In the end, I still got some kind of T shirt! Thanks Habs!

The morning after the last game, the last faceoff, the last glove save.   The Bell Centre quiet, the fan jam gone.   Bars will be quiet until Formula One racing in two weeks but grateful for the long playoff run. Beer taps in need of a refill.

And that, my friend, was the best hockey I’ve seen in Montreal in a long time.

It was historical, it was dramatic.   How a team that should have but didn’t during the regular season, did what we knew they were able to during the playoffs.   This playoff run was magical and inspirational as Montreal were the underdogs and were able to not only knock one, but two giants.

Unfortunately they were brought back to earth by another underdog.   Well, c’est la vie.   The team had good chemistry and good news, a chunk of the team wants to stay.


We still have the goalie debate to deal with.   Jaroslav Halak is in the reflective process.   He really, truly wants to be the #1 goalie and he does deserve that right.   However, whatever Montreal offers plus his heroics along with the greatest fan appreciation, it’s going to be more than dollars and cents to keep him.

We got that other goalie to deal with, I remember something about Carey Price being a #1, was pegged to be #1.   He too, in need of a contract.   He has a potential that we’ve only seen glances of, however we can’t wait any longer.   It’s either do it or goodbye.

Keeping them both would be the ideal, for Price to fight the same way Halak did for the #1.   It would make sense to breed a bunch of awesome asshole-like goalers.   Price needs to be less of a pussy, Halak needs to be #1 but stay in his net!

Thinking that we’re going to be bringing a lot of the guys up from Hamilton next year.   PK Subban will be a keeper, watch for guys like Max Weber coming also.   Even with Andrei Markov out for the beginning of the year, defense will be solid.   Keep Gill, give more confidence to O’Byrne.   Hamrlik is questionable, not just age but his contract.

Sorry to say, I think it’s time to give up on the Kostitsyns.   Andrei, even when he’s close, is not close enough.   Sergei is too much trouble to deal with.   Time to give up as there are better guys either on the farm team or that could be part of a good package.

The Habs should be looking for another decent defenseman in the off season and probably a good power play specialist, we got beat there in the 3rd round.   Maybe one more guy with size.   Size somehow might matter.   We are a small squad that did big things, however there were some shortcomings in the Philly series.   Problem is, not enough cash to go around to keep and trade.

It would be great to keep Plekanec, Metropolit and the rest of the awesome out of nowhere signings from Bob Gainey however… that’s pretty much it.   However…

Alright, my Stanley Cup prediction is the Chicago Blackhawks in 5 games.

I like Chicago, since last year I knew they would be a team to reckon with as they’re a new generation of a Western dominance (Detroit just got too old).   I love their defense in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.   I love Keith as he also lost seven teeth and scored a   goal, now that’s a hockey player.

Of course you can’t forget the guys in front, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, a scoring one two punch, the west’s version of Crosby/Malkin.   Kane and Toews were highlights from the Olympic tournament however against each other.   Together it can be deadly.

The only catch here is that Marian Hossa will have to win a Cup, I don’t like Hossa because the Pittsburgh trade got rid of a favorite of mine, Colby Armstrong.   After the final, he jumped ship to Detroit.   What a bastard.

Sigh, I guess he’ll have to win it finally.

Funny thing about this final, it’s goalies that weren’t regulars.   Michael Leighton has had the job for two weeks now and Chicago’s Antti Niemi was once a 2nd rate goalie/Zamboni driver.

Well, it’s better than trusting Chistobel Huet in a pressure-like situation.   Ask Montreal.   I think it’s going to be a clash of defense more than a scoring clinic, more blood and teeth on the ice.

As this is the last entry, I want to say thanks to everyone who watched games and drank in the experience (or in some games, drank me under the table).   We went to 10 different bars in three boroughs.   My blog by the numbers:

Most bar appearances: Hatters, Brutopia, Bifteck (3), Irish Embassy, Copa (2)

Number of times we played “Guess the overtime scorer, win a beer”: 2 we went 1-1

Because Plekanec had a mediocre playoffs, a friend couldn’t drink much

Most people we crammed into a bar: 10 in both game 7s

Weird places to watch: Vol de Nuit, Fats, Toronto

In each round I seem to be wearing less clothing.   It got hot, got it?

Lived on a diet of chicken wings and nachos, this is where biking balances it out

Best Waitresses: shout out to the cutie at Irish Embassy game 5 Pittsburgh and the chickie at Brutopia game 7, so many people to serve and so cool with it.

A great shout out to everyone working in bars during the playoffs, thanks for the patience, the service and the fact this was extra in the pockets.   Please always tip your waitresses (with or without playoffs).

Playoff pints were better than playoff pitchers: most was game 1 Washington and game 3 Pittsburgh.

Bad jokes: naming food after Hab players and the dirty use of the name “Cammalleri”

Nice to know we may have pissed off Jean Beliveau only once

So that’s it, that’s all.

Thanks to everyone who came along, will hopefully want to grab a beer with you guys and sorry for screaming in your ears these last few weeks.   Thanks to Forget the Box for letting me find my writing voice again and covering what I thought would be four entries (this is entry 22).

Will be back in full photo mode this summer and will let my liver recover until World Cup in a few weeks.   I actually have a home team this year: will find me yelling with Chileans at a TV soon.   I actually will be writing in my own blog soon, I know I started one before the playoffs.

A great shout out to the facebook group BBQ with Kirk Muller, he deserves to have a BBQ in his honor, the Habs need to keep Kirk as his style of coaching can lead to an actual coaching gig (we need to keep him).

Lastly, to Montreal for embracing this team, this run.   This was the most enthusiasm I’ve ever witnesses.

Let’s riot to that.   Just Kidding. See you around.

for photos of semi riots go to:

for the rest of Cindy’s Hockey Blogs this playoff season go to:

Back to reality for this dog, but isn't he cute?

Well, good things were bound to end and in the case of the Montreal Canadiens, it lasted six weeks longer than anticipated.   The one thing I can say about all of this: who knew?   Who knew they had it in them to beat both the best team in the league and the defending champions. However, it was another scrapper of a team, The Philadelphia Flyers, that got us beat.

They too had their underdog story as they needed an extra game to even qualify for the playoffs, then go knee deep in the neutral zone we call New Jersey.   However, the legend grew when they came from a 3-0 Boston lead then won the next four games in order to go up against the other belle of the ball.

I guess the clock stuck midnight, the party has ended.   Time to go home.

I decided to go on a bike trip on game day, I explored the western parts of the bike path, seeing the rapids, finding surfers, chilling by the river all day.   Nevertheless enduring the heat and fatigue on this ride.

It was a long ride, where my bike down on it’s last gears managed to pull off 30 km.   My legs are going to pay for it however.

It does remind me of the journey of “the team of destiny.”   How it was long and hard, yet surprising and positive.   I pegged the Canadiens to last four games (six actually as I was being nice).   Now six weeks and 21 entries later, there is hockey in late May.   Still going.

We all learn on these journeys that we take with us in our lives.   Each game was a lesson in surviving the grit and grind of a long playoff run.   However, like my bike trip, all journeys must come to an end.

Game 6: All the biking lead me back to Brutopia for a cold beer and a warm feeling in my heart.   We can come back or at least give the Flyers a hard time.   We needed the first goal no matter what.   Not even the loud angry Flyer crowd or the rendition of God Bless America sung by the late Kate Smith on the scoreboard was going to psyche the Habs out.

Then out came Gionta that got us the lead.   I think this could be our game.

It looked good until the big mistake Jaroslav Halak made.   He’s usually at his top game however he came out of his net too far to clear the puck as Roman Hamrlik was trying to clear it himself.   Mike Richards of the Flyers saw this as open game and tied the game up.

Possibly the costly move was what made or broke the game as after that mistake, the Canadiens weren’t able to come back.

It was all Philly, Chris Pronger and his defensive core all over the small guys.   It was near impossible to make passes or go near the net.   PK Subban learned a lesson as he got clipped in the lip by the veteran defenseman.   PK has had many lessons in the last six weeks he will take with him as he will finally be on the official roster next season.

PK’s passes were the highlight of the game, however since the Halak incident, morale had been sloppy, letting in goals by Giroux and Jeff Carter still nursing a broken foot.   It looked like that’s all she wrote until for the 1st time since game one against Washington, Scott Gomez scored.

How fitting that he had the first and last goals of the Canadiens playoff run.

The bar came alive, the same way the Habs did, thinking, there is another chance. We need to tie it up, more beer and cheers.   The city on it’s feet, they have enough to pull this off.   The last five minutes were nothing but fingers crossed and held breaths.

It’s been done before, once, twice, can it be three?

However not the case, it was a valiant effort.   Everyone took a shot, Cammalleri, Gionta again, Gomez too.   Even Andrei Kostitsyn.   So close.

However, the Canadiens were stopped by a big guy in pads, Michael Leighton.

It’s over, done.   The end of the journey that no one knew was going to last this long.

The look on Hal Gill’s face was the same as the look from the guy drinking the pitcher to himself during game 4.   It was devastated.   These guys worked hard to get here   even when they were doubted in game 1 in the 1st round.   This was the 1st time we got a glance at the human element of Halak after he had been a superhero these last three rounds.

I walked out of the bar with my friend, I decided to show him what I’ve been covering these last few weeks.   For one thing, the riot cops and helicopters were out just in case.   The cops opened up the streets as there was no need for trouble.

I was still able to drink my beer on the street without hassle, I guess I’m better at drinking on the street than most people I know.

There were guys selling shirts on the streets, having a clearance as they were hoping on cashing in on a win, now hoping to get rid of their merchandise. I bought one for a friend, who I think will enjoy this new hockey memory.

I showed my friend the area where I took awesome photos of the semi riots, how Crescent and Ste Catherine was filled with hundreds of people celebrating a couple weeks ago.   There was a dixieland band on the corner playing rather than being used as a riot tactic.

We passed by the SAQ that still hasn’t repaired their window after the semi riot.     I showed him the fire station with the homemade sign they had up.   I told the firefighters about my blog, but I think they find me kind of cute instead.

Yep, I might as well find comfort in firemen.

We ended up drinking in the park near the Bell Centre where during the Pittsburgh series I drank like Carey Price.   It became a clearer memory as I contemplated the amazing playoff run in the last few weeks.   Also, I was drinking out of a can so less damage there.

So many people I’ve seen games with, so many bars.   The scenarios at hand.   Glad that this team had gone this far, that myself and the people I was with watching games were on this amazing journey. Sad that I can’t find a better excuse now other than hockey to see some of these people again.

Bike ride anyone?

On my way home I saw the key chain that someone left for me to put on my keys during the run.   I used to be big on Canadiens merchandise, hell my walls and wardrobe were nothing but. I stopped doing that as I am a hockey fan but don’t want to have to prove it by wearing something.

However, with my new found respect for the team, I might as well for old time’s sake. There will be a Canadiens sum up and my Stanley Cup prediction in the next entry. Go Habs.

It's on my keys now

Do it for the fans in the heat

I couldn’t even find the words to describe this game or what I saw on the ice.   It looked like the Montreal Canadiens: skating hard and fast, shots on net a many, but nothing was going in, nothing was going right.   These guys were making Michael Leighton, a 2nd rate goalie who had been Philly’s go to guy for barely a week, look like the best.

You can kind of gather that we lost and we’re on the verge of elimination…again.

Game 4: another afternoon game where everyone bracing the heat were running to air conditioned bars in relief, sipping cold beer and hoping for a heated match.

I ran from work in hopes of finding spots at the Bifteck, I thought my friend was going to be there early but a last minute job crisis got her there a little later in the game.

It felt like the Olympics all over again: a 3pm game, running to the Bifteck, a lucky shirt in my bag, nearly the same lineup of people from the final at the bar.   I was hoping it would be a good omen.   However, it wasn’t a really good game.

We all made it on time, YES!   Strange to be sweltering during a hockey game as this is mainly how I feel watching football (soccer to you guys).   Nevertheless, game on!

The Canadiens were looking good in the 1st, skating fast and hard. A goal within a few minutes seemed ideal, getting the 1st goal was a must.

Was surprised to find out that Philly’s Jeff Carter was back in the lineup, a top scorer who had missed the last couple of weeks with a broken foot.   Another one of their guys is back from a concussion.

In the playoffs, mainly everyone plays wounded.   Not so in the case of Andrei Markov, it was too much for him to come back in the series, let alone the beginning of next season.

I see that Ghetto Goldilocks is not making this easy on the squad.   Scott Hartnell is this series’ sh*t disturber and boy you can see it out there with his natural curls and his rugged playoff beard.   One hard hit after the next.

There was a moment in the game where you see Ryan O’Byrne emulating this against the boards, I knew he would have a use after all.   Highlight for me was when Hall Gill was using his 6ft 7inch frame to block shots away from goalie Jaroslav Halak’s net.

Talk about taking one for the team.

Defense was making mistakes one after the next, worse when PK Subban’s pass was intercepted by Flyer bully Chris Pronger setting up Ville Leino for another Flyer goal.   One goal that wasn’t scored by a francophone.   The other mistake was opting for a bad pitcher of sangria instead of beer at the bar.

What the Hell was I thinking, beer is hockey. Sangria is something else.

A goal we needed and couldn’t get, I see that Andrei Kostitsyn had been close in each game, however comes up soft. He’s not that bad of a player but his scoreless droughts are.   Quiet also were Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta.

Towards the 3rd, the Habs looked like they ran out of steam. PK Subban was the only one who still looked alive out there, clean long passes and sharp as a tack.

However while I’m sitting at the bar late in the afternoon, something didn’t feel right. These were not the same Montreal Canadiens I’ve been following these last few weeks. They knew that this game, every game, was important.

On paper, the Habs were outscoring, had the better guy in nets and we were the favorites.   On the ice, it didn’t translate well.   The Flyers were playing grittier, harder and wanted it more. They just threw in a big guy in pads to look threatening. Making Jaroslav Halak look 2nd rate, we can’t do this to the guy as murals of his stop signs are all over the city.

And now all distraught, we’re back in elimination mode again.   However, the question lies: do we have enough for another performance?   We’ve done this twice already, third time’s the charm?

Across from my table I see a fan drinking a pitcher to himself looking intensely at the game. The look on his face was like this was all he has going for himself.   The hope that they would come back seemed optimistic early in the game.   Coming back from the series seems idealistic and not too realistic.

Are we giving the illusion that the Flyers are better than us, YES!   We have been in this situation twice and against better teams.   Why are the Canadiens psyched out by a big man in pads and hardcore defense.

We’ve beaten guys much bigger than us.   I know heart and guts is one way to win, we also need to score goals.

I know it’s weird, to be watching a game in the sweltering heat.   An afternoon game where we rule the night.   Choosing watery juice wine over beer.

For me, if we lose the series, I’ve gotten use to it.   However seeing the distraught look across from me is heartbreaking.   This run has shown a new appreciation for the team (in some cases in semi riot form) and it’s a welcoming experience.

When I became a fan, it was after we won the cup in 1993.   I thought, “Hey, we can win this again.”   They have been nowhere close since.   I’ve even seen them miss the playoffs and in historical context, between 1995 and now have been the low points in the franchise.   A younger generation not knowing what it would be like to win and win big.   Until now.

I’m now seeing games with a new breed of fans, some that know what the Hell is going on.   Not the “if it’s not a french guy scoring, then we suck” mentality, or the “we’re going to win the cup” after a year of missing the playoffs.   Hell no, you white trash bastard from Hochelaga Maisonneuve with nothing going for yourself other than the team.

In the meantime, we have one more game (in theory).   No mistakes, all or nothing.   It’s been done before, we can do one more.   I don’t want to see that heartbroken face again in the bar.

Let’s do this again, then again, then again.

So this is my living room

Sometimes, going home can be a good idea.

It can be familiar, warm, safe and inviting. In Montreal, we invite you and the thousands of people to an event called the Conference Final. It was game 3, the Canadiens have returned from a scoreless rout in Philly and are hoping for some loving from the family.

Game 3: I decided to head down to the Bell Centre to check out the Fan Jam again. It had gotten bigger since I saw it the first time weeks before. It was a celebration in the streets, fans dressed in their jersey best, painted to the nines. Smiles and eyes as wide, the band on stage playing cheesy tunes to the general masses. It felt like a wedding reception.

Note to self: don’t ever hire a band mainly consisted of white boy funk. Nothing better than a white dude singing Kayne West. Really Bell Centre, Really!

Also no one can drink in front of the Esso Station on the cheap as before. Too many cops now, too many   cops in the downtown in fear that anything can spark a riot.

It was bittersweet as the Fan Jam feels like a party you’re not quite invited to. Everyone gets to go watch the game in the arena, I go in search of a bar.

The only two other things that are sad is that I’ve not gone to a game or a playoff game ever. I don’t have the luxury to buy tickets. The other sad thing is that I always end up with no one to go with.

Such as in the case of tonight. Because of the lackluster play in the last while, I’ve been abandoned to watching the game by myself. Yep, it was too much to deal with not scoring a goal and being down 2-0. I chose to watch the game on my own at Brutopia. I had a feeling things would turn around, I’ve seen this before.

It was like that with last year’s Pittsburgh run, they came back twice in 2-0 deficits. And they won it all. So there could be a realistic chance.

Reality is that Andrei Markov was not coming back at all. He had surgery Wednesday. Out for six months. Someone on the D had to step it up.

For one thing, not Ryan O’Byrne, he came back after being sat out for three games. He played the first shift, took a stupid penalty and was sat for the remainder of the game.

Maybe go back to scoring in your own net.

Let’s be realistic, Michael Leighton is not a great goalie as they are perceiving him as, he’s a big guy with pads on. Eventually the Habs will break him.

And they did as Cammalleri finally popped that Philly cherry. Man,was he ever relieved. So was the entire city. The half empty bar with it’s few strong hold fans let out a roar.

Later on Pyatt got one…wait, goal review….got a goal. YES!

You can see the momentum on the ice, fewer mistakes, clean passes. PK Subban still speedy throughout the game. Roman Hamrlik reappeared and had his best outing in weeks. Two assists, the best one was the pass to Gionta and of course, his rumble against the other Philly sh*t disturber, Scott Hartnell. What a number against the ghetto Goldilocks.

As we were leading, people decided to finally show up to the game. By the third   period,   a couple people who finished a summer class I knew showed up to see if Halak can keep the shutout.

Nope, another francophone score! The theme continues of Quebec players lighting up between the pipes.

We broke Leighton in a big way, Halak had a good outing. He now looks like a goalie again. The Bell centre crowd was brutal to the 2nd rate, 3rd string goalie. Even worse when chanting “Pronger sucks” as Chris Pronger rumbled against Spacek. It was more like dance with because of the size difference.

The Canadiens came back and came back big.

I walked on my lonesome (as the crew I was with took the metro home). Ste Catherine St was closed off for a few blocks for the wedding party to spill onto the street. It was a sea of red strolling down with big eyes and smiles. A dixieland band were busking in the middle of Crescent entertaining the fans, even the riot cops.

Ah, only in Montreal you can do this. And be followed home by a heliocopter.

Before I close off, a shout out to the facebook group BBQ with Kirk Muller. They now have reached more than 200 members in a short time. If the Canadiens are close to reaching the final, I think Kirk Muller can show up to a BBQ.

Also, as game 4 looms and there will be a game 5, everyone is welcome to experience this. This is rarest playoff run in years, we were supposed to have been swept a few weeks ago against Washington.

I can give it to you by the numbers: Calgary was 14 years between Stanley Cup finals, Edmonton 12 years, Ottawa have done this once in their short NHL life and the closest Toronto has been has been is three conference finals in 17 years.

This is Montreal’s best chance at a Cup since the last one, 17 years ago.

Most of us were young for that run, either in middle school or grade school. I recommend that you take in a least one game, one experience on Ste Catherine St. It’s kind of special because it doesn’t really happen that often. Or ever.

If you can’t afford beer, there will be someone that will offer you one. No one will be left behind.   Someone will save a spot at the bar, on the couch. Someone will text scores or write a blog about the experiences (yeah, I threw that in there).

I will be at the Bifteck Saturday as I have to run from work to watch. You’re all welcome to come, have some of my beer and watch. Think of it as being at my house.

Fun times at home. Oh yeah.

Mike Cammalleri is scoreless, even in NDG

This isn’t looking good.

Game 2 was no different than game 1.   No goals. The Flyers in their home rink of Wachovia arena are fierce and dirty.   So are the fans as they beat hard and holler on the Plexiglas. It’s getting really intimidating and I think for the first time, the Montreal Canadiens are playing like the 8th seed that they are.

No amount of Jesus talk or sacrificial pleas can help.   Not even a bar shift to NDG.

Yes, I went to NDG for game 2 as someone noted in the blogs that I tend to stay downtown and the Plateau for games.   NDG is more in my hood and yet I dare not go there.   So by consensus, I went to Next Door on Sherbrooke near Vendome.

I was thinking Maz’s but I think I’ve had enough of my share of sketchy bars.

Game 2: At Next Door, a tiny yet friendly bar on the corner of the good and the bad of NDG. The first period was mainly of the chickie hockey crowd, all my guy friends were either late or douched out.

By the way, when you text “cool”, it’s assumed that you’re coming.   Take a hint!

The Canadiens have been having a hard time on penalty kills as of late.   Halak let in one by Briere, power play.   Flyer goals have been scored by either him, Giroux or Gagne.

Then Hockey Night in Canada caught on to the francophone guys who the Habs could have acquired doing all the goal scoring.   I figured that out a long time ago.   Well, duh!

The scene in NDG was a lot louder than on the Plateau, mainly because of the guys screaming across from me.   Well, well.   If it’s isn’t the guys formally known as the “Dancing Cock Brothers”. Always beer and hockey with these guys.

We all were frustrated by one goalie: Michael Leighton.   The Habs were all over him, pushing and prodding into the net and yet, nothing was going in.   There was a moment where even Andrei Kostitsyn looked brilliant on a breakaway and was walled by this 2nd rate, 3rd string goalie.

And how often does Andrei Kostitsyn look brilliant.   Hell, out of desperation, we let brother Sergei play again.   Yep, really desperate in what he can do with 4 minutes of ice time. Oooooooh.

Scott Gomez has been taking a lot of penalties, in part when Chris Pronger is around.   The Latin in him is fuming as Flyer players are ganging up on the small squad.   Even the fans in Wachovia were ganging up on the struggling Habs chanting “ole ole” in their house.

That’s OUR chant! In OUR house!

The feeling was mutual in NDG as all we wanted was a goal, one goal.   A flukey, let in bounce in the net by freak of nature goal.

And it happened, when Halak let in one.   It was out of character for him to do that.

On the projector at the bar, a moth decided to fly into the game.   I figure that moth could help out on penalty kills, an unofficial 6th man.   But then we would get another “too many men” on the ice.   So it goes.

Halak skates over to Carey Price, wondering what that conversation would be about: “So is this what it’s like to suck?   Carey, take the fall for me.”   Is Jaroslav Halak starting to become human, losing confidence.   We did the same to Carey Price, both are naturally good goalies however as the series progresses we’re running out of options.

Do we go with a goalie slowly unhinging or take a risk?

The players left with their heads down and Flyer fans screaming and throwing things at them. Hockey Night in Canada pans to a shot of the area where former general manager Bob Gainey was watching, all stoic and sad looking.

He was the one who constructed this team, with his free agency signings and all.   Where everyone thought this team was a failure, he knew that this would work.   He even stepped down for the sake of this team at it’s low point.   We always see him making that face, now it’s heartbreaking as the team of destiny is down 2-0.

The Canadiens are going to need more than a regroup and line changes in order to survive. They did work hard, however so did the Flyers.   Like I said, no amount of Jesus talk or sacrificial pleas will help.   If they want it that bad, they have to do whatever it takes.   We knocked out the top two teams, there’s no turning back, we got to finish what we started.

After the game, we decided to explore the confines of NDG, the night was young and in search of a pick me up.   We stumbled onto a Trivia night at Honey Martins.   My crew and myself were a team of three, each question we knew or had an idea what the answer would be.   Anything sports related I simply knew.   The 1st round was a four way tie breaker.

This was as exciting as a playoff game, I really wanted the win.

No one got the bonus question, but there was a second one where my friend ran over and I was waving the answer!   Yes!   Free beer!   Someone wins tonight!

We did it again in the next round.   This was a Hell of a lot better than playoff hockey.   For one thing, we were 2-0 in trivia and won back to back beer.

Ah yes, I love NDG.

resorted to all this booze, oh the horror!

And so the story continues…

It’s the middle of May and we still have a team to cheer for. I barely have much clothes to wear in this heat and yet the Canadiens are still hitting the ice. So this is what hockey in places like California is like during the year.

Except Montreal is a real hockeytown and don’t you forget it.

Hours before game time I was trekking around the Mile End grabbing photos of the remnants of the Green Room (it caught ablaze earlier that day). Was playing the role of photojournalist attempting to get some photos however no such luck.

On the way back back I stumbled onto a mural in process on Fairmont. A restaurant to be, known as Faberge, was painting a giant Halak stop sign in front of their door front. They were to open in a couple weeks and hoped that this could bring some attention.

Check out Faberge Restaurant on Fairmont

Either way, they were glad that everyone is feeling the Habs hype, all in bright red.

Everywhere I went, from the Tam tams to The Main, all you see were Canadiens jerseys, flags on cars and bikes and talk of a possible run for Cup#25. It had been 17 years since we heard all this commotion. Everyone is now on the bandwagon.

We might have a chance…and then the horror.

Game 1: I opted for the Copacabana (otherwise known as my office). Your best bet in watching games now is to avoid downtown (unless you have good friends willing to get drunk a couple hours before the game). It was a good crowd nevertheless and no pressure on whether there are spots.

The Canadiens were able to knock the best teams in Washington and Pittsburgh, they were now against a team they could relate to in #7 rank Philadelphia. They too were on a Cinderella run as they defeated Boston after being down 0-3. Only two other teams have achieved this.

However there’s only room for one princess at the ball, someone has to go home and clean house while the other gets a crack at Prince Charming. I figure if I was that Prince, your best bet has to be with a Montreal chickie.

Monreal has been on a high from beating Pittsburgh and almost burning the town down…again. For the first time, there was room to breathe. No going against the best, just a team that squeaked into the playoffs also. However, they were not playing like the team that killed superstars.

Actually, I’ve seen practices more exciting than this. They were playing sluggish and sloppy. After a few minutes: “hmm, that actually looked like a pass. Wait, now that looks like a shot on net, nope, was wrong there”.

What the Hell am I watching, I actually grew bored. Hello? You guys remember that this is a Conference Final. I know, surprised too that we’re in one. Really? Hello, game one here.

And then Philly scores. Crap. Maybe they will wake up. Man, is this boring.

I went on a food run and returned to another Philly goal. Halak was playing fine, it’s the team that wasn’t. Cammalleri was not scoring, nor Gionta. Gill and Subban, nada. The usual nothing from Kostistyn, who really cares which one was on the ice. Gomez was at least doing something:

being a big pain in the ass whenever Chris Pronger was around. the thing about Pronger is that he’s a dirty defenseman and we would know that shutting down Cammalleri is top on the list. However, Gomez opted for stooping to his level than a shot on net.

And then another goal and another, oh no! Out goes Halak, in goes Carey Price. Sensing deja vu from game one Pittsburgh. Here’s the part where we give him the rest and we start scoring, right? We did that last time so we should come back, right?

Hello? Anyone listening?

Montreal had more shots however no one was getting through goalie Michael Leighton, a 2nd rate 3rd string goalie who has filled in the last few games as their regular goalie went down with injury. Be weary of this type of goalie, the unknown are known to surprise opponents with Hall of Fame like skills and can be Stanley Cup threats.

However, bored and annoyed, I opted to tune in to the conversation from across my table. Was finding amusement from the loud guy coming back from a Euro trip and was talking about baseball. So f**king loud and annoying he was but more amusing than the game.

It was so painful to watch that one of us left early to miss the 3rd period. We opted for more beer and caesars. It’s the only way to watch a blowout.

And then Carey Price lets in one more. Aw crap! Who the Hell is on the ice! This is not the same team. Giving them three days off was a bad idea. Did someone take PK Subban to a strip joint on his birthday last Thursday? Who was it? Looking at Price here!

And lets another one, Scott Hartnell this time. He has a f**king perm for Christ sake. He looks like a ghetto Goldilocks. I then noticed the guys that have scored were mainly Francophone guys the Canadiens had an interest in aquiring however being French and playing on the Habs equal idealistic expectations.

How about one goal, the only expectation I have for game one.

In the end, I stood by the team in possibly the worst game they played in a long time. When they played Toronto the month before for one point I thought was bad. This was way belong bad. No amount of alcohol can erase the horror of what I just saw.

So now what, the city starts to panic. Philly is tough and strong and are riding on a high of the great comeback. The Habs were a little too comfortable in hopes of not playing a 3rd consecutive game seven. They thought it was going to be easy…

but remember, these guys have taken the road most travelled, nothing has been easy.

Before thinking it was all Halak and throw in Price into the fire, it wasn’t him at all. He played great, he was more the team than the actual team. It’s time to regroup, throw him back in and not have these crazy delusions of a Stanley Cup. Sounds great but we can’t be all talk and no action here. Notice that no other team is the favorite to win it all, no series has swept and it’s all fair game, whether you’re first or eighth place. I did pick Montreal in 6 games for a reason, the 1st time I pick them to win. The team of destiny has a lot of work to do in order to get some respect.

However, quoting the loud guy who wouldn’t shut up: their play was sheer ghettoness.

another round, another party

We did it again!   And we made Sidney Crosby cry a little.

Seeing the footage of a defeated man in the locker room, not even a trace of a full beard (or even close enough) explaining to the media what happened, keeping composure.   You can see the tears ready, the voice hesitant. Sidney Crosby is a mere moral, not the kid who scored the overtime goal for Canada.

He is now the recent giant to fall by the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs have done it again, it wasn’t about luck or hard work, there is strength, smart play and the belief in themselves and the entire city that is making this happen.   Crosby is now reduced to the chant of “Crosby Sucks” late into the night.

Game 7: the one thing on most minds lingered throughout the day as we wait.   The day dragged on as all I saw on the streets were newly bought jerseys and riot cops getting ready for what may happen.   Win or lose, something is bound to happen on Ste. Catherine.   They even closed the street from traffic an hour before the game.

Before heading to the bar of choice that night, I went over to the Bell Centre at Centennial Plaza to see the teams and players that have won the Stanley Cup.   The ones in particular I looked at were 1971, 1986 and 1993.   These were the cups where The Habs won as the underdogs.   The ones where we worked the hardest with young goaltenders becoming leaders in their own right.   These goalies were Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy.

Both were the heroes of their time, now Jaroslav Halak is mentioned in the same breath.

Got to Brutopia on Crescent to be in the heart of the action.   I got to their basement where I found 20 other people wanting that same action a lot earlier.   I lucked out finding that they added TVs on the top floor so no fear of the frantic bar run.   It was still frantic as friends I was saving seats were not on time and people were asking for their spots.

Rule of thumb: in a game 7 situation, please show up on time and not treat this as a nonchalant event.   Really?!?

The other thing that was coming between me and a good time: puck bunnies.

Puck bunnies are mere girly girls who have jumped on the hockey bandwagon and are watching solely to either: 1) impress their douchebag of a boyfriend or 2) find one of these hockey players kind of hot on the screen hoping for a chance at the glory and the glitz of the game.

You guys got Carey Price and Sergei Kostitsyn in your web, you’re not going to mess things up with PK Subban.

They are ditzy, squeally and all around annoying.   Note to self: get the guy from game 3 to outdrink them, too easy.

The bar was full to capacity as 10 seconds into the game Sidney Crosby takes a penalty for roughing.   The entire building roars in anticipation of the power play.   PK takes his lead pass over to Gionta and you know what happens next.

The crew of people I was with expanded to twice as many as we resorted to sitting on people’s laps and contorting.   My friend forgets to be social as she’s hypnotized in the moment that would end up being a 2-0 lead after the 1st.

I felt for the waitress who was calm and focused while dealing with a large crowd all by herself.   Marc Andre Fleury should have taken a page from her book, he wasn’t looking good at all.   He completely lost it, letting in 4 goals on 13 shots.   The man, who stopped Detroit with 6 seconds left for the Stanley Cup was reduced to being ordinary.

Halak won the duel but needs to hang on for the win.

Each time Cammalleri scores, he pumps his fists hard in the air, showing that he has what it takes to win and to compete.   It’s not at all cocky but the man now has more playoff goals than Sidney Crosby this series.   The man, the team is beating the best…

and we spoke too soon.   There goes the shutout.   A few minutes later Jordan Staal notices one. Montreal comes back to earth.   I have full respect for Staal, who came back after getting his tendons sliced.   An iron man he is and a grinder, which I can’t say much about his teammates.

Pittsburgh could come back.   However former teammate Hal Gill doesn’t make it easy. Returning from a cut leg and the opportunity to one up his team shows why he was a steal in the off season.   In fact, Montreal stole the thunder from what could have been an easy series.   Bill Guerin is pissed, Evgeni Malkin is confused, Sidney Crosby frustated about how a number eight team that was unable to get one point in order to make the playoffs beat them by a score of 5-2.

Simple: it’s the playoffs.   Anything can happen.   And now for the first time since 1993, the Canadiens will be in the conference final.   All it took were small players, half an injured defense corps and a goaltender wanting to prove he can be #1 to go this far.

This got the party started on the street.   The minute I left the bar I could see the sea of people crowding the centre of Ste Catherine and Crescent.   Screaming, waving flags, celebrating this moment that Montreal hadn’t felt in a long time.   This was becoming destiny.

Or another reason to make a fool out of one’s selves.   There were drunk guys climbing trees and streetlights.   Hung stuffed penguins being lit on fire, which resulted in setting garbage on fire.   Beer bottles being thrown, which later on in the evening resulted in a couple broken windows and several arrests.

The strangest thing is that thousands of people, whether if it’s the hardcore fans, the ones on the bandwagon, or (ugh) puck bunnies, all wanted to be part of the party.   I had a friend with a sweet spot atop the Parasuco window, another ran all the way from NDG, beer in hand, to make it.   I was on top of a garbage can taking pics in a scene that looked more like a street party in Brazil than Montreal.   There were drummers and flares, yes, there were homemade fireworks.

So now we wait for the next round.   Good news, the Habs get to take a break till Sunday.   Great news for my liver too.   Kind of feel bad for Pittsburgh, they were my backup and loved last year’s Stanley Cup run.

But this is now, it’s our time.   Each time a Canadian team goes far and all the way into the final, I would cheer them on.   I would envy the city taking part in street celebrations. This year, it’s Montreal’s turn.

Boy, do we know how to throw a party.

I have photos of party time, Canadiens style. Go check them out at:

Nothing better than being caught in Hockey Traffic

Score one for the small guys. They did it again.

On the verge of elimination, all Montreal had to do is steal one from the home of 24 Stanley Cups.   As of late, recent versions of the Canadiens have played like they were playing for 24 beers instead.   But not this version.

Could it be the team of destiny?

Game 6: Returned to the Bifteck for a little luck and cheap Caesars.   The bar was quiet but in a mere few minutes it got packed, people wrestled for chairs and it became standing room only on the Plateau.

I watched the warm up and saw that the kid skating around the rink with the flame was wearing a Jean Beliveau jersey.   I figured that would be a good omen tonight.   The legends still watch over this team, in spirit and in the stands as the camera shifts over to footage of Mr. Beliveau looking stoic singing the national anthem.

Within the early minutes of the game, shots were being fired, Pittsbugh all over Halak.   Sickens me that he has the better save percentage but Marc Andre Fleury has been scraping the wins. Dammit!

As soon as I knew someone walking into the bar, Cammalleri scores. Yes!

Then, unfortunately, Sidney Crosby popped his Montreal Canadiens cherry.   Took him six games to finally score one.   The bar grew quiet and looked intensely at the screen as time wound down in the 1st.   Even the cops outside, just in case something happens, were watching through the window of the Bifteck.

Halak let in another from Letang, it rolled in.   This was not very Halak of him, looked a little more like the other guy from across the rink with a Stanley Cup ring and a big horse like smile. Hmm…

But then Cammalleri scores.   Back in!   A friend texts from the previous series wanted to bear Halak’s children, now opting to get knocked up by Cammalleri.

I figure better luck as he’s more accurate.

It was nothing but defense all over the Penguins, with Markov and Gill gone, we get a chance to see the magic of PK Subban.   The way he makes the right plays, skates fast and knows how to block well.   We had the return of Jaroslav Spacek as he looked like he hasn’t missed a beat and scored a goal.

Looks like all we need to to is hang on in the 3rd.   That’s it, that’s all.

The referees were on our side, Matt Cooke gets another call, whining and crying.   So what, shut up for f**ks sake.   Pittsburgh was nothing but temper tantrums and name calling.   For a bunch of guys who are the Stanley Cup champions, I’ve seen better attitudes from a daycare.

I still can’t get over the look on coach Dan Bylsma’s face when they got called again.   Classic.   Sidney Crosby as of late has been quite the whiny one.   But seriously, calling him Cindy Crosby is kind of killing my rep here.   I mean, great during the Olympics, just not here.   Or maybe I should change my name till the end of the series.

All we needed to do is hang on, Max Lapierre insured the win with another goal.   Hang on, that’s all you need to do, looking good, come on.   With a minute 30 left it was going to be ours, the Pens pulled Fleury and Halak…

let’s one in.   Shit!

The city was holding their breaths as they hoped that the Habs can hang on.   Come on, one more minute….YES! GAME SEVEN HERE WE COME!

My friend and I had the car and cruised around the downtown core to see celebrations, the cops were smart enough to close off Ste Catherine St to avoid car chaos and let the people celebrate without harm.   Cars were honking, flags were everywhere.   There was a drunk girl dancing in the middle of traffic.

God, I love this city.

So now it’s game seven back in Pittsburgh.   Do we have enough to take it?   There are rumours rumbling about the return of Markov and Gill, not fully 100% but we’ll take what we can.   We did win this one without them.   This could be the greatest game, the greatest run.   This could be the team of destiny.

You know what I’m doing this Wednesday.

On a fun note, I got invited to a group on the facebook trying to get Kirk Muller, former captain, current assistant coach and all around awesome guy, to a BBQ.   I had a childhood crush on the guy but he was an awesome player also.   He did win Montreal a Stanley Cup, remember.     If you want to join the group find on Facebook the group: BBQ with Kirk Muller.

Think about it, Kirk Muller, burgers and beer.   Yes!

The whole city is rooting, even the other heroes

So here we go again.

Immediately after the lost in game 5, we come back to the similar situation: on the verge of elimination.   The Canadiens had done this two weeks ago VS Washington, winning the remaining two games.

Question is: can it be done again against Pittsburgh?

Game 5: Back downtown at the Irish Embassy as a friend of mine was enjoying his last night before moving to Ohio for a job.   The bar was packed in part due to the UFC fights happening two blocks down from us at the Bell Centre.

It was a busy night in Montreal, the riot cops and helicopters were out just in case.

As always it’s Montreal’s defense all over the superstars and Jaroslav Halak saving with a block here, a glove save there.   Pittsburgh’s defense is all over Montreal, frustrating the likes of Gionta, Cammalleri and yes, the good Kostitsyn.

He’s been getting the shots, however not going into the net.

For a while, watching the back and forth, our drunken table started to play the food game:   what food do you name a Montreal player after. This came from when someone ordered calamari and thought of Cammalleri. Here’s what they came up with:

PK Sub, eggs and Hamrlik, chicken paraGionta, Lapierogies, Halatkas.

I know, we had a lot to drink.

Couldn’t think of anything for Josh Georges as he misplayed and let Sergei Gonchar take a shot from the side.   Probably serve him some goat’s head soup if this mattered.

The crowd started to roar when we came back in the last two minutes of play, we needed one more to tie. One more, Pittsburgh was trying to get the empty net…

Failed.   The final was 2-1 Pittsburgh.   Back to Montreal for game 6.

Unfortunately we lost Hal Gill in the process, a cut in the leg by a skate.   Another defenseman lost.

So now we’re thinking: we’re f**ked.   Game over.

I texted my friend about the loss and he still believes that the Habs will take this in 7.

In order to do that, we need to survive game 6 in an arena where playoff dreams die but the fans are loyal and hopeful.   We are missing a defenseman that has shut down Crosby and Malkin and helped Halak in shots.

We’re putting the fate in defense with young guys like PK Subban and guys trying to prove themselves like Ryan O’Byrne.

I hate that Halak is winning the hearts of the city and the NHL but Marc Andre Fleury is stealing the wins.   The Canadiens need to score in order to win.

Which brings us to now, is it a lot different than two weeks ago: yes.   Can we beat Pittsburgh when the chips are down: I hope so.

I’ve never seen Montreal like this before, it’s become magical in the nostalgia that this team can be compared to other Stanley Cup teams where we were the underdogs.   It’s made going downtown special. =   People’s faces light up watching another great save from Halak.

If it’s the first time seeing a game or the 100th, playoff time can be amazing.   Especially when the underdog plays their best.

And boy, Montreal has.   Doubted from day one, we have played significantly better than in the regular season.   We have taken away a lot of scoring chances from players that have won the scoring title in the last three years.

Now how about that.

We have played spoiler before, we might have room for two more games.   Good news: Jaroslav Spacek is back.   He shut Ovechkin last I checked.   His turn on Crosby.

Will be at the Bifteck later today as I hold a better playoff record on the Plateau than downtown.   And with that, a sandwich in my bag (remember to eat, game 3).

Will also be needing some designated drinkers as I can’t drink like Carey Price.

Whatever the outcome is in game 6: whether we win or lose, this has been quite a moment for the team, the fans and the city.   It’s 11:00 on the Cinderella playoff clock for Montreal. Question is whether we leave at midnight or keep the party going.

I really hope the party’s not over.

Believing in the lucky place of worship

Game day this past Thursday had an uncertain feel in the air.   The sky was clear and bright, the winds were slowly picking up.   I went into the back room for a moment and returned to see an angry downpour.   I watched as the rain poured violently and furious.

It was game 4 alright, either do or die.   The Canadiens were at home in Montreal and will take anything to tie the series, even an act of God.

In Montreal, religion and the sport go hand and hand. Where players perform inhuman acts of heroics and beat the odds when everyone would doubt before.

So far the 2010 Canadiens are more than exceeding expectations, call it miraculous.   However, there will be no parting the seas or turning water into wine.

However, as always, there will be beer.

Which means we need to add one more thing to the playoff guide that is now key: make sure Cindy remembers to eat before watching the game.   Was still feeling the onset of drinking Carey Price style.   Note to self: don’t drink like a 22 year old.

I figure that’s why my friend from game 3 may have douched out on me: no one likes a sloppy drinker.   Then again, my friend can drink three times as much.   Still don’t get how he can do that.   Then again, I will not try to attempt this at all.

Game 4: On my way to the bar as the sky calmed down from it’s god-like tactics, a rainbow was coming through dark clouds.   Would that be an omen…nah.   It’s taken me this long to be swayed to the Habs side of the playoff circle.   To start believing in the way the whole religion debate goes, I really don’t know.

However, being on the superstitious side, I opted for Bifteck on St Laurent.   I had an amazing winning streak during the Olympics with my hockey buddy not so long ago.   Good times.   Maybe this bar was due.   I also see that everyone brought dinner to accompany the cheap beer and salty popcorn.

The Habs were very close in the last game, however the problem they’ve been having in the series has been Pittsburgh’s power play and goals, goals, goals.

I ran into an old acquaintance with his friends who had just finished law school and were taking a break while they were getting ready to pass the bar exam in a few days.   I figure the most similar to the pressure the Canadiens would feel to playing on home ice are law students needing to pass the bar.   Intense.

Pyatt scores early in the first, however Pittsburgh steals two more in three minutes.   For the next two periods we watch nothing but a back and forth game where it was nothing but Pittsburgh.

There was a lot of bad officiating on our end which was frustrating to both team and fans.   There was a point were the crowd at the Bell Centre started to throw stuff onto the ice after Hall Gill took a late penalty at the end of the 2nd.

Strange that we’re still in this series hanging on to our playoff lives.   Pittsburgh is a lot bigger and stronger, we’re a small fast team playing a lot of defense.   However it’s scoring that wins the game.

So why should we cheer for the underdog?   I know I want to pick Pittsburgh and their winning ways, well, except for Sidney Crosby’s whining ways.   Man, he doesn’t shut up, does he.   Never realized how bad.

Well, we can emphasize with being an underdog in life.   Things can be tough but if you can believe and fight hard then we all agree that we like that anything is possible.   That we can pass the bar, drink one’s weight, pull all nighters, stop and take a moment   and see someone do the impossible.   When the Habs beat Washington, that was one Hell of an upset.

To do that twice is a miracle on its own, but when you understand what the Montreal Canadiens are about, it’s quite special.   In the last while, I’ve watched the games with people I either rarely see or have much in common with.

Barely talked with the law students, however when Maxime Lapierre scored to tie the game in the 3rd, we all had something in common.   We believed that the Habs can win this.

I’ve watched with a variety of fans and friends in the last while, some hardcore, some I didn’t even know.   The ones who’ve seen the last Cup win back in 1993 and the ones who just got into it.

Seeing the expressions on their faces, nerves of steel and fingernails bitten down to the core. Drink after drink, thinking that referee made a bad call.   Fans that need this motivation to get them going, some cases this is what everyone has after a hard day, a crazy exam period or a transition from one change to the next.

We need something to believe in.   Right now, it’s the Montreal Canadiens.   For a guy like Josh Georges, he’s not a scorer but part of the posse that has shut down Crosby and Malkin.   For Jaroslav Halak, who is carrying a team by literally standing on his head being octopi-like between the pipes. We don’t have the greatest scoring chances as Pittsburgh outshot us, but when there’s five minutes left and holding the lead by one and watching Halak stop Malkin on a breakaway…

you better damn believe that anything is possible.

On a different note: the Canadiens have decided to not believe that Sergei Kostitsyn has a place in their lineup and thus won’t be around for the rest of the series, or at all.   And thus, I have to retire the Sergei Kostitsyn joke.   Sucks that this happened, he is talented and has the potential, however not the right mindset for the team.   I guess it’s true what they say about having the right attitude.

Take note.

This was the shirt that had the winning streak

So much for having a lucky shirt. What do I do with it now?

In the last little while I’ve been wearing a grey and blue baseball shirt to games, actually it was the shirt I wore when Canada won gold at the Olympics. When the Canadiens were down 3-1 in the last series, I wore it for game 5 and they won. I then wore it until they won the series.

Consider it the equivalent of Coach Mike Babcock’s lucky McGill tie when he’s coaching his Red Wings or when he too wore it in the Olympics.

My shirt had been 4-0 coming into game 3, can the streak continue as the Habs are back home all tied up in the series? Going to find out.

Game 3: I thought Vol de Nuit would be the sketchiest bar I would be going to throughout my playoff experience. Instead, will give that honor to Fat’s Billiards downtown. The bar was seedy and full of waitresses who look more like the strippers from the strip joint on the top floor.

I already knew it was going to be one of those nights as I was getting a weird look from the guy wearing smeared eyeliner who may have done lines in the men’s room earlier.

Yep, definitely not a hockey crowd.

I opted for the bar due to my friend being low on   beer funds.   Guess what, this is the friend who won the “Guess the Overtime Winner, Win a Beer” contest we have going throughout the playoffs.   Someone is here to cash in.

I can see and smell the hockey in the air. No wait, that would be the popcorn popping in the background. It was a nice touch to see the youngster skating around the Bell Centre ice wearing Canadiens equipment holding a flame to symbolize the heritage of this franchise.

It was as classy as Jean Beliveau who as always is sitting in the stands.

Along with “Le Gros Bill”   in the stands were guys dressed up as the ghosts of the Montreal Forum.   Believing that soon enough, the shadows of these legends and heroes with will finally abode these players.   The legend of Jaroslav Halak grows and he would like to have a supporting cast.

The talk of the town had been that the 2010 version of the Canadiens are as similar to the 1993 version: traditionally not a favorite but when their goalie got hot, so did their chances.   The question is: can they beat Pittsburgh?

The first two periods were goalless, however both teams were strong.   More ice time for PK Subban, making Sidney Crosby’s life miserable.   Still can’t get a shot on net, still eating the Plexiglas.   There was the moment where Gomez and Gionta picked on the superstars of Crosby and Malkin for a one two punch.

Andrei Kostitsyn has been a disapointment as of late and along with the 4th line, has had his ice time cut more and more.   For someone who a hat trick game 2 against Washington, it’s a really bad time to be hot and cold here.

Maybe we should actually let his brother Sergei play. Maybe not, same results either way.

However in the 3rd period Evgeni Malkin snapped out of his scoring drought also.

Aw crap!

Wishing for a goal and to lose 1-0 is as bad as 6-3 in game 1.   It means that there was an effort but missed it by one goal. Hoping for a tie, maybe another round of “Guess the Overtime winner, win a beer” for my friend to guess.   Pascal Dupuis got the empty netter to at least ease the pain.

Fleury got the shutout, Halak felt like he was shutdown.

There goes the shirt streak.

We opted to deal with this recent loss the Carey Price way: get roaring drunk.   Beer of choice was something more seedy than the bar we were at.

My friend and I opted to do some park drinking over at the park right near the Bell Centre, crazy twist of fate there.   It donned on me while smashing beer bottles over the landscape: I forgot to eat and I can’t drink like I did when I was younger.

Let’s just say that my playoff drinking isn’t the same as my Olympic drinking.   Not stellar at all. I’ll leave that to my friend who is stealing beer from my purse.

Maybe it’s time to alter some traditions here, not drink like it’s the Olympics, more shots on net and maybe rest the shirt for now.   I do recall one game I didn’t wear the shirt and they won. Maybe it’s all psychological, then again if we didn’t have these then we wouldn’t have flying octopi in Detroit, playoff beards and a little prayer before getting onto the ice.

Speaking of playoff beards, Crosby: Mario Lemieux has a better playoff beard and he’s not playing.

Oh well.

Found this on a recent trip to the Eastern Townships

Sunday Afternoon Hockey in Canada: Doesn't have a good ring to it.

After this past afternoon we know that there were no excuses.

Game 2 was a regroup for the Canadiens as they had to at least take one game in Pittsburgh. The situation looked bleak after having a rough game 1 and the defense were missing Andrei Markov to an undisclosed lower body injury and Jaroslav Spacek to a mysterious virus.

I see that defense is not very clear about things as of late.

Game two would be the clean slate to figure out how to shut down the Penguins. However it was in a short amount of time as to encourage and showcase the NHL to the US market. They had to play a Sunday afternoon game on a US national network.

Now how does that work exactly? An afternoon game?

Game 2: hmm, umm. I’m at work. The misfires of afternoon games is that it’s too early to drink and I’m at work till 3pm. How exactly does an afternoon game encourage Americans to watch hockey? The last time I did that was the Olympics and they started at 3pm. Really? No one is up at 2pm on a Sunday. Can’t get out of work for this one.

I asked a friend to text me if anyone scores and at the same time I can kind of see the TV from Vol the Nuit across the way. By the way, it’s hard to serve people while my phone vibrates with a result that you’re not sure if it’s good or bad news.

Luckily by the time I finished the score was tied. Matt Cooke, the villain from game 1 scored early on and towards the end Gionta saved our asses. According to my friend via text, the Canadiens played better, however both sides didn’t look stellar.

Thanks for the 1st period info and will owe you beer later.

I trekked to the Copacabana two blocks from my work, otherwise known as my office as I usually watch games and drink there a majority of the time. The disadvantage of afternoon games if it’s a really nice day, why would anyone want to stay inside a dark bar to watch hockey?

As I walked into the bar, Cammalleri scores. Note to self: do that again later. Maybe three more times.

I wasn’t the only one as half the bar was filled. It was a family affair as some of the patrons brought their families for a lesson in what it’s like to kick Sidney Crosby’s ass. Yes, he was contained to only one shot and boy was he ever frustrated.

It’s time for you to be a man now, eh Crosby. Quit your whining and your stupid moustache, I’ve seen better fuzz on hipsters. That conquistador look is not faring well as a playoff look.

Montreal recovered on the penalty kill, going 3 for 3. They figured out a new way of shutting down Pittsburgh: exhausting the crap out of them. They were skating and outshooting and we were all over them. So tired they were, the lame excuse we used on Halak in game one.

Halak was back in form, Crosby couldn’t figure him out. Neither has Malkin. It’s a repeat of what he did last series, instead different superstars.

PK Subban became a man today as he realized that since Markov was gone (who knows for how long) and the defense had to step it up. He played more than 20 minutes and got a crash course on how to contain a superstar. Yes, Crosby may have won gold but Subban got him to eat Plexiglas.

Oh wow, Roman Hamrlik does exist.

Another friend walks in, Cammalleri scores. I love this new system.

Minutes later, Craig Adams nails Marc-Andre Bergeron from behind. Another dirty play to knock another defenseman out of the lineup. This time there’s a penalty and possibly a review for a possible suspension I hope. The Canadiens got lucky that Bergeron wasn’t hurt, he stayed on the bench for the remainder of the game. We can’t afford to lose more on defense but Pittsburgh has to stop playing dirty. There could be dire consequences.

So far there are as each team has lost a key player and are playing tougher as the series now shifts back to Montreal. Who knew we would be playing a home game in May?

Grabbing one game in Pittsburgh puts us back in a good position and gaining confidence after thinking it would be doom and gloom with the Markov loss. However shutting down Crosby would motivate him to put on a scoring clinic at the Bell Centre. Then again, watching him break a stick in frustration shows signs that the normally focused Crosby might unhinge.

And with the win on   this beautiful Sunday afternoon I went out for ice cream.

So who do I chose, been cheering for both since high school. See?

So yes, we’re in the 2nd round. Too bad you only get a day to sober up.

Because Montreal was the last to finish the 1st round, they only get a day’s rest before trekking off to Pittsburgh for game one. So Jaroslav Halak gets another week of stopping 40+ shots again and again.

and again.

The Montreal Pittsburgh series brings me at a crossroads in these playoffs as normally when Montreal gets eliminated, I would rely on Pittsburgh to pick up my playoff pieces. And here they are playing each other.

This is a tough decision, how does a girl choose? Do I go with what feels right or what feels good. Pittsburgh feels right because not only they’re the defending Stanley Cup champions, they have strength in scoring, depth in defense and on paper they make sense.

Montreal feels good right now after heroics between the nets and penalty kill were able to destroy the top ranked team in the NHL. Everyone loves a good underdog story.

However beating a top rank team twice doesn’t happen in one playoff run. Or can it?

Game one: at the last minute ended up in the most sketchy of bars, Vol de Nuit, on Prince Arthur and St.Laurent. The drinks are cheap and would end up feeling cheap as the clientele recognizes me from a few hours earlier from the day job nearby. Everything that night felt cheap, not because of my surroundings but mainly it describes best how the Canadiens played game one. Cheap and sketchy.

What a difference a change in series can make. There was hope the confidence from beating Washington would last. It did, for about 11 minutes.

Already you can feel the momentum in the early parts of the period, both Montreal and Pittsburgh all over the ice. Montreal comes out early as PK Subban scores his first career playoff goal. Got to love this guy who will be the future leading defenseman.

Unfortunately, we lose our present leading defenseman as Andrei Markov gets hit by Matt Cooke, the newest NHL villain in the last while, willing to knock everyone out for good (talk to the Boston Bruins who are out for blood for a match up in the Conference final after what Cooke did to Marc Savard).

Stubban did us a favor also, knocking Jordan Staal out. However, Pittsburgh can continue on without him or anyone. Mainly it was the supporting staff scoring while Sid the Kid would either set them up or knock someone down. It makes it hard to hate him after raising our glasses in praise for his overtime goal a few months ago at the Olympics.

Without Markov, the defense lacks leadership and direction. Was wondering what ever happened to Roman Hamrlik, I see him on the ice but what does he do exactly?

Beats the Hell out of me.

The rest of the guys are quite young, hoping Hal Gill can take it up a notch as he was on the Penguin squad last year and got a taste of the Stanley Cup. Let’s hope also Spacek recovers from his ear infection. Being down two experienced defensemen isn’t helping the cause.

You would think that after riding the momentum of beating the #1 team in the league, Montreal would make this a series. Instead, it felt cheap like the bar I’m sitting in. It felt like we didn’t belong as Pittsburgh destroyed our penalty kill with 3 power play goals. What’s the excuse, best penalty kill from last series?

We were outshooting, outdoing. The way Andrei Kostitsyn was skating, he could break out from his slump but gives away the puck and there goes Pittsburgh’s fourth goal.

This is getting too much, too many mistakes, Scott Gomez taking too many penalties. The Canadiens were getting frustrated, as well as myself.

Halak looked tired and vulnerable but in the minds of many, especially my friend who took a job where he campaigns and the hours can run up to 60 hours a week, Halak is being weak. Carey Price took the 3rd period and for once looked stellar.

I’ll be honest, these guys played like they didn’t deserve to be there. All I’ve written here are excuses, nothing but. So what?

Yes, Pittsburgh is an amazing team. I followed their run last year. Sidney Crosby has proven himself and has a supporting cast of young stars who are ready set go. But remember, so did Washington.

Hell, we even made Marc Andre Fleury look good despite a sub par first round against Ottawa. If we can make Fleury look good then we have a problem.

When I got into watching games, I read the history and what the Canadiens are capable of when you put together a group of guys with heart and talent. In the new NHL it’s not the case. Because of mediocrity and wheeling and dealing, Pittsburgh was able to build a team out of draft picks and trades and assemble the best team since the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s.

We had a solid squad from 2008 where we finished 3rd in the league and we squandered it with a game 7 Boston scare and a Flyers sweep. That team no longer exists and now here we are again, this time no one thought we had a chance until this week. I was very close to actually believing that hey, the Montreal Canadiens are worth watching.

Pittsburgh is the Montreal team I wish for.

My head says Pittsburgh in six, but my heart longs for Montreal in seven. There has to have been a reason they could beat Washington. Sidney Crosby is no different than Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin is almost Ovechkin (except for the part where he chokes). Montreal, give me a good reason why I should keep cheering for the underdog.

I’ve had my share of disappointments but I wish to believe that this could be different. Don’t want to see and hear excuses, the proof was in the last series that we can compete with the elite. If you’re not going to win the series, make it look like you can actually win a game.

Halak or Price, both are better than Fleury. They’re also a man down, we can get another from Hamilton. The rest who haven’t taken a shot in ages, why don’t you compensate in shutting down Pittsburgh’s scoring chances. I want to see a series.

Cause no one likes feeling cheap after feeling confident for once.

Montreal: where hockey, hard core parties and riot cops go hand and hand.

I guess you can beat a jerkface after all.

All day long in Montreal you can feel the tension that was going to happen at precisely 7pm. As much as we try to go about our day we knew it was on our minds. It was everywhere: online, in the papers. Even one radio station kept reminding us what today was, every hour, every time they went to commercial:

Go Habs go!

Game 7 is here, it’s all or nothing. This team was not even supposed to have lasted through game 4, let alone pull off the greatest upset of them all. I think when you have something to prove after being completely written, you end up wanting to prove a point.

And boy was it ever a point. To shut down Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and the power play that was the #1 ranked Washington Capitals.

Game 7:   Being sick left me behind schedule and doubtful for game time. I had to drop off photos and do a pickup, unfortunately since my bike was at a friend’s I resorting to using a BIXI bike,which for a cyclist like myself, is embarrassing. However, a ride is a ride.

While cruising down bike path after bike path, I would see more flags on cars and more dogs dressed in hockey jerseys. Seems everyone has jumped on the bandwagon as it could either be the last game or what could be more to come.

Where the Hell were you guys early in the series? Then again, I felt the same way.

You can see the excitement in people’s eyes as they strolled to the nearest bar, looking for the nearest TV. To have a reason to cheer, be proud and to believe. Sometimes cheering for the underdog can inspire others to think that just because you’re not the best, you can’t compete with the best.

The BIXI is not the best ride but at least it does the same thing as my bike. It got me to the bar, right?

My friend secured a spot at the Irish Embassy a couple hours before the game. He wanted to be in the heart of the action. Translation: anywhere near a party or a riot post game. Montreal had garnered a reputation for hockey riots after winning in the 1st round.

Not the Stanley Cup, the 1st round.

Since then, we get constantly reminded in the form of riot cops in front of Crescent and Ste Catherine whenever the Habs get close to winning a series. It wasn’t this bad during the Olympics, then again expectations for the historic franchise are a lot higher than national pride.

I also remembered my camera this time, hoping for a second go of hockey celebration photos. A girl can never get enough of adding more craziness on the streets in her portfolio.

We were a large crew of ten come game time. The bars were packed by then, reservations only, standing room a must. It was like that all over the downtown core. Remember my playoff rules: show up early and have someone save a spot.

Once again Washington was all over Halak. Shot after shot, he kept stopping. In total he has stopped 131 of 134 shots. Total acrobatics here, I do recommend to my hockey buddy to figure out how to bear his extremely agile children.

Give credit to the defense core who took a core of shots in aid of Halak. Hal Gill took the most with 6. Best use of a 6ft 7 guy ever.

Washington had figured out how to shut down Cammalleri however the surprise of the game was it took seven games until a defenseman scored. Thank you Bergeron.

They just dimmed the lights in the bar, this game just got a little sexy in here.

I was taking one for the team as I had a beer. Remember the avoid alcohol label from game 6? Yes, still sick but it’s game 7 for Christ sake. By the way, don’t ever try this.

The 3rd period started off with a scare as Ovechkin scored. Oh crap! Oh wait, there’s a review for interference in the crease. Fingers and toes crossed. Disallowed!

And that is how you beat a jerkface. Taking away the one think he seeks attention for. Loving the look of frustration. He is the better player, he’s faster, more aggressive yet he hasn’t gotten a break at all in this series. Maybe when it’s important for the team, he is nothing but a choke artist. Oh well.

As time winds down, all I can do is look at the clock then see how long can Montreal keep it in Washington’s zone. Come on, dump the puck. Dominic Moore scored one at the right time this time.   And then Washington scored…

2 minutes left.

Normally this is where Montreal tends to fall apart, they have done this on many occasions however this wouldn’t be a great time to do so. Tick, tick, tick…

Remembering what happened during the Olympics when they let one loose with little time to go, you can heart the hearts of every individual fluttering in anticipation. Eyes focused on the screen, people screaming each time Halak made a save or when the puck goes towards Washington’s empty net…

Ovechkin dives to clear it, the last chance he can prove himself, too late.

The bar roars! He did manage to clear the puck to avoid the empty net goal but time ran out. The upset is complete. Bring on Pittsburgh!

On the bench I see the reaction on Kirk Muller, it brings back memories of his playing days when he was on a similar underdog squad. Remember 1993?

Minutes after the win, large crowds headed towards Ste Catherine and Crescent for celebrations. Riot cops included. Camera in hand, it was the second time in months I got to climb atop a garbage can for footage of celebrations on Ste Catherine.

Flags were flying, cars honking, the streets covered in broken beer bottles. The riot cops were cornering each part of Crescent and Ste Catherine. Helicopters swirling like this was a major crime scene, exciting and crazy all in one shot. We knew nothing bad would happened however there’s always a killjoy. This time, three got arrested.

There were more people out in celebration than from the Olympic celebration. Mainly because these guys did it for Montreal, there were no Canadiens on the gold medal squad so here there was more empathy for the win. Score one for the home team that could, score one for La Ville de Montreal and it’s heavy hearted fans.

There was even homemade fireworks. Hell YES! Our reputation as good party people still stands.

So now we’re up against the defending Stanley Cup Champions with Olympic hero Sidney Crosby. Another superstar to go up against. Tough call for myself as Pittsburgh was my backup team if Montreal didn’t go far. I grew up on Pittsburgh and was glad they won the Cup.

Will get to round two later on. Still surprised for the series and the fact I can still write about this. Going to recoup as the helicopters   and honking didn’t stop until dawn.

Aw, Crazy Montreal.

the crowd in the Mile End watches a legend in waiting

Who would have thunk it, the Canadiens exceeded all expectations, including my prediction when I started this blog.   When I said Capitals in six, I was being nice thinking that the way they ended the last couple weeks of the season was what things were to come against the #1 team in the NHL.

Glad I was wrong, best game ever! One for the ages!

Game 6: Almost didn’t happened for me. I got back from Toronto happy and drunk as I can be. After a weekend of photojournalists and crazy scheduling my body couldn’t take anymore of the abuse and got sick.

It could be the virus that knocked Spacek out, or a bad case of the Ovechkins. I hope I don’t turn into a jerkface.

I literally passed out all day and wasn’t sure if I had the strength to see whether or not the Canadiens can either pull off the win or crap out. It wasn’t looking good for them as they haven’t won at the Bell Centre in the last 12 playoff games. What makes one think that this game could be different?

I walked around Outremont with a friend to get fresh air and medication and felt a vibe in the air. A kid skating down the block wearing  a Canadiens jersey, college guys buying a six pack on their way to the apartment of the only one from the crew who has cable.   Cafes talking pregame and what may happen.   Was at a greasy spoon for breakfast when word got out PK Subban got the call.

PK Subban is the future of defensemen in this town and we needed him for game 6.   He’s currently an all star from our farm team developing his skills. In light of what I said about our defense, I’m thinking: it’s about time!

The city was rumbling in anticipation of whether or not we win or lose, the Canadiens haven’t made this easy for Washington. Still pointless on the power play, still not scoring as much.

With all my strength, I knew that this could be the last game (or not).   This game was important, virus or no virus, going to watch the game…

avoid alcohol (is what it said on the box of medication).

Uh oh. How am I going to do this?

I ended  up at Cafe Romolo on Bernard in the heart of Hipster County (known as the Mile End). They had their liquor license revoked until the end of the week so I’m in the clear for now. It was packed, weird knowing that it was a sea of dark rimmed glasses, tight pants and asymmetrical haircuts filling up the space. More than any sports bar I’ve been  in these last few games.

Washington was all over the Habs in the first 5 shots, Jaroslav Halak was key here, stopping all shots. Bell Centre fans were waving white towels in support, hoping to not use them to wipe tears if it didn’t go their way.

Cammalleri scores! The city roars. A couple minutes later PK passes one to (guess who again) and we’re up 2-0.   The kid is alright, he’s definitely a keeper. If we set him in the right direction, he could be a top defenseman in the league.

As what we hoped for goalie Carey Price, sitting on the bench while right next to him, Joel Bouchard from RDS hand gestures and annoys us with his commentary. We can still like Price if he did us the favor and smacked Bouchard with his blocker!

While feeling weak, the Habs played their strongest period. Passes were fast, no chippines. Good competitive hockey, it was starting to feel like the Olympics again.

It became standing room only  in hipster county, the bar was running out of space with those able to grow better mustaches than Sidney Crosby. Sorry Sid, you can’t grow a sleaze ‘stache.

Meanwhile, Ovechkin (grizzly looking) looked solemn as he normally has a bag of tricks at the Bell Centre. Halak had a few tricks of his own by making Washington’s offence disappear. Ta DA!

It was like watching a legend in waiting, Halak had been fighting for respect, for the reason he could be a #1 goaltender (whether if it’s Montreal or anywhere else). To see glove saves a la Patrick Roy, sheer concentration at la Ken Dryden.   Save after save we knew he could stop without losing hope.

The puck going down to  Semyon Varlamov, who wasn’t looking too good despite fewer shots. Maxim Lapierre was all over the net, dumping, pushing, charging. Then finally, his first ever playoff goal.

Then a few minutes later another penalty for diving. I don’t know what was going on with the officiating or the way we were trying to recover the puck but it was looking more like a swimming pool than game 6.

Another glove save, another run in with the net. Washington in total had fired 54 shots at Halak, he stopped 53, setting a new mark for Canadiens goaltenders. Eat this Dryden! Game 7 here we come!

My hockey buddy  texted that he wanted to bear Halak’s children. Yes, next to  impossible but after watching the way Halak was able to handle the puck and stop the likes of Ovechkin and Backstrom and this series alone, anything can happen. Break out the turkey baster!

The bar in hipster county cleared out in joy and hope for game 7 and the warm memories of game 6.   I could hear the downtown core cheering on my way home. Passed by a car with kids flying Habs flags and honking into the quiet suburbs. My facebook clogged with laments of Jaroslav Halak. My favorite being “Montreal’s got a Halak-Hard-On” .

But wait, be shouldn’t have any premature expectations here.   There is a game 7 to play on Wednesday.

Before we start thinking Stanley Cup or legends or anything that would make us look like Toronto Maple Leaf fans, we do have one more game to go. It was one game, if we can do this for game 7 then I think we can start talking serious here.

Washington might use this to fuel the fire, Ovechkin could go into super jerkface mode and score 5 goals or something. We got to keep the momentum going, that game 6 had been our best game ever. To hold the fort, to keep the lead, to see a legend (if he can pull off game 7) in the making.

But in the meantime, let’s do this one game, one period at a time. Now, I’m going to pass out now. Still sick as a dog but have a good reason to get well soon.

I don’t want us to get any premature celebrations here, not a fun thing to clean up here.

These "heroes" were all over Toronto. REALLY?!?

We won but it was weird. Enough said.

It wasn’t a weird win but it was a weird place to watch the win. Game 5 was on the road in both ways. The Habs were back in Washington to ease the pressures of hometown expectations. I, on the other hand, was at a conference in Toronto.

Yes, I was going to watch the game in possibly the worst playoff city of them all.

Toronto is known to be a great disappointment when in comes to hockey. The Maple Leafs haven’t seen glory in, hmm…you know, I don’t think I can think that far back.

I do recall one time watching a habs game in Toronto. Was on an assignment to cover Canadian Music week, a friend of mine also had time off and was in Toronto also. We found a place (the only place to show a Canadiens game) called Kilgours on Bloor. We opted for beer and breakfast during a matinee against the Ducks. The minute the Leafs game was on, everyone cleared the room. Good times.

Too bad my friend now is a jerkface. This is where the Ovechkin term comes from.

Was schmoozing with photographers and editors, a great way to advance my career. At the same time texting anyone with a score and convincing my friend (an ex Montrealer) to leave his apartment and watch game 5 with me.   My first period analysis is brought to you by a Montrealer avoiding his essay again, thanks.

Luckily I got the text I never thought would be, 2-0 Montreal. In his words: they’re playing sloppy. Moen had one of the goals.

Travis Moen got one, when I hear his name I think of a lawn mower mowing in the mud. “I’m Moen.” Similiar to how they started the first period, sloppy.

After giving out business cards, chugging a beer and making fun of Torontians, I bolted to find a bar. There was one between where I was and where my friend lives. Went to Ben Wicks on Parliament, saw the TV and felt safe again.

Except, no sound.

Ok, this might be weird for some, I’ve seen games with no sound. However, since being a habs fan known to yell at tvs: is it appropriate to yell when it’s not your town? There was no sign of at least one person watching the game. Toronto is not familiar with the concept of playoffs. Would they be put off by the obvious Montrealer in the room?

Nah, f**k it.   It’s the playoffs.

They did a quick channel change for the CBC, apparently it’s the channel “where heroes are made.” Really guys, this is what you can come up with for the playoff campaign? I’ve seen these posters all over Toronto, depicting the sun beaming down from the heavens through thick clouds and praising which ever hockey player on the poster.

It looks like Sidney Crosby is in an aquarium tank.

Change the channel. Thanks.

My friend arrives for the rest of the game and goes well until Jerkface scores. Happens it’s the only goal that Halak was able to let in. As sloppy it was before, the Canadiens were still all over Washington, still shutting Alex Semin and the power play again.

We thought of this theory that the Halak/Price who should be the #1 goalie debate compensates for the “Habs have no defense except for Markov” debate. Think about it, we have guys that can score. We have solid goaltending no matter what, it’s defense we have none. In the off season, shop for a defenseman or   finally bring PK Subban to the show.

Then again, we were drinking and bracing for our playoff lives as we watched the clock. Can they finally hold a lead, 2 minutes left. This would be the part where we blow it.

No, not this time. We held it. Thank god.

The bar then realized, yes! A couple of Montrealers.

So it’s game 6, this is how far I predicted a couple of entries ago. The question lies if they have enough to go the distance or this is how far we can go. We haven’t won at home in over 12 playoff games and Alex the Jerkface likes to hot dog it at the Bell Centre, sometimes with some fries on the side and a 9 dollar beer before game time.

Asking if it’s the last game (maybe/maybe not) give me a shout and let’s do this in style. Will be around, back by the way from Toronto. Let’s do this.

Let’s prove that no matter what, we’re a Hell of a lot cooler than Toronto.