Saturday, 28 February 2015

Game 62: Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 0

Tonight's win over the Leafs by the Canadiens should shush those bothersome 'Leafs rivalry' stories.  The Leafs are rivals for the Canadiens in the same way that roadkill is a rival for a crow.

Another good thing about this listless Toronto outing is I didn't have to hear about what a great pickup Leo Komarov was, how he was going to allow the Leafs to have more balance, roll four lines, be a deeper lineup, blah blah blah...

I wasn't subjected to another Brandon Kozun lovefest like I was during the first matchup, how he was reminiscent of Martin St-Louis, another slight undrafted free agent, how the Flames may have Johnny Gaudreau, but for my money, the Leaf youngster had just as much skill, yadda yadda yadda...

And thankfully, they didn't try to reanimate the corpse of Korbinian Holzer, the way they were hyping him and Mike Kostka as diamonds in the rough, prescient finds by a shrewd Toronto front office, defencemen who would be an integral part of a resurgent Toronto blue line, barf retch barf...

Good on Manny for finally potting a goal, a nice wrister in on a feeble Jonathan Bernier, who may be playing like a guy who no longer wants to ride in this clown car no more nohow?  Manny picked up a nice drop pass from Dale Weise, on a partial breakaway.  This line, with Michaël Bournival, had good jump all night, and was noticed by the HNIC broadcast crew.

David Desharnais scored two goals, but these were unjustly amassed, due to icetime unfairly allotted to him.  Realistically, Mon Oncle Arthur could have scored those goals, one standing by the side of the net and just potting a rebound, and the other deposited into a deserted net.  If Michel Therrien wasn't so bent on ruining Mon Oncle Arthur, he'd have put him on the ice in the waning minutes of the game and he would have, rightfully, scored that empty net goal.  Indubitably, that should have been Mon Oncle Arthur's tally.

Carey Price had a couple of adventures with his puck handling, but nothing Drydenesque, and picked up another shutout, to help pad his already stellar stats.  Ho hum.

Max Pacioretty was a force, he played like he cared contrary to the Leafs, and he seemed too much for them to handle.  Just ask Dirty Nazem down there on the ice on his keister.  Max was fast, on the puck all night, protecting the puck, attacking the net, great stuff.  I don't think Max has played this well since the season with Erik Cole.

P.K. had a strong but not flawless game.  Again his decision making can be questioned, it's like he tries too hard sometimes, trying to do it all himself.  Maybe he was trying to put on a show because he was facing the Leafs, but he snuffed out a few attacks, a couple of powerplays, all by himself.

It's like if you're doing a patrol against the German lines P.K.  You go out and you probe and you find out that there are significant forces with machine guns and armor.  So now you pull back and report to headquarters, you don't keep probing.  You didn't find a weak spot, an opportunity, you know what you need to know, live to fight another day, go on another patrol somewhere else later on.  You dump the puck behind the net and let your forward see if he can do something with it.

Or it's like you're at the pub and after a scan of the room, you and your wingman go and chat up the three cute girls standing by the pool table.  But you find they're not very receptive, they listen patiently and give you one-word answers and forced smiles, and try to resume their conversation.  So you tell them you'll catch them later, genially excuse yourself, and head back to your bros.  The night is still young.  You saw quite a few young ladies looking in your direction when you walked in, there's interest somewhere.  You don't insist with the pool girls, offer them a drink, then another, drag them to the bar to show them your cool coaster trick, tell them about your wheels, your cool job,...  You don't waste your time, there will be other, more sympathetic audiences.  Save it for then.

P.K., pass the puck to a teammate, see if he has better luck.  Maybe the pool girls like their beaus dancier, less behemothy.

The young defencemen had a light night, with Greg Pateryn playing 11 minutes, and Nathan Beaulieu playing 15, while Sergei Gonchar, Tom Gilbert, P.K. and Andrei Markov all played around 25 minutes.  Nate had a doozy of a giveaway in his own zone early in the first, which elicited an audible groan from the New Forum crowd.  Nate had the puck under control, had 'time and space', but made a blind backhand pass behind the net to the other corner where he thought his defence partner should be, but his assumption was unfounded.  A Leaf gobbled up the free puck and this caused a few anxious moments.

Still, Nate played confidently the rest of the game, and Greg Pateryn tried to make an impact by hitting everything in white, so good night for both.  They'll both get to play more games if they continue to play to their strengths.

At the end of the game, the Leafs' coaches pulled kind of a jerk move by pulling their goalie and throwing on an extra attacker, and I could only wonder to what end?  What was the strategy?  To harm their draft standing?

I could understand trying to win a game, throwing up a Hail Mary when in a playoff chase, but that's not the case.  I could understand trying to come back from a one or even a two-goal deficit, but they were down 3-0.  Were they trying to ruin Carey Price's shutout?  Did Peter Horachek think he'd impress future employers with his daring strategery?

They got what they deserved, the Canadiens, after whiffing many times as is their custom when trying to seal a win, finally made it 4-0, and all that remained was the ceremonial Leaf jersey toss, the Toronto answer to Detroit's octopus.

Good win against a weak sister, they've given us a lot of problems lately, in the form of the Sabres, the Devils, the Coyotes, the Sabres again.

And good for us that we've got a steady diet of Sharks and Ducks and Kings and Lightning coming in March.  If we play badly against poor teams, we should do great this month.

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