Category Archives: David Desharnais

The Captain Came To Play

hooray

Captain Max put his team ahead just 14 seconds into the third period, and the Canadiens snag a big 2-1 win over their ungrateful guests, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Not a great game by the Canadiens, they were dominated by the Canes at times, particularly in the second frame when Carolina owned the puck and Montreal managed just 4 feeble shots.

But whatever. Carolina still lost. Ain’t life grand?

The boys were also outshot by the visitors 32-22 overall, and a hearty thanks it is to Carey Price, who shut the door when called upon, even though it is slightly disturbing to see once again that it was him to the rescue.

Maybe we just have to get used it. Maybe our man Price will take us to the promised land.

Thursday night was a night when silent guns suddenly became a bit louder, with Max chosen first star, and his linemates Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher collecting assists on the game winner.

Max even rang one off the post late in the third, so maybe the slump gods have found some peace and love up there.

Even DD got into the act when he (and Charles Hudon) assisted on Andrew Shaw’s goal in the first period that tied it at one apiece after Carolina had opened the scoring.

Spread the wealth, boys. It’s as basic a game plan as there is.

It reminds me of when I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bantam Bulldozers and………

Never mind.

Random Notes:

The team now meets the Red Wings in Detroit on Saturday night, and then it’s off to California for a Tuesday lace-up in Anaheim, then Friday in San Jose and Sunday in Los Angeles before ending the journey in St. Louis the following Tuesday.

Long road trips can be good and bad. Just stay away from Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip, boys. And don’t worry about your wives. I’ll see to it that they’re in good hands.

Bonus Random Note:

I mentioned the other day that on November 22, 1968 my buddy and I sailed to England on an ocean liner, and here’s the ship’s weather log for each day of the journey.

ship-log

empress

 

Habs Trim Leafs

image1Back in the saddle again, as the Canadiens edge the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 and put a stop to the lousy three-game losing streak that had us all in a kerfuffle.

At least I was in one. I’m anti-slump. So winning, and against those Leafs, is basically a win-win situation. Does that sound right?

The good news – Alexander Radulov is back from sick bay and along with collecting two assists, banged and set up plays and skated miles and was all-round terrific.

The bad news – Toronto’s Nazem Kadri didn’t lose any teeth or get his nose plastered over his face. Not even one stick to the gonads. Really bad.

Red-hot Paul Byron scored his seventh of the season to open the scoring in the first period, while in the second, Alex Galchenyuk, also with his seventh, bulged the twine on the power play in what ultimately became the winner.

Shea Weber also racked up assists on both goals, and was much more of a force than he was on Friday in Carolina, when he looked fairly ordinary. But even then, not once did I pine for PK Subban.

As it stands now, Galchenyuk leads the team with 19 points in 19 games, while Radulov has 16 pts in 17 games, and Weber follows with 15 in 19 games.

New guys like Radulov and Weber are getting it done, but team vets like Max and Pleks and DD and Gallagher need to step it up. Although Gally continues to play his game and the points just aren’t happening for him right now. So he gets a pass. The other three don’t.

The Leafs played a decent game,  swarmed Montreal’s net far too often, and ended up outshooting the good guys 32-29.

But Carey Price was in nets, so swarming was the best they could do.

The boys now wait until Tuesday when the Ottawa Senators come a calling, and of course it’s a must win for the Habs. Another win gets the wheels rolling. A loss and we can say the gang sits at one win and four losses, which would be a bummer.

As for you folk, I hope the rest of your Saturday and all of Sunday is full of merriment. Just don’t get busted.

Not Tonight – In A Couple Of Ways

There can be no recap of the Habs-Panthers game at the Bell Centre Tuesday night, where the Canadiens dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the visiting Floridians.

Instead, it’s a day to reflect.

Today, November 15, is the one-year anniversary of Cynthia Payne, England’s brothel madam-extraordinaire, passing away.

Cynthia is missed by many, many people. Mostly men.

cynthia-payne

Habs Edged By Blue Jackets

bombed

The Stanley Cup champion Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

A nail biter.  A heart stopper, a thriller, and a barnburner.

Oh, that was game 7 of the World Series.

This game? 10-0.

And the Blue Jackets aren’t Stanley Cup champions?

Oh again.

stinker

And thus, the magical ride smashes full speed into a brick wall, and now we must consider something:

One loss is a baby slump. Two losses is a teenage slump. Three losses is a full-fledged adult slump.

Four or more straight losses is your grandma and grandpa and dead relatives slump.

And a slump creeps up like next month’s Visa bill. So the next game, which is also creeping up quickly, will be interesting.

Simply pathetic in Columbus, against a team 8 points behind our bunch. Inexcusable. I need to talk to the wives about this.

It’s just one loss, but they’ve sucked for several games now. Just as they did last year when they opened the season with nine straight wins.

Cracks in the armour lately. Turnovers. Laziness. Sloppiness. Two guys who score less than the Pope – David Desharnais on the power tonight and Tomas Plekanec on the PP against the Canucks.

I think that’s how it went. I wasn’t really paying a lot of attention as the night wore on.

Picture this: You’re a lifelong Habs fan living near Columbus, and you somehow nailed down a couple of great tickets to finally see your team when they come to town. You couldn’t sleep last night, you waited all day to finally head to the rink, and you wore beloved your Habs sweater with ‘Lafleur’ or ‘Beliveau’ on the back.

You watch your heroes warm up, and you think how much you love seeing that crest in person.

You’re in heaven. It’s so great.

And then your team gets demolished 10-0 and you want to stuff your sweater in the team bus exhaust pipe.

Random Notes:

Of course, if you’re a glass half full kind of person, you can always say that Stanley Cup-winning Habs teams have had a few pathetic nights.

The Canadiens, in their third year of five straight Cups, 1957-58, lost 7-1 to Chicago, on January 12th, 1958.

On Oct. 13, 1985, many months before they’d hoist the trophy, they were handed a 7-2 spanking by Boston.

When they won the Cup in 1993, they were bombed 8-2 by Buffalo on Oct. 11, 1992.

And who can forget Dec. 2, 1995, a non-Cup year but with Patrick Roy in nets, and the team was pasted 11-1 by Detroit.

But on this Friday night, they were embarrassed almost like never before. Snuffed out by the mediocre Columbus Blue Jackets 10-0.

Snuffed. Like this guy.

snuffed

Al Montoya was in nets for all 10 goals.

Shots on goal – Columbus 40, Montreal 30.

Habs power play was 0/1, while the Jackets went 4/5.

Next up – Saturday night, when Philly pays a visit. Will the boys get their shit together?

Or will it become a teenage slump?

 

 

 

Habs Muzzle Coyotes

muzzle

Beautiful. Tremendous. Hardworking. Almost flawless.

But enough about me. We’re talkin’ Habs here.

The Canadiens, with Carey Price finally back in the nets after 11 long months, took out the visiting Arizona Coyotes with a convincing 5-2 win at the Bell Centre.

Price faced 29 shots while his buddies fired 43 at Arizona’s net, and with the win the boys now see themselves with a mighty fine three wins and a shootout/point in their first four starts.

Who could ask for more? Especially when the entire team put together a rockin’, sockin’, red light-lighting night that will see the bars in Montreal being some of the happiest places on earth this Thursday night.

Maybe because of his World Cup experience, but Alexei Emelin seems a confident and improved player this year, and the hardrock d-man even bulged the twine with a massive blast from the blueline to open the scoring.

Emelin also crushed several unfortunate Coyotes who crossed his path, he hurts when he hits, always has, and this year with Shea Weber on board, he’s not the only one anymore who can turn bones into powder.

Torrey Mitchell in the second period gave his team a nice 2-0 lead after converting a great pass from Nathan Beaulieu, and at this point I thought to myself how cool it would be if Price could shut the door for the entire night.

But I never said it out loud so don’t blame me that it didn’t happen.

Shea Weber scored his first goal in a Montreal uniform, a missile from the blueline on the power play, and also smashed guys on several occasions, especially in the first two frames. A perfect example of why Jonathan Toews said after The Big Trade that it was great that Shea wasn’t in his Conference anymore.

Alex Galchenyuk finally scored his first of the season to make it 4-0, and which sent Coyotes’ goalie Louis Domingue to the bench and replaced by Justin Peters. Peters would see his team begin to fight back and narrow things to 4-2, but in the third, Artturi Lehkonen’s wrist shot lit the lamp, the score became a tidy 5-2, and the clock struck midnight for the visitors.

Random Notes:

We can complain about the weather and high taxes and hospital food and the price of cheese, but we can’t complain about the number of goals allowed by the Habs. Al Montoya and now Price, along with the boys out front, have allowed just seven goals in the four games to start the season.

And the gang has scored 16 in these four games to boot.

Alexander Radulov continues to be a major threat and is a great addition.

David Desharnais assisted on Emelin’s goal and is one of six guys who now have four points in four games (DD, Weber, Petry, Pacioretty, Gallagher, and Galchenyuk).

Next up – Saturday in Boston. Hopefully they can keep this going.

 

 

 

Habs Pluck Penguins

pens

Two goals from David Desharnais, an awakening from Captain Max, and a well-deserved shutout for Al Montoya, and the Canadiens rebound from a dismal outing in Ottawa to finish off the Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 in their home opener at the Bell Centre.

Definitely better than a few nights ago, and it began with a fired up Max Pacioretty opening the scoring just 23 seconds into the contest. Max was alive on this night, like a young DK at parties when someone would put Led Zeppelin 1 on the turntable.

But although the team played well overall, in particular the top line of Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, and Gallagher, it was Montoya who was truly exceptional once again, and who shut the door when the door needed shutting.

Montoya stopped 36 shots, it was never easy throughout, and has now allowed just five goals in his three games for the good guys. Carey Price is still recovering from the flu, and Big Al is doing the job in a big way.

A couple of goals from Desharnais will see DD’s critics forgive him for a night or two, and it was sensational to see the little guy come through, especially after his puck fanning in the shootout in Ottawa.

Alexander Radulov scored his team’s third marker, one which saw him take a pass from Galchenyuk, skate the length of the ice, swoop across, and bury the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury.

This beauty of a goal, on the power play, demonstrated the kind of skill this guy has, and the team is far better with him on board.

All in all a fine, if not spectacular, showing from the Canadiens, on a night that began with a gorgeous pre-game ceremony to open the 2016-17 season at the Bell Centre, concluding with former coach Jacques Demers passing the torch to Captain Max.

Demers coached a bit more than three seasons in Montreal, and was behind the bench for the Canadiens’ last Stanley Cup win in 1993. He’s in a wheelchair now after suffering a stroke earlier this year.

Random Notes:

Montoya was given an assist on Radulov’s goal, and the point now sees him tied with Tomas Plekanec.

The power play was 1/6.

Jeff Petry’s cross ice pass to DD late in the third to make it a 4-0 game was a thing of beauty.

Young buck Mikhail Sergachev saw less ice time in the second and third periods, to the chagrin, I guess, of his folks and sister who had flown in from Russia. But guaranteed, as Misha’s career unfolds over the years, mom, pop, and sis will have plenty to cheer about.

Next up – Thursday, when the Arizona Coyotes pay a visit.

 

 

 

Canadiens Get A Point

bad

Never mind that the Canadiens somehow came back from a 2-0 deficit to take the lead in the final frame.

Forget that the Ottawa Senators then tied the game with just 2:33 left.

Don’t even think about the up and down, tense 3-on-3 in overtime which didn’t solve a thing.

And try to hide the pain from the face palm you planted on yourself after David Desharnais completely fanned in the shootout which gave the enemy the win.

They didn’t play well, but it won’t do us any good to dwell. We could end up angry and bitter like Donald Trump if we dwell.

Ottawa 4, Montreal 3.

We care, us Habs fans, and we definitely can’t go through major misery like last year. And although the gang squeaked out a point, it was a lousy point that also ended in embarrassing fashion.

I hope the sports networks feel our pain and DD’s frustration, and not show the shootout fanning.

And because most of the boys were lousy for three quarters of this game in Ottawa, it stings a bit more than usual to see them play like they’d gone in back in time to the previous year. We made it, we have scars, and we don’t need to be reminded.

Of course it’s only game two, with another 80 to go, but it doesn’t matter how many games because we have big expectations, and we’ve been waiting all summer for a new dawn. And in this game two, the new dawn was dark and downright miserable, and showed there’s a lot of sorting out to do before visions of going deep into the playoffs next spring dance in our heads.

Thank goodness for Al Montoya, in nets once again for Carey Price, who might have the flu. That’s what they say about our star goalie anyway.

Montoya had 38 pucks fired at him and was steady, while the shaky team in front of him managed just 24 on Sens goalie Craig Anderson. The Canadiens first period was sloppy, disorganized, and downright pathetic, as was much of the second. And although they clawed back and made a game of it, overall it was reasonably sad, but at least there’s a point racked up.

Come to think of it, we don’t want them to win every game out of the gate because that’s what they did last year in their first nine. So that’s sort of a positive, isn’t it?

It leaves a sour taste, though. Even though it’s only game two.

Random Notes:

Jeff Petry, back in the lineup, scored a pair, while Habs rookie Artturi Lehkonen banged one in that tied things at two apiece, with the goal being his first in the bigs.

Habs biggest few minutes of the night? When the score was even at two, the Canadiens killed almost a full two minutes with both Paul Byron and Max Pacioretty in the box.

Next up, Tuesday, when the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins visit Montreal for the Habs home opener. Will Price be in nets? Who knows. Maybe if he takes enough cod liver oil.

New guy watch –

There were moments when Shea Weber, especially on the power play, blasted a handful of scary shots at the Sens net. But he often missed, and he didn’t score.

Alexander (Sasha) Radulov was quite a force, worked hard, and was one of the better players for his team.

Andrew Shaw wasn’t a factor, and Mikhail (Misha) Sergachev was in the press box.

Old guy watch –

None of them were much good.

 

 

 

Canadiens Begin Their Win Streak!

H L ad

It took Max and Lars Eller to come through in the shootout as the Canadiens down the Leafs 3-2 in Toronto, thus avoiding suicides, bricks through TVs, and serious hairpulling throughout Habsland.

Not really a fantastic win, or even a great win. Maybe only a decent win. But it was a big one as they snap a five-game losing streak in the midst of a gigantic slump, and it has to feel good.

Now the boys can relax and maybe take in a late show with Rompin’ Ronnie and the Hawks at Le Coq d’Or on Yonge Street before calling it a night.

It began in splendid fashion as the team dominated the Leafs, outshooting them 14-3, and jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals by David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann, although Fleischmann’s goal appeared to go in off Daniel Carr.

But as we’ve seen before, a quick start can mean little as Toronto slowly found their game and scored in the second and third periods to send the game into overtime.

It would take the shootout to decide things, and now the challenge is for the team to win two in a row, something that hasn’t happened since November 20th to the 27th when they nailed down four straight.

After that, as we all know and need to forget, the roof fell in and continued until tonight, when they grabbed two big points against a team that boasts the despicable Dion Phaneuf.

Random Notes:

I feel good about this, mainly because it wasn’t a loss. But not good enough to put on my dancing shoes and head down to the Westview Hotel, though. They’d think the grim reaper just walked through the door.

A loss would continue the nightmarish slide into Satan’s basement. But it wasn’t a loss, mainly because Max and Eller got it done in the shootout, when Galchenyuk, Flynn, and DD didn’t.

Canadiens outshot the Leafs 29-19, and were 0/4 on the power play.

Next up – Monday, when the boys travel to Columbus to take on the BJs.

Extra Random Notes:

Before the game began, Leaf greats Turk Broda, Tim Horton, and Dave Keon were honoured with inclusion on Toronto’s Legends Row, and it was emotional fifteen or twenty minutes.

Broda retired when I was two, but I saw Horton and Keon in their prime, on those great old Leafs teams.

I sat behind Keon and his wife in church in Orillia when I was young. Keon and most of the Leafs had attended Leaf trainer Bobby Haggart’s wedding in Orillia the day before, and the next day in church there was the great centreman, standing and kneeling and sitting and crossing himself, just like the rest of us.

I also have a personal story about Tim Horton. I’ve been to his doughnut shop many times.

Broda was on hand for the opening ceremonies of the arena in Orillia in 1950.

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Canadiens Crush Bruins

Gally

Brendan Gallagher finally returned to the Habs lineup, notched a goal and an assist, and never missed a beat with his mind blowing work ethic while getting clobbered in and around the crease, usually by an aging skyscraper named Zdeno Chara.

Gally’s a huge difference maker, a leader by example with balls the size of a large planet, and we saw at this 2016 Winter Classic in Foxborough what we already knew. This guy has to be healthy in the playoffs.

Without Gallagher in the lineup, his coworkers lacked fire, but with him punching the clock they’re a different bunch. Today showed a team with character and confidence, as they did when they won nine straight in the beginning.

Not at all the boring and stagnant bunch we came to know and dislike in December.

The Canadiens bombed the Bruins 5-1 at Gillette Stadium with nearly 70,000 fans in the seats, and it was Gallagher leading the way after missing 17 games with a hand injury. He added passion, grit, and will, things lacking during the team’s big slump.

The rest of them should be ashamed of themselves. They can’t play well unless inspired by a smallish yet shifty and feisty right winger?

Why can’t Max or PK or anyone else pull off that sort of inspiration?

And every time he banged it out in the crease against guys like Chara, I was worried he’d get hurt again. Teams will surely go after him even more now, because it’s obvious he’s the straw that stirs the drink.

Do we have some protection for Gally? Not much at all, unfortunately. PK and Eller, both of whom dropped the gloves in the past couple of games, won’t exactly be relied upon, to say the least. And then there’s…….

And the Winter Classic? I’ve never been able to fully embrace these outdoor games. For whatever reason, it upsets me to see fans in seats so far from the ice. Even those in the first row need binoculars.

Often the games aren’t up to scratch, especially when it’s snowing or minus-30 or the ice begins to melt.

And who can be sure about anything that Gary Bettman loves?

But this game was good, the weather was fine, and the right team unleashed a throttling.

Random Notes:

Mike Condon was excellent throughout, including a lightning quick glove save on Ryan Spooner in the dying seconds of the second period.

The Canadiens jumped into the lead just 1:14 into the first period when David Desharnais scored his first in more than a month (which is what Tomas Plekanec did on Monday in Tampa Bay), while other marksmen included Paul Byron with a pair, Max, and of course Gally.

Dale Weise was injured in the third period and didn’t return.

Max’s arm hit a camera stuck through the glass, and if I had a say in things, I’d be telling camermen that when players are skating near you, pull your friggin camera in. How hard can it be?

Canadiens outshot the Bruins 30-28 overall, including a dominant 14-3 in the first period. But the Bruins would close the gap and outshoot Montreal 11-5 in the third frame.

Next up – Tuesday, the final game of this eight-game road trip, when the boys hit Philly. The Flyers know from this Habs-Bruins game  that the secret to success is to maim Brendan Gallagher. So zebras (and teammates), it’s up to you.

Gally artwork by Wade (Darth) Alexander. Thanks Wade.

Stunned By Boston

this-sucks

Three goals in the third period by the Boston Bruins sank the ship, with the visitors skating away with a depressing 3-1 win at the Bell Centre. Now the Canadiens find themselves on a three-game skid, with some tough sledding ahead.

Of course there’s some fine excuses. Inexperienced call-ups from the minors because of injuries to regulars, and a backup goalie who is holding his own but might be getting tired, equals a team unable to fire on all cylinders at the moment. Good, solid excuses. Fine excuses.

In this Wednesday night tussle, Montreal handily outplayed the visitors for two periods but Tuukka Rask was hot, which is unusual against the Habs, and because the tying goal was reasonably bizarre, I feel somewhat at peace.

Like finally making it through two full days and a dozen showers after using fibreglass insulation for toilet paper.

The three-game slump sucks, and the boys play some tough teams coming up, beginning with Detroit in a few hours and Ottawa on Saturday.  It’s slightly worrisome. Imagine four or five or six losses in row? In Habsland it could get downright ugly.

But players on those upcoming teams are saying they have to meet a hungry, angry, and tough Habs, so it works both ways. The hell with getting upset. There are other things to worry about – like what I’m going to get Lucy for Christmas.

Boston’s tying goal in the third period was a killer indeed, an hour or so after Paul Byron had given Montreal a 1-0 lead back in the first.

The horrifying sequence unfolded as such: Dale Weise had burst in and was promptly tripped up by a sliding Dennis Seidenberg, and although a penalty shot entered some of our heads, it was strictly a two-minute deal instead. That was fine. Just score on the friggin’ power play.

The team was setting up  nicely in Boston’s end, quarterbacked by Andrei Markov, with slick passing back and forth between Markov, Max, Subban, Plekanec, and with the Bruins scrambling.

Then the second wave – Eller, DD, Weise, Petry, PK. The puck was in deep and it was only a matter of time. A tidy 2-0 lead coming up. Another loss by Rask and company at the hands of the team that’s owned them.

Suddenly…….at the blueline, Petry to P.K., who was off balance when he sent the knee-high through the middle, and which was batted out of the air by big Chara and directly to a surprised Loui Eriksson, who raced in from centre ice and beat Mike Condon.

Then like a dagger, Landon Ferraro bulged the twine just 42 seconds later, and that was that. Except for a third goal that had me checking soon after to see if Donald Trump had opened his mouth lately.

Random Notes:

The Canadiens, mostly on the strength of their solid first and second periods, outshot Boston 33-23.

They also went 0/3 on the power play, which was going good until recently. Much like their scoring in general.

The team misses Gallagher, Price, Mitchell, and Smith-Pelly for sure. But sometime down the road, like a beautiful rainbow appearing, the team will once again be the one we were bragging to our friends about.

Tonight (Thursday), the Canadiens are in Motor City.