Category Archives: Tomas Plekanec

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Weise Ends It

Dale Weise would score at 19:08 of of the first overtime frame to give his and our Montreal Canadiens a 5-4 win and and a nice one-game lead in what should be an outstanding series.

Fast paced, close, tense, some bad blood, and the right team winning. Now that’s hockey!

The Canadiens easily could have lost though, especially after allowing four goals on just fourteen shots. But thanks to some timely goals and Weise pulling the trigger, all’s well in Habsland.

Carey Price wasn’t particularly sharp, but the Canadiens were still able to get it done, even with him being slightly shaky, and the boys on this night outplayed Tampa for most of the first period, much of the second and third, and most of the overtime.

It was one of those nights that whenever play moved into Montreal’s end, the possibility was there that things could go south quickly. And four times it did.

But the Canadiens never let things get out of hand, they scored some timely goals, and that big first game is won by the team that should have and did.

Tampa had opened the scoring in the first period but just nineteen seconds later, Tomas Plekanec wired it home and the teams went to their rooms all even, although Montreal had outshot the Floridians 14-4.

In the second frame, not long after Brendan Gallagher took a puck in the throat from an Alexei Emelin shot from the blueline, Steven Stamkos would notch his first of two on the night and put his team ahead 2-1. Gallagher would return thankfully. But he might not be happy with Emelin.

Back and forth it went, playoff hockey at its finest, fans everywhere on the edge of their seats and couches I’m sure, and in the midst of scrums and battles, Brian Gionta would take a nice pass from Lars Eller and score a big shorthanded marker that caused Luci and I to yell and once again scare the cat that has happened far too often this year.

It’s going to be a long series for the cat.

The Canadiens would take the lead in the third period after Brian Gionta had corralled the puck at his blueline and got it to Lars Eller who danced up the ice and found the back of the net. A beautiful goal, and the Eller, Gionta and Bourque line skated well and created chances all evening. Hell, all the lines skated well I thought.

Sidenote: P.K. Stock said we have one good line and the other three suck. Just so you know.

One of my big dreams is to be rich enough so I could have spare TVs and whenever Stock comes on, I shoot the TV out the way Elvis used to.

Again the pesky Lightning would reply after a turnover, and the way Price was looking in nets, I experienced one of those strong sinking feelings that I’m really not crazy about.

Things would perk up though after Thomas Vanek converted a great pass from David Desharnais, but Steven Stamkos wasn’t through on the night as his second goal would even things at four apiece. Tampa’s captain is dangerous. Therrien’s gonna have to come up with a plan to calm this guy down down.

Sadly, Montreal’s power play continues to shoot blanks, and when they were given a power play with just 2:01 left in the third, the chance to win it was there on a silver platter. But again…..

Montreal’s man advantage at this stage of the year is confused and non-threatening. Throw out the power play drills they recently did in practice and come up with some new ones. Ask PJ Stock. Maybe he can help.

Overtime almost ended quickly when Max rang one off the post, and usually after something like that happens, the other teams scores. But Tampa didn’t, Dale Weise did, and at that point, I breathed a sigh of relief and now my heart is soaring like a Tawny-Headed Mountain-Finch.

Game two on Friday. Without sounding like a greedy bastard, another win would be good.

Habs outshot Tampa 44-25 on the night.

Canadiens Clip Wings

Maybe a tad too many giveaways and Carey Price has seen better nights, but no matter, the Canadiens win another, a 5-4 affair in Motown, and thus, the train keeps a rollin’.

Seven wins in eight games. Fighting it out in the standings with Tampa Bay for home ice advantage in the first round. A team more and more are thinking of as a bonafide contender in the east.

It makes my heart soar like a reawakened Avro Arrow.

They almost blew it though. Some inexcusable turnovers and some slightly off-kilter work by Price, but many of the guys showed up for work, like DD, Vanek, and Max line, and in the end, it’s two points deposited in the bank of Montreal.

Now we have a good sleep, make sure we wear our lucky socks for the next two days, and get ready for Saturday in Sunrise.

Tomas Plekanec scored two goals in the first period, his 19th and 20th, but beginning in the second and then into the third, Detroit would answer whenever the Canadiens lit the lamp, and the hometown team continued to keep it close.

The Wings made it 2-1 in the second before David Desharnais converted some nice work by Tomas Vanek in the corner and it became 3-1 for the good guys.

But in the third, P.K. Subban suddenly decided to do what no Norris Trophy winner should ever do – lob a softball up the middle, which of course was intercepted, and it became a 3-2 game at that point.

The Wings then took advantage of loose play in the corner, the puck skipped out, and the game was tied faster than you can say Alex Delvecchio.

The goal scoring onslaught didn’t finish there either. Max made it 4-3 on a slightly offside play, Thomas Vanek then deflected an Andrei Markov shot and it was 5-3, but just 21 seconds later, Detroit made it 5-4 and it was still anybody’s game.

Until it wasn’t.

The Canadiens held on and downed the Red Wings who are fighting for a wild card spot but these are the breaks. No one worries about the Habs, and we’re not about to worry about hurting others’ chances. At least I’m not. It’s dog eat dog out there.

And Detroit is still in the thick of it, although Washington, Columbus, and Toronto are really happy the Habs won and the Wings lost.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Detroit 30, Montreal 29.

Habs multi-point getters on the night were Vanek with a goal and two assists, Pleks with two goals, DD with a goal and an assist, and PK with two assists.

Vanek has 5 goals and 4 assists in his 11 games with the Canadiens so far.

Max notched his 33rd.

Habs hit Florida for a Saturday night tilt against the Panthers. It’s always interesting to see how many down low, center ice, primo empty seats there will be at the BB&T Center. It must drive hockey fans in Quebec City crazy.

 

Habs Hurt Leafs

Canadiens top the Leafs 4-3 at the ACC that should have fans leaving the building feeling they got their money’s worth, and which keeps the Habs train rolling and the Leaf apple cart tottering on the edge of the cliff.

It was a back and forth affair, a bunch of posts behind Carey Price were hit, just two penalties were called for each team on the night, and it was tense going in the final minutes when the Leafs pulled James Reimer and the Habs were holding on.

Montreal looked like they were going to burst it wide open in the first when Max and Rene Bourque both beat Reimer on his glove hand, and maybe a third goal would have really got the ball rolling considering Reimer’s fragile confidence.

But credit to Reimer. He came up with some great saves after those two goals, the game never got out of hand, and the Leafs battled back to tie it until a late first period goal by Brian Gionta made it 3-2 Habs.

Scoreless in the second, and then the obnoxious Nazem Kadri was left open at the side of the net and banged it home to tie things at three.

It was nerve wracking to be sure, and heart-stopping when sniper Phil Kessel waltzed in on Carey Price. But Price would stop Kessel, and soon after Tomas Plekanec converted some nice passing from Markov and P.K. and the boys held on and got it done.

Rene Bourque contributed a goal and assist on this night after being a healthy scratch for the last five games, and he played with rare passion. So much so that HNIC named him the game’s first star.

Imagine that. Rene Bourque. Can he do it again two nights from now?

Speaking of HNIC, the intermissions were all Leafs, all the time. Leafs, Leafs, Leafs. This is one of the main reasons I grew up hating the white and blue. Rarely a mention of the Canadiens.

And at the end of the game, Glenn Healy proclaimed that the Leafs were the much better team on the night, even though Montreal outshot Toronto in the first two periods, the shots overall were even at 36 each, and the Habs won the game.

What the Leafs did win was in the hits department, with 37 to Montreal’s 18.

Dion Phaneuf tried to get rough with little David Desharnais, and considering the way Phaneuf fights, this was a fair matchup.

A great win, the screws are tightening on the Leafs, and the Canadiens are jockeying for a nice playoff seeding. It’s also Toronto’s fourth straight loss which adds to the festivities!

Now it’s Monday in Boston for Les Glorieux when they meet a Bruins team that’s racked up 12 straight wins. But all streaks must eventually come to an end. Like on Monday.

 

Good Wins, Fight, And Finish

It’s the Columbus Blue Jackets on tap, and so far this season. it’s been two wins for the Habs in their two meetings with the BJs.

On Oct. 17th at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens managed to blow a 3-0 lead but still won when Tomas Plekanec notched the winner and then scored on the empty net for the insurance marker.

On November 15th in Columbus, the Habs won 3-2 after David Desharnais settled it in the shootout, coming just after Montreal mayor Denis Coderre tweeted that DD should be sent to Hamilton.

Now this from Beatnik.

Joel Theriault and Gaby Roch go at it in LNAH (North American Hockey League) action.

It’s a good fight with a good ending.

Hockey Morning In Brossard

Luci and I went to the Habs practice this morning at the Sports Complex in Brossard, and I have to say, do I ever love doing this. Luci does too.

Grab a chair, sit behind glass in the open area with coffee in hand, and watch the boys go through various drills in an organized and business-like manner.

Stephane Waite had about eight players working on Carey Price from different angles and Price was up and down and didn’t seemed to be labouring with his knee.

Buday and Tokarski manned the other end with the rest of the guys.

Thomas Vanek was on a line with Max and Desharnais. The EGG line was together. Briere skated with Plekanec and Gionta. Prust, Weise, and Moen were together, and depending on the drill, it was various combinations involving White, Bourque, Parros and Michael Bournival.

And although it was cool to see everyone out there doing their thing, I found myself watching Bournival often. This is a kid with good size, is a beautiful skater, and has a great wrist shot.

My feeling is, Bournival (who was drafted in 2010 by Colorado and traded to the Canadiens later that year for Ryan O’Byrne) has a long and fruitful career ahead of him and the Canadiens landed a beauty when they got him.

Yes indeed, taking in a Habs practice.

A great way top spend an hour and a half. It’s nice that the public can do this and it’s all very comfortable.

Like a kid, I’m wide-eyed when I see the guys firing pucks and skating like the wind close up in practice. I guess I’m never going to truly grow up.

Brossard 1

Brossard 2

 

Habs Handled

Canadiens lose 4-1 to the visiting Boston Bruins and maybe the right thing for Marc Bergevin to do is hold a seminar for the boys and invite Mike Bossy, Steve Shutt, Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito and as many others that can be rounded up on short notice to explain how to get the puck over the goal line.

Seven goals scored in five games. Joe Malone once scored seven himself in one game.

And no matter that Peter Budaj didn’t stand on his head and happened to allow a couple of weak ones. The fact remains that he’s getting absolutely no help from his guys at the other end.

That’s four losses in five games. You’re trying our patience, team. You can stop the nonsense any time now.

The Canadiens dominated the first period, outshooting the Bruins 13-6, with breakaways by Max and Alex Galchenyuk and lots of good chances on two power plays.

But alas, no goals.

And the beginning of the end came in the second period when Jarred Tinordi got tangled up with the puck at the side of the net, and the Bruins popped their first of four on the night.

Of course the Canadiens had a chance to regroup when yet another breakaway cropped up, this one by Plekanec, but once again, a good chance squandered.

And suddenly, before you could say #*&%@#, it was 3-0 when the middle frame came to a close.

Not much else to mention. The third period saw another Bruins goal, and then DD banged one home during a scramble in the crease and all that meant was that Thomas Vanek, who was given an assist, finally got a point for his new team.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bruins 36-32.

Next up – Saturday, when the Senators pay a visit. Hopefully that goal-scoring seminar can be arranged before then.

 

Habs Eaten By Coyotes

With Thomas Vanek in the lineup and Dale Weise a healthy scratch, the Canadiens drop a 5-2 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes, a game they were in until they weren’t.

Maybe it’s because Vanek played alongside smallish Tomas Plekanec and wee Brian Gionta, but he looked absolutely huge. He’s listed at 6′ at the Canadiens website, but 6’2″ everywhere else, including Hockey Database and Hockey Reference.

I’m going with those. He’s definitely bigger than 6′.

But that’s beside the point. The Canadiens lost, although it isn’t the end of the world. They just have to win in San Jose on Saturday to erase the bummer.

The Coyotes struck first when a long shot caromed off Douglas Murray, but Andrei Markov tied it with a big blast. Then with Lars Eller taking a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, Phoenix once again grabbed the lead and visions of Eller in the doghouse danced through many of our heads I’m sure.

But he was back out shortly after, which was nice to see. I hate seeing guys in the doghouse all the time. And if life was truly fair, Rene Bourque shouldn’t have played since last November.

The killer for the Habs came with just nine seconds left in the first period when Phoenix made it 3-1, and as they say, Antoine’s your uncle.

Montreal did narrow it to a 3-2 game in the second when Alex Galchenyuk scored on a 5 on 3, and Alexei Emelin had previously bulged the twine, but the goal was called back because Desharnais was stuck in the crease.

We could also say the Canadiens were all over the Coyotes in that second frame, but the home team had four penalties to Montreal’s none, and that might have something to do with it.

In the third, I listened to the game on the radio on my way to the airport to pick up Luci. That’s when I heard Phoenix make it 4-2 and then 5-2. It’s also when I got lost at the airport trying to find the parking garage.

Random notes:

Along with Weise, healthy scratches included George Parros and Francis Bouillon. Josh Gorges is back in Montreal having his damaged hand looked at.

The Canadiens apparently didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 3:00 am, but no excuses, right?

Habs outshot the Coyotes 26-23.

Thomas Vanek, although looking slightly out of sorts which is understandable, still managed to have three or four good chances to score, which is three or four more than Rene Bourque has managed in the last month.

Peter Budaj was less than sharp. We need Carey Price back, but with the final stretch and upcoming playoffs, it’s very wise not to rush things. Groin injuries take time. I remember suffering one myself after that private party with the players’ wives. Took me months to recover.

Newly acquired d-man Mike Weaver didn’t seem overly impressive in his debut but I think it’s unfair to judge after just one outing.

Next, the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at 10:00 pm ET. Another tough game, and it’ll be nice when this road trip is over. Not only because it’s a tough four games, but also because they’ve all been past my bedtime.

Maybe we’ll see a camera shot of grumpy Neil Young at the game. He’s been a season ticket holder in San Jose for years. Ex-Hab Terry Harper, who lives a couple of hours north of San Jose, also goes to games there from time to time.

 

Wharmsby’s Habs Lowdown

As we head into tonight’s game between the Habs and Leafs, I thought that instead of only just providing the link, I’d paste this very important Habs info provided by Tim Wharmsby in CBC Sports – Hockey Night in Canada.

The situation: The Canadians have made the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, but they haven’t won a series since they advanced to East final in 2010 … Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin needs to add offence up front and some defensive depth, but in 2013,  his first year at the helm of the Habs, he didn’t make any major moves at the trade deadline. After Bergevin re-acquired Michael Ryder and picked up Jeff Halpern off waivers earlier in the season, the only deadline move the Canadiens made was to trade for defenceman Davis Drewiske for a fifth-round draft choice … Most of the trade talk in Montreal has centred around what to do with looming unrestricted free agents Brian Gionta and Andrei Markov. There was a report earlier this week that Bergevin has offered Markov a one-year contract extension, but that the 35-year-old defenceman seeks a three-year deal … Since the Olympic break, the Habs have plucked three of four points in two games without their gold-medal-winning goalie Carey Price, who returned home with a lower-body injury.

Playoff hopes: 3rd in the East, six points behind second-place Boston and eight points clear of ninth-place Washington.

Schedule: 21 games remaining (nine home, 12 road)

At home: Toronto, Boston, Ottawa, Colorado, Columbus, Buffalo, Detroit, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers.

On the road: Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Buffalo, Toronto, Boston, Detroit, Florida, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Chicago.

Restricted free agents: Lars Eller, P.K. Subban, Dale Weise, Ryan White.

Unrestricted free agents: Francis Bouillon, Brian Gionta, Andrei Markov, Douglas Murray, George Parros.

No-trade clauses: Daniel Briere (no movement), Josh Gorges (limited), Brian Gionta (no-trade), Rene Bourque (modified), Andrei Markov (modified), Travis Moen (modified), Tomas Plekanec (modified).

Cap space: $6.9 million US.

On the farm: The Habs have made good use of the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs, shuttling back-and-forth players like Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Louis Leblanc, Mike Blunden and Patrick Holland. Right wing Sven Andrighetto, 20, may be the next to get a shot. The Swiss forward is coming off his most productive month, with three goals and nine points in 10 games in February.

Habs Blank Cowtowners

It wasn’t a barnburner, the crowd was in something slightly less than a frenzy, and the boys didn’t fill the net, but they beat the Calgary Flames 2-0 on Tuesday, and that’s plenty good enough.

Especially with Toronto losing and the Rangers winning. Results that tie the Canadiens with the Leafs and keeps them one point up on New York.

It’s a slippery slope out there.

They also end their two-game losing skid. Yessiree, it’s all good news tonight.

We also saw something quite startling. A Habs fourth line that rocked, a Bournival, White, Weise combo that skated miles, checked hard, and earned a few good chances.

Good to see Ryan White back. He adds character, except for those times when he loses his mind. White suffered an upper body injury during the Jan. 2 game against Dallas and has only just returned now.

Newcomer Dale Weise can really skate, seems to know what to do out there, and likes to get down and dirty. It was great to see his fine first contribution.

And Raphael Diaz in a Canucks uniform potted one in his first outing with his new team.

Fine debuts for both of them. Although we want Weise to sparkle and Diaz to fizzle on Thursday when the Canucks pay a visit.

I’m not going to get overly excited just yet about Weise – it’s just one game from the ex-Canuck, but it was a fine outing with his brand new team, and he, White, and Bournival seemed to truly compliment each other.

Having a solid fourth line can prove very important.

Not the greatest game ever played on Tuesday night. Not when the shots on goal were 5-4 Habs after the first period.

But in the second, after the puck came within a whisker of going completely over the line behind Carey Price, the Canadiens then killed a full two minute five on three when Lars Eller and Tomas Plekanec were resting uncomfortably in the box.

It was a huge kill, and soon after, none other than Rene Bourque scored a bit of flukey goal, and the boys held on until David Desharnais found the empty net to salt it away.

A fine win, even though Bell Centre employees are still finding a small scattering of people asleep in their seats.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal 26-26

Canucks in town on Thursday, then it’s a flight to Raleigh to meet the Hurricanes on Saturday night. After that, the Olympics to watch and enjoy.