I find Wayne Gretzky very disturbing. Not, you know, WAYNE GRETZKY!!!!!, as exemplified in the little intro and outro clips RDS used to frame the its commercial breaks. WAYNE GRETZKY!!!!! is undeniably awesome. Actual, real-time Wayne Gretzky, the vaguely puffy-looking dude in the ill-fitting suit behind the Coyotes’ bench, though… disturbing. Part of the problem with idolizing professional athletes is that lives last a lot longer than sports careers do, and so one gets the traumatic privilege of seeing everything that was amazing about them fade off and leave behind a rather ordinary looking person. I have no doubt that much has been written about Gretzky’s imperfect exploits as a coach and GM, but the prevailing attitude at this point seems to be for most of the hockey world to discreetly avert its eyes from the whole situation, so as to better preserve the mythos of WAYNE GRETZKY!!!!!. As, for example, I am about to do now.
- But the Coyotes are strikingly not bad. Not great, but not bad, and definitely better than 19 of the dressed Habs for 40 minutes. Unfortunately, the one Canadien they weren’t better than was the 20-year-old with something to prove stationed in front of the net. So call this Carey Price’s first genuine steal of the season, allowing the Habs to win in spite of being outshot 39-20 and seriously outpressured in the early going. Apparently our young goalie and Shane Doan are somehow related; I can only hope this means there are some awkward family reunions ahead, but of course all that Christianity probably has some sort of mitigating effect on hockey-animosity.
- If there’s anything that proves a team has found favor with the hockey gods, it’s getting four goals in twenty shots, including a weird angle desperation move by Plekanec and a Koivu tap-in previously whiffed by Higgins. The final goal, though, deserves to make all the week’s highlight reels- an agile exchange between Higgins and S. Kostitsyn on a two-on-none out of the defensive zone (on which Gorges gets one of the most undeserved second assists in hockey history).
- Kovelev must have some kind of new contractual stipulation that he be involved in at least 50% of all goals scored on a given night. We’ve now got a fair number of players collecting points at a regular rate- Plekanec, Markov, Streit, assorted Kostitsyns, Higgins and Koivu lately- but Kovalev is (in spite of a conspicuous lack of flash in recent games) racking up the numbers in a way I suspect no Hab has in years. This isn’t just the man returning to form, this is going to be one of the best seasons of his career. It’s as if he’s paying Gainey back for last season’s missed points on top of what he owes for this one. Way to clear karmic debt, Alexei. Maybe now you’ll get reincarnated as a soccer player.
- How does a dude take two accidental high-sticking double-minors with only one minute between them? That’s either terrible luck or truly masterful villainy. [scowls suspiciously at Lapierre]
Fortunately, now we get to leave the dubious present of Wayne Gretzky behind and go visit scenes from somewhat less dubious past of WAYNE GRETZKY!!!!!, as the Habs go to LA to play the Kings and hopefully not get up to any scandalous public antics with attractive blondes of questionable virtue. Of course, without any Theodore or Souray, the chances of that happening are greatly reduced. Since Ryan O’Byrne has already had his little alcohol-and-women trouble for the year, I predict that Sergei Kostitsyn will get photographed licking absinthe off Hilary Duff’s ass, and subsequently be beaten soundly with a sack of solid gold doorknobs by an enraged Mike Comrie during the 2nd intermission of Sunday’s game in