Saturday, 6 April 2013

Game 38: Canadiens 2, Bruins 1

I had the option tonight, so went with the CBC telecast of the game, but only because it was in High Def, I only get RDS in standard def.  Since the Canadiens-Bruins game was the national game, I assumed we'd get the first-string play-by-play team and Jim Hughson, who I like from his years doing Canucks games, but what do you know, we get the doddering fossil Bob Cole again.  I'm not going to get into details to explain how far gone he is, and how it's been five years at least since he jumped the shark.

One anecdote though, is Cassie Campbell doing an in-game feature on Carey Price for a couple of minutes, and mentioning that he wears a heart-rate monitor during each game, which helps him and the training staff figure out how many calories he burned and how much he should eat and rest as a consequence.  She then turned it over to poor old Bob, who went: "Oookaaay, Cassie..."  You could just imagine the rusty gears in his head groaning and straining to understand what she'd said, and what's a 'hard raid manager' anyway, and who's that nice girl they keep handing a microphone to anyway?  She must be someone's nice granddaughter or something.

I really need to find a way to get RDS in HD.

Tonight's game should, but probably won't, reassure all those Canadiens fans who have what I've decided to call "Bruins issues", and want a bigger, huger, truculenter team to slay Zdeno Chara and eviscerate Milan Lucic.  We all need to realize that size in and of itself is not an unalloyed boon.  Bigger sometimes means stronger, but it more often means slower and less agile.  While the Canadiens sometimes get pasted, as Brendan Gallagher did by noted tough guy David Krejci (how's that for a case of facilitated aggression), and these are noteworthy events that trigger in a lot of us our inferiority complexes, they are also relentless in their skating, on the forecheck and backcheck.  They hop on the ice, go all out for thirty seconds, stop and go and stop and go again, and then clear the puck and change so the next line can do that again. And again.

Our boys are also waterbug quick, they pounce on loose skittering pucks before the Bruins' lumbering behemoths can get to them.  They're quick with their sticks, so even when the Big Bad Bruins are battling on the boards, their putative strength advantage doesn't translate into wins in the puck battles department.

Another advantage our team has is that our powerplay is efficient and not to be provoked, while theirs is laughably impotent.  That last-minute 6-on-4 had my heart racing, the suspense was killing me.  Any second now, I felt a killer backdoor pass was coming, or one of their snipers would stride into the slot and roof it.  And the seconds dwindled, and the pressure built, and I was off my couch... until the last ten seconds or so, when it dawned on me that the Bruins were actually killing the penalty for us.  It seemed to me for those last ten seconds, they'd actually given up, knew they were going nowhere and knew they weren't going to score, and kind of passed the puck to each other to drain the clock, kind of like a defenceman behind his net in a three goal differential game, just kind of stickhandling the puck back and forth, watching the clock and waiting for the game to end.  The New Forum crowd knew it too, they started applauding the win when there was three or four seconds left in the game.  I thought at that moment that the Bruins' dressing room issues that were bruited a week or so ago might have some strong grounding in reality.  If I were a Bruins fan, I'd definitely not be impressed with the comportment and body language of my team in those last few seconds.

So yeah, definite special teams advantage on our end, especially now with the Penalty Kill teams rounding into form after a few adjustments and the addition of Jeff Halpern.  If the refs call the game as they did tonight during the playoffs, if an incident of outright, institutionalized Bruin thuggery like Milan Lucic's crosscheck to the back of a prone Tomas Plekanec's head is met with an obviously deserved two-minute penalty, then we'll make short work of those guys in the playoffs.  We don't have to worry about being too small, they have to worry about their defence being too slow.  We won three out of four this season, and the trend is looking better for us than for them.

Kudos to the defenceman for holding the fort after they were a man down.  When I played I used to like those games when we were one or two d-men short, it meant more icetime for me and I could really get into the game. You'd play slightly longer shifts at a more sedate pace, kept things simple, didn't try too many rushes or anything, just corralled the puck quickly and fed it to the forwards, let the puck do the work.  Those guys hung on to a one-goal lead for half the game, and took whatever the Bruins threw at them and kept it together.

Alexei Emelin went down with what I hope is a charley horse and not worse after his collision with Milan Lucic.  Kudos to him for trying to land a good hit on him.  I'm on the fence as to the legality and ethics of Mr. Lucic's reaction.  It's not quite premeditated, since he was reacting to the situation and his teammates on the bench yelling "Heads up!", but the raised knee, which he described post-game as "bracing myself", brings to mind his feeble, mendacious explanation to his assault on Ryan Miller.  And we know that Brad Marchand reacts to oncoming bodycheckers by submarining them, so the Bruins have a dirty culture in this specific area as well.

So a big four-pointer that slaps the Bruins back down the standings.  P.K. continues his quest to rescue my fantasy team from injuries to Ryan Getzlaf, Tomas Plekanec, Patrice Bergeron, Vincent Lecavalier, and, most crushingly, Erik Karlsson, by chipping in another two assists tonight.  The kid is golden.  And speaking of golden children, how about Alex Galchenyuk scoring his second goal in as many games.  Good job kid, keep working hard like you've done all season, and the bounces will start to go your way again.

Now if the New Forum ice maintenance team can just get the surface to David Krejci's liking, everything will be perfect....

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