Category Archives: Florida Panthers

I Got Dem Old Habs Blues


How come a blues playing Habs fan hasn’t written a scorching tune yet about the most wretched of all wretched Decembers?

Or maybe someone has.

If not, it’s time, bluesman. Because in the Montreal delta, folks are goin through some mighty hard times. Lord have mercy.

Surely old Sugar Kane, King of the Blues, can put something together if he’s not too busy howlin in a subway or in front of general store somewhere.

The Canadiens fell 3-1 to a big, young Florida Panthers team to end the month and the year on a downer. It’s the blues, baby.

Three wins and eleven losses in this month. A pathetic 22 goals scored in these 14 December games, which, if I did this right, amounts to 1.57 goals per game over the month.

How do you expect to win like that?

And those crazy dumb penalties. It hurts my head so much I can’t wear my fedora. And my shades are fogging up.

The sun gonna shine in the Montreal delta some day.
Sun gonna shine some day they say.
When the Habs do rise and blow my blues away.

(A wailing harmonica might be a nice touch here.)

Shor nuff, baby, I need some booze.
Cause till they rise, I got dem old Habs blues.

Random Notes:

New Hab netminder Ben Scrivens played really well and was definitely not responsible for the loss.

Florida outshot Montreal 29-28.

Max notched his second in two nights.

Next up – New Year’s Day at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass, when the Canadiens and Bruins clash in the  Winter Classic. Game time is apparently 1: PM ET. For those in the first few rows at Gillette wishing to get a close look at the ice surface before and after the game, taxis will be waiting.




Max Gets The Job Done


In storybook fashion, Max Pacioretty, with the captain’s C meaning more than just about any game this season, buried the puck in the shootout to give the Habs a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the curtain closes, at least for one night, on a tremendously dismal time in Habsland.

But it’s the kind of thing that can right a ship, this clutch goal, and when it happened, Max’s teammates piled on him like teenagers celebrating at the World Junior Championship.

A beauty of winner it was too, with Max putting a couple of cool little dekes on netminder Ben Bishop, who’s still unraveling his jock strap from his testicles, and with that the Canadiens put an end to something called a six-game losing streak.

Max has been on the hot seat lately as folks haven`t been happy with his play. They say he looks lazy, floats, and isn’t trying like he should, which is all the same thing I guess. But as I mentioned on Twitter, it’s exactly what people said about Frank Mahovlich when he was with the Leafs.

For a few hours at least, fans can start planning the parade once again. I personally feel the Trans Canada Highway from Montreal to the West Coast would be a terrific route.

One win doesn’t guarantee anything except two points, we know that, but how it would’ve sucked to see yet another loss in this December to end all Decembers.

Now we see light, and it will shine even brighter if the boys handle the Florida Panthers in a few hours time. Big game, that one. Imagine a two-game winning streak?

The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first period when PK Subban fed Tomas Plekanec in close, and Pleks made no mistake.

How big was this goal? The Habs took the lead, which hasn’t happened much lately, and Pleks finally scored, which hadn’t happened since that night in ’36 when he beat Montreal Maroons backstopper Alec Connell.

Maybe not 1936, but it’s been a while. Twenty-one games in fact since Plekanec lit the lamp, which is completely unacceptable and one of several huge reasons why the team has spiraled out of control.

Scorers haven’t been scoring, and tonight, the nasty little monkey was wrenched from Plekanec’s back. It has to feel good.

Tampa would even it at one apiece in the second, but four minutes later, Alex Galchenyuk would wrist a puck from 20 feet out, and the boys took the lead once again.

In the third period, after the Lightning had shocked everyone with two quick goals to jump ahead, Dale Weise sent the puck over the line, and although Tampa called a Coach’s Challenge, the goal stood and the game was tied.

The Canadiens were less than great on the 3-on-3, aside from some flurries as the clock ticked down, but held on regardless. And onto the shootout we and they went, with Max getting it done in style.

Random Notes:

A fine enough evening, and best of all, the team looked like they wanted to win. Mike Condon was sensational, especially in the middle frame when he made several sprawling saves.

The team as a whole showed more energy than lately, they were alive and gunning for a win, and although it took a shootout, the sigh of relief is one big honkin’ beautiful sigh.

Tampa outshot Montreal 39-34.

Next up – across the state to Sunrise to take on the Panthers Tuesday evening. If ever another win is needed, it’s now.

There’s only one way to drive a stake into a pathetic, unending slump, and that’s to win a handful of games in a row.

One down, a handful to go.




Dallas Does Debbies


The impressive Dallas Stars rolled over the Montreal Liberaces 6-2 Saturday in the Lone Star State, and it was a night when most Liberace players probably should’ve just stayed in the hotel lounge and tickled the ivories and drank Pink Ladies instead.

Eight losses in ten games. Now it’s on to Nashville, Minnesota, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida, Boston, and Philadelphia.

All good teams.

I’m starting to bite my nails again after quitting 20 years ago.

And although Paul Byron (shorthanded) and Daniel Carr would bulge the twine, once again the big guns stayed silent. Pee Wee Herman, Richard Simmons, Don Knox, Bill Nye – none of them were noticeable in this fiasco.

Mike Condon was replaced by Dustin Tokarski early in the third after the sixth goal.

Jeff Petry was hit by Jamie Benn and left the game.

P.K. Subban shot the puck over the glass and was penalized. Twice.

Andrei Markov only did it once.

Random Notes:

For breakfast I had two poached eggs on toast, with extra toast and coffee.

At this moment, P.K. Subban is thinking a little about his two delay of games penalties, and a lot about his new suit at the tailors and his ability to get Justin Trudeau to sing a Christmas carol.

Next up – Monday in Music City.

How are things in the world of cricket?

The Big Sports Dinner

Roger Crozier was there, and so was Andy Bathgate and hurler Sal Maglie and a host of others, including my peewee baseball team that rolled over unsuspecting teams from around Ontario.

It was the 3rd annual Sports Celebrity Dinner in Orillia, from June 1964, organized by local radio personality Ken McDonald, later known as Jiggs McDonald.

Only a few years after this fancy affair, Jiggs would find himself broadcasting NHL games in Los Angeles when the league first expanded, and then in Atlanta and Long Island (along with stints in Toronto and Florida). Jiggs ultimately wound up in the Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.

This is my program from that big night at Club Pavalon, a place where, on normal nights, gave us some of the best live rock bands from the province and beyond.






Former NHLer Cal Gardner is in the Terriers lineup.


My peewee team. They spelled my name wrong.





Jr. C

Below, Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, is in the front row of the midget team.



Habs Handle Panthers, But……

There was good, bad, and disturbing in the Canadiens 4-1 win in Sunrise on Sunday, so I’ll just get down to mentioning some before I head to the 7/11 to buy a creme-filled Easter egg.

Carey Price finally nailed down his 42nd win of the season, which ties him with Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden.
Michel Therrien grabbed his 200th win as coach of the CH.
Tomas Plekanec scored his 200th NHL goal, all as a Hab.
Devante Smith-Pelly scored his first goal as a Hab after converting a nice pass from P. A. Parenteau.
Parenteau scored a dandy, going coast to coast, grabbing his own rebound, and firing.
And P.K. Subban, looking like a slick forward, sent a reasonably tough pass across to Brendan Gallagher who buried it in twine.

The bad? Carey Price was run into on about five different occasions, a couple of times having his mask was knocked off, and….this is the part that really gets me…..his teammates did next to nothing to show that this sort of thing is unacceptable. Not even one little punch to a face.

This, with the playoffs just around the corner.

And the truly disturbing? Max Pacioretty, one of the team’s rare gunners, crashed backwards into the boards in the first period after being pushed by Dmitri Kulikov, he  may or may not have a concussion which may or may not be serious, and he was gone for the game.

No payback to Kulikov, who not long ago was handed a four-game suspension for clipping the Dallas Star’s Tyler Seguin. Not one stick jammed down his throat.

We might have lost our top forward, and it wouldn’t surprise me if our Russian guys Markov, Emelin, Galchenyuk, and Gonchar went for borscht with this fellow countryman bastard afterwards.

And the half dozen or so Panthers who ran Price? They walk out of the rink with not one set of stitches or crushed nose. No teeth missing. No swollen balls from a knee to the gonads. No lesson taught about not screwing with the goalie.

A good win that halts the three-game winless streak. But not such a good win with Max possibly being seriously hurt, with Price almost hurt, and the guys on the team letting it all happen with probably only a couple of F-bombs as their big time retaliation.

The nasty injury-causing stuff is beginning, I’ve been predicting this for months, and the reaction of the Canadiens was more than disappointing. Playoff-bound teams will see this and smile and rub their hands, which is the gist of my complaint here.

Next up – Thursday, when the Red Wings visit the Bell.

Fingers crossed about Max.

The power play? One for seven.

And one last thing before I head out to get my creme-filled Easter egg. DD, will you shoot the friggin puck from time to time?

Another Shootout Loss

For the second straight night, the Canadiens found themselves in a shootout, and for the second straight night, lost the damn shootout.

Into New Jersey they went, and out they came with a 3-2 loss, which also happens to be the team’s 5th defeat in six games.

And it wasn’t because Toker was between the pipes. It was mostly due to once again being tremendously shitty with the man advantage.

The stage was set though, with just over five minutes remaining in the second period, when, and I have a hard time even writing his name – Scott Gomez – the man who was as useless as can be when he wore the CH, a player I have a harder time looking at than PJ Stock, elbowed Alexei Emelin in the face and received a five-minute major and a game.

The Canadiens couldn’t score during this gift-wrapped situation and it hurt to see it. How I wanted a nail hammered into Gomez’s skull. How I wanted him to see a Habs goal on TV as he sat in the room and smiled and spit.

The boys managed just one shot instead, and Gomez got off scot-free.

Gomez was described as a “wily veteran” by announcers for nailing Emelin after the Russian had crashed Gomez into the boards a minute before. But a wily veteran would have been smarter than that by trying to inflict damage without taking a penalty. Something Howe or Messier knew how to do in spades.

Gomez’s elbow was for all to see. So make that “not wily” and add “incredibly stupid”.

There’s just something about this guy. He and Stock. I wish they’d start up a figure skating school in Reykavik and live happily ever after.

With just over 4 minutes left in the third, with the game still knotted at two apiece, the Habs enjoyed a brief 5 on 3 power play and again, couldn’t score, and at that point, visions of losing in the shootout danced in my head.

They went 1 for 6 on the pp on this night, and along with the lacklustre shootout attempts by Galchenyuk and DD and any other things you can find fault with throughout, it’s as disheartening as can be to see a lifeless and uninspired power play that has crawled along for most of 79 games now and made as much noise and damage as the popguns I played with as a kid when I was Davy Crockett in the field next door.

The boys did take a 2-1 lead in the first though, on goals by Plekanec and Petry, but the Devils tied it in the second period, and that was that until the shootout.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot New Jersey 33-18.

I try not to go on about bad calls if I can help it, but it was a horrible interference call on Alex Galchenyuk in the second period, who, as it showed on the replay, did absolutely nothing to warrant the two minutes. Big league officiating at its finest.

Next up – Sunday in Sunrise, with a 5:00 pm et start.

I’ve always been a big supporter of the Easter bunny.


Whomped In Winnipeg


I’m sure hoping Dustin Tokarski’s family didn’t make the trek from neighboring Saskatchewan to see the young fellow guard the twine on Thursday night.

Because it just wasn’t Toker’s night as he and the Canadiens got kicked 5-2 by the Jets, with several of the five goals stoppable by our prairie boy backup.

4-1 after two periods. With the Canadiens outshooting Winnipeg 31-13. Over three frames, shots were 41-22 for the visitors. It should’ve been a fine win.

But Ondrej Pavelec shut the door at his end and Toker didn’t at his.

But forget about our goalie. Just one goal on 31 shots by the guys up front? Only two on 41? And of course once again the slightly less than magnificent power play blew the proverbial tire and went 0/4,

Another game, another fizzing out with the man-advantage. Sitting 26th overall on the feeble chart. It’s been going on all season and still hasn’t been sorted out. We’re not asking for much, not expecting the number one power play. How about a heady 17th or 18th or 20th?

Thursday’s loss shouldn’t completely rest on Toker’s shoulders, although it’s easy to do because Carey Price has spoiled us. This lack of offense, especially with the man advantage, is just plain ridiculous,  and as tiresome as hearing Don Cherry talk about how smart he is.

Canadiens got goals from Andrei Markov, who sent a wrist shot through a crowd and narrowed things to 2-1. And a close-in blast from Gally in the third made it a 4-2 game.

But soon after, the Jets scored another, and the Winnipeg crowd got their digs in by singing Ole Ole.

Next up – Saturday in Montreal when the Florida Panthers pay a visit.

A lousy night for the Habs, Toker or no Toker. Outscored and outmuscled, and if the Canadiens continue this gruesome lack of finish, even with Price in nets it’ll be tough sledding in the upcoming post season.

This offense doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of the opposition. Only into the hearts of Habs fans.



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.



Topped By Tampa

The Canadiens fell 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night, although they gave it the old college try after falling behind 3-0 before three minutes had been played in the second period.

Unfortunately, old college tries are never good enough because they mean losing. And this was to a growing rival who had already won the first three encounters.

It began poorly, that’s for sure. Brenden Morrow got his stick up into the face of Brian Flynn (who didn’t return) and on the four-minute penalty handed down, the Canadiens, and I know you’ll be shocked by this, failed to score.

Following that, a puck was deflected off Andrei Markov and past Carey Price to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead, and then, not even 24 hours after Max Pacioretty was anointed with a new McDonald’s hamburger (the Max 67), he grabbed the puck along the boards near centre ice, turned, and passed it back to none other than a free as a bird Steven Stamkos, who waltzed in and beat Price.

But because I appreciate Max so much, I’m won’t say anything more about this. Or bring up that pass to an Islanders player the other night that killed Price’s shutout. Because Max has 34 goals on a team that you and I complain about because they can’t score. And he had 39 last year.

He also came close several times after, obviously intent on making up for his faux pas. And if you don’t think any of the greats of the game – Howe, Richard, Hull, Orr, Beliveau, Gretzky, Lemieux etc, pulled a boner once in awhile, you’d be wrong.

Later in the second period, Pleks would finally get his team on the scoreboard while on the powerplay (yes, the powerplay), and in the third frame, P.A. Parenteau banged one home after Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop got crossed up behind the net.

But that was it, because Lars Eller was called for holding with just 2:22 left in the game, and with Carey Price pulled to at least keep things even, Steven Stamkos hit the empty net.

Now it’s across the state to take on the Panthers and hopefully better their record in March to three wins in nine games. Which, of course, is still nasty.

Random Notes:

There were a number of questionable decisions by the officials, including the call not made when Brandon Prust and Mike Angelidis fought and which was clearly started by Angelidis. But the instigator penalty wasn’t called.

And Lars Eller’s holding call in the dying minutes wasn’t flagrant by a country mile, and which of course, killed any chance of the Canadiens  squaring things up.

Shots were even at 34 apiece.




Canadiens Lose Game And Emelin

Alexei Emelin crashed awkwardly into the boards just 20 seconds into the game, he never returned, and to add to the glumness, the Canadiens fell 4-2 to the normally shitty Ottawa Senators.

Maybe Emelin’s injury is serious, maybe not. Maybe Sergei Gonchar’s injury, after being nailed into the boards by Toronto’s David Clarkson on Saturday, is serious too. Maybe when P.K. Subban, after blocking a shot, took his skate off after the game and his foot ballooned to a size 18.

P.K. returned for the third period but was definitely hurting. Of course, Bruins fans in particular will say he was embellishing.

Marc Bergevin has said many times that you can’t have too many defencemen, and of course he’s right. You start losing regular d-men, you’d better have solid replacements. And imagine if P.K. had broken his foot and was gone for two months? Seeing him take that shot was a real reminder that fortunes can change in the blink of a slapshot.

We probably need a major blueline recruit before the trade deadline, but for now, Greg Pateryn played in Ottawa, and Jarred Tinordi is on his way from Hamilton. If only Bryan Allen hadn’t been so incredibly underwhelming in his five games before being shipped down. We could’ve used his 6’05” hugeness.

And the game? An exciting affair, with Montreal firing 44 shots at Sens goalie Andrew Hammond, in his very first NHL start, and Ottawa shooting 39 pucks at Dustin Tokarski, who has lost four of last five starts.

Max scored his 27th marker, and Nathan Beaulieu finally notched his first.

Next up – Tonight, when the Panthers visit the Bell.

I was very late seeing the game after coming back from Sooke/Victoria. I’m still going though a very weird personal time, one which forced Lucy and I move back from Montreal to deal with, and which has us going back and forth from Powell River and Victoria way too many times.

Maybe at some point I can explain it to you. It’s very complicated and very serious, and I need to figure out how to say it. One thing I can say now – I’m not in any kind of trouble, and my marriage is as solid as a rock.