Thursday, 29 December 2011

Game 38: Montréal 3, Tampa Bay 4

We talked earlier about how there's no substitute for talent in the NHL. The Canadiens were victims of a couple of questionable goals tonight, but more to the point, they were the victims of two great players, namely Vincent Lecavalier and Steve Stamkos. Both scored to help edge the Canadiens, who gave up a two-goal lead to a team they are battling with to get into the playoffs.

Raphaël Diaz continued his hot streak, with two more assists. P.K. Subban showed more restraint in his game, but at the end of the game, when it was appropriate, he took more chances to try to get the tying goal. I applauded his efforts as he rushed the puck and tried to go coast to coast with it with 90 seconds left. He also made a sound decision in deciding to stay on the offensive blueline instead of retreating to back up Alexei Emelin as he was pressured while trying to get a handle of the puck. When he did eventually lose it, P.K. raced back, showing great acceleration, and broke up the play. All in all, a good game for Mr. Subban, who I've been critical of this season, but only because I love him, and want him to succeed.

Hal Gill was also effective in his own way. I saw him play Ryan Malone close on a couple occasions, and that seemed to calm down the hulking Lightning forward tonight, compared to his appearance in Montreal during the pre-season. While some assail Mr. Gill for not dropping the gloves, he is still an imposing figure and he tends to cool opponents' tempers.

David Desharnais, denuded of his big wingers, is now condemned to ineffectiveness. Again tonight, he won puck battles along the boards, darted in and out of traffic, went to the front of the net, wasting everyone's time since it's hopeless for him without Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty. He had to slink off the ice with a puny goal and measly assist. In a completely unrelated matter, his new winger Mike Cammalleri seems to be reborn, with another goal tonight.

On a puzzling note, during the telecast on RDS the hosts and panelists chuckled on a couple of occasions about Eric Brewer getting his clock cleaned by Wayne Simmonds during the Lightning's most recent game against the Flyers. The latter showed again a propensity for picking his spots, goading and slashing Mr. Brewer into a fight that he won handily, and somehow did not draw the instigator penalty. The Lightning were concerned that Mr. Brewer might have suffered a concussion and he was almost held out of tonight's game, but somehow that amused Benoit Brunet and Vincent Damphousse. We still have a ways to go.

I'll be looking on with interest to see if Mr. Simmonds takes on Milan Lucic the next time he plays the Bruins. He didn't show the same determination to get at Mr. Lucic after his hit on Flyer Zac Rinaldo. I had also noticed that Mr. Simmonds acted like a cheap thug during his first game against the Canadiens, but was much better behaved the second time around when faced regularly with Travis Moen and Alexei Emelin, who had missed the first game.

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