Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Price is the new Halak

Well, I really haven't had the energy to keep up my game tweets or blog notes. Luckily the community is large enough now there are plenty of others to fill these roles :)

I would like to congratulate Carey Price, and the team, on a great season so far. There was a lot of anxiety and speculation at the start of the season on how CP would perform; and he has really answered the call.  I knock him when he's struggling, so now I'll praise him that he is succeeding. Mr. Price has found that competitive edge to his game, and really stepped it up. He looks pretty good in that net, and his team is playing well around him.

41 save shutout against Philly? Em, nice work!

On another note, I would like to tip my hat to Bob Gainey as well. He really put together a solid team; a group of players that want to win, and feed the team mentality. When I look at the strategy employed by Brian Burke in TO, versus the moves made by Bob Gainey when he 'blew up the team,' well, I'm pretty thankful! Bob Gainey also stepped out of the way; if nothing more than to prevent himself from screwing up what he put together :) And Gauthier has to be credited as well, I'm sure it wasn't all #23.  Where Burke tried to make big impact moves to spark his team, the Canadiens set a foundation, and quietly built on it with gutsy players (and they seem to have a deeper resource pool from Hamilton than Burke has in TO). Oh well, its worked the last couple years.

The Habs are a fun, fast team to watch.

Go Habs Go!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

One down, 81 To Go

The loss to the Leafs was not entirely a surprise; the Habs are coming off a surprisingly successful playoff campaign, and the Leafs are really looking to do better than last year's embarrassment.

Carey Price didn't look bad, but Hal Gill did. But that's Ok, because so did Mike Komisarek ;)  The rest of the team failed to really impress, and although it was great to have hockey back on TV, the game wasn't really that exciting.

And that jam at the net just before regulation ended? Think Toskala or even Gustavson would have let that one in? I do. Giguere is already making a difference for the evil White-and-Blue this year.

Tonight the Habs visit the Penguins. It'll be nice to have Cammalleri back, but I gotta predict a Pens victory on this one. I'd say 4-1 Pens. The reason? Although the team really came together at the end of last season, it seems that they have since split apart a bit. There is a jump to their game that is missing, but you know the Penguins on home ice will be ready to Bring The Noise.

So, good luck Habs! Although its way to early in the season to worry about anything, remember that every game you lose now, is a must win in March.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Season Opener!

Go Habs Go!!! I hope the team has a good outing tonight: it's gonna be a tight game!

I'll be out drinkin and cheering!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Woes of Carey Price

The season hasn't even started yet and the fans  (and some media) are turning on Carey Price faster than last week's fresh fish. Maybe he deserves it, maybe not (probably not) but one thing is certain; Carey Price brought it on himself.

And I don't say this because of the way Carey has played -- there has been enough press about that already -- I say this because Carey Price has shown, in the last couple years, that people can get to him.

You see, its no fun picking on a guy who doesn't care. Booing a guy like Halak isn't gonna get you anywhere, because he's not gonna react and he's not gonna care. But the fans know that if they boo Price, he is gonna react to them. Maybe he'll wave at you, or his game will change, who knows what will happen! But he will react...

And the opposing players know it now too. If Price lets in a bad goal or 2 because he's a bit nervous or whatever, then you've got him mentally beat for the rest of the game. Maybe he'll flip the puck at you, or start blaming his defense; in any case he'll change his game for the worse, and you can score at will.

The calm, cool, unshakeable kid is now more like a jello cake with a firecracker in the middle; one bad play and KAPOW! Everyone's covered in a green mess.

So now the entire hockey world knows the Carey Price is a vulnerable hothead, they'll crack him open like an egg every game.

And if Carey Price can't shake off a bad goal, a tough play, and (re)learn to keep his cool in bad weather, then this will be the last contract he ever signs.

Good luck Carey Price; no one on earth deserves the shit storm that is brewing in Montreal with your name on it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tampa Bay and Simon Gagne?

No surprise here, but I am a huge Simon Gagne fan. big left winger, takes lots of shots, tries hard every night, and was once described by Bob Clarke as one of the smartest players in the league.

So given that he is now playing with another big favourite of mine, Vinny Lecavellier, I cannot but start to wonder what could have been, if the Habs had made the right moves and been lucky enough to get these players.

I'd be so excited if my Montreal Canadiens could have Vinny and Simon playing for them! Amazing home grown talent lighting up the league with speed and skill, razzle and dazzle...

Or would it have been a nightmare? It seems very common for Quebec born players to return to Montreal and then under acheive. A couple games without a goal, heros are turned to goats in the press, the pressure gets to them, they stop having fun and 2 of my favourite hockey icons end up with misery and crushed careers. Montreal is a difficult town to play in, and an albatros to anyone with talent.

So maybe its best that my heros stay down in Florida; enjoy the sunshine and play their hockey stress free. Have a good year here and there, retire as 'quality hockey players'.

Besides, our current team seems to have the right mental state to play in the Mad Montreal Market; no point in cracking that egg prematurely.

I still can't help but wonder what could have been; I haven't had my favourite players play for my favourite team since 1993.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No More Halak Attacks...

So it is done: Jaroslav Halak is out of Montreal, after a solid Olympics, dragging the team into the playoffs, and carrying them to the Conference Finals.

I was expecting a goalie to leave Montreal, but I expected something 'interesting' in return. First, I thought Price would be the one to go. (See my last post.) Price looked tired and frustrated in Montreal, and I figured he was gonna ask for a trade. I suppose this could still happen.

But it was Halak. The Hero Halak. Traded. Ok -- not the end of the franchise, but after hearing rumours that Philly was offering Jeff Carter for one of our goalies... that San Jose was in the mix... Tampa Bay (Lecavellier? hahahaha) was in the mix... We ended up with a couple prospects -- a replacement for  Ryan McDonagh in Lars Eller, and a big forward in Ian Schultz. Prospects can be good trade acquisitions - but I have trouble trusting prospects taken by a team who just fired all its scouts!

Had we lost Halak to free agency, we would have gotten 3 draft picks in return. But Halak was probably due for a big salary upgrade, even if he went to arbitration; so no guarantee another team would have paid the draft-picks. Gauthier had to dump Halak for money reasons I suppose.

The problem is not losing Halak - I'm sad to see him go, but not shocked - the problem is what we got back in return. Having both Price and Halak was like having money to burn - wrap one of them up with even something else (like a Kostitsyn maybe) and there should have been an opportunity to really make this team better. Instead, we've just lost a good goalie who showed he can really steal games.

This trade feels like the kind of trades that were made in the late 90s ... talent for saving money ... not a good hockey decision. It seems like we just flushed a good player. No offence to our new prospects, but lets face it: they have a long way to go before they make it to The Show.

I like Carey Price; I hope he bounces back after last year. I also hope he wins his team's confidence back, and they'll play for him. Because if there is no chemistry between the guys on the ice and the guy in the net, then Gauthier is gonna have to dump some more players... and that will just be bad.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Price v. Leighton

I'm not sure if a lot of Habs fans noticed, but there were a lot of similarities between 'journeyman goalie turn hero' Michael Leighton and our very own Carey Price: Big goalie, calm and collected, lets in unlucky and untimely goals.

These 2 play a similar style in net: they rely on their size and positioning to be there to make the saves. They also rely on the defence to make life difficult for the shooters, so when the shots do show up there isn't much to shoot at. They both play their best in a calm, collected manner; not letting the pressure crack them (this is not so true of Carey Price lately, I'll admit.) And finally they both seem to let in the same type of goals; tip shots find holes, and then a moment of weakness on their part will send a puck to the back of the net.

So, who would you rather have: Stanley Cup Finalist Michael Leighton, who collected himself after letting in 3 goals to beat the Bruins in game 7, all but shutout the Canadiens, only to fall to the Blackhawks: or Price, who rode the bench to the conference finals, never impressing when he was on the ice (and uncharacteristically showing a lack of composure against Washington) ?

Well, I suppose the hope is that Price, being younger and showing great promise early on, can rebound to form. Leighton's performance should certainly give Price fans hope that given the right situation, Price can shine. Price isn't as dynamic as Luongo in net, for example, but on the right team should be able to provide the solid goaltending a team needs to win.

I am not sure this can happen in Montreal. Price seems to have been cracked in Montreal; rattled to his core. He is trying, for sure, but his calm confidence seems to have turned to detached apathy - he seems almost too removed from the game at times. And you can see it in everyone's body language when Price lets in a goal; he slumps, looks helplessly at his defence, who slump, who look to their coach, who shakes his head -- the crowd tearing up their tickets and heading for the exits. He doesn't get a lot of support out there, perhaps because he doesn't command it.

Anyhow, I liked the way Price played in 2008. I was sad to see him stumble in 2009. I'm disappointed he looks to be gone in 2010. But given Leighton's performance, I think Price, given the same room to make mistakes and support to succeed, will do well. Hopefully other GMs see the same thing, and Montreal won't lose him for a song.

I don't see a way back to success for Price in Montreal.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Phili Frustration

Its one thing to lose. Its another to get embarrassed.

In games 1 and 2, the Canadiens were embarrassed. Chased out of Philidelphia without a goal, mocked, beaten and left for dead, this Montreal Miracle team looked about as tough as a brown paper bag left out in the rain.

But they gave us their best in game 3. You could say Phili played poorly; I say the Canadiens played great! They dug deep and brought out the fire -- one last time it seems. By the end of game 3 you could tell the lads were running out of juice.

Come game 4: still a do-or-die. It's a sleepy Saturday afternoon, the ice is soft and the puck is rolling. And the Canadiens needed to bring the fire -- but all they had left was smoke. A cautious start turned to the Flyer's favour as the Orange built momentum, and the Bleu Blanc Rouge burned out.

There was no reason to get frustrated after Giroux's goal. The Flyers were bound to score; but Subban's attempt at 'getting something going' was just simmered in wrong sauce, and no one was left to catch Leino (?!) whose's breakaway move was "be taller than the goalie, and fall on him." (seriously though, it was a good playoff style goal.) Subban had an aweful afternoon. But he's new; the veterans on and behind the bench should have been able to settle him down.

The Habs generated their pressure with 10 minutes left in the game; far too late against a shick brit house like the Flyers.

The keys to victory sound simple: get to the puck first, make them pay for every inch on defence. But it seems that the Habs burned up the last of their fumes on Thursday. It wasn't a bad game on Saturday, despite the score, but certainly nothing that is gonna make Philidephia think twice.

And now our brave soldiers have to go back to the Dungeon to be tied to a rack and torn limb from limb by crazed Flyers fans, frothing at the mouth. A tough way to go for a team that battled so well.

Here's hoping they find a reserve tank. Here's hoping there is some fight left in this warrior. Here's hoping we can get 1 more game at the Bell Centre, to properly thank these players for such a wonderful playoffs.

Go Habs Go!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Call it Payback, call it Serendipity, call it what you will, but now Habs fans know how Capitals and Penguins fans feel. You have all these high expectations for your team, and they come out flat as a crepe.

The Canadiens came out scared; scared to take a hit, scared to miss a pass, scared to lose. As a result they were tight as a rusty engine bolt on a 76 Chevy, and couldn't do anything right.  This wasn't the team that earned their place in the Eastern Finals, this was the team that scraped their way into the playoffs ... with a stick up their arse.

Leighton was never challenged. Everything was kept to the outside. Always second to the puck, or no puck support on the turnovers. And stupid retaliation penalties. A very frustrating game to watch, and no doubt play.

Philadelphia sat back, caused quick turnovers in their zone, and punished when they got their chances - just like Montreal did in the first 2 rounds. Except Leighton, looking like a slug in net, never had to bail out his team.

Martin was right to pull Halak - he had no help out there, no point in frustrating him. Price couldn't stop anything, but it sure is tough walking into a game like that.

So on to the next game! Too bad we dropped one, but there is still lots of hockey to play. And the score doesn't matter; only the W's do.

How do we beat them?
  1. Play hockey. Don't be afraid of the puck, don't take cheap shots. You can't intimidate Phily with late hits or wayward slashes; so stop trying. Stop worrying about it and play the game.
  2. Loosen up, but stay focused. Get the determination back to not let Phily have their game, or have their shots. Keep it simple, and take advantage when Phily finally cracks.
  3. Get over it. Phily is gonna hit you. They are gonna crash the net. They are gonna play like a bunch of brick-shit-houses. Stop trying to out-cheap-shot them, focus on your game style that got you to the finals, and drive it home.
  4. No Fear. These guys are not the Monster Under the Bed. They are just a hockey team. Stop buying into their marketing brochure. 

Go Habs Go.

One More Thing...

A yes, a couple days ago I did a writeup on The Challenges To Winning Round 3; and I forgot one major point.
If we do manage to win the Conference or the League Final, who will accept the cup from Bettman?
We have no Captain. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but that has to be some kinda first. And it might be another reason my Hockey Fate to Frown upon our plucky squad of shot blockers

After a Game 7 Canadiens victory, Bettman asks who the Captain is... the response from the bench is a sheepesh look from the coaching staff -- "we don't have one..." at which point Bettman shrugs his shoulders and announces the Philidelphia Flyers the victor.


Go Habs Go.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Getting Into The Rink Against A Pitbull

Well we have quite the unlikely matchup; seeds 7 and 8 duking it out for a shot at the title. This seems more like a 'Consolation Final' than the real deal, but rest assured, its as real as that lump on the back of my neck. (small joke)

So we have 'The Homer Simpsons' vs. The Pitbulls. The team that takes it in the teeth until the opposition gets tired, then pushes them over, against the team that doesn't get tired. I have to give the advantage to Philly on this one -- which pains me so deeply, because the thought of Philly getting to the finals just makes me so sad.

I know most Habs fans wanted Boston to roll into town. Nostalgia and all that jazz; I mean, are the playoffs even really valid if Montreal doesn't play Boston? But considering 1993, most Habs fans probably wanted to see Toronto roll into town instead of Wayne Gretzky the Kings... and look how that turned out.

Well, let the fans do all the worrying so the team can play hockey. Another big angry mountain to climb, this time with more hidden dangers than obvious ones.  I'm glad we have such cool headed players as we do... because I'm freakin' out over here.

Go Habs Go.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Challenges For Round 3

The Montreal Canadiens have pulled off 2 major upsets. Now they will have another major challenge in round 3 -- keeping the momentum going. The following are some of the challenges Le Grand CH will face in the 3rd round...
  1. Playing as a favourite to win. Without home ice advantage. Although the regular season still has the team sitting in 8th, they are definitely a favourite to win the third round. You don't knock off 1st place team in the east and the Stanley Cup champs and not come out as a favourite to win. Expectations are high, and Boston or Philly (the 3rd is about to start for that game as of this writing)  are gonna come in as underdogs, ready to upset "the miracle team".
  2. Playing a team of similar style. The last 2 rounds they had to shut down lethal offences and finish their limited chances. Now they'll be playing a team that grinds their goals in; plays a similar style of stiffling defence first, and a quick dirty counter attack to punish. Will our Big D be able to maintain their focus? Will they be able to frustrate players who are used to not being relied upon to score? How does the defensive system change when there is no go-to goal scorer to bury? If the opposition sits on Cammileri and Gionta, do we have the depth to respond?
  3. The Hockey Gods hate riots. Even since 1993, the Canadiens have not won a series after they riot. There were no shenanigans after the Washington win, and the Gods stuck around to help. After the garbage on Wednesday (and I know its not hockey fans) the Hockey Gods might once again look the other way...
  4. Job done? I don't think anyone in Blue Blanc Rouge is currently feeling that their job is done... but maybe if they end up down 3-2 in games, hard fought frustrating grinding games... up against an equaly hot goalie as Halak... maybe these guys will quietly take pride in what they've done and go home? 
Ok, I doubt that last one. There is a lot of pride on this crazy Montreal squad, no way they'll quit. But the game has changed for them now -- if they start reading their own press and forget what got them where they are, then all will be for not.

A third round exit means you win nothing. And although I am extremely proud of this team and what they have so far accomplished, I would be sad if all their efforts ended without a reward. The Boys deserve it!

Go Habs Go. Stay Thirsty My Friends. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Winning Game 7

Out-scoring the most lethal offense in the league.
More composure than the Stanley Cup champs.


For the first 30 minutes, I have never seen Pittsburgh play worse hockey. The Canadiens played well; they were aggressive and certainly finished their chances. But Pittsburgh was completely weak on defence; bad passing, scared to shoot... they came out so flat, its incredible! I had Pittsburgh winning this series, and even this game... but I certainly did not count on Malkin, Gonchar and everyone else in Black to come out so slow and flat. In the second half, the Habs were tired ans spent, so... Queue Halak! Amazing saves!

A little story for you. I was worrying about this game all day -- completely convinced Pittsburgh would win, but I couldn't help but start thinking 'what if...'  Then at lunch, I paid for my $8 lunch with a $10, and got back a Montreal Canadiens Centennial loonie. This is only the second one I have ever seen in Toronto.

Its as if the fates were saying -- don't worry, you Twit, everything will be Ok....

So. We're 1/2 way there, and we have got to be the favourites to take the East, despite not ever having home ice advantage. The next series will be much different... and I hope our boys are up to it.


Go Habs Go!

PS: did anyone see Syd's post-game interview? I feel bad for him. Obviously upset at the loss, he really came off as a sore loser. I clicked over to another channel to watch the whole thing and he certainly composed himself later on... but dang! Complaining about the refereeing? Critisism about the Habs "gameplan" and Halak's play? Never heard that from a player before, especially a Captain.  But then I don't think its fair to jam a mic in a guy's face after a game, so you can toss the whole thing.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To Win...

There is an old recipe to winning playoff series...
  1. Your stars have to win one for you
  2. Your grinders have to grind one out for you
  3. Your goalie has to steal one
  4. You gotta get lucky
I'd say, after Game 4, that Pittsburgh had gotten 1&2 covered. They won game one by goals from their 3rd line, while Crosby and Malkin were held off the score sheet. Game 3 Pittsburgh and Montreal played a very similar style, rushing defence, and Malkin was the difference.

Montreal, on the other hand, had 3&4 covered. In game 2 Halak played an amazing game to get the victory (note that the defence has to be a big part of a goalies steal.) Then game 4 the Habs got 2 lucky goals for the win... So they got that covered.

Game 5 - well, I thought Fleury finally stepped up and made some outstanding saves to earn the victory. So Pittsburgh has all the requirements to win the series.

Montreal, on the other hand, has run out of tricks. They need a game where Cammelari and Gionta et al. get out there and score their goals, same as in Game 2. And they need Moore and Moen and Laps to have a stellar game and steal one from Pittsburgh. in both these scenarios the rest of the team has to playing as hard as they have been to date.

Pittsburgh just has to play their game, and maybe get lucky to win. But if the Canadiens don't find some offence, if they don't bury that puck, then all things being even Pittsburgh will win.

Oh well, never know what's gonna happen. The Canadiens haven't won if I haven't been watching, I missed the game on Saturday for a wedding and won't see the game Monday because of my own hockey game -- so I am expecting the worst but hoping for the best!

Go Habs Go! Go Bell Centre Go! If Monday is our last game, let's make it a game no one will soon forget!! 

Thursday, May 6, 2010


There is no questioning the Ref's were playing for Pittsburgh tonight. Sometimes Canadiens fans can get a blinded; its part of the 'passion' that goes with the team. Sometimes the crowd freaks out over nothing, and sometimes the crowd freaks out over a missed call, but the refs are playing loose; so fairs fair.

Tonight was not that. There was a missed tripping/interference call on Subban for the first goal, and a couple non-calls on the Kunitz goal. I saw it, the Bell Centre saw it, the announcers saw it, the dog outside saw it. And its really frustrating to be an under-dog and not get a fair game from the refs.

In the 3rd things changed a bit, the Habs got a few make up calls and the Refs stopped calling all the Pen's dives... and the hockey Gods did the rest.

Did the Habs get lucky? You bet. The first goal was lucky. The winning goal was definitely lucky. But the Pens couldn't beat the Habs fairly, so the only legitimate goal won the game!

So: series back on! I still think Pens are the better team -- if they beat us clean, so be it. But the Habs are giving them a hell of a go, and let's hope we get at least 2 more great games!!

Go Habs Go!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Two Can Play At That Game

Well, everyone was wondering how Pittsburgh would respond to Montreal's stifling tactics... would they come out screaming? Score 100 goals? Would Malkin and Crosby continue to play frustrated and stand out of the way?

No -- Pittsburgh answered the call in the best way possible. They decided to play the same game: tight, stifling Defence, hard in the corners and in front of the net, and wait to get a Power-Play to finally score a goal, forcing the other team to open up.

They had the patience to say: Hell, we'll go to overtime 0-0 with 15 shots a side if need be; we are the better team, and can beat you at any game you want to play.

And so now the tactics get a little more interesting. Do Martin and Muller stick to their game plan, realising they managed to frustrate the Pens for 40 mins before Malkin's goal? The "fight" with Gionta woke Malkin up, but who knows how long that will last. Or is it now up to the Canadiens coaching staff to come up with a different game plan?

I'm not sure the Habs can develop another game plan -- they have to stick with the one they have (trap-n-pray?) and hope next time the posts are a little more accommodating.  I suspect the Habs will be able to win 1 more game; but now that Pittsburgh has got the confidence in their game-plan, I see them taking the series without much difficulty.

Had the Pens lost tonight, playing the style they did, there may have been a sliver of hope. But Pittsburgh adjusted where Washington could not; and the Habs might not have any other tricks to counter with.

But this is why we watch the Playoffs! Let's see what Thursday brings!

and, of course, Go Habs Go.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Now That's... Hockey?

The Canadiens continue to impress/frustrate in these playoffs. I'm getting phone calls at home from friends calling to 'congratulate' me on the win (like I had anything to do with it...) and talking about how they are starting to get on the Habs bandwagon. These are guys who are excited for the underdog, like watching the super-stars get frustrated, and are enjoying the excitement of watching Les Boys hang on by their fingernails for unlikely victories.

Then I am getting angry emails and and text messages from (ex?) friends (just kidding) who enjoyed watching Washington get ousted, but are now frustrated that the Gong Show that is Le Bleu Blanc Rouge is getting away with this against another big-time contender. They wanted to see the best teams compete, not some wet blanket "fromage" their way forward.

I gotta admit, these games are exciting for a Habs fan to watch! I'm enjoying the tension, the effort from my underdogs, the great performances by guys like Cammi and Gill and Gorges and Sabban and the others who are making this all work... but I am also fully aware that what I am watching is not exactly great hockey as they say. I mean, in Sunday's win, I started cheering every time the Habs cleared the blue line -- because it seems that's all they wanted to do.

I also have no illusions. The Canadiens have not gotten out of the second round in 17 years. Pittsburgh is the NHL's golden child, and the refs will not put up with these shenanigans much more. Habs will just start getting penalties called against them until the Pens win. This is why I hate the Penguins so damn much -- but it doesn't matter. Pittsburgh has to much talent and too many expectations from the League head office to fail. And besides, this style of game is really hard on the goalies and defence... how long can they last?

But until that happens, I yell a big GO HABS GO! And am pulling for them all the way... play hard, stay mean, and make Pittsburgh pay for every inch lads! Your fans are behind you!!

And besides, the playoffs aren't official until Boston and Montreal have a series... right?

Lest go les boys!! 

Friday, April 9, 2010

1 Game Left, 1 Point Needed

All the Montreal Canadiens had to secure their spot in the Playoffs was get 1 win (2 pts) in their last 3 games; games against basement dwelling teams. 3 games against opponents who have nothing to play for except pride. 3 teams who would come out hard to try and play spoiler, but would fold like a house of cards if they were put down early.

So far they have only gotten 1 of their points; in a pathetic shootout loss to the Islanders.

Instead of coming out smoldering for redemption last night, they once again come out like scared little rabbits, and once again Cam Ward and Eric Staal (and Chad LaRose) slapped around the Habs like they are a midget hockey team. Carolina made the Habs look stupid last night.

One game left, against the Maple Leafs. We know this story; Maple Leafs out of the playoffs control the destiny of the Canadiens playoff hopes. And the Leafs usually come out the better.

History has these 2 teams deadlocked, with some ridiculous number of their 7 games a season ending up tied. If history plays out, then the Canadiens will get their 1 point and get into the playoffs. Otherwise, they had better hope that Rangers / Philly don't get 3 points each in their home-and-home.

The Canadiens are playing like a frightened cub-scout troup ... "squeezing the stick" as they say. Gomez is playing like a Grade 'A' arsehole, with terrible panicked passing plays that usually end up in breaks for the other team. Cammi can't find his shot, ... oh what's the point: except for a few bright spots the entire team is stinking it up. Showing us why they are in the spot they are in; all year struggling for a spot in the playoffs.

I don't even want to see these jokers in the playoffs - same as last year. What's the point? Why suffer the embarrassment of having a first round exit against a team who is going to take the playoffs seriously? Habs aren't gonna take it seriously. It will be like watching a contender fight a clown in big poke-a-dot pantaloons.

Saturday should be fun. I hope Carey Price gets the start, just because I like watching the kid play. And since the chances of Rangers/Philly each getting 3 points is slim, I hope Carey gets the win and gets a shot in the playoffs; maybe he'll finally take things seriously and we can get an interesting post season.

Man, it is going to be a long 4 years with this current team configuration.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh My Lapierre! (Habs lose in SO to Ilse 4-3)

I know I have not posted in a while, but I feel like I have to respond to the Lapierre selection as the first shootout skater.

For the record, I like the decision. (and I hate Martin. Just thought I'd throw that in there.)

Lapierre had a very good game. Lapierre had a rough ride in February/March, but now seems to be back in playing form and working for the team. And if the Habs want to go anywhere in the post season, they need all the offensive threats they can muster: and that means giving all their players confidence to score.

Lapierre had 2 breaks in the game; the first one he out-skated the defence and deked the pants off Biron. That was no fluke. The second was a 2-on-OH! Where he made the right decision to take a shot, and it was a perfect far-side shot to set up Darche to punish on a rebound. Biron got a glove on it, but it was still the right play.

Fans seem to lament the fact that Gionta / Gomez / Kostitsyn / Plekanec didn't get the pick in such an important game. Allow me to retort. Gomez is just plain laughable in breakaway situations. Kostitsyn is about as reliable as Lapierre; Pleks is no better, and Gionta was probably the 3rd shooter. Fact is, this year we have no Saku Koivu -- the guy who was extremely reliable in a shootout. So why shouldn't Laps get a shot? Not one of those players on the bench can guarantee us a goal in a SO.

The shootout is a coin-flip, a quick game of tic-tac-toe -- not chess, not even checkers. Lapierre proved he had the moves and the mojo tonight, so he earned a shot. (note: then he blew it.) Martin has already shown us he likes to go with the "hot hand" - a policy I hate, but can see rational in. Lapierre was hot.

The loss was a team effort. No way a playoff ready team gives up a goal with 2 minutes to go (to a basement dwelling team).  No way your most consistently threatening line against the Islanders is Moore/SK/Moen. There were a host of other breakdowns that caused the loss; Lapierre having a shot in the SO was hardly the problem.

Unless you see the selection as Martin "giving up" on his team - essentially shrugging his shoulders and saying "whatever!" -- but I don't see it that way. I see it as a gamble that didn't pay off, but it was a bet as good as any other on his bench last night. Besides - Laps gets that goal, and you have another player stoked for the playoffs -- where there are no shootouts anyhow.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stretch Run

Just a quick post to acknowledge that the Habs really stepped up for the stretch run. I was particularly impressed with Gomez, who, after a pretty mediocre start, really stepped up his play.

It helps also that the team is playing as a group, and that everyone is on board. The CBC had some really great words about how well the Habs have been playing as a team, before going off on their Blue-and-White love in (I finished the game on RDS).

But yes, Gomez and Gionta, not to mention Sergei and Darche, amoung others, are really stepping it up. Defensively the team seems solid, and I have confidence in all those guys. I mean, I think Hammrlik and Spazzchek are our worst pair, and that's not a bad pair in the big scheme of things.

And Halak has been playing great. I mean, when Glenn Healy was complementing him on his stoic play, rebound control, and controlled style, it confirmed 2 things: 1) Halak is really in a good place, and 2) Healy is an idiot. (There were a couple Halak attacks last night, just so you knew who was in net.)

They lost to the Leafs in overtime, but the Leafs were playing a really tough game. The Habs looked kinda slow and un-coordinated on the offense, but defensively they held it together. Proof that things are going well is seeing all of Gomez' crazy back passes actually finding players :)

Yesterday's "Loss" was not really that bad -- they got a point against a really aggressive opponent, and can now move on to other fish. I say keep everything the same: no line juggling, and Halak should stay in net until he loses the job -- why break up a good thing? (I knew the Habs were not gonna win when Jacques started juggling his lines around. Its a sign of weakness.)

Go Habs Go! Go Halak Go! Keep playing as a team, les boys, and something special might happen in the post-season!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Halak is the Real Deal

When it came to the Price vs. Halak debate, I have mostly been on the side of Price. I loved the way he played in 2007/2008, and I think he's got the talent and the size to be awesome. I still hope he can find his game and become a top tier goalie.

But this is about Halak!

Halak has done what backups tend to do - take a chance to make good, and go with it. Halak has gone from an immature puck-stop to a fully-qualified goalie! Right now he is composed, reactive, and prep'd. He is playing the best hockey I have seen him play. His rebound control has gotten better, and the team obviously responds to him (ref: comeback victory over Anaheim.)

Halak has "gone pro" whereas Price is still struggling. As a result I hope we ride Halak all the way to the playoffs. After that, well, its anybody's guess :)

Congrats Mr. Jaroslav Halak! Hats off! You have matured and come into your own, and opposition better take note! The Montreal Canadiens Win With Halak!!

And Price, well, hopefully he's ready when called on. He's had some tough luck, but that's why the puck is round: what goes around, comes around, and he will get a chance to prove himself again soon.

Monday, March 1, 2010

NHL and the Olympics

I am getting real tired of hearing about how the NHLers shouldn't be involved in the Olympics.

This Guy Is An Idiot.

He claims that events like the Miracle On Ice can never happen with the Pros playing. Does this goofball even understand what the Miracle On Ice is? It was an ameteur USA hockey club beating a Pro Hockey Team! (As much as the CCCP team could be Pro. It was their best of the best.) That's what made it a Miracle.

The hockey world has changed: there are successful professional leagues all over Europe. And every year there are 2 International tournaments: the World Junior Championship and The IIHF World Championship. Add the Spangler Cup in there, where Canada is invited as a nation to play against top clubs, and the market is getting pretty crowded for Yet Another Hockey Tournament.

People want to see the best against the best. This is something none of the other hockey tournaments can offer.  The drama of the Swiss beating Canada in 2006, and taking them to a shootout in 2010, is only thrilling because it is against the best Canada has to offer. We want to see the best challenge each other for hockey glory. And since there is a lot of resistance to keeping the Canada Cup / World Cup of Hockey alive, especially by the NHLPA, then where else are we going to see this showdown?

The other complaint is that its tough on the hockey players. No doubt! So is that the fault of the Olympics, which is every 4 years, or the NHL, for having 82 games + 2 months of playoffs + (now) trying to bleed revenue from even the preseason (+another 4 weeks).

I'm not saying the NHL and the NHLPA don't deserve revenue from the Olympics  -  that is a sweet pot, and you are a fool if you think the IOC is doing all this for the 'purity of sport'. Its a mad cash grab. So why not let the NHL get in on the action? Let's face it, it is the marquee sport at the games (the biggest money maker.) It is a benefit to both sides!

Without the Pros in the Olympics, both sides suffer. The Olympics lose bigtime money from having the best in the world competing at their event. The NHL loses exposure to a massive captive audience; because let's face it, a hockey tournament in the middle of July like the WCoH is hard for anyone to get geared up for.

Some sports bring their pros; summer has basketball and the beach volleyball. The snowboarders are "pros" in that they are on the world cup circuit getting sponsorship cash. Soccer, on the other hand, does not have the pros involved: because they have the World Cup and the Euro Cup and so on. Also, keeping the soccer pros out of the Olympics gives 'lesser' countries like Iraq a shot at an international title (like at the summer games in Australia): but hockey isn't that big!

Anyhow. There has been a lot of negativity around these Olympics in Vancouver, and I guess I'm just sick of all the Negative Nancies finding scabs to pick. That was an awesome hockey tournament, and the only folks that should be upset are the Russians, as they had the harshest exit.

I say keep the Pros in the Olympics, until there is enough competition where its no longer needed - which will be soon, if the European leagues keep growing. (But not within the next 12yrs, I'd say.)

Told you...

... Meteoric Rise to HOCKEY GLORY!!

Congratulations Lads!  

You'll be hearing from my cardiologist!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do You Like Apples?

How do you like THEM Apples!! Canada over Russia 7-3!!

Canada finally gets to meet a Mortal goalie, and chews them up. And it wasn't the big lines -- it was everyone who has been struggling in this tournament: Nash, Perry, Getzlaf, Boyle... This was an awesome win for Canada. And the goals were Canadian style goals: fast counter attacks, driving the net, hard working goals! Its a shame that Russia had to go out in the Quarters; they were a spectacular team who deserves some success. Perhaps a better story would have had this matchup in the semi-finals. But that's tournament hockey -- and Team Canada is flying high. They'll need to settle and focus for their next game, and I'm confident they'll be ready for Slovakia or Sweden.

Go Canada Go!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Canada Avoids Relegation!

They have now earned the right to once again play in the A-league!

All joking aside, I thought this was a very positive game for Canada. There were some mistakes, to be sure, but there was a lot of good as well. Crosby/Staal/Iginla have got some mojo, the Sharks continue to click, and Nash and Toews are really gonna make a difference. Pronger and Bergeron find themselves with Brodeur on the outside looking in, but it shouldn't bother any of them. They need to be ready to help out when called on, and motivate the team.

It was a shame that Getzlaf and Perry can't seem to find their groove - perhaps Morrow and Richards have earned some more icetime, but its hard to say what's gonna happen game to game.

I applaud Team Canada for at least showing the poise to come out strong and fight though their troubles. Now Hopefully they won't need a period to warm up and hit the net vs. the Russians. The Russians are fearful, but I give Team Canada even money - it should be a great (but tense) game. I won't even try to suggest what Canada needs to do to win -- it just seems like such a big game, to try and even talk about it unless you are Scotty Bowman you'd sound like an idiot.

On Shea Weber's goal: the puck was going so fast it not only went through the mesh, it went through without splitting the mesh. This means that the puck's molecular composition was literally compromised; it passed through Time itself! It went to PLAD, man!!

On Nash not getting his penalty shot: it would have been nice to see Nash get the shot, but I completely understand Babcock going to Crosby. Crosby is being looked to to lead this team offensively. He will be called upon in every shootout situation, and looked to for big goals. This was exposure to a pressure situation to set the expectations.  Crosby missed today - but he'll be even more ready tomorrow. In the end, it was a good coaching move.

Go Canada Go! You have eaten a lot of crap this tournament, you deserve some success!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Get Ready For Something Special...

Tonight Team Canada lost to the USA 5-3 in a game where the good guys were never able to get a lead. We were beat by B-Ryan Rafalski and Ryan Miller (note: there are something like 8 USA hockey players named Ryan,) -- a defenceman having the game of his life and perhaps the best goalie playing today.

Brodeur was not himself. He made some great saves, he played pretty well... can't fault him for the 2 tip goals, can you? But to me he looked like he was trying too hard. Everytime he tried something "special" it ended up in our net (the super-cool baseball-bat play, and the diving missed poke check.) Marty is best when he is boring; and in this game he put on a show - intentional or not.

Enough about that. Every analyst, from Hitchcock to McGuire to the idiot hacks (me) are pointing the finger at Brodeur. Poor guy... its not fair, but c'est la guerre.

We are gonna see Luongo in net for the rest of the tournament -- and Luongo is gonna win. Why am I confident? 2 reasons:
  1. Luongo is gonna have that positive nervous energy knowing he was not expected to carry the team, but now has been yoked with that responsibility. He is the kind of player who responds to the challenge, and is gonna be awesome.
  2. Team Canada is gonna feel pretty bad for getting Marty benched. They are gonna step up their game for Luongo. Its a wake-up call, and I believe there is enough character to respond.
In 2002 Patrick Roy backed out of the Olympics - no one really knows the real reason, but I believe its because he figured Brodeur had the better chance of winning the tourney (but if Patty is on the team, Patty starts.) Brodeur walks in knowing everyone is wondering if he can do it, and he answers.

In the 2004 Hockey World Cup Luongo had to play the semi-final game against the fearsome Czech Republic - in quite possibly the best hockey game I have seen in my life, Luongo rose to the occasion and made it happen. (they won 4-3 in overtime.)

Canada can no longer be a favourite for the Gold, after only winning 1 game in regulation. The pressure is not off, but I think other teams will now be focused on the USA and the Russians. Team Canada is poised for a historic comeback, and Luongo is gonna be the foundation of the meteoric rise to hockey GLORY!!!

Or not I dunno. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On The Swiss

So the Swiss once again put a scare into Team Canada, this time by taking them to a shootout, where finally Sid was able to crack Hiller for the winning goal.

How did it end up this way? How where the Swiss able to go the distance with Team Canada, after falling 3-1 to the States and having a very limited NHL roster?

What I saw was, in the second half of the game, the Swiss played a better Canadian style game than Team Canada. They were harder on the puck, forced turnovers, dirtier, uglier, and again able to get sticks and bodies in the way of Canadian scoring chances. I saw the Swiss out-muscle Canada in almost every battle; this gave them puck possession, and they were able to control the pace of the game. I know Team Canada out-shot the Swiss 18-3 in the third; but Hiller only had to make a couple "great" saves - the rest of the shots were pretty low percentage.

The Swiss also played without any fear of taking penalties -- whereas Team Canada looked like a big dog on a short leash. Pronger takes 1 bad penalty, and everyone freaks out - there was only 1 strong shift by the Morrow line to start the third - and the Swiss were hitting harder and forcing turnovers. This is how Canada normally plays! Our penalty kill should be strong enough to allow our team to go out there and kick some ass!

And I know we had a lot of power plays, but there was a non-call on Crosby getting sticked in the face, and there was a non-call on Perry getting kneed in the first period. If Canada did that to the Swiss, the players would be up on murder charges.

Canada is playing like they need to be the perfect team: no penalties, perfect passing plays, giving lots of respect to the opposition with the puck... and to a certain extent they are right. (Insert Gretzky rant here.) We have an excellent team. But they have to stop trying to be Dudley Do-Right / Captain Perfection and play 'our' game.

Our game beats you high, and it beats you low.

Anyhow. Team Canada has had their wakeup call - and I am confident they will answer. The other teams will know that an aggressive forecheck will cause problems for Canada, and sitting back (like the Norwegians) will fail. So Canada had best be ready for more of what they got from the Swiss.

Go Canada Go!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On Laraque...

Today George Laraque was let go from the Montreal Canadiens. Gainey said he was unproductive and a distraction - Jacques Martin obviously didn't want to play him... and I guess they had tried trading him and couldn't waive him. So they bought him out.

The timing sucks. Its a terrible time in George's life to get fired, especially since its obvious teams are not exactly knocking down doors to get to him. Personally, I feel bad for him and wish him all the best.

But as far as a player goes, I gotta say George Laraque was not the kind of enforcer you need on a team. George is too much of a nice guy! He only fights the other heavy weights, plans and discusses his bout before hand, and would usually do nothing else after his fistycuffs -- even if he did get more ice.

"Its my job to fight," he'd be heard saying. So after his 1 fight he would stop playing hockey, letting the rest of the team do their job of winning the game... so why play him? Ever?

Teams didn't fear George Laraque - players feared fighting him, I guess. But he never got emotionally involved in a game - never crashed the net, stirred up the mix, or inspire the team with his play. He could have been like Moen or Kostopolus, but instead he would coast around, stay in the corners, and try and calm everyone down, instead of firing guys up. I almost never saw him come to the defence of a player - always showing up minutes later to go toe to toe with another toughy who had nothing to do with the original play that pestered our talented guys.

In short, Laraque was indeed a side show to the game - its just how he kind of evolved. Now if he was younger, coaches would be able to work with him to turn him into the new kind of tough guy the league has - someone who can bring energy to a game, cause havoc on the other team's defence, and make room for all them little guys on his team. Unfortunately, he is no spring chicken, and his injuries precluded him from training into the player he needs to be.

From a hockey fan stand point, I am glad to see him out. I never liked the signing to begin with, because just having a slugger on your team isn't gonna scare the sh!t disturbers like Ruutu and Avery and Downie - because George would never fight them anyway (too little). So he was pretty useless, especially since the coaches couldn't / wouldn't work with him.

But as a person, I liked George's "code of honour" -- and he showed some interest in being a reporter on the game: given his easy going personality and his passion, and he's bilingual, I think he would be a good addition to any reporting team.

So I am glad George Laraque is off the team. But I also hope to see him again soon, and see him stay in hockey in some capacity.

Good luck George, and good luck Habs.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why Does Price Look So Bad When Scored Against?

I made this statement Saturday night as I watched Price let in his goals against. For some reason, Almost every time Price gets scores on, it looks like its his fault - lazy, slow on the glove, out of position ... he almost always looks to blame.

I'm not alone: other Habs fans are echoing the sentiment with everything from "He's my favorite goalie, but I've lost confidence." to "He is no longer my favourite player - let down too many times."

Update: to support this, we have the Gazette saying "Price didn't look good on any of the goals" from Saturday v. The sens, and a headline saying "Don't blame Halak for 6-2 loss" - even though Halak let in at least 2 goals the trickled right through him.

Why? Why does Price evoke such a reaction, when other goalies let in all kinds of goals, good and bad, but people don't freak out?

I've got a few thoughts. (Is why I'm writing this, duh...) Ok:

Price is not an "Athletic" goalie. That's not to say he'd fat and out of shape, no no. But Price is not the kind of goalie that roles around after every save. He doesn't dive across the net or turn himself into a pretzel - and even when he does it rarely looks good. But, as a result, when goals go in against him, he looks at fault - as opposed to more dynamic goalies who are still trying to make the save, even though its over. Because Price looks frozen, it looks like a weak goal. In reality, no amount of flopping around like a fish is gonna help.

Price looks behind him if one slips by. Connected to the above comment, if a puck does get by Price he is usually frozen, and looking over his shoulder. Other goalies will look beat - never see the puck go by them, as it were. Watch other goalies and when one slips by, they are rarely looking over their shoulder as it goes by (even if its a rifle from the point) -- they are often looking into the play. Price knows when he's beat, and is sitting there looking at the puck go by him - much more often then other goalies. For some reason, the fact Price is watching the puck go in again gives the impression he could have stopped it, but failed - when in reality, he was beat like any goalie, he just knew it before anyone else did.

The weak glove. Ever since the Philly series (2008, where it looked like he was playing with a club for a catchers hand) it is "known" that Price has a weak glove. He can make tons of windmill saves with that glove - but every time a puck hits his mitt and rolls in (sometimes off his head) fans lose confidence in Price - in "the big game" - is that glove gonna be there? More like "HA! I knew he had a weak glove!" - a little harsh for every glove side goal that goes in.

The shoulder shrugs. After a lot of goals Price's reaction is to give a little shoulder shrug - as if deflecting blame. I don't think he is, mind you. I think he's saying "oh well, no big deal, I'll get the next one..." whereas other goalies seem to have more serious or competitive reactions. Is Price's reaction giving the fans the impression he's being flippant, as opposed to taking the game seriously?

These are just perceptions! I've never met Carey price and I have never heard anything from someone who knows him confirming or denying any of this. Its just perception - but for fans, perception is everything. Halak lets in tons of terrible goals, but fans don't hold them against him. I'd say that for every starting goalie - except in Toronto.

Goals go in. They have too. Price isn't as goofy and sloppy as he looks sometimes - its his reactions which are driving our perceptions.

But, in the end, the best way to get fan confidence is to win lots of games. That's the bottom line.

Terrible weekend!

Man, what a bad week for the Habs, and an abysmal weekend. Although they did manage a win against Dallas, they lost 3 "two-point" games (conference) against New Jersey, Ottawa, and the Rangers. And through the week, they just kept getting worse.

The NJ game they had a great game and were unlucky in overtime. Price shook off a terrible start to win the game against Dallas, and came out stinky against Ottawa. Halak looked equally shaky, and was the victim of terrible defensive play - odd man rushes, d-men getting out muscled and out-played.

I made the comment that Gainey paid for leadership and competitive attitude this summer: getting Stanley Cup winners and big goal scorers. Well, when the pressure was on in Ottawa, the Habs were a no-show. And things absolutely collapsed in New York.

Sad to see. When the Habs lose, its because they play a bad, disorganised, disheartened game. When the Leafs lose, its not for the lack of trying - the Leafs usually out shoot their opponents, put lots of pressure on, and make an exciting game (they just can't keep the puck out of their net.) But the Leafs show up almost every night -- if the Habs showed up every night, we probably wouldn't be once again slogging it out for scraps at the playoff table.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Almost back online!

Apologies to everyone for being offline for so long - the new baby is here and cute and healthy. Mom is recovering well, and our oldest is stoked to have a new brother. I am still getting used to juggling 2 kids - but I hope to be back a-tweeting games soon!

Some random thoughts from over the hiatus:

World Juniors
It was a pretty fun tournament, but Canada was in a pretty light division - so we didn't get to see a lot of Russia and Sweden and Finland. The New Years Eve match between Canada and the US was pretty dang exciting, and Canada were lucky to win; the gold medal match was even crazier - and just about the perfect hockey game - the incredible heroics in the last 3 minutes really made the loss seem irrelevant. I mean, I'm sad we lost, but to come back like that was way more memorable then the outcome. And (shoot me for saying so) I think Team USA was the more talented bunch - so they deserved their victory. That's not to say Canada wasn't talented, obviously they were, but it seemed to me that the US was a little faster, and a little more flashy. Anyhow, it was really close either way.

And I was introduced (through the miracle of Television) to Habs no. 2 draft pick, Kristo. What a player he is!

Les Canadiens
I thought Halak was starting to look really tired, and was frustrated that Martin was sticking with him. Of course then Price got in there and went 1-2 (including the game v. Washington) so what do I know. I really really like the way the lines are stacked right now (it would be nice to get AK47 back for sure.) I am almost amazed when we lose; I think we have 4 perfect forward lines, all of them capable of being dangerous, and I would like to see them generate some success before Martin flips like the proverbial fast-food hamburger he is. I know I'm stuck with Martin for 3+ years, and he brings a stabalizing presence behind the bench, but I still don't have to like him.

Around the NHL
The Winter Classic was a pretty fun game, despite the score. And I continue to suck in my hockey pool, as every player I pick up to replace a failing member turns to ash. My Death Touch has single handedly ruined the promising career of so many this season, I really should send out flowers to these players: Mark Streit, Steve Mason, Anze Kopitar, Alec Kotalik, Matt Carle, and oh the so many others...

Happy 2010 all, and I hope to see you in the twitter-verse very soon!