“Hey Dennis, whatcha doin?”
“Oh, nothing much. Just reliving my childhood.”
Old mitts. Maybe older than you.
The Canadiens held on and edged the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Caps ice, and displayed a fine rebound game after their pathetic effort Friday against the San Jose Sharks.
Artturi Lehkonen and Jeff Petry scored for Montreal, and Carey Price made his own personal statement.
After the Canadiens’ great start, especially in October when they racked up eight wins and a shootout loss, each win now makes their chances of making the post season even more secure.
It also means that although they have their down moments, like the Sharks game, or that 10-0 thing in Columbus, once the playoffs start you’ll forget completely about the regular season.
You say you won’t but you will.
And if you look at last year, the year of The Nightmare (also known as The Worst Habs Season Ever), you’ll see that the collapse to end all collapses began in December, when they won the first game of the month, then dropped the next four, won again in the middle of the month, then lost another six, and then won just once more before falling in their final game of December.
Three wins in December and three times in January. And the sky did fall.
But I’m now happy to report that the 2016-17 team has won four times already in December, with six games to go, and they remain top of the heap with Pittsburgh and a couple of other pretenders.
So they’ll make the playoffs (yes they will), we’ll forget about anything else, and then they’ll win the Stanley Cup because everyone will be healthy (Andrei Markov left early tonight) and Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec will see their luck change and light several lamps as the CH steamrolls everyone in their path..
Oh, you have your doubts? Well you obviously haven’t been talking to Sprague Cleghorn and Didier Pitre like I have.
The Canadiens slept for 50 minutes, fell behind 4-0, and finally woke up and made a game of it, scoring twice and also waking Bell Centre fans up.
But it was too late. 4-2 Sharks.
It was so bad, Carey Price was yanked after the fourth goal and replaced by Al Montoya. Price looked pissed at the coach as he exited.
This is the problem with the boys living at home during hockey season and not thinking hockey every minute of the day, especially at bedtime. I think they should live in isolated camps like Soviet players did 40 or 50 years ago, with a couple of phone calls home once or twice a week.
Maybe they wouldn’t be so sluggish like they were on this night.
I’ll make sure your wives are comfortable, boys. Don’t worry about that. Just concentrate on the job at hand. You can hang out with your wives for two months every summer.
Brian Flynn and Jeff Petry scored for Montreal, and if you need any other information… shots on goal, the power play, penalties etc, there’s about 100 places on the Internet, including Facebook and Twitter, where you can see all that.
Leaf coach Mike Babcock said the other day that to stay competitive, he needs his team to grab at least 6 points in every 5-game block.
His Leafs, of course, have failed miserably so far in this regard, although I’m way too lazy to actually figure out their numbers.
But let’s see how the Habs have done, using this Babcockian Theory.
1-5 —— 9
6-10 —- 10
11-15 — 8
16-20 — 3
21-25 — 6
26-30 — 6
Not bad, except for the 16 to 20 game stretch, when they got a point in their 4-3 OT loss to Florida, and a 2-1 win against Toronto. But they fell to Chicago, Carolina, and Ottawa during this 5-game block.
I’ll take a nice, tidy 10-1 thumping any time. Too bad it wasn’t against Ottawa, Boston, or Toronto, and so what that the cellar-dwelling Avs were truly lousy on this night. It’s still good. Great even.
It’s also too bad it wasn’t against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who demolished the Canadiens 10-0 back on November 4th.
I wouldn’t have minded 12 or 15 goals, because I’m a greedy bastard. But when you see your team rack up six goals in the first period alone, heady thoughts creep in. Like 12 or 15 goals when all is said and done.
Oh, they’re not suppose to rack up the score? Hey, what’s a dozen or so goals among friends?
It was a fine night at the old (opened in 1996) Bell Centre, with Max Pacioretty scoring four times and adding an assist, Tomas Plekanec racking up four helpers, and a whack of others lighting the lamp or helping to light the lamp.
Just too bad Shea Weber didn’t get on the score sheet. He leads that fellow in Nashville by just 1 point (at this writing), and I’d prefer that our guy had a way better year than that guy. Twice as good, Three times even.
It was just one of those nights. The Canadiens were clicking. Max was flying. Alexander Radulov, with a goal and an assist, was inspiring. The fourth line, led by Brian Flynn was two goals, were demons.
It was time for early Ole Ole’s and a late Na Na Na Goodbye. Time for stress-free watching, some chuckles, some completely relaxed viewing of the boys blitzing the Avs.
But then there was the Alexei Emelin low hit on Joe Colborne late in the game that had commentator Gary Galley seething. Galley said there was no need for it. I say hit ’em for 60 minutes, 10 goals or not.
I think Don Cherry pooh-poohed it too. I’m not sure, I wasn’t really paying attention to the old fellow.
And why won’t Emelin fight when the shit hit the fan, asked Galley? Probably because he has metal plates under his left eye, Gary. The guy’s on the team because he’s a bone bruiser, he hits harder than most. It’s his job. What if Colborne had danced around Emelin and caused a crease-crashing that injured Carey Price?
Nope. Stop ’em in his tracks. Old time hockey. Montreal has seven forwards under 6 feet. A little meanness shown by anyone is a welcomed sight in this corner.
Colborne might have his head up next time he waltzes down the right side. And most players from other teams will see it on the news and possibly be a bit more tentative when they come up against Emelin.
Oh, and maybe it was slightly dirty. I don’t give a shit.
A beauty shellacking on home ice. Fifteen goals scored in two games. What a machine!
Bring on the Bruins (Monday).
Habs scoring went like this:
1st period – Flynn, Pacioretty, Lehkonen, Pacioretty, Byron, Flynn.
2nd period – Radulov, Pacioretty, Petry.
3rd period – Pacioretty
A fine game by the Canadien. Yes it was.
The boys handed the visiting New Jersey Devils a 5-2 spanking at the Bell after firing a season-high 48 shots on the Devils net, and getting goals from Philip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen, Max Pacioretty, and a pair from Torrey Mitchell.
My recently lost enthusiasm hasn’t come back yet, though. But I liked all the shots, and I was enthusiastic about seeing Carey Price pound a sprawling Kyle Palmieri several times on the back with his glove after Palmieri forgot to stop as he neared Price.
I was also enthusiastic about the boys crashing the Devils crease a bunch of times as payback. Price is his teammates’ bread and butter, of course. They have to discourage this Palmieri/Kreider type of behaviour. I’d be pissed if they sat back and did nothing.
But about this lack of enthusiasm. Maybe I’m too old now. Not as old as Kirk Douglas, but old enough to have been second baseman on the Orillia Peewee all-star baseball team before Michel Therrien was born.
And it was during that peewee baseball summer that I smoked my first cigar. I smoked my first cigar before Michel Therrien was born.
C’mon enthusiasm. Get back. Get back to where you once belonged.
The Canadiens were in St. Louis Tuesday night where the boys blew a two-goal lead (Paul Byron and Tomas Plekanec), and lost 3-2 in overtime.
But that’s all I can say about this. I’m waiting for my enthusiasm to return. It’s been gone for several games now.
But I would like you to know that I’ve lost 8 pounds by walking a lot and I now look like a friggin Adonis.
And if that isn’t interesting enough, there’s this: The decision to separate opposing players in the penalty box came after October 30, 1963 when Montreal’s Terry Harper and Toronto’s Bob Pulford fought on the ice and then continued their disagreement in the box after they’d been sitting side by side.
And if ALL THAT isn’t enough, Rocket Richard once said in a questionnaire that the one man he wanted to meet in person was actor John Wayne.
Above, the Joe Louis Arena (the white building) in Detroit, taken a few months ago when I was visiting my old friends Mike and Diana Williamson in the Windsor area.
Yes, the Joe Louis Arena. Where on a Saturday night in late November, Alexander Radulov fed Alex Galchenyuk in overtime, the net bulged, and the Canadiens begin their five-game road trip with a 2-1 win over the Red Wings.
I might as well save the next sentence and just copy and paste it after every Habs win…….. Carey Price saved the day once again.
The Wings opened the scoring in the third period of a slightly dull game, but Brendan Gallagher would soon even things up, and for Habs fans, it wasn’t as dull anymore.
Gally, who hadn’t scored since Oct. 24th when he deflected a Radulov shot on the power play for the game winner against Philadelphia, hopefully now has that great big mother of a piano lifted from his back.
Shea Weber was penalized in overtime for slashing but Price and the boys held the fort. Soon after, Weber came out of the box and rang one off the post. One of the more exciting moments of the night.
Charles Hudon was out, due to a fractured sternum (breastplate). These young guys. Can’t even play with a lousy fractured sternum. Hell, in my day………..
Replacing Hudon was Arturri Lehtonen, who was absolutely robbed by Wings netminder Petr Mrazek with a glove save that you’ll see for the next several weeks or months on TV.
Detroit outshot Montreal 33-24.
Next up – Tuesday in Anaheim, which means a late night for eastern time zone fans.
Captain Max put his team ahead just 14 seconds into the third period, and the Canadiens snag a big 2-1 win over their ungrateful guests, the Carolina Hurricanes.
Not a great game by the Canadiens, they were dominated by the Canes at times, particularly in the second frame when Carolina owned the puck and Montreal managed just 4 feeble shots.
But whatever. Carolina still lost. Ain’t life grand?
The boys were also outshot by the visitors 32-22 overall, and a hearty thanks it is to Carey Price, who shut the door when called upon, even though it is slightly disturbing to see once again that it was him to the rescue.
Maybe we just have to get used it. Maybe our man Price will take us to the promised land.
Thursday night was a night when silent guns suddenly became a bit louder, with Max chosen first star, and his linemates Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher collecting assists on the game winner.
Max even rang one off the post late in the third, so maybe the slump gods have found some peace and love up there.
Even DD got into the act when he (and Charles Hudon) assisted on Andrew Shaw’s goal in the first period that tied it at one apiece after Carolina had opened the scoring.
Spread the wealth, boys. It’s as basic a game plan as there is.
It reminds me of when I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bantam Bulldozers and………
The team now meets the Red Wings in Detroit on Saturday night, and then it’s off to California for a Tuesday lace-up in Anaheim, then Friday in San Jose and Sunday in Los Angeles before ending the journey in St. Louis the following Tuesday.
Long road trips can be good and bad. Just stay away from Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip, boys. And don’t worry about your wives. I’ll see to it that they’re in good hands.
Bonus Random Note:
I mentioned the other day that on November 22, 1968 my buddy and I sailed to England on an ocean liner, and here’s the ship’s weather log for each day of the journey.
They couldn’t hold a couple of leads, and the Canadiens are now 1 win and 4 losses in their last five after falling to the visiting Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Tuesday night.
I listened to the game on the radio. The Sportsnet channels were showing the Boston-St. Louis game, and RDS was covering the big Impact-TFC soccer game at the Big O.
I like radio games. And even though our little baby girl was shrieking good naturedly throughout, I could still follow the game and was also able to see video afterward of the great goal scored by Alexander Radulov when he undressed Mike Hoffman and beat Craig Anderson.
It’s amazing how patient I am with a noisy little two-year old rugrat carrying on in the background. Much more patient than when I was raising my natural kids all those years ago..
I guess it comes with age. And maybe the drugs and corn liquor.
And for those who don’t know me, how old do you think I am?
Shea Weber opened the scoring in the second period with a patented blast on the power play, and after Ottawa replied to tie it, it was Radulov channeling his inner Guy Lafleur.
Ottawa would soon even it up again, and in the third, Alex Galchenyuk on the PP sent the boys in the lead one more time before Grimace Stone and that Karlsson fellow beat our man Price and that was that.
Four goals for the Senators on 16 shots. That doesn’t sound like Carey Price, does it?
It’s time to redeem themselves on Thursday when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Montreal. If you’ll recall, it was those bastard Canes just last Friday who scored three times in the third period to beat Al Montoya and the rest.
Canadiens outshot the Sens 39-23 and were 2/8 on the PP.
Andrei Markov collected three assists.
Wouldn’t it be nice if others contributed the way Byron, Galchenyuk, Radulov, Weber, and Markov do?
Today, November 22nd, is quite a date. The NHL formed on Nov. 22, 1917, JFK was assassinated on this day in 1963, the Beatles White Album was released at this time in 1968, and on this same day, Nov. 22, 1968, me and my buddy sailed on an ocean liner to England where we spent much of the winter and at one point knocked on the door of the Beatles’ Apple offices on Savile Row and when a secretary answered, I asked if the boys were in. She said no.
We did a lot of great shit in England, including sleeping in a Salvation Army flophouse, standing in a phone booth all night in Coventry in the freezing cold, and seeing John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers (with Mick Taylor), at a small yet historic club called Klooks Kleek.
Mick Taylor would join the Rolling Stones several months later.
Hope you have a great sleep. You deserve it.
At least I was in one. I’m anti-slump. So winning, and against those Leafs, is basically a win-win situation. Does that sound right?
The good news – Alexander Radulov is back from sick bay and along with collecting two assists, banged and set up plays and skated miles and was all-round terrific.
The bad news – Toronto’s Nazem Kadri didn’t lose any teeth or get his nose plastered over his face. Not even one stick to the gonads. Really bad.
Red-hot Paul Byron scored his seventh of the season to open the scoring in the first period, while in the second, Alex Galchenyuk, also with his seventh, bulged the twine on the power play in what ultimately became the winner.
Shea Weber also racked up assists on both goals, and was much more of a force than he was on Friday in Carolina, when he looked fairly ordinary. But even then, not once did I pine for PK Subban.
As it stands now, Galchenyuk leads the team with 19 points in 19 games, while Radulov has 16 pts in 17 games, and Weber follows with 15 in 19 games.
New guys like Radulov and Weber are getting it done, but team vets like Max and Pleks and DD and Gallagher need to step it up. Although Gally continues to play his game and the points just aren’t happening for him right now. So he gets a pass. The other three don’t.
The Leafs played a decent game, swarmed Montreal’s net far too often, and ended up outshooting the good guys 32-29.
But Carey Price was in nets, so swarming was the best they could do.
The boys now wait until Tuesday when the Ottawa Senators come a calling, and of course it’s a must win for the Habs. Another win gets the wheels rolling. A loss and we can say the gang sits at one win and four losses, which would be a bummer.
As for you folk, I hope the rest of your Saturday and all of Sunday is full of merriment. Just don’t get busted.