March 5th, 2010, 8:50 am
I’m not sure what I expected last night when I went to the Canadiens game. I always try to see the Original Six teams when I can, there’s just so much history. I’m reminded of that one episode of the Simpsons where they sent Bart to military school, and the school’s motto is “A Tradition of Heritage”. Anyway, I just re-read The Game by Ken Dryden, and I agree with the blurb on the cover- it’s the best hockey book ever written. You get some great writing about day-to-day stuff of the Canadiens in the 70s, with some really excellent portraints of some of the players on that team. These are guys as hockey fans we know, but not because we remember them as players. Jacques Lemaire, Bob Gainey, Guy Lafleur, Mario Tremblay, Larry Robinson. The team of Béliveau (one of my all time favorites), Richard, Geoffiron, et al, is still a little something special, despite the fact that they haven’t won a Cup since ’93 and haven’t really been in contention for a while (#1 seed notwithstanding).
The big knock against the Habs this year is how small they are. They went out and got Mike Cammaleri, Brian Gionta, and Scott Gomez, giants none. The only giant they have is Hal Gill, a 6’7 behemoth, but he gets knocked a lot for being too slow. Think Alexei Semenov with bad ankles. Damn, I told myself I was done with Semenov cracks. Guess I need to take a new sobriety date.
There was a ton of extracurricular activity last night, lots of face-washing, pushing and shoving, and general nasty jabbering. No fights broke out- both teams have jettisoned their resident enforcers. We saw Tomas Plekanec get into a couple of altercations after some questionable play against Thornton and Marleau, then get decked by Heatley in the 3rd. We saw Nichol injured after getting run from behind into the boards without a call. We saw Josh Gorges (who almost led Montreal in ice time (!)) and Thornton trading a little bit of something. And we saw a beleageured goalie, Cary Price, stand on his friggin’ head for much of the game. The Sharks scored their second goal on their 35th shot. No NHL team averages 35 shots per game.
But now we know why he is beleageured. It wasn’t enough, and the Sharks turned a 2-1 third period deficit into a 3-2 victory on goals by Heatley and Malhotra. If you were looking at the box score very quickly, you might say that Price managed to cough up another one, but really he kept them in it for much of the game. Well, his friend The Post helped as well. Boyle hit the bar on a penalty shot after Hal Gill somehow accidentally-on-pupose threw Price’s errant goalie stick into his path. Then Heatley hit the post again less than a minute later on one of his signature one-timers. Those shots go in, or one of the other 30-odd shots go in, and the Sharks win going away.
I was a little surprised at the Habs’ pluck, but I suppose they are trying to make the playoffs. It turned into another test for the Sharks, and unlike the game against the Devils, it was a test they passed.
Update: Here’s the Lapierre hit on Nichol. I’m even more jazzed up about it after hearing Ray Ferraro rant.