Category Archives: New York Rangers

Canadiens Take It to The Rangers And Play A Fine, Fine Game

 

I’d say there’s a lot of things to smile about tonight. This solid 6-2 win over the NY Rangers had to be the Canadiens’ best game of the season. Everyone contributed, and although Alex Kovalev has now gone 15 games without a goal, he was effective and creative, and at least managed an assist.

 

From the beginning, when Bobby Rousseau, Pocket Rocket, Guy Lafleur and others including old Rangers greats like Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell, were introduced, it was an outstanding night. This was the first time I’d seen Rousseau in about 35 years. Lafleur got the chant, and everyone was applauded heartily. And rightfully so, Pocket got a standing ovation. If I could’ve been there, I would have been proud to give this little big man a big thank you.

 

And the team, for a nice, delightful change, was smoking.

 

This is the Montreal Canadiens we’ve been waiting for. Andrei Kostitysn has come alive, coincidently since his brother Sergei was sat down a couple of games ago. The grinders, Maxim Lapierre and Steve Begin, continue to pick it up a notch and this is a huge turn of events. Newcomer Matt D’Agostini scored again for the second night, and added an assist. And Georges Laraque earned his first point of the season with an assist on Lapierre’s second period goal.

 

There were no dumb penalties, no serious turnovers, no blunders whatsoever. It looks like a team coming together, and D’Agostini has produced while underachievers Guillaume Latendresse, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Ryan O’Byrne sit in the press box and think that maybe they should have done a bit better job.

 

The team seems to have tightened up, turned a corner, stepped it up, and maybe, just maybe, are fed up with their lacklustre start to the season and have decided to do something about it.

 

Let’s see a continuation of this Saturday when the New Jersey Devils are in town. I don’t even mind that I have to go to work tonight for a graveyard shift. This game has made my day.   

 

Game Notes:

 

The Canadiens wore the uniform of the 1915-1916 Habs, the team that won the first of 24 Stanley Cups. And Carey Price wore pads and gloves resembling the old leather ones, although these are state of the art, unlike the ones worn by Georges Vezina who was the goalie back then.

 

TSN’s Sportcentre listed their top ten Montreal Canadiens and I have no qualms with these choices.

 

1.  Maurice Richard

2. Jean Beliveau

3. Doug Harvey

4. Guy Lafleur

5. Howie Morenz

6. Jacques Plante

7. Patrick Roy

8. Larry Robinson

9. Henri Richard

10. Ken Dryden

 

 

 

Time To Sink Their Teeth Into The NY Rangers. That Means Kovy Of Course.

  With the New York Rangers in town Thursday to lose to the Habs, I thought I’d show you this nice picture of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Oh, sorry, that’s Gump Worsley, who joined the Canadiens in 1963 when he part of a major deal involving him, Dave Balon, Leon Rochefort, and Len Ronson going to Montreal, for Jacques Plante, Phil Goyette, and Don Marshall.

 

When the Gumper was with the Rangers, he was asked by a reporter which team gave him the most trouble. He answered, “the Rangers.” 

 

Other important things to note about the Rangers:

 

Alex Kovalev was one once. He was drafted in the first round by them (15th overall) in 1991 and played until early into the 1998 season. How great would it be if he broke out of his massive slump against his old team?

 

Sean Avery was also a Ranger. He joined them after playing for both the Detroit Red Wings and the LA Kings. The Rangers were a sloppy third.

 

They’ve got two guys from Anchorage, Alaska – Scott Gomez and Brandon Dubinsky, for what it’s worth.

 

They have 36 points to the Habs 32, but have played three more games than Montreal.

 

Their lineup consists of 8 Canadians, 6 Americans, and 8 Euros. Many of them like women.

 

 

 

Jean Beliveau Gives His Thoughts While In Vancouver

Jean Beliveau was in Vancouver this weekend and gave a really nice interview with The Province’s Jim Jamieson. I thought you might like it. 

 

Q: What does the 100th anniversary of the Canadiens mean to you?

A: I find myself to be very fortunate to be part of it; I’ve been with them since Oct. 3, 1953 when I signed my first contract. I’m a very lucky man. I’ve never been traded and been with the organization for 55 years.

 

Q: How is your health these days? You had some health issues about eight years ago.

A: One morning I was shaving and noticed something on my neck. It turned out to be a malignant tumour. I had 36 treatments of radiation. It’s been 8 1/2 years and we are more optimistic every year.

 

Q: How many children do you and your wife have?

A: I have one daughter who is 51 and two grand-daughters, 24 and 22. The first one is an artist, she paints; and the second is a nurse.

 

Q: You auctioned off some of your memorabilia earlier this year in aid of the Jean Beliveau Foundation. What does your foundation do?

A: When I retired in 1971, the Canadiens presented me with a cheque for $155,000 and I turned it into a fund. In 1993, I turned it over to the Quebec Society for Crippled Children. Now the foundation is worth about $1.5 million and we have given about $1.5 million. I’m very proud.

 

Q: You were a part of the great Canadiens teams that won five straight Stanley Cups in the last half of the 1950’s. With today’s salary cap in the NHL, do you think we’ll ever see that happen again?

A: In today’s hockey it’s going to be difficult. A team is built around four or five guys, if you’re lucky enough to have them. But it’s very difficult to keep them now. If you start playing young, you’re free at 26. Teams have to rebuild all the time.

 

Q: We seem to be seeing more hits from behind and shots to the head today. What would you do to reduce it?

A: I played 23 years and never wore a helmet. I don’t know how players can hit someone from behind when he’s facing the glass. I have a hard time with that. I hope the league finds a way to get rid of it before somebody gets seriously hurt. If you’re suspended it hits the pocketbook.

 

Q: Who was the most difficult goaltender, defenceman and forward that you ever played against?

A: I always had a lot of respect for Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk. On defence there were some great ones – Bobby Orr, because of his speed, won the scoring championship. Red Kelly in Detroit also, but every team had a great defenceman when there was just six teams. At forward, I always had respect for Gordie Howe. He could do everything. Every time we played Chicago I was out against [Stan] Mikita and against Toronto it was [Dave] Keon. The Rangers had Jean Ratelle and [Rod] Gilbert, but there were so many others.

 

Q: Who was the best player you played with on the Canadiens?

A: Well, Maurice [Richard] of course, but I used to play with him mostly on the power play. My line was [Bernie “Boom Boom”] Geoffrion and Bert Olmstead, so we had two offensive lines and a good checking line. Also, we had Doug Harvey on defence. He could control the speed of the game like a general out there.

 

Q: The Canadiens power play was so dominant in the 1950’s that you actually forced the NHL to change the minor-penalty rule because your team would often score multiple goals on the same man advantage.

A: We had Maurice on the right, Bert Olmstead or Dickie Moore on the left, and and Harvey and Geoffrion on the point. One night against Boston (Nov. 5, 1955) I got three goals in 44 seconds on the power play. So they changed the rule that a player would come out of the box after one goal.

 

Q: How have you seen the NHL change through expansion?

A: I’m not surprised there are a few cities in the south that seem to have problems. Here in Canada, everybody has skated and they know about the game. In the morning when I check the summary of the games, I look at shots and attendance. In the US, the attendance is increasing it seems after the Super Bowl.

 

Copyright (c) The Province

Carey Price And The Grinders Come Up Big

Bell Centre

Montreal

November 29, 2008

Montreal vs. Buffalo

 

First period:

 

Good, spirited, fast-skating, lively first period. The Canadiens look good. And of course, they’re doing all the things they’re really good at – turning the puck over and the other team scores (Higgins this time), and not scoring themselves. They’re really good at both of these things.

Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu, Tomas Plekanec, Higgins, the Kostitsyn’s etc. etc, – they’re really, really good at not scoring. Especially on the power play and even strength. 

 

But I’ve got faith.

 

Second period:

 

Andrei Kostitsyn’s backhander finds the twine, so I take back anything bad I said about him.

 

Like I said in the first period, one of the things we’re really good at is giving the puck away, and this time it’s Josh Gorges, which leads to a Tomas Vanek goal. It’s kind of funny in a morbid sort of way. Every game it’s a different player.

 

Steve Begin scores on a beauty play with Maxim Lapierre. That’s what I like. Grinders producing when the big guns are silent.

 

Andrei Markov, on a snappy set-up by Saku Koivu, gives the Habs a 3-2 lead. I’m on the verge of taking back every bad thing I’ve ever said about everybody.

 

Third period:

 

I take back every bad thing I ever said. The boys played good tonight and won 3-2. Oh, of course there were the bad moments – Sergei Kostitsyn taking a foolish penalty (several, in fact), and the team had real trouble getting the puck out of their end late in the game, but they played well and they won.

 

I’m proud of them.

 

 

Game Notes:

 

Maxim Lapierre played a great game tonight, probably his best of the year. We saw several flashes of this last year, and finally the guy shows us again.

 

This Sabres game marks the beginning of ten home games out of eleven. The boys play seven straight, starting with the Buffalo game, and continue with Atlanta, the Rangers, Devils, Flames, Lightning, and Caps all visitng the Bell centre.

The team plays one road game, in Carolina, and then comes back home again to greet the Flyers, Sabres, and Hurricanes.

 

In other words, they’re going to drive their wives and kids crazy for awhile, with the naps and pre-game meals and all that. Not to mention the other stuff.

And hopefully, a long home stand means a long winning streak.

 

Micro Look At The Eastern Standings. Leafs Sniffing At The Habs.

The goods news is, Montreal has played less games than most, only 15.

 

The bad news is, they’re in tenth place overall, with Buffalo, Vancouver, Minnesota, Washington, Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit, the Rangers, and the Sharks all above them, with the Sharks leading the pack.

 

The really bad news is the Toronto Maple Leafs are only two points behind them, although the Torontonians have played three more games.

 

Regardless, the Leafs shouldn’t be in the same air space as Montreal. Vancouver shouldn’t be ahead of them. And I hate it when Boston’s ahead of them.

 

Start turning this around tonight, boys, when you play St. Louis. Otherwise, me and a handful of other bloggers are going to have to take the team over and do the coaching.

Gary Bettman Wets The Bed, And Other Hockey Thoughts

Hockey items you could discuss with your friends after five or six beer:

 

The Philadelphia Flyers have sent Steve Downey down to their AHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Players around the NHL now stand a much better chance of not having their skulls cracked. AHL players, however, are putting extra padding in their helmets and have told their wives to remarry if anything happens to them.

Steve Downey is Sean Avery on crystal meth.

 

Gary Bettman says everything’s rosy in the the league and so talk of a team in Canada is silly, especially the part about having two franchises in the Toronto area. Bettman may or may not have said this as he overlooked the three franchises around New York from his office window.

 

This is a guy who probably even makes French-Canadian oldtimers long for Clarence Campbell.

And why are teams like Atlanta, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix etc. so important to the little man, and placing a team in Canada isn’t?

There has to be a reason. I just don’t know what the reason is. Is he getting fat little Christmas bonuses from people?

Was the bully who picked on Bettman in school a transplanted Canadian?

 

Rumours contimue about Wild star Marian Gaborik being traded to Montreal. I’m assuming Gary Bettman is against this because if it makes the Habs even stronger and even more of a Cup contender, the Stanley Cup could end up in the dreaded backwaters of Canada, one of the commissioner’s worst nightmares.

 

And one of my worst nightmares is a major trade involving the Canadiens which disrupts the harmony and chemistry they’ve got going now.  If they landed Gaborik for future draft picks only, then great. But they’d need to clear out some salaries to make room for him, which means moving some existing players.

Is this a good idea?

 

Did the Boomer-Pocket commercial make you smile?

 

Bobby Clarke says Sean Avery is an idiot and someone should punch him out. Of course, when Clarke played, he was an angelic, gentlemanly fellow whom the whole hockey world loved. But aside from that, I completely agree with him.

 

This five-game break in the schedule for the Canadiens may or may not suck. Players can nurse their wounds and certain things can be worked out in practices, but geez, they’ve been on such a roll. And don’t forget about the poor wives who have to put up with them for this long. This isn’t normal for the little ladies.

Hope all this doesn’t affect the big game against Anaheim Saturday night.

 

Is it possible Gary Bettman told the schedule planners to give good Canadian teams big long days off to disrupt their play?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking At The Standings Because It’s Interesting

Now that the dust has sort of settled on getting the season underway, it’s a little disturbing to see the Buffalo Sabres playing so well. They have the same record as Montreal – 4 wins and a shootout loss for nine points, for goodness sakes. Even with those George Jetson jerseys.

 

The Sabres will come back down to earth shortly. I’m sure they will.

 

There’s good news, though, and the good news is that the Philadelphia Flyers, the team Steve Downey plays for, hasn’t won yet in five games. It doesn’t get much better than that!

 

The Florida Panthers are in Montreal Monday night to play the Habs. I know I say every game that the two points that night are extra important for the Canadiens,  so I’ll just say it again. These two points are extra important for the Canadiens. Gotta catch those Rangers.

 

Florida should be in Hamilton. Or Halifax, or Winnipeg, or Saskatoon, or Quebec City.

 

Why is there hockey in Miami, Florida?

 

I know there’s lots of snowbirds in Florida who are big hockey fans, but that’s not good enough. The team’s drawing only around 12,000 a game, and so now they’re giving away a pair of free tickets as long as you can show a Florida driving license. Miami people need to be at dog races and jai alai tournaments. Not hockey games.

 

Also interesting in the standings is Tampa Bay’s start. They’re winless after five games. And this with two new owners, the firing of coach John Tortorella, and the hiring of Barry Melrose. So it’s not going well for all concerned except Tortorella, who’s now providing reasonable thoughts on TSN. (Except for his prediction of who will win the Cup.)

 

Montreal sits in second place in the east with those bastard Buffalonians, with the Rangers leading with 13. But New York has played several more games than anyone else so the standings are slightly cockeyed. And there’s a handful of teams just behind Montreal and Buffalo, like New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Washington.

 

San Jose’s leading the west with St. Louis, Minnesota, and Edmonton hot on the trail. Both Edmonton and Minnesota are undefeated at 4-0.

 

And John Tortorella thinks San Jose will win the Cup.

 

 

My Evil Thoughts About Detroit, Which I Feel Bad About…Plus…What It’s Going To Take For The Habs To Do It.

Pittsburgh doesn’t worry me. Either does Boston, or Buffalo, or Tampa Bay, or the Rangers. Calgary doesn’t worry me, or Dallas, Anaheim, Vancouver, and Colorado.

 

In fact, no team worries me about getting in the way of Montreal’s big season. Except Detroit. They worry me. Not a lot, mind you. Montreal will take out any team. This is the year.

 

But Detroit is a concern.

 

It isn’t even so much that the Wings landed Marion Hossa. And I’m not at all concerned about Kris Draper and Tomas Holmstrom or most of this team for that matter, including Johan Franzen, who is probably just a one-hit wonder like Iron Butterfly was with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita.

 

 It’s three other guys in the Motor City I’m not crazy about.

 

I’m hoping Nick Lidstrom pulls a hamstring. Maybe a couple of times. And maybe Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg could break a finger or two. Nothing serious, just a finger. Even a pinky finger. They can still make whoopee with their wives. They just can’t shoot the puck.

 

But regardless.

 

This is the Year of the Habs. And all that needs to happen is this:

 

Carey Price, with a year under his belt, can’t be tired at the end of the regular season, and his confidence can’t take a nap at any stage in the year.

 

The defence, led by Mike Komisarek and Andrei Markov, has to play mean and ugly and dangerous. And this also means Ryan O’Byrne. He in particular has to play with an edge that scares the bejeesus out of opposing players. 

 

Up front, Saku Koivu needs to have one of his best years ever. Alex Kovalev has to take his magic into the playoffs. And Tomas Plekanec needs to become a household name throughout the league.

 

Alex Tanguay has to play like he’s been a Hab for years.

 

It’s time for Chris Higgins to become a real star this year. A big star. A huge star.

 

The Kostitsyn boys have to continue to blossom, as they’re expected to do.

 

Robert Lang has to make us all forget what Mats Sundin might have done in Montreal and be the final piece of the puzzle that’s been missing.

 

Guillaume Latendresse has to finally become a player. It’s time. We’ve been waiting patiently. 

 

Tom Kostopoulos, Steve Begin, Josh Gorges, Francis Bouillon and the rest just need to keep doing what they did last year because they were great.

 

Georges Laraque has to become the new John Ferguson.

 

The team needs to have a very fine power play again, like last year. And they have to score a lot of goals, like last year.

 

And they have to be stingy with goals against.

 

Youppi has to relive past glory and become the mascot he was with the Expos.

 

The Ole song must only be sung when the team’s about to win, not when it’s close.

 

And everyone, please stay healthy. (I’ve noticed that Koivu and Laraque are already nursing minor injuries.)

 

And that’s it. It’s simple!

 

Pre-season update:

The boys lose big to Boston 8-3, but take out Buffalo in Roberval, 3-2.

And with those cameras so low at the Roberval arena, it felt like we were there, in about the fourth row. It reminded me of the outdoor game in Edmonton a few years back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If The Canucks And Leafs Went Head To Head, Would You Stay Awake?

Every good Habs fan hates the Leafs. It’s normal, like breathing, or liking Playboy magazine. The Leafs smell. They damaged the lining of our noses last year and the year before and the years before that. And nothing’s going to change this year or the next. Because they’re the Leafs.

 

Unfortunately, they often play well against Montreal, for whatever reason. Probably the only time they look like a team is when they play the Canadiens.

 

Maybe Charles Darwin, if alive, could explain it.

 

Then there’s the Vancouver Canucks. I live up the coast from Vancouver, in the heart of Canucks fanland, and the Canucks are another team that disappoints their fans most years. Lately they’ve been non-factors in any playoffs they’re involved in. They go through coaches, there’s been infighting with past and present ownership, and there’s the lingering odour of the Bertuzzi incident. The hockey has been boring for the faithful. Heck, even Mark Messier playing there was a non-event.

 

And I know from growing up back east that the Vancouver Canucks mean very little to many easterners. The games are usually on too late. Canucks players are generally not on the minds of eastern hockey fans. And people are busy hating the Leafs.

 

Other western teams have fared better with eastern fans. Edmonton had the Gretzky and Messier years, and Calgary had a couple of Stanley Cup finals with Montreal, losing to Patrick Roy and the boys in 1986, but winning in 1989. And so we came to know Calgary players a little more, like Al McInnes, Mike Vernon, Jim Peplinski, Tim Hunter, Theoren Fleury et al.

 

And they had that ‘Red Mile’ thing going when they made it to the finals again in 2004.

 

The Canucks have had none of the kinds of things Edmonton and Calgary have had, although they did make it interesting in 1994 when they came within a goal of winning the Cup that year against the Rangers.

 

So my question is; If the Leafs and the Canucks somehow by magic ended up in the Stanley Cup final, who would you cheer for? One team is despised, the other means very little to you. 

 

I say you have to go for the Canucks, only because they’re not the Leafs.  

 

Or you could go camping instead.

 

 

The Toronto Maple Leafs (How Can I Say It Politely), Will Smell Like Farm Animal Excretement

Hockey fans became completely sick of hearing Mats Sundin’s name about a month ago, and so I apologize for mentioning it now. But His Majesty is on the verge now of announcing whether he will retire or play, so I thought I’d get just a little head start on this.

 

If he plays, there’s always the chance he’ll rejoin his old club, the Toronto Maple Leafs. But I just had a look at the Leafs’ 2008-2009 roster, and maybe His Majesty should consider retiring. Wow! Harold Ballard and girlfriend Yolanda would’ve made this club. King Clancy would’ve made this team, when he was in his eighties.

Several of the hot dog vendors would make this team.  Prince Philip could make this team. Richard Simmons would be on the first line. My daughter’s baby would make this team, and the baby’s not even born yet.

 

The Leafs best player just may be ex-Hab Mikhail Grabovski. And they’ve added Rangers goon Ryan Hollweg, a guy who blows his mind way too often. There was no room for him anymore in New York, but of course there’s lots of room for him in Toronto.

 

Jason Blake will be their leader, like Jean Beliveau, the Rocket, Mark Messier, Joe Sakic, and Steve Yzerman were for their teams. You bet!

 

And I could mention the other Leaf players on the roster but you wouldn’t care anyway.

 

Toronto fans will pack the place every night to see one of the most inconsequential teams in Toronto ever.

 

Mats Sundin will make his choice soon. He can join the Leafs. He can join some good teams like the Habs. He can retire. Or he can help old pal Borje Salming with his underwear business. We’ll see shortly.

 

Sorry to mention his name. Also sorry to mention the Leafs.