Sunday, 26 February 2012

Game 63: Montréal 2, Florida 4

Before I fault the Canadiens for being inattentive and lacking commitment for tonight's game, I have to look in the mirror and admit that I am guilty of the same offences. I didn't pay attention to the game, occupying myself with chores and making dinner. I didn't quite sleep during the game, but I did kind of go in a trance in the second period during which five or ten minutes of game time kind of slipped by, and I didn't bother rewinding the PVR.

While at work today, I'd remind myself that there was a rare Sunday game on later, and would start to fidget, pining for the day to end. I'd then remember the current vibe with this team, and realize, on repeated occasions, that the game didn't mean anything, and might very well be a dud. Immediately after, I'd remember how anxious I was for the season to start this summer, and tell myself I'm going to enjoy the last twenty games whether I like it or not.

So I tried to enjoy the game, and it was easier at first, seeing David Desharnais, slippery as an eel, again making a much bigger, stronger defenceman look silly on the Canadiens' first goal. We have been tub-thumping lately, as a fan base, that we must as a team get bigger, but we need to remind ourselves that bigger isn't invariably better. There is room on the team for different skillsets, such as Mr. Desharnais quickness, which he evidenced along with his determination and courage by skating around Ed Jovanovski and taking the puck to the net with authority.

I was also heartened that P.K. is finally listening to me, as shown by his goal when he did his big, big windup as a predictable prelude for his errant slapshot, but then reeled it back in and skated around the erstwhile shotblocker, who was down on one knee and had taken himself out of the equation. P.K. took two strides toward the middle and from there could see the whole glove-side top corner of the net wide open, but nothing of the goalie since he was being screened by Erik Cole. P.K. didn't miss, putting the puck top shelf as I cried "Hallelujah!"

Then came the unraveling. I don't have a clear narrative of what happened, or how or why, since I was averting my eyes for a large percentage of the remaining broadcast. There were flashes, glimpses. Yannick Weber, Raphaël Diaz and Tomas Kaberle being bottled in their own end for long periods of time. Andrei Kostitsyn receiving a pass while wide open at the top of the faceoff circle, unchecked and with the opposing defenceman in the process of stumbling backward on his skates. Andrei deciding that, since there was no one blocking his way to the net, a veritable boulevard inviting him to roll toward the goalie, who incidentally was not screened in the least, he was going to one-time an anodyne slapper at him. Decidedly, he is a slow learner. I salivate to think what Erik might have done with that chance, and how Andrei, sitting on the bench, would have learned nothing from that example either.

Now we wait for the trade deadline tomorrow. And adjust our expectations. Downward. When the Hal Gill trade was announced, we had dollar signs in our eyes, counting our figurative draft chickens way before they hatched. Since then, our UFA's seem to be have obliterated their own trade value with their spiritless play. No GM is watching Chris Campoli skate around and thinking that he's the missing piece. He's barely a pawn. Tomas Kaberle and Andrei Kostitsyn are covered in ten-foot pole marks. Scott Gomez is a leprous Typhoid Maria, steeped in PCB's and setting off Geiger counters at a thousand paces. We're reduced to hoping that we can trade Mathieu Darche for something worthwhile, but then sign him to a new contract this July 1st as if nothing happened, unopposed by his new team or the rest of the league. Grim.

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