Tag Archives: Rene Bourque

Back In The Saddle Again

saddle

The day began with Marc Bergevin dealing Hamilton Bulldogs multimillionaire Rene Bourque to Anaheim in exchange for 6’5″, 225 lb. defenceman Bryan Allen, and it ended with the Canadiens looking solid in their 4-1 win over the visiting St. Louis Blues.

The Bourque trade seems a fine move by the GM. Clear out what needed to be cleared out and shore up a less-than-rugged blueline corps while doing so. (Not to mention that Bourque still has another year left on his contract and big Allen doesn’t).

Maybe it’s also symbolic. The players know the fat is being trimmed, it’s a gradual tightening up a quarter way through the season, holes are being filled on defence (with Gonchar and Allen), Jiri Sekac is truly finding his place and giving Eller new life, and it’s onwards and upwards.

And as the important tweaks are made, the Canadiens, on a cold friggin night in Montreal, buried some beauties, while at the other end, Carey Price once again came up huge and allowed his team to get the job done.

After Vlad Tarasenko opened the scoring in the first period when he batted the floating puck past Price, Dale Weise in the second frame, again showing colour and character, intercepted a Kevin Shattenkirk clearing pass from behind the net, hesitated and calmly fired the puck over a sprawling Jake Allen.

Shortly after, P.A. Parenteau sprung Max with a beauty of a pass which Max buried, while in the third frame, Price shone, kept his team in front when called upon, and Max would notch his second of the game on a nice pass from DD, and Lars Eller would light the lamp after some great work from linemates Prust and Sekac.

A tremendous rebound game after being shutout 4-0 on Tuesday by Pittsburgh, with all four lines playing well and the defence, (with the help of Price) holding the fort.

It puts them back on track and looking impressive while doing so, and as Sportsnet’s Jason York said when the game ended, the Canadiens are showing that they are definitely for real and a force to be reckoned with (or words to that affect).

Now it’s a short jaunt down to Boston to meet the Bruins on Saturday night. The Canadiens have won seven of eight, and making it eight of nine in Boston would be a beautiful thing.

Moen To Dallas For Gonchar

Marc Bergevin isn’t sitting pat by first putting Rene Bourque on waivers and on to Hamilton, and now sending Travis Moen to the Dallas Stars for 40-year old d-man Sergei Gonchar.

This definitely makes Montreal’s blueline more experienced, considering Gonchar and Don Cherry are about the same age, although it remains to be seen how this is going to work out because of that.

Hopefully Gonchar’s experience will rub off on youngsters Tinordi and Beaulieu, and as my co-worker Sean Farrell, who covers the Habs for NHL.com says, Gonchar’s biggest plus is his value on the power play, although of course he’s not the player he once was.

The Canadiens power play isn’t what it once was either.

Details can be seen here – Canadiens acquire Gonchar

Good luck to Travis Moen, a good, hard-nosed soldier during his time with the Canadiens.

Bourque Placed On Waivers

To paraphrase a line from a Led Zeppelin song (Heartbreaker) , “Hey fellows and gals, have you heard the news!”, Rene Bourque has been placed on waivers, which means it’s another team or a demotion to the Hamilton Bulldogs for the guy who simply hasn’t been earning his paycheque, unless you consider 2 assists in 13 games and a minus-9 to be good.

Thanks to Danno for sending me the news, which is right here – Bourque on waivers

One good playoff performance last spring wasn’t enough and rightly so to keep Bourque in the lineup. The team is trying be a contender, and underachievers need not apply.

Sekac Outstanding In Habs Win

Sekac

Lapointe

It began with an emotional ceremony that saw Guy Lapointe’s number 5 raised to the rafters between his buddies Savard and Robinson.

And the game began like so many others, with the Canadiens not scoring and looking befuddled in the process, relying on Carey Price to keep them in it once again.

But in the second and third they were the team we’ve been craving to see. A team that suddenly found cohesion and speed, with the top three lines dangling and creating chances, and the fourth line punching the clock and sometimes coming close to adding to the festivities, as in Dale Weise ringing one off the crossbar.

And as much as it was a night for Guy Lapointe and a big win that just might boot this group out of the doldrums (I said “might”), it was a coming out party for Jiri Sekac, a healthy scratch for the last seven games, who scored a goal and added an assist and named first star of the night.

If this is what we’re going to see instead of the usual Rene Bourque effort, maybe we could buy Bourque the odd coffee and hot dog as our way of saying thank you for the great games he last played. Last spring.

A big, important, and impressive win on Guy Lapointe night. Imagine if the Canadiens were embarrassed on this special occasion. But they weren’t, and it was a happy night at the Bell for the home team, the hometown fans, and hopefully Mr. Lapointe, who happens to be a scout for the Wild.

The Canadiens got on the scoreboard first, something not often seen, when Gally wired one over the shoulder of Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper, and after the Wild had evened things up, Lars Eller, with 50 seconds left in the period put the boys ahead again.

In the third, it was Sekac and then Max, and Minnesota was done like dinner.

Two goals in the second, two in the third. A great forty minutes. Now if they can only start scoring in the first. And if they can continue what they started.

Random Notes:

The Sekac, Eller and Prust line combined for 6 points  – Sekac a goal and an assist, Eller a goal and an assist, and Prust, who was outstanding in this game, adding 2 assists.

Other point-getters – Gally and Max with a goal each, and Pleky, Parenteau, and DD with assists.

Next up – Tuesday, when Winnipeg pays a visit.

 

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.

 

Habs Chuggin’ Along

It was a simple enough game plan. Beat Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers, the team that ended the boys’ playoff hopes and dreams last spring.

Win and it would mean a breathtaking 7 wins and 1 loss out of the gate.

And win the Montreal Canadiens did, with a score of 3-1 over the visiting Blueshirts, and now it’s the big silver bird west to Edmonton on Monday, Calgary Tuesday, and Vancouver on Thursday.

It’s a good thing the western swing begins in Alberta and not Vancouver. The West Coast is preparing to batten down the hatches for hurricane-type weather, and a hurricane outside and a Habs hurricane inside just wouldn’t be fair to the locals.

Carey Price was brilliant on numerous occasions on this Saturday night at the Bell. His glove hand flew out like a striking snake,  with more than a handful of Rangers’ quick and close-in shots swallowed up by Price’s trapper.

It was Price’s show, not Lundqvist’s. All part of the perfect game plan.

Finally the Canadiens would open the scoring, something they had managed only one other time in this early part of the season. And it was done in style when Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty, on the ice killing a penalty, found themselves with a clear-cut two on nothing breakaway.

After four passes back and forth, Pleky finished off what had amounted to a perfect and unstoppable play.

1-1 after the first. 2-1 in the second when Lars Eller notched his first goal of the season. And in the third frame, after Eller hit the post, Dale Weise would dig the puck out to Max and the Rangers were sunk.

The Canadiens in general were solid, the Eller, Weise, Bourque combo made an impact, Price was amazing when he had to be, and Max made things count on the all-important first and third goals. But it’s a team game and plenty of guys punched the clock and made it work.

Makes my chest swell. Kind of makes it level with my stomach.

Such an impressive start to the season. Keep it rolling on the western swing to close out October and make this an absolute month to remember.

 

Toker Comes Up Big

Not a great start for the Montreal Canadiens in Washington, outshot in the first period 15-2, and maybe looking only slightly less lethargic in the second.

But with Dustin Tokarski holding the fort and the team playing slightly better as the night wore on, all it took was one goal in regulation and several in the shootout and the first two games are in the bag with four points collected.

Flat they were, for the first half at least. They played like Monica Lewinsky had woke them up from their afternoon naps at the hotel. But you could see their legs moving well in the third while down just a goal, and soon enough, Canada’s team, those Montreal Canadiens, found a way to get it done.

Did the Brandon Prust fight with Liam O’Brien in the second period liven up the bench? Was it the no-goal by P.A. Parenteau, called back because of Rene Bourque clipping Braden Holtby’s pad, that got them thinking they should probably pull up their socks?

Maybe a small bush fire got lit, because soon after, Tomas Plekanec took a great pass from Alex Galchenyuk and wired it, and game was even at one after three periods.

All the way through, Toker came up big and gave his team a fine chance to win, and when the game went to a shootout, he finally got some help from Chucky, Desharnais, and in the end, Gallagher, and the team skated off with a win that had to have the Caps and their fans shaking their heads at the unfairness of the universe.

Now it’s onwards to Philadelphia to meet the Flyers on Saturday night. It’s a tough early part of the schedule for Montreal. After Philly it’s the Lightning on Monday, then home to face the Bruins on Thursday.

But the 2014-15 Montreal Canadiens can do it, because they’re the 2014-15 Montreal Canadiens.

Random Notes:

Total shots on goal after that dismal 15-2 first period – Washington 30, Montreal 24.

Alexei Emelin went to the room in the third and if he returned I didn’t notice. Hopefully all’s well.

I watched the game on Sportsnet 360 and I have to say what a breath of fresh air it was listening to John Bartlett, Jason York, and from time to time Chantal Desjardins, after the three hour announcer/Leafs love-in on Wednesday.

Bartlett and York actually discussed the merits of the Habs often. How unique is that? And Chantal Desjardins has such a classy and professional delivery, just a wonderful way of speaking. I have a crush on Chantal’s voice.

The Morning After

It’s a little odd attempting a game recap the morning after. My brain’s taking a while. It feels like a bowl of steel cut oats. Sort of a glue-based, chewy mush.

But the United Center clash ended late last night, and I couldn’t wait until later on today. You might think I was a slacker.

It was Toews and Kane, Keith and Seabrook, Sharp, Richards, Versteeg, and on down the line. All the usual suspects. A strong, solid lineup, playing at home against Dumont and De La Rose. Andrighetti, Dowell and Bowman and just a sprinkling of household names like Bourque, Weise and Eller.

That’s not fair.

Except the underdogs had Carey Price in nets, and as the night progressed, the red, blue, and white legs found jump, the chances began, and in the end, the little engine that could skated off with a surprising and impressive 3-1 win, even though they were handily outshot. But not outworked.

It was 0-0 through two periods with Mr. Price coming up big a bunch of times, including getting his mitt on a clear-cut Duncan Keith blast from about twelve feet out. A sensational stop from Price, and it was the Canadiens who would finally break the ice in the third, not Kane or Toews or Sharp, when Rene Bourque, after almost scoring, came up with a nice second effort and banked one off Hawks goalkeeper Antti Raanta.

And when Nathan Beaulieu converted a swell Drayson Bowman pass to make it 2-0, it truly did start to feel like good things might happen on this night for what was technically a bolstered Hamilton Bulldogs squad.

A slight hiccup when Greg Pateryn, looking to impress and win himself a job, whiffed on the puck at the blueline which sent Andrew Shaw in alone, and suddenly it was 2-1 and the Hawks thought they had a life.

But they didn’t, because five minutes later Michael Bournival hit the empty net, and the Canadiens are now four wins and a loss in preseason, and looking mighty fine.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Chicago 32, Montreal 19.

Alexei Emelin thumped on several occasions, which is always a beautiful thing. I love the thumps, whether it’s Emelin or anyone else wearing the CH doing it. It keeps other teams from getting too high and mighty.

Next up, Friday night in Ottawa and then the Sens visit the Bell on Saturday.

 

Canadiens Kick Things Off

Three unanswered goals by the Canadiens give the boys a sort of fine 3-2 win over the visiting Providence…er…Boston Bruins, thus getting things off to a fine start in preseason action.

The lineups of both teams were filled with players who won’t get a sniff of regular season action, and somehow it doesn’t seem right (at least to me) that fans at the Bell paid whatever it was – $100, $125 a seat. (Just guessing).

I checked and saw that Hamilton Bulldogs gold tickets will be $26 this year, so in a fair and just world, tickets to see players mostly destined to not be Montreal Canadiens soon should be only slightly higher than $26.

How about doubling it and making tickets in the reds an even 50 bucks or so for preseason action when only Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, Rene Bourque, newcomer Tom Gilbert, and Jarred Tinordi  were the old guard suiting up, with the slack picked up by prospects.

There were moments though, both good and bad. Boston opened the scoring just 1.17 into the first when young Nikita Scherbak blindly passed behind himself, only to have the puck intercepted by the Bruins’ Ryan Spooner who then proceeded to fool Greg Pateryn, a fellow trying to win himself a job on the Habs blueline.

With just two seconds left in a Rene Bourque penalty, it became 2-0 Bruins, not that it mattered all that much I guess.

But then the Canadiens little by little began to scratch and claw and things slowly paid off.

Jiri Sekac, who played a poised and impressive game, fired one home from the circle with ten seconds left in the period, and it was 2-1.

In the second frame, Christian Thomas, son of Steve, tied the game with one second remaining in his team’s power play, with a little help from Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg, who happened to bat it in while flailing away, and the game got livelier.

And in the third period, Drayson Bowman converted a Thomas pass with 48 seconds left to give the Canadiens their 3-2 win and earn Mr. Bowman the game’s first star.

Random Notes:

Jiri Sekac looked great at both the rookie and main camp, and never lost a beat tonight. Sekac’s rookie camp sheet has him listed as 6’02”, 182 pounds.

Habs 2014 first round draft pick Nikita Scherbak floundered for half the game, then began to find parts of his game and slowly came around. Scherbak is listed at 6’02”, 189 pounds, but appears leaner and lankier than Sekac, who truly looks like a mature hockey player.

Right winger Nick Sorkin (6’03”, 196), skated well and had several chances.

Big 6’5″, 240 pound Michael McCarron, after three or four solid wallops on unsuspecting Bruins, was driven into the goal post and at this point, it appears his arm took a serious beating, even possibly broken. It certainly didn’t look good.

Shots on goal, Montreal 28, Boston 24.

PK’s younger brother Malcolm was between the pipes for Boston in the third period and came up with several nice stops. PK in the press box looked proud.

Next game – Thursday, when the Avalanche (Daniel Briere?) pay a visit. How about doubling the regulars for game two.

 

 

 

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.