Tuesday, January 02, 2007

1-2-07: Canadiens 5, Lightning 2

Happy New Year, one and all!

This was, everyone said, an Important Game for the Canadiens. This was a game they needed to win. The two losses in Florida were more than ugly, they were hideous hockey abominations that made the fans claw at their eyes like they’d been pepper-sprayed. So of course, the mid-December hot streak entirely forgotten, many of the Habs fans were starting to turn. You know that old Twilight Zone episode where there’s this impossibly perfect, happy small town where everyone gets along, and then a few appliances start malfunctioning- radios turning on and off by themselves, lights flashing, cars breaking down, and pretty soon everyone is grabbing their shotguns and rioting and lynching each other? That’s not unlike the Habs fan community: A few losses, and half of us freak out and start breaking things.

1. It was clear from the first moment that the Canadiens took the whole ‘Big Game’ idea seriously, because they were in one of their tenacious moods, willing to fight (not literally) for every inch of ice they could get. The 1st and 2nd lines managed to redeem themselves after drawing consistently unfavorable comparisons to the 3rd and even the 4th in the Florida games. Everyone on the top two lines, you know, the guys who are supposed to score, got at least a point tonight, and the 2nd line went absolutely wild. Plekanec, God forgive me for ever doubting him, got two goals and pretty much dominated things offensively, and Kovalev picked up two assists and a goal beautiful enough to make grown men weep. Well, emotionally fragile grown men anyway. And, as always, Cristobal Huet remains somewhat akin to being lost in a forest of bamboo.

2. However, it was also a night for frustrating plays. A few of the Habs did a few really embarrassing things. Out of respect, I’m not going to describe these in detail, and I hope that because they won, any footage or photographic evidence of them will be buried in an inaccessible vault and never viewed again. The charitable thing to say would be that their enthusiasm exceeded their skill. The uncharitable thing to say would be that some people may have left their brains in the locker room. But whatever, after the last few games I’d much rather see enthusiastic and careless than lazy and cautious.

3. Tonight, in the amazing adventures of Lecavalier and Craig (which is how I’m going to refer to the Lightning collectively from now on, because it entertains me), they realize that sometimes trying to be pretty costs you big, a reliable defense may quite literally be worth it’s weight in gold, and that you shouldn’t underestimate Johnson just because he falls down a lot. Moment of snarkiness: Wow, guys, you really can’t handle the stress of playing in Montreal.

4. Janik scores his first regular season NHL goal, off what RDS politely describes as a cadeau de Komisarek. Even though it’s the first goal of the game and it’s against the Habs, I’m still awfully happy because this is the guy who does the blog on the Lightning website, so I consider it a victory for internet-based hockey writing more than for Tampa per se. Anyway, many congratulations to him, and I hope he still got to enjoy it in spite of the loss.

So the reliable state of total unreliableness has returned, the Montreal Canadiens again look like the most consistently inconsistent team in the League, and it feels kinda like November all over again. Inconsistant, however, is infinitely preferable to consistantly bad, and I still think they've got more potential for good than for evil. I’m hoping for at least two more wins before the next loss- Capitals possible, Rangers possible, Devils unlikely. But knowing ahbabi, they’ll prove me wrong and do exactly the opposite.


Jordi said...

Argh, being unable to watch this game totally blows. Despite the problems with the team, it somehow makes a crazy game sometimes.

Reality Check said...

Downey face first into the boards - priceless. I picture it and I'm still rolling on the floor!

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