Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Habs March Over Manhattan: Habs 3 - NYR 1

What to make of last night's showing in New York City? How do you define the Rangers' performance? Listless? Lifeless? Worrisome?

Yeah, I kinda like that last one. If that's the best Tortorella can get out of his guys in what was a huge game in Manhattan, you have to wonder what kind of commitment he's going to get down the stretch. Maybe the real huge game for the Rangers is their next one against the sagging Bruins. Maybe the seventh place Habs were already mentally out of reach.

Maybe the hint we can take is that we can start to take this Canadiens' team seriously. You've got to like it when a team catches fire just before the playoffs. You like it even more when they do so early enough to avoid the exhausting grind that leads to a last gasp playoff berth. This is a very good mix.

The Habs' play of late doesn't remind us of two years ago when they won the conference and had us seeing a deep run, and it's certainly not the win-or-die plight they've managed to find themselves in year after year. The Habs are looking poised to enter the playoff picture with what we can call managed expectations.

The fact that they're in the conversation at all is quite amazing. A team is going to lose its 200-man games to injury and Montreal has certainly not strayed from that rule this year, but it's the quality of players affected by ailment that makes their position all the more enjoyable. The fact that they are probably going to win over half their games is a stunning reversal of fortune. Long story short, the Habs have no business being where they are. But they are.

We're seeing that they may actually be a thoroughly well coached team, lead by a young understated goaltender who has slowly pulled the spotlight away from the one we all wanted to hand the podium to. We're seeing that the small moves made by Pierre/Bob may have actually yielded essential dividends. Pouliot, Moore, both were strong last night in this crucial game. Both worked hard, nose to the grind, no cheating.

Montreal walked into MSG last night and threw a Jacques Martin sleeper-hold over the Rangers. It made for the dullest hockey you'll ever watch and was an agonizing experience for my ADD riddled existence, but it worked. Two points in regulation in an ugly road win against a conference rival breathing down your neck with 10 games to go in the season. Who's going to moan and groan about that. Right now, it doesn't need to be pretty.

Say what you will about Scott Gomez. He's a very good hockey player. Does he deserve his 8 million? This could be the answer: full points to him for getting ready to bag 60 points despite having lost Gionta for an important part of the season. Full points to him for proving to be the perfect match for Benoit Pouliot who may have been playing his entire career when he arrived to Montreal. Kudos for proving to be a fantastic puck-carrying centreman who'll get you to the offensive end rather effortlessly and get the puck to the right guy just as quickly once he's there. Kudos for not making any noise whatsoever in a room that has been replete with bullshit and drama over the last couple of years. Bravo to Gomez for restoring a sense of quiet honour to the room. It may not amount to 8 million dollars worth of production on the ice, but I'll take Scott Gomez and his inflated salary over 5 million dollars worth of noise and ego. Factor in a few dollars for that kind of personality. That's money well spent.

Same goes for Gionta. Does it ever.

"This one's Optimistic", Thom Yorke would say. Why the hell not. Maybe it's the smell of spring which reminds me of the brisk walks to the Forum on playoff nights when I was a kid. Maybe it's because I actually really like this group and want them to do well. Maybe I believe in the possibilities.

The Habs could have thrown themselves right back into the quest for sustenance had the Rangers taken the points from them last night. It wasn't even close. And it renewed a sense of mounting optimism, dare we call it that.

26 comments:

hfotwc said...

"What to make of last night's showing in New York City? How do you define the Rangers' performance? Listless? Lifeless? Worrisome?" and for a team which includes the likes of Tort and weaselly boy, I'd definitely add classless. It seems that Avery is spending everyday of his pittyful existence to prove the world that he is a fuckin moron.

But yeah the smell of spring/playoff is sweet today.

lawyergirl77 said...

Great post HF4. I love this group of guys, in spite of the loss of my Saku (okay, Moey, "our" Saku)... and what was breaking my heart during the suckitude was the fact that, well, they were breaking my heart.

I also like what you said about Gomez. His salary is undeniably a problem in the salary cap era and, while he may not be worth that much, I don't hold that against him. He's a good egg, as my grandma would say.

Oh, and MAD PROPS to GG for that photo. I'm still giggling at the "Argent". Hee!

Jaybird said...

Great post. Great fackin post.

A team that grinds to get in the playoffs ends up getting there depleted every time. We can rack up a few more points and just stay on the cruise control we are on now no need to put yourself in harm's way .... no need to rush Cammy back.

Always have to keep that switch turned on and ready to hit another gear though. I believe when we get our top two lines healthy we can take it to the level required to take out some juggernauts and knock some heads together or at least die trying.....

I actually believe in this team doing something special! The cup may be a stretch but there is nothing wrong with a long playoff run possibly with Subban in for a few games for experience. A far cry from a few weeks ago when the effort was laughable.

moeman said...

Great post 4 and GG, simply awesome skillz.

I'd add, 'Maybe because we are Habs fans' to 4's peut-êtres.

I'm still here in Tronna, so no whiff of playoffs in the air here. Just a scent of misguided superiority or is it the dog shit that seeped through the melted snow?

Guys like Métro and Gorge(u)s deserve some kudos and hopefully the Mex & Gio's honourable efforts will continue to influence their team-mates.

Get to the playoffs you fucking Habs!

Oh and thanks Bob Gainey.

GoldenGirl11 said...

@LG
I'm still giggling at the "Argent". Hee!
That's hilarious! It's one of the only things that I DIDN'T change

GoldenGirl11 said...

@Moe
Thanks. It takes a few hours but once you cross the border back into Quebec the color starts to come back. Amazing how an entire city can be monochromatic. You'll be seeing bleu, blanc et rouge in no time.

Number31 said...

You mean we could be the Oilers, right?

Habsfan10 said...

Well said, 4. I was one of Gomez's biggest critics, but he's winning me over every game he plays and every time he speaks.

Moey said...

I wasn't a happy camper at all last summer, in fact I was angry, especially about Saku. I thought I would still have Kovy as a blankie, but that wasn't to be either. Fast forward, I now like this group, I like their character, they come accross as honest, hard working and sincere in their respect for the CH. JM is a good coach, there's no way Carbo would have coped with the mess of injuries this team had. It'll be fun watching how far this team can go.

HabsFan29 said...

who put serious analysis on this hockey blog??? this blog sucks almost as much as the Bruins. fuck this shit. i don't even know why i read this crap anymore

well done 4 and GG.

Moey said...

*sigh* s/b across.

HabsFan29 said...

in all seriousness, are we setting ourselves up for massive disappointment? i hate being optimistic and happy. it worries me.

GoldenGirl11 said...

I think you mean...
who put serious analysis AND TITS LOTS AND LOTS OF TITS on this hockey blog??? this blog sucks almost as much as the Bruins. fuck this shit. i don't even know why i read this crap anymore.

boob gainey said...

I've liked Gomez since a pre-season game against the Bruins when he worked his ass off killing a 5 on 3.

He's only slightly overpaid anyway.
He's as good as some $6M players, and his cap hit is only one George Laraque above that.

fezworth said...

Red Fisher, eat your heart out. Great Post, HF4.

hfotwc said...

HAbs recall Laraque. He takes 20 games on fuckwit Avery. That's what I call a team player. Hello Georgy!!

Moey said...

@HF29,

I'll be CAUTIOUSLY optimistic and happy (until Saturday) because as LG77 pointed out historically they are serial heartbreakers.

Chester said...

This post is like the na na na na hey hey goodbye thing. You gotta be careful with that optimistic stuff. Things can always get worse.... cue dark foreboding music with ominous overtones.

GoldenGirl11 said...

@Chester
Yes, but now that you've mentioned it, it's like a reverse jinx so it's ok. I would like to add PTUH, PTUH, PTUH, however, just in case.

Chester said...

@GG11
You were a happy child wern't you?

Habsfan10 said...

If you all want something to fret over:

The team started gelling and winning right after Cammalleri got hurt. Apparently Cammy is the problem.

Feel better?

ezzeloharr said...

@10: Isn't that what Réjean Tremblay said too?

Habsfan10 said...

@ ezzeloharr:

Probably. I couldn't make up this sort of stupid rumour without some sort of subliminal help from crazy Quebec media. Could have been Bertrand too.

Bill 101 said...

@HF4

tears to my eyes...well, almost

you wear your handle well

hfotwc said...

@10, you watch too much RDS

kazmmmooooo!!!!!! said...

@boob, I disagree. Gomez was brought in to replace Koivu. Gomez is younger and faster, but Koivu is better on faceoffs and shootouts. If you look at their career stats, they're pretty similar. So it's a wash, in my opinion. But Koivu earns only $3.25M/yr.