Saturday, 3 January 2015

Game 39: Canadiens 4, Penguins 1

-- The sound on the Sportsnet broadcast was execrable at the start of the game.  Dave Randorf, who was obviously calling the game into a tin can on a string from the bottom of an aquarium, was inaudible for much of the first period.  Meanwhile, the sound coming from the ice surface was screeching loud.  Every skate blade biting into the ice, the thud of the puck off the boards, that was miked way, way too loud, it drowned out everything else.  

I wanted to start up a Twitter account just so I could yell at those clowns to get it right.  Completely unacceptable that they fumble something as simple as this.  

Tom Cruise has a movie sound production company that has some ties to his Scientology racket, and when he was defending his practice of forcing studios to employ them, he argued that sound is even more important than the image, that it affects human beings on a visceral level, and that you really notice it when it's done wrong.  Now, I don't trust anything Tom Cruise says ever, but being subjected to this amateurish effort made his divagations more creditable.

Boo Sportsnet.

Thank you Gary Bettman.

-- Bad giveaway by Nathan Beaulieu very early in the first when he lost the puck, which set up a scrambly desperate minute in our end, and I feared a social media meltdown if the Pens scored as a result.  Nathan got some grief and a spell in Hamilton after a bad giveaway earlier this season.  Good thing that nothing came of this one, and Max scored shortly thereafter to open the scoring.

The thing is, they are completely different plays.  The last giveaway against these same Penguins was an error of obstinance, knowing what you're about to do is the wrong thing, what your coaches keep telling you not to do, to choose the easy, safe play instead, but you take the risky option anyway, and it comes back to bite you.

Tonight, the giveaway was a flub, a bobble of the puck.  It's an error of execution, not a lack of effort or resistance to coaching or common sense.  It's comparable to dinging your dad's car after he lends it to you.  Sure it's frustrating, but these things are going to happen with young drivers.  The previous game's giveaway, that was akin to your dad telling you you couldn't take the car, but you take it anyway and wreck it and alcohol and the police are involved.  That one is harder to forgive.

-- Speaking of meltdowns, PenguinsInsideOut must have imploded at the announcement that offensively-gifted young defenceman Derrick Pouliot was a healthy scratch.  Michel Therrien is evidently out to ruin him, even a decade after leaving Pittsburgh. 

-- A little surprising that Chris Kunitz, who was kind of jammed into the Team Canada forwards corps for the 2014 Olympics, against the healthy skepticism of Canadian fans, due to his being putatively irreplaceable on Sidney Crosby's wing, is now on a third line for the Pens.  What happens in 2018, now Steve Downie has to be on Team Canada?

-- Speaking of giveaways, Sergei Gonchar tried to get cute and do a pass through the middle too in the first period, instead of hammering it off the boards on his backhand.  Sure enough, it ticked right to Evgeni Malkin, who passed to Brian Rust and forced Carey Price into making a strong glove save.  Sergei banged his stick on the ice after the play, knowing he'd done wrong.  But he's a decorated veteran, and that's where the scrutiny ends, really.

-- Aside from his half-hearted drive-by and skate-away spearing of Steve Downie, P.K. played a strong game, especially in his own zone, breaking up rushes, notably on Kris Letang with a great pokecheck.

-- I forget what a profound cretin Steve Downie is.  He fights Andrei Markov to the net, with Andrei having the inside track on him and trying to push him away from the crease.  Mr. Downie gets real low and resists and barrels into Carey Price, long after the puck was frozen and the whistle sounded.  When he gets called for a goalie interference, he swears and tantrums to the penalty box, where he punches the glass with his bare fist.  

-- Mike Johnson of Sportsnet had some questionable opinions during the telecast.  While he termed the above-mentioned penalty against Steve Downie questionable when it was really cut and dried, he advocated for a penalty against Brendan Gallagher on the play that Max Pacioretty scored the game's first goal.  He repeated a few times that Gally was in the blue paint, whereas his own network's camera shots clearly showed that his skates remained outside the whole time.  Only in the overhead camera shot did it seem like he was in, because he banked inside on his turn.  

Conversely, Nick Kypreos and Kelly Hrudey had some praise for the Canadiens' system and how much the players bought in and hustled and played a five-man defence, in stark contrast to the preceding segment where Nick Kypreos skewered the Leaf's Phil Kessel without really having to say too much, instead just by rolling video of his loafing during the previous game against the Wild.

-- Without Travis Moen or Mathieu Darche chugging along, or René Bourque drifting, man are the Canadiens fast in the forwards.  They backcheck and cause turnovers and they're off in the other direction instantly, it's great to see.

-- We've often said that Alexei Emelin was younger and played more physically than Josh Gorges, and had more offensive skill, although the latter didn't quite show up on the scoresheet.  You saw flashes of his ability with the puck, but it didn't quite click, we were still waiting.  

On his goal to seal the win, Alexei took the time to get closer to the net and for his forwards to get in position to block Marc-André Fleury's vision, before he let a rocket go that found the top corner.  Often Alexei will let go a quick wrister that will create a rebound, or at least an opportunity, but here he made the most of this occasion.

-- And can we put to rest the notion that Michaël Bournival has no offence, and is just a new version of Tom Pyatt?  He's a heady player, has speed to burn, and that adds up to trouble for defences.  He didn't pick up a point tonight after his two-goal effort yesterday, but played well with Lars Eller and Jiri Sekac in the third period, and his forecheck helped create Alexei Emelin's goal.

-- Five road games, five wins, not too shabby.  If only these clueless coaches of ours were replaced with other coaches + translators, our team would surely march to the Cup.

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