Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Game 22: Montreal 4, Carolina 3 (SO)

The Canadiens outlook keeps coming into sharper focus. The Canadiens had their hands full eking out a win against the Hurricanes. Sure, this was an away game for the Good Guys, but for them to be a factor in the post-season they need to regularly, easily beat teams like the Islanders and Hurricanes, it can't be a crapshoot.

Hal Gill came back from injury tonight, and we would have thought he would solidify the defence and strengthen the team, but they seemed relatively lethargic and error-prone. PK Subban came in for some criticism from the Antichambre panel, for being passionless. Is this the flipside of what I have been asking of him since the start of the season, to not try to do too much and choose the easy play over the artistic, spectacular one? If he cuts down on the blunders and spinneramas, does it also temper his will to win?

Carey Price showed he was human tonight, but came through in the shootout, which is what we should hope for. His game reminded me of some of Ken Dryden's gems, when he'd let in a softie and we would howl that Michel Larocque should play instead. What we failed to realize back then, and only fully understood in the harsh light of 1980 when Bunny had the job fulltime, was that Mr. Dryden would let in a weak goal once in a while because he could afford to. When it was time to bear down, he would and the Canadiens would skate off with the win after a few of his brilliant saves in the third, which were usually followed by an insurance goal by Steve Shutt with 8 minutes to go and an empty-netter by Doug Jarvis.

The Canadiens' scorers will need to cash in more of their opportunities for them to win with any regularity. They can't rely on Travis Moen to pot timely goals and for Carey to be otherworldly every night.

In other news, Paul Gaustad, who had deferred to later his avowed vengeance upon Milan Lucic for his charge on Ryan Miller, chose tonight to wreak havoc on Mr. Lucic's knuckles with his chin. It was a weak showing by him, but forgivable given Mr. Lucic's size and reputation. While Mr. Gaustad has comparable size in statistical terms, we can clearly see from the footage of his fight that he doesn't have his opponent's strength or pugilistic skill, his size is more Hal Gill-size than Zdeno Charo-size. He certainly seemed more menacing against Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri a few games back. Again, this kind of nonsense could have been averted had Brendan Shanahan taken care of business instead of leaving it to the Sabres to open themselves up to injury and concussion by having to fight Mr. Lucic.

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