Sunday, October 12, 2008

Canadiens Review: 10/10/08-10/11/08

[Note: I’m not always going to be able to catch games in a timely fashion this season, so rather than write one much-delayed recap per match, I’m going to do occasional multi-game commentaries. Just notes on whatever has seemed remarkable, disturbing, or entertaining in the past few matches.]

It’s always discouraging to lose the first game of the season. Maybe it doesn’t mean any more standings-wise than any random mid-February slog-to-the-finish-line game, but there’s nevertheless something portentous in early games. Any little thing might turn out to be an omen, and one looks shift-by-shift for clues to the team’s future- line chemistry, speed, creativity, a predisposition to take stupid penalties… that’s what I have on my mind at least. But as losses go, the loss to Buffalo wasn’t awful. They’re a quick team, which means they have more capacity to play us well than many others, and it’s not their fault that St. Saku only has one shootout move. And when they bounce back and whoop Toronto all over the ice the next night, who could possibly hold a grudge?


1. You know what I resent? Even-strength. Fuck even-strength. Sure, sure, I know it’s the state in which most hockey is played and therefore the most relevant predictor of sustainable success, but where’s the love for the power play? Not only does it have at least twice the dramatic tension of even-strength hockey, but it gains an added elegance from its ethical dimension. The opponent with a good power play is hockey’s avatar of justice, and the real punishment for that ill-considered high-stick isn’t the two minutes of shame- it’s the goals you give up while suffering it. Teams with bad power plays aren’t just weak in some incidental area, they’re morally deficient. They are not doing their part to keep our sport clean and respectable, since they carelessly allow their opponents to get away with wanton flouting of our common values. So just think of Montreal’s PP as the itinerant lawman of the Eastern Conference.

2. I’m going to say it now while it temporarily sounds smart to do so: If I had to pick a Kostitsyn, I’d take Sergei. Andrei may be the better offensive player, hell, he might even be the better overall player (particularly on the technical points of his game), but Sergei’s got a layer of creativity to him that is either divine inspiration or unfiltered animal instinct. He’s clever, he’s surprisng, he’s a bit vicious, and I’m excited to see what kind of player he’s going to become in the next couple of seasons. Hopefully his two goals against Toronto are, in fact, a sign of things to come.

3. Hmmm… so the Expected One, the Glory of Montreal, the Rising Sun of the New Age of Canadiens Hockey, loses to Buffalo in a shootout, while the lemur-like Slovakian kid with the oddly limp glove hand nearly gets a shutout in a good ol’ fashioned Toronto ass-whuppin’? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve drunk the Jesus Price™ Kool-Aid™, I am fully on-board with the Child King of the Goalies and all his minions, but still… just sayin’… GO HALAK!

4. Things we always knew but needed to be reminded of: Tomas Plekanec is the best player in the League whose name people still don’t bother to learn to pronounce correctly. Kovalev is a surprisingly big presence on the ice for someone whose major claim to fame is a gift for far-side-top-corner-improbable-angle wrist shots. Mike Komisarek’s puckhandling is grotesque.

5. Thinks we have recently learned: Lang > Smolinski; Tanguay > Ryder. Praise be to Gainey, whose Plans B are superior to the Plans A of a mortal GM.

6. On the Leafs: It seems like the merciful thing to do would be to let them sit this season out. I don’t think they’re really up for it. Nice to see Grabovski getting a regular slot, though. There’s definitely more space for him in Toronto than there was ever going to be in Montreal.

7. On the Sabres: Long have I loved Craig Rivet, but… [stage whisper]… he’s not that great and he’s only played for you for like twenty minutes. What the hell? Is this some sort of weird contract requirement? Are you angry at the rest of your players? What about Miller?


Onward to Philly, who we pounded to small shards last regular season and by whom we were in turn pounded out of the playoffs. Is that a good enough reason to dress Laraque? We have to use him for something eventually.

7 comments:

Fred Béland said...

Take your time posting as much as you like, so long as you keep 'em coming. Not having your cynical post-game reviews is like cold-turkey cocaine rehab.

olibou said...

If Andrei keeps forechecking like that (he won't), Sergei will have to up the ante quite a bit (he will anyway, and we will love him evermore for it).

Hopefully, last night's frustating quest for a hat-trick convinced him of the virtues of shooting the damn puck once in a freaking while instead of trying to feed his brother a cross-ice pass trough the slot, thus giving the Flyers an easy turnover...

Habsfan1993 said...

Before Sergei earned a full-time roster spot, scouting reports often said he had even more talent than his older brother.

It's nice to see him coming into his own, isn't it?

E said...

fred- your indulgence is appreciated. i'll do my best to maintain a suitable level of snark.

olibou- as i tried to indicate in the post, i think sergei's talent is still rougher than andrei's, but i think part of that is that sergei's a bit more ambitious. andrei's goodness tends to come from good line chemistry and an aptitude for exploiting the right moment. sergei's seems a lot more innovative, but he does try to force the improbable, awkward play every now and then that andrei wouldn't bother trying. so i suppose you pays your money and you takes your choice.

habsfan1993- i do remember the talk of that, back when andrei was fresh up. but then it got overshadowed by his dramatic success with plekanec and kovalev, such that sergei started to seem like an afterthought.

MathMan said...

Montreal's PP as the NHL's very own Shining Sword of Righteous Justice.

I love it. :)

MattM said...

I love the Avenging Sword of Justice bit, but does it still apply when the Habs take a penalty?

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