Tag Archives: Tomas Plekanec

Opener Goes To Tampa

Hockey puck crossing red goal line. Close view

A game of thrills and spills, of hit posts and pucks near goal lines, of guys skating like the wind and bumping and creating fine chances  in a tough, hard-fought affair. All in all, a fine game one.

Except the Canadiens lost 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s a heartbreaker but not disheartening, because Montreal, for the most part, looked just fine, and there’s no reason not to think that the series is for the taking.

For me, one of the better games the Habs have played all season, aside from the fact that most of the guys seem to have forgotten how to score.

My advice, from a guy who was a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers midgets? Shoot the puck at the net. And sometimes ring one off Bishop’s face mask for good measure, like what happened tonight. More of that would be good.

I also liked seeing the game go into the second overtime period. The Lightning had just come off a hard-fought seven-game series against Detroit that ended just two days prior, and fatigue should begin to show as things wear on. Especially when these two teams play back-to-back games in Tampa next week.

If the Canadiens are in tip top condition, which they should be, they’ll soon wear these buggers down. I remain completely confident about the outcome of this series. But a few of the scorers need to score of course. Is it asking too much?

It took until the third period before the lamp was finally lit, when a tip from a point shot eluded Carey Price. That was it. A one-goal game. And the way Lightning backstopper Ben Bishop was holding the fort, odds were that not a single puck would find its way behind him.

Some of Bishop’s magic was pure luck though, as in the case of Tomas Plekanec while killing a penalty, having a wide-open net, and  what looked to be a spectacular save by Bishop. But I’m saying the puck was shot right into the goalie’s glove.

Patrick Roy would’ve raised his catching glove high into the air in dramatic fashion on a save like that, like he’d pulled off something just short of the greatest save ever made. In reality, if the glove is positioned properly, often pucks will zoom in and people will ooh and aah, even though the goalie was basically full of shit.

With just 5:13 remaining in that frame, Max Pacioretty, who looks 100% after recovery from his head-into-boards incident back on April 5th against the Panthers, sped in and sent a wrist shot that Bishop gloved and then let drop, with the momentum of the puck crossing  the line, and suddenly the game was tied.

A glorious moment for Habs fans from Powell River to Pacaraima. Playoffs baby!

Tied until 2:06 of the second overtime period. And then, just like that, it was over.

Looking good, though. Sunday night the boys even the series!  I’m pretty sure about this.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Lightning 44-35 and won 55 faceoffs to Tampa’s 34. They also went 0 for 3 on the power play. Can you imagine the day when Montreal might go 3 for 3 or 4 for 4 on the power play? The thought scrambles my remaining brain cells.

Although Tampa was 0 for 4 on their man-advantages, so both teams sucked equally in this regard.

Alex Galchenyuk took three penalties, played a semi-par game for the most part, but also came close to ending things with 40 seconds left in the first overtime frame. But he didn’t.

Dale Weise also came close to being the hero, in the second OT period, just before Nikita Kucherov sank the dagger.

 

 

 

 

 

Price & Co. Snuff Sens

Ye Olde Coffin Nail

It wasn’t easy, for the players and for us, but with Carey Price being Carey Price, the Canadiens move on and the Sens don’t.

A big 2-0 shutout win in game six to end the drama. As tense as can be with the Senators swarming the Canadiens goal, with shrieks and oohs and aahs filling Canadian Tire Centre as the Sens poured it on with the clock winding down.

But Price and company withstood those heart-stopping moments, and now wait patiently for the Detroit-Tampa to end, with the Red Wings currently up 3-2 in the series.

Of course, whenever one talks to a Sens fan anytime over the next eight months or so, the conversation will center around the play being  whistled dead when Price bobbled the puck and it was banged home. But from where referee Chris Lee was standing, Price had the puck and that was that.

A good and proper call. Sorry Sens fans.

For the first time in the series, Montreal opened the scoring when Brendan Gallagher batted home a bouncing puck, and overall, the Canadiens as a whole played a fine, hard-working first period.

It’s a beautiful thing when the team is in the lead instead of behind, and not having us wonder if Craig Anderson can be beaten and a game made of it. A much better feeling. Love those leads.

It was just a matter of getting a second goal, which ultimately didn’t happen until Max sent it down the ice into the open net in the dying seconds. We need the Habs to open the scoring more often. It’s much easier on the nervous system and several vital organs. A second goal soon after would be nice too.

The second period saw the Canadiens play their disturbing ‘sit back’ type of game, at one point being outshot 12-1 and totaling 16-3 overall, but Lars Eller rang one off the post and and Tomas Plekanec had an amazing chance to buried it but it sailed over the net instead.

So regardless of the fact the boys were outshot, they still showed slivers of danger. How the air would’ve left the building if Eller or Pleks had buried one of those. It would’ve been a beautiful thing.

In the third period, Canadiens found themselves with a plethora of great chances, including a Parenteau and Mitchell combo on one sequence, Weise on another, and at least two from Brandon Prust. Beautiful chances, and when no light was lit, dark clouds began to form. We knew how these things usually work. Great chances, no goals, and the other team scores shortly after.

That’s how it usually works. Just not tonight. Because Carey Price was Carey Price and his teammates for the most part, stood their ground. Good, grinding hockey while withstanding an Ottawa team that refused to let up.

So nice to be rid of the Ottawa Senators. I’ll spend a couple more seconds thinking about them, and then begin wondering about the Wings and Bolts.

Either will be tough, but nobody said winning the Stanley Cup would be easy. For the players or us.

Random Notes:

Ottawa outshot the Habs 43-20.

Andrei Markov was a bit of a disaster, coughing up pucks, looking slow, showing uncharacteristic sloppiness with the puck from start to finish. We need Markov to be the general and in strict control out there, not a Mike Komisarek or Dion Phaneuf clone.

Hard and effective workers included, among others,  PA Parenteau, who was inserted into the lineup for Brian Flynn; Brandon Prust, who played a feisty game and as mentioned, had a handful of good scoring chances; Brendan Gallagher, who scored what became the winner and was his usual Gallagher self; Lars Eller, who once again was excellent; and of course Price, who rose to the occasion after not exactly being on top of things the other night.

Maybe it was my ears, but I think I heard the wild and crazy Glenn Healy give us what he called a Beatles reference when he mentioned things being “A long day’s night.” It’s “A Hard Day’s Night” Glenn. Or maybe you were thinking of “A Long and Winding Road”. Regardless, leave the Beatles out of your mutterings.

Tampa and Detroit play game six on Monday. We watch and wait.

 

 

 

 

Habs Drop Another

The Canadiens were pounded 5-1 in game five at the Bell, and although they’re digging themselves a little hole, they still need just one win in the next two games, which is better than what the Sens need.

So all’s well. Except for the part about scoring one measly goal in two games, with that lone marker coming after more than five periods. Goals have dried up, and when the Sens grabbed an early 2-0 lead, we were screwed.

Guys can’t score anymore, and when you look at some of our forwards, you see Max, Gally, and Smith-Pelly with just one assist thus far.  Young de la Rose has zero points. And a bunch of others have a feeble two points.

The pathetic power play, again firing blanks, went 0/3, while the Sens scored twice on their four. One power play goal on 19 attempts over the five games.

Maybe the power play will come together on Sunday. Or Tuesday. Just kidding.

It was all Habs for the first ten minutes of the game, but when Bobby Ryan’s shot found its way through, which gave the Sens the lead on just their second shot of the game, everything changed. The Canadiens’ balloon was popped, while the Sens experienced a crystal meth-like rush.

Tomas Plekanec, one of many who needs to do more, found himself on a shorthanded breakaway when it was still 2-0, and if he could’ve buried it, things might have been different. But he didn’t. And it’s cheap hindsight anyway.

A third goal was scored soon after the Plekanec chance and the game was over, even though it was still only the second period.

A couple of other red lights flicked on as this nightmarish evening unfolded, including the fourth that came from a brutal turnover by the wily old vet Andrei Markov.

It was 3-1 until that point, still a chance to make it a thriller, but the turnover and ensuing goal was a party killer if there ever was one.

All night the Canadiens, for the most part, failed to crowd the net and make life difficult for Craig Anderson, even though they outshot Ottawa 46-25. I’m going out on a limb and saying the Sens, or any team who might have watching from afar, weren’t exactly mesmerized by any Montreal onslaught.

But I’m keeping the faith. They still remain in better shape than Ottawa, and if they have any character at all, they’ll rebound and rid themselves of these guys, whether it’s in Ottawa on Sunday or Montreal on Tuesday.

I can see it now. Sens fans on Sunday give their team a nice standing ovation after 60 minutes.

And the Habs skate off the ice and move on to round two.

 

 

 

 

Another Shootout Loss

For the second straight night, the Canadiens found themselves in a shootout, and for the second straight night, lost the damn shootout.

Into New Jersey they went, and out they came with a 3-2 loss, which also happens to be the team’s 5th defeat in six games.

And it wasn’t because Toker was between the pipes. It was mostly due to once again being tremendously shitty with the man advantage.

The stage was set though, with just over five minutes remaining in the second period, when, and I have a hard time even writing his name – Scott Gomez – the man who was as useless as can be when he wore the CH, a player I have a harder time looking at than PJ Stock, elbowed Alexei Emelin in the face and received a five-minute major and a game.

The Canadiens couldn’t score during this gift-wrapped situation and it hurt to see it. How I wanted a nail hammered into Gomez’s skull. How I wanted him to see a Habs goal on TV as he sat in the room and smiled and spit.

The boys managed just one shot instead, and Gomez got off scot-free.

Gomez was described as a “wily veteran” by announcers for nailing Emelin after the Russian had crashed Gomez into the boards a minute before. But a wily veteran would have been smarter than that by trying to inflict damage without taking a penalty. Something Howe or Messier knew how to do in spades.

Gomez’s elbow was for all to see. So make that “not wily” and add “incredibly stupid”.

There’s just something about this guy. He and Stock. I wish they’d start up a figure skating school in Reykavik and live happily ever after.

With just over 4 minutes left in the third, with the game still knotted at two apiece, the Habs enjoyed a brief 5 on 3 power play and again, couldn’t score, and at that point, visions of losing in the shootout danced in my head.

They went 1 for 6 on the pp on this night, and along with the lacklustre shootout attempts by Galchenyuk and DD and any other things you can find fault with throughout, it’s as disheartening as can be to see a lifeless and uninspired power play that has crawled along for most of 79 games now and made as much noise and damage as the popguns I played with as a kid when I was Davy Crockett in the field next door.

The boys did take a 2-1 lead in the first though, on goals by Plekanec and Petry, but the Devils tied it in the second period, and that was that until the shootout.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot New Jersey 33-18.

I try not to go on about bad calls if I can help it, but it was a horrible interference call on Alex Galchenyuk in the second period, who, as it showed on the replay, did absolutely nothing to warrant the two minutes. Big league officiating at its finest.

Next up – Sunday in Sunrise, with a 5:00 pm et start.

I’ve always been a big supporter of the Easter bunny.

bunny

Another Fine Blanking!

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The Canadiens looked like they were coming off a Demerol party when they lost 4-0 to the Sharks on March 2nd in San Jose, and which kicked off the 3-game hard-to-swallow California crushing.

It had us all in a dither.

But Saturday at the Bell, the boys played hard-hitting, slick passing big time hockey as they slayed the Sharks 2-0, making it three straight wins, four of their last five, coming not long after the aforementioned California slide had us searching for the key to the liquor cabinet.

Great game by the Habs, regardless of the fact the shirtless Joe Thornton told Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson between periods that his line had been in Montreal’s end all game.

Not what I saw, Joe. And really, for the sake of us guys watching, could you please put a shirt on.

Carey Price saved the day when called upon, which could be said for just about every time he’s manned the nets this season, with this being his 9th shutout (tying M.A. Fleury for the lead), and second in a row after beating Carolina 4-0 on Thursday.

The win is also Price 40th of the season, just two back of the Habs all-time leaders Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden, which is absolutely exciting. Price has entered the Land of the Giants.

Tomas Plekanec got his team on the board in the first period, his 22nd of the year, on a great play that gave him most of a wide-open net to shoot at. The goal also came at a great time, with just 1:14 remaining in the period, and we could see that with the way they were playing, taking the lead late like that could very well spell serious trouble for The Shirtless One and his fish.

Brendan Gallagher would notch the insurance marker, his 21st, in the third with the Sharks’ net empty, and with just seconds left and the boys up 2-0, the Ole, Ole song began, with props to the singers. You sang it at the proper time for a change. When the game wasn’t in doubt.

And man, were the last few minutes tense with the goalie pulled and the score still 1-0, and with the game, and a shutout, on the line.

But the Canadiens came through, as they did all night, standing their ground, checking hard, passing well, and all in all, unless you’re a Sharks fan, a mighty fine night at the not-so-old Bell Centre.

A nice, impressive hometown win by the gang, and a tremendous thing to see, considering there’s only nine games to go and maybe, just maybe, they’re rounding into playoff form.

Random Notes:

Tom Gilbert took a puck in the mouth area during the second period and was gone for the night. Hopefully it’s only a chiclet or two and nothing more.

Props to Brandon Prust for playing a fine game, including a nice piece of business on the penalty kill late in the game.

The Canadiens have reached 99 points, tied with Anaheim for top of the heap.

Alex Galchenyuk needs just one more to reach 20 goals.

Next up – Tuesday, when the team hits Music City, U.S.A. to shut out the Predators.

 

Habs Halt Hurricanes

Slightly condensed tonight. Sorry.

Carey Price nailed down his 8th shutout at the Bell on Thursday soir as the boys win 4-0 over the Carolina Hurricanes and look decent while doing so.

Decent except for the second period when they let Carolina have their way a bit too much, and of course had to rely on Price to come up big. (Although a couple of pucks slithered through him and across the crease).

This team is spoiled rotten, having a goalie like Price to save their bacon when they slack off.

Dale Weise opened the scoring in the first by banging home a rebound after Brandon Prust had done much of the legwork, and Brendan Gallagher increased the lead to two after Tomas Plekanec stormed in and Gally finished it off.

In the second frame DD took a nice pass from Tom Gilbert while the boys had the extra man out on a delayed penalty, and in the third, Max, while trying to set up Pleks, had the puck bounce off Hurricanes goaltender and proud Ust-Kamenogorkier (pop. 322,000), Anton Khudobin, for Max’s 35th of the season.

C’mon Max. Five more.

A fine 4-0 win over a team that’s not that great, but a not-that-great of a team that the Canadiens can beat. Unlike others.

It makes my heart soar like the Birdman of Alcatraz’s buddies.

Next up – Saturday, when the Sharks swim into town.

Shots on goal – Canes 31, Habs 22.

Topped By Tampa

The Canadiens fell 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night, although they gave it the old college try after falling behind 3-0 before three minutes had been played in the second period.

Unfortunately, old college tries are never good enough because they mean losing. And this was to a growing rival who had already won the first three encounters.

It began poorly, that’s for sure. Brenden Morrow got his stick up into the face of Brian Flynn (who didn’t return) and on the four-minute penalty handed down, the Canadiens, and I know you’ll be shocked by this, failed to score.

Following that, a puck was deflected off Andrei Markov and past Carey Price to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead, and then, not even 24 hours after Max Pacioretty was anointed with a new McDonald’s hamburger (the Max 67), he grabbed the puck along the boards near centre ice, turned, and passed it back to none other than a free as a bird Steven Stamkos, who waltzed in and beat Price.

But because I appreciate Max so much, I’m won’t say anything more about this. Or bring up that pass to an Islanders player the other night that killed Price’s shutout. Because Max has 34 goals on a team that you and I complain about because they can’t score. And he had 39 last year.

He also came close several times after, obviously intent on making up for his faux pas. And if you don’t think any of the greats of the game – Howe, Richard, Hull, Orr, Beliveau, Gretzky, Lemieux etc, pulled a boner once in awhile, you’d be wrong.

Later in the second period, Pleks would finally get his team on the scoreboard while on the powerplay (yes, the powerplay), and in the third frame, P.A. Parenteau banged one home after Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop got crossed up behind the net.

But that was it, because Lars Eller was called for holding with just 2:22 left in the game, and with Carey Price pulled to at least keep things even, Steven Stamkos hit the empty net.

Now it’s across the state to take on the Panthers and hopefully better their record in March to three wins in nine games. Which, of course, is still nasty.

Random Notes:

There were a number of questionable decisions by the officials, including the call not made when Brandon Prust and Mike Angelidis fought and which was clearly started by Angelidis. But the instigator penalty wasn’t called.

And Lars Eller’s holding call in the dying minutes wasn’t flagrant by a country mile, and which of course, killed any chance of the Canadiens  squaring things up.

Shots were even at 34 apiece.

 

 

 

Canadiens Better Against Islanders

They still had to rely on Carey Price to come up big, but the Canadiens on Long Island would get the job done, winning 3-1 and looking better than they have in their other six games in March, and keeping me from putting %$#&* in the title.

Yes there were a few bad penalties taken by the boys, including a hot-headed Dale Weise boarding call that could’ve been smarter, and an Andrei Markov tripping penalty with just 4:11 left in the game and his team up-2-0, and which lead to an Islanders’ power play goal to make things tense for all concerned.

Not to mention that the Isles goal was scored after Max had sent an absolutely soft and ill-advised puck to the enemy in the slot.

But a Lars Eller empty-netter sealed it and the Canadiens, at least until Monday, stop the acid rain that has been coming down for about two weeks now, beginning in sunny California.

The win puts the Canadiens two big points ahead of the Lightning, who lost 2-1 to Winnipeg on Saturday, but most importantly, they looked like they’d finally slept off their stupor, shook out the cobwebs, and picked it up a notch.

That and Carey Price.

Montreal opened the scoring early in the second period on a Galchenyuk to Parenteau to Galchenyuk to Plekanec bang, bang, banger, and later, Max would fire one home with his team shorthanded, after Isles goaltender Michael Neuvirth left the puck behind his net, only to have it grabbed by Lars Eller who sent it out to Max.

It was also in this second frame that Carey Price swooped his glove behind him to rob Matt Martin, which you can see here at the bottom, and which is what plenty of folks will be talking about for the next day or two.

A fine effort in general by the visiting Canadiens, although they were outshot 36-30 and were saved by Price a bit more than should be expected.

They also went 0-4 on the power play but that’s not really news. They go 0-4 every game.

Next up – another important beauty as the Canadiens head to Tampa Bay for a Monday night meeting with Bolts. Time to shake these guys once and for all. They’re like leeches on the skin after swimming in local swamp.

Shoutout to both Lars Eller and P.A. Parenteau for contributing in a big way.

Habs In A Rut

The Canadiens moved out into a mighty fine 2-0 lead in the first period against the Ottawa Senators after a power play marker by P.K. Subban and a nice shorthanded effort by Max.

Then the roof collapsed.

The Sens tied it in the second and scored three more in the third, and aside from the obvious disappointment felt by the masses in losing 5-2 to these miserable bastards, it means the Canadiens have dropped 5 of 6 games in March.

This worrisome slump can’t be blamed on bad luck either. The team has been outmatched lately, and what they have now to look forward to are the Islanders on Saturday and the Lightning on Monday. Two great teams just itching to keep the misery going.

It’s entirely possible this depressing slump isn’t about to end soon.  The Canadiens aren’t racking up goals, whether it’s regular strength or on the power play (although P.K. blasted one home in the dying seconds of a first period 4-minute man-advantage), and unless they break on through to the other side in the next month or so, it won’t look pretty when things turn serious.

The team is in the middle of trying times, late in the season, which seems far from perfect timing. It’s a reason to be concerned, but not quite panic time. Several important guys, like Galchenyuk, Plekanec, and even Weise, are asleep at the wheel, but if they and a couple of others few pick it up a bit, these doldrums might quickly become a thing of the past.

We’re not seeing flair or colour or consistent banging or giving opposing goalies any kind of a night to work up a decent sweat. They haven’t been all that fun to watch, they’re often boring, and my kind of Montreal Canadiens team is practically the opposite of what we’ve been exposed to recently.

This team needs all four lines and defence pairings going good in their own particular ways to be considered a legitimate contender. And right now, some guys aren’t pulling their weight, the team is naturally faltering because of this, and I think many of us are less confident in them now taking a serious playoff run, which we thought could happen.

The horrible California experience and now two lousy home games have left many wondering. And the answers? Don’t look at me. I’m just a fan like everyone else, and one who’s disregarding the last half of the old adage “write drunk and edit sober.”

Next up –

Long Island on Saturday to face the very strong N.Y. Islanders.