Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

Habs Wax Leafs

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Two huge goals in the third period by the captain, and great work throughout by the new guy and the big young guy, and the Canadiens top the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1.

This gives the boys two straight wins, or three of their last four, and although their season still sucks, they’ve played better lately. It kind of makes my heart soar like a kite with holes in it.

And no, the team’s not tanking, it’s not the proud or right way of doing things. It’s management who would do the tanking anyway, not the players, and the Montreal Canadiens aren’t the 1919 Chicago White Sox.

The first period saw the Leafs strike first, but a great wrist shot from Alex Galchenyuk would even things, while the second period featured a couple of noteworthy events:

Brendan Gallagher batted the puck in, but it was decided his stick was too high, although maybe by just a whisker. Personally, I thought it was legal but I’m biased.

The goal that did count soon after was one that began with 6’6″ Michael McCarron ramming an enemy body into the end boards, with the puck nicely kept in for Devante Smith-Pelly to get his stick on.

This would mark big McCarron’s first point in his three games with the club, and with his size, if the veterans try to make this rookie buy the dinners, all he has to do is look down at them and say no.

In the third frame, when the score was tense at 2-1, Max Pacioretty finally came alive, scoring his 22nd of the year after taking a great cross-ice pass from Andrei Markov, and then notching his 23rd from a rebound off the back boards.

Maybe this will light a fire under Max’s arse. There’s 20 games left, and the team is clinging to life. If Max hasn’t exactly been great leadership material in the past, maybe as the season winds down he can show us some. A slew of goals would help.

Michael McCarron needs to win a regular spot in a big way. Imagine people calling the Habs a big team instead of what we’ve heard for years now?

A hulking forward like him, crashing the net, having his way with smaller opponents, contributing on the scoresheet, maybe winning most of his fights. Damn.

Twenty-three year old Quebecer Phillip Danault, over from Chicago in the Weise-Fleischmann trade, looked completely at home, winning his share of faceoffs, in on several scoring chances, and doing some bumping.

He might not a big point-getter, at least not yet, but Danault was impressive. And set to become UFAs anyway, Weise had come back to earth after his early season Dutch Gretzky act, and Fleischmann may have started the year in fine style, but sure wasn’t ending it like that.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Leafs 36-32.

Mike Condon, in his fourth straight start, once again played well.

That’s twelve games played in February, with one remaining, and the team has won 6 of these 12. Not fantastic, but better.

Next up – Canadiens begin their three-game series in California, beginning with the Sharks in San Jose on Monday night. (10:30 ET).

 

 

 

 

Habs Win In Washington

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Alex Galchenyuk’s two goals and Mike Condon’s often great and sometimes lucky netminding helped the Canadiens edge the uppity Washington Capitals 4-3 in D.C. Wednesday night.

Although they barely held on in the final few minutes after blowing a 4-1 lead in the third.

But it was mostly an impressive outing by the boys, and as Dale Weise said between periods, before they almost blew it, “This is the kind of hockey we knew we could play.”

Sportsnet announcer Dave Randorf babbled on early about how great the Caps were and how they were too much for the struggling Canadiens. But he’d soon do an about-face.

Galchenyuk banged in a rebound to open the scoring, Brendan Gallagher fired home an Andrei Markov rebound, and the score was a shocking 2-0 Canadiens to end the first period. And Randorf quit the gushing and began to give the Habs their due.

The Canadiens deserved praise too. They skated well, looked sharp, scored a power play goal (Gally), and Ovechkin and company for the most part didn’t know what hit them.

To add to the first period shock, Tomas Fleischmann would make it 3-0 just two minutes into the second frame, which chased hotshot goaltender Braden Holtby, and after Jason Chimera solved Condon to make it 3-1, Galchenyuk would notch his second of the night and it was a magnificent 4-1 lead.

Maybe you saw Chimera in the series Road to the Winter Classic, when he was chirping PK Subban and saying, “You guys won nine straight but that’s it. Who do you think you are?”

The excellent second period also saw Brendan Gallagher on a penalty shot and Lars Eller on a clear-cut breakaway, with neither scoring. But they could have, and 5-1 or 6-1  would have been mighty fine.

But that’s not the way the Montreal Canadiens do things.

In the third period, after Jacob de la Rose was foiled on a breakaway, the Caps suddenly came to life, scored two and stormed the Montreal net, and almost came all the way back to win the friggin’ thing.

But the boys hung on and skated away with a fine 4-3 win.

They beat the penthouse dwellers. That’s good, right?

Random Notes:

Washington outshot Montreal 35-34.

Great stop by Condon on Mike Richards with his back turned.

Next up – Leafs at the Bell Centre on Saturday.

 

Tight Loss To Preds

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It was tight and it could’ve been. But in the end it wasn’t.

Canadiens lose 2-1 to the Nashville Predators, with the game going to a shootout before being decided, and although the Habs grab a point, it’s just another big nail in the Molson wallet.

Nashville scored 3:16 into the first, while Brendan Gallagher replied late in the same frame, at 18:43, and that was it until the shootout.

Tighter than my great-grandmother’s corset. Tighter than a camel’s arse in a sandstorm, as the lamps remained unlit until Nashville’s Craig Smith did his job in the shootout after Montreal’s Sven Andrighetto, Alex Galchenyuk, and Max Pacioretty didn’t.

And thus, the win streak stops at one game. And it’s only the number one team in the league, the Washington Capitals, sitting high and mighty with 92 points, (11 ahead of 2nd place Chicago), on deck Wednesday.

Canadiens have 61 points, so you see the problem.

Random Notes:

Canadiens were outshot 30-29 by the Preds, but midway through the first they were down 6-1 in shots, so they did manage to regroup and make a game of it. Which is better than being comatose throughout.

Dale Weise, who might be changing his address soon, was listed as having the flu.

Mike Condon was in nets again, after backstopping his team to a win on Friday against Philly.

After Wednesday in Washington, the team then plays host to those nutty Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Two big games. Sort of.

 

 

 

I Think It’s Good Anyway

Once again, for your possible reading enjoyment, some drawings from my grade two exercise book done at West Ward Public School in Orillia, and which I’ve managed to hold on to all these years.

Yes, some of you have seen some of this before, but I’ve added more this time, so that’s good right?

And as another added bonus, I include a photo of West Ward school in the process of burning to the ground in 1968.

But first things first, my art from grade two, lots of it, and which includes some Habs, a portrait of my teacher Mrs. Williams, along with Elvis Presley, which I spelled ‘Elive Prisie’.

If all this isn’t enticing, I don’t know what is.

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West Ward

 

 

Bombed By Bottom Feeders

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I’m assuming the Canadiens wandered into Columbus feeling renewed and re-energized after beating the Leafs last Saturday.

The start of something better. Good times are here again!

And then they get trounced 5-2 by the worst team in the league.

Downward they go. Where they stop, nobody knows.

They’re playing with my head, these people. Stop the season, I wanna get off. Pathetic, soft, unorganized bunch of multi-millionaires, playing with my emotions.

A friend today told me about a game he used to play when he lived in New Guinea. Darts, using a real dart gun. Sounds excellent.

This is going to be my new favourite sport, because I can’t handle what the Habs are doing to me. And maybe I’ll put a picture of the team on the dartboard.

I thought, before tonight, that they could finally win two in a row after not doing so since November. After all, it was only the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

And the Canadiens play these same BJs in Montreal on Tuesday, so it was probably going to be three in a row.

A beautiful winning streak to make us happy. And then they’re blasted 5-2 and a dagger gets rammed into my already battered heart.

Can it get any sadder?

Can life be any better for Habs haters?

Random Notes:

Habs outshot Columbus 34-25 and were 1/3 on the power play.

Montreal’s goals came from Gally and PK, with PK’s a big blast from outside the blueline.

Two posts were hit, by Eller and Petry. I’m grasping at straws here.

 

 

Canadiens Begin Their Win Streak!

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It took Max and Lars Eller to come through in the shootout as the Canadiens down the Leafs 3-2 in Toronto, thus avoiding suicides, bricks through TVs, and serious hairpulling throughout Habsland.

Not really a fantastic win, or even a great win. Maybe only a decent win. But it was a big one as they snap a five-game losing streak in the midst of a gigantic slump, and it has to feel good.

Now the boys can relax and maybe take in a late show with Rompin’ Ronnie and the Hawks at Le Coq d’Or on Yonge Street before calling it a night.

It began in splendid fashion as the team dominated the Leafs, outshooting them 14-3, and jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals by David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann, although Fleischmann’s goal appeared to go in off Daniel Carr.

But as we’ve seen before, a quick start can mean little as Toronto slowly found their game and scored in the second and third periods to send the game into overtime.

It would take the shootout to decide things, and now the challenge is for the team to win two in a row, something that hasn’t happened since November 20th to the 27th when they nailed down four straight.

After that, as we all know and need to forget, the roof fell in and continued until tonight, when they grabbed two big points against a team that boasts the despicable Dion Phaneuf.

Random Notes:

I feel good about this, mainly because it wasn’t a loss. But not good enough to put on my dancing shoes and head down to the Westview Hotel, though. They’d think the grim reaper just walked through the door.

A loss would continue the nightmarish slide into Satan’s basement. But it wasn’t a loss, mainly because Max and Eller got it done in the shootout, when Galchenyuk, Flynn, and DD didn’t.

Canadiens outshot the Leafs 29-19, and were 0/4 on the power play.

Next up – Monday, when the boys travel to Columbus to take on the BJs.

Extra Random Notes:

Before the game began, Leaf greats Turk Broda, Tim Horton, and Dave Keon were honoured with inclusion on Toronto’s Legends Row, and it was emotional fifteen or twenty minutes.

Broda retired when I was two, but I saw Horton and Keon in their prime, on those great old Leafs teams.

I sat behind Keon and his wife in church in Orillia when I was young. Keon and most of the Leafs had attended Leaf trainer Bobby Haggart’s wedding in Orillia the day before, and the next day in church there was the great centreman, standing and kneeling and sitting and crossing himself, just like the rest of us.

I also have a personal story about Tim Horton. I’ve been to his doughnut shop many times.

Broda was on hand for the opening ceremonies of the arena in Orillia in 1950.

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Brandy’s Habs-Leafs Lovers

You want romance? Hockey? Habs and Leafs on Saturday night?

This is the great Canadian artist Brandy Saturley’s recent creation, titled ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time’, made prior to the last few months of our pain and misery.

Two lovers, two teams. With bags over their heads.

Habs and Leafs coming up. Get your beer and nuts ready, and your bricks to throw at the TV screen.

Go Habs. Kick the shit out of ’em.

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Have a look at some of this award-winning, Victoria-based artist’s great stuff at her website The Art of Brandy Saturley . She’s a true Canadian gem.

Here’s To You, Historic Habs

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I saw the Beatles at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1966, and Janis and Zappa in Atlantic City in ’69.

I saw Led Zeppelin in Vancouver in ’73, and Evel Knievel sail over 13 Mack trucks on his motorcycle at the CNE in ’74.

NOn my TV in Orillia I saw the Kennedy assassination in ’63, and Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in ’69.

And from my couch in Powell River in 2016, I saw the Montreal Canadiens have their lousiest season in 75 years.

The historic Habs.

Something to tell my grandchildren.

And their fifth loss in a row (forget the overall loss tally) was against the Boston Bruins, with good old Brad Marchand scoring one of four Bruins goals as his team rolled over the hometown Habs 4-1.

It’s the Twilight Zone, baby.

It was last year when Marc Bergevin gave Michel Therrien a four year contract extension that kicked in this season, at $2 million per, and which takes him to 2019.

This was the report at the time;

Montreal re-signed Michel Therrien to a four-year contract extension Saturday, two weeks after the Canadiens were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“It really shows the stability that [general manager] Marc Bergevin and [owner] Geoff Molson want to establish with the Canadiens,” said Therrien on a conference call. “We’ve progressed a lot over the past two years and we want to continue to progress. It’s a sign of confidence.”

Continue to progress. Yes indeed.

Oh, you like Michel Therrien and argue that it’s not his fault this team is on the fast track into the depths of hell? Do you think getting Jonathan Drouin is the answer instead?

I don’t want my historic times tampered with. So lose boys. And then charge fans for your autograph on your days off.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bruins 39-24, with their lone goal coming from d-man Mark Barberio. The sharpshooters are still on their extended lunch break.

Next up – Habs in Toronto on Saturday. Imagine.

Letters On My Shelf

Many of these letters were written to me, while some I collected along the way. If you find these boring, please don’t tell me.

Beginning with –

Red Fisher (1965) (after I complained to him that Stan Mikita swore at me when I asked him for his autograph at a Hawks-Leafs exhibition game in Peterborough during the Leafs training camp).

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Phyllis King (1951) – Clarence Campbell’s secretary and future wife.

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Here’s Clarence and Phyllis on their romantic date at the Forum, which helped spark the 1955 St. Patrick’s Day Richard Riot.

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Legendary sports editor Elmer Ferguson (1929). The Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award is presented to outstanding hockey journalists and includes the likes of Jacques Beauchamp, Red Burnett, Trent Frayne, Red Fisher, Andy O’Brien, Michael Farber, Roy MacGregor and others.

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Sam Pollock (1964). By far my favourite letter.

Claude Mouton (1985)

Irving Grundman (1983)

Almost three months to the day after General Manager Grundman wrote this letter, he was fired by the Canadiens and Serge Savard would take his place.

Forum secretary Manon Bruneau (1984)

Letter from Sam Pollock to Habs prospect Michel Lagace (1962). This is the kind of letter I would have liked to receive.

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Looking for tickets at Maple Leaf Gardens (1965 & 1966)

Two replies from Claude Mouton (1983) about my request for a stick. He gave me a Bob Gainey stick, signed by the entire team, which I picked up at the Forum after driving from Ottawa after graveyard shift.

Jean Beliveau (1984)

I decided I needed an 8X10 glossy of the Rocket shaking hands with Sugar Jim Henry, so I went right to the top. I wrote a letter to La Presse and it ended up on the desk of editor-in chief Gerard Pelletier (1964)

Pelletier would later serve in the Pierre Trudeau government, and was eventually awarded the Order of Canada.

Frank Selke Jr. (1961)