Tag Archives: Mike Condon

Canadiens Drop Another

slump

And suddenly, hockey sucks.

The Canadiens fall 3-2 in Raleigh, it becomes a three-game winless streak, and the plan now is to nip this thing in the bud before it morphs into something truly ugly.

And something truly ugly means losing to Toronto Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada and turning this adult slump into a grandpa one. Because four losses in a row is a nasty thought indeed.

Al Montoya has been between the pipes three times in November. He’s lost all three. We now have no idea if he’s an upgrade over Mike Condon or not.

The team was winning 1-0 in the second period with Jeff Petry banging home a rebound, but in the third, Carolina would score three consecutive goals while the Habs stood around scratching their asses and surveying the stands for cleavage.

A fine collapse. If you’re into collapses.

They almost redeemed themselves, though, when Andrew Shaw redirected Andrei Markov’s pass late in the game. But a bit later, like with a minute to go, no less, Shaw took a hooking penalty and the late-game comeback went down the proverbial toilet.

It’s now time to stop the madness, which means handling the Leafs. And then stomping on Mike Condon’s new team, Ottawa, next Tuesday,

Down with slumps.

Random Notes:

If you’re considering a comparison between this year and last, when they started like wildfire and then tumbled into the depths of hell, forget about it. Carey Price is healthy this year.

Habs outshot Carolina 33-18, with a couple of posts hit, including one by Brendan Gallagher that might have changed things considerably if it went in. But posts happen, so it’s not really worth mentioning.

Big game on the horizon.

Habs Win In Washington

rocky

Alex Galchenyuk’s two goals and Mike Condon’s often great and sometimes lucky netminding helped the Canadiens edge the uppity Washington Capitals 4-3 in D.C. Wednesday night.

Although they barely held on in the final few minutes after blowing a 4-1 lead in the third.

But it was mostly an impressive outing by the boys, and as Dale Weise said between periods, before they almost blew it, “This is the kind of hockey we knew we could play.”

Sportsnet announcer Dave Randorf babbled on early about how great the Caps were and how they were too much for the struggling Canadiens. But he’d soon do an about-face.

Galchenyuk banged in a rebound to open the scoring, Brendan Gallagher fired home an Andrei Markov rebound, and the score was a shocking 2-0 Canadiens to end the first period. And Randorf quit the gushing and began to give the Habs their due.

The Canadiens deserved praise too. They skated well, looked sharp, scored a power play goal (Gally), and Ovechkin and company for the most part didn’t know what hit them.

To add to the first period shock, Tomas Fleischmann would make it 3-0 just two minutes into the second frame, which chased hotshot goaltender Braden Holtby, and after Jason Chimera solved Condon to make it 3-1, Galchenyuk would notch his second of the night and it was a magnificent 4-1 lead.

Maybe you saw Chimera in the series Road to the Winter Classic, when he was chirping PK Subban and saying, “You guys won nine straight but that’s it. Who do you think you are?”

The excellent second period also saw Brendan Gallagher on a penalty shot and Lars Eller on a clear-cut breakaway, with neither scoring. But they could have, and 5-1 or 6-1  would have been mighty fine.

But that’s not the way the Montreal Canadiens do things.

In the third period, after Jacob de la Rose was foiled on a breakaway, the Caps suddenly came to life, scored two and stormed the Montreal net, and almost came all the way back to win the friggin’ thing.

But the boys hung on and skated away with a fine 4-3 win.

They beat the penthouse dwellers. That’s good, right?

Random Notes:

Washington outshot Montreal 35-34.

Great stop by Condon on Mike Richards with his back turned.

Next up – Leafs at the Bell Centre on Saturday.

 

Tight Loss To Preds

sign

It was tight and it could’ve been. But in the end it wasn’t.

Canadiens lose 2-1 to the Nashville Predators, with the game going to a shootout before being decided, and although the Habs grab a point, it’s just another big nail in the Molson wallet.

Nashville scored 3:16 into the first, while Brendan Gallagher replied late in the same frame, at 18:43, and that was it until the shootout.

Tighter than my great-grandmother’s corset. Tighter than a camel’s arse in a sandstorm, as the lamps remained unlit until Nashville’s Craig Smith did his job in the shootout after Montreal’s Sven Andrighetto, Alex Galchenyuk, and Max Pacioretty didn’t.

And thus, the win streak stops at one game. And it’s only the number one team in the league, the Washington Capitals, sitting high and mighty with 92 points, (11 ahead of 2nd place Chicago), on deck Wednesday.

Canadiens have 61 points, so you see the problem.

Random Notes:

Canadiens were outshot 30-29 by the Preds, but midway through the first they were down 6-1 in shots, so they did manage to regroup and make a game of it. Which is better than being comatose throughout.

Dale Weise, who might be changing his address soon, was listed as having the flu.

Mike Condon was in nets again, after backstopping his team to a win on Friday against Philly.

After Wednesday in Washington, the team then plays host to those nutty Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Two big games. Sort of.

 

 

 

Habs Do It!

kiss

The Canadiens came through in the shootout to edge the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 at the Bell Centre, and after the way things ended in Colorado on Wednesday, this two-pointer should have fans kissing strangers in the streets.

It’s always a fine thing when the Habs win a game of course, although it’s too late. But after what we’ve been through, we deserve a win.

It’s like the hockey gods got together and said “They deserve a win.”

And the heart-stopping overtime kind of made up for some of the Dead Men Skating we’ve seen too much of lately. Frantic three-on-three, and those who paid scalpers’ prices at least got a  nice five-minute return on their money.

PK turned the puck over a couple of times, but because of the sensitivity carried over from Wednesday, I don’t dare mention it.

I’d also like to apologize for not talking about Max Pacioretty’s role in my recap after the Wednesday debacle.

I was so blinded by PK losing the puck and the Avs scoring the go-ahead goal with two minutes left, that I didn’t notice how dazed and confused Max was at the other end when he went one way and the player he was covering went the other.

I was also writing the recap, with the TV turned off, when Michel Therrien threw PK under the bus.

Sorry for missing these key events. You can throw me under the bus if you want.

Tonight, Friday, everything’s good. It’s Good Friday! And I have no idea what the coach or players are saying, because my two fingers are tapping away as I bathe in the glory of this big win.

Which is too late. Unless the hockey gods say we deserve the playoffs.

Random Notes:

PK collected two assists.

Dale Weise opened the scoring when he banked the puck off a Flyers rearguard. Unfortunately,  just ten seconds later the Flyers tied it up when a long shot flew past Mike Condon, who must’ve been eyeing female ushers in the corridor at the time.

A Tomas Plekanec turnover in the third period gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead, and although I don’t know for sure, I’m thinking that Michel Therrien will probably tread lightly when asked about this.

Max would tie the game on the power play after letting go a great wrist shot from the right side, and in the shootout, Max, along with Paul Byron, would get it done to the cheers of the faithful.

On this night, kudos to Max. Folks have been hard on him, and he’s deserved much of the criticism, mainly because he’s been quite shitty.

But tonight Max came through and helped the cause in a big way.

The Flyers outshot Montreal 37-31.

Next up – Monday, when the Nashville Predators creep into town.

 

 

 

 

Beaten In Buffalo

kid smoking

The thing to do, if you’re a Habs fan, is sit back, have a smoke, pat the dog, fire up the record player, and when you’ve done all that, swallow a bunch more anti-depressants.

Habs lose 6-4 in Buffalo.

But it seemed fine in the beginning, after Max Pacioretty sent a nice pass over to Sven Andrighetto and bam, the boys had the all-important  1-0 lead.

Always good to get that first one. Except the Sabres got the next four.

David Legwand began by tying things, and soon after, Old Man Markov turned the puck over (yawn), and suddenly it was 2-1 Sabres.

Mark Barberio tried to boot the puck out of danger and couldn’t, and the Sabres finished the play to take a 3-1 lead. It also finished Ben Scrivens for the night, with Mike Condon taking over.

In horrific fashion it soon became a 4-1 game, and the Sabres rout was on.

Then it wasn’t.

Alex Galchenyuk scored on the power play, and it was 4-2.

Andrighetto, with his second of the night, narrowed things to 4-3.

Things were going good. But then Galchenyuk was called for hooking Marcus Foligno, who was promptly awarded a penalty shot, and who promptly beat Condon to make it 5-3.

But with 22 seconds left in the middle frame, Galchenyuk, who was great on this night, scored on the power play to put it at 5-4, and there was hope. Lots of hope.

Especially after the Canadiens swarmed Buffalo’s end time after time in the third period, going all out to even things.

It was tense for fans of both sides. At least I’m assuming this. It was tense for me, anyway.

Tense until the Canadiens pulled Condon, and with the puck being sent along the boards towards PK Subban, it suddenly hit the linesman, Evander Kane picked up the blocked puck, and he fired it into the empty net.

Subban was pissed.

Who knows what would have happened if the linesman wasn’t in the way? But that’s hockey. Pucks hit zebras.

The bottom line is, the CH took the early lead and then proceeded to fall behind 4-1 before playing catch up.

It’s not good to dig a hole like that. Especially when the team has a tough time scoring goals at the best of times, and especially when they’re trying to show that the slump has ended.

But at least they didn’t fold and they gave it the old college try. They came close to rebounding from being down 4-1 to actually winning. That’s good, right?

It’s tough being a Habs fan.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Sabres 30-22.

Montreal, sitting at 21st overall on the power play before the game, were 2/3 with the man advantage.

Next up – Monday in Arizona. Game time 9:00 pm ET.

kid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Night, Another….

keystone cops

The Canadiens dominated the St. Louis Blues and still lost, this time 4-3 in overtime, and we watch slightly stunned as the team that once led all teams gradually fades into oblivion.

It’s fine that they showed fire and were involved in several scrums and looked like they’re a truly fed up and pissed off group. And it’s fine that they outshot the Blues 49-22.

It’s not so fine that Mike Condon in the third period misplayed the puck behind the net and the Blues tied things up, just a few dozen seconds after Tomas Plekanec, who hadn’t scored since the invention of the turtleneck, finally found the back of the net.

And it’s not fine either that in overtime, Andrei Markov lost the puck and the Blues moved in on Condon and capitalized in gut-wrenching fashion.

The good ship Habs takes on even more water.

Random Notes:

It’s also not fine that they went 1/7 on the power play. Although it’s good that PK, with his third of the season, was the marksman with the man advantage.

The Canadiens’ 49 shots is a season-high, for what it’s worth.

They hold on to the final wild card spot by the skin of their teeth, with five teams breathing down their neck and ready to pounce.

Alexei Emelin crushed Paul Stastny with a clean, bone-rattling check that made my heart soar. I’ve missed the soaring heart, so thanks Alexei.

Max, with his 18th, gave his team a brief 2-1 lead in the second before the Blues tied it a minute later.

Sunday in Chicago.

 

 

 

 

No Excuses, But That Goalie……

It's a Wonderful..

The Canadiens, in the second and third periods at least, were in it to win it.

Of course they lost, but that’s beside the point.

Montreal showed fire and pride on Thursday night against the talented Chicago Blackhawks, but it was Corey Crawford who saved the day for the visitors, and the good guys fall 2-1.

If it wasn’t for this Hawks goaltender, we’d be talking about a Habs team that was tired of losing and finally did something about it. But we can’t say that because of &%$# Crawford.

More and more I’m understanding Leafs fans.

Canadiens caught fire right around the time Alexei Emelin belted a couple of Hawks in clean, old time, rugged fashion, and it was like a girlfriend’s knuckle sandwich on the kisser as the boys woke up, revved up, moved the puck in deep, stormed the net, moved the puck around smartly, caused havoc, and came close often.

But the guy from Chateauguay was there to shut the door.

The Canadiens, on any other night, might have won handily, but they didn’t and the slide continues. And the bottom line is, once again, aside from Paul Byron on this night, no one can put the puck in the net.

Montreal’s solid play in the second and third should give us hope. But unfortunately, their next two games involve St. Louis and Chicago in their barns, so I suppose we shouldn’t let hope get too much out of hand.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the visitors 40-33 (with one lousy friggin goal to show for it).

The power play was 0/1.

Alex Galchenyuk seemed fired up and skated miles, and how great it would’ve been to see the guy provide some heroics after getting punched out by his girlfriend and reamed out by his boss. But the storybook heroics weren’t to be.

The other guy from the Sherbrooke St. love-in, Devante Smith-Pelly, was a healthy scratch.

Next up – Saturday in St. Louis.

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Crush Bruins

Gally

Brendan Gallagher finally returned to the Habs lineup, notched a goal and an assist, and never missed a beat with his mind blowing work ethic while getting clobbered in and around the crease, usually by an aging skyscraper named Zdeno Chara.

Gally’s a huge difference maker, a leader by example with balls the size of a large planet, and we saw at this 2016 Winter Classic in Foxborough what we already knew. This guy has to be healthy in the playoffs.

Without Gallagher in the lineup, his coworkers lacked fire, but with him punching the clock they’re a different bunch. Today showed a team with character and confidence, as they did when they won nine straight in the beginning.

Not at all the boring and stagnant bunch we came to know and dislike in December.

The Canadiens bombed the Bruins 5-1 at Gillette Stadium with nearly 70,000 fans in the seats, and it was Gallagher leading the way after missing 17 games with a hand injury. He added passion, grit, and will, things lacking during the team’s big slump.

The rest of them should be ashamed of themselves. They can’t play well unless inspired by a smallish yet shifty and feisty right winger?

Why can’t Max or PK or anyone else pull off that sort of inspiration?

And every time he banged it out in the crease against guys like Chara, I was worried he’d get hurt again. Teams will surely go after him even more now, because it’s obvious he’s the straw that stirs the drink.

Do we have some protection for Gally? Not much at all, unfortunately. PK and Eller, both of whom dropped the gloves in the past couple of games, won’t exactly be relied upon, to say the least. And then there’s…….

And the Winter Classic? I’ve never been able to fully embrace these outdoor games. For whatever reason, it upsets me to see fans in seats so far from the ice. Even those in the first row need binoculars.

Often the games aren’t up to scratch, especially when it’s snowing or minus-30 or the ice begins to melt.

And who can be sure about anything that Gary Bettman loves?

But this game was good, the weather was fine, and the right team unleashed a throttling.

Random Notes:

Mike Condon was excellent throughout, including a lightning quick glove save on Ryan Spooner in the dying seconds of the second period.

The Canadiens jumped into the lead just 1:14 into the first period when David Desharnais scored his first in more than a month (which is what Tomas Plekanec did on Monday in Tampa Bay), while other marksmen included Paul Byron with a pair, Max, and of course Gally.

Dale Weise was injured in the third period and didn’t return.

Max’s arm hit a camera stuck through the glass, and if I had a say in things, I’d be telling camermen that when players are skating near you, pull your friggin camera in. How hard can it be?

Canadiens outshot the Bruins 30-28 overall, including a dominant 14-3 in the first period. But the Bruins would close the gap and outshoot Montreal 11-5 in the third frame.

Next up – Tuesday, the final game of this eight-game road trip, when the boys hit Philly. The Flyers know from this Habs-Bruins game  that the secret to success is to maim Brendan Gallagher. So zebras (and teammates), it’s up to you.

Gally artwork by Wade (Darth) Alexander. Thanks Wade.

Max Gets The Job Done

sailor

In storybook fashion, Max Pacioretty, with the captain’s C meaning more than just about any game this season, buried the puck in the shootout to give the Habs a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the curtain closes, at least for one night, on a tremendously dismal time in Habsland.

But it’s the kind of thing that can right a ship, this clutch goal, and when it happened, Max’s teammates piled on him like teenagers celebrating at the World Junior Championship.

A beauty of winner it was too, with Max putting a couple of cool little dekes on netminder Ben Bishop, who’s still unraveling his jock strap from his testicles, and with that the Canadiens put an end to something called a six-game losing streak.

Max has been on the hot seat lately as folks haven`t been happy with his play. They say he looks lazy, floats, and isn’t trying like he should, which is all the same thing I guess. But as I mentioned on Twitter, it’s exactly what people said about Frank Mahovlich when he was with the Leafs.

For a few hours at least, fans can start planning the parade once again. I personally feel the Trans Canada Highway from Montreal to the West Coast would be a terrific route.

One win doesn’t guarantee anything except two points, we know that, but how it would’ve sucked to see yet another loss in this December to end all Decembers.

Now we see light, and it will shine even brighter if the boys handle the Florida Panthers in a few hours time. Big game, that one. Imagine a two-game winning streak?

The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first period when PK Subban fed Tomas Plekanec in close, and Pleks made no mistake.

How big was this goal? The Habs took the lead, which hasn’t happened much lately, and Pleks finally scored, which hadn’t happened since that night in ’36 when he beat Montreal Maroons backstopper Alec Connell.

Maybe not 1936, but it’s been a while. Twenty-one games in fact since Plekanec lit the lamp, which is completely unacceptable and one of several huge reasons why the team has spiraled out of control.

Scorers haven’t been scoring, and tonight, the nasty little monkey was wrenched from Plekanec’s back. It has to feel good.

Tampa would even it at one apiece in the second, but four minutes later, Alex Galchenyuk would wrist a puck from 20 feet out, and the boys took the lead once again.

In the third period, after the Lightning had shocked everyone with two quick goals to jump ahead, Dale Weise sent the puck over the line, and although Tampa called a Coach’s Challenge, the goal stood and the game was tied.

The Canadiens were less than great on the 3-on-3, aside from some flurries as the clock ticked down, but held on regardless. And onto the shootout we and they went, with Max getting it done in style.

Random Notes:

A fine enough evening, and best of all, the team looked like they wanted to win. Mike Condon was sensational, especially in the middle frame when he made several sprawling saves.

The team as a whole showed more energy than lately, they were alive and gunning for a win, and although it took a shootout, the sigh of relief is one big honkin’ beautiful sigh.

Tampa outshot Montreal 39-34.

Next up – across the state to Sunrise to take on the Panthers Tuesday evening. If ever another win is needed, it’s now.

There’s only one way to drive a stake into a pathetic, unending slump, and that’s to win a handful of games in a row.

One down, a handful to go.

 

 

 

Canadiens In The Zone…The Twilight Zone

twilight-zone

I was watching one of my favourite TV  shows today, The Twilight Zone.

Have you seen any of this classic series? Ventriloquist dummies coming to life, weird things at bus stations, freaky little aliens on airplane wings.  George Stroumboulopoulos wearing shoes the length of a canoe.

Anyway, today’s episode was about a hockey team that one minute was one of the best in the world and a possible favourite to go all the way, and almost at the snap of a finger froze up like they were freaky aliens on an airplane wing over the North Atlantic.

Even the Toronto Bleeding Scabs thought they might be able to leap over them in the standings. It was that bad.

Sports writers were ruthless. Fans considered jumping off bridges. Little kids cried. Bloggers tried to think about what to write.

Why did Rod Serling screw with our minds like that?

Canadiens fall 3-1 to the Washington Capitals, their sixth straight loss, their tenth in eleven games, eleven in thirteen etc. No one’s scoring except Daniel Carr. The team has just six goals in these latest six losses. Marc Bergevin is making calls about Mike Bossy.

It’s enough to send me to the fridge where the brandy is, like a thirsty zombie in The Twilight Zone.

Next – Monday in Tampa Bay, where the boys can drop televisions and drive cars into the hotel pool if they so desire. They’re rich, pampered athletes. They can do whatever they want.

And frankly, dropping TVs and drowning cars to let off steam might be exactly what they need. Christmas at home didn’t help.