Category Archives: Colorado Avalanche

Fab Habs Lads Edge Avs

Canadiens beat the Avs 3-2 again for the second time in two nights, only this time in regulation. But more about that below the photo. (It also happens to be three straight wins in preseason by the bleu, blanc et rouge, all by the score of 3-2)

The photo below is from last April when we were in Quebec to paint the town red. Well, not exactly paint the town red. Partied quite a bit, though. Well not exactly partied. Walked around a lot and went to a restaurant.

The historic district of Quebec City is sensational, and a handful of miles away is Le Colisee, The House That Beliveau Built, with the new barn being built next door.

Le Colisee holds 15,399 folks, and on this night when the Canadiens and Avalanche did battle, the attendance was………no idea. For some reason, the  Canadiens.com site was blank with no stats. Didn’t anybody want to do it?

Colisee

Jiri Sekac showed some serious moves, scored a beauty, and is absolutely forcing management to keep him. He had an excellent rookie camp, an excellent main camp, and is now excellent in exhibition games.

Feeling good about Sekac.

Sven Andrighetto, also enjoying a fine preseason, tied things in the second after Colorado had opened the scoring in the first, while in the third, the Avs took the lead once again when Montreal’s Gabriel Dumont was in the sinbin for shooting the puck over the glass.

But soon enough, Sekac, in a magical moment, used his skate to free the puck from goalie Semyon Varlamov and did a cool wraparound to even things at two. And then David Desharnais sent a sweet pass that Brandon Prust had to skate like the wind to catch, and Prust burst in and fooled Varlamov.

Unusual to see Prust behave like a left-handed Guy Lafleur.

The Quebec crowd was pro-Avalanche, cheering for them throughout. The Avs were once the Quebec Nordiques, and all I can say is, when the Expos left Montreal, I could care less about the Washington Nationals.

But there’s always been that built-in rivalry between big city Montreal and the quainter Quebec City, so it’s not really a surprise that Quebec fans cheered against the Canadiens.

Joe Sakic was introduced and given a hardy ovation. Pretty sure that wouldn’t happen with Eric Lindros. (If you’re not aware of the Lindros/Nords situation, give it a Google).

Shots on goal? I don’t know. Like I said, Canadiens.com was blank.

As it was in the first game, only six players played who can be considered regulars or semi-regulars – Tokarski, DD, Prust, Gilbert, Tinordi, and Beaulieu. The rest of the lineup was prospect-packed.

Next up, Washington Capitals at the Bell on Sunday night, probably to lose 3-2.

Habs Have Avs

It’s only the second game of preseason and I don’t see a lot of passion, drive, speed, and execution just yet.

From me, not them.

Early on like this, as it is every year, I find myself daydreaming a lot during games. It takes me awhile to gear up. I guess I’m a bad Habs fan.

Here’s the half-assed skinny:

Canadiens win 3-2 in overtime on a nice goal from Alex Galchenyuk when he walked in from the right side, cut into the middle, and fired one home. A beautiful goal.

How many moves can a good Chucky chuck? Maybe plenty this year.

Max and PK scored the other goals, both on power plays.

Christian Thomas played well once again, was chosen third star, and isn’t about to get sent to Hamilton just yet. Maybe he’ll latch on and go for a big league ride.

Much better tonight as far as seeing regulars play. Only Scherbak, Hudon, Pateryn, and Thomas were the prospects on this night, with fourteen regulars if you include Malhotra, Beaulieu, and Drewiske, and why wouldn’t you?

Shots on goal, Montreal 36, Colorado 27, with Carey Price and Peter Budaj donning the pads for the good guys.

Next up, Friday night in Quebec City when the same two teams do it again. Will the passion, fire, and execution be there? I don’t know. Depends on how I feel.

 

Canadiens Kick Things Off

Three unanswered goals by the Canadiens give the boys a sort of fine 3-2 win over the visiting Providence…er…Boston Bruins, thus getting things off to a fine start in preseason action.

The lineups of both teams were filled with players who won’t get a sniff of regular season action, and somehow it doesn’t seem right (at least to me) that fans at the Bell paid whatever it was – $100, $125 a seat. (Just guessing).

I checked and saw that Hamilton Bulldogs gold tickets will be $26 this year, so in a fair and just world, tickets to see players mostly destined to not be Montreal Canadiens soon should be only slightly higher than $26.

How about doubling it and making tickets in the reds an even 50 bucks or so for preseason action when only Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, Rene Bourque, newcomer Tom Gilbert, and Jarred Tinordi  were the old guard suiting up, with the slack picked up by prospects.

There were moments though, both good and bad. Boston opened the scoring just 1.17 into the first when young Nikita Scherbak blindly passed behind himself, only to have the puck intercepted by the Bruins’ Ryan Spooner who then proceeded to fool Greg Pateryn, a fellow trying to win himself a job on the Habs blueline.

With just two seconds left in a Rene Bourque penalty, it became 2-0 Bruins, not that it mattered all that much I guess.

But then the Canadiens little by little began to scratch and claw and things slowly paid off.

Jiri Sekac, who played a poised and impressive game, fired one home from the circle with ten seconds left in the period, and it was 2-1.

In the second frame, Christian Thomas, son of Steve, tied the game with one second remaining in his team’s power play, with a little help from Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg, who happened to bat it in while flailing away, and the game got livelier.

And in the third period, Drayson Bowman converted a Thomas pass with 48 seconds left to give the Canadiens their 3-2 win and earn Mr. Bowman the game’s first star.

Random Notes:

Jiri Sekac looked great at both the rookie and main camp, and never lost a beat tonight. Sekac’s rookie camp sheet has him listed as 6’02”, 182 pounds.

Habs 2014 first round draft pick Nikita Scherbak floundered for half the game, then began to find parts of his game and slowly came around. Scherbak is listed at 6’02”, 189 pounds, but appears leaner and lankier than Sekac, who truly looks like a mature hockey player.

Right winger Nick Sorkin (6’03”, 196), skated well and had several chances.

Big 6’5″, 240 pound Michael McCarron, after three or four solid wallops on unsuspecting Bruins, was driven into the goal post and at this point, it appears his arm took a serious beating, even possibly broken. It certainly didn’t look good.

Shots on goal, Montreal 28, Boston 24.

PK’s younger brother Malcolm was between the pipes for Boston in the third period and came up with several nice stops. PK in the press box looked proud.

Next game – Thursday, when the Avalanche (Daniel Briere?) pay a visit. How about doubling the regulars for game two.

 

 

 

Let Some Hitting Begin

Getting closer and closer to the real thing with seven exhibition games ready to go, beginning with the Bruins on Tuesday, the team that got their keisters kicked last spring in the playoffs by mere mortals who weren’t supposed to poke the almighty bear.

The bear got poked and it skedaddled right out of the rink and onto the nearest golf course.

How sweet that series was. A seven game battle royale that saw the Habs taking the opener 4-3 in Boston when P.K. scored in overtime, and game two had Montreal holding a 3-1 lead with nine minutes left, only to allow three goals in just over five minutes by Boston, plus an empty netter.

What a start, and what a series that would unfold. Electric. Nail biting. Ulcer-inducing. Ultimately crappy for the Bruins and their fans that made my heart soar like a flock of seagulls.

Ginette Reno warbling in Montreal. Shawn Thornton acting like a six-year old with his water bottle hijinks. Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt looking like he was peaking on acid.

Games going back and forth, keeping us all on the edge of our seat, chomping at the bit for the next game and then the next.

The Canadiens grabbed the series lead in game three with a 4-2 win. Remember that?

That was the night P.K. charged out of the penalty box, took a nice Lars Eller pass, and waltzed in along on Tuukka Rask, beating the goalie with a cool little move to the right that caught the goaltender flat-footed.

Boston would take game four with a tighter-than-tight 1-0 overtime win, and then grabbed game five by winning 4-2. It was excruciating to say the least.

I remember the odd Hab fan beginning to fold up the tent. Prematurely of course.

Montreal was dominant in game six, blanking the Bs 4-0 with Thomas Vanek awakening and notching a pair, and the series went to seven games, as it should, ending with the Canadiens posting a lovely and glorious 3-1 win that set Habs fans whoopin’ and hollerin’ throughout a dozen or so  time zones.

It seemed like only yesterday when it all went down, and which concluded with Milan Capone proving during the handshake that when his hockey career is finished, he’ll do just fine in the Cosa Nostra.

Frustrated Bruins players. Depressed Bruins fans. A suicidal Jack Edwards. And the Canadiens moved on to the Eastern Conference Final.

It was almost orgasmic.

It’s Boston at the Bell on Tuesday,  Colorado visits on Thursday, then on Friday the Habs and Avs clash again, only in Quebec City.

On Sunday the Caps pay a visit to Montreal, Wednesday the boys are in Chicago and Friday in Ottawa, and our Habs’ preseason ends on Saturday Oct. 4th when the Sens come to town for part two of being spanked.

After that it’s a few days to get ready for game one of the 2014-15 season when the Canadiens travel to Toronto to face the Worst Sports Franchise in North America.

How great is that? The Worst Pro Franchise in North America! That’s what ESPN decided about the Leafs organization and at this time I’d like to thank the TV channel for their fine assessment.

 

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.

Sit Back And Enjoy Others Pound Away

Isn’t it nice to sit back, put the feet up, smile, light a stogie, stretch, hum a tune, clean ear wax, and watch other teams beat each other with sticks while our team has already got the job done?

At this point in time, Boston leads Detroit 2-1, Pittsburgh is winning 2 games to 1 over Columbus, the Rangers are up 2-1 on Philly, San Jose holds a huge 3-0 lead over L.A., Anaheim is leading Dallas 2-1, St. Louis has a 2-1 edge on Chicago, and Colorado leads Minnesota 2-1.

Of course by the time you might read this, it’ll have changed. But no matter. Change, don’t change. Whatever.

We’re relaxed. We watch without jitters. Our team is moving on, which is just about as good or better than anything we do with our clothes on.

And should we root for Detroit or Boston to play our Canadiens? With Detroit we’d be up against a talented, great skating team that for the most part plays it clean.

With Boston, there’s talent and a plethora of ugliness and uncouthness.

Maybe at this point I’m going with Detroit, really for no particular reason other than the Canadiens might stand less of a chance of getting injured.

And if it’s Detroit, it won’t take long for me to despise them as much as any other team playing the good guys from Montreal because that’s what we do. We hate the other team because they’re trying to get in the way of our happiness.

Montreal went 3-1 against the Bruins this year, and 2-1 against Detroit.

 

Vanek And Gang Come Through

Win one for Patrick was the rallying cry for the Colorado Avalanche. His team was going to play a big offensive game, promised Patrick.

And they lost 6-3.

It’s one of my happiest moments in this long season. A huge win and two more big points.

They did it with energy and lots of time in the Avs’ end. And Thomas Vanek finally broke through in dramatic fashion by scoring three times.

Two wins on the weekend and a huge mother of a win tonight. Patrick loses, Habs win, Vanek breaks out, and it’s just a feel good story all round.

It looked dire in the beginning though, with 18-year old Nathan McKinnon opening the scoring, and then it became 2-1 Colorado in the second after Vanek had previously tied it.

But the second period also saw the puck often in the Avs’ end, the Canadiens showed lots of energy, and when Travis Moen took a pass from a sprawling Brandon Prust, wheeled in reverse and backhanded it home to tie the thing at two, it was game on.

Everyone in the building – fans, both teams, Patrick, all knew that the Avs weren’t about to have their way.

This was a game that had playoff vibes. It was important. And the Canadiens came through.

Prust blasted one home in the third, the Avs tied it, but then the Canadiens power play, and in particular Vanek, went to work and just like that, it was 5-3 for the good guys.

Dale Weise, who was involved in a scrap in the first, salted it away with an empty netter as the clock wound down.

Most impressive was the fact that the Canadiens never sat back, didn’t go into their defensive shell, and kept things interesting in the Colorado end all night.

That’s what we need to see from the boys. They’re a skating team, and when they’re flying they can get things done. Forget the New Jersey-style. Put the pedal to the metal.

Prust ended with a goal, an assist, and second star.  First star Vanek with three and his linemates DD and Max each collected two assists. Moen scored his beauty, Emelin had two assists, and Weise was an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick.

Just a great night. A wonderful night. Unless you’re Patrick Roy, that is.

Random Notes:

Maybe the miracle on Saturday night really did light a fire.

Shots on goal – Habs 36, Avs 28.

Montreal went 2/3 on the power play, and this is the Vanek factor at work.

Next up – Columbus Blue Jackets in town on Thursday. Once again, can’t wait.

 

 

 

Two Big Points In Buffalo

Dustin Tokarski and company blank the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 on Sunday night, and although it wasn’t a classic, the Canadiens were in control for the most part and they have to feel good about that.

Score four goals in less than five minutes on Saturday, and have their third-string netminder pull off a shutout on Sunday. That’s Habs magic to me.

Just a mighty successful weekend that sees the gang remaining nicely lodged in playoff shape instead of slipping and sliding and having us all wondering if the post season is in the cards or not.

The Canadiens, with this win, jump ahead of Toronto into second place in the Atlantic Division, bump Tampa Bay down to a wild card spot, and are a lofty third overall in the east.

Third overall. It’s amazing.

But there can be no serious faltering. That’s when we get mad at them and we hate that.

Both goals In Buffalo came midway through the first, with Dale Weise scoring his first as a Hab and Brendan Gallagher notching his seventeenth. And for Toker between the pipes, it was his first NHL shutout.

Now the task at hand is to prepare for Patrick and the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. How sweet it would be to win this and there’s no reason why they can’t.

The boys have picked it up, and although some fans are getting impatient with Thomas Vanek, I don’t think it should be the case.

Vanek’s getting solid chances, he and linemates DD and Max have been dangerous often, and whether or not he’s scored, a new and important dimension has been added with him in the lineup even though it’s not always obvious.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Sabres 32-28.

Lars Eller skated well and showed confidence. Same with Weise.

And speaking of confidence, PK certainly had his moments. Fine moments. In particular, one play late in the game when he dazzled with the puck on his feet and stick. If only he would’ve scored.

Sabres For The Third Time

Canadiens face the Sabres in Buffalo tonight (7:00 pm), and after the drama of last night, the boys should play with big time passion.

One would think anyways.

Unless they were so pumped from last night none of them could sleep and tonight they play like it.

Carey Price is staying behind to get some added rest for his knee before Patrick Roy’s gang arrives on Tuesday, and why not? A few extra days to get the knee shipshape is smart.

And beating Patrick and his pupils would be incredibly satisfying for all concerned. Including us of course.

I just hope Price didn’t damage it slightly more last night.

The Habs and Sabres have squared off twice before in this year, beginning on November 27 in Buffalo when the Canadiens won 3-1, which was their fourth straight win at the time.

It was also the night Douglas Murray and behemoth John Scott went toe to toe and although Murray fared well, his face ended up a bloodied mess.

The second time these two teams met was on December 7th, a game Luci and I were at, and which ended in a 3-2 win for the Canadiens, although they played poorly.

At that point the boys had won 9 of 10 games and had caught Pittsburgh for first place in the east, but it was the beginning of some mediocre outings for the team which had been going so well up until then.

The Canadiens would lose their next three of four, get into some maddening “win one, lose one” sequences, and even get to a point not long after when they lost six of eight games.

After that December 7th game against Buffalo and up until now, Montreal has won 17 of 37 games, which has kept them in the thick of things, but isn’t exactly overwhelming.

Hoping we can look back at the March 15th comeback win at the Bell as the beginning of great things for the Canadiens. Which means a big game  tonight in Buffalo to get the ball rolling.