Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Game 58: Montréal 3, Boston 4 (SO)

The Bruins often accuse the Canadiens of being a chippy team, a yellow team that slashes and spears and hits with their stick but refuses to fight. They claim that they are more manly because they are willing to square up man to man and drop the gloves and settle things like men. This is a question of perception, however, since I see them as a team that beats up on Tom Pyatt and Jaroslav Spacek but runs away from Georges Laraque and hides behind the ref after receiving an attitude adjustment from Colton Orr.

Another meme propagated by the slimy Jack Edwards is that the Canadiens are a team that dives to draw penalties. Well tonight, we saw the mother of all dives by Sean Thorton, a player lionized as a warrior and a worker and who is currently ranked second behind Doug Gilmour on the list of NHL'ers most likely to be fellated by Don Cherry. Mr. Thornton got creamed in the first period by Alexei Emelin, splattered himself against the glass, turned to see if the refs were calling an infraction, went into a spasmodic collapse during which he, curiously enough, first rose on his feet and straightened, before he gently came down on the ice, carefully, on his hands and knees and then softly onto his elbows, before finally stretching out on his yellow belly. At which point, for a second looking for all the world as if he had been knocked out cold, he lifted his head to see if he had drawn a penalty for his Razzy-worthy performance, then got up and carried on, miraculously revived.

It was a dive of European League soccer quality, one for which he should be ashamed, and publicly humiliated and scorned from without. He should get a ten games suspension for undermining the integrity of the league, which can easily pick out these dives on HD slow-motion replay. The refs have a difficult job as it is, without having to worry about these crumplers. Also, they threaten to muddle the picture of what to do about concussions. If everyone who receives a bodycheck crumples to the ice and clutches at his face or head to draw a penalty on the other team, it will make the diagnosis of concussions that much more difficult.

The Max Pacioretty-David Desharnais-Erik Cole was again the best trio for the Canadiens, working hard and showing teeth all game. Max seems to be completely recovered from the injury he suffered last season, and the suspension he incurred for his head hit on Kris Letang. He's trying some Erik Cole moves and trying to muscle around defencemen on the rush, but his real ace in the hole is his shot, and the way he snaps it off quickly. David again showed how he plays bigger than his size. On their shift after the Mathieu Darche goal, he showed heart and intelligence, first by forechecking effectively against Jordan Caron and just bumping him off the puck, and then pursuing it to the other corner where he pressured Andrew Ference into a giveaway.

Speaking of giveaways, Hal Gill committed a doozy in the first which led to the first Bruins goal by Andrew Ference, who didn't have a problem with his finger getting stuck in his glove on that particular sequence. Mr. Gill can't make too many mistakes like that, or they'll depress his trade value. When playing against the Bruins, we can understand that a defenceman might be a little skittish when trying to retrieve the puck in the corner, but Mr. Gill's stock in trade is steady dependable play in his own zone, so we could have hoped for a little more concentration and determination on that play.

Brad Marchand again contaminated the game of hockey tonight, going low on a hit he delivered against Alexei Emelin, and on a hit delivered by P.K. Subban. We can dream that the NHL will be consistent and will hand down a ten-game suspension against Mr. Marchand, after dishing out five games in response to a similar infraction against Sami Salo of the Canucks. What's more likely is that Brendan Shanahan and Colin Campbell will feel they painted themselves into a corner and will contort themselves to rationalize why Mr. Marchand will walk scot free.

Overall, the game was enjoyable and entertaining, but finished with the worst result the Canadiens could have hoped for. The Bruins skate off with a win and two points on our ice, but we are saddled with a loser point that will hurt our chances at a high draft pick, a veritable lose-lose.

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