Thursday, February 07, 2008

2-7-08: Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 2

You could just see this coming, couldn’t you? Because beating the imploding archrivals in 14th place- the ones with the recently fired GM; the ones who are apparently just itching to start selling off any half-decent player for draft picks and pretzels; the ones who lost their previous game 8-0 to the fucking Florida Panthers- that would have been too easy. That would have been logical. And why do the logical thing when you have the unnecessarily dramatic option available? Why come out aggressively in the first when you can just chill out for a forty minutes and hope for the heart-stopping, late 3rd period comeback? Because then you lose. Plus you give up an empty net goal to an underperforming professional asshole with a girly name.

1. There are some questions in the universe which will never be satisfactorily answered: Why do bad things happen to good people? Do mollusks have emotions? What is consciousness? And most of all, why can’t Carbonneau keep a forward line arrangement together for more than two games? He’s still juggling like he hasn’t found lines that work, but he did. A. Kostitsyn/Plekanec/Kovalev - Ryder/Koivu/Higgins - Latendresse/Lapierre/S. Kostitsyn - Begin/Smolinski/Kostopolous: those lines were just fine. Most of them were, anyway, and I don’t see what’s wrong with keeping the Snakebit Three together and thereby quarantining the rest of the team from their problems. After all, we know Ryder/Koivu/Higgins has been able to be effective in the past, and even if they’re less so now, they’ve at least got some kind of potential. But the other lines were all better as sets than their components have been in other arrangements, and yeah, I know that leaves out Dandenault, but he can rotate in to the 4th at regular intervals or some such. I’m starting to suspect that Carbonneau is giving Ryder the Samsonov treatment, and he doesn’t deserve that- certainly not yet, and Higgins doesn’t deserve demotion either, and Latendresse is better with Lapierre as his center. Tinkering to find something that works? That’s fastidious coaching. Tinkering irregardless of what works? That’s obsessive-compulsive disorder. Tinkering to avoid something that works? That’s sabotage. So either Carbonneau needs some Zoloft or he’s a double-agent. I think that should be RDS’s next in-game poll.

2. It is, however, yet another tribute to the skills of the Plekanec line that they managed to score twice (sort of) in spite of how hard the Leafs were on them. Most of their shifts, Toronto kept them firmly pinned to the boards. In fact, they played tight D on us all night, probably because they’ve been haunted by nightmares of that whole losing-by-eight thing. Both Montreal goals came via clever exploitations of rare breakdowns on Toronto’s part, although Kovalev’s was yet another performance-art goal that will further cement his reputation in the galleries of the world. Hell, the Louvre should buy that one and dedicate a special exhibit to it.

3. An interesting but uneven game for Koivu. On the one hand, he drew a dubious offensive-zone penalty instead of taking one, and did a cute little duck on an attempted check by Colaiacovo that left the Leafs defenseman essentially boarding himself while Saku slipped away, and he got some very good chances. On the other hand, he didn’t have any chemistry whatsoever with Latendresse or Kostitsyn al-Asghar, and in the last seconds, playing 6 on 5 in the hopes of getting the equalizer, he and Markov somehow miscommunicated and he completely missed a pass which led to the final goal. Which might be understandable, but it still looked like shit and is going to leave a lot of people angry.

4. Other things: Toskala = Hot; Price = Competent. While Markov was excellent and Gorges is really stepping up, the absence of Hamrlik is still conspicuous for our defensive play. The PP was distinctly slower and less inventive in its passing- although I’m not sure if that was us being worse than usual or the Leafs being better than usual.

Abbreviated recap tonight, because I’m tired, and that was demoralizing and shouldn’t be dwelt upon. Saturday is Hockey Day in Canada, and we play Ottawa. We played Ottawa last HDIC. They whomped us 8-3. And then spat on the graves of our ancestors. I’m just giddy with anticipation.

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