Friday, October 29, 2010

Fishsticks for dinner... again?

Biting the hand that feeds you

Christie Brinkley is an Islander fan.

Or at least, she purports to be in a new commercial that's shucking ticket packages for a little as 19 bucks per game. Christie must have money problems. $19? It's costs me more to go and see the Hamilton Bulldogs. But still... Christie Brinkley? Perennially on of the hottest women on the planet, and Islander fan? Makes sense, I guess, since she has a history of having a thing for losers. Clark Griswold comes to mind.

The Islanders have also created somewhat of a stir among Hab fans with their "No Habs No" campaign, which is meant to show the fans in bleu, blanc et rouge that Nassau Coliseum is Islanders country. Well, duh. If we actually liked it there, we'd make it Canadiens Country, and our snowbirds wouldn't have as far to travel.

The marketing geniuses customer unappreciation specialists of the Islanders are apparently trying to ward off a phenomenon that has beset their beleaguered franchise for a while now: their team being lustily booed in their own building. Not that it doesn't regularly happen from the locals, but Hab fans tend to show up en masse--thousands at a time--and turn the proceedings into a de facto Canadiens home game. All that's missing is Michel Lacroix on the mic and a couple of cute-as-buttons pregame flag-bearers. Hey, it's our party, and we'll 'ole ole ole' if we want to. At least we're buying your tickets, which is more that you can say for your fans. Besides, you don't want to piss us off. We burned the White House once. Don't make us come down there and do it again.

Tonight's game is the second half of a home-and-home, the Habs having skated a great game in winning Wednesday night at the Bell Centre. Rumour has it that the Canadiens are indeed carrying two goalies on their roster, and tonight we'll supposedly get visual proof of this as some guy named Alex Auld will be between the pipes. I expect him to be reasonable busy tonight. Whether or not he's reasonably good will be answered sometime around 10pm.

2010-2011 Regular Season, Game 10: Montreal at New York Islanders

  • D'oh! Technical problems... hopefully the game is up soon
  • Bingo! Picture back just in time to see Pleks flip one up and in on the short side... and on the powerplay, no less! 1-0 Habs!
  • You'd think that after that fiasco in Toronto that players would be careful around the goaltender fo the next little while. Right, Max? Laps off for goaltendner interference 
  • Is Cammy a little gun-shy? He just passed up on a beauty scoring chance, instead looking to make the perfect play
  • Auld looks steady, but rusty. He's being diplomatic with his rebounds, making sure that both teams receive their fair share. 
  • Off the end of a powerplay, Isles have their first sustained pressure of the period

Habs picked up right were they left off against the Islanders on Wednesday night, dominating both territorial play, the shot clock, and the scoreboard. Shots in the first period: Montreal 12, Fishermen 7. 

  • Lots of Hab fans and empty seats. Guess that their "we'll show them who's in charge" promotion didn't work as well as they thought it would
  • Isles forechecking hard in hopes of getting to the Habs before they can use their speed
  • Sweet! Auld stones Matt Moulson on a breakaway! Not sweet: Pouliot falls down (again) creating the turnover that led to the breakaway. Benny... sharpen your skates!
  • The "classic" design of these Iles uniforms look really sharp. Nice change considering the crap that they've worn over the last number of years
  • Refs are pulling out their whistles, and the calls aren't going in favour of the Habs. No worries, 5-on-3 killed off
  • 4 minutes left in the period, and the Habs have 3 shots. But they've won 21 of 31 faceoffs
  • You could see that coming. Sloppy play behind the net, and Pleks misses his check in front of Auld. Bang bang, and it's tied at 1.
  • Habs up to 4 shots, and more rough stuff to end the period

Welcome to the NHL, Matt Martin. He scores his first career goal in a period where the Islanders out-hustled the Habs at both ends of the ice. This was like the anti-first period. Islanders finished it with 13 shots (20), the Habs with less than a handful... 4, to be exact, for a total of 16.

  • Gill starts the period for 5 minutes in the penalty box
  • Auld has played well enough to deserve the win. Let's see if they can get it for him. Some forechecking and a little offensive pressure would be a nice change, too
  • Ugh. Habs still giving up the blue line way too easily
  • That makes up for the falling down! Halpern feeds a wide-open Pouliot in the slot. Great wrist shot. 2-1 Habs!
  • Aaaaand... Chris Lee strikes again. Habs have to kill their 5th penalty
  • Aside from the first couple of minutes, this period has been much more even. Shots at 8 apiece
  •  I'd hate to be in the 50/50 draw there tonight. You'd be lucky if you won your money back
  • Auld suits the number 35 far mote than Pleks did
  • Insurance goal! Gionta throws one on net from the boards, Moen deflects. 3-1 Habs!
  • Isles hear the Goodbye Song in their own building. Na na hey hey... and time runs out!

That's more like it! Habs bushed back in the 3rd period, making up for the 19 minutes that they took off in the second. Auld, Pleks and Benny with the game stars. Shots in the 3rd: 10 for Montreal (26) and 11 for the Islanders (31). Habs also did a great job in the faceoff circle, winning 34 of 57.

The difference between .968 and 1.000. Thanks to Habs/Inside Out for the photo. 

I normally wouldn't eat fish twice in the span of a few days, but when it's as satisfying as feasting on the Fishsticks to the tune of four points, I'll make due.

There were quite a few sideways glances when the Canadiens signed veteran journeyman Alex Auld to backup Carey Price. Thanks to Price's great start to the season, it took until game 10 for us to see what Alex the Bald would bring to the table. Thankfully, he's been working hard to keep the rust off, and it showed in the win tonight over the Islanders. Ok, well, he was still a little rusty; a few of those long point shots, courtesy of big rebounds, ended up as secondary scoring chances in the slot. However, no harm, no foul. Kudos also to the defence who for the most part kept the shooting lanes clear and gave Auld ample opportunity to track the puck.

Two games against the Islanders, and two wins. And don't look now, but that CH that you see at the top of the league standing (at least for now) represents your Montreal Canadiens! A 7-2-1 record to start the season, especially with Andrei Markov having yet to play a game is quite extraordinary. Add to that a weak-assed, 30th-ranked powerplay, and their start is even more incredible. 

Back home against Florida tomorrow night, and the more things change, the more they stay the same. Last year Coach Martin had to deal with with the self-imposed Great Goalie Controversy. This year, it's time to play Who's Number Seven, as Martin will have to figure out who heads to the press box to make room for the return of Andrei Markov. A cursory glance would have you think that it would be Alexandre Picard who'll be sampling the Bell Centre munchies, though he's been steady as a rock and currently has a plus/minus rating of +7, which is something like 10th in the entire league.

Of course, Martin could decide to go a forward short and dress seven defensemen in order to give him a little flexibility as Markov eases back up to game speed. It's a tactic that he used last year in similar situations. Either way, it's not an easy decision. But then again, that's why he gets paid the big bucks, and I write this blog.   


lissa said...

I saw your post on HabsInside/Out and checked out your blog. I'm a new fan. Your post on the negative ad campaign the Islanders put out had me grinning ear-to-ear. Brilliant writing. Thanks for the smiles!


Thanks, Lissa. Hopefully the Habs will afford us many more smiles before the season is over!