Sometimes, the bounces go the other way
Tonight's 5-4 overtime win for Toronto was a good game. The Buds lost 5-2 last night in Buffalo, so it's no surprise the Habs spanked them all over the ice for the bulk of the game. The Leafs looked old, slow and possibly concussed.
It started out with the usual CBC-Belfour love-fest, as the Eagle looked like a wall in stopping 18 Montreal shots in the 1st. After that, Eddie looked as average as Theo for the rest of the night. As usual, the Habs spotted the opposition a couple before they finally reaped the rewards of their up-tempo game. They were up 4-3 in the 3rd and it was beginning to look like another just another late comeback victory, when the Leafs scored what Bob Cole described as a "fortunate goal." I would have described it as "unfortunate." Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe I guess. Rivet tried to clear the puck along the boards from behind the net, and it bounced up, over the net, onto Theo's back and over the goal line for Jason Allison's first even strength goal of the year. That set the table for a Cherry-esque too many men on the ice call in overtime, and Jeff O'Neill's subsequent game winner.
It sucks to lose to the Leafs at home on a Saturday night, but there are a lot of good things the Canadiens can take away from this game. They outplayed Toronto by a good margin. Last time we had an NHL season, and for many seasons previous, a visit from the Leafs led us Habs fans to expect a loss. Tonight I was expecting a win. It appears the Montreal Canadiens were expecting the same.
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I don't know what expectations the Toronto Maple Leafs organization have for themselves this year. I get the feeling that JFJ doesn't really know what to expect either. With his hands tied by the team's existing contracts and the new cap, he made the only moves he could in an attempt to improve the team. Adding three players reported to be dressing room cancers was a risk he had to take. Seems Allison has already questioned his icetime in the media. The Leafs haven't imploded yet. If they keep playing like they have in their last two games, they will.
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Montreal might not be leading the league in bench minors for too many men, but it sure seems like it. I think they're leading the league in minors for skaters clearing the puck over the glass. Streit was penalized for it tonight. It's a little ironic that the Habs were charged with "delay of game" when they were flying and pressing to keep the pace high all night.
I don't like this new rule. Several years ago, a few goalies started shooting the puck over the glass intentionally to relieve pressure. So what did the league do? What it usually does - changes the rules. A rule was introduced to penalize goalies for doing this, whether intentional or not. Then the goalies lobbied that the rule is unfair because skaters were not penalized for doing the same thing (never mind that there are many things skaters can do that goalies can't and vice versa - freezing the puck for instance). Sensing the injustice, but not willing to admit they were wrong and scrap the rule or leave it to the discretion of the refs, the league added the same rule for skaters this year.
I expect the goalies to start to lobby against their new "no fly" zones. (Why do commentators call them "no fly" zones, anyway?? Goalies don't fly.) Then the league will have to apply the same rule to skaters. Many shifts will end in a stalemate when the puck lands in one of the corners because no one can touch it, just like when the puck ends up in one of those dead spots in a game of table hockey. The ref will have to kick it to one of the defensemen.
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Jeez, Ottawa has thumped Buffalo 16-5 in their last two match-ups. I guess the Sens are mightier than the Swords.