With 30 pounds off.
The picture behind me, from the 1940s, looks like it’s on a slant but it’s not.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been fighting for their playoff lives, trying to catch Toronto for the final wildcard spot, and were winners of their last four games.
Then they met the Montreal Canadiens.
Unfortunately for the Lightning, they ran into a team that’s looking mighty fine these days, and for the Florida-based team, their plans of postseason action just took a major hit after Alexander Radulov bulged the twine in overtime, and the Canadiens skated away with a 2-1 win, their fourth straight.
Rock and rolling at the exact time we want them to be. My chest swells with pride.
Montreal has done serious damage to Tampa’s hopes of catching Toronto (who edged Detroit on this night), but that’s what happens when the Lightning come up against a team now firing on all cylinders, with Carey Price doing his thing and the boys as a whole looking sharp.
Like a playoff team ready to make a large dent.
It’s a fine feeling to see the team play well when it counts. They give us hope, something that was lacking when MT was behind the bench. And after last season in particular, we deserve it.
Four more games for the Canadiens, and then the real fun begins. We’ll be looking for them to shoot down postseason enemies the way scary warriors shoot down monkeys on giraffes.
Just a tight, goaltender’s duel in Tampa, with Price at one end and Andrei Vasilevskiy at the other coming up big time after time. A sensational back and forth game, with wondrous play in overtime that finally saw Max find Radu, and Lightning fans filed out of the rink, got in their cars, and drove palm tree-lined streets to get home and drown their sorrows.
At least I’m assuming that’s what they did.
The game was scoreless in the first, but the middle frame saw Phillip Danault stuff it home to make it 1-0 Habs. Tampa would tie it in the third by someone named Yanni Gourde, but then Max and Radu went to work in the three-on-three overtime.
Shots on goal – Canadiens 36, Lightning 22.
The Canadiens’ final four games will be within the next week, with the boys bombing over to Sunrise on Monday to throttle the Panthers, then to Buffalo on Wednesday to embarrass the Sabres, then home on Friday to meet these same downcast Lightning, and end it all in Detroit next Saturday.
A sweet pass from Tomas Plekanec to Andrew Shaw in overtime, and the Habs skate off with a 3-2 win in Toronto, thus ending Leaf fans and the HNIC crew’s dream of their beloved team crawling within two points of the boys from Quebec.
If only they could’ve won, sighed Leaf fans as they left bars or turned off the lights at home and tried to sleep, and the HNIC crew wrapped things up at the rink and sadly shook their heads and looked broken.
It was a back and forth game, one that had extra purpose considering the standings and the built-in rivalry, and for a change, one that probably kept many fans on the edge of their chairs and couches throughout.
Of course I don’t know for sure about the edge of chairs and couches. I’m only guessing.
A fast-paced affair which could’ve gone either way, and I could say that folks got their money’s worth at the ACC, except a bunch of lower seats probably went for a grand or so, so maybe the people sitting there didn’t exactly.
Depends on what a grand means to them I guess.
But it went Montreal’s way for a change, they keep their distance from a bunch of pretenders, including the Torontonians, after two sharpshooters and one Shaw raked the Leafs into the ditch.
A struggling team gets it done against a good young Toronto team that gets TV announcers’ libidos doing the watusi.
The Leafs would open the scoring in the first period when Habs rearguard Nikita Nesterov not only had the puck go in off him, but played his man in front so softly it was like he was up against Betty White.
Greg Pateryn sat while Nesterov dressed. Next game, in New Jersey on Monday, maybe that’ll change. Softness isn’t cool, unless it’s toilet paper and a few other things, like women.
In the second frame, with the man advantage, Max would bury a beauty pass from Alex Galchenyuk, and nine minutes later, Galchenyuk would bulge the twine with a great shot that gave the boys a 2-1 lead.
In the third, again with poor defensive coverage (this time by Alexei Emelin), Leafs super-rookie Auston Mathews would tie things and send it into overtime.
And that’s where Pleks and Shaw worked their magic.
This final photo shows the Rocket scoring his final goal, his 626th, on April 12, 1960 during the Stanley Cup Finals against the Leafs. I wrote to a Toronto paper after it happened, asking if they’d send me a photo, and they did.
The Canadiens were blanked 3-0 by the New York Islanders on a balmy Thursday night in Montreal, and although they lost for the eighth time in ten games this month, there were plenty of great things to rave about.
There was that time when one of their passes went tape to tape. That was a fine moment. I remember once when somebody outraced an Islander for the puck, which was awe-inspiring. And those few seconds when they seemed interested touched my heart.
They’ve only been shutout four times in these ten games, which of course is fantastic, and the new addition at centre, Homer de la Thorn, could very well be the missing piece of the puzzle!
So many great things indeed. They make my heart soar like a squealing, constipated seagull at the local dump.
Now the Leafs have to face our mean, lean machine on Saturday. It’s gonna be magnificent. Poor Leafs.
Hopefully we’ll see another tape to tape pass at least once, and at one point in the game I’m expecting somebody, Paul Byron probably, to outrace a guy in blue. And because they’re in Toronto, they could possibly look interested for at least a minute. Maybe two.
It’s all so darn exciting. Go Habs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.