The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

New York Musings, In-Game Scribbles

April 7, 2009, by Homme De Sept-Iles

Montreal 1 at New York 3

RDS keeps showing us the translated footage from that Pacino football film. It’s a montage to motivate the team. Translations are dilutions at best. And for matters of the heart, translated words are even less effective.

They’ll need to remove Mathieu Schneider and Andrei Markov from the montage.

Price is back from his flu and Andrei Kostitsyn is in the lineup, too.

First Period

Gainey is examining his notebook or piece of paper. Head down. Lapierre wins the faceoff. Lighting is like elephant’s circus shadows. One expects to see a pile of manure in a corner. No arena seems as dirty as this one. I think part of it is the lighting.

It’s a grand old building.

Higgins, Metropolit and Dandenault are together. Montreal is winning the “get to the puck” game. Metropolit takes it in himself against two Rangers. A weird scrunched, inverted “S”. No shot. Metropolit’s work draws a penalty. Well, indirectly. Redden trips Higgins.

Brisebois is on the right wing for the first faceoff and then drops to his defenceman position. It’s Ligne Internationale first. Thirty seconds disappear into the void before Montreal can even get it into the Ranger zone. They still haven’t set up at 1:15. Then Price gives it to a Ranger who should have scored. Houde really critiques Price for it. Asks where his head is at. Does it from behind the net. Wasn’t really aware of the opponent, perhaps.

Still forty-three seconds. But no establishment in Ranger territory. But not because of the Rangers. Finally at the twenty-second mark they get set up and get one chance. D’Agostini is on with AK46 and Plekanec at the end of the powerplay.

Lapierre line is looking even faster than normal tonight. Price stops a first real Rangers chance. On his left side. The teams control the puck but neither can advance. Lots of stickhandling in respective own-zones.

Price freezes.

They show the D’Agostini chance and it was a better one than I realized. Again, coach’s film is needed.

Higgins escapes with Dandenault. Now in the corner. They control. On the point. Down in the corner. Higgins finally gives it away. But the first real control of the game from either team. About 12 seconds.

Laraque and Stewart are out of the lineup for D’Agostini and AK46.

We are in Kovalev’s old ‘hood. He plays well here.

Kovalev skates, left and right, avoiding, all the way to his own zone. And then he makes something happen. Something small and unnoticeable.

KTK is still on the ice. They go off and then Price is beaten. Post saves him.

Janik makes a good play to get the puck out of the zone. Not a lot of imagination from the Rangers tho’ they are starting to get some control themselves. Montreal played hard last night. How much will that show in today’s game?

Avery is on the ice. Still in the NHL. It was a few days ago he tapped Tim Thomas on the back of the head with his stick. What, me?

Metropolit takes the puck away and creates a chance. Moments later he has another off a feed. They maintain the puck deep. Very long sequence of control.. Best line presence of the night. KTK come on. Kovalev gets a slot shot from Koivu but a defender gets his stick on it to deflect upward. KTK stay on for the ensuing faceoff. Janik reminds me of Kostopolous. A way both have of sticking their noses ahead a bit.

Is Avery really a first-line player for the Rangers as the RDS graphic is suggesting? Or is it just the order they are showing the lines?

Rangers Callahan comes in stickhandling and whips a wrist shot at Price. Price, no problem. High chest save and a freeze.

The game is waiting for someone to get interested. Same with the crowd. Both teams are doing the minimum to serve the puck.

In the old days, it would have been Koivu to get us interested. Today it will be people like Maxim Lapierre and Tom Kostopoulos. Kovalev, too, in this arena can be a sneaky motivator. Snake’s lick goals. Just when you don’t expect them.

Dandenault line creates another unique chance. Puck is lost in a small gaggle of about six Rangers and Canadiens right in front of Lundqvist. Doesn’t get onto anyone important’s stick, however. No shot. Tanguay is on now and trying to make it work. It’s all very difficult.

Now down to the right of Price, Drury gets a cheap goal. Courtesy of speed and Price. Cheap in the sense that there was a sale that day. That kind of goal. It’s a short side high shot that has no business being charted as a goal. It’s more of a foul ball area. But.

1-0, Rangers.

Canadiens are now interested and the Rangers are, too. Overall speed gear increases. For both teams.

Price has some trouble with the puck in front but his defencemen save him. Kostopoulos takes an ugly hit while down. Dubinsky takes it.

O’Byrne needs to stay of these situations. It will be a four-minute advantage if he keeps his composure. And he does.

Montreal goes to the powerplay. This time there is some control. But Tanguay is knocked down and the puck is cleared. Rangers clear again. Tanguay is trying to pass and failing. Finally the puck gets to Kovalev at the circle. Brisebois’ shot doesn’t result in anything.

Kovalev can’t get it in and Rangers come in on a two-on-one. Shot wide. Drury. He is an irritant.

Higgins turns and shoots and it bounces off a leg. But good effort from Higgins. Puck lies there momentarily. Bare in the slot. Dandenault hits it through and past Lundqvist. A back-hander.

1-1, Madison Square Garden

D’Agostini looks lively. So does AK46. They are both good skaters.

The team misses Markov’s breakout passes.

Avery is now involved in his half-retarded, neighbor’s cock-sure but creepy son way (yes, the offensive seventies vernacular is the most precise description here) . Beakin’ and bashing. He hits Lapierre somewhat gently in the back after the whistle and goes to the Ranger bench. Lapierre is on the ice and gets up without incident.

Kovalev creates some good space but is hit by Avery at centre-ice. He has to regain the puck and does. Hamrlik penalty.

And the camera swings back to show us Kovalev in a wrestling match with Avery. Helmet off. They separate the two. Kovalev looks annoyed.

Rangers will go to the powerplay. They will get about a minute to start the next period as well..

Late, Price makes a good save on a good shot from Drury. Over the circle slapper. Stretched glove save from the BC boy.

First Intermission

Why did Mark Messier have to go bald. And why couldn’t Lay’s get him to do the translated part himself? Instead some guy whose voice isn’t at all like Messier’s tells us “j’apportera la coupe”.

Joel Bouchard gives Montreal a passing grade for the period.

We get an overview of Sather’s failings in New York. He does get a free pass from the hockey world. In general. No ties tonight. And the top button is unbuttoned. Mechant Mardi. So should I feel more relaxed watching this?

Maybe I should go bald.

Francois tells us a bit more about the Sather thing and really I couldn’t give a toot or whistle for the shambling circus that is Ranger hockey. They’ve had every great player in the game’s history except Mario, Gordie and Orr and they’ve done nothing with all those great, great names.

Some of the names that come to mind: Guy Lafleur, Eric Lindros, Marcel Dionne, Alex Kovalev, Wayne Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr.

And of course, J’apportera La Coupe, Messier.

One cup from all those great names. Rangers are like the Argos of the mid-seventies. Lots of player airlifts (mass cuttings), lots of big names, Heisman winners, big wheels of cheese and lots of losing, failed hopes and missed buses. Even famed and respected Russ Jackson (as coach) couldn’t help. Ranger money don’t buy cups. (yes, we know it’s grammatically incorrect)

“Ah’m in charge now.”

What will history say about Glen Sather, I wonder.

We get to hear Mathieu Dandenault’s perspective on the first period. He is always a polite, well-behaved fella. Kinda guy you don’t mind seeing date your sister.

Second Period

They start with the same off-speed from the first ten minutes. And they show Avery’s what-me? pings and poings of the week (Lapierre’s push-down and the Thomas thing). I admit he makes me laugh. He’s got nerve and cashews.

But it’s bush.

Plekanec has a sense of urgency. He gets it in front. He skates like a bunny. He stays low like a hawk.

Then the puck is at the other end and Montreal look a bit like doofuses. Bunglers, I believe the term is. Puck bounces out unexpectedly. Price is too … fooffy. I don’t know. He needs to improve his work around the net with the puck. This one is not all his fault.

2-1, Rangers.

Price makes a photographic, Statue of Grant (Fuhr) type of save. Not too crucial but some good optics. He seems to gravy down to more of his languid body language immediately thereafter. He really is all veins and no bones. He then makes a boneless error that results in a save suddenly.

He is different. No doubt about it. Spookily relaxed is a term I’ve heard.

They show the replay on the boneless save and after it hits him he seems to contemplate it. It’s as if his mind is moving but his body is not. It trickles down to his left. If only Huet was here to tell Price how to frame some of these strange moments. They complemented one another.

Metropolit and Higgins create together. Rangers come right back and Gomez shoots high on a standing Price who traps it with blocker and glove against his crest. Faceoff.

It’s time for Saku to whisk our eggs. Plekanec is on, though. They’ve been on twice without our seeing Koivu’s line. Hmmm.

Sudden shot from the point from Hamrlik and Lundqvist has to be careful with AK46 standing in front. Andrei may have deflected it. Held for the faceoff. I suddenly miss Steve Begin. We need his zip.

AK46 line stays on the ice despite the long TV break. Gainey must be happy with their work.

Madison organist is enjoying herself. References some classic seventies rock before going onto the traditional keybangs. Two bars of Clapton.

Higgins uses his quickness to get off the back boards and to the front of the net. Can’t control and no shot. But the right idea.

Montreal’s offence is cooling off over the past two games. Ottawa and NY defensive talent have a bit to do with it, to be sure.

Rangers control. Price adds to his small collection of cool-looking saves this period. He has about four unique-looking saves on dangerous shots. KTK is on and Tanguay gets a point-blank shot.

But Rangers come down in formation and score. Quick break, kick of the puck, pass out to the far wing, pass to the slot and Drury deflects it in. He sits his celebratory self down on the bench. He is wearing the C and Tortorella is standing behind him.

3-1, Rangers.

Could be trouble for the Bell guys.

Lapierre creates a very good chance for Kostopoulos but no conversion. Montreal is skating faster again. As they did in the first. Wait till someone scores on you. Too much responding and waiting rather than dictating. We should have been skating like this to start this period.

Pacing oneself is one thing, waiting is another.

Dandenault line is giving the most hope. Higgins now mashes someone behind the Ranger net. And then Callahan loops a puck over the glass. Really bad timing for New York. Montreal power-play.

Callahan wears number 24. I think not just anybody should be allowed to wear the number 24. In any sport. For some reason it is a special number. And no, I’m not talking about Chris Chelios. Respect for the long career and all that but he’s not the type of player I’m talking about.

Montreal can’t make stuff happen. Rangers’ diamond formation is very effective. It collapses low and stays with the quarterback (Kovalev). We are really missing the point shot. They are ignoring our current point players.

Leaving Hamrlik and Brisebois completely alone.

Nothing again. The power-play is officially dead.

Back to five-on-five. Plekanec line. Some matching formations from both teams and the lanes are safe from attack. Rangers are a smarter team than the Islanders the other night.

Rangers control for a time and get a shot from the point through traffic. It’s like shooting threes when you have a lead. They can do it and it’s relaxing. Rangers have controlled far too alarmingly long a time now. Over a minute. Fatigue is evident. Rangers still control. Finally a whistle and a break.

Pierre Houde reminds us of Markov’s importance before we go to commercial. Yes, his absence seems to be important. It’s hard to tell with defencemen. Certainly we are not getting out of our zone and through the neutral zone the same way anymore.

Komisarek is in the box for holding. From that tired-out sequence.

This could be the game.

Four-thirteen left.

Rangers move the puck around and Rozsival takes a point shot that makes it to Price who stops and covers. Gainey may have gotten a haircut recently. Maybe he should go bald.

Redden swoops in and misses a sure goal. Good set-up from Antropov. Where is Markus Naslund?

Lapierre and Kostopoulos are doing a good job. Montreal is also using the diamond (one guy at the top, two at the sides and one in front of the goalie – it collapses well to create a crowd along the slot when needed.)

Montreal finishes the kill. Just under two minutes left and the Rangers are making Montreal earn everything. Dandenault gets it out to Metropolit in front but no backhand can be had. Great chance. Great work from Dandenault, the son-in-law you’d like to have. (Mathieu, could you cut five cords of wood, please?)

O’Byrne sucks.

Misses the puck-trap to keep it in. I guess I’ve had enough. I’ve lost objectivity on the guy. Too many tactical mistakes and too many penalties. Good thing I’m not a coach. Or a hockey coach, anyway.

I feel guilty about saying O’Byrne sucks. But I don’t delete it. Maybe I need to get it out. Vent my spleen, as it were.

Period ends and Gainey makes that pursed-lip, disappointed face. Now he is staring at the ice as he furrows and figures. Yes. What will we do to get out of this?

Second Intermission

Demers is defending Koivu, Kovalev and Tanguay. Three games in four nights. Koivu is 34, Kovalev is 36 and Tanguay is playing with an injury. He says that we can’t be critical of Ligne Internationale (he doesn’t use that term, though).

Joel Bouchard has two buttons unbuttoned as opposed to the usual one. He is a bit like Ribeiro. Mediterranean handsome. Yes, Canadian men can say and see that of other men. Especially when we are so old it doesn’t matter if anyone questions our membership anymore.

What’s on your mind? Homme de Sept-Iles is watching bad commercials

Commodified abstraction is the last horizon for the marketing geniuses of our world. They are bungling that up, too. Nothing like having a marketer with a microphone on hand when you kiss your love goodbye.

Scott Gomez seems to be making a parody of the between-period interview. I mean, generally, the players are genuinely telling us (in a boring way) about shots on goals, great teammates, creating chances and so forth. Gomez seems to have memorized his and seems to stiff-walk through parts of his responses.

Third Period

Gainey said that the team’s confidence is thin, shares Pierre Houde.

Someone really gets hurt in front of the net. Kostopoulos slams Avery into the crossbar. Really ugly. Avery is ok. Wraparound attempt failed but should have succeeded. Montreal is lucky.

Antropov is gigantic. I always get surprised by just how huge he is. He’s a clean player considering his size. He could be a real menace out there. He doesn’t need to be. Nobody needs to be. I respect his game. He is another great player that probably won’t find his plug in New York. He might be an intriguing addition in Montreal.

We are told that Erik Cole and the Hurricanes are up 7-0 in their game tonight. Cole has recently returned to Carolina. He is a killer player. Just sharp eyes, trigger vision and playoff poise.

Tortorella’s shirt combo is one I would wear. Black shirt, black and gold tie and chocolate jacket. Very nice.

Canadiens are starting to outwork New York. Lapierre’s line.

But they give up a two-on-one. Price makes a great save going out. He seems to have it for a long time but the whistle doesn’t go. Puck slithers out somehow and Avery misses a sure chance. This should be 6-1 for New York about now. Montreal’s fatigue is a likely factor, I have to agree.

Fifty-five hold-hugs Metropolit face-to-face (beard-to-face) after a nice two-on-two with Higgins. Fifty-five is like an affectionate uncle. I wonder what he is saying. Nothing comes of it.

Montreal does not have what is needed tonight. But a few fluke goals could do.

They control, Gorges advances from the hash and shoots high. Deflects, actually.

Still eleven minutes. Lots of time. But Montreal is not doing much, not a lot of energy. Rangers aren’t doing anything to put us away, either. Just a goal. Just one goal. And the game will be on.

Price stops and freezes a distance shot. He owes Komisarek a burger for the save earlier on that delayed wrap-around where the puck disappeared for a while.

Higgins gets a high shot. But nothing.

Kovalev is on and trying to get something going. He is having some success as the Canadiens take control deep and get some puck movement off the effort. He is a very in-shape player.

Pierre Houde now quotes Andy Warhol. D’Agostini gets the two best (non-scoring) Montreal chances of the night. But no goal. And now D’Agostini hits the post after having taken a stick to the face. Montreal is buzzing suddenly. Kostopoulos line takes it to the same level.

They are still on after the stop in play.

Seven and a half minutes.

Five and a half minutes. Montreal can’t control the puck.

KTK is on and they are working hard. But no chances. Kovalev lobs a backhand pass at Koivu as they cruise down the right side into Ranger territory. But nothing.

Montreal loses control at the line and the puck goes back and forth briefly and then the Rangers drive down and force Price to save and stop. Frozen.

They check in with Michel Bergeron and Alain Crete and the old Quebec coach suggests that AK46 might pull a Perezhogin and leave us this off-season. I hope not.

Janik takes a borderline holding call. At 4:24.

Puck takes a weird bounce off the glass and goes in front of Price. Cleared and no Rangers around anyway.

Naslund is here. I just never noticed him. He is also a big player. Not as monstrous as Antropov or Sundin. But bigger.

Koivu hits the post. Off a good fly-in with Kovalev. Off the cross-bar. Dude was beat.

Pulled goalie. Brisebois has it hop over his stick. We can’t control. And when we do, Lundqvist manages to freeze it. Tortorella’s combo doesn’t look as good anymore. Maybe because the tie is crooked.

Lucky. Counting on other teams to beat our opponents. It’s such a tight conference.

Late shot is stopped. And the offensive-sounding buzzer goes. Imagine waking to that.

And now a scrum. And of course, your buddy Avery is in there. It ends quickly.

HDS Stars: All Rangers. Take your pick.
RDS Stars: Chris Drury, Ryan Callahan, Mathieu Dandenault

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