Category Archives: Winnipeg Jets

Buffaloed

It was a game the Canadiens should’ve won. But they didn’t

One of those bad bounces off the glass that we see from time to time killed the mood, the tie, and the legs Montreal had finally found after being off all week. Halted quicker than a Brian Gionta head into an Alexei Emelin shoulder pad.

There was just 1:18 left in the third period, with the score tied 1-1, when a puck shot in from outside the blueline took one of those crazy caroms off the glass and headed out front where Matt Moulson was.

That was it. Buffaloed by a bad bounce. All Carey Price could do was look from afar, having left the premises to corral what should’ve been a puck around the back.

The breaks of the game, a game which had come alive only in the third, and which ended 2-1 for a team fighting it out with Edmonton and Columbus for best basement dweller.

Random Notes:

Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis opened the scoring with a beauty of a goal, a second effort that he’d eventually backhand behind Price, and which you’ll probably see on the highlights any second now.

I thought Eric Tangradi, playing his first game as a Hab, was impressive. He’s a huge 6’4″, 221 lb. left winger with 136 previous games in the NHL with Pittsburgh and Winnipeg, is a good skater for a big man, seems like he could create serious havoc when riled, and he seemed to fit in nicely on the fourth line.

Love the big guys who can play. Love the idea of what he might add as a bonafide power forward. But we’ll see. It’s just one game. I thought Rene Bourque was going to be a good power forward too.

Emelin clocked Gionta near the boards with a shoulder to the head and was given two minutes for it, at which time shortly after, Moulson scored the winner.

Gionta was pissed, but if he was a few inches taller, it would’ve been a great check. Gionta’s just a tiny bugger who collided with a hard shoulder pad. All’s fair in love and war.

Brandon Prust said something out there that got him a minor, a misconduct, and a game. We may or may not hear what he said, and if it comes out, I hope his mother doesn’t see it.

Jiri Sekac continues to look great.

P.A. Parenteau scored his team’s lone goal from a mad scramble in the crease.

Shots on goal – Montreal 31, Buffalo 25.

Next up – Buffalo at the Bell in a few hours.

 

Sekac Outstanding In Habs Win

Sekac

Lapointe

It began with an emotional ceremony that saw Guy Lapointe’s number 5 raised to the rafters between his buddies Savard and Robinson.

And the game began like so many others, with the Canadiens not scoring and looking befuddled in the process, relying on Carey Price to keep them in it once again.

But in the second and third they were the team we’ve been craving to see. A team that suddenly found cohesion and speed, with the top three lines dangling and creating chances, and the fourth line punching the clock and sometimes coming close to adding to the festivities, as in Dale Weise ringing one off the crossbar.

And as much as it was a night for Guy Lapointe and a big win that just might boot this group out of the doldrums (I said “might”), it was a coming out party for Jiri Sekac, a healthy scratch for the last seven games, who scored a goal and added an assist and named first star of the night.

If this is what we’re going to see instead of the usual Rene Bourque effort, maybe we could buy Bourque the odd coffee and hot dog as our way of saying thank you for the great games he last played. Last spring.

A big, important, and impressive win on Guy Lapointe night. Imagine if the Canadiens were embarrassed on this special occasion. But they weren’t, and it was a happy night at the Bell for the home team, the hometown fans, and hopefully Mr. Lapointe, who happens to be a scout for the Wild.

The Canadiens got on the scoreboard first, something not often seen, when Gally wired one over the shoulder of Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper, and after the Wild had evened things up, Lars Eller, with 50 seconds left in the period put the boys ahead again.

In the third, it was Sekac and then Max, and Minnesota was done like dinner.

Two goals in the second, two in the third. A great forty minutes. Now if they can only start scoring in the first. And if they can continue what they started.

Random Notes:

The Sekac, Eller and Prust line combined for 6 points  – Sekac a goal and an assist, Eller a goal and an assist, and Prust, who was outstanding in this game, adding 2 assists.

Other point-getters – Gally and Max with a goal each, and Pleky, Parenteau, and DD with assists.

Next up – Tuesday, when Winnipeg pays a visit.

 

Budaj Moves On

Eric TangradiPeter Budaj and Hamilton Bulldogs winger Patrick Holland are now Winnipeg Jets and thus, it’s Dustin Tokarski the suits have decided to go with.

Coming Montreal’s way is Eric Tangradi, a fellow I definitely had to look up, considering I’d never heard of him.

Who knows if this left winger will crack the squad, but if he doesn’t it would be a shame, considering he’s a 6’4″ power forward. Just what the doctor ordered, except he seems to have hands of stone.

In 136 NHL games with Pittsburgh and Winnipeg, Tangradi scored a total of five goals, and in a perfect world, a 6’4″ power forward can bulge the twine more than five times. So we’ll see.

Tokarski, as we all know, was tremendous in playoff action last year after Price went down, so the decision is fine with me. He proved he can come up big in relief, which is what we ask for. In fact, anything less is unacceptable.

Toker is also cheaper than Budaj, so management, as is the name of the game, got their payroll down and some extra bucks are now there for when it comes time to land someone like a big guy who can also put the puck in the net.

Unfortunately, Budaj probably remains a backup with his new team, as Winnipeg has Ondrej Pavelec as their main man. Regardless, it’s a great job. Better than yours and mine.

 

 

 

Bell Number Eight?

Hard to believe that seeing a game at the Bell Centre only ranks number 8 behind Minnesota, Washington, Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and New York, but that’s what the Stadium Journey people have decided in their new 2014 rankings.

I was sure there was no better experience than being at the Bell. In fact I’m still sure, regardless of what they say. Number 8 definitely beats Ottawa though, which comes in at a dismal 29th.

Here’s the link with new ratings for all the barns – Stadium Journey Arena Rankings.

The Barrie Boys

There’s several different storylines in this picture. Have a look and then below I’ll tell you.

Even the Habs are involved!

Barrie

This is the 1964-65 Barrie All-Stars, a team my Orillia team played often.

It was that very year I think, that after Orillia had been eliminated from playoff action, this Barrie team picked up three players from Orillia and I was one of them.

I didn’t do so well but one of their coaches told my buddy Ron Clarke that they were glad they chose him. You bet I’m still insulted.

The coach sitting down on the right side is Paul Meger, who played 212 games in the NHL, all with the Montreal Canadiens, from 1950-51 to 1954-55.

Mr. Meger and his Habs hoisted the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1953 by taking out the Bruins in five games.

That’s his son Gary Meger beside him with the “A” on his sweater.

The player on the far left in the middle row, standing next to a coach or trainer, is Dan Maloney. Dan played 737 games in the NHL with Chicago, L.A., Detroit, and Toronto.

It would be six years from the time this picture was taken to the time Dan played his first NHL game. He was one tough customer and I tried not to upset him when Orillia played Barrie.

He was a great player and leader, even as a kid.

Dan would go on to coach Toronto and Winnipeg in the 1980s when his playing days were over.

The kid in the top row, second from left, is Craig Ortiz, who would move to Orillia in a year or two because his dad opened a car dealership there. Craig and I became great buddies and spent most of our waking hours in the pool hall.

Craig took me down to Barrie once to visit his pal Dan Maloney and the three of us spent the day in the Barrie pool hall.

He and I also hitchhiked to Ottawa when our class went on a school trip. But the trip was only for those who had good marks and that wasn’t us, but we went anyway. The class bus passed us outside Orillia and we ended up beating it to Ottawa.

Not so lucky on the way back, though, and we voluntarily wound up sleeping in the Lindsay jail after asking the cop there if we could.

Maybe not so much for you, but for me this is an awesome picture, full of memories. I’d like to thank Mike Mohun, who I haven’t seen since about grade nine, for sending it to me.

 

Annually Disappointed

Interesting story in The Hockey News sent over from Ian Sirota about fans in 10 cities who are completely long-suffering.

Always teased, always disappointed, their team always falling short.

And no, the Habs aren’t on the list. They’re not even on the honorable mention list. I’m not sure why. We’re annually disappointed.

It’s right here. Thank you Ian for the link.

Again, a 2-1Loss At Home

Two goals for the Habs in their two games played this weekend is a bit on the feeble side, wouldn’t you say?

A 2-1 overtime loss to Tampa Bay, and a 2-1 regulation time loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

And at the risk of stretching it a bit, before Montreal’s previous two games in beating Boston and Carolina, they had lost games by the scores of 5-0, 4-1, 5-1, and 5-3.

Yes, a bit on the feeble side. But that’s what this season is and will probably remain. Some fine games and a whack of lousy ones.

The problem is, they’re slowly inching closer to being out of the playoffs. So the whack of lousy ones needs to be less than a whack.

It’s imperative that they get their asses in gear.

We need to be patient, says Marc Bergevin. But Bergevin’s only been the GM for a short while. General managers before him told us in different ways that we needed to be patient too.

I hate the patient thing. I don’t know how to fix it quickly but I hate it anyway. Patience and bad moves isn’t supposed to mean two decades.

Being patient is for disciples of the Dali Lama. Bad moves is me on the dance floor.

And speaking of bad moves….. there was Bob Gainey, who once said “”We are extremely pleased to have acquired a player of the caliber of Scott Gomez.  Scott is an elite player who will certainly contribute to the success of our team for years to come.”

The beat goes on, on and off the ice. Don’t worry, front office. We fully expect to see a powerhouse in the next few years. Until we don’t, because we need to wait just a little bit longer than a few years.

And when a few years come and go, we’ll wait a few more.

The Canadiens started slow in the first period on Sunday, which not only happens often, but just seems to me to be inexcusable.

Start slow? How come? I prefer the rarely tested “starting fast” idea.

But they did pick up steam, and in the second period, after the Jets had made it 1-0, Brian Gionta first rang one off the post and shortly after, bulged the twine to give us all hope.

But lo and behold, in the third frame, Carey Price misplayed a puck near the crease and the Winnipeggers grabbed the lead and that was that.

PK scored on his own net yesterday, and Price fumbled the ball today.

Two days, two miscues, two 2-1 losses.

Just not a good time. And now is a chance to use a tremendously creative cliche I’ve just made up and one you’ve never heard before – “we’ll take it one game at a time”.

Because on Tuesday when it’s the Flames in town, the gang might be sensational.

In fact, they might be so good, they could even score three goals.

How great would that be?

Random Notes:

Brendan Gallagher played his heart out, worked like nobody’s business, and tussled often with Mark Stuart, who’s listed at 6’2, 213 lbs.

Some players have an abundance of heart like Gally. Others, like…….., don’t.

Flames on Tuesday, Canucks on Thursday, Carolina Saturday. Then it’s the Olympic break.

 

Could’ve But Didn’t

Bell

Luci and I were at the Bell Centre today to see the Canadiens drop a 2-1 overtime decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and as you can see, we were up fairly high.

But having said that, it was still way closer than most seats at NHL outdoor games.

And not only that, we got to see two goals down at our end. Daniel Briere’s in the the third period that tied the game at one, and P.K. Subban’s deflection in the second that put the Lightning up by one in the first place.

On a Habs power play no less.

I’m not mad at P.K. for that big Lightning goal in a game that featured almost no scoring. We’ve seen goals like that over the years from different players.

It’s a natural instinct to stick the stick out when the puck’s near the goal.

As long as he never does it again. Once, maybe twice, in a career is enough thank you very much.

It just wasn’t a barn burner, which is what one hopes for when going to a game. Montreal got chances only here and there, and I found myself glancing often at the scoreboard that showed cute babies in little Habs jerseys asleep in mom or dad’s arms.

I wanted to see a madhouse, people all around me yelling and screaming, but it wasn’t to be. The team just didn’t provide enough incentive to raise the roof.

The Lightning had more opportunities, but Carey Price, who was awarded the Molson Cup for January beforehand, was sparkling often.

The Canadiens still could’ve won it though, it they’d created more chances. But as has been the case so often, the hammer wasn’t down a lot. Maybe one of those little kid’s hammers, but not the big honkin’ workingman’s hammer.

After Briere’s goal in the third, the boys picked it up a notch or two and went hard in overtime. P.K. Subban weaved and wove like he was on a mission to correct his own-net goal, but although we oohed and aahhed, nothing much came to pass.

And  it was all for naught, because with 24 seconds left in overtime, the puck found its way behind Price and that was it.

They got a point and we made our way to Ste-Catherines where we drowned our sorrows with smoked meat at Reuben’s.

Random Notes:

Brandon Prust was in a scrap with Jean-Philippe Cote early in the first, and then late in the second, he and Lightning goalie Ben Bishop had a slight disagreement, as it appeared Bishop didn’t appreciate Prust telling him his mother wears army boots.

Carey Price skated up to get a closer looked and was given a penalty for leaving the crease.

Christian Thomas saw some action for the Habs in just his second NHL game and was given 8:16 seconds of ice time, just 25 seconds less than Briere.

A kid sat beside P.A. announcer Michel Lacroix and read the Habs starting lineup.

I have a beef here. A serious beef. I’ve been trying for more than 50 years to be stick boy for one game. And some kid who’s been a Habs fan for only a couple of years gets to read the lineup?

Michel Lacroix has an excellent voice. For me, he’s as good as Claude Mouton was.

Shots on goal TB 36, Habs 29.

Next up – Sunday at 1 pm again, only this time it’s the Winnipeg Jets.

 

Habs Take It To The Bruins

With Peter Budaj coming up big between the pipes and a full team effort in front of him, the Canadiens skate away with a solid 4-1 win in Boston.

And just like that, two wins in row and they’re in everyone’s good books again. Or mine at least. I hate speaking for everyone else.

But I’m sure in yours too.

Because they played well and don’t deserve to have anyone mad at them right now. It’s a night and a tomorrow to savour. Then we’ll see how things go on Saturday.

It was in the air early on, when the game was played often in the Boston end, the boys were working hard and passing well, and slowly but surely we saw the Desharnais, Pacioretty, Gallagher line all over the place, getting chances, stirring things up near the Bruins crease.

We saw Alexei Emelin lay on solid thumps and get pucks in deep from the blueline, including the notching of his first of the season, a seeing-eye blast in the first to open the scoring.

Emelin, like his team, has played better these last couple of games, and seeing him be a force simply stirs the soul. A big tough hombre doing things right instead of wrong.

Like we knew he could because he has.

The Emelin play of late was hopefully just an aberration, lanced and purged, kicked to the curb and exorcised. Never to return.

The big bear also drew Milan Lucic into a penalty after some healthy punishment near the boards, which was nice to see considering it was Lucic who barreled over Emelin last April to put the big Russian out for seven or eight months.

Emelin’s getting back to what he does best. Not being gun shy. Playing with more confidence. Converting rib bones into dust.

And of course there was Brendan Gallagher, sending Max into the clear with a nice pass that Max would convert. And then Gally springing Daniel Briere loose for a fourth goal after Brian Gionta had tipped in a Tomas Plekanec shot.

And  a great feed from Gally to Desharnais which didn’t make it through but was a sensational pass from number 11, who absolutely played one of his finest games of the season.

It was a night for most Habs. Douglas Murray used his strength and was a rock throughout. Rene Bourque had all kinds of shots and good chances. Briere had a goal and an assist.

Michael Bournival was simply flying at times. Bournival’s still finding his way in the league, and in a year or two should be a real key guy.

Even George Parros made some noise, and it was interesting to see him in the Boston crease surrounded by Bruins and not one looked eager to try any of the after-whistle stuff.

Completely different from the mess some of our small guys find themselves in often. Size in the crease is a beautiful thing.

The Bruins were basically quiet throughout because the Canadiens weren’t going to be denied. Certainly they were as fed up with their mediocre play as we were. Maybe more but it’s hard to imagine.

And they played like they’ve moved onwards and upwards.

This was a tremendously important win. Two wins after such a funk they’ve been in lately. With everyone on board and in sync.

It makes my heart soar like an American Three-toed Woodpecker.

And although the Carolina team was probably tired after playing a bunch of games in a short time, Montreal was still full marks for that win and a huge A-plus for their effort at the TD Garden in Boston.

Bruins announcer Jack Edwards is presently crying in the announcer’s private toilet. They’ve taken his belt away from him.

Random Notes:

So great to see Budaj enjoy such a fine game after being on the losing end for his last six outings. Although three of those were in relief of Carey Price.

Shots on goal – Boston 35, Montreal 33.

Tuukka Rask was yanked halfway through after giving up the Gionta goal. It warms my innards.

Also great fun to see dejected Bruins fans leave early.

Next up – Saturday at 1 pm ET, when Tampa Bay comes a callin’. Then 24 hours later, the Winnipeg Jets are at the Bell. Two matinees on Super Bowl Weekend.