Category Archives: Tomas Plekanec

Opener Goes To Tampa

Hockey puck crossing red goal line. Close view

A game of thrills and spills, of hit posts and pucks near goal lines, of guys skating like the wind and bumping and creating fine chances  in a tough, hard-fought affair. All in all, a fine game one.

Except the Canadiens lost 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s a heartbreaker but not disheartening, because Montreal, for the most part, looked just fine, and there’s no reason not to think that the series is for the taking.

For me, one of the better games the Habs have played all season, aside from the fact that most of the guys seem to have forgotten how to score.

My advice, from a guy who was a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers midgets? Shoot the puck at the net. And sometimes ring one off Bishop’s face mask for good measure, like what happened tonight. More of that would be good.

I also liked seeing the game go into the second overtime period. The Lightning had just come off a hard-fought seven-game series against Detroit that ended just two days prior, and fatigue should begin to show as things wear on. Especially when these two teams play back-to-back games in Tampa next week.

If the Canadiens are in tip top condition, which they should be, they’ll soon wear these buggers down. I remain completely confident about the outcome of this series. But a few of the scorers need to score of course. Is it asking too much?

It took until the third period before the lamp was finally lit, when a tip from a point shot eluded Carey Price. That was it. A one-goal game. And the way Lightning backstopper Ben Bishop was holding the fort, odds were that not a single puck would find its way behind him.

Some of Bishop’s magic was pure luck though, as in the case of Tomas Plekanec while killing a penalty, having a wide-open net, and  what looked to be a spectacular save by Bishop. But I’m saying the puck was shot right into the goalie’s glove.

Patrick Roy would’ve raised his catching glove high into the air in dramatic fashion on a save like that, like he’d pulled off something just short of the greatest save ever made. In reality, if the glove is positioned properly, often pucks will zoom in and people will ooh and aah, even though the goalie was basically full of shit.

With just 5:13 remaining in that frame, Max Pacioretty, who looks 100% after recovery from his head-into-boards incident back on April 5th against the Panthers, sped in and sent a wrist shot that Bishop gloved and then let drop, with the momentum of the puck crossing  the line, and suddenly the game was tied.

A glorious moment for Habs fans from Powell River to Pacaraima. Playoffs baby!

Tied until 2:06 of the second overtime period. And then, just like that, it was over.

Looking good, though. Sunday night the boys even the series!  I’m pretty sure about this.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Lightning 44-35 and won 55 faceoffs to Tampa’s 34. They also went 0 for 3 on the power play. Can you imagine the day when Montreal might go 3 for 3 or 4 for 4 on the power play? The thought scrambles my remaining brain cells.

Although Tampa was 0 for 4 on their man-advantages, so both teams sucked equally in this regard.

Alex Galchenyuk took three penalties, played a semi-par game for the most part, but also came close to ending things with 40 seconds left in the first overtime frame. But he didn’t.

Dale Weise also came close to being the hero, in the second OT period, just before Nikita Kucherov sank the dagger.

 

 

 

 

 

Price & Co. Snuff Sens

Ye Olde Coffin Nail

It wasn’t easy, for the players and for us, but with Carey Price being Carey Price, the Canadiens move on and the Sens don’t.

A big 2-0 shutout win in game six to end the drama. As tense as can be with the Senators swarming the Canadiens goal, with shrieks and oohs and aahs filling Canadian Tire Centre as the Sens poured it on with the clock winding down.

But Price and company withstood those heart-stopping moments, and now wait patiently for the Detroit-Tampa to end, with the Red Wings currently up 3-2 in the series.

Of course, whenever one talks to a Sens fan anytime over the next eight months or so, the conversation will center around the play being  whistled dead when Price bobbled the puck and it was banged home. But from where referee Chris Lee was standing, Price had the puck and that was that.

A good and proper call. Sorry Sens fans.

For the first time in the series, Montreal opened the scoring when Brendan Gallagher batted home a bouncing puck, and overall, the Canadiens as a whole played a fine, hard-working first period.

It’s a beautiful thing when the team is in the lead instead of behind, and not having us wonder if Craig Anderson can be beaten and a game made of it. A much better feeling. Love those leads.

It was just a matter of getting a second goal, which ultimately didn’t happen until Max sent it down the ice into the open net in the dying seconds. We need the Habs to open the scoring more often. It’s much easier on the nervous system and several vital organs. A second goal soon after would be nice too.

The second period saw the Canadiens play their disturbing ‘sit back’ type of game, at one point being outshot 12-1 and totaling 16-3 overall, but Lars Eller rang one off the post and and Tomas Plekanec had an amazing chance to buried it but it sailed over the net instead.

So regardless of the fact the boys were outshot, they still showed slivers of danger. How the air would’ve left the building if Eller or Pleks had buried one of those. It would’ve been a beautiful thing.

In the third period, Canadiens found themselves with a plethora of great chances, including a Parenteau and Mitchell combo on one sequence, Weise on another, and at least two from Brandon Prust. Beautiful chances, and when no light was lit, dark clouds began to form. We knew how these things usually work. Great chances, no goals, and the other team scores shortly after.

That’s how it usually works. Just not tonight. Because Carey Price was Carey Price and his teammates for the most part, stood their ground. Good, grinding hockey while withstanding an Ottawa team that refused to let up.

So nice to be rid of the Ottawa Senators. I’ll spend a couple more seconds thinking about them, and then begin wondering about the Wings and Bolts.

Either will be tough, but nobody said winning the Stanley Cup would be easy. For the players or us.

Random Notes:

Ottawa outshot the Habs 43-20.

Andrei Markov was a bit of a disaster, coughing up pucks, looking slow, showing uncharacteristic sloppiness with the puck from start to finish. We need Markov to be the general and in strict control out there, not a Mike Komisarek or Dion Phaneuf clone.

Hard and effective workers included, among others,  PA Parenteau, who was inserted into the lineup for Brian Flynn; Brandon Prust, who played a feisty game and as mentioned, had a handful of good scoring chances; Brendan Gallagher, who scored what became the winner and was his usual Gallagher self; Lars Eller, who once again was excellent; and of course Price, who rose to the occasion after not exactly being on top of things the other night.

Maybe it was my ears, but I think I heard the wild and crazy Glenn Healy give us what he called a Beatles reference when he mentioned things being “A long day’s night.” It’s “A Hard Day’s Night” Glenn. Or maybe you were thinking of “A Long and Winding Road”. Regardless, leave the Beatles out of your mutterings.

Tampa and Detroit play game six on Monday. We watch and wait.

 

 

 

 

Habs Drop Another

The Canadiens were pounded 5-1 in game five at the Bell, and although they’re digging themselves a little hole, they still need just one win in the next two games, which is better than what the Sens need.

So all’s well. Except for the part about scoring one measly goal in two games, with that lone marker coming after more than five periods. Goals have dried up, and when the Sens grabbed an early 2-0 lead, we were screwed.

Guys can’t score anymore, and when you look at some of our forwards, you see Max, Gally, and Smith-Pelly with just one assist thus far.  Young de la Rose has zero points. And a bunch of others have a feeble two points.

The pathetic power play, again firing blanks, went 0/3, while the Sens scored twice on their four. One power play goal on 19 attempts over the five games.

Maybe the power play will come together on Sunday. Or Tuesday. Just kidding.

It was all Habs for the first ten minutes of the game, but when Bobby Ryan’s shot found its way through, which gave the Sens the lead on just their second shot of the game, everything changed. The Canadiens’ balloon was popped, while the Sens experienced a crystal meth-like rush.

Tomas Plekanec, one of many who needs to do more, found himself on a shorthanded breakaway when it was still 2-0, and if he could’ve buried it, things might have been different. But he didn’t. And it’s cheap hindsight anyway.

A third goal was scored soon after the Plekanec chance and the game was over, even though it was still only the second period.

A couple of other red lights flicked on as this nightmarish evening unfolded, including the fourth that came from a brutal turnover by the wily old vet Andrei Markov.

It was 3-1 until that point, still a chance to make it a thriller, but the turnover and ensuing goal was a party killer if there ever was one.

All night the Canadiens, for the most part, failed to crowd the net and make life difficult for Craig Anderson, even though they outshot Ottawa 46-25. I’m going out on a limb and saying the Sens, or any team who might have watching from afar, weren’t exactly mesmerized by any Montreal onslaught.

But I’m keeping the faith. They still remain in better shape than Ottawa, and if they have any character at all, they’ll rebound and rid themselves of these guys, whether it’s in Ottawa on Sunday or Montreal on Tuesday.

I can see it now. Sens fans on Sunday give their team a nice standing ovation after 60 minutes.

And the Habs skate off the ice and move on to round two.

 

 

 

 

Beauty At The Bell

Have you forgotten completely about the regular season yet?

What a night at the Bell Centre as the hometown heroes edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in game one, with bangs and bruises and rapid fire goals the order of the day.

A hard-fought win by the good guys in an emotional and mostly bitter contest that has me chomping at the bit for game two on Friday. My back is sore from sitting on the edvge of the couch. And I can yell loudly now and not scare the cat because, and I say this with a heavy heart, she died recently.

Props to the Canadiens fourth line – Torrey Mitchell with a goal, Brandon Prust an assist, and Brian Flynn with two assists and a big goal which proved to be the winner.

The trio caused havoc all night, they skated miles and crashed and thumped while doing so, and ain’t life grand when the grinders step up and get it done with our 37-goal scorer on the shelf.

It didn’t begin well, as we saw Andrei Markov shovel the puck into his own net after P.K. misplayed things. It was a downer for sure but it was still early, and over that first frame, both teams hit hard and skated hard, and any good Habs fan knew that the game was far from over.

We also saw Brendan Gallagher blatantly mugged with no penalty called, and Devante Smith-Pelly rattle bones like we knew and hoped. Overall a fine first period, except for the mugging, but nothing like what was to come.

The second period was as wild and wooly as can be, and the goals came quickly. Torrey Mitchell would first tie things on a wraparound, and just 15 seconds later, Tomas Plekanec buried it after coming in from the left side, making it 2-1 Habs and life worth living.

That was good. But then P.K. got kicked out of the game with a 5-minute major and a game for slashing Mark Stone on the wrist, which sent Stone sprawling to the ice like he’d had acid thrown in his face.

Five minutes later, Stone was back. Soon after he left again. Then he was back. And to show how badly hurt he was, he also managed to get into a scuffle at the end of the game.

But no matter. Embellish. Sort of hurt. Maybe hurt. I don’t care, as long as the league does the right thing and not punish P.K.

Stone and his team lost the game, and it makes my heart soar like an Asian Ground Cuckoo bird.

Second period scoring didn’t end with Pleks’ marker either. The Sens would score on the power play to tie things. Then Lars Eller, our playoff weapon, put his team ahead with a delicious shorthanded goal. And shortly after that, Ottawa, still on the same power play, would tie things at 3.

Five goals in 4:43.  And soon after, Brian Flynn would score one of the biggest goals of his career.

No goals in the third frame, although, on a good Habs power play (their only one), Jeff Petry bounced one onto the top of the net and Smith-Pelly hit the post.

The team held on with the goalie pulled, and game one is in the books. With no Max and only half a game from P.K. And four goals on the saintly Andrew Hammond, who might need a hamburger to ease the pain.

Best of all, the team was alive and rugged and played a brand of hardworking, hard-driving hockey we rarely saw in that now-forgotten regular season.

Random Notes:

Carey Price came up with some huge saves, but this was a night when others stepped up for a change.

Watching Flynn, Mitchell, and Smith-Pelly on this night, and along with the always good Jeff Petry, makes me think that Marc Bergevin is an absolute hockey genius.

Shots on goals – Habs 39, Sens 33, with Montreal outshooting the other guys 19-17 in the second period alone.

C’mon Friday.

 

Habs Handle Panthers, But……

There was good, bad, and disturbing in the Canadiens 4-1 win in Sunrise on Sunday, so I’ll just get down to mentioning some before I head to the 7/11 to buy a creme-filled Easter egg.

Carey Price finally nailed down his 42nd win of the season, which ties him with Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden.
Michel Therrien grabbed his 200th win as coach of the CH.
Tomas Plekanec scored his 200th NHL goal, all as a Hab.
Devante Smith-Pelly scored his first goal as a Hab after converting a nice pass from P. A. Parenteau.
Parenteau scored a dandy, going coast to coast, grabbing his own rebound, and firing.
And P.K. Subban, looking like a slick forward, sent a reasonably tough pass across to Brendan Gallagher who buried it in twine.

The bad? Carey Price was run into on about five different occasions, a couple of times having his mask was knocked off, and….this is the part that really gets me…..his teammates did next to nothing to show that this sort of thing is unacceptable. Not even one little punch to a face.

This, with the playoffs just around the corner.

And the truly disturbing? Max Pacioretty, one of the team’s rare gunners, crashed backwards into the boards in the first period after being pushed by Dmitri Kulikov, he  may or may not have a concussion which may or may not be serious, and he was gone for the game.

No payback to Kulikov, who not long ago was handed a four-game suspension for clipping the Dallas Star’s Tyler Seguin. Not one stick jammed down his throat.

We might have lost our top forward, and it wouldn’t surprise me if our Russian guys Markov, Emelin, Galchenyuk, and Gonchar went for borscht with this fellow countryman bastard afterwards.

And the half dozen or so Panthers who ran Price? They walk out of the rink with not one set of stitches or crushed nose. No teeth missing. No swollen balls from a knee to the gonads. No lesson taught about not screwing with the goalie.

A good win that halts the three-game winless streak. But not such a good win with Max possibly being seriously hurt, with Price almost hurt, and the guys on the team letting it all happen with probably only a couple of F-bombs as their big time retaliation.

The nasty injury-causing stuff is beginning, I’ve been predicting this for months, and the reaction of the Canadiens was more than disappointing. Playoff-bound teams will see this and smile and rub their hands, which is the gist of my complaint here.

Next up – Thursday, when the Red Wings visit the Bell.

Fingers crossed about Max.

The power play? One for seven.

And one last thing before I head out to get my creme-filled Easter egg. DD, will you shoot the friggin puck from time to time?

Another Shootout Loss

For the second straight night, the Canadiens found themselves in a shootout, and for the second straight night, lost the damn shootout.

Into New Jersey they went, and out they came with a 3-2 loss, which also happens to be the team’s 5th defeat in six games.

And it wasn’t because Toker was between the pipes. It was mostly due to once again being tremendously shitty with the man advantage.

The stage was set though, with just over five minutes remaining in the second period, when, and I have a hard time even writing his name – Scott Gomez – the man who was as useless as can be when he wore the CH, a player I have a harder time looking at than PJ Stock, elbowed Alexei Emelin in the face and received a five-minute major and a game.

The Canadiens couldn’t score during this gift-wrapped situation and it hurt to see it. How I wanted a nail hammered into Gomez’s skull. How I wanted him to see a Habs goal on TV as he sat in the room and smiled and spit.

The boys managed just one shot instead, and Gomez got off scot-free.

Gomez was described as a “wily veteran” by announcers for nailing Emelin after the Russian had crashed Gomez into the boards a minute before. But a wily veteran would have been smarter than that by trying to inflict damage without taking a penalty. Something Howe or Messier knew how to do in spades.

Gomez’s elbow was for all to see. So make that “not wily” and add “incredibly stupid”.

There’s just something about this guy. He and Stock. I wish they’d start up a figure skating school in Reykavik and live happily ever after.

With just over 4 minutes left in the third, with the game still knotted at two apiece, the Habs enjoyed a brief 5 on 3 power play and again, couldn’t score, and at that point, visions of losing in the shootout danced in my head.

They went 1 for 6 on the pp on this night, and along with the lacklustre shootout attempts by Galchenyuk and DD and any other things you can find fault with throughout, it’s as disheartening as can be to see a lifeless and uninspired power play that has crawled along for most of 79 games now and made as much noise and damage as the popguns I played with as a kid when I was Davy Crockett in the field next door.

The boys did take a 2-1 lead in the first though, on goals by Plekanec and Petry, but the Devils tied it in the second period, and that was that until the shootout.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot New Jersey 33-18.

I try not to go on about bad calls if I can help it, but it was a horrible interference call on Alex Galchenyuk in the second period, who, as it showed on the replay, did absolutely nothing to warrant the two minutes. Big league officiating at its finest.

Next up – Sunday in Sunrise, with a 5:00 pm et start.

I’ve always been a big supporter of the Easter bunny.

bunny

Not Quite For Canadiens

It was 30 seconds of classic P.K. Subban in overtime as he swooped in with the puck and circled back and and fooled oncoming Nashville checkers.

But shortly after, our man would whiff on the puck at the blueline, trip Preds forward Filip Forsberg as he dashed through, and with PK paying for his sins in the box, this same Forsberg would bulge the twine, giving the hometown Nashville Predators a 3-2 win over the Canadiens.

It’s a point, though. And the team played reasonably well, particularly Alex Galchenyuk, P.A. Parenteau, DD, and of course Carey Price.

So all’s well,  and the team now sits with 100 points, which is what the previous year’s team collected after the full 82-game season,  with this these guys still having 8 games left to play.

Nashville scored the lone goal of the first period when Mattias Ekhorn outraced not one, not two, but three Habs in the process (Markov, Pleks, and PK). But early in the second, at 2:28, Brendan Gallagher would fire one home to tie things.

Later on, nice work from P.A. Parenteau to DD put the team ahead and things were looking just fine.

But a bad bounce in the third period that went offJeff Petry tied the game at two, and then in overtime, P.K. did his brilliant to not-so-brilliant flurry that finished with Nashville sealing it.

Random Notes:

The Preds outshot Montreal 31-29.

Alex Galchenyuk had a great chance to score his 20th and ice it with just over two minutes remaining, but couldn’t bury the old biscuit.

Nice to see two elite goaltenders going head to head – Pekka Rinne and our man Price. Both were solid, as expected.

Has there ever been a time this year when the puck went from PK to DD to PA to DLR to DSP?

Next up – the boys head to Manitoba to tackle the Jets on Thursday night.

Habs Halt Hurricanes

Slightly condensed tonight. Sorry.

Carey Price nailed down his 8th shutout at the Bell on Thursday soir as the boys win 4-0 over the Carolina Hurricanes and look decent while doing so.

Decent except for the second period when they let Carolina have their way a bit too much, and of course had to rely on Price to come up big. (Although a couple of pucks slithered through him and across the crease).

This team is spoiled rotten, having a goalie like Price to save their bacon when they slack off.

Dale Weise opened the scoring in the first by banging home a rebound after Brandon Prust had done much of the legwork, and Brendan Gallagher increased the lead to two after Tomas Plekanec stormed in and Gally finished it off.

In the second frame DD took a nice pass from Tom Gilbert while the boys had the extra man out on a delayed penalty, and in the third, Max, while trying to set up Pleks, had the puck bounce off Hurricanes goaltender and proud Ust-Kamenogorkier (pop. 322,000), Anton Khudobin, for Max’s 35th of the season.

C’mon Max. Five more.

A fine 4-0 win over a team that’s not that great, but a not-that-great of a team that the Canadiens can beat. Unlike others.

It makes my heart soar like the Birdman of Alcatraz’s buddies.

Next up – Saturday, when the Sharks swim into town.

Shots on goal – Canes 31, Habs 22.

Topped By Tampa

The Canadiens fell 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night, although they gave it the old college try after falling behind 3-0 before three minutes had been played in the second period.

Unfortunately, old college tries are never good enough because they mean losing. And this was to a growing rival who had already won the first three encounters.

It began poorly, that’s for sure. Brenden Morrow got his stick up into the face of Brian Flynn (who didn’t return) and on the four-minute penalty handed down, the Canadiens, and I know you’ll be shocked by this, failed to score.

Following that, a puck was deflected off Andrei Markov and past Carey Price to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead, and then, not even 24 hours after Max Pacioretty was anointed with a new McDonald’s hamburger (the Max 67), he grabbed the puck along the boards near centre ice, turned, and passed it back to none other than a free as a bird Steven Stamkos, who waltzed in and beat Price.

But because I appreciate Max so much, I’m won’t say anything more about this. Or bring up that pass to an Islanders player the other night that killed Price’s shutout. Because Max has 34 goals on a team that you and I complain about because they can’t score. And he had 39 last year.

He also came close several times after, obviously intent on making up for his faux pas. And if you don’t think any of the greats of the game – Howe, Richard, Hull, Orr, Beliveau, Gretzky, Lemieux etc, pulled a boner once in awhile, you’d be wrong.

Later in the second period, Pleks would finally get his team on the scoreboard while on the powerplay (yes, the powerplay), and in the third frame, P.A. Parenteau banged one home after Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop got crossed up behind the net.

But that was it, because Lars Eller was called for holding with just 2:22 left in the game, and with Carey Price pulled to at least keep things even, Steven Stamkos hit the empty net.

Now it’s across the state to take on the Panthers and hopefully better their record in March to three wins in nine games. Which, of course, is still nasty.

Random Notes:

There were a number of questionable decisions by the officials, including the call not made when Brandon Prust and Mike Angelidis fought and which was clearly started by Angelidis. But the instigator penalty wasn’t called.

And Lars Eller’s holding call in the dying minutes wasn’t flagrant by a country mile, and which of course, killed any chance of the Canadiens  squaring things up.

Shots were even at 34 apiece.