The Bruins don’t suck.
Objectively, I mean. Of course, as a partisan of the Habs, I’d happily assert that the Bruins suck every day of the week and twice on Sundays, but if one stands back and looks at the NHL as a whole, they actually don’t. Third in the division and seventh in the conference, they sat only four points behind us in the standings- and if they’d won this game, it would have been only two. They’re better, objectively, than quite a lot of the opposition that has defeated the Canadiens with ease this season. But it’s difficult for me to remember that, because every time I see them, they look like the most accursed and misfortunate hockey team crawling the earth in this age.
1. The terrifying thing about it, though, is that if this game proves anything it’s that the Habs don’t even have to play all that well to win against Boston. Sure, the Canadiens had more shots, but they didn’t have better chances. Kovalev’s power play goal was clever and well-timed, and Dandenault’s second was off a cute little rush, but other than that, the Habs’ scoring was mostly good bounces and good luck on low-percentage efforts that in most games wouldn’t lead to much of anything. But it doesn’t seem to matter against
2. So I understand, of course, why the Bruins get pissed off. Let’s face it, it’s horrifically demoralizing to constantly and seemingly inevitably lose to one of the teams it would be most advantageous to you to win against, even more so when you’re doing it because your best-S%-in-the-League goalie is suddenly letting in half-hearted backhanders from marginal fourth-line-part-time-defensemen and deflecting pucks in instead of out. However, the standard Bruins response to this is to get all thuggy, and this time it almost looked like it would work- the Habs first goals were luck more than skill, and they carried their brief three goal lead with minimal momentum. Possibly they could have been knocked off what little intensity they had initially by enough brutality. Possibly. But not actually.
3. Still, it is times like this that one realizes the extent to which Komisarek has gone from being a young defenseman with potential to being an indispensable part of the team. Not only has his sense of positioning and overall hockey-IQ improved rapidly over the past two seasons, not only is he getting with-the-puck abilities more comparable to his already excellent without-the-puck talents, but on a team more tough-minded than tough-bodied, his size and durability have become a necessary bulwark. Although he is, in all honesty, infinitely more inclined to express displeasure with a torrent of invective rather than, uh, enraged fist-pummeling, his invulnerability to pretty much any attempts at physical intimidation is itself heartening. Whether or not getting smacked around would ever make the Habs lose- which I’m not sure is possible anyway- it’s still good to have some evidence that we’re not entirely the fragile, nerdy kid whose only defense against bullying is a good pair of legs.
4. While I am quite swollen with vaguely patronizing pride at Dandenault getting a rare two-goal night, you have to be annoyed that it feeds the whole concept of benching as a motivational tool, which- frankly- Carbonneau has always been a little overly fond of. Ain’t no Hab with an impressive streak of games-played going to get out of this season with it intact- if, indeed, any have made it this far. But still, for a guy whose been on the cusp of unceremonious demotion on and off all season, Mathieu has shown some very impressive tenacity when needed to keep himself in the lineup. Let’s all give him a round of applause.
5. In other news: Ovechkin gets 13 years at 124 million. The word ‘in-fucking-sane’ has just taken its last dry, rattling breath and collapsed into meaninglessness. I don’t care what happens next, I don’t care if the Predators literally steal Roberto Luongo and replace him in Vancouver with a clever dummy constructed of Tootsie Rolls and extremely lanky marshmallows and hold him captive by keeping him shackled to a net 24 hours a day, feeding him exclusively with crackers tossed by fans during intermissions, I will not be surprised by anything that happens in the hockey world ever again.
There is, of course, a lot more that needs to be said- I’ve been away a while and missed a lot, and there must be discussion of Kovalev, and Lapierre, and Price, and Ryder, and Kostitsyn al-Asghar. But that will have to wait a bit longer. It turns out there are (sometimes) things more important than hockey.