Friday, 20 January 2012

Game 47: Montréal 4, Pittsburgh 5 (SO)

Where to start? I could go on and on about giving Scott Gomez the opportunity to take a shootout attempt. In terms of strategy, and in terms of setting an example to the team that performance and effort and results will be rewarded, what a horrible coach's decision. Mr. Cunneyworth must have been playing a huge hunch, and Mr. Gomez responded by rolling snake eyes. Maybe Mr. Cunneyworth has thrown in the towel too, and doesn't believe he'll be here beyond the spring. In this case, he should understand that the rest of the season is his audition for another job. Not too many GM's will look favourably on this and other headscratchers he's made lately.

This near-win was brought to you by Marc-André Fleury. He appeared weak on two Montreal goals, and staked the Canadiens a two-goal lead twice. As a trusty veteran though, he shut the door in the third period and allowed his team to come back.

Peter Budaj, meanwhile, battled the puck all game, with a few Palmateeresque saves as he flopped around like a dolphin in a tuna net, the puck ping-ponging around him. What seemed early on to be a good decision to rest Carey Price didn't turn out well. He, as opposed to Mr. Fleury, got weaker as the game progressed. He ended playing just well enough to lose.

Two of my whipping boys, Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Kaberle, both tallied two points, which is positive in that this will help their eventual trade value. Mr. Kaberle was so awful defensively on some sequences that I laughed out loud out loud. Andrei was productive, cashing in some opportunities. I noticed him a couple of times trying to carry the puck into the offensive zone, which affirmed the perception that he's a sniper but not much of a playmaker.

David Desharnais again punched above his weight class, buzzing around in the offensive zone, fighting hard along the boards, and I observed two solid, effective bodychecks against bigger opponents that separated them from the puck.

The unavoidable topic of conversation though is P.K. Subban's theatrics tonight. Personally, I give up on him. He's now in the Darcy Tucker-Claude Lemieux category, a player I'm ashamed to have on my team. His outburst on the bench with assistant coach Randy Ladouceur was embarrassing. Anyone, with any sense at all, knows that you don't argue with your boss. Especially in front of your coworkers. With 20 000 spectators watching and TV cameras pointed at you. That he went ahead and did so shows a significant lack of intellect, or at least emotional intelligence. Immediately after, during his shift on the Max Pacioretty goal, he was a whirling dervish, streaking up and down the ice trying to make things happen, being everywhere on the ice except where he should have been. When Peter Budaj made his outlet pass to Erik Cole, P.K. was nowhere in sight, having rushed far up the ice and generated an odd-man rush for the Penguins.

In the overtime period, P.K. was partnered with Josh Gorges and received an easy cross-ice pass from him as they were setting up the rush. They weren't being pressured and had clear possession of the puck, yet P.K. ineffectually, with complete lack of concentration and effort, muddled the puck back over to him, but softly and behind Josh, so that he had to turn around and race back to corral the puck in the corner. Josh got to wrestle with some big Penguins forwards for a few seconds and had his face tattooed on the glass for his trouble. I'll stress again that what was a routine situation turned into a life or death situation that Josh Gorges had to sacrifice and battle to rectify, solely due to Mr. Subban's putrid play and hockey IQ.

P.K. seems to be all wrapped up in himself. On the ice, he overthinks everything and expends effort at the wrong time, making the difficult play instead of the easy one way too often, but conversely doesn't bear down on the simple passes and places himself and his team in trouble.

During the preamble to the scrap between Chris Kunitz and Max Pacioretty, he rushed at Mr. Kunitz, seemingly to avenge a hard but clean hit on Erik Cole. Sure enough, all he did was yap and whirl around and let others do the fighting. That would have been a great time for him to expend some of that vaunted energy of his, and to display some of the gym strength he works so hard to attain. If not, he should just shut his yap and not try to start trouble.

I'll say it again. P.K. and Andrei Kostitsyn should be the nucleus of a package for Shea Weber.

Of course, trying to trade him now, when he has cratered his own trade value, and when the Canadiens are desperate and not dealing with other teams from a position of strength, is tantamount to organizational suicide, but the time has come to consider if trading him away would be a case of addition by subtraction.

Which means that what must happen is for Mr. Subban to get some sense and humility and discipline drilled into him. He needs to sit out three games and enjoy the view from the pressbox. Even better, let's send him to Hamilton for 10-20 games to find his game. And yes I'm serious.

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