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The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning

December 30, 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 (19-19-3) at Tampa Bay Lightning (15-15-9)

Monday, December 30, 2009
Game Forty-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.

We’re in the Frat House.

Carey Price and Mike Smith are the goalies and Smith is 6-4, 219 pounds. Just thought you might want to know. Tall fella.

First Period

Early shot of Lightning coach Rick Tocchet. He was an ornery, effective player in the mould of Claude Lemieux. Not as much of a scorer but a gamer.

D’Agostini is knocked down as he cuts to the high middle of the Tampa zone. Some booing ensues. From Canadiens fans. They’re everywhere, Jack. Or whatever your name might be.

Cammalleri loses the puck on one of Montreal’s short and rare entries early this period.

Price freezes the puck about eight turned-over seconds later.

D’Agostini has bushy eyebrows. Let’s see some talon.

Gorges and Markov are paired on the blue line and Plekanec’ line is back on again for the second time in the first three minutes.

Point-blank shot for Andrei Kostitsyn (Andrei from this point on. Andrei Markov will be Markov.)

The frequent and accurate passing by both teams has the game at a near-playoff pitch. Pouliot retrieves the puck from the left corner to Price’s left.

Sergei is on with Lapierre. Sergei enters down the middle, dishes to Lapierre on the left and he shoots. Chest-level but it’s dropped by Smith.

Action moves to the neutral zone.

Plekanec finds Cammalleri cutting into the Tampa zone. Cammalleri drives on his backhand and nearly shoots. But he is stopped.

Now a long, hard, sudden shot by Hamrlik from the point gives Smith trouble and Plekanec sticks the rebound. But not in. Smith manages to smother it and hold it for the first whistle of the game. Very fast pace.

Long shot goes into the crowd after a deflection. Gorges’ shot.

Pouliot again shows some good attention to the backcheck and defensive responsibilities.

Tampa gets an entry and Price makes his most difficult save of the night so far. A medium to low test. But he is looking as fluid as in his last start. I think we are done with worrying about Carey Price. It came sooner than I thought.

Ryan O’Byrne makes an extra effort to prevent a Tampa exit outside their blue line.

The team is pitching in and giving extra skate. What’s going on? I love the way we’re playing.

Plekanec centres it. Kostitsyn nearly gets a stick on it. It deflects off Smith and goes to Hamrlik who has come up to meet it. He fires. Stopped. Held. Great chances.

In the corner off the next faceoff. Gomez and Gionta cycle and then the pass goes to the point from Gomez and then across to Gorges for a one-timer from the blue line. Smith seals. But he looks shaken up.

Smith took a skate on the back of his head. His own player stumbled backward after the whistle. It’s alarming but the training staff confirm that Smith wasn’t cut and he rises chatting with a Lightning staff member, a referee looking on all the while. I don’t even want to mention what went through my mind (Ok, Zednik and Malarchuk – the two worst skate to flesh memories I have in my database. I hate thinking about them – both guys lived to play again).

Laraque and Pacioretty are off tonight. Mara is not playing on the blue line and Hamrlik is back. For real this time. I thought he was back last game but I was wrong. Not seeing him all night, Monday, confirmed it. Master of the obvious? Not me.

Bergeron skates out like an athletic C-3PO from behind the Montreal net, drop pass and then he skates ahead to join the play.

Speed is decreasing. Lightning are outmatched and it’s starting to show.

Andrei. Across the width. Back. From Hamrlik. Again. To Plekanec. And then one long pass too many.

Montreal is back in quickly, regardless.

The lighting in this arena seems off. Must be the camera.

Metropolit line continues the pick-pulse rhythm. Whistle soon after as D’Agostini enters offside.

Seven and a half minutes left in the first.

Pouliot chases. He gives an aggressive one-hand whack with a stick. Soon the puck is on the point and a long shot gives Smith more trouble. Markov nearly sails in to put in the rebound. But no.

This is the kind of rhythm that can get shivered with one bad goal the other way. Montreal is rippling; the ship is in full froth and prow. But one mistake, lubber, just one mistake … and Lightning shreds canvas. Sorry. I had a pirate in mind. I’ll send him off now.

Faceoff. And another faceoff within seconds.

Tampa enters offside after some careless stick-swinging at the puck by Montreal. The first peak has been reached. Montreal didn’t get the goal to keep their spirits soaring. Now the fear begins.

Just under six minutes.

Lapierre fires from a distance. He is not interested in lapses. Good. And neither is O’Byrne. What’s going on with our young guys? Who gave the big speech? I’m so proud of our guys this period.

Downey. Behind our net. Centres. Oh. No. Shot right on. From the slot.

Carey Price stops it. Long pause between shots for him and he is ready. Him, too. What is up.

Tanguay is on with Lecavalier.

Our team is fierce tonight. A glimpse of Carey’s eyes shows it. Gomez’ stance in the faceoff circle shows it. And Pouliot’s fire shows it.

Gomez blocks a shot and hobbles one-legged to the bench. No. Not now.

Pouliot enters. Plekanec follows. Drop-pass. Shot. Wide. Plekanec.

Foster behind his net. Sends it along the boards. Intercepted by Montreal. Shot is almost flubbed by Smith. But he helps move it out. And Price makes a save on the other end.

We see the Gomez injury. He’s on the bench getting looked at. Can’t we design better skates for shot-blocking? Or softer pucks? Oy-yoy-yoy.

Bergeron is as deep as Orr. Loses it. London and Stamkos combine to move it out. But they lose it to Bergeron on entry.

Houde says hello to “all our English viewers watching on NHL Centre Ice”. He says it in English. Pierre Houde is the best.

Moen works under the end-line. Now in the slot. Metropolit supports and then sends the puck to the slot where Moen fires a hurly and jostle shot. Extinguished. Faceoff.

Lightning take a penalty.

Steve Downie. Hooking. Tocchet has a thoughtful Strand-like expression on his face. The Edmonton Strand, he of Strand’s Theorem. You will meet him one day.

Initial power-play possession is repelled. Markov has it now. Shoots it high but Andrei can’t deflect it.

Houde remarks on the conviction of the team.

Gomez. Point. Hamrlik. Spacek. Deep. Back to Hamrlik. Gomez. To Spacek. Fans. Whistle.

Metropolit gets called for goaltender interference. Legit. The refs are having their best season. Ever. I’m not kidding. Another legit call.

Or maybe we’ve gotten lucky with crews this season.

Four-on-four.

Cammalleri loses the puck deep. One minute and a half of power for Lightning.

Price gets over for a small miracle of a save. And the rebound was very dangerous. Went high. Brunet said Price was beaten. Period ends on this play.

Shots are 14 to eight in favour of Montreal.

First Intermission
Montreal 0, Tampa Bay 0

Had to get some chocolate. They interview Tomas Plekanec and discuss the Canadian Olympic team selections.

I really, really don’t know. I don’t know if I ever did.

Second Period
Tampa Bay 0, Montreal 0

Metropolit and Gomez enter. Metropolit drops it for Gomez. Gomez moves in. Shot. Big rebound.

Montreal is carrying the play. AK46 is on.

Konopka. Takes it in. Doesn’t last.

Next sequence sees a failed wrap-around.

Scrum after the whistle. Price whaps a glove in there. I like it.

It isn’t much more than some fly-swatting and harsh language.

Faceoff is to the left of Carey Price.

The organist makes me feel old school. The rink reminds me of Northlands. And the style of play feels quite Oiler. I kinda love hockey.

Maybe it’s just the chocolate.

D’Agostini shoots from the circle. Houde says that this is what D’Agostini has to do; battler for the puck. He basically created his own shot from a pass that didn’t quite find its way to his stick. Pass from Metropolit.

Sergei from behind the net (goals, goals, goals) to Maxim. Fires. Nope. Held.

Great glove save.

Brunet says that Mike Smith is on fire right now but I dunno. More like a lucky fireplace, I’d say.

Just over fifteen minutes left in the second period. Plekanec and Cammalleri are on.

I watch Tampa Bay create something laboured that results in a slow poke and a lethargic icing against Montreal.

Another slot chance for Montreal. Smith looked good on that one. Why does Mike Smith sound like a barber-shop name? I don’t want to lose to a barber.

Commercial.

Montreal is producing seven quality actions to two quality actions for Tampa. Yet no goals. Man. It’s just not enough to be good. Scoring. Scoring, my boxes. Scoring.

O’Byrne wiped out a guy. Two or three good Montreal passes but the puck was lost on the boards in Tampa territory.

Cammalleri line is on again and it seems that only Plekanec is doing anything for them tonight.

Cammalleri is wiped out by Lecavalier. Cammalleri to Kostitsyn. He loses the puck but chases well. Now he controls and tries to backhand the puck into the swirling high slot. Floats through. Nobody on the point, either.

Hamrlik works the Montreal corner now. Twice. Gets it out the second time.

Gionta accelerates. Shot. Puck in the corner. Moves out. To the slot. Shot. Rebound. Gionta.

Il marque. Bang. Brunet asks: Was it a lucky goal?

Yes, he answers himself. But you have to work to get luck. I’m directly translating.

My left forefinger got injured from clapping too loudly.

Montreal 1, Tampa Bay 0

Brunet adds that Montreal has been dominating.

I wrote a Gionta poem a week ago and now it’s going to seem that it was in response to his last two games. Hum. Hum, hum, hum. Oh well. It’s not.

Just over nine minutes to go in the second period.

Gorges; alert. Metropolit; intrepid. Lapierre; intense. First to the puck. Centres it to Bergeron; sailing in.

Bergeron is deep again.

I like it.

Puck is lost on the corner of blue. But Gorges gets back like a greased Gepetto. Impressionant.

Lapierre sends it down for a line change.

Cammalleri is playing gassed or uninspired. Or something. He cruises to the slot. The puck moves around to find him. Long shot goes out of play.

Of the three new guys, only Gionta is soldered and smouldering every night. Gomez sometimes loses his nerve and Cammalleri is on about 97% of the time; which is great. But Gionta is 100. Markov may not want it. Plekanec is also a 100 guy. And he’s been here long enough. The big “C”.

It’s the closing passes that are turnovers for Montreal. One second of hesitation. That’s all we need.

Yeah, it’s a “we” night again.

The passes are just a touch slow. Pffft. I can’t make up my mind. Here’s what I mean; when we’re set up, the passes should be faster. On the transition plays, we could use that slight hesitation. This time, two passes are intercepted on a delayed call against Tampa Bay. D’Agostini ends the intrigue with a well-thought out shot into a small crowd in front of Mike Smith. Whistle.

Power-play when we return from some food adverts.

Montreal wins the faceoff. Shot from Bergeron has marbles. Sharp marbles. But it deflects wide. Plekanec sends a blind pass to the high slot and after some stick and board, the puck leaves the Tampa zone.

Montreal re-enters with about a minute to go in the penalty.

Tampa leaves again. (I feel like a courtroom stenographer.

Thirty seconds.

Gomez behind the net. Small pass to Gionta on the hash.

And now several players are offended simultaneously. It’s all over a goalie.

Brunet says that Stamkos is disappointing him a bit tonight.

Thugs and goons. The best Ontario has to offer.

I am sooooo proud to be Canadian.

This is why some say Quebecker first, Canadian second. Pure shame.

The net result is a five-on-four situation for twelve more seconds.

Cammalleri has it down low but can’t get it across and then plain loses it.

Foster almost got in alone. Too far. And then Hamrlik gives it away. Price bails him out. Or rather, the shot seemed to go wide.

Tampa Bay power-play.

Stamkos misses a sure goal. Price fell like a Pillsbury man.

Now Plekanec shows that great speed of his. Nearly creates a lonely chance for himself. Lobs it up for Moen.

Seconds later it’s Pouliot moving but he is just barely offside.

Faceoff to Price’s left.

Forty seconds. Tampa works the boards. Konopka to some dude. Misses. Now Tanguay to Konopka in the crease. Yikes. The guy was Ohlund and he should have scored. Tampa Bay could easily have three goals by now. Yet Montreal has controlled the puck far longer and had fewer turnovers. You figure it out.

Fifteen seconds.

Tampa has it in the corner and now behind the net. Blair Jones. To Stephane Veilleux. Shot. Price stops it.

Get ready for a spring of denial from your Anglophone buddies. And dismissal.

Tampa pulls Smith. One point eight seconds. So, the theory is that there is not enough time for the puck to get into your net but the 1.8 is enough to warrant the extra skater to create a scoring chance.

Faceoff sees the puck drift nebulously. Horn goes.

Montreal leads on shots 28-19.

Second Intermission
Montreal 1, Tampa Bay 0

They’re going to talk about the Canadian team and the first issue they discuss is the absence of Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. Demers says he respects the time and effort that has gone into the selection. He finishes by saying that Lecavalier and St. Louis should have been named.

French media members, particularly the main RDS guys are reluctant to take strong stands on issues like this. They can only lose. It is an easily discredited position regardless of whether it is true or not.

Brunet is not in agreement with leaving Lecavalier and St. Louis off.

And neither am I.

Brunet is actually a bit fired up and upset about it. He says that Lecavalier has far more heart and desire than someone like Joe Thornton and that Yzerman was forced, perhaps, to take the league’s number one scorer.

Joel Bouchard echoes the general RDS sentiment that we have to move past the choices and support the team.

Now where have I heard that before?

The days of bias are not done. And nowadays anyone who disagrees will be discredited, to boot. Dismissed. Smug chuckles.

Well, we shall see. I have some charts coming.

I wish I knew less about hockey than I did six innocent years ago. I genuinely thought as many still do that Canada was decades past the discrimination against the French and the foreign athlete. But it’s still there. One example that comes to mind is the number of Francophone captains for Team Canada since 1980. What do you think that number ought to be? Thirty years of Canadian teams and two French captains? Are you serious? I was stunned when I read that. It led me to examine it further. And I did not enjoy what I have found since.

Yes, it’s better than the fifties. Or is it?

Because, in the final sense, is an underground bias better than an overt one? If the results are the same, I wonder. It’s not for me to answer. But it is definitely within my purview to ask.

It’s insidious when it becomes worse to cry wolf than to, in fact, be the wolf.

It’s happened with racism and it has happened with rape. Let’s look in the right end of the telescope. Facts to come. (It takes a long time to pull these Excel sheets together.)

One of the younger RDS guys interviews Brian Gionta prior to the period. I forget his name and he struggles with some strange facial expressions in order to keep the interview pleasant. Gionta says it isn’t time to play defensively and his answers are more frank than I’d expect.

Fumes and xenophobes everywhere.

Third Period
Montreal 1, Tampa Bay 0

Plekanec line is on.

Montreal’s breakout game is declining and the neutral zone passing is off.

Brunet says he likes how Gionta, a smaller player, goes after the bigger players. We see Gionta hit Tampa defenceman Victor Hedman who is six-six 230 pounds. Gionta weighs in at five-seven and 173 pounds.

Gill. Long shot. Wide. Sergei and Maxim keep it in. I’m drifting into first names.

Well, just with Lapierre, really. Sergei has to be said and so does Andrei.

Gorges turns it over and Price bails him out.

Montreal rush results in a near-goal at the side of the net.

St. Louis enters for Tampa, shovels it left. Puck finds its way back to the point. Kurtis Foster fires. Scores. Tocchet looks penitent.

Tampa Bay 1, Montreal 1

Just under sixteen minutes let in the game.

Spacek looks tired. Plekanec took a break on the last shift (I guess he ain’t a hundred guy, eh).

Tampa will have some life for a few shifts. Hopefully not more than three.

O’Byrne works behind the net to relieve the Lightning of the puck. Finally Montreal exits.

The urgency has returned but the legs aren’t the same for either team.

Lecavalier moves left and shoots. Wide. He has done nothing tonight but suddenly is a presence. He moves down the right side, spins and sends a beautifully lonely pass to the slot. Missed. Tanguay had to turn.

St. Louis tries a wrap-around. Stopped.

Then a pass from behind the net goes to the slot. Price again.

Great saves when the team is falling apart around him. Or more accurately, while Tampa Bay’s hope and speed increase.

Kostitsyn creates a two-on-one and gets tripped for it. It’s called.

Montreal power-play. Lucky break for Montreal. Kind of.

Bergeron and Kostitsyn are on. Andrei.

First minute is waiting for your dad by the tool shed. Big waste of time. Houde says that the Montreal confidence is gone. Just gone. So quickly. Second minute features the same defensive pairing and the Cammalleri line.

Montreal can’t even get control in the zone.

And the penalty ends.

Well, Price is still confident.

Nine and a half minutes.

Moen is a grim barrel. It’s time to win a game.

Eight and a half.

D’Agostini is easily dissuaded. Defenders know it, too and they always knock him around. It takes him out of the game.

Lapierre is on. He’s much harder to unseat. I’ve never seen him lose his composure, really. Begin type.

Even when he’s annoyed, he is in control.

Six minutes and Montreal is watching and waiting. They are playing nervously.

And Koivu can’t save our sunsets anymore.

It’s a perimeter game now. Boards and boredom. Both teams comply. A low-risk compromise. Nobody’s going to take the risk to get the two points in regulation. Waiting never works.

Tampa has the puck far more than Montreal in these final minutes. And now they have a longer possession as Pouliot loses a stick.

Price has to make a tough save.

Downie trips Plekanec as the Lightning exit. Houde half-chuckles as he asserts that at this point the refs have decided to ignore infractions.

NHL reffing is a joke. Good thing they’re not involved in our education system. Two plus two is four. Except during the last hour of school. Then it’s five.

Just over three minutes.

Another tripping penalty ignored. This time it’s Hamrlik who’s taken down. It results in a turnover and a shot on Price. So if they had scored, would that be good for the NHL? For their fans? For the fans they’re trying to win back or win over?

Two plus two is five. They’ll love it.

Just over two minutes left in the period.

Gomez line is on.

Pouliot nearly gives Montreal the game-ending scoring chance.

Lecavalier takes it the other way. Slows. Waits. Too long. When he finally shoots the puck goes up into the stands.

Lecavalier and Tanguay stay on for the faceoff.

Andrei flies out with a pass from Cammalleri. Moves down the right. Drives in on his backhand. Stopped and held for a faceoff.

It’s going end to end. Malone shoots and Price stops it. It bounds high and away but not out.

Twenty-five seconds. Shot from the point. Misses. Price gloves it.

Period expires.

Houde says that the last period was disappointing for the Canadiens but both Brunet and Houde express solace in the single point.

Shots were in favour of Tampa 13-4 for a total of 32-32 as we enter five minutes of four-on-four.

Overtime

Gomez and Gionta are the first pairing.

Gorges and Markov are the defenders and the four create an early chance. Just misses.

Second opportunity. Gomez sends it to the point but it goes just outside the zone.

Cammalleri and Plekanec.

Hedman moves it down. Hamrlik takes it away. Spacek has it. Turnover. He’s had a rough night.

Three and a half minutes.

Line change.

Metropolit and Bergeron (as a winger).

Tampa gets control. Shot. Price saves it. Holds it. Butterfly. He was down very early twice. But it worked.

Gionta is tumbling black triangles. Right side. Speed and a shot.

Lightning rush. Price stops it.

Gomez takes it out. No shot.

Tanguay’s turn. Speed but no quality shot.

Montreal rush. Tampa rush. Jones. Shot.

Jones is a melonhead. Get out of the crease. He kicked Price on the way down, too.

Lightning call a timeout.

Martin has a strange expression. Unexpected. He’s happier than he should be.

Well, that’s what the team needs, anyway. They feel bad enough for blowing their tiny lead after all that work, I’m sure.

Faceoff is won by Plekanec. Cammalleri takes down Stamkos. No penalty. Two-on-one. Plekanec. With Cammalleri. Plekanec keeps it. Shoots. Scores.

Just desserts. If Tampa is going to do it, then so can we. What a stupid league.

I’m pleased as peanut butter, nonetheless.

Montreal 2
Tampa 1 (OT)

HDS Stars: Carey Price, Mike Smith, Ryan O’Byrne
RDS Stars: Mike Smith, Carey Price, Brian Gionta

I had Gionta as my third originally. But O’Byrne played one of his best games ever.

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