Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Sean’s Fine Piece

This story –  Canadiens Extend Series, is written by my friend Sean Farrell, who, when he’s not covering the Habs for Canadiens.com and NHL.com, works at Classic Auctions near Montreal, where I also worked before moving back to the West Coast.

Sean and I did the exact same job – we wrote descriptions of rare and unique hockey items for the auction catalogues.

During our big company hockey game a couple of winters ago, Sean tended goal and I was a smallish-yet-shifty forward on the team that won the game and in doing so, we got a day off with pay. It was a beautiful moment.

Sean also spent a season a few years back covering the Ottawa Senators for NHL.com, but is back where he belongs, taking care of Habs business.

 

Happy Mom’s Day

mom

I lost my mom to stomach cancer back in 1978 when I was 27. She got what she thought was the flu, and four months later she was dead. It took me more than 30 years before I could work up the guts to visit her grave.

My mom was the typical 1950s and ’60s stay-at-home mom who baked cookies and cakes that were ready when we got home from school. She helped me write fan letters to the Rocket and other Montreal Canadien players, and her and I would often listen boxing matches on the radio at the kitchen table, including fights that featured a young fellow named Cassius Clay.

And together, one morning before school, we heard the Orillia announcer mention for the first time a brand new group from Liverpool.

She made sure there were always lots of Christmas presents under the tree, presents that were bought on department store credit that my dad had no idea about until after she died. And my dad, who’s also gone now, once told me about the time when I was very young and as we drove by the arena, I said “Hey, there’s the fucking arena!” My mom was very understanding and gentle as she explained to me about the bad word.

It was the only time I ever swore in front of my parents, and they never saw me smoke either as I grew into my teens and early adulthood.

She went to my hockey and baseball games, listened politely when I played her my new Bob Dylan albums, she liked my long hair and weird clothes, and she understood more than anyone about my restless feet. My friends loved her and she loved them, especially if they made her laugh.

This was a lady who didn’t have a problem with the wild 1960s, even though she was born in 1924 and grew up in a much different world. I was very proud of her.

If your mom is still alive and you love her, maybe you should tell her so. I’d give anything to say it now to my mom.

Still Alive After Game Five!

The Montreal Canadiens are alive and well and clawing back after edging Tampa Bay 2-1 win in a game five thriller at a noisy and electric Bell Centre.

Now it’s back to the Sunshine State for a Tuesday night showdown, with the Habs feeling good and finding momentum, and the Lightning slightly on their heels and wondering how they squandered a 3-0 series lead and now could be screwed.

If you have to work Tuesday evening, quit. If you’re getting married that night, don’t. If your baby is due around game time, have it at home in front of the TV.

What a great game this Saturday night affair in Montreal was, wild and wooly, with the Habs grabbing the lead nine minutes into the first period when Devante Smith-Pelly’s wrist shot rang off the crossbar and in doing so, took the all-important lead and gave us big time hope.

Exciting and wondrous, and my pulse raced and my heart skipped several beats. Quivering sensations ran up and down my body. Just really nice camera shots of Angela Price.

The team had been a tad outmatched in the beginning, but Smith-Pelly’s goal reversed the flow. After that, the boys looked much better, their power play, although not scoring, was impressive as they moved the puck around, and the period also saw three pucks banged off posts behind and around Ben Bishop.

In final frame the Bolts pushed hard and were rewarded with a Steven Stamkos goal, and I’m assuming that Habs fans who bite their fingernails chewed hard. For me, because I don’t bite my nails, I gnawed on my arms.

As nerve-wracking as can be, but with the clock winding down, PA Parenteau took a PK Subban pass and just as Smith-Pelly had done in the first period, rang the puck off the crossbar and into the netting. The home team held on, we breathed a big and happy sigh of relief, and I wrapped my arms with towels to stop the bleeding.

Can they do it again and then again after that? Of course they can, because momentum has swung, the guys can taste and feel it, they’re playing well now and the power play seems on the verge. The Lightning also know they’ve been outmatched often in the series.

But the Canadiens have to play another beauty on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday. They can do it. Everybody knows it now.

Carey Price has been as cool as a cucumber of course, and was brilliant, especially when he robbed Val Flippula with a glove save when Tampa was pushing early in the third. Price did his job and the gang in front of him went about their business and got it done. And it was only just a few days ago that I decided that I hated hockey.

Ben Bishop was good too, although high shots seem to trouble him, he’s a bit of a complainer, and in heavy traffic he goes down more than Linda Lovelace. Maybe a few more high shots past him and we’ll see that lousy Russian guy between the pipes again!

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot the visitors 29-25, and although they once again went 0 for 3 on the power, they looked great with the man advantage, especially with Jeff Petry quarterbacking from the blueline. They controlled things in slick fashion and came within a whisker of scoring several times.

They also stayed out of the penalty box all evening.

Tuesday, and remember – don’t work that night, don’t get married, and if you have a baby, have it in the TV room.

 

 

Boys Bomb Bolts

Such a character win by the Canadiens. I’m prouder than a peacock.

They’ve could’ve folded the tent after that murderous last-second goal in game three, but instead, they game out flying, got that first goal early, then another and another, and the series now shifts back to Montreal after the gang that couldn’t shoot straight took out the cocky Lightning with a tremendous 6-2 shellacking.

It was interesting to see one of the Tampa players in the corridor minutes before the game, shown during the first intermission, singing and having a grand old time. Sing some more, buddy. Maybe the blues? Maybe a hurtin’ tune?

Finally the breaks went the Canadiens way. Pucks that stayed out before went in this time. Ben Bishop was chased after the third goal and his replacement, Andrei Vasilevsky, was fairly lousy. Fans left early to water their palm tress.

Heck, Montreal even managed a power play goal, which in itself, is a mind blower of epic proportions. And Max’s shorthanded marker left me hanging from the chandelier.

Two goals in the first period, beginning with Andrei Markov converting a PK setup from a slightly difficult angle.

Next was Max’s shorty, and in the second period, Bishop was yanked after gloving a DD slapshot but then losing it. Craig Simpson on HNIC disagreed with coach Jon Cooper’s decision to switch goalies, but it worked for me.

The score became a juicy 4-0 when Jeff Petry, on the power play, finished it off after PK and Chucky and the gang threw it around in fine style, and just 15 seconds later, Brendan Gallagher let go a blast from the right side that Vasilevsky is still looking for.

It was good, real good, although Tampa would beat Carey Price twice after the 5-0 score was built, with their second just 17 seconds into the third. The Lightning weren’t going to pot three more, no way, but I was nervous anyway.

Brandon Prust converted Lars Eller’s rebound in the third period, the Bolts were officially fried, and it’s back to the Bell for a rousing game five and another one shift, one game at a time deal.

Random Notes:

Canadiens once again handily outshot Tampa, this time 40-24. Last night it was 31-19. And people say the Lightning are the better team?

I saw the game in a somewhat different place with a bunch of distractions that included that call from producers telling me I’m a “World’s Most Handsome Man” finalist. Pissed me off. So did that photo shoot with the Playboy bunnies during the second intermission.

But I still saw the game. I just wish these people would leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

Not Much To Say

I’ll be a man of few words here. I need to get to the local drug dealer and stock up. Without him I’m not able to face reality.

It seemed like only yesterday when the Canadiens were making us excited and hopeful. And then the playoffs started.

They played a fine game and should’ve won the thing, but they couldn’t beat Ben Bishop (aside from Brendan Gallagher’s third period marker), there wasn’t a break to be had as pucks came oh so close, some hit posts, the big bastard stopped 30 shots, and all in all, Montreal could’ve racked up four or five goals if even a bit of luck was on their side.

Tampa even went 16 minutes in the second period without recording one measly shot on Carey Price. And they still won.

The home team made it 2-1 with just over a second remaining in the third period, and things are grimmer than grim for the team everyone hates except 10 million of us worldwide. And now they’re down 3-0 in the series.

Just over a second left. Where’s that drug dealer?

The Canadiens haven’t bested the Bolts even once this year (8 games), and it could all come to a crashing halt on Thursday night.

Unless they play like they did tonight and things go their way for a change.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Lightning 31-19 and were 0 for 2 on the power play.

Up Against The Brotherhood?

Former referee Kerry Fraser says that after the Brandon Prust/Brad Watson dustup, the Canadiens will be in tough against not only Tampa, but the zebras as well – Refs Will Punish.

Officials are a brotherhood and they don’t like being shown up, is what Fraser more or less said as he backed off from his hairspray for a few seconds.

What happened to the idea that officials simply make the right call, regardless of the team? That’s what it’s supposed to be, but now they’re going to let things slide in favour of the Lightning?

Is this professional? Are the officials going to have a say in how this series plays out because Brad Watson isn’t crazy about Brandon Prust? What kind of third world sport are we dealing with here?

Not to excuse Prust or his teammates. They were all pathetic in game 2 and deserved to lose, although they were still in the game until PK was sent to the box near the end of the first period for a needless crosscheck and Tampa scored with just 24 seconds left to grab the lead and the momentum.

The Habs can’t score, and their special teams are the opposite of special. Can’t put ’em in and can’t keep ’em out. They were horrible in game two.  It was embarrassing. And I’m worried about Maripier Morin and how she’s holding up.

But if they come out in game 3 and play a great game but get shanked by the referees and lose a heartbreaker because of the striped brotherhood’s ‘all for one, one for all’ mentality,  after Fraser said what he said, do you think the league might call a few of the culprits up on the carpet and maybe change the way things are done? Or maybe not?

Habs haters are all over this. We’re a whiny bunch and getting what we deserve, they say as they scratch themselves and smash empty beer cans against their head. And if the Canadiens lose because the officials decided such, they’ll laugh and carry on and scratch and smash beer cans, until it happens to their team. Then they’ll cry that life isn’t fair and it’s only the Montreal Canadiens that get the sweet calls.

And one last thing before I sign off and cut the lawn. At least Prust showed fire, unlike so many others.

 

 

Unimpressive Habs

What’s the opposite of smart? The Canadiens in game two.

Blown out 6-2 by the Tampa Bay Lightning, due to a plethora of penalties on a night when the penalty killers couldn’t get the job done and the team as a whole enjoying a nice little Bell Centre sleepover.

The team wasn’t good enough, not by a long shot. 6-2. What the %#*&^ is that?

Penalties killed them, with the boys, led by Brandon Prust, in the box for 53 minutes compared to Tampa’s 13. The Lightning went  4 for 8 with the extra man, while the Canadiens offered up their usual 0 for 3.

And of course, good old Chris Lee was one of the zebras, chosen by the league to work the game (along with Brad Watson). When a referee has a reputation for being a dickhead when working Habs games, why isn’t he assigned another series instead? Wouldn’t it be the thing to do?

I’ll bet Lee’s dad hated the Habs. But regardless, it was mostly Montreal players shooting themselves in the foot all night and not so much anything else.

It had started out well, though, with Jeff Petry sending a wrist shot from the point that beat Ben Bishop and which gave the Habs something as rare as a power play goal – the first goal of the game and an early lead.

Later on, Torrey Mitchell had a great shorthanded chance that might have boosted momentum and made us giddy now instead of the opposite, but it didn’t happen of course. Nothing really happened.

Everything just caved in, beginning when Brandon Prust was given two minutes for roughing and then two for unsportsmanlike conduct for trying, unsuccessfully, to goad Braydon Coburn.

And although the Canadiens killed off the four minutes in impressive style, just seconds later, PK Subban felt the need to do some mindless crosschecking and was promptly sent off, and during PK’s stay in the sinbin, the Lightning quieted the Bell Centre and sent us scurrying to the liquor cabinet by taking the lead with just 24 seconds remaining in the period.

Fast forward to the second period and Steven Stamkos in alone and deking out Carey Price with the greatest of ease, a couple of Lightning power play goals with Gilbert in the box and then Petry, and move on to the third where the Lightning scored once again on the PP to make it 5-1.

Wedged in was a Tom Gilbert goal from the blueline to make it 5-2 before the Lightning added another.

Two goals for the Habs, both from blueliners not known for their goal scoring, while the marksmen up front accomplished nothing. In fact, only Max, in game one, has been able to bulge the twine other than Petry and Gilbert.

It’s tremendously pathetic and discouraging. How do you win playoff games when the boys are on an extended coffee break?

It was also only Habs in the penalty box in the third period to add to the misery, when discipline was needed the most and what obviously didn’t happen. But it was a 4-1 game when the puck was dropped for the third period, so I suppose the game was basically over anyway.

Mitchell for interference on the goalie, Weise a 10 minute misconduct, Mitchell for face-off violation when he grabbed the puck, and Prust for a whack of things including ten minute and game misconducts after tussling with Coburn and throwing an elbow pad into the Lightning bench.

Nutty stuff. Undisciplined and unacceptable, and not the way to be successful in the playoffs. Everybody knows this. But somehow, the Canadiens, in this game two, forgot.

I’ve always loved a feisty team. I’m just not crazy about a dumb team.

Game three on Wednesday night. Another showing like this and we’re screwed. But unless we go down three games to none I’m staying positive. It’s in my blood. Sort of.

 

 

Opener Goes To Tampa

Hockey puck crossing red goal line. Close view

A game of thrills and spills, of hit posts and pucks near goal lines, of guys skating like the wind and bumping and creating fine chances  in a tough, hard-fought affair. All in all, a fine game one.

Except the Canadiens lost 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s a heartbreaker but not disheartening, because Montreal, for the most part, looked just fine, and there’s no reason not to think that the series is for the taking.

For me, one of the better games the Habs have played all season, aside from the fact that most of the guys seem to have forgotten how to score.

My advice, from a guy who was a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers midgets? Shoot the puck at the net. And sometimes ring one off Bishop’s face mask for good measure, like what happened tonight. More of that would be good.

I also liked seeing the game go into the second overtime period. The Lightning had just come off a hard-fought seven-game series against Detroit that ended just two days prior, and fatigue should begin to show as things wear on. Especially when these two teams play back-to-back games in Tampa next week.

If the Canadiens are in tip top condition, which they should be, they’ll soon wear these buggers down. I remain completely confident about the outcome of this series. But a few of the scorers need to score of course. Is it asking too much?

It took until the third period before the lamp was finally lit, when a tip from a point shot eluded Carey Price. That was it. A one-goal game. And the way Lightning backstopper Ben Bishop was holding the fort, odds were that not a single puck would find its way behind him.

Some of Bishop’s magic was pure luck though, as in the case of Tomas Plekanec while killing a penalty, having a wide-open net, and  what looked to be a spectacular save by Bishop. But I’m saying the puck was shot right into the goalie’s glove.

Patrick Roy would’ve raised his catching glove high into the air in dramatic fashion on a save like that, like he’d pulled off something just short of the greatest save ever made. In reality, if the glove is positioned properly, often pucks will zoom in and people will ooh and aah, even though the goalie was basically full of shit.

With just 5:13 remaining in that frame, Max Pacioretty, who looks 100% after recovery from his head-into-boards incident back on April 5th against the Panthers, sped in and sent a wrist shot that Bishop gloved and then let drop, with the momentum of the puck crossing  the line, and suddenly the game was tied.

A glorious moment for Habs fans from Powell River to Pacaraima. Playoffs baby!

Tied until 2:06 of the second overtime period. And then, just like that, it was over.

Looking good, though. Sunday night the boys even the series!  I’m pretty sure about this.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Lightning 44-35 and won 55 faceoffs to Tampa’s 34. They also went 0 for 3 on the power play. Can you imagine the day when Montreal might go 3 for 3 or 4 for 4 on the power play? The thought scrambles my remaining brain cells.

Although Tampa was 0 for 4 on their man-advantages, so both teams sucked equally in this regard.

Alex Galchenyuk took three penalties, played a semi-par game for the most part, but also came close to ending things with 40 seconds left in the first overtime frame. But he didn’t.

Dale Weise also came close to being the hero, in the second OT period, just before Nikita Kucherov sank the dagger.