Category Archives: Calgary Flames

“Oops” He Probably Said

Craig Conroy, now the assistant GM of the Calgary Flames, played 1009 games in the NHL with Montreal, St. Louis, Calgary, and L.A. (13 total games with the Habs).

He broke into the league with the Canadiens in 1994, and during his first practice with the team he drilled a shot that smashed into Patrick Roy’s mask.

Several Habs jumped him and Patrick Roy punched him in the face.

Oops.

The ’86 Cup Gang

It’s certain the Montreal Canadiens of 1986 weren’t a dominant team in the league, or a great team like the Habs of other years. Heck, they weren’t even as good as several other teams in these playoffs. But they won the Stanley Cup and the rest didn’t. And they did it through a blend of old, new, and a goalie who stood on his head.

Montreal’s 1986 Stanley Cup win over the Calgary Flames was the 23rd time the team had drank from the old mug, and surprising as it was for all the armchair quarterbacks and hockey experts of the world, there were actual reasons why they were able to do this drinking.

Patrick Roy standing on his head was a very good reason. The rookie won the Conn Smythe for his performance in these playoffs, and one stop in particular may just have saved the day for the Habs. Coach Jean Perron had called a timeout with the game winding down and Montreal leading 4-3, when just 30 seconds after the timeout and only 14 seconds left, Jamie Macoun thought he had it tied when he fired and waited for the red light. But Roy pulled out the most important big stop of the series to maintain the lead. “I wasn’t on the ice when Roy made that save,” grinned Bobby Smith.  “When he made it, I was on my feet yelling: ‘Roo-ah! Roo-ah!’ This smile is going to be on my face until September.”

But Roy wasn’t the only reason the Canadiens came through. It was simply an amazing and unheralded bunch.

Ryan Walter for example, who played with a half-healed broken ankle, and played like a demon. Team doctors said with astonishment that if it was the regular season, Walter wouldn’t have even skated for another three weeks. Walter later explained, “Adrenaline is an amazing healer with a Stanley Cup in sight.”

Guy Carbonneau, playing with a serious knee injury.

Chris Nilan, who sat out the last two games with a damaged ankle, said of journeymen Serge Boisvert and Steve Rooney, who had filled in, “I’m glad it gave these guys a chance to get their names on the Cup. They deserved it because they worked like hell and never opened their mouths.”

Brian Skrudland, who was knocked out cold early in the final game, put the Canadiens ahead, 2-1, for good in the second period and never missed a shift. Later, in the dressing later, he blurted out, “You don’t know how much being a part of this means to me.  Since I can remember, I’ve always cried when the Canadiens and Saskatchewan Roughriders lost.”

Gaston Gingras, a player who was made fun of in previous years because of miscues and a big shot with no control, was a big-time player in the finals, scoring three large goals. No one made jokes about Gingras after this series was over.

Craig Ludwig, a solid defenceman, with a back so bad he could hardly get out of bed in the morning.

Claude Lemieux, the target of every player in the league, losing two teeth and creating havoc and playing like a man possessed whenever he stepped on the ice.

Rick Green, who performed so well on the blueline he was considered the best defencemen in all of the 1986 series, including those from the other teams. And Green had been a scapegoat because he and Walter had come to Montreal in an unpopular trade that saw Rod Langway, Doug Jarvis, Brian Engblom and Craig Laughlin sent to Washington.

Bob Gainey and Larry Robinson, thinking their time may have passed and wondering if they would ever win another Stanley Cup – and they played big and won again.

Coach Jean Perron saying this 1986 team was the best defensive team in Montreal history. “When you don’t have great scorers you have to be great defensively. When we hang up that banner in the Forum, it will be screaming ‘defence…defence.’ ”

And there were others who made their mark too; Mike McPhee, Smith, Mats Naslund, Lucien Deblois and Mike Lalor to name a few, and Chris Chelios in just his second full year in the NHL.

Montreal would win again in 1993 and that would be it. We’re still waiting for another.

Blues At The Bell

The Canadiens got the Blues on Tuesday night, and the bastards ended the boys’ nice and tidy five-game win streak.

But nobody expects Les Glorieux to be glorious every night. The streak had to end, and it might as well be against one of the league’s best teams – the  big, fine skating, hard-hitting, well-balanced pride of St. Louis.

Besides, 4-3 is a respectable losing score. It wasn’t a 6-1 drubbing like they took against Washington in early October. Or 6-0 against Toronto in November when Carey Price was on the shelf and the world as we knew it was coming to an end.

One loss is nothing. All the Habs have to do now is win against the Flames on Thursday night and there will be no reason to think they’re falling off the rails again. Don’t be silly about that.

Three losses however, and Twitter will be all about the Subban trade again.

Jordie Benn’s blast from the blueline would tie things at one apiece in the first, but in the middle frame St. Louis opened it up to 3-1 with two goals just seven seconds apart.

Seven seconds apart. A real killer. And yet, the Canadiens didn’t die. This is the new Montreal Canadiens don’t forget.

Shea Weber fired a long-distance curveball to close the gap, and in the third, Weber again from the blueline tied things and injected some life into a a fairly quiet Bell Centre crowd.

Unfortunately, that was it. Braydon Schenn notched his third of the night to give his team the lead and the visitors skated off with a 4-3 win over the hometown Habs.

All three Montreal goals (Benn’s and Weber’s two), came from far out. In fact, if you were back in the late-1960s and living in say, Yorkville or Haight-Ashbury, you would probably say the goals were “far out.” They’d be far out, far out goals.

Door-To-Door Milkman

I was a door-to-door milkman in Calgary for a short while back in the early -’90s, and not once did a smokin’ hot woman meet me at the door in a silk negligee. Not once was I ever invited in for coffee by some buxom seductress.

The closest I came was when a lady answered the door in her bathrobe and a mouth full of toothpaste.

It was a lousy job. Low pay, cold, dark mornings, and I was new to the city and kept getting lost because my area had streets called Silver Springs Road, Silver Springs Way, Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Ridge, Silver Mead and a whole bunch of other Silvers.

One of my milk customers was Doug Risebrough, ex-feisty 1970s and early-’80s Hab, and during the time he and his wife and kids were drinking my milk, was coaching the Calgary Flames.

I never met Risebrough when I delivered the milk, but his wife was around. And they left me a tip at Christmas.

They lived in a nice house in suburbia in northwest Calgary (above all the streets named Silver), with a view of downtown in the distance and the Olympic ski jump off the other way.

I remember back in 1974 when the Habs played an exhibition game against some team at the Civic Centre in Ottawa (I was there), and one of the local newspapers did a story about Montreal’s hot new rookie, Risebrough, who was sure to make the team.

Risebrough made the team of course, and went on to play eight seasons with the Habs where he was a solid, gritty, checking forward and an important cog in the late ’70s machine that captured four straight Stanley Cups.

From Montreal he would move on to Calgary and played just over four seasons before joining the coaching staff there.

On those early mornings when I was on his street making my milk rounds, I wonder if he sometimes looked out his window and thought, “Man, is that a lousy milkman.”

Habs Clipped By Wings

It’s a loser point so it’s still okay I suppose, but definitely not something to do handstands over.

Not that I could do a handstand. But whatever. Maybe a pushup.

The Canadiens, in falling 2-1 to the visiting Detroit Red Wings, reminded us of too many times this season when they looked flat throughout.

Boring, confused, out of sorts. Weird and a bit baffling. The season’s winding down and they played like they were on tour in northern Saskatchewan.

And in overtime, when they had a chance to win it, Detroit had the puck most of the time.

Oh well. Not that big a deal. Unless they play like that on Thursday against Carolina. Would two lousy games be a hiccup, or the beginning of the end?

I’m remaining optimistic. Not a good night for the Habs and fans, but it was a point and I suppose they can’t always play like gangbusters.

I just think that management needs to get the wives out of town until June. How many times do I have to say this? It’s obvious.

I can take about five of them at my house in Powell River, and I’ll cash in an RRSP to put the rest up at the hotel down the street.

Random Notes:

Al Montoya was in nets, and the last time he was, on March 9th in Calgary, he and the boys lost 5-0. Tonight, it took most of another full game before his team would score for him, thanks to Artturi Lehkonen with 2:29 left in the third.

Do they play a different, more hesitant game when Al is in the nets? If they do, they shouldn’t.

Anthony Mantha’s overtime goal came with just 50 seconds left, with Alex Galchenyuk being walked around like he was Dion Phaneuf or Mike Komisarek.

Chucky isn’t a complete player yet. Maybe next year. Maybe not. Maybe never.

Shots on goal were even at 36.

The Canadiens are still 3 big points ahead of Ottawa, who beat the Bruins 3-2 tonight in Boston.

 

Habs Smoke Flames

So many good things to be happy with, and only one bad thing to grind teeth about. So as far as the big picture goes, the Canadiens 5-1 win over the visiting Calgary Flames was sensational and far out and, as we used to say, uptight and out of sight. (How stupid is that?)

But that one thing……….grrrr.

Five goals, including a pair of power play markers, and the Habs blitzed the Flames in a big way, even with the visitors outshooting Montreal 31-20.

A big night that saw a Tomas Plekanec shorthanded goal, a Calgary 5-on-3 man advantage for 50-odd seconds that was killed in style, two goals on the power play from Alexander Radulov, delightful clear cut breakaways by Philip Danault and Andrew Shaw (although they didn’t score)…….

……….and last but not least, Carey Price, the guy people have been wondering about lately, coming up big and kicking out everything that came his way.

Everything expect one puck with 1.1 seconds left in the game. 1.1 SECONDS LEFT IN THE GAME. With Radulov in the box, but whatever.

Would’ve been nice to see Price get that shutout. But he didn’t, and that’s that. We focus instead on a big night with a somewhat surprising 5-goal output, a power play that went 2/3, and a huge win after dropping their last 3 of 4 games and 5 of 8.

Also, because they’re good solid Habs fans, a hearty shout-out to all the folks at the Bell Centre who braved what seems to be ultra-shitty, icy weather in the Montreal area this evening.

I myself was warm and cozy, with the fridge, bed, and bathroom within very short walking distance.

1.1 seconds. Damn.

Random Notes:

Aside from Plek’s shorthanded goal and Radulov’s pair, the other goals came from the sticks of Andrew Shaw, who opened the scoring in the first period with under a minute remaining, and a great Carr-Mitchell-Carr bing bang boom in the third that made it 4-0 at that point.

The win was Carey Price’s first after losing his last three. A shutout would’ve been nice………….

Next up – Thursday in Brooklyn to tackle the Islanders.

 

 

 

 

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’.

 

 

Habs Drenched By Hurricanes

hurricane

I think it takes a special talent for a team sitting at the top of the heap to lose to a team at the very bottom and look tremendously mediocre while doing so.

Yes, those wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens, bowing to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in Raleigh, a team 20-some points behind them.

They can’t be feeling good about this. If Jean Beliveau was captaining this team, he’d politely and respectfully give them all a mighty fine and gentlemanly dressing room tune up.

But the Canadiens have that special talent to play down, having also lost to the 28th place Oilers, the 25th place Avs, and the 22nd place Canucks (and were bombed 6-1 by the Avs and 5-1 by the Oilers in the process).

The only good that came from this night was Daniel Carr, called up from St. John’s in place of Devante Smith-Pelly, who notched a wraparound goal in his very first shift of his first NHL game. That’s the kind of thing I’ve dreamed about doing off and on for about five decades or more.

It’s with great pride to announce that Carr played the 2009-10 season here in Powell River, at the barn not far from my house. However, I didn’t go to one game in 2009-10, so that’s the end of this feel-good story.

But I would like to say one thing. The BCHL is an underrated league, with lots of talent like Carr winding up in the NHL. You’d be surprised by some of the names, like Brett Hull, Paul Kariya, and even Carey Price for a season before heading to the WHL.

There’s been a whack of them. Even Scott Gomez for those three Gomez fans out there.

Carr’s goal in the first period got things rolling, but the Canes would even it up on the power play on a smooth finish by Jeff Skinner who simply flipped it over a sprawling Mike Condon.

In the second, Sven Andrighetto would give Montreal the lead after converting a nice pass by Jeff Petry, but two minutes later Joakim Nordstrom tied things up again, and into the third we went.

Carolina would take the lead briefly, but Michel Therrien’s coach’s challenge saw the goal ruled no-goal because of goalie interference. Whew, we thought. But it made no difference, because the Canes would score another anyway.

Later on, with Tom Gilbert in the box for tripping, Skinner, with his second of the night, won it for the home team.

It’s not the first time Gilbert watched a nightmare unfold from the sinbin. There was that fathers trip recently when he did the same sort of thing. Now, whenever Gilbert goes home during the off season, he’s grounded.

The Canadiens lose their second straight, or 3 of 4 if you want to go that route. And they sleek off into the night, hoping they don’t get beer pored on them by drunken and disgruntled Habs fans because they couldn’t play well enough to beat the team tied with Calgary and Edmonton as league’s worst.

Random Notes:

Eric Staal hit several posts, missed several open nets, and scored the goal that was called back. This is the guy who’s the subject of trade rumours, with Montreal being a possible destination.

Staal would be a nice addition, although we already have plenty of guys who can’t hit wide open nets.

And speaking of Staal. he was sent to the box with just over three minutes remaining for flipping the puck over the glass, but the Canadiens, with Condon pulled and enjoying a two-man advantage, still couldn’t get it done.

And because of that very thing, they didn’t deserve to win this thing.

Shots on goal – Habs 38, Canes 29. The previous game against Washington, which was also a 3-2 loss, they had 35 shots to the Caps 19.

Next up – Wednesday, when the Bruins show up at the Bell.

 

 

 

Habs Blast Jets

biplane-crashv

Such a fine way to begin November, with a dominate 5-1 win over the visiting, and sometimes belligerent, Winnipeg Jets.

But Dustin Byfuglien and his pals can take solace in knowing they got hammered by the best team in the league, which should make them feel better when they’re out breaking curfew tonight.

Backup goalie Mike Condon, between the pipes for injured Carey Price, allowed just one goal, which means the big fellow has let in just six goals in his first four starts, all wins, which is impressive to say the least.

Also impressive is the Habs scoring a total of 21 goals during these four Condon games.

Adding to the impressiveness – the David Desharnais, Tomas Fleischmann, and Dale Weise line, which tallied seven points in all. This line was flying all game, Fleischmann was on fire, but the team as a whole had their legs moving in fine style.

It’s hard to imagine these guys in another 30 years when they’re fat and can hardly skate.

The Jets, meanwhile, sat quietly on the tarmac, not going anywhere.

And then there was Paul Byron, listed as 5’7″, 153 lbs, playing like the much bigger Henri Richard, listed as 5’7″, 160 lbs.

Byron opened the scoring in the first period when once again, as he had done in Calgary two nights prior, burst in on a shorthanded breakaway to light the lamp. A fine deja vu moment to be sure.

Two goals and an assist for Byron in his three games, while Alex Semin sits in the press box each night now, wondering, drinking coffee, eating hot dogs, and asking Marc Bergevin if he can get him anything.

The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first, which is always such a nice thing, when lefthanded shot David Desharnais burst down the right side the way the Rocket once did, and after being stopped, Tomas Fleischmann banged home his first of the night.

In the second period it would be Fleischmann doing the bursting down the right side, with his shot eluding Jets goaltender Michael Hutchison. The starting goalie would soon be replaced by Ondrej Pavelec after allowing a fourth goal, a DD marker when he barreled in with Fleischmann and Nathan Beaulieu on what was basically a 3 on 1.

Lars Eller would direct the puck off his skate on the power play to widen things to 5-1, and in the third, the lone goal past Condon came from Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn, who looks like the Band’s Richard Manuel, who’s been dead for 29 years.

Random Notes:

The 7 points from the DD line included Fleischmann with 2 goals and 1 assist, DD a goal and 2 assists, and Weise 1 assist).

Canadiens outshot Winnipeg 26-19.

The team has now recorded 50 goals in 13 games, an average of 3.84 goals a game. Some serious fire wagon hockey going on with this league-leading team.

Next up – The dastardly Ottawa Senators pay a visit to the Bell on Tuesday.

 

Collapse In Edmonton

Price

This was going to be the night they’d get back on track. It was the plan, and it was a fine plan.

They’d stunk up the joint in Vancouver on Tuesday when they got mugged 5-1, and although they beat the Leafs just prior to this Western Canada jaunt, they were outshot 52-27 in the process. Enough was enough, we said.

In Edmonton they were going to redeem themselves. Be that team the hockey world was talking about after winning nine straight out of the gate.

And indeed, they jumped out to a 3-0  first period lead against the Oilers in Edmonton, and things were good. It was gonna be a big night. A great night. Edmonton fans would see what all the fuss was about. It might even be a slaughter!

Then it all came tumbling down, like Kim Kardashian’s boobs when she’s in her 60s.

In the second period, Alexei Emelin would play handball with a bouncing puck behind Carey Price, and video replay showed the puck clearing the line by an inch or so.

A game of inches. And it happened with a mere 52 seconds left in the frame, and which gave the Oilers the life they needed.

In the third frame, a screened long shot that beat Price made it 3-2, and I’m betting that every single Habs fan on the planet who was watching or listening felt that familiar and quite sickening feeling of the jig being possibly up.

And the jig was up soon after when young stud Connor McDavid shoved the puck past Andrei Markov at the blueline and sent Benoit Pouliot in alone, and suddenly, in horrifying fashion, the game was tied and the boys were in a heap of trouble.

Yes, Benoit Pouilot. A bum when he was a Hab, and one of the league’s dirtiest players. Doesn’t fight and isn’t tough, but prefers to shove his stick in guts and faces. And it had to be him.

The final blow? With just 1:02 left in the third period, David Desharnais was stripped of the puck behind Price, the little black biscuit was sent out to rookie Leon Draisaitl, and that was that.

Oilers with four unanswered goals.

As we used to say when we were kids when a game ended, “game deodorant”, and although it was always a fairly stupid thing to say, the game smelled so it’s fitting.

Random Notes:

Habs scorers – Brendan Gallagher deflecting a PK wrist shot from the point on the power play; Torrey Mitchell after nice work by Devante Smith-Pelly; and Alex Galchenyuk converting a beautiful pass across the crease from Andrei Markov.

Oilers outshot the Habs 27-21, the fifth straight game in which Montreal has been outshot.

Canadiens power play was 1/2.

Carey Price has allowed 12 goals in his last three games, after previously being on a run that saw him average just one a game.

Next up – Friday night in Cowtown. This is the game where they’re going to redeem themselves. This is going to be the night. Enough is enough etc.