Saturday, March 29, 2008

3-29-08: Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 2

Second verse, same as the first.

Until the very end, I wasn’t sure if I was watching a current game or the Canadiens Express rerun of the previous game. But then Streit didn’t show up to save everyone’s ass, and they lost. Which is, incidentally, what should have happened against the Sabres. So if our master plan was to win every game with 3 great minutes at the very end, we might need to figure out another option.

1. I’m just going to say the most depressing possible thing that everyone’s already thinking anyway right at the beginning: our good luck with injuries has run out. Comparative to your average NHL team in an average season, the Habs have been in remarkably good health. But now, in quick succession, we’ve lost Komisarek, Latendresse, Koivu, Streit, and possibly Bouillon, with Komisarek and Koivu likely to be out through the beginning of the playoffs. With the injuries plus two games in two nights, it’s not very surprising that they weren’t at their best, and I suppose the very end, after you’ve clinched a slot, is an okay time in the season to not be your best. But the playoffs are coming, and if they’re not going to be healthy, then they’re going to have to be a lot more determined than they’ve been. I’m telling myself, anyway, that it’s a lack of determination, because that’s less necessarily fatal than the alternatives.

2. Ironically, I just read a droplet of wisdom from The Hockey News which said that the Habs’ PP was their strength and PK their weakness. If there’s been any silver lining to these games, though, it’s that the penalty killing has been spectacular. Only allowing one shot on net through a whole five minute disadvantage? Beautiful. On the other hand, the power play without Streit is a disaster.

3. A nice effort by Lapierre, who got one hilarious goal by chipping a shot off Dandenault in front of the net, and got a couple more decent close-calls. I mention this primarily because I think it was a good ‘character’ performance- bouncing back from a weak game by playing that much harder. Good on you, Maxim.

4. What are people’s thoughts on O’Byrne getting tossed? I’m conflicted. From one perspective, I’m generally in favor of the League cracking down harder on them kind of actions; on the other hand, that’s not the kind of play that usually results in a five minute major and a game misconduct. Should it be?

The Habs’ success depends heavily on chemistry. By now, everyone knows their profile: no superstars, but more 40+ point players than any other team in the League. When they score, the score in bunches and everyone gets points. The question is whether this structure makes them more flexible or more brittle than teams with more defined cores. Most of us have been hoping it’s the former, and that seems logical- the more guys you have who can get points, the less you rely on any one person. But their style, with all the speed and pretty passing, is all about good communication and an intuitive understanding of the other guys on the ice. It’s possible that when players start leaving the lineup- even ones like Komisarek who you might not think of as critical for offensive production- the chemistry that allows them to diversify their scoring starts to break down. Most teams rely on a few players who make largely solo efforts or a single key line for the majority of their goals. We rely on everyone. It remains to be seen if that’s a good or a bad thing.

1 comment:

Doogie said...

After determining a quick correlation between the times my eyes were on and off the tube, and the times Toronto and Montreal were scoring, I went and played World of Warcraft for the evening instead. Clearly, it didn't help as I'd originally anticipated. Silly sports superstitions.