Tag Archives: Colby Armstrong

Who Cares If He’s Not Great?

I’ve been listening to Montreal TSN 690 on my radio going to and from work and it’s very interesting. Way better than fiddling with the dial while I’m lost.

The subject of George Parros came up this very morning as I bombed down highway 30, and both hosts and listeners agree he’s one tough hombre.

But can he play, they ask? Or will he be holding down one end of the bench, seeing the odd minute here and there?

Who cares if he’s not that great? He’s replacing Colby Armstrong on the right side. Colby had two goals and three assists with the Habs last year, and although George’s numbers are even more dismal, the difference is he’s a mean fighting machine, which is an element many Habs fans, including me, have been wanting.

Just having a guy like that in the lineup every night, whether he sees lots of minutes or not, keeps the other team from being assholes. The Canadiens have the speed and skill already. But they haven’t had the guy who strikes fear in the hearts of others. One who reminds opponents just by skating around in pregame warmup that the Habs need not be messed with.

Opponents are perfectly aware of the other team’s lineup. They know that mugging Brendan Gallagher or Alex Galchenyuk or Tomas Plekanec or Lars Eller will probably mean George is going to see some minutes. Tune the offender in, opening up room for the speedsters.

And as an added bonus, create havoc in front of the net and maybe give the other guy a swat when the referee’s not looking.

Who cares if he’s not that good? He has another role to play, and if he plays it well, he’ll help the team. Brandon Prust, Ryan White and Travis Moen weren”t enough. But with George, a heavyweight, it might be.  Imagine the mayhem all of them could get into against the Bruins or Leafs.

The Curtain Falls

That’s that. Habs gone after five games, losing 6-1 to the Ottawa Senators, and now what are we supposed to do? Cheer for another team?

It’s a game of inches, and if Colby Armstrong had hit the back of the net instead of the post on a shorthanded breakaway, the boys would have tied it at two and who knows what would have happened. But shortly after, Ottawa scored while shorthanded and the death knell was sounded for the bleu, blanc et rouge.

I hope all those Sens fans who used to be good Habs fans are happy.

Now it’s all over. Lockers will be cleaned out, goodbyes will be said, and guys will go north, south, east, and west. And we’re left floundering and scratching ourselves and flicking channels with a tired remote.

I hate when this happens, and I wish they’d quit doing this to us. Habs eliminations are always such a downer. And if it’s bad for us, imagine what hard-core Leaf fans must go through.

It’s not a surprise, I suppose, that the team fell short. Serious cracks began in April, when a key defenceman went down, and goaltending, without warning, became surprisingly inept.

On April 6, in a game against those dastardly Bruins, with just ten games remaining, Alexei Emelin decided to put himself in the way of a human freight train named Milan Lucic, and just like that, was lost for the season. With Emelin gone, the team suddenly became softer and less of a danger for approaching enemy forwards, and a team becoming softer in the last month of the season before playoffs is pretty well the second worst thing that could happen.

The first would be mediocre goaltending.

Carey Price’s goals-against soared, and his save percentage dropped as the season wound down. And as Price’s play dipped, the team in front did too. Even now there’s an all-points bulletin out for Michael Ryder, missing in action, along with David Desharnais, who wasn’t much help at all over the final stretch.

Some players were disappointments, the team’s month-long collapse was a disappointment, and the elimination is a disappointment. But they gave us such great hockey for two and a half months, they were exciting and so much fun to watch, and absolute light years from the dismal bunch of a year ago.

The kids Gallagher and Galchenyuk became key guys, and Brandon Prust showed what a true team player is with his willingness to stand up to bigger foes. Prust also helped guide the kids along, and was just a terrific and inspirational addition. Thank you New York.

And of course P.K. Subban is magnificent. There’s no denying.

The future is bright for the Habs, and I’m proud of them. Second best in the Eastern Conference, fourth in the entire league. A complete turnaround from a year ago.

So many great nights, in such a short period of time, beginning on Jan. 19th, and ending now as they bow out to the Ottawa Senators, a team that is mighty lucky they had a tremendous goalie keeping them in it.

The Only Random Note of the Night:

If you’re ever looking for something to read, I’m here year-round and have been for five and a half years now. I think it could be a fine way for you to spend quality time on the toilet, for example. And don’t forget, my site is rated by my wife as the best in the world. So how could you go wrong?

Thanks to everyone for riding the Habs train with me this season. It was mostly fantastic. But again I remind you – I’m not going anywhere, so c’mon back.

 

Price Holds The Fort In Habs Win

With both Boston and Pittsburgh winning their games today, the Canadiens found themselves down in fourth place for several hours. So they did something about it. They went out and beat the Devils 2-1 in Newark and catapulted themselves right back to the top of the class again.

I’m not going to ramble on tonight. But I can say that Colby Armstrong finally scored a goal, one that gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead in the first, and after New Jersey had tied it in the second on a power play, Tomas Plekanec deflected a big shot from rookie Jarred Tinordi in the third for the winner. And with Carey Price coming up big, the boys get it done and find themselves enjoying their second five-game winning streak of the season.

Wow! It just keeps going. It almost feels like it’s not really happening, and if I didn’t think it would hurt, I’d pinch myself.

Random Notes:

Tinordi looked poised and was plus-2 on the night. Armstrong’s goal, a nice shot to the corner, was unassisted.

PK Subban was great again, and we might not see as much flash anymore, but we’re seeing one of the top d-men in the game.

Lars Eller had some nice moments also. It really seems this guy has turned a huge corner.

New Jersey outshot Montreal 33-22.

Next up – Tuesday in Montreal, when the team meets and greets the Buffalo Sabres.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Another In The Win Column

I set my PVR to record the Habs-Flyers game, went to work, and avoided the computer and radio for hours so I wouldn’t know the score. I almost made it. A fellow I know drove his semi off the ferry later in the evening, opened his window and yelled at me, “Habs 4-1!”

But I also really liked it when I heard the score. So it was a good/bad thing.

For the time being at least, the Montreal Canadiens find themselves a lofty 5th overall in the league and 2nd in the east after taking it to the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night at the Bell, although some dark clouds may have drifted in. Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Colby Armstrong, and Alexei Emelin all left the ice, and we’ll hear soon enough whether the team just took a major hit in the body count department, or whether some serious bullets just got dodged.

Imagine if Max is down for the count? One thing after another. Where’s his Guardian Angel for goodness sakes? And Gallagher. Imagine if he’s gone for awhile? What a sensational young player this guy is, and until he disappeared into the infirmary, he’d recorded a goal and an assist and was a man on a mission. Armstrong’s been playing better lately, seems to have turned a small corner, and now he might be down. And Emelin is a guy who goes about his business of making players on other teams keep their heads up.

We need these guys back right away, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Random Notes:

PK Subban made an amazing defensive play when the game was 2-0 Habs. With the net wide open, he slid across and blocked a Philly shot that seemed a sure goal, and if there’s any justice, it’ll be on all the highlight packages for the next twenty-four hours or so. Unless TSN and others decide to show more Colton Orr fights.

Shots on goal, Habs 29, Broad Streeters 19.

Next up – Monday, when the Carolina Hurricanes pay a visit.

Peter Budaj in nets was solid as can be and stopped some quality chances from the Flyers, although there weren’t a lot. The Flyers showed very little zip tonight.

Whenever I see camera shots of Philly coach Peter Laviolette, his face and hair somehow reminds me of Reggie Mantle from Archie comics. Next time you see the Flyers, dig out your Archies and see what I mean.

Rene Bourque was hauled down when he had the puck and the net was empty, so he was simply given the goal, even though it never went in. This is not something that occurs on a regular basis. In fact, I can’t remember seeing this. Although me not remembering things isn’t all that unusual.

Along with Bourque, scorers were Gallagher, Desharnais, and Tomas Plenanec, with his seventh of the season.

A fine but maybe costly win for the Habs. It’s three straight now, and the bleu, blanc et rouge are way up the standings. Although that could change within hours. Imagine if we wouldn’t have blown those third period leads against Boston and Buffalo.

Another 3rd Period Implosion

Habs 4, Tampa Bay 3, in a shootout.

I don’t care. I’ll take the win. No matter how it happened.

Up until the 14:04 mark of the third period, I was mostly concerned with whether or not Carey Price would record a shutout. Then the Lightning scored.

Then I became concerned that Tampa Bay might somehow score again. And they did, with 1:43 to go.

Then, of course, when Tomas Plekanec took a tripping penalty with just over a minute left, I knew what would happen next, and it did. Tampa tied it on the power play with 34 seconds left.

So the boys went from winning handily, with Carey Price racking up a shutout, to finally winning 4-3 in a shootout after falling apart with just six minutes remaining. They’re been good at this sort of thing lately. They blew it in the third against Boston, then again in Buffalo, and after getting hammered by the Leafs, incredibly found a way to blow it again in the third in Tampa Bay.

I wish they’d stop doing this. The combination of stress and having my blood boil can’t be all that healthy.

But they won it with a David Desharnais goal in the shootout, and I don’t care, it’s still two points and an end to their three-game losing streak. And when we look at this later on, as the season goes by, it was simply a win on a road trip in Florida. The gruesome details will fade, I think. As long as they don’t do it in Sunrise on Thursday, and anytime soon after.

It was a win. How did it happen? I don’t remember.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal Montreal 34, Lightning 24.

Montreal goal scorers were Brian Gionta, from Pleks and PK; then PK, from Eller; and finally, Moen from Eller and Armstrong. So the fourth line managed four points, which is nice to see, especially when I think they, along with Ryan White, who didn’t play again tonight, had totalled just five points between them up until now.

As mentioned, the Canadiens take on the Panthers Thursday, then it’s back home to meet the Flyers on Saturday night.

A loss tonight, especially how it almost happened, would have been unbelievable after the results of the past three games, but the Habs dodged a big bullet and I think most of us still cheer for them. Although they don’t deserve it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing Lines

Hockey Inside Out reported yesterday that Michel Therrien is going to put Max Pacioretty with Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk, and place Brandon Prust with Erik Cole and David Desharnais.

That’s fine. Max might be a good fit for the kids, adding some size and puck skill, and maybe Prust will provide some spark and sandpaper for his new partners. Gotta try something. The season’s almost over.

It’s just too bad though, that the line that had so much chemistry, Max with Cole and Desharnais, hasn’t worked out as planned. It’s disappointing. It was the one line, last year at least, that couldn’t be tampered with, the one that we could rely on seeing fine and exciting things from. It was nice to have a big line. It made me think we almost had a good team.

But that was then. This year, Cole has a lousy two goals and two assists, Desharnais isn’t much better at three and two, both in eleven games, while Max has managed six assists and not one goal in his seven games. These are not numbers we expected from the so-called big line, the line without a cool name like the Punch Line or Kid Line. Maybe that was the problem. They began to go downhill because they didn’t have a good name.

Therrien probably didn’t expect these low numbers either. So he’s trying something different, and we can only keep our fingers crossed that things will click, the kids will love playing alongside Max, and Cole and Desharnais get the message and turn things up a notch or two. Although the kids might be taking their life in their hands playing near Max, who’s so unlucky he’s bound to have an Acme safe fall on his head at some point.

On another subject, it’s not hard to see what the difference in Rene Bourque has been. Bourque is now moving his feet like he’s doing the Quickstep, it seems he’s overcome all that he had to overcome, like the abundance of beautiful Montreal women which surely had affected his groin area, and we see that the guy can really motor and be a dangerous presence. It’s great to see. He was so ineffective last year, almost Colby Armstrong-like, but it seems it’s all in the past now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Blues

Maybe there really is something to what was first reported a month ago, on Jan. 11th. in the Gazette, when Erik Cole said he might be retiring sooner than expected Cole Says This Could Be his Last.

And although, as Montreal radio host Mitch Melnick has pointed out in a recent piece, Cole is a notoriously slow starter (see below), he indeed seems to be showing a serious lack of interest as he patrols his wing. There seems to be no joy in Coleville. The high-fiving a referee seems almost unimaginable now. He reminds me of me when I’m at work.

Cole has played 12 seasons in the NHL, and for many people in many jobs, about ten years doing the same thing is more than enough. It’s always been that way for me. Restless feet. But if Cole retires before he’s 35, what’s he supposed to do after he’s taken the garbage out, drove the kids to school, walked the dog, and and played some Keno at the local mall?

It made me feel good to see these numbers that show Cole’s slow starts. Maybe there’s still hope for the old man, who now stands at two goals, two assists, all for a measly six million this year. That’s a lot of Keno games.

•2011-2012: In his first 15 games Cole scored 3 goals.
•2010-2011: In his first 13 games Cole scored 3 goals.
•2009-2010: In his first 17 games Cole scored 3 goals.
•2008-2009: In his first 18 games Cole scored 3 goals.
•2007-2008: In his first 21 games Cole scored 4 goals.
•2006-2007: In his fist 11 games Cole scored 1 goal.
•2005-2006: In his first 11 games Cole scored 4 goals.

I’m a little confused about the Andrei Markov situation. It was only about a week ago that he was The Man, the quarterback, that guy who gave the team a true power play. Now, three losses later and getting outskated on a Leafs goal, Markov, in the eyes of many, is a bum who can’t play in the big league anymore.

I say hold your horses. He can still skate (he’s a defenceman, not a speedy forward), he hasn’t lost his shot after a week, and his hockey I.Q. hasn’t taken a downward spiral overnight. He’s the guy who makes those short, crisp passes to move the puck out, who mentors young D-men, and now a couple of mediocre games from him and several horrible games from his team, and the guy’s a bum? I’m not ready to concede this just yet. Ten points in eleven games to lead his team. Isn’t that okay?

I’ve also heard the theory that Montreal’s woes have coincided with the return of P.K. Subban. Gawddam. The guy hadn’t played in eleven months and people are expecting him to save the world. And how many parties have you been at with P.K. to see how no one likes him?

I think the same can be said for Markov. He played just 20 games over the past two seasons with Montreal, and now he’s expected to run the show every night, eleven games in. Markov’s personality is the exact opposite of Subban’s. He’s serious, quiet, and downright sullen. Subban is outgoing, happy,and loving life. Is one personality worse than the other? Players get used to all types.

Then I see that many feel things would’ve been different last night against the Leafs if Ryan White would’ve been in the lineup because the Leafs were thugs. Ryan White likes to scrap, but he’s not great at it. He’s too small to take on heavyweights like Colton Orr. And if you want to talk about how things would’ve been different, yes, they probably would have been if White hadn’t played against Ottawa and Buffalo, when he lost his mind.

Maybe we should be wondering about someone like Colby Armstrong, who has zero points so far. Or what to do with Tomas Kaberle and guys like Travis Moen, Yannick Weber, and even David Desharnais. What about Louis Leblanc? Where does he fit in? And our captain. Two goals in eleven games. Is he leading by example? And he took that silly penalty the other night by going for a ride on someone’s back, not because he’s feisty, but because he’s too small and couldn’t move the guy properly.

I’m as concerned as anyone. Imagine if they fall apart in Florida. Imagine if this new-look, exciting version of the Montreal Canadiens ends up looking as sad-sack as last year’s version.

But then imagine that they turn things around and start to win again.

 

 

 

 

 

Thirteenth?

The Hockey News says Montreal will finish 13th in the East this season. How can that be? Don’t they realize Scott Gomez is on the team?

It’s just so much bullshit anyway. Anything can happen to any team, whether they’re predicted to finish 1st or 15th. Players we least suspect can catch fire. Key guys can go down with injuries. Some teams and players don’t measure up to their potential. Some overachieve. Important trades can be made. A star player can have a bitchy wife. A good faceoff man can get crabs from a groupie.

These predicters don’t know. It’s just a game of guessing. Sports is rife with stories of the underdog coming through, like the ’69 Miracle Mets, or my peewee baseball team.

I think the Habs can at least make the playoffs. Why not? We now have Brandon Prust, Colby Armstrong, and Francis Bouillon.

Oh. Maybe that’s not so much.

But what if Colby Armstrong has a breakout year and scores 40? What if Brandon Prust becomes the the new John Ferguson, scrapping and scoring and becoming a fan favourite? Maybe Francis Bouillon will be a rock on the blueline. What if Alex Galchenyuk makes the team and sets the world on fire? Brian Gionta is raring to go! And yes, so is Scott Gomez. Any day now we should hear his new promise.

What about that, Hockey News?

Thirteenth. Behind Toronto.

Here’s their picks, the bastards.

1. Pittsburgh
2. Boston
3. Washington
4. Rangers
5. Philadelphia
6. Tampa Bay
7. Buffalo
8. Ottawa
9. Carolina
10. Florida
11. New Jersey
12. Toronto
13. MONTREAL
14. Winnipeg
15. Islanders

 

Colby Armstrong Now A Hab

Colby Armstrong, a 29-year old right winger who was bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs, has signed a one-year deal with the Habs. The big 6-2, 195 pounder missed 85 games over two years with the Leafs, and hopefully his health issues, which included a concussion, broken toe, sprained ankle, infected eye, and arm problems, are a thing of the past.

Armstrong, when he’s healthy at least, plays with a bit of an edge, and might be a nice fit alongside Tomas Plekanec. So Rene Bourque, who also plays the right side, just might have seen his last days on the second line and third lines. Hell, he deserves to be demoted. Brian Gionta and Aaron Palushaj are also right wingers.

Armstrong is a Canadian boy from Saskatoon, and is saying he couldn’t be happier, that Montreal was his favourite team growing up, which I love to hear.

In other news –

Brad Staubitz has signed a two-year deal with Anaheim. He had a difficult role in Montreal, playing very few minutes and expected to fight, and I liked what he brought to the team. So it’s all the best to Staubitz in California.