Tag Archives: Brandon Prust

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″.

Vanek And Gang Come Through

Win one for Patrick was the rallying cry for the Colorado Avalanche. His team was going to play a big offensive game, promised Patrick.

And they lost 6-3.

It’s one of my happiest moments in this long season. A huge win and two more big points.

They did it with energy and lots of time in the Avs’ end. And Thomas Vanek finally broke through in dramatic fashion by scoring three times.

Two wins on the weekend and a huge mother of a win tonight. Patrick loses, Habs win, Vanek breaks out, and it’s just a feel good story all round.

It looked dire in the beginning though, with 18-year old Nathan McKinnon opening the scoring, and then it became 2-1 Colorado in the second after Vanek had previously tied it.

But the second period also saw the puck often in the Avs’ end, the Canadiens showed lots of energy, and when Travis Moen took a pass from a sprawling Brandon Prust, wheeled in reverse and backhanded it home to tie the thing at two, it was game on.

Everyone in the building – fans, both teams, Patrick, all knew that the Avs weren’t about to have their way.

This was a game that had playoff vibes. It was important. And the Canadiens came through.

Prust blasted one home in the third, the Avs tied it, but then the Canadiens power play, and in particular Vanek, went to work and just like that, it was 5-3 for the good guys.

Dale Weise, who was involved in a scrap in the first, salted it away with an empty netter as the clock wound down.

Most impressive was the fact that the Canadiens never sat back, didn’t go into their defensive shell, and kept things interesting in the Colorado end all night.

That’s what we need to see from the boys. They’re a skating team, and when they’re flying they can get things done. Forget the New Jersey-style. Put the pedal to the metal.

Prust ended with a goal, an assist, and second star.  First star Vanek with three and his linemates DD and Max each collected two assists. Moen scored his beauty, Emelin had two assists, and Weise was an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick.

Just a great night. A wonderful night. Unless you’re Patrick Roy, that is.

Random Notes:

Maybe the miracle on Saturday night really did light a fire.

Shots on goal – Habs 36, Avs 28.

Montreal went 2/3 on the power play, and this is the Vanek factor at work.

Next up – Columbus Blue Jackets in town on Thursday. Once again, can’t wait.

 

 

 

Bust Those Bruins

Game day, with the Bruins in town and Carey Price still not ready. Although Brandon Prust apparently is.

If Peter Budaj is in goal, we’re going to need a slightly better outing from him than what we’ve seen recently. Budaj lost his last three starts and often looked shaky in the process. I hope his confidence isn’t wavering.

If it’s Tokarski, he looked good in his team’s 4-3 shootout win in Anaheim, and there’s no reason why he can’t stone the Bs too.

Whoever’s in goal needs help in front of him. Things have to be tighter. And there’ll be no Josh Gorges blocking shots, as the Dairy Queen mogul is gone for a month with broken bones in his hand.

Mike Weaver should pick up the slack nicely. He plays a similar game to Gorges.

I guess it should be mentioned too that the boys in front of Budaj scored a total of three goals in those three games he just lost, so it goes without saying that that needs some serious improving on.

Canadiens handled the Bruins in their two games played so far. A 2-1 win on Dec. 5 with Price in nets, and a 4-1 thrashing on Jan. 30 with Budaj between the pipes and which saw Tuukka Rask get yanked in the second period.

More of the same is in order for tonight. It would also be nice to see Thomas Vanek make a fine impression.

And Rene Bourque deserves to be a healthy scratch. At this stage of the game, giving 50% doesn’t cut it.

Could’ve But Didn’t

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Luci and I were at the Bell Centre today to see the Canadiens drop a 2-1 overtime decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and as you can see, we were up fairly high.

But having said that, it was still way closer than most seats at NHL outdoor games.

And not only that, we got to see two goals down at our end. Daniel Briere’s in the the third period that tied the game at one, and P.K. Subban’s deflection in the second that put the Lightning up by one in the first place.

On a Habs power play no less.

I’m not mad at P.K. for that big Lightning goal in a game that featured almost no scoring. We’ve seen goals like that over the years from different players.

It’s a natural instinct to stick the stick out when the puck’s near the goal.

As long as he never does it again. Once, maybe twice, in a career is enough thank you very much.

It just wasn’t a barn burner, which is what one hopes for when going to a game. Montreal got chances only here and there, and I found myself glancing often at the scoreboard that showed cute babies in little Habs jerseys asleep in mom or dad’s arms.

I wanted to see a madhouse, people all around me yelling and screaming, but it wasn’t to be. The team just didn’t provide enough incentive to raise the roof.

The Lightning had more opportunities, but Carey Price, who was awarded the Molson Cup for January beforehand, was sparkling often.

The Canadiens still could’ve won it though, it they’d created more chances. But as has been the case so often, the hammer wasn’t down a lot. Maybe one of those little kid’s hammers, but not the big honkin’ workingman’s hammer.

After Briere’s goal in the third, the boys picked it up a notch or two and went hard in overtime. P.K. Subban weaved and wove like he was on a mission to correct his own-net goal, but although we oohed and aahhed, nothing much came to pass.

And  it was all for naught, because with 24 seconds left in overtime, the puck found its way behind Price and that was it.

They got a point and we made our way to Ste-Catherines where we drowned our sorrows with smoked meat at Reuben’s.

Random Notes:

Brandon Prust was in a scrap with Jean-Philippe Cote early in the first, and then late in the second, he and Lightning goalie Ben Bishop had a slight disagreement, as it appeared Bishop didn’t appreciate Prust telling him his mother wears army boots.

Carey Price skated up to get a closer looked and was given a penalty for leaving the crease.

Christian Thomas saw some action for the Habs in just his second NHL game and was given 8:16 seconds of ice time, just 25 seconds less than Briere.

A kid sat beside P.A. announcer Michel Lacroix and read the Habs starting lineup.

I have a beef here. A serious beef. I’ve been trying for more than 50 years to be stick boy for one game. And some kid who’s been a Habs fan for only a couple of years gets to read the lineup?

Michel Lacroix has an excellent voice. For me, he’s as good as Claude Mouton was.

Shots on goal TB 36, Habs 29.

Next up – Sunday at 1 pm again, only this time it’s the Winnipeg Jets.

 

Canadiens Respond

They pretty well had to win. We demanded it. And how could they say no to us?

Canadiens shut down the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0, led by some great netminding by Carey Price, who surely must have been as fed up as anyone with the four-goal games and losses lately.

The cowboy played a big part in stopping the madness and lassoing a big win.

And although it wasn’t exactly a great game by the home team, it was a solid effort, as they came out more determined, more aggressive, harder on the puck instead of soft and lackadaisical.

You could see they were alive and on a mission, even though it wasn’t a classic. But it was a darn sight better effort than what we’ve seen lately, and that’s all we can ask.

A nice change, and it’s a step in the right direction. Now they’ve got the Bruins in Boston on Thursday, and if they liked the sweet taste of victory on Tuesday, imagine the taste buds on Thursday if they can whup those Beantowners?

But I’m not getting ahead of myself. It’s a win right now and it’s good. Carey Price played like he has for most of the season aside from the past six disasters. He was in form, often spectacular, and the boys blocked shots, a few posts got hit, and they got the puck out and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Brandon Prust opened the scoring in the first period, he played with vim and vigour in that first frame, and Brendan Gallagher in a scramble in the crease made it 2-0 before the siren to end the first was sounded. Max Pacioretty widened it to 3-0 in the second, that was all they needed.

Hard work and Carey Price took care of the rest.

Price held the fort when called upon, and the boys have the heat taken off them for a brief time. They just have to play well on Thursday to keep the mood light.  And to keep themselves from falling further down the standings.

And of course to keep us happy, which is the most important thing.

It’s a time for us to enjoy a fine win by the boys. Lord knows we deserve it.

Random Notes:

Canadiens went 0/2 on the power play, but only took three penalties, all in the second, which is mighty fine discipline if you ask me. But they have to get that power play going.

Carolina outshot the gang 36-30, but Price didn’t get that first star for nothing.

So nice not to hear sarcastic boos because of lack of shots. Canadiens got 10 shots in the first, 11 in the second, and just nine in the third, but they only allowed 8 Carolina shots in the final frame.

Nathan Beaulieu seemed to play with confidence and skated well. A great skating, puck moving defenceman is a beautiful thing and hopefully Beaulieu continues on this upward path.

 

Panthers Chew Habs

Canadiens scored three goals Sunday in Sunrise. Unfortunately, only one counted as the gang that can’t shoot straight falls 4-1 to the Florida Panthers.

Florida opened the scoring in the first when Mac Pacioretty’s hard shot missed the net and the home team burst down and converted.

It was one of those things on a night when the hockey gods decided they liked the Florida Panthers better than the Montreal Canadiens. Must be the sun hockey gods.

Gods with tans.

Bad things happen when good chances are ruined by missing the net. It often leads to a turnover. Guys are caught out of position. There’s no rebound. And of course there’s no goal.

I had a friend years ago who consistently asked why so many NHLers miss the net. Because they’re going for miniscule openings, is the answer.

But I’m tired of that reasoning. Just blast away and try to break the goalie’s mask or jock strap.

The Canadiens tied it for a brief second after Brian Gionta fed Rene Bourque, but it was deemed a high stick by Gionta and was called off. So two guys who haven’t been doing much almost did but ultimately didn’t.

The second period was truly a dismal one for the Canadiens, although Brandon Prust scored to tie the game at one for a brief time. But soon enough it became 3-1, and it was good when the period ended. It was when one might say to oneself – the Habs have played some lousy hockey lately.

In the third, Daniel Briere scored to make it 3-2 and we came alive. For a second or two. The goal was disallowed because the officials decided Alex Galchenyuk had pushed the goalie.

On the replay, we saw that Galchenyuk had been pushed into the goalie. It’s a big difference.

So it remained 3-1 until an empty-netter which made it 4-1.

Two of a possible four points in the state of Florida. It falls short of expectations.

Random Notes:

Officials get it wrong from time to time in all sports. Games are fast and decisions are made quickly. Some get obvious calls wrong. There was a call at second base in this year’s World Series that was mind-boggling, but at least it was overturned when the umps got together and talked about it.

The Canadiens might have grabbed a point or two if the correct calls were made. But honestly, if this would’ve happened to Florida and not Montreal, I wouldn’t even be talking about it. I just want them to play better, whether they’re getting the calls or not.

Shots on goal – Florida 25, Montreal -22. Peter Budaj was in nets and was fine I suppose, although he couldn’t corral a rebound which put Florida up 2-1 at the time.

One more game in December. Raleigh on New Year’s Eve to tackle the Hurricane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davey Saves The Day

They almost blew it. But they didn’t.

David Desharnais did some nice work in overtime and ended a game that saw the Canadiens lead 3-0 in the first period, sit back, play soft, and let the Nashville Predators take over.

But Nashville didn’t take over quite enough, because they still lost.  And now the Habs begin their week long Christmas break on a winning note instead of of a loss where they blew a three-goal lead.

Three goals in 3.07 of the first period, with P.K. firing a missile from just inside the blueline, Max Pacioretty taking a nice pass from Brendan Gallagher and converting, and Tomas Plekanec redirecting a Brian Gionta pass.

Such a great lead. Only it wasn’t.

Maybe it was the enthusiasm shown by Nashville’s Matt Hendricks after his fight with Brandon Prust. CBC’s Gary Galley seemed to think so. Or maybe it was coming anyway.

The Preds had hit a couple of posts, owned the puck for large periods of time, and the Canadiens didn’t have the wherewithal to make things treacherous.

They need to get bigger. As if you haven’t heard that before.

In the second the lead was trimmed 3-1. Then with David Desharnais in the box, it became 3-2. You could see the Preds smell it. The momentum was theirs. And in the third, with P.K. off for tripping, it was tied and it was no surprise.

A bummer, but no surprise.

There were heartstopping moments, great saves by Carey Price, disorganized play by the guys in white, a soft and confused defence corps before and after Andrei Markov was banished to the dressing room for spouting off after being hit from behind, but when all said and done…..

David Desharnais provides the heroics and now they get a week off to reflect and probably agree that they should never have blown a three-goal lead in the first place.

Random Notes:

Canadiens were outshot 20-6 in the second period and 34-23 overall.

Daniel Briere had a couple of decent moments but one play stands out for me. In the third, he took his sweet time coming back and had a coffee and a smoke in the high slot, far from the enemy. Meanwhile, the Preds stormed the net and Briere simply wasn’t there to help. So lackadaisical. Like his heart’s not in it.

Next game – Saturday, Dec. 28, in Tampa Bay. The following night it’s over to the other side to play the Panthers in Sunrise.

Now we’ve got Christmas and the World Juniors to enjoy. And although the Canadiens are off for a week, I’m still here every day. Like a bad rash.

 

 

Fourth Line’s Turn

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Brandon Prust, Ryan White, and Travis Moen enjoyed a fine game Saturday night as the Canadiens downed the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in front of folks of all ages, sizes, religious beliefs, good hair, bad hair, and Luci and I.

How nice it is to see the fourth line chip in in a big way. If the guys with good hands aren’t getting it done, the grinders step up. That’s how teams win. When the usual suspects are flat, others aren’t. It’s why teams are called teams.

And even though the boys could have easily blown it to the basement dwelling Sabres, they didn’t, which is the bottom line.

Five straight wins. They’ve caught Pittsburgh in the east for top of the pops. Winning while not exactly setting the world on fire. I wish we were still downtown right now celebrating.

Personally speaking, what an excellent day. This is what living in Montreal can be about. If you want my advice, I say move to Montreal. How hard could it be? Just do it and then we can all eat smoked meat and get lost together.

A fine day, capped off by the Habs winning. I just wish I could figure out a straight and easy route back to the south shore. It seems I can’t, no matter how many times I try.

We parked under the Sun Life Building ($7) early in the afternoon, walked down Ste. Catherines Streets to Bishop, had a Guinness at the Irish Embassy Pub, then headed to the gigantic Bay where I sat in women’s wear for 45 minutes while Luci checked things out, and I have to tell you, if you think it’s a piece of cake hanging out in the bra department, then you’ve never done it.

It sounds good but trust me, it’s not.

Being in this women’s world is like being on a different planet. Women all over the place, strolling around with underwear in their hands. It’s not something I want to do again anytime soon. I’m still recovering.

So many different kinds of brassieres hanging all over the place. Hundreds of them. Like walking in to a Nevada brothel. Or Kim Kardashian’s closet.

After the Bay, it was over to Reuben’s for smoked meat, then down to the Bell Centre to chat with scalpers where we got an idea of things, didn’t rush into anything, left and sat in McLean’s Pub for awhile where we came up with a plan of attack.

Then we went back and scored two tickets in the last row of the section 103, close to cost price, and which were near the blueline with the steps to our seats right in front of us so we had nobody blocking our view and could even stretch our legs.

Something like what flying first class must be all about.

Going to the Bell might be old hat for you, but not for us, mainly because we lived 3000 miles away up until recently. But it was a beautiful evening, the boys won, and I don’t care that P.K. has seen much better nights and the team in general looked quite lousy. At least we saw them lousy live.

It’s two points, and we savored the experience from start to finish – the siren, the anthem, the sound of puck hitting stick and boards, the crazy bunch up in the nosebleeds, the flag kids, the sights and smells all around us, the salty popcorn, and for me – the abundance of urinals in the men’s room not far away.

Random Notes:

Andrei Markov seemed to hurt his knee but finished the game. But it was scary to see and hopefully he doesn’t wake up tomorrow and it’s ballooned to twice the size.

Buffalo outshot Canadiens 25-19. The Sabres’ second goal saw a guy named Girgensons waltz around P.K. with the greatest of ease. P.K. also took a “holding the stick” penalty which is an infraction that makes me cringe. Hate those penalties. C’mon P.K., smarten up.

Brandon Prust and Tomas Plekanec both had a goal and assist, Travis Moen had a couple of assists, Ryan White added an assist, and Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner which caused a young lady above us to scream like she was at a Beatles concert.

Next up – Kings on Tuesday at the Bell, which should prove interesting. Will the Canadiens pick their game up a notch or two? And who will be the next lucky couple to sit in section 103, row w, seats 3 and 4?

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A Tired Team Triumphs

They were a tired bunch that skated out for the third period, leading by a goal but with the gas gauge way below empty.

They’d played the night before, and two nights before that. The other team hadn’t played since Saturday. And the other team was good, and leading the division.

And of course you know how it ended. The Montreal Canadiens blocked shots, relied on Carey Price, got lucky, held on, did what they had to do, and that late second period goal by Max Pacioretty became the winner and the Habs now find themselves in the Atlantic Division penthouse after taking the slow but sure elevator up for the past three weeks.

It makes my heart soar like a souped-up Snowbird.

Random Notes:

Praying that Johnny Boychuk is okay. The Edmonton-born Bruins forward was rammed hard into the end boards by Max Pacioretty and taken off on a stretcher. And although Max was given a two minute boarding penalty, I watched the replay twice afterwards and truly feel it wasn’t nastiness on Max’s part. It was a hockey play that went bad in a big way.

We need Boychuk back, Bruin or not. I’m sure the guy has a nice young family, and he and them and everyone close to him must be going through quite a time right now.

I’m hoping to wake up tomorrow morning and hear that’s he’s fine.

The Bruins had taken a 1-0 lead in the first but Tomas Plekanec found the short side in the second, and then Max fired a backhand that would’ve made the Rocket proud, and which would ultimately sink the Bruins.

Brandon Prust has been feisty lately, has turned his leadership dial up another notch, as we see on 24 CH, and on this night tangled with rugged Shawn Thornton in a bit of a slow motion bout. Two cool and calm customers adjusting their pads and jerseys and making things just right before grabbing on and getting the odd punch in.

George Parros might as well have not even dressed. Or maybe just his presence kept things in check.

Boston outshot the Canadiens 33-27.

Next up – Saturday, when the Canadiens host the Sabres. Not sure yet but Luci and I just may be there.