Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kenneth Kidd of the Toronto Star,
When the chorus starts up halfway through the second period, Sara Mastroianni is in full throat amid a sea of Habs sweaters, all eyes glued to the blaring French-language broadcast of RDS.
“Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole.”
It’s the kind of scene replicated up and down Montreal’s Crescent St. on game nights.
Except that Mastroianni, a 25-year-old Quebecker, is sitting in Kilgour’s Bar on Bloor St. W., having googled “Habs-friendly bar in Toronto” from her home in Thornhill.
She needn’t have travelled quite this far.
Habs fever, the passion that once dared not speak its name in the heart of Leafs Nation, is everywhere in Hogtown.
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
There was white noise at 5:30 p.m. when the Bell Centre’s doors opened, a gentle hum produced by the early birds and an almost serene soundtrack.
By 6:10, when the first “Crosby sucks!” chant went up from the upper reaches of the arena bowl, the anticipation had built to an electricity you feel in the air just before a thunderstorm.
Warm-up, just after 6:30, and the rafters were shaking, though the place was still only half full.
And then came the crescendo of the Canadiens stepping onto the ice just after 7 p.m. for last night’s third game of their Eastern Conference semi-final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and this much was clear: NASA might soon be cancelling the U.S. shuttle program, but you can always come here during the playoffs and sit on the pad beneath a rocket launch.
continued and when will Versus learn to grab that pre-game experience and televise a few minutes of it. Last night, they did not go to Montreal until just before the puck dropped.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Turns out there are two pretty good goaltenders in the Penguins-Montreal Canadiens playoff series after all.
Marc-Andre Fleury showed up here Tuesday night at his hometown Bell Centre, made his presence felt in a big way and stole the show from Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak, not to mention a 2-0 win in Game 3.
Please tell me you aren’t surprised.
“He’s a gamer,” Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche marveled afterward. “He wins games.”
Is there a better compliment for any athlete?
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail (Wednesday edition),
There’s no secret to winning playoff games.
Score more goals than the other guys.
It’s how you get there, however, that can be so very different. Rare is the 6-3 Pittsburgh win that opened this Round 2 series between the Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens. More common – in this era of too many coaches and obsessive defensive systems – is the sort of game that was presented last night at the Bell Centre.
Final shots: 25-18 in favour of Pittsburgh. Final score: 2-0, also in favour of Pittsburgh.
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov, who left Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal after being hit by Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke, has been diagnosed with a torn ACL.
Markov, who is out of the Habs’ lineup indefinitely, has not officially been ruled out of the series or playoffs by the Canadiens.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Michael Cammalleri (he told reporters in Montreal on Monday he prefers it to Mike, but really doesn’t care) has been on fire with eight postseason goals, one off the league lead as of Monday morning. He has scored in six of nine postseason games, including two goals in the Habs’ big 3-1 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday that tied the series at 1.
It’s a stark change from a year ago, when Cammalleri had one goal in six games for Calgary in a first-round loss to Chicago….
The 5-foot-9 forward said he doesn’t really understand the idea that the size of the Habs’ small forwards, often referred to as “Smurfs,” would be a factor in the playoffs.
“It’s hockey,” Cammalleri said. “The puck’s on the ice. Sometimes I don’t understand that notion. It’s not basketball where the net’s 10 feet in the air, but what can I tell you?”
from Marc Antoine Godin of cyberpresse (translated),
Hal Gill had the chance to play good hockey markets like Boston, Toronto and Pittsburgh. Each of these cities has its own personality.
“Montreal is probably the largest crowd dynamics of the league, says the gentle giant. But if you make a mistake, people let you know! In Toronto, it’s full every night, but it’s very quiet. And Pittsburgh, it was not always full, but it’s a younger crowd, usually very busy.”
Michael Cammalleri is still not in regard to experiences hyperactive crowd. “Hockey at the University of Michigan is a spectacular experience, said Cammalleri. When there is a punishment to an opponent, the whole crowd murmur “Ooooohhh” as the player approaches the penalty box. Then the noise increases ...
“And when the guy entered the penalty bench, the 7000 people - even little old ladies and children - cried the worst insults in the showing of fingering!”
thanks to Habs Inside/Out for the pointer
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
If you’re a Canadian and love the sport of hockey, you’ve got to be feeling spoiled these days.
Or this year.
The calendar began with a special world junior championship tournament in frigid Saskatoon — Canada lost to the United States in a terrific gold medal final — and continued with the Canadian double hockey gold in balmy Vancouver at the spectacular Winter Olympics….
The Canadiens, back from the dead after falling behind 3-1 to Washington, are home and alive in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and springtime hockey in Montreal is something special. Always been that way, and while the Bell Centre crowd has developed the unfortunate habit of ridiculously screaming for penalties constantly, it will be deafening Tuesday night.
Olympic golden goal scorer Sidney Crosby will be in town with the defending champion Penguins and the series tied 1-1. Every time it seems like the Habs are on the ropes, they bounce back into the fray.
from Mark Kelley at CBC,
It’s Canada vs. Canada. As two Canadian teams advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs, who should the country be cheering for? The Vancouver Canucks or the Montreal Canadiens?
We’re asking hockey fans to record a video, explaining which team deserves Canada’s support. West Coast or East Coast? Blue and green or blue and red? The team with zero Stanley Cups or the team with 24?
from Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette,
Ali is old and tired. The self of his former shadow, as Michael Farber put it. But he’s also the smartest fighter who ever lived: He ropes, and he dopes, and when Foreman is so tired of beating on Ali that he can hardly lift his arm, Ali starts to throw brilliant combinations.
The rest you know. Rope-a-dope works, in hockey as it does in boxing. For it to work, however, you need a great goaltender. Not a good goalie, a great one.
And the Canadiens just might have that goalie. The thoroughbred, it turns out, was right under our noses all along. And I’m not talking about Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.
Meet Jaroslav Halak, the relatively slight, unassuming Slovak who will turn 25 in 10 days. The man the Canadiens have tried to consign to a backup role. The outsider who has fought through every prejudice to become a dominating goalie.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org