Category Archives: Carey Price

Ducks Quack Halak And The Habs

At least Ottawa lost, so that’s good.  But then again, Toronto won. So that cancels out the good part.

 

Oh, and there was a game at the Bell Centre.

 

Chalk that one up to one of those nights, forget about it, and move on. Because nights like this, a lousy 6-4 loss to the Ducks, are gonna happen. It’s a long season.

 

We just don’t want it to happen too often. Almost never, as a matter of fact.

 

We could say the five-day layoff made the team rusty, and that might be true.

 

Or we could say that Jaroslav Halak stunk, and that might be true too.

 

And we could say the Habs just didn’t have it on this night, although they fired 51 shots at J.S. Giguere.

 

The fact is, the Canadiens played their poorest of their seven games so far this season (although opening night in Buffalo was pretty bad too), and the Ducks, just like I was worried about, have used this little eastern road trip to snap out of their doldrums, having also beaten Toronto and Ottawa on previous nights.

 

Watching Halak reminded me of so many nights from recent years, when you never knew what kind of goaltending you were going to see, and far too often, weak goals were scored on the good guys. It was discouraging for the skaters, and nerve wracking for fans whenever the puck made its way inside the blueline. But that changed, for the most part, with the arrival of Carey Price.

 

Halak didn’t have it, allowing four goals in a period and a half, and was replaced by Price, who’s been fighting the flu all week. Price wasn’t tested a whole lot and gave up two goals, which is a whole lot better than giving up four goals.

 

You have to wonder what the outcome would have been if Price had started. 

 

On the positive side, Alex Tanguay notched a couple more to make it five in seven games, and Saku Koivu and Tom Kostopoulos also bulged the twine.

 

That’s it for positives.

 

Next Up:

 

The Carolina Hurricanes are in town on Tuesday. The game may be televised back in Raleigh as long as there’s no car racing and high school basketball going on.

 

 

Canadiens Take Out The Panthers. Jaroslav Halak And RDS Do The Job

Buying one of those PVR digital boxes (the thing that allows you to pause live TV, among other things) for my TV and subscribing to RDS French network for three bucks a month was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

 

Because now I may never miss another Habs game.

 

And Monday night, If I didn’t have RDS, I wouldn’t have seen:

 

The Canadiens notch their fifth straight win with a 3-1 squeaker over the pesky Florida Panthers.

 

Francis Bouillon playing in his first game after coming back from a leg injury and

scoring the winner in the third period. I would’ve missed this if I didn’t have RDS.

 

Other things I would’ve missed if I didn’t have RDS.

 

Tomas Plekanec finally getting his first goal, albeit into an empty net. Plekanec has started the season a little on the slow side, and this in turn affects linemate Alex Kovalev. Maybe this empty netter will get him going.

 

Montreal’s other goalie, Jaroslav Halak, stoning the Panthers for his second win in his second game of this young season. Having two excellent goalies is a real bonus, and with him in nets, Carey Price can be rested and we’ll still feel confident.

 Montreal has depth all over the place. It makes me proud. 

 

The RDS viewer’s poll asking the question – what do you prefer – The Canadiens red sweaters, or their white?

77% liked the red sweaters, 23% chose the white. 

 

I personally have a soft spot for the white sweaters because when I was a kid, it seemed like it was very difficult to find them in stores or catalogues. They were always red. I remember finally getting one, and I really loved it because it was kind of unusual at the time.

 

Montreal’s Les Cage aux Sports restaurants’ TV ad on RDS offering 8 free wings if the Habs score five goals or more in any game. But I already knew this because the lovely lady at http://thenotwithstandingclause.blogspot.com/ who calls herself No. 31 and is a great Habs fan, told me so last week.

 

All this because I have RDS.

 

GAME NOTES:

 

Montreal now has some well-deserved time off before Saturday when the Anaheim Ducks are in town. That should be a good test for the boys. Maybe Chris Higgins will be ready then.

And hopefully, Andrei Kostitsyn suffers no lingering effects from his concussion.

 

The following Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricane are in town to end the Habs five-game home stand. No 31 says Carolina should move back to Hartford and I agree.

 

Georges Laraque didn’t play because his groin injury was bothering him again. Hopefully his knuckles are fine.

Alex Tanguay Shines And Big Georges Flexes His Muscles Against The Not-So-Nice Phoenix Coyotes

It was so much more than just a nice 4-1 win for the Habs over the Phoenix Coyotes. It was good, it was bad, it was ugly. And because of the bad and the ugly, big Georges Laraque saw more ice time than he probably expected.

 

Andre Kostitsyn was leveled in the second period by someone named Kurt Sauer, and lay on the ice in obvious bad shape for an uncomfortable length of time. But in the end, he refused a stretcher and skated off with the help of his teammates. It wasn’t a nice situation, and younger brother Sergei was surely the most unhappy and concerned person in the rink. So far there’s been no word on how Andrei is, at least that I’m aware of.

 

That was the bad and ugly part.

 

The good parts were many. Tom Kostopoulos tangled with the bigger Sauer because Tom Kostopoulos does this. He sticks up for his teammates. And that’s why I think he’s one of the most important guys on the team.

 

And Georges Laraque was sent on, on an almost regular basis after the Kostitsyn incident, and after Alex Kovalev took a stick in the face, and big Georges did was he was brought to the Canadiens to do. He showed these goons that if you mess around with the stars, you have to fight him.

 

And who wants to fight Georges Laraque?

 

Teams will learn this quickly, starting tonight. Screw around and meet Georges.

 

Oh, the good stuff doesn’t end here. There was a goal and two assists for an apparently rejuvenated Saku Koivu. Carey Price was once again great. Guillaume Latendresse continues his good play and had an assist.

 

And last, but not least, there’s Alex Tanguay. This guy was born to play for the Habs. He scored two goals, this after scoring the shootout winner against Boston on Wednesday. He looks happy. He plays a good two-way game with the accent on finesse. It’s hard to imagine that he was such an non-entity in Calgary.

 

And not only that, but Tanguay is what Daniel Briere could have been in Montreal. He’s fast becoming the toast of the town, a good Quebec boy who’s fit in in Montreal like we’d hoped he would. He’s going to be a huge name as the season goes on, and he’s got a big smile on his face.

 

Briere wanted no part of this special limelight and chose Philadelphia. But that’s good. Because we’ve got Tanguay now.

 

And one last thing about Tanguay that I found really funny. He said the other day that he had no idea of the history of the Montreal Canadiens, except what went on in the last ten or fifteen years or so.

 

I suppose many players nowadays have no idea about the great past of the Habs, but when I think about it, I shouldn’t be surprised. These guys are young. Tanguay was born in November, 1979, so even when the Habs won the Cup in 1986, he was only six years old. (Is my math right?)

 

And I think he paid more attention to the Quebec Nordiques when he was a kid.

 

GAME NOTES:

 

I’m still having a little trouble getting used to not seeing the two big CH’s at centre ice at the Bell Centre. The big 100’s painted there are fine, but the CH’s are being missed by me.

 

The other new addition to the club, Robert Lang, has also fit in really well and notched an unassisted goal tonight. Bob Gainey made some nice decisions by bringing in Lang, Tanguay, and Laraque.

 

NEXT UP:

 

The Florida Panthers are in town Monday. This is another team I would move to Canada if I was the Supreme Ruler.

 

The Boston Bruins And Some Lousy Boards Almost Ruin A Great Party.

If it wasn’t for Carey Price, the Boston Bruins would’ve fought back from more than a 3-0 deficit. They almost overcame a bunch of Hab greats in the building, an anxious dropping-of-the-puck by Elmer Lach and Emile ‘Butch’ Bouchard that had me a little worried for Butch, a fired-up crowd, and the rest of us in TV land who only had eyes on the Canadiens.

 

And the Montreal Canadiens got no help at all from the supposedly state-of-the-art Bell Centre.

 

It began like a Disney movie. The interviews with Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur, the old players introduced – Henri Richard, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe and many others, the vintage photos and films, the lavish praise from hockey analysts, and most importantly, three big goals in the first period by Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu, and Maxim Lapierre.

 

It was a perfect script. Better start drawing up the parade route plans.

 

But then, disturbingly, the Canadiens adrenaline, for whatever reason, dried up half-way through, and little by little, only Price was there to keep it close. So much for the classic third-period team I talked about yesterday. Montreal proved that first-period hockey absolutely isn’t good enough.

 

Shamefully, it was a construction flaw that almost turned a great night into a complete disaster. An innocent shoot-in that hit an obvious seam in the boards that fooled Price, banged in by the Bruins’ Marc Savard, and with only 47 seconds to go, the game was tied.

 

It’s unacceptable for the boards to have this flaw. Montreal brass better have a good long talk with the maintenance foreman.

 

In the end, Alex Tanguay scored the shootout winner and the night was salvaged. But it’s not good. Montreal has to play a full sixty minutes. Thankfully it’s early in the season and they can learn a big lesson from this.

 

This is how the Canadiens almost lost the opening round series to Boston in last year’s playoff, by not keeping the pedal to the metal.

 

So there’s still some fine-tuning to be done.

 

But it’s two points. And for now, that’s good enough.

 

GAME NOTE:

 

Georges Laraque, in his first game in a Habs uniform, in the first two and a half minutes of the game, had a good scrap with Bruins’ Shawn Thornton. And although it was fairly even, Laraque made his presence felt, which I’m sure is what he wanted to do.

 

The crowd started to boo Guillaume Latendresse a little tonight. He has to pick it up a little.

 

Next up – The Phoenix Coyotes visit the Bell Centre Saturday. You can bet the boards will be fixed by then.

 

 

Canadiens Find Their Legs In The Third And Send A Message To The Flyers

One thing’s for sure. Being a third-period hockey team is better than being a first or second-period hockey team.

 

The Montreal Canadiens are a classic third period team, which is good and bad. Sometimes, an exciting late comeback can be too little, too late. But other times, they pull it out in magnificent fashion. 

 

Like tonight.

 

It’s a beautiful thing. Waltz into Philadelphia to meet the enemy for the first time since getting bounced by this team last spring, and skate away with a tidy 5-3 win. A nice two points.

 

But it was hit and miss for awhile.

 

Too many penalties by Montreal in the first two periods disrupted any flow they might have had. A couple of goalposts were hit by Alex Kovalev. They killed a big two-man short penalty late in the first. Carey Price was solid on way too many Flyers chances. Mike Komisarek threw his weight around. Maxim Lapierre got into it with the obnoxious Steve Downey. And scuffles occurred periodically throughout the entire game.

 

A typical Montreal-Philadelphia game.

 

But they got it together in the third. It makes me proud.

 

The Canadiens went into the third period losing 2-1, but Roman Hamrlik, on a beauty of a play by Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Kovalev, tied it up.

 

Then Mike Komisarek and Robert Lang scored to make it 4-2. The third-period team had come alive. Philadelphia got close again, but Steve Begin iced it into the empty net for the fifth goal.

 

Such a nice win. Every Habs fan should be in a great frame of mind right now.

 

I’ve just one little concern. Why is Saku Koivu so quiet? Is his foot still sore?

 

Next Up!

The Canadiens home opener on Wednesday at the Bell Centre against the Boston Bruins. This will be exciting. The atmosphere will be amazing. And when you see those rotten kids in Habs uniforms on the ice with the flags, remember, that could’ve been me.

 

It just doesn’t seem right.

 

Game Note:

The Kostitsyn boys were impressive once again. Both these guys are all-stars.

Montreal Travels To Philadelphia, And I’m Sure They Haven’t Forgotten

With the Canadiens in Philadelphia Monday night, the memories come swirling back to last spring.

 

Montreal had taken out Boston in the opening round in a hard-fought series, then met the Flyers in round two, and it didn’t go the way it was supposed to.

 

Alex Kovalev, Tom Plekanec, Chris Higgins, and many other Habs somehow lost their edge, while RJ Umberger for the Flyers played like Mario Lemieux, and goalie Daniel Biron and his goalposts got the job done for the bad guys.

 

And Flyers defenceman Kimmo Timonen laughed in Tom Kostopoulos’ face. Remember that?

 

Most unsettling for Montreal and their fans was that Carey Price, who had been so terrific as a rookie goalie all through the year, seemed tired and let in goals he wouldn’t have let in a month prior.  The Flyers had everything going for them, and Montreal had hit a wall and were on the golf course sooner than hoped.

 

Flyers fans took it upon themselves to comment in droves on this site, berating me, berating the Canadiens, laughing at Price, making jokes about Canadian women, the flag, our weather, and in general, really taking it to me. When the series finished, I’m sure they carried on with their creativity in Penguins’ blogs.

 

The bottom line, though, behind all the fun and games, was that Montreal didn’t get the job done and the Flyers did. 

 

Now they meet again Monday night. The Flyers still have a good team like last year. Just ask Pierre McGuire. He says it’ll be the Flyers in the Stanley Cup final, not Montreal. Umberger’s gone, but it’s a team built around big guns Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Biron.

 

It won’t like playing the Leafs Monday night. It’s going to be tough.

 

Time for a little payback, boys. I know you haven’t forgotten. 

 

 

Habs Take out Detroit. This Is Good, Even Though It’s Only Pre-Season

Good 2-1 shootout win tonight (Tuesday) against the Detroit Red Wings. However, pre-season is pre-season so I’m not going to go into great detail.

 

Highlights included Carey Price swatting the puck behind him to save a goal, and 19 year old Max Pacioretty notching the lone Habs goal, plus another in the shootout. He played really well and if this continues, he’ll be tough to send down.

 

TSN announcers Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire were hard to understand at times because they mumbled as they told their little ditties. They almost make me miss Bob Cole.

 

Sergei Kostitsyn played, but older brother Andrei didn’t.

 

Robert Lang didn’t look overly impressive, but I’m a patient man.

 

I wonder if the hot dogs are as good at the Bell Centre as they were at the Forum.

 

Detroit didn’t play Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. The Wings were probably concerned that I may have put the injury hex on them so they took no chances.

My Evil Thoughts About Detroit, Which I Feel Bad About…Plus…What It’s Going To Take For The Habs To Do It.

Pittsburgh doesn’t worry me. Either does Boston, or Buffalo, or Tampa Bay, or the Rangers. Calgary doesn’t worry me, or Dallas, Anaheim, Vancouver, and Colorado.

 

In fact, no team worries me about getting in the way of Montreal’s big season. Except Detroit. They worry me. Not a lot, mind you. Montreal will take out any team. This is the year.

 

But Detroit is a concern.

 

It isn’t even so much that the Wings landed Marion Hossa. And I’m not at all concerned about Kris Draper and Tomas Holmstrom or most of this team for that matter, including Johan Franzen, who is probably just a one-hit wonder like Iron Butterfly was with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita.

 

 It’s three other guys in the Motor City I’m not crazy about.

 

I’m hoping Nick Lidstrom pulls a hamstring. Maybe a couple of times. And maybe Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg could break a finger or two. Nothing serious, just a finger. Even a pinky finger. They can still make whoopee with their wives. They just can’t shoot the puck.

 

But regardless.

 

This is the Year of the Habs. And all that needs to happen is this:

 

Carey Price, with a year under his belt, can’t be tired at the end of the regular season, and his confidence can’t take a nap at any stage in the year.

 

The defence, led by Mike Komisarek and Andrei Markov, has to play mean and ugly and dangerous. And this also means Ryan O’Byrne. He in particular has to play with an edge that scares the bejeesus out of opposing players. 

 

Up front, Saku Koivu needs to have one of his best years ever. Alex Kovalev has to take his magic into the playoffs. And Tomas Plekanec needs to become a household name throughout the league.

 

Alex Tanguay has to play like he’s been a Hab for years.

 

It’s time for Chris Higgins to become a real star this year. A big star. A huge star.

 

The Kostitsyn boys have to continue to blossom, as they’re expected to do.

 

Robert Lang has to make us all forget what Mats Sundin might have done in Montreal and be the final piece of the puzzle that’s been missing.

 

Guillaume Latendresse has to finally become a player. It’s time. We’ve been waiting patiently. 

 

Tom Kostopoulos, Steve Begin, Josh Gorges, Francis Bouillon and the rest just need to keep doing what they did last year because they were great.

 

Georges Laraque has to become the new John Ferguson.

 

The team needs to have a very fine power play again, like last year. And they have to score a lot of goals, like last year.

 

And they have to be stingy with goals against.

 

Youppi has to relive past glory and become the mascot he was with the Expos.

 

The Ole song must only be sung when the team’s about to win, not when it’s close.

 

And everyone, please stay healthy. (I’ve noticed that Koivu and Laraque are already nursing minor injuries.)

 

And that’s it. It’s simple!

 

Pre-season update:

The boys lose big to Boston 8-3, but take out Buffalo in Roberval, 3-2.

And with those cameras so low at the Roberval arena, it felt like we were there, in about the fourth row. It reminded me of the outdoor game in Edmonton a few years back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See Ya Later Mats. Welcome Aboard Robert Lang!

Waiting for Mats Sundin to figure out what he wanted to do turned sour after about the first month. And finally, in the middle of September, with training camp close to happening, Bob Gainey made his move.

 

Because I’m sure Gainey was even more sick of the Sundin thing than we were.

 

So he went out yesterday and landed centre Robert Lang from Chicago, and now the team is set for training camp with all the pieces in place, and scoring Lang instead of Sundin isn’t that bad a thing at all.

 

It’s all strength down the middle now, with Lang, Saku Koivu, Tomas Plekanec, Maxim Lapierre, and Kyle Chipchura.

 

Robert Lang’s been around. He’s 37 now, and has played with six previous teams, LA, Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit, and Chicago, and was even Alex Kovalev’s centreman in Pittsburgh. He’s a playmaker who averages 50 points a year, and is going to be, in my estimation, a key player with the Habs.

 

This means the Canadiens are now a mix of older and young, of experience throughout, with Carey Price beginning his second full season.

 

The Canadiens gave up a second-round draft pick in 2010, which is fine. Because this is a team gunning for all the marbles this year, their 100th season, and the time is ripe.

 

This Lang thing puts me in a good mood. I’ve got big expectations for him. They say he might he play alongside Kovalev, just like in the old days. And he seems really happy to come to Montreal, which is of the utmost importance. “You never want to get traded or have to move your family,” he said, “but I think it’s going to be a great situation. It’s a great hockey town.”

 

Of course it is, Robert. It’s the greatest hockey town on the planet. You’re walking into a great thing, and I know you’re 37 years old, but you now belong to a historic and legendary team and you’re going to do great.

 

Welcome aboard, Robert. Wear the CH with pride.

 

ALSO:

 

Patrice Brisbois has resigned with the Habs and this is good too. Brisebois, mistakes or not, is a classy guy with something to offer, but unless there’s an injury from another blueliner, he won’t see tons of ice time. 

 

And this is another guy who wants to play in Montreal and had hoped that Gainey would resign him so he could stay. And he may even pop the odd power play goal.

Another Brief Bee Hive Moment – Durnan’s Out, McNeil’s In

 For seven years, between 1943 and 1950, Bill Durnan was Montreal’s star goalie. He was such a great goalie, and also such a great team player, that by the end of the 1940’s he was even wearing the captain’s ‘C’, which, of course, is quite unusual. And he was also ambidextrous and wore a sort of combined catching glove and stick glove on both hands.

Durnan retired in 1950, claiming his nerves were shot, which opened the door for his backup goalie, Gerry McNeil. McNeil had been around since 1943 but never got a real chance until Durnan retired. McNeil was in goal the night Toronto’s Bll Barilko scored the Leafs’ famous Stanley Cup winning goal in 1951. (Barilko would die later that summer in a Northern Ontario plane crash.)

McNeil tended goal for Montreal until the mid-fifties, when his backup goalie, Jacques Plante, took over.

So Bill Durnan begat Gerry McNeil, who begat Jacques Plante, who begat Charlie Hodge, who begat Gump Worsley. And then Ken Dryden appeared like a gift from God, and Patrick Roy followed several years after that.

And now we’re at Carey Price. Ain’t life grand?