Tag Archives: Tomas Plekanec

Another Fine Blanking!

images

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.

 

 

 

Canadiens Shut Down Coyotes

Lars Eller spun around after taking a smart back pass from Devante Smith-Pelly, fired the puck past Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, and the goal, which would prove to be the winner, salvages the Canadiens dreadful western U.S. trip as the boys finally end up in the win column by blanking the Coyotes 2-0.

Smith-Pelly played a better all-round game than what we’ve seen, Carey Price notched his 7th shutout of the season and was his usual spectacular self, and Lars Eller was flying most of the night and redeemed himself in impressive fashion after taking a late-game penalty in L.A. that led to the tying goal by the Kings and all kinds of pain and grief for us.

Brendan Gallagher, set up by Tomas Plekanec, iced the thing with an empty netter.

It was a decent showing by the Canadiens, although the Coyotes sit 28th of 30 teams in the overall feebleness category, so maybe it wasn’t truly impressive. But it was a win that stopped the losing streak at three games, and for now we can take off our hard hats because the sky has stopped falling.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Coyotes 35-29, including 15-5 in the first period and 12-8 in the second, but the third frame saw Arizona post 15 shots to the Habs’ 8. But of course, our man Price was there to stop the nonsense.

Max Pacioretty had more than a few great chances to add to his 31 goals, but couldn’t beat Smith. DD, except for one blatant instance when he should have shot and didn’t, played a solid game and handled the puck in deft fashion.

Jeff Petry is showing to be a great addition to the blueline corps. He’s big, smart, a greater skater, good with the puck, and can lay out some bone crushers. Nice to see him wearing the CH.

It’s a solid group of Habs d-men, and I’d match our guys against any team’s.

Next up – Tuesday, when the talented and cocky Tampa Bay Lightning pay a visit to the Bell.

Only 16 Habs games remain in the regular season.

Eller’s Penalty Didn’t Help

Lars

Lars Eller got his stick up into the face of Drew Doughty with just 1:35 left in the third period, with his team winning 3-2 after being down 2-0 to the hometown L.A. Kings, and having stormed back from the dead.

The Kings, of course, with just 45 seconds left in the game, would tie it with Lars in the sinbin, and ultimately take it to a shootout where the Canadiens didn’t get the job done and lose 4-3.

I wish I’d kept track of all the ill-timed, momentum-killing, game-ruining penalties Eller has managed over the past few years. Penalties late in periods, penalties that cancel out power plays, penalties when it’s definitely time to not get penalties. It seems like he’s the king of this &$%#@% category.

I know what the Maharishi would tell me (if I knew him and he was still alive). Take deep breaths. Concentrate on trees and streams. Focus on the good that happened before Lars slipped up.

It’s a shootout loss that yes, gets the team a point, but it should’ve been two, and it should’ve been a cool halt to the California creamin’.

It stings, Maharishi. Just like it probably did when the Beatles dumped you. Eller owes us all a dinner.

The first period was as dreadful as the showings in San Jose and Anaheim. Outshot 13-2 and outscored 2-0. Heck, it was only a few games ago when the boys had shutout the Leafs and won their fourth straight, and we were feeling high and mighty and thinking magnificent thoughts.

But seven periods in California changed all that.

The second frame saw the Canadiens come to life though, and Tom Gilbert, looking like a forward, closed the gap to 2-1 when he swooped in and around Jonathan Quick and lit the lamp. And it became a tie game not long after when Gally took a nice pass from Plekanec and backhanded it home.

In the third frame, Max would notch his 31st on a nice pass from DD, and all was swell in Habsville until Eller’s brain froze like a tray of ice cubes, and with the clock winding down and the Kings on the power play, along with Quick on the bench and the extra man out, the bullet was fired to tie it.

Overtime would solve nothing, and in the shootout, the Canadiens shooters were Chucky (nope), DD and Max (yes), and Eller (post), while Kings skaters buried 3 of 4 on Dustin Tokarski, who overall played a decent game between the pipes.

This mostly lousy four-game road trip comes to an end on Saturday in Phoenix, but things don’t exactly let up. The following four games see the boys tackle the Lightning and Sens at home, and the Islanders and Lightning on the road.

Upcoming strategy? Keep Eller on the bench in crucial situations.

 

 

 

Good Team Blanks Bad Team

image1

With Carey Price posting his 6th shutout of the season, the Canadiens drop the visiting Toronto Maple Laffs 4-0, and all remains swell in Habs universe.

That’s four straight wins for the good guys, they remain tops of the pops, and it makes my heart soar like a Prigogine’s Double-Collared Sunbird.

Certainly a satisfying night, except for the part about going 0 for 4 on the powerplay and being outshot 30-23. It was a confident bunch, playing behind an always confident and usually perfect Price, and it culminated with a Leafs jersey being thrown on the ice.

I’d hate to see a Canadiens jersey tossed on the ice and if I was at a game when it happened, I’d hunt the person down and pour my twelve-dollar beer on his head. But somehow, seeing a Leafs jersey crumpled up like a dead blue and white varmint makes me snicker just a tad. Am I a bad person?

The boys were in fine form, except for those times when it was left to Price to come to the rescue. Several times they would pass back to the world’s greatest goalie, which is a nice enough play, as long as the puck doesn’t hop over Price’s stick.

And on Coach’s Corner, Don Cherry would whine and bitch that the Canadiens were seen smiling and enjoying themselves way too much. In my mind, smiling means things are going good. Which is what we want. Much better than seeing them shake their heads in disgust and smash their sticks.

I remember when Scott Gomez would smile when things were going bad.

Manny Malhotra scored his first of the season after Dale Weise stole the puck and dropped it back to him in fine style.

Tomas Plekanec bulged the twine when the team had the extra attacker on during a delayed penalty call.

And David Desharnais, targeted by far too many critics, mostly Habs fans, made it 3-0 in the third period after several players banged away (and Jonathan Bernier cried foul for goalie interference), and then scored his second of the night into an empty net after receiving a nice and generous pass from Max.

The boys are rolling, they’re a serious contender for all the marbles, and now we wait and see if Marc Bergevin deals to strengthen an already solid club.

Once again feelin’ good. It’s been a long time since we had a team that has a great chance to go all the way, and all we can do is hope no one crashes into Price the way Chris Kreider did last spring. Imagine.

Now it’s a four-game road trip to where the weather is slightly better than in Eastern Canada and the U.S. It’s Monday in San Jose, Wednesday in Anaheim, Thursday in L.A., and Saturday in Arizona.

No problem.

Random Note:

P.K. Subban’s assist on Plek’s goal ties him with Calgary’s Mark Giordano for most points (48) by a defenceman.

Sergei Gonchar was back in the lineup after missing the last six games after getting nailed by then-Leaf, now-Blue Jacket, David Clarkson.

P.A. Parenteau is healthy now but was scratched, as was Mike Weaver.

 

 

Max & Co. Come Through

I was delayed getting to the computer. I saw that Toronto and Winnipeg were tied 3-3 with seven minutes left, and I wanted to see how the Leafs would lose.

But they won in overtime, and that’s quite a few minutes that I just wasted if you don’t mind me saying.

The Canadiens, led by Max Pacioretty with two goals, got the job done by taking out the decent-looking Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 at the Bell, with Tomas Plekanec getting the insurance marker by notching a shorthanded empty net goal.

Two big points for the team, a win that halted that little two-game losing streak they found themselves in, and a win which allows them to sit in their rightful place in the universe – on top, a point ahead of the New York Islanders.

In the background, the outdoor game in California is being played, but I have the sound down. Sometimes I forget it’s on, look up, and there again are the LA Kings wearing some sort of grey and white ensemble, highlighted by white pants and huge numbers on the sleeves. The luckiest fans are the ones at the top of this massive football stadium that can’t see these uniforms.

Carey Price was, of course, solid once again in the Montreal net. It goes without saying. I said it but it goes without saying.

Nathan Beaulieu was truly impressive. The young defenceman is getting better and better every game now, he’s won himself a job, he’s a great skater and puckhandler, and as the confidence grows, so does his time spent doing all the right things.

How great it is to see a young d-man coming into his own, and at the same time two blueliners are on the shelf. God is a Habs fan.

I thought Jiri Sekac and Jacob de la Rose had some nice moments too. Two very fine young players with very fine futures. Is it de la Rose, or De La Rose?

And good old Max, notching a pair which gives him 29 on the season, and he rolls along, enjoying a fine and fruitful campaign. Of course he and P.K. Subban were left off the All-Star team, because the league is run by a bunch of morons.

Other things to note – Jarred Tinordi had his second fight in the last two games, coming out second best against Jared Boll, but not getting massacred. And Christian Thomas and Matt Calvert squared off, and when all was said and done, both looked like they’d walked into a telephone pole.

Columbus outshot the Canadiens 32-24, but again, it’s the Carey Price factor.

The team now heads out on a two-game road trip, first to St. Louis for a Tuesday night battle (8:00 ET), and then it’s Thursday in Columbus to face these Blue Jackets once again.

And to get way ahead of myself, next Saturday the Leafs sneak into Montreal.

In the background, John Fogarty is singing Proud Mary between periods at the outdoor game. John looks and sounds pretty well like he did in the 1960s with Creedence. This is obviously not a Keith Richards type of rock star.

Me and my buddies Mike Williamson and Hobo saw Creedence Clearwater at the Atlantic City Pop Festival in 1969.