A big win for les boys, a second in a row to start the season, as they rope-a-dope for half the game until they find their legs, and then start to take the game to the Capitals. This was a classic case of one team having another in trouble, but not being able to put them away. Good for us that we were able to capitalize on that.
When the shots reached 12-0 for the Capitals in the first period according to John Bartlett, I started to wonder why this was happening. Not that the team didn't look good, or appeared uninterested, but the ice was tilted in the Caps' favour. So I thought of the team playing a second game in 24 hours, both on the road. I thought of the fatigue of travel, of not having the opportunity to have even a proper morning skate, apparently it was just an optional skate for the scrubs. There was the matter of another team, a fresh team, holding its home opener for a full house of excited fans.
I know, I know, 'Pas d'excuses', but even if we take into account the fact that the Leafs are rotten to the core, it didn't explain the difference in showing from the previous night, there had to be a reason our boys were on their heels so much.
The Capitals banged more than expected, certainly more than the Leafs last night. Brooks Orpik and Matt Nyskanen have increased the toughness profile for that team, evidently, to add to players like Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr. The Canadiens are more resistant to such tactics this season, but we saw some rushed plays as a Canadien prepared for a oncoming Capital about to 'finish a check'.
The referees tried to keep things under control, calling lots of penalties, but as is endemic in the NHL, they couldn't see everything, or rather, couldn't whistle every infraction, modesty not allowing such outlandish behaviour. Refs also don't want to attract the fury of talking heads about them 'deciding the game', or 'stopping the flow'. Anyway, with five minutes left, we saw Brooks Orpik, after a bodycheck on Max Pacioretty, literally perform a wrestling takedown move, grabbing onto Max's shoulder and yanking him to the ice.
Again, a video referee would easily see these anti-hockey plays, and could have called the infraction, as well as the shameless dive by Alex Ovechkin. I guess he's going to get a stern letter from Daddy Campbell for that one, that'll learn him.
Right at the outset, the defence pairing were jumbled up, and I couldn't tell if that had been intentional, but early in the first Mike Weaver was on with Andrei Markov, and Tom Gilbert with Nathan Beaulieu. This didn't last however, the usual pairing resurfaced later on.
What change did last was putting Brendan Gallagher back on the top line, moving Jiri Sekac up to play with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk, and bumping P.A. Parenteau down to the third with Lars Eller and René Bourque. This did seem to jump start the team, and Tomas' line especially was flying.
P.K. had an uneven game. He plays with supreme confidence, and often makes spectacular plays by stickhandling through the opposition, or wheeling around and protecting the puck, but tonight he had a couple of plays where he crossed into lackadaisical or overly fancy territory. Not that he was lazy or uncommitted, but it seemed he trusted his talent more than effort on a couple of plays, notably when he casually flipped the puck into the Caps' zone to enable a change, but which allowed the Caps to quickly seize it and break out of their zone, almost catching the Canadiens off guard. The safer option, which we often encourage P.K. to select, would have been to move the puck beyond the red line and dump it in the Caps' zone deep.
Generally, the defence is as was predicted this summer, that they'd move the puck efficiently, but would be targeted by big opposition forwards for some punishment along the boards. A couple of times we saw Tom Gilbert and Nathan Beaulieu frantically swiveling their heads as they raced back to retrieve a puck.
In the third, the tide shifted, and Tomas tied the game with a laser in the very top corner to the left of the goalie. We then saw a disallowed goal by P.A. Parenteau on a clear goaltender interference call on René Bourque, who it can be argued was pushed into Braden Holtby. That push must have been why no penalty was called. Shortly after that, a René Bourque rocket clanged off the the post-crossbar corner and bounced out. It was called a goal at first, but waved off after video review.
Unfortunately I missed the OT and shootout, since I set my PVR to end the recording too early, because apparently I'm a beginner at this, it'll take me another three or four years of experience before I master this intricacy, the possibility that maybe a game might run long so I should allow an extra 30 minutes of recording time.
Canadiens Express made short shrift of the OT, and bizarrely, only showed the Nicholas Backstrom and Alex Galchenyuk shootout goals before skipping to the winning Brendan Gallagher goal that won the game. If I'm condensing the game into an hour with edits, keeping only the more exciting bits, you can bet I'm going to show the whole shootout, let the suspense build, and not take a chainsaw to the drama. As it is, Brendan scored, I saw a graphic with a bunch of x's in the upper right, tried to figure out why Brendan was the second Canadien to shoot, and out of sequence, when the bench celebrated and the game was over and I felt anti-climacted. Robbed.
Thank you Gary Bettman.