Tag Archives: Alex Semin

Wrong Time Of Year For The Caps

Seems like it doesn’t matter how many points the Washington Capitals get in the regular season, when it comes to the playoffs, it’s a whole other matter.

Unless that is, they can come back from a three-game deficit to overcome the Tampa Bay Lightning, which probably isn’t going to happen.

The Caps changed their way of doing things this year, going from an offensive juggernaut to a disciplined, lower-scoring, and conservative team, and the hockey world raved. That’s the way to do it, many said. The Caps will be tough because of their new system, they added. Kudos to coach Bruce Boudreau to recognize their downfalls and fix them, they muttered.

Or something like that.

And once again, it all comes crashing down. Even with a lineup bursting at the seams with stars such as Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Semin, Jason Arnott, Brooks Laich and more.

Just goes to show that the playoffs has a mind of its own.

Bruce Boudreau is swearing, I’m sure. Maybe even more than he did in the HBO 24/7 segments, which says a lot. Parents probably weren’t all that impressed with Boudreau’s use of language as they grabbed the popcorn and sat down with their little kids to watch these leadups to the Winter Classic, when Boudreau set world records for the amount of F-bombs dropped by one person in just one hour.

But that’s hockey. Toe Blake was once barred from the Forum billiard room for using too much profanity. But at least Toe wasn’t swearing in front of thousands of little kids watching on television.

Washington’s on the verge of collapse and Boudreau could be unemployed very soon. But as they say, coaches are hired to be fired.

Here’s a brief look at a decade of Caps playoff performances;

2010 – Won the President Trophy and lost in the first round to Montreal. (Boudreau coaching)

2009 – Won Southeast Division and lost to Pittsburgh in the second round. (Boudreau coaching)

2008 – Won Southeast Division and lost to Flyers in the first round. (Boudreau coaching)

2007 – Ended up in last place and out of playoffs.

2006 – Last place in Southeast Division and out of playoffs.

2005 – lockout

2004 – Last place and out of playoffs.

2003 – Lost to Lightning in opening round.

2002 – out of playoffs.

2001 – First place in Southeast Division – out in first round.

Miracle Completed! Canadiens Remove Caps

Not many gave them a chance, these Montreal Canadiens. Studio analysts laughed and smirked at the mere thought of it. There was no way the Habs, a team who had just squeaked into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, were going to stop the mighty Washington Capitals, who most thought would go all the way with a high-powered offence of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Mike Green and a cast of thousands. 

But the Canadiens fought back from down three games to one, winning three straight, and a miracle has happened which won’t be forgotten shortly. Thank you, Montreal Canadiens, you made us proud tonight.

The Canadiens won this game 2-1, they held on in the end while down two players, and I’ve just set a new record for holding my breath – 60 minutes. They blocked and stopped and didn’t panic, and carried out a game plan that has - and I’m still in shock just saying it - slayed the big machine.

They did it and it’s time to celebrate. And we’ll enjoy it now and remember how Jaroslav Halak performed in this series, how Hal Gill and Josh Gorges blocked shots, and how the team – everyone – did what they had to do to stop the Goliath that is the Washington Capitals.

What a difference between last year and now. The Canadiens bowed out four straight to Boston, and we kind of knew they might. They went quietly, and we waited for another year to see if things would change. And how it has. This is a team with personality now, with heart, and the whole episode stirs the souls of Habs fans everywhere.

Christopher said all along the Capitals could be had, and Danno swore it would be won in game seven. All Habs fans hoped and believed, and we all knew it was a formidable task at hand. I also remember watching Sportsnet Hockey Central, and Doug MacLean and the others laughed a hearty laugh when the question was raised if the Habs could pull off an upset.

They’re not laughing now. No one’s laughing except us. Canadiens eliminate Washington, and I’m going for a beer.

Random Notes:

Marc-Andre Bergeron opened the scoring on the power play, and Dominic Moore notched the big, beautiful mother of a game-seven winner.

Jaroslav Halak did what we needed him to do. Elevate his game, and provide some of the greatest goaltending seen in a long, long time. It’s what the playoffs are all about.

It’s not going to get any easier, because now it’s the defending champs, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are up next on the menu. Game one starts Friday. Bring ‘em on.

Hey, You’ve Got Our Expos. What More Do You Want?

I hope you didn’t shave today. It’s playoff time. If you did, what were you thinking?

The goalies are set – Halak and Theodore - and the hockey world waits for the Washington slaughter of the Habs to begin. It’s not going to be the least bit fair, no it’s not. The Caps are too big, too slick, too many points in the regular season. Barack Obama cheers for them. They’re perfect. They’re not human. What a team.

Why don’t they just give the Stanley Cup to the Washington Capitals and be done with it?

But the Montreal Canadiens and fans have other plans. Like winning the series, for instance. It’s just going to take some firsts.

They need to win the first faceoff of the game and get the puck into the Caps end and start the momentum. They need the first big hit and the first goal. They need to win the first period, the first fight, and all the races to the puck in corners. And a win in the first game would be lovely although a win in game two would be almost as good. Maybe as good.

They also need to send a 90 mile-an-hour puck into Alex Ovechkin’s teeth.

And about the fights? Be careful with Alexander Semin. He plays the bongos.

Habs can win.  Montreal has the aura, the CH, and the best-looking women in North America. Washington enjoys our Expos and had George Bush living there. 

And yes, I know what you’re saying. The game is played on the ice so forget about the women and George Bush. But the Canadiens are not the worst team in the history of the world, and the Capitals are not the best. It’s closer than what many think. The Habs have good scorers who haven’t scored lately. That’s the biggest problem. If the scorers can get it together, things become much different.

And about Alex Ovechkin. One man has never made a hockey team. Please refer to the 2010 Russian Olympic hockey team.

Detroit didn’t win every year because they had Gordie Howe. Or Boston with Orr, Hull with Chicago, Gretzky in LA, Newman with the Charlestown Chiefs. A lot is made about Ovechkin, but it’s a team sport. He’s a guy who has to be watched carefully, checked hard, trash-talked to, get him off his game. Toe Blake told Claude Provost to shadow Bobby Hull, so whenever Hull jumped on the ice, so did Provost. If Hull was out of the play, Provost stayed with him. When Hull went back to the bench, Provost escorted him. If he would’ve been allowed, Provost probably would have followed him down the hall when the period ended.

Just don’t let Ovechkin get wound up, and fire a few 90 mile an hour pucks near his gap-toothed grin.

If Montreal can gain even a split in Washington, everything changes. The Habs will have new-found confidence, the Caps will see some of their’s disappear, and TV analysts will begin to sing a different tune. The odds in Vegas will change slightly, and Habs fans will believe even more.

It’s game day. I’m ready. Gaston’s going to watch it with me. Dishonest John will have his lucky shirt, I’m sure. Danno will have the Victory shirt ready to go. And I didn’t shave today.

I’m ready, you’re ready. We’re all ready. GO HABS!

For those of you who haven't been introduced, this is Gaston. We go back a long way. He'll be watching the game tonight.

Stranger Things Have Happened

Hab-haters are in a giddy mood. They can’t wait for the series between Montreal and Washington to begin so they can be amused by the slaughter about to unfold. You’re screwed, you rotten bastard Habs, they exclaim with glee, a glee that probably rivals many of their best orgasms.

And of course on paper, these folks don’t have to be all that smart to come to their bitter and nasty conclusions. The Washington Capitals are loaded with firepower and the Habs aren’t. It’s about as clear-cut as you can get.

But two things come to mind as these smug armchair quarterbacks snort and sneeze from their allergies to the CH. Two upsets. Two huge upsets.

The first was my beer league team which entered a tournament with only six players and had to play three games in one day while suffering from massive hangovers. We played a team that enjoyed a full bench and lesser hangovers, but because we were such underdogs, we gave a little extra, almost puked several times on the bench and on the ice, and won the game with a last minute goal.

That was a big upset.

And there was another upset, although not quite as big as the beer league thing.

In 1970-71, the Boston Bruins finished with 121 points, exactly the same as the Washington Capitals this year. The Bruins were also loaded with gunners, just like the Caps. Phil Esposito tallied 152 points that year, Bobby Orr had 102 assists, John Bucyk managed 116 points, and Ken Hodge had 105 points. They were big, bad, and very talented. 

These big, bad Bruins met the Montreal Canadiens in the quarterfinals of that year, and it was going to be a massacre to end all massacres. The Habs had Ken Dryden in nets, a guy who had played a total of six games in the NHL and looked like he’d rather be in a library. The coaching situation was unstable, Claude Ruel resigned, and Al McNeil had taken over. John Beliveau was 39 years old.  And the Canadiens had missed the playoffs the previous year.

The future didn’t look all that bright.

No one gave Montreal a chance in that 1971 playoff series. But in game two, Montreal was losing 5-2 going into the third period and came back and won 7-5. It was the pivotal game and I remember listening to this classic on a transistor radio perched on a rock outside the shack I was living in at the time with a bunch of crazy hippies and American draft dodgers, none of whom had the slightest interest in what was going on.

And in the end, when the dust had settled on this quarterfinal series, Montreal shocked the Bruins by winning it in seven with big help from Dryden, then taking out both Minnesota and Chicago to capture the whole damn thing that year.

That’s what can happen. Washington has Ovechkin (109 points), Nicklas Backstrom (101), Alex Semin (84), and defenceman Mike Green (76), and of whom had higher totals than Montreal’s leading point-getter Tomas Plekanec, who managed 70 points this season. On paper, it’s not even fair.

But all the Habs have to do is have amazing goaltending, big goals from their first-liners, and nice, balanced scoring from everyone else.  Ryan O’Byrne has to quit falling down, Roman Hamrlik has to speed up, and Marc-Andre Bergeron has to blast away and hit the net, especially on the power play. And Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price, whoever, must perform like Ken Dryden or Terry Sawchuk or Roger Crozier or Glenn Hall, goalies who stood on their proverbial heads come playoff time.

And come to think of it, everyone might want to concentrate on stopping Ovechkin too.

The team also has to have the fortitude to come through like my beer-league team that had only six players but still got the job done. And we had hangovers, something the Canadiens better not have if they plan on knocking off a great Washington Capitals team.