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Friday, April 16, 2010

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Montreal French Media: The Morning After

Friday morning, we get wall-to-wall interviews and talk about game 1 of the Habs-Caps series on CKAC:

Former coach Bob Hartley:

  • We all talk about Ovie’s no SOG but Mike Green didn’t do anything either. The Habs neutralized both Ovie and the whole Caps’ D squad.
  • The key with stars like Ovie is to keep them out of their comfort zone.
  • The Caps aren’t the best team in the league but the team with the most talent; it’s two different things.
  • If I was Bruce Boudreau, I’d try to match Ovechkin against Gomez. He doesn’t speak French so no worries that he’ll get this secret.
  • Montreal’s only weak point, last night, was faceoffs. [60-something% to Caps]
  • Prediction for Saturday: Montreal has excellent chances to win and come back to Montreal with a 2-0 lead.
Former coach Michel Therrien:
  • I’m surprised that Montreal won game 1.
  • If I am Boudreau, I remind the players of the comeback the team made in 2009 in the first round against the Rangers. Use this as a wakeup call.
  • What worries me about Ovie is that it’s not a 1-game thing. He hasn’t been the same since the Olympics. Bruce Boudreau will have to sit with him and have a serious talk.
  • Lapierre’s line really impressed me.

During the Gérant d’estrades (Monday morning quarterbacks?) show, Jacques Thériault, Bernard Brisset and Jeremy Filosa go on and on. Some snippets:

Jacques Theriault:
  • I originally said that the Caps would win in 5. I have to be logical and say that Washington will win Saturday. I hope that I’m wrong!
Jeremy Filosa:
  • Washington will win Saturday on a tight game.
Bernard Brisset:
  • People are cautious; if Montreal wins Saturday, then there will be a huge hockey fever here.
  • Ovie and Semin had terrible games. Backstrom and Knuble played really well.
  • Apparently that Ovie’s personal doctor, from Russia, is in town and that if he’s there, there must be serious.
  • Washington will win Saturday.
  • In response to Theriault raving about some NHL team that is successfully building around young defensemen, he interrupts and says that Montreal banked on old fogies who were successful last night!
Later in the day, call-in shows are lined-up where fan are likely to see the Canadiens knocking the Caps out of the playoffs!

Photo credit: flickr/dan4th

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Montreal Fans on OT Win

Less than an hour after the OT win against the Caps in game one, Ron Fournier takes calls on CKAC Sports. The question? What do you think of tonight's game? Original, huh?

Before taking calls, we learn from a geek statistician that this was only the 4th time in Ovechkin's career that he got no shot on goal in a game. Call sample:

  • Caller Francois: I thought that Montreal would win. Good game from Halak.
  • Caller Karim: GO HABS GO! - WE'LL WIN IN 4. [bunch of drunks signing in the background]
  • Caller whoever: Montreal just took back the home ice advantage. Mission accomplished.
  • Caller Francis: Very happy - I think that they'll win in 4. [14-year old who'll get wiser over the years]
  • Caller whoever: The beast [Caps] has been awoken. Watch out Saturday.
  • Caller Alex: For once, we played as a team. It was great.
  • Caller Maxime: Nice win but we can't get too excited. Washington will come back strong. Stopping Ovechkin is quite something.
  • Caller Peter: GO HABS GO! [same bunch of drunks signing in the background]
  • Caller Steve: Tonight, we played as a team, which we haven't done in quite a while.
  • Ron Fournier: We have a nice team but we don't have a team built for the playoffs. We have small players and if we make it further than one round, our small size will catch up with us. Not physical enough. We do have heart, though.
  • Caller Marc: Playoff hockey tonight. I don't know if Montreal can do better than tonight but the Caps sure can. 25% odds that Montreal can win this series.
  • Ron Fournier: Ovechkin was flat. Looks like Boudreau knew, right off the bat, that his team wouldn't win tonight. I think that Montreal has 40% chances to win the series.
Over and out, mon Ron!

Photo credit: flickr/clevercupcakes

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Post Game French Media on Habs Win Over Caps

Post game show on Montreal's French CKAC Sports radio station after the Canadiens' 3-2 overtime win against the Caps. Ron Fournier - yes, the former NHL ref - along with Dany Dubé of the game broadcast team:

  • Fournier: Isn't ironic that Plekanec got the game winning goal against Theodore after the little controversy? [Plekanec saying that the Caps didn't have a dominant goalie; Theodore asking about Tomas Jagr]
  • Fournier: No shot on goal from Ovechkin; the guy is injured. But watch out, he's going to explode at some point. Let's not get too excited.
  • Fournier: Montreal can keep up with the powerful Caps.
  • Dubé: if Montreal had lost in OT, I would have said that this game was a positive, proving that the Canadiens can hold their own against Washington.
  • Dubé: I don't think that Theodore deserves to be replaced but I wonder if he'll be back for the next game, given his poor relationship with Boudreau.
  • Fournier: 64.2% [according to some number crunching geek] of the time, the team that wins the first game of a best-of-7 series ends up winning. Before tonight, I thought that Montreal had 25% chances of winning the series. Now, I think that they have 40% chances of winning it.
  • Dubé: Washington deserved to win more than Montreal, because of their domination on shots on goals.
  • Fournier: Montreal deserved the win because of their desire and energy during the game.
Post game interview:
  • Jacques Martin: It's only one game. We'll have to make some adjustments and work hard for game 2. [talk about a boring coach - good thing we have Plekanec, Theodore, and Boudreau]
Post game show is over. Next, Fournier starts the call-in show. Stanley Cup parade will likely be the subject of discussion.

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Montreal's French Media on Series Against Caps

The Caps-Canadiens series is starting tonight and, as a service to our readers, HockeyZonePlus is bringing you some snippets of what is being said in Montreal's French media.

Let's start with Solide comme le rock, the noon-to-3 call-in show on CKAC Sports, hosted by Jean-Charles Lajoie. CKAC is a 24-hour Montreal sports station; hockey being the focus 22 hours a day, 352 days per year.

Lajoie predicts that the Caps will win... in 7!

Let's listen in and provide interesting snippets:

  • One of CKAC's reporter in DC (remember, it's Montreal; they probably have 23 people with the team): the Caps are a class organization that provided a bus to the media for transportation to the practice facility in Arlington and then downtown for the game. A cab driver (disappointing that the Caps didn't send a bus to pick him up at the airport!) told him that the Habs are the toughest opponent the Caps could have gotten in the first round. Not sure that this is a very scientific or representative opinion but apparently, if a cab driver says that, it's a prevalent opinion in DC...
  • Caller Francis: Gomez/Gionta/Gill will be in playoff mode with Maxim Lapierre pulling a Dale-Hunter on Theodore to keep him off his game. I might be naive but if we lead 2-0 once we're back in Montreal, we can put doubts in their mind and win it.
  • Caller Felix: on 5-on-5 and penalty killings, we're last in the league. We need to mess with them and make them take penalties to win with power plays. We can do it.
  • Caller Kevin: no way we can do it unless the crowd makes a huge difference as a 6th player. This year, the fans are not as enthusiastic as they were last year in the playoffs against Boston when we almost made it.
  • Caller Guy: Kind of ironic to see that the Caps are so nervous. Montreal has no pressure; all the pressure is on the Caps to meet the expectations. It's going to be a great series.
  • Caller Richard: There's no playoff fever in Montreal right now but if the Canadiens come back from DC with one win, things will change. Montreal in 7 but we won't win the Cup!
  • Caller Francoise: First time caller, long time listener! No way Montreal will win. Washington in 4.
  • Caller Philippe: to win, we have to be arrogant and destabilize them. Maxim Lapierre is a shit disturber and needs to be all over Ovechkin. Bergeron will need to be on top of his game with his shots from the blue line and the power play will be key for Montreal.
More later!

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Olympics! Trade Deadline! Drama! Excitement!


photo courtesy Flickr user s.yume, displayed under Creative Commons


A few notes possibly of interest on the recently completed Olympics and the quickly upcoming trade deadline:

- What a great finish for the gold medal game on Sunday. Really, you couldn't have scripted it any better if you were a Canadian screenwriter: an overtime winner in a tense game against the US scored by Canada's best hockey player. Amazing. Congrats to team Canada.

- On the other side of it, how great a run by the US was that? Reaching the gold medal game after most people had them out of the medals going in...that's just good stuff. I hate to sound too "everybody's a winner! Yay!" about the whole thing, but really, great job by team USA too.

- Brian Rafalski's been in the NHL, what, ten years now? Can't say I've ever seen or heard of him putting together a stretch of games quite like that. In the preliminary round game against Canada, he was dominant. Just goes to show how far a stellar defenseman and good goaltending can take a team.

- Most invisible player on team Canada: Joe Thornton. Easily. I hate to go negative on a guy after a win like that, but Thornton really didn't look involved at all. It's too bad too, I can remember him on the 2004 World Cup team playing brilliantly in a shutdown role and I thought he'd be able to pull that game out again. He's lucky his Sharks linemates Heatley and Marleau were there to prop him up, otherwise he'd have spent a lot longer on the bench.

- Speaking of which, how worried are you right now if you're a Sharks fan? Not only did Thornton disappear in a big tournament (again), but goaltender Evgeni Nabokov completely melted down against Canada in the quarterfinal. Considering San Jose's team reputation for cracking under pressure, that's not good. At least Sharks' defenseman Dan Boyle had a good tournament for Canada after a slow start.

- Conversely, how much are Ducks fans fantasizing at the idea of a first round rematch with the first place Sharks? Anaheim is three points behind the eighth place Red Wings with both Dallas and Calgary in between, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that the two teams could meet in the playoffs again after the Ducks upset the Sharks last year. Scott Niedermayer, who hasn't been too good in Anaheim all season, also had a slow start to his Olympics but in the gold medal game he was Canada's best defenseman. If he can carry that over to the rest of the year with the Ducks, they'll be in good shape.

- If Slovakia had won the bronze medal game you'd have to think Pavol Demitra would've won the best forward award for the tournament over Canada's Jonathan Toews. He was brilliant. Why can't Demitra always play like that?

- I know Denis Grebeshkov wasn't having a great season in Edmonton, but is this really how the Oilers are going to rebuild, by dealing defensemen in their mid-20's for mid-second round picks? I realize a lot of the players they really want to move have virtually untradeable contracts, but Steve Tambellini better have a pretty nice rabbit ready to be pulled out of his hat before the deadline, or Oiler fans will be even more unhappy than they are now. And considering the team is mired in the worst season in franchise history, they're already pretty unhappy. Grebeshkov was a Russian Olympian and wasn't worth more in a trade than Dominic Moore or Andy Sutton? Really?

- Others have done a nice job of breaking down who's likely to be moved by the trade deadline already (including The Score's Jonathan Willis, who I would highly recommend if you aren't already reading him), so I won't do a big breakdown like I did last season. But there's really two teams I'm most interested in following what they do at the deadline: Buffalo and Washington. Several other contenders (New Jersey, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Calgary) have already made moves, while a few more (Vancouver, San Jose, Philadelphia) will probably stand pat. But with the lingering feeling that almost any team could come out of the Eastern Conference, Buffalo and Washington could be players.

- You'd have to think that if Buffalo's stingy ownership were ever going to throw off the restraints and go for broke, it would be now, what with Ryan Miller playing so well. Buffalo probably needs an experienced puck-moving defenseman and a scoring forward to really be a contender at this point. A Joe Corvo & Ray Whitney package from Carolina might look nice, or if they're a little more adventurous, Lubomir Visnovsky from the Oilers might work.

- Washington should definitely be going for broke this season. The Caps badly need an experienced defenseman. They were rumoured to be interested in Grebeshkov, but might be better off with someone a little more physical and defensively sound, like Nashville's Dan Hamhuis. There's also a lingering feeling that the Caps need an upgrade in goal. I don't really buy it, especially since many of the goalies on the market, particularly Marty Turco, Dan Ellis, or Martin Biron, aren't necessarily better options than what they've already got. Jose Theodore is just as likely to have a hot playoff streak as Turco, Ellis or Biron, and Varlamov, if he's healthy, probably has a better chance than any of them. It might be intriguing if they went hard after Florida's Tomas Vokoun, but there's no indication at this point that that's likely to occur.

- Finally, I heard a lot of talk about Jaromir Jagr possibly returning to the NHL next season in the preliminary round, when Jagr had good games against Slovakia and Latvia. That talk pretty much died off completely after that hard check from Alexander Ovechkin in the Russia-Czech Republic game nullified Jagr for the rest of the games, and deservedly so. I loved seeing Jagr in his prime, but it would be painful to see him come back and play a bit role with a lot of time on the injured list. Just ask fans of Peter Forsberg...

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Friday, February 05, 2010

1-976-Paul-Coffee Only $8.33 per minute!

Thanks to Chris Nilan and his business partner, you can now dish out $8.33/minute* to talk to Paul Coffee on the phone! Not so much into Coffee? No worries, there are forty-or-so other former NHLers available for similar prices. Stu Grimson and Kevin Stevens are bargains at $6.67/minute*!

It’s good to know that for just a few dollars, you can connect to hockey stars that will pretend to care while you fawn over them with your wallet wide open.

Go to www.vizzitt.com (Get it? Visit!) Right now if you can’t wait for this 1-976 hockey opportunity. Don’t have too much expectations, though, as the last news on the site are over 1 year old and you get a “Please check back for availability” message when clicking on a player. At $499.99/hour, you’d think that they’re all standing by the phone!

*Minimum 30 minutes, apparently to give you time to really become best buddy with your new former-NHL friend.

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Idiotic Comments from Kovalchuk/Waddell

After the announcement of the trade that sent Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils, GM Don Waddell and Kovy both made comments to the press* that prove that sometimes hockey people should stick to just... play hockey (or pretend they know what they do, in Waddell's case):

Kovalchuk: "For sure. I’m not going to put my home up for sale. Atlanta is going to be my second home probably forever now. It’s great weather. My kids in school there. I will be there."
Come on. Stop the charade. Why would a Russian guy who will soon walk around with a $100M contract, without real ties to Atlanta, want to have a second home in Atlanta? The great weather? Sure. Miami, where he spends time in the summer, the south of France or a whole bunch of exotic islands don't have good weather, apparently. Schools?! That's a good one. The kids will stay in Atlanta in order to continue their education in some great unique school? Georgia is known for its great schools after all.

A big $5 that he doesn't own property in Atlanta comes 2011. Nothing wrong with that.
Waddell: "This isn’t a knock on Kovy, but Kovy’s been here eight years and we still haven’t won a playoff game. This team has to take a different identity."
Waddell has been GM of the Thrashers since the beginning and they still haven't won a playoff game. This IS a knock on Waddell! Time to go back peddling portable toilets.

*Press, in Atlanta, means the one journalist following the team. Doesn't include the guys on the team's payroll who pretend they are journalists.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Atlanta Thrashers: Will the Last One to Leave Please Turn Off the Lights?

Since the beginning of the 2009-10 season, the folks at Philips Arena, in Atlanta, don’t bother turning on the impressive wall of hundreds of Philips television monitors showing sporting events on the way between the upper and lower concourse during Thrashers’ games.

Makes you wonder if management has not already given up on the franchise when it doesn’t even bother turning on a huge display of products from the arena sponsor! It sure conveys that message.

We can just imagine the meeting before the season:

“OK, we’ll unlock the doors and have a few beer stalls for the last few coming to games. Send Larry to the gift shop; maybe we can sell a few Kovalchuk jerseys before the trade deadline.”
To be positive, let’s hope that they just decided to be very green by using less electricity and power for frivolous reasons. But, really? The company that paid big money for the arena’s naming rights would forego a spectacular display of its products to go green?

Will the last one to leave please turn off the lights?

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Next NHL Phenom?

He shoots, he scores!



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