Wednesday, 22 April 2015

'15 Playoffs Round 1, Game 4: Canadiens 0, Senators 1

The Senators stave off elimination by winning 1-0 against the Canadiens.  Nuts.

I decided, to change it up, to watch the game on TVA rather than CBC.  If Jim Hughson had called the game I'd have stayed with CBC, but since he's assigned to the Canucks series, and I'm lukewarm to Paul Romanuk, I thought I'd give Félix Séguin and Marc Lalime another shot.

Generally, I don't mind those two, they're not quite as good as Pierre Houde and Marc Denis, a little more 'joual', and the technical team at TVA isn't as polished as RDS', but not enough to dissuade from watching completely.

Immediately in the first period, we saw some errant camera work, with the cameramen losing track of the puck and Eric Condra breaking in on Carey Price out of frame, but we can hope that their technical proficiency increases and eventually matches RDS' proficiency, seeing as they have a decade ahead of them with this new TV deal.  Sigh.

We also saw some errant refereeing, with the Senators' Mark Borowiecki earning an interference penalty on Jeff Petry.  The Senators figured that gave them free rein to goon it up, that the refs would be unwilling to award an additional penalty, and they were correct.  Clarke MacArthur and a couple of other Sens took some punches and vigourous shoves at Brendan Gallagher after the whistle, they were the clear instigators, with no provocation, yet this was allowed to go unpunished.  Score another one for NHL justice.  In the negative column.

Many unpenalized minor incidents in the first, nothing that approached an opponent's vivisection necessary for a penalty in the NHL's 'justice system', but noteworthy were the couple of jabs by Marc Méthot, administered at Max Pacioretty's head, with the puck nowhere near, and the Sens' defenceman well-aware of the Canadien's recent concussion I don't doubt.

'Let them play', indeed.  How to interpret this bromide in incidents like these?

The second period was back and forth, and Devante Smith-Pelly and Dale Weise tried to inject some 'robustesse' in the Canadiens' game, throwing a few hits, pushing back against the physical Sens.  Neither team was able to capitalize on the powerplay, and Brandon Prust almost scored on a short-handed breakaway.

One area which was routinely penalized earlier this season, but is now covered by the generous laissez-faire blanket used by the league and its refs nowadays, was the practice of obstructing an attacking forward who is chasing a puck deposited behind their opposition defencemen.  Before, anything more than standing in the path of an attacking forward, any reaching out with a stick or hand, any move to block the path of the rushing forward, was met with an obstruction penalty.

Now, and specifically in this game, this practice is looked on with benign neglect by the refs.  Many times, Dale Weise or Brandon Prust would try to dump the puck behind a lumbering behemoth, and would find their path blocked, a clear case of obstruction.

A painful goal opened the scoring, tallied by Mike Hoffman, after a giveaway by Tom Gilbert.  The Canadiens defenceman has been a little skittish this season, although he's grown better as the season progressed.  Tonight however, he reverted to previous habits, and tried to clear his zone quickly by ringing the puck around the boards, in advance of getting stamped in the corner by a Sens forward.  Unfortunately, it was intercepted by Cody Ceci, and Mike Hoffman got a clear shot at goal and beat Carey Price.

That was the only scoring of the game, so the Sens stave off elimination, live to fight another day.

Hope the Habs can wrap it up on Friday, evince the pesky Sens.

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