When Steve Ott was growing up in Summerside, PEI, he would hear it all the time. “Steve,” they would say, “you can lick anybody.” And with great confidence, young Ott went out into the world and did just that.
Jeff Halpern was first given a tongue-lashing by Ott, and eventually a solid licking. “I wouldn’t do it on first meeting,” explained Ott, “but seeing that this was our fifth date, I felt I’d make the move. I’m a gentleman that way.”
Ott’s wife is now filing for divorce. “He never licked me like that,” she complained. “What’s Halpern got that I don’t have?”
“I just got the urge,” says Ott. “I’ve tried licking my teammates’ visors, but somehow it’s not the same. I guess it’s the forbidden fruit thing.”
It was as one-sided as can be, a 5-1 Habs romp over a lacklustre Buffalo team, and how nice it is to clinch a playoff spot with eight games still to go instead of on the last day of the season, which is what we’ve seen in the past.
Just a great night for the Canadiens, in many ways, from start to finish.
A terrific rebound performance after losing to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. A domination of the other team like we’ve rarely seen this year. And best of all, a solid effort from almost everyone, top to bottom, beginning with Peter Budaj, who wins his seventh straight game in relief of Carey Price, and who said beforehand how proud he is to be a Montreal Canadien.
Maybe the entire team feels that way. Maybe the ones who weren’t proud aren’t there anymore.
Brendan Gallagher was a force all night, scoring Montreal’s third goal and in the thick of most things whenever he stepped on the ice. His joy of playing hockey and getting his nose dirty is written all over his face. This isn’t a small guy. Somehow his personal stats got mixed up along the way. Gallagher’s a huge guy. Just ask anyone who plays against him.
CBC’s Craig Simpson might be wrong when he says that next time around, opponents will play him differently and he might not be as effective down the road. I ask why not? I see no reason why he can’t continue to be an energetic and skilled guy who causes such havoc. Let other teams adjust. He’ll just plow ahead, play the only way he knows how, and maybe it’ll open things up for his teammates.
Ron MacLean said between periods that Gallagher is the modern day version of P.J.Stock……. I have no words for this.
Francis Bouillon took on Steve Ott after Ott had laid a punishing hit on Gallagher, and the super-strong Bouillon got the better of this Buffalo hothead. Ott also licked Jeff Halpern’s visor for some reason, which is a fine example of Ott not being completely all there.
Rene Bourque opened the game’s scoring, and once again he enjoyed a fine game, his second since returning from injury. Bourque’s a key guy, there’s no doubt, because you can never have enough big forwards who can skate like the wind, burst to the net using muscle, with good hands as a bonus.
P. K. Subban was once again sensational in notching a goal and an assist and moving the puck like a guy who’s been around for years. I don’t see a lot of other d-men around the league, but if someone is playing better than our guy right now, I’d like to know who he is.
Alex Galchenyuk scored his team’s second goal and it’s five games now with at least a point. This is a story in itself. Galchenyuk busted out of the gate in the beginning of the season, but somewhere along the line began to struggle. We chalked it up to a young guy learning his trade and the team and fans have been patient. It can’t be easy.
But wouldn’t you know it, this nineteen-year old has come alive again. He’s got a second wind, with the postseason just around the corner. The timing is impeccable.
I thought David Desharnais played a fine game, and he and Max assisted on Gallagher’s goal. Desharnais came close several times and his playmaking often proved dangerous, but until he lights ’em up, he’s going to hear his critics. Maybe even rightly so. We’re a demanding bunch.
Andrei Markov was in charge on this night, adding a power play goal and an assist and quarterbacking like he’s done so often. Although with him being caught up ice, the Sabres were able to score a shorthanded marker and ruin Budaj’s shutout. But aside from this one little pothole in the road, Markov was solid.
It’s a write-off season for the Buffalo Sabres, who, with a 30th-ranked power play and dismal play all-round, remind me a lot of last year’s Habs. So I kind of feel for them a bit. Then I get over it real quick.
The Canadiens outshot the Sabres 42-15, and it was basically a nice, easy night for Budaj. But he stopped them when he had to, except for one, and what more can we ask?
Michael Ryder posted two assists, as did Max.
On to Toronto for a Saturday night special. With the very real possibility of the Habs and Leafs squaring off in the first round of the playoffs, it would be so great to see the Canadiens thump the bastards and take no prisoners. Montreal plays these guys not only on Saturday but also on the last day of the season, which is coming up fast. We need a serious statement made on both nights.
Max Pacioretty and gang take out the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 at the Bell Centre, and just like that, the Canadiens find themselves in the midst of yet another win streak, this time at three games and counting. To quote the late, great Jackie Gleason: “How sweet it is!”
Montreal just hasn’t found themselves in dire straights for any length of time all season, and with less than a month left in the season, it ain’t gonna happen. Different guys helping on out on different nights is the mark of an excellent squad, and yes, my heart is soaring like Superman heading over to Lois Lane’s apartment for wine and Barry White tunes.
The beat goes on, and guys we needed to pick it up a notch did just that, with Max scoring a couple and David Desharnais skating miles. Maybe we can now check these two off as getting things done once again, and if the planets are lined up as they should, Max’s mini-slump can be put to bed and it’s full steam ahead for this key guy whom we need key things from.
I was proud of David Desharnais. People have been on his case, said he didn’t have it anymore, but on this night he did and becomes part of a fine list of guys going good with just thirteen games left in the regular season. The positives are just oozing from my two-fingered typing.
Let’s see, who’s next? How about it being Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk’s turn on Wednesday in the City of Brotherly Love?
Carolina opened the scoring in the first, but Andrei Markov, on the power play, (from P.K. and Gallagher) tied it and the team never looked back. Jeff Halpern, with his first of the year, scored what proved to be the winner, and Max in the third period banged home his own rebound and then scored on the empty net.
Colby Armstrong is feeling the effects of a knee-on-knee with Patrick Dwyer in the third period and things didn’t look good as he was helped off. Whether or not it was intentional, who knows? But it was the kind of thing that causes serious worry and often serious games-missed. Hopefully Colby is fine and enjoyed the win with his buddies afterward.
The Canadiens outshot Carolina 29-19, and Carey Price came up big when he had to.
Nathan Beaulieu recorded his first NHL point, assisting on Halpern’s marker. Beaulieu in his two games has done a fine job.
Beaulieu, Subban, Gallagher, Bouillon, Brian Gionta, and Tomas Plekanec all had helpers.
Next up – Habs travel to Philly to battle the Flyers on Wednesday. What a misnomer – the City of Brotherly Love.
It’s the breaks of the game. Ring a couple off the crossbar, the pucks skitters harmlessly away, and somewhere along the way (in the second period), Sidney Crosby buries one. Then, over the full sixty minutes the Canadiens aren’t able to beat either Marc-Andre Fleury or Tomas Vokoun, and it becomes a 1-0 Pittsburgh win over the Habs to extend the Penguins’ streak to thirteen games.
When you add it up, the bad parts consist of Montreal not being able to score even one goal, they lose their second straight, and the other team keeps their depressing winning streak alive and at 13 games. It would’ve been so great to stop this nonsense, but it wasn’t to be. The Canadiens are shooting blanks like Hugh Hefner right now.
Montreal has some firepower, we know that. There actually are guys with good hands, but remember recently when the team missed the net at least twenty times in one night? They don’t seem to be as erratic now, but the danger level around the net doesn’t seem to have gotten any higher either. And saying the other team’s goaltender was just way too hot isn’t good enough anymore. That’s just a cop out. You have to find a way.
Where’d the gunslingers go? And wherever you are, could you please hurry back in time for the Boston game.
But having said all that, some of the blame has to go to the crossbars.
Montreal outshot Pittsburgh 37-25 and in general, played a very solid game. Price was good, new addition Jeff Halpern was great on faceoffs, and Ryder had his moments. But the guys aren’t scoring – one goal in two games, and it’s pretty hard to win without goals.
I’m so glad no one is putting pressure on Alex Galchenyuk to be better. It’s obvious it’s a tough time for him right now, this isn’t junior anymore, and I think most understand that he’s a kid in school and down the road he’ll graduate with honours. But right now, he’s the equivalent of a pimply-faced grade niner, and that’s fine. In the years to come, he’ll be big man on campus.
Boston in a few hours. We need Max and Plekanec and P.K. and the gang to come alive.
It’s remarkable that even though the Pittsburgh Penguins have now won eleven straight, the Canadiens remain just three points behind them with two games in hand. Just an excellent example of the kind of year the Habs are having. And as soon as the boys do away with the Sabres tonight, it’s the Pens to contend with.
The Canadiens have claimed Jeff Halpern through waivers, from the Rangers. Halpern played for the Habs in 2010-11, is a centreman who took key draws, and although I’m a bit vague on this, I seem to recall Halpern getting thrown out of the circle against Boston, Tomas Plekanec coming in and losing the draw, and the Bruins scoring and eliminating Montreal.
It almost seemed fixed. The Bruins won because Halpern was thrown out. But I digress.
It’s interesting that Marc Bergevin claimed Halpern. What does it all mean? Will it mean someone from the fourth line might not want to renew his apartment lease? Are Ryan White’s days numbered? Somebody else? And then there were the zero goals and one assist in 30 games that Halpern managed while in New York.
So even though Halpern was a fine player as a Hab and took those key faceoffs, is this an important pick up? I don’t know, I’m just asking.
Sabres in town tonight. We need the win of course. And maybe with a job on the line, the fourth line guys will be flying.
Jeff Halpern has signed for $825,000 with Washington, thus ending his one-year stay in Montreal where he was a valued contributor, especially on faceoffs.
I seem to recall when Halpern was booted out of the faceoff circle in game seven against Boston, Tomas Plekanec came in and lost the draw, and Nathan Horton put an end to the Habs season. Although I’m trying to forget it.
Thanks for your good work, Jeff. Good luck in Washington.
Plus….Jaromir Jagr signs with Philadelphia and I’m relieved it wasn’t Montreal. It would’ve been weird seeing him in a Habs uniform.
The Canadiens fell 4-3 in overtime in game seven of a hard-fought series, and sadly, like saying goodbye to an old friend, it’s the last we’ll see of the team until fall when they do it all again. And I must tell you, as an impatient Habs fan, I’m getting sick of talking about their final game every year when there’s no Stanley Cup in the sentence.
I’m proud of them though. They took the Bruins to overtime in game seven even though they weren’t given much of a chance by almost everyone except Habs fans. They were written off early in the year when Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges suffered season-ending injuries. They were chastized for not scoring enough. The defence was considered too slow. But they remained a good team anyway.
Unfortunately, too many times throughout the season and in this playoff round, far too many players were on some kind extended coffee break which even Sigmund Freud would have trouble explaining. And in the end, when Montreal needed firepower from all gunners, it wasn’t there again.
But tonight isn’t a night to get into that for me. I just don’t feel like it. I’m going to watch ‘Shameless’ instead.
The boys came within a whisker of taking out the Bruins and moving on. Montreal was a team which was vastly underrated, and they showed everyone that even though they were smallish with no serious point-getters, they had success because of their speed and quick transition. But for Montreal to be a Cup-contender, they need all players playing well at the same time, which didn’t happen, and if I’m going to whine, I’ll whine about this.
Montreal fought hard in this final game, with Yannick Weber scoring on the power play in the first frame to close the gap at 2-1, and they tied it in the second when Tomas Plekanec burst in on a short-handed breakaway. It was tense throughout, it goes without saying, and the trophy for guts must go to Jeff Halpern for first creating dangerous chances including a breakaway he couldn’t finish. The warrior was also taken hard into the stanchion slightly reminiscent of the Max Pacioretty incident and took an Andrew Ference shoulder pad to the head that should have been called but wasn’t
All in all, Halpern in my book played a fine game. He might not remember his name but he played a fine game.
As one might expect in a Habs-Bruins seven battle, the drama carried on to the wire. With just over two minutes left, Patrice Bergeron took a penalty and PK Subban blasted a rocket past Tim Thomas to send the game into overtime. There was hope. The Canadiens could get this done.
Then, in overtime, it was like a stun gun. The game was over. The Canadiens were done. The teams shook hands and skated off. I hate this feeling.
I’m not going to watch one single Bruins game from here on in. I’ve seen enough of them for one year.
Habs fall in the double overtime 2-1 to the Bruins, but it wasn’t without giving it the old college try. Because after a tentative first half of the game, Montreal was every bit as good or better than the home team and easily could have won the game three or four times in overtime.
But they didn’t, gawddammit.
The Canadiens played like a very nervous team for a period and a half. Pucks weren’t finding sticks, players were forced to ice the puck on several occasions after finding themselves in trouble in their end, and they just couldn’t seem to find flow throughout.
Only Mike Cammalleri showed flair, and although he flew around with the greatest of ease, he couldn’t finish any of those sure-fire highlight reel moves.
The score remained tied at zero through two periods, and little by little Montreal began to crawl out of their doldrums. Maybe it was when the rat-like Brad Marchand screwed around in Carey Price’s crease which Tomas Plekanec took exception with, that brought the boys to life. Brad Marchand is the human equivalent to sniffing salt. Or having cymbals crashed near your head. Or fingernails scratching a chalkboard.
This guy reminds me of a rat more than the king of rats, Ken Linesman. And unfair as life is sometimes, the rat scored to put the Bruins on the board in the third period. My teeth still grind at the thought.
But also in this third frame, Mathieu Darche hit the post, David Desharnais skated like Henri Richard, and finally, with 6:04 left, Jeff Halpern tied it and gave fresh hope. Montreal was skating, and into overtime it went.
How nice would it be to win this. Desharnais was skating miles now. Cammalleri was absolutely robbed. Gionta too. Oh so close. Sometimes I envy those who don’t follow hockey. Life must be so relaxing.
Then, like a Mike Tyson punch in the kisser, the game was over. Just like that. The wrong team had found a way. I hate when that happens.
But now we’ve got them right where we want them. Win in front of the Habs faithful at home, then take the new-found momentum back to Boston to break the hearts of the Bruins faithful.
It’s going to be perfect!
Brian Gionta played a solid game and continues to show leadership on the ice.
Don Cherry picked Scott Gomez to score for the Habs in overtime and there’s definitely a joke in there somewhere but I’m way too tired to come with one right now.
Wiz was injured and left but returned, and hopefully it’s nothing to be concerned about.
It’s 2:30 in the morning and I have to get to bed. Goodnight.
Montreal found themselves smothered in a Buffalo blanket this Tuesday night, falling 2-0, and in the process drops to three points behind Boston instead of overtaking them.
Full credit to Buffalo. They just didn’t allow a lot of traffic around their crease, and when the Habs did get chances, Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller was there to take care of business.
So it just wasn’t to be for the Canadiens as they go from scoring eight two days ago to none on this night. And whether it’s high scoring, low scoring, free-flowing, or tight-checking, Scott Gomez still has seven goals.
PK Subban showed us a couple of great rushes and Carey Price was once again the Rock of Gibraltar. But the team as a whole certainly didn’t give fans who paid 150 or 200 bucks a ticket their money’s worth.
Hurry back Pleks and Darche and Halpern. With Mike Cammalleri and Gomez especially not fooling any goalies, it sometimes looks a bit thin out there now. Although it’s a beautiful thing to watch PK wheel with the puck.
A loss here and there doesn’t get me down. Not after seeing how they’ve hung in and had many a formidable night this winter. We just need the cavalry to come riding in any time now. It’s time to get a little more healthy and get some guys back who add some offence and grit. The 8-1 thrashing of the Minnesota Wild was only an anomaly.
Next up – the big game in Boston Thursday night. No need to go into details about this, except it sure would be nice to have home-ice advantage in the first round and Zdeno Chara pull his groin.
It took a shootout, but the Canadiens edge Tampa 3-2 in a great game, and in my opinion, the bleu, blance et rouge played far better than they did against Washington two nights ago.
This was a night of fast skating, scoring chances from both sides, stellar goaltending from Carey Price and his counterpart Dwayne Roloson, and finally, after a see-saw affair, newcomer Nigel Dawes and then Mike Cammalleri solved Roloson in the shootout to cap off a night when we see once again that regardless of injuries and lack of scorers in the big picture, this team is for real.
Hamilton call-ups Dawes and Aaron Palushaj looked just fine in their Montreal debut, and Palushaj especially had several great chances to score. Seeing these guys step in and do the job when players go down, like Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Halpern, is another fine example of the Canadiens surprising depth, and the team just keeps rolling along.
Is it smoke and mirrors? Is Jacque Martin a coaching genius? Is it Kirk Muller and Perry Pearn? Are the players better than so many think? How can this no-name team, which is far too small, with problems scoring, with three regular defenceman sidelined and three forwards also in civvies, continue to be one of the best teams in the east?
I think the naysayers owe a retraction.
I’m very proud of Montreal.
Vincent Lecavalier got kicked out of the game in the first period for trying to chop PK Subban in half with his stick.
Andrei Kostitsyn finished off a nice David Desharnais pass in the first, and in the second, Brian Gionta scored a beautiful shorthanded goal when he skated in alone on a breakaway.
Scott Gomez drove a puck into Roloson’s upper neck or lower face mask to come close to notching a big one, (and almost putting Roloson’s lights out in the process). But the goalie was just fine, and four inches to the left or right and Gomez would have had his eighth goal of the season. That’s eight.
Gionta’s goal was his 25th which is a fine total. Better than eight.
Next up – tonight (Friday) when the boys are in Manhattan to tackle the Rangers.