunday night at the Bell. At a nice 7 pm eastern.

 

Two Points In Calgary

002

I’d like to thank Rene Roy in Halifax for searching stores there and finding these two Peps which he sent me right away, and which came on Tuesday whereas I ate one just minutes later.

Can’t find them anywhere in Montreal. Couldn’t find them anywhere in Kingston either. But Rene found two in Halifax.

Canadiens in Calgary after getting whupped 3-0 Monday by the boys 3 hours north up Highway 2.  I used to drive parts of that number 2 when I drove semis out of Calgary. It’s a dangerous stretch. Too flat. Too much wind. Too many cows to distract you.

Oh, you’re saying, he used to drive semis? Yes I did, for 20 years. 14 in Ontario, 6 in Alberta, from the mid-1970s to mid-’90s. Was never all that crazy about it, and I was never able to figure out how to be a trucker who worked out of the house.

Again it’s a late puck drop. 9:00 eastern. I surrender.

First Period:

Three Habs penalties. Two Habs power plays.

0-0 after 1. Is that interesting?

Second Period:

1-0 Flames when a nice shot by Mark Giordano, who looks like he needs to shave about three times a day, beat Price after mass confusion led to big trouble.

The team is way out of sync. Nothing’s going right. They’re playing like they had a liquid lunch at Dusty’s Saloon, a place where I once chatted with Louis Sutter, dad of the Sutter boys, when we stood side by side at the urinals.

That happened to me one other time when Vancouver billionaire tycoon Jim Pattison and I peed side by side at urinals in a wholesale food warehouse.

1-1! Tom Gilbert out of the blue, with nice work from Rene Bourque, a man not usually known for his digging in the trenches. Habs fans at the Saddledome sing ole ole soon after.

I’m a non-ole type of guy. I wish someone would blow the song up.

Flames are outshooting Montreal 25-11. And the Canadiens power play continues to be pathetic. They should hang their heads.

Third Period:

Three Canadiens in the box late in the period, but the boys now need to buy Price a steak dinner.  He’s saved their bacon a bunch of times. Too many penalties in this game, and the Edmonton affair, including an Emelin trip to the sinbin with just 2:13 left.

The Flames had seven power plays but failed miserably. Thanks to Price and Price only.

Overtime:

Back and forth they went, 4 on 4, and it was mostly Price once again. No goals, and in the shootout, P.A. Parenteau got it done and the team heads over the Rockies to Vancouver with two points in their pocket.

Random Notes:

The Flames outshot Canadiens 38-19.

Game time Thursday in Vancouver – 10 freakin o’clock.

Game Night Eyelids

This

Habs in Edmonton, the coffee’s brewed, the puck is about to be dropped, and already it’s my bedtime. That’s why the coffee’s brewed.

How long can I go?  And to make matters worse, it’ll be the same on Tuesday night when the boys are in Calgary. Time zones should be the same across the continent, with all games starting at 6:30.

Period One:

Dustin Tokarski is between the pipes for the Canadiens, and on the home front, the big pot of coffee won’t stop bubbling. I knew I shouldn’t have poured Lucy’s homemade sugar whiskey-based arthritis cure into it.

A Max goal called back, confusion at the blueline, the loathsome Benoit Pouliot scores with 19 seconds left, and it’s 1-0 Oilers.

That, combined with too many Habs penalties (4), and I’ve decided to make a double Harvey Wallbanger.

Period Two:

I just looked in the mirror and I look like shit. Maybe I’ll dig out the bennies and peyote buttons. It’s only period two, there’s lots of hockey left, and peyote makes me look better.

Unchecked and wide open, Yakupov makes it 2-0. So depressing, and the coffee and sugar whiskey aren’t working out. I keep missing my mouth.

Galchenyuk and Yakupov had dinner today at Yak’s house? John Ferguson would hate that. I’d better eat some buttons and drink some toasts to Fergie.

Period Three:

Just heard a noise. After asking the cat, it turns out it was my nostrils. Shut the %$&# up, nostrils.

Even though the walls are slanted and the floor feels foamy, the pills and peyote aren’t working.

The game’s not gone well. Lousy power play.  And there seems to be too many players on the ice. About 37 on each side. And one of the linesmen has snakes wiggling out from the holes in his helmets.

Oilers’ empty-netter. 3-0. I stayed up and partied for this?

I’ve got the munchies, and if you want my advice, don’t snort Friskies. It doesn’t inhale well and it’s not fair to the cat.

Shut out by the shitty Oilers and their insane coach Dallas Eakins. Good night.

 

Habs Chuggin’ Along

It was a simple enough game plan. Beat Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers, the team that ended the boys’ playoff hopes and dreams last spring.

Win and it would mean a breathtaking 7 wins and 1 loss out of the gate.

And win the Montreal Canadiens did, with a score of 3-1 over the visiting Blueshirts, and now it’s the big silver bird west to Edmonton on Monday, Calgary Tuesday, and Vancouver on Thursday.

It’s a good thing the western swing begins in Alberta and not Vancouver. The West Coast is preparing to batten down the hatches for hurricane-type weather, and a hurricane outside and a Habs hurricane inside just wouldn’t be fair to the locals.

Carey Price was brilliant on numerous occasions on this Saturday night at the Bell. His glove hand flew out like a striking snake,  with more than a handful of Rangers’ quick and close-in shots swallowed up by Price’s trapper.

It was Price’s show, not Lundqvist’s. All part of the perfect game plan.

Finally the Canadiens would open the scoring, something they had managed only one other time in this early part of the season. And it was done in style when Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty, on the ice killing a penalty, found themselves with a clear-cut two on nothing breakaway.

After four passes back and forth, Pleky finished off what had amounted to a perfect and unstoppable play.

1-1 after the first. 2-1 in the second when Lars Eller notched his first goal of the season. And in the third frame, after Eller hit the post, Dale Weise would dig the puck out to Max and the Rangers were sunk.

The Canadiens in general were solid, the Eller, Weise, Bourque combo made an impact, Price was amazing when he had to be, and Max made things count on the all-important first and third goals. But it’s a team game and plenty of guys punched the clock and made it work.

Makes my chest swell. Kind of makes it level with my stomach.

Such an impressive start to the season. Keep it rolling on the western swing to close out October and make this an absolute month to remember.

 

Summer Notes From Habsville

A number of things happened Habs-wise this summer, the most surprising being I was able to decipher the notes I’d made regarding the things that happened Habs-wise this summer.

Gone are Daniel Briere, Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Tomas Vanek, Ryan White, Douglas Murray, George Parros, and anthem singer Charles Prevost Linton.

Francis Bouillon, at this writing, remains stranded on the desert island named Limbo. Douglas Murray’s island is slowly sinking. George Parros’ island is somewhere near the lost continent of  Atlantis.

White now finds himself in Philadelphia where one of his jobs will be to protect captain Claude Giroux from grabbing police officers’ buttocks, and Bouillon’s future seems secure. If he doesn’t find a hockey job, the City of Montreal is ready to step in and make him a fire hydrant.

Auditions are now in process for the anthem singing gig. Unfortunately, management, with a somewhat prickly attitude, has informed me that I’m not allowed to be singer AND stick boy.

Forward P.A. Parenteau, from Colorado in exchange for Briere, is now part of the family, and Gorges and Gionta aren’t, as the two UFAs were picked up by Buffalo, a place Gionta is probably happy about being. Gorges, maybe not as much, considering it’s Buffalo.

Parenteau is 31 and hopefully more effective than Briere, who is on the verge (Oct. 7th) of becoming 37. Gorges’ passion and shot blocking will be missed. Gionta’s captaincy will be replaced in a year or two, and until then, Max, Markov, Pleks and P.K. will serve as assistant captains.

In the spirit of fairness, Markov, with the most seniority, should be the one to accept the Stanley Cup from Mr. Bettman next spring.

Signings this summer involved free  agents Manny Malhotra (1-year, from Carolina), Tom Gilbert (2-years, from Florida), and goaltender Joey MacDonald (1-year, from Calgary). And Jiri Sekac from the KHL Lev Praha squad signed a two-year entry level deal.

Those with new contracts include P.K. Subban, at 9 million a year for 8 years. Apparently there is no truth to the rumour that P.K. has bought the Sun Life Building in downtown Montreal to use as his winter residence, so you can stop thinking about that.

Regulars Andrei Markov (3 years), Dale Weise (2-year extension), Mike Weaver (1 year), Lars Eller (4 years), and coach Michel Therrien (4-year extension), also penned their names on paper.

Chosen in the 2014 Entry draft, 26th overall, was Moscow-born Nikita Scherbak, who looks, speaks, and plays like a young Alex Galchenyuk, who’s a grizzled old guy now.

Assistant coach Gerard Gallant is now the head guy in Florida and replaced by Montreal native Dan Lacroix.

Lacroix helped out behind the Rangers bench last year, and if it was he who advised the despicable Chris Kreider to run Carey Price and then Dustin Tokarski, he should be hung by the thumbs outside a Bell Centre window for several hours, and then be forced to teach our guys (aside from Brendan Gallagher) how to run goalies too.

Player Development guru Patrice Brisebois leaves and replaced by former NHLer Rob Ramage. And Trevor Timmins has had the title “Vice President of Player Personnel” added to his “Director of Amateur Scouting” handle.

Timmins is widely respected, particularly in Northern Ontario where they named a small city after him.

Former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, an ultra-talented battler if there ever was one, retired after 1124 regular season games played, with his last 5 seasons in Anaheim and 13 years and one lockout season with Montreal before that. Thank you Saku, for all you did for the Montreal Canadiens and the city. Which was plenty.

And finally, Mensa member Brad Marchand mentioned that he dislikes Tomas Plekanec quite a bit. “Anybody who spells “Thomas” without  an “H” is a rotten bastard”, said Brad.

Other things could happen in the days and weeks too. If so, just mentally paste them to this.

Pat’s Time

I worked in Hull, Quebec at the E.B. Eddy paper mill in the mid to late-1970s when Pat Burns was a local cop there.

I never met him. I just thought it was a good opening paragraph.

I’ll bet as a cop, Burns was a beauty. Tough as nails. No nonsense.  We saw how ferocious he was as a coach. Smart-ass punks would have stood no chance.

The ex-cop has now been chosen as part of the 2014 Hall of Fame gang, along with Dominik Hasek, Mike Modano, Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, and referee Bill McCreary.

Who knows why Burns wasn’t picked five or ten years ago? Maybe he’d ruffled some feathers before he passed away in 2010 from cancer.

This was a tough hombre who wouldn’t have stood for any guff from legends in their own minds who run various branches of hockey, including members of the HOF selection committee.

The bottom line is, he was a strong and successful coach who deserved to be placed in the Hall. There are plenty in there who are debatable choices, but not Pat Burns.

It was Wayne Gretzky, who owned the Hull Olympiques from 1985 to 1992, who convinced Pat to quit the beat and coach the Quebec Junior team full time. It worked out beautifully.

Of course it did. Because everything Gretzky touched back then seemed to turn to gold.

As a coach, when Pat Burns wasn’t raging, he seemed as likeable as can be in interviews, and by many accounts was popular and personable to everyone he wasn’t collaring or coaching or happened to be near when he was in a foul mood.

He admitted it was tough in Montreal with the pressure from media and fans, he didn’t always handle things in a cool and calm manner, and I’m sure at times, reporters would tread lightly after a tough loss. Would you want a pissed off Pat Burns glaring at you?

He was behind the Habs bench for just four years, his learning years as an NHL coach from 1988 to 1992, and was awarded the Jack Adams Award in 1989 for top coach in the league after taking the boys to the Cup finals before falling to the Terry Crisp-coached Calgary Flames.

(I wrote a letter to my sister in Calgary before that ’89 series had started, giving my prediction along with a little made-up series review which I titled “Pat Burns Terry to a Crisp”)

Next stop was Toronto, where he led the Buds from 1992 to ’96, and where he’d win the Adams in 1993. And from there it was four years with the Bruins (1997 to 2001),  where he’d earn a third Jack Adams Award, this one in 1998.

It sucked to see Pat Burns running the bench in Toronto and Boston. It always sucks to see a beloved Hab in those enemy uniforms.

Following Boston it was the New Jersey Devils in 2002-03 for Burns where he’d win the Stanley Cup, and then one final year after that with the Devils before being diagnosed with colon cancer.

A great career, successful almost everywhere he coached. And on Monday, November 17, 2014, eleven years after his final line change, we’ll see Pat inducted.

Late, but better late than never.

 

Game 3 Coming Fast

There’s not a lot I can add to the Montreal Canadiens situation after  what’s being bandied about on radio, TV, the internet, morse code, and around the potbelly stove where grandpa sits.

The Canadiens almost went up two games to none over the powerhouse Boston Bruins, but settled instead for a win and a horrifying loss after blowing the lead late in game two. It was enough to drive someone to drink.

But instead of dwelling on what could have been, I’d rather talk about Rene Bourque, the Man Who Wasn’t Helping.

He is now though. For whatever reason.

I find it mind-blowing to see how Rene Bourque has played in the playoffs so far. The guy we wanted gone. The guy who looked uninterested and unmotivated and often half-asleep. Now transformed into a force to be reckoned with.

What happened? Did the thought of being bought out finally sink in? Did he have some sort of awakening while sitting on the couch at home, that maybe if he tried harder he could be a strong and incredibly key guy on the team?

Did a teammate call him out in front of others, which is what I was hoping for?

Or do the Canadiens have a terrific head doctor who made Bourque his pet project?

Whatever it is, I like it, because one can never have enough great skating, great shooting power forwards. It’s what Bourque was supposed to be in the first place when he came here in the Mike Cammalleri trade in the winter of 2012.

But as good as Bourque has been playing, and ditto for Lars Eller – another who many of us were truly disappointed in because we’d seen glimpses of greatness – we now need the DD, Max, Vanek line to stop spinning their wheels and lend a hand.

Vanek scored two the other night, but they were merely tip-ins on the power play, which is great but also one-dimensional. We need these three to dangle and pass the puck around like a pinball, like we saw when Vanek showed up in the first place when the line gelled and we were overcome with giddiness.

Vanek has 5 points in 6 games, which is decent, but his overall play is hesitant at best. DD has 3 points in 6 games and Max also has 3 in 6. All three seem invisible for long stretches, and we know absolutely that they can be much better than that.

But no one knows it better than them. The question is, can they do something about it, like Bourque and Eller somehow managed to do?

Against the Bruins, we need all hands on deck, which isn’t rocket science.

For some reason, whatever the DD line was doing in the regular season seems to be gone at this stage. They look tentative and unwilling. They seem nervous. Their passes aren’t of the pinball variety, they’re more like the kind I make.

And about others, is Brandon Prust (1 point in 6 games and often a non-factor in all aspects) playing at 90%, or 70% or 50%, and is his nagging shoulder the reason his play lacks pizzazz? Almost definitely, to answer my own question.

Should Ryan White replace him and maybe add a spark?

Should Douglas Murray replace Francis Bouillon and help calm down the Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla, Kevan Miller, Milan Lucic feistiness?

Kudos to Brendan Gallagher, who continues to be a whirling dervish. Kudos to so many, Carey Price and PK Subban especially.

The team’s in the thick of the hunt and it’s all we can ask, except for some great players to pick it up a bit.

Just need some tweaking and three more wins in the next week or so. And again, all hands on deck.

Addendum:

I just heard from two different sources, Marjo and TSN 690, that Rene Bourque has the flu and may not play in game 3. Gawd.

 

 

 

Annually Disappointed

Interesting story in The Hockey News sent over from Ian Sirota about fans in 10 cities who are completely long-suffering.

Always teased, always disappointed, their team always falling short.

And no, the Habs aren’t on the list. They’re not even on the honorable mention list. I’m not sure why. We’re annually disappointed.

It’s right here. Thank you Ian for the link.

Habs Blank Cowtowners

It wasn’t a barnburner, the crowd was in something slightly less than a frenzy, and the boys didn’t fill the net, but they beat the Calgary Flames 2-0 on Tuesday, and that’s plenty good enough.

Especially with Toronto losing and the Rangers winning. Results that tie the Canadiens with the Leafs and keeps them one point up on New York.

It’s a slippery slope out there.

They also end their two-game losing skid. Yessiree, it’s all good news tonight.

We also saw something quite startling. A Habs fourth line that rocked, a Bournival, White, Weise combo that skated miles, checked hard, and earned a few good chances.

Good to see Ryan White back. He adds character, except for those times when he loses his mind. White suffered an upper body injury during the Jan. 2 game against Dallas and has only just returned now.

Newcomer Dale Weise can really skate, seems to know what to do out there, and likes to get down and dirty. It was great to see his fine first contribution.

And Raphael Diaz in a Canucks uniform potted one in his first outing with his new team.

Fine debuts for both of them. Although we want Weise to sparkle and Diaz to fizzle on Thursday when the Canucks pay a visit.

I’m not going to get overly excited just yet about Weise – it’s just one game from the ex-Canuck, but it was a fine outing with his brand new team, and he, White, and Bournival seemed to truly compliment each other.

Having a solid fourth line can prove very important.

Not the greatest game ever played on Tuesday night. Not when the shots on goal were 5-4 Habs after the first period.

But in the second, after the puck came within a whisker of going completely over the line behind Carey Price, the Canadiens then killed a full two minute five on three when Lars Eller and Tomas Plekanec were resting uncomfortably in the box.

It was a huge kill, and soon after, none other than Rene Bourque scored a bit of flukey goal, and the boys held on until David Desharnais found the empty net to salt it away.

A fine win, even though Bell Centre employees are still finding a small scattering of people asleep in their seats.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal 26-26

Canucks in town on Thursday, then it’s a flight to Raleigh to meet the Hurricanes on Saturday night. After that, the Olympics to watch and enjoy.