Category Archives: New York Rangers

Canadiens Say Goodbye

That’s it for the Habs after falling to the Rangers 3-1 in game six, and I’d say I’ll now start getting excited about the Blue Jays’ season, except they’re 4 and 12 and about to lose another as I write.

I wish the Expos would come back.

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Still no Stanley Cup since 1993. Will it happen again soon? Will it happen in my lifetime or yours?

I don’t have favourite players on my team. That time is long gone. When I was a kid, the Rocket was my hero. And Beliveau and Harvey and I guess, every player on the team. As a guy in my twenties, I was happy about Lafleur and Dryden and Robinson.

But it’s only about the crest now. I liked Subban for example, but it didn’t bother me one bit when he was traded because  I thought Shea Weber was an upgrade in many ways. I still do.

It’s about the team only. Players can come and go and I won’t bat an eyelash.

A few days ago I saw a film clip of Andrei Markov coming out of a NY hotel (or maybe Madison Square Garden) and a kid, the only person in site, approached him for an autograph. Markov shook his head and casually walked across the street.

Players can say no all they want to adults, I understand and accept that. But there’s no excuse to say no to a kid.

No excuse. It would’ve taken all of about four seconds to sign the kid’s piece of paper.

And so, I finish off a season of game reports complaining about Andrei Markov.

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Thanks to everyone who read my posts this season. I hope you liked some of them.  And I also truly appreciate anyone who took the time to sometimes comment.

We thought the team had a decent chance this year to make a serious dent.

But without naming names, they let us down.

 

 

 

 

Game 5 Bummer

The Canadiens fall 3-2 to the Rangers in overtime, and now it’s gonna take them seven games to win the series instead of six.

I’m okay with that, because I have faith. But they’re testing my faith. And my patience. Bastards.

For much of the game, the Rangers were the better team, and that’s unacceptable, especially at the Bell Centre where noisy fans provided the atmosphere, but fans can’t put the puck in the net. That’s where the team is supposed to chip in.

It was a sickening sight to see the puck get past Carey Price in overtime, because as dominate as the Rangers were in OT, it was always possible that a lucky break could see the Canadiens end up winning the thing.

It never happened, and now the series resumes once again on Saturday in New York. And it’ll have to be all hands on deck for that one, because no-shows aren’t welcome. Never have been, never will. Especially no-shows that wear the CH.

I still feel that Montreal is the better team. It’s just how I feel. They weren’t tonight, and they weren’t on Tuesday. Or game 1 for that matter. So maybe they’re not.

This one hurts.

From my notes:

In the first minute of the game, Carey Price made a huge save on Mats Zuccarello, and I thought maybe Pricer was gonna be a hero on this night.

Andrew Shaw and the much bigger Brendan Smith dropped the gloves, Shaw got in several fine rights, and he looked good as he swung away. It was just the beginning of a rough and tumble, hard hitting, testy kind of a night.

Still in the first, Artturi Lehkonen fooled with Marc Staal and ended up swooping around the net and sending the puck past Henny Lunny to give the boys a 1-0 lead.

Still in the period, Jesper Fast scored a shorthanded marker after Alex Galchenyuk coughed up the puck, and the game was tied.

Galchenyuk’s been mediocre at best in this series. Maybe he doesn’t want to be a Hab anymore.

Just 25 seconds later, on the same power play, Brendan Gallagher fooled Henny from 15 feet out and the good guys took the lead again.

In the second period, Zuccarello highsticked Paul Byron, catching him in the eye area. Somebody needs to tune the Norwegian in once and for all.

With just 1:32 left in the 2nd, the Rangers tied it up, and it was after this that the strength of my ticker was firmly tested.

Sixteen seconds in, Gally took a slashing penalty when his little love tap knocked the stick out of the hands of a weak-wristed Blueshirt. A cheap call indeed, but NY failed to score.

Gally’s only 5’9″, 184 pounds, but he’s the toughest son of a gun on the ice.

Also in the third, Phillip Danault hit the post while the team was shorthanded, and Max couldn’t solve Henny on a clear-cut breakaway.

Max is in a slump at the wrong time of year. But you already know that.

In overtime it was all Rangers.

One Lousy Random Note:

Game 6 on Saturday in New York is an 8pm ET start. Or 5pm where I live.

 

 

 

Habs Fall In Game 4

The Canadiens lost a tight one in New York, falling 2-1 to a revitalized Rangers team, and now it’s gonna take six games instead of five to dispatch these NY bastards to the nearest golf course.

I want these guys gone. I’m tired of Zuccarello and Kreider and McDonagh and Nash and the lousy cop anthem singers. Tired of all things Rangers. Let me be the first to say good riddance after the Canadiens put the hammer down on Thursday and Saturday.

Nash ran Price, and how beautiful it would’ve been to see Weber send the big Rangers’ nose and several chiclets into the upper deck. Kreider’s been a bum but he remains despicable regardless. Zuccarello, waving his stick that would be too big for Mike McCarron, needs to be scalped by Steve Ott.

The little bugger might have the longest stick on his team. Maybe he’d be better if he cut a foot or so off it. Maybe he’s never thought of it.

Their goaltender, Henny Lunny, the one who embarrasses teammates for all to see after they make a mistake like not getting him a stick during the play, can’t always be so lucky to have a puck hit his stick that’s laying on the ice, and have the biscuit scoot safely away.

And of course there was that Shea Weber missile that clanged off the iron late in the game. Henny was full of it on this night.

The Canadiens will pull their pants up Thursday in Montreal, and finish it back on Broadway. Then the New Yorkers, including the anthem singers, can take in some Bronx and Queens baseball and not be back on my TV until next fall.

Turnovers played a role in the Habs falling short. Name a defenceman – he turned it over. All of them. Most flagrant was Andrei Markov letting a puck at the backboards carom off his skate and straight out to Jesper Fast, who banged it home.

But still in the first period, Torrey Michell converted a Radu to Mitchell to Weber to Mitchell, shortly after a Radu penalty was over, the game was suddenly tied, and visions of a 3-1 series lead danced in my head.

Sadly, not only did New York dominate the second period, a goal from that Nash fellow put the team ahead, and try as Montreal might in the third, especially in the dying moments, they weren’t able to light the lamp, and the series is again tied.

Playoff hockey isn’t for the faint of heart. Thunderous hits, chirping, bleeding faces, sore noses. And that’s just in my living room. The play on the ice was almost as bad.

And as exciting as this series has been, I want it over in six games. Speaking for myself, of course.

Maybe you want seven games. Maybe you’re not as sick of Zuccarella and Henny and Nash and those dudes as I am. But I think you are.

Big game on Thursday. Huge.

 

 

Big Game 3 Win For Habs

Definitely solid were the Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Sunday evening, with their 3-1 win giving them a 2-1 series lead over the Blueshirts, and it was a job done in impressive style.

Outshooting the Rangers 29-21, Les Glorieux stood their ground, skated miles, the defence and Carey Price shut the door, and New York ticket buyers rained boos down on their beloved team that lacked flow, mainly because the Habs made sure there was no home team flow.

The boos were music to my ears. Disgruntled New Yorkers, pissed because their team was outmatched by the proud CH.

That’s two straight wins for the boys after an opening game loss, no longer are they stymied in the neutral zone as they were in game 1, they’re on a roll with that magical momentum, and my heart soars like a pair of pelicans at the beach in Malibu.

After a scoreless first period, Artturi Lehkonen, on the power play, finished off a great sequence (Plekanec to Gallagher to Lehkonen), while in the final frame, Shea Weber, on another man-advantage, converted some nifty work by Alex Galchenyuk.

Weber’s goal proved to be the winner, but it wasn’t the final marker. Alexander Radulov danced in and extended his stick and the puck one-handed around Henrik Lundqvist, and the game for all intents and purposes was over. Although New York would pot one with 2:56 left and Lundqvist on the bench to make it a slightly more respectable 3-1 game.

A great win, the boys are rolling, Claude Julien seems to be molding them into a tight and impressive playoff club, and I think the Rangers to a man know they’re in deep trouble.

Their fans do, that’s for sure.

And at the risk of sounding smug, greedy, and obnoxious, it’s a beautiful thing when a team can dispatch the enemy in less than seven games. The postseason is a brutal marathon, and we don’t want the series to go long.

I’m not smug. If I can’t be a player or coach or stickboy, I have to do my own mental planning from a distance. And my mental planning means winning the series in five games, or at the most, six.

Next game – Tuesday in NY, at the normal time.

 

 

Great Game 2

Above – Habs fans in Powell River watch the game on the big screen.

Finally I was able to see the game properly, after my pal Homer kidnapped me last night and I was forced to listen to him talk about how the World Cup of Hockey, the World Baseball Classic, and the Sedin twins sucked.

But we did accomplish one big thing as I tried to watch the game out of the corner of my eye. We’re gonna form a band and call ourselves Carnaby Knights. I’m the singer.

This morning I saw how a team fought, hit, worked, and didn’t give up, and the Bell Centre crowd definitely got their money’s worth. It’s like I’ve said about a dozen times over the past several months – the regular season is long gone, forgotten, never to be thought of again, because the playoffs are a whole other animal.

Weber was a beast, and when he’s pissed off, he’s the Weber we wanted. Plekanec was back to the one we knew and loved. Max, Radulov, Petry, Byron, and heck, almost everyone, played hard, smart, and desperate.

Gallagher…..I have no words. Sort of. He’s a warrior, old school yet new school. One of a kind. I thought the abuse he takes year in and year out had begun to slow him down a bit. I was wrong.

Gallagher’s taking plenty from the Rangers, and frankly, it’s up to the officials to call more. It’s ridiculous how one guy can get mugged constantly but the whistle is never blown.

The series is tied, and the hockey is great. I apologize for last night. Blame Homer.

Game three goes Sunday at the normal time.

Below, Rangers fans head back to Manhattan.

Canadiens Even Things Up

The Canadiens evened the series  on Friday night after Tomas Plekanec, a player Habs fans have almost given up lately due to his lack of fire power, scored with just 17 seconds left in regulation time, and Alexander Radulov, with his marker at 18:34 into the first overtime frame, gave the Canadiens a 4-3 overtime win in game two of the Stanley Cup opening series.

A big win. Huge.  Life is worth living again!

Now that’s hockey!

Things now stand at a game apiece going into New York on  Sunday evening, and for the Canadiens, it’s now time to grab the series lead.

I just can’t say enough about this big win tonight, I feel like shouting, but I’m a bit drunk. I’m also worried that I’ll wake up Lucy and baby Lyla.

I was out with my buddy Homer and his lovely lady Corrine tonight, and Homer likes the Habs, only because he listens to Chris Nilan on Nilan’s radio talk show every morning. Basically, Homer’s a Canucks fan because he grew up on the west coast, but because of Nilan he’s cheering for the Habs,  and whatever,  he’s a great guy.

I missed a lot of tonight’s game, but it’s not my fault. I love the result, that’s all.  Now the series is tied. Go Habs.

 

 

 

 

Rangers Grab Game 1

The crowd was primed, Ginette Reno belted out O Canada in stirring fashion, and the Canadiens in the first 20 minutes belted bodies and pelted 15 shots at the Rangers net while allowing just 5.

It looked like it was gonna be a rip-roaring, rootin’ tootin’ affair at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night, with the happy crowd filling Peel and Crescent St. later to celebrate the return of joyous hockey in Montreal.

But a fine and somewhat flukey backhand shot by Tanner Glass in the first, and an empty-netter as the clock wore down, and the Rangers take the always-important first game 2-0. Now fans filling the pubs in downtown Montreal must debate their team’s lack of scoring instead of high-fiving and toasting friends and strangers alike.

The Canadiens were flying in the first, energized by the building, the anthem, the atmosphere in hockey’s greatest city, and the wondrous anticipation leading up to the puck drop, but were ultimately foiled by Henrik Lundqvist and a tight and disciplined Rangers squad.

Montreal’s wings were trimmed in the second and third as the visitors stood tall in the neutral zone, were stingy in their end, and with Lundqvist on his game, they made life way too difficult for the good guys.

Yes, it was a bummer to lose the opener. Adjustments need to be made. Nikita Nesterov, awkward on defence, needs to sit. Scorers need to score. Shooters need to hit the net. Centremen need to win important faceoffs. The team has to be better in their own end.

In fact, nothing really changed from the regular season when scorers weren’t scoring, pucks missed nets, faceoffs were lost, and confusion reigned often in their own end.

Friday has to be different. Imagine going down two games before hitting Broadway. Not gonna happen is my prediction.

Random Notes:

Shots were 31 apiece.

Alexei Emelin, still healing, didn’t play, and I for one wouldn’t mind seeing the big fellow in the lineup sooner than soon. The team has to smash these bastards like they did in the first period of the opener. But for 60 minutes next time.

Last year, THE SEASON FROM HELL, saw the Canadiens score 221 times over 82 games. This season they managed 226, five more.

Last year the team allowed 236 goals, while this year it was just 200, which shows what happens when Carey Price is healthy. And last season they finished with 82 points while this season was 103 points.

A different team, a new lease on life. Expected to make a big dent in the postseason. But they’re not scoring. Not yet anyway.

 

 

Habs Roll Against Rangers

It’s five in a row now for the Montreal Canadiens after taking out the Rangers 4-1 in Manhattan, and it makes my heart soar like a blue-footed booby.

This one’s getting ready to soar.

Definitely a sight for sore eyes to see a big, bruising, and hardworking Habs team that was flying for the most part, and when they weren’t flying, Carey Price was there to shut the door.

What a combination – big, flying, and Price. That’s a playoff formula if there ever was one.

Sixteen games left folks, and then the real wars start. It’s good to see what’s developing.

It seems like a team coming together at the right time, and all it took was a coaching change and four rough and tough guys added after a couple of small ones were subtracted.

How big is this team now? Only five are under six feet – Nesterov, Mitchell, Shaw and Plekanec at 5’11”, and Byron and Gallagher at 5’9″. That makes 17 guys at least six feet tall, and that’s why my heart is soaring like a booby after all the whining I’ve done over the years about too-small Habs teams.

The idea is to make the opposition not enjoy themselves one bit when they play Montreal, and finally it seems the case. There’s nothing worse than seeing a team lined up at the blueline and half of them look like Danny DeVito.

So a big shout-out to the big guys, including the new Norwegian, Andreas Martinsen, who used his 6’3″, 220 lb frame to rattle bones all evening.

Shea Weber would score the game’s lone goal in the first period after a fine faceoff win by new guy Steve Ott, while in the second, Artturi Lehkonen and Andrew Shaw would bulge the twine and make things a healthy 3-0.

In the third, arch-enemy Chris Kreider would narrow it to 3-1, but Jordie Benn’s shot from the blueline found it’s way past Henrik Lundqvist, and it ended as a mighty fine Habs road win and a beauty of a five-game winning streak.

All in all, an impressive showing by the Canadiens who now shift focus to their trip west, beginning with Vancouver on Tuesday.

Six straight would be nice.

 

Habs Ruin Old Friend’s Party

It may have been a PK Subban love-in at the Bell, but it never meant the Canadiens would fold up the tent just because they’re gracious hosts.

And although the visitors mostly smothered the bleu, blanc et rouge for much of the night, it was a never-say-die, never stop working display by the Habs, and two guys mired in horrendous slumps, Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron, finally came through in a huge way.

Now, regardless of a slew of players still not producing, the team has found a way to win their last four, and teams behind them in the standings hoping to catch up, might now realize that it might not happen after all.

Three overtime wins and a regulation win decided with nine seconds left in the third period. You want a character team? I’d say there’s been plenty of character shown lately.

It certainly wasn’t easy against Subban and his Nashville Predators. There was simply no room to move for the home team, and if the Canadiens were going to win, they knew it could take a lucky break to kick start it, which is what happened.

Hard work behind the Preds net resulted in Gally coming out and wrapping around, with the puck bouncing in off a Preds skate, and suddenly, in almost shocking fashion considering the way the night had gone, the game was tied.

Then, with the clock ticking down and overtime looming, Paul Byron fired up the burners, raced in from outside the blueline, and the puck found it’s way past Pekka Rinne with just nine seconds left.

Four straight, with half the team slumping in a big way. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but whatever.

Random Notes:

The pre-game video ceremony in tribute to PK Subban was touching, and tears rolled down his face. Now, is it possible for fans to finally embrace Shea Weber and move on? We’ve got a Cup to win.

Habs outshot the Preds 26-25.

The Canadiens have scored only179 goals so far, with 17 games remaining. Last season, the one we don’t really want to talk about, they scored a total of 221 over 82 games, which was also lousy.

So out with the trusty calculator, which shows they’ll need to score 42 more goals to tie last season’s effort, which comes to almost 2.50 goals per game. The way they’ve been going lately, it doesn’t seem possible. But who knows?

Next up – Saturday in New York to tackle the Rangers.

 

The Dismal Beat Goes On

Late-’80s Claude Julien.

The wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens were rusty and sloppy in Claude Julien’s 2017 coaching debut, and their 3-1 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Jets ruined what could have been a fun breakout party for the new Blind River bench boss.

Probably rusty because they had five days off. And sloppy, regardless of who’s behind the bench. Nothing new about their sloppiness. They’d probably be a mess if Toe Blake was behind them.

Was any part of this loss Julien’s fault?

If he was Kreskin, he might have plunked Nathan Beaulieu into the press box pre-game, before this mediocre defenceman could think he was Bobby Orr during a second period power play, and which quickly showed he’s no Bobby Orr.

Or Gaston Gingras for that matter.

Beaulieu decided to do some fancy stickhanding and was promptly stripped of the puck by Joel Armia, who walked in and tied it.

And because Julien didn’t have his skates on, he couldn’t be on the ice at 1:16 of the third when Emelin, Weber, Plekanec, Danault and Max decided to show their soft and tender side as Big Buff muscled his way in from the right side and found Mathieu Perreault, who notched the winner easy as pie.

Winnipeg’s third goal was an empty-netter, so I guess Julien can’t be blamed for that one either.

Wasn’t Carey Price’s fault either, as the big fellow snagged shots left and right, including lightning-quick glove hand robbery on rookie star Patrick Laine’s laser in the first period and then again in the third, plus coming up big a plethora of other times throughout.

Price was his old self, which is a good thing. So were his teammates, which is a bad thing.

Gump Worsley, manning the pipes for the New York Rangers in the late-’50s, was asked what team gave him the most trouble. Gump answered, “the Rangers”.

Price can say exactly the same thing about his teammates. Coverage means more than just car and house insurance, boys.

Random Notes:

Jets outshot the Habs 33-20.

Either the Sens or Leafs will win tonight, considering they play each other. Which means if the Sens win they’ll be within two points of Montreal, and if the Leafs pull it out, they’ll be just five back. Both teams also have games in hand on the Canadiens.