Monday, February 2, 2009

When You Wear Your PJs On Game Day and Other Musings From Around the League. . .

Oh those Canadiens. After being in Boston on Saturday, and thus being reminded of the Boston/Montreal afternoon Super Bowl tilt yesterday, I decided to tune in. Not right away, but about halfway through the game.

When my eyes adjusted to the site before me, my first thought was, oh, the Canadiens decided to wear their pajamas to the rink. Excellent.

Note, if you haven't had the chance to seen them, I'll try to post a photo later. To paint a picture, the sweaters were your bleu, blanc, et rouge, in horizontal stripes. Their socks were the same pattern as well. It was dizzying to say the least.

As a note, they were apparently worn during the 1912 season when the Canadiens were a NHA franchise. The CAC on the white maple leaf, stands for "Club Athletique Canadien."

Well in 2009, however, they did not prove to inspire, apparently.

In the part of the game I watched the Canadiens looked flat. The Canadiens dominance of their Boston rivals has definitely slowed since last year's playoffs, but it just looked outright gone yesterday. The only thing that felt old time about the rivalry was listening to the broadcast by Bob Cole. He has a way of making it all seem incredibly nostalgic, which is somewhat rare nowadays.

Back to the teams at present. As if it wasn't bad enough losing to your rival, on Super Bowl Sunday, wearing your pajamas, things did get worse for Montreal.

In a short time period, Robert Lang, Matt D'Agostini, and Guillaime Latendresse all went down and went off the ice. D'Agostini would return. Latendresse and Lang were not so lucky. Lang, I heard this morning, had his tendon cut by a skate blade. For the life of me and throughout the replays, I did not see that at all. But he will be out indefinitely.

So the Canadiens were down three men, four if you count #27.

For Alex Kovalev, the most baffling of superstars, was benched by Carbonneau for about 90% of the third period. This is yet another chapter in the long standing external battle between coach and player, and the long standing internal conflict between Alex and, well, Alex.

After the game, PJ Stock called him - potentially - the most talented offensive player EVER.

The problem is, it's only under the most extreme of circumstances that we see THAT Alex. I've seen that Alex. I have. For love of all the gracefulness that hockey can be, I'd hope that everyone at least once got to see that Alex.

Unfortunately, he is the undefinable example of up and down. I say undefinable because there is really no reason I can see why he plays when he plays and why he doesn't when he doesn't. I'm sure that's the million dollar question in Montreal this morning.

Almost chased out of town in 2006-2007, the best player and team MVP candidate in 2007-2008, and back to being ineffective and openly criticized in 2008-2009. Not many have had the relationship with the fans that Alex Kovalev has had in Montreal during his time there. His rise from Hero last weekend in the All-Star Game to his fall to Villain yesterday afternoon took not a full week to accomplish.

It's interesting to note, however, that Carbonneau had no problem benching his star player when he did not show up.

{pause for affect}.

Post game, Kelly Hrudey and PJ Stock discussed double standards. Apparently Kovalev played better this year with the C he was given in Koivu's absence. PJ questioned why a player who was having as horrible a year as Kovalev got the C. He said another younger player would be called out for having a bad performance, but Alex was almost rewarded. Hrudey said he thinks there can be double standards among stars, in that case. PJ obviously disagreed. Although, let it be noted, neither were defending Kovalev and his season this year. Apparently PJ was quiet the whole game because Hrudey was laying into Alex the whole time.

Anyway, Stock had said perhaps it was the PJs they wore that did the Canadiens in.

Later, he mentioned PJ Axelsson had a great game for Boston.

Ron: So PJs were good for Boston.

PJ: PJs are great.

[I was waiting for that]

PJ pokes Ron.

Ron: Why watch the Super Bowl, when you can listen to this.

Gotta love it.

Around The League:

I spent a lot of time on the way driving back from Boston and once I arrived back home listening to and watching other games.

I listened to Montreal come back against LA late in the game.

I listened to Anaheim/Colorado for a bit.

My 7pm game of choice was the Toronto/Pittsburgh game where they retired Doug Gilmour's #93 before the game.

Oh and before we continue with the game recap, we've run into Leafs Senior Advisor Cliff Fletcher.

Cliff: Who is this guy?
Burke: Doug Gilmour?
Cliff: Dougie Gilmour. hmm. Sounds familiar. Did I draft him?
Burke: Draft him? You traded for him!
Cliff: Woo-wee! What a steal. When's he going to lace up?
Burke: Lace up? They are honoring his jersey tonight. That's why we are here.
Cliff: Honoring his jersey? For what?
Burke: Uh...
Cliff: He hasn't even played a game yet and they are honoring his jersey?
Burke: But Cliff, he was the captain of the team back in...
Cliff: [smiling] I must have picked a winner. Woo-wee!

Thanks Cliff for always looking so, awake.

The real moments of the game, however, came from rookie d-man Luke Schenn.

Listening to the radio broadcast was perhaps as thrilling as watching it.

Their call as Schenn hit Malkin! And the call of the mauling of Tyler Kennedy by Schenn was beautifully intense. I didn't need to see it, I got it.

I guess you can say the Toronto radio team do not exactly love Crosby. I think that's fair to say. They made mention of when Crosby grabbed Brett Mclean off a faceoff and mauled him, tallying 19 or so minutes in penalties. If anyone else did that, they mused, it might have been a bigger deal. But because it was Sidney. . .

But back to Schenn. I later got home and watched his post-game interview. How adorable is he? Laughing, smiling, generally amicable. He really seems ages older than his 19 years. And ready, apparently, to assume responsibility for the Leafs franchise. Their steadiest defensemen happens to be their youngest. And he won't back down from anyone. It's great to see.

Also great to see, would be TWO Schenns playing for Toronto next year. But Luke won't worry about that, just enjoy the moments this year is bringing him:

Lastly, I watched the Minnesota/Vancouver game, mostly to see how Dan Fritsche was making out with his new team. I saw him on the ice on a regular basis, which already was a marked change from his time in New York.

And guess what - he was playing center. And taking a couple faceoffs. And, well, playing his natural position.

Tom Renney, take note.

Not that I'd say Dan had a startlingly great game, but, heck, if I hadn't played more than one game in two months, I'd need a few games to get my legs under me too. It's just good to see him playing.

In other thoughts on the game. Cal Clutterbuck. Tell me that's not a fun hockey name? Wow. I kept hearing this guy's name for a while this season, but finally got to see him play. He is fun to watch. Well, he was fun to watch until he took the 5 minute boarding major and was tossed for hitting Alex Burrows from behind. Burrows got a nasty gash by his right eye.

In Vancouver, Mats Sundin is getting booed. Booed badly. And Vancouver is just not playing well. By losing at home on Saturday night, the Canucks continue adding games to their franchise worst home ice losing streak. Not a distinction a team that is trying to turn its franchise around wants to be making.

Now look, I didn't pick Vancouver to make the playoffs here, but I didn't think that adding Sundin would make them worse. If there even is a connection between the two at all.

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