Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
February 8, 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 (20-24-9) host Pittsburgh Penguins (30-19-4)
Sunday, February 7th, 2012 (Matinee)
Game Fifty-Four (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)
Patrick Elias’ recent dirty hit on Michael Blunden resulted in a $2500 fine. Worse, Blunden’s knee was damaged and requires surgery. We’re shown the Devilish work, last Wednesday’s loss at Brendan Byrne. (Yeah, yeah)
Sidney Crosby won’t be playing tonight though it’s believed what was initially thought to be a concussion is actually a neck injury.
In his stead, Evgeni Malkin has led the Penguins on the scoresheet; his 61 league-leading points coming in only 46 games, fewer than any other player in the top fifteen.
Malkin remains, whether Crosby is healthy or not, the best Penguin since Mario Lemieux.
Pierre Houde, tieless, top button undone, interviews Dan Bylsma.
Bland answers to softball questions. The Pittsburgh coach says that Malkin has stepped up as a leader in a way they haven’t seen before. He cites Malkin’s speaking up in the dressing room and with the media. He says this last with a smile.
Patrick Holland, the throw-in in the Bourque-Cammalleri deal is interviewed. He makes a good impression; genuine, thoughtful and humble. He says “a more realistic goal [next season] would be to play for Hamilton [Bulldogs, Canadiens AHL affiliate].
He’s tabbed a skill player and a player people in Montreal would appreciate. Some pleasant suit dude says it adding that Holland is a very dynamic offensive player. I dunno; the coach? The manager? I was cruising team goals for-against differentials.
The appreciated skill player.
Amusing. Unskilled players don’t get as much traction in the other pro leagues, eh? None.
They’re lauded here. In your National Hockey League. (One of the league’s more mean-spirited nicknames floats through my head … HNIC … you figure it out; I didn’t coin it. But I laughed.)
It’s the “H”.
The Mechant Mardi lead-up features the usual weak music but some new token shots of black people leaving the subway. The band is all white, though.
But that’s ok. Anglophones and other minorities have no idea how much more difficult it is to be Francophone in Montreal than it is to be of differing cultural backgrounds. Right?
Reseau remains one of the best sports television outfits world-wide, however. They’re overloaded with intelligent journalists and many thoughtful ex-player analysts. I’m happy they’re so good at what they do.
The few knuckleheads have all grown over the years with perhaps only one exception.
And they should also stop inviting Bertrand Raymond. Yes, he’s mellowed but he’s still too palpably pro-Franco.
Maybe I should just be glad that Peladeau doesn’t own The Team.
He’s still lurking about, though. Not much nice can be said about him. Too bad.
Black people are fine as long as they don’t take any starring roles. Or play guitar.
Long way to go, Canuckistan. Long way to go.
The anthem again. Insipid again. Charles does his usual powerful job. Reseau is merciful and we catch only the final two, three lines.
The Dolby X sound. Silly.
Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price are the goalies. Viard. Almost typed Patrick Roy.
Marc Joannette and Dennis LaRue are the refs.
Lost faceoff. Gomez. Kostitsyn and Pacioretty are the wingers.
Why break up Cole and Pacioretty? Oh boy. Here we go.
Cunneyworth has aged quickly in two months. Or is he wearing less makeup?
Thirty seconds gone.
He never wore make-up. Cunneyworth is a salt and Phillips kinda guy. I like him.
Good coach? I couldn’t tell you.
Lines change. Plekanec, Moen and Darche. Moen is back, then. Fine.
Malkin. Curves through circles. Pass o Letang on the right corner, advancing. Coverage is there, pace is languid. Puck floats around the perimeter. And then is iced.
Malkin returns to the bench.
Faceoff to Price’s left.
Plekanec wins it. Subban, underneath, whips it around. McDonald has it. McDonald?
I knew I should have updated my Excel Pittsburgh roster.
Sullivan. Around the net. Emerges. Backhander. Price is butterfly low and clam. Rebound. Absorbed. Cleared out. Touched. Icing.
Who had Sullivan?
Faceoff. Off the post. Rebound, big V. Another shot. Price, low, doesn’t see it right away. But it’s a harmless vector.
Three minutes gone.
Who’s McDonald? That better not be Andy McDonald. Gad.
Leblanc turns and fires into the open maw. Big chance but the puck is off the mark.
Crowd rises but no twinkling.
Oh. Colin McDonald. Fine.
He’s played six NHL games and is twenty-seven. You’re a journeyman if you have so few pro (pro-pro) games this late; post-25 years of age, I mean. Four of those six games are with this year’s Penguins. He had two with the Oil in 09-10. One goal in those two games. Nothing in his four with Pens.
Finally the Canadiens pressure. No comma.
Plekanec’ line. Subban supporting. Stoppage. Fleury examines his equipment.
The average moke hates car commercials, too. So it may seem.
Thirteen minutes in the first.
McDonald is skating right side. Sullivan is offside. Houde says McDonald’s hesitation caused it.
Sullivan is back on the bench.
Eller. From Bourque. Around the boards. Lost.
Penguins rush. Two men. Bourque gets back. Good speed. Turns and skates backward parallel to a Montreal defenceman. Nice work. Rush fails.
Letang moves it out and then turns it over on a long pass.
The great Kristopher Letang.
Here he comes. Mid-length pass to James Neal in the slot is too far. Habs send it along and dump it in for changes.
Malkin is low, leaning and menacing. His shift ends in mid-ice and he swipes weakly and leaves.
Price stops a weak shot but one that bounced in the slot off Kaberle’s stick.
Ten and a half.
Gill to the cage. Puck to the corner. Gill can relax. Montréal forwards do the work and move it out.
Subban rush follows. A choice and an advance. Shot. Tricky save.
Canadiens can’t contain.
Puck volleys. And now Cole intercepts on the left point. Quick pass to Desharnais. Penguins about. Stick on stick. Thrust parried.
Nine oh seven.
Behind the Montreal net. Price is low. Back up. Low again. Bending. Craning. Canadiens close to it. And it’s out.
Lines change. Leblanc for Montreal. Bourque. Desharnais.
Puck stays on the perimeters. Pace notches up one. On a dial of forty, say. Crowd cohesion increase. It’s more one full noise rather than serial stork cacks.
Adbusters seems a bit more stark today. A bit more wolf’s teeth bared. Or is that Scrooge.
Marc Denis says that Bylsma is close to his players but demands a lot. Calls him a good communicator.
Dupuis could be Rivet’s cousin.
Pacioretty finds Leblanc. Whoosh and space, right side. Shot. Stopped. No rebound, Penguins are there.
Darche. Bourque. They cross. Offside. Two boo echoes. And Gill gazes up at the score clock for the replay.
Hey. Choose your sponsors more wisely.
The great group-on. Ethics fumbled.
Gomez. Pacioretty. Pressure. Emelin advances. Turning golf shot works. Lines change after eight seconds of swerve and hope.
Plekanec line continues the good work. Moen. On the boards. Skips and picks one up. Drops and continues. He’s sprightly tonight. And we expected as much. He’s been off for a while.
Fleury stops a shot and Neal is there to pick it up. And drop it off.
Four Habs. Three Pens back. Slowed at the point. The flow. But the puck doesn’t follow.
Another rush. Cole. Turning with a man and then the shove-puck. Fleury stops it.
One goal and he’s a foal. Skittish.
Long Montreal puck. Icing.
Cole shakes his head on the bench. The Cole arm-around is shown. Niskanen was beaten but maintained position. Standing up, his body was the torque-twister that Cole couldn’t bend.
Mat Cooke. Chases it into the corner. Jeffrey with him. Cooke has been well-behaved since his promise.
Pens are in. Malkin. ON man. Two. A third. Too much company and the puck is lost.
Montreal is very good at singling one player and neutralizing him. In last week’s 3-0 loss to Washington, Ovechkin was held to one shot.
So. Teams are not a single player, eh.
Tell that to the poster-makers. What happens when the star is injured?
Promote logos and team identities. Not single stars. It’s more long-term, maybe a bit more work and imagination. But, listen you fearful money-makers … it will save you money. It will make you money.
Montreal Moneymakers 0, Pittsburgh Penny-Pinchers 0
Alain references yesterday’s Edmonton Oiler-Toronto Maple Leaf game. Two methods of rebuilding a team were compared using the Oilers and Leafs as examples; ten Leaf players acquired through trades and ten Oilers acquired through the draft. Both teams have had 11-12 success and Alain asks Vincent Damphousse and Benoit Brunet which way is best.
Either can work, I’ll venture. It depends on the players involved. And that; depends on the savvy of the drafters or traders in question. Be smart. And you can do whatever you want. Build through the draft. Through trades. Or the third unmentioned option; through ongoing player development. Good coaching.
This guy finds Bud Lite commercials irritating. Or one in particular. He calls his site Kilter. I like it.
Pittsburgh Pounds 0, Montreal Moola 0
Fleury leaves his net and casually brooms the puck onto Montreal sticks under the end line. Fortunate he was that Montreal didn’t find a slot receiver. (Yoda will you be)
Two minutes gone.
Bylsma, arms folded, talks to his boys as they leave the ice and take seats.
Rene Bourque sticks up for his teammate. Eller knocked Fleury over, a side-swipe consequence in an end-line puck-chase. Eller goes. Nobody else. Little more than shoving, words and stares.
Malkin, Kunitz and Neal on the first wave. Letang and Sullivan on the blue.
First chance is Montreal’s. Three on one. Plekanec. Left side. Shot. Stop. Darche. Another stop. Closed door and ice-level pucks.
Three on one. Oy.
Bourque and Moen on the rush now. Two on two. Offside entry.
Letang is talking with Joannette. Keeps talking. Not happy with what he’s hearing.
His sense of entitlement is always galling.
Martin takes a puck after the faceoff. Cooke on, too?
Plekanec. Rush. Turnaround shot. This one is more dangerous but also stays out.
And again, Plekanec. Left side. A move and through two, turns in the slot after the swath and his shot is stopped. Bourque follows … no.
Fleury holds on.
You’re no all-star, buddy.
Eller on briefly.
Leblanc leaves, too. Subban carries. To the circles and stops. Turns. Kept in.
Cole on the other side. Banged to the boards. Pass is complete to the point anyway.
Gill’s shot is stopped and held at the crease. No rebound. Fleury saw it all the way and no deflectors could close to it first.
Gomez. Under the end line.
A lot of physicality in the Pen crease. And no calls. A clear baseball swat-slash. Ugly. By a Pen. Either Martin or Niskanen.
Action flows to the other end and Price drops low to hold on.
Photoshop should be illegal for advertising use. Or at least come with a disclaimer. Yes? Blame Julia. Julia who? Who?
Off the draw, the crowd groans and aahs. Carey slides. And the puck stays out. Habs rush.
Penalty. Plekanec. Slashing. He shakes his head and utters an epithet. There’s always (usually) history with these whacks and whicks.
First unit for Pittsburgh. Neal, Malkin and Kunitz.
Letang and Sullivan on the blue.
They get better control.
One long shot. Back to the blue. And again. Danger. But Price is low and across. A bit slow. Shot missed the net. And, a pause, and it was across. Price didn’t get the skate anchored quickly enough but the shot was slow in coming and the push left was enough.
How much bigger are goalies going to be in 2037? They look small enough in seventies footage. Smaller still in the fifties.
Emelin is free. Penalty expires. Emelin. All alone. Accelerates. Tires a move. Can’t slide it over. And it’s lost.
Price fell after clearing the puck on the low circle. Subban and a rice explosion of snow and sticks. The crease and the calm.
Goalie back in the net.
Orpik and Cole tangle under the Pen end line. Michalek with some stang and slap. Stick to the upper body is uncalled.
It’s a moment only and the action doesn’t stay ragged
Space. Past his man. Shot. Over the glove.
A big goal. And he raises his stick in triumph.
I don’t think he’s a native French speaker. The crowd reacts differently. They’re loud. And proud.
Montreal 1, Pittsburgh 0
Letang wants a holding the stick call. Spreads his arms questioningly.
Frustration levels will rise.
Moen forechecks. Forces an interception. Poor pass and Plekanec steps in front. Fires. Another puck stays out. And out of play.
Now James Neal is in the box. Got his revenge on Plekanec.
Desharnais. Phone booth. Waiting. To the right point. Lost. Kaberle and Subban carry it across. They both chase.
Kaberle’s work results in a puck.
Subban blast. Just off the mark. Deflected.
Price authors a mishap. Has to skate back quickly.
Puck stays out.
Penguins kill the rest of it.
Cooke. Beats Weber to the puck. Tries a pass to the hash. Missed.
Letang looks over, justified.
Gomez is annoyed.
Letang’s whining. Effective.
“Georgie and Soobie”. Ladouceur discusses the team’s doings with Marc Denis by the bench.
Let’s just dispense with the in-game coach interview. There’s nothing in it for any of us.
Gorges blocks a shot. An immediate second block.
One of the best in the league, says Houde.
Puck is cleared. Eller and Bourque up top. Eller to the hash. Finds and clears.
Cooke, Malkin and Niskanen. Niskanen has the stick of silver. Left, right, high elbows keep-away.
But the best chance is Bourque’s. The puck is taken from Niskanen and Bourque finishes with a slot shot, snow spraying and crowd squealing and roar. You can add the “ing” if you like, sure.
Two minutes left in the second.
Campoli. To Desharnais. Right side. Across the ice. Now Fleury topple-leg-rolls. And the puck stays out. Star’s minaret save on Cole. A certain goal. A spectacular save.
One and ten.
Pens look as tired as they did in the first.
Teams take Montreal lightly. And the effort is hard to find late in the second. Now, isn’t it. For any team. Turn-it-on-turn-it-off hockey never works. Ok, rarely.
The firewagon Oilers come to mind.
One of the few exceptions. Can’t be done today, I’d venture.
Letang looks for animosity. Sees Leblanc at the end of his arms and shoves again. Gauge and then shove. That’s Letang’s game.
Like a lineman that picks fights with blocking backs. And avoids guards and tackles.
Montreal led on shots 14-11.
Montreal 1, Pittsburgh 0
Leblanc’s goal replay is shown. This time he showed emotion. Bellow and roar. Express it, kid. We’re happy to see it.
Alain says that Fleury is having an outstanding season but struggles against the Canadiens. I half-agree with him. First time I’ve even mildly disagreed with him.
Fleury is at 0.912 with two shutouts. Tonight, he’s had some good work and one possibly great, possibly fortunate save.
That save percentage ranks Fleury 16th amongst goalies that’ve started at least 30 games. Not too impressive. Less so when one considers the Penguins rank tenth in the league with 30 wins in 53 tries. They are highly-ranked despite Fleury’s work. Not because of it.
James Neal leads the league in shots. Malkin is second. Damphousse uses these numbers to illustrate Plekanec and Darche’s good first period work; zero shots for the Penguin first line. And not much more in the second, he adds (no numbers this time).
Reseau loses their audio feed for a few moments and I panic. Is another aspect of my (recently) precarious domestic life about to collapse?
A channel change confirms it. The other channels work. Carry on, my demons.
Montreal is 18 of 18 in their last five home games. On the penalty-kill.
That’s something significant to build on. It speaks to Montreal’s ability and under-achievement. Under-achieving?
Montreal 1, Pittsburgh 0
Um. Yeah. That’s ranked last in the league.
There’s this guy. I won’t say it. There’s this guy. He doesn’t play on the PK. But he plays on the power-play.
I’ll just not say it.
The internet is saying it enough. Isn’t it?
Vitale. Right side. Weird release. Nearly ninety degrees. And it goes in.
Cunneyworth’s expression evokes a twinge and real fear.
I’m reminded of the importance of the situation.
Cunneyworth is infuriated. But he’s keeping it in. Nods to a player, says yeah.
Off a skate. Just a crease-whip shot. Nothing to it. And off the skate.
Was it purposeful? One angle seems a yes.
Dupuis looks guilty.
Forget all of it.
Montreal 1, Pittsburgh 1
We can’t let this go. My jaw tightens in near-Cunneyworth fashion. Mine is more Barney Rubble. A skinny, tanned Barney Rubble.
About forty in the penalty.
Subban. Across for Kovalev. Misses.
I meant Bourque.
This power-play needs Kovalev and Markov.
Darche around the net. Taken down. No call.
Eighties-style. When has the NHL ever been taken seriously?
No-calls, brawling and one logical fallacy after another.
Eller. Long shot.
Fleury blows it. Where is it?
Just a missed long shot. Just past his left pad.
Really ugly. He should have had it. And we continue to love MA Fleury in this misty cave.
Montreal 2, Pittsburgh 1
Crowd is back in it.
Montreal ice. Montreal is alive.
There are enough men who want it. And the rest won’t dare blow it.
The hiders won’t seek. But I’m watching.
Off the left post, off Fleury’s back and then into the net. That’s why it disappeared for an instant.
Letang tries a fake and a move around the right side. The shot. Stays out.
Cooke to the net. Price’s leg across.
Bourque heads to the bench while I mourn Kovalev (the number, it’s the number …. it’s the number). Bourque is bumped off course by an emerging Penguin. Each goes his own way.
Darche on the boards. Around the boards. Moen. To the right point for Emelin. Shot down the boards. Plekanec after it. Can’t capt it.
Six minutes gone.
Adams from the neutral zone. Bips it a bit long for himself.
Three red forwards flow in. The Cole line.
Vitale is moved off the puck and then he separated Craig Adams from the puck. Adams uses his stick and bumples Cole who’s on his knees retrieving a lost stick.
Fleury has been allowed to regains some comfort.
Montreal needed to shoot soon after the goal. But the opportunities didn’t come. And an Ante-Chambre remark (possibly Damphousse) recurs; the team is trying too much for he perfect play. There are times this is true.
And Neal finds the net.
Malkin backhanded it into the slot. And off Plekanec’ stick, it finds Neal in the circles. And his immediate shot is over the left shoulder.
Penguins are an ordinary quality team feeling confident. I see such a difference from our own.
Confidence is an absence of fear.
I’m confident I can hit the mute button, for example.
And buy the brand-less bleach of my choosing.
Eleven oh four.
There isn’t much separating Montreal from this Pittsburgh team. Maybe nothing. And on paper, Montreal is better.
So. Why the disparity? Why is one in tenth and the other in 29th (and we deserve 30th)?
Several answers. And a decline in hockey esteem.
Mistakes up and down all levels of the building. But several good moves and moments, too.
It’s all rather difficult. Let them play their way out of it. Coach their way out of it. The chief toxin is gone. Things will improve.
Eight and a half.
Kostitsyn. Pacioretty. Left side. Gomez lower. His support is solid. And so is his backchecking.
Now he goes to the net. He deserves better. He’s been playing well. And that’s all he can do.
Outcomes don’t always follow process.
Montreal begins carrying the pace.
Six and a half. Plekanec chases a puck down, whams a man and stickhandles briefly. Pittsburgh coverage does enough to remove the puck.
But Montreal is back.
Great skating and spirit from the Canadiens. Leblanc saves a puck from an own-error turnover.
Bourque is not forechecking with enough gusto. Gets close to the man. Skates near him. Reminds me of your Cadillac buddy.
The little Cadillac.
Finally Pittsburgh is called. Neal.
Neal has all the entitlement of the Ontario player. You know which kind.
He’s in the box and Joannette won’t hear any of it.
Kaberle with a misfired pass to the opposite corner. Left point shot. It’s out.
Now Pacioretty is open. Shot. Wide.
Michalek is shown getting dumped by Cole. Crosscheck. No call. Missed. Risky.
One minute. Deep left.
Pens win it. Clear.
Don’t follow me on Twitter.
Two and fifteen.
Teams get cautious. Subban ends that with an abrupt rush to centre ice. He brakes and dumps it down.
Eller eliminates a Malkin entry. Great play. Now he sends it to Bourque.
Eller is playing better hockey again. He lost his work ethic for several games. But he seems back these past two, three games.
Four goals in one game could have a lasting effect. Sure.
Long puck. Price reaches. And nabs it.
Bouncer. Off the ice. Trick-puck.
Two-two but only one real goalie.
The other one is pretend.
Subban lobs it high. Very high.
And Michalek carries and then turns back.
Yellow. And white. And black.
Pens led 9-3 on shots and 31-27, overall.
Montreal 2, Pittsburgh 2
Five minutes of four-on-four.
Driving a car is unethical. Maybe there are some exceptions. Hey. Smoking was considered sophisticated and healthy once.
Desharnais. Around the net. Shot. And then the big opening. And the big shot. And it’s over the net. Oh, the Desharnais special failed. I can’t believe it.
(That is why we fail)
Eller. Shoved down by Letang. No call. He’s mister brave.
Desharnais watches the replay of his missed goal. Rues the high shot. Subban one-timer off a corner pass. Huge blast.
Rebound. Can’t be had.
Now Price is sliding too far out of his net, right. Follows the puck. Gets back to the net. Habs move it out.
Weber is down on the ice by the boards.
Nobody goes to see how he is.
Is that why Ante-Chambre folks bring him up in trade caveats? Do they know something?
He’s up. But only with help. He’s off to the trainer’s area. Two men help him along.
I wonder some more.
Wasn’t he one of the guys that complained about his ice time?
One oh three.
Left side entry. Letang. Shot is stopped.
Malkin now. Played by Subban and loses the puck. Gets support. And the puck is off Plekanec’ stick and into the right corner.
Neal. Another good shot, says Houde. From Neal. High. Gloved.
Price is so calm at times. And just ordinary calm at others.
Cunneyworth comes over. Talks with Darche. The others are listening.
Eighteen point three.
Cunneyworth instructs and follows with stern brows and duck chin. Tucks his throat.
Malkin tries to cross. Subban gets rough. Letang takes the time to get involved. His big chance. Not a fan?
Subban got rough. But Letang loved taking the role. First chance he got.
How very interesting.
Letang ran Subban in fact.
Gorges got right in there. Letang is showing who he is. For everyone. Surprised?
Not your scribe.
Advertising. Menace or threat?
Bourque. Scores. Wrister. Glove side.
Letang. To the slot. Slows, rubber-bands his legs. Deke. Right to left. Price the pad.
To the right point.
Tries a move and a deke and shows quicker hands than I’ve seen. Replay shows, it’s just wrists twisting. He was stopped.
Brakes. Turns. Backhand turnaround. And scores.
Best player in the world.
<insert something> <anything you want> <maybe a chortle>
Pause. Then the shot. Fleury gets the pad out.
Moves. More moves. Left to right. More moves. Too many moves. Shot is too far out. And too far left. Stopped.
Three and three are done.
Brakes and shoots. Quick brake and shoop-sparks of snow.
New guy. Number 16.
Price was beaten.
Fake. Shot. Scores.
Crowd loves it. Eller nods as he goes to the bench.
Didn’t look great but it worked.
Two of four. And three of five now.
Beats Price under the pads.
Through the legs.
Fake. Stick shove. Poked away.
Sullivan. Can win it.
Price. Beaten. But he’s a fallen door. And Sullivan can’t jam it in. Didn’t look up or he would have seen the opening.
Shot. Glove save.
Fleury leaves the net. Just for a break.
Off the post, a move in the slot and the wrister.
Plekanec. I start sweating. Just my fingers.
Turning as he crosses the blue. Sharp crescents. Left loop, right. Shot and the goal.
A move and curl. Loudest cheer. Been a while.
Wrister over the glove.
Williams. Price stops it.
He stops it.
Slot shot fake. And then the deke. Price got the pads across. And the pads were closed enough.
The low fives.
HDS Stars: Tomas Plekanec, Carey Price, Josh Gorges
RDS Stars: Tomas Plekanec, Louis Leblanc, Carey Price
Plekanec gives out the pucks. And then finds a corner and lobs up his stick.
Pittsburgh 2 (SO)
Two in a row. They’re back.
And so is your scribe.