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The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

Washington Musings and In-Game Scribbles

November 20, 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 (10-11) visit Washington Capitals (13-4-4)
Friday, November 20, 2009
Game Twenty-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.
Michal Neuvirth is the Capitals goaltender, his first game ever against Montreal.

First Period

Moen and Gomez are on first with Cammalleri.  Ryan O’Byrne is back in the lineup tonight as well as George Laraque.

Washington is missing some guys but Alexander the Great is not one of them.

Kostitsyn is on next and gets an early shot from inside the blue line that Neuvirth stops with some trouble but holds for the faceoff.  Another faceoff soon ensues.

Pacioretty dumps it in after the next faceoff and the Canadiens change their lines.  Lapierre is on with Latendresse (of course) and Ryan White.

Metropolit is on with Pyatt and Laraque as the fourth trio.

They control it deep to the left of Neuvirth.  They keep it in for all of their shift with O’Byrne skating in deep to keep the possession.

Finally the puck is forced out.  But the Canadiens retain control and push it back in.  They go offside and Gomez’ line is back on.

We heard earlier that Gionta will miss five to six weeks.  Much longer than I had imagined.  This may help wake up the big brother.  Of the little brother.

Long shot on Price is stopped and a Capital is pushed into Price who is on his haunches and curves backward like a caterpillar.

Josh Gorges is called for interference on the play and the Capitals bring out their first wave for the power-play.

They win the faceoff and get it to the blue line where a turnover results in a Plekanec drive and backhand shot that gives Neuvirth trouble.  He keeps it in play and the Capitals set up again.  Capitals move it around the perimeter.  Long shot goes wild and wide and the Habs clear it.

Now Pyatt comes in with a lone Capital defender.  Neuvirth makes a biscuit stop on a mid-range height shot.  Just 34 seconds in the penalty.

Capitals move it back in.  Gomez pushes Cap forward Eric Fehr off the puck and clears it.  Just ten seconds in the penalty.  We hear Neuvirth’s stick echoing in the rather quiet arena, counting out the final seconds of the penalty for his teammates.

Gorges is back and both teams change lines.

Moen forechecks well against Schultz and the Canadiens create a slot chance that no sticks can touch.  Neuvirth finds the puck and stops play.

Kostitsyn, Plekanec and Pacioretty are on after the commercial pause they lose control at the blue line despite winning the faceoff.

Pacioretty loses the puck deep following Montreal’s regain.

Pace is middling to fair and Montreal is carrying the play.  Just over twelve minutes left in the first period.

Energy line is on.  Lapierre.

Perrault enters, shoots and it’s blocked by O’Byrne who recovers the puck and starts a rush that ends with a right pad save by Neuvirth.

Price leaves it behind his net for Marc-Andre Bergeron.  He moves the attack forward.  Incursion is brief and the Canadiens have to recoup the puck twice before the Moen line gets about five unslick seconds’ control on Washington ice.

Canadiens are making a lot of passes.  Completing more than 80% of them.  Fair amount of medium passes.  Almost none long.

AK46 gets a shot close to Neuvirth and the goaltender has to freeze the puck.  Houde remarks that the Canadiens have played a good first period so far.

We are back and a quick whistle follows the faceoff. Puck went out of play.

Lapierre is chased out of the circle and White takes and wins the faceoff.

Bergeron has some difficulty at the left circle and loses it to Beagle.  Leads to Capitals longest possession in five-on-five.  About 20 seconds.  Houde says all this started after Bergeron lost his footing.  Puck is cycled.  Moves up the side.  Shot.  Goal.  O’Byrne lost a battle and then Fehr’s shot from the right faceoff dot goes in.

Washington 1, Montreal 0.

Thanks, Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Canadiens take it down on the next sequence but lose it soon after behind the Washington net.

Teams are skating with greater life.  Picture goes blurry for three, four seconds.  RDS.  Not me.

Canadiens are called for tripping as the Capitals resume control.  Delayed call will be against Spacek.  Capitals pass the puck around the perimeter and finally Laraque touches it to stop play and start the Washington attacque massive.

Caps are broomed out early but then get set up with 90 seconds left in the power-play.

Shot from Ovechkin goes wide.

Down in the corner.  Mara fights two Caps behind the net.  Now it goes to Green.  To Morrison.  Finally a shot from the blue line is stopped by Price.  Caps continue to move it around.

Long shot by Green is stopped by Price.

Green gets another long shot.  Save.

Ovechkin from the right faceoff dot.  Stopped.

Canadiens hold on against the Capital power-play.  Spacek returns to play and then moments later Neuvirth captures a puck in front of his net for a faceoff.

First line.

Nebulous result on the faceoff results in a Washington exit.  Pass to the blue line is shot wide by Washington.

Hamrlik is up and pinching now in Washington territory.  Puck goes around the net and is passed back to O’Byrne whose shot hits a shin.

Caps push it out, Habs recover and re-enter and a harmless shot is trapped by Neuvirth.

Play ends and then resumes.

Kostitsyn is fighting to control the puck down the right boards.  Loses it but keeps up the effort and nearly gets it back.  Habs get another shot soon afterward and Neuvirth seals the action yet again.

Just two and a half minutes.

Canadiens win the faceoff and get a blue line shot that is gloved and held.

O’Byrne sort of wins a puck in the corner to the right of Price but Laraque can’t reach it.  Now it bounces up and out of play as two, three hockey humanoids whack at it.

Caps win the faceoff.  Back to Green.  He troubles himself to carry up to the hash.  Caps keep it in.  Back to Green.  Shot.  No harm done.

Cammalleri creates down the right side.  Drops it for Gomez.  Just inside the Washington blue.  Then a chance in the slot.  Canadiens keep control.  Puck suddenly appears in front of Neuvirth for Moen but he doesn’t see it soon enough and his backhand attempt is rendered null.  Neuvirth covers it.  A small scrum ensues.  Gomez and Moen are in the slot and dealing with Washington players defending the honour of their crease.

Plekanec loses the faceoff to Steckel.  The chase begins and Hamrlik comes up with quickly afterward in Montreal territory.

Just over forty seconds.  Plekanec enters and Houde’s tenor sounds a chance.  But they can’t get further than the hash.

Puck floats here and is passed there and the period ends with the Capitals in the neutral zone.

Suddenly a real fight erupts.  Erskine versus Laraque … many quick punches, about 60% from the Capital … and Erskine earns at least a draw.

There was time for a last faceoff outside the Montreal blue line.  Period ends.

Canadiens lead on shots 14 to 7.

First Intermission
Washington 1, Montreal 0

Chroniques a la Une (this broadcast segment’s name) with Francois Gagnon and Alain Crete from the studio in Montreal.

First they discuss some uninteresting stats from nhl.com.  They do mention that Toronto is not doing well.  We know.  And former Canadiens goaltender and February, 2004 Molson Cup-winner Mathieu Garon has won his last 13 straight shootout games.  I assume this counts last season.

Demers, Crete and Bouchard discuss the first period and Jacques compliments the Canadiens for not being intimidated on the road against Washington and falling behind by one goal.  Bouchard’s comments bore me.  Hockey basics.

Next June, look forward to Detroit Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup in six games over your Washington Capitals.  (Why don’t the Redskins change their name, already, Raysh?)

We get a chat with Capital Michel Perrault just prior to resuming the period.

Seven of Montreal’s fourteen shots were by the Plekanec line.

Second Period
Washington 1, Montreal 0

RDS informs us that the Capitals are 7-0-2 when Ovechkin scores.  Means nothing.

Caps have light control early.

Then we see a shot from Gomez, a lost puck battle (Pacioretty loses it to Backstrom) and a puck over the boards.

Cap captain Chris Clark creates problems and confusion now and Price has to make two saves.  Now Washington defenceman John Carlson gets a shot on the post from the blue line.  It’s his first NHL game.  A good direct post, not one of those namby-pamby side-of-the-net deals.  Could have gone in just as easily.  Price is lucky.

Tomas Fleischmann gets a quick, dangerous shot on Price after some back and forth.  Price is in good position and that high shoulder gap is not available anymore on shots from the side.

Faceoff deep in Washington territory.

Cammalleri cruises out from the right, back to Neuvirth.  He passes it backhanded to the point.  Hamrlik shoots it, just trying to get something on net. And it goes in.  Somehow.  Replay doesn’t explain it.  Neuvirth did not look screened.  Lucky goal.

Washington 1, Montreal 1.

Second replay doesn’t show why Neuvirth missed it.

Steckel tries a shot with no angle to the right of Price.  Nothing.

Ovechkin has only played four periods since returning from his injury and he is unnoticeable so far.  I really shouldn’t have typed that invitation to the Hockey Gods.  Since Ovie’s return he has had only one shot on goal.

Perhaps he is playing hurt.

Kostitsyn fans on a setup from Plekanec.  But the line continues.  He’s playing with some style tonight.  Gets the puck high-steps, looks, passes.  Finds Plekanec above the slot.  One-timer hits a Capital and goes through Neuvirth

Montreal 2, Washington 1.

Thirteen minutes left in the second period.

Pyatt chases a puck down but the Canadiens can’t support him.  Laraque lost the puck.

Faceoff follows shortly afterward.

We’re not having fun.  Where is the creativity?

Price stops a puck behind his net but the Caps come up with it.  Puck goes to the other end.  And then to the other end.  Icing against Washington.

Read today that Howie Meeker was booed at his first NHL players’ award night and he never attended another one.  He wasn’t well-liked by the players.  He was perceived as too critical.

Three on two.  Pacioretty waits a bit too long and drops it for Plekanec.  Too many Caps around to allow Tomas to get his stick blade on it.  Brunet and Houde say Pacioretty should have shot the puck.  Well, I got my creativity but this was a case of “too much Hollywood”.

Caps get their most dangerous entry now.  Shot goes high.

Teams go up a gear in speed and we have ten and a half minutes in the period.

Crowd is cascading.  They crackle.  Longer passes.  Less space and time to make them.  Slightly more turnovers.  Pace like this favours Washington.

Plekanec brings it over the line with a Cap on his tail and the shot goes high and out of play.  Deflected.

Was thinking today that I’m one of those Montreal partisans who don’t just want to see the team play well but wants to see it play with panache.  Not the first time I’ve admitted that to myself.

Plekanec wins the faceoff.  Caps get the puck.

Houde and Brunet agree that Kostitsyn is playing a good game tonight as they watch him give chase.  Another faceoff.

If deal-makers chew cigars, what should consensus-builders chew?  We are reminded that Serge Savard is a guest on RDS this weekend.  Carrots.

Spacek stops an initial Capital charge but they pick up the puck behind the Montreal net and work it to the high slot.  Shot ends up in the stands.  Carlson.

Caps are controlling again off the faceoff.  And this one looks laboured for Montreal.  Canadiens get it out and Houde says the Canadiens got a break.

Capitals are carrying the action.  Laich comes out from the corner and tries to jam it in.  Net goes off its moorings and play is stopped.

Canadiens match the Washington efforts and with five and a half minutes left, the pace lowers one gear.  Passes are back to their high accuracy for both teams.

Whistle.  Future Shop commercial followed by a tire commercial and some deep winter shots that remind me of the chilled roads outside Fort McMurray on the way down to Athabasca.  That can only be real footage.  There’s something comforting about what one knows.  I know cold.  And snow.  I hate being cold.  But I’m comforted by the upcoming winter.  Not that Toronto has what one could fairly call winter.

Plekanec loses the faceoff to the left of Neuvirth.

Where is Jose tonight, I wonder.  I guess at some point, I’ll have to start preparing for these games, eh?  Memorize roster numbers, scan injury reports.  Seems boring.  But worth knowing if one is going to watch.

Washington is not taking Montreal seriously.  (Should they?)

Moen savages a Capital behind the net.  Glove to the face on a sorta legal check.

The puck is moving around the oval and nobody is able to intercept and carry it into the middle.  The game is being played on the edges.  That also seems boring.

Green leads a rush.  Drops it for Fleischmann.  Shot.  Wide.  Washington ramps it up one.  Montreal is in trouble.  But O’Byrne saves our eggs and gets the puck in the slot and passes it to Bergeron who clears it out.

Washington re-enters and Brooks Laich gets in alone.  Goes to his backhand.  Price is patient, says Houde afterward.  He moved with it and Laich’s shot went high.  Houde says that more and more, Price resists the urge to go to his knees to early.

Stoppage in play allows us to get a closer look at Jacques Martin’s mauve dress shirt (dark suit).

Morrison.  Shot.  Rebound is the best chance of the night.  Price is absent, a turned banana.  But Backstrom can’t his stick on it.  Just under a minute.

Canadiens rush with Kostitsyn carrying it down.  Tries a pass.  Nope.

Caps have it now.  Pinching.  Gorges traps Fleischmann.  Metropolit and Perrault are both bully and locker on the boards.

Period ends.  Houde says it’s another good period for the Canadiens.  Caps were only present on five sequences.  That’s the reason Montreal leads.

Shots on goal are 11 to four in favour of Washington.

Second Intermission
Montreal 2, Washington 1

Bouchard says that Washington doesn’t want to play with intensity in its own zone and he supports it with video footage of a Moen incursion.  Now we see the sequence where Washington controlled the longest on five-on-five and Bouchard shows it in high speed.  He says that the Canadiens can’t afford to allow a team like Washington this kind of time.

One for the dad and one for the son.

Now Demers explains that Kostitsyn is starting to understand Martin’s expectations of him and underlines the eleven minutes he has had tonight.  Good and hard work will be rewarded.  Bouchard pats Demers shoulder to interrupt him and adds that the team needs Kostitsyn and that he’s not a nice-to-have but a need-to-have.  Demers concurs that Kostitsyn has talent and that he hopes it works out.

Now a slow-motion Alouette commercial in French.  Well, they’re all in French.

And now one of the best commercials I’ve seen on RDS.  A cute wine commercial.  Woman loses her nerve twice while interacting with a store salesman.

Boston is tied 1-1 with Buffalo and Milan Lucic has scored his first of the season.  Owen Nolan has his fifth of the season for Minnesota.  Really.  Really?

I look it up and the answer is, yes, really.  Salty goatee and 37 years old.  Owen Nolan has five goals for the Wild in 22 games (counting tonight).  Well, well.

I think Montreal should sign Chris Chelios for the league minimum.  And get Shanahan, too.  Are those bad ideas?  And get Kovalev back.  Kovie is unhappy in Ottawa.  His heart is in Montreal.  Bring him back.  Hey, someone has to say it.

We have a little talk with Ryan O’Byrne prior to the period.  He’s part of that pickup truck crew on this team.  Hey, drive what you want, drink what you want, wear what you want, just don’t go offside on third (fourth) down.

Pickup truck boys; Carey Price, Josh Gorges and Ryan O’Byrne.  Higgins and Komisarek were the other pickup truck guys.

Third Period
Montreal 2, Washington 1

Now Montreal has to hang on.  And match Washington’s intensity level.  The league’s main pickup truck will be ramblin’.  And red.  Ford Ovie, baby.

But he isn’t on the ice first.  Instead it’s Perrault’s line.  Ovie must be less than a hundred.  (Percent, come on.  Percent)

Price waits calmly for the puck as Perrault accelerates like the devil’s fumes.  Puck gets to Price’s stick (placed like Dryden, a broom beside) and Price turns and lofts it around the back boards.

Ovie is on.

Canadiens take it the other way.  Pacioretty and Kostitsyn can’t double up and keep it.

Caps get in.  Tricky shot.  Distance shot.  Screened.  Price tracks it.  That could have gone in.  But he got it.  Price looks very calm.  He is a level up from October.  Keep it.

Ovie is off.  Short shift.

Mara.  Up for Laraque.  Loses it.  It’s on the boards.  Caps come out with it.  Schultz from the point.  Wide.  Now White from the other point.  This one bounces to a corner.   Puck goes out but the Caps take it and regroup.

Clark chases it down.  Back to Erskine.  Caps controlling well.  Latendresse in the slot.  Watching.  Now he takes down a pass receiver perfectly.  Puck dings to the other corner.  And the Caps are called.  Washington crowd starts booing.  And they keep booing longer than a non-hockey town would.

It’s Montreal’s first power-play of the night.

Washington’s Tyler Sloane creates a shot early, though.  And Montreal still has not set up at 1:21 remaining in the penalty.  Second wave is on.  They set it up.  Plekanec’ line.  Cammalleri and Kostitsyn on with Hammer and Spacek.

Caps’ Matt Bradley takes it in like a malevolent statue.  Turning, keeping it.  Pushing Price, hoping that the puck will slide under him.  Fails.  But the right idea.  If a bit caveman.

Metropolit gets a shot from the high slot soon afterward.  Good pad save from Neuvirth.  His best save of the night.  Penalty ends soon afterward.  Dommage.

Fourteen minutes and twenty-two seconds left in the third period.

Puck is gummed up on the side boards to the left of Price.  In that scrum, two penalties result.  Latendresse gets two minutes for hooking and Brendan Morrison gets two minutes for diving.  Hey, Don, I thought only Europeans did that.  Morrison is a good, golden boy from Pitt Meadows, BC.

I stayed there one week, once.  Nice place.  At least it was in 1991.  Wasn’t RAHOWA from around there?  Pros and cons, pros and cons.  (Not a fan, in case you were wondering.  They wouldn’t like me much, anyway.)

We get a shot of Cap mega-boss Ted Leonsis.  He is looking pleasant and well-groomed.  Rich.  He isn’t looking like he did that night he had that showdown.  With a fan.  Remember?  I know you do.

Montreal two-on-one is negated.

We’re in a four-on-four.

Just over thirteen minutes left.

Moen and Pyatt are the second pairing.  First time for either on the four-on-four.  Martin is rewarding their hard work.  And maybe sending a message to his top people.  Ahem.

Gomez has just not been a variable of any kind for five games now.  Not enough, anyway.

Metropolit loses two puck jousts but comes up with it the third time.  Old veterans.  Don’t fumble.

Laich is in.  He is interfered with but it isn’t called.  It’s borderline.  Crowd doesn’t like this, either (they didn’t like the diving call).  Capitals crowd is about as knowledgeable as Buffalo’s.  Both good hockey-knowledgeable groups.  Now an anti-ref chant begins.

Whistle.

Just under eleven minutes.

Cammalleri is on with his buddies.  Penalty is over.

Pothier shoots while floating left on the blue line.  Ovie is looking, waiting, moving in.  Nothing.

Seconds later another shot.  Price is there.  Stops play.

Faceoff is to the left of Price.  Plekanec takes it.  Wins.  Caps get it back.  They control.  Clark’s line.  They keep it in.  Now a two-on-one.  Kostitsyn.  Well and in the clear.  With Pacioretty.  Kostitsyn stops. Perfect.  Waits.  Passes.  Perfect.  Pacioretty fires it.  Misfires.  Misses entirely.

Houde says that Pacioretty is furious.  Houde says it’s understandable.  He adds that Kostitsyn gave him the perfect birthday present.  They have a little chuckle.

I’m not chuckling.

Caps win a faceoff to the left of Neuvirth (where’s Varlamov? … we were told earlier that he is the backup tonight).  This after some action and effort deep by Montreal.

Now the Caps have to boo again.  Tripping.  Accidental.  They have to call it.  Brooks Laich covering deep.

Montreal gets their second power-play with just under eight minutes left in the period.

They win the faceoff.  They control.  Plekanec.  Down on the side.  Down.  Then back up.  Puck goes around.  They find Cammalleri.  He blasts it in with that deceptive high-velocity shot of his.

Montreal 3, Washington 1.

Montreal continues to carry the play.  Pacioretty shoots from the mid-slot.  Wrister.  This one he gets right.  But Neuvirth makes the save.

Lapierre line is on for the next faceoff.

Caps have six and a half minutes to rearrange the optics.  I’m starting to dislike that saying.  What a great loss to the English language.  Almost as bad as the loss of the word “awesome”.

Montreal ices it.

Houde remarks that the current line has been on a long time and that this icing was a bad one.

Bergeron works very hard and with one hand to help get it out.  Montreal gets the line change.

Plekanec line is on.  Washington controls.  Carlson gets a shot from the point.  Easy shot. Price stops it and we’ll have another faceoff.

Gainey is traveling with the team and we see a shot of the Canadiens GM.  Houde says that there may be a change in the lineup after tonight.  Gainey does not always travel with the team but when he does, change is afoot, my dwarves.

Two quick stops in play precede the final four minutes.  We get a shot of Ovechkin.

Price makes a calm save, Houde says.

Metropolit wins the next faceoff.  But in the neutral zone, Washington resumes control.  Montreal forechecks well but Steckel is the beneficiary of Washington’s quick exit game.  His shot results in a chance in front but Price is on it.  Stops play.

Just under three minutes.

Ovechkin is on the ice.  Shot.  Into the trees.  Another chance.  Then a backhand.  Green.  Shoots.  Rebound.  In the slot.  Morrison.  Backhand.  Scores.

Montreal 3, Washington 2.

Crowd is pleased.  A bad song is on the sound system.  Who hires the people that make these musical maldecisions?  I emulsively hate stumping fiddle rock.

Washington is all over Montreal now.  (It’s like saying, it’s all over Montreal.  Now.)  Three shots.  A fourth.  Lapierre is called on the last.  A backhander by Fleischmann who was allowed to walk right into the slot on his backhand.

Washington powerplay.  Bergeron and O’Byrne were on the ice for this.  Lapierre shakes his head.  We see a Cap fan standing expectantly with a beer in hand and an old-school Capitals t-shirt.

Washington controls.  About a minute and a half.

Caps pull their goalie.  They maintain control all the while.  Just under a minute.  Shot by Ovechkin.  Price loses his stick.  Shot after shot.  Price.  Post.  Price.  Skelter scramble in front of the net.  Three white jerseys fall all around the puck.  Four.

Twenty seconds left.

Time-out.  Perry Pearn and Jacques Martin discuss things.

Bruce Boudreau exudes the calm demeanour his team needs.

Caps fans are all standing.

Plekanec versus Backstrom to the left of Price.

Plekanec wins it.  Hamrlik clears it.  But it touched a player on the bench along the way.  Whistle goes.

Bad luck says Houde.  Faceoff from the same spot.

Same two players.

Tomas wins it.  It goes forward.  Nobody but Tomas near it.  He advances.  Clears it by lobbing it high.  Ovechkin chases it.  Gets it over the Montreal blue.  Just six seconds.  One point two.  Pass to the point.  Can’t get the shot.

Canadiens win.

Montreal 3
Washington 2

HDS Stars: Carey Price, Tomas Plekanec, Mike Cammalleri
RDS Stars: Tomas Plekanec, Mike Green, Carey Price

(Washington’s best: Mike Green, Chris Clark, Nicklas Backstrom)

Norman Flynn gives the best video analysis in Ante-Chambre history tonight.  I love it and I’m impressed.  Jacques Martin said after the game that Gomez’ injury will be evaluated tomorrow.

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