Friday, 24 February 2012

Game 62: Montréal 1, Washington 4

When the Hal Gill trade was announced, I was happy with the fact that we had turned an expiring contract into assets for the future. I thought his contribution would have been important if not crucial for a post-season run, but as we were now eliminated, we had basically got three somethings for essentially nothing. Another plus was the opportunity for our youngsters to play more minutes in a penalty killing or shutdown role at the end of games. We had taken from the team a vestigial organ, like our appendix, which once had a useful function but now was at least superfluous, so no harm had been done, right?

One thing which I did not foresee was how much the trade would let the air out of the balloon for the team. We had crowed greatly about how Hal Gill provided leadership, and was good in the dressing room, we just never thought everyone would be so glum if he was to leave. For the last week, the Good Guys have been lethargic, apathetic. The night of the trade, they played hard against the Sabres, as if refusing to accept the message management was sending. Since then, they seemed resigned to their lot in life, and are playing out the string without direction or fire. The boys have capitulated.

I'm not saying that they have voluntarily decided to play with less effort. This is more of an unconscious reaction, the team as a group doesn't have a common goal. A few are on tenter hooks waiting for Monday's trade deadline, wondering if they'll have to pack their bags. Each player is looking at his neighbours and teammates and absorbing the malaise. Lame duck Randy Cunneyworth's good guy act is ill-suited for these conditions, he is powerless to reverse the tide.

The Canadiens' brand of hockey wasn't necessarily a wide-open game, but it was never boring. The players had passion and fought hard, and celebrated when they won and battled to the end when they didn't. Tonight, the game was downright soporific. Seeing players like Scott Gomez and Tomas Kaberle mailing it in was disheartening.

Our favourite whipping boys were down to their old tricks again. I never liked or respected Tomas Kaberle as a Leaf. I felt that if he was my teammate I would have a serious problem with his obvious lack of effort. His decisions and reactions to situations are appalling. I understand that Mr. Gauthier felt the risk we ran in acquiring him was acceptable if it allowed the powerplay to revive. Unfortunately, this hasn't been the case, and his poor effort and exemplar for our younger players presently contaminate the team. He is the rotten apple, and must be taken out of the barrel.

A spirited debate on HIO today centred on Scott Gomez, and whether he deserved the opprobrium heaped on him for the last two seasons. A mention was made of stats and metrics, the Fenwick measurement was brandished. I'm still not sure what Fenwick is all about, and I'll delve into it now since the rest of this season is going to be dedicated to development. I do know that Mr. Gomez was on the ice for the first three Capitals goals. I'd like someone to cast this in a positive light. In the meantime, I believe that he is also an undesirable on the team, and must be excised and his minutes handed to our future players.

Also, we can hope that the recent signings of Tuomo Ruutu and Ales Hemsky shrink the pool of available scoring wingers, and that it firms up the demand for Andrei Kostitsyn. It would be great if an offence-starved team overpaid for our enigmatic Belarussian.

We could list the positives about tonight, as the new German managers listed the laid off workers of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant over the loudspeakers:
"Blake Geoffrion scored the winning goal for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the shootout. 
That is all."

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