Category Archives: Ottawa Senators

A View From Above

Here it is, the latest look at the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System, showing nice amounts of yellow spread out over what amounts to more than half the season completed (45 games played, eighth best overall).

As you can see, the only real slump was back in the latter part of November and into early December when the boys lost six of seven games. And January shows a bit of a dip but nothing serious.

All in all, a fine season so far, with a big test coming up in early March when they hit the big three in California and shortly after tackle the Lightning, Sens, Islanders, and then Lightning again.

Isn’t this more fun than watching the All-Star Game?

tracker

003

Sliced By Sens

Reasonably lousy effort from the Canadiens in Ottawa Thursday night as they drop a 4-1 decision to the Sens after being outchecked, outhit, and outshot, and outplayed.

And of course, after a Habs power play that had come alive the previous night and scored three times, on this night it was back to reality as the team went 0 for 4, which is what we’re more accustomed to. Can’t expect a fine power play two games in a row, can we?

The Sens were the better team, which sucks to say considering my utter disdain for them. They had the Habs bottled up throughout, lined up like a wall when play was coming toward them, and Bobby Ryan and company must have had their fans wondering all evening why they’re not able to perform like this on more of a regular basis.

But as well as Ottawa played, if the Canadiens hadn’t been so soft around Dustin Tokarski, they might’ve been able to make a game of it. Soft and casual play in Montreal’s end led to the Sens first two goals, while an Erik Karlsson blast made it 3-1. Ottawa would also score on the empty net, while at the other end, Montreal’s guns were seized up.

For the Canadiens, Max would make it interesting early on when his 21st goal of the season (and 6th straight game with at least a goal) would tie it at one apiece. Jiri Sekac has a couple of great chances, including dinging one off the post. And Lars Eller skated miles all night and found himself with several great chances (although on one of Lars’ chances, he should’ve tried burying it instead of passing it across into traffic, which made me yell at the TV and scare the cat who already has health issues).

Mostly though, as a whole the boys stunk. But we’ve seen this before, doses of mediocrity mixed with in with runs of solid play that continues to see them at or near the top of the class. We’re a greedy bunch, us fans, and watching Le Tricolore fall flat against some bums up the road definitely smells.

Random Notes:

Ottawa outshot the Canadiens 35-26.

Dustin Tokarski came up big several times and did his job. Now Toker might ride the pines until February 8th, the next back to back situation. But rust can never sleep.

Next up – Saturday, when the really good Islanders visit the Bell.

 

 

PP Springs Into Action

Down 2-0 in the third period and 0 for 5 on the power play. But that was then.

The Canadiens’ tremendously lousy power play (28th overall) finally came to life in the final frame and not once, not twice, but three times the boys on the man-advantage got the job done and ended up sinking the home town Blue Jackets with a deserving come-from-behind 3-2 win.

Deserving because they outplayed Columbus throughout, with the final shots-on-goal tally reading Habs 31, Jackets 16. Tons of Habs chances but great goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky. Often frustrating, and the Canadiens were almost shut out.

But they weren’t shut out, and they also didn’t lose. An excellent example of how important the power play is, and how the Canadiens would kick it up a huge notch if they could get the thing under control. Three straight PP goals is a fine step in the right direction.

A decent road win and two big points. But I don’t understand Michel Therrien’s newest pre-game decisions/stategy.

Prior to this contest, Montreal had lost their last two games, but before that had posted a very fine 9 wins in 10 games. So was a complete juggling of lines called for?

Two losses wasn’t a freefall into the depths of hell. Why break up linemates accustomed to each other? Lines that had posted that incredible run.

Why would Galchenyuk find himself centering Prust and Parenteau and then Sekac and Bournival, instead of being between Max and Gally where he’s found a nice home? Why demote Sekac to the fourth line when he’s slowly but surely becoming one of the team’s most dangerous forwards?

Two losses shouldn’t bring about a complete shakeup. Of course, those with advanced stats might hang me out to dry with clear and reasonable answers that had never occurred to me, but I couldn’t care less. In my eyes, it was an unnecessary pulling of strings that reeked of desperation.

Random Notes:

Two of the Canadiens’ power play goals came from Max, with the other a blast from PK.

Speaking of PK, several turnovers and a penalty which led to a Jackets goal didn’t exactly make for a stellar game from our man who should be on the All-Star team but isn’t because the NHL continues their long-existing habit of being supremely stupid.

Brendan Gallagher might have put the puck behind the line, although it was called back because there was no clear closeup of whether it did or not. So in 2015, with all the money spent to have a plethora of cameras from different angles, the technology still isn’t perfect. Several years of future GM winter meetings should fix that. Possibly.

Next up – Thursday night in Ottawa.

 

Habs Crush Sens

Canadiens dump the Sens 4-1 at the Bell, although it didn’t begin well. Sven Andrighetto stumbled and lost the puck on a Canadiens power play, which led to a puck sent gently at Carey Price who let it drop by his feet and promptly banged in by the bad guys.

But it ended well.

Still in the first, Brandon Prust tied it with a shot from a difficult angle.
Max to Chucky to Gally, bang, bang, bang, and it was 2-1 in the second.
And then in  the third, Plekanec on the power play and later Max to Emelin to Chucky, another bang, bang, banger, and what began in dubious fashion ended as a nice 4-1 win for the good guys.

I don’t have any fancy advanced stats to throw out. Frankly, I’m not interested. But I can tell you that whenever announcer Paul Romanuk called Cody Ceci’s name, I thought of what Lucy had told me – that Ceci in Russian is slang for women’s breasts.

A fine game, and how great it was (a) to see Max Pacioretty play after getting nailed by Anaheim’s Clayton Stoner the other night and taken to the hospital, and (b) seeing Max click so well once again with Gallagher and Galchenyuk.

Gally had a goal, Max collected two assists, and Galchenyuk notched a goal and an assist.

Also clicking well were the trio of Plekanec, Sekac, and Prust, who generated several good chances and showed nice chemistry. Is chemistry an advanced stat?

Next up – Habs on Long Island on Tuesday.

And speaking of Tuesday, my boss Marc Juteau is giving all of us at Classic Auctions a Christmas present to end all Christmas presents. He’s rented a box at the Bell Centre, with food and drinks, for the World Junior pre-tournament tilt between Canada and Switzerland.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot Ottawa 29-25.

Leafs got bombed 7-4 by Philadelphia.

Mystery Solved

The pictures below are of my program from 1925-26 when the defending Stanley Cup champion Victoria Cougars of the old WHL pro league played the NHL Ottawa Senators at the Auditorium in Ottawa.

The thing is, there’s no record of the Cougars playing the Senators in 1925-26, and even though several of us searched high and low, it remained a head scratcher.

Until now.

Not long ago I was at the home of hockey historian and author Jean-Patrice Martel, and after telling him about this program, he asked me to send him photos. I did, and not even half an hour or so later, he wrote back and said he’d found it, which surprised the heck out of me and left me feeling tremendously inadequate.

The Cougars played two exhibition games in Ottawa in November of 1925, with the money going to the Humane Society. The Sens won both games, 6-2 and 2-0.

Mystery solved by an amazing fellow, and I’m very grateful.

Here’s the link Jean-Patrice sent me, from a writeup in the Montreal Gazette after the second game – Cougars and Senators in November of 1925

001 002 003004 005006007008009

Missed Habs/Sens Game

Couldn’t see the game, I’ve been incapacitated. I know that the Canadiens lost 4-3 in overtime but Lucy and I are in Kingston with my brother and his wife Kelly, painting the town red.

Maybe not painting the town red. But as red as you can get it when you’re an old bastard like me, dragging the other three down.

Also went to the OHL Major Junior A game between the hometown Frontenacs and visiting Belleville Bulls which saw Jordan Subban and the Bulls skate off with a convincing 4-2 win.

We sat right behind the Bulls bench, which was a fascinating experience for sure, and after Subban took a late-game penalty, his coach sent him to the dressing room like a kid to his room..

So I’ve been incapacitated. What a word. Sounds a bit like decapitated and constipated. Whatever way – incapacitated, decapitated, constipated – it’s tough to watch a game when you’re one of them.

In the meantime, because I’m incapacitated, here’s what I think is a cool photo.

It came up on eBay awhile back and I bid on it but didn’t win. Originally from the Richard family, it’s a picture of Maurice Richard at a Christmas party, looking like he’s having a fine time.

Boom Boom Geoffrion is on the far right, and although I don’t recognize the fellow in the middle, you can be assured that if he actually went through with the pouring of his drink on Rocket’s head, somebody in the house would be quickly calling for an ambulance.

Rocket and Boomer

 

The Morning After

It’s a little odd attempting a game recap the morning after. My brain’s taking a while. It feels like a bowl of steel cut oats. Sort of a glue-based, chewy mush.

But the United Center clash ended late last night, and I couldn’t wait until later on today. You might think I was a slacker.

It was Toews and Kane, Keith and Seabrook, Sharp, Richards, Versteeg, and on down the line. All the usual suspects. A strong, solid lineup, playing at home against Dumont and De La Rose. Andrighetti, Dowell and Bowman and just a sprinkling of household names like Bourque, Weise and Eller.

That’s not fair.

Except the underdogs had Carey Price in nets, and as the night progressed, the red, blue, and white legs found jump, the chances began, and in the end, the little engine that could skated off with a surprising and impressive 3-1 win, even though they were handily outshot. But not outworked.

It was 0-0 through two periods with Mr. Price coming up big a bunch of times, including getting his mitt on a clear-cut Duncan Keith blast from about twelve feet out. A sensational stop from Price, and it was the Canadiens who would finally break the ice in the third, not Kane or Toews or Sharp, when Rene Bourque, after almost scoring, came up with a nice second effort and banked one off Hawks goalkeeper Antti Raanta.

And when Nathan Beaulieu converted a swell Drayson Bowman pass to make it 2-0, it truly did start to feel like good things might happen on this night for what was technically a bolstered Hamilton Bulldogs squad.

A slight hiccup when Greg Pateryn, looking to impress and win himself a job, whiffed on the puck at the blueline which sent Andrew Shaw in alone, and suddenly it was 2-1 and the Hawks thought they had a life.

But they didn’t, because five minutes later Michael Bournival hit the empty net, and the Canadiens are now four wins and a loss in preseason, and looking mighty fine.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Chicago 32, Montreal 19.

Alexei Emelin thumped on several occasions, which is always a beautiful thing. I love the thumps, whether it’s Emelin or anyone else wearing the CH doing it. It keeps other teams from getting too high and mighty.

Next up, Friday night in Ottawa and then the Sens visit the Bell on Saturday.

 

Let Some Hitting Begin

Getting closer and closer to the real thing with seven exhibition games ready to go, beginning with the Bruins on Tuesday, the team that got their keisters kicked last spring in the playoffs by mere mortals who weren’t supposed to poke the almighty bear.

The bear got poked and it skedaddled right out of the rink and onto the nearest golf course.

How sweet that series was. A seven game battle royale that saw the Habs taking the opener 4-3 in Boston when P.K. scored in overtime, and game two had Montreal holding a 3-1 lead with nine minutes left, only to allow three goals in just over five minutes by Boston, plus an empty netter.

What a start, and what a series that would unfold. Electric. Nail biting. Ulcer-inducing. Ultimately crappy for the Bruins and their fans that made my heart soar like a flock of seagulls.

Ginette Reno warbling in Montreal. Shawn Thornton acting like a six-year old with his water bottle hijinks. Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt looking like he was peaking on acid.

Games going back and forth, keeping us all on the edge of our seat, chomping at the bit for the next game and then the next.

The Canadiens grabbed the series lead in game three with a 4-2 win. Remember that?

That was the night P.K. charged out of the penalty box, took a nice Lars Eller pass, and waltzed in along on Tuukka Rask, beating the goalie with a cool little move to the right that caught the goaltender flat-footed.

Boston would take game four with a tighter-than-tight 1-0 overtime win, and then grabbed game five by winning 4-2. It was excruciating to say the least.

I remember the odd Hab fan beginning to fold up the tent. Prematurely of course.

Montreal was dominant in game six, blanking the Bs 4-0 with Thomas Vanek awakening and notching a pair, and the series went to seven games, as it should, ending with the Canadiens posting a lovely and glorious 3-1 win that set Habs fans whoopin’ and hollerin’ throughout a dozen or so  time zones.

It seemed like only yesterday when it all went down, and which concluded with Milan Capone proving during the handshake that when his hockey career is finished, he’ll do just fine in the Cosa Nostra.

Frustrated Bruins players. Depressed Bruins fans. A suicidal Jack Edwards. And the Canadiens moved on to the Eastern Conference Final.

It was almost orgasmic.

It’s Boston at the Bell on Tuesday,  Colorado visits on Thursday, then on Friday the Habs and Avs clash again, only in Quebec City.

On Sunday the Caps pay a visit to Montreal, Wednesday the boys are in Chicago and Friday in Ottawa, and our Habs’ preseason ends on Saturday Oct. 4th when the Sens come to town for part two of being spanked.

After that it’s a few days to get ready for game one of the 2014-15 season when the Canadiens travel to Toronto to face the Worst Sports Franchise in North America.

How great is that? The Worst Pro Franchise in North America! That’s what ESPN decided about the Leafs organization and at this time I’d like to thank the TV channel for their fine assessment.

 

Bell Number Eight?

Hard to believe that seeing a game at the Bell Centre only ranks number 8 behind Minnesota, Washington, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and New York, but that’s what the Stadium Journey people have decided in their new 2014 rankings.

I was sure there was no better experience than being at the Bell. In fact I’m still sure, regardless of what they say. Number 8 definitely beats Ottawa though, which comes in at a dismal 29th.

Here’s the link with new ratings for all the barns – Stadium Journey Arena Rankings.

Habs Spank Sens

It seems there are no normal games when the Canadiens and Senators play each other.

Friday night  in Kanata saw a wild 7-4 win by the Habs over the sinking Sens after spotting Ottawa an early 3-0 lead.

It had been a dismal beginning for the Canadiens to be sure, shockingly finding themselves in a deep hole in under six minutes of play, but soon enough, pucks started finding their way behind a shaky Craig Anderson.

And when the dust had settled, the Canadiens had scored seven straight goals before Ottawa would notch a late one.

This was the same Craig Anderson who stoned the Habs last year in the playoffs. On this night, the Sens might have had better luck with Pamela Anderson.

The DDs burned it up again, with Max getting three plus two assists. Thomas Vanek had three assists and DD two.

I heard recently that some who study advanced stats have decided that because the DD line isn’t great defensively, they could hurt the team and should be broken up.

Talk about throwing water on a beautiful thing.

Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt weren’t exactly defensive specialists either, but no one was complaining when they were popping 50 or 60 goals a season.

The way this game started, with three goals in under six minutes by Ottawa, it was certainly cause to be concerned. Was it one of those nights for Peter Budaj?

Were the Senators determined to pay back in a big way for being embarrassed at the Bell on March 15th?

Instead, Budaj was great. Tremendously sharp. The DD line would soon catch fire. And it all started when Andrei Markov bounced one in off Anderson from behind the line, near the side of the net.

Then it was off to the races, although the Sens would hit some posts and Budaj had to be sharp as a razor from time to time.

After Markov, the goals just kept coming, almost every second shot went in, and it became Weaver, then Max, Eller, Max, Max and DD, and it’s two big points and the Sens are basically screwed.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Ottawa 43, Montreal 23.

P.K. Subban rode the bench for most the first period after not being harder on checks during a couple of Sens goals. PK would see a very low 13:39 of ice time.

I truly disagree with Michel Therrien’s methods regarding P.K. A Norris trophy winner being treated like a raw rookie.

There were several scuffles throughout, including Galchenyuk and Karlsson, Tinordi and Gryba, and Gally and Neil, with a player scrum developing from it. But all in all, it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been a Canadiens-Nordiques type of affair.

George Parros played while Rene Bourque watched from the press box, and George not only almost had an assist on the night, but was also sent out to cool things down when characters like Zach Smith and Chris Neil were getting overly obnoxious.

Max scored his 36, 37th, and 38 goals of the season and when one looks at the top four goal scorers in the league, it’s Corey Perry with 41, Joe Pavelski with 39, Max with 38, and Sidney Crosby with 36.

How great is that?

Next up – Detroit at the Bell Saturday night. Should be a beauty, but more about that later.