Category Archives: Max Pacioretty

The Start Can’t Be Much Worse

Seven games in, the Canadiens sit 30th overall with just 3 points (1-5-1). Only Arizona, with one measly point, is worse.

Montreal’s goals per game is the lousiest in the league (31st), with a 1.43 average.

They’re in 28th place for Goals Against (3.86).

27th on the power play (7.7%).

24th on the penalty kill (76.9%)

Stay-at-home defenceman Karl Alzner has 3 assists, which puts him number two on the team behind Jonathan Drouin, who has 5 points.

Alex Galchenyuk has 1 goal and 0 assists. The same goes for Max Pacioretty.

The guy with the big shot, Shea Weber, has a goal and an assist.

Carey Price, apparently the world’s greatest goalie, has a mediocre .885 save %. He’s lost his last five starts.

Tonight the Canadiens are in Anaheim. “Go Habs Go” he said weakly.

 

Early Season Habs Blues

Four measly goals (and a shootout marker) in four games. Three straight losses after falling 3-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks on opening night at the Bell Centre. Another night of the power play shooting blanks.

If this keeps up, those wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens should be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs sometime around Christmas and we can concentrate fully on the magic of winter, spring, and early summer.

But they looked great in the first period, which should give us some hope. Maybe false hope. Tomas Plekanec handed the boys a 1-0 lead just 1:15 in, after letting loose a nice wrist shot, and they even ended the frame with 16 shots to the Hawks’ 7.

Really good. I was happy. Not happy the way Hugh Hefner was probably happy, but still pretty happy.

The problem was, Chicago scored twice in 19 seconds with only a couple of minutes left in the first, so all the good work that had been done was crushed like a beer can on a frat boy’s forehead.

And the main problem is, even though the boys are getting plenty of shots in each game, these are shots fired by guys not blessed with good hands, which is most of the team. Who on the Habs is blessed with good hands – Pacioretty? Sometimes he is. Drouin? Hopefully.

Who else, Galchenyuk? The guy who so far in this early season looks like he’d rather be back in his apartment with several lovely young ladies. Maybe he should be somewhere else. Maybe Marc Bergevin should’ve moved him when other GMs still thought he was good.

Chicago’s third goal was a power play marker in the second period with Philip Danault in the box for hooking. A cheap call I thought, but whatever, Montreal was toast, because they only score once a game and that had already happened back in the first.

Next up for the Habs is a Saturday night tilt at the Bell against the Leafs. The Leafs, who score more goals in one game than Montreal does in four.

This morning on Sportsnet Hockey Central, host Daren Millard blurted out like a 12-year old,”Do you think the Leafs are becoming the Oilers of the 1980s”? I almost choked on my 7 a.m Labatts Blue.

The 1980s Oilers are considered one of the NHL’s greatest-ever teams. Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Anderson, Kurri. The Leafs, I’m pretty sure, aren’t quite the 80s Oilers.

The Leafs-media love-in is causing a whole new wave of Leafs fans. Refugees are pouring in, turning on their TVs, and hearing how fantastic the team in Toronto is from groupies like Millard.  So they become fans even though they don’t know the difference between a puck and Auston Mathews’ used jock strap.

Speaking of Mathews, here’s a photo of him and his teammates today doing some dryland exercises at their training facility.

And now – for some post game bonus coverage of action on the water. The seas were angry that day, my friends.

We were at a restaurant outside of St. Petersburg, Russia, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, where I went fishing at a small adjacent pond and caught a large trout.

Then the folks in the kitchen cooked it up and we ate it.

 

Game One Shootout Win!

Last year the Canadiens were 9 wins and a shootout loss to start the season, and the year before it was 9 straight wins out of the gate.

But overall, they weren’t very good, you know that. They were gone after 6 playoff games last year, and were so bad without Carey Price two years ago, me and the gang playing road hockey on Elmer Ave. in Orillia (photo above), might have given them a run for their money.

This year, in Montreal’s season opener in Buffalo, it was a 3-2 shootout win for the good guys, in a game that was surprisingly entertaining for the first of the year. Sometimes a first game can be almost preseason-like, but not this one, and good for Sabres fan who paid the big bucks and kinda got their money’s worth.

Two points in the bank, to be withdrawn sometime down the road when they’re on shaky footing. Maybe they’ll start with 9 straight again this year, whatever it means.

The first period gave us a good look at new Habs rearguard Victor Mete, who won’t turn 20 until June. The young fellow, straight out of junior with the London Knights, is a terrific skater and plays with poise. Hopefully he’ll still be playing with poise when the going gets tough.

The Sabres opened the scoring on a power play, and although the Habs started well, it was the Sabres who came on strong as the period wore on. But with just over two minutes left, a bang bang play – Gally to Jonathan Drouin to Max – and the game was tied.

That was the first period, and now, during intermission, I’d like to show you the vintage pedal car I bought in Revelstoke a few months ago. It was made in the late-50s I think, but resembles a Quadricycle from the late-1890s. Henry Ford used to bomb around in a Quadricycle before he started his company in 1903.

But enough about that.

The second period saw Buffalo’s Jason Pominville notch his second of the evening just 22 seconds in to give his team a 2-1 lead, and the hosts had the edge in play to this point. But the Sabres enjoyed back- to-back power plays and couldn’t get it done, which, if they care enough, could cause a restless sleep tonight. But maybe they’ll sleep soundly. They still get paid, and they got a point.

The second period ended, and during this intermission I’d like to mention that Lucy and I spend three great weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia this summer. We just got back about a month ago.

In the third, Philip Danault shoved home a wraparound at the 8.01 mark, the game was tied, and would remain so into overtime, where no goals were scored even though it was fire-wagon, back and forth hockey.

Really exciting. Really unusual for game one, as I said.

Before the shootout, I’d like to mention that my old pal from Orillia, Kerry Baker, a guy I lost track of more than 40 years ago, came to visit with his lovely Jacquie. We had connected on Facebook about a year ago and finally met up a few weeks ago. He’s a great guy with a great woman, and we had a mighty fine couple of days eating and drinking and drinking and eating.

Jonathan Drouin, showing lovely hands, was the lone scorer in the shootout after parking a backhand into the top of the net past Sabres netminder Robin Lehner. Drouin’s a great player, a difference maker, and he’ll look just dandy holding the Cup high next June.

I also visited my daughter and grandkids in Nelson this summer, and here we are wondering how the team will do this year.

So far, so good.

Random Notes:

In the shootout, Paul Byron rang one off the post before Drouin made his magic.

Sabres outshot the Canadiens 45-40 during this lively affair.

Buffalo was 1-5 of the pp, while the Habs went 0-4.

Next up – Saturday in Washington at 7:00 pm ET.

My website is 10 years old now.

 

Game 5 Bummer

The Canadiens fall 3-2 to the Rangers in overtime, and now it’s gonna take them seven games to win the series instead of six.

I’m okay with that, because I have faith. But they’re testing my faith. And my patience. Bastards.

For much of the game, the Rangers were the better team, and that’s unacceptable, especially at the Bell Centre where noisy fans provided the atmosphere, but fans can’t put the puck in the net. That’s where the team is supposed to chip in.

It was a sickening sight to see the puck get past Carey Price in overtime, because as dominate as the Rangers were in OT, it was always possible that a lucky break could see the Canadiens end up winning the thing.

It never happened, and now the series resumes once again on Saturday in New York. And it’ll have to be all hands on deck for that one, because no-shows aren’t welcome. Never have been, never will. Especially no-shows that wear the CH.

I still feel that Montreal is the better team. It’s just how I feel. They weren’t tonight, and they weren’t on Tuesday. Or game 1 for that matter. So maybe they’re not.

This one hurts.

From my notes:

In the first minute of the game, Carey Price made a huge save on Mats Zuccarello, and I thought maybe Pricer was gonna be a hero on this night.

Andrew Shaw and the much bigger Brendan Smith dropped the gloves, Shaw got in several fine rights, and he looked good as he swung away. It was just the beginning of a rough and tumble, hard hitting, testy kind of a night.

Still in the first, Artturi Lehkonen fooled with Marc Staal and ended up swooping around the net and sending the puck past Henny Lunny to give the boys a 1-0 lead.

Still in the period, Jesper Fast scored a shorthanded marker after Alex Galchenyuk coughed up the puck, and the game was tied.

Galchenyuk’s been mediocre at best in this series. Maybe he doesn’t want to be a Hab anymore.

Just 25 seconds later, on the same power play, Brendan Gallagher fooled Henny from 15 feet out and the good guys took the lead again.

In the second period, Zuccarello highsticked Paul Byron, catching him in the eye area. Somebody needs to tune the Norwegian in once and for all.

With just 1:32 left in the 2nd, the Rangers tied it up, and it was after this that the strength of my ticker was firmly tested.

Sixteen seconds in, Gally took a slashing penalty when his little love tap knocked the stick out of the hands of a weak-wristed Blueshirt. A cheap call indeed, but NY failed to score.

Gally’s only 5’9″, 184 pounds, but he’s the toughest son of a gun on the ice.

Also in the third, Phillip Danault hit the post while the team was shorthanded, and Max couldn’t solve Henny on a clear-cut breakaway.

Max is in a slump at the wrong time of year. But you already know that.

In overtime it was all Rangers.

One Lousy Random Note:

Game 6 on Saturday in New York is an 8pm ET start. Or 5pm where I live.

 

 

 

Great Game 2

Above – Habs fans in Powell River watch the game on the big screen.

Finally I was able to see the game properly, after my pal Homer kidnapped me last night and I was forced to listen to him talk about how the World Cup of Hockey, the World Baseball Classic, and the Sedin twins sucked.

But we did accomplish one big thing as I tried to watch the game out of the corner of my eye. We’re gonna form a band and call ourselves Carnaby Knights. I’m the singer.

This morning I saw how a team fought, hit, worked, and didn’t give up, and the Bell Centre crowd definitely got their money’s worth. It’s like I’ve said about a dozen times over the past several months – the regular season is long gone, forgotten, never to be thought of again, because the playoffs are a whole other animal.

Weber was a beast, and when he’s pissed off, he’s the Weber we wanted. Plekanec was back to the one we knew and loved. Max, Radulov, Petry, Byron, and heck, almost everyone, played hard, smart, and desperate.

Gallagher…..I have no words. Sort of. He’s a warrior, old school yet new school. One of a kind. I thought the abuse he takes year in and year out had begun to slow him down a bit. I was wrong.

Gallagher’s taking plenty from the Rangers, and frankly, it’s up to the officials to call more. It’s ridiculous how one guy can get mugged constantly but the whistle is never blown.

The series is tied, and the hockey is great. I apologize for last night. Blame Homer.

Game three goes Sunday at the normal time.

Below, Rangers fans head back to Manhattan.

Habs Continue To Rock

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been fighting for their playoff lives, trying to catch Toronto for the final wildcard spot, and were winners of their last four games.

Then they met the Montreal Canadiens.

Unfortunately for the Lightning, they ran into a team that’s looking mighty fine these days, and for the Florida-based team, their plans of postseason action just took a major hit after Alexander Radulov bulged the twine in overtime, and the Canadiens skated away with a 2-1 win, their fourth straight.

Rock and rolling at the exact time we want them to be. My chest swells with pride.

Montreal has done serious damage to Tampa’s hopes of catching Toronto (who edged Detroit on this night), but that’s what happens when the Lightning come up against a team now firing on all cylinders, with Carey Price doing his thing and the boys as a whole looking sharp.

Like a playoff team ready to make a large dent.

It’s a fine feeling to see the team play well when it counts. They give us hope, something that was lacking when MT was behind the bench. And after last season in particular, we deserve it.

Four more games for the Canadiens, and then the real fun begins. We’ll be looking for them to shoot down postseason enemies the way scary warriors shoot down monkeys on giraffes.

Just a tight, goaltender’s duel in Tampa, with Price at one end and Andrei Vasilevskiy at the other coming up big time after time. A sensational back and forth game, with wondrous play in overtime that finally saw Max find Radu, and Lightning fans filed out of the rink, got in their cars, and drove palm tree-lined streets to get home and drown their sorrows.

At least I’m assuming that’s what they did.

Random Notes:

The game was scoreless in the first, but the middle frame saw Phillip Danault stuff it home to make it 1-0 Habs. Tampa would tie it in the third by someone named Yanni Gourde, but then Max and Radu went to work in the three-on-three overtime.

Shots on goal – Canadiens 36, Lightning 22.

The Canadiens’ final four games will be within the next week, with the boys bombing over to Sunrise on Monday to throttle the Panthers, then to Buffalo on Wednesday to embarrass the Sabres, then home on Friday to meet these same downcast Lightning, and end it all in Detroit next Saturday.

Canadiens Smoke Stars

Ready? Take a deep breath:

The Dallas Stars scored just 1:47 into the game, but that was it for the visitors as Max Pacioretty’s 34th of the season tied it in the second, while in the third, Gally, Lehkonen, and Radulov broke it open and the big win gives the team 95 points on the season, four better than Ottawa which got a loser point in their SO loss to Philly, and now the Canadiens hope to make it three straight on Thursday when the Florida Panthers, another team like Dallas that has no hope for the postseason, pay a visit to the Bell Centre, home of $12 beer even though the team is owned by Molsons, which I don’t think is right but I can’t buy beer at the Bell anyway because I’m 5000 km. from there and I can drink pints right here in Powell River for $4.50, and if you’re still with me, the Canadiens outshot Dallas 36-28 and Carey Price was as solid as can be throughout.

Whew, a one sentence recap. Maybe I’ll just move on to something less tiring now.

I wish I had one of these early-1960s bobbleheads.

Oh wait. I do!

Canadiens Nail Leafs

A sweet pass from Tomas Plekanec to Andrew Shaw in overtime, and the Habs skate off with a 3-2 win in Toronto, thus ending Leaf fans and the HNIC crew’s dream of their beloved team crawling within two points of the boys from Quebec.

If only they could’ve won, sighed Leaf fans as they left bars or turned off the lights at home and tried to sleep, and the HNIC crew wrapped things up at the rink and sadly shook their heads and looked broken.

It was a back and forth game, one that had extra purpose considering the standings and the built-in rivalry, and for a change, one that probably kept many fans on the edge of their chairs and couches throughout.

Of course I don’t know for sure about the edge of chairs and couches. I’m only guessing.

A fast-paced affair which could’ve gone either way, and I could say that folks got their money’s worth at the ACC, except a bunch of lower seats probably went for a grand or so, so maybe the people sitting there didn’t exactly.

Depends on what a grand means to them I guess.

But it went Montreal’s way for a change, they keep their distance from a bunch of pretenders, including the Torontonians, after two sharpshooters and one Shaw raked the Leafs into the ditch.

A struggling team gets it done against a good young Toronto team that gets TV announcers’ libidos doing the watusi.

The Leafs would open the scoring in the first period when Habs rearguard Nikita Nesterov not only had the puck go in off him, but played his man in front so softly it was like he was up against Betty White.

Greg Pateryn sat while Nesterov dressed. Next game, in New Jersey on Monday, maybe that’ll change. Softness isn’t cool, unless it’s toilet paper and a few other things, like women.

In the second frame, with the man advantage, Max would bury a beauty pass from Alex Galchenyuk, and nine minutes later, Galchenyuk would bulge the twine with a great shot that gave the boys a 2-1 lead.

In the third, again with poor defensive coverage (this time by Alexei Emelin), Leafs super-rookie Auston Mathews would tie things and send it into overtime.

And that’s where Pleks and Shaw worked their magic.

This final photo shows the Rocket scoring his final goal, his 626th, on April 12, 1960 during the Stanley Cup Finals against the Leafs. I wrote to a Toronto paper after it happened, asking if they’d send me a photo, and they did.

The Dismal Beat Goes On

Late-’80s Claude Julien.

The wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens were rusty and sloppy in Claude Julien’s 2017 coaching debut, and their 3-1 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Jets ruined what could have been a fun breakout party for the new Blind River bench boss.

Probably rusty because they had five days off. And sloppy, regardless of who’s behind the bench. Nothing new about their sloppiness. They’d probably be a mess if Toe Blake was behind them.

Was any part of this loss Julien’s fault?

If he was Kreskin, he might have plunked Nathan Beaulieu into the press box pre-game, before this mediocre defenceman could think he was Bobby Orr during a second period power play, and which quickly showed he’s no Bobby Orr.

Or Gaston Gingras for that matter.

Beaulieu decided to do some fancy stickhanding and was promptly stripped of the puck by Joel Armia, who walked in and tied it.

And because Julien didn’t have his skates on, he couldn’t be on the ice at 1:16 of the third when Emelin, Weber, Plekanec, Danault and Max decided to show their soft and tender side as Big Buff muscled his way in from the right side and found Mathieu Perreault, who notched the winner easy as pie.

Winnipeg’s third goal was an empty-netter, so I guess Julien can’t be blamed for that one either.

Wasn’t Carey Price’s fault either, as the big fellow snagged shots left and right, including lightning-quick glove hand robbery on rookie star Patrick Laine’s laser in the first period and then again in the third, plus coming up big a plethora of other times throughout.

Price was his old self, which is a good thing. So were his teammates, which is a bad thing.

Gump Worsley, manning the pipes for the New York Rangers in the late-’50s, was asked what team gave him the most trouble. Gump answered, “the Rangers”.

Price can say exactly the same thing about his teammates. Coverage means more than just car and house insurance, boys.

Random Notes:

Jets outshot the Habs 33-20.

Either the Sens or Leafs will win tonight, considering they play each other. Which means if the Sens win they’ll be within two points of Montreal, and if the Leafs pull it out, they’ll be just five back. Both teams also have games in hand on the Canadiens.

 

Saturday Morning Close But No Cigar

The Canadiens almost pulled it out in the dying minutes but they didn’t, so why even mention it?

Because I’m feeling guilty for slacking off lately with the recaps and this is the best I can come up with.

A 3-2 Caps win at the Bell Centre, in a game that saw the home team play with more vim and vigor than their comatose display in Philly Thursday night.

But 95-year old Betty White and a full century Kirk Douglas would play with more vim and vigor than the Habs’ Thursday sleep-in. So instead of doing a little summary of that recent yawner, I decided to pick my toenails and melt my ear wax instead.

Today (Saturday) was a game that began at 10:10 am at my house, which works out beautifully because it gives me plenty of time to track down my pusher. Same thing tomorrow when the boys greet the Edmonton Oilers.

Sure hope I don’t get ‘acid’ indigestion while stirring the ‘pot’ full of boiled ‘hash’ while I, uh, drink my ‘coke’.

I can’t wait for the playoffs. This 82-game schedule is merely a series of teams tweaking before real hockey begins. Let the Canadiens play like bums now, it doesn’t matter. Calm down and don’t get your shorts in a knot. Spent some quality time with your pusher instead.

The Maharishi would tell you the same thing if he were alive and not busy hitting on Mia and Prudence Farrow.

The postseason is the real deal, not Gary Bettman’s dream of parity, where almost every team is basically as good as every other team, in the regular season at least.

The top of the heap Caps are notorious flops in the playoffs and I expect them to do so again, mainly because it’s all we know from them. And surprises happen in late-spring. Small and quick teams with great goaltending, who were often boring and inept as hell beforehand, can sometimes surprise and go far at this time. Like Montreal will this year.

Just have to get the wretched season over with.

I hate parity. I want a handful of good teams and plenty of bad ones. It’s nice to see the bad ones play like gangbusters against powerhouses. Sometimes the poorer teams win because of hard work, lucky bounces, milder hangovers, along with supreme cockiness and worse hangovers on the part of the good ones.

Where was I going on this? What’s this about parity? Sorry.

Carey Price allowed his usual three goals, which he does on most nights now, but it matters little because it’s not the playoffs. So please don’t take his play or Galchenyuk’s or Shaw’s to heart. It means almost nothing.

Is there a rule that says Price can’t wear Jacques Plante’s old equipment during a game?

Random Notes:

Alexander Radulov was on fire today, with a goal, an assist, and a goal called back after Max interfered with Caps netminder Braden Holtby.

Below is Lyla, who is the main reason why my priorities have changed. Why I don’t write summaries after every game now. Why I often pace the floor or look at blank walls instead of paying attention to these friggin’ multi-millionaires on the ice who insult all of you when they float or sign their chicken scratch names on a piece of paper, which ultimately looks like something Lyla would’ve scribbled.

Lyla’s become way more important than getting wound up about any lousy regular season showing on the part of this team that I’ve put my heart and soul into for six decades.

My wife Lucy and I are raising this little girl, with great help from Lyla’s mom, even though we’re in our mid-60s. And I’m slowly converting my spare room, that was filled with rare Habs memorabilia, into a little girlie room, which I’m happy to do.

Lyla is real life, unlike the regular season.