Category Archives: Carolina Hurricanes

New Guy Semin

Right winger Alexander Semin, recently bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes, has been picked up by the Habs for one year and 1.1 million. Cheap like borscht, unless you live in the real world of course.

With Semin, we’re just gonna have to wait and see. The former first-rounder scored forty goals once upon a time, while last year he managed just six. He’s known as a talented enigma, somewhat polarizing like many of his fellow hockey-playing countrymen, and when you read fans’ comments throughout the web, you see that a bunch think it’s a fine deal with nothing to lose, while plenty of others feel he’s a bum who might be better off selling vodka in Vladivostok.

Semin is 31 years old, has nice size at 6’2″, 209 pounds, and over the course of 635 NHL games played with Washington and Carolina, notched 238 goals and 275 assists for 513 points. Definitely decent numbers, aside from last year’s miserable showing, and now it’s time to pull up his socks once again and help our boys. He joins Gally, Dale Weise, Devante Smith-Pelly, and fellow new guy Zack Kassian on the right side.

It’s all fine and dandy because he’s cheap, but it’s still tough for me to shake the image of his fight with Marc Staal back in 2009 when he slapped away like Liberace on the ivories. Look it up. I can’t bear to, now that he’s a Hab.

It was pathetic and I never wanted this guy on my team because of it. And now he is.

I’m working on this issue though. I was never a great fighter either, and if I was a lousy fighter, who am I to criticize another lousy fighter?

And maybe, aside from fighting, he’ll help.

 

Another Fine Blanking!

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The Canadiens looked like they were coming off a Demerol party when they lost 4-0 to the Sharks on March 2nd in San Jose, and which kicked off the 3-game hard-to-swallow California crushing.

It had us all in a dither.

But Saturday at the Bell, the boys played hard-hitting, slick passing big time hockey as they slayed the Sharks 2-0, making it three straight wins, four of their last five, coming not long after the aforementioned California slide had us searching for the key to the liquor cabinet.

Great game by the Habs, regardless of the fact the shirtless Joe Thornton told Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson between periods that his line had been in Montreal’s end all game.

Not what I saw, Joe. And really, for the sake of us guys watching, could you please put a shirt on.

Carey Price saved the day when called upon, which could be said for just about every time he’s manned the nets this season, with this being his 9th shutout (tying M.A. Fleury for the lead), and second in a row after beating Carolina 4-0 on Thursday.

The win is also Price 40th of the season, just two back of the Habs all-time leaders Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden, which is absolutely exciting. Price has entered the Land of the Giants.

Tomas Plekanec got his team on the board in the first period, his 22nd of the year, on a great play that gave him most of a wide-open net to shoot at. The goal also came at a great time, with just 1:14 remaining in the period, and we could see that with the way they were playing, taking the lead late like that could very well spell serious trouble for The Shirtless One and his fish.

Brendan Gallagher would notch the insurance marker, his 21st, in the third with the Sharks’ net empty, and with just seconds left and the boys up 2-0, the Ole, Ole song began, with props to the singers. You sang it at the proper time for a change. When the game wasn’t in doubt.

And man, were the last few minutes tense with the goalie pulled and the score still 1-0, and with the game, and a shutout, on the line.

But the Canadiens came through, as they did all night, standing their ground, checking hard, passing well, and all in all, unless you’re a Sharks fan, a mighty fine night at the not-so-old Bell Centre.

A nice, impressive hometown win by the gang, and a tremendous thing to see, considering there’s only nine games to go and maybe, just maybe, they’re rounding into playoff form.

Random Notes:

Tom Gilbert took a puck in the mouth area during the second period and was gone for the night. Hopefully it’s only a chiclet or two and nothing more.

Props to Brandon Prust for playing a fine game, including a nice piece of business on the penalty kill late in the game.

The Canadiens have reached 99 points, tied with Anaheim for top of the heap.

Alex Galchenyuk needs just one more to reach 20 goals.

Next up – Tuesday, when the team hits Music City, U.S.A. to shut out the Predators.

 

Habs Halt Hurricanes

Slightly condensed tonight. Sorry.

Carey Price nailed down his 8th shutout at the Bell on Thursday soir as the boys win 4-0 over the Carolina Hurricanes and look decent while doing so.

Decent except for the second period when they let Carolina have their way a bit too much, and of course had to rely on Price to come up big. (Although a couple of pucks slithered through him and across the crease).

This team is spoiled rotten, having a goalie like Price to save their bacon when they slack off.

Dale Weise opened the scoring in the first by banging home a rebound after Brandon Prust had done much of the legwork, and Brendan Gallagher increased the lead to two after Tomas Plekanec stormed in and Gally finished it off.

In the second frame DD took a nice pass from Tom Gilbert while the boys had the extra man out on a delayed penalty, and in the third, Max, while trying to set up Pleks, had the puck bounce off Hurricanes goaltender and proud Ust-Kamenogorkier (pop. 322,000), Anton Khudobin, for Max’s 35th of the season.

C’mon Max. Five more.

A fine 4-0 win over a team that’s not that great, but a not-that-great of a team that the Canadiens can beat. Unlike others.

It makes my heart soar like the Birdman of Alcatraz’s buddies.

Next up – Saturday, when the Sharks swim into town.

Shots on goal – Canes 31, Habs 22.

Canadiens Wound Panthers

Montreal survived a 21-4 shots on goal attack in the third period and 43-25 overall as they edged the Florida Panthers 3-2 in Sunrise and now head back to the friendly confines of the Bell Centre for a Thursday night battle with the Carolina Hurricanes.

All five goals in this game came in the second period, with Canadiens markers by Alexei Emelin shooting from the blueline, Jacob de la Rose converting a nice feed from Brandon Prust while killing a penalty, and a long shot from P.K. Subban, which proved to be the winner.

And best of all, aside the from the two points, was Dustin Tokarski’s work between the pipes. Toker was solid like we knew he could be but hadn’t seen much of lately. A fine night for the backup, who had lost his last four and five of six.

But tonight he was confident and steady, and his mom, who was my favourite in the 24CH segment showing the mothers on a two-city road with their sons, will be proud and happy. She was sure proud and happy (and emotional) during that trip.

We need this fellow at the top of his game with the very real possibility of Carey Price being run by some thug as the playoffs approach, or sometime during the postseason. Just like last year.

Memos should sent to all playoff-bound teams that the league knows teams are thinking about doing this, and if it happens, they’ll have the player’s balls for bookends. The coach’s too.

Tonight shows that Toker can get the job done, and that’s great, because we were starting to wonder.

The win puts the Habs at 95 points, tied with the Rangers for beasts of the East, while the Panthers’ hopes of grabbing the final wild card berth took a serious hit, especially with red-hot Ottawa, also trying to nail down a spot, sitting ahead of them.

The only complaint I can muster is seeing the boys sit back in the third, with most of the play in their end, and holding on for dear life. But they got the win so it’s forgotten already.

 

 

Pure Prairie Sailing

Canadiens won 3-1 in Carolina on Monday night, with goals from Jiri Sekac, Lars Eller, and Max Pacioretty. Max now has 14 in 36 games, which, over 82 games, would amount to……………….quite a bit. More than 30. (You thought I was going to do the math?)

A few things to note:

Lucy, Teesha, and I went from Kenora to Moose Jaw today (860 km), and it’s a tad chilly. Down around minus-25 all day, and -35 or -40 during the night. The car windows never truly cleared all day.

But the roads are dry, which is all I care about. And the price of gas is around 90 cents a litre right now, which is also cool.

I know it’s not nearly over, but so far this drive. that began in Montreal, has been, aside from the three hour snowstorm from the Soo to Wawa, dry roads and smooth sailing. But Calgary tomorrow, then through the Rockies the next day, and who knows what’s in store? Maybe we’ll see a sasquatch.

Moose Jaw TV showed the Winnipeg-Minnesota game and the Canada-Finland World Junior game, but no Habs, which brings to me to the big question. When I reach the coast and am phoning around about getting cable connected, what’s the best option for seeing the Canadiens?

This paragraph is about Teesha the Wonder Cat. Two weeks ago she was near death. She couldn’t walk, couldn’t eat, couldn’t move. Now I feel she’s at about 70% overall. Her walking isn’t great and she won’t drink water voluntarily, but other than that, she’s doing great and we’re mighty proud of her.

Tomorrow we stay with my son Rory in Calgary. Then it’s Banff, Lake Louise, Golden, Rogers Pass, and Kamloops, but only if the weather cooperates. After that, Vancouver, then up coast.

But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Right now I’m only concerned about the car starting in the morning.

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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.