Category Archives: Philadelphia Flyers

Toker Comes Up Big

Not a great start for the Montreal Canadiens in Washington, outshot in the first period 15-2, and maybe looking only slightly less lethargic in the second.

But with Dustin Tokarski holding the fort and the team playing slightly better as the night wore on, all it took was one goal in regulation and several in the shootout and the first two games are in the bag with four points collected.

Flat they were, for the first half at least. They played like Monica Lewinsky had woke them up from their afternoon naps at the hotel. But you could see their legs moving well in the third while down just a goal, and soon enough, Canada’s team, those Montreal Canadiens, found a way to get it done.

Did the Brandon Prust fight with Liam O’Brien in the second period liven up the bench? Was it the no-goal by P.A. Parenteau, called back because of Rene Bourque clipping Braden Holtby’s pad, that got them thinking they should probably pull up their socks?

Maybe a small bush fire got lit, because soon after, Tomas Plekanec took a great pass from Alex Galchenyuk and wired it, and game was even at one after three periods.

All the way through, Toker came up big and gave his team a fine chance to win, and when the game went to a shootout, he finally got some help from Chucky, Desharnais, and in the end, Gallagher, and the team skated off with a win that had to have the Caps and their fans shaking their heads at the unfairness of the universe.

Now it’s onwards to Philadelphia to meet the Flyers on Saturday night. It’s a tough early part of the schedule for Montreal. After Philly it’s the Lightning on Monday, then home to face the Bruins on Thursday.

But the 2014-15 Montreal Canadiens can do it, because they’re the 2014-15 Montreal Canadiens.

Random Notes:

Total shots on goal after that dismal 15-2 first period – Washington 30, Montreal 24.

Alexei Emelin went to the room in the third and if he returned I didn’t notice. Hopefully all’s well.

I watched the game on Sportsnet 360 and I have to say what a breath of fresh air it was listening to John Bartlett, Jason York, and from time to time Chantal Desjardins, after the three hour announcer/Leafs love-in on Wednesday.

Bartlett and York actually discussed the merits of the Habs often. How unique is that? And Chantal Desjardins has such a classy and professional delivery, just a wonderful way of speaking. I have a crush on Chantal’s voice.

Summer Notes From Habsville

A number of things happened Habs-wise this summer, the most surprising being I was able to decipher the notes I’d made regarding the things that happened Habs-wise this summer.

Gone are Daniel Briere, Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Tomas Vanek, Ryan White, Douglas Murray, George Parros, and anthem singer Charles Prevost Linton.

Francis Bouillon, at this writing, remains stranded on the desert island named Limbo. Douglas Murray’s island is slowly sinking. George Parros’ island is somewhere near the lost continent of  Atlantis.

White now finds himself in Philadelphia where one of his jobs will be to protect captain Claude Giroux from grabbing police officers’ buttocks, and Bouillon’s future seems secure. If he doesn’t find a hockey job, the City of Montreal is ready to step in and make him a fire hydrant.

Auditions are now in process for the anthem singing gig. Unfortunately, management, with a somewhat prickly attitude, has informed me that I’m not allowed to be singer AND stick boy.

Forward P.A. Parenteau, from Colorado in exchange for Briere, is now part of the family, and Gorges and Gionta aren’t, as the two UFAs were picked up by Buffalo, a place Gionta is probably happy about being. Gorges, maybe not as much, considering it’s Buffalo.

Parenteau is 31 and hopefully more effective than Briere, who is on the verge (Oct. 7th) of becoming 37. Gorges’ passion and shot blocking will be missed. Gionta’s captaincy will be replaced in a year or two, and until then, Max, Markov, Pleks and P.K. will serve as assistant captains.

In the spirit of fairness, Markov, with the most seniority, should be the one to accept the Stanley Cup from Mr. Bettman next spring.

Signings this summer involved free  agents Manny Malhotra (1-year, from Carolina), Tom Gilbert (2-years, from Florida), and goaltender Joey MacDonald (1-year, from Calgary). And Jiri Sekac from the KHL Lev Praha squad signed a two-year entry level deal.

Those with new contracts include P.K. Subban, at 9 million a year for 8 years. Apparently there is no truth to the rumour that P.K. has bought the Sun Life Building in downtown Montreal to use as his winter residence, so you can stop thinking about that.

Regulars Andrei Markov (3 years), Dale Weise (2-year extension), Mike Weaver (1 year), Lars Eller (4 years), and coach Michel Therrien (4-year extension), also penned their names on paper.

Chosen in the 2014 Entry draft, 26th overall, was Moscow-born Nikita Scherbak, who looks, speaks, and plays like a young Alex Galchenyuk, who’s a grizzled old guy now.

Assistant coach Gerard Gallant is now the head guy in Florida and replaced by Montreal native Dan Lacroix.

Lacroix helped out behind the Rangers bench last year, and if it was he who advised the despicable Chris Kreider to run Carey Price and then Dustin Tokarski, he should be hung by the thumbs outside a Bell Centre window for several hours, and then be forced to teach our guys (aside from Brendan Gallagher) how to run goalies too.

Player Development guru Patrice Brisebois leaves and replaced by former NHLer Rob Ramage. And Trevor Timmins has had the title “Vice President of Player Personnel” added to his “Director of Amateur Scouting” handle.

Timmins is widely respected, particularly in Northern Ontario where they named a small city after him.

Former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, an ultra-talented battler if there ever was one, retired after 1124 regular season games played, with his last 5 seasons in Anaheim and 13 years and one lockout season with Montreal before that. Thank you Saku, for all you did for the Montreal Canadiens and the city. Which was plenty.

And finally, Mensa member Brad Marchand mentioned that he dislikes Tomas Plekanec quite a bit. “Anybody who spells “Thomas” without  an “H” is a rotten bastard”, said Brad.

Other things could happen in the days and weeks too. If so, just mentally paste them to this.

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.

Series Has Only Just Begun

Okay, a few dark clouds have drifted in. When haven’t they?

A 7-2 throttling in game one. A possible Carey Price injury. A situation where a two-game series lead for the Rangers would suck much more than a 7-2 series opener.

But if Price is injured, if we find ourselves suddenly in a wretched hole, keep in mind it’s still not over. Our dream of seeing the Habs competing for the Stanley Cup isn’t done until the mature and the gentlemanly handshakes have begun.

What I’m saying is, except for the truly dominant teams over the years, which we all know Montreal isn’t quite yet but regardless, the road to the Stanley Cup has always been lined with more potholes than Montreal streets, which, if you’ve driven Montreal streets, is a lot.

Guys get injured, unknown factors and horrible surprises crop up. But championship teams, teams that scraped and clawed and came out bruised, battered and bloodied, somehow found a way to reach the promised land, and if Carey Price is hurt and Peter Budaj is forced to come in, everyone deals with it, plays even that much harder, blocks even that many more shots, chemistry and bonding boils over the top, and their names ultimately become inscribed on the Stanley Cup through blood, sweat, and tears.

Man that was a long sentence.

Teams don’t usually coast to the Stanley Cup. Some of the 1970s Habs teams might have, but not in general. Sometimes they coast to the first place in their division, and maybe through the first few rounds of the playoffs, but not all the way to the Cup. If it was like that, it wouldn’t be the most meaningful trophy in all the land.

If Price is hurt, which we still don’t know yet, the scenario we hope for is this: Budaj is forced to come in, he stands on his head, the team carries on and wins it all, and Budaj is forever after talked about by fans and historians as the the guy who, as a backup goalie, joined the fray and helped his team win it all.

How great would that be? We’ve seen Budaj perform in unreal situations this year, so why not again? It’s the best and only thing we can ask, aside from Price being okay and is good to go.

As far as the Chris Kreider’s crash into Price controversy goes, I’ve looked at the play below several times, and although you might disagree, I have this to say about it.

All season long I’ve harped about the fact that not enough Canadiens are willing to crash the net. Aside from Brendan Gallagher, it’s just not what we’ve seen from most guys on most nights. Chris Kreider was skating hard, as he should be, and in a nano second, his skate may have done some damage, which I hope wasn’t the case.

Did he have time to react differently? Not by what I saw on the video.

I know Michel Therrien isn’t happy about it, and I know Brandon Prust said it was “accidentally on purpose”. But this was a split-second situation during the world’s fastest game and I’m giving the guy the benefit of the doubt.

I’m not about to become a Chris Kreider fan. Are you kidding? I hope Alexei Emelin leaves a dent in the boards with Krieder’s body the way Larry Robinson did with Gary Dornhoefer. I hope we never have to mention his name again. I hope a slapshot removes all his teeth. I hope he turns out to be a bum and ends up selling vacuum cleaners door to door.

I’m just saying I want more from the Habs like what Kreider did. Skate like the wind, blow by guys, don’t let up when you reach the crease.

It would also be just fine if Henrik Lundqvist tasted some of the medicine that was given to Price. Let the Rangers be forced to use to their backup goaltender.

All’s fair in love and war.

 

 

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.

 

Finish It Tonight Please

Bury them tonight and be done with it.

Because even though Tampa’s chances of winning this series are slim to none, coming back from being down 3 games has been done before – Toronto over Detroit in 1942 to win the Cup, the Islanders in 1975 over Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals, and Philadelphia over Boston in the Eastern semifinals.

But I like our chances in so many ways. And a nice rest while other teams pound each other means healing wounds, working on the power play, and not getting injured.

As they say, why wait for Christmas, do it now.

Christmas

 

 

Win One, Lose One Etc

Not too many big chunks of yellow on the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System (SHITS) lately, just a lot of “win, lose, win, lose”, and the boys are going to have to smarten up.

Because as you can see (hopefully), they’re coming up against some good teams in the near future, and if they aren’t careful, they could even find themselves in a bit of a pickle, with the Rangers, Philadelphia, and Toronto breathing down their neck.

Heck, making the playoffs isn’t even a given.

C’mon Habs. Give us some more yellow.

002

Moving On, Sort Of

Not all that thrilled with Michel Therrien right now, not that it matters I guess. Of course he could care less what me or anyone else thinks, aside from Marc Bergevin.

The Canadiens played like a frightened, hesitant, overwhelmed team against Philadelphia, and the one time one of them showed some fire and passion, PK Subban, who took a penalty for smacking a guy, the coach sat him on the bench for parts of the third period as punishment.

The one guy who was was actually awake and who may have helped in any sort of comeback attempt. Guys can sleepwalk, not score for fifteen games, and play like they’re hungover, but when PK shows some fire, not long after being named to the Olympic squad which means he’s one of the best of the best, he’s punished like a kid in school.

And Danno brought up a good point about Therrien not pulling Budaj for an extra attacker in the last minute. Therrien said he saw no reason, because the boys weren’t in it anyway. What kind of reasoning is that?

Mike also suggests that maybe those who thought it was wrong to bring in a coach who’d been canned once before by the team might be right after all.

Anyway, moving on. It can’t be healthy to stew for so long like this.

From the CJAD website – a backyard rink in St-Lazare, near Montreal.

rink 1

rink 2

rink 3

rink 4

 

 

 

Futility In Philly

Another tough one to watch. It’s hard to know where to start.

The Canadiens drop a 3-1 decision to the Flyers in Philadelphia on Wednesday, and on paper at least, a 3-1 score looks almost respectable. There’s been 3-1 scores for a hundred years.

But this was no barnburner, no close game with close calls, no “it could have gone either way” game.

It was the Flyers night for sixty minutes. The Canadiens might as well have stayed home and talked football.

How bad were the boys on this night? How about nine shots in the first period, six in the second, and five in the third.

It had to be the airplane food. Or the Philadelphia cheese steaks.

Or maybe about twelve of them are still sulking because they didn’t make an Olympic team, while the eight that did were deciding, when the game was on, how many suits to bring to Sochi.

What’s with this team? Deader than a Texas salad bar. Some nights they’re so completely out of sorts. Uninterested. Boring. I could go on.

If you have a job that pays six or seven figures, being uninterested isn’t an option.

Maybe it’s a subtle form of mutiny against the coach. Or maybe the captain isn’t good at rallying the troops.

And for added enjoyment, when they desperately needed some kind of oomph in the third period, Michel Therrien decided to sit P.K. Subban for several shifts. Did Therrien think Daniel Briere and Rene Bourque and the likes up front would probably get it done? Or maybe the high-powered Subban-less defence?

That’s seven straight losses for the Canadiens in The City of Brotherly Love. It’s ten straight wins for the Flyers. It’s all so very depressing.

With all my heart I hope for a shakeup. A trade. Maybe a Tinordi and Beaulieu call-up. Maybe even, and I know it’s as farfetched as can be and ridiculous to even wish for – a goal or two, and a great game, from Rene Bourque.

Random Notes:

Total shots on goal – Flyers 27, Habs 20. Not a huge margin, but if you saw the game, you know it was.

Peter Budaj in nets came up big several times, which is good. But he’s lost his last three starts, which is bad. Budaj’s record now stands at five wins, five losses, and a shared loss with Carey Price, which is mediocre.

Tomas Plekanec, on a nice pass from Brian Gionta, broke the shutout and gave us hope. But most of his teammates were in a coma and so it was a hopeless hope.

Brandon Prust pummelled Zac Rinaldo in the second period, which could have got things going, but on this night, Angelina Jolie could’ve dance the hula naked at centre ice and the boys still wouldn’t have woken up.

Next up – Oh goody, it’s only the Chicago Blackhawks to contend with on Saturday. Should be no problem there.

 

 

Habs Nip Cats

The Canadiens overcame a pesky Florida Panthers team to win 2-1 and make us not quite so testy about things.

And although the boys scored only twice, if they could have figured out Tim Thomas a bit better, it might even have been a lopsided deal. Because the chances were definitely there.

Montreal outshot the Panthers 13-5 in the first period, swarming the Florida net constantly, coming in in waves, looking like a million bucks. And all was right with the world when David Desharnais found the back of the net after first fanning, and then relying on his back hand to get the job done.

They were playing well. Another small yet fine step after a dismal November, added to a better first few games of December.

But things changed when Florida tied it up late in the frame, and suddenly the jump, the coming in in waves, suddenly calmed down and the visitors picked things up a notch. One goal and Montreal’s first period vim and vigour went out the window somewhat.

Was it a sign of an unsure or fragile team, when the foot is suddenly off the pedal like that? Or orders from the guy behind the bench, telling them to never mind the fancy stuff and tighten up?

Tomas Plekanec was flying on this night, both ways, showing the offensive and defensive skill throughout. Pleks will make a fine captain of the Czech Republic squad. A quiet guy leading by example.

And because Pleks was motoring, his linemates Brian Gionta and Daniel Briere found themselves with jump and opportunities, and it was Gionta who would notch the winner late in the second.

It was a swell two points, even with Andrei Markov and partner Alexei Emelin being on the ice for the Panthers marker, making it another night, especially for Emelin, of being in the minus column.

Markov struggled more than normal, best illustrated, for me at least, when a Panther player simply slid the puck through Markov’s open legs and the biscuit ended up in the back of the net.

Not the kind of play expected from a wily veteran.

And Emelin has been spending a lot of time getting confused instead of rattling bones and making the smart, quick play. But he’ll rebound. Hopefully before spring.

At least it was two big points against a team who had previously handed our boys a couple of dismal defeats. And although the original swarming of the net subsided after the first, the team still managed to get lots of chances, outshooting Florida 12-6 in the second before being outshot 16-10 in the third.

Carey Price kept them in it, Thomas at the other end did too, and the low scoring affair was still a win for the good guys, no matter how you slice it.

Final shots on net Montreal 35, Florida 27. Great to see lots of shots by the home team.

Random Notes:

Rene Bourque found himself in close with chances as well, and seemed to have some zip to his game. What an important guy Bourque could be if he came to play every night. He’s got the tools, but the tools seem mostly rusty or seized up.

Three times it seemed we were about to lose key guys, with Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Prust, and PK Subban all experiencing some sort of injury that thankfully didn’t keep them out of the game. Imagine if PK was seriously hurt on the eve of the Olympic roster decision.

And imagine a Montreal Canadiens team without P.K. for a long period of time. Whew.

Next up – Wednesday, with the guys in Philadelphia. No sense in saying the obvious about how a win is a must.