Habs Surprise Bruins

There were times throughout when they were far from sharp. Dozey in fact.  Definitely brain-dead in places.

But enough about the referees.

Canadiens double up the visiting Bruins 4-2 in a game that should turn more than a few Bruins fans into babbling glue sniffers. Their team had the Habs on the ropes. And then they didn’t.

Funny how that happens sometimes.

Somehow, although outplayed for much of the game, this first place team hung in against a surprisingly tough Boston squad. Tougher than I thought, considering the Bs sit in 19th spot overall with just 13 points, while the Canadiens, from the highest perch, can barely see them with binoculars.

But in the end, when the score was tied and just over a minute left in the third period, David Krejci decided to crosscheck Tomas Plekanec, several times in fact, and while he was cooling his blades in the sinbin after his numbing stupidity, David Desharnais buried the puck and the knife.

Soon after, Max found the empty net, and fans exhaled.

A fine ending to a tense game, and Bruins fans scurry to the local Army Surplus to buy knives to slit their throats.

Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period after the Canadiens were called for a tremendously dubious ‘too many men’ infraction, which was one of several weird refereeing decisions. But because of the final score, I won’t bitch. Except for the first paragraph of course.

The team was stifled constantly. They were bottled up, scrambling, all out of whack. I couldn’t wait for the period to end.

The only fun I had in this 20 minutes was seeing Andrei Markov blast a slapshot into the Bruins bench after taking a tripping call when Colin Miller embellished in fine Brad Marchand style.

No one was hurt on the Bruins bench, which is good I suppose. But it was a great moment. An excellent Markov moment.

Just as the Bruins had scored early in the first on the power play, the Canadiens did the same in the second, when Tomas Plekanec finished off a feed from Brendan Gallagher at 1:09 into the frame.

The Canadiens power play is clicking now. They promised, and I believed.

The Bruins took the lead in the second when Frank Vatrano, from the legendary Vatrano/Gambino mob family and playing in just his first NHL game after the family made the Bruins an offer they couldn’t refuse, notched his first big league goal.

Now we wait for news of a horse’s head found in David Krejci’s hotel bed after he gets home from Crescent St.

A Bruins lead going into the third period, with Boston stifling the boys and simply being the better team, ready to collect two big road points.

The Canadiens were in trouble, and possibly let down emotionally  after a Plekanec goal in the the third, which would have tied things up, was ruled no goal because of Gally causing havoc in the crease.

It was a sad time at the old Bell barn. The team getting whupped by the rival Bostonians. Things just weren’t going the right way on this Saturday night.

And then………

At 8:58, Lars Eller slipped one through Jonas Gustavsson’s legs and the score was tied in dramatic and surprising fashion.

At 17:57, David Kejci lost his mind and not quite a minute later, DD put his team in front.

And with 17 seconds left, Max found the empty net.

The Bruins and their fans once again hate the Habs more than anyone they’ve ever hated.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Boston 33-31.

Canadiens went 2/3 on the power play, while Boston was 1/5.

Too many turnovers, loose play, a plethora of icings, too many penalties, and the boys still won.

Next up – Canadiens take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

A little humour to close with. The Leafs allowed a goal with just a second left in Washington, and then lost in the shootout.





Habs Senatized


I downloaded a free app called Fresh Paint and the picture above is my first stab at it after being confused for several days.

I painted the cross, not the Sens logo of course, plus that little red blob over on the right which was an accident.

I feel the red blob somehow represents Mark Stone, on the outside looking in, currently sitting out a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Detroit’s Landon Ferraro, and who is probably still recovering from his near-death experience when the evil PK Subban tapped him on the wrist last year.

A trooper, that’s what he is.

I’ll bet Landon’s pop Ray Ferraro  wouldn’t mind tapping this trooper.

Canadiens fell 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Ottawa Senators, although they carried most of the play and outshot the obnoxious pricks 37-27.

But it wasn’t to be as Max and Tomas Plekanec were caught during the newly installed three on three overtime, leaving Jeff Petry to fend off three oncoming Sens, and that was that. Bam. Kyle Turris ended it just 34 seconds in.

This loss is just the Canadiens third of the season, Michael Condon’s first in his five starts, and the first game to go beyond regulation time for the boys. It’s a loss but not something to lose sleep over. They played well, but Craig Anderson, between the pipes for the Sens, did too.

Now it’s time to focus on the N.Y. Islanders, who check into the Bell on Thursday.

In my world, a loss isn’t a disaster, but another after that is getting there, and another after that sucks to kingdom come.

So we need a win on Thursday to avoid all that.

Random Notes:

Dale Weise, with his seventh of the year, scored Montreal’s lone goal. Weise is now tied with Max for goals scored.

Montreal’s power play went 1/3. They also gave up a shorthanded goal to J-G Pageau in the second frame which opened the scoring.

Lars Eller, I felt, played a fine game.

A Habs goal was called back in the first period when referee (and Habs nemesis) Chris Lee ruled that Brendan Gallagher interfered with Anderson in the crease. It was looked at, and the call stood.

I, however, disagree.

Habs Blast Jets


Such a fine way to begin November, with a dominate 5-1 win over the visiting, and sometimes belligerent, Winnipeg Jets.

But Dustin Byfuglien and his pals can take solace in knowing they got hammered by the best team in the league, which should make them feel better when they’re out breaking curfew tonight.

Backup goalie Mike Condon, between the pipes for injured Carey Price, allowed just one goal, which means the big fellow has let in just six goals in his first four starts, all wins, which is impressive to say the least.

Also impressive is the Habs scoring a total of 21 goals during these four Condon games.

Adding to the impressiveness – the David Desharnais, Tomas Fleischmann, and Dale Weise line, which tallied seven points in all. This line was flying all game, Fleischmann was on fire, but the team as a whole had their legs moving in fine style.

It’s hard to imagine these guys in another 30 years when they’re fat and can hardly skate.

The Jets, meanwhile, sat quietly on the tarmac, not going anywhere.

And then there was Paul Byron, listed as 5’7″, 153 lbs, playing like the much bigger Henri Richard, listed as 5’7″, 160 lbs.

Byron opened the scoring in the first period when once again, as he had done in Calgary two nights prior, burst in on a shorthanded breakaway to light the lamp. A fine deja vu moment to be sure.

Two goals and an assist for Byron in his three games, while Alex Semin sits in the press box each night now, wondering, drinking coffee, eating hot dogs, and asking Marc Bergevin if he can get him anything.

The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first, which is always such a nice thing, when lefthanded shot David Desharnais burst down the right side the way the Rocket once did, and after being stopped, Tomas Fleischmann banged home his first of the night.

In the second period it would be Fleischmann doing the bursting down the right side, with his shot eluding Jets goaltender Michael Hutchison. The starting goalie would soon be replaced by Ondrej Pavelec after allowing a fourth goal, a DD marker when he barreled in with Fleischmann and Nathan Beaulieu on what was basically a 3 on 1.

Lars Eller would direct the puck off his skate on the power play to widen things to 5-1, and in the third, the lone goal past Condon came from Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn, who looks like the Band’s Richard Manuel, who’s been dead for 29 years.

Random Notes:

The 7 points from the DD line included Fleischmann with 2 goals and 1 assist, DD a goal and 2 assists, and Weise 1 assist).

Canadiens outshot Winnipeg 26-19.

The team has now recorded 50 goals in 13 games, an average of 3.84 goals a game. Some serious fire wagon hockey going on with this league-leading team.

Next up – The dastardly Ottawa Senators pay a visit to the Bell on Tuesday.


Lyla’s One!

Lyla's 1st

Today Lyla’s a year old, and we couldn’t be prouder.

At this point, along with taking a few steps, she can say “hi, bye, up, cheese, and mama” and I might have also heard “Nice heads-up play by Markov” but I’m not 100% sure about that one.

Happy birthday, sweet baby girl.

Rebounding In Fine Fashion

A white dry erase board with shiny metal frame and the words To Do List - Win on it

Much better when the boys win. And on this Halloween Eve, a 6-2 trouncing of the Flames in Calgary makes things right again.

A character win after a couple of embarrassing losses.

A big night for Dale Weise, who netted three in his team’s 6-2 win in Calgary. A fine night for backup goalie Mike Condon, winning his third in three starts this season. And an emotional night for ex-Flame Paul Byron, who inflicted serious damage on the team who said they didn’t love him anymore.

A Habs team back on track, going home without losing that lovin’ feeling. Taking it to the Flames, with a big win to close out October. Ten wins and two losses. Losses we don’t want to talk about.

I’m feeling so good about this rebound win, I can’t decide if my heart soars more like a flock of Fan-Tailed Berrypeckers, or a single Crested Shrike-Tit.

Fifteen minutes in, Weise struck first, with a long shot that Flames goalie Joni Ortiz, who showed absolutely no resemblance to Mike Vernon or Miikka Kiprusoff, let go through his legs.

Joni Ortiz. There’s always Google.

An early lead, but we know how leads can sometimes work out.

In the second frame, the Flames tied it just 27 seconds in, but a couple of minutes later, while on the power play, Nathan Beaulieu’s blast put his team in front once again.

Love those power play goals, and little by little, the team is gaining in power play respectability, sitting tenth or so overall. Much better than 20th or 25th or whatever it was not so long ago.

After the Flames had once again evened things up, the Weise and Byron Show cranked it up.

First with Weise firing a fine wrist shot past Ortiz. Then Bryon, in his second game replacing healthy scratch Alex Semin, sending the puck across in beautiful fashion to set up Devante Smith-Pelly for S-P’s first goal of the season.

And in the third period, Byron breaking free while shorthanded to make it 5-2 before Weise notched his third after some stylish play from linemate Tomas Fleischmann, who’s proving to be a key guy.

A solid 6-2 thumping of the Calgary Flames, although this is a team with just two wins so far this season. Which means if the Habs lost on this night, things would’ve sucked after an already suckified Western Canada jamboree.

But they didn’t suck, they looked just fine, and they remain best of all 30 teams. Already I’ve forgotten about Vancouver and Edmonton.

Random Notes:

Flames outshot Montreal 32-31.

Next up – Sunday, when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre.



Collapse In Edmonton


This was going to be the night they’d get back on track. It was the plan, and it was a fine plan.

They’d stunk up the joint in Vancouver on Tuesday when they got mugged 5-1, and although they beat the Leafs just prior to this Western Canada jaunt, they were outshot 52-27 in the process. Enough was enough, we said.

In Edmonton they were going to redeem themselves. Be that team the hockey world was talking about after winning nine straight out of the gate.

And indeed, they jumped out to a 3-0  first period lead against the Oilers in Edmonton, and things were good. It was gonna be a big night. A great night. Edmonton fans would see what all the fuss was about. It might even be a slaughter!

Then it all came tumbling down, like Kim Kardashian’s boobs when she’s in her 60s.

In the second period, Alexei Emelin would play handball with a bouncing puck behind Carey Price, and video replay showed the puck clearing the line by an inch or so.

A game of inches. And it happened with a mere 52 seconds left in the frame, and which gave the Oilers the life they needed.

In the third frame, a screened long shot that beat Price made it 3-2, and I’m betting that every single Habs fan on the planet who was watching or listening felt that familiar and quite sickening feeling of the jig being possibly up.

And the jig was up soon after when young stud Connor McDavid shoved the puck past Andrei Markov at the blueline and sent Benoit Pouliot in alone, and suddenly, in horrifying fashion, the game was tied and the boys were in a heap of trouble.

Yes, Benoit Pouilot. A bum when he was a Hab, and one of the league’s dirtiest players. Doesn’t fight and isn’t tough, but prefers to shove his stick in guts and faces. And it had to be him.

The final blow? With just 1:02 left in the third period, David Desharnais was stripped of the puck behind Price, the little black biscuit was sent out to rookie Leon Draisaitl, and that was that.

Oilers with four unanswered goals.

As we used to say when we were kids when a game ended, “game deodorant”, and although it was always a fairly stupid thing to say, the game smelled so it’s fitting.

Random Notes:

Habs scorers – Brendan Gallagher deflecting a PK wrist shot from the point on the power play; Torrey Mitchell after nice work by Devante Smith-Pelly; and Alex Galchenyuk converting a beautiful pass across the crease from Andrei Markov.

Oilers outshot the Habs 27-21, the fifth straight game in which Montreal has been outshot.

Canadiens power play was 1/2.

Carey Price has allowed 12 goals in his last three games, after previously being on a run that saw him average just one a game.

Next up – Friday night in Cowtown. This is the game where they’re going to redeem themselves. This is going to be the night. Enough is enough etc.



My Russian Poster, Signed By…..


I’ve been to several games in St. Petersburg over the years, before the KHL was born, and when the best Russian hockey was played in the Superleague (at that time called the International Hockey League).

One of the games I was at featured St. Petersburg SKA vs. the powerhouse Moscow Red Army squad, coached by legendary taskmaster Viktor Tikhonov.

This large 2’x3′ poster was on the wall of the Yubyleny Sports Palace, where the game was played, and one of the employees said I could have it after I asked politely.

It reads, among other things:

Season Opener
Friday September 9 St. Petersburg SKA – Kasan Etel
Sunday September 11 SKA – Moscow Red Army

That Sunday afternoon I got the poster signed by not only Tikhonov but also by 1972 Summit Series stars Boris Mikhailov (who was coaching SKA), and Viktor Kuzkin, who captained the ’72 squad and was sitting right behind me in the stands.

It’s also signed by Alexander Kharlamov, son of the iconic Valeri Kharlamov. Alexander was playing for Red Army at the time and wore number 17 like his dad once did.


Below, Victor Tikhonov signing away. That’s me in the striped shirt, with my back to the camera. (Taken by Lucy’s son Denis).


Boys Bombed In Game 10


They were never in it but the Canucks were, and the streak ends at nine as the Canadiens are bombed 5-1 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

Carey Price allowed five goals in this one-sided fiasco after giving up a total of just nine in his seven other starts. And for the first time this season, the gang allowed a first period goal. Three in fact.

Now they have to start a new streak, beginning Thursday in Edmonton.

I knew I shouldn’t have had the team up to Powell River yesterday for beer, karaoke, and magic mushrooms.

Random Notes:

The Canucks outshot Montreal 28-26.

Habs power play – 0/2

Torrey Mitchell scored the long Habs goal.

Brandon Prust recorded two assists for his new team, and then did what appeared to be serious damage to his foot or ankle while crashing into the boards. Hopefully this fine ex-Hab is okay.

It’s late. Ten o’clock here on the coast. Past my bedtime. Back east, where it’s 1 or 2 am (2:30 in Newfoundland), many are sawing logs and oblivious to this slaughter. Lucky bastards.

A Mighty Fine Nine

Rocket's sweater

Yes, Leafs fan, I’ll give you this. Your team spent much of the second period in Montreal’s zone, played well, outshot the Habs 23-11, and for awhile made things dicey.

Heck, your team had lots of gas for most of the game, and peppered an incredible 52 shots at Carey Price.

But you can thank your captain, Dion Phaneuf, for being a baby after getting hit hard by Dale Weise late in this second frame and getting sent to the box, which must  have been a kick in the gut to Dion’s teammates.

Phaneuf, to our amusement, took a crosschecking penalty on Weise because he couldn’t handle being hit hard, and the Canadiens, who were in tough at the time, scored with 14 seconds left to make it a 5-2 game at that point, and the dagger was thrust.

So blame some of the loss on your captain. If you can’t take a heavy hit, you shouldn’t be in the game.

Canadiens win their ninth straight, with Vancouver on Tuesday to tie the league record, with the boys not allowing a single goal in any first period along the way.

Random Notes:

My friend Mel St. St. Onge in Orillia wants to start a movement to have hockey host George Stroumboulopoulos sent packing and Ron Maclean brought back. I think it’s a great idea. C’mon Rogers, toss this guy.

Shots on goal when all was said and done – Leafs 52, Habs 27.

Canadiens went 2/4 on the power play.

P.K. Subban, especially in the first period, fired several cannons at Jonathan Bernier, with one going in while the Habs were enjoying the man advantage.

Lars Eller, David Desharnais, Max, and Gally tallied in the second, while in the third, after Morgan Rielly had made it 5-3, the Canadiens held the fort and skated away with their win.

Alexander Semin showed tonight why previous coaches and managers just weren’t thrilled with him. He floated, looked uninterested, and provided a blatant turnover which led to James Van Riemsdyk narrowing the gap to 3-2 at the time.

But Max would notch a shorthanded marker soon after, and Brendan Gallagher deflected a PK blast on the power play with Phaneuf serving his time, and the gap widened even further.

Have a great night and excellent Sunday. I’m on my way to a birthday party where there’s gonna be live music and a keg of draught in the back yard.


Remembering Jim Roberts

Forum program

I’d just turned 15 and was at the Montreal Forum for a game between the Habs and New York Rangers. My first visit to the shrine a handful of years before it was renovated, after seeing so many games from my living room and on those old Molson films we’d see at banquets or at the Hall of Fame down at the CNE.

I’ve mentioned before about this trip, about how I was a bit drunk when my dad picked me up at the bus station when I came back to Orillia. But the bus was full of older guys, all with bottles, and I had no choice.

When the siren sounded to end this game in Montreal, my friend and I wandered down to rinkside to look at the big CHs at centre ice. This is what I’d wanted to do as much as see the game. Go down to ice level and be close to the logos that I had only seen on grainy television.

We also saw trainers wheel out the players’ equipment bags on carts from the corridor near the dressing room. I can picture this like it was yesterday, and at the time it was very cool. A couple of trainers and a bunch of duffle bags lives on in my memory.

Nearby I spotted Jim Roberts, the all-important defensive forward who sometimes played defence, talking to someone, so I went up and asked him to sign my program, which he did and which you can barely see in the photo of the program above, just below Jean Beliveau and Jim Neilson.

Roberts was extremely nice and chatted with me, asking where I was from and such. He had no idea how much this impressed me. So much so that I decided to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. It would be almost like being on the team for goodness sakes. Inside the Habs inner circle. What a fantastic idea this was.

The next step was writing Red Fisher, and I told him of my plan to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. Red wrote back, (I had this letter for years but don’t anymore), and he said he’d mention this to Roberts the first chance he got.

I never heard back. Maybe Jim Roberts was waiting for me. Maybe he waited all season for his fan club to begin. Maybe Red forgot to tell him. Regardless, soon enough I realized I couldn’t start a Jim Roberts Fan club. I had school and hockey and the British Invasion bands were invading. I didn’t have time for this.

Where was I going to get stuff to send to members? How could I afford stamps? What would I write about, other than the fact that Jim Roberts was a good player and was nice to me when I asked for his autograph?

Jim Roberts passed away on Friday from cancer at age 75. He was a key member of five Stanley Cup teams in Montreal – 1965, ’66, ”73, ’76, and ’77, and a smart and hard worker whose true value came from shutting down big guns on other teams, much like Bob Gainey and Doug Jarvis, two guys who probably learned plenty from playing alongside Jim in the 1970s, would.

He was never a huge star. But his star shone brightly for me, not only for what he did while wearing the CH, but because he was so nice to me when I was young. I’m very much saddened by his passing.





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