Friday, March 02, 2007

3-2-07: Sabres 8, Canadiens 5

Why do the Habs play such weird freakin’ hockey? Why can’t they just pick one thing and stick with it? Because every time you think you’ve defined their problem, they go out and fix that and then find some new facet of their game to fuck up. For example, when they get good goaltending and good defense, they don’t score, and when their goaltending craps out and their defense falls apart, they suddenly do. In front of Huet making 20 stops per period, they’d barely manage a shot on net, but Aebischer spends a game lying on his stomach looking upset and suddenly they find 5 different ways to beat Ryan Miller. If just once they could put the two together, they might actually win a game someday by more than one real goal and an empty-netter. As far as I can remember, the only team they’ve really, honestly blown out of the water this season was the Avs, and that was kind of a special case, wasn’t it? They can’t consistently beat anyone except the Thrashers, and no one can consistently beat them except the Devils. I know they say that most teams are inconsistent, but this is getting ridiculous.

1. I do get the very bad feeling that the Canadiens’ season was pretty much decided the night Huet went down. Aebi is not a bad goalie, his worst nights are no worse than Huet’s were, but he has more off nights, and his good nights just aren’t quite as good. Huet was, honestly, something special, not just because his stats were better, but because his style and his attitude had a good influence on the guys in front of him. Huet made difficult saves look easy, while sometimes I think Aebi makes easy saves look difficult, and you might say it makes no difference as long as the saves get made, but the fact is that when the pressure gets on I’d feel better if it was Huet grinning behind that mask. Anyway, I’m going to choose to believe that Aebi did this to us tonight because he’s a sweet guy and he really, really wants Leighton to get a start sometime in the near future.

2. At least tonight gives the Habs fan reason to have some faith in the kids. Of course we all knew that Komisarek, Higgins, and Ryder are good, but there are others too, ya know, poor hardworking bachcheha who get no respect, as evidenced by the fact that everyone constantly misspells their names. Plekanec (Plecanek, Plekanetz) looks like he might be growing into that 2nd line center we’ve always wanted, his trajectory over the course of this season has just been amazing, and Kostitsyn (Kastitsyn, Kostitsin) is starting to show a lot of upside beyond speed and energy on his wing. Lapierre (Laperierre), unfortunately for me, seems bent on getting declared the 2nd coming of Darcy Tucker. But as much as he’s a total brat that I have a lot of trouble liking, I’ve got to give credit where it’s due: he makes things happen. What the hell, as long as he doesn’t do anything too embarrassing or shameful, I can cope. And Gorges (Georges), the new kid, is pretty much as advertised: A little small (who on the Habs isn’t, though, other than Komisarek and Latendresse?), but defensively responsible and good with the puck. He got paired with Souray his first night out, which might have been a thrill for the vicarious celebrity of it, but isn’t exactly a cushy assignment. I think he did well.

3. Before this season is over, I need to write an ode to Mark Streit, who is now officially my favorite thing that has ever come out of Switzerland (although I mean no disrespect to Aebi by that). Better than Calvinism, chocolate, stinky cheese, really good watches, Ricola cough drops, and the doctrine of armed neutrality. Okay, maybe not quite better than the Geneva Conventions, but close. Really really close. The Geneva Conventions have yet to help in any significant way with the Habs 5-on-5 problems.

4. In other news, Rivet-jan gets over his pneumonia and grabs a goal for San Jose (whoo-hoo!), and yet another nasty head-check takes out Kaberle- my (somewhat limited) sympathy goes out to Leafs fans. If the League doesn’t do something about this soon, it’s going to become more or less a deliberate strategy for breaking the more talented opposition in a long-term way without drawing any punishment. Though I suppose maybe it always has been. I’m very naïve about these things.

I always feel a little sad when the Habs play the Sabres, because the Sabres play so irritatingly beautifully all the damn time. Even now, with their roster held together with bubble gum and bits of string, it seems like all their goals are pretty and all their plays are well-planned. It’s as though the Sabres are performing grand opera while the Canadiens are doing a particularly ill-rehearsed version of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (okay, maybe nobody but me gets that analogy, but trust me: it makes perfect sense.), or maybe Waiting for Godot- it’s entertaining, but I can’t figure out if there’s a point or not. I suppose we’ll all find out come April.


Anonymous said...

Damn straight, E. And I mean all of it (at least the parts that I understood -- can't say that I'm familiar with the light blinding baby thing).

Esp right on are your remarks about the Habs' goaltending situation. Dear Abby is constantly out of position as he tends to overcommit. Vanek's wraparound was a case in point.

Huet, on the other hand, is somehow supernaturally always in position -- the puck seems to find the CH on his chest. He doesn't have the lateral mobility of Abby, but when his defense is clearing rebounds and protecting his weak side, he doesn't have to be.

Now with his hamstring injury, I worry that his lateral movement might be even worse when he comes back. But here's hoping his hockey smarts will overcome.

Desdemona said...

Lapierre (Laperierre), unfortunately for me, seems bent on getting declared the 2nd coming of Darcy Tucker. But as much as he’s a total brat that I have a lot of trouble liking, I’ve got to give credit where it’s due: he makes things happen. What the hell, as long as he doesn’t do anything too embarrassing or shameful, I can cope.

This is it. This is where it starts. Do you remember when you asked your readers for insight on when and why we forgive seemingly unforgivable violence when it's our own player?

You have just accepted step one: "he's a pest but he makes things happen, so as long as it's not absolutely reprehensible then it's okay".

I've never condoned the dirty plays that Tucker has pulled, but I forgave him quickly, as I'm sure you will when LaPierre returns from his first suspension.

In the meantime, he's a good little pest who makes things happen.

E said...


you're absolutely right.

what the hell do i do?

Desdemona said...

I wish that I had some sound advice, but as I'm beyond help, I'm not the one to turn to :-)