The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers

March 18, 2011, 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 (39-25-7) visit New York Rangers (37-30-4)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Game Seventy-Two (score posted following scribbles)

Missed it? Musings capture the game in writing. A written transcript typed during the game, posted and edited about thirty minutes afterward.  Based on the RDS French telecast of the Montreal Canadiens game, Musings take about 20 minutes to read. More detailed than an article, fresher than a looping highlight and good with morning coffee. Or late-night chocolate.  A unique way to re-experience the game.

click here to expand post (it looks prettier)


Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist are the goalies.

First Period

Moen and Prust nod and agree to a fight.  It lasts longer than normal with Moen slipping three times and being allowed to clamber back up and continue the useless display.  Nobody appears seriously hurt.  At least in the short term.

The period starts slowly for both teams.  No quality scoring chances.  Both Plekanec and Halpern remain out of the lineup.

The Rangers are wearing their deep blue jerseys.

Finally Artem Anisimov breaks free off a turnover is free and past the blue.  Stickhandles, veers right and goes from forehand to backhand and the puck wobbles and falls over Price’s glove.  And into the net.

New York 1, Montreal 0

Price is wearing a mask I haven’t noticed before.

Another entry sees a shot go just wide to Price’s left.


Gionta and Moen enter but the latter is offside despite an exaggerated curler’s slide, hoping his right leg extended might paint the blue line.  He’s too far.  And the gesture doesn’t fool the whistling linesman.

As opposed to lineman.  This is an old stat but about two decades ago the average age of death of a football player (including linemen, perhaps especially linemen) was 61.  At the time the average age of death for a male North American was 76.  Continuous contact adds up.

Commercial break ends.

Anisimov faces off against Gomez and loses the draw to the one-time Ranger.

Action stays on the perimeters.  But Desharnais is dangerous from any part of the rink.  Beats his man to the puck, then accelerates and finds a lane between two more Rangers from under the end line and hits Subban at the blue with a precise pass.  Subban blasts it.  In.

Fair amount of Canadiens fans.

Replay shows the wreckage of Ranger players as Subban raised his stick, paused and finally, a fallen Ranger and four others, immobile blue statues waiting, the puck was launched.

Montreal 1, New York 1

Subban interprets Ranger forward Brandon Prust’s post-whistle knockdown of Price as an opportunity to neck-tackle the bully to the ice.  Both go the box without fight and with little shame.  Subban is learning early that his door is the one that swings open.  And shut.  It’s a defenceman’s duty.  One of many.  Price is ok.

Four on four.

Houde says there is a lot of emotion on the Rangers’ side tonight.  The want revenge for their poor record against Montreal this season.

Hamrlik is cross-checked by both Staal and another after the whistle.  It’s in response to a Hamrlik post-whistle cross-check of his own.  Hamrlik goes to the box and Staal and the other Rangers stay out.

The NHL is much like the WHA.  But worse.  At least the WHA had some integrity, colour and flash.  Ice justice is not a watchword in this barn down league.

Four on three.  Rangers’ advantage.

Rangers continue their attempts at on-ice unity.  The man-advantage helps maintain the illusion for a time.  But a blocked Gaborik shot, by Mara, leads to a clear and when the Rangers re-enter they have but ten seconds left.  McCabe is on the blue and the Rangers keep deferring to him, sending the puck to the blue.

It’s like entrusting Ryan Leaf with the ball.

No goals, of course.

The power-play continues but at five-on-four now.

The Rangers, like certain other Eastern teams, will decide that brawn will beat Montreal.  We’ll see those teams assault Montreal with vigour during the closing weeks of this season.  But what will happen is the Canadiens, already a tight crew with a trust level they haven’t had since the late eighties, will be even more galvanized.

Rangers score.

New York 2, Montreal 1

Nine minutes.

Gomez, Gionta, Pouliot.  Hamrlik and Wisniewski underneath.

Intimidation works in the short run.  Against less unified teams, perhaps longer.  But against a team unified, all it does is show the team new staircases.

Jordan and the Bulls against the Knicks comes to mind.  And against the Pistons.  Integrity wins.


It sometimes takes a few tries.  One, two, maybe three seasons.  Integrity and talent, say.  Team unity is a consequence of integrity.  Ray-tay-tay.  And so forth.

Tortorella is shown again.  He should be a highly paid and regarded assistant athletic director and head coach of a renowned University program.  His honesty is too much for the pro game.  He needs to be where the coach is bigger than the players, where the coach is the program.

Poooooor John Tortorella.  Stuck in NYC in the second-worst culture NHL hockey hast to offer.

Speaking of the first-worst, the Leaves are on the block.  Rogers has passed.  What knucklehead is going to clown-flounce in with daddy’s six car-keys, mansion and Blackberry floozies?  Will he be Canadian?

Ah, corruption is tiresome but it makes for a good page-turner.  For those who love lipstick and limousines.

Under five.

Pyatt takes a puck behind his net.  Skates and then leaves it for Subban, also behind the net.

Subban is taking the entry routes more frequently as the playoffs approach.  It’s good to see.  And it’s part of his steep growth-curve.  No defenceman, of the young crew, learns so much, so quickly.  He’ll one day be the dominant defenceman in the league.

Some will have trouble admitting it.

Some had trouble admitting Ali was the greatest.  Dundee was right; “He has to lick Foreman to make the press admit this.”


Of the young defencemen, nobody has the combination of size and skills that Subban has.  The passing, the skating, the strength, the shot and the acceleration.  And his decision-making is improving noticeably.  Defenceman is possibly the position requiring the longest tenure in the NHL.  Some in hockey will tell you that a defenceman’s peak age is around 33.  Goalies are 28, 29.  This, assuming the player in question enters the league at the age of eighteen.

Crowd around Price.

Puck nearly crosses.  Replay shows the entire puck did cross.  That is the criteria.

They await a judgement from the crony nexus in Toronto.

Tortorella has a leg up and pursed lips.  Martin has nobody to talk to.  Talks to himself.  Hands in pocket.  He’s a very business-like coach.  Emotes very little.

But we know he craves winning as much as any.

Brunet and Houde think it’s past the line.  Refs didn’t signal a goal.  For the decision to be reversed, the evidence must be irrefutable.

Puck does cross the line.

Lynch mob pour-over screaming.  It’s a Ranger rink, alright.

New York 3, Montreal 1

Some Ranger is emphatic with a teammate on the bench, “I watched it blah-blah-blah”.  Good for you.

Two and a half.

And another goal.


New York 4, Montreal 1

Three on one, moments later.  Staal?

New York 5, Montreal 1

Auld takes the ice.

Five-hole.  Brian Boyle.  Does a disrespectful dance.  Needs to retire.  And be tweet-torched.  His appalling disrespect continues on the bench.  Can’t he stop smiling?  He needs to get out of the league.  If he keeps smiling like that, someone is going to take him out.  I’m not saying someone should but it’s going to happen.  And this isn’t the first time.  Boyle has celebrated goals before.  There’s no respect in the league anymore.  Those kids from the USA, they just don’t understand the game.  This isn’t basketball.  This isn’t gymnastics.  This isn’t a dance hall.

Lots of players have personally complained to me about Brian Boyle’s antics.  And it’s not just him.  All the Rangers.  They have a culture of celebration that is systemic.  That Sather, he never played the game.  Oh, wait.

Ranger penalty.

Staal fell to the ice but went to the box.  Gomez got away with it.

More NHL justice.

Stepan.  Houde chuckles.

Or perhaps a teammate’s stick took out Staal?

Brunet continues the chuckling.

Ranger defenceman Dan Girardi’s stick hit Gomez, says Brunet.

Period ends.  Officials separate a small gathering.  No animosity.

Rangers led on shots 13-9.

Well, Michael Ryder isn’t here to bail us out.

First Intermission
Rangers 5, Canadiens 1

Daddy says don’t smile.  Daddy says don’t be like those neighbours over there.  Daddy says, daddy says, daddy says.

The knuckleheads are everywhere, apparently.

This ain’t going to be your daddy’s NHL.

Roar, Ovie, roar.

Sing, PK, sing.

Dance, Paul Stastny.  Dance.

Let’s have some fun.  The others can go home.  Back to England, if necessary.

And don’t forget Tiger.



Yes, the second “h” is purposely missing.  Wahoo is for gimps.  And narks.

Second Period
New York Corruption 5, Montreal Integrity 1

Price has his toque on.  The big white one.  Martin looks concerned.  Houde recalls the Ryder game.  He says the context is different, though.  Injuries.  And the team is in New York, this time.

And Yvon Pednault isn’t here, either.  But Houde leaves that out.

Habs came back from 5-0 down in the second period to the Rangers to win in overtime 6-5.  In the shootout.  On the strength of Saku’s goal.  Plus two in regular time by Michael Ryder.  The first two.  The hope-building two.  He really got a third but it touched another Montreal stick before going in.  Say what you want about Michael Ryder, despite some manque in his game, he was a robust optimist.  And that counts for something.

Montreal power-play fizzles with little to show.

Benoit says fameux for what seems like the ninth time tonight.  It’s a fallback adjective for him.  A catch-all.

Subban plays a puck, pauses to bump Prospal, standing and resumes stickhandling.  Mid-ice.  Lots of little flashes of new stuff.  It’s all there.  He just needed to get confident again to begin showing the range.

Weber and Picard are on underneath now.

Canadiens are better organized.  But suddenly Auld is required.  Save off Stepan off a crease puck.  Sudden.  A turnover.

I wonder what hockey would look like on a soccer pitch.  Football pitch, then.  Whatever.



Lundqvist is appropriately relaxed.  He was in net in the 6-5 loss.

Keep chillin’ devlin.

Wisniewski scores.  Houde exclaims.  I do my little ritual.  The one with the pen-light.

New York 5, Montreal 2

Heah we go.

Are you raceless?  Congratulations.

Long Wisniewski puck from under his red line is stopped by the devlin.

Wisniewski returns to the bench.

Fameux: 10

Faceoff is won by Montreal.  To the point.  Picard.  Shot.  Back to Picard.  Wrister.  Stays in the zone.  Three forwards at the hash-line.  Imagine it extending.  Does hockey need more horizontal lines?

Picard leaves the ice.  Stoppage.

Subban and Mara underneath.

Fameux: 11

Fifteen.  Minutes.

Staal misses a puck in the corner and has to turn to retrieve.  Luckily for him, no Habs are close enough to make him pay.  I knew it was him as soon as he missed the puck.  Hilarious.

All of it is hilarious.  Me. I’m hilarious.  The play.  It’s hilarious.  The player.  Staal is hilarious.

Auld gloves one low.  That mock Dryden mask.  Cartoonish.


Ryan McDonagh, the failed Montreal draft pick is shown.  He’s a Ranger now.  Sather sees something in everyone.  Maybe everyone is a bit generous.  But the “something” isn’t.

Flyers north?

What a sad pair of legacies.

Still 5-2.  Yes, I know you know.  But today, the scoreboard is much more interesting than usual.

But the play remains unaltered; Montreal searches for the openings and the Rangers try, somewhat, to appear interested and active.

The Ranger fan is an exquisite tormented emotional genius of a kind.  They’ve won one Stanley Cup over the past seventy-one seasons.  And for twenty-seven of those seasons, the league had six teams.


Gionta’s turnover is shown.  Prust’s resulting shot over the net is also shown.

Ten and a half.

Rangers lead 9-4 on scoring chances according to RDS.

This is the measure.  Quality scoring chances.  Not shots on goal.

A soccer fan might understand.  Football people would look at number of times arrived in the red zone.

Red zone stats are available for fans.  Quality scoring chances?  Unavailable.  Or, worse, guessed-at by amateurs.

Hockey.  Love it.


Debt card is shown.  Master card.  The card is you.  You’re the card.  The card.  The card.  A form of marionette.

Get it?  You’re not the master.  Don’t you hate it when people say “IE”?

Another Ranger penalty.

Montreal power.

Gomez, Cammalleri and Gionta.  The cowboy line.

All three are under the end line.  But the puck escapes and Wisniewski has to suffer a check deep in the corner to send a saving pass along the Montreal boards.

Gomez digs in and they watch the puck disappear again.  Brian Boyle has it.  Left side.  Boyle fires.  Misses the net.  And the puck rides the boards and the shot-decision facilitates an earlier exit for the Canadiens.

Cammalleri.  Under the end line.  Emerges.  Looks for Kostitsyn in the crease.  Puck is blocked.  Stays in the zone.  Along the boards.  Now on the blue.  Cammalleri and Hamrlik exchange the disc but turn it over at the Ranger blue.  Dangerous spot for a turnover; in the middle of the ice.  Houde remarks that Cammalleri stayed on for the whole shift and was out of breath.

Eller takes a penalty.  Replay shows it wasn’t worth calling.  Martin is flushed quite red.  Looks down.  Eller is one of his new favourites.

Eller is in the box.  Neither Houde nor Brunet defend him.  Stick was between the Ranger’s legs.   Outcome is what is penalized on infractions like tripping and hooking in the NHL.  And high-sticking.

As for murder attempts?  Ah.  I was wondering if you were wondering.  Murder attempts are called “hockey plays”.  Responses to subsequent community indignation?  Denialism.  Triumphalism.  Ad Hominem arguments.  And key media member enlistment.

It’s a plagiarized playbook, besides.

Rangers power-play.

Under six.

They have no appetite for possession, for a good power-play.  For hockey, even.  As a group, the Rangers are a collection of individuals.  They’re paycheque guys.  The few exceptions quickly learn to pick their spots and find a way out of town if they can’t succumb to the fetid hockey atmosphere of Madison Square Garden.

Be happy for those few.  And pray for John Tortorella.

Rangers fully waste the power-play, shotless and passless in the Montreal zone.

The Canadiens are tired from last night but doing much of what is needed to preserve their pride.  In Montreal, the Bell(e) culture demands every-shift care, precision and passion.  Subban is into the net.  Sauer wants to fight Subban.  Subban is game.  The officials never let Subban end up in fights.  I don’t think it’s an accident.

They’re separated and both are asked to take a seat in the penalty box.

There was a day when both players would sit in the same box.  It’s hard to believe.

But it’s true.  As recently as 1960.

What do dancing women have to do with winning a championship?  I’ll tell you.  Nothing.  How about making it dancing men, then?  The Eximos have em.

It’s more fun to say Eximos.

Replay shows that Subban hit Lundqvist in punishable fashion.

He effects a near-innocent expression with his mouth-guard hanging out.

In a culture where Subban’s mistakes will be magnified by the usual public xenophobes, I find it unnecessary to be scathing in his review.  Subban is as black as Kevin Weekes.  As black as Michael Grier.  As Magic Johnson.  As Pinball Clemons.  Black.  What a misnomer.

Rangers power-play.

This one is better organized.  They manage one shot.  McCabe is the man on the blue.  He’s so slow.  He has what most overrated Canadian defenceman have.  A very good slapshot.

Picard is on his knees in pain.  Head down.  Callahan, says Brunet.  He believes.

Tortorella is exasperated yet in control again.  He keeps his sense of humour.  A wise man.

Ryan Callahan of Rochester, New York maintains an unapologetic gaze from the penalty box.  Picard?  Milk and cookies guy.  Clean, hard-working and so forth.  The Russ Jackson that so many failed, over-hyped Ontario hockey could never be.

Picard is from Quebec.  And, yes, there are knuckleheads in Quebec.  Karl Peladeau comes to mind.

Am I repeating myself?

If the Don can, so will I.

Period ends.

Second Intermission
Rangers 5, Canadiens 2

This is sloppy hockey and the panel demos it on video.

Third Period
Rangers 5, Canadiens 2

Brunet tells us that after a period where six goals were scored, the next period yielded just one.  And I’m here to tell you that after a day where the sun was in the sky, we now have a sky where the sun is absent.

What next for the intrepid Benoit Brunet?  What new discoveries?  What intriguing insights?  Hey, he played the game.

Let me help.

The ice is white.

Gomez is carrying a stick.

Auld is a goalie.

Wisniewski has a long name.

The Rangers play in Madison Square Garden.

Where’s my paycheque? Where’s my paycheque?  Where’s my paycheque?

Montreal scores.


Fair amount of cheering.  Right point.  Time.  Teed it up.  Through the legs.  Gionta deflected it in.  So it’s Gionta’s goal.  Like that?  Like it?  Huh?  Huh?

Gionta wears #21.

New York 5, Montreal 3

Kostitsyn falls as he is sticked.

Eller turns and carries it across.


Looks like bodychecking is legal in this game.

Ref raises his arm.  He has another arm.  It ends in a hand.  With a whistle in it.  Lars Eller shakes his head.  Brunet … doubts this call.

Roughing is the call.

Brunet appears to be, uh, undecided.

Here’s an idea.  Have a point.  (Planes, Trains and Automobiles)

Fire Brunet.

Rangers wheedling, boyish pretending begins.  Their, ah, power-play.

McCabe loses a puck.  And of course, because he lacks the skill to prevent the resulting breakaway, he incurs a penalty on the advanced Gomez.

Oh the day will come when championship hockey is played minus these third-string division III tight ends.

What a joke.  Can you imagine that once upon a time there were no black baseball players?  The Negro Leagues.  The Negro Leagues.  That’s what they were officially called.  It wasn’t too long ago.

Four on four.

When you have a Negro League, you will have players in the dominant league who don’t deserve their jobs.  A Negro League doesn’t have to exist for unearned privilege to grant jobs to lesser players (there are other ways).  Some don’t last.  Some improve and stay.

This is why the rule changes coming out of the lockout, emphasizing more speed and more skill, were so important and why continued progress along those lines remains important.  The situation is complicated by the spectre of a growing KHL, the second-best pro league in the world, which threatens to keep its home-grown players, those Russians, Swedes, Finns and so on who have provided this league much of its high-skilled entertainment value.  Not to mention quality play.

Or are those the same thing?


If you think every NHL organization runs a sanitized, scientific player-evaluation system where the best players are consistently taken in the right order regardless of background, league or other non-essential variables, you need to re-examine draft percentages from team to team and winning percentages from team to team (I suggest ten-year scans).  There are plenty of stand-pat, let’s make some dough organizations in the NHL.  And plenty of flawed systems.  And, need I say, enough remaining bias from the old days.

Guess who the Negros in this league are.

I hate that term.  Negros.  Just making a point.


Seeing other Bulldogs on the team must be confidence-building for players like Eller.  Tonight, as last night, there are many Bulldogs on the ice.

As I type this, Houde suddenly talks about the Bulldog jerseys in the crowd tonight.  Yes, there are some.

The Richard Riots were about a frustrated segment of the population saying they’d had enough.  That Anglophone oppression against Francophones needed to come to an end.  Now.  It was a Rosa Parks moment.  Most progressive Francophones have been shamed into silence for fear of appearing to be separatists.  So when more subtle forms of Anglophone oppression reappear, the dialogue is brief, dismissive and silencing.

But don’t be fooled.  The problems remain.  And dialogue is the way to go.  As is the case for most democratic processes.  Be part of the solution.

I dunno.  I’m actually in a good mood, I think.

Some would call this musing an off-night.  I would.  Rambling.

But hey.  Some enjoy these types of musings.  Who knows.  I mean, I do know.  I don’t know what’s best, is what I’m saying.

Auld gloves a puck off an end-line to low slot pass.  The shooter was well-covered.  Picard.


Two goals in nine minutes.  Context is there, as well.  Montreal is far better at team play than these cigar lugathons.

Palushaj can’t be intimidated following a small skirmish in the crease.  Leave our goalie alone.  Fair enough.

Faceoff to Lundqvist’s left.  I’d like to hear a hockey-educated sermon on who the top ten goalies in the league are.  Mechanics-wise.  Lundqvist, I suspect, is in that group.

Auld makes Houde exclaim.  Great save.

Seven and a half.  Canadiens will go into their final six minute mode.  Usually it’s worth something.

Prust is sticked down.  Wisniewski.  Ignored.  Houde says it was mild, pas trop grave.

I should equip this MS Word version with a French grammar checker.  Conjugation.  What a nightmare.

The best thing, with French, is to speak exclusively in one tense.  Why not future simple?  Futur simple, je veux dire.  J’aurais du dire?  Quoi.

Five and a half.  Candies can’t get it out.  Rangers are buzzing around.  They have a chance to up their unearned win percentage today.  I’m sure, like the Flyers, they’ve been less able to beat skilled teams.  But I haven’t checked.  Fliers?  Yes, I’ve checked.  There’s enough to indicate that the Fliers score more and do better against other “Canadian-style” teams.  Less-skilled teams rely more on crash-and-bang hockey.  Shoot lots and crowd the net.

The football equivalent is “three yards and a cloud of dust”.  The damned language of the less imaginative.

Innovators in both basketball and football have been denigrated for similar reasons and in similar dynamic-sets.  Those who defied dismissal through sustained long-term success (which can also be dismissed if history is re-written long and loudly enough) were hated.  Not just by opponents but by a majority of media members.

In the NFL, Bill Walsh comes to mind.  Many detested the “genius” label he was given by his supporters.  In the NBA, the prime recent example is and continues to be Phil Jackson.  He is alternately described derisively or with admiration as the Zen Master as he culls knowledge from outside the North American dominant ideology systems and uses this in his coaching.

Walsh won three Super Bowls.  Jackson has won eleven NBA championships.  Jackson is number one in his sport.  Walsh is number tied at number two.  But Walsh’s systems and methods were widely imitated and his apprentices have won several Super Bowls benefiting from his influence.

Lundqvist is bashed into.  No fighting.  Trainer on ice.  He’s conscious.  He’s up.  He’s ok.

Montreal player was checked into the goalie on a left-side rush.

Rangers manage another goal.  Bouncer clipped by Auld and then knocked in by Auld.  Nearly Flier ugly.  Nearly.

Canadiens need this kind of loss to remind them that ugly hockey can beat them.

Rangers 6, Canadiens 3

Another element in genius-resistance is the unwillingness to change, to adapt to the new methods.  Many don’t wish to change “what’s won for them before”.

Dinosaurs don’t just roam the house of commons and congress.

One minute.

Ranger fans chant the taunting ole-ole.  Houde finds it amusing.  I find it telling.  Eye for an eye thinking.  Joy in another’s misery.

Ranger fans.  Beleaguered, patriotic, vitriolic.  At least the upper bunker ones.  What’s the percentage?

Ten seconds.  Auld makes a high-mask save.  Close to his left shoulder.

White considers a fight to close the match but then leaves off.

Final Score
New York Rangers 6
Montreal Canadiens 3

Montreal Wanderers, Montreal Maroons.  Couple others in the NHA days.

HDS Stars: Artem Anisimov, James Wisniewski, PK Subban
RDS Stars: Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, James Wisniewski

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 (38-25-7) host Tampa Bay Lightning (39-22-9)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Game Seventy-One (score posted following scribbles)

Missed it? Musings capture the game in writing. A written transcript typed during the game, posted and edited about thirty minutes afterward.  Based on the RDS French telecast of the Montreal Canadiens game, Musings take about 20 minutes to read. More detailed than an article, fresher than a looping highlight and good with morning coffee. Or late-night chocolate.  A unique way to re-experience the game.

click here to expand post (it looks prettier)


Reseau play-by-play maestro Pierre Houde interviews Montreal defenceman Roman Hamrlik in a pre-taped segment.  Or is it moments before this game?  I wonder.

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