Monday, January 29, 2007

1-29-07: Canadiens 3, Senators 1

They may have lost their lead and slumped something terrible, but the Habs, it seems, are not willing to give up that 4th place slot without a fight. I was starting to think I was a little crazy, going around insisting to one and all that the team is really capable of playing an excellent game when they put their minds to it. The last few weeks, telling people that you’ve personally seen the Canadiens play really great hockey was getting to be rather like telling people you’ve personally seen the Loch Ness Monster- sometimes folks smile and nod, but you know they’re just placating you so that you won’t snap and do something violent. But tonight the Canadiens played, if not their most beautiful game of the season, certainly one of their most tough-minded. Sometimes that’s enough.

1. First of all, highest possible props to Aebischer, who made some gorgeous saves. You always worry about a goalie when he gets scored on in the first minute of a game- not so much because you expected him to make the stop as because you think that it’s gotta be bad for his confidence level. Aebi, however, let one in during the first minute and then managed to shut out the Sens for the 59 remaining minutes, which is impressive by any standard.

2. The reorganized 2nd line is looking substantially better than previous versions, although this may be somewhat distorted by Plekanec’s newfound magic powers. Latendresse is one of the Habs’ more competent forecheckers, and he seems able to open up space for Plekanec’s speed and Kovalev’s… uh, Kovalev stuff. They’re not putting up glamorous numbers yet, but it feels like a much improved combination. We’ll see.

3. Speaking of Plekanec, SHORT-HANDED GOAL! I remember when this team used to be all about the short-handed goals. It was wonderful, just because there’s really nothing like making the opposition play defensively when they’re up a guy. *sigh* Those were the days…

4. I don’t care what anyone says, I think Samsonov’s still a good player. I don’t know if he’ll ever properly gel with the Habs, and I don’t know if he’ll ever really be worth 3.75 million per annum, but with the right chemistry you can see how he could be hella dangerous. It’s sad, really, that he hasn’t found it here, although he’s at least doing better now that he’s separated from Kovalev.

5. Markov, as usual, makes more perfect plays in one night than the rest of the skaters do in a week. I firmly believe that Streit is, although far from the most impressive player around, definitely one of the most adaptable. And a hearty welcome back to Rivet, who has evidently remembered how to be a solid defenseman again. Where the hell have you been, Craig, for the last 8 games? Also, Higgins was looking much better- he didn’t get any points, but pulled off some nice breakaways that reminded me very much of his pre-injury style.

6. Do we really need to wait until the playoffs to start a rivalry with Ottawa? Because I’m beginning to really, really loathe Chris Neil- we’re talking Darcy Tucker/Jersey Devils levels of loathing. I think I could start rivaling on Ottawa based on sheer Neil-hatred. Also, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, if Spezza ever thwacks one of our goalies again, he will be reincarnated as a 5-legged dung beetle.

I’m relieved, in a way, that the Canadiens seem to be getting back to their good old yo-yo rhythm. It’s infuriating, of course, but it’s infinitely preferable to a whole ton of losing, and it gives them that dangerous, unpredictable edge that girls go crazy over. Anyway, if you can’t be consistent- and I’m not holding my breath for the Habs to discover new reserves of consistency within themselves- you might as well shoot for a strategically beneficial variety of inconsistency.


Jordi said...

I think I'm ready for the Sens/Habs rivalry. Not to mention their recent acquisition of Comrie has given me more reason to boo (maybe it's just because I'm a worthless half Oil fan).

And I think maybe my Samsonov obsession jades me from being able to give any true asessment of the boy but I loved him before the Habs signing. He can be better and this has just been bizarroworld for him. I just hope that the Radek Bonk theory is true. I'm praying hard everyday.

E said...

yeah, you are a bit of an unreliable observer when it comes to samsonov, but we're all like that with some players. some of us are just circumspect about how we express it.

the huge problem with samsonov is his salary. i think he's got a lot to offer and has been working harder than people give him credit for. but he's priced himself into some very high expectations. after all, a lot of people still think bonk is overpaid in his new-and-improved form, and he's making considerably less than sammy. it's the disconnect between the cost and the production that's the irresolvable problem, more so than simply finding a place for him.

Jordi said...

Ahaha I speak my mind - I hate the idea of dirty little secrets. I am already giving my friend trouble over her affection for Sundin. But during a regular Habs game I tend to yell at every single player on the team. In the end I try to make up for my um, pretty cruel words in a sort of "I'm so sorry baby I didn't mean that" style.

I think the money problem is completely valid. But it's mostly because of the UFA status of Markov & Souray which gets people jittery. I just start getting a bit sensitive when people start blaming losses on this kid. I guess it's more of a big snowball of anti-Sammy sentiments that kill me the most.