Tag Archives: Lars Eller

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!

 

 

 

Habs Trounced In Opener

It’s not surprising that after such an emotional Boston series, against a team that played such a drastically different style, the Canadiens might look slightly out of sorts in game one of the Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers.

Just didn’t think it would be that much out of sorts.

It was all Rangers, all the time. So much so that our esteemed backstopper Carey Price was relieved of his duties after two frames, with Peter Budaj getting his first shot at the 2014 playoffs.

The Canadiens need to seriously readjust. The Rangers can absolutely fly, but the saving grace is that the Canadiens can too, and once they truly become accustomed to this non-Bruins style of play, they should be fine.

Talk about a wake-up call, a stick to the groin, a water bottle spray to the faces, including ours. Just a dismal start for the team and to disappointed Habs fans who have been so excited and hopeful.

7-2. What the $%#% is that?

Ill-timed penalties. A collapse in the second period when it was just a 2-1 lead for the Blueshirts and the Habs playing much better than in the first.

But with 61 seconds left in the middle frame it was 3-1, and then with 12 seconds left, 4-1.

The third? Three goals in 3:08. All power play goals, the first with Max in for roughing, the other two because of several Prust  transgressions.

One of those games where I had contemplated paying several extra bucks and springing for a scalpers ticket, to soak in the atmosphere. To say I was there in the moment.

I didn’t, and I’m very happy about that. Now I have more money for food.

It was one of the more miserable nights in recent memory, except of course the beginning when the torch kid did his thing and then Ginette did hers. And maybe not quite as bad as game two of the Bruins series when the Canadiens led 3-1 with nine minutes left and lost 5-3.

One thing to keep in mind. It’s a seven-game series. We’ll see a different Habs team on Monday. They’ll have lots to ponder.

They’ll regroup, adjust, and come out a different team. No problem. And I think I’m going to stay away from TV sports highlights for a couple of days.

Random Notes:

Canadiens were undisciplined, including Rene Bourque in the sinbin for three separate minors and Brandon Prust given two separate minors and a 10 minute misconduct, and when the final dust had settled, the Habs had spent 24 minutes in the box and the Rangers just four.

And as far as undisciplined goes, it was the complete opposite of the Bruins series when they stayed cool, calm, and collected.

If you’re curious, Rene Bourque slipped the puck across the line behind Henrik Lundqvist for the Canadiens’ first goal, which was assisted by linemates Brian Gionta and Lars Eller. And late in the third, Eller scored an unassisted shorthanded marker.

Shots on goal, 28 for the Rangers and 22 for Montreal, including just six for the Habs in the first and six in the third. They need to make Lundqvist work much harder than that.

 

 

Dear Wife

The title was supposed to be Dear Lucy and not Dear Wife, but I thought people might think it was about Lucic and we can’t have that.

My wife Lucy is in a Russia right now and she’s a huge Habs fan who happens to be missing this dramatic little thing we call the Habs-Bruins series.

She’s missed a lot, don’t you think?

Dear Lucy,

Game six was a beauty. Your favourite player Pleks was great. Your other favourite player Max came through in a big way. Your other favourite player P.K. carries on in his superstar ways. And one of your new favourite players Dale Weise flexed his muscles in front of Milan Lucic, mocking the thug for his actions in game five.

The boys skated and never stopped working, and your favourite player Carey Price, who reminds you of your son Denis, shut the door. And I’m happy to report that your favourite blond-haired player Lars, who you want to mother, has continued to shine.

I also want you to know that your favourite Russians (aside from your sons of course), Andrei and Alexei are crunching bones, giving Carey a hand around the crease, and making sweet passes, just like you knew they would.

You’d be so proud of the whole bunch of them.

The Bruins of course are oily greaseballs as you know, and they don’t represent normal North American humans, as you also know. More like those annoying Ottomans from a few centuries back that your ancestors disagreed with.

You really need to get up at 3 am and watch if you can find a channel showing it. Or have recorded Putin speeches and clips of him playing beer league hockey preempted everything else?

I know you’d be a nervous wreck and maybe it’s a good thing you’re in Russia right now and not watching it. And with you being away, the cat’s eardrums are finally healing after being near you when the Canadiens scored big ones in the Tampa series.

I just wish you were here so you could have seen how well they played in game six, and experience the excellent atmosphere around Montreal right now. It’s like the Bolshevik Revolution, only bigger and more important.

Could you also cook me some lasagna and mail it?

Miss and love you,

Dennis

Stayin’ Alive Canadiens

They weren’t to be denied. Not on this night. Not when the strikers struck, the blockers blocked, and the saver saved.

Lars, Eller, a force in these playoffs, got the ball rolling. Max came to play at a time when we very much needed him to, notching the Canadiens second of the night, using his feet to get the puck to Thomas Vanek for a power play marker, and he skated hard.

Thomas  Vanek scored that huge third goal and another as Tuukka Rask was on his way to the bench. And David Desharnais contributed an assist and saved a puck as it was sliding ever so slowly over the goal line.

Max, Thomas, and David. The three we needed in a big way. When everyone’s going, it’s a beautiful thing.

Josh Gorges and Mike Weaver sacrificed their bodies in front of flying pucks. Nathan Beaulieu, inserted for the game, played well, blocked shots, moved the puck, and assisted on Max’s marker.

Tomas Plekanec won important faceoffs. PK dangled. The fourth line, with Daniel Briere back, kept the pressure on in the Bruins end. And Carey Price held the fort as the Canadiens rack up an impressive 4-0 win to take this amazing and emotional series to a game seven on Wednesday.

It was as gutsy a performance as we’ve seen from Les Glorieux in this postseason. The lineup was packed with battlers, guys who believed. And when they skate, battle and believe, they win.

It makes my heart soar like not only like a Rufus-bellied Hawk-Eagle.

Just a solid night, although the Bruins had their chances, including a puck off the crossbar and the aforementioned Desharnais save. But mostly this was a night that belonged to the Canadiens. They kept the tempo high and the pressure on. They allowed very few odd man rushes. There weren’t nearly as many frantic moments around Carey Price as we’ve seen in previous contests.

There was no letting up, with only a few bad penalties such as P.K. holding a stick, and they got the puck out of danger constantly, which is much better on the nerves, particularly mine if I might say so.

As special bonus, I was invited to watch it with friends and we high-fived and cheered and sometimes fretted, and all-round, it was a wonderful night.

Wednesday night in Beantown. Game seven. It’s what we asked for, and they delivered.

Outplayed All Evening

Not much good to say here. The Canadiens were outplayed from start to finish, they were outmuscled, outworked, outchecked, and basically bottled up for about 50 of the 60 minutes, and although the final score looked an almost respectable 4-2 loss, it wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

The Canadiens were dismal and they lacked drive. How do you lack drive in a crucial playoff game? And once again, the scorers, the ones we rely on to light the lamp, didn’t come through.

Except PK and Gally of course, who’ve refused to stay quiet in the series when others around them have. Lots of heart with these two, but it’s no surprise.

To make matters worse, mainstays Eller, Bourque, and Gionta were ineffective and were shut down from start to finish. In fact, Bourque reminded me of his season-long comatose efforts. Eller was slightly better. Gionta was physically a non-factor. Too small in a game like this.

On top of that, the fourth line, which has contributed throughout the playoffs, were non-existent, and Michel Therrien’s choice of Brandon Prust in for Daniel Briere didn’t prove as brilliant a move as he might have hoped.

Prust’s name was barely mentioned, although the line only played about eight minutes. But of course he wasn’t alone in the not standing out department.

The Bruins were too strong in game five, and most of the Canadiens were surprisingly inept. They weren’t sharp to say the least. I’m expecting some true grit from them on Monday.

If they don’t come out breathing fire at the Bell, there might be some serious character flaws in many that need to be dealt with.

It was almost like they’d conceded early on, maybe right around the time Tomas Plekanec performed his dubious hat trick so to speak.

It was Plekanec who, instead of taking an extra second to cross the red line, iced the puck which led to a series of events and the Bruins’ first goal.

It was Plekanec who barged into Tuukka Rask with seventeen seconds left in the first, which led to a Bruins power play goal a minute into the second period.

It was Plekanec just a half minute later who took a high sticking penalty and six seconds later it was 3-0, and for all intents and purposed, the boys were dead.

It’s here I have to agree with what Don Cherry didn’t like and mentioned afterwards. Plekanec sat in the box with his leg resting on a ledge, like he was lounging in Acapulco.

When I saw that I wondered what the hell he was doing. Maybe in Europe you might see something along those lines. Not in a Habs-Bruins playoff struggle.

And even though Plekanec was terrible and in three ways helped cost the game, his teammates weren’t there either. They’ve been reading their press clippings about how they have the Bruins on the run, how great they’ve been, how they’re in the Bruins’ heads.

Tonight, the Bruins had them in their back pocket. The Canadiens were outmatched in every way in a huge game, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Random Note:

Shawn Thornton spraying PK with the water bottle as PK skated past was bush league to say the least and a typical type of Bruin move.

 

 

Overtime Blues

A great game, fast, hard, and exciting. A wonderful example of how a contest with no goals scored can be a thing of beauty.

No goals in three periods. Great to watch. Hard on the nerves. And then horrifically, the Bruins ended it early in the first overtime period, and instead of the series being a 3-1 Habs stranglehold, it’s now tied at two apiece.

And for those who said the winner of this game will move on, and I heard it more than once today, you have no idea. That sort of thing was also said after the Bruins had clawed back in the third period of game two.

That kind of talk drives me crazy because you just don’t know and why say it? Why predict such a gloomy ending? I feel some Habs fans are hoping they lose for some weird and distorted reason and it’s hard to understand.

The series is tied. The Habs have not lost the series, in case anyone needs reminding.

What a hard-fought, hard hitting, fast, back and forth, tough contest this turned out to be. A classic playoff game. A game at its finest. No goonery, no craziness, no lulls. No goals and it didn’t matter.

If only the good had prevailed over the bad. It was all that was missing.

It’s Saturday in Boston and then Monday at the Bell for games five and six. What a series this is.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal, Boston 35, Montreal 33.

Price and Rask were both solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. And for me personally, it was once again the Eller, Gionta, Bourque line who skated the most miles. Although Michael Bournival was flying and had several big shots on Rask.

Boston outhit the Canadiens 40-32 but Douglas Murray and PK smashed the enemy a handful of times.

The Canadiens edged the Bruins in faceoff wins 38-36, which is truly an important stat. And Montreal blocked 20 shots to Boston’s 12.

Everyone played well, all the way through the lineup. Although we need more on the board from some of our regular sharpshooters.

Right now, it’s the Eller line, the fourth line, and Bournival giving the most bang for the buck. If some of the quiet guys can break out, preferably at the same time, Boston will be a heap of trouble.

Have a great Friday. The series is not over.

 

 

 

Habs Grab Series Lead

No comeback tonight for the Gooins. And now they’re down 2-1  in the series.

Ain’t it grand?

The Canadiens stepped it up, skated hard, forechecked and thumped and came away with a great 4-2 win on home ice. And yes, they had their lapses, but all in all were solid and scored some beauties in the process.

Beauties!

A Tomas Plekanec goal in the first period on a sensational pass from Thomas Vanek.

A PK Subban breakaway goal after he’d stepped out of the sinbin, was fed a gorgeous pass from Lars Eller, and broke in alone and beat Tuukka Rask.

A sharp pass from Daniel Briere that sprung Dale Weise who fired it through Rask.

An empty-netter from Lars Eller, also in alone.

Yes the game was tense. A late goal by the Bruins in the second frame made it 3-1, and with 2:16 left in the third they scored again to narrow it to 3-2.

But the boys held on, Eller hit the empty net, and with a fine and outstanding series lead, what more can a poor Habs fan ask?

Thursday they go at it again. We ‘re not asking for much. Just a severe tightening of the noose, that’s all.

PK was once again a force. Carey Price held the fort. Vanek, Max, Eller, Plekanec, Weise, Bournival, Bourque, Gallagher, Weaver and all the guys wearing red gave a serious display of pride, guts, and passion.

The Canadiens were on the Bruins quicker tonight than in the previous two games. They skated harder, used their speed, and took no bull from the greasers.

Dougie Hamilton and Torie Krug forgot to shoot high. Price was great, Rask wasn’t. Douglas Murray and Alexei Emelin flexed muscles, Zdeno Chara and Milan Luci didn’t.

Brad Marchand continues to get away with murder.

Claude Julien will probably whine for the next day and a half.

Random Notes:

PK’s goal and assist gives him 11 points in the playoffs, good enough for second place overall behind the King’s Anze Kopitar, who has 14.

Ginette Reno got the party underway, the joint was rockin’ all evening, and for me in my living room, sometimes I sat, sometimes I stood.

Lucy’s in Russia right now, and because it’s the middle of the night there, she has no idea that the boys won huge.

Boston outshot Montreal 28-26.