Saturday, October 31, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Well, lookit you, Mr. Badass.
Before going further I must underline and applaud the play of Travis Moen tonight. First star honours were very well deserved in this Méchant Lundi special event (otherwise known as "what, we play tonight? Really?") as well as Hammer for continuing his reign on the offensive masters of the Habs' blueline (outscoring Sheldon Souray by 3 goals. Concussion or not, betcha didn't think THAT was ever going to happen). I've also been a little rough on Jaroslav Spacek lately, and that goal made me eat my words.
So, Pleks. This may well be my area of expertise, granted, he has been my favourite player for awhile (and in my sights since his first-ever training camp in 2001). There have been ups. There have been downs. There have been turtleneck jokes and little girl references (and of course, the accompanying creative uses of Photoshop). There is, currently, a one-year contract, $2.75M.
So far, the man we "overpaid" this summer is looking like the bargain he has been since 2001.
This and he hasn't kept the same wingers for more than two games all season. The silent but wily craftsman is back to being one of the highest on the Habs' leaderboard. Eight of his points are assists, but none of those were cheaply made. Roll back footage of Cammy's second goal on Saturday. He is back and he is strong, he is making use of whatever chances he gets despite the instability on either side of him. He has the odd average game, but the Plekanec definition of "average" still means busting his butt every shift. It's been said before, but doesn't always reach into the thick skulls of some Habs' fans (who tend to favour former wearers of jersey #27, coincidence?) who are off in Trade Rumour La-La Land, pointing at his "rising value" and "the need to capitalize on it" as soon as possible rather than acknowledging and even celebrating the fact that this team we couldn't recognize October 1st actually has a familiar face pulling a lot of its strings. He's even added to the formula a little--this season he's slowly adding the extra spice to his game by attempting the human bulldozer on pretty much every opponent, 5'9'' or 6'7''. Doesn't always win, sometimes ends up flat on his butt, but oh, those fearful little Euro forwards, afraid to get in the corners...not so much.
And tonight. End-to-end setup for Hammer's goal. Those playmaking abilities at their very best, that keen vision of the ice, the confidence he so dearly missed last season, it was all there. One thing hasn't changed with his mindset, though. He passed the puck. I'll always remember being present at the Penguins-Canadiens' game a few years ago, again in overtime, where he could have recorded his first NHL hat trick but saw another #44, Souray, in what he felt was a much better position so he passed the puck to him. Souray scored, the entire Bell Centre and beyond went into a fit of deliriousness, ole'ing deep into the metro (I had to hum along, I had no voice left). Pleks? He stuck by his decision like he probably will again tonight. And then there'll be the next game.
But will there be next year? That's not up to me. But you know what would happen if it was.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
That's right, your bloggettes (and a friend, poor friend) are headed to a Habs' game and we don't have to go to Ottawa to do it. The proof arrived (rather quickly, I must say) in my mailbox this afternoon, this after I pulled out all the stops in my classroom (!) to get a seat in that waiting room last Thursday, which is what Rookie alluded to in her latest Plus/Minus post. That blasted system usually never works for me, which is what makes this most recent acquisition all the more miraculous. That said, the other 21 270 people had probably best be prepared....
Thoughts on Atlanta-Montreal now....It would be nice if we could win in 60 minutes, not 65, but I'm not spitting on the W. I'm actually convinced that Brian Gionta is Superman. If no one is going to sew that C on his jersey I'm going to find one and put it on myself. With masking tape. If I must. Honourable mentions to Scott Gomez for not tolerating Kozlov's assault on him near the end of regulation, and Max Lapierre for going Extreme Makeover, Rage Edition on Colby Armstrong. And all the more reason to love this game: the Kladno contingent being represented in the other net. Ondrej Pavelec quickly became one of my favourite goaltenders in the Q when my Cape Breton friend pointed him out in several of her game posts four years ago. Despite leading the Chicago Wolves to a Calder Cup he's had a rough go of an NHL career, often playing third fiddle in a goaltending duo that had its own share of ups and downs with the play (or lack thereof) of the supporting cast around them. However, tonight proved how well he's filling in for injured starter Kari Lehtonen. From what I had seen up til now, though, he hadn't had a game quite like this one to really put his coaching staff in a means to really start to think about the future. It's bittersweet to see him pull off what he did in front of the Habs, but I'm glad for him that he did. It'll be interesting now to see what happens in a few weeks when Lehtonen's scheduled to make his return.
In the meantime, wahoo, Habs-Flames tickets! Aaaand goodnight.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
+ No insane injuries this week. Wow, that's actually a plus? Is this really the kind of week it's been?
+ Gomez & Gionta taking over for what used to be called the Kovy's Kids loge. Jose Theodore and Alex Kovalev were total gentlemen for giving kids a chance to have a fun Bell Centre night when life wasn't so great for them, and I think it's a great move by two new guys to show that they're committed to not only the team, but the city. If I were a little kid given the opportunity to see a game at the loge, I'd be excited not only about the experience but that I was being given that chance by Brian Gionta.
+ For the second week in a row, Tomas Plekanec. Maybe this isn't the best streak he's had, but if some people's opinions were right and Pleks was our most problematic player, then, um, we wouldn't be on a losing streak. And also for this from the Canadiens homepage earlier this week, which is awesome in many ways:
+ The kids who opened up the Bell Centre ice before our home opener. I already mentioned the little goalie who tripped but tried not to show any potential embarrassment. (I'd have been mortified until I saw players falling on the ice during that same game.)
+ The Gazette for running an article on Chris Chelios' drive to play some games in the NHL this season. After reacquiring Mathieu Schneider for the end of last season, I figured we might as well leave the doors open to whatever veterans want to come back, and I think it's awesome that Chelios still has some fight left in him. (And to be honest, I wouldn't mind a little extra push on the blue line.)
+ I know which stamps are going on my Christmas cards this year! It's a shame I don't really know anyone in Toronto or Boston.
+ This Twitter update from Dave Stubbs, which is a tad meaner than he usually is but as brilliant as he always is: "#Habs team photo tomorrow. Smiles to be inserted with Photoshop?"
+ For the ticket sales on the 15th of every month, allowing us a do-over from a hideously unsuccessful ticket sales day in September.
- Special teams. Dear Scott Gomez: Since when is "power play" synonymous with "pass the puck to Spacek instead of shooting it"?
- I know this is usually what fans say when their teams lose, but biased reffing. We endured some pretty useless penalties and were deprived of at least a couple of well-deserved power plays.
- People whose loyalty to a player outshines their loyalty to their own team. Since WHEN do you cheer like that when your own team loses? Which, don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see Kovy again and I'm glad that he still loves the city, so much so that he's a good sport even when asked to model a suit best described as Beetlejuice Chic...
- The team generally fading as the game progresses... two consecutive third periods that left me a little disappointed, to say the least.
- 2 Oh yeah, and more losses in games that I believe the team could feasibly have won. I almost made another minus for "no Tuesday game" until I realized that it probably wouldn't have gone down so well.
And, in not yet plus or minus news, we'd like to welcome Marc-Andre Bergeron to the city, as he's presumably ready after some victories in Hamilton, and I guess Shawn Belle can't be our guest anymore for a while.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens, October 17th, 2009....
I'm a little late as the first period is about to end, but a few thoughts to begin:
-I have to say I'm a little impressed with the Senators' record thus far. It's early yet, but really? This was the team that was supposed to be down and out with the "loss" of Heatley? Hmm.
-I think the hat trick from two nights ago (including 2 SHG) was proof enough that Milan Michalek should NOT be left alone just because we have a power play.
-Tomas Plekanec expressed how he thought Kovalev would be the first ex-Hab to be cheered by the Bell Centre crowd. Much to my chagrin he's partially right. But I still hear the boo birds!
-Guy Carbonneau makes his debut as commentator on HNIC tonight. I can't help but smile at this. Good on him.
-"Oh, I hate that guy." My mother feels strongly about Chris Neil, apparently. First I hear of it.
-That 5 on 3 was a little nuts, but for once you can't accuse the Habs of not shooting.
-Cammalleri! (See, I can spell it. His own teammates can't.)
-Score: 1-1 going into the intermission.
-Another power play, another bunch of chances in close. Now the PK unit comes out.
-Nice tumbling there, Alfredsson. Not. 5 on 3 for the Sens, Kovalev on the point. Mr. Gymnastics (Alfie) scores to reclaim the lead for Ottawa. Kovalev gets an assist.
-Yet ANOTHER 5 on 3 for Ottawa, the only highlight of which was the kerfuffle involving the referee.
-"Michalek ... knocked off stride!" more like hatched by Paul Mara. Interesting.
-Jarkko Ruutu doing what he does best: raising some hell. Which better not reel in the Habs because they've had enough penalty trouble lately.
-Do my eyes fail me or did Andrei Kostitsyn finally shoot?
-Third period begins, Ottawa 2, Montreal 1.
-My friend and I concur that D'Agostini needs to do some more of that to-the-net action.
-Props to the guy in the front row who's brave enough to get footage of Kovalev's nostrils by recording the skirmish with Mara on his phone.
-Two minutes for holding the shirt? ...no?
-Halfway mark of the 3rd. Something, anything, needs to get going here.
-Something happened all right, but for the wrong team. Kovalev makes it 3-1. (You knew it had to be him, seriously. Surprised it took this long.)
-The cheers at the 1:00 mark are only for the fact that this game will be over soon.
-"Who are these people?" My brother hasn't watched a full Habs' game since the massive influx of newbies, but tonight I ask the same question. Hopefully the real Montreal Canadiens will show themselves soon, because you know what everyone will be saying between now and Tuesday.
Friday, October 16, 2009
I guess this wasn't the most epic home opener of all time. Which sucks for me, since it was my first real "home opener" experience. Okay, fine, I wasn't AT the game, but a home opener is a once-a-season event that needs to be watched from start to finish.
Two seasons ago, I maybe half-watched it - to be honest, I don't really remember because that was back when hockey was just something that was on. (In hindsight, I should totally have watched it and paid attention considering how that season unfolded.) Then last year, I missed it for academic reasons. In the spring, my reasoning for a Wednesday evening class made perfect sense - the class sounded interesting, Lost wasn't on until midseason and hockey games on Wednesdays were relatively rare. I made a bad call on that one. The class was useless and dull (and yes, everyone's friend Czechtacular had warned me about the awful professor, but for some reason I didn't listen). I had tickets to a preseason game on a Wednesday - stupid, I know - so I had already missed one class for hockey (kids, do as I say, not as I did) and couldn't fall behind just to watch a game on TV. Obviously, I had NHL.com and Mike Boone's live blog open in separate windows as I took notes, and compulsively hit refresh about every three seconds, but neither source would make any mention of the pre-game ceremony and all the legends in attendance, so a good while after the game was set to start all I knew was that the puck had dropped. So this was the first real home opening game I got to see.
I was very excited for this home opener... so excited that I delayed my viewing of the 30 Rock season premiere, which was a pretty tough call to make. (To put things into perspective, the 30 Rock premiere is like the TV equivalent of the home opener when your team is coming off a wicked last season and a Stanley Cup win, but not in a bucktoothed Sidney Crosby kind of way. I love Tina Fey more than Carey Price loves Garth Brooks. I speak more highly of Tina Fey than Jacques Demers does of Guillaume Latendresse. I've been quoting old episodes nonstop in anticipation.)
I had had the chance to see Calgary's home opener last season, with every player called to the ice like a hero. (I unfortunately was called away for the five seconds that Jarome Iginla was called up but turned back to the TV just in time to see the guy after him, a certain Michael Cammalleri). I figured I knew what I'd be in for and I was hoping for some big to-do since we're almost at the tail end of these centennial festivities.
And what did we get at the beginning of this game? The same video we'll be seeing for the rest of the season, and a lineup of "Je suis" introductions. Hardly the pomp and circumstance of last year's opener, although I guess it's useful if you're still confused by the dozens of new guys who materialized over the summer.
Props to Andrei Kostitsyn for being a rebel and skipping the "Je suis." Everyone knows that that's who he is, anyway. And I don't care if he follows the script or not, because he gets paid to play. I'm a little disappointed, though, that his was the only deviation from what the players were probably told to say. No one decided to maybe stick a middle name in there, or a "Hi Mom," or maybe pull a switcheroo and say some other guy's name, or introduce himself as James Bond or something. Les boys were all business.
Also, I was under the impression that our city had the most legendary hockey team in the NHL, or something. Is it just me or was standing around passing a mic just a little bit low-fi? I may watch hockey to see the games, but the guys barely even had time for a wave or a nod of the head. Couldn't there have been more lights, or a sparkler or two, maybe more little kids?
Is it because they thought tripping was contagious? Because that little goalie kid did a heck of a job, even wearing all his padding, only tripping once. Scott Gomez fell like a dozen times during the game, and he's a full-grown man. A short man, perhaps, but still an adult-sized one who skates for a living, so I'm giving a huge
thumbs up to the little goalie kid for picking himself up and keeping on. (Or herself? Was it a little Kim St-Pierre in training?)
The players didn't even skate around that much when they came out, but I guess that that made for an even playing field with the injured players. Obvious statement of the year:
I miss my Andrei Markov.
Did I miss something? Was all of the awesomeness offscreen?
On to the game:
So the first period went off pretty well. We scored the first goal, because Roman Hamrlik was totally on fire and deserves credit for seeing a really good opportunity and taking the shot.
The first period also called a penalty for something that isn't an officia
l crime of hockey but should be: Checking A Guy After You Knocked His Helmet Off. Thanks, Colorado, for trying to fell another one of our players. We're already down by three at our home opener and I'm pretty sure that Max Pacioretty hasn't done anything to deserve attempted brain damage.
In the second period, Colorado apparently tied the game 1-1 but come on. Who are we kidding. That was a goal of complete fluke and stupidity. It wasn't actually scored by anyone.
Colorado scored a second goal during a moment of Carey Price weakness (opinions may vary on his play last night, and I'm more or less in the middle. We've seen him play better, we've seen him have worse games, but there were some brilliant saves and don't you deny it.)
There were some decent shots on goal but unfortunately we didn't score a second until Tomas Plekanec rocked it out in the 3rd period. Czechtacular will have more on this for you, since both goals were scored by her guys.
Overall, I think this game, if anything, proved that fans (you know which ones I'm talking about) can't just rely on the new players we were so jazzed about this summer. I didn't lose faith in our returning players and I'm feeling pretty good about that right now. I'd probably feel even better if I didn't need to make this argument and everyone played this well all the time and no one had to be an apologist for their favourite player, but Mick Jagger told me that I can't always get what I want.
The game ended 3-2 but there was a strong effort at the end of the game to score a third goal, and that first Colorado goal barely even counts, so I'll be in denial and say it was a tie game. Last night's game was a reminder that NHL hockey isn't easy, and there's work to do this season. I'm up for it, and it appears that the team is up for it, and hopefully for the long run.
And in case you're wondering, yes, 30 Rock was great.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The mask is primarily red, with a Ghost Rider-style Grim Reaper riding a motorcycle adorning the side. It's also got some flaming ace of spades cards, a Habs logo, and a tribute to Olaf Kolzig's charity on it.
There's definitely got some detailed airbrush work on it, and I really dig the look of the chrome on red and the "net" effect over the CH.
...And I think I'll leave some other stuff unsaid while I get ready to cheer for Carey this season, no matter what the mask looks like.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Welcome to the inaugural (and hopefully not last) +/- post, where, like a player's plus-minus ranking, we're going to keep track of what happens, spotlight the good, and sulk at the bad. Since this first week (technically, nine days, but that's procrastination) was as insane as we've come to expect during the hockey season (especially for Montreal), we've got a lot to get this going:
+ Winning the first game of the season. Take that, Toronto! Not even the big bad defenceman that we molded (who then jilted us) can hold us down.
+ Josh Gorges starting his season with a game-winning goal.
+ Beating the Sabres.
+ Brian Gionta saving our asses on a regular basis.
+ Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec de-zombifying from their former selves and producing goals in both road losses, one of which was a wicked backhander that had an eye for the net
+ The return of Kyle Chipchura and the unleashing of his badassery on Eric Nystrom (the newly-born Habs' killer). While we know he's no Laraque (and...thank goodness for that, actually), we need to see Chip bringing that physical edge to his game and hopefully he'll find other ways to keep his spot, for good this time.
+ Travis Moen unleashing his angry self. We've seen his bad side, and it's scary stuff
+ New additions to Centennial Plaza. The central monument has a clean, classy design. It's also nice to see de la Gauchetiere renamed. It wasn't necessary, but it's a nice way to recognize the epicenter of hockey in the city. I mean, the Hippodrome is on rue des Jockeys, the Labatt brewery is on Labatt street, and there are streets named after recording artists, so why shouldn't a legendary hockey franchise get the same treatment? And who wouldn't want a miniature Avenue des Canadiens-de-Montreal street sign as part of their hockey-themed home accessories? (I'd take it over a wooden sign anyday.)
+ The Hamilton Bulldogs starting off their season with a 3-0 win against the Ice Hogs, which is just an unfortunate name for anything.
-3 for injuries to Andrei Markov, Ryan O'Byrne, and Glen Metropolit happening way too early in the season. And for happening at all. If we subtracted a point for all of their jersey numbers, it'd be -97. And I have half a mind to do it because my favourite Canadien is out for four months, but I'll try to hold back.
-2 for two losses on the road, especially getting flattened in Vancouver (but I think it's a general consensus that no one wanted that game to end that way... except for maybe the Canucks.)
- This letter to Stu Cowan, Gazette sports editor, that was actually published in the newspaper. The letter-writer may simply have intended to express appreciation for the numerous Quebecois hockey heroes of yesteryear, but all I saw when reading this letter was a whiny, xenophobic rant about the supposed evils of money and the ethnic vote and I honestly thought we'd be past that as a society.
AND OUTSIDE OF HOCKEY
a PLUS to Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother. She's a total HerWay girl: smart, funny, knows her hockey and wouldn't be caught dead in a pink jersey (we assume). We should be mad at her since her Canucks beat our Habs, but her mini-speech about the 2004 Canucks in this week's episode was made of awesome. We'd still totally be her friend if she was a real person.
a MINUS to public transit, since over the last week or so, both of your friendly neighbourhood bloggers were basically left stranded on their way home thanks to malfunctions of some sort or another. It's just not normal for a 35-minute commute to take over two hours.
Friday, October 9, 2009
The part everyone knew about: listing the names of every Canadiens player from the team's first century.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Determine best-case scenario. Unless it's a game in late March and the Flames (or other team) are on the edge of either falling out of the playoffs or grabbing first spot in the Northwest whereas the Habs are comfortably sitting way up in the East (such a scenario hasn't happened to me as a fan, I don't know about you), don't be wishy-washy about who has to win. Habs. Always. (I was born in '86 and not '89 for a reason.) Whether you want a 2-1 shootout win or a 6-5 goals' festival is something else.
Gather a support team. Watch the game with friends, live or online where your numerous keysmashes (or verbal keysmashes) will be understood. You can be fed popcorn to shut you up from garbling about faceoffs, or cheered up with hilarious emoticons when Kipper is sitting there in the crease looking like someone stole his blanket. The support team is primarily counted on to remind you of Guide Rule #1, no matter how many games Iggy hasn't had a goal (and can you believe some people in Calgary are already concerned about this? It's two games in, for Pete's sake).
Calculate fight possibilities, even the alien-sounding ones. Even if the teams don't face off often during the year, rivalries tend to build up pretty quickly. You laugh about them afterwards (Rookie and I were witness to Plekanec being this close to dropping the gloves with Cammalleri last season, and all of a sudden they're linemates.) but if you're a fan of certain pugilists you might want to think about who they'll be sharing the highlight reel with so that your face doesn't drop off when it happens in real-time.
Have fun with it. Make predictions for scorers and/or the eventuality of shootout candidates. Mute the tv and do your own play-by-play (recommended for some games that don't even have such a conflict, but are only featured on a certain channel with annoying announcers). Create a drinking game*.
Allow for a little grudge period. Robyn Regehr isn't very well-liked by Habs' fans, even if Aaron Downey and Matt D'Agostini are alive and well. However, he is a solid defenseman and generally awesome the other 364 days of the year. You don't have to like what happens during the game, and you can frown a little afterwards, but then again, when the next Flames' game is against the Oilers and certain pesky opponents actually need to be crunched mercilessly against the boards, the spilt milk dries up pretty quickly.
*a guide for a Habs' drinking game, started last season, will be up sometime this year when all the amendments are made. Given that one of the rules was "if Kovalev's helmet falls off, take a shot," you can guess that there will be a number of subtractions, as well as a number of additions.