Category Archives: Ottawa Senators

Habs Trim Leafs

image1Back in the saddle again, as the Canadiens edge the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 and put a stop to the lousy three-game losing streak that had us all in a kerfuffle.

At least I was in one. I’m anti-slump. So winning, and against those Leafs, is basically a win-win situation. Does that sound right?

The good news – Alexander Radulov is back from sick bay and along with collecting two assists, banged and set up plays and skated miles and was all-round terrific.

The bad news – Toronto’s Nazem Kadri didn’t lose any teeth or get his nose plastered over his face. Not even one stick to the gonads. Really bad.

Red-hot Paul Byron scored his seventh of the season to open the scoring in the first period, while in the second, Alex Galchenyuk, also with his seventh, bulged the twine on the power play in what ultimately became the winner.

Shea Weber also racked up assists on both goals, and was much more of a force than he was on Friday in Carolina, when he looked fairly ordinary. But even then, not once did I pine for PK Subban.

As it stands now, Galchenyuk leads the team with 19 points in 19 games, while Radulov has 16 pts in 17 games, and Weber follows with 15 in 19 games.

New guys like Radulov and Weber are getting it done, but team vets like Max and Pleks and DD and Gallagher need to step it up. Although Gally continues to play his game and the points just aren’t happening for him right now. So he gets a pass. The other three don’t.

The Leafs played a decent game,  swarmed Montreal’s net far too often, and ended up outshooting the good guys 32-29.

But Carey Price was in nets, so swarming was the best they could do.

The boys now wait until Tuesday when the Ottawa Senators come a calling, and of course it’s a must win for the Habs. Another win gets the wheels rolling. A loss and we can say the gang sits at one win and four losses, which would be a bummer.

As for you folk, I hope the rest of your Saturday and all of Sunday is full of merriment. Just don’t get busted.

Canadiens Drop Another

slump

And suddenly, hockey sucks.

The Canadiens fall 3-2 in Raleigh, it becomes a three-game winless streak, and the plan now is to nip this thing in the bud before it morphs into something truly ugly.

And something truly ugly means losing to Toronto Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada and turning this adult slump into a grandpa one. Because four losses in a row is a nasty thought indeed.

Al Montoya has been between the pipes three times in November. He’s lost all three. We now have no idea if he’s an upgrade over Mike Condon or not.

The team was winning 1-0 in the second period with Jeff Petry banging home a rebound, but in the third, Carolina would score three consecutive goals while the Habs stood around scratching their asses and surveying the stands for cleavage.

A fine collapse. If you’re into collapses.

They almost redeemed themselves, though, when Andrew Shaw redirected Andrei Markov’s pass late in the game. But a bit later, like with a minute to go, no less, Shaw took a hooking penalty and the late-game comeback went down the proverbial toilet.

It’s now time to stop the madness, which means handling the Leafs. And then stomping on Mike Condon’s new team, Ottawa, next Tuesday,

Down with slumps.

Random Notes:

If you’re considering a comparison between this year and last, when they started like wildfire and then tumbled into the depths of hell, forget about it. Carey Price is healthy this year.

Habs outshot Carolina 33-18, with a couple of posts hit, including one by Brendan Gallagher that might have changed things considerably if it went in. But posts happen, so it’s not really worth mentioning.

Big game on the horizon.

Canadiens Get A Point

bad

Never mind that the Canadiens somehow came back from a 2-0 deficit to take the lead in the final frame.

Forget that the Ottawa Senators then tied the game with just 2:33 left.

Don’t even think about the up and down, tense 3-on-3 in overtime which didn’t solve a thing.

And try to hide the pain from the face palm you planted on yourself after David Desharnais completely fanned in the shootout which gave the enemy the win.

They didn’t play well, but it won’t do us any good to dwell. We could end up angry and bitter like Donald Trump if we dwell.

Ottawa 4, Montreal 3.

We care, us Habs fans, and we definitely can’t go through major misery like last year. And although the gang squeaked out a point, it was a lousy point that also ended in embarrassing fashion.

I hope the sports networks feel our pain and DD’s frustration, and not show the shootout fanning.

And because most of the boys were lousy for three quarters of this game in Ottawa, it stings a bit more than usual to see them play like they’d gone in back in time to the previous year. We made it, we have scars, and we don’t need to be reminded.

Of course it’s only game two, with another 80 to go, but it doesn’t matter how many games because we have big expectations, and we’ve been waiting all summer for a new dawn. And in this game two, the new dawn was dark and downright miserable, and showed there’s a lot of sorting out to do before visions of going deep into the playoffs next spring dance in our heads.

Thank goodness for Al Montoya, in nets once again for Carey Price, who might have the flu. That’s what they say about our star goalie anyway.

Montoya had 38 pucks fired at him and was steady, while the shaky team in front of him managed just 24 on Sens goalie Craig Anderson. The Canadiens first period was sloppy, disorganized, and downright pathetic, as was much of the second. And although they clawed back and made a game of it, overall it was reasonably sad, but at least there’s a point racked up.

Come to think of it, we don’t want them to win every game out of the gate because that’s what they did last year in their first nine. So that’s sort of a positive, isn’t it?

It leaves a sour taste, though. Even though it’s only game two.

Random Notes:

Jeff Petry, back in the lineup, scored a pair, while Habs rookie Artturi Lehkonen banged one in that tied things at two apiece, with the goal being his first in the bigs.

Habs biggest few minutes of the night? When the score was even at two, the Canadiens killed almost a full two minutes with both Paul Byron and Max Pacioretty in the box.

Next up, Tuesday, when the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins visit Montreal for the Habs home opener. Will Price be in nets? Who knows. Maybe if he takes enough cod liver oil.

New guy watch –

There were moments when Shea Weber, especially on the power play, blasted a handful of scary shots at the Sens net. But he often missed, and he didn’t score.

Alexander (Sasha) Radulov was quite a force, worked hard, and was one of the better players for his team.

Andrew Shaw wasn’t a factor, and Mikhail (Misha) Sergachev was in the press box.

Old guy watch –

None of them were much good.

 

 

 

Habs Handle Sabres In Opener

opening_night_logo

It was slightly sloppy and reasonably boring, but it’s October hockey, which is a far cry from deep winter hockey. They’re rusty, like me.

Heck, I quit doing recaps last season with more than a month left to go. But you understand. After the pathetic nosedive by the boys, you’d quit writing recaps too.

They owe us a big turnaround campaign, and it began Thursday night when the Canadiens skated off Buffalo ice with a 4-1 win under their belts.

It’s hard to be overly excited when it’s (a) October hockey, and (b) they won their first nine last year before free falling into the depths of hell, but it’s a new season with a roster makeover, and the new guys in the lineup showed grit and spark and became major factors in this bombing of the Buffalonians.

Al Montoya, in goal for the ailing Carey Price, was as solid as can be and stopped 30 of 31 shots fired at him.

Shea Weber thumped bodies and blasted missiles like we knew he would, although he missed the net several times in dramatic fashion. The big fellow was solid, tough, and imposing, and notched an assist when his wrist shot was deflected by Brendan Gallagher for the all-important third goal of the night for the good guys.

Alex Radulov showed plenty of smarts and composure, something another newcomer, Andrew Shaw, might want to consider.

Shaw batted home his team’s fourth goal of the night, but also received a match penalty at the final buzzer for slew-footing, which is despicable at the best of times, and it’s the kind of brain-dead act we’ll see from this fellow at various times throughout the season.

Shaw can be incredibly valuable, and can also be quite an arse, as we saw when he played for the Hawks. It’s something we need to get used to. If he doesn’t wear the CH we hate his guts, right?

Artturi Lehkonen seemed to have some chemistry with Tomas Plekanec and didn’t look out of place, although having said that, my mind did tend to wander throughout the game and maybe I missed a couple of things.

And young Mikhail Sergachev, only several months removed from being a 17-year old punk kid, looked fine but also at times looked like he might need another year in junior. But he’s a beauty with a great future.

Yes I’m excited about Sergachev, but I was excited about Jacob de la Rose, Jiri Sekac, and Michael Bournival too, so I have to contain myself. But Misha was the best d-man in the Ontario Hockey League last year, so maybe it’s safe to be excited.

Misha is the everyday nickname for Russian guys named Mikhail, so if you want to call Sergachev this, it’s perfectly fine. And while I’m at it, Radulov can be called Sasha, which is the common name for Alexander.

It was the heart of the team who did the most damage, though. Brendan Gallagher would contribute a pair on this night, the opener which was a long shot from the top of the circle that rang in off the post, and his deflection of Weber’s wrist shot for the third Habs goal.

Torrey Mitchell would score his team’s second goal after Paul Byron’s speedy rush created the opportunity.

Random Notes:

The Sabres outshot the Canadiens 31-24, but Al Montoya shut the door. The name Al Montoya sounds to me like a lounge singer with connections to the mob. I’ve always thought that.

Buffalo’s Evander Kane smashed into the end boards after getting tangled up with Alexei Emelin, and was taken to the hospital. Hope he’s okay, even though he can be a bit of a dipshit off the ice.

Next for the boys – Saturday in Ottawa to clash with a natural enemy.

 

 

Quarry Night

The Habs allowed three shorthanded goals during their tiresome 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, and I don’t want to talk about it.

How about a historic acid party at a limestone quarry outside of Orillia in the late-1960s instead?

A party where we climbed the flat sides of the place in the dark with water and rocks 50 feet below, whoopin’ and hollerin’, with brains soaked with mind-bending chemicals, probably never considering even once that we could kill ourselves.

It was a grand party, just me and the rest of The Boys, doing what we did best. Partying. In fact, we were such good partiers that some teenagers in town weren’t crazy about us showing up at their doorsteps. Something about them trying to keep their parents’ house nice.

A few didn’t mind, I guess. At least I like to think so.

Yes, the quarry party was a beauty, taken to a new level when we saw the lights of cars coming in, cars filled with people a few years older than us, who had brought their own drugs and music, and we all bonded in a fuzzy sort of way.

I won’t go into too many details. There was that time when one of my friends saw a guy wander off, and when he came back, my buddy checked where he’d been and found a bag of pills that we all shared when the older bunch weren’t looking.

A couple of us sat in the back of an older guy’s convertible and listened to the first (and newly-released) Led Zeppelin album on his fancy 8-track car stereo, and after about the third listening, the guy yanked the tape out and we swore mightily.

We calmed down when he inserted Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, also a new release, and I fell in love with that album so much that when someone asked me if I wanted to go to town with them to get some MDA, I said no, Bob Dylan’s bringing me my MDA.

And just recently I found out from one of my buddies that a girl there that night with the older guys, the girl with the cowboy hat, was Cathy Evelyn Smith, who later on would serve time in California for injecting drugs into actor John Belushi, which killed him.

Me and the other Boys still talk about the quarry from time to time. And years after the fact, I entered a contest at CHEZ 106 in Ottawa, with a free CD of the choosing to those with good stories about the 1960s.

I told the quarry story, and they sent me Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline.

One final note; that quarry was where the limestone came from to build the old Catholic church in Orillia. The church where I was an altar boy. And where, as an altar boy, I set myself on fire lighting candles.

And when I look closely at my picture below, I sure have a long finger.

altar boy

me (2)

 

 

Canadiens Come Up Big

celebrate

I’ll try to contain myself. But it was the Habs’ finest game since they pasted the Boston Bruins 5-1 at the Winter Classic on January 1st.

On this day, it was a 5-1 blasting of the Edmonton Oilers at the Bell Centre!I almost felt like singing the obnoxious Olé song, but not quite.

The win gives me quivers down my backbone. I’m not shakin’ all over, but I feel faint hope. I feel like deep in the innards of the slump beast sits a good team.

And all we can do is wait until tomorrow (2:30 ET) to see if the boys can keep it going, or if they come up flat once again like they’ve been so good at doing. But for now, Go Habs Go!

Their losing has always been a matter of players relied upon not being relied upon. If key guys were on their game more often, they wouldn’t be in this pickle.

Today, Tomas Plekanec stepped out of his season-long slumber (although he does have the team’s second highest point tally – 39, which isn’t saying much), and supplied a goal and three assists.

The Czech enigma displayed some serious life, and maybe the rust and dust has been shaken free and we’ll see more from this key guy.

The team has needed Pleks during dark days and he hasn’t been there, but today he was the Plekanec of old. Maybe he remembered the tips I gave him last year in Montreal at an autograph signing.

Now it’s time for Max Pacioretty to shake his hangover and come through for us on more of a regular basis. And Galchenyuk and Weise and DD and on and on.

Guys need to show up like Pleks did today. Four-point nights might be asking too much, but regardless.

Fine goaltending from Ben Scrivens, who recorded his first win as a Hab in five starts, and goals from Gallagher, Eller, Pleks, PK, and Tom Gilbert of all people (his first of the season), and the boys were too much for Connor McDavid and the Oilers.

A beautiful sight. A clobbering of the team that had rolled over Ottawa 7-2 the night before, by a team in the midst of a struggle to recover from the most gruesome of slumps.

Today, it was the team we’ve been looking for after two months of pure mediocrity. They showed fire, but like I said, I need to contain myself. Tomorrow’s another day, but if they look good against Carolina, I just might be whoopin’ and hollerin’.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Edmonton 35-24.

It’ll be interesting to see if Scrivens plays on Sunday after his fine showing today.

Connor McDavid is some kind of young player. Imagine if he wore the CH?

Below –  Prust, me, and Plekanec, last year in Montreal. Gallagher and Max were there too. Sadly, their wives and girlfriends weren’t.

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Cole Palmer’s Cool Cartoons

Hockey artist Cole Palmer has sent over his latest creation, which deals with the dastardly Brad Marchand and his three-game suspension for his lowdown takeout of Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki.

I don’t mind anyone taking out a Sen, but it’s Marchand we’re talking about here. And fittingly, his suspension kept him from playing in last week’s Winter Classic, where his teammates were kicked around in solid fashion by the Habs.

Mr. Palmer is a big time talent, there’s no denying, and you can see his other unique works at his website The Hockey Comic.com .

Cole Palmer

Habs Lose Another

triple Crown

The Canadiens fired a season-high 45 shots at Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick, and not one of the little rubber bastards found the back of the net.

L.A. blanked the boys 3-0 at the Bell Centre, home of the first period Olé Olé song, which used to be sung near the end of things, when the team had the game under control

Now it’s sung near the start of things, when the guys hadn’t even scored a goal yet.

Why can’t a new song be found. What about Roy Orbison’s ‘It’s Over’? Or Nancy Sinatra’s (and Cher’s) ‘Bang Bang (you shot me down)’, with the lyrics changed to “we shot you down”.

Anything, actually. Anything but the tired old Olé.

Forty-five shots usually means a red light or two, but the Canadiens, now losers of seven of the last nine games, just couldn’t solve a tremendously quick Quick, although, without taking anything away from this fine Kings’ netminder, the Habs haven’t solved many goalies lately.

Eleven goals scored in seven games. Even the Canadian Armed Forces has more firepower.

Random Notes:

Maybe Steven Stamkos or Ryan Johansen will come riding in on a big white horse.

The boys now embark on a big honkin’ eight-game road trip that spans almost three weeks, although interrupted for Christmas in the middle of it.

This seriously difficult stretch against some mighty fine teams begins in Dallas on Saturday and Nashville Monday. I just don’t have the heart to list them all.

Aside from Thursday 45 shots, other big shot nights included 42 against Ottawa last Saturday, along with 40 against Colorado in November and 41 when Detroit visited back in October.

Also in October, Toronto peppered 52 at Carey Price, but the Habs beat the Buds 5-3 anyway.

lakings

 

Habs Snuff Out Sens

Toker

The Canadiens snapped their four-game losing streak by besting the Ottawa Senators 3-1 at the Bell, and Sens forward Mark Stone only grimaced in unimaginable pain four or five times during the contest.

Goals by Brian Flynn and Max Pacioretty in the first period (Max’s came with just 33 seconds left), and a Jeff Petry marker in the second did in the obnoxious nation’s capital representatives, and reporters in the Sens room said afterward that Stone could barely put on his street leotards.

Montreal outshot Ottawa 27-8 in the first period, which ties a team record for shots in one frame, but Ottawa would regroup at some point in the second and make a game of it, including a slightly worrisome goal by J-G Pageau after the home team held a 3-0 lead.

But it ended as a 3-1 win by the boys in red, and as Confucius once said when he was coaching the Chinese National Team many years ago, “He who wins feels better than he who loses.”

Twenty-seven shots in one period is a lot, of course. And no one would expect them to put up that sort of shot total in the second and third because in that case, they would’ve had a ridiculous 81 shots in all.

But even 81 shots wouldn’t be a record. Boston fired 83 in a game against Chicago netminder Sam LoPresti in 1941, and barely winning 3-2.

Canadiens ended with a terrific 42 shots to Ottawa’s mediocre 26 on Dustin Tokarski, who started his second straight game.

Next up – Tuesday, when the San Jose Sharks swim in.

Stunned By Boston

this-sucks

Three goals in the third period by the Boston Bruins sank the ship, with the visitors skating away with a depressing 3-1 win at the Bell Centre. Now the Canadiens find themselves on a three-game skid, with some tough sledding ahead.

Of course there’s some fine excuses. Inexperienced call-ups from the minors because of injuries to regulars, and a backup goalie who is holding his own but might be getting tired, equals a team unable to fire on all cylinders at the moment. Good, solid excuses. Fine excuses.

In this Wednesday night tussle, Montreal handily outplayed the visitors for two periods but Tuukka Rask was hot, which is unusual against the Habs, and because the tying goal was reasonably bizarre, I feel somewhat at peace.

Like finally making it through two full days and a dozen showers after using fibreglass insulation for toilet paper.

The three-game slump sucks, and the boys play some tough teams coming up, beginning with Detroit in a few hours and Ottawa on Saturday.  It’s slightly worrisome. Imagine four or five or six losses in row? In Habsland it could get downright ugly.

But players on those upcoming teams are saying they have to meet a hungry, angry, and tough Habs, so it works both ways. The hell with getting upset. There are other things to worry about – like what I’m going to get Lucy for Christmas.

Boston’s tying goal in the third period was a killer indeed, an hour or so after Paul Byron had given Montreal a 1-0 lead back in the first.

The horrifying sequence unfolded as such: Dale Weise had burst in and was promptly tripped up by a sliding Dennis Seidenberg, and although a penalty shot entered some of our heads, it was strictly a two-minute deal instead. That was fine. Just score on the friggin’ power play.

The team was setting up  nicely in Boston’s end, quarterbacked by Andrei Markov, with slick passing back and forth between Markov, Max, Subban, Plekanec, and with the Bruins scrambling.

Then the second wave – Eller, DD, Weise, Petry, PK. The puck was in deep and it was only a matter of time. A tidy 2-0 lead coming up. Another loss by Rask and company at the hands of the team that’s owned them.

Suddenly…….at the blueline, Petry to P.K., who was off balance when he sent the knee-high through the middle, and which was batted out of the air by big Chara and directly to a surprised Loui Eriksson, who raced in from centre ice and beat Mike Condon.

Then like a dagger, Landon Ferraro bulged the twine just 42 seconds later, and that was that. Except for a third goal that had me checking soon after to see if Donald Trump had opened his mouth lately.

Random Notes:

The Canadiens, mostly on the strength of their solid first and second periods, outshot Boston 33-23.

They also went 0/3 on the power play, which was going good until recently. Much like their scoring in general.

The team misses Gallagher, Price, Mitchell, and Smith-Pelly for sure. But sometime down the road, like a beautiful rainbow appearing, the team will once again be the one we were bragging to our friends about.

Tonight (Thursday), the Canadiens are in Motor City.