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Call of the Wilde: Winning the middle, winning the game – Montreal




The Montreal Canadiens had two line-up changes for the visit to Boston to face the Bruins.

One was a change forced upon them, thanks to an upper-body injury to Noah Juulsen that resulted in Karl Alzner getting back into the line-up. The other was a change that was a decision from the head coach who didn’t like the work of Andrew Shaw taking two costly minor penalties in Buffalo, so he was sat for Charles Hudon to draw back in.

Nikita Scherbak hits game 10 and he still has not played a single minute this season.

Call of the Wilde: A just result

Wilde Horses

There has not been a special line in Montreal for a long time and this may seem a bit premature, and it may well be in the end, but you get the feeling that Max Domi, Jonathan Drouin and Artturi Lehkonen have the chance to be something special.

The line is keyed by the Domi’s shocking ability to play the centre position as if he has his entire life. Moved from the wing to centre to start the season, most thought this was going to be another abysmal, failed experiment to turn a winger into a centre, much like Drouin last season.

However, it hasn’t worked out that way at all.

Domi is having zero difficulty with being a solid defensive centre and he is also lighting it up offensively. He’s also turning around the fortunes of Drouin, who hasn’t played better hockey than right now since arriving in Montreal. Lehkonen is the perfect complement as a player who does not give an inch to anyone and is terribly difficult to handle on the forecheck. Domi is solid defensively; Lehkonen is solid defensively. The result is that Drouin is allowed to roam freely and create with the puck like he can.

As a professional hockey line, the three of them work together perfectly. You don’t get the feeling — and this is a first in Montreal in a long time — that they can be dominated by any other line.

Domi continues to lead the team in scoring this season. This is a player who got only five goals all last season in Phoenix with a goalie in the opposition net. This season, he has hit that total already, and we aren’t even out of the month of October yet. Remarkable.

Most didn’t give Brendan Gallagher a chance to duplicate his 31-goal season last year, with most thinking of it as an outlier. Gallagher has played 10 games this season and already has six goals this year. It’s early to extrapolate on numbers, but if you were to try, Gallagher would be in line for a 48-goal season.

Now, he obviously is not going to get that number, but it is beginning to look like that remarkable 31-goal total for Gallagher is not an outlier at all. It’s easy to see him with a second 30-goal campaign in his career.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Another win

Jesperi Kotkaniemi continues to impress with his hockey sense and awareness at such a young age.

Eighteen-year-olds aren’t supposed to be this intelligent. He’s having some difficulty getting implicated in the play regularly now, but he makes up for it with an acumen that belies his age. Midway through the second period, Karl Alzner decided to go deep behind the net in the Bruins’ zone. From what we know about Alzner, there is no way that he is getting back in the play as a defender with any effectiveness. Kotkaniemi knows that, too, and he is actually the last man back, even behind the Habs’ defender, as he breaks up what would have been an odd-man rush — perhaps even a 3 on 1 — to end the Bruins danger.

This on-ice awareness just isn’t supposed to be possible for an 18-year-old.

He’s one of the smartest players that I have ever seen at his age. He is not the most skilled at his age, certainly, but the hockey brain that he possesses virtually guarantees that he is going to be a very effective NHL player for a long time.

The Habs completely nailed this pick. It took guts to pick at three-overall a player who wasn’t even in the top-30 rankings to start the season, but they chose only what they saw and didn’t worry about others’ opinions or rankings. They took the best player and he happened to be a centre, meeting a two-decade long need. He doesn’t have the puck on his stick a lot early in his career here, though his numbers were actually better in this one than they had been for possession time, but when he does have the puck, his decision-making is impeccable.

What a marvelous bonus for the Habs, who likely thought this player would arrive ready for the league in two seasons.

Credit to the entire coaching staff for the work they did on the line matchups. The Bruins have one of the best trios in all of hockey with Patrice Bergeron centring Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. This is a line that chews everyone up, night after night. The Habs bench coaches worked hard to make sure they protected Kotkaniemi and had Phillip Danault at the ready to do what he does effectively defensively to neutralize some of the best players in the game.

What’s shocking so far this season is that the Habs, who were once the laughing stock of the league down the middle even last year, have beaten Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin twice this season already, and now add Bergeron to the mix. When you ask yourself why the Habs have lost only twice in regulation in 10 games this season, look to the centre of the ice, where Domi, Kotkaniemi, Poehling, and Peca are vastly superior to what they stumbled out of the gate with last season.

Look to Phillip Danault in the shutdown role. He can neutralize some the best in the game.

Carey Price is now the second goalie in Montreal Canadiens’ history in terms of wins, with 290, passing Patrick Roy. What a night to pass Roy, winning in Boston with a shutout against a talented Bruins club. Only Jacques Plante has more wins with 314 for the Habs. That is obviously a feat that Price will attain, perhaps as early as this season, considering the surprising way things are going for this club that does not look like they’ll be drafting top five again this season.

No need to pick out one defenceman over another defenceman. Pick them all as heroes in this one. The Bruins can put a lot of goals on the board, but the Habs made it a very easy night for Price. He made a couple of thrilling stops, but overall, he did not have a busy night.

Defenders like Jordie Benn and Mike Reilly are miles better than they were last season. The addition of Xavier Ouellet, who is not flashy but solid, has also been huge for the Habs’ fortunes.

WATCH: What should happen to Kotkaniemi? 

It’s been extremely interesting to watch how talent is prevailing in today’s NHL. Look at Charles Hudon vs. Andrew Shaw, for example. Hudon was in for Shaw in this one, after Shaw got the hook for two stupid penalties in Buffalo. Shaw is a hard-nosed player and he had his time in Chicago being an influence for the Hawks in their Stanley Cup runs.

Shaw is now finding the game passing him by. He is not fast enough; he does not bring enough skill. Hudon is a better player for the Habs on that fourth line. He also has a brighter future than Shaw. This will be a difficult decision for Claude Julien this season, because he knows what it means to not upset the veteran apple cart, but he will come to Hudon over Shaw as the season progresses.

He will have to. He’ll need the talent to win games.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Late-game heroics

Wilde Goats

There are fans who like Nicolas Deslauriers, with some of the reasons being that he finishes his checks, or that he keeps the opposition honest with his toughness.

These are thoughts that belong in the year 2012.

No one on the opposition changes his game anymore, because he is worried players are going to finish their check on him. Talent is what wins games now. All four lines have to be able to bring the play to the opposition with skill. Win all of the line matchups by having better talent on all of the lines. You can’t get in a fourth line versus first line matchup and find that you are overwhelmed because you have a player out there chasing the puck all the time, but he keeps his opposition honest because if he gets mad, he can beat you up.

No one is afraid of being beat up out there.

The game has moved past that attitude. How many fights have the Habs been in this season? Exactly. It’s not the game anymore. Get talent out there. Nikita Scherbak needs to play. Deslauriers brings nothing to the game that changes the course of the game.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Overtime Madness

WATCH: Call of the Wilde: 4 wins so far

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Special K

Wilde Cards 

With his 10th game of the season, Jesperi Kotkaniemi ignited the first year of his three-year entry level contract.

This means that his next contract begins as soon as 2021. This is his restricted free agent contract that will pay him significantly more than the contract he just signed. When the collective bargaining agreement first put this ’10 game’ caveat in, general managers were extremely reluctant to allow a rookie to play game 10 of the season, preferring to push their rookies back to the junior ranks.

As time has moved on, though, GMs have realized that money is the only loss when you let your player engage in game 10 of the season. You don’t lose your player, you just pay him the big money sooner. The real difficult decision is actually game 40, because it’s on that night that a team’s rookie gets credit for a full season played in the NHL.

That means one season is used up of his seven seasons before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. So the next target for Kotkaniemi is game 40. This will be a much harder decision for Marc Bergevin. Stay tuned.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

Nick Suzuki continues to tear it up in the juniors with the Owen Sound Attack.

Suzuki, the first-round draft choice the Habs acquired for Max Pacioretty, has played 12 games this season. He has 10 goals and 9 assists for 19 points. People scouting the Attack this season say that his shot is unstoppable. Suzuki is quite likely to be a winger when he comes to the NHL. The Habs are suddenly strong at centre and he has the composition as a player more as a shooter, and more offensive.

It really is quite an accomplishment how quickly Bergevin has turned this around. The empty well is filling up quickly.

© 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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