Tag Archives: Brendan Gallagher

Second Round Coming Up!

At a loss for words here but I’ll give it the old college try.

Max, with 43 seconds left, sends our Montreal Canadiens into the second round and I’m numb and left exhausted. And it’s only the first round.

A sweep over the pesky Tampa Bay Lightning. Two periods of perfect hockey where the team would take a nice 3-1 lead, then a slight letdown in the third and the Lightning would tie it.

But Max, who couldn’t buy a goal for the past week or two, shoved it under Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis for the winner and all’s well in Habsland.

What a sport hockey is. Especially when the good guys give us an incredibly serious bang for the buck so to speak.

The agony and the ecstasy.

Moving on to round two.

A team playing with passion and drive.

Rene Bourque coming alive and again a supreme force. He never lived up to expectations after coming over in the Cammalleri trade. Until now. And in a big way.

Lars Eller, criticized frequently this season, especially on talk radio, coming through again and being the smooth and effective forward we’d only seen glimpses of this season.

Daniel Briere proving he’s a big time money player.

Everyone contributing, all the way down the line, with tonight’s goals from Briere, Eller, Gally, and then Max, which is a goal from each of the four lines.

And although the Vanek, DD, Max line was on the quiet side, Vanek would assist (along with P.K.) on Max’s winner. So the points from the line came anyway.

Imagine how proud papa Ray Pacioretty, sitting in the stands, must be.

The team was unreal in the first and second period, creating rush after rush, skating like the wind, checking Tampa to a standstill, clearing the net, making the right passes, doing all the right things.

I watched them play like that and I saw a real team. A team that takes a back seat to no one.

Now it’s a week’s wait. That’s fine. It’s going to take me that long to recuperate.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bolts 37-23.

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Push Tampa To The Edge

Whew. That was stressful. But the boys prevailed, edge the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2, take a 3-0 lead in the series, and I’ll bet the bars and restaurants in downtown Montreal were rockin’ afterwards.

Of course, more will be said about a controversial non-goal by the Lightning than the fact that the Canadiens never panicked and held the fort when Tampa picked it up a few notches in the second and third period.

Frankly, the disallowed goal was a tough judgement call, there was some interference with Carey Price, although it might have had nothing to do with the puck going in.

The bottom line for me is, the Canadiens have their fair share of calls go against them in games over the years. Every team has. It’s hockey, the game is over, the boys won, we feel good, and that’s that.

It was a barnburner for sure. From the pre-game light show that began with the Stanley Cup banners lighting up one by one, to the amazing display on the ice of past and present players and voices, of Rocket hugging the Cup, Beliveau celebrating, Lafleur charging up the ice, and guys on the present team going full-tilt.

There was the kid wearing number 9, lighting things up with the torch. And legendary Ginette Reno belting out Oh Canada.

It’s the kind of thing only Montreal can do. With Habs haters grudgingly admitting it’s done well here, although complaining about the Cup banners and Habs fans stuck in the glory days sort of thing I suppose.

Just eleven seconds in, after Madame Reno had belted out the anthem and the puck was dropped, Rene Bourque burst in and beat Anders Lindback and it was 1-0.

Pre-game goosebumps and an early goal that latecomers missed because they had one extra beer at the Peel Pub.

Bourque once again played a fine game, used his size and great skating ability, and was dangerous often. It only took him 83 games to wake up. Is that an NHL record?

Every year the playoffs produce an unsuspecting star, one we would never predict in a million years.

So far in this series it’s been Rene Bourque, the one many of us wanted out of town on the next stagecoach. He’s gone from dreadfully ineffective to hugely effective. Who knew?

The biggest problem on the night was the Canadiens inability to bulge the twine on a big four-minute power play in the first frame, although they looked good and moved the puck around well.

Looking good and moving the puck around doesn’t guarantee goals though. But it kind of bodes well for the future.

They couldn’t score on that four-minute power play, and in the second, Tampa, newly-invigorated and playing with desperation, would tie it up. And it was after that that the controversial no-goal decision was made that would have given the visitors a 2-1 lead but didn’t.

P.K. Subban then dazzled with a rush that brought him around the back of Tampa’s goal, sent the puck over to Brendan Gallagher, and it was a 2-1 Habs lead instead of the other way around.

Absolutely exciting period, edge of the seat type stuff, and the third would be too.

Tomas Plekanec would send his team into a two-goal lead but a Tampa long shot flew by a screened Carey Price, which made for a seriously nerve-wracking finish, ending with a sigh of relief for everyone except Lightning fans as the Canadiens squeeze it out 3-2, and the noose is tightened.

The vibes around Montreal today were extraordinary, even in St. Hubert. Hockey was in the air. The flags were flying. I can only imagine what it’ll be like leading up to Tuesday’s game four.

A  stranglehold on the series. Finish it off in four and practice the power play. It’s the one achilles’ heel on a team that is playing well overall. The Canadiens went 0-5 in this game, which is just about the norm nowadays.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot TB 31-29.

Max had some great chances to break out of his scoring drought, but remains snakebitten. It’s coming though. We know how it works with him. Often it’s a flukey goal that lights the fuse.

Injured Alex Galchenyuk must surely be wishing he was out there being a part of this.

 

 

 

 

 

Toppled In Tampa Bay

Not great this one. Blatant giveaways, a rash of penalties, a Lightning shorthanded goal.

3-1 Tampa Bay, ending the Canadiens five game winning streak. A solid game by them and far from solid from the visitors.

Except for one guy, Carey Price, who was unreal all night, diving and sprawling and throwing his glove and pads out and taking sure goals from the likes of Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell and a host of others.

Price kept it close and made it deceiving. The Canadiens were out of sorts and the score could’ve been embarrassing. So maybe we should close the book on this one and throw it in the fireplace.

More than anything it was the parade to the penalty box, with some deserved and some not, which is what you get when Chris Lee is working and the Habs are involved.

Lee’s dad is or must’ve been a hardcore Bruins or Leafs fan. Can there be any other explanation?

And those giveaways. Every period we saw loosey goosey puck handling that ended up with Price coming to the rescue. Except the time when David Deshanais gave the puck away on a power play, which ultimately was the winning goal for the Bolts.

Now we’re faced with a suspension, compliments of Douglas Murray landing a vicious elbow into the face of Michael Kostka, which brought the stretcher out but thankfully wasn’t needed.

Just one of those games where the Canadiens were often outplayed, they shot themselves in the foot a bunch of times, and the one saving grace from this is that the Lightning are probably slightly spooked by Price and he’ll be in their heads come playoff time.

The Habs are now officially in the playoffs, thanks to Washington and New Jersey losing, but it was only a matter of time anyway so no need to shout or sing ole.

Random Notes:

Habs lone goal was scored by Brendan Gallagher, his 19th of the season. Sure wish he would’ve slipped the puck over to Galchenyuk on that two-on-one late in the game though.

Tampa outshot the Canadiens 33-26, but it didn’t seem like a 33-26 game to me. Ben Bishop could’ve read The Hockey News for long stretches when his team was peppering Price.

Andrei Markov was hurt in the third and went to the room.

Next up – Friday in Ottawa to meet a team that still has a faint chance of making the postseason. So they’ll be hungry and the gang can’t let up because home ice advantage against the Lightning is still in question.

 

Price And Big Line Just Too Much

A period and a half of magic from the Desharnais, Max, Vanek line and solid netminding throughout from Carey Price added up to a 4-1 win over the Panthers in Florida, and the team just keeps rolling along.

A five-game game winning streak to end the month of March. Eight wins in nine games.

Just amazing what’s transpired. And in my book, more than anything it’s been Thomas Vanek who’s lit the fire.

The DD, Vanek, Max line combined for all four goals and seven points on the night, and so important is the fact that the team is finally getting serious close-in chances now, led mostly by Vanek.

Until he showed up, play seemed far too often on the perimeter, except for most nights when Brendan Gallagher crashed the net two or three times.

Now things are different. Play is down low on a more regular basis. And the power play, which often had been so feeble, has become much more of threat even when the lamp isn’t always lit.

Vanek knows what to do with the puck, the chemistry with his linemates is a sight to behold, and a dangerous line like that, combined with solid work and contributions from the other three lines, gives us a team transformed.

And yes, it was mostly all Panthers in the second half, outshooting the Canadiens 15-3 in the third period, but no matter, the Habs held a 3-1 lead before the empty netter, and they played to protect the lead, not pad it.

According to all sorts of folks, the Canadiens were supposed to fade in the stretch. And the opposite happened.

Random Notes:

Max’s two goals gives him 35 on the season, which is a tremendous season to be sure. Would love to see him reach 40, but with just six games to go, it’ll be tough but not impossible.

Plenty of high sticks to the face from the Panthers. More than what we’d normally see on most nights.

Panthers outshot Montreal 37-19.

The Eggs played well in the early going, but like most of the team, weren’t exactly burning things up later on. But that’s fine. The end justifies the means.

Scott Gomez played tonight for the Panthers. Hard to watch the guy. He triggers so many bad memories.

HNIC three stars went to Price, Max, and Vanek.

Tuesday, the guys head across state to visit the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it goes without saying that this is a big one. The team Montreal will meet in the opening round. The team they’re fighting it out with for home ice advantage in that round. And a win would make a solid statement for things to come.

Toronto lost to Detroit Saturday night, their eighth straight. Just an amazing meltdown by Toronto at the most important time in the season.  So glad I didn’t grow up a Leafs fan.

 

 

 

Bash Those Bruins

Huge game tonight in Boston with the Canadiens looking to end the Bruins 12-game win streak, grab a nice couple of points in the process, and show the Bruins and their fans that if they happen to meet the Habs in the post season, it might not be all that much fun.

The Canadiens beat the Bruins 2-1 in Montreal on December 5th with Carey Price in goal. It was also near the end of a red-hot stretch that saw the team take nine of ten games.

The gang also beat the Bruins in Boston on January 30th, this time with Peter Budaj in goal, and it was a night when they put it all together in impressive fashion. The DD, Patches, Gally trio skated miles, Michael Bournival was flying, Alexei Emelin and Milan Lucic were like two big bulls pounding each other in a ring, Rene Bourque had a ton of shots like on Saturday night in Toronto, Tuukka Rask was yanked midway through, and at the end, Bruins announcer Jack Edwards couldn’t stop crying.

Things would change on March 12 when the Bruins won 4-1 in Montreal, again with Budaj in goal. I distinctly recall that night being quite a bummer. Jack Edwards had an accident in the booth and had to borrow pants from an usher.

Now it’s the fourth and final meeting of the two, and I’m not crazy about this 12-game Bruins winning streak those rascals are enjoying. I like it so much better when Bruins fans are miserable.

Big game and as you can see, if you plan on going it’ll cost you an arm and a leg.

Garden

Habs Wrapped By Jackets

It just wasn’t enough on this night for the Montreal Canadiens as they fall 3-2 to the visiting Blue Jackets.

But spending half the third period in the penalty box didn’t help. Either did the shorthanded goal the Canadiens allowed in the first period.

But it’s over now and we move on and concentrate on Saturday’s meet and greet with the Leafs at the ACC.

The guys were good on the penalty kill though as the Blue Jackets went 0/8 on the power play and the Canadiens also killed a big 5 on 3 and a four minute high sticking infraction to Tomas Plekanec.

But too many penalties. Six to Columbus’ two in the last two periods, including a too-many-men, which always sucks.

They still managed to make a game o f it, even though the fine-looking Blue Jackets team had lots of chances which caused Carey Price to sprawl desperately all over the place far too often.

It was 1-0 Habs on the power play in the first period after Brendan Gallagher’s rebound hit a Columbus player and went in, and it became tied at two in the third period when Thomas Vanek once again got the crowd roaring after a nice one-timer set up by Max.

But Columbus would take the lead, hold it, and Montreal’s winning streak, which sat at three games, comes to an abrupt end.

Can’t win ‘em all.

Random Notes:

Columbus had lots of shots – 40 to 27, and the Canadiens kept it close anyway.

Lars Eller was awarded a penalty shot but failed to score. It would’ve tied it at that point, but Vanek would get it done not long after.

Max was in a fight with Ryan Johansen, Max’s fourth career fight and his first in 790 days. He also got the better of Johansen, who was dangerous all evening it seemed. This is a great young player, a B.C. boy from Port Moody, which is just east of Vancouver..

Next up – Toronto on Saturday. It goes without saying that the Canadiens need to grab two points and help drive another nail into the Leafs’ coffin.

 

Two Big Points In Buffalo

Dustin Tokarski and company blank the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 on Sunday night, and although it wasn’t a classic, the Canadiens were in control for the most part and they have to feel good about that.

Score four goals in less than five minutes on Saturday, and have their third-string netminder pull off a shutout on Sunday. That’s Habs magic to me.

Just a mighty successful weekend that sees the gang remaining nicely lodged in playoff shape instead of slipping and sliding and having us all wondering if the post season is in the cards or not.

The Canadiens, with this win, jump ahead of Toronto into second place in the Atlantic Division, bump Tampa Bay down to a wild card spot, and are a lofty third overall in the east.

Third overall. It’s amazing.

But there can be no serious faltering. That’s when we get mad at them and we hate that.

Both goals In Buffalo came midway through the first, with Dale Weise scoring his first as a Hab and Brendan Gallagher notching his seventeenth. And for Toker between the pipes, it was his first NHL shutout.

Now the task at hand is to prepare for Patrick and the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. How sweet it would be to win this and there’s no reason why they can’t.

The boys have picked it up, and although some fans are getting impatient with Thomas Vanek, I don’t think it should be the case.

Vanek’s getting solid chances, he and linemates DD and Max have been dangerous often, and whether or not he’s scored, a new and important dimension has been added with him in the lineup even though it’s not always obvious.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Sabres 32-28.

Lars Eller skated well and showed confidence. Same with Weise.

And speaking of confidence, PK certainly had his moments. Fine moments. In particular, one play late in the game when he dazzled with the puck on his feet and stick. If only he would’ve scored.

Toker Stones Ducks

Dustin Tokarski, in nets for the Canadiens for his very first time, came up big in stopping 39 of 42 shots as the boys beat the quackers 4-3 in a shootout and grab a massive two points and a ton of confidence.

Tokarski had previously seen big time duty in the NHL when he was between the pipes for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009-10  for two games and then another five in 2011-12, but he played like a seasoned pro in what must have been a nerve-wracking experience last night.

How great is it when your gold-medalist goes down, backup Budaj, fills in nicely, and then Budaj’s backup, Tokarski, also does his job in fine fashion.

It’s very satisfying for all concerned. Except for other teams and people who hate the Habs of course.

Montreal came out flying and took a big 2-0 lead on goals by Brian Gionta and Max with his 30th of the season (which is a fine season indeed).

Max has been playing on another level since returning from the Olympics. More fire, more jump, more confidence. At the perfect time of the year.

Things got slightly dismal in the second frame when a puck got behind a screened Tokarski, another hit a glass support and caromed in while Toker was preparing to corral it around the boards, and then after a terrible and confused Habs power play, the Ducks took the lead.

At this point, it all could have fallen apart like a great party raided by the cops, but credit to the Canadiens, they never gave up, and in the last minute of the second period, Brendan Gallagher banged it home and game was tied.

The game was scoreless in the third period and overtime, but in the shootout, Desharnais, Briere, and finally Andrei Markov beat Jonas Hiller and it made my heart soar like a Himalayan Snowcock.

This was a Habs team with good legs, with jump (aside from their zero for five power play attempts), and the many Habs fans at Anaheim’s Honda Center certainly must have enjoyed themselves.

I know I did, from the friendly confines of my apartment the morning after. I tried to stay up last night but my eyelids felt like they had pucks stapled to them.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Ducks 42, Habs 31

Lars Eller was a healthy scratch, and George Parros was given a small tribute on the screen, in which he gave a heartfelt response. George spent six seasons as a Duck.

A huge win. A road trip like this, against some of the league’s elite, seemed daunting, and although they lost a tight one (2-1) the other night in L.A., they came out with jump against the league leading Ducks, played well, and won the thing.

This has to be great for their confidence, and with Weaver and Vanek poised to join their new team, who knows? Maybe a great march onwards and upwards is in the making.

Coyotes on the agenda tonight (9:00 pm ET), and we’re expecting the same jump and character as we just saw. So c’mon boys, keep it up.

 

Canadiens Win In A Shootout

Surprisingly, the Habs downed the Pens 6-5 in a shootout at the flightless bird barn, thanks to David Desharnais solving Marc-Andre Fleury and Peter Budaj stopping James Neal, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeny Malkin.

That’s what it came down to after an odd game that saw Montreal win even though Budaj, before the shootout, was often shaky and visions of Carey Price danced through my head.

Lots of scoring from both sides, the boys replied whenever the Pens took the lead, and I’ll take these two points in a New York minute, even though once again, it wasn’t the most impressive display.

Weird and mildly entertaining, but not overly impressive.

Brendan Gallagher broke the ice in the first period following early pressure by the Canadiens, but James Neal tied it when the puck trickled by Mr. Budaj.

Then, when a shot sailed over Budaj’s shoulder for a 2-1 Pens lead, the future didn’t look bright. In fact, I was wondering if backup Dustin Tokarski would be up to the task.

But Budaj stayed in and the game unfolded.

In the second frame, Daniel Briere, playing on the fourth line with Moen and Parros, tied things at two, but the seesaw battle would continue.

Pittsburgh went ahead with Lars Eller was in the box, but Max on the power play evened it again. It was going good. Then P.K. found himself in Michel Therrien’s bad books for about the tenth time this year it seems.

Of course, P.K. screwed up magnificently.
A Habs power play.
P.K. dangling with the puck.
P.K. getting stripped of said puck by Brandon Sutter..
Sutter scoring a shorthanded breakaway goal to put his team ahead 4-3 and PK in the doghouse.

Fodder for Michel Therrien to sit P.K. down for the rest of the game.

But all was not lose. Alexei Emelin, with his second goal of the year, sent a wrist shot from the blueline to tie the thing at four apiece.

And the weirdness kept on coming.

With Emelin in the box on a truly borderline call, the Pens went ahead 5-4, but then Tanner Glass was sent off for five minutes for elbowing Emelin, and Daniel Briere, with his second goal of the night, tied it at five.

After a scoreless overtime, it took DD to end it and give his team two big points.

Was it a good game? It had more stuff, the scoring was there, and they pulled it out. So I suppose, after my whining about lack of effort and no shots or goals, this was a stunning success.

Only seven more tough games in a row to go.

Random Notes.

The Pens outshot the Habs 32-29.

Throughout the five minute overtime, P.K. watched from the sidelines. I think Galchenyuk and Briere too. Galchenyuk was hustling and Briere had two goals and an assist, so the coach’s reasoning is a head-scratcher.

I hate all the freaking so-called lessons Therrien likes to teach different players. In fact, I’m sick of it. Especially when they’re trying to win a big game and these guys have the tools to do it.

In other news, Lars Eller was not Jean Beliveau on this night.

Jarred Tinordi hasn’t made the impact so far that Nathan Beaulieu did in his pre-Olympic stint.

Leafs in town on Saturday. No predictions here. Predictions are for gypsies.

 

 

Dumped By Detroit

The Canadiens showed life for five minutes in a sixty-five minute game, fall 2-1 to Detroit in overtime, and they grab a point whether they deserve one or not.

And how important that point might be.

This is the first of nine tough games in a row for the Habs, it’s make or break time, and if they don’t play better in most of the next eight, they just may find themselves outside looking in at a playoff spot.

It’s going to be a tough stretch, points will be tougher than John Ferguson to come by, and although they were flatter than a pancake in this first game after the Olympics, Brian Gionta gave his team a point when he netted one with 29 seconds left in the third and fans got at least a little bit of their money’s worth.

Detroit wasn’t great, but the Canadiens, at least until they woke up after the Gionta goal, were worse.

But it’s a point nonetheless. And now it’s Pittsburgh in a few hours.

We’ll see how this whole thing plays out in the next two weeks. But one thing’s for sure – they have to show more life than they did tonight or the fall won’t be pretty.

The pre-game introduction of Olympians and the crowd singing the anthem was a high. After that, things got very low.

Random Notes:

Brendan Gallagher, PK, and Alex Galchenyuk had their moments for a few seconds here and there. All in all though, no one did a whole lot of dazzling.

P.K. found himself in the box a couple of times for questionable penalties – one for a little swat, one for was was deemed a dive, and Peter Budaj came up big from time to time as Detroit outshot the Canadiens 30-20.

Not an overly impressive night to say the least.

Pittsburgh coming up.