Tag Archives: Martin St. Louis

Max’s Non-Blast Wins It

It warms my heart like a made-for-humans block heater. The big guns for the Rangers – St. Louis, Nash, Brossard etc, had all kinds of chances to score, all sorts of close calls left and right, and didn’t get the job done.

But Max Pacioretty did at the other end, with just over four minutes to play in a 0-0 game, with a long wrist shot that Harry Lumley would stop. And Harry’s dead.

Max’s less-than-hard shot somehow eluded Henrik Lundqvist and the Canadiens skate off with a lovely 1-0 win over a Rangers team that was not only feisty but also world-class whiny. Especially a guy named Kreider.

Highlights? Subban pissing off Kreider. Several times. Prust getting the slight edge in a fight with Glass. Eller and Stepan not being nice to each other. Lundqvist shooting his glove out to stop Max (something he wouldn’t do later ūüôā ). Price coming up with an amazing game saver on St. Louis in the 3rd.

And Dale Weise scoring or not scoring in the first period. The puck seemed to cross the line, but like Gally’s none-goal back on January 14 against Columbus, it was ruled inconclusive and once again I’ll mention that in a business that earns quite a few gazillions, they still haven’t figured out how to know 100% whether a puck crosses the line completely or not.

Regardless, the boys win their 4th straight, continue to roll along in fine fashion, and now it’s Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at the Bell on Saturday (1:00 ET) to try and stop them.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Rangers 26-24.

Price’s shutout was his 3rd of the season, blanking Winnipeg 3-0 back on November 11th, and Boston 2-0 on November 22nd.

 

Blitzed In Big Apple

Times-square-manhattan-new-york-nyc-crossroads-world

It was like watching a sampling of last year’s Eastern Conference Final between the Habs and Rangers. Habs couldn’t do much, the Rangers could.

The Canadiens just didn’t seem to have their legs, losing 5-0 to a Rangers team that was in control from start to finish. Basically every guy throughout the Canadiens lineup had an off night and need a good solid scolding from their mothers.

Serious pressure on Henrik Lundqvist was basically non-existent. Loosey goosey defence. Glaring mistakes that led to goals, from Alex Galchenyuk swatting the puck towards Dustin Tokarski instead of away from him and which landed on a Ranger stick, to Alexei Emelin getting stripped of the puck by Martin S. Louis, to Tom Gilbert being soft with his man in front of the net, to the forwards and defence letting Rick Nash waltz in alone.

But it’s fine because the nasty stretch has ended, a stretch that began on November 5th and ended on November23rd, 10 games in 19 days, and because the schedule maker has some sort of twisted sense of humour, the boys don’t play again until next Friday, 5 days from now.

But this thing definitely smelled of last year’s playoffs. The Rangers outskated the Habs by a country mile. And last year’s Rangers heros Lundqvist, St. Louis, and Moore were heros on this night too.

Montreal showed almost no attack and it was a fairly easy night for Lundqvist. Except for that fun time when Brandon Prust collided with him and which led to Kevin Klein dropping the gloves with Prust, which led to Prust pounding Klein with a flurry of knuckle sandwiches.

Random Notes:

Rangers outshot Canadiens 34-21, and now the Habs moms are free to party in Manhattan. Look out New York.

Next game – Habs in Buffalo on Friday, and then the two teams are back at it in Montreal on Saturday.

 

 

So Close And Now So Far

The Canadiens fall 3-2 in overtime when Martin St. Louis beat Dustin Tokarski, but the Montrealers absolutely made it a game, although it took two and a half periods before it clicked in.

Imagine if the Habs’ non-contributors were contributing? But when a team gets by with just a handful playing well and still takes it into overtime, it says a lot.

The Rangers aren’t that good. We’re playing without half the team.

Too many periods in these 2014 playoffs when the Canadiens have been outplayed. And yet, another game that was so close, that could’ve gone in their favour.

How close? A puck rang off the inside of the post and out again from Alex Galchenyuk with three minutes left in the third that would’ve won it.

The series only a fraction of an inch from being tied, and now it’s a 3-1 lead for New York going back to Montreal. But many good things happened in that third to give us hope, because finally the boys in general came alive and pushed.

Not everyone, but many.

Just so disheartening. Losing in overtime. And seeing guys still not showing up.

One thing’s for sure. This isn’t the same P.K. Subban we saw in the Boston series, although he tied the game in the third on a shot from the point that appeared to deflect off Brendan Gallagher.

But he doesn’t have that swagger, that dangerous flamboyance that causes fans in other buildings to boo him. The MSG folks have had no reason to let him have it.

Maybe at some point we’ll hear why PK has slowed down. Maybe he’s burned out.

Again Thomas Vanek did very little and there’s no sense dwelling on this. He is what he is.

But having said that, if you haven’t yet come close to showing up and you’re in the third round of the playoffs, it’s a serious problem. And Vanek hasn’t shown up. We need him, and that’s why it’s so maddening.

DD showed up. Gally showed up. Francis Bouillon, inserted into the lineup in place of Nathan Beaulieu, tied the game at one in the second period with a nice shot. Weaver sacrificed his body for the team.

Lots of guys showed up, although for many, not until the third. But lots haven’t yet. The clock’s ticking, and if we don’t see all hands on deck on Tuesday, with everyone giving their all, then we know for sure this team has a ways to go yet before we start thinking about the big prize.

There are no passengers on teams that go all the way. That’s not how it works. It takes blood, sweat and more sweat from every guy. The young Edmonton Oilers found that out when they lost to the New York Islanders in 1983 after the Islanders, banged, bruised, and exhausted, had just won their fourth straight title.

The Oilers learned from the Islanders that it takes supreme sacrifice, ridiculous amounts of hard work, and the willingness to do whatever it takes, even if it hurts like hell.

We’re not seeing that from a number of Canadiens. Although there’s still time. Not much though.

All we can do now is hope we see every single guy give his all from here on in. If we don’t see that, then the time definitely isn’t yet here to even think about Lord Stanley.

 

 

 

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.

Let’s Go Habs!

The Rangers have their share of guns. Brad Richards (4 goals, 5 assists), Martin St. Louis (3 goals, 5 assists), and yes indeed, Benoit Pouliot with 3 goals and 5 assists.

There are others as well, including a quiet Rick Nash who has no goals and 5 assists and seems to be one of these guys, like Joe Thornton, who oozes talent but doesn’t have what it takes when things get truly serious.

We need Nash to continue his sleepy ways.

Benoit Pouliot played for the Canadiens in 2009-10 and 2010-11, coming over from Minnesota in a swap for Guillaume Latendresse, and we were excited because he’d been the 4th pick overall in the 2005 Entry Draft. We thought we were getting a big, long-legged, smooth and budding superstar.

Kind of like Max.

Instead he was a huge disappointment who often seemed lazy, often gave the puck away, never seemed to like the rough going, often took truly stupid penalties, and soon he was gone to Boston, then Tampa Bay, and this season New York where, weirdly enough, he’s emerged as one of the Rangers’ big guns.

Pouliot’s going to want to make a big impression in this series. He’s got things to prove. Which makes it all the more beautiful when we shut him down completely.

We also need big Rick Nash to stay quiet. He’s a big talent who’s been snoring while St. Louis, Richards, Pouliot, Brassard, Hagland and others go about their business.

Let’s go Habs. It’s a beautiful time right now. The streets of St. Hubert are alive!

 

Two Points In Tampa

Canadiens squeak one out in Tampa Bay with the help of Lars Eller connecting in the shootout and Carey Price holding the fort at the other end.

Somehow they found a way again, even though many of the guys have decided they hate scoring and never want to do it anymore. Many have gone gomezionian. The scoring on this team is drier than a vermout-less martini.

But several posts were hit if it’s a consolation of sorts. Which it shouldn’t be. A post isn’t even a shot on net.

Two big points after a week off, with rust wide awake as the boys looked discombobulated throughout. But they’ve looked discombobulated often lately so maybe we can’t blame it on rust completely.

Regardless, they won the game and that’s what we asked for before it started. So we should be happy, even though the game wasn’t great and neither was the team.

The shots were low (24-21 Tampa), and the score was low – Pleks in the second period, Martin St. Louis for the bad guys, and Eller in the shootout. But the points are high for the Canadiens – 49 – which keeps them in the thick of things, way up near the top.

Naysayers continue to wait for the Canadiens to implode and it hasn’t happened yet. These folks are getting restless.

The team isn’t imploding, they’re winning more often than not. Even when they look lousy. How can that be?

And as an extra bonus, the win also ends Tampa’s five-game winning streak!

Carey Price was exceptional again, P.K. played with some swagger, and David Desharnais showed smarts often with the puck. But the team in general continues to show very little punch around the net, goals are way too hard to come by, and I can’t help thinking that Marc Bergevin will be doing some tweaking very soon.

I just don’t see much change in the scoring situation until the GM steps in and does what he has to do.

The team needs some firepower (and a couple of other things as well), and thank goodness Carey Price is having a season to remember. Otherwise, there’d be no 49 points to talk about.

Now it’s over to the other side of Florida to meet the Panthers Sunday at 5 pm ET. Two more points, even without much scoring, would be just fine thank you very much.

Non, Maybe Oui

Chalk me up as one guy who’s not crazy about the idea of Vincent Lecavalier in Montreal.

Five years ago, when he was 28 or so and a bonafide French-Canadian star who wore number four because his granddad loved Jean Beliveau, I wanted very much to see the big centre wearing the CH.

But he was on the decline in Tampa Bay in the last couple of years, not nearly as effective as he was, he’s on the cusp of being old, and the Lightning decided to move on without him. He’s not the 52- goal and 40-goal scorer he was a handful of years ago.

Martin St. Louis knows how to grow old and play. Maybe not Vincent.

However, I say all this without seeing him in action much, so I have no idea. I’m just babbling before we go out in Montreal traffic and get lost again.

Having said that, if the Habs did decide to bring him aboard and he became an important guy with his size down the middle and his experience, was somehow revitalized and helped out in a big way, and the province of Quebec and Habs fans everywhere embraced him, then I’m all for it.

This is a fine example of fence-sitting.

And his wife Caroline is lovely and I would work hard to make her comfortable when the team is on the road.

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Pre-Draft Pep Talk

The young guys are gathering in Pittsburgh for¬†the big¬†Entry Draft, and I’m sure they’re a nervous bunch. What if I don’t get chosen? they ask themselves. But fear not. Mathieu Darche, Raphael Diaz, Josh Gorges, Martin St. Louis, Adam Oates, Curtis Joseph, and heck, I’ll even throw these in – Nick Kypreos, P.J. Stock, and Mike Milbury, were never drafted either. Although I can understand about the last three.

Relax, have a nice lunch, and enjoy the ride. Eat what young, healthy 19 year old’s eat. Some low-fat yogurt, a healthy sampling of fruits and vegetables, and about 17 plates of spaghetti.

Number 3 pick, whoever you are, please do this –¬†become a star quickly and¬†make fans rise out of their seats, couches, and honeymoon beds. Lead the team to numerous victories,¬†don’t bolt¬†to the KHL, play for more than just money, be prouder than proud to wear the uniform of the Montreal Canadiens, be a leader,¬†don’t be a hot dog, punch out Brad Marchand, don’t dive,¬†don’t get into scraps in bars, don’t gamble, try not to smoke, play tough, don’t make any illegitimate children, find time for your fans, read books about the Rocket, honor thy father and thy mother, don’t talk or spit gobs during the national anthem (tiny spit is okay),¬†and down the road¬†be selected to the Hall of Fame.

That’s all we ask. Good luck in Pittsburgh.

 

Habs’ Big Line Big

Tampa Bay was given an overdose of MEDs tonight ‚Äď Max, Erik, and David, as Montreal’s top line scored four of the team’s five goals on their way to a 5-2 romp over a fairly lousy Lightning team, a team which has allowed more goals than any other in the league. (TB has allowed a whopping 275 goals. Montreal, as an example, has¬†given up¬†223).

This is slightly unusual.¬†I’m so used to¬†being disappointed about¬†the Habs that it’s like a breath of fresh air to dump on another for a change.

It just goes to show that although a team can have some dynamite in their lineup, like Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier, and Martin St. Louis, you need so much more than a few stars to be a contender. But that’s all they have, and I’m not feeling bad about this.

Montreal was simply the better¬†bunch on this night. Their passes were sharp, especially Peter Budaj’s nice set-up to Lecavalier, who, unfortunately, was on the other team. But regardless, it was a beautiful pass, right on the tape. Very impressive.

Alexei Emelin, with his third of the season, opened the scoring, and Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty would notch two apiece, giving these two 34 and 32 goals respectively, which is nothing to sneeze at. And David Desharnais once again kept the line moving at a splendid pace and now has himself a nice 60 point season (16 goals, 44 assists), after setting up Emelin and then¬†Cole’s first marker.

Frankly, I can’t wait for next season to see these three sparkle. If only Tomas Plekanec can find the elusive chemistry potion to form a formidable second line. Rene Bourque was supposed to be a piece of this second line puzzle, but alas……

I watched the game with my Russian son-in-law and he exclaimed in his thick Russian accent that it’s too bad the team couldn’t play like this all season. It’s a good point but frankly, to bring things back to reality, it was only Tampa Bay.

But still, I agree with him.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal ‚Äď Montreal 25, TB 16

Did you notice the extremely lovely lady behind the Tampa bench?

Stamkos came into the game with 58 goals and left with 58 goals. He’s going to have to get his 60th against Toronto, which seems right to me.

Canadiens travel to Raleigh to take on the Hurricanes Thursday night.

Another Fine Night For The Habs

A fine 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and although the light at the end of the tunnel¬†is still a ways off, there’s new life in Habsland it seems.

Max¬†Pacioretty finally woke up after far too long a slumber, the Kosteller boys, Kostitsyn and Eller,¬†played like all-stars for the second night in a row, and Brian Gionta, fresh from ten games on the shelf,¬†came up¬†with several great chances along the way. The team played with zip, although it took them a period to get going, and when they play this way it’s a far cry from….you know, that time we want to forget.

Tampa scored the only goal in the first period, but in the second, Michael Blunden, with his first of the year, tied it, and things took off from there. The team woke up, the fans came to life, and just after Carey Price robbed Martin St. Louis, who usually has a stellar night when he comes to Montreal, PK Subban sent Pacioretty in alone with a long heads-up pass, Max fired it home, and the boys found themselves in the lead.

It was a beautiful sequence of events. Blunden gets his first, Price comes up huge, PK sends Max in, and all they had to do after that was hold the lead for a period and a half, something they haven’t been able to do all that often. But they did. And not only did they hold the lead, but they didn’t sit back. Is this what separates Randy Cunneyworth from Jacques Martin?

Andrei Kostitsym was a magician on this night, and in one instance almost duplicated his swoops and swerves that set up Lars Eller for his¬†third goal against Winnipeg¬†last Wednesday.¬†If Kostitsyn and Eller can continue this chemistry and puck-control, the team will win those¬†60% of remaining games¬†it needs to make the playoffs. Kostitsyn seems like he’s decided it’s time to strut his stuff, and no one on the team can handle the puck the way Eller can.

Brian Gionta grazed the post on a breakaway, which would have caused us to breathe easier, but Eric Cole shoved one home with 16 seconds left after David Desharnais had done terrific work to get the puck near the goal line, and finally we got to exhale. Good thing. I was turning blue.

Random Notes:

The Eller, Kostitsyn, Moen line oozes more chemistry than a North Korean nuclear plant.

Alexei Emelin crashed the enemy five or six times, including¬†a fine hit on Martin St. Louis. Opposing players are going to have to learn the hard way to keep their heads up around our guy. Hopefully they’ll never learn.

Shots on goal –¬†Habs 29,¬†Lightning 24.

From time to time during commercial breaks I switched over to the Leafs-Wings game, and two things stand out. Our¬†game was way faster, and the Bell Centre cameras are¬†much higher than the ones at the Air Canada Centre. I’ve been whining about the high cameras ever since the¬†place opened, and¬†about a decade ago¬†I sent a letter to the Canadiens complaining about this. I never heard back, and the cameras are still high.

Next up –¬†Tuesday, when the St. Louis Blues pay a visit. C’mon boys, have a nice rest, enjoy the home cooking, nurse your wounds, and then make it three in a row.