The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

Montreal Canadiens vs. Washington Capitals

February 24, 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 (24-27-10) visit Washington Capitals (29-26-5)

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Game Sixty-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 23 minutes to read. More detailed than an article, fresher than a looping highlight and good with morning coffee. Or late-night veggie meatballs.  A unique way to re-experience the game.

click here to expand post (it looks prettier)

 

Michal Neuvirth and Carey Price are the goalies.

First Period

Stout David Desharnais wins the draw and a table hockey view sees the puck escape into Montreal ice where PK Subban scoops it around the boards to Max Pacioretty and the Canadiens are over the Washington blue.

Defenceman Chris Campoli with the long shot wide.  And he’s got it again and passes across for former Leaf (and Cane and Bruin) Tomas Kaberle.

Quiet start for both the players and spectators.

Montreal head coach Randy Cunneyworth is chin up and hockey worry etched mildly across his brow.

Faceoff to Price’s left.

Subban carries.

Montreal has gone 216 minutes without a goal against Washington.  Three shutouts.  It’s not 1978 anymore.

Price is across left, brakes and the puck is to the left point and fired again.

Whistle.

Neuvirth and newcomer Rene Bourque bump, Bourque’s skate catching the goalie’s leg behind his end line and the Caps go to a power-play.

Legit.  Accidental.

Washington power.

White and heroic Tomas Plekanec are up top, new pairing, Mathieu Darche is sick and formerly rugged Travis Moen remains out of the lineup.

Nokelainen is back and he’s on the second pairing with Lars Eller.

He’s out of position briefly and a right point shot causes a Price arm-raise even as the hot black thing thunders into the back boards.

The misunderstood and disliked (by a certain some) Alexander Ovechkin carries over the blue, a leaning move and the colours stay on his jersey even as an errant puck leaves his stick.

Forty seconds and Diaz clears on another dump-in attempt.

Thirty one seconds.

Montreal’s PK remains number one on the road.  Number one in the NHL.

Price freezes one.  Canadien Ryan White and Capital Troy Brouwer meet after the whistle, White murmuring a sage word.  No animosity.

Faceoff to Price’s right.  Petteri Nokelainen sees a centre leave the dot and wins the draw against a winger.

Penalty cools and with four gone, Bourque is back on the ice.

Slot pass. Crowd’s circus senses are alive and the puck stays off sticks long enough to fade the popcorn good cheer.

Capital defender Dmitry Orlov touches along Montréal puck and it’s icing.  His specialized caged face-guard evokes the old pee-wee CCM days.  For certain scribes.  And perhaps Dom Hasek.  Ok, Bob Sauvé, sure.

Subban traps the puck behind the Montreal net against two Caps and then forces it out with a kick, a shove and a twirl of the stick.

Ovechkin announces his return with a booming hit on Campoli and then he washes the ice with his exhaust.

He’s alone at the circle, the lauded Mike Green finds him and the backhander is an unusual muzzle shot stopped by a swashbuckling Price.

A lone fan decides to rise, fluttering rude hands against the corner glass.  He’s ignored.

Caps swirl.  Mathieu Perreault scores.  Backhander and another strange one-timer.  This one is past Price and falls in the net.

Perreault. Sure.  Sure, you did.

Two older fans share a double high-five and the red-coat crowd is simultaneously mollified and thrilled.

Washington 1, Montreal 0

Denis blames Montreal’s Tomas Kaberle for the goal against (Ed note: and after the game, Gaston shows the defenceman’s nonchalance on the play, his stick not even on the ice as he watches the cross-crease pass slide in front of him).

Desharnais line.  They slow the pace and control on the boards.  Point pass.  Kaberle from the right, shooting left.  Just wide but Neuvirth gloves it.

Hunter chews gum, arms folded.  Yes, Dale Hunter. He’s the coach now and he’s still intense.  A fuming, mature intensity, incubated during many good years behind the London Knights bench.  He won a Memorial and was an adroit general, besides.

Big Bad Billy’s Sweet William now.  Sweet grit and thoughtful chomp.

Orlov’s cage looks uncomfortable enough.  He’s wearing it to protect a broken and healing nose.

Broken is always a bit strong.  It never actually breaks off, five year-old’s sensibilities be damned.

Eleven minutes.

Montreal possession.

Long wrister.

Nokelainen doesn’t like the rough treatment and reacts with a strong shove.  Nobody reacts, notably Jay Beagle, and the Finn is left to look a tad foolish.

And it’s not “tad bit”.  It’s tad.  Just tad.

Montreal’s smooth-groove young defenceman Yanick Weber turns, receives, fires and receives … a check.  Caps set up.

Emelin interrupts.  Fires board-ward and it hops high and out of play.

Markov was on ice with his teammates this morning.  He’s shown in the press gallery, bald and suited.  To his left is Mathieu Darche.  They notice they’re on the screen and become a bit self-conscious.  And to their left?  The visage and shadow of monument; Bob Gainey.  Gainey is standing unlike his seated, uh, protégées?

Former players.  Gainey was the team’s general manager prior to Pierre Gauthier’s ongoing term.

Will Bob Gainey resume control of this great franchise, struggling though it is?

Don’t be shocked.

Markov is hopeful of playing a few games before this season ends.

Gomez applies a hit behind the Washington net.

It’s out again.  Out again.  Out again.  God lord.  Yes, “God lord”.

Johansson goes for a disc and is flipped into the air, cirque the soleil and fallen cap.

Subban should have been called, he slid at the circle-tops, legs across and only a couch could have helped the flailing, airborne Swede.

Houde and Denis say it was at the limit and cite Subban’s good fortune in avoiding the call.

Gainey doesn’t always accompany the team but when he does, his shrewd study and presence foreshadow moves both subtle and audacious.

Audace, comme on dit en Francais.

Montreal has blocked six shots to Washington’s zero.

And Gill flits across my dashboard.   Figuratively.

Six and a half.

Cole.  Right side.  Backhand pass.  Desharnais can’t’ reach it, covered as he is.

Long pucks and big spaces.  Capitals are playing a relaxed brand the visitors seem to dip to the level.

Another wanting first period.

Waiting for Gainey fills me with a kind of dread. It’s multi-faceted.  Hope that he’ll do well.  Fear that he’ll ultimately fail, sealing his enigmatic legacy as a Montreal GM.  He’s an intimidating presence and knowing he’s watching; that he’s around affects more than just players, more than just media members.  It affects fans. It affects literary goons.

He is equally intimidating in either language.  Maybe a bit more deliberate in French.  But intimidating nonetheless.

His job is not finished and I’m sure he feels that. He left, his heart not in it at the time but he may be re-energized.  And he hasn’t been far through his time away.

Three and a half.

Long Washington puck is called for icing.

Hunter allows a small gas-man smile, chewing his gum all the while.  Speaking of intimidating.

Green is casually magnificent, this time finding a scooting Halpern near the Montreal blue.  But he’s too casual on the fenced entry and rush response. Behind the play, he skates with no greater sense of urgency than if he were on the pond with his family.
That’s Mike Green.

Eller shoves at a puck with his stick.  The post quivers, Neuvirth is down but the disc stays out.

Ninety seconds.

End to end.  Not much better.

And then a whistle.

Neuvirth clears shavings and then readies with a relaxed glance at a timer closest his field of vision.

Another stoppage.

Nokelainen’s “upper body injury” and fourteen-game absence is noted.

Faceoff to Neuvirth’s right.  Halpern wins it against Gomez.

Halpern has it deep right.  Test Price.  Blue-collar play.

Habs are out.  Gomez pauses on the blue and turns and drops it down for Kostitsyn.

The team is Gainey-conscious, I fancy.

Siren goes. Puck was still in the Washington zone.

Caps led on shots 10-9.

First Intermission
Washington 1, Montreal 0

Caps are taking Montreal lightly.  Make them pay.

Second Period
Washington 1, Montreal 0

Nokelainen and youngling first-rounder Louis Leblanc combine deep.  Nokelainen’s return heralds a workmanlike approach and, for a shift, the team feels a bit more like it used to.  Shades of serious.  Shades of the Centennial team.

Another puck out of play.

And another Sunday game, we’re told.  Tomorrow night is game-less.

Eighteen left.

Gorges sends it down.  Kostitsyn stretches a stick, languid legs but the puck is redirected.

Perreault scoots down the right.  Loses it for all his caveboy shaking and effort.

Washington ice.  Men on either side.  Bourque’s backhander is from under the end line.  Through the crease and Gomez nearly pots it.  Great chance,  Bourque was trying anything, just get it on net or near a stick.  The Gomez follower was across the line.  A tantalizing skitter.

Caps are relaxing.  Poor passing and an absent forecheck allow another loose netting entry for Montréal.

Canadiens are playing equal parts nervous, careless and casual.

The pace is 1985.  I shake my head.  It’s too forking slow.  For players far too fast.

Tripping.  Montreal.

Emelin.

He shakes his own head, nearly imperceptibly.

Takes a seat in the chipped penalty box, two empty foldout chairs to his left.  Each has an ugly monogrammed towel draped over.

Price.  And I initially typed Pride.

Right to left.  What a save.  Tracked.  Ticked.  And topped.  The glove high, the legs in a sliding crouch.  Almost casual.

Fernandez always looked like he was running in near-effortless slow motion.  Until he blurred by the hapless defensive back.  BC boys of a type, both. One a Lion.  One an Anahim Lake native.

Montreal PK is active, sharp and a long roll of packing tape.  Around and around the cramped Capital box, this cardboard is not good enough.

Montreal should play short-handed all game.

Every game.

We’d win a few more.

Bourque has been a disappointment.  Kostitsyn, as well.  Campoli is in over his head.  And Gomez is without luck, adjustment capacity and missing his long-time linemate, Gionta.

As for the captain, a right-winger, he can be effective on a second line and is worth keeping.  Maybe with the right centre, he can find another life.

How about that Geoffrion kid?  We’ll find out by December.

Gionta is still out.  Geoffrion, a centre, is still in Hamilton after the recent trade with Nashville; the one that sent them Gill.  And brought the team the heir to the Morenz legacy.  He’s doing well; two goals and five assists in four games.

We won’t see it til 12-13.  The Gionta-Geoffrion pairing.  Well, maybe.  Probably.  Probably maybe.

Ovechkin can’t be fixed.  Not in Washington.

It’s sad.  And the NHL did nothing to help; too many cronies and anti-immigrants at all levels; media, management, promotional have been silent or overly critical.  It’s done nothing to enamour the Great Eight.  And his spirit has been tempered.

They have their chosen one, Crosby, a Maritime boy, and he’s stroked at every turn.  Not Ovie.  It makes a difference.

Chimera is free.  A stride.  A second.  The deke.  Price has it.  It’s under him.  And no.  And now.  It’s in.

Knees closed, he slides backard into the net.  And the puck appears under his legs.  And in the awful white.

Washington 2, Montreal 0

Capital entry.

One-timer.  Ovie.  Boom and the lights.

Offwing shot.  And the crowd smiles under lights.

Circle dot shot.

Price slid across a bit late.  Great move on entry by Johansson and the drop pass for Orlov led to an immediate smoothie to the left.

Washington 3, Montreal 0

Price leaves the net.  His night is done.  Budaj replaces him.  He’s the kind of guy who cements his place on the team off the ice.

Watch and you’ll see.

Wait.  Price is back.

Campoli is tripped.

Wideman.  Accidental as he reached into a lane and then across the legs with a stick. Campoli fell past the right hash in Washington ice.

First Montreal power-play.

Capitals’ tepid hockey gives hope despite the score.  They’ve become a bright-light for a moment team and they can be had.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  The Capitals signed Vokoun, the best goalie in the East, Halpern, a solid defensive centre and former Capital captain along with still-effective Roman Hamrlik, among other moves.  This was a team that could have won 54 games.  Instead they peck at eighth, ninth and sometimes better in the East standings.  And I can see why.

They’ve lost their leonine impulses.

And Ted hasn’t solved it.  Neither has George McPhee.

Montreal power-play struggles and then Cole is tagged for interference.

Leonsis.  Get it?  Ted Leonsis?  He’s the majority owner.  And his hair is black.  Very black.  Like, we’re talking my mother’s black.

Six and nineteen.

At least we can enjoy this nod to the past.  Montreal’s penalty-kill is the best in the league.

Ovie.  Weaving.  Around Eller.  And the low glass table-top slider skitters through legs, a diagonal through the low slot.

Harmless.

Still a lot of hockey to be played.  And two minutes for looking so good, Richard.

Price slides across now.  Shot doesn’t come.

Montreal breaks out.  A chance.  Covered.  Brakes and snow.

Penalty ends.

The action is even slower.

I watch and wait.  Who will show what we need?

Desharnais line plays as they always do.  Capitals, too.

But the team can’t retain.

Gomez line.

Ovechkin around the deep boards.  Looking.  Firing the pass. Intercepted.  Direct.

Canadiens skate down.  Bourque is taken down.  Stoppage.  Penalty. Green. Bourque has a few rare words.  Green responds.  He smiles.  He skates to the box.  His smile fades as he glides closer.

Is Bourque going to be a gentleman in Montreal?  If so, then we’re looking for more than 27 goals.

L’homme de Lac La Biche.

Call was a high stick; to the left of Neuvirth, Bourque was slow to rise.

Subban is called.  Holding.

Subban leaves the ice.

Oh the suffering of growth.

The Centennial swirl is gone, the clowns have swept the streets and the lingering cotton candy aroma is the only reminder.

It’s a Coney Island kind of beach cold.  And some of us haven’t left yet.

Should we?

We go to fours.

It’s a new generation.  A new team.  And this one has had one glorious run.  Minus some of the glory, sure.

Yeah, yeah.

And now the team needs to be restructured again.  So much happens in one year.  A season isn’t a chapter.  It’s three, sometimes four books.

Maybe that’s why it seems so odd that changes are needed so frequently.  It isn’t just the case here in Montreal.

Green leaves the box.  Under a minute.

Washington power.

White carries after taking a puck away.  Eller is deep supporting.
Caps can’t get set up.  Now a Semin entry.  Pulls back.  And it’s off his stick.  And it’s out.

Semin.  Looked at his stick. Denis noted it.

Why look at your stick?

Look in a mirror.

Montreal led on shots 10-9.  Tied overall, 19-19.

Second Intermission
Washington 3, Montreal 0

This time it’s not as bad as it seems.

But the scoreboard rules all.

And the clowns rule the HHOF admissions process.  So.

Silver is the only way out.

Meatballs. And sliced bread.

Good teams, meanwhile, keep playing.  And keep winning.  Vancouver highlights.  Against Devils. Of course, teams always look better in highlight format.

Maybe we should watch these games as brief montage collections.

Hmmm?

Third Period
Washington 3, Montreal 0

In Montreal, every game counts, every game is noticed.  Too bad certain players can’t live up to that.

Get some more that can.  And hang onto the ones who can longer.

Canadiens hit the post.  The sound of keys falling.

Oh, I dunno.  Car keys. Most valuable player cars.  Robinson.  Lafleur.  Drive them onto the ice.  Show them next to the hot dog ads in the program.

Wear ostentatious furs all the while.  While models snarl and go naked.

Subban is called.  His arms go lank in disappointment and frustration.

He shakes his head in the box.  Looks to his right.  Doesn’t get the support he wants. There’s nobody there.

Washington power.

Perreault is standing at the bench, talking, observing, very matter of fact.  What goals do to the verbal ambience.

Sit down.

The great Mathieu Perreault.

Ten goals in 42 games.  But against Montreal?  Two in three.  What a waste of our time.  Shows up for three, maybe four games a year.  And then he’s negligible for the rest.  I’m sick of it.  Franco heroes against Montreal.  Ordinary, the rest.

Here come the Habs.

Plekanec.  Brakes under the blue.  Across.  Ping-tong to the end-line.  Bourque finishes.  Neuvirth’s late toe is probably cold. Probably a bit snowy.

Washington 3, Montreal 1

Just under sixteen.

Another rush.  Plekanec.  Bourque on the right.  Plekanec keeps.  Shoots, the arms-in wrister.  And it’s turned away.

Ovechkin skates back to his bench looking as if he’s been asked to mow the lawn one too many times.

Cole line.  One-arm carry by the burly winger.  Around. Can’t find a man, then loses the puck.

Pacioretty loses a puck in the high slot and stands there; dejected and expecting a call.  Just skate, kid.

Ward and Campoli cross swords in the corner to Price’s right.

High stick is called.  It’s unrelated to the corner joust.  Kostitsyn was tripped earlier behind his net.

We see the replay of the Bourque goal and the congratulations that follow.  He keeps his head down throughout.  And that same inscrutable expression.

Montreal power.  Nokelainen.  Cole.

Quick shot from the right point.  And Neuvirth was fallen, apples rolling everywhere.

Caps hurly-burl and clear.

Another entry.

Desharnais.  Nokelainen is off now.  Cole line.

Laich dives to block a shot.  The one Cap who never stops.  He should be captain.  In a way, he is.

Young guys; young stars, really; should never be captains.  The C is for experience.  And leadership.  Not slogans and publicist tirades.  Actual leadership; the kind that others follow.  Without the glaze of the boardroom.

Ovie is great, yes.  But the C was a bad move.  As it was with Crob.  And Staal.  And so on.

It’s rare that your most talented player has the moxie for the third letter.

Power-play ends with no further threat.

Boy the Caps have a lot of owners.  Fifteen names join Leonsis’ in the media guide: Scott Brickman, Albert H. Cohen, Neil D. Cohen, Jack Davies, Richard Fairbank, Michelle DiFebo Freeman, Richard Kay, Jeong Kim, Mark D. Lerner, Roger Mody, Anthony Nader, Frederick Schaufeld, George Stamas, Earl Stafford, Cliff Whit.  And three vice chair-people.

Too many names above your own.  As a coach, there comes a day when one of those names won’t like you anymore.

And then the days are numbered.

Too many names.  Too many ideas.  How verbose is this group?

Ovie could be fine, sure.  He’s the franchise.  But listening to old-school, hard-boiled Canadian opinions on how to bring him along is a fool’s venture.  Just get the smart brains in the room.  Some will be Canadian, yes.  But they won’t be the Milbury-Cherry-Quinn types.

What number do numbered days start at?

Montreal power-play again.  Under eight.

Desharnais line is the first unit.

Cole dips, doodles and stumbles across the circles, puck on his stick all the while.  Kept in.  Around.  Desharnais at the phone booth.  Blue line.  Hot.  Neuvirth is down.  Called.  Goalie interference.

Cole.

He smiles and leaves the ice with neighbourly word of disagreement for the official.

That ugly penalty box.  And a monogrammed drink canister.  Green plastic.  One of those syrup and sugar-water companies.

You know the kind.  Canola oil finish.

Four on four.

Just under seven.

I remind myself of several unexpected Alouette and Concorde comebacks (ok, I expected them; I never thought we’d lose) and imagine the fleur de lis.  It’s blue and white.  With lilting greens and perhaps in a bowl with a lotus beside.  Sparkling water.

How small a hockey puck can be manufactured?

Ploonk!

Caps fail to fire the imagination and the penalty ends.

What an undeserving team.  What a difference from last season.

It was a mistake to fire Boudreau.  He was the right guy for this team.  And he wasn’t allowed to finish the job.

Too many firings.  Too many boardroom decisions.  Carpets and leather soles have nothing to do with sports.

Under four.

Nor recording good music.

David Lee Roth is right about the belt and shoe bit. You can tell.  The penny loafers.  The coffee slouch.  The knowing waiting room glance.

Execs.  They never got picked.  They never got smooched.  Then they run companies and countries into the ground.

Next!

“I don’t hate you because you’re fat.  You’re fat because I hate you.”

Three and ten.

Gomez.  Plekanec.  Kaberle low with Emelin.  They chase.

They work. They miss and they find.  Washington doesn’t care.

Does Hunter yell?  He should put the fear of Dale into each one.  Can you imagine not working hard for Dale Hunter?

Yes.  If you realise all he has left is a glare.

Two and a half.

Goalie is gone.  Nice timing.  I like the move.  Cunneyworth doesn’t let theory get in the way of winning.

Good decision.

Some would.  Some do.

Two long pucks.

Get desperate.

Caps keep shooting, now Laich from centre ice.  And it’s blocked.  Desharnais, possibly.

One line.

Give Plekanec two wingers for the sake of Pete.  Or Tomas.

Stoppage.  Ninety seconds.

Price returns.  At the circle tops and ready to leave again.

Interception.  Capital turnover.  But it’s touched high and the Plekanec interception is whistled.

Outside the blue.  One and twenty.

Won.  Price leaves.  Habs reset low.

They’re in.  Across.  Some moves.

And then Andrei Kostitsyn puts zero effort into keeping a puck in.  And the team is hearts melted and out.

They re-enter but with only forty-three seconds left.

And the rest drips away.  Hair dryer banal.

A long shot.  Joel Ward. A black dude.  With a, uh, non-black name.

Washington 4, Montreal 1

One more segment.

I dunno.  What’s a white name?  What’s a black name? Who invented the race myth?  Huh?

Who?

Who?

Period ends.

The Capitals are not going to represent.

Final Score
Washington 4
Montreal 1

HDS Stars: Brooks Laich, Josh Gorges, Carey Price
RDS Stars: Alexander Ovechkin, Michal Neuvirth, Jason Chimera

Work. It leads to play.

And where was Ovie?  Boudreau would know what to do.  Bring him back.

Too late.

Damphousse talks about “the flamingo”; when a player could block a shot.  But doesn’t.  The film shows Subban doing the flamingo on the Ovechkin goal.

Later, Bergeron wonders what a young player (say, Diaz or Emelin) might say when he calls his buddies; how does he explain the presence and ice time of the worst player in the NHL.  He’s talking about Scott Gomez.

I think about it.  Bergeron has been annoyed with Gomez for quite some time.

And then I realise it.  It’s like Ferragamo in 1981.  He started and played because he “had to”.  Because he had that huge contract.  Skalbania dangled money and the stars came up.  But they (there were others) couldn’t adapt to the significantly different game.  Ferragamo was a developing star in the NFL with the Rams.  In Montreal, he hit the wall immediately.  He finished with 25 interceptions to seven TDs.  While Gerry Dattilio, a Schenley winner in 1980, languished on the bench.

Gomez should go.  Sure.

Cunneyworth is ageing by the period.  He has even more age spots than last game.  And he looks a bit yellow.  This team is ageing him.  Poor man.  Certain players should be ashamed.  And should be gone.

Kostitsyn.  Bourque.  Gomez.  Moen.  Kaberle.  And Campoli (yes, he tries).

Budaj, too.

Gionta.  Bring him back.  Reduce his minutes.  Subban.  Coach him the hell up.  Pacioretty.  Keep grooming him.  He’s still progressing.

Maybe light a fire or two around Bourque.  One inferno.  One bonfire.  Give him til November.

It doesn’t take long.  The players run the show.  And they shouldn’t make more than the coaches.  The dynamic is a toxic fugue.  Coaches can’t last.  Back them up.  Pay them.  And don’t label them “interim”, to boot.

What a situation.

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