Thursday, 27 October 2011

Game 9: Montreal 5, Philadelphia 1

I've remained resolutely optimistic in my game recaps so far, and tonight's score will make it easy for me to stay on course. All the scheming and dreaming we did over the summer, with endless line permutations and visions of power forwards taking it to the net was realized in one panic-smothering swoop.

Let's start by giving Max Pacioretty serious props. A wrist injury which was reported to involve ligament damage and putatively might have required surgery was not enough to keep him out of the game or off the scoresheet. I initially questioned whether a sniper like him, as opposed to stone-handed players like Mike Blunden or Mathieu Darche, would be severely limited with such an ailment. Mr. Blunden could bang and crash with a sore wrist, but how could Mr. Pacioretty be effective with only one hand on his stick? I wondered whether we might be better off resting him to ensure he returned fully healthy, as opposed to he rushing back too soon and suffering through a nagging injury most of the season. It is fortunate that it is his right wrist which is hurt, since it is his top hand on the stick, which is not as important in wrist shots, and will not ache too much from the impact of slap shots. In any case, he showed leadership and courage by playing tonight, and it was great that he was rewarded for it.

Another player I was impressed with was Erik Cole, who skated fast and was strong on the puck all night. While some have uncharitably described his performance so far this season, based mostly on his lack of production, I have been happy with his play. The goals will come. He is an upgrade to our lineup, a big strong winger who knows what to do with the puck.

Which is take it and drive to the net. Which brings us to Mr. Kostitsyn, who once again went on one of his aimless skates with the puck. Lucky for me, Ray Ferraro on the TSN broadcast caught it too, and commented on it on a lengthy replay. To see him wheel around the net and carry the puck back toward the blue line, where he coughed it up, made my blood pressure rise. I hope that the coaching staff, however its responsibilities are reallocated, takes responsibility for le frère Andrei. Apparently simply watching Mr. Cole and Mr. Pacioretty isn't enough of a clear example for him to follow, he needs to be sat down and watch video of his low-IQ plays, as compared to some of Rick Tocchet's and Kevin Stevens' greatest hits.

Another blemish was Mr. Spacek's performance. He was jostled and bounced all game, and muffed a scoring chance. I would much, much prefer that Alexei Emelin be given those minutes. The future is now, we can't keep a 25 year old KHL top-pairing defenceman in the press box to make room for another one who is aging, fragile and ineffectual.

As far as the Flyers go, the overhaul they underwent this summer, along with Chris Pronger's absence, make them a seemingly much less ornery team. Claude Giroux scuffled with Tomas Plekanec, but aside from that the evening was relatively tame, except for Wayne Simmonds running around and acting like a big, big punk. We have seen this before this season, a big player with a nasty streak not finding anyone to rub up against, and looking for trouble.

And please, enough with the deification of Jaromir Jagr. Enough with his infectious good mood in the Flyers' dressing room, and his mentoring younger players, and his newfound energy and appreciation of the NHL. This is the guy who Czech-teased the city of Pittsburgh all summer and inexplicably turned tail and bolted for their mortal enemies. This is the guy who stole money for years from the Capitals and Rangers, and was a dressing-room dark cloud. Let's give it half a season before we fall for his act.

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