Friday, 17 April 2015

'15 Playoffs Round 1, Game 2: Canadiens 3, Senators 2 (OT)

Thoughts on the Canadiens 3-2 OT defeat of the Senators in Game 2.

--I'll allow that I feel kind of okay about it, that if Alex Galchenyuk is going to swat his stick on anyone's helmet and take a penalty, that Eric Gryba be the beneficiary of this attention.  But really Alex, pick your spot.  And if you do slug a d-man in the ear-hole, make it count, make it Erik Karlsson.

And Mr. Gryba, next time, bring along some semaphore flags, to signal even more clearly to the officials that you did get dinged.  Glenn Healy wasn't moved to complain that you 'sold it' to the refs.  Next time, give it your full effort.  Don't just go down on one knee, and dramatically clutch at your head seconds late, give it a full markstone.

--Speaking of salesmanship, clear, blatant dive at the 7 minute mark of the first period by Jean-Gabriel Pageau, on a 3-on-2, reacting to a tap from David Desharnais.  I expect that Daddy Campbell will be just as outraged by this one as any by P.K.  Right?

--Some fans have complained that Devante Smith-Pelly's hits were after the puck was gone, relatively ineffective, that they weren't a significant contribution to the success of the team, that he just takes himself out of the play to 'finish his check', which doesn't jibe with our methods.

At the 9 minute mark, he stamped Erik Karlsson into the boards as the Senator unloaded the puck in a hurry.  Let's keep at it, get more of these on the relatively slender defender, and see if he wilts.

--Second period, the ice slowly tilted in the Canadiens' favour.

--After P.K. rocket-laser-beamed that shot millimetres from Andrew Hammond's noggin, I would have kissed him too if I could have.

--Devante Smith-Pelly might work alongside that David Desharnais-Max Pacioretty tandem.  He had a couple of opportunities on the powerplay he didn't finish, but he neatly solves the problem we've bemoaned in the past, which is that the line didn't have net presence, Gally was too small to be effective.  I'm interested to see if these guys can mesh.

And Devo had another crunching hit on Erik Karlsson.  Keep it up.

--In the third period, after Patrick Wiercioch's penalty on Lars Eller, we saw him skating to the box shaking his head, and I'll give him credit and posit that he was partly upset at himself for coughing up the puck to Lars in the first place, and for getting caught for tripping him.  We still got the sense though that there was a strong sense of disbelief, that kind of imputation that's all too common nowadays, that Lars fell too easily, that he kind of sort of doved, slightly.  And it's so ridiculous.

The Ottawa defenceman was two steps behind Lars.  His stick blade was a good two metres away from Lars' stick blade and the puck.  What he could possibly have achieved by placing his stick anywhere near Lars' shin pads?  Except trip, hook, hold, interfere with him?

Or slash him.  That 'non-aggressive light slashing' the rulebook specifically tolerates.  Leaving it up to the referees to evaluate, whether it's light or medium or moderately heavy.

And what if that lightish slash had caught Lars where there wasn't any padding, and now he's rolling on the ice clutching his hand?  Do we go through an emotional implosion, let slip the dogs of war, and launch an armada of a thousand tweets at the league and the Senators and their fans?

This act is tolerated a thousand times a game.  Countless times, players are slashed, held, interfered, crosschecked, headlocked and tackled (Gryba category only).  The NHL congratulates itself on the fact that play is "intense", that the players "fight for every inch".

But really, what's happening is it's suffocating the game.

--An important contribution from Mike Zibanejad to his team is that he allows Mark Borowiecki to not feel all that bad about his physiognomy, all things considered.

--Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk hustled and chopped wood all game long, and it was great to see them be rewarded with the overtime goal.  That team celebration, apparently conducted to the strains of the Kriss Kross' signature hit, was a sight to behold, especially with that kid behind the glass, seeing it all unfold, maybe the highlight of his young life.

If we're to have any success, these two youngsters need to step up and contribute, tangibly, on the scoreboard.  Over the last few seasons, the team has evolved, improved, but has also sloughed off some significant scoring talent, players like Mike Cammalleri, Andrei Kostitsyn, Brian Gionta, Daniel Brière.  We've loaded up on youth, on character, but this season goals were hard to come by.  Aside from Max, there's precious little reliable scoring talent on the Canadiens.  The twins have to be a big part of the answer in these playoffs.

--What made it especially sweet was that slow-footed and slower-witted Eric Gryba wears the goat horns on this night, having given the puck away in his own zone even though he had clear and complete control of it.

The tide has to shift away from the game finding room for practitioners of anti-hockey such as Eric Gryba and Mark Borowiecki.  It's my hope that with every such giveaway, every loss he's directly responsible for, Mr. Gryba drives another nail in the coffin of the sham of his NHL career.

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