If there was ever an example of how Montreal fans over-react after losses, last night sure presents as one. First, the Big Bad Bruins, still high off of their second win in 10 games against the Habs get tuned by the Red Wings, a team that relies on skill and veteran leadership far more than the fists of players like Betuzzi or Rafalski. Aparently the invincible goon squad isn’t the new NHL model after all.
Second, the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins played a game that made the Boston-Montreal match look like a love-in. Almost twice as many penalty minutes were handed out in a game that was out of control from the very beginning. The synapsis of fights is on YouTube and will take you a half an hour to view all of the altercations. Incidentally the final score was 9-3 Islanders – although that seems like a trivial matter this morning.
So where does that leave your Montreal Canadiens? Calls throughout the fanbase have urged Pierre Gauthier to find a tough player to ensure that the crazy result in Boston is not repeated. On one hand I agree. The Habs are a little team through the lineup. Our roster is lacking balance. By the same token, nothing that went on last night between the Isles and Pens was avoided due to either team’s enforcers. In fact, the enforcers when given carte blanche to run wild (as was also the case in Boston) turned the game into a mockery. Just shy of 400 penalty minutes were handed out in a game that only lasts 60. That’s over 6 minutes of penalties for every 1 played.
Detroit whipped Boston. They didn’t need to defend against a barrage of fists to do so. That’s because they scored goals. I still think that if Desharnais had scored early on Thomas, little of what went on in that game would have occured.
Tonight we face the Leafs who will no doubt try to amplify the physical game versus the Habs. If the Canadiens want to discourage goonery it would behove them to score first. If you use speed and skill to break down the opposition’s defense – you don’t need to worry about their fists. Until Gauthier makes a move that improves Montreal’s toughness, this team will need to help themselves and their tired old defenders by scoring more goals.
Go Habs Go!!!