Elliotte Friedman as always is excellent, and he's dropped a few pounds and gotten a haircut since last season, when he'd given up and let himself go.
I've always enjoyed Damien Cox, despite the faint arrogance he emits. He's strong, knowledgeable, authoritative, and opinionated without any histrionics.
The new host George Strombolopoulos is a definite plus. I like all his work, and he'll get the hang of this gig, he's vastly improved already from the first show, in terms of the segues and timing.
Paul Romanuk who called the game is doing okay, I used to enjoy his game calls, enthusiasm and sense of humour. Still strange that they fished him out of the U.K. when there is already so much talent in Canada, when Mark Lee was left to wither on the vine, but that's not a knock on Mr. Romanuk.
I'm very happy that Stephen Brunt is being used for long form reports. He did great work with the back story on the small town in Sweden that the Sedins and Peter Forsberg among others hail from. Mr. Brunt is not a barker, he has an understated tone, but I'm glad they're injecting his intellect and capacity to reflect to the broadcast.
Jean-Sébastien Giguère was a revelation. He was smooth, informative, relaxed, shifted from the desk to the ersatz ice surface effortlessly. The man has a future in broadcasting.
The negatives are still the same, the cheesy graphics, the assault on the senses that the sets are, all lucite and neon and LED's and incipient seizures. Imbeciles like P.J. Stock and Nick Kypreos who can barely speak and resist soiling themselves at the same time. And don't get me started on Bob Cole still haphazardly doing a job many younger broadcasters could do much, much better.
The game was a delight for a fan of the Habs. There were a couple of shots of a very expressive Patrick Roy after the Alex Galchenyuk and P.K. Subban goals. I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking.
"Ta-bar-naque... Maybe I should 'ave coach 'ere hinstead of the Colorado. P.K., Galchenyuk, y sont pas mauvais pantoute..."
Max needs to shoot on breakaways instead of trying to deke, leave those for P.K.
Alex Galchenyuk plays with impressive desire and confidence now. He's rising to the expectation level we set for him, for a player of his talent and experience. We talked a lot about the young defencemen benefiting from the departure of Josh Gorges, of the young leaders taking a step forward. Well maybe Alex is one of those guys who'll benefit most. There's no Brian Gionta or Daniel Brière for him to look to, for the team to rely on for the clutch goals and leadership. He seems to have taken a look around and realized he needed to assume the role. He's flying, swooping around, doing magical things with the puck. The first couple of seasons, the puck found Alex. Now, he's hungry for it, and he goes and gets it. Love it.
Jarred Tinordi is settling into his role, in that we don't notice him much, which is good for him, but would be bad for a Nathan Beaulieu. Nathan has to thrill us with his offensive acumen, and pile up point. Jarred has to be quietly dependable.
He also neutralized Cody McLeod when the Avs' forward thought he should 'jumpstart' or 'energize' his team by initiating a fight. Early in the tilt, you got the sense that Mr. McLeod was regretting his decision, that he knew he'd bit off more than he could chew. That's what I want from Jarred in this area, as much as possible. Don't start stuff, but if a Brian Boyle or a Dave Clarkson is looking for trouble, re-adjust their attitudes.
Brendan Gallagher didn't add to his point total, but he was the Tasmanian Devil again out there, the little buzzsaw that never quits. It was discouraging for us generally, in terms of the state of the game, when they showed a sequence where he held on to the puck, trying to take it from the corner to the net, protecting it, while a defencemen crosschecked and slashed him ceaselessly, with Mike Johnson happily narrating as if it isn't a problem, and all this happening right under the nose of a referee. He was right frigging there, in the frigging camera closeup, but didn't deign raise his arm, didn't deem any of the dozens of stick fouls committed by the Avs' defender a penalty.
Rule 59 - Cross-checking
So crosschecking isn't a penalty unless the crosscheck is too forceful. If a crosscheckee gamely resists and perseveres, no harm no foul right? Crosscheck away, crosschecker. But if the crosscheckee falls as a result, does he get a diving penalty? What's the line, a broken rib and punctured lung for the recipient, is that too forceful?
Again, a grey zone the size of Nunavut here. Slash away pal, as long as Mr. Magoo thinks you're being non-aggressive while swinging your stick. Don't mind the modulations as we adjust our tolerance level based on whether Daddy Campbell's son is playing, and all his cherubic gangmates.
The kicker was how, probably not more than thirty seconds later, they blew the whistle on P.K. for a holding call.
To paraphrase D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Bettman just don't understand.