Sunday, November 29, 2009

Plus Minus: Habnormally Positive?

Before I delve into the week that was, a moment of silence for Rookie's favourite J.T. (I'll give you a hint, he doesn't sing) having gone back down to Hamilton earlier today.

A big, BIG plus for Markov's news.
+ Coming away with 3 of 6 points against strong adversaries this week.
+3 ... for not backing down in any of those games, despite giving up the lead in all of them.
+ Not letting Rick Nash eat us.
+ Carey Price coming up huge off his Second Star of the Week performance.
+ Maxim Lapierre's quote on the heated practice-time exchange between Gorges and Cammalleri. Too much love, indeed.
+ What looks like a resurgence by Max Pacioretty into last season's form.
+ Injured dudes making their way back into the lineup, slowly but surely. Spacek was one, now it looks like Gomez might return.
+ Paul Mara the Alouettes fan.

Having to say hello and goodbye to the callups. Come back soon, little ones.
- Poor Jaro, forgotten about again. Some might call this a good minus because there's no "controversy" this way, but notice how much is said in the reverse situation compared to how it is now?
- Tomas Plekanec in the faceoff dot. He only won 3 of 19 against Pittsburgh, and you saw how the 3rd period ended last night.
- Dave Jackson out for the season. There aren't many zebra-men I don't feel much wrath for on a regular basis.
- Matt D'Agostini still on the sidelines after a couple of maybes and almosts.

Apparently my caffeine intake has gotten the better of me because I'm never usually this thrilled after a week we lost two games out of three.

Oh, and I almost forgot:

The obvious biggest news of the week (that I didn't really forget but was just testing to see if you had): Latendresse's departure to Minnesota in return for Pouliot. I still say it's an even trade, having followed both guys since WJC '06. Gui, for his part, has scored a goal, and we wish him all the best in scoring more (just not enough to put Minnesota ahead of Calgary in the Northwest, mind you), and also that Pouliot's wrist gets better in time for him to show us why he was picked 4th in the '05 Draft.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Remember this guy?

A familiar face, and one we'd love to have back as soon as possible. Apparently, that might happen sooner than we even think!

Andrei Markov skated today, and while it wasn't for long, it was just the kind of encouraging sign the Habs needed after a loss against Pittsburgh that, while not entirely without effort, was still pretty sad to watch. He's aiming for a comeback in late December/early January, but whether or not he'll be able to participate in the Olympics in Vancouver is yet to be determined, or in his words, "my secret."
In other news, Benoit Pouliot was one of the few at practice this morning, and David Desharnais was sent back to Hamilton this afternoon. (Here's hoping his next chance will come sooner than later.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Witty titles elude me today: Game Preview 11-25-09

Well, well, well. The Habs have an almost-identical record to the Pens in their last ten. Hard to have even conceived of, should you have a clear memory of the shellshocker that was the last game that these two met up (and believe me, I do). Ideally, the Habs will show that they have enough momentum behind last night's team win against the Blue Jackets to spur them heading into Mellon Arena, especially after a most encouraging sign, yes, that's right, Maxim Lapierre can survive without Guillaume Latendresse!

RDS' collective sigh of relief may not come yet, but here's hoping he adds to that tonight. (photo courtesy HabsInsideOut)

Injuries seem to be the new trend these days (newest: the limping Andrei Kostitsyn). Every team's got 'em, and despite how many eyes have been rolled at the cliches of saying so, it really is an awesome opportunity for some. Take David Desharnais for example. He's come a long way from his days of captaining the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and being that "too-short" kid just dying to get a shot. With every chance he got, he made something of it--most valuable player in the ECHL, a share of the top point-getting Hamilton rookies, his NHL regular-season debut--tonight of all nights against the defending champs.

These ones can fly

  • A certain someone who I prefer not to name better not duplicate his feat of a hat-trick tonight.

  • With seven points in five games and always dangerous, Evgeni Malkin (this is where my blogging counterpart runs and hides, for she saw the looks I gave my R.J. Umberger-supporting friend last night at the Bell Centre).

  • Despite being 7-5-0-1 against Montreal, Marc-Andre Fleury has won his last two and faced a combined 53 shots in those games.

  • Martin Skoula is ... from Litomerice? Wow, didn't know that. He's stepped up in the Pens' injury woes, notching two goals in a recent game against Atlanta.

  • Maxime Talbot on the first line is a recipe for frustration that the Habs need to watch out for, lest there be penalty trouble.

Small news

photo from

The Habs have called up David Desharnais from the Hamilton Bulldogs. (Potential scandal: is Kyle Chipchura too tall to play on the first line?)

Desharnais is just shy of being as tall as Scott Gomez, whose day-to-day recovery status was announced as "not today." Jaroslav Spacek will also be missing tonight's game, his second in a row.

Also something about Greg Stewart and waivers.

ETA: Carey Price will make his seventh consecutive start in goal and Andrei Kostitsyn might miss tonight's game as he's apparently on crutches. New guy Benoit Pouliot did not make the trip to Pittsburgh.
And some good news: Bell Centre announcer Michel Lacroix will be back for Saturday's game, after a brief trip out of town. No offense meant to the gentleman who took to the mic last night.

Everything seems to be happening this week, right as one of your friendly neighbourhood bloggers is in finals and the other one's occupying herself with her other side project (and should probably be making more crystal bracelets at this moment).

Columbus Day ends on a high note

Habs 5 Blue Jackets 3

That must feel pretty good considering that Columbus smacked us the last time they were at the Bell Centre, and they're more successful now than they were then. (I'm not able to do this game justice, I'm telling you that now.)

What a game. And what a game to be at, and see Rick Nash look like a serious threat to Montreal early in the game and then continue to bring it as his team was losing. (To be perfectly honest, guys like Nash are the reason why guys like Guillaume Latendresse get traded.)

We saw a lot of our Habs playing their best tonight, proving that even with a million teammates out on injury, they've got what it takes to win games in regulation time. Glen Metropolit's goal, the third of the night, proved that. I reluctantly admit that Marc-André Bergeron scored two brilliant goals - his timing is excellent too, because the media needs a new golden boy. Mike Cammalleri, as usual, was awesome. Max Pacioretty continues to find himself this season. Paul Mara played a good game, and gets a plus from me for batting a puck away with his gloved hand. Ryan White got another assist... I'm still waiting for a goal; he's got it in him and I know that. (I loved last night's Hamilton Bulldogs line, despite a serious lack of ice time.)
Tomas Plekanec continues to be the man this season, even when he doesn't score, and Carey Price made some really impressive saves - sorry, ~czechtacular, I guess you've got competition for November's Molson Cup.

Who is that right in front of the bench? Why, I think it's another one of my favourite Hamilton Bulldogs, James Wyman, who was called up Tuesday at some point after I shut down my laptop. You'd think after the Latendresse trade I would learn my lesson and do my Internet stuff in the afternoon. But instead I got a pretty nice surprise.

Still looking for news on Tom Pyatt, who appeared to have been injured at the end of the game.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Big news

Oh, but for those bursts of awesome where he'd get us some points

Guillaume Latendresse was traded. Whoa.

I honestly didn't think it would happen.
He now plays for the Minnesota Wild, and in exchange the Habs have acquired Benoit Pouliot, aka the guy who was drafted right before Carey Price. (So in all this hullaballoo, I'm kind of wondering what would have happened if the Habs hadn't drafted Goalie the WonderBoy. Life as I know it would not be the same.)

Gui was fast-tracked to superstardom even though common knowledge dictates that some extra training in Hamilton would have turned him into the goal-scoring machine that everyone said he would be. He's been underperforming lately, that's no shock to anyone.

Asked about it, Gui said he was disappointed to be leaving Montreal as a city but also seemed unimpressed with the organization lately. (When you've been playing with the team for over 200 games, and over the summer you get thrown to the side in favour of a bunch of new guys with paychecks fatter than your last meal at Burger King, you probably feel a little small, no matter how many points you have. In a way, I don't blame him.)
If we're being perfectly honest, Gui's performance would probably have gotten him traded earlier if he didn't have what I call "homeboy advantage": he's a fan favourite and his parents can drive to games.

Most saddened by this news? My overweight cat (no, seriously) and francophone journalists.

Has someone checked on Jacques Demers? My guess is that he's either:
a) needing serious psychological help
b) crying, eating chocolate, and listening to whatever the old French man equivalent of emo is
c) on a plane to Minnesota
d) learning the rest of this season's Canadiens roster and thanking his lucky stars that Gui was traded for another guy with a French name

In other news, whip out the hairbrushes, Sergei's back! #74 is a Canadien again, here to save us from the misery of having about a million injured forwards.
ETA: Georges Laraque's disciplinary hearing was this morning (over the phone), and he's suspended for five games. I hate to sound mean, but um, I think we're used to going five games without BGL by now. Sure, the timing sucks, but the team will survive. He's losing out on just shy of $39, 000 for those five games, which doesn't sound like a lot, but... I just did my finances. That's a lot of money for a guy who, before this suspension, caused more of a commotion off the ice this season than on it.

It looks like Gainey and Co. are continuing to tighten the rains and sending a message: shape up or ship out. And as much as it does kind of make me sad to see players go (come back, Steve Bégin!) ultimately the team is about a collective, not just one player. And that collective has to be at its best.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Plus Minus: Seeing Red

So this week we played the Hurricanes, the Capitals, and the Red Wings. That's enough red jerseys to seriously freak out Senator McCarthy. (You know, if he was alive and it was still the 1950s and stuff.) What went our way? What went wrong?


Why, yes, Ryan, winning DOES feel really good

+ 2 It feels pretty good to beat the Caps on their home turf. I mean ice. An extra plus for the guys on the ice in the last two minutes of that game for killing a 6-on-4 power play.

+ 4 Maxim Lapierre, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Max Pacioretty for breaking out of their funk (not the George Clinton kind) and playing what might have been their best week of the season (Lapierre's penalty in Washington notwithstanding). The fourth plus goes to Kirk Muller for knowing that Lapierre could win that shootout for us.

+ Is it getting repetitive that Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri are regular fixtures in the Plus column? Lately they've been the best we've got, and I guess I'll just have to keep mentioning them until someone surpasses their current level of awesomeness.


I happen to like David Steckel, so I sort of felt bad for him here... but not that bad

- It sucks enough that we lost Brian Gionta. Then we found out he's out indefinitely because of a broken bone in his foot. Then we saw footage from his press conference and the man we call GG was walking around with the help of forearm crutches and looking just a little bit more helpless than we can handle.

- We lost Gomez, too? Get out your 100th anniversary umbrellas, because when it rains on les Canadiens, it pours.

- I tend to be picky about which sportscasters I like, and this week Joel Bouchard did himself no favours by interviewing Tom Kostopoulos exclusively in English. Come on, dude. When he wore the bleu-blanc-rouge, TK always tried his best to speak at least a little bit of French when being interviewed by French media. Sure, it's clearly not his first language, but he speaks French at least as well as some reporters speak English, so he gets an A for effort.

- Oh, Georges Laraque. I want to be happy that you're back, honestly, I really do, but it's hard when you don't put your brute force to good use and instead give the other team a six-minute power play, and then find yourself being called to a disciplinary hearing. It's your job to hurt other guys, but maybe not that badly. If Niklas Kronwall was a puppy would you still say that you hit him by accident?

Okay, so we've got another encounter with Ovechkin and the Caps next Saturday (dammit I think I'm going to miss part of it) but not before we play Ovie's best friend Sidney Crosby. Maybe if we can get our revenge on Cros for that hat trick, the Caps will give us another win.
What? That's not how it works?
I guess we'll just have to wait and see if I get my wish.

Rookie learns something new every day

I'll be honest, I missed most of last night's game against the Red Wings. Bad Rookie. (And to make things worse, I had actually tried to get tickets to that game, to no avail.) In my defence, I wanted to watch Canadiens Express on RDS after I got home, I really did, but I had forgot that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was hosting Saturday Night Live. That last bit might make no sense to you, but it basically translates to "awesome day for Rookie."

We lost to the Red Wings, and I know that they weren't having the most explosive season of all time, but neither are we, and in recent seasons Detroit has been more successful than us anyway. I don't need to explain what happens when Pavel Datsyuk hits the ice.

I'm just surprised that we couldn't score more often on a goalie named Clint Jimmy Howard.

I also didn't know that drawing a six-minute penalty was possible. Does this mean I should thank Georges Laraque for enlightening me?

Now that we lost, is whatever's left of Team Halak (you know, the people who root for Jaro because they actually like him all the time, not just when it's most convenient) going to get another day in the sun? Will #31 be watching from off-ice again? Is the goalie controversy/firestorm/excuse to sell newspapers and ad time going to come back with a vengeance?

Is Travis Moen awesome or misguided because he played on an injury?

Is the new "all eggs in one basket" line of Cammalleri-Plekanec-Kostitsyn the best idea that Jacques Martin has had, or will that much awesome cancel itself out?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Caps got busted!

We didn't quite see enough of this... and I hope my saying that didn't totally jinx us for November 28th.

So, a team weakened by injuries that's been doing okay played a team weakened by injuries that is the Washington Capitals.
Oh, and also Scott Gomez disappeared at some point in the third period, and if this is another injury I'm going to scream, even though without Brian Gionta he's kind of like a sandwich without meat. (He's bread... and don't get me wrong, bread is awesome, but fans cannot live on bread alone.)

A few highlights:

  • Even though he's just back from injury, Ryan O'Byrne looks like he's back on track, and played pretty well, especially considering that the last time he played his linemate, Marc-Andre Bergeron, wasn't even a Hab yet.
  • Georges Laraque's first game in, oh, centuries saw him getting into fisticuffs with John Erskine, and how.
  • Alexander Ovechkin appeared to almost be playing it safe; it only makes sense since he came back from injury this week, but Ovie is not one to play it safe.
  • Our second line. That seems to be one of the constants on our team: a second line that produces when they play well. Mike Green's attempted punch to Tomas Plekanec's head, I think, proved that. However, I sincerely hope that Green doesn't try that again, for his own good.
  • Birthday boy Max Pacioretty is definitely continuing his return to form (despite that unfortunate miss). His skill and speed are going to be very useful if the injury fairy keeps kidnapping his teammates. (By the way, Max shares his birthday with Super Dave Osborne and a Beastie Boy
  • Tom Pyatt's first-period breakaway and almost-goal*. I would have loved to see that puck go in, but I say that about every breakaway that doesn't light that lamp.
  • We did, however, draw a few penalties that shouldn't have happened. I don't quite understand what happened with Gorges pushing David Steckel, causing a domino effect and toppling Carey Price, so let's not go into that. I would have thought that Guillaume Latendresse wouldn't try to stupidly hook someone two games after very nearly getting benched, but I'm the first person to admit that Latendresse (presumably) knows a whole lot more about hockey than I do. Maxim Lapierre's penalty at the end of the third could have ended badly, but instead caused nothing more than an impromptu Canadiens garage sale with sticks and helmets falling all over the place during the PK.
Now while a wicked 21st birthday for Patches and a postgame celebration are in order, let's hope that this postgame high and traveling back home don't tire our Habs out too much because the Red Wings might be desperate tomorrow. At least we'll have home ice advantage and the announcing talents of Michel Lacroix, who doesn't sound like my laptop when he speaks. (They couldn't find a better orator in all of Washington, D.C., capital of the United States? Seriously?)

*Almost-Goal: abbreviated "ALG," a term that is not yet officially in NHL lexicon, whose success rate lies somewhere between a regular shot on goal and a goal. It's almost a goal. For further examples, see Christopher Higgins near the end of last season.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Now's a good? bad? time as any...Game Preview 11-20-09

Let's not dwell on the basics. You don't really need to look up the standings to know where Washington is and where the Canadiens are. If you have a general knowledge of hockey or, at the very least, been watching since the start of the season, you're groaning at the prospect of this game. I, for one, cringe at the fact that it's on a Friday. While it's been awhile since we've had one of those, I remember being fourteen and skipping Friday kickboxing classes only to watch my dear Habs come up repeatedly with, at best, an ECHL-calibre showing. The Habs are long past those days and coming off a win on Tuesday, sure, but there was more intensity in last night's Battle of the Basement Teams of the East*. Ladies and gentlemen, can you tell I'm not very optimistic? At the same time, the 'Yotes may not be as powerful as the Caps, but despite Phoenix's still-impressive record, Montreal were the ones who yanked a "W" that night, and the same might be in store for this matchup.

But then, there is this guy.

Capital Offense (and defense, and goalies)
  • I don't even think I need to say it, but Alexander Ovechkin.
  • Tomas Fleischmann. You roll your eyes because you knew that I of all people would be the one to put him this high in this category. Here's one figure that doesn't lie: out of his 21 shots, 7 are goals. For the math-unconscious that's a 33% shooting percentage, best in the entire NHL.
  • I may not be a fan of his days with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan but there's no questioning Mathieu Perreault's abilities. The former Q-league MVP is looking to make the most of the injury problems currently hounding the Caps.
  • Looking to make his NHL debut is John Carlson. The ex-London Knight blueliner is sound in his own zone (+14 in 17 games in the AHL) and also boasts ten points.
  • The question remains in net, where it could be one of two 21-year olds. Semyon Varlamov is most famous for bringing Washington to the Eastern Final, while little Czech Michal Neuvirth, a recent call-up, is also a recent Calder Cup winner.

To my understanding of the Capitals' current woes, there won't be a Semin, Jurcina, Laing, Gordon, Knuble or Morrisonn tonight. The Habs are looking to prove themselves despite their own injuries, and this is a good opportunity as any to do so.

*for those that missed it: the hell-match between Toronto and Carolina last night.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Okay, the bad news first:

Our good karma hasn't come back and we've lost Superman. It turns out that Brian Gionta's lower-body injury is a broken bone in his foot and he's out indefinitely. (There are rumours that "indefinitely" is code for "about five weeks," which is sounding a whole lot better than "never ever" right about now.) Apparently he played until he just couldn't anymore, so I don't know how long this has been plaguing him, but his tenacity proves that he might just be Superman.

Still, this news comes mere days before we visit the Capitals, and I feel like Washington is one of those cities where you don't want to be without one of your top goal-scorers.

I don't remember hearing any updates on Matt D'Agostini's health yet, and as much as I want to know what's going on, I also hope that he's getting the rest and therapy he needs before he even thinks about getting back on the ice.

In other sports news, Impact captain Mauro Biello is set to announce his retirement. But he can't retire because I'm going to miss him!

Okay, let's move on from the Italian boys (sorry, Daddy, but there's other news to report) and get to some good news:

Here's hoping that a killer shot on net will be a catalyst for Maxim Lapierre's much-needed turnaround. I don't know why he hasn't been as awesome this season as he was last, but after that shootout you can't give up on him.

Speaking of players other people were ready to give up on, I wonder if certain fans and people in the media feel dizzy after pulling such a quick 180 on Carey Price. Now, I think that after basically embarrassing a few Hurricanes, he deserves to hear some kind words... I'm just confused that some of those words are coming from the same people who were ready to see him go a mere two weeks ago. But I guess if there was no "scandal" in goaltending, some of those people would be unemployed.
All this to say that Price was fantastic during last night's shootout. Good enough, anyway, to take attention away from whoever may not have performed so well in yesterday's game. I'm glad to see people giving credit where it's due.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I saw a ghost today in Brossard

Hey, Georges. Been a while. What's going on?

Laraque and Ryan O'Byrne skated at practice this morning, and both stayed after most of the team was gone for some extra drills.
According to Habs Inside/Out, O'Byrne probably won't be playing until the weekend. I'd rather have a fully healed defenceman on the ice than someone who think he's well enough to play and risks aggravating the injury and missing even more games later on in the season, but the longer he stays away from the ice, the harder it'll be to get back up to speed, so... I don't know.
According to me, Laraque did some errands after the practice. I was surprised to see him at practice, so obviously I was in slight disbelief when I walked into a store and saw Georges Laraque. So, uh, I'd like to extend my thanks to the buyer at Future Shop in Quartier Dix30 for not ordering what we were looking for and making us go to another store.

Brian Gionta is still out (apparently he was limping a little at last night's Pour toujours les Canadiens premiere) so his spot on the expensive first line will be taken by Glen Metropolit, who took to the net and played some baseball this morning at practice. No, seriously. I don't have any good pictures to show you, but he picked up his stick and started batting away pucks. What a guy.

Carey Price is in nets tonight, and we'll see if he'll be as stellar on home ice as he's been the last two games. (Personally, I hope so... not only for the team but just to show those people who call themselves fans and say they don't jump on bandwagons, but still call their favourite team "garbage" and refuse to watch tonight's game. Yes, if you're wondering, I've actually met someone like that, who seems to think that the Habs are a later season of Heroes.)

Tom Kostopoulos is back in town, and we'll see if I still miss the scrappy, unintentionally funny workhorse.

Sergei Samsonov is back in town (I think) and we'll see if he has yet passed the statute of limitations for booing of former Habs.

Here are some of my pictures:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Two weeks' worth of + and -

It's been about twelve hours since the Habs' flight from Nashville landed, and they're probably resting as I type this since this morning's last-minute practice probably took out whatever was left from a presumably weary team. Brian Gionta wasn't on the ice this morning, and we're really hoping that whatever's plaguing him is going to disappear quickly.

I'm back after taking a week off from +/-, and quite a bit has happened so let's get to it. I can't call myself a "journalist" and not act like one, right?


+ First and foremost to Mike Cammalleri, whose "Cammy's Heroes" program gives a pair of game tickets to members of the Armed Forces. It's a fantastic idea and a charitable gesture, and I don't know why no one else had thought of it before. Dave Stubbs also gets a plus, not just for spotlighting Cammy's generosity and humility but for doing so in an article that surpasses pretty much anything else he's written, and that's saying something. I don't think I've ever cried reading a newspaper before.

+ In keeping with the same theme, Carey Price's Remembrance Day mask was both classy and well-designed. I got to see it up close during Tuesday's pregame skate but didn't get to pay enough attention to it (I was a little overwhelmed by my proximity to the ice). I hope it raises a ton of money at auction, and I'd bid on it if I had any chance of winning.

+ Our new guys for their effort. White and Pyatt could have easily been benched after a couple of games if their performance wasn't up to par, but they've been kept in the lineup for a reason. Jay Leach said before his first game that he was mostly hoping to play well enough not to be noticed, but I've noticed him enough to be grateful that we've got another body on the blue line.

+ Injured greats elsewhere in the league making their comebacks. Not that I'm looking forward to the Canadiens playing against them, but it's good to see Malkin and Luongo (among others) back on the ice, and Alexander Ovechkin should be returning this week. Is this a good omen for our guys on IR? (With Laraque skating and Ryan O'Byrne ever so close to returning, I'm saying yes.)

+ Tomas Plekanec, Jaroslav Spacek, our goalies, and all the Canadiens who's been trying to give the team their all, win or lose.


- More random team ailments. If anyone is responsible for what happened to Spacek and Gionta this week, this minus is for you. No, don't be proud of yourself, it's a minus.

- As I wrote earlier this week, the problems arising around girls' hockey teams in other provinces. We started this blog because of what some people think of women and hockey. It turns out that there are tons of other female hockey writers online, so I don't get why people still haven't grasped the full meaning of "hockey is for everyone."

- The band who played in the Molson Ex Zone at the Bell Centre on Tuesday gets a minus for one reason: either you learn to play "Seven Nation Army" properly or you don't play it at all.

- Olli Jokinen, just for being himself.

- You knew this was coming:
Agent Allan Walsh for last week's Twitter shenanigans. It was utterly unprofessional, no matter who he represents, and you'd think an important sports agent and lawyer would know better. Then, to make matters worse, he tries to cover up with a dopey "Duh, can't anyone take a joke?" I'm guessing Mr. Walsh has now learned his lesson, but mostly I'm happy that Jaro Halak is smarter and classier than the guy who represents him.

- To fans who booed and left early because of disappointment at the Bulldogs-Senators and Habs-Flames games. I'm not denying their right to be disappointed that their team lost, but booing your own team shows about as much social decorum as I'm guessing Allan Walsh has.

There were also a whole bunch of occurrences that can be counted as neither plus nor minus. For instance, I got to see Jarome Iginla, one of the first hockey players that I remember deciding to be a fan of, score a goal. Yay. But it, combined with the brilliance of Miikka Kiprusoff caused my team to lose the game. No. So that gets neither a plus nor minus.
Jay Leno would get a plus for having new HHOF inductee Luc Robitaille on his show for a few slapshots, but the very existence of The Jay Leno Show warrants a minus.

Here's hoping for a week full of pluses, regardless of all the red we'll be seeing in enemy logos.

Predators get to us

Maybe the Habs needed a little help from Schwarzenegger on this one. The closest thing we had was Carey Price, and he definitely helped.  I've never felt this pleased after a loss before, and it's kind of confusing.

Interesting fact: Nashville won this game but Price still stopped over 50 shots on goal, a career record. He deserves some credit for saving a game that was mostly played in his zone.

It maybe wasn't quite as eventful as tonight's game in Toronto, of which I only watched the first period and I can definitely say that it's so much more fun watching the Flames win when a) it's not against Montreal and b) when they're embarrassing the Leafs. Within the first five minutes I'd seen two goals, two fights, and five guys hitting the penalty box. I kind of like Calgary again.
I'd also like to point out that the Air Canada Centre is definitely not cool enough to be blasting "Fight For Your Right" during a video montage, and that the lack of Beastie Boys during Habs games needs to be rectified. Can someone get on that? (And while we're on the subject, get well soon, MCA! From what I know, his radiation treatments should be over so I'm hoping all is well.)

As for Habs-Predators:

  • Bouillon appeared pretty at ease with his new team but still gracious toward his old one. I thought seeing him play again might make me miss him, because he played big despite his small frame, and I kind of do miss him.
  • The Latendresse flip-flop. He got benched, which was a shocker but a good decision on Martin's part, then was told to lace up his skates because an injury to Brian Gionta took him out of the lineup. Seriously? A lower-body injury? Didn't he just get over some flu-like symptoms? Someone needs to be taking better care of our Gionta. According to the graphics department at RDS, Nashville has two Jason Arnotts. How? Is Montreal eligible for this apparent athlete cloning? Can we get a backup Gionta? How about a second Markov - to sub in for the one who's injured right now, and then to stay on for penalty kills when Original Markov comes back?
  • Okay, now on to Gui for real: giving him Chipchura and White as linemates seemed like a pretty great decision. It's a physically threatening line (surprise: Latendresse is a big guy) boosted by the speed and agility that Ryan White brings to the table. Plus all three of them kind of had something to prove tonight, with White still a little green, Chipchura back in the lineup, and Gui almost not part of it, so it was an excellent showcase for three young players to show us what they've got. We maybe didn't see them play their best tonight but there was some visible effort, especially by White and Chipchura.
  • And yes, the recently re-elected man of the hour, Carey Price, played a great game. I'm not saying it started with his decision to dust off a country-western helmet for this game (when in Rome, you know... I'd probably have done the same thing) but you never know. He played fearlessly, he was impressive but not too flashy, and he only got more focused after the first goal went in. It would have been nice if some of our shots on goal had actually made their way into the net, but them's the breaks I guess.
Personally, I'm going to enjoy the next day of knowing that our loss can't be blamed on a single player, goaltender or otherwise, and of listening to the sound of people deciding which bandwagon they're on at the moment while I keep my feet on solid ground.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Face the music, Frankie B: Game Preview 11-14-09

Who will save MaxPac from the evil Predators?

This may or may not become a regular instalment, depending on that lurking evil otherwise known as finals. In the meantime: that Phoenix game was pretty bouncy to say the least. Good bounces, bad bounces, Czechs bouncing, three assists! I woke up to about eleven thousand tweets praising dear Tomas, which is a wonderful start to any day especially after The Year That Was (and could this potentially lead to The Year(s) That Will Be, Bob? ...Or perhaps I could stop pushing self-interests in this blog and maybe get back on track).

Montreal and Nashville's records are eerily almost the same, except Nasvhille is exactly at .500 and the Habs are missing a W in order to get there. Ways they could do that tonight: get on the puck first, not depend on special teams and most importantly, don't play the Cardiac Kids card and depend on OT. That may be a habit they've used more than regularly this season, but it's also one that will turn around to bite them if they use it too often.

Elvis impersonators (Nashvillians to watch out for)

  • Pekka Rinne. The youngster doesn't get a lot of fame, being where he is (ie. not in the East), but there's a reason he was here in Montreal with the rest of the All-Stars last year. I wouldn't be surprised if he pulled a Pavelec tonight.
  • J-P Dumont. Because he leads his team on the scoresheet, sure, but the ex-Foreur also accounts for 23 points in 30 career games played against the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge.
  • Steve Sullivan. Probably the only guy who wore Leafs colours that I ever secretly liked back in the day without previous team history to validate myself with, his speed and smarts and determination (he won the comeback player of the year award last season) make him dangerous. He may not be all over the scoresheet this season, but that doesn't mean he's unable to turn things around when needed.
  • Shea Weber. It's not for nothing that Stevie Y has his eye on this young defenseman. He does what's required of him on both sides of the ice; his offensive side in particular is good for third on the team in points.
  • Francis Bouillon. Because last game I only mentioned Robert Lang as a sidenote, and he scored on us. So Frankie needs his own bullet point and here it is.
  • Friday, November 13, 2009

    Where the girls are

    So it seems that while NHL hockey is still alive and well in our country, there are some problems brewing with the little guys.

    More specifically, the little guys and girls.

    First, I'll address a problem that's been plaguing the Greater Toronto Area for a while now, and that doesn't seem to be getting any better. There's a shortage of ice rinks, particularly due to the popularity of amateur hockey in the city. (No word on what team's success has inspired so many Torontonians to lace up their skates. If anyone has any idea, let me know.) There are too many teams and not enough rinks, and evidence to suggest that a city policy giving priority to youth recreational teams over competitive teams isn't being enforced. Girls' hockey teams aren't getting enough ice time, and Toronto mayor David Miller tried to make good by promising them more. Which, in theory, is great. Unfortunately, the only way he can make this promise is at the expense of other teams, namely boys' teams. There's no other solution for now, but obviously taking practice time away from anyone isn't an effective solution. Hockey players, at any level, want to play, and taking an opportunity to do so away from them isn't fair. It's simple common sense.

    However, the Greater Toronto Hockey League, a competitive boys' league, seems to be reacting a bit selfishly to this decision. I'm not siding with anyone in this debate, but I'm also aware of the possibility that boys playing in the GTHL may have the talent to make the NHL someday, and while I don't want to take any training time away from that, I don't think that it's enough reason to give them priority over female hockey players of the same age and skill level. I strongly believe that a girls' hockey team should have just as many opportunities to practice as a boys' team (for reasons which I will continue to list) but I also believe that Toronto has a bigger problem than just dividing ice time - many major cities have had to cut budgets for things like arenas and community programs in favour of things that may seem more vital, like improved transit or sanitation, or wine tastings at city council. But there's a problem in doing so, and until government budgets start to magically afford everything should be paying for, there will always be a problem.

    A shortage of rinks has also caused some crooked executive decisions to be made in Nanaimo, B.C., where a girls' bantam hockey team was dissolved by the local Minor Hockey Association. The association claims that a low turnout was to blame for the dissolution of this particular team, the Mid-Island Extreme, but the team's coach argues that there was no lack of interest this year. The girls who would have played for the Extreme have the option of trying out for a midget-level team alongside girls a couple of years older, where there will obviously be more competition for attention and thus possibly diminish their chances of being noticed by scouts and invited to play for higher-level teams or getting a chance at a hockey scholarship. This bid to increase ice time for remaining Nanaimo-based teams will likely benefit boys' teams, who already enjoy a more favourable practice schedule than their female contemporaries. According to Chuck Blanaru, a lawyer leading the complaint against the Association, "midget-level girls already have to practice at 5:30 in the morning once a week. But midget boys get two practices every week." This last quote doesn't put into evidence all of the ice time that both teams get, but it shows something...

    Dedication. Little boys everywhere who grow up playing hockey pretend that they're going to make the NHL one day and imagine themselves on the ice with the greats. I've spent a decent amount of time babysitting and playing goalie for a tween boy who could spend hours practicing his moves, shooting plastic balls against basement walls and garage doors, and commentating his own plays as he weaved around his cul-de-sac pretending to take passes from Alexander Ovechkin and Alex Kovalev. Somehow, it's easy to see why the dream is more real for a little boy than a girl. And British Columbia has given the Canadiens (see: Price, Gorges, Fancy New O'B) and the NHL in general (Sakic, Kariya, Yzerman) some pretty impressive talent, so I guess a general desire to develop the talent of potential NHL stars can be pretty overwhelming, in B.C., Ontario, or anywhere that children play competitive hockey. But to somehow discredit girls' teams because their star forward will never lead a team to a Stanley Cup victory, and deny them the advantage of ice time or the opportunity to play, just isn't fair. The midget girls' teams in Nanaimo may have the disadvantage of waking up for 5:30 AM practice, but they do it anyway for love of the game. They may never have the chance to make nine million dollars a year playing hockey, no matter how good they are, but I'm betting that many of them are extremely talented and not at all discouraged by an age-old gender bias.

    Women's hockey may not be as popular or as shiny as men's hockey most of the time, but female Canadian athletes have given little girls something to believe in. Take, for example, the gold-medal-winning Canadian Olympic hockey teams in both 2002 and 2006. Our womens' team was spectacularly talented, successful, and gracious. On that team was the fantastic Kim St-Pierre, who's set to make her third Olympic appearance in February. In case your memory needs refreshing, a little over a year ago, Carey Price was out with the flu and couldn't practice. The Habs needed a second goaltender to practice against, and who got the call to come out and play? The closest goalie who had enough talent to play with the big boys.

    And she was female.
    But it's not like things like this happen every day (St-Pierre was only the second female to come close to the NHL and she was present for just the one practice).

    I hate to think that in 2009, female hockey players are at a disadvantage only because their male counterparts have the potential to go further. After all, this is young girls we're talking about. The Mid-Island Extreme girls are 14 and 15 years old. If there's ever a time in a girl's life where she could use something like a sports team to surround herself with people who support her and maybe let out some of her frustrations in an active way, around 14 or 15 would definitely be it. High school is a pretty tumultuous time for girls (as I'm sure it is for boys) and playing with a team, not to mention having a pastime that you're passionate about and releasing endorphins through physical activity, can do wonders for self-esteem. And that's on top of the physical advantages of regular exercise, especially among growing concerns of obesity in North American youth.

    There's no reason good enough to keep girls away from sports, whether as players or fans. I hope that the issues in Toronto and Nanaimo come to some sort of logical conclusion for the moment, until the ice rink shortage can be resolved.

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Oh, those 'Yotes: Game Preview 11-12-09

    Ignore the off-ice problems. The Phoenix Coyotes are 10-7-0 this season, good for 6th in the West. Who predicted that? No one. Not even yours truly, and I happen to think they have a wealth of underrated talent. However, we won't get to see all of it tonight, which for the sake of the Canadiens and their constipated offense, is a good thing.

    The Coyotes' defense has suffered two major losses recently. Ed Jovanovski and Zbynek Michalek are both out with everyone's favourite... lower-body injuries. Michalek led the NHL in blocked shots last year and hadn't been playing up to par recently, so the "week-to-week" diagnosis was more of a clarifying assessment than a shocking one. David Schlemko and Shaun Heshka have been called up to fill out the blueline and have done the job required of them so far, but it's also worth noting that Jovanovski was one of the Coyotes' major offensive providers until his injury. The struggling Habs come into Glendale having scored two goals or less in 11 of their 18 games, including the big fat goose egg from Tuesday night against the Flames.

    (No, actually, it's something I would rather not re-visit. My voice still hurts. You'd think that I would actually prefer such a low score given my particular stance on such a matchup, but not only did we look worse than the Minnesota Wild, I actually missed Hal Gill on the power play. You know it's bad when...)

    It'll definitely be a good change of scenery for the Habs, but in a must-win situation. The 'Yotes are not exactly offensive juggernauts, but they find ways around that to pull out the W. Tonight it'll be up to the Habs to find a way to do the same.

    Smokin' up the desert:
    • as always, Shane Doan. He may have been a bit rattled against Anaheim recently, but the longest serving member of the Coyotes still leads his team on the scoring front.
    • Scottie Upshall is responsible for six of the Coyotes' goals this season, three having been in their last three games.
    • the all-Czech line of Radim Vrbata, Petr Prucha, and Martin Hanzal. The latter's size combined with the vision and craftiness of the other two make for an impressive punch that leaves opposing teams in a hazy stupor until the next morning. Don't forget Robert Lang, either.
    • the defensive pairing of Adrian Aucoin and Jim Vandermeer. Not because I love them an unhealthy amount--I'm actually willing to admit they gave me more frown lines in Calgary than anything. But they've taken their veteran responsibilities in Phoenix beyond many people's expectations, providing an offensive boost on one hand and crushing the opposition's speedy forwards on the other (which makes me fear for my own Pleks' well-being).
    • Hudson native (and also former Flame) Matthew Lombardi, while quiet recently, has also found a niche in the desert after having been tossed from 1st line to 4th throughout his last couple of seasons in Alberta. It's here that I don't miss Hal Gill because Lombo is one of the fastest skaters around the league if not the fastest. Definitely a threat to the Spaceks and the Hamrliks, especially shorthanded. Here's hoping Hamr's memory of having been the one to set him up for so many breakaway goals in Calgary can serve him in a different light as the two face off as opponents for only the third time since that era.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    We're still reeling from being at the Flames game

    ... maybe not that third period, but still.

    Also, the mere sight of Olli Jokinen tends to leave a bad taste in one's mouth, so I'm not posting any pictures right now because I need to brush my teeth about a hundred more times.

    (That, and my camera battery is in desperate need of charging, as it died during the final moments of the game, maybe out of shame because it knew that some non-fans were either booing or leaving early. Or maybe because I went a little crazy during the pregame skate.)

    In any case, we'll write something soon.

    Saturday, November 7, 2009

    Bulldogs hit the Bell Centre...

    ... they didn't win, but I'll survive.
    (I most certainly did not boo them, as some people did, but it goes without saying that some sports fans have severe issues.)

    What can I tell you about the game?
    When I saw the Bulldogs play in Hamilton last year, I got to Copps Coliseum right before the game started and was able to get 6 seats together in the twelfth row, and I had 2-for-1 coupons so the tickets cost something like $14. Last night there were scalpers selling tickets outside the Bell Centre. It wasn't filled to capacity, so I don't understand it either.
    At the time, it had only been a couple of weeks after the Kostitsyn brothers were plagued by scandal and Sergei was sent to the Dogs. Seeing an NHL player that I'd previously only seen from the Molson Ex Zone, now from the twelfth row, was completely unreal. Last night, I got to sit in the fifth row. I've never been that close to the action for anything and I'll probably never get the chance to sit there again, but it was amazing. I don't want to go back to the blues! I can barely even tell you what happened because the excitement of seeing the players better with my own eyes than on the jumbotron was a little too overwhelming. I can tell you for sure that it's completely unbelievable to see the puck hit the back of the net with your own two eyes, and while seeing a few more goals would have been amazing, fan favourite P.K. Subban worked out a pretty nice one. (So far I haven't heard any truth to the rumours that he'd be playing with the big boys sometime this week, probably because now the Habs have Jay Leach... and hey, the last guy we got from Jersey has worked out pretty well.)

    Here are a few pictures, because most of mine turned out blurry:

    Picture worth (almost) a thousand words.

    Let it be known to the rest of the population that wasn't at the Bell Centre last night: I love this man.

    (No. Not Conboy, Russell, or Belle. I mean the man hovering over them, adamantly directing his players for the faceoff with 5.4 seconds left on the clock, having been disallowed a goal in a scramble that can only be described as frantically desperate.)

    Before last night's contest against the Binghamton Senators, the Hamilton Bulldogs were the only team in the AHL that had yet to be defeated in regulation time. Guy Boucher is a very big part of the reason why.

    You're going to look at me and say, "Well, obviously. He's the coach that led your little Drummondville team to their first President's Cup and all the way to the semi-finals of the Memorial Cup, of course you'd love him. He's a man that knows how to win." That's only the half of it. He's a man that knows how to lose, too.

    Drummondville was not the centre of the QMJHL in 2007-08. They were more like the embarrassment. They weren't even at .500, they were at .200. In 70 contests, they only won 14. And sure, there was no Derick Brassard. Definitely no Guillaume Latendresse. Tomas Svoboda and Scott Howes were tearing up the Atlantic Division, and Tomas Zohorna went to play for Pardubice in the Czech Republic. The sole excuse that fans could fall back on was "it's a rebuilding year."

    Ho, hum. Team full of youngsters or not, that excuse was never good enough for their coach. From a man that has battled adversity for much of his life, there could never be a "settlement" with the status quo, nor an acceptance of defeat just because of the uncontrollable factors. He let them know it, he let the media and the fans know it. He wanted more than anything to give the Voltigeurs' faithful the full product of what they came to see, and to do that, he knew his players needed to come out and play. There were practices at 5 a.m., there were bag skates, there was every disciplinary tactic you've ever heard of in the game of hockey. And sometimes, the night before would have only been a 2-1 loss, rather than an 8-2 shellshocker.

    Why? Guy Boucher is a man who values work ethic. If you don't fight hard enough to get even close to that tying goal, your level of talent (or lack thereof) immediately becomes void. He wouldn't shy away from telling letting the media know what he felt was lacking, either. In a single press conference, he can be asked just one question, "What went wrong tonight?" and be able to leave everyone with soundbytes worth an entire newscast. But he's not a man that singles out a particular player. When he's ashamed of a loss, it's because he knows his team could do better.

    It's that kind of mentality that the Canadiens need on their farm club, to not only promote the worth of their prospects, but to band them all together so that if one guy makes it to the Habs ahead of another, it won't be so much every-man-for-himself but more like "that's awesome for him. Now I know what I've got to do to join him."

    Result? The Canadiens' call-ups have all been different this season. Weber. Belle. Carle. White. Pyatt. You try and tell me I'm making this up.

    It was visible last night when the 'Dogs mustered 37 shots on goal, with all of it only leading to more frustration, except in the instance of P.K. Subban's marker. Everyone at the bench was on their feet hoping for their teammates to bury a loose puck, only to watch so many power play chances come up fruitless. There were several points during the game in which goals were thought to have been scored, and Boucher's classic bench-boss intensity--a trait he is known league-wide to be one of the masters of--was very prevalent even in the dying seconds.

    Except that he knows how to use that intensity for better means. He had moved on from the non-goal and was working with his players to try and get a new one, despite the improbability of that happening.

    Always working towards what can be done the next time, only lingering briefly on the mistakes. That's the kind of mentality that owns a President's Cup ring, and that won't be the last piece of hardware that comes to it.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    Big Bad Bruins? ...Bitch please.

    Tonight we saw what was very nearly a win in regulation time, and a pretty nice shutout, but in the closing moments of the game Patrice Bergeron went and scored and screwed everything up, as guys with bad facial hair often tend to do.

    Even though we had to wait a little longer for the win, there was tons to watch during tonight's game:
    • Did anyone else feel kind of strange seeing Lapierre face off against Begin? Mere months ago they were buddies, hitting the town together, comparing home renovations, all that stuff. It was just strange.
    • Speaking of Beg, he definitely didn't go for a Komisarek kind of revenge tonight, but as we know he's pretty good at being aggressive. He seemed to go after Paul Mara pretty intensely for a while, probably because of "You stole my number!"-related frustration, boosted by a potential rivalry about who can grow a better beard. (Sound off in the comments!)
    • Is it bad to say that even though I like our roster as it is, I still miss Steve Begin? I usually don't care when players from the opposing team get interviewed but I was so happy to see him.
    • Not so much punching, but a few decent checks and some words exchanged. Is it weird that I get entertained by arguments when I should be cheering for fights?
    • Good job lifting the net and pretending you got a decent goal, Bruins. The next time I play Trivial Pursuit, I'm definitely not calling you.
    • Glen Metropolit played a heck of a game, didn't he? He's a workhorse and I'm actually really surprised by how much I've grown to like him.
    • Is Andrei Kostitsyn back for real? Because if we can get even just a few more plays like that wraparound in the first period, I might have to take up tap dancing. Pure brilliance.
    • I was hoping for the best in this, beloved Bulldog Ryan White's first NHL game, and he didn't disappoint. He picked up his first point and had a good game overall. The RDS men said it best: he'll be in the Bell Centre against Tampa on Saturday, not against Binghamton tomorrow. (Sucks to be me.)
    • I don't know why Mathieu Carle was on the ice in the last two minutes of the game... Boston was clearly trying to score and no offense, but it's his second game as a Canadien. There's no way he was prepared for something so big. But I'm not a coach, so it's quite possible that there are people out there who disagree with me.
    And finally, I maybe didn't get my wish of a magic sudden flu felling yet another Bruin, but I did get my wish of a solid goalie backing up a solid team. I know the Bruins were missing some of their best guys, but I still think the Canadiens played pretty dominantly especially considering they were outshot 39 to 23. Carey Price made some great saves during the game (his 50th career win - yay for milestones!) and then was as good as one could want him to be during the shootout. Boston was obviously bolstered by their last-minute (literally) goal, but Price and Cammalleri kept us from potential embarrassment. Now can people just be happy?

    Wishin' and hopin': Habs vs. Bruins

    Somehow, it's taken over a month for les boys to hit Boston. It's going to be a big game, obviously, especially for our two newest call-ups, so yes, the HIHW girls are pretty excited. (We haven't seen the Bruins since Montreal got eliminated right around my birthday last season.)

    Usually when czechtacular says something before a game, it happens. That's not usually the case for me, since I don't have her Madame Coco hockey abilities, but everyone knows what they want to see during a game, and here's what I'm hoping for:

    • Obviously, good play from the whole team. We can't depend solely on a goaltender if the rest of the team isn't scoring (see: at least one other game this season). And everyone wants a good show during a Canadiens-Bruins game. Also, we have to win on the road at some point.
    • This especially goes for the three latest guys to come out of Hamilton. I wouldn't want to be the new guy playing against the Bruins, but I'm sure White, Pyatt, and one-game veteran Carle can handle it.
    • I hope Brian Gionta's feeling alright. Same for Jaro Halak.
    • I hope the players who weren't Habs last season pick up the torch and give us a show.
    • I hope that what people accused Hal Gill of - accidental loyalty to an old jersey - happens to Steve Begin (even though it's been just a tad longer since he wore the CH). I haven't watched any Bruins games yet, and have kind of been wondering what became of the Begin-Chara rivalry.
    • I hope another Bruin suddenly comes down with a high fever right before puck drop. Not that I don't feel bad for Krejci (I'd definitely feel bad if he played for a team I liked) but maybe this H1N1 can help us out a little, you know, even out the playing field for teams who haven't been hit as hard by injuries and stuff as our team has.
    I was kind of hoping that Stewart and Chipchura would be our strongmen tonight, but they're sitting out to accomodate the new guys, so I guess Max Lapierre's up to his old tricks and Mike Cammalleri's got to do the other thing he does best (hitting guys as brilliantly as he scores goals, that is).

    Wednesday, November 4, 2009

    Pictures from Habs-Thrashers

    First, some recent news:
    Ryan O'Byrne is skating again. Yay! No word on whether post-injury O'B will be able to continue his preseason trend of slowly increasing awesomeness.
    Hal Gill's injury (the one that doctors advised him to "shut it down," which is apparently not just a 30 Rock quote but also real medical lingo) is a hairline fracture in his foot (I don't know which bone). He's out 2-3 weeks, it seems.
    Rumours that Bob Gainey has spoken to Chris Chelios... thus increasing our chances of seeing his adorable parents on TV.
    Confirmed: Matt D'Agostini does indeed have a concussion. We'll have to see how he comes back from it... I'm still using Andrew Ladd as my scapegoat for everything this season.
    Bad Ladd's captain Jonathan Toews skated with the Blackhawks for the first time today since his own concussion. This isn't confirmed but I have it on good authority that Ladd asked Toews how he was doing, and Toews quickly snapped back "Gee, I don't know. Why don't you ask Matt D'Agostini?" Ladd was reportedly taken aback that a dude recovering from a concussion could come up with a comeback so quickly.
    After last night's game, Mike Cammalleri told reporters something that the city probably needs to know (or be reminded of) about recent Habs losses: "It's not Carey." Right to the point, that Cammy.

    Something to look forward to for tomorrow's game: Ryan White, one of my favourite Hamilton Bulldogs, and Tom Pyatt, one of the pieces of the epic Scott Gomez trade puzzle, have been called up to the Canadiens. Not that I'm not happy about it, but is Bob Gainey serious? I think White is awesome. I don't have tickets to Habs-Bruins tomorrow. I do, however, have tickets to the Hamilton-Binghamton game at the Bell Centre on Friday. So now, two days before the only Bulldogs game of the season to be played in my hometown, they call up one of the guys I was most excited to see.

    Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen will be out for 6-8 weeks, but I doubt Atlanta fans are too worried because as we've seen, Ondrej Pavelec can hold down the fort pretty well. Speaking of last night's Kladno vs Kladno / 31 vs 31 matchup, I've got a few pictures for you, mostly focusing on post-goal celebrations and lost helmets. I asked my sister permission to post these, but if she didn't hear me, well, it's not like I didn't ask.

    Molson Cup winner Carey Price, whose last few games made people forget a pretty impressive start of season. (Yes, I know that Gionta and Cammalleri also exist.) I may have said that I'm not completely in love with the new mask, but I'm betting that Carey's pretty grateful for Jacques Plante in light of that save he made with his face last night.

    The Rocket Richard jersey that Julie Payette brought to space. Someone please tell Guy Laliberte that this is how you do space travel in style.

    Tomas Plekanec's epic fist-pump.

    Evander Kane, who Joel Bouchard expressed his love for. Thanks, Joel, it's only been like five months since the kid got drafted, but I'm glad you have also decided that he's good at this hockey thing.

    Kladno vs. Kladno, Round II

    I'm not entirely sure if the issues with the carpet used to award Carey Price with October's Molson Cup before the game is what caused the entire ice surface to become World's Biggest Pinball Machine for 60 minutes, but it was the setting for a 5-4 loss to Ondrej Pavelec (him again!) and the Thrashers last night.

    Being down the way they were at the end of the first period, I was almost ready to re-live the dreadful Pittsburgh game. But the offense came out to play. Cammalleri missed an opportunity and grabbed it back. Gionta broke free of whatever kryptonite has been holding him back for the last 6 or so games. And Plekanec scored a beauty against his fellow Kladno native.

    ...any excuse to post this, I'll admit

    But as much as these guys were present, the defense was not. Jaro Spacek sometimes makes nifty plays to keep the puck in at the blueline, but more often than not he keeps letting it slip away. Mathieu Carle, personal bias aside (ex-Rouyn Noranda piece of the puzzle that squashed Drummondville's 25th season playoff hopes, among other crimes, but despite this has still pretty much been overrated his entire career, in my honest and humble opinion) did not have a stellar NHL debut. And I still don't understand why Bergeron is a Hab. Presence on the power play? Sure, we need one. But with all the delay of game penalties (Hamr, I'm looking at you) and other silly infractions, that becomes void. And anyway, if we're using that logic we may as well buy back Pierre Dagenais for the shootout. Would you?

    The ~czechtacular household balancing act between Dancing With the Stars and the game prevents me from making further comments about how the game ended. But while I openly tend to lean in favour of Halak, it really is ridiculous how differently the team plays in front of him versus how they play in front of Price. Poor guy, honestly. Mike Boone suggests that maybe Pavelec should try playing behind Carle and Bergeron. Good point, well made. Not that the Atlanta Thrashers' defensemen are world-renowned themselves, but at least they defend their goaltender like NHLers should.

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    Plus Minus: Tricks and treats

    Another week of taking the good with the bad, of getting chased after by Scary New Komo but beating his team in the end, of being terrified that Jacques Martin knows so much foul language but knowing that he uses it for our own good.
    (homemade screencap by my co-blogger, whose name explains why she made it)

    + Roman Hamrlik had a heck of a week, and we like it when he has good weeks. Being credited with that goal against the Leafs and then reacting like he just won a million dollars on Christmas would have been enough for a plus. And then I remembered his game-winning goal from Monday (what? it was a long time ago) and yeah, we should pretty much buy him a cake or something.
    + Cammalleri, Gomez, and Halak saving the Leafs game in a shootout.
    + Dave Stubbs, for including multiple Jay-Z references in an article this weekend. I could have only hoped to write something as creative (if only because my Halloween puns got awfully tired, but don't worry, that time of year is over).
    + Our friend Ava wrote a great blog post on the language issue and how the francophone community is relating it to the NHL - it's funny, passionate, and level-headed, unlike many people arguing in this debate. (You'll have to scroll down a little for "La langue francaise & le CH") Oh, and she also designed the wicked title graphic you see before you, so yeah, we owe her a lot.

    - Thanks, Sidney Crosby. (That was sarcasm, by the way.)
    - 2 for injuries to Matt D'Agostini and apparently as of today Hal Gill (say what you want about that one, but I for one am not happy about losing another player, especially on D). Also Georges Laraque's back is acting up again, and if those vertebrae were a person I'd yell at them.
    - I may have just mentioned the D'Agostini injury, but Andrew Ladd still sucks for hitting him and I'm giving him a minus in lieu of a verbal thrashing, and he only gets a hypothetical verbal thrashing because he's bigger than me and I can't throw a good punch.

    I'm not a girly girl, but a fashion plus/minus is in order:
    + to the guy in Chicago who went to the game in his Naslund sweater, clearly a cherished childhood item that he squeezed into out of love for the game... and maybe its too-short sleeves.
    - to Alain Crete for the tan suede jacket which looks alright, I guess, on L'Antichambre, but which czechtacular and I decided is just a bit too heinous for any kind of serious sports journalism.

    And in closing, here's hoping that tomorrow's game against the Thrashers is another nailbiter (even though it's up against the premiere of V, which sci-fi fans have only been talking about for eons) because my sister gets to go to the game... no, she's not bringing me, but that's okay. (She's getting her revenge because I didn't let her come to last year's Habs-Flames shoutfest with my friends she doesn't regularly speak to.)