4 Hours after one of the greatest Hockey games the world has ever seen, I am still in awe of young Canadian who captivated the country. No it's not Montreal's own Nikki Yanofsky, although "I Believe" is catchy. Sidney Crosby is only 23 years old and he has conquered the Hockey World. A Memorial Cup appearance with the Rimouski Oceanic, World Junior Hockey Gold in 2005, a Hart and Art Ross Trophy in 2007, and Captaining his team to a Stanley Cup in 2009. His goal today, in Overtime, cemented his status as a Canadian legend. To all of his critics who call him "too soft" who doesn't have the "flair of Ovechkin" or the "power of Parise", he is a winner, a determined leader and proud Canadian. I'll take Sidney any day of the week. This has been one of the proudest day for our nation, and as the Cauldron extinguishes and these 17 remarkable days of athleticism come to a close I can only say, thank you Vancouver for an amazing experience, and Hab Fans, welcome back to the jungle that is the Montreal Hockey scene, where we have no superstars, are not playing for a Gold Medal game any time soon, and our GM is not a hall of famer, quite the contrary actually.
A quote from the great Woody Harrelson should set the scene today. All the planning, the evaluation camps, the selections, the round robins, all come down to a game against the United States of America, a team that upset Canada and set the country into a panic induced delirium. Although the last meeting of these teams did not bode well for the Great White North, I remain a cock eyed optimist. Canada crushed Germany and then demolished Russia, the early tournament favorite. The close 3-2 game against Slovakia should not be any room for concern as the Slovaks and Jaro Halak played a defensively responsible game that led them to a victory over the Swedes. So we get to the game plan. What does Canada do to beat the United States this afternoon.
To win, Canada must play Canada's game. They must combine creative passing, hard and accurate shots, and energy through blistering physical play, with an better than solid effort from Roberto Luongo. They must come in here and try to channel teams of the past, they must battle like Paul Henderson and Phil Esposito in '72, skillfully overpower their opponents like Mario and the Great One in '87, and have the desire and pride of Sakic and Kariya in '02. This has been a magical Olympics for Canada, and even with the many disappointments, came heroes, John Montgomery, Charles Hamelin and the courageous Joanie Rochette led to record totals for our country, and with a win today at Canada place, we would set a new International standard for Gold Excellence.
To Scott Niedermayer and Team Canada, we are all with you today, from Newfoundland to Nanaimo, let our cheers inspire you to end this incredible fortnight of Athleticism on the highest note possible.
Let's hope we get some Henderson-esque heroics tonight. It's not going to be easy, the Russians shoot often, skate fast, and have Ovechkin. Need I say more. It seems like a lot of people in this country are panicking, and turning on players who before this "apocalyptic" loss to the States, were considered national heroes. To the people of Canada: CHILL THE HELL OUT.
Maybe it was a little naive to believe that Canada would roll through the competition, and before people start writing Obituaries before we even take to the ice, let's consider this.
Russia lost to the Slovaks, who in turn, almost lost to the Norwegians yesterday.
Does this mean that Norway and Russia would tie?
No you ingrates, it just means we have no idea what will actually happens until the puck drop tonight.
We are going to need consistent goal tending from Roberto Luongo tonight, he needs to show that he can win the big game. We need to get a lot of shots early and get Evgeni Nabokov out of a groove, we need to convert on the Power Play, no more oh fors, and slow down their skill players with big hits.
Is it a lot to ask for?
I don't know, is it a lot to ask for the best players in our country to play well executed Hockey?
We have a shot tonight, go out and cheer for you country Canada.
I can not take the Norwegians seriously, I mean you are all nice people, but come one, anyone who wears those checkered pants, even if they are curling, should be laughed at a little bit.
Four years of brooding, sulking and muttering "wait till Vancouver" have come down to this. I don't think this will be a particularly close game, but I do feel that this will be a great chance for Canadians to work on their chemistry, the one thing that a lack of, could hurt Canada's medal chances. It will be interesting to see who wins the coveted 6th D spot, if Drew Doughty could impress and cement himself a line up spot. I personally am so impressed by Drew's amazing skill set, he has emerged as an elite Defenseman, in only his second year. The sky is the limit for this amazing youngster.
Watching last night's game almost completely cemented my view on how inconsistent the Canadiens are, but when they came back thanks to the heroics of Newest Hab Dominic Moore and the blazing end to end speed of call up PK Subban, who will only develop with age. Word is that PK will play again today as Jaro Spacek will sit game out after getting hit into the boards by Darroll Powe. I think today will be an emotional game as the match last night ended with some heated words. For anyone who watched the Opening Ceremonies, I gotta give kudos to Montreal Native Nikki Yanofsky, who killed it during the National Anthem, too bad Brian Williams fucked up that she was "from Vancouver". Also have to love the Slam Poet Shane Koyczan, whose poem "We Are More" was pretty patriotic. Canada plays it's first game on the 16th against Norway. And no one is not expecting a Gold Medal for our home squad. I think they can do it, if the Team comes together at the right time. Even though the line of Iginla-Crosby-Nash should be our #1 line, I do wish Eric Staal could take Iggy's spot, just so I could call it the "Crosby, Staal and Nash" line.
Gold - Canada: Can't bet against the host nation here.
Silver - Sweden: Will want to win gold with their nucleus one more time
Bronze - USA: Truculence pays off as the US shocks through youthful exuberance.
I know we won the game, I know it was an important two points that got us into sixth place, but I cannot believe how good Alexander Ovechkin is. Let's ignore that he ONLY had 2 assists, a light night for him, but he scored (ok, maybe it wasn't a goal) probably the coolest, most awesome, bad ass goal I have ever seen. Hitting a 6'7 pillar into his own net for a goal is crazy. More than crazy, it's a story that people will tell for years to come when talking about Great 8 "All out desire to win". It was a big win. Not going to take that away from the Canadiens, Scott Gomez and Tomas Plekanec have been coming up huge since the loss of our three big wingers. I am overjoyed that Josh Gorges is doing fine, after a shot to the head that looked all out horrific. Even though he has played every game for the Habs this year, and many people do not want him to break the streak, I just hope he is ready to go for one of the games against the Flyers, probably our biggest two games of the season. A concern we might need to adress is our absolute futility on the PP of late, maybe due to the long term injury to Queen MAB. Maybe it's due to the fact that our second unit is comprised of 4th liners and AHLers. There is really no way to address these issues other than waiting for wounds to heal. A problem we can address, is how this team seems to play to their opponents level. When we take on Washington, Pittsburgh and New Jersey, we seem to always skate with them, hit with them and compete with them. However, when we take on middle of the pack teams like Boston, Tampa and Atlanta we play a boring and impotent brand of hockey that results in 3-1, 4-2 and 2-0 losses most of the time. How do we remedy this? I don't have an answer, other than just saying, KEEP FRIGGIN SKATING.
Well I was thinking about just leaving that beautiful piece of literature I contributed this afternoon as my final thought on the Gainey resignation. But I realized I would be just like those fake fans that I despise the most if I did not leave a final tribute to one of the classiest guys this organization has ever seen. Bob Gainey was never the best guy on the ice, but he was the smartest. I think this was the case for his Managerial work as well. Even though flashy GM's like Brian Burke had more success with all out styles of negotiating and blockbuster trades, I respected Bob's tentative style. Many people hounded him for his reluctance to give up a lot for a trade, but I promise you, 95% of the deals he passed on would have hurt us in the long run. If it was up to the majority of idiot Hab-nots, we would have Vinny Lecavalier, 15 goals and all, without Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, maybe even PK Subban who has become one of the premier Defenseman in the AHL in his first year. Everything he did was thought out and thorough although the players he acquired almost never performed the way he expected they would. Lost opportunities in the names "Kovalev, Lang, Tanguay, Latendresse, Samsonov, Higgins, Ryder, McDonagh, David Fischer" might soon be joined by "Pacioretty, Lapierre, D'Agostini and Price", and ultimately this could be a core reason for our failures during the Bob era. Or maybe it's the guys who we let go, year after year, only to watch them have success elsewhere. "Well maybe we can let Souray go, at least we have Streit. Oh, you say they're both All Stars now? And they both do not play for the Canadiens?" Personally, I just never had that much of a problem with it. I felt each year Bob tried to put us in a position to compete, and in the early spring of 2008, it seemed everyone had forgotten why they hated Gainey so much. No one seemed to care about the "Niinimaa for Ribeiro" deal anymore, they all pretended to love Bob, only to turn their backs on him once again, after a team he did not play for, a team whose fortunes he could not change on the ice himself, started to slide. Maybe that's pro sports for you, a thankless and cruel world where the most repeated mantra is not "Play as a team!" or "For the love of the game!". It's more like "What have you done for me lately?". Maybe that's just Montreal, where the best/worst fans in the world scrutinize every deal, every signing every fart you let out, just because they happened to be privileged enough to grow up in an age of dynasties that no longer exists and need some happiness that they obviously cannot generate for themselves.
I guess what I'm trying to get at is, as happy as you morons are who parade Montreal today, finally "ridding our glorious team of that boring and passive shlub", I warn you. I'm watching you cowards. And when things get bad in the new and improved Pierre Gauthier era, and I promise you, it will sooner than later, I dare you to go on the Team 990 where Tony and friends pleasure themselves to the doom and gloom of our 8th place team, and say out loud "Gauthier is garbage, I wish Gainey was back".
You take this team as it is, or don't take it at all.
Don't be a fucking hypocrite.
Peace True Believers,
And thanks for everything Bob, hope you find some happiness.
If you told me that the top line in Montreal's WIN against the defending Cup Champions would be three Hamilton Bulldogs who were only called up yesterday, I would have assumed that you were starting to party for the Super Bowl a couple days early. Yes the trio of Ryan White, Brock Trotter and David Desharnais certainly stepped it up in the absence of Andrei Kostitsyn, Mike Cammalleri and Benoit Pouliot and will have to keep the energy going if we want to top the Bruins today at 3, who will be absolutely desperate for a win. Pleks, Gio and Scotty Gomez Adams all had huge games yesterday and will need to produce points consistently until the Olympic break There will be some sort of cruel sweetness if this win against the Bruins will push Pete Chiarelli to give Claude Julien the can, even though I do not think the B's struggles are his fault. I personally hope Claude can keep his job, as he is a very good coach and a good guy. I do hope that the Canadiens keep winning this key games while teams behind us like New York, Tampa and the Bruins continue to slide. There is an article out that theorizes that the Canadiens only need to go 12-10-1 in our remaining games to clinch a playoff spot. I think thats do-able. So enjoy the game, enjoy the football and enjoy those damn funny commericals. Let's hope we see some more Danica Patrick in compromising positions.
TSN has just broken a story that Brendan Burke,the youngest son of Leafs GM Brian Burke has died as a result of a car accident in Indiana. This news has hit me very hard. Brendan was only 21, and this November, he mustered up the immense courage to come out as a young gay man, saying that he quit hockey because of the difficulty of keeping his homosexuality a secret and that he had hoped to be the first openly gay NHL executive in history. I never really was fond of Brian Burke's brash style of business, even though I knew he got the job done better than almost any one else in the league. I truly believed that Brian would not speak publicly about his son's life and maybe fuel the fire that suggests his mantras of "toughness, tenacity and truculence" made him homophobic. When Brian came out and said that no matter who Brendan was, he would always love him and support him, he immediately jumped in my books from an annoying "act" of a manager to a truly genuine "class act" who tells it like it is. Brendan stood out as one of the bravest young people in this world today who through his dreams and ambitions not only changed life for the gay community in sports but possibly all minorities. I am not a hopeful Hockey player, nor am I a Homosexual and I am definitely not a Leafs fan, but I am a Jew, and there was something uplifting about a person belonging to a minority demographic standing up and saying "What I am is not important". "Who I am and what I am able to do is important". Brendan's loss is a tragic one for the Gay community, the hockey world and young people everywhere. My thoughts and prayers are with the Burke family, and let us try to open our minds for the future, so that Brendan Burke's story can live on as a testament to the human spirit and a rallying cry for us to treat ever single person on this earth equally.
Thank you to the Texas Titan for the title of today's blog.
Watching the game down 2-0, there was not much to be positive about. The team came out flat, we were not getting shots and it looked like all the momentum we got from our hard fought 3-2 Vancouver win was gone. Then came the two quick goals. I guess the one positive thing about our bevy of goals from bizarre sources is that it is scoring by committee, something we need in light of Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn's prolonged injuries. The one thing that has kept me optimistic of late is that Jaroslav Halak is putting in a MVP like performance each game we go into. I have been, and always will be a Carey Price fan, I think his potential could dwarf all of the criticism he has been thrown, but until he finds his center I will support Jaro Halak and his calmness and coolness throughout. To me, Jaro Halak is what every goalie should be, someone who comes to the NHL with th sole objective to play Hockey. No distractions, only Hockey. He did his time in the AHL, had to wait behind player after player, and has been winning big games for three years. If I had told you after Jaro went 4-0 for us in 2007 during the playoff push that he would not be our starter by now, you would think two thing. 1) You are freaking crazy. 2) Cristobal Huet must've won a couple Vezinas. Well you'd be very wrong on both counts. Even though I hope that Carey Price becomes the future #1 in Montreal, I am sure that Jaorslav Halak will be one the NHL's finest tenders, if not for the Habs then definitely somewhere else.
Watching the game last night, I should have been elated at the Habs big win that catapulted them to 7th in the East. I should have. There was something strangely unsettling about the Canadiens, minus our two top goal scorers, beating a team that we should not have beaten through an incredible effort by Jaroslav Halak. Why, you ask? Well for a couple reasons. BIG FRIGGIN REASON #1: If we can beat the Vancouver Canucks, one of the hottest teams in the league, why can we not get points out of easy games in Florida and Tampa after beating them the week before. Why can we not keep a level of consistency against these teams. If we were able to sneak out a win tonight, when our roster was depleted, why were we man handled the first time we met, when Andrei Markov was our lone casualty? Why did we collapse against the Rangers last month, only to beat them silly 6-0 a week later? BIG FRIGGIN REASON #2: After Toronna and Calgary pulled the trigger on HUGE deals that shipped off their underachieving "Players of the future" like Dion Phaneuf and Matt Stajan, at what point does the usually gun-shy Bob Gainey decide to do the same with Carey Price? I am the first one to say that we should keep our two #1 caliber guys, but after a win like last night, the so called "Hockey Intelligentsia" of Montreal won't be seeing it the same way I do. I know that every young goalie in this league struggled in his initial years, and that if teams like Pittsburgh were as impulsive as the "experts" in the Antichambre, they would be minus Marc-Andre Fleury, and minus a Stanley Cup banner.
We should be thrilled that we got two points, but maybe we should be disappointed that we missed so many great opportunities beforehand.
Let's not sugar coat it. The Canadiens aren't in the best situation right now. Mediocrity has set in, we are fighting for a playoff spot, we cannot score even strength goals, and the one guy who can is on the shelf for six to eight weeks. All you need now is a Tiger Woods like sex scandal and you've got the perfect storm. The Habs try to get some points as they take on the red hot Vancouver Canucks tonight at 7:30 at the Bell Centre, if the Canadiens want to not be sellers at the deadline in March, they will have to finish the Pre-Olympic stretch strong, starting tonight. Benoit "The Giant Chicken" Pouliot and Brian Gionta will move up to Tommy Plekanec's wing tonight and maybe this will work out in Cammy's absence. Plekanec has picked up his once torrid pace, with five points in his last four and Pouliot has been the Canadiens' most consistent scorer since his arrival. Matt D'Agostini has been called up, but he might not even play because of the flu. Jaro Spacek is also questionable because of the virus. So enjoy the game, and let's try to survive these six to eight weeks of hell.