Category Archives: Michel Therrien

White No Help Whatsoever

If there’s one thing we’ve learned so far this season, it’s that except for a lot of hair, Ryan White doesn’t have a whole lot underneath his helmet.

White helped his team lose in Ottawa four games ago by taking four minutes in penalties, and tonight he helped lose the game in Buffalo by taking four minutes again, this time by retaliating and flailing away after getting bumped on a solid hip check by Steve Ott.

Einstein then watched from the sin bin as Tomas Vanek closed the gap to 4-3, which ultimately led to the Sabres tying it with just two seconds remaining in the third.

Damn. It’s hard to re-live this.

The game then went to overtime, no one scored, but the Sabres ended it by finding the back of the net twice in the shootout.

Three games in the press box after the White display in Ottawa didn’t teach him a thing. How many should it be now, ten? Maybe more. The Canadiens don’t need this immature lack of discipline. For them to win, everything, in all areas, has to be going almost perfectly.

Tomas Plekanec opened the scoring, but the Sabres replied almost immediately. In fact, just 15 seconds later. In the second period, Brendan Gallagher gave his team the lead, which lasted all of 35 seconds before it was tied again. But P.K. Subban, on a 5 on 3 power play, gave the boys the lead once more, and then in the third, Tomas Plekanec buried one on a clear cut breakaway.

It was 4-2 at that point. Things were going swimmingly. Two big points coming up.

Then Ryan White stepped on the ice.

Random Notes:

Yes, Ryan White will sometimes come to the defense of a teammate. Yes, he adds an edge, which can be an important aspect at times. And yes, he can cost his team the game. Or games. This sort of thing can’t continue.

Shots on goal – Buffalo 40, Habs 32.

Peter Budaj was in goal tonight and although he stopped many difficult close-in encounters, he still makes me nervous. I can’t help it.

It’s two games in ten that Budaj has been called upon, and I don’t understand this. Maybe I’m wrong. Who am I to question an NHL coach? But does the number one guy have to rest every five games or so? It’s just my personal opinion, but it would be only around now that I’d even be considering putting the backup guy in for a night. Maybe even several more before I’d give him a start. These points are important. And Price might be the best on the planet right now.

Alex Galchenyuk was the lone Habs marksman in the shootout. Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta couldn’t get it done.

Next game – Leafs in Montreal on Saturday. I’m thinking we won’t be seeing Ryan White.

 

 

24CH English Version Kicks Off Tonight

The English version of 24CH, a behind-the-scenes peek at the Habs, begins tonight on TSN at 8pm et/5pm pt. Tonight’s episode will be an hour long, and throughout the season there will be six more 30-minute episodes.

This should be extremely interesting. Maybe we’ll see some wild and crazy hi-jinks. Maybe Michel Therrien swears like Bruce Boudreau, although having said that, I don’t think anyone swears like Bruce Boudreau. (Remember 24/7?).

This series began in French on RDS last week, and now it’s the English version for those of us who tried to learn the French language and failed miserably. Like me.

Here’s my post from the 24/7 series in 2010 that featured the Penguins and Capitals.
I Want A Habs Version Of 24/7

And here’s some technical stuff from TSN that may be important to you but frankly, I don’t have a clue what this gibberish is.

The series is complemented by 24CH Flash, 48 exclusive highlight clips (one per game day) available through the Montréal Canadiens app for iPhone and Android-powered smartphones. Bell Mobility subscribers can access the 24CH Flash highlight clips 24 hours in advance through the Bell Premiere Zone of the Montréal Canadiens app. Bell Fibe TV subscribers can also access the 24CH Flash highlight clips through the TSN Xtra app and RDS Extra App.

In addition, 24CH Weekly offers fans exclusive video content from the series with videos posted every Saturday on Canadiens.com.

The End Of The Low-Five

Carey Price and P.K. Subban will no longer be doing the post-victory triple-low-five celebrations. The Canadiens now raise their sticks to the fans after wins instead of the individual stuff.

“It’s a team concept,” said  Michel Therrien. “You have to respect the game, the other team and the fans.

I can appreciate that, even though it was kind of funny in a way. I know my wife loved seeing it. Maybe it’s all part of the master plan to have P.K. settle down a little.

A Crashing Halt

The Canadiens had a decent third period, and maybe a goal early to make it 4-2 might have set the wheels in motion, but the goal didn’t happen, and the boys get hammered 5-1 in Ottawa. That’s fine. Maybe a good kick in the ass is healthy sometimes.

Ryan White didn’t help matters by taking two minutes for roughing and two more for mouthing off to the referee in the second period when the scored was tied at one. Because of his silly lack of discipline, the Sens suddenly led 3-1 and the game for all intents and purposes was over. This type of avoidable stuff can set in motion all kinds of nasty stuff, beginning with a loss, which could lead to another loss or three, and all of a sudden a team going good becomes a team going bad.

Sport can be a fragile thing, and blowing a fuse at the official is never the smartest thing to do. The guy in stripes always wins, and White needs to put on a dunce cap and go stand in the corner.

Lars Eller went from the first line to the fourth, than back to the first, then enjoyed power play time. Was he being punished, then rewarded? Will he be on the trading block soon? Is his job secure? Hey Danno, ask that eight ball, will ya?

This was only game six. Did Michel Therrien feel Carey Price was tired? I think the coach should have gone with Price in the hopes that the winning streak could continue. Why tamper with momentum? But Peter Budaj was in nets, and you can say he was fine and the team was fairly bad, but the bottom line was five goals going in. I think I would’ve waited at least several more games before I rested our number one guy. This isn’t a forty-year old Johnny Bower we’re talking about here.

At least the Canadiens continued their power play ways, although it was just one, a Tomas Plekanec marker helped by Andrei Markov and Raphael Diaz. This goal was the opener, and at that point, all was right in the universe. Then the universe exploded.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Ottawa 32-27.

The G-Force kids were mostly a non-factor all evening. I guess they can’t be expected to rise us out of our seats every night. Okay, we expect it. It’s just not going to happen, that’s all.

Erik Cole and David Desharnais really need Max back. The three compliment each other, at least they did last year, and with Max gone for awhile, it’s not the same. Cole has created some dangerous moments, but Desharnais has been mediocre at best. The good thing is, we know he can play better. So we wait.

Next up – Saturday at the Bell, when the Buffalo Sabres provide the opposition.

 

 

 

Habs Skin Cats

What a difference two days make. Flat and uninspired against Toronto, and full of life against the Florida Panthers. I think we should just write off the Leafs game, forget it never happened, and focus on what an exciting team the Canadiens can be when they’re playing well. The problem is, we know how the Canadiens can screw with our minds, so I guess we take it game by game.

For now though, life is good.

Maybe it was Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk bringing a youthful enthusiasm into the mix. The two kids, playing with feisty Brandon Prust, showed jump and spark, and lo and behold, Galchenyuk scored his first NHL goal, a deflection from a Prust shot, and the roof nearly came off the Bell Centre. What a glorious moment. What a sight to see this happen to a young fellow we hope will blossom into a huge star. He’ll remember his goal, and we should too. Hopefully it’s the first of a whole bunch.

Galchenyuk’s goal also meant it was Gallagher’s first point in the bigs, and linemate Prust’s first point as a Hab. So which one buys the beer tonight?

But it wasn’t just the kids and Prust reporting for work. It was Andre Markov blasting home two power play goals and Tomas Plekanec scoring an early first period marker from Brian Gionta to get things rolling. In fact, the entire team seemed alive and well and ready to make up for their dismal opening night display. Even seeing an animated Michel Therrien was a breath of fresh air after Jacques Martin’s stoneface and Randy Cunneyworth’s humanity towards his fellow man were what we had become accustomed to these last few years.

It was also Carey Price once again playing solidly and confident . If Price can continue all the way through like he has in the first two games, Montreal can get lots done. Good teams have good goalies, as we all know.

With Lars Eller and Michael Blunden sitting things out, the lines were the Desharnais trio, Plekanec with Bourque and Gionta, the kids and Prust, and Ryan White between Moen and Armstrong. All four combos showed up, got their noses dirty, and skated hard. But somehow, a spot needs to open for Eller at least, and we’ll see how this plays out.

The sky was falling two days ago and now it’s not. Funny how that happens.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – 33-28 Habs.

Next up – Thursday in Washington. The Caps lost tonight to Winnipeg 4-2 and it would be fun to keep their slump going. Nothing like disappointing the home crowd.

Every win is a good win, but it’s even better when the Habs can do it without Subban. With Markov blasting away tonight, it shows that PK isn’t the only one who can send howitzers to the net.

 

 

Habs Fall Flat

It was going so well too. The crowd was pumped and happy. There was a friendly, robust cheer for new coach Michel Therrien. The torch was passed from past captains, from Yvan Cournoyer to the Pocket, from Vincent Damphousse to Serge Savard, and then Jean Beliveau handed it to present-day captain Brian Gionta.

The torch then made its way from player to player, Alex Galchenyuk heard a nice welcome from the faithful, as did Francis Bouillon and the others. It was all very nice, because that’s what happens in Montreal – nice pre-game ceremonies. If these things won Stanley Cups, the Montreal Canadiens would never lose. Every year the bleu, blanc et rouge would hoist the hardware. It’d be a hundred in a row.

Unfortunately, once the puck was dropped on this Hockey Night in Canada affair at the Bell Centre, the Habs couldn’t get untracked. The torch thing had worn them out, I suppose.

Brandon Prust scrapped with the Leafs Mike Brown, and did a fine job. But more sandpaper is required from Prust, not just the odd fight. We’d need him to be a menace to society from start to finish.

Carey Price was good in goal, and if the Habs had decided to show some zip and pressure in the first two periods, Price might have racked up a well-earned win. But the boys in front of him were flat as a pancake, and all it does is be a reminder of days gone by.

Young Alex Galchenyuk, in his first game in the bigs, had several shots on goal, but he has to remember, these aren’t junior goalies. His wrist shots from thirty feet out will be stopped pretty well every time.

The third period was slightly better. The Canadiens showed some jump, had some chances, and finally Brian Gionta found the back of the Leafs net to close the gap to one and wake the nodding crowd up somewhat. But it wasn’t enough as the Leafs held on to claim bragging rights, at least until the next time these two meet, on Feb. 9.

Montreal’s special teams leaved a lot to be desired. The Leafs scored both of their goals on power plays, while the Canadiens went one for five on their chances. But worse than the power plays, for most of the night they didn’t storm the net and cause havoc and commotion, or show much of anything. It was like a team of Scott Gomez’ out there. And P.K. Subban was certainly missed for his passion, his fire, his shot, his skating, and his larger-than-life presence. This guy has to get signed.

Habs bow to the Leafs. I miss the lockout.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – 26-22 Leafs.

The Desharnais, Pacioretty, Cole line has seen better nights. They were a B in my book, when we need an A every night. There’s only 47 games left for goodness sakes.

Alexei Emelin has picked up where he left off last year, with good, clean, bone-crunching hits that makes people keep their heads up. Emelin was a bright light in a dark and less-than-stormy opening night.

Just a dismal start. Hopefully the Canadiens can show some jump on Tuesday when Alex Kovalev and the Florida Panthers come a-callin’. They showed some in the third on this night, and maybe they liked how it felt.

 

 

 

 

Gomez Musings

What’s really sad is that I’ll never get a chance to use my Scott Gomez/Al Capone look alike joke again. (Photo by Al Catraz)

Gomez Alcatraz

I’ve liked Marc Bergevin since he was first hired by the Canadiens, but now I think he’s the greatest guy who ever lived. I want to buy him drinks and lobby to get him the Order of Canada.

He decided to rid us of the Scott Gomez piano on our back.

I’d also like to thank the Molson boys for agreeing to wear the money lost on this. Your wallet will soon be thinner, but the warm and fuzzy feelings coming from fans is so thick you can’t imagine. That has to be a decent tradeoff, don’t you think?

No more Gomez. How am I gonna get used to that? It’s asking a lot.

I don’t care what anyone will say now about how he was a good guy in the room, loved by reporters and by proud Alaskans. I can hear this all day long and it won’t matter. It never mattered. George W. Bush could be a lovely fellow too.

Gomez didn’t help his team. I ended up cringing at the sight of him in a Montreal Canadiens uniform. Sometimes it would throw me off for an entire game, even those odd times when the team was playing well. I’d be enjoying myself, and then Gomez would jump on the ice.

He never seemed to me to be a true Montreal Canadien, if that makes sense. In my eyes he didn’t belong. He played soft, even when he was spitting in a dangerous manner. He grinned at opponents much bigger than him as if to say he wasn’t at all scared by them, even though he wouldn’t go closer than three feet.

He went a year without one goal. What the hell is that?

He had sort of a decent shot but not a great one, and most times the puck sailed over the net. He tapped opposing goalies on the pads after they made a good save, which never sat well with me. The goalie prevented a Montreal goal and Gomez would congratulate him? It was like he needed players from other teams to like him. He sometimes talked and kidded with opposing centremen when they were about to take faceoffs. I wished he wouldn’t. I prefer the intense, hate-filled look.

He was the Sally Field of hockey. “You like me, you really like me!”

Recent coaches had to play him not only because he had a whopping contract, but also because there was no one else. Much better centremen like David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller, who actually worked hard and got a few things done, would sometimes get tired and go to the bench. That’s where Gomez came in. He was next in line.

Randy Cunneyworth and Jacques Martin both gave him far too much ice time and surely not enough grief. They played him like he was effective. They were also both fired. Not for that, but anyway.

Michel Therrien must be feeling good about this turn of events. One less reason to blow his top. Although there will be many other reasons.

We won’t have Mr. Gomez to kick around anymore, but we carry on. In this winter of discontent, it feels right now like the Summer of Love.

 

The BIG Story Of 2012

There goes 2012. Maybe it’s a good thing.

The Habs were disturbingly mediocre in 2012, finishing 15/15 in the Eastern Division, one point behind 14th place Islanders and two behind the Leafs. I still feel nauseous.

Along the way, Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitysn were shipped to Nashville and I miss Hal. The other guy – not so much. Mike Cammalleri was given a one-way ticket to Calgary after saying publicly that his team was quite pitiful, and that was all well and good except for the fact that the Canadiens got Rene Bourque in return. We’re still not sure if Bourque is dead or alive or just really stoned on valium.

Habs’ brass Pierre Gauthier and Bob Gainey were dismissed after doing quite a lousy job for way too long, and interim coach Randy Cunneyworth and assistant Randy Ladouceur were let go when the season ended, with Michel Therrien announced later on as Cunneyworth’s replacement. It wouldn’t have mattered if Cunneyworth learned to speak French without a trace of an accent. He was on his way out and he and everyone else knew it. Finishing in the basement didn’t help matters either.

Alex Galchenyuk was chosen third overall by the Habs in the 2012 entry draft, thus allowing us to dream that the young fellow will blossom into a Guy Lafleur-type superstar. If we’re going to dream, we might as well dream big, don’t you think?

The Summer Olympics took place in London and I’m still regretting not training to be a gymnast for these games. Judging by the more than 150,000 condoms that organizers gave out to athletes, it seems like I missed an excellent party. And September of 2012 marked the 45th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series, a series which catapulted Paul Henderson from normal, everyday NHL player to monumental icon, and a series which allows me tell everyone how I was a bartender in Sudbury at the time.

And of course 2012 saw the L.A. Kings win the Stanley Cup, once again the Vancouver Canucks collapsed when it counted, a lockout began, and the world didn’t end like it was supposed to.

But none of this can match the BIG story of the year. The story destined to become a movie, a story to tell grandkids and at parties and around the supper table for years to come.

February 9, 2012. The night, while playing against the New York Islanders, when Scott Gomez scored a goal.

It was a mighty feat, his first in more than a year, and it was the winner to boot in the Habs’ 4-2 decision over the Isles. The puck came out to him and although it seems impossible, he shot it right into the net. He did. It’s in the video below if you don’t believe me.

Yes, the biggest story of 2012. Can it get any better than that?

Oh, and Happy New Year. May great things happen to you over the next 12 months.

New Kid On The Block

The Canadiens have hired former player Gerard Gallant as assistant coach Gallant Joins Habs, and another piece falls into place. Whether or not it’s a good piece remains to be seen.

But it’s another in an important line of change, a restructuring of vast proportions. New GM, new assistant GM, new director of player personnel, new coach, new assistant coach, hopefully a new stick boy. With more to come. Pretty soon we won’t recognize anybody. Is Gomez gone yet?

The hiring of Michel Therrien as head coach seems to be the one area where folks are blowing their tops. The majority hate the idea. A guy I work with said to me the other day that surely I can’t be happy with Therrien coming back, that he’s an incompetent hothead. 66% of voters at the Hockey Inside/Out poll said it was a terrible move. Marc Bergevin, who hired Therrien, has been slammed as a guy we first liked and respected and were thrilled to have, and now we see he’s a bum. I don’t think like this though. I’m waiting at least four games before I bitch about anybody.

Of course, if the Canadiens look great and jump out of the gate when the season kicks off, things will be fine and there will be an urgent need to find someone else to kick in the gonads. But if the team falters and slumps, that’s not thunder you hear, it’s a chorus of 66% of poll voters yelling “I told you so,” who knew all along and proved one thing – that Toe Blake was wrong when he said predictions are for gypsies.

Gerard Gallant doesn’t speak French and that might be slammed around for awhile. I’m sure the French media have their guns cocked, ready to aim and fire. Kirk Muller didn’t speak the language either as an assistant coach and was tabbed as the second coming, and most everyone it seemed, wanted Muller to move up to the head job.

He’s still talked about as what could could have been, as the the most brilliant bench boss material to come down the pipes since Scotty Bowman. But the Carolina Hurricanes, with Muller behind the bench, finished 12th of 15 teams in the east, just four points ahead of the Canadiens, and we’ll see if good old Kirk has the magic touch next season. I hope he does. I hope his team ends up just below the Habs.

I’ll be on the front lines in calling for Therrien to be fired if the team blows a tire and becomes as sad or almost as sad as last year’s edition. But for now I’m content with the decision to bring this guy back, and any other moves the team makes. I was at the point where anybody could have been brought in, a peewee coach from Chicoutimi or Rene Levesque’s illegitimate love child, it wouldn’t have mattered, because what we had wasn’t exactly working, which is an understatement, don’t you think?