The Habs have a very special relationship with the Devils, and by ‘special’, I mean ‘abusive’. The Devils just squish them into the ice, over and over again. I don’t know that there’s another relationship so one-sided between two teams anywhere else in the NHL- maybe Pittsburgh-Philadelphia this season comes close, but the Flyers at least almost beat the Penguins occasionally. The first period of this game is, as far as I know, the first time in a very long while that the Habs have had even the vaguest hope of beating the Devils, and that hope didn’t last long. The upside, if there is one, is that the New Jersey Curse means that the Canadiens wouldn’t have been expected to win this one under any circumstances, so I can compartmentalize it a bit from the rest of the slump.
1. Huet is injured. He pulled a hamstring trying to stop
2. The gut-punch about this game is that the Habs lost it on stupid, stupid penalties. Had they not insisted on putting themselves down 3-5 on two separate, consecutive occasions in the 2nd, they could have won. Brodeur was actually looking quite beatable tonight, but the Habs committed seppuku and gave up the game. Which is a crying shame- no, actually, more like a screaming, shrieking, hair-tearing shame- because otherwise it was a nice effort on their part.
3. On a related note, Koivu is not right these days. He looks tired all the time, and he’s getting increasingly sloppy. I don’t think he’s playing without heart, as some have alleged- he can still be counted on for more passion and more ‘grit’ per game than most of the forwards. He’s not playing less intensely than everyone else, but he’s playing less intensely than we’ve come to expect of him. With Higgins and Samsonov he’s showing some encouraging signs, but he’s somehow drifted a long way from the Saku we’re used to, and I fear it will take him a long time to find his way back. I hate to burden him more, since he’s already expected to be the guy who single-handedly redeems the Canadiens from all their failings, but I don’t think I’ll regain any real confidence in the team as a whole until he comes around. Which he will. This is E’s moment of pure, unquestioning faith.
4. Tonight’s bright spots: The entire first line finished +1, a precious rarity for Habs forwards, and that can be almost entirely credited to Samsonov. Not only did he score, on a slap shot (!), but he brings some much-needed defensive responsibility to the top line. Higgins also looked pretty good, Souray did his thing as he always does, and Aebischer played a fantastic 3rd period. And they did manage to give me the one thing I asked from this game: They didn't get shut out. So thank God for small miracles.
They say Carbonneau looked completely broken down after this game, and that must be pretty bad, because to my eyes he’s been looking completely broken down after most games for a long time. There’s nothing left for him to do. We’ve passed the point of constructive criticism, there is nothing to say that hasn’t already been said, and with the current pieces available, no arrangement of players that hasn’t already been tried. The fans can scream all they want, there is no outside fix for this one. The rest of us, even Carbo, can only watch, because now, it’s all about the guys on the ice. They have to, somehow, through all this shit, find a way to play a game they can love again.
[Here follows a non-hockey-related digression. Speaking of love, although I’m not generally a big fan of Valentine’s Day, I do enjoy a good excuse to push poetry on an unsuspecting audience. So here are a couple of short love poems.]
i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh…. And eyes big love-crumbs,
and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you so quite new
My kingdom of small things
I no longer possess anything alone
I do not arrange flowers alone
I do not read books alone
You come between my eyes and my paper
Between my mouth and my voice
Between my head and my pillow
Between my fingers and my cigarette
I do not complain of your living inside me
Interfering with the movement of my hands
The movement of my eyes, the movement of my thoughts
Trees do not complain of holding too many birds
And glasses do not complain of holding too much wine
[And by the way, if you’re by any chance looking for a belated Valentine’s gift for someone, I highly recommend Kabbani- the edition of his work most commonly available in North America is called ‘Arabian Love Poems’, and while it certainly loses something in the translation, it’s still (I think) some of the most compelling poetry yet written about the experience of being in love.]