Sunday, 22 March 2015

Game 73: Canadiens 2, Sharks 0

A great, great win against the Sharks, a team that has bedeviled the Canadiens for a few years now.  For example, when Tomas Plekanec scored in the first period, it was the first time the Canadiens had scored a goal on the Sharks since December 2011, when Erik Cole had potted one.

Listening to the game description on Hockey Night in Canada by Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson and Glenn Healy, I was struck by how positive and complimentary they were towards the Canadiens, how their skating, up-tempo forechecking style and commitment to team defence was perfectly suited to playing against the Sharks, to frustrating them and shutting them out.

Yet a couple weeks ago at the trade deadline, playing against the same team, the commentary was all about how the Canadiens were too small, not physical enough to compete with such big Western teams, and that it justified Marc Bergevin's decision to trade a skillful skater like Jiri Sekac for a thumper like Devante Smith-Pelly.

So it's interesting how the play-by-play call, the narrative molds itself to the way an individual game plays out.  When the Canadiens win they're too fast, when they lose they're too small.

Before now, the fact that Greg Pateryn wasn’t playing in the NHL was occasionally used as a sign on social media that he was a dud, a failed prospect, ruined by a terrible coach in Hamilton in Sylvain Lefebvre, that he was never any good to begin with, but our scouting staff never saw that.

Now that he is with the Canadiens and providing a strong, steady, mature, physical game, for some it’s a sign that Michel Therrien doesn’t trust rookies, that he’s been wasting his time rotting in the AHL, for two seasons now, that 'MT-MB sux'.

The Canadiens were, in my book, patient with him and Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu, they made use of Marc Bergevin’s maxim that you seldom regret calling up a prospect too late, but often regret calling him up too soon. They let these guys develop, put in the miles in the AHL, away from the spotlight and the critics.

Marc Bergevin made the point during that tedious HNIC interview with Dale Tallon and Brad Treliving conducted by Strombo (does Brad Treliving say anything except regurgitate what has already been said more briefly by his panel mates?) that often critics of a GM’s work aren’t operating with all the information at hand, that if they did, they’d probably make much the same decision.

Carey Price was the leader in the three major goalie stats categories of wins, save percentage and goals-against average, but trailed Marc-André Fleury in shutouts, the Penguin netminder having had a torrid start to his season in that department.  I didn't mind that one too much, shutouts are nice but they're a more 'accidental' stat, lots of bounces have to go right for them to happen.  They're not as sure an indicator of quality goaltending.

Well, in two games Carey reeled him in for the co-lead in that category too.  He will not be denied.

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