Tag Archives: Alex Auld

Bell Smell

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Mike Condon has had a lot of great nights lately. Saturday wasn’t one of them.

Against the visiting Colorado Avalanche, Condon allowed four goals on eleven shots during his two periods of work before being yanked for Dustin Tokarski in the third, who himself let in two more in this 6-1 debacle at the Bell.

And to make matters worse, the Canadiens had plenty of chances and fired 40 shots at Swedish goaltender Reto Berra. But when all was said and done, the Swede was sharp and the Montreal backups played like backups.

It just wasn’t Condon’s night, his first true bummer of an outing, and it began early, after both Jeff Petry and Max Pacioretty blew glorious chances, when Mikhail Grigorenko sneaked one through Condon’s legs just 3:26 into the contest.

With 1:22 left in the first, Petry turned the puck over to Nathan Mackinnon, who fired past Condon, and just 13 seconds later, it was MacKinnon once again, with a backhand that Condon probably should’ve stopped because it seemed he wasn’t set properly.

There we go again. Early and late period goals. It just seems so Wednesday-like, when they lost to Pittsburgh after being scored on 13 seconds into the first period and again with just 44 seconds remaining.

Their opening and closing habits might need a few tweaks.

In the second period, Brendan Gallagher chipped in a Tomas Plekanec pass from behind the net, and hope reigned supreme. For a few minutes at least.

A game to be had, until Andrei Markov, on a Habs power play, told P.K. Subban to grab the puck at the blueline, and P.K. told Markov to grab the puck at the blueline, which led to no one grabbing the puck at the blueline.

Except Blake Comeau, who took advantage of the black comedy and sent the puck through the backstopper’s legs after skating in home free.

This embarrassing and momentum-killing shorthanded goal would see a 4-1 game at that point and spell the end of Condon’s night and his incredible run as saviour while Carey Price is on the mend.

The Markov/Subban lack of communication sequence is not something we want Habs haters to take and run with and plaster all over Facebook pages.  Not something we ever want to see again. So let’s never mention it.

At the other end of the rink, Avs goaltender Berra thwarted plenty of splendid home team chances, and good for him I guess. It’ll be something he can tell his grandchildren someday when back in the old country. How, when he was playing overseas in Canada, he stoned the team that seven months later would win the Stanley Cup.

All in all, the Habs should’ve beaten this guy several times. They also shouldn’t have been scored on shorthanded, shouldn’t have had a blueline brain fart, and shouldn’t have had their backup goalie come crashing back to earth after being the talk of the hockey world, and the league’s third star last week.

Condon might have been fine if the boys would’ve cashed in early once or twice. But they didn’t and he wasn’t.

If a backup played like a first stringer all the time, he wouldn’t be a backup. Poor play once in a while is to be expected. Poor play too often means you’re Peter Budaj or Dustin Tokarski or Alex Auld and you don’t have the job anymore.

Now Condon needs to regroup and hang in there just a little bit longer, as Price seems closer to being up and at ’em.

We need a serious regrouping on Monday when the Vancouver Canucks stop by to say hello. And keep in mind, not only is this loss the team’s second straight, but they’ve dropped five of their last nine.

Those nine straight wins were so nice. I miss that.

 

 

 

 

Another Damn Point

A fun and exciting game at the Bell Centre Saturday night, and with the Canadiens falling 3-2 to the New York Islanders in a shootout, they still get that lousy loser point, and we don’t want points. Not if they’re going to lose. Not with some highly-ranked young stud waiting to be plucked from the draft list.

How come they can’t even lose properly?

The Habs now sit 15th in the east, which translates to fourth worst overall, which means with our luck we’ll end up with someone like a Benoit Pouliot-type in the draft. Pouliot went 4th in 2004 draft and as we all know, is a journeyman at best.

But who knows who we’ll get and how well he’ll play? Why am I being so negative?

Fans got their money’s worth on this night, especially when PK Subban wound up. I can’t say enough about this guy and the way he skates and moves the puck. Intensity oozes through every pore, and when he plays like he did tonight, that alone is worth the price of admission. I’m worn out just looking at him, and thanks to him, there’s no way I can finish the crown moulding I started today. I’m just too tired. Thanks PK. I mean it.

Once again the Desharnais, Cole, Pacioretty line played like the Punch Line, although the only point from any of them came from Desharnais in the shootout. But they skated well, and were a big presence in overtime. And Peter Budaj, in nets played really well and even managed an assist on Louis Leblanc’s goal. Budaj has been exceptional in his last two starts and if he keeps this up, he’ll make us all forget Alex Auld. (bada bing bada boom).

Aaron Palushaj scored his first NHL goal and now that that monkey’s off his back, we expect a few more now and again.

That’s four extra innings in a row now for the Habs, in which they’ve won one but got points in all four.

But I don’t really care. As long as we don’t get a Benoit Pouliot-type when all is said and done.

Random Notes:

Islanders outshot Montreal 38-30.

Rene Bourque was booed on occasion tonight. To be blunt, he deserves it. (Although he scored in the shootout).

The Canadiens, if you’re interested, have won 5 of their last 17 games.

Next up, Wednesday in Buffalo. There are nine games left in this season, and then we can settle down and go about the business of fixing this freaking situation. I’m currently looking for a good deal on tar and feathers.

It’s the 57th anniversary of the Richard Riot, and I felt because I’ve written several stories about this in the past, I decided to forgo it this time. You already know all the details anyway.

Canadiens Sock It To Sens

The Canadiens may have gotten multiple points from several players in their big 6-2 win over the home team Ottawa Senators, but it was the difference in goaltending that gave Randy Cunneyworth his first head coach win.

Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson allowed four goals on just seven shots before he was yanked for Alex Auld, which became a nice Montreal cushion after giving up the game’s first goal to Ottawa just 1:42 in, while at the other end, Carey Price came through a dozen times in a big way by stoning the Sens to keep his team in control.

It was a hot goalie versus a cold one, and the hot one was wearing the CH.

And of course it wasn’t just Price who had a big night. So many chipped in, and this is how games get won, by having a bunch of guys get it done and not having to rely on just one or two every night, or only Price. Raphael Diaz assisted on Montreal’s three first period goals. Mathieu Darche had two assists. Mike Cammalleri, playing a stronger game than what we’ve seen lately, had a goal and an assist. Louis Leblanc had a goal and an assist. So did P.K. Subban, Tomas Plekanec, and Erik Cole.

Lars Eller also scored and played well, but unfortunately it wasn’t a multiple-point night for the Dane so I mention him almost last. (just kidding). And Hal Gill had just one assist so he gets mentioned even later than Eller.

It was just so nice to see things spread around like that, with guys earning their keep, helping the team grab two big points, and probably feeling pretty darn good as they shower, dress, and prepare for a Florida jaunt to take on the Lightning on Thursday and Panthers Saturday.

A big win like this has to help in so many ways. Randy Cunneyworth finally gets that giant piano off his back. The boys snap a five-game losing streak. Mike Cammalleri woke from his slumber. Guys all over the place had big nights, and Carey Price was as strong as strong can be.

Random Notes:

Ottawa outshot the Habs 35-28.

On to Florida. Let’s hope the team can make those tanned snowbirds delirously happy.

Alexei Emelin had another handful of big hits, and PK Subban played a lively game, although he gave up the puck a few times, which he does almost every night it seems. But this is PK – wild and wacky.

The Habs have had me so jittery lately that it wasn’t until they made it 6-2 that I felt confident they would win.

 

Finding Positives On A Sinking Ship

They played with determination and spunk, and still managed to lose their sixth straight by falling 2-1 to the Florida Panthers.

In four of the Canadiens six straight losses, they’ve scored just once per game. And they were shut out on opening night in Toronto. These guys fire so many blanks, the Octomom could live with a dozen of them and she’d never get pregnant.

Where have we seen this before? Almost every game, that’s where. The Habs look great for half the game and hold a slim lead, but slowly but surely, the other team climbs back into it and skates away with two points. There are five million Habs fans who are mighty sick of this story. It’s become old with ripped pages and we need a book-burning session.

And of course another injury occured to an important player as Max Pacioretty seemed to twist something down below and we wait for details. Sure, let’s lose Patches now. And then after that, who’s next? Gionta? Subban? Price?

But, surprisingly, there were some positives. Erik Cole played a fine game, scoring his team’s lone goal and creating several good chances as he charged up the ice, moved the puck well, and buzzed around in enemy territory.

Lars Eller played with smarts, skill, and growing confidence, and is fast becoming one of our best and most talented players.

Seeing Jaroslav Spacek back seemed to have a calming effect on things, it did for me, and showed how priceless experience can be in so many subtle ways. It’s like having grandpa come to visit.

Peter Budaj, in for Carey Price, looked confident and right at home, and made a bunch of solid stops along the way. Budaj, in this game at least, showed he could be a back-up goalie we can rely on and not get nervous about when we hear he’s slated to play. Hopefully he can continue to mirror what was a nice game for him in a losing cause, and maybe he’ll prove to be a definite upgrade on Alex Auld.

And last but not least, there are several teams in the eastern conference with not many more points than Montreal, if you can believe it. So even a modest couple of wins could move the Canadiens up considerably.

Wow, is that positive or what?

Random Notes:

Shots on goal, 41 Montreal, 31 them. Firing blanks.

This thing could continue to slide. Philadelphia on Wednesday, Boston on Thursday, and then Boston again on Saturday. I suppose if the Canadiens play like they did tonight, with a few more goals scored, anything’s possible.

But I’m not holding breath.

Habs Buffaloed

The first loss we can take with a grain of salt. The second, as in tonight when the Habs dropped a 3-1 decision to the Buffalo Sabres, we don’t have to lose much sleep.

Three losses though, or four, and my patience, and maybe yours too, begins to wane slightly.

But I remind myself that many of the great teams over the years, regardless of who they were, had some preseasons when they were mediocre at best. It’s one of those things. But slowly or sometimes quickly, something magical happens, these great teams do an about-face, and their early losses are mostly forgotten.

It’s like an ugly duckling who blossoms midway through the school year and suddenly is the hottest number in the hallway.

There was a silver lining to this second straight loss – P.K. Subban, who skated like the wind, who looked like Alex Ovechkin as he wheeled around the Bell Centre as if he were on an outdoor pond with the wind against his back. P.K. showed tonight that he’s ready, he scored his team’s only goal, and we’re lucky to be living in an age when we can witness the evolution of a bonafide superstar defenceman.

It’s a day off for the club on Thursday, and then it’s up the road to Ottawa where they begin a two-day home-and-home series with the Sens. Now is a good time to catapult into the win column at the expense of the team many fans in the Nation’s Capital changed to after after spending decades being Habs fans. Ex-Habs fans deserve to lose.

Random Notes:

Peter Budaj played the first 30 minutes and looks, if first impressions are any indication, to be a decent replacement for Alex Auld as Carey Price’s backup. Budaj had better be good. Price needs more rest than last year if the team is going to go deeper than deep next spring.

But first things first. Let’s win a freaking game.

 

 

They Snickered At The Cole Deal

Sportsnet’s Doug MacLean and Nick Kypreos were almost wetting their pants. Columbus had vastly overpaid James Wisniewski and others, and they were on the subject of Montreal’s new power forward, Erik Cole. (And I’m paraphrasing).” FOUR YEARS!!!” trumpeted MacLean. “Can you imagine, four years! I mean, Cole’s a decent player, but you can bet he was shocked with this offer. SHOCKED! You can be sure he wasn’t expecting that, and when this came over the wires, Cole said, “Where do I sign!”

” This deal doesn’t make sense.”

Kypreos added his two cents. “He’s big, he’s been a good player, but he takes too many nights off and he’s not getting any younger. It’s a crazy deal, like so many that have happened today.”

And then they smiled and looked saintly and carried on about others.

(I might add that Brad Richards, who everyone has been salivating over in these past few days, is only just a little over a year younger than Cole).

So as much as I’m happy, and maybe you too, to have a goal-scoring power forward added to a lineup that desperately needed a goal-scoring power forward, these two clowns rained on the parade and now once again it’s up to the Habs to prove people wrong.

Erik Cole is almost exactly what the doctor ordered. He’s not Benoit Pouliot, who came over from Minnesota as a bust, we knew it was possible he might remain a bust, and sadly, he was. But Cole plays hard and is a leader – both of which Pouliot lacked in generous heapings. We know Cole will help the team. We weren’t sure about the other guy.

But when I say Cole is a goal scorer, he’s not Guy Lafleur, and in Montreal he needs to step it up slightly to make us happy and shut up the talking heads. He’s a ten-year veteran, has toiled in 620 games, recording 184 goals and 206 points along the way. That’s something like a goal every three and a half games or so, and it would be lovely if his numbers improve slightly while wearing the CH.

I feel they will. I once read “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

And now, for your viewing enjoyment.

 I present to you possibly the feeblest video you might ever see, shot by yours truly last February when the boys were in Vancouver. This was after I missed all the good stuff with Carey Price and Subban etc. because I forgot I had a camera in my pocket. I’ve been saving it for a time when it might seem relevant, and now that Alex Auld has gone to Ottawa, it’s time.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you………..Alex Auld warming up in Vancouver. (Of course he didn’t play in the game).

Budaj To Support Price

Canadiens have signed ex-Colorado goalie Peter Budaj as their backup behind Carey Price, which means the new guy will have almost the entire 2011-12 season to relax. The deal is for two years at 1.15 million per. So goodbye Alex Auld.

And because I know nothing about this Slovakian, except that he’s Slovakian, I simply copy and paste this from Wikipedia:

Budaj, a devout Christian, is perhaps best known for having the depiction of Ned Flanders, a popular religious character from TV’s The Simpsons painted on the back of his masks.[7] In 2008, Budaj began wearing a mask featuring the character Altaïr from the popular video game Assassin’s Creed.[8] The mask primarily worn by Budaj during the 2008–09 season features a burgundy colored version of the comic book hero The Hulk,[9] although he did continue wearing the Assassin’s Creed mask as well. Budaj’s 2009–10 mask features his racing idol Valentino Rossi on one side, the Avalanche’s alternate foot logo on the other, and retains Ned Flanders on the back

Not Quite For Canadiens

At least it was a point.

The Canadiens almost stole one in Ottawa Thursday night, tying the game at two when Mike Cammalleri wristed one home with just 11 seconds left in the third period, but alas, Ottawa’s Filip Kuba beat Alex Auld from the blueline in overtime to win it for the Ottawans, and the Habs must settle for one point instead of two.

Oh well. The Canadiens remain in sixth and still, until further notice, will play Boston in the opening round. It’s not written in stone, mind you, but it seems Montreal has been about to meet the Bruins in the first series for about a month now.

The problem tonight wasn’t Alex Auld in goal, or Scott Gomez up front who played a fairly decent game in my book. It was the overall lack of intensity throughout when it came to putting pressure on the guy in net with the condom crest on his jersey.

Maybe they’re saving their blood, sweat and tears for the post-season.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – 32-29 Ottawa.

Brian Gionta was the other goal scorer for the Habs.

Next up – Montreal travels to Toronto to close out the regular saeson on Saturday. A nice 5-0 score there for the Canadiens would be nice, and wouldn’t it be something if Gomez managed one? A few others named Pouliot and Kostitsyn and Wiz and Pleks might want to show off some scoring prowess too if they don’t mind.

Friday morning, Luci and I begin our trek back to Powell River after a fantastic, and I mean fantastic, two weeks in Ottawa and Orillia, which I’ll talk about another time. A bit of a sad time it is. So many great friends and family who I’ll miss in a big way.

Great Friends Ease The Pain

We sat in a bar in Ottawa and watched our Habs lose 6-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Luciena, Heather, Jim, Angus, Danno, myself, Christopher, and Gail who had to go and Marc who had yet to come. We sat and watched Carey Price pulled again in favour of Alex Auld. We sat and saw another feeble effort from everyone. (No one gets off scot-free on this night). We sat and drank liquids and talked hockey, and the gang that can’t shoot straight disappointed once again on a night when they weren’t supposed to disappoint.

The beer was cold, though.

Am I supposed to analyze line match-ups, or ice times, or who should have started in net? This sort of thing has been done all season by hockey people everywhere. It’s too late. Jacques Martin can skate them until their pads fall off but it won’t help now. They have to get this done themselves, in their own way.

We can criticize and analyze and crucify and chastize. It’s all for naught at this stage of the game.

Let them be the ones to climb out of this ongoing late-season pathetic plunge. All we can do is sit back, drink cold beer with great friends, and hope the boys quickly find a way back to dry land.

Random Notes:

Mike Cammalleri and PK Subban were the Habs marksmen. Is that interesting?

Pretty well everyone stunk. Carey Price was yanked, but goals from Carolina came from giveaways, mistakes in Montreal’s end by guys supposed to be helping, not hindering, and various screen shots. 

Did I mention the beer was cold?

Thanks to everyone who came out to Liam Maguire’s for this special night. Aside from the score, it was a tremendous night full of good cheer and hockey talk. Jim tried to go on about his Senators but we didn’t listen.

Being with these great folks softened the blow of a pathetic, lacklustre, and ongoing ridiculous display of sad hockey by the Canadiens.

Where has James Wisniewski disappeared to? He was going so good.

Next up – Saturday in New Jersey. My prediction? The team will go there.

Tomorrow we head for Orillia, with a stop near Peterborough to see Hobo and other friends first, after a fine and dandy six days in Ottawa.

Spacek Chooses Britney Spears

Every so often, as I mentioned once before, a tractor-trailer driver on his way either on to the ferry or off, will stop and hand me his copy of Canadiens magazine.

Which is what he did again yesterday.

And in this latest edition is something I feel you should know.

Certain Habs were asked, if they were wearing a tux on a red carpet at an imaginary glam soiree, who (girlfriends and wives excluded) would they want as their arm candy for the night?

Jaroslav Spacek said Britney Spears.

Mike Cammalleri said either Eva Mendes or Shakira.

Max Pacioretty, Tom Pyatt, Carey Price, and PK Subban said Megan Fox.

Yannick Weber said Charlize Theron.

Tomas Plekanec said Jennifer Aniston.

David Desharnais said Halle Berry.

And Benoit Pouliot, Hal Gill, Alexandre Picard, and Alex Auld said Mom.

When I look at these, I’m on the same page with Weber (Charlize Theron), and Desharnais (Halle Berry). Although I like the mom choice too.

Below- my choices – Charlize and Halle. When I own the team they’ll be invited to my private box so I can teach them about body checking.