Monday, December 04, 2006

12-4-06: Bruins 6, Canadiens 5

Le Club de Hockey Canadien is 97 years old today. Many happy returns. And how better to celebrate than with a sentimental ceremony in commemoration of 82 years of mutual hatred? And, as befits a rivalry-type game, this was exciting in all the best ways. Had me bouncing on my couch, screaming and throwing pillows for the whole duration, it did. Here’s the weird thing: even though it was a loss, I’m still pretty happy. I’d be happier if the Canadiens had won, but there are bearable losses and humiliating losses. This was definitely of the bearable variety.

1. Why? Because the Habs dominated this game. Do you know how good it feels for me to type that? Can you imagine how sweet it was for me to see ahbabi out-shoot, out-skate, and just generally out-play the opposition? In an intense game, for once, the Canadiens were the more passionate team on the ice for at least 50 minutes. In some ways, I feel like this loss is karmic retribution for all the times that Montreal has played a weak game and won because of luck and fabulous goaltending. This time, they played a gorgeous game and lost because of bad calls/non-calls at critical moments and poor goaltending.

2. Huet gets pulled for Aebischer, a few minutes into the 2nd after letting in 4 of 16 shots. Ouch. You know what this proves? That getting the Molson Cup is the kiss of death for goaltending in Montreal. And that yes, we still need Aebischer. Huet was clearly off, letting in a couple of those head-on-rush-type-shots that he usually eats for breakfast. But whatever, everybody is allowed an off night, and after all the games where Huet has glittered behind a bunch of depressed, uncoordinated skaters for entire periods, I don’t think anybody has a right to complain.

3. No points for the team tonight, but lots of points for individual skaters, and all well deserved. Latendresse’s opening goal was particularly slick, but Ryder, Johnson, Perezhogen, and Souray all earned theirs- and hey, 3 of these were during 5 on 5 play! Although I suppose, in Souray’s case, he really had to redeem himself after inadvertently assisting Boston on one of their goals. I feel bad for Samsanov, who has terrible luck- he worked hard tonight, was skating unbelievably fast, managed some nice shots, but it just didn’t develop into anything. Also, I’m very glad that Bouillon is on our side.

4. The Bruins, methinks, did their homework before this match, because they definitely knew the Habs weak points (turning over the puck way too easily and failing to clear rebounds effectively), and exploited them with true artistry. They didn’t play a particularly strong all-around game, certainly they had trouble keeping the Canadiens out of their zone and controlling their passes, in fact, for the first 15 minutes and most of the second, I thought maybe they'd caught the Montreal-Migrating-Period-Rot. Ultimately, though, they focused their attention in the right places, and that made a difference.

Don’t think I’m not upset about the loss. I am. But really, I’m happy that I can spend the next couple of days bitching about refs, all full of righteous indignation because my team was robbed, man, that’s just not fair, that was a totally dirty check, how can they not call that shit…, rather than lamenting the flaws in the Canadiens. Next game is against Devils on Wednesday. If the Habs can shake this loss and bring the same kind of energy they had tonight, it’ll be hella exciting. On the other hand, if they get all depressed and philosophical, we’re looking at Soren Kierkegaard vs. Otto von Bismarck on ice:

Imagine the possibilities.

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