Calgary Musings and In-Game Scribbles
October 6, 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 (2-0) at Calgary Flames (2-0)
Saturday, October 6, 2009
Game Three (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.
Here we are, here we are, where we are. Calgary. Remembering the blown 2-1 lead, the two five-on-three disasters and the worst road trip I can remember.
Kiprusoff is in net against Halak. Joel Bouchard and Jacques Demers are tie-less. No ties tonight.
Martin looks the exact same age he was ten years ago.
Lighting is good in this rink. I like that they kept the “Saddledome” in Pengrowth Saddledome. More rinks should have done this. And should do. Begin.
Canadiens can’t get it out again. Gill. On the ice and playing the pylon.
Montreal’s white uniforms are the best look for the team. Perhaps they should consider going with a black, white and red third jersey. I mean, how long can France remain important? Royal Family. Ffaah.
Laraque gets his third straight start. Chipchura gets his first chance this season. They are on the same line.
Calgary boasts Ollie Jokinen, Jarome Iginla and the new guy, Moss, on Brent Sutter’s first line.
Cammalleri is well-liked here in Calgary and the Ontario lad might have a great game. I’m expecting such.
Moen, Lapierre and Latendresse are together and on the ice for this faceoff. Moen throws a thoughtless disc in front and it dribbles out of the Calgary zone. Action moves out of the Montreal zone quickly. Plekanec and AK46 combine for a screened shot that is harmless.
Now Chipchura gets a backhand chance in front.
Three small guys beat the Flames along the end boards. Gomez, Gionta and Cammalleri. Size doesn’t matter as much as y’all think.
Again, it’s difficult for the Canadiens to establish offensive rhythm by controlling the puck. And again, it’s the Latendresse line that does it best.
Houde says this is the team’s best first period of the year thus far.
Halak saves our eggs. Scramble in front. Action continues. Almost no stops in this game.
Flames keep the puck in, move it around and score. Top of the slot. Screened shot after a blue-line drive bounced back. Eric Nystrom. Good goal and a good sign for the Flames as their fourth line has notched.
Calgary 1, Montreal 0.
Stewart goes with Prust right after the ensuing faceoff. Blah,blah. Another boring, pre-meditated fight. Thanks for comin’ out.
Gionta line on. They win the faceoff, push it into the Flame zone and it comes out just as quickly. Montreal is forechecking deep with two and the third guy is aggressively at the hash. I like it better when we’re behind.
Now Calgary has control. Cycling. To the point. And finally Latendresse is able to lob it out the neutral zone. Fourth line is on for Canadiens. Or is it the second line? Plekanec is on with him.
Still rusty at reading the lines and the new faces don’t help.
Boy, Laraque’s stick-handling is deliberate.
Gomez streaks in and gets a wrister off that Kiprusoff has to freeze.
Just over seven minutes left and Montreal can’t get a rhythm going. But really, neither can Calgary. Whoah, now some very nice puck movement from the Plekanec line. Best sequence of the period but no shot. Encouraging. Drop, circle, cleave and return. AK46 and Plekanec.
Pacioretty is winning the races to the endboards so far.
They interview Kirk Muller right before the next faceoff. Muller is very accommodating and gives some good insight. Comments on the altitude difference. Get the media out of the player bench area during games.
I have to relearn how to watch these games. What happened. Man.
Careless failed exit by Kostitsyn. His brother wants to be traded and the team, according to ESPN has said they will acquiesce this request. Does that mean we will see the older brother leave, as well? Eventually?
Gill and Cammalleri are wearing the “A” tonight. It stands for “alternate”. Not “assistant”.
High stick stops the play.
Lapierre line moves off the ice and we see Chipchura with Laraque and Stewart. This is also Weber’s first game of the season. He’s been called up for the loss of Markov. Montreal also signed Marc-Andre Savard today. He will play in Hamilton briefly to tune up before joining the big club. Savard was signed for just 700K. He’s twenty-eight and I’m told he is a good power-play defenceman but not a great defender.
Canadiens score. Gomez from Cammalleri. From the D’Agostini golf-shot spot. Top of the left circle. Cross-ice PS2-type pass.
Canadiens 1, Flames 1.
Canadiens score again. Right away.
Canadiens 2, Flames 1.
Canadiens get another good chance before the period ends and Gomez is leveled. He’s up and ok. Bouwmeester knocked him down.
You know, I’d actually be writing but the pizza order I got has just irritated me to the point of silence. Totally wrong pizza and they forgot the drink and the salad. How does that happen. Pizzaiolo. And they can’t credit me til the manager calls me. “Maybe tomorrow”. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe. Tomorrow. Ok, then.
Pizzaiolo on Bloor near Bathurst. What a joke. I’m looking at the receipt and I just can’t believe it. How can you make a mistake on all four ingredients. Order mix-up? I’m tired of excuses. From everyone.
Montreal can’t hold the puck for longer periods as they used to. I suppose there are other styles in this world. But isn’t puck possession a Montreal hallmark? Isn’t it? Isn’t it?
Four-cheese pizza. Great. Just what I wanted. And no Coke. Original order was a Brando. A robust, manly cheese-pie.
I’m really trying to keep things rated “G”, here. I should get a Nobel Peace Prize for my clean language right now.
Calgary is controlling against our Lapierre,-Latendresse-Moen line.
It’s impossible to keep track of the lines. Martin is mixing up the players and I can’t tell which player is which. Usually, I can tell by the way they skate, who the player is. Forget it with about eight new skaters.
Nystrom and Chipchura are in a fight. Chipchura has a grown-up’s face. And he’s a very good fighter. He’s got the size and strength advantage in this one, anyhow. Chipchura wins a unanimous decision.
No penalty imbalance and we resume with five-on-five hockey. Both players are boxed for five each.
All of these players, Spacek, Weber and so forth each have habits and tendencies that I don’t know at all. So I can’t tell which guy is playing normal and which guy is playing worse than usual. I will stop complaining now. About that issue.
Gill. Loses the puck coming out of the Montreal zone. Doesn’t lead to any danger. This time.
Conroy comes in a few seconds later and gets a weak backhand off. Turned away easily by Halak.
Flames are leading this period on shots, 6-0, we are told. Alrighty then.
Plekanec is on with AK46 and Pacioretty. Not a lot of control and the Flames take it in and lose it shortly thereafter, as well.
Now the Flames show some decent control. It’s nice to see. Even if it’s the opposition team. Lotso chaos tonight. Or that’s how it looks to me. So when a team can control and get things organized, it’s a brief pleasure. Brief this time because the puck sidles to the side of the net and Halak muffles it. Whistle. Commercial. And I said I wouldn’t complain.
Iginla is a great player and great captain. Anyone who disagrees probably doesn’t like Van Halen, either. Dismissed. (If you don’t like Van Halen, you don’t like rock and roll).
Iginla comes in on a four-on-two but the Flames fail to get a decent shot. But they maintain control. Habs are standing around a bit. Finally they get it out. Oh boy, are we going to miss Markov.
Plekanec line on. Moen and Hamrlik on the blue. Gorges makes a great breakout pass for Pacioretty but the new Max gets belted at the entrance ramp and loses footing, dignity and puck. Great check. Pardy (that’s a Flame’s last name – Adam. Adam Pardy. Number seven).
Flames pour in. They have great control again. Finally, Hamrlik rounds it behind Halak to Spacek and they move it out. Laraque cycles to Plekanec (you read that right) and Montreal shows their best control of the night. Gorges pinches smartly as part of the sequence. No shots result.
Flames return. The last four rushes by Calgary have all been dangerous. This is like slow-motion tennis. On ice. Or a very bad Atari XL video game from the eighties. No, not VCS. XL.
Just under ten minutes in the period.
Very few whistles. Very clean play. Lots of turnovers and digging. I’ve been told that this is the West style of hockey. (I was told this by my Calgary affiliate during a first intermission long-distance phone call).
The spacing is different. I really miss Bouillon’s breakout game. Very unnoticed player. They should have a reunion game. Just one.
Kostitsyn lines a guy up and drills him. Great hit. He’s been hitting more confidently this season. He looks quietly proud of himself as he skates back to the bench. Seems everything he does in public is quiet.
Laraque and Weber miscommunicate on the boards and the end result is a Flame goal. Brunet blames Stewart. But the initial misplay was Laraque and Weber. Stewart fails to capture the puck coming out near the hash and the obvious miss results in the scoring shot.
Calgary 2, Montreal 2.
Maybe if the game tempo picks up, Montreal will benefit. That’s if they have the same speed as last year. And I’m still deciding if we have more quickness and less speed. Or just less of both.
I think it’s the latter.
You can’t lose Alex Tanguay, Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev and Robert Lang and expect no changes to your offensive game. Lotto, lotto points there, good people.
Langkow blows it over the net; he could easily have scored; Pacioretty gets a hooking call on the sequence and Calgary will go to the first power-play of the night.
Gill somehow gets the PK assignment. Jokinen shoots, hits the post, rebound, bang. In the net.
Calgary 3, Montreal 2.
Iginla. Backhand from a sharp angle. Halak was still looking for the puck. Flame goals are typically followed by a quieter rink than in Bell Central. Better behaved?
Flames follow the Theory of Strand; goals motivate the scoring team more than the scored-on.
Montreal ends that thought and move it out.
Kostitsyn is going through his mid-game wakeup. Carries it against two defenders, shoots, chases the rebound in the corner, carries out to the blue line, passes. All very nice. He is a great skater and even better athlete. Just over two minutes left in the period.
Latendresse paints the wall with a Flame. This slow version of the team is not good for turnover ratios. Gill, Laraque and Stewart are all puck-possession liabilities. They are each aggression assets, though. What horror when they’re on the ice simultaneously. I guess they’re our Boston-Philly antidote.
Plekanec reverse backhand. Goal. Most of Montreal’s goals this year are of the sudden single-man or two-man effort variety. Is that good? We shall see. Team chemistry is still in progress. So let’s wait and see.
Montreal 3, Calgary 3.
Calgary deserves the lead, though. Such is hockey.
Talking to the Calgary affiliate
Montreal defencemen need to pinch more. Flame crowd is more into it. Hab versus Flame voices in the crowd. Plekanec has been the best Canadien tonight. Great ability, speed and purpose. Lapierre gives up on a puck and Calgary gets a freebie shot. Goes high and Montreal is lucky. Lapierre should have dived. Begin would have.
Now Kronwall shoots from the point and it finds its way in.
Calgary 4, Montreal 3.
Bounced a couple of times on the way in. The red light bathes the ice. Looks pretty. Yeah, pretty.
Gionta has a hard shot for a smaller guy. Impressive. Again, I find myself comparing him to Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay. Another fine, shorter player. Replay shows that Nystrom got the deflection. And that means he has a hat trick for the night.
He seems surprised but pleased. He is shaking his head, smiling and saying “I don’t know” to Iginla.
Spacek is not the smooth passer I perceived him to be in Buffalo. Of course, he is still figuring out his teammates’ patterns and style. Now the Canadiens come close. This is not the sizable heavyweight matchup of the late eighties when the two teams were one and two, the biggest in the NHL.
It’s a smaller, faster league. In some ways. Because, after all, players are bigger now.
Pacioretty gets two good chances and, bob, I thought he’d bury the second one. He was tilted, bent like a table hockey centre and shooting away from his body. Bent-back rubber. But stopped.
Pace has picked up. Montreal has forced the tempo higher.
I keep thinking of how I agreed with Rejean Houle that the team is pointed in the right direction. But is ferocity for fleet street the right exchange? We’ll need thirty or forty games or more to know.
Blind pass from Plekanec into the slot results in what you’d expect. Quick turnover.
Wasted shot from Bourque coming the other way. Lapierre line hops on and we have about 13:15 on the clock.
Ligne Internationale scored a pile of goals coming into the playoffs. Gainey broke that line up. Either he wanted to surprise the Bruins or he had something else in mind. That line; Koivu, Kovalev and Tanguay was shock on ice. Great movement and creativity. But one of the things Montreal failed to do often last year was to score off the long controls. Perhaps that’s what Gainey is angling toward. His memoir will sell very well. Especially if he reveals all.
Twelve and a half minutes. Gomez moves very well through the neutral zone, carries it from his zone and over the Calgary blue line but Gionta is shoved over the blue line and Montreal is called for offside. Both Gionta and Gomez complain, asking for interference. Could have been called but won’t be at this point in the game. That’s the longest rush I’ve seen from Gomez this season. We want and need more of that, in a sense. We need to see Gomez get comfortable controlling the disc for long periods.
It will come.
Late game and the team may hit the fatigue (past our bedtime) pillow. It’s 11:07 EST. Late game for this writer. I wonder how bad this prose will get.
Spacek keeps the puck in and looks good in a Montreal uniform for the first time. Calgary breaks out anyway. Gionta gives a hoot. And the extra effort makes him a very dangerous player.
What if Koivu had never been injured? The one early in his career that stripped him of his sixth and seventh gears. He’d still be here. Maybe.
With 8:50 left, I realise that I’m having fun. The season is back. Or maybe it’s just the pizza-endorsed endorphins kicking in.
Pace is fast and favouring the Canadiens.
Broken Flame stick from the point. Gomez and Cammalleri show the patience, poise and creativity to create a good scoring chance.
Just under seven minutes.
Latendresse and Lapierre are on with Moen. And Weber shows a move to get around a player. He looked awkward, not as if he lacked grace, more as if he wasn’t sure he could get away with it at this level. It takes some time to figure out the speed difference. He played a handful of games for Montreal last season but it’s his first NHL game in months. Has to be disorienting.
Plekanec realises the team needs him to be one of the leaders. He is playing with confidence, It’s been a long while for him. I hope this time he is back for good. He is a very dangerous player when he’s on his game.
It’s starting to look like a regular Montreal game as the period carries on. High tempo, Good passing and care for the puck.
The lack of chemistry affects every look, every pass, every positional development. They have to communicate out there but not all players are talkers. Montreal could lose a number of games early on. But Markov’s absence could get the team playing with more care for pitching in to protect the puck.
Gomez has a way of putting the puck on net in dangerous ways. He tries to get weird bounces off goalies to provoke bizarre rebounds. Great ideas this guy has.
Three and a half minutes left.
Empty net will come but there will be no Kovalev or Koivu to make it happen. It will have to be Gomez and Cammalleri. Plekanec and Gionta.
Canadiens are maintaining pressure. Two and a half minutes. Canadiens are pinching at last. Latendresse returns to the bench in pain and we go to commercial. Subway. Eat dreck.
Brunet tells us the story of the game is Eric Nystrom. What. Bedtime story? Can’t we get some detail, some texture? Some stats that nobody thought of?
Cammalleri wins a deep faceoff for the Canadiens and the has keep it in. After some dithering Calgary sorties with the puck. For naught. Montreal is back on the attack and Plekanec and Kostitsyn are on the ice now. Just a minute and a half.
It’s great not to have that horrible playoff tension affecting every word, every observation.
Just under a minute and the Flames are making it difficult to pull the goalie. Finally Halak exits the net. Gomez line is on. Flames are forechecking well. Canadiens can’t get it in. Finally they do. They get two shots. But nothing dangerous.
Flames hold on. But they also deserve the win.
HDS Stars: Nystrom, Kronwall, Plekanec
RDS Stars: Nystrom, Iginla, Plekanec