Sunday, April 13, 2008

4-13-08: Bruins 2, Canadiens 1

Such a dramatic game to be represented by such low numbers. I wish I could type 'Bruins 635, Canadiens 634', just to give it a sense of grandeur. But I suppose 2-1 has the advantage of brevity- tells you the most important thing you need to know with a minimum of units. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the playoffs.

1. They (and no, I’m not going to tell you who ‘they’ are, my sources are confidential) tell me that this is the way playoff hockey is supposed to be, by which I assume they mean that playoff hockey is fucking weird. Fast but claustrophobic, conservative but chaotic, tidy at the core and sloppy around the edges. Imagine a ballroom dance competition being attacked by a legion of zombies; everyone frantically trying to fend of the ravenous undead with folding chairs and feather boas while simultaneously struggling not to miss a step in their foxtrot routine. This game was a lot like that, only weirder.

2. The Bruins certainly came out harder, but I don’t think you can fault the Habs’ effort. What you might be able to fault is their stamina. Second game in as many nights, it’s understandable that they’d be a hair slower than usual, but with Boston desperate and playing a hair faster than usual, it resulted in a near-complete neutralization of the Canadiens’ primary advantage. The Habs’ methodology relies on using speed to create space at ES; it thrives on the little mini-power-play situation of a 2-on-1 or a 3-on-2. Without those, we can still function, but our offense isn’t nearly as pretty or as potent.

3. As is his wont when a game is going unfavorably, Carbonneau did a lot of juggling, including breaking up the no-longer-sacrosanct Plekanec line at times. The only consistently good combination, again, was Begin-Smolinski-Kostopolous, which makes sense, because it was a night that favored those who do their best work in close quarters. Lapierre, Hamrlik, and Komisarek (later in the game, anyway) were also effective. Ryder had his best game of the postseason to date- I think the lack of space triggers his ‘JUST SHOOT’ impulse, which in this case is a good thing. Streit got pounded. S. Kostitsyn is a lovable little mess, isn’t he? Tons of talent and all the self-control of a rabid squirrel in heat.

4. If Saku and Cube didn’t feel sufficiently missed from the lineup, they should now. And will O’Byrne get a chance in the next game? True, he’s a rookie, but they’re going to push even harder, and we’re going to need to push back- Ryan’s awfully pushy and none too stupid. I like Gorges, but sitting him a game might not be a bad idea. Of course, I have no idea if there is a customary playoff rule against changing your lineup for any reason other than injury. (Speaking of which, what do the healthy-scratch players do the night their team wins the Cup? Presumably at least some of them have been on the roster long enough to ‘count’ as part of the winning team, even though they weren’t dressed for that game. Do they just sit up in the pressbox in their suits and look down wistfully as the rest of the guys hug and party on the ice? Do they eventually come down and get a few hugs of their own? Does anybody care?)

I’m not panicking yet. It was an exceptionally close game that could have gone either way, OT was basically a goaltending exhibition, and I think it’s good for the Habs to lose now. We need to see how this team reacts to real pressure, when an opponent plays like a real threat and has some momentum on their side. We’re going to learn a lot from how they come out on Tuesday, having had time to physically rest and mentally pore over this loss. If the next game is a good effort, then praise Gainey, all is right with the world.

If they suck, than I think we have no alternative but to throw a motivational riot.


Doogie said...

I believe the rules require a player to have either A. played 50 or 60 regular season games for the team, or B. have played at least one game in the Finals. Regardless, they get to come down from the press box and pass the Cup around (if you watch the YouTubes of the '93 win, you'll see Denis Savard come off the bench in a suit shortly after the rest of the players).

olibou said...

They won't suck, but my guess is Streit is going up front, with Gorgeous G sliding to left. Who will sit up front, beats me. Le Gros Gui? Ryder? Dandy?

Jaybird said...

No need to panic yet. A big thing in a playoff series is to win your first two games at home which Montreal has done. This negates the other team from "stealing" your home ice advantage. Our beautiful boys should be well rested and fuelled by Boston baked beans Tuesday night and take this thig home 3-1. Plekanec, Higgins and Ryder need to at least spray their scent on the Bruins as they have looked out of it.

BTW your first paragraph with the zombies at the dance etc. was probably the most beautiful and precise playoff hockey description I have ever read. Im going to have to quote that (I'll give you full credit!).

E said...

doogie- so does that mean if huet was dressed for more than 50 games for the habs (he only played 39, but i'm guessing he was the backup for at least 11 more), he has a double-chance of getting a cup ring this year? or is there another rule that says you have to be on the roster at the moment of cup winning as well? also, i'm going to feel very sorry for grabovski if they keep dragging him around and he never gets a shot.

olibou- tough choice, since all three played better last game than they had in the first two. i'm tempted to say gui is the most likely to sit, because even though he's big, he hasn't been playing big. ryder and dandenault have been around longer and that seems to mean a lot to carbonneau now.

jaybird- i'm not panicking! i'm just raising the spectre of future panicking. higgins i don't think has been a lot different from the regular season- he threatens to score, but doesn't. plekanec is definitely the boy on the hot seat now, and he knows it, so it should be interesting to see what he comes up with next game.

and thanks for the compliment, feel free to quote whenever you like.

Jaybird said...

You're welcome! You have to definitely be a member of the squad when the cup is won to get your name on it. Cristo will be left out. As for Grabovski or any other Hab all they have to do is play one shift in the finals to get their name on there or 41 regular season games. If my memory is not mistaken which it usually is I'm pretty sure backup goalies get on there also. Found a website with some "fun facts" lol.

Oh and I quoted you on my blog but it is dirty, very low brow, and low class (made for my friends). Your quote made it seem intelligent for one day! Much appreciated!

Doogie said...

or is there another rule that says you have to be on the roster at the moment of cup winning as well?

Obviously, yes. I think the 41-game thing (thanks Jaybird -- I remember that now from Igor Ulanov a couple of years back) was basically brought in for Yvon Cournoyer, who missed two straight playoffs with a wonky back that eventually forced him to retire, but got his name on the Cup as captain of the '78 and '79 Habs nonetheless. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's about when it started.