A couple of pictures taken at London’s Trafalgar Square, almost exactly 47 years apart.
Late November, 1968. That’s me on the left, with my buddy Robin Metcalfe.
Late November, 2015. (They don’t let pigeons sit on heads anymore).
A few days later he told me what he was up to, which was an offer to buy me a plane ticket to London, England as a late birthday present. Now that’s a brother. And today’s the day we leave.
I’m gonna walk across Abbey Rd. Then there’s those great seats at the hit musical Sunny Afternoon, which is about one of my all-time favourite bands the Kinks. The massive flea market on Portobello Road is gonna be explored I hope. And of course the pubs, because we’ll be thirsty from crossing streets and stuff.
And another thing while I’m on about London – I’ve always felt that the Queen’s chest size has been underrated for years.
I’m going to miss four Habs games though – Monday, when the Canucks visit and take a severe pounding; Thursday, when the Coyotes show up to be slaughtered; Friday, when the Canadiens clobber the Islanders in Brooklyn; and Sunday when those same Islanders come to the Bell for more punishment.
I’ll have my iPad and will see the scores and scorers, but I’ll be so busy there’s no time to talk about these four games. Lots to do in just a week.
Please feel free to mention anything about these games here if you so desire. And when I get back, I’ll show some photos of this short but sweet visit to Swinging London.
One last thing – my thoughts are with Paris. It’s difficult to understand such evil in our world, and although the timing of our trip could be better, I’m traveling without fear. No way are these sorts of threats keeping me from walking across Abbey Rd.
Bye for now. Back soon.
Mike Condon has had a lot of great nights lately. Saturday wasn’t one of them.
Against the visiting Colorado Avalanche, Condon allowed four goals on eleven shots during his two periods of work before being yanked for Dustin Tokarski in the third, who himself let in two more in this 6-1 debacle at the Bell.
And to make matters worse, the Canadiens had plenty of chances and fired 40 shots at Swedish goaltender Reto Berra. But when all was said and done, the Swede was sharp and the Montreal backups played like backups.
It just wasn’t Condon’s night, his first true bummer of an outing, and it began early, after both Jeff Petry and Max Pacioretty blew glorious chances, when Mikhail Grigorenko sneaked one through Condon’s legs just 3:26 into the contest.
With 1:22 left in the first, Petry turned the puck over to Nathan Mackinnon, who fired past Condon, and just 13 seconds later, it was MacKinnon once again, with a backhand that Condon probably should’ve stopped because it seemed he wasn’t set properly.
There we go again. Early and late period goals. It just seems so Wednesday-like, when they lost to Pittsburgh after being scored on 13 seconds into the first period and again with just 44 seconds remaining.
Their opening and closing habits might need a few tweaks.
In the second period, Brendan Gallagher chipped in a Tomas Plekanec pass from behind the net, and hope reigned supreme. For a few minutes at least.
A game to be had, until Andrei Markov, on a Habs power play, told P.K. Subban to grab the puck at the blueline, and P.K. told Markov to grab the puck at the blueline, which led to no one grabbing the puck at the blueline.
Except Blake Comeau, who took advantage of the black comedy and sent the puck through the backstopper’s legs after skating in home free.
This embarrassing and momentum-killing shorthanded goal would see a 4-1 game at that point and spell the end of Condon’s night and his incredible run as saviour while Carey Price is on the mend.
The Markov/Subban lack of communication sequence is not something we want Habs haters to take and run with and plaster all over Facebook pages. Not something we ever want to see again. So let’s never mention it.
At the other end of the rink, Avs goaltender Berra thwarted plenty of splendid home team chances, and good for him I guess. It’ll be something he can tell his grandchildren someday when back in the old country. How, when he was playing overseas in Canada, he stoned the team that seven months later would win the Stanley Cup.
All in all, the Habs should’ve beaten this guy several times. They also shouldn’t have been scored on shorthanded, shouldn’t have had a blueline brain fart, and shouldn’t have had their backup goalie come crashing back to earth after being the talk of the hockey world, and the league’s third star last week.
Condon might have been fine if the boys would’ve cashed in early once or twice. But they didn’t and he wasn’t.
If a backup played like a first stringer all the time, he wouldn’t be a backup. Poor play once in a while is to be expected. Poor play too often means you’re Peter Budaj or Dustin Tokarski or Alex Auld and you don’t have the job anymore.
Now Condon needs to regroup and hang in there just a little bit longer, as Price seems closer to being up and at ’em.
We need a serious regrouping on Monday when the Vancouver Canucks stop by to say hello. And keep in mind, not only is this loss the team’s second straight, but they’ve dropped five of their last nine.
Those nine straight wins were so nice. I miss that.
The Canadiens fall 4-3 in the shootout against the Penguins in Pittsburgh, but that’s fine. They were skating and had their chances, they got a point out of the deal, and their dads, on the father/son road trip, probably still love them anyway.
It was just 13 seconds into the first period when Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis beat Mike Condon, and it goes without saying that a goal right off the bat like that isn’t a good thing. Especially for Condon’s dad, who was seeing his son in the bigs for the very first time.
But Andrei Markov would even things up with blast while on the power play (ranked third overall), and hopefully Markov’s dad was there too to see it.
Sadly though, the Pens would bulge the twine with just 44 seconds left to play in the frame, and the Canadiens went to the room a goal behind.
Tough when you’re scored against in the first and last minutes of the period.
In the second, Max Pacioretty sent Brendan Gallagher into the clear and Gally’s great shot evened things, while later on Brian Flynn fired the puck through Marc-Andre Fleury’s armpits to put the team in front.
Montreal owned things in that middle frame. They had it going, they were skating like the wind, passing the puck around like a first-place team would, and they outshot the home team 13-1 as proof.
All they needed was another goal. But it never came.
Pittsburgh would find their game in the third, eventually tie it, and after no scoring in the 3-on-3 overtime, the Pens, with the help of Sidney Crosby, wrapped it up in the shootout after Galchenyuk and DD didn’t come through.
Looking back, the Canadiens were going good in overtime. They came close several times, and they circled with confidence and moved the puck around in fine style, especially when Galchenyuk, Gallagher, and Markov were on the ice..
Then Tom Gilbert stepped on the ice too soon and the team was called for too many men. Which of course killed any built momentum, and any chance to nail it shut.
Gilbert was also called for holding with 2:17 left in the third period, which wasn’t good either.
An inexcusable penalty to take on a 3-on-3. But like I said, the dads probably still love all of them anyway. Possibly even Gilbert’s dad.
Montreal outshot Pittsburgh 38-34 and went 1/4 on the power play.
P.K. Subban recorded two assists, which hurdles him past John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars for most points (16) by a d-man.
Next up – Saturday, when Patrick Roy and his Colorado Avalanche visit the Bell Centre.
And finally, this great artwork done by Wade Alexander (Darth), of Brendan Gallagher. Gally played a fine game and also took a shot in the foot which saw him leave the game, only to return. (Dale Weise also left after being hit by Ben Lovejoy, but also returned.)
Whew, on both counts.
I don’t have the energy, or interest, to be an advanced stats type of guy.
Or maybe I’m just not smart enough. You should’ve seen my math marks in high school.
But I’ve got the S.H.I.T.S., with an added bonus this year – shots on goal!
As you can see, it’s been a dandy start to the 2015-16 season for Les Canadiens. Although you already know that.
And, as an added bonus…..last year to compare! Wow!
And, as another added bonus…..2013-14, when Peter Budaj was helping out!
There were times throughout when they were far from sharp. Dozey in fact. Definitely brain-dead in places.
But enough about the referees.
Canadiens double up the visiting Bruins 4-2 in a game that should turn more than a few Bruins fans into babbling glue sniffers. Their team had the Habs on the ropes. And then they didn’t.
Funny how that happens sometimes.
Somehow, although outplayed for much of the game, this first place team hung in against a surprisingly tough Boston squad. Tougher than I thought, considering the Bs sit in 19th spot overall with just 13 points, while the Canadiens, from the highest perch, can barely see them with binoculars.
But in the end, when the score was tied and just over a minute left in the third period, David Krejci decided to crosscheck Tomas Plekanec, several times in fact, and while he was cooling his blades in the sinbin after his numbing stupidity, David Desharnais buried the puck and the knife.
Soon after, Max found the empty net, and fans exhaled.
A fine ending to a tense game, and Bruins fans scurry to the local Army Surplus to buy knives to slit their throats.
Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period after the Canadiens were called for a tremendously dubious ‘too many men’ infraction, which was one of several weird refereeing decisions. But because of the final score, I won’t bitch. Except for the first paragraph of course.
The team was stifled constantly. They were bottled up, scrambling, all out of whack. I couldn’t wait for the period to end.
The only fun I had in this 20 minutes was seeing Andrei Markov blast a slapshot into the Bruins bench after taking a tripping call when Colin Miller embellished in fine Brad Marchand style.
No one was hurt on the Bruins bench, which is good I suppose. But it was a great moment. An excellent Markov moment.
Just as the Bruins had scored early in the first on the power play, the Canadiens did the same in the second, when Tomas Plekanec finished off a feed from Brendan Gallagher at 1:09 into the frame.
The Canadiens power play is clicking now. They promised, and I believed.
The Bruins took the lead in the second when Frank Vatrano, from the legendary Vatrano/Gambino mob family and playing in just his first NHL game after the family made the Bruins an offer they couldn’t refuse, notched his first big league goal.
Now we wait for news of a horse’s head found in David Krejci’s hotel bed after he gets home from Crescent St.
A Bruins lead going into the third period, with Boston stifling the boys and simply being the better team, ready to collect two big road points.
The Canadiens were in trouble, and possibly let down emotionally after a Plekanec goal in the the third, which would have tied things up, was ruled no goal because of Gally causing havoc in the crease.
It was a sad time at the old Bell barn. The team getting whupped by the rival Bostonians. Things just weren’t going the right way on this Saturday night.
At 8:58, Lars Eller slipped one through Jonas Gustavsson’s legs and the score was tied in dramatic and surprising fashion.
At 17:57, David Kejci lost his mind and not quite a minute later, DD put his team in front.
And with 17 seconds left, Max found the empty net.
The Bruins and their fans once again hate the Habs more than anyone they’ve ever hated.
Montreal outshot Boston 33-31.
Canadiens went 2/3 on the power play, while Boston was 1/5.
Too many turnovers, loose play, a plethora of icings, too many penalties, and the boys still won.
Next up – Canadiens take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
A little humour to close with. The Leafs allowed a goal with just a second left in Washington, and then lost in the shootout.
I downloaded a free app called Fresh Paint and the picture above is my first stab at it after being confused for several days.
I painted the cross, not the Sens logo of course, plus that little red blob over on the right which was an accident.
I feel the red blob somehow represents Mark Stone, on the outside looking in, currently sitting out a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Detroit’s Landon Ferraro, and who is probably still recovering from his near-death experience when the evil PK Subban tapped him on the wrist last year.
A trooper, that’s what he is.
I’ll bet Landon’s pop Ray Ferraro wouldn’t mind tapping this trooper.
Canadiens fell 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Ottawa Senators, although they carried most of the play and outshot the obnoxious pricks 37-27.
But it wasn’t to be as Max and Tomas Plekanec were caught during the newly installed three on three overtime, leaving Jeff Petry to fend off three oncoming Sens, and that was that. Bam. Kyle Turris ended it just 34 seconds in.
This loss is just the Canadiens third of the season, Michael Condon’s first in his five starts, and the first game to go beyond regulation time for the boys. It’s a loss but not something to lose sleep over. They played well, but Craig Anderson, between the pipes for the Sens, did too.
Now it’s time to focus on the N.Y. Islanders, who check into the Bell on Thursday.
In my world, a loss isn’t a disaster, but another after that is getting there, and another after that sucks to kingdom come.
So we need a win on Thursday to avoid all that.
Dale Weise, with his seventh of the year, scored Montreal’s lone goal. Weise is now tied with Max for goals scored.
Montreal’s power play went 1/3. They also gave up a shorthanded goal to J-G Pageau in the second frame which opened the scoring.
Lars Eller, I felt, played a fine game.
A Habs goal was called back in the first period when referee (and Habs nemesis) Chris Lee ruled that Brendan Gallagher interfered with Anderson in the crease. It was looked at, and the call stood.
I, however, disagree.
Such a fine way to begin November, with a dominate 5-1 win over the visiting, and sometimes belligerent, Winnipeg Jets.
But Dustin Byfuglien and his pals can take solace in knowing they got hammered by the best team in the league, which should make them feel better when they’re out breaking curfew tonight.
Backup goalie Mike Condon, between the pipes for injured Carey Price, allowed just one goal, which means the big fellow has let in just six goals in his first four starts, all wins, which is impressive to say the least.
Also impressive is the Habs scoring a total of 21 goals during these four Condon games.
Adding to the impressiveness – the David Desharnais, Tomas Fleischmann, and Dale Weise line, which tallied seven points in all. This line was flying all game, Fleischmann was on fire, but the team as a whole had their legs moving in fine style.
It’s hard to imagine these guys in another 30 years when they’re fat and can hardly skate.
The Jets, meanwhile, sat quietly on the tarmac, not going anywhere.
And then there was Paul Byron, listed as 5’7″, 153 lbs, playing like the much bigger Henri Richard, listed as 5’7″, 160 lbs.
Byron opened the scoring in the first period when once again, as he had done in Calgary two nights prior, burst in on a shorthanded breakaway to light the lamp. A fine deja vu moment to be sure.
Two goals and an assist for Byron in his three games, while Alex Semin sits in the press box each night now, wondering, drinking coffee, eating hot dogs, and asking Marc Bergevin if he can get him anything.
The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first, which is always such a nice thing, when lefthanded shot David Desharnais burst down the right side the way the Rocket once did, and after being stopped, Tomas Fleischmann banged home his first of the night.
In the second period it would be Fleischmann doing the bursting down the right side, with his shot eluding Jets goaltender Michael Hutchison. The starting goalie would soon be replaced by Ondrej Pavelec after allowing a fourth goal, a DD marker when he barreled in with Fleischmann and Nathan Beaulieu on what was basically a 3 on 1.
Lars Eller would direct the puck off his skate on the power play to widen things to 5-1, and in the third, the lone goal past Condon came from Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn, who looks like the Band’s Richard Manuel, who’s been dead for 29 years.
The 7 points from the DD line included Fleischmann with 2 goals and 1 assist, DD a goal and 2 assists, and Weise 1 assist).
Canadiens outshot Winnipeg 26-19.
The team has now recorded 50 goals in 13 games, an average of 3.84 goals a game. Some serious fire wagon hockey going on with this league-leading team.
Next up – The dastardly Ottawa Senators pay a visit to the Bell on Tuesday.
Much better when the boys win. And on this Halloween Eve, a 6-2 trouncing of the Flames in Calgary makes things right again.
A character win after a couple of embarrassing losses.
A big night for Dale Weise, who netted three in his team’s 6-2 win in Calgary. A fine night for backup goalie Mike Condon, winning his third in three starts this season. And an emotional night for ex-Flame Paul Byron, who inflicted serious damage on the team who said they didn’t love him anymore.
A Habs team back on track, going home without losing that lovin’ feeling. Taking it to the Flames, with a big win to close out October. Ten wins and two losses. Losses we don’t want to talk about.
I’m feeling so good about this rebound win, I can’t decide if my heart soars more like a flock of Fan-Tailed Berrypeckers, or a single Crested Shrike-Tit.
Fifteen minutes in, Weise struck first, with a long shot that Flames goalie Joni Ortiz, who showed absolutely no resemblance to Mike Vernon or Miikka Kiprusoff, let go through his legs.
Joni Ortiz. There’s always Google.
An early lead, but we know how leads can sometimes work out.
In the second frame, the Flames tied it just 27 seconds in, but a couple of minutes later, while on the power play, Nathan Beaulieu’s blast put his team in front once again.
Love those power play goals, and little by little, the team is gaining in power play respectability, sitting tenth or so overall. Much better than 20th or 25th or whatever it was not so long ago.
After the Flames had once again evened things up, the Weise and Byron Show cranked it up.
First with Weise firing a fine wrist shot past Ortiz. Then Bryon, in his second game replacing healthy scratch Alex Semin, sending the puck across in beautiful fashion to set up Devante Smith-Pelly for S-P’s first goal of the season.
And in the third period, Byron breaking free while shorthanded to make it 5-2 before Weise notched his third after some stylish play from linemate Tomas Fleischmann, who’s proving to be a key guy.
A solid 6-2 thumping of the Calgary Flames, although this is a team with just two wins so far this season. Which means if the Habs lost on this night, things would’ve sucked after an already suckified Western Canada jamboree.
But they didn’t suck, they looked just fine, and they remain best of all 30 teams. Already I’ve forgotten about Vancouver and Edmonton.
Flames outshot Montreal 32-31.
Next up – Sunday, when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre.