Category Archives: Carolina Hurricanes

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.

The Night MT Blew His Team’s Chances

Michel Therrien, as you know, coached the Canadiens once before, from 2000-01, when he replaced Alain Vigneault after 20 games, to part way through the 2002-03 season when he was fired and the team brought in Claude Julien.

That first season under Therrien saw the Canadiens miss the playoffs after going 23-27-13 under him.

The third season saw him fired after a dismal stretch that saw the Canadiens lose ten of twelve games.

But it was the middle year of Therrien’s reign, 2001-02, and in particular the second round of the playoffs, that became the saddest state of affairs.

The team, with a tremendously hot Jose Theodore in nets and a heroic Saku Koivu, who had returned to the team just prior to the post season after his fight with cancer, had upset the favoured Bruins in the first round and met the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.

Montreal would jump into a 2-1 series lead against the Hurricanes, and were leading 3-0 in the third period of game four when Therrien decided to yell at referee Kerry Fraser when the Habs were already a man short.

Fraser gave Therrien a bench minor for being mouthy, and it was downhill from there.

The Hurricanes scored on the 5 on 3, rallied and won 4-3 in overtime, and then clobbered the Canadiens 5-1 and 8-2 to eliminate Therrien and his deflated players.

Carolina would eventually lose in five games to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Finals after taking out the Maple Leafs in six games in the Eastern Final.

It could’ve been Montreal taking out the Leafs if it wasn’t for Therrien.

It could’ve been Montreal in the finals against Detroit, and although they would’ve been in tough against a team that boasted the likes of Shanahan, Fedorov, Hull, Yzerman, Lidstrom, Robitaille and the rest, at least they would’ve been in the finals, something that hasn’t happened since 1993 when they won it all.

But Therrien screwed it up.

Here’s Kerry Fraser’s explanation of the Therrien bench minor, from a 2011 TSN story.

“The bench penalty that put Montreal down two men was a turning point in the series for sure. The Habs were cruising along at the midway point of the third period and Therrien was feeling pretty good about himself and their chances, all decked out in his bright yellow sports coat. (I mention this because you couldn’t miss him behind the bench.)

“As the Carolina Hurricanes attacked the Montreal goal, Habs defenseman Stephane Quintal  delivered a heavy cross-check to the back of the upper shoulder/neck of a Cane with such force that it knocked the player clear into the back of the net. I was the trailing referee and called it from an open sightline at the blue line. It was an obvious infraction and Quintal went right to the penalty box.

“I was standing at the referee crease, about 90 feet as the crow flies from the Canadiens bench, assessing the penalty when I heard Coach Therrien screaming at me. I turned to see Therrien standing on top of the boards, like a big yellow bumble bee buzzing his wings up and down and hollering, “Kerry, what the *&^%$?”  At this point I really didn’t want to assess a bench penalty to put his team down two men so I thought I would give him a second chance. I pointed to my chest and mouthed the words, “Are you talking to me?”  Therrien nodded his head and shouted for the second time, “Yeah, what the &^%$?” I guess he wanted to make sure I got the point, even on the second attempt.”

 

 

Habs Win, Max Hurt

It started slowly for the Canadiens in Raleigh, half the game in fact, but they got it together to win 4-1 and now go into the Olympic break on a three-game winning streak.

The Hurricanes had opened the scoring in the second period when Carey Price was completely screened and had no chance, although he would’ve if P.K. Subban had decided to remove the player he was standing beside.

But no matter, four answered goals buried the home team, and that was that. But PK might want to get a bit more truculent with guys in front of the net once the playoffs start.

Price was excellent as usual, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be the starter in Sochi. He’s deserved it.

A fine win. Not the most exciting (how often have I said that), but a win nonetheless. Three in a row, and a surprising five wins in seven games from a team I thought was sliding somewhat.

And although they’ve been keeping the puck out of the net, they also haven’t been scoring. Until they buried nine goals in the last two games, that is.

They continue the march, somehow, some way. What a crazy team this is. Amazing. I’d love to see them shake off the Leafs, though, who continue to be blazing hot.

But as hot as Toronto is, the Canadiens are right there, sitting just above them. Both have 70 points but the Habs have played one less game.

So take that, Cabbagetownonians.

David Desharnais scored twice, Ryan White, who was selected the third star for the third straight game, and Brian Gionta in the open net were the Habs’ marksmen.

But aside from all that, Max Pacioretty crashed into the net, was helped to the room, and never returned. On the eve of him getting on a plane and heading to Sochi.

A horrible situation, and we wait to hear. But there is a silver lining. Max and his wife have a brand new baby, Lorenzo, and if an injury prevents a trip to Sochi, imagine the quality time he’ll have with his wife and son.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Carolina 32, Habs 24.

Rene Bourque played another solid game. He’s been a new man lately.

It’s Olympic time now, with the Canadiens resuming play on Feb. 26 when the Detroit Red Wings come to town. And maybe we’ll have Alex Galchenyuk back at this time!

I’m here every day regardless of the Habs break. Olympics, summer, Christmas. Like a stray dog you can’t get rid of.

Good luck to all the Habs playing in Sochi. Especially to Price and Subban. Bring it home, boys.

 

Max Leads The Charge

Canadiens whomp the hurting Vancouver Canucks 5-2 at the Bell, with three goals and two missed penalty shots by Max Pacioretty.

Two penalty shots, two minutes apart, by the same guy. I’m willing to bet that’s never happened before.

Max’s second attempt saw him almost come to a dead stop before he made any sort of move, but the puck was rolling and Luongo isn’t easily tricked anyway.

So that was that. But he got three anyway, so that’s fine.

Vancouver outshot the Canadiens 44-29 on this night, but Carey Price was there when called upon, and the gang was both fortunate and good going the other way.

Max’s first marker, which opened the scoring, was a PK shot from the blueline on the power play, and it hit Max on it’s way in.

Ryan White, selected third star for his second straight game after coming back from injury, fired a great backhand into the top shelf with new guy Dale Weise helping out.

And the boys went to the room after the first with a 2-0 lead, which was unusual considering they usually only score one or two in an entire game.

The second period saw the Canucks narrow it to 2-1, and not only did Max get his two penalty shots, but three guys were taken to room with injuries – Emelin, Murray, and Bournival, and only Emelin and Murray returned.

I couldn’t really grasp what exactly happened to Bournival, but he took some sort of hit or stick to the head or face, and after looking quite stunned on the bench, left and never returned.

It’s finger crossing time on that one.

In the third, a nice backhand from DD to Max for his second goal made it 3-1, then Pleks was the last to touch the puck before Canucks defenceman Alex Edler kicked it in bis own net to widen it to 4-1.

And after the Canucks scored another, this one on the power play, Max found the empty net and hats came down from the stands.

I don’t know about you, but as happy as I would be if one of our guys notched three, I’m sure I’d be unwilling to throw my thirty dollar hat on the ice.

But that’s just me.

A fine game, a great result, and these two points keeps the gap between them and ninth place at five big points.

Random Notes:

The Canucks have now lost six straight.

Dale Weise has been excellent in his two games with his new team. But just as he arrives and the fourth line makes great noises, one third of the trio, Michael Bournival, goes down.

Both Gally and Desharnais garnered a pair of assists, and the line, with Max, was a force to be reckoned with.

Rene Bourque laid on a couple of decent thumps, and if he could somehow find it within himself to step it up in the aggressive department, he could be truly valuable even when not scoring.

Imagine if Bourque was scoring and hitting? We wouldn’t recognize him.

Next up for the Habs – Saturday in Raleigh for a 6:00 pm ET puck drop. Or 6:10ish if you want to get technical.

 

 

 

Again, a 2-1Loss At Home

Two goals for the Habs in their two games played this weekend is a bit on the feeble side, wouldn’t you say?

A 2-1 overtime loss to Tampa Bay, and a 2-1 regulation time loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

And at the risk of stretching it a bit, before Montreal’s previous two games in beating Boston and Carolina, they had lost games by the scores of 5-0, 4-1, 5-1, and 5-3.

Yes, a bit on the feeble side. But that’s what this season is and will probably remain. Some fine games and a whack of lousy ones.

The problem is, they’re slowly inching closer to being out of the playoffs. So the whack of lousy ones needs to be less than a whack.

It’s imperative that they get their asses in gear.

We need to be patient, says Marc Bergevin. But Bergevin’s only been the GM for a short while. General managers before him told us in different ways that we needed to be patient too.

I hate the patient thing. I don’t know how to fix it quickly but I hate it anyway. Patience and bad moves isn’t supposed to mean two decades.

Being patient is for disciples of the Dali Lama. Bad moves is me on the dance floor.

And speaking of bad moves….. there was Bob Gainey, who once said “”We are extremely pleased to have acquired a player of the caliber of Scott Gomez.  Scott is an elite player who will certainly contribute to the success of our team for years to come.”

The beat goes on, on and off the ice. Don’t worry, front office. We fully expect to see a powerhouse in the next few years. Until we don’t, because we need to wait just a little bit longer than a few years.

And when a few years come and go, we’ll wait a few more.

The Canadiens started slow in the first period on Sunday, which not only happens often, but just seems to me to be inexcusable.

Start slow? How come? I prefer the rarely tested “starting fast” idea.

But they did pick up steam, and in the second period, after the Jets had made it 1-0, Brian Gionta first rang one off the post and shortly after, bulged the twine to give us all hope.

But lo and behold, in the third frame, Carey Price misplayed a puck near the crease and the Winnipeggers grabbed the lead and that was that.

PK scored on his own net yesterday, and Price fumbled the ball today.

Two days, two miscues, two 2-1 losses.

Just not a good time. And now is a chance to use a tremendously creative cliche I’ve just made up and one you’ve never heard before – “we’ll take it one game at a time”.

Because on Tuesday when it’s the Flames in town, the gang might be sensational.

In fact, they might be so good, they could even score three goals.

How great would that be?

Random Notes:

Brendan Gallagher played his heart out, worked like nobody’s business, and tussled often with Mark Stuart, who’s listed at 6’2, 213 lbs.

Some players have an abundance of heart like Gally. Others, like…….., don’t.

Flames on Tuesday, Canucks on Thursday, Carolina Saturday. Then it’s the Olympic break.

 

Habs Take It To The Bruins

With Peter Budaj coming up big between the pipes and a full team effort in front of him, the Canadiens skate away with a solid 4-1 win in Boston.

And just like that, two wins in row and they’re in everyone’s good books again. Or mine at least. I hate speaking for everyone else.

But I’m sure in yours too.

Because they played well and don’t deserve to have anyone mad at them right now. It’s a night and a tomorrow to savour. Then we’ll see how things go on Saturday.

It was in the air early on, when the game was played often in the Boston end, the boys were working hard and passing well, and slowly but surely we saw the Desharnais, Pacioretty, Gallagher line all over the place, getting chances, stirring things up near the Bruins crease.

We saw Alexei Emelin lay on solid thumps and get pucks in deep from the blueline, including the notching of his first of the season, a seeing-eye blast in the first to open the scoring.

Emelin, like his team, has played better these last couple of games, and seeing him be a force simply stirs the soul. A big tough hombre doing things right instead of wrong.

Like we knew he could because he has.

The Emelin play of late was hopefully just an aberration, lanced and purged, kicked to the curb and exorcised. Never to return.

The big bear also drew Milan Lucic into a penalty after some healthy punishment near the boards, which was nice to see considering it was Lucic who barreled over Emelin last April to put the big Russian out for seven or eight months.

Emelin’s getting back to what he does best. Not being gun shy. Playing with more confidence. Converting rib bones into dust.

And of course there was Brendan Gallagher, sending Max into the clear with a nice pass that Max would convert. And then Gally springing Daniel Briere loose for a fourth goal after Brian Gionta had tipped in a Tomas Plekanec shot.

And  a great feed from Gally to Desharnais which didn’t make it through but was a sensational pass from number 11, who absolutely played one of his finest games of the season.

It was a night for most Habs. Douglas Murray used his strength and was a rock throughout. Rene Bourque had all kinds of shots and good chances. Briere had a goal and an assist.

Michael Bournival was simply flying at times. Bournival’s still finding his way in the league, and in a year or two should be a real key guy.

Even George Parros made some noise, and it was interesting to see him in the Boston crease surrounded by Bruins and not one looked eager to try any of the after-whistle stuff.

Completely different from the mess some of our small guys find themselves in often. Size in the crease is a beautiful thing.

The Bruins were basically quiet throughout because the Canadiens weren’t going to be denied. Certainly they were as fed up with their mediocre play as we were. Maybe more but it’s hard to imagine.

And they played like they’ve moved onwards and upwards.

This was a tremendously important win. Two wins after such a funk they’ve been in lately. With everyone on board and in sync.

It makes my heart soar like an American Three-toed Woodpecker.

And although the Carolina team was probably tired after playing a bunch of games in a short time, Montreal was still full marks for that win and a huge A-plus for their effort at the TD Garden in Boston.

Bruins announcer Jack Edwards is presently crying in the announcer’s private toilet. They’ve taken his belt away from him.

Random Notes:

So great to see Budaj enjoy such a fine game after being on the losing end for his last six outings. Although three of those were in relief of Carey Price.

Shots on goal – Boston 35, Montreal 33.

Tuukka Rask was yanked halfway through after giving up the Gionta goal. It warms my innards.

Also great fun to see dejected Bruins fans leave early.

Next up – Saturday at 1 pm ET, when Tampa Bay comes a callin’. Then 24 hours later, the Winnipeg Jets are at the Bell. Two matinees on Super Bowl Weekend.

 

Canadiens Respond

They pretty well had to win. We demanded it. And how could they say no to us?

Canadiens shut down the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0, led by some great netminding by Carey Price, who surely must have been as fed up as anyone with the four-goal games and losses lately.

The cowboy played a big part in stopping the madness and lassoing a big win.

And although it wasn’t exactly a great game by the home team, it was a solid effort, as they came out more determined, more aggressive, harder on the puck instead of soft and lackadaisical.

You could see they were alive and on a mission, even though it wasn’t a classic. But it was a darn sight better effort than what we’ve seen lately, and that’s all we can ask.

A nice change, and it’s a step in the right direction. Now they’ve got the Bruins in Boston on Thursday, and if they liked the sweet taste of victory on Tuesday, imagine the taste buds on Thursday if they can whup those Beantowners?

But I’m not getting ahead of myself. It’s a win right now and it’s good. Carey Price played like he has for most of the season aside from the past six disasters. He was in form, often spectacular, and the boys blocked shots, a few posts got hit, and they got the puck out and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Brandon Prust opened the scoring in the first period, he played with vim and vigour in that first frame, and Brendan Gallagher in a scramble in the crease made it 2-0 before the siren to end the first was sounded. Max Pacioretty widened it to 3-0 in the second, that was all they needed.

Hard work and Carey Price took care of the rest.

Price held the fort when called upon, and the boys have the heat taken off them for a brief time. They just have to play well on Thursday to keep the mood light.  And to keep themselves from falling further down the standings.

And of course to keep us happy, which is the most important thing.

It’s a time for us to enjoy a fine win by the boys. Lord knows we deserve it.

Random Notes:

Canadiens went 0/2 on the power play, but only took three penalties, all in the second, which is mighty fine discipline if you ask me. But they have to get that power play going.

Carolina outshot the gang 36-30, but Price didn’t get that first star for nothing.

So nice not to hear sarcastic boos because of lack of shots. Canadiens got 10 shots in the first, 11 in the second, and just nine in the third, but they only allowed 8 Carolina shots in the final frame.

Nathan Beaulieu seemed to play with confidence and skated well. A great skating, puck moving defenceman is a beautiful thing and hopefully Beaulieu continues on this upward path.

 

Can’t Wait For Tonight

New pic from Darth says it all.

Darth

Just can’t wait to see if they stink again.

Will they play against Carolina the way they did the other night against Washington?

What if they’re half-past dead and play like they’ve just eaten a turkey stuffed with valium and get three or six shots in a period?

How unbelievable it’ll be if they do all this. After their stinker and the one before that and the one before that and before that.

If they come out flat, we need to drop an Acme safe on the bunch of them.

Do we have a captain to try and rally the troops?

It’s going to be interesting how it all unfolds.

Tonight we’ll see what they’re made of.

P.K. And Gang Do Dallas

Those wild and wacky Montreal Canadiens. Just when we were mad at them, they go out and play a cool game (for the most part), find the back of the net a bunch of times, and skate away with a truly entertaining 6-4 win deep in the heart of Texas.

Of course we can’t forget that they almost blew it in the third period to the pesky Dallas Stars, giving up two quick ones after leading 4-2, and visions of a Carolina-like meltdown danced in our heads. Or mine at least. I shouldn’t speak for anyone else.

But Lars Eller soon after restored the lead, Max salted it away with an empty netter, and frankly, except for the brief coming apart at the seams in the third, I think the boys played their best game in over a month, even though they allowed four goals.

It makes my heart soar like a Chinese Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler.

P.K. Subban enjoyed some mighty fine moments, weaving and stickhandling, passing well and sometimes using his feet, capping it all with a goal and two assists and looking like the Norris Trophy winner we know and love.

Max tallied twice and added a couple of helpers. DD had two assists and found himself in alone more than once. Snakebit Brendan Gallagher came through with a goal and an assist.

Even Travis Moen was in the thick of things, assisting on Eller’s go ahead goal and pummeling Antoine Roussel earlier on.

Josh Gorges was a warrior in the trenches and in my mind is the team’s true captain. Carey Price was excellent for most of the night. Lars Eller was dangerous.

So many guys showed up. A few didn’t but tonight is not a night to quibble.

Maybe that fiasco in Carolina, blowing a 3-0 lead, woke the guys up and they’re going to play like gangbusters from here on in.

The power of positive thinking.

Random Notes:

Dallas outshot the Canadiens 32-28.

Unlike the Carolina game where they took ten penalties and sat back and tried to win by blocking shots, this time they took just three minor penalties (and gave up a penalty shot), and played fire-wagon hockey throughout.

We want more like tonight. Fun to watch. A nice amount of goals. Lots of chances. Maybe the coaching staff and the players will agree that this is good, this freewheeling business.

C’mon guys, do it again on Saturday when the Sens show up at the Bell.

Less-Than-Great December

Thus ends December, and as you can see on the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System (S.H.I.T.S.), it ended on a sour and angry note instead of glee and giddiness.

Even though there’s a fair amount of yellow in December (8 games won, 6 lost), the boys didn’t play well for most of it.

The wins were all one-goal squeakers, except for the 3-1 game against Phoenix, but the third goal was an empty-netter. And as you can see in their losses, one was 6-0, another 5-1, then 4-1, and that pathetic implosion in Carolina when they dropped a 5-4 OT stinker.

Peter Budaj lost his last two starts, and was part of the miserable Los Angeles Kings 6-0 spanking when he replaced Price after our number 1 guy allowed four goals on 16 shots.

The saving grace is that the Canadiens are still firmly lodged in fourth place overall in the East, which isn’t chopped liver. Pittsburgh leads with 59 points, then Boston with 54, then TB with 50 and the Habs also with 50. Washington trails in fifth with 45.

Not bad by the boys, but for the big picture it is. Except for Price, who’s been mostly stellar, it was an entire month of mediocre hockey played.

Here’s hoping it’s new-found vim and vigour in 2014 . And maybe a trade or two.

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