Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

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 Burn Leafs

Just when the young and smug Toronto Maple Leafs and their giddy fans thought the team was rockin’ and rollin’ toward new and amazing heights, they came up against the gritty Montreal Canadiens.

Suddenly, all isn’t so fantastic in Leafland, as the visiting Habs, finishing off a seven-game road trip that took them to winter wonderlands like Miami, Tampa, Dallas, Nashville etc, waltzed into Toronto and won 5-3 in solid fashion over the Toronto Kadris.

Alexander Radulov was sensational, as was Carey Price, but for me the real hero was Shea Weber, who pounced and trounced Zach Hyman after the Leaf forward flew into Price and sent him sprawling. Then, as the second period came to an end, Weber once again sought out Hyman and made his point even clearer.

That’s what we want, and it’s what I knew we’d get from Weber when he came over from Nashville. This is is a guy respected by all, he’s a big brother to some and a leader to all, and he needed to bend Hyman’s nose to say it loud and clear in Toronto and around the league that Carey Price is not to be messed with.

The team will protect Price, and the corner was abruptly turned after New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri ran Price a month ago and Price took matters into his own hands. His teammates were embarrassed and criticized, but sometimes a team in the midst of gelling needs to learn a solid lesson.

And the Canadiens have.

Habs

Leafs

Three wins in their first three games of January. Last season, the boys won just three in the entire month. I’m proud of these crazy bunch of beautiful bastards. A team held together with band aids, and they won’t break.

Just a tremendous showing in front of smug Leaf fans.

Random Notes

Habs were outshot by the Leafs 36-31, and were 2/5 on the power play (Scherbak and Radulov).

Nikita Scherbak, in his very first NHL game, scored his first NHL goal with just one second left in the first period to give the boys a 3-2 lead.

Max Pacioretty had opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the game, and Artturi Lehkonen added another befor e the Leafs stormed back to tie it.

Radu scored his power play marker in the second frame to widen the gap to 4-2, but the Leafs would soon make it a 4-3 game.

In the third period, Michael McCarron salted it away by bouncing the biscuit off Leafs goaltender Frederik Anderson, who was quite shitty on the night. Anderson is keeping up the fine tradition of mediocre backstopping in Cabbagetown. It goes back many decades.

No sense naming the Montreal injury list. It’s old news.

But if you haven’t heard, it’s Gally, Chucky, DD, Pateryn, Markov, Byron, and Shaw.

Next up – Habs at home on Monday to battle the Washington Capitals, then it’s back on the road to Winnipeg and Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday. The wives must be lonely. (And if you are, my number is 604-555-1212. Call me.)

Photos – First – the art was done by me in grade two. Second – one of my old ads from crumbling newspapers. Third – My hockey coin collection. I have the other four teams complete as well. Fourth – the iconic Maclean’s magazine cover, with added script created by my friend Ed in Ottawa.

Habs Win A Big One

It could’ve been as bad as can be. A loss against the Florida kmPanthers would’ve meant a four-game losing streak. A loss with Al Montoya in nets would’ve meant just three wins in ten games for the poor bugger, along with an extra loss when he replaced Carey Price in the third period of the San Jose game on December 16th.

And a four-game loss with Pittsburgh up next could’ve meant a five-game losing streak, and Habs fans from Timbuktu to Tahsis would begin making plans to jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

But they won 3-2 in overtime, so forget about the first two paragraphs. And they did it when Brendan Gallagher, in the midst of a horrendous dry spell, converted Phillip Danault’s sweet feed with just 2:37 remaining in the third to tie it, and in the extra minutes, Max sent Danault in alone, the game was won by the good guys, and plans for the bridge are put on hold for another day or week.

One other thing before I sign off. For months I’ve been racking my brain about how to change this blog a bit, to keep it fresh and original, and to allow me to not have to write the usual 600-word recap after games, which I’ve been doing for nearly ten years and which I’m growing a bit tired of and you’re probably tired of reading too.

But today on my walk, I thought of something. Maybe it’ll be good!

Go Habs in Pittsburgh. Slaughter those bastards.

Random Notes:

After a first-period fluke goal by Florida when the puck changed direction off Shea Weber, Max would tie it in the second on the power play, compliments of a great screen by Gallagher, Florida would go ahead again, and Gally would produce his magic as the clock wore down.

How nice would it be to live in the Miami area. Forget about the drugs and murders and kidnappings and alligators and famous wacko Floridians. You can go to a Habs game and sit anywhere you want!

Next up – in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Nashville on Tuesday, Dallas on Wednesday, and Toronto on Saturday. Bring ’em all on. We’ll see what this team is made of. And the Leafs suck of course.

 

 

Habs Fall To Sharks……And The Theory Of Blockativity

The Canadiens slept for 50 minutes, fell behind 4-0, and finally woke up and made a game of it, scoring twice and also waking Bell Centre fans up.

But it was too late. 4-2 Sharks.

It was so bad, Carey Price was yanked after the fourth goal and replaced by Al Montoya. Price looked pissed at the coach as he exited.

This is the problem with the boys living at home during hockey season and not thinking hockey every minute of the day, especially at bedtime. I think they should live in isolated camps like Soviet players did 40 or 50 years ago, with a couple of phone calls home once or twice a week.

Maybe they wouldn’t be so sluggish like they were on this night.

I’ll make sure your wives are comfortable, boys. Don’t worry about that. Just concentrate on the job at hand. You can hang out with your wives for two months every summer.

Brian Flynn and Jeff Petry scored for Montreal, and if you need any other information… shots on goal, the power play, penalties etc, there’s about 100 places on the Internet, including Facebook and Twitter, where you can see all that.

Leaf coach Mike Babcock said the other day that to stay competitive, he needs his team to grab at least 6 points in every 5-game block.

His Leafs, of course, have failed miserably so far in this regard, although I’m way too lazy to actually figure out their numbers.

But let’s see how the Habs have done, using this Babcockian Theory.

Games      Points

1-5 ——     9
6-10 —-   10
11-15 —     8
16-20 —     3
21-25 —     6
26-30 —     6

Not bad, except for the 16 to 20 game stretch, when they got a point in their 4-3 OT loss to Florida, and a 2-1 win against Toronto. But they fell to Chicago, Carolina, and Ottawa during this 5-game block.

 

Habs Beaten By Blues

The Canadiens were in St. Louis Tuesday night where the boys blew a two-goal lead (Paul Byron and Tomas Plekanec), and lost 3-2 in overtime.

But that’s all I can say about this. I’m waiting for my enthusiasm to return. It’s been gone for several games now.

But I would like you to know that I’ve lost 8 pounds by walking a lot and I now look like a friggin Adonis.

And if that isn’t interesting enough, there’s this: The decision to separate opposing players in the penalty box came after October 30, 1963 when Montreal’s Terry Harper and Toronto’s Bob Pulford fought on the ice and then continued their disagreement in the box after they’d been sitting side by side.

And if ALL THAT isn’t enough, Rocket Richard once said in a questionnaire that the one man he wanted to meet in person was actor John Wayne.

Habs Trim Leafs

image1Back in the saddle again, as the Canadiens edge the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 and put a stop to the lousy three-game losing streak that had us all in a kerfuffle.

At least I was in one. I’m anti-slump. So winning, and against those Leafs, is basically a win-win situation. Does that sound right?

The good news – Alexander Radulov is back from sick bay and along with collecting two assists, banged and set up plays and skated miles and was all-round terrific.

The bad news – Toronto’s Nazem Kadri didn’t lose any teeth or get his nose plastered over his face. Not even one stick to the gonads. Really bad.

Red-hot Paul Byron scored his seventh of the season to open the scoring in the first period, while in the second, Alex Galchenyuk, also with his seventh, bulged the twine on the power play in what ultimately became the winner.

Shea Weber also racked up assists on both goals, and was much more of a force than he was on Friday in Carolina, when he looked fairly ordinary. But even then, not once did I pine for PK Subban.

As it stands now, Galchenyuk leads the team with 19 points in 19 games, while Radulov has 16 pts in 17 games, and Weber follows with 15 in 19 games.

New guys like Radulov and Weber are getting it done, but team vets like Max and Pleks and DD and Gallagher need to step it up. Although Gally continues to play his game and the points just aren’t happening for him right now. So he gets a pass. The other three don’t.

The Leafs played a decent game,  swarmed Montreal’s net far too often, and ended up outshooting the good guys 32-29.

But Carey Price was in nets, so swarming was the best they could do.

The boys now wait until Tuesday when the Ottawa Senators come a calling, and of course it’s a must win for the Habs. Another win gets the wheels rolling. A loss and we can say the gang sits at one win and four losses, which would be a bummer.

As for you folk, I hope the rest of your Saturday and all of Sunday is full of merriment. Just don’t get busted.

Canadiens Drop Another

slump

And suddenly, hockey sucks.

The Canadiens fall 3-2 in Raleigh, it becomes a three-game winless streak, and the plan now is to nip this thing in the bud before it morphs into something truly ugly.

And something truly ugly means losing to Toronto Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada and turning this adult slump into a grandpa one. Because four losses in a row is a nasty thought indeed.

Al Montoya has been between the pipes three times in November. He’s lost all three. We now have no idea if he’s an upgrade over Mike Condon or not.

The team was winning 1-0 in the second period with Jeff Petry banging home a rebound, but in the third, Carolina would score three consecutive goals while the Habs stood around scratching their asses and surveying the stands for cleavage.

A fine collapse. If you’re into collapses.

They almost redeemed themselves, though, when Andrew Shaw redirected Andrei Markov’s pass late in the game. But a bit later, like with a minute to go, no less, Shaw took a hooking penalty and the late-game comeback went down the proverbial toilet.

It’s now time to stop the madness, which means handling the Leafs. And then stomping on Mike Condon’s new team, Ottawa, next Tuesday,

Down with slumps.

Random Notes:

If you’re considering a comparison between this year and last, when they started like wildfire and then tumbled into the depths of hell, forget about it. Carey Price is healthy this year.

Habs outshot Carolina 33-18, with a couple of posts hit, including one by Brendan Gallagher that might have changed things considerably if it went in. But posts happen, so it’s not really worth mentioning.

Big game on the horizon.

Byron And Price Seal Win

A young man wearing a turban with three eyes

It was one eye on the game, one eye on the U.S. election, and one eye on closing day at Classic Auctions’ fall auction, where I was selling some of my stuff.

But with the first eye I saw the Canadiens dropkick the Boston Bruins 3-2 at the Bell Centre, after Paul Byron notched the winner with just 1:02 remaining, and with Carey Price once again holding the fort and racking up first star on the night.

Better than the Habs’ showing against the Leafs eleven days ago. A slight improvement over their game against Philly four days ago. And it goes without saying, a major league improvement over the 10-0 debacle in Columbus five days ago.

But they were still outshot badly against the Bs, 41-23, but maybe it’s not even worth mentioning. They’re badly outshot every game.

The first period saw the home team with more jump than we’ve seen lately, like they were truly focused on waking from their coma. Either that or the wives kicked them into the spare room in the basement.

But even so, Boston outshot the boys 14-5, so jump or no jump, some cracks still aren’t filled.

In the second frame, Shea Weber would open the scoring on the power play with his patented blast from the blueline, but less than a minute later, Boston evened things up.

And then, just twenty seconds later, Alex Galchenyuk lit the lamp and the crowd, as they say, went wild.

In the final frame, Boston would convert on their power play with Alexei Emelin in the box, and it was finally left to Byron to come through in the end.

You have to think that 10 wins in the last 11 games isn’t all that bad, even with a 10-0 loss thrown in. Kind of what Michel Therrien was saying in his press conference earlier.

The Vancouver Canucks would kill for that record.

Random Notes:

Canadiens were 1/2 on the power play (Weber).

Weber’s goal was his fourth power play marker, and his fifth overall of this young season. Chucky’s goal was also his fifth.

Alex Radulov collected 2 assists on the night, and is tied with Weber and Galchenyuk with 11 points so far this season.

Canadiens record stands at 11-1-1.

Worth mentioning, and a play that really caught one of my eyes’ attention – Jeff Petry crushed Ryan Spooner into the boards in Emelin, Weber-type fashion. Beauty, eh?

Next up – Thursday, when the boys host the L.A. Kings.

Finally I can rest one eye. And the other two are beginning to get tired.

 

 

Habs Squeak Out Win Over Leafs

habs-leafs

It was tight, that’s for sure. Tighter than Richard Simmons’ tights. A game that could’ve gone either way.

Except Montreal has Shea Weber on their power play and the Leafs don’t.

Weber let go a rocket in the third period that broke a 1-1 deadlock and crushed the hearts of Leaf fans, who thought maybe, just maybe, their team might actually do it.

You know how silly Leaf fans can get sometimes.

Just joking. Seriously.

It wasn’t to be, Leaf fans, although your team played well and almost came through.

And these same fans can now focus on November 19th, when the two teams clash again. But they have to always keep in mind one thing. The Canadiens have Carey Price or Al Montoya. And Weber. And Radulov and a whack of other beautiful bastards.

But again, your team played well if it’s any consolation. And there’s some real nice young players on that Leafs squad and could be a force in the near future.

I’ve said for years that a winner in Toronto is good for the game. It’s just the Toronto media that might be insufferable. And maybe a few million fans.

The Leafs were the better team in the first period of Saturday’s contest, but the second frame would see Alex Galchenyuk finish off a great pass from Alex Radulov, and the Canadiens regrouped slightly after that.

In the third period, Toronto would score with the man advantage, but Weber, on a 4-on-3 power play, wound up and that was that. And Price stuck out his pad with about half a second left to save the win.

An 8-0-1 October for the Canadiens, and try as you may to compare it to a perfect 9-0 last year that went south in no time, you just won’t be able to. Because Carey Price is playing. And those other guys.

Last year went like this: Montreal won their first nine, then lost to the Canucks and Oilers on their western swing, where Carey Price suffered his then-mysterious injury.

Into November, with Mike Condon in nets on most nights, and they’d win a few and lose a few. But in December, January, February, and March, they fell off the cliff and fell out of the race. Simple as that.

Price even managed to get back in nets for three games in late November last season, but that was all, and Condon,  Dustin Tokarski, and Ben Scrivens manned the nets for the remainder.

I’m hoping to stop talking about it. I just thought it was interesting for you. And it’s all about you!

Random Notes:

Next up – The Vancouver Canucks visit the Bell next Wednesday.

Radulov assisted on both goals, and Weber leads his team with four goals and six assists.

 

 

 

Habs Stick Lightning In A Jar

lightning

Three goals in the third period for the hometown heroes, and the Lightning are stuffed in a mason jar and the lid shut tight.

The beat goes on for the wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens as they win their sixth straight and remain almost undefeated (a shootout loss to Ottawa) thus far this season.

And they did it by taking out a talented Tampa squad after falling behind 1-0 late in the second, but in surprising fashion finding a second wind in the third.

Surprising because they played in Brooklyn the night before and should’ve had their tongues hanging out as the game wore down.

But they kept it going , they win 3-1, and all that’s left between them and a near-perfect October are the smelly and disease-ridden Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, a team that no matter how pathetic they are season after season, somehow play like champs against the Habs.

Thursday against the Lightning was a tight checking, cautious affair for the most part, and not even close to perfect, as Max Pacioretty admitted in his post-game interview.

In fact, until Tampa scored at the 16:08 mark of the middle frame, the only things worth mentioning was Nathan Beaulieu pummeling Cedric Paquette, along with a lovely two-on-one between Alex Galchenyuk and Alex Radulov that came up short, and Pacioretty bouncing the puck off the crossbar with his skate.

But it was the third period that got the joint jumping, with several whoops and hollers from my living room.

Galchenyuk tied things on the power play after a great pass from Andre Markov. Then Max put his team ahead with a nice wrist shot at the top of the circle. And Torrey Mitchell notched the insurance marker with an empty netter.

They scratched out a fine win against a good team, and they had some serious help from Carey Price, who was once again as solid as some of the steaks I try to barbeque.

Price has allowed just six goals in his four games played, while backup Al Montoya has given up just seven in his four games. Stingy, beautiful bastards.

It was another set of heroes (Max, Mitchell, Galchenyuk, Pateryn, Markov, Shaw), who stepped up on this fine night, and team continues to spread the wealth. All four lines are firing on all cylinders, which translates into wins, baby!

And speaking of Andrew Shaw, he played what might have been his best game so far for the CH by skating miles, getting his nose dirty, and even being a scoring threat at times.

It’s all fine and dandy, but like I said, it’s time to throttle the Leafs on Saturday.

Random Notes:

Tampa outshot Montreal 31-26.

Habs were 1/3 on the power play (Galchenyuk).

Shea Weber was pointless, which is unusual at this point, and young Mikhail Sergachev once again sat in the press box, which isn’t unusual.