There’s only one way for a fan to survive being on the losing side of this sort of game: convince yourself that the rules and object of the sport are completely different. For example, after the first five minutes, I spent the remainder of this match pretending that it was not in fact hockey I was watching, but a new hockey-like game called ‘Clear the Zone Long Enough to Get a Line Change’, wherein the purpose was not to score but merely to keep the players you have on the ice at any given moment from dying of exhaustion. Even at that game, the Habs weren’t particularly good, but since nobody on either side actually died of exhaustion, I call it at tie.
1. Huet apparently suffered a mild groin injury in the last game; either that or they’re just saying he did to excuse the flurry of goals he let in at the end. But, oh glory be, the moment of salvation has arrived: if only for a couple of days, Carey Price is the #1! Hallelujah! All our problems are now solved! Or… uh… okay, maybe not.
2. Somewhere in the last 4 or 5 games, the Habs seem to have acquired gangrene of the blueline, because our D (who were doing so very nicely at the start of the season) seem to be, one by one, withering into crumpled, diseased shells of their former selves. First it was Streit, then Brisebois, then (horrors!) Markov… I suppose you could say that Gorges and Bouillon are as good as they’ve ever been, if not particularly remarkable, but even at their best, they’re the weakest pair we’ve got. Komisarek and Hamrlik, ahamdulillah, seem to be immune so far, but there’s only so much they can do. Whatever the cause, the old get-the-puck-into-the-offensive-zone problem seems to have re-emerged, and it’s hard not to think it’s a problem more on the back end than the front. I’m not going to criticize the “scoring” (ironic quotation marks) forwards too harshly in this game, just because the team as a whole so infrequently managed to get in position to even consider maybe making some kind of offensive play (barring a late 3rd period push, both Koivu and Kovalev looking extremely pissed off at both the Wings and their own team).
3. Faint, barely perceptible ray of sunshine: at least Higgins seems to be getting a little bit of his shooting mojo back! Although it’s a little strange to realize that his success seems to be inversely correlated with that of the rest of the team- he’s always the guy who gets the game-losing goal, the last (or only) one scored by the Habs in an otherwise poor, futile effort.
4. I think Koivu is still a little bitter about the last Olympics, because while he has a bit of a bitchy streak that can come out in any game, put him up against a roster full of Swedes and dude freaks out. Generally speaking, you can count on the captain for not much more than the occasional shove and bout of profanity, but in this game he seemed to be starting shit with anyone who got within 2 feet of him (not, of course, that they didn’t mostly deserve it. Yeah, I’m a homer, you have problem?).
5. And maybe Dandenault is a little bitter about his time in
Let’s think of other non-hockey games the Habs might be able to win in 60 minutes on the ice. How about ‘Don’t Take Two Simultaneous Penalties’? Or maybe ‘Shoot at Widest Variety of Things that Aren’t the Opposing Net’? I have two days to think of more strategies for denial, something tells me I’m going to need them…