Category Archives: Max Pacioretty

Ahoy Captain

It’s big stuff, this talk of the next Habs captain now that Brian Gionta has gone back to his home state.

The fact is, I don’t think anyone right now has what it takes for the role. Kind of sad, but in a few years, it’ll probably all become clear.

Of course, if someone is chosen this year, please forget that you ever saw this.

The names are tossed around. There’s Markov and Subban, and Plekanec and sometimes Max, and for some unknown reason, Brendan Gallagher keeps coming up. I don’t know why. But more about that later.

A captain’s not there just to make the fans happy that there is one. He has to have big time respect and admiration from teammates. They have to look up to him and learn from him. He has to lead by example. That’s why you never saw Howie Young or Sean Avery or Sergei Kostitsyn wear the C on any team.

A Canadiens captain needs to take Rene Bourque aside when Bourque is comatose and give him verbal smelling salts. He needs to tell P.K. to sometimes calm down, or chat now and again with Michel Therrien and politely mention that embarrassing P.K. in public might not be the coolest thing.

A leader of men. Classy, smart, and distinguished. The opposite of me.

The coaches rely on him to talk to teammates and guide and advise. He has to be great with the media and fans. He has to get along in fine fashion with the on-ice officials. Ask the zebras about the wife and kids. Explain politely that Brendan Prust’s fist into someone’s face was a natural reaction caused by the other player saying something uncalled for about the referee’s wife.

It would be great if the players voted on the wearer of the C but chances are it won’t be like that. Which could also lead to the delicate situation of the player being a bit of a brown noser, one of management’s pipelines. That sort of thing is for losers.

Of course that only happens with other teams, not the Habs. This is a team that rises above the nuttiness. There’s never nuttiness in Montreal, you know that.

Andrei Markov leads by example, that’s for sure, and the players, I think, truly respect him. He’s a hard worker, which a captain needs to be, and he’s been around since he paired with Sprague Cleghorn. But when it comes to the microphone or the PR stuff, it’s just doesn’t seem to be in him.

I know a bunch of his fellow countrymen, and most are cut from the same cloth. Reserved and not all great around anything remotely  resembling public attention. Except Lucy’s son Denis in St. Petersburg, who loves to ham it up when the camera’s out. But I think he’s an anomaly.

As much as I admire Markov, he’s not completely captain’s material. At least not in my book. But you might have a different book.

Same with Tomas Plekanec. Not great in front of the camera. Kind of a quiet guy I think. Not one to take a rookie aside and tell him to lay off the booze and broads. Or maybe he does, but surely not the way a Mark Messier or the Rocket would have handled it.

And if you say that’s old time, that this is now, so what? Because leaders are leaders, whether it’s 1914 or 2014.

As much as I like Pleks, and as much as Brad Marchand dislikes him, which is a definite bonus, he, like Markov, doesn’t have the makeup to be a true captain.

P.K. Subban will be a fine captain some day. He leads by example, he struts in public, and he’s fired up to win. He’s perfect in many ways. We don’t want a laid back captain. We just had one. But P.K. still has a bit of goofiness in him, probably what a captain shouldn’t have.

As much as P.K. is liked by his teammates, do they look up to him at this point the way young players in Chicago look up to Jonathan Toews, or in Anaheim to Ryan Getzlaf, or Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh?

Maybe after this season, after P.K. buys a few rounds, wins another Norris, and is voted Most Popular Guy on the Team by his teammates, then it’ll be time to put the C on him. He’s almost there. Just not quite.

The head scratcher for me is why Brendan Gallagher’s name comes up. As great a player he is, with a heart as big as can be, and a guy who would lead by example as a captain should, he’s still a kid. It’s obvious by the one minute interviews we see. He still talks like a kid. He was like a son to Josh Gorges and his wife when Gally rented a room at the Gorges resident.

Of course you could say Sidney Crosby roomed at Mario Lemieux’s house and was a captain at just 19, but these are two different personalities. I’m sure Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was also 19 when given the C, is a man/boy too. There are guys like that. I once had a teammate when I was about 15 who had to shave every day and had this serious man strength. He looked older than the coaches.

Imagine if everyone had his same burning desire as Gallagher. But he’s not captain material because he’s a kid and I don’t understand why it keeps coming up.

Max Pacioretty might make a fine captain, but it seems he gets into areas when he has to re-screw his head back on from time to time. He’s kind of like me in this regard only I probably take longer to recover. It’s not a knock on Max for having his up and down moments. It’s about a captain not having those moments. One who could help Max along when he’s feeling out of sorts.

A captain has to be a big brother. Jean Beliveau was good like this. He knew how to handle all sorts of egos in the dressing room. Max doesn’t seem to have this in his genes, nor does Markov, Plekanec, Gallagher, and P.K., although at least it seems that way to a guy who only watches them on TV and has never been in the room except during the Bell Centre tour.

The captain situation sort of mirrors the team situation. Getting there, but just not quite. I think it’ll be Subban wearing the C in the 2015-16 campaign if he doesn’t screw it up in the meantime by making his teammates want to throttle him.

It’ll interesting to see how this captain thing unfolds. Just wish we had an obvious choice.

 

 

Darth Comes Through Again

Darth (Wade Alexander) has been creating cool pieces of computer art for several years and it’s always a good day when another shows up that I can post.

Some of his other stuff can be seen right here

And now, without further ado, Darth’s newest.

PKPortrait

Guy Should Have A Blog

Guy Lafleur should have a blog. Imagine the insights we’d get!

Guy could tell us all about his troubles with Jacques Lemaire, about why the team hasn’t won the Cup since 1993, why Rejean Houle didn’t get enough in return for Patrick Roy, why Steve Shutt was hard on rookies, what he thinks Michel Therrien is doing wrong, why sometimes there’s not enough foam on the Bell Centre beer. All kinds of stuff.

Imagine the readership he’d get. We’d rush to open his blog to see what he says. It might be the most fascinating blog in the history of blogs.

“You can’t keep guys like Vanek and Pacioretty on the team,” Lafleur now says. “They should stay home if they’re not willing to pay the price. Your team won’t win with players like that who disappear under adversity.”

Guy would get a million hits for that story alone. Advertisers would flock to him. He’d be the king of bloggers.

Lafleur was basically talking about game six of the Rangers series that ended the Habs year. New York threw a blanket over the Canadiens and that was that.

The problem, I think, is that some of the true greats like Lafleur sometimes expect others to step it up in superstar fashion, and I guess lately he’s been stewing about the team, Max and Vanek in particular, not pulling out all the stops in that final game.

Max, however, had scored the winning goal in both the Tampa and Boston series which eliminated those teams, so it wasn’t like he was going through the motions. He’s enjoyed some fine moments. But Guy was focused mostly on game six of the Rangers series when all the boys, not just Max, were stuck in mud.

Vanek, I still don’t know. Guy might have a point there. The guy had helped kickstart the team into another level when he joined them, but was definitely a disappointment in the postseason, not just game six but throughout.

But he’s probably gone anyway so it doesn’t matter what Guy says about it.

Some guys think out loud like Guy, others don’t. Bobby Orr’s teammates in Boston said that if they weren’t playing well in big games, they’d look over at Orr in the dressing room and he’d be glaring at certain guys. No words, just two eyes. If Orr was glaring at you, it wasn’t good.

Lafleur’s very much like Maurice Richard in some ways. Rocket sometimes couldn’t contain himself either, and after too much criticism in his ghost-written newspaper column, sometimes about other players and teams but particularly about league prez Clarence Campbell, Rocket was told to forget the column or else.

But no one could tell Guy to forget his blog. He could carry about things and Gary Bettman or Geoff Molson couldn’t say a thing.

C’mon Guy, start your blog. Get it all out, right or wrong, and make some serious coin doing it.

 

 

Carry On Canadiens!

Wild and wacky.

And when the dust had settled, the Canadiens give a little payback to the Rangers with a 7-4 pasting after chasing Henrik Lundqvist in the second, after enjoying a huge lead that they would blow and then regain, and who knows, as the icing on the cake, maybe we’ll even see a Ranger or two suspended!

Would’ve been a good night to be at the Bell. So much went on. Lively as hell. Lots of cheering and fretting. And now the Canadiens are alive and well, and it’s on to New York Thursday to keep the ball rolling.

Montreal practically owned the first period and led 2-1 after Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec lit the lamp, and in the second period, after killing a couple of penalties, went up a lovely 4-1 after Max and Ren Bourque bulged the twine.

But everyone except Lucy in Russia knows what happened next. New York scored three goals on six shots, suddenly it was tied at a horrifying four apiece, and the thought of this team being eliminated after leading 4-1 almost caused dry heaves.

But suddenly, the sun came up again. Rene Bourque scored his second of the night before the period had ended, the boys took another lead, and in the third Bourque would complete his hat trick, DD would score on the empty net, and all’s well in Habsland.

They could’ve folded the tent after those three quick Rangers goals that tied it, but they didn’t. And I’m willing to bet that some Knute Rockne-like speeches were made during the intermission that kept the gang on the straight and narrow throughout the third.

An awesome win. Montreal was the better team. They’ve been playing better slowly but surely as the series goes on and the Rangers know it.

As icing on the cake, we’ll hear sometime soon that Rangers d-man John Moore will get a couple of games suspension for clocking Dale Weise in a play somewhat similar to the Brandon Prust hit. You know, the one that made Rangers fans, players, and coaches scream blue murder about.

And then picture the wailing and sobbing from the Rangers if the less-than-talented Derek Dorsett, who sprayed a flag kid with snow at the beginning of the contest, also gets more than a wrist slap for a nasty headbutt on Mike Weaver near the end.

Who headbutts? Only extreme nutcases.

Dustin Tokarski came up big throughout and Rene Bourque led the charge with three goals. A tremendous night. And lots of guys contributed.

Markov collected three assists. Max ended with a goal and an assist, Eller and Weiseboth had two assists, Galchenyuk with a goal and an assist, Plekanec had a goal, and Vanek grabbed an assist, as did Gally, Gionta, and PK.

More of the same in New York on Thursday please. Except for the part about blowing a 4-1 lead.

Random Notes:

Alexei Emelin was a scratch and hopefully he’s back on Thursday.

Final shots on goal. Montreal 28, Rangers 27.

Derek Dorsett’s a weasel. There are several on that team. And we love the idiotic penalties Benoit Pouliot continues to take. Keep it up Benny!

 

 

 

Tokarski Saves The Day

The Canadiens, with sensational goaltending from DustinTokarski and an overtime goal by Alex Galchenyuk, win game three 3-2 and make the series a series.

Not that they deserved it but whatever.

Yes they were embarrassingly outplayed for much of the evening and outshot 37-25. But when the sports news comes on, the intro will say that the Canadiens are back in it after winning in overtime. Then I can turn the TV off, smile, and carry on.

However, the boys might want to think about playing a tad better than this. If you’re a Habs fan and didn’t see the game, it might have been a good thing, except you would have missed a young goalie stand on his head.

Dustin Tokarski was simply excellent. Surprisingly excellent. He stopped pucks left and right. Mr. Price couldn’t have played better.

And although I feel for Peter Budaj, after seeing the kid hold the fort in such fashion, it’s easier now to understand why the coaches went with him, even though he had no experience.

Toker won the game for Montreal plain and simple. It was him and no one else, even though the puck went by Henny Lunny three times.

Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner but was mediocre, as was Tomas Plekanec, who fed the puck to Galchenyuk for the winner, as was Thomas Vanek, who assisted on Daniel Briere’s goal that gave the Habs a late 2-1 lead, as was P.K. Subban, who gave the puck up at the blueline that led to the Rangers’ opening goal.

They were all mediocre and they weren’t the only ones. And it was weird to see PK so ordinary.

Not their finest moments, but the team won. Surely that has to deflate the other team.

The Canadiens, thanks to Dustin Tokarski, kept the Rangers to two goals, some greasy ones got by the guy with good hair at the other end, and the series is narrowed to 2-1 instead of a nightmarish 3-0.

It could also lead to great things. The Stanley Cup Finals might have crossed the Rangers’ minds ever so slightly, and instead they lose the game and realize now that if they lose game four and the thing is all tied up, life just might really suck.

The Canadiens know they played poorly, how could they not, but realize they have a young goalie doing the job nicely with Price out. He’s given his team a huge boost, and by no means are they out of it.

The chance of being in the Finals is alive and well, all because of the young guy from Saskatchewan donning the pads.

Maybe from all of this we’ll see the Canadiens at their finest again, playing the way we know they can play, which we haven’t seen yet in this series except for a few minutes of game two.

They won this game three by the skin of their teeth. They dodged a bullet. Beautiful, except they were quite lousy while doing so.

Maybe Dustin Tokarski has turned the series around.

Random Notes:

Not everyone was terrible. Max, DD, and Gally played hard.Dale Weise has some moments. Not many but some. Brandon Prust showed passion. Markov was involved.

But two thirds of the team were less than good and it’s disturbing. Are the Rangers that strong that they made many of our guys look like they were stuck in cement? I don’t think so.

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Drop Game 2

It began with such promise. The Canadiens came out flying, they were a team on a mission, a team that looked like they wanted it in a big way.

All four lines were motoring. The DD, Max, Gally combo especially was on fire, and after some great work during that first frame, Max slipped it by Henrik Lundqvist and the building was alive.

Happy days were here again. Strike up the band.

The joy lasted 17 seconds.

A puck off Josh Gorges, the score was tied just like that, and in the last minute of play Rick Nash beat Dustin Tokarski on his glove side, it became a 2-1 contest, and all that flying around and buzzing in the Rangers’ end was sucked down the drain.

The killer came in the second when Alex Galchenyuk was sent to the box for sort of tripping Carl Hagelin, who should have no problem getting a job as stuntman in Hollywood when his playing days are over. And with the man advantage, Martin St. Louis converted a nice passing play and it became a very discouraging 3-1 score for the visitors.

Montreal just couldn’t solve Lundqvist, no matter how well they were playing. And there was a young and inexperienced goaltender down at the other end who would need more than just one feeble goal from his guys to help matters.

That was that. A 3-1 win by New York, the Canadiens are now in a huge hole, and although Dustin Tokarski played well, he didn’t provide miracles, which we were relying on him to do in storybook fashion.

The fact is, although the Canadiens outshot the Rangers 41-30, they also flubbed way too many chances, chances that didn’t hit the net, pucks over the net, pucks shot wide, and of course far too many pucks that Lundqvist saw.

And then there’s Thomas Vanek, who can soon go to Minnesota and live happily after. If they still want him.

This guy isn’t close to what we saw in the regular season. You remember – the guy who revitalized Max and helped create a sensational big line, who made smart pinpoint passes, who hit the back of the net when the opportunity arose.

The guy who was turning out to be our best player. Who helped lead the charge in the final month. The guy we wanted management to shower with money. The one who was going to love Montreal’s hockey atmosphere so much. We had a sliver of hope that he’d stay and become a full-time Hab.

Now, for lack of a better description, he’s become a bum.

He’s making horrible decisions. His passes are well off. He looks lazy and not terribly interested. He’s a guy showing that when things get going, he doesn’t.

As far as the goaltending situation goes, maybe Peter Budaj should’ve played. Maybe Michel Therrien, in one surprising hunch to use Toker, ripped the guts out of Budaj. Maybe Budaj would’ve grabbed that Rick Nash shot and the teams gone to intermission tied 1-1.

It’s all hindsight now. It’s also very depressing.

Next game – Thursday in Manhattan. It’s desperate times.

Habs Trounced In Opener

It’s not surprising that after such an emotional Boston series, against a team that played such a drastically different style, the Canadiens might look slightly out of sorts in game one of the Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers.

Just didn’t think it would be that much out of sorts.

It was all Rangers, all the time. So much so that our esteemed backstopper Carey Price was relieved of his duties after two frames, with Peter Budaj getting his first shot at the 2014 playoffs.

The Canadiens need to seriously readjust. The Rangers can absolutely fly, but the saving grace is that the Canadiens can too, and once they truly become accustomed to this non-Bruins style of play, they should be fine.

Talk about a wake-up call, a stick to the groin, a water bottle spray to the faces, including ours. Just a dismal start for the team and to disappointed Habs fans who have been so excited and hopeful.

7-2. What the $%#% is that?

Ill-timed penalties. A collapse in the second period when it was just a 2-1 lead for the Blueshirts and the Habs playing much better than in the first.

But with 61 seconds left in the middle frame it was 3-1, and then with 12 seconds left, 4-1.

The third? Three goals in 3:08. All power play goals, the first with Max in for roughing, the other two because of several Prust  transgressions.

One of those games where I had contemplated paying several extra bucks and springing for a scalpers ticket, to soak in the atmosphere. To say I was there in the moment.

I didn’t, and I’m very happy about that. Now I have more money for food.

It was one of the more miserable nights in recent memory, except of course the beginning when the torch kid did his thing and then Ginette did hers. And maybe not quite as bad as game two of the Bruins series when the Canadiens led 3-1 with nine minutes left and lost 5-3.

One thing to keep in mind. It’s a seven-game series. We’ll see a different Habs team on Monday. They’ll have lots to ponder.

They’ll regroup, adjust, and come out a different team. No problem. And I think I’m going to stay away from TV sports highlights for a couple of days.

Random Notes:

Canadiens were undisciplined, including Rene Bourque in the sinbin for three separate minors and Brandon Prust given two separate minors and a 10 minute misconduct, and when the final dust had settled, the Habs had spent 24 minutes in the box and the Rangers just four.

And as far as undisciplined goes, it was the complete opposite of the Bruins series when they stayed cool, calm, and collected.

If you’re curious, Rene Bourque slipped the puck across the line behind Henrik Lundqvist for the Canadiens’ first goal, which was assisted by linemates Brian Gionta and Lars Eller. And late in the third, Eller scored an unassisted shorthanded marker.

Shots on goal, 28 for the Rangers and 22 for Montreal, including just six for the Habs in the first and six in the third. They need to make Lundqvist work much harder than that.

 

 

Let’s Go Habs!

The Rangers have their share of guns. Brad Richards (4 goals, 5 assists), Martin St. Louis (3 goals, 5 assists), and yes indeed, Benoit Pouliot with 3 goals and 5 assists.

There are others as well, including a quiet Rick Nash who has no goals and 5 assists and seems to be one of these guys, like Joe Thornton, who oozes talent but doesn’t have what it takes when things get truly serious.

We need Nash to continue his sleepy ways.

Benoit Pouliot played for the Canadiens in 2009-10 and 2010-11, coming over from Minnesota in a swap for Guillaume Latendresse, and we were excited because he’d been the 4th pick overall in the 2005 Entry Draft. We thought we were getting a big, long-legged, smooth and budding superstar.

Kind of like Max.

Instead he was a huge disappointment who often seemed lazy, often gave the puck away, never seemed to like the rough going, often took truly stupid penalties, and soon he was gone to Boston, then Tampa Bay, and this season New York where, weirdly enough, he’s emerged as one of the Rangers’ big guns.

Pouliot’s going to want to make a big impression in this series. He’s got things to prove. Which makes it all the more beautiful when we shut him down completely.

We also need big Rick Nash to stay quiet. He’s a big talent who’s been snoring while St. Louis, Richards, Pouliot, Brassard, Hagland and others go about their business.

Let’s go Habs. It’s a beautiful time right now. The streets of St. Hubert are alive!

 

Cover Boys

Thursday’s Le Journal de Montreal, with a front page photo of some of the guys when the clock hit zero.

Rene Bourque is thinking “Oh man, I’m a part of this, I’ve helped, and I’m lovin’ it!” Dale Weise is going “whoooo!” because he truly loves the CH, and he knows how proud his dad is right now . Thomas Vanek is thinking “I’m on a team I really love”. Max is saying “She’s done, we did it. Sweet!!”

And the two kids, Michael Bournival and Nathan Beaulieu are saying “Wow, probably the best I’ve ever felt!”

journal

Bye Bye Bruins

Don’t poke the bear? Why, what happens?

I found that statement arrogant and I wanted to shove it down the throat of anyone who said it.

How sweet it is. How sweet that the Montreal Canadiens went into Boston and won game seven and the series. Once again the Canadiens prove to be Boston’s biggest headache.

I love that!

How sweet that with a hard-fought 3-1 win, the Habs send Boston fans home unhappy and the Bruins into summer hibernation.

How sweet that Dale Weise got the game’s first goal, that Max Pacioretty scored his second in two nights, and Daniel Briere notched an assist on Weise’s goal and banked a puck off Zdeno Chara’s skate for the insurance marker.

Thank you Zdeno. You ruined any chance of a comeback. With a little help from Johnny Boychuk, who was penalized in the last few minutes for crosschecking Michael Bournival in the face.

Self destruction, and don’t blame the zebras for ruining the party.

It wasn’t easy for the Canadiens though. Not by a country mile. The Bruins spent far too much time in Montreal’s end, pelting 30 shots at Carey Price while just 18 went Tuukka Rask’s way.

The pressure was on, but Price was once again outstanding, and when a goalie allows just one goal in two pressure-packed playoff games, you know he’s zoned in, and now even more so, the sky really is the limit.

I wonder what Don Cherry is doing, now that the bear got poked not quite the way he was thinking. Put away your Bruins cufflinks and ties, Don. And if you dig deep, maybe you can think of  a couple of nice words to say about the Montreal Canadiens next time you’re on TV. Can you bring yourself to do this, or is it simply impossible?

Brad Marchand? Such a despicable piece of work. We know he’s not exactly a Mensa candidate, but showering Price with snow was truly an idiotic move. And his punching, slashing, chopping, and hacking added up to exactly nothing.

And I don’t know yet what tasteless and classless things Milan Lucic said to Dale Weise during the handshake, but whatever it was, I suppose it’s not all that surprising.

But that’s all I want to say about that team. They’re hibernating and we’re moving on to meet the Rangers to decide best in the east. How cool is that?

This series win was all about hard work and digging deep. About plumbers becoming household names and guys believing. It was about not giving up, giving all they had, and we as fans benefit from having such a character team to cheer for.

We savour this, let it sink in for the next few days, and focus on how the boys match up against Henrik Lundqvist and Marty St. Louis and rest of the Blueshirts.

But right now, our team got it done against a very fine Bruins team, and it’s something to be very proud of.

 

 

 

 

I just can’t say enough about this team right now. Such character throughout. Digging deep, playing with heart and soul, and winning games six and seven