Category Archives: Tampa Bay Lightning

Trampled in Tampa

Four straight road wins wasn’t to be. Four straight comeback wins wasn’t to be. Even one lousy power play goal wasn’t to be.

Canadiens throttled by Tampa Bay 7-1, with Carey Price on the bench for the third period after allowing four goals in the first two frames, and Dustin Tokarski would be between the pipes for three more Lightning strikes.

The team stunk as a whole. P.K. Subban, for example, played like a nine thousand dollar a year man, not nine million.

But it’s all fine. I’m not about to mope about and curse. They’re still 3-1 to open the season and we have to be happy about that, don’t we?

I’ll curse the power play, however.

That’s it for tonight. My heart’s not in it. Something happened to me on Facebook today that has thrown me for a loop and I’m lacking the necessary enthusiasm to write a decent post, win or lose.

Someone I thought was my friend, a fellow Habs blogger in fact (although I won’t mention who), was ranting in a big way about the difficulty of finding a French broadcast for Habs games, and I replied with the comment, “You’re so angry”.

He let loose on me with such venom that I’m still reeling. And he finished the attack by calling me a “docile old man” and wrote one last word. “Die”.

Yes I’m shaken. He was my friend, although I’d never met him face to face. I don’t understand.

 

Wicked Late-Game Magic

Whew! I needed to go outside and feel some cool air. I overheated during the last hour of the Flyers-Canada’s Team showdown.

Habs sadly behind 3-0 in the third to the always tough Flyers, and then suddenly, like magic, the jets got turned on, the game became tied, and it was won in overtime when P.A. Parenteau capped off the sensational comeback.

Now that’s hockey.

I wonder what was said in the dressing room between the second and third period. Whatever it was, it worked. Who needs a captain anyway?

Through two frames the Canadiens were outshot 27-18. They seemed to be going nowhere. The Flyers were skating and it was one of those games where we tell ourselves that they can’t win every night.

Trying to be realistic. Hate that but sometimes it has to be.

But in the final frame, the “can’t win every night” theory got thrown out the window once again. The Flying Third Period Men flew like the wind, played like they knew it wasn’t over by a long shot, dominated those orange eyesores, chipped away, and it went like this:

Markov from the blueline at 7.05 and it was 3-1. Plekanec bulged the top of the twine at 9.12 and became 3-2. And at 14.40, Galchenyuk converted Pleks’ pass and the game was tied.

It was amazing. The never-say-die kids were back on even terms, the Flyers’ heads must’ve been spinning, and the final salt was added to the wound in the shootout when, after Chucky, DD, and Gally couldn’t solve Ray Emery and no Flyer at the other end could slip one by Price,  Parenteau finally ended it and the team skated off with an incredible 4-3 win.

Three straight wins for the Canadiens to start the season. Late game heroics. And in the end, after being outshot in the first two frames, the team managed 38 shots to the Flyers’ 32.

It’s a beautiful thing if you’re a Habs fan, but now we need to see a game where they outplay the opposition for three periods. This kind of magic can’t go on forever.

Against Toronto, Pleks scored the winner with just 43 seconds remaining. In Washington, Pleks in the third and then Gally in the shootout gave them a 2-1 win.

Saturday night, Pleks scored his team’s second goal to keep things rolling. Fellow countryman, rookie Jiri Sekac, must be in awe.

Other than the six points in three games and the sheer pleasure involved, the power play now needs to get in gear. It was 0-2 against Toronto, 0-5 against Washington, and against Philly – 0-3.

The Canadiens have won three straight without a single power play goal. But we know it’s coming. Yes we do.

Random Notes:

Galchenyuk burst in on a clear cut breakaway in overtime but was stopped cold by Emery, and in the preceding shootout, Chucky tried the exact same move – a little move to his right, again foiled by Emery.

Next up – in Tampa on Monday. Grab a nice win there boys, then come home for some home cooking, a familiar bed, and some very pleased fans.

Toker Comes Up Big

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Notes:

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

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

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

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

Bell Number Eight?

Hard to believe that seeing a game at the Bell Centre only ranks number 8 behind Minnesota, Washington, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and New York, but that’s what the Stadium Journey people have decided in their new 2014 rankings.

I was sure there was no better experience than being at the Bell. In fact I’m still sure, regardless of what they say. Number 8 definitely beats Ottawa though, which comes in at a dismal 29th.

Here’s the link with new ratings for all the barns – Stadium Journey Arena Rankings.

Chick Webster

Yes, yes, he’s wearing a Rangers uniform. Please don’t hold that against him.

Chick

Over the past few months I’ve chatted and exchanged emails with 93-year old John “Chick” Webster and his son Rob, both of whom live up in the North Bay area. Serious hockey country. Cold winters.

Chick played just 14 games in the NHL, all with the Rangers during the 1949-50 season, but was a solid minor leaguer in the EHL, AHL, PCHL, and WHL.

An example of a fine player who couldn’t crack the bigs because in those days, only 120 could.

Real nice fellow, who says he’s not like so many others of his generation who insist the game was better way back when. It’s great now and he enjoys watching, he says. But if he and others shot the puck in the way they do now, they’d be benched. “We had to carry it in, there was none of that”.

A guy who played hockey when the pay was low and you didn’t shoot it in.

Chick was playing for Baltimore in the Eastern Hockey League in 1940-41 and decided to enlist. “I figured the war would go on for a few months, maybe a year, and then I’d come right back and carry on.

Five years later he finally got back to Baltimore.

Chick also played for the notorious Eddie Shore while with Syracuse, and says he was a terrible boss, which is also what anyone who ever played for Shore says. “Shore said we should never take time off, and if there was no ice available, we were supposed to practice on the streets. I ended up quitting.”

He would soon have a cup of coffee with the Vancouver Canucks of the old Western Hockey League, and ended up playing senior hockey with Sault Ste. Marie of the Northern Ontario Hockey league.

It’s also a family affair. Chick’s brother Don played for the Leafs in 1943-44. Rob’s nephew Jason Lafreniere was a Nordiques, a Ranger, and a Tampa Bay Lightning. And Jason’s dad helped win the Memorial Cup for the Hamilton Red Wings back in 1962.

Good people, these Websters. I should ask Chick who he’s cheering for in the Habs-Rangers series.

 

Dear Wife

The title was supposed to be Dear Lucy and not Dear Wife, but I thought people might think it was about Lucic and we can’t have that.

My wife Lucy is in a Russia right now and she’s a huge Habs fan who happens to be missing this dramatic little thing we call the Habs-Bruins series.

She’s missed a lot, don’t you think?

Dear Lucy,

Game six was a beauty. Your favourite player Pleks was great. Your other favourite player Max came through in a big way. Your other favourite player P.K. carries on in his superstar ways. And one of your new favourite players Dale Weise flexed his muscles in front of Milan Lucic, mocking the thug for his actions in game five.

The boys skated and never stopped working, and your favourite player Carey Price, who reminds you of your son Denis, shut the door. And I’m happy to report that your favourite blond-haired player Lars, who you want to mother, has continued to shine.

I also want you to know that your favourite Russians (aside from your sons of course), Andrei and Alexei are crunching bones, giving Carey a hand around the crease, and making sweet passes, just like you knew they would.

You’d be so proud of the whole bunch of them.

The Bruins of course are oily greaseballs as you know, and they don’t represent normal North American humans, as you also know. More like those annoying Ottomans from a few centuries back that your ancestors disagreed with.

You really need to get up at 3 am and watch if you can find a channel showing it. Or have recorded Putin speeches and clips of him playing beer league hockey preempted everything else?

I know you’d be a nervous wreck and maybe it’s a good thing you’re in Russia right now and not watching it. And with you being away, the cat’s eardrums are finally healing after being near you when the Canadiens scored big ones in the Tampa series.

I just wish you were here so you could have seen how well they played in game six, and experience the excellent atmosphere around Montreal right now. It’s like the Bolshevik Revolution, only bigger and more important.

Could you also cook me some lasagna and mail it?

Miss and love you,

Dennis

Keep The Ball Rolling

No one says it’ll be easy, but if Carey Price can be outstanding in every game, the power play clicks, the team stays away from the after-the-whistle nonsense (as Max said), and all four lines contribute like they did against Tampa Bay, the Canadiens, underdogs for sure, can beat the Bruins.

Take them out and move on.

The dream never dies.

Go Habs!

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.

 

 

 

 

Finish It Tonight Please

Bury them tonight and be done with it.

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

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

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

Christmas

 

 

Canadiens Push Tampa To The Edge

Whew. That was stressful. But the boys prevailed, edge the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2, take a 3-0 lead in the series, and I’ll bet the bars and restaurants in downtown Montreal were rockin’ afterwards.

Of course, more will be said about a controversial non-goal by the Lightning than the fact that the Canadiens never panicked and held the fort when Tampa picked it up a few notches in the second and third period.

Frankly, the disallowed goal was a tough judgement call, there was some interference with Carey Price, although it might have had nothing to do with the puck going in.

The bottom line for me is, the Canadiens have their fair share of calls go against them in games over the years. Every team has. It’s hockey, the game is over, the boys won, we feel good, and that’s that.

It was a barnburner for sure. From the pre-game light show that began with the Stanley Cup banners lighting up one by one, to the amazing display on the ice of past and present players and voices, of Rocket hugging the Cup, Beliveau celebrating, Lafleur charging up the ice, and guys on the present team going full-tilt.

There was the kid wearing number 9, lighting things up with the torch. And legendary Ginette Reno belting out Oh Canada.

It’s the kind of thing only Montreal can do. With Habs haters grudgingly admitting it’s done well here, although complaining about the Cup banners and Habs fans stuck in the glory days sort of thing I suppose.

Just eleven seconds in, after Madame Reno had belted out the anthem and the puck was dropped, Rene Bourque burst in and beat Anders Lindback and it was 1-0.

Pre-game goosebumps and an early goal that latecomers missed because they had one extra beer at the Peel Pub.

Bourque once again played a fine game, used his size and great skating ability, and was dangerous often. It only took him 83 games to wake up. Is that an NHL record?

Every year the playoffs produce an unsuspecting star, one we would never predict in a million years.

So far in this series it’s been Rene Bourque, the one many of us wanted out of town on the next stagecoach. He’s gone from dreadfully ineffective to hugely effective. Who knew?

The biggest problem on the night was the Canadiens inability to bulge the twine on a big four-minute power play in the first frame, although they looked good and moved the puck around well.

Looking good and moving the puck around doesn’t guarantee goals though. But it kind of bodes well for the future.

They couldn’t score on that four-minute power play, and in the second, Tampa, newly-invigorated and playing with desperation, would tie it up. And it was after that that the controversial no-goal decision was made that would have given the visitors a 2-1 lead but didn’t.

P.K. Subban then dazzled with a rush that brought him around the back of Tampa’s goal, sent the puck over to Brendan Gallagher, and it was a 2-1 Habs lead instead of the other way around.

Absolutely exciting period, edge of the seat type stuff, and the third would be too.

Tomas Plekanec would send his team into a two-goal lead but a Tampa long shot flew by a screened Carey Price, which made for a seriously nerve-wracking finish, ending with a sigh of relief for everyone except Lightning fans as the Canadiens squeeze it out 3-2, and the noose is tightened.

The vibes around Montreal today were extraordinary, even in St. Hubert. Hockey was in the air. The flags were flying. I can only imagine what it’ll be like leading up to Tuesday’s game four.

A  stranglehold on the series. Finish it off in four and practice the power play. It’s the one achilles’ heel on a team that is playing well overall. The Canadiens went 0-5 in this game, which is just about the norm nowadays.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot TB 31-29.

Max had some great chances to break out of his scoring drought, but remains snakebitten. It’s coming though. We know how it works with him. Often it’s a flukey goal that lights the fuse.

Injured Alex Galchenyuk must surely be wishing he was out there being a part of this.