Cardiac Canadiens Bulish in Philly!

Jan Bulis has been a bright spot for the Habs ever since his arrival from Washington. He is solid defensively, has size and uses it, gives a full effort every game and, has speed speed speed. Early on, he was projected to play a scoring role - perhaps second line centre. Unfortunately, we only saw flashes of offense in Montreal and he was converted into a checking winger - a role in which he has excelled. After a superb season with Pardubice in the Czech league, I thought he might finally step up and grab a scoring role with the Habs.

Alas, it wasn't to be. Julien and now Gainey have kept Bulis on the checking line. Although his speed and anticipation gave him plenty of chances, he still seemed to lack the ability to finish in the NHL.

Last night, Bulis was told he would be scratched from the lineup to make room for the recalled Raitis Ivanans. Only when it was discovered that Sheldon Souray would be unable to play (due to a laceration that turned into a nasty infection) was Bulis reinstated.

Perhaps Gainey was planning to use Dandenault as a forward, but had to drop him back to D. Even so, I find the decision to scratch Bulis puzzling. Although he hasn't been terribly productive, why sit a player who has given the team a full effort every night and continues to do plenty of little things right? If anything, the Habs need more guys like Jan Bulis - players that make the most of their gifts every time they step on the ice. Knowing this, the decision to send him to the pressbox prompted a variety of trade rumours.

Fortunately for all involved, Bulis stepped up with a career performance and netted four goals on Chico Esche,
leading les Canadiens to a 5-3 win over the Flyers. That Bulis, who is skating personified, was the difference in this game rather than Ivanans illustrated my point below perfectly. Well, it's my point in that I copied it from Tom Benjamin.

During the TSN broadcast Chris Cuthbert pointed out the lack of icetime allotted to the game's hottest player, as did Jack Todd in today's column:

"...if Bulis plays less than 15 minutes [in Ottawa tonight], they should bring back Claude Julien."
There are several reasons for his shortage of minutes. Bulis is still playing on the checking line with Bonk and Sundstrom, and Gainey stayed true to his lines all night. Since the Habs did not take the lead until the third period and since Forsberg left the game early on, the scoring lines received the bulk of the shifts. Also, unlike his linemates, Bulis has not played on the PK in the last couple of games. If Cuthbert and Todd were to question his lack of PK time (which is queer), they would have a more valid point than their "only 12 minutes for a four-goal man" rants.

Some other notes on the game:
  • Along with Bulis, Koivu, Begin and Bouillon have set a superb example of how to play hard every game. Last night, Begin once dropped head first to block a shot. That's committed. Dumb, but committed.
  • In the next tier, Tomas Plekanec and Craig Rivet played exemplary games. Plekanec is putting a stranglehold on the #2 centre job. Also, Radek Bonk looked pretty good for a change.
  • We have been expecting too much from Mathieu Dandenault. He was a good role-player on a star-studded team. In Montreal, we might be expecting too many minutes from him.
  • J-P Cote is the most awkward skater I've seen in the tricolore since Gordie Dwyer.
  • The officiating was sickeningly inconsistent early, and nonexistent late. I'm beginning to think the NHL game is impossible to officiate competently.
  • With the Flyers blueline drastically depleted, Quispamsis, NB native Randy Jones has stepped in. He played solidly last night and collected two assists.
  • Bob Gainey has come to the same conclusion that Claude Julien did. Cristobal Huet gives this team a better chance to win than Jose Theodore. Having said that, I expect to see Theo start in Ottawa. Just what he needs to soothe his fragile psyche - the trio of Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley, well-rested and sitting at home, waiting for the Habs to arrive.


Thank Jeebus.

In an era of rinks sponsored by banks and Me, Inc. players, the naming of the Anaheim franchise after a third-rate Disney movie was the single most galling case of crass corporate cross-marketing ever seen in the NHL. When someone questioned the appropriateness of the name, Michael Eisner replied, "I'm going to keep calling them that until someone tells me I can't." As we all know now, no one ever did. Bettman was too busy counting the millions from the expansion fee to care about Disney making a Mickey Mouse mockery of his league.

Now that Mickey is out of the hockey business, we can look forward to a new name. Here's my suggestion:

The Los Angeles Mighty Mergansers Of Anaheim

Speaking of crass commercialization...


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