Habs lose opener in Season That Isn’t

Suffering Canadiens withdrawal? The Gazette has the answer with the ultimate fantasy experience as beat writer Pat Hickey, Gazette techie Eric Tobon and assorted friends around the National Hockey League produce The Season That Isn’t by simulcasting the games on the EA Sports NHL 13 game. Here’s how things might have looked in Thursday’s season opener against the Ottawa Senators.

The Gazette

The penalty kill was one of the few bright spots for the Canadiens last season, but it got off to a shaky start in Thursday night’s season opener at the Bell Centre.

Erik Karlsson gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 victory when he scored a power-play goal at 4:58 of the third period. Jason Spezza opened the scoring for Ottawa with a power-play goal, while — surprise! — Scott Gomez scored for the Canadiens.

The Senators were handed a golden opportunity when defenceman Alexei Emelin received a major penalty for driving Spezza into the boards on the opening shift of the third period. There was less than a minute remaining in the penalty when Karlsson, the Norris Trophy winner, beat a screened Carey Price.

“Karlsson showed why he’s the top scoring defenceman in the league,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “No goaltender was going to stop that shot. We put ourselves in a bad position with penalties and we have to move bodies in front of the net so Carey has a chance.

“Emelin is a physical player, and I like that,” Therrien added. “I thought it was a borderline hit, but he has to be aware of his position on the ice.”

The first Ottawa goal was pure magic from veteran Daniel Alfredsson, who has averaged better than a point a game against the Canadiens. After Price stopped Karlsson’s first-period drive from the point, Alfredsson one-timed the rebound to a wide-open Spezza for a 1-0 lead.

Gomez, who has become Therrien’s No. 1 reclamation project, may have benefited from the fact nobody expects him to shoot. He was left alone at the side of the net and buried a perfect pass from Brian Gionta at 15:51 of the first period to tie the score.

“Gomer didn’t even have to work on that goal,” Gionta said with a grin. “My kid could have scored on that play.”

Said Gomez, who went more than a year between goals before he scored on Feb. 9 last season: “I guess they’ll have to start a new pool on when I’m going to score my next goal.”  

Gomez, who scored only two goals last season, has been moved from centre to play left wing on a line with Gionta and Tomas Plekanec. They accounted for six of the Canadiens’ 30 shots against Craig Anderson.

Defenceman Andrei Markov showed no ill effects from multiple knee surgeries over the past seasons. He played a shade under 20 minutes, but it was impossible to judge his effectiveness as the quarterback on the power play. The Canadiens drew only one penalty, but the advantage was negated when a sloppy line change resulted in a too-many-men penalty.

The game marked the first time the Canadiens have opened at home since 1999. The announced crowd was a sellout of 21,273, but there were pockets of empty seats, which may have been a reflection of the lockout or a lingering disenchantment with last year’s performance.

Notes – Colby Armstrong is out for 7-10 days with a pulled hamstring. … The Canadiens are on the road Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. … In the EA Sports simulation of Thursday’s game (easports.com/nhl), with the unsigned Mathieu Darche and the injured Rene Bourque both in the Montreal lineup, the Canadiens beat the Senators 5-3 with both Darche and Bourque scoring.

The Tournee des Joeurs game in Quebec City Thursday night featuring locked-out NHL players, drew a sparse crowd of 5,600. You can read Pat Hickey’s column on the game by clicking here.

You can read Brenda Branswell’s story about how the first official night without hockey at the Bell Centre on Thursday had an impact on local restaurants and bars by clicking here.

You can also check out our interactive graphic on the sweater Max Pacioretty is wearing in the Swiss A league, which makes him look like a billboard on skates, by clicking here.


  1. Yup, it is a sad state of affairs when my wife’s union after working over a year without a contract, just agreed with the state, both sides giving in. Teachers can be replaced. Hockey players can’t at the NHL level. Yet the league does treat them like cattle. So why doesn’t the NHLPA just start up another league and then they’ll have leverage!
    It says a great deal about the arrogance and indifference that the gnome Buttman and narcissist Fehr can’t and couldn’t get a deal done in over a years time when it isn’t a necessary service or product. They both are crying poor for losing money over a self imposed lockout. So please Buttman, don’t look for sympathy from anyone when hockey should be going on as well as negotiations. Even the acrimony of the States and their public workers could get past their differences and get a contract signed. Something the NHL and it’s arrogant, out-of-touch owners (for the most part) need to beat the spoiled players or keep the business closed. In any part of the world, few would close their companies to spite their employees. It’s sick, perverse and these 30 1 per-centers need to get sent a message, that they aren’t a necessary business. Enjoy the AHL and other leagues and hopefully when, sometime next year, the NHL figures out that their teams values have been depleted because of their arrogance and a deal is struck, we’ll all just stick our middle finger up and see Buttman ushered out of the head of the NHL office. Let Fehr strip him naked. I hate it when owners treat valuable employees in this way.

    Promote the Youth, Support From The Veterans and Remember the Heritage!

  2. smiler2729 says:


    Jack Edwards is a clam.
    Gary Bettman is a bobblehead.

  3. Max says:

    Is this what it’s come down to? Game simulations…..take a rest fellas until the season starts. This is sad.

  4. club_de_hockey says:

    Scott Gomez scoring a goal in a made-up hockey season. So this is what it’s come to…

  5. Hobie Hansen says:

    @ Cal – Looks like TVA Sports HD is channel 657 on Rogers in Ottawa.

    Thanks for the heads up!

    I’ve been saying since August that I’d rather watch all the prospects on the Dogs over the Habs…now that many of their games are on TV, who cares about the NHL!

    Can’t wait to watch: Tinordi, Beaulieu, Gallagher, Bournival and many more.

    Better than watching the Habs finish 13th.

    • Cal says:

      Sweet. You have time to set it up. Should be a fun season for the Dogs, just propects watching.
      -EDIT- My one to watch is Pateryn- if he stays healthy he could displace both Weber and Diaz (yes, he ‘s that much bigger!).

  6. Xsteve50 says:

    It was not that long ago that I read an article that Crosby still lived with Mario Lemieux. Is that still the case? Do you think that he is locked out of the fridge, and the remote?…

  7. Habilis says:

    While I appreciate the time and effort that Hickey put into this, I have to say that this is a very sad state of affairs. We should be dissecting last night’s game, not last night’s simulation.

    I was among those who thought (prior to this past off-season anyhow) that there was no possible way that the NHL and the PA would get to the point of a stoppage. There’s too much money on the table, the league is doing too well, they’d have to be nuts to let this kind of momentum run down the drain, the guys at the top must be smart enough to realize all of this. These were the thoughts that went through my mind in rationalizing my position.

    Evidently, I was sadly mistaken.

  8. frontenac1 says:

    Ah Jeeze.Here we go with the frickn video game sh*t again!
    Heading to the Saloon for some cocktails with the Lads,talk football and tell some lies. Saludos Amigos!

  9. commandant says:

    Just talked to the guy with the Bulldogs and ordered my tickets for the mini-summit.

    I suggested Gown and Gavel for postgame (about a ten minute walk) unless Burly has something in mind.

    Go Habs Go!
    Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

    • Habfan10912 says:

      That’s great Ben. Looking forward to meeting you!


    • HabinBurlington says:

      Buddy of mine is buddies with Tailgate Charlies GM, and mentioned we may have a gang of Hab fans in town that night. Pretty sure they could set up an area and stuff for us. I was thinking we could go there before the game to meet up. After the game, we could do the Gavel with our judgments on the young players.

      • commandant says:

        Yeah Tailgates before the game sounds good.

        However being a Friday Night and how its a big night club on Friday Nights, I do think Gown will be better post game. Somewhere we can actually sit down and talk.

        Not sure if i can do pregame as I’ll be working til 5 in Brampton though.

        Go Habs Go!
        Check out Top Shelf Prospects, my Team by Team prospect reports

  10. rnbws.ncronwrcr says:

    How about you guys put your addiction aside and lockout the league AND its players? You do know that they win if you resume watching hockey once it starts, don’t you?

  11. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …maybe it’s just irascible ol’ Me …but these Cowan/Hickey NHL12 (?) game simulations as the sole thread in HIO is extremely irritating , Mickey Mouse and a load of schlock

    …please bring back Mike Boone, for at least a half-way ‘intelligent’ and readable conversation about the negotiations and Our Montreal Canadiens

    …this current HIO schlock is testing My patience

  12. zaq007 says:

    Dang I had the HAbs winning it 3-2, loving this sim idea

  13. Hobie Hansen says:

    So No Bulldogs on TVA tomorrow night? I think the first game they air is next Saturday. That game is also on Sportsnet, I believe?

    • Cal says:

      Sportsnet ONE only. Unless the NLCS is over.

    • savethepuck says:

      I thought someone posted on here a week or 2 ago that the Dogs Marlies game next Saturday was being aired too on CBC. Did I just imagine that, or does anyone else remember that?

      “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
      Carey Price

      • Hobie Hansen says:

        I don’t remember hearing or seeing anywhere that it was going to be on CBC. Just TVA and Sportsnet1. I get both here in Ottawa so I’m content…

        • Cal says:

          TVA Sports only- I just checked the schedule for TVA and “Mamma Mia!” is on. No hockey.

          • Hobie Hansen says:

            SO there is a TVA and TVA Sports, 2 stations?

          • Cal says:

            @Hobie- Yes- they are 2 different stations. Peladeau owns it and launched it early in anticipation of the Nordiques return.

          • Hobie Hansen says:

            Thanks Cal, looks like I have more homework to do when I get home.

            Last year I ordered NHL Game Center Online and there was a huge ordeal with blacked out Canadiens games…

            This year it’s finding the Bulldogs on TV, there’s always something!

    • Thomas Le Fan says:

      He’s right. This is hurting hockey. In my opinion, the fans and then the players, especially the lesser players, will be the ones who get hurt.

  14. Old Bald Bird says:

    I was just thinking that is the players really want to make their point to the league, the stars (mostly guys playing in Europe, I guess) could opt to retire for awhile. I know they can’t play elsewhere once the union and league settle, but they could opt not to play. Let’s say they were to settle in January; key players could choose to sit out the remainder of the year. That might make the league think twice before being so heavy-handed the next time.

  15. Cal says:

    This is a fantasy post. (Use your imagination.)

  16. Propwash says:

    Armstrong injured already? What a waste of cap space! 😉

    “Access Forbidden” gettin’ ya down?
    Hold down Shift while clicking refresh.

  17. Garbo says:

    This is pathetic

  18. stevieray says:

    Gomez …scored ???…must be a fantasy league .
    He is best left forgotten

  19. Thomas Le Fan says:

    Woo hoo! Gomez! Scores a fantasy goal in a fantasy game!

    Whoever wrote this article has waaay too much time on their hands.

    • shiram says:

      Well obviously a hockey journalist will have alot of time on his hands while no hockey is going on…

      • Thomas Le Fan says:

        Well … obviously. Although in some areas if there’s no work … he’d be laid off or … locked out. Or … he could go watch some junior or AHL games and write about them. This is just stupid. Besides, in my fantasy games … my team always wins.

  20. habs-hampton says:

    You had me… right up to the part where Gomez scored.

  21. shiram says:

    Ah it’s just not the same thing, though I appreciate the effort put in this. And I thought Gomez played in the AHL in NHL13?

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