Category Archives: NHL playoffs

Three Stories From Way Back

Three short stories on this April day as we enjoy all the Canadian teams in the playoffs.

Beef cattle, farm pond, Oklahoma

My friend and I (he doesn’t like me talking about him so I’ll just call him Fred), stuck out our thumbs in Vancouver back in the fall of 1969 and began to slowly make our way across the country to Orillia.

Late at night in Swift Current we hopped on a boxcar and rode for several hours until we saw the lights of Moose Jaw in the distance. We’d been warned that if yard security caught us we would end up in jail and that would’ve sucked, so we needed to jump off before the train reached the end.

As we began to slow down, Fred said we should jump and off he went, right into a cow pond that got him drenched from head to toe and smelling like a sewage plant.

About twenty seconds later, the train came to a complete stop and I walked off.

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tooth

My friends and I used to drink Four Aces sherry (95 cents) and other such marvels, down in the bush with the hobos. These old hobos would sit in their clearing deep in the forest, grumbling and cursing but not really talking a lot, with their campfire burning and bottles emptying, and we’d join them because it was safe as we were usually underage at that time.

After guzzling my Four Aces on one of these visits, I threw up and staggered out of Hobo Jungle, but minutes later realized that I’d lost my false tooth and plate. So I staggered back through the bush in complete darkness, and somewhere along the line put my hand down on the ground.

Although I couldn’t see a thing and was blind drunk, my hand landed right on my false tooth.

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school-trip-1-638

In grade ten my school organized a class trip to Ottawa, but students had to have half-decent marks to qualify.

I didn’t qualify.

But I really wanted to go on the class trip, so I rounded up my friend Craig Ortiz and we hitchhiked there instead.

At the start, just outside of Orillia, we hid in the ditch as the school buses with all those students who were smarter than me passed us, but because we were lucky with rides, we beat those buses to Ottawa. At the Lord Elgin Hotel, where they were checking in, we surprised everyone and were allowed by the teachers to sleep on the floor of someone’s room.

It was good fun I think, but hitchhiking back sucked and Craig and I ended up at the Lindsay police station where we asked a cop if we could sleep in a cell that night because it was freezing cold, and he obliged.

Back at school, Craig and I were each given a month’s detention.

 

 

Well I Woke Up Sunday Morning

It’s Sunday morning and although the grass needs cutting, I can’t get out there and do it because a little baby is sleeping. What a fantastic excuse!

Nathan Beaulieu has signed a two-year contact with the Habs, at a million per. Great to  have this done, it doesn’t break the bank, and it should inspire the young fellow to be all he can be and ink a whopper in a few years.

It seems like only yesterday that we debated the idea of who would win a full-time job first, Beaulieu or Jarred Tinordi, but Beaulieu came through with his skating, puckhandling and poise, while Tinordi lagged behind because of his tentativeness with the puck. But we can’t give up on the big fellow, mainly because he’s a big fellow.

And regarding Beaulieu and his dad’s assault charge in 2013, it came to light only recently that the two had heard someone at a party saying Kane’s blog sucked and they naturally took matters into their own hands. “Nobody says that and gets away with it,” said papa Jacques Beaulieu.

The Leafs have signed former Leaf Wally Stanowski to a one-year deal. Stanowski, 96, says he’s anxious to suit up as it’s been awhile, and if someone can help him onto the ice and then off again, he feels he should be at least as mobile as Dion Phaneuf, and probably a better fighter.

Below, Wally at a recent press conference. “With Montreal inking Beaulieu, we felt this signing was necessary to keep pace,” said Leafs president Brendan Shanahan. “All we ask is that he quits smoking.”

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Other tidits: The Chicago Blackhawks have taken a 3-2 series over Tampa Bay, the Arizona Coyotes are in building lease trouble, and NBC’s Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus says playoff beards should go.

It’s hard to know which is the most important of the three. Probably the Cup Final, although as a Habs fan, any playoff passion has been squeezed out like that last drop from a bottle of Four Aces. And then, of course, the Coyotes situation, which everyone should be used to by now, and which could possibly end with Quebec getting their well-deserved team.

But the beard thing is definitely important too.

“I just don’t like the beards,” said Lazarus. “You can’t see their faces. Although, for that very reason, it was good when Brad Marchand grew one.”

For me, I don’t know what to think. The Rocket and Beliveau never grew playoff beards. What about that?

Below, Lazarus at his recent press conference, explaining the beard problem.

beard

Habs Gone With The Wind

Call me crazy, but I thought the Canadiens would play like gangbusters in game six. I guess I’ve never been more wrong.

The team that had stormed back from being down three games to none to make it a 3-2 series played like lethargic bums on Tuesday night and are now forced to sit at the cottage and clubhouse all summer and dwell on how they fizzled out instead of fighting with all their might to carry on down the trail to Lord Stanley’s old mug.

A dismal 4-1 spanking at the hands of the Lightning. Not in it from the first minute to the last.  Checked into the ground, with absolutely no pressure on Ben Bishop who had plenty of time to scan the crowd for lovely ladies.

It’s difficult to understand. Maybe the Canadiens were just too spent. Out of gas as they scrambled to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. There’s a reason why most teams don’t come back. Because the hole’s a deep bastard.

But talk about going out with a whimper. A surprising display of ………not much at all. A measly 6 shots in the first, 7 in the second, 6 in the third, from a team fighting for their life. From a team that was supposed to have character, but ultimately didn’t have firepower, or a half-decent power play.

It’s never easy when the team bows out. We hope and expect and cheer heartily and then hope some more. But in the end, they were completely outmatched for some reason, and now we have to hope about next year instead.

I remain proud of my team.

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I’ll be off and on this site all summer if you feel like stopping by. Unlike previous summers when I posted every day throughout, I have serious things to attend to this time around, which will take much of my time. But I think a few hours here and there on the computer will be good for me.

I’ll be around. You and I have to figure out how to make the 2015-16 team better than this one.

And I suppose now’s as good a time as any to post my golf picture.

From my old scrapbook – The Rocket and Arnold Palmer shoot the breeze when they were in New York in 1961. The two legends were honored by the S. Rae Hickok Co. as Athletes of the Decade in their respective sports.

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Hey Ghosts, Break’s Over

Sent over by Mike McKim, this article in Grantland.com – Battling the Ghosts by Sean McIndoe, talks about the Habs/ Lightning series, the old Forum and it’s replacement the Bell Centre, along with the distance between the two barns in different ways.

McIndoe also notes the apparent absence of Forum ghosts who were suppose to pack up and move over when the old cathedral closed its doors, but seem to be taking their time. If they came at all.

Contrary to what many think, I believe the Forum ghosts did make their way over to the Bell Centre in 1996, but they’ve had so much fun reminiscing, with the hangovers never ending and good times just rolling along, and they simply haven’t gotten around to modern day Habs teams yet, except for some fine times against Boston.

And they were on the job in the 2010 playoffs, at least for a few magical rounds. But all in all, they’ve really slacked off.

I can’t blame the ghosts. They welcome old buddies almost non-stop, so they party hard and tell tall tales, and lately, with Jean and Gilles and Elmer and Dollard and coach Ruel moving upstairs, there’s way too much to do in just a short amount of time.

Guys have to come from all corners of heaven to meet at the rebuilt Toe Blake’s Tavern. Fedora’s have to be dusted off. Someone has to be in charge of cigars at the corner tobacco store. It’s been tradition to have music greet the new guys, so Benny Goodman or Sinatra or Elvis have to be rounded up and sent to Toe’s.

So much to do, and we expect them to do more? Yes we do, because we believe in a serious work ethic from our ghosts,

It’s time to get off your behinds, ghosts. The boys down below need some guidance. Morenz only took 7 years after passing before lending a helping hand. What’s going on, Rocket? What’s the holdup?

And surely Toe and Dick Sr. can get the power play in sync, although it appears they might already be working on it.

All of you. Coffee break’s over. Up and at ’em.

Toe's

 

 

 

Sean’s Fine Piece

This story –  Canadiens Extend Series, is written by my friend Sean Farrell, who, when he’s not covering the Habs for Canadiens.com and NHL.com, works at Classic Auctions near Montreal, where I also worked before moving back to the West Coast.

Sean and I did the exact same job – we wrote descriptions of rare and unique hockey items for the auction catalogues.

During our big company hockey game a couple of winters ago, Sean tended goal and I was a smallish-yet-shifty forward on the team that won the game and in doing so, we got a day off with pay. It was a beautiful moment.

Sean also spent a season a few years back covering the Ottawa Senators for NHL.com, but is back where he belongs, taking care of Habs business.

 

Still Alive After Game Five!

The Montreal Canadiens are alive and well and clawing back after edging Tampa Bay 2-1 win in a game five thriller at a noisy and electric Bell Centre.

Now it’s back to the Sunshine State for a Tuesday night showdown, with the Habs feeling good and finding momentum, and the Lightning slightly on their heels and wondering how they squandered a 3-0 series lead and now could be screwed.

If you have to work Tuesday evening, quit. If you’re getting married that night, don’t. If your baby is due around game time, have it at home in front of the TV.

What a great game this Saturday night affair in Montreal was, wild and wooly, with the Habs grabbing the lead nine minutes into the first period when Devante Smith-Pelly’s wrist shot rang off the crossbar and in doing so, took the all-important lead and gave us big time hope.

Exciting and wondrous, and my pulse raced and my heart skipped several beats. Quivering sensations ran up and down my body. Just really nice camera shots of Angela Price.

The team had been a tad outmatched in the beginning, but Smith-Pelly’s goal reversed the flow. After that, the boys looked much better, their power play, although not scoring, was impressive as they moved the puck around, and the period also saw three pucks banged off posts behind and around Ben Bishop.

In final frame the Bolts pushed hard and were rewarded with a Steven Stamkos goal, and I’m assuming that Habs fans who bite their fingernails chewed hard. For me, because I don’t bite my nails, I gnawed on my arms.

As nerve-wracking as can be, but with the clock winding down, PA Parenteau took a PK Subban pass and just as Smith-Pelly had done in the first period, rang the puck off the crossbar and into the netting. The home team held on, we breathed a big and happy sigh of relief, and I wrapped my arms with towels to stop the bleeding.

Can they do it again and then again after that? Of course they can, because momentum has swung, the guys can taste and feel it, they’re playing well now and the power play seems on the verge. The Lightning also know they’ve been outmatched often in the series.

But the Canadiens have to play another beauty on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday. They can do it. Everybody knows it now.

Carey Price has been as cool as a cucumber of course, and was brilliant, especially when he robbed Val Flippula with a glove save when Tampa was pushing early in the third. Price did his job and the gang in front of him went about their business and got it done. And it was only just a few days ago that I decided that I hated hockey.

Ben Bishop was good too, although high shots seem to trouble him, he’s a bit of a complainer, and in heavy traffic he goes down more than Linda Lovelace. Maybe a few more high shots past him and we’ll see that lousy Russian guy between the pipes again!

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot the visitors 29-25, and although they once again went 0 for 3 on the power, they looked great with the man advantage, especially with Jeff Petry quarterbacking from the blueline. They controlled things in slick fashion and came within a whisker of scoring several times.

They also stayed out of the penalty box all evening.

Tuesday, and remember – don’t work that night, don’t get married, and if you have a baby, have it in the TV room.

 

 

Boys Bomb Bolts

Such a character win by the Canadiens. I’m prouder than a peacock.

They’ve could’ve folded the tent after that murderous last-second goal in game three, but instead, they game out flying, got that first goal early, then another and another, and the series now shifts back to Montreal after the gang that couldn’t shoot straight took out the cocky Lightning with a tremendous 6-2 shellacking.

It was interesting to see one of the Tampa players in the corridor minutes before the game, shown during the first intermission, singing and having a grand old time. Sing some more, buddy. Maybe the blues? Maybe a hurtin’ tune?

Finally the breaks went the Canadiens way. Pucks that stayed out before went in this time. Ben Bishop was chased after the third goal and his replacement, Andrei Vasilevsky, was fairly lousy. Fans left early to water their palm tress.

Heck, Montreal even managed a power play goal, which in itself, is a mind blower of epic proportions. And Max’s shorthanded marker left me hanging from the chandelier.

Two goals in the first period, beginning with Andrei Markov converting a PK setup from a slightly difficult angle.

Next was Max’s shorty, and in the second period, Bishop was yanked after gloving a DD slapshot but then losing it. Craig Simpson on HNIC disagreed with coach Jon Cooper’s decision to switch goalies, but it worked for me.

The score became a juicy 4-0 when Jeff Petry, on the power play, finished it off after PK and Chucky and the gang threw it around in fine style, and just 15 seconds later, Brendan Gallagher let go a blast from the right side that Vasilevsky is still looking for.

It was good, real good, although Tampa would beat Carey Price twice after the 5-0 score was built, with their second just 17 seconds into the third. The Lightning weren’t going to pot three more, no way, but I was nervous anyway.

Brandon Prust converted Lars Eller’s rebound in the third period, the Bolts were officially fried, and it’s back to the Bell for a rousing game five and another one shift, one game at a time deal.

Random Notes:

Canadiens once again handily outshot Tampa, this time 40-24. Last night it was 31-19. And people say the Lightning are the better team?

I saw the game in a somewhat different place with a bunch of distractions that included that call from producers telling me I’m a “World’s Most Handsome Man” finalist. Pissed me off. So did that photo shoot with the Playboy bunnies during the second intermission.

But I still saw the game. I just wish these people would leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

Not Much To Say

I’ll be a man of few words here. I need to get to the local drug dealer and stock up. Without him I’m not able to face reality.

It seemed like only yesterday when the Canadiens were making us excited and hopeful. And then the playoffs started.

They played a fine game and should’ve won the thing, but they couldn’t beat Ben Bishop (aside from Brendan Gallagher’s third period marker), there wasn’t a break to be had as pucks came oh so close, some hit posts, the big bastard stopped 30 shots, and all in all, Montreal could’ve racked up four or five goals if even a bit of luck was on their side.

Tampa even went 16 minutes in the second period without recording one measly shot on Carey Price. And they still won.

The home team made it 2-1 with just over a second remaining in the third period, and things are grimmer than grim for the team everyone hates except 10 million of us worldwide. And now they’re down 3-0 in the series.

Just over a second left. Where’s that drug dealer?

The Canadiens haven’t bested the Bolts even once this year (8 games), and it could all come to a crashing halt on Thursday night.

Unless they play like they did tonight and things go their way for a change.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Lightning 31-19 and were 0 for 2 on the power play.

Up Against The Brotherhood?

Former referee Kerry Fraser says that after the Brandon Prust/Brad Watson dustup, the Canadiens will be in tough against not only Tampa, but the zebras as well – Refs Will Punish.

Officials are a brotherhood and they don’t like being shown up, is what Fraser more or less said as he backed off from his hairspray for a few seconds.

What happened to the idea that officials simply make the right call, regardless of the team? That’s what it’s supposed to be, but now they’re going to let things slide in favour of the Lightning?

Is this professional? Are the officials going to have a say in how this series plays out because Brad Watson isn’t crazy about Brandon Prust? What kind of third world sport are we dealing with here?

Not to excuse Prust or his teammates. They were all pathetic in game 2 and deserved to lose, although they were still in the game until PK was sent to the box near the end of the first period for a needless crosscheck and Tampa scored with just 24 seconds left to grab the lead and the momentum.

The Habs can’t score, and their special teams are the opposite of special. Can’t put ’em in and can’t keep ’em out. They were horrible in game two.  It was embarrassing. And I’m worried about Maripier Morin and how she’s holding up.

But if they come out in game 3 and play a great game but get shanked by the referees and lose a heartbreaker because of the striped brotherhood’s ‘all for one, one for all’ mentality,  after Fraser said what he said, do you think the league might call a few of the culprits up on the carpet and maybe change the way things are done? Or maybe not?

Habs haters are all over this. We’re a whiny bunch and getting what we deserve, they say as they scratch themselves and smash empty beer cans against their head. And if the Canadiens lose because the officials decided such, they’ll laugh and carry on and scratch and smash beer cans, until it happens to their team. Then they’ll cry that life isn’t fair and it’s only the Montreal Canadiens that get the sweet calls.

And one last thing before I sign off and cut the lawn. At least Prust showed fire, unlike so many others.