Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

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.

 

 

Game 7 – Henderson Huge Again

Below, pucks that came with bottles of Bacardi Rum:

And Gary Bergman, one of Canada’s most solid performers.

Paul Henderson’s second straight game-winner, with just two minutes and sixteen seconds remaining, was a work of art which absolutely solidifies his standing as one of the tournament’s premier performers. Henderson has been a revelation, and his goal on this night, which evens the series and sets the stage for dizzying drama in game eight, was a goal of epic proportions that saw the Leaf star find himself behind the Soviet defence with a shot that fooled a surprised Tretiak.

4-3 Canada with one game to go. Several million Canadians are already calling in sick for, coincidentally, the same day as game eight.

Henderson has said often in the years following that his winning goal in this game seven is the goal he never gets tired of watching. And although our eyes were being opened wide by the exploits of Henderson with his consistency in this Summit Series, he had scored 38 goals the previous season with Toronto, and 30 the year before that, so the guy had come with good hands. We just hadn’t been paying attention.

Russian officials had promised the Canadians that the two German referees, Baader and Kompalla, would not be used on this night, but only if the Canadians assured them that Gary Bergman would stop skating by the Russian bench and heckling coach Bobrov. Midway through the game, after Boris Mikhailov had tossed several barbs at John Ferguson behind the Canadian bench, Team Canada sent a note over saying they were sticking to their Bergman promise, so back off with Mikhailov. And that was the end of that.

Game seven also saw some on-ice nastiness involving Bergman and Mikhailov. Mikhailov turns out to be a kicker, a practice rarely if ever seen in the NHL, and the skate dug into Bergman’s skin, which not surprisingly, upset the Canadian to no end. For Canadians, it was arm-waving time to see Bergman losing his cool with the obnoxious Russian star, and for Soviet fans, just another example of Canadian greasiness, and showed their disgust and displeasure by their shrill whistling. (Both Henderson’s goal and the Bergman/Mikhailov scuffle can be seen below).

More craziness, and a Canadian win. Canadian fans at this point couldn’t care less what Russian fans thought about our players, but over the years I would learn that Russians far and wide held great admiration for our boys. They just weren’t allowed to show it.

Gary Bergman, “a rock” in the series as described by Bobby Orr, passed away in 2000 after a battle with cancer. He was only 62.

Beatles, Habs, And Leafs

stub

On August 17th, 1966, the Beatles played two shows at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was at the afternoon concert, and I’m pretty darn proud of it.

In the summer of ’66 I was 15 and had a summer job as a highway construction slave labourer, but the boss let me go early and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had got word to me just that morning that the DJ was going and asked if I would like to go with him.

I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, they were still available when I showed up at the Gardens, and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row on the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, including the Ronettes, the Cyrkle and Bobby Hebb, and the Beatles played for about 40 minutes with girls screaming and fainting and carrying on.

That fall, hockey season began, and the next spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Habs in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

The Leafs were an old team with guys like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, and Allan Stanley, but Montreal wasn’t that young either. Henri Richard was 30, John Ferguson 27, Claude Provost was 32, Dick Duff 30, Ted Harris 30, Jean-Guy Talbot was 34, Jean Beliveau was 35, and the goalies, Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge, were 37 and 33 respectively.

Of course, Montreal also had kiddies. Yvan Cournoyer was all of 22. Claude Larose was 23, Jacques Laperriere 24, and Serge Savard and Carol Vadnais were just 20.

John and Ringo were 26, Paul 24, and George 23.

The Habs and Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

The Leafs continue to suck.

P.K. For Weber

PK Weber

The Subbanator is now a Nashville Predator, and big Shea Weber becomes a Montreal Canadien.

A switching of star defencemen. A trade that’ll piss off a lot of Habs fans. And who said Marc Bergevin was afraid to do something big?

Weber’s a stud with a shot that makes goalies consider crocodile wrestling. P.K.’s got a cannon too, but not like Weber, who wins hardest shot competitions and blasts pucks that sometimes remind me of my shot when I played for the Orillia Byers Bulldozers midget all-stars.

Weber, at 6’4″ and 235 lbs, hurts when he hits, and P.K. (6′ 210) – not so much.

Weber’s 30 and PK 27, and while both are Canadian, Weber hails from Sicamous BC, a place surrounded by lakes, streams, birds singing, and tranquility, while PK is from Toronto, where Nazem Kadri and the Leafs slither.

It’s a trade that might see some Habs fans furious at management and even quit watching hockey because they loved PK so much. Of course they’ll get over it, but right now they want to punch somebody in the mouth.

They loved what PK brought to the city, his charisma and charm and humour, and of course his $10 million pledge to Montreal Children’s Hospital. They loved his flashiness and his fancy suits, and certainly his way with the microphone and camera. They didn’t love it when he circled with the puck and fell down, but that won’t be mentioned now.

Would they love it if they knew for sure that P.K.’s teammates were sick of his act, that maybe he just might have been hurting his team in different ways?

Would they mind it if they realized that a Shea Weber personality, the polar opposite of Subban, just might be what this team in turmoil needs, and maybe the fact that winning is more important than a charismatic fellow who was great for his community but rubbed certain people at his job site the wrong way?

Subban wasn’t completely loved and accepted by all Habs fans either, but over the next hours, days, and weeks, we’ll be hearing only from those who feel Bergevin and Geoff Molson should be tarred and feathered and their heads placed in a vice.

Whose camp am I in? I’m looking on the bright side, because who knows how this will all play out. It could be terrific, and I’m all for change.

I liked Subban, but the team sucked last year like it’s never sucked before. They’ve been a small bunch, they ranked middle of the pack in scoring, the power play was pathetic, and if Bergevin had basically sat pat I would’ve been more pissed than this.

Yes, they still need firepower up front, but this is a start. Maybe Weber can help with some of the problems just mentioned. I’m expecting him too.

We’ve got a star defenceman with great size and a mighty fine NHL and Olympic resume, and one who sometimes shoots pucks through the netting. I’m okay with this deal, although it cost a big time quality guy to get him.

Think of the fun we’ll have watching opposing players scatter when the Webernator winds up.

 

 

More To The Roy And Brian Spencer Story

Spencer

A new email adds greatly to an old story.

In 2008 I wrote about former NHLer Brian Spencer and the tragic events surrounding his dad when CBC decided to air a Vancouver-Oakland game instead of the Leafs and Chicago, which was Brian’s first NHL game.

Brian’s dad, Roy, furious at not being able to see his son in this huge moment in time, decided to bring a rifle to the local TV station, where he would be gunned down by the RCMP.

You can see the full story here – The Sad Story of Roy Spencer and his son Brian.

Today I received an email from a woman named Carole Fawcett who was working at the TV station when Roy Spencer burst in, and I appreciate very much her taking the time to describe those horrific events.

Here’s her email:

Hello

I was at the actual event in Prince George, where I worked for CKPG Radio and Television. Just wanted to clarify a few details about the Roy Spencer incident.
He had actually been calling the station all day asking where the game was going to be showed. He was very abrasive and rude I remember being told. He came to the station that night, and once in the door, lunged toward me (I was at the reception desk), wrenched the phone from my hands, banging it against my face in the process. Then he went further into the station. Fast forward to the TV studio where he had us all lined up with his gun pointed toward us and told the TV Switcher to shut down the TV which he did – so all people watching in Prince George would have had their TV’s go black. He told us he had killed (said he was a commando in the war) and would do so again and that we were NOT to put the TV back on the air. He threatened one of the staff members and then subsequently all of us. Unbeknownst to him, Fiori D’Andrea had managed to call the police before he got to the television studio. So, when he went outdoors, the RCMP said – “Halt – or we will shoot”……………and he ended up wounding three RCMP officers. He was killed in the process. He was suffering from serious mental health issues…………………..and his ability to be rational was long gone.

Of course in those days there was no help for staff and we were expected to be back at work the next day.

Just thought you may want some details from someone who was there.

Carole Fawcett, MPCC, CHt
Master Practitioner in Clinical Counselling
Clinical Hypnotherapist

Habs Wax Leafs

iron 1

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

rocky

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.