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.
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
*Note: Dear fellow readers, I am not a heroin addict, but I play one on TV. 😉
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
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:
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…
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.
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
It’s back to the task at hand, the Montreal Canadiens, currently sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 83 points will host the Southeast leading Washington Capitals tonight at the Bell Centre. This will be the first Montreal home game since last Tuesday’s infamous ‘incident’ involving Max Pacioretty and Lurch, I mean Zdeno Chara.
Tonight’s foes, the Washington Capitals, currently second place in the Eastern Conference with 90 points, are a stone’s throw away from first place Philadelphia (91 points with two games in-hand) in the Conference. Looking to make it nine straight victories, a Capitals win coupled with a Flyers loss to the Florida Panthers tonight would propel Ovechkin and the Caps to top spot in the East.
The Habs, winners of their last two home games dating back to February 26th against the Carolina Hurricanes, will make a bittersweet return to the Bell Centre tonight. As important as this game is to both the Canadiens and the Capitals, the real event’s taking place outside the Bell Centre, at Centennial Plaza (go to the bottom of the post).
Carey Price, who’s looking to make some space on his trophy mantle, is a 99.99998% lock to start tonight’s game. Price is boasting a 33-22-6 record with a.924 SV% and 2.29 GAA and 8 shutouts. His 33 wins are good enough for the league lead and his 8 shutouts are second to New York Rangers netminder, Henrik Lundqvist. CP is looking for career win #94 tonight
Prior to last week’s road swing in St. Louis and Pittsburgh, Andrei Kostitsyn was enjoying a seven game point streak. AK 46 has been blanked in the two last road games, but there is a silver lining for the Belorussian. AK’s looking to make it four straight games that he registers at least a point at the Bell Centre.
Tomas Plekanec is looking to extend a home point streak of his own. Plekky is currently enjoying a four game point streak at the Phone Booth and has seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in his last eight games. The Centre out of Kladno, Czechoslovakia has averaged just under a point a game against the Capitals lifetime. In 22 games regulkar season games against the Caps, Plekky has 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) woth a plus-6 rating.
Alexander the GR8 has found his form and that does not bode well for the Habs. In his last 14 games, Ovechkin has registered 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) and has registered at least one point in his last 7 road games. Ovechkin loves the bright lights of Montreal and especially loves to play against the bleu, blanc, et rouge. In 22 games against the Habs, the Caps captain’s accumulated 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists).
The big question is, who will start in goal for the Capitals? Capitals rookie netminder, Braden Holtby, thrust into a starting role after a string of injuries to incumbent goaltenders, Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, went 4-0-0 last week and claimed NHL First Star honours. The 2008 4th round selection for Capitals had a 1.05 GAA and .965 SV% and 1 shutout in that span. Reports indicate that Michal Neuvirth is ready to go, after leaving a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning because small pieces of metal broke off from his mask and became embedded in his eye. It looks as if Capitals head coach, Bruce Boudreau, will make his decision right before tonight’s game.
This is the third meeting between these two teams with the season series currently tied at one apiece. The last time these two teams locked horns was back on February the 1st in Washington. That game witnessed the Canadiens defeating the Capitals 3-2 in a shootout. Habs captain, Brian Gionta scored the winning shootout goal. These two teams will meet for the fourth and final time this season on Saturday, March 26th in Montreal.
Tonight’s game starts at 7:00PM, check your local listings.
Before tonight’s Habs/Caps game, a rally to protest excessive violence in hockey, vicious/unnecessary shots to the head and support player safety will commence at 5PM at Centennial Plaza. The peaceful rally is aimed at bringing attention to a very hot-button issue that has been thrust into the limelight following last week’s ‘incident’ in Montreal. As mentioned numerous times before, the rally is not a protest against the Boston Bruins or Zdeno Chara. It’s a rally against the type of vicious hits resulting in unnecessary injuries and the NHL clearly showing its downfall in dealing with this matter properly.
Please represent the city of Montreal with class; I would like to write about the successes of Tuesday night’s rally and how it brought us one step closer in resolving this growing epidemic infecting the game of hockey. Be safe.
This rally is for Max Pacioretty and Marc Savard. For Patrice Bergeron and David Booth. For Sidney Crosby and Steve Moore and the scores of other players currently suffering from the after effects because too many people have been saying for far too long, “It is, what it is”.
Go Hockey Go
NOTE: I WILL BE AT THE RALLY, PLEASE FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @JOHNNYBERTOLO
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
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…
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…
“Why does it always seem like the #Habs always bring out the best in some of the worst teams?” (via @JohnnyBertolo Twitter following Edmonton’s third goal.)
There it is again, Ladies and Gentlemen, everyone’s favourite television rerun. The same episode you’ve seen a bazillion times before. It was on full display in front of some 17,000 people at Rexall Place in Edmonton. A hapless opponent having their way with le bleu, blanc et rouge, leaving the Habs scratching their noggins.
The Habs (69-points/6th place) are spiralling; their main Eastern Conference rivals are picking up steam in the standings. The Rangers (66-points/7th place) are catching up; the Capitals (70-points/5th place) find themselves in a similar situation, sitting idle, and 1st place in the Northeast division is becoming a far-off memory.
Truth be told, the Habs played somewhat of a decent game against the Oil. They created chances, they skated well. I will not give them too much credit, but Scott Gomez and Andrei Kostitsyn played a respectable game (more on that a little later). The problem (other than James Wisniewski’s face exploding all over the Rexall place ice surface) was finishing.
That, and Carey Price needs to find his rhythm. After starting his league-leading 52nd game of the season, Price is starting to let in those “Price wants that one back” goals again. The back-to-back 15-second Oiler tallies effectively halted any sort of momentum for the Habs in the first half of the 3rd period.
Back to finishing… Scottie G and AK 46 surely did have their fair amount of scoring chances last night- they created, they skated, but they couldn’t finish. Like other reputable Montreal Canadiens writers/bloggers out there, I’ll stop short from giving these two guys too much credit, since they did play the statistically worst team in the NHL last night.
Personally, I wanted to see more goals like Jeff Halpern’s, mass confusion in front of the Edmonton goal, a stuff, a stifle and a score. That play was brilliant, as I remember yelling at the TV screen, “THAT’S HOW YOU SCORE, RUN THAT F#$KING GOALIE OVER!!!” After that feat of strength, after all that mass hysteria in front of the Edmonton net, nothing, nada, poof, gone!
Give credit to Edmonton netminder Nikolai Khabibulin, after pulling a Gordon Bombay and miffing his DUI test last summer. He played probably his best game of the year last night, maybe even his best game as an Oiler.
After resurrecting the “Bulin Wall” last night, Khabibulin made 36 saves with an impressive .973 SV/%. Very decent numbers, but you also have to look at the Habs’ inability to bury chances, nay opportunities!
The Canadiens could have won last night’s game, they should have won last night’s game. Losing once to the worst team in the league happens. Hey, every dog’s got his day, right? Lose twice to the worst team in the league, well, a blind Stevie Wonder will tell you he sees a problem and it needs fixing.
All of a sudden, Paul Mara has become useful. The stopgap, the tampon, will undoubtedly dress for Sunday’s Heritage Classic (I know my last few posts I mention the Heritage Classic taking place on Saturday, people make mistakes, sue me!). Thankfully, James Wisniewski’s exploding face did not require any eye repairs. My suggestion, if the Wiz will be shelved for more than a couple of weeks, remove Andrei Kostitsyn’s face and put it over Wisniewski’s a la Face-Off starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage.
Or, Plan B, since he knows the system all too well, send a useless 6th round pick to Tampa Bay and re-acquire Marc-Andre Bergeron. Makes sense to me!
Taking the day off from writing tomorrow folks, I will provide a breakdown of the Heritage Classic Old Timers game and preview for Sunday , followed by a a full rundown of the Heritage classic with photos and maybe some video provided by my cousin, Ryan Travers (lucky bastard!)
Enjoy the weekend!
The Sabres from Buffalo have roamed over to the Bell Centre, where the Montreal Canadiens will host yet another Northeast divisional rival tonight (4:30 PM/PST).
Coming off their 3-0 blanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Habs are looking to make it two in a row while simultaneously attempting to obliterate any playoff hopes for the Sabres.
Buffalo sits 10th place in the Conference, 4 points back from a playoff spot. Eighth place is currently occupied by the Carolina Hurricanes. Good news for the Habs: the Phoenix Coyotes did the Canadiens a HUGE solid by defeating Ovie #8 and the rest of his Capitals comrades, 3-2 in regulation (phew). The Phoenix win makes NHL profit-sharing all the more palpable. The Capitals loss officially slides Montreal into 5th place in the East. A Montreal win tonight coupled with a Boston loss in regulation to the new-look Toronto Maple Leafs (Kris Versteeg traded to Philadelphia, and the Leafs acquire Voros) will leapfrog the Canadiens into the Northeast division lead and 3rd place overall in the East.
Reigning Vezina Trophy winner, Olympic silver medallist, and greasy hair aficionado Ryan Miller has been given the night off. We here at johnnybertolo.wordpress.com are a little perplexed (and possibly a little turned on) as to why “Miller-Time” won’t be between the pipes ce soir. Answer: Miller made 31 straight starts since November, and if Sunday’s 7-6 Overtime loss wasn’t an indication that Drew Miller’s older brother needs a break, I don’t know what is. (Read Mike Harrington’s piece on Miller and the Sabres on BuffaloNews.com)
22-year old Jhonas Enroth will get his first career start versus Montreal tonight. The greasy-faced Swede has a respectable 2-2-1 record with a 2.89 GAA this season.
Because Miller won’t get the call, johnnybertolo.wordpress.com has provided you with a highlight reel of the Sabres “other” MVP. Here are the Top-10 Rick Jeanneret play-by-play calls:
The heir apparent to the Quebecois-Montreal Candiens-Francophone crown, David Desharnais, AKA Thomas, The Little Engine that Could from ‘Shining Time Station’, is indeed the spark the Habs have been looking for. In his last three, the native of Laurier-Station, Quebec has 2 goals and 3 tallies. With the way he’s playing, the Habs will have no choice but to involve Scott Gomez in some kind of underage “Bunga! Bunga!” sex scandal party à la Silvio Berlusconi, or tag his name to a Construction price-fixing kerfuffle, whichever is cheaper. (WELL, YOU CAN’T TRADE THE GUY!!!)
Big, Bald, Alex Auld is a lock to back up Carey Price tonight.
Enjoy the game, folks.
Update: The Canadiens have called up D-Man Brendon Nash from the Hamilton Bulldogs. The soon-to-be 24 year-old product out of Cornell University has 3 Goals and 23-points with a +12. Not too shabby. The Kamloops, BC native stands 6’3 inches tall and reminds me of another professional athlete with the last name Nash (and I’m not talking about Steve, or Rick).
I guess everyone’s back on the proverbial bandwagon. The Habs, winners on Saturday versus the lowly Maple Leafs, ending their 3-game losing skid by blanking Toronto 3-0. The Bruins, losers in back-to-back games (6-1, 4-2) against their Original 6 rival Detroit Red Wings made everyone in Montreal laugh like Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop.
(WARNING: Strong Language)
Thankfully, the Montreal Canadiens wagon has reinforced shocks. Following Wednesday night’s blood bath against the Bruins and Thursday night’s snooze fest versus the Islanders, the Habs needed a strong showing Saturday night against The Maple Leafs in front of the hometown faithful, or plunge into the St. Lawrence River, cradle and all.
Just like that, the Montreal Canadiens whipped the Maple Leafs like a giggling Homer J. Simpson chasing down a half-naked Uter in the locker-room during that ‘Simpsons’ Hockey episode.
The Canadiens and their fans are breathing a sigh of relief Monday morning. Worried solely about digging their cars from an icy, snow covered tomb (Current ‘Hot Topic’ on Twitter: #blamesubban). Alas, still keeping warm upon viewing the current Eastern Conference standings. As of today, Valentine’s Day (the holiest of all days) 2011, the Canadiens sit tied in 5th place with the Washington Capitals (Caps have 1-game in hand) and 1-point back of the Northeast division-leading Bruins.
After defeating the Habs back on December 10th, 2010, you couldn’t help but feel like the Red Wings owed the Canadiens, right? I mean, the Habs DID give Detroit a run for their money 2 months ago. The Red Wings HAVE been the most successful franchise over the last twenty years. Furthermore, the Red Wings WERE responsible for chasing Patrick Roy out of Montreal…even though that was over a decade and a half ago.
The point is, with so much bad luck befalling the Habs this year (injuries, horror stories involving team cohesion, PK Subban being to ‘cocky’ according to outside media officials, we call him ‘talented’ here), they needed a break from having their head in the noose. And, with the Red Wings playing the part of the Lone Ranger over the weekend, the Habs may have assured themselves some extra playing time come mid-April.
Meat and Potatoes (Mmmmmm):
It’s back to business for Le bleu, blanc et rouge. Valentine’s Day, pffffffffff, who cares when you’re hosting another divisional rival at the Centre Bell the following day, right? The Buffalo Sabres, coming off a Green Bay Packers/ Chicago Bears-like loss (7-6 F/OT) against the suddenly scorching New York Islanders team, will be looking to get back into the win column Tuesday.
The Sabres sit 10th place in the Conference, 4-points back of 8th place Carolina. This game will mark the 5th time these two teams lock horns this season with the Habs holding a 3-1 series lead. Buffalo won the last meeting, 2-1 F/OT in January.
Hopefully the Habs will give an update on the status of Max Pacioretty. The New Haven, Connecticut native was drilled hard into the boards by Maple Leafs defenceman, Luke Schenn during Saturday’s game. The injury has not been confirmed, but it looks like a left arm/hand injury, more details to follow.
Mathieu Darche is currently skating on the ice in Brossard. Taking some shots on Habs backup, Alex Auld. It has been confirmed that Darche, along with Mike Cammalleri, and MaxPac will participate in Monday’s practice. Hal Gill is skating alone which signifies he may miss some extended time.
So it’s Valentine’s Day, if you’re sans partner, I can’t help you. I’m pretty sure there’s a watering hole right around the corner where some person will give you all the attention you desire, at a nominal fee.
Guys, don’t get suckered in to all the hoopla, just show your woman you give a damn, cook her dinner, light some stupid candles, embrace her and make her feel special.
Girls, don’t put too much stock into this day, it’s Monday, it’s sh%#&y outside, the Habs aren’t playing and chances are, your man had to take public transportation to get to work today. Give him a break, know that he cares and just curl up together and tag-team that bottle of vino!
3 straight losses, that’s the reality folks. The latest, a 4-3 shootout loss to the Eastern Conference cellar dwellers, the New York Islanders. The Canadiens have reached THAT part of the season where all reasoning goes out-the-window and the L’s, OTL’s and SOL’s* out-number the W’s. The Habs’ overachieving from the first part of the season is halted and the real nitty-gritty physical/mental games are just getting underway.
Last night’s game bored the crap out of me. So much so, I headed down to the old Mu Omicron Zeta Fraternity house on Ste. Catherine St., took part in some festive rituals (in other words, I drank a lot), pushed the snooze button on the 2nd period and returned to watch the 3rd period with one eye open.
After verbally berating my fraternity brother Chris “Boxer” Gravel’s television on the 2nd floor of the MOZ house following the shootout loss, I, along with many Montreal Canadiens fans realized that in order to survive the last stanza of the 2010-2011 season, changes must be made.
To quote Jack Nicholson in Batman… you know what, just watch the clip below; you’ll understand what I’m trying to say:
Lars Eller needs to be sent down to Hamilton, nothing personal on the guy, but when you’re playing with Gomez and Kostitsyn and you’re only handed a little over 11 minutes of ice time and no PP time, well, I don’t need to tell you, the writing’s on the wall. Even Ryan White had more ice time than his Danish counterpart!
Gomez and Kostitsyn, ughhhhhhhh, what more can I say? Along with Eller they were a combined –3 with only 3 shots on goal. Out of 37 shots total. Oh yeah, by the way, they started the damn game after that abortion of a performance against the Bruins Wednesday night!
We all understand that the Habs are trying to showcase AK’s talents (or whatever) for the 29 other General Managers in the league. Believe me, they’ll find a taker. As I stare into my crystal ball I can’t help but visualize Sergei’s older brother turning into a mega-superstar in a new area code.
There has to be a bag of pucks out there with the Habs’ name on it in exchange for Scott Gomez’s hefty contract. There just has to!
James Wisniewski has not fully recovered from the flu. I credit his offensive prowess since his return (other than his open net gaffe in the 2nd period), but he has become a detriment in his own zone. He finished last night’s game with a –1, with some ugly giveaways. With Gill out of the lineup and Picard logging some 15 minutes, an upgrade at defense is likely via trade.
Jacques Martin looked as squeamish and uncomfortable behind the Canadiens bench last night as a certain Egyptian dictator giving a speech to an angry, hostile crowd. His continued trust in this defacto 2nd line is making many fans s*%t pancakes! If a change is needed for the troops then a tactical change is needed from the coaching staff. Martin needs to be more flexible with his “System”. The league figured out the Habs’ game plan, just as they did with the Capitals following the first round of last year’s playoffs, when the #1 seeded team in the East was vanquished by the eighth-place Habs.
* (Losses, Overtime-Losses, Shootout-Losses)
The Canadiens host Hogtown Saturday night at the Phone Booth (Bell Centre for those of you who didn’t get the joke). The greatest goalie in the world, ever, Carey Price is pretty much a 99.999% shot at starting on Saturday. The Price man is one game above .500 in his career record against the Maple Leafs, 6-5 with 1 shutout and a .919 save%.
Leave it to Toronto to crap on Joffrey Lupul’s Maple Leafs debut, they lost their last game 2-1 in Overtime, handing New Jersey Devils coach, Jacques Lemaire his 600th career win as an NHL head coach.
Puck drops at 7 PM!