The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

Montreal Canadiens vs Pittsburgh Penguins

November 18, 2014, by Homme De Sept-Iles

Glacial Musings and In-Game Scribbles

My English is as good as yours, I just write these in a stream-of-consciousness mode that I insist excuses me from small things like rules of grammar or general etiquette. Let’s call it conversational English, hopped up on beans. You know what kind of beans (no, Carl Mellesmoen, not the magic ones).

Montreal Canadiens (14-4-1) host Pittsburgh Penguins (12-3-1)
Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Game Twenty (score posted following scribbles)

Missed it? Musings capture the game in writing. This untoward transcript is typed during the game, edited then posted about forty minutes later.  Based on the RDS French telecast of the Montreal Canadiens game, Musings take about 24 minutes to read. More detailed than an article, fresher than a looping highlight and good with a morning coffee.  Or late-night suds.  A unique way to re-experience the game.  Or just plain enjoy it.

Click here to expand post.  It looks prettier.

Second Period
Pittsburgh 4, Montreal 0

I join late, expecting that the PVR has done its job.  It has.  But I won’t have the game.  Not in its entirety and not in French. Le match n’est pas disponible is the baleful message that stretches across the rectangular window.

It’s on in English.  From Rogers or Sportsnet or whomever.

The team is down four-nothing as the second period closes.  Half the intermission is spent on other teams and the commercials aired show a happy threatless world in which Tim Horton and his progeny rule the world on tires of maple sugar jingo joy.

Four, nothing.  And I’m watching “Canadiens hockey”.

In my PVR world I’m still in mid-October with hopes of catching up.

In my carpeted world, we are without heat, a roll-over switch dousing the furnace yesterday, plunging us into a mirthless existence.

How can Crob douse the back of his neck with water?  Isn’t it cold?

Tocchet is behind the bench?  I shake my head.

Steve Downie?  On the Pens? And we’re told by the believers (the announcing team) that Tocchet was able to get the best out of the surly winger in the past.  And that Tocchet also played on the edge.  He surely did.  And it continued into his post-hockey career.  Didn’t it.

The Canadiens are able to score four in a period and against Pittsburgh, too.  The Pen lineup is noticeably altered, most significantly behind the bench, both Bylsma and Martin gone.  So that might make a difference.

Galchenyuk is central to two early chances, the second drawing a Penguin penalty.

The announcer tries the accents but the effort doesn’t win me over.  I’ve never been a believer in changing accents mid-sentence.

And I’m not a believer in this provider.

Our only space heater is also blowing poorly.  Some elements are blown.

Today, outside, it was mid-January cold. At least our hot water is alright.

Montreal controls.  Gonchar is on the power-play now.  Beaulieu is with him.  So we’re back to two blue-line pairs on a power-play.  I don’t like it.

Gonchar is huge.  I’d forgotten.  The recently acquired defender is considered a power-play addition and someone who “helped Karlsson” in Ottawa.  Oh yeah.

I remember a Montreal forward blowing by Gonchar in a playoff game in 09-10, the bally-hooed Russian doing nothing about it; it was strange, he didn’t even move, didn’t turn with purpose.  He’s 40 now and costs the team five million for the year (or most of that amount).  The team traded Moen whose contract earns for two seasons to Gonchar’s one.  Money-saving move.  And another subtle, patiently timed manoeuvre by GM Marc Bergevin to change the team’s stamping.

The indicators are Bergevin likes grit as a complement to skill.  And not the other way around.  Another indicator is the teams’ tabbed four alternate captains; Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, PK Subban and Max Pacioretty.  The team decided not to name a captain following Brian Gionta’s departure; the most recent team leader allowed to leave at no cost (as a free agent) to Buffalo Sabres.  Defenceman Josh Gorges, also considered a part of that generation’s so-called “leadership group” was traded to those same Sabres.

All four alternates were named by the hockey department brass (general manager Marc Bergevin and, assumedly, the coaching team headed by Michel Therrien).  The team

Sports Illustrated features PK Subban on its cover this week and the Canadian control on his narrative is coming to an end.

Excellent.  Exasperating.  Those are the key words on the cover article.

He gives the puck away (not as much as he used), he’s cocky at times (which NHL defenders of his calibre are allowed/expected to be) and he’s irrepressible (which only reminds me of my Chocolate Bar Superstars; Joe Namath, Reggie Jackson and Muhammad Ali).

Twelve and twenty-seven and the game has slowed to a near-crawl.

We’re in Montréal but we may as well be in Columbus.

The organ is clear through the quelled bowl.

This colour man believes the Canadiens haven’t played “simple enough” to beat the Penguins.  His belief includes playing the Pens physically to beat them.  He’s probably living an illusion.

The Penguins have been beaten fairly regularly by the Canadiens .. by speed, timing, better long passing and an ability to steer their best forwards into harmless areas of the rink.

And the power-play.

I wouldn’t get such erroneous analysis from RDS.  Even from the cactus.

Now we’re told that Beau Bennett has been the best player on the ice for both teams.  Wow.  Beau Bennett?  I haven’t seen the first two periods but this colour man’s love of the third-liner is obvious.  Bennett has logged just three games this season, no points and a minus one plus/minus rating.

Faux Southern accent.  And a pickup truck ad.  It’s shocking how many vehicular ads dot a hockey telecast.  I’d guess twelve to fifteen.  Do these ads work?

I wonder.  The response “they must” isn’t enough.

Montreal enters this game in first place, overall.  And though I’m behind so many games, I’ve found ways to avail myself of the stats without finding out the scores.  The most surprising is the team’s first-place rank on faceoffs.  They haven’t finished first in that category since the oh five lockout.  Not even close.  And I’m sure they haven’t done so post-93.  Nor post-79.  I wonder if the team has done so post-expansion (the 67 one).

They are at thirteen percent on the power-play, placing them in the bottom ten.  So they’re winning without one of their (on paper, at least) great strengths.  That bodes well.  They can be significantly better in terms of outcomes.

Seven and a half.

Now the colour guy tells us how strong Crosby has been last shift.  So strong and tough down low.  Oh, really.

So much of the Crosby narrative has been carefully constructed rather than inevitable media reflections or extensions of on-ice unbending truth.

Yes, he leads the team (and league) in points but so much of this is an above-average player working harder than most others.  His lack of imagination remains.  And his inability to adapt.  Teams shut him down.  Especially in the playoffs.

Boston’s famous double-shutout; holding both Malkin and Crosby pointless in the Eastern Conference Finals in 12-13 comes to mind.

Canadiens bend and press but Plekanec must purse his lips in frustration as Fleury closes the nabber on a possession.

Cross-slot pass, low, and a one-timer by Plekanec … stopped by Fleury sliding on both knees, right to left.

Four and thirty-six.

Well at least I’m current.

Weise is on with Pacioretty and Desharnais.  Weise is not usually on this line.  It’s a third-period change-up, common for Therrien.  It could mean Weise is being rewarded.  But moreso, an indicator that the coach isn’t happy with Gallagher’s work.  It could also be an effort to mix and match that has nothing to do with the plucky winger’s work tonight.

If RDS wasn’t blacked out, I’d know.  The NHL is at fault.  They make the decisions that determine which network carries what game.

Sekac is fed in the high column and manages a move and a backhander in traffic.  It’s handled and Sekac skates back to the bench.  He’s Montreal’s most exciting skater on offence.  To me, anyway.  The other, Alex Galchenyuk, turns from nearly the same spot that Sekac entered, and shoots.  Wide and wild.  Moments later, the Canadiens are called for icing.

Brandon Sutter against Desharnais in the dot to Fleury’s right.  The puck is lost, Desharnais, bent over and losing the disc.

Bennett down the right.  Dropped.  Despres.  With some speed.  Cocks and fires, the rooster finish.  But the puck is wide.

And the siren goes.

Complete silence in the rink.  Not even any booing.  The Canadiens were beaten fair and square.  Eller smashes his stick in the bench area as he leaves.

Beau Bennett, Steve Downie and Marc-Andre Fleury are the network’s stars.

Bennett had a goal and two assists.

Downie, a goal and an assist.  Fleury with 27 saves.

It’s hard to bother when the game is draped as it is with such corpo trappings.

And L’Antichambre is blocked, as well.  Which makes no sense.  The Sportsnet feed has gone to a looping radio feed with matchups overlaid in an unchanging graphic.

I shake my head.

Final Score
Pittsburgh 4
Montreal 0

Oh wait. Anti-Chambre suddenly comes on following about four minutes’ ‘radio silence’.

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