Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016

Sports

05/28/2014

Canadiens in the playoffs: 'We've got to keep our emotions in check'

Spo1

Rene Bourque scores hat-trick for the win

The Montreal Canadiens have avoided elimination in the NHL Eastern Conference final Stanley Cup playoffs and forced a game six back in New York after a 7-4 win at the Bell Centre last night.

It was a wild game, with the Habs watching a 4-1 lead slip away until Rene Bourque scored the game winner near the end of a crazy second period. 

"It's huge. We got the life sucked out of us a bit — a couple bad bounces. We've got to stay out of the box, I think. We don't want to let them back in the game, and that's what we did," said Canadiens' left winger Max Pacioretty.

Pacioretty was one of the Habs goal scorers last night along with Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Plekanec, and David Desharnais.

However, the night really belonged to Rene Bourque after scoring a hat trick for the win.

"It's probably the biggest game of my career," said Bourque.

The Canadiens beat the Rangers 7-4 with the Rangers lading the best of seven series 3-2. (CP/Paul Chiasson)

"I had a tough first period. The puck was bouncing a lot and I found it a little bit better in the second period. Sometimes the puck just seems to be wherever you are going. It seems to be following you. My linesmen did a great job of getting the puck to me and we had a lot of shots on net." 

In 63 regular season games, Bourque scored nine goals. In 16 playoff games, he has scored eight. 

The Canadiens will play game 6 in New York tomorrow (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET).

The CBC Montreal Sports team has you covered for the Montreal Canadiens' 2014 Stanley Cup playoff run. Andie Bennett and Doug Gelevan are with Habs from the first round all the way to the victory parade.

 


Rangers Better Not Bring Game 5 Stink Back To MSG

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The New York Rangers better leave the odor — and the ugly hockey — in Montreal after stinking up the joint at Bell Center in a 7-4 defeat Tuesday.

“Well, it was, to say the least, a strange game,” head coach Alain Vigneault said after Game 5.

The Rangers committed seven turnovers in the first period. They struggled to connect passes out of defensive zone, lacked any measure of poise and discipline, and failed to match the Montreal Canadiens’ desperation. They seemed overawed by the raucous atmosphere.

“For whatever reason, we just weren’t connecting on our passes out of our zone,” alternate captain Marc Staal told MSG reporter John Giannone. “We weren’t very crisp, we weren’t clean like we normally are. When we did turn it over, they made us pay for it.”

Staal finished the night a minus-3. Both Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh were a minus-2. Chris Kreider became the youngest Ranger to record four points in a playoff game, but overall he lacked any form of composure or discipline.

Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t right. The usually masterful goalie gave up four goals on 19 shots, and was pulled before the halfway point of the second period.

The Habs did everything to get under the skin of the Blueshirts – and it worked.

Montreal pulled out all the tricks and theatrics. Tomas Plekanec didn’t get touched by Martin St. Louis’ high stick, but he dramatically snapped his head back. Thankfully, the officials did an excellent job of spotting Plekanec’s theatrics and he was called for an embellishment penalty. This is nothing new from Plekanec. He’s been faking contact throughout the series. The Rangers went on to score a power play goal, proving that hockey karma might exist. But a number of Canadiens successfully attempted to con the refs throughout Game 5.

Montreal’s star defenseman P.K. Subban was able to fool the refs into charging Benoit Pouliot with a penalty after a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. Subban took a clear and obvious dive to make it appear that he had been kicked out from under by Pouliot. It’s disgusting stuff from a player who is quickly becoming one of the faces of the sport due to his incredible athleticism and powerful shot. It’s a shame that Subban packages dishonest traits with his all-world skill and outgoing personality.

Tuesday’s dismal performance wasn’t anywhere near what you’d normally expect from a...



05/22/2014

Jeff Carter, Kings roar back to tie West final series

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Jeff Carter and the Los Angeles Kings know how to come back in the playoffs. This was no big deal compared to the first two rounds.

Carter scored three of Los Angeles' six straight goals, and the Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2 on Wednesday night to even the Western Conference final at a game apiece.

Tyler Toffoli and Jake Muzzin also scored in Los Angeles' five-goal third period to help the Kings become the first visiting team to win in Chicago this post-season. The Blackhawks won their first seven home playoff games this year, but the Kings skated right by Chicago after the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead in the second period.

"Just sticking with what we need to do," Carter said. "You know, we got a good group of leaders in our room. We've been through comebacks and whatnot a lot lately. Obviously, not something we want to do. But we stick with it, grind it out, get the job done."

'Comeback Kings'

The early deficit was just a small speed bump for Los Angeles, dubbed the "comeback Kings" for their play in the opening two rounds.

Los Angeles trailed 3-0 in its first playoff series against San Jose, and won four straight games to eliminate the Sharks. The Kings overcame a 3-2 series deficit in the second round against top-seeded Anaheim.

"We know we can win," forward Jarret Stoll said. "That's the bottom line. They've got a good team, but we feel we do too."

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Nick Leddy and Ben Smith scored for Chicago, which won 3-1 in Game 1 on Sunday.

"The way it turned on a dime like that, I don't know if we've seen a game like that all year where we're doing everything all right and all of a sudden it was a disaster," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Chicago was in position for its fourth consecutive win before Carter redirected Drew Doughty's slap shot by Corey Crawford to tie it at 2 just 1:37 into the third. Muzzin then had another power-play score at 4:04 that gave Los Angeles the lead.

Once the Kings got going, they appeared to get almost anything they wanted against the sagging Blackhawks. Tanner Pearson set up goals by Toffoli at 8:59 and Carter at 14:44, and Carter added an empty-netter for his seventh of the playoffs.

"We knew the third period was going to be our best period in this series so far," Doughty said. "We were just...


Hawks were warned this would not be easy

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The Blackhawks were warned.

They knew the Kings would be a different team with a couple days off, a different team than the one that had to fly four hours and play Game 1 only 39 hours after finishing Game 7 against Anaheim.

They understood from last year against Detroit in a similar situation that this would be a more prepared Kings hockey team in Game 2.

They know the Kings won the Stanley Cup two years ago, are healthier than last year and they watched Los Angeles become the first team ever to win three straight games in two straight series to open the playoffs.

They knew this would not be easy.

Yes, they were warned.

But these are the Hawks and they don't ever seem to take a match seriously until they absolutely have to, and they proved it again Wednesday night at the UC.

After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, Los Angeles came storming back to score 6 straight goals -- including 5 in the third period -- to defeat the Hawks 6-2 and tie the Western Conference finals at 1-1.

"We know what they're capable of and we have a lot of respect for that team. It's no secret what they can do," said Patrick Sharp. "We played a really good first period and most of the second. We just need to finish it off."

In Game 2 a year ago, the Hawks beat Jonathan Quick to the tune of 4 goals on 17 shots in 29 minutes and put the best goaltender in the world on the bench. They were a shot or two away from the same Wednesday when Quick made the save of the game.

The Hawks played a brilliant first period and nearly put the game away in the second when Kris Versteeg picked up a loose puck on a 2-on-1 with 7:19 left and fed Brent Seabrook for the 2-foot putt, but Quick read the pass and beat Seabrook to keep it 2-0 Hawks.

That's when Drew Doughty slammed his stick on the boards and let his teammates know the series would be over fast if they didn't turn it around.

"We were giving up a lot of odd-man breaks and Drew wasn't too happy," said a smiling Anze Kopitar. "We figured we better stop making it so hard for Quickie."

Five minutes later, Mike Richards got to a loose puck and fed it toward the front, where a hard-charging Justin Williams got a good bounce off his right skate and through Corey Crawford's pads to cut the lead to 2-1 with just 1:46 left in the second period.

The Hawks entered the game with a postseason-best 92 percent penalty kill and the Kings were 0-for-5 in the series when Darryl Sutter made a crucial...



05/14/2014

Rangers’ Lundqvist continues Game 7 magic

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault had trouble finding the words to describe goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

“He’s OK,” Vigneault said finally with a small shake of his head.

Except that is, in Game 7s. In Game 7s, Lundqvist is unbeatable. And so are the Rangers.

Frustrating Sidney Crosby and the reeling Pittsburgh Penguins one final time, Lundqvist made 35 saves to lift New York to a 2-1 win on Tuesday night and give his resilient team an unlikely spot in the Eastern Conference finals.

“I was so tired at the end,” Lundqvist said after setting an NHL record with his fifth straight Game 7 triumph. “But it was just a great feeling when you know it’s a done deal and we did it.”

Brian Boyle and Brad Richards scored for New York, which rallied from a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in the franchise’s 88-year history.

The Rangers did it behind Lundqvist, who stopped 102 of the final 105 shots he faced over the final three games as New York advanced to the conference finals for the second time in three years.

The three-time All-Star is 10-2 when facing elimination.

He was at his best during a mad scramble in front of the Rangers’ net with just over five minutes left, when he turned aside three shots from three different angles in a matter of seconds to preserve a one-goal lead.

The Rangers will play the winner of the Bruins-Canadiens series in the conference finals. That series is tied 3-3 and Game 7 is Wednesday night in Boston.

Pittsburgh fell to 2-7 all time at home in Game 7s, including three such losses in the past five seasons. Sidney Crosby, who led the league in scoring and is an MVP finalist, managed just one goal in 13 playoffs games.


Penguins rumors: Vultures circle over Dan Bylsma

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Eliminated early in the playoffs, again, Dan Bylsma may not be long for this world as the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After another playoff loss, the Pittsburgh Penguins now have to take a look in the mirror and assess themselves. Why do they have just a 3-3 series record in the past three seasons? How did they blow a 3 games to 1 lead against the New York Rangers? Why have they not won a game outside of the first 2 rounds of the playoffs in now five years?

All eyes will turn on the coach. You can't fire 23 players, but you can change the voice behind the bench. At his post-game press conference last night, Dan Bylsma sounded like he knew it.

"Well, you know, our ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup," Bylsma glumly said. "We haven’t done that in five seasons. I’m 20 minutes post battling for a Game 7, and right to the bitter end. I haven’t contemplated what that price is gonna be, or anything towards the future yet."

It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that Bylsma's immediate future isn't going to bode well. This is bound to be another off-season of upheaval for the Penguins- who have to make free agent decisions on Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen and Jussi Jokinen with limited salary cap space to do so. Two out of the three (if not all three) have likely played their last games as Penguins.

More troubling for Bylsma, most of the key players who will be back next season weren't able to score this playoff. Sidney Crosby, famously, only had 1 goal in the 13 playoff games. James Neal only had 2 goals, none of them in the last six games. Chris Kunitzonly scored 3 goals, and just one of those came in the final eight games.

Of course, Henrik Lundqvist had something to do with that, but Bylsma could get them going and he couldn't boost a power play that only scored once against the Rangers in the entire seven game series.

Bylsma may be the victim of bad luck, playing against hot goalies, the Pens not being able to execute for him, and it's certainly not all his fault. He's a good coach with tactics that have been proven to work. Unfortunately, they have worked out a lot better in the regular season- where Bylsma's .672 winning percentage is best ever through 400 games. Since winning the Cup in 2009, Bylsma is an even 27-27 in the playoffs.

As Bylsma said, we don't know what the price may be, but...



05/07/2014

Habs Playing With An Edge; Who Knew They Had It In Them?

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Boston isn't bullying Montreal, and now have to find another way

Job No. 1 when you're taking on the Boston Bruins in the NHL post-season?

Push back. Even better, take the initiative.

That's what the Montreal Canadiens have done, and done rather well, as part of their surprising jump to a 2-1 series lead after Tuesday night's spirited triumph at the Bell Centre.

The most antagonizing, annoying player in the series so far?

Brendan Gallagher.

The most reckless and physically punishing player?

P.K. Subban.

The most surprising physical force?

Rene Bourque.

The nastiest hit?

Travis Moen on Jarome Iginla late in Game 4.

The Habs aren't the NHL's most physical or intimidating team, and let's remember, they're just a season away from being rag-dolled by the Maple Leafs one sad night on home ice.

But they have showed up with an edge in these playoffs, a Michel Therrien-inspired edge, and haven't backed off an inch.

That was easy, or easier, against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. Not so easy against the Bruins, a team that prides itself on being the hammer while the other team plays the nail, a team that likes to bully and has a pack of wild dogs mentality that assures if you confront one Boston player you'll probably have to deal with five. Or more.

Except the Canadiens don't seem put off at all by that so far in this series. In fact, Gallagher and Subban, in particular, appear utterly disinclined to let anyone's opinion of how they go about their business impact what they do, regardless of how many Bruins it angers.

Twenty-nine other teams would dearly love an irritant like Smilin' Brendan in their lineup, a guy who plays like the terrier in the neighbor's yard who never stops barking. The Leafs, to name one team, learned the difference of such a player this season when they clearly missed the presence of Leo Komarov.

Subban, meanwhile, is at the centre of every controversy, every wild moment, including hurling himself with a flying elbow at a Bruin last night and injuring teammate Tomas Vanek in the process.

You can taunt Subban, have fans hurl racist epithets at him, target him, hit him, doing anything to him - he keeps coming and showed again last night an ability to bring the Bell Centre to its feet.

You'll notice none of this Montreal approach includes dropping the gloves, which is always pretty much pointless and especially so in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Giant Zdeno Chara, oddly...


So, where are the Big Bad Bruins?

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MONTREAL — The Bruins are the better team. This is what the hockey folks keep saying. This is what the regular-season record shows. The Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy, earning home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The Bruins are better than the Canadiens at the five-on-five game. The Bruins play a heavy game. They will overwhelm Montreal with Maximum Heaviosity.

Hmmm. This sounds like what folks in Detroit were saying last October when they played the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. The Tigers were clearly better. Just like the 2007 Patriots were clearly better than the New York Giants. Just like the ’84 Lakers were better than the Celtics.

So why did Montreal win, 4-2, Tuesday night? Why are the Bruins trailing this series, 2-1? In three playoff games, why have the Canadiens led for 107 minutes, while the Bruins have led for only 11½ minutes? When do the Hub’s Heavy Hitters take control of this series? Where is the Bruins first line? Where in the world is David Krejci?

Sorry for asking. I guess this is the time to have faith in the battle-tested Bruins. They trailed the Canadiens in the first round of the magical Cup run in 2011. They trailed Toronto by a couple of goals late in the third in Game 7 last year. They know how to handle this situation.

Still, there is something nagging about this series. If not for three goals in six minutes of the third period Saturday, the Bruins would be staring down the barrel of a 0-3 deficit going into Thursday night’s game at the Bell Centre.

Buoyed by their Game 2 comeback at the Garden, the Bruins arrived in Quebec prepared to assume the role of Big Bad Bears. The Bruins’ decidedly bland postgame remarks from Saturday had been magically manipulated by the locals to make them appear cocky and ready for a fall. The Montreal Gazette led its Tuesday sports section with a nifty column by veteran Pat Hickey under the flaming headline, “Habs play down Boston’s trash talk.’’

I couldn’t actually remember any trash talking, but there it was: Dougie Hamilton’s contention that the Bruins had discovered a way to beat Carey Price (high shots when he drops down — it’s like saying a hitter has trouble with the fastballs up and in, or curves low and away — it holds for everybody) was treated as if Hamilton had said, “Price stinks,’’ or, “I hate French food.’’ Bruins coach...



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