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The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

Ottawa Musings, In-Game Scribbles

April 6, 2009, by Homme De Sept-Iles

Ottawa 3 at Montreal 2

Montreal will be without both Mathieu Schneider and Andrei Markov tonight, both injured on Saturday against Toronto. Doug Janik (he of the Begin trade to Dallas) has been called up from Hamilton. And O’Byrne is back in the lineup. They will start on the same pairing.

A lot of long faces. Bouchard, Demers and Gainey all when interviewed evidenced deep concern for the fortunes of the team.

First Period

Montreal takes early control. Puck is deep in Ottawa territory. But not before Spezza unleashes a sharp angle shot from Halak’s left circle. Price remains in recovery from his illness.

Komisarek is wearing the “A”. Both Kostitsyns are not in the lineup, one hurt (Sergei) and one a healthy scratch (Andrei).

Koivu line is the third Montreal line presence tonight. Kovalev shows his top gear as he speeds right and sets up Tanguay in front. No shot but looked like there should have been.

Without coach’s film, I’ll never know.

Laraque is after guys early. Chris Campoli to start with. Roughs him up a bit by the boards in the n neutral zone. Big George has missed several games as a healthy scratch.

RDS shows the chance again. Tanguay did get his stick on it but it was an almost-not-quite reach and thwack.

Koivu hits Alfredsson hard. The Senator captain is shaken up and on the ice. And the Ottawa team joins Koivu in the corner. And not in congratulation. It is indeed a cross-check. Koivu gets two for boarding. Deserved. Montreal joined Ottawa in the corner, too. Just a lot of jostle.

Halak makes a Gerry Cheevers-like athletic-unathletic, half-stack pad right-to-left save. Very good save. Likely saved a sure goal. Ottawa shows speed and control on their power-play. But Montreal gets the better of the second minute of the advantage. And the Metro-Maxim pairing forces a faceoff in Ottawa territory.

The underrated and very athletic Alex Auld is in net for the Bell Central visitors.

Lapierre and Kostopoulos create another chance short-handed. The crowds sounds screamy. As if this is the first game of the playoffs. Auld is the blockade.

Higgins steals the puck. Dandenault down low. Shot from the point. Auld sees it at the last.

Plekanec on the rush. Behind to Higgins. But a turnover on the pass. Ottawa is sharp on their passes and playing with their heads up. Montreal as well. Montreal can clinch a spot tonight and Ottawa is saying no.

Laraque shows some zip with his offence but can’t control the puck. Tried to bump it to his stick with his skate by the hash. He has even more jump than Saturday against Toronto. Stewart is emboldened by Laraque’s presence, as well. They are on the same line and Stewart lightly hooks a Senator to send a disapproving message after the whistle.

Alfredsson line is matched against Plekanec’ line. Higgins is a liability in our zone. Not enough finish in chasing the puck. But Ottawa, though positioned dangerously on this sequence don’t get the puck where they want it.

We get to see Janik on the ice now. With Ligne Internationale (Koivu, Kovalev, Tanguay). O’Byrne (who shoots right) is crossed over to the left side approaching his blue-line. Puck finds its way around the net to the other side. Janik picks it on the right (he shoots left) and in taking it up gets tripped by Nick Foligno. Looked accidental. But Montreal goes to the power-play. Foligno was just reaching for the puck.

Brisebois and Hamrlik are on the points. And Ottawa can cheat down low and leave Brisebois to shoot. Which he does. And he shoots wide. It’s his 1000th game tonight and we saw him receive a silver stick prior to the game.

This time Brisebois gets it on net (Koivu deflects) and Kovalev shoots the rebound. Auld makes a good save on it. Ottawa takes a holding call moments after that. Jarkko Ruutu holding Kovalev’s stick to the ice while the helmetless Russian dignitary looks for the call from the ref.

Five on three. But no threats.

Still a minute and a half on the power-play, though.

Alfredsson sneaks through using a Canadien as a shield for several feet and gets a weak one on Halak.

Montreal regains control. Ottawa is not afraid of Montreal’s point shot. Latendresse and Lapierre are on the power-play for its last segment. But nothing.

Janik is wearing Ribeiro’s Dallas numeral, 63. Ribeiro was #71 here. No wait. Janik is wearing #53. Well, at least you got to think about Ribeiro’s lovely, lazy and lethal loops and circles for a moment, eh?

Ottawa has outhit Montreal 15 to 3. But there is no correlation between hitting and winning. I’ll post a chart about that sometime. It’s very interesting. Surprising.

Kovalev is making a few extra moves early in his shifts. A bit different from letting Tanguay carry it in. Turnovers so far. Pretty turnovers.

KTK is looking ordinary thus far. Lee shows his stick and attitude after a whistle. And O’Byrne is too quick to respond in kind. His stick hits Lee in the face and O’Byrne is in the box.

It’s the first foolish penalty in some time. Montreal has reduced that type of penalty over the past eight games or so.

O’Byrne, like Souray, can be drawn into taking a whistle. This power-play will be four minutes. In a matchup like this, a four-minute possession can be the difference.

Montreal follows the puck magnet-like for the first minute. Very disciplined and lane-conscious. Dandenault and Metropolit are both excellent penalty-killers. Dandenault in particular with his speed.

Still two and a half minutes. Higgins and Metropolit are the pairing. Ottawa finds their bearings and get their trapezoid moving. One shot. One freeze. He saw it all the way. Metropolit stays on the ice. Spezza is kicked out of the faceoff circle and Metropolit beats Foligno with ease. Janik sets up Higgins for a breakaway. Higgins eludes Auld, sends him flying and sliding and a Senator has to haul Higgins down. Hard.

Penalty shot. Higgins elects to shoot. Auld gets a piece of it with his bright white biscuit. Brunet says it was a good shot. Wrister.

Ottawa resumes their power-play. Janik’s scoop-lob pass is still in my head. Nice play from the new guy. He is 28 years old.

Ottawa gets a good shot and deflection. No go. Halak. Then Lapierre takes it out and down. No shot. We go to the other end to close the period but Ottawa’s moxie doesn’t show a shot. This time.

First Intermission

Jacques Demers is a good man. I always feel good about humanity when I hear him discuss the happenings. Very humane, very compassionate person who respects everyone. He didn’t say anything specifically Mother Theresa this time (or Mother Goose); I just thought of it while watching him intone emphatically like Madden that the O’Byrne penalty was surely deserved.

Luc Gelinas is wearing a bold tie. Pink with magenta gradients, barber-poled by whites. And a black suit. He interviews Patrice Brisebois who bears, to me, a strong resemblance to Yanic Perrault.

Second Period

We could use Yanic’s faceoff skill on this penalty-kill.

Metropolit loses it. But the puck ends up in Ottawa territory anyway. Repulsed from the neutral zone. Finally Ottawa makes their way in. But not for long. Only eighteen seconds left. Ten as they cross the blue. Five as Phillipe Kuba handles it on the point. And then O’Byrne returns. But Ottawa extends the possession.

At last Montreal carries it out and it’s dumped behind Auld by O’Byrne.

Nobody knows just how serious either injury (Markov, Schneider) is at this point. RDS expects Gainey to say something about it after the game. Ottawa now looks like they are on the powerplay. Montreal’s line change is a part of the reason. Now all of KTK is on. Tanguay is stripped in the corner. Neil gets the best chance of the night (besides the Higgins chance). But he can’t do anything on his backhand. Neil nails Kovalev behind the play. Campoli now hits Kovalev. Crowd doesn’t like it. Now Ruutu tries to get Kovalev to go. Kovalev won’t beck down but he won’t drop (the gloves) either.

Nothing comes of it. And now here comes Kovalev. Down the right to the left and straight. Down. The middle. Tough shot, big rebound and Higgins is stopped. Kovalev is like Lafleur in that if you get either riled up, they will take it out on you on the scoreboard. Be it Wensink. Be it Ruutu. Just let them prowl. Don’t make them growl.

It’s a well-played game. Careful but urgent by most of both the rosters. So the speed is a bit low but the quality of decisions is high.

Laraque is talking to Neil. Neil doesn’t want to go. What a bully. He’s always ready to go with people weaker than him.

O’Byrne now goes to the box. Chris Kelly, too. O’Byrne’s was unnecessary and eliminates a power-play. Kelly had sticked the red captain.

Four-on-four. It’s time for AK27. But first Higgins and then Plekanec with Tanguay. Not a lot of room provided by either team. Tanguay is joined with Kovalev. Tanguay forces the puck up the left, cruises right and gets it. Sends a pass to Kovalev in front who misses. But Brisebois follows it and shoots. Auld stops the wrister from the high slot.

Ottawa, Montreal and the science of puck possession and short-passing. That is the lesson and theme for the second. And it’s a defensive connoisseur’s palate. As defensive as it gets without sludge hockey in today’s NHL.

Montreal ends the playbook and matchup chemistry as Metropolit goes to the box.

But they continue to play very sharp positional hockey and Ottawa, not wanting to squander poor quality shots, move the puck wisely around the Montreal zone. Heatley swings and misses on a close call near the top left circle.

Foligno makes a great play to get the puck to Campoli. Very slick backhand pass through traffic. Halak is a bit slow getting over but Brunet lets him off the hook.

1-0, Ottawa.

Speed will increase now. Ottawa is looking like their old selves for the first time in months. In seasons. Not as dangerous as they were that 18-3 October weekend they beat Montreal 2-1 but getting some of that old poise back. Ottawa head coach Cory Clouston really reminds me of Jon Gruden. That’s a good thing. Young. Sharp. With a sense of intensity and detail about him.

He is one of the new generation of coaches who has an extensive range of people skills in a competitive package.

Whoops. KO-va-LEV!!

Suddenly swoops in from the right. Wrister. All net.

1-1, tie.

So sudden. I was rambling, too. I was watching but not seeing. Koivu set him up.

Fisher has the chance to create a ruckus after the whistle and he just moves away. His game is always maturing, always growing. Fisher is a player, like Iginla, that I’d enjoy seeing in red-white and blue. Moreso this season than last. Despite the fact that some of his confidence has changed. Chris Neil has a Sean Avery face. I used to get them confused when I was younger. (When I was 38.) They have today’s modern thug look: unapologetic, univisual, bit o’ baby fat, possibly undiagnosed.

Ottawa will go to the power-play. Melee in front of Halak and a near-scoring chance puts Kostopoulos in the box. Cross-check after the whistle. Fifth penalty against Montreal.

It’s like February all over again.

Higgins and Metropolit are the first PK pairing. Higgins loses his stick. He does great work without his stick. Metropolit gets hero of the minute status from the crowd for his work in finishing off the kill. Backhander gets it out.

Montreal survives this one. Ottawa has their bearings, sights locked and good purchase.

Canadiens rise to match Ottawa’s increasing intensity. Kovalev holds the puck to create and then Koivu and Tanguay are Henning and Copperfield. Till a Senator tips the puck away. But a goal is coming. For one of these teams.

Kovalev gets Ruutu. Clean justice.

Goal is coming. It’s one of those times. It’s like something we can’t write about on this site. But it gets closer and closer till it’s inevitable.

And Montreal scores. Hamrlik. The worms were twisting and twisting in the can. Twisted so far that a puck splooped out.

And that ends the period.

2-1, Montreal.

Rather a Winnipeg-Montreal CFL (BFA) matchup. Tight. Edgy. Shots on goal are 18-14. Careful shot selection as Magic might pronounce.

Second Intermission

Jacques Demers is complimenting Kovalev’s character. Ottawa is going after him. Several players. They show the hits. And the shooting response a la Lafleur.

Demers says it with little qualification. Nods to the critiques but pays homage to the Artist Assassin.

Win and go to the playoffs. Or get closer anyway.

They interview Doug Janik. Janik says he is excited to be in Montreal and to help out. Very Ontario-style interviewee. Humble, team and a polite “merci” at the end.

Third Period

The battle continues. Rougher around the edges. Fisher is called for holding. Doesn’t look like he held at all. Ref had a deceiving angle.

Montreal goes to l’attaque massive. Passes in skates or to invisible blue-liners. Schneider and Markov’s absences are felt. Teams can gang up down low on Tanguay and Koivu.

Kovalev is taking over the period. He is tripped by Spezza but it’s borderline and it goes uncalled. No chances yet despite all the snake river skating.

Latendresse and Lapierre make a ten-on-ten street hockey scene of a shift. And Latendresse is closer than you think on the wrap-around. Stopped. The tennis ball is bouncing, the toques are panting. It’s goal time again. Or some close chances at least.

Ottawa should still be a force. Damn the cap and how it forces teams to lose their identity players. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, you guys tell me all the time)

Lapierre is in a fight. And winning. He’s doing good for such a skinny guy. Lee falls on him to end it. Lapierre utters a Begin-like whoo! as he skates away accompanied by a league official.

Komisarek falls over the Ottawa blue-line but gets the puck over to Gorges to partially correct the error. Ottawa skates down all danger and Alfredsson but can’t generate a quality chance. But they aren’t fading into any paintings. Just under eleven minutes left.

An odd pause in play as the puck and players float into the Montreal zone. It’s a slow line change for both teams. Nothing bizarre comes of it. Though something should have. Configuration of marbles.

Now Kovalev has his hard hat on. It’s white. Not blue. Hits Tanguay somehow. No goal.

Latendresse and Plekanec on the ice now. Ottawa goes down and does some of the same. And they get it in front. And a banger’s goal from a scorer’s scorer. Heatley gets his 36th in the slot.

2-2, tied.

Kovalev won’t let anybody go get beers. What a chance. Post. Sequence followed the Ottawa goal.

But Ottawa scores quickly. Heatley. Janik makes a mistake and then Halak is beaten over the glove side. What a release and what velocity he has on the puck.

3-2, Ottawa.

Kostopolous and Ruutu confront one another. Store-owner and punk. No fists. Just loud stares.

Montreal takes the task seriously. But Ottawa flies in formation and it will be a loose tooth stoop goal or one of magnificent beauty. Nothing ordinary will do it.

RDS tells us that both Gorges and Komisarek have more minutes than they are used to.

KTK is double-shifting but they are lower on fuel.

Higgins will have to make up the difference. Or Latendresse, more than likely.

Two thirty-eight. In the Ottawa zone but no control. Two nineteen Backed up behind Halak. Playing hot potato and can’t get anywhere. One fifty-one. Latendresse line works. Draws a trip but no call. Fired from a distance. Frozen. Latendresse. Auld. One thirty-eight. Halak is on the bench.

KTK. Koivu loses the faceoff deep. Tanguay makes up for it. Ottawa squeaks it out. So many offensive talents on the ice. It seems like an eight on five. Plekanec. Higgins. Kovalev. Koivu. Tanguay.

Forty-three.

Twenty-two.

Kovalev almost gives it away. Almost sets one up. And then the time runs out.

Whoof. Not one to lose. Ottawa was full points and Montreal has a second game tomorrow night.

Tough loss. But a deserved win for the visitors.

HDS Stars: Dany Heatley, Alex Auld, Alex Kovalev
RDS Stars: Dany Heatley, Alex Kovalev, Mike Fisher

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