Category Archives: NHL playoffs

The Violence Post

Enjoyed very much seeing Pens backstopper Marc-Andre Fleury blow it last night and allow the Columbus Blue Jackets to even the series. Fleury fumbled the puck at the boards near his net, the Jackets grabbed it and tied the game with 22.5 seconds left, and then in overtime Fleury fluffed a long shot from Nick Foligno.

Remember when Fleury and Peter Budaj almost came to blows back on January 22nd? Fleury had this huge grin on his face that cried out to be shut tight with a solid right into grinning mouth, stopping just short of his tonsils and causing him to pick pieces of teeth and throat mucus out of his mashed potatoes for the following month.

Zdeno Chara laughed in the face of Detroit’s Brendan Smith when the two stood toe to toe Sunday night, and how great it would’ve been to see Smith throw a punch and flatten Chara’s nose. Chara is 6’9″, but his nose is only four feet long and possibly made of the same stuff as humans. So it could be breakable.

It would be cool to see an accidental stick land hard between Milan Lucic’s legs tonight. Strictly accidental because I don’t condone violence. But enough to cause Lucic to squeal like a pig for the next three weeks and speak like Cindy Lauper forever after.

A seven-game suspension for Matt Cooke? When he gets back, his Wild teammates and Avs’ Tyson Barrie should meet him at the golf course and one after another practice prostate examinations with their wedge irons. Maybe use wooden-shaft Ben Hogan-endorsed models that might accidentally break halfway up.

Sit Back And Enjoy Others Pound Away

Isn’t it nice to sit back, put the feet up, smile, light a stogie, stretch, hum a tune, clean ear wax, and watch other teams beat each other with sticks while our team has already got the job done?

At this point in time, Boston leads Detroit 2-1, Pittsburgh is winning 2 games to 1 over Columbus, the Rangers are up 2-1 on Philly, San Jose holds a huge 3-0 lead over L.A., Anaheim is leading Dallas 2-1, St. Louis has a 2-1 edge on Chicago, and Colorado leads Minnesota 2-1.

Of course by the time you might read this, it’ll have changed. But no matter. Change, don’t change. Whatever.

We’re relaxed. We watch without jitters. Our team is moving on, which is just about as good or better than anything we do with our clothes on.

And should we root for Detroit or Boston to play our Canadiens? With Detroit we’d be up against a talented, great skating team that for the most part plays it clean.

With Boston, there’s talent and a plethora of ugliness and uncouthness.

Maybe at this point I’m going with Detroit, really for no particular reason other than the Canadiens might stand less of a chance of getting injured.

And if it’s Detroit, it won’t take long for me to despise them as much as any other team playing the good guys from Montreal because that’s what we do. We hate the other team because they’re trying to get in the way of our happiness.

Montreal went 3-1 against the Bruins this year, and 2-1 against Detroit.

 

Moving On From The Non-Goal

Not that I want to, but I suppose the thing to do is mention more about the goal/non-goal from Sunday’s game at the Bell Centre.

I’d prefer to move on and think about the guys getting it done in four games and continue to work on the power play during practice.

Frankly, it’s not the first or last time a disputed goal decision will be made. We’ll probably see several other instances in other series as we move along. Maybe as early as tonight.

The fact is, as mentioned by TSN’s Darren Dreger, the idea was put forth at one the general managers’ meetings, held in some palm tree-laden resort with a golf course, that monitors should be set up at the timekeepers bench where referees could have a look and see exactly what went down.

But the GMs dismissed the idea. It was probably getting close to tee time.

Tampa’s fans can complain but I’ll bet Jon Cooper and his players are now only concerned with game four. And this non/goal shouldn’t turn into the distorted opinion that it was a big turning point in the series. The Canadiens have outplayed Tampa in all three games for the most part, and Tampa should never have allowed Rene Bourque to bulge the twine after just eleven seconds (which is the fastest goal to start a playoff game at the Bell Centre).

But I expect the whining because it’s what I’d be doing if it had happened to the Canadiens.

The other chatter that just won’t quit is the hit to the head of Steven Stamkos by Alexei Emelin as Emelin was hurtling past him.  I’ve watched it several times, it happened quickly, seemed absolutely unintentional, and we’ve seen Emelin enough to know that it’s not his style to hurt, except for those thunderous bodychecks that rattle bones but are clean as a whistle.

Emelin’s not Matt Cooke or Raffi Torres or any of these dudes who have a reputation for such nastiness. He’s a punishing checker who caught Stamkos’ head by accident as he was flying through. Very unfortunate and I hope the Lightning star is 100%.

Hopefully this series ends soon so the only ones left to talk about all of this will be Tampa Bay folks. The Canadiens will have other fish to fry.

Canadiens Push Tampa To The Edge

Whew. That was stressful. But the boys prevailed, edge the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2, take a 3-0 lead in the series, and I’ll bet the bars and restaurants in downtown Montreal were rockin’ afterwards.

Of course, more will be said about a controversial non-goal by the Lightning than the fact that the Canadiens never panicked and held the fort when Tampa picked it up a few notches in the second and third period.

Frankly, the disallowed goal was a tough judgement call, there was some interference with Carey Price, although it might have had nothing to do with the puck going in.

The bottom line for me is, the Canadiens have their fair share of calls go against them in games over the years. Every team has. It’s hockey, the game is over, the boys won, we feel good, and that’s that.

It was a barnburner for sure. From the pre-game light show that began with the Stanley Cup banners lighting up one by one, to the amazing display on the ice of past and present players and voices, of Rocket hugging the Cup, Beliveau celebrating, Lafleur charging up the ice, and guys on the present team going full-tilt.

There was the kid wearing number 9, lighting things up with the torch. And legendary Ginette Reno belting out Oh Canada.

It’s the kind of thing only Montreal can do. With Habs haters grudgingly admitting it’s done well here, although complaining about the Cup banners and Habs fans stuck in the glory days sort of thing I suppose.

Just eleven seconds in, after Madame Reno had belted out the anthem and the puck was dropped, Rene Bourque burst in and beat Anders Lindback and it was 1-0.

Pre-game goosebumps and an early goal that latecomers missed because they had one extra beer at the Peel Pub.

Bourque once again played a fine game, used his size and great skating ability, and was dangerous often. It only took him 83 games to wake up. Is that an NHL record?

Every year the playoffs produce an unsuspecting star, one we would never predict in a million years.

So far in this series it’s been Rene Bourque, the one many of us wanted out of town on the next stagecoach. He’s gone from dreadfully ineffective to hugely effective. Who knew?

The biggest problem on the night was the Canadiens inability to bulge the twine on a big four-minute power play in the first frame, although they looked good and moved the puck around well.

Looking good and moving the puck around doesn’t guarantee goals though. But it kind of bodes well for the future.

They couldn’t score on that four-minute power play, and in the second, Tampa, newly-invigorated and playing with desperation, would tie it up. And it was after that that the controversial no-goal decision was made that would have given the visitors a 2-1 lead but didn’t.

P.K. Subban then dazzled with a rush that brought him around the back of Tampa’s goal, sent the puck over to Brendan Gallagher, and it was a 2-1 Habs lead instead of the other way around.

Absolutely exciting period, edge of the seat type stuff, and the third would be too.

Tomas Plekanec would send his team into a two-goal lead but a Tampa long shot flew by a screened Carey Price, which made for a seriously nerve-wracking finish, ending with a sigh of relief for everyone except Lightning fans as the Canadiens squeeze it out 3-2, and the noose is tightened.

The vibes around Montreal today were extraordinary, even in St. Hubert. Hockey was in the air. The flags were flying. I can only imagine what it’ll be like leading up to Tuesday’s game four.

A  stranglehold on the series. Finish it off in four and practice the power play. It’s the one achilles’ heel on a team that is playing well overall. The Canadiens went 0-5 in this game, which is just about the norm nowadays.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot TB 31-29.

Max had some great chances to break out of his scoring drought, but remains snakebitten. It’s coming though. We know how it works with him. Often it’s a flukey goal that lights the fuse.

Injured Alex Galchenyuk must surely be wishing he was out there being a part of this.

 

 

 

 

 

Solid In Tampa

The Tampa Bay Lightning may have enjoyed a decent first period, but it was all Montreal for the next two, a completely solid and impressive showing by Les Glorieux, a 4-1 win that puts the boys two games up on the road.

All they have to do is keep doing what they’ve been doing – skate hard, constantly forecheck, get scoring from guys who don’t always score, look confident with the puck, enjoy each others company, dispose of the Tampa Bay Lightning as soon as possible, get some rest, heal some wounds, and watch players in other series pound each other into the ground.

Am I getting too far ahead of myself? Enjoying the moment.

Rene Bourque shone with two big goals that included barging in and sneaking it in beside the post, and a great play where he swung around the net and banked it in off Kristers Gudlevskis who had  replaced a yanked Anders Lindback.

Carey Price was back to the Carey Price we know and love after a slightly disturbing performance in game one. He was in control, it showed from the beginning, and it was a different feeling watching him from the the previous game. I think Stephane Waite had a good chat with him.

Just proud as punch about what’s transpired. Both games in Tampa won. My hears soars like a Joe Bonamassa guitar solo.

The game began with a Lightning team that was alive, but so was Carey Price. And at the other end, Lindback stopped Brian Gionta and Max, both of whom barged into the clear but were denied.

But the beginning of the second period was the beginning of the end for the home team. A power play goal that saw David Desharnais deflect a P.K. blast. Rene Bourque would notch his first. And Brandon Prust would plant fist onto the hairy face of Radko Gudas, with Prust scoring on the punch clock.

Ray Ferraro said on the radio before the series began that Habs fans will very quickly learn to hate Radko Gudas, but so far, he’s just another small bump in the road that hasn’t slowed the Habs tank down one bit.

The second was a much better period for the Canadiens, and in the third it was all them again.A goal by Brendan Gallagher and that was it for Lindback. And Bourque’s wraparound made it 4-0 and there was no way the Lightning would catch up, although they managed to make it 4-1 on a late power play with the goalie pulled.

Imagine if Bourque, Briere and Eller put it all together for the next while like they have for these two games. With them and the rest going, with Price at the top of his game, and with me wearing the same socks for as long as they win, the sky’s the limit.

Alexei Emelin was thumpin’ and bumpin’, Max was full of vim and vigour, P.K. and Gallagher too, and it was a truly impressive showing by all the guys in Florida.

Tampa and their fans know now they’re in a bit of a pickle.

Random Notes:

Tampa outshot Montreal 27-26 but definitely didn’t outplay them.

The Lightning also have a goaltending problem on their hands. The problem of not having a number one for the entire series.

Game three at the Bell on Sunday night and preparing to take a stranglehold. Ain’t life grand!

 

 

The FACC Coming Up Fast

Forget about the NHL playoffs, it’s good and all that, but the First Annual Classic Challenge goes in a week and I’m sort of ready.

A day off with pay for is at stake. Are you kidding me?

Classic Auctions employees, wives and kids have been split into two teams and I’m thankful we have five-year old Leo Brodeur on our team. Leo burned it up in atom action this year and I`m expecting big things from him.

Luci’s not playing because she’s never been on skates. And a few years ago she took shots at the Hockey Hall of Fame with a radar gun clocking it and the puck went about two miles an hour. So she’s not ready.

I’m ready, although I’d only played in two beer league games in Powell River in 1996 or so, played a little bit about ten years before that, and played 20 years before that when I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for the Byers Bulldozers Juveniles.

So if I do the math, that’s just a few games played in almost 50 years.

But I have new skates, and because I have no other equipment, I’ve borrowed two different Habs game-worn gloves from work that almost match. I’m expecting magic from those gloves.

I’ve been loaned shin pads but I think they’re going to be too heavy so I plan on making cardboard ones. And also from work is a helmet with a cage. I’ve never worn a cage before but I need to protect my devilish good looks.

I suppose I should buy a cup and jockstrap but maybe I can just tape on a lid from a small preserving jar.

Yes, the NHL playoffs are exciting, dramatic, tense, beautiful, and thrilling. But they’re not the First Annual Classic Challenge.

 

 

 

 

Weise Ends It

Dale Weise would score at 19:08 of of the first overtime frame to give his and our Montreal Canadiens a 5-4 win and and a nice one-game lead in what should be an outstanding series.

Fast paced, close, tense, some bad blood, and the right team winning. Now that’s hockey!

The Canadiens easily could have lost though, especially after allowing four goals on just fourteen shots. But thanks to some timely goals and Weise pulling the trigger, all’s well in Habsland.

Carey Price wasn’t particularly sharp, but the Canadiens were still able to get it done, even with him being slightly shaky, and the boys on this night outplayed Tampa for most of the first period, much of the second and third, and most of the overtime.

It was one of those nights that whenever play moved into Montreal’s end, the possibility was there that things could go south quickly. And four times it did.

But the Canadiens never let things get out of hand, they scored some timely goals, and that big first game is won by the team that should have and did.

Tampa had opened the scoring in the first period but just nineteen seconds later, Tomas Plekanec wired it home and the teams went to their rooms all even, although Montreal had outshot the Floridians 14-4.

In the second frame, not long after Brendan Gallagher took a puck in the throat from an Alexei Emelin shot from the blueline, Steven Stamkos would notch his first of two on the night and put his team ahead 2-1. Gallagher would return thankfully. But he might not be happy with Emelin.

Back and forth it went, playoff hockey at its finest, fans everywhere on the edge of their seats and couches I’m sure, and in the midst of scrums and battles, Brian Gionta would take a nice pass from Lars Eller and score a big shorthanded marker that caused Luci and I to yell and once again scare the cat that has happened far too often this year.

It’s going to be a long series for the cat.

The Canadiens would take the lead in the third period after Brian Gionta had corralled the puck at his blueline and got it to Lars Eller who danced up the ice and found the back of the net. A beautiful goal, and the Eller, Gionta and Bourque line skated well and created chances all evening. Hell, all the lines skated well I thought.

Sidenote: P.K. Stock said we have one good line and the other three suck. Just so you know.

One of my big dreams is to be rich enough so I could have spare TVs and whenever Stock comes on, I shoot the TV out the way Elvis used to.

Again the pesky Lightning would reply after a turnover, and the way Price was looking in nets, I experienced one of those strong sinking feelings that I’m really not crazy about.

Things would perk up though after Thomas Vanek converted a great pass from David Desharnais, but Steven Stamkos wasn’t through on the night as his second goal would even things at four apiece. Tampa’s captain is dangerous. Therrien’s gonna have to come up with a plan to calm this guy down down.

Sadly, Montreal’s power play continues to shoot blanks, and when they were given a power play with just 2:01 left in the third, the chance to win it was there on a silver platter. But again…..

Montreal’s man advantage at this stage of the year is confused and non-threatening. Throw out the power play drills they recently did in practice and come up with some new ones. Ask PJ Stock. Maybe he can help.

Overtime almost ended quickly when Max rang one off the post, and usually after something like that happens, the other teams scores. But Tampa didn’t, Dale Weise did, and at that point, I breathed a sigh of relief and now my heart is soaring like a Tawny-Headed Mountain-Finch.

Game two on Friday. Without sounding like a greedy bastard, another win would be good.

Habs outshot Tampa 44-25 on the night.

It’s Time

Finally it begins, 198 days from that dark October 1st evening when the Canadiens would lose 4-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.

Through highs and lows they took us, from four and five-game winning streaks to three and four-game losing streaks. But they always kept pace, always stayed in the hunt from start to finish.

Up and down we went, and in the end, when the long 82-game regular season finally drew to a close, we found our team finishing fourth in the east, a  fine100-point season to be proud of, with a goalie at the top of his game and a team that slowly but surely created chemistry within its ranks and a new and forceful first line in place.

Tampa’s number one goaltender Ben Bishop won’t start and we don’t know if he’ll even finish. Brandon Prust seems ready to go. The penalty killing has been spectacular. And our goaltender backstopped Team Canada to gold at Sochi and carries on now as the best in the business.

I’m not going to try and dissect the lines and matchups, or who’s dressing and who isn’t. I prefer to see how everything unfolds. Criticism can wait until it’s well-deserved.

For now, for me at least, it’s time to get excited, nervous and more than hopeful, and embrace the Montreal Canadiens as they attempt to give us and themselves what we last saw in 1993.

It’s time once again to bring out Annakin Slayd’s “Feels Like ’93″.

It’s Their Own Fault

Tampa won the game they had to win, a 1-0 shootout over Washington, and the Canadiens couldn’t solve a New York Islanders team they should have easily beaten.

Thus, the Canadiens lose home ice advantage.

It’s their own fault. The playoffs are hard enough without handing home ice to the other team but they made their bed. The best thing to do now is win in less than seven so Tampa’s home ice is all for naught.

It’s also very interesting to see how a couple of things play out Tampa Bay-wise.

Will Ben Bishop suit up in the series? And what’s going to happen to Ryan Malone, who was busted early Saturday on a DUI and possession of a gram and a half of cocaine? One would have to think he’s in a heap of trouble.

In 1977 Rangers forward Don Murdoch was busted at the Toronto airport with 4.5 grams of coke and was suspended by the league for an entire season, although it was lifted after 40 games.

If Ryan Malone laces up in the playoffs, it won’t seem right. I’m anxious to hear what happens. Will the league put the hammer down on this? And will they do it right away?

Malone’s also a bit of a dirty player who cold-cocked Chris Campoli back in 2011 (no suspension), and head-hunted Alexei Emelin in a game in 2012 after Emelin had leveled him with an old-time cruncher that was clean as a whistle.

This time around, it’s not an-ice problem. Cocaine and a DUI is a mighty serious combo, terrible for the Lightning and the NHL. The rep takes a hit. Not exactly role model type of stuff for kids to read and hear about.

Bishop on the other hand is a different story. He’s injured but if he’s healthy and plays, that’s fine. But if he doesn’t play, them’s the breaks.

 

Leafs Tickets

The Leafs had some fine teams once upon a time, and scoring a ticket for the normal hockey fan with no connections was tough. Almost impossible.

You’d think nowadays would be a cinch but I know it’s not. Maybe within the next few years I’ll give it a shot when the Habs play there.

A couple of replies from the Gardens back in the ’60s. And at least they replied.

Even though on the first one they spelled my name “Lane”.