Tag Archive | NHL

YOUNGSTERS IMPRESS IN #HABS PRE-SEASON OPENER


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Michael McCarron (pictured) and Michael Bournival picked up two points apiece and were among the youngsters to raise eyebrows as the Canadiens took to the ice at the Bell Centre in their pre-season opener.

Bournival had a pair of goals and McCarron picked up two assists as the Habs fell 5-4 to the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout.

Bournival showed lots of ofensive spark out there and McCarron displayed some soft hands in setting up both Bournival and Martin St-Pierre.  McCarron went hard along the boards to dish the puck out to Bournival for his first goal of the night.  The Canadiens’ top draft pick of this summer could also be found parked in the opposing crease; which is exactly where you want McCarron’s 6-5 frame to be.

Two other players of note who impressed me up front were Martin Reway and Erik Nystrom: both showed plenty of finesse as skill players with speed. Nystrom also showed he has a little show biz in him with his stick-twirling goal-scoring celebration.

On defence, Greg Pateryn and Jarred Tinordi, both with some NHL experience under their collective belts after last season, aquitted themselves well.  Peter Budaj and Zach Fucale split the goaltending duties: Budaj playing the first half of the game, Fucale — with his rather stark, generic, “no-frills” mask, finishing up and taking the team through the OT and shootout.

Brendan Gallagher, playing on a line with Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller, was in “mid-season form” (as we like to say) and took no prisoners, even though it was only a pre-season game. This kid simply doesn’t have an “off switch.”

This was a fairly entertaining, spirited hockey game: as pre-season games go, and as Habs-Sabres games go. Up next for the Canadiens: the Boston Bruins, who are in town Monday night.

DANNY BRIERE? THANKS, BUT NO THANKS #HABS


So, Danny Briere is now up for grabs, after being bought out this week by the Philadelphia Flyers. Would you like to see him in a Canadiens uniform?

Thanks…but no thanks.

It was six years ago, almost to the day, that Bob Gainey went hard after Danny Briere: the summer of 2007.  And I mean hard.
Briere was coming off a 95-point season with the Buffalo Sabres and was ready to write his own ticket. And he did.
A ticket that took him to Philadelphia after he rejected Gainey’s overtures.

I remember thinking at the time: Jeez. How much money are you supposed to throw at the guy before he said “Yes.”
Briere never said “yes”…not to the Montreal Canadiens, at least. And I thought to myself: see ya.

Gainey wasn’t shy when it came to going after big-name talent: either through free agency or the trade route. However,
like he always said: it takes two to tango: either way. Briere preferred to tango with the Flyers, where he put up some fairly prolific number before the injury bug got the better of him. However, with two years left in his contract, the Flyers elected to by out the 35-year old: a move that will shave $6.5 million off their salary cap.

Briere figures he still has a year or two left of hockey in him as he looks ahead to life as an unrestricted free agent.  Who am I to doubt the guy? I wish him nothing but the best.

He’d like to stay in the East for family reasons: and with two kids in school, who can blame him? But the Canadiens don’t need Danny Briere any more than they “needed” Jaromir Jagr. And please. Don’t tell me that even if Briere coasts through the regular season, you can count on him in the playoffs.

You think so?

I don’t.

See ya.

#HABS ‘BACK OF THE BUS’: BERGEVIN


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Montreal Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin says the Canadiens are at “the back of the bus” as a result of where they sit heading into the NHL Entry Draft June 30 in New Jersey.

At least where the first round is concerned.

Bergevin took time out of today’s news conference at the Bell Centre, held to announce Montreal’s role in the 2015 and 2017 World Junior Hockey Championships, to look ahead to the entry draft.

“We’re in a different position than we were in last year, when we had the third pick overall,” said Bergevin.

“When you’re at 25, you’re sitting in the back of the bus. Obviously, we had a good year, which is why we’re so far back. We’re happy being there, but that said, you don’t get the top players as when you have the third overall pick.”

Is there any chance Bergevin will try to get a seat at the “front of the bus?”

“We always try to see if there are seats available,” said the Habs’ GM with a grin.

Bergevin went on to say that defenceman Alexei Emelin is rehabbing in Montreal and is still on schedule for a return from knee surgery sometime in December.

Listen in as Bergevin fielded questions from reporters about the NHL Entry Draft, and today’s World Junior Hockey announcement, which will see Montreal and Toronto play joint hosts to the 2015 and 2017 championships, with the Bell Centre home to the medal round in 2017.

NORRIS TROPHY WILL COST #HABS $$$


Some 24 hours ago, PK Subban was named winner of the Norris Trophy as the top defenceman in the NHL.

That’s wonderful news for Subban — and his wallet.

Here’s my take on the situation the Canadiens now find themselves in, when it comes to keeping Subban in Montreal.

Listen to Abe Hefter in The Locker Room, weekends 6-7 p.m on CJAD 800 in Montreal and on WWW.CJAD.COM

#HABS DRAFT PROSPECT HAS BLEU-BLANC-ROUGE IN HIS GENES


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Anthony Mantha would love nothing more than to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. And the Longueuil native took what “could” be the first step today, when he joined 55 other draft prospects at the Canadiens’ combine at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.

Mantha’s grandfather is Andre Pronovost, who won four Stanley Cups as a member of the Habs from 1957-58 through 1960-61. That moment was not lost on Mantha, a 6-3, 200 pound winger who netted 50 goals and added 39 assists in 67 games with the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL this season.

“It’s my dream growing up,” said Mantha after today’s session at Brossard. “It’s one step away, maybe, right now. It’s a great feeling.”

Listen as Mantha tells me about the initial conversations he’s had with the Canadiens.

The latest rankings by International Scouting Services had Mantha ranked 24th among its top 30 ranked prospects for this month’s NHL Entry Draft. The Canadiens have one pick in the first round, at the number 25 spot. They have three in the second (Nos. 34, 36, 57) and two in the third (Nos. 71, 88).

Centre Bo Horvat, ranked number 10 by International Scouting Services, also took part in today’s combine. Horvat scored 33 goals and added 28 assists in 67 games with the London Knights, Jarred Tinordi’s junior hockey alma mater. Tinordi was the Knight’s captain the one year that he and Horvat played together in London — Horvat’s rookie season in the OHL.

“I learned a lot from him. He was a great captain, a great leader,” said Horvat. “He kind of showed me the ropes and was someone I kind of looked up to last year. I’m really happy for him. It would be something to play on the same team again, that’s for sure.”

Mantha, Horvat, and the rest of the draft prospects performed their on-ice and dry-land sessions today under the watchful eye of Shane Churla, who joined the Canadiens May 27 as their chief amateur scout.

Ryder to ride off into the #Habs sunset


Michael Ryder fans in this town won’t be happy with this latest bit of news.

Ryder’s agent has informed JF Chaumont of the Journal de Montreal that his client is not part of Marc Bergevin’s plans.

No surprise, if you ask me.

After shaking out the cob webs upon his arrival from Dallas, Ryder went on a tear with the Habs after Bergevin acquired him in late February in the deal that sent Erik Cole to the Stars.  However, the well ran dry for Ryder when the Canadiens needed him the most: down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Ryder, who is looking at unrestricted free agency this summer, came to town for his second stint as a Hab, as a rental player.  So there would be no long-term pain associated with the transaction that sent the underachieving Cole and his fat contract to Dallas.  Any way you slice it, Bergevin comes out a winner in this deal. He was able to shed Cole and his unwieldy contract for a player he wasn’t locked into, long-term, in Ryder.

At the same time, is anybody really surprised at Ryder’s performance as a Hab, this time ’round?  He’s a guy who can still get you 30 goals in a season. But he’s also a guy who has been streaky, with a capital “S”, throughout his career.  As a Hab this season, he had a hot streak, and a cold streak.

Same old, same old, for Michael Ryder.  You want to pull your hair out watching him play.  Just look at my hairline.  Still, Bergevin must now go out and find the potential for those 30 goals elsewhere.  The same way the Canadiens needed to replace Andrei Kostitsyn’s 30 goals.

I’m not saying I would have gone out and signed either player.  I’m just doing the goal-scoring math.

No surgery on Price’s knee; Eller symptom free


Lars Eller on "Garbage Bag Day"

Carey Price said he knew he was in trouble.

Price suffered a second-degree MCL sprain when he went down on Ottawa’s late game-tieing in game four against the Senators. He tried to skate it off and make the save at the end of regulation, but he knew he was in trouble.

I was just trying to get my butt on the ice and get my knees together, but your knees aren’t supposed to bend like that” said Price, as the Canadiens gathered at Brossard for exit medicals and individual chats with the coaching staff. “I felt a sharp pain, and the pop. It’s a tough way to go out.”

Meanwhile, Lars Eller, said he was close to making a comeback, after being on the receiving end of an illegal check dished out by Eric Gryba that knocked him out of the Ottawa series.

“I wouldn’t put a date on it.  I was getting close.”

Eller said although he has done some tests that point to the fact that he hasn’t fully recovered, he said he is currently symptom free.

“We’ll take it one day at a time and evaluate the situation going forward,” said Eller. “No reason to believe that I wouldn’t recover fully from this.”

Eller said Gryba did not reach out to him, following the incident.

“I have not heard from Gryba.  I don’t know the guy. I didn’t expect anything.  I haven’t really thought about it either.”

While players like Carey Price and Lars Eller look ahead to next season with anticipation, others like Jeff Haplern do so with uncertainty.

Halpern is among a handful of Habs, including Colby Armstrong, Michael Ryder,and Davis Drewiske, who are set to become unrestricted free agents

“I had a real good discussion with management,” said Halpern.  “They need their time.”

Although Halpern acknowledged he’d love to return to Montreal, he was somewhat philopshical about where he is at this stage of his career.

“I’m definitely on the back nine if not staring down that last fairway,” said Halpern. “Being a free agent used to be a good thing.  It’s kind of nice to have that contract as well.  I’ll see how the cards fall.

Three members of the Canadiens are on their way to the World Championsips: Tomas Plekanec for the Czech Republic, Alex Galchenyuk for Team USA, and Rafael Diaz, who will suit up for Switzerland.

HABS DOWN BUT NOT OUT


Peter Budaj

Peter Budaj

My good friend and CJAD colleague Rick Moffat appears ready to see the 2012-13 edition ride off into the sunset: a job well done, by virtue of the fact that they made the playoffs.

What a load of horse-poop.

First of all, last time I checked: a team needs to win four games to win a playoff series.  The Ottawa Senators have won three games. The Montreal Canadiens have won one. Yes, the gas tank is almost empty, but make no mistake about it: the needle on the guage hasn’t hit “E” yet.

Yes, tomorrow night the Canadiens will be missing Brian Gionta (out for the season with a torn bicep and scheduled to undergo surgery Friday), Brandon Prust (upper body), Ryan White (upper body) and Lars Eller (who skated on his own today at Brossard but remains out of action).  And Carey Price is officially listed as “day to day” after literally going down (perhaps for the count) with a lower body injury in the final seconds of last night’s heartbreaking loss loss in overtime.

But this series is not over. And if there ever was a time for Peter Budaj to earn his keep, and that brand-new, mid-season contract extension, it’ll be tomorrow night, if Price can’t go.

The Canadiens are not in “bonus time” as Rick would suggest. They are in playoff time.  They advanced to the post-season as a result of a terrific regular season (save for a stumble at the end). The bar has been set, high, by this team.  And I don’t believe for a moment that Habs’ fans will be giving each other “high five’s” and engaging in a whole bunch of back-slapping, because of an “enjoyable” season, if these playoffs DO come to an end for the Canadiens tomorrow night.

Yes, the future is bright for several reasons: two of them being Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. But I’m not about to look toward the future, until the present is the past. And I don’t believe for a moment the Montreal Canadiens are, either.

Head coach Michel Therrien used the word “courage” a number of times today in speaking to reporters, and for good reason.

“These are a bunch of guys who have alot of courage; a lot more courage than people think,” said Therrien. “And I know because I live with those guys every single day.”

Therrien singled out the courage Brian Gionta showed by trying to play through a torn bicep; an injury that he suffered in the first game of this series.

“When we heard the news that he was not capable of playing, the Captain was crying in my arms,” said Therrien.

“Tomorrow night I know we’re going to give a great effort; we’re going to be tough to play against.  We’re going to give everything that we’ve got. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

There’s no doubt in my mind either, coach.

See you back in Ottawa.

HABS GOALTENDING NO LAUGHING MATTER


Full disclosure.

I was not in Ottawa for today’s media scrum involving Canadiens’ head coach Michel Therrien.  However, Richard Labbe of La Presse tweeted the following:

@Richardlabbe: M.Therrien, on whether P.Budaj should start tomorrow night instead of Price: “Are you serious?”

TSN’s John Lu added: @JohnLuTSNMtl#Habs Therrien laughs at the notion of changing starting goalies for Game 4. “Carey Price will start tomorrow night.”

Let me ask you this: what was so funny about the notion of changing starting goalies for game four tomorrow night?  Granted, Carey Price can not be held solely responsible for the two games the Canadiens have dropped in this series against the Sens.  Win as a team. Lose as a team.  And that was one ugly-looking Habs’ team in last night’s 6-1 loss; which gave Ottawa a 2-1 series lead.

If you look up frustration in the dictionary, there’s a picture of your Montreal Canadiens beside it.

The question would certainly have to be considered a serious one.  Peter Budaj has performed well in a backup role this season; to the point that he received a mid-season contract extension as an early “job well done.”  The Canadiens owe Carey Price absolutely nothing. Their goal is to win hockey games: starting tomorrow night in Ottawa.  If Peter Budaj offers up a better chance at reaching that goal (and that’s a big hypothetical IF) why WOULDN’T you consider starting him?

Seriously.

Having said that, I am not surprised in the least that Therrien will go back to Price tomorrow night. I think it’s also a given that the coach will go back to Price Thursday night when the series returns to Montreal. After that: who knows? This series could be over by then.

In theory.

Heading into this series, Therrien said he had all the confidence in the world in Price.  I, too, expected Price to deliver the mail in this series.

It hasn’t happened. Yet.

In the meantime, the Canadiens will have to put last night’s embarassing performance behind them. PK Subban will have to lay off the theatrics and get back to playing Norris-trophy style hockey.  Josh Gorges has to shake off last night’s performance which saw him try to blast a shot at Kyle Turris in the final seconds (it certainly looked like that was his intention. Very un-Josh Gorges like.) Rene Bourque has to get back to playing the impressive hockey he’s been playing and lay off the cheap shots.

The list goes on and on.

Most of all, the Canadiens desperately need to win a hockey game.

Fatherly advice for Tinordi


Mark Tinordi was a “tough, big, mean defenceman.”  Son, Jarred just wishes he had more of an opportunity to see him play, when he was younger.

“I try to take some aspects of his game,” said Tinordi after the so-called “black aces” took to the ice at Brossard this afternoon as the Canadiens look ahead to tomorrow’s game three against the Senators in Ottawa, with this first-round playoff series tied at one win apiece.

Mark Tinordi spent 12 seasons in the NHL through the 1998-99 campaign, most of them with the Minnesota North Stars and the Washington Capitals.  Jarred says his dad has been able to watch the first two games of this series and has helped him out with what to expect.

“He’s having a lot of fun, too,” said the younger Tinordi.  “Maybe more fun than I am!”

Tinordi said his dad hasn’t overloaded him with words of wisdom.  “He doesn’t want to cloud my head too much,” he added. “He’s really only given me two pieces of advice: just have fun, and play hard.”

Tinordi, who had a cup of coffee with the Habs late during the regular season, was one of the recent call-ups from the Hamilton Bulldogs — the so-called “black aces.” He didn’t know what to expect when the latest call came.

“I was skating with the guys down in Hamilton when I got the call. I didn’t know if I was going to play. I knew that it was a great opportunity for me.”

It may sound like a rather precarious position to be in, but it’s clear that head coach Michel Therrien is counting on Jarred Tinordi to help solidfy a blueline that has struggled at times, particularly since the season-ending injury to Alexi Emelin.

“I knew if I got in, I was going to play my game, play hard, and take it one game at a time.”

Or, in the words of dad, Mark: “Have fun and play hard.”

Jarred Tinordi

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