It’s back to the task at hand, the Montreal Canadiens, currently sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 83 points will host the Southeast leading Washington Capitals tonight at the Bell Centre. This will be the first Montreal home game since last Tuesday’s infamous ‘incident’ involving Max Pacioretty and Lurch, I mean Zdeno Chara.
Tonight’s foes, the Washington Capitals, currently second place in the Eastern Conference with 90 points, are a stone’s throw away from first place Philadelphia (91 points with two games in-hand) in the Conference. Looking to make it nine straight victories, a Capitals win coupled with a Flyers loss to the Florida Panthers tonight would propel Ovechkin and the Caps to top spot in the East.
The Habs, winners of their last two home games dating back to February 26th against the Carolina Hurricanes, will make a bittersweet return to the Bell Centre tonight. As important as this game is to both the Canadiens and the Capitals, the real event’s taking place outside the Bell Centre, at Centennial Plaza (go to the bottom of the post).
Carey Price, who’s looking to make some space on his trophy mantle, is a 99.99998% lock to start tonight’s game. Price is boasting a 33-22-6 record with a.924 SV% and 2.29 GAA and 8 shutouts. His 33 wins are good enough for the league lead and his 8 shutouts are second to New York Rangers netminder, Henrik Lundqvist. CP is looking for career win #94 tonight
Prior to last week’s road swing in St. Louis and Pittsburgh, Andrei Kostitsyn was enjoying a seven game point streak. AK 46 has been blanked in the two last road games, but there is a silver lining for the Belorussian. AK’s looking to make it four straight games that he registers at least a point at the Bell Centre.
Tomas Plekanec is looking to extend a home point streak of his own. Plekky is currently enjoying a four game point streak at the Phone Booth and has seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in his last eight games. The Centre out of Kladno, Czechoslovakia has averaged just under a point a game against the Capitals lifetime. In 22 games regulkar season games against the Caps, Plekky has 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) woth a plus-6 rating.
Alexander the GR8 has found his form and that does not bode well for the Habs. In his last 14 games, Ovechkin has registered 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) and has registered at least one point in his last 7 road games. Ovechkin loves the bright lights of Montreal and especially loves to play against the bleu, blanc, et rouge. In 22 games against the Habs, the Caps captain’s accumulated 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists).
The big question is, who will start in goal for the Capitals? Capitals rookie netminder, Braden Holtby, thrust into a starting role after a string of injuries to incumbent goaltenders, Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, went 4-0-0 last week and claimed NHL First Star honours. The 2008 4th round selection for Capitals had a 1.05 GAA and .965 SV% and 1 shutout in that span. Reports indicate that Michal Neuvirth is ready to go, after leaving a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning because small pieces of metal broke off from his mask and became embedded in his eye. It looks as if Capitals head coach, Bruce Boudreau, will make his decision right before tonight’s game.
This is the third meeting between these two teams with the season series currently tied at one apiece. The last time these two teams locked horns was back on February the 1st in Washington. That game witnessed the Canadiens defeating the Capitals 3-2 in a shootout. Habs captain, Brian Gionta scored the winning shootout goal. These two teams will meet for the fourth and final time this season on Saturday, March 26th in Montreal.
Tonight’s game starts at 7:00PM, check your local listings.
Before tonight’s Habs/Caps game, a rally to protest excessive violence in hockey, vicious/unnecessary shots to the head and support player safety will commence at 5PM at Centennial Plaza. The peaceful rally is aimed at bringing attention to a very hot-button issue that has been thrust into the limelight following last week’s ‘incident’ in Montreal. As mentioned numerous times before, the rally is not a protest against the Boston Bruins or Zdeno Chara. It’s a rally against the type of vicious hits resulting in unnecessary injuries and the NHL clearly showing its downfall in dealing with this matter properly.
Please represent the city of Montreal with class; I would like to write about the successes of Tuesday night’s rally and how it brought us one step closer in resolving this growing epidemic infecting the game of hockey. Be safe.
This rally is for Max Pacioretty and Marc Savard. For Patrice Bergeron and David Booth. For Sidney Crosby and Steve Moore and the scores of other players currently suffering from the after effects because too many people have been saying for far too long, “It is, what it is”.
Go Hockey Go
NOTE: I WILL BE AT THE RALLY, PLEASE FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @JOHNNYBERTOLO
I don’t get it; I simply do not get it. I guess if we live in a society where people like OJ Simpson can escape jail after ALLEGEDLY killing both his wife and her love interest, then anything’s possible, right? You may or may not be thinking that my last comparison was a little too over the top, tell that to the guy who’s lying in a bed with a neck brace in a Montreal hospital, searching for justice.
Max Pacioretty is alive, that’s all that matters.
It was horrific enough to see his motionless body laid out on the Bell Centre ice, or finding out that his parents were both in attendance Tuesday night to witness this travesty. But the NHL’s refusal to acknowledge the seriousness and the long-term trauma that could face Pacioretty is the greatest crime of all.
Max Pacioretty spoke out last night and didn’t hold back any punches. He told TSN’s Bob McKenzie,
“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.”
The brain tanks at the NHL did it again. NHL VP of Operations, Head Disciplinarian and Hockey Dad to his son Gregory (who plays for the, wait for it, the Boston Bruins) was exempt from the hearing due to conflict of interest. So they get his minion, Mike Murphy, another VP of whatever, to step in and make the ruling.
After Campbell, Chara, Chiarelli made Murphy their ‘Lucky Pierre’, he finally renders a decision:
“After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline. This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly… with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards…I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous….This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface. In reviewing this play, I also took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career.”
So, if I understand the NHL correctly, you can put someone’s life at risk as long as you perform a proper hockey move without leaving your feet? So unless someone gets proactive, an NHL player will eventually die, it’s just a matter of time. The NFL got proactive, changed the rules DURING the season and handed out fines like Halloween candy. Why you ask, because the NFL wants to protect its investment. The young men, who make the catches, score the touchdowns and run 40 yards less than four-and-a-half seconds are what makes the league money. The NFL wanted to protect its players while attempting to curb the scores of concussions, head and neck related injuries. The NFL took a stand, why couldn’t the NHL?
Following the NHL brass’ bukkake-fest all over its players and fans, the twitter-verse exploded. Many fans took to social media and un-followed the @NHL on Twitter and dropped the NHL fan page on facebook. Fans had suggested boycotting the next Montreal Canadiens’ next home game to protest the league’s ruling and send a clear message…not likely. Most fans have shelled out some serious coin for this game; it’s simply not feasible. One of my blog colleagues suggested that each of the 21, 273 fans in attendance wears paper bags with the #67 written on it for the next game. This gesture would show solidarity and would simultaneously send a crystal clear message to the league that its prime market, its cash cow, is not pleased. Do not bite the hand that feeds NHL. Strength in numbers, folks. Strength in numbers.
Air Canada announced that they will review their current advertisement agreement with the NHL following the incident, taking a stand that the NHL refused to take. At the request of Montreal prosecutor, Louis Dionne, Montreal police will conduct a criminal investigation into the incident, a move supported by many Montrealers.
It’s been over 36 hours since Tuesday’s ugly incident and the Montreal Canadiens, its fans and especially the Pacioretty family have been victimized once more.
Frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of the league apologists (fans and media folk alike) saying that this was an ‘unfortunate accident’ and there’s a thin line between ‘hurting someone’ and ‘injuring someone’ and ‘you can’t read Chara’s mind so we’ll never know the truth’…BULLSHIT. Complete utter bullshit. You don’t need to be a mind reader to know Chara was gunning after him. How many former Norris Trophy winners do you know who have been in the league for over a decade simply allow a rookie to burn past him on the outside at centre ice? Two things comes to mind in a situation like this: This kid is really, really, really, good, or, Chara’s getting really, really, really old. Both thoughts fully support Chara trying to remove Pacioretty from the play. But with the history between these two players, the video evidence from three past games, the seething hatred between these two teams, a loud-mouth play-by-play analyst from NESN foreshadowing an attack on MaxPac two months prior to the incident and hours upon hours of mp3 recordings from Boston Bruins players seeking revenge on Pacioretty; there is enough evidence here to suggest that Chara wanted Pacioretty out.
I’m not saying Chara purposely intended to fracture Pacioretty’s vertebrae and put his career in jeopardy, but he did and thus should be held accountable. To make matters worse, if Chara was indeed remorseful, what was the big rush to abscond to the back of the Bruins bus and refusal to initially speak to the media following his game-misconduct?
The culture and the vendetta-like mentality needs to change. Following Tuesday’s incident, Montreal Canadiens forward Ryan White told the Globe and Mail that if the roles were reversed, he would certainly take the opportunity to smash Chara or any other Bruin into the partition of given the opportunity.
It’s images like Tuesday, the myriad of concussions, sound bytes like White’s that truly indicate there is a fundamental disconnect between the actual game and respect for your fellow competitor. Someone’s going to die and the blood will be on the hands of those who were too scared, too intimidated and too stupid to do anything to change it.
This is a sad time to be a hockey fan.
Please Leave Comments and follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo
STATUS UPDATE (3:42 pm): According to the NHL and the VP of Hockey Operations, Mike Murphy, the reasoning behind the ruling,
“After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline. This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly — with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards,” continued Murphy. “I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous.”
Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo
Status Update (3:30pm) According to the Boston Bruins via Twitter: “@NHLBruins: The NHL has informed the Bruins that there will be no fine and no suspension for Chara. The Montreal Canadiens at their fans will not pleased when they get word of this. Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo
STATUS UPDATE (2:30pm): According to Renaud Lavoie of RDS, “@renhockey Pacioretty: neck fracture-out 2 to 4 weeks only for that injury. He’s got a plastic cast around.”
According to Pacioretty’s agent, Alec Shall, via twitter, “@aschall21 Max sounds like himself. It is going to be a lot of work to heal and rehab, but his will power is one of his strengths.”
Remember, Pacioretty did suffer a concussion on the play. He must be evaluated numerous times before he’s given the green light to return. Stay updated Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo
STATUS UPDATE (12:38pm): Max Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and a non-displaced fracture of his 4th cervical vertebrae. The Montreal Canadiens will continue updating his condition. Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo for further details.
Last night’s Montreal/Boston tilt was supposed to be a celebration of the game. Finally, skill and speed had once again trumped over thuggish goonery and intimidation.
The Montreal Canadiens had returned to respectable form following last month’s abortion of a game in Baaaston. In the eyes of its fans, the Habs completely outworked, yes you heard me, OUTWORKED, their slower, braindead opponents to perfection and the B’s simply couldn’t handle it.
The Modern day Canandiens showed flashes of the 1970’s Habs against their longtime, bitter rival. As much as the Bruins slashed, hooked, punched and cheated their way to an advantage, the Habs were equally up to the task, just simply executing better.
The Habs were not going to allow a sequel to the “Bedlam in Beantown” unravel on Bell Centre ice. Even when jackass Johnny Boychuk was headhunting early on in the 1st period, it was Ryan White who stepped in and made Johnny Boy’s face look like Tom Pyatt’s following last month’s fight with Gregory Campbell (without the help of an elbow pad I might add).
From that point on, you knew the Habs weren’t f$%king around. After the Habs notched goal, after goal, after goal, after goal, the Canadiens and their fans were preparing themselves for a good old-fashioned Tuesday party in downtown Montreal. The champagne was chilled; people couldn’t wait to talk about Lars Eller and his first two-goal night in the NHL, or Andrei Kostitsyn extending his point streak to seven games, or Gionta’s 24th, or Wiz’s Wizzer from the point.
This 7-foot former butler from The Addams Family somehow lucked his big carcass into a contract with the Bruins after he was left for dead in Ottawa. Under the guise of Claude Julien (who bears a striking resemblance to Hank’s neighbour, Bill Dauterive, from King of the Hill, thank you Habs blogger Kyle Roussel for the laugh), Chara has been transformed into one of the most dominant defenders in the game and simultaneously one of the worst dressers (even by Slovakian standards) on the planet.
Ever since Max Pacioretty scored the overtime winner against Boston and shoved Chara following the goal to celebrate with his mates on January 8th, 2011 a huge target was automatically painted on the back of the PacMan. The Bruins had focused their collective hatred for the Habs on #67 and viewed him as the next big threat in the MTL/BOS rivalry.
During the clown show in Boston last February the 8th, Chara showed his pettiness by slashing Pacioretty on his calf and watched has he slowly skated back to the Montreal bench. If this were Babylon in 1011 BC the 2nd Sealed Dynasty would throw the case out citing the classic argument, “An eye for an eye” or in this case, “A love-tap for a love-tap”. Finito, finished, done, move on.
If that’s not intent to injure, then the Quebec government is run by some of the smartest, most talented people roaming the Earth. Following the game, after Chara cowered to the back of the Bruins bus to escape the ever-glaring Montreal media eye, Lurch emerged and spewed forth his reasoning behind the hit “…very unfortunate when I pushed him that he leaned & jumped a little bit & just hit the glass extension”
Yeah and I’m pretty sure JFK assassinated himself using the magic bullet and an invisible gun. What a crock of sh%t, he knew where Pacioretty was, he knew he was off-balance and vulnerable and the f$%ker shoved him anyway. The act was so premeditated, the NHL has three games worth of footage to cycle through before making an educated decision regarding Chara’s fate.
So now the Bruins and Chara play the waiting game as Lurch will sit down with another NHL VP clone, Mike Murphy, who will surely evaluate the hit on the after effects of Pacioretty rather than the intent to maliciously end the guy’s career.
Bravo NHL, Bra-F$%king-Vo! —
Carey Price was brilliant, again, stopping 30-of-31 shots to preserve the win for le bleu, blanc et rouge. Price improves his career record against the B’s to 13-3-2.
Lars Eller certainly had a better outing this time against the Bruins, scoring two goals and finishing the game plus-1. Last time Eller played the B’s he was lined up with Gomez and finished the game -4.
Andrei Kostitsyn extended his point streak to seven games and has assisted in six straight.
James Wisniewski scored his 8th goal of the season with a blast from the point.
Captain Brian Gionta scored a rather easy goal on Tukka Rask following much confusion in the Boston crease.
Tuukka Rask certainly had a night to forget. Filling in for the injured Tim Thomas (Hand), Rask allowed four goals on 26 shots and finished the game with a .846 SV%. Lifetime against the Habs, Rask is an unflattering 1-5-1.
Hab Killer Milan Lucic got the lone goal for the B’s late in the 3rd period. In his last 9 games, Lucic has six goals and six assists and leads the B’s in the scoring category with 29 and tied for second on the team in points with 50.
Habs are back on the road, travelling to St. Louis to play last year’s Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, on Thursday. We will have a full evaluation on Max Pacioretty’s condition and a MTL/STL preview tomorrow on JB.com Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo Please leave Comments. Laters!