Tag Archives: Douglas Murray

The Blueliners

It’s safe to assume that the Canadiens defence could use a slight changing of the guard and with four d-men hitting unrestricted free agency, now’s as good a time as any to change some parts.

Andrei Markov, Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray, and Mike Weaver need new contracts, and after seeing Mike Weaver battle, he should stay. Not the biggest guy, but fearless, smart, and experienced. An important player in the trenches.

Weaver, 36, is a right-handed shot.

We know what Andrei Markov brings. He’s crafty, experienced, usually great on the power play, and he’s been a key mentor for Alexei Emelin and PK Subban, which often goes unnoticed but so important. And although he’s slowing down, I’d like him back for two more years. But he wants at least three and it’s a tough one.

Markov shoots left and is 35 years old.

Francis Bouillon can probably be replaced, and although he wasn’t all that appreciated by many Habs fans, I thought he did yeoman’s service for the most part and from time to time would come up with a huge goal. But he’s 38 and it might be time.

Douglas Murray is Douglas Murray. A bruiser who stops people in their tracks. But he’s incredible slow, he’s awkward with the puck, and he’s 34. It’s time for him. He also shoots left.

So our unrestricted free agent defencemen consist of three who shoot left and one right, with an average age of 35.75.

It’s time to give younger guys regular minutes.

We’ve seen how Nathan Beaulieu can skate and move the puck, although the Rangers series exposed some inexperience. He shoots left.

We know left-handed Jarred Tinordi can apply thunderous hits, is a good skater who handles the puck much better than Murray, and although he’s still learning, he’s extremely close to playing full time.

Greg Pateryn is 6’2″, 214 lbs, shoots right, and is smart and ready to go. It’s time to give him a quality look.

If Bouillon and Murray left, it would leave the team with 3 right-handed defencemen (Subban, Weaver, and Pateryn), and 5 lefties (Markov, Emelin, Gorges, Beaulieu, and Tinordi).

Dalton Thrower, who just signed a three-year entry level contract, needs some minor pro seasoning first before even being considered. He’s a right-handed shot but cracking next year’s lineup straight out of junior is asking way too much.

If Markov doesn’t re-sign, the power play, aside from Subban and maybe Pateryn, doesn’t seem to have much oomph. Unless a forward with a big shot is put back on the point the way Boom Boom Geoffrion was. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of forwards with big shots.

Markov should be resigned.  It’s only money, the franchise has plenty, and the guy’s not finished yet. And Emelin still needs some mentoring, as will Tinordi, Beaulieu and Pateryn.

So the blueline lineup could have some inexperience. Pateryn – 3 regular season total games, Beaulieu – 23 games, Tinordi 30. Not a lot of games for almost half the defence corps.

Anyone out there in unrestricted free agency that Bergevin could focus on? Matt Niskanen? Marek Zidlicky? Dan Boyle? Kimmo Timonen? Derek Morris? Willie Mitchell? Andrej Meszarov?

Nope.

Maybe through a trade? All kinds of packages could be put together, including getting the most bang for the buck by moving Dustin Tokarski now while he’s hot, as Mike Mckim suggests.

Or maybe Subban, Emelin, Gorges, Markov, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Weaver, and Pateryn just might do it.

Overtime Blues

A great game, fast, hard, and exciting. A wonderful example of how a contest with no goals scored can be a thing of beauty.

No goals in three periods. Great to watch. Hard on the nerves. And then horrifically, the Bruins ended it early in the first overtime period, and instead of the series being a 3-1 Habs stranglehold, it’s now tied at two apiece.

And for those who said the winner of this game will move on, and I heard it more than once today, you have no idea. That sort of thing was also said after the Bruins had clawed back in the third period of game two.

That kind of talk drives me crazy because you just don’t know and why say it? Why predict such a gloomy ending? I feel some Habs fans are hoping they lose for some weird and distorted reason and it’s hard to understand.

The series is tied. The Habs have not lost the series, in case anyone needs reminding.

What a hard-fought, hard hitting, fast, back and forth, tough contest this turned out to be. A classic playoff game. A game at its finest. No goonery, no craziness, no lulls. No goals and it didn’t matter.

If only the good had prevailed over the bad. It was all that was missing.

It’s Saturday in Boston and then Monday at the Bell for games five and six. What a series this is.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal, Boston 35, Montreal 33.

Price and Rask were both solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. And for me personally, it was once again the Eller, Gionta, Bourque line who skated the most miles. Although Michael Bournival was flying and had several big shots on Rask.

Boston outhit the Canadiens 40-32 but Douglas Murray and PK smashed the enemy a handful of times.

The Canadiens edged the Bruins in faceoff wins 38-36, which is truly an important stat. And Montreal blocked 20 shots to Boston’s 12.

Everyone played well, all the way through the lineup. Although we need more on the board from some of our regular sharpshooters.

Right now, it’s the Eller line, the fourth line, and Bournival giving the most bang for the buck. If some of the quiet guys can break out, preferably at the same time, Boston will be a heap of trouble.

Have a great Friday. The series is not over.

 

 

 

Habs Grab Series Lead

No comeback tonight for the Gooins. And now they’re down 2-1  in the series.

Ain’t it grand?

The Canadiens stepped it up, skated hard, forechecked and thumped and came away with a great 4-2 win on home ice. And yes, they had their lapses, but all in all were solid and scored some beauties in the process.

Beauties!

A Tomas Plekanec goal in the first period on a sensational pass from Thomas Vanek.

A PK Subban breakaway goal after he’d stepped out of the sinbin, was fed a gorgeous pass from Lars Eller, and broke in alone and beat Tuukka Rask.

A sharp pass from Daniel Briere that sprung Dale Weise who fired it through Rask.

An empty-netter from Lars Eller, also in alone.

Yes the game was tense. A late goal by the Bruins in the second frame made it 3-1, and with 2:16 left in the third they scored again to narrow it to 3-2.

But the boys held on, Eller hit the empty net, and with a fine and outstanding series lead, what more can a poor Habs fan ask?

Thursday they go at it again. We ‘re not asking for much. Just a severe tightening of the noose, that’s all.

PK was once again a force. Carey Price held the fort. Vanek, Max, Eller, Plekanec, Weise, Bournival, Bourque, Gallagher, Weaver and all the guys wearing red gave a serious display of pride, guts, and passion.

The Canadiens were on the Bruins quicker tonight than in the previous two games. They skated harder, used their speed, and took no bull from the greasers.

Dougie Hamilton and Torie Krug forgot to shoot high. Price was great, Rask wasn’t. Douglas Murray and Alexei Emelin flexed muscles, Zdeno Chara and Milan Luci didn’t.

Brad Marchand continues to get away with murder.

Claude Julien will probably whine for the next day and a half.

Random Notes:

PK’s goal and assist gives him 11 points in the playoffs, good enough for second place overall behind the King’s Anze Kopitar, who has 14.

Ginette Reno got the party underway, the joint was rockin’ all evening, and for me in my living room, sometimes I sat, sometimes I stood.

Lucy’s in Russia right now, and because it’s the middle of the night there, she has no idea that the boys won huge.

Boston outshot Montreal 28-26.

 

 

 

 

Game 3 Coming Fast

There’s not a lot I can add to the Montreal Canadiens situation after  what’s being bandied about on radio, TV, the internet, morse code, and around the potbelly stove where grandpa sits.

The Canadiens almost went up two games to none over the powerhouse Boston Bruins, but settled instead for a win and a horrifying loss after blowing the lead late in game two. It was enough to drive someone to drink.

But instead of dwelling on what could have been, I’d rather talk about Rene Bourque, the Man Who Wasn’t Helping.

He is now though. For whatever reason.

I find it mind-blowing to see how Rene Bourque has played in the playoffs so far. The guy we wanted gone. The guy who looked uninterested and unmotivated and often half-asleep. Now transformed into a force to be reckoned with.

What happened? Did the thought of being bought out finally sink in? Did he have some sort of awakening while sitting on the couch at home, that maybe if he tried harder he could be a strong and incredibly key guy on the team?

Did a teammate call him out in front of others, which is what I was hoping for?

Or do the Canadiens have a terrific head doctor who made Bourque his pet project?

Whatever it is, I like it, because one can never have enough great skating, great shooting power forwards. It’s what Bourque was supposed to be in the first place when he came here in the Mike Cammalleri trade in the winter of 2012.

But as good as Bourque has been playing, and ditto for Lars Eller – another who many of us were truly disappointed in because we’d seen glimpses of greatness – we now need the DD, Max, Vanek line to stop spinning their wheels and lend a hand.

Vanek scored two the other night, but they were merely tip-ins on the power play, which is great but also one-dimensional. We need these three to dangle and pass the puck around like a pinball, like we saw when Vanek showed up in the first place when the line gelled and we were overcome with giddiness.

Vanek has 5 points in 6 games, which is decent, but his overall play is hesitant at best. DD has 3 points in 6 games and Max also has 3 in 6. All three seem invisible for long stretches, and we know absolutely that they can be much better than that.

But no one knows it better than them. The question is, can they do something about it, like Bourque and Eller somehow managed to do?

Against the Bruins, we need all hands on deck, which isn’t rocket science.

For some reason, whatever the DD line was doing in the regular season seems to be gone at this stage. They look tentative and unwilling. They seem nervous. Their passes aren’t of the pinball variety, they’re more like the kind I make.

And about others, is Brandon Prust (1 point in 6 games and often a non-factor in all aspects) playing at 90%, or 70% or 50%, and is his nagging shoulder the reason his play lacks pizzazz? Almost definitely, to answer my own question.

Should Ryan White replace him and maybe add a spark?

Should Douglas Murray replace Francis Bouillon and help calm down the Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla, Kevan Miller, Milan Lucic feistiness?

Kudos to Brendan Gallagher, who continues to be a whirling dervish. Kudos to so many, Carey Price and PK Subban especially.

The team’s in the thick of the hunt and it’s all we can ask, except for some great players to pick it up a bit.

Just need some tweaking and three more wins in the next week or so. And again, all hands on deck.

Addendum:

I just heard from two different sources, Marjo and TSN 690, that Rene Bourque has the flu and may not play in game 3. Gawd.

 

 

 

Habs Unreal (In A Bad Way)

Not much to chat about here.

Not after the Habs sucked more than the septic truck that used to come on the Island Sky ferry and suck the gook out of the tanks.

They don’t want home ice advantage and I don’t blame them. It’s an extra night of not having to endure the blaring techno music the Bell Centre pipes out.

The Canadiens played what was basically an AHL team on Thursday night, the New York Islanders with 11 or 12 raw rookies in the lineup, including 3 AHL defensemen. But it didn’t look like it.

The home team couldn’t score even once. They were bottled up all night. They were confused and uninspired and hopefully the wives make them sleep on the couch tonight.

Blanked 2-0 by the Islanders, who played a great game. The Habs played like the septic truck on the ferry.

But I’m not concerned. They were skating well just 24 hours prior in Chicago. And we’ve seen them flat like this before. Not even Didier Pitre knows why.

Random Notes:

Tampa Bay beat the Flyers 4-2, so they’re doing the right things on the verge of the playoffs, as opposed to what the Canadiens are doing.

They’re saving their motivation for next week.

Douglas Murray slammed Johan Sundstrom head first into the boards, got tossed, and a suspension is a distinct possibility, coming just after he sat for three games for an elbow to the head of Tampa’s Michael Kostka on April 1st.

George Parros was in another scrap, and once again it was nothing to write home about. When we got this guy, I thought we were getting a brute. Instead, we got a paler-skinned Georges Laraque with a mustache.

Both Islanders goals came on the power play.

Shots on goal – Islanders 30, Habs 19.

Luci and I are heading to Quebec City for the weekend. Hopefully there’s a good sports bar near our hotel on the edge of the Plains of Abraham to watch the Canadiens smash the Rangers and Max notch his 40th.

 

 

You Shoot Because You Do

As mentioned on Hockey Inside Out, both Josh Gorges and Dale Weise might be suiting up for Wednesday’s game in Chicago.

All we need now is Brandon Prust and Travis Moen back, and hope  everyone else is as healthy as a 40-year old Jack LaLanne when the real season begins.

Gorges is a left-handed shot, as are Francis Bouillon, Jarred Tinordi, and Douglas Murray, who’s back from his suspension after one more game. Somebody’s gonna take a rest there.

Dale Weise shoots right-handed, as does Rene Bourque and George Parros. So one of those fellows will also be having some down time.

I did a little Googling and found that the majority of Canadian hockey players, young and old, shoot left-handed, while the majority of Americans shoot right-handed.

It’s odd and there are different theories, none of which I had the time to try and understand when I was reading up on it.

And how do they know that folks young and old shoot more left or right? Because since curved sticks became the norm in the 1960s, American hockey manufactures say they’ve been shipping way more lefts than rights to Canada ever since.

It’s sort of the same with golf only different. Seven percent of Canadian golfers swing left, which is apparently the highest percentage of any nation. And the reason they give is because Canadians pick up hockey sticks at an early age and it’s therefore imprinted when it comes time to pick up a golf club.

European players are mostly left-handed shots too, and one site gives the example of the great Soviet teams of the 1980s, some of which never had even one righty on the roster.

I shoot right, write left, my fork is in my left, and I put my right shoe on first if you’re interested.

Murray Gets Three

I like his size and his presence, it’s just his skating and puck handling that leaves much to be desired.

The size, presence, and lack of skating and puck-handling talent will be absent for a bit, as Douglas Murray has been suspended for three games for his elbow to the head of Michael Kostka during Tuesday’s Tampa Bay game.

Maybe now we’ll see more of Jarred Tinordi, or even Nathan Beaulieu or Greg Pateryn.

Toppled In Tampa Bay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Notes:

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

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

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

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

 

Sabres For The Third Time

Canadiens face the Sabres in Buffalo tonight (7:00 pm), and after the drama of last night, the boys should play with big time passion.

One would think anyways.

Unless they were so pumped from last night none of them could sleep and tonight they play like it.

Carey Price is staying behind to get some added rest for his knee before Patrick Roy’s gang arrives on Tuesday, and why not? A few extra days to get the knee shipshape is smart.

And beating Patrick and his pupils would be incredibly satisfying for all concerned. Including us of course.

I just hope Price didn’t damage it slightly more last night.

The Habs and Sabres have squared off twice before in this year, beginning on November 27 in Buffalo when the Canadiens won 3-1, which was their fourth straight win at the time.

It was also the night Douglas Murray and behemoth John Scott went toe to toe and although Murray fared well, his face ended up a bloodied mess.

The second time these two teams met was on December 7th, a game Luci and I were at, and which ended in a 3-2 win for the Canadiens, although they played poorly.

At that point the boys had won 9 of 10 games and had caught Pittsburgh for first place in the east, but it was the beginning of some mediocre outings for the team which had been going so well up until then.

The Canadiens would lose their next three of four, get into some maddening “win one, lose one” sequences, and even get to a point not long after when they lost six of eight games.

After that December 7th game against Buffalo and up until now, Montreal has won 17 of 37 games, which has kept them in the thick of things, but isn’t exactly overwhelming.

Hoping we can look back at the March 15th comeback win at the Bell as the beginning of great things for the Canadiens. Which means a big game  tonight in Buffalo to get the ball rolling.

 

 

 

Habs Eaten By Coyotes

With Thomas Vanek in the lineup and Dale Weise a healthy scratch, the Canadiens drop a 5-2 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes, a game they were in until they weren’t.

Maybe it’s because Vanek played alongside smallish Tomas Plekanec and wee Brian Gionta, but he looked absolutely huge. He’s listed at 6′ at the Canadiens website, but 6’2″ everywhere else, including Hockey Database and Hockey Reference.

I’m going with those. He’s definitely bigger than 6′.

But that’s beside the point. The Canadiens lost, although it isn’t the end of the world. They just have to win in San Jose on Saturday to erase the bummer.

The Coyotes struck first when a long shot caromed off Douglas Murray, but Andrei Markov tied it with a big blast. Then with Lars Eller taking a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, Phoenix once again grabbed the lead and visions of Eller in the doghouse danced through many of our heads I’m sure.

But he was back out shortly after, which was nice to see. I hate seeing guys in the doghouse all the time. And if life was truly fair, Rene Bourque shouldn’t have played since last November.

The killer for the Habs came with just nine seconds left in the first period when Phoenix made it 3-1, and as they say, Antoine’s your uncle.

Montreal did narrow it to a 3-2 game in the second when Alex Galchenyuk scored on a 5 on 3, and Alexei Emelin had previously bulged the twine, but the goal was called back because Desharnais was stuck in the crease.

We could also say the Canadiens were all over the Coyotes in that second frame, but the home team had four penalties to Montreal’s none, and that might have something to do with it.

In the third, I listened to the game on the radio on my way to the airport to pick up Luci. That’s when I heard Phoenix make it 4-2 and then 5-2. It’s also when I got lost at the airport trying to find the parking garage.

Random notes:

Along with Weise, healthy scratches included George Parros and Francis Bouillon. Josh Gorges is back in Montreal having his damaged hand looked at.

The Canadiens apparently didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 3:00 am, but no excuses, right?

Habs outshot the Coyotes 26-23.

Thomas Vanek, although looking slightly out of sorts which is understandable, still managed to have three or four good chances to score, which is three or four more than Rene Bourque has managed in the last month.

Peter Budaj was less than sharp. We need Carey Price back, but with the final stretch and upcoming playoffs, it’s very wise not to rush things. Groin injuries take time. I remember suffering one myself after that private party with the players’ wives. Took me months to recover.

Newly acquired d-man Mike Weaver didn’t seem overly impressive in his debut but I think it’s unfair to judge after just one outing.

Next, the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at 10:00 pm ET. Another tough game, and it’ll be nice when this road trip is over. Not only because it’s a tough four games, but also because they’ve all been past my bedtime.

Maybe we’ll see a camera shot of grumpy Neil Young at the game. He’s been a season ticket holder in San Jose for years. Ex-Hab Terry Harper, who lives a couple of hours north of San Jose, also goes to games there from time to time.