Category Archives: Florida Panthers

Whomped In Winnipeg

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.

 

 

Habs In Motown, Via Sooke

welcometosooke

Lucy and I saw the Habs and Red Wings clash from a corner table at Buffy’s Pub in Sooke, BC, pop. 11,000, home of nearby Potholes Provincial Park, where, apparently, some great big holes are.

It was a fine experience. A classic West Coast workingman`s pub – chicken wings, cheap beer, loggers, fishermen, a few women scattered about. About as far away from La Cage Aux Sports as you can get.

We watched it online, because, as you can well imagine, there probably aren`t that many bars in BC that subscribe to RDS or pick up Sportsnet East. The quality was pretty darn good, aside from some slight jerkiness, and geez, I could do this more often!

A fine and solid 2-0 win by the boys. Carey Price’s 30th career shutout, which passes Patrick Roy for fifth best in Canadiens history. A much better performance than what we’ve seen lately by those in front of the world`s greatest goalie, which shows us that those bummers against lesser teams are probably some sort of sick team humour thought up by that wild and crazy P.K. Subban, and we just have to play along with the joke, that`s all.

A goal by Tomas Plekanec with 2:30 left in the third to break the scoreless tie, an empty netter from Max, his 26th of the season, to seal it, and a big two points to put some distance on Hotown, er, Motown, and stay just ahead of the pesky Tampa Bay Lightning who lost 4-3 to LA. (Boston lost too!)

The gang stays best in the East. They’re feeling good, I’m feeling good. Buffy’s has cold beer.

Hic. Wish I was still there.

Next up – Canadiens in Ottawa on Wednesday and the Florida Panthers visit the Bell on Thursday. Four big points isn’t too much to ask. And Ottawa and Florida aren’t complete basement dwellers so there’s no reason to lose.

 

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.