Sunday, January 31, 2010

Plus/Minus: Ain't no sunshine when they're gone

This wasn't exactly the best week we've seen for the Habs this season. The team on the road was a bit like the weather at home: it started out beautiful on Monday and everyone was in a great mood, but temperatures dropped. A lot. And now it's really damn cold.

Hallmark was right! A hug makes everything better.

+ 2: one to Pouliot and one to Gionta, for scoring the Habs' two goals this week.
+ This awesome work of Photoshop:

Proof that Four Habs Fans can be genius even without an army of hoochies.
+ The Washington Capitals finished the job for us and beat the Florida Panthers.
+ A few extra months with Guy Boucher has probably made Yannick Weber much, much better, and the team needs another good defenceman right now and also I think he's awesome.


- 2 to the damn injury fairy again. (I should probably come up with a sketch of her, but my Photoshop access right now is even more limited than my skills. She probably looks like what a Lady Gaga/Rick Tocchet lovechild would look like, if Lady Gaga had a uterus. So yeah, she's not so pretty and I hate her.) First off, my cat (not the one with the Facebook page) motivated me to give Paul Mara's continuing injury a minus. She's walking around the house saying "Mara, Mara" as I type this. I'm guessing she really misses him.
And now we've lost Cammy to a painful collision. I hate Hockey Day In Canada.
- Another Lightning game, another round of "How much does it suck that Lecavalier didn't make Team Canada?" Yes. It sucks. But if you're complaining about this now you're either a month too late or two weeks too early.
- I'm not sure what makes me sadder: two of my favourite players getting into a huge argument in the locker room, or said argument becoming the biggest story of the week. If there are problems at the heart of the team, journalists and fans aren't going to solve them.

In last week's Plus Minus, I hoped that this week would be calmer than last week, and then NOTHING happened. Seriously, the best thing that happened to me this week was my forgiving actor Jon Hamm for being a St-Louis Blues fan. (He willingly made a fool of himself on Saturday Night Live.) Careful what you wish for, Rookie. I'm currently eating my words like they're covered in chocolate, so no uncalculated optimism for me today. There will be hockey games in the next seven days and then we'll see what the Canadiens will do in them, and then I'll blog. That's what's going to happen this week.

My contribution for this week

Another headline-worthy tidbit of today after Brian Burke put Sunday Morning Trade Apocalypse 101 in session is that Matt D'Agostini is the latest user of the tag "Hamilton-Montreal transit".

My suspicions point to Guy Boucher's magic (with pretty mixed feelings on not being the only one using that phrase anymore). No numbers can tell enough of a story from just a three-game stay, but if the cliche of injury to one turning into opportunity for another has to be used at all I can't really think of a more relevant example.

HDIC post-mortem

Yesterday was my first Hockey Day In Canada, since I missed it last year, and I only missed part of it this year, but I'm pretty sure that I don't actually like it as much as I thought I did.

I couldn't bring myself to post a picture of ailing Cammy, but luckily I found this one picture from yesterday before the injury

By now you know what happened to Mike Cammalleri, who has not missed a single game yet this season, and that it sucks. We'll know exactly how much it sucks when his MRI results come out. We'll stay tuned for post-practice interviews and announcements tomorrow. That's probably when the bomb drops.

And the Habs lost. And Hockey Day In Canada was rife with Tim Hortons commercials starring a guy who doesn't play for any of the six Canadian NHL teams and never will.

Yesterday's big stars were probably the Canucks' Sedin line, who lit up in the third period for one hell of a comeback, and the Calgary Flames, who flattened the Oilers and made their C of red very, very happy.

Looks like postgame celebrations were cut short.

I guess they'll start calling him "the CN Tower"

Dion Phaneuf used to be huge and awesome (no, male readers, I'm NOT in love with him, I just have had mad respect for him) before he became a Toronto Maple Leaf, which he now is.
No, I don't believe it either, and I don't like it very much, but it looks like the Leafs are suiting up to fight their way out of last place by trading away some of their bigger names and trying to solve their goalie problem by taking Jean-Sébastien Giguère out of Anaheim.
This is great news for whoever covers Leafs games in French. Personally, I've never really had any reason to like Giguère, and I'm not looking forward to seeing him more often.

I've been learning a few new things lately. My latest lesson? The post-Hockey Day hangover is disgusting. I'm betting poor Dion is in bed right now with one hell of a headache that won't go away until his contract ends.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hockey Day In Canada: like Canada Day but colder

It's Hockey Day In Canada time again... all the Canadianness of Roll Up The Rim, plus all of the hockey you could hope for, stuffed into ten hours of Ron McLean. (It all sounds wonderful to me except maybe that last part.) It's much more kickass, and much briefer, than a Hockey Day In America would be.

So in honour of this great day, I'm going to try and make this post as Canadian as possible. What's in store for this, the national holiday that isn't Canada Day or Victoria Day or those other ones?

(Randomly selected Canadian-born player) Travis Moen and our Montreal Canadiens will start the day off playing against Mike Fisher and the Ottawa Senators. The Habs will win because because I'll be at work for half the game and I want them to come home and watch them win.

The primetime slot this year goes to Nolan Baumgartner* and the Vancouver Canucks, who unfortunately have to hang out with the Leafs and Luke Schenn. But hey, they'll get as much attention from CBC as they could ever possibly want!!

Late-night honours go to the Battle of Alberta, which I'm guessing will be the game with the most punching. If any is allowed during Hockey Day In Canada. Brandon Prust** and the Flames are going to engage in some punching with Taylor Chorney's Oilers.
Yes, if Stephen Harper shows up in a Flames jersey (or at all), you are allowed a tantrum.

But what to eat?

It's a long day, and you're going to get hungry, and maybe you'll get bored of all the little kids' teams they interview during the day, or maybe I'll need to leave the room if anyone brings up Crosby, who does not play in Canada (again, no Hockey Day In America). So here are some snack suggestions if you're not out someplace:

Only Canadian beer. You can have a Stella or a Heineken another day.

Maple baked beans, or other cabane a sucre treats. If you feel like curing a ham in beer and brown sugar, be my guest. No, literally. Some homemade ham sounds pretty delicious right now.

Actually, anything maple. Especially those extra-sweet gooey candies or anything you can put maple syrup on.

Tim Hortons. But that kind of goes without saying.

Poutine. Oh, the cheese... (Be warned, if you're ordering in, make sure it's not one of those places that gives you barbecue sauce instead of gravy.)

Snack cakes. You know you want the bad fats. I know Kate Moss thinks that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, but all my pants are too big for me and I know what a Jos Louis tastes like.

Alberta beef, anyone? Raised by the best cowboys on earth!

Happy Hockey Day, everyone! (Especially those cowboys. I'm trying to get in good with them in the hopes of getting a free hat.)

* Seriously you guys, for all I know I took the metro with Nolan Baumgartner today and I'd have been completely oblivious. He's my randomly selected player because a few of the other guys seemed too obvious.

** You know I came thisclose to writing "Jarome Iginla" in giant letters right there. Instead I gave a Brandon Prust to ~czechtacular as a reward for blogging this week.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This drama's for yo mama.

Surprise surprise, another story about a locker room split!

Montreal Forum host Tony Marinaro reports that there was an altercation in the locker-room following the 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis last Wednesday. The reported altercation took place between defensemen Andrei Markov and goalie Carey Price. Marinaro reports Markov approached Price and said “If you are not going to play with heart, stay home. We don’t need you here.” Several players came to the defense of Price, while others sided with Markov.
For those keeping tabs, the latest practice altercation featuring Cammalleri and Lapierre came the morning after this alleged event.


Come on now.

For the rest of us who would much rather prefer to focus on the on-ice product (which yesterday only allowed Randy Tieman to put together 47 seconds of decent highlight footage, so there you have it, no need for my own commentary), here are some sure-fire ways to avoid feelings of rage while watching a Habs game:

- Baking. Yes, baking. It gives you something to do, the intermissions are less dull, positive aromas make for a positive mood, and if by some miracle the lead actually manages to be held you can feast happily later on. If you feel you'll burn the house down, however, maybe making popcorn will suffice. Props if you do that the old-fashioned way that doesn't take two to three minutes, and don't manage to involve the fire department.

- Muting the TV and putting the radio on to classical music as you watch. I tried this with a friend during the last Stanley Cup Finals and it was surprisingly effective.

- Or, if you're not into classical music, muting the TV and making your own play by play. Inspiration for this goes to the fellow at Peel Pub this Saturday who took advantage of the RDS sound blackout to make his own personal debut. It may have consisted of "and now he passes to the other guy, now back to the other guy, to his friend here the other guy!" but it was still highly entertaining, especially when the Habs scored immediately afterwards.

- Last but not least, if the game is on TSN, there's always the Pierre McGuire Drinking Game:
Hint: It doesn't necessarily limit itself to use during the World Juniors.
(thanks to

Now Habs. Let's bust that Lightning win streak. No preview post, because y'all should be looking for recipes right about now.


"Jordan Leopold" sounds like a turn-of-the-century poet's name. That kind of guy would never want to crush Mike Cammalleri. Thus, Jordan Leopold, you fail. (photo yoinked from Habs Inside Out)

Okay, so I'm not scared that our team is out of the playoffs just yet. Honestly, since when did so much negativity get anyone anywhere? (Right. It's how a fraction of sports journalists make their money. If I was willing to write "WTF? No more playoffs, ever" in this blog every day I'd probably be driving an Escalade everywhere instead of taking the metro.)

Tonight's loss against the Panthers was a stupid unlucky one; the kind of loss that hurts mostly because the other team didn't deserve to win. (Sorry, Shawn Matthias. You had a good game and all, but even you admitted that you scored a "garbage goal.")
It was an uncharacteristically inconsistent game for Andrei Markov, which hurts to admit, but we saw a great goal by Plekanec and a decent shot on goal by O'Byrne. So no, I haven't given up on this team just yet after a one-game losing streak.

More Habs tomorrow, this time against the Lightning, so get ready for a Lecavalier lovefest. (And maybe, just maybe a St. Louis lovefest if there's time. Steven Stamkos must love RDS because they don't hound him as much as anglo Canadians do.)

By the way, did anyone watching the game on RDS notice that Pierre Houde and Benoit Brunet wore matching outfits?

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm writing a Plus/Minus before I stop recognizing this team

I missed the occasional bit of news or game this week, so I'm a little under-researched, but I'm writing nonetheless. It'll give Max-Pac and Matt 36 something to read if they get tired of shopping at Aeropostale and living in Tim Hortons-topia. (As if. But if anyone's reading this, I kind of hope he plays for Los Angeles and can get me a TV writing job. In exchange I will bake you cookies and say nice things about you all over the Internet.)

Okay so since this Epic Week Of Everything Happening appears to have continued into Sunday (no longer a day of rest, I guess), here's what you may have missed during the last, like, ten minutes: Pacioretty and D'Agostini are Bulldogs again, and Ben Maxwell (who I thought might have been on waivers, but apparently isn't) is a Hab. Paul Mara's got some kind of upper-body injury, and seriously, the injury fairy has to start picking on someone else, stat. I feel like it's been a while since Sidney Crosby missed a game.

+ Almost $160,000 raised for Haitian relief efforts. I'm really proud to cheer for a team whose organization and fans are capable of such generosity.
+ 3 for our wins this week. One for New Jersey, and two for killing the Rangers... just because of the personal satisfaction I get out of beating the Rangers.
+ I forgot to wish elder statesman Elmer Lach a happy birthday, and yes, I'm aware that mentioning birthdays is awfully Access Hollywood of me, but who doesn't love Lach?

- We're glad to hear that Jean Beliveau is in stable condition, but upset that he had to be admitted to hospital in the first place. I know that bad things happen to good people, but I don't think anyone wants Beliveau to have health problems, ever.
- This is trivial, but why do the French newspapers always feel the need to specify that Benoit Pouliot is "un franco-ontarien," as if he's somehow flawed because he was born in the wrong province? He's quite francophone (I'm guessing La Presse reporters don't pay attention when he speaks English) and also, um, quite talented? Yes? Has he scored goals, at all, since joining the Canadiens? (The answer, by the way, is yes. About a dozen of them.) So, does it matter that he's from Ontario?
- This whole Georges Laraque mess. I'm about to air some grievances, so bear with me. Where do I start?
When Georges Laraque, as a Pittsburgh Penguin, made it through the playoffs all the way to the Stanley Cup final, I rooted for him. I had never heard of him before those playoffs (I think it was my official rookie season) and I quickly became a fan of this huge, tough guy who could get into huge fights and help his team win games all at the same time. I remember thinking it would be awesome if the Canadiens had a player like him (no, at the time I didn't realize that he wasn't necessarily the kind of player the team needed the most). I was out of the country when I found out that Laraque signed with the Habs during the offseason and I was really excited but had no hockey friends nearby to share the news with, so I suppressed my glee until a random Canadian I met asked me for hockey news. In what would turn out to be one of my best hockey decisions, I stopped myself (many times) from buying a #17 shirt until the start of the season so that I could see how Laraque would fit into the team. I never wound up buying the shirt because it seemed like the player who had impressed me so much in Pittsburgh had stayed there. He was nearly invisible except for the occasional fight, and he missed more games than he fought in. I like to stand by my Canadiens no matter what but even I agreed that signing Laraque was shaping up to be a pretty bad decision on Bob Gainey's part. I think I completely gave up a few weeks ago, when I read how many games Laraque had played this season and was surprised that it was a number higher than 5.
Then Laraque's contract was bought out and it was a firestorm of poor timing and poorly chosen words. I can understand why someone would be upset at losing their job, or that someone who worked for them didn't turn out to be quite the person they thought they were paying, but why does it always seem to get so ugly as soon as someone wants out or someone leaves a team?
I guess I'm kind of an idealist, but just once I'd like for there to be some kind of semi-amicable team departure. No whining on anyone's part, no wondering what could have been, no booing, just a guy who appreciates his old team for what it was and leaves and life goes on.
Then again, I'm crazy for thinking that this would have happened with Laraque, who was probably the team's biggest newsmaker.

Usually I try to end a Plus Minus with a "and what'll happen THIS week?" type of comment, but honestly? As long as it's easier to keep track of than the last seven days, I'll be happy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Why the Canadiens will, or won't, win their next two games

Call this a preemptive plus/minus. The Habs face the Devils in Jersey on Friday and the Rangers at the Bell Centre on Saturday.

What's looking good for these next two games?

  • The team's been freed of the dreadlocked weight that's been holding it down for the last season and a half, and we'll finally get to find out if Georges Laraque was the problem plaguing this team. (I'm not hating on anyone, but I was told to expect a vastly improved Canadiens organization this season and the stats haven't changed much since last year, so I'm inclined to believe that there's something up.)
  • The team's stressed and hungry, and I'm guessing that some of the players are like me and just want the media to shut up a little. (I'm just speculating.)
  • There might be a desire to kick some Ranger ass.

What's looking not so good?

  • Martin Brodeur [insert rest of sentence here].
  • There's still an Andrei Kostitsyn-shaped hole in the lineup.
  • Scheduling. In possibly the most asinine bit of sports scheduling I've seen in a very long time, the Canadiens are playing back-to-back games in different cities for the second week in a row. Last week, they were at the Bell Centre to play the Senators and found themselves at MSG the next day to fight the Rangers. Now, just a few days later, they're being jetted from Jersey back to Montreal to punch the Rangers again. Couldn't they have, oh, I don't know, let the Habs stay stateside for two games in a row instead of tiring them out? Thanks a lot, Gary Bettman. I'm sure that boxing isn't as important as hockey.
  • We're down one pair of fists and I'm guessing that the Rangers will probably want to do some more punching. 
  • Let's be honest. Things aren't going as well as they could be and there's a chance that the team will lose another game. It can't be easy to play for a team when you're clearly showing up to do your job dy after day, but your team still isn't doing as well as the New York Islanders. It's kind of a slow period.
Let's be honest, it's going to be a tough couple of games, but hopefully a day off (...ish) did the team some good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What a day! (Midseason edition)

Every now and then, a huge piece of news breaks out in Hab-land. ("Hab-land" usually being about twenty minutes away from where I am, but on days like this it feels so far away.) And it's always on those big news days that I'm otherwise occupied.

So here's what happened:

This is kind of what the pressbox looked like last night... Matt's going to start feeling an awful lot taller if he gets scratched again

Georges Laraque (he who was signed for 1.5mil a season after he kicked some ass and almost won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins) was let go a week after he helped the Canadiens to their most recent win. It's not the best of breakups... both sides are quite bitter about it, and I don't think I can blame them. The timing of this is... strange at best. But I guess this whole ordeal proves that maybe, just maybe being a francophone hockey player doesn't always make you a saint in this town.

We love Monsieur et Madame Jean!

In other news (this time about someone who has the glory and deserves it more than anyone else in this town), forever captain and HIHW favourite Jean Béliveau suffered a stroke, but is said to be in stable condition. He's still in the hospital though, and we know he's not reading the blog but we're still sending thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

Other smaller news tidbits: Sergei Kostitsyn practiced today, Carey Price did not (therapy stuff), Mike Cammalleri and Max Lapierre had a bit of a dustup, and Jacques Martin still stands by his decision to play Ryan O'Byrne as a forward.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The funniest thing I saw today...

... or maybe in my entire life, thanks to the sports section in today's Gazette:

Hal Gill, proud supporter of Giant Hand Night!!
If you're going to the game tomorrow, have fun.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Plus/Minus in a week that almost wasn't

This was almost a week without minuses. No, really, somehow I was so optimistic that this week I found myself minus any minuses. But thanks to you guys, I waited until the most depressing day of the year to post this.
This was also the week where Montreal took advantage of a few days off to take care of business: long-awaited hospital visits, well-deserved rest for both the players and the player haters (thanks again, Burrows-Auger scandal), and the grand opening of our very own Hall of Fame.

+ 3: one to the NHL for its donation of $100,000 to Haitian relief efforts, one for the Canadiens' charity initiative this week, and one to the other NHL teams who are reaching out to Haitian quake victims.
+ the Habs made a bunch of little kids and their familiies happy this week by opening a new rink in Mtl-North and by visiting the childrens' hospitals.
+ 2 Georges Laraque. Scored. A goal. And the rest of the team also played very, very well against the Stars.
+ Dave Stubbs for asking fans for help in identifying a song (and getting help from another favourite of mine, the hilarious Manny Almela), for another great human-interest piece (this one about Glen Met and Trevor Daley growing up in the projects), and because last week I forgot to give him a plus for his sweet, sweet bowtie.
+ The Canadiens Hall of Fame, which I haven't visited yet but will soon. If anyone's been already, send pictures!!
+ Say what you will about his recent performance (lots of people have, but I'm nice), Max Pacioretty could teach a master class in drawing penalties for the opposite team. Thanks for the power plays, little Max!

- I'm not starting another Ryan Miller-type feud or anything, but what is it about Mike Brodeur that makes him invincible at the Bell Centre?
- I'm giving myself a minus for jinxing last night's game, when the only thing I've ever wanted to give Sean Avery is a black eye.
- The only thing worse than losing two games in two days is hearing everyone bitch and moan about it. I'm really sick of hearing others complain these days, so you'll probably hear some whining on my part as well.

- And this hockey blog's biggest minus of the week goes to a guy who doesn't play hockey.

I would like to thank Jay Leno for proving that his nightly ten o'clock show isn't, as I had previously believed, the thing that killed television. No, instead he decided to kill TV by getting his old timeslot back and taking away our Conan O'Brien in the process. It's basically the TV equivalent of all this Carey vs. Jaro quibbling, only neither of them will come out on top. They've been replaced by some old, fat starter who could apparently stop a puck back in the nineties, but never takes a risk or plays with passion. But the GM likes him and the sponsors like him. Even though he SUCKS.
Yes, Hab It Her Way is with CoCo.

A bit of extra plus for the most depressing day of the year
To end things on a more positive note, today is a special day:
#21 turns 31 today, and wretched network NBC gave him a shoutout by putting former Superman Brandon Routh on tonight's Chuck. Have a Giontastic birthday!

On this day in 1958, before Martin Luther King Jr. day was declared a holiday, Willie O'Ree broke the colour barrier and became the first black man to play in an NHL game when he suited up for the Bruins right here in Montreal.
(Yes, I'm still sharing all the little bits of history that I come across.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In case you couldn't guess...

Since I'm currently occupied with the Habs (and the football and the beginning of awards season), Plus/Minus will wait until tomorrow.
I know people all over the earth are disappointed by this, but that's not as important as the New York Rangers currently crying about the Habs' 2-0 lead.

ETA: Shit. I spoke too soon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm excited that the Habs got two points...

... but I'm even more shocked that Georges Laraque got one.

(I think they'll forgive me for stealing this picture, but right now there's little other pictorial evidence of it)

Do not adjust your TV sets. Georges Laraque really did just score his long-time-coming first goal as a Hab.
Yes, Pouliot, Gionta, and Cammalleri also scored, and magnificently at that. Jaroslav Spacek delivered the kind of hit I didn't think he was capable of, and the team banded together against celebrity lookalike Steve Ott when he tried to mess with our Pleks.

It was a deserved win, and a show of the talent that this team has. (Yes, even if we spend a season and a half wondering where it went.)

Hockey's bigger in Montreal: Game Preview 14-01-10

It's been a few days since we had a Habs game to watch, but they've done enough off the ice to stay in the news. And the rest of the NHL has had its share of game-related news, so there's been plenty to talk about. (We're secretly thanking Sedin brother #3 for that.)

So, a city where hockey is king plays host to a team that is not the Dallas Cowboys. What do you need to know? Better yet, what can I tell you about the Dallas Stars? Um... time for bullet points.

On the Habs side of things:
  • A bunch of guys have been creeping up into Tomas Plekanec's point space, putting him in fifteenth place overall. He's apparently so distraught about it that he temporarily abandoned his signature goatee.
  • Georges Laraque is back in the lineup, and for once he's probably grateful for his brief ice time since he doesn't seem to be in the right mindframe for play right now.
  • Ryan O'Byrne will probably sit out this game, but as some very happy little patients can confirm, he's back in town.
  • As you've heard, the Canadiens currently have the best power play in the league, but could be doing a bit better as far as playoff chances are concerned. It's January, though.

On the Stars side of things:
  • I'd watch this game very carefully if those pesky transaction rumours are true.
  • The Stars are coming to town with two wins in their last six games. All four losses have been on the road.
  • As you know, Mike Ribeiro's out for a while (karma's rough sometimes), so today's former Hab is Stéphane Robidas, who is not on Team Canada. (I'm just stating a fact.)
  • Brad Richards is one of the guys who has more points than Plekanec. (13 goals, 39 assists, to be exact, and no goatee either.)
  • Celebrity lookalike news: Assistant captain and subject of many negative Facebook groups Steve Ott isn't a team scoring leader, but I must mention him due to a recent discovery. My fellow nerds might be interested to know that Ott looks a whole lot like actor Alan Tudyk, best known for his role on Firefly.

Joss Whedon fans rejoice!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

So... what else is new?

I don't want to have another one of those weeks where I don't write anything... mostly because the last time it happened, ~czechtacular thought I had gone missing or something. So... what's there to write about?

Little kids and medical professionals are probably beside themselves right now that the Canadiens are making their long-awaited annual visit to the city's childrens' hospitals. The visits were originally supposed to take place at the end of November but were delayed because of increased H1N1 precautions at the time. Since the holiday season has come and gone, I guess we won't be seeing our Habs wearing Santa hats and antlers, but the kids will be speechless nonetheless.

Elsewhere in hockey...

After winning the shootout that ended Saturday night's thrilling game against the Canucks, Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla has dubbed recent callup Jamie Lundmark "The Closer." I wonder what his Southern accent sounds like.

New Jersey Devils forward Jamie Langenbrunner has been named Captain America for this year's U.S. Olympic team. Because if there's anything a Langenbrunner jersey needs, it's extra letters.

Curtis Joseph, cited by our Jaroslav Halak as a major influence on his goaltending game, will announce his retirement in two shakes of a rabbit's tail.

According to Hockey Night In Canada, Alex Burrows is the third Sedin brother. (They didn't specify "from another mother," but a lot of people stopped using that phrase like ten years ago so I'm glad HNIC is up to speed.)

I think blog posts like this are the reason why Seth Meyers hosts Weekend Update and I don't.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Plus/Minus: Welcome to 2010 edition

Hugs have been exchanged, the Winter Classic has come and gone, and the champagne has finished flowing. The new year has officially begun, and I've got two weeks to plus and minus since I skipped last week, unannounced. So much for the new year's resolutions I told my mommy I'd make.
Over the last two weeks, the Canadiens have faced bitter rivals and teams that are also bitter rivals but maybe not as much as others. There have been wins, losses, heartbreaking injuries, and triumphant returns. Basically, 2010 is like every other one of the last 100 years so far.


+ The biggest plus of the week (they're all equal but some are more equal than others) goes to Benoit Pouliot for proving his awesomeness, for his impressive first goal as a Hab, and for finding his place alongside Gionta and Gomez.
+ The Bulldogs have been doing very, very well lately.
+ Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, the Canadiens know that they can always recall Ryan White. (Too bad he was sent down as quickly as he was called up... hopefully we'll see him again soon if we need him.)
+ A brilliant New Year's Eve victory against Florida. Who knew that you don't need to be on your feet to win a game?
+ Alex Kovalev for his four-goal night last week.
+ The Jaroslav Halak we know and love: solid even in losses and capable of showing his worth when compared to the world's best.
+ You won't hear me say very much about Patrick Kane, but I love hearing stories about athletes who make an effort to reach out to their fans.


- Most of Montreal is winter-white right now, except Alain Crete, who is orange. Is he trying to pretend he's on Jersey Shore or something?
- Dear Ryan Miller: you may think you're like invincible or something but you are not. The Habs will kick your ass someday. Someday soon. Get ready to look like... whoever your backup is.
- Okay, so as it turns out, the injury fairy has returned to our town. Poor Andrei Kostitsyn. This also doesn't bode well for Team Belarus at the Olympics.
- Former Hab violence: Mike Ribeiro seems to be out forever after an accidental hit to the face from Chris Higgins. This doesn't bode well for Team Portugal at the Olympics.

And now we've got to go back to coming up with entertaining stuff to write during this half-week-long drought. (Here's hoping for another game like last night's epic outing between the Flames and Canucks... I promise to try not to skip Plus/Minus next week, even though there'll only be two Habs games to talk about.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Our Top 5: Potential SNL Hosts

This Saturday, basketball legend Charles Barkley will be hosting late-night mainstay Saturday Night Live. Yes, he's this season's token sports-related host. This is his second time hosting - he also had the honour back in 1993, when he was relevant. (Seriously. When's the last time Charles Barkley made news? A year ago when he got busted for speeding, and told the cop he was chasing after a, um, lady of the evening? Apparently he was recently on The Jay Leno Show, but that's the opposite of news. Other than that, all I hear about is Kenan Thompson's impersonation of him on... SNL. So by these criteria, Kathie Lee Gifford will probably host the season finale. Oh joy.)

I don't think a hockey player has been SNL's appointed athlete host of the season since Wayne Gretzky in 1989... I've never seen the episode but apparently I'm not missing much. I started thinking... who in the NHL today would make a decent Saturday Night Live host? And thus a new feature (maybe, if you guys like it) was born...

The Hab It Her Way Top 5!

Today's list: 
(in no particular order)
Top 5 Hockey Players Who Might Not Totally Screw Up As Host of SNL

Alex Ovechkin: It's not just any athlete that gets to host SNL. The chosen athletic host of the season is usually a pretty big deal. Ovechkin is the biggest name in hockey and the most exciting player in the NHL by far. He's famous, successful, and skillful, and he loves attention. He's actually an awful lot like LeBron James, who was a pretty good host. Ovie would have fun hosting SNL. He'd be game for anything and that's good news since athletes don't have much acting experience. His accent might get in the way of playing a wide variety of characters, but again, he's not an actor so whatever. And if you're worried about his mastery of the English language, I'll just remind you that Paris Hilton has hosted the show.
Sketch suggestion: He'd probably have fun pretending to breakdance or something during a "What's Up With That" sketch... they seem to be quite popular these days. Or I see him as a guest on "Rivista Della Televisione" ripping on Vinny Vedecci in Russian.

Mike Green is a good guy and he's got presence on camera, as proven by his random Geico commercial. (If you think it's bad then you clearly don't watch enough TV.) He gets points for likeability, and he's somewhat well-known outside of hockey since he plays for the Caps - not, like, the St. Louis Blues, and visibility is pretty important.
Sketch suggestion: In my head, Mike Green has mad rap skills. He'd be Andy Samberg's new best friend... Okay, that's probably not true, much as I might wish it were. He's got a very sweet, everyman quality about him, so I think he'd have fun getting annoyed by Kristen Wiig's irritating character Sue who can't keep good news to herself.

Hal Gill is funny. Many of his teammates have attested to it. Anyone who's seen his ode to Randy Johnson knows it. I figured I couldn't make my first Top 5 without putting a Hab on the list, and I think #75 would be my go-to guy. Carey may have been on Cabbie, and Gomez might have real acting experience, but when it comes to comedy you've got to go big or go home. I'm going with Gill.
Sketch suggestion: He could play Gilly's dad or something (bad name pun!), thus putting an end to the insanely repetitive Gilly sketches. Sorry.

Like Mike Green, Jarome Iginla has personality and charisma. He's quite at ease on camera, as we've seen in commercials, and his NHL Award acceptance speeches are generally good. Why does this matter, you ask? Jarome may be more serious and gracious in his speeches, but the audience pays attention. Often people who can work the room at an awards show do very well on SNL... don't believe me? What if I dropped names like Tina Fey, Justin Timberlake, and 14-time host Alec Baldwin? Or 15-time host Steve Martin, who's been on the show so often and left such an impression on viewers that most people think he was actually a cast member? So yeah, Jarome should do okay. If he doesn't, he's patient enough to shake it off and make the best of things.
Sketch suggestion: If "Bronx Beat" were still on SNL, Jarome would probably have fun laughing at Maya Rudolph while she alternately called him cute and got all emotional about her kids.

Tim Thomas appears to be quite beloved by his American fans, probably because he's good at what he does (hurts to admit that) and because he's basically a Bruce Springsteen song on skates. The network would LOVE him: an award-winning American-born goalie playing for an Original Six team in the States, who just braved the Winter Classic and is going to the Olympics (this winter on NBC!). But why, do you ask, would a Habs fan want to see her rival goalie spend 90 minutes on her favourite show? Yes, I know, it's total sacrilege. Well, Thomas basically cemented his spot on this list with one sentence:

Warning: huge Tim Thomas face in HD comin' at ya
It was meant as a joke, and came out unbelievably funny but in a terribly mean way. He can probably handle comedy.
Sketch suggestion: I'm not really sure why, but I think nothing would be funnier than seeing the massive goaltender in drag. Make it happen, NBC.

I'm giving an honourable mention to Jeremy Roenick, who retired so he doesn't count as an "NHL player" anymore, but let's face it. He likes attention, he likes entertaining people, and he likes talking. A lot. If he were to ever find out that SNL might be interested in calling on a hockey player to host, he'd probably move in to Studio 8H.

**pictures and video don't belong to me, obviously, except for that little header bar i constructed from pictures that don't belong to me. this is only my top 5, and we might go for a "she said, she said" thing so top 5 actually means top 10 since there are two of us!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First win in 2010!

What's better: winning or Paul Mara's beard?

Good job, Jaro, for shutting out the Florida Panthers. Good job, team, for doing what needed to be done so very badly... and also taking the advice of the analysts between periods. (Maybe now they'll shut up.)

A fine goal by Benoit Pouliot in the closing seconds of the first (from now on, that kind of thing is dubbed the "Reverse Steve Begin") and a cute little empty-netter by Brian Gionta made sure that the Panthers did not have the puck where they wanted it to be. The Habs also avoided penalties (for the most part), so I guess we should be applauding their good behaviour.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

HIHW gets some answers

There have been a few questions plaguing us lately, mostly involving the meaning of life, the popularity of Lady Gaga and what on earth we have to do to permanently repair whatever's wrong with Georges Laraque. We don't have the answers to any of those questions, but don't worry, if we ever figure something out, you'll be the first to know.
I did recently get my Veronica Mars on, to answer another one of life's burning queries: What's the deal with "Roster players currently unavailable?"

Technical difficulties prevent me from photoshopping Miss Mars into a tricolore jersey

You know the message if you've tried to make yourself something at the recently launched NHL Custom Shop. You pick out a shirt, a colour, a size, a logo for the front, and you get all excited about the idea of a custom T-shirt that only you (and people your size have). You type in a "Moen 32" or a "Kesler 17" or what have you, only to be told that yes, indeed, Roster players are currently unavailable.
So much for customization.

I decided to get to the bottom of this, and here's the very prompt answer I got, courtesy of the NHL shop's customer service department:

"There are certain rule and regulations that must follow according the National Hockey League. Some players have signed contracts that allow their names to be put on jerseys, and some have not. We do not have a way of knowing which ones have and have not, accept for the drop down menu that allows you to pick the players names. We apologize for any inconvenience."

(I copied it word-for-word... that's not my grammar.)
So there you have it. It's the lawyers' fault again. What, they couldn't take an extra three minutes to write an extra clause into their client's contract?
I also have yet to find this drop-down menu, unless they mean the one in the "Player Apparel" section of the store.

The good news in all this? Current roster players seem to be the only thing currently unavailable. So you're in luck if you happen to like anyone who doesn't currently lace up for the Canadiens. (hint, hint.)

Hope this helps... it's the least I can do. The Habs are expected to make their yearly visit to children's hospitals at some point soon, and I was going to get you some first-person accounts from staff members, but that's looking about as possible as me getting a puck past Ryan Miller. (I'm still angry, Ryan Miller. Don't think you got off easy just because I didn't talk about the last Buffalo game.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Canada's juniors win silver medal

Team Canada ended a great tournament by playing a good game, and an especially good third period, but fate decided that silver looked better on this year's jerseys.

I'm an eternal optimist, so while some people are having fun bellyaching, I'm trying to look on the bright side (I hate stomachaches). Great players have won silver, bronze, or not even made it to medals. And the only reason why losing the gold-medal game is disappointing is because has Canada played so well in every game. While they may not have won this game, these players are going to make a huge impact when we see them in the NHL.

And Habs' prospect Danny Kristo gets to end his tournament on a high note.


Tonight at 7, the Habs play Washington.
Tonight at 8, Canada's juniors play the young Americans for the gold medal in the World Junior Championship.

What's a girl to do?

Watch the Canadiens or watch the Canadians?

Switch to the juniors after an hour of Markov vs. Ovie?
Split my time and change channels like I have some sort of complusion?
Watch the junior game on RDS at 9:30 and risk hearing every name but "Cormier" mispronounced?
... Tape the juniors and watch an English-language feed as soon as the Habs-Caps game is over?

In any case, I'll have to hurry up and get my Team Canada gear on over my CH T-shirt as quickly as I can.

Update: The Habs had some good moments but obviously Fleischmann and Semin had to go and remind us that we like them. Whatever. We'll smash Florida.
Go Canada!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Goodbye 2009...

As the new year opens with an epic Winter Classic in one of my favourite sports venues between two of my most hated hockey teams, I'm getting ready to say goodbye to 2009, The Year That Hurt. Too many injuries and too much to stomach. Sure, this was also the year that we got hired for jobs in sports and media, and the year that we started this blog, and the year that we used our hockey knowledge to get ourselves on TV and radio, and then used the blog, TV, and radio to prove a point: that smart female hockey fans exist... but we and the team could probably benefit from the fresh start that everyone associates with a new year, so, goodbye, old year.

Goodbye, injuries that cost players a game, a week, a month, or half a season.
Goodbye, nasty newspaper rumours.
Goodbye, stupid trade rumours.
Goodbye, everyone else complaining about the centennial logos. (One of them really isn't so bad!)

Goodbye, hardworking homeboy who's spending his New Year's Day outdoors, behind enemy lines.
Goodbye, guy who played like one game as a Hab who I don't even know anything about.
Goodbye, guy who played like six games as a Hab but wasn't really needed enough for more than that.
Goodbye, New York's biggest Habs fan.
Goodbye, defenceman who could have been captain someday.
Goodbye, star forward who could bring the city to its feet with a single flick of his wrist.
Goodbye, veteran d-man. Some team will be lucky to have you for the second half of the season.
Goodbye, Bulldogs who got put on waivers, even though no one's snatched you up yet.
Goodbye, energetic francophone forward. Thanks for the assists.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips.
Goodbye, veteran Czech with a surprisingly great head of hair.
Goodbye, former fan favourite.
Goodbye, forward/d-man/forward/d-man and back and forth again.
Goodbye, TKO.
Goodbye, Breezer. Happy trails... or racetracks.
Goodbye, little defenceman that could.

Goodbye, captain. We never gave up on you.

Happy 2010.