Category Archives: Phoenix Coyotes

March 15th Madness

The Canadiens were in the midst of a three-game losing streak, scoring just three total goals in losses to Phoenix, San Jose, and Boston.

The Senators would be up next, in a game at the Bell on March 15th, but from the first drop of the puck it seemed the Habs had turned over a new leaf, with Daniel Briere scoring just 38 seconds in and many others coming close on several chances not long after.

The Canadiens looked like they truly had put aside the three losses and were about to get back on course.

Slowly but surely though, Ottawa began to take it to the Montrealers who seemed confused and disorganized after that good opening frame. It quickly became Ottawa’s game, and as the third period wound down, the Senators held a comfortable 4-1 lead and the Canadiens slump would soon reach four.

Ottawa fans smiled. Trickles of fans at the Bell slowly made their way to the exits. Another loss and again no offense from the Canadiens, with just one goal scored.

But at the 16:38 mark of the third, Lars Eller would send the puck past Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner to make it 4-2, although it was too late for any thought of a real comeback. Just not enough time. And they’d been outplayed.

Just over a minute later, at 17:56, that Brian Gionta would suddenly make it a 4-3 game, and eyes and ears perked up. What’s this? Could they score again?

And when Ottawa took a last-minute penalty and Carey Price went to the bench for an extra attacker, the impossible suddenly seemed downright possible.

And it was, with David Desharnais tying it with less than a second to go. And just 1:26 into overtime, Francis Bouillon bulged the twine and sent Sens players and fans to bed cursing.

Tonight these teams play again, in Ottawa this time, and will the mood be ugly? Will the Sens be an ornery team looking for revenge after their collapse at the Bell?  Has a growing and heated rivalry been thrust into another gear, with bad blood now overflowing?

Can the Canadiens beat them and put what should be the final nail in the Sens playoff hopes?

Canadiens want home ice in the opening round of the playoffs. They also want no one getting hurt. Tonight’s an important game for all concerned.




Habs Eaten By Coyotes

With Thomas Vanek in the lineup and Dale Weise a healthy scratch, the Canadiens drop a 5-2 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes, a game they were in until they weren’t.

Maybe it’s because Vanek played alongside smallish Tomas Plekanec and wee Brian Gionta, but he looked absolutely huge. He’s listed at 6′ at the Canadiens website, but 6’2″ everywhere else, including Hockey Database and Hockey Reference.

I’m going with those. He’s definitely bigger than 6′.

But that’s beside the point. The Canadiens lost, although it isn’t the end of the world. They just have to win in San Jose on Saturday to erase the bummer.

The Coyotes struck first when a long shot caromed off Douglas Murray, but Andrei Markov tied it with a big blast. Then with Lars Eller taking a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, Phoenix once again grabbed the lead and visions of Eller in the doghouse danced through many of our heads I’m sure.

But he was back out shortly after, which was nice to see. I hate seeing guys in the doghouse all the time. And if life was truly fair, Rene Bourque shouldn’t have played since last November.

The killer for the Habs came with just nine seconds left in the first period when Phoenix made it 3-1, and as they say, Antoine’s your uncle.

Montreal did narrow it to a 3-2 game in the second when Alex Galchenyuk scored on a 5 on 3, and Alexei Emelin had previously bulged the twine, but the goal was called back because Desharnais was stuck in the crease.

We could also say the Canadiens were all over the Coyotes in that second frame, but the home team had four penalties to Montreal’s none, and that might have something to do with it.

In the third, I listened to the game on the radio on my way to the airport to pick up Luci. That’s when I heard Phoenix make it 4-2 and then 5-2. It’s also when I got lost at the airport trying to find the parking garage.

Random notes:

Along with Weise, healthy scratches included George Parros and Francis Bouillon. Josh Gorges is back in Montreal having his damaged hand looked at.

The Canadiens apparently didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 3:00 am, but no excuses, right?

Habs outshot the Coyotes 26-23.

Thomas Vanek, although looking slightly out of sorts which is understandable, still managed to have three or four good chances to score, which is three or four more than Rene Bourque has managed in the last month.

Peter Budaj was less than sharp. We need Carey Price back, but with the final stretch and upcoming playoffs, it’s very wise not to rush things. Groin injuries take time. I remember suffering one myself after that private party with the players’ wives. Took me months to recover.

Newly acquired d-man Mike Weaver didn’t seem overly impressive in his debut but I think it’s unfair to judge after just one outing.

Next, the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at 10:00 pm ET. Another tough game, and it’ll be nice when this road trip is over. Not only because it’s a tough four games, but also because they’ve all been past my bedtime.

Maybe we’ll see a camera shot of grumpy Neil Young at the game. He’s been a season ticket holder in San Jose for years. Ex-Hab Terry Harper, who lives a couple of hours north of San Jose, also goes to games there from time to time.


Toker Stones Ducks

Dustin Tokarski, in nets for the Canadiens for his very first time, came up big in stopping 39 of 42 shots as the boys beat the quackers 4-3 in a shootout and grab a massive two points and a ton of confidence.

Tokarski had previously seen big time duty in the NHL when he was between the pipes for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009-10  for two games and then another five in 2011-12, but he played like a seasoned pro in what must have been a nerve-wracking experience last night.

How great is it when your gold-medalist goes down, backup Budaj, fills in nicely, and then Budaj’s backup, Tokarski, also does his job in fine fashion.

It’s very satisfying for all concerned. Except for other teams and people who hate the Habs of course.

Montreal came out flying and took a big 2-0 lead on goals by Brian Gionta and Max with his 30th of the season (which is a fine season indeed).

Max has been playing on another level since returning from the Olympics. More fire, more jump, more confidence. At the perfect time of the year.

Things got slightly dismal in the second frame when a puck got behind a screened Tokarski, another hit a glass support and caromed in while Toker was preparing to corral it around the boards, and then after a terrible and confused Habs power play, the Ducks took the lead.

At this point, it all could have fallen apart like a great party raided by the cops, but credit to the Canadiens, they never gave up, and in the last minute of the second period, Brendan Gallagher banged it home and game was tied.

The game was scoreless in the third period and overtime, but in the shootout, Desharnais, Briere, and finally Andrei Markov beat Jonas Hiller and it made my heart soar like a Himalayan Snowcock.

This was a Habs team with good legs, with jump (aside from their zero for five power play attempts), and the many Habs fans at Anaheim’s Honda Center certainly must have enjoyed themselves.

I know I did, from the friendly confines of my apartment the morning after. I tried to stay up last night but my eyelids felt like they had pucks stapled to them.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Ducks 42, Habs 31

Lars Eller was a healthy scratch, and George Parros was given a small tribute on the screen, in which he gave a heartfelt response. George spent six seasons as a Duck.

A huge win. A road trip like this, against some of the league’s elite, seemed daunting, and although they lost a tight one (2-1) the other night in L.A., they came out with jump against the league leading Ducks, played well, and won the thing.

This has to be great for their confidence, and with Weaver and Vanek poised to join their new team, who knows? Maybe a great march onwards and upwards is in the making.

Coyotes on the agenda tonight (9:00 pm ET), and we’re expecting the same jump and character as we just saw. So c’mon boys, keep it up.


Big Games On The Horizon

The Canadiens get back to work on Wednesday when Detroit comes to town, then it’s off to Pittsburgh for a Thursday evening tilt, then those wacky Maple Leafs visit the Bell on Saturday.

After that it’s a serious swing into L.A., Anaheim, Phoenix and San Jose, so the boys are in for a dandy time in the next while.

Did I mention that after they get home, they get to host the Bruins and Senators?

Jarred Tinordi has been called up, and Nathan Beaulieu, who played well for the big team before the Olympics closed things down, will continue to hone his craft in Hamilton.

I like what Bergevin and the gang are doing. They’ve seen that Beaulieu can fit in nicely and now it’s time for Tinordi to show the same type of thing.

The blueline changing of the guard is approaching fast. So is the March 5th trade deadline.

Speaking of defencemen, Andrei Markov is supposedly not crazy about a one-year, 6 million dollar offer and wants a three-year package instead.

Alex Galchenyuk’s broken hand is healed, and apparently he’s ready to go. I’ve missed the old fellow. He turned 20 on Feb. 12th.

I’m guessing that Peter Budaj will get the nod in goal on Wednesday. It’s a lot of big games in a short space coming up, and Price could use a break after stopping foreign pucks on foreign soil.

But of course I could be wrong about Budaj starting. It’s time now to put the hammer down and secure a playoff spot, and the best way would be to have Price in nets as often as possible.

Michael Bournival is still fighting concussion problems, and isn’t ready to go.

Anybody But Radulov

Alexander Radulov scored two goals in Russia’s 4-0 win over Norway today, and it’s just too bad it’s this guy who emerges as the hero.

Radulov’s the guy who once upon a time played for the Nashville Predators but in the middle of his contract decided that he could get a sweeter deal in the KHL and went ahead and signed a three-year contract with Salavat Yulayev UFA without telling the Preds.

The Preds suspended him, but sadly, took him back a few years later for some reason.

Then, in an important playoff game against the Coyotes, Radulov and teammate Andrei Kostitysn were spotted in a Phoenix bar at 5 A.M. the morning of the big game,

He was suspended once again, his contract with the Preds wasn’t extended, and he headed back to Russia where Moscow Red Army gave him a 4-year deal at 9.2 million per.

None of it seems right.


Price To Start

Price and Mike Smith.

photo 1

Mike Babcock and the gang have decided on Carey Price to be in nets against Norway on Thursday.

As it should be. Price has been lights out lately. Roberto Luongo and his Vancouver Canucks have lost their last seven games.

Of course, in looking at the comments on CBC, some people hate this idea because they feel it’s a lack of respect for Luongo, who has an Olympic gold medal on his resume, plus the fact that Price didn’t fare well in big games late in the season last year.

So be it. Price is the man.

Mellow Yellow

A fine time to put up the S.H.I.T.S. (Scientific Habs Information Tracking System) with the Olympic break now upon us, and as you can see, the boys have given us five wins in the past seven games.

As you can also see, they’re not giving up many goals.

It’s good yellow, but we need much more. And if you look what’s coming up when play resumes, you’ll see that the Habs face Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Toronto, and then a tidy little road trip to Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, and San Jose.

Then it’s back home to host the Bruins and then the Senators.

Yikes. The yellow won’t come easy.


Huge Tuesday Night Win

It began with the usual concerns about the team looking flat, outshot 15-3 in the first period, not being able to score, down a goal, all that jazz.

But sometime in the second period the Canadiens began to show some life, to look more confident, to skate with just a bit more jump, and in the third, with Max Pacioretty leading the way, they earned a big 3-1 win over a solid Phoenix Coyotes team and the sky, on the verge of falling, didn’t.

It took a good effort from Carey Price to keep his team down just a goal until they found a way, and it was Max picking up the slack by first assisting on Andrei Markov’s power play goal, then scoring one himself on another power play, and finally sealing it with an empty netter.

We breathe a sigh of relief. Or at least I do. But I’m sure you do too. If you’re a Habs fan.

Four losses in five games would’ve been tragic, especially if they had been held scoreless. But the Canadiens notched three, albeit two with the man advantage and one with Coyotes goalie Mike Smith on the bench, but why quibble? They won.

They played a decent game in the second half. And Max not only racked up three points but also hit three goal posts.

But then there was that puck being brought out of the Canadiens end by P.K. with the Coyotes extra man on the ice, which P.K. proceeded to lose and which could have ended this thing much differently than it did. It should’ve been a conservative, off the boards type thing, but P.K decided to get fancy and it one of those decisions that I wish P.K. wouldn’t decide to do.

P.K., as great as he is, as flamboyant and talented and exciting as he is, still shows us sometimes that his game continues to need a bit more tightening up. But maybe he’ll never be completely tamed. Maybe this is the P.K. we’ll always see.

Pierre Houde called the names Galchenyuk, Eller, and Desharnais on a regular basis. Briere – almost never. Bourque, maybe a tad more.

But again, why quibble? That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Yes, a Habs win in the middle of a skid is that important.

Random Notes:

After being outshot 15-3 in the first, the Canadiens outshot Phoenix 11-7 in the second and 14-5 in the third, with the total being 28-27 Habs. It was a slow start that picked up steam.

Next up – Habs travel to St. Louis for an 8 pm start on Thursday. Another tough test. Then it’s Saturday in Music City, USA.


On The Chilly Side

Welcome to Montreal, Phoenix Coyotes.

Where it’s presently -27 C.

If you were back home in Phoenix, it’ll get to a high of 24 C today, or 76 F.

But it’s a dry cold here so it’s not cold at all. You won’t need a coat or hat.

I haven’t been in weather like this in 18 or 19 years. Since I was in Calgary. And I had no idea until I tried to buy a block heater for my car that I don’t need one anymore. It seems that engine metal now is different than the metal in older cars. So apparently I never have to plug my car in anymore.

It’s so warm in Montreal you don’t even have to plug your car in!





Falling To Florida

For the third straight game the Canadiens scored just one goal, with Sunday night at the Bell seeing them fall 2-1 to Florida and once again play less than stellar.

When I look at the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System (S.H.I.T.S.), I see that the gang has lost three out of their last four. It’s one of those stretches we have to endure until they give us another lengthy good stretch.

They’re my team through thick and thin.

Canadiens’ scoring woes continue. They failed to find the back of the net until Alex Galchenyuk managed in the third period on the power play, and they were unable to capitalize on a brief two-man advantage late in the game. They’re not going to win a ton of games from here on in unless the scoring begins again. The season gets harder, not easier.

I think they’re a tired bunch. A team that isn’t big and relies on speed is going to wear down a bit when they’re playing a lot of games bunched together. They’re off for about seven days at Christmas and that has to help. The Olympic break will too. There’s some serious batteries to be recharged here.

A couple of big tests coming up, with the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday and St. Louis Thursday. Maybe nothing more than a fluky goal will get things going. Or, maybe a big trade isn’t far off.