Category Archives: New York Islanders

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.

 

 

Good Game, Single Point

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Fine game Wednesday night in Chicago, and although the Canadiens grabbed a point, they could’ve had two. But it slipped away in the dying seconds.

Hawks win 3-2 in overtime.

After two periods of play it was a see-saw battle with no goals and just one penalty, a hooking call to Daniel Briere, but in the third, the puck started to find its way.

Dale Weise, in his first game back after injury, banged one home after a fine rush by Rene Bourque. But the Hawks, who held the edge in play many times on the night, tied it soon after.

Just 22 seconds later, Francis Bouillon blasted one home and it became a Habs lead once again.

And then, the one-goal lead almost a two-goal lead when our almost 40-goal scorer came oh so close..

How great it would’ve been to see Max score his 40th when he was set up fifteen feet out but stopped point blank by Corey Crawford. Great play, great shot, great stop.

It was also the beginning of the end, because after some serious Hawks pressure, the home team would tie it with 48 seconds left in the third, and in overtime, Peter Budaj accidentally backhanded the puck into his own net and that was that.

A point on the road but it could’ve been two. But that’s fine, because the Canadiens played a solid skating game, took just two penalties (the only two of the night), and in my book they continue to impress.

They’ve won 10 of 13 games. I feel I’d be a greedy bastard if I complained.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Chicago 30-28.

Thomas Vanek and DD assisted on Bouillon’s marker, and the big line continues to roll.

Alex Galchenyuk left the game in the first period after taking a hit from Andrew Shaw and now we wait to hear the damage.

Injuries just before playoff time. Imagine how Tampa must have felt when Ben Bishop went down.

Other guys were hurt too, Bouillon and Ryan White in particular, but both would return. Thank goodness Carey Price, Andrei Markov, and Alexei Emelin were left at home where less injuries could happen.

Much safer at home. Maybe tripping on a roller skate or taking a rolling pin to the head from an upset wife.  But no hits into the boards or hard pucks to the ankles.

In a few short hours (sort of), the boys host the Islanders at the Bell. Then game number 82 on Saturday against the Rangers.

Grab that opening round home ice and please, no more injuries.

 

 

Vanek To Canadiens

Thomas Vanek has been traded from the Islanders to Montreal for a second-rounder and Swedish prospect Sebastian Collberg.

Vanek, 30, is a right winger with 271 goals and 270 assists (541 pts) in 645 games which isn’t chicken feed. This is a bonafide NHL star with great hands who will help our team.

The one knock seems to be that Vanek doesn’t always play with passion. Hopefully when he’s in the great Montreal Canadiens environment and wearing the CH, the passion will come flowing out.

I’m very excited about this.

Along with Vanek, Montreal’s right wingers  include Gallagher, Gionta, Bourque, Weise, and Parros.

Annually Disappointed

Interesting story in The Hockey News sent over from Ian Sirota about fans in 10 cities who are completely long-suffering.

Always teased, always disappointed, their team always falling short.

And no, the Habs aren’t on the list. They’re not even on the honorable mention list. I’m not sure why. We’re annually disappointed.

It’s right here. Thank you Ian for the link.

Ready For Tonight

All set to go with no lingering beer effects, the TV will be nicely warmed-up, and I’m ready to say all kinds of nice things about the Canadiens after they wallop the Florida Panthers tonight at the Bell Centre.

It might prove tough for the gang though, considering they flew back from New York in a snowstorm in the wee hours of Sunday, with the Panthers not having played in a few days and winning their last two games in shootouts against good teams – the Caps on Friday and Wings last Tuesday.

With the Canadiens, all we’re asking for is a win and more scoring from different guys. Two goals in three games isn’t exactly fire-wagon hockey.

But they’ll turn it around because that’s what they do.

The question on everyone’s lips – Will Scott Gomez be in the Florida lineup? It’s a concern. The sniper, who has scored one goal this year and was on track for possibly a two-goal season, hasn’t dressed since Nov. 30 when he was a minus-2.

Fans pay big money for tickets and when Pittsburgh comes to town, they want to see Sidney Crosby. Same with Washington and Ovechkin.

Same with Florida and Gomez.

 

 

Max’s OT Goal Wins It

Nice work by David Desharnais in overtime to grab the puck, change direction, feed Max Pacioretty who scored the game’s only goal, and end the misery of sitting through any more when I’m in the middle of an excellent puzzle I could’ve been working on.

The team isn’t playing well, scoring has gone south for the winter, and the boys were lucky to win against the second-worst team in the east.

It’s not something to jump for joy about. They easily could’ve lost, and we might as well accept the fact that sometimes we’ll be incredibly happy with the gang and other times not so much.

Right now, that sensational 9-0-1 feeling is long gone, replaced by a lot of grrrs and tabernacs.

I hate Habs roller coaster rides. I don’t even mind them losing sometimes. I just prefer they play decent hockey while losing from time to time, and score goals while doing it.

It was 0-0 through three periods, and the only time there was reason to cheer was when Lars Eller laid out John Tavares with a good old fashioned, old-time hockey bodycheck when Tavares wasn’t paying attention.

Of course Eller got two minutes for it. Good, clean, hard hitting is an infraction it seems. And contrary to popular opinion, superstars can be hit hard, as long as the hits are clean.

But back to the main problem. Two goals in three games. Unacceptable. I’m going back to my puzzle.

Random Notes:

Because I’d never really paid much attention to George Parros until this year, I had in my mind he was a bit of a mad man. A good fighter. A feared fighter. A bad-tempered rotten bastard.

Instead we got a calm looking guy who scraps only in staged fights and never outright wins.

He got clocked tonight by Isles tough guy Eric Boulton, was wobbly getting up, and left the game, never to return. Now it’s up to George’s wife and family to convince him to retire.

George isn’t what any of us had in mind when the Canadiens signed him. An experiment that began to fizzle in the first game of the season.

Back to the drawing board in regards to the intimidation factor. Has Knuckles Nilan kept in decent shape?

Canadiens outshot the Islanders 25-21.

Next up – Sunday night – 6:00 ET against the Panthers.

Not expecting much.

Fans have been on Desharnais and Daniel Briere over the course of the season, and now I think it’s time for Brian Gionta to feel the wrath. In my eyes, he’s been a bum. He’s too small, his shot is lousy, and he’s old. In my opinion, three darn good reasons.

 

 

Kids Inspire In Habs Win

It was one of those nights to smile. Not only because the Canadiens ended their four game slump by beating the New York Islanders 4-2, but also the way the kids, the EGG line, created and dazzled and were rewarded with eight points on the night.

Alex Galchenyuk, chosen first star, nailed down a goal and two assists. Brendan Gallagher, chosen as second star, added a goal and an assist. And the centre on this line, Lars Eller, contributed a goal and an assist and was given third star.

Leave it to the kids to inspire and bring the team back to life, out of the doldrums, and stop the bleeding that was beginning to flow instead of trickle. When these three are clicking, it can be poetry in motion. The way they work, pass, shoot, finish, it makes my heart soar like Timothy Leary’s mind in 1967.

Just imagine what we have to look forward to as they mature and gain experience.

Tonight was a feel-good story for a change. A big win, led by the youngsters. Love the feel-good stories.

Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring in the second period, but the Islanders tied it soon after with Francis Bouillon in the box for holding. But two Habs power play markers, one by Lars Eller and another by Michael Bournival, and it was 3-1 after two.

In the third period, New York edged closer with a power play goal, but the Canadiens iced it with a lovely Gallagher to Eller to Galchenyuk display, and folks at the Bell went home happy and Michel Therrien went home with his 250th NHL win.

Random Notes:

Tomas Plekanec was sent to the box in the second period for face-off violation. Maybe it was explained on RDS and I just don’t understand French well enough, but I didn’t get it. It seemed to me that Pleks stepped on a stick and went down. And as far as face-off violation goes, I thought it only meant players cheating in the circle and such. I’m hoping someone will clear this up for me. I’m not afraid to admit this is something new to me.

Travis Moen left in the second period, apparently with a virus. Maybe he has to cook his hamburgers a little longer.

PK Subban was motoring all evening and playing like we know and love.

Shots on goal – Montreal 31, Isles 26.

Love these 6 pm games. Not too early, not too late.

Next up – Thursday when the Lightning come to town. Hopefully the kids and their inspirational play will set things in motion and the Canadiens come out breathing fire.

Alexei Emelin might finally be back in action on Tuesday. Here’s hoping.

 

 

Habs Lose Fourth In A Row

Winless in November. Four straight losses and falling.

All because they’ve stopped scoring. The Canadiens have bulged the twine just seven times in four games. Joe Malone once scored seven in one game.

They do this to us every year. Most of the team decides to go for a coffee break at the same time. Cripes, they’re not cops. Can’t they go at different times?

Imagine if three lines were contributing on the scoresheet. Even two. The team wouldn’t be in this pickle. And the pickle means very shortly finding themselves out of a playoff spot.

But at least the kids showed some fire, especially Brendan Gallagher, and thankfully P.K. had some fine moments. But if I were to list guys who have stopped producing, I might run out of internet space. (And Ian Sirota is right, Gallagher was in the box four times, which isn’t good).

Andrie Markov opened the scoring in the first period, set up by P.K. and Plekanec, but just 28 seconds later Bobby Ryan tied it for Ottawa, and all the good work the Canadiens had put in up until that point began to fade away. And in the second frame, Ottawa scored a pair just 36 seconds apart and the way the Habs artillery has dried up, coming back from a 3-1 deficit was way too much to expect.

Especially when Montreal took two terrible penalties late in the game – Rene Bourque, who had a lousy night in general, for holding a stick at 11:30 of the third, and Michael Bournival for wrapping his stick around someone’s throat at 14:50.

An empty netter in the dying seconds made it 4-1 for Ottawa and as they say, Gaston’s your uncle.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal  – Habs 34, Sens 24.

Next up – Sunday, when the Islanders hit the Bell.

On The Edge Of A Slump

Once again it could’ve been a beauty. Thoroughly outplayed in the first, regroup in the second, come on strong, and do the dramatics.

Didn’t happen. The thing went pfftt.

St. Louis came from behind in the third period after the Canadiens had jumped into a 2-1 lead in the middle frame, but Tomas Plekanec couldn’t beat Jaroslav Halak on a penalty shot with 49 seconds left in the third, and then the Blues did something the Habs couldn’t – they scored in the shootout.

Carey Price played really well. but he doesn’t seem to have a handle on shootouts. Or is it just my imagination?

The good thing is, it’s a point in the standings. The bad thing is, it’s only a point. And once again, our offensive guns were firing marshmallows with a slingshot.

With a game that featured David Desharnais as a healthy scratch and Alex Galchenyuk being tried at centre, the Canadiens fell behind in the first when Douglas Murray flubbed things and handed the puck away. I don’t have much to say about this guy. I’ve said it in the past.

But just one question lingers. Of all the big and strong defencemen around the globe, from rinks far and wide, is he the best we could come up with for depth and muscle?

Just visit cold and damp arenas around the country at 11 o’clock at night. There’s a bunch of hardrock guys playing some mighty fine senior hockey who can skate, thump, and handle the puck better than Douglas Murray. They’d do it for the league minimum in a heartbeat. They’d do it for a six-pack of Molsons.

Rene Bourque tied things up in the second on a nice play by Andrei Markov who drove for the net, and Michael Bournival let go a blast from the top of the circle that put the good guys ahead and teased us all into thinking David could actually slay Goliath.

But the Blues didn’t quit, Montreal couldn’t bury them with an insurance marker, the score would be tied, and in the shootout….well… I don’t want to talk about it.

Random Notes:

The Canadiens set a new NHL record by blocking 38 shots, which is an amazing accomplishment. But with two previous losses and now a single point, the team suddenly finds themselves spinning their wheels, with Washington, the Islanders, and Ottawa stepping on their heels.

Shots on goal  – St. Louis 32, Montreal 27.

Next up – a huge game on Thursday, a rare Hockey Night in Canada weekday affair, with the Habs in Ottawa.

 

Brian And Roy Spencer

Imagine how proud Roy Spencer must have been. The thoughts that must have swirled through his head. The phone call had finally come, and when he would see the game, there would be no words to describe it, no greater feeling. Roy’s boy was about to play, on national television, for the fabled Toronto Maple Leafs.

Roy Spencer’s son Brian had sure been no angel. The boy was quick-tempered, and quicker to fight, but everyone in Fort St. James, a dark, blue-collar town in northern British Columbia, knew he was a chip off the old block. After all, old man Roy was known in those parts as a fiery, hard-living, no-nonsense type of fellow, and his family, for all intents and purposes, was a tough family in a tough town.

Brian had a twin brother and the two played for hours each day during the cold winter nights on the backyard rink Roy had built behind the simple log cabin they lived in. Roy would often go out with the boys and slowly teach them the finer points of the game, especially how to play with an aggressive edge, because, as Roy would explain, this way would lead to the pros the fastest. Forget about being the next Dave Keon or Jean Beliveau. Forget about smoothness and concentrate on toughness.

Those hours in the backyard paid off, because in 1969, the Toronto Maple Leafs chose young Brian, and he was sent to the Tulsa Oilers, a farm team of the Leafs, for grooming. Brian played hard, and on December 12, 1970, with the Leafs about to face Chicago, the call came. Brian Spencer was being brought up to play for the big team.

When Brian learned he was going to Toronto, he quickly made his own call. It was to his dad Roy back home who, by that time, was dying from kidney disease. He was playing, Brian told his dad, and his game was to be aired on Hockey Night in Canada from coast to coast!

Bad kidneys or not, it must have been one of the best days of Roy’s life. For a proud hockey dad, something like this just doesn’t get any better.

In the end, it couldn’t have gotten any worse.

Of course the CBC knew nothing about Roy and Brian Spencer and the big debut in the Leafs uniform, and for an unknown reason decided to air the Vancouver-Oakland game instead. Roy, once he realized what had happened, rose from his chair in front of the television, got into his car with his rifle, and drove 85 miles to the nearest television station. At the station, Roy demanded they show the Leafs game, a demand that was refused, and the RCMP were called. Roy found himself in a shoot-out with the police, and the proud dad, who only wanted to see his boy playing in the big league, was quickly shot and killed.

In Toronto, young Brian was wearing the famous blue and white uniform of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and between periods, he was interviewed on Hockey Night in Canada. It was the biggest night of his life, and he was sure his dad was watching, smiling, with chest pumped with pride. What Brian didn’t know was at the same time he was being interviewed, his dad was being shot to death. He learned after the game.

Brian Spencer’s career lasted 10 years, with stops after Toronto in Long Island, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. In 1987, Spinner, as he was known, while living a drifter’s life in Florida, was charged with kidnapping and murder but was acquitted for lack of evidence. Three months later, while he was beginning to get his life back in order, he was murdered by a young hoodlum trying to rob him.