New Show in Town: Charlie’s Angels

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The Montreal Canadiens were going nowhere fast. They couldn’t score goals and mostly, they couldn’t keep the puck out of their own net. Carey Price was not himself and WAS eventually placed on the injured reserve, and the Habs were forced to call up undrafted rookie Charlie Lindgren… but that’s when things got interesting.

Lindgren was not having a great season so far with the Laval Rockets, the Canadiens’ farm team. In nine games this season, his goals against average was 3.53 and he had a rather mediocre .885 saves percentage. Yet, he had a great training camp with the Habs and showed some great things last season, his first pro season. Really, was the 23 year-old the solution to straighten the ship in Montreal, something not even the great Price couldn’t do?

On the second day of a back-to-back, coach Claude Julien sent the young man to the wolves, giving him the net in Chicago against the powerful Blackhawks and Lindgren took full advantage of his opportunity. He was perfect in stopping all 38 shots directed at him, including several spectacular saves, to allow the Canadiens to shutout GM Marc Bergevin‘s old team by a 2-0 score.

With that performance and with Price still on the IR,  Lindgren earned himself another start, in which he once again played extremely well, earning a 3-2 win against the surprising Las Vegas Golden Knights in a 29 saves effort, including a strong push at the end when Vegas pulled their goaltender in an attempt to tie the game.

Defense on the mend?

When Julien was hired by Bergevin after the firing of Michel Therrien, he spoke to not wanting to change too much in the system in place, at least to end last season. This year, he had all training camp to implement his own style and system to the team and to anyone who is familiar to competitive hockey, it takes time. Pre-season is mostly to play young guys, to evaluate them and their development, and for veterans to get their legs under them. This season, they also had to learn Julien’s ways in limited ice time… and it showed at the start.

Jordie Benn, Karl Alzner and Jeff Petry are playing some better hockey and are coming into their own, Joe Morrow scored his first goal and we have yet to see David Schemko in a Habs’ uniform. Things are looking up folks, and remember that Bergevin has something few GMs have: cap space.

Winners of three in a row, it’s far from perfect for the Canadiens but having won six of their last eight games at the time of writing this, they find themselves only two points from a Wild Card playoffs’ spot and also two points from the Ottawa Senators in third place in their division.

Those on a witch hunt calling for Bergevin’s head are now slowly crawling back into their hole of misery, once again in wait for the next rough stretch to pounce back, as there will be more, every team going through them. In the meantime, it buys us, Habs’ fans, some reprieve of having to read and listen to them…

Carey Price

I do have a bit of an issue with the Montreal media and some fans (surprise, surprise, I know), and it has to do with the way they are treating Carey Price. Yes, I have been critical of Price in a previous article but it wasn’t personal, just about his on-ice play… and that’s where the line must be drawn!

I truly wish people would recognize that this guy is just going through a rough time, and that there has to be something we don’t know to explain his “unlike-Price” performances, and that he hasn’t forgotten how to play goal. He will be back as strong as he was and when he does, the Canadiens will be that much stronger! Take it easy folks, take a deep breath and stop listening to the media personalities searching for sensation, hits on websites, readership and listenership, and understand that by feeding you crap, they are filling their pockets when you buy into it.

Just like the Canadiens weren’t as bad as their record showed to start the season, Price isn’t as bad as his stats are showing so far, and we all know it. No, Lindgren cannot take over at this point and no, Price will not be traded. To borrow Carey’s own quote: “Chill out“. Go Habs Go!

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Patrick Roy as Habs GM? Say It Ain’t So!

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The setting is 1985. The Montreal Canadiens have their farm team in my hometown, Sherbrooke, Quebec. They have a line-up of good young players, a blend of speed, skills and character. Coached by Pierre Creamer, the baby Canadiens sneaked into the playoffs through the back door with a 37-38-5 record… until the team called up a couple of junior aged players once their team was eliminated, to join for a Calder Cup run. In those ranks, there was a young prospect goaltender who had just finished his junior career with a 5.55 goals against average for the Granby Bisons of the QMJHL. 

That young goaltender was Patrick Roy, in case such details slipped your mind. With the help of other junior aged player Stephane Richer, Roy was instrumental in the playoffs, stealing the job from young veteran Greg Moffett (who?) in leading the team to the AHL supremacy, bringing the Calder Cup to Sherbrooke. I know, I was a young man in the stands, cheering him on.

The following season, Roy defeated all odds and made the Canadiens’ team, along with other former Sherbrooke Calder Cup winners like Brian Skrudland, Mike Lalor and yes, Richer as well. We know the rest of the fairy tale story, as the Canadiens surprised the hockey world, led by none other than a young Saint-Patrick, to win four in a row after loosing the first game of the finals, against the Calgary Flames. My admiration for Roy was only starting…

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Michel Therrien was a member of the 1985 Calder Cup champions Sherbrooke Canadiens.

Then on December 2nd, 1995, my world came to a halt after seeing my idol walk behind the Canadiens’ bench after being pulled, only to walk back and tell team President Ronald Corey that he had played his last game in my favourite team’s uniform. My heart was crushed. How can the great Roy, the face of this era’s franchise, my successor to the great Ken Dryden, let the heat of the moment take over and make him take the decision to abandon his teammates, his team, his fans and by the same token, myself… because of a rooster fight between him and his head coach? How has that become MY fault, as I ultimately was the one paying the price?

Some claim that Roy went back to talk to Corey the next day to say that he regretted having done what he did, having said what he said. But for the Canadiens’ organization, the damage was done and they couldn’t go back. Roy had his temper tantrum on national television, in front of millions of viewers, and there was no going back on that. He was the team’s best player, but he was NOT bigger than the Montreal Canadiens.

Avalanche too

Hired as the team’s head coach and consultant to GM Joe Sakic, Roy had found another career in hockey, in the NHL, with the second team he’s only known. Avalanche fans loved him as much as I did way back when he was in Montreal. Then, when he found himself in a disagreement with his former teammate and boss, he waited until August, less than a month before training camp, to inform Sakic and the Avalanche that he was quitting his job with the team.

This left Sakic and the Avalanche in a huge bind, and rest assured that Roy knew it. Yet, the disagreement occurred well before then, during that summer’s NHL Draft. So why wait so long? Because Patrick does what Patrick wants and when things don’t go his way, Patrick pouts and seeks revenge. And I’m not going to go into his well documented domestic violence issues either, or his assault on Chicoutimi Sagueneens’ owner Pierre Cardinal

Roy is a hot head. I’m done with him, and I have been for a long time. If you think for a second that he’s the man to take over from Marc Bergevin one day, you are definitely not thinking straight. The guy is a nut case and when things don’t go his way, he picks up his toys and leaves, not giving a crap about you and what you think. He has displayed over and over again that he has a “Me, Myself and I” attitude and there is a reason why he hasn’t found work in the NHL’s tight circle. To me, the guy who once was my idol is dead. He was replaced by this horrifying individual whom I wouldn’t want my kids to look up to… as he’s as far a good role model as it gets.

So long Patrick, the Saint has been removed from your name a long time ago. Go Habs Go!