Christmas (sucker) punch….

The Bruins’ Milan Lucic, after earning a match penalty late in the third period of Thursday’s game against the Thrashers, now has to face a disciplinary hearing, fittingly, on Boxing Day.  He was involved in an altercation following a hit by Thrashers’ defenceman Freddy Meyer with 4:06 left in the game.  Lucic seemed to feel the hit was dangerously high and targeting his noggin, as did Andrew Ference, and various Thrashers and Bruins scrapped as a result.  However, once the fight was over and officials were restraining these loving sportsmen, Lucic let fly an unexpected punch to Meyer’s head, and Meyer fell to the ice.  It truly qualifies as a sucker punch, though Meyer might have sold it a bit…still, not a classy move and definitely not an illustration of the tough-guy code.

Here is a ridiculously biased description of the scrap by Bruins announcers:

And a closer look at the actual sucker punch:

TSN reports on the Lucic punch

Lucic can be a firecracker and has no qualms about meting out his own brand of entertaining justice on the ice, which promps me to wonder why Andre Ference jumped into this situation.  Also, no matter how incensed Lucic may have been, how can he justify flipping his wig once every player and official had his guard down?  Saying that it’s no Sean Avery sucker punch is just not saying much.

Will the league punish this, if only to confirm that once officials step into a situation, all violent flailings, gestures and risky applications of force must cease?

*Notorious Savard-hater and drama-queen critic Colin Campbell will not be a party to this hearing, as his son Gregory is a member of the Bruins.

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Pierre Turgeon’s daughter killed in a car accident

Ex-Habs captain Pierre Turgeon lost his daughter to a car accident in New Mexico, early this morning.

Sad, sad news.

Daughter of Turgeon killed in car crash

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A child’s x-mas: our Habs as kids

I couldn’t resist posting a few pics I found of our favourite Habs players back when they were wee youngsters with stars in their eyes.  Enjoy!

Tomas Plekanec (check out all that hair!):

Mike Cammalleri:

Josh Gorges (intense as ever, and hmmmm captain!):

Tom Pyatt:

Max Lapierre:

Brian Gionta:

Mathieu Darche:

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Joy to my world

Several good things happened last night, not the least of which was a clearly broadcast glimpse of Jacques Martin spontaneously *laughing* mid-game, as he appeared to be joking with our re-energized Plekanec at the bench.  Yes, I saw teeth, I saw jollity, and I had no choice but to believe in the reason for the season: the Habs were going to win this one.

On the ice, more good things: power play goals, Carey Price looking solid and calm and making key saves in the third, the Habs twice erasing a one-goal deficit, Andre imposing himself around the net, and Plekky being the best player of the night.  The PK was efficient, and the team was able to recover from serious defensive nonchalance (Hamrlik casually one-handing his stick in the crease) with a  five-minute PP that yielded two goals.  Nice resilience, boys!

In passing, can I just mention what a nasty bunch these Canes are, even now that the League’s ugliest man (Rod BrindAmour) has graciously retired .  Paul Maurice, once boyish and somewhat charming (in his Leafs days) has become a scowling, potty-mouthed malcontent.  As for the players, they showed a general lack of class and sportsmanship, from Eric Cole, who once upon a time had his neck broken in a nasty hit, and yet opted to slam Spacek head first into the boards, to Staal, who was yelling at Gionta to get up after our captain had gotten tripped in the final minutes of the game.  Not impressive.

Habs’ road trip resumes on Boxing Day, and until then all are enjoined to celebrate safely, revel, rest and feast, and of course take a minute to put on your skates and hit the ice!  Happy Holidays!

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Hurricane preparedness plan: Habs vs Carolina 12/23/2010

Must!

Win!

Jacques Martin did not go ape-feces after the Habs’ loss in Dallas.  In fact, he let the guys go out for dinner and a few beers,  and cancelled a practise in Dallas the morning after this disheartening stinky face-wash by the Stars.

Ok, perhaps the acerbic big-eared coach has been delving into his (very brief) psychology manual in order to let all of this sink in and reinforce team spirit in a mellower setting than the hostile rinks of American teams.  It’s x-mas time: anything is possible, festivus miracles and all that.

Be that as it may, tonight’s game is eminently winnable, and I for one am looking forward to some of the veterans getting onto our coach’s radar.  It seems that the young’uns get the brunt of his telegraphic displeasure, while our veteran friends Spacek, Halpern and Hamrlik blunder away with no call-outs. Let us not forget that we have two young, developing players (PK and Carey) trying to fill the immense void left by Markov’s absence.  They cannot succeed without better support from the more experienced players.

A great article about PK Subban and the many perceptions of his talents and responsibilities:

 Donnons (encore) du temps à Subban

More later…..

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The slump is upon us

Five losses in the last 6 games.

If it weren’t for the fact that our Habs are in a division that is woefully underperforming so far, they would risk falling out of a playoff spot within the next couple of games.

While recent losses must be attributed in part to a schedule that has included some strong teams, it is clear that some problems are cropping up with our boys.  We can perhaps blame some of their lethargy on the long-term absence of Markov finally being felt (notably on the PP).  Yet there is more.

Scoring chances are few.  Goaltending is spotty and Carey seems distracted, unable to make the spectacular lateral movements that were keeping his team in the mix earlier this season.  His positioning and anticipation have suffered, and his defencemen are playing nervously.

Most telling perhaps, is the fact that the Habs seem unable to come back from even a one-goal deficit.  Habs are 17-3-2 when they score the first goal.  But when they have allowed that first goal, they’ve only won twice in the last 11 games.  They have yet to win a game after trailing in the first.  Such stats tell us that the first goal looms way too large both on the attackers’ minds, and on Carey Price’s psyche.  The will to stage a comeback is a mindset that must be cultivated with this squad.  Call it character, call it perseverance….

It seems so long ago that our Habs accomplished an exploit for the ages:

My advice to PK Subban is that instead of flying into a crazed, disconnected fight to vent frustration, a timely shot from the point would do the trick.

Habs are now headed to Raleigh, and this one against the Hurricanes is in the proverbial “must-win” category.

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For Leafs Nation this x-mas….

The waffle T-shirt….

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The Stars at night/Are big and bright

Deep in the heart of Texas!

Habs face the Dallas Stars tonight, and Brother Andrei will be watching from the safety of his suit, pondering recent civil unrest in Minsk. He’s a healthy scratch for tonight, as is Yannick Weber.

Eller will be on the Cammalleri-Plekanec line, and Pacioretty will be with Gomez and Gionta.

The Stars have been very strong at home (9-0-2 in the last 11 home games), and their goalie Kari Lehtonen hasn’t lost in 8 regulation games.

This game will be a good indicator of how the Habs’ season is shaping up, and how Carey Price is handling a steady workload on the road.  Another attempt to come from behind could be very costly, and our small, fast team needs to play on its strengths.  In a post-Markov world, the defence needs to buy into the same system at all times.

Martin is making all kinds of noises about his guys refusing to battle, and lacking in commitment around the net.  After a tough, punishing practise on Monday, he expects his offense to do much better.

More after the game….

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Who needs ice girls…

when you’ve got the Green Men?

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What was I saying about turnovers?

Two of the goals scored in last night’s game occured because of turnovers.

Sloppy play when faced with the league’s most productive offense = a costly loss.  Subban and Picard each finished the game with a -2 differential.

I am not thrilled with some of the goals that are getting in, as our Carey seems to have become a mere human once again.  The hockey gods are capricious, especially with goalies, and the 5-hole is holier than it should be these days.  The glove, capable of such exploits at times, has been given to bouncing glances at the puck that result in ugly, ugly scoring on the Habs.

This is precisely the kind of yuletide inconsistent effort and spotty energy that has me worried.

Habs are in Dallas next, to reconnect with their old friend, party animal/loud public drunk/ disruptor of Texan restaurants, Mike Ribeiro.

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