Saturday, March 17, 2007

3-17-07: Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2

You know what’s sad? I don’t have any Swedish dance-pop on my computer. Or Russian dance-pop. Or Finnish dance-pop. So how on earth do I celebrate a really fun game?

1. Many good things to talk about, but the best was definitely Halak- 37 stops, plenty of them big, another great shoot-out performance, and all made with a sort of big-eyed, lemur-like tranquility. That’s the scary thing, really, about the difference between him and Aebi: Halak just plays a calmer, quieter, more mature-looking game. If the skaters keep playing this strong and aren’t going to lean on him too heavily to pull out every win, Carbo should keep using him until Huet gets back (now there's my irrational optimisim rearing up again- I expect them to be playing long enough for Huet to get back).

2. Up front, the game belonged to Kostitsyn and Koivu- they each scored in regulation and in the shootout. Koivu’s been stepping up as the season winds down. While I’d never accuse him of a lack of enthusiasm or intensity at any point, when he’s off his game he plays chaotically and unevenly. Past couple of times out, though, fewer penalties, better passes, more shots, overall more focus. And this is clearly a big night for Kostitsyn, since he’s been collecting assists like mad since he’s been up this time, but hadn’t yet had a real goal in the NHL this season. Funny thing, though, he beat Raycroft to win the game on the exact same move that Koivu used- maybe ‘Razor’ should work on that.

3. Other notable mentions: Kovalev didn’t score, but he made himself quite the presence and took 5 shots on goal. Higgins, I think, is now so in love with the wraparound move that he scored on last game that he’s now going to try it at least twice every match for the rest of the season. I’m liking Gorges overall, he’s a very smart, sensible player, and his lack of size doesn’t seem to be hurting the Habs. It’s a shame, really, that defensive defensemen are so invisible when they’re playing well. And God help me, I’m actually starting to warm up to Lapierre, the kid can really draw the whole game around himself when he tries. Also, reason #498 that Streit is awesome: defends better without a stick than half our guys can with one.

4. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure the Habs did more hitting in this game than in any other this season, and I think at least half of said hits were on Darcy Tucker. After the game, Bouillon tries to suggest that this repeated, collective thwacking is because he can be such a scoring threat. But dude, look at dear Franky’s face all game long- he doesn’t thwack Tucker because it’s strategically beneficial, he does it for the sheer joy of watching that particular victim bleed and whine. That there’s some species of sadism, but hey, it’s also one of the few guaranteed crowd-pleasers at the Bell Center. Especially since Tucker seemed to be making a point of trying to irritate Latendresse, and everyone here’s a little protective of the bachche.

5. Why are the Leafs all bigger than ahbabi? I hate that.

Okay, so it wasn’t really the win the Habs needed. Letting it go to OT means that they’ve only tied the Leafs, not leapfrogged them. Other than that, Islanders lose, Rangers win, Hurricanes win. I don’t even want to try to calculate what all that means technically in terms of the standings, suffice to say that nothing has changed very dramatically as far as the Canadiens go. But there are other things, besides progress towards the playoffs, that make a win good. Like tension, and excitement, and a psychotically pumped-up crowd, like beating the good enemy on the strength of a couple of ferocious call-ups and a whole heap of cheerfully nasty violence. Whoo-hoo! Now, given that it was a huge win on a drinkin’ holiday, here’s hoping that at least a few of the Habs can manage some debauchery to out-scandal Dion, they’ve earned it. Although maybe it would be better if they kept any photos that may be taken to themselves…


Robert L said...

Halak has earned himself another string of starts - thank goodness! I'm hoping we never have to endure watch Aebischer between the pipes for the Habs ever again.

BTW, it was mentioned tonight that Huet is possibly just a week away from a start - awesome news I'd say!

I have begun to keep track of the 6 teams vying for the final 2 playoffs spot in the East.

I do a rundown on who has who left to play against and other scientific info simplified. I say the Habs can do it!

alice said...

The Rodent (a Rangers blogger who's been at it so long he was doing it before the form had stabilized) has his Berthometer, showing the odds for all the bubble teams in the east.

kazmojo said...

The Habs didn't let it go to OT -- it was the stinkin' refs. I know in any game, calls can go either way. And there were indeed some missed calls on the Habs (esp in the third).

But all the missed calls cost the Habs more than they cost the Leafs. On the Leafs' first goal, Souray was penalized for being the second man in the scrum. But Kilger was there as well, trying to "defend" Tucker from big bad Guillaume. And on the resulting PP, Sundin high-sticks Halak not once, but twice -- the second time almost knocking his mask off.

Seconds before their second goal, the Leafs had 6 men on the ice -- on a 4-on-4 situation! Their two dmen were trying to get off, and were probably 15-20 ft from the bench when the other two (including Kubina) came on. These two got the jump on the Habs in their zone, and guess who scores?

Not to say Halak would have had a shutout, but I think you could reasonably say the Habs should be a point up on the Leafs today.

Robert L said...

Very observant, Kazmojo - Souray's call was bogus, Kilger got the whole scrum going and went unpenalized.

The Habs have had to deal with the worst officiating all season long. The things you've mentioned are just many in a long, long string of very obvious misses by the zebra's in 2007.

I think some of the referee's mandates have totally evolved back to where they where pre-lockout. There is clarification on what certain penalties are at this point.

MetroGnome said...

Some swedish-type-synth-dance-pop for the next fun game can be found here

Electronic Supersonic indeed.