Tag Archives: Francis Bouillon

Cuts Like A Knife

The Canadiens had them all right. A cool 3-1 lead with nine minutes remaining. And the Bruins had managed only one shot midway through the final frame.

And then it all came crashing down like a scoreboard on Brad Marchand’s head. Oh, wait a minute. A scoreboard falling on Brad Marchand’s head is a good thing. So I take it back.

Three goals in five and a half minutes by the Bruins, another in the empty net, and the series is tied at one after the Bruins stormed back to win 5-3.

I should never have started counting down the minutes after Thomas Vanek, with his second of the game, gave our team that lovely 3-1 lead. Because obviously, counting down doesn’t work and I’ll never do it again.

Regardless of this shocker, the Canadiens know they can win this series. We all know it. Even Bruins fans, who have a hard time tying their shoelaces, know it.

And a split in games in the enemy barn is great. Although a 2-0 series lead would have been magical.

I’m proud of the team, even with a loss like this, which is like a Milan Lucic spear to the baby-making machinery.

A painful game, and seeing happy Bruins fans is always a stomach- turner. But to expect a playoff run without losing any games isn’t realistic. Would be great, but not realistic.

If only Francis Bouillon would’ve gotten out of the way of the puck which deflected off him and sailed past Price for the tying goal.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal Boston 35, Canadiens 28.

Vanek with two and Mike Weaver with one were the scorers for the Canadiens.

Tuesday – game three in Montreal.  The team has to shake this off and stay focused. Not that I’m a psychologist. Just a fan on the verge of a coronary.

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.

 

Good Game, Single Point

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Fine game Wednesday night in Chicago, and although the Canadiens grabbed a point, they could’ve had two. But it slipped away in the dying seconds.

Hawks win 3-2 in overtime.

After two periods of play it was a see-saw battle with no goals and just one penalty, a hooking call to Daniel Briere, but in the third, the puck started to find its way.

Dale Weise, in his first game back after injury, banged one home after a fine rush by Rene Bourque. But the Hawks, who held the edge in play many times on the night, tied it soon after.

Just 22 seconds later, Francis Bouillon blasted one home and it became a Habs lead once again.

And then, the one-goal lead almost a two-goal lead when our almost 40-goal scorer came oh so close..

How great it would’ve been to see Max score his 40th when he was set up fifteen feet out but stopped point blank by Corey Crawford. Great play, great shot, great stop.

It was also the beginning of the end, because after some serious Hawks pressure, the home team would tie it with 48 seconds left in the third, and in overtime, Peter Budaj accidentally backhanded the puck into his own net and that was that.

A point on the road but it could’ve been two. But that’s fine, because the Canadiens played a solid skating game, took just two penalties (the only two of the night), and in my book they continue to impress.

They’ve won 10 of 13 games. I feel I’d be a greedy bastard if I complained.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Chicago 30-28.

Thomas Vanek and DD assisted on Bouillon’s marker, and the big line continues to roll.

Alex Galchenyuk left the game in the first period after taking a hit from Andrew Shaw and now we wait to hear the damage.

Injuries just before playoff time. Imagine how Tampa must have felt when Ben Bishop went down.

Other guys were hurt too, Bouillon and Ryan White in particular, but both would return. Thank goodness Carey Price, Andrei Markov, and Alexei Emelin were left at home where less injuries could happen.

Much safer at home. Maybe tripping on a roller skate or taking a rolling pin to the head from an upset wife.  But no hits into the boards or hard pucks to the ankles.

In a few short hours (sort of), the boys host the Islanders at the Bell. Then game number 82 on Saturday against the Rangers.

Grab that opening round home ice and please, no more injuries.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Kids Inspire In Habs Win

It was one of those nights to smile. Not only because the Canadiens ended their four game slump by beating the New York Islanders 4-2, but also the way the kids, the EGG line, created and dazzled and were rewarded with eight points on the night.

Alex Galchenyuk, chosen first star, nailed down a goal and two assists. Brendan Gallagher, chosen as second star, added a goal and an assist. And the centre on this line, Lars Eller, contributed a goal and an assist and was given third star.

Leave it to the kids to inspire and bring the team back to life, out of the doldrums, and stop the bleeding that was beginning to flow instead of trickle. When these three are clicking, it can be poetry in motion. The way they work, pass, shoot, finish, it makes my heart soar like Timothy Leary’s mind in 1967.

Just imagine what we have to look forward to as they mature and gain experience.

Tonight was a feel-good story for a change. A big win, led by the youngsters. Love the feel-good stories.

Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring in the second period, but the Islanders tied it soon after with Francis Bouillon in the box for holding. But two Habs power play markers, one by Lars Eller and another by Michael Bournival, and it was 3-1 after two.

In the third period, New York edged closer with a power play goal, but the Canadiens iced it with a lovely Gallagher to Eller to Galchenyuk display, and folks at the Bell went home happy and Michel Therrien went home with his 250th NHL win.

Random Notes:

Tomas Plekanec was sent to the box in the second period for face-off violation. Maybe it was explained on RDS and I just don’t understand French well enough, but I didn’t get it. It seemed to me that Pleks stepped on a stick and went down. And as far as face-off violation goes, I thought it only meant players cheating in the circle and such. I’m hoping someone will clear this up for me. I’m not afraid to admit this is something new to me.

Travis Moen left in the second period, apparently with a virus. Maybe he has to cook his hamburgers a little longer.

PK Subban was motoring all evening and playing like we know and love.

Shots on goal – Montreal 31, Isles 26.

Love these 6 pm games. Not too early, not too late.

Next up – Thursday when the Lightning come to town. Hopefully the kids and their inspirational play will set things in motion and the Canadiens come out breathing fire.

Alexei Emelin might finally be back in action on Tuesday. Here’s hoping.

 

 

Habs Less Than Dazzling

Not the best start for the Canadiens in Calgary. The first period saw them play with a distinct lack of fire-wagon hockey, more like horse and wagon hockey, and found themselves down 1-0 midway after Travis Moen coughed up the puck in his own end and the Flames got the party started.

Lots of red, white, and blue sweaters in the stands, and more where the cameras don’t go. The West is filled with Habs fans, coming from grandfathers and fathers living life on the prairies and foothills, cheering for Les Glorieux over the years, and it makes its way down to the kids who now have money and can afford the ducats.

Suddenly it’s 2-0 Flames with just over a minute to go in the first, coming just after the Canadiens had botched a power play. The Canadiens are making this no-name Calgary team look way too good. The idea now is to get into the dressing room, think about how things have to pick up somewhat, and wait for Mr. Therrien to enter the room and yell a lot.

The second period was even more lethargic. It became 3-0 with Francis Bouillon in the box for an unnecessary shove into the boards. Inexcusable. People are staying up late and it’s not right.

But wait, what is this?

P.K. blasts one home  with 2:14  left in the frame and on the power play! It’s 3-1, Habs fans in the stands perk up, and the rest of us do too except we didn’t pay 200 bucks for a ticket.

Imagine having nothing to cheer about on your big night out to see your Habs? Been there, done that. It’s very depressing.

The third period was a time to build on the momentum from P.K.’s blast. And Subban, interviewed during the intermission, said they’d had a poor practice beforehand and were flat. Does it mean they’ve had lousy practices since 2002, the last time they won in Calgary?

Six losses and a tie in their last seven games in Calgary. What the……?

Will it become seven losses and a tie? And who was running the lousy practice?

The answer my friend, was blowin’ in the wind.

Lars Eller mades it 3-2 with almost half a period to go and suddenly, after only two and half periods, it became a game. The Canadiens found some zip. They could taste it and they gave it their all. For ten minutes.

And in the end………….such a silly penalty by P.K. with 1:49 left, and the everything went pfffft. All that late good stuff down the drain. Too bad, they were on the verge.

All in all, too many were invisible for too long.

Seven losses and a tie in eight games in Calgary. It’s ridiculous.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Montreal 35, Calgary 25.

Next up, Thursday in Edmonton. Hopefully the practice is better.

 

 

 

 

Big Bell Blast!

I hadn’t seen the Canadiens play in Montreal since the late 1980s when they were still at the Forum. I’d moved to Calgary and then to the West Coast, and I couldn’t see them live unless they came to where I was.

I was gone when the Bell Centre opened in 1996, and I grew more and more curious. Could it come close to replacing the Forum? How was the atmosphere compared to the Saddledome in Calgary and Rogers Arena in Vancouver? Would the hot dogs be even close to Forum dogs?

Today I saw my first game at the Bell Centre, a Red vs. White affair to help rebuild the damage done at Lac-Megantic, and no, it wasn’t the Bruins or Leafs in town, and it wasn’t a crucial game in the standings, and there were no fights, no nastiness, or no tremendously dazzling plays.

But it was an emotional time for me. I loved the moment. It made my heart soar like a Mauritian Shelduck.

Tell me how this couldn’t be great. Darth and Lydie picked me up. I wore my mid-1950s Habs jacket. We grabbed great seats at one end. I had a free hot dog, chips and bottled water. The Habs played the Habs and the joint was sold out.

The hot dog was good but not as good as Forum dogs. I suppose it’s impossible to be that good.

White beat Red 2-1. Francis Bouillon made a nice speech. Pleks scored a nice one. Carey Price looked good. The EGG line was fine. Max seemed to have some bounce. Little Martin Reway played well. A whack of rookies played hard hoping to impress.

Peter Budaj let in a goal Betty White could stop but anyway.

I saw the tributes to former greats on the walls behind the nosebleeds. I looked for Jean Beliveau. I saw where Max Pacioretty got nailed by Zdeno Chara.

All of this sort of thing might seem old hat to you if you’ve been a bunch of times. But I’ve probably got you beat in a few other ways. I saw the Rocket play, for one.

I also noticed a new job I might go after. Riding shotgun on one of the zambonis. Little kids have the job now but if I can somehow………

I’d sure like to thank Darth and Lydie. It was a great day. :-)

Bell 3

Bell 5

Bell 6

Bell 1

And the jacket I wore –

jacket

 

 

Almost Not Small

Marc Bergevin says the the team is too small. Tomas Plekanec says it isn’t.

I’ll settle this.

They’re too small. But almost not.

There are only two small guys on the Habs – Brian Gionta and David Desharnais, both standing at 5’7. They’re the two who make the team seem small. Without them, the subject wouldn’t even come up.

Francis Bouillon is small on paper, 5’8, but by all accounts is stronger than strong, so he doesn’t count. He’s probably stronger than three-quarters of the guys in the league who stand a foot taller.

Brendan Gallagher is 5’9, but we know what he’s like. There aren’t many around the league, tall or not, that I’d rather have. He’s big. The size chart just doesn’t say so.

Tomas Plekanec isn’t big, and he isn’t small. He’s 5’11. Guys like Pleks are perfect. Speedy and talented and not shrimps. They don’t count when you say a team is big or small. Sidney Crosby is the same height as Plekanec.

This isn’t the smurfs anymore. Gomez is gone, Cammalleri too. There were just too many smaller guys all bunched together once upon a time. But that was then. Rene Bourque, a good-sized power forward at 6’2, helped change the dynamics when he and Cammalleri switched cities.

Guys like Prust and Max and Tinordi and Eller and others are miles from being small. Even young Alex Galchenyuk is 6-1.

It’s a bigger team now. And fast and slick and talented. Fire-wagon hockey. Beautiful.

It’s just the two little guys, that’s all. In warmups, the team looks small because of these two. It’s like the wee guy in Buffalo – Nathan Gerbe at 5’5. That’s too small. Everything’s out of whack when you see a little bugger like that skating around.

We don’t need to be huge. I prefer a slightly smaller and swift skating variety, like we have now. Just a couple of tweaks, nothing serious, and maybe people will stop saying the team is too small. Cause they’re not. Two guys are causing an optical illusion.

Plekanec and the GM are both right. The team is small and it’s not. A slight change, and all’s right with the world.