Thursday, April 29, 2010

A huge between-rounds edition of Plus Minus

(I'm aware that the second round has now begun, and this has been a work-in-progress for a while... I had no idea when to post this. Go Sharks! Or Red Wings!)

A hell of a week round, this was. What DIDN'T happen? TV is gearing up for sweeps, I spotted a man who looked like he might have been Larry Robinson (maybe), I spotted a man who looked like he might have been Paul Mara (but with short beard and longer hair... I almost spoke to him but his beard wasn't "super epic and unmistakeable" as ~czechtacular would say), I went to the amazing Olympic parade and touched a women's hockey gold medal and spoke ever so briefly to a Stanley Cup winner, I had a great birthday during which the Canadiens were not knocked out of the playoffs, and my #1 team eliminated the Eastern Conference's #1 team. Thus, this week's Plus Minus is equally huge.

+ It goes without saying that the Habs in general have made me prouder than a valedictorian's mommy at graduation: a solid PK, a stronger, more defensive outing in Game 5, a mind-blowing game 6, and an awesome Game 7.
+ Is it scandalous if I say that I approve of putting Carey Price in net for two games against the Caps? Think about it: those games gave Halak the rest he needed to be superhuman again, and proved that Price has still got it.
+ Dan Boyle made the most embarrassing mistake a hockey player could make, and then compensated beautifully with a fantastic goal the following game.
+ The Canadiens organization has a great initiative in Instead of just sounding like poor little rich boys moaning that everyone's buying cheap jerseys, the website is informative, telling you how to spot a counterfeit jersey and explaining why you shouldn't buy one - shady labour practices and potential ties to organized crime, and the incentives of coupons and trade-ins certainly don't hurt (warning: they expire April 30th). The rest of the league has taken note.
+ Thanks to Friday's Olympic athlete parade, I'd like to reiterate how great it is to see awesome, talented, gracious athletes like Canada's 2010 Olympians. Aside from the men's hockey team, Olympic athletes don't get much exposure outside of the Games, but their hard work warrants it. They had a great crowd cheering for them, and I was happy to be in that crowd. (Except when that old man hit me in the chest. Gross.)
+ Our buddies over at TheCheckingLine ran a great liveblog on Friday... more of a chat than a liveblog, but when fans are having this much fun, who cares about semantics?
+ After Game 7, Brooks Laich saw a fan and her daughter waiting for roadside assistance (by the highway, in the dark), got out of his car, and changed a tire for them.


- Poor Eric Belanger. I don't think I like the guy very much, but he lost seven teeth in one game. And he pulled at least one of those out by himself. Hockey players are tough, but there's a limit. He gets a plus, though, for sheer badassery.
- The recent demonizing of Alexander Ovechkin, especially by Habs fans. Sure, he sprayed some snow on a kid and didn't even pat him on the head as he skated by. Sure, he didn't give some other kid an autograph. Sure, it's kind of a bad thing that these two things happened in the same week, but it doesn't necessarily make him a bad guy. It's completely unnecessary backlash. (Heck, my request for a picture with Scott Niedermayer was refused on my birthday, and I don't mind. I'm sure I'm not the first person who's asked him for something, and I won't be the last.)
- Spacek is still sick? Where did he catch this thing? Is it biological warfare?

- Ron McLean's response to a spandex-clad Green Girl in his studio is... ew. That's all I have to say, is "ew.'
- Is there anyone in sports journalism more petulant than Jack Todd? The Habs forced a Game 6 on home ice against the league's best team. And all Jack Todd discussed on Monday was Scott Gomez's face and Carey Price's fans. Really, that's all the material he had? You'd think Canwest would start cutting unnecessary costs in these crappy economic times, and Negative Jones' column/bitchfest would be one of them. But no, he's still getting paid to write, if you can call it that.

It starts tomorrow. There will be cupcakes.


I can't decide whether to jump up and down or catch my breath

What is this feeling? This not knowing what to say, not believing my eyes as every sports station replays the highlights of a game I watched intently, not understanding as the other team hang their heads and apologize to their fans... having to repeat to myself, "Habs won. Second round of the playoffs."

It's unreal. It's almost like being in love.

I'm trying not to get too carried away, because bracing myself for whatever happened is part of what's making me so happy right now. The Capitals were an excellent opponent (most of the time... I'm having some trouble wrapping my head around Alexander Semin's complete lack of scoring). I worried until the very last second that my Habs would be defeated. It's not that I don't have faith in my team, but I felt I had to prepare myself for disappointment should it occur. No disappointment, though, only joy.

I'm going to try and keep my feet on the ground while my head is in the clouds, dreaming that Montreal will kick every ass in its path on its way to Cup #25. I'm not going to deify our players or trash-talk the Capitals. But I want to give our Habs their due.

Jaro is beyond words. He's always been solid and reliable, and lately has arguably been the best thing about this team, but that only begins to describe the last game. Farmers everywhere will have to thank him for what I'm assuming is a skyrocketing increase in chocolate milk sales.
Our defence is general was awesome. Gill did what he needed to do - haters can hate, but I think last night they had no choice but to cheer for him. Subban is going to be missed in Hamilton, but I'm glad he's been a part of this and doesn't seem fazed by the challenge of the NHL playoffs. Hamrlik played smart - Angry Sal is probably eating his hat.
The We Speak French line of Moore, Lapierre, and Pouliot would have had a great game even without scoring the game-winning goal. By the way, Dominic Moore, your "who's dis guy" status has been permanently removed.

This was a series in which our big-ticket players and our supporting acts carried the load equally (you know, whatever wasn't automatically picked up by life-saving goaltending).

On to the Penguins. We've got an insider - I'd call Hal Gill our "spy," but at his size, I just can't picture him being very stealthy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to rewatch those highlights a few more times and pinch myself.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yes. Really.

Habs beat the Capitals. Bring on the Penguins.

I can't believe it either. I'm a little too giddy to blog, but after the entire team played such a fantastic game and WON the series, I think the accomplishment speaks for itself. At least until we're able to collect ourselves.

I'm going to quote "I'm On A Boat" here, because I just can't help it: Shut the fuck up. This shit is REAL:

Friday, April 30at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m.CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Sunday, May 2at Pittsburgh, 2:00 p.m.NBC, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, May 4at Montreal, 7:00 p.m.CBC, RDS, VERSUS
Thursday, May 6at Montreal, 7:00 p.m.CBC, RDS, VERSUS
*Saturday, May 8at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m.CBC, RDS, VERSUS
*Monday, May 10at Montreal, 7:00 p.m.CBC, RDS, VERSUS
*Wednesday, May 12at Pittsburgh, TBDCBC, RDS, VERSUS

Seven is a lucky number. I'm a little superstitious.

This is it, kids. Game 7. What's there to say? Other than everything, of course...

I'm starting to believe more and more in this team, even more than I usually do (and that's quite a lot). I think the Habs can win it, and if they do, they'll just build momentum and keep going and as fans we'll just have to try and keep up. Like a lot of people, I've been daydreaming and getting a little carried away. But I believe in this team. No matter what happens, I believe in this team.

I'm pretty sure ~czechtacular is currently unavailable for real discussion, due to the Game 7 heartbreak that took place yesterday. I should have made her Coyotes cupcakes.
I'm sorry, Ilya

If there's anything we've learned from that game, though, it's that home-ice advantage doesn't always give the home team an edge. (Okay, yes, the fifth-place Detroit Red Wings, who are Cup Finals fixtures, beat the fourth-place Coyotes, so it's not excessively surprising, I know.)

Suddenly everyone believes in the Habs, both inside and outside the city. Crazy fans aren't the only ones who think the Canadiens can win it.

(Oh, and according to Twitter, Mike Cammalleri is reading The Art of War. That can't hurt, right?)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I don't believe it either

This is like that scene from Edward Scissorhands.

Okay, maybe no one's dancing about the snow... but still. This is so like that scene from Edward Scissorhands.
A few months ago, before winter really started, I wrote about how the first snowfall of the season seems to take place after the Canadiens do something incredible.
Then I woke up this morning to snow... not just a little flake or two. It's really snowing outside.
See the little patches of white on the lawn, and the thin layer of snow on the railing? It's April 27th. Wtf.
I'm hoping this means something special will happen.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Washington. Wednesday. See you there.

(Note: I will not be at that game, but the Habs will.)

The Stanley Cupcakes worked. Game 6 was brilliant and I'm bouncing off the walls. Too much sugar will do that to you. Years from now, we'll look back at this year as The Postseason Where Czechtacular And Rookie Got Fat. I'm so hyper right now that I'm picturing myself eating cupcakes for weeks to come, letting the pounds and calories accumulate as our team gets closer and closer to Cup #25.

I definitely need to ingest less sugar during games.

Nonetheless, a fantastic win. Jaroslav Halak has etched his name into the record books with 53 saves, being alternately solid and mind-blowingly good tonight. Mike Cammalleri scored two fantastic goals, and proved just how good he is overall. Josh Gorges left it all on the ice tonight - I'd be surprised if he had any energy left to drive out of the Bell Centre. Hal Gill stepped it up and proved he could be as much of an asset to his team on the ice as he is off it. Maxim Lapierre played a tremendous game, diving penalties and all. (Seriously? "Diving" is a penalty? What is this, soccer?) "Suddenly Subban" did extremely well in his first NHL playoff game. I'm quite sure the Bulldogs will be able to manage without him.

I was hoping the Canadiens would play well in this series, but I never expected this. They've been amazing. Anything beyond this would be icing on the cake.

Yes, I chose a cake analogy on purpose.

Some people eat their words. We eat dessert.

We're all about food here at HIHW. Hockey and stuff too, but who doesn't love food? And it's been a while since I made a food recommendation, so here it is.
The superstitious/gluttonous part of me wanted to tell you that I followed through on one of my best ideas lately... Stanley Cupcakes.
That was my first, slightly pathetic attempt at cupcake decorating. I'm practicing (yes, it's very funny that the word "practicing" has "icing" in it), and eventually my cupcakes will look a little less sad. They taste great, and the Habs won on Friday, when they were decorated, so maybe there's something there. The maple leaf ones were made in honour of Friday's Olympic parade, and no, I have no idea why the leaves look so much better than the numbers.

My second slightly pathetic attempt, the Vancouver Canupcakes, were made and eaten right before the Canucks' series-winning game last night. I might make some for other teams as well... not the Flyers.
What better way to celebrate (and send good vibes to) talented athletes than with artery-clogging baked goods?

One last callup

... and it's PK.

I can't help but guess that this is somehow going to be overwhelming. For who? I don't know yet.

By the way, Mike Boone has a brilliant list of rules for tonight's Game 6:

• No one shows up in blackface, wearing an Afro wig.
• No one boos the kid's first mistake.
• No one boos anyone in a red jersey.
• From the moment the Canadiens skate onto the ice, the barn resounds with more noise than has been heard since Saku came back from cancer.
• Stay positive for 60 minutes.
• The traditional opposition goalie-rattling cheer is a quote of what Bruce Boudreau called Semyon Varlamov: "STOO-PID  (rhymes with puck)!".
• Rock the Bell. The seventh man matters.
• No matter what happens in this game, the Canadiens skate off the ice tonight to thunderF.ous applause. This team has done the city proud.
 I like to think that the F in the middle of "thunderous" is there on purpose, to really drive the point home.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The greatest gift of all: Habs win Game 5!!!

Last year we thought about this (a little bit), but now it's confirmed: Pleks > Semin

I'm not going to lie. I danced a little after the Habs kept the Caps from scoring on any of their hundred power plays and won the game, without needing overtime to do so.
To be honest, there's one major reason why I wanted the Habs to win. Yes, they've had a pretty good season and they've been playing well enough to stick around just a little bit longer, and they're my favourite team, but I had an even better reason: today was my birthday. Really, it was!
I couldn't handle my team getting knocked out of the playoffs on my birthday. Last year, they were eliminated the day before my birthday. The year before that, Philly destroyed the Habs the day after my party. (Yes, hangover + major loss = no fun at all.) It would be just my luck to see my team out of the playoffs on the actual day of my birthday.
BUT THEY WON! And the team was quite solid overall... we saw some of the best we've seen lately out of Lapierre, Gill, and Moen, to name a few, and that's what I was really hoping to see.

All in all, a great Habs-Caps game and an Olympic celebration in downtown Montreal, it was a pretty good birthday.
Yes, don't worry, I took pictures at the parade. You'll see them.

It's not over....

...but it's now or never.

I don't know of any other less cataclysmic method of summarizing what tonight is supposed to mean to Habs' fans. Frankly, I'm almost all out of words, period. The same gaggle of enthusiasm that overpowered a whole city (and thensome) after Tomas Plekanec's overtime winner in Game One that prompted the creation of Stanley Cup commercial parodies of "What if Theodore was as good as Miller or Brodeur?" has been replaced with a cloud of devastation and disappointment, all signs pointing to the 3-1 deficit that now seems impossible to surmount.

eep! (

Impossible because of the missed opportunities on one side and the capitalized opportunities on the other. Impossible because of the lack of consistency in officiating. Impossible because number 1 in the playoffs is facing number 16. Impossible because there were only 6 seconds left in that period.

But is it impossible to show them what we're made of, on their ice, just one more time?

Or two?

It's been done. We know it's been done. There are some elements of the last decade that haven't been complete aberrations (much to the contrary of what it may seem like now). We remember those, and we remember it was 3-1 then, too.

We'll see.

Jaroslav Halak gets the call. Habs' fans take their seats. Some get out their keyboards (shameless promotion: the live blog on The Checking Line that will take place throughout the game, featuring your comments and writers' insight. I might pop by for a bit myself) and all eyes will be on Game Five, underway at 7 tonight.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Montreal's newest celebrity

Following ~czechtacular's advice, I'm addressing the newest - and possibly loudest - critic our team has faced recently: Angry Sal.

Now, I would not want to be upper Habs management and happen to run into Sal. I especially wouldn't want to be his cardiologist.

The good news is that whether or not they agree with him, there are a lot of fans in this city who aren't like this. I swear, we're not all like this!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's this game for?

Tomorrow the Canadiens will have a team meeting at the Bell Centre. They played pretty well tonight, but there are some things to work out. Hopefully those things will be addressed tomorrow.
I have no proof that Jacques Martin modeled for this illustration

Unfortunately, I don't think that coaching will be one of those things, but maybe it should be. Our team isn't perfect, but I think overall our players should be able to (at the very least) handle the Capitals better than they have on home ice. I think coaching is a big part of that. If you need a case study: Martin pulled Price with two and a half minutes left to go. In a lot of cases, pulling a goalie is a risky move. (And sometimes "risky" is just short for "what the hell are you thinking?") It rarely works for the Canadiens.  Even I know this. I can try and guess how many scoring chances the Caps usually get in two and a half minutes. So, somehow two empty-net goals surprise me less than Dominic Moore's goal did.

Tony Marinaro made a good point on his show tonight: Sergei Kostitsyn had a +2 this game. The Canadiens scored 3 goals this game. Sergei played less than 9 minutes. Somehow that doesn't add up. If he's doing well, Martin should have thought about playing him a little more. Isn't that logical? A guy's playing well, so more play will boost his confidence and probably make him improve, and will probably benefit the team as a whole? No?

Dear angry fans: think of kittens

Jaroslav Spacek played very well in games 1 and 2. He missed tonight's game because, apparently, he was feeling sick. He seems to be missing a few games because of illness or flu-like symptoms. I'd really like to know more about this - either there's a more serious issue that the fans don't know about, or Spacek's immune system really is that weak, and something needs to be done about it.

Hopefully tomorrow's team meeting will help this team tighten up a little bit. I think they've got it in them. They can win another game, I know it. Maybe the Bell Centre wasn't quite the boost I thought it would be.

Game 4 preview: Guess who's back?

No, not Paul Mara's beard

Carey Price will be starting in goal tonight.
Wow, it feels like I haven't typed those words in years. Proof that our Jaro is worth the ink he gets, but maybe just not ready for so many consecutive playoff games. (But that shouldn't be surprising... if the playoffs were easy for a goalie, then New Jersey would have won more than one game out of four.)

Did I just accidentally insult three people in one paragraph? ...That's bad.

Anyway, I'm getting ready for some hockey and gourmet burgers, so here's the beef:
Price and the non-Skeletor mask in net. By the way, it's one of the biggest stories on I thought that was pretty interesting.
Ryan O'Byrne gets to put some skates on, and maybe bust some Caps.
Mathieu Darche is a scratch, but with about three minutes of play in Game 3, that won't be much of a change.
Jaroslav Spacek and Scott Gomez missed the morning skate... Spacek is either mildly injured or watched Glee and Lost last night and can't concentrate on anything else. Unconfirmed rumours that he and Gomez spent this morning on MSN, exchanging OMG's. (Too many abbreviations, I know. I'll stop. I have dignity. I'm not Gossip Girl.)
I'd be willing to bet money that Semyon Varlamov is going to be Boudreau's guy for a while, so the boo-birds will have to wait a bit longer for a 60-minute round of Theo booing.

In other league news:
The Selke Trophy, for best defensive forward (or something of that nature) will be awarded to either previous winner Pavel Datsyuk, previous nominee Ryan Kesler, or guy that might have been nominated before but I don't remember, Jordan Staal.
The Lady Byng Trophy, awarded to the player who best balances being a good hockey player and being a good guy, will be handed to either Pavel Datsyuk (he's like Jeremy Piven and Best Supporting Actor awards), Brad Richards, who is not the same guy as Brad Richardson, or Martin St. Louis, who will probably be the focus of RDS reporting tonight. (It's OK! I'm okay with that!)
My nemesis (one of them, as I have many) got to meet gentleman and scholar Dave Stubbs, and I have yet to meet him, so I'm pretty angry about that, but it's not like there's anything I can do about it.

The Bulldogs also have a playoff game tonight, so there isn't much left to say...
Go Bulldogs!
Go Habs Go!

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's Not Easy Tonight

A little mood music... but the video is terrible. Just so you know.

What's the opposite of home-ice advantage?

Whatever was fuelling the Habs in Washington might have been lost in transit. They just weren't as "on" tonight as they had been in the first two games, and the Capitals just kept pushing, so a final score of 5-1 wasn't surprising. For the first time in this series, the Canadiens looked like they were going to lose.

The game could have gone better. But this series is getting more and more violent as it goes on. I haven't screamed "GOALIE INTERFERENCE!" at my TV that many times in a very long time. The Caps aren't just trying to outscore the Habs, they're trying to mess them up mentally and physically. (Maybe because of the Habs' strong start?) That's probably not going to change. We'll be seeing a lot more penalties, won't we?

It's hard to believe that Scott Gomez apparently got one five minute penalty in his entire career, before Saturday. (Really? That dude played for the Rangers. Somehow only one major penalty is a little hard for me to believe) He's racked up fifteen penalty minutes in the last two games. At least the fight that led to his penalty got everyone good and angry, and we got a goal out of it.

Requisite goalie-related comment: It was a rough game, and Halak had to be pulled. It wasn't him. The team as a whole wasn't playing well; it wasn't necessarily the goaltending. That being said, Price was solid. I expected him to be a little rusty, but that was old-school Carey Price we saw tonight. Hot damn. Now if only this team can regroup, get aggressive, and throw it all back at the Capitals.

Habs are turning the tables!

Plus of the night: Seeing Jean Beliveau in the stands. I'm so happy that he's in better shape!
Minus of the night: Seeing empty seats in the stands. What kind of humanoid would spend that much money to go to a playoff game, in seats that so many people wish their asses could warm, and then just up and leave? If you care about a team enough to shell out for playoff tickets, you STAY. If you don't stay, just don't go at all.

Tomorrow: The nominees for the Selke Trophy are announced. The media speculates who'll be in nets for Game 4. Mike Knuble hopes he doesn't run into me, because no one messes with a Montreal goalie without some screaming from Rookie.

Awards season starts

The nominees for this season's Vézina Trophy (that's best goaltender... I'll memorize all these Trophy names, I promise!) came out today.

Wow, the NHL really stretches this out. Usually awards nominations are just one big press conference, so I guess in my head the announcement would have been one event and that's it, not one category per day, to keep you waiting. If this were Hollywood, it would just be a podium, a couple of LCD screens, a short but boring welcome speech by Bettman, then on to two personalities (one hockey-related, like a Jeremy Roenick, and someone there for a little star power, like a Joshua Jackson, or since this is sports it would probably be just some random pretty girl) to make the announcement and maybe crack a joke or two.

Okay, the nominees:
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils. No real surprise there. Some people have been saying his age is going to start showing but... come on. He's the Meryl Streep of goalies.
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres. I'd shake my fist at him, because that's what I usually do, but that's exactly why he's nominated here. No surprise he's in the top three, as he's had a dynamite season.
Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes. This is the only surprise here for me, since I didn't think he's as much of a heavyweight as his contemporaries, but he's part of the reason why Phoenix is in the playoffs (and doing quite well) instead of being left to the side like some team nobody wanted.

Oh, and more good news? Glen Metropolit is back, so his eight-week recovery period really only lasted three weeks. The guy is magic or something, I'm convinced. He'll be taking Sergei Kostitsyn's spot on the ice - yes, one day after I gave coach a plus for not scratching Sergei.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Plus/Minus makes its playoff debut

This was the week the Capitals, the best team in the NHL this season, had to put up a fight against the Canadiens, who sneaked into the postseason like it was an R-rated movie. Elsewhere in the NHL, some players showed what they were made of. Stars are rising and fans are getting even louder. I'm actually making an effort to write Plus/Minus on a Sunday evening like I always intend to. It's definitely playoff season.


+ to whoever decided to put Geico's googley-eyed wad of money on a board behind Pierre McGuire stood in the Verizon Center this week. I'm not saying I noticed a resemblance every time I saw McGuire on TSN... except that's exactly what I'm saying.
+ Jaroslav Spacek has played two of his best games of the season.
+ A lot of people think that Jacques Martin hates Sergei Kostitsyn. But Sergei's been playing pretty well, and usually plays better when he thinks it counts, so I'm glad coach decided not to bench him.
+ Also that other K brother is pretty cool.
+ Vancouver's Green Men.
+ Andy Sutton is hilarious. He needs to be a little more careful about, y'know, not knocking out other players, but he gets this plus for being honest with an annoying reporter.


- The new Sidney Crosby shoe commercial - proof that sometimes, you should just let the animators do their work and not bother with celebrity endorsements or awful catchphrases. My feet don't need an energy drink.
- People paid just a little too much attention to Plekanec and Theodore's comments about each other. Sure, it sounds like they're spitting out wicked burns, but it's also proof that sometimes things get blown out of proportion.
- The genius who wrote into the Gazette with basically another letter about the NHL, money and the ethnic vote. Apparently today's NHL players don't deal with the shame of having fans talk to them in public and just prance directly from the ice onto a plane back to the scary, scary foreign countries they call home. I'm sure that's exactly what it's like. Every player on the Habs' roster lives in Montreal, at the very least, from training camp to the end of their season. I'm sure that at some point during all these long months (sometimes away from their families, other times right in front of them) someone will stop them on the street with an opinion, or interrupt their meal for an autograph, snap a picture with their phone, or tweet about them. Sure, some players are more motivated than others, but it's racist, ignorant blowhards like the Jean-Maurice who wrote this letter that create the kind of environment nobody wants to play in.

First home game of the playoffs tomorrow... go crazy, Montreal. Actually, on second thought, don't.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thoughts on Game 2

Huzzah! My laptop has found some Wi-Fi. And it's a hell of a game. A few end-of-period notes.

Manicure, consider yourself ruined.

So, after the first period:
As usual, we love our #21 and our #46. (And even those who don't... well, right now they do. Seriously. Check your Facebook and your Twitter if you don't believe me.)
A few scrapes during these first 20 minutes. First, José Théodore's ego got a little bruised. It must suck to get pulled after less than 10 minutes of play, but I guess this just wasn't his night. He pulled a little fit of frustration, but it wasn't as bad as the heinous bitch-fit I saw from J-S Giguère last winter. Then, Roman Hamrlik defended his net just a little too well, but didn't seem to sustain a major head injury from it. I'm a little more worried about Markov, who took a puck to the leg (either his knee or his shin). He looked like he was in pain, and a lot of people think he's already injured (he's been playing a little bit less superhumanly).
Watch out Habs, the Caps are getting it together and Ovie is angry.

After the second:
Mike Cammalleri caused a couple of penalties, but then got one of his own. Karma?
Andrei Kostitsyn is credited with two goals but only scores one. The Caps are only credited with one goal but really scored two.
Oh, and by the way, readers wearing hats, please take them off and throw them for Andrei (the "Belarusian Bomber"). It should have been raining hats.
Varlamov's earning his keep and Halak is... do I even need to end this sentence? Fantastical. Now if only Hal Gill could defend our net and screen the other one.

After the third:
I can't believe all that happened in just 20 minutes. I need a nap, a Zantac and maybe some electrolytes. Can I get a hit of that Gatorade, Jaro?
Well, it took five periods, but Ovechkin got his goal. It was pretty dirty, but Ovie gets the job done.
Speaking of Ovie, he tried to get up in Gionta's business after a huge, confusion around Varlamov's net. But no one messes with Brian Gionta, so we saw the resurrection of Scott Gomez, New York Ranger. He struggled a little, took down Tom Poti and skated to his 5-minute penalty, squinting like Clint Eastwood. (I seriously never thought I'd compare Gomez to Eastwood. Like, ever. Appreciate it, Scotty.)
Um, a whole bunch of goals, a moment of Plekanec/Cammalleri happiness (yes, even the toughest of athletes will hug like BFFs), and the game tied up at 5-5.
Jaro was not a happy camper by the end of this period. Maybe I should ask someone else for Gatorade.

Okay, next comes overtime. Will my stomach stop making noise?

Over as quickly as it began. Backstrom gets puck, puts it in net, posts a hat trick. No time to even bite a nail. I guess Backstrom cares about my manicure?
If the chances of seeing a hat trick are 1 in 18, does that mean that this game has exhausted all hat tricks for the remainder of the playoffs? Keep in mind I'm bad at math.

Star names you: 1. Backstrom 2. Andrei Kostitsyn, the Belarusian Bomber 3. Ovechkin

Game Preview: Habs v Caps, game 2

Photo yoinked from Mike Cammalleri's Twitter
photo prise du Twitter de Mike Cammalleri!

After game 1, Alexander Ovechkin apologized to Washington press for his lack of scoring:

"It's not about the Canadiens. It's all about me."

Sure, the NHL in general is about him, but our defence and Halak will prove him wrong tonight.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Game Won

(You'll have to pardon my publishing this a day after the fact, but in the immortal words of Liz Lemon, "My internet is weird.")
It's too bad they don't also make shirts that say "Tomas Jagr"

I think Habs fans from the Verizon Center to Montreal, all the way across the country and the ocean, are echoing Tomas Plekanec's two-handed fist pump.

This is not last year's team. They know they're in eighth place and it'll be a long way to the top if they wanna rock and roll, but clearly they're up for the challenge. Plekanec's overblown comments about José Theodore are proof of that, in a way. Our Habs were confident. Our coach was confident. (Words I wasn't expecting to type so soon after the end of season we just saw.) It's exactly that, confidence, that's going to get us through this series. The Capitals have the satisfaction of knowing they're the best team in the league. Alexander Ovechkin is generally fearless. Throughout the season we've seen him score goals and deliver hits (and just generally be Ovechkin) without thinking twice about it.

I think the team did what it had to do. Game 1 = won.

By the way, I think the nickname "Mean Mike Green" might stick around. He's become a pesky sort of defenceman. But at least he didn't bust anyone's head open tonight.

As for the rest of the playoffs:
Ottawa was really hungry in the first game of Pens v Sens, so an upset win wasn't entirely surprising. Or maybe Mike Fisher's teammates really want him to have the Stanley Cup at his wedding this summer. They can put the cupcakes in it! ("Stanley Cupcakes." You saw it here first. Unless you googled it like I just did.)
Colorado beat San Jose? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa? I fell asleep halfway through a then-scoreless game 1, and will probably miss all of tonight's West Coast action because of crazy early work tomorrow.
The Flyers beat the Devils... and they *are* playing against Brodeur. Whoa.
On Wednesday, Concordia hosted a free screening of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Plus, that night's Scrubs rerun featured Dr. Cox's love of the Red Wings. I figured the Coyotes just wouldn't have the juju to win a game on that particular night, but they did. Phoenix rising!
Much ado about punching when the Bruins played the Sabres... is anyone surprised?
Thanks to the Green Men, Vancouver beat Los Angeles. Go Green Men!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Get Ready For The Playoffs

Last year, the first day of the NHL playoffs came along, and The Gazette had yet to post Habs Inside Out's handy-dandy playoff bracket, jazzed up with official team logos.

How is anyone supposed to watch the playoffs without a bracket? So, I did what any completely crazy person would do if they had a spare hour. I made my own. I used a picture of one player from every playoff team that I liked - with some obvious problems arising in teams I hate. The Philadelphia Flyers, for instance, were represented by Will Smith, because there's no Flyer I like as much as, Roberto Luongo or Jarome Iginla.

This year's bracket is a little more chaotic than last year's, but that's because I decided to go all out for you guys. So, without further ado... Rookie and Google Image Search present...

The 2010 Playoff Bracket!
Right-click and open the image in a new window to see it full-size. It should print out on a single letter-size sheet (make sure you're landscape-oriented).

All the excitement of the first round on one sheet:

You've got Sharks vs. Avalanche, ready for a fight;
A Hawk and a Predator, ready to... predatorize each other;
Johnny Canuck vs. the King;
~czechtacular favourite Adrian Aucoin, looking to stop Pavel Datsyuk;
Two guys whose friendship will have to be put aside for a few games;
Philly's crazy wig man trying to steal David Puddy's Jesus-fish;
Buffalo vs. bear (from the "rejected Metric lyrics" category);
and of course Pens vs. Sens. Yes, it rhymes.

Happy playoffs, hockey fans!

Them's fightin' words

What happened today:

Allegedly, Sheldon Souray asked the Edmonton Oilers for a trade. Doesn't someone report this like once a month? (And if Gauthier wants him back will the Oilers take Scott Gomez? What? Who said that?)

The Tampa Bay Lightning fired both their GM (the weird-looking Brian Lawton) and their coach (the terrifying Rick Tocchet). Wow. The Florida Molsons must be very, very angry. They're going for a complete change from the ground up, in order to become a "world-class organization." Yeah, that'll happen.

And Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau met with media this morning and talked about his postseason strategy and the team he'll try to beat in the first round:

"That's the only game in town," Boudreau said of the Canadiens in Montreal. "They don't have to split it up and have the Nationals on some of the pages, the Wizards on some of the pages, the Redskins and [the Capitals]. It's Montreal. It's the Canadiens. It wouldn't surprise me if there's a ten-page spread come Wednesday and Thursday."
Ouch. Really, Boudreau? You decided to bring the Nationals into this? That's a low blow. Thanks for reminding this city that you've got our baseball team.

Actually, that smug, new-girlfriend kind of attitude is probably exactly what a team needs behind the bench when the Stanley Cup is at stake.

But seriously, ouch.

Last Plus/Minus before the playoffs

82 games later, and this city is still wondering what to expect from its legendary hockey team.

Well, we can definitely expect to see the Washington Capitals this week. No, we don't know what will happen. The love-hate relationship between fans and players continues, as our Habs just barely made it into the playoffs, almost out of spite. (I kind of want to see them win the Cup this year and have a team leader, exhausted and battle-weary, lift up the Stanley Cup and shout "Is this enough for you, jackasses?")


+ We made the playoffs!
+ Bill McCreary is one of my favourite game officials. (I can't name very many others, but I defy you to find a more even-tempered referee with a better mustache.) I'm quite happy that the NHL asked him to Brett Favre it and work for at least one more year.
+ Guy Boucher is the AHL's best coach, his first year in the league? Excellent.
+ to Steven Stamkos for tying Sidney Crosby as the NHL's best goal-scorer this season. (Don't worry, Ovie, you were still the first to reach 50 goals this season. And last season.)

Coach: you look how I feel.

- Okay, seriously, team? There were some excellent moments in this week's games but I would have preferred not to sneak into the playoffs by the back door. I'm hoping the Habs were just storing up some energy for the coming weeks. We're playing a team who hopped the express train to the postseason, whereas the Habs got there by... suburban public transit.
- The Leafs just love to screw with us, don't they? They lost the Rangers game that they should have won, and then decided to beat the Habs in OT (way to twist the blade, Dion Phaneuf), just to make sure to do their part in our squeak into the postseason.
- I've got to be honest. Lately, Jacques Martin hasn't really been as reassuring as a confident coach should be. The only big risk he's taken is starting Halak all week after some losses, but that's about as risky as ordering soup instead of salad.
- If the rumours are true that those guys in charge of the Flames want to rid themselves of Jarome Iginla, then they deserve a Darwin Award. I'll get the campaign going right after I make sure Pierre Gauthier makes Iginla a Hab.

Playing a team that I like in the first round of the playoffs. Last year when the Capitals played the Penguins in the playoffs, I told everyone I'd be okay with the results no matter who won. Then the Penguins eliminated the Caps, and I was not a happy little girl.

We'll see what happens, I guess.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hopefully not a season finale

If this hockey season had been a TV show, it would have a pretty good showrunner.

They're keeping us guessing until the last second: will we get that last crucial point? (Yes, because this isn't, like, Dexter where they can just kill off a character and call it a season.)

This season has come full circle: A team with the kind of players you'd need to be successful isn't a certainty to win. No one knows quite what to expect from this lineup. The only certainty is that the Leafs suck.

Sounds an awful lot like the season premiere. Um, I mean game 1. (With a different goalie, because new love interests tend to come along and characters or fans can get all doe-eyed and buy new shirts - happens on TV all the time!)

Let's hope game 82 is as awesome as game 1. Go Habs Go!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Habs win! (Yes. They do.)

Regular season is winding down, and I know this because people are winning things.

Allow me to stop you before you say "not games, ha ha."

After the news that ~czechtacular's favourite person, Guy Boucher, (I'm not exaggerating... if he's not her favourite person then he's definitely in the top 10) was named the best coach in the AHL, the Habs' two end-of-season awards were... um... awarded.

The 2009-10 cumulative Molson Cup was awarded to Jaroslav Halak... not much of a surprise there, he played consistently well throughout the season, was named a star of the game quite often, and only missed the games where he didn't start. He won by a pretty big margin too - 63 points to runner-up Carey Price's 48. Tomas Plekanec came in third in the standings with 43 points, and if you're surprised not to read any other names here, they were probably injured at some point this season.

This year's Jacques Beauchamp trophy (apparently now the Jacques Beauchamp-Molson trophy, I guess it got married or something), awarded by the media to the team's "dark horse" went to Josh Gorges. Or in formal terms, the member of the Canadiens who played a dominant role during the regular season, without earning any particular honor. But that sounds a little condescending. Personally, I'd have given it to him last year (that's what she said?) when it was awarded to Maxim Lapierre. Don't get me wrong, Max was fantastic last season, but he got the positive attention he deserved. So maybe this was like Scorsese's Oscar for The Departed... because honestly, if anyone doesn't know by now that Gorges is a good hockey player and an important part of this team, then they're an idiot. When I was in California, rewatching the Habs-Kings game on TV, the commentators noted that as a younger player in San Jose, he didn't really have a specific role on the team, nor was he secure on the roster. Then, he was traded to Montreal right around the time I started watching a little bit of hockey (and thus decided to keep an eye on the new guy that everyone hated for replacing Craig Rivet), and now, just as the LA guys said, he's an important part of our defense. Plus, he nearly got his head cracked open and still played the next game.

Runner-up was the very deserving Glen Metropolit, who works hard and is an all-around good guy. He skated today! Injury be damned.

(By the way, at press time that article said Gorges was last year's Masterton nominee for this team, when in fact it was Patrice Brisebois. I know that, and they forgot? Do they need an extra pair of eyes over there? Because I'm not that busy right now.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

CAR 5, FML 2

Hurricanes: more dangerous than rioting Habs fans!

Tonight was a great night to be a Carolina Hurricanes fan.

I mean, seriously, think about it. Here's one of the most important franchises in the NHL, ahead of the 'Canes in the standings, and away from a playoff spot by just one point. One little, tiny, minuscule point.

(And if I were any other blogger, right now I'd be making a joke about how "little" isn't a problem for this year's Habs.)

It's not just that the Habs played poorly, it's that the 'Canes played well. I think this was less of a "Why did we lose?" and more of a "What can we do to get Eric Staal on our team?" kind of game. Honestly. Near the end of the game Staal's eyebrows looked dangerously pale, and I tend to hate hockey players who don't have eyebrows. It was a pretty close call, but he burned Montreal pretty badly tonight.

Habs I/O proves that thing about a picture being worth 1000 words

This wasn't anyone's best game. I feel like this team has been working a lot on finesse, and skating little circles around the enemy (fancy Eric Staal-style?) but this wasn't the night for that sort of play, whether they were tight or a little clumsy. Tonight, the Habs had to be the perseverant, North American-style team we thought they would be once the roster was announced. It just wasn't there tonight.

Maybe we shouldn't be disappointed. This season's Habs are nothing if not surprising, and they can lose two games in a row just as easily as they can win them, and kick the Sabres' asses while having their own handed to them - twice - by the Hurricanes.

Maybe I should have let Kristin Chenoweth sing "Maybe This Time" to me a few more times. Maybe my friend shouldn't have prayed for Canada to win a gold medal at any cost, even the Canadiens missing the playoffs. (She admitted this to me about an hour ago. I had no idea.) Maybe it's because of the ice girls.

Yeah, it's definitely the ice girls and their half-shirts and their bad mojo. Lucky for us, there are no ice girls at the Bell Centre.

We have a Masterton nominee

I'm happy to announce that the Canadiens have selected Jaroslav Halak as their nominee for this year's Masterton Trophy.

Okay, I'll be honest, I don't quite know what the trophy is for. I've been a bit spoiled as a pop-culture junkie because awards categories are usually very clear - you know, Outstanding Drama Series, Best Actor In A Supporting Role, etc... I thought the Masterton Trophy was the NHL's way of giving comeback kids a pat on the back - you know, a guy is away from his team for a very long time because of illness, injury, or some other awful thing, then he comes back to a hero's welcome and kicks some ass. Cue Masterton Trophy. Right?

If that's the case, then I'm not really sure if we have a nominee. Injuries have been a little too prevalent this season to really single out one player, and some guys were gone for eons, while others recovered pretty quickly even though their heads were used as target practice or their faces got busted open. What kind of adversity has Jaro had to withstand? The shudder-inducing drama of last season? The annoying overblown rivalry that may have spotlighted his talents but also put him under pressure? A somewhat inconsistent team in front of him?

Okay, yeah, that counts.

But what if there's a guy out there who came back from diabetes or a serious concussion or something? What if some other team nominates a really old player, like how last year's Hab was Patrice Brisebois? Does Halak have a chance?

Well, apparently what the Masterton Trophy officially recognizes is "qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey." And here we have a goalie who has tried to take every chance he was given to shine. He's started a lot of games this season because he earned those starts. He practices hard and plays hard. He's pleased when he wins but is humble about it. And he's been kind enough to rise above the fray when the media and the fans start yapping about who's the better goalie (even when he regularly comes out on top). Since this nomination comes from the journalists, you can tell that he treats them with respect and that he's a great guy off the ice as well as between the pipes. He's one hell of a sportsman.

He's had a really good season, which makes him a likely candidate to be our Hart nominee as well (Hart is MVP, right? the guy who basically makes his team good?) although there are some other players who've also been a big part of the team's success this season. The thing is, the other teams in the NHL will probably have their own supertalented Hart nominees, and the winner is often a guy that no one is surprised to see named MVP. So there are a few players, most notably another goalie, more likely to take home the Hart than Jaro. That being said, he's getting a lot of deserved attention, and it might just be enough to get some Masterton votes.

As long as the old guys in the league aren't too beloved.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

happy? birthday.

You only know two things for sure in this life: that predicting the outcome of a Habs game is impossible and that somehow, Nicolas Cage will continue to make movies.

No, I don't know why people keep casting Nicolas Cage, come on people, it's 2010.

No, I don't know why the Canadiens are unpredictable either. It's understandable at this point in the season, when it's safe to assume that the players are tired and/or injured (and let's face it, "injured" isn't news to us this season). We can call this one an almost-win (you know, like an almost-goal, except for a whole game).  Things were going well enough for us until the last two minutes of the game, henceforth known as "please, hockey gods, PLEASE don't ruin this for me, I swear I'll be a better blogger if you just help me out here" time.

imagine this kitty wearing a tiny Habs jersey

Jaroslav Halak played almost as well as he usually does, but I'm a little scared that fatigue is setting in. Also, now that the rest of the league has caught on to how awesome he is, you know that other teams are working extra hard on figuring out how to scale mount KilimanJaro. I think we just found the dark cloud to our silver lining. (But I don't doubt for a second that Jaro's going to remedy this somehow.)

That shootout kind of hurt to watch. Still, I hope it doesn't ruin Max Lapierre's mojo. If he's back to his usual fine form, then it couldn't have come at a better time. Having a guy hit a hot streak at the end of a season is like having a designated driver: sure, he's less fun when everyone else is going crazy, but push comes to shove he's the guy taking everyone home when they're just a bit too ruined to get anywhere without him.

So, I'm sorry, Hal and Travis, that we couldn't follow through on an awesome birthday gift. But you can share your b-day disappointment with okay director Barry Levinson, noted comic actor Paul Rudd,  wicked awesome Zach Braff (maybe a Habs fan, and if he's not then he'll be an easy convert probably), former Hab wife DJ Tanner Candace Cameron Bure, sitcom star and Pixar go-to guy John Ratzenberger, and (I saved the best for last) Billy Dee Williams. So really, it sucks that the Habs lost, but at least two of them share a birthday with Lando Calrissian.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Plus/Minus tries new things

Happy Easter Monday, everyone. (Yes, chocolate is probably on sale, and no, I won't be offended if you want to read this later and run out to buy some right now.)
This week, as usual, was full of ups and downs, complaints and cheers, and is ripe for the plus-minus treatment, but I thought I'd try switching it up a little instead of lumping all the Pluses and Minuses together. (I guess this is my week of trying everything, what with my last post being one of the angriest things I've written on this blog to date).

A PLUS goes out to Jaroslav Halak, posting shutouts on two consecutive days and being named the NHL's first star of the week...
but a MINUS to everyone who's still acting like he doesn't get star treatment. The city loves him! And for good reason! Hello? What newspapers are these people reading? (Or writing for?)

A PLUS goes out to Dave Stubbs for saying what Jacques Martin should have said and supporting Carey Price, both online and in print, after a good game where he got booed...
but a MINUS to the geniuses who booed their own player in the first place, because they're clearly going to the Bell Centre for all the wrong reasons, and then sending negative comments to Mr. Stubbs, who is clearly not a chimp, a douchebag, or a poser, but I can think of some people in the cheap seats who are.

A PLUS to some great goals by Plekanec, Pyatt, Bergeron, Fancy New O'Byrne, and Sergei Kostitsyn...
BUT I kind of wish there could have been more. At least the team scored more than they let in? Yay?

A PLUS to the Bulldogs for having a kickass season and roaring into the playoffs, and to the PK Subban  for making it to the AHL's All-Rookie team...
but a MINUS to everyone who's ready to call him up, make him Habs captain and all this business. These are the same people who point out the flaws in our player development and who've screamed for blood when a younger player disappoints, and I'm a little worried they might just be perpetuating the cycle. We've got a great young defenceman who's talented enough and getting better by the minute and just generally likeable, but calling him up too early could lead to the same old story. Let's not count our PK's before they hatch, and see what happens in the months before next season starts. You know, since this season isn't even over yet.

A PLUS to the Olympic medallists who were honoured this week at the Bell Centre. It's nice to see them now that they're done their World Championships.
It would have been nice to see them get some free swag or maybe a handshake from an assistant captain, but a warm Bell Centre welcome is pretty good too, considering how prone to booing some fans are. I mean come on, some of them only won ONE gold medal. If that's not enough to make a drunken idiot start booing, then I really don't know what is.

I've got to let my poor laptop cool down a little (send any cooling pads to: but... last week of the regular season. I know you're excited. I am too.
Pictures yoinked (mostly) from Habs Inside/Out and

Friday, April 2, 2010

What to expect

Two games in two days on this Easter weekend. And they're not going to be easy games (not that we can predict "easy" games at this point in the season... right, Mr. Staal?).

We've reached a point in the season that we saw last year as well, and I didn't like it then. No, I don't like it now either. The playoffs are approaching faster than your unwanted Easter guests, and we're not sure the Habs are ready. Winning is crucial at this point in the season, but the team is weary and there are more than enough fans who've reached the point of um, let's be tactful and say irrational armchair coaching.

So, to those people, here's what's going to happen this weekend, and I can't believe you need someone like me to spell it out for you:

Yes we can

Tonight, Montreal plays Philadelphia. Now, if you don't already know that the Flyers like to punch people, and that the Habs are on their favourites list, then you don't have much time to catch up. Both teams need these two points, badly, and the Flyers will probably fight very hard to get what they want, which is excellent news since this is the time of year where everyone's injured and no one's telling. It's very possible that the Canadiens will crank out an awesome win, but keep in mind what usually happens when a team plays dirty.

Tomorrow, the Habs come home to the Bell Centre, where fans will likely be enjoying their Saturday night up in the cheap seats, and where yes, Carey Price may or may not be our starting goalie. You'll probably complain about this, but if you haven't considered the fact that Jaro might be a little tired from a busy season and the Olympics and oh, right, having played the night before, then you need to spend a little more time thinking about it. Especially you, Adam.
(Yes, I just called out a hater by name. He's probably not reading this but if he is, maybe he's learning something.)
Oh yeah, and the Habs will be playing the Sabres, boosted by Ryan Miller, who's been pretty tough to get around this season. It's not going to be easy. The team wants to win just as much as we want them to win, but two games in two nights with all the pain and pressure won't necessarily mean four points.

Just warning you. You know, in case you decide to be one of those Twitter monsters that ~czechtacular mentioned earlier this week, or one of the drunken Bell Centre superstars that Dave Stubbs called out, or one of the people who complains about a certain goalie all the time but wants PK Subban to wear the CH right now at any cost.

Okay, I feel better now that I've let all this out.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

...and so czechtacular gains psychic powers, apparently

I feel like that last post was pre-emptive of the ... events that transpired at the Bell Centre this evening. It's times like these where being right actually doesn't make me happy, and by that I mean all the boos and the tweets and Facebook statuses (statii?) dealing with Carey Price tonight.

Despite the recurrence of this scenario, some will still argue it. The recipe for disaster was actually not the man between the pipes this evening, but rather the inefficiency to capitalize at the right moments. Where's that Any Given Sunday speech? You know, the game of inches, and so on. You can fight all you want for that inch, but you still might not get it in the end. It can be flukey, it can be the bitterest pill to swallow, it may not make sense no matter how you look at it, but blame does not and should not rest on the shoulders of any one man in that room.

Unlike my references to poor JF in the previous entry, this season is one that's not over. Roman Hamrlik's misguided block accident has not yet come at a terminal cost. I don't know about you, but I'm looking at Friday night, whose implications have much bigger fish to fry than one bad goal and a case of the Cam Ward-led Spoiler Crew. Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love? Not anymore.