Category Archives: Tomas Plekanec

Early Season Habs Blues

Four measly goals (and a shootout marker) in four games. Three straight losses after falling 3-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks on opening night at the Bell Centre. Another night of the power play shooting blanks.

If this keeps up, those wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens should be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs sometime around Christmas and we can concentrate fully on the magic of winter, spring, and early summer.

But they looked great in the first period, which should give us some hope. Maybe false hope. Tomas Plekanec handed the boys a 1-0 lead just 1:15 in, after letting loose a nice wrist shot, and they even ended the frame with 16 shots to the Hawks’ 7.

Really good. I was happy. Not happy the way Hugh Hefner was probably happy, but still pretty happy.

The problem was, Chicago scored twice in 19 seconds with only a couple of minutes left in the first, so all the good work that had been done was crushed like a beer can on a frat boy’s forehead.

And the main problem is, even though the boys are getting plenty of shots in each game, these are shots fired by guys not blessed with good hands, which is most of the team. Who on the Habs is blessed with good hands – Pacioretty? Sometimes he is. Drouin? Hopefully.

Who else, Galchenyuk? The guy who so far in this early season looks like he’d rather be back in his apartment with several lovely young ladies. Maybe he should be somewhere else. Maybe Marc Bergevin should’ve moved him when other GMs still thought he was good.

Chicago’s third goal was a power play marker in the second period with Philip Danault in the box for hooking. A cheap call I thought, but whatever, Montreal was toast, because they only score once a game and that had already happened back in the first.

Next up for the Habs is a Saturday night tilt at the Bell against the Leafs. The Leafs, who score more goals in one game than Montreal does in four.

This morning on Sportsnet Hockey Central, host Daren Millard blurted out like a 12-year old,”Do you think the Leafs are becoming the Oilers of the 1980s”? I almost choked on my 7 a.m Labatts Blue.

The 1980s Oilers are considered one of the NHL’s greatest-ever teams. Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Anderson, Kurri. The Leafs, I’m pretty sure, aren’t quite the 80s Oilers.

The Leafs-media love-in is causing a whole new wave of Leafs fans. Refugees are pouring in, turning on their TVs, and hearing how fantastic the team in Toronto is from groupies like Millard.  So they become fans even though they don’t know the difference between a puck and Auston Mathews’ used jock strap.

Speaking of Mathews, here’s a photo of him and his teammates today doing some dryland exercises at their training facility.

And now – for some post game bonus coverage of action on the water. The seas were angry that day, my friends.

We were at a restaurant outside of St. Petersburg, Russia, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, where I went fishing at a small adjacent pond and caught a large trout.

Then the folks in the kitchen cooked it up and we ate it.

 

Big Game 3 Win For Habs

Definitely solid were the Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Sunday evening, with their 3-1 win giving them a 2-1 series lead over the Blueshirts, and it was a job done in impressive style.

Outshooting the Rangers 29-21, Les Glorieux stood their ground, skated miles, the defence and Carey Price shut the door, and New York ticket buyers rained boos down on their beloved team that lacked flow, mainly because the Habs made sure there was no home team flow.

The boos were music to my ears. Disgruntled New Yorkers, pissed because their team was outmatched by the proud CH.

That’s two straight wins for the boys after an opening game loss, no longer are they stymied in the neutral zone as they were in game 1, they’re on a roll with that magical momentum, and my heart soars like a pair of pelicans at the beach in Malibu.

After a scoreless first period, Artturi Lehkonen, on the power play, finished off a great sequence (Plekanec to Gallagher to Lehkonen), while in the final frame, Shea Weber, on another man-advantage, converted some nifty work by Alex Galchenyuk.

Weber’s goal proved to be the winner, but it wasn’t the final marker. Alexander Radulov danced in and extended his stick and the puck one-handed around Henrik Lundqvist, and the game for all intents and purposes was over. Although New York would pot one with 2:56 left and Lundqvist on the bench to make it a slightly more respectable 3-1 game.

A great win, the boys are rolling, Claude Julien seems to be molding them into a tight and impressive playoff club, and I think the Rangers to a man know they’re in deep trouble.

Their fans do, that’s for sure.

And at the risk of sounding smug, greedy, and obnoxious, it’s a beautiful thing when a team can dispatch the enemy in less than seven games. The postseason is a brutal marathon, and we don’t want the series to go long.

I’m not smug. If I can’t be a player or coach or stickboy, I have to do my own mental planning from a distance. And my mental planning means winning the series in five games, or at the most, six.

Next game – Tuesday in NY, at the normal time.

 

 

Great Game 2

Above – Habs fans in Powell River watch the game on the big screen.

Finally I was able to see the game properly, after my pal Homer kidnapped me last night and I was forced to listen to him talk about how the World Cup of Hockey, the World Baseball Classic, and the Sedin twins sucked.

But we did accomplish one big thing as I tried to watch the game out of the corner of my eye. We’re gonna form a band and call ourselves Carnaby Knights. I’m the singer.

This morning I saw how a team fought, hit, worked, and didn’t give up, and the Bell Centre crowd definitely got their money’s worth. It’s like I’ve said about a dozen times over the past several months – the regular season is long gone, forgotten, never to be thought of again, because the playoffs are a whole other animal.

Weber was a beast, and when he’s pissed off, he’s the Weber we wanted. Plekanec was back to the one we knew and loved. Max, Radulov, Petry, Byron, and heck, almost everyone, played hard, smart, and desperate.

Gallagher…..I have no words. Sort of. He’s a warrior, old school yet new school. One of a kind. I thought the abuse he takes year in and year out had begun to slow him down a bit. I was wrong.

Gallagher’s taking plenty from the Rangers, and frankly, it’s up to the officials to call more. It’s ridiculous how one guy can get mugged constantly but the whistle is never blown.

The series is tied, and the hockey is great. I apologize for last night. Blame Homer.

Game three goes Sunday at the normal time.

Below, Rangers fans head back to Manhattan.

Canadiens Even Things Up

The Canadiens evened the series  on Friday night after Tomas Plekanec, a player Habs fans have almost given up lately due to his lack of fire power, scored with just 17 seconds left in regulation time, and Alexander Radulov, with his marker at 18:34 into the first overtime frame, gave the Canadiens a 4-3 overtime win in game two of the Stanley Cup opening series.

A big win. Huge.  Life is worth living again!

Now that’s hockey!

Things now stand at a game apiece going into New York on  Sunday evening, and for the Canadiens, it’s now time to grab the series lead.

I just can’t say enough about this big win tonight, I feel like shouting, but I’m a bit drunk. I’m also worried that I’ll wake up Lucy and baby Lyla.

I was out with my buddy Homer and his lovely lady Corrine tonight, and Homer likes the Habs, only because he listens to Chris Nilan on Nilan’s radio talk show every morning. Basically, Homer’s a Canucks fan because he grew up on the west coast, but because of Nilan he’s cheering for the Habs,  and whatever,  he’s a great guy.

I missed a lot of tonight’s game, but it’s not my fault. I love the result, that’s all.  Now the series is tied. Go Habs.

 

 

 

 

Stuck By Sabres

The Canadiens scored just once (Tomas Plekanec), while the Buffalo Sabres netted two, which means, um…..the Sabres’ win ends the Canadiens five-game winning streak.

It was a meaningless tilt for the Habs standings-wise, although continuing along their red-hot path would’ve been nice. Momentum is always good.

But it was also meaningful because Carey Price was almost hurt after getting bowled over (and who knows, maybe he is hurt), and Alexei Emelin went off late in the second and never returned.

Please Mr. Cleghorn and the rest of the Habs hockey gods, no injuries now with just two games left before the postseason. Is it asking too much?

And gods, please have the Canadiens hit the net sometimes. Is that also asking too much? Hit the net for ***** sakes. High, wide, just missed, close, high again, wide again.

Damn.

Friday at home against Tampa Bay, and Saturday in Detroit before we get down to the nitty gritty next week. Once again, Sprague and gang, no injuries and better aim please.

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.

 

Canadiens Nail Leafs

A sweet pass from Tomas Plekanec to Andrew Shaw in overtime, and the Habs skate off with a 3-2 win in Toronto, thus ending Leaf fans and the HNIC crew’s dream of their beloved team crawling within two points of the boys from Quebec.

If only they could’ve won, sighed Leaf fans as they left bars or turned off the lights at home and tried to sleep, and the HNIC crew wrapped things up at the rink and sadly shook their heads and looked broken.

It was a back and forth game, one that had extra purpose considering the standings and the built-in rivalry, and for a change, one that probably kept many fans on the edge of their chairs and couches throughout.

Of course I don’t know for sure about the edge of chairs and couches. I’m only guessing.

A fast-paced affair which could’ve gone either way, and I could say that folks got their money’s worth at the ACC, except a bunch of lower seats probably went for a grand or so, so maybe the people sitting there didn’t exactly.

Depends on what a grand means to them I guess.

But it went Montreal’s way for a change, they keep their distance from a bunch of pretenders, including the Torontonians, after two sharpshooters and one Shaw raked the Leafs into the ditch.

A struggling team gets it done against a good young Toronto team that gets TV announcers’ libidos doing the watusi.

The Leafs would open the scoring in the first period when Habs rearguard Nikita Nesterov not only had the puck go in off him, but played his man in front so softly it was like he was up against Betty White.

Greg Pateryn sat while Nesterov dressed. Next game, in New Jersey on Monday, maybe that’ll change. Softness isn’t cool, unless it’s toilet paper and a few other things, like women.

In the second frame, with the man advantage, Max would bury a beauty pass from Alex Galchenyuk, and nine minutes later, Galchenyuk would bulge the twine with a great shot that gave the boys a 2-1 lead.

In the third, again with poor defensive coverage (this time by Alexei Emelin), Leafs super-rookie Auston Mathews would tie things and send it into overtime.

And that’s where Pleks and Shaw worked their magic.

This final photo shows the Rocket scoring his final goal, his 626th, on April 12, 1960 during the Stanley Cup Finals against the Leafs. I wrote to a Toronto paper after it happened, asking if they’d send me a photo, and they did.

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 Smoke Flames

So many good things to be happy with, and only one bad thing to grind teeth about. So as far as the big picture goes, the Canadiens 5-1 win over the visiting Calgary Flames was sensational and far out and, as we used to say, uptight and out of sight. (How stupid is that?)

But that one thing……….grrrr.

Five goals, including a pair of power play markers, and the Habs blitzed the Flames in a big way, even with the visitors outshooting Montreal 31-20.

A big night that saw a Tomas Plekanec shorthanded goal, a Calgary 5-on-3 man advantage for 50-odd seconds that was killed in style, two goals on the power play from Alexander Radulov, delightful clear cut breakaways by Philip Danault and Andrew Shaw (although they didn’t score)…….

……….and last but not least, Carey Price, the guy people have been wondering about lately, coming up big and kicking out everything that came his way.

Everything expect one puck with 1.1 seconds left in the game. 1.1 SECONDS LEFT IN THE GAME. With Radulov in the box, but whatever.

Would’ve been nice to see Price get that shutout. But he didn’t, and that’s that. We focus instead on a big night with a somewhat surprising 5-goal output, a power play that went 2/3, and a huge win after dropping their last 3 of 4 games and 5 of 8.

Also, because they’re good solid Habs fans, a hearty shout-out to all the folks at the Bell Centre who braved what seems to be ultra-shitty, icy weather in the Montreal area this evening.

I myself was warm and cozy, with the fridge, bed, and bathroom within very short walking distance.

1.1 seconds. Damn.

Random Notes:

Aside from Plek’s shorthanded goal and Radulov’s pair, the other goals came from the sticks of Andrew Shaw, who opened the scoring in the first period with under a minute remaining, and a great Carr-Mitchell-Carr bing bang boom in the third that made it 4-0 at that point.

The win was Carey Price’s first after losing his last three. A shutout would’ve been nice………….

Next up – Thursday in Brooklyn to tackle the Islanders.

 

 

 

 

Habs Handle Caps

Old mitts. Maybe older than you.

The Canadiens held on and edged the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Caps ice, and displayed a fine rebound game after their pathetic effort Friday against the San Jose Sharks.

Artturi Lehkonen and Jeff Petry scored for Montreal, and Carey Price made his own personal statement.

After the Canadiens’ great start, especially in October when they racked up eight wins and a shootout loss, each win now makes their chances of making the post season even more secure.

It also means that although they have their down moments, like the Sharks game, or that 10-0 thing in Columbus, once the playoffs start you’ll forget completely about the regular season.

You say you won’t but you will.

And if you look at last year, the year of The Nightmare (also known as The Worst Habs Season Ever), you’ll see that the collapse to end all collapses began in December, when they won the first game of the month, then dropped the next four, won again in the middle of the month, then lost another six, and then won just once more before falling in their final game of December.

Three wins in December and three times in January. And the sky did fall.

But I’m now happy to report that the 2016-17 team has won four times already in December, with six games to go, and they remain top of the heap with Pittsburgh and a couple of other pretenders.

So they’ll make the playoffs (yes they will), we’ll forget about anything else, and then they’ll win the Stanley Cup because everyone will be healthy (Andrei Markov left early tonight) and Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec will see their luck change and light several lamps as the CH steamrolls everyone in their path..

Oh, you have your doubts? Well you obviously haven’t been talking to Sprague Cleghorn and Didier Pitre like I have.