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Monday, April 30, 2012

Chipchura Finds His Role

I'm always paying special attention to former Habs to see how they're doing. Most of the time I'm actually rooting for them, too (Benoit Pouliot does not apply). Believe it or not, I was happy for Michael Ryder last year, caff caff.

This year has its fair share of former Habs still playing for the big honours including the Kostitsyn brothers, Hal Gill and Francis Bouillon -- all with the Nashville Predators.

But today I'd like to focus on the unheralded Kyle Chipchura, a guy who hasn't had it easy per se but who seems to have finally found his place on the 4th line for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Chipchura fit in well with the group during his time with the Canadiens but never quite found his spot on the ice. Injuries, a lack of playing time (and a lack of confidence) added with the fact he may have been enjoying the finer side of Montreal just a bit too much, resulted in the rugged center being shipped out to Anaheim during the 2009-10 season.

Now after a few seasons of so-so play with the Ducks, he seems to be playing the 4th line role well with the 'Yotes. And good for him.

For a second there, I didn't even recognize him. He came into the playoffs with an already advanced beard, and looks like a grizzled veteran at the relatively young age of 26.

Kyle Chipchura hammering the last nail in the Chicago Blackhawks' season during a 4-0 win last week. Pic: Getty Images

His line is chipping in and is one of the main reasons why Phoenix is up 2-0 in their series against the Preds, and why they upset the Blackhawks in the opening round. Chipchura also showed some nice hands with a great pass out to Gilbert Brule for a goal, then scored one of his own in the series clinching game against Chicago. He's winning puck battles along the boards, he's going to the dirty areas of the ice, and he's taking the hit to make the play.

All in all Kyle, you are playing the kind of game that all teams need this time of year. Keep it up man and salut from all your friends and fans this side of the border.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back to Normalcy

I awoke to a better world this morning.

A world that is back in sync; one where things feel and look like I remember them.

A world, namely, which does not include the Boston Bruins as Stanley Cup Champions.

You may have noticed my radio silence during this opening round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

This was not completely intentional.

I needed a bit of a break but also, since I was behind in posting my first round predictions I decided to let things unfold before chiming in.

Now I can...

Sometime after 10pm in my home last night, it was if the Stanley Cup had been won. But indeed it had been lost, and was as much of a victory for me as anything.

The Boston Bruins are now relegated to that spot where they can only watch who will take the trophy away from them, like an outgoing Prime Minister who's lost the election, or a Richard Nixon watching his foe in JFK taking the oath from another Nixon foe, Chief Justice Earl Warren (I'm reading his bio now, thus the reference).

Timmy Thomas didn't do his usual race off the ice after losing in overtime bit. This time, all he could do is watch. Caps beat the Bruins 2-1 in OT to win the series 4-3. Thank you.

LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bruins lose, Bruins lose. Hey Jack Edwards, what do you say!!!???

It has been quite the interesting first round: Nashville's Shea Weber taking Zetterberg's head in hand and whacking it against the boards; the Raffi Torres hit; the OT's; the crazy (read: crap) goaltending in the Philly/Pittsburgh series; the Torres suspension; the lack of suspension to Weber; and now the Caps taking out the Bruins. There's more.

LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh that deafening silence in Boston when Joel Ward slipped that rebound past a sprawling and finally not-so-lucky Timmy Thomas. Beautiful.

You got to love the irony, that it's Washington to beat the Bruins, after the now infamous snub of President Obama by Thomas when the team visited the White House. God Bless America, Timmy!

It's kind of funny that Ward scored the winning goal. I was thinking last night how clutch he was last year in the playoffs for Nashville and then signed a juicy contract with the Caps based on that performance. And this year? Disappointing to say the least.

But then he goes and redeems himself with the biggest goal of his career -- and for me, the biggest goal of the year!!!!!!!!!!

The playoffs make strange bedfellows. I found it somewhat odd rooting for a Capitals team that I so often have despised, especially in 2010 vs. the Habs. But there I was, sweating along with every play as if it were Carey Price in nets instead of the upstart rook Holtby.

Can he pull a Kenny Dryden and take the Caps all the way!?

Why not!? Even more possible if the Senators stay keep with the programme so far and knock out the Eastern Conference top seed New York Rangers.

And of course you know I was rooting for the L.A. Kings against Vancouver--a team I'll never root for again after letting the Bruins win the Cup.

Once it's set, second round predictions will be posted -- I promise.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

This is the End, Beautiful Friend...

Habs host the Leafs tonight at the Bell Centre for the final game of the regular season.

Normally this would be a supercharged game.

Normally the Habs would be playing for playoff position, while the Leafs would come in and play spoiler.

Neither applies this year.

The Habs are assured a third-worst in the league this year and could even finish second-worst if they lose in regulation and the Oilers beat the Canucks tonight. I wouldn't mind.

If the Leafs can beat the Habs, they'll also finish out of a lottery pick. I wouldn't mind that either.

This has been a tough, rough, difficult sh%t show of a year for the Montreal Canadiens.

Not fun for the fans, not fun for the team's revolving coaching staff, not fun for the players or the media.

Back in January when I officially gave up on the team and began preaching for losses in order to get one of those coveted draft lottery picks, I was just trying to make the best of a difficult situation.

And as we near the start of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, my disgust in the year's results grows. Watching the playoffs just isn't the same without the Habs. Sure I'll watch the playoffs and even root along for some teams, especially whoever plays against the Bruins.

Jean Beliveau with the Stanley Cup. Who will be the next captain to raise the cup for the Habs!? It probably won't be Brian Gionta.

But it won't have that same heart-thumping-against-my-chest energy and excitement that only having an emotional attachment provides. I love that feeling, when the Habs are up or down by a goal late, every play scutinized, uncer the microscope, when it's all on the line.

Well, here it comes: "There's always next year."

Team President Geoff Molson has been lauded by the press by firing Mr. Gauthier when he did, giving fans and players alike hope, while saying what we all so desperately needed to hear: that failure is not an option.

So as they sort out the GM and Head Coach issues, I will focus on Tuesday night's draft lottery, because it's always fun to dream. Hey the Habs have a shot at the number one pick overall! Probably not going to happen, but it'd be nice. And even if they don't get it, a 2nd or 3rd pick will be nice too.

Will the Habs finally get that elusive big centre who can put the puck into the net with consistency?

Will the Habs finally get that goal scoring superstar, the type of player the team hasn't seen since Guy Lafleur????

I hope so :)

So ultimately I'm taking away all I can that's positive this season, that the Habs will put the kind of management / coaching staff in place to succeed; that they'll get a top pick who can make an impact very soon; and that the team needs to learn how to lose, before they learn how to win. Throw in both Cole and Paccioretty reaching the 30 goal plateau, and I'll say I'm happy... for now.


Baseball bat click of the cleats out to CRO!!! That's right, Warren Cromartie former Expo and famous gap-toothed grinner. Yes after the outpouring of emotion with Gary Carter's death in February, baseball is being resuscitated in Montreal with the MONTREAL BASEBALL PROJECT. Cromartie was in Montreal recently speaking of the group's plans to put action into reality and get pro baseball back in Montreal, whether it's the MLB or what. Gotta start somewhere, so they're holding a rally in June and a golf outing with the '81 Division Champs team. Man I'm going to be unavailable that weekend, but hope lots of people go!! More on this in the coming weeks.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gilmour Sighting and The Game

So one of our brethren Habs Fan in LeafLand sent me this story: last week he and his party were waiting for their table at a nice restaurant here in Toronto and the folks who were just leaving included one Dougie Gilmour. Yes that Doug Gilmour, the one who starred with the Flames and Leafs, before playing (somewhat admirably even if he bleeds blue and white) with the Habs.

As Gilmour is leaving, someone asks him: "Hey didn't you play for the Leafs?"

He smiles and utters some friendly thank yous through some burps...

Anonymous Habs Fan in LeafLand: "Wait! You also played for the Habs too!"

Gilmour: "Errr, yeah."


Last night, yours truly went to the Leafs/Sabres game at the ACC with Riva. It was her first game here in Toronto. Actually she's never even been to ACC, not even for a concert. So I'm happy to report she had a great time and really appreciated the entertainment value that MLSE puts on for their overpaying customers.

Big shout out to Billy M. for supplying the tix.

And guess what? The Leafs, who hadn't won at home for the past 10 games, finally got a win -- with their AHL goalie to boot -- defeating the Sabres 4-3. Good game actually, because really for most of it the Leafs were dominated by a Buffalo team that had a lot riding on the 2 points; yet the Leafs were opportunistic and managed to eke it out.

Habs Fan in LeafLand at last night's game. The Leafs won their first home game since early February, beating the Sabres 4-3. Pic by Riva.

Up 3-1 entering the 3rd after scoring with .6 seconds on the clock to end the second period, the Leafs almost blew it. This one might really hurt the Sabres though since we know the Caps took 2 points from the Canadiens in Washington last night and Ottawa also won.

The Sens also won today, officially stamping their ticket to the postseason. 

The Leafs win was also important for the Habs to make sure Montreal finishes under the Leafs for the higher draft pick. It's looking more and more like the Habs will finish 3rd worst in the league, but they still have a chance at 2nd worst if Edmonton can win a few this week.

Speaking of which, good on the Canadiens to at least come back from a 2-0 deficit last night with goals from Erik Cole and Tommy Plekanec. I know Plekanec has had an off year, but he's still managed 16 goals -- and I gotta give the guy credit. He's had a clusterf@#k year playing with Cammellari and practically everyone else yet still finds ways to contribute. Hopefully he'll have a bounce back season next year playing with a healthy Brian Gionta.

Another shoot out loss. Wow. The Habs have 15 combined OT and shoot out losses this year. Something they definitely have to improve on next year.

This is the last week of the regular season folks. So we're out of the playoff dance, but take solace in the fact that it'll be a fun offseason :)