Category Archives: Carey Price

Big Game, Big Win

The Ottawa Senators and their fans could almost taste first place in the Atlantic Division, and indeed, it almost happened.

Almost.

Settled in overtime on goals from Paul Byron and Alex Radulov, the Canadiens stretch their lead slightly over Ottawa to two points, and if Montreal can do it  again on Sunday against those same Sens, it’ll be a fine four-point lead, with the best part being the mind game part.

The part that says the Habs know perfectly well that they can handle this red-hot bunch from . And for the Sens, it’s the sobering thought that maybe they can’t beat the Canadiens when the going gets tough.

Back and forth the two teams went in a game that was much less boring than most this season, with Andrew Shaw giving his team the lead in the second period before Ottawa would score a couple to take the lead into the third.

The final frame saw Philip Danault tie it up, and 31 seconds later, Brendan Gallagher would fire one from a bad angle to give the boys the lead again.

But with just 4:57 left, Ottawa tied it to the cheers of the four thousand Sens fans at the Canadian Tire Centre, and after a scoreless overtime, the Byron/Radu combo stole the show to the cheers of the fifteen thousand Habs fans.

A fine outing for Montreal, aside from a whack of giveaways and blunders mostly early on. And if Alexei Emelin, who was a healthy scratch on this night, has become your favourite whipping boy, maybe you could share some of your wrath now for Jeff Petry, who wasn’t any better on this night than Emelin was the previous game. Why should Emelin take all the blame?

But I really don’t want you to have a favourite whipping boy. We’re all in this together, management, players, and fans. It’s time to support our team and everyone on it, with the playoffs just around the corner.

And that includes pulling for guys who have off nights.

The Canadiens won a huge game, and makes my heart soar like birds at the fishing hole.

Random Notes:

Carey Price held the fort for the most part, and although Sunday’s game means back-to-back, we need him between the pipes for that one too.

Rest in Peace, Chuck Berry.

On this day in 1892, Lord Stanley announced that he was donating his cup to hockey. Here it is here.

Habs Roll Against Rangers

It’s five in a row now for the Montreal Canadiens after taking out the Rangers 4-1 in Manhattan, and it makes my heart soar like a blue-footed booby.

This one’s getting ready to soar.

Definitely a sight for sore eyes to see a big, bruising, and hardworking Habs team that was flying for the most part, and when they weren’t flying, Carey Price was there to shut the door.

What a combination – big, flying, and Price. That’s a playoff formula if there ever was one.

Sixteen games left folks, and then the real wars start. It’s good to see what’s developing.

It seems like a team coming together at the right time, and all it took was a coaching change and four rough and tough guys added after a couple of small ones were subtracted.

How big is this team now? Only five are under six feet – Nesterov, Mitchell, Shaw and Plekanec at 5’11”, and Byron and Gallagher at 5’9″. That makes 17 guys at least six feet tall, and that’s why my heart is soaring like a booby after all the whining I’ve done over the years about too-small Habs teams.

The idea is to make the opposition not enjoy themselves one bit when they play Montreal, and finally it seems the case. There’s nothing worse than seeing a team lined up at the blueline and half of them look like Danny DeVito.

So a big shout-out to the big guys, including the new Norwegian, Andreas Martinsen, who used his 6’3″, 220 lb frame to rattle bones all evening.

Shea Weber would score the game’s lone goal in the first period after a fine faceoff win by new guy Steve Ott, while in the second, Artturi Lehkonen and Andrew Shaw would bulge the twine and make things a healthy 3-0.

In the third, arch-enemy Chris Kreider would narrow it to 3-1, but Jordie Benn’s shot from the blueline found it’s way past Henrik Lundqvist, and it ended as a mighty fine Habs road win and a beauty of a five-game winning streak.

All in all, an impressive showing by the Canadiens who now shift focus to their trip west, beginning with Vancouver on Tuesday.

Six straight would be nice.

 

The Dismal Beat Goes On

Late-’80s Claude Julien.

The wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens were rusty and sloppy in Claude Julien’s 2017 coaching debut, and their 3-1 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Jets ruined what could have been a fun breakout party for the new Blind River bench boss.

Probably rusty because they had five days off. And sloppy, regardless of who’s behind the bench. Nothing new about their sloppiness. They’d probably be a mess if Toe Blake was behind them.

Was any part of this loss Julien’s fault?

If he was Kreskin, he might have plunked Nathan Beaulieu into the press box pre-game, before this mediocre defenceman could think he was Bobby Orr during a second period power play, and which quickly showed he’s no Bobby Orr.

Or Gaston Gingras for that matter.

Beaulieu decided to do some fancy stickhanding and was promptly stripped of the puck by Joel Armia, who walked in and tied it.

And because Julien didn’t have his skates on, he couldn’t be on the ice at 1:16 of the third when Emelin, Weber, Plekanec, Danault and Max decided to show their soft and tender side as Big Buff muscled his way in from the right side and found Mathieu Perreault, who notched the winner easy as pie.

Winnipeg’s third goal was an empty-netter, so I guess Julien can’t be blamed for that one either.

Wasn’t Carey Price’s fault either, as the big fellow snagged shots left and right, including lightning-quick glove hand robbery on rookie star Patrick Laine’s laser in the first period and then again in the third, plus coming up big a plethora of other times throughout.

Price was his old self, which is a good thing. So were his teammates, which is a bad thing.

Gump Worsley, manning the pipes for the New York Rangers in the late-’50s, was asked what team gave him the most trouble. Gump answered, “the Rangers”.

Price can say exactly the same thing about his teammates. Coverage means more than just car and house insurance, boys.

Random Notes:

Jets outshot the Habs 33-20.

Either the Sens or Leafs will win tonight, considering they play each other. Which means if the Sens win they’ll be within two points of Montreal, and if the Leafs pull it out, they’ll be just five back. Both teams also have games in hand on the Canadiens.

 

Licked In Beantown


Done years back, when I didn’t know how to photoshop. I still don’t. It took a lot of clipping heads from gossip magazines, and not that it fits in this case, but I don’t have one like it for the Habs. I should.

So many great things to see in Montreal’s 4-0 loss to the Bruins in Boston.

There was a fine fight in the opening minute that saw Andrew Shaw deck Torey Krug with a solid right. This coming after Krug clocked Shaw on Dec. 12th, which resulted in our often brain-dead penalty taker being concussed for 15 games.

And I enjoyed referee Wes McCauley’s dramatic announcement of the fighting penalties with his mic on.

That’s about it. Everything else sucked, including this recap.

It also sucked to see happy Bruins fans. It’s just so much more heartwarming when these people look like they’re ready to jump off the John Hancock Tower.

Below, pretend it’s Shaw and Krug.

If you’re keeping track, that’s six losses in seven February games for the Canadiens. Points are slip slidin’ away. On far too many nights the gang has less than mediocre, and they’re causing me to rethink my list of passions.

My passions? Making my nose hairs look nice has jumped ahead. Teeth flossing is closing in fast. Sophia Loren and Sofia Vergara were already up there.

Carey Price allowed another four goals. It’s always either three or four goals a night now for our star goalie. Al Montoya is no worse, and he’s terrible.

Now the boys have five days off.

Michel Therrien? Maybe much more than that.

Random Notes:

After the boys’ five-day holiday where they’ll sleep in the basement and called names when they go out, they’ll host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, which is a 2:00 puck drop (or 11 where I live).

Nathan Beaulieu, who seems to be regressing instead of progressing, was called for slashing Zdeno Chara, which was a polite way of saying he rammed his stick up into Chara’s family jewels.

Chara scored a shorthanded goal to make it 2-0 in the second period, and if you see the replay, enjoy watching Beaulieu take a nice lazy skate behind as the big fellow closed in.

The Bruins made it 3-0 on the power play, and Beaulieu should’ve been benched for the final frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Friggin’ Nosedive?

I’m trying to make this interesting but it’s tough. It’s about numbers for goodness sake. Basic numbers, because I’m not smart enough for anything more.

In a nutshell, it seems the Habs could pretty well repeat their crappiness of a year ago if they don’t soon get their shit together.

Of course we remember last year. The year the Canadiens completed their worst season in history, finishing a pathetic 22nd of 30 teams after rolling over just about everyone in October and November.

But things would be different this year, we said! Again they dominated in October and we loved that. Dominating, with a healthy Carey Price! My spot on Ste. Catherine for the parade was already figured out.

Then, slowly but surely, teams started dominating them and it hasn’t seemed to stop. Colorado, a truly pathetic team, the worst in the league, kicked their ass last night. The Habs have sucked for weeks and weeks now. And Carey Price is looking mighty ordinary.

Last year, the year from hell, the Habs collected a feeble 82 points, not even close to going to the dance. Detroit needed 93 points to nail down the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

Montreal has 68 points so far this year, meaning they’ll need at least 25 points in their remaining 27 games to reach 93 points.

No problem, you say? Great! I love your outlook. It’s basically .500 hockey needed, which they’ve barely managed to do lately, but which is lousy at the best of times and completely unacceptable for demanding Habs fans.

Last season, after 82 games, the Canadiens scored 221 goals and had 236 scored against them.

This year, after 63 games, the boys have scored 158 times, and allowed 138.

So after bringing up the trusty calculator, I see that they’ll need 2.33 goals a game for the rest of the season, and also allow 3.5 goals, to match the output from the season from hell.

2.33 goals a game might be asking a lot. And they definitely could allow 3.5. The clouds are getting darker.

During the last four games, which they lost of course,  the boys scored a total of 3 goals.

The seven games before that, they scored 17 times, which works out to 2.42 goals per game, almost identical (2.69) to last year’s pathetic display.

I could go back further in the season because I have the good old S.H.I.T.S. (Scientific Habs Information Tracking System) in front of me, but the heck with it. Your eyes are closing and so are mine.

They’re falling apart again after a great start. Just like last year. With a healthy Carey Price this time around.

 

 

 

Saturday Morning Close But No Cigar

The Canadiens almost pulled it out in the dying minutes but they didn’t, so why even mention it?

Because I’m feeling guilty for slacking off lately with the recaps and this is the best I can come up with.

A 3-2 Caps win at the Bell Centre, in a game that saw the home team play with more vim and vigor than their comatose display in Philly Thursday night.

But 95-year old Betty White and a full century Kirk Douglas would play with more vim and vigor than the Habs’ Thursday sleep-in. So instead of doing a little summary of that recent yawner, I decided to pick my toenails and melt my ear wax instead.

Today (Saturday) was a game that began at 10:10 am at my house, which works out beautifully because it gives me plenty of time to track down my pusher. Same thing tomorrow when the boys greet the Edmonton Oilers.

Sure hope I don’t get ‘acid’ indigestion while stirring the ‘pot’ full of boiled ‘hash’ while I, uh, drink my ‘coke’.

I can’t wait for the playoffs. This 82-game schedule is merely a series of teams tweaking before real hockey begins. Let the Canadiens play like bums now, it doesn’t matter. Calm down and don’t get your shorts in a knot. Spent some quality time with your pusher instead.

The Maharishi would tell you the same thing if he were alive and not busy hitting on Mia and Prudence Farrow.

The postseason is the real deal, not Gary Bettman’s dream of parity, where almost every team is basically as good as every other team, in the regular season at least.

The top of the heap Caps are notorious flops in the playoffs and I expect them to do so again, mainly because it’s all we know from them. And surprises happen in late-spring. Small and quick teams with great goaltending, who were often boring and inept as hell beforehand, can sometimes surprise and go far at this time. Like Montreal will this year.

Just have to get the wretched season over with.

I hate parity. I want a handful of good teams and plenty of bad ones. It’s nice to see the bad ones play like gangbusters against powerhouses. Sometimes the poorer teams win because of hard work, lucky bounces, milder hangovers, along with supreme cockiness and worse hangovers on the part of the good ones.

Where was I going on this? What’s this about parity? Sorry.

Carey Price allowed his usual three goals, which he does on most nights now, but it matters little because it’s not the playoffs. So please don’t take his play or Galchenyuk’s or Shaw’s to heart. It means almost nothing.

Is there a rule that says Price can’t wear Jacques Plante’s old equipment during a game?

Random Notes:

Alexander Radulov was on fire today, with a goal, an assist, and a goal called back after Max interfered with Caps netminder Braden Holtby.

Below is Lyla, who is the main reason why my priorities have changed. Why I don’t write summaries after every game now. Why I often pace the floor or look at blank walls instead of paying attention to these friggin’ multi-millionaires on the ice who insult all of you when they float or sign their chicken scratch names on a piece of paper, which ultimately looks like something Lyla would’ve scribbled.

Lyla’s become way more important than getting wound up about any lousy regular season showing on the part of this team that I’ve put my heart and soul into for six decades.

My wife Lucy and I are raising this little girl, with great help from Lyla’s mom, even though we’re in our mid-60s. And I’m slowly converting my spare room, that was filled with rare Habs memorabilia, into a little girlie room, which I’m happy to do.

Lyla is real life, unlike the regular season.

 

 

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 Rock Rangers

The Canadiens rebound from a 7-1 trouncing on Thursday in Minnesota to edge the visiting New York Rangers 5-4 at the Bell on Saturday night, and church bells ring throughout the land.

So if you hear church bells on Saturday night or Sunday morning, it’s because the Habs won. What else could it be?

Not only did they win but they did it by scoring three unanswered goals in the third period to do it. It’s almost religious.

The first period saw Andrew Shaw, returning from concussion, interfere in the crease which caused Phillip Danault’s goal to be called back,  the team was scored upon with Shaw in the box, and to cap off the night for the returning not-so-bright forward, he blindsided Jesper Fast and received a five minute major and game misconduct.

Too much energy and adrenaline for Shaw, and not enough brain cells turned on. But whatever. The team won. And regardless of the lack of brain cells, at least Shaw plays with an edge.

I’ve been whining that the Canadiens have been too full of peace and love for a decade. Time to be mean assholes. But probably a bit smarter than Shaw on this night.

Alex Galchenyuk, back from sick bay after more than a month, tied the game with a deflection, but quickly the visitors went ahead after Alexei Emelin took the man but forgot the puck, and Rick Nash banged it home.

But….I don’t understand.

Kevin Hayes barged in, wrapped his skate behind Carey Price’s pad, and dragged the poor bastard out of the crease, thereby giving Nash the open net. The play was reviewed and the goal stood.

How come? Please tell me. Maybe Kerry Fraser can explain. I’ll watch for it.

Things were heating up, and the Bell Centre patrons sat up. Brian Flynn would shove it home to tie the game at 2-2, but tragically, our man Chucky would lose the puck along the boards, reliable old Shea Weber was beaten cleanly, it was 3-2 Rangers, and life wasn’t worth living.

Until it was.

The third frame saw Alexei Emelin fire a wrist shot home from the blueline to put things at 3-3, then Max would outrace two d-men to put the boys ahead 4-3, and Paul Byron would give them a beauty of two goal, 5-3 lead.

The Rangers would make it 5-4 with 5:07 left, but that was the best the Broadway Blueshirts could do.

Habs win 5-4. And please don’t fret about Carey Price’s mediocre play lately, or cracks in defence, or this or that. This is the regular season, where we only have to be concerned about them making the playoffs, which they will.

The regular season is only a rehearsal, a fine-tuning, a time to get the gang ready for opening night – the playoffs. I’m sure Marlon Brando was an asshole sometimes before the cameras rolled, and then rallied to give the performance of his life.

That’s the Habs. Ups, downs, fine tuning, readying for the curtain to rise.

Random Notes:

The Rangers outshot Montreal 33-32. Price came up big a bunch of times.

Next up – two tough games on the horizon. Detroit on Monday, and at home to greet Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Habs Burn Leafs

Just when the young and smug Toronto Maple Leafs and their giddy fans thought the team was rockin’ and rollin’ toward new and amazing heights, they came up against the gritty Montreal Canadiens.

Suddenly, all isn’t so fantastic in Leafland, as the visiting Habs, finishing off a seven-game road trip that took them to winter wonderlands like Miami, Tampa, Dallas, Nashville etc, waltzed into Toronto and won 5-3 in solid fashion over the Toronto Kadris.

Alexander Radulov was sensational, as was Carey Price, but for me the real hero was Shea Weber, who pounced and trounced Zach Hyman after the Leaf forward flew into Price and sent him sprawling. Then, as the second period came to an end, Weber once again sought out Hyman and made his point even clearer.

That’s what we want, and it’s what I knew we’d get from Weber when he came over from Nashville. This is is a guy respected by all, he’s a big brother to some and a leader to all, and he needed to bend Hyman’s nose to say it loud and clear in Toronto and around the league that Carey Price is not to be messed with.

The team will protect Price, and the corner was abruptly turned after New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri ran Price a month ago and Price took matters into his own hands. His teammates were embarrassed and criticized, but sometimes a team in the midst of gelling needs to learn a solid lesson.

And the Canadiens have.

Habs

Leafs

Three wins in their first three games of January. Last season, the boys won just three in the entire month. I’m proud of these crazy bunch of beautiful bastards. A team held together with band aids, and they won’t break.

Just a tremendous showing in front of smug Leaf fans.

Random Notes

Habs were outshot by the Leafs 36-31, and were 2/5 on the power play (Scherbak and Radulov).

Nikita Scherbak, in his very first NHL game, scored his first NHL goal with just one second left in the first period to give the boys a 3-2 lead.

Max Pacioretty had opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the game, and Artturi Lehkonen added another befor e the Leafs stormed back to tie it.

Radu scored his power play marker in the second frame to widen the gap to 4-2, but the Leafs would soon make it a 4-3 game.

In the third period, Michael McCarron salted it away by bouncing the biscuit off Leafs goaltender Frederik Anderson, who was quite shitty on the night. Anderson is keeping up the fine tradition of mediocre backstopping in Cabbagetown. It goes back many decades.

No sense naming the Montreal injury list. It’s old news.

But if you haven’t heard, it’s Gally, Chucky, DD, Pateryn, Markov, Byron, and Shaw.

Next up – Habs at home on Monday to battle the Washington Capitals, then it’s back on the road to Winnipeg and Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday. The wives must be lonely. (And if you are, my number is 604-555-1212. Call me.)

Photos – First – the art was done by me in grade two. Second – one of my old ads from crumbling newspapers. Third – My hockey coin collection. I have the other four teams complete as well. Fourth – the iconic Maclean’s magazine cover, with added script created by my friend Ed in Ottawa.