Category Archives: New York Rangers

Jacques Plante In Full Concentration

Of the gazillions of Habs’ photos in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours, this is one of my favourites. It’s 1958, Madison Square Gardens in New York, and Jacques Plante and Tom Johnson try to stop a Rangers attack, which I’m sure they had no problem doing.

The Ranger in front of Johnson is Camille (the eel) Henry.

The fans are paying strict attention. They were probably wishing their team was as good as the guys in white.

Stan Fischler Tells Us About Chris Chelios And Other Habs In 1988

I pulled this book from my bookcase because it was there and I was bored. It’s called Breakaway 88-89. written by Stan and Shirley Fischler, and it’s billed on the front cover as “The Essential Viewer’s Guide to the NHL.”

 

“I wouldn’t think of broadcasting a game without consulting Breakaway” gushes John Davidson. “If it’s not in my briefcase on a road trip, I’m in trouble.”

 

Don Cherry adds, “Everything anyone would want to know about the 1988-89 season.”

 

Here’s some of what Fischler wrote. Just keep in mind that it was Fischler who said Carey Price is a bum.

 

“There is so much conflict inside the Montreal Canadiens’ dressing year after year that one sometimes gets the feeling that the United Nations’ Security Council should be convened to handle the matter of who’s right and who’s wrong with the Habs. Consider:

 

-On a trip to Chicago, Chris Chelios engaged coach Jean Perron in a public argument on the team bench at Chicago Stadium.

 

-A mutiny threatened when Chelios accused teammate Chris Nilan of telling young defenceman Mike Lalor that the other backliners planned to convince Perron to employ only five defencemen – excluding Lalor.

 

-Perron angered French-speaking players on his team by declaring that some francophone Canadiens tend to think they’re big shots and need to be cut down to size.

 

-Nilan openly criticized Perron, asked to be traded and was dealt to the New York Rangers.

 

-Veteran defenceman Larry Robinson told friends he was tired of all the politics on the team and also took Perron to task. Eventually, Perron was fired.

 

Smartest Hab – Bobby Smith

Most entertaining/quotable – Craig Ludwig

Most overrated – Chris Chelios

 

Patrick Roy: He often falls prey to the inherent drawback of that style – flopping is not a precise science (as opposed to playing the angles), which makes it tough for him to duplicate his success.

Halak and Mates Punch The Clock And Put In A Good Shift

They reported for work at Madison Square Gardens, punched the clock, settled in, worked hard, and took it to the hometown Rangers 6-3. And in the process, the Canadiens leapfrog both the Rangers and Flyers in the standings, and now sit behind only Washington and Boston for top spot in the east.

 

The storyline easily could be Robert Lang, who potted three big goals. Or the storyline could be two big power play goals, something the Habs have missed for most of the first half of the season. Or the story could have been a disciplined game with only a handful of penalties taken, or also the work again of Maxim Lapierre, Steve Begin, Guillaume Latendresse and the other blue collar boys.

 

But for me, the biggest storyline was the great play of Jaroslav Halak in goal. Carey Price is still out and looks like it might be a while, and Halak has looked shaky at best in most previous starts. But not tonight. He was solid from start to finish, made the big saves, and looked confident and in control.

 

This was a nice win tonight. Especially considering the team is without Koivu, Higgins, Tanguay, Price, Dandenault, and Georges Laraque. Although truthfully, Laraque has contributed very little so far this year.

 

Now it’s back home to meet the Leafs tomorrow night. The team has to keep it going. And Halak has to look as good as he did tonight.

 

If the team continues to play like this, the future looks bright.

 

Game Note:

 

Pierre McGuire talks too much. If he’s such a brilliant hockey mind, why hasn’t a team hired him and paid him several million dollars to lead them to the promised land?

Twenty Four Hours Is Too Early For NY Papers To Mention The Habs And The Game

I decided to check the New York papers to see what they might be saying there about the big up-and-coming game Wednesday night between the Rangers and the Habs.

 

The New York Post, the Daily News, and the New York Times didn’t mention a thing. Everything was about the Rangers beating Pittsburgh 4-0 the other night. So that was a waste of time.

 

I did, however, learn that some Ranger fans call Crosby, “Cindy” Crosby.

Late, Great Enemy Watch News. Thank You Sabres and Panthers!

The Buffalo Sabres beat Boston 4-2 in Boston today. This ends the Bruins’ ten-game winning streak. It’s so nice to see this over-achieving band of Beantown gangsters lose, and hopefully it’s the beginning of many more losses to come.

 

Also….Florida took it to Pittsburgh, winning 6-1 in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby was in a couple of fights, the goon.

Thank you Florida. I’ll try to be nicer to you in the future. 

 

Later on, two Habs enemies clash with each other when the Rangers play Washington. It’s a no-win situation here. We need both to lose somehow. Also, hopefully Tampa Bay can beat Carolina and LA destroys Philadelphia.

 

It’s all for the good of the Habs, people.

Looking Back To New Year’s Eve 1975. John Robertson Said It With Style

I could hardly wait for that New Year’s Eve of 1975 when the Russian Red Army team would show up at the Forum to play my team. I had been mesmorized by the events of the 1972 Summit Series, and we had seen what this far-away power could do. But this was going to be different. This time the foreigners would have to play the best team in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens, with players like Lafleur, Dryden, Robinson and Cournoyer ready to strut their stuff. And this time, unlike 1972, Habs Ken Dryden, Yvon Cournoyer, Serge Savard, the Mahovlich boys, and Guy Lapointe, who all played in that historic series, would know what to expect.

I watched the game, which ended in a 3-3 tie, in a highrise apartment in Ottawa with friends, and although they didn’t win, I was proud of the Habs. They dominated this game, outshot the Russians 38-13, and it was only because of goalie Vladislav Tretiak that the Soviets were able to keep it close.

And I knew one thing. That I had just witnessed the greatest game I’d ever seen.

Three days later, on January 3, 1976, a column written by John Robertson apppeared in the Montreal Gazette, and I clipped it out and saved it. It’s an elequent overview of what transpired that night, and I’d like to share it with you.

It’s called “Torrid Tie Tempts Taste Of Things To Come.”

“I had picked the Canadiens to win and, like most of you, I suffered the agonies of the damned when big Tretiak chose this of all nights to come up with the most magnificent display of clutch goaltending these eyes have ever seen.

But as the game wound down to the closing minutes and I sat bathed in clammy sweat with my heart pounding like a jackhammer inside my shirt, I suddenly started dreading that either side would score.

A last minute-minute goal would have meant that there had to be a loser and somehow that would have spoiled it all……..either for the valiant Tretiak or for a Canadiens squad which left me limp with admiration for the way they devastated the myth that the Russians are invincible.

Had either side won, there would be less reason for a rematch and for purely selfish reasons I didn’t want the issue of which side was better clearly settled in just one game.

A rematch? Hell, yes! Let’s make it a best-of-seven, or a best-of-eleven. That was just the appetizer! Let’s bring on the main course and keep filling our plates until we burst with ecstacy because no other team can bring out the best in the Canadiens like the Russian’s did on New Year’s Eve and that’s what hockey’s all about, isn’t it?

Spare me those bleats that the Russians were lucky, that the Canadiens should have won by seven or eight goals, that it was no contest except on the scoreboard.

The scoreboard doesn’t lie.

And any team that can survive that kind of a performance by the Canadiens, claw back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits and come within a goalpost of beating them deserves the same share of admiration we bestow upon the home club.

The beautiful aspect of the game is that it raised more questions in our mind than it supplied answers.

On one hand we saw a Russian team dominated territorially as it had never been in the last decade of international hockey. On the other hand, nobody has beaten them yet on this eight-game tour and if the Canadiens couldn’t do it, are Boston or Philadelphia capable of playing even better?

Lest we forget, the Russians have compiled a rather remarkable record in their jousts with Team Canada ’72, Team Canada ’74, and in this series. In 19 games they’be been beaten only five times.

But even these figures are by no means conclusive because of the variety of opposition they have played. The WHA All-Stars were no better than a good NHL team and even at that they were better than the Rangers or the Penguins.

So nothing has been resolved.

And I kind of hope that it never will be. It’s no disgrace for either side to lose any one game or any one series. The thing all good hockey fans should dread is the day either ourselves or the Russians become so clearly superior the outcome will be a foregone conclusion.

From a fan standpoint in both countries, NHL-Russian confrontations are like a visit to hockey heaven. Too much expansion has reduced most of the NHL season to a big yawn and the Russians have so dominated the World Hockey Championships they’ve run out of meaningful opposition.

A lot of myths have been destroyed since that epic confrontation in 1972 – the first one being that the Russians weren’t in the same class as the NHL.

The second myth which the Canadiens substantially destroyed in one brilliant evening was that superior training methods and rigid discipline had bred a brand of Russian hockey supermen who could beat us on conditioning alone.

The Canadiens proved that, with maximum effort, a club of their calibre in mid-season form can match the Russians stride for stride and thoroughly outplay them at their own game of firewagon hockey.

The most touching aspect of the New Year’s Eve game was the tremendous ovation our fans gave Tretiak as he skated out to bath in the glory of being chosen first star.

Among the things it proved to me was that good hockey fans aren’t letting fanatical patriotism get in the way of their appreciation of true artistry.

We can still take immense pride in being Canadians and be fiercely patisan in cheering on the home team but it is gratifying to see that these matches are becoming less and less political; that we now look forward to them as true sportmanlike competitions between two hockey systems, not mana-wars pitting the free world against communism.

The Canadiens proved the Russians can be beaten, simply by the way they tied them. But until they DO beat them convincingly, the issue of who is better remains unresolved.

So, instead of gloating over the way the Russians were outplayed, I suggest we celebrate the fact these two teams surely will meet again and that the big winners, no matter what the scoreboard says, will be all of us who are fortunate enough to watch hockey as it should be played.

We also can rest assured that in spite of those fat NHL salaries and luxury living, we have a team in this city which has proven beyond all doubt that it has all the old-fashioned ingredients of a champion….hunger, dedication, and pride.

All that has been lacking was a challenge of sufficient magnitude. Let’s play it again, Sam….and again….and again….and again. I’m sure Tretiak and company would relish it as much as we would.”

Another Night, Another Hero. This Time – Maxim Lapierre

Maxim Lapierre, in front of what seemed like hundreds of fans wearing Montreal sweaters in Florida, did what Andrei Kostitsyn did the other night. The much-improved forward scored three big goals, like Kostitsyn, in leading his team to another big win, this time 5-2 against the Panthers.

 

This isn’t the first time Lapierre’s had a big game this year. But it’s the first time he’s scored a hat trick, and it was nice to see Guy Carbonneau put the blue collar worker on the ice with Florida’s net empty to let him try to get that third, which he did with only seconds left.

 

It was a fine win, and everyone played well. And without sounding overly-optimistic, it really looks like the team has picked it up a serious notch.

 

Now it’s on to Tampa Bay for a Tuesday night visit, and of course we need the two points to end off 2008.

 

And right now, as you’re reading this, Steve Begin’s cheekbone is still smarting after his enthusiastic scuffle with Anthony Stewart.

 

Lapierre and Begin. Doing their part for the team. You gotta love it.

 

Game Notes:

 

This was the Canadiens’ 3000th franchise win and puts them into fourth place in the east.

 

It’s a curious thing about Maxim Lapierre. I see a hard-working, valuable player for the Habs, while  announcers like Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire keep reminding us of how much Lapierre is disliked by opposing players around the league. Frankly, I think these guys in the booth are just blowing smoke. 

 

How much fun must it be to be a snowbird spending your winters in Florida and going to see your team, the Canadiens, when they come-a-calling. There were so many folks in the stands wearing Habs sweaters, and cheering like crazy. Surely it must piss off Panthers fans who must endure this in their own building.

These Habs fans even did the “Carey” chant, and also sang both the ‘na na na, goodbye’ song and the ‘ole’ song. It was almost like watching the game in Montreal.

 

ENEMY WATCH

 

The Rangers won 5-4 over the Islanders, which is bad news. Why oh why, Islanders, do you have to be so lousy?

 

 

Carey Price And Andrei Kostitsyn Beat The Penguins

On paper it was a solid 3-2 road win for the Canadiens. But in reality, they got through by the skin of their teeth against a dangerous Pittsburgh team led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin, of course.

 

But no matter. A win is a win is a win. And anytime you see Carey Price stand on his head like he did tonight, you know it can only be a good sign. Price on top of his game means Price is on top of his game. (You know what I mean.)

 

And anytime you see Andre Kostitsyn come through in a big way, in this case three goals after just returning to the lineup, and you also know someone else is chipping in while guys like Alex Kovalev, Alex Tanguay, and Tom Plekanec were asleep at the wheel for the most part.

 

It’s always a good win when you’re not firing on all cylinders and still get it done, and Montreal now heads down to Florida with a nice two points in the bag.

 

Hey, we’ll take it. On paper it was a solid win.

 

Game Notes:

 

The Habs play the Panthers Monday and Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Four big points here would be a great way to close off the year.

 

ENEMY WATCH

 

New Jersey beat the Rangers. This is good as the Rangers drop to third place with 47 points, only three more than the Habs who remain fifth in the east.  Good job, Devils. Just don’t think about catching the Habs.

The Real Season Is About To Begin. Help The Right Teams To Lose

The second season is about to begin and it’s where men are separated from boys. It’s where the Habs will begin to mount their serious climb up the summit. But a lot of it is up to us. We need to know how to watch and cheer against certain teams. It’s crucial that we send out good vibrations to the Canadiens and bad vibrations to the rest.

 

It all begins Saturday night when the good guys demolish the Pittsburgh Penguins. And then we start rolling.

 

There’s many villains involved, and we need to watch them closely as this second half of the season unfolds.  

 

Montreal sits in fifth place in the east with 42 points. So for us to properly watch hockey, we must concentrate on the four teams ahead of them – Boston -54 points, Rangers – 47, Washington – 45, and Philadelphia – 45.

 

There are also four teams behind the Canadiens to keep an eye on too. New Jersey – 41 points. Pittsburgh – 40, and Buffalo and Carolina with 37.

 

All of these teams must lose. Lose like crazy. These are bad friggin teams. Wretched teams. The players on these teams aren’t nice people. Especially Boston’s number 17, Susan Lucci, and most of the Flyers for that matter.

 

Imagine if Philadelphia finished ahead of Montreal in the standings? I think I’d feel kind of dirty all over if that happened.

 

And Boston, we want to crash and burn, collapse, fold, quit, choke, lose big and lose often. It’s not right that this team should be doing so well. It’s almost unnatural.

 

The next six months are going to be great. But a lot of it will be up to us. Let’s get going.

 

And don’t forget to send those good vibes to our Juniors too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Mats Has Almost Decided Which Team Will Pay Him Millions

And the heavenly saint spoke.

 

“I have decided to let both the Rangers and Canucks trample over each other to be first in line to pay me millions for the last half of the season even though I’m 38 years old and might score 10 goals providing I stay healthy.”

 

And fans in New York and Vancouver rejoiced even though their teams are probably going nowhere.