On Habs fans and the booing of the anthem

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Last night, watching the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens, I
was overwhelmingly impressed with the atmosphere created by the home
crowd. I’ve been to a game in Montreal before, and I was completely
blown away by how much their fans are into the game. There are no video
prompts, no music calling for noise or “defense” or anything like that.
The Habs fans are just simply LOUD.

Yet there are some downsides
to this amazing corner of fandom. The Canadiens fans are notorious for
instantly turning on their own team and frankly it makes it hard to
watch sometimes. The way Carey Price looked ready to just collapse at
home last summer under the pressure of the crowd and how various players
have itched to move on. It’s a tough place to place as a visitor; it
might be even harder if you’re a member of the team.

Last night, the
discussion around the game wasn’t just on the in-game atmosphere; no,
many were harping on how (some) Habs fans were booing during the United
States anthem pregame.

If you know anything about Habs fans, this
shouldn’t surprise you. If fact, it should be expected. Nonetheless,
it’s still a bit shocking when you hear it and it’s a conversation that
should never take place during a hockey game. But it does.

Dan
Steinberg of DC Sports Blog
makes a great point, though, saying we
shouldn’t really get that worked up over it.

Anyhow,
as far as things to get mad about on the Internet, this is
pretty far down my list. The Habs fans who boo are just role-playing at
this point, like American fans at a WWE event. Clearly it has nothing to
do with the actual hockey teams; the Canadiens have four Americans on
their roster, including key contributors like Hal Gill, Scott Gomez and
Brian Gionta. The Caps have the exact same number of U.S. players, and
actually have more Canadians than the Canadiens on their current roster.

The booing of the national anthem was quickly forgotten as the
Canadiens collapsed and the crowd became increasingly quiet and
agitated. I won’t speak specifically on the overall state of Canadiens
fans, since some of best hockey friends are Habs fans, but I will say
that it’s increasingly embarrassing for hockey overall when these sorts
of fan reactions get the most attention.

Serious performance: Blackhawks gain on Wild thanks to Toews’ five points

ST PAUL, MN - MAY 6: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck against Zach Parise #11 and Jason Pominville #29 of the Minnesota Wild during the first period in Game Three of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 6, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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If the Chicago Blackhawks are going to make up some serious ground and overtake the Minnesota Wild for the Central Division title, they’ll need wins like these.

It’s only fitting that “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews did the heavy lifting, generating a hat trick and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-3 on Tuesday.

Yes, Toews was involved in every goal. And yes, the Blackhawks won this one in regulation after beating the Wild in overtime last time around. It’s a nice swing for Chicago:

Central Division title chase

1. Wild – 84 points in 59 games (39 wins, 36 ROW)
2. Blackhawks – 79 points in 60 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

Yeah, that’s still a substantial edge for Minnesota … but this is a significant swing.

Even beyond the name recognition that comes with Toews & Co., the Blackhawks’ push shouldn’t be surprising. They’re red-hot in February so far, going 7-1-0 despite playing seven of eight on the road (strangely losing that lone home contest).

The Wild have played reasonably well in their own right, yet this loss sends them into a bye week with some frustration … and maybe some questions about whether they can hold the Blackhawks off.

Price didn’t just play for Habs; he made the difference vs. Rangers

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It’s one thing for Carey Price to shake off that Paul Byron shot in warm-ups. And, honestly, that bump from Shea Weber during the game. But to play like, well, Carey Price? That would be something else.

Well, you probably saw this one coming … but Price had some absolutely great moments against the New York Rangers in an eventual 3-2 shootout win.

He was the main difference-maker, although it must be said that there’s some comic relief in Byron scoring the shootout-winner.

Price vs. Rick Nash felt like a subplot of the overall story.

On one occasion, Price made a resounding stop on a Nash breakaway:

It was quite the night for the aging power forward, however, as he nailed his other opportunity.

Some might be a little sad that Nash vs. Price didn’t go against each other in the shootout, but hey, maybe the two teams could save that for next time?

The Canadiens needed this win more than the Rangers. The Ottawa Senators actually briefly went ahead for first place in the Atlantic Division, but now Montreal has 72 points to Ottawa’s 70 … while the Sens hold two games in hand.

Similar tweets might end up being relevant, however. Though betting against Price is also a dicey proposition.

Video: Laine hits 30 goals vs. Matthews and Leafs, Byfuglien battles Martin

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Patrik Laine might rub some people the wrong way with his matter-of-fact brand of swagger, but the Winnipeg Jets rookie can back up that talk.

Just look at how he performs against fellow Calder Trophy hopeful Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Back in October, Laine stole the show with a hat trick. He has a chance to do that again, but either way, with two goals in as many periods, Laine hit the 30-goal mark as a rookie. In February.

His 29th goal came less than five minutes into the game:

He then hit the big 3-0 in the dying seconds of the middle frame, though that was far from the only noteworthy moment of the clip above this post’s headline.

As you can see, there were bodies being thrown around, culminating with a brief bout between Dustin Byfuglien and Matt Martin. The earth may or may not have shook from such an altercation. It wasn’t the only example of violence between the two teams tonight.

***

It’s been a nice milestone night for young Jets scorers, as Nikolaj Ehlers also scored his 20th goal of 2016-17.

That 30th goal came less than 30 seconds after Leo Komarov‘s second goal of the contest, putting Winnipeg up 4-3 heading into the third period. For all we know, the Jets might need even more from Laine tonight.

No helmet, no stick, no problem as Preds’ Watson blocks shot anyway

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Sometimes, when you ponder a player who opts not to wear a visor, you wonder if that person cares about their health. Then you remember that it takes a certain mixture of bravery and recklessness to be a professional hockey player in the first place.

Even so, there are moments that stand out as especially “hockey tough” – and, yes, reckless – with Austin Watson of the Nashville Predators fitting both labels well on Tuesday.

It’s already brave and dangerous to block a shot with your full gear, but Watson did so without his stick and without his helmet against the Calgary Flames. Luckily, the shot didn’t hit him up high … but dude.