Bruins Extend Win Streak to 9 in Montreal

Going into this game I predicted P.K. Subban would sit in the sin bin more often than the most hated man in Montreal, Zdeno Chara, on the TSN Predictor – Hockey Edition contest.

At least I earned a point tonight.

While the Habs were killing a Subban penalty in the first period, Tomas Plekanec and Travis Moen broke out of the zone on a 2-on-1. Pleks gave Moen a perfect tape-to-tape pass but Moen missed the net.

Fanning on shots or just plain missing the net entirely seems to be a common trend for le bleu, blanc, rouge as of late.

The Canadiens deserve a lot of credit for their first period action, though. The boys were hard on the puck, going in the corners and winning battles against their giant counterparts.

Erik Cole lays a hit on Andrew Ference. Photo by: REUTERS/ Christinne Muschi

Alexei Emelin had a huge hit behind Carey Price and I fell in [hockey] love with Josh Gorges a little more when he levelled Lucic just inside our blue line. Even our smallest player, and wonderful captain, got in on the action throwing a few hits at the 6’9 Chara.

Although Montreal outshot Boston 10-5 in the first, Mr. Glove Malfunction (or Andrew Ference) flipped the bird at Price’s shutout, ending his streak at 148:11 minutes of play to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

Ference was left all alone in front, took the pass and beat Price who had no chance to cover the net. The goal would ultimately be the game winner.

Is it bad I hoped someone would jump that guy cheering in the Lucic jersey the camera panned to after the Bruins goal?

While Sidney Crosby (remember him? Yeah, The Kid is back) was lighting the lamp in Pittsburgh, the Habs played a lackluster second and third period which would not go unnoticed by Twitter.

“Habs playing like a PeeWee team” -@DannyBoyMTL

 

“This has to be the most emotionless Habs Bruins game in recent memory” – Arpon Basu

The refs finally gave the Bruins a penalty, after keeping their eyes closed to the dirty stick work in the first period, when ex-Habs Benoit Pouliot stupidly retaliated and hooked Emelin behind the play.

Michael Cammalleri had a nice shot from the point, which was deflected in front but Tim Thomas denied him with the kick save.

Too many times the Canadiens cycled the puck and didn’t take the right opportunities to shoot, then took shots from the weakest angles or coughed up the puck.

When the shorthanded team has as many shots on net as you during your power play, it’s time to rethink your special teams. Write that in your notebook, Jacques Martin.

Pouliot was sent back to the box not long after his escape, this time for four minutes, for getting his stick up in Subban’s face.

Once again, the Habs couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage.

Boston’s victory can no doubt be placed on the shoulders of Thomas who made 33 saves for his third shutout of the year, earning him the game’s first star.

The Bruins earned their ninth straight win while Thomas has gone 133:04 minutes without allowing a goal.

With 1:39 remaining in the game Rich Peverley took a penalty for cross-checking Cammalleri. Even with the extra attacker, the Habs couldn’t buy a goal.

At one point, with 45 seconds left in the game, the Canadiens pulled a dump-and-chase making me throw my hands up in disgust as Boston quickly cleared the zone and the time on the clock ran out.

Even with their mini-me sized roster compared to the Bruins, Montreal out shot and out hit Boston.

To give them credit, Price (17-18) and the boys only allowed one Boston goal. Impressive, considering the Bruins had outscored their opponents 42-14 in the first eight games of the hot streak they’re on.

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CWHL Helps the Homeless and Fights Breast Cancer

In an outreach game, Friday in Newmarket, the Brampton Hockey Club hosted the Burlington Barracudas to cap off the RBC Hockey Helps the Homeless charity tournament.

The sold-out recreational tournament featured Toronto Maple Leafs alumni and current CWHL players in the lineups.

Since its inception in 1996, the organization has raised more than $3.5 million and assisted more than 18,000 homeless men, women and youths.

Canadian Olympic gold medalists Jayna Hefford, Lori Dupuis, and Gillian Apps scored two points apiece while Cherie Piper had three points in Brampton’s 6-3 win.

Rookie Vicki Bendus had a goal and an assist while Ashley Riggs also netted two goals for her first points of the season.

Barracudas captain Jana Harrigan and Shannon Moulson each scored a goal and an assist while Sommer West had three helpers. Annina Rajahuhta also scored for Burlington.

The teams had a rematch on Saturday in Brampton where the home team came out on top 2-1 to extend their win streak to three.

Jennifer Sadler and Apps scored for Brampton while Rajahuhta had the lone Burlington goal.

The Barracudas have yet to win a game this season.

Game On to Beat Breast Cancer

Stars goalie Jenny Lavigne sports a pink jersey in first period action. Photo by Pasquale Stalteri/Pasquale Stalteri Photography.

The Montreal Stars hosted their second annual “game on to beat breast cancer” fundraising event Saturday against the Boston Blades, attracting over 1,100 fans.

All proceeds from the event, which boasted 11 Olympians in action, went to the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation (FCSQ).

The Stars sported specially designed pink jerseys for the warm up and first period which were auctioned off to fans.

While Montreal outshot Boston 42-25, the Blades came out with a 4-2 win handing the Stars their first loss of the season.

Whitney Naslund scored two goals and two assists while Micaela Long and Katelyn Kurth each had a goal in the victory.

Caroline Ouellette and Sarah Vaillancourt scored for Montreal.

Meghan Agosta beats Molly Schaus in Montreal's 4-1 win. Photo by Pasquale Stalteri/Pasquale Stalteri Photography

In the rematch game Sunday, Ouellette scored one goal and added three assists while No.1 draft pick Meghan Agosta had a goal and an assist in Montreal’s 4-1 victory.

Noémie Marin and Sabrina Harbec each had a goal and an assist as well.

Erika Lawler scored the lone Boston goal.

Ouellette, Vaillancourt and Agosta are among the top five league leading scorers. Head coach Patrick Rankine earned his 100th victory with the Montreal Stars.

Alberta Home Opener

The CWHL’s newest team, the Alberta Hockey Club, hosted the Toronto Furies in back-to-back games over the weekend.

Team Alberta is a provincial team -with one practice a week in the north and one practice a week in the south – the entire team only comes together for games.

Global Calgary did a news story on the Alberta Hockey Club.

In Saturday’s home opener at Winsport Canada, Jenna Cunningham opened the scoring just 25 seconds into the game. Cunningham would add the game-winning goal, being the only player to score in the shootout for a 5-4 Alberta victory.

Chelsea Purcell added two goals in the first period while Olivia Sutter scored late in the second to give Alberta a 4-2 lead going into the third period.

Frances McPhail scored a short-handed goal for The Furies in the first period and Kori Cheverie added a goal in both the second and third periods before Jess Scanzano scored the game-tying power-play goal.

Tessa Bonhomme, who just won the CBC’s Battle of the Blades with partner David Pelletier, had two assists in the loss.

In Sunday’s rematch, Toronto’s McPhail scored with eight seconds remaining in the game with the extra attacker but it wasn’t enough as the Alberta Hockey Club defeated the Furies 4-3.

Lauren Chiswell scored two unassisted goals while Karlee Overguard and Sutter added one apiece in the win.

Scanzano and Michelle Bonello also scored for Toronto.

The Furies out shot Alberta 50-29 on Saturday and 34-13 on Sunday in the back-to-back losses.

Stick it to Cancer

The CWHL and Breast Ride Ever are teaming up for “Stick it to Cancer” Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 where the Montreal Stars and the Toronto Furies will play back-to-back games at the Windsor Arena.

The Breast Ride Ever is a non-profit fundraiser to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer prevention, treatment and Hospice services for the people in the Windsor and Essex County Community.

After the game Sunday, spectators are invited onto the ice for a skate with the champions/autograph session.

Team GP W L OTL PTS* WPCT INDIV GF GA PIM HOME AWAY
Montreal 4 3 1 0 6 .750 3-1-0 17 8 56 3-1-0 0-0-0
Alberta 4 3 1 0 12 .750 3-1-0 14 13 54 2-0-0 1-1-0
Boston 6 4 2 0 8 .667 4-2-0 22 13 56 1-1-0 3-1-0
Brampton 5 3 2 0 8 .600 3-2-0 15 16 78 3-0-0 0-2-0
Toronto 4 1 1 2 5 .500 1-1-2 12 14 46 0-0-0 1-1-2
Burlington 5 0 5 0 0 .000 0-5-0 8 24 52 0-3-0 0-2-0

For other stats and news please visit the CWHL website. 

Budaj Not to Blame in Habs Loss

Budaj's 29 saves would not be enough as the Islanders defeated the Canadiens 4-3. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images.

Let me start by saying I actually agreed with the coaching decision to sit Carey Price and play Peter Budaj against the New York Islanders tonight.

Many fellow Habs fans on Twitter did not agree with this decision, taking another opportunity to make shots at Jacques Martin (whom which I dislike just as much as the next guy, by the way).  Would these people have had a different opinion had Price not earned a shutout last night?

YES.

The decision to play Budaj or Price was more than likely made before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes even started. It didn’t matter to the coaching staff how the game ended; they had already made up their minds.

With two games in two nights and some tough matchups remaining this month (Rangers, Bruins, Hurricanes followed by back-to-back games against the Flyers and Penguins), giving Price a break was a smart move. He might be the saviour in Montreal, but the guy isn’t invincible; he needs a rest once in a while. That’s why we have a backup goaltender in the first place.

Onto the game itself, where the Habs fought back from a 3-0 deficit to ultimately lose 4-3 and the hands of the Islanders.

New York’s first goal of the game can solely be blamed on Budaj who attempted to play the puck behind the net and instead gift wrapped an early Christmas gift for Pierre-Alexandr Parenteau.

After playing a solid first period, the immediate “Pull Budaj” comments following the first goal he allowed were a bit much, to say the least. In my opinion, that would be the only goal of the game that he could take full blame for (let’s remember there are five players in front of him too).

The Islanders’ second goal, the first of the season for Jay Pandolfo, began with a 3-on-2 into Montreal’s defensive zone. Both Scott Gomez and Aaron Palushaj coasted into the zone, while Mathieu Darche came back hard and dove in attempts to break up the pass at the blue-line. Both Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz had their men covered leaving Pandolfo all alone in front.

Had Gomez or Palushaj actually skated hard to defend our zone, the goal may not have happened. Budaj was in position but stood no chance against the unprotected Pandolofo.

Mark Streit, who played for the bleu, blanc, rouge from 2005-2008, shovelled the Isles’ third goal passed Budaj on a Habs defensive error.

Emelin made a weak attempt to clear the zone, when he had all the time in the world to set up a play. Streit picked up the puck and brought it back over the blue-line then passed it in front when Travis Moen lightly bumped him. After getting around Moen, who barely put any pressure on him at all, he picked up the loose puck in front of Budaj and put it home.

You can argue it was a weak goal on Budaj’s fault but it started with two major weak plays by his teammates.

Max Pacioretty finally put the Habs on the score sheet late in the second with a snap shot that beat Rick DiPietro on a pass from Lars Eller who capitalized on an Islanders defensive error.

The game really started getting exciting when Erik Cole cut the lead to one as he roofed the puck over a sprawled DiPietro who couldn’t regain position.

Just as quickly as the Habs looked to be taking back control of the game, Matt Moulson gave the Islanders their safety goal back.

Once again, on a 3-on-2 into the Habs zone, Moulson fired a wrist shot, which may have deflected off P.K. Subban’s stick as he turned, that beat Budaj between the legs.

Brian Gionta would give the Habs a power-play goal in the third, with an assist going to Mike Cammalleri who put in a solid effort getting the puck to the net.

From this loss I leave with the feeling that the Habs need to work on their defensive zone coverage. The forwards are not supporting their defencemen enough through the neutral zone and behind the blue-line and it’s costing them odd man rushes leading to goals.

The Islanders, who are last in the Eastern Conference out shot the Canadiens 33-29 in the 4-3 victory.

On the plus side the Habs continue to have a strong penalty killing unit, defending three New York power plays tonight. They have not given up a short-handed goal in their last six games.

I also really enjoy seeing Subban, Gionta and Cammalleri together on the power play. They were able to capitalize just once, but their chemistry led to a few great chances on others.

Scotiabank Place: Home Away From Home

Les Boys warming up

Kanata, ON – It was Heritage Night at Scotiabank Place when the Montreal Canadiens came to town for their first game of the regular season against the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 4.

It may as well have been a home game for the Habs.

The crowd was a sea of bleu, blanc, rouge and the chants of Go Habs Go were loud and clear. When the in-house announcer introduced the Sens Army, the boos rang through the rafters.

As great as it was to be surrounded by Habs fan (there were less than a handful of Sens fans in my section), I couldn’t help but feel bad for the Senators and their fans; it must be a terrible feeling to play at your home rink and not even have the home support.

Decked out in my Habs gear for the game

Decked out in a Maurice Richard jersey, a baseball cap and scarf I was tingling with excitement for puck drop. It was my first time seeing Les Boys play live since the season before the lockout.

During the first period there was an announcement put on the big screen to enter a competition to win a heritage Ottawa jersey. To enter, you had to take a picture of yourself at the game wearing an old Sens jersey and tweet it to the official Sens account (@NHL_Sens) with your seat number and the hashtag #Sportcheckheritage.

I decided to take a picture of Mike in his jersey and send it in and he ended up winning a signed Neil jersey! The sportcheck representative came up to our seats and whisked Mike away to go on the big screen with his new jersey.

Mike and I at the game; He's sporting his newly won heritage jersey

I asked why I couldn’t go, since I had sent the tweet, and the lady told me I could not go with Habs gear on. She offered to let me go on camera too, as long as I put a Sens jersey on.

I obviously refused.

Our whole section cheered at my loyalty to Les Canadiens.

Everyone in our row won a $25.00 Sportchek gift certificate as well.

Tony came all the way from Scotland to see the Habs play!

I found out a fellow Habs fan on Twitter (@Habs_Clan) was going to be at the game too, all the way from Scotland! I met Tony during the second intermission to give him a Canadian welcome.

All-in-all it was a fantastic game. The Habs won (2-1), we won a jersey worth over $400 and we only bought the cheapest tickets in the house.

Aspiring Elite Athletes Need a Game Plan

Teen athletes looking to excel in hockey and attain the next level require a healthy balance of skill, dedication, commitment, motivation and inspiration.

That’s where a game plan is needed.

Darryl Giancola, who has a Masters Degree in Education and exstensive coaching experience along with a new title of head scout for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), realized the need for this and created Game Plan: Teen Coaching.

Game Plan offers teenagers, especially female players, individually designed yearly plans through which they work one-on-one with an experienced educator who helps them create appropriate stage goals and then properly prepares them to achieve those goals.

When his son was born, Giancola decided to leave coaching behind after a decade with the Toronto Junior Aeros. Right away he had other teams asking him to coach them, or help them out. After constantly turning them down, a few asked him to mentor them and they were willing to pay.

As he was putting the season long plans together that revolved around goal setting for the teams he was also doing motivational guest speaking. Parents started asking him to do the same thing personally, for their teen daughters.

Business started growing and Giancola realized he needed help. He started asking his teacher friends if they’d be interested in Game Plan: Teen Coaching and sure enough he found a list of teachers who wanted to coach as well.

Now Game Plan: Teen Coaching has at least 30 kids a season they work with as personal coaches.

“Parents hire us because they know nothing about the sport and want our help or they know a lot about the sport but their kids are tuning them out,” says Giancola. “As a coach I can motivate the kids in ways their parents can’t.”

The program mainly works with high school aged athletes who are high development level players. Since the program is an investment for parents, the athletes must have a certain commitment level. Game Plan is self-motivation for people who are already interested in achieving goals.

Once athletes reach the university level they will have developed enough skills to do it on their own. Currently there are four graduates from the Game Plan program that are university level players.

Giancola admits one of the reasons he’s had such success with this program among female athletes is because women’s hockey is still so young and growing.

“I’m looked at as a veteran expert in this game,” he says. “Whereas in men’s hockey I wouldn’t be considered a veteran.”

As a female hockey player myself who was drafted to the Burlington Barracudas of the CWHL this summer, but didn’t make the final cut, I wish there had been programs such as this one available while I was growing up.

At a time when women’s hockey was just starting to boom, when there were a lot of coaches who barely knew the game themselves, my personal play would have drastically improved with the one-on-one mentorship and coaching Giancola’s program provides the new generation of female hockey players.

I never even knew about the Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) at the intermediate AA level or I would not have chosen to stay at the intermediate A level where I couldn’t get scouted for Team Ontario or the Under 18 or 22 national team.

One of the worst decisions I made that has had a major impact on my hockey career was going to college instead of university and missing out on the opportunity to play NCAA or CIS hockey.

“The CWHL is the final destination point and I don’t think people fully appreciate how good these players are. Players think they can come out of high school and crack the CWHL, but that’s not going to happen. An 18-year-old kid can’t walk in and play against 26-year-olds. If you’re a high school kid, your goal should be to play somewhere else like at school. Play hockey, and still get that education. By grade 11 you should have schools picked out, should be playing in PWHL trying to get scouted.” – Darryl Giancola

Luckily, with Game Plan, female hockey players will not only know about all the options available to them in order to achieve their goals, they will also be given all the tools necessary to succeed.

Going forward, Giancola has high visions for the Game Plan program. He wants to evolve the program into a sport specific training and academic tutoring One-stop-shop for elite athletes. This would give all students access to a personal academic teacher, a psychiatrist or sports psychologist, a personal coach, and a fitness coach.

If you are a teen hockey player , or the parent of one I highly recommend visiting the Game Plan: Teen Coaching website for more information and contacting Darryl Giancola to set up a free presentation about the program.