Tag Archives: Carey Price

How Sweet It Is! Except, Of Course, If You’re A Sabres Fan

It’s times like this when I wish I still lived back east. I can feel old-time hockey atmosphere, too thick to cut, drifting out of Montreal and parts beyond, and filtering right out here to the coast.

The Habs aren’t being stopped, eliminating the Buffalo Sabres tonight in a completely convincing, except for some brief moments in the third period, 3-1 win. And they won it in style, even with injuries, even with the northeast sewn up, because, like Alex Kovalev says, “a team starts the playoffs the way they end the season.” 

And the way they’re ending it is flabbergasting. Without Koivu, Komisarek, and Bouillon, the team’s plumbers have risen to the occasion, and are not only shutting down other teams in general, but they’re shutting down other teams’ powerplays as well. And elder plumber Brian Smolinski gets a pair of big goals and once again, proves with the others that Pierre McGuire and Bob McKenzie and the rest can eat their words, and in the process, should finally give some big-time credit to the Canadiens, which they’ve yet to do.

And Alex Kovalev, at 35 and playing like 25, creates magic like no one. He could have scored about four beauties tonight, he worked like crazy, he set up others, he joined frays to help teammates, and has picked up an important role with Koivu out, showing that he’s a natural leader. My respect for Kovalev continues to grow.

This is a special time for Habs fans, so let’s savour it. In other years, when they made the playoffs, they made it by the skin of their teeth. Not this year though. Somewhere along the line, this team became a powerhouse, and are still threatening to win the east overall.

And they aren’t sneaking in the back door this time. They’re smashing in the front door and storming in.

I’m still a little numb about what’s transpiring. I expect the Canadiens to do well every single year of course, but this year I had no idea the Kostitsyn brothers would become such a force, or Kovalev would prove he’s one of the top five players in the league in my opinion, or that Carey Price would carry the torch, or that Guy Carbonneau would mature so nicely as a coach, or that the Kostopoulos’ and the Smolinski’s and the Begins’ would do the job like they’ve never done before.

Oh, to be in Montreal at this time. To be at the Bell Centre on one of the many triumphant nights, which, dare I say it, might even rival some of the big nights at the old Forum.

Keep it going, boys. Smash the Leafs on Saturday. Don’t get hurt. Head into the playoffs full steam ahead. We’re all behind you. And we’re all proud of you.

Montreal Shoots For The Stars, While Ottawa Shoots For The Bars

It was a tremendous 3-0 shutout win tonight for the Montreal Canadiens over the unbelievably struggling Ottawa Senators, and it could have been ninety years ago in Ottawa, at the old Auditorium, when Aurele Joliat, Howie Morenz, and Pit Lepine came to town to battle it out with Cy Denneny, Frank Finnigan, and Punch Broadbent. It was good old hockey then, and it was good old hockey tonight. Rough, tough, feisty, ill-mannered hockey.   finnigan.jpg     joliat.jpg

Years ago, my ex-wife’s mother’s uncle used to tell me stories about when he was a kid and used to crawl in through a window at the Auditorium and watch Morenz and Joliat, Clancy and Finnigan, in action. It was good stuff.

I wonder if Ottawa kids climb in windows now at Scotiabank Place to see Chris Neil and Anton Volchenkov.

The big differences between then and now are, tonight (April 1st) there were about 14,000 more fans at Scotiabank Place than at the old Auditorium. Ottawa wears a Trojan Condom sweater now instead of the old stripes. Beer then, if it was sold, was probably about a dime. Now it’s about eight bucks. And the officiating was probably better back then. The amount of chintzy penalties called tonight was staggering.

And back then, Ottawa, from time to time, were champs. Nowadays, Ottawa, most of the time, are chumps. Now, they’re going to fight it out to make the playoffs, with Washington, only two points away, breathing down their backs. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

And then we get to Montreal. With tonight’s impressive win over the Senators and two referees, the team reaches 100 points to tie with Pittsburgh for first over-all in the east. They win the Northeast division. Carey Price notches his third shutout. The team played great after a couple of sleepfests in Buffalo and Toronto. And my Ottawa friends who used to be Habs fans but are now Sens fans, are at this very moment, really pissed off and quite concerned about the state of their team.

LITTLE PIECES OF INFO: Two of Montreal’s five wounded soldiers were back – Mark Streit and Guilliaume Latendresse, leaving now Koivu, Komisarek, and Bouillon still on the shelf.

Ottawa’s top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, and Jason Spezza actually did play. Although you’d never know it.

Montreal Was In A Coma Saturday Night In Toronto. And Who The Heck Is Anton Stralman?

Why am I not surprised that MontreaL, leading the eastern division, waltz’s into Toronto to take on the sad-sack Leafs who won’t be in the playoffs, and comes out flatter than a pancake. Montreal had no drive, no spirit, not much of anything, as they lost 4-2 Saturday night to Toronto, and some unheard of Leaf named Anton Stralman scores two goals that Jaroslav Halak should have stopped.

I think we might see Carey Price every night from here on in.

Why am I not surprised? This kind of thing has been going on for 40 years. If Toronto played Montreal 82 times a year, they’d be the greatest hockey team in the history of hockey. In reality, of course, Toronto stinks most of the time. But certainly, on this night, Montreal did the stinking.

This is the kind of thing that really plays with my head. For example, what if Montreal loses to Ottawa on Tuesday, then again against Buffalo, then closes the season against these dreaded Leafs. It could mean they lose four straight headed into the playoffs.

It’s just my paranoia talking here. I shouldn’t be thinking like this. But I can’t help it.

And still on the subject of feeling shitty, all Habs fans are waiting to see just how hurt are Saku Koivu and Mark Streit. Both were injured blocking shots in Buffalo.

The team’s been remarkably healthy all season, and now with the playoffs arriving, possibly three key players (with Komisarek), could be on the shelf.

Again, it’s my paranoia casting its’ spell.

Montreal’s rebounded all season from losses that would keep a lesser team down. They’ve surprised everyone. This is why Guy Carbonneau should be a strong contender for Coach of the Year. So I’m gonna say right now that they’ll come out like gangbusters on Tuesday night.

Boston Loses Its’ Tenth Straight Against The Montreal Kovalev’s

Alex Kovalev dazzled in more ways than one Thursday night (March 20) against the Boston Bruins in Boston.

Two nifty goals by Kovalev, where he shuffled through Bruin defencemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman the way I used to do it against Collingwood and Huntsville while with Byer’s Bulldozers, led to a big 4-2 win for the Habs which sees them again on top of the mountain and looking good, although Mike Komisarek was injured with a lower body injury, and Carey Price looked somewhat out of sorts.

The win puts Montreal in first place in the east with 92 points, one more than New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

But most impressive of all was the clip TSN showed from Kovalev’s new DVD, which has just been released. It’s unbelievable. Remember when Tiger Woods juggled golf balls with his club and then whacked one away like hitting a fly ball? That’s nothing to what Kovalev can do.

The clip showed him about 30 feet out with a bunch of pucks, and a pocket at the top of each side of the net. Kovalev rifled all the pucks with great accuracy into the pockets, WITH ONE HAND!  Then he moved out to centre ice, got down of one knee and put the first shot on top of the net, and second into one of the pockets.

Anyone who has ever shot a puck knows how amazing all of this is. I’ve got a whole new respect for Kovalev.

And not only that, his new DVD, which is an exercise in skills, was made for children with heart conditions, and 100% of the profits goes to this cause. Kovalev had had a heart problem himself when he was a kid.  kovydvd.jpg

I can’t wait to tell my wife about all this. She’s Russian,  a Habs fan, and is very proud that one of her countrymen is such a good player, and is the team’s best player.

And Kovalev definitely is the team’s best player. In fact, he’s one of the league’s best players. AND THE GUY’S 35 YEARS OLD!  (And he’s got a really good looking girlfriend.)

I haven’t heard yet about just how bad Mike Komisarek’s injury is but it better not be too bad, especially with the playoffs around the corner. Komisarek is an important cog in the machine, a big bruising guy with a good attitude who calls interviewers “buddy” when he’s being interviewed. “Thanks a lot, buddy” he likes to say.

I haven’t decided if this is good or bad.

Habs Win Big Against New Jersey. What A Nice Rebound From The Mediocre West Coast Swing

Tonight, Tuesday night, I’m pretty darn happy. The big game was on my brand new, big TV, and the boys, in spendid Panasonic colour, played the kind of game that I’m convinced could take them to the promised land and go all the way.

Montreal beat New Jersey 4-0, a shutout for Carey Price, a leap into first place in the east, and more importantly, a renewing of great play that was missing on their western swing where they didn’t look great in any of the four games, although they won two.

Tonight, Montreal played with passion. I thought they’d be tired after their western road trip, but they didn’t show it. The 38 shots directed at Carey Price were (as he said on RDS after the game, from the sides and not really good scoring chances). And young Sergei Kostitsyn played great, along with Price and most of the team, and from the get go , I had a good feeling about this game.

It was a great effort, and all Habs fans should be completely content with what happened tonight. Now it’s Ottawa on Thursday. Let’s pay them back for that 6-0 humiliation the Senators delivered to Montreal just prior to them going to Tampa Bay and the whole Ryan O’Byrne affair that I wish would go away but seems to stay connected to the team as we go along. 

Good job tonight boys. Vive Les Canadiens.

The Ducks Looked Like The “75 New Years Eve Habs. And The Habs Looked Like Red Army

Too many penalties (8), too many shots allowed (37), and a shorthanded goal spelled a 3-1 loss for our Montreal Canadiens this Sunday night. This game sort of reminded me of the 1975 New Year’s Eve game between Montreal and Red Army. But tonight, Anaheim was the ’75 Habs, and Montreal was Red Army.  ticket.jpg

In a nutshell, Montreal was outplayed but still made it a game, just like Red Army, who were outplayed but still managed a 3-3 tie. 

The Habs were widely outshot, 37-21, but Carey Price was great in nets or it could’ve been worse. Just like Tretiak all those years ago.

But how long is this giving up almost 40 shots a game going to continue? They can’t be doing this in the playoffs, that’s for sure.

And there’s another problem on the horizon. The team flies back to Montreal just in time to take on the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night. And Ottawa’s in town Thursday.

Gotta tighten up, boys.

Watching In Style As Montreal Wins In Phoenix

Three big things happened in the last little while. Montreal beat Phoenix 4-2, they grabbed first place in the east again because of this win, and I watched the game on my brand new TV.

And not only did I watch the game on my new TV, but I also watched it on RDS French which shows every Habs game but you need a a box or digital cable to get it, which I now have.

And even though I don’t speak a lot of French, it’s no problem watching hockey on a French network. The players names are the same, and the puck does the same thing. Any hockey fan worth his or her salt can enjoy a game even if they don’t understand the announcers.

So it was interesting to see a game in Phoenix. I’m not sure if I ever have before, and the big thing that sticks out is there were a serious number of Habs fans there, with Montreal jerseys all over the place. Phoenix, of course, gets a lot of snowbirds, so the rink was packed with Canadians seeing their Canadiens.

I also thought Wayne Gretzky had a pretty expensive-looking suit with snazzy cream- coloured tie.

It wasn’t good that the Habs gave up 39 shots, but it seems like Carey Price rebounded just fine from his weak performance in San Jose. However, I’m really hoping Carbonneau plays Halak in Los Angeles on Saturday so the guy can get some work under his belt.  

After Los Angeles on Saturday, the boys get a real test Sunday in Anaheim against the Ducks. (Isn’t ‘Ducks’ a really stupid name?)

But for now anyway, the team’s in first place in the east and my new TV, which is way bigger than my old TV, is pretty darn fantastic.

We’re Not All Part Of Leaf Nation: Especially Habs Fans

Since I started this blog, the following topic has been bugging me, especially since I don’t have any specialty channels to see the Habs more often. It alway seems like the Leafs are the priority.  William Houston of the Globe and Mail does a nice job saying just what I was thinking. Here’s his fine column.  

  We don’t all live in Leaf Nation you know

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

With a month remaining in the NHL’s regular season, Hockey Night in Canada should be moving to increase its coverage of the Canadian teams outside the centre of the hockey universe.Leading up to last Saturday, the two leading NHL stories in this country were the dismissal of John Paddock as coach of the Ottawa Senators and the surprising success of the Montreal Canadiens, who gave the starting goaltending job to rookie Carey Price, who won his first two games.Despite the cheery optimism of Mats Sundin & Co., the Toronto Maple Leafs are unlikely to make the playoffs.Still, the conversation on the most recent Hockey Night focused almost entirely on the Leafs, 12th in the Eastern Conference.

The first intermission Coach’s Corner: Not a word about a Canadian team outside Toronto. Heavy discussion about Leafs rookie Jeremy Williams and Sundin’s decision to stay in Toronto.

Second intermission Hotstove panel: More talk about the Leafs — speculation about Sundin and the next Leafs general manager. Nothing about Ottawa, Montreal or the other NHL teams in Canada, except Vancouver, which was mentioned in passing as perhaps a destination for unsigned Swedish star Fabian Brunnstrom.

To be fair, Hockey Night aired a feature on the Canadiens during its afternoon Pittsburgh Penguins-Senators telecast. And the pregame show carried reports on Ottawa and Montreal.

However, in the important slot of 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (ET), when one million-plus viewers tune into the CBC, the Leafs dominated the conversation.

This seems self-defeating, because when the playoffs start, Hockey Night will be hoping that one million or more viewers become interested in, and watch, the Senators and the Canadiens, as well as the Calgary Flames and the Canucks, assuming they make the playoffs.

Don Cherry controls the subject matter of Coach’s Corner, but Hockey Night has the ability to increase the relevancy of the Hotstove outside Toronto.

Montreal-based P.J. Stock makes the occasional appearance, but on most Saturdays the three commentators are from Toronto. The programming mandate for Hotstove is originality and that is accomplished by the Toronto panel some of the time, but a good amount of the content also consists of speculation or information that has been touched on elsewhere.

Hockey Night made the right move last week when it increased the distribution of the New Jersey Devils-Canadiens game to include Manitoba-West as well as Quebec. But a bolder statement would have been to place the Habs in Atlantic Canada as well, limiting Leafs-Washington Capitals to Ontario.

The CBC will decide later this week on the distribution of the two 7 p.m. games for this Saturday, Devils-Leafs and Phoenix Coyotes-Senators.

If Toronto picks up two wins this week, perhaps placing Devils-Leafs in most of the country makes sense. If not, Coyotes-Senators would be the better choice.

A Loss Like This To The San Jose Sharks Means There’s Still Work To Be Done

It’s not so much the loss tonight in San Jose that bothers me. Teams lose, whether they’re the 1958 Montreal Canadiens, the 1985 Edmonton Oilers, or the 1979 Soviet National team. No team can go forever without losing. It’s impossible, like robbing bank after bank and never getting caught.

But Monday night in San Jose, Montreal didn’t just lose, they lost ugly. They lost by giving up 39 shots and 6 goals, which is unacceptable in anyone’s books. Ordained number one goalie Carey Price, coming into tonight’s game, had given up a stingy four goals in three games. Now tonight, it’s six. Hopefully this one game won’t blow his recently regained confidence.

39 shots on goal is not at all what the doctor ordered. Granted, the team kept it close all night, staying within a goal for most of it, but in the end this 6-4 loss is a loss is a loss. 

At least Ottawa fell to the Anaheim Ducks on this same night, losing 3-1 and stays behind Montreal in the eastern standings.

So now it’s time to rebound. It’s time to get stingy again, to tighten up, to score more on the power play, to win big.

Thursday night in Phoenix, let’s show Wayne Gretzky and those desert dogs that the Montreal Canadiens mean business. 

GP W L   OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10
1 Pittsburgh Penguins* 67 37 23   7 81 198 185 19-10-5 18-13-2 5-3-2
2 Montréal Canadiens* 67 36 22   9 81 213 190 16-12-5 20-10-4 7-3-0
3 Carolina Hurricanes* 68 34 29   5 73 203 213 19-12-3 15-17-2 7-2-1
4 New Jersey Devils 66 37 23   6 80 172 156 21-12-1 16-11-5 6-2-2
5 Ottawa Senators 67 37 24   6 80 217 202 20-12-3 17-12-3 3-5-2
6 Boston Bruins 65 35 24   6 76 179 180 17-12-3 18-12-3 7-2-1
7 New York Rangers 66 34 24   8 76 175 164 21-13-0 13-11-8 7-1-2
8 Philadelphia Flyers 66 33 25   8 74 203 189 14-12-6 19-13-2 3-4-3
9 Buffalo Sabres 66 31 26   9 71 200 192 17-12-4 14-14-5 4-5-1
10 Washington Capitals 67 31 28   8 70 197 202 17-14-3 14-14-5 4-3-3
11 New York Islanders 67 31 29   7 69 164 193 17-15-3 14-14-4 6-4-0
12 Toronto Maple Leafs 67 29 28   10 68 186 208 16-12-5 13-16-5 6-3-1
13 Florida Panthers 68 29 31   8 66 181 196 12-13-7 17-18-1 3-4-3
14 Atlanta Thrashers 67 29 31   7 65 178 219 16-14-3 13-17-4 3-4-3
15 Tampa Bay Lightning 65 26 32   7 59 183 213 16-16-2 10-16-5 3-5-2
Western Conference
Rank GP W L   OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10
1 Detroit Red Wings* 67 43 18   6 92 209 150 21-8-2 22-10-4 2-7-1
2 Dallas Stars* 69 41 23   5 87 207 171 21-11-2 20-12-3 7-3-0
3 Minnesota Wild* 66 37 24   5 79 179 177 19-10-3 18-14-2 5-4-1
4 Anaheim Ducks 68 38 23   7 83 173 165 22-8-4 16-15-3 9-1-0
5 San Jose Sharks 66 37 21   8 82 176 159 15-13-5 22-8-3 6-4-0
6 Calgary Flames 66 34 23   9 77 186 185 16-10-8 18-13-1 6-3-1
7 Vancouver Canucks 65 32 23   10 74 172 167 17-11-5 15-12-5 5-2-3
8 Colorado Avalanche 66 34 26   6 74 183 180 19-11-2 15-15-4 4-5-1
9 Nashville Predators 66 33 25   8 74 193 190 20-10-4 13-15-4 5-3-2
10 Phoenix Coyotes 66 33 28   5 71 176 176 14-15-3 19-13-2 5-4-1
11 Columbus Blue Jackets 67 30 27   10 70 164 176 16-10-6 14-17-4 4-4-2
12 Chicago Blackhawks 65 31 28   6 68 187 188 17-13-1 14-15-5 7-3-0
13 Edmonton Oilers 66 31 30   5 67 182 200 19-14-1 12-16-4 6-4-0
14 St Louis Blues 65 28 27   10 66 161 180 18-13-5 10-14-5 3-5-2
15 Los Angeles Kings 67 26 36   5 57 193 224 14-17-2 12-19-3 3-5-2

x – clinched playoff spot

Footnotes From The Day After The Night Before. Being Especially Proud of The Montreal Canadiens Today

I’m in first place this morning. Actually, the Montreal Canadiens are in first place, but because me and Mike Williamson and scores of other fans have stuck with them through thick and thin over decades and decades, we’re part of the team too. We’re team members, we just don’t lace on the skates. 1st.jpg

When the score was tied 1-1 last night, my wife was laying on the couch, very tired from getting up early. I jokingly said to her we should go for a beer after the game. Surprisingly, she said if Montreal won, we would. They did and we did! What a wife!

I got an email from Rick the trucker informing me that cows don’t have balls, bulls do. (Feb. 27 post). Hey, if it stands in a field and moos from time to time, and eats and shits at the same time, it’s a cow even if it is a bull.cow-power.jpg

Martin Brodeur would have been a fine Montreal Canadien. He was born and raised in Montreal and his dad, Denis, was the Habs official photographer for years and years. I’m sure young Martin was a big Habs fan growing up. Just like Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, and Vladislav Tretiak. But we’re doing just fine without him, thank you very much.

When I heard the fans at the Bell Centre chanting ‘Go Habs Go’ it brought me back to another time. Unlike the past several years, I could hear real passion in last night’s chant. It felt like it was during Montreal-Boston, or the Nordiques, etc. playoff games at the old Forum. It was dramatic. It was spine-tingling. It was music to my ears.game-photo.jpg

The New Jersey Devils are a contender every year because they never change the way they approach their game. They smother the other team with checking and don’t worry a great deal about scoring. It’s effective, and really, really boring.

The Devils also blamed the officiating for the loss.

I hope Bob McKenzie, Pierre McGuire, and all the big-shot television experts learn something from this. They, in their wisdom, picked Montreal to finish out of the playoffs, in about 14th place. Maybe next year they should just say that there’s no way of telling.

During this weeks’ west coast swing, it’d be nice to see the Habs new backup goalie Jaroslav Halak, get some work. Maybe Carbonneau could start him against Phoenix, and if he plays well, let him go again in Los Angeles. It’d be a nice little breather for Carey Price, who could play in San Jose Monday and Anaheim next Sunday.