I now understand how long road trips can take a toll on teams such as the Montreal Canadiens, especially when there are a few weeks left in the schedule. I was covering the SXSW music festival in Austin Texas and did the drive down into the United States. The open road can be long and exhausting. That same week the Habs played a series of games, from a shutout in Pittsburgh to being shut out in New York City after playing the night before in Tampa Bay.

The United States via the highway can be quite the adventure. We passed truck stops and lots of fast food chains. We drove by cities known for minor hockey teams and passed by places like Columbus and Nashville who have NHL franchises and wondered how on earth these cities have teams. We also passed Dallas, home of the Stars and found out that even that team was on the selling block. These aren’t really strong hockey markets yet they have teams. Winnipeg and Quebec are not pleased.

At SXSW I went in search of some hockey amidst large music crowds. Was there a sign of hockey in Austin? I can say this about Texas: they do love sports, especially college sports. On this trip I saw many football stadiums and hockey arenas. They do take those sports to heart the same way Montrealers do with the Habs (Montreal fans had a rally last week in support of injured player Max Pacioretty).

My heart hadn’t been in the hockey spirit since the hit. We had the Halak game a while ago, I was going to be excited about playing against the goalie that took the team and this city on the brink to the final. However after Pacioretty it was hard for me to go back into game mode, same with the players. But good news, looks like he could be back during playoffs. Nothing can stop this guy, not even a cracked vertebrae. He is on Twitter now if you want to know if he’s been watching movies other than Hall Pass. Check him out at @MaxPacioretty67.

My search for a hockey game ended on my last night as I found hockey in a place called Paradise. Paradise housed Canada House, home of the Canadian showcases during SXSW. I was not surprised that they had a hockey game going on.

On the way home, we stopped at another fast food joint showing the Texas/Arizona basketball game from the NCAA tournament or March Madness. I was astonished to see how people would crowd around a bar early in the afternoon yelling at a game. Then again, I do the same thing in Montreal.

At the same time, my enthusiasm returned. During the Habs road trip, the kiddies were up to some good. Ryan White had his first goal in the game against Minnesota, then a fight, then an against. Yes! Gordie Howe Hat trick!

It was a scoring affair, the Habs were scoring goals the same way they have been losing players. The highlight being PK Subban scoring his first hat trick (three goals out of the 8-1 affair against Minnesota). And yes, Alex Auld assisted also.

Road trips can be a strange affair. High scoring wins, horrible losses and a lot of takeout. However myself and the Habs can’t wait to get home and keep the playoff fight going.

Shout Outs of the week: Shout out to the city of Austin for a great SXSW experience, everyone was friendly and there were many amazing shows and free drinks, lots of free drinks.

Shout out to anything in hat trick form, PK Subban’s first hat trick, Ryan White’s Gordie Howe hat trick. We ran out of hats, who knows what can happen next? Anyone else want to score 3 goals next?

In light of what has happened in hockey with Max Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara, there still is a game and a bar to review. It casts a shadow on what was to be another meeting of the heated rivalry between the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins. This was a hyped up game, the first meeting since February 9 when fights broke out. I wanted to go to Chez Serge, however it was packed an hour before game time. If a bar fills up earlier than usual, this has to be the game to watch.

I scurried over to La Petite Idee Fixe (4857 Ave du Parc), a small dive bar in the Plateau. Idee Fixe has cheap beer and dim lighting and a sketchy vibe. The closest thing to actual light was coming from the video poker machines. No questions asked, if they’re showing the game I’m going to watch no matter what. I know for one thing, being by myself does attract some strange characters.

There were a few alright, one kept talking to me but I quickly ignored. There was one sitting and yelling in front of the TV watching the Ottawa game instead. I thought there was going to be trouble if I asked to change the channel, lucky there wasn’t. I knew somehow on game night there was going to be a fight, wasn’t sure if it was going to come from the game or the bar.

The guy yelling at the TV I found out was an actual referee and he was yelling out the plays that the NHL referees were missing. Yes, there was a lot of yelling, even in dive bars you can find hockey hardcores. The guy also has a blog himself, he reviews beers.

Montreal started the battle early with Ryan White getting into a scrap with Johnny Boychuk. Word to the wise, Ryan: if you’re going to get into fights in the NHL, get a haircut. Sorry to say that he looked like a girl fighting, physically.

The surprise that night was Lars Eller, not only he scored but twice! He finally found his touch, the Great Dane scores! Then Brian Gionta notched one. It was strange that both the tall and small guys found their way into the net. Things were going great, the Habs were up by four goals and Carey Price looked like he was heading towards another shutout. There was no stopping the Habs, the win was ours until…well, you know what happened.

Pacioretty is still the topic of the town. The issue on head injuries was supposed to be the main focus Monday when NHL owners met to discuss the state of the game. I wondered what Coach Jacques Martin said to his players heading into the third period after the incident. Their teammate’s health must have been on their minds, keeping the win for Pacioretty was the option.

Milan Lucic scored the only Boston goal but The Canadiens got the win. As I sat there with my tall beer; the win didn’t seem to matter or where I watched it. The concern for someone sustaining that hit, and the way he lay there on the ice motionless was something I don’t think anyone could forget. It was a good time at the bar but that’s not a big concern right now.

The Canadiens organization has sent up a forum for fans to send messages to Max Pacioretty. Go to http://goha.bs/g9rDGt if you want to send your best.

Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty Tuesday night adds another player to the long list of players out of action to incidents (or “accidents”) that have become the norm in the NHL. Fans at the Bell Centre were in shock Tuesday night seeing the limp body of one of the Montreal Canadiens brightest and best scorers. The hit was so tragic some thought he looked as good as dead.

Pacioretty was lucky that it wasn’t worse than it seemed. He sustained a concussion and a cracked vertebrae. The team has no choice but to remain optimistic that he will recover and return to the game one day. However it is disappointing that the NHL once again had the opportunity to set an example about these kind of hits (there has been an increase in head trauma) and once again looked the other way. Chara, an award winning defenseman and not a repeat offender, didn’t get punished. No suspension or any discipline.

It’s hard to look at this objectively as the Montreal/Boston series had already had it share of fights and intensity. In a previous game, Pacioretty provoked Chara and it’s assumed that Chara was waiting for his moment to go after the Canadien. Was this that moment? Who knows. Chara said he didn’t mean to hit him that way and that Pacioretty was going too fast.   The league saw the hit as a “hockey play”. When do hockey hits almost cost someone a broken neck?

And it’s not the first time: Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke’s hit on Mark Savard resulted in a concussion but no suspension. New York Islander Trevor Gillies’ hit on Cal Clutterbuck after coming back from a suspension cost him another suspension. Even superstar Sidney Crosby has fallen victim and hasn’t played a game in months.

Yes NHL, you lost possibly the player in decades to “hockey play”. There goes your chance of increased revenue and promoting the sport on a larger scale. Way to f**king go. So, are you guys waiting until another player gets wheeled off in a stretcher to do something about head trauma? How about paralysis?

Minor hockey programs promote safer hockey methods and head and neck injury prevention to their young players but somehow the NHL hasn’t evolved to that level. They don’t have the guts to take action for the safety of their players. The NHL is too busy with glowing pucks, cheerleaders on the ice and expanding to cities that don’t even know what hockey is.

Accident or incident, The NHL keeps failing in their attempt at changing their rules when it comes to “hockey plays”. Chara gets to play another game while Pacioretty is on the road to recovery. The guy finally makes it to the NHL and it’s cut short by something that could have been preventable. It saddens me to see potential knocked out in seconds.

You can watch the footage over and over and try to figure out if there was the intent of hurting and realize that this fell on the same date as the Todd Bertuzzi incident. I don’t know if the NHL has done anything about head injuries. I ask myself if it’s worth watching the game of hockey if I have to see injuries like this constantly.

If you want to judge for yourself on the hit, warning it’s graphic:

 

Not the same as the original

There is nothing more Canadian than outdoor hockey. Most hockey players’ first hockey memory is on an outdoor rink. Skating around all day until cheeks turn red and the feeling in toes starts to fade is a Canadian tradition. The Heritage Classic had returned to Canada after much success in the United States with the New Year’s game, The Winter Classic. It was going to be a classic, the Montreal Canadiens playing in the heartland of Western Canada against the Calgary Flames. I opted to go to one of the classiest buildings to ever house the Habs: The Montreal Forum. This was home to some of the classiest players to play the game, and who were essential to creating the Montreal winning tradition.

However, this is a different era and these are not the same Habs or the same style of game. Actually, the Forum is now known as the Pepsi Forum. I entered the sports bar hoping to feel the nostalgia but felt cheapened by tacky decor, lack of audience and a lack of identity. The bar was also a bowling alley and a game room all rolled into one, great for a group night out in one area but I wasn’t feeling any hockey hype watching.

No Forum ghosts at this bar

The hockey hype was being felt at McMahon Stadium in Calgary. Thousands bracing harsh winds and freezing conditions (even the beer froze for the fans, but it didn’t matter). Both teams were enjoying the novelty of playing outside, even though this game was important. The Canadiens were on a West Coast road trip hoping to gain points to secure a playoff spot, Calgary were fighting for the last spot after a horrible start early in the season. I felt that for something special like the outdoor experience, it should have been held earlier in the season when points weren’t up for grabs.

In an outdoor game, the game changes a lot as the puck bounces in weird places and players fall often due to chippy ice. It makes trying to get those two important points even harder. For the Canadiens, it wasn’t going to get any easier since another long road trip plus losing a large core of defensemen to injury and a losing streak didn’t help the cause. It didn’t help my cause that as I sat in an empty bar, I found out the kitchen closed early on Sundays. Yes, the sports bar has the standard pub grub and a chicken wing special on game nights.

My only company for the game was a friend watching and working on a paper at the same time but in another city. We went back and forth on Facebook about how this game wasn’t great on all fronts. Carey Price was filling in the role of defense, taking many Flame shots while half the defense was healing. The latest victim on this road trip was James Wisniewski (warning: lots of blood). He did return in a face cage along with forward Mike Cammalleri but was no match for the Flames. They were on fire, Rene Bourque scored twice and ex-Hab Alex Tanguay scored once.

The Old Forum now

This was no Classic game for the Habs, it was a shutout and a cold slap-in-the-face and I’m not taking about the frigid wind. Not even Carey Price, hiding in a Jacques Plante-like mask is going to hold together a team game after game. Yes, at the rate the defense is going, I worry if this will be like the road trip I want to forget back in December. There were a few funny moments, though, like this guy during the Metric pre game show.

The Heritage Classic should have been hyped the same way the New Year’s Winter Classic should have been, if you watch the first minute of the Washington/Pittsburgh game, then you’ll want to watch outdoor hockey all the time but that game was a shell of what was great about an old fashioned game of outdoor hockey. The feeling was mutual for the Forum bar, a remnant of the original, but not living up to its hype.

Shout outs of the week: shout out to this past weekend’s Hockey Weekend Across America where USA hockey celebrated and promoted grass roots hockey in the US.

Also a shout out to the upcoming pond hockey tournament on Lac St Louis. Those of you curious about what the outdoor experience is like, the tournament will be happening February 26-27 in Lachine. Those who want to put together a team there’s still time. Information on where it is and how to enter is at www.montrealpondhockey.com. I promise you won’t freeze your ass off.

Photos by Cindy Lopez

If you’re new to Montreal Canadiens hockey, now is the right time to start watching. A good chunk of the season has past and each game until the last one will always be important. All points lead to a playoff spot and every single goal matters, quite exciting. A middle of the week game can be ordinary…except when the Habs are playing their longtime rival the Boston Bruins. To all fans, we all know it’s always a great battle. To anyone new, the one thing you should know: the Habs don’t like Boston and vice versa.

I wanted to go to a hockey hotspot so I returned to Ave Mont Royal and ended up at La Taverne Chez Normand (1550 Av. du Mont-Royal). I found some familiar acquaintances after members of my lineup bailed at the last minute (being sickish is not an excuse to miss a clash of great rivals, lame excuse). What wasn’t familiar was the interior of the bar. Formally Chez Normand, La Taverne got a recent makeover and now has a tavern look and a new menu. What stayed the same was the crowd, always enthusiastic and loud.

La Taverne gives you free shots when a player from your table scores and we had Jeff Halpern’s jersey number at ours. We were supposed to have the PK Subban table, but somehow with a little sweet talking we ended up getting shots anyway. La Taverne aligns their TVs to the center of the room on the ceiling, a little strange for hockey watching, however they do have a giant projection on their front window. Almost life size, feels like being at the game.

Fans were going crazy as beers kept coming. Boston had a two goal lead but were playing full-on contact. It was the fourth meeting between these tough teams and Montreal had taken all the wins. Boston wanted this win and wanted to extend their lead in the standings. The Habs were not too far behind in points, they could leapfrog over the Bruins and take 3rd place from them (we are currently 6th in the East). To the newbies following this: we really hate Boston and we needed this win.

The Habs came back scoring and each time we scored the bar would be blaring James Brown’s “get up offa that thing” in celebration. That song became constant in the 2nd period, Brian Gionta scored his 200th career goal while rookie Yannick Weber notched his   first. It was a battle of goals, each time Boston scores Montreal would score also and vice versa. This game was originally supposed to be a goalie battle as both Carey Price and Tim Thomas have been solid for their teams, but not this time.

Then it got fierce, constant pushing and shoving. It all started when Bruin Milan Lucic went after PK Subban. Then as goals were coming at constant and free shots were being served, tempers flared. Years of sheer hate and the last three Hab wins caused an explosion that triggered on a icing call. For those who are new to this, in short: a fight broke out. Then another, and another and another.

The crowd at La Taverne were screaming and cheering as fists were flying and the penalty box was full to capacity. I’ve never seen anything like this before, also from a woman’s perspective I’ve never seen so many good looking guys at the bar.

There may have not been a goalie battle, instead there was a goalie fight. Holy crap, I knew Price had it in him. Actually, it was more like a goalie waltz but still, there were punches. Then more goals, unfortunately they were Boston’s. Most of them coming from constant pest Lucic and former Hab Michael Ryder, now on my hate list.

Towards the end, the Habs never gave up. Pacioretty, sore ribs and all, would notch a couple. A guy is dancing back and forth and high fiving everyone. This is the kind of thing one would see during playoffs, not usually in a middle of the week game.

Boston may have gotten the win, but man are they great sh*tdisturbers. The Habs Travis Moen had been busy with his fists all night, so had everyone else. Well, except usual underachievers Gomez, Kostitsyn and Eller. Not cool at all.

Also not cool was Gregory Campbell wailing on Tom Pyatt, but when it’s that time of year where every game matters, the team will do whatever it takes to get points and make the playoffs. Even if it gets bloody. There were a ton of penalties in the battle in beantown however I did have ton of fun with the best fans at La Taverne. Those of you new to Canadiens hockey; do check this place out.

Ah, Sundays in Montreal. Normally a day of recovery from the night before. Sunday’s a great day to get up late, go out for all day breakfast and chill on what is seen as a rest day, unless you’re the Montreal Canadiens. Sunday was the 2nd of back to back games… in the afternoon. Not my favorite time to watch hockey, too early to drink or even think straight. However this was a tradition for this particular Sunday as the Habs always play an afternoon game before the SuperBowl game.

There is a positive to afternoon games, kids get to watch their favorite team at a reasonable time. I was around the Bell Centre earlier in search of my next viewing venue and was in awe of the many kids who were lucky enough to be there to watch Montreal against the New Jersey Devils. Let’s see if the kids could bring some luck to the Habs, who were on a 3 game winning streak.

I had the energy of an excited child so I wanted to have a fun Sunday. I called a friend who was hungover and tired and opted for an adventure on Mont Royal Ave. Mont Royal is apparently a hot spot on Sundays. Couples and large groups are out for brunch and invading cafes. There had to be a hockey game to going on.

I started at Les Folies (701, avenue Du Mont-Royal Est), a resto/lounge known for their brunches and burgers, we made it in time for the start of the 1st period. We dined on juicy burgers while New Jersey filled up on a two goal lead early in the game. Les Folies had a retro feel with a modern tone, very chic for our meal but maybe too chic for hockey. I do recommend their burgers (I had the Mexican, my friend, the Gourmand which was a bacon cheeseburger with mushrooms). Take note PK Subban: good burgers on Mont Royal! I just wouldn’t recommend it on game day. Those of you lost in the recurring burger reference, it goes back to this Gazette article.

The Mexican burger, one of many great burgers

The Habs were once again playing another back to back and were hoping to get the same results they had the day before; a shutout against the New York Rangers. Somehow for a team who is nowhere near playoff contention, the Devils always give the Habs trouble. Especially when Martin Brodeur is in nets. Carey Price may be many shutouts away from the legendary goalie but Brodeur always plays his best in his hometown. Well, that is until he bruised his knee, and couldn’t finish the game.

We finished our meal and went to Chez Baptiste (1045, avenue Du Mont-Royal Est) a neighborhood bar known for a better hockey vibe. Even in the afternoon there was a great crowd, making this a day of sports as the Super Bowl comes after the hockey game. Chez Baptiste is one of many popular hockey hot spots on Mont Royal. My friend may have been hungover but won’t say no to cheap pitchers of beer. Chez Baptiste has drink specials before 9pm every day of the week, but all day on Sunday. Perfect for any game night. I was excited for this place, also the minute I walked into the door PK Subban scored!

However that was the only goal for the Habs. The Devils are always trouble even without their future Hall of Fame goaltender. It wasn’t our best game but it was indeed a Super Sunday afternoon on Mont Royal.

Shout outs of the week: Goalie fights, they are rare but it’s fun to watch overly padded guys taking a swipe at each other. It would have been fun for the Sunday game too, Brodeur is big and asshole like, and Price always looks mad and ready to rumble.

Shout out to the City of Westmount for having many outdoor rinks this year, the indoor arena is always been there but it’s been great for outdoor rinks this winter, glad that they are part of the great Montreal tradition.

Share your opinions on the Habs! Leave a comment below.

I decided to walk through Westmount in search of a place to watch the game. I strolled through Westmount Park as a light snow dusted the trees and park benches. I found a freshly cleaned outdoor rink, a beautiful ice surface. It looked like a frozen lake, something that can be found in a Winter wonderland.

I wonder why it’s hard to watch a hockey game in this neck of the woods. Westmount does not have a bar scene or anywhere remotely great for hockey watching. Luckily I decided to go towards the border  to NDG. Right before the border, before  it becomes dive like and seedy. I entered Next Door pub and grill (5175A Sherbrooke West), a neighborhood bar where I seemed to be the only unfamiliar face in the bar.

Next Door, like the game after the 1st period, didn’t look promising as it was myself and some guy eating a burger watching Washington take a 2-0 lead. My thoughts from the Philly game were becoming a reality. The Canadiens are not at an elite enought level to beat the Capitals. The Capitals are strong offensively and defensively and it’s looking like another blowout… or so we thought.

Next Door is quite the tiny bar but also quite cosy, wood panels and familiar faces. A new addition to the bar was an old school Nintendo game and a copy of the 1988 classic, Ice Hockey (it’s so old Russia was still the Soviet Union). I was more entertained by the two guys playing this ancient hockey game than by the actual game itself. From a glance I did managed to watch Gionta’s top shelf goal and went back to the TV.

I also befriended a couple who saw me by myself and exchanged dialogue in the language of hockey, I gave them the idea of using Coach Bruce Boudreau’s constant f-bombs from HBO 24/7 Penguins Capitals as a drinking game (a note to lightweights: he swears a lot so be careful). It was weird when he was being interviewed, waiting for him to cuss like a sailor.

Minutes later we all cheered as Gionta scored a deja-vu goal (almost from the exact same angle). My heart was racing as the game was now tied and Montreal had a chance to take the game to a new level. My stomach was also getting riled up so it’s time to see what Next Door has to offer. Mainly a small selection of snack like pub delicacies, Next Door is known for their burgers and  recommend trying  their Jameson Burger (the sauce they put on their burgers has a touch of Jameson Whiskey). It sure hit the spot as the 3rd ended and overtime loomed.

PK Subban would enjoy a burger like this but he was busy being a pest to Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin was already frustrated in this game: no goals or shots on net. Deja-vu like last spring’s playoff run. PK adds another to the enemy list. By the way, he made Ovechkin bleed too. Carey Price didn’t do him any justice as he stopped him cold in the shootout. Price was on fire all night, not bad for a guy who’s goalie equipment was ice cold that morning as it was left outside the night before.

Next Door during shootout time started to get a good crowd, my newly aquired bar mates and I hoped the shootout went the Habs way. Captain Gionta scores another! We were trying to figure out if shoot out goals count for a “hat trick”. F**k that, Canadiens win!

Strange thing about the Habs is they sometimes look like a team missing the whole package but can beat the elite. Walking into the bar that looked lifeless ended up pretty lively. I find Next Door quaint and friendly. A good night overall, this is what happens when you walk into a Winter Wonderland.

Photos by Cindy Lopez

The Canadiens had one more game before going into the All Star break, it happened to be against the Philadelphia Flyers. It was also the lasting meeting against the #1 team in the NHL and they have been our #1 nightmare. This game was going to be tension and trash. A good opportunity for me to find a good bar for this exciting match up and I had one place in mind, Resto-Bar Laurier.

The bar on Laurier with nothing but a giant Brasserie sign outside had been a mystery to me for quite some time. When my old hockey buddy and I grabbed a beer there last Summer, we thought “this could be great place to watch hockey games.” He was unable to make it on this evening, (like every game so far this season) he has become a rent a player in my lineup.

The Habs, like whoever I watch games with, lack a certain consistency. Mainly because of key injuries but what’s my excuse? No excuses here. I walking into the bar to see the bar in full hockey mode.

I did find out this bar actually had a name (there was a neon sign over the bar), mystery solved. Resto-bar Laurier was a giant hall, it smelled of cheap beer and I expected loud cheers with everyone glued to the nearest TV. There was a good crowd for a Tuesday, and I liked that it was a mixed bunch of fans; from university kids to hipsters, even old men who remembered a time when the Habs would easily beat the Flyers. And all were having a good time despite the score.

We may have been losing the game but it wasn’t killing the vibe of the bar. This was an old style brasserie, kind of rare to find in this neck of the city. Beer was definitely cheap, $5.25 for tall beers (either Tremblay or Belle Guelle), pitchers were cheap too especially on game nights. If you’re hungry you can run across the street to Chez Claudette’s for poutine and other fast food goodies, the bar won’t mind. I however indulged on free popcorn and watched Philly destroy the confidence of the Canadiens.

We do have a decent team but the problem is this: we’re at a level where we can make the playoffs consistently but we’re not one of the elite NHL teams that can challenge for the Cup. We’re a small, hardworking bunch but if we can’t compete at an elite level (bigger, faster and harder hitting) then we don’t stand a chance. I get frustrated liking this team sometimes, so was the waiter in the Habs jersey that kept serving tall beers.

Already the kids are alright, PK Subban has already garnered a reputation against Philly, loud boos whenever he touched the puck. Pacioretty still playing hurt, David Desharais making the best of his time in the big show. It was pointed out that Desharais is quite small, the same height as Gionta. I’m taller than these guys when I wear heels.

Yes, we’re small and playing hurt. Each guy taking turns being the hero. However as goals mounted against us, the Flyers showed that they are the full package. They are the best in the league right now, playing rough and dirty hockey. They are looking more and more like a Cup favorite this year.

I did like this bar despite the score, it may have been one of my favorite bars I’ve been to all season. Let’s see what the second half holds, game wise and bar wise.

As for the all star break, it was useful for healing nagging injuries and clearing heads. For Carey Price, selected as an All Star, he played respectably, even though he has played the most games of any goalie this season and is probably wishing for a break, eventually. He had good company with him as PK was a last minute addition and left quite an impression in Carolina.

Shout outs of the week: How they changed the all star lineup. It was a step up but here’s a suggestion: NHL All Stars VS the entire Staal family. There are four Staal brothers playing, most of them were in Carolina. I think playing the entire clan would be awesome.

Photos by Chris Zacchia & Cindy Lopez

It was the coldest Saturday night this season but there was no stopping me from checking out this game. Those of you thinking, it’s the Ducks for f**ks sake. It was a special and rare meeting of these two squads as well as the return of Saku Koivu: our former captain and a shining example of what it’s like to play with heart.

Koivu was the 2nd longest serving captain and the epitome of courage. His legacy may be questioned because he led a team that never produced a Stanley Cup but we will never forget his brave fight against cancer and return to the sport. He showed nothing but heart, bravery and leadership.

For this match up I ended up in the heart of downtown, on Peel St. I headed to McLean’s Pub (1210 Peel) as anywhere near the Bell Centre would equal loyal fans. I got there early and the place was packed full of Bleu Blanc et Rouge. I remembered this was primo pre-drinks location before the Bell Centre crowd headed to honor their old captain VS his old team.

McLean’s is tavern-like in atmosphere yet contains as many TV’s as a sports bar. No problems watching the game no matter where I sat. They’re known for serving Alexander Keith’s beer and featuring a large dinning menu but on hockey nights they have a special hockey menu where the food is named after players. Most recommended was the Rocket Richard (a bacon cheeseburger with fries). I ended up with the Scott Gomez (nachos with chili, spiciest nachos I’ve had this season). I found it ironic that the Andrei Markov ‘s plate was a ‘healthy chicken’ plate.

My recommendation would be renaming the PK Subban plate, (currently a rib steak) to some sort of burger dish. The Gazette recently revealed his love of burgers. I think the honor of ribs should be bestowed onto Max Pacioretty. For someone who hurt his ribs, he’s playing incredible.

The Habs just concluded a series of back to back games, a comeback in Calgary followed by the bruising in Buffalo (we lost two guys in 30 seconds, Cammalleri is still out). Then the outrageousness in Ottawa (7-1 in our favour), concluding with our OT loss to Anaheim.

So, how did Saku Koivu’s homecoming go? The fans at the Bell Centre and the organization gave him a standing ovation and cheers of thanks when the footage of his cancer comeback was on the scoreboard. The crowd at McLean’s did the same thing.

Even though the night was about Saku’s return, he wasn’t the only Finn on the ice that night. Teemu Selanne has two assists and at 39 years old, is playing some of his best hockey. Also returning was Max Lapierre who was traded towards the end of the Road trip from Hell last month. He may be getting more ice time but now we’re cheering for another Max: Pacioretty tied the game. Someone order a plate of ribs!

So how did Koivu’s homecoming go? He spent a considerable amount of time in the penalty box on this evening but his legacy is still present amongst the young players. Players like Subban play with similar heart, Darche with similar determination (who cut the lead with his 8th goal). The last minute of the 3rd period was vintage Koivu as he was the reason the Habs came back to tie it with seconds left.

He took a tripping penalty and the Habs had the extra guy on the ice. It was hussle and heart, the Habs didn’t want to quit. Then Pacioretty scored with seconds to go.

Take note, Pacioretty is playing in pain, he can barely breathe yet has been solid these last few games. McLean’s pub roars. Overtime then a shootout. Unfortunately Bobby Ryan scored the winner but the Habs still get a point. Take it or leave it.

Another ovation for Saku, named the game’s 2nd star. Another giant thank you from the fans. The game and my night at McLean’s was a great time. Even though the Habs lost in the shootout and it was freezing outside, everything else was nothing but heart.

Shoutouts of the week: to the guy carrying 2 cases of beer and a hockey stick. The epitome of a true Montrealer. Also, shout out to James McKinney, his site patinermontreal.ca provides data on the conditions and locations of outdoor rinks in Montreal. Very useful the next time you wanna strap on the blades to play a game of pickup hockey.

It was a weekend of typical winter activities. I hit up an outdoor rink after my shift ended; I hadn’t been on skates in years. In seasons past each time I would pass by an outdoor rink I would say “I’ll try to this winter.” Well, I finally did, and the ice was smooth, my skating crisp. It was merely the practice pond at Jeanne Meance park, but next to me was a game of pick up hockey.

There were about 20 of them, all ages, taking turns playing shifts in possibly the longest game of the day. Stickwork chippy, rosy cheeks and second wind. Even a few girls joined into what used to be an “only boy’s” game; hockey has now become everyone’s game.

There was a boy in a Canadiens jersey, it was once a #11 Koivu jersey but the boy took a felt tip marker and turned it into a #21, Gionta jersey. I figure everyone on that rink and all rinks around Montreal pretend to be Gionta, Markov, or even Carey Price.

At another rink, there was a little kid in a Price shirt, if this were last season I figure he would have been begging for a Halak jersey. No, everyone wears whoever is in the lineup (or have converted an old shirt into new). Win or lose, Montreal is still following the Habs.

We were surprised with the first half of the season. Merely a couple points between Montreal and our main rivals the Boston Bruins, which can either give the Habs home ice or a meeting with one of the teams we caused havoc to last playoff run. Of note, Carolina could be the spoiler if we don’t keep up the pace.

Again inconsistency has been the killer. Some nights we just have the drive to win such as the the comeback VS Boston and the New York Rangers earlier this week. But then there was the rematch against Pittsburgh. What looked like a promising start ended in four power play goals by the Penguins and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury striking a pose back at Carey Price.

So which Montreal Canadiens team will show up next? The one that will do whatever it takes to win or a team that completely collapses. The team is young and inexperienced, I’m learning new names each game and trying to figure out if they have what it takes between now and when the snow melts.

Photo by (Pierre Obendrauf / THE GAZETTE)It’s up to the kids to pick up the slack, for rookies and unknowns to become heroes.

PK Subban, Yannick Weber, Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais. They furthered their development in Hamilton but now in the spotlight it’s time to overcome that learning curve.

The defense has big shoes to fill, with Markov and Gorges out for a indefinite amount of time. PK and Weber have no choice but to develop now. These guys have talent and can add depth, even PK who had to deal with the benching backlash is looking better every game. The kid still has a good attitude but now has garnered a reputation amongst NHL pests. Trash talk means they fear what he may do when he gets his full footing in the NHL.

Scary what the blue line can become, luckily Wisniewski has been a great addition to the group, less pressure for the kids and inspiration for the veterans.

Scoring has been a concern, Cammalleri has been flu ridden as of late. Normally one of the few Habs consistently scoring, the Habs can’t wait for him to recover. Kostitsyn has been on a scoring drought and I’m slowly losing hope in Eller. The kid is trying but also keeps taking needless penalties. Could we add more confidence to his balanced diet?

There has been a different guy each night playing hero, my gut says Pacioretty will be someone to look for in the second half. He did lead in Hamilton, he will eventually do it for the Habs (maybe after he gets over the flu).

I remembered watching the world junior championships. Team Canada would pick their best and it would take a week for them to put together a contender. We’re halfway into the season and we’ve only seen glimpses of either potential or pure sh*t.

The Canadiens have several members of former Canadian world junior’s teams, I figure they know what it’s like to play under this kind of pressure. Carey Price has been doing this for a long time, he has full right to strike a pose.

I thought about that pickup game, how each player would do something in a short time but it would help the game. It’s exactly how Montreal has been playing. There have been mistakes but luckily, when we were good in October and November   the points we picked up have given us some breathing room. But maybe this is what Montreal is meant to play like. To play “crazy, fast pace, do whatever we can to get the win” kind of hockey.

To pretend to play like the legends and the superstars of their past. To pass the puck and cause a scrap. To do whatever it takes and have a good time doing it.

It’s scary to watch half the time but you know what, I’m still watching.

Photos by (Pierre Obendrauf / THE GAZETTE)

The Canadiens have now reached the halfway point of the season after a bumpy December (we must never speak of the road trip ever again). Not exactly what the Habs were hoping for. However this season has been nothing but surprises. Some good, some bad. Either way, the goal still stands: to make the playoffs.

Even in January we’re thinking what may happen come April. But good news, the schedule isn’t as hectic as that road trip. The Habs did come home a little lighter: Max Lapierre got traded to the Ducks. We will see him again along with ex captain Saku Koivu when the Ducks play later this month.

In town were the Pittsburgh Penguins, fresh off the Winter Classic this past New Year’s Day. They were also the focus of a HBO series building up the outdoor game documenting the behind the scenes of the team and the Washington Capitals for the last month (HBO 24/7 Penguins Capitals). Hockey fans and anyone new to the sport, I recommend watching as they give a detailed exciting look at the sport.

The star attraction, Sidney Crosby, was unable to play tonight due to a concussion from the Winter Classic, however he did play a couple games like this (such a trooper). One less thing to worry about, right? Pittsburgh has been a complete team even when star players have been out (Malkin and Staal are healthy again). Montreal just found out that defenseman Josh Gorges is gone for the rest of the season in Markov-like fashion. So, do we hit the panic button yet?

First things first, lets find a place to watch the game. After much search we opted for Cine Express (1296 Ste Catherine Ouest). To anyone who went to Dawson College, it was a familiar hangout to grab food and coffee before making an attempt at the Cock N Bull. They have undergone some major changes, I barely recognize the place. Kind of similar to the Habs lineup, with injuries stacking, we’re getting to know players we called up from Hamilton a lot better.

Cine’s menu got a major revamp and has more food selection, I opted for extremely cheesy nachos, very cheesy indeed. the best part was that they replaced the decor with comfy chairs and couch-like booths and a TV in each section. Cine is competing for a hockey crowd against the various bars in the area. The one thing I could say that Cine Express is more for fans that would like to chill and relax watching rather than the usual bar atmosphere.

Meanwhile, I was trying to relax watching the Habs. After the road trip, a depleted power play and losing their top two defenseman, it was going to take more than beer to convince me that we’re going to be alright.

Then Spacek crashed into the Penguins net. Does this mean that PK Subban will be playing forty minutes of hockey? After the defense drama, looks like there will be a place for PK and Yannick Weber after all. However, these rookies will   have to turn into skillful defenseman in a short time with lots of ice time.

I wish I could say that for our scoring. Kostitsyn had been missing the net as of late. Plekanec had been playing more defensive-like (such as the hit on Malkin where it looked like Geno was going to do the splits). Yes! Benoit Poulliot finally broke out of a scoreless drought to tie up the game, it wasn’t pretty but I’ll take it.

The Penguins without Crosby have been playing tight, then again I got to know their style of game while watching 24/7, even developed a little crush on coach Dan Bylsma. I know it’s weird, however this is what coaches should be like; better player rapore (he’s an ex-NHLer), smart about the game and good spirited. Sheer confidence.

And looks like Carey Price is starting to feel confident again holding the team together, as the game (and several pitchers) lead to overtime then surprisingly enough, the Habs first shootout of the season.

I knew the usual suspects would take the shot, Gionta and Cammalleri. Was surprised about PK taking the shot (in time PK, in time). Kostitsyn was a mistake (he’s at almost there, hopefully when he gets one in it’ll all come naturally). Surprised that Poulliot and not Plekanec was next, however confidence was on his side with one goal.

And boy the second one did matter, some say it was Forsberg-like, some say it looked like something out of practice. It mattered and Price’s save along with the pose he made right after gave the Canadiens much needed confidence and the win. It had been a while since I saw the triple low five from PK. It also had been a while since I cheered so loudly for the Habs.

Hard to say what can happen next with the Habs, they do love the element of surprise. Surprised that it had been years since I had a good time at Cine Express also. We don’t have all stars like Pittsburgh, however each player will now have to play like one in order to stay in contention.

When we can stroll after a win!

I wish this road trip would end now, it’s getting painful.

I returned to an annual tradition for the game against the Capitals, my lineup of ladies each holiday would meet up at Ye Olde Orchard downtown (1189, Rue de la Montagne) for the rematch. With the notion that the Washington Capitals had been waiting since the Habs eliminated them last April, and with them refining their winning ways, the Capitals were ready to take us on. Add to this that unfortunately the Habs are back to being merely ordinary, and…

Washington got their revenge all right, Coach Boudreau dropping F-bombs left and right to remind his team that Montreal can be beat. Ovechkin slamming Subban into the boards, Mike Green catching the defense down and all lines unable to deliver when it looked like there was a chance in the 3rd.

A normally noisy crowd at Ye Olde was quiet as we were shut out 3-0. At least I still had my ladies, one them whose boyfriend was able to eat two plates of fries. The only highlight of the night.

Yes, he ate all those fries.

The Canadiens in December remind me of the Habs towards the end of last season; around the time this blog first began. There is potential but it is in someway lacking, either in size, special teams or spirit. However, when adversity hits, these guys are up to the challenge as we saw in the playoffs last season.

Going back to the skid, the worst game was on Long Island, once again as Carey Price showed his frustration as the defense fails him. I love Josh Gorges spirit however playing banged up isn’t doing much for the defense. While waiting in that snow-filled airport for hours, General Manager Pierre Gauthier ended up making a deal.

James Wisniewski (this will take time to learn to spell) will help fill in the gap left by the injured Markov, and he was a steal of a deal. We sacrificed a couple draft picks, best boxing week deal ever. Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for either Weber, PK or even Picard. The kiddies will either be press box bound or back to Hamilton.

Wisniewski is also stranded at that same airport. Man, I hate Long Island.

By the time they landed in Washington, we fell to 8th and back to fighting for a playoff spot. Hoping that the Habs spirits will rise, beat the crap out of the Florida based teams and start 2011 back in the safe confines of the Bell Centre (except for the crazy fans and the media).

I started this blog during the Olympics writing about the men’s hockey team and for a good week, I sat in seedy bars with a hardcore fan I worked with, while screaming into his left ear. I felt spoiled watching the best hockey in years and was able to party on Ste Catherine St. when Sidney Crosby saved the nation with his Golden Goal.

I thought when we returned to watching Montreal Canadiens hockey, it wouldn’t be the same. The Habs were fighting for a bottom spot come playoffs and were having a hard time getting the one point to clinch.

We dealt with the goalie wars, Halak VS Price, both with great potential to be a #1 goalie however there would be an odd man out. Halak was the hero for the season and would be a legend during playoffs, Price would make a name for himself as he was chosen to stay in Montreal and redeem himself in a way I knew was possible.

I returned to blog form during playoffs, assuming I would be writing only 4 entries as it looked near impossible to beat #1 Washington. 19 entries later, we were giant killers twice over. Ovechkin was gone, so was Golden boy Crosby.

I can't believe this was possible!

Each game the city flooded onto St. Catherine’s in jubilation, in great spirits I’ve never seen before. Unfortunately it did stop when Philadelphia got us beat. They’ve been our great nemesis this season. However, memories of spring still warms my heart during cold days in December.

We had a good start, Gionta became our Captain, Cammalleri our go to guy being the first to score. Kostitsyn and Plekanec back on scoring pace. PK Subban, Yannick Weber the future of the team. Hell, the team was stellar even when Andrei Markov got hurt again.

I hope this team will turn around soon, I was actually believing that we had a good shot at being annual contenders. Thanks for letting the girl who yells at TV in bars have her say in Montreal’s hockey scene. And now, what Sucks/Shout Outs in 2010.

Sucks: seedy bars by yourself, head injuries, Markov’s hard play hurting himself, Sergei Kostitsyn, ruining a player’s confidence, big long term contracts, lack of attendance in the States, Phildephia Flyers, Sidney Crosby’s mustache (hipsters grow better ones), goalie drama, dismantling teams cause you can’t afford them (Chicago), questioning women’s hockey’s role as it’s been Canada/US, and I still don’t get Canucks hockey.

Shout Outs: Partying on St. Catherine’s in Spring, Canada’s Olympic spirit, Halak’s heroics/Price redemption, the Habs in Movember, Women’s hockey in the Hall of Fame, that crazy guy on Facebook defending Price, Quebec and Winnipeg fans pleading for teams in Canada, Lars Eller’s size, Andrei Kostitsyn, good waitresses, cheap pints, crazy people I’ve watched games with, triple low fives with PK Subban, Captain Gionta, and to my friend I watched Olympic hockey with; thanks for the week, hope one day you can console the Women’s Slovakian hockey team.

Have an awesome New Year and Check out the Winter Classic This photo still is my phone screen saverPenguins/Capitals outdoor game after you sober up New Year’s Day.

The holidays can bring out the good in most of us, or sometimes the bad. As of late, the Canadiens have been playing some ugly hockey. First there was the beating in Philly, followed by a playoff style win against Boston which gave us hope for the 7 game road trip we were about to embark on.

However, two games in it hasn’t been good or bad. Just plain ugly.

The eye infection from the last entry has cleared up and these eyes have now seen a Cammalleri fight, a brilliant PK hit, and Gionta bringing the spirit of the season with his leadership and his production. And of course, our cowboy goalie Carey Price playing solid. Well, that is until we hit the road.

My trek to the bar wasn’t too far, unlike the Habs who were playing Dallas in the 2nd and final part of the Western portion of the road trip. I originally wanted to go to Spurs, a cowboy bar in the west neck of the city. But due to lack of interest and safety concerns, I trekked over to Bar Helm Brasseur (273, Rue Bernard Ouest) which happens to be across the street from bar Romolo (a bar I reviewed earlier this season). Let’s see what Helm has in store for the hockey crowd.

At first I saw only a small TV over an island style bar and was thinking: is this all they have to offer in hockey watching? But my mind was changed when I saw the back room, and yes! Big screen TV.

The crowd mainly consisted of what happens when hipsters grow up, they become another brand of cool: the employable kind. I was with a friend who had been working knee deep in holiday retail; food and drinks were very much required. Helm is a micro-brewery which adds a twist its simple pub food.  It was the  best bacon cheeseburger with homemade chips ever! I would also recommend giving the chicken wings in a Jack Daniels BBQ sauce a go. And for the Saturday night crowd, the kitchen is open late until 1am.

As of late the Habs have been out-shooting their opponents but making errors, it was an ugly loss against Colorado and there was no need to make fun of Ryan O’Byrne. (He was on the winning side for Colorado). I was hoping that Dallas would be the turnaround, but… The Western conference style of hockey is always harder to beat it seems (note: West teams have won more Stanley Cups than the East).

Price let in a questionable goal on Adam Burish and started losing his cool. Our calm cool cowboy is slowly showing signs that he’s losing patience when things aren’t going his way. It was another example of the learning curve for PK, the rookie got into a scrap with Brandon Segal and well… the kid has a lot to learn about using his fists.

The Cammalleri 1st goal streak had ended, not a good sign. Also not a good sign is Andrei Kostitsyn being a healthy scratch, he was on good pace but is in a mist of a slump. I sense if this keeps up I may have to recycle the jokes I used to make about his brother Sergei.

When Darche and Gionta scored, myself and half the bar got excited. This could be our holiday miracle. Nope. The assists from ex-Hab  Stephane Robidas  and a goal by Mike Richards didn’t do the team any justice. This game was a suck and a half. Not our best outing. Our penalty killing pissed off assistant coach (and awesome ex Hab) Kirk Muller who’s normally an easygoing guy. Not this week.

I’m getting pissed myself, the long road trip determines the direction of the team  for the rest of  the season and so far it’s not a good sign. However in the mist of some solid Price saves, we managed to sway the guy who was waiting for Price to suck to actually like the cowboy goalie.

However it’s going to take more than good beer, good burgers and a  goalie  who has to save the  game  to keep me watching this painful road trip.

As this is holiday time it’s time for best wishes from the Hockey Blog. In time of team spirit and giving thanks, take the time to enjoy snowy walks in the park, to take in good company (whether if it’s friends or family).

Do share your beer to all, sharpen those skates and hit an outdoor rink for a hockey game (or watch one from the boards). It’s the best experience to see rosy cheeks and chippy stick work. For some amazing hockey, check out the World Junior hockey tournament and see Habs prospect Louis Leblanc and the rest of the kids try to win gold in Buffalo. Other than that, eat, drink, be merry and cheer for your team good times or bad. Support is the best gift of them all.

Happy holidays from Cindy’s Hockey Blog!

Going solo at the bar

Yes, the title does tie in to what happened to my eye. I didn’t get into a bar fight but I figure a punch would be less painful. Not as painful as the back to back losses the Canadiens sustained over the weekend.

We had a win streak. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and then sometimes you’re bound to stink it up in Leafs Nation.

I was going to watch the game with someone I used to watch games with, but got the text that he had other plans, again. Basically I can relate to what Montreal and currently Ottawa is dealing with: I have a Kovalev of my own. I’ve had rain checks from this guy for over the last two seasons and like Montreal, enjoyed the presence he has when he feels like showing up.

I decided not to text back, I don’t feel like playing another cat and mouse game. This is how I deal with my own Kovalev, not going to bother and not going to let him ruin my game.

Back to back games can be tiresome, I watched Detroit from my house but trekked to a bar I was curious about for the Leafs match-up: Brasserie Cherrier (3637 St Denis). I went solo to this semi-seedy bar on a Saturday night. I hoped for giant crowds, lots of beer and Leafs hatred. Instead, it was 10 guys at the bar and emptiness.

Where is everyone, it’s Saturday night hockey?

Brasserie Cherrier was indeed a dive, there was a guy playing a street game at one of the tables, the one where you try to find the ball under three cups. He placed 60 dollars at the bar for the first game. The bartender told him to drink his beer and leave.

But, it is good for game watching, there were flat screens at each corner and they carried the channel to see the game in 3D however who here in a seedy bar carries 3D glasses? I figure after a few beers I might be seeing 3D anyway.

But what I was seeing on the screen was not the same Habs from last week. PK was back but playing it safe. Has he conformed his game? Not a good sign. Will I start seeing pictures of him partying on Facebook? That’s how Carey Price ended up in decline. Price did good against the high shooting Red Wings but deserved to rest, it was Alex Auld’s turn against his former team.

There was a lot of player movement before the game, David Desharnais got the call to replace Gomez but detoured when they decided to move Weber to wing. Weber was back on the D when Jaroslav Spacek got caught in a fight that went wrong.

Now we can have both Weber and PK, problem solved. Sucks for Spacek. They called up Max Pacioretty, he’s been the scoring leader in Hamilton, please don’t kill his confidence.

Other things that sucked in the Leafs game, they have to have a ceremony for anything. Leafs Nation is milking as much legacy as they can get. Things aren’t going as planned, at this rate we’ll never see Dion Phaneuf smile.

I wasn’t smiling at the bar either, it’s hard doing sketch bars by one’s lonesome. It sucks to see Phil Kessel have a good game when the day before the team was vying for 1st overall against the West’s best in Hockeytown (otherwise known as Detroit).

No guys hitting on me here, a good sign. They were busy drinking their tall bottles and swearing in French. Tall beers are the popular thing in sketch bars, a Molson M goes for 6 dollars. I stuck to a pint and cheered one time when Mike Cammalleri scored.

Brasserie Cherrier

And with that, something flew into my eye. By the end of the night, I was wondering if I hit myself. Nope, it was a eye infection. Told you it was a painful loss. The bar has potential for last minute hockey watching needs however make sure you bring a crowd. Alone in the bar is what they’re accustomed to.

The blog and the Habs are going to be on weird schedules for the next few weeks with Christmas and New Years around the corner. The Habs have another back to back game and then a 7 game road trip and we will be in holiday mode (expect a post a week). We can’t cover all the games but will still follow and find weird bars.

Shout Outs of the week: Shout out to the thousands of Nordiques fans on Long Island stating that Quebec deserves a franchise again by going to see a game against 2 struggling franchises. Don’t see any Jet fans doing that…yet.

We wanted Kostitsyn to score!

As snow kept piling onto the city, I knew that even in this bad weather I was going to watch the game VS the Senators. A friend of mine who hasn’t gone out in a while and was trying to finish a paper felt the same way too. We needed a game and an escape from the storm.

Downtown was the easiest way to beat the snow so we hit up an Irish pub, Mckibbins Irish Pub (1426 Bishop st). They also have locations on the West Island and St. Laurent Blvd but nothing beats the original.

Packed for a Tuesday night, my friend got there early to grab a prime spot. Note to any one watching games downtown always get there early. And why not, the Canadiens have been on a winning streak and are ready for revenge against Ottawa. We were humiliated in the last meeting.

Once again no PK, I know a lot of you are thinking that this has to be some sick punishment. But think about it, Subban is a rookie that skyrocketed into super-stardom but he’s still a kid so maybe he should learn a few lessons. We’d prefer him not learning the hard way like Carey Price (remember last season?).We don’t want history to repeat. Check out Elliotte Friedman’s Price Theory.

Enough about theories, it’s game on! Mckibbin’s was originally a century stone mansion that was converted into an Irish pub. My friend and I have had a couple outings here and have never been disappointed. The food is filling pub grub but good. I recommend the homemade fries and the 1/2 pound burger (yes, I can finish one of those) and yes, they have an optional veggie or Bison burger.

And to add to the fun they do something special during the hockey nights, the waitress comes around the table with little Canadiens jerseys on stands and gives us a choice on who we think would score in the game that night. If that player scores the table gets free shots.

We wanted Brian Gionta as he’s been consistent as of late but we weren’t early enough. My gut said Kostitsyn, the same gut that feasted on a 1/2 pound burger.

Halfway into 1/2 pound burger, I finished it!

He was close on a few occasions, then again, so was everyone. Almost everyone registered a shot on net on the Senators. Daniel Alfredsson has been quiet on score sheet as of late and I see that Alex Kovalev pulled another disappearing act. That’s the Kovy I was familiar with back in his Montreal days.

A table in the corner got first crack on shots, Cammalleri scores. Come on Kostitsyn. I think I was distracted by the prospect of shots rather than the Canadiens out-shooting the Sens.

While Ottawa tied the game, we ran into familiar faces. Our waitress Tracy used to go to school with my friend and a shout out to Nina who I usually see in Fringe shows, she was there for the game after her shift. McKibbins is one of those pubs filled with familiar faces and conveniently in the heart of downtown. And yes, good hockey crowd.

We cheered loud when Halpern’s table got a helping in the 3rd. And again later on, as I heard a shriek from the women who robbed us of Gionta shots. Damnit!!!

Nice try, they thought the next goal was another Gionta, this time it’s Hamrlik shots.

It was a great effort, the defense didn’t fail Price. Weber, again solid. Don’t worry everyone, PK will come back soon. We don’t know when, but soon. Not sure about Scott Gomez, they’re saying lower body injury.

Another win, no free shots but lots of snow. It was a fun outing with a good friend, feeling warm inside as the snow keeping hitting. A great meal, good company and a Habs win: what more can a girl ask for.

A defense love story: who do we keep?

Zzzz…did I miss the game? Zzzz…. I hate afternoon games.

I look away for a couple games and this happens: The Habs have a winning streak. Yes, it’s only two games but it had been a while. Thanks in part to Habs Express on RDS for filling in the blanks, helps a girl when all she wants to do is have fun (in the non hockey way).

But of course the funny thing was that it was bottom dwellers both East and West. New Jersey (sans Martin Brodeur) were blown away 5-1 Thursday while I was potlucking at Vegas: the official home-base of Forget the Box. A friend was glad that Carey Price lost the shutout because he was losing in the hockey pool.

Yes, someone whined about Carey Price having too many shutouts. Seriously, it’s hard being a Habs fan. No win/win when your best player is too good.

While we feasted on homemade goodies, Lars Eller had a second helping of goals. He’s developing a taste for getting the puck in the net these days, if only he can fill into his frame a little bit more. Pass him some potatoes along with the puck.

He’s now on a line with Darche and Pouillot. Do we call this the Dep line as they’ll be open for 24 hours like a depaneur? Will think of a better line name later.

And yes, Scott Gomez has been scoring, thus ends the goalless joke. Smell the sweet scent of winning in the Jersey wetlands. The Devils are hoping that rookie Stephen Gionta will one day be like his Captain brother Brian. In the meantime, it still stinks in New Jersey.

Something was missing, where was the triple low fives? Carey Price was left hanging cause PK Subban was a healthy scratch. Was the same for the afternoon game against the San Jose Sharks. What the f**k?

PK was learning his lesson from the Edmonton game that even as a rookie, he must control his passion for the game. Being passionate about defense is a good thing but sometimes it can be distracting and mistakes can be made. We all love PK but he’s still a rookie, mistakes will be made (and can be costly).

Not to worry, Yannick Weber got the chance to play and is hot right now. 2 points in 2 games. However this was PK’s slot, Coach Martin is not breaking up a good thing.

Uh oh. Looks like we got defense drama.

Both PK and Weber had been buddies back in the minors (they would give each other rides to practice) and both have been hyped the last couple of seasons. I’ve been waiting for Weber to come up and do his thing, only his thing just bumped off PK.

It comes at a time when we found out Markov is gone for the season. Sad but true, he’s not coming back. Seems that getting hit by Eric Staal is the equivalent to being hit by a truck. However the future of defence couldn’t be brighter. Both PK and Webber will be high calibre defenseman down the road, it the meantime there has to be a way to keep both guys. No one is liking PK in the press box.

It’s not sitting well with some fans I know. It pissed off the Halak lover/Price hater, which by the way: please come up with something more clever that calling Martin a f**cker. Senator fans were a lot wittier when Dany Heatley returned to Ottawa.

I did catch some afternoon Shark action, my job has a TV for just these occasions. I was able to catch some first period action but multitasking work and hockey means I missed the Darche goal by a second.

The defense was solid, despite the Sharks outshooting us but most importantly Hamerlick and Spacek were effective in shutting down Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany (douchebag) Heatley (that’s how you insult). With that type of talent it is surprising that San Jose is practically a cellar dweller in the west.

Surprising that Stanley Cup hero Antti Niemi has been a bust in teal. Then again, we’re still surprised that Carey Price can play solid during a time when he normally takes a nap.

Zzz…great save by Price. Zzz…afternoon games suck.

My hockey like since 1992

Shout Outs of the Week: Shout out to Guy Lafleur who played his final game Sunday at the Bell Centre as the Old Timer Canadiens played the Hall of Famers. Guy Guy Guy! is hanging up the skates for good but he finished in style… with a hat trick.

Shout out to Marche aux Puces St Michel for the kitsch adventure this past Sunday as I discovered some of the coolest hockey memorabilia and a blast from my hockey past: Kirk Muller back when he played for the Habs.