Montreal Canadiens vs. Chicago Blackhawks
December 21, 2011, by Homme de Sept-Îles
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 (13-14-7) visit Chicago Blackhawks (21-9-4)
Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
Game Thirty-Five (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 23 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)
Two reasons why Peter Budaj is in net tonight instead of number one man Carey Price. Price needs a rest. And recently appointed head coach Randy Cunneyworth wants to see how Budaj will carry himself in the new circumstances.
The new circumstances are the recent firing of Montreal head coach Jacques Martin and intendent ripples. The team has gone 0-2 and played some good hockey, some bad hockey, made the usual mistakes and after a gusting, positive emotional showing in the first period of the first game declined and then endured a maudlin period one in game two en route to an easy Boston win despite the flattering 3-2 score.
This is game three of the Randy Cunneyworth era. And it probably won’t be an era. We in sports so quick to use words like dynasty; I am no different. Era, dynasty, powerhouse, hero, ultimate … and so on.
Cunneyworth will be replaced in the summer by someone who can speak (or will definitely learn French; contractual obligation?) and we can only hope that someone remarkable (hockey-wise) will be available at that time. That someone may well be an unknown. Get the best. Regardless.
Competition is enough. Special words shouldn’t be needed. Poets shouldn’t be needed. Loud sounds, speakers, amps, bright lights, cheerleaders. All unnecessary. All we need is a reason. And maybe not even that.
Human chemicals and the heart.
What does it all mean?
Tonight it means a game against an old foe; an Original Six rival and compatriot. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews is interviewed before the game by Pierre Houde and Toews says that one of the things that needs to change is respect. He’s talking about the joys of being a player in today’s head-hunting NHL. He says that and more besides and his French remains excellent.
In about 20 years, his name will be bandied about as a possible new coach for the struggling Habs.
The house lights warm in that auspicious, fearful gymnasium green and the goalies ready themselves. Steve Kozari and Kyle Rehman are the refs. Corey Crawford is the goalie for Chicago.
Montreal wins the faceoff and chases it down. Cole line. Desharnais and Pacioretty alongside.
Desharnais booms a man into the boards and the pass is complete nonetheless. Chicago is in. Gill slows a man. Cole reaches but without enough effort or footing and it’s away. Hawks manage a shot.
A stick is stuck in the slot and a Chicago forward wriggles it free.
Puck goes to the neutral zone.
The most hopeful word in the hockey dictionary is “now”. Some of these guys may be gone in a few months or years. And they won’t be able to score (or backcheck) for this team. They won’t be able to hope and neither will we. The era will have ended. But as long as they are there, we can hope. They can believe. Maybe tonight. Maybe tonight I’ll score. Maybe tonight we’ll win. Maybe tonight it all starts.
Now. It can still happen. When we have now.
Shot of the bulldog coach, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville. He maintains his usual game demeanour. Gruff, intense, jaw thrust and the air of a man who may not have eaten. For maybe two days.
Campoli delivers a loud-sounding hit. A Chicago helmet is off. Campoli is hit in his turn.
Out and then in. And a blast by Chicago moves Budaj to his knees. Whenever Budaj is in, we are reminded what it feels like to have a man in net we are not confident in. He’s fine and all that, he knows how to strap the pads on, say the right things. But he’s inconsistent, not a physical specimen and prone to streaky play. Price is in another category. And when he’s there, I expect certain things. And I feel assurance.
The team will play to reduce the shots against. And as any defensively-minded coach (all of them) will tell you, that will increase the percentages tonight. Other things may bring the percentages down. Playing in Chicago’s building, for example.
Road game against one of the best teams in the NHL. And if it wasn’t for the cap, this team (Chicago) would be in, yes, dynasty mode.
I’m not saying cups in a row because that’s much harder to accomplish in these days of parity. But this team would be a, yes, powerhouse.
The ultimate power in the Western Conference. Ok, they wouldn’t. I just wanted to say ultimate (power in this galaxy).
Someone should tell me my lack of faith is disturbing.
The skating is good. Both teams fly up and down the perimeters. Have a laugh. Nobody wants to go to the middle yet. And the passes can’t be had, either way. Montreal has studied and prepared. And nobody wants to be embarrassed.
As for Chicago? They’re just in the habit of playing good hockey.
Must be nice. Enjoy!
Obama is a Blackhawk fan, I believe.
Who’s Obama? Oh, just some Washington celebrity. He’s a bit more popular than Ovie.
Faceoff to Budaj’s right. Thunderstruck mellows over the speakers. Nobody looks appalled as AntiChrist Devil’s Children talk to us about procreation. And the partying that leads to it.
Sharp takes a pass, curls behind his blue line and then around and out. A quick small pass.
The Hawks always look smaller in their red uniforms than in their white.
Montreal should resume wearing white at home.
Cammalleri has it in the low slot. Backhand. No. What will it take, asks Houde. Denis says that the fraction of a second longer it takes Cammalleri is an indicator of a lowered confidence. Houde adds that the struggling winger is very proud of his reputation as a scorer. Indeed. Denis says that Cammalleri wants to score, is trying to score but … there is no answer, no way for him to finish this thought.
No polite on-air way. These guys have to see one another.
Practice. And relaxing. Practice hard. Relax when you’re in the game.
Shoot your way out of it. It’ll start going in again.
The other point is; maybe this guy isn’t up to the billing.
Faceoff deep left. Again the puck stays on the boards. As it has most game.
Hawks are not as physical as they used to be. And Byfuglien’s absence is part of that.
When a guy is as robust, as daring as he is, others follow suit. Byfuglien went after Pronger hard in the finals in 09-10. Knocked him over convincingly at least twice. The intimidated Blackhawks surged and followed.
Byfuglien was more than board force. He can play the point or stand in the crease (either one) and he can both pass and score. A big man with decent skills and great competitive drive.
Sadly, Byfuglien is in Winnipeg now. The cap limit imposed. A team wins a Cup and raises are expected, as well. The Hawks had to choose and they kept their three great forwards (Kane, Toews and Sharp) and went with the speed game.
I hate what the cap does. And it may not be necessary in its current form. There must be a way. Ask one of your business-minded Conservative pals. Find out how much they really know about financing. Creative financing.
Finding the right player and then seeing him blend in, earn chemistry; only to see him go … a shame.
Byfuglien should still be a Hawk.
Some Cunneyworth talk. He’s a bit more intense behind the bench. He’s got his own style of course. We see him saying “are you fucking kidding me?” to a ref. Yelling it. And then the bodyguard type beside Cunneyworth murmurs something besides. What kind of hockey knowledge does this bodyguard possess? Is he a hockey man at all?
I wouldn’t provoke him.
Hossa is on the ice. Spits. Goes into the stance.
I wouldn’t use a parked stance as a player on the wing. For the faceoff. That extra second is worth it. Or are they required to have their sticks on the ice for the faceoff? Is that a rule?
Hawks are now ready to win the game. End line. Shot. Rebound. Habs are late in their shift. Puck is shot across the goal line. I’m still waiting for the lights to get fully bright in here. I think they’re done.
Habs are hitting but the puck stays on Chicago sticks. Finally Plekanec takes one on the high hash and sends it to nobody across the middle of the ice.
Campoli retrieves. Sends it long. Missed. Out. Hawks. Control. Send it in. And then it’s out of play.
The easiest and cheapest way to get that supposedly wonderful new car feeling is to polish your toaster. Then just stare at it a while. Marvel.
Can you afford it?
We are informed that Patrick Sharp’s favourite band is Pearl Jam.
They’re an old band now. I remember when they were new.
One band after another. Lots of them bad. Pearl Jam was good. Are good. And some strong principles, besides.
Anodized aluminum. I prefer chrome, myself. That whole shiny object thing.
Sharp is free in the muzzle. Fires. And Budaj stops it.
How does Hockey Database rank so much higher than Hockey Reference? Any search engine player query will consistently show hockeydb several ranks ahead of any similar search result for hockey-reference. Hockey Reference is much newer. And much better.
I just wanted to quickly check Budaj’s career numbers. The two sites are much faster than the team site which also has the information. Too many ads with the team sites. Slows everything down. Not worth going to.
Time, time, time. Game. Time.
Montreal gets a break. Power-play.
First segment is wan.
Second segment sees two big blasts from Campoli. And he has it a third time. To the right. Diaz. Diaz hesitates. Looks right and then passes low to his left. Around the net. Across. Kostitsyn misses a chance.
Budaj was never good, was he.
I remember his name being spoken with hope in the Colorado days. But that’s all you have when a player like Patrick Roy leaves. Hope.
I get the feeling that hockeydb is Canadian and Hockey Reference is American. More money can sometimes mean more quality.
Until you look at the dollar to points ratio for the Montreal Canadiens.
No goal. No further threat.
Chicago 0, Montreal 0
Brunet is on his game tonight. He makes some strong, valid points regarding how this situation, Martin’s firing, will affect how players view Montreal as a hockey destination. He cites the old favourites; the weather, the media, the pressure to perform every night (the language doesn’t need to be stated). His position is the correct one and it contravenes that of Denis Gauthier. Both are former players; Gauthier understands the game better, Brunet has a better grasp of the culture around the game though from a much older school. However, on this point, he is right.
I stare at my screen… is that a bug? It’s moving. Oh. Wait. It’s in sync with Alain’s head movements. Those mikes are insect-small nowadays. Wow. Technology. They can get it in anywhere.
I saw a snake-cam the other day. Plumbing device. There was this p-trap. There was this flood. Montreal Mystique headquarters. A carpet. Some damaged drywall. Oh, heck.
You don’t want to know.
Dollars to doughnuts!
<insert fast-rising yeast punch>
More confident work from Brunet follows. What happened. Good for him.
Montreal 0, Chicago 0
Sharp no longer has a moustache. Or at least in this team photo.
Some kind of otter or marmot is in cartoon form on Budaj’s mask. Marsupial?
Cole to Pacioretty. Shot on reception and the sweeper is wide. Hit something. Pacioretty shot from the circle to Crawford’s left.
Cammalleri is pursuing with better intent but the puck gets away from him. Now he takes a puck in his own zone and clicks a clever backhander to the defenceman and cruises at reception speed to the right, looking back for the pass all the while. Cammalleri is like a small sports car. Ocelot acceleration and all the extras.
When he works hard (up and down the ice) he can be the best player on the ice. No, I’ve never watched an ocelot accelerate. But come on. It’s gotta be a pretty good rate.
Long Chicago shot. Rebound. Budaj with a good save and a great one. Kane. And then Toews missed the rebound. What am I saying. I’ll say this. Plekanec is called on the sequence.
I forgot about Kane. Yikes. He’s the most dangerous player in the western conference. He’s the player I least like to see in the Montreal zone. Of the western players.
First sequence ends with a faceoff. And Steve Montador offers Gill a small surly shove. Gill seems surprised. Huh? What did I do? Nothing.
Never wake up those big guys. Those giants. Robinson. Chara. Just let them slumber.
Gill’s one of them.
Yes sir. Yes sir. Just hum. Don’t whistle.
And never glare or yell. Nod a lot.
Penalty ends with Plekanec on the trail of an out of the box goal. Cammalleri with him.
Two on one. Plekanec fakes the shot and the dive is a bit hard and Keith takes himself out of the play. Plekanec didn’t pass to Cammalleri in the slot and Keith was on his stomach, a human bed-missile on the way to the corner. Plekanec waited and then shot. Crawford saw it all.
Hawks are out.
Now Frolik is called. Oh. He’s in Chicago now? Oy. That’s a lot of swords.
The former King is a dangerous offensive player and just 23.
Montreal goes to power.
Twelve percent, sure. But let’s call it power tonight.
Anything counts now.
I’ve abandoned all principle. <insert baron’s guffaw>
Kaberle. Shot. Rebound. And Crawford has it. Point blank. Pacioretty finds it hard to believe.
Another light snap shot.
He didn’t look at the net. Just looked at the puck and shot. And then looked skyward. Look to your game tapes.
Faceoff. Crawford’s left. To the hash. Plekanec shoots.. Kostitsyn deflects it. And it’s under Crawford’s left arm. Nicely done. Puck falls like an amusement park treat. And the carney-squawkers can only watch.
Sometimes the house loses.
Montreal 1, Chicago 0
Remember those jaws you could control for twenty-five cents? If you could maneuver them just right, you could get a prize. Who could do it? The amusement park. Where people happily go to blow their money on games rigged against them. Sound familiar?
We shouldn’t be happy about deductibles. Pollution. And divide and conquer tactics. Let the Wizard be seen!
How do you like the sun?
Why don’t used cars get this kind of treatment in commercials? Let’s celebrate rust! Oxidize this.
Cole and Pacioretty sew a seam. And Keith gets back to mung it all up.
Houde is complimentary.
Sharp on the right. Budaj is out and taking up almost as much space as Price. Nice save. Spread wings, he drops and makes a second.
Pierre Groulx is Montreal’s goalie coach. Price would have left the practice ice last today. Starter leaves first. Eller with a long shot.
Big rebound. Hawks are there and on it at their blue.
Entry is negated. Pace is much better. Gill got in the way on that last sequence.
Blunden hooks a man. Delayed call.
Crowd is booing. Wanted the play to continue. But a Montreal stick ended things.
Stalberg is on this team. Emery, too. Hmm.
I don’t support these alternative dignified pronunciations of names. Just take what you got and go with it. It’s Toes. Not Taves. Where do you get Taves from? It’s Fav-ray. Not Farv. (Or Favr, sure) Some of it is laziness. Some of it is dignity. In the case of Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, it’s the latter.
I’m Bilal, call me Steve. Some of it is embarrassment. Cultural.
Hawks’ attack is nullified more convincingly this time. The full unit is here.
Moen is going alone to the net. Plekanec is in a race to the hash. Gets to it. The pass. And it’s just a touch too close to the goalie.
More chasing. Pacioretty can’t get to this one. Pacioretty is not backchecking as strongly as in November. Let’s go. It was the beginning of his shift.
Et 21,000 juges de lignes …
I’m one of them. Rumpled living room general manager. Or jackass. It’s tight.
Houde says he knows one of the Habs fans in the crowd. Vaguely. Denis takes the cue and repeats “vaguement”. Houde continues. I love it. That chemistry will come. Denis is very respectful towards the play-by-play impresario as should be but they can kibitz. Houde is a generous and fair man.
Train horn. It’s not loud enough. Come on. This is supposed to be the loudest rink in the land (ed note: it used to be).
Kane is playing with his mouth-guard half out. Is bounced. Passes beforehand. Brunette. Then Toews in the crease. And a perfunctory goal reaction from the team. They’re used to being good. And once were the best. Could be again.
Chicago entry. And another goal.
Only the Blackhawks deserve that train horn.
Sharp on his offwing. Braked. Campoli had dived early to block the play. And took himself out instead. Terrible. Kane just braked. Waited. And shot it over Budaj’s arm.
Sharp and a teammate look up at the scoreboard from the bench and admire his handiwork.
Boston doesn’t care. Chicago doesn’t care. So true. Somebody on the bench care. Why aren’t people getting fired up? They can’t all be calm types.
Chicago 2, Montreal 1
Marshall fear. Furnish with fire.
Six and a half.
Kaberle leaves the ice. Desharnais line. Pacioretty’s shot is high.
Now an open net for Pacioretty. I watch the back of the net. And it doesn’t go in.
Blocked by Seabrook.
Off the cross bar? Or is it off Crawford’s stick? Denis thinks the goalie got a piece of it. And it’s up in the crowd. Along with our helium thoughts.
Oh, balloons, sure. But mostly banners, champagne fragrance and the wispy ashlings that float around and get in your eyes long after the campfire should have been doused.
Desharnais and Pacioretty on the left side. Desharnais is a winner. He doesn’t panic. He doesn’t lose hope. He keeps working. And just does it with a bit more grim determination for situations like these.
Cammalleri is on. Chasing. Hossa passes it to his goalie. This ain’t soccer. Cammalleri’s three-quarter effort nearly results in a goal and Plekanec and Cammalleri combine in the low slot. Chicago gets very lucky.
Only one line(of the top two) typically does well on a given night. It’s something Vincent Damphousse said the other night. He was talking about how both lines performed well on Monday against Boston.
I was wondering if moving Kostitsyn to the line with Desharnais and Cole would be good. Even great. Cole and Kostitsyn. Cole is the guy that can help Kostitsyn develop. Lang was the last. Forward, at least.
Just a sense.
Three and a half.
The pace slows as the teams match each other shoulder for shoulder and angle for angle. The action stops as Toews shoots through legs and forces Budaj low.
Winning cures everything. So some will say. It certainly masks the fetid odours. Helps close a few doors.
We’re shown the Chicago goal celebrations. Even winning can’t always do it. It’s always interesting to see who won’t hug whom. Who won’t look certain guys in the eye. Nope. I’m not gonna smile at you. Moron.
The Cammalleri effort is shown. Plekanec just missed the net. Such a sudden game, hockey. Nothing, nothing, nothing, whoops. Something.
High stick. Patrick Kane. Mouthguard still half-out. Style points count when you can score goals and win Cups. If you can’t … well. Do what you want. But don’t expect any chocolate bars.
One space. A shot by Subban. One-timer. Way wide. Is he ever going to get a handle on that?
Shots were tied 7-7 in the first and 12-11 in favour for Chicago in the second.
Chicago 2, Montreal 1
The All-Star voting is discussed. It’s a source of amusement, of course. The fans vote. There are several Toronto and Ottawa players on board this season. It’s all a reflection of flawed revoting permissions and the fact that Canadian fans are rabid. And blessedly biased. Yes, more than the other countries. It’s cultural. Warped notions of superiority. Brunet says that the league needs to find a new formula. You have to reward the best. He’s right. Again.
If half the league is Canadian (and it is; about fifty percent of the players are Canadian-born) wouldn’t that show up in the leaderboards (goals, assists and so forth)? Wouldn’t we have better individual and international outcomes?
If you were wondering about warping.
Chicago 2, Montreal 1
When Cammalleri gets out of his slump, I hope he grows from the experience.
About forty seconds in the Montreal power-play.
Puck is lost on the right point. Subban has to retrieve.
Houde comments on the need for Subban to find lanes better. On the power-play. Denis agrees. Shots can’t keep hitting legs.
It’s all in the drills. All in repetition. Again, and again and again, and again. Larry Bird’s thousand shots. Fred Biletnikoff’s one hundred catches on a messed up pattern. Guy Lafleur’s bucket of pucks. All on the practice surface. When nobody is watching.
It’s not glorious. But there is a pleasure in preparation.
Cammalleri is on the left side as Plekanec and Pirri face off. Plekanec wins it.
We’re back to fives.
Budaj clamps down the stick and blocker.
And the bouncing entry is ended. Puck bounced up and Gorges took Pirri, arm and stick jutting, and prevented the forward from getting a blade on the disc.
Cole impresses in all he does. He’s having fun and he understands the game and his place in it. Not an idle boaster, he has the eyes of a finisher. But having been around and having understood what he’s been through, he knows the scoring can stop. And he knows it will restart.
In these cap days, I’ve had to learn to live with the developing player. The less mature, cocky, half-assed braggart who hasn’t learned all the lessons that Cole has so well. No team can be fully stocked with the best and the most mature anymore. It’s possible but much harder now. There will always be a handful of kids (or some older kids) that won’t want to pay the price(s) an older player has learned to pay.
The premium on character remains important. Maybe even moreso. And the teams that understand how to evaluate this set of attributes will have the edge.
There are youngsters with character, of course. I’ll take Lars Eller and David Desharnais over Michael Cammalleri and Max Pacioretty. Every time.
Halak over Price back in the day. But Price has grown. He made a decision or two. And they were the right ones.
Toews to Kane. One timer from the circle-top. Stays out. Kept in. Board work. Cycling. La carousel as Crete called it at the break. He asked why Montreal doesn’t ever to this. The answer is in the Martin system. Cycling that doesn’t result in shots is only worth the time it kills. But it rests players and puts pressure on the defending teams.
I’ve always liked it. Montreal snipes and snaps and gets their chances off mistakes and patience. But even those chances are rare for Montreal as not every player bought into the system. It’s a man’s system. A mature player’s game and Montreal doesn’t have enough of those players.
Or the ones here don’t feel fear enough. Or respect and follow the system enough. You have to want to do what the coach wants you to do. Some guys need to like their coach. Others work better in a cone of fear. Find out. Apply. And win.
Ryan White is skating again says Denis. Could be with the team on their next road trip. White, a scrappy forward, has been out since the preseason. Scrappy. You all know what that little label means. Yes. He’s short. He’s local. He’s low-skilled. He fights. He chirps. And he’s well-liked. So many codes in the lexicon.
Here’s a Chicago goal. Around the net. Bickell. To the slot. One-timer. And that stupid song.
Chicago 3, Montreal 1
One of those clap-along happy-boot songs. Just stick with the train horn.
Hawks are trapped in their own zone briefly.
Eller. Holding the puck up. Now he skates all the way back with the forward and follows him right to the net even as two defencemen are in position. Budaj freezes it.
A centre is expected to go end to end. Particularly in the Martin system. Wingers can be up a bit and they have some leeway on backchecking. But it’s certainly not optional.
Individuals clock their time on the puck. Team guys just go get it. Wherever. All you have to do is have a care for the defencemen’s positions.
Quenneville is clapping and encouraging his troops. He just wants them to close it out. Another one for the books. Business first.
He’s won his Cup and now everyone has to listen to him. Not a bad deal. Especially if you’re a Chicago fan.
Cole leads a rush. Loses it on entry and the two trapped forwards must work to get back to the neutral zone.
Sudden Chicago two on one. Toews. Kane. The pass. The stop low. Two guys you don’t want to see on a two-on-one. Agreed. Kane with the finishing move on the low circle to Budaj’s left.
Another short Montreal possession.
Why did they blow up the team that summer? How dramatic. How unnecessary.
They were the most skilled team in the East. They replaced by what we thought would make them the most hard-working team in the East. But we didn’t get that. Lost the skill. Didn’t get the work.
Nine of the last twelve are losses. Twelfth in the conference. The speed experiment was going to work.
The Canadiens had three scoring lines. Nine guys who could put the puck in the net. And Markov to bind them.
<insert nine men doomed to die>
Leblanc is on.
Kostitsyn runs over a Hawk. Now he takes a pass, makes a move and then sends a no-looker across, easily intercepted as he crossed the blue.
Sacrifice friendships. Critique your teammates. Set fire to anything that will burn.
It’s the way.
And let the guys with nice watches and rich tweeds scurry from the parking lot. In over-priced cars, besides.
Go make money in San Jose. Or Florida. We don’t need you.
I met a dude the other night who knows Ray Emery. Said that Emery is very misunderstood and is a great guy. Off the ice. He’s a great goaltender. On the ice. He’s much better than Niemi. Niemi isn’t even top thirty. Emery? He’s a top three.
And a Conn Smythe type. Hawks do have the chance to do something special, as Kane mentioned in his interview with Houde.
Two and a half.
Habs are quiet. Finally they set up. Moen is back to prevent a two-on-one from flowering.
Moen has a hand up and is communicating to a defenceman. Should I listen?
Respect is earned. We’ll give you some for your title but not the amount that used to be given. It’s a new generation. And hard work is what we’re paid for anyway.
One forty-two. Budaj leaves the ice.
One failed entry.
A second. Interception by Seabrook.
Pass to Toews. Shot in.
The train horn.
All too easy.
Chicago 4, Montreal 1
And that stupid song.
And no Jedi hanging from the roof.
Cammalleri. Face of a Jedi. Heart of a protocol droid.
A J. Geils song wheedles through the rink sonics.
Maybe it’s a lost doomed cause. Maybe Montreal may never recover its fabled sense of greatness. It all depends on the men and women in the building.
What about Danielle Sauvageau.
Two on one. Kaberle. Lame effort.
Chicago 5, Montreal 1
The train horn. The period. The game. But not the season.
Are you going to be happy with a playoff berth and first-round exit?
The trade deadline is in February. It’s Cunneyworth’s team for now.
HDS Stars: Josh Gorges, Jonathan Toews, Erik Cole
RDS Stars: Jonathan Toews, Corey Crawford, Andrei Kostitsyn