Thursday, 9 October 2014

Game 1: Canadiens 4, Leafs 3

Overall a good-great result for our team, a satisfying opening win on the road.  The game was all about skating and speed, not the usual goonery we associate with the Leafs.  The broadcast was as expected, with a boorish studio team of Doug McLean and Nick Kypreos treating it as a local telecast of a Leafs game.  They were saying "we" a lot when referring to the Leafs.

Still, I'll make quick work of that with my trusty PVR, FFWD over the icky intermission bits, and go right to the action.

Quick hits: 

-  Encouraging performance from P.A. Parenteau, skating and forechecking and effort-wise.

- Dion Phaneuf is awful, got skated around by Max on his goal, and later by Alex Galchenyuk.  I wonder if they came around to his side to exploit a flagrant weakness, two LW attacking on the right side.

- Nazem Kadri is less yappy and crosschecky without Colton Orr, Mike Brown, Mark Fraser and Frazer McLaren around.  When the whistle goes, all the Leafs stop digging and go to the faceoff circle.  Refreshing.

-  Jim Hughson is his usual excellent self.  At one point he describes a wheeling Brendan Gallagher as "the diminutive Giant".  Worked on so many levels.  Great stuff.  

-  I still didn't feel good about Mr. Bozak scoring, even though I landed him on my fantasy team.  I'm a doofus, I was engrossed in the NFL games on Sunday, forgot about my fantasy draft, and the Autodraft picked me two Leafs and a Bruin and a Steve Downie.  Gross.

-  Penalty kill has a different feel, with fast players who might break for more short-handed goals, instead of the fortress-block-every shot-collapse-around-Carey-rope-a-dope we had before.  I like this pressure method more.

- Carey is in max chill-out mode, one game into the season.  Everything's easy.  He might be worth a couple wins over the course of the year, maybe three.

-  Max was flying, strong on the puck.  Is it possible the extra responsibility put on his shoulders has made him kick it up a notch?  Not just ramp up his game even, but change it qualitatively?  He'd often in the past lurk, look for open areas, ready for a snipe.  There was more of a take-charge quality to his game, he was more Erik Cole than Michael Ryder.

-  David was flying and hustling as well.  During last season's opening swoon he seemed abashed to be out there.  Maybe he's now going to take that half-step forward, realize that he's now a veteran and needs to provide leadership, rather than defer to Brian Gionta and other longer-serving veterans.  Great stuff from him all game.

-  How good can that Tomas Plekanec line be, with the kids on either wing?  Is the sky the metaphorical limit?  Sure, they're not Brandon Kozun or anything, but I wouldn't swap.

-  A thought about Lars Eller: during the game, he wheeled around the net with the puck and at first seemed headed for another skate on the periphery, he took the puck to the corner and was pointed towards the blue line.

But then, he remembered all my posts he’s read which enjoin him to take the puck to the net. He may also have been thinking of Marc Bergevin’s statement that he needs to play like a big powerful player with skill, instead of like a skill player who happens to have size.

So he stopped short, Cosmo Kramer/Frank Costanza-style, and veered left to the net, and got off a shot to the net which could have tipped in or produced a cashable rebound.

Nice work Lars.

-  And René too. I love it when you want the puck and act accordingly, and fire shots at the net. Keep it up big guy.

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