Saturday, May 1, 2010

Some Quick Notes on Habs Pens Game 1, Markov & more…

I have run into at least a half dozen Habs fans, as I run the family errands in my little corner of the world today, and they all said the same thing to me, “They were too tired.” The same thing shows up on my Facebook account, where everyone was on the same page, after the Montreal Canadiens 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

No blaming the refs (even with Chris Lee officiating), the coaches or the goaltending. They were just too tired after a grueling seven game series against the Washington Capitals and one day to get ready for the next series.

Being tired leads to mental errors, hence four power play opportunities that turned into Penguins goals. It could have been worse. Dominic Moore avoided a four-minute high sticking minor when his stick errantly cut Sidney Crosby.

Maxim Lapierre managed to draw a slashing call, that led to Brian Gionta’s power play marker, that could easily have been negated for diving. If you look at the replay, Chris Kunitz’s stick gets him the ribs, but Lap embellishes it my covering up his head.

The worst mental error, or just plain stupid award, goes to Andre Kostitsyn. With the Canadiens down a goal, and attempting a line  change, Kostitisyn made a weak dump in that barely penetrates the Penguins blue line and skates across ice to the bench.

With the play cross-ice, no Habs in sight and five Penguins at the ready, it was an easy stretch pass for Sergei Gonchar. What makes it worse is the Canadiens coverage overloads to one side and totally miss Craig Adams skating in for the rebound.

Fatigue also showed on goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The hero of the first round just looked confused and out of position during most of his time on the ice. Midway through the second period, I noted a save he made of his right pad. The puck was no more that four feet from in on open ice, and he seemed to have no idea where it was.

I was curious as to why Jacques Martin did not pull Halak at the end of the second period. Didn’t make sense in my opinion to play him any longer. In any event, I’d like to see him back for Game Two.

As for Matt Cooke’s hit on Andrei Markov. Cooke has a reputation as a dirty hitter, as the Boston Bruins can attest, but it was a clean hit. Cooke’s arms being up in the vicinity of Markov’s face made it look worse. That with Markov’s positioning away from the boards, and how he landed, did not help his situation.

The end result, as per Martin on Saturday afternoon, is that Markov is out indefinitely. In all likelihood, his season is over. Montreal went 14-20-3 after Markov's injury, in the first game of the season on October 1, and went 24-13-7 with him back in the lineup.

A bit of a trade-off with the Penguins Jordan Staal cited as day-to-day with a severed tendon? For this series maybe, but in losing Markov the Canadiens will need to fight and be in every game for any further playoff success.

A few bright spots did emerge though. The first was the Canadiens great play in five-on-five situations, something they lacked in the regular season.

The other of course, was P.K. Subban. The youngster potted his first NHL goal, in  which Tomas Plekanec promptly retrieved the puck, and gave nearly a full twenty minutes. Yes he made a few mistakes, but against the defending Stanley Cup champions and in just his fifth NHL game, it can be expected. Subban will clearly get more ice time with the injury to Markov. If anything else in this series, watching him learn the NHL game will be a pleasure to watch.

Game Two roster update: In his afternoon press briefing on Saturday, Martin also stated that playing Mathieu Darche or Sergei Kostitsyn will be a game time decision. There was no decision yet on the availability of Jaroslav Spacek (virus), or who the starting goaltender will be.

One thing Martin did do was call upon Roman Hamrlik to step up and fill the void left by Markov’s injury. “In Markov's absence a guy like Roman Hamrlik raised his game,” he said. “We expect the same thing now”

Game time on Sunday is 2pm. to accommodate NBC, that thinks to believe that a game on Sunday afternoon is the norm.

The pain that is watching HNIC: Don’t get me wrong, but Hockey Night in Canada has a great lot of talent on their roster. Jim Hughson, Jeff Marek, Scott Morrison, Pierre LeBrun and Elliotte Friedman are some of the best they have on the screen, not to mention some great, and often unnamed, writers in the background and online.

But why are they using the combination of Bob Cole, Glenn Healy and Gary Galley to call the Cinderella Habs against the defending champions? At some points in the game, I almost wanted to fall asleep. Maybe it was the play in general, but Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire did a much better job on TSN. Galley as a third wheel just doesn’t help the HNIC situation.

There were also major communication problems throughout the broadcast, from video miscues, missed plays (Cole was a little delayed on Mike Cammalleri’s goal) and announcers interrupting each other.

The factual errors were the worst. One that caught my ear was during the Canadiens goaltending change. The trio agreed Halak would be back for Game Two. Unfortunately Healy worded it along the lines of “just like was pulled (in game three of the first round) he came back to start the next game, and we saw how that turned out.” Actually Mr. Healy, Carey Price started that next game, but yes I know how that turned out.

I’ll leave it with this. Is Jaro’s last named misspelled everywhere, or does Donald S. know something we don’t? Mr. Cherry is always going on about respect for the other players. Well doesn’t that start by pronouncing their names right?

Five Keys to Game Two from


The latest from Annakin Slayd “Feel’s like ‘93- 2010 edition”

Annakin has been out doing his thing through Europe and catching Habs playoff games wherever he can.  At the same time he’s remixed his popular music video, excluding the likes of Kovalev and Komisarek. It’s been up for a few days, but the team surely needs some motivation in light of the Markov injury.


These never get dull..

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