Tag Archives: Max Pacioretty

Ahoy Captain

It’s big stuff, this talk of the next Habs captain now that Brian Gionta has gone back to his home state.

The fact is, I don’t think anyone right now has what it takes for the role. Kind of sad, but in a few years, it’ll probably all become clear.

Of course, if someone is chosen this year, please forget that you ever saw this.

The names are tossed around. There’s Markov and Subban, and Plekanec and sometimes Max, and for some unknown reason, Brendan Gallagher keeps coming up. I don’t know why. But more about that later.

A captain’s not there just to make the fans happy that there is one. He has to have big time respect and admiration from teammates. They have to look up to him and learn from him. He has to lead by example. That’s why you never saw Howie Young or Sean Avery or Sergei Kostitsyn wear the C on any team.

A Canadiens captain needs to take Rene Bourque aside when Bourque is comatose and give him verbal smelling salts. He needs to tell P.K. to sometimes calm down, or chat now and again with Michel Therrien and politely mention that embarrassing P.K. in public might not be the coolest thing.

A leader of men. Classy, smart, and distinguished. The opposite of me.

The coaches rely on him to talk to teammates and guide and advise. He has to be great with the media and fans. He has to get along in fine fashion with the on-ice officials. Ask the zebras about the wife and kids. Explain politely that Brendan Prust’s fist into someone’s face was a natural reaction caused by the other player saying something uncalled for about the referee’s wife.

It would be great if the players voted on the wearer of the C but chances are it won’t be like that. Which could also lead to the delicate situation of the player being a bit of a brown noser, one of management’s pipelines. That sort of thing is for losers.

Of course that only happens with other teams, not the Habs. This is a team that rises above the nuttiness. There’s never nuttiness in Montreal, you know that.

Andrei Markov leads by example, that’s for sure, and the players, I think, truly respect him. He’s a hard worker, which a captain needs to be, and he’s been around since he paired with Sprague Cleghorn. But when it comes to the microphone or the PR stuff, it’s just doesn’t seem to be in him.

I know a bunch of his fellow countrymen, and most are cut from the same cloth. Reserved and not all great around anything remotely  resembling public attention. Except Lucy’s son Denis in St. Petersburg, who loves to ham it up when the camera’s out. But I think he’s an anomaly.

As much as I admire Markov, he’s not completely captain’s material. At least not in my book. But you might have a different book.

Same with Tomas Plekanec. Not great in front of the camera. Kind of a quiet guy I think. Not one to take a rookie aside and tell him to lay off the booze and broads. Or maybe he does, but surely not the way a Mark Messier or the Rocket would have handled it.

And if you say that’s old time, that this is now, so what? Because leaders are leaders, whether it’s 1914 or 2014.

As much as I like Pleks, and as much as Brad Marchand dislikes him, which is a definite bonus, he, like Markov, doesn’t have the makeup to be a true captain.

P.K. Subban will be a fine captain some day. He leads by example, he struts in public, and he’s fired up to win. He’s perfect in many ways. We don’t want a laid back captain. We just had one. But P.K. still has a bit of goofiness in him, probably what a captain shouldn’t have.

As much as P.K. is liked by his teammates, do they look up to him at this point the way young players in Chicago look up to Jonathan Toews, or in Anaheim to Ryan Getzlaf, or Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh?

Maybe after this season, after P.K. buys a few rounds, wins another Norris, and is voted Most Popular Guy on the Team by his teammates, then it’ll be time to put the C on him. He’s almost there. Just not quite.

The head scratcher for me is why Brendan Gallagher’s name comes up. As great a player he is, with a heart as big as can be, and a guy who would lead by example as a captain should, he’s still a kid. It’s obvious by the one minute interviews we see. He still talks like a kid. He was like a son to Josh Gorges and his wife when Gally rented a room at the Gorges resident.

Of course you could say Sidney Crosby roomed at Mario Lemieux’s house and was a captain at just 19, but these are two different personalities. I’m sure Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was also 19 when given the C, is a man/boy too. There are guys like that. I once had a teammate when I was about 15 who had to shave every day and had this serious man strength. He looked older than the coaches.

Imagine if everyone had his same burning desire as Gallagher. But he’s not captain material because he’s a kid and I don’t understand why it keeps coming up.

Max Pacioretty might make a fine captain, but it seems he gets into areas when he has to re-screw his head back on from time to time. He’s kind of like me in this regard only I probably take longer to recover. It’s not a knock on Max for having his up and down moments. It’s about a captain not having those moments. One who could help Max along when he’s feeling out of sorts.

A captain has to be a big brother. Jean Beliveau was good like this. He knew how to handle all sorts of egos in the dressing room. Max doesn’t seem to have this in his genes, nor does Markov, Plekanec, Gallagher, and P.K., although at least it seems that way to a guy who only watches them on TV and has never been in the room except during the Bell Centre tour.

The captain situation sort of mirrors the team situation. Getting there, but just not quite. I think it’ll be Subban wearing the C in the 2015-16 campaign if he doesn’t screw it up in the meantime by making his teammates want to throttle him.

It’ll interesting to see how this captain thing unfolds. Just wish we had an obvious choice.

 

 

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

Guy Should Have A Blog

Guy Lafleur should have a blog. Imagine the insights we’d get!

Guy could tell us all about his troubles with Jacques Lemaire, about why the team hasn’t won the Cup since 1993, why Rejean Houle didn’t get enough in return for Patrick Roy, why Steve Shutt was hard on rookies, what he thinks Michel Therrien is doing wrong, why sometimes there’s not enough foam on the Bell Centre beer. All kinds of stuff.

Imagine the readership he’d get. We’d rush to open his blog to see what he says. It might be the most fascinating blog in the history of blogs.

“You can’t keep guys like Vanek and Pacioretty on the team,” Lafleur now says. “They should stay home if they’re not willing to pay the price. Your team won’t win with players like that who disappear under adversity.”

Guy would get a million hits for that story alone. Advertisers would flock to him. He’d be the king of bloggers.

Lafleur was basically talking about game six of the Rangers series that ended the Habs year. New York threw a blanket over the Canadiens and that was that.

The problem, I think, is that some of the true greats like Lafleur sometimes expect others to step it up in superstar fashion, and I guess lately he’s been stewing about the team, Max and Vanek in particular, not pulling out all the stops in that final game.

Max, however, had scored the winning goal in both the Tampa and Boston series which eliminated those teams, so it wasn’t like he was going through the motions. He’s enjoyed some fine moments. But Guy was focused mostly on game six of the Rangers series when all the boys, not just Max, were stuck in mud.

Vanek, I still don’t know. Guy might have a point there. The guy had helped kickstart the team into another level when he joined them, but was definitely a disappointment in the postseason, not just game six but throughout.

But he’s probably gone anyway so it doesn’t matter what Guy says about it.

Some guys think out loud like Guy, others don’t. Bobby Orr’s teammates in Boston said that if they weren’t playing well in big games, they’d look over at Orr in the dressing room and he’d be glaring at certain guys. No words, just two eyes. If Orr was glaring at you, it wasn’t good.

Lafleur’s very much like Maurice Richard in some ways. Rocket sometimes couldn’t contain himself either, and after too much criticism in his ghost-written newspaper column, sometimes about other players and teams but particularly about league prez Clarence Campbell, Rocket was told to forget the column or else.

But no one could tell Guy to forget his blog. He could carry about things and Gary Bettman or Geoff Molson couldn’t say a thing.

C’mon Guy, start your blog. Get it all out, right or wrong, and make some serious coin doing it.

 

 

Tokarski Saves The Day

The Canadiens, with sensational goaltending from DustinTokarski and an overtime goal by Alex Galchenyuk, win game three 3-2 and make the series a series.

Not that they deserved it but whatever.

Yes they were embarrassingly outplayed for much of the evening and outshot 37-25. But when the sports news comes on, the intro will say that the Canadiens are back in it after winning in overtime. Then I can turn the TV off, smile, and carry on.

However, the boys might want to think about playing a tad better than this. If you’re a Habs fan and didn’t see the game, it might have been a good thing, except you would have missed a young goalie stand on his head.

Dustin Tokarski was simply excellent. Surprisingly excellent. He stopped pucks left and right. Mr. Price couldn’t have played better.

And although I feel for Peter Budaj, after seeing the kid hold the fort in such fashion, it’s easier now to understand why the coaches went with him, even though he had no experience.

Toker won the game for Montreal plain and simple. It was him and no one else, even though the puck went by Henny Lunny three times.

Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner but was mediocre, as was Tomas Plekanec, who fed the puck to Galchenyuk for the winner, as was Thomas Vanek, who assisted on Daniel Briere’s goal that gave the Habs a late 2-1 lead, as was P.K. Subban, who gave the puck up at the blueline that led to the Rangers’ opening goal.

They were all mediocre and they weren’t the only ones. And it was weird to see PK so ordinary.

Not their finest moments, but the team won. Surely that has to deflate the other team.

The Canadiens, thanks to Dustin Tokarski, kept the Rangers to two goals, some greasy ones got by the guy with good hair at the other end, and the series is narrowed to 2-1 instead of a nightmarish 3-0.

It could also lead to great things. The Stanley Cup Finals might have crossed the Rangers’ minds ever so slightly, and instead they lose the game and realize now that if they lose game four and the thing is all tied up, life just might really suck.

The Canadiens know they played poorly, how could they not, but realize they have a young goalie doing the job nicely with Price out. He’s given his team a huge boost, and by no means are they out of it.

The chance of being in the Finals is alive and well, all because of the young guy from Saskatchewan donning the pads.

Maybe from all of this we’ll see the Canadiens at their finest again, playing the way we know they can play, which we haven’t seen yet in this series except for a few minutes of game two.

They won this game three by the skin of their teeth. They dodged a bullet. Beautiful, except they were quite lousy while doing so.

Maybe Dustin Tokarski has turned the series around.

Random Notes:

Not everyone was terrible. Max, DD, and Gally played hard.Dale Weise has some moments. Not many but some. Brandon Prust showed passion. Markov was involved.

But two thirds of the team were less than good and it’s disturbing. Are the Rangers that strong that they made many of our guys look like they were stuck in cement? I don’t think so.

 

 

 

 

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.

Cover Boys

Thursday’s Le Journal de Montreal, with a front page photo of some of the guys when the clock hit zero.

Rene Bourque is thinking “Oh man, I’m a part of this, I’ve helped, and I’m lovin’ it!” Dale Weise is going “whoooo!” because he truly loves the CH, and he knows how proud his dad is right now . Thomas Vanek is thinking “I’m on a team I really love”. Max is saying “She’s done, we did it. Sweet!!”

And the two kids, Michael Bournival and Nathan Beaulieu are saying “Wow, probably the best I’ve ever felt!”

journal

Bye Bye Bruins

Don’t poke the bear? Why, what happens?

I found that statement arrogant and I wanted to shove it down the throat of anyone who said it.

How sweet it is. How sweet that the Montreal Canadiens went into Boston and won game seven and the series. Once again the Canadiens prove to be Boston’s biggest headache.

I love that!

How sweet that with a hard-fought 3-1 win, the Habs send Boston fans home unhappy and the Bruins into summer hibernation.

How sweet that Dale Weise got the game’s first goal, that Max Pacioretty scored his second in two nights, and Daniel Briere notched an assist on Weise’s goal and banked a puck off Zdeno Chara’s skate for the insurance marker.

Thank you Zdeno. You ruined any chance of a comeback. With a little help from Johnny Boychuk, who was penalized in the last few minutes for crosschecking Michael Bournival in the face.

Self destruction, and don’t blame the zebras for ruining the party.

It wasn’t easy for the Canadiens though. Not by a country mile. The Bruins spent far too much time in Montreal’s end, pelting 30 shots at Carey Price while just 18 went Tuukka Rask’s way.

The pressure was on, but Price was once again outstanding, and when a goalie allows just one goal in two pressure-packed playoff games, you know he’s zoned in, and now even more so, the sky really is the limit.

I wonder what Don Cherry is doing, now that the bear got poked not quite the way he was thinking. Put away your Bruins cufflinks and ties, Don. And if you dig deep, maybe you can think of  a couple of nice words to say about the Montreal Canadiens next time you’re on TV. Can you bring yourself to do this, or is it simply impossible?

Brad Marchand? Such a despicable piece of work. We know he’s not exactly a Mensa candidate, but showering Price with snow was truly an idiotic move. And his punching, slashing, chopping, and hacking added up to exactly nothing.

And I don’t know yet what tasteless and classless things Milan Lucic said to Dale Weise during the handshake, but whatever it was, I suppose it’s not all that surprising.

But that’s all I want to say about that team. They’re hibernating and we’re moving on to meet the Rangers to decide best in the east. How cool is that?

This series win was all about hard work and digging deep. About plumbers becoming household names and guys believing. It was about not giving up, giving all they had, and we as fans benefit from having such a character team to cheer for.

We savour this, let it sink in for the next few days, and focus on how the boys match up against Henrik Lundqvist and Marty St. Louis and rest of the Blueshirts.

But right now, our team got it done against a very fine Bruins team, and it’s something to be very proud of.

 

 

 

 

I just can’t say enough about this team right now. Such character throughout. Digging deep, playing with heart and soul, and winning games six and seven

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.

Murphy Would Be Proud

Murphy

This photo of Murphy was sent to me from an old friend who passed it on from a friend of his named Kay, a Habs fan who apparently reads my blog but didn’t know if she should send it or not.

No one should ever feel they shouldn’t send stuff like this to me. It’s always appreciated, and if anyone else has a picture of their pet dressed in Habs clothes, what are you waiting for?

Murphy passed away two years ago, and when I look at his picture, it makes me sad that he can’t see the terrific and exciting team on the ice now. He’d be so proud.

He was never able to watch PK come into his own and capture the Norris, or fully enjoy Carey Price, or love what Brendan Gallagher does, or see Max score 39. Or lay at Kay’s feet and watch his Habs seriously compete for all the marbles.

He came from a different generation, when the sky wasn’t the limit like it is now.

When Murphy wasn’t chasing squirrels and getting excited when his folks came home, he had to endure the Gomez years. The Kostitsyn years. The Samsonov, Laraque, Komisarek, Kaberle years. The years when even the Leafs were better.

He was a frisky young Habs fan when his team didn’t make the playoffs four out of five years in the late-’90s-early-2000s and then again in 2006-07. He endured such bleak days.

Kay might have told him there were times when he was young when the team was losing money and in disarray, and it was probably enough to drive him to drink out of the toilet more than usual and take no bullshit from the cat.

Murphy lived through trying times but he still wore the sweater. If only he could’ve held on for a few more years. He’d be so happy.