Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

Tracker On Duty

I may not be on top of things but the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System (S.H.I.T.S) never sleeps.

As you can see, a a bit of an up and down stretch beginning in late November, but the boys remain in a somewhat enviable overall picture , sitting 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference, and 9th overall.

It’s Toronto I’m concerned about, with the bastards just a point behind with a game in hand.

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A Screeching Halt

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Maybe playing seven games in fourteen days doesn’t help. But the party line is there’s no excuses, so Canadiens lose 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, plain and simple, curtain closed.

They had lots of chances but no red light. Jiri Sekac barged in with the puck several times and came close. Lots of guys came close. But the six game streak couldn’t become seven, and now it’s the St. Louis Blues on Thursday to think about.

I don’t mind a loss here and there. They have to play 82 games and losses happen. But I know you know that, and I don’t know why I’m babbling.

Last year, top dogs Boston and Anaheim each won 54 games, not 82. The Stanley Cup-winning L.A. Kings won 46. These teams lost sometimes. Just like the Habs did tonight against Pittsburgh.

My main concern is that a loss could become two. And then three becomes a possibility. Four even. Other than that, everything’s cool and it could be much worse. We could be Leaf fans and have to compute a 9-2 demolishing by the Nashville Predators tonight.

Time to turn the TV off. Time to get back to my Johnny Cash biography now.

 

Canadiens Stomp Bruins

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Imagine that. The Bruins thumped 6-1 in Toronto and 24 hours later smoked 5-1 by the Canadiens.

Take that, Bruins fans.

The Canadiens looked just fine on this night, a solid three periods led by the guy whose name was mentioned beforehand not for what he might accomplish, but for what Milan Lucic might accomplish.

Dale Weise was a ball of fire, a guy who came to play, and with his fight in the first period with Gregory Campbell, then seeing him tie the score in the second on a penalty shot and setting up Max later on, it all added up to a sensational Gordie Howe hat trick.

But I’ll take it one step further, because after all that, he later on crashed the Bruins net in serious fashion, so I’m gonna call it a Rocket Richard home run.

Very impressive, those crazy Habs, even though, as sure as Bob Dylan won’t be singing opera and not one winning number will be on my lottery ticket, the Canadiens wouldn’t hit the back of the net in the first period and once again fell behind.

They didn’t get down on themselves though. They were dominant for the most part, and the worrisome power play was sharp all night and would eventually click on the fifth try when Jiri Sekac made it 5-1. But I’m  ahead of myself here. Tons of stuff went down.

Max Pacioretty was flying all night, and after not scoring on a last minute, clear cut breakaway in the first period, would light the lamp in the second and again in the third.

Nathan Beaulieu found himself in a fight with Matt Fraser and clocked the Bruin with a right that sent the fellow to the room with a sore face, leaving Beaulieu to add ice to the hand. Fraser had goaded Beaulieu to drop ‘em, and such a mistake it was.

40-year old Sergei Gonchar, after just one practice and playing in his first game with the Habs after coming over from Dallas in the Moen trade, was solid and effective all evening, including on the power play where he showed poise and smarts, otherwise known as experience.

Tomas Plekanec pulled off the coolest little between-the-legs pass to Gally in the crease, but unfortunately it couldn’t be finished off. Looked great though.

Lars Eller notched his third goal in three games with a nifty backhand after great work by Gally. Eller’s a new man.

Pleks had a wide open net on a power play and hit the crossbar. But I think at that point we could all feel a power play goal was only a matter of time and it was.

PK stood up to Lucic after the big thug had levelled Sekac. Luckily nothing developed, but good on PK anyway.

Weise looked like Mike Bossy on the penalty shot goal.

Alexei Emelin bumped and thumped as he likes to do against the Bruins. It’s a beautiful thing when he’s rattling bones. Especially Beantown bones.

Alex Galchenyuk pulled off several very cool moves to once again give us a more hints of what’s in store for years to come.

And Carey Price continues to stop most everything and show once again that when he’s doing his thing, the team always has a chance to win.

Great game, tremendous result. And if you turn your TV or radio down and open the window, that sound you hear are Bruins fans everywhere grinding their teeth and pushing down little old ladies..

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot Boston 34-22 and dominated much of the time.

The power play had a new feel to it. Therrien had two left handed blueliners, Markov and Gonchar, paired up, and two righties, Subban and Gilbert, for most of the five man-advantages.

Near the end, Nathan Beaulieu was rewarded for his fine play over the evening by getting some time on the power play as well. And it wasn’t just the d-men changing the environment. The power play units up front stormed the net, played like they were on a mission, and finally…..finally….Sekac scored after the team’s 28 previous attempts had proved futile.

Next up – Saturday when Philadelphia pays a visit.

 

Bridge Over Toronto Waters

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I guess it’s been decided that the future Champlain Bridge in Montreal won’t be named after Maurice Richard after all, which I respect but am disappointed about.

He was my hero when I was a young kid and he remains my hero now. No athlete has ever come close to the impact the Rocket had on me.

My friend Paul sent me a National Post article about how Toronto should name one of their bridges after the Rocket instead. Imagine.

It’s a fun piece and can be seen right here – A Rocket bridge in Toronto

Suitable For Framing

I was going to wait until the Canadiens and Leafs squared off before posting this great picture but I see that they don’t play each other again until Valentine’s Day which is a long way away. So I decided to put it up today instead.

A great old Habs/Leafs illustration on the cover of a 1949 MacLean’s magazine, created by Canadian artist Franklin Arbuckle and sent to me by Ed, a fellow who was at John Lennon’s Montreal press conference in 1969 and who handed John a Canadiens sweater and toque to wear, which you can see here – Lennon’s Habs sweater.

From Ed’s pile of old magazines – back in the days when players from opposing teams sat together in the penalty box.

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Small Habs Aura Thought

If you hate the Habs, you might want to stop reading right about now. Although if you hate the Habs, you’re probably not on this page anyway.

Fans of teams in western Canada must really like it when the boys come to town. I’m pretty sure about that. I used to think it would bug the hell out of them with all the Canadiens sweaters in the crowd and loud cheers and such, but now I think these folks like it, even if they’re ashamed of themselves for liking it.

There’s a cool aura about the Habs, although many say otherwise. It comes up all the time about how the aura is gone. It’s hard to hear that. People who say this sort of thing aren’t taking our feelings into consideration.

This is the team many of these western fans’ moms or dads, aunts or uncles, grandmas or grandpas cheered for, and it doesn’t matter that they themselves grew up preferring Lanny McDonald or the Sedins, they’re screwed and they come by it naturally.

The Canadiens are in their bloodstream and unless they go to Switzerland and get a complete oil change like Keith Richards apparently did, there’s nothing they can do about it.

Of course they want their team to kick ass. But it’s a special visit anyway.

 

 

 

A Fine Hat & Those Wings

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I can’t bring myself to throw it out. We’ve been through so much.

Canadiens meet the 3-1-1 Detroit Red Wings tonight at the Bell, a team led by the Zetterberg, Nyquist, Franzen line, and a team that beat the Leafs in back-to-back games last Friday and Saturday.

It’s good that they beat the Leafs, but for me at least, that’s as far as it goes. Many people like and admire the Wings. I’m not one of them.

Go Habs. Throttle those Motor City muckers.

 

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.

Game One Goodness

Tomas Plekanec’s second goal of the game with just 43 seconds remaining in the third period gave the Canadiens a nice 4-3 win in Toronto and put to bed that opening game jinx they’ve experienced over the past four years.

Almost as good, it sends the rich Leaf fan bastards in the expensive seats sadly scrambling to their limos, possibly depressed by the fact that for the few minutes they were actually in their seats, it didn’t end properly for them.

Forget the sometimes weak play by a few Canadiens players on a few Leafs goals. It’s not that important because it’s only game one and they won it anyway.

What pisses me off more than a few costly mistakes by my team was seeing a whole bunch of $900 seats or whatever they were at the ACC, vacant more than five minutes into the second period, and for almost the first half of the third.

Jaded and spoiled silly by free tickets and ultra fat wallets, these people mingled in the lobbies or wherever else and missed probably a third of the game. I’d hate to be sitting high in the cheap seats and seeing these people casually strolling back to their perfect seats midway through the third with the scored tied at two. No wonder it’s the worst sports franchise in North America.

Rich Leaf fan bastards, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Max Pacioretty opened the scoring for Montreal on the team’s first shot of the game when he, as a lefthanded shot, swooped in from the right side and his wrist shot somehow went between the post and Jonathan Bernier’s skate.

Shades of Rocket Richard, a lefthanded shot swooping in from the right side. The big difference was, Max’s eyes probably didn’t burn like coals. Other than that, similar.

The Leafs would tie it and then take the lead with Alexei Emelin in the box, but in the second frame, Emelin would right things by sending Tomas Plekanec in free with a beauty pass, and the score was tied.

Many Leaf fans would have missed that goal because it was only at the 4:34 mark of the period.

At 8:41 of the third period, with rich fans still talking about business and mistresses somewhere else, P.K. Subban blasted one home after a great pass from DD.

A lovely sight, the PK celebration. Hope we see plenty of it over the next eight months.

With 2:19 left in the third, Toronto would tie it when a puck bounced in off Lars Eller, but, in keeping with the weirdness, Tomas Plekanec scored the winner with 43 seconds remaining when his shot bounced in off a Toronto guy.

It wasn’t a perfect win. Maybe Tom Gilbert could’ve been stronger. Maybe a few guys need to pull up their socks. But tonight is not the night to find fault. It’s only game one and they got it done.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Leafs 32-27. It was 11-6 for the Leafs after the first period but the boys picked up steam as the game wore on.

Next Habs game – In just a few short hours when they visit the Caps in Washington.