Tag Archives: Lars Eller

Back In The Saddle Again

saddle

The day began with Marc Bergevin dealing Hamilton Bulldogs multimillionaire Rene Bourque to Anaheim in exchange for 6’5″, 225 lb. defenceman Bryan Allen, and it ended with the Canadiens looking solid in their 4-1 win over the visiting St. Louis Blues.

The Bourque trade seems a fine move by the GM. Clear out what needed to be cleared out and shore up a less-than-rugged blueline corps while doing so. (Not to mention that Bourque still has another year left on his contract and big Allen doesn’t).

Maybe it’s also symbolic. The players know the fat is being trimmed, it’s a gradual tightening up a quarter way through the season, holes are being filled on defence (with Gonchar and Allen), Jiri Sekac is truly finding his place and giving Eller new life, and it’s onwards and upwards.

And as the important tweaks are made, the Canadiens, on a cold friggin night in Montreal, buried some beauties, while at the other end, Carey Price once again came up huge and allowed his team to get the job done.

After Vlad Tarasenko opened the scoring in the first period when he batted the floating puck past Price, Dale Weise in the second frame, again showing colour and character, intercepted a Kevin Shattenkirk clearing pass from behind the net, hesitated and calmly fired the puck over a sprawling Jake Allen.

Shortly after, P.A. Parenteau sprung Max with a beauty of a pass which Max buried, while in the third frame, Price shone, kept his team in front when called upon, and Max would notch his second of the game on a nice pass from DD, and Lars Eller would light the lamp after some great work from linemates Prust and Sekac.

A tremendous rebound game after being shutout 4-0 on Tuesday by Pittsburgh, with all four lines playing well and the defence, (with the help of Price) holding the fort.

It puts them back on track and looking impressive while doing so, and as Sportsnet’s Jason York said when the game ended, the Canadiens are showing that they are definitely for real and a force to be reckoned with (or words to that affect).

Now it’s a short jaunt down to Boston to meet the Bruins on Saturday night. The Canadiens have won seven of eight, and making it eight of nine in Boston would be a beautiful thing.

Canadiens Stomp Bruins

weise

Imagine that. The Bruins thumped 6-1 in Toronto and 24 hours later smoked 5-1 by the Canadiens.

Take that, Bruins fans.

The Canadiens looked just fine on this night, a solid three periods led by the guy whose name was mentioned beforehand not for what he might accomplish, but for what Milan Lucic might accomplish.

Dale Weise was a ball of fire, a guy who came to play, and with his fight in the first period with Gregory Campbell, then seeing him tie the score in the second on a penalty shot and setting up Max later on, it all added up to a sensational Gordie Howe hat trick.

But I’ll take it one step further, because after all that, he later on crashed the Bruins net in serious fashion, so I’m gonna call it a Rocket Richard home run.

Very impressive, those crazy Habs, even though, as sure as Bob Dylan won’t be singing opera and not one winning number will be on my lottery ticket, the Canadiens wouldn’t hit the back of the net in the first period and once again fell behind.

They didn’t get down on themselves though. They were dominant for the most part, and the worrisome power play was sharp all night and would eventually click on the fifth try when Jiri Sekac made it 5-1. But I’m  ahead of myself here. Tons of stuff went down.

Max Pacioretty was flying all night, and after not scoring on a last minute, clear cut breakaway in the first period, would light the lamp in the second and again in the third.

Nathan Beaulieu found himself in a fight with Matt Fraser and clocked the Bruin with a right that sent the fellow to the room with a sore face, leaving Beaulieu to add ice to the hand. Fraser had goaded Beaulieu to drop ‘em, and such a mistake it was.

40-year old Sergei Gonchar, after just one practice and playing in his first game with the Habs after coming over from Dallas in the Moen trade, was solid and effective all evening, including on the power play where he showed poise and smarts, otherwise known as experience.

Tomas Plekanec pulled off the coolest little between-the-legs pass to Gally in the crease, but unfortunately it couldn’t be finished off. Looked great though.

Lars Eller notched his third goal in three games with a nifty backhand after great work by Gally. Eller’s a new man.

Pleks had a wide open net on a power play and hit the crossbar. But I think at that point we could all feel a power play goal was only a matter of time and it was.

PK stood up to Lucic after the big thug had levelled Sekac. Luckily nothing developed, but good on PK anyway.

Weise looked like Mike Bossy on the penalty shot goal.

Alexei Emelin bumped and thumped as he likes to do against the Bruins. It’s a beautiful thing when he’s rattling bones. Especially Beantown bones.

Alex Galchenyuk pulled off several very cool moves to once again give us a more hints of what’s in store for years to come.

And Carey Price continues to stop most everything and show once again that when he’s doing his thing, the team always has a chance to win.

Great game, tremendous result. And if you turn your TV or radio down and open the window, that sound you hear are Bruins fans everywhere grinding their teeth and pushing down little old ladies..

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot Boston 34-22 and dominated much of the time.

The power play had a new feel to it. Therrien had two left handed blueliners, Markov and Gonchar, paired up, and two righties, Subban and Gilbert, for most of the five man-advantages.

Near the end, Nathan Beaulieu was rewarded for his fine play over the evening by getting some time on the power play as well. And it wasn’t just the d-men changing the environment. The power play units up front stormed the net, played like they were on a mission, and finally…..finally….Sekac scored after the team’s 28 previous attempts had proved futile.

Next up – Saturday when Philadelphia pays a visit.

 

Price’s Night Against Jets

Certainly a well-deserved shutout by Carey Price as he stopped the Winnipeg Jets cold in the Canadiens’ decent 3-0 win at the Bell.

Price must have had the Jets talking to themselves as he foiled almost sure goals a bunch of times, while at the other end, Lars Eller in the second and Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec in the third lit the lamp, with Pleky’s being an empty-netter.

It was another night for the third line to shine, with Eller, Sekac, and Prust buzzing around the Jets’ goal all evening. Sekac, chosen second star on the night and his second straight game being one, continues to show he’s the real deal. It seems he and Eller have some serious chemistry going, and Brandon Prust must be happier than a pig in shit to have landed on this line and is adding to the said chemistry.

Others guys chipped in too. Brandon Gallagher caused havoc in the crease and Alex Galchenyuk flashed some serious moves. But often, especially from the Desharnais, Pacioretty, Parenteau trio, the chances to shoot were there and weren’t taken. Fancy moves don’t work all that often against NHL defencemen.

Speaking of defenceman, P.K. might want to to stay away from the moonshine. In the first period he lost the puck on the power play which led to a Jets breakaway, and he almost did the same thing in the second. All in all, he was a bit of a mess throughout. It’s weird how that happens with PK sometimes.

A fine win, Price’s first shutout of the season and his 26th overall, the team’s third win in a row after a brief slump, and now it’s a matter of the Bruins at the Bell on Thursday.

Gotta win that. We hate the Bruins.

Now, at the risk of seeming like a big friggin baby, I need to go to bed. Yes I’m a suck, but I need to be fresh so I can give my usual 140% at work tomorrow.

 

 

Humbled At Home

Saying the Canadiens were lousy is pretty well all that needs to be said about the 6-2 loss to the Calgary Flames at the Bell Centre.

The Flames were excellent, the Habs weren’t. Montreal was outworked, outskated, outsmarted, gave up plenty of giveaways, and it was all capped off by the Flames fifth goal coming after P.K. fell down.

An embarrassing night for the CH, and this business of the other team usually scoring first is more than tiresome. The madness has to stop. Come-from-behind wins eventually slow down to a crawl. Like now.

Don’t look now but the team has lost their last three of four, so if it’s not a full-fledged slump, it could be very soon. It’s time for some soul-searching. I know it’s early but slumps are slumps and when the team is about to enter one, it’s depressing whether it’s early or later on.

They didn’t play well in Western Canada and it continues in their first game back at home. They need to play much better than this and it certainly can’t be hard. They just need to look at tapes of this game and do the opposite.

Random Notes:

Calgary outshot Montreal 19-4 in the first period, which is unacceptable to say the least. The great October run must have given the boys swelled heads.

Overall shots on goal – Calgary 36, Montreal 20.

Rene Bourque finally scored, which puts him on track for a 7-goal season. Max got the other. (Late-breaking correction – Bourque’s goal was given to Lars Eller later on, so forget the 7 goal thing).

Next up – the Hawks are in town on Tuesday. Time to stop the nonsense.

 

Price And Subban Come Up Big

Carey Price was often sensational and P.K. Subban scored a couple of beauties as the Canadiens edged the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

Five wins and just one loss, but without getting carried away, it was Colorado’s third-string goaltender Calvin Pickard between the pipes, and we still had to hold our breath as the clock wound down.

It truly would’ve sucked if a third-stringer shut the door. But he didn’t, so maybe I’ll just quit talking about it.

The Canadiens once again were forced to play catch up, with the Avs leading 1-0 after the first frame. Max would fall short on a clear cut breakaway, and we moaned and groaned. (I’m assuming you moaned and groaned).

But the second period took a definite turn, beginning with a P.K. blast from just inside the blueline on a power play.

Finally this guy was solved, and nightmares regarding a rawer than raw goaltender beating our team were put to rest. If someone’s gonna have a storybook night, let it be against another team.

Shortly after, cooler than cool stuff happened, if you’re a Habs fan of course, which, according to the organization, approximately 10 million around the world are. (How do they count something like that?)

Alex Galchenyuk jumped out of the penalty box, took a nice feed from Brandon Prust, and gave the guys a 2-1 lead. More and more, we’re seeing fine hints of soon-to-be superstardom from Galchenyuk. Just like we knew we would.

Jarred Tinordi, showing again that he’s the team’s tough guy, got his licks in on Avs’ tough guy Cody McLeod, and ain’t it grand when our tough guy can also play, unlike George Parros and Georges Laracque.

Speaking of Georges Laraque, I’m reading his autobiography that Danno sent me, and Georges, according to himself, is the world’s greatest person. He won every fight, he’s a saint in many, many ways, he was underappreciated and never used properly as a hockey player, and the only reason he decided to play for the Habs was because his mother lived in Montreal.

Maybe I’ll talk more about Georges another time. But back to things that matter – the game. Not that I don’t appreciate Danno’s gift. Thanks again Danno.

The highlight of the night? P.K. Subban, out of the penalty box, chased down the puck, swooped in behind the Avs net with a defenceman losing his footing, found himself with the puck in front of Pickard, moved to the right and beat the young fellow with all the swagger P.K. could muster.

If you missed it, it’s at the bottom.

A goal that put smiles on 20,000 folks at the Bell, and a big slice of the 10 million Habs fans around the world who saw it. If they have Rogers of course.

In the third period, Price came up big several times, but the game was narrowed to 3-2 when, with Pickard pulled for an extra attacker, a deflection fooled our guy, making P.K’s second goal even more heroic.

But that was it. The team held the fort, it ended 3-2, and we exhaled.

Five wins and one loss to start the 2014-15 season. If you’re wondering, the boys were 4-2 last year after six games.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Avs 36-34.

Overall a fine win, with Price, P.K., and Chucky sparkling, Manny Malhotra winning draws and playing like the mature player he is, and I thought Eller skated well and at least he finally has a point now in his six games, collecting an assist on P.K’s winner.

Next up, Tuesday when Detroit visits. The Canadiens’ only game until next Saturday.

 

 

The Morning After

It’s a little odd attempting a game recap the morning after. My brain’s taking a while. It feels like a bowl of steel cut oats. Sort of a glue-based, chewy mush.

But the United Center clash ended late last night, and I couldn’t wait until later on today. You might think I was a slacker.

It was Toews and Kane, Keith and Seabrook, Sharp, Richards, Versteeg, and on down the line. All the usual suspects. A strong, solid lineup, playing at home against Dumont and De La Rose. Andrighetti, Dowell and Bowman and just a sprinkling of household names like Bourque, Weise and Eller.

That’s not fair.

Except the underdogs had Carey Price in nets, and as the night progressed, the red, blue, and white legs found jump, the chances began, and in the end, the little engine that could skated off with a surprising and impressive 3-1 win, even though they were handily outshot. But not outworked.

It was 0-0 through two periods with Mr. Price coming up big a bunch of times, including getting his mitt on a clear-cut Duncan Keith blast from about twelve feet out. A sensational stop from Price, and it was the Canadiens who would finally break the ice in the third, not Kane or Toews or Sharp, when Rene Bourque, after almost scoring, came up with a nice second effort and banked one off Hawks goalkeeper Antti Raanta.

And when Nathan Beaulieu converted a swell Drayson Bowman pass to make it 2-0, it truly did start to feel like good things might happen on this night for what was technically a bolstered Hamilton Bulldogs squad.

A slight hiccup when Greg Pateryn, looking to impress and win himself a job, whiffed on the puck at the blueline which sent Andrew Shaw in alone, and suddenly it was 2-1 and the Hawks thought they had a life.

But they didn’t, because five minutes later Michael Bournival hit the empty net, and the Canadiens are now four wins and a loss in preseason, and looking mighty fine.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Chicago 32, Montreal 19.

Alexei Emelin thumped on several occasions, which is always a beautiful thing. I love the thumps, whether it’s Emelin or anyone else wearing the CH doing it. It keeps other teams from getting too high and mighty.

Next up, Friday night in Ottawa and then the Sens visit the Bell on Saturday.

 

Let Some Hitting Begin

Getting closer and closer to the real thing with seven exhibition games ready to go, beginning with the Bruins on Tuesday, the team that got their keisters kicked last spring in the playoffs by mere mortals who weren’t supposed to poke the almighty bear.

The bear got poked and it skedaddled right out of the rink and onto the nearest golf course.

How sweet that series was. A seven game battle royale that saw the Habs taking the opener 4-3 in Boston when P.K. scored in overtime, and game two had Montreal holding a 3-1 lead with nine minutes left, only to allow three goals in just over five minutes by Boston, plus an empty netter.

What a start, and what a series that would unfold. Electric. Nail biting. Ulcer-inducing. Ultimately crappy for the Bruins and their fans that made my heart soar like a flock of seagulls.

Ginette Reno warbling in Montreal. Shawn Thornton acting like a six-year old with his water bottle hijinks. Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt looking like he was peaking on acid.

Games going back and forth, keeping us all on the edge of our seat, chomping at the bit for the next game and then the next.

The Canadiens grabbed the series lead in game three with a 4-2 win. Remember that?

That was the night P.K. charged out of the penalty box, took a nice Lars Eller pass, and waltzed in along on Tuukka Rask, beating the goalie with a cool little move to the right that caught the goaltender flat-footed.

Boston would take game four with a tighter-than-tight 1-0 overtime win, and then grabbed game five by winning 4-2. It was excruciating to say the least.

I remember the odd Hab fan beginning to fold up the tent. Prematurely of course.

Montreal was dominant in game six, blanking the Bs 4-0 with Thomas Vanek awakening and notching a pair, and the series went to seven games, as it should, ending with the Canadiens posting a lovely and glorious 3-1 win that set Habs fans whoopin’ and hollerin’ throughout a dozen or so  time zones.

It seemed like only yesterday when it all went down, and which concluded with Milan Capone proving during the handshake that when his hockey career is finished, he’ll do just fine in the Cosa Nostra.

Frustrated Bruins players. Depressed Bruins fans. A suicidal Jack Edwards. And the Canadiens moved on to the Eastern Conference Final.

It was almost orgasmic.

It’s Boston at the Bell on Tuesday,  Colorado visits on Thursday, then on Friday the Habs and Avs clash again, only in Quebec City.

On Sunday the Caps pay a visit to Montreal, Wednesday the boys are in Chicago and Friday in Ottawa, and our Habs’ preseason ends on Saturday Oct. 4th when the Sens come to town for part two of being spanked.

After that it’s a few days to get ready for game one of the 2014-15 season when the Canadiens travel to Toronto to face the Worst Sports Franchise in North America.

How great is that? The Worst Pro Franchise in North America! That’s what ESPN decided about the Leafs organization and at this time I’d like to thank the TV channel for their fine assessment.

 

Summer Notes From Habsville

A number of things happened Habs-wise this summer, the most surprising being I was able to decipher the notes I’d made regarding the things that happened Habs-wise this summer.

Gone are Daniel Briere, Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Tomas Vanek, Ryan White, Douglas Murray, George Parros, and anthem singer Charles Prevost Linton.

Francis Bouillon, at this writing, remains stranded on the desert island named Limbo. Douglas Murray’s island is slowly sinking. George Parros’ island is somewhere near the lost continent of  Atlantis.

White now finds himself in Philadelphia where one of his jobs will be to protect captain Claude Giroux from grabbing police officers’ buttocks, and Bouillon’s future seems secure. If he doesn’t find a hockey job, the City of Montreal is ready to step in and make him a fire hydrant.

Auditions are now in process for the anthem singing gig. Unfortunately, management, with a somewhat prickly attitude, has informed me that I’m not allowed to be singer AND stick boy.

Forward P.A. Parenteau, from Colorado in exchange for Briere, is now part of the family, and Gorges and Gionta aren’t, as the two UFAs were picked up by Buffalo, a place Gionta is probably happy about being. Gorges, maybe not as much, considering it’s Buffalo.

Parenteau is 31 and hopefully more effective than Briere, who is on the verge (Oct. 7th) of becoming 37. Gorges’ passion and shot blocking will be missed. Gionta’s captaincy will be replaced in a year or two, and until then, Max, Markov, Pleks and P.K. will serve as assistant captains.

In the spirit of fairness, Markov, with the most seniority, should be the one to accept the Stanley Cup from Mr. Bettman next spring.

Signings this summer involved free  agents Manny Malhotra (1-year, from Carolina), Tom Gilbert (2-years, from Florida), and goaltender Joey MacDonald (1-year, from Calgary). And Jiri Sekac from the KHL Lev Praha squad signed a two-year entry level deal.

Those with new contracts include P.K. Subban, at 9 million a year for 8 years. Apparently there is no truth to the rumour that P.K. has bought the Sun Life Building in downtown Montreal to use as his winter residence, so you can stop thinking about that.

Regulars Andrei Markov (3 years), Dale Weise (2-year extension), Mike Weaver (1 year), Lars Eller (4 years), and coach Michel Therrien (4-year extension), also penned their names on paper.

Chosen in the 2014 Entry draft, 26th overall, was Moscow-born Nikita Scherbak, who looks, speaks, and plays like a young Alex Galchenyuk, who’s a grizzled old guy now.

Assistant coach Gerard Gallant is now the head guy in Florida and replaced by Montreal native Dan Lacroix.

Lacroix helped out behind the Rangers bench last year, and if it was he who advised the despicable Chris Kreider to run Carey Price and then Dustin Tokarski, he should be hung by the thumbs outside a Bell Centre window for several hours, and then be forced to teach our guys (aside from Brendan Gallagher) how to run goalies too.

Player Development guru Patrice Brisebois leaves and replaced by former NHLer Rob Ramage. And Trevor Timmins has had the title “Vice President of Player Personnel” added to his “Director of Amateur Scouting” handle.

Timmins is widely respected, particularly in Northern Ontario where they named a small city after him.

Former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, an ultra-talented battler if there ever was one, retired after 1124 regular season games played, with his last 5 seasons in Anaheim and 13 years and one lockout season with Montreal before that. Thank you Saku, for all you did for the Montreal Canadiens and the city. Which was plenty.

And finally, Mensa member Brad Marchand mentioned that he dislikes Tomas Plekanec quite a bit. “Anybody who spells “Thomas” without  an “H” is a rotten bastard”, said Brad.

Other things could happen in the days and weeks too. If so, just mentally paste them to this.

Darth Comes Through Again

Darth (Wade Alexander) has been creating cool pieces of computer art for several years and it’s always a good day when another shows up that I can post.

Some of his other stuff can be seen right here

And now, without further ado, Darth’s newest.

PKPortrait

Carry On Canadiens!

Wild and wacky.

And when the dust had settled, the Canadiens give a little payback to the Rangers with a 7-4 pasting after chasing Henrik Lundqvist in the second, after enjoying a huge lead that they would blow and then regain, and who knows, as the icing on the cake, maybe we’ll even see a Ranger or two suspended!

Would’ve been a good night to be at the Bell. So much went on. Lively as hell. Lots of cheering and fretting. And now the Canadiens are alive and well, and it’s on to New York Thursday to keep the ball rolling.

Montreal practically owned the first period and led 2-1 after Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec lit the lamp, and in the second period, after killing a couple of penalties, went up a lovely 4-1 after Max and Ren Bourque bulged the twine.

But everyone except Lucy in Russia knows what happened next. New York scored three goals on six shots, suddenly it was tied at a horrifying four apiece, and the thought of this team being eliminated after leading 4-1 almost caused dry heaves.

But suddenly, the sun came up again. Rene Bourque scored his second of the night before the period had ended, the boys took another lead, and in the third Bourque would complete his hat trick, DD would score on the empty net, and all’s well in Habsland.

They could’ve folded the tent after those three quick Rangers goals that tied it, but they didn’t. And I’m willing to bet that some Knute Rockne-like speeches were made during the intermission that kept the gang on the straight and narrow throughout the third.

An awesome win. Montreal was the better team. They’ve been playing better slowly but surely as the series goes on and the Rangers know it.

As icing on the cake, we’ll hear sometime soon that Rangers d-man John Moore will get a couple of games suspension for clocking Dale Weise in a play somewhat similar to the Brandon Prust hit. You know, the one that made Rangers fans, players, and coaches scream blue murder about.

And then picture the wailing and sobbing from the Rangers if the less-than-talented Derek Dorsett, who sprayed a flag kid with snow at the beginning of the contest, also gets more than a wrist slap for a nasty headbutt on Mike Weaver near the end.

Who headbutts? Only extreme nutcases.

Dustin Tokarski came up big throughout and Rene Bourque led the charge with three goals. A tremendous night. And lots of guys contributed.

Markov collected three assists. Max ended with a goal and an assist, Eller and Weiseboth had two assists, Galchenyuk with a goal and an assist, Plekanec had a goal, and Vanek grabbed an assist, as did Gally, Gionta, and PK.

More of the same in New York on Thursday please. Except for the part about blowing a 4-1 lead.

Random Notes:

Alexei Emelin was a scratch and hopefully he’s back on Thursday.

Final shots on goal. Montreal 28, Rangers 27.

Derek Dorsett’s a weasel. There are several on that team. And we love the idiotic penalties Benoit Pouliot continues to take. Keep it up Benny!