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.

 

Other Habs May Be Resting In The Off-Season, But I Can’t. Also, Sean Avery Gets A Little More Light-Headed. May 5, 2008

  Although the players will be saying their goodbyes and heading back to the cottages in Sainte Leonard and Sault Ste. Marie, or the dachas in Novopolotsk and Togliatti, I, however, will be continuing my workouts and strict discipline in preparation for when I’m called up as flag guy next season at the Bell Centre.

One thing I don’t need is an injury, so I’ve decided to sit when I’m drinking beer, and also to do as little as possible at work. Can you imagine when they call me to be flag guy and I have to tell them I pulled a muscle while dancing at the Moose Hall, or I’m too exhausted from doing too much for the Man at work?

Also, the photo above isn’t really me. But it kind of gives you an idea of what I’ll look like in my Habs uniform on flag night. In real life, I have legs and a neck.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Sean Avery spent his last playoff chances of the year in the hospital, and missed his team’s (New York Rangers) elimination.

There’s no truth to the rumour that the reason he was hospitalized was for the removal of his ego, which was growing at a dangerous rate.  There might be, however, some truth to the rumour that Avery was the least popular patient in the New York hospital.

TEAMS I HATE THE MOST IN THE NHL:

That would be the Flyers, Bruins, Devils, Leafs, Senators, Panthers, Hurricane, Lightening, Islanders, Rangers, Avalanche, Canucks, Wild, Stars, Sharks, Kings, Blues, Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Blackhawks, Oilers, Thrashers, Capitals, Penguins, Flames, Ducks, Predators, and Coyotes.

I like the rest, though.

WHO WILL WIN THE STANLEY CUP?

Oh, is hockey still going on?

 

 

 

 

Montreal’s Biggest Game Of The Year Is Tuesday Night April 14, 2008

Right now it matters little that Pittsburgh is poised to sweep the Ottawa Senators, or that Calgary has a shot at doing away with the favoured San Jose Sharks. Or that Dallas is surprising last year’s Stanley Cup champs, the Anaheim Ducks.

All that matters is game four in Boston. Montreal can ill-afford a loss to the newly-renewed Boston Bruins. Because it would be a loss that not only ties the series, but also creates even more momentum for the Bruins.

I’m sure Guy Carbonneau and his coaches are working hard to overcome Boston’s recent adjustments, which have seen the Bruins bottle up Montreal’s attack, and Alex Kovalev especially. For me, it all boils down to the power play. Get that back on track and the series will end quickly. 

One Montreal writer said recently that he doesn’t know why, but the number five is a big number this year. For instance, Montreal won game two, 3-2, which totalled five.

So keeping with that, our Habs can win Tuesday night, and then game five (there’s that five) back in Montreal.

And any long series is never good in the scheme of things, as the road to the Stanley Cup is a long- distance marathon, and Montreal needs to end it as soon as possible to be fresh and healthy for the second round. But I’m not getting ahead of myself. That would be bad luck. And smug.

The Canadiens absolutely need their power play to return. It’s been their bread and butter all year. They need to unravel the ropes the Bruins have tied around them. And in general, they need a big night from everyone, especially the first line.

Every game for the last month has been a huge game for Montreal. But none are bigger than this upcoming game four. 

Am I nervous? Of course I’m nervous. I’d be nervous if the Habs were up three games to nothing. But I also believe in my team.

Go Habs! You’re gonna do it.

 

Who Should Win. And The Best Things Boston Has Going For Them April 7, 2008

    Wednesday it starts, the quest for the Cup, with Ottawa visiting Pittsburgh, the Rangers are in New Jersey, Colorado goes to Minnesota, and Calgary takes on San Jose.

On Thursday, the other four series begin, with Nashville travelling to Detroit, Dallas goes to Anaheim, Philadelphia is in Washington, and, last, but not least, the best of them all, the only one that matters, the beginning of the saga – those dastardly Boston Bruins, right now shaking in their boots, jet to Montreal whether they want to or not.

And although Toe Blake said predictions are for gypsies, I’m going to have my say about who I think will win each series. And this isn’t rocket science.

It’s not going out on a limb to say Pittsburgh will beat Ottawa.

The Devils very possibly could be taken out by the Rangers.

Minnesota should beat Colorado because I don’t trust Jose Theodore.

San Jose should wipe the floor with Calgary.

Detroit will have no problem with Nashville.

I’ve no idea who will win the Dallas-Anaheim series, but probably Anaheim will.

Washington, because they’re on such a roll, should beat Philadelphia.

And Montreal will ice an almost healthy team and spank the Bruins like they’ve never been spanked before.

The best thing’s Boston has going for them is:

Don Cherry doesn’t coach them anymore. They’re in big enough trouble already without having any ‘too many men on the ice’ penalties called against them.

Boston goalie Dave Reese no longer plays, so there probably won’t be any Montreal players getting a ten point night like Darryl Sittler did.

Fans at the Bell Centre won’t be in danger because Mike Milbury, who liked to fight up in the crowd, is only a lousy hockey anaylst now.

Eddie Shore is long gone, so Montreal players are safe from getting clubbed over the head.

And Phil Esposito’s retired, so there’ll be no trails of brylcreem all over the ice.

 

 

 

Basking In The Afterglow Of The Big Win Against The Devils March 13, 2008

Just for the helluvit, my wife and I are in Bellingham, Washington at this very moment basking in American northwest life. Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens are basking in their tremendous 4-0 win over Martin Brodeur and his New Jersey Devils. It’s a quiet time. A nice time. It was a huge win, and a convincing win. If only the Habs had played like this against Anaheim a couple of days ago. 

It’s a long day leaving Powell River. It takes two different ferries, which means waiting and all that. But it’s warm, there’s no snow, and I don’t have to drive trucks anymore.

But from time from time, a little road trip works wonders for the soul. So now it’s Bellingham, Washington.

All I can do now, as we wait for the Senators, is pass on important hockey words, words that put it all in perpective, words from the extremely quotable and smart and colourful Toe Blake, a man I’ve quoted before and will quote again. Toe explained what hockey is.  Are you ready?

“Hockey is a very simple game,” said Toe Blake. “It’s played in two V’s – one moving away from our net, and the other moving toward theirs.”

 

Life In The Russian League Would Be A Good Life For players Like Grabovski March 11, 2008

When recently called-up forward Mikhail Grabovski got his shorts in a knot about not playing and ran into the arms of his agent, it possibly marked the beginning of the end for the young Belarus centreman as far as becoming a real player for the Montreal Canadiens. After his hissy-fit, coach Carbonneau did absolutely the right thing by not dressing him for the LA game.

But surprisingly enough, at the time at least, the young guy played the next night in Anaheim. And as it happens, he set up Alex Kovalev for a really nice goal, and also lost nine of ten faceoff draws. But it turns out he only played because Tomas Plekanec had the flu.

And next year, he could see lots of ice time in the Russian Super League.  

You see, here’s the thing about this Russian league. I’ve been to a handfull of games in Russia since 1991, and back then, players’ yearly salaries there amounted to what Ryan O’Byrne and the other rookies left as a tip in Tampa Bay. It was mostly bus rides, not planes, silly old Soviet hotels, and not much in the way of adulation from fans. And not only that, when the games ended, players from both teams hung around centre ice and shot the shit, which I found really bizarre.

But it’s different now by a country mile. And not just hockey, but Russia in general. Gone are lineups into little food shops for some cheese and a loaf of bread. Now it’s modern malls with food courts, and fast food, fast cars, and fat cats abound. Someone who’d been away from Russia since 1991 and just came back wouldn’t recognize it.

And so it’s filtered down into hockey. Players now in the Russian League who were making $200 a week not that long ago, are now signing million dollar contracts. Where once they were living in old and decrepid Soviet housing, they now have swanky condo’s.

So for guys like Grabovski and other young players from Eastern Europe, playing near home, knowing the language, eating food they grew up with, is a wonderful alternative to the NHL.

Don’t be surprised to see the number of Russian players and those of nearby countries slowly dwindle from the NHL as life in the old country continues to improve.

Maybe it’s best for Mikhail Grabovski. Although he’s small, he’s got lots of raw talent, but to play in the NHL, your head has to be screwed on properly.  Not being happy about not playing is one thing, and is actually appreciated by coaches and teammates. It shows you need to play, to help the team. It sucks not to play. 

But when you bolt the team and run to your agent, it’s different.

It also really bugs me about the “agent-father-figure” thing. Am I wrong to believe that these agents are there for the money, the healthy cut of the player’s salary, not because they’re doing it out of the goodness of their heart?

 

Like Toe Blake Said, “Predictions Are For Gypsys.” March 10, 2008

As the team comes home to Montreal after their sort-of good, two wins, two losses, California and Phoenix roadtrip, they only have a day and a half before they clash with the New Jersey Devils. So while they’re getting massages from their wives, helping with the kids’ homework, and resting those weary bones, it gives us a little time to ponder the future.

Have a look at the standings and see if we can kind of figure out just who might play who in the playoffs, which are coming up fast. First though, notice how many goals Montreal has scored? It’s fire wagon hockey! (Cont’d after stats)

GP W OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10
1 New Jersey Devils* 69 40 23 6 86 180 159 22-12-1 18-11-5 7-2-1
2 Montréal Canadiens* 70 38 23 85 223 197 16-12-5 22-11-4 6-4-0
3 Carolina Hurricanes* 71 37 29 79 216 221 21-12-3 16-17-2 7-2-1
4 Pittsburgh Penguins 70 39 24 85 206 192 19-10-5 20-14-2 5-3-2
5 Ottawa Senators 70 38 25 83 223 209 20-12-3 18-13-4 3-5-2
6 New York Rangers 69 36 24 81 183 169 22-13-1 14-11-8 8-0-2
7 Boston Bruins 69 36 25 80 183 191 18-13-4 18-12-4 6-2-2
8 Philadelphia Flyers 69 35 26 78 212 197 16-13-4 19-13-2 5-2-3
9 Buffalo Sabres 69 32 27 10  74 209 201 17-13-4 15-14-6 4-4-2
10 Washington Capitals 70 32 30 72 203 209 17-15-3 15-15-5 4-4-2
11 Florida Panthers 71 32 31 72 190 200 14-13-7 18-18-1 5-3-2
12 New York Islanders 70 32 31 71 170 204 17-16-3 15-15-4 4-6-0
13 Toronto Maple Leafs 70 30 30 10  70 196 216 16-14-5 14-16-5 6-3-1
14 Atlanta Thrashers 70 30 32 68 186 230 17-15-3 13-17-5 1-5-4
15 Tampa Bay Lightning

Anyway, if New Jersey, for example, keeps playing stingy hockey and Martin Brodeur continues his great goaltending, they stand a good chance to finish first. If Montreal finishes second, they’d play Boston.

However, Boston’s been faltering lately and Philadelphia could overtake them.  Pittsburgh’s coming on strong. The Rangers are heating up. Montreal, of course, is in the thick of it, could very possibly end up in first, and I’m mighty proud. Ottawa could get back on track at any time.

So what this means is, I know absolutely nothing about who’s going to play who. Even Buffalo, now out of the race, could find themselves back in it if Philly slumps and the Sabres put together a decent winning streak.

So as much as I wanted it to look like I knew how this was going to play out, I don’t know a thing. It’s too tricky, too unsure. You just never know. Toe Blake was right.

I’m going back to sleep.