Tag Archives: Jason Spezza

Habs Hold On Against Stars

The Canadiens found themselves in a couple of 5 on 3 pickles, saw Alexei Emelin get the boot for pounding Jason Spezza into the boards (which led to one of those 5 on 3s), but with some big time help from Carey Price, skated away with a 3-2 win over the visiting Dallas Stars.

A fine yet fortunate outcome for the boys, after being outshot 42-26 and for much of the night outskated, but with Price doing his thing we know any night can mean two points. It warms the innards. We just don’t need any Krieder-like crease bulldozing from now to late spring.

That’s three straight, four of their last five, and the Canadiens continue to roll along, mostly because the aforementioned guy between the pipes is the best in the business. And once again he had the job of handing out pucks to lucky fans after being chosen first star.

This guy has given away a lot of pucks this year.

Alexei Emelin early on gave his team the lead when he shot into a herd of players down low near the boards, the puck somehow skirted to the front, caromed off a Stars d-man, and into the net it went.

The Canadiens then made it 2-0 when Alex Galchenyuk dashed in from the left side, moved nicely around the lone defenceman, and backhanded it past goalie Kari Lehtonen. They were off to the races. Going good. The Ole singers were clearing their throats.

Until Manny Malhotra, for some inexplicable reason, was tossed from the faceoff circle with 3 seconds left in the first and was replaced by Brendan Gallagher, who was outmatched on the draw and Jamie Benn blasted it home with only a second left to make it a 2-1 game.

Speaking of Gally, he’d give his team a two-goal lead on the power play in the second period, and I don’t really have to describe Gally’s goal. He did the old Gally three step – fought like a demon in the crease, didn’t give up, and ended up pounding it home.

Throughout the second and third periods the game became a tense deal, especially after Dallas scored to make it 3-2 in the second when Emelin’s major had just 17 seconds still left on it.

But they hung on throughout, mostly because of Price. Thank you Price.

Now it’s a short hop to New York to tackle the Rangers on Thursday. I’m betting Price will be chosen first star.

Ottawa’s A Fine City

I really like the city of Ottawa. I lived there for 17 years, all over the place, and I became a real Ottawan. There was that apartment on Carling near Britannia and the one downtown on Gloucester St. There was the high rise on Alta Vista, the place on Morrisette, that other place on Meadowlands, the brand new $39,000 townhouse in Barrhaven, that nice little brick house on Browning, and there might be more once I think harder about it.

I arrived with nothing and gradually built a nice life there. I have fond memories.

People joke about Ottawa. How boring it is. How the the sidewalks are rolled up at 6 pm every night. How it’s the town that fun forgot. I never found it boring. I got married there and my kids were born there. I had great friends, excellent parties, a job I enjoyed, went to a pile of concerts at the NAC and Civic Centre, and could get in the car and easily drive to Montreal or Toronto or to the old hometown Orillia four hours away.

It was all nice and comfortable, and I look back and often think that I should never have left.

But having said all this, I dislike their hockey team. A lot. I had left by the time the Senators franchise kicked off, but an old friend of mine in Ottawa (not J.W.), who was my Habs buddy, suddenly and inexplicably became a Sens fan and promptly rubbed it in my face when his new team beat the Canadiens. He thought it was great, and he’d been a lifetime Montreal fan up until then. We used to make treks to the Forum together. And he dropped them like a hot potato.

This might be the biggest reason of all that I love seeing the Sens lose.

The Senators are without some key guys, which I don’t feel bad about. Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Jared Cowen, and goalie Craig Anderson are all on the sidelines, and somehow this team has still managed to win their last four games. The nonsense has to stop. It’s smoke and mirrors right now. If the Senators carry on in some sort of winning mode with basically an American Hockey League team filling in, I’m going to be really pissed.

The mandate now is to see Habs kick some ass tonight.





Plekanec Keeps The Lights On

Lost in the shuffle of “the topic that needs no name” is the fact that Tomas Plekanec, by all accounts, is looking spectacular and should be an excellent pick in anybody’s hockey pool.

Plekanec, along with Ben Maxwell, were the goal scorers in the Habs 6-2 loss in Ottawa, and is certainly a bright light lost in a story that’s growing two heads and could become a Stephen King novel. So bright in fact, that I’ve not heard of any mention of him being booed. Imagine.

It’s all still straight ahead and even keel here, although six goals on our goaltender isn’t exactly making any Habs fan do handstands. And apparently he was playing just fine too. That is until Jason Spezza scored a soft one to tie it at two and as the great hockey fan William Shakespeare once noted; “And Bob is thy uncle.”

But again, even keel. It’s still only preseason. I can remember when preseason barely got mentioned on the sports page. Now it’s taken on another life. Montreal’s preseason is a bigger deal and more scrutinized, analysed, and prophesized than some teams’ playoff runs.

I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

Random Notes:

Sunday night, Minnesota and Guillaume Latendresse visit the Bell Centre.

It’s My Blood Pressure And I’ll Let It Rise If I Want To

Why am I in a lousy mood on this Saturday in the middle of winter when I have a day off and I get to go to the Gary Lupul tribute game at the rink tonight and eat popcorn? Is it because the Habs lost 3-2 in overtime to the Ottawa Senators? Yep, that’s one reason.

Is it because I’m tired of writing about the team losing? You bet I am.

Is it because the Habs have lost 9 of their last 13 games? See above question.

Is it because it looks like Mike Cammalleri has done serious damage to his foot or ankle? Yep, another.

Is it because Jason Spezza walked around Hal Gill and Marc-Andre Bergeron like they were statues? Of course.

Is it because I hate Carrie Underwood’s singing and her boyfriend Mike Fisher won it for the Sens in overtime? Again, ditto.

So, because I’m in a nasty mood, I think I’ll just let off steam if you don’t mind. And who will I pick on? People who have remained quiet, thankfully, but who deserve to be picked on anyway.

Question to the mindless, low I.Q., classless freaks who in the past have torched cars, overturned police cruisers, and looted stores in downtown Montreal after the team has won a playoff series. Why would you do all that when the Canadiens win and but you now remain quiet like Tibetan monks when the team is losing on an almost nightly basis?

Not that you should be doing it at anytime but I’m curious.

I also wonder how you’ve managed to stay alive all your years without walking in front of a bus or diving off the Jacques Cartier bridge because you were hot and wanted to cool off. I just question your reasons and timing. You don’t even know when to riot.

Now repeat after me – “I-get-angry-when-the-team-is-doing-poorly-not-when-they-win-a-playoff-series.

Got that?

Now go and stand in front of a bus. Or brush your tooth. Or brush your mother’s tooth.

You guys make the Trailer Park Boys look like a collection of Einsteins.

Random Notes:

Habs host the Canucks on Tuesday. I have nothing to say about this other than the Habs host the Canucks on Tuesday.

Habs Looking To Sink The Sens


The Ottawa Senators are at the Bell Centre Saturday night, and it’s a game Montreal must win to continue their gradual climb up the ladder of success. And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t win. Look at the sad sack bunch they’ll be playing.

This is a recent photo of the Senators at Scotiabank Place, wearing their retro-jerseys and minus big guns Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek who were injured and didn’t want to make the long, arduous trek to the rink, along with several others who ran out of gas driving all the way out there, plus Alex Kovalev, who sometimes shows up and sometimes doesn’t.

It’s also quite a homely team.

Sorry, JW. Can’t Do It

My friend JW in Ottawa was for years a good, solid Habs fan and then, without warning, shockingly became a Senators fan when the city got a team. Now he feels his team stinks, big guns Alfredsson, Spezza and Michalek are all injured, the goaltending situation sucks, and all in all, it’s not good right now in the Nation’s Capital.

So he wants to know if we’d trade one of our goalies to Ottawa.

Not a chance, JW. We need both. You made your bed when you deserted your old team.

And anyway, all you’ve got left to offer is Mike Fisher and Carrie Underwood.

They’re Not Happy With Kovy In Ottawa

The party line seems to be this: Alex Kovalev’s heart is really in Montreal and when he finishes his two-year stint in Ottawa, he’d like to return to his beloved Montreal and finish out his playing days with the Habs.The question is, do we really want Kovalev back? Do we really want to go through what we went through before and what the Senators are going through now – that is, which Alex Kovalev will show up on game night, the one who sets the world on fire, or the one who plays like he’s dead man skating.?

And so far in Ottawa, on most nights he’s been dead man skating..

And be forewarned, Ottawa fans. Your frustration has only just begun.

The following are excerpts from a piece written after the Habs game by Ottawa Citizen hockey writer Wayne Scanlon. It appears they’re not happy with Kovy in Ottawa.

Waiting for Alex to load up
Kovalev, the Man Who Won’t Shoot, and the Senators go 0-for-7 on the power play in a loss to the Canadiens. Canadiens 4, Senators 1
Wayne Scanlan
The Ottawa Citizen
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Alex Kovalev
CREDIT: Jean Levac, The Ottawa Citizen
Alex Kovalev

Alex Kovalev takes his shots.

Usually from fans on the call-in shows, discouraged by what $5 million U.S. buys on the NHL free-agent market these days.

But shots in a game?

By Kovalev, hardly ever.

Kovalev and the Ottawa Senators came home to face the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night after a five-game road trip in which Kovalev’s shot production read like a horrible typo: Two.

Two! In more than 300 minutes of hockey.

Kovalev again lined up with Spezza and Nick Foligno, but there was nothing doing. After scoring against Anaheim with No. 27 at his side, Spezza was hopeful he might develop some chemistry with Kovalev if the line is more than a passing phase, so to speak.

“Having two guys that like the puck so much means the one guy is going to try to be open for the other and move the puck, and I think it’s nice to play give and go with a guy like that,” Spezza said. “So it has the potential to be a good fit for us.”

Not on this night, when the Senators relied on the Mike Fisher line and the checking lines to create pressure. In his first game against his ex-team, in Montreal, Kovalev had a two-point game, perhaps his best in an Ottawa uniform.

No such spark here, from a player with just four goals and 10 assists, distressing numbers even if fans here kept their expectations low for No. 27 at this late stage of an enigmatic career.

Someone asked head coach Cory Clouston if he occasionally talked to his big Russian winger about shooting more often.

“How about every game,” Clouston shot back to laughter from the media conference room.

Heading into the Montreal game, the Man Who Won’t Shoot had taken 33 shots on goal this season in 25 games played, or an average of 1.32 per game. That projects to 104 shots for the season. His season high was three shots, which countryman Alex Ovechkin can often match in a single shift.

He used to shoot more. Kovalev took 209 shots in 78 games last year and had 230 year before. When he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2000-01, Kovalev hit his peak with 307 shots on goal. Not coincidentally, it was the only season in which he produced 40-plus goals (44), at least 50 assists (51) and the only season he exceeded 90 points (95).

Kovalev had two non-threatening shots on Halak after 40 minutes, which might suggest he was listening to his coach, though it’s perilous trying to read his mind.

By the time the Senators had wasted two power -play chances in the second period, Clouston had benched Kovalev from the unit — and Ottawa had four chances in all that period, failing to score on any of them.

Not that he’s anyone’s idea of a sniper, but Kovalev’s pre-game rank in shots was 356th in the league and 12th on his own team.

That’s right, Chris Neil, the team’s tough guy who’s been sidelined with a knee injury for more than a week, had taken more shots (36) than Kovalev. Defencemen Matt Carkner, Filip Kuba and Alex Picard had taken more shots. Ditto for Senators pest Jarkko Ruutu and winger Ryan Shannon, who has played five fewer games.

The loud contingent of Canadiens fans booed Kovalev whenever he touched the puck. Surely, frustrated Senators fans will soon join them, wondering when he’ll do something, anything, with his talent? After 26 games, Kovalev has four goals. He’s on pace for 13. The Senators have him under contract for next year, too.

Shoot, Alex, Shoot

NHL Shot Leaders

1. Parise Devils 125

2. Ovechkin Capitals 120

3. Carter Flyers 119

4. Nash Jackets 116

5. Zetterberg Wings 116

6. Brown Kings 108

7. Crosby Penguins 107

8. Perry Ducks 106

9. Vrbata Coyotes 105

10. Lecavalier Lightning 104

30. Fisher Senators 88

62. Michalek Senators 77

341. Carkner Senators 35

359. Kovalev Senators 33

There’s No Way I’m Going To Mention The Heatley/Spezza Thing

I’m not one for rumours and innuendo. I don’t believe in this practice. What if a story isn’t true and then it starts to spread, all because I happened to mention it. So I stay away from this because it just doesn’t seem right. This isn’t the National Enquirer you’re reading.

That’s why after talking to a friend in Ottawa who me told me this, there’s no way I’m going to mention that Jason Spezza got married on Saturday and Dany Heatley was a no-show and that the reason Heatley wants out of Ottawa is because he has a thing for Spezza’s woman.

Breaking Down The Habs’ Remaining November Games

It’ll be a very interesting remainder of November for the Montreal Canadiens. The boys are in Ottawa now, (Kanata, way to the west of the city, where the rink is), getting ready to take on the dysfunctional Senators.

Then they’re at home Saturday to beat the Bruins, and we all know what this game means. It’s Patrick Roy Sweater To The Rafters Night.

Then the boys sleep in their own beds and wait for the Islanders on Monday.

After that, it’s a two game road trip, when they travel to Detroit next Wednesday, and then swing over to Washington for a Friday game against the Caps.

They then close out the month the following Saturday when the Sabres visit.


What does all this mean? 

 It means every game will probably be a struggle for our struggling guys. Let’s see – Ottawa, Boston, the Islanders, Detroit, Washington, and the Sabres. How many games will they win here?

 Boston and Detroit should be tough ones. The Sabres and Washington will also be no picnic. Montreal seems to play flat in Washington. I went to a game there in the 1980’s with a bunch of guys on a beer-soaked, rented car roadtrip, and the Habs lost 5-0.  

 And opening game this year in Buffalo, the Habs lost in a shootout and were flat, a sign of things to come.

 If all the stars and planets are in alignment, Montreal should kick the Islanders ass.

 Which brings us to Thursday night’s game in Ottawa. The Senators have stunk this year. There’s no other way to say it. It’s a team in turmoil, it seems. I don’t know why. They’ve got Alfredsson, Heatley, and Spezza, for goodness sakes. That’s a lot.

But I suppose they’re missing most everything else, although journeyman goalie Alex Auld has been better than expected.

 Montreal needs to start in Ottawa, pick up steam, and make their presence felt in all these games mentioned. Their power play needs to explode. They have to quit taking ridiculous penalties, which I blame Guy Carbonneau for. A Stanley Cup contender is a disciplined team.

Alex Kovalev needs to break out. Why does he feel he needs to be pretty on the ice? Pretty doesn’t usually work. Power works. And as Kovalev goes, the team goes. We saw this last year.

 Carey Price needs to play at least five of the six remaining November games, preferably all six. The Kostitsyn boys, both of them, have to play like last year, although Andrei has been fairly good. Sergei hasn’t.

The defence has to tighten up. Price faced 48 shots in Carolina. That’s unacceptable.

 Also, they’re showing that they’re weak clearing the puck. It can’t be that difficult to shoot the puck out. But other teams have seemed to have figured out how to stop it. Why is that? Carbonneau again, I think.

 And I’ll mention it again. Quit taking stupid penalties. It kills momentum. The gunners sit on the bench while the penalty killers work. How can Carbonneau stop this insanity? Start benching those who take bad, ill-timed penaties. Do something.

In my book, the penalty-taking is the biggest killer of all.

Dwelling On The Kerfuffle In Kanata. Blame It On The Anthem Singer

If I was better man, a nicer man, a good man, I’d feel differently about the mess the Ottawa Senators find themselves in right now. But I’m a terrible man, a bad man, so I’m quite giddy, thank you very much.

Even though there’s still time to redeem themselves, the Ottawa Senators, and their fans I’m sure, know otherwise. They know this is a team that has never gotten it done, even though there’s always been more than enough talent. Hey, they’ve had so much talent, they didn’t have either room or money for Zdeno Chara, Martin Havlat, and Marian Hossa!

And who can forget number one draft pick Alexander Daigle, who the team threw wheelbarrows of cash at, (5 year, 12.5 million), because he’d been a good junior, but alas, who turned out to be a remarkably lousy pro and even lousier actor.

Alexei Yashin, another young Senators pick, turned out to be a guy with dollar signs in his eyes, and even though talented, became a bum nonetheless. This is a guy who promised to donate a million bucks to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, then changed his mind and said forget it.

And every year they shoot themselves in the foot because they fail to recognize, for some unknown reason, that they don’t have a goalie. That’s what it’s always boiled down to. The goalie.

Patrick Lalime must have needed glasses. Martin Gerber wasn’t good enough in Carolina, so why would he be good enough in Ottawa?  Dominik Hasek would’ve been a good choice but either his head or his body or both were never in the Nation’s Capital and he became just another sad disappointment.

And Ray Emery? He could’ve played himself in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” This is a guy who dresses like a pimp, is late for practices, thinks the Ottawa police have it in for him, seems out of sorts with life itself, and millions of dollars won’t fix it.

It’s like he doesn’t want to play hockey, hates it in fact, but it’s a damn job and woe is me.

When the Senators went 15 and 2 at the start of the season, it looked like they should be handed the Stanley Cup then because it wouldn’t fair to put the other teams through the misery. The big line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, and Jason Spezza were collecting, it seemed, about eight points a night between the three of them. The media was wondering if this team could be the new 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, who had only lost eight games all year.

People in Ottawa, including a bunch I know, were slapping themselves on the back on a nightly basis. But Ottawa fans should’ve learned after all the playoff implosions that you can’t sit back and get comfortable. Anything can happen. Ray Emery can happen.

And when I think of the Ottawa Senators, I also think of someone else. The smug, silly-smiling, hand-gesturing, thumbs up, winking, singing cop decked out in his finest. The one who sings the national anthem, the one I wish would go away, Lyndon Slewidge.

Senator’s fans now say it’s never over until the fat lady sings.

I say it’s over when Lyndon Slewidge sings.