Friday, February 29, 2008

2-29-08: Canadiens 6, Sabres 2

The best thing about the Canadiens this year is that they don’t stay down for long. Like everyone else, they have their bad games and rough patches, but they rebound amazingly fast. There’s a sense of resilience, determination, and righteous indignation in this team that won’t allow itself the spiral of a true losing streak. Two games since the trade deadline, when everybody and their grandmother said the Habs had unequivocally gotten worse, and two wins- both them not just wins but assertive, dominant, fuck-you-all-and-your-grandmothers wins. I love this team.

1. First, we would like to give a Theory of Ice triumph to Plekanec, for his leading role in the metaphorical slaughter of many a Sabre and the forcible deposing of the Senators, and his first-ever NHL hat trick (plus an assist). Your laurel wreath is in the mail, Tomas; respice post te, hominem te esse momento. But not until after the playoffs. Until then, might as well think of yourself as a beturtlenecked god amongst undershirt-clad insects.

2. And then of course there is Streit, the fullest flower of Swiss non-goaltending hockey to be seen in the world today. His one goal and two assists in this game are reflective of his offensive versatility. He plays tight to the opposing net as a forward at even strength, picking up the odd garbage goal, fortunate deflection, and occasional slick finisher (as in this game). But it is playing the point on the power play where he, like his colleague Markov, picks up most of his numbers, for rare is the PPG on which one or both of them doesn’t get an assist. It’s a testament to his understated but effective style that, in occupying the slot that Souray left, he has seldom if ever been unfavorably compared to either his All-Star predecessor or his All-Star partner. He’s UFA this summer. Taking bets now as to whether a) Gainey so much as makes him an offer, and b) the general hockey media ever notices his existence.

3. Four assists in one night. Let no one dare to call Kovalev selfish for at least the remainder of the season, for he has been and continues to be supremely puck-generous with his young linemates, and their numbers reflect it.

4. Another dual-goal night for the Kostitsyns, and I gotta say, while I’m in no hurry to split them from their current lines, it’s very, very tough not to want to see them flanking Grabovski more often. Such hard but welcome choices this team gives me these days.

5. Latendresse is a very large creature, but most of the time you’d never guess it from the way he plays. On the other hand, watching him take Pratt down and ride the misfortunate Sabre like he was a Shetland pony… yeah, he’s a big kid, Gui is, and perhaps he’s learning a little bit of an edge from Lapierre. We can hope, at least.

6. I’m not even going to talk about the pseudo-thuggy shit. I’m so tired of it, every fucking team tries it: they run Price or flatten Koivu, arguing ensues, Komisarek swears, Lapierre grins, the rest of the Habs shove a bit and then shrug it off. Watch, rinse, repeat at the next stoppage, so long as we have a solid lead. It never works, and after a while it stops looking like ‘passion’ and is revealed for the raw idiocy and bad sportsmanship it really is.

7. Much of the speculation in Montreal in the past few days has surrounded whether Carey Price has the (heart, balls, experience, talent, mojo, what-have-you) for a deep playoff run. Personally, I think he’s more likely to be extraordinary in May and June than he was in October or November. But you know what? If the team in front of him keeps playing this well, he won’t have to be extraordinary. Just good. And that, I think, he is already.

8. Let it be said, however, that partial credit for the Habs’ win in this case goes to Ryan Miller. I haven’t seen old Millsy in a long time, but I don’t remember him playing like this- miles out of his crease and down so low and so early that it was far easier than it should have been for the Canadiens to chip pucks over him or slide them in behind. Frankly, he looked like a very narrow scrap of discarded pancake being feasted on by opportunistic seagulls.

9. And finally, even from afar, even after being cruelly spurned by Gainey, Huet continues to do his part to help us. We play the Devils tomorrow, and tonight he shut them out in the Caps' 4-0 victory, which on a existential level should make New Jersey depressed, and on a practical level keeps them within 1 standings point of us. With the same number of games. And we have more goals-for. Which means that if we win or go to OT tomorrow...

Lock up your daughters and your more effeminate defensemen, Eastern Conference. Our Montreal Canadiens have arrived.


Simonus said...

I think that as the season comes to a close, you will see the Kostitsyns/Grabovski line more often at the end of games where the habs have a "safe" lead. I think Carbo will do whatever he can to find ways to get Kovalev off the ice as early as possible. Hopefully he gets a lot of chances.

BTW - if the boys were to beat the Devils in OT, the Devils would still be in first because the primary tie-breaker is wins. I Guess they'll have to beat the Devils in regulation.

E said...

[slaps forehead]

damn, you're right about the 1st tiebreaker. i totally forgot, mea maxima culpa.