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Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres go to overtime – Montreal




The Montreal Canadiens were back at home to face the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night. It’s early in the season, but it could be that only one of the Sabres or Habs will make the playoffs fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as a wild card.

Most believe that Tampa Bay, Toronto and Boston will take the top three spots. So far, with what we have seen this season, there is no reason to believe otherwise.

The Habs have surprised but they need to keep surprising, especially against a Sabres team that is right with them in the standings as we hit the quarter mark in the season.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Strong comeback spirit

Wilde Horses

A breakout season happens more often in the fourth season than any other season for an NHL player. If you are thinking that your first-round draft choice has finished developing after three seasons, then think again. Don’t give up on that player until he has finished his fourth season at least. In season one, Max Domi was a strong player and showed the promise that made him a first round draft choice and star for Canada at the World Junior championships. In seasons two and three, he struggled. In fact, in season three he scored on a goalie only five times. So what did GM Marc Bergevin know that mostly everyone else did not when he traded Alex Galchenyuk, drafted third overall, for Domi?

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: New York Rangers wear out Montreal Canadiens

He answered that Domi drives the play and Habs fans are going love his engine. He could have also answered that you shouldn’t think that a player has shown you everything after three seasons. In fact, Domi started to score at a point-per-game pace in the last third season three last year. In his last 36 games, he has 37 points combining Arizona and Montreal. Domi continues to be an absolute star in a Habs uniform. He leads the team with nine goals and 11 assists for 19 points in 16 games. That puts him top 10 in the NHL in scoring early in this season. The last time the Habs had a point-per-game player for an entire season was Alex Kovalev in 2007-2008 with 84 points in 82 games. Last season, Brendan Gallagher led the team with 54 points. Domi should eclipse that by Saturday. Domi’s pass to Jonathan Drouin was absolutely perfect on their two-on-one to tie it at one. The pass to Tomas Tatar on the fourth goal was perfect. He’s just doing everything right. Have the Montreal Canadiens found their number one centre? Domi plays better at centre than the wing. He’s a puck handler. He’s a passer. He’s a zone entry player. He drives the play. The man is a natural centre in every way. How did the Coyotes not see this? Bergevin did.

WATCH: Global’s hockey analyst Brian Wilde breaks down the key plays from the Habs

Domi is bringing Drouin out of his painful 2017-18 with a much better start points wise this season. Drouin with a goal and a helper for 12 points in 16 games. That’s a significantly better total pro-rated than any season in his career. His best is 53 and he is on pace right now to get 62 points this year. Now if he can just play tighter defensively so he isn’t having minus four nights like the debacle at Madison Square Garden. Drouin’s celebration for his first period marker showed the care, and showed that he wanted to recover from that bad night quickly.

The first line of Domi and Drouin had Andrew Shaw on it for the first time this season. It’s been a tough year for Shaw, who is looking very suspect and not contributing on the fourth line. Shaw got a chance to play with some talent and he showed that he belonged. It’s a big moment this season for the Habs potentially. They need Shaw to be a part of this. He can implicate himself well along the wall and win pucks for Domi and Drouin. He is fundamentally the right complement for these two who drive the play in the middle of the ice and are known for shooting and passing. Someone has to go get it for them and Shaw fits that role. His challenge is to keep contributing every game and to stay healthy, which has been his biggest challenge since coming to Montreal.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Habs Got Goalied

Many offensive stars to speak of after this game. Nicolas Deslauriers played his first strong game of the season. He was already skating miles and driving the play before he scored the huge shorthanded goal. It was his first goal of the season.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi didn’t find the scoresheet but he brought the fans to their feet again with moves that not too many players can do at the NHL level. Kotkaniemi with a great toe drag to win space and then fire a shot. Kotkaniemi could use more power play time, but that has to be down the road for now. He is actually needed on this team that is competing very well early this season. While Domi shines and Danault does yeoman’s work defensively down the middle, they need Kotkaniemi to eat minutes — even if he isn’t always ready for the intensity of this hockey night after night.

Wilde Goats

The Habs had a lengthy five-on-three power play in the first period, and they didn’t muster an outstanding shot in it. They worked the puck around for a clear look for 35 seconds and when it was done the open man was Jeff Petry who fired a shot that couldn’t have been more than 45 miles per hour. The obvious issue for the Habs on their power play is they don’t have a shot from the point, so defenders can key down low. It’s easy to see how if Shea Weber were firing it at over 100 miles per hour instead of 45, then the Habs could have easily been on the board first, instead of Buffalo. To show how much they’re holding the stick too tight, they had a five-on-three power play again in the third period. This time they created well and could have scored three times if it were at equal strength. It’s going to be extremely interesting to see the power play numbers pre-Weber and post-Weber. He should improve it considerably.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Special K

A difficult first period for Victor Mete. On the first goal he was the lone defender back and it was a two-on-one, but he didn’t play it right in the slightest. The rule for defenders is quite simple: take away the pass and allow the goalie to take the shooter. Mete was caught in the middle giving up both the shot and the pass. The Sabres took the pass option for an easy goal. On the second goal, Mete and his partner Xavier Ouellet were again caught, but this time it was backing up way too much on a simple rush. The Habs had a ton of manpower there to defend. While all five Habs skaters were around the zone on the rush, Ouellet and Mete gave up the blue line far too easily. Mete was again caught guarding no one with the Sabres having two players alone to whack at it until Price was beaten.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: A just result

The entire collective of defensemen are starting to struggle for the Habs. This defence was atrocious last year, and if they rely on some of the players of last year too much, they are going to find the same problems. The problem is obviously talent. The Habs do not have a first pair man on the ice for the first quarter of this season. Shea Weber will be back in mid-December or sooner, and he has to stabilize the blue line by playing the hard minutes. You simply can not ask Jordie Benn to be a first-pair defender night after night. Petry is playing too much as well and as a result he is wearing down rapidly. You see often in the past week that Petry is standing in front of the net when the opposition is scoring and he is not taking a man. Taking a man takes a lot of energy and Petry is suffering from too many minutes. When Weber returns, it is hoped that he can make his partner Mike Reilly look like a first-pair defenceman too. This is a long shot. Reilly is a one-two, but this is all the Canadiens have right now. It’s a thin blue line for the Habs and they’ve been winning with some outstanding coaching basically to ensure that with an aggressive forecheck most of the game is not played in their own end. It’s a great idea, but it can’t stop zone entries entirely.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Another win

Carey Price. It didn’t turn around for Price in this game either. Absolutely no help for him on so many occasions, but the save percentage is the save percentage and it’s not good at all. Price has to figure out how to help this cause because the club is scoring enough. In fact, they are scoring more than anyone could have predicted. One of the only holes so far honestly is the player who is expected to be the sure thing.

Wilde Cards

There is a tremendous amount of consternation surrounding Price. Sadly for Habs fans and the GM who signed him to an eight-year contract, there should be at the moment. Don’t be interested in the “he is not making the big save” crowd. They’re just angry and nervous. Don’t be interested in the “he has to have the best save percentage because he makes the most” crowd. That is simply not how this works. You get paid for your years of service. If you want to just always trade a player away as soon as he becomes an unrestricted free agent, then that’s an entirely different hockey team-building strategy and a different discussion for another day. What you need to be interested in are the simple statistics and only the statistics. Here is where all discussions should start and end: at the cold hard facts of the matter and those facts are completely not supportive of Price — but the sample size is small, so those facts can still change rapidly.

WATCH: Long-time Habs journalist Pat Hickey discusses his new book chronicling more than five decades of inside access

There could easily be a long discussion about the more complex analytics with high-danger chances and the heat map shot location. Those numbers are not supportive of Price in any way. But let’s keep this simple and look at the basic number that matters and tells an accurate story: it’s save percentage — and it’s bad. It’s very bad. Price was at .901 this season before the game against the Sabres and with a difficult game allowing six goals on 31 shots, Price now has a save percentage of .892. Now, that is not worth noting if every goalie is struggling because of the equipment changes. However, Price is among the worst in the league in save percentage. Price is 35th in the NHL. He had a poor season last year as well. In fact, Antti Niemi was clearly the better goalie for the Habs last season. Price has been a world-class goalie for a long time — the best save percentage for the last five years – but one can not ignore last year and this season so far either. The positive is these tough spells don’t tend to last for Price but it is time for this one to end. 

The Habs have lost two forwards for an extended period. The Paul Byron injury is more serious than first thought. Head coach Claude Julien said Byron is now listed as week to week. Also, the MRI is back on the injury suffered in New York City on Tuesday night and he has a knee injury that will keep him out for six to eight weeks. The Habs also said that Noah Juulsen has been playing with a nagging injury, which may explain his poorer play after an outstanding start. The head coach rested him as a result and brought in Karl Alzner. It was Kenny Agostino who dressed in the spot of Armia. Tomas Plekanec has also been out with a bad back. Despite all of this, Nikita Scherbak remains in Laval purgatory though he must be brought back soon from his conditioning stint or he will have to be put on waivers. Clearly, he will get a chance to play before long.

© 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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