Tag Archives: Andre Markov

The Blueliners

It’s safe to assume that the Canadiens defence could use a slight changing of the guard and with four d-men hitting unrestricted free agency, now’s as good a time as any to change some parts.

Andrei Markov, Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray, and Mike Weaver need new contracts, and after seeing Mike Weaver battle, he should stay. Not the biggest guy, but fearless, smart, and experienced. An important player in the trenches.

Weaver, 36, is a right-handed shot.

We know what Andrei Markov brings. He’s crafty, experienced, usually great on the power play, and he’s been a key mentor for Alexei Emelin and PK Subban, which often goes unnoticed but so important. And although he’s slowing down, I’d like him back for two more years. But he wants at least three and it’s a tough one.

Markov shoots left and is 35 years old.

Francis Bouillon can probably be replaced, and although he wasn’t all that appreciated by many Habs fans, I thought he did yeoman’s service for the most part and from time to time would come up with a huge goal. But he’s 38 and it might be time.

Douglas Murray is Douglas Murray. A bruiser who stops people in their tracks. But he’s incredible slow, he’s awkward with the puck, and he’s 34. It’s time for him. He also shoots left.

So our unrestricted free agent defencemen consist of three who shoot left and one right, with an average age of 35.75.

It’s time to give younger guys regular minutes.

We’ve seen how Nathan Beaulieu can skate and move the puck, although the Rangers series exposed some inexperience. He shoots left.

We know left-handed Jarred Tinordi can apply thunderous hits, is a good skater who handles the puck much better than Murray, and although he’s still learning, he’s extremely close to playing full time.

Greg Pateryn is 6’2″, 214 lbs, shoots right, and is smart and ready to go. It’s time to give him a quality look.

If Bouillon and Murray left, it would leave the team with 3 right-handed defencemen (Subban, Weaver, and Pateryn), and 5 lefties (Markov, Emelin, Gorges, Beaulieu, and Tinordi).

Dalton Thrower, who just signed a three-year entry level contract, needs some minor pro seasoning first before even being considered. He’s a right-handed shot but cracking next year’s lineup straight out of junior is asking way too much.

If Markov doesn’t re-sign, the power play, aside from Subban and maybe Pateryn, doesn’t seem to have much oomph. Unless a forward with a big shot is put back on the point the way Boom Boom Geoffrion was. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of forwards with big shots.

Markov should be resigned.  It’s only money, the franchise has plenty, and the guy’s not finished yet. And Emelin still needs some mentoring, as will Tinordi, Beaulieu and Pateryn.

So the blueline lineup could have some inexperience. Pateryn – 3 regular season total games, Beaulieu – 23 games, Tinordi 30. Not a lot of games for almost half the defence corps.

Anyone out there in unrestricted free agency that Bergevin could focus on? Matt Niskanen? Marek Zidlicky? Dan Boyle? Kimmo Timonen? Derek Morris? Willie Mitchell? Andrej Meszarov?

Nope.

Maybe through a trade? All kinds of packages could be put together, including getting the most bang for the buck by moving Dustin Tokarski now while he’s hot, as Mike Mckim suggests.

Or maybe Subban, Emelin, Gorges, Markov, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Weaver, and Pateryn just might do it.

Habs Skin Cats

What a difference two days make. Flat and uninspired against Toronto, and full of life against the Florida Panthers. I think we should just write off the Leafs game, forget it never happened, and focus on what an exciting team the Canadiens can be when they’re playing well. The problem is, we know how the Canadiens can screw with our minds, so I guess we take it game by game.

For now though, life is good.

Maybe it was Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk bringing a youthful enthusiasm into the mix. The two kids, playing with feisty Brandon Prust, showed jump and spark, and lo and behold, Galchenyuk scored his first NHL goal, a deflection from a Prust shot, and the roof nearly came off the Bell Centre. What a glorious moment. What a sight to see this happen to a young fellow we hope will blossom into a huge star. He’ll remember his goal, and we should too. Hopefully it’s the first of a whole bunch.

Galchenyuk’s goal also meant it was Gallagher’s first point in the bigs, and linemate Prust’s first point as a Hab. So which one buys the beer tonight?

But it wasn’t just the kids and Prust reporting for work. It was Andre Markov blasting home two power play goals and Tomas Plekanec scoring an early first period marker from Brian Gionta to get things rolling. In fact, the entire team seemed alive and well and ready to make up for their dismal opening night display. Even seeing an animated Michel Therrien was a breath of fresh air after Jacques Martin’s stoneface and Randy Cunneyworth’s humanity towards his fellow man were what we had become accustomed to these last few years.

It was also Carey Price once again playing solidly and confident . If Price can continue all the way through like he has in the first two games, Montreal can get lots done. Good teams have good goalies, as we all know.

With Lars Eller and Michael Blunden sitting things out, the lines were the Desharnais trio, Plekanec with Bourque and Gionta, the kids and Prust, and Ryan White between Moen and Armstrong. All four combos showed up, got their noses dirty, and skated hard. But somehow, a spot needs to open for Eller at least, and we’ll see how this plays out.

The sky was falling two days ago and now it’s not. Funny how that happens.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – 33-28 Habs.

Next up – Thursday in Washington. The Caps lost tonight to Winnipeg 4-2 and it would be fun to keep their slump going. Nothing like disappointing the home crowd.

Every win is a good win, but it’s even better when the Habs can do it without Subban. With Markov blasting away tonight, it shows that PK isn’t the only one who can send howitzers to the net.

 

 

Golf, Floor Mats, And My Very Late Apology To The Chaput Family

Rookies are flying around, the big club has been golfing, Andre Markov has had a setback, and we can almost reach out and touch preseason tilts. But I think it’s also important to note that a guy I know called me over to his car the other day and showed me his brand new Habs car floor mats.

I’m of two minds about the floor mats. It definitely makes his wheels classier, but every day his dirty boots get all over them. So I don’t know what to think.

And with the gang out on the links for their annual get-together, I was wondering who the best golfer on the team is. Is it Hal Gill or Carey Price or even Jacques Martin? I don’t know the answer. But I might know who the best Habs golfer of all time might be – Bobby Rousseau.

Rousseau was a golf pro in Ste. Hyacinthe during his playing days, at a time when many were driving trucks and throwing cases of beer around in the off-season. So being a golf pro must have been a real nice and cushy summer job.

Ste. Hyacinthe, a city about an hour east of Montreal, holds a place in my heart but also makes me cringe somewhat at something I did there, which I’ll get to in a second. 

I lived there for a month when I was 14 on an English-French student exchange, with a warm and friendly French-Canadian family, the Chaputs. Then the kid in the family, Normand, came to Orillia for the following month.

It was a fine experience. They had a river running behind their backyard so we did lots of good shit there. Mr. Chaput took us to his textile plant where he worked, and Normand and I hitchhiked up to Quebec City and slept in our sleeping bags on the Plains of Abraham.

We did the same sort of thing in Ontario too, and were even involved in a fairly serious accident when a car we were in smashed into a stopped car on the 401 and both got schmucked pretty bad. We simply got out of the back seat, said thanks for the ride, and continued on our way to Niagara Falls.

A few years later an Orillia buddy and I hitchhiked to Expo 67 in Montreal, stayed about five minutes because we didn’t have any money, and decided to continue on to Ste. Hyacinthe to visit Normand and his family once again. 

It’s at this time now that I would like to formally apologize to all of the Chaputs because, although it seemed funny at the time, I realize just how much of an asshole I could be back then.

The family spoke minimal english, almost none, and so I thought I’d get a big laugh from my friend by asking at their dinner table if they would pass the fucking potatoes. That’s what I said – “fucking potatoes” because they wouldn’t understand anyway and I got a fine-yet-stifled laugh from my surprised friend. You know the kind where you hold back and almost blow snot out?

I may have even repeated this incredible immaturity a few more times at the table. That’s how it is when you get that first big laugh. You go for more.

Sadly, I realize now, after being around many French-Canadians in my life, that they all know the word “fuck” and to this day I feel shame and embarrassment. The Chaput family must have thought I was such an asshole, and they were absolutely right.

Hal’s Back!

Hal Gill has signed a brand new, one-year contract worth 2.25 million, and I’m glad about this. Hal’s a steady, likeable veteran, a mentor to young PK Subban, and apparently a guy the rest of the team can’t get to shut up. But that’s great. He’s a character and we need characters.

Now the Canadiens have to decide about Andre Markov, Roman Hamrlik, James Wisniewski, Brent Sopel, and Paul Mara. But Hal’s an excellent start.

Wow, Habs news. Imagine.

Columbus Comedy Club

Columbus 3, Habs 0

We don’t need a fancy adding machine to keep track of Montreal’s scoring in the last two games. That would be one goal. One lousy, feeble, stinking goal.

None tonight, and of course Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez remain mired in nowhere land. These two score? Get outta here! And when it rains, it pours. Mike Cammalleri is slumping and who knows when Andrei Kostitsyn will light it up again.

Benoit Pouliot had his moment in the sun recently when he found the back of the net once or twice, but that’s probably finished now. I don’t expect much more.

All in all, nobody’s stepping up to the plate. Everyone’s gone for a coffee break at the same time. The team was quite mediocre in Columbus, and although they had chances now and again, none of it is worth mentioning because all in all, they weren’t sharp, the Jackets were sharper, and the Habs edge even closer to the dreaded five-letter swear word - “slump.”

But what about the humour? Isn’t it funny that we waited so long and impatiently for the return of Andrei Markov and the boys lose both games he’s been involved in?

And isn’t it hilarious that Brian Gionta becomes captain and proceeds to give us one goal and two assists in 12 games?

And isn’t it side-splitting when the team gives Scott Gomez 8 million clams to also score just once and add two lousy assists?

What can we say about the player we got in the trade for Jaroslav Halak? One assist for Lars Eller. Should we laugh or cry? And then there’s the back-slapping play of Mr. Spacek on the blueline?

In fact, Tomas Plekanec is the only guy I have faith in right now to not let his game go south. Because he’s too good a player for that to happen. Right, Tomas? Say it’s right, Tomas.

Random Notes:

Carey Price played reasonably well but not well enough. I prefer the standing-on-the-head variety.

Shots on goal – 29-24 Montreal

The team doesn’t play again until Friday when they travel to Buffalo. That gives the coaches time enough to juggle the lines and come up with something better than this, which borders on ridiculous. Break up Gionta and Gomez for one thing. And does Travis Moen belong on the top line? He’s got hands of stone, get him out of there. 

C’mon Jacques Martin and associates. Get this fixed pronto.

And through it all, Danno, the video professor, comes up with just the thing:

Habs Fall To Felines

It was a fast-paced, up-and-down deal where the 15th place Florida Panthers punctured the 1st place Habs’ balloon and is a fine example of just how easily a balloon can lose its air.

So much for the feel-good vibes we’ve had running up and down our veins lately. And at the risk of sounding like a paranoid maniac, we’re only two more losses away from a slump.

How’s that for a cheery statement? But we had to lose at some point so hopefully this makes me sound less like a bummer.

I’m not a fan of parity. I’ve decided that this idea that any team can win on any night is old and tiresome. Florida languishes in last place in the east and tonight looked like a Cup-contender. Montreal should’ve come out and acted like Andre the Giant doing a number on Richard Simmons.

Parity. Humbug.

It’s the Canadiens’ fault of course. Zero for five on the power play. A big two-man advantage to start the third period. Brian Gionta came as close as you’ll ever come to scoring, but that’s what happens when you’re in a slump. Nothing goes right.

Gionta needs to bank one in off somebody’s face and after that he should be fine.

And this feeble power play is getting on my nerves. Three lousy goals with the man advantage in 11 games.

I’m just going to jump right to the Random Notes now. I’m not in the mood to babble.

Random Notes:

Andre Markov looked dangerous from time to time but it also seemed his timing was off slightly.

Florida’s winning goal came on a David Booth penalty shot but that’s not interesting.

Benoit Pouliot got another assist as he and Jeff Halpern did the work on Mathieu Darche’s goal. Pouliot now has five points which is four more than Lars Eller and five more than Tom Pyatt.

Shots on goal were an amazing 41-31 Habs. One goal on 41 shots does not make a Habs fan feel the need to dance a jig. At least not me.

Next up – Tuesday in Columbus.

Habs Slowly But Surely Get Down To Business

What does a guy do when he has a Habs blog and is 3000 miles from Montreal with training camp now picking up steam, and he can’t be there to go to the rink and look at the prospects and keep an eye on the regulars and watch carefully as Carey Price stops pucks?

He reads stories from those who are there, from the mainstream guys. And what is he reading? Pretty darn postive stuff, that’s what.

Carey Price is stopping pucks left and right, looking confident and happy in his new role as the go-to-guy, and slowly I’m beginning to feel slightly more relaxed about our number one guy.

Ian Schultz is banging everyone in sight, and although the young fellow probably won’t crack this year’s lineup, he surely will in the near future. And who knows, maybe he’ll force the coaching staff to keep him if he continues to impress. As we all understand, a thumping power forward who can put the puck in the net is a magical and spiritual being.

Ryan O’Byrne scored a goal in scrimmage the other day, and it would be nice if he could pop about eight this season.

The usual suspects, like Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec, show that their hands remain soft and dangerous, like a scorned woman threatening to strangle her husband.

We need to watch or read carefully how things unfold. The Canadiens, by all accounts, are a nice-looking team, but several things need to be tweaked, like toughness and a few select players being all they can be. Players like Benoit Pouliot and Andre Kostitsyn need to pick it up by a country mile, as we all know. Travis Moen and O’Byrne could stand to be much nastier. I’m hoping to read soon that Jeff Halpern, Dustin Boyd, and Lars Eller are making a huge impact.

And I’ll take fights on the ice from young guys lobbying for jobs, any day of the week.

Naturally, of course, as the real season unfolds, Scott Gomez could score a few more goals and Andre Markov must get back soon and never get injured again. Is that asking too much?

Once again, and most importantly, Carey Price needs to be, and will be, a great goaltender this year. I feel it. It’s in the air. Maybe it’s that smile on his face that tells me.

Also, it seems by looking around at the usual prediction stories, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are once again considered the darlings of the east, and that’s fine because we’ve seen how the Habs can shove the darlings off the cliff. Bring ‘em on. Bring ‘em all on. We’ll just keep pushing them off.

Sept. 22nd, pre-season games open with the Bruins in town and then it’s Ottawa with a home and home, and then Guillaume Latendresse  (if he plays) and his Minnesota Wild come to Montreal, followed by Florida, Buffalo, and ending with what should be an interesting evening in Quebec at the Colisee with the Habs taking on the Islanders.

Let’s go, Habs. Fight, hit, score, stop pucks, laugh, get angry, have fun, sweat, smell, win jobs, and get ready. We’re expecting everything..

Lucky, Smelly Shirt And Sergei Kostitsyn Big Factors In Habs Win

Yes, Sergei Kostitsyn scored two big goals. And yes, the Canadiens played well on this night against the rival Boston Bruins. And yes, it was a 3-2 win that saw the home team nail their fifth straight.

But the fact remains, if Dishonest John hadn’t taken his lucky and unbeaten shirt on his road trip to Brandon, it may not have mattered that Sergei had his night and the team played well. Because without the shirt, I shutter to think what would have happened.

I’d also like to come clean. I only saw the third period. I’m in Nelson with the 2027 1st round draft pick and his two future Nobel Peace Prize sisters, and they’ve had me pretending that one’s a dog and another a pidgeon, and I had to feed and put invisble flea powder on them and so I was pretty well tied up.

All I know is the Canadiens won, Guy Carbonneau said it was an excellent game, and the lucky shirt is on fire and may some day end up in the Hall of Fame.

If you feel so inclined, please tell me how the game went. I missed a big game but with the pretend dogs and pidgeons, plus knowing that the team won again,  I’m having a good night.

Random Notes:

Andre Markov also scored.

Habs on Broadway Tuesday.

Disappointment Reigns Supreme. Habs Suck In Sunshine

You know who I feel sorry for? The snowbirds from Sudbury and Sherbrooke and Trois Riviere and Barrie and elsewhere, the long-time Habs fans now retired to their villas and iced tea in Florida, who excitedly checked the schedule in the fall to see when their beloved Habs were coming, and they rushed out and bought tickets with money they could have used for tennis rackets and Panama hats, and they counted the days.

Then they see this. A pathetic, horrid display in Sunrise against the Panthers and an equally dismal, uninspired, deader-than-dead showing in Tampa. They must be a disappointed bunch, these retirees with their Habs sweaters and memories of the days when they saw their team in all its glory at the Forum on Ste. Catherines.

I’m adamant about one thing. The Montreal Canadiens are not as bad a team as they look. They’ve shown from time to time how things can be different. But something is missing. There’s no drive, spark, energy. No passion and spirit.

Why is that?

We look long and hard at this team and we see a never-ending debate about which goalie is the guy and which isn’t and should one be traded and one not, and the beat goes on and on.

We see players who we were excited about earlier causing us to be noticeably less excited now. And remember how it was going to be much better if they could only weather the storm until Andre Markov came back from injury? Well, they weathered the storm, he’s back, and I don’t see a team headed up the charts with a bullet. It’s just a sad-sack unhappy group firing blanks instead.

They played two great games last week in beating the Devils in New Jersey and then clobbering the Rangers 6-0. They were a better team than they look  now. But it’s a simple, easy question: How can they go from that to what we’ve just seen in Florida?

Is it the coach? Is it the goaltender/media crush? Is it because there’s no leadership with no captain? Is it because they really are too small like many suggested in the beginning? The guys who were great earlier – Gionta, Plekanec, Metropolit to name some of many, are only ordinary now. Don’t forget, Plekanec was making a strong push up the scoring ladder, but no longer. Gionta still hasn’t become the player he was before he was injured. Metropolit had endeared himself to fans with his work ethic and some timely goals, then it was like he went on vacation and hasn’t been seen since. In fact, since he took some brain-dead penalties last month that got him into the doghouse with coach Martin, he’s been a shell of the player we knew and loved.

Everything has become unglued and unsettling.

Random Notes:

Habs are in Ottawa on Saturday. Don’t forget, it’s an afternoon game – 2.00 PM eastern.

I might need a new roof after the last storm that went through. The one the Habs gods drummed up because they’re pissed right now. So this 2009-2010 squad is responsible for me possibly having to fork over several thousand bucks for a new roof.


Habs Plan On Closing The Gap A Little

The Buffalo Sabres are probably enjoying very much their time up in the penthouse with their martinis, caviar, and fancy dinner parties, so it would be absolutely perfect if the Habs could kick their arses Sunday afternoon at the Bell Centre.

Buffalo is way up there, sitting pretty in second place in the east with 54 points. Montreal, although making a grand push in the last little while, still sits in the blue-collar section, punching clocks down in the furness room in seventh place with 45 points. And the Canadiens have played three more games than the Sabres.

But these differences don’t mean a thing because, as we all know, Montreal has only recently started to play well. And when I say recently, I mean when Andrei Markov returned to the lineup along with Tomas Plekanec finding his own penthouse space. 

This is a much-improved Montreal Canadiens squad the Sabres will see in this matinee.

It’s the power of positive thinking hard at work.