|Look it's the only photo of Sid I have, okay?|
RDS is not much better but at least they spread it around and gush over pretty much all French Canadians and not just Crosby. It's great that Montreal fans recognize he's a key player for the sport and treat him accordingly but I don't need the point rammed down my throat every 3.5 seconds, which is about what time I pegged the regularity of "praise Crosby" remarks by the network.
Meanwhile the NHL's referees who continue to alienate not only Habs fans, but from what I'm gleaning off twitter pretty much hockey fans in general. Before we get to the brutal non-call though, there are other things on my mind.
Is there any country other than Canada where it's socially acceptable to ditch people to watch a hockey game? I think not, which means that I live in the greatest country on the planet.
Raphael Diaz is going to be the death of me. He makes me miss Jaroslav Spacek, and that is no small thing. I know St-Denis is young, but I'd have taken the chance and parked Diaz in the pressbox instead. Unfortunately for St-Denis, Jacques Martin does not concur.
Diaz is small and young and green, and he makes his rookie mistakes while paired with another "rookie" Alexei Emelin. Emmy's getting better and earning his ice time, but he's ill qualified to pick up for Diaz's mistakes.
Bylsma taking advantage by mixing up his lines and forcing his top players on the rookie duo caused all kinds of havoc for Montreal. This is what an adaptable coach with foresight and quick thinking can do to benefit his team.
The hit on Kris Letang by Max Pacioretty: questionable. If there was clear consistency in Brendan Shanahan's ruling I'd know which way to vote here but I don't trust Shanahan much more than I trusted Colin Campbell, which was about as far as I could throw him.
Depending on the replay angle it looks like a straight hit that Letang ducked into, or else an unintentional bad one. The fact is Letang bled on the ice after contact was made to the head, so it will likely be reviewed, as it should be.
People can draw comparisons to Campoli all they want, but no two hits are identical and as the referees in tonight's game so perfectly illustrated, us humans are disgustingly fallible. A minor penalty should have probably been called, but a suspension would not surprise me. I look forward to seeing Shanahan either justify one, or defend not issuing one. Either way no one is going to be happy.
Speaking of happy, Hal Gill and Carey Price weren't happy with the refs blowing the game for them. Should the whistle have been blown? Yes. Absolutely. Price had padded / gloved that puck for several heartbeats and I've seen quicker whistles for looser pucks.
Anticipating a whistle the Habs stopped skating and the Pens continued to press unmolested in the crease, eventually diggin the puck away from Price and past him into the Habs net. Props to the Pens for not anticipating a whistle, but continuing to play regardless. And yes the refs blew it, but the Habs did too.
Remember that two goal lead Montreal enjoyed at one point? The refs did their bit to help maintain that too, disallowing not one but two Penguins goals. The chances they were going to disallow a third (which they clearly couldn't blame on Chris Kunitz this time) were about 10 trillion to 1.
The two goals the refs disallowed were the right calls to make, but the Habs were never going to get a third unless Letang (bloody shirt also against the rules Letang) picked up that puck and threw a curve ball into the net.
If the Habs had managed to come out with some fire in their belly in the 2nd and 3rd and continued to play as they had in the 1st then there'd be no bitching about a stupid blown ref call in overtime because the game would never have gone into overtime in the first place.
And this is where I have to wonder if the Habs lauded leadership group is as "off" as Michael Cammalleri, who has turned from a playoff calibre sniper into a defensive non-scoring liability.
Cammalleri hasn't looked right to me all season and I'm not buying the injury excuse either. He won't take a hit to make a play and is showing signs of frustration and snakebite. Travis Moen has more goals than Cammy (and everyone except Pacioretty). I've got Cammy in a hockey pool and I'm wishing to hell I'd taken Moen instead. It's that bad.
I can take Cammy not scoring - they all go through slumps (ask Gomez) - but that Cammy / Pleky (is he hurt) / Gionta line needs to be dismantled. It's a disaster and I get that Cole and Desharnais and Pacioretty are working well together, but swap out Gio and Cole then because Pleky's line needs size and better forechecking and defense by someone other than just Tomas Plekanec.
Speaking of Gionta, I have long backed him as team captain but I'm starting to wonder. Not only does he seem to not fire up his team mates and help refocus them between periods, he can't do it for himself anymore either. Neither does the coach. Perhaps they should be drinking cases of Red Bull between periods.
There are times a little ass kicking is in order and when Montreal constantly returns to the ice and morphs from Jeckyll into Hyde - that's one of those times. Gio was my pick to step up to that plate and I'm thinking that - as usual - I don't know jack shit and what's Larry Robinson up to these days anyway?
I read the Roy biography and I remember how Robinson straightened out his team and in particular a cocky young kid and perhaps Gio and Gill and Markov ought to read it. Maybe I can send them a copy as a Christmas gift, with the relevant passages highlighted. I dunno.
Until these Habs find a bit of fire in their belly, find a way to overcome the mental lapses that sees them stop skating when up a couple of goals, and stop returning to the ice almost lacksadasical after intermissions, I don't expect much to change no matter what Don Cherry says.
And since when does Don Cherry go soft on the Habs and hard on Crosby? It has been a long time since I agreed with him and it feels strange... like I lost a tooth or something and my tongue keeps digging around in my mouth searching for it.
From where I sit this team still hovers near the .500 mark and that's just not going to be good enough. If the Habs are still in this boat come Christmas, will Pierre Gauthier make a move? Will Geoff Molson?