Monday, November 24, 2008

Quiet Discomfort

It’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate because after Saturday night’s game and everything it was supposed to mean to the organization, the evening fell flat.

Unfortunate because with the promise of the interesting undertones drawn by the blanket thrown over Milan Lucic by Habs enforcer Georges Laraque, that fell flat too.

A game, played on the heels of an emotional ceremony, with the guest of honor being the only player most of today’s young Canadiens could actually call their own hero, a game with a legendary number reaching the highest of heights, also fell flat.

An eagerly awaited ceremony and the much anticipated “I’m so sorry for leaving too soon”, with the most awkward family gathering you’ve ever seen at centre ice, it too fell flat.

Patrick Roy came home on Saturday night. Je rentre chez nous. His speech hit the right notes, with the speaker unafraid to broach, albeit rapidly, the very delicate topic of his turbulent departure. If the fans made it clear they would take all the time required to let The Reason two more banners were raised to the rafters his number would join know that all was forgiven, the participants in the Roy camp were just as loud in their quiet discomfort. Instead of a celebratory disposition one may expect for a moment of this magnitude, both it and Roy actually felt lonely. He seemed distant, removed. No tears, no visible emotion, which of course is not to say he didn’t feel everything inside, but it was not in rhythm.

The puck was dropped and the nostalgia washed away, swept by the very immediate concerns trailing these Montreal Canadiens. Claude Julien learned a lesson and would let his respect for tradition and history take a back seat to his duties as coach. When he insisted on having his players sit through the entire ceremony for the Canadiens’ centennial home opener, an awestruck Bruins allowed the Habs to pummel them in the first period, with Montreal jumping to a quick 3-0 lead. Not this time. While Roy was being honored in this all-important ceremony, in a career on which Boston left an indelible mark, the Bruins were nowhere to be found. They could have been at the hotel for all we know.

It was a good move. The Bruins started the game fresh. No complexes, no intimidation. On equal footing. This time it was the Habs who couldn’t shake-off the hour-long wait. This is obviously a vastly improved Bruins squad. These are the Bruins who had the Habs figured out by game 2 of the first round of last year’s playoff series. This is a team that has plugged the many offensive holes that made them welcome mats for too long. And Tim Thomas looks like a real goalie, awkward, yes, but real.

The Lucic-Laraque billing left fans wondering what the point was. Lots of talk, during play, on faceoffs, from the bench. Yap, yap, yap. Whatever. Lucic finished the game with a goal. Laraque finished the game in irrelevance. It’s time Georgie Porgie, cashmere! stops waiting around for players to invite him to dance and make the suggestion himself, if that’s what he intends on doing. As Lucic quickly learned, the Laraque shadow is an easy one to slip by, because it’s as slow as the guy who’s casting it.

Carey was great. A fitting tribute to the money goalie Patrick was and that fans still miss. Greek Lightning was inspiring. But, by and large, the Canadiens failed to respond to the challenge on Saturday; they didn't live up to the billing and showed that their unwillingness to work will, more often than not, leave them on the short end of the draw. If Patrick Roy did in fact come home last night, the game, as a whole, although interesting at the end, could have and should have given us far more to write home about.


Anonymous said...

How many posts until we saw a naked chick?
I'm unbookmarking you guys soon with all the blah blah blah here.

Pension Plan Puppets said...

Instead of a celebratory disposition one may expect for a moment of this magnitude, both it and Roy actually felt lonely. He seemed distant, removed. No tears, no visible emotion, which of course is not to say he didn’t feel everything inside, but it was not in rhythm.

That is a good read on the situation. I was a little surprised that he wasn't a bit more openly emotional at such a huge moment as his public reconciliation with a fanbase and club that he had spurned because of a bruised ego.

I loved the parade of goalies that followed Roy. Shows what a huge influence he had on the position.

Also, speaking of hot girls, Roy's daughter is pretty foxy.

Limerick Dude said...

Also, speaking of hot girls, Roy's daughter is pretty foxy.

My boy thought so too. I peg her to be about his age (15), and with my 14 year old daughter plus my wife in the room, I thought it best not to 'agree' with him or even say anything. I just said "Brush up on your French, boy."

Agreed. The ceremony felt awkward at best.

Anybody catch CBC after the game. Milbury was a little ashamed of the B's for not sending somebody (Chara or Thornten) after Big George.

saskhab said...

The desire for revenge seems to have blinded people to the effect lining up Georges with Lucic did have... how many hits and shots on goal did Milan have when Laraque was out there? Zero. He was completely ineffective.

In the second, Carbo gave up on the matchup. Lucic scored, though that was the result of a bad Bouillon pinch and Kovalev not covering the far side for him. Think Laraque, who was playing RW against Lucic all 1st period and didn't let him get more than a stick length away from him would've let him walk in unimpeded like that to the goal mouth?

As per Roy's ceremony, he definitely didn't want to give off the appearance of emotion. He's pretty old school like that. He's okay with people seeing him mad bat crazy, but not seeing him get choked up.

Panic Mode said...

The CBC is a joke.

"It was a big night in Toronto and Montreal, the leafs honouring Wendell Clark and the Habs retiring the jersey of Patrick Roy."

Tom said...

Agree with Saskhab. Laraque should have been on Lucic all night. That's when he scored the goal.

But Laraque also had a chance to nail him in open ice, but didn't.

And didn't it seem like Chara played 55 minutes? He was always on the ice.

Kovalav has to stop double-shifting. Play your 45 seconds hard, and then off the ice. No more minute-and-a-half shifts. He was out for more than a minute before Lucic scored.

The Bastard said...

I don't understand all the complaints about Lucic not fighting Laraque. Why should he? Would Montreal fans want Koivu or Tanguay fighting Thornton? Of course not... it is a terrible tradeoff for Montreal just as Lucic/Laraque would be for Boston. You don't lose a first-line winger for a fourth-line nobody. Same goes for Chara not fighting Laraque... terrible tactical decision. Only person who should possibly fight Laraque there is Thornton and even then sending a guy out to fight simply for the sake of fighting is lame.

Oh, and I don't think Laraque will just jump someone without reason. It's not honorable and he understands that being an enforcer (not a goon) is all about honor!

HabsFan4 said...

For the record, I agree that Laraque can't just go out and randomly beat on Lucic.

I just don't understand the theory behind Carbo's game. Laraque obviously got to Lucic in the first, and a tired Julien woudn't have it as he pulled his player off the ice a few times. I was just confused with it all. If it worked in the first, why did Carbo halt the experiment? Has the team even figured it out yet?

I was happy to see Laraque get some time on the first line. He even did some work in the corners that drew a penalty. But the coaches haven't found his place in the system and I think it may be throwing his game off. I say, in the end, he was irrelevant because what was that first period blanket coverage for if it worked for a period but was aborted for the following two, if Lucic scored after Carbo quit that tactic, and Laraque was hardly used afterwards?

moeman said...

I loved the walk through the front doors of the Bell Centre. Roy seemed a bit hesitant in acknowledging the fans in the concourse on his way to ice level. He looked Gaineyish when the ovation kicked in. Dare I say humble. Despite it being professionally written, his speech hit all the right notes, especially the last line. I'dve liked a wink at the end.

Patrick sounded great on RDS' post game show. He may be brash and assholish at times but the man knows his hockey. Suggesting he'd build a team around TFS™ was a pretty strong statement.