Category Archives: NHL playoffs

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

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