Canadiens on Senators: ‘Doesn’t matter who’s on the other side’

Andrew Hammond vs. David Desharnais (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

Give the Montreal Canadiens credit. They could have tiptoed their way around Saturday night’s game and avoided the hottest team in the league with the hottest goalie and the hottest rookie. They could have looked at the all the obstacles the Ottawa Senators posed to them and rolled over. But they didn’t.

And who would have blamed them for, you know, maybe rolling over in the dying minutes of their 4-3 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs? By gaining a point, the Canadiens won the Atlantic Division and their reward for that was a playoff series against the Senators, who went 23-4-4 down the stretch and earned the title of The Team You’d Least Like to Face in the First Round of the Playoffs. Read more

Montreal Canadiens honor Elmer Lach with touching video tribute

Jared Clinton
Elmer Lach (via Montreal Canadiens/NHL)

When news broke that Elmer Lach, the 97-year-old Canadiens legend, had passed away early in the morning on April 4, it was only a matter of time before all tributes to Lach were rendered obsolete by whatever it was Montreal put together to honor the three-time Stanley Cup champion.

Before Thursday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, the Canadiens rolled out their tribute to Lach and, in typical Montreal fashion, it was a brilliant piece of video. Set to ‘As Time Goes By’, the tune popularized by the 1942 film Casablanca, fans got a look back at Lach’s marvelous career: Read more

AHL All-Rookie team shows players to watch for next season

Viktor Arvidsson (John Russell/Getty Images)

If you don’t think AHL All-Rookie team honors mean much, consider that New York Islanders rookie Ryan Strome, who has scored 17 goals and 50 points this season, was named to the team just last season.

Strome isn’t the only rookie from the 2014 squad who has shown his skill in the NHL, either. Teemu Pulkkinen, the Detroit Red Wings prospect with a cannon for a slapshot, was named to last year’s list and has 34 goals in 46 games in the AHL this season to go along with five in 29 big league contests.

Wednesday afternoon, the AHL announced this season’s team and the list is full of promising stars. Maybe one day they will add to the list of present day standouts that once appeared on the team, including Zdeno Chara, Jason Spezza, Thomas Vanek, Mike Green, John Carlson, P.K. Subban, Gustav Nyquist and Tyler Toffoli. Read more

Dear Hockey Gods: please give us an all-Canadian team Stanley Cup Final this year

Calgary Flames fans. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Before I say what I’m about to say, let me be clear: I’m not, in any way shape or form, a jingoistic Canadian hockey fan who thinks it’s a tragedy when one of my country’s teams fails to win at the elite international level, or who believes the number of Canadians on any NHL roster is an accurate metric for their capability to win. Good hockey is good hockey, and hockey fans ought to be happy with any display of the sport that is highly-skilled and passionately-contested.

With that out of the way, this is a plea to the Hockey Gods: it’s been 26 years since the last Cup Final between two Canadian teams. We’re long past due for another. And this year would be as great a year as any for it to come to pass. Read more

Former Canadien, Blackhawk Dollard St-Laurent dead at 85

Ken Campbell
Dollard St-Laurent (THN Archives)

It should come as no surprise Dollard St-Laurent, who passed away at 85 today, was one of the driving forces behind the formation of a union that evolved into the NHL Players’ Association.

In fact, St-Laurent could have joined the Canadiens in 1951, but refused to accept what was essentially a two-way contract, which would have allowed the Canadiens to farm him out to the minors at a severely reduced wage. Only when the Canadiens relented and guaranteed him an NHL salary did he sign with the team. Read more

Leafs/Sens, Flyers/Pens & Blues/Hawks prove divisional/regional rivalries are NHL’s bread-and-butter

Flyers forward Jakub Voracek yells at the Penguins bench while being restrained by Evegni Malkin. (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Sunday’s NHL action featured five games, all of which had implications on the playoff race. But of those five, three had a little extra depth to them. The Blackhawks/Blues, Senators/Leafs and Flyers/Penguins games weren’t necessarily more exciting than the Capitals’ win over Detroit or Montreal’s 4-1 victory against Florida, but the regional rivalries always have a discernible zest to them that sets them apart – and that comprises the financial backbone of the league’s most profitable teams.

The Leafs’ season has been abysmal and both their players and fans have looked like they’d checked out of things weeks ago, but Toronto’s players and fans got an emotional jolt in a 2-1 shootout win that dealt Ottawa’s playoff hopes a serious blow. The Flyers did more or less the same thing to the Penguins, only Philadelphia needed just three periods to squash the Pens 4-1 and jeopardize Pittsburgh’s post-season hopes. And the Blues and Hawks have the best kind of rivalry – one in which both teams are headed to the playoffs this year and are jousting for top spot in their division.

Sorry, Detroit vs. Washington and Montreal vs. Florida, but you’re going to have an uphill battle trying to replicate the emotion seen in those type of games. Read more

The dangers of the final few games before playoffs: Habs lose Max Pacioretty after head injury against Panthers

Adam Proteau
Max Pacioretty is helped off the ice after suffering an injury against Florida. (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

These final few games of the NHL’s regular season are nervous times for teams for many reasons. For one thing, teams are still jockeying for playoff position; but there’s always a free-floating fear among teams that one of their key players will suffer a serious injury that cripples their odds of post-season success. And you know that’s what was going through the minds of Montreal Canadiens management, players and fans Sunday after the Habs lost leading scorer Max Pacioretty to a head injury.

Pacioretty, who has more goals (37) and points (67) than any other Montreal player this year, was knocked out of the Canadiens’ road game against Florida early in the first period after a check from Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov sent him toward the end boards, where the left winger struck his head: Read more

Montreal Canadiens legend Elmer Lach passes away at 97

Jared Clinton
Elmer Lach (left) stands with Andrei Markov during his jersey retirement ceremony. (Francois Lacasse/Getty Images)

Saturday morning, the Montreal Canadiens lost one of the legendary players in the franchise’s history. Elmer Lach, who centered the Canadiens’ famed Punch Line, passed away at 97 in Montreal.

Lach, a native of Nokomis, Sask., began his NHL career in 1940-41 with the Canadiens, scoring seven goals and 21 points in 43 games. Over the next several seasons, however, Lach would become a prolific scorer. In 1944-45, Lach led the league in scoring with 26 goals and 80 points in 50 games and captured the Hart Trophy for his efforts. In 1947-48, Lach would again lead the league in scoring with 30 goals and 61 points in 60 games. Over the course of his career, Lach tallied 215 goals and 623 points in 664 games. Read more