Tag Archives: Tomas Plekanec

Montreal, With A Big Shutout Win, Made Me Very Happy Tonight

 GAME 4

Whew. That was as blue collar, lunchpail as you’re ever going to see. It was playoff hockey, tough, close, hard- working, well-earned chances at either end. And Montreal won the big one, a 1-0 shutout, and it doesn’t get any better, or any more beautiful than this. Up three games to one and going back to Montreal.

It’s amazing how stressful hockey can be. And how satisfying when the right team wins.

Today I was talking to the local newspaper publisher, a woman who’s always been a tom boy and a hockey fan. She’s a big fan of the local senior team, but she said she didn’t like NHL hockey much anymore. “Too many low scoring games,” she said. “Too boring.”

I wonder if she watched tonight. This low scoring, 1-0 game was anything but boring. It was back and forth, tremendously intense, with non-stop hitting, and with a main sub plot starring Mike Komisarek and Milan Lucic having their private parties.

Montreal made adjustments tonight. But they need more. They stopped Boston’s offence, but their own offence is still a concern. Higgins and Plekanec in particular still haven’t gotten it together, and although I keep mentioning it, they’re obviously not listening to me. What, they don’t read the blog?

And the Kostitsyn’s aren’t playing with the swagger they showed during the regular season.

The good news is that the lone goal scored, by Patrice Brisebois, was a power play goal. Like I said yesterday, the power play’s been their bread and butter.

Three down, thirteen to go.

Game note:

As much as the Boston Bruins give me heartburn,  the Rangers’ Sean Avery gives me slow burn.

 

Game Two Is In The Books. Kovalev Gets It Done In Overtime

  GAME 2

Regular reader and commentor-extrordinaire, Der Habinator, checked in today before the big game got underway, and what he said was dead-on. Knute Rockne or Dick Irvin Sr. couldn’t have said it any better. And although der Habinator may have done just a little too much acid when he was younger, he’s a good, solid Habs fan.

So today, we’re starting off with der Habinator’s words. This is what all Habs fans should want for today’s game. Take it away, der Habinator.

“Big game tonight.  Why?  Because the intensity level must not only be raised it must also crucially be maintained. We absolutely must come out and play the entire game with unrelenting intensity.  No physical let-up. No mental let-down.  No Mr. Nice Guy.  Now is the time when we must become more, not less, critical of our performance.  The momentum is ours, keeping it means working harder, playing smarter, refining refining refining. Away les gars! Foncez!!”

Montreal didn’t come storming out like der Habinator and myself and the rest of Habs universe would’ve liked. Boston had a brand new, and more effective game plan which involved more physical play and close checking, but Roman Hamrlik scored late in the first to make it 1-0 for Montreal. 

Did this deflate the Bruins?

Not really. Montreal’s power play, with no goals in the two games, is stuck in neutral. Plekanec and Higgins’s names are rarely mentioned by Father Time, Bob Cole. So all the stars aren’t quite aligned right now.

But the team got it done, in overtime, with their first powerplay goal of the series, scored by Alex Kovalev, who had several great chances throughout the game, and had taken a bad penalty to allow the Bruins to tie it up. However, the guy who sideswiped and lay on top of Kovalev prior to Kovy’s slash should have been called too.

So Boston can whine and complain and feel they got the shaft, but all things being equal, the good guys won, as they should have.

Best of all, aside from the fact that Montreal won the game, was that Don Cherry was proved wrong and full of shit by the instant replay. He went on and on about the high stick to the Bruin player’s face just before the guy took a penalty which led to the winning goal. But the camera showed that it was only a follow through from Markov’s shot, which Ron McLean, who is a referee, firmly stated SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A PENALTY. 

Montreal didn’t play as well as game one, and Boston played better than game one, but the only thing I see is a win that makes it two games up for the Habs.

It’s two down and fourteen to go.

Game Note:

Good camera shots at the Bell Centre as they scan the crowd. Quite a few lovely ladies wearing skin-tight Habs t-shirts.

 

Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec Saves The Day In Buffalo

I’m so tired I feel like I’m getting sleep-deprivation torture in a Saudi prison. It’s because I’m going to bed fairly late and getting up at 3:30 am to go to work. And today, at the ticket booth, I had trouble getting a guy’s credit card to work because the system was acting up, and finally, after it did work, the guy drove away and sarcastically said, “Thanks, you’re a real pro.” So I said “You’re welcome, you’re a real asshole.”

The Montreal-Buffalo game is on and it’s the end of the first period. Nothing really has happened so there’s nothing to report. So while I’m waiting for something to happen, I might as well say what I’m gonna say, and that is, “Mike’s an elevator mechanic. There’s a job that has it’s ups and downs.” BADDA BIN, BADDA BOOM!

Sorry. (This marks the eight thousandth time Mike has heard this.)

Montreal needs this game so I hope they’re regrouping in the dressing room. They need first overall for that prime spot in the playoffs, where they’d play in the first round, hopefully, Boston.

Buffalo is scratching and clawing for the final playoff spot, and if they reach it, they could play Montreal in the first round. So this is a team that’s desperate and hungry.

It’ll be interesting how this all plays out. Right now though, I’m tired.

A couple of small observations. I like the original Buffalo Sabres’ uniforms better than the ones they wear now. The ones now look like a cross between the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, George Jetson, and the Los Angeles Rams football team.sabres.jpg

But I really like how low the cameras are placed at the HSBC Arena. It’s just like the old days in Montreal and Toronto. And these cameras are about a mile closer than the ones in Tampa Bay.
Second period’s over. Kovalev just tied it up 1-1, finishing a nice Grabovsky play. I’m also thinking about what der Habinator said about Pete Rose should be in Cooperstown and I think so too. I also found it interesting what Mike said about how it would take an elevator mechanic 48 years to make the same money as what Patrick Roy turned down. Kinda makes you think.

Holy smokin arseholes! Tomas Plekanec scored two goals in the last two and a half minutes of the game to tie it, then Chris Higgins wins it in overtime.  They won it even though Habs fans in Buffalo sang the olay song. Maybe the song works after all.

Tomorrow night, it’s up the Queen E to Toronto. And I was thinking. If the team wants to make a side trip to Orillia before they need to play Ottawa on Tuesday, several of them could probably stay at my dad’s house on Elmer Ave. They’ll have to be quiet though. He’s 87 and goes to bed at seven. And they could go out for drinks at the Atherley Arms. I’m sure the peelers would get a charge out of it.

Montreal’s back on top in the east with 98 points. They finished with 90 points last year.

Life In The Russian League Would Be A Good Life For players Like Grabovski

When recently called-up forward Mikhail Grabovski got his shorts in a knot about not playing and ran into the arms of his agent, it possibly marked the beginning of the end for the young Belarus centreman as far as becoming a real player for the Montreal Canadiens. After his hissy-fit, coach Carbonneau did absolutely the right thing by not dressing him for the LA game.

But surprisingly enough, at the time at least, the young guy played the next night in Anaheim. And as it happens, he set up Alex Kovalev for a really nice goal, and also lost nine of ten faceoff draws. But it turns out he only played because Tomas Plekanec had the flu.

And next year, he could see lots of ice time in the Russian Super League.  

You see, here’s the thing about this Russian league. I’ve been to a handfull of games in Russia since 1991, and back then, players’ yearly salaries there amounted to what Ryan O’Byrne and the other rookies left as a tip in Tampa Bay. It was mostly bus rides, not planes, silly old Soviet hotels, and not much in the way of adulation from fans. And not only that, when the games ended, players from both teams hung around centre ice and shot the shit, which I found really bizarre.

But it’s different now by a country mile. And not just hockey, but Russia in general. Gone are lineups into little food shops for some cheese and a loaf of bread. Now it’s modern malls with food courts, and fast food, fast cars, and fat cats abound. Someone who’d been away from Russia since 1991 and just came back wouldn’t recognize it.

And so it’s filtered down into hockey. Players now in the Russian League who were making $200 a week not that long ago, are now signing million dollar contracts. Where once they were living in old and decrepid Soviet housing, they now have swanky condo’s.

So for guys like Grabovski and other young players from Eastern Europe, playing near home, knowing the language, eating food they grew up with, is a wonderful alternative to the NHL.

Don’t be surprised to see the number of Russian players and those of nearby countries slowly dwindle from the NHL as life in the old country continues to improve.

Maybe it’s best for Mikhail Grabovski. Although he’s small, he’s got lots of raw talent, but to play in the NHL, your head has to be screwed on properly.  Not being happy about not playing is one thing, and is actually appreciated by coaches and teammates. It shows you need to play, to help the team. It sucks not to play. 

But when you bolt the team and run to your agent, it’s different.

It also really bugs me about the “agent-father-figure” thing. Am I wrong to believe that these agents are there for the money, the healthy cut of the player’s salary, not because they’re doing it out of the goodness of their heart?

Pre-Game Rituals Before The Big Game in Buffalo. And Then The Big Win Happens

It’s 2:20 pm Pacific time and the boys are in Buffalo sharpening their skates, blow-torching sticks and drinking umpteen cups of coffee and a Red Bull or two, while ticket takers and ushers and hot dog vendors slowly drift in to ready themselves for when the Habs trounce the Sabres.slum.jpg         more-slum.jpg

                                            (Here’s a couple of pictures of some of the nicer parts of Buffalo.)

I’ve got my pre-game ritual in motion too. Head over to TC’s pub for some drafts, eat lasagna for energy, and today, as an extra little ritual, laugh my head off because rental Marian Hossa got injured in his first game with the Penguins and will be out a week or longer!

Pittsburgh gave up some crazy talent (Christensen, Armstrong, and Angelo Esposito, AND A FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK!) for Hossa, who may be gone again in a couple of months because unlike Toe Blake and the boys, it’s all about money. This deal might come back and bite Pittsburgh in the ass.

4:30 Pacific time  – Game time. If all reports are correct, not one Montreal player got mugged on his way to the Buffalo rink.

5:00 Pacific time – Montreal jumps out to 2-0 on goals by Pekanec and Streit. Not sure if Montreal fans who made the trek to Buffalo have started to sing the ‘olay’ song just yet. Many though, are having a riot and drinking lots of beer. 

5:07 Pacific time – Just thinking that Buffalo used to have some good teams in the days of the French Connection line with Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, and Rene Robert. You know, it’s sad that Perreault didn’t play for the Habs. With him and Lafleur together, it would have been historic. People would still be talking about them. It could have been Morenz, Richard, Beliveau, Harvey, Lafleur, and Perreault.

6:08 Pacific time – Tomas Plekanac just scored for the third time tonight as the good guys are beating the bad guys 4-1. The ‘experts’ say there’s too many small guys on Montreal for them to be dangerous. But Plekanek, who’s only 5’10, one of those small guys, looks pretty dangerous to me.

Do you know that TSN guy Pierre McGuire picked the Rangers and Minnesota as two of the five teams he thinks will win the Cup. Montreal didn’t even get a sneeze. But McGuire and his fellow ‘experts’ like Bob McKenzie and Dave Hodge all picked Montreal to finish 14th and so far out of the playoffs you’d need a telescope to see them.

7:01 Pacific time – Holy smokes. 6-2 Montreal over Buffalo. What a big win. It was 5-1 over Atlanta, and now 6-2 in Buffalo since the Habs made Carey Price their number one goalie. And this win catapults them over Ottawa for top spot in the north-east!

I’m sure the team flies back tonight, so guys, get home, have a midnight sandwich, relax, and get ready for another big game Saturday night against the Devils. But leave your wives alone. Eddie Shore, Victor Tikhonov, Punch Imlach and Toe Blake all believed there should be no sex the night before the game. So it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for you.

Trade Day On Tuesday: What Will The Habs Do?

                       habs-logo.jpg           trades1.jpg      trading.jpg    
  star.jpg                                                                              
                                                             

When You Wish Upon A StarNaturally, trade rumours are only just that, rumours, but we can dream, can’t we?

We can dream that the talk in the air about who might be going to Montreal is quite true, thank you very much, and that boss Bob Gainey has pulled the switch that makes Montreal the big-time favourite to go all the way.

This is the latest scuttlebutt in the air about just who might be going to Montreal, although in reality, it’s far-fetched and over the top. But anyway, I’m just the messenger.

Here’s the three names tossed about who could soon wear a Habs jersey. Just keep in mind that the media types who throw these names around are the same ones who predicted Montreal to finish in 14th place this year, well out of the playoffs. So it’s usually just dead air that comes out of their mouths. This time, though, I hope they’re right

Marian Hossa

A real proven sharp-shooter. Holy Smokes, he’d look great in the red, white, and blue. It’d be like having another Kovalev on the team.

Alex Tanguay

A real good French-Canadian guy who wants out of Calgary. (Apparently he’s asked twice this year to be traded).

Brad Richards

This is the one I like best of all. A Canadian boy from PEI who knows how to fill the net and play fire wagon hockey. And who knows, being from PEI, it’s possible he grew up cheering for the Habs. It just seems too good to be true, so I guess I’d better calm down about this one.

But these are just crazy rumours, and who know’s what will happen. There’s a lot of players who don’t want the pressure of playing in Montreal (like Daniel Briere), and so, if they have a no-trade contract, want no part of playing for the best organization in hockey. (I don’t understand it but that’s just me.) 

But just who would Montreal keep as untouchables, and who wouldn’t they mind letting go?

I don’t know. But I can guess.

Michael Ryder is the one most say is gone. But he’s been playing well of late, except for the Columbus game, when he and the rest of the team kept looking at Bob Gainey’s number up in the rafters and forgot about the game down below.

Ryan O’Byrne still has charges pending against him after his big night out in Tampa Bay. I can see him being moved. If there’d be any takers.

Saku Koivu, as great a leader as he is, is now more uneffective than he is effective. His wonderful puck-handling days are a thing of the past.

Patrice Brisebois is probably finished, and would only be a throw-in as part of a large deal.

There’s others of course: Dandenault, Latendresse, Lapierre, Begin, and probably anybody else on the team if the deal suited. But if Montreal let go too many Quebecer’s, the French media would have a field day.

But most intriguing is this: What if a team is willing to part with a Sundin or a Hossa, or even a Brad Richards, but wants either Christobal Huet or Carey Price. What would you do?

Oh yeah, and about Habs untouchables. Kovalev and Markov, with honourable mention going to Mark Streit, Tomas Plekanec, the Kostitsyns, Mike Komisarek, and Chris Higgins. And very likely, Carey Price.

 

Habs lose to the Senators. And It Was A Real Smelly loss

Unlike the caller to the Montreal radio station who went on about “I believe” regarding the Montreal Canadiens, (which became a revival meeting chant which turned into an “I believe” website), I knew armageddon was coming. I could feel it when the Habs blew a three goal lead to the Rangers last week and lost 5-3. And I’ve felt it ever since.

 All the signs are there. Less than stellar goalkeeping. Only one line, Kovalev, Plekanec, and Andrei Kostitsyn, is producing, with players who should be key players, like Higgins, Latendresse, and Koivu, accomplishing nothing. And the defence rests.

Michael Ryder has been in a 56 game slump. Kovalev’s line is the only unit kept together, while Carbonneau refuses to go with set lines for the others, mixing and trying new combinations pretty well every game.

Why was Carey Price brought up from the minors when the team will definitely go with Huet for most of the remainder of the season. Is keeping Price on the bench better for his development than having him be a workhorse in Hamilton?

A few more stinkers like tonight and will Jacques Demers still feel that Guy Carbonneau is coach of the year?

Ottawa’s Spezza, Alfredsson, and Heatley were absolutely too much for Montreal, garnering 15 points among them tonight. Montreal won’t be a contender as long as they let other teams’ big lines have their way with them like these three did. I’m embarrassed about all of this. It’s like the Alfredsson line was playing Powell River’s Gentlemen Oldtimers.

Huet, starting in nets for the Habs, let in three goals in the first four minutes of the game. Carey Price gave up the next three over two periods.

I’m not a happy camper. Neither are the other several million Habs fans out there.

This game stank worse than the pig farms near Chilliwack