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Julia Borgini
Julia Borgini
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Char B
Char B
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Canadiens Fan
Canadiens Fan
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Red Wings Fan

Red Wings have exceeded expectations at the break, challenging for top spot in Eastern Conference posted by Red Wings Fan

Many expected the Detroit Red Wings to be battling just to extend their playoff streak this season.

It turns out they have loftier goals. At the All-Star break, they're competing for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Who could have seen that coming after an off-season with no free-agent or trade acquisitions?

"When I thought about around July 5 when not much happened this summer, I was disappointed, like a few of my veteran players who called me were disappointed, too," coach Mike Babcock said. "I don't think any of us would have believed we'd be at this spot, the general manager and myself included."

The Red Wings (27-11-9) have won five in a row and are tied with the New York Islanders for second in the conference, one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Red Wings have accumulated 13 more points than they had after 47 games in 2013-14 (20-17-10). Credit this to better health, continued growth of younger players and more consistent goaltending. This is a faster-skating team than it was a year ago.

"The contributions of players that were out a lot last year due to injuries has been a real positive, and then the continued development of younger players," general manager Ken Holland said. "When you're in the playoffs 23 straight years it means a lot of picking late, and we're trying to accomplish two goals at the same time -- make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup. And we're also trying to rebuild the team on the fly."

Jimmy Howard regained his All-Star from following an inconsistent season and, after he suffered a groin injury on Jan. 10, Petr Mrazek has stepped in without much drop-off.Injuries enabled young players to step into key roles and most are playing just as well or better. Tomas Tatar (21) Gustav Nyquist (19) lead the way in goals, Riley Sheahan has developed into a dependable two-way second-line center and Danny DeKeyser has been one of their steadiest defensemen.

Continue reading "Red Wings have exceeded expectations ..."

Canadiens Fan

Canadiens storm Halak, New York Islanders posted by Canadiens Fan

The Montreal Canadiens, not necessarily known for their quick starts, scored early goals in all three periods of a 6-4 victory over the visiting New York Islanders on Saturday night.

“It’s no surprise that we’re not a good starting team,” said Canadiens Dale Weise, whose tap-in goal in the second period equaled his career high in points scored (16), set last season. “For whatever reason that is, we wanted to focus on that tonight.”

Montreal is just (28-13-3) and ranks a meager 29th in the NHL in first-period productivity, ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres, with just 18 goals in 44 games, a slow start indeed.

Dustin Tokarski started in net for the Habs in place of Carey Price, who suffered an upper-body injury against the Colombus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night. Head coach Michel Therrien said there was no immediate timetable for his return. As a response, Joey MacDonald was recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs to fill for Therrien’s absence.

Former Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak started for the New York Islanders for the second straight night and had been 4-0 with just four goals against when facing his old team. On this night, he allowed all six Montreal goals before getting the hook.

“I’m sure he’s frustrated . . . but we didn’t play very well in front of him,” coach Jack Capuano said of his goaltender, recently named to the NHL all-star team as an injury replacement.

While the win is sure to boost the morale of the Canadiens, they are not out of the water yet. Being such a slow starting team isn’t enough to win a Stanley Cup let alone make a significant play off run, where the name of the game is fast starts and holding dominating leads.

Continue reading "Canadiens storm Halak, New York Islanders"

Canadiens Fan

Montreal Canadiens Next Generation of Players Hope to Carry the Team Through the Season posted by Canadiens Fan

The Montreal Canadiens won two playoff rounds last season and seem to have a few things going on for them. Marc Bergevin got P.K. Subban to sign an eight year contract. The decision to sign in Subban bore fruit seeing that he has been a great defenceman.  Tom Gilbert compliments Subban talent and his addition last season helped to improve their Defence. The power play has also been poor for this team and hopefully Subban and Markov can get it back to the top.

The team strength is in its structure that works outward from the net. Away from Subban, the team has a strong fourth line center Manny Malhotra. 6-foot-2 Jiri Sekac is a free agent who was signed into the team and had 11 goals and 17 assists in the last season.

Montreal made it to the playoffs without Carey Price. The goal tender was out due to his knee injury and is now back on the team. His good reflexes and overall goaltending talent, will be a boost for the team after spending a good part of the last season without him.

The team’s offence could be its biggest weakness in the coming season. Max Pacioretty is a great forward who managed 73 points and 39 goals in the 2013-2014 season. However, he is the only elite forward in the team. The only other player to come close to him, is David Desharnais with 50 points.

The team let Captain Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges leave the team. The team will now have to adjust as the new generation of players takes over. We are yet to see how Subban and Pacioretty will take over. The team still has a good chance of making it to the playoffs. However, chances of getting to the second round or even winning the Stanley Cup are not so good.

Continue reading "Montreal Canadiens Next Generation ..."

Jeff Ponder

Who Are These Guys? posted by Jeff Ponder

The Eastern Conference Finals could have been predicted at the start of the 2009-10 season.  Sidney Crosby will lead his Pittsburgh Penguins to face Alexander Ovechkin and the high-powered Washington Capitals.  Crosby, along with his star support like goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Sergei Gonchar, can only be beaten at their own game; scoring more goals than the other team and flexing their offensive muscles at every turn.  The same can be said for Ovechkin and his teammates like defenseman Mike Green and forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin.  No one can stop these guys; or so we thought.  Who do these Canadien guys think they are?

Ovechkin and Crosby were at almost a loss for words after being taken out by the number eight seed in two straight playoff series.

Despite scoring five goals and ten points in the disappointing seven game series with Montreal, Ovechkin took complete blame for losing in seven games.  “It was my fault," he said shortly after the loss. "We need to score goals. I have a chance to score goals, I didn't score goals."

“They did a lot of good things that good teams need to do to win. Unfortunately for us, we didn't do that,” Crosby said after his game seven upset by the Canadiens.  “We all want that perfect ending. I don't think we have thought about [the loss], but it is disappointing.”

So how exactly has this Cinderella team beaten the two powerhouses in the East? 

"Obviously, you have to give Montreal a lot of credit,” stated veteran Penguins winger Bill Guerin.  “They played some amazing hockey this series. Their defensive play was incredible. Their team play was as good as I've seen. They deserve a lot of the credit."
Continue reading "Who Are These Guys?"

Jeff Ponder

Checking from Behind Must be Stopped posted by Jeff Ponder

I know what you're thinking:  Kind of cliché to say that checking from behind has to be stopped.  I agree.  But part of me feels that the NHL does not do enough to cast aside this dangerous act.

According to Rule 44.1 of the Official NHL Rulebook, “A check from behind is a check delivered on a player who is not aware of the impending hit, therefore unable to protect or defend himself, and contact is made on the back part of the body. When a player intentionally turns his body to create contact with his back, no penalty shall be assessed.”  Pretty cut and dry.  So why is there still such a problem in today's NHL?

The easy answer is that players get too involved in the game and that they get carried away, forgetting the consequences of their actions.  But I feel it goes deeper than that.  The fines and suspensions are just not harsh enough.  Some players have seen three or four games and a fine, but these reactions by the NHL just may not be what it's going to take to thwart this problem.

Don't get me wrong; I am one of those guys that jumps out of his seat when he sees a monster hit or a big fight.  Hitting is a part of the game that needs to stay in order to stay interesting and entertaining.  But hitting someone from behind is cheap and unneeded in today's game.  If you want to deliver a big hit or crunch someone into the boards, do it clean.  Dion Phaneuf is a great guy to model after.  His hits are bone-crushing, yet shoulder to face or hip-to-hip.  Very rarely will you see Phaneuf hit someone's front side into the boards.
Continue reading "Checking from Behind Must be Stopped"

Jeff Ponder

Inter-League Game Could Spell Bad News for NHL posted by Jeff Ponder

Could an exhibition game really give bad publicity to a major North-American sports league?

The NHL has constantly been trying to show that their league is the best to the public all over the world.  For the past few seasons, the league has sent four of their teams overseas to play in places such as Germany, Sweden and England.  The teams usually open the NHL regular season a week early, playing two games in the country that they were designated.  This season the league has decided to send the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings to Sweden, and the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers to Finland.  Not only are these teams playing each other, but they will see time against some of the best teams of the chosen nation in pre-season play.

Why is this a possible threat to the league?  The NHL holds themselves as the greatest hockey league in the world with the most powerful teams and the best players.  There is almost no way of disputing that prestigious honor as long as the teams are playing against each other all the time and do not allow any outside teams to jeopardize that point.  Allowing other teams from other leagues could harm the reputation of the NHL. 

Here is the schedule for the games that will be played against other league teams:

Tuesday, September 29:  St. Louis Blues vs. Linkoping HC at Cloetta Center

Tuesday, September 29:  Chicago Blackhawks vs. ZSC Lions Zurich at Hallenstadion

Wednesday, September 30:  Florida Panthers vs. Jokerit Helsinki at Hartwall Arena
Continue reading "Inter-League Game Could Spell Bad News for NHL"

Julia Borgini

The Absent Blogger Returns posted by Julia Borgini

Hello Readers, I'm back! Yes, after a bit of a summer hiatus where I recovered from Montreal's exit from the playoffs, their decision to not sign Saku Koivu, and then give Scott Gomez a huge contract, I'm back. I've ordered up RDS from my local cable provider so I can start getting the news directly from the sources in Montreal, and I'm ready to get back into the swing of things.

Continue reading "The Absent Blogger Returns"

Jeff Ponder

Canadiens Sign Brian Gionta to 5-Year, $25 Million Contract posted by Jeff Ponder

The Canadiens keep making the headlines.  They have brought in yet another key forward.

Brian Gionta, one of the most valued New Jersey Devils in recent time, has decided to sign with the revamped Montreal Canadiens.  Gionta has spent all of his 7 NHL seasons with the Devils, playing right-wing on the top line for most of that time.  Gionta is coming off of a 60-point season with the Devils, which ranked him tied for third on the team.  Scoring is not his only strength though.  The 5'7” 175 lb. Rochester native has also been known to kill penalties and play in any defensive situation. 

While Gionta is not quite the gifted scorer that Jarome Iginla of Calgary is, he is a threat to score.  Mike Cammalleri was signed earlier in the day, and these two may find chemistry together.  Cammalleri just had a 39-goal season with the Flames playing on the top line with Iginla.  He operates best with a fellow goal scorer.  Gionta may be the answer in Montreal.

Montreal seems to be heading in the right direction, almost remodeling their entire offense in the off-season.  With the signing of Jaroslav Spacek today and returning defensemen Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik, the Montreal Canadiens are looking like they could be a top competitor in the Eastern Conference in this coming season.Continue reading "Canadiens Sign Brian Gionta to 5-Year, ..."

Jeff Ponder

Canadiens Sign Mike Cammalleri to 5-Year $30 Million Contract posted by Jeff Ponder

Bob Gainey jumped right back into making big deals for his squad on Wednesday.  Gainey acquired Scott Gomez yesterday from the New York Rangers and now has added star Mike Cammalleri to his Canadiens lineup.

This 5'9” 185 lb. center had a breakout year in 2008-09, when he tallied 82 points in 81 games for the Calgary Flames.  He found himself atop the lineup, playing center with superstar Jarome Iginla on his wing.  In a three-team deal with the Canadiens and Kings, the Flames acquired Cammalleri from the Kings in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.  Before that deal, Cammalleri was known as a sneaky second line center, ensuring about 50 points every season.  But the now-27 year old exploded in Calgary, making the trade a win-win for Flames GM Darryl Sutter.

But with the Flames investing a good amount of money in recently-acquired center Oli Jokinen and newly-signed star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, the Flames made it clear that they no longer had room for Cammalleri. 

Gainey's addition of Gomez and Cammalleri allows for both of the top lines to have great playmaking and shooting centers.  The only problem with this signing might be that Cammalleri did his best work with a sniper by his side.  With Alexei Kovalev still unsigned and free-agent Marian Hossa being snatched up by Chicago, there is not a lot of options left for Gainey.  He will have to bring back Kovalev or get involved in the Martin Havlat bidding war. Continue reading "Canadiens Sign Mike Cammalleri to ..."

Julia Borgini

The NHL Playoffs Are Finally Here posted by Julia Borgini

Playoffs start on Wednesday, April 15th, with the Montreal Canadiens playing their first game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, April 16th in Boston. If that last game against the Bruins was any indication, it's going to be a spirited series, with lots of penalties and power plays. Let's see if the Habs can keep up their good power play of late and keep the goals coming.

Montreal's schedule for Round 1 is:

  • Thursday, April 16, at Boston, 7pm
  • Saturday, April 18, at Boston, 8pm
  • Monday, April 20, in Montreal, 7pm
  • Wednesday, April 22, in Montreal, 7pm
  • * Saturday, April 25, at Boston, 7pm
  • * Monday, April 27, in Montreal,TBD
  • * Wednesday, April 29, at Boston, TBD

 Check your local tv listings for more details.

Continue reading "The NHL Playoffs Are Finally Here"

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