The Philadelphia Flyers Got It Done. Montreal Didn’t.

I’m at work this evening, and I watched the scores come in from the computer, so I know without going home to see the recording, what happened. It’s a very disappointing time. Montreal couldn’t get it done. But they’re a young team with lots of positives, and next year will be better.

Philadelphia deserved this series. How could they not? They took out the Habs in a measly five games. Their goalie was better than our goalie. RJ Umberger was better than Alex Kovalev.

How could Montreal allow three goals in three minutes when they were up 3-1? I dunno. I didn’t see it. And I’m not going to watch it when I get home because I don’t feel like it.

To all the die-hard Flyers fans that have been reading my blog, I say good for you and your team, and I hope you’ll read my stuff from time to time as I’ll be posting every day year round. You guys had some great comments and feedback, and you definitely added a lot of colour to this. All’s fair in love and war.

And to the great Habs fans who have been faithful readers as we took this gigantic roller coaster ride, I know you’ll continue to check in. There’s lots to talk about. We gotta figure out together how to make our team better.

So back to work for a few more hours, then the long drive home. I’m not feeling on top of the world right now, that’s for sure.

Hoping to hear what went wrong. Please let me know.

Kate Smith Was One Of The Better Players On The Flyers

 This is Kate Smith. Born 1907 in Virginia, died 79 years later in 1986.

Kate used to sing God Bless America at Philadelphia Flyers games in the 1970’s. Sometimes she was on tape, and from time to time, she actually showed up live and in the flesh. The Flyers won two Stanley Cups with her singing, and they thought she was their good luck charm.

Kate was one of their best players. At least more civilized than Dave Schultz and his fellow goons who took thuggery to a new level, something which the much more talented players around the league were not accustomed to. It’s pretty hard to show your skills when you’re looking at a sucker punch when you least expect it.

And she was much better looking than the Sign Guy with his frizzy hair who held up silly signs for every occasion during Flyers home games.

This gangsterism lasted a mere two years. The Flyers tried it in the 1975/76 series against the Habs and learned quickly that muscle and skill is much better than just muscle. Schultz and the boys were no match for Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, and of course Lafleur, Lemaire, Shutt, Dryden et al. Montreal took over, and this ridiculous reign of terror came quickly to an end.

And the Flyers have done very little ever since.

So it wasn’t Kate Smith. It was simply that Montreal showed the Flyers how real hockey was played.

 

Rodney Helps Me Out In Dealing With Those Flyers Fans

Man, those Flyers fans are a tough crowd. They’re letting me have it in the comments section. So I’ve done what I had to do. I’ve prayed to the man above to help, to give me guidance, to make me strong against these folk in Pennsylvania who are rubbing their hands in glee at this very moment at the thought of their team taking out my team.

Dear Rodney, please help.

“Don’t worry, Dennis. They come from a bad neighbourhood. I put my hand in some cement there and felt another hand.”

Flyers fans drink too much. When they give a urine sample, there’s olives in it.

Flyers fans take viagra and prune juice. They don’t know whether they’re coming or going.

They asked Flyers fans to be poster boys – for birth control.

Martin Biron’s mother had morning sickness after he was born.

The Flyers complained to their psychiatrist that everyone hates them. He said they were being ridiculous – everyone hasn’t met them yet.

When Daniel Briere was a kid his parents moved a lot. But he always found them.

When Derian Hatcher was born, the doctor slapped his mother.

STOP THAT, RODNEY.

Sorry, Flyers fans.

In all seriousness, what I’ve garnered from the comments this past week from Flyers fans is this:

They don’t feel their team is getting enough respect. They’re complaining that when I write about Montreal losing, it’s not because the Flyers played well, it’s because the Habs played poorly.

And they don’t think I’m giving enough credit to Martin Biron.

So I’ve been thinking about this. And really, the big reason Philly is doing so well is because of Martin Biron. It’s not because the Flyers are on fire. Daniel Biron’s been good but not great, and also RJ Umberger. But Mike Richards hasn’t, or most of the Flyers forwards, for that matter. And whatever John Stevens did to make his defence so tight around their net, it’s really working.

The reason I say Montreal is not playing up to their standards is because they’re not. They won the eastern division, they scored more goals during the regular season than any other team in the league. And their power play was the best in the league. They played fire wagon hockey all year, they were dynamic, fast, and were a handful for others teams on most nights.

But not now.

During these playoffs, their power play has fizzled and their scoring in general is way off, and that includes the Boston series also. The guys who lit it up during the season, the Kostitsyn’s, Higgins, Kovalev, Plekanec, are quiet now.

So Montreal isn’t playing up to scratch, and Philadelphia is riding with a red-hot goaltender. (And don’t forget, Flyers fans, there’s been a lot of goal posts hit.)

I don’t know why these fans have a problem with this thinking.

And one last little thing. After Philadelphia scored late a couple of games ago, Flyers defenceman Kimmo Timonen turned around and laughed in Tom Kostopoulos’ face. This is the kind of thing that turns off most hockey fans. It lacked class, you don’t see this type of mocking often, and when Kostopoulos smacked him in the mouth for this, I’m sure hockey fans, even Habs haters, nodded their heads approvingly.

 

Sounds Like A Country Song: The Dog Got Run Over By A Pickup Truck, I Gotta Pay Money To The Man, And The Philadelphia Flyers Beat The Habs

It hasn’t been a great day. The dog at work got hit by a truck and had to be put down. When I got home there was a big and unexpected bill in the mail.

And then the Habs started playing. 

Most teams, at one time or another, go through general scoring slumps. It’s not uncommon, and eventually they work their way out of it. But it often takes time.

Montreal’s scoring slump has happened, inexplicably, in the playoffs, and there’s no time to work it out. It has to be now. Not next week. They’ve dug a deep hole, and there’s been only periodic flashes of fire and getting their noses dirty during this second round against the Flyers.

They’re off their game, that’s for sure, even though they’re outshooting the bad guys.

Oh, there was excitement when the Habs stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to tie it, but Steve Begin, with only a few minutes left in the game, took a charging penalty, and Daniel Briere of all people scored shortly after. It ended 4-2, and now the Habs need the next three games.

It’s not the first time over the past few years that Steve Begin has taken an untimely and costly penalty.

This is a bad day.

And if John in Philadelphia wants to continue his immature cracks about Canada and the Habs, could he at least spell the team’s name right. It’s the Montreal Canadiens, John, not the Montreal Canadians. Thank you.

Game note:

Next game is Saturday at the Bell Centre. Will Carey Price play? Or will Jaroslav Halak be back for a second night?

 

  

 

No One Said It Would Be Easy. But The Montreal Canadiens Will Come Out Flying On Wednesday Night.

If the Montreal Canadiens can finally solve Martin Biron, they’ll win this series. If they can’t, they’ll be done, and I’ll have to go to plan B for this blog, which, by the way, will be unbelievably interesting so none of you would have to leave me because you’d miss too much good stuff if you did.

But Blog Plan B won’t be coming anytime soon, because Montreal will win this series. Carey Price will rebound, and this year’s playoffs will make an incredibly interesting chapter in the book that will some day be written about young Mr. Price. He’s cool as a cucumber, he’ll be back, and that’s bad news for the Flyers and their fans.

Montreal needs all hands on deck. That means Mike Komisarek, Guillaume Latendresse, Mark Streit, the Kostitsyn’s, Chris Higgins, Roman Hamrlik, me, Mike, der Habinator, Rick the Trucker, Brian, Robert, Danny, the hockey gods, and the amazing bandwagon punkette, Danielleia.

And I have complete faith that Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu will take the bull by the horns and lead this team to the promised land.

Montreal just needs to continue what they’re doing, which is outshoot the Flyers, storm the net, and make some of the lunkheads on the Flyers like Derian Hatcher and Steve Downey continue to take unnecessary and poorly-timed penalties which will seal their team’s doom once the Habs power play is back on track completely.

Mike Richards, who was a class act with Canada in the World Juniors a couple of years ago, still needs maturing, and Montreal can get him off his game without much problem. He gets upset too easily, will take bad penalties because he’s upset, and we need to take advantage of his habit of losing it.

And maybe Mike Komisarek could punch him in the mouth from time to time for good measure.

And about blog plan B, coming this summer. Of course it’ll stay Habs talk, but because no games will be on, it’ll be more pictures, more old stories, and maybe even a photo tour of Powell River, a place you’d all like to live whether you know it or not.

Until then, though, it’s get rid of the greasy Flyers, roll over the Penguins or Rangers, and take on, with huge confidence, whoever comes out of the west.

But first things first, and that means Wednesday night. Come on, boys, have a couple of good practices, eat your broccoli, go to bed early, focus, meditate, and concentrate on shooting pucks under, over, and through Mr. Biron.

Habs Universe, and Danielleia, are behind you.

 

 

Philadelphia Steals Game Three. Carey Price Struggles And Provides Serious Drama For Game Four

 GAME 3

Kate Smith singing God Bless America didn’t win the game for the Philadelphia Flyers. She hasn’t since 1975. No one on the Flyers won the game for the Flyers.

Montreal won the game for the Flyers.

The Habs were ineffective during an early-game two man advantage. They held a big edge in play in the first period. They hit three posts. Carey Price, looking shaky, was replaced by Jaroslav Halak in the third, and the team responded by outshooting Philly 16-2. But it wasn’t enough, losing in the end 3-2, and the team is now down two games to one. They need game four so badly, there’d better be focus, concentration, commitment, no late-night dinners, no over-doing the beer or wine, and a good, reasonable curfew these next two nights.

They couldn’t score. Mind you, they got two on the power play when slow-poke Derian Hatcher took a five minute major in the third. And they stormed the Flyers net for most of the third. But they had gotten behind early in the game, and it was too much to come back when Biron is playing like he is.

And most disturbing of all, Carey Price, for far too many games now, has been only pretty good at best. Not great. Not Ken Dryden, or Terry Sawchuk, or Roger Crozier, or Jacques Plante. He’s just been Carey Price, which, in this playoff year, has not been outstanding. It’s a concern because we need Price to be the second coming of Plante and Dryden, and no one less.

So the question is. Can Carey Price make his name this year in the Stanley Cup playoffs, or are these chapters yet to written?

Game four is Wednesday night, and will the questions be answered. Is the power play back? Will the Kostitsyn’s play better. Where is Mike Komisarek? Will Martin Biron look human? And will Carey Price rebound and deliver?

Game note:

Kudos to Robert over at Eyes on The Prize. Robert has a fantastic Habs site which he continues to tweak, and the photo of him sitting at the Habs press conference table is brilliant. (You can click on Eyes on the Prize over in my blogroll).

 

 

Fascinating Facts Are Back! Will Your Heart Handle It?

Fascinating Fact #1  I saw Bobby Orr twice in my home town of Orillia. Once, when I was sitting in the park down by the lake, he and his wife strolled by. He had a hockey school with Mike Walton in Orillia at this time.  The other was out at one of the local beverage rooms, and he and a bunch of people I knew a lttle, sat near us. There’s a strong chance my table drank more beer than their table.

Fascinating Fact #2  Gary Lupul, a great ex-Canuck and a good friend of mine who passed away last year, introduced me once to goaltender Richard Brodeur. Gary told Brodeur I was a Habs fan, and Brodeur said “Oh, I don’t want to talk to you.”

Fascinating Fact #3  I was once introduced to the Hanson Brothers’ manager. I held out my hand and he asked “Do you wash your hands when you take a crap?” I said of course, and it was only then that he shook my hand.

Fascinating Fact #4  A kid I played minor hockey with for four or five years, John French, ended up getting drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and played a couple of years with the club’s farm team, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. But it was the early 1970’s and to crack the Habs line up, you pretty well had to be a Guy Lafleur, so French decided to sign with the New England Whalers of the newly-formed World Hockey Association instead. He played with Gordie Howe and another good Orillia boy, his old friend Rick Ley, who had played for the Leafs before jumping to the WHA.

Fascinating Fact #5  Rick Ley lived around the corner from me growing up. We sometimes skated on the big outdoor rink near us, before school. Ley also pitched a ball to me one summer which the batter fouled off into my mouth and knocked my front tooth out. 

Fascinating Fact #6  The best seat I ever had at a game was in the first row at the Montreal Forum, behind the net, just to the right of the goal judge. This was in the late 1970’s.

The worst seat I ever had was at Edmonton’s Northland Coliseum for a game between the Habs and Oilers, and we were in the very first row behind the Oilers bench. John Muckler and his two assistant coaches stood right in front of us, so the only time we could see was when the play was down at one end. 

Most games I’ve gone to, however, were usually way, way up. 

Fascinating Fact #7  Canada’s greatest pool player, Cliff Thorburn, is a long-time Habs fan.

Fascinating Fact #8  Gary Lupul told me once that the guy he made sure he didn’t piss off on the ice because the guy was simply too big and scary,  was Clark Gillies of the Islanders.

 

 

A 1930’s Love Story. Plus, The Flyers Even The Series, And Montreal Will Now Win In Five Games Instead Of Four.

GAME 2

Sometime in 1933, when times were hard and prohibition was in full swing, Foster Hewitt and Francis the Talking Mule, while on a secret rendezvous in Newfoundland, and in a fit of flaming passion, conceived a love child, a bouncing baby boy.

They named him Bob…… Bob Cole.

Anyway.

Game two served notice that this is going to be a chippy series. Philadelphia may have won the game 4-2 and evened the series, but this thing’s bound to get ugly before Montreal eliminates the bad guys. Fred Shero’s shadow remains cast over the Flyers even in this day and age.

Montreal had their chances, to be sure. They could have won this game by three or four goals. Christopher Higgins hit the post late in the game. Almost everyone came close at one time or another. But Flyers goaltender Martin Biron was good, Carey Price not quite so good, and Mike Richards and Derian Hatcher are a couple of pricks.

That’s my summary.

Don Cherry said afterwards that Montreal played dopey in both games. What am I missing? I keep hearing how lousy they’re playing, but they outshot the Flyers, had breakaways, hit posts, created tons of chances, more scoring chances than Philadelphia, and although they lost, I didn’t think they looked that bad. Not bad at all.

But why do I keep thinking I must be watching a different game than everybody else? All I’ve heard, from Foster Hewitt’s love child, to Cherry, to Greg Millen, to newspaper writers and TV people, is how poorly the Habs are playing. 

I don’t see it. Of course they can play better, but they’re not flat like they were in the Boston series. Far from it. Montreal’s playing well enough to win this series, that’s for sure.

And global warming’s going to get a lot warmer when all these media Hab-haters’ asses are burning.  

Game note:

For those of you who aren’t sure who Bob Cole is, he’s the CBC play-by-play guy, and the illegitimate son of Francis the talking mule. 

 

There’s Still A Chance I Can Become A Montreal Canadien

I’ve had enough of this. The world is passing me by. I’m missing my chance. So I’m doing what needs to be done.

This is the letter I mailed off this morning. (seriously)

To:

Club de Hockey Canadien

Centre Bell

1260 De La Gauchetiere Ouest

Montreal, Quebec

H3B 5E8

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

This letter is regarding the two young kids at the beginning of the game who are dressed in Habs uniforms, carry flags, and skate around the Bell Centre ice.

I would like to apply for this position.

I’m only assuming that there is no age limit for this task, but they look quite young and I am 57 years old. But I assure you I would carry out these pre-game activities to the best of my ability, in a serious and professional manner.

I realize that you probably have all your young kids already scheduled for this season, but this is fine for me. Next year works well also.

Even though I live in a semi-isolated place on Canada’s west coast, I can be in Montreal on short notice. I’m even available for a couple of games if one of the kids phones in sick.

The Montreal Canadiens have always treated their fans in a first-class manner, even though I wrote, as I’m doing now, but was denied the chance to be stick boy for one game in the early 1960’s. (Although Sam Pollock did send me a nice note saying why).

Thank you very much for your consideration. They say dreams do come true. Now’s your chance to make it happen for me before I join the Rocket and Boom Boom in heaven in another twenty-five years or so.

Sincerely,

Dennis Kane.

 

Resume:

Been a loyal, unwavering Habs fan for more than 50 years.

Am a good skater and was a smallish yet shifty right-winger for Orillia’s Byer’s Bulldozers Bantam team.

Will buy my own uniform if you don’t want to do that.

My wife would be proud. And you have no idea how proud I’d be.

You Want Drama In Your Life? Just Follow The Habs, You’ll Get Lots. Montreal Wins Game One In Overtime.

 

 GAME ONE

 

 

PRE-GAME OBSERVATIONS:

Here’s what I know about the city of Philadephia:

City Hall in Philadelphia, if it’s still in the same place as it was in 1969, has stairs up to the top where you can look out over the street and smoke a joint. That’s what Mike and I did on our way to the Atlantic City Pop Festival way back then. 

WC Fields’ proposed epitaph was “All thing’s considered, I’d rather be living in Philadelphia.” Sounds a lot like Daniel Briere. Except Fields was talking about dying.

Philadephia is the home of legendary hockey players – Dave Schult, Don Saleski, Bob Kelly, Moose Dupont, Steve Downie, and the guy who broke ankles better than anybody in the game, Bobby Clarke.

“Rocky” was filmed in Philadelphia. The movie included quite a few shots of the some of the nicer parts of the city. A meat slaughterhouse, guys out on the street, freezing, and standing around fires burning in tin cans, singing a capello, Rocky’s (Sylvester Stallone) lovely bungalow and neighbourhood, and a sweaty old gym.

Philadephia is the home of the Philadephia Phillies mascot, the Philly Phanatic. You’ve probably seen him. You know, the creature with the ridiculously long nose, extended neck, and gangly, weird body. 

And there’s absolutely no truth to the rumour that the Phanatic was actually Don Saleski in the off-season. The Phanatic was apparently quite upset about these allegations. “There’s no way I look as silly as Don Saleski,” stated the creature. 

POST-GAME OBSERVATIONS:

Two games were played tonight. The one Bob Cole saw, which was Philadelphia all over Montreal most of the game. And the one the rest of us saw, which was a couple of posts hit by Montreal, a penalty shot, a shorthanded goal by Kovalev, a couple of comebacks, overtime, a dramatic goal by ultimate warrior Tom Kostopoulos, and a pretty tip-in by Patrice Brisebois, which was, unfortunately, into his own net.

It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t what Bob Cole saw either. It was a lip-smacking 4-3 overtime win for the Canadiens. A late comeback, and then the Kostopoulos goal 48 seconds into the extra period.

Yes, that Tom Kostopoulos, the one fans pooh-poohed when he came over from Los Angeles. Everybody wanted a star like Vincent Lecavalier or Daniel Briere, but had to settle for a plumber these fans labelled Krustyopolos, and everyone wanted to lynch Bob Gainey for this lacklustre signing.

And then some guy on some French TV show used profanity when describing Kostopoulos, and said a French player should be playing, not Kostopoulos. Thankfully, the guy was later fired for his rude and tasteless comments.

Tom Kostopoulos is as important as any player on the Montreal Canadiens. Every great team has had players like him in defining roles. 

Game one’s in the books. That’s five wins down, eleven to go

 Game notes:

About those two kids dressed in their Habs uniforms, holding flags and skating around the Bell Centre at the beginning.  HOW THE HELL DID THEY GET THIS GIG?

I need to do this. Can an old guy do this too? If Club de Hockey Canadien needs to be paid, I’ll sell the house. Please call. I can be there in twelve hours.

 

 

 

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