Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Game 61: Montréal 0, Dallas 3

Why is it that Adam Pardy, a 6'4" 220 lbs 'player' who has four goals in 172 NHL games is allowed to grab Aaron Palushaj by the head, with both hands, after the whistle, in full view of both officials, and wrench and twist him down to the ice, for the offence of being near the Stars goaltender, without a penalty? He barely got a reproving look from a referee, who gave him an equivocal shrug. What was he trying to communicate? "I already gave you a penalty for crosschecking Max Pacioretty from behind into the boards, and the Canadiens haven't had a penalty yet to your team's three, and there was a delayed penalty already called so I don't want to put you guys on a 5 on 3, but if you make it too obvious I may have to actually call it when you assault somebody."? Or was it: "Dude, on a takedown like that you run the risk of these fans calling 911 to report a crime"? Indeed, the only thing more WWE-worthy (I was reminded of the Iron Sheik or Abdullah the Butcher, or maybe Michel 'Justice' Dubois) than the grappling move was ineptitude of the referees. I was outraged; I almost defenestrated my plasma screen.

The good thing about my outrage over the officiating is that it kept me from focusing too much on the boys in bleu blanc et rouge, I might have been too harsh on them. They are, as we discussed after the last game, overmatched against most NHL clubs, and especially so tonight, with Tomas Plekanec unable to play with the flu. Added to the absence of Brian Gionta and Travis Moen, and with Mathieu Darche ailing, the Canadiens have two NHL-worthy lines and then a mishmash of AHL'ers rounding out the roster. For them to win, Carey has to be miraculous, which he certainly wasn't tonight. They have to play inspired, fervent hockey, which they must be finding hard to do as they realize that they must now play out the string.

The players seemed resigned to their fate on the bench. Erik Cole, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban, and maybe a couple more, fought to the end, and displayed obvious effort. René Bourque also was dangerous; maybe he realizes that unless he pots a few he will be sentenced to defensive duty with Scott Gomez for the rest of the season.

The upshot of today's loss is that, in light of the return the Tampa Bay Lightning received for Steve Downie, the Canadiens are having a giant clearance sale. All the usual suspects that have been blogged about in the last few months (Travis Moen, Andrei Kostitsyn, Chris Campoli, Tomas Kaberle, and maybe others if the price is right) will be following Hal Gill out of town. It's up to Pierre Gauthier to skilfully manoeuvre the bidding process to set the Canadiens up for years to come, if he wishes to remain in his post.

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