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Call of the Wilde: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – Montreal




The Montreal Canadiens have been one of the surprises of the young season with only one regulation time loss in four starts, including two wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The game at the Bell Centre against the Detroit Red Wings Monday was all about Tomas Plekanec. It was a special night in his career as he played game 1000. Plekanec started out as a third-round draft choice, taken 71st overall. He wasn’t given much chance to make it, but he parlayed his work-ethic, and intelligence into a superb career.

While some focus was on game 1000 for Plekanec, the more important focus was on game five as the Habs tried to solidify their strong start against a Wings team that has struggled to start the year.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Work ethic vs big talent

Wilde Horses

Most everyone for the first week of the season was in an uproar seemingly ready to end the career of Jonathan Drouin or trade him to anyone for a draft choice, if the Habs got lucky. The entire time, on my radar, the thinking was this is a player who is trying hard moves and that’s excellent. Skilled players are supposed to try to show what they can do. When you should be scared is when a high-talent player doesn’t want to participate anymore. Drouin wants the puck. He’s got energy in his stride. He believes in his ability to beat players directly with his stick and skating.

So it’s no surprise that Drouin is now finding his better self. He scored in the shootout on Saturday night against the Penguins, then early on Monday against the Wings, he earned a breakaway and had the stick knocked out of his hands. Drouin was awarded a penalty shot. Now considering when you have not scored yet on the season, there can be a little bit of butterflies to finally get going. But what we saw instead was a player completely in the moment without fear. Drouin skated over the blue line near the right-side boards to make the goalie Jimmy Howard move laterally, and then he fired blocker side just over the pad. It’s the hardest shot in hockey in close for a goalie to stop. It’s the dead zone and Drouin found it. Same shot twice in a row one-on-one as the shot duplicated the shootout against the Pens. Drouin’s going to be fine. He looks freer than he did last year. He’s thinking offence. Some players need to think offence and not worry about centre duties and the defence that comes with it. This move to the wing is absolutely what Drouin needs.

WATCH: Call of the Wilde: Habs season opener

Plekanec doesn’t have a lot of goals left in his stick, but it sure was nice for him to find one of the last goals in his 1000th game. Plekanec scored it not with a lightning shot or some gorgeous end-to-end rush, but with savvy. He scored in the same manner that he has done to make a career for himself — with his terrific hockey sense. He ended up on a clear advantage down the left side not being able to get a shot away, so he found himself behind the net where he did the Plekanec thing to do: he fired it off a Red Wings defender trying to get back into the play. The ricochet worked perfectly and Plekanec had his first goal of the year.

Good things happen when you charge the net and you then stay there. The Habs line of Tomas Tatar, Brendan Gallagher, and Philip Danault kept possession over the blue line and then stumbled their way with it to the front of the net. They then simply overwhelmed the Red Wings with numbers. All three forwards were all over the crease area. It was Tatar who batted it out of the air for his third goal in two games. Tatar is the leading point getter on the Habs with three goals and four assists. For Tatar, apparently, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. By contrast, Max Pacioretty has one goal this season. He has no assists and he is -3. Pacioretty can do better. Tatar already is — and a little reminder that he is only 27. He is hardly a player on the down slope. This may be a very hard trade for Vegas general manager George McPhee. He may never want to hear the name Tatar ever again. He acquired Tatar giving up a first, second, and third rounder. That’s three assets. He then didn’t like Tatar and wanted Pacioretty, so traded away another three assets in Tatar, first rounder Nick Suzuki and a second rounder. That’s three times two and that’s not how to manage effectively.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Opening night

The line of Tatar, Danault and Gallagher is the best line on the team. It was Max Domi‘s line last week that was the best. If the best line can change from week to week, you might just find you have a pretty good hockey team. The pass from Tatar to Gallagher on the first goal of the second period was sublime. It was very sweet. It was a pass of only two feet but it changed everything making it an easy swipe for Gallagher’s third goal of the season.

It wasn’t a minute later and the Habs scored a fifth bringing the crowd to a frenzy. Again, it was sublime passing that left the defence mesmerized. Matthew Peca had a clean lane to shoot, but chose a cross-ice pass leaving Howard no chance. Charles Hudon with the goal and Howard with a seat on the bench to watch the rest of the night. These are not last year’s Habs.

Wilde Goats

The Red Wings scored their first goal on an extremely unfortunate moment of puck watching for Jeff Petry. In front of the net, Petry ended up going a whirlwind tour of the crease area watching the puck go to his left and then to his right and then back to his left. It ended up being a severe case of “puck watching” instead of “player taking.” Frustrating for Petry for sure as today’s NHL is certainly less designed for him to just hold on to a man and let Victor Mete take the other man.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Special K

It was the first night that Jesperi Kotkaniemi looked like he didn’t belong quite yet. Not to suggest that he was bad, but he didn’t create anything. Not an easy feat to be without a scoring chance or shining offensive moment when there were so many for the Canadiens. Not saying his path back to Finland or Laval is certain by any means, but that road being taken is starting to get some focus.

Wilde Cards

A flu is going through the locker room to start the season. It has hit only two so far, but these things can get out of hand when the players are in such close quarters with each other. Carey Price missed two starts with the virus. He is heathy now and was the back-up. Head Coach Claude Julien said that Antti Niemi was slated to start against the Wings anyway and Price had not skated in three days, so he felt Niemi was the more prepared goalie. Andrew Shaw came down with the flu as well and missed the game against the Red Wings. Peca played in Shaw’s spot on the wing.

WATCH: Call of the Wilde: Habs impress in first game 

The Canadiens fans did the moment right when the PA announcer indicated that it was the 1000th game for Plekanec. The fans were standing as soon as Plekanec showed up on the giant scoreboard. And they stayed standing through the commercial break of two minutes. The Habs fans are so passionate and that means knowledgeable too. They knew that this was certainly well deserved and they were well aware it was coming.

There are a lot of years left on the contract of Karl Alzner. Four years and $18 million left on a player who can not get in this lineup and it’s hard to imagine that he will get in this lineup. There will have to be injuries, though perhaps Jordie Benn could falter with a little fatigue. The drama is not around when Alzner will play but what to do with him when players become healthy. Nicolas Deslauriers and Jacob De La Rose will be healthy soon and when they are, it’s difficult to imagine that Alzner will stay up in Montreal. Nikita Scherbak is also in the mix to stay up and not be lost on waivers. It’s looking more and more like Alzner will go to Laval with the improved play of Benn and Xavier Ouellet.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Plan the parade

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme




Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year




In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal




MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.


The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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