Category Archives: Tampa Bay Lightning

A View From Above

Here it is, the latest look at the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System, showing nice amounts of yellow spread out over what amounts to more than half the season completed (45 games played, eighth best overall).

As you can see, the only real slump was back in the latter part of November and into early December when the boys lost six of seven games. And January shows a bit of a dip but nothing serious.

All in all, a fine season so far, with a big test coming up in early March when they hit the big three in California and shortly after tackle the Lightning, Sens, Islanders, and then Lightning again.

Isn’t this more fun than watching the All-Star Game?

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Canadiens Drop Preds In OT

They were outplayed in the first period and for much of the second. But it doesn’t mean the Canadiens had to lose.

Because they didn’t.

Outshot 14-4 by the visiting Nashville Predators in the first period, with Carey Price doing what he does best – keeping his team in it.  And shots late in the second frame were in the 14-5 range for the Preds before the boys finally began to shake the cobwebs.

With Price doing his uncanny impersonation of a brick wall, the Canadiens eventually lit the lamp when Alex Galchenyuk deflected a Subbinator blast during a third period power play, and then PK would end it in overtime, again a missile from far out, and again, on the power play.

Preds’ coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t happy that his player (Craig Smith) was called for tripping Lars Eller in overtime, and had plenty to say to the referee as the teams skated off the ice. I hope his mother wasn’t watching.

Unlock a Nashville studio, a sad country song is calling. Your dog dies, your wife leaves you, and you lose in overtime with a man in the sinbin.

Did you ever notice that Laviolette looks a bit like Reggie Mantle from Archie comics? Maybe it’s just me.

Great comeback win against one of the league’s elite squads, and a big two points that gives Montreal a healthy 7 points up on 4th place Boston in the Atlantic Division. It also sees them just 3 points behind Tampa Bay for tops in the East, with the boys having three games in hand.

Great way to head into the All-Star break. Rolling along, feelin’ good, us feelin’ good, Peter Laviolette and Craig Smith feelin’ bad.

Now we wait a full week until the train fires up again, with Dallas at the Bell next Tuesday.

Shots on goal – Preds 37, Canadiens 27. But Pricer was his usual self, and PK enjoyed one of the those games that causes plenty of oohs and aahs from folks at the rink and on couches from Victoria to Vladivostok.

Reggie

 

 

 

 

Struck By Lightning

A few of my personal 2015 wishes: health, a big lottery win, and no Habs-Lightning playoff matchup.

The Canadiens are definitely in tough when they face this team, losing 4-2 in clear cut fashion on Tuesday, three months after being bombed by this speedy bunch 7-1 in Tampa.

Now, after just  a couple of heady days in the Eastern penthouse, Montreal gets bumped to the next floor by these Floridians who deserved the win and the Habs didn’t.

The Canadiens scored first, which usually means a fine evening to follow, but four Lightning goals in the second period sunk the ship. Max would narrow it to 4-2 in the third, but because of overall feebleness by the guys in red, a miraculous comeback would have been just that – a miraculous comeback.

PK Subban needed to go back to bed. A lackadaisical giveaway that sent a Tampa player in alone, which didn’t result in a  goal but no matter. Later on, a fancy move to dazzle the enemy, but it all fell apart and no dazzling was to be. And his second penalty of the game, a brain fart type of infraction, came from jabbing his stick at Brett Connelly while PK was still on the bench, which led to a slashing penalty and TB’s second goal which basically got the ball rolling.

Lousy night overall, and now the boys don’t play until Saturday when the Pens visit the Bell. Upon examining the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System (S.H.I.T.S.) closely, I’m now fully convinced the schedule maker has a drug and alcohol problem.

Random Notes:

Lightning outshot the Canadiens 36-22.

RDS went with their nosebleed camera for most of the game, which pissed me off to no end. Why so high? It’s bad enough when one gets stuck in the cheap seats at a live game, but to be just as high up from the living room is so wrong.

Habs Top Of The Heap

The Pittsburgh Penguins may have had their way with the Canadiens back on November 18th when they blanked the boys 4-0, but Saturday night in Pittsburgh was a different story.

4-1 Habs. A well-deserved win.

Montreal punched the clock and played a solid, hardworking, hard checking, all round fine game as they bottled up the Pens in impressive fashion, found themselves with meaningful scoring chances sprinkled throughout, and now sit in the Eastern Conference penthouse with 54 points, one ahead of both the Pens and Islanders, and two in front of Tampa Bay, the team they face on Tuesday evening in Montreal.

Max would slam one home in the first period to open the scoring, then a Desharnais slapshot made it 2-0, Tom Gilbert was wide open in the second frame and it was 3-1, and Alexei Emelin blasted a laser through a crowd in the third to put the thing out of reach.

A nice little run Les Glorieux have going now, winning 6 straight and 9 of their last 10. No wonder they’re king of the hill.

I’m back watching and typing in our little house in Powell River, after a year and a half of living in Montreal. It feels unusual, with the game coming on a 4 pm instead of 7, and in a completely different place than the one I was in just over a week ago.

I also hadn’t seen the team play the previous three games because we were in the process of driving across the country.

It’s great to be back, but I also loved Montreal. It was a grand adventure, and now returning to PR is strange and also fresh and  comfortable. The old couch, the  bigger TV, the kitchen table where I am now. The fence in the back yard that blew over during a recent storm.

And the Canadiens ruling the roost. All they gotta do now is take out the Lightning at the Bell on Tuesday. Widen the gap a touch.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot Pittsburgh 33-31.

They also went 0-4 on the power play,  which puts them in 27th place in the man-advantage category. But they’re on a serious run so now’s not the time to complain.

Carey Price was in the nets for back to back games, only the second time this year that Toker didn’t play in one of them. Price was between the pipes on Dec. 5th against the Hawks and the 6th against the Stars, losing both. But that was then, this is now.

 

More Magic!

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Habsville 20 that day,
The score stood Wings 1-0, with just 4 minutes left to play.
But Chucky tied the contest, with 3:09 to go.
And DD won it for his team, their last loss 4 games ago.

Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard was stopping everything. The Wings were moving, their game in control, and the clock wound down.

But once again the Canadiens would come from behind, pull another rabbit out of the hat, and they skated away with an unreal 2-1 win in overtime to the roar of a ecstatic Bell Centre crowd.

Six wins and a loss to start the 2014-15 season. Red hot. White hot. Blue hot. I’d almost given up on them as the clock wound down, but not quite.

There is always hope, except when it’s a blowout like the Tampa debacle, and when Chucky scrambled to retrieve the puck behind the net and lit the lamp on a wraparound, the game was suddenly not lost. It could be won afterall, and just 56 seconds into overtime, David Desharnais did just that for them and us.

Very proud right now. I had been slowly sinking into the couch, and now I’m alive and ready to rock for at least another hour.

Random Notes:

I think every time I focused on Manny Malhotra in the faceoff circle, he won the draw. This is a guy who’s going to make a huge impact in key moments over the next eight months.

Montreal had outshot Detroit 34-28 after three periods.

It wasn’t like the Canadiens didn’t make Howard work. They had bundles of chances – Parenteau, Malhotra, Galchenyuk, Desharnais, and on and on. But like the announcer said, some nights the puck looks like a beach ball, and  for Howard, it appeared this night was one of those.

Next up – it’s the Rangers on Saturday.

 

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.