Category Archives: Pittsburgh Penguins

Habs Pluck Penguins

pens

Two goals from David Desharnais, an awakening from Captain Max, and a well-deserved shutout for Al Montoya, and the Canadiens rebound from a dismal outing in Ottawa to finish off the Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 in their home opener at the Bell Centre.

Definitely better than a few nights ago, and it began with a fired up Max Pacioretty opening the scoring just 23 seconds into the contest. Max was alive on this night, like a young DK at parties when someone would put Led Zeppelin 1 on the turntable.

But although the team played well overall, in particular the top line of Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, and Gallagher, it was Montoya who was truly exceptional once again, and who shut the door when the door needed shutting.

Montoya stopped 36 shots, it was never easy throughout, and has now allowed just five goals in his three games for the good guys. Carey Price is still recovering from the flu, and Big Al is doing the job in a big way.

A couple of goals from Desharnais will see DD’s critics forgive him for a night or two, and it was sensational to see the little guy come through, especially after his puck fanning in the shootout in Ottawa.

Alexander Radulov scored his team’s third marker, one which saw him take a pass from Galchenyuk, skate the length of the ice, swoop across, and bury the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury.

This beauty of a goal, on the power play, demonstrated the kind of skill this guy has, and the team is far better with him on board.

All in all a fine, if not spectacular, showing from the Canadiens, on a night that began with a gorgeous pre-game ceremony to open the 2016-17 season at the Bell Centre, concluding with former coach Jacques Demers passing the torch to Captain Max.

Demers coached a bit more than three seasons in Montreal, and was behind the bench for the Canadiens’ last Stanley Cup win in 1993. He’s in a wheelchair now after suffering a stroke earlier this year.

Random Notes:

Montoya was given an assist on Radulov’s goal, and the point now sees him tied with Tomas Plekanec.

The power play was 1/6.

Jeff Petry’s cross ice pass to DD late in the third to make it a 4-0 game was a thing of beauty.

Young buck Mikhail Sergachev saw less ice time in the second and third periods, to the chagrin, I guess, of his folks and sister who had flown in from Russia. But guaranteed, as Misha’s career unfolds over the years, mom, pop, and sis will have plenty to cheer about.

Next up – Thursday, when the Arizona Coyotes pay a visit.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

More To The Roy And Brian Spencer Story

Spencer

A new email adds greatly to an old story.

In 2008 I wrote about former NHLer Brian Spencer and the tragic events surrounding his dad when CBC decided to air a Vancouver-Oakland game instead of the Leafs and Chicago, which was Brian’s first NHL game.

Brian’s dad, Roy, furious at not being able to see his son in this huge moment in time, decided to bring a rifle to the local TV station, where he would be gunned down by the RCMP.

You can see the full story here – The Sad Story of Roy Spencer and his son Brian.

Today I received an email from a woman named Carole Fawcett who was working at the TV station when Roy Spencer burst in, and I appreciate very much her taking the time to describe those horrific events.

Here’s her email:

Hello

I was at the actual event in Prince George, where I worked for CKPG Radio and Television. Just wanted to clarify a few details about the Roy Spencer incident.
He had actually been calling the station all day asking where the game was going to be showed. He was very abrasive and rude I remember being told. He came to the station that night, and once in the door, lunged toward me (I was at the reception desk), wrenched the phone from my hands, banging it against my face in the process. Then he went further into the station. Fast forward to the TV studio where he had us all lined up with his gun pointed toward us and told the TV Switcher to shut down the TV which he did – so all people watching in Prince George would have had their TV’s go black. He told us he had killed (said he was a commando in the war) and would do so again and that we were NOT to put the TV back on the air. He threatened one of the staff members and then subsequently all of us. Unbeknownst to him, Fiori D’Andrea had managed to call the police before he got to the television studio. So, when he went outdoors, the RCMP said – “Halt – or we will shoot”……………and he ended up wounding three RCMP officers. He was killed in the process. He was suffering from serious mental health issues…………………..and his ability to be rational was long gone.

Of course in those days there was no help for staff and we were expected to be back at work the next day.

Just thought you may want some details from someone who was there.

Carole Fawcett, MPCC, CHt
Master Practitioner in Clinical Counselling
Clinical Hypnotherapist

Three Straight!

three

Six points from a line on fire, and the Canadiens rack up their third straight win by beating a solid Tampa Bay Lightning squad 4-2.

Tomas Plekanec, who came to life last Saturday against Edmonton when he notched a four-point night, once again rocked and rolled against Tampa, and ended the evening with a pair of goals and a helper.

Linemates Brendan Gallagher collected a goal and an assist and Alex Galchenyuk an assist, and it doesn’t take a brilliant rocket scientist like P.J. Stock to know that when the guns come alive, the team will thrive.

Just a bit more from a few others would be nice. But this a big breakthrough regardless. Three wins in a row beats three wins in a whole month, as they managed in sad fashion in both December and January.

But that was then, this is now. And it just feels a whole lot better. I’m so alive I find myself with a little extra bounce in my step during those dozen or so trips to the bathroom to pee.

Maybe it’s too late to play playoff spot catch-up, or maybe not. It’d be nice to see Boston, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey, the teams in front of the Canadiens, do the nosedive shuffle. (Boston was bombed 9-2 tonight by L.A., which is downright hilarious, don’t you think?).

To see the team put together a handful of wins makes my heart soar. Really soar. You’d be surprised how much it’s soaring.

I like to think that Nathan Beaulieu’s pounding of Cedric Paquette early in the first period put things on track, as a fight will do sometimes.

They’re rare to see now, but really, what’s wrong with a good old fist to face with blood sprayed all over the place? It’s another thing that makes my heart soar.

Brendan Gallagher would soon after open the scoring, while in the second, after Tampa had scored just 40 seconds in, Pleks would weave his magic the first of two times.

And with only 8 seconds remaining in the middle frame, PK Subban twisted and turned and sent the puck in off Devante Smith-Pelly to give the Habs a solid 3-1 lead.

In the third, Pleks faked out a confused d-man and Ben Bishop to widen the gap to 4-1, and although Tampa would score another, that was it. A big win to keep hopes and dreams alive.

And it all started with Nathan Beaulieu delivering a couple of nasty rights to the face of Cedric Paquette.

Random Notes:

Ben Scrivens, in net for all three wins, was once again excellent.

Both Beaulieu and Brian Flynn left the game in the second period, never to return. Beaulieu was hurt blocking a shot, while Flynn appeared to do major damage to his leg.

Tampa outshot Montreal 39-27.

Next up – Friday, when the boys visit beautiful downtown Buffalo.

 

 

Can’t Take Much More

The Canadiens fell 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at the Bell Centre and the dark journey down Mediocre Lane continues, even though they’d won their previous game against New Jersey.

My heart soars like the Hindenburg.

hindenburg

This was supposed to be the best Habs team in decades, with a decent shot at going deeper than usual in the playoffs. Folks were raving about them. Even the Toronto media mentioned them sometimes.

Now it’s a team that can’t score goals, the power play is ridiculously inept, and they can’t stay out of the penalty box. They’ve also lost 14 of their last 19 games, which is unbelievable. How can that be?

And if I wanted to carry on about this, which I don’t, I could mention passion, desire, will, work ethic, smarts, and anything else they currently lack that I could come up with.

Soon they could find themselves out of a playoff spot after being safe, sound, and smug atop the standings once upon a time, because everything was coming up roses in the beginning.

Fire the coach or pull off a blockbuster trade or feed them steroids or supply their wives with chastity belts. Whatever it takes.

Do something. My enthusiasm is waning.

Random Notes:

P.K. scored the lone Habs goal, his second of the season.

Mike Condon was terrific.

Montreal outshot the Pens 34-32.

Next up – Thursday, when the Hawks pay a visit.

Habs, Um, Win

triumphant

Dear Aunt Flo. Thanks for the Christmas gift of tickets for the Habs and Devils on Wednesday at the Bell Centre. The Habs won 2-1 and the seats were great.

Next Christmas, could I please just have socks?

On a night when the late great Dickie Moore was honoured, the boys held on to win before 21,000 fans who probably drank more than usual to ease the pain of shelling out a week’s pay for a pair. What’s another fifty bucks for three or four beer.

Dickie and the boys upstairs watched for a period and decided to play cards. At the rink, Youppi nodded off in the lunch room.

But it’s a win, and it’s created an illusion worthy of Las Vegas. Because even though the team is stuck in a slump to end all slumps, they’ve now racked up three wins in their last five games.

Weird.

My eyes glazed over while watching this big Habs win, only to be opened wide a few times. Like Max’s power play goal in the first, Paul Byron’s nifty toe drag and feed to Torrey Mitchell while shorthanded, and a DD penalty shot that saw the little bugger backhand it way over top of the net in the most feeble of fashion.

Other than these, my mind would drift back to a kinder, gentler time. October and November.

But that was then, and now they’re rolling with this big exciting win at home.  Tickets are too cheap to see this juggernaut. Raise the prices. Beer and parking and key chains and hot dogs need to cost more too, so raise away. It’s the CH for goodness sakes.

And because I saw the game on TV for free, I’ll send the club a hundred bucks because I feel I should. It was just that exciting!

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Devils 25-20 and scored once on three power play chances.

Next up – Saturday, when the Pittsburgh Penguins waddle in.

 

A Shootout Loss In Pittsburgh

The Canadiens fall 4-3 in the shootout against the Penguins in Pittsburgh, but that’s fine. They were skating and had their chances, they got a point out of the deal, and their dads, on the father/son road trip, probably still love them anyway.

It was just 13 seconds into the first period when Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis beat Mike Condon, and it goes without saying that a goal right off the bat like that isn’t a good thing. Especially for Condon’s dad, who was seeing his son in the bigs for the very first time.

But Andrei Markov would even things up with blast while on the power play (ranked third overall), and hopefully Markov’s dad was there too to see it.

Sadly though, the Pens would bulge the twine with just 44 seconds left to play in the frame, and the Canadiens went to the room a goal behind.

Tough when you’re scored against in the first and last minutes of the period.

In the second, Max Pacioretty sent Brendan Gallagher into the clear and Gally’s great shot evened things, while later on Brian Flynn fired the puck through Marc-Andre Fleury’s armpits to put the team in front.

Montreal owned things in that middle frame. They had it going, they were skating like the wind, passing the puck around like a first-place team would, and they outshot the home team 13-1 as proof.

All they needed was another goal. But it never came.

Pittsburgh would find their game in the third, eventually tie it, and after no scoring in the 3-on-3 overtime, the Pens, with the help of Sidney Crosby, wrapped it up in the shootout after Galchenyuk and DD didn’t come through.

Looking back, the Canadiens were going good in overtime. They came close several times, and they circled with confidence and moved the puck around in fine style, especially when Galchenyuk, Gallagher, and Markov were on the ice..

Then Tom Gilbert stepped on the ice too soon and the team was called for too many men. Which of course killed any built momentum, and any chance to nail it shut.

Gilbert was also called for holding with 2:17 left in the third period, which wasn’t good either.

An inexcusable penalty to take on a 3-on-3. But like I said, the dads probably still love all of them anyway. Possibly even Gilbert’s dad.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Pittsburgh 38-34 and went 1/4 on the power play.

P.K. Subban recorded two assists, which hurdles him past John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars for most points (16) by a d-man.

Next up – Saturday, when Patrick Roy and his Colorado Avalanche visit the Bell Centre.

And finally, this great artwork done by Wade Alexander (Darth), of Brendan Gallagher. Gally played a fine game and also took a shot in the foot which saw him leave the game, only to return. (Dale Weise also left after being hit by Ben Lovejoy, but also returned.)

Whew, on both counts.

Gally

 

 

 

 

Habs Surprise Bruins

There were times throughout when they were far from sharp. Dozey in fact.  Definitely brain-dead in places.

But enough about the referees.

Canadiens double up the visiting Bruins 4-2 in a game that should turn more than a few Bruins fans into babbling glue sniffers. Their team had the Habs on the ropes. And then they didn’t.

Funny how that happens sometimes.

Somehow, although outplayed for much of the game, this first place team hung in against a surprisingly tough Boston squad. Tougher than I thought, considering the Bs sit in 19th spot overall with just 13 points, while the Canadiens, from the highest perch, can barely see them with binoculars.

But in the end, when the score was tied and just over a minute left in the third period, David Krejci decided to crosscheck Tomas Plekanec, several times in fact, and while he was cooling his blades in the sinbin after his numbing stupidity, David Desharnais buried the puck and the knife.

Soon after, Max found the empty net, and fans exhaled.

A fine ending to a tense game, and Bruins fans scurry to the local Army Surplus to buy knives to slit their throats.

Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period after the Canadiens were called for a tremendously dubious ‘too many men’ infraction, which was one of several weird refereeing decisions. But because of the final score, I won’t bitch. Except for the first paragraph of course.

The team was stifled constantly. They were bottled up, scrambling, all out of whack. I couldn’t wait for the period to end.

The only fun I had in this 20 minutes was seeing Andrei Markov blast a slapshot into the Bruins bench after taking a tripping call when Colin Miller embellished in fine Brad Marchand style.

No one was hurt on the Bruins bench, which is good I suppose. But it was a great moment. An excellent Markov moment.

Just as the Bruins had scored early in the first on the power play, the Canadiens did the same in the second, when Tomas Plekanec finished off a feed from Brendan Gallagher at 1:09 into the frame.

The Canadiens power play is clicking now. They promised, and I believed.

The Bruins took the lead in the second when Frank Vatrano, from the legendary Vatrano/Gambino mob family and playing in just his first NHL game after the family made the Bruins an offer they couldn’t refuse, notched his first big league goal.

Now we wait for news of a horse’s head found in David Krejci’s hotel bed after he gets home from Crescent St.

A Bruins lead going into the third period, with Boston stifling the boys and simply being the better team, ready to collect two big road points.

The Canadiens were in trouble, and possibly let down emotionally  after a Plekanec goal in the the third, which would have tied things up, was ruled no goal because of Gally causing havoc in the crease.

It was a sad time at the old Bell barn. The team getting whupped by the rival Bostonians. Things just weren’t going the right way on this Saturday night.

And then………

At 8:58, Lars Eller slipped one through Jonas Gustavsson’s legs and the score was tied in dramatic and surprising fashion.

At 17:57, David Kejci lost his mind and not quite a minute later, DD put his team in front.

And with 17 seconds left, Max found the empty net.

The Bruins and their fans once again hate the Habs more than anyone they’ve ever hated.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Boston 33-31.

Canadiens went 2/3 on the power play, while Boston was 1/5.

Too many turnovers, loose play, a plethora of icings, too many penalties, and the boys still won.

Next up – Canadiens take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

A little humour to close with. The Leafs allowed a goal with just a second left in Washington, and then lost in the shootout.

 

 

 

 

Six Appeal!

six

The Canadiens are serving early and serious notice that they’re a team to be reckoned with as they downed the visiting Detroit Red Wings 4-1 at the Bell Centre, thus extending their unbeaten streak to six, and doing so in fine style.

They even went a respectable 2/5 on the power play and outshot the Wings by a formidable 20-5 in the third period. Beauty eh?

It was Detroit who opened the scoring on this night, after the Canadiens had done just that in their five previous games, when 19-year old Dylan Larkin fired the puck off Carey Price and into the net in the second period.

I admire 19-year old pros. In almost every way, the complete opposite of me when I was 19. It’s just not normal for a teenager to be earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and being hit on by groupies in big league cities. He should be chugging tequila and smoking reefers and puking in the basement like everybody else.

Soon after the young fellow got things going, Brendan Gallagher would take the puck with him while sliding into the net, and after the officials went upstairs, it was ruled a good goal and things were tied.

When I first saw the goal I thought of Henri Richard, who scored the clincher in the 1966 Cup Finals when he slid into Detroit’s Roger Crozier and over the line, taking the puck with him.  But the puck was under Henri’s arm, unlike Gally’s puck which was forced in with his skate.

Truly sad is the recent news that the Pocket Rocket is in declining health due to Alzheimer’s. We’re with you, Henri, that’s for sure.

In the third fame, the Habs broke things open when Jeff Petry scored with the man advantage, Tomas Plekanec lit the lamp a dozen or so minutes later, and Brian Flynn found the empty net with less than a second remaining.

And the world rejoiced!

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Detroit in impressive fashion, 41-22.

Plekanec’s goal, his fifth of the season, gives him the team lead (Max has four). Gallagher, Petry, and Flynn all scored their first of the year.

Next, the St. Louis Blues pay a visit on Tuesday. And of course we need seven.

Excellent night for the boys as they roll along. All four lines once again contributed, David Desharnais enjoyed a big night, the penalty kill was solid, Alexei Emelin thumped, Tomas Fleischmann was good, Alex Galchenyuk had some nice chances, especially when he danced through four Wings during a first period power play, and of course, Price was Price, although he wasn’t exactly overworked.

Price also fed a long pass to Plekanec in the second period, who rang the  puck off the bar. Our goalie even tried once again to send the puck down the ice and into the empty net. It’s gonna happen yet!

As far as Alex Semin goes, we keep hearing about his blistering wrist shot, but we never see him unload it.

The Leafs lost to Pittsburgh.

 

 

 

 

Condon’s First!

Condon

Massachusetts-born Mike Condon, in his first NHL start after grabbing the backup gig from good old prairie boy Dustin Tokarski, stood tall for the Canadiens as he and his team rolled to a 3-1 win over the Senators in Ottawa.

And even though Sens forward Mark Stone wasn’t injured at any time during this game, his wife was overheard saying from her seat with the other wives, “Mark, quit your friggin’ whining, it’s embarrassing.”

That’s three in a row for the Habs in their first three outings of the 2015-16 campaign, and if you’re interested, their record last year showed three wins to kick off the season, then a huge loss to Tampa Bay, then four more wins afterward.

So they went  7 and 1 to open last year, and something similar this season would be just fine, don’t you think?

I’m right on top of these tidbits because I pulled out last year’s S.H.I.T.S. (Scientific Habs Information Tracking System) and had a look. I’ll show you sometime.

Condon was excellent on this Saturday night, while the guy at the other end, Matt O’Connor, also playing in his first big league game, was good but not good enough. Especially when Tomas Plekanec was on the ice.

Pleks opened the scoring in the first period when he spun around from the side and sneaked one short side past the rookie, and later on in the period, it was Pleks again, bursting in alone after blocking an Erik Karlsson shot, outskating the newly coiffed Swede, and sending a seeing-eye puck through O’Connor’s legs.

Ottawa would close the gap to 2-1 in the second frame after P.K. gave up the puck at Ottawa’s blueline while his team was on the power play, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, with all kinds of time, beat Condon.

But that was it for the hometowners, as Torrey Mitchell deflected a P.K. shot in the third for the insurance marker.

The power play? Along with giving up a shorthanded goal, Montreal went 0-7, which makes it 1 for 14 so far in the three games. But like I said yesterday, they promised us the PP would be good and I sort of believe them.

Random Notes:

The Galchenyuk, Semin, Eller line created occasional chances but weren’t quite on fire like they were in Boston, but the fourth line of Flynn, Smith-Pelly, and Mitchell picked up the slack and buzzed, with Mitchell notching that all-important third goal.

Canadiens outshot the Sens 34-21.

I checked in to the Jays game periodically and saw the final three innings, and one thing stands out in their 5-1 win in Texas. Somewhere along the line, Fox colour commentator Harold Reynolds mentioned that Canadian baseball fans have a hard time catching foul balls in the seats because there’s not much baseball played up there and they don’t catch well.

Harold, you’re giving your fellow Americans a bad name. You’re like an American version of PJ Stock.

Many of you already know about Harold’s silliness as it’s all over Facebook and Twitter, but did you know that his wife was heard to say from her living room, “Harold, shut the %^#* up, it’s embarrassing.”

Next up – Tuesday, where the boys end their road trip in Phil Kessel’s new home, Pittsburgh.