Category Archives: Shea Weber

Habs Strangle Sens

A Shea Weber blast in the first period, two rockets  from Andrei Markov in the second, and the Canadiens, with their 3-1 win, down the Ottawa Senators for the third time in a week.

Montreal’s pathetic showings against Detroit and Carolina earlier this week is now ancient history. The Canadiens win a big one, they once again widen the gap to three points in the Atlantic Division fight for first, and they looked decent doing it.

They’re back in our good books, thanks to Markov with his pair of goals and a helper, Carey Price coming up big when called upon, and a clock-punching, hardworking, hard-skating  effort by everyone.

They make me proud when they play well and win when it really counts. This is a team we can’t always predict. Sometimes they play like fat reefers were handed around at the morning meeting.

But when they’re angry, focused, and determined, they play as a team. Like a contender. Like tonight.

And through it all, through both good and bad, even when I’m mad at them for sometimes playing like they’re still trying to remember the grocery list, I love them.

I love them like me and my buddy loved hula dancers.

Random Notes:

Ottawa outshot the Canadiens 32-24 and were 2/4 on the power play.

A fine example of looking good: In the first period, Ottawa’s feisty Alex Burrows high-sticked Alex Galchenyuk in the face, and a few seconds later, Andrew Shaw tuned Burrows up. I thought it was a fine moment. Teammate helping teammate. Far too often in the past this wouldn’t happen, and it was always embarrassing. Seeing a tougher team is pure joy.

Next up – Tuesday, when the Dallas Stars pay a visit to beautiful downtown Montreal.

 

 

 

Habs Vs Hawks – Close But No Cigar

Dick Irvin Sr, who played for the Hawks in the late-’20s before his coaching career, which included Montreal, began. Dick would be 124 if he was still around (125 in July).

The Canadiens couldn’t quite get it done, falling 4-2 to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, and if you like your glass half-full you could say Montreal sits at 8-3 in their last 11 games.

But if you’re a half-empty type of person, you might say they’ve lost two of their last three.

And the kind of person I am? Mostly a half-full kind of guy except when I’m not. And as I’ve said many times, the regular season will be long forgotten when pucks are dropped to begin the postseason.

Tuesday night in snowy Montreal, the home team fell behind 3-0 in the third frame, but red-hot Paul Byron banged home a rebound to ruin Corey Crawford’s shutout, and soon after, Shea Weber blasted one from the blueline to narrow it to 3-2.

A great comeback by the Habs. Exciting. Tense. Stressful. Stirring. And then Jonathan Toews found the empty net to salt it away for Chicago and ruin all that’s pure and good.

It was an ‘almost’ type of thing. Corey Crawford stood on his head throughout, as the Canadiens outshot the Hawks 39-24, but try as they may, Montreal skaters as a whole are snakebitten. They have a tough time scoring. But again, the playoffs are a different ball of wax completely. The scoring will probably start then!

There’s the half-full thing again.

I’d say that the boys miss the net way too much but they probably know that.  But the fierce rally late in the game that would sadly fall short for Montreal made my heart soar like a clown or a duck or something, flying around with an umbrella.

Random Notes:

A couple of big games coming up the Habs, as they meet the Sens in Ottawa on Saturday and then host those same Ottawans on Sunday. Yes, as much as the regular season will be forgotten come playoff time, these are huge games for both teams. Time to kick some sand in the faces of Sens players and their fans.

And one last thing. I’m guessing that Alexei Emelin will be an easy target now, considering how he was out of position on a couple of Chicago’s goals.

But I’m sticking up for him because I think the pros outweigh the cons for Mr. Emelin. He lets loose thunderous hits, he’s a bone-crunching bummer for players racing down the side with him waiting, and he has a good shot from the point. I like his old-time hockey style and I appreciate anyone on the Canadiens, including him, who plays a rugged game.

He reminds me of Gilles Marotte, who dished out Emelin-like checks for Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York, and St. Louis in the 1960s and ’70s,

The problem is, quite often the lights are on but nobody’s home for the Russian rearguard.

 

Habs Roll Against Rangers

It’s five in a row now for the Montreal Canadiens after taking out the Rangers 4-1 in Manhattan, and it makes my heart soar like a blue-footed booby.

This one’s getting ready to soar.

Definitely a sight for sore eyes to see a big, bruising, and hardworking Habs team that was flying for the most part, and when they weren’t flying, Carey Price was there to shut the door.

What a combination – big, flying, and Price. That’s a playoff formula if there ever was one.

Sixteen games left folks, and then the real wars start. It’s good to see what’s developing.

It seems like a team coming together at the right time, and all it took was a coaching change and four rough and tough guys added after a couple of small ones were subtracted.

How big is this team now? Only five are under six feet – Nesterov, Mitchell, Shaw and Plekanec at 5’11”, and Byron and Gallagher at 5’9″. That makes 17 guys at least six feet tall, and that’s why my heart is soaring like a booby after all the whining I’ve done over the years about too-small Habs teams.

The idea is to make the opposition not enjoy themselves one bit when they play Montreal, and finally it seems the case. There’s nothing worse than seeing a team lined up at the blueline and half of them look like Danny DeVito.

So a big shout-out to the big guys, including the new Norwegian, Andreas Martinsen, who used his 6’3″, 220 lb frame to rattle bones all evening.

Shea Weber would score the game’s lone goal in the first period after a fine faceoff win by new guy Steve Ott, while in the second, Artturi Lehkonen and Andrew Shaw would bulge the twine and make things a healthy 3-0.

In the third, arch-enemy Chris Kreider would narrow it to 3-1, but Jordie Benn’s shot from the blueline found it’s way past Henrik Lundqvist, and it ended as a mighty fine Habs road win and a beauty of a five-game winning streak.

All in all, an impressive showing by the Canadiens who now shift focus to their trip west, beginning with Vancouver on Tuesday.

Six straight would be nice.

 

Habs Ruin Old Friend’s Party

It may have been a PK Subban love-in at the Bell, but it never meant the Canadiens would fold up the tent just because they’re gracious hosts.

And although the visitors mostly smothered the bleu, blanc et rouge for much of the night, it was a never-say-die, never stop working display by the Habs, and two guys mired in horrendous slumps, Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron, finally came through in a huge way.

Now, regardless of a slew of players still not producing, the team has found a way to win their last four, and teams behind them in the standings hoping to catch up, might now realize that it might not happen after all.

Three overtime wins and a regulation win decided with nine seconds left in the third period. You want a character team? I’d say there’s been plenty of character shown lately.

It certainly wasn’t easy against Subban and his Nashville Predators. There was simply no room to move for the home team, and if the Canadiens were going to win, they knew it could take a lucky break to kick start it, which is what happened.

Hard work behind the Preds net resulted in Gally coming out and wrapping around, with the puck bouncing in off a Preds skate, and suddenly, in almost shocking fashion considering the way the night had gone, the game was tied.

Then, with the clock ticking down and overtime looming, Paul Byron fired up the burners, raced in from outside the blueline, and the puck found it’s way past Pekka Rinne with just nine seconds left.

Four straight, with half the team slumping in a big way. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but whatever.

Random Notes:

The pre-game video ceremony in tribute to PK Subban was touching, and tears rolled down his face. Now, is it possible for fans to finally embrace Shea Weber and move on? We’ve got a Cup to win.

Habs outshot the Preds 26-25.

The Canadiens have scored only179 goals so far, with 17 games remaining. Last season, the one we don’t really want to talk about, they scored a total of 221 over 82 games, which was also lousy.

So out with the trusty calculator, which shows they’ll need to score 42 more goals to tie last season’s effort, which comes to almost 2.50 goals per game. The way they’ve been going lately, it doesn’t seem possible. But who knows?

Next up – Saturday in New York to tackle the Rangers.

 

The Dismal Beat Goes On

Late-’80s Claude Julien.

The wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens were rusty and sloppy in Claude Julien’s 2017 coaching debut, and their 3-1 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Jets ruined what could have been a fun breakout party for the new Blind River bench boss.

Probably rusty because they had five days off. And sloppy, regardless of who’s behind the bench. Nothing new about their sloppiness. They’d probably be a mess if Toe Blake was behind them.

Was any part of this loss Julien’s fault?

If he was Kreskin, he might have plunked Nathan Beaulieu into the press box pre-game, before this mediocre defenceman could think he was Bobby Orr during a second period power play, and which quickly showed he’s no Bobby Orr.

Or Gaston Gingras for that matter.

Beaulieu decided to do some fancy stickhanding and was promptly stripped of the puck by Joel Armia, who walked in and tied it.

And because Julien didn’t have his skates on, he couldn’t be on the ice at 1:16 of the third when Emelin, Weber, Plekanec, Danault and Max decided to show their soft and tender side as Big Buff muscled his way in from the right side and found Mathieu Perreault, who notched the winner easy as pie.

Winnipeg’s third goal was an empty-netter, so I guess Julien can’t be blamed for that one either.

Wasn’t Carey Price’s fault either, as the big fellow snagged shots left and right, including lightning-quick glove hand robbery on rookie star Patrick Laine’s laser in the first period and then again in the third, plus coming up big a plethora of other times throughout.

Price was his old self, which is a good thing. So were his teammates, which is a bad thing.

Gump Worsley, manning the pipes for the New York Rangers in the late-’50s, was asked what team gave him the most trouble. Gump answered, “the Rangers”.

Price can say exactly the same thing about his teammates. Coverage means more than just car and house insurance, boys.

Random Notes:

Jets outshot the Habs 33-20.

Either the Sens or Leafs will win tonight, considering they play each other. Which means if the Sens win they’ll be within two points of Montreal, and if the Leafs pull it out, they’ll be just five back. Both teams also have games in hand on the Canadiens.

 

Habs Rock Rangers

The Canadiens rebound from a 7-1 trouncing on Thursday in Minnesota to edge the visiting New York Rangers 5-4 at the Bell on Saturday night, and church bells ring throughout the land.

So if you hear church bells on Saturday night or Sunday morning, it’s because the Habs won. What else could it be?

Not only did they win but they did it by scoring three unanswered goals in the third period to do it. It’s almost religious.

The first period saw Andrew Shaw, returning from concussion, interfere in the crease which caused Phillip Danault’s goal to be called back,  the team was scored upon with Shaw in the box, and to cap off the night for the returning not-so-bright forward, he blindsided Jesper Fast and received a five minute major and game misconduct.

Too much energy and adrenaline for Shaw, and not enough brain cells turned on. But whatever. The team won. And regardless of the lack of brain cells, at least Shaw plays with an edge.

I’ve been whining that the Canadiens have been too full of peace and love for a decade. Time to be mean assholes. But probably a bit smarter than Shaw on this night.

Alex Galchenyuk, back from sick bay after more than a month, tied the game with a deflection, but quickly the visitors went ahead after Alexei Emelin took the man but forgot the puck, and Rick Nash banged it home.

But….I don’t understand.

Kevin Hayes barged in, wrapped his skate behind Carey Price’s pad, and dragged the poor bastard out of the crease, thereby giving Nash the open net. The play was reviewed and the goal stood.

How come? Please tell me. Maybe Kerry Fraser can explain. I’ll watch for it.

Things were heating up, and the Bell Centre patrons sat up. Brian Flynn would shove it home to tie the game at 2-2, but tragically, our man Chucky would lose the puck along the boards, reliable old Shea Weber was beaten cleanly, it was 3-2 Rangers, and life wasn’t worth living.

Until it was.

The third frame saw Alexei Emelin fire a wrist shot home from the blueline to put things at 3-3, then Max would outrace two d-men to put the boys ahead 4-3, and Paul Byron would give them a beauty of two goal, 5-3 lead.

The Rangers would make it 5-4 with 5:07 left, but that was the best the Broadway Blueshirts could do.

Habs win 5-4. And please don’t fret about Carey Price’s mediocre play lately, or cracks in defence, or this or that. This is the regular season, where we only have to be concerned about them making the playoffs, which they will.

The regular season is only a rehearsal, a fine-tuning, a time to get the gang ready for opening night – the playoffs. I’m sure Marlon Brando was an asshole sometimes before the cameras rolled, and then rallied to give the performance of his life.

That’s the Habs. Ups, downs, fine tuning, readying for the curtain to rise.

Random Notes:

The Rangers outshot Montreal 33-32. Price came up big a bunch of times.

Next up – two tough games on the horizon. Detroit on Monday, and at home to greet Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Habs Burn Leafs

Just when the young and smug Toronto Maple Leafs and their giddy fans thought the team was rockin’ and rollin’ toward new and amazing heights, they came up against the gritty Montreal Canadiens.

Suddenly, all isn’t so fantastic in Leafland, as the visiting Habs, finishing off a seven-game road trip that took them to winter wonderlands like Miami, Tampa, Dallas, Nashville etc, waltzed into Toronto and won 5-3 in solid fashion over the Toronto Kadris.

Alexander Radulov was sensational, as was Carey Price, but for me the real hero was Shea Weber, who pounced and trounced Zach Hyman after the Leaf forward flew into Price and sent him sprawling. Then, as the second period came to an end, Weber once again sought out Hyman and made his point even clearer.

That’s what we want, and it’s what I knew we’d get from Weber when he came over from Nashville. This is is a guy respected by all, he’s a big brother to some and a leader to all, and he needed to bend Hyman’s nose to say it loud and clear in Toronto and around the league that Carey Price is not to be messed with.

The team will protect Price, and the corner was abruptly turned after New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri ran Price a month ago and Price took matters into his own hands. His teammates were embarrassed and criticized, but sometimes a team in the midst of gelling needs to learn a solid lesson.

And the Canadiens have.

Habs

Leafs

Three wins in their first three games of January. Last season, the boys won just three in the entire month. I’m proud of these crazy bunch of beautiful bastards. A team held together with band aids, and they won’t break.

Just a tremendous showing in front of smug Leaf fans.

Random Notes

Habs were outshot by the Leafs 36-31, and were 2/5 on the power play (Scherbak and Radulov).

Nikita Scherbak, in his very first NHL game, scored his first NHL goal with just one second left in the first period to give the boys a 3-2 lead.

Max Pacioretty had opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the game, and Artturi Lehkonen added another befor e the Leafs stormed back to tie it.

Radu scored his power play marker in the second frame to widen the gap to 4-2, but the Leafs would soon make it a 4-3 game.

In the third period, Michael McCarron salted it away by bouncing the biscuit off Leafs goaltender Frederik Anderson, who was quite shitty on the night. Anderson is keeping up the fine tradition of mediocre backstopping in Cabbagetown. It goes back many decades.

No sense naming the Montreal injury list. It’s old news.

But if you haven’t heard, it’s Gally, Chucky, DD, Pateryn, Markov, Byron, and Shaw.

Next up – Habs at home on Monday to battle the Washington Capitals, then it’s back on the road to Winnipeg and Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday. The wives must be lonely. (And if you are, my number is 604-555-1212. Call me.)

Photos – First – the art was done by me in grade two. Second – one of my old ads from crumbling newspapers. Third – My hockey coin collection. I have the other four teams complete as well. Fourth – the iconic Maclean’s magazine cover, with added script created by my friend Ed in Ottawa.

Habs Win A Big One

It could’ve been as bad as can be. A loss against the Florida kmPanthers would’ve meant a four-game losing streak. A loss with Al Montoya in nets would’ve meant just three wins in ten games for the poor bugger, along with an extra loss when he replaced Carey Price in the third period of the San Jose game on December 16th.

And a four-game loss with Pittsburgh up next could’ve meant a five-game losing streak, and Habs fans from Timbuktu to Tahsis would begin making plans to jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

But they won 3-2 in overtime, so forget about the first two paragraphs. And they did it when Brendan Gallagher, in the midst of a horrendous dry spell, converted Phillip Danault’s sweet feed with just 2:37 remaining in the third to tie it, and in the extra minutes, Max sent Danault in alone, the game was won by the good guys, and plans for the bridge are put on hold for another day or week.

One other thing before I sign off. For months I’ve been racking my brain about how to change this blog a bit, to keep it fresh and original, and to allow me to not have to write the usual 600-word recap after games, which I’ve been doing for nearly ten years and which I’m growing a bit tired of and you’re probably tired of reading too.

But today on my walk, I thought of something. Maybe it’ll be good!

Go Habs in Pittsburgh. Slaughter those bastards.

Random Notes:

After a first-period fluke goal by Florida when the puck changed direction off Shea Weber, Max would tie it in the second on the power play, compliments of a great screen by Gallagher, Florida would go ahead again, and Gally would produce his magic as the clock wore down.

How nice would it be to live in the Miami area. Forget about the drugs and murders and kidnappings and alligators and famous wacko Floridians. You can go to a Habs game and sit anywhere you want!

Next up – in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Nashville on Tuesday, Dallas on Wednesday, and Toronto on Saturday. Bring ’em all on. We’ll see what this team is made of. And the Leafs suck of course.

 

 

Explosion At The Bell

I’ll take a nice, tidy 10-1 thumping any time. Too bad it wasn’t against Ottawa, Boston, or Toronto, and so what that the cellar-dwelling Avs were truly lousy on this night. It’s still good. Great even.

It’s also too bad it wasn’t against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who demolished the Canadiens 10-0 back on November 4th.

I wouldn’t have minded 12 or 15 goals, because I’m a greedy bastard. But when you see your team rack up six goals in the first period alone, heady thoughts creep in. Like 12 or 15 goals when all is said and done.

Oh, they’re not suppose to rack up the score? Hey, what’s a dozen or so goals among friends?

It was a fine night at the old (opened in 1996) Bell Centre, with Max Pacioretty scoring four times and adding an assist, Tomas Plekanec racking up four helpers, and a whack of others lighting the lamp or helping to light the lamp.

Just too bad Shea Weber didn’t get on the score sheet. He leads that fellow in Nashville by just 1 point (at this writing), and I’d prefer that our guy had a way better year than that guy. Twice as good, Three times even.

It was just one of those nights. The Canadiens were clicking. Max was flying. Alexander Radulov, with a goal and an assist, was inspiring. The fourth line, led by Brian Flynn was two goals, were demons.

It was time for early Ole Ole’s and a late Na Na Na Goodbye. Time for stress-free watching, some chuckles, some completely relaxed viewing of the boys blitzing the Avs.

But then there was the Alexei Emelin low hit on Joe Colborne late in the game that had commentator Gary Galley seething. Galley said there was no need for it. I say hit ’em for 60 minutes, 10 goals or not.

I think Don Cherry pooh-poohed it too. I’m not sure, I wasn’t really paying attention to the old fellow.

And why won’t Emelin fight when the shit hit the fan, asked Galley? Probably because he has metal plates under his left eye, Gary. The guy’s on the team because he’s a bone bruiser, he hits harder than most. It’s his job. What if Colborne had danced around Emelin and caused a crease-crashing that injured Carey Price?

Nope. Stop ’em in his tracks. Old time hockey. Montreal has seven forwards under 6 feet. A little meanness shown by anyone is a welcomed sight in this corner.

Colborne might have his head up next time he waltzes down the right side. And most players from other teams will see it on the news and possibly be a bit more tentative when they come up against Emelin.

Oh, and maybe it was slightly dirty. I don’t give a shit.

A beauty shellacking on home ice. Fifteen goals scored in two games. What a machine!

Bring on the Bruins (Monday).

Random Notes:

Habs scoring went like this:

1st period – Flynn, Pacioretty, Lehkonen, Pacioretty, Byron, Flynn.

2nd period – Radulov, Pacioretty, Petry.

3rd period – Pacioretty

 

Radulov To Galchenyuk

joe

Above, the Joe Louis Arena (the white building) in Detroit, taken a few months ago when I was visiting my old friends Mike and Diana Williamson in the Windsor area.

Yes, the Joe Louis Arena. Where on a Saturday night in late November, Alexander Radulov fed Alex Galchenyuk in overtime, the net bulged, and the Canadiens begin their five-game road trip with a 2-1 win over the Red Wings.

I might as well save the next sentence and just copy and paste it after every Habs win…….. Carey Price saved the day once again.

The Wings opened the scoring in the third period of a slightly dull game, but Brendan Gallagher would soon even things up, and for Habs fans, it wasn’t as dull anymore.

Gally, who hadn’t scored since Oct. 24th when he deflected a Radulov shot on the power play for the game winner against Philadelphia, hopefully now has that great big mother of a piano lifted from his back.

Random Notes:

Shea Weber was penalized in overtime for slashing but Price and the boys held the fort. Soon after, Weber came out of the box and rang one off the post. One of the more exciting moments of the night.

Charles Hudon was out, due to a fractured sternum (breastplate). These young guys. Can’t even play with a lousy fractured sternum. Hell, in my day………..

Replacing Hudon was Arturri Lehtonen, who was absolutely robbed by Wings netminder Petr Mrazek with a glove save that you’ll see for the next several weeks or months on TV.

Detroit outshot Montreal 33-24.

Next up – Tuesday in Anaheim, which means a late night for eastern time zone fans.