Dennis Kane’s Excellent Montreal Canadiens Blog

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Mike Bossy Does It Well, Alex Ovechkin Doesn’t May 17, 2008

Watching Henrik Lundqvist get yanked in Sweden’s 5-4 loss to Canada in the World Hockey Championship reminded me of something. Lundqvist speaks English with no accent whatsoever. At least that’s what my ears have heard in the couple of interviews I’ve seen of the Ranger goalie on TV.

Speaking perfect English is an amazing thing when it’s not your mother tongue. It’s very admirable. Some European NHL players have mastered it. For most, of course, it’s impossible.

Detroit’s Swedish star Nick Lidstrom speaks English almost perfectly, but you can detect that Swedish tongue in there just slightly. And it’s a little more so with Mats Sundin and Daniel Alfredsson. You can definitely here the Swedish way of talking in their speech, although their English is excellent.

But not at all with Lundqvist. In those two interviews I heard, he could’ve been the guy in the pool hall, Or the Canadian goalie in the beer league. I need to hear more from Lundqvist. I’m curious about this.

The NHL Russian guys’ English is basically all the same, ranging from pretty good to lousy.  Alex Kovalev speaks English pretty well, with the obvious Russian accent,  but Alex Ovechkin is still a work in progress, and Evgeny Malkin is only beginning. Igor Larionov, on the other hand, spoke excellent English back in the days when Soviet players couldn’t play over here, and so had very little exposure to English. Somehow, though, he got great at it.

Larionov even snuck away from the Russian camp to Wayne Gretzky’s parent’s house in Brantford during the 1987 Canada Cup and partied with all the Canadian guys.

Remember the 1972 Summit Series? We got the odd interview with some of the Russian players including Valeri Kharlamov, and they were interviews using an interpreter. But at the end, the few Russian players managed a meek “thank you” in English, and it was both surprising and wonderful.

The Finnish players pick it up pretty well, like Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, but you can hear the Finnish accent in there, even though their words and grammar are perfect.

The Czechs, it seems, have a little bit of a harder time of it. Jaromir Jagr’s English is terrrible, after all these years in North America. Tomas Plekanec, however, looks promising as a speaker of English. But the Czechs, like the Russians, use their throats and tongues differently, so there’s many English words they’ll never master properly.

Some of the English guys speak French really well. I can’t learn French, but they speak it with almost no accent. Mike Bossy wins by a landslide on this front.

Henri Richard was so quiet in the early days of his career, that when Toe Blake was once asked if Henri could speak English, Blake replied, “I don’t even know if he can speak French.”

French guys like Daniel Briere, Martin Biron, Vincent Lecavalier, Mario Lemieux, and Canucks’ coach Alain Vigneault speak English with only a trace of an accent. It’s very impressive.

It’s just a good thing there’s no heavy-duty Scotsmen in the NHL. Their accent can be thicker than lumpy gravy. I worked with a Scottish guy in Calgary who had been in Canada for years, but he could talk to me for fifteen minutes and I wouldn’t have a clue what he was saying.

Compared to this guy, Alex Ovechkin sounds perfect.

 

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Much Ado About Nothing. French or English Music At Habs Games – Who Cares? It’s Hockey, Not Sex May 9, 2008

A Montreal publisher, Michel Brule, is complaining that not enough French music is being played at the Bell Centre during Habs games.

He said the Canadiens have no respect for francophones because of the lack of French music.

Here’s my thoughts on this:

I could care less if the music was more French or not. It’s about the game, not the music, and most of the English stuff they play at rinks I’ve heard about 80,000 times.

These people who complain about songs are, plain and simple, really overreacting. It’s a hockey game, and the music is only very brief clips when there’s a time out or an icing call or whatever. It’s not something to get worked up about.

These folk probably need a vacation, or maybe it’s just that they really like to see their names in print.

I’d like to say to all French people in Quebec,  I like and respect you. I wish I spoke French better than I do. 

And the French women are spectacular to look at.  

Maybe the Bell Centre will give in and play your music. I hope it’ll make you feel better. But more importantly, much more importantly, is that the Habs win, not if Robert Charlebois isn’t being played but Gary Glitter is.

Don’t forget – anything’s better than the ole song.

And Jason Castro’s been kicked off American Idol so we probably won’t have to worry about hearing him either.

 

 

No One Said It Would Be Easy. But The Montreal Canadiens Will Come Out Flying On Wednesday Night. April 29, 2008

If the Montreal Canadiens can finally solve Martin Biron, they’ll win this series. If they can’t, they’ll be done, and I’ll have to go to plan B for this blog, which, by the way, will be unbelievably interesting so none of you would have to leave me because you’d miss too much good stuff if you did.

But Blog Plan B won’t be coming anytime soon, because Montreal will win this series. Carey Price will rebound, and this year’s playoffs will make an incredibly interesting chapter in the book that will some day be written about young Mr. Price. He’s cool as a cucumber, he’ll be back, and that’s bad news for the Flyers and their fans.

Montreal needs all hands on deck. That means Mike Komisarek, Guillaume Latendresse, Mark Streit, the Kostitsyn’s, Chris Higgins, Roman Hamrlik, me, Mike, der Habinator, Rick the Trucker, Brian, Robert, Danny, the hockey gods, and the amazing bandwagon punkette, Danielleia.

And I have complete faith that Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu will take the bull by the horns and lead this team to the promised land.

Montreal just needs to continue what they’re doing, which is outshoot the Flyers, storm the net, and make some of the lunkheads on the Flyers like Derian Hatcher and Steve Downey continue to take unnecessary and poorly-timed penalties which will seal their team’s doom once the Habs power play is back on track completely.

Mike Richards, who was a class act with Canada in the World Juniors a couple of years ago, still needs maturing, and Montreal can get him off his game without much problem. He gets upset too easily, will take bad penalties because he’s upset, and we need to take advantage of his habit of losing it.

And maybe Mike Komisarek could punch him in the mouth from time to time for good measure.

And about blog plan B, coming this summer. Of course it’ll stay Habs talk, but because no games will be on, it’ll be more pictures, more old stories, and maybe even a photo tour of Powell River, a place you’d all like to live whether you know it or not.

Until then, though, it’s get rid of the greasy Flyers, roll over the Penguins or Rangers, and take on, with huge confidence, whoever comes out of the west.

But first things first, and that means Wednesday night. Come on, boys, have a couple of good practices, eat your broccoli, go to bed early, focus, meditate, and concentrate on shooting pucks under, over, and through Mr. Biron.

Habs Universe, and Danielleia, are behind you.

 

 

 

Montreal Remembers Their Game Just In Time And Puts Stake In The Bruins April 21, 2008

 GAME 7

 It wasn’t their best game of the season, but it was certainly their best game of the playoffs. By far their best game. A beautiful 5-0 shutout. It’s like getting rid of a big boil on your nose.

Monday night, game seven, we saw the Montreal Canadiens we had become used to throughout the regular season. They attacked. They skated. They played with poise. And that’s the way they should have being playing all along in this opening round. 

Maybe they’ve learned something from this stressful seven game experience with the Bruins. From now on, we do the attacking, not the other guys. 

So what happened for the Montreal Canadiens, down and out after blowing a three games to one lead, with the Bruins carrying all the confidence and momentum going into this deciding game? How could they come out in game seven, find the game they were desperately looking for, and skate away with a mouth-watering 5-0 shutout to eliminate the pesky Bruins?

Carey Price kept them in it early in the game, and then it was like a lightswitch went on. The Canadiens suddenly remembered how they won the eastern conference. Everyone stepped it up, they attacked, and the Bruins became no match.

Alex Kovalev was flying, so were the guys who had been in a funk – the Kostitsyn’s, Tomas Plekanec, Chris Higgins, Mark Streit, and about ten others.  Carey Price, who went from giving up ten goals in two games to none when it counted the most, in game seven, was fabulous, and showed he doesn’t rattle in a pressure cooker.

Guy Carbonneau was no longer outcoached by Claude Julien, and whatever he did to get the team to open it up like they did, he’s got to bottle it and feed it to his players in the second round.

And what a difference Saku Koivu makes when he’s in the lineup.

The Bruins were good, fought hard, they stressed out me and most Habs fans, and I’m glad they’re out of there. I’ve had enough of Zdeno Chara and his shorter teammates. They were good, but Montreal showed that when they’re firing on all cylinders, they’re better. 

So it becomes this – If Philadelphia eliminates Washington, then Montreal plays Philadelphia in the next round. But if Washington wins, Montreal takes on Sean Avery and the New York Rangers.

I don’t care who it is. Bring em on!

Just play every game like Monday’s game, boys, and you’ll take out either one of them.

 

 

Game 5: Nightmare At The Bell Centre April 17, 2008

  GAME 5

Montreal has given us a lot of great and exciting moments this year. Tonight wasn’t one of them.

In a game where the Canadiens could have eliminated Boston and had a nice rest in preparation for the next series, they came out and smelled up the joint. Now they’d better look themselves in the mirror, and take a good, long, hard look.

If they can’t adjust in a close checking series, how do they expect to be successful if they can actually get by Boston and meet other close checking teams?

However, will they actually get by Boston?

Is their game only one-dimensional, a game that is free-wheeling and one which allows Kovalev, the Kostitsyns, Higgins etc. to play only pond hockey and nothing else?

Did they make the mistake of believing their own press clippings that said how great they are?

Will Tomas Plekanec, Chris Higgins, Michael Ryder, the Kostitsyns, Latendresse, and most of the team decide to actually play some playoff hockey before it’s too late? Especially Higgins. Hello 911. I’d like to report a missing person.

Although Carey Price has been so good in this series, it was his gift of dropping the puck in front of his goal, right on the stick of a Bruin, who then scored, which began, and probably caused, the complete collapse.

This team can seriously infuriate me.

I also see that Saku Koivu is the true leader of this team, and if he can skate, which he can, he needs to be in the lineup two days from now.

And now that the Bruins know they can win this series, what’s going to happen Saturday in Boston? Which Montreal team will show up, the great regular season one, or the lousy playoff one? 

Game note:

Montreal stunk 

 

Game Three: Boston 2, Montreal 1. Time To Regroup And Get The Power Play Back On Track. April 13, 2008

 GAME 3

During the regular season, Montreal’s power play looked like Sophia Loren – beautiful, lovely, graceful, nice to watch. But in this playoff round against the Bruins, Montreal’s power play resembles a drunken Britney Spears. Kovalev’s overtime goal in game two was a power play goal, but that’s it. The only one in three games.

And that’s the main reason why tonight, Boston skated away with a 2-1 overtime win in game three, and now it’s going to take five games instead of four for Montreal to win the series.

Another reason is the ineffective play in the series so far of Tomas Plekanec, Christopher Higgins, Michael Ryder (who can’t hit the net), and pretty well everyone except Carey Price, Alex Kovalev, and the Begin, Kostopoulos, Smolinski line, who have shown up every game. It’s not good when the grinder line is the best line. The Kostitsyn boys, huge in game one, are a non-entity right now. And it’s obvious now that Saku Koivu is greatly missed.

Montreal showed all year that they are a superior team to Boston. But they need to adjust to the adjustments the Bruins have made. There was no fire wagon hockey tonight, only chances that arose from hard work. They need to overcome the tight checking the Bruins have instilled.

Show us your Sophia Loren moves again, boys. Show that you can score often, just as Sophia probably could.

Fourteen wins to go, on hold for the moment. Enjoy the moment, Bruins fans. Soon enough, you’ll be hating the moment.

Game note:

Milan Lucic, Boston’s young power forward, looks a little like a young Phil Esposito. Except Lucic’s nose is quite a bit bigger.

Bonus game note:

Ron McLean called Brad Richards “his boyfriend.”

 

 

 

It’s Game One, And I’m Growing My Playoff Beard April 10, 2008

  Opening round GAME 1

The idea is to get rid of Boston as quickly as possible. Smash them, dazzle them, and confuse them. Overpower them, upset them, anger them, and frustrate them. Kick them, bite them, gouge them, and stick your fingers in their eyes. (just make sure the ref’s not watching.)

Take them out in four games. Stay healthy, and get Koivu back.  Mike Komisarek, an extremely important piece of the pie, is ready to go. Not sure about Ryder and Bouillin. But these are Montreal Canadiens players, not Buffalo Sabres or Pittsburgh Penguins or Toronto Maple Leafs players. These are Habs. They wear the CH. They’ll be back, stronger than ever.

It’s three hours until game time. I’ve been growing my playoff whiskers since last night, and I won’t be shaving until….sometime tomorrow!

LIKE SOME SORT OF TIME-TRAVEL MACHINE, IT’S NOW 3 HOURS LATER, AND THE GAME HAS BEGUN. Another in a long line of Boston-Montreal matchups. Boston has the freak of nature, the behemoth Zdeno Chara. I say grab a chain saw and cut him down to a more normal size.

The dramatic beginning of the telecast, when the teams were waiting in the corridor to go out on the ice, was spine-tingling.

You don’t need me to go over the game. You saw it, or watched Sportscentre or something. The Habs got it done. They dominated.

Montreal 4, Boston, 1. Only fifteen more wins to hoist the Cup.

 Game notes: 

Bob Cole needs to be placed in an old folks home.