Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

A Very Impressive Fellow

Last Friday I spent several terrific hours at the home of Jean-Patrice Martel, a renown hockey historian, author, former president of SIHR (Society for International Hockey Research),  contributor to Habs media guides, and a huge Beatles buff.

A truly nice fellow who lives just twenty minutes from me, and who kept me captivated all evening with his varied experiences and his amazing knowledge of hockey.

Jean-Patrice also gave me a copy of his fairly recent collaboration with Swedish hockey historians Carl Giden and Patrick Houda titled “On the Origin of Hockey”, and which I’ll dive into as soon as I finish my Knuckles Nilan book I borrowed from the local library.

I’d like to say thanks to this very impressive man for inviting me into his home.

A May 24, 2014 National Post review of “On the Origin of Hockey” can been seen right here. And if you’re wondering where hockey with skates and sticks originated, Jean-Patrice and the Swedes have traced it all the way back to 18th century England.

On the Origin of Hockey cover - medium.jpg

 

 

Blitzed In Big Apple

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It was like watching a sampling of last year’s Eastern Conference Final between the Habs and Rangers. Habs couldn’t do much, the Rangers could.

The Canadiens just didn’t seem to have their legs, losing 5-0 to a Rangers team that was in control from start to finish. Basically every guy throughout the Canadiens lineup had an off night and need a good solid scolding from their mothers.

Serious pressure on Henrik Lundqvist was basically non-existent. Loosey goosey defence. Glaring mistakes that led to goals, from Alex Galchenyuk swatting the puck towards Dustin Tokarski instead of away from him and which landed on a Ranger stick, to Alexei Emelin getting stripped of the puck by Martin S. Louis, to Tom Gilbert being soft with his man in front of the net, to the forwards and defence letting Rick Nash waltz in alone.

But it’s fine because the nasty stretch has ended, a stretch that began on November 5th and ended on November23rd, 10 games in 19 days, and because the schedule maker has some sort of twisted sense of humour, the boys don’t play again until next Friday, 5 days from now.

But this thing definitely smelled of last year’s playoffs. The Rangers outskated the Habs by a country mile. And last year’s Rangers heros Lundqvist, St. Louis, and Moore were heros on this night too.

Montreal showed almost no attack and it was a fairly easy night for Lundqvist. Except for that fun time when Brandon Prust collided with him and which led to Kevin Klein dropping the gloves with Prust, which led to Prust pounding Klein with a flurry of knuckle sandwiches.

Random Notes:

Rangers outshot Canadiens 34-21, and now the Habs moms are free to party in Manhattan. Look out New York.

Next game – Habs in Buffalo on Friday, and then the two teams are back at it in Montreal on Saturday.

 

 

Sweet Mother’s Night Win

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A 2-0 blanking of the Boston Bruins by the Canadiens with Habs moms whoopin’ and hollerin’ from their seats at Boston’s TD Garden.

How sweet it was. And how the Bruins and their fans must already dread the thought of meeting the Canadiens in the postseason.

Montreal just keeps on beating the Bs (6-4 in October, 5-1 and 2-0 in November), and they’re ready to drop the gloves, as Dale Weise did with Gregory Campbell and I guess Alex Galchenyuk with Torey Krug, although I somehow missed Chucky’s battle in the ring.

They also show they couldn’t care less about the increasingly less-problematic Milan Lucic.

Last night, while sitting with my brother in an Ottawa public place watching the game with the sound down, I remarked that the Canadiens at one point were showing great things on the power play when they had the Bruins completely at their mercy and hemmed in for what seemed an extraordinary stretch.

Then I realized it wasn’t a power play. Montreal was simply dominant for more than two minutes on a five on five situation. Men against boys. It almost didn’t seem fair. Bruins prez Cam Neely had a serious look of concern from his high above perch.

It was going to be a formidable task. Four tough games in short order against the Penguins, Blues, Bruins, and Rangers. But after dropping a 4-0 decision to Pittsburgh, the boys have taken out the Blues and Bruins in fine fashion and the possibility is there that they can emerge with three wins from those four somewhat worrisome contests.

Tops in the league overall with three points more than Tampa Bay. (Boston sits in eleventh place), and looking more and more like a confident bunch who know they can win on any given night and so far haven’t been all that far off from doing so (5 regular season losses and 1 in overtime).

It’s still early, but Habs fans have every right to feel excited as hell about what’s transpiring. I know I am.

Tonight, Madison Square Garden. C’mon boys, give your moms another great night.

 

Canadiens In Boston

Garden

It’s the boys in Boston Saturday night. No problem, as long as Jack Edwards’ nurses are close by.

It’s interesting to note (maybe), that Sergei Samsonov, who never really lived up to his star billing  which included a stint with the Habs in 2006-07 when he collected 9 goals and 17 assists, was originally a Bruin and was traded to Edmonton in 2006 for a couple of players (Marty Reasoner and Yan Stastny), plus a second round draft pick.

That second round draft pick turned out to be Milan Lucic.

That’s the best I can do right now. I’m on my way out the door, headed to Ottawa, and I’m late. If my game recap comes later than usual and you have something to say regarding the pummeling the Habs handed the Bruins, please say it here and I’ll work on what I saw later tonight or tomorrow.

Go Habs!

Back In The Saddle Again

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The day began with Marc Bergevin dealing Hamilton Bulldogs multimillionaire Rene Bourque to Anaheim in exchange for 6’5″, 225 lb. defenceman Bryan Allen, and it ended with the Canadiens looking solid in their 4-1 win over the visiting St. Louis Blues.

The Bourque trade seems a fine move by the GM. Clear out what needed to be cleared out and shore up a less-than-rugged blueline corps while doing so. (Not to mention that Bourque still has another year left on his contract and big Allen doesn’t).

Maybe it’s also symbolic. The players know the fat is being trimmed, it’s a gradual tightening up a quarter way through the season, holes are being filled on defence (with Gonchar and Allen), Jiri Sekac is truly finding his place and giving Eller new life, and it’s onwards and upwards.

And as the important tweaks are made, the Canadiens, on a cold friggin night in Montreal, buried some beauties, while at the other end, Carey Price once again came up huge and allowed his team to get the job done.

After Vlad Tarasenko opened the scoring in the first period when he batted the floating puck past Price, Dale Weise in the second frame, again showing colour and character, intercepted a Kevin Shattenkirk clearing pass from behind the net, hesitated and calmly fired the puck over a sprawling Jake Allen.

Shortly after, P.A. Parenteau sprung Max with a beauty of a pass which Max buried, while in the third frame, Price shone, kept his team in front when called upon, and Max would notch his second of the game on a nice pass from DD, and Lars Eller would light the lamp after some great work from linemates Prust and Sekac.

A tremendous rebound game after being shutout 4-0 on Tuesday by Pittsburgh, with all four lines playing well and the defence, (with the help of Price) holding the fort.

It puts them back on track and looking impressive while doing so, and as Sportsnet’s Jason York said when the game ended, the Canadiens are showing that they are definitely for real and a force to be reckoned with (or words to that affect).

Now it’s a short jaunt down to Boston to meet the Bruins on Saturday night. The Canadiens have won seven of eight, and making it eight of nine in Boston would be a beautiful thing.

A Screeching Halt

canadiangeeelanding

Maybe playing seven games in fourteen days doesn’t help. But the party line is there’s no excuses, so Canadiens lose 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, plain and simple, curtain closed.

They had lots of chances but no red light. Jiri Sekac barged in with the puck several times and came close. Lots of guys came close. But the six game streak couldn’t become seven, and now it’s the St. Louis Blues on Thursday to think about.

I don’t mind a loss here and there. They have to play 82 games and losses happen. But I know you know that, and I don’t know why I’m babbling.

Last year, top dogs Boston and Anaheim each won 54 games, not 82. The Stanley Cup-winning L.A. Kings won 46. These teams lost sometimes. Just like the Habs did tonight against Pittsburgh.

My main concern is that a loss could become two. And then three becomes a possibility. Four even. Other than that, everything’s cool and it could be much worse. We could be Leaf fans and have to compute a 9-2 demolishing by the Nashville Predators tonight.

Time to turn the TV off. Time to get back to my Johnny Cash biography now.

 

Six Appeal

six-pack-beer-belt

Six straight wins for the Canadiens after handing the Red Wings a 4-1 clock puncher at the Joe Louis Arena. It’s a six pack, like my stomach might have been if I hadn’t drank six thousand six packs over the years.

In looking at last year’s Scientific Habs Information Tracking System (S.H.I.T.S.), I can tell you that not once did the 2013-14 team win six straight. Twice they had five in a row, but not six. (Although they did manage 8 out of 9 in late March).

Imagine if they beat Pittsburgh on Tuesday to make it seven! I might buy a six pack!

In Detroit the boys carried on nicely after doubling up the Flyers the night before, getting points once again from a bunch of different guys, and backstopped by the solid-as-can-be Dustin Tokarski.

The power play was shutout 0/4 and that’s fine. They were also outshot 29-19 and that’s fine too. They handled the Wings in fine fashion and I’m not sure what else I can talk about.

Just the somewhat colorless facts I suppose.

It was 0-0 after the first period, although Jiri Sekac had a partial breakaway and Galchenyuk was stopped point blank, and Brandon Prust would finally get the ball rolling in the second when, on a 2 on 1, beat Jimmy Howard on the short side.

P.K. Subban bounced a shot off Wings defenceman Kyle Quincey to  make it 2-0, (Sergei Gonchar rang one off the post on the power play), and in the third, Tomas Plekanec gave his team a 3-0 lead after converting a Brendan Gallagher rebound.

The Wings would eventually beat Toker, but maybe they shouldn’t have. His mask was loose and although he told the nearest referee, play kept going and the Wings scored.

I guess the ref didn’t believe Toker. Maybe he’d been burned before by some unscrupulous non-Hab goalie.

The Canadiens would add one more when Gallagher worked liked a Gallagher behind the net and ultimately banked the puck off Howard and over the line. A fine reward for good old fashioned hard work.

Random Notes:

Point-getters included Gally, Pleky, and P.K. each with a goal and an assist, and Parenteau, Galchenyk, Beaulieu, Max, and Markov all with an assist.

After hosting Pittsburgh on Tuesday, the St. Louis Blues pay a visit on Thursday, then it’s in Boston Saturday and New York Sunday. That’s fine, except then they’re off until the following Friday. But whatever.

 

 

 

Like A Rolling Streak

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The Canadiens would score the game’s first three goals, which is more than unusual, and all three would be power play goals, which is even more unusual. To say the least.

And even thought the Philadelphia Flyers clawed back and made a game of it, the hometown gang ended up doubling the score and skated away with a big 6-3 win to extend their streak to five games.

Love those streaks. And of course we want more. We want six straight, and then seven, and then eight and maybe squeeze out nine or twelve because we’re a greedy bastards.

Greed. One of the seven deadly sins. Only acceptable when we’re talking about Montreal winning streaks. And way better than the other six deadly sins sloth, gluttony, embellishing, gooning, whining, and sucking, like Boston and Toronto.

Two power play goals in the first from Parenteau and DD, and then one from PK in the second, and hopefully now the man advantage woes have been sorted out and they’re off to the races.

A good power play can make a good team a great team if things are going well in most other areas. It’s what’s been missing in Montreal, and judging from this game and the previous Boston tilt, it’s coming around.

The Flyers would narrow it to 3-1 and then 3-2 with just 1:14 left in the second, and after Parenteau had given the boys a two-goal margin when he deflected a Sergei Gonchar shot from the point, the Flyers once again made things dicey when the puck sat within a crease scrum for what seemed like way too long, although the referee could see it the entire time.

It eventually scooted out and was driven home, and it was a 4-3 game and the Flyers had momentum. But Dale Weise, first with a five-hole shot that Ray Emery should’ve had, and then another when the puck bounced in off our man Lafleur Weise, and any thoughts the Flyers had of mounting a final comeback were laid to rest.

This by the guy who just last game had a Gordie Howe hat trick and a Rocket Richard home run, and tonight dropped a fine deuce.

Next it’s a relatively short jaunt on Sunday to Detroit to try and keep the streak going on. They can do it. They’ve got Dale Weise. And Carey Price.

Random Notes:

Philly outshot Montreal 29-28.

Habs point-getters included Plekanec, Gonchar, Max, and Markov with two assists each, Gachenyuk with three assists, Parenteau and Weise with two goals each, DD with a goal and an assist, and PK with a goal.

Brandon Prust  found himself in a decent scrap with Zac Rinaldo. I find it impressive that Rinaldo can make the switch from soccer to hockey like that. Don’t you?

A bit of a quiet night for two guys who’ve been burning it up lately, Eller and Sekac. And that’s fine. Others picked up the slack.

To think it was only six games ago, when Chicago pounded the Canadiens 5-0, that many of us were quite pissed at these guys.

The ole song was being sung in the second period. Hate that song.

 

 

Canadiens Stomp Bruins

weise

Imagine that. The Bruins thumped 6-1 in Toronto and 24 hours later smoked 5-1 by the Canadiens.

Take that, Bruins fans.

The Canadiens looked just fine on this night, a solid three periods led by the guy whose name was mentioned beforehand not for what he might accomplish, but for what Milan Lucic might accomplish.

Dale Weise was a ball of fire, a guy who came to play, and with his fight in the first period with Gregory Campbell, then seeing him tie the score in the second on a penalty shot and setting up Max later on, it all added up to a sensational Gordie Howe hat trick.

But I’ll take it one step further, because after all that, he later on crashed the Bruins net in serious fashion, so I’m gonna call it a Rocket Richard home run.

Very impressive, those crazy Habs, even though, as sure as Bob Dylan won’t be singing opera and not one winning number will be on my lottery ticket, the Canadiens wouldn’t hit the back of the net in the first period and once again fell behind.

They didn’t get down on themselves though. They were dominant for the most part, and the worrisome power play was sharp all night and would eventually click on the fifth try when Jiri Sekac made it 5-1. But I’m  ahead of myself here. Tons of stuff went down.

Max Pacioretty was flying all night, and after not scoring on a last minute, clear cut breakaway in the first period, would light the lamp in the second and again in the third.

Nathan Beaulieu found himself in a fight with Matt Fraser and clocked the Bruin with a right that sent the fellow to the room with a sore face, leaving Beaulieu to add ice to the hand. Fraser had goaded Beaulieu to drop ‘em, and such a mistake it was.

40-year old Sergei Gonchar, after just one practice and playing in his first game with the Habs after coming over from Dallas in the Moen trade, was solid and effective all evening, including on the power play where he showed poise and smarts, otherwise known as experience.

Tomas Plekanec pulled off the coolest little between-the-legs pass to Gally in the crease, but unfortunately it couldn’t be finished off. Looked great though.

Lars Eller notched his third goal in three games with a nifty backhand after great work by Gally. Eller’s a new man.

Pleks had a wide open net on a power play and hit the crossbar. But I think at that point we could all feel a power play goal was only a matter of time and it was.

PK stood up to Lucic after the big thug had levelled Sekac. Luckily nothing developed, but good on PK anyway.

Weise looked like Mike Bossy on the penalty shot goal.

Alexei Emelin bumped and thumped as he likes to do against the Bruins. It’s a beautiful thing when he’s rattling bones. Especially Beantown bones.

Alex Galchenyuk pulled off several very cool moves to once again give us a more hints of what’s in store for years to come.

And Carey Price continues to stop most everything and show once again that when he’s doing his thing, the team always has a chance to win.

Great game, tremendous result. And if you turn your TV or radio down and open the window, that sound you hear are Bruins fans everywhere grinding their teeth and pushing down little old ladies..

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot Boston 34-22 and dominated much of the time.

The power play had a new feel to it. Therrien had two left handed blueliners, Markov and Gonchar, paired up, and two righties, Subban and Gilbert, for most of the five man-advantages.

Near the end, Nathan Beaulieu was rewarded for his fine play over the evening by getting some time on the power play as well. And it wasn’t just the d-men changing the environment. The power play units up front stormed the net, played like they were on a mission, and finally…..finally….Sekac scored after the team’s 28 previous attempts had proved futile.

Next up – Saturday when Philadelphia pays a visit.