Okay, so, I’ve got some bad news and some good news.
Bad news first: That sucked. Oh my God did that suck. I know, I know, ‘suck’ is a very colloquial, vulgar sort of verb that makes my blog sound oh-so-unprofessional and unsophisticated (which, of course, it is), but there’s just no other good way to put it in the English language. We lack sufficient active verbs that convey the meaning of ‘to be really bad’- you always have to use a ‘to be’ construction and an adjective in formal writing. And you can’t use that kind of delicate terminology for the way the Habs played this game. That kind of badness requires direct, simple, one-word emphasis. There’s only one good way to put it: they sucked.
1. Of course, sucking isn’t the end of the world, especially in a preseason game with a team cobbled together from spare parts. What’s slightly more troubling is that they were often sucking in an eerily familiar way, that bad-passes, bogged-down-in-the-defensive-zone, stupid-penalties kinda way that stopped being cute somewhere around last January. Why couldn’t they at least come up with an original way of sucking? One that could give me new, uncharted vistas of anxiety? I’m tired of this view, it’s depressing.
2. Not that there weren’t a few good things. RDS seems to have an unbelievably massive crush on O’Byrne, showing replays of pretty much everything he did the entire night. He’s been hyped as another defenseman in the Komisarek mold (big and smashy), which is something I think a lot of Habs fans are aching for these days, and he played to that- confident, aggressive, and very very noticeable. Other than that, this night’s crop of kids came off significantly less impressive than previous nights, although D’Agostini was interesting in occasional sparks.
3. But the best performance (barring Koivu’s nifty unassisted goal) was definitely Lapierre, who certainly played with more energy and possibly with more competence than the entire rest of the roster collectively. Sure, he’s a brat, but at least he fucking shows up.
4. Conversely, Latendresse was horrific. Playing on the first line with Koivu and Ryder, he looked slow both physically and mentally, as though he was simply not ready to play. In a somewhat depressing display of karmic retribution, he took a nasty hit to the head from Orpik in the 2nd, which left him rattled but apparently unharmed. Now, as we all know, the thing to do when karma comes back to you is accept it gracefully and move on. But apparently Gui doesn’t roll like that, and proceeded to spend the rest of the game smashing assorted Penguins with extreme prejudice, thereby compounding his atrocious play with unnecessary penalties. We are feeling some serious pangs of Higgins-deprivation right now.
5. The Habs plan for the preseason seems to be to split all games between the two dressed goalies, and this game was divided between Halak and (wonder of wonders) Price. Now, Halak let in 2 goals within the first 3 minutes, and of course, RDS did what they always do when they’re displeased with the goaltending, which is use every stoppage in play to show long, lingering shots of the backup. However, Halak was not pulled until halfway through as planned, and calmed down substantially in the latter 27 minutes of his time. And Carey Price, the Expected One? The Redeemer? The Goalie of the Future? Well… he did make a few pretty dazzling moves. He also let in 3 goals on 14 shots. You know what this proves? NOTHING. Habs fans need to be reminded often and loudly that Price (Halak too, for that matter), is, on the grand scale of goalies, still in his infancy. He has great abilities. He has great potential. And he has some important things still to learn- maybe not in terms of technique, but in terms of experience. Although it’s tempting to hope for another case of Montreal Goalie Salvation™, I’m thinking that it ain’t gonna be this year. There’s nothing wrong with keeping the faith, and nothing anyone says is going to stop the needy, anxious masses of Habistan from demanding he come to the rescue every time anyone else plays a weak game, but at this point we need to keep our expectations moderate and remember that he’s the Goalie of the Future, not the Goalie of As Soon As Humanly Possible.
The good news is that, just like the previous, pretty good team wasn’t the real 2007-2008 Canadiens, neither is this pretty crappy team. They’ve got 6 more trial runs. Deep breath. It’s only the preseason.
But that still sucked.