Friday, 17 February 2012

Game 59: Montréal 4, Buffalo 3 (SO)

If the last game was a lose-lose, in that the Canadiens let the game slip to the hated Bruins, but they did pick up a draft-positioning killer loser point, this game was maybe a win-lose-lose: we won the game, but gave up an OT point to the Sabres, a team still, putatively, fighting for the last playoff spot against the Good Guys. And moved up from the cellar, making Nail Yakupov harder and harder to see from our vantage point.

P.K. Subban played big minutes due to Hal Gill's departure, and he was solid. He seems to be coming out of his season-long funk. Many theories are offered. There is the liberal application of tough love from coach Ladouceur, who is rapidly becoming one of my favourites. Some have mentioned that it is simple maturity and experience being gained by a young, promising defenceman who can't be shielded by older, more accomplished players higher up in the depth chart, 'cause we have none. An interesting point raised by the Antichambre trolls is that now that he's being used on the right point during the powerplay, instead of the left point to favour the one-timer, he's more comfortable and feels less pressure. It's the position he's played all his junior career, and it shows. Some defensemen like playing on the opposite side, but it's a relatively rare preference as it creates a bunch of problems you have to solve, notable gathering skittering pucks and clearing attempts against the boards on your backhand. Let's keep P.K. on the side he prefers for now, and wait for him to mature some more before we add complications and curlicues to his game.

P.K. also had some nice words to say about his mentor Hal Gill. He said all the right things, and it seemed heartfelt. It's good to see him comport himself with class and being humble. I hope it continues to seep in to his on-ice game.

Mr. Gill's departure will force us to play Yannick Weber and Raphaël Diaz more, which is good, but also Chris Campoli and Tomas Kaberle more, about which the jury is still, charitably, out. A hopeful sign is that both scored nice goals tonight. We may hope that the added responsibility on and off the ice for those veterans will cause them to step it up a notch.

An interesting aspect of the game was that the big Sabres forwards didn't take liberties with our players, as they have in the recent past. Again, Bob Gainey's Virage Vitesse was a noble experiment, but the size added to the roster recently has made the team not such an easy target anymore. The spunk of Ryan White is a welcome break from the usual seventh D as the 12th forward or Aaron Palushaj or Andreas Engqvist. As long as we don't add idiots like Chris Neil or bullies like pretty much everyone on the Bruins, I'll be okay with the size vs. speed tradeoff. Especially if our size comes with a healthy dollop of skating and skill as shown by Erik Cole and René Bourque.

No comments:

Post a Comment