Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Things I learned during tonight's game

Apparently Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier were NOT announced as part of the Team Canada roster today. Did you know? I would have had no idea if it weren't for Jacques Demers telling me every two seconds. Because Joel Bouchard didn't mention it, and neither did any of the other guys on RDS, and there was no mention of it on Info Sports. And it surely won't be in any French newspapers tomorrow.
It's a snub so disappointing that not even Tampa Bay's ice girls were able to dance with conviction, acting as if they were useless, overstyled human Barbie dolls with the most pointless job in the universe.

He's clearly an excellent dresser! His knit cardigan skills would be much more useful in international sports competition than Joe Thornton's lousy goal-scoring.

Vinny's exclusion from Team Canada was clearly a bigger story than the unfortunate exclusion of Montreal Canadien Mike Cammalleri, and obviously more important than the fact that this season's star Tomas Plekanec will be helping out Team Czech in a big way.

(He also helped the Habs a bit tonight, but his OT game-winner will be overlooked quickly as soon as someone thinks of another French guy who's not going to the Olympics.)

No love from RDS for the guys who actually play in this province, but I feel for Cammy and Hamrlik and Spacek, who probably would have made great additions to their national teams but them's the breaks I guess. They'll get two weeks off to train on their own, with less risk of injury. It's not much of a reward, I know.

As for the game itself, because yes, there was a game today, which St. Louis and Lecavalier apparently played in between tirades by angry journalists:
I'm very, very happy to have Brian Gionta back, and Matt D'Agostini's efforts merit a mention. He's been getting a lot of grief lately for not producing since his return from injury but he had some good shots on goal tonight, as did Benoit Pouliot.

Team Canada announced!

It took them 12 minutes to get through the introductory hoopla, but this is what's to be expected since Hockey Canada essentially promised us the gold medal this year.

We get photo and video montages of each player through their minor hockey years.

Martin Brodeur
Marc-Andre Fleury
Roberto Luongo

(I guess being named third was a result of Luongo's slow start to the season but I'm not at all surprised by the selections.)

And now, before they announce the skaters, they make us wait. Again.

Dan Boyle
Drew Doughty
Duncan Keith
Scott Niedermayer "C"
Chris Pronger "A"
Brent Seabrook
Shea Weber

(A lot of big names - at least in my opinion - are conspicuously missing, which disappoints me a little... Everyone told me that Niedermayer put off retirement for one more season just so he could play in the Olympics, and that he was a shoo-in for captain, thus stealing the C from Jarome Iginla. Can't complain about the variety, though: there are old guys and young guys, nice guys and jerks... we'll see how that works out.)


Patrice Bergeron
Sidney Crosby "A"
Ryan Getzlaf
Dany Heatley
Jarome Iginla "A"
Patrick Marleau
Brenden Morrow
Rick Nash
Corey Perry
Mike Richards
Eric Staal
Joe Thornton
Jonathan Toews

(That picture of Sidney Crosby as a little kid makes me wonder what went wrong. There are a few names on this list that I'm very happy about, and others that I'm pretty neutral on, but again we have a pretty good variety. Dany Heatley isn't exactly this year's best sportsman, but he's had an excellent season so we'll probably see some good results from him.)

So there you have it. Your Team Canada, and not a single really good roster shot among them. We'll see them in six weeks... maybe with more reactions from your friendly neighbourhood bloggers between now and then.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Olympics and Team Canada...

... before Team Canada is named for this year's Olympics (which happens tomorrow at noon and I'm very, very excited).

A few countries have already named their men's hockey rosters for the Vancouver Olympics, and for the most part it's the usual suspects. Well, I don't know very much about Latvia, so I'll just make assumptions like all real sports reporters tend to do.

Team Latvia boasts only two NHLers (the third Latvian in the NHL is probably fuming, not unlike Swede Mikael Samuelsson, who is an eleventh-hour candidate for quote of the year) and a bunch of really talented guys who play in Europe.

Team Sweden, as I mentioned, has no Mikael Samuelsson (I knew who that was before he fired off that quote) but it does have Nicklas Lidstrom (so far the best captain at the Olympics, but let's wait until tomorrow to confirm that), scoring machines the Sedin twins, and the excellent Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes (who I will sometimes say nice things about as long as he's not playing for the New York Rangers or against Canada). Oh, and some guy whose name doesn't sound Swedish at all.

Team Belarus recruited the Kostitsyn brothers, who have been on fire lately, as well as this other guy who plays for the Leafs and has no face.

Team Russia is um... you know what, I'm going to say it. Awesome. Team Russia, so far, is the team to beat. They have a wicked lineup (my apologies to Kovy for getting snubbed) which boasts the NHL's best players, including two guys who will potentially become NHL captains sometime soon, Andrei Markov and Alexander Ovechkin. Oh yeah, they're also two of my favourite players in the whole league and if Canada loses to Russia in the gold-medal game, I'll probably survive.

Team Slovakia, as expected, named our Jaroslav Halak as goaltender today. Halak is also the NHL's first star of last week and should not have been pulled at the end of last night's game against the Sens, but it seems like I'm the only person who tenses up when a goalie is taken off the ice. Another Slovak goalie? Rastislav Stana, who has a wicked cool name. The team also boasts former Hab Richard Zednik and the devil himself, Zdeno Chara Miroslav Satan.

We won't find out who's on Team Canada for another twenty hours (keep sending good thoughts to Steve Yzerman so that he'll pick Mike Cammalleri, and I'm using this as an excuse to post the "Hope" poster again), but to tide you over, there's a great game at the CTV Olympics site... find out who your "twin" is on the Canadian sledge, men's, and women's hockey teams.

And now on to the successors of the best sports team of 2009: Canada's juniors won their first two games, and they play again tonight (against Slovakia), saving us from a relatively bleak post-Christmas primetime schedule. Or, you know, you can wait the whole evening for a Zach Braff-less episode of Scrubs.

If I were you, I'd tape Scrubs. (Sorry, rest of the cast.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Superman returns: Game Preview 12-28-09

He defies gravity. I'm not making this up.

Perhaps my title is jumping the gun a little, as there is (edit: was) a chance Brian Gionta may not lace up tonight as planned, but his optimism is a good sign. Roman Hamrlik, for his part, probably won't be ready until the Habs hit Florida. He and Paul Mara were kept on the ice the longest today, according to the report on CJAD this afternoon. Back in the nation's capital, where many traveling Habs' fans are bound to make the trip to tonight's matchup, the Sens are without captain Daniel Alfredsson, Nick Foligno, and (Rookie's "best friend") Jason Spezza, and are 5-5-0 in their last ten games.

St. Isidore-raised Benoit Pouliot plays his first career game in Ottawa tonight while Jaroslav Halak merits his fifth start in a row, looking to be five for five (but preferably not to be pelted with shots as he has been as of late. He's made a grand total of 180 saves over that stretch).

Insert Fancy Bullet Points Header Here

  • My own "best friend" Alex Kovalev has been responsive to his Team Russia "snub" as of late, winning the game in the shootout for the Sens in Buffalo, 3-2.
  • Recently-engaged Mike Fisher had the other goal in said shootout, and isn't just your regular everyday pretty-faced scoring threat. His two-way ability has one big highlight: physicality. He knows how to hit, when to hit, and who.
  • Chris Neil brings the reverse argument to the table, providing his brand of intimidation with a scoring touch. Coming off a knee injury that kept him out 14 games, he scored in his second game back. One of his other four goals this season was in the last game against Montreal.
  • Jarkko Ruutu is also an underestimated offensive threat, particularly in the shootout.
  • You thought I'd forget him, didn't you? Milan Michalek leads the team with 16 goals, two of them shorthanded.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

All I want for Christmas is Plus/Minus

After spending the whole month of December playing about four games every hour, the Habs got two consecutive days off on Christmas Eve and Day. (Yes, even the Canadiens are allowed some time off... Alain Crete doesn't like it. But Alain Crete can't dress himself properly.) So, instead of lacing up their skates, sweating, and punching each other, the men of the NHL got to do just what we did for two days: spend time with their loved ones, open presents, and wish baby Jesus a happy birthday while wishing doom upon that moron who shoved the Pope.
The Habs gave us something to talk about this week on the days that they did play, so here's the week that was:


+ I'll be honest... I'm starting with my favourite thing from this last week: Showing up at a hockey game dressed up as Green Man from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia is possibly the best idea in the world. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the pictures. I only wish I'd thought of it first. There's no feasible way to top the Green Men at that Canucks-Predators game... except maybe dressing up as Night Man.
+ If it weren't for a solid performance by Jaroslav Halak, the Atlanta Thrashers would have scored at least half a dozen goals on Monday night. He kept up the good work throughout the week.
+ Whoever designed the Canadiens PR team's Christmas card this year must have had a blast. They also get extra points for including the 100th anniversary team photo, which in case you were wondering will be available for purchase soon. (I wish I had an exact date for you. Sorry, readers.)
+ We broke the December 23rd curse. And how!
+ We knew that we shouldn't get too excited about the return of Andrei Markov, but he appears to have been the catalyst for the team's improved play this week, and thus Markie becomes the third player to have nearly as many Pluses here as he does in the standings.
+ Junior Team Canada won their first game, an almost embarrassing 16-0 shutout over Lithuania. I guess that new Canada cheer really works!
+ Scott Gomez got five points in two games. FIVE. In TWO games.
+ Tomas Plekanec continues to creep his way up in the standings. I hope he totally smashes Cr-- oh, is it too mean to smack talk while I'm writing a Plus?


- We still have no Brian Gionta, no Roman Hamrlik, and we re-lost Paul Mara (who by the way gets a minor plus for trying to finish his shift with a gloveless injured hand).
- Scott Hartnell and Marc Savard for their pretaped appearances on The Price Is Right, offering a showcase winner a wicked cool Winter Classic package. Savard (although it shouldn't surprise me) showed zero enthusiasm and personality on camera. I saw more genuine feeling in the Habs' holiday video greetings, which were taped MONTHS ago, before anyone even started thinking about Christmas. And yes, somehow their Price Is Right spot (on CBS, a network with no NHL affiliation?) was deemed Internet-worthy and was all over the next day.
- Can I finally give my minus to the Winter Classic commercial?

It's beautifully shot, but the ad completely ignores the fact that the game takes place at Fenway. Instead, you'd think that the Flyers and Bruins suited up, snuck into a wardrobe and wound up in Narnia. Probably a Narnia in which there is no James McAvoy playing Tumnus.
- I'll be perfectly honest... I kind of keep on hoping that Sergei will drop his gloves and unleash some fury on Mikhail Grabovski, but so far none of that has happened this season. (The way that Sergei has been playing lately, though, definitely makes up for his lack of punching.)
- I may have missed some errors, but the graphics department at RDS was definitely suffering from a turkey hangover on Saturday's game. Typos galore! Apparently there are dudes in the NHL named "Pillips" (clearly Dr. House's favourite), "Pomminville" (awesome, because I love apple pie), and "Connelly" (hey, she won an Oscar!).

We already wished you a Merry Christmas (didn't we? Well, the sentiment was definitely there) and helped you with your holiday shopping.
Did you give or receive any legendary hockey-related gifts? Then tell everybody!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

CHristmas Turkey Hangover: Game Preview 12-26-09

I'm all about post-CHristmas happiness; the sleeping in until past 1, the much smaller lunch portions than the day before, the realization that with the new HD terminal comes TSN2 (and Sweden-Czech Republic is on right now so forgive the rashness of this preview) and oh yes, the Habs have won three in a row and are back on tonight against the Maple Leafs.

The gift that keeps on giving: a classic Hockey Night in Canada rivalry on the ideal couch potato evening.

On the Habs' side, Tomas Plekanec has climbed his way up to the 6th spot on the NHL points' leaderboard, Andrei Markov's return has been a stellar boost to the powerplay and Jaroslav Halak has put on a clinic in goal, posting a .973 save percentage in his last three games. That's 133 saves, folks.

They won 3-0 last time...

  • ...and last time, I also highlighted Niklas Hagman. The Leafs haven't been part of many high-scoring matchups recently, but he has been a big part of all of them.

  • The usual ex-Hab suspects: Mike Komisarek and, recently named to Belarus' Olympic team, Mikhail Grabovski.

  • With 2 assists in Toronto's recent 3-0 win over Montreal, Phil Kessel will look to be an offensive threat once again tonight. He also has 11 points in 14 home games this season.

  • The Czech Republic's NHL offensive runner-up (behind Plekanec, naturally) is Leafs' defenseman Tomas Kaberle. While only three of these points are goals, he's been the setup man on 31 occasions.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A victory for the rest of us: Thoughts on Habs v Canes

Tell any Habs fan that there's a game on December 23rd and they'll groan. The curse of the 23rd is something I knew about even before I could name the entire Habs' roster. (Or half of it, for that matter.) A lot of people probably thought the team was doomed.

Get it? Bad day, and a goalie mask? ...I've got better jokes, I swear

About the first: 
So, we've scored four goals and kicked Cam Ward out of his own house. Jaroslav Halak is in fine form and a lot of our forwards are playing spectacularly. I'm feeling a little less nervous.
Benoit Pouliot apparently thought his roster photo was some kind of a mug shot, judging by his terrorist-like stare and unflattering beard. (I'm not the girl to ask for actual information on him, unfortunately.)
Scott Gomez picked up a couple of assists to go along with the penalty he got on his birthday. (I got a laptop case for my last birthday. I didn't have to sit in a box to get it.)

The Team Canada roster doesn't come out for another week? That's a long wait! I don't want to wait that long. At least Cam Ward has a bit more time to make up for this first period.
Jacques Demers is pleased because Tomas Plekanec is poised to crack 100 points this season if he keeps up his wicked season. Or something, I was too busy shielding my eyes because I hate the wood-laminate background that the analysts sit in front of for away games.
Oh! Another RDS graphics bobo... they wrote in the wrong team when summarizing some stats before the beginning of the second. I know it's mean of me to point these things out, but if Benoit Brunet notices a mistake it's got to be somewhat noticeable, right?

About the second: 
Pouliot had an almost-goal, and then fell all over a bunch of dudes. Still, it was a pretty solid almost-goal.
Okay, yes, people have been saying that Matt D'Agostini hasn't been playing well enough, but how many guys come back from a concussion with guns blazing?
Carolina tried to make the best of their power play, but our PK and our goalie just won't let it happen.
Andrei Markov got a penalty for delaying the game, but as long as no one gets a puck to the head, he should get a hug from whoever catches the puck instead.
Aaron Ward got a penalty... Carolina has TWO Wards? Now, that's just confusing. They have one of the Staals, one of the Jokinens, one of the Ruutus (or they used to), and the other Conboy in their system. So... usually they're the team of other white meats, but this whole "two Wards" thing is throwing everything off.
GLEN METROPOLIT SCORED! The game is now 5-1. Gomez picked up an assist on that goal, making it a three-point night. You've got until Boxing Day to get your free chicken wings.

I don't think I'll ever like Joel Bouchard's bit with the replays and the John Madden pen. His candy-cane tie would look adorable on my dad, who is the master of funny ties, but my dad is not a sportscaster. (Also I think he already has a tie with Santa Claus on it, and two Christmas ties is just overkill.)
So, apparently, if you've got a game in the bag you can give anyone a chance and increase their ice time, or at least that's what the analysts said during Temps d'arret. Hopefully some guys won't run away screaming.
PJ Stock was in a commercial wishing me de joyeuses fetes. Now THERE'S someone I would have invited to my gag gift exchange this year.
Renaus Lavoie interviews Benoit Pouliot, who admitted to being nervous about the game but feels good now, even though he doesn't know the score. He's still got a bandaged-up hand, which makes me nervous, but he seems comfortable enough being interviewed, which is good since he'll be getting a lot of attention from the French media.

About the third:
It always freaks me out to see Glen Metropolit when he uses smelling salts.
Tom Kostopoulos and Georges Laraque shared some words. At the risk of sounding like a traitor, I'm Team TK on this one. He's indestructible.
I thought I was imagining it, but seriously, this game official has the most annoying voice I've ever heard come out of a man. Sorry.
Someone made Hal Gill angry, apparently, and a minor tussle erupts. Benoit Brunet calls someone a jerk as Gill heads for the box (cross-checking).
Carolina has some serious beef with Gill! What's up with that?
Carolina almost scores, but hits the post.
Just over 5 minutes to go, and it would appear that the stands are already starting to empty. Good to know that that happens in other arenas too.
A puck flies through the air and Halak catches it like this is a baseball game or something. It's brilliant.
Seeing a number 36 apparently causes our commentators to believe that D'Agostini is Jokinen... they've been on his back all night but that's one burn that might leave a scar.
But the game ends 5-1, so our team can shake off the curse, and skate off the ice smiling like it's Christmas. Oh, wait...

Butch Bouchard, he of the overdue jersey retirement, played in the Habs' last December 23rd victory (in 1945!) and expressed his faith in this year's Habs to crank out a win tonight, and they did. Butch Bouchard is now one of my favourite cheerleaders. The ice girls in Carolina can keep their belly shirts and Santa hats to themselves.

And there you have it. No painful loss, no "coulda been watching Glee repeats" from me, and no Festivus Airing of Grievances. And Scott Gomez gets to blow out his candles cheering.

Not the montage again, please: Game Preview 12-23-09

It is December 23rd.
The Canadiens are on the road.

I honestly don't intend to make my game previews start out on such depressing overtones, but this is a dreaded point of contention in my being able to celebrate CHristmas. Our beloved Tricolore hasn't won a game on this date on the road since 1945, a fact that has been brought up continually and practically glorified by sets of frightful videoclips and features on Habs I/O that don't do much in the way of inspiring us fans, because Scott Gomez is hardly Elmer Lach.

Then again, the Carolina Hurricanes are also not the Cup finalist Bruins of 1945-6. And the Habs are on a two-game winstreak.

They can still score goals, however, which is what seems to be confusing to this Panther.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...
  • Matt Cullen has 23 points in 29 games against Montreal in his career.

  • Ex-Hab roster search finds us a Tom Kostopoulos. Anyone got a clue who that is? Actually he's got respectable numbers for a third-liner on a team who is 9-21-6.

  • Unfortunately, he's not the only ex-Hab. Everyone's favourite CHristmas elf, Sergei Samsonov, is there as well. He's scored in the last two games for the Hurricanes.

  • Cam Ward isn't quite having the best season, but he's picked up wins for his team at a better pace as of late, and launched his career as the Habs' worst enemy. And need I remind you what date it is?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In case the sign wasn't enough

After the final buzzer tonight--or the final verdict, that is (and thanks, MAB, guess I'm really going to have to be nice to you now),

this guy

has only one less point than

this guy.

Taking notes, Bob?

Actual game buzz now: there is absolutely no way that our team can generate 23 shots on net compared to FIFTY and win every night. I'd call it a pure stroke of luck but I'd be insulting the man between the pipes with a number 41 on his back. If this were Thanksgiving I'd put Jaroslav Halak on my thank-list ahead of my own brother. (And contrary to typical sibling rivalries, that is actually a big deal.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Plus/Minus: Andrei Markov's birthday edition

We didn't exactly write very much this week, but finals and 50-hour workweeks will do that to a blogger. I'll do my best to cover the week that was. Geez, I'm posting this later than usual too. I suck.


+ Apparently it's better to give than to receive, and our #79 gave us a present for his birthday, which is today. (Don't they do that in Lord of the Rings? Thank you, Viggo!) Not only did he come back, but like a movie hero, he went all "Yippee-ki-yay" on the Islanders. I know I'm getting too excited too quickly, but I missed him so much that I very nearly did cartwheels when I found out he'd be playing against the Islanders... except I can't do cartwheels. Sorry, Marky.

+ I'll give an additional plus to our win over the Islanders. They deserve it. Marky might have been John McClane, but not even McClane can do everything on his own.

+ Andrei Kostitsyn had a great week.

Anything but peace on earth and goodwill toward men

- So we lost quite a few games this week. Yes, it sucks, and yes, it doesn't make sense when our team is composed of such outstanding players. But I hate it when journalists try to look for someone to pin the blame on if there isn't anyone, and suddenly change their tune if anyone in particular doesn't save the team's ass (because that's not always going to happen). And guess what, people? Losing is just as hard on the players as it is on the fans, and constantly asking them what went wrong just makes it suck more. For me.

- Wow... so the same people who very nearly cried when Guillaume Latendresse was traded, decided to boo him upon his return to the Bell Centre? I know booing is fun, but it didn't really make sense.

- So, is this like a revolving door of defencemen, that we get Markov back in the same week that Roman Hamrlik is injured?

- I always thought it might be entertaining, or at least somehow funny, to have a gossip mill for hockey like TMZ or Just Jared cover Hollywood, but let's be honest. It's filthy when gossip rags talk about movie stars (or reality TV personalities), and it's at least that bad when people try to cover hockey the same way. If we ever try to start a rumor, or get all TMZ up in here, someone please slap us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

One Island, Two Teams: Game Preview 12-19-09

(Cut me some slack with the title. I don't even remember the last time I did one of these.)

Oh right, picture.

Scary! Or maybe not. The message here should be "beat us, and watch out for your equipment van." But that's slightly too ominous (and fire isn't funny, kids) so we'll stick with these two simple words:


In addition to this much-awaited comeback, there may be hope for another Czech sausage pass, as Roman Hamrlik may also make a return to the lineup tonight. There are too many conflicting reports of that in my Gmail inbox so I will merely shrug my shoulders and wait until 7:08 like the rest of you.

Also making the trip is Superman er, Brian Gionta. It's like Santa took a giant sparkly box with a CH logo and gave a piece of it to every Canadiens' fan.

As for the Islanders, they are young, they are motivated, and definitely not to be taken lightly, even if the last two games against them have been W's for the Habs' record. Both teams are starved for offense lately, with the top guns having slowed down their points pace (save Andrei Kostitsyn, the man responsible for 63% of the Habs' goals over the span of the last four games).

So now we talk about them Islanders

  • For those hiding under a rock for the last three years, the young man pictured up there is John Tavares. He's going to want to get fired up again, as his last contribution to the scoresheet was an assist in a win against Boston last week. He seems to like Saturday night games, as 11 of his 27 points have been on Saturdays.
  • Blake Comeau, for his part, showed he did not enjoy his recent time in the pressbox. Of the last four games he's suited up for recently, he's registered a point in three of them.
  • Frans Nielsen was a key in Thursday night's loss against the Rangers with one goal, one assist.
  • Ex-Hab mention in today's column of course goes to Mark Streit, who despite the rough go he seems to be having this season is always somebody to look out for, especially with Montreal's recent penalty-taking tendencies.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Game That Wasted A Perfectly Good Sign

Picture quality nonwithstanding.

Tonight's game, much like the last five, have given me no reason to wish for anything but starting the entire team from scratch and/or hiring hitmen to discreetly take out as many opposing players as possible to make a team forfeit because they're wondering "how did we suddenly lose so many players?" Actually, one hint may be this weather, but according to all reports (at least 21, 271 of them--yes, the two seats next to me were actually empty) no members of the Minnesota Wild perished from frostbite. Shame.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have at last erupted from my academic coma. It is not to announce great things, however. The Habs have lost their last five in a row and tonight was just one of those examples where everything went wrong, and no one was good enough no matter how desperately they pushed at the net (or from it). The recluse of the penalty box was not as prominent an option to avoid the pinball-puck waiting for every man wearing a CH this time around, but boy was it noticeable that Hamrlik wasn't there. So few powerplays leave the frightening reality that goes by the name of Marc-Andre Bergeron. Not that I can pin the blame entirely on him (as much as I'd enjoy that). The Habs never typically do well around this time of year, and as much as this year would love to be different, it hasn't. (And all I can hope for in my temporary long distance from my mini-calendar is that we don't have the fateful December 23rd game this year. Please tell me we don't. Please. I can see the RDS montages now.)

The only thing that warranted any laughs were the Annie Villeneuve-chants. He's no Sidney Crosby or Mike Komisarek to the Bell Centre crowd, but there's definitely no shortage of ways to pick on LaTender.

Either the best or worst thing happens now. A ridiculously long roadtrip. The maybe not-so-good thing is the "inferior" (for now) teams the Habs will face along the way. They tend to save their best for Ovechkin, or centennial games that I miss because I'm at a game of my own, or something. But here's hoping the CHristmas cheer will extend far enough to break out of this slump. Spike the eggnog, ring the bells, tear the wrapping paper, find some W's, and climb those standings, boys! It's my new CHristmas wish. One I'd like to share with all Habs' fans.

Monday, December 14, 2009

...still no chicken wings or autographed T.O. jersey

Ryan Miller, this was not part of the deal. All I wanted was some buffalo wings and a win. Maybe if you were feeling extra generous you could bring Terrell Owens to MTL, since the blogosphere already knows I'm a fan. But, like a kid on Santa's naughty list, I didn't get what I wanted. One day, Ryan Miller, we will solve you. Mark my words.

...Wow, it must sound like I really hate Miller, which I don't (mostly because I don't know enough about him to actively like or hate him). He's just my go-to Sabres guy for the moment so I direct all my frustrations at him.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Plus/Minus: A new century

There was no Gordie Howe or Viggo Mortensen this week. There wasn't even a hat trick this week, although AK46 came close enough last night. What was there to talk about, then? Plenty, with four games in six days and more of the same this week. Oh, and a family Christmas party at the Bell Centre!


+ Somehow, we haven't yet mentioned how great Max Pacioretty has been in the last few games. I know, we're idiots for it. Please accept this Plus as our apology.
+ 3 The Kostitsyn brothers and Marc-André Bergeron have also been playing very well on their respective lines.
+ This week's injuries didn't seem to be as serious as we feared they'd be.
+ I guess heartburn is cool now, because I learned this week that Ken Dryden used to have terrible indigestion. I wonder if I can get the recipe for Dryden's magic green goo.
+ PJ Stock gently ribbed his co-panelists on L'Antichambre this week, and it was probably the best thing RDS has given me in a very long time.
+ We're assuming that Benoit Pouliot will be ready for the CH pretty soon.
+ Andrei Markov skated for almost an hour a few days ago. Some people are expecting him to come back as soon as this week, and as much as I miss him, I don't care when he comes back, as long as he's 100% ready to go. The mere thought of Andrei Markov getting better is enough for me.
+ More love for Cammy and Pleks: it was another very good week for team points leaders Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri, who we want to see on Team Canada.


- Dave Stubbs, Dane Cook fan? Say it ain't so.
- The return of Carey Price's Mask of the Red Death. I don't hate it, but I liked the Centennial one. And the Remembrance Day one. And maybe the horsie one.
- Not so good with the Hamilton callups this week, eh, Bob?
- Didn't we already give this a minus? Alain Crete wore his fug brown-ish suit jacket again on Saturday. Do we need to find the stylists at RDS and personally ask them to stop assaulting our eyes?
- I know that there's no easy solution to our two-goalie situation, but if Halak gets traded, I'll miss him (to say the least). My views on the potential trade aside, I think that whoever leaked this story is a moron. Things didn't go so well last season after everyone heard that a few players were apparently being shopped around as part of trade packages. Morale dropped and fans' gums started flapping. Jaro deserves better.
- Chris Nilan admits he's had substance abuse problems but, like the fighter he's always been, is taking them on and has been sober for a few months now. We wish him all the best.

And outside of hockey... (Musical TV Edition!)
+ A delightful 13th episode of Fox's Glee, with enough great songs to tide me over until the show comes back in April.
- Flight of the Conchords announced that their HBO series will not have a third season and, thus, is over. At least the band will live on in real life.

HIHW Holiday Gift Guide: Will you make it on your own?

Hanukkah has started, and Christmas is coming up fast (as is Festivus, you Seinfeld fans) and we hope that our gift suggestions in the first and second parts of our Holiday Gift Guide have at least given you some new ideas. But we also know what it's like to shop for your loved ones during the holidays. It's time-consuming, it's stressful, and it can get pretty expensive. It's enough to make anyone wish they were six years old again so that they can make paper snowflakes for their loved ones instead of buying gifts.

We get it. Maybe you're better at arts and crafts than you are at waiting and shoving, or maybe you're a bit pressed for cash or you have lots of people to buy gifts for. We're big on the homemade gifts, as long as they're made with love. And at the end of the day, you love your fellow Habs fans, right? Even if you don't have millions to spend on them?

This idea came about because of Paul Mara's ginger beard, the awesomest beard in the NHL. If you're wondering why I drew extra icing on his arm... it's my weak attempt at drawing a sling on a cookie.
Glen Met looked like he'd make a great gingerbread cookie.

Part III: Let's get crafty, like #14 near a goalpost
... Scott Gomez gifts on a Matt D'Agostini budget

Cookies! Making the above Photoshop (of questionable quality) inspired me to make special Habs cookies if I get the chance. Put jersey numbers on your gingerbread men! (If you're feeling really artistic, give them home, away, and vintage jerseys.) Make chocolate chip cookies, using red and blue M&Ms or Hershey's Kissables!

Cheap frames and shadowboxes are available at dollar stores and Winners. (You can also check at craft stores but their prices are usually a bit higher.) Make a one-of-a-kind memorabilia frame! You can use anything:

  • Postcards or hockey cards
  • T-shirts and flags
  • Press clippings
  • Game tickets
  • Photographs (if you don't have a superfancy photo printer, take a photo file to a print shop or a photo printing kiosk at the pharmacy or wherever - I'm pretty sure that it's illegal or frowned upon to print a photo that you didn't take, but you can take a chance)

Buy a piggy-bank painting set (I saw them at the dollar store!) and customize it for your giftee. Some ideas: "Bell Centre Beer Fund!" "Season Ticket Fund!" "[Insert player name here] Fund!" (Ovie doesn't come free, you know) "Blue Retro Jersey Fund!"

Burn a CD for your giftee! Use their favourite player's "My Playlist" if the giftee hasn't already got all the songs on a playlist of their own, or make them a Bell Centre playlist (Vertigo, Seven Nation Army, Blitzkrieg Bop, that Coldplay song, and whatever else you hear pretty often during games).

Did you ever make those little reindeer by attaching pipe-cleaners and googly eyes to a candy cane? The Bell Centre Habs Zone has Canadiens-themed candy canes. Just thought you might want to know.

Make Christmas tree ornaments out of... anything. keychains, mini-sticks, those tiny t-shirt things for car windows... Use your imagination.

Go crazy at a print shop! Make a customized shopping bag, pillow case, or mouse pad.

For the really crafty: you can buy sticker paper and print hilarious hockey stickers. Some of the best types of special printing paper (like iron-on transfers and all kinds of stickers) come from a brand called Avery, which probably reminds Scott Gomez of his dark days in a blue jersey. Blech. But still, kids of all ages love stickers, right? One sticker that you can make in multiples and give to all the Habs fans you know: a white letter C. We don't know who the next captain is going to be, but whenever he gets the job, there will be T-shirts that need altering. A "C" sticker will be a good temporary fix until you feel like busting out the fabric paint.

Take it a step further and use these stickers in some kind of customized gift, like a calendar or something! Find a cheap datebook or calendar and stick pictures of current and former Habs on the dates of their birthdays. One piece of advice, though: do your homework and make sure that all the pictures you stick in after July are of guys that will definitely still be Habs at the end of the summer. I had a pocket calendar for this year (an official one, not a wicked sweet homemade one) and most of the pictures in it are depressing now: Komisarek in October, Bégin on the cover... you get the idea.

Do you have wicked good Photoshop skills? Or at least, better than mine? Put your loved ones on the ice with the Canadiens... who wouldn't want to pretend they were there to hug Mike Cammalleri after one of his multiple hat tricks this season?

Use our ideas or your imagination, and we're sure that you'll make something great.

Merry CHristmas!
And Happy Hanukkah!
I know I'm not original at all by embedding this of all videos, but it's the best:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Okay, so we've had better games against Atlanta

Tonight's game was great... if you're an Atlanta fan or Andrei Kostitsyn. (Maybe not so much if you're a Habs fan hoping for a wicked win when a cold suddenly hits you and you can't go out and party. I woke up this morning sounding like a completely normal person, and now when I speak it's like the Squeaky-Voiced Teenager and a lifelong smoker had a baby.)

Unfortunately, something happened in the second half of the game - I don't know if the Thrashers woke up or the Habs started slipping, but it was a pretty exciting game for a while. It just didn't end as well as it started.

The good news is that it's a pretty short flight home from Atlanta and the team will have some time to rest before facing Buffalo on Monday... this insane December schedule isn't doing anyone any favours and I'm pretty sure that fatigue is affecting a lot of players physically and mentally. (And who are we kidding, Ilya Kovalchuk is crazy good.) I think the game could have ended up much worse for Montreal, but a few players really came through for us when it mattered. For a better round-up of tonight's game than I gave you in this three-word post, go here.

Why the hell does the Thrashers staff need an ice girl to help replace a pane of glass? The girl gets paid to wear short shorts at hockey games in a state that's expecting 17 degree weather in the middle of December. I'm guessing she's not an engineer.
... Maybe it was bring your human Barbie to work day in Atlanta...

P.S.: Shoutout to the Ottawa Senators, who saw a flash of Classic Kovalev when he scored a hat trick against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. 401 career goals! I bet Ottawa's hoping he keeps up the Classic Kovy act all season. I do too, as long as they don't beat us in the playoffs.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

HIHW Holiday Gift Guide: more ideas!

I hope you read enjoyed Part I of our Holiday Gift Guide, in which two female twentysomethings attempt to become personal shoppers for an entire legion of hockey fans. (Our parents always told us to aim high.) We already covered official Habs merchandise, but there's more to give, isn't there? We've got you covered.

Please accept this somewhat cheesy graphic in lieu of what I would have liked to Photoshop... maybe something like your favourite Habs dressed up as elves. Sorry.

Part II: The Scoring Bonuses
... stuff that isn't officially Habs-related, but will still tickle most fans

Brownish-yellow gloves. I can never seem to find the right pair of winter gloves, because they're too warm or not warm enough. Plus, if you've got a couple of different coats like I do, you need gloves that can match anything. If there's anything I've learned from the Habs on old-school jersey nights it's that dark yellow gloves apparently match everything!

Tickets to a U2 concert in July. In my opinion, U2 is the unofficial band of the Montreal Canadiens (the Bell Centre brought back "Vertigo" for a reason) and a chance to see them outdoors in such a huge venue just can't be passed up. You'll have to try your luck with eBay or scalpers, unfortunately, since the shows sold out so quickly.

A country-western style shirt or belt for the Price, Moen, or Gionta fan in your life. Yes, admit it, our team is slowly becoming Club de hockey Cowboy de Montreal. It could be worse - at least it's not Club de hockey Cheesy Overproduced Euro Dance-Pop de Montreal! Then we'd all be wearing metallic bodysuits to games. Ew.

Hamilton Bulldogs merch, these days, is pretty much the same as buying Habs merch anyway, and they've added a few items to their store since last season so it's worth looking at if you haven't recently. A few standouts: women's zip-up hoodie (please, Santa Claus? I've been extra nice this year!), the women's long-sleeve shirt (it's less busy than the kids' T-shirt I have), and the rally scarf.
 I should have bought last year's cards and book, but I didn't and now I regret it. That's what cousins in Hamilton get bribed to do, I guess.

Be nice! Make a donation to the Canadiens Children's Fund or to a charity that one of the players supports.

Speaking of charity, Alex Kovalev's got a second training DVD. The first one was a very hot holiday gift - most stores couldn't keep them on the shelves for more than a few hours. The second one's probably just as good, and just as watchable, and since some proceeds from the first one were donated to research into children's diseases, I can only hope that it's the same the second time around. Win-win-win.

Olympic merchandise! I'm crossing my fingers that a certain Mr. Yzerman was paying attention to the newly improved wicked good Carey Price during that Capitals game, so we can cheer for a Canadien on Team Canada. Otherwise... um, what's the Czech equivalent of the Hudson's Bay Company?

NHL 2K10 - you know, the video game with Ovechkin on the cover. We're endorsing this one over EA Sports' NHL 10 with its coverboy Patrick Kane. 2K9 probably costs about 20 cents less.

Shameless self-promotion.  I have another side project: I design and make jewelry, and at ~czechtacular's urging, I'm using the blog to promote one of my favourite creations: the Canadiens bracelet.

It's the official jewelry of Hab It Her Way! Made with Swarovski crystals in the shades closest to the real bleu-blanc-rouge (well, technically, it's bleu-clear-rouge), it's both sparkly and simple and goes well with almost any outfit. I hate to toot my own horn, but I've been wearing mine for almost two years and it still looks great (especially when high-fiving people after awesome goals at the Bell Centre). I get a lot of compliments on it, too! Contact me if you'd like to buy one and we can work things out (my Etsy store is still being set up, so for now I'm kicking it old-school and doing all my sales person-to-person). As you can see in the above photo, you have your choice of a primarily white, red, or blue bracelet, and I can make simple earrings to match!

Stay tuned for more holiday goodies, and don't forget to gift-wrap!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I shake my fist at you, Sergei Gonchar

These dudes look like nice guys. Too bad they weren't nice during tonight's game.

Some notes on tonight's 3-2 loss to the Penguins:

  • Overall, I really wanted the Habs to win this game, just to prove that the Penguins aren't necessarily the better team. (Maybe they are, but one thing still stands: our PK has been improving lately, and Pittsburgh's power play has about as much power as my cellphone right now.)
  • If someone had told me this morning that Evgeni Malkin and Tomas Plekanec would be the main players in the game's biggest fight, I wouldn't have believed them. Malkin and Pleks? Seriously?
  • It happened again that the Canadiens lost, but Carey Price played a good game. And the team didn't play that badly overall, which makes this loss sting even more.
  • Sergei Gonchar caused me pain today with the scoring of goals and whatnot. Almost as much pain as he must have experienced that time in Russia that Alex Ovechkin allegedly punched him in the face.
  • Ryan O'Byrne, why must you draw multiple penalties?
  • Renaud Lavoie's interview with Kris Letang after the first period had me reaching for my remote to make sure the TV didn't mute itself somehow. Low-talker much?
  • At least Crosby didn't make fools out of us again.

Today warrants some extra Bulldogs notes: Ryan White has been sent down. The Habs bosses' mistake in notifying the NHL of his callup will result in a fine. Yannick Weber was called up, but Spacek was cleared to play so we'll see Weber when we see him, I guess. (A raffle started yesterday awarding baskets of Bulldogs players' "Favourite Things," including a basket of Swiss chocolates selected by Weber. I want that basket, badly.) Benoit Pouliot was sent to Hamilton for conditioning purposes, and since we're clearly not getting rid of him before he gets any ice time, I can only assume that he's recovering from his injury and will eventually be ready for Bell Centre ice.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Introducing the HIHW Holiday Gift Guide!

When we were little girls, we'd write letters to Santa (postal code HOH OHO) and tell him what we wanted for Christmas. Then we were told some horrible, terrible news about the man in red, and Christmas (in a commercial sense) was ruined forever. So now we just spend our Decembers shopping and wishing evils upon other December shoppers who walk slower than us or forget to take out their wallets when they approach a cash register. Ever since we entered our twenties, one of our biggest holiday responsibilities is not only to find gifts for those we love, but also to help those we love find gifts for others. So, in keeping with that idea, as well as the awesome gift guides I've seen for pop culture junkies, Hab It Her Way will try to help you find the best gifts for your favourite hockey fans this holiday season.

Dear readers: If you can come up with a better name than "Gainey Claus," I want to hear it. All suggestions welcome. This year, we're asking Gainey Claus to re-up Tomas Plekanec's contract early.

Part I: The Merch
... because there's a sea of Habs merchandise out there, but December is not the month to be buying a CH bathing suit unless you're in the Southern Hemisphere.

After an inexplicably long wait, the NHL online shop has FINALLY made it possible to customize a selection of clothing items, thus saving us the extra effort of playing around on Photoshop and getting ourselves to Bang-On to print our own shirts.

Get creative! Sure, you can write in your own name, or you can get original. Make a shirt with your favourite player's nickname on it. ("Roster players are currently unavailable," according to the website, so you can't use their actual names.)

Engage in some wishful thinking, because players on other teams' rosters seem to be acceptable.

I stole this idea from a guy at the Bell Centre who was thinking about different ways to customize his Komisarek jersey.

Or support a favourite prospect, if he's not a Hab already.

PK, we love you, and we hope that we'll be wearing this shirt with our fingers crossed for a long time. Don't come to Montreal until you're good and ready to win the Calder Trophy like we know you can.

Throwback jerseys. It goes without saying that a retro jersey makes a great gift. Knit hockey sweaters that look like the jerseys are equally available (but not in women's sizes, of course).

We at Hab It Her Way recommend the teal blue jerseys, even though we lost to the Red Wings while wearing them. They're a great colour, a great way to (almost) wear a piece of hockey history and we really, really like them. The women's jerseys are a steal at $89. (Can't forget those in this year's letter to Santa... what? who said that?)
Alternate: The red and green ones look like Christmas, so if you're giving the gift early it's the perfect sweater for a Christmas morning of opening presents.

Very soft and cuddly Habs blankets are available at both Jean Coutu and Wal-Mart.

Want to keep your favourite lady fan warm? I'd wear this sweatshirt on sick days, or out shopping, or to games, or on chilly summer nights. I'm not much of a sweatshirt wearer but I'd wear this one out.

If it weren't just a tad more expensive than I like paying for cheap purses, I'd own the jersey purse already. I've had my eye on it for over a year now. (If you're lucky, you might find one for $30 on eBay, otherwise it's to the NHL online shop or Hockey Experts we go!)

Are you shopping for an amateur skier, hockey player, skateboarder, snowboarder, or roller derby wannabe? Helmets just became cool.

A bar stool for 20 dollars? Awesome. Throw in some beer glasses and folding side tables (at pharmacies and WalMarts and stuff) and your basement is good for game time.

Hockey Fights Cancer stuff is still available, and you probably know someone who can use a snazzy new tie. (Scarves, shirts, and Dream Capsule Kits are also up for sale, but I like the tie best.)

Tons of player shirts are available, so if you're really hard-pressed to find a gift, just go for a past or current Habs hero.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Mortensen.

I think I also remember recently seeing the Patrick Roy goalie mask T-shirt that was introduced around the time his jersey was retired. Apparently there are other legendary goaltenders (like Ken Dryden!) that got the same T-shirt treatment. There's space in everyone's drawer for another Habs T-shirt, right? Which reminds me...

If there's a Sergei Kostitsyn fan on your list, they're lucky, because his shirt is on sale. Unpredictable behaviour? Bad for his career, good for your wallet.

Come back another time to read the rest of our Holiday Guide, and keep an eye on the NHL Online Shop for their daily deals.

Merry CHristmas!

Post-Ottawa victory: So many questions...

The Canadiens beat the Senators 4-1 in a game that showed how well this team has come together. (They'd make Viggo proud!)

yoinked from Habs Inside/Out

But I've still got a couple of questions after this game:

Was anyone actually surprised that Jaro Halak was in nets tonight? Because I wasn't, really, and I'm glad that his morale wasn't affected by that messy loss in Buffalo.

Haven't we hit our quota of injuries for the season? Jaroslav Spacek was hit by a puck late in the first period, possibly aggravating an existing injury. Isn't it bad enough that the Habs played without Paul Mara tonight?

What on earth is this Ryan White deal all about? Did the League really ask for him to be removed from the lineup during the game because of a call-up technicality? (I knew such a quick comeback was too good to be true.) Couldn't they have done their research like half an hour earlier? And if White had completed Sergei Kostitsyn's play and scored a goal, would it have been disallowed, as the RDS analysts said it might?

How happy are you that our special teams have finally turned into something special?

Is it just me or are Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec the ultimate dynamic duo? They have better chemistry than any other pair of guys on the team. (Do we at Hab It Her Way need to stop talking about Cammy and Pleks? Because we really can't help it.)

Speaking of duos, how awesome is it for Josh Gorges that Hal Gill is back? They not only play well together, but they're very good at intimidating other players together as well. Who'd have thought that two of the nicest guys off the ice would be bullying other guys so well at game time?

Did I start thinking about Friday Night Lights as soon as I found out that Hal Gill was quarterback of his high school football team? Yes.

yoinked from, which seems to have some pretty awesome FNL coverage. by the way, rent this show during the offseason. honestly. you'll thank me.

How much does Winchester hate his life right now after a puck bounced off his stick on its way into Ottawa's net?

Why is Scott Gomez's empty-net goal only his fourth of the season, especially after such a strong outing tonight?

Is this a new (or old) improved Sergei? He had a big game, with some intelligent plays, a few thrilling almost-goals, a quicker reaction to Spacek's injury than anyone else on the ice (team player!), and he only missed a few minutes of play after his own injury.

And finally... I feel bad completely bashing the other team, so... how much would you love Mike Fisher if he was a Hab? He was Ottawa's best player tonight and he's hella good. If I knew he'd play like that, maybe I wouldn't have made fun of his girlfriend's Christmas special on Fox. (It was out of love, I swear! I actually like Carrie Underwood.)

If you've read this whole thing before Wednesday morning, hats off to you (and thank you!). You're in for a Christmas surprise tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pick up some Red Lobster on your way home: Game Preview 12-08

Czechtacular's a little on the busy side these days (send her good academic vibes!) so if she doesn't have time to write you a proper game preview, like the one you deserve to be reading right now, my tidbits about tonight's game at Scotiabank Place will have to do.

On the Habs side of things:

  • Jaroslav Halak will be in nets tonight, and I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of him soon with December's packed schedule. His last outing didn't go so well, and he's backing up a team that may be tired from last night, but they're also riding high from two wicked wins.
  • Back in White: (oh, boo yourself... my pun-writing skills just need some sharpening) #53 is back in Montreal after having been a Bulldog again for like, three days.
  • The upper-body injury that Paul Mara sustained yesterday has him out of the lineup tonight, so Jacques Martin has put Marc-André Bergeron back on the blue line and returned Tom Pyatt to the lineup.
  • Good show yesterday!
On the Sens side of things:
  • The Senators are coming back from their sunny California road trip (and we're assuming that all, except maybe Mr. Carrie Underwood, Mike Fisher, avoided the glare of TMZ's flashbulbs). They might be a little worse for wear, with only one win in four games (including a loss against Dany Heatley's new friends the Sharks). They'll probably be hungry for a win, buoyed from their only win in Cali on Sunday against the Ducks.
  • While they may have lost on the road, the Sens have won their last five home games.
  • Ottawa still can't seem to work out its goalie issues, as #1 netminder Pascal Leclaire is still out with his accidentally broken cheek. (Quite the FML moment, if you ask us.)
  • Montreal's sweetheart Alex Kovalev, whom I expected to have an awesome season this year, isn't quite playing up to his own standards, with only four goals and ten assists this season.
  • Oh and also, Milan Michalek is Czech. (That's the only bullet point that I'm sure would have been in a game preview no matter which of us wrote it!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Plus/Minus: it's a big one!

Lots to cover in +/- this week, mostly because the Canadiens organization has spent a year leading up to it. (Not to mention 99 years before that.)


Just for this week, we're choosing one of our glory days and one of our dark days from the last 100 years.
+ March 14th, 1929: George Hainsworth posts his 22nd shutout of a 44-game season, a record which still stands today.
- March 8, 1937: Howie Morenz passes away, the result of an injury that broke his leg in four places.


+ 100 years, all of them legendary, all of them memorable, as much as some fans may want to forget a season here or there. The city's going to look a little lonely without those 100th anniversary lampposts, and while it's time for us to keep history in our hearts and minds but start focusing on the present, I don't think I need to remind you of how annoying Don Cherry is going to be when other Original Six teams reach their centennial years.

+ 2 Elmer Lach and Butch Bouchard deserved the honour of having their jerseys retired.

+ Two words: Gordie Howe. That is all.


+ Guillaume Latendresse has suddenly turned into some kind of goal-scoring machine. I don't know what they fed him on the flight to Minnesota but this trade really has been good for him.

+ Guys coming back from injuries - yay! (We still hate you for what you did a month ago, Andrew Ladd.)

+ to the gentleman I saw on the metro in a Maurice Richard jersey who let me flip through the book that had been handed out at the centennial game. As promised, I didn't get any greasy fingerprints or squished corners during the minute I held it for. I want my own copy now, but somehow can't bring myself to spend the money on eBay (where they start around $78).

+ Jarome Iginla, the NHL's first star for November? That makes us feel a little better about losing to the Flames - there are some formidable opponents in the NHL, and Iginla's definitely one of them. (Had he still been named first star, but that goal had been scored by Jokinen... we'd probably still be breaking things.)


One of the rare times that I've cheered for a player heading into a five-minute penalty.

- Another blog beat us to the "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" pun, so we'll just say this: Kyle Chipchura went from Hamilton to Montreal and back so many times that we're jealous of his Air Miles. I'm going to reference the one and only Bulldogs game I've been to at Copps Coliseum (so far) where Captain Chippy played so well and so aggressively that I could hardly believe my eyes. He was on fire - winning fights, getting points, and generally playing like Rambo or someone too good for the AHL. Yet we only rarely saw this incarnation of him in the NHL, and I don't really know why. So, while it's not like we just lost Gretzky to the Kings, we're going to miss Kyle Chipchura for his work ethic, his leadership as Bulldogs captain, and his reputation as a nice guy.

- 2 I keep on forgetting this one but giant minuses for the newest Mini-Wheats commercial, ripping off the Ole Ole chant and making it about fake strawberry flavour. What an abomination. A minus from Habs fans and another from soccer fans. The geniuses at Mini-Wheats should go back to rewriting Monkees songs or whatever - that chant is ours and you can't have it. I'm never buying Mini-Wheats again. (Okay, that's not true, because I love cereal and I can't believe that something covered in icing sugar can be so good for you. But mark my words, I am never buying the strawberry flavour. Ever.)

- We hate the Leafs and want them to go away, but I still kind of hope that Jonas Gustavsson will be alright after surgery. If there's one thing I'll never take lightly, it's heart problems, no matter what team someone plays for. Even if that team is the Leafs, those jerks.

- Ryan White had a good run, and I'm glad that more people about Hamilton's best-kept secret after his 13 games with the Habs.

- to the person I know who went to the centennial game and apparently missed the pregame ceremonies.


+ to our Alouettes for not only winning the Grey Cup, but celebrating their victory with genuine joy and humility. It felt as good for us to watch as it did for them to win. You're the man, Avon Cobourne.
(Also, our apologies to Saskatchewan. We really wanted the Grey Cup, but don't think we hate you or anything. You did give us Travis Moen after all.)

- thanks for the apology, Tiger Woods, but how about next time, just be honest up front? You know, like you were supposed to be during your wedding vows when you promised not to cheat on your wife?

(The only picture from this post that's my property is the one of Bulldogs captain Kyle Chipchura. The rest are someone else's. Disclaimered.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 4th game = history.

It was 24 hours ago, and the city's centennial hangover has now worn off; by now (at least most of) you've watched the game, the highlights, the TV specials and the newspaper articles. The players, past and present, are back at the Bell Centre all dressed up for the Centennial Gala. (To be a fly on the wall...) Anything else you see or hear about the 100th anniversary game is just a bonus, so I'll try to keep my summary short.

(Ha ha. As if I've ever promised that something would be a short read and then kept my word.)

So, during pre-game coverage:
Fans wrote in to RDS to talk about their childhood hero. The sportscasters would then comment on each viewer's submission, first praising, then shredding each player mentioned. Bon centenaire, indeed.
Chantal Macchabee asks two of the RDS clowns a few trivia questions and somehow neither of them knew that Lyle Odelein came in second after Chris Nilan in overall Canadiens penalty minutes. I knew that. Two men whose jobs depend on their hockey knowledge didn't know that. How did THAT happen?
(Additional bit of trivia: Lyle Odelein's wife played a Fembot in the first Austin Powers movie.)

Yannick Bouchard and Frederic Plante give us some spoilers: first, a quick look at the embossed front and back covers of the books that will be handed out at the game, and second, the news that apparently the jerseys of Elmer Lach and Émile Bouchard are (finally) going to be retired tonight.

Then, Le journal des Canadiens concluded the only thing it's been useful for all year: a countdown of the all-time best players to wear the CH. I'll link to the completed list as soon as I look for it - I've been too busy rewatching all the specials.

We're a little bit closer to game time since now the cameras move from somewhere inside the Bell Centre to the actual ice.

For some reason I can't look away from the very simple animation that counts down to a video of highlights from the last couple of years. My compliments to whoever edited this video, because they did a really good job of "aging" digital footage to make it look like archive film.

Richard Garneau and Dick Irvin, masters of ceremonies for the evening, are now my two favourite people on Earth - their voices haven't faltered a bit.
A montage of the greatest moments in Habs history is awesome: informative about the moments that came before my time, and a great reminder of what I've seen. I'm really glad that they didn't skip over Saku Koivu's return from cancer. I don't care that he's not captain anymore and that he's fallen out of some people's favour - omitting him would have been wrong. It's bad enough that he's not here for this. The video ends with footage of Stanley Cup wins and parades, and it's enough to make anyone want another year of postseason glory, like, right now. (No pressure on the players or anything.)

Possibly the greatest moment of the night occurred when the all-time greatest living Habs roster skated onto the Bell Centre ice. I haven't seen Patrick Roy in full pads on Montreal ice since I was in pigtails. Who had some kind of crazy Lewis Carroll dream and came up with this? It was unreal. I couldn't ask for anything more, but clearly, I didn't know what was in store for me when three of the greatest players this team has seen were introduced before they made speeches.

Patrick Roy, as expected, made a touching speech that elicited endless cheers. (I won't deny that Roy is the greatest Canadien to have played during my lifetime thus far, but I think during the game our current roster did their best to prove that history isn't always in the past.)

Then the most famous Habs fan outside of the city, Viggo Mortensen (or as my brother called him, "You'll never guess who it was") introduced his idol Guy Lafleur in nearly bulletproof French. He was genuinely glad to be there. It was great, as were Lafleur's recollections of his games.

Then, just when I thought things couldn't possibly get any better, Gordie Howe comes out holding a Maurice Richard jersey and singing the praises of Jean Beliveau. Yes, you read that right, Gordie Howe. THAT Gordie Howe. The Gordie Howe whose autographed rookie card would have cost me $500 last weekend until I had a last-minute change of heart. I was completely beside myself. I think Gordie Howe might be the only hockey legend outside the Canadiens that I love as much as anyone who wore the CH, and being able to see him partake in these ceremonies was more than I could have asked for. Obviously, after he was introduced by Mr. Howe, Jean Beliveau made a speech all about the franchise, still humbly refusing to believe that he made any impact on it, and that fifty years after his playing days he continues to be loved by fans for more than just his on-ice achievements.

Elmer Lach and Emile "Butch" Bouchard finally had their jerseys retired (and they only got a day's notice - that's how well-kept a secret this was). I only wish that they had had entire evenings dedicated to them, so as to enjoy more attention and give the fans more time for them, but the 100th anniversary game is as good a time as any to be honoured for hard work. This year's team was represented by Andrei Markov, who I still miss dearly, and Ryan O'Byrne, who politely gave Bouchard the last #3 jersey to ever have his name on it.

If anyone knows where I can get myself a copy of the epic team photo that was taken with the all-time dream team, current roster, and all the other notable former players and coaches that were brought on the ice shortly before photo time, I'd greatly appreciate it. In fact, I'm putting it on my Christmas list like a spoiled little kid.

Yvan Cournoyer was interviewed by Claude Mailhot right before the game started, and all the morons milling behind him at the Bell Center and stopping to wave to the camera like dumb teenagers get a minus.

Wait... I haven't even started talking about the actual game yet? Oh, man! Okay, I'm going to try and be even more concise. This blog has a love/hate relationship with lists. I don't think we'll ever know why we use them so much, but I've written far too much already so I'll try to keep it short, even though this game deserves just as many words as the pregame ceremonies.

Our starting lineup: Three Quebec-born players on forward, just like the old days.
Props to whoever hired the MSO: I really liked hearing a classy instrumental version of the anthems, as well as actually hearing the crowd sing. Bell Centre fans may be loud, but it's not always while they're singing.
Steve Bégin was in Boston's opening lineup. I've been joking for months that he became a Bruin this summer so that he could be at this game. He was a good guy during his CH days and he deserves to be at the Bell Centre for this occasion, even though he's playing for the bad guys. (I think he proved that by winning the first faceoff of the Canadiens' second century.)
Jaroslav Spacek scored this third goal of the season. Only three? It really felt like more.
Maxim Lapierre: okay, he already got a shoutout by being in the opening lineup, but I expected our aggressive forward to do something during a Bruins game, and he shoved Marc Savard to the ice. What more could a fan ask for?
Carey Price was relentless, making excellent saves throughout the game, which means a lot. I didn't really care if we won or lost this game (obvious lie) as long as the team played well, and Price was excellent in nets last night, as this city has come to expect from its goalies. Being on the sidelines last night did him a world of good (and even though I hate mentioning this old debate, it's exactly why we need two good, healthy goaltenders). This was one of his best games of the season.
George Gillett had some of the best seats in the house, and we're glad to have him back at the Bell Centre anytime he likes even if our ticket money doesn't go to him anymore.
Ryan O'Byrne was, in my opinion, very polite during his interview about the Bouchard jersey retirement. Some people seemed to think that he was comparing himself to Bouchard, and somehow implying that his new #20 jersey will be up in the rafters someday, but I think what he was going for instead was simply expressing admiration for a legend that he can learn from, especially this season while he tries harder than ever to improve his game.
Sergei Kostitsyn will hopefully be okay after his nasty-looking knee injury.
Max Pacioretty, Hal Gill, and Glen Metropolit get a shoutout for their sharp passing that ultimately resulted in a goal, and a stick-hand fist pump. If the team can have at least one play as tight as that one during every game (... okay, they're human... every other game?) we'll be more than okay for the second half of the season.
Mike Cammalleri! ladies and gentlemen, please remove your hats and caps. I try not to go overboard, whether I'm angry or excited, but I don't think it's too much to say, in light of this game, that Cammalleri is a superstar. I doubt anyone will be misspelling his name now.

So, thanks, Habs, for one of the best games of the season. Happy 100th.