Max Pacioretty & Paul Stastny Celebrate Goal vs. Finland

……When he reaches his peak, Max Pacioretty will probably be a consistent 40 goal NHL scorer.  At the World hockey championships another aspect of his game has surfaced – Max the playmaker.  Pacioretty has been playing on a line with Anaheim right wing Bobby Ryan and Colorado centre Paul Stastny.   He has 2 goals and 12 assists in the seven preliminary games and is by far the leading point scorer for the United States.   (You can see an IIHF profile of Pacioretty below)   The US will play Finland in the quarterfinal round Thursday at Helsinki.  The Americans shut out Finland 5-0 earlier in the tournament, with Pacioretty recording a goal and assist.  The winner of that game will play the winner of the Canada/Slovakia game in the semi-finals.

.……The Memorial Cup tournament opens Friday night in Shawinigan.  Every game in the tournament will involve at least one top Canadiens prospect.  Three of them are already under contract to the Canadiens and a fourth is on the verge.  Jarred Tinordi is captain of the OHL champion London Knights, Nathan Beaulieu anchors the defense for the defending Memorial Cup champion St. John Sea Dogs and the host Shawinigan Cataractes features forward Michaël Bournival and defenseman Morgan Ellis.  The fun part of the tournament will be watching first round picks Tinordi and Beaulieu square off against each other Saturday night when London meets St. John.  They were roommates at Canadiens training camp last September

.…….Can St. John win the Memorial Cup again?  Right now they look like junior hockey’s Los Angeles Kings.   They have lost only one playoff game  – in overtime.

Nathan Beaulieu - St. John Sea Dogs…….Because of a quirk in the rules, the Canadiens can, and are likely to sign Beaulieu to a two-way contract in September despite having another year of junior eligibility remaining.  Under the NHL/CHL agreement, professional eligibility is normally an either/or situation.   Either a 19 year old makes the NHL team ourtright or he must be returned to his junior team.  The exception is a player who turns 20 before December 31st of his coming season.  Beaulieu will turn 20 December 5th.   There is little left for Beaulieu to accomplish in junior hockey.  No doubt he’ll be celebrating his birthday in Hamilton as a rookie professional.

……That same NHL/CHL agreement will probably mean no instant gratification for Canadiens fans as a result of their third overall draft pick in June.  Some think Nail Yakupov has the ability to jump directly from the draft to the NHL.  Mikhail Grigorenko, Alexander Galchenyuk and Filip Forsberg probably need more development, either physically, technically or both.  If so, Grigorenko goes back to the Quebec Remparts and Galchenyuk to Sarnia.  Forsberg,  because he’s been playing outside the CHL agreement in Leksands Sweden, could go to the AHL if he and the team that drafts him wants to go in that direction.

Blake Geoffrion

…….Bob Gainey used to say it takes a certain type of person to play hockey in Montreal for the Canadiens.  Blake Geoffrion found out just how ridiculous fan attention can become on Monday.  On his twitter account he wrote  “7 AM golf….I love it.”  That brought out the Canadiens lunatic fringe in full force with a screed of hate mail,  including things like enjoyment of golf being “perhaps the Canadiens problem” and he “should get used to golf since he plays in Montreal”.   Geoffrion was put in the position of having to justify a round of golf.    He finally twittered “I was just stating I liked golf, but yes I would rather be in the playoffs pushing for a Stanley Cup.”   One of his critics wrote he hoped Geoffrion “had learned his lesson.”   I’m sure he did, although it’s not the one the critic meant.  I’m in his storytelling,  Blake’s grandfather Bernard told him about the time fans in the Forum booed him for winning the 1955 NHL scoring championship.   They never forgave him  for passing the Rocket in the race while Richard was suspended for the final five games of the season.   As Gainey said, you have to be a special type of individual to deal with Montreal hockey’s lunatic fringe.

5 - Alex Henry - Hamilton Bulldogs Captain

…..There are many important layers making up an NHL organization; management, coaching, veteran and rookie players, scouting, farm system and minor league affiliates.    To use a baseball term, defenseman Alex Henry is a ‘tweener, one of those players who’s ability ranks in that grey area between the AHL and the NHL.  He had the size, 6’5″ and 220 lbs but without speed he became a career minor leaguer.  The Canadiens signed him four years ago to bring stability to a young defense.  A year later they made him Hamilton Bulldogs captain.  He had a two game stint with the parent club, otherwise he was the perfect description of a good soldier.  He was a playing coach and mentor for Ryan O’Byrne, Yannick Weber, P.K. Subban and Frederic St. Denis as they passed through the Bulldogs to the NHL.    The Canadiens were paying well for his knowledge and leadership (200 thousand a season) but he always held a dream, faded as it became, that the NHL call would eventually come.    At the age of 32 Henry has announced he will give it up.  He’s headed for Dusseldorf in the German Elite League.  He’ll be a very good player in the DEL.  The Canadiens organization will miss him even if he has been invisible to their average fan.

…..Final note on the unfolding saga of the Kostitsyn brothers.  Sergei, the restricted free agent, is asking for a multi year Nashville contract, something that isn’t exciting Predators general manager David Poile who watched him go from first line forward to the fourth line in ten playoff games.  Nashville will offer him a contract but it’s not going to be long term. .  As for Brother Andrei who’s unrestricted, his reputation has been totally trashed.  He will have difficulty getting half of that 3.25 million dollar contract the Canadiens gave him last July.   Look for him in the KHL next season.  At the World Championship they were two games and out.    Andrei was thrown out of his second game after boarding Evander Kane and minutes later Sergei left the game  with a dislocated shoulder after a collision with Kris Russell.  Belarus will finish 14th overall in the tournament.

Max Pacioretty-World Championship Profile