Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Weise Ends It

Dale Weise would score at 19:08 of of the first overtime frame to give his and our Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 win and and a nice one-game lead in what should be an outstanding series.

Fast paced, close, tense, some bad blood, and the right team winning. Now that’s hockey!

The Canadiens easily could have lost though, especially after allowing four goals on just fourteen shots. But thanks to some timely goals and Weise pulling the trigger, all’s well in Habsland.

Carey Price wasn’t particularly sharp, but the Canadiens were still able to get it done, even with him being slightly shaky, and the boys on this night outplayed Tampa for most of the first period, much of the second and third, and most of the overtime.

It was one of those nights that whenever play moved into Montreal’s end, the possibility was there that things could go south quickly. And four times it did.

But the Canadiens never let things get out of hand, they scored some timely goals, and that big first game is won by the team that should have and did.

Tampa had opened the scoring in the first period but just nineteen seconds later, Tomas Plekanec wired it home and the teams went to their rooms all even, although Montreal had outshot the Floridians 14-4.

In the second frame, not long after Brendan Gallagher took a puck in the throat from an Alexei Emelin shot from the blueline, Steven Stamkos would notch his first of two on the night and put his team ahead 2-1. Gallagher would return thankfully. But he might not be happy with Emelin.

Back and forth it went, playoff hockey at its finest, fans everywhere on the edge of their seats and couches I’m sure, and in the midst of scrums and battles, Brian Gionta would take a nice pass from Lars Eller and score a big shorthanded marker that caused Luci and I to yell and once again scare the cat that has happened far too often this year.

It’s going to be a long series for the cat.

The Canadiens would take the lead in the third period after Brian Gionta had corralled the puck at his blueline and got it to Lars Eller who danced up the ice and found the back of the net. A beautiful goal, and the Eller, Gionta and Bourque line skated well and created chances all evening. Hell, all the lines skated well I thought.

Sidenote: P.K. Stock said we have one good line and the other three suck. Just so you know.

One of my big dreams is to be rich enough so I could have spare TVs and whenever Stock comes on, I shoot the TV out the way Elvis used to.

Again the pesky Lightning would reply after a turnover, and the way Price was looking in nets, I experienced one of those strong sinking feelings that I’m really not crazy about.

Things would perk up though after Thomas Vanek converted a great pass from David Desharnais, but Steven Stamkos wasn’t through on the night as his second goal would even things at four apiece. The guy’s dangerous. Therrien’s gonna have to come up with a plan to calm this guy down down.

Sadly, Montreal’s power play continues to shoot blanks, and when they were given a power play with just 2:01 left in the third, the chance to win it was there on a silver platter. But again…..

Montreal’s man advantage at this stage of the year is confused and non-threatening. Throw out the power play drills they recently did in practice and come up with some new ones. Ask PJ Stock. Maybe he can help.

Overtime almost ended quickly when Max rang one off the post, and usually after something like that happens, the other teams scores. But Tampa didn’t, Dale Weise did, and at that point, I breathed a sigh of relief and now my heart is soaring like a Tawny-Headed Mountain-Finch.

Game two on Friday. Without sounding like a greedy bastard, another win would be good.

Habs outshot Tampa 44-25 on the night.

It’s Time

Finally it begins, 198 days from that dark October 1st evening when the Canadiens would lose 4-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.

Through highs and lows they took us, from four and five-game winning streaks to three and four-game losing streaks. But they always kept pace, always stayed in the hunt from start to finish.

Up and down we went, and in the end, when the long 82-game regular season finally drew to a close, we found our team finishing fourth in the east, a  fine100-point season to be proud of, with a goalie at the top of his game and a team that slowly but surely created chemistry within its ranks and a new and forceful first line in place.

Tampa’s number one goaltender Ben Bishop won’t start and we don’t know if he’ll even finish. Brandon Prust seems ready to go. The penalty killing has been spectacular. And our goaltender backstopped Team Canada to gold at Sochi and carries on now as the best in the business.

I’m not going to try and dissect the lines and matchups, or who’s dressing and who isn’t. I prefer to see how everything unfolds. Criticism can wait until it’s well-deserved.

For now, for me at least, it’s time to get excited, nervous and more than hopeful, and embrace the Montreal Canadiens as they attempt to give us and themselves what we last saw in 1993.

It’s time once again to bring out Annakin Slayd’s “Feels Like ’93″.

The Barrie Boys

There’s several different storylines in this picture. Have a look and then below I’ll tell you.

Even the Habs are involved!

Barrie

This is the 1964-65 Barrie All-Stars, a team my Orillia team played often.

It was that very year I think, that after Orillia had been eliminated from playoff action, this Barrie team picked up three players from Orillia and I was one of them.

I didn’t do so well but one of their coaches told my buddy Ron Clarke that they were glad they chose him. You bet I’m still insulted.

The coach sitting down on the right side is Paul Meger, who played 212 games in the NHL, all with the Montreal Canadiens, from 1950-51 to 1954-55.

Mr. Meger and his Habs hoisted the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1953 by taking out the Bruins in five games.

That’s his son Gary Meger beside him with the “A” on his sweater.

The player on the far left in the middle row, standing next to a coach or trainer, is Dan Maloney. Dan played 737 games in the NHL with Chicago, L.A., Detroit, and Toronto.

It would be six years from the time this picture was taken to the time Dan played his first NHL game. He was one tough customer and I tried not to upset him when Orillia played Barrie.

He was a great player and leader, even as a kid.

Dan would go on to coach Toronto and Winnipeg in the 1980s when his playing days were over.

The kid in the top row, second from left, is Craig Ortiz, who would move to Orillia in a year or two because his dad opened a car dealership there. Craig and I became great buddies and spent most of our waking hours in the pool hall.

Craig took me down to Barrie once to visit his pal Dan Maloney and the three of us spent the day in the Barrie pool hall.

He and I also hitchhiked to Ottawa when our class went on a school trip. But the trip was only for those who had good marks and that wasn’t us, but we went anyway. The class bus passed us outside Orillia and we ended up beating it to Ottawa.

Not so lucky on the way back, though, and we voluntarily wound up sleeping in the Lindsay jail after asking the cop there if we could.

Maybe not so much for you, but for me this is an awesome picture, full of memories. I’d like to thank Mike Mohun, who I haven’t seen since about grade nine, for sending it to me.

 

It’s Their Own Fault

Tampa won the game they had to win, a 1-0 shootout over Washington, and the Canadiens couldn’t solve a New York Islanders team they should have easily beaten.

Thus, the Canadiens lose home ice advantage.

It’s their own fault. The playoffs are hard enough without handing home ice to the other team but they made their bed. The best thing to do now is win in less than seven so Tampa’s home ice is all for naught.

It’s also very interesting to see how a couple of things play out Tampa Bay-wise.

Will Ben Bishop suit up in the series? And what’s going to happen to Ryan Malone, who was busted early Saturday on a DUI and possession of a gram and a half of cocaine? One would have to think he’s in a heap of trouble.

In 1977 Rangers forward Don Murdoch was busted at the Toronto airport with 4.5 grams of coke and was suspended by the league for an entire season, although it was lifted after 40 games.

If Ryan Malone laces up in the playoffs, it won’t seem right. I’m anxious to hear what happens. Will the league put the hammer down on this? And will they do it right away?

Malone’s also a bit of a dirty player who cold-cocked Chris Campoli back in 2011 (no suspension), and head-hunted Alexei Emelin in a game in 2012 after Emelin had leveled him with an old-time cruncher that was clean as a whistle.

This time around, it’s not an-ice problem. Cocaine and a DUI is a mighty serious combo, terrible for the Lightning and the NHL. The rep takes a hit. Not exactly role model type of stuff for kids to read and hear about.

Bishop on the other hand is a different story. He’s injured but if he’s healthy and plays, that’s fine. But if he doesn’t play, them’s the breaks.

 

Old And New Quebec Barns

We’re back from Quebec City where we had such a fine and outstanding time. A trip we’ll remember with great fondness.

Although when we were leaving Quebec it was minus-1 with snow and two hours south in Montreal it was plus-12 and sunny.

Below, the Colisee, scene of many a Jean Beliveau triumph with the Aces and Guy Lafleur with the Remparts, and the annual International Peewee Tournament held each February where 11 and 12-year olds sometimes play in front of more than 10,000 fans.

And of course the intense and often vicious Habs-Nordiques rivalry that existed from 1979 to ’95.

The unfinished building next door is the New Colisee, or Quebecor Arena, or whatever it’s going to be called, being built for a possible NHL team coming back in the near future. This place will hold 18,482 while the Colisee seats 15,176.

Coliseeue

Gionta Wins It And Team Reaches 100!

No goals through three periods.

Brian Gionta tripped up on a breakaway in overtime by ex-Hab Raphael Diaz, awarded a penalty shot, and comes through to give his team and us a huge 1-0 win.

The regular season is finished, the Canadiens reach a very impressive 100 points, and now the real season begins. The 82 games were only a lengthy warm-up act.

And the boys finished it off in dramatic fashion.

I wasn’t a Gionta backer throughout most of the year. He hasn’t been overly effective in my mind. He’s been a reminder of the smurf days. It seems Josh Gorges has been more of captain material.

But Gionta has come through often in the last while. He’s worked hard, has popped a few, and has shown leadership, which he should, considering he wears the captain’s “C”.

So now I’m proud of Gionta. As the season wound down, he cranked it up. And on Saturday night he was also awarded the important Jacques Beauchamp trophy for being an unheralded key guy on the team.

Luci and I decided against the Irish pub to watch the game because we found another down the street with a giant screen. Again a sensational night in Quebec City where we encountered nothing but friendly folk in an incredibly cool Old Quebec.

I had a bunch of beer, though, so this is what passes for my game post for the final game of the season. Hic.

Shots on goal – Blueshirts 41, Habs 27. Carey Price voted game’s first star.

Tomorrow we cheer for Washington in their game against Tampa Bay.

Great talking to you.

Hic.

Quebec City

We’re in Quebec City and it’s been terrific, with our hotel so perfectly situated we find ourselves only a couple of hundred feet from the Plains of Abraham.

When I was fourteen I spent a month with a French family in St. Hyacinthe on an English-French exchange, and my new friend and I hitchhiked to Quebec City and slept in sleeping bags on the Plains of Abraham. And now I’m back.

It’s Luci’s birthday and she and I celebrated at the greatest restaurant either of us have ever been in, called Parmesan, where joie de vivre reigned supreme, and where the staff was amazing, the food was excellent, and a singer and fellow with an accordion walked around and sang old Italian songs.

It was like being serenaded by Dean Martin and Perry Como.

We never stopped smiling and laughing for the two or three hours we were in Parmesan. Usually being in restaurants is fairly serious business.

We’ve already staked out a nearby Irish pub to watch the Habs-Rangers game tonight, after walking in and an employee showed us around and told us where the best TV viewing is.

And I hope I don’t sound like I’m boasting, but since my teens I’ve been saying exactly what Jacques Plante said in describing the nice time he had in Toronto when he played for the Leafs in the early-1970s:

“Maybe that’s been the trouble in our country; we just don’t get around and meet the neighbours in other provinces.”

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047

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Habs Unreal (In A Bad Way)

Not much to chat about here.

Not after the Habs sucked more than the septic truck that used to come on the Island Sky ferry and suck the gook out of the tanks.

They don’t want home ice advantage and I don’t blame them. It’s an extra night of not having to endure the blaring techno music the Bell Centre pipes out.

The Canadiens played what was basically an AHL team on Thursday night, the New York Islanders with 11 or 12 raw rookies in the lineup, including 3 AHL defensemen. But it didn’t look like it.

The home team couldn’t score even once. They were bottled up all night. They were confused and uninspired and hopefully the wives make them sleep on the couch tonight.

Blanked 2-0 by the Islanders, who played a great game. The Habs played like the septic truck on the ferry.

But I’m not concerned. They were skating well just 24 hours prior in Chicago. And we’ve seen them flat like this before. Not even Didier Pitre knows why.

Random Notes:

Tampa Bay beat the Flyers 4-2, so they’re doing the right things on the verge of the playoffs, as opposed to what the Canadiens are doing.

They’re saving their motivation for next week.

Douglas Murray slammed Johan Sundstrom head first into the boards, got tossed, and a suspension is a distinct possibility, coming just after he sat for three games for an elbow to the head of Tampa’s Michael Kostka on April 1st.

George Parros was in another scrap, and once again it was nothing to write home about. When we got this guy, I thought we were getting a brute. Instead, we got a paler-skinned Georges Laraque with a mustache.

Both Islanders goals came on the power play.

Shots on goal – Islanders 30, Habs 19.

Luci and I are heading to Quebec City for the weekend. Hopefully there’s a good sports bar near our hotel on the edge of the Plains of Abraham to watch the Canadiens smash the Rangers and Max notch his 40th.