Tag Archives: Michel Therrien

Here’s To You, Historic Habs

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I saw the Beatles at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1966, and Janis and Zappa in Atlantic City in ’69.

I saw Led Zeppelin in Vancouver in ’73, and Evel Knievel sail over 13 Mack trucks on his motorcycle at the CNE in ’74.

NOn my TV in Orillia I saw the Kennedy assassination in ’63, and Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in ’69.

And from my couch in Powell River in 2016, I saw the Montreal Canadiens have their lousiest season in 75 years.

The historic Habs.

Something to tell my grandchildren.

And their fifth loss in a row (forget the overall loss tally) was against the Boston Bruins, with good old Brad Marchand scoring one of four Bruins goals as his team rolled over the hometown Habs 4-1.

It’s the Twilight Zone, baby.

It was last year when Marc Bergevin gave Michel Therrien a four year contract extension that kicked in this season, at $2 million per, and which takes him to 2019.

This was the report at the time;

Montreal re-signed Michel Therrien to a four-year contract extension Saturday, two weeks after the Canadiens were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“It really shows the stability that [general manager] Marc Bergevin and [owner] Geoff Molson want to establish with the Canadiens,” said Therrien on a conference call. “We’ve progressed a lot over the past two years and we want to continue to progress. It’s a sign of confidence.”

Continue to progress. Yes indeed.

Oh, you like Michel Therrien and argue that it’s not his fault this team is on the fast track into the depths of hell? Do you think getting Jonathan Drouin is the answer instead?

I don’t want my historic times tampered with. So lose boys. And then charge fans for your autograph on your days off.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bruins 39-24, with their lone goal coming from d-man Mark Barberio. The sharpshooters are still on their extended lunch break.

Next up – Habs in Toronto on Saturday. Imagine.

Gunned By Flyers

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The Canadiens, finishing off eight straight road games, fall 4-3 to the Flyers in Philadelphia, with this latest disappointment coming after a great outing against Boston at the Winter Classic last Friday.

Coach Michel Therrien, when asked about the difference between the big outdoor win and the lacklustre showing in Philly, had this to say:

“I’m glad you boys brought this up,” said the coach as he emptied his bottle of Four Aces, hurled it across the room, and opened another.”

“I don’t care if the league fines me, but I’m gonna get this off my chest. Everybody knows we’re an outdoors team. That’s where we play our best hockey. But look what the schedule maker did. We’re forced to play 81 games indoors and it’s not $#^%& right.”

“Look at the top teams – Dallas, Washington and the rest. These are indoor teams and they get to play all 82 games indoors, while we only get one outdoor game, which is our bread and butter. Is that $#^%& right? Is it?

Coach Therrien has a point. His Montreal Canadiens do not play well indoors, but the league doesn’t seem to care. But it’s always been this way. No one wants to see the Habs do well.

And the beat goes on.

Random Notes:

The Flyers outshot the Canadiens 31-24.

With the eight-game road trip now history, the team plays its next three in Montreal, beginning with the Devils on Wednesday evening. Unfortunately, all three games are indoors.

Ben Scrivens, in net for Montreal, was excellent in a losing cause.

Montreal marksman were Galchenyuk, Gallagher, and Carr.

outdoor rink

 

 

Habs Drenched By Hurricanes

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I think it takes a special talent for a team sitting at the top of the heap to lose to a team at the very bottom and look tremendously mediocre while doing so.

Yes, those wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens, bowing to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in Raleigh, a team 20-some points behind them.

They can’t be feeling good about this. If Jean Beliveau was captaining this team, he’d politely and respectfully give them all a mighty fine and gentlemanly dressing room tune up.

But the Canadiens have that special talent to play down, having also lost to the 28th place Oilers, the 25th place Avs, and the 22nd place Canucks (and were bombed 6-1 by the Avs and 5-1 by the Oilers in the process).

The only good that came from this night was Daniel Carr, called up from St. John’s in place of Devante Smith-Pelly, who notched a wraparound goal in his very first shift of his first NHL game. That’s the kind of thing I’ve dreamed about doing off and on for about five decades or more.

It’s with great pride to announce that Carr played the 2009-10 season here in Powell River, at the barn not far from my house. However, I didn’t go to one game in 2009-10, so that’s the end of this feel-good story.

But I would like to say one thing. The BCHL is an underrated league, with lots of talent like Carr winding up in the NHL. You’d be surprised by some of the names, like Brett Hull, Paul Kariya, and even Carey Price for a season before heading to the WHL.

There’s been a whack of them. Even Scott Gomez for those three Gomez fans out there.

Carr’s goal in the first period got things rolling, but the Canes would even it up on the power play on a smooth finish by Jeff Skinner who simply flipped it over a sprawling Mike Condon.

In the second, Sven Andrighetto would give Montreal the lead after converting a nice pass by Jeff Petry, but two minutes later Joakim Nordstrom tied things up again, and into the third we went.

Carolina would take the lead briefly, but Michel Therrien’s coach’s challenge saw the goal ruled no-goal because of goalie interference. Whew, we thought. But it made no difference, because the Canes would score another anyway.

Later on, with Tom Gilbert in the box for tripping, Skinner, with his second of the night, won it for the home team.

It’s not the first time Gilbert watched a nightmare unfold from the sinbin. There was that fathers trip recently when he did the same sort of thing. Now, whenever Gilbert goes home during the off season, he’s grounded.

The Canadiens lose their second straight, or 3 of 4 if you want to go that route. And they sleek off into the night, hoping they don’t get beer pored on them by drunken and disgruntled Habs fans because they couldn’t play well enough to beat the team tied with Calgary and Edmonton as league’s worst.

Random Notes:

Eric Staal hit several posts, missed several open nets, and scored the goal that was called back. This is the guy who’s the subject of trade rumours, with Montreal being a possible destination.

Staal would be a nice addition, although we already have plenty of guys who can’t hit wide open nets.

And speaking of Staal. he was sent to the box with just over three minutes remaining for flipping the puck over the glass, but the Canadiens, with Condon pulled and enjoying a two-man advantage, still couldn’t get it done.

And because of that very thing, they didn’t deserve to win this thing.

Shots on goal – Habs 38, Canes 29. The previous game against Washington, which was also a 3-2 loss, they had 35 shots to the Caps 19.

Next up – Wednesday, when the Bruins show up at the Bell.

 

 

 

Habs Win Battle Of Brick Walls

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The great Habs teams of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s couldn’t do it, but the 2015-16 team just did. Five straight wins to open the season, never done in 106 years of Les Glorieux action until now.

My heart is soaring like a flock of pterodactyls.

Thursday night saw the gang shut out the visiting New York Rangers 3-0, with Carey Price standing on his head when needed and Henrik Lundqvist at the other end doing the same.

But Price was better. He got the shutout, not Lundqvist.

The Canadiens, in this history-making game, were aided by a second period goal by Tomas Fleischmann, a Dale Weise marker in the third frame, and an empty netter from Tomas Plekanec as the clock wore down.

Five straight wins, but now I need six of course, which means they have to take out the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at the Bell. But they just handled a good Rangers team, so there’s no reason why they can’t do the same to the Wings.

I’m a tad concerned about the Wings. They don’t have the Babcockian One barking his arrogant orders at them anymore, so they’re probably looser than they’ve been in years. But we’ve got four solid lines, three excellent defence pairings, and Carey Price, so of course Detroit doesn’t stand a chance.

Not only did the boys win their fifth, but once again they scored the game’s first goal, something they’ve done every game so far. And equally important, they didn’t sit back in the third while nursing a slim lead. Also surprising? Michel Therrien hasn’t juggled lines yet.

Did God, who’s a solid Habs fan, put the hammer down on the coach?

Four lines contributing, with the best goalie in the world coming up big, and it makes for a team that’s already raising eyebrows in this young campaign.

An absolutely great start to the season, aside from a power play that shoots blanks. But they’ve won five, so what am I bitching about? Really though, the Canadiens with the man advantage have been brutal so far and went 0 for 5 tonight.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot New York 32-25, and both goalies were unreal. Lundqvist’s glove hand shot out like lightning numerous times, and Price dazzled throughout, including a series of mind-boggling saves after his team had killed a 5 on 3 Rangers power play in the second frame.

Opening ceremonies saw  Guy Carbonneau, who captained the team from ’89-90 to ’93-94, hand the torch to new captain Max, with the torch then passed from player to player. The Habs’ last captain before Max was Brian Gionta, who I was never thrilled about wearing the C, but I’ve moved on.

Andrei Markov was a hoot when he came out and circled PK Subban before accepting the torch. Good for a hearty chuckle.

David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann both collected a pair of assists.

I’m hoping the parade route includes Marine Ave. in Powell River.

 

Canadiens Wear Out Jackets

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For a team that has had trouble scoring a lot of goals, 10 in the last two games is a beautiful thing.

The Canadiens, like they did on Tuesday in St. Louis, win another 5-2 game, and their two-game road trip comes to a successful close with the gang playing solid if not spectacular hockey. For example, their power play continues to fire blanks and….well….continues to suck.

Now it’s a rumble with the Leafs on Saturday at the Bell to close out February. The March schedule is a bit of a bitch but that’s for another time.

P.K. Subban opened the scoring just 1:49 into the game with a big blast after Manny Malhotra won the faceoff cleanly and got it back to our man. One slightly disturbing thing to note – Manny doesn’t seem to be winning just about every faceoff like he did up until recently. If he’s not doing that, should he be in the lineup?

And without mentioning Columbus goals because it’s not important, the scoring continued with a Markov shot from the top of the circle, Max would notch his 30th, and in the third frame, Jacob De La Rose bagged his first NHL goal and then added another with the net empty.

P.K. would collect a couple of assists to go with his goal, and his 47 points is good for second best behind Max’s 53.  Max needs 10 more goals in 21 games to hit 40. Can he do it?

Devante Smith-Pelly had a couple of decent shots on goal, and although he didn’t overwhelm, he’s probably still in a bit of a stunned mode considering he was an Anaheim Duck just a few days ago and has had just one practice with his new team. I was hoping we’d see more physical play from him, but I’m a patient man.

Smith-Pelly worked the right side, usually with De La Rose and Brandon Prust, but at times things were juggled around because he has a coach named Michel Therrien, and he also saw a small amount of time on the power play.

The new guy wore number 21, and I don’t know if you’ll find this interesting or not, but Toe Blake, in his first season with the Canadiens in 1935-36 after coming over from the Maroons, wore number 21. But from 1937 until the end of his career in 1948, number 6 was Toe’s.

One question lingered as I watched the game unfold. How did that whole row of fans wearing Habs jerseys get tickets right behind the Canadiens bench?

Random Notes:

Shots on goal were 27 apiece.

The photo at the top is one of my vintage popcorn boxes. Here’s some more. Very proud of my mint boxes, which date back to the early and mid-20th century.

Just what you wanted to see on a hockey blog, right?

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popcorn 4

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PP Springs Into Action

Down 2-0 in the third period and 0 for 5 on the power play. But that was then.

The Canadiens’ tremendously lousy power play (28th overall) finally came to life in the final frame and not once, not twice, but three times the boys on the man-advantage got the job done and ended up sinking the home town Blue Jackets with a deserving come-from-behind 3-2 win.

Deserving because they outplayed Columbus throughout, with the final shots-on-goal tally reading Habs 31, Jackets 16. Tons of Habs chances but great goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky. Often frustrating, and the Canadiens were almost shut out.

But they weren’t shut out, and they also didn’t lose. An excellent example of how important the power play is, and how the Canadiens would kick it up a huge notch if they could get the thing under control. Three straight PP goals is a fine step in the right direction.

A decent road win and two big points. But I don’t understand Michel Therrien’s newest pre-game decisions/stategy.

Prior to this contest, Montreal had lost their last two games, but before that had posted a very fine 9 wins in 10 games. So was a complete juggling of lines called for?

Two losses wasn’t a freefall into the depths of hell. Why break up linemates accustomed to each other? Lines that had posted that incredible run.

Why would Galchenyuk find himself centering Prust and Parenteau and then Sekac and Bournival, instead of being between Max and Gally where he’s found a nice home? Why demote Sekac to the fourth line when he’s slowly but surely becoming one of the team’s most dangerous forwards?

Two losses shouldn’t bring about a complete shakeup. Of course, those with advanced stats might hang me out to dry with clear and reasonable answers that had never occurred to me, but I couldn’t care less. In my eyes, it was an unnecessary pulling of strings that reeked of desperation.

Random Notes:

Two of the Canadiens’ power play goals came from Max, with the other a blast from PK.

Speaking of PK, several turnovers and a penalty which led to a Jackets goal didn’t exactly make for a stellar game from our man who should be on the All-Star team but isn’t because the NHL continues their long-existing habit of being supremely stupid.

Brendan Gallagher might have put the puck behind the line, although it was called back because there was no clear closeup of whether it did or not. So in 2015, with all the money spent to have a plethora of cameras from different angles, the technology still isn’t perfect. Several years of future GM winter meetings should fix that. Possibly.

Next up – Thursday night in Ottawa.

 

Humbled At Home

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

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

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

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

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

Random Notes:

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

Overall shots on goal – Calgary 36, Montreal 20.

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

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

 

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.

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.