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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Calling a Spade a Spade: Carey On!

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Stating that the Montreal Canadiens are up to a slow start of the 2017-2018 season would be like saying that Christmas will fall on December 25th this year… with the exception that everyone expected the winter holiday to fall on that date. While most hockey fans and media members will recognize that this team is better than what it has shown so far, a record of 3-7-1 after 11 games heading into tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators places them dead last in the Eastern Conference and this isn’t helping to keep the naysayers in the Habs’ fan base quiet.

There are several issues factoring into the Canadiens’ lack-lustered start to the season, none other more blatant than the team’s inability to put the puck in the opposing net. That is something that everyone around the NHL, fans included, expected team GM Marc Bergevin to address in the off-season. He did make a big move in hope to address that issue when he traded for Jonathan Drouin, but the loss of fellow Russian countrymen Alexander Radulov and Andrei Markov and their contribution has left it’s mark on the offensive side of the ice.

What is surprising however is seeing how many goals the Canadiens are allowing every game, considering that they count, in their line-up, on the best goaltender in the World in Carey Price. The Habs have already allowed 19 more goals to the opposition than they have scored, and they can thank the Arizona Coyotes for allowing them not to be the worst in the NHL in that department. In fact, the team is third worse in the league by allowing a whooping 3.82 goals per game while sitting dead last in the NHL, scoring only two goals per game. Do the math and you have the results we’re seeing right now.

Carey On

It would be very unfair to pin point the goals against solely on goaltending, although it would also be irresponsible to ignore that it has been a contributing factor. Every single team in the NHL pays their franchise players top dollars and they should be expecting them to perform as such and in Price’s case, he’s simply not so far this season. In his first ten games, heading into tonight, Price’s goals’ against average sits at an uncharacteristic 3.64 and his saves percentage (.883) is well below what would be considered NHL respectability level.

As the team’s back bone, Price must find a way to up his game, to find his “Mojo”, to borrow a term from the infamous Austin Powers. And with the help of Stephane Waite, there should be no doubt that he will. Let’s just hope that he does before it becomes impossible for the team to climb back to playoffs’ contention.

Calling out the idiots

Canadiens’ fans and some media personalities covering the team are experts at proclaiming themselves as the most knowledgeable in the NHL yet, some of them are also experts at proving otherwise with their words and actions. We are seeing plenty of examples of that by reading The Montreal Gazette and reading comments on Twitter, which we can always avoid reading. But it’s when that behaviour is displayed for the world to see, on national TV, that it becomes shameful. Encouraged by the so-called media personalities or showbiz sports writers wannabes, those idiot fans start booing the back bone of their so-called favourite team, making the majority of this loyal fan base want to crawl into a hole in shame.

So to those who were at that game, in the stands, acting like idiots… Shame on you! Go find another team to “cheer” for! You don’t deserve to be called Habs’ fans as you are a real shame to those who know and understand the game. You put a black mark on this glorious fan base by acting like 3 year-olds having a temper tantrum in a public place for not getting their toy! This is totally unacceptable and I wish that those who heard them do that, standing or sitting beside them, would speak up and ridicule them for what they are: plain idiots! Fans can be frustrated and if they want to boo the team, fine, it’s their right. But booing an individual player, whoever he is, particularly the best player on their supposedly favourite team… it’s idiotic! Period. To borrow a very classy man’s own quote, back when similar idiots were booing Patrice Brisebois every time he touched the puck:

“We don’t need those people, we don’t want those people, they’re jealous people, yellow people. I think they’re a bunch of gutless bastards, to be honest. … Our message to them is to stay away, we don’t need you.” ~ Bob Gainey

If you know anything about Gainey the player, the man, you will realize and understand the weight and importance of those words. But something tells me that those idiots can’t recognize their face from their backends, so expecting them to respect our franchise’s legends is way too much to ask.

Worse, it’s not the first time that Price has to go through such humiliation from those who are supposedly “supporting and cheering” for this team. In a Patrick Roy moment, we clearly remember Price raising his arms in the air in yet, another shameful time.

And we know what happened to St. Patrick, who asked for a trade and ended up giving the Colorado Avalanche their two Stanley Cups. Some self-proclaimed “most knowledgeable fans” seem to be suffering from severe memory loss… or lack of grey matter.

To those who follow this blog regularly, you will know that I call a spade a spade and that I’m not writing as a popularity contest, that I will call out those who I feel are out of line. I do recognize that I am out of line by the way I am calling out the boo birds and to you, readers, I apologize for this uncharacteristic outburst. But I am not willing to remove, edit or abstain myself from putting it down for all to read, at least not this one time. As Gainey has done in the media back then, it needs to be said, it needs to be heard, and it needs to be nipped in the bud not just by me, but by every other Habs’ fan feeling ashamed by the behaviour of a few rotten apples.

With all of that being said, most Montreal Canadiens’ fans are classy, knowledgeable individuals who can criticize what they don’t like and see the positive in things just as well. They understand that while they are passionate, they don’t get personal in their attacks towards the team, the administrators or the players. For that, I am grateful to be part of this fan base and all together we can chant our “GO HABS GO!“.