Monday, 21 November 2011

Game 21: Montreal 0, Boston 1

I was thinking how exhausting it might be to watch the Bruins playing the Good Guys at the New Forum. Imagine having to loudly and deeply boo Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Greg Campbell, Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, and Benoit Pouliot every time they touch the puck. Add to that having to boo Claude Julien every time he appears on the big screen, and the off-chance you might run into Jack Edwards in the corridors between periods, and that's quite the lung workout.

The game started out on a tentative note, with both teams feeling each other out, and it never seemed to hit cruising speed. My impression was that the Canadiens were awaiting, almost fearful, for a Lucician Flying Suplex or a Chara Clothesline. Meanwhile, the Bruins seemed to be walking on eggshells, as if Claude Julien had given them strict marching orders to not lose their heads as they usually do against the Habs, and I'll be darned if they didn't actually listen to him. It did lead them to appear as if they had a foot on the dock and a foot in the boat, a little bit unsteady and indecisive: "Oh yeah, almost forgot, don't spear that guy... Oops, came close to slashing that guy's premolar there... Man, my elbows are really itchy right now..." A Bruin with a hockey stick in his hands is like that Viking holding a spiky, evil-looking mace in the Far Side cartoon, who confides in his tablemate that it always makes him want to smash something, as another Viking walks in the door innocently having just blown a big bubblegum bubble. Substitute the Viking with the bubblegum with a hockey player in bleu blanc rouge and you get the analogy.

Alexei Emelin started off the game with a great hit on David Krejci that must have hurt, since we didn't really hear from Mr. Krejci for the rest of the game. In retaliation, Johnny Boychuk attempted to cowgirl Josh Gorges, and Zdeno Chara, with David Desharnais nowhere in sight, decided to pick on Mike Cammalleri. Overall, Mr. Emelin played a good game, and showed his worth on the lineup, as they are replete with small shifty stickhandlers, but need some toughness, which he brings to the table. The more icetime he receives, the better he will get.

I tried to find the positives in Scott Gomez' shifts, and earlier on I did observe him behind the Bruins' net fighting for the puck and laying a shoulder into the Boston defencemen. Shortly thereafter though, he loafed on a backcheck which led to the lone Boston goal, a lazy play which was replayed ad nauseam on RDS. Mr. Gomez was possibly letting up since a delayed penalty call was on, and he was probably expecting/hoping for a Canadiens to touch the puck and a whistle, which is an explanation but obviously not an excuse.

Erik Cole didn't get a lot of icetime tonight as opposed to previous games, which may have to do with the hit he received in the first period by Dennis Seidenberg and which sent him back to the bench wincing. This putative owie wasn't enough of a reason to prevent a Bergeron Conniption on l'Antichambre, with a chart being developed showing the powerplay icetime of Mr. Cole compared to Mr. Gomez and Darche, among others. I agree that Erik Cole should be played as much as possible, and that to take icetime away from Mr. Gomez to feed him is a no-brainer. Further, I want him to shoot more, instead of trying to set up David Desharnais so often. Erik has to realize that he's the sniper, not the dealer, and he needs to be more selfish for the good of the team. I'll allow passes to Max Pacioretty, but only in a minority of possessions.

Benoit Pouliot was retina-abradingly bad. A dumb two-minute penalty was his opening bid, which he then raised with a stupid double minor on a high-stick. While the other Bruins showed restraint and remained focused for once in Montreal, Mr. Pouliot apparently tried to pump himself up for an important game against his former team, but it was all fake emotion, illegal stickwork instead of genuine passion shown by skating and hitting hard, and acting like he wants the puck, like now, and bad. Mr. Pouliot reminds me of a very, very amplified and distorted St├ęphane Richer, a player possessing vast physical skills and attributes but lacking the mental makeup to harness these and apply them productively. Of course, Mr. Richer did manage some magnificent moments and seasons, and his mental health issues are now well-documented. It remains to be seen what is the problem with Mr. Pouliot, but I feel confident, since he is on pace for an 8 goal season, in making the prediction that he will be out of the NHL next season.

I also saw Brad Marchand skating down the left wing a couple of times and making a hasty pass as PK Subban lurked nearby, so maybe that famous hit has sown the seeds of doubt.

An unfortunate loss for Les Glorieux, but one which showed that the Canadiens match up well with the powerhouse Bruins.

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