For those out there with insomnia, one would hope you got this game on tape so you can play it anytime you need to get to sleep. In what was probably one of the biggest yawners of the year, the Montreal Canadiens managed to score deep into overtime to beat the offensively inept Carolina Hurricanes.
The first started out okay for the home side, and in fact they completely outshot the Canes but could get nothing by Kevin Weekes. One can only imagine what the score could have been had the Canadiens been working as hard as they did in the Senators game recently, and if Weekes had faltered even slightly.
At one point late in the period, Patrice Brisebois took a high stick to the face which elicited no call from the refs. The plain and simple truth is that there wasn’t penalty material on the play. A player who hits someone in the face in the process of a wind-up or follow-through of a shot cannot be penalized; it’s the only exception to the one rule that’s been well-called all year long by all refs – and kudos to them. It only makes sense, actually, otherwise people would be getting in the way of wind-ups all the time to take penalties. Imagine the Darcy Tucker’s of the league then…
The second continued the general lethargy that struck the Habs, though Saku Koivu did make a few fine plays, particularly on one powerplay where he hit two consecutive posts. There were others on the Canadiens that worked hard all night, however it takes a concerted effort by the club, and not just by a few individuals to make a ‘team’.
Concentration seemed to be a big problem, perhaps because the Canadiens took the Canes a little lightly. Numerous times pucks drifted off sticks before plays could be made, or shots were made from utterly inane locations. It was like there was a mental block preventing the team from performing at its best.
Overtime came and once again the refs were put into question since there were players from both teams in the box. Again, they were vindicated by the rulebook, and even though there was a good stretch of five-on-five hockey, the call was correct.
Finally, mercifully, as the eternal seconds ticked down on this game that had the same allure as a croquet match, Michael Ryder (who else) made something happen then back-passed the puck to Andrei Markov. This latter streaked into the corner of the Carolina zone, waited patiently for the dawdling of his intended recipient, then fired a tape-to-tape pass which Mike Ribeiro converted to the relief of everyone watching.
No doubt the cleaning staff at the Bell Centre will have a little extra work with all the drool the full house left on their seats.