Tag Archives: Claude Julien

Big Game 3 Win For Habs

Definitely solid were the Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Sunday evening, with their 3-1 win giving them a 2-1 series lead over the Blueshirts, and it was a job done in impressive style.

Outshooting the Rangers 29-21, Les Glorieux stood their ground, skated miles, the defence and Carey Price shut the door, and New York ticket buyers rained boos down on their beloved team that lacked flow, mainly because the Habs made sure there was no home team flow.

The boos were music to my ears. Disgruntled New Yorkers, pissed because their team was outmatched by the proud CH.

That’s two straight wins for the boys after an opening game loss, no longer are they stymied in the neutral zone as they were in game 1, they’re on a roll with that magical momentum, and my heart soars like a pair of pelicans at the beach in Malibu.

After a scoreless first period, Artturi Lehkonen, on the power play, finished off a great sequence (Plekanec to Gallagher to Lehkonen), while in the final frame, Shea Weber, on another man-advantage, converted some nifty work by Alex Galchenyuk.

Weber’s goal proved to be the winner, but it wasn’t the final marker. Alexander Radulov danced in and extended his stick and the puck one-handed around Henrik Lundqvist, and the game for all intents and purposes was over. Although New York would pot one with 2:56 left and Lundqvist on the bench to make it a slightly more respectable 3-1 game.

A great win, the boys are rolling, Claude Julien seems to be molding them into a tight and impressive playoff club, and I think the Rangers to a man know they’re in deep trouble.

Their fans do, that’s for sure.

And at the risk of sounding smug, greedy, and obnoxious, it’s a beautiful thing when a team can dispatch the enemy in less than seven games. The postseason is a brutal marathon, and we don’t want the series to go long.

I’m not smug. If I can’t be a player or coach or stickboy, I have to do my own mental planning from a distance. And my mental planning means winning the series in five games, or at the most, six.

Next game – Tuesday in NY, at the normal time.

 

 

The Dismal Beat Goes On

Late-’80s Claude Julien.

The wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens were rusty and sloppy in Claude Julien’s 2017 coaching debut, and their 3-1 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Jets ruined what could have been a fun breakout party for the new Blind River bench boss.

Probably rusty because they had five days off. And sloppy, regardless of who’s behind the bench. Nothing new about their sloppiness. They’d probably be a mess if Toe Blake was behind them.

Was any part of this loss Julien’s fault?

If he was Kreskin, he might have plunked Nathan Beaulieu into the press box pre-game, before this mediocre defenceman could think he was Bobby Orr during a second period power play, and which quickly showed he’s no Bobby Orr.

Or Gaston Gingras for that matter.

Beaulieu decided to do some fancy stickhanding and was promptly stripped of the puck by Joel Armia, who walked in and tied it.

And because Julien didn’t have his skates on, he couldn’t be on the ice at 1:16 of the third when Emelin, Weber, Plekanec, Danault and Max decided to show their soft and tender side as Big Buff muscled his way in from the right side and found Mathieu Perreault, who notched the winner easy as pie.

Winnipeg’s third goal was an empty-netter, so I guess Julien can’t be blamed for that one either.

Wasn’t Carey Price’s fault either, as the big fellow snagged shots left and right, including lightning-quick glove hand robbery on rookie star Patrick Laine’s laser in the first period and then again in the third, plus coming up big a plethora of other times throughout.

Price was his old self, which is a good thing. So were his teammates, which is a bad thing.

Gump Worsley, manning the pipes for the New York Rangers in the late-’50s, was asked what team gave him the most trouble. Gump answered, “the Rangers”.

Price can say exactly the same thing about his teammates. Coverage means more than just car and house insurance, boys.

Random Notes:

Jets outshot the Habs 33-20.

Either the Sens or Leafs will win tonight, considering they play each other. Which means if the Sens win they’ll be within two points of Montreal, and if the Leafs pull it out, they’ll be just five back. Both teams also have games in hand on the Canadiens.

 

Therrien Gets Boot

I know that my friend Mike Williamson, for more than six decades a Habs fan, is pissed about the Therrien firing.

Not because Therrien was fired, that’s a great thing! But because he feels Claude Julien is just another old retread, as Therrien was. Both with two kicks at the can, and it should’ve been time for fresh blood.

Kirk Muller should’ve gotten the chance, says Mike. He liked the idea of Gerard Gallant coming back too.

I’m fine with having Julien on board. Or pretty well anybody else for that matter. Not Patrick Roy, but pretty well anybody. I’m a wait and see guy with Julien, and maybe he’ll help jumpstart a team that needs to send the wives to Powell River, put their heads down, look within themselves and not like what they see, and climb out of this freefall with whatever inner and outer strength it takes.

The fact is, even with a healthy Carey Price, the team now looks almost as bad as last year’s. And if they’re even close to last year’s futility after the dust settles, I know my soul will go dead and I’ll spend my remaining years drooling and maybe trying to understand cricket.

Even Danno, a fellow who was a regular and enthusiastic commentor on here for years, told me recently that because of last year, he barely pays attention now.

It hit us hard, that pathetic display by the Montreal Canadiens last year, and now WTF? Younger fans with favourite players might stay true and sort of excited, but guys like me are getting the shit pounded out of our hearts and the times they are a changin.

Danny Gallivan, where are you? Come down and help make hockey magical again.

Michel Therrien needed to go. Something that Dra58 (Dan in Malone NY) has been saying all along, year after year. He recognized the ‘boring, dump and chase, don’t take chances’ Therrien style, and hated it. Echoed by Peter Rherbergen in Chesley, Ontario who nicknamed Therrien ‘Thornbush’ and who has called for the coach’s head for several years.

Peter says today: “It’s Valentine’s Day, and Bergevin showed us some love. The boys can be creative again. Emelin will horizontalize folks again, Weber may return to being a force, Galchenyuk will gain confidence, Shaw will learn grit within the rules.

Peter has always complained that Therrien has stifled certain players’ creativity, including PK Subban’s. And the way the benchboss gave Desharnais such major minutes is a big head scratcher.

Dishonest John in Kenora, Ont is another one. “Yup, as each day went by in this break I was thinking there was less and less of a chance this could happen. Now I’m over the moon.”

I’ll bet it’s the first time his high school students heard the old man yelp during math class.

We needed Michel Therrien gone for the sake of our health. Much of our mental stability was at stake. Although some of it was our own fault.

But imagine now if the thing continues to slide with Julien behind the bench. What a mess it would become. Another chapter of the big time soap opera called the Montreal Canadiens.  Equal parts sad and interesting soap opera.

Most of Montreal, plus fans everywhere else like you and me and Dan and Danno and Mike and Peter and Dishonest John, would need some serious drinks and drugs if the mess gets messier.

No way can we have a repeat of last year. So Therrien had to go.

Habs Eat Bruins

bear

Nice work by the Galchenyuk, Eller, Semin line as the Habs doubled up the Bruins 4-2 in Boston, thus giving the boys two straight wins to start the season after taking out the Torontonians 3-1 on Wednesday.

Galchenyuk’s line oozed chemistry, with Chucky collecting three assists, Eller two goals, and Semin a pair of assists. A fine early season line that dominated often and enjoyed quality minutes in Boston’s end of the ice. Unlike their team’s power play.

David Desharnais lit the lamp in the first period on the team’s initial power play, but after that it was more of the pathetic, lackluster, confused man-advantage situations that we saw on most nights last year. When the ice chips had settled, it was another of those 1-6 PP outings we’ve gotten used to, and darn tired of.

But it is only game two with eighty more to go, so maybe I should just settle down and give it time. They promised better things and who am I not to believe them? A promise is a promise.

Regardless, two points in the standings, a big night for Galchenyuk and company, and I give big thanks on this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend for the two wins to kick off the season.

Things could be worse.  They could be the 0-3 Leafs.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Boston 38-21.

Brad Marchand was hurt in the third period and slowly made his way to the bench after milking it on the ice for a minute or two. Marchand told reporters later that he felt fuzzy and was worried he wouldn’t be able to finish the comic book he began reading last May.

Carey Price sent the puck towards Boston’s empty net but missed. A Price goal would be the coolest thing. It’d put him up in the Scott Gomez net-bulging stratosphere.

A Bruins marker was waved off because of goalie interference by Patrice Bergeron, and after Claude Julien’s coach’s challenge, it was ruled “no goal”. It was a no brainer to me and ten thousand others, and Julien, whose job is on thin ice, lost his time-out because of it.

Tomorrow, for those wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens, it’s Ottawa, the team that blew a three-goal lead to the Leafs on this night, but still won in the shootout.

 

 

 

Radio Guys In Beantown

Ian Sirota pointed out a piece to me which is simply wonderful to see.  I’m just so proud of Boston fans for keeping their time-honored tradition of crying about Montreal alive and well.

It stirs my soul. Kleenex must be a huge seller in Massachusetts.

It’s just heartbreaking that an inferiority complex has been built up around decades of being inferior to the Canadiens. Aren’t there enough shrinks in Boston to help deal with this massive problem?

The entire thing is right here where you can watch with your heart’s content a couple of Boston radio jocks babble on about Habs fans on something called the Felger & Mazz show on WBZ.

“Well, get ready for this crap. It’s gotten as bad as ever up there. It’s one thing the ‘Montreal diving’, right? That’s one part of it. But, it feels like the whole fan and media experience up there is all about waiting for the call .

“I think there’s something really wrong with those people up there. Like, there’s something in that culture . . . That’s your hockey-viewing experience? Crying about officials and crying about penalties? Like, that’s all they do! Watch it! Watch a game at the Bell Centre! It is one constant cry to the [officials] for a call. And more often than not, they get ’em . . . 

“So, you know, if the Bruins get by Detroit, [they’ll play] Montreal. So, 9-1-1 operators, be at the ready up in Montreal . . .”

“Get ready for that. Get ready for that crap.”

Something in our culture? I didn’t know that. This is why it’s good to hear opinions from others. We learn things about ourselves we might not have ever known.

It’s obvious these radio jocks are concerned about the prospect of their beloved team meeting Montreal, who won three of four games this season against the Bruins and are currently resting while the Bruins continue.

Bruins fans know it’ll be a deadly series. So bring it on.

I would however, like to talk a bit about this Felger guy’s take on Habs fans.

This disappoints me. All along I thought I was watching the game and now I find out I’m only looking for the officials to make calls in our favour.

This is something I’ll have to work on. I thought watching the officials was what I was supposed to do. Like Ron Maclean does.

I would, however, like to point out that we definitely don’t spend all our time doing this.

We also like to look around for cleavage, tight jeans, and the beer guy.

And because we only watch the officials, we’ve missed Brad Marchand dive, Milan Lucic spear, and Shawn Thornton mug. But afterwards, when we’re not watching the officials, we notice Claude Julien moan and tell reporters  his team would never dive, spear or illegally mug.

These two Boston radio guys also bring up the police aspect after the Chara hit on Max Pacioretty.

The fact is, if Chara would have gotten just one game suspension instead of nothing, the outcry would’ve been much less. No police. No complaining.

Max’s neck was broken on a play that could’ve been avoided. The puck Max was chasing was already thirty feet down the ice. Thankfully Mark Recchi made us feel better when he said Max was fine.

I can only imagine the wailing from Beantown if Alexei Emelin had done the same thing to Patrice Bergeron. Not to mention the five games Emelin would’ve received.

Bruins now lead Detroit 3-1 in their series and chances are good now that it’ll be a Boston-Montreal series coming up. We won’t won’t really see much of it, though. We’ll be watching the officials.

And when the Canadiens aren’t playing, like now because they swept their series of course, sometimes we watch The Daily Show.

 

 

The Night MT Blew His Team’s Chances

Michel Therrien, as you know, coached the Canadiens once before, from 2000-01, when he replaced Alain Vigneault after 20 games, to part way through the 2002-03 season when he was fired and the team brought in Claude Julien.

That first season under Therrien saw the Canadiens miss the playoffs after going 23-27-13 under him.

The third season saw him fired after a dismal stretch that saw the Canadiens lose ten of twelve games.

But it was the middle year of Therrien’s reign, 2001-02, and in particular the second round of the playoffs, that became the saddest state of affairs.

The team, with a tremendously hot Jose Theodore in nets and a heroic Saku Koivu, who had returned to the team just prior to the post season after his fight with cancer, had upset the favoured Bruins in the first round and met the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.

Montreal would jump into a 2-1 series lead against the Hurricanes, and were leading 3-0 in the third period of game four when Therrien decided to yell at referee Kerry Fraser when the Habs were already a man short.

Fraser gave Therrien a bench minor for being mouthy, and it was downhill from there.

The Hurricanes scored on the 5 on 3, rallied and won 4-3 in overtime, and then clobbered the Canadiens 5-1 and 8-2 to eliminate Therrien and his deflated players.

Carolina would eventually lose in five games to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Finals after taking out the Maple Leafs in six games in the Eastern Final.

It could’ve been Montreal taking out the Leafs if it wasn’t for Therrien.

It could’ve been Montreal in the finals against Detroit, and although they would’ve been in tough against a team that boasted the likes of Shanahan, Fedorov, Hull, Yzerman, Lidstrom, Robitaille and the rest, at least they would’ve been in the finals, something that hasn’t happened since 1993 when they won it all.

But Therrien screwed it up.

Here’s Kerry Fraser’s explanation of the Therrien bench minor, from a 2011 TSN story.

“The bench penalty that put Montreal down two men was a turning point in the series for sure. The Habs were cruising along at the midway point of the third period and Therrien was feeling pretty good about himself and their chances, all decked out in his bright yellow sports coat. (I mention this because you couldn’t miss him behind the bench.)

“As the Carolina Hurricanes attacked the Montreal goal, Habs defenseman Stephane Quintal  delivered a heavy cross-check to the back of the upper shoulder/neck of a Cane with such force that it knocked the player clear into the back of the net. I was the trailing referee and called it from an open sightline at the blue line. It was an obvious infraction and Quintal went right to the penalty box.

“I was standing at the referee crease, about 90 feet as the crow flies from the Canadiens bench, assessing the penalty when I heard Coach Therrien screaming at me. I turned to see Therrien standing on top of the boards, like a big yellow bumble bee buzzing his wings up and down and hollering, “Kerry, what the *&^%$?”  At this point I really didn’t want to assess a bench penalty to put his team down two men so I thought I would give him a second chance. I pointed to my chest and mouthed the words, “Are you talking to me?”  Therrien nodded his head and shouted for the second time, “Yeah, what the &^%$?” I guess he wanted to make sure I got the point, even on the second attempt.”

 

 

Amazing Canadiens Find A Way

It’s hard to know how to begin. I’m still in a big of a daze after seeing how the latest Habs and Bruins affair transpired. It’s all quite unbelievable, and because I’ve now turned the dial to the blues channel, I can’t hear the many excuses Bruins coach Claude Julien will come up with as to why his team blew a game to a resilient and crazy bunch of boys from the north country.

Habs 6, Bruins 5 in a shootout, a gunfight at the O.K. Corral, with the Canadiens coming from behind in dramatic fashion and finally, after the sixth round of the shootout, giving themselves two big points and leaving the Bruins muttering and cursing and eating ticks or whatever they do. Not a picture-perfect win, but one of the most satisfying of the season.

Montreal had jumped out to a two-goal lead thanks to Michael Ryder and P.K. Subban, but the Bruins began to dominate the second period and scored four times. I was ready to begin a dismal and depressing obituary. Throw in the towel. Talk about how Bob’s your uncle. But then the puck was dropped for the third period.

It began with Carey Price on the bench and Peter Budaj in goal, and early on, Ryder, with his second of the game, made it 4-3. But Boston once again stuck daggers in by scoring to bring it to 5-3. It seemed over. The Bruins were playing well and getting big chances, but wouldn’t you know it, Peter Budaj came up big time after time, and suddenly, Brendan Gallagher bulged the twine, it was a 5-4 game, and there was hope.

There sure was. Andrei Markov tied the game with nine seconds remaining and a Bruin in the penalty box, and the boys ended up doing what many surely hadn’t expected. They had rebounded in surprising fashion, had tied the game, taken it to overtime, and won it in the shootout when Brendan Gallagher came through again.

In a warm and fuzzy way, it reminds me of the Don Cherry/too many men penalty when the Canadiens came back from almost sure-defeat to beat the Beantowners. They hate us down there and tonight gives them yet another reason to do so. It’s just such a feel-good moment.

We can only imagine the crying from Bruins fans near and far. I wish I had a big stogie I could light up to celebrate their anguish.

What a night. And to think I’d almost given up on these wild and wacky Montreal Canadiens.

Random Notes:

Boston outshot Montreal 41-28.

Peter Budaj was sensational after coming in from the bullpen for the third period and beyond. He stopped 14 of 15 shots, and looked cool as can be in the shootout. There’s not a better example of a backup goalie earning his money as what we saw from Budaj tonight.

P.K. Subban, especially in the first half, was in full control and showed why he’s one of the best, if not THE best. It was nice that he was booed whenever he touched the puck, so I’d like to give a big shout out to Bruins fans for doing this. And I found it funny when TSN announcer Ray Ferraro said Subban COULD be an all-star. What, he’s not there yet?

The Canadiens were solid in Pittsburgh, although they lost 1-0, and grabbed two points the next night in Boston. It’s all just good for the soul.

Rangers in town on Saturday.

The message is sent loud and clear to other teams and the media. The Canadiens need to be mentioned in the same breath as any other serious contender.

Following the shootout, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask had a bit of a meltdown which is really funny. We love Bruins meltdowns.
Here it is, via Danno. Poor Rask!

 

 

 

Babbling On

In this week’s TSN Rookie Rankings, Brendan Gallagher is number one and Alex Galchenyuk number three. The last time I posted this type of thing, on February 20th, Galchenyuk was one and Gallagher two. What a dynamic duo!

Interesting enough, Nail Yakupov is currently way down at 26, and TSN describes the number one overall pick as “cold – one point in the last six games.”

Boston lost to Pittsburgh last night, which eats up one of the games-in-hand the Bruins have on the Canadiens. So the Bruins have now played just two games less than the Habs and hopefully they get smoked whenever they do make up these extra two.

For all you Scott Gomez fans, the San Jose Shark now has two goals and four assists. He’s also a minus five.

Darth told me he saw P.K. Subban and another guy walking down the street near the Bell Centre the morning after the team got back from Florida. Darth and P.K. said hello to each other, and Claude Julien, who happened to be across the street, yelled over that P.K. really embellished the hello. (I made up that last part).

When the NHL was first thinking about introducing the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP, they considered calling it the Bill Barilko Trophy in honour of the great Leafs defenceman who died in a plane crash in Northern Ontario just months after scoring the Cup winner against the Habs in 1951.

The next bunch of games for the Habs goes like this: The Senators visit tonight, on Saturday the Canadiens are in New Jersey, then it’s back home to greet the Sabres on Tuesday. So needless to say, three wins is the task at hand. We need Bourque, Diaz, and Prust to get fixed pronto. PAGING DR. RECCHI.

Yes, I know they don’t play a lot of minutes, but I think it’s okay to complain a little about Colby Armstrong with zero goals and three assists in 26 games played, and Ryan White with one goal and no assists after 18 games. All we ask is that they find themselves on the scoresheet just a tad more.

Montreal journalist Andy O’Brien (d. 1987), who was around when Howie Morenz played, once said that Morenz was like a compact version of Bobby Hull.

You can see Bobby Hull in this game below, a Leafs-Hawks tilt that took place almost exactly 52 years ago. There’s a big brawl here, and Bob Nevin ties it up for the Leafs with just over a minute left. Luci and I were at a neat luncheon in Toronto a couple of years ago and I was introduced to Nevin, who was standing at the bar.