Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

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.

Tonight!!! Go Habs Go

May you play like the wind is at your back, your skates have wings, your shots have eyes, and from time to time, your punches hit faces and your pucks sometimes land extremely close to opposing goalies’ nether regions.

It could be a sensational season for the Montreal Canadiens and of course their fans, without question the smartest and best looking fans in hockey.

Start if off right boys, tonight against those wild and crazy Laffs.

Artwork from the young and talented Wade (Darth) Alexander (Twitter @DarthAlexander9).

TheHabs

Habs/Leafs Set To Blast Off

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Gally and Chucky are a tad older now (although, on the downside, Andrei Markov and Mike Weaver are too), the Canadiens are coming off some postseason deepness and liking it, and sixteen skaters (counting newcomer Eric Tangradi), are at least six feet tall.

The size factor has zoomed up considerably with Brian Gionta, Daniel Briere, and most recently Francis Bouillon, no longer in the picture. In fact, the roster, as it stands now, lists 11 guys all at 6’2″, which in my eyes is darn close to the perfect hockey player size.

It’s not that small guys can’t be key contributors. They certainly can be and it would be nonsense to say otherwise. But when there’s an abundance of small guys on one team, the team will often get bounced around like Brad Marchand’s three brain cells when the going gets rough.

It seems the Canadiens also have a nice balance of guys of young and not-quite-so-young. In fact, unless something changes, it’s only Gallagher, Galchenyuk, Bournival, Beaulieu, Tinordi, and Jiri Sekac under 25 years old, and it’s only Weaver, 36, Markov, 35, and Manny Malhotra, 34, as the overly-wrinkled veterans.

Tweaks have been made (- http://dennis-kane.com/summer-notes-from-habsville/), and the Canadiens should be labeled a legitimate contender, which is a sensational feeling. Unless you hate them of course.

It begins on Wednesday when they play the worst sports franchise in North America.

Yes, against those wacky Leafs.

It was ESPN who named the Leafs the worst, with the decision based on affordability, coaching, fan relations, ownership (honesty and loyalty), players (effort and likability), stadium experience, bang for the buck (wins per fan dollars) and title track (championships won or expected).

Pretty sure it costs an arm and a leg to see the Laffs at the ACC. They’ve increased their ticket prices by 53% this year, with the average price being $423.65.

But at ticket outlet “Vivid Seats”, one can grab a pair to see them and the Habs battle from down low, centre ice for slightly more. Just $1213 a seat.

However, if you want to wait until, say January, when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the ACC, you can get a great seat through Vivid for just $385.00!

Likeable players? Probably not on this year’s team. But Johnny Bower has always seemed likeable. King Clancy. Some of the usherettes. I’m sure there’s more.

Stadium experience? I dunno. Are the hot dogs good?

Wins per fan dollar? The team hasn’t won much of anything in four and a half decades, which makes the fan dollar so low that when I do the math, the team should be paying the fans.

You can lump “wins per fan dollars and championships won or expected” together if you want. However which way you slice it, with these two categories being part of the criteria, ESPN should just hand the award to the Leafs permanently and come up with something new.

“Championships expected”? Yes, any year now, the Leafs will win the Cup. Said Don Rickles.

I don’t pay attention to the coaching and ownership so I can’t comment. I suppose they’re trying, but it’s the Maple Leafs they own or coach. How much trying can one do?

Habs and Laffs finally set to go. A big night for sure, even if one team is the worst franchise in North America.

Let Some Hitting Begin

Getting closer and closer to the real thing with seven exhibition games ready to go, beginning with the Bruins on Tuesday, the team that got their keisters kicked last spring in the playoffs by mere mortals who weren’t supposed to poke the almighty bear.

The bear got poked and it skedaddled right out of the rink and onto the nearest golf course.

How sweet that series was. A seven game battle royale that saw the Habs taking the opener 4-3 in Boston when P.K. scored in overtime, and game two had Montreal holding a 3-1 lead with nine minutes left, only to allow three goals in just over five minutes by Boston, plus an empty netter.

What a start, and what a series that would unfold. Electric. Nail biting. Ulcer-inducing. Ultimately crappy for the Bruins and their fans that made my heart soar like a flock of seagulls.

Ginette Reno warbling in Montreal. Shawn Thornton acting like a six-year old with his water bottle hijinks. Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt looking like he was peaking on acid.

Games going back and forth, keeping us all on the edge of our seat, chomping at the bit for the next game and then the next.

The Canadiens grabbed the series lead in game three with a 4-2 win. Remember that?

That was the night P.K. charged out of the penalty box, took a nice Lars Eller pass, and waltzed in along on Tuukka Rask, beating the goalie with a cool little move to the right that caught the goaltender flat-footed.

Boston would take game four with a tighter-than-tight 1-0 overtime win, and then grabbed game five by winning 4-2. It was excruciating to say the least.

I remember the odd Hab fan beginning to fold up the tent. Prematurely of course.

Montreal was dominant in game six, blanking the Bs 4-0 with Thomas Vanek awakening and notching a pair, and the series went to seven games, as it should, ending with the Canadiens posting a lovely and glorious 3-1 win that set Habs fans whoopin’ and hollerin’ throughout a dozen or so  time zones.

It seemed like only yesterday when it all went down, and which concluded with Milan Capone proving during the handshake that when his hockey career is finished, he’ll do just fine in the Cosa Nostra.

Frustrated Bruins players. Depressed Bruins fans. A suicidal Jack Edwards. And the Canadiens moved on to the Eastern Conference Final.

It was almost orgasmic.

It’s Boston at the Bell on Tuesday,  Colorado visits on Thursday, then on Friday the Habs and Avs clash again, only in Quebec City.

On Sunday the Caps pay a visit to Montreal, Wednesday the boys are in Chicago and Friday in Ottawa, and our Habs’ preseason ends on Saturday Oct. 4th when the Sens come to town for part two of being spanked.

After that it’s a few days to get ready for game one of the 2014-15 season when the Canadiens travel to Toronto to face the Worst Sports Franchise in North America.

How great is that? The Worst Pro Franchise in North America! That’s what ESPN decided about the Leafs organization and at this time I’d like to thank the TV channel for their fine assessment.

 

Mind Freeze

It seems I’m going through some sort of writer’s block. Been that way for awhile now, and…………………………………there’s that block again. I can’t even finish the sentence.

I need to plow through like a player with a hangover. Suck it up. Force myself. Rattle the couple of dozen remaining brain cells. Just start typing and hope.

It’s not supposed to be a problem. I’m from Orillia for goodness sakes, where folks are tough. Most are Leaf fans and they still go about their day to day life in almost sane fashion. It’s inspiring.

I’m already worried about the Canadiens making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Their series last year against the Rangers started at 8:10 et. The first intermission hadn’t even ended and it was time for bed. I was a mess the next morning.

You have no idea how concerned I am about the Habs making it to the Finals and playing a Western team, with games starting even later here.

Why oh why didn’t I become a Leaf fan when I was young so I could go to bed early now that I’m old. Just dreading it when the Habs kick ass this year.

Oh damn…the block’s happening again. Signing off  but I’ll throw the following in to add some much-needed meat to this post..

My year-long project which for months I thought was a good idea but now I realize it’s just stupid. Regardless, I’m adding it because I’ve nothing else to add.

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Building 6

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P.K. And Canadiens Kiss

I never attempted to weigh in here or anywhere else regarding the P.K. Subban and his team’s on and off romance and money game, mainly because it was pure guesswork and speculation from the start and I hate guessing and speculating.

I don’t find it fun, it doesn’t help my ulcers, and I’m usually wrong. I’ve also been on this terrific hiatus where not once have I wanted to throw my computer out the window.

I’m not finished with my hiatus either, but the P.K. story has been quite a thing for all concerned, and I felt drawn in.

Everywhere I looked (and I was paying strict attention all along), Marc Bergevin was apparently a misguided bastard. P.K. and his agent Don Meehan were asking too much. The Canadiens didn’t respect P.K. They should pay him whatever he wants. Don’t pay him whatever he wants. Five million. 8.5 million. Long term, Short term. Arbitration. P.K.’s a hot dog. P.K. makes mistakes on the ice. P.K.’s the best thing to happen since Guy Lafleur. P.K this, P.K. that. Even him going to the Leafs was discussed.

It’s all been said and figured out, and yet, when he finally did sign on the dotted line, the figure and term, $9 million for eight years, surprised everyone, even though every angle was completely covered up until then by Habs experts in all four corners of the earth.

It’s quite a sport. Not hockey, the art of getting wound up into a frenzy. The art of thinking the answers are there when they’re not. The art of being smarter than the GM who seems to have done a nice job so far.

Even now some are finding fault with the deal, although if it had fallen flat, they’d be screaming blue murder.

When the papers were signed and the news announced, fans, including me, breathed a sigh of relief, and almost like it never really had anyone’s shorts in a knot at any time, it now becomes quickly forgotten and we move on to the next paramount Habs-related issue.

Whatever it is. (Please don’t change the look of the sweater).

I wasn’t upset at Marc Bergevin and his gang for letting this thing go the distance, only confused. And when it got done, I wasn’t surprised, except for the fact it’s very much a generous offer from the team that supposedly still has issues with parts of P.K.’s game.

I stayed out of it because I’m no contract/cap/term expert. I’m just a longtime fan, waiting impatiently for another Stanley Cup, and for a bonafide superstar to don the CH once again.

And when I say bonafide superstar, I mean bonafide. Not a darn good star. Not a big star – a huge star. One that rarely comes along. The Canadiens were once upon a time blessed with so many, but not anymore. Maybe P.K. can be this kind of player. He’s shown us that it’s a possibility, but he’s not there yet.

I want my team to be king of the hill, top of the heap, as all Habs fans do. And I think the team will be. My faith never waivers. Even when they suck. Even when Scott Gomez moved the puck up the ice and then lost it.

Okay, maybe then.

I also carried a strong belief in Marc Bergevin’s methods during this P.K. process, although I didn’t understand a great deal and scratched my head more than once. But that might only be head lice.

Now we move on. How about a bit more toughness up front?