Category Archives: Florida Panthers

Price And Big Line Just Too Much

A period and a half of magic from the Desharnais, Max, Vanek line and solid netminding throughout from Carey Price added up to a 4-1 win over the Panthers in Florida, and the team just keeps rolling along.

A five-game game winning streak to end the month of March. Eight wins in nine games.

Just amazing what’s transpired. And in my book, more than anything it’s been Thomas Vanek who’s lit the fire.

The DD, Vanek, Max line combined for all four goals and seven points on the night, and so important is the fact that the team is finally getting serious close-in chances now, led mostly by Vanek.

Until he showed up, play seemed far too often on the perimeter, except for most nights when Brendan Gallagher crashed the net two or three times.

Now things are different. Play is down low on a more regular basis. And the power play, which often had been so feeble, has become much more of threat even when the lamp isn’t always lit.

Vanek knows what to do with the puck, the chemistry with his linemates is a sight to behold, and a dangerous line like that, combined with solid work and contributions from the other three lines, gives us a team transformed.

And yes, it was mostly all Panthers in the second half, outshooting the Canadiens 15-3 in the third period, but no matter, the Habs held a 3-1 lead before the empty netter, and they played to protect the lead, not pad it.

According to all sorts of folks, the Canadiens were supposed to fade in the stretch. And the opposite happened.

Random Notes:

Max’s two goals gives him 35 on the season, which is a tremendous season to be sure. Would love to see him reach 40, but with just six games to go, it’ll be tough but not impossible.

Plenty of high sticks to the face from the Panthers. More than what we’d normally see on most nights.

Panthers outshot Montreal 37-19.

The Eggs played well in the early going, but like most of the team, weren’t exactly burning things up later on. But that’s fine. The end justifies the means.

Scott Gomez played tonight for the Panthers. Hard to watch the guy. He triggers so many bad memories.

HNIC three stars went to Price, Max, and Vanek.

Tuesday, the guys head across state to visit the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it goes without saying that this is a big one. The team Montreal will meet in the opening round. The team they’re fighting it out with for home ice advantage in that round. And a win would make a solid statement for things to come.

Toronto lost to Detroit Saturday night, their eighth straight. Just an amazing meltdown by Toronto at the most important time in the season.  So glad I didn’t grow up a Leafs fan.

 

 

 

Canadiens Clip Wings

Maybe a tad too many giveaways and Carey Price has seen better nights, but no matter, the Canadiens win another, a 5-4 affair in Motown, and thus, the train keeps a rollin’.

Seven wins in eight games. Fighting it out in the standings with Tampa Bay for home ice advantage in the first round. A team more and more are thinking of as a bonafide contender in the east.

It makes my heart soar like a reawakened Avro Arrow.

They almost blew it though. Some inexcusable turnovers and some slightly off-kilter work by Price, but many of the guys showed up for work, like DD, Vanek, and Max line, and in the end, it’s two points deposited in the bank of Montreal.

Now we have a good sleep, make sure we wear our lucky socks for the next two days, and get ready for Saturday in Sunrise.

Tomas Plekanec scored two goals in the first period, his 19th and 20th, but beginning in the second and then into the third, Detroit would answer whenever the Canadiens lit the lamp, and the hometown team continued to keep it close.

The Wings made it 2-1 in the second before David Desharnais converted some nice work by Tomas Vanek in the corner and it became 3-1 for the good guys.

But in the third, P.K. Subban suddenly decided to do what no Norris Trophy winner should ever do – lob a softball up the middle, which of course was intercepted, and it became a 3-2 game at that point.

The Wings then took advantage of loose play in the corner, the puck skipped out, and the game was tied faster than you can say Alex Delvecchio.

The goal scoring onslaught didn’t finish there either. Max made it 4-3 on a slightly offside play, Thomas Vanek then deflected an Andrei Markov shot and it was 5-3, but just 21 seconds later, Detroit made it 5-4 and it was still anybody’s game.

Until it wasn’t.

The Canadiens held on and downed the Red Wings who are fighting for a wild card spot but these are the breaks. No one worries about the Habs, and we’re not about to worry about hurting others’ chances. At least I’m not. It’s dog eat dog out there.

And Detroit is still in the thick of it, although Washington, Columbus, and Toronto are really happy the Habs won and the Wings lost.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Detroit 30, Montreal 29.

Habs multi-point getters on the night were Vanek with a goal and two assists, Pleks with two goals, DD with a goal and an assist, and PK with two assists.

Vanek has 5 goals and 4 assists in his 11 games with the Canadiens so far.

Max notched his 33rd.

Habs hit Florida for a Saturday night tilt against the Panthers. It’s always interesting to see how many down low, center ice, primo empty seats there will be at the BB&T Center. It must drive hockey fans in Quebec City crazy.

 

Habs Add An Older D-Man

weaver

The Habs have acquired veteran blueliner Mike Weaver from the Florida Panthers in exchange for a fifth round pick in the 2015 NHL draft.

Weaver, 35,  isn’t big at 5’10”, 183 lbs, and has seven goals, 79 assists and 213 penalty minutes in 586 career regular season games. He’s also suited up with Atlanta, Los Angeles, Vancouver and St. Louis.

So what does this mean?

I’ve no idea. Maybe the youngsters Beaulieu and Tinordi, or one of them at least, aren’t ready. Then there’s Drewiske gone, Markov staying or going, Murray carrying on for now, injuries that could happen in the stretch.

I’m not one to speculate. I’m usually wrong.

Regardless, it’s the old adage – you can never have enough defencemen.

 

Annually Disappointed

Interesting story in The Hockey News sent over from Ian Sirota about fans in 10 cities who are completely long-suffering.

Always teased, always disappointed, their team always falling short.

And no, the Habs aren’t on the list. They’re not even on the honorable mention list. I’m not sure why. We’re annually disappointed.

It’s right here. Thank you Ian for the link.

Habs Nip Cats

The Canadiens overcame a pesky Florida Panthers team to win 2-1 and make us not quite so testy about things.

And although the boys scored only twice, if they could have figured out Tim Thomas a bit better, it might even have been a lopsided deal. Because the chances were definitely there.

Montreal outshot the Panthers 13-5 in the first period, swarming the Florida net constantly, coming in in waves, looking like a million bucks. And all was right with the world when David Desharnais found the back of the net after first fanning, and then relying on his back hand to get the job done.

They were playing well. Another small yet fine step after a dismal November, added to a better first few games of December.

But things changed when Florida tied it up late in the frame, and suddenly the jump, the coming in in waves, suddenly calmed down and the visitors picked things up a notch. One goal and Montreal’s first period vim and vigour went out the window somewhat.

Was it a sign of an unsure or fragile team, when the foot is suddenly off the pedal like that? Or orders from the guy behind the bench, telling them to never mind the fancy stuff and tighten up?

Tomas Plekanec was flying on this night, both ways, showing the offensive and defensive skill throughout. Pleks will make a fine captain of the Czech Republic squad. A quiet guy leading by example.

And because Pleks was motoring, his linemates Brian Gionta and Daniel Briere found themselves with jump and opportunities, and it was Gionta who would notch the winner late in the second.

It was a swell two points, even with Andrei Markov and partner Alexei Emelin being on the ice for the Panthers marker, making it another night, especially for Emelin, of being in the minus column.

Markov struggled more than normal, best illustrated, for me at least, when a Panther player simply slid the puck through Markov’s open legs and the biscuit ended up in the back of the net.

Not the kind of play expected from a wily veteran.

And Emelin has been spending a lot of time getting confused instead of rattling bones and making the smart, quick play. But he’ll rebound. Hopefully before spring.

At least it was two big points against a team who had previously handed our boys a couple of dismal defeats. And although the original swarming of the net subsided after the first, the team still managed to get lots of chances, outshooting Florida 12-6 in the second before being outshot 16-10 in the third.

Carey Price kept them in it, Thomas at the other end did too, and the low scoring affair was still a win for the good guys, no matter how you slice it.

Final shots on net Montreal 35, Florida 27. Great to see lots of shots by the home team.

Random Notes:

Rene Bourque found himself in close with chances as well, and seemed to have some zip to his game. What an important guy Bourque could be if he came to play every night. He’s got the tools, but the tools seem mostly rusty or seized up.

Three times it seemed we were about to lose key guys, with Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Prust, and PK Subban all experiencing some sort of injury that thankfully didn’t keep them out of the game. Imagine if PK was seriously hurt on the eve of the Olympic roster decision.

And imagine a Montreal Canadiens team without P.K. for a long period of time. Whew.

Next up – Wednesday, with the guys in Philadelphia. No sense in saying the obvious about how a win is a must.

Panthers Chew Habs

Canadiens scored three goals Sunday in Sunrise. Unfortunately, only one counted as the gang that can’t shoot straight falls 4-1 to the Florida Panthers.

Florida opened the scoring in the first when Mac Pacioretty’s hard shot missed the net and the home team burst down and converted.

It was one of those things on a night when the hockey gods decided they liked the Florida Panthers better than the Montreal Canadiens. Must be the sun hockey gods.

Gods with tans.

Bad things happen when good chances are ruined by missing the net. It often leads to a turnover. Guys are caught out of position. There’s no rebound. And of course there’s no goal.

I had a friend years ago who consistently asked why so many NHLers miss the net. Because they’re going for miniscule openings, is the answer.

But I’m tired of that reasoning. Just blast away and try to break the goalie’s mask or jock strap.

The Canadiens tied it for a brief second after Brian Gionta fed Rene Bourque, but it was deemed a high stick by Gionta and was called off. So two guys who haven’t been doing much almost did but ultimately didn’t.

The second period was truly a dismal one for the Canadiens, although Brandon Prust scored to tie the game at one for a brief time. But soon enough it became 3-1, and it was good when the period ended. It was when one might say to oneself – the Habs have played some lousy hockey lately.

In the third, Daniel Briere scored to make it 3-2 and we came alive. For a second or two. The goal was disallowed because the officials decided Alex Galchenyuk had pushed the goalie.

On the replay, we saw that Galchenyuk had been pushed into the goalie. It’s a big difference.

So it remained 3-1 until an empty-netter which made it 4-1.

Two of a possible four points in the state of Florida. It falls short of expectations.

Random Notes:

Officials get it wrong from time to time in all sports. Games are fast and decisions are made quickly. Some get obvious calls wrong. There was a call at second base in this year’s World Series that was mind-boggling, but at least it was overturned when the umps got together and talked about it.

The Canadiens might have grabbed a point or two if the correct calls were made. But honestly, if this would’ve happened to Florida and not Montreal, I wouldn’t even be talking about it. I just want them to play better, whether they’re getting the calls or not.

Shots on goal – Florida 25, Montreal -22. Peter Budaj was in nets and was fine I suppose, although he couldn’t corral a rebound which put Florida up 2-1 at the time.

One more game in December. Raleigh on New Year’s Eve to tackle the Hurricane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Points In Tampa

Canadiens squeak one out in Tampa Bay with the help of Lars Eller connecting in the shootout and Carey Price holding the fort at the other end.

Somehow they found a way again, even though many of the guys have decided they hate scoring and never want to do it anymore. Many have gone gomezionian. The scoring on this team is drier than a vermout-less martini.

But several posts were hit if it’s a consolation of sorts. Which it shouldn’t be. A post isn’t even a shot on net.

Two big points after a week off, with rust wide awake as the boys looked discombobulated throughout. But they’ve looked discombobulated often lately so maybe we can’t blame it on rust completely.

Regardless, they won the game and that’s what we asked for before it started. So we should be happy, even though the game wasn’t great and neither was the team.

The shots were low (24-21 Tampa), and the score was low – Pleks in the second period, Martin St. Louis for the bad guys, and Eller in the shootout. But the points are high for the Canadiens – 49 – which keeps them in the thick of things, way up near the top.

Naysayers continue to wait for the Canadiens to implode and it hasn’t happened yet. These folks are getting restless.

The team isn’t imploding, they’re winning more often than not. Even when they look lousy. How can that be?

And as an extra bonus, the win also ends Tampa’s five-game winning streak!

Carey Price was exceptional again, P.K. played with some swagger, and David Desharnais showed smarts often with the puck. But the team in general continues to show very little punch around the net, goals are way too hard to come by, and I can’t help thinking that Marc Bergevin will be doing some tweaking very soon.

I just don’t see much change in the scoring situation until the GM steps in and does what he has to do.

The team needs some firepower (and a couple of other things as well), and thank goodness Carey Price is having a season to remember. Otherwise, there’d be no 49 points to talk about.

Now it’s over to the other side of Florida to meet the Panthers Sunday at 5 pm ET. Two more points, even without much scoring, would be just fine thank you very much.

Davey Saves The Day

They almost blew it. But they didn’t.

David Desharnais did some nice work in overtime and ended a game that saw the Canadiens lead 3-0 in the first period, sit back, play soft, and let the Nashville Predators take over.

But Nashville didn’t take over quite enough, because they still lost.  And now the Habs begin their week long Christmas break on a winning note instead of of a loss where they blew a three-goal lead.

Three goals in 3.07 of the first period, with P.K. firing a missile from just inside the blueline, Max Pacioretty taking a nice pass from Brendan Gallagher and converting, and Tomas Plekanec redirecting a Brian Gionta pass.

Such a great lead. Only it wasn’t.

Maybe it was the enthusiasm shown by Nashville’s Matt Hendricks after his fight with Brandon Prust. CBC’s Gary Galley seemed to think so. Or maybe it was coming anyway.

The Preds had hit a couple of posts, owned the puck for large periods of time, and the Canadiens didn’t have the wherewithal to make things treacherous.

They need to get bigger. As if you haven’t heard that before.

In the second the lead was trimmed 3-1. Then with David Desharnais in the box, it became 3-2. You could see the Preds smell it. The momentum was theirs. And in the third, with P.K. off for tripping, it was tied and it was no surprise.

A bummer, but no surprise.

There were heartstopping moments, great saves by Carey Price, disorganized play by the guys in white, a soft and confused defence corps before and after Andrei Markov was banished to the dressing room for spouting off after being hit from behind, but when all said and done…..

David Desharnais provides the heroics and now they get a week off to reflect and probably agree that they should never have blown a three-goal lead in the first place.

Random Notes:

Canadiens were outshot 20-6 in the second period and 34-23 overall.

Daniel Briere had a couple of decent moments but one play stands out for me. In the third, he took his sweet time coming back and had a coffee and a smoke in the high slot, far from the enemy. Meanwhile, the Preds stormed the net and Briere simply wasn’t there to help. So lackadaisical. Like his heart’s not in it.

Next game – Saturday, Dec. 28, in Tampa Bay. The following night it’s over to the other side to play the Panthers in Sunrise.

Now we’ve got Christmas and the World Juniors to enjoy. And although the Canadiens are off for a week, I’m still here every day. Like a bad rash.

 

 

Falling To Florida

For the third straight game the Canadiens scored just one goal, with Sunday night at the Bell seeing them fall 2-1 to Florida and once again play less than stellar.

When I look at the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System (S.H.I.T.S.), I see that the gang has lost three out of their last four. It’s one of those stretches we have to endure until they give us another lengthy good stretch.

They’re my team through thick and thin.

Canadiens’ scoring woes continue. They failed to find the back of the net until Alex Galchenyuk managed in the third period on the power play, and they were unable to capitalize on a brief two-man advantage late in the game. They’re not going to win a ton of games from here on in unless the scoring begins again. The season gets harder, not easier.

I think they’re a tired bunch. A team that isn’t big and relies on speed is going to wear down a bit when they’re playing a lot of games bunched together. They’re off for about seven days at Christmas and that has to help. The Olympic break will too. There’s some serious batteries to be recharged here.

A couple of big tests coming up, with the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday and St. Louis Thursday. Maybe nothing more than a fluky goal will get things going. Or, maybe a big trade isn’t far off.