Friday, April 10, 2009

Turtle Invasion Hits Hub!

Who knew? When I left my house yesterday I thought I was going to watch a hockey game. Turns out, I stumbled across some bizarre turtle migration. The red-breasted, yellow-bellied turtle, known by it's common name "Montreal Canadiens", emerged from their hiding spots and flopped, balled up and made their distinct whiney mating cry all over the Garden ice. It was almost, I don't know....cute. I mean, who doesn't love seeing full-grown turtles doing their thing right? Alas, much to my chagrin, I was corrected and told that these "turtles" were in fact a real live NHL hockey team. I mean, I did think it odd that turtles were able to stand on two feet (that is, until someone got within five feet of them), but I always thought the NHL was stocked with MEN.
You'll have to forgive my confusion. But anyone that saw that fiasco last night can surely understand my bewilderment. Turtles like the yappy-mouth Komisarek and the not so elusive, purse-snatching O'Byrne made a mockery of what was once an honest man's game. In all seriousness.....I wonder how anyone can applaud players like Komisarek who does nothing but run his mouth, take liberties after whistles and generally hit from behind at every chance (settle down Hab lovers, I'll get to the Lucic hit later).....and then not even have the courage to "man up" and answer for his actions. Not even when squarely challenged.

At the end of the first period Komisarek intentionally targeted David Krejci with a nasty elbow to the head. This is immediately after he looked at the clock and knew for fact that time was expiring. An unnecessary hit, but one that if it was clean you don't mind. Play until the horn sounds, I'm cool with that. But, watch the replays again (as I have numerous times) and you'll clearly see him launch his elbow at Krejci. Then, predictably, when Chara come to his teammates aid, Komisarek goes into full bail out mode. I've already seen Habs fans commenting that Komisarek would have stood up to Chara, but the refs dragged him down while Chara was wailing away. Please. That sentiment is either blatantly dishonest, or Habs fans vision of their players is so clouded they can't see reality. Of course, this malaise is rampant among Habs players. Apparently their gloves are glued on and can only be pried off after games (just long enough to take hand-outs from local mafia members).

Ryan O'Byrne is a 6'5 228 pound embarrassment. To try and stir the pot against Shawn Thornton in one thing. But to instantly drop into a "downward facing dog" pose as soon as Thornton reacts is pathetic (I won't even mention Koivu's cross-check on Thornton as he engaged O'Byrne). And I have to believe that every Canadien fan, if you were ever able to capture them in an honest moment, would admit it. I find it hard to believe that the blood thirsty throngs I've heard scream lustily for the likes of Nilan, Ewen, Kordic and now Laraque,can honestly be proud of watching their alleged "tough" players stop drop and roll whenever confronted by an opponent. Somewhere, Shane Corson is cringing. But let's not for a minute think that Komisarek and O'Byrne are somehow unique in their cowardice. Oh no, as I mentioned, this virus runs rampant in La belle province. Josh Gorges is every bit the poser as Komisarek. The next hit Gorges throws without getting his hands/elbows high will be his first. And, as our friend "Rocket" so perfectly put it, his cheap shot on Bergeron after Bergy's goal was "Bush league". As Andy Brickley put it, it was "sour grapes". I just call it cheap and cowardly. Bergeron lucked out that he didn't hit his head/face any more squarely on the cross bar than he did.
Not to be left out, Roman Hamrlik jumped into the mix with a few nasty, unnecessary cross checks on Mark Recchi....while Recchi was down on the ice. Oh, you big brave tough guy you! Oddly, I've heard no mention from Habs fans about how senseless and dirty those cross checks were. Again, if Recchi were at least on his feet and battling for position in front, I can live with a few cross-checks etc. But hammering down on a guy who is flat on his back already? No class, and no place for it.

I think what it comes down to is this. Montreal tries to play a "physical" game when they meet the Bruins. The problem is, they honestly don't have any players that can play a hard clean game. So the sticks and elbows get up. The hits from behind pile up. They target smaller skilled guys, knowing by the time anyone comes around to call them on it, the refs will be there. I've seen this movie for far too long. I go back and forth between fury and laughter watching it. Fury because it's so frustrating to watch. Laughter, because I know these players, deep down, have to know how bad they look doing all this stuff. can anyone have any pride in themselves when they curl up in the fetal position every time they're confronted with a physical challenge.

But do you know what really makes me laugh? It's the knowledge that the Canadiens know they can't play that style and be successful.......while they also know that this is a much improved Bruins team from the one that took them to 7 games last year. Yet, they're a far worse team. And Boston showed last night that even when they come unglued and lose focus, they're good enough to come back and win the game they almost threw away. This has to be unsettling for the Canadiens and their fans. Don't be fooled by Habs fans bluster that they accomplished something last night. All they proved is that they can be beaten in any style game.

Carey Price, again, gave up five goals to Boston. He made some great saves (especially on Savard with seconds remaining in the first period.). But the bottom line is, he can be had and isn't nearly as God-like as everyone up north thought he was.

Oh, and here you go Habs fans. I promised you I'd get to the Lucic reaction to Komisarek's hit in the second period. First off, it absolutely was a penalty on Komisarek for hitting from behind. Not five minute major or suspension worthy, but clearly a minor penalty. It was one of those border line hits that was just from behind enough to be called. Now, did Lucic completely over react to it? Yes he did. Clearly, there is no denying that he was out of line for taking down #8 from behind like that. It cheapened an otherwise effective night for Looch. In all honesty, it looked more like something I'd expect from Komisarek or one of his cronies.
On the flip side, I can guarantee you if it was anyone other than Komisarek, Looch wouldn't have reacted the way he did. That Canadiens #8 jersey is a like a red cape waving at a bull. It's now a primal instinct for Lucic to attack whenever he sees it. Usually he keeps it in line and under control. Sometimes he crosses the line and takes it to extremes. But it is understandable. When he FINALLY was able to force Komi to drop the gloves earlier this season, you could see the primal release of frustration in his reaction after the fight. Yeah yeah, Big Georges Laraque has deemed this as an unacceptable act under his version of "the code". But I'd be interested to hear what BGL's thoughts are on players that start all the crap, then refuse to answer the bell....ever. My guess is, he can't be too impressed with the antics he sees from his own teammates. So, to put a bow on the Lucic retaliation, I would say that yes it was an over reaction. But I would add that:

A) it's completely understandable given their history. And B)if Lucic was ever to do that,last night was the time. The game didn't mean anything in the standings for the Bruins. If Looch loses his mind like that in the playoffs, then I'll be much more concerned.

In between all the nonsense, it was a wildly entertaining game. Plenty of physical play. Tons of end to end action and high skill levels on display. The Kessel rush and goal was something you don't see very often anymore. And the Kovalev goal was an absolute dart. Perfectly placed and fired quickly. He's one hell of a hockey player when he feels like it. Good thing he can be "persuaded" to lose interest at times by committed checkers.

Thomas and Price would both probably like to have back at least one goal against. But otherwise, both made some big stops. Particularly Thomas in the third period, allowing his mates to calm down and get back to the business of winning a hockey game.

Overall, I'd say the best Bruin on the ice all night was Patrice Bergeron. He was physical, smart and involved all night. No more so than in the OT when he stopped Lapierre in his tracks with a nice open ice check, stole the puck and fed the red hot Mark Recchi for the game winner. If Bergeron continues his hot hand, that would be a huge boost to the B's playoff fortunes. Any team that can boast Bergeron as it's third line center is plenty deep down the middle.

The Bruins have two meaningless games over the weekend to wrap up their season. The goal now is obvious; stay healthy. Fernandez is sure to get at least one start, possibly both. Wideman, Axelsson and the rest of the Bruins walking wounded should have a full week to rest up and heal before the real games begin. If the Canadiens are the B's first round opponent, I may need to stock up on blood pressure medicine. Last year was intense. This year it could blow the roof off the building. God I love spring time hockey! Go B's! -Kynch

1 comment:

  1. A CLASSIC post and recap! Thursday can't come quick enough! Go Broounze!