Tag Archives: Josh Gorges

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.

Canadiens Drop Game 2

It began with such promise. The Canadiens came out flying, they were a team on a mission, a team that looked like they wanted it in a big way.

All four lines were motoring. The DD, Max, Gally combo especially was on fire, and after some great work during that first frame, Max slipped it by Henrik Lundqvist and the building was alive.

Happy days were here again. Strike up the band.

The joy lasted 17 seconds.

A puck off Josh Gorges, the score was tied just like that, and in the last minute of play Rick Nash beat Dustin Tokarski on his glove side, it became a 2-1 contest, and all that flying around and buzzing in the Rangers’ end was sucked down the drain.

The killer came in the second when Alex Galchenyuk was sent to the box for sort of tripping Carl Hagelin, who should have no problem getting a job as stuntman in Hollywood when his playing days are over. And with the man advantage, Martin St. Louis converted a nice passing play and it became a very discouraging 3-1 score for the visitors.

Montreal just couldn’t solve Lundqvist, no matter how well they were playing. And there was a young and inexperienced goaltender down at the other end who would need more than just one feeble goal from his guys to help matters.

That was that. A 3-1 win by New York, the Canadiens are now in a huge hole, and although Dustin Tokarski played well, he didn’t provide miracles, which we were relying on him to do in storybook fashion.

The fact is, although the Canadiens outshot the Rangers 41-30, they also flubbed way too many chances, chances that didn’t hit the net, pucks over the net, pucks shot wide, and of course far too many pucks that Lundqvist saw.

And then there’s Thomas Vanek, who can soon go to Minnesota and live happily after. If they still want him.

This guy isn’t close to what we saw in the regular season. You remember – the guy who revitalized Max and helped create a sensational big line, who made smart pinpoint passes, who hit the back of the net when the opportunity arose.

The guy who was turning out to be our best player. Who helped lead the charge in the final month. The guy we wanted management to shower with money. The one who was going to love Montreal’s hockey atmosphere so much. We had a sliver of hope that he’d stay and become a full-time Hab.

Now, for lack of a better description, he’s become a bum.

He’s making horrible decisions. His passes are well off. He looks lazy and not terribly interested. He’s a guy showing that when things get going, he doesn’t.

As far as the goaltending situation goes, maybe Peter Budaj should’ve played. Maybe Michel Therrien, in one surprising hunch to use Toker, ripped the guts out of Budaj. Maybe Budaj would’ve grabbed that Rick Nash shot and the teams gone to intermission tied 1-1.

It’s all hindsight now. It’s also very depressing.

Next game – Thursday in Manhattan. It’s desperate times.

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.

Bust Those Bruins

Game day, with the Bruins in town and Carey Price still not ready. Although Brandon Prust apparently is.

If Peter Budaj is in goal, we’re going to need a slightly better outing from him than what we’ve seen recently. Budaj lost his last three starts and often looked shaky in the process. I hope his confidence isn’t wavering.

If it’s Tokarski, he looked good in his team’s 4-3 shootout win in Anaheim, and there’s no reason why he can’t stone the Bs too.

Whoever’s in goal needs help in front of him. Things have to be tighter. And there’ll be no Josh Gorges blocking shots, as the Dairy Queen mogul is gone for a month with broken bones in his hand.

Mike Weaver should pick up the slack nicely. He plays a similar game to Gorges.

I guess it should be mentioned too that the boys in front of Budaj scored a total of three goals in those three games he just lost, so it goes without saying that that needs some serious improving on.

Canadiens handled the Bruins in their two games played so far. A 2-1 win on Dec. 5 with Price in nets, and a 4-1 thrashing on Jan. 30 with Budaj between the pipes and which saw Tuukka Rask get yanked in the second period.

More of the same is in order for tonight. It would also be nice to see Thomas Vanek make a fine impression.

And Rene Bourque deserves to be a healthy scratch. At this stage of the game, giving 50% doesn’t cut it.

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.

 

The Mayor’s Mouth

“I will be the mayor of all Montrealers,” said Denis Coderre said last Sunday when he was elected top dog of the city.

All Montrealers except David Desharnais.

“Allo? Un billet simple pour Hamilton pour David Desharnais svp… Hello? Can we get a one-way ticket to Hamilton for David Desharnais please…” tweeted Coderre during Sunday’s game.

I agree with players such as Max Pacioretty and Josh Gorges, and coach Mike Therrien also. This sort of thing isn’t going to help Desharnais. It’s kicking him when he’s down, by the new mayor of Montreal.

It’s one thing for fans to moan about DD’s lack of production in online chats. It’s the same as talking sports in a bar. And fans should complain about one lousy assist in seventeen games. But when the mayor says something like this, it hits the airwaves. It’s everywhere. Kind of a kick in the gonads.

I wonder how Rob Ford would handle the DD situation.

Desharnais must feel like a piece of shit. His family too.

Coderre says he’ll be the mayor of all Montrealers. Everyone except DD.

V For Victory In Vancouver

Canadiens thump Canucks 4-1 at Rogers Arena in front of 890 Canucks fans and 18,000 Habs fans.

But they wouldn’t have won if Carey Price hadn’t kept them in it early when the Canucks were outshooting Montreal by a wide margin and owning the puck way too often. Price was terrific. The Price we knew and loved. Chosen number one star and rightly so.

Seeing a big win and Price looking sharp makes staying up to 1 a.m. worth it.

That’s what we need from our number one guy – keeping his team in it until their legs kick in. If he plays like that on a regular basis, he just might be the guy in Sochi after all.

Max Pacioretty opened the scoring in the first, Price came up big stopping 14 shots, but the Canucks tied it in the second and things weren’t looking completely rosy. At least not until Lars Eller scored when he was sitting on the bench.

Eller notched his fifth of the season simply by shooting the puck into the Canucks zone as he was going off, but the puck got tangled up in Dan Hamhuis, bounced in off Roberto Luongo, and would prove to be the winner. And it was shorthanded to boot. Vancouver scored on their own net on a power play.

But still, when the period was over, Vancouver had outshot Montreal 17-11 and the outcome was unsure at best.

But it was all Montreal in the third. Max missed on a penalty shot, but Tomas Plekanec on the power play and sniper Josh Gorges both bulged the twine. Even David Desharnais and Daniel Briere found themselves with chances.

A great and successful road game for the boys, and all of a sudden they’ve won three out of four games beginning with the Flyers game at the Bell Centre. And all three wins have been by 4-1 scores.

Random Notes:

Vancouver outshot the Canadiens 40-38

Montreal went 2/3 on the power play. Canucks were 0/3. Love when the special teams are going good.

Next up – in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

 

 

Go Downtown, Men

The Habs development camp opened today in Brossard, and it got me thinking. I’m only seven minutes from the rink, and they might need a stick boy!

This is the kind of guy I am. Willing to go to development camp to hone my craft before the big team calls me up for the big stick boy job.

I’ve been told that many Habs live in the Brossard area, and if the wives need me to make them more comfortable, I can be there in minutes. This is the kind of guy I am. Sacrificing my time for the good of the wives.

It also got me thinking. Why would millionaire players live in the suburbs when they can afford a luxury condo downtown? Maybe it’s why many players don’t want to play in Montreal. They’ve never experienced what they should be experiencing. It’s a vibrant downtown, full of this and that. Better than Toronto’s downtown. Better than Vancouver’s. Even better than Orillia’s.

And way better than Philadelphia’s.

Instead, they park themselves in the suburbs where it could be any suburb in North America. It’s not right.

Brendan Gallagher, for example, has been living at Josh Gorges’ place in Brossard. There’s the ridiculously nutty Champlain Bridge to cross, and I’ll bet young Gally is bored silly at home. Gorges and his lady should buy a condo on Crescent or St. Denis, let Gallagher help out with the mortgage, and they might never leave, even after their playing days are over.

And that goes for any of them. C’mon Habs. Smarten up.

Chris Nilan said he lived in Brossard when he played for the Canadiens, hated the traffic on the bridge, and as soon as he moved into the core he began loving his life. Of course, maybe he loved life just a little too much but that’s not my fault.

Was Erik Cole unhappy because he didn’t live downtown? Is it why his smile was wiped away prior to last season and he got ants in his pants?

Maybe guys don’t play well  because they didn’t live downtown. Where did Scott Gomez live?

And is Brossard the reason why the team hasn’t won the Cup in twenty years?

It’s hard to understand. If I didn’t work on the south shore and have to battle the bridge thing, we’d be downtown. I’m certain about this. Coffee and bagels at the corner cafe. Short walks to pubs and bars and maybe the odd licensed establishment.. Old trees and old streets. People-watching. Bird feeding. Walk everywhere. Relive the Richard Riot on Ste. Catherines. Whatever I want.

I’m homesick for downtown and I’ve never lived there.

These players have all this money and they’re missing something fantastic because they want the big squeaky clean mansion in Brossard. They live in the kind of places you have to change your socks so you don’t get the floor dirty and I don’t understand it.

I think they’ve been hit on the head a few times too many.

 

Statement Sent In Fine Fashion

My heart is soaring like a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck.

4-1 Habs over that despicable team in Toronto. A statement sent that says speed, skill, and hard work prevail, and just because his team is “bigger and stronger” as Joffrey Lupul tweeted, it doesn’t mean a thing if a big portion of the team are lumbering oafs.

Leaf fans couldn’t wait for these two to meet in the playoffs. Maybe now they’re not so sure. And P.J. Stock said he was so disappointed in the Leafs tonight. Doesn’t he live in Montreal? And if so, why is allowed to?

It was a great night all round. Habs kick ass, they show they can’t be pushed around, and PJ is disappointed.

Best of all, we saw the Montreal Canadiens we knew and loved from earlier in the season, before The Great Slump wrapped it’s warty arms around the boys and squeezed out the vim and vigour. On this night the Habs were alive, led by Brendan Gallagher, who crashed and banged and scored and proved to Mr. Lupul that one doesn’t have to be big or strong, only to have heart and determination and a flair with the puck and a love of goal creases.

And it wasn’t only Gallagher who rose to the occasion. Linemate Lars Eller notched a goal and two assists, and he, like his team, played like the past two or three weeks never happened. Brandon Prust, nursing a bad shoulder, blocked shots like he was Josh Gorges. In the nets, Peter Budaj stood his ground and made the saves when he had to, and the television commentators who questioned Michel Therrien’s decision to start Budaj might not want to be so quick to jump to conclusions from now on.

The team has two good goalies, plain and simple. And Carey Price will show everyone that he’s back, the past while never happened, and was only a classic episode of The Twilight Zone.

A great win.

Random Notes:

I haven’t been able to make heads or tails of who plays who in the opening round. If this team wins or that teams loses and on and on. Maybe it’s easy for you, but for me it’s like some kind of nasty algebra.

Montreal held Toronto to just one shot in the second period, even with the Loafs enjoying the man-advantage. That alone made my heart soar like a hundred birds with long names.

Tomas Plekanec finally bulged the twine after a 12-game drought. Such timing. In the final game of the regular season with the playoffs about to kick off.

Jarred Tinordi, as he’d done Thursday in Winnipeg, used his big 6’6″ body and continued to do the things that will make him a regular for years to come. His big bang on a Leaf body in the first period set things in motion for Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk to set up Eller to tie the game at one, and after that the boys were off to the races.

Tinordi could be a big factor in the post season. His dad must be proud.

P’K. Subban was sensational in his old hometown, and to me this solidifies the Norris for our young star. We should ask PJ Stock about this and see how he feels about it. Maybe he favours Dion Phaneuf.

Tuesday the second season begins. Hey, the first one barely got started!