Well, this series might have been fun if it was a fair fight. But it's not. The Habs are down their best player, the Pens are up two refs, a couple of linesmen, a schedule maker, a couple of US tv networks and a runty little Napoleon string-puller in the NHL's throne room. (Removes tin-foil hat). Thoughts jotted down while watching last night, with some sober second thoughts provided as of this morning:
Thought from last night (TFLN): Hey, Andrei Kostitsyn is alive! Oh, wait, no he isn't. Christ, fire puck deep, Simple Jack! Puck! Deep! You!
Sober second thought this morning (SSTTM): Since Sergei isn't busy on game nights, he should probably pack both Tits brothers bags for Avangard Omsk or AK Bars Kazan now. I can't for the life of me see either Kostitsyn being long for this city.
TFLN: Chicken looks ... looks like a fourth overall pick sometimes. Big, strong skater, slick moves. Then it all falls down at the last hurdle. He's going to tease two more teams who trade for him thinking they can help him put it all together before washing out of the league.
SSTTM: Nope, stand by that statement, unless Guy Boucher gets here ASAP.
TFLN: PK Fucking Subban makes plays falling on his ass. PK Fucking Subban is making a Markov trade a distinct possibility in two years or less. Mini PK Fucking Subban HF10 will be the name of my next kid.
SSTTM: Okay, that's probably not true, but still. He's awfully fun to watch.
TFLN: Marc Andre Fleury looks much better this game. Uh oh.
SSTTM: Fleury has a real Grant Fuhr vibe about him (minus the cocaine addiction). He may never blow you away with his stats, although they are often very good. More often than not he just lets in one less goal than the guy across from him, and doesn't care if he wins 6-5 or 1-0. I hate that. Just when you think you have him on the run he slams the door.
TFLN: Oh goody, somebody cattle-prodded Malkin back to life. Just what the Canadiens needed.
SSTTM: Oh goody, somebody cattle-prodded Malkin back to life. Just what the Canadiens needed. (Gulp).
Tinfoil Hat Back On For the Fucking Cheating Fuckers Portion of our Review:
So let me get this straight. End of period, Crosby falls down, slashes Gorges. Malkin drops his gloves with Gionta and pulls his jersey over his head. Crosby tries to punch Hamr, gets into it with seemingly everyone on the ice, knocks Gomez's helmet off. Hamr and Kunitz get into it. Letang wrestles Gorges to the ice. And the end result is Malkin and Crosby scot-free to start the third on the powerplay? As Orangeman said last night "Bettman, your puppets are showing".
Not to be the whiny fanbase that thinks the refs and Bettman are out to screw the Canadiens, but holy fuck are there some questionable decisions being made in this series. And frankly, it's not just Habs fans talking about this. Every fanbase is feeling wronged over something in this playoffs. The officiating in the NHL right now is fucking atrocious, and borderline criminal in some cases, and often appears horribly biased in favour of certain teams. If you think the Habs have had it bad so far, take a look at the Detroit/San Jose series, where the Wings (second least penalized team in the regular season) are facing twice as many powerplays as the Sharks (8th most penalized team regular season). The discrepancy between regular season and playoffs is startling.
Whether it's intentional or not, it looks like the refs are trying to fuck teams over. Especially when Crosby's stick slashes a Hab every third shift with no call. Or when a major scrum somehow ends with Montreal's top two penalty killing defencemen in the box. I know Hal Gill was already there, and deservedly so, but it seems convenient that Gorges was the only Hab to get the hook when everyone on the ice was doing the same thing he was, especially given the fact that Gorges claims he was told either he or Hamr were going off and the refs just happened to pick the guy who hasn't been running on fumes since March. Or when the two star guys who started it for Pittsburgh get to start the third period on fresh ice and on the powerplay. Am I bitter? Fuck yeah, I'm bitter. This is certainly not the first time someone has complained that calls go in the Pens favour (see Rangers, NY. Or Flyers, Philadelphia. Or Red Wings, Detroit in last year's final. Or Capitals, Washington (ironic, but still.) The perception that Sid and the Pens are protected by Bettman is partly sour grapes but there's enough "how the fuck did they get away with that" moments from opposing fanbases to make you wonder.
The Part Where I Concede that the Better Team Probably Still Won, and Will Probably Win Out:
Granted, Montreal was going to be up against it versus the Pens without Crosby and Co. getting the majority of the calls. Bad refereeing or not, the Habs didn't deserve anything out of this game. Sure, talk about hitting a couple of posts, talk about Fleury making a few spectacular looking saves, but there was very little menace from the Canadiens in this one. Was there any point during that game you thought the Habs were really taking it to the Pens and were going to get a goal? Me neither. Everyone worried about Crosby, Malkin and the rest, but forgot that the Pens defensive work is vastly superior to the Caps, and the Canadiens didn't exactly light up Washington's porous D. If the "opportunistic scoring" dries up, this thing is over in five.