Category Archives: Los Angeles Kings

A Screeching Halt

canadiangeeelanding

Maybe playing seven games in fourteen days doesn’t help. But the party line is there’s no excuses, so Canadiens lose 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, plain and simple, curtain closed.

They had lots of chances but no red light. Jiri Sekac barged in with the puck several times and came close. Lots of guys came close. But the six game streak couldn’t become seven, and now it’s the St. Louis Blues on Thursday to think about.

I don’t mind a loss here and there. They have to play 82 games and losses happen. But I know you know that, and I don’t know why I’m babbling.

Last year, top dogs Boston and Anaheim each won 54 games, not 82. The Stanley Cup-winning L.A. Kings won 46. These teams lost sometimes. Just like the Habs did tonight against Pittsburgh.

My main concern is that a loss could become two. And then three becomes a possibility. Four even. Other than that, everything’s cool and it could be much worse. We could be Leaf fans and have to compute a 9-2 demolishing by the Nashville Predators tonight.

Time to turn the TV off. Time to get back to my Johnny Cash biography now.

 

How You Win A Trophy

The New York Rangers win game 4 and sweep aside many people’s prediction of a Kings’ sweep. It should finish in game 5, however.

The following true story has nothing to do with the Kings and Rangers.

A bunch of guys, including a friend of mine, were on a bus trip to see an NFL game in Buffalo, maybe last year, and after some serious drinking, a little trophy was offered to the person who could come up with the most outrageous thing.

A 40+ year old firefighter on the bus won the trinket after he licked the bus’s toilet floor and then all the way up the aisle to the front.

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.

 

The Barrie Boys

There’s several different storylines in this picture. Have a look and then below I’ll tell you.

Even the Habs are involved!

Barrie

This is the 1964-65 Barrie All-Stars, a team my Orillia team played often.

It was that very year I think, that after Orillia had been eliminated from playoff action, this Barrie team picked up three players from Orillia and I was one of them.

I didn’t do so well but one of their coaches told my buddy Ron Clarke that they were glad they chose him. You bet I’m still insulted.

The coach sitting down on the right side is Paul Meger, who played 212 games in the NHL, all with the Montreal Canadiens, from 1950-51 to 1954-55.

Mr. Meger and his Habs hoisted the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1953 by taking out the Bruins in five games.

That’s his son Gary Meger beside him with the “A” on his sweater.

The player on the far left in the middle row, standing next to a coach or trainer, is Dan Maloney. Dan played 737 games in the NHL with Chicago, L.A., Detroit, and Toronto.

It would be six years from the time this picture was taken to the time Dan played his first NHL game. He was one tough customer and I tried not to upset him when Orillia played Barrie.

He was a great player and leader, even as a kid.

Dan would go on to coach Toronto and Winnipeg in the 1980s when his playing days were over.

The kid in the top row, second from left, is Craig Ortiz, who would move to Orillia in a year or two because his dad opened a car dealership there. Craig and I became great buddies and spent most of our waking hours in the pool hall.

Craig took me down to Barrie once to visit his pal Dan Maloney and the three of us spent the day in the Barrie pool hall.

He and I also hitchhiked to Ottawa when our class went on a school trip. But the trip was only for those who had good marks and that wasn’t us, but we went anyway. The class bus passed us outside Orillia and we ended up beating it to Ottawa.

Not so lucky on the way back, though, and we voluntarily wound up sleeping in the Lindsay jail after asking the cop there if we could.

Maybe not so much for you, but for me this is an awesome picture, full of memories. I’d like to thank Mike Mohun, who I haven’t seen since about grade nine, for sending it to me.

 

Impressive At Seven

Danno sends the Sportsnet NHL Power Rankings and as you can see, the Canadiens are right there behind the six everyone considers to be the class of the league.

I think it’s pretty darn impressive to see the Habs ranked that high. Could it be a touch of respect thrown their way?

Team Previous
1 Thanks to Montreal, Boston’s 12-game winning streak has been morphed into a 13-game point streak. A seven-point lead over the Penguins for the Eastern Conference crown is a big deal for the best home team in the conference. 2
2 The West-leading Blues stumbled early in their four-game road trip, getting outscored 8-1 combined in losses to the Flyers and Blackhawks, but bounced back to shutout the Penguins and pile onto the Maple Leafs’ misery. 1
3 Led by two 30-goal scorers, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski, the Sharks have points in four straight and look to be a serious Presidents’ Trophy threat. With a 26-5-5 record at the Tank, home ice is worth fighting for. 3
4 Tough one-goal losses to the Sharks and Caps underscored the Ducks’ need to get Cam Fowler back as soon as possible. But while Anaheim has surrendered the Pacific lead to San Joe, the Ducks have three games in hand. 5
5 Chicago is playing into the wind, and playing well. Despite the loss of leading scorer Patrick Kane, the defending champs have points in five of six and welcomed future star Teuvo Teravainen to the NHL Tuesday. 10
6 A big W in Philly — the return of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter — shows that the Kings are peaking at the right time… again. Winners of four straight. 8
7 The Canadiens wanted the Bruins to extend their league-best winning streak to 12 games just so they could be the Bruins’ unlucky 13th opponent. And they were. Here’s hoping these two passionate and on-fire clubs meet in the playoffs.

The entire league rankings can be seen right here

Habs Eaten By Coyotes

With Thomas Vanek in the lineup and Dale Weise a healthy scratch, the Canadiens drop a 5-2 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes, a game they were in until they weren’t.

Maybe it’s because Vanek played alongside smallish Tomas Plekanec and wee Brian Gionta, but he looked absolutely huge. He’s listed at 6′ at the Canadiens website, but 6’2″ everywhere else, including Hockey Database and Hockey Reference.

I’m going with those. He’s definitely bigger than 6′.

But that’s beside the point. The Canadiens lost, although it isn’t the end of the world. They just have to win in San Jose on Saturday to erase the bummer.

The Coyotes struck first when a long shot caromed off Douglas Murray, but Andrei Markov tied it with a big blast. Then with Lars Eller taking a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, Phoenix once again grabbed the lead and visions of Eller in the doghouse danced through many of our heads I’m sure.

But he was back out shortly after, which was nice to see. I hate seeing guys in the doghouse all the time. And if life was truly fair, Rene Bourque shouldn’t have played since last November.

The killer for the Habs came with just nine seconds left in the first period when Phoenix made it 3-1, and as they say, Antoine’s your uncle.

Montreal did narrow it to a 3-2 game in the second when Alex Galchenyuk scored on a 5 on 3, and Alexei Emelin had previously bulged the twine, but the goal was called back because Desharnais was stuck in the crease.

We could also say the Canadiens were all over the Coyotes in that second frame, but the home team had four penalties to Montreal’s none, and that might have something to do with it.

In the third, I listened to the game on the radio on my way to the airport to pick up Luci. That’s when I heard Phoenix make it 4-2 and then 5-2. It’s also when I got lost at the airport trying to find the parking garage.

Random notes:

Along with Weise, healthy scratches included George Parros and Francis Bouillon. Josh Gorges is back in Montreal having his damaged hand looked at.

The Canadiens apparently didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 3:00 am, but no excuses, right?

Habs outshot the Coyotes 26-23.

Thomas Vanek, although looking slightly out of sorts which is understandable, still managed to have three or four good chances to score, which is three or four more than Rene Bourque has managed in the last month.

Peter Budaj was less than sharp. We need Carey Price back, but with the final stretch and upcoming playoffs, it’s very wise not to rush things. Groin injuries take time. I remember suffering one myself after that private party with the players’ wives. Took me months to recover.

Newly acquired d-man Mike Weaver didn’t seem overly impressive in his debut but I think it’s unfair to judge after just one outing.

Next, the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at 10:00 pm ET. Another tough game, and it’ll be nice when this road trip is over. Not only because it’s a tough four games, but also because they’ve all been past my bedtime.

Maybe we’ll see a camera shot of grumpy Neil Young at the game. He’s been a season ticket holder in San Jose for years. Ex-Hab Terry Harper, who lives a couple of hours north of San Jose, also goes to games there from time to time.

 

Toker Stones Ducks

Dustin Tokarski, in nets for the Canadiens for his very first time, came up big in stopping 39 of 42 shots as the boys beat the quackers 4-3 in a shootout and grab a massive two points and a ton of confidence.

Tokarski had previously seen big time duty in the NHL when he was between the pipes for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009-10  for two games and then another five in 2011-12, but he played like a seasoned pro in what must have been a nerve-wracking experience last night.

How great is it when your gold-medalist goes down, backup Budaj, fills in nicely, and then Budaj’s backup, Tokarski, also does his job in fine fashion.

It’s very satisfying for all concerned. Except for other teams and people who hate the Habs of course.

Montreal came out flying and took a big 2-0 lead on goals by Brian Gionta and Max with his 30th of the season (which is a fine season indeed).

Max has been playing on another level since returning from the Olympics. More fire, more jump, more confidence. At the perfect time of the year.

Things got slightly dismal in the second frame when a puck got behind a screened Tokarski, another hit a glass support and caromed in while Toker was preparing to corral it around the boards, and then after a terrible and confused Habs power play, the Ducks took the lead.

At this point, it all could have fallen apart like a great party raided by the cops, but credit to the Canadiens, they never gave up, and in the last minute of the second period, Brendan Gallagher banged it home and game was tied.

The game was scoreless in the third period and overtime, but in the shootout, Desharnais, Briere, and finally Andrei Markov beat Jonas Hiller and it made my heart soar like a Himalayan Snowcock.

This was a Habs team with good legs, with jump (aside from their zero for five power play attempts), and the many Habs fans at Anaheim’s Honda Center certainly must have enjoyed themselves.

I know I did, from the friendly confines of my apartment the morning after. I tried to stay up last night but my eyelids felt like they had pucks stapled to them.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Ducks 42, Habs 31

Lars Eller was a healthy scratch, and George Parros was given a small tribute on the screen, in which he gave a heartfelt response. George spent six seasons as a Duck.

A huge win. A road trip like this, against some of the league’s elite, seemed daunting, and although they lost a tight one (2-1) the other night in L.A., they came out with jump against the league leading Ducks, played well, and won the thing.

This has to be great for their confidence, and with Weaver and Vanek poised to join their new team, who knows? Maybe a great march onwards and upwards is in the making.

Coyotes on the agenda tonight (9:00 pm ET), and we’re expecting the same jump and character as we just saw. So c’mon boys, keep it up.

 

Habs Edged In L.A.

I was up slightly earlier today so I could see on the scoreboard and PVR how the Habs did in L.A., after a 10:30 pm ET start that was way past my bedtime.

I see that the boys dropped a 2-1 decision to the Kings after Jeff Carter scored the go-ahead goal with Ryan White in the box for holding.

I was curious to see if it was a dumb penalty so I had a quick look. White hauled down Trevor Lewis in a race to the puck and it could’ve been avoided, as most White penalties can.

P.K. Subban’s goal in the first period that evened things at one wasn’t a hard blast, just a wrist shot from the point that banked in off Jarret Stoll’s skate.

Random Notes:

The Kings outshot the Canadiens 22-18.

You probably didn’t miss much if you were sleeping, although I watched the third period and there were some close calls at both ends. But when you look at the shots, you’ll see –
1st. Habs 5  Kings 5
2nd. Habs 5  Kings 8
3rd. Habs 8  Kings 9

So not a barnburner to say the least.

Now it’s slightly east on a dreadful freeway to take on the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday at 10:00 pm ET.

The Ducks, featuring Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu etc. The number one team in the NHL with 91 points. (Montreal has 75).

Toronto lost 2-1 to Columbus.

 

 

 

Late Tonight In La La Land

Canadiens in Los Angeles for a 10:30 ET game against the Kings, a team that features the likes of Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty, and goalkeeper Jonathan Quick.

I just hope the boys didn’t party too much last night as teams in the past would do when they hit Southern California.

Maybe they showed up at a post-Oscars party and broke curfew.

Nope. I trust them.

The last time these two teams played, the Kings walloped the Habs 6-0 and it was the beginning of a very dismal stretch for the blue, blanc et rouge that saw them lose six of ten games.

But that was then and this is now. A big game tonight and two points needed thank you very much.

And to fill in space, I noticed this in a 1935 Winnipeg paper. It’s funny, even though the Canadiens got plastered by the Leafs that night.

“CHARLIE OUTSCORED! MONTREAL, March 1935. The usual group of youngsters were standing around the dressing – room door of the Toronto Maple Leafs last night after they had plastered Canadiens with a 10 – 3 defeat. When Charlie Conacher emerged, one of the kids asked him for a stick. The Leafs’ right – winger replied ha didn’t have one. “What,” declared the youngster, “you can’t let me have a stick after scoring four goals!” “They’re all locked up,” countered Conacher. “You should be too,” came back the kid and Canadiens agreed.”

 

Big Games On The Horizon

The Canadiens get back to work on Wednesday when Detroit comes to town, then it’s off to Pittsburgh for a Thursday evening tilt, then those wacky Maple Leafs visit the Bell on Saturday.

After that it’s a serious swing into L.A., Anaheim, Phoenix and San Jose, so the boys are in for a dandy time in the next while.

Did I mention that after they get home, they get to host the Bruins and Senators?

Jarred Tinordi has been called up, and Nathan Beaulieu, who played well for the big team before the Olympics closed things down, will continue to hone his craft in Hamilton.

I like what Bergevin and the gang are doing. They’ve seen that Beaulieu can fit in nicely and now it’s time for Tinordi to show the same type of thing.

The blueline changing of the guard is approaching fast. So is the March 5th trade deadline.

Speaking of defencemen, Andrei Markov is supposedly not crazy about a one-year, 6 million dollar offer and wants a three-year package instead.

Alex Galchenyuk’s broken hand is healed, and apparently he’s ready to go. I’ve missed the old fellow. He turned 20 on Feb. 12th.

I’m guessing that Peter Budaj will get the nod in goal on Wednesday. It’s a lot of big games in a short space coming up, and Price could use a break after stopping foreign pucks on foreign soil.

But of course I could be wrong about Budaj starting. It’s time now to put the hammer down and secure a playoff spot, and the best way would be to have Price in nets as often as possible.

Michael Bournival is still fighting concussion problems, and isn’t ready to go.