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Call of the Wilde: Edmonton Oilers rout the Montreal Canadiens – Montreal




The Montreal Canadiens often find their sad truth during Canadian West Coast road trips. It’s been a graveyard of sadness for years and years. So far in 2018-2019, the Habs have surprised all the experts.

The biggest surprise of all would be success in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver this week. The Habs started in the Alberta capital with Antti Niemi getting the surprise start.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Montreal Canadiens, Golden Knights matchup more than just another game

Wilde Horses

Max Domi is a star every night it seems. Domi has points in 13 of the last 14 games for the Habs as he continues his torrid scoring pace. He kept the points streak alive with a perfectly placed shot into the top corner early in the first period. That made it 10 goals on the season for Domi in 18 games. He had only nine goals in all 82 games last season in Phoenix. He’s also top 10 in league scoring. The last time the Habs had a point per game player was Alex Kovalev. What a revelation Domi is this season.

It is shocking how improved the centre position is this season compared to last. People speculate that the Habs will move Domi back to wing when Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ryan Poehling and Phillip Danault are all ready to star at the same time. Not a chance.

When a player is infinitely better at centre than he is at wing, there is no possible way that he is going back to wing. When he is producing at a point-per-game, no possible way he moves back to a place he did not produce. The Habs are going to have four strong centres down the middle in the not-too-distant future. What a remarkable turnaround for this franchise!

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres go to overtime

The Habs’ No. 1 line continues to roll. What a stroke of brilliance putting Andrew Shaw with Domi and Jonathan Drouin. Shaw was languishing looking like he didn’t really belong anywhere anymore only two weeks ago. He gets lined up with the top forwards on the team and he has come alive with four goals in his last three games.

A great line has three components: one player has to go win the puck on the forecheck and win the puck battles, one player has to be the playmaker, and one player has to be the finisher. The Habs’ top line has all three components. When some of the players on that line can bring all of the skills like Domi who can win it on his own, pass it, and finish, then you truly have the potential of a top line.

Drouin as well showing both passing and finish with 14 points in 18 games. Drouin’s best season is 53 points and he is also scoring at an elevated rate on pace for 64 points. The Habs coaches have long favoured switching lines every half-dozen games or so, but this one could last for a while. Especially because they had a player who was doing nothing in Shaw who suddenly is contributing in a big way.

Wilde Goats

Connor McDavid makes everyone look bad at one time or another, so it is expected that defenceman are going to find some difficulties in Edmonton. McDavid was flying down the right side and David Schlemko tried to time a hit against him but basically did a face plant against the boards instead while McDavid blew past him and set up Leon Draisaitl for the Oilers’ second goal of the night. You’re not going to stop McDavid by trying to keep pace with him while skating backwards, and you’re not going to stop him by trying to sandwich him against the boards. Basically, you’re not going to stop him. It’s just what scale of embarrassment he is going to cause for you. On a scale of one to 10, Schlemko suffered about a seven or eight. Normal really, against the most talented player in hockey.

The Habs have a goaltender problem. Both of the goalies are putting in about an 890 save percentage on the season. This is 30 points lower than what you need and 30 points of save percentage is worth one goal a game on average. That’s a big number and the Habs have to get better.

Antti Niemi didn’t get a feel for the bounce off the backboards for the first goal off the back of his leg. He didn’t have a chance on the second goal on the McDavid to Draisaitl pass. The pass was lateral across the crease. It is such an obvious thing that when a goalie has to go east-west, it is so much harder than when he does not.

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

The Habs are leaving their goalies with so many extremely difficult east-west shots. They’re going to fail in that environment. So while the Habs’ goaltending is extremely suspect this season, the defence is just as suspect. Schlemko and Jordie Benn on your first pair are simply facing more talent than they can handle. Add to that, they are getting more ice time than they are used to so a mental fatigue sets in as well.

While many thought the Habs would not find goals this season, the truth is, offence is not an issue at all for the Habs. The defence is the issue. It’s just not good enough. It’s not a system issue, nor is it completely a goalie issue — it’s, in truth, a defencemen issue. The Habs have allowed four goals or more in seven of their last eight games. The club, to truly compete in the years to come, needs to get at least two strong defenders more talented than they have now.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Strong comeback spirit

Nicolas Deslauriers getting a contract was the only bad move by Marc Bergevin in the offseason. He isn’t good enough. He’s out of place. He’s got to go. Nikita Scherbak is dog housed and that’s a shame. He is dealing with an injury now, but the organization favouring Deslauriers over the talent of Scherbak since the beginning of the season says everything you need to know about how the club values a lunch bucket more than a paintbrush.

Deslauriers can’t provide a thing on offence, spends many shifts in his own end on defence. Sure he finishes his checks, but it is after the puck is long gone. The organization likes that “whole lot of nothing” more than Scherbak who can provide moments of excellence on offence and couldn’t possibly be hemmed in his own zone more than Deslauriers. There has to be something we do not know about on Scherbak, because what we do know that is on the surface does not add up to this type of sad treatment. Scherbak must play. The fourth line is a mess.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Habs Got Goalied

Wilde Cards

Shea Weber is practising with the main team earlier than anticipated. It is expected that Weber is two weeks ahead of schedule. He won’t play on the west coast swing, but will continue to practice. He may be ready before the start of December. The first date given in July right after surgery was that he would return mid-December. This would be a huge boost for the club that has been without a first pair defender for the first quarter of the season. Adding Weber now, and a first pair defenceman on the left side in the future, is the most important element to the club becoming a long-term contender again in the Atlantic Division. Weber will also help the Habs’ woeful power play. He can’t come back soon enough.

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

Carey Price didn’t play in Edmonton on Tuesday night. He also didn’t play on the weekend against Vegas. It’s unusual for a No. 1 goalie to not play over a five-day stretch. Certainly, fatigue isn’t an issue early in the season. The next one is in Calgary on Thursday night, and it seems popular to let this oddity go for now as simply scheduling, but if he doesn’t play the next one, you can officially start to be concerned. It’s not as if the other goalie Niemi is hot and it’s simply a choice to go with the hot hand.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Special K

Both goalies are cold, but one is the apparent all-star, and the other was about three bad losses from the end of his hockey career last November. This season has been one of great promise for the future so far, but they’re going to need a goalie soon. There is no such thing as a playoff spot for a team with two goalies with 890 save percentages. This is not an exaggeration. It simply does not happen.

© 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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