Tag Archives: Lars Eller

Second Round Coming Up!

At a loss for words here but I’ll give it the old college try.

Max, with 43 seconds left, sends our Montreal Canadiens into the second round and I’m numb and left exhausted. And it’s only the first round.

A sweep over the pesky Tampa Bay Lightning. Two periods of perfect hockey where the team would take a nice 3-1 lead, then a slight letdown in the third and the Lightning would tie it.

But Max, who couldn’t buy a goal for the past week or two, shoved it under Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis for the winner and all’s well in Habsland.

What a sport hockey is. Especially when the good guys give us an incredibly serious bang for the buck so to speak.

The agony and the ecstasy.

Moving on to round two.

A team playing with passion and drive.

Rene Bourque coming alive and again a supreme force. He never lived up to expectations after coming over in the Cammalleri trade. Until now. And in a big way.

Lars Eller, criticized frequently this season, especially on talk radio, coming through again and being the smooth and effective forward we’d only seen glimpses of this season.

Daniel Briere proving he’s a big time money player.

Everyone contributing, all the way down the line, with tonight’s goals from Briere, Eller, Gally, and then Max, which is a goal from each of the four lines.

And although the Vanek, DD, Max line was on the quiet side, Vanek would assist (along with P.K.) on Max’s winner. So the points from the line came anyway.

Imagine how proud papa Ray Pacioretty, sitting in the stands, must be.

The team was unreal in the first and second period, creating rush after rush, skating like the wind, checking Tampa to a standstill, clearing the net, making the right passes, doing all the right things.

I watched them play like that and I saw a real team. A team that takes a back seat to no one.

Now it’s a week’s wait. That’s fine. It’s going to take me that long to recuperate.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bolts 37-23.

 

 

 

 

Weise Ends It

Dale Weise would score at 19:08 of of the first overtime frame to give his and our Montreal Canadiens a 5-4 win and and a nice one-game lead in what should be an outstanding series.

Fast paced, close, tense, some bad blood, and the right team winning. Now that’s hockey!

The Canadiens easily could have lost though, especially after allowing four goals on just fourteen shots. But thanks to some timely goals and Weise pulling the trigger, all’s well in Habsland.

Carey Price wasn’t particularly sharp, but the Canadiens were still able to get it done, even with him being slightly shaky, and the boys on this night outplayed Tampa for most of the first period, much of the second and third, and most of the overtime.

It was one of those nights that whenever play moved into Montreal’s end, the possibility was there that things could go south quickly. And four times it did.

But the Canadiens never let things get out of hand, they scored some timely goals, and that big first game is won by the team that should have and did.

Tampa had opened the scoring in the first period but just nineteen seconds later, Tomas Plekanec wired it home and the teams went to their rooms all even, although Montreal had outshot the Floridians 14-4.

In the second frame, not long after Brendan Gallagher took a puck in the throat from an Alexei Emelin shot from the blueline, Steven Stamkos would notch his first of two on the night and put his team ahead 2-1. Gallagher would return thankfully. But he might not be happy with Emelin.

Back and forth it went, playoff hockey at its finest, fans everywhere on the edge of their seats and couches I’m sure, and in the midst of scrums and battles, Brian Gionta would take a nice pass from Lars Eller and score a big shorthanded marker that caused Luci and I to yell and once again scare the cat that has happened far too often this year.

It’s going to be a long series for the cat.

The Canadiens would take the lead in the third period after Brian Gionta had corralled the puck at his blueline and got it to Lars Eller who danced up the ice and found the back of the net. A beautiful goal, and the Eller, Gionta and Bourque line skated well and created chances all evening. Hell, all the lines skated well I thought.

Sidenote: P.K. Stock said we have one good line and the other three suck. Just so you know.

One of my big dreams is to be rich enough so I could have spare TVs and whenever Stock comes on, I shoot the TV out the way Elvis used to.

Again the pesky Lightning would reply after a turnover, and the way Price was looking in nets, I experienced one of those strong sinking feelings that I’m really not crazy about.

Things would perk up though after Thomas Vanek converted a great pass from David Desharnais, but Steven Stamkos wasn’t through on the night as his second goal would even things at four apiece. Tampa’s captain is dangerous. Therrien’s gonna have to come up with a plan to calm this guy down down.

Sadly, Montreal’s power play continues to shoot blanks, and when they were given a power play with just 2:01 left in the third, the chance to win it was there on a silver platter. But again…..

Montreal’s man advantage at this stage of the year is confused and non-threatening. Throw out the power play drills they recently did in practice and come up with some new ones. Ask PJ Stock. Maybe he can help.

Overtime almost ended quickly when Max rang one off the post, and usually after something like that happens, the other teams scores. But Tampa didn’t, Dale Weise did, and at that point, I breathed a sigh of relief and now my heart is soaring like a Tawny-Headed Mountain-Finch.

Game two on Friday. Without sounding like a greedy bastard, another win would be good.

Habs outshot Tampa 44-25 on the night.

Habs Spank Sens

It seems there are no normal games when the Canadiens and Senators play each other.

Friday night  in Kanata saw a wild 7-4 win by the Habs over the sinking Sens after spotting Ottawa an early 3-0 lead.

It had been a dismal beginning for the Canadiens to be sure, shockingly finding themselves in a deep hole in under six minutes of play, but soon enough, pucks started finding their way behind a shaky Craig Anderson.

And when the dust had settled, the Canadiens had scored seven straight goals before Ottawa would notch a late one.

This was the same Craig Anderson who stoned the Habs last year in the playoffs. On this night, the Sens might have had better luck with Pamela Anderson.

The DDs burned it up again, with Max getting three plus two assists. Thomas Vanek had three assists and DD two.

I heard recently that some who study advanced stats have decided that because the DD line isn’t great defensively, they could hurt the team and should be broken up.

Talk about throwing water on a beautiful thing.

Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt weren’t exactly defensive specialists either, but no one was complaining when they were popping 50 or 60 goals a season.

The way this game started, with three goals in under six minutes by Ottawa, it was certainly cause to be concerned. Was it one of those nights for Peter Budaj?

Were the Senators determined to pay back in a big way for being embarrassed at the Bell on March 15th?

Instead, Budaj was great. Tremendously sharp. The DD line would soon catch fire. And it all started when Andrei Markov bounced one in off Anderson from behind the line, near the side of the net.

Then it was off to the races, although the Sens would hit some posts and Budaj had to be sharp as a razor from time to time.

After Markov, the goals just kept coming, almost every second shot went in, and it became Weaver, then Max, Eller, Max, Max and DD, and it’s two big points and the Sens are basically screwed.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Ottawa 43, Montreal 23.

P.K. Subban rode the bench for most the first period after not being harder on checks during a couple of Sens goals. PK would see a very low 13:39 of ice time.

I truly disagree with Michel Therrien’s methods regarding P.K. A Norris trophy winner being treated like a raw rookie.

There were several scuffles throughout, including Galchenyuk and Karlsson, Tinordi and Gryba, and Gally and Neil, with a player scrum developing from it. But all in all, it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been a Canadiens-Nordiques type of affair.

George Parros played while Rene Bourque watched from the press box, and George not only almost had an assist on the night, but was also sent out to cool things down when characters like Zach Smith and Chris Neil were getting overly obnoxious.

Max scored his 36, 37th, and 38 goals of the season and when one looks at the top four goal scorers in the league, it’s Corey Perry with 41, Joe Pavelski with 39, Max with 38, and Sidney Crosby with 36.

How great is that?

Next up – Detroit at the Bell Saturday night. Should be a beauty, but more about that later.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Success In Beantown!

What a valiant, gutsy, never-quit effort by the Canadiens in Boston as the team ends the Bruins 12-game win streak with an incredible 2-1 shootout win with Alex Galchenyuk doing the deed.

Just a gigantic effort from a team that lost two thirds of its fourth line early when Dale Weise was slammed into the boards and hurt his shoulder or arm, and Travis Moen in defence of Weise fought Kevan Miller, took a punch to the head, and was helped off with obvious concussion symptoms.

Peter Budaj was as solid as a rock, and it’s funny about this guy. We’ve seen him mediocre at times, but not always. Sometimes he great, like tonight, when he stopped all but one deflection and was a wall in the shootout.

As much as I get nervous when I learn Budaj’s starting, tonight he showed that when he’s on, he’s an excellent net custodian.

Alexei Emelin had a big night, scoring the lone regulation time goal for his team, and he threw his weight around, including a beauty Bob Baun-like clean check on Milan Lucic, which of course the Bruins took offense to. Zdeno Chara was ridiculous in his reaction.

The Bruins are whiners that way. Clean checks shouldn’t cause nastiness and scrums. But with that team, it’s part of the agenda.

Mike Weaver was awesome, thumping and blocking and making the right plays and hitting a post, and when Marc Bergevin said after acquiring this guy last month that they’d been trying to get him for awhile, I’m now starting to understand why.

The Canadiens in the third took four straight penalties, and without whining about a couple of others, I’d like to say here and now that that the holding call on Brendan Gallagher was absolute bullshit.

And it was just three seconds left in the Habs fourth penalty, a high stick from Francis Bouillon (which was deserved), when the Bruins tied it up on a deflection which ultimately sent it to the shootout where the Habs joyfully burst the Bruins’ bubble.

What a gutsy showing from the Canadiens. They were outplayed for much of the first half, but they held their ground, held their lead, and Budaj stood his ground. And slowly but surely they began to get more shots, play slowly increased in the Bruins end, and they made a great game out of one that could’ve easily gone south quickly.

Yes the Bruins look good. They’re a great team and could go far in the post season. But one thing’s for sure. The Habs can beat them.

Like tonight, with two important guys gone early. With the back up in nets.

A tense game ending in a win for the Canadiens and putting a happy halt to that 12-game Bruins streak.

I truly love when Bruins fans go home miserable. Oh how they must hate the Habs!

Random Notes:

Brad Marchand had a chance to put his team ahead in the shootout and I cringed as he skated in. How gross would that have been to see The Nose win it. But he didn’t. And Galchenyuk did!

Shots on goal – Boston 29, Habs 22

Dale Weise and Travis Moen appeared to have suffered some serious stuff, it certainly didn’t look good, and with Brandon Prust and Lars Eller already out, we don’t have a fourth line anymore.

Next up – Buffalo Tuesday evening. Carey Price should start, although it’s still a bit of a mystery how hurt he actually is. Talk about his shoulder came up on TSN 690 this afternoon, and he was already nursing a lower body injury. So we’ll see.

Habs Wrapped By Jackets

It just wasn’t enough on this night for the Montreal Canadiens as they fall 3-2 to the visiting Blue Jackets.

But spending half the third period in the penalty box didn’t help. Either did the shorthanded goal the Canadiens allowed in the first period.

But it’s over now and we move on and concentrate on Saturday’s meet and greet with the Leafs at the ACC.

The guys were good on the penalty kill though as the Blue Jackets went 0/8 on the power play and the Canadiens also killed a big 5 on 3 and a four minute high sticking infraction to Tomas Plekanec.

But too many penalties. Six to Columbus’ two in the last two periods, including a too-many-men, which always sucks.

They still managed to make a game o f it, even though the fine-looking Blue Jackets team had lots of chances which caused Carey Price to sprawl desperately all over the place far too often.

It was 1-0 Habs on the power play in the first period after Brendan Gallagher’s rebound hit a Columbus player and went in, and it became tied at two in the third period when Thomas Vanek once again got the crowd roaring after a nice one-timer set up by Max.

But Columbus would take the lead, hold it, and Montreal’s winning streak, which sat at three games, comes to an abrupt end.

Can’t win ‘em all.

Random Notes:

Columbus had lots of shots – 40 to 27, and the Canadiens kept it close anyway.

Lars Eller was awarded a penalty shot but failed to score. It would’ve tied it at that point, but Vanek would get it done not long after.

Max was in a fight with Ryan Johansen, Max’s fourth career fight and his first in 790 days. He also got the better of Johansen, who was dangerous all evening it seemed. This is a great young player, a B.C. boy from Port Moody, which is just east of Vancouver..

Next up – Toronto on Saturday. It goes without saying that the Canadiens need to grab two points and help drive another nail into the Leafs’ coffin.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

Max Fires Home Winner

The Canadiens take out the Leafs 4-3 in overtime with a Max Pacioretty twine bulger, and somehow, some way, the boys just keep on clicking.

Three straight games where it goes to OT, all with Peter Budaj in nets. Two wins in those three games. One loss in their last six.

Putting a tad more distance from the Torontonians who are breathing down their neck.

It’s good but there’s no letting up. A tough California/Arizona test is next on the agenda. Four games against four good teams. But that’s getting way ahead of myself.

This Habs/Leafs clash had its moments for sure, although it started out with whistles about every ten seconds it seemed. But then things got rolling.

The Canadiens overall enjoyed a good first period, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty, but the Leafs would narrow it to one late in the frame when James Van Riemsdyk slipped it under Budaj.

There was no scoring in a bit of an uneventful second period, but in the third, after Budaj had robbed Phil Kessel close in, Andrei Markov on the power play sent a nice pass to the far point which led to a serious change of momentum.

Because no one happened to be there at the time. Except the enemy.

Van Riemsdyck burst down the ice ahead of P.K, Subban and scored one of those depressing shorthanded goals that sinks ships.

It became even worse when Kessel put the Buds ahead. (The Kessel, Bozak, Van Riemsdyck line was definitely a pain in the ass).

But it all worked out (except for the Leafs and Leaf fans) when Leafs netminder Jonathan Bernier came out of his crease to corral a puck, was penalized, and P.K. on the power play blasted it home to tie it and send it to overtime.

And that was when good old Max got it done.

Of course if you saw the game, you already know all this.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Toronto 30-25.

I thought Lars Eller skated much better than we’ve seen recently and he seemed confident and relaxed.

P.K. was full of beans and did his fair share of dipsy-doodling.

Dale Weise was nailed in the mouth by an errant skate, got sewn up and came back with a cage on. Weise’s wife probably isn’t looking forward to a goodnight kiss tonight.

Budaj came up with some beauty saves and has filled in nicely for an injured Carey Price. Thanks Peter. Now, hopefully, Price will suit up in L.A.

It’s going to be a tough road trip for the boys (aside from leaving frigid Montreal and going to the land of palm trees), with contenders L.A., Anaheim, Phoenix, and San Jose coming up. But with the Habs, who knows, they just might grab a bunch of points along the way.

They don’t overpower, but they stay high in the standings. It’s all quite surprising.

The next four games are late – 10:30 ET, 10:00, 9:00, and 10:00.

 

 

Great Game, Great Win

A rootin’ tootin’ doozy of a game at the Bell Centre, with the boys in red beating the defending Stanley Cup champions 2-1  in overtime when Andre Markov buried the puck and the Chicago Blackhawks with his second goal of the game.

An Original Six matchup that captured everything the original Original Six would muster – great goaltending at both ends, lots of scoring chances, end to end action, tremendously close calls, the fans into it in a big way.

If only Danny Gallivan had called the game. It was all we were missing.

Unless I’m forgetting something, this had to be the best game at the Bell Centre this year, or at least the most exciting, which, I suppose, is one in the same. The guys were alive. They came to play and they got it done.

I’ll bet the downtown Montreal bars were hopping for hours after, filled with good vibrations and cheer.

And what a confidence booster it could be for the Canadiens, seeing that they can compete against a fine team after getting taught some harsh lessons from L.A. and St. Louis last month. Forget the bad ones and remember the good. And then do it again more often.

A revitalized Alexei Emelin, who hasn’t been his normal self lately, snapped out of it and went out and thumped several Hawks, including a beauty on Patrick Kane that very well may have charged up an already charged-up team that would ultimately carry through to the end.

Brendan Gallagher found himself in a scrap with Kris Versteeg that of course put smiles on faces, with Gallagher, at 5’9, holding his own with the 5’11 Versteeg. It’s not often we see Gally squaring off like that, and it was another moment to make us all realize that the Canadiens were fired up for this game.

Chances came fast and furious, including some beauties when the Canadiens were shorthanded, with Plekanec and Prust coming close, and then Eller, who had it in the bag until a sprawling Corey Crawford got his skate on it. It was a great save, but a tad lucky too. And that’s no slight on Crawford, who was excellent for his team.

So close with all those chances, and yet so far, as the Hawks would tie this barnburner in the third after first having a goal disallowed because of a player in the blue paint interfering with Price, and with just over a minute to go, rang a puck off the post which almost sealed it.

But they didn’t seal it, and in overtime, Andrei Markov, from a deflected pass from Max Pacioretty, bulged the twine behind a screened Corey Crawford, and Habs fans rejoiced, especially Luci, who may have damaged my left eardrum. I enjoyed it in slightly quieter fashion.

What an enigmatic Habs team. They sleepwalked and were generally quite pathetic in Philly on Wednesday, and a few days later play a dandy against a tremendously strong Chicago Blackhawks squad. We just never know what to expect, even though for the last month they’ve been on the listless side, which more and more we’ve come to expect.

Saturday night they came to play, and let’s hope this is a springboard for a strong rest of the season.

It was a complete team effort which begs the question – why don’t they play like this more often?

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Hawks 38-20 and although Crawford had more work, Price was equally outstanding.

George Parros dressed and was on the ice for 3:33.

Next up – Tuesday, when the New Jersey Devils visit. Some real big games coming up after that but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.