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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gonna Lose!? Lose Big!!!

And that's what the Habs have been doing of late... losing big. And the funny thing is, it's not the goalie's fault, as coach Jacques Martin put it after the 6-2 drubbing his team took at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes last night in Raleigh. P.K. Subban falls on his derriere last night in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes. Hopefully this isn't a harbinger of their play as they limp towards the playoffs. Photo: AP Costly turnovers and a lack of energy and desperation was what did the Habs in last night. And some solid saves by Cam Ward in the first period especially. To me, the Habs played this game as one they collectively felt they could afford to lose. And guess what? They lost. But it's true, they could afford to lose last night's game, because nothing really changed for the Habs in the standings, due to the Sabres' 1-0 win over the Rangers. So the Habs remain 2 points up on both the Rangers and Sabres (each with a game in hand) and 5 up on the 'Canes. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Canadiens are starting to look like a team running out of gas... I think they've performed admirably considering all the injuries and drama this year, but now the tank looks like it's on E. And this fatigue is more emotional than physical. Max Pacioretty's loss to the team has definitely impacted this team on an emotional level, but unfortunately in a negative way. His lack of speed and scoring touch are missed too; but what happened, the way it happened and all of the hoopla afterwards must have worn this team down. And it shows. Add that to all of the injuries to key players like Markov, Gorges and Spacek -- and we have a struggling team as we near the start of the playoffs. Are the Habs capable of making another magical run in the postseason like last year? Sure why not??? Anything's possible. Would I bet on it?? Uhhhhh... :) Habs next game is in Joisey against the Devils. THE DEVILS!!!! Oh boy. What did I say a few posts before?? It's gonna hurt more before it gets better. Around the league: Shawn Thornton was clipped by a skate blade. Not funny even for this Booins-hater, and was then heckled by the Blackhawks bench. That was a low blow. No need to start playing Bruins hockey and sink to Boston's level Chicago. Stick to your own game and you'll be fine. Crosby cleared for non-contact practice. Although GM Ray Shero kind of indicated we won't see Crosby until training camp -- this could be complete gamesmanship on his part. Wouldn't it be the story of year if he did make it back for the playoffs, only to carry the Pens towards another cup? We'll see about that, but that would make a hekkuva story. Corey Perry paces the Ducks. The Ducks are in playoff position while the Calgary Flames are on their last legs after losing 4-2 to Anaheim. Perry now leads the league in goals with 46. Speaking of the Ducks, here's another tantalizing story possibility. Imagine this: Over the summer, the Coyotes move back to Winnipeg from Phoenix and Teemu Selanne signs a contract with that team. Woudn't that be awesome to see him end his career where it all began, in Winnipeg!!??

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


BREAKING NEWS: Sidney Crosby has been cleared to return to practice with the Pens!! No timetable as yet as to when we'll see him back in games. Good luck dude (unless you play the Habs in the playoffs). He shoots, he scores!! Been awhile since we've heard that to describe a the play of the Canadiens. Maybe it's more appropriate to say ... et le but! In any case, the Habs scored finally, almost a full 200 minutes after their last goal in Minnesota, defeating the golf course bound Atlanta Thrashers 3-1 last night in Montreal. A much needed win indeed. Roman Hamrlik was the one who finally broke the ice for the Habs, after the puck caromed off of the post a few times and he was able to tuck it into the open net. Phew! I was waiting for the ref to wave it off -- that's how bad it's been of late for the offensively-challenged Canadiens. And then wouldn't you know it, 11 seconds later, Gomez set up Darche for his 10th of the season to make it 2-0. Winning goal, it turns out. Funny game, eh? Canadiens played a solid if not somewhat nervous game -- totally understandable under the circumstances. Glad they got through it and picked up the valuable 2 points. The team is still in 6th, 2 points up on the Rangers who have a game in hand. But no time to rest... right back at it tonight against the Hurricanes in Raleigh, who kept their slim playoff chances alive with a 3-2 SO win against Washington. Other Notes: Brother Andrei Kostitsyn scored his 20th goal of the year last night into the empty net. 3rd time in his career he's reached the mark. When you think that Claude Giroux scored his 25th last night and everyone speaks so highly of him -- is Kostitsyn having such a bad year?? The answer is no. He's been hitting and taking hits a lot recently and seems to thrive outside of the bright limelight presented by the first two scoring lines. Way to go Andrei. I hope the Habs re-sign you. He scored quite a few game winners this year. Hal Gill high sticked. And then the Thrashers scored their lone goal on the play. The refs totally blew that call. But they had no choice to award the goal. Refs miss calls all the time -- just too bad the Thrashers scored on the play. Kudos to the Habs to not let that get to them. After all they still had a game to win. Leafs win, but gain nothing. The clock is ticking on the Buds' season. Todd Bertuzzi, nada. The NHL did not suspend Bertuzzi, no fine, nothing. I don't get it. He left his feet. He elbowed the guy to the head. It was pretty evident. Okay, his record has been cleared of the past (not sure I agree with this either), but at least give the guy 2 games to send a message to the players that hey, you hit the head -- whether accidentally or not -- you get suspended. Another dropped call on the NHL's part, in my opinion. Bill McCreary's last game in Montreal. The veteran referee is hanging 'em up at season's end. Not even working the playoffs. One of the best moustaches in the biz. Ending it where it all began for him, in Washington. He'll be missed, I guess :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gonna Hurt More Before It Gets Better

Hockey is a funny game sometimes.

It's amazing how a team can look so good one night, only to look pathetic the next.

Just ask Leaf fans about that...

Andrei Kostitsyn misses last night against Caps' Holtby. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf, The Gazette.

But lately, Habs fans could only wish such a fate, because the team has looked pathetic in its last 3 outings with last night's latest blanking at home to the Washington Capitals 2-0.

It's very simple. No matter how good your team is, if you don't score, you're not going to win.

And the Habs have now been shutout 3 games in a row -- something I've never seen. The last time this happened was in 1949. The team "record" is 4 in a row, dating back to 1928!!

This is one record I hope remains intact.

Poor Carey Price. As a goalie, I can sympathize. It's tough when your team is in a scoring funk because whatever you do, you feel like you're still going to lose. The Habs had their chances last night but ultimately continued a bad trend by taking too many penalties, especially in the 1st period. It just killed any momentum they created.

They showed much more effort and desperation than the listless edition that showed up in Boston the other night, but unfortunately the result was the same.

It's sad the team was booed off the ice, but that's Montreal for you. You get the love but you also get the scorn -- when deserved. We have to show our displeasure somehow, and that's the way it works. We don't just laugh it off like Leaf fans...

Now, the team is in 6th place by the thinnest of margins, having won more games than the Rangers, each with 87 points. New York beat Boston 1-0 last night and are potentially playing their best hockey of the year. Buffalo is sniffing right behind with 85 points. Luckily, 9th place Carolina is 7 points back, so making the playoffs doesn't appear to be in jeopardy, me hopes.

Instead of enjoying their usual eggy-weggies on a cold but sunny Montreal Sunday, coach Jacques Martin has the team practicing today in Brossard.

The only bright side to last night? The fact that my brother didn't shell out hundreds of dollars to go see the game like originally planned. We were both in town visiting our mother and were thinking about seeing the game. As they say, a good "non call."

Habs look to break out of their funk Sunday at home against Atlanta. No excuses now...

Friday, March 25, 2011


The other day I wrote that blowouts are niice!!

Sure, when the Habs are on the right side of the equation.

Blow outs against Montreal are not niice!!! Ugly! As in 7-0 ugly.

The Habs can take solace in at least winning the season series against the Bruins but no doubt such a brow beating like they received last night doesn't sit very well. Hopefully they can use this as motivation moving forward.

Not to take anything away from the Bruins. They were the better team and beat us -- fair and square -- in basically every facet of the game. But you know the Habs could be much better. After all, you're not supposed to give up a short-handed goal when you have a 2 man powerplay!!!

Habs were down 61 seconds in and the Bruins never looked back. Can't really blame Price. The Habs were in the penalty box wayyyy too many times over the first 40 minutes of play.

Guess the injuries are starting to finally catch up to this team, which looked out of gas last night.

Things don't get any easier as they play the Capitals on Saturday in Montreal. Their cushion on 6th place is now down to 2 points ahead of the New York Rangers. So we'll see if we face the Bruins or not, who pretty much have the top spot in the Northeast Division wrapped up.

Being shutout 2 games in a row, not good. But the Habs have shown a lot of character in bouncing back this season, so hopefully this continues. 7 games left in the regular season, let's hope the team wins at least 4 of these.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Recchi Goonified

Shame! Shame on you Mark Recchi. And you played for the Habs!! I figured of all players on the Bruins, you'd have the most common sense. I was wrong.

Not only were your comments on Boston radio yesterday completely off-base, but it seems a bit curious as to why a veteran player such as yourself would fan the fire and give the Habs even more motivation against the Bruins!?

True, you may have been goaded into saying that the Habs over-exaggerated Max Pacioretty's injury to try to get Chara suspended. But if you didn't feel that way, you would have said so.

Maybe this is your weak attempt to distract the Habs, who seem pretty focused on trying to catch the Bruins for the division lead. If they are to do this, they definitely need to win tonight.
Habs are in Boston tonight, coming off a 2-0 loss at home to the Sabres, while the Bruins won their last game 4-1 against the Devils.

It's funny how the Bruins just keep digging themselves into a hole. Such bad karma on this team, no matter what they say, from this affair to the Pacioretty incident to Ference mouthing off earlier this year to Marchand whining about Subban and the Habs. It'll be fitting when the Habs knock them out in the first round of the playoffs -- this black and gold team that so many have picked to go deep. Yah right.

The Habs have already clinched the season series and have split the games in Boston so far. Last time the Habs were defeated 8-6 which was supposedly a turning point for the Bruins against the Montreal squad. Then the next game the Habs were whooping them good when Pacioretty was injured.

Learn to lose like winners Boston Bruins and you may become winners yourself, some day.

Always a fun, tense and emotional match up the Habs vs. the Bruins.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blow Outs are Niice!!

I've been watching the Habs pretty much my entire life. At least as long as I can remember...

When I was a kid, I can remember the Habs regularly beating up on the weaker teams like Washington or the old Colorado Rockies -- with scores like 9-2 or 10-1.

Ryan White celebrates his 1st NHL goal last night in St. Paul, Minnesota. The rook also snagged the first, but hopefully not last, Gordie Howe hat trick of his career. Photo by: Eric Miller, Reuters.

Those days were fun but are unfortunately long gone. Our Habs teams of late have been kind of offensively challenged. We're lucky if we get 4 in a game these days.

That all changed last night in St. Paul against the Minnesota Wild and it was fun to see. And for a change, my heart wasn't racing a mile a minute in the last 5 minutes of the game. An 8-1 win!? It's great for this team, especially given they have 9 regulars out of the lineup. And it was nice to see many throughout the lineup contributing. All these goals yet still SCOTT GOMEZ did not score!!!! Hard to believe.

On any other night, any storyline from last night's game would take the lead. On this night, there were too too many -- a problem I can surely live with:

1) It was Benoit Pouliot's first game back in Minnesota, since he was acquired last year for Latendresse and he took full advantage to give it to his former team. He finished with 3 assists and set up the game's first goal by Ryan While 31 seconds in. He tried the same and only move he has inside the Wild zone and lo and behold this time it worked, creating a 2-on-1 and making a nice pass to White. I'm sure he's really happy to be a Hab.

2) Ryan White scores his first NHL goal. Couldn't be more happy for the guy. The guy's a workhorse, he's exactly what we had hoped Max Lapierre would be. Hopefully he doesn't let things go to his head, but I would really doubt it. This kid's a good, tough Canadian boy who wants to prove he belongs nightly. Not only that, but he gets a Gordie Howe hat trick to boot (goal, assist and fight).

It just so happens, the last Canadien to score a Gordie Howe hat trick was Max Lapierre.

The Wild were recklessly throwing around their bodies early on (trying to take a page from the Rangers) so White took on Clayton Stoner and fought him to a draw. The kid's tough. And he has a great head of hair :)

Btw, this year any team that's had a player score the Gordie Howe hat trick has won. Shows what kind of all-around hockey teams must play to win in this league.

3) Alex Auld played the back up role to perfection. Hey, some were ragging on this decision to start Auld over Price but if you look at the big picture this totally makes sense. First Price does need a bit of rest. Second, Auld had a career 6-3 record against the Wild. Third, the Wild were coming into the game with 5 straight losses. Auld made some key saves when the game still wasn't out of hand, especially in the first period.

I questioned Auld's signing over the summer -- but there's no doubt, he has been the perfect backup goalie for Carey Price. Is there any better "backup" in the league???

4) P.K. Subban -- 1st Habs rookie defenseman to score a hat trick. He's in the books. Surely won't be the last time. P.K. was a lot of fun to watch last night. On his first goal, it could have gone very badly as he circumnavigated the entire Wild zone almost losing the puck at the blue line, but his incredible balance and skating ability carried him towards the left circle where he then pounced towards the net, only to get a lucky bounce off of the Wild's dman.

His next two goals were power slap shots that I'm sure Backstrom would want back, but tough to blame him. If anything the last one was stoppable, but P.K. just muscled it past him.

A shower of hats hit the ice. Tons of Habs fans in attendance last night. Many down from Manitoba to root on White. They sure weren't disappointed.

P.K. Subban's hat trick is the first by a Habs dman since Souray had one in '03. It's also the first hat trick by a Habs rookie since Oleg Petrov (remember him?) in 1993.

Let's be honest, the kid's playing great -- even when he doesn't score. But his goals takes the pressure off of our other guns, like Wisniewski -- who scored a beaut last night too.

5) Frere (Brother) Andrei -- how I love thee! Brother Andrei has scored in 3 of 4 for the Habs and even in a blowout, he gets the game winner. His goal was classic (good) Kostitsyn. He gets belted at centre nice, only to get up and find the puck on his stick in the Wild zone with time to lean into it and zing it past a helpless Theodore high under the crossbar.

He's now got 19 on the season!! And he's having a bad year!!!! Sign him!? Well, the ball's in his court. If he performs like this in the playoffs, how can you let him walk??? He's only 26. There's AK46, who's a blowup disaster. Then there's Brother Andrei who hits, skates, passes and shoots to perfection. If we see Brother Andrei in the playoffs, we have to keep this kid, make him happy then pray Brother Andrei is who shows up next season.


How could this game had gotten any better?? Well it would have been greedy to ask for it, but if Auld had gotten the shutout and if Guy Latendresse was playing. But I'm not that greedy.

Hopefully the Habs enjoyed the flight home but understand it's time to get back to business right away. They're facing a desperate, hungry Sabres squad tomorrow at the Bell Centre; then off to Boston for the last game of their season series with the Bruins. Habs have won the series, but if they're to catch them for the Division lead, it's a must win.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Win Some, Lose Some

Well the 2010-2011 edition of the Montreal Canadiens have a lot of heart and have showed a lot of character, given the amount of injuries this team has been forced to endure this season.

The fact they're solidly in the 6th spot in the Eastern Conference goes against everyone's picks for the team at season's start, with most giving them a slight chance to even make the playoffs.

Probably Guy Boucher will deservedly win the Jack Adams award as coach of the year, but Jacques Martin is right up there to get at least a nomination.

That said, the team can't win every game unfortunately, and with their top player in Tomas Plekanec out, Halpern out, Gill at home with the flu and their long list of other injuries, the team just hit a very determined and motivated wall called the New York Rangers last night in NYC.

Coming off a nice 3-2 SO win at home against Tampa, which saw newly acquired Nigel Dawes score in the shootout, the Habs came into last night's game having won 5 straight against the Rangers dating back to last season.

So the odds were in the Rangers' favour and they took complete advantage. After a pretty even first 10 minutes, the wheels started coming off for the Habs after a lucky goal for the Rangers. Price made a save and then the rebound but the puck fluttered into the air, over Price and landed on edge just past the red line, then spun back into him. Phil Mickelson couldn't have sucked it back any better! The ref initially called it off, but the replay clearly showed the puck was over the red line.

The Habs seemed a bit rattled after the goal and the Rangers were able to score 3 more in less than 2 minutes. 5-1 after the 1st period -- the only time the Habs have given up 5 goals in a period this year.

If you want to look at the bright side, the Habs won the rest of the game 2-1, with goals coming from Wisniewski and Gionta. The Rangers kind of sat back and the Habs actually made a game of it. David Desharnais had Lundqvist at his mercy but couldn't get the puck up and over the sprawled netminder -- a key play in the 3rd because that would have made it 5-4 with plenty of time left on the clock. But Lundqvist made the save and the Rangers finally beat Alex Auld who came in to replace Price at the end of the 1st period.

Auld gave the Habs the chance to get back into this one. Some thought Auld should have started given he's never lost to the Rangers and beat them at home back in January. But how can you argue against starting Price???

Habs now travel to Minnesota to face off against the Wild and Guy Latendresse, who are playing this afternoon. So hopefully they can enact some revenge against this team and walk away with a win. Game time is early, 6pm.


On another note: What is up with Ron Wilson?? Sitting James Reimer in a playoff race!? Are you kidding me??? Giving him a rest??? The kid's 20 years old!!!! The Leafs wouldn't even be close to a shot in hell without this kid, and Wilson sits him!? Wilson's a goof and if the Leafs really want to progress next season, Burke should get rid of this guy.

Also: Guess who I saw yesterday but Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins!! I work downtown and was just leaving work when I saw a guy in dress pants and holding a blazer walk right past me who looked strangely familiar. For once I was able to put the face to a name right away and figured, well if it is him, the Bruins must be in town. And guess what? They are, to face the Leafs tonight at the ACC. Too bad Chara wasn't with him. Not the biggest guy. Don't get me wrong, he's big and has large shoulders, but not overwhelming or anything. He must have been looking for the Brass Rail :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pacioretty Practicing in 4-6 Weeks!!!!

Update on Max Pacioretty: according to Jacques Martin, Max Pacioretty will be ready to assume practicing -- with contact -- in 4 to 6 weeks. That could bring him back potentially for the 1st but most likely 2nd round of the playoffs. Imagine what a boost that'd be to the team!!

Even if he wasn't as effective as he was pre-Cherry, I mean pre-Chara, just think of the Koivu-like emotional boost the team would get with him back in the lineup!!!

Martin looked giddy reporting the news.

Habs vs. Lightning tonight at the Bell Centre.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Injuries, Lots of Injuries

What a year for injuries!!

As lucky as they were back in '08-'09 where nobody was really injured for long stretches, the last 2 seasons have been the complete opposite, with this season being a total horror show!!!!
Photo: Marc Appolonio/CBC

Not only did we lose 2 of our top 4 dmen in Markov and Gorges for the season, but we lose Pacioretty for the season -- our most improved forward -- we lose Cammy for 13 games and he's having an off year in general; Spacek, though most think he's done with the Habs after this season, had to have knee surgery and may be back in time for the playoffs; Sopel, who was brought in to shore up the PK and backend now has a fractured hand and there's no timetable for his return; and now Halpern and gulp, Plekanec did not finish last night's 4-2 loss to the Caps.

This is not good. Not good at all my friends.

If Plekanec's injury is serious (no word yet) our team is in serious peril. Not only for the offence but pretty much every facet of our game: faceoffs, PK, PP, etc. And the top 2 lines haven't been firing on all cylinders anyway, so don't be surprised if the Habs take a bit of a tumble in the standings... hate to say it, but that's the reality if the team doesn't get consistent and regular contributions from Gomez, Gionta and Cammelari. There's just so much Eller and Kostitsyn can do.

And Wisniewski took a shot off the skate or ankle and although he didn't miss a shift, who knows what will be today!?

Last night, our rooks did their best to fill the void but kinda blew it. Desharnais had a few chances which he couldn't finish and was caught watching Subban take out Ovechkin on the game winning goal by Johansson; and Eller took a senseless penalty late in the 3rd, only 18 clicks into a Habs powerplay thus blowing that chance at potentially stealing a point.

This game shouldn't have even been close -- the Caps dominated and dominated the right way. They hit, they won battles, they played with speed. Carey Price was on top of his game after a bit of a weird... and shaky start. First that goal resulting from a weird bounce off the glass behind Price's net. Then after the Habs got a lucky one of their own only 20 seconds later, a puck squeezed through Price and sat on the red line for what seemed like an eternity until Hendricks poked it in. But lo and behold, the goal was waved off and the play on the ice stood. That was a lucky break. Too bad the Habs couldn't take advantage. But Price was brilliant last night.

It's not all bad news though: On a nice note, Max Pacioretty was in the building pre-game and met with a few of the players. So far, according to him, he's ahead of schedule in his recovery. He's not experiencing any post-concussion symptoms -- which is great -- and he's walking fine. Now just give some time to give that fractured vertabrae what it needs to heal itself and hopefully we'll see him on skates in the fall.

Meanwhile some fans decided to hold a protest against the NHL decision not to suspend Chara. I hear it kind of fell flat.

Big Bad Goons at it again: The Bruins' Brad Marchand elbowed R.J. Umberger last night in Columbus. Supposedly he left his feet. Although the play was missed by the on-ice officials, people are saying there may be supplemental discipline. What is the matter with this team!!?? I think they're starting to take the physical game a bit too far. It's only a matter of time some team starts to run their best players. Careful Timmy, careful.

But seriously, it would be a shame if a great, honest player like Bergeron had to pay for the idiocy of his coach and teammates.

Dem Leafs, another "biggest game of the season": Haha, not that it matters but if they want to keep their slimmest of slim playoff hopes alive, they must tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes, who won 1-0 last night on the back of a superb performance by Cam Ward.

Next game: Habs host the Lightning. This will go a long way deciding whether the Habs have any chance at moving up in the standings. Then 2 road games against the Rangers and Wild in Minnesota.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Off Day...

Lotsa stuff still going on:

1) Richard Martin, one of the famous "French Connection" line (w/Rene Robert and Gilbert Perreault) of the Buffalo Sabres' hayday, died Sunday, apparently of a heart attack while driving. He was 59. He just made an appearance two weeks ago in Buffalo to celebrate the new ownership. That's too bad.

2) Not much news on the Pacioretty front. Which is probably a good thing. Missing him on the powerplay though. Let's win it for Max!!!

3) Is there a bigger arse on tv than Don Cherry!? Of course he would blast Geoff Molson. Of course he can't name Pacioretty by name. Of course he takes sides with the Bruins. Why is this old, expired, bigotted, fashion-handicapped geezer on tv, let alone CBC's flagship broadcast. And as usual, Ron MacLean sits there with a funny look on his face, saying nothing (probably afraid Cherry will stomp on his imported Italian loafers) like the good foot soldier he is.

What an utter joke the CBC has made of "HNIC." Then watch: this coming week Cherry will clarify his comments, mention Pacioretty by name and then say something patronizing that he's pleasing all the bleeding hearts that wrote in about it... what a joke!!!! Molson shouldn't let that friggin' old goat into the Molson Centre. The guy had a cup of coffee in the NHL as a player and is best known for blowing his team's chance at going to the Stanley Cup finals with a too many men on the ice penalty. That's your legacy, blowhard!!! The closest thing this guy comes to the cup is when he's asked to give his doctor a urine sample... yuk yuk yuk.

4) Sidney Crosby is skating!! I had a feeling we were close to this since he was in Pittsburgh over the weekend. Wish him well and hope he gets back. Now the Pens have a big decision. When he's ready, which is still weeks away I would think, do you risk putting him back in the lineup for the playoffs!? Potentially putting him in a vulnerable position?? But the team is not the same team without him, that's for sure. Tough call...

5) How about dem Leafs??? Yes excitement is brewing in the Big Smoke and everyone's riding high after the Leafs won a big game at home against the Sabres on Saturday night. The playoffs are in their sights! But wait a second?! Yes they beat the Sabres, yet after the weekend the Leafs were even more points behind (6 vs. 4) before the weekend even began. Ha ha ha! They have 13 games left. That means they have to pick up 2 points every two games on either the Sabres or the Rangers (who are in 7th and 8th). Good luck with that.

Well maybe the last game of the season for the Leafs -- at home against the Habs -- will mean something. Leafs to make the playoffs, Habs to get home ice advantage. And of course, THIS HABS FAN IN LEAFLAND WILL BE THERE!!!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Habs Move Forward With Win in 'Burgh

It's been a tough week for the Canadiens and the NHL.

Mike Cammellari converts on a nice feed from Jeff Halpern. Cammellari has been tearing it up against the Pens since last year's playoffs. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images.

Don't know about you, but my heart hasn't been into it... so you imagine what the Habs have been feeling.

Well we got a sample of that with their performance in St. Louis against the Blues and everyone's favourite former Hab, Jaro Halak.

Well not that Halak was any better than Price. But the team in front of him was, and after a nice goal by Jeff Halpern it pretty much was St. Louis the rest of the way, winning 4-1. It was closer than that since it was 2-1 with less than 2 minutes remaining, when Matt D'Agostini showed his great eye-hand prowess to bat a puck out of the air past Price.

The Habs looked listless and uninterested... and who could blame them?? This should have been an exciting game, given the goaltending soap opera we witnessed over the summer. Instead, it was kind of a boring game with the Canadiens not fully out of their mental fog after what happened in Montreal to Max Pacioretty.

Well the show must go on. Good news at least that MaxPac went home and his recovery is well underway. Let's hope to see him at training camp.

In the meantime, the Canadiens still have their jobs to do, and so they marched into Pittsburgh yesterday for an afternoon show and put forward one of their more solid performances of late, winning 3-0. Price posted his 8th shutout of the year, putting him only one back of Lundqvist for tops in the league.

They scored quick to start the first two periods. First Plekanec off of a nice feed from Cammellari after a face off win 46 seconds in. Then Moen on a sweet shot past Fleury 24 seconds into the 2nd frame.

Then a bit later Cammerllari posted his second point of the game potting a nice goal off of a Halpern pass.

Honestly the Pens reminded me of how the Habs played in St. Louis the previous game. They didn't have a lot of emotion going and giveaways killed them. Fleury was pulled after the 3rd goal but not because of his play -- more just to shake up the team. But it didn't work. There's no doubt the Pens, even with their recent additions, just aren't the same team without Crosby and Malkin.

Price made some nice stops, notably one in tight off of James Neal when he found himself alone in front of the Habs net, did everything right, waited waited waited for Price to go down, only to see Price get his arm on the puck when Neal tried to roof it.

The team has now won 6 of 7 and find themselves only 2 measly points back of Boston, although they still have that freaking game in hand -- what's up with that?? They've had games in hand all friggin' season!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Medical P.O.V. on Pacioretty's Injury and Aftermath

Great article about Max Pacioretty's injury.

Might make you feel better, might make you feel worse. Only time will tell:

"It’s really not possible to know for sure what treatment Pacioretty’s neck will need without knowing the extent of the injury. It could be as simple as a neck brace for 6-8 weeks or as complex as surgery to fuse vertebrae — putting in rods or plates. The fact that he was breathing and moving and the the fracture is non-displaced really shouldn’t be downplayed. That’s all great news. He could potentially heal with no lasting effects, and obviously that would be the ideal outcome."

Jaro, Zdeno etc.

Montrealers are very upset about what happened over the last 48 hrs, especially since the NHL decided that the Chara hit on MaxPac was "a hockey play."

I'm sorry if I offended any of my readers by using the photo in the previous post, which isn't pretty. But to me it's very indicative of what really happened, that this player did intentionally shove Pacioretty's head into the turnbuckle.

If anything, the NHL is being consistent, because in my opinion Cooke should have been suspended big-time for his hit on Savard last year, and Richards as well for his hit on Booth, among others.

Yesterday and last night many commentators were saying that in life, even if you didn't mean to do something like if you accidentally ran over a kid in a school zone or something -- you're going to go to jail.

Agreed. It has nothing to do with intent. But the NHL isn't the real world. If Tom Kostopolous had drilled Pacioretty, they would have thrown the book at him. Chara's an all-star, so he gets off clean. But it appears Montreal, Air Canada and even the Federal Government are taking steps to make sure this doesn't go away, and that's great.

Pacioretty contacted TSN's Bob McKenzie at around 9pm last night to let his feelings be known, for the record:

"I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of (the hit) to suspend him. I'm not mad for myself, I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's okay, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt."

"It's been an emotional day. I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I've got a fractured vertebrae, I'm in hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something. I'm not talking a big number, I don't know, one game, two games, three games...whatever, but something to show that it's not right."

"I heard (Chara) said he didn't mean to do it. I felt he did mean to do it. I would feel better if he said he made a mistake and that he was sorry for doing that, I could forgive that, but I guess he's talking about how I jumped up or something." "I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn't a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle."

If anyone could get a sense of Chara's true intent, it would be Pacioretty. This is like if JFK survived the assassination in Dallas to then say "the shots... they came from the grassy knowl."

There's a general feeling that fans and society as a whole is getting a bit tired of this and with the lack of action by the NHL. Now it seems the Montreal police department is moving forward with a criminal investigation on the Chara hit. This probably won't result in anything except maybe for providing a nice distraction for the big Bruin dman. Maybe they'll get into his head and he won't play at his full capacity...

Also, Air Canada has written a terse letter to Gary Bettman threatening to pull their sponsorship unless the league begins to do something about the violent hits and the non-punishments. You can bet, there's a lot of Habs fans on Air Canada's executive board.

Now this is how things get done in our world -- with the power and leverage of the almighty dollar. Imagine this turned into a Tiger Woods-style sponsorship fiasco for the NHL!? Sponsors leaving, fans turning their backs on the game... could be a disaster for the league.

What the league also needs to realize is that this affects viewership and hockey participation across the board. If the NHL doesn't put measures in place to protect its players, why would any parent want to enrol their kids into youth hockey programs, if they think there's a chance their kid could be irrevocably hurt!?

I'll tell you something what I really didn't like -- the way the NHL's statement as well as Chara's and coach Julien's statements were worded. Why is Pacioretty labeled as "the player" or "the opponent"??? Why is the victim often forgotten in our society? Couldn't Chara have apologized, said he made a mistake, and call Pacioretty by name? Same thing with Julien. Honestly I have lost total respect for coach Julien, I think he's a bald faced liar. Since the game last month, I think he's gotten caught up in the whole big, bad Bruins thing. He's still bitter Gainey fired him.

Chara's a liar too. Says he didn't know who it was. He's clueless on the ice. Okay... an all-star veteran dman, but he doesn't know who's on the ice and where he is on the ice. Right.

They skated towards the puck. Max chipped it past him and as Chara approached the boards he looked to see who it was!!! Then the hands came up. If he had kept his hands down, it would have been a bad hit, but most likely Max's head never flies into the turnbuckle. To say "the player jumped up" is truly ridiculous. The good thing in this? This will hopefully not go away, and dog Chara the rest of the year until the Bruins get eliminated. And the bigger burn on Chara, as I mentioned in my last post, this will become the defining moment/memory of his hockey career.


Well we must continue, and continue we shall. The Habs are in St. Louis tonight for the Price/Halak showdown. Halak and the Blues played last night, winning in OT. This is Eller's big chance to pick up where he left off from the last game and show the Blues they made a big mistake in trading him.

Hopefully the Habs can use the Pacioretty hit as motivation and ramp up their intensity down the stretch.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Still Mad...

... but finding solace in the hope that Max Pacioretty will make a full recovery and that ultimately Zdeno Chara's career can be remembered with this image -- he sure as hell isn't winning a cup so long as he's playing for the Bruins -- THAT'S FOR F#@& SURE!!!!

Photo Yahoo Sports


UPDATE 3:25 pm -- Zdeno Chara does not receive a suspension for last night's hit on Max Pacioretty. Not pleased.

Disgusting!! Sickening! Terrible!! Gutless!! Irresponsible!!

These are but some of the words being thrown around today after last night's tilt against the Bruins which saw Zdeno Chara with 16 seconds left in the 2nd period send Max Pacioretty into the "turnbuckle" between the two benches.

What should have been a posting about how dominating the Canadiens were in pretty much every facet of the game, as well as lauding Lars Eller's best game so far in the NHL, has now been turned into this:

Pacioretty's head made direct contact with the turnbuckle, his head stopping while the body continued to move forward. He landed on the ice, out cold and to some, appeared dead!!

Thankfully he's not dead, and media reports from the game indicated that he was conscious, responsive and moving all of his extremities.

Just as this young, promising power-forward was starting to reach his stride, he was knocked down.

It was hard to identify exactly what happened in normal speed, but slowed down it clearly shows that Chara pushed Pacioretty's head towards its final destination. The puck wasn't even close, the period was about to end, and Chara's act was completely senseless. He was given a 5 minute major, a game misconduct and now we wait to see what the league office will say.

He's going to get suspended. Let's remember that Chara is a repeat offender, and hopefully this will be taken into account. However, it's hard to identify Chara's intent (kind of a sneaky play liek the Steckel hit on Crosby) and knowing Chara, I wouldn't think he was trying to kill the guy. He just wanted to send him into the bench.

Nothing wrong there, but Chara as a veteran has absolutely no excuse for doing what he did, where he did. Because they weren't in the corner, that's the point! How would he like it if he had his face slammed into the turnbuckle at 65km/hr?

Coincidence that it was Pacioretty who scored the OT winner a few games back against the Bruins and gave the big guy an innocent shove away from his celebration? Definitely not.

And then there's that arse of a big mouth young player Marchand whining pre-game that the Habs are a dirty team and should get what's coming to them. Intent???? Why are the Bruins letting him be their mouthpiece??? Does this seem like a team in control of itself? We had Ference condemn his teammate last month, then Marchand acting like he's the authority on what's fair and what's not. Keep your mouth shut kid or someone will shut it for you.

I'd like to see Chara pay, and like to see him receive retribution, but it's not going to happen. What we can hope for is probably a 3 game suspension and the fact that the Bruins now have an ample source of bad karma to deal with, which will surely emerge. This will also lead to tentativeness in their game and result in a tailspin in the standings and playoffs.

All I can say is, the Bruins better pray they don't face the Habs in the playoffs.

The Habs, with last night's 4-1 win, go to 4-1 on the season against the Bruins, beating them no matter who's between the pipes. Last night it was Tukka Rask. One more game left between the two teams this season.

All we can do is hope for the best

MaxPac is a strong-willed, strong young man. He has overcome quite a few obstacles already in his short career. You may recall he's already been strong-armed and suffered a concussion 2 seasons ago.

He took a shot off of his ribcage from Wisniewski and came back the next game.

This time though he's not going to be as lucky. The latest reports indicate MaxPac has a fractured vertebrae in his neck.
This from head coach Jacques Martin on Wednesday:

“Max Pacioretty has a severe concussion, as well as a fracture of the fourth cervical vertebrae, but it's not displaced,” explained Martin. “Max will remain at the hospital for further observation. There will be no other prognosis for the time being, but he will obviously be out indefinitely. The most important thing for our organization right now is Max’s recovery. We will continue following recommendations from the doctors and of course, Max and his immediate family would appreciate privacy in this matter.”

But Chara's act truly ruined a perfectly good hockey game, as in the 3rd the crowd and both teams seemed to be in quiet shock. What is it going to take for the NHL to finally come down once and for all on headshots and to redesign the "turnbuckle" so it's no longer a life and death hazard!?

Why can't the Bruins, who were being dominated, lose like winners? Because they're the Bruins, that's why. And until the franchise realizes that the Don Cherry style of play has only one result and one result only -- losing -- they will continue to go cup-less for years to come.

Skill always beats braun in hockey, and the Habs / Bruins rivalry is a perfect example. Meanwhile, the Bruins last cup, in '72, featured possibly the most skilled player ever to lace 'em up, namely Bobby Orr. Coincidence??? We know not.

Hopefully Pacioretty will make a full, physical recovery. Then we can see if he can resume his career. On a best case scenario, this will be next year. Thanks Zdeno for taking out one of our most promising up-and-coming players. You're a real champ.


Habs have now won 5 in a row and are now only 3 back of the Boo-ins.

They travel to St. Louis for a game tomorrow night. Good news, Halak is back and hopefully will start. Price has a GAA of 1.00 over his last four games. I like the Habs' chances.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hal Gill Shoots, Hal Gill Scores -- AGAIN!!


That's right. Fitting!!! Everyone gets a come-uppance once in awhile. Even the best of 'em get their noses rubbed in it sometime in their lives. And that's what happened last night in Tampa Bay with the Canadiens posting a solid 4-2 victory to end a 3 game road swing with a 3-0 record.

Canadiens captain Brian Gionta arrives to congratulate teammate Hal Gill on the latter's first period goal. Photo by Scott Audette, Getty Images.

What am I talking about???

Guy Boucher, that's what I'm talking about. Former Hamilton Bulldogs coach, motivator extraordinaire. He got his come-uppance last night when his Lightning team was soundly defeated by his former proteges and AHL players Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais.

Pacioretty put two past Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson including the game winner and Desharnais scored on a nice, poised and in-control move across the crease after receiving a perfect pass from Andrei Kostitsyn -- who also continued his recent strong play last night.

But this isn't about Kostitsyn for a change. This is about the Canadiens finally getting real -- and consistent -- contributions from prospects who did their time and worked hard to finally have it pay off for the big club. Desharnais matched Marty St. Louis stride for stride last night and beat him points-wise. Pacioretty played the power forward role to perfection and was everything that we would have wanted from Lecavelier had that trade been realized.

A rebound goal! What a joy to see our Habs getting dirty, gritty, bang-it-in type production. He would fit in nicely in Philly eh? Except that, we need him here now more than ever. Not gonna make a Johnny Leclair-type mistake again.

With Eller starting to contribute offensively since being teamed up with Brother Andrei, it's nice to see the Canadiens getting meaningful imput from their younger players. Push that even further, Weber still had a good night even if he did look a bit awkward with new partner Brent Sopel, and P.K. Subban had another solid, if uneventful night -- which is fine by me. Anytime a defenseman goes unnoticed in a game is usually a good thing.

Hopefully this isn't a flash-in-the-pan because the Habs can really use this. Gomez is still not out of his funk and although Plekanec had a good night he's not exactly firing on all cylinders in my opinion. So to get another goal from another unlikely source in Hal Gill is really very exciting, but I can't help but think that if this dries up, we're going to be up shit's creek if the top lines don't start posting better offensive numbers.

Gill's second goal in 2 nights proved what I thought about his goal the other night against Florida. He's changed his slapshot and it's paying off big time. I don't know if you noticed this, but he has shortened his follow-through in his shot in an obvious attempt to get the puck on net.

Look at it next time you see him shoot. He takes the stick back normally but noticeably shortens up his follow-through once making contact with the puck. I like it! Shows he's working on things in an effort to get better. If Gill can regularly put pucks on the net and we can have MaxPac sitting there to chip in rebounds, the team will be much better off for it.

Boucher put our noses in it when he came to Montreal earlier in the season and watched as his team came back to then win in OT. Last night was the Habs turn to return the favour, and they took full advantage.

For me last night was yet another recent example as to how the team is beginning to ramp up their playoff play based on last year's formula. Score on the power play and win the special teams, take advantage of great goaltending, use their speed on turnovers and capitalize on opportunistic scoring opportunities. If the Canadiens can use the rest of the schedule to sharpen that pencil and work out a few other nagging issues, they might once again be poised to make a run.

Why the hell not? They did it last year, and this year -- THEY HAVE A BETTER TEAM!!!


This is going to be a fun week of hockey. Thursday night, the team travels to St. Louis for the "Clash of the Goalies" which unfortunately looks like it might not happen. Jaro Halak is injured and might not be ready to go against Carey Price. But let's see the Habs take care of business down there.

But first we'll get to see what kind of character this team has when they face the Boston Bruins in Montreal on Tuesday night. We all remember the 8-6 drubbing in Beantown last month. Let's hope the Habs pull a Boucher back on them.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hal Gill Shoots, Hal Gill Scores

The last time Hal Gill scored a goal was over a year ago, also in Miami against the Florida Panthers.

Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is congratulated by Andrei Kostitsyn after a shutout victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night in Sunrise, FLA. Photograph by Hans Deryk, Reuters.

So they don't come often but boy when he scores, he makes it count. Gill scored his first of the season in the 1st period last night and it stood up as the game winner en route to a 4-0 win against the more-AHL-like Florida Panthers last night.

The Panthers have nothing to play for and seemed listless. They had some good chances but Carey Price was once again strong in nets, to record his 7th shutout of the year. A lot of the media were saying it was an easy night for him but I tend not to agree. Okay, it wasn't his hardest game of the year, but he was forced to make some really good saves and if one of those had gone in, who knows what would have happened.

Brother Andrei Kostitsyn continued his fine play with a goal and an assist, playing with Eller and Moen on a line that has peeps paying attention. I guess Martin reads this blog because so far he's taken my advice asking him not to take the line apart. So far, so good. After the game, Martin mentioned Moen/Eller have pushed Kostitsyn (via their play) to give a good effort every night.

To me, it just looks like they're keeping things simple and not trying to get fancy. And I have to say, Eller is looking much more confident these days. He's shown he can play on the defensive side of the puck and that's probably why he stayed with the big team so long. But now he's starting to chip in offensively and this team can sure use it.

Especially when the top 2 lines aren't producing like they should.

The Habs jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the game was even 10 minutes old. Price made some key stops. Vokoun was pulled in favour of Clemmensen and he then let in a softie when Desharnais threw a weak backhand his way. Eller closed off the scoring in the 3rd on a nice tip from a Travis Moen pass.

The bells were ringing in the 3rd too as both Pacioretty (on a breakaway) and Kostistyn rang pucks off the post in a 20 second span.

Tomorrow night should be a totally different story when the Habs face the Tampa Bay Lightning, who always give us a hard time. Time to put the work boots on and put in a solid, blue collar game.

Playoffs!? Playoffs!?

That's right, the dream is still alive for the Toronto Maple Leafs, with an exciting 3-2 victory last night against the Philadelphia Flyers!!!

Is this just an extra portion of Leafland hope the fans have become used to expecting this time of year, only to fall once again flat on their collective faces!? Or is this for real!? Time will tell, but the Leafs are now only 3 points out of a playoff spot, with a game in hand over the 8th place Rangers!!!

But before you pull out your plastic to buy those 1st round tickets, Buffalo is still a point ahead of the Leafs, and they have 3 games in hand over the Rangers. Should be a fun one to watch. I said a few months ago, I would not be surprised if the Rangers didn't make the playoffs and I still could be proven right. They lost again last night and are having major problems scoring goals. But I would put my money on the Sabres, even if they lost last night's first and genuine "biggest game of the year" against the Hurricanes in OT.

On another note, the Bruins won again last night, moving them into 2nd in the Eastern Conference. Methinks this streak will only end to start a losing streak. Anyhow this could be interesting if they somehow avoid the Habs in the 1st round. As it stands now, they'd play the Hurricanes (who are usually tough against the Bruins).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Price Posts 2 Points

We all know that Carey Price is having a great season, made even more special after all the whoop de doo over the summer and the Halak trade.

Canadiens goaltender Carey Price makes a save against Thrashers' Chris Thorburn on Tuesday night. Scott Cunningham, NHLI via Getty Images

What was so good about Halak in last year's playoffs was he stole games for the Canadiens, games they probably normally would not have won. That's how key the goaltending position is, because it can literally win, or lose, a team games.

Last night was one of those nights for Carey Price, on the winning side of the ledger. He stole the game for the Canadiens against a freefalling Atlanta Thrashers team who lost 3-1 to a team that had not won in Atlanta in 9 tries. Price was on fire, and a bit lucky but too bad nobody was on hand to see it.

If I had turned on the tv during the 3rd period without knowing the score and saw all those empty seats, my immediate reaction would have been that it was a blow out, that the Habs were up by a large margin and the game was well in hand.

That wasn't exactly the case. A pitiful crowd of a but over 11,000 was announced, but in reality the number had to be half of that. Which is pretty sad, given the Habs usually draw a lot of people out no matter where they play. And there were plenty of Habs fans in attendance last night... so can you say Les Thrashers de Quebec!?

There was a lot of excitement in the province yesterday with Quebec City announcing Pelardeau's involvement in the new arena, for naming rights etc. prompting Michel Bergeron to say on "L'Antichambre" last night that he wouldn't be surprised "...if there were a team in Quebec next year."

I think he's being a bit overly optimistic, but you never know. We all hope it happens.

Back to the game, really the Habs were running around the entire night, hanging on against the ropes. The ol' rope-a-dope played to perfection (must be tuning up for the playoffs). After the 1st period the Canadiens played a reaction game: let the Thrashers do as they may, Price'll make the save then we'll turn it around and get some chances.

Max Pacioretty, who was clearly the best Hab last night, scored a nice if not lucky goal but had a breakaway to put the game away and unfortunately missed the net after deeking Chris Mason out of his pants. Then the Thrashers scored to ruin Price's shutout with about 6 minutes to play.

With the Thrashers buzzing Price made some key saves and with the empty net, Gionta used his speed and hustle to get to a puck and shoot it in to give the Habs the 3-1 win.
An important 2 points to keep pace given the Rangers lost but both the Caps and Bruins won. Especially since the team traditionally has trouble with the Thrashers, even more so in Atlanta.

Off to Tampa Bay, where at least we won't have to worry about Purse-gate 2... we hope.