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Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens fall to Nashville Predators 3-1 in season’s latest test – Montreal




The Montreal Canadiens are at a point in the season where they will find out just how good they are — or not.

Four games of the highest quality opposition are on the docket. So far, they have done well with a win over the Winnipeg Jets and an overtime loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Still up are the Nashville Predators on Thursday night and then the biggest test — the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

The Habs seem to be for real. We will know definitively on Sunday.

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READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs go to overtime

Wilde Horses

Victor Mete had a strong game for the Habs in a tough barn to play in. Mete continues to look more comfortable on the left side of Shea Weber.

It should be appreciated how difficult it is to play with Weber simply, because of the match-ups and the minutes. A player like Mete has to be able to compete against the best in all of hockey, and he needs to keep his concentration and energy up for a lot of hockey every night. Tall tasks, but Mete looks more ready to answer the challenge each game.

It’s impressive how often Mete joins the rush looking to pass it off to an open man, or maybe get that first goal as an NHLer. It’s also impressive to watch Mete get back on defence after he pinches with that remarkable speed. It’s the new NHL, and Mete’s game is designed for it.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Montreal Canadiens dominate the Winnipeg Jets 5-2

There was a time this season that Carey Price was struggling badly. He had a save percentage of 890 and the Habs had to score four goals a game for Price to win. The Habs weren’t going to score four goals a game all season. They needed their former MVP to look like he once won the award.

So, with that in mind, Habs goalie coach Stephane Waite had an idea. He gathered highlight reels from that MVP season for Price to study. He wanted Price to find not only that form, but also — by viewing when he was the world’s best — that confidence.

Voila, we have the new Carey Price, just like the old Carey Price. He had a 953 save percentage in January. He continues his outstanding goalkeeping in February. Price has upped his number to 915 now this season.

WATCH: The Habs face their toughest challenge of the season yet with upcoming games against three of the top 10 NHL teams

The new fourth line gets a passing grade on opening night.

The experts who said Jesperi Kotkaniemi couldn’t skate were whispering that Nate Thompson also couldn’t skate. He looked fine. Dale Weise didn’t get on the ice a lot, but he brought intensity, too. He also seemed to enjoy himself a lot and had a little chemistry with Nicolas Deslauriers.

It’s a mystery to me why Deslauriers keeps getting chosen over talented players like Matthew Peca and Charles Hudon, but apparently Claude Julien thinks a bench-clearing brawl is going to erupt during a televised timeout. How many fights do the Predators have this season, anyway? Is this always-having-a-tough-guy-in-the-lineup a thing still? Seems it’s not a thing anymore to most hockey people.

The Habs could have used a goal in this one, not a tough guy making sure Price didn’t get run. Maybe Peca could have provided that moment instead of Deslauriers, or maybe Hudon could find a moment when he could use those silky smooth hands to pot one. It’s a better fourth line now than the one that got exposed against the Leafs. That fourth line caused the two trades that followed in the next four days, but it still isn’t what a good fourth line needs to be.

A reminder: when the Habs are truly ready to contend, they’ll have all the forwards that they have now, and they’ll also have Ryan Poehling, Nick Suzuki, Jesse Ylonen, and two or three others that have more skill than who they put out there right now every fourth shift. Patience, Everyone. This work in progress is well ahead of the expected timetable. Add to that the fact that the prospects to fill that fourth line or even second line are all having outstanding seasons and spirits are lifted. The future is going to be exciting. For now, though, these are workable improvements.

READ MORE: Canadiens acquire defenceman Folin, forward Weise in trade with Flyers

Tomas Tatar, that throw-in to the Vegas deal that saw Max Pacioretty leave, did it again. Tatar took a smooth pass from Andrew Shaw to score his 18th goal of the season. That was a huge goal for the Habs who could not figure out Rinne before that moment.

Tatar is not slowing down. He’s been as consistent a performer on the Habs that they have this season. By the way, Pacioretty has 16 goals this season.

WATCH: The Habs are back in action

Wilde Goats 

The longer a game goes, the more important that first goal is.

When it’s midway through the game and already promising to be a low-scoring affair, the first goal is almost a must. The Habs and Predators played high event hockey to see who could grab that momentum. Both goalies, Pekka Rinne and Carey Price, were outstanding.

The Habs weathered a first-period storm, and had the momentum in the second, but then Jonathan Drouin tried a cross ice pass in his defensive zone that was intercepted and reversed for a quick Nashville chance. The first shot was saved by Price, but the rebound was pocketed by Ryan Hartman, and the vital first goal was on the board for Nashville. Drouin has played such good hockey offensively this year, but it is simply going to be hard to rely on him in the big moments, if he can’t be better when the game is on the line defensively as well as offensively.

He has improved. He is working at it. You can see his frustration when it doesn’t work out after a blunder. However, it’s not good enough for a team with playoff aspirations. Hockey has two nets, and every player must take care of both of the nets. Drouin is still young. The heat that he takes from the fan base makes it seem as if he they think he is 29 years old and a defenceman. He’s a 23-year-old winger. That’s the last positional player that figures it out on the defensive side of the puck.

It wasn’t like when he was in the QMJHL anyone noticed whether he made a smart defensive play or not. He has never had to get this side of his game together. He is moving in the right direction. He’ll get there. Just not tonight.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Montreal Canadiens dominate the Anaheim Ducks

Another giveaway was the most costly moment of the game. It was 2-1 Predators and Jordie Benn had it in the neutral zone. He miscommunicated with his own player. Benn turned the puck over. Two seconds later, it was 3-1. Two goals in 2:24 for the Predators, and that’s the hockey game. It doesn’t take much to lose it against the great teams. A Drouin error, a Benn error, and it’s game over. It was a 3-1 final Nashville.

Wilde Cards

GM Marc Bergevin must be a terrible pain to trade with.

He often seems to have worn down his opposition. The deal for Phillip Danault, for example, wasn’t just Danault who was a prize in his own right, but also a second round draft choice. The deal for Nate Thompson this week is another example.

It wasn’t just a deal for the Los Angeles Kings to get Thompson for a fourth-round draft choice. The Kings had to give up a fifth-round draft choice. That meant they only upped their return by one round. But that’s not all. The Kings didn’t even upgrade by a full round of picks. Bergevin traded away the Flames’ fourth-rounder and they are one of the hottest teams in the league, so their fourth-rounder is late in the round.

He then acquired the Arizona Coyotes fifth-rounder and they are one of the lowest teams in the league, so that is an early pick in that round. So Bergevin didn’t even give up 30 or 45 or even as many as 59 picks overall, if he got schooled. He likely gave up only about 10 positions to get a fourth line centre for a playoff push.

This is basically getting Nate Thompson for free. The fourth line has an NHL centre on it now. Thompson is good at face-offs as well. These things matter when the margins are slim between winning and losing, or in this case, making the playoffs or not.

During this huge four-game test, the Habs now have only three points out of six. They’ll need to beat the best team in hockey, or it is three points out of eight after Saturday night in Tampa. That sounds bad, but to watch the games it is clear that this Habs team is talented and able. They may not be upper echelon yet, but they’re closing in with the prospect pieces arriving that will be improving the team in the next couple of seasons.

In the first three games, they dominated Winnipeg, they skated with Toronto and they had no trouble with Nashville as far as possession time. They are right there competing with the NHL’s best.

© 2019 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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