Dennis Kane’s Excellent Montreal Canadiens Blog

Changing Daily, And Full of Stuff You May Or May Not Remember

Pittsburgh and Detroit Go For The Cup. This Is Good, I Suppose. May 19, 2008

Two real good teams are going to tangle for the Stanley Cup. I’ve got no complaints about this. It’s not like it’s the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricane, or Tampa Bay Lightening. Or even, dare I say, the Anaheim Ducks.

No, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings are a solid matchup and two good hockey towns to boot. Pittsburgh had an NHL team in 1925, the Pirates, which lasted until 1930, and the city’s had the Penguins since league expansion in 1967.

Detroit’s been in the league since 1926 when they took over the Victoria BC franchise. The city and team like to call itself Hockeytown, which is a little off. If Detroit’s Hockeytown, then Montreal and Toronto must be Hockeycities.

And if the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit doesn’t start getting more fans in the seats, the nickname might have to be changed to ‘Used to Be Hockeytown.’

This leads me to my second complaint. It’s fine that Gordie Howe is called Mr. Hockey, but isn’t that for others to label the man? My personal opinion is, he shouldn’t be signing autographs as “Gordie Howe, Mr. Hockey.” Doesn’t that make him just a little bit full of himself?

Gordie Howe is considered by not all, but many, as the greatest ever. Greater than Gretzky, Orr, Richard, and Lemieux. It’s a judgement call. Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall told me Howe was the best there was.

He doesn’t need to blow his own horn. Let others do that for him. Let others call him Mr. Hockey.

And I say this with the utmost respect for Mr. Howe.

Am I wrong for thinking this? I’m pretty sure Mario never signed as Mario “The Magnificent One” Lemieux, or Orr as Bobby “The World’s Greatest Defenceman” Orr, or Maurice “Hero of a Province” Richard.

This year’s final is a sexy affair because of so many stars involved. Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, Staal, Malone, Zetterburg, Datsyuk, Franzen, Lidstrom, Draper. And the guy who played on the original 1926 Wings, Chris Chelios.

It’ll be good. I may even watch some of it.

The thing begins Saturday in Detroit.

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There’s A Lot Of LA Kings Fans Out There: But I’ve Only Met One March 8, 2008

Last year while at the airport in Frankfurt, I got talking to a Russian father and son who now live in Los Angeles but were traveling back to the old country for a visit. The son, who was about 16, didn’t want to talk about Russia at all though. All he wanted to talk about was his favourite team, the Los Angeles Kings.

And you know what struck me? The fact that unless you live in California, there are probably very few LA Kings fans out there. I’m pretty sure about this. This kid was going on about his favourite player, Alexander Frolov, and it just seemed slightly odd, that’s all.

The Kings were in the very first group of six teams in the 1967-68 expansion that saw the league double from six to twelve teams. They were joined by the California Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, and St. Louis Blues.   kings1.jpg

Along the way, there’s been some sorts of interest involving this team. In the late ’70’s, early’80’s, the line of Marcel Dionne, Charley Simmer, and Dave Taylor were a top line in the league. In 1988, Wayne Gretzky was traded from Edmonton to LA, which sparked interest in hockey in southern California. And later on, owner Bruce McNall did time in prison for shady business deals.

But no Stanley Cups. Just a lot of sunburns, golfing, Hollywood parties, and pretty darn good crowds at the Staples Center, or Fabulous Forum, or whatever name they’ve used over the years.

Now today, March 8th, the Habs are in town for a game which is big for them but not so much for the Kings, who don’t have a sniff at a playoff spot. Hopefully though, the young Russian fellow will have his ticket and cheer like crazy for his team.

 

Watching In Style As Montreal Wins In Phoenix March 7, 2008

Three big things happened in the last little while. Montreal beat Phoenix 4-2, they grabbed first place in the east again because of this win, and I watched the game on my brand new TV.

And not only did I watch the game on my new TV, but I also watched it on RDS French which shows every Habs game but you need a a box or digital cable to get it, which I now have.

And even though I don’t speak a lot of French, it’s no problem watching hockey on a French network. The players names are the same, and the puck does the same thing. Any hockey fan worth his or her salt can enjoy a game even if they don’t understand the announcers.

So it was interesting to see a game in Phoenix. I’m not sure if I ever have before, and the big thing that sticks out is there were a serious number of Habs fans there, with Montreal jerseys all over the place. Phoenix, of course, gets a lot of snowbirds, so the rink was packed with Canadians seeing their Canadiens.

I also thought Wayne Gretzky had a pretty expensive-looking suit with snazzy cream- coloured tie.

It wasn’t good that the Habs gave up 39 shots, but it seems like Carey Price rebounded just fine from his weak performance in San Jose. However, I’m really hoping Carbonneau plays Halak in Los Angeles on Saturday so the guy can get some work under his belt.  

After Los Angeles on Saturday, the boys get a real test Sunday in Anaheim against the Ducks. (Isn’t ‘Ducks’ a really stupid name?)

But for now anyway, the team’s in first place in the east and my new TV, which is way bigger than my old TV, is pretty darn fantastic.

 

A Loss Like This To The San Jose Sharks Means There’s Still Work To Be Done March 4, 2008

It’s not so much the loss tonight in San Jose that bothers me. Teams lose, whether they’re the 1958 Montreal Canadiens, the 1985 Edmonton Oilers, or the 1979 Soviet National team. No team can go forever without losing. It’s impossible, like robbing bank after bank and never getting caught.

But Monday night in San Jose, Montreal didn’t just lose, they lost ugly. They lost by giving up 39 shots and 6 goals, which is unacceptable in anyone’s books. Ordained number one goalie Carey Price, coming into tonight’s game, had given up a stingy four goals in three games. Now tonight, it’s six. Hopefully this one game won’t blow his recently regained confidence.

39 shots on goal is not at all what the doctor ordered. Granted, the team kept it close all night, staying within a goal for most of it, but in the end this 6-4 loss is a loss is a loss. 

At least Ottawa fell to the Anaheim Ducks on this same night, losing 3-1 and stays behind Montreal in the eastern standings.

So now it’s time to rebound. It’s time to get stingy again, to tighten up, to score more on the power play, to win big.

Thursday night in Phoenix, let’s show Wayne Gretzky and those desert dogs that the Montreal Canadiens mean business. 

GP W L   OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10
1 Pittsburgh Penguins* 67 37 23   7 81 198 185 19-10-5 18-13-2 5-3-2
2 Montréal Canadiens* 67 36 22   9 81 213 190 16-12-5 20-10-4 7-3-0
3 Carolina Hurricanes* 68 34 29   5 73 203 213 19-12-3 15-17-2 7-2-1
4 New Jersey Devils 66 37 23   6 80 172 156 21-12-1 16-11-5 6-2-2
5 Ottawa Senators 67 37 24   6 80 217 202 20-12-3 17-12-3 3-5-2
6 Boston Bruins 65 35 24   6 76 179 180 17-12-3 18-12-3 7-2-1
7 New York Rangers 66 34 24   8 76 175 164 21-13-0 13-11-8 7-1-2
8 Philadelphia Flyers 66 33 25   8 74 203 189 14-12-6 19-13-2 3-4-3
9 Buffalo Sabres 66 31 26   9 71 200 192 17-12-4 14-14-5 4-5-1
10 Washington Capitals 67 31 28   8 70 197 202 17-14-3 14-14-5 4-3-3
11 New York Islanders 67 31 29   7 69 164 193 17-15-3 14-14-4 6-4-0
12 Toronto Maple Leafs 67 29 28   10 68 186 208 16-12-5 13-16-5 6-3-1
13 Florida Panthers 68 29 31   8 66 181 196 12-13-7 17-18-1 3-4-3
14 Atlanta Thrashers 67 29 31   7 65 178 219 16-14-3 13-17-4 3-4-3
15 Tampa Bay Lightning 65 26 32   7 59 183 213 16-16-2 10-16-5 3-5-2
Western Conference
Rank GP W L   OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10
1 Detroit Red Wings* 67 43 18   6 92 209 150 21-8-2 22-10-4 2-7-1
2 Dallas Stars* 69 41 23   5 87 207 171 21-11-2 20-12-3 7-3-0
3 Minnesota Wild* 66 37 24   5 79 179 177 19-10-3 18-14-2 5-4-1
4 Anaheim Ducks 68 38 23   7 83 173 165 22-8-4 16-15-3 9-1-0
5 San Jose Sharks 66 37 21   8 82 176 159 15-13-5 22-8-3 6-4-0
6 Calgary Flames 66 34 23   9 77 186 185 16-10-8 18-13-1 6-3-1
7 Vancouver Canucks 65 32 23   10 74 172 167 17-11-5 15-12-5 5-2-3
8 Colorado Avalanche 66 34 26   6 74 183 180 19-11-2 15-15-4 4-5-1
9 Nashville Predators 66 33 25   8 74 193 190 20-10-4 13-15-4 5-3-2
10 Phoenix Coyotes 66 33 28   5 71 176 176 14-15-3 19-13-2 5-4-1
11 Columbus Blue Jackets 67 30 27   10 70 164 176 16-10-6 14-17-4 4-4-2
12 Chicago Blackhawks 65 31 28   6 68 187 188 17-13-1 14-15-5 7-3-0
13 Edmonton Oilers 66 31 30   5 67 182 200 19-14-1 12-16-4 6-4-0
14 St Louis Blues 65 28 27   10 66 161 180 18-13-5 10-14-5 3-5-2
15 Los Angeles Kings 67 26 36   5 57 193 224 14-17-2 12-19-3 3-5-2

x – clinched playoff spot
 

Dramatic Win Against The Devils. Up Now, A West Coast Road Trip for the Habs. March 2, 2008

palm-trees.jpgMontreal showed the hockey world tonight that they can play any style, against any team, and are a team to be reckoned with as playoff time draws closer.

A close, well-played 2-1 win against the tight-fisted Devils just may have finally woke up those on the TSN panel and elsewhere that Montreal needs to be included in the elite pack who could win the Stanley Cup. After all, Les Canadiens now are the proud holders of first place in all the east.

I was just as proud of my team tonight as I was the night they came back from 5-0 against New York to win 6-5.

After tonight’s game, the boys hop on a plane and fly to sunny California and Arizona for games Monday in San Jose, Thursday in Phoenix, Saturday in LA, and Sunday in Anaheim. Ryan O’Byrne will be in bed reading his Gideon’s bible by 10 PM every night during this road trip.

nabokov_playerimage.jpg      gretz.jpg    kings.jpg    rubber-duck.jpg    beer.jpgOf course every game’s a big game, and it’s great that the team can get out of Montreal where there’s been so much snow and deepfreeze, but these warm- climate trips can often be a problem. Montreal’s record in Florida over the years has been less than stellar, and the latest escapade in Tampa Bay with O’Byrne capped it. And California hasn’t always been kind to our guys either.

It’s pretty hard to concentrate on the task at hand when there’s pool-side sitting, bikini- watching, and golf-playing to be had. The home teams down in these areas are used to this less-than-hockey world lifestyle, but for the Habs coming down from the great white north, it’s like a kid in the candy store.

I hope it rains, a hurricane comes up, a tornado blows in, hail falls, sleet whips across, and the south-west experiences the coldest March in history. Just so they don’t lose focus.

Maybe Jean Beliveau will come along and babysit. But I don’t believe they’ll need it. Montreal’s on a mission. I haven’t seen them play this well in years.

 

Howe, Orr, Gretzky, and Lemieux. Which One Goes? February 5, 2008

You’re the unbelievably lucky GM of your team because you have Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, and Mario Lemieux on it. But because of your tight budget, you must trade one of them. All are 26 years old, and all are completely healthy. Who will you choose?

GORDIE HOWE, Mr. Hockey, was 6’1″, 205 lbs, and played right wing. In his career, he won 4 Cups, 6 MVP’s, was scoring champ (Art Ross trophy) 6 times, played in 23 All Star games, and holds 9 NHL records. In 1767 games, the big guy scored 801 goals, 1049 assists, for 1850 points.

Howe was also tough as nails, strong as an ox, and if you tried to rough him up in the corner, chances are you came out with your nose broken. He is Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall’s choice as greatest ever.

BOBBY ORR was like a forward playing defense. He could skate like the wind, make end to end rushes and get back quickly enough to break up the attack. and for all the beautiful things he could do with his skills, he was also undeniably strong and could hold his own in fights with pretty well anyone in the league. He was 6′!”, 200 lbs, and is the only defenseman in history to win the Art Ross trophy as scoring champion. He won two Stanley Cups, and in 657 games, notched 270 goals, 645 assists, for 915 points. He holds the record for most points by a defenseman in one season with 139. He would be Don Cherry’s choice.

WAYNE GRETZKY, The Great One, can only be measured by the magical numbers he put up because he wasn’t strong, couldn’t fight, and looked like he should be playing beach volleyball instead. But what numbers! In 1487 games, he scored 894 goals, 1963 assists, for 2857 points. He was a machine. He holds 40 regular season records, 15 playoff records, and 6 All Star records. He won 4 Stanley Cups, was MVP 9 times, and had over 200 points 4 times. And when you think about think about the fact that a 50 goal season is an incredible accomplishment that only a few of the elite can reach, remember that Gretzky had a 92 goal year, and an 87 goal year. He was a machine.

MARIO LEMIEUX was big – 6’4″, 230 lbs, and if he hadn’t had problems with his health that included Hodgkins Lymphoma, his numbers just may have been up around Gretzky’s. Gretzky played 572 more games than Mario.

 In 915 games, he scored 690 goals, 1033 assists, for 1723 points. He holds 12 NHL records and 11 Pittsburgh Penguins records. He also won 2 Stanley Cups and was MVP of the league 3 times. He had a big reach, soft hands, and could score carrying players on his back, much like the Rocket did.

BUT AS GM, YOU HAVE TO GET RID OF ONE OF THESE GUYS.

I suppose there’s two choices. Bite the bullet and choose one, or just retire early so you don’t have to make this decision.

But I’m making mine. And I choose……..Mario.

Mario was huge but didn’t really care for the rough going. (An aside: His very first fight was against my good friend, the much smaller, and tragically, recently deceased Gary Lupul). Howe was tougher than anyone in the league, Orr was tougher than the majority, and Gretzky had Dave Semenko. Mario also wasn’t all that hard a worker when he didn’t have the puck.

Other than these, the only reason I can come up with is I just can’t see myself saying goodbye to Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, or Wayne Gretzky.