Category Archives: Minnesota Wild

Bell Number Eight?

Hard to believe that seeing a game at the Bell Centre only ranks number 8 behind Minnesota, Washington, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and New York, but that’s what the Stadium Journey people have decided in their new 2014 rankings.

I was sure there was no better experience than being at the Bell. In fact I’m still sure, regardless of what they say. Number 8 definitely beats Ottawa though, which comes in at a dismal 29th.

Here’s the link with new ratings for all the barns – Stadium Journey Arena Rankings.

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!

 

The Violence Post

Enjoyed very much seeing Pens backstopper Marc-Andre Fleury blow it last night and allow the Columbus Blue Jackets to even the series. Fleury fumbled the puck at the boards near his net, the Jackets grabbed it and tied the game with 22.5 seconds left, and then in overtime Fleury fluffed a long shot from Nick Foligno.

Remember when Fleury and Peter Budaj almost came to blows back on January 22nd? Fleury had this huge grin on his face that cried out to be shut tight with a solid right into grinning mouth, stopping just short of his tonsils and causing him to pick pieces of teeth and throat mucus out of his mashed potatoes for the following month.

Zdeno Chara laughed in the face of Detroit’s Brendan Smith when the two stood toe to toe Sunday night, and how great it would’ve been to see Smith throw a punch and flatten Chara’s nose. Chara is 6’9″, but his nose is only four feet long and possibly made of the same stuff as humans. So it could be breakable.

It would be cool to see an accidental stick land hard between Milan Lucic’s legs tonight. Strictly accidental because I don’t condone violence. But enough to cause Lucic to squeal like a pig for the next three weeks and speak like Cindy Lauper forever after.

A seven-game suspension for Matt Cooke? When he gets back, his Wild teammates and Avs’ Tyson Barrie should meet him at the golf course and one after another practice prostate examinations with their wedge irons. Maybe use wooden-shaft Ben Hogan-endorsed models that might accidentally break halfway up.

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