Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sleeping with the enemy.....

Well sort of. Last night in the spirit of the season, (and a little bit of boredom) I decided to try something different, experiment a little and broaden my hockey horizons. I signed on to the Pens live chat room, introduced myself as “a Habs fan that loved the Habs but was less than enamored with some of their fans.” The chat room occupants thought that was “pretty cool and awesome”. They welcomed me with open arms, it was a very intimate affair and quite honestly ten men is more than enough for a lone chick to handle in an evening.

I have things in common with Pens fans, we both hate the Bruins, loathe the dreaded Flyers & we all love Kovy. They love the nicknames “big tits, lil tits, AK27 and zombie pleks. They were happy that Sid the kid finally potted one (he’s been in a scoring slump) and I was even happier when AK46 got a hattie. We chatted about Price, in their opinion he cost us the Flyers’ series, I had to concur and I also commented on how he’ll really need to steal a few games for us if we want to have a successful run come playoff time. (Later on they were quick to point out that he was off to a good start, he stole one for us tonight).

We chatted about Sid the kid, I would love to see him wearing the “CH” one day, he became a Habs fan at the tender age of six, he watched them hoist the cup in ’93 and worshipped Patrick Roy growing up.

A fun time was had by all and the win was the cherry on the cake for me. Of course I didn’t lord it over them and advised them all to be patient, the best hockey starts now. We all agreed it would be “awesome” to meet in the Eastern Conference finals this year after doing away with the Bruins and Flyers.

So what started out as a one-night stand turned into a very enjoyable evening and I’ve been asked out on a second date. So a big hello to my new buds, redrum69, redrum71, pittfan and sid_lover, we’ll meet again on Feb 3!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Anything but predictable.....

You can call the Habs a lot of things (and I have) but predictable isn’t one of them. At the beginning of the season who would have predicted:

Lapierre, Begin and Greek Lightning becoming in many ways the number one line. I’ve nicknamed them the “EB’s” (energizer bunnies); they just keep going and going and going. Lapierre is really coming along nicely and Begin is definitely a keeper.

Brisboises' on ice performance is better than last year. He has really gone beyond the call of duty and on some nights been the steadiest player out there. He’s also been contributing offensively, which has been a Godsend with the team in a worrisome scoring drought throughout the first 30 games.

Pleks is our Spezza, and I ‘m saying that not out of any disrespect for his talent, but when the going gets tough, Pleks is gone. He doesn’t get involved in any physical play, in other words, he doesn’t like getting hit. Even Kovy and the brothers K can bring a little grit when needed, I’ve have yet to see that from Pleks and that won’t bode well for him come playoff time. Here’s a little tip Pleks, get your hands on some nasty pills and see how that works for ya.

Komi got off to a shaky start, and in some games had more giveaways than an infomercial. I think having the “spa” break did him a world of good. He’s refocused, driven and he brings confidence and leadership to the team. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I vividly remember a photo of him comforting Price after we fell to the Flyers in the playoffs. He will be the next captain.

Kovalev going 20 games without a goal, oh the horror! I was so stressed out, having dreams about it, waking up in the middle of the night wondering if he would ever score again, I can’t even imagine how he felt. Saks injury came at the right time (if there ever is a right time), don’t misunderstand me, I love Saks and I can die happy once he skates around the rink with number 25, but if that’s what it took to get Kovy going, then it’s just what the doctor ordered. Wearing the “C’ brings him a heightened sense of responsibility and commitment to the team. Maybe a solution would be to have “C1 and C2” logos made, I think Saks would be fine with that. he never struck me as someone who needs recognition as the team’s Captain, he’s quietly confident in himself and leads naturally by example. Wearing the “C’ seems to bring out the best in Kovy, he needs the recognition much like he thrives off of the cheers from adoring fans, one feeds off the other. Rumor has it there are already construction plans being drawn up to add a solarium to the dressing room…. hmmmm.

Wee Dags scoring 5 goals, what a great start, SK being sent to his room with a time out, Carbo’s honing his babysitting skills.

All in all I’m happy with my team so far, and I really feel they can go all the way exactly as they are. I was recently reading an interview with Elmer Lach, his two favorite players are Saks and Komi. He also thinks this team can win, but cautions that the coach is the key, by setting the pace and being able to adapt to whatever comes their way. Well, there you have it boys, listen to the coach, number 25 depends on it. Oh and by the way, Elmer, I’m glad you agree with me, you’re one smart cookie!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On Alex Kovalev.....

For the most part, Alex Kovalev led this team to first place in the Eastern Conference last season. He was our most prolific goal scorer and quickly became a fan favorite, entertaining us with his dazzling skill set. I was expecting great things from him this year, but we’re 26 games into the season and so far our boy hasn’t given us much to cheer about.

I do however have empathy for the guy, with only a handful of goals and this being a contract year, I’m certain he feels an enormous amount of pressure to perform as good if not better than last year.

Saku Koivu carried this team for eleven years and finally last season had a decent supporting cast around him to share the load, with Kovalev playing the biggest role.

With the additions of Alex Tanguay and Robert Lang, it gives Kovalev a bit of breathing space and he is still contributing to the team in a positive way with leadership and some brilliant playmaking. I don’t want to see him traded, I believe he still has the passion and wants to retire as a Hab. But what will it take to get our boy back on track?

To quote Winston Churchill on Russia,

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma…but perhaps there is a key…. that key is Russian National interest.

Bob, offer him a new contract.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Herding cats......

I, as many of you have been puzzled and left scratching my head over the Habs performance this season. Considering it was the same core team as last year with a couple of good additions, this year’s edition should be at least as good if not better, right?

Hmmm. …. well it hasn’t quite worked out that way. During the Detroit game, I had a light bulb moment; it became clear to me that the problem was not due to lack of coaching abilities. The coaches had done their homework on this one, a plan was made, a specific blueprint drawn and the team followed it to perfection.

For the most part, I believe Carbo & the coaching staff let the guys do their own thing last year, they were playing great offensive hockey, having a blast and winning a lot of games along the way. Making the playoffs was the main goal; it wasn’t a serious cup run.

Carbo (whom I suspect may know a thing or two about hockey) knows exactly what this team has to do to be successful on any given night, the tough part is getting the team to buy into it and sticking to it, that’s what his big challenge will be. Not easy, kinda like trying to herd cats. There’s an abundance of talent on this team, which up until the Detroit game has not been reflected on the ice.

Gainey is serious about a cup run this year, so any strays that are deemed “uncoachable” (and yes, that means you too Kovy) could very easily find themselves put up for adoption.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On Patrick Roy

When the announcement came that the Habs planned to retire Patrick Roy’s jersey on November 22, I started thinking about his years with the Habs and realized (a little sheepishly) that I don’t have many memories of him.

Ken Dryden defined the Habs for me, starting with the Canada / Russia series and through the seventies when the team captured six Stanley Cups. A decade of excellence and a very spoiled fan was born.

When the cups started dwindling, I must admit so did my interest, I didn’t follow the team that closely during the eighties and nineties. After the win in ’93 I actually had the audacity to say “meh, it wasn’t one of our best ones.” Wow, can you even imagine having the luxury of saying that now.

Fifteen years later, being older & wiser and having suffered through the longest Stanley Cup drought in Habs history, I’ve started to appreciate what Patrick means to a whole generation of younger fans and why they worship him.

I had to go through several YouTube videos to truly see what the fuss was all about, so now the verdict is in. He was sensational.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lowering Expectations

How much lower can I go, the snake’s belly is in plain sight…

For the first time in my many years of Habfandom I actually wanted them to lose this game tonight. The last thing they needed was another win that they didn’t deserve, paving the way for more of the same crap we watched tonight.

I’ve lowered my expectations, no more silly notions of miracle cup runs, or a sense of entitlement because it’s their centennial year, but when a team finishes first in the Eastern Conference they have a responsibility to at least play some decent hockey for their fans, we’re not even getting that. I’m officially pissed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time to get real!!

I, like most Hab fans have been caught up in the hype of the Habs’ 100 year celebrations. Let’s start by pushing that fact aside (and I know it’s difficult) so we can take a more realistic look at the team and our expectations of them.

Detroit has set the standard as the elite team in today’s NHL. They have managed 100 point seasons in eight consecutive years and hoisted three Stanley Cups along the way.

The Habs have had one really good season in fifteen years; does that automatically qualify them for a Stanley Cup this year? Right, it doesn’t.

We’re still a work in progress; there are still missing pieces to our puzzle. By Christmas we should have a fairly good idea of where this team is headed. If we are realistic ”down to earth” fans our biggest hope should be that they are a good competitive team that can hold their own against teams like Detroit. Anything beyond that is not being fair to our team or our collective sanity.

FYI…...Zeller’s has red velvet Habs Christmas stockings with a nice CH logo embroidered on front. Good value for $9.99. So now, my game ritual includes light a candle, have a picture of Secretariat on my laptop and gaze at the stocking hanging from my fireplace. I do have a confession to make; I have to take partial responsibility for the Bruins brutal beating on Thursday. I only lit the candle after the first period.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

After the Boston debacle.........

After the Boston debacle, J.T (from – Other Wing) made an interesting point. in her third period review. “There’s something missing with this team”. Indeed there is, but what is it? I’ve spent some time thinking about it and this is what I think is the missing ingredient.

I do admire the Pittsburgh Penguins after watching their playoff run against the Detroit Red Wings last year. One thing that struck me, they never gave up although at times it looked like men versus boys on the ice, those Pens hung on like tenacious little terriers. Ultimately Detroit prevailed, but one couldn’t help but feel the pain of loss in the faces of Crosby, Malkin & the sight of Fleury just lying in the goal crease. (Reminiscent of the scene in Braveheart when he realizes Robert the Bruce has betrayed him).

I’ve yet to see the same reaction from the Habs. In comparison to the Pens, they “conceded” to the Flyers.

Saku Koivu made a comment after the Toronto game last Saturday, “when you have played on a not so great team for many years, you don’t take a loss seriously”. (Note to Saku: Habs fans take losses deadly seriously). Koivu, through no fault of his own, doesn’t “hate to lose”. Sid the kid does. The great Habs of the fifties, sixties and seventies hated to lose. Patrick Roy hated to lose. That’s how championships are won.

Saku is a great leader on & off the ice, his show of heart and work ethic are second to none. But until he and his team “hate to lose” we won’t make it to the Promised Land.