The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

Montreal Canadiens versus Washington Capitals

November 28, 2009, by Homme De Sept-Iles

Musings and In-Game Scribbles

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 (12-12-1) host Washington Capitals (14-5-6)
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Game Twenty-Six (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.

Washington is in town. Semyon Varlamov is back in the house. Carey Price is in net for Montreal.

First Period

Caps win the faceoff and we start out with the lighting looking rather greenish. Caps control like it’s a power-play early but the puck bounces to Cammalleri who clears it off the boards in the neutral zone and both teams make changes.

Metropolit backhands it for the first chance, in the slot.

Pacioretty takes a holding call. Houde tells us it is the 12th time in some appalling number of games that the Habs have taken the first penalty.

Canadiens kill it. No scoring chances for either team.

Now a puck caroms twice and squeaks to a stop in front of Price who traps it.

Backstrom turns in a jungle. Shoulders up left over the blue line, now a small half-moon turn. Eventually loses it but we see some beauty.

Caps start to carry the play. They’re faster, they’re healthier.

High shot goes wide and over Price’s right shoulder. Puck jettisons to the blue line where an opposing diagonal results in a pinball goal.

Washington 1, Montreal 0

Within a minute, Washington scores again. Three-on-two. Backstrom drops it for Ovie and he blasts it in on a one-timer.

Washington 2, Montreal 0

Ovechkin’s shot is an ordained one.

We see Vladislav Tretiak in the crowd. He’s here because of Varlamov. But I miss the significance.

Pyatt is down to the left of Varlamov. Gets some support but it doesn’t last. Now Giroux is in the box. After some early bouquets for the young player, who is temporarily promoted to the first line with Ovie and Bacsktrom we hear nothing on his penalty,

Canadiens first wave controls but can’t generate a quality chance. Second wave enters with just thirty seconds left in the penalty.

Chipchura is on this wave.

Sergei Kostitsyn sends a lovely pass across the high crease. Fanned puck.

Canadiens are out of position often but hitting and determined. It’s almost enough. But it isn’t. Washington is slowly bleeding the momentum.

Varlamov makes a classic seventies toe-save on a busted pair break-in by Montreal.

Just three minutes left in the first period and we get a view of Jose Theodore, the former Hart trophy-winning Montreal Canadien (2001-02). Jose was the team’s most valuable player in that two-round run that ended against Paul Maurice’s Carolina Hurricanes in six games. Doug Gilmour, the former Leaf captain was wearing the “A” for alternate for Montreal at that time.

Backstrom follows up on a shot as Washington gets an extended stay in Montreal’s zone. Giroux’ careless cross-ice pass is intercepted and iced.

Washington is in again. Gorges’ body-check relieves the puck-carrier of the disc. And out we go.

With seventeen seconds left, Washington is in yet again. They are the more skilled team tonight. And noticeably so. Montreal matches and sets the intensity level.

Montreal leads on shot, 7-4 but time of possession is surely in favour of Washington but that stat is never flashed.

Period ends.

First Intermission
Washington 2, Montreal 0

Was in the Hockey Hall of Fame today and noticed that the Canadiens’ 100th anniversary display was down. Why would you dismantle it prior to the actual anniversary? Montreal celebrates their centennial on December 4th, 2009. That’s in one week. So the Hockey Hall of Fame won’t have anything to show for that day. What a blunder.

We see some dangerous-looking hits. Francois Gagnon’s filmwork inspires a debate in my own living room as my secretly iconoclast buddy from Wainwright (by way of Melville) submits me to his educational hockey jargon. I admit he has some points.

Ottawa is beating Boston. I look for Kovalev in the highlights but he is not to be seen. Steve Ayotte would say “I told you so. See? See?”

Ah, the vagaries of invisibility. Is he crafty and secretive like Gretzky? Or is he lazy and oafish like Chester McGlockton?

Second Period
Washington 2, Montreal 0

Semyon Varlamov is 12-1-1 in his first 14 games. Only the sixth goaltender in NHL history to win twelve of his first fourteen games. Great stat from RDS.

Puck bings to the front and Varlamov has to play dead in the crease. What a chance, says Houde.

Now Ovechkin gets in alone, starts click-clicking, stick and puck multi-deking. Seems to lose control but gets a back-hand in the crease and Price extends his pad to stop it. Made Price look better than he was on the play. But that’s fine. Isn’t it?

Pace has picked up. Montreal’s physical chase style, ending many with checks is working. They are winning more of the board and space battles.

They control and move it but can’t get into the Washington zone. Another similar effort from Chipchura results in his getting taken down by Beagle behind Price.

Montreal goes to their first power-play.

Replay of the Ovechkin entry is from behind Price and this replay makes the save seem more impressive. Ovie had better control, seemingly than first impression.

Canadiens can’t establish their square in the first sixty seconds.

Second wave with Bergeron at the point do get it in but keep it there for only three seconds.

With ten seconds Montreal gets one more chance. Pass skims from Hamrlik along the blue line and Spacek fires from a distance. Scores.

Washington 2, Montreal 1.

Canadiens are warmed and the ice melts. We see a two-Hab on one Cap bun-crush on the back-boards. The hitting increases.

We see Tretiak talking to his seatmate. He is wearing a black jacket and a violet-mauve dress shirt. He is looking about his age. He is in his mid-fifties. Tretiak was the dominant goaltender in Russian hockey through the seventies and eighties. He is perhaps Russia’s single greatest hockey legend. Valeri Kharlamov and Slava Fetisov are also in that group.

Price freezes the puck after a long skating period.

Nearly twelve minutes left in the second period. Lapierre leads a three-on-two, coasts to a less-high speed as he scrolls over the hash … passes through to the right corner of the crease and it is just too far.

Moen line is on. Metropolit and Pacioretty. They are matched against the Ovechkin line.

Quick look on the bench. Montreal looks business-like. Calm. Focused. Paul Mara and Josh Gorges were the faces seen most closely.

Crowd is ebullient and on low crest.

Bergeron keeps the action in the cauldron. Sergei Kostitsyn is on with Plekanec and the younger brother shows his distinctive stick-handling style.

Action goes the other way and we see Price sprawled and saviour. (It’s my site, it’s my sentence) Puck does not get in. Houde thinks it’s the post. Crowd chants Carey-Carey, they think he was the difference-maker. It was a goalmouth maw with arm and red legpad. Almost and never.

Shot came about from an Ovechkin one-on-one move that resulted in a solo shot with Capital follow-up. First shot butt-seated Price, second shot made him a flat-back V. And somehow a save. Replay doesn’t show it from this angle. Again, we need that helicopter coach’s view.

Shot of Hamrlik and the minutes are making him young. He is a vital part of the defence again. The most vital part. With number-one man Andrei Markov injured for at least another three months, Hamrlik has seen his minutes climb. He was ranked in the top ten in the NHL for minutes played per game. Though he has been in the league since 1992, he is logging a younger man’s minutes.

Plekanec makes an entry. Slows. Left. Tries to beat his man right. Retains the puck. Finally loses it. Houde and the crowd held our attention with their voices.

Another entry. Cammalleri. In front. Plekanec. Missed assignments by the Caps. Cammalleri stumbles backward. Another Cap misses. Plekanec backhands. Stopped. Takes it. Backhands again. In.

Plekanec scores.

Montreal 2, Washington 2

The goal-scoring skirmish was put in motion by Sergei Kostitsyn and we hear Roman Hamrlik’s name mentioned as getting an assist.

Over five minutes left in the second. Montreal is in again. My guest says it’s offside. I don’t see it.

Varlamov crouches like an auto mechanic as he readies for the faceoff to his right. He reminds me of a snow batman sans cape. That crouch, with his stick lifted slightly off the ice, both arms nervy and wavering, staunch and alert.  The glove, high and ready.

White and Pyatt hold it in and Mara helps by coming up to the hash and chipping it to the rear. Nine seconds of control. Puck leaves. Now it stops on the boards in the neutral zone.

The ice is white with the sklished snow. Rising flakes are white sparks.

Canadiens make it look like a better moment from 08-09. Varlamov is on his knees. Caps are hurly and burly. Varlamov on his side. On his scream. But Bergeron’s slot shot in a wretched crowd goes wide. Wrister, too. Tsk. Houde says it was a certain goal.

Hamrlik pass bounces off the back of an unseeing skate.

Mara takes it from behind the net.

Some forechecking from Washington fails and the Canadiens exit with a brief two-on-two. Pyatt can’t make anything worthwhile happen. This time.

Just under a minute in the second period.

Sergei Kostitsyn is making another name for himself. Eighteen seconds left.

Price to Hamrlik to this left. Over to Gorges.

Three on two but Moen loses it. Period ends.

Second Intermission
Montreal 2, Washington 2

Bouchard says something irritating for the first time in months. Maybe ever. He says if he wants the Stanley Cup, he’ll go with Crosby. If he wants to sell t-shirts and the like, he’ll go with Ovechkin. At the end of their respective careers, Ovie will have more hardware and more Stanley. Oh. And more chocolate bar deals. Stop smiling, Joel.

Joel Bouchard works with Jean-Sebastien Giguere on another Francophone-only segment where we get some cool hockey education.

Bouchard still has wheels and balance.

Highlights. Boston scores. And again. Krejci and Chara. A Czech cab-driver assured me last winter that David Krejci will be better than Jaromir Jagr when their careers are done. He was quite confident. He was about 49 years old.

Bouchard and Demers say that they need to keep playing the same way they played in the second period. Crete is very pleased to ask his boothmates which of three unlikely teams (including Atlanta and Tampa Bay) will make the playoffs and Bouchard goes with the Lightning.

Demers says that Price has played very well. My detail-oriented (and rebellious) guest says that Price is giving up long rebounds and that it will catch up to the team if it continues. He says that goalies give up these kinds of rebounds when they cheat and don’t square to the puck or if they are losing concentration.

My Maverick’s prediction: 4-3 Washington in a shootout. “I think you’re going to see a big hit by Washington that changes the complexities of this game. I think he means complexion. He assures me that he means complexities and that being from the West allows him this word-luxury.

Third Period
Montreal 2, Washington 2

Caps get an early shot. Wild and alive. Also high and off a defender’s foot.

We resume with 90 seconds elapsed. Was that the big hit, I wonder? No.

Slot pass misses all sticks and the Canadiens are retrieving the puck from the corner to the left of Price.

Beagle centres it after Washington re-establishes their superiority.

Now Giroux takes his second penalty. No bouquets.

Brooks Laich takes a penalty while Montreal controlled deep. Bergeron was behind Varlamov.

Five on three with one minute and fifteen seconds to use.

Puck is not moving fast enough. Two shots. Nothing serious. Now it’s pushed out. First penalty comes to an end in ten seconds as Montreal regroups.

Montreal gets some late pressure. Thirty seconds.

Shot. Slot. Shot again. Moen can’t get it. To the point. Bergeron. Wrister. In. Bergeron.

Maverick: “Goalie never saw it”

Montreal 3, Washington 2.

Hamrlik, looking like an old and slow and tall Lafleur, goes around two guys as he moves to the Washington blue line. Washington takes it back eventually and moves it down.

Metropolit makes his way, with the puck, through two defenders and gets a shot. Gets a shot. How. Rebound is out to Moen who shoots into the cookie dough that is Simeon Varlamov. Sculpted, athletic goalie that he is.

Puck goes into play and then out of play very quickly.

Price falls as he clears it. Gets back up.

I am told by Maverick, soon afterward, that Price is in the zone.  Cross-ice pass deflection and Price’s didn’t-have-to-think-about-it blocker save indicates his frame of mind.  He is in a syntactic, semantic, synaptic, fluid state.

Pacioretty takes a penalty. Ten and a half minutes left in the period.

White blocks a shot. Lies on it. Gets away with it. Should have been a delay of game. He’s on the Montreal bench and his glee is apparent. Got it. Got away with it. Hell of a blocked shot, though. Haven’t seen a forward block a shot more than four times this season. It’s a stat casualty form the change-over. Attitude casualty? That one is more complex to answer.

And I have one commercial to address it. The team is more consistent, works harder, but doesn’t yet go above and beyond. I’m going to say that once the trust is there for this team, we will see a more robust, risk-taking and mentally and emotionally resilient team than the last incarnation, miss it though I do.

We resume outside the Montreal zone to the right of Price (offside faceoff dot).

Washington comes up with it. Long pass is intercepted. Pyatt is in. To Kostitsyn. Cammalleri has it. He is knocked down. Crowd. Boos a bit. Houde acknowledges it.

Caps exit. Set up. Pass to the slot. Price is time-machine ready. Pads flat and spread in the butterfly.

Out and back in. And more of the same.

Pyatt works to keep it in to the left of Varlamov. Lapierre supports and his flounder and net, his stick and slow-down keep the puck in seaweed for an icy while. About nine seconds.

We’re back in Montreal territory as the ice gets sticky and the resolve wanes on both sides. Washington has skated miles for not much sugar. And the energy is dropping.

O’Byrne keeps it away using his reach and keeps it on his back-hand. This is new for me. I didn’t know he had that kind of control and grace, awkward as it looks. And it works.

Ovie is getting booed. I’m surprised. Every time he touches the puck, it happens. Any great enemy player gets that treatment. And any perceived “bad guys”. Knuckleheads in the potato section.

Just two and a half minutes left. The last time Washington played Montreal, the game went into overtime and then to the shootout. Same thing this time?

Faceoff. Ovechkin benefits. Carries up against a square of four Canadiens inside the blue line. Can’t complete his bold ambition.

Now Fleischmann is sent in by Clark. Blast from inside the blue line.

Ovechkin is getting booed again (don’t boo him, he’s the best this league has to offer). Long shift. Caps are stopped again. Can’t get set up.

Now with just under a minute Backstrom captures it deep to the left of Price. To the point. Shot. Stopped. To the point again. Shot. Wide. Behind. Carey gives it away. Along the boards. Montreal survives it. Price saved the almost instant shot result. Pad to the ice

Backstrom gets it.

Whistle. Net off. Penalty. Mara says “What?!”

It’s a high stick call against Mara.

Washington power-play.

Caps scores. Quickly off the faceoff.

Eleven seconds left. Plekanec got a draw on the faceoff. Went to the back. Shot. Rebound. Eric Fehr backhanded it in on the five-hole. As Price slid across, left to right.

Period ends with some forechecking from Montreal but nothing more.

Montreal leads on shots on goal 22-20.

Overtime

We see Ryan White and Sergei Kostitsyn. Head coach Jacques Martin is behind them. Three versions of concern.  (And all you young kids out there, you young hockey writers, never capitalize “head coach”.  [Cherry tone] And doing so is a bit of a misplacement, as well)

Plekanec is on with Cammalleri.

Shot by Cammalleri. From the circle. Plekanec gathers the rebound and goes around. Looks very promising. Big gap. But then he backhands the pass right onto a Capital blade.

Caps create their own chance. Price has to be very sharp. And he loses sight of it. But his pads make the save for him. Puck bounces left.

Ovechkin sails in and passes to the slot, leading, leading his teammate. No.

Whistle after a harmless shot by Pacioretty.

O’Byrne. In the corner. With an ape. Keeps it. Plays the ape himself. Rolls it to the other side. And it goes out. Many more O’Byrne encounters end well these days.

Cammalleri little-mans it to keep the puck alive deep. Plekanec arrives but the puck goes too far for him. Plekanec gives it away with a backhand pass again.

Pacioretty takes it in. Total dead move. Lost it.

He gets it in front on his backhand, loping out of the corner. He’s mildly tripped as he takes another threatless shot.

On the other end, Price is asked to make another high quality stop. He remains noticeably better than in October.

Shootout

Cammalleri is up first. Skates. A coast. Waits. One foot up. Shot.  That’s it?  That’s all?  (God nods yes.  No goal.)

Fleischmann. Price. Snake. It’s a pad save, readers.

Lapierre. Brakes on bicycle. Baseball shot. Post. Brunet said Varlamov was beaten.

Ovie. Not a great effort. Or something. It fails. Fakes the shot. Deke is slow.

Does that 45-angle start again (goes in from the far side at the blue line and angles in). Long forehand to long backhand deke. Two hands on the stick. Varlamov extends. Stops it.

Backstrom goes in. Shoots. High. Blocker side. Scores.

Washington 3
Montreal 2 (SO)


HDS Stars;
Nicklas Backstrom, Carey Price, Tomas Plekanec
RDS Stars: Alexander Ovechkin, Roman Hamrlik, Eric Fehr

maverick’s prediction comes true … he said at the beginning of the third that Montreal would lose to Washington in the shootout  … earlier today he was dead wrong when he said that Steve Smith’s own-goal came in the second period (it was the third) … 1985-86 playoffs Calgary Flames defeated Edmonton Oilers in seven games … google it …

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3 comments

1 Steve A { 11.29.09 at 3:05 AM }

they boo Ovechkin because of the dive on the “trip”. And Bouchard is correct. Crosby is more substance than style.

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2 Homme de Sept-Iles { 11.30.09 at 1:36 AM }

Isn’t goal-scoring substance? Thanks for the clear-up on the booing. I was distracted and missed that. Ovie.

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