Hockey Team 5, Power Play 1
Throughout the game, the story was how the Leafs' power play was so effective while the rest of the team's game was... somewhat less than effective. Dave Hodge had his say here. It was the theme all night on the TSN broadcast. This is old news for Habs fans, as it has been the theme all season in Leafs-Habs matches. When T-dot has their PP going, they are dynamite. When their opposition stays out of the box, it can get fugly. Last night was not a special teams game. Aside from the requisite tone-setting minors early it was relatively PP-free, with predictable results. Red Fisher's recap is here.
I think Pat Quinn did the best he could to cope with the new NHL, in which two things have had an enhanced value: skating and special teams. Since Leafs can't skate, he took a collection of sour old lemons (is there a sourer lemon than Jason Allison?) and made tangy 5 on 4 lemonade. Unfortunately, when Kaberle and McCabe are sucking wind after playing two full minutes with the man advantage, the soft underbelly of the Blue&White is exposed. That soft underbelly is Berg, Belak, and now Richardson. All game long, the Habs capitalized on the deadwood (Suglobov is Russian for 'deadwood') of the Toronto roster. Well, not quite all game long, because the game was over halfway into the 1st period. But you get my meaning.
Joe Bowen provided an entertaining play-by-play. Bowen is like that Leafs fan buddy of yours. You know the type - fridge full of Molson Canadian, loves the Tragically Hip, and for some unknown reason just can't seem to grasp that no one really gives a shit that it's Todd Gill's birthday today.
Bowen described flagrant interference by Chad Kilger on Mike Komisarek (on which the ref made the correct penalty call) as a dive. I have never, ever seen Komi come close to embellishing anything. Then he described a Darcy Tucker forward triple flip in pike position as a flagrant trip (on which the ref made the correct non-call). Fortunately, the game was out of reach early and viewers were spared further officiating critiques from Bowen.
Also amusing - TSN had trouble with their scoreboard during the play. The score was rapidly changing from [Tor 0 Mtl 3] to [Tor 24 Mtl 0] to [Tor 0 Mtl 8] to [Tor 53 Mtl 0] and so on. It was pretty funny. I know, I know - simple mind, simple pleasures.
Lastly - why the hell were Markov and Rivet killing 3rd period penalties when the score was 5-1??? Gainey dressed 7 defensemen! Let the hurt guys rest!
Yikes. Playoff odds are now 50/50 between Habs and Thrashers, and Atlanta has been trending up since an abysmal start to the season. They are 9-3 since Olympic break...
The most crucial games remaining don't even involve the Habs. Atlanta visits Tampa on the March 30th, April 6th and April 11th. Best case scenario: TB wins all 3 in regulation, since the Bolts have such an easy schedule. We'll have to hope either the Devils falter or the Trash run out of steam.
Most Canadians have probably seen the ads for this geographically challenged title (it was the Soviet Union at the time, not 'Russia') soon to be presented by the CBC.
The show was filmed here in NB, probably because of our decrepit mausoleum-like rinks that resemble Russian architecture from the 60s. There were some celebrity tryouts for roles about a year ago, including Gord Downie who really wanted to be Ken Dryden. Hey - that's two Hip references in one post!
There were sneak preview clips here but it seems they're gone now. A co-worker (see photo at right) of my significant other will be appearing in the film as Phil Esposito's skating double. I don't think I'm breaking any rules by posting the pic, since very similar ones have been printed in the local papers. Also, it is rumoured that this local chap will appear as Ron Ellis' skating double. I'll be watching.