Thursday, April 17, 2008

4-17-08: Bruins 5, Canadiens 1

Among the various hockey books sitting on my shelf is a copy of the 2007-2008 Canadiens Media Guide, which I keep around so that I can peruse assorted facts and stats that I’ll never remember. It’s comfort reading, a Habscentric little tome that I can turn to when I want to forget that other teams exist. It’s got a nice faux-deteriorated photo of a vintage sweater on the front. Tonight, however, I would gladly trade in the folksy nostalgia of the image for the words DON’T PANIC in large, friendly letters.

I want to panic. No, wait, first I want to throw a giant screaming tantrum. I mean, another one, in addition to the one I already threw during the third period. And I want to burn a teddy bear in a Bruins jersey. And punch a Kennedy. So order of operations: recap, tantrum, teddy bear, Kennedy, panic.

1. Pop Quiz! Carey Price has:

a. A rather unfortunate, and possibly unlucky, new haircut.

b. Something still to learn about when to glove the puck and when to play it.

c. Asperger’s Syndrome

d. Balls like fossilized Mesozoic watermelons.

e. Un-fucking-believable talent that doesn’t preclude the occasional crappy period.

2. The trajectory of this game makes me think that the Habs’ primary problem was overconfidence. They came out, in the first period, absolutely flying and ended it with one goal that could easily have been three or four. The kind of game they’d play in the regular season when whomping the Bruins. During the second period they slowed down a bit, but the Bruins’ second goal early in the third- the one on Price’s misplay- seemed to hit them like Satan’s sledgehammer. They weren’t expecting it, and, suddenly faced with a deficit and not much time to make it up, they tried to push a kind of sloppy, desperate offense that offered the Bruins just the kind of mistakes they need. Cue shameful collapse. My only point being that, if they’d played the more disciplined, wary style they did on the road, they probably wouldn’t have lost, and almost certainly wouldn’t have lost as badly.

3. Kovalev Fan, one of my semi-regular commenters, gets prescience-points for sticking to his/her contention that the power play is a problem. Yes, the power play is most definitely a problem. Once upon a time, the Canadiens had the best power play in the League, but my friends, those days are over. The power play is dead, and the penalty kill is rapidly deteriorating into catatonia. I hereby call for the Habs to begin using a skillful combination of diving and retaliation to ensure that any penalty called against either team will actually result in simultaneous penalties to both teams. The four-on-four is still okay, let’s make the best of it.

4. Lapierre and Latendresse are determined to prove that there is a necessary trade-off between offensive pressure and defensive responsibility- their best game in terms of creating chances was also their worst for giving up goals. It’s probably just youth and inexperience, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the only solution is take cells from Begin and Kostopolous and use them to grow replacement organs to be transplanted into rookies. This is why the world needs stem cell research. Plekanec, on the other hand, is getting better with each game. And Hamrlik ends the night +1 in a 5-1 loss- now that is consistency.

You know what, though? Even bad games have their good points, especially in Montreal. Alex Kovalev takes one great shift, and simultaneously takes several million Habs fans- for one moment- back in time. Now we know why he doesn’t cut his hair.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a long to-do list.


Habsfan1993 said...

Thanks for the kind, if gratuitous, plug there. (This is the artist formerly known as kovalev fan--got me a blogger account, but I'm still trying to stay true to the spirit of the old name.)

I think what best sums up last night's debacle is that almost to a man, the Habs made horrible, awful, stupid decisions each time they touched the puck. As far as I'm concerned, a team that plays this badly, consciously making bad decisions, does not deserve any fans. I still love my Habs, but I severely dislike the group of players that defrauded its fans last night. The team we saw last night has lots of skill, but in my opinion, they chose to play badly last night. I was watching Ryder make plays he knows better than to make. I was watching Kovalev try to dangle and aim his shots, rather than just get them on net. i watched Markov lazily take the puck over the blue line, long after he had put his teammate offsides. I could go on, but these were all conscious decisions that are inexcusable. Montreal has been good in ONE game this series.

Here's a secret: I actually picked Glen Murray in my playoff pool. I have had this bad suspicion that Montreal would lay an egg in the first round, and the proof was evident last night.

DarkoV said...

Regular season stats are for Excel-ites who spend way too much time during work hours maintaining their self-deceiving spreadsheets.
Or so the Philly analysts say.
They may have a point.
The Phlyers had the 2nd best power play in the Eastern COnference, while the Ovechkinites have the 2nd worst Power Play defense. This translates into playoff hockey stats for the Phylers for Power Play efficacy of around 3%.

Speaking of Mr. Ovechkin, aside from picking up the Art Ross and Maurice Richard trophies and most probably the Hart, is in the running for the Greg Louganis award for style points on his dives. Every time he touches the puck after his now infamous jacknife triple lux dive in game #3, the Philly fans have made sure he knows that he has their full support for the Louganis trophy.

Doogie said...

Fortunately, we all know that the laws of momentum follow no true mathematical form in the playoffs. A team can slowly bleed it or gain it, as has happened here, but once it hits a critical mass, the whole mess detonates and does a complete 180.

Actually, it's like a hyperbola. Rising slowly along the x-axis until it reaches the asymptote, then flies off to infinity before crashing back down to negative infinity in a single instance of the infinitesimally-small dx before slowly recovering, back to equilibrium. Which is to say, it's a good thing the Habs got crushed last night, because now they have the impetus to re-examine their game, get rid of bad habits, and start playing like the fucking Montreal Canadiens.

Therefore, I think Game 6 will be their best performance since Game 1, and clinch the series. It has to be, really, not only because of the Law of Conservation of Playoff Momentum, but because if they fail tomorrow night, then I think they lose Game 7, too, and that will haunt them all summer.

E said...

HF93- i think the first period was good, but the mistake was that after grabbing the lead they relaxed far too much and thought they could sit back. i agree that they got stupid, but i think that was largely the result of desperately and crudely trying to get back in a game that they didn't realize they were giving away until it was too late. there were a lot of habs standing still in the 2nd, and running around like decapitated ostriches in the 3rd, neither of which is exactly a winning formula. what scares me is that it seemed like you could sense them getting irritated with each other- i think some of markov's odd plays reflected an unwillingness to give the puck to teammates who weren't playing well, which i understand, but doesn't help anything in the long run. still, they know they fucked up, so we'll see what kind of choices they make on saturday.

darko- yeah, it's gotta be a trauma for stats-keepers that the playoffs are so small of a sample size, such that a hot streak means a lot more than the overall record. and honestly, if i was playing philly, i'd dive too- i don't think the flyers have the moral standing to call anyone out for improper behavior.

doogie- i hope you're right. i gotta say, for the first time in months, today i've felt real fear of elimination. i just keep reminding myself that, no matter what, it's not as bad as last year. they're a better team than they were, they've accomplished more than they should have, and they've got one more year with basically the same roster, well under the salary cap, to give it another go. just like the guys who were here last year learned something from getting knocked out in the last regular season game, they'll learn something if they lose a playoff series that should have been the easiest possible match up. they'll get better. which is some consolation.

Jaybird said...

Carey Price WILL steal one of the next two no matter how much our offense struggles! As soon as Koivu comes back (next game possibly I hear!) everything changes.