Saturday, 22 October 2011

Game 7: Montreal 4, Toronto 5 (OT)

Another one that stings. And more evidence that the Canadiens are not a Stanley Cup contender. This will be emphasized in our matchups against the Bruins and Flyers coming up soon.

There has to be a way to penalize blatant, shameful dives like the one John-Micheal Liles took to draw a penalty against Travis Moen. I don't want hockey to degenerate into soccer. It would be so simple for Brendan Shanahan and his minions to hand out game suspensions for those, they stand out on video review. It would also make his job easier, sorting out the serious boarding calls from those that are self-inflicted or embellished.

Also, the league needs to protect goaltenders from rampaging buffaloes like Ryan Malone and Cody McCormick or Brian Gionta. As much as it was controversial, we need to go back to the 'in the crease' rule like it was applied in the 90's. It cheapens the game to have players barreling into the goaltender because they can't 'solve' him, it's a cheat that shouldn't be allowed. Some argue that it would reduce scoring, but the goals that are scored that way aren't those that show up on highlight reels and take your breath away. Opposing players shouldn't be in the goalie's crease, end of story. Which, of course, by the way, Mr. Gionta wasn't.

Specific to this game, I noticed Erik Cole working very hard to make something happen. He's catching some flak because his production hasn't been what was anticipated, but I never saw any lack of effort. What I'd like to see is him lurking in the offensive zone, pouncing on a loose puck and cashing it in, but that will probably come when he gets a regular centre to be on the same wavelength with.

Travis Moen was demeaned by some this summer because he's not a feared heavyweight fighter. He's showing that he's more than that, a true energy player who plays with heart and can lift the team. Let's hope that he won't lead the team in scoring for long, but good to see him having success.

Hal Gill turned it up a notch tonight, maybe inspired by his family seated behind the bench. At times, the antics of his young daughters was the most interesting thing to watch, and certainly when compared to Mr. Martin's usual dour countenance. In any case, he stood out on many plays, instead of being his usual self-effacing defender. He was physical, surprised some Leafs by not always making the safe play off the boards, and showed leadership in a difficult situation.

I hate to be uncharitable, but Andrei Kostitsyn drew my eye again, demonstrating his wizardly skill and low hockey IQ in the same game; he is our resident idiot-savant, this generation's Gaston Gingras. He scored on a laser in the second, but also on three occasions that I saw gave away the puck when he had clear, unchallenged possession. Once on the powerplay in the opposing zone, and once while cruising inside the opposition blue line, he showed indecision and lack of hunger and the puck floated off his stick right to an opponent. Best case scenario is for him to score twenty before the trade deadline and we unload him to a contender for a first-round pick.

Mike Komisarek was booed lustily when he carried the puck, but I chose to remember him fondly for the good years we had, like that ex-girlfriend you run into who still looks damn good and you almost forget why you broke up. I caught myself thinking that if the Leafs don't want him we'd take him back, he'd bring a skill-set that is completely absent on the Canadiens blueline right now. Yannick Weber and Raphaël Diaz are clones of each other, and when Jaroslav Spacek returns he'll be our third defenceman who is reputedly slick with the puck but devoid of size and strength. Building a team is best accomplished by bringing diverse talents together. You don't build a great team with 20 Einsteins, you need a B.A. Barracus, a Face, a Murdoch and a Hannibal to lead them.

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