Posts tagged “Boston Bruins

Mauled: Habs get Thumped 7-0; Bruins still Hungry

So, what happened last night?  As you can clearly see, I haven’t been around these last few days…you know…kissing hands…shaking babies…. that sorta thing.

In all seriousness (barely), I started a new job. Yours truly is dealing with some ‘stuff’ at this present juncture, and no, I am not ‘Chasing the Dragon’, I’ll never let that happen… again.  But after watching last night’s Bruins vs. Habs tilt for the 711th time, there’s no shame in falling ass-backwards into your vice of choice; to quote the late, great Bill Hicks:

“The idea of getting a, you know, syringe full of heroin and shooting it in the vein under my c*** right now seems like almost a productive act.”

Ah Bill, thanks for putting things into perspective.

This is where I’d usually spare you the indignity of going over every detail from the game; the replays from TSN and the snarky, arrogant remarks from everyone outside MontRÉAL are punishment enough.  Alas, I am petty and a good laugh is in order so without further adieu, here is last night’s game, re-enacted for your viewing pleasure.

 

Pretty darn close, huh?  I’m predicting more life out of Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral than last night’s Habs performance, at least we know someone’s gonna score, right?  The Bruins distanced themselves further from the Habs in the Eastern Conference, now five points up on Montreal with two games in hand.  The Ottawa Senators did the Habs a half-a-solid, defeating the seventh place New York Rangers in a shootout, 2-1 F/SO.  The Rangers are chomping at the bit of the Habs, now only two points back.  To say the Habs are burning the candle at both ends is both an understatement and a great way to get your keister parked.

 

Digits:

The Habs led the game in hits?  Really?  How? Montreal’s 25, to Boston’s 11.  I am not kidding you.  Helter-Lars-Sk-Eller led the team in the hit category with five.

Carey Price was chased from the Montreal goal for the second time in his last three starts.  I should say, the Canadiens allowed Price to get chased from the Montreal goal for the second time in his last three starts. Price was scored on five times last night on 33 shots.  CP31 finished last night’s game with a 6.74 GAA and a .848 SV%.

Biggest waste of money since Kevin Costner’s ‘Waterworld’, Scott Gomez finished up yet another pointless outing with a –1 and going 9-for-20 in the face-off circle.  Oh, and while we’re at it, he logged over 20 minutes in last night’s game, good enough for 5th on the Habs after Wiz, PK, Hamr and Gio.

Thank God the Habs are not trying to have a baby, ‘cause they’re shooting blanks.  The Habs have not scored a goal since last Sunday’s Minnesota game.  Since then, the Habs have gone just over 126 minutes without ripping the twine.

Habs Killer (literally), Lurch, I mean, Zdeno Chara, had three assists and logged just under 21 minutes last night.

Daddy’s boy, Gregory Campbell, notched 2 goals for his first multi-goal game since November 12th, 2008 when he was a member of the Florida Panthers.  He also fought Habs D-Man, Paul Mara, in the latter stages of the second period, without the use of a wrist guard.

Tim Thomas * cough * earned * cough * his eighth shutout of the season stopping all 24 shots he faced.  Credit goes out to the Bruins D-Core for forcing the Habs to shoot outside the perimeter, last night’s shutout goes to them.

There’s Always Tomorrow:

Habs return (limp) home to face the Caps at the Bell demain soir.  Washington is sans Alexander the GR8, Jason Arnott and Mike Green for their current tour of Eastern Canada.  JB.com predicts the Habs winning 1-0 in a shootout.

Have a wonderful weekend folks.  Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo

-Laters

*Note:  Dear fellow readers, I am not a heroin addict, but I play one on TV. 😉


I like Smoking Lightning; Heavy Metal Thunder in NYC: Habs Friday Edition

Well, you know what day it is:

(Warning: Strong Language and Drug Use)

Just when you thought the Habs were done like the proverbial Sunday dinner, they escaped last night’s game at the Bell Centre with the deuce in the bank account.  The Tampa Bay Lightning, still in 5th place in the Eastern Conference, salvaged the lone point following the Shootout loss.  Both teams have suffered injuries to some key players over the last while.  The Lightning, without Ryan Malone and Steve Downie, two key contributors the Lightning’s successes in the first frame of the 2010-11 are still on the mend

The Habs, obviously without Pacioretty, Plekanec and Halpern up front and sans Gill and Sopel who joined Markov, Gorges and Spacek in a bid to resurrect Motown Records and form the second coming of The Temptations 2.0 They will tour various arenas across North America soon!

Jokes aside, the rashes of injuries sustained by both teams are clearly having an impact on both teams ascension in the standings.  The Captials seem to be doing just fine without Backstrom and Arnott up-front.  But the acquisition of both Dennis Wideman and Marco Sturm have shored up the woes on the back-end, thus providing some balance for the team.

Kudos to teams like the Capitals and the Bruins for acquiring depth pieces for the long haul.  As the season winds down to a close, you can clearly see who’s healthy and who’s limping like a dog in Michael Vick’s backyard.  The Habs are clearly that mutt, but they’re still kicking, ready to fight for another day.

Last night was no different, as it was expected that the old dogs (Gomez, Gionta, Moen and Mr. 1300, Roman Hamrlik) would pick up the slack for their fallen teammates.  Aside from the captain and Mr. 1300, it was the young pups, Lars Eller and David Desharnais, who played up to their coach’s standards.

Lars Eller was a stud all over the ice, the numbers might not show it, but as many Habs scribes have pointed out, Lars played just under 19 minutes to set a career high and went 5-for-10 in the face-off circle.

The DD assisted on Andrei Kostitsyn’s second period goal, extending AK 46’s home point streak to five games (three goals, three assists in that span).  Desharnais finished the game plus-1 and played just over 18 minutes last night.

Following every game, after every save, Carey Price’s argument for the Hart Trophy for the NHL’s Most Valuable Player gets stronger and stronger.  Price, once again, had another stellar outing, stopping 35-of-37 shots and 3-out-of-4 shootout attempts to preserve the victory.  The cool, calm and collected Price improved his GAA (2.31) and SV% (.924) and ranks 1st in wins for a goaltender this year (34).

Price has been the shining light for the Canadiens all season long.  With lingering injuries and some inconsistent play by certain top-tier * cough * * cough * players (well, I shouldn’t say ‘inconsistent’ if you don’t score in 27, 28, 29 whatever games, well, you’re pretty consistent at being bad in my book) and stupid, selfish, irresponsible penalties by a former 4th overall selection, it’s no wonder Price is being heralded as the neighbourhood hero after saving the bacon.

The Habs travel to the Big Apple ce soir to take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.  The Rangers are holding on to the 7th spot in the East with 78 points.  With a win over the Habs tonight, the Rangers will be five points away from 6th.

The Habs, 3-0-0 this season against the Rangers will meet their original 6 rival for the last time this regular season.  The Rangers, coming off a 6-2 win over cross-town rival, New York Islanders on Tuesday are looking for their 3rd straight win.  Henrik Lundqvist looks like the clear-cut starter tonight.  It’s unknown whether Carey Price will get the nod; Price has started in the last eight consecutive games for the bleu, blanc et rouge.

Happy Weekend folks!  Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @JohnnyBertolo


Old School Approach to a Fresh Issue; Hockey Fans Unite: Habs & Other News

It’s been a few days since I wrote my last article, so please bear with me as I attempt to sift through the madness that is before explaining (and jumping into) the madness that is yet to come.

The Game:

In a rather boring Saturday matinée, the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Crosby and Malkin-less Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 at the Consol Energy Center.

Carey Price stopped all 26 Pittsburgh Penguins shots to earn his eighth shutout of the season, good enough for second in the league behind New York Rangers goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist (9 SO).

The Habs received goals from: Tomas Plekanec (21st, assisted by M. Cammalleri), who scored on a backhand after a miffed Marc Andre Fleury poke check, Travis Moen (4th, assisted by Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez) and Mike Cammalleri (16th, assisted by Jeff Halpern) providing Habs fans with a much needed…

Upon returning home to Montreal Saturday afternoon, the Canadiens received some much needed R&R.  The Habs had Sunday off and returned to work on Monday for practice.  It’s been an emotional roller coaster for the Habs in the last six days as they witnessed “the incident’, locked horns with former friends-turned-foes in Jaro Halak and Matt D’Agostini; finally avenging the loss of their comrade and Thursday’s game with an impressive afternoon road victory.

The Incident

Let’s be frank, last week’s events left the hockey world shaken, no question about that.  What separated this incident from any other that preceded it, is that in this instance, the incident simply will not be forgotten.  Maybe it takes a near death experience in one the sport’s ‘hotbeds’  to spark some change in a game where vigilantism seems to have superseded respect for thy fellow competitor and the scores of preventable concussions, head and neck related injuries becoming an epidemic.  But the events and discussions, which have followed, have hindered any sort of advancement on the issue and it seems, once again, the league is treading tires.

If the League Won’t do Anything…

Many Montreal Canadiens fans and others have taken to Twitter and other forms of social media to gripe alongside those who share their core values on the subject and challenge anyone who is simply brushing off the incident as ‘part of the game’, or ‘a hockey play gone awry’.

To clearly define what’s transpired since last Tuesday’s events, the event can be characterized as such:  1) A Zdeno Chara/Max Pacioretty rivalry within a Montreal/Boston rivalry perpetuated by the latter during an overtime celebration gone over-the-top back in January.

2) The incident itself, which came under heavy fire as it took place in one of the biggest hockey markets in the world.  With the lack of a suspension provided, the event turned into a ‘Montreal vs. The Hockey World’ issue.  Investigations were opened, sponsors threatened pull outs and the NHL chose to stand by their decision when it seemed like the Roman Empire was on fire.

3) The continued barrage of excuses from certain broadcasters at the (alleged) behest of some of the high ranking NHL board members who feed them their ‘scoops’ from some of the more ‘reputable’ sports TV and Radio organizations across North America, taking time at their busy schedules to tell the Montreal hockey world, ‘The Stanchion did it’, or ‘The Architect that built the Bell Centre did it.”  No NHL, YOU did it.  You did it when you chose to do nothing when it came to Mike Richards on David Booth:

YOU did it when it came to Matt Cooke’s blatant disregard of Marc Savard’s health and career:

And YOU did it again when Chara broke Pacioretty’s neck last week:

So the professional hockey world mouthpieces, in a spin doctor-ish kind of way, took the incident, flipped-it and made Pacioretty, the Habs and their fans look like guilty culprits.  Pacioretty, for (allegedly) leaving his feet at the time of the hit followed with the age old, draconian, “he should have known where he was” excuse.  The Habs and their fans for obviously caring toooooooooo much about their team and the all-around safety of the NHL players after witnessing a near fatality at centre ice.  The fact that any and all attempts to start a proper dialogue about player safety (this is still the issue, right?) is quickly brushed aside with ‘oh, it’s Montreal and they care about their hockey a little toooooooooo much’ and ‘ aren’t they the same fans who torched the city numerous times following 1st round victories in the playoffs?”

First of all, if hockey fans in Montreal didn’t care about the game of hockey a little toooooooooo much, there wouldn’t even be an NHL to piss on.  Yes, the Pacioretty incident magnified the situation, especially when others outside of Montreal cried fowl over the Sidney Crosby and Marc Savard both sustaining concussions because it was ‘part of the game’.  The hockey fans in Montreal who happened to catch those games live were just as incensed as the Penguins or Bruins fan who witnessed one of their own go down after a vicious ‘part of the game’ hit.  The reason the Chara/Pacioretty incident is getting so much press is because MORE PEOPLE WERE WATCHING…HELLO?!?!?

If the NHL didn’t piggy-back on the history and the glory of the Montreal Canadiens, the league would be scrambling for TV time against the United Football League and Curling.  That being said, it’s not that Montreal deserves any type of special treatment at the NHL level, but after being historically viewed as the bastard cousin of Canada for the last 300-or-so years and recently witnessing a grave injustice without anyone being held accountable whilst being cleaned-up like a mob hit on the  ‘The Sopranos’ you can understand where the frustration is stemming from, right?

Second, really, that’s your big comeback?  Bringing up a stupid event ad nauseum to back-up your argument whenever it seems fit.  This is grossly unfair that an entire city must bear the brunt of the whip for a select few bad apples that obviously used the Canadiens successes to further their own personal gain.

Silver Lining…

As I had mentioned many times on Twitter, ‘If everyone’s so righteous, why don’t we do something about it?” and it seems many are doing the same.  Fans have suggested the boycotting of games, refusal to buy NHL merchandise and so forth.  The suggestion that has picked up the most steam is a peaceful protest in front of the Bell Centre before Tuesday’s Montreal/Washington game.  The protest is aimed at bringing attention to severely violent hits to the head resulting in concussions and other injuries.

Granted, not everyone’s there to have a bonfire, puff on the peace pipe and sing ‘Kumbaya’.  Just like in the NHL, there are stupid people roaming the streets of Montreal looking to cause mischief.  If you are reading this post and you are heading down to Tuesday’s game and you happen to witness something mischievous happening or about to happen, please notify the authorities.  The last thing the city of Montreal needs is to draw attention for all the wrong reasons.

Etcetera

All 30 NHL General Managers are in Boca Raton, Florida to discuss a myriad of issues in regards to the NHL and how they can make more money it better.  According to the very same esteemed broadcasters, the issue of concussions and vicious shots to the head is the first item up for discussion.  So after a dozen-or-so rounds of golf, comp’d meals, drinks and orgies involving Cuban pros doing ‘snow angels’ off of each other’s ‘mountainous peaks and valleys’ (allegedly), they will finally have an opportunity to skim over the documents.

Do you want me to tell you what they’re going to say?  I’m pretty sure you know the answer as well…

So after the 30 NHL GM’s work on their tan for the next few days, the people who pay for the GM’s sun tan lotion, the one’s who truly care about the sport and safety of its players will rally at the Bell Centre; taking an old-school approach to a very fresh issue.

Hope to see you all on Tuesday.  Please follow me on twitter @JohnnyBertolo and Go Hockey Go


“BULLS%#T…Complete Utter Bulls%#t”: The Fallout

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?

Fallout

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.

The Blowhards

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


Once Again, Stupidity Prevails: Habs / Bruins Breakdown

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.

———-

In the legendary words of one Jeremy Roenick, “NHL, wake the f$%k up”.

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.

Enter Lurch…

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.

Exhibit A

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.

Exhibit B

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.

Exhibit C

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! —

Digits…

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.

Etcetera

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!


710 Reasons To Watch: Habs/Bruins Preview

Are you ready?  The Montreal Canadiens and their fans have had four weeks to recover, reminisce and reload following last months drubbing at the hands of the long-time rival, Boston Bruins.

182 penalty minutes, scores of fights, trails of blood, no control, no sanity and simply no way out.  Last month’s Montreal Canadiens were clearly in over their head as they battled a Boston Bruins team undoubtedly looking to send a message, using their fists rather than their scoring touch.  Doubt can be sown in a game like that and the fear that is cultivated could very well unravel a team’s psyche down the stretch.

8-6 was the final score, if my memory serves me correctly.  Flash forward a month, the present-day Montreal Canadiens are carrying themselves with the right attitude as of late, feigning amnesia when questions arise pertaining to the last MTL/BOS meeting.

And rightfully so.  The Canadiens have much to be proud of lately, winners of four straight games, a successful showing on the road in the Southern US belt, securely in 6th place in the Eastern Conference standings with time to move up, and the solidification of Carey Price as one of the premier goaltenders in the league.

Yup, all the good and the bad will culminate ce soir at the Bell where the Habs and B’s will tangle in game number 710 in their illustrious history.  We shall certainly see if the February 9th, ‘Slapshot:  The Broadway Musical’ stage debut is a distant memory for le bleu, blanc et rouge, or if tonight’s game will reinforce some of the negative points made about team toughness and physicality.

Leading Down a Garden Path?

Jacques Martin may be receiving praise from some local writers who are currently out of favour with the Montreal populace, but we know we’re just a little wiser when it comes to praising the head coach.  JM’s system is still lacking in many areas, like, I don’t know, securing a lead without giving your fans pains in their chest on the regular, and having your star goalie bail you out more times than the patriarch of the Kennedy family?  I will credit Martin for this; JM’s Montreal Canadiens have started the previous four games with some fire, scoring seven 1st period goals in that span.  What perplexes yours truly is the Canadiens’ inability to display pressure throughout three consecutive 20-minute periods, the constant barrage of lazy penalties (holding, hooking, delay of game, too many men on the ice, etc.) taken in the latter stages of periods, and the laughable description of the team philosophy.  Martin has stated numerous times that the Canadiens are a puck-possession team who pride themselves on a strong defensive core and great goaltending.  Minus the goaltending part, under Martin’s guise, more times than not, they never have the puck and  the play is regularly in the Canadiens zone, as the D-Core and Price must continue to thwart over 30-shots a game on the regular.  *News Flash* Jacques, if you want great defence, wouldn’t a strong, accomplished offence capable of keeping the puck in the opposition’s zone, ultimately reducing the shots and scoring chances for the other team result in a more successful defence?  I don’t know, I just write, right?

Digits…

Speaking of stopping over 30 shots on the regular…Carey Price has been en fuego as of late, stopping 113-of-116 shots in his last three games and being named one of the NHL’s 3 Stars of the Week.  Despite his last outing versus the Bruins , during which he let up all eight goals on 34 shots, Price boats a very good record against his Northeast division counterpart.  In 17 career games against the B’s, Price has 12 wins, a 2.64 GAA with a .916 SV%.  If the Habs want to stay competitive against the Bruins, Price’s numbers tonight must mirror or surpass his career numbers.

The reincarnation of Paul Coffee, Hal Gill, will be looking to score in his third straight game.  The Habs’ newest sniper has opened the scoring in Montreal’s last two contests against Florida and Tampa respectively.  Gill has been credited with teaching PK Subban the professional ropes, I wonder if the elder Gill is learning some new tricks of his own from his young apprentice?

Andrei Kostitsyn’s currently on a six-game point streak with three goals and five assists in that span.  His linemate Yortuk, I mean George, I mean Lars Eller has provided Montreal’s 2003 1st round selection with some nifty set-ups and AK 46 has returned the favour.

Everyone’s favourite little guy, David Desharnais, is on a three-game point streak (two goals, one assist) and is certainly making the most of the limited time he’s received.

Finally, Max Pacioretty, product out of New Haven Connecticut, is giving Montreal fans a glimpse of what he will look like when he’s riding his prime.  MaxPac has breathed some life into the $8-million-dollar-per-year carcass known as Scott Gomez,  finding his groove alongside the Captain, Brian Gionta.  In his last three games, the Pac Man (TM pending) has three goals, one assist and his plus-five.  In three games against the Bruins this year, Pacioretty has notched four goals and added two assists.

The Killer B’s

Carey’s opposite, Tim Thomas, is another Eastern Conference goaltender enjoying a great season.  The Toolman is 29-8-7 this year with a 1.97 GAA and a .939 SV%.  But the Canadiens continue to be Thomas’ Kryptonite to his Superman, as the Bruins netminder has only nine career wins in 27 games with a staggering 3.16 GAA and .904 SV%.

Hab killer, Milan Lucic, continues to steamroll the competition with his stellar physical play, especially in front of the opposition’s goal.  Lucic has five goals and six assists in his last eight and was a tour de force against the Canadiens in their last outing, scoring two goals, an assist and finishing the game plus- five.

Prior to Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Bruins were enjoying themselves a seven-game winning streak.  With the win or an overtime/shootout loss tonight, the Bruins will have attained points in nine straight games.

Etcetera…
Tonight’s game commences at 7:30 PM EST, as previously mentioned, this is historical meeting number 710 between these two esteemed institutions.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo

Enjoy!

 


Cold as Pr-ice: Habs Ride the Lightning to Victory

The mobile, agile, hostile Carey Price was up to the task yet again stopping 43 of 45 shots en route to a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday.  The Habs wrapped up an impressive three-game road trip going undefeated in that span and surrendering only three goals.

The Canadiens are currently riding a four game winning streak and are undefeated in the month of March.  Last night’s victory was the Habs’ first over Tampa Bay this season.  The Canadiens sit securely in sixth place with a seven-point cushion over seventh place New York Rangers, and only one point back of fifth place Washington.  The Habs are certainly moving up the food chain.

The same can’t be said about the Southeast leading Lightning as they have dropped their third straight game and are only one point ahead of Southeast division rival Washington Capitals.  Key injuries to Steve Downie and Ryan Malone have certainly set this team back.  Maurice Richard Trophy leading candidate, Steven Stamkos, has only one goal in his last 11 games and with little time remaining, Guy Boucher and the rest of his Lightning team will have to figure something out before they lose home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

Most if not all of the credit for last night’s triumph has to go to the Habs netminder, Carey Price.  The man who was anointed ‘King of the Island’ before he was fully prepared to sit on his throne, has definitely come into his own after a shaky start to his career, health issues and rumoured tales of lewd behaviour.

The 23-year old Price is having one of those “comeback, feel-good story of the year” seasons and it couldn’t have happened at a more important time.  Especially when this team truly needs him to be the “Thoroughbred” that Bob Gainey predicted.  The boos have ceased, the cheers are rolling in, and confidence has been restored in the Habs goal.

Hit List:

The Habs opened the scoring when (cue lights, camera annnnnnnnd ACTION)…

A View to a Gill 2

That’s right, the guy who hadn’t scored in over a year and a half is putting on his best Al Iafrate impersonation as of late, notching his second goal of the season, from the point, to open the scoring for the second-straight game. Alas, if he continues this scorching pace, one would think the power of negotiation would favour Gill when he becomes a UFA come July 1st.

The Double-D, the Little Engine that Could, the Road Warrior himself, David Desharnais, continues to rack up the points for Montreal, scoring his eighth goal of the season.  In twelve road games this season, Desharnais has six goals and four assists and has netted at least one point in his last four road games.  Desharnais’ goal was set-up by Andrei Kostitsyn for his 21st assist of the season and has now registered a point in six straight games.

Max Pacioretty is turning into the player the Canadiens have so tirelessly sought after for so many years, a skilled power forward.  Parking his big butt at the Tampa goal during Steven Stamkos’  hooking penalty midway through the second period and picking up the garbage goal brought a tear to Shayne Corson’s eye.  Now if MaxPac can do that every game for the next 20-or-so years,I think the Habs will be fine.

Oh yeah, he can shoot too…

Max Pac’s 2nd goal off of a Tampa turnover, assisted by Scott Gomez of all people, showed how lethal this kid’s going to be.  A perfect one-time snap-shot froze veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson and the Habs had their fourth and final goal.

After coasting through the rest of the third period, Carey Price came up with a huge poke-check on a wide-open Steven Stamkos during a 5-on-3 penalty kill, surrendered one final goal to Vincent Lecavalier a few minutes later and celebrated victory on St. Pete Times Forum ice after the horn rang out to signal the end of the game.

Wrapping up the best Spring Break ever, the Habs return home to some much needed (and deserved) R&R.  Practice tomorrow followed by a date with the B’s on Tuesday.

Leave comments and follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo.


Time to Grease the Lightning: Habs/Bolts Preview

The Montreal Canadiens are looking to wrap up the greatest Spring Break ever with a bonfire win over the Southeast-division leading TB Lightning ce soir.  As per usual, Saturday night’s start time is at 7:00 PM EST (8:30 PM CT).  Fresh off his seventh shutout of the season, Carey Price, will undoubtedly get the start in goal for le bleu, blanc et rouge.

Spring Break Memories for the family…

Hey Ma,

It’s Carey writing to you from sunny Florida.  I’m having fun; today I’m going to play the Lightning.  I don’t like them very much; the last time I played TB was back on December 30th, 2010.  We not only lost the game 4-1, but it was made official that we lost one of my BFF’s, Josh Gorges, for the remainder of the season with a  messed up MCL in his knee.

Oh well, I think I’m having more fun on this trip than my Christmas trip.  Mommy look, in my last two games, I’ve only allowed one goal, on 71 shots with a .988 SV% against Atlanta and Florida.  You can see my stats on my FB wall!

Got to run, PK’s trying to ‘antique’ me.

Love you!

Carey

Well wasn’t that sweet?  Back to the stats, Carey Price is winless versus the Lightning this year and in all truthfulness, hasn’t faired entirely well against Vinny and Co throughout his short career.  Price has a less-than-stellar 3-4-2 record against the Bolts lifetime.  Alas, there is a silver lining, Price has been off-the-charts amazing this year on Saturday’s, boasting a 11-2-1 record with a 1.56 GAA and 4 shutouts this season.  Yup, the kid was born to play for Montreal.  Saturday night’s all right indeed…

Brother Andrei and Helter Sk-Eller will look to be the X-Factors on offence once again.  AK is looking to make it six straight games that he registers at least one point and Lars Eller will be looking for him.  These two wild and crazy guys are starting to carve their own niche on this team.  A few weeks prior to this road trip it looked as if ‘George’ and ‘Yortuk’ would be bussed out-of town; one going to Hamilton, the other going to Parts Unknown.  Now that these guys are working like a tandem, there is nothing they can’t achieve together…

Jacques Martin, the bane of my existence, was quoted yesterday saying his team must approach this game as a playoff game.  Dummy, I wrote that yesterday.  If the playoffs would start today, the Habs would be playing… wait for it…wait for it, The Tamp Bay freaking Lightning!  Hello?!?!?!  Of course the Habs need to approach this game like a playoff game, THE PLAYOFFS ARE ONE MONTH AWAY!  And the last time I checked, the bottom-feeders (Buffalo, Toronto, Atlanta and even freaking New Jersey) can still make it.

Details, details…

Tampa Bay needs this win, bad.  The Bolts have dropped their last two games and are currently 3rd place in the Eastern standings after surrendering 2nd place to the Boston Bruins two days earlier.  A convincing win at home over a hot team like Montreal will definitely send a message throughout the ranks.  The NHL’s leading scorer (41 goals) and 2nd in total points (78 pts), Steven Stamkos will be looking to surpass Vancouver Canuck’s forward, Daniel Sedin, in the race for the Art Ross Trophy.

Tampa Bay will go with ‘Rollie the Goalie’, Dwayne Roloson, as its starting netminder tonight.  In 20 games with the Lightning this year, Roloson has a 12-7-2 record with 4 shutouts and a 2.63 GAA.  In 11 career games against the Canadiens, Rollie is 4-4-2 with 1 tie.

Spring Break concludes this evening for the Habs.  Montreal will return home and prepare for Tuesday’s tilt against…the Boston Bruins.

17 games remaining, check me…


A View to a Gill: Habs win 3rd straight

Happy Friday y’all, the sun’s shining, my coffee tastes awesome, the weather…still sucks but whatever, right?  Hal Gill scored a freaking goal!  It was his first goal since December 31st 2009 against the very same Florida Panthers, in the same arena.  Gill’s goal, 5 minutes into the 1st period, would prove to be the game-winner.  If that doesn’t give your team a jump, I don’t know what will?  I petition for Hal Gill to receive the Molson Cup for March simply on principle and because I’m tired of seeing that Carey guy get all the accolades, he he.

The Habs’ Alternate Captain notched his 1st goal of the season and would prove to be the game winner as the Canadiens thoroughly licked the Panthers clean with a 4-0 victory at the Bell centre, I mean, Maurice Richard Arena, I mean Bank Atlantic Centre, uh, more coffee please…

Back to the reigning Molson Cup winner…

Carey Price earned the shutout he should have received in Atlanta if it wasn’t for the Habs’ poor defensive play in the latter stages of Tuesday’s game.  The Price Man stopped all 24 shots he faced earning his seventh shutout of the season and improved his season record to 30-21-6 with a 2.34 GAA and .922 SV%.

Don’t want to point fingers but…

Suddenly, Andrei Kostitsyn is doing his best “I was selected in the 1st round” impersonation, notching yet another goal and assist last night stretching his point streak to five games.  AK’s rocket –slapper surely scorched Tomas Vokoun’s eyebrows as the veteran netminder was chased from the Panthers’ goal after allowing two goals on three shots.

Lars “Helter Sk-Eller” mirrored AK’s numbers last night, scoring a goal, an assist and being a beast in the face-off circle going 8-for-13.   The Little Engine that Could, David Desharnais, continues to be a nightmare for opposing home teams, a road warrior if you will.  Double-D scored probably the easiest goal of his career, giving the Habs a three goal lead.

(To sum up last night’s game, here is an old Looney Tunes cartoon entitled, “Three for Two”.  The Role of the Montreal Canadiens will be played by Chester the Dog, Sylvester the Cat will play the part of the Florida Panthers, and Spike the Dog is there too!)

The real test in this Southeast road trip will come Saturday night as the Habs square-off against the SE division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.  The Bolts are winless in the month of March dropping two back-to-back 2-1 losses to the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins respectively.   The Lightning are currently 3rd place in the Conference, switching spots with the Northeast division leading Boston Bruins following last night’s loss.

Saturday’s Montreal/Tampa Bay tilt may be a Stanley Cup playoff round 1 preview so you can clearly see the importance of the Habs’ next game, a measuring stick game if you will.  More info in tomorrow’s preview.

Etcetera…

…and because it’s Friday, here’s some Zakk Wylde and his band ‘Black Label Society’ to get your mojo working this weekend!

Thanks again folks.  New Habs blog will be posted tomorrow with a TB/MTL preview and much more weekend goodies.  Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo and please leave comments at the end of the post.

17 games remaining, check me…


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: NHL Trade Deadline

Get ready to call in sick from work or school and cuddle-up next to your 51’ HDTV screen; the NHL Trade Deadline is literally right around the corner, mere hours away from Monday’s 3:00 P.M. EST deadline.

Over the last few years, the National Hockey League, along with many media outlets (mostly Canadian, what am I saying, ‘mostly’, ha ha) have taken the last day of roster transactions and turned it into a daylong, media frenzy event chopped full of analysis, predictions, interviews and trade breakdowns as early as 8:00 A.M.  A perfect recipe for any hockey-crazed fanatic!

For all of you pseudo general managers out there, tapped into the Twitter-verse, trying to dissect every minute thought detail from your team’s GM, well then, you’re in for a treat; because this year’s trade deadline is shaping up to be better than 10 EA Sports NHL-whatevers (I don’t want to overshoot it, just playing it safe).

For those of you on the other side of the spectrum, I can sense your scepticism…

Since February the 9th, there have been 18 trades involving 49 players, 19 draft picks and 2 future considerations.  Some notable trades include:

February 9th, 2011:  Anaheim Ducks acquire D Francois Beauchemain from the Toronto Maple Leafs for RW Joffrey Lupul and D Jake Gardiner.

February 14th, 2011:  Philadelphia Flyers acquire RW Kris Versteeg from the Toronto Maple Leafs for 2011 1st and 3rd round draft picks.

February 18th, 2011:  Boston Bruins acquire C Rich Peverley and D Boris Valabik from the Atlanta Thrashers for C Blake Wheeler and D Brad Stuart.

February 18th, 2011:  Boston Bruins acquire D Tomas Kaberle from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2011 1st round draft pick, a conditional 2012 2nd round draft pick and C Joe Colborne.

February 19th, 2011:  St. Louis Blues acquire F Chris Stewart, D Kevin Shattenkirk and a 2011 or 2012 2nd round draft pick from the Colorado Avalanche for D Erik Johnson, F Jay McClement and 2011 or 2012 1st round draft pick.

February 21st, 2011:  Pittsburgh Penguins acquire LW James Neal and D Matt Niskanen from the Dallas Stars for D Alex Goligoski.

February 24th, 2011:  Pittsburgh Penguins acquire F Alex Kovalev from the Ottawa Senators for a Conditional 7th round draft pick.

February 24th, 2011:  Montreal Canadiens acquire D Brent Sopel and F Nigel Dawes from the Atlanta Thrashers for C Ben Maxwell and a 2011 4th round draft pick.

February 26th, 2011:  The New York Rangers acquired D Bryan McCabe from the Florida Panthers for F Tim Kennedy and a 2011 3rd round draft pick.

The Toronto Maple Leafs may have grabbed the bulk of the headlines leading into Monday’s 3:00 P.M. trade deadline.  According to Maple Leafs general manager, Brian Burke, Toronto’s far from finished with the wheelings-and-dealings.  Burke indicated last week following the Kaberle trade to Boston, that the team might have to part ways with breakout stud and team points leader, Clarke MacArthur, if a new deal is not signed before Monday’s deadline.  The recently married MacArthur is looking for a hefty pay raise from the $1.1 million dollars he’s making this year to something around the vicinity of a $2.8 million dollar per year, 3 year contract.

The Maple Leafs GM has also admitted that the team may be looking for a top-5 defenceman.  Colorado Avalanche D John-Michael Liles name has surfaced.  Liles automatically became expendable following the Avalanche’s recent acquisition of D Erik Johnson from the St. Louis Blues.

Other players generating interest:

C Brad Richards, Dallas Stars

Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk has openly admitted to exploring interest for centre Brad Richards. Richards, who will become a free agent on July 1st, is currently dealing with concussion symptoms since mid-February and is slated to resume skating in the near future.  This puts GM Joe Nieuwendyk in a serious bind.  He would like to keep Richards in the Stars’ system, but with ownership uncertainty and now with Richards’ health issues, it may be difficult to move the 30 year-old native of Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island.   This year, Richards is the team leader in points (63) and second in goals (24).  He won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004 and was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as Playoff MVP that year.  The New York Rangers are one of the many teams still interested in Richards.

D Chris Philips, Ottawa Senators

One of Ottawa’s last remaining superstars from their improbable playoff run of 2007 may be out the door in the next few hours, if he waives his no-trade clause.  Chris Phillips has confirmed multiple times that he wants to remain an Ottawa Senator and aide in the Senators’ rebuilding process.  After the Montreal Canadiens acquired Brent Sopel via trade with Atlanta Thursday, GM Bryan Murray opened contract discussions with his veteran defenceman, essentially confirming reports that the Habs were courting Phillips. It may be slim pickings for Ottawa GM Bryan Murray, if Phillips balks and Murray’s recent contract proposal.  First he must coerce Phillips into waving his no-trade clause to green light a trade to a team of his choosing.  Second, Murray has the unenviable task of selling the 13-year NHL veteran, whose statistical numbers have taken a huge fall this year (1 goal, 4 assists and –25), to a GM willing to take the chance on him.

(*UPDATE* 12:50 pm.  According to Renaud Lavoie of RDS via twitter (@renhockey): ” #canadiens ne sont plus dans la course pour Chris Phillips. Filip Kuba et Chris Campoli sont sur le marché et pourraient quitter Ottawa.” En: “#habs are out of the chase for Chris Phillips. #senators wants to trade Filip Kuba and Chris Campoli before 3pm Monday.)

*Note: other rumoured Ottawa Senators landing in new area codes by Monday include F Chris Neil (3 goals 157 PIM). Neil is currently nursing a lower body injury and is listed as day-to-day. C Jason Spezza (12 goals, 20 assists)

G Tomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers

The Panthers have already started dumping salary, sending D Bryan McCabe packing for New York and trading Cory Stillman to the Hurricanes on Friday. The 34 year-old native of the Czech Republic, Vokoun, is set to become a UFA this summer and has generated some interest from teams looking for goaltender depth on the eve of the playoffs.  Vokoun’s expiring contract comes in at a very affordable cap-hit of $1.5 million dollars for the remainder of the year.  The Philadelphia Flyers are highly rumoured to make a play for Vokoun.  The Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche are also in the mix.*Note: other rumoured Florida Panthers on the move include C Stephen Weiss (16 goals, 24 assists, -10).

F Dustin Penner, Edmonton Oilers

Oilers power forward Dustin Penner, a 2007 Stanley Cup champion with the Anaheim Ducks, has generated all sorts of interest following this month’s flurry of trades.  Teams looking for much needed size and grit may look no further than Penner.  The 6’4 Winkler, Manitoba native might be packing in order to make way for the youth movement in Edmonton.  The 28 year-old has netted 21 goals and 19 assists for an –13 rating.  Albeit, the Edmonton Oilers are statistically the worst team in the league as of this date, with many unproven, raw rookies currently occupying roster spots on the team.  A fresh start in a new area code is what Penner needs.  The Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild and Montreal Canadiens are some of the teams rumoured in the mix to land Penner by Monday’s deadline.

F Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers

Another big name Oiler may find a new home in less than 24 hours. Many teams have their eye on the 27 year-old Hemsky if Brad Richards is out of play.  The Los Angeles Kings are heavy front-runners to land Hemsky. The Oilers have let it be known that Hemsky will cost them C Brayden Schenn and maybe a little extra.  The Phoenix Coyotes are the dark horse team in this scenario.  Whispers out of Arizona would suggest C Kyle Turris going to Alberta in exchange for Hemsky.

There are a plethora of many talented players currently rumoured in the trade deadline frenzy forums such as Florida Panthers Forward David Booth.  Utility players like Atlanta Thrashers F Anthony Stewart, Los Angeles Kings F Wayne Simmonds, and New Jersey Devils F Jason Arnott.  As well as Los Angeles Kings G Jonathan Bernier, will generate a lot of interest for teams looking for specialty depth, sandpaper/grit/toughness/intestinal fortitude, or depth in the crease.

So many players, so very few hours remain.  Hopefully, hockey fans around North America are warming up their TV’s, chilling their spirited beverages and already making plans to call the boss and/or principal.  This year’s trade deadline is expected to be a treat and will require your undivided attention.

1 day until trade deadline, check me…


Habs look to ‘KO’ the Leafs: Meeting #707

…and here we are again, barely two weeks have gone by since their  last meeting and both teams are set (once again) to renew close to a century of hostilities.  The Toronto Maple Leafs (26-27-7) and Montreal Canadiens (33-22-7) will play game numer 707 before the Bell Centre faithful tonight.

The Habs, coming off a much needed victory over the Vancouver Canucks  in their last of a 3-game western road trip, return home to host Toronto for the last time this season.  Montreal sits comfortably in the 6th place in the Eastern Conference with 71-points while Toronto is on the outside looking in, 11th place in the conferance, 6-points out of a playoff spot.

Instead of boring you with the mundane details watch this video which perfectly describes the mutual hatred that Canadiens fans and Maple leafs fans share (when the rivalry mattered).

Without further adieu, here is “The Hockey Sweater”, known in French as “Le Chandail Hockey”, 1979:

——-

Not done reading?  Here’s an excerpt from my previous Montreal/Toronto  preview piece.  I argue that the MON/TOR rivalry has lacked over the last 30-or-so years and I have the numbers to prove it!  Take a look:

Posted February 12th, 2010:

Rivalry Shmivalry: Habs vs. Leafs (again.)

…the Canadiens/Maple Leafs rivalry has provided fans with little substance over the last 3 decades.  Other than the shared hatred that Montreal and Toronto fans have for each other, we can officially blow the whistle on this perennial meeting of the juggernauts.

The on-ice product between these two teams has lacked for the last while, whether it was the Canadiens of the 80’s or the current roster reigning terror on Toronto, or vice-versa with the Maple Leafs of the late 90’s, early 2000’s.  I am hopeful the rivalry will re-ignite itself once Toronto ices a competitive team (hopefully) in the next few years.

When was the last time the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs locked horns in the playoffs?  1979.  The Maple Leafs were a mere stepping stone for the Canadiens on their way to a 22nd Stanley Cup as they handily defeated Toronto in 4-straight games.

Since the 79 final, the Canadiens have faced the Boston Bruins 14 times (84-92, 94, 02, 04, 08-09), the Buffalo Sabres 5 times (83, 90-91, 93, 98), the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes 6 times (80, 88-89, 92, 02, 06) and the Philadelphia Flyers 4 times (87, 89, 08, 10).  Heck, the Habs even played the Calgary Flames twice (86, 89) and they’re playing in this year’s Heritage Classic.

When not missing the playoffs 14 times out of the last 32 years, the Maple Leafs have faced the St. Louis Blues 5 times (86-87, 90, 93, 96), the Ottawa Senators 4 times (00-02, 04), the Philadelphia Flyers 3 times (99, 03-04).

Some 32 years later and the closest these two institutions came to facing each other in the playoffs was back in 1993 when the Maple Leafs were one game shy of joining Montreal in an all-Canadian Stanley Cup Final.  The first all-Can final since Montreal/Calgary ’89.  On the 100th Anniversary of the Stanley Cup, just to twist the sword.

The one little thing keeping this cross-province rivalry alive is, in retrospect, not so little after all.  It’s you, the fans, who keep this rivalry alive.  It’s the age-old rivalry between Good and Evil, English and French, Kahn and Kirk, Cats and Dogs.

It’s the same story, right?  Toronto, with their Leaf Nation convoy roll into town, trade annoying barbs with the local Montreal populous on Crescent St. decked out in their retro circa 1998-2003 Domi, Sundin, Roberts and Joseph jerseys.  Blindly championing Brian Burke as he wheels-and-deals himself out of a jam.  Having the audacity to remotely suggest that the Maple Leafs will turn Phil Kessel into the next Wendal Clark, drinking that swill of an excuse they call for a beer “Molson Canadian”, mumbling and stumbling their way down into hockey’s Mecca, hoping to catch a whiff of success; like a coke-addict to an 8-ball, or a Dutch-oven to an unsuspecting girlfriend.

——

Puck drops at 7:30 PM

4 days until trade deadline, check me…


Guess Who’s Back? Back Again…(Habs re-acquire Mara, Oilers Preview)

From thehockeynews.com

“The Philadelphia Flyers announce the acquisition of Forward Kris Versteeg from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 1st and a 3rd round draft picks…”

“The Boston Bruins announce the acquisition of Centre Chris Kelly from the Ottawa Senators for a 2nd round drat pick…”

“The Canadiens re-acquire Paul Mara from the Anaheim Ducks for a 2012 5th round draft pick…”

Notice a pattern here?

While the rest of the Eastern Conference juggernauts are purchasing some serious performance enhancers for the playoff long haul, the Habs are buying tampons simply to curb the bleeding.

There’s not enough cotton in the world to absorb the Habs’ injury woes on defence, so instead of getting pro-active, the Habs decide to travel down the same road and acquire someone simply for convenience.  The devil you know versus the devil you don’t.  It’s time for Montreal Canadiens General Manager, Pierre Gauthier to pull the string (hehe) on a serious trade that will improve the team for the latter stages of the 2011 season and beyond.  Stop with the band-aids and pick up some cement, for crying out loud!

From fusedfilm.comIn Mara (once again), the Habs have found their auxiliary option on the D-Line while Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill are on the mend, recovering from their boo-boos.  The 6 foot 4 former first round draft choice, Mara, returns to the Habs playing 33 games for the Ducks this season, collecting 2-points and a –1 rating.  And if the Mara experiment fails in Montreal (again), he still is the spitting image of Zach Galifianakis.

Business…

Yee-Haw, saddle up partners, the Habs are on the move.  It’s an old time Western showdown tonight between the team of the 80’s and the team of the 20th Century.  So tuck the youngens into bed early, kiss the dame one last time, ’cause you’re parking your Kaboose right in front of that there HD television screen and not movin’ till morn, right?  Alrighty.

Here’s my prediction for tonight’s game (the role of the ‘Montreal Canadiens’ will be played by the very esteemed Gene Hackman.)

Showdown’s at 9:00 PM/EST, the struggling Oilers are 2-6-0 in the month of February and currently hold the worst record in the NHL (17-32-8).

Forward Dustin Penner leads the Edmonton Oilers in goals (20) and points (36) this season.  The former Anaheim Duck is looking to elevate his game tonight and hopefully get his behind traded out of town.

The Kardiac Kids will hope to continue their hot streaks.  Max Pacioretty is on a 5-game point streak and is looking to make it 6.  David Desharnais has been playing like a top-2 NHL centre, so hopefully his stellar play will reward him more ice time.  PK Subban is PK Subban.  ‘Nuff said.  Finally, greatest goalie in the world ever, bringer of rain, Slayer of Theocles, the People’s Champ, Carey Price, will undoubtedly get the start.

Enjoy my all-time favourite Bugs Bunny clip…

Ciao for now.


What the Hecht? Habs get Buffaloed

One would expect to celebrate a Habs victory going up 2 goals after playing 1 and 4/5th periods against a rookie goaltender in the biggest hockey market in the world, right?  Wrong.  Buffalo goaltender Jhonas Enroth, filling in for Ryan Miller after starting 31 straight games, helped bail out his team last night at the Phone Booth.  Enroth made 32 saves out of 34 shots while stopping 8-out-of-10 in the shootout and Buffalo forward Jochen Hecht scored the winner to secure a 3-2 F/SO victory for the Sabres.

Whether it was Enroth’s heroics, or the Habs and Jacques Martin’s inability to execute an ‘American History X’ curb- stomp to the face of their opponents, the Canadiens are once again scrounging for leftovers.

After surrendering 18 shots and only one goal in the 1st period, Lindy Ruff’s Sabres came back to life in the latter stages of the 2nd.  Goals by the ‘Human Torch’, Drew Stafford (24th of the season) and Jason Pominville helped rally Buffalo from behind.  After stifling Montreal’s futile power play in overtime, the Sabres forced 10 rounds in the shootout after going down 2 goals and made off with 2 points from the cookie jar.

Good news, the Habs came away with one point (I know, you feel like punching your computer screen right now, I feel like punching myself for attempting to look at the positives), the Kardiac Kids: Max Pacioretty (1 goal) PK Subban (+1, 29:22 ice time) and David Desharnais (1 assist, +1) are taking starring roles on the bleu, blanc, et rouge and, most importantly, guys like Cammalleri, Gill and Spacek will be back soon from their respective bumps and bruises.

Here comes the Bad News:  So the Habs had a shot to leapfrog over the Bruins and claim top-spot in the Northeast.  So they had the lead.  So the Canadiens squandered it.  Same TV show folks, I’ve seen this episode before.

Everyone’s favourite de facto 2nd line centre, Scott Gomez, is making a strong case for THE worst $8-million-dollar-plus-salaried professional athlete in the history of the Universe.  Gomez finished last night’s game –1 with 3 shots on goal and 50% in the face-off circle.  Need I say more?  His partner in crime, Robin, er, I mean, Andrei Kostitsyn finished the game –1 with one shot.  Please get Immigration Canada on the phone!  #deportgomez  #deportkostitsyn

Eastern Standings:

Habs are tied with Boston with 69-points, the Bruins have the edge since they have 1-game in hand over the Habs.  The Sabres are breathing down the neck of the Hurricanes.  Last night’s win puts them 2-points behind Carolina for the last playoff spot.

ROAD TRIP!!!

Get your Cowboy Hats ready; the Habs are heading west!  First stop, Rexall place to face the NHL’s team of the 80’s, the Edmonton Oilers (17-32-8).  Yes, the Oilers are statistically the worst team in the league, but that hasn’t stopped the Habs from giving up leads to weaker opponents.  Just saying.

Then it’s off to Calgary for the Heritage Classic, followed by a stop in Vancouver next Tuesday.

Enjoy the week folks!


Rivalry Shmivalry: Habs vs. Leafs (again.)

Here we go again, Canada’s most storied (and exaggerated) rivalry will add page number 706 to its increasingly irrelevant book.  The Montreal Canadiens, who are currently mired in a 3-game losing streak, will host Joffrey Lupul and the rest of the Toronto Maple Leafs @ the Bell Centre stasera. No doubt, both teams are looking to redeem themselves following extra frame losses on Thursday.

I don’t know when it happened, but I’ve grown progressively more, shall we say, “annoyed” with this particular cross-province rivalry.

The Montreal/Ottawa “rivalry” is laughable at best.

But seriously, the Canadiens/Maple Leafs rivalry has provided fans with little substance over the last 3 decades.  Other than the shared hatred that Montreal and Toronto fans have for each other, we can officially blow the whistle on this perennial meeting of the juggernauts.

The on-ice product between these two teams has lacked for the last while, whether it was the Canadiens of the 80’s or the current roster reigning terror on Toronto, or vice-versa with the Maple Leafs of the late 90’s, early 2000’s.  I am hopeful the rivalry will re-ignite itself once Toronto ices a competitive team (hopefully) in the next few years.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with Team 990’s Mitch Melnick over a couple pints of “spirited beverages” at a reputable downtown watering hole some while ago.  Ok, I don’t remember the conversation verbatim, but we were discussing the relevance of rivalries in today’s modern game and how each stacked up.  During the discussion, I bring up the TOR/MTL rivalry – he completely shot down that notion.  Confused (or in a haze) I wondered why? The reason?  Simple.  What’s the one thing that makes a rivalry truly special?  Playoffs.

When was the last time the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs locked horns in the playoffs?  1979.  The Maple Leafs were a mere stepping stone for the Canadiens on their way to a 22nd Stanley Cup as they handily defeated Toronto in 4-straight games.

Since the 79 final, the Canadiens have faced the Boston Bruins 14 times (84-92, 94, 02, 04, 08-09), the Buffalo Sabres 5 times (83, 90-91, 93, 98), the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes 6 times (80, 88-89, 92, 02, 06) and the Philadelphia Flyers 4 times (87, 89, 08, 10).  Heck, the Habs even played the Calgary Flames twice (86, 89) and they’re playing in this year’s Heritage Classic.

When not missing the playoffs 14 times out of the last 32 years, the Maple Leafs have faced the St. Louis Blues 5 times (86-87, 90, 93, 96), the Ottawa Senators 4 times (00-02, 04), the Philadelphia Flyers 3 times (99, 03-04).

Some 32 years later and the closest these two institutions came to facing each other in the playoffs was back in 1993 when the Maple Leafs were one game shy of joining Montreal in an all-Canadian Stanley Cup Final.  The first all-Can final since Montreal/Calgary ’89.  On the 100th Anniversary of the Stanley Cup, just to twist the sword.

The one little thing keeping this cross-province rivalry alive is, in retrospect, not so little after all.  It’s you, the fans, who keep this rivalry alive.  It’s the age-old rivalry between Good and Evil, English and French, Kahn and Kirk, Cats and Dogs.

It’s the same story, right?  Toronto, with their Leaf Nation convoy roll into town, trade annoying barbs with the local Montreal populous on Crescent St. decked out in their retro circa 1998-2003 Domi, Sundin, Roberts and Joseph jerseys.  Blindly championing Brian Burke as he wheels-and-deals himself out of a jam.  Having the audacity to remotely suggest that the Maple Leafs will turn Phil Kessel into the next Wendal Clark, drinking that swill of an excuse they call for a beer “Molson Canadian”, mumbling and stumbling their way down into hockey’s Mecca, hoping to catch a whiff of success; like a coke-addict to an 8-ball, or a Dutch-oven to an unsuspecting girlfriend.

BREAKDOWN:

The Habs need to teach the dog, in other words, they must out-skate, out-manoeuvre, out-think and pretty much out-class their divisional opponent in every statistical category.  The Canadiens have been knocked around this past week and nothing puts you in a great mood like beating the crap out of a futile opponent.  Looks like Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the start for the Leafs.  He may brag about his 7-2-1-career record against Montreal, but he’s 2-4 on the road this year.

No word on whether we’ll see Hal Gill or Mathieu Darche in the line-up.  Though, I’m pretty sure Ryan White’s good to go.  Crossing my fingers for a Grabovski/Kostitsyn battle royal, duel to the death.  Maybe that will jump-start Kostitsyn’s engine, just in time to drive out of Montreal into the sunset.

Greatest goalie in the world ever (and prompt taxpayer), Carey Price is a lock to start,

Game starts at 7:00 PM.


Licking their Wounds: Habs Limp Home

Well, that was “entertaining”, right?  Is that the right word?  Combined 14 goals, 182 penalty minutes, a goalie fight (sort of).  If you’re a Boston Bruins fan then of course it was, you dummy!  Resurrecting The Beantown Brawlers, giving Mike Milbury that “funny feeling” from his cozy NESN booth (yes, I watched the 1st period on NESN, you want to talk about biased?), and most importantly, distancing themselves further from the Habs in the standings by winning one of those special “4-point” games.

For the bleu, blanc, et rouge, last night’s game was an eye-opener.  Despite their resiliency, they’re unrelenting never-say-die attitude was admirable to watch, but simply not enough to surpass the B’s.  With the win, Boston holds firm to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, leaving the Habs still searching for answers.

8-6?  Really?

It wouldn’t be much of a rivalry if the Bruins didn’t win every once in awhile; Boston showed some serious intestinal and testicular fortitude in this game.  Walloping the Habs with every chance they got, earning every goal, hitting every body, punching every face.

Was it pretty?  Of course it wasn’t.  It was downright nasty.  At some points it looked less like a hockey game and more like an audition for Slapshot: The Broadway Musical.   For some of our older fans watching Wednesday’s game, it certainly conjured up memories of O’Reilly, Jonathan, and Wensink going “Tasmanian Devil” on the NHL during the 70’s.

In my previous post, I had mentioned that the Canadiens would win Wednesday night’s tilt vs. the Bruins simply on the lack-of-success displayed by the Boston Bruins goaltenders against Montreal since, well, the beginning of time.  Tim Thomas surrendering 6 goals (in 2 periods none the less) doesn’t surprise me.  What does surprise me is Jacques Martin’s continued trust in Scott Gomez as a 20-22 minute a game centre.  The trio of Eller-Gomez-Kostitsyn combined for –12 and only 5 shots.  Gomez was blanked in the face-off circle and the Big Bad Bruins, with their towering size, completely dismantled the Habs’ defacto second line.

What to do now?

Wednesday night’s game proved once again that the Canadiens need a skilled, physical presence down the stretch.  Ottawa Senators forward, Chris Neil comes to mind, seems unlikely he will be traded to a divisional rival.  The Islanders Trent Hunter is another.  Habs fans are screaming from atop the highest watchtower, “Where’s the Beef?”.  Montreal Canadiens General Manager Pierre Gauthier will have to appease the fans soon, before this game becomes the focal point of the Habs’ unravelling in the 2011 season.

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The Canadiens will return home to face the New York Islanders at the Bell Centre ce soir.  The Islanders are working on goaltender #5 this season as they are going through netminders faster than Larry King goes through wives.

This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams this year with the Habs holding a 2-1 series lead.  The Islanders were the victors during their last meeting on Boxing Day, 4-1 in Uniondale.

After surrendering 8 goals last night, it looks as if Big, Bald, Alex Auld will get the start for Les Canadiens in place of Carey Price.  The Habs have called up Ryan White from Hamilton, looks as if Tom Pyatt will be the odd man out after getting his face split-open by Gregory Campbell.

Enjoy!

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Bruins Goalies are Cursed: Why the Habs will Win Tonight

The Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins will add another chapter to their storied rivalry as both teams renew hostilities ce soir at the TD BankNorth Gaa-den.  Tonight’s game marks the 4th meeting between these two Northeast divisional teams this season with the Canadiens holding a 3-0 series lead going into tonight’s game.

Vezina trophy front-runner, Tim “The Toolman” Thomas is slated to start for the B’s.  Thomas’ last outing vs. Les Canadiens was solid… for 58 minutes, until two soft goals sent both teams to the extra frame and Max Pacioretty sealed the deal (and a shove to Zdeno Chara) with his OT winner.  Thomas’ comeback into the Bruins spotlight is nothing short of spectacular following what many feared to be, a career ending surgery at 36 years old to repair his hip.   He has certainly earned his place atop the league as one of its elite netminders.  Versus the Habs, not so much.

Thomas may a boast .945 save %, a sparkling 25-6-6 record with 7 shutouts this season; against the bleu, blanc, et rouge though, the numbers are not so flattering.  Lifetime vs. Montreal, Thomas has a 8-14-4 record with an alarming 3.05 GAA and a .870 save % a far-cry from his squeaky clean numbers this season. Truth be told, has there ever been a goaltender in the Boston Bruins organization to have ever handled the Canadiens with relative ease?  Other than Andy Moog (on a stacked Bruins team in the late-80’s early 90’s…hello…Cam Neely anyone?), I cannot, for the life of me, remember any Bruins goaltender having continued success against the Habs (including the playoffs) throughout his Bruins tenure.  Not Dafoe (In the playoffs), not Raycroft (regular season and playoffs), not even the great Gerry Cheevers (The Lafleur goal comes to mind)!

As my good friend Anthony Di Domizio would say, “The Bruins goal crease is cursed, CURSED I tell you!  The Bruins could have both goaltenders starting and they would still find a way to lose against the Habs.”

“The Chosen One” Carey Price will be Thomas’ rival tonight, Superman to his Lex Luther, Neo to his Agent Smith and so forth.  Price has garnered a respectable 26-17-5 record this season and leads the NHL in wins.  What’s more impressive is Price’s career record against the B’s.  In 16 regular season games against Boston, #31’s record is an outstanding 12-2-2 with a .926 SV%.  You have to love those numbers!

Speaking of numbers…The Canadiens are only two-points shy of surpassing the Bruins for the Northeast division lead and the #3 spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.  The Habs have won 3 out of their last 5 games since the All-Star break and are  9-3-3 in 2011.

***

James Wisniewski should return to the Habs lineup tonight.  The Wiz was battling the flu this past weekend.  The Habs are 0-for-22 on the PP in their last 5 games and 3-for-10 on against the Bruins this year.  The Habs would love to have #20 on the ice tonight to jump-start the Habs power play.

Tonight’s game will mark the 709th meeting between these two bitter rivals with the Habs holding a 342-257-103 lifetime record (Both regulation losses and Overtime/Shootout losses are lumped together).

I will provide highlights of tonight’s game via my tweeter-feed @JohnnyBertolo

Enjoy the game!