Beauty At The Bell

Have you forgotten completely about the regular season yet?

What a night at the Bell Centre as the hometown heroes edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in game one, with bangs and bruises and rapid fire goals the order of the day.

A hard-fought win by the good guys in an emotional and mostly bitter contest that has me chomping at the bit for game two on Friday. My back is sore from sitting on the edvge of the couch. And I can yell loudly now and not scare the cat because, and I say this with a heavy heart, she died recently.

Props to the Canadiens fourth line – Torrey Mitchell with a goal, Brandon Prust an assist, and Brian Flynn with two assists and a big goal which proved to be the winner.

The trio caused havoc all night, they skated miles and crashed and thumped while doing so, and ain’t life grand when the grinders step up and get it done with our 37-goal scorer on the shelf.

It didn’t begin well, as we saw Andrei Markov shovel the puck into his own net after P.K. misplayed things. It was a downer for sure but it was still early, and over that first frame, both teams hit hard and skated hard, and any good Habs fan knew that the game was far from over.

We also saw Brendan Gallagher blatantly mugged with no penalty called, and Devante Smith-Pelly rattle bones like we knew and hoped. Overall a fine first period, except for the mugging, but nothing like what was to come.

The second period was as wild and wooly as can be, and the goals came quickly. Torrey Mitchell would first tie things on a wraparound, and just 15 seconds later, Tomas Plekanec buried it after coming in from the left side, making it 2-1 Habs and life worth living.

That was good. But then P.K. got kicked out of the game with a 5-minute major and a game for slashing Mark Stone on the wrist, which sent Stone sprawling to the ice like he’d had acid thrown in his face.

Five minutes later, Stone was back. Soon after he left again. Then he was back. And to show how badly hurt he was, he also managed to get into a scuffle at the end of the game.

But no matter. Embellish. Sort of hurt. Maybe hurt. I don’t care, as long as the league does the right thing and not punish P.K.

Stone and his team lost the game, and it makes my heart soar like an Asian Ground Cuckoo bird.

Second period scoring didn’t end with Pleks’ marker either. The Sens would score on the power play to tie things. Then Lars Eller, our playoff weapon, put his team ahead with a delicious shorthanded goal. And shortly after that, Ottawa, still on the same power play, would tie things at 3.

Five goals in 4:43.  And soon after, Brian Flynn would score one of the biggest goals of his career.

No goals in the third frame, although, on a good Habs power play (their only one), Jeff Petry bounced one onto the top of the net and Smith-Pelly hit the post.

The team held on with the goalie pulled, and game one is in the books. With no Max and only half a game from P.K. And four goals on the saintly Andrew Hammond, who might need a hamburger to ease the pain.

Best of all, the team was alive and rugged and played a brand of hardworking, hard-driving hockey we rarely saw in that now-forgotten regular season.

Random Notes:

Carey Price came up with some huge saves, but this was a night when others stepped up for a change.

Watching Flynn, Mitchell, and Smith-Pelly on this night, and along with the always good Jeff Petry, makes me think that Marc Bergevin is an absolute hockey genius.

Shots on goals – Habs 39, Sens 33, with Montreal outshooting the other guys 19-17 in the second period alone.

C’mon Friday.

 

Habs Ready To Rumble

Kicking off the 2015 Habs postseason with this wonderful video montage created by Toronto-based filmmaker Tim Thompson (although you’ve probably already seen it by now).

Thompson creates brilliant pieces for CBC/Hockey Night in Canada, and this Habs example goes directly to the top of the class.

It’s only an hour to game time. Feel the vibes.

Go Habs!

Habs TCM (Taking Care Of Mike)

Got this great email from our friend Mike McKim in Louisiana the other day.

Dennis,

Over the years you have posted about what a class organization the Habs are. Little ol me, a fan in my 50s, have a tale of exactly how classy Canadien de Montreal actually works.

OK, brief background: Last September my wife allowed me to spend $30 to join the Canadiens fan club, Club 1909, in exchange for buying her the ugly Canadiens Christmas sweater.

During the season, special codes were announced thru various means to member of Club1909. Think Orphan Annie secret decoder ring from the movie A Christmas Story. I acquired a few points, and successfully bid on the opportunity to have my name embedded in Carey Price’s crease during the playoff games in Montreal. I was thrilled.

A few days later, we take in Habs game in Nashville. My wife is wearing the Christmas sweater to the game and as we were about to enter, three gentlemen tap us and give us an autographed Tokarski tee-shirt. They’re from the Canadiens office and they run the twitter feeds.

At that time I mentioned I had an account and follow them. They asked my user name and, without so much as looking down, they proceed to tell me who I am and how much they like the posts I make. Imagine my surprise!

It gets better! After the game I decide to enter another contest for a pair of tickets to see the Habs at the ACC. I win. I’m to pick up my tickets, along with the other 18 winners, before the game. The Habs are also tossing in tee-shirts, face paint, and other stuff!

This afternoon I receive an e-mail stating the names in the crease will be a distraction, as per the NHL. The Habs are refunding the bid points, but… my name will now somehow be placed in the net behind Carey (something the Senators will not be able to say) for the playoffs AND it will be embedded in the ice for the ENTIRE 2015-16 season!

This is the Montreal Canadiens I am talking about. The greatest hockey franchise of all-time and only behind the Yankees in Championships. Do you actually think the Yankees would do something like this for their fans?

Some may consider this little kids folly, but this is something the Habs did not have to ever do. They’d have their fans regardless. In Louisiana, lagniappe, creates blood bonds and blind loyalty. This is how championship organization treats everyone, from the smallest of small to biggest of big!

The Montreal Canadiens are champions!

 

Ready, Set, Go Habs

After what happened to the L.A. Kings, I’m worried the Habs won’t make the playoffs next year after winning the Cup a few months from now. We’re just going to have to take it one Cup at a time, I suppose.

I’ve been out of computer commission for most of the week, mainly because I was in Nelson, BC getting beat up by my grandkids, whom I hadn’t seen in two years.

When we first got there, six-year old Cameron was wearing his Habs sweater that I had sent. I call him Rocket.

I did manage to see the Habs edge both the Wings and Leafs as little kids crawled all over me, and we all saw, with our very own eyes, that DD sometimes shoots the puck. Once anyway. In the shootout.

Now it’s time to get down to the business of watching the Habs work on going deep in the postseason. First by ridding themselves of those slugs called Senators.

Erase any nervousness about facing Ottawa in the first round. Any team would be tough, and they’re just one hurdle in the race to the finish line. And because they’re also such despicable creatures, it’s good that we get to see the Habs, and not someone else, humble them.

I say bring on these bums.

We’re the guys who finished 2nd overall in the league. They’re the guys who found themselves on fire late in the season and with one last breath grabbed a playoff spot.

Yes they have a goalie who showed up in February and went on a 20-1-2 run. A definite hot streak, although he and them were probably full of shit quite often during this surprising stretch.

Hot streaks always end, often abruptly. And we have Carey Price, and that one thought alone should strike fear into Sens fans. Andrew Hammond, who had Ottawa fans throwing hamburgers on the ice, is no Carey Price. Although I’m sure there are people who might’ve breathed Parliament session fumes at some point and think that.

Just for fun, Habs fans at game three in Ottawa should throw steaks on the ice after Price and the gang get the job done. If nothing else, just to show the basic difference in the two organizations.

And yes, although Sens brass decided to try and block as many out of town Habs fans as possible from going by checking postal codes when buying tickets, there’ll be thousands of solid, salt of the earth Canadiens fans sitting in the Ottawa barn next Sunday, ready to throw steaks if they so desire.

Game one at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night, and of course we want the opener. Have folks rid themselves of some of this nervousness they feel about the team meeting the Sens. Make Sens fans nervous instead. They’ve been grateful that their team made the playoffs. That should be enough to last them several more years.

The Canadiens are a fine team who sat in or near the penthouse all year. Win the first game and then whittle away at these overachievers from up the road.

Wednesday and Friday in Montreal, then Sunday and next Wednesday in Ottawa. Maybe that’ll end the Sens’  so-called Cinderella year while Price and the boys move on. With no injuries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Train Carrying The Habs Nearly……

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There was a moment in time, just a month after I was born, when, according to a story I’d read somewhere a few years back, we almost lost the Montreal Canadiens after a train carrying the boys almost plunged into an icy river. We’re talking the Rocket and Doug and Butch and Elmer and the whole gang.

The Canadiens had fallen to the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 in Toronto (which was bad enough) on December 20, 1950 , and hours later were heading back to Montreal.

Just 35 miles or so from the city, the train began to cross the Dorion bridge high above the St. Lawrence River, but a cracked wheel bearing caused the baggage car to hop the rails. Quickly the next four cars also left the track, and members of the Canadiens apparently moved to one side of their car to try and keep it from tipping.

Finally, after a few harrowing moments, the train managed to hug the rails and make it across. Barely.

Several passengers were injured although all of the Canadiens players were fine, and everyone was brought back to Montreal by another train and some buses.

But it was as close as can be to losing the entire Montreal Canadiens when their train came within a whisker of hurtling into the cold St. Lawrence below.

Imagine.

 

 

 

 

R.I.P. Dollard

A little late getting to this but I’ve been tied up, and not in that good way.

Winner of four Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, including three during that magnificent late-’50s run by the team, defenceman Dollard St. Laurent has passed away at age 85.

St. Laurent, who wore the CH from 1951-52 until 1957-58 before moving to the Chicago Black Hawks, leaves us just after our Canadiens family said goodbye to Elmer Lach, Claude Ruel, Jean Beliveau, Gilles Tremblay, and Carol Vadnais.

Not a good time as far losing great Habs go. But I’m thinking a Stanley Cup this year in their name will help with the healing.

Below, a picture from an old Hockey Pictorial magazine, showing a fine intersection in Hull, Quebec, back in the late ’50s.

And below that, Dollard on the far right, and to his right Boom Boom Geoffrion, Cardinal Leger, Maurice Richard, Butch Bouchard, and what appears to be John McCormack.

 

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Habs Handle Panthers, But……

There was good, bad, and disturbing in the Canadiens 4-1 win in Sunrise on Sunday, so I’ll just get down to mentioning some before I head to the 7/11 to buy a creme-filled Easter egg.

Carey Price finally nailed down his 42nd win of the season, which ties him with Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden.
Michel Therrien grabbed his 200th win as coach of the CH.
Tomas Plekanec scored his 200th NHL goal, all as a Hab.
Devante Smith-Pelly scored his first goal as a Hab after converting a nice pass from P. A. Parenteau.
Parenteau scored a dandy, going coast to coast, grabbing his own rebound, and firing.
And P.K. Subban, looking like a slick forward, sent a reasonably tough pass across to Brendan Gallagher who buried it in twine.

The bad? Carey Price was run into on about five different occasions, a couple of times having his mask was knocked off, and….this is the part that really gets me…..his teammates did next to nothing to show that this sort of thing is unacceptable. Not even one little punch to a face.

This, with the playoffs just around the corner.

And the truly disturbing? Max Pacioretty, one of the team’s rare gunners, crashed backwards into the boards in the first period after being pushed by Dmitri Kulikov, he  may or may not have a concussion which may or may not be serious, and he was gone for the game.

No payback to Kulikov, who not long ago was handed a four-game suspension for clipping the Dallas Star’s Tyler Seguin. Not one stick jammed down his throat.

We might have lost our top forward, and it wouldn’t surprise me if our Russian guys Markov, Emelin, Galchenyuk, and Gonchar went for borscht with this fellow countryman bastard afterwards.

And the half dozen or so Panthers who ran Price? They walk out of the rink with not one set of stitches or crushed nose. No teeth missing. No swollen balls from a knee to the gonads. No lesson taught about not screwing with the goalie.

A good win that halts the three-game winless streak. But not such a good win with Max possibly being seriously hurt, with Price almost hurt, and the guys on the team letting it all happen with probably only a couple of F-bombs as their big time retaliation.

The nasty injury-causing stuff is beginning, I’ve been predicting this for months, and the reaction of the Canadiens was more than disappointing. Playoff-bound teams will see this and smile and rub their hands, which is the gist of my complaint here.

Next up – Thursday, when the Red Wings visit the Bell.

Fingers crossed about Max.

The power play? One for seven.

And one last thing before I head out to get my creme-filled Easter egg. DD, will you shoot the friggin puck from time to time?

R.I.P. Elmer

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Elmer Lach has died at age 97, and like the old names slowly being removed from the Stanley Cup to make room for new, Elmer’s passing is another chapter closed.

He was a junior star in Saskatchewan, invited to Toronto so the Leafs could see what he was made of, and following a practice that Conn Smythe in particular wasn’t impressed with, Elmer hopped on a train and headed back to Moose Jaw to play senior hockey.

The Leafs weren’t thrilled about Elmer bailing out, and promptly traded his rights to the New York Rangers, who wrote Elmer and told him to bring his skates and make sure they were sharpened.

But Elmer didn’t go, he became a free agent instead, and signed with Montreal, the only team he would play with (from 1940 to 1953), and where he made his mark as part of the legendary Punch Line with the Rocket and Toe Blake.

The Punch Line. Crafty elder statesman Toe Blake. Scoring machine overdosing with desire, Maurice Richard. And hard-working, never give up, aggressive, sometimes dirty, always talented playmaker Elmer Lach, who scored the Stanley Cup winner against Boston in 1953, causing a jubilant Rocket to jump into his arms and break his nose. The hardest check I ever received, said Elmer.

Elmer was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966 and his (and Henri Richard’s) number 16 hangs from the rafters at the Bell Centre. Well deserved honours for this legendary Hab.

So long, Elmer. You’re gonna have a great time meeting up with the old gang again.

 

Another Shootout Loss

For the second straight night, the Canadiens found themselves in a shootout, and for the second straight night, lost the damn shootout.

Into New Jersey they went, and out they came with a 3-2 loss, which also happens to be the team’s 5th defeat in six games.

And it wasn’t because Toker was between the pipes. It was mostly due to once again being tremendously shitty with the man advantage.

The stage was set though, with just over five minutes remaining in the second period, when, and I have a hard time even writing his name – Scott Gomez – the man who was as useless as can be when he wore the CH, a player I have a harder time looking at than PJ Stock, elbowed Alexei Emelin in the face and received a five-minute major and a game.

The Canadiens couldn’t score during this gift-wrapped situation and it hurt to see it. How I wanted a nail hammered into Gomez’s skull. How I wanted him to see a Habs goal on TV as he sat in the room and smiled and spit.

The boys managed just one shot instead, and Gomez got off scot-free.

Gomez was described as a “wily veteran” by announcers for nailing Emelin after the Russian had crashed Gomez into the boards a minute before. But a wily veteran would have been smarter than that by trying to inflict damage without taking a penalty. Something Howe or Messier knew how to do in spades.

Gomez’s elbow was for all to see. So make that “not wily” and add “incredibly stupid”.

There’s just something about this guy. He and Stock. I wish they’d start up a figure skating school in Reykavik and live happily ever after.

With just over 4 minutes left in the third, with the game still knotted at two apiece, the Habs enjoyed a brief 5 on 3 power play and again, couldn’t score, and at that point, visions of losing in the shootout danced in my head.

They went 1 for 6 on the pp on this night, and along with the lacklustre shootout attempts by Galchenyuk and DD and any other things you can find fault with throughout, it’s as disheartening as can be to see a lifeless and uninspired power play that has crawled along for most of 79 games now and made as much noise and damage as the popguns I played with as a kid when I was Davy Crockett in the field next door.

The boys did take a 2-1 lead in the first though, on goals by Plekanec and Petry, but the Devils tied it in the second period, and that was that until the shootout.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot New Jersey 33-18.

I try not to go on about bad calls if I can help it, but it was a horrible interference call on Alex Galchenyuk in the second period, who, as it showed on the replay, did absolutely nothing to warrant the two minutes. Big league officiating at its finest.

Next up – Sunday in Sunrise, with a 5:00 pm et start.

I’ve always been a big supporter of the Easter bunny.

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Habs Fall Short Against Caps

The Canadiens gain just a point in losing 5-4 to the the visiting Washington Capitals after the seesaw battle went to a shootout where our guys shot blanks while one of their guys, Troy Brouwer, didn’t.

A good but not great game by the Canadiens, although they allowed just two shots by the Caps in the first period and had the fine art of throwing a blanket over the opposition down pat.

They looked good in the beginning and showed solid spurts throughout 60 minutes. But stopping big number 8 didn’t happen, which is always the key to handling Washington, and Carey Price allowed 4 goals on his first 16 shots, which isn’t exactly normal.

And although Washington could only manage two shots in that first period, the boys could only dredge up six shots themselves, so it wasn’t exactly a moment in time that they can brag to friends and family about either.

Back and forth the scoring went, beginning in the second period when Jeff Petry kicked things off, but the game soon became tied when the Caps found themselves on a two-on-one after P.K. was out of the play after being held and interfered with. (No penalty of course, because sadly, P.K. has made his bed).

Alex Ovechkin would put his team in the lead with Max in the box for holding, but just 39 seconds later, Tom Gilbert would take a nice pass from Parenteau and even things up.

Nice to see a couple of Habs blueliners, Petry and Gilbert, light the lamp.

Not quite four minutes after Gilbert’s goal, Lars Eller would convert a nice pass from Dale Weise, who had taken a rebounding puck off the backboards, and fed it back in slick fashion.

Eller, it seems, is now getting nice and primed for another big postseason. Hopefully Weise too.

In the third period, a couple of Caps’ power play goals put the Canadiens in a mess of trouble, but P.K. Subban, on a power play, blasted a blueline bomb and sent the game to overtime, which remained scoreless.

In the end, not the greatest shootout display from Les Glorieux, with Galchenyuk, Desharnais, Parenteau, and Max failing miserably, while Brower didn’t.

Now it’s down to four Habs games left in the 2014-15 regular season. A long season. But one that’s shown the Montreal Canadiens way up there, all the way through. Even though they often disappoint us.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Caps 27-19.

Ovechkin, now with 52 goals, is poised to win his third straight Rocket Richard Trophy. Now there’s some hardware that could use a Montreal Canadiens name on it for a change.

Montreal went 1/4 on the power play, which is better than most nights, while Washington was 3/4.

P.K. Subban collected a goal and 2 assists, while Galchenyuk had 2 assists as well.

Next Up – Friday night in New Jersey.

 

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