It’s great to be wrong. Usually one judges the comparative wisdom of hockey fans- of people in general- based on their predictive ability. An intelligent person has not so much insight as foresight, can divine the future from indications in the present. Really, we’re looking for augury rather than knowledge. And so we say a hockey pundit worth listening to is one who accurately predicts things- who’ll make the playoffs, who’ll win the scoring race, so on. By these standards, I obviously do not know jack shit about hockey. I am hockey’s anti-Cassandra: when I predict something, the exact opposite happens. So last recap, I whined that the Habs had scoring problems and never seemed able to get a significant lead over anyone. Thank God I was wrong.
1. For once, let’s start with the less enthusiastic comment: this was clearly not a good night for Fernandez. Six goals on twenty shots? When facing a team that could barely get two goals in thirty shots most nights? Granted, the Habs have looked a lot better than their scoring would indicate lately, and some of those twenty were pretty nice, but still... Me, I liked Thomas, but then again, he never did anything like this for our stats.
2. Speaking of which, points all around! Out of 18 skaters, 14 get points, including representatives of every offensive line and every defense pair. First goals of the year for Begin (very pretty) and Brisebois (so worth $700,000), and first NHL goal ever for Grabovski (worth at least as much patience as Latendresse got, no?). Higgins finally gets properly rewarded for all his hard work (none of that empty-netter shit), Markov gets his 3rd (who knew he had offensive upside?), and Kovalev almost makes up for all the times he’s made us bite our own flesh to distract from the incessant pain of his whining with his 4th. But let’s not forget the selfless helpers of the hockey world- 2 assists each for Koivu and Plekanec, partly due to some lovely faceoff work.
3. However, we’d also like to give a special thanks to Bouillon, who in spite of getting no points, was a team-best +3 for the evening. Could be just good luck, since I can’t say he was necessarily that much better than the other D, certainly he didn’t stand out as much as Hamrlik and Komisarek, but personally I think Francis is a contender for the most-improved-player over his performance last year. Maybe it’s being separated from Dandenault (who seems to be flourishing as a 3rd/4th liner anyway), maybe it’s fully recovering from his injuries, but whatever the cause, I don’t panic when he gets near Huet anymore. [one-person round of applause]
4. It’s great to have Carey Price, but you know what’s even better? Not needing him. Because Huet is the goaltending equivalent of a warm beam of sunlight falling on a parquet floor on an autumn afternoon with little flecks of shiny dust swimming in it.
5. Man, we acquired some experienced veterans this summer, didn’t we? Multi-congratulations to Smolinski on his 1000th game, only a few games after Hamrlik’s.
I didn’t think they’d do it. Win? Sure, sometimes. But the way the season was going, I didn’t think they were going to ever get enough luck, enough good chances to whoop anybody in definitive fashion. Yet the Bruins were a team on a roll and the Canadiens gleefully smashed them into useless smears of bear-paste like an 18-wheeler on a two-lane highway- remorselessly, indifferently, just because they could. I was wrong. I was completely, perfectly, incredibly, fully wrong: my Habs can do that. Now, ahbabi, let’s see it again.