Saturday, January 27, 2007

1-27-07: Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 1

Sing to me of the team, muse, the team of ups and downs,
Who through luck and intermittently brilliant goaltending manage to hang on to a playoff spot,
In spite of stomach viruses and miserable 5-on-5 and a lack of consistent goal-scorers.
Sing to me of gigantic, disastrous losses and narrow, hard-fought victories.
Sing to me of overpaid Russian wingers and underappreciated Czech centers.
Sing to me of the rivalry with Toronto and the coming war with Ottawa,
And the downhill slope of the season.
Sing to me, muse, of your… my… our… Montreal Canadiens.

Can you tell I’m excited that the All-Star Break is finally over? Man, that sucked. That sucked worse than tonight’s game sucked. The only good thing about it was that the new uniforms made Brodeur look (and play) as though he was eight months pregnant. I consider that a strong point in their favor.

I know, I'm supposed to be depressed and humiliated right now. After all, the Habs haven’t lost that badly since, well, 3 games ago (4-0). And the game before that (2-0). And the game before that (8-3). And then there was the last one against the Devils (3-0), and the Capitals (5-1). Oh, and let’s not forget 5-1 against the Panthers and the Leafs earlier in the season. The Canadiens, my friend, do not like to lose small. They like to lose huge­. If they’re going to blow a game, they will blow it on an epic scale. I can’t remember the last time they went to prolongation. The point being, I haven’t yet exhausted my repertoire of humiliating-loss coping strategies.

1. What we learn from this is that ‘rest’ is not a magic cure for any problems. Going into The Break, the most common Habs-fan platitude was: the team needs rest. Especially Koivu, Higgins, Komisarek, Rivet, and Huet. Now, Huet has a legitimate excuse, since he had to go to the Texas Cavalcade of Idiocy and Lame Hockey. But as far as the others go, I can’t say that the time off seems to have done them much good. Koivu, I suppose, did seem to at least have recovered some energy, and generally speaking is and has been playing reliably, if not excellently. Higgins and Komisarek, however, have both lost something since the beginning of the season. Higgins is a bit slower and much less aggressive, and Komisarek looks like he’s developed a mortal terror of the puck. It’s causing no end of anxiety in the media and amongst the fans. More yoga, guys. You definitely need more yoga.

2. Rivet and Souray, as a pair, are bringing new levels of irony to the term ‘defence’. Together, they are less than the sum of their parts. They’re not defence, because they can’t clear the puck, and they're not offence, because Souray only scores on the power play when he’s with Markov or Streit. Hell, they're not any kind of fence- anything and everything gets past them. They both need therapy. For Souray, anger management. I know he thinks it’s honorable to stick up for his teammates, and it is, but the dude overreacts like nobody else. He’s a valuable player for the Habs, he can’t keep getting himself sent to the penalty box every time some 4th line rodent on the other team gives Huet a nasty look. For Rivet, I’m thinking more old-school, something like operant conditioning. If he thought getting scratched was insulting, wait until Carbonneau breaks out the shock collar…

3. It’s also clear that Plekanec has uncovered Jagr’s secret of hockey-vampirism, although unfortunately he is not Jagr, and therefore it is of more limited use. As the rest of the team gets worse, he gets better. I think he might be devouring their souls. Either that or he switched to a new variety of turtleneck, perhaps one that has 9% less drag. Whatever the cause, he’s been the Habs most reliable scorer for over a month now, and as much as I do like the guy, that’s probably not a good sign for the team as a whole.

4. In other news, ESPN surveys 141 NHL players and Canadiens fans are only ranked as the 2nd most intimidating. If I might speak for a moment to my fellow Habs fans: Guys, that’s unforgivable. I mean, we came in behind Philly. Now, granted, Flyers fans have a lot to be upset about, and the rules did say that the players weren’t allowed to vote for their own team, which might mean that the Habs couldn’t vote for us. Still, it just goes to prove that we’ve been putting too much energy into terrorizing the Canadiens and not enough into terrorizing the opposition. As a start, for games at the Bell Center, I suggest that we rename the ‘hat trick’, when scored by the opposition, the ‘machete trick’, and after each one throw hundreds of machetes at the ice. That’ll teach ‘em to run up the score on us. Sure, initially we might hit a few Habs as well, but eventually they’ll learn to dodge.

5. In other, serious news, over the break Koivu got officially declared cancer-free after 5 years, which was of course an occasion for people all over Montreal to re-read all those old articles and get very sentimental and weepy, and remember that however much the team is sucking, we still have No Real Problems. Which is, I think, a good thing to remember every now and then.

Monday night, Ottawa comes to the Bell Center for what is, ultimately, not a 4-point game so much as a 1-point game. It just happens to be the 1 point that decides who gets the fourth seed. Here’s hoping (okay, praying) that ahbabi will be so inspired by the pre-game ceremony that they won’t embarrass themselves in front of Dryden.


Jordi said...

I've just been tempted to ring up an obscure random relative and shout "The Habs are losing and I don't know why!"

Robert L said...

"that or he switched to a new variety of turtleneck, perhaps one that has 9% less drag"...too damn funny!

It's funny how everyone mentions the Habs as taking too many bad calls when I see them playing as if they are afraid to hit. As soon as the first dubious call comes, they get timid and lose their edge.

The Habs are one of the most penalized teams but I term it being the worst called against team.

E said...

jordi- who knows, maybe your obscure relative has all the answers? it's worth a shot.

rc- i actually agree with you about the lack of hitting, my criticism of souray is not so much for being aggressive but for being aggressive in a way that has absolutely no strategic value, and actually hurts the team. i mean, he's leading the habs in penalty minutes right now, and that's not what you want from a guy who's known as a power-play scorer. i think the question is what happened to komisarek? early in the season he was displaying a real gift for effective hitting, but lately it hasn't been much in evidence- he's still trying, i think, but his timing is off. i haven't been noticing bouillon too much either, which isn't good. if/when begin gets back, that'll certainly help, but i don't know how much...