A bit of of a letdown tonight, even though the Canadiens won 2-1. The Canadiens spent a lot of the game scrambling after the young Leafs. If a close loss against a powerful foe and/or in difficult circumstances is a moral victory, can we think of this game as a moral defeat?
The Leafs outshot, and at times outskated the Canadiens. They buzzed around like the heedless callow youth they are, and the Canadiens played as if the cat was in the bag before the birds in the bush were cooked. They sat back a little, trying to get these 60 minutes behind them so they could get on with the break in the schedule, being off until Thursday.
Hockey Night in Canada kept bringing up their rivalry shlock, pretending the Leafs are locked in this titanic battle with the Canadiens, and I'll state it again: the Leafs ain't no rivals of ours. They haven't mattered in decades. The last time we met them in the playoffs was in the mid-Seventies in the opening round, and we swept them two years in a row, that pathetic squad who people remember more for Tiger Williams and Lanny MacDonald's disgusting mustache than for the superb Borje Salming or underrated Ian Turnbull.
All my life, I've been a Canadiens fan, and I know who my rivals are: les Nordiques, the Bruins, and the Flyers, in that order. The Leafs aren't on the radar, they're an annoyance like the Sabres or the Senators that we're forced to play more often, because geography. You might say that it's rigged, this whole rivalry narrative, that it's the fault of the media.
Alex Radulov made a statement, getting two assists, solidifying his furlough from Tomas Plekanec in the latest 'remaniement des trios', which now sees Max playing with David Desharnais and Andrew Shaw.
Shea Weber, who is on a magical run, is tying Andrew Berkeshire in knots, and extending Matt Pfeffer's turn as an unemployment statistic, scored the winning goal on a slapshot during a powerplay. Like we all predicted when we welcomed The Trade with champagne garden parties.
The Canadiens may have played down to their competition tonight, but I don't think that'll be an opportunity for the Leafs for too long. They have a lot of talent on their team, in their system, and still a whackload of draft picks to come. If they can rid themselves of loathsome Leo Komarov and the despicable Nazem Kadri, there'll be nothing left to hate on that team anymore, and we'll look forward to their appearances in Montréal as we now do the Penguins or the Capitals.