Category Archives: New York Islanders

Canadiens Drop Another

Couldn’t see the Habs-Coyotes Sunday matinee, but I heard that the boys, except for a flurry at the end, were reasonably lousy in their 3-2 loss to Arizona.

I did manage to catch the Habs and Sabres on Tuesday though, and aside from a third period flurry, were reasonably lousy in their 3-2 loss to Buffalo.

The Canadiens had plenty of chances, with pucks missing the net left and right. It’s infuriating to say the least. Maybe a bunch of them need to see an eye doctor.

Hit the net for #$&@ sakes.

I don’t have much to say. I’m a tired guy just back from an exhausting trip.  Here’s my official summary – the big shot 5th place Habs, busy feeling high and mighty after back-to-back 1-0 shutout wins over really good Rangers and Washington teams, suddenly lose to the 27th place Arizona Coyotes, and the 30th place Buffalo Sabres.

And I’ll add this. It’s a grueling marathon, this 82-game season, and there will be stinkers. Doesn’t matter if pro athletes make millions. Sometimes they don’t give the expected 100%.

Keep in mind, the minute the playoffs start, most of us will forget all about the regular season.

Next up – New Jersey Devils at the Bell on Saturday, and then the Canadiens head to Boston for a Sunday meeting.

Brandon Prust was involved in a cool sequence to tie the game at one in the 1st and lure us into thinking that it was the beginning of the end for the Sabres. Prust burst out of the penalty box, knocked the puck off Tyler Myers near centre ice, the puck scooted to DD who sent it back to Prust who buried it.

DD, in the 3rd frame, would score his team’s other goal.

Shots on goal – Habs 34, Sabres 18.

Left winger Jacob de la Rose was called up from Hamilton for his first NHL game and was -1 with 5 hits recorded.

Gabriel Dumont also saw action, while Michael Bournival, Manny Malhotra, and Mike Weaver didn’t.

A View From Above

Here it is, the latest look at the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System, showing nice amounts of yellow spread out over what amounts to more than half the season completed (45 games played, eighth best overall).

As you can see, the only real slump was back in the latter part of November and into early December when the boys lost six of seven games. And January shows a bit of a dip but nothing serious.

All in all, a fine season so far, with a big test coming up in early March when they hit the big three in California and shortly after tackle the Lightning, Sens, Islanders, and then Lightning again.

Isn’t this more fun than watching the All-Star Game?

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Six Big Goals Against Isles

The Canadiens would pull off a nice 6-4 win against the visiting Islanders, although they led 6-2 with just over five minutes to play.

Which brings me to this. To those at the Bell who like to sing Ole, maybe you could wait until the siren goes. Cap it all off with a nice and hearty rendition when the game is actually won. Just for a change.

I’m blaming you for making things slightly dicey as the clock wore down. I find myself thinking how Ole warblers could stick their Ole up their ole.

But all in all a fine win against a good, although obviously tired Islanders team. Six goals past Jaroslav Halak before he was finally chased, with two of the six being power play markers, which thrills me to no end.

I think I’ve discovered the true meaning of life. A good Habs power play.

PK would blast home a man-advantage marker to open the scoring in the first, and just ten seconds into the second frame, Dale Weise converted a beautiful feed from Tomas Plekanec and the boys were off and running.

Never mind that the Islanders came within one twice. A Plekanec power play blast in the second kept the team in front, and in the third period, goals from Galchenyuk (close in), DD ( a scorching shot over Halak’s shoulder), and Pleks again (after bringing the puck in from centre ice), and things looked just dandy.

Until people started singing Ole.

But all’s well that ends well. Dustin Tokarski got the win, and the number two team in the east gets whomped by the number five Canadiens.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot New York 35-31 and were 2/4 on the power play.

It was a full team effort, and along with Pleks, who tallied 2 goals and 2 assists, others like Jiri Sekac, Nathan Beaulieu, Brandon Prust, Christian Thomas, and PK all had moments that must have kept Sportsnet/HNIC announcer Paul Romanuk reaching for the Benylin with codeine so he could raise his weakened voice.

Romanuk called the game while under the weather, and although it wasn’t his fault, it sounded like the codeine was obviously working.

But I’m not one to criticize Romanuk. He got through it like a trooper, and I know from experience that when I wake up in the morning and have my vanilla extract, codeine, hashish, DK beer, banana, and orange juice shake, the only talking I do is to myself and I’m never able to translate. So good for him.

Tuesday the boys go up against the league’s number 1 team, the Nashville Predators.

 

Sliced By Sens

Reasonably lousy effort from the Canadiens in Ottawa Thursday night as they drop a 4-1 decision to the Sens after being outchecked, outhit, and outshot, and outplayed.

And of course, after a Habs power play that had come alive the previous night and scored three times, on this night it was back to reality as the team went 0 for 4, which is what we’re more accustomed to. Can’t expect a fine power play two games in a row, can we?

The Sens were the better team, which sucks to say considering my utter disdain for them. They had the Habs bottled up throughout, lined up like a wall when play was coming toward them, and Bobby Ryan and company must have had their fans wondering all evening why they’re not able to perform like this on more of a regular basis.

But as well as Ottawa played, if the Canadiens hadn’t been so soft around Dustin Tokarski, they might’ve been able to make a game of it. Soft and casual play in Montreal’s end led to the Sens first two goals, while an Erik Karlsson blast made it 3-1. Ottawa would also score on the empty net, while at the other end, Montreal’s guns were seized up.

For the Canadiens, Max would make it interesting early on when his 21st goal of the season (and 6th straight game with at least a goal) would tie it at one apiece. Jiri Sekac has a couple of great chances, including dinging one off the post. And Lars Eller skated miles all night and found himself with several great chances (although on one of Lars’ chances, he should’ve tried burying it instead of passing it across into traffic, which made me yell at the TV and scare the cat who already has health issues).

Mostly though, as a whole the boys stunk. But we’ve seen this before, doses of mediocrity mixed with in with runs of solid play that continues to see them at or near the top of the class. We’re a greedy bunch, us fans, and watching Le Tricolore fall flat against some bums up the road definitely smells.

Random Notes:

Ottawa outshot the Canadiens 35-26.

Dustin Tokarski came up big several times and did his job. Now Toker might ride the pines until February 8th, the next back to back situation. But rust can never sleep.

Next up – Saturday, when the really good Islanders visit the Bell.

 

 

Habs Top Of The Heap

The Pittsburgh Penguins may have had their way with the Canadiens back on November 18th when they blanked the boys 4-0, but Saturday night in Pittsburgh was a different story.

4-1 Habs. A well-deserved win.

Montreal punched the clock and played a solid, hardworking, hard checking, all round fine game as they bottled up the Pens in impressive fashion, found themselves with meaningful scoring chances sprinkled throughout, and now sit in the Eastern Conference penthouse with 54 points, one ahead of both the Pens and Islanders, and two in front of Tampa Bay, the team they face on Tuesday evening in Montreal.

Max would slam one home in the first period to open the scoring, then a Desharnais slapshot made it 2-0, Tom Gilbert was wide open in the second frame and it was 3-1, and Alexei Emelin blasted a laser through a crowd in the third to put the thing out of reach.

A nice little run Les Glorieux have going now, winning 6 straight and 9 of their last 10. No wonder they’re king of the hill.

I’m back watching and typing in our little house in Powell River, after a year and a half of living in Montreal. It feels unusual, with the game coming on a 4 pm instead of 7, and in a completely different place than the one I was in just over a week ago.

I also hadn’t seen the team play the previous three games because we were in the process of driving across the country.

It’s great to be back, but I also loved Montreal. It was a grand adventure, and now returning to PR is strange and also fresh and  comfortable. The old couch, the  bigger TV, the kitchen table where I am now. The fence in the back yard that blew over during a recent storm.

And the Canadiens ruling the roost. All they gotta do now is take out the Lightning at the Bell on Tuesday. Widen the gap a touch.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot Pittsburgh 33-31.

They also went 0-4 on the power play,  which puts them in 27th place in the man-advantage category. But they’re on a serious run so now’s not the time to complain.

Carey Price was in the nets for back to back games, only the second time this year that Toker didn’t play in one of them. Price was between the pipes on Dec. 5th against the Hawks and the 6th against the Stars, losing both. But that was then, this is now.

 

Habs Crush Sens

Canadiens dump the Sens 4-1 at the Bell, although it didn’t begin well. Sven Andrighetto stumbled and lost the puck on a Canadiens power play, which led to a puck sent gently at Carey Price who let it drop by his feet and promptly banged in by the bad guys.

But it ended well.

Still in the first, Brandon Prust tied it with a shot from a difficult angle.
Max to Chucky to Gally, bang, bang, bang, and it was 2-1 in the second.
And then in  the third, Plekanec on the power play and later Max to Emelin to Chucky, another bang, bang, banger, and what began in dubious fashion ended as a nice 4-1 win for the good guys.

I don’t have any fancy advanced stats to throw out. Frankly, I’m not interested. But I can tell you that whenever announcer Paul Romanuk called Cody Ceci’s name, I thought of what Lucy had told me – that Ceci in Russian is slang for women’s breasts.

A fine game, and how great it was (a) to see Max Pacioretty play after getting nailed by Anaheim’s Clayton Stoner the other night and taken to the hospital, and (b) seeing Max click so well once again with Gallagher and Galchenyuk.

Gally had a goal, Max collected two assists, and Galchenyuk notched a goal and an assist.

Also clicking well were the trio of Plekanec, Sekac, and Prust, who generated several good chances and showed nice chemistry. Is chemistry an advanced stat?

Next up – Habs on Long Island on Tuesday.

And speaking of Tuesday, my boss Marc Juteau is giving all of us at Classic Auctions a Christmas present to end all Christmas presents. He’s rented a box at the Bell Centre, with food and drinks, for the World Junior pre-tournament tilt between Canada and Switzerland.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot Ottawa 29-25.

Leafs got bombed 7-4 by Philadelphia.

So Close And Now So Far

The Canadiens fall 3-2 in overtime when Martin St. Louis beat Dustin Tokarski, but the Montrealers absolutely made it a game, although it took two and a half periods before it clicked in.

Imagine if the Habs’ non-contributors were contributing? But when a team gets by with just a handful playing well and still takes it into overtime, it says a lot.

The Rangers aren’t that good. We’re playing without half the team.

Too many periods in these 2014 playoffs when the Canadiens have been outplayed. And yet, another game that was so close, that could’ve gone in their favour.

How close? A puck rang off the inside of the post and out again from Alex Galchenyuk with three minutes left in the third that would’ve won it.

The series only a fraction of an inch from being tied, and now it’s a 3-1 lead for New York going back to Montreal. But many good things happened in that third to give us hope, because finally the boys in general came alive and pushed.

Not everyone, but many.

Just so disheartening. Losing in overtime. And seeing guys still not showing up.

One thing’s for sure. This isn’t the same P.K. Subban we saw in the Boston series, although he tied the game in the third on a shot from the point that appeared to deflect off Brendan Gallagher.

But he doesn’t have that swagger, that dangerous flamboyance that causes fans in other buildings to boo him. The MSG folks have had no reason to let him have it.

Maybe at some point we’ll hear why PK has slowed down. Maybe he’s burned out.

Again Thomas Vanek did very little and there’s no sense dwelling on this. He is what he is.

But having said that, if you haven’t yet come close to showing up and you’re in the third round of the playoffs, it’s a serious problem. And Vanek hasn’t shown up. We need him, and that’s why it’s so maddening.

DD showed up. Gally showed up. Francis Bouillon, inserted into the lineup in place of Nathan Beaulieu, tied the game at one in the second period with a nice shot. Weaver sacrificed his body for the team.

Lots of guys showed up, although for many, not until the third. But lots haven’t yet. The clock’s ticking, and if we don’t see all hands on deck on Tuesday, with everyone giving their all, then we know for sure this team has a ways to go yet before we start thinking about the big prize.

There are no passengers on teams that go all the way. That’s not how it works. It takes blood, sweat and more sweat from every guy. The young Edmonton Oilers found that out when they lost to the New York Islanders in 1983 after the Islanders, banged, bruised, and exhausted, had just won their fourth straight title.

The Oilers learned from the Islanders that it takes supreme sacrifice, ridiculous amounts of hard work, and the willingness to do whatever it takes, even if it hurts like hell.

We’re not seeing that from a number of Canadiens. Although there’s still time. Not much though.

All we can do now is hope we see every single guy give his all from here on in. If we don’t see that, then the time definitely isn’t yet here to even think about Lord Stanley.

 

 

 

Finish It Tonight Please

Bury them tonight and be done with it.

Because even though Tampa’s chances of winning this series are slim to none, coming back from being down 3 games has been done before – Toronto over Detroit in 1942 to win the Cup, the Islanders in 1975 over Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals, and Philadelphia over Boston in the Eastern semifinals.

But I like our chances in so many ways. And a nice rest while other teams pound each other means healing wounds, working on the power play, and not getting injured.

As they say, why wait for Christmas, do it now.

Christmas

 

 

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.