Tag Archives: Brian Gionta

Summer Notes From Habsville

A number of things happened Habs-wise this summer, the most surprising being I was able to decipher the notes I’d made regarding the things that happened Habs-wise this summer.

Gone are Daniel Briere, Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Tomas Vanek, Ryan White, Douglas Murray, George Parros, and anthem singer Charles Prevost Linton.

Francis Bouillon, at this writing, remains stranded on the desert island named Limbo. Douglas Murray’s island is slowly sinking. George Parros’ island is somewhere near the lost continent of  Atlantis.

White now finds himself in Philadelphia where one of his jobs will be to protect captain Claude Giroux from grabbing police officers’ buttocks, and Bouillon’s future seems secure. If he doesn’t find a hockey job, the City of Montreal is ready to step in and make him a fire hydrant.

Auditions are now in process for the anthem singing gig. Unfortunately, management, with a somewhat prickly attitude, has informed me that I’m not allowed to be singer AND stick boy.

Forward P.A. Parenteau, from Colorado in exchange for Briere, is now part of the family, and Gorges and Gionta aren’t, as the two UFAs were picked up by Buffalo, a place Gionta is probably happy about being. Gorges, maybe not as much, considering it’s Buffalo.

Parenteau is 31 and hopefully more effective than Briere, who is on the verge (Oct. 7th) of becoming 37. Gorges’ passion and shot blocking will be missed. Gionta’s captaincy will be replaced in a year or two, and until then, Max, Markov, Pleks and P.K. will serve as assistant captains.

In the spirit of fairness, Markov, with the most seniority, should be the one to accept the Stanley Cup from Mr. Bettman next spring.

Signings this summer involved free  agents Manny Malhotra (1-year, from Carolina), Tom Gilbert (2-years, from Florida), and goaltender Joey MacDonald (1-year, from Calgary). And Jiri Sekac from the KHL Lev Praha squad signed a two-year entry level deal.

Those with new contracts include P.K. Subban, at 9 million a year for 8 years. Apparently there is no truth to the rumour that P.K. has bought the Sun Life Building in downtown Montreal to use as his winter residence, so you can stop thinking about that.

Regulars Andrei Markov (3 years), Dale Weise (2-year extension), Mike Weaver (1 year), Lars Eller (4 years), and coach Michel Therrien (4-year extension), also penned their names on paper.

Chosen in the 2014 Entry draft, 26th overall, was Moscow-born Nikita Scherbak, who looks, speaks, and plays like a young Alex Galchenyuk, who’s a grizzled old guy now.

Assistant coach Gerard Gallant is now the head guy in Florida and replaced by Montreal native Dan Lacroix.

Lacroix helped out behind the Rangers bench last year, and if it was he who advised the despicable Chris Kreider to run Carey Price and then Dustin Tokarski, he should be hung by the thumbs outside a Bell Centre window for several hours, and then be forced to teach our guys (aside from Brendan Gallagher) how to run goalies too.

Player Development guru Patrice Brisebois leaves and replaced by former NHLer Rob Ramage. And Trevor Timmins has had the title “Vice President of Player Personnel” added to his “Director of Amateur Scouting” handle.

Timmins is widely respected, particularly in Northern Ontario where they named a small city after him.

Former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, an ultra-talented battler if there ever was one, retired after 1124 regular season games played, with his last 5 seasons in Anaheim and 13 years and one lockout season with Montreal before that. Thank you Saku, for all you did for the Montreal Canadiens and the city. Which was plenty.

And finally, Mensa member Brad Marchand mentioned that he dislikes Tomas Plekanec quite a bit. “Anybody who spells “Thomas” without  an “H” is a rotten bastard”, said Brad.

Other things could happen in the days and weeks too. If so, just mentally paste them to this.

Marc Talks About Things

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin met with the press on Monday and didn’t say a lot  but mentioned the core players are maturing but the team in general isn’t mature yet like Chicago and Los Angeles are.

He said there will be more ups and downs, but the team is well on track.

Nice to hear. And we already knew all that. Ups and downs, on track, good core players.

He said Dale Weise was allowed to return and play after getting thumped by John Moore because all the tests looked to be normal, and it wasn’t until the next day that they realized he was concussed.

He looked pretty concussed to me on the TV screen. Wobbly and goofy, just like George Parros, Travis Moen, and Michael Bournival looked when they got clocked. PK had to give him a bear hug to hold him up.

If the test machines said he was fine, I’d be looking to buy new test machines. If the doctors and trainers said he was fine, I think Weise paid them off.

One of the guys Bergevin did single out as playing hard was Brian Gionta, which must be some sort of sneaky ploy. Make Gionta feel wanted and want to stay, and then cut the salary in half. Or something like that.

He played hard, he just didn’t make much of an impact. I’d rather have an impact guy. Put me in a uniform and I’d play hard too. Harder than anybody. I wouldn’t get anything done and I might fall down a lot, but I’d play hard.

For me though, it’s much different about Gionta. I think either Gionta should go, or if he stays it’s for a bargain rate and the captain’s ‘C’ comes off.

Why do I want the ‘C’ off? I don’t even know the guy. Maybe he’s a great captain. I don’t care about that. I don’t want a non-productive wee little guy leading my team.

If I’m going to have a small captain that I can be proud of, I want one like 5’7 Henri Richard or 5’7 Yvon Cournoyer. Guys who play with burning fire and also produce.

Otherwise, I want a bigger captain. Crazy eh?

Really though, at this stage of the game, I think the one big change I’d make sooner than later would be the announcing of the new assistant to the assistant to Head Equipment Manager Pierre Gervais.

Stick boy.

Thank You Carey!

An outstanding display from Carey Price. Brilliant from start to finish, stopping 48 of 51 shots, including a plethora of tough ones, and the Canadiens take the opener in Boston.

It was PK Subban, with his second power play goal of the game, hitting the back of the net in the second overtime to give his team a huge 4-3 win.

They were outplayed but they weren’t outscored, which is the basic rule of the game. The team that scores most, wins.

And they weren’t always outplayed, it just seemed like it. Tuukka Rask had to come up big often.

The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first with a blueline wrist shot from PK with the man-advantage, and the team, after weathering an early onslaught, settled down and picked it up a notch.

In the second, Rene Bourque made it 2-0 on a pass from Lars Eller, and Price was magnificent throughout, especially during a Bruins power play that was ridiculous in the fury seen around the net.

The Bruins took charge. They slammed bodies, stormed the net, kept coming, rang pucks off posts, came close far too often, kept the puck in the Canadiens end for several heart-stopping days and weeks  it seemed.

Often I couldn’t look.

Our man stood tall though, before, during, and after.  Price stole it for his team, but brilliant playoff goaltending is a time-honoured tradition, and legends are slowly carved from performances like this.

Not only did he help his team win, but he might have started the process of being in the Bruins’ heads. Maybe they’ll toss and turn all night, thinking of what might have been. Maybe they’ll think about storming the net on Saturday. Maybe they’ll start to question their ability to beat this guy.

And if they think they should be more forceful,  they’ll remind themselves that the Canadiens bulged the twine twice on the power play and they’ll have to think twice about being more physical.

Maybe they’ll blow their minds from thinking too much. Although Brad Marchand doesn’t have to worry about that.

For a hundred years, goalies have been saving the day on special nights, and on Thursday in Boston, it was Price’s turn. But he’ll need to do it again and again, although hopefully the players in front of him will decide to keep the puck in the other end more often than game one.

Another rule of the game. Keep the puck in the other end as much as possible.

The Bruins pushed hard in the third and would tie it at two, and the game became as intense as most seventh games. To win the first would be huge. Blowing a two-goal lead was already disappointing. Losing the opener would be a painful blow.

After regaining the lead on a shot by Francis Bouillon, the Bruins would tie it again with just 1:58 left in the third. A horrible turn of events. Sometimes I wonder if my old ticker can handle this sort of thing.

No scoring in the first overtime, Price continued to be sensational, and after Matt Bartkowski took a holding penalty at 4:10 of the second overtime, PK blasted it home just seven seconds later.

I’m sure Jack Edwards had lots to say about that.

And isn’t it lovely that the one player that Bruins players, fans and media consider the most despicable was the one who settled things. Has to be a hockey god thing. Thank you PK, for scoring the winner and wounding Bruins fans.

A huge game-one win. The Canadiens’ fifth straight playoff victory. Carey Price held the fort.

Random Notes:

The DD, Vanek, Max line was ineffective all evening but that should change. The Punch Line had off-nights too.

The Eller, Bourque, Gionta trio was Montreal’s best, and aside from Price and Subban’s heroics, my choice for best skater on the night for the good guys was Lars Eller. He skated well, made smart decisions, and had several fine chances. The same could be said for Rene Bourque. They picked up where they left off from the Tampa series. Many wondered if they could. And they did.

Brendan Gallagher came to play too. But many were quiet and we’re expecting a different story in game two.

Goal scoring recap – PK, Bourque, Bouillon, and PK.

Final shots on goal after four periods and four minutes – Boston 51, Montreal 33.

Next game – Saturday at 12:30 pm eastern. A lot of people hate afternoon games. I don’t mind them as much as many, but I’m not overly crazy about them either.

I suppose I’m used to early starts after living on the West Coast for so many years. For West Coasters, Saturday’s game is at 9:30 am, which truly sucks.

 

Weise Ends It

Dale Weise would score at 19:08 of of the first overtime frame to give his and our Montreal Canadiens a 5-4 win and and a nice one-game lead in what should be an outstanding series.

Fast paced, close, tense, some bad blood, and the right team winning. Now that’s hockey!

The Canadiens easily could have lost though, especially after allowing four goals on just fourteen shots. But thanks to some timely goals and Weise pulling the trigger, all’s well in Habsland.

Carey Price wasn’t particularly sharp, but the Canadiens were still able to get it done, even with him being slightly shaky, and the boys on this night outplayed Tampa for most of the first period, much of the second and third, and most of the overtime.

It was one of those nights that whenever play moved into Montreal’s end, the possibility was there that things could go south quickly. And four times it did.

But the Canadiens never let things get out of hand, they scored some timely goals, and that big first game is won by the team that should have and did.

Tampa had opened the scoring in the first period but just nineteen seconds later, Tomas Plekanec wired it home and the teams went to their rooms all even, although Montreal had outshot the Floridians 14-4.

In the second frame, not long after Brendan Gallagher took a puck in the throat from an Alexei Emelin shot from the blueline, Steven Stamkos would notch his first of two on the night and put his team ahead 2-1. Gallagher would return thankfully. But he might not be happy with Emelin.

Back and forth it went, playoff hockey at its finest, fans everywhere on the edge of their seats and couches I’m sure, and in the midst of scrums and battles, Brian Gionta would take a nice pass from Lars Eller and score a big shorthanded marker that caused Luci and I to yell and once again scare the cat that has happened far too often this year.

It’s going to be a long series for the cat.

The Canadiens would take the lead in the third period after Brian Gionta had corralled the puck at his blueline and got it to Lars Eller who danced up the ice and found the back of the net. A beautiful goal, and the Eller, Gionta and Bourque line skated well and created chances all evening. Hell, all the lines skated well I thought.

Sidenote: P.K. Stock said we have one good line and the other three suck. Just so you know.

One of my big dreams is to be rich enough so I could have spare TVs and whenever Stock comes on, I shoot the TV out the way Elvis used to.

Again the pesky Lightning would reply after a turnover, and the way Price was looking in nets, I experienced one of those strong sinking feelings that I’m really not crazy about.

Things would perk up though after Thomas Vanek converted a great pass from David Desharnais, but Steven Stamkos wasn’t through on the night as his second goal would even things at four apiece. Tampa’s captain is dangerous. Therrien’s gonna have to come up with a plan to calm this guy down down.

Sadly, Montreal’s power play continues to shoot blanks, and when they were given a power play with just 2:01 left in the third, the chance to win it was there on a silver platter. But again…..

Montreal’s man advantage at this stage of the year is confused and non-threatening. Throw out the power play drills they recently did in practice and come up with some new ones. Ask PJ Stock. Maybe he can help.

Overtime almost ended quickly when Max rang one off the post, and usually after something like that happens, the other teams scores. But Tampa didn’t, Dale Weise did, and at that point, I breathed a sigh of relief and now my heart is soaring like a Tawny-Headed Mountain-Finch.

Game two on Friday. Without sounding like a greedy bastard, another win would be good.

Habs outshot Tampa 44-25 on the night.

Gionta Wins It And Team Reaches 100!

No goals through three periods.

Brian Gionta tripped up on a breakaway in overtime by ex-Hab Raphael Diaz, awarded a penalty shot, and comes through to give his team and us a huge 1-0 win.

The regular season is finished, the Canadiens reach a very impressive 100 points, and now the real season begins. The 82 games were only a lengthy warm-up act.

And the boys finished it off in dramatic fashion.

I wasn’t a Gionta backer throughout most of the year. He hasn’t been overly effective in my mind. He’s been a reminder of the smurf days. It seems Josh Gorges has been more of captain material.

But Gionta has come through often in the last while. He’s worked hard, has popped a few, and has shown leadership, which he should, considering he wears the captain’s “C”.

So now I’m proud of Gionta. As the season wound down, he cranked it up. And on Saturday night he was also awarded the important Jacques Beauchamp trophy for being an unheralded key guy on the team.

Luci and I decided against the Irish pub to watch the game because we found another down the street with a giant screen. Again a sensational night in Quebec City where we encountered nothing but friendly folk in an incredibly cool Old Quebec.

I had a bunch of beer, though, so this is what passes for my game post for the final game of the season. Hic.

Shots on goal – Blueshirts 41, Habs 27. Carey Price voted game’s first star.

Tomorrow we cheer for Washington in their game against Tampa Bay.

Great talking to you.

Hic.

Mighty Fine Adventure

I said I’d continue later and that’s what I’m doing. Continuing.

I was in downtown Montreal early,  Danno and his clan wouldn’t show up from Ottawa for another couple of hours , so as I like to do, I walked the streets. And soon I heard excited voices on loudspeakers and people cheering.

I’d stumbled upon a Parti Quebecois rally in a park, and so I stopped and joined them.

Take away the signs and the voices explaining to the freezing crowd how great it would be if Quebec separated, the folks all seemed quite normal for being such treasonous, brainwashed enemies of the country.

Then I left because I didn’t belong. I’m a Canadian.

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Onwards to Ste-Catherine St. where it began to snow, and I stopped for coffee at Nickles. From the window I saw many of the people who were at the rally walking by with their signs. They can only talk about breaking up the country when it’s warmer.

Down Ste. Catherines to another park where a bunch of people were having pillow fights, which was much more normal than being at a Parti Quebecois rally.

Then it was down to meet Danno and his dad and brother, and we went for pizza and then to the game.

And what a tremendous game to be at. Detroit is a skating club, as Montreal certainly can be, and it made for back and forth, clean and skilled action. Emelin thumped, Price was sharp, the DD line brought extra doses of buzz when they jumped over the boards, and the team found themselves with a nice 3-0 lead.

One of my favourites guys, Michael Bournival, opened the scoring in the first, Max would get his 39th of the season in the second, with the third scored shortly after by Brian Gionta.

It was happy times for almost all concerned. Not for Danno’s brother Bob and others, but for most of us.

And it was just after my mentioning out loud that a fourth goal would be nice, along with the fact that it seems that on many nights now Carey Price stands a fine chance of blanking the opposition, that Detroit scored three quick ones and it was tied.

Rarely do you see me as animated as when Gionta would notch his second of the night late in the third and Alex Galchenyuk get the insurance marker. I looked like a separatist in a park trying to break up the country.

It was certainly a terrific night to be at the Bell. The crowd was loud, the game was fast and at times tense, and being with the Danno clan was a joy.

Afterwards it was beer at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel bar, and then I hopped on a bus and made my way home.

Vive Les Canadiens. Vive Canada.

Random Notes:

39 goals for Max. So great. And 40 is such a nice round number.

Wings outshot the Habs 37-26.

Quebecois Olympians at Sochi were introduced before the game, which was beautiful. Someday when I’m an Olympian I hope to be introduced at the Bell too.

Habs prospect Tim Bozon, looking great after his meningitis ordeal, was in the crowd and waved. Great to see.

Next up – Habs travel to Chicago for a date with the Hawks on Wednesday.

Below, Danno’s dad, brother Bob, and Danno enjoying nectar of the gods after pizza.

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March 15th Madness

The Canadiens were in the midst of a three-game losing streak, scoring just three total goals in losses to Phoenix, San Jose, and Boston.

The Senators would be up next, in a game at the Bell on March 15th, but from the first drop of the puck it seemed the Habs had turned over a new leaf, with Daniel Briere scoring just 38 seconds in and many others coming close on several chances not long after.

The Canadiens looked like they truly had put aside the three losses and were about to get back on course.

Slowly but surely though, Ottawa began to take it to the Montrealers who seemed confused and disorganized after that good opening frame. It quickly became Ottawa’s game, and as the third period wound down, the Senators held a comfortable 4-1 lead and the Canadiens slump would soon reach four.

Ottawa fans smiled. Trickles of fans at the Bell slowly made their way to the exits. Another loss and again no offense from the Canadiens, with just one goal scored.

But at the 16:38 mark of the third, Lars Eller would send the puck past Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner to make it 4-2, although it was too late for any thought of a real comeback. Just not enough time. And they’d been outplayed.

Just over a minute later, at 17:56, that Brian Gionta would suddenly make it a 4-3 game, and eyes and ears perked up. What’s this? Could they score again?

And when Ottawa took a last-minute penalty and Carey Price went to the bench for an extra attacker, the impossible suddenly seemed downright possible.

And it was, with David Desharnais tying it with less than a second to go. And just 1:26 into overtime, Francis Bouillon bulged the twine and sent Sens players and fans to bed cursing.

Tonight these teams play again, in Ottawa this time, and will the mood be ugly? Will the Sens be an ornery team looking for revenge after their collapse at the Bell?  Has a growing and heated rivalry been thrust into another gear, with bad blood now overflowing?

Can the Canadiens beat them and put what should be the final nail in the Sens playoff hopes?

Canadiens want home ice in the opening round of the playoffs. They also want no one getting hurt. Tonight’s an important game for all concerned.

 

 

 

Habs Hurt Leafs

Canadiens top the Leafs 4-3 at the ACC that should have fans leaving the building feeling they got their money’s worth, and which keeps the Habs train rolling and the Leaf apple cart tottering on the edge of the cliff.

It was a back and forth affair, a bunch of posts behind Carey Price were hit, just two penalties were called for each team on the night, and it was tense going in the final minutes when the Leafs pulled James Reimer and the Habs were holding on.

Montreal looked like they were going to burst it wide open in the first when Max and Rene Bourque both beat Reimer on his glove hand, and maybe a third goal would have really got the ball rolling considering Reimer’s fragile confidence.

But credit to Reimer. He came up with some great saves after those two goals, the game never got out of hand, and the Leafs battled back to tie it until a late first period goal by Brian Gionta made it 3-2 Habs.

Scoreless in the second, and then the obnoxious Nazem Kadri was left open at the side of the net and banged it home to tie things at three.

It was nerve wracking to be sure, and heart-stopping when sniper Phil Kessel waltzed in on Carey Price. But Price would stop Kessel, and soon after Tomas Plekanec converted some nice passing from Markov and P.K. and the boys held on and got it done.

Rene Bourque contributed a goal and assist on this night after being a healthy scratch for the last five games, and he played with rare passion. So much so that HNIC named him the game’s first star.

Imagine that. Rene Bourque. Can he do it again two nights from now?

Speaking of HNIC, the intermissions were all Leafs, all the time. Leafs, Leafs, Leafs. This is one of the main reasons I grew up hating the white and blue. Rarely a mention of the Canadiens.

And at the end of the game, Glenn Healy proclaimed that the Leafs were the much better team on the night, even though Montreal outshot Toronto in the first two periods, the shots overall were even at 36 each, and the Habs won the game.

What the Leafs did win was in the hits department, with 37 to Montreal’s 18.

Dion Phaneuf tried to get rough with little David Desharnais, and considering the way Phaneuf fights, this was a fair matchup.

A great win, the screws are tightening on the Leafs, and the Canadiens are jockeying for a nice playoff seeding. It’s also Toronto’s fourth straight loss which adds to the festivities!

Now it’s Monday in Boston for Les Glorieux when they meet a Bruins team that’s racked up 12 straight wins. But all streaks must eventually come to an end. Like on Monday.

 

Saturday Night Fever

Leafs

It the Habs and Leafs at the Toronto barn, and of course the Habs need to clean the Buds’ clocks.

I shouldn’t even have to mention it.

As it stands, just six points separate the Canadiens from playoffs and no playoffs, and for the Leafs, it’s three points between them and being gone.

But it’s not about the Leafs, it’s about the Canadiens. The Leafs losing is only a bonus.

The Leafs are having goaltending issues. Their best guy, Jonathan Bernier, is on the sidelines with a groin injury, and backup James Reimer, who feels he isn’t a backup but is (just ask coach Randy Carlyle), will probably be between the pipes and the Habs have to pound away.

Toronto’s also lost their last three – to Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Washington, so hopefully they’re in the midst of a big time implosion. It’s up to the Habs to keep this Leafs free fall going.

You just never know with this Leafs team, especially when they play the Canadiens.

The bottom line is, it’s a game the Habs must win.

At Friday’s practice, Alex Galchenyuk centered a line with Brian Gionta and Rene Bourque.

Brandon Prust is gone for the remaining 11 games with an upper body injury.

Holy Mackerel, Habs Pull It Out!

Three goals by a down and out Habs team with just over three minutes left in the third, and then the winner in overtime.

I was getting set to rant and rave and now I won’t have to. Talk about going from upset to feelin’ good. Boom shakalacka!

The game at the Bell began in fine fashion for the Canadiens. Daniel Briere scored just 38 seconds in and the boys dominated the Sens, outshooting them 17-4 with Briere and Thomas Vanek getting several great chances, and others like DD having their moments too.

But aside from Briere’s marker, no one could score as usual, Ottawa got one, and we’ve seen this before. Burst out of the gate and slowly but surely the other team picks up steam when the game should’ve been out of reach.

It became the same old thing. Scoring dried up. Tiring to say the least.

No surprise when it became 2-1 in the second for Ottawa, who outplayed Montreal in the frame.

In the third, it was soon a depressing 3-1 and then 4-1. I was ready with my thoughts. Again they can’t score. They blew their chances. It was going to be four straight losses. The power play was a dismal 0-6. The EGG line at this point was -11.

And then it began. Like Pit Lepine, Sprague Cleghorn, the Rocket and all the gang pulling strings from above.

Lars Eller made it 4-2 at 16:38 of the third, and the team was still so far from a comeback that Eller didn’t dare crack a smile.

At the 17:56 mark, Brian Gionta bulged the twine and it was 4-3, and a small glimmer of hope became a large wheelbarrow full.

Finally, with a Senator in the box for misbehaving and Carey Price pulled to make it a 6 on 4 advantage, David Desharnais shot one over the hot-headed Robin Lehner with less than a second left and the game, miraculously, was tied.

And just 1:26 into overtime, Francis Bouillon won it for his team and us.

It’s hard to believe what we just witnessed. The Canadiens needed these two points badly, and they did it in such heart stopping fashion.

A great win, and have you ever seen such crying to the refs as the Sens did after the last couple of goals? You blew it, Ottawans. Suck it up.

Random Notes:

Marjo and her son were at this game, fifteen rows behind the Canadiens bench. Talk about a game to get tickets for, and I’m happy for them that they saw a mind blower.

Canadiens outshot Ottawa 48-34 on the night, but until the last three minutes, could only score one measly goal. But that’s all forgotten now. Sort of.

Carey Price had no chance on a couple at least, and it was reassuring to see him finally back on the job.

Healthy scratches included Parros, White, Bourque and Tinordi.

Onwards to Buffalo for a Sunday 7 pm game against the Sabres. Can’t wait to see how the Canadiens play after this whopper.