The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

Montreal Canadiens vs. Washington Capitals

January 19, 2012, 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 (17-20-8) host Washington Capitals (24-18-2)

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Game Forty-Six (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)


Marc Denis says that Alexander Ovechkin can no longer be considered the best player in the world and his corresponding points-decline is shown.  He remains a menace and dangerous player, however, we’re cautioned.

Former Canadiens Roman Hamrlik and Jeff Halpern are back in the building, both playing a first game against Montreal.  Hamrlik is interviewed prior and careful to stress his focus is with Washington and that he’s happy there.  He doesn’t reveal his feelings either way.  Pierre is nearly effusive in welcoming him back to Montreal saying “we’re very happy to see you” and “you may not be aware but fans here miss you in a Montreal uniform”.


Halpern, too.

I wonder how much wisdom was involved in letting both go.  Were the coaching staffs even consulted?

How well does management in Montreal understand the game, I’d like to know.  Gainey does, sure.  But he’s got some ideas.  And he’s not the GM, anyhow.

Eller has seen fewer minutes since his four-goal (five point) effort last week and it’s because of lapses in defensive play.  Same with Kostitsyn.  With Gomez’ return, Cunneyworth has more options.  More motivational tools.  Eller is pointless since.  Without a point, rather.

Ice time matters even to this generation.

Michal Neuvirth and Carey Price are the goalies.

Gord Dwyer and Stephen Walkom are the refs.

Decay takes a long time to brush away, doesn’t it.  And it leaves an odour.

First Period

Eller line starts; Kostitsyn and Moen alongside.

Subban and Gorges down low.  Ovie for Washington.  He’s on the left wing to start.

We’ve been told to expect a less than enthusiastic Ovechkin.  And the initial movements indicate as much as he nearly lethargically skates to and fro, a distant, loose string pulling him to the puck.

Stoppage and Desharnais line is on next.  Brooks Laich for Washington.

I wonder how much his team likes him.  Are the divisions like those experienced by black players in the old days?

Bourque and Matt Hendricks go.  It’s the most convincing fight victory for a Canadien since before the lockout (one-punch knockouts don’t count, Francis).  Hendricks gave the initiation.  Bourque is strong, unafraid and can take care of himself.  He lands heavily on Hendricks to close the vaudeville segment of tonight’s match.

There’s nothing big tent about concussions, though.  Mostly just purples and twilight.

Ninety seconds one.

Why not just have two glass-wall partitions on either corner of the rink where fighting goes on at five minute intervals or during commercials.  Hire separate folks for the role.  Award power-play minutes or something.  Or free concession snacks.

Another stoppage.

Ovechkin is not his usual self.  Here he stands in the low slot and then lunges to grab at an escaping defenceman.  Suddenly his tail twitches and he’s blockading panther and fierce neutral zone snarler.  Whams one and then looks for another.

Last game Plekanec lost a couple of teeth.  Remember when he was standing in the tunnel, unmarked?

Three minutes gone and the Caps send one long.  Touched.  Icing.

The organ.  The Caps’ seventies uniforms, six stars brandished across the upper chest and the organist’s chaaa-aarge notes leave me with a feeling of egg white and yolk separated.

Hamrlik is paired with Carlson.  He’s 22.  Hamrlik spoke about learning from Rob Ramage and others when he was a youngster starting out and now he’s in the same role.

Blunden has great speed.  I never realised it.

It’s almost a requisite for the fourth line guys nowadays.  Almost?  It is.  If you can’t put a puck in the net, you’d better be fast.  Courtnall and Gainey come to mind.  Neither had Lafleur or Dionne-type hands.

Perreault.  Right side.  Long wrister.  And it beats Price.  Francophone luck.

Ugly goal.

Screened shot.  Gorges knelt and the puck winged by his outside shoulder.  Strange trajectory. Gorges may have given too much room on that side.

Washington 1, Montreal 0

Washington continues to control.  Faceoff to Price’s left. Hamrlik gets it on the right point.  Across.  Shot.  Action flows around the net.  And Price stops a mild one in close.

Perreault is shown leaping into the glass.  Joy and then he hugs his teammates.  He’s from Drummondville, Quebec.

What does a player believe about his abilities, about his career?  In hockey, it’s hard to lie to oneself.  But it’s done.  It’s a strange game to evaluate.  So much is not tracked for us.  We have goals and assists and some debated metrics (like Corsi).  It’s possible but it requires a lot more time than pulling numbers together for football, basketball or baseball.

Even the scorers are improperly measured and some remain bitter to this day. Regional bias is just as strong a factor as race is in the other three games and affects a player’s legacy in ways I’m still fathoming.

Twelve and a half.

Measurables.  Who’s better.  Who’s best.

Maybe counting pellets is not such a bad fate.

Subban retries.  Brakes.  Waits.  A bee surrounds and then ejects.  Gomez.  Takes it.  Down the left.  The old slithering skating.  But nothing emerges.

Caps rush.

Three to the net.  And Johansen puts an easy one over Price’s glove.  Really ugly goal.  Price should have had it.  Or did it go off something?

Washington 2, Montréal 0

I begin preparing for finishing 9th.

Gorges is called for roughing.

One of those Subban high-shoulder check specials.

Group activities rarely yield to an individual’s whims.  My mood never matches the outcomes nor the process on ice.

Nor my preparedness.  It’s not like doing the dishes.

It’s more like writing poetry.

One follows mood.  The other doesn’t.

Poems don’t respond (well) to pushing.  If you’re lucky, they’ll pull you along.

The dishes are best done in a decent mood, though.

Hamrlik’s NHL entry is discussed and Houde says it as the time when the gates to Europe were flooded open.  Hamrlik was a first overall pick of the Lightning.

Still tired from the cold.  But not fatigued.

Kostitsyn with a long nose-clearing shot.  Wide.  Power and talent.

Keep your stick on the ice.  Keep your fingers on the keyboard.

Gomez line.

Gomez is in and following his own dump-in with great verve.  He’s playing with more passion than anyone else on the ice.

Darche is tripped.

In the old days, a 2-0 lead was vulnerable to the likes of Gomez.  He’s too young to be done.

Montreal power-play.

Desharnais.  Wins it.  To Kaberle on the left point.

Kaberle works it.  Looking better and then his pass is poorly thought and bounces off sticks across the slot.

Kaberle brakes and three men watched as he drops it to Desharnais.  Not how it’s drawn up.  But they’re in.

And they control.

Cole.  To the net.  Pacioretty nearly finds him. Caps are working.  Canadiens push the level.

Forty seconds.  Forced out.

Subban.  A move, then suggests another but cruises to a near stop and lofts it in.

Plekanec.  Emerges.  Near backhand.  A flash of Cammalleri. The puck is in the mouth’s corner.  And still trickling.  Crowd rose.

And Cammalleri doesn’t finish.  What’s better is we’re not paying for it tonight.  Calgary is.

Wideman plays a puck with a bladeless stick. Doesn’t realise it.  Is called.


Carries.  Down the middle.  The square bunches.  Kaberle’s right-hand pass is intercepted.

One failed entry.  A second.

Desharnais line.

Weber from the left point.  Tries a longer wrister but hits Carlson.

Caps’ penalty-kill is smart, aggressive.  But only one guy pushes out at a time.  Halpern is one of them.

Wideman is out of the box.  Montreal produces no good shots.

Montreal’s last place power-play is not the worst last-place power-play I’ve seen.  And that’ the best I can say.

Gorges and Emelin were able to sandwich Ovechkin on an entry.  Hamrlik took care of Moen on the other replay.  Deep corner takedown in battling for the puck.

Under one.

Perreault.  Left side for Alzner.  Around the net.  Eakin falls chasing the exit.  Stoppage on entry.  Pacioretty called for offside. And a mistake.  Replay confirms it. Rare error.  Johnny Murray.

Houde says they are rarely wrong.  Montreal led on shots seven, five. Should be zero, zero.

First Intermission
Washington 2, Montreal 0

We can be better.  So can Ovie.

Second Period
Washington 2, Montreal 0

Eller throws an interception.  From the hash to the slot.

End to end, slowly. Lines change.  Forty seconds gone.  Price stops one behind his net.  To Gorges.  Up.  Missed.  Off a stick so no icing.  Cleared Off a stick. Semin.  IN alone.  Stick ladle and up. And Price. The light. . And the dazzle stare.

Montreal is enervated. Weber. Over the blue. Fires.  Quick release.  Wide.  But just.

We retrieve.

Plekanec. Around.  Ward watches.  Off the boards.  And the Caps move to the centre line.  Where they lose it.  Hendricks keeps mashing, keeps mucking.  He’ll lose it and does.

Hangs his head on the return.  Habs pressure for a six-second cl9ip.  Bourque is a part of it.  Cole to the net moments later.  He’s bucket over and sliding slowly into the post, looking small as a boy, old as a lad.

It’s called and he looks a bit bigger as he rises.

The Price save is shown.

Halpern is the guy that hauled down Cole.

Third power-play.

I wonder what it would be like to muse these by lantern light.  Let’s say electricity had its limits.

Gas radio.

First segment is gone.

Gomez on the second.

Gomez’ pass is missed but saved on the left point by Kaberle.

Kostitsyn one-timer.  Hash shot is off something.

Thirty-seven seconds.

Weber.  Drops it.  Gomez just fires.  Neuvirth gives the big rebound.  Nobody there.

Price lofts it from behind his net.  Misses a man and Ward has it going the other way.  Medium acceleration.  Shoots.  No.

Penalty ends.

Desharnais.  Over the blue.  Cole preceded.  Called.  And a Cap lets Desharnais go.

Gomez’ unexpected shot was a howitzer.  He seems mildly shocked on the bench.  What does it take?  More of the same.

Eighty two games is a long grind.

Too long.

Under fifteen.

Ovechkin.  Awake. Dropping.  Mishandled.  Johansen is preceded by Ovechkin into the zone.

Ovie and Subban exchange some words.  At the break, Crete warned Subban not to engage Ovie, don’t wake the sleeping bear.  Subban was doing his irrifoe thing in the first.  He’s young, said Damphousse at intermission.

Bourque. Gets in alone.  Off the post.

Broke away.  A few centimeters.  He’s’ been good so far.

Thirteen and a half.

Clean slate and all that.  People change.  Habits, anyway.

Off the corner over Neuvirth’s glove.  Beaten.  Great shot. And Bourque bumped the puck through legs, went around, retrieved and accelerated to make his shot.  He can do pretty hockey, too.


Montreal ice.

I look for lazy backcheckers.  I remember that our buddy is gone.

That’ such a big difference.

Nobody is going to engage in it now.

Gorges.  To Subban.  To Gomez on the right point.  Shot.  Blocked.

Around the net it goes.  Darche is on a knee.  Johansson is down.  On his knees. Hit by the puck. Now he’s up.  Skating bent over to the bench.

Stick to the face.  Darche’s.  Blood.  Four minutes.

Just under twelve.

Plekanec and Moen are first.

Gill and Gorges underneath.  Ovechkin on the left point.  Gill dumps Brouwer with a purse-shoulder shrug.  Blap on his back.

They work the perimeter.

Wideman is on the left point now.  Ovie on the right.

They work it to the muzzle. But they can’t bat it.


One minute gone.

Subban takes a Laich mistake and helps clear it. Bourque is on the PK.  And he’s earned it.  Unlike Cammalleri whose PK time was wheedled in meetings with the coach.

What a guy.

Ten minutes.

Neuvirth nearly gives one up to Eller.  Survives.

One fifteen.

They set up.  Right point.  Ovie. Blasts. And it skittles in.

Ovie raises his arms and asks his mates something, unsmiling.  They concur.

Washington 3, Montreal 0

The rest of the period is a wash.  The team is missing ten millions dollars of players and what are you supposed to do.

Second Intermission
Washington 3, Montreal 0

Absence de Markov.  Yep.

Hawks lead the Sabres 4-2. There will be no trade of Ryan Miller.

The Hall accident is shown.  Alain asks if helmets should be worn during the warm-ups?  Damphousse says that he was with the Oilers, the days of Sather, there was an arrogance, they practiced, full practices, without helmets.  The only team that did so.

Brunet says that it’s nice, the crowd sees you, the show, and all that.  But when you get older, you start to think differently. He manages to make both Damphousse and Crete laugh and I gaze at the orange papers amongst the white.  Crete’s laptop, silver, is an Apple product.

It’s obvious.  And one day we won’t even have mouths unprotected.

Chara and Alfredsson were named captains.  The All-Star game in Ottawa.  Chara is a former Sen. Alfredsson is the current captain.  So.  Makes sense?

Jeff Halpern’s 59.8 faceoff rate is second on the Caps to Jason Chimera’s 61.5 but is up from his 55 rate with Montreal. I wonder if he’s getting kicked out from the circle as much.  His 391 draws ranks fourth on the team.  Chimera has only taken 26.

Third Period
Washington 3, Montreal 0

Three goals in one period.  Neuvirth is decent and the Caps seem determined to start.

Montreal ices to avoid damage on Caps first entry.

Gomez montage.

Some good work.  Shooting more.  Skating to flutter the jersey and the Devil expression.  Can he get back while wearing the horseshoe?

Montreal’s C is in horseshoe shape.  The H is for Hockey.

And the A is for Alternate.

Two minutes gone.

Darche chases.  Shoulders a man.  Darche.  Digging.  Opening.  Diaz misses.  Delayed call.

Walkom signals the call and gestures.

Blood.  Darche is hand open and demonstrating. Erskine hit him on two occasions on the same sequence.  Second tick caused the blood.

So, six minutes total.  Roughing.  Plus the high stick.  Unusual.  And the kind of reffing we need more of.  Regardless of whether Montreal profits or not.  Strict reffing means better hockey.  Once players adjust and they always do.

Six minutes. With three minutes gone in the third.  Great opportunity.  But the Canadiens have not been a team of opportunity. Forget destiny.

One blundered sequence.

A second.

Subban drives in, brakes and to the right.  A pass.  To the left point.

Interception, Diaz.

Price plays it.

Subban. Long pass to Cole on the right.

Cole to the net.  Neuvirth drops it.  No sticks reply.

Plekanec in the circles.  To the hash. Drops for Subban. Back to Plekanec.  Gomez under the end line.  Back to Plekanec.  Subban recovers it at the blue.  Wild drive. Into skates.

Plekanec finds it.  To Cole.  Crease pass. No.

They retreat.  And back in.

But a whistle.

Second unit.  Desharnais. Pacioretty.  Cole on the bench, separated from his usual linemates.

Weber pass is off the mark. Two-on-one results.

Pacioretty saves it as the return pass is demolished by a swift and bumping Pacioretty.  Brouwer had the chance.

Pacioretty loses it as he discovers the all is against him.

Debatable call.  Did the puck hit the stick?  Seemed it.  Pacioretty yells “Are you fucking kidding me?” and swings his stick into the end boards.

Four on four, regardless.

There will be two more minutes of man-advantage to follow.

Bourque and Plekanec. Under the end line.  Subban keeps, and turn his back to stave off.   Sends it down.  Now he’s past the hash and moving, fancy, and the effect is worth it. Neuvirth needs to strap down and hang on.  Whistle as the puck slows in his crease.

Subban can keep it away from guys better than most.  He’s still rough around the edges with his moves and timing but the prodigious talent is there.  He’s improving.

Four on four continues.  One Cap rush.  Gomez carries. Dribble-drabble and then the long shot.  A man falls.  Neuvirth is in trouble.   But the puck can’t be had.


Thirty-three seconds in the four on four.  Gomez expresses frustration as he takes a seat on the bench.

Plekanec, Eller and Desharnais.

Wrong players on the ice.

Carlson has to reruns.

They’re all friends here, the official shares a smile with the defender. Natick, MA.

The Boston flavour?  Or just a guy we like?

Hunter is show. He certainly looks different.  Reminds me of a French principal.

Kind of looks like Yvon.

Pednault. It’s a stretch.  It’s the hair.

One minute of man advantage. .

Weber and Kaberle.

They move it.

Lots of waiting and nobody shoots when they get it.

Too many passers.

Finally Weber decides to shoot.

Left point.  Shot-pass.  Plekanec fails on the doorstep.

I listen for the boos.  Short.   Light.

It ends.

Chimera.  Left side. Keeps. Two-on-one.  Shoots.  Price. Absorbs it.

Plekanec’ stick broke on the door-swinger.  Desharnais’ pass had too much on it says Denis.


Ten and forty.

Ovechkin is called.

He doesn’t like it.  He’s arguing. Pointing upward.

Ref won’t have it.  No smiling this time. Ovie is smiling slightly as he applies that charisma.

Subban’s shot.  Neuvirth covers.

This unit is not working.  Subban leaves his spot and dancing left and right is into the slot, everyone watching.  And nothing comes of it.

Desharnais. To the end line.  Pacioretty.  Draws outward.  Shoots.  Off something.

Seventy seconds.

Faceoff to Neuvirth’s left.

Subban to the bench.

Big arc spit onto the ice.

Nine and a half.

Gomez.  Under the end line. To the right point.  Shot.  Legs.

Now it’s lost to Gomez. Hamrlik golfs it down.

Forty seconds.  Subban again.

Gomez.  Stopped.

Power-play is so bad. Booing begins.
Subban. To Kostitsyn

And suddenly Eller is in the muzzle shooting. Sweeper.  Stopped.


Lost draw deep left.  Cleared.  Price handles it. To his right.  Dropped for Subban.  Ovie is back.  Montreal enter offside.

Viewer question.  Can Ovie get his touch back and lead his team through the playoffs?  Denis says, yes.  He’s working hard.  Cites the teammates.  Based on what he’s seen tonight, Denis feels the Washington captain is motivated.  And can do it.  Someone else should wear the C though.  Laich.

Eight oh five.

Eller.  Through a crowd after a move.  No.

Seven forty.

Somehow this feels like a night for miracles.  I feel nothing.  But it’s the when and the if.

Not always the how.

Seven twelve.

Carlson fires it over the net. Washington has blocked 20 shots to Montréal’s thirteen.

Desharnais.  Over the line. Brakes.  Shoots.  Open net and Darche misses it.  Weber shoots.  Blocked.  Too many blocked shots.

To the net.  Neuvirth is into his crossbar.

Hit by his own man. Shaken up.  Gathers himself. Two bottles, yellow lie discarded.      Hendricks.

Hendricks whacked Blunden. Darche shoved him into his goalie.

Darche and Desharnais discuss something.  Can’t tell if it’s in French.
Six and nineteen.

Plekanec, Kostitsyn and Moen.

New line?  Or a late change?

Gomez is on.  Kostitsyn takes a pass from him and leaves.

Five and a half.

Bourque, Gomez.  Cole.

To the net.  Bourque nearly deflects one in from the crease.

Holds it.

A decent third period but the two bad goals are haunting.  And the failed power-plays.  Price makes a stop and reveals he’s playing in pain as he skates out and then back into his crease favouring a joint or his left arm.  Winces.

They drop the puck.

Four and fifteen.

Subban.  Big shot.  Pop-up rebound.  A stick swing.  No goal.

Subban bumps Ovechkin on entry.  Ovie spins, skitters and then loses balance.

Habs return. Three and a half.

Emelin blams Halpern.  Interference.

Fair call.  Halpern was a cotton-sack off the back boards.  Cunneyworth accepts it but licks a lip in concern.  And some frustration and worry show.  He’s not one to hide his feelings.

Johansson is in pain and leaves the ice. We’ve wasted a lot of time thinking about and watching him tonight.  He’s been of little use.

Two and twenty.

Washington power-play is uncommitted.

Ninety seconds come and go.

Finally Brouwer decides he’s had enough and carries in with quick stickhandling and fire under his blades.  Results in a shot that Price scoops up.

Johansson is ok.  He’s 21 and from Sweden.   Don’t know his game.

Ninety seconds in the period.  Under ten in the penalty

Back to fives.

One leather-barrel boo.

And the teams resume basic hockey activity.

Neutral zone stoppage.

Halpern’s time was short and his imprint not even considered.

Smolinski comes to mind.  Another smart player.

I’d take Smolinski over Gionta.   Use the remaining money for something else.  Or someone.  Else.

Time runs out.

Crowd is quiet.  Siren.  Some booing.  Mild.

Another loss.  This one by shutout.

Let the suffering continue.

Final Score
Washington 3
Montreal 0

In his way, Dale Hunter comes to haunt the Canadiens again, says Houde.

HDS Stars: Michal Neuvirth, Roman Hamrlik, PK Subban,
RDS Stars: Michal Neuvirth, Alexander Ovechkin, Mathieu Perreault

Reseau interviewed Ovie and we’re shown much of it.  He doesn’t respond to the Russian-language close-out in the smiling way I thought he might.  He seems sad or depressed.  Perhaps both.  He’s not having fun.  And someone or several someones can be blamed.  Tell him to be Ovie.  Anything else is not on.  This league doesn’t deserve him.  And he’s been affected.

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