Posts tagged “Les canadiens de Montreal

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


Drinking, Debauchery and a Damn Fine Hockey Game: Habs/Lightning Preview

Happy Greatest-Day-in-the-World-Ever, or as the Irish would call it, St. Patrick’s Day!  An annual tradition across the globe, the great city of Montreal, more times than not, will indubitably pull out all the stops this weekend.  Irishmen (and women), Montreal citizens and local drunks will freely stumble through downtown Montreal this weekend chanting, dancing and a few other –ing’s not suitable for this post.  It has been announced that the population will double in drunks-per-capita every hour until Sunday Night, so you may want to leave your car at home.

In keeping up with St. Patty’s Day tradition in Montreal; there is no better way to kick-off the festivities than with a hockey game tonight at the Bell Centre.  Hopefully the Montreal faithful will not be coerced into the re-enactment of the ‘Richard Riot’, it’s been 56 years since then NHL President, Clarence Campbell (no relation to the current NHL VP of Operations, Colin Campbell) arrogantly attended the Montreal/Detroit game at the Forum following the Maurice Richard season and playoff ending suspension.  Campbell’s presence sparked anger and outrage at the Forum.  A riot ensued an the rest was as they say, ‘history’.

So get your green brew ready, put away that shillelagh for now and let’s get busy.

Habs vs. Lightning

Not your typical St. Patrick’s Day hockey match-up, but alas, a hockey match-up nonetheless.  The Lightning, 5th place in the Eastern Conference with 87 points are looking to avenge their 4-2 loss to the Canadiens two weeks ago.  The Habs, holding onto 6th place in the Conference with 83 points are looking to close the gap with the Lightning with a win tonight.

The Habs, coming off a disastrous 4-2 loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals Tuesday are looking to get back into the win column.  Montreal certainly gave goaltender Carey Price a workout, facing 41 shots against the Caps while surrendering four goals. Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Halpern were lost due to lower-body injuries.  Both are listed as day-to-day.  With the rash of injuries plaguing the Habs, the team has summoned both Nigel Dawes and Aaron Palushaj from the Hamilton Bulldogs, both are currently practicing with the Habs.

Joining Plekanec and Halpern with boo-boo’s and illnesses include:  Hal Gill (sick/flu like symptoms) Max Pacioretty (fractured vertebrae/concussion), Brent Sopel (broken hand/arm), Mathieu Darche (groin) Markov, Gorges, Spacek (lower-body) and the list goes on.

Digits

Tonight will mark the 1300th career NHL game for Montreal Canadiens defenceman, Roman Hamrlik.  Hamr’ is second behind fellow Czech countryman, Bobby Holik (1314 NHL games), for most NHL games played by a Czech-Republican and joins 48 other esteemed players in that category.  To make the evening apropos, Hamr’s will face the team that selected him 1st overall in the 1992 NHL entry draft

The Habs PP could seriously use a shot of green beer; in the last three games the Habs have gone 0-for-8 on the man advantage but managed two power play goals against the Lightning in their last meeting.

For the Lightning, fellow Quebecois and Tampa captain, Vincent Lecavalier, is looking to score in his third straight game.  The Ile-Bizard native has enjoyed playing against his former childhood team.  In 46 career regular season games, Lecavalier has scored 15 goals and added 22 assists.

This is the fourth and final meeting between these two teams this season with the Lightning holding the edge with two wins and only one loss.  Carey Price and Dwayne Roloson will likely start for their respective teams.  Start time is 7:30 PM

Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo and once again, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Be safe folks.


Monster (non-Truculent) Rally; Protest Success, Habs & Other News

First Off:

Well, that was a rough 24 hours. The powers that be at WordPress accused yours truly of breaking WordPress’ ‘Terms of Service’ agreement.  After filing through every detail with a fine toothcomb and after many phone calls with my crack team of super geniuses (or genii, whatever the plural is) the issue has been resolved.  WordPress sent this message to me early this morning:

“Hi,

Our apologies. The system should not have done that.

We have removed the warning in your dashboard and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused.  “

Beautiful, now back to business…

The Rally

A few hundred-hockey fans, mostly from Montreal, attended a rally to protest excessive and unnecessary shots to the head and support player safety.  The protest took place outside the Bell Centre, at Centennial Plaza, right before the Montreal/Washington game.

One of the rally organizers, Alex Gatti, arrived at Centennial Plaza equipped with protest signs, petitions and a donation bucket to aid Japan in the relief effort following last Sunday’s tragic event.  Gatti, a native Montrealer and a big hockey fan, got the ball rolling shortly after the ‘Incident’.  He used social media (facebook) to organize the event and within 36-hours had amassed a following in the thousands.  Gatti felt the rally would send a strong message to the NHL.

“This is about player safety, the game has changed so much, the last thing I want to see is someone dying on the ice.” said Gatti, as he was fielding questions from reporters, “We want to sign these petitions and send them directly to the commissioner’s office.”

The petition, signed by everyone who attended, highlighted some of the recent issues that have boiled over since last week’s incident involving Max Pacioretty/Zdeno Chara, provided some rule change suggestions and a paragraph voicing their collective concerns.

The most refreshing site at the rally was witnessing 30-or-so young families in attendance.  Parents, who truly care for the game of hockey and the safety of others, were setting the right example by bringing their next of kin to the event.

Things got a little boisterous when a few ‘Chara Sucks’ and ‘Bettman Sucks’ chants could be heard around Centennial Plaza, but most of the people who attended were focused on the matter at hand.

At approximately 7:00PM, the crowd dispersed, the event had wrapped up and Alex Gatti was closing-up shop.  He characterized the event as a success.

“It was a peaceful protest, no issues whatsoever, I think we got the message across” said Gatti, “we have over 1000 signatures, this is good.”

Alas, no fire and brimstone to report, many news outlets attended the rally but were mostly there to see a re-enactment of last year’s riots.  They got that from the anti-brutality protest on St. Denis St. between Marie Anne St. and Mount Royal Ave. where 258 arrests were made.

The organizers deserve a round of applause, too bad CNN, FOX news, and others were not present at the rally, they only cover hockey matters when the city’s about to burst into flames.  I guess Bad news travels faster, oh well.

The Game

You all saw it, the Caps are hot, the Habs are on the mend.  Plekky’s out, Halpern looks out, Pacioretty’s definitely out, Markov, Gorges, Spacek and maybe Wiz are out!

4-2 final score

Carey Price will have to summon the goaltending Gods if he hopes to make a dent in this year’s playoffs.  Carey Price made 37 saves last night.  The Habs surrendering 41-shots to an offensive dynamo like the Capitals will not provide positive results.

Here are some highlights (if you can stomach it):

Yup, pretty crusty.  Habs play the Lightning tomorrow night at the Bell.  Full preview on JB.com tomorrow.  Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo

Laters


All Eyes on Montreal: Habs/Caps/Rally Preview

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).

Digits:

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.

Etcetera

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.

PostScript

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

 

 

 

 


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


Melancholy Montreal Lose to the Blues: 4-1 Final

Following 48-hours of anger, despair and worry for their fallen comrade, it was back to business for the Montreal Canadiens as they returned to action Thursday to face the St. Louis Blues and one –time Montreal mega-hero Jaroslav Halak.

Thursday’s meeting was the first time Halak locked horns with his former club, along with another former Montreal Canadien, Matt D’Agostini.  The former Habs both enjoyed a splendid evening with their current club, exacting some revenge on the team who had cast them off a year ago.

St. Louis’ 4-1 victory over the emotionally depleted Montreal Canadiens extended the Blues winning streak to 3-games.  The team is still leaps and bounds behind in the Western Conference playoff race, sitting 13th place in the standings, nine-points behind 8th place Los Angeles.

The Canadiens opened the scoring on the power play at the 12:30 mark when Jeff Halpern redirected an Alexandre Picard pass from the point past Jaroslav Halak.  Halpern’s goal would prove to be the only one to get by Halak, as the Blues netminder shut the door the rest of the way; stopping 27-of-28 shots to preserve the victory.

A late first period goal by David Backes tied the game shortly thereafter.  Scott Gomez was removed from the face-off circle; Benoit Pouliot lost the draw to Andy McDonald cleanly.  Backes was in a perfect position and rifled a hard shot that stunned Carey Price. It was evident that the late goal suffocated Montreal’s momentum going into intermission.

The Canadiens looked lethargic the rest of the way.  Carey Price attempted to thwart every St. Louis attempt, but to no avail.  Goals by Andy McDonald (17th of the season), former Montreal Canadien, Matt D’Agostini (14th of the season) and TJ Oshie’s (8th goal) empty netter were too much for the Habs as they lost their first since February 24th versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Digits

Benoit Pouliot’s grand return to the top six was anything but as the former 2005 1st round draft selection finished the game –2 and found himself relegated to the fourth line for most of the third period.

Habs goaltender Carey Price finished the game with a .885 SV% stopping 23-of-26 shots.

The tandem of Eller and Kostitsyn could not continue their respective point streaks in consecutive games, finishing-up  –1 and –2 respectively.

Davis Desharnais’ 4-game point streak came to a close last night.  The native of Laurier-Station, Quebec played just under 10-minutes, registering one shot.

Next…

The Canadiens travel to Pittsburgh to face Alex Kovalev, James Neal and the rest of the Penguins for a Saturday matinee at the Consol Energy Center.  Start time is 2PM.  Full Montreal/Pittsburgh preview tomorrow.  Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo


“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


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…


Dropping a Deuce: Habs win 2nd in a row

A mere 24 hours following Monday’s mild trade deadline “frenzy”, the Montreal Canadiens rewarded upper management by defeating the A-Town Thrashers 3-1 Tuesday Night in front of a super-packed, electrically charged, Phillips Arena crowd…Ha, almost fooled you, there were probably more people at your son’s Pee-Wee hockey game, or your wife’s basket-weaving class than at last night’s contest.  There is only one thing that comes to mind when you see more people lining up for a Swine Flu vaccination versus a hockey game…relocation.  The Quebec Thrashers, or as Pierre Houde would say, Les TRASHers de Quebec. Has a ring to it, huh?

Back to the game…

Carey Price looked brilliant once again, stopping 40-of-41 shots, garnering 1st Star honours.  If it weren’t for a gruesome turnover in the Montreal zone with less than 6 minutes remaining which led to Atlanta’s only goal via Nik Antropov, Price would be celebrating is 7th shutout of the season.

 

The Thrashers nearly doubled Montreal’s shot total, 41 to Montreal’s 23.  Price had to be extra sharp as once again, the Habs continue to have problems both possessing the puck and clearing the defensive zone during the latter stages of most games.  Carey Price continues to put on his best bondsman impersonation; constantly bailing-out is team on the regular.  Hey Dog, I think you have some competition brewing?

Montreal received its share of goals by Max Pacioretty, The Almighty Wiz, James Wisniewski and the Captain, Brion Gionta with an empty-netter to seal the deal.

The Canadiens’ spring break vacation continues as they travel to Sunrise, Florida to face the Panthers on Thursday.  Weather in Sunrise, Florida for tomorrow:  Partly cloudy with a high of 78°F (26°C).  While the Habs work on their tan today, they have a chance to further their standing in the Eastern Conference come tomorrow.

(The role of Brett Festerling is played by Meg, what the heck, the role of Drew MacIntyre is played by the Mexican Janitor)

The Habs have maintained their 6th place standing in the East with 5th place Washington only 3-points ahead and 4th place Pittsburgh 5-points ahead.  Tuesday’s win further distanced the Canadiens from 9th place Buffalo (8 points back).

Saturday, the Habs round out their Southeast road trip as they face the Canadiens-south, also known as the Southeast leading, Tampa Bay Lightning.

18 games remaining, check me…


Post-Trade Deadline (Accueillons nos Canadiens) Habs/Thrash Preview

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2011 Montreal Canadiens.  I could have easily said that on Thursday, but hey, I enjoy being patient from time-to-time as well.  Other than a minor league deal involving the acquisition of goaltender Drew MacIntyre from the Atlanta Thrashers for defenceman Brett Festerling (the guy who was traded for Maxime Lapierre), the Habs stood pat.

Ironic that the only move Pierre Gauthier made during yesterday’s Trade Deadline involved the team the Habs are playing tonight.  I wondered on my Twitter feed after the trade was announced whether Gauthier actually called Thrashers GM Rick Dudley, or simply threw a rock down the hall of Phillips Arena with a trade proposal tied to it?

Listen Habs fans, I understand you might be fuming at the sight of seeing Dustin Penner riding off to smoggy La-La-Land or Jason Arnott standing side-by-side with the Washington Monument, I really do.  But seriously, what could the Habs do?

A team with all the drama, all the problems, maligned by injury and an unstable fan base is still afloat the Eastern Conference standings: Still in 6th place, if my memory serves me correctly. 19 games remaining with a plethora of opportunities to gain some traction before the real season commences in mid-April.

Let’s be serious for a second.  When you first saw the fake Nick Kypreos account deliver this trade update via Twitter: “Penner to Habs for Tinordi and a 1st”, followed by the rest of the mainstream media running with this fake news item like a thief in the night (ESPN/CBC hockey analyst, Pierre Lebrun for one), you pooped your pants a little, right?

You gasped, felt slighted as if you were robbed?   Am I right?!?!?!  Your first reaction was “the Habs got hosed; they gave up too much”, blah, blah, blah.

Then the real trade surfaced, the Los Angeles Kings snagged Penner from the Edmonton Oilers, sending prospect defenceman Colten Teubert, a 1st round pick and a conditional pick for the big guy. You won’t admit it, but you saluted Pierre Gauthier for not shelving out Tinordi, Weber or Subban and an array of picks to acquire this player.

Honestly, was Dustin Penner, or Jason Arnott for that matter, really to be the Saviour of the 2011 season for the Habs? Was one of them the Rosetta Stone, the missing link that would propel the Habs to their 25th Stanley Cup this season?  I don’t think so.  Neither did Pierre Gauthier, who clearly estimated that they weren’t worth the risk.

So here we are, on the first day of March, the Canadiens setting up to play game #64 against the Atlanta Thrashers – Brent Sopel, Nigel Dawes and Drew MacIntyre’s former team, at Phillips Arena tonight.

The Habs, coming off a rather exciting win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, are looking to make it two wins in a row for the first time since the beginning of February.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender, Carey Price (28-21-6), who was absent with the flu during Montreal’s win on Saturday, will certainly start tonight barring any further bouts with illness or injury.  Price’s counterpart, Chris Mason (8-8-3), is expected to start in place of the injured Ondrej Pavelec, who is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

The Thrashers are tied in 10th place, 4-points back of 8th place Carolina in the conference.  Tonight’s game will be the third-of-four meetings between these two teams this season.  The Habs have yet to defeat Atlanta this season, losing 3-0 back in November and dropping their first game of 2011 calendar, 4-3 F/OT at the Bell Centre back on January 2nd.

19 games and counting, check me…


A Whale of a Game: Habs vs ‘Canes Preview

It’s a classic Adams division match-up tonight, as the Montreal Canadiens will host the former Hartford Whalers, the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell.

Ahhhh, I love that clip!

The Canadiens, losers in 7 of their last 9 games, will be looking to maintain their 6th place standing in the East, try to stymie any playoff hopes for Carolina in the process whilst attempting to aid Libya in their Fight for Their Right to PAAAAAAAARTYYYY!!!

(Hey, it’s Saturday, put a smile on your face!)

The Bad News:  The Hurricanes, 4-1 winners last night against the Sidney Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins are now 4-points back of the Canadiens in the East.  Carolina has had their share of woes in the month of February.  They are 4-5-3 this month, good enough for 8th place in the Conference, with the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs (3-points/2 games in hand, 6-points/1 game in hand respectively) breathing down their neck.

The Good News:  ‘Canes Team Captain, drunk and disorderly suspect and the guy who shelved Andrei Markov for the rest of the season (accidently), Eric Staal, left last night’s CAR/PIT with an ‘upper body injury’ but everyone knows that’s just a fancy name for concussion.  With the rash of injuries plaguing the Habs this season it’s time for the rest of the league to catch-up and give Montreal a shot to finish 8th this year.

The Canadiens will be looking for some kind of consistency tonight, both in scoring department and in the Eastern standings.  Thursday’s 5-4 loss at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs may have left a bad taste in their collective mouths, but the Habs aim to close out a disastrous month in style, in front of the Bell Centre faithful.

There’s only one thing…

The fans will learn whether Roman Hamrlik will receive more than 28 minutes worth of ice time tonight and more time on special teams duty, or not.  Hamr’s consistently received first line PP duty alongside James Wisniewski while super-rookie PK Subban has been relegated to the second-tier.  It’s become so glaringly obvious that our old pal Jacques Martin favours his experienced veterans over the kids that it’s not even worth the time to compare minutes.  When you see players like Gomez, Kostitsyn, and Hamr receiving more ice time (especially in the 3rd period) over players like David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty (yes even MaxPac, his minutes have been on the decline lately) and PK Subban, it’s no wonder most fans are clamouring for change behind the Canadiens bench.

In Hamr’s case, yes he’s a veteran, yes he shoots left, yes he’s prone to less mistakes versus his younger counterpart Subban.  Tell me something, how are young players like PK Subban supposed to learn how to roll with the ‘Bigs’ and build-up confidence if experienced coaches like Jacques Martin are willing ‘pull-the-cord’ on minutes at the drop of a hat if there is the slightest error on their part?  Is that how you build trust? Is that how you build a team?

Details, deatails…

Newly acquired defenceman, Brent Sopel is slated to make his Montreal Canadiens debut ce soir.  Sopel, acquired Thursday in a trade with Atlanta along with F Nigel Dawes for Ben Maxwell and a 4th round pick in this year’s entry draft will replace Yannick Weber on blue line and will be paired with Paul Mara (*UPDATE* Jacques Martin announced that Paul Mara, Alexandre Picard and Ryan White will be sitting out tonight’s game).  Sopel will wear the #55 for the Montreal Canadiens.  The last player to don the #55 for the Canadiens was defenceman, Matthieu Descoteaux (for only 5 games in 00/01).  Before that, Igor Ulanov (Uhhhhh).

The Hamilton Bulldogs, 4-1 winners at the Phone Booth last night, hopefully moistened the Montreal faithful in time for tonight’s tilt.  Newly acquired forward, Nigel Dawes, scored in his first game as a Baby Hab.  If his name were Nigel Dawsé (or Dazé, like the former Chicago Blackhawk), he’d be in Montreal bleu, blanc et rouge prepping for the ‘Canes tonight.  Oh well…

Tonight’s game is the 3rd meeting between these two teams; the Canadiens hold a 2-0-0 record this season.  First game was a 7-2 drubbing by the Habs over the ‘Canes at home (a game which saw Andrei Markov’s season end prematurely for a second straight season).  The 2nd game on Christmas-eve-eve (December 23rd, no I’m not having a stroke) witnessed the Habs defeat Carolina on the road, 3-2.

One would assume both All-star goaltenders, Carey Price and Cam Ward, getting the start for their respective teams tonight.  Carey Price was not part of the Morning Skate and he is apparently sick and recuperating at home.  His status for tonight’s game is unknown at this point.  Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyBertolo for an update.

Enjoy the game.

2 days until trade deadline, check me…




All’s well that (Max)well; Sopel/Dawes Welcome Wagon!

It just didn’t work out for Ben Maxwell, huh?  The kid who will always be remembered for being picked right before Milan Lucic (49th,50th) in the 2006 draft, is on his way to “A-Town”.  Maxwell will have his opportunity to flex his stuff alongside Matty Ice, Roddy White, Michael Turner… er…moving on.  Let’s be honest, no one had anything against the kid, he was decent, he just never got a shot.  B-Max along with a 4th round draft pick (props to @HabsWatch for this gem of a stat:  “For what it’s worth, #Habs have gone 0 for 20 in drafting 4th rounders (1993-2008) who managed to play 80+ career NHL games”.)  So perfect, what do the Habs get in return, defenceman Brent Sopel and forward Nigel Dawes.

Sopel is +7 this year (1st amongst D-Men in ATL) and ranks 7th in the NHL in the blocked shots category with 130.  It is expected that the Montreal Canadiens will annnounce the end of Jaroslav Spacek’s 2011 campaign.  Spacek has not returned due to a lower body injury and the Habs management has been mum on his condition; a glaring indication via the recent acquisitions on the blue line (Mara via Anaheim, Sopel via Thrashers) in the last few days.

In Dawes the Habs receive some much needed sandpaper, granted, that sandpaper is getting shipped to Hamilton, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.  In 47 games with the Chicago Wolves the AHL, Dawes has 27 goals and 44 points.

Sopel will not be suiting up for the Canadiens tonight.  He’s taking care of some family business back home in Chicago, but should be good to go come Saturday vs Carolina

At least we can all say that Pierre Gauthier is not snoozing behind the wheel of the Habs Express, like some people we know…

Still 3 days until trade deadline, check me…