Tag Archives: Ben Bishop

It’s Time

Finally it begins, 198 days from that dark October 1st evening when the Canadiens would lose 4-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.

Through highs and lows they took us, from four and five-game winning streaks to three and four-game losing streaks. But they always kept pace, always stayed in the hunt from start to finish.

Up and down we went, and in the end, when the long 82-game regular season finally drew to a close, we found our team finishing fourth in the east, a  fine100-point season to be proud of, with a goalie at the top of his game and a team that slowly but surely created chemistry within its ranks and a new and forceful first line in place.

Tampa’s number one goaltender Ben Bishop won’t start and we don’t know if he’ll even finish. Brandon Prust seems ready to go. The penalty killing has been spectacular. And our goaltender backstopped Team Canada to gold at Sochi and carries on now as the best in the business.

I’m not going to try and dissect the lines and matchups, or who’s dressing and who isn’t. I prefer to see how everything unfolds. Criticism can wait until it’s well-deserved.

For now, for me at least, it’s time to get excited, nervous and more than hopeful, and embrace the Montreal Canadiens as they attempt to give us and themselves what we last saw in 1993.

It’s time once again to bring out Annakin Slayd’s “Feels Like ’93″.

It’s Their Own Fault

Tampa won the game they had to win, a 1-0 shootout over Washington, and the Canadiens couldn’t solve a New York Islanders team they should have easily beaten.

Thus, the Canadiens lose home ice advantage.

It’s their own fault. The playoffs are hard enough without handing home ice to the other team but they made their bed. The best thing to do now is win in less than seven so Tampa’s home ice is all for naught.

It’s also very interesting to see how a couple of things play out Tampa Bay-wise.

Will Ben Bishop suit up in the series? And what’s going to happen to Ryan Malone, who was busted early Saturday on a DUI and possession of a gram and a half of cocaine? One would have to think he’s in a heap of trouble.

In 1977 Rangers forward Don Murdoch was busted at the Toronto airport with 4.5 grams of coke and was suspended by the league for an entire season, although it was lifted after 40 games.

If Ryan Malone laces up in the playoffs, it won’t seem right. I’m anxious to hear what happens. Will the league put the hammer down on this? And will they do it right away?

Malone’s also a bit of a dirty player who cold-cocked Chris Campoli back in 2011 (no suspension), and head-hunted Alexei Emelin in a game in 2012 after Emelin had leveled him with an old-time cruncher that was clean as a whistle.

This time around, it’s not an-ice problem. Cocaine and a DUI is a mighty serious combo, terrible for the Lightning and the NHL. The rep takes a hit. Not exactly role model type of stuff for kids to read and hear about.

Bishop on the other hand is a different story. He’s injured but if he’s healthy and plays, that’s fine. But if he doesn’t play, them’s the breaks.

 

Good Game, Single Point

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Fine game Wednesday night in Chicago, and although the Canadiens grabbed a point, they could’ve had two. But it slipped away in the dying seconds.

Hawks win 3-2 in overtime.

After two periods of play it was a see-saw battle with no goals and just one penalty, a hooking call to Daniel Briere, but in the third, the puck started to find its way.

Dale Weise, in his first game back after injury, banged one home after a fine rush by Rene Bourque. But the Hawks, who held the edge in play many times on the night, tied it soon after.

Just 22 seconds later, Francis Bouillon blasted one home and it became a Habs lead once again.

And then, the one-goal lead almost a two-goal lead when our almost 40-goal scorer came oh so close..

How great it would’ve been to see Max score his 40th when he was set up fifteen feet out but stopped point blank by Corey Crawford. Great play, great shot, great stop.

It was also the beginning of the end, because after some serious Hawks pressure, the home team would tie it with 48 seconds left in the third, and in overtime, Peter Budaj accidentally backhanded the puck into his own net and that was that.

A point on the road but it could’ve been two. But that’s fine, because the Canadiens played a solid skating game, took just two penalties (the only two of the night), and in my book they continue to impress.

They’ve won 10 of 13 games. I feel I’d be a greedy bastard if I complained.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Chicago 30-28.

Thomas Vanek and DD assisted on Bouillon’s marker, and the big line continues to roll.

Alex Galchenyuk left the game in the first period after taking a hit from Andrew Shaw and now we wait to hear the damage.

Injuries just before playoff time. Imagine how Tampa must have felt when Ben Bishop went down.

Other guys were hurt too, Bouillon and Ryan White in particular, but both would return. Thank goodness Carey Price, Andrei Markov, and Alexei Emelin were left at home where less injuries could happen.

Much safer at home. Maybe tripping on a roller skate or taking a rolling pin to the head from an upset wife.  But no hits into the boards or hard pucks to the ankles.

In a few short hours (sort of), the boys host the Islanders at the Bell. Then game number 82 on Saturday against the Rangers.

Grab that opening round home ice and please, no more injuries.

 

 

Crazy Loss

The chances were there for the Canadiens from time to time, but 6’7″ Ben Bishop was a wall. A high wall. And much of the time Tampa Bay dominated but led only 1-0 in the third.

And wouldn’t you know it, the Canadiens would tie a game they shouldn’t have been close to doing, with just 4:38 seconds left in the third period, only to lose 2-1 in the shootout.

They also did their best to lose it several times in the late going, with chances starting to come and Carey Price playing like Jacques Plante, when suddenly Rene Bourque took a penalty for high sticking at 16:27 of the third, then Lars Eller went off at 18:54 for a face-off violation, and just forty seconds into overtime, Andre Markov went to the box for shooting the puck over the glass.

But Price continued to be sensational throughout, until of course the shoot-out, a time when things just don’t go right. Price struggles with these clear-cut situations, and the laws of nature say it’s a terrible combination when his shooters can’t put the puck in the ocean with their own chances.

How come other teams manage to beat goalies in shootouts?

Galchenyuk – nope, Tampa – yes, Briere – nope, Tampa – nope, Gallagher – nope, and the game ends 2-1 for the visitors and the Habs get a point thanks to Carey Price and no one else.

The Lightning played like a real team – quick both ways, solid checking, sound goaltending. The Canadiens often looked lost and confused. Like it was them who were without Steven Stamkos, not Tampa.

Not a good night for the Canadiens, except for Price, even though they kept it close and managed a point. So I suppose if you look at it that way, it was a good night after all. But they were tremendously outplayed, outshot 45-29, and the Bell Centre only came to life when the puck bounced in off Briere.

A perfect road game for Tampa. A less-than-dazzling display by the home team. And three seriously ill-timed penalties is enough to drive a man to drink.

Random Notes:

Brendan Gallagher, with his new mustache, looks like a young apprenticing porn star. Did he have that the other night or is it black felt pen?

Max assisted on Briere’s marker.

Is it fair to say Rene Bourque isn’t exactly helping right now? What do you think Mayor Coderre?

Next up – Friday in Columbus

 

Hot Goalie Handles Habs

Montreal had hardly any chances in their game against the Senators on Monday night – only those point-blank deals from Brandon Prust, Alex Galchenyuk, and Tomas Plekanec on several occasions, and those goal posts from Max and Cole and Diaz. Then there were those blasts from the blueline and scrambles around the net and everything else the team threw at Ottawa goalie Ben Bishop, including the kitchen sink.

All that and they only score once and lose 2-1 in the shootout. Outshooting the Sens 45-24 and popping one measly goal. But it was one of those nights. I’m not crazy about these nights.

The goalie was as hot as can be. He won the game. But this was a big game for Montreal and they should have found a way, especially against an injury-riddled squad like the Sens. Ben Bishop isn’t even a first-stringer, but the Canadiens couldn’t beat him.

So there’s no excuses, no whining, no bad luck. Montreal lost a game they should have won, and it happens. That’s why the goalie is the most important player on the team. That’s why a good backup is a precious commodity. That’s why I need a good stiff drink.

Speaking of goalies, the Canadiens have one of the best, but from time to time, our Carey Price can fan on an easy pitch down the middle. Remember last year when he was daydreaming at a faceoff and was beaten before he could even move? I’m sure I cursed at him. And tonight, a puck he’d normally squeeze in his sleep sailed by and the Sens broke the ice and took a 1-0 lead. Price is great, just not 100% of the time.

Now it’s Toronto to contend with on Wednesday, and we all know how the Canadiens have fared so far against these guys. The Habs need this game in a big way because if the Leafs were to win their third straight over the tricolour, they might think they’re a good team. And that wouldn’t be right.

Random Notes:

I’ve already mentioned the shots on goal.

Rene Bourque didn’t play for the second straight game. He has the flu, but it’s been a few days now so suck it up, Rene, and get back out there.

PK Subban got booed tonight, which is always good in a visitor’s barn. Bobby Orr used to really hear it, especially in Toronto. Singers know they’ve made it when play Carnegie Hall. Hockey players know they’ve made it when they’re booed on the road.

 

 

 

Habs Stall Sens

The Canadiens stalled Ottawa’s charge, ruining the Sens’ chance to catch the Boston Bruins in the Northeast Division by winning in a shootout 3-2, and I have to admit, for some reason I’m not feeling bad for the Senators.

Frankly, I could care less where Ottawa sits, or 28 other teams for that matter. All I care about, aside from the fact that the Habs are going to find themselves without that top three draft pick very soon, is that the Canadiens look slightly better now, are playing with some jump and as a team, but they’ve left it too late.

That’s what hurts. They’re showing they can play after being horribly comatose for way too long, and I’d like to know how this new act affects the fallout. Will the team change plenty in the off-season or keep plenty? It scares me. I want plenty, and if the boys keep getting points, ownership and management might be fooled once again, or forget to take their blinders off, and we’d have to endure another tortuous season like this one. And if we do, I’ll be suing the team for a new television after a brick gets lodged in the one I have now.

So the bottom line is, if the Canadiens play well to close it off, we can only hope the brain trust isn’t hoodwinked by the improvement. I don’t trust these guys in suits. Not any more.

Tomas Kaberle had the night off to be with his girlfriend and brand new baby, Scott Gomez is feeling the effects of a concussion compliments of Buffalo’s Tyler Myers, and Alexei Emelin didn’t dress and I’m not sure why. I hate this. We need Emelin.

Erik Cole skated miles tonight against the Senators, and opened the scoring when he grabbed his own rebound and beat 6’7″ Ben Bishop, apparently the tallest goalie to ever play in the league. Tall and slim, the absolute polar opposite of Gump Worsley.

David Desharnais scored Montreal’s second goal just 24 seconds into the third period, and notched the lone goal in the shootout. This guy is a beauty, and an inspiration and example to small guys who might think they don’t have a chance in hell of landing a big-league job.

Andrei Markov took a puck in the face and although pucks in the face hurt, and it’s always good not to lose teeth or have a nose flattened, it still usually means it might not be serious. But Markov looked very upset, the way Brian Gionta did when he tore his bicep, and at that second, my heart stood still. But he was fine, and was back for the third.

Sorry, Ottawa fans. Better luck another time. And if I could give one piece of advice to you, now that your team is doing so well, try not to be so freaking smug like Canucks fans.

Random Notes:

When Cole scored, the referee nearby put his arm up to signal the goal and Cole skated by and high-fived him. One of the funnier things I’ve seen lately.

Shots on goal – Sens 37, Habs 26.

Next game, Friday in Ottawa. If only Montreal still had a chance. It would make things so much more fun.