Category Archives: Minnesota Wild

Canadiens Bust Out

Maybe it was Brendan Prust fighting Zenon Konopka in the first period that set things in motion when the team was experiencing another tight-checking, non-scoring and frustrating game.

Or maybe it was simply a couple of great passes from David Desharnais to Max Pacioretty in the second period that set things ablaze.

Whatever it was, the Canadiens, led by Max, finally broke out of a team scoring slump and the boys found the back of the net six times in a huge 6-2 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild that put the Bell Centre folk in a partying mood, creating an atmosphere I’m sure the players wouldn’t mind being a part of again.

Hopefully the team can do something close to this on Friday on their one-game road trip to Washington. Score more than few goals from different players, different lines. If they do, credit the vibes from the Tuesday night home crowd to keeping the adrenaline going. It’s the power of the fan.

Six goals in one night. It was bound to happen at some point, but with the lack of scoring lately – four goals in their previous three games, who knew how long the futility might continue?

Just so much fun for everyone when the boys find their scoring ways. We’ve been teased, so don’t stop now. If you do, we’re pulling out the tar and feathers.

Max Pacioretty broke out in a big way, with three straight goals in the second period to set things in motion. David Desharnais, given second star on the night, fed Max in brilliant fashion, deft touches by DD we’ve seen in previous seasons, and it finally clicked after far too many games of pucks hopping over his stick, passes been deflected, and frequent boos from the not-so-cheap seats.

Brendan Gallagher, playing on the Patches/DD line, might have sparked the performance. Maybe his enthusiasm rubbed off on his linemates. But it was DD’s passes and Max’s conversions that lit the lamp. It makes my heart soar like a F-14D Super Tomcat.

Michael Bournival scored the team’s fourth goal, Daniel Briere made it 5-0 in the third, Alex Galchenyuk made it 6-1, and with just two seconds left in the game, Dany Heatley ruined things slightly with Daniel Briere in the penalty box.

All it took was Max to convert a couple of great passes from DD and the team miraculously steamrolled out of their funk. Just like that.

Next up – Friday, when the boys travel to Washington. More of the same please.

 

New Habs Job Idea

Still waiting by the phone for the stick boy thing. Have also heard nothing about keeping the players’ wives comfortable, being a flag kid, becoming owner, and riding shotgun on the zamboni.

Maybe this will work…

You might have seen the Habs dads on TV when the Canadiens travelled to Minnesota and Colorado recently, and 24CH recently showed a few minutes of them too.

The dads get to go on the road with their sons from time to time, compliments of the Canadiens organization, but alas, sometimes dads can’t go.

Thus…..

I’ll be a fill-in dad for a player whose real dad can’t make it!

I’ve got dad experience. I’ll make sure he gets to the rink on time. I’ll tie up his skates if he wants. And of course after the game I’ll head to the bar so I don’t embarrass him in front of his friends.

Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

Blueshirt Blues

The Canadiens weren’t able to beat a rookie goalie, a kid with just four games under his belt, and found themselves blanked 1-0 by the visiting New York Rangers on a mild Saturday night in Montreal.

Sadly, the beat goes on for so many guys who can’t find the back of the net.

These guys were all scoring stars in midget and junior. Now that they’re big shots, they’ve  forgotten how.

Forget trying to pick corners. Just aim for the goalie’s nuts.

It’s amazing how many lacklustre hands of stone make up this team right now. They should be ashamed of themselves. It was a team that decided to apply pressure with five minutes remaining. The rest of the time, they were practicing for their annual Christmas family skate.

How wrong it is to go through the motions, consistently miss the target, stay clear of the rough going as much as possible, stay away from any effort that involves punishing the enemy, hope someone else will do the dirty work, and also expect to get paid handsomely for it.

Geoff Molson should send them out on the trucks and deliver beer for awhile. See how the real world does things.

The kid between the pipes, Cam Talbot, playing in just his fifth game, must wish all games were like that. No pressure from the guys in red. A shot here, another a few minutes later. Shots from well out. Teammates clearing the path.

I wouldn’t blame him if he decided to phone home and tell mom and dad the NHL’s a piece of cake.

Hands of stone, these 2013-14 Montreal Canadiens. Keep the kids off the scoreboard and you keep the entire team off the scoreboard. Basic strategy for other teams.

Dismal stuff. And fans only got their money’s worth when Carey Price whipped his glove out and snagged a handful of tough shots. Price was on his game. The only one who was.

November has seen these guys win twice in eight games. I wish the World Series was still on.

Random Notes:

Rangers outshot the Canadiens 34-22.

Alexei Emelin threw his weight around a couple of times, including a solid jolt on Chris Kreider. Emelin nailed the big fellow in exactly the same place and in the same way as was his freight train collision with Milan Lucic last April. So at least we know he didn’t become gun shy, the injury didn’t change his game, and he’s fully recovered. And it shows us this rugged D-man is one tough Russian comrade.

Getting more and more tired of seeing Rene Bourque not earning his money. But why single out Bourque? He’s got a lot of company.

Next game is Tuesday when the Minnesota Wild come to town. Will the beat go on?

Friday Night Columbusing

It’s Thursday and still no game. Not until tomorrow night.

So many Friday games this month for the Canadiens. Four in fact. It’s really playing havoc with my pub schedule.

I hope the boys won’t be partying too hard in “The City That is Somewhere in the U.S.”

Canadiens are in Columbus, Ohio, home of Jack Nicklaus, Phil Ochs, and Beverly D’Angelo, located 983 kms (611 miles) southwest of Montreal, not far from Cincinnati one way and Detroit the other.

I know because I did what I had to do – I went to Wikipedia.

No offence to Columbians. Columbusites? Columbusans? Just never been there, although I’m sure it’s fantastic and probably has a river running through it and traffic jams and people who wash windshields at street corners, just like normal cities.

Canadiens need to win their game while in Columbus (pop. 809,798 – 2012). The Blue Jackets aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, sitting third worst in the east with 13 points, ahead of just Florida and Buffalo. Leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky has 5 goals and 10 assists, while Wiz, James Wisniewski (remember him?), is second with 2 goals and 12 assists.

Although they’re in Boston Thursday night so things could change slightly.

I enjoyed Wiz when he was a Hab in 2010-11. He played hard, is a good skater, got himself some points (30 in 43 games), and took a puck in the face and looked like this -

Montreal has won just once in six games in November but they’re hanging in somewhat. But it goes without saying they need to win in Columbus, and then the next night back home against the Rangers.

A couple of wins isn’t asking a lot. And then they need two more after that against the Wild and Caps. And then two more after that maybe.

 

 

 

Habs Dunk Dallas

Great way to close out the October part of the schedule as the Canadiens edge the visiting Dallas Stars 2-1 on goals by Michael Bournival in the first and Rene Bourque in the second and find themselves with a tidy eight wins and five losses, good enough to be way up near the penthouse.

Imagine that. Way up near the top. It’s just so much better than hovering around the eighth and ninth spots.

Pretty proud of the boys right now. They’re finding ways to get it done with key guys on the sidelines. And Carey Price and Peter Budaj are combining to stop ‘em when called upon. Although Price was a tad asleep on Dallas’ lone goal, a shot from far out that might have been screened or might have simply caught Price by surprise.

Whatever it was, our goalie was slow to react.

But it’s nitpicking. Our backstoppers are keeping pucks out of the net in a big way  – one tonight, none on Monday, two from the Sharks, one from Anaheim. Really impressive.

Now the Canadiens take a little trip, first to Minnesota for a Friday night tilt with the Wild, and then to Denver to meet Patrick Roy and his Avalanche on Saturday, which should be fun. The Avs are red hot and need to have cold water poured over their collective heads.

Shots on goal – Dallas 27, Montreal 24.

Great night, lively action, the boys were skating well, and it’s a big two points.

All’s well on the Eastern Conference front.

 

 

 

Leak Says Subban

Puck Daddy reports that Nick Kypreos from Sportsnet has gotten wind of a leak that says P.K.Subban has won the Norris Trophy, beating out worthy foes Ryan Suter and Kris Letang.

As suggested in the article, leaks help to get winners to the award shows. Makes sense to me I guess. It’s the NHL after all.

Of course P.K. deserves it. He was dominant. I think he’ll win it next year too. Even with Erik Karlsson in the mix.

I can’t stay long here. We’ve stopped for the night in Princeton, B.C., and maybe because it’s in the middle of nowhere that the internet was terrible at our $60 motel room. So I’ve brought my laptop to the local pub where I’m having a couple of pints and hoping the battery doesn’t go dead.

What a scenic yet pain in the ass highway from Hope to Princeton. Lots of curves and bends and gravel trucks going ten miles an hour..

There’s a big table beside us of about 20 really old people in town for some sort of convention, and I really wanted to ask them if I could take a picture of them with Gaston but I decided they might not see the humour in it and call the cops.

When I’m that age, I hope to go to conventions too. Just not in Princeton.

Princeton seems nice though. Clean. Although if I was a teenager here, I have a crystal meth habit in no time.

I’d better sign off here while the computer still works. Tomorrow it’s Nelson to see my daughter and Ryan and my four grandkids. My daughter just recently drove out of their driveway and ran over their rottweiler.

Titan is now in rottweiler heaven.

Mr. Campbell Talks Habs, Parity, And Expansion

It’s the Habs in Newark tonight, and it’s anybody’s guess what we’ll see from the gang that sometimes can’t shoot straight.

I’m not even going to try.

One thing is certain, though. The team that went to the Stanley Cup finals last year was the New Jersey Devils, and one year later they’re not even making the playoffs.

Teams can’t remain strong. Players become UFA and are gone to the highest bidder. New Jersey lost Zach Parise because Minnesota came along and threw 98 million over 13 years at him.

Do you like this sort of thing? Do you enjoy the fact that with the way the league is now, it can be Stanley Cup finalists one year, bums the next?

It’s parity at it’s finest. Gary Bettman’s dream. No dynasties. Everyone the same. Here today, gone tomorrow. Yawn.

I’ve talked about this before, and some disagreed and that’s fine. My opinion, which hasn’t changed, is that I think there should be an absolute powerhouse in the mix, a team others yearn to beat, and one which fans come out to see, boo, and hope like hell for a whipping. That’s the way it was for many years with the Canadiens. Everyone wanted to beat them, and it was a feather in anyone’s cap when they did.

Clarence Campbell felt this way too, as you can see in this 1959 interview I found in my trunk, entitled “Canadiens Are Good For Hockey.”

“When the teams are all bunched up and battling for playoff berths the way they have this season, then I’m a happy man. It actually makes it easier for me. They’re so busy doing what they’re doing, and the rewards at stake are so great, they don’t have much time for misdemeanors.”

“Well, with the exception of Montreal, this is the kind of hockey race you must appreciate,” writer Ed Fitkin said.

“It’s a dream,” Campbell agreed, “but when you say ‘with the exception of Montreal,’ the only people who feel that way are the other teams. Actually, my view is that it’s an awful lot better to have a front-running team that will set a standard that everybody else has to shoot at. I’d far rather have one team away out in front than one away out behind.”

Later on in the interview, Campbell discusses the idea of expansion, which has nothing to do with what I was just talking about, but I think is fun regardless, coming from a much simpler time.

“Expansion,” declared Mr. Campbell, “is quite a problem. One of the things you must always keep in mind in connection with hockey is that the ideal league is six teams, combined with our present playoff system. That leaves two teams out of the playoffs but who are, as we always hope, constantly in the running. Now you add to the league, and have just one more team that isn’t going to make it. And the present formula for successful operation in hockey, and this applies to other leagues as well as our own, is that a six-team league is an ideal thing. Now that’s for a start. There are other considerations. And that is, if other cities do develop with the necessary facilities and the interest sufficient to pay what it costs to support a National Hockey League team, then of course they are obviously entitled to consideration, and if any such groups do evolve, we’ll have to do it. That, of course, raises the question of transportation, which is becoming more difficult all the time as far as the operational of the league is concerned. Then it might mean that we’d have to go to the air more.”

Campbell

 

 

 

One Writer’s Trophy Candidates

Because there’s been talk of certain Canadiens possibly grabbing hardware at season’s end, I’ve wondered who else around the league might be in the thick of things in different categories, and how professional writers might view some of the Habs who have a shot.

So it was interesting to see how Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province rates players he says are in the running, with him, and maybe some cohorts at the Province, coming up with some personal picks.

The Hart Trophy (MVP)

Jamieson’s three finalists are Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh), Alex Ovechkin (Washington), and Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim), and he decides on Crosby, although he mentions that Ovechkin is pushing hard.

James Norris Memorial Trophy (top defenceman)

Shea Weber (Nashville), Ryan Suter Minnesota, and P.K. Subban and Jamieson chooses Suter. About Subban, he says P.K. has finally decided to let his play do the talking, and the results confirm he’ll win this trophy soon enough. (just not this year). I disagree. Subban has been brilliant and deserves to win.

Vezina Trophy (top goaltender)

Tuukka Rask (Boston), Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus), and Cory Schneider (Vancouver), and Jamieson apologizes to Canucks fans because he chooses Rask.

Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie)

Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida), and Jonas Brodin (Minnesota) are the three finalists, and although Huberdeau leads rookies in scoring, the writer picks Gallagher, which of course I agree with.

Frank J. Selke (best defensive forward)

Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit), Jonathan Toews (Chicago), David Backes (St. Louis).  The choice is Toews, with his league leading plus-33.

Lady Byng – (sportsmanship/high standard of play)

Datsyuk, Jordan Eberle (Edmonton), and Loui Eriksson (Dallas).  Who wins? Flip a coin, says Jamieson. He then chooses Eberle.

Jack Adams Award (coach of the year)

Joel Quenneville (Chicago), Bruce Boudreau (Anaheim), and Michel Therrien, and Jamieson picks Therrien. He says Anaheim and Montreal have been the season’s surprise teams, and he gives the nod to Therrien for a better storyline – about a guy who’s been frozen out by the NHL since his firing from Pittsburgh in 2009.

From Sixth To Second!

Danno sends over the new NHL.com top 16 rankings, and look at those crazy Canadiens!

Ditto for what they say about Michel Therrien.

Here’s the top five, and the full Super 16 list can be seen by clicking here

RANK TEAM
LAST WEEK COMMENTARY
1 1 Pittsburgh Penguins: When their 15-game win streak started, they were winning high-scoring affairs. Now the Penguins aren’t even letting the other team score. Their last three victories in March were all by shutout and they haven’t allowed a goal in 228 minutes, 24 seconds.
2 6 Montreal Canadiens: Everyone seems to think the Jack Adams Award has already been shipped to Paul MacLean’s home, but what about the job Michel Therrien has done in Montreal? The Habs still have a chance of going from worst to first (or at least second) in the East.
3 4
Minnesota Wild: With Chicago and Anaheim plodding along after hot starts, the Wild have been playing the West’s best hockey for two weeks. They’ve won eight of nine and rallied from down two goals to beat the Kings 4-3 in a shootout Saturday.
4 2 Chicago Blackhawks: Even with their blowout victory in Detroit on Sunday afternoon, the Blackhawks are 5-5-0 since their record-setting start to the season. But the returns of Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp are just around the corner.
5 10 Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks had their six-game winning streak brought to a screeching halt with a 4-0 loss in Edmonton. The Wild have been pushing the Canucks in the Northwest Division, and the banged-up Canucks have responded to the challenge.

Habs Slay Sens

That’s what we need to see next season. A Habs team skating, scoring, and playing tough in the process. A big 5-1 Montreal win over the visiting Senators. A statement made for next fall.

Take that, Ottawa. You got your ass whipped.

Erik Cole set the wheels in motion, scoring the first three goals of the game, a natural hat trick, and he would later come close about six more times. Imagine if he had scored two or three more on all those chances? He’d probably be handed the keys to a Cadillac by some hockey-mad Montreal car dealer. Just a sterling performance by Mr. Cole and a well-deserved first star. (I recently read in my bathroom trivia book that Elvis Presley gave away more than 80 Cadillacs over the years).

And that wild and crazy PK Subban, skating like he was possessed, a whirling dervish, having the time of his life. That’s a kid on a river, playing with pure joy, never tiring. Taking the puck and swooping and swerving and going end to end and getting back quickly to do the job at the other end.

If only he’d hit the net sometimes with that big shot of his.

It was also a feisty affair, beginning with Brad Staubitz and Zenon Konopka flailing away, and it became a steady stream of nastiness, penalties, and players being sent to their rooms. Ryan White was in the middle of most things throughout, and it’s a breath of fresh air to see the Canadiens play a rough, tough type of hockey, not backing down from anyone, sticking up for teammates, and making life miserable for those who come up against them. Opposing players might start calling in sick with the Montreal flu.

When White returned from a lengthy injury and Staubitz was claimed from Minnesota in late February, the look of team was altered in a most profound way. The team went from small and non-threatening, to slightly bigger and a whole lot more threatening. One more tough and talented player and we’d go through the league and roll over teams like Hell’s Angels on a drunken Friday night in Palookaville.

It was fine night for Habs, one of their finest of the season. Something to make us excited about for next year.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Ottawa 38, Habs 32. Carey Price was solid in nets.

Even though we don’t really want the points, it’s kind of fun to play spoiler. And if Ottawa isn’t careful they could find themselves out of the playoffs. They don’t have a spot locked up and Washington could overtake them and Buffalo could catch them.

Next Up – Saturday night when the Canadiens visit the Flyers in Philadelphia. I hope Montreal saved some of that toughness for those Philly bastards.