Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

Outmatched In Anaheim

It was just the other day, while sitting in Buffy’s Pub in Sooke, that I pointed to the TV and said to Lucy, “Look, the Leafs lost 4-0 again. Two games without a goal. Are they ever lousy. Hah!”

Then the Montreal Canadiens went out and dropped a 4-0 stinker in San Jose, and two nights later are smothered and outplayed as they lose 3-1 in Anaheim. I should never have been smug about the Leafs. Because sometimes the Habs can suck too.

It  also took until the 18:19 mark of the third period before Alex Galchenyuk scored with a Duck in the box, making it one of those rare and unusual sightings, a….how do you say it……successful power play? Thus keeping the team from being shutout two straight nights which would have made the Leafs comparison even more sickening .

Now it’s a short freeway ride to downtown Los Angeles to meet the Kings in a few hours. No predictions, no thoughts. No idea. Only that they have to start playing better than they have these past two games.

Karma, you got me good with the Leafs smugness. Now, enough’s enough.

Random Notes:

Props to the Ducks, who basically smothered, bottled up, outchecked and outskated Montreal for most of the night.

It was 2-0 in the second period when Max burst in alone while his team was shorthanded. Imagine how the momentum could have shifted. Maybe.

Canadiens outshot the Ducks 38-33, which for all intents and purposes looks like they played well. But they didn’t.

Ex-Hab Jiri Sekac took Subban out of the play, allowing new teammate Rickard Rakell the chance to score, which he did.

The guy we got in the Sekac trade, Devante Smith-Pelly, was again underwhelming and it blows my mind to hear reports that he’s out of shape. What the hell is that? It’s March. How can a player not be in shape at this time?

 

 

Blasé in San Jose

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To the person or persons who slipped sedatives into the coffee of Canadiens players before the start of their game in San Jose last night, you should be rounded up and made to do a stretch of hard time. That or attend a Leafs practice.

The Canadiens were asleep at the wheel for most of two periods, came alive ever so slightly in the third, but when the ice chips had settled, the score was 4-0 Sharks, thus ending Montreal’s four-game winning streak and Carey Price’s consecutive roads wins at eleven.

They’ve probably played worse than this. The 7-1 shellacking at the hands of Tampa Bay on October 13th was as dismal as it gets (Price was chased after four goals in two periods, and Toker allowed three more.

But Monday night’s affair was such a disappointing affair. Things had been going so swimmingly. Price had been practically unbeatable, the team was rolling and could have caught Nashville overall, and then it’s into Northern California where they stink out the joint.

Maybe guys had the pedal to the metal prior to trade deadline in the hopes of not being dealt, and when they escaped unscathed, they breathed a sigh of relief and gave a good and dishonest 50%.

Random Notes:

The Sharks outshot the Canadiens 37-20.

One of the team’s better players in this 4-0 bummer was newcomer Jeff Petry, who had met up with the team in California after making his way from Edmonton and was probably having a more hectic and confusing day than you and I. But his poise and playmaking were terrific, if somewhat conservative, and he seems a terrific addition.

The boys actually came close to scoring, when the puck did or didn’t fully cross the goal line, as has happened a few other times this season. Millions of dollars in cameras placed throughout NHL rinks, but they can’t find one that shows beyong a shadow of a doubt that the puck is in or not.

Next up – Wednesday in Anaheim to face Jiri Sekac and his Ducks. I’m betting the mortgage that the Canadiens play better than they did in San Jose. Could they play worse?

 

 

Good Team Blanks Bad Team

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With Carey Price posting his 6th shutout of the season, the Canadiens drop the visiting Toronto Maple Laffs 4-0, and all remains swell in Habs universe.

That’s four straight wins for the good guys, they remain tops of the pops, and it makes my heart soar like a Prigogine’s Double-Collared Sunbird.

Certainly a satisfying night, except for the part about going 0 for 4 on the powerplay and being outshot 30-23. It was a confident bunch, playing behind an always confident and usually perfect Price, and it culminated with a Leafs jersey being thrown on the ice.

I’d hate to see a Canadiens jersey tossed on the ice and if I was at a game when it happened, I’d hunt the person down and pour my twelve-dollar beer on his head. But somehow, seeing a Leafs jersey crumpled up like a dead blue and white varmint makes me snicker just a tad. Am I a bad person?

The boys were in fine form, except for those times when it was left to Price to come to the rescue. Several times they would pass back to the world’s greatest goalie, which is a nice enough play, as long as the puck doesn’t hop over Price’s stick.

And on Coach’s Corner, Don Cherry would whine and bitch that the Canadiens were seen smiling and enjoying themselves way too much. In my mind, smiling means things are going good. Which is what we want. Much better than seeing them shake their heads in disgust and smash their sticks.

I remember when Scott Gomez would smile when things were going bad.

Manny Malhotra scored his first of the season after Dale Weise stole the puck and dropped it back to him in fine style.

Tomas Plekanec bulged the twine when the team had the extra attacker on during a delayed penalty call.

And David Desharnais, targeted by far too many critics, mostly Habs fans, made it 3-0 in the third period after several players banged away (and Jonathan Bernier cried foul for goalie interference), and then scored his second of the night into an empty net after receiving a nice and generous pass from Max.

The boys are rolling, they’re a serious contender for all the marbles, and now we wait and see if Marc Bergevin deals to strengthen an already solid club.

Once again feelin’ good. It’s been a long time since we had a team that has a great chance to go all the way, and all we can do is hope no one crashes into Price the way Chris Kreider did last spring. Imagine.

Now it’s a four-game road trip to where the weather is slightly better than in Eastern Canada and the U.S. It’s Monday in San Jose, Wednesday in Anaheim, Thursday in L.A., and Saturday in Arizona.

No problem.

Random Note:

P.K. Subban’s assist on Plek’s goal ties him with Calgary’s Mark Giordano for most points (48) by a defenceman.

Sergei Gonchar was back in the lineup after missing the last six games after getting nailed by then-Leaf, now-Blue Jacket, David Clarkson.

P.A. Parenteau is healthy now but was scratched, as was Mike Weaver.

 

 

Dear George, Dear Ringo

As we wait for Marc Bergevin to work his magic, and of course the  Habs and Leafs on Saturday night……….

I was telling this story to my buddy Wayne the other day, and he said I should put it on my blog. So I said okay.

Years ago I put a picture of George Harrison, from the Beatles “White Album”, into an envelope, along with a return envelope, a pen, and two bucks, and I mailed it to George at Friar Park, Henley-On-Thames, England.

A month or two later it came back, signed with a different pen than I had sent, and with the two bucks gone.

Of course I can’t say for sure whether it was George who signed. Maybe an employee did it for him, but it looks very much like his signature and I’m inclined to believe it’s real.

I also did the same thing for Ringo, although I forget what address I used, and it came back signed too. He also kept the pen but sent the two bucks back. I ended up selling it, along with a bunch of Beatles memorabilia, a long time ago.

As for Lennon and McCartney, their mail person must’ve gotten lost.

But I’ve still got George’s, and it’s probably the best two bucks I’ve ever spent.

George would have been 72 on Feb. 25th.

George 1

George 2

 

Canadiens Wear Out Jackets

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For a team that has had trouble scoring a lot of goals, 10 in the last two games is a beautiful thing.

The Canadiens, like they did on Tuesday in St. Louis, win another 5-2 game, and their two-game road trip comes to a successful close with the gang playing solid if not spectacular hockey. For example, their power play continues to fire blanks and….well….continues to suck.

Now it’s a rumble with the Leafs on Saturday at the Bell to close out February. The March schedule is a bit of a bitch but that’s for another time.

P.K. Subban opened the scoring just 1:49 into the game with a big blast after Manny Malhotra won the faceoff cleanly and got it back to our man. One slightly disturbing thing to note – Manny doesn’t seem to be winning just about every faceoff like he did up until recently. If he’s not doing that, should he be in the lineup?

And without mentioning Columbus goals because it’s not important, the scoring continued with a Markov shot from the top of the circle, Max would notch his 30th, and in the third frame, Jacob De La Rose bagged his first NHL goal and then added another with the net empty.

P.K. would collect a couple of assists to go with his goal, and his 47 points is good for second best behind Max’s 53.  Max needs 10 more goals in 21 games to hit 40. Can he do it?

Devante Smith-Pelly had a couple of decent shots on goal, and although he didn’t overwhelm, he’s probably still in a bit of a stunned mode considering he was an Anaheim Duck just a few days ago and has had just one practice with his new team. I was hoping we’d see more physical play from him, but I’m a patient man.

Smith-Pelly worked the right side, usually with De La Rose and Brandon Prust, but at times things were juggled around because he has a coach named Michel Therrien, and he also saw a small amount of time on the power play.

The new guy wore number 21, and I don’t know if you’ll find this interesting or not, but Toe Blake, in his first season with the Canadiens in 1935-36 after coming over from the Maroons, wore number 21. But from 1937 until the end of his career in 1948, number 6 was Toe’s.

One question lingered as I watched the game unfold. How did that whole row of fans wearing Habs jerseys get tickets right behind the Canadiens bench?

Random Notes:

Shots on goal were 27 apiece.

The photo at the top is one of my vintage popcorn boxes. Here’s some more. Very proud of my mint boxes, which date back to the early and mid-20th century.

Just what you wanted to see on a hockey blog, right?

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Max & Co. Come Through

I was delayed getting to the computer. I saw that Toronto and Winnipeg were tied 3-3 with seven minutes left, and I wanted to see how the Leafs would lose.

But they won in overtime, and that’s quite a few minutes that I just wasted if you don’t mind me saying.

The Canadiens, led by Max Pacioretty with two goals, got the job done by taking out the decent-looking Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 at the Bell, with Tomas Plekanec getting the insurance marker by notching a shorthanded empty net goal.

Two big points for the team, a win that halted that little two-game losing streak they found themselves in, and a win which allows them to sit in their rightful place in the universe – on top, a point ahead of the New York Islanders.

In the background, the outdoor game in California is being played, but I have the sound down. Sometimes I forget it’s on, look up, and there again are the LA Kings wearing some sort of grey and white ensemble, highlighted by white pants and huge numbers on the sleeves. The luckiest fans are the ones at the top of this massive football stadium that can’t see these uniforms.

Carey Price was, of course, solid once again in the Montreal net. It goes without saying. I said it but it goes without saying.

Nathan Beaulieu was truly impressive. The young defenceman is getting better and better every game now, he’s won himself a job, he’s a great skater and puckhandler, and as the confidence grows, so does his time spent doing all the right things.

How great it is to see a young d-man coming into his own, and at the same time two blueliners are on the shelf. God is a Habs fan.

I thought Jiri Sekac and Jacob de la Rose had some nice moments too. Two very fine young players with very fine futures. Is it de la Rose, or De La Rose?

And good old Max, notching a pair which gives him 29 on the season, and he rolls along, enjoying a fine and fruitful campaign. Of course he and P.K. Subban were left off the All-Star team, because the league is run by a bunch of morons.

Other things to note – Jarred Tinordi had his second fight in the last two games, coming out second best against Jared Boll, but not getting massacred. And Christian Thomas and Matt Calvert squared off, and when all was said and done, both looked like they’d walked into a telephone pole.

Columbus outshot the Canadiens 32-24, but again, it’s the Carey Price factor.

The team now heads out on a two-game road trip, first to St. Louis for a Tuesday night battle (8:00 ET), and then it’s Thursday in Columbus to face these Blue Jackets once again.

And to get way ahead of myself, next Saturday the Leafs sneak into Montreal.

In the background, John Fogarty is singing Proud Mary between periods at the outdoor game. John looks and sounds pretty well like he did in the 1960s with Creedence. This is obviously not a Keith Richards type of rock star.

Me and my buddies Mike Williamson and Hobo saw Creedence Clearwater at the Atlantic City Pop Festival in 1969.

Canadiens Lose Game And Emelin

Alexei Emelin crashed awkwardly into the boards just 20 seconds into the game, he never returned, and to add to the glumness, the Canadiens fell 4-2 to the normally shitty Ottawa Senators.

Maybe Emelin’s injury is serious, maybe not. Maybe Sergei Gonchar’s injury, after being nailed into the boards by Toronto’s David Clarkson on Saturday, is serious too. Maybe when P.K. Subban, after blocking a shot, took his skate off after the game and his foot ballooned to a size 18.

P.K. returned for the third period but was definitely hurting. Of course, Bruins fans in particular will say he was embellishing.

Marc Bergevin has said many times that you can’t have too many defencemen, and of course he’s right. You start losing regular d-men, you’d better have solid replacements. And imagine if P.K. had broken his foot and was gone for two months? Seeing him take that shot was a real reminder that fortunes can change in the blink of a slapshot.

We probably need a major blueline recruit before the trade deadline, but for now, Greg Pateryn played in Ottawa, and Jarred Tinordi is on his way from Hamilton. If only Bryan Allen hadn’t been so incredibly underwhelming in his five games before being shipped down. We could’ve used his 6’05” hugeness.

And the game? An exciting affair, with Montreal firing 44 shots at Sens goalie Andrew Hammond, in his very first NHL start, and Ottawa shooting 39 pucks at Dustin Tokarski, who has lost four of last five starts.

Max scored his 27th marker, and Nathan Beaulieu finally notched his first.

Next up – Tonight, when the Panthers visit the Bell.

I was very late seeing the game after coming back from Sooke/Victoria. I’m still going though a very weird personal time, one which forced Lucy and I move back from Montreal to deal with, and which has us going back and forth from Powell River and Victoria way too many times.

Maybe at some point I can explain it to you. It’s very complicated and very serious, and I need to figure out how to say it. One thing I can say now – I’m not in any kind of trouble, and my marriage is as solid as a rock.

 

 

Habs Lucky To Lick Laffs

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It would’ve absolutely sucked to lose to the lowly Laffs on Hockey Night in Canada, coast to coast on a Valentine’s Day Saturday night, when Hab fans far and wide took their dates to romantic bars that also happened to have televisions.

But Montreal didn’t lose. They won 2-1.  Although it took a shootout to make it happen.

No use talking about how the Canadiens play their lousiest when it’s a basement dwellar they face. They can lose to the lowly Oilers and Sabres and Coyotes. It’s almost something we have to accept because they can be assholes that way.

But to lose to the Laffs would have been the last straw. It’d be like Gary Lewis and the Playboys winning a Battle of the Bands showdown with the Beatles. The Washington Generals clobbering the Harlem Globetrotters. Wile E. Coyote outsmarting the roadrunner.

But the Canadiens got it done in the shootout when both Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais showed some sweet moves, and the Leafs didn’t. (One of their guys scored in the SO but it wasn’t sweet like our guys :-) ).

All in all it was a fairly tight and slightly rough affair, with Toronto’s David Clarkson doing battle with Brandon Prust early in the first and then with Nathan Beaulieu later on after Clarkson had nailed Sergei Gonchar into the end boards and Beaulieu came a callin’.

An excellent “fight for your teammate” moment for Beaulieu, and an excellent removal from the game for Clarkson. And Beaulieu’s actions certainly go a long way in him becoming a true and respected regular on the team, something he’s been working on for several seasons, little by little. It appears his time has come and it must feel good.

Gonchar was gone for the night after that check, and hopefully he’s fine.

Not a pretty affair for the CH, not passionate, far from perfect. But we take the two points, retain fine bragging rights (Montreal edged Toronto 4-3 in the season opener), and the good guys get a chance to make it three in a row on February 28th when the Laffs once again return to the Bell to experience another heartbreaking disappointment. :-)

Random Notes:

Brendan Gallagher tied things in the first period, a power play marker after some nifty passing from Pleks and P.K.

P.K. racked up more than 35 minutes on the ice, including a stretch of four straight in the second frame. I played a game last winter at a rink near Montreal and was ready for a defibrillator after four seconds.

Canadiens outshot Toronto 32-29, and Carey Price was his usual self. We expect no less and we get no less.

Next up – Monday, when the boys are in Detroit. I’m hoping like hell I’ll be near a television so I can see and then babble about. If I’m not near a TV, maybe I can bullshit my way through.

Nice little tribute to Danny Gallivan before the game, with much of the commentary from his buddy Dick Irvin.

Hearing Danny’s voice gives me goosebumps.

Danny

Moves Like The Missile

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I don’t remember that two goals, one assist game. I can only assume what happened.

Dozens of fans, some even whoopin’ and hollerin’. We were probably down by a goal with just under a minute to go, and I had decided that enough was enough.

I’m thinking that I took the puck behind our goal, did a fancy little how do you do past the first forechecker, outskated the second guy like he’d just seen a ghost, did a slick loop de loop around the next guy, split the defence like nobody’s business, and after freezing the goalie with my patented Harlem shuffle, found the top corner to tie the game.

Then I guess I did it again.

I seem to recall that these were moves only The Missile in Montreal and Gordie Whye in Detroit could come close to, and of course what players in Toronto could only dream of doing.

Afterwards, I can sort of recall quite a few gorgeous female models waiting for me in the lobby, but being a shy and dedicated hockey player, I probably just went home and worked on my stick instead.

 

 

 

The Little Store In Orillia

Canadian Tire Orillia

I’ve often thought about this store, but I never figured I’d see a picture.

I found it on a Facebook page called “If you grew up in Orillia…you remember…“, a photo of the Canadian Tire I knew when I was a kid in the 1950s through to the mid-’60s. It was where I’d stop on my way to the arena and buy a stick, usually a Hespeler Green Flash. It was where I got my skates sharpened, and where I bought tape and laces and pucks and probably most of my equipment.

It was also where I saw my first white Habs sweater for sale. I think catalogs and local department stores usually stuck to red Habs and blue Leafs sweaters, so seeing a white one was cool. To this day I remember it on display in the window.

As you can see, it’s slightly smaller than the usual Canadian Tire you might shop at. This is the entire store, not just a department.