Category Archives: New York Islanders

Weber And Gang Win Another

blastA blast from the point from Shea Weber with just 2:57 left in the third period, and the visiting Montreal Canadiens leave town with a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders.

The major roll continues to roll.

Speedy Paul Byron, elevated to the first line with Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk, opened the scoring in the second period, and this middle frame had belonged completely to the Habs, right up until John Tavares evened things on the power play. But it all worked out in the end so it doesn’t matter.

In the third, after Galchenyuk rang one off the crossbar, Phillip Danault banged home a Weber shot after great fourth line forechecking, and the Habs took the lead, but not for long.

Almost three minutes later, ex-Bruin Dennis Seidenberg (which makes him a natural enemy), tied it after serious Islanders pressure, but it was all for naught, because the guy who came over for PK Subban, which caused some to consider jumping off a bridge or slitting their throat, scored the winner, his third of the season and nine points, which leads his team.

He also scares the daylights out of opposing players near the boards, which may or may not be factored into analytics.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Islanders 29-28, and were 1/1 on the power play (Weber).

Al Montoya, playing in his fourth game, was solid as usual and has allowed just 7 goals overall.

Years ago Henri Richard and Ralph Backstrom would be timed doing circles around the Forum, with both skaters fighting to be the fastest. Pretty sure Paul Byron would have given both fellows a run for their money, and I think they’d agree.

Next up –

Thursday night at the Bell when the Tampa Bay Lightning show up to get their arses kicked.

Soft and gentle rant – Alex Galchenyuk still isn’t that superstar we’d hoped for, even though he did score 30 goals last season. I thought by now, after 3 1/2 seasons, we’d see him blossom into one of the league’s elite, but we still wait. Maybe it won’t happen, at least the way I wanted it to.

Just want another Guy Lafleur, that’s all.

 

 

Radulov Sparks Habs

speeding-train

Great night for the Canadiens as they down the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 at the Bell Centre, and the Habs’ 2016-17 campaign rolls along like a speeding red, white, and blue train.

Five wins and a shootout point as the boys blast through six games to start the season, and a tough, hardworking night against a gritty Flyers team. The team is getting it done, and it makes my heart soar like the Flying Wallendas on crystal meth.

Who was that dynamo with the two-week growth on his face, scurrying here and there and causing problems all night in the enemy zone?

Alexander Radulov, that’s who. The one we wondered about before the season started, and who has been a revelation. The one who wasted eight years in the KHL and with only 160 NHL games under his belt.

And he’s not small either, standing 6’1″ and weighing 200 lbs, unlike the parade of little guys who tried and failed in becoming  top six gunners on the Canadiens over the past several years.

Radulov, with a goal and two assists, and the game’s first star. A force all night long. A great addition to the Habs attack. A guy who said bonjour and merci beaucoup in his postgame on-ice interview.

A guy who changed the climate of the game, and who has the tools to change the climate of many games.

Climate change. It’s real. It’s Radulov.

The Canadiens were first on the scoreboard when Shea Weber’s shot hit a Flyer stick and fooled Philly goaltender Steve Mason, while in the third frame, Brendan Gallagher on the power play would deflect Radulov’s shot from the point to give the boys a 2-1 lead.

Weber also notched an assist on the pp marker.

Radulov would find the empty net to ice the thing, and fitting that it was him after such a tremendous night. And it’s obvious that this guy loves being a Montreal Canadien.

He’s on the verge of being the toast of the town, and it’s what happens when a player works hard and becomes a major factor in games. Players around the league, free agents and those with no-trade to Montreal clauses, who are chicken shit to play for the Canadiens, need to pay attention to what Radulov is doing. It’s how one becomes a fan favourite in a tough town.

But I can’t get carried away. It’s only six games and we’ve seen players disappear before as the season wears on.  But for now, Radulov is alive and well!

Random Notes:

Carey Price made a huge game-saver late in the game, when it was still 2-1.

Canadiens outshot the Flyers 33-32 and were 1/4 on the power play.

Next up – Wednesday in Brooklyn to face the Islanders.

 

 

 

 

Not As Much Fun In ’80-81

The late 1970s were fine years for Habs fans of course, as the Canadiens chalked up four straight Stanley Cup wins and all was well in this crazy, mixed up world.

Even after the run finished, the 1979-80 campaign saw the boys finish first in the Norris Division with 107 points, but cracks and unrest had begun to show.

Unhappy coach Scotty Bowman had left town for Buffalo after the 1978-79 season , where he assumed the role of coach and general manager after being denied GM duties in Montreal.

And as Bowman bolted, aging stars Jacques Lemaire, Ken Dryden, and Yvon Cournoyer retired.

In 1980-81, any semblance of a powerhouse team was gone and it was very sad. We were used to much better.

Difficult to stomach was the gang being swept in ’80-81 by the upstart Edmonton Oilers, with a skinny kid named Wayne Gretzky emerging as a freak of nature in the Oiler’s lineup.

Shortly after the disappointing sweep, Montreal coach Claude Ruel resigned and was replaced by the unsuccessful Bob Berry (14 different coaches have followed since).

Berry, between his three years as coach of the L.A. Kings and almost three in Montreal, would never get his teams past the first round of the playoffs, and 63 games into year three, Jacques Lemaire took over the helm.

It just wasn’t a rosy time for all concerned.

These were the days that saw a New York Islanders dynasty rise, with Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Billy Smith and company winning their own four straight.

By then, the idea of the Habs winning four in a row as they once had was only laughable. It had become painfully obvious that the dynasty wasn’t just on life support, it was officially over.

The Flower’s greatest years were behind him, his 50-goal seasons would come no more. Goaltending was shaky, and Patrick Roy was still several years away.

Steve Shutt was the team’s leading point-getter in the 1980-81 season, recording 35 goals and 38 assists for 73 points. Mark Napier was next with 71 points, while Lafleur was third with 70 points.

The goaltending duties were shared by four guys that season – Richard Sevigny, Michel Larocque, Denis Herron, and Rick Wamsley.

Doug Wickenheiser, the Habs first-overall pick, chosen over fan favourite Denis Savard, suited up in this 1980-81 season and turned out to be not quite the player the organization and fans thought they were getting.

The much maligned (and initially much heralded) centreman recorded just 7 goals and 8 assists, and often found himself a healthy scratch.

Wickenheiser had been a huge star in junior with the Regina Pats and his big body at centre ice had folks wondering if they might have a new Jean Beliveau on their hands. But he never managed to become a major impact player (115 points in 202 games in Montreal), and was finally dealt to St. Louis.

And to add salt to everyone’s wounds, including Wickenheiser’s, the shifty and bilingual Quebecer from Pointe Gatineau, Denis Savard, had become the toast of the town in Chicago.

Rough times after those glorious late-1970s, and it would be five more years after ’80-81 before the Canadiens would become champs once again.

At that time, a handful of years in Montreal without Lord Stanley was unacceptable.

Now of course, it’s a bit more than a handful.

London Calling!

LondonA couple of months ago my brother called and asked if I had any plans from the 15th to the 24th of November. Then he left it like that for me to scratch my head and wonder.

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.

 

 

Habs Senatized

Sens

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.

Random Notes:

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.

The Big Sports Dinner

Roger Crozier was there, and so was Andy Bathgate and hurler Sal Maglie and a host of others, including my peewee baseball team that rolled over unsuspecting teams from around Ontario.

It was the 3rd annual Sports Celebrity Dinner in Orillia, from June 1964, organized by local radio personality Ken McDonald, later known as Jiggs McDonald.

Only a few years after this fancy affair, Jiggs would find himself broadcasting NHL games in Los Angeles when the league first expanded, and then in Atlanta and Long Island (along with stints in Toronto and Florida). Jiggs ultimately wound up in the Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.

This is my program from that big night at Club Pavalon, a place where, on normal nights, gave us some of the best live rock bands from the province and beyond.

cover

Ken

Crozier

Bathgate

Sal

Former NHLer Cal Gardner is in the Terriers lineup.

Terriers

My peewee team. They spelled my name wrong.

peewees

Basilio

Castator

Henley

Jr. C

Below, Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, is in the front row of the midget team.

Ley

lacrosse

Bob Hope In Orillia, Jiggs In Hollywood

In September of 1957, Orillia hockey star Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, was 9 years old, Orillia folksinger Gordon Lightfoot was 19, Bobby Orr, 60 miles up the road, was 9, and I was a month shy of being 7.

And in September of 1957, Hollywood funnyman Bob Hope, fresh from hanging out with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, close friends with a bunch of Presidents, and star of stage and screen, came with his family for a nice visit to Orillia. (The above photo is Hope in Orillia and comes from one of my dad’s photo albums).

I was there, although I don’t remember it. But my dad told me we were all there. He told me about Hope and his wife and kids riding in a parade down the main street. And he told me the Hope clan were guests of my dad’s boss, who happened to own a local factory.

It seems Hope had been invited to Orillia to help celebrate the expansion of Orillia’s radio station, CFOR. I’m thinking he must have been in the area anyway.

It’s also a beautiful thing when I can tie in CFOR to NHL hockey.

CFOR’s sports guy was Ken McDonald, and Ken was a great guy. My sister worked with him when she was a radio copywriter, and he would not only do radio sports, but on the side he would broadcast minor hockey games from the Orillia Community Centre. I can remember my grandma and I huddled by the radio one night in the early sixties when Ken described Archie Rankin scoring the big goal with just seconds left as the Orillia juveniles captured the Ontario championship in dramatic fashion.

In 1966, the Los Angeles Kings were granted a team in the league’s first expansion, and Ken McDonald was offered and accepted the big job of being the Kings’ very first play-by-play guy. I suppose it was owner Jack Kent Cooke who decided the name Ken McDonald just wasn’t fancy enough for the Hollywood market, and from that day forward, Ken McDonald became Jiggs McDonald. Over the years, Jiggs became one of the NHL’s best and longest-lasting broadcasters, with gigs with the Atlanta Flames, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Florida Panthers. He also had a brief stint doing New York Mets games.

When I ended up in jail for a week in Los Angeles during the summer of 1967 (breaking curfew after Sunset Strip riots), my sister phoned Ken/Jiggs in LA and asked him if he could help. I never learned if he did or not, but after a week behind bars, a plane ticket showed up from my parents, who had absolutely no money, to get me back to Canada, and I was set free.

Maybe Jiggs pulled some strings. If so it’s taken a lot of years, but thanks a lot, Mr. McDonald.

Topped By Tampa

The Canadiens fell 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night, although they gave it the old college try after falling behind 3-0 before three minutes had been played in the second period.

Unfortunately, old college tries are never good enough because they mean losing. And this was to a growing rival who had already won the first three encounters.

It began poorly, that’s for sure. Brenden Morrow got his stick up into the face of Brian Flynn (who didn’t return) and on the four-minute penalty handed down, the Canadiens, and I know you’ll be shocked by this, failed to score.

Following that, a puck was deflected off Andrei Markov and past Carey Price to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead, and then, not even 24 hours after Max Pacioretty was anointed with a new McDonald’s hamburger (the Max 67), he grabbed the puck along the boards near centre ice, turned, and passed it back to none other than a free as a bird Steven Stamkos, who waltzed in and beat Price.

But because I appreciate Max so much, I’m won’t say anything more about this. Or bring up that pass to an Islanders player the other night that killed Price’s shutout. Because Max has 34 goals on a team that you and I complain about because they can’t score. And he had 39 last year.

He also came close several times after, obviously intent on making up for his faux pas. And if you don’t think any of the greats of the game – Howe, Richard, Hull, Orr, Beliveau, Gretzky, Lemieux etc, pulled a boner once in awhile, you’d be wrong.

Later in the second period, Pleks would finally get his team on the scoreboard while on the powerplay (yes, the powerplay), and in the third frame, P.A. Parenteau banged one home after Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop got crossed up behind the net.

But that was it, because Lars Eller was called for holding with just 2:22 left in the game, and with Carey Price pulled to at least keep things even, Steven Stamkos hit the empty net.

Now it’s across the state to take on the Panthers and hopefully better their record in March to three wins in nine games. Which, of course, is still nasty.

Random Notes:

There were a number of questionable decisions by the officials, including the call not made when Brandon Prust and Mike Angelidis fought and which was clearly started by Angelidis. But the instigator penalty wasn’t called.

And Lars Eller’s holding call in the dying minutes wasn’t flagrant by a country mile, and which of course, killed any chance of the Canadiens  squaring things up.

Shots were even at 34 apiece.

 

 

 

Canadiens Better Against Islanders

They still had to rely on Carey Price to come up big, but the Canadiens on Long Island would get the job done, winning 3-1 and looking better than they have in their other six games in March, and keeping me from putting %$#&* in the title.

Yes there were a few bad penalties taken by the boys, including a hot-headed Dale Weise boarding call that could’ve been smarter, and an Andrei Markov tripping penalty with just 4:11 left in the game and his team up-2-0, and which lead to an Islanders’ power play goal to make things tense for all concerned.

Not to mention that the Isles goal was scored after Max had sent an absolutely soft and ill-advised puck to the enemy in the slot.

But a Lars Eller empty-netter sealed it and the Canadiens, at least until Monday, stop the acid rain that has been coming down for about two weeks now, beginning in sunny California.

The win puts the Canadiens two big points ahead of the Lightning, who lost 2-1 to Winnipeg on Saturday, but most importantly, they looked like they’d finally slept off their stupor, shook out the cobwebs, and picked it up a notch.

That and Carey Price.

Montreal opened the scoring early in the second period on a Galchenyuk to Parenteau to Galchenyuk to Plekanec bang, bang, banger, and later, Max would fire one home with his team shorthanded, after Isles goaltender Michael Neuvirth left the puck behind his net, only to have it grabbed by Lars Eller who sent it out to Max.

It was also in this second frame that Carey Price swooped his glove behind him to rob Matt Martin, which you can see here at the bottom, and which is what plenty of folks will be talking about for the next day or two.

A fine effort in general by the visiting Canadiens, although they were outshot 36-30 and were saved by Price a bit more than should be expected.

They also went 0-4 on the power play but that’s not really news. They go 0-4 every game.

Next up – another important beauty as the Canadiens head to Tampa Bay for a Monday night meeting with Bolts. Time to shake these guys once and for all. They’re like leeches on the skin after swimming in local swamp.

Shoutout to both Lars Eller and P.A. Parenteau for contributing in a big way.

Habs In A Rut

The Canadiens moved out into a mighty fine 2-0 lead in the first period against the Ottawa Senators after a power play marker by P.K. Subban and a nice shorthanded effort by Max.

Then the roof collapsed.

The Sens tied it in the second and scored three more in the third, and aside from the obvious disappointment felt by the masses in losing 5-2 to these miserable bastards, it means the Canadiens have dropped 5 of 6 games in March.

This worrisome slump can’t be blamed on bad luck either. The team has been outmatched lately, and what they have now to look forward to are the Islanders on Saturday and the Lightning on Monday. Two great teams just itching to keep the misery going.

It’s entirely possible this depressing slump isn’t about to end soon.  The Canadiens aren’t racking up goals, whether it’s regular strength or on the power play (although P.K. blasted one home in the dying seconds of a first period 4-minute man-advantage), and unless they break on through to the other side in the next month or so, it won’t look pretty when things turn serious.

The team is in the middle of trying times, late in the season, which seems far from perfect timing. It’s a reason to be concerned, but not quite panic time. Several important guys, like Galchenyuk, Plekanec, and even Weise, are asleep at the wheel, but if they and a couple of others few pick it up a bit, these doldrums might quickly become a thing of the past.

We’re not seeing flair or colour or consistent banging or giving opposing goalies any kind of a night to work up a decent sweat. They haven’t been all that fun to watch, they’re often boring, and my kind of Montreal Canadiens team is practically the opposite of what we’ve been exposed to recently.

This team needs all four lines and defence pairings going good in their own particular ways to be considered a legitimate contender. And right now, some guys aren’t pulling their weight, the team is naturally faltering because of this, and I think many of us are less confident in them now taking a serious playoff run, which we thought could happen.

The horrible California experience and now two lousy home games have left many wondering. And the answers? Don’t look at me. I’m just a fan like everyone else, and one who’s disregarding the last half of the old adage “write drunk and edit sober.”

Next up –

Long Island on Saturday to face the very strong N.Y. Islanders.