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Canadiens Wound Panthers

Montreal survived a 21-4 shots on goal attack in the third period and 43-25 overall as they edged the Florida Panthers 3-2 in Sunrise and now head back to the friendly confines of the Bell Centre for a Thursday night battle with the Carolina Hurricanes.

All five goals in this game came in the second period, with Canadiens markers by Alexei Emelin shooting from the blueline, Jacob de la Rose converting a nice feed from Brandon Prust while killing a penalty, and a long shot from P.K. Subban, which proved to be the winner.

And best of all, aside the from the two points, was Dustin Tokarski’s work between the pipes. Toker was solid like we knew he could be but hadn’t seen much of lately. A fine night for the backup, who had lost his last four and five of six.

But tonight he was confident and steady, and his mom, who was my favourite in the 24CH segment showing the mothers on a two-city road with their sons, will be proud and happy. She was sure proud and happy (and emotional) during that trip.

We need this fellow at the top of his game with the very real possibility of Carey Price being run by some thug as the playoffs approach, or sometime during the postseason. Just like last year.

Memos should sent to all playoff-bound teams that the league knows teams are thinking about doing this, and if it happens, they’ll have the player’s balls for bookends. The coach’s too.

Tonight shows that Toker can get the job done, and that’s great, because we were starting to wonder.

The win puts the Habs at 95 points, tied with the Rangers for beasts of the East, while the Panthers’ hopes of grabbing the final wild card berth took a serious hit, especially with red-hot Ottawa, also trying to nail down a spot, sitting ahead of them.

The only complaint I can muster is seeing the boys sit back in the third, with most of the play in their end, and holding on for dear life. But they got the win so it’s forgotten already.

 

 

Topped By Tampa

The Canadiens fell 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night, although they gave it the old college try after falling behind 3-0 before three minutes had been played in the second period.

Unfortunately, old college tries are never good enough because they mean losing. And this was to a growing rival who had already won the first three encounters.

It began poorly, that’s for sure. Brenden Morrow got his stick up into the face of Brian Flynn (who didn’t return) and on the four-minute penalty handed down, the Canadiens, and I know you’ll be shocked by this, failed to score.

Following that, a puck was deflected off Andrei Markov and past Carey Price to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead, and then, not even 24 hours after Max Pacioretty was anointed with a new McDonald’s hamburger (the Max 67), he grabbed the puck along the boards near centre ice, turned, and passed it back to none other than a free as a bird Steven Stamkos, who waltzed in and beat Price.

But because I appreciate Max so much, I’m won’t say anything more about this. Or bring up that pass to an Islanders player the other night that killed Price’s shutout. Because Max has 34 goals on a team that you and I complain about because they can’t score. And he had 39 last year.

He also came close several times after, obviously intent on making up for his faux pas. And if you don’t think any of the greats of the game – Howe, Richard, Hull, Orr, Beliveau, Gretzky, Lemieux etc, pulled a boner once in awhile, you’d be wrong.

Later in the second period, Pleks would finally get his team on the scoreboard while on the powerplay (yes, the powerplay), and in the third frame, P.A. Parenteau banged one home after Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop got crossed up behind the net.

But that was it, because Lars Eller was called for holding with just 2:22 left in the game, and with Carey Price pulled to at least keep things even, Steven Stamkos hit the empty net.

Now it’s across the state to take on the Panthers and hopefully better their record in March to three wins in nine games. Which, of course, is still nasty.

Random Notes:

There were a number of questionable decisions by the officials, including the call not made when Brandon Prust and Mike Angelidis fought and which was clearly started by Angelidis. But the instigator penalty wasn’t called.

And Lars Eller’s holding call in the dying minutes wasn’t flagrant by a country mile, and which of course, killed any chance of the Canadiens  squaring things up.

Shots were even at 34 apiece.

 

 

 

Habs Lucky To Lick Laffs

iron-on

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

Max’s Non-Blast Wins It

It warms my heart like a made-for-humans block heater. The big guns for the Rangers – St. Louis, Nash, Brossard etc, had all kinds of chances to score, all sorts of close calls left and right, and didn’t get the job done.

But Max Pacioretty did at the other end, with just over four minutes to play in a 0-0 game, with a long wrist shot that Harry Lumley would stop. And Harry’s dead.

Max’s less-than-hard shot somehow eluded Henrik Lundqvist and the Canadiens skate off with a lovely 1-0 win over a Rangers team that was not only feisty but also world-class whiny. Especially a guy named Kreider.

Highlights? Subban pissing off Kreider. Several times. Prust getting the slight edge in a fight with Glass. Eller and Stepan not being nice to each other. Lundqvist shooting his glove out to stop Max (something he wouldn’t do later :-) ). Price coming up with an amazing game saver on St. Louis in the 3rd.

And Dale Weise scoring or not scoring in the first period. The puck seemed to cross the line, but like Gally’s none-goal back on January 14 against Columbus, it was ruled inconclusive and once again I’ll mention that in a business that earns quite a few gazillions, they still haven’t figured out how to know 100% whether a puck crosses the line completely or not.

Regardless, the boys win their 4th straight, continue to roll along in fine fashion, and now it’s Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at the Bell on Saturday (1:00 ET) to try and stop them.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Rangers 26-24.

Price’s shutout was his 3rd of the season, blanking Winnipeg 3-0 back on November 11th, and Boston 2-0 on November 22nd.

 

Crisp Kenora

Blue sky, sunny day, and dry roads meant taking advantage of the situation. So we drove 948 km. from Wawa to Kenora.

Awesome drive. But we didn’t see any moose, which disappointed me. However, if the roads are as nice tomorrow as they were today, we might not see moose but we’ll see Moose Jaw.

A bit of a slight chill in the air here in Kenora, -28 in fact. (-36 with the wind chill).

Prairies coming up.

Below, Teesha the cat.

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How $150 Became More, Thanks To John Lennon

John-Lennon-Sometime-In-New-Y-541709

34 years ago today, John Lennon was shot dead. It sucked then and it sucks now. Below is a re-posting of a story I wrote a few years ago that, although unrelated to that dreadful evening and the days that followed, has a definite Lennon connection.

Years ago, through an autograph dealer in New York, I bought a little Rolodex-style Barclays bank card for $150, a card that had once been issued to John Lennon. This little card stated that anything under $200 in Lennon’s account could be withdrawn by his two lawyers without permission, but over $200 must be authorized by Lennon.

The card was signed by Lennon and the two lawyers.

I held onto this card for quite some time, but decided at some point to see what someone might pay for it, so I put an ad in an Ottawa paper and wondered what kind of offers might come up. Soon after, the phone rang.

It was a fellow in Ottawa who said he knew what the card was, he was a big Beatles collector, and said he had once played in David Peel’s band in New York, a band Lennon had jammed with and had produced Peel’s “The Pope Smokes Dope” album. He asked me if I would be willing to come to his place and have a look at what he had, and maybe make a trade. So I went.

The guy’s apartment was jammed with Beatles memorabilia, worth a large fortune for sure, and I could tell he really wanted my card. But if I was going to make a trade,  what he was offering better be good. And it was.

He showed me about half a dozen sheets of Lennon’s hand-written lyrics of songs from the “Sometime in New York City” album, and suggested that if I wanted, I could choose one if would part with the card. Oh yes, I thought. I’ll definitely do this.

I chose the song “New York City,” written by Lennon in pencil, with his little caricatures of himself and Yoko drawn on the sheet along with the lyrics. I was more than happy to make this trade.

It wasn’t long after that when my wife and I, just making ends meet, thought our dingy old basement would look fabulous if it was gutted and renovated. Our house was small, we had two young kids, and living space in the basement would double the size of the house. It was a lovely thought to have such an addition, so I made the decision. I’d sell the Lennon lyrics.

I sent a copy of it to Sotheby’s in New York, and they asked if they could see the real thing to assess it properly, so down it went by courier. Soon after they wrote back and said yes, it’s authentic, and they put a possible selling price of $2500. I knew that in the near future Sotheby’s would be holding a Lennon auction, the timing was right, and the basement needed serious work, so I told them to go ahead and sell it.

It sold for $7000.

I know what you’re going to say. Imagine if I sold it today, it would go for much, much more. But $7000 was a big score for us back then, it had only been a $150 investment in the first place, and we were happy. And the basement ended up looking like a million bucks, with new furniture, a new televison, and lots of shelving to hold my hockey and Beatles collections.

Eventually we sold this house, got a fine price for it, definitely because of the new basement, and moved to Calgary. And the extra money we got from the sale allowed us to buy a beautiful place in Cowtown, which I was able to enjoy for a solid three years before my wife left me.

The Curtain Closes

And just like that, it comes to a crashing halt.

Blanked 1-0 in game six at Madison Square Garden and the Canadiens’ season closes way too soon. We wanted more but I guess fans of every team except the Cup winner want more and don’t get it.

It was a game where the Habs had a blanket thrown over them almost from start to finish, a game they never found themselves truly in, a game where passes were off, they were checked into the ground, and the flow never flowed.

The Rangers tightened things up so much, Montreal, fighting for their lives, could only muster five shots in the first, eight in the second, and just five in the third when they should’ve been pulling out all the stops.

The attack was non-existent. So was pressure on Henrik Lundqvist. And the Rangers move on to the Stanley Cup Final and the Canadiens say their goodbyes in the next few days and spread out to different corners of the planet.

It’s a tad shocking as I pound the keyboard with two fingers. We had so many hopes and dreams that ended before they were supposed to. It sucks when the hopes and dreams don’t pan out.

This also isn’t  a night to say this guy didn’t do this or that guy didn’t do that. It just wouldn’t feel right.

It’s a night, for me at least, to look back and appreciate the terrific season the Montreal Canadiens gave us. One of only four teams left standing. How great was that?

Carey Price was on the sidelines, Dustin Tokarski stepped in, and the goaltending never lost a beat. But against the Rangers in this game especially, the team in front of Tokarski looked to have run out of gas while the Rangers still had a full tank.

In the next six months there will be some tweaking, some guys gone, a couple of young defenceman will find themselves with regular jobs, our kids like Alex Galchenyuk and Michael Bournival will have another valuable season under their belts, and PK Subban will get signed and continue on his road to the league’s best d-man.

We can get into changes and non-changes in the next while. It’ll be interesting to see what Marc Bergevin decides to do. I just hope Dale Weise, who had only signed a one-year contract, is in the plans.

We missed Weise’s character in this game six because of John Moore. Who is John Moore again?

This run has made our guys better. The experience is invaluable. Next year they’ll be one of the elite teams, one that when playoff time rolls around, they’ll be be a force and that parade will be much more of a possibility.

I’m truly proud of them. They gave us a great year, but they just aren’t quite there yet. Next year they will be because it’s a large and strong nucleus that make up our Montreal Canadiens, and the near future looks extremely bright.

One final note before it’s lights off. As I mention every year when the Habs season draws to a close, I don’t go away. This blog carries on throughout the summer so please continue to stop by.

Tomorrow’s another day. It’s also my weekly beer day at the local pub!

 

 

Good Old King Of Hockey

I used to have this on video and I remember a few years back (quite a few years back) when my dad and I watched it and we got a good chuckle, even though it was supposed to be a serious drama.

It’s the great old film ‘King of Hockey’ from 1936, and it involves the star player of the New York Violets, Gabby Duggan, getting involved with some gangsters who want Gabby to throw the big game.

To add to the drama and suspense, Gabby goes blind for awhile, which throws a wrench into his hockey career with the Violets, not to mention his love life.

The one scene that stands out for me more any other, and the one which made my dad and I chuckle hardest, is when Gabby stickhandles down the ice with one hand on the stick and with the other he gives a nice, long wave to his girlfriend in the stands.

If you don’t want to know how this hockey classic ends, please look away now……..(Gabby thwarts the gangsters, wins the game, and gets the girl).

A Brief Habs-Sens Recap

The Canadiens and Senators clashed three times before tonight, and how did things go?

On Nov. 7th in Ottawa, Montreal dropped a 4-1 decision , their fourth straight loss in November, because for some reason they had stopped scoring  – just seven goals scored in four games.

Sound familiar? Currently they’ve scored seven goals in their last five games.

On January 4th at the Bell, two goals from Daniel Briere and one from Brian Gionta wasn’t enough because with the the game tied and just 19 seconds remaining in the third period, P.K. Subban took a hooking penalty and Ottawa ended it on the power play in overtime.

On January 16th in Ottawa, the Canadiens finally solved the Sens, although it took overtime to do it. And the fact was, the boys were terrible on this night. They had jumped into a 3-0 lead in the first but by the time this period would draw to a close, Ottawa had replied twice and it was a 3-2 game.

For the rest of the night, it was all Ottawa and only Carey Price standing on his head kept his team in it. Finally in overtime, P.K. scored the winner and celebrated like crazy, making the talking heads at CBC and Habs-haters everywhere aghast at PK’s enthusiastic celebration.

I thought it was a justified celebration on PK’s part. After what had happened twelve days before when he was in the box and the Sens won it, and the way they had played so well in the first period of this game and then completely fell apart, it was only right that P.K. was joyful.

Cherry, Stock, Habs haters and Sens fans etc. didn’t get it, naturally.

Tonight is the fourth meeting between these two and it’s time for the Canadiens to start scoring. And it’s time to show some superiority over a team nine points behind them in the standings.