Category Archives: Rene Bourque

Carry On Canadiens!

Wild and wacky.

And when the dust had settled, the Canadiens give a little payback to the Rangers with a 7-4 pasting after chasing Henrik Lundqvist in the second, after enjoying a huge lead that they would blow and then regain, and who knows, as the icing on the cake, maybe we’ll even see a Ranger or two suspended!

Would’ve been a good night to be at the Bell. So much went on. Lively as hell. Lots of cheering and fretting. And now the Canadiens are alive and well, and it’s on to New York Thursday to keep the ball rolling.

Montreal practically owned the first period and led 2-1 after Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec lit the lamp, and in the second period, after killing a couple of penalties, went up a lovely 4-1 after Max and Ren Bourque bulged the twine.

But everyone except Lucy in Russia knows what happened next. New York scored three goals on six shots, suddenly it was tied at a horrifying four apiece, and the thought of this team being eliminated after leading 4-1 almost caused dry heaves.

But suddenly, the sun came up again. Rene Bourque scored his second of the night before the period had ended, the boys took another lead, and in the third Bourque would complete his hat trick, DD would score on the empty net, and all’s well in Habsland.

They could’ve folded the tent after those three quick Rangers goals that tied it, but they didn’t. And I’m willing to bet that some Knute Rockne-like speeches were made during the intermission that kept the gang on the straight and narrow throughout the third.

An awesome win. Montreal was the better team. They’ve been playing better slowly but surely as the series goes on and the Rangers know it.

As icing on the cake, we’ll hear sometime soon that Rangers d-man John Moore will get a couple of games suspension for clocking Dale Weise in a play somewhat similar to the Brandon Prust hit. You know, the one that made Rangers fans, players, and coaches scream blue murder about.

And then picture the wailing and sobbing from the Rangers if the less-than-talented Derek Dorsett, who sprayed a flag kid with snow at the beginning of the contest, also gets more than a wrist slap for a nasty headbutt on Mike Weaver near the end.

Who headbutts? Only extreme nutcases.

Dustin Tokarski came up big throughout and Rene Bourque led the charge with three goals. A tremendous night. And lots of guys contributed.

Markov collected three assists. Max ended with a goal and an assist, Eller and Weiseboth had two assists, Galchenyuk with a goal and an assist, Plekanec had a goal, and Vanek grabbed an assist, as did Gally, Gionta, and PK.

More of the same in New York on Thursday please. Except for the part about blowing a 4-1 lead.

Random Notes:

Alexei Emelin was a scratch and hopefully he’s back on Thursday.

Final shots on goal. Montreal 28, Rangers 27.

Derek Dorsett’s a weasel. There are several on that team. And we love the idiotic penalties Benoit Pouliot continues to take. Keep it up Benny!

 

 

 

Habs Trounced In Opener

It’s not surprising that after such an emotional Boston series, against a team that played such a drastically different style, the Canadiens might look slightly out of sorts in game one of the Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers.

Just didn’t think it would be that much out of sorts.

It was all Rangers, all the time. So much so that our esteemed backstopper Carey Price was relieved of his duties after two frames, with Peter Budaj getting his first shot at the 2014 playoffs.

The Canadiens need to seriously readjust. The Rangers can absolutely fly, but the saving grace is that the Canadiens can too, and once they truly become accustomed to this non-Bruins style of play, they should be fine.

Talk about a wake-up call, a stick to the groin, a water bottle spray to the faces, including ours. Just a dismal start for the team and to disappointed Habs fans who have been so excited and hopeful.

7-2. What the $%#% is that?

Ill-timed penalties. A collapse in the second period when it was just a 2-1 lead for the Blueshirts and the Habs playing much better than in the first.

But with 61 seconds left in the middle frame it was 3-1, and then with 12 seconds left, 4-1.

The third? Three goals in 3:08. All power play goals, the first with Max in for roughing, the other two because of several Prust  transgressions.

One of those games where I had contemplated paying several extra bucks and springing for a scalpers ticket, to soak in the atmosphere. To say I was there in the moment.

I didn’t, and I’m very happy about that. Now I have more money for food.

It was one of the more miserable nights in recent memory, except of course the beginning when the torch kid did his thing and then Ginette did hers. And maybe not quite as bad as game two of the Bruins series when the Canadiens led 3-1 with nine minutes left and lost 5-3.

One thing to keep in mind. It’s a seven-game series. We’ll see a different Habs team on Monday. They’ll have lots to ponder.

They’ll regroup, adjust, and come out a different team. No problem. And I think I’m going to stay away from TV sports highlights for a couple of days.

Random Notes:

Canadiens were undisciplined, including Rene Bourque in the sinbin for three separate minors and Brandon Prust given two separate minors and a 10 minute misconduct, and when the final dust had settled, the Habs had spent 24 minutes in the box and the Rangers just four.

And as far as undisciplined goes, it was the complete opposite of the Bruins series when they stayed cool, calm, and collected.

If you’re curious, Rene Bourque slipped the puck across the line behind Henrik Lundqvist for the Canadiens’ first goal, which was assisted by linemates Brian Gionta and Lars Eller. And late in the third, Eller scored an unassisted shorthanded marker.

Shots on goal, 28 for the Rangers and 22 for Montreal, including just six for the Habs in the first and six in the third. They need to make Lundqvist work much harder than that.

 

 

Cover Boys

Thursday’s Le Journal de Montreal, with a front page photo of some of the guys when the clock hit zero.

Rene Bourque is thinking “Oh man, I’m a part of this, I’ve helped, and I’m lovin’ it!” Dale Weise is going “whoooo!” because he truly loves the CH, and he knows how proud his dad is right now . Thomas Vanek is thinking “I’m on a team I really love”. Max is saying “She’s done, we did it. Sweet!!”

And the two kids, Michael Bournival and Nathan Beaulieu are saying “Wow, probably the best I’ve ever felt!”

journal

Outplayed All Evening

Not much good to say here. The Canadiens were outplayed from start to finish, they were outmuscled, outworked, outchecked, and basically bottled up for about 50 of the 60 minutes, and although the final score looked an almost respectable 4-2 loss, it wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

The Canadiens were dismal and they lacked drive. How do you lack drive in a crucial playoff game? And once again, the scorers, the ones we rely on to light the lamp, didn’t come through.

Except PK and Gally of course, who’ve refused to stay quiet in the series when others around them have. Lots of heart with these two, but it’s no surprise.

To make matters worse, mainstays Eller, Bourque, and Gionta were ineffective and were shut down from start to finish. In fact, Bourque reminded me of his season-long comatose efforts. Eller was slightly better. Gionta was physically a non-factor. Too small in a game like this.

On top of that, the fourth line, which has contributed throughout the playoffs, were non-existent, and Michel Therrien’s choice of Brandon Prust in for Daniel Briere didn’t prove as brilliant a move as he might have hoped.

Prust’s name was barely mentioned, although the line only played about eight minutes. But of course he wasn’t alone in the not standing out department.

The Bruins were too strong in game five, and most of the Canadiens were surprisingly inept. They weren’t sharp to say the least. I’m expecting some true grit from them on Monday.

If they don’t come out breathing fire at the Bell, there might be some serious character flaws in many that need to be dealt with.

It was almost like they’d conceded early on, maybe right around the time Tomas Plekanec performed his dubious hat trick so to speak.

It was Plekanec who, instead of taking an extra second to cross the red line, iced the puck which led to a series of events and the Bruins’ first goal.

It was Plekanec who barged into Tuukka Rask with seventeen seconds left in the first, which led to a Bruins power play goal a minute into the second period.

It was Plekanec just a half minute later who took a high sticking penalty and six seconds later it was 3-0, and for all intents and purposed, the boys were dead.

It’s here I have to agree with what Don Cherry didn’t like and mentioned afterwards. Plekanec sat in the box with his leg resting on a ledge, like he was lounging in Acapulco.

When I saw that I wondered what the hell he was doing. Maybe in Europe you might see something along those lines. Not in a Habs-Bruins playoff struggle.

And even though Plekanec was terrible and in three ways helped cost the game, his teammates weren’t there either. They’ve been reading their press clippings about how they have the Bruins on the run, how great they’ve been, how they’re in the Bruins’ heads.

Tonight, the Bruins had them in their back pocket. The Canadiens were outmatched in every way in a huge game, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Random Note:

Shawn Thornton spraying PK with the water bottle as PK skated past was bush league to say the least and a typical type of Bruin move.

 

 

Overtime Blues

A great game, fast, hard, and exciting. A wonderful example of how a contest with no goals scored can be a thing of beauty.

No goals in three periods. Great to watch. Hard on the nerves. And then horrifically, the Bruins ended it early in the first overtime period, and instead of the series being a 3-1 Habs stranglehold, it’s now tied at two apiece.

And for those who said the winner of this game will move on, and I heard it more than once today, you have no idea. That sort of thing was also said after the Bruins had clawed back in the third period of game two.

That kind of talk drives me crazy because you just don’t know and why say it? Why predict such a gloomy ending? I feel some Habs fans are hoping they lose for some weird and distorted reason and it’s hard to understand.

The series is tied. The Habs have not lost the series, in case anyone needs reminding.

What a hard-fought, hard hitting, fast, back and forth, tough contest this turned out to be. A classic playoff game. A game at its finest. No goonery, no craziness, no lulls. No goals and it didn’t matter.

If only the good had prevailed over the bad. It was all that was missing.

It’s Saturday in Boston and then Monday at the Bell for games five and six. What a series this is.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal, Boston 35, Montreal 33.

Price and Rask were both solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. And for me personally, it was once again the Eller, Gionta, Bourque line who skated the most miles. Although Michael Bournival was flying and had several big shots on Rask.

Boston outhit the Canadiens 40-32 but Douglas Murray and PK smashed the enemy a handful of times.

The Canadiens edged the Bruins in faceoff wins 38-36, which is truly an important stat. And Montreal blocked 20 shots to Boston’s 12.

Everyone played well, all the way through the lineup. Although we need more on the board from some of our regular sharpshooters.

Right now, it’s the Eller line, the fourth line, and Bournival giving the most bang for the buck. If some of the quiet guys can break out, preferably at the same time, Boston will be a heap of trouble.

Have a great Friday. The series is not over.

 

 

 

Habs Grab Series Lead

No comeback tonight for the Gooins. And now they’re down 2-1  in the series.

Ain’t it grand?

The Canadiens stepped it up, skated hard, forechecked and thumped and came away with a great 4-2 win on home ice. And yes, they had their lapses, but all in all were solid and scored some beauties in the process.

Beauties!

A Tomas Plekanec goal in the first period on a sensational pass from Thomas Vanek.

A PK Subban breakaway goal after he’d stepped out of the sinbin, was fed a gorgeous pass from Lars Eller, and broke in alone and beat Tuukka Rask.

A sharp pass from Daniel Briere that sprung Dale Weise who fired it through Rask.

An empty-netter from Lars Eller, also in alone.

Yes the game was tense. A late goal by the Bruins in the second frame made it 3-1, and with 2:16 left in the third they scored again to narrow it to 3-2.

But the boys held on, Eller hit the empty net, and with a fine and outstanding series lead, what more can a poor Habs fan ask?

Thursday they go at it again. We ‘re not asking for much. Just a severe tightening of the noose, that’s all.

PK was once again a force. Carey Price held the fort. Vanek, Max, Eller, Plekanec, Weise, Bournival, Bourque, Gallagher, Weaver and all the guys wearing red gave a serious display of pride, guts, and passion.

The Canadiens were on the Bruins quicker tonight than in the previous two games. They skated harder, used their speed, and took no bull from the greasers.

Dougie Hamilton and Torie Krug forgot to shoot high. Price was great, Rask wasn’t. Douglas Murray and Alexei Emelin flexed muscles, Zdeno Chara and Milan Luci didn’t.

Brad Marchand continues to get away with murder.

Claude Julien will probably whine for the next day and a half.

Random Notes:

PK’s goal and assist gives him 11 points in the playoffs, good enough for second place overall behind the King’s Anze Kopitar, who has 14.

Ginette Reno got the party underway, the joint was rockin’ all evening, and for me in my living room, sometimes I sat, sometimes I stood.

Lucy’s in Russia right now, and because it’s the middle of the night there, she has no idea that the boys won huge.

Boston outshot Montreal 28-26.

 

 

 

 

Game 3 Coming Fast

There’s not a lot I can add to the Montreal Canadiens situation after  what’s being bandied about on radio, TV, the internet, morse code, and around the potbelly stove where grandpa sits.

The Canadiens almost went up two games to none over the powerhouse Boston Bruins, but settled instead for a win and a horrifying loss after blowing the lead late in game two. It was enough to drive someone to drink.

But instead of dwelling on what could have been, I’d rather talk about Rene Bourque, the Man Who Wasn’t Helping.

He is now though. For whatever reason.

I find it mind-blowing to see how Rene Bourque has played in the playoffs so far. The guy we wanted gone. The guy who looked uninterested and unmotivated and often half-asleep. Now transformed into a force to be reckoned with.

What happened? Did the thought of being bought out finally sink in? Did he have some sort of awakening while sitting on the couch at home, that maybe if he tried harder he could be a strong and incredibly key guy on the team?

Did a teammate call him out in front of others, which is what I was hoping for?

Or do the Canadiens have a terrific head doctor who made Bourque his pet project?

Whatever it is, I like it, because one can never have enough great skating, great shooting power forwards. It’s what Bourque was supposed to be in the first place when he came here in the Mike Cammalleri trade in the winter of 2012.

But as good as Bourque has been playing, and ditto for Lars Eller – another who many of us were truly disappointed in because we’d seen glimpses of greatness – we now need the DD, Max, Vanek line to stop spinning their wheels and lend a hand.

Vanek scored two the other night, but they were merely tip-ins on the power play, which is great but also one-dimensional. We need these three to dangle and pass the puck around like a pinball, like we saw when Vanek showed up in the first place when the line gelled and we were overcome with giddiness.

Vanek has 5 points in 6 games, which is decent, but his overall play is hesitant at best. DD has 3 points in 6 games and Max also has 3 in 6. All three seem invisible for long stretches, and we know absolutely that they can be much better than that.

But no one knows it better than them. The question is, can they do something about it, like Bourque and Eller somehow managed to do?

Against the Bruins, we need all hands on deck, which isn’t rocket science.

For some reason, whatever the DD line was doing in the regular season seems to be gone at this stage. They look tentative and unwilling. They seem nervous. Their passes aren’t of the pinball variety, they’re more like the kind I make.

And about others, is Brandon Prust (1 point in 6 games and often a non-factor in all aspects) playing at 90%, or 70% or 50%, and is his nagging shoulder the reason his play lacks pizzazz? Almost definitely, to answer my own question.

Should Ryan White replace him and maybe add a spark?

Should Douglas Murray replace Francis Bouillon and help calm down the Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla, Kevan Miller, Milan Lucic feistiness?

Kudos to Brendan Gallagher, who continues to be a whirling dervish. Kudos to so many, Carey Price and PK Subban especially.

The team’s in the thick of the hunt and it’s all we can ask, except for some great players to pick it up a bit.

Just need some tweaking and three more wins in the next week or so. And again, all hands on deck.

Addendum:

I just heard from two different sources, Marjo and TSN 690, that Rene Bourque has the flu and may not play in game 3. Gawd.

 

 

 

Thank You Carey!

An outstanding display from Carey Price. Brilliant from start to finish, stopping 48 of 51 shots, including a plethora of tough ones, and the Canadiens take the opener in Boston.

It was PK Subban, with his second power play goal of the game, hitting the back of the net in the second overtime to give his team a huge 4-3 win.

They were outplayed but they weren’t outscored, which is the basic rule of the game. The team that scores most, wins.

And they weren’t always outplayed, it just seemed like it. Tuukka Rask had to come up big often.

The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first with a blueline wrist shot from PK with the man-advantage, and the team, after weathering an early onslaught, settled down and picked it up a notch.

In the second, Rene Bourque made it 2-0 on a pass from Lars Eller, and Price was magnificent throughout, especially during a Bruins power play that was ridiculous in the fury seen around the net.

The Bruins took charge. They slammed bodies, stormed the net, kept coming, rang pucks off posts, came close far too often, kept the puck in the Canadiens end for several heart-stopping days and weeks  it seemed.

Often I couldn’t look.

Our man stood tall though, before, during, and after.  Price stole it for his team, but brilliant playoff goaltending is a time-honoured tradition, and legends are slowly carved from performances like this.

Not only did he help his team win, but he might have started the process of being in the Bruins’ heads. Maybe they’ll toss and turn all night, thinking of what might have been. Maybe they’ll think about storming the net on Saturday. Maybe they’ll start to question their ability to beat this guy.

And if they think they should be more forceful,  they’ll remind themselves that the Canadiens bulged the twine twice on the power play and they’ll have to think twice about being more physical.

Maybe they’ll blow their minds from thinking too much. Although Brad Marchand doesn’t have to worry about that.

For a hundred years, goalies have been saving the day on special nights, and on Thursday in Boston, it was Price’s turn. But he’ll need to do it again and again, although hopefully the players in front of him will decide to keep the puck in the other end more often than game one.

Another rule of the game. Keep the puck in the other end as much as possible.

The Bruins pushed hard in the third and would tie it at two, and the game became as intense as most seventh games. To win the first would be huge. Blowing a two-goal lead was already disappointing. Losing the opener would be a painful blow.

After regaining the lead on a shot by Francis Bouillon, the Bruins would tie it again with just 1:58 left in the third. A horrible turn of events. Sometimes I wonder if my old ticker can handle this sort of thing.

No scoring in the first overtime, Price continued to be sensational, and after Matt Bartkowski took a holding penalty at 4:10 of the second overtime, PK blasted it home just seven seconds later.

I’m sure Jack Edwards had lots to say about that.

And isn’t it lovely that the one player that Bruins players, fans and media consider the most despicable was the one who settled things. Has to be a hockey god thing. Thank you PK, for scoring the winner and wounding Bruins fans.

A huge game-one win. The Canadiens’ fifth straight playoff victory. Carey Price held the fort.

Random Notes:

The DD, Vanek, Max line was ineffective all evening but that should change. The Punch Line had off-nights too.

The Eller, Bourque, Gionta trio was Montreal’s best, and aside from Price and Subban’s heroics, my choice for best skater on the night for the good guys was Lars Eller. He skated well, made smart decisions, and had several fine chances. The same could be said for Rene Bourque. They picked up where they left off from the Tampa series. Many wondered if they could. And they did.

Brendan Gallagher came to play too. But many were quiet and we’re expecting a different story in game two.

Goal scoring recap – PK, Bourque, Bouillon, and PK.

Final shots on goal after four periods and four minutes – Boston 51, Montreal 33.

Next game – Saturday at 12:30 pm eastern. A lot of people hate afternoon games. I don’t mind them as much as many, but I’m not overly crazy about them either.

I suppose I’m used to early starts after living on the West Coast for so many years. For West Coasters, Saturday’s game is at 9:30 am, which truly sucks.

 

Second Round Coming Up!

At a loss for words here but I’ll give it the old college try.

Max, with 43 seconds left, sends our Montreal Canadiens into the second round and I’m numb and left exhausted. And it’s only the first round.

A sweep over the pesky Tampa Bay Lightning. Two periods of perfect hockey where the team would take a nice 3-1 lead, then a slight letdown in the third and the Lightning would tie it.

But Max, who couldn’t buy a goal for the past week or two, shoved it under Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis for the winner and all’s well in Habsland.

What a sport hockey is. Especially when the good guys give us an incredibly serious bang for the buck so to speak.

The agony and the ecstasy.

Moving on to round two.

A team playing with passion and drive.

Rene Bourque coming alive and again a supreme force. He never lived up to expectations after coming over in the Cammalleri trade. Until now. And in a big way.

Lars Eller, criticized frequently this season, especially on talk radio, coming through again and being the smooth and effective forward we’d only seen glimpses of this season.

Daniel Briere proving he’s a big time money player.

Everyone contributing, all the way down the line, with tonight’s goals from Briere, Eller, Gally, and then Max, which is a goal from each of the four lines.

And although the Vanek, DD, Max line was on the quiet side, Vanek would assist (along with P.K.) on Max’s winner. So the points from the line came anyway.

Imagine how proud papa Ray Pacioretty, sitting in the stands, must be.

The team was unreal in the first and second period, creating rush after rush, skating like the wind, checking Tampa to a standstill, clearing the net, making the right passes, doing all the right things.

I watched them play like that and I saw a real team. A team that takes a back seat to no one.

Now it’s a week’s wait. That’s fine. It’s going to take me that long to recuperate.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bolts 37-23.

 

 

 

 

Moving On From The Non-Goal

Not that I want to, but I suppose the thing to do is mention more about the goal/non-goal from Sunday’s game at the Bell Centre.

I’d prefer to move on and think about the guys getting it done in four games and continue to work on the power play during practice.

Frankly, it’s not the first or last time a disputed goal decision will be made. We’ll probably see several other instances in other series as we move along. Maybe as early as tonight.

The fact is, as mentioned by TSN’s Darren Dreger, the idea was put forth at one the general managers’ meetings, held in some palm tree-laden resort with a golf course, that monitors should be set up at the timekeepers bench where referees could have a look and see exactly what went down.

But the GMs dismissed the idea. It was probably getting close to tee time.

Tampa’s fans can complain but I’ll bet Jon Cooper and his players are now only concerned with game four. And this non/goal shouldn’t turn into the distorted opinion that it was a big turning point in the series. The Canadiens have outplayed Tampa in all three games for the most part, and Tampa should never have allowed Rene Bourque to bulge the twine after just eleven seconds (which is the fastest goal to start a playoff game at the Bell Centre).

But I expect the whining because it’s what I’d be doing if it had happened to the Canadiens.

The other chatter that just won’t quit is the hit to the head of Steven Stamkos by Alexei Emelin as Emelin was hurtling past him.  I’ve watched it several times, it happened quickly, seemed absolutely unintentional, and we’ve seen Emelin enough to know that it’s not his style to hurt, except for those thunderous bodychecks that rattle bones but are clean as a whistle.

Emelin’s not Matt Cooke or Raffi Torres or any of these dudes who have a reputation for such nastiness. He’s a punishing checker who caught Stamkos’ head by accident as he was flying through. Very unfortunate and I hope the Lightning star is 100%.

Hopefully this series ends soon so the only ones left to talk about all of this will be Tampa Bay folks. The Canadiens will have other fish to fry.