Tag Archives: Thomas Vanek

Habs Win In Buffalo

buffaloCan the Canadiens win against Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, and the lowly Buffalonians? My confidence is shattered.

Jiri Sekac and Jarred Tinordi are in, Rene Bourque’s a healthy scratch, and Mike Weaver has come down with the flu.

Is it only a coincidence that both Weaver and Lucy are sick at the same time? Is Weaver having an affair with my wife?

Dustin Tokarski is starting in nets for the Canadiens, and I want to get this out right now. Tokarski’s teammates call him Ticker and not Toker, probably because word has come down from above that there will be no marijuana connotation.

The Canadiens organization is all about image and I’m guessing they aren’t crazy about the nickname Toker. But it’s what I prefer, so here at least, it’s Toker.

The boys have also been playing like they’ve been toking between periods.

First Period:

0-0.

Habs – slightly boring. Period in general – more than slightly boring.

Michael Bournival got crunched and it looks like a shoulder problem.

Neat play of the period – Sekac showed some fine moves when he did some dangling on one particular shift.

On the plus side, Toker’s working on a shutout. On the minus side, so’s the Buffalo goalie.

Second Period:

0-0. The shutout is still in effect. Boring is also still in effect.

Neat play of the period – um….Pleky and Max coming close when shorthanded?

Disappointing play of the period – Canadiens came in on a 3 on 1 and Manny Malhotra shot it over the net.

Third Period:

ET LE BUT!!! 1-0 Habs when P.A. Parenteau converts a P.K. rebound. It’s hard to believe and I don’t know what to say.

But…hold on. After Jiri Sekac crushed Zadorov into the end boards, the Sabres tied it up on the power play.

1-1.

Better period but it still sucked.

Neat play of the period – I forgot to write it down if there was one.

Overtime:

Two great chances by Max, both foiled by Neuvirth.

Shootout:

Them – yep
Galchenyuk – yep
Them – nope
DD – nope
Them – nope
Parenteau – yep

Canadiens win 2-1. Not great by a long shot, but it’s two points and maybe they can become motivated by this.

Next up – Saturday, when gambling kingpin Thomas Vanek and the Minnesota Wild visit the Bell.

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.

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.

 

 

So Close And Now So Far

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not everyone, but many.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Habs Cheerleading

I’m sick of hearing about Henrik Lundqvist and I agree with P.K. Subban when he says Lundqvist has been good but also lucky.

We need a few breaks around this guy’s crease. He’s not superman. A goal here and there, the odd very weak one, and the attitude changes drastically. The Canadiens would realize he can be solved, and the Rangers would become not quite as comfortable when the puck is in their end.

And then there’s his hair and fashion sense people go on about. Stop talking about that. I’ve got a truly cool part on the back of my head where’s there’s room to paint or tattoo a CH on. Having great hair is overrated.

Donald Trump has lots of groomed hair and look how hideous he is.

How hard is it to be a zillionaire living in Manhattan and dress nice? I’d have an incredible collection of plaid shirts, I can assure you.

Even TSN analyst Ray Ferraro was saying yesterday that his wife was drooling over the guy when she saw him on TV. Hell, earlier this year when Lundqvist was on I pointed him out to Lucy and told her this was the guy all the ladies like. She said she didn’t know why and I was more handsome!

I’m sick of hearing about this guy. Light the lamp behind him. Crash into him. Hurt and embarrass him. Have a shot break his mask, smash his face, and turn him into a Brad Marchand look-alike.

It’s all about this so-called “King” freaking Henrik and there’s only one way the madness can stop. Start bulging the twine behind him.  C’mon Vanek and gang. Shoot and plunder.

And while your at it, get nastier. This isn’t Woodstock. Butt end Kreider in the gonads. Smash Brad Richards through the boards and out onto 7th Avenue.

Win tonight and the series can be yours. Send this “King” and his overachieving subjects to the gallows. Off with his groomed head.

 

 

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

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.