[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
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
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
3. Hmmm… so the Expected One, the Glory of Montreal, the Rising Sun of the New Age of Canadiens Hockey, loses to
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
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.