Tag Archives: Vincent Damphousse

Habs Fall Flat

It was going so well too. The crowd was pumped and happy. There was a friendly, robust cheer for new coach Michel Therrien. The torch was passed from past captains, from Yvan Cournoyer to the Pocket, from Vincent Damphousse to Serge Savard, and then Jean Beliveau handed it to present-day captain Brian Gionta.

The torch then made its way from player to player, Alex Galchenyuk heard a nice welcome from the faithful, as did Francis Bouillon and the others. It was all very nice, because that’s what happens in Montreal – nice pre-game ceremonies. If these things won Stanley Cups, the Montreal Canadiens would never lose. Every year the bleu, blanc et rouge would hoist the hardware. It’d be a hundred in a row.

Unfortunately, once the puck was dropped on this Hockey Night in Canada affair at the Bell Centre, the Habs couldn’t get untracked. The torch thing had worn them out, I suppose.

Brandon Prust scrapped with the Leafs Mike Brown, and did a fine job. But more sandpaper is required from Prust, not just the odd fight. We’d need him to be a menace to society from start to finish.

Carey Price was good in goal, and if the Habs had decided to show some zip and pressure in the first two periods, Price might have racked up a well-earned win. But the boys in front of him were flat as a pancake, and all it does is be a reminder of days gone by.

Young Alex Galchenyuk, in his first game in the bigs, had several shots on goal, but he has to remember, these aren’t junior goalies. His wrist shots from thirty feet out will be stopped pretty well every time.

The third period was slightly better. The Canadiens showed some jump, had some chances, and finally Brian Gionta found the back of the Leafs net to close the gap to one and wake the nodding crowd up somewhat. But it wasn’t enough as the Leafs held on to claim bragging rights, at least until the next time these two meet, on Feb. 9.

Montreal’s special teams leaved a lot to be desired. The Leafs scored both of their goals on power plays, while the Canadiens went one for five on their chances. But worse than the power plays, for most of the night they didn’t storm the net and cause havoc and commotion, or show much of anything. It was like a team of Scott Gomez’ out there. And P.K. Subban was certainly missed for his passion, his fire, his shot, his skating, and his larger-than-life presence. This guy has to get signed.

Habs bow to the Leafs. I miss the lockout.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – 26-22 Leafs.

The Desharnais, Pacioretty, Cole line has seen better nights. They were a B in my book, when we need an A every night. There’s only 47 games left for goodness sakes.

Alexei Emelin has picked up where he left off last year, with good, clean, bone-crunching hits that makes people keep their heads up. Emelin was a bright light in a dark and less-than-stormy opening night.

Just a dismal start. Hopefully the Canadiens can show some jump on Tuesday when Alex Kovalev and the Florida Panthers come a-callin’. They showed some in the third on this night, and maybe they liked how it felt.

 

 

 

 

Flashback To A Nice Habs-Jets Overtime Game

This December 1992 game in Winnipeg was a beauty, with Andre Racicot in goal as Patrick Roy, on the bench, had the night off.

About halfway through, we also learn that someone named Gary Bettman from the NBA is in the running for top job in the NHL.

The following spring, Montreal would win their 24th Stanley Cup.

Three Big Similarities Between A Cup Winner In 1993 And A Non-Cup Winner In 2010

“You always wonder whether guys are ready to pay the price in games like these. You wonder and then you’re afraid maybe a few of the guys won’t or can’t go higher and farther, and that could be enough to hurt you.”

So said then-forward and now assistant coach Kirk Muller after his team had defeated the Los Angeles Kings in the 1993 Stanley Cup final to capture their 24th, and last, championship title.

Those Canadiens got the job done with just one superstar, Patrick Roy, and a whole lot of hard-working role players who stepped up and got their noses dirty and who stood uninvited in front of LA goalie Kelly Hrudey game in and game out. They managed a magical ten consecutive victories in overtime. They fell behing the Quebec Nordiques two games to none and stormed back to win the Adams semi-final. Then it was a four-game sweep over Buffalo, with three of the games going to overtime, before finishing off the Islanders and then the Kings.

It was Patrick and a cast of construction workers - Muller, Mike Keane, Brian Bellows, Eric Desjardins, Paul DiPietro, Stephan Lebeau, Guy Carbonneau, and a dozen more. It was a measurement on Kings’ defenceman Marty McSorley’s illegal stick in game two with just two minutes left in the game which allowed the Habs to tie and win it and even the series at one apiece. It was an overtime hero on ten different nights, and a big effort by John Leclair throughout, who was called cement-hands in Montreal before he joined the Philadelphia Flyers and scored 50 goals three times and 40 a couple more.

They resembled the 2010 Montreal Canadiens in several ways, beginning with a goalie who stood on his head with a team of mostly non-stars in front of him. The big difference was, I suppose, the 1993 version dug deeper, everyone stepped up, and most importantly, all contributed. “All of us did it tonight,” said Muller. “It was there for us. We…all of us…reached out and didn’t let go.”

Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette said at the time that the Canadiens really didn’t become a team until game 30 of the season that year, when they played the LA Kings, the team they would meet in the finals, in a neutral-site which happened to be Phoenix of all places, long before the city had the Coyotes. The Kings led 5-2 well into the third period when the Habs crept back and Vincent Damphousse tied it with 31 seconds left. That was the beginning, said Fisher.

They also resembled this year’s team in another way, a Markovian way. “They grew even more,” wrote Fisher, “when the team’s best defenceman at that point, Mathieu Schneider, was lost in game 53 with a broken ankle. In their next 13 games after that, they went 11-1-1, and said they had learned in Phoenix that it ain’t over ’till it’s over. And after losing Schneider, they learned that adversity hurts only for a little while when others dig deeper.”

There is also another comparison, and a big one in my book. Jacques Demers, coach of the team in 1993, wouldn’t speculate after the last game on what that team required to repeat, but noted that the 1993 club was one of the smallest clubs in NHL history to capture a Cup.

They were small, had a goalie standing on his head, and one of their best defencemen was injured. Imagine.

Everyone contributed in 1993 in many different ways, and that’s the difference between then and now. There were those now who were stars, (Cammalleri, Halak, Gionta) and some who slept through most of the playoffs. You know who they are and they know who they are. At least I hope they know who they are.

To Ottawa Senators Fans, Do You Really Mean Those Boos?

That sound you hear tomorrow night in Ottawa is the sound of people cheering the Senators and booing the Habs? And that sound is the sound of long-time Montreal Canadiens fans who’ve become Senators fans.

I know, I know. The unwritten book of civic pride says you should always support your home team. But picture this. You grew up in east Ottawa making childhood scrapbooks of your team, Les Canadiens. You wrote fan letters to the Rocket and Beliveau, or Cournoyer and Lafleur. And you showed your son how to do the same with Patrick Roy and Vincent Damphousse.

From time to time you bought a bus/Forum ticket package and went down the 417 to see a game in your magical Forum. Then you took the bus back to Ottawa that same night, but still going to work the next morning.

You wore the Montreal sweater when the games were on TV. Pictures of Habs graced your rec room, to your wife’s dismay. You got into arguments with Leaf fans. Your eyes went moist when the Habs hoisted the Cup.

You were the staunchest, most die-hard, most loyal Montreal Canadiens fan you knew.

Then, in 1992, the Ottawa Senators started playing again after 60 years of being away. Suddenly you stopped going to games in Montreal. You bought a Sens jersey and put your Habs one in a trunk. You convinced your son of the magic of Heatley and Spezza instead of Kovalev and Koivu. Your pictures came down and the old scrapbooks somehow got misplaced. You still argued with Leaf fans, but for different reasons.

It’s all very sad. But I suppose it’s noble to back the home team. It’s good and proper community spirit. I just wonder if somewhere deep inside, deep in the crevices of your heart, sitting like cobwebs on your soul, lies a little bit of love for your old passion, your old team, the Montreal Canadiens.

Maybe it never completely went away.