Saturday, October 17, 2009

L'Artiste Steals The Show

It was an unforgettable moment in a largely forgettable game.

With the Senators clinging to a 2-1 lead just over halfway through the 3rd period, former Hab fan favourite Alexei Kovalev found himself all alone in the slot with the puck and he buried it behind a helpless Carey Price.

At first there was just stunned silence, and a smattering of boos. Then, slowly, a cheer started to build throughout the building as a large contingent of Montreal fans stood to give the player they once so affectionately called "L'artiste" a standing ovation.

Sure, some were still booing and trying to drown out the spontaneous cheers (Kovalev had been booed throughout the game prior to the goal) but the cameras showed a large contingent of the crowd being swept up in the moment and standing for number 27. While CBC neglected to show us a shot of Montreal GM Bob Gainey, you can imagine the look that would have been on his face.

So while the Canadiens find themselves in a funk in front of perhaps the most intense set of fans in the NHL, the Ottawa Senators sail contentedly into a 4 day break before taking on the struggling Nashville Predators at home on Thursday.

And for that, they also have goalie Pascal Leclaire to thank, who made 27 saves, a lot of them at important times in the game.

Kovalev's linemates in Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher also played strong at times in a game that was mediocre if you were looking for end to end excitement.

Black Aces 3 Stars

1. Alex Kovalev
2. Pascal Leclaire
3. Daniel Alfredsson


A must read article: Jack Todd's outright knifing of Brian Burke (and to a lesser extent, Bob Gainey).

"It's impossible to watch TSN or Hockey Night in Canada without getting overexposed to what the inimitable M. Strapp describes as Burke's "televangelist
hair," not to mention his Rush Limbaugh bluster.

Unfortunately, where the NFL had the good sense to tell Limbaugh to take a flying fandango at a rolling donut, Burke is still seen as some kind of hero. Maybe that's because he persuaded the league to waive the rules and allow his Ducks to run roughshod over the poor unsuspecting Ottawa Senators, who were naive enough to think the NHL would actually enforce its Brave New Rules in a Stanley Cup final."

..... It was great to see Brian McGrattan get the Gordie Howe hat-trick for the Flames the other night and even better to see Don Cherry show the highlights with the Rocky theme on Coaches Corner. How long before Cherry gives some love to Matt Carkner, a Cherry type player if there ever was one?......Speaking of Carkner, HNIC commentator Cassie Campbell intimated that the defenseman could be out of a roster spot once Filip Kuba gets healthy. Obviously, Cassie hasn't been watching the Senators games this year. Carkner isn't going anywhere. Otherwise, Cassie Campbell is one of the most likable commentators on HNIC. She just keeps getting better and better. Gary Galley is also a rising star on the legendary show. He's just so solid. Rookie Guy Carbonneau has some work to do. He didn't have much of a presence during the game and speaks too softly. He is very knowledgeable though, and provided some good insights as a former coach........ Bob Cole has made some legendary calls and can really capture the moment beautifully, as evidenced by his distinctive voice popping up on a large amount of historic highlights . But he seems to miss as many moments as he catches lately. A few great saves by Pascal Leclaire were met with total silence. On other less exciting plays, Cole was blowing the roof off. He failed to really gauge the crowd reaction during the Kovalev ovation and only seemed to notice about 30 seconds later when he remarked casually that "the crowd is cheering now". Still, Cole will be greatly missed when he moves on. As classy a personality as there is in broadcasting......

It's (very) early, but King Henrik Lundqvist has to be the current favourite to win the Vezina and Michael Del Zotto is making his case for the Calder. Even John Tortorella has the early lead for the Jack Adams. With Wade Redden playing better and Marian Gaborik staying healthy, the Rangers are in great shape right now. I guess it always helps when you get to play a team like the Leafs twice early in the schedule. The cigar chewing Glen Sather has taken a lot of heat over the years but his ability to move Scott Gomez and his mammoth contract was one of the most masterful moves in recent memory...... Mike Milbury might have been a bit of a gong show as a GM, but I like him as a personality on HNIC. He's gruff and looks like he might punch fellow commentators out at any moment, but it's also the right balance from the two other "nice guy" panellists on the Satellite Hotstove Segment.

Nicest moment of the night? After the Toronto - New York game, rookie Michael Del Zotto was interviewed and he mentioned that his ailing grandmother made it to the ACC to see her grandchild score a goal in his first hometown game in Toronto. As Del Zotto put it, if his Grandma was going to move for anything, it was to make it to the rink and that she would have to spend the next two days in bed recovering.

No, I'm not crying. There's just something in my eye.


Anonymous said...

very well written, thank you for these reviews.

Anonymous said...

It was really something to see the crowd booing the Habs off the ice at the end of the game. CBC then switched to the Leaf game, and the crowd was also booing the Leafs off the ice.

The two most storied franchises in the league are under the gun.

I'm a bit of a stats nut, so I looked at the standings for the last two years. It looks like 79 points and lower gets you a lottery pick. The Leafs have to play .527 hockey, the rest of the way, to avoid being a lottery pick. Not happening.

Boston may have netted themselves Taylor Hall or at least some other stud. Incidentally, playoffs are already out of the question, as they have to play .620 hockey to get 94 points, the normal cut-off point.

If it ends up that Burke has traded away a future superstar, I think the PR hit will cost him his job within a year. Leafs nation will be fuming and the anger will build. The media will not let it go.

That's why if I'm Burke, I do something unconventional to avoid being in the lottery. Call Sundin and ask him to come back. It would make for a proper ending for Mats as well. I think he can still play.

As for the Sens game, I thought it was pretty boring as well. When Carbo started talking, I thought it's not working. Then, his substance won me over. He's definitely substance over style. I like him. Galley's got both though.

I think the Rangers look great, but like you said, Gaborik needs to stay healthy. I'm glad Redden looks like he's finding his game. Also liked the Grats tribute by Cherry.

On the Hotstove, they talked about the Paul Kelly thing. I think that the players can capitalize on a huge opportunity if they bring him back. It's pretty clear that Penney, Pink, and Hargrove wanted to put a knife in his back.

The conventional thing to do is to settle with Kelly, then turf the trouble makers, and then find a new executive director.

That's textbook. Nothing changes and life goes on. I think the players have an opportunity to grab the moral high ground in the public's mind. They can do that by bringing Kelly back.

The public is so sick of hearing about wrongdoing in the business world. If the players actually reversed a wrong into a right, I think that they could re-define their union as organizaton that tries to do what's right, as opposed to a union that is trying to fight for every dollar it can get. It would be refreshing.

In the next CBA negotiation, the public might actually trust the players more, than a group of owners who seem to be taking turns going to jail.

In the next negotiation, the players could for once be seen as the side that fights for what's right and is fair. They would have their actions to back them up.

Like I said, the owners seem to be a legally challenged group. The players have an opportunity to show that they stand for something more noble.

Joe said...

Written well as always! Thanks for the link to the article as well. It also linked to another one that your readers might be interested in reading: "A truculent Start" -