Buffalo Musings and In-Game Scribbles
October 3, 2009, by Homme De Sept-Iles
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 (1-0) at Buffalo Sabres (0-0)
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Game Two (score posted following scribbles)
Musings and In-Game Scribbles are a “live blogging” of the game that are compiled (typed, actually) during the game and edited and posted shortly after the game.
Roman Hamrlik is in the lineup tonight and RDS confirms that Markov will be out for three months and possibly four.
In Toronto, the Canadiens had only one right-shooting defenceman. Spacek, who was on the first pairing with Markov that night said that he hasn’t been on the right-hand side for twelve years.
Canadiens are forechecking aggressively with two players.
Habs go with six defencemen, the standard. Good that Hamrlik is back but did they rush him into the lineup? He is coming off an injury.
Joel Bouchard mentioned that he doesn’t think that Pacioretty is ready for duty on the first line and tonight we see him on a line with Metropolit early. The third line. Might be a line change delay.
Laraque is dressed again and he is involved with some jawing after a whistle. Habs go to the box with a hooking. It’s Metropolit.
Lotta typos tonight for me.
Buffalo scores and we hear a big train.
Rivet’s point shot bounces back for Connolly and he scores at 2:40. Slot shot.
Sabres are wearing their three-ring socks from the seventies. That midnight blue is lookin’ good on the ice. Sharp.
Gorges saves a scoring chance after being upended on a check attempt behind the net. No lack of urgency of purpose from the guys in white tonight, either. I doubt this will be an issue throughout the season. Many new faces each with something to prove and the old culture guys will respond in kind.
Bouchard said that Andrei Kostitsyn will have to get fired up, though, the Canadiens need him.
First pairing is Spacek and Hamrlik.
Sabres are playing a robust brand; a bit more aggressive than their usual up-tempo game. They have style and they have workmanship. Ruff is still behind the bench. One of the best coaches in the game. There’s something Larry Bird about Ruff’s appearance.
Now Pacioretty is on with AK46.
Gorges falls again. Third time in two games without provocation. Something with his skates? Or his balance? Is he playing dinged up? Could be a compensation for pain.
Price traps the puck to stop play and we’re about halfway through the first period.
How big will Kostitsyn get over the next few years, I wonder? Maybe not as big as Kovalev but he is the heir to the Artiste.
The pace is better than in the Toronto game and both teams are controlling well, few turnovers and a lot of quick short passing.
Cammalleri is interfered with by Vanek and a Gionta pass whistles past him. Habs in the crowd don’t like it. Houde notices and mentions it.
First good chance for the Canadiens is a slapshot from the point. Action stays in the Buffalo end and Rivet goes to the box for a crosscheck. Merited. Laraque is playing more aggressively than last season. A bit more on the edge. He also could have been called for a crosscheck on the sequence.
Plekanec to Gorges swooping in but Gorges misses the net. Plekanec is the setup guy from the phone booth. It’s more tennis judge than phone booth when it’s Tomas. He’s smaller (than Mr. Phone Booth).
We really missed Mr. Phone Booth on Thursday night; we’ll see him back in town on October 17th.
Second line doesn’t get much opportunity and the penalty ends with Lapierre on with Latendresse. Mara is wearing #32 and it’s hard not to think of Streit and how much smoother a 32 he was.
Great drive by Plekanec, speedy sir. Dumps it in from the left side but only two Sabres are there. Pass was a bit late.
Price is using the Huet pad slide to cross over right to left. Works for me.
O’Byrne gets a roughing penalty for a post-whistle cross-check in the crease. Brunet says it isn’t a good one to take.
Plekanec is playing with Koivu purpose on the shorthand. Another guy we miss. Yeah, I’m getting redundant. So what. No other team lost Saku Koivu in the offseason.
Price is looking more alert than usual. Quicker head movements; more erect posture. I dunno, I ain’t a goalie coach.
Montreal’s penalty-kill is quite good on this turn and Buffalo doesn’t generate a decent scoring chance despite some quality puck movement.
Period is coming to an end as Price freezes it for a faceoff with just under 20 seconds.
Gaustad has some words for Plekanec behind the Montreal net. Plekanec went after him after the freeze. I have to read that again to believe it. He has fight but I never thought I’d see him externalize that fight. Plekanec, to me, is the heir to Koivu. Can he live up to it?
We see the SOG stats; 12 to 5 for Buffalo.
Joel Bouchard says the team was awful in the first period in terms of turnovers.
Long shot by Rivet from the point and it was dangerous. No following shot from the Sabres.
Plekanec is fond of putting the puck on the goalie from behind a defender’s screen. This one is handled easily and frozen.
I really get the sense that Plekanec has made a conscious decision to model some of Saku’s persistent stylisms. Did Koivu have a good-bye chat with Plekanec and advise him? Worth asking. But it may have to wait til next summer.
When is the NHL going to go with helmet cams? They’re light enough nowadays. I think they’ve experimented with it before. I’d suggest equipping the officiating staff.
Lots of back-passes from the Gionta line. I find it irritating in the sense that it delays entry into the Buffalo zone. But this is just an entertain-me gripe. Back passes are part of a full maneuvering strategy.
Scrum. Someone bumped the Sabre goalie. Gomez has a Ribeiro-Iginla expression on his face. Doesn’t have his tongue hanging out but smirks with cheek. The officials discuss it with no interruption from players. It was Rivet and Gomez at the centre of it. Rivet jawing and Gomez tussling a bit.
Gionta is having a conversation with the refs, now. He seems in disagreement. Gomez and Gill are in the box. Gionta has a captain’s demeanour.
Man-advantage, Buffalo. Lapierre paired with Plekanec. Lapierre wins the faceoff against Vanek. Puck rounds the boards behind Price and Plekanec shoots it into the Buffalo zone.
Buffalo sets up. Control. At the side. And then poked out by Gionta.
Buffalo sets up again. On the opposite side. Connelly at the hash marks. Puck is frozen. And now Roy goes to the box. Net result is a four-on-four.
Point shot from Hamrlik. Play is halted as Miller hangs onto it.
Lapierre is on with Cammalleri.
Four-on-four is crossed-sword and scrappy ice-lock. Montreal penalty ends and the Canadiens will have about fifty seconds to work with. Man-advantage.
Brunet says the concentration and intensity is not there. I missed whether he was referring to Kostitsyn alone or the Canadiens in general.
Hitting increases with Latendresse’ lie on the ice. Moen puts a Sabre on the ice, skates up. Legit hit and the whistle goes and ends that sequence. Laraque line is on. Against Connelly.
Stewart takes a tripping call shortly after the faceoff.
Some of the fluidity and motion which gets misidentified as intensity is a facet of the game that comes with chemistry and having played together for some time. The team, obviously, is still finding this and it may take time. As we have seen, some pairings or lines (as with Samsonov and Kovalev in 06-07) never find it.
Stewart penalty was deserved and seems a bit of a sloppy decision. It’s hard to tell from this angle if the hooked Sabre exaggerated it.
Montreal is clearing the rebounds well and they do so again. Price makes a nice-looking high glove save from his knees. Almost a cosmetic gesture but great hand-eye coordination. This guy is the answer’s question.
One minute left in the penalty. Good movement and then a shot which is partially cleared (to the neutral zone). Buffalo resumes control and my tension mounts. Great save from Price on a cross-ice set-up. Very good movement and stops a sure scoring chance.
Price loses the puck at the side of the net and it dribbles through and Gorges clears it.
Lapierre takes it down on a two-on-one and the resulting shot is trapped by Miller. Scrum ensues. No definite strikes. No penalties.
Lapierre has some good offensive skills that seem to have an upside. His speed and tenacity make him an opportunistic player, one I’d estimate to be good for 12-15 goals a season. But with that upside, could he be a 20-25 goal scorer in the future? I wish I knew.
There was a penalty called. Or three. The advantage is Montreal’s in this case. Quickly though, the Canadiens are whistled for interference. Cammalleri takes down Roy. But it’s Gionta in the box. Viard.
Four-on-four and Plekanec and Cammalleri generate two ok chances. Now AK46 is on with Gomez. Intriguing. Early turnover.
They try and break out but a bad back pass by Hamrlik slows things down.
Sabres now go on the power-play. But Moen takes the puck down two-on-one with Latendresse. Net goes off; Moen into Miller and the ref says it’s a goal. Strange doings. Replay indicates a goal. Moen came in on the right side, was tripped and as he fell directed the puck backhanded between Miller’s pads. They count it and that’s it.
Montreal 1, Buffalo 1.
Crowd is heckling and jeering the officials. Sounds like a bad barn chicken-fight crowd. From the 1800’s.
Moen has the face of a pirate. Scarred and scruffy. And the smirk of a devil.
Under seven minutes in the period. Buffalo long pass fails and is called for icing.
Montreal wins the deep faceoff but Buffalo regain control behind the net and another deep pass fails resulting in a second icing. Same Sabre players will stay on. Opportunity. Laraque is thrown on with his linemates. Montreal wins the faceoff but Gill fails to control at the blue line. Whistle goes on his ensuing offside pass and Buffalo can get new players on the ice. Gill. Great.
Our words on goal count are at 1705 at this point. Just thought I’d do a stat update, myself.
Lapierre gets called for hooking. Lots of penalties, yo. Sloppy, as well. And Lapierre knows it.
Buffalo power-play is due.
Sabres finally set up 45 seconds in. Butler shoots from the point. Repelled. Then a bad pass from Vanek forces Buffalo to regroup. Price intercepts a second pass behind the net on this kill and Buffalo has to regroup again. Price, again, intercepts a puck behind the net and Buffalo is forced to regroup and worse, have to defend a two-on-one. Buffalo muffles that chance (Plekanec and Moen) and the Montreal kill is having a good night.
Houde says that Kostitsyn is having un match épouvantable (appalling).
Tallinder gets an interference call and Ruff is stoic. Another power-play. I wish these guys would play a cleaner game. All these power-plays are on my nerves. You heard me, Tej.
Now it’s Montreal who can’t set up. Finally a long pass puts Latendresse in the clear. He tries a deke but getting the puck from his forehand to his backhand is very slow going and an easy save for Miller.
Sekera gets hit in the face with the puck fifteen seconds later. Ruff looks momentarily concerned and then gives a Christopher Plummer glance at the clock. Sekera seems recovered a bit and he skates bent over to the Buffalo bench. Crowd gives a brief and mild cheer.
Cammalleri creates Canadiens’ best-looking chance of the night but nobody can get a stick on it. Doorstep fail.
Joel Bouchard is at his digital pulpit and he shows us some of Montreal’s turnover problems tonight. He’s got a Wolverine hair-style and a 1973 orange and red-striped tie. He shows how Stewart is too close to Metropolit on a failed breakout and says that Stewart should have been up further to give Metropolit a passing target. Fair enough.
Demers lobs a bouquet for Laraque on his positional work so far this season. He uses his first name.
Joel Bouchard is on with a bit of puck strategy for the kids now. It’s filmed on ice and Bouchard shares the value of sacrificing a bit of velocity for elevation on shots from the point. He’s working with Kris Letang of the Penguins. Hard to tell what practice facility they are using but it’s small, seats are just three rows deep. As compared with the three-hundred plus deep NHL arenas.
Bouchard knows his hockey and his lessons are valuable not just for kids but for old, recovering hockey exiles like me.
Second and third efforts by Gionta and Cammalleri in Buffalo territory draw a Buffalo tripping call. First penalty that doesn’t leave that careless sensation.
Mara is on with Gorges and Latendresse gets a rare turn on the power-play. Initial efforts are rebuffed by Buffalo.
One on the top, Hamr-like and some back and forth passing with Spacek optioning from the right point. It’s his call whether he wants to prowl in. No quality chances and Buffalo kills it off.
Now Pacioretty is on with Plekanec and AK46. They have their best possession of the evening and it’s nothing to brag about. They’ve really struggled tonight. That sequence was about eight seconds, maybe three passes and no shots on goal.
Still one-one with just under sixteen minutes left. WWWD. What would Wayne do? What IS Wayne going to do?
They should have interviewed Spacek on his feelings regarding playing his old team again.
Brunet says that Bob Gainey joked with him earlier, asking if he had brought his skates. Brunet laughs and tells Pierre Houde that he’d have one, maybe two good shifts in him and that’s it.
I wonder who the Bell Centre will boo first this season. I wonder if they will start early or later than usual in the season. It’s almost a full reset with the number of changes. Patience should get reset along with that, no?
Just under twelve minutes left and the teams trade pucks. Neither team is able to establish an offensive presence aside from the misfirings of each club’s power-play.
Puck bounces over Miller and, luckily for him, over the net also. This just seconds after Houde says that this line is having their best period of the night.
Montador is going to get a boarding or charging call. On Lapierre. Lapierre gets up with little problem.
I keep finding myself waiting for Kovalev to hop over the boards on the power-play. It’s a bit like when Lafleur retired. I always looked for that number ten. I was more crazy about Lafleur than Kovalev. No doubt. It took a few years to stop looking for Lafleur.
Buffalo’s Hecht drives in short-handed on Price’s left and takes a sharp-angle shot which Price makes a good right-pad save on.
Montreal wins the ensuing faceoff and get things going. They set up and Plekanec’ wizardry keeps the puck alive but Buffalo finally clears.
One last rush from our boys. Buffalo is adroit and they end the penalty.
More action that seems somewhat tepid.
Sabres are going to the power-play. Chris Butler carries it out and Plekanec and Lapierre are the first kill pair.
Brunet compliments Plekanec’ penalty-killing. Again, the Sabres are neutralized by the Canadiens. Just a guess but I imagine offensive power-play numbers are less efficient in the early parts of a season. Regardless of team.
The penalty was to Andrei Kostitsyn. Another late-period whistle. But Montreal kills it.
Gomez on. This is Saku’s time. But Gomez will have to do. Can’t ask Saku to save our eggs anymore. Or ever again? I read a post from a Canadiens fan stating that he wouldn’t attend another Habs game til Bob brought Saku back. Koivu’s contract with Anaheim is a one-year deal. It’s possible though unlikely. Plus his kids must be loving the weather. No? It’s hard to leave school friends behind. Maybe Saku is enjoying the weather. And his international linemate.
Four and a half minutes left. We are also missing the rugged consistency that Kostopoulos brought. Begin had that role before him. Lapierre and Latendresse must provide it now.
Francis Bouillon. Another high-tempo player, gone. Dandenault, as well. Moen, Mara and Metropolit seem to be providing same. Can a team of batteries-only win a Cup?
Just over three minutes. Slopping along the boards. I can’t help but feel admiration for the Sabres and their system. They always play a good game against Montreal. I can’t think of a bad game from this team. Of course, on chat boards, one hears the usual complaints leveled against Buffalo as against all NHL teams. The last time I checked a Buffalo board, Maxim Afinogenov was the target.
Time is draining away and we seem headed for overtime. Just under two minutes. The action is interrupt and chuck. Lots of neutral zone, lots of hitting and several intercepted passes.
Mara stops a dangerous entry from a deep lead pass. Buffalo gets a great chance. Pominville. And Price is asked to make a difficult save for the first time this period. He makes a great save.
Action resumes and Montreal can’t contain the puck in the Buffalo zone. Buffalo has spent more time in Montreal territory than the inverse.
Buffalo outshot Montreal 11-1 I the third. Oof. Will Price be a Hart Trophy candidate this season? God I hope not. Because that would mean another José-type season. Outshot by large margins every game. I’d rather see Price get a Hart under different circumstances. I think Bob Gainey is not done rebuilding this team. I think a sizable forward is on the way.
Same format, four-on-four. Jacques Martin and Kirk Muller discuss their pairings.
Buffalo creates the most exciting sequence of the game thus far. Maybe the only such sequence tonight. Canadiens have to scramble and Price has to be sharp. Three great chances. But no goal.
Four-on-four hockey is far better than five-on-five. From an entertainment viewpoint. What other viewpoint is there? Just kidding.
Gomez with Gionta. What? They score? What happened? And I was watching.
Gomez appeared to miss the net and I’m guessing the puck bounced back in front for Gionta.
Ok. Replay. We see Gomez slap it, it bounces off an ankle to the right of the net, back out in front and Gionta taps it in out of the air and into the net. Wow. At about knee level.
Two overtime wins. Both ugly. Lots of joy. Celebrating. The saying in football, winning breeds togetherness. Not the other way around. Well, not everyone says that.
Buffalo 1 (OT)
HDS Stars: Price, Vanek, Gionta
RDS Stars: Price, Moen, Myers