Saturday, December 11, 2010

Leaf fans in a giving mood

"Some maple (leaf) syrup for your waffles, sir?"

'Tis the season for giving. 

And Leafs fans really gave it to their team on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre, following a weak, 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, in the form of waffles being tossed onto the ice to show their displeasure with the performance of the Blue and White.

Why waffles? Beats me. Maybe they were out of raspberries, but it probably came about in a conversation something like this: "Honey, I'm going to the game tonight with the guys. In the probable event that the Leafs suck, do we have anything that I could toss onto the ice? Toe rubbers went out of fashion soooo long ago." 

Alternatively: "I hate the Leafs. They're waffle."

The Habs' opponent for tonight's game at the A.C.C. hasn't been having a great season, but one of their few victories came in the season opener against the Habs. For that game the Habs were without the services of Andrei Markov and Mike Cammalleri. Tonight they'll be missing an ailing Scott Gomez and... Andrei Markov. Add to that the fact that the Habs played a tough game last night in Detroit coupled with the Leafs having been idle, and it adds up to what will probably be a tough night, win or lose, for the Canadiens. Or they'll kick the Leafs' asses and put Leaf coach Ron Wilson one step closer to the ledge. What the hell do I know?

Look for the Habs to try to use their speed to force the Leafs to take penalties. The Leafs' penalty-killing "efficiency" sits at only 76%, and they've allowed almost a goal per game more than the Canadiens. Hab-castoff Mikhail Grabovski has scored in each of the last three games.

David Desharnais has been recalled from the Bulldogs, though it remains to be seen if he'll be in the lineup for the Habs. On a down note, Mike Komisarek will miss the game for the Leafs, which means that Mike Cammalleri will have one fewer players feeding him tape-to-tape passes in the slot for easy goals.

Tonight's game is, for the first time, being broadcast in 3-D on Hockey Night in Canada. Let's hope that 3-D doesn't stand for Dreadful, Dire and Disheartening.

2010-2011 Regular Season, Game 30: Canadiens at Maple Leafs

  • The John Lennon tribute on Hockey Night In Canada was nice, but wouldn't it have been better to air it the week before the anniversary? Feels like they forgot about it and are trying to catch up.
  • Leafs are having a "Homecoming Night". Lots of ex-Leafs being introduced. They shouldn't do this. It just reminds viewers of how many medioce players they've had over the years.
  • Leaf ceremonies always look awkward, like a bunch of high school boys standing around the edge of the gym waiting for a girl to ask them to dance. That said, Johnny Bower was one the the true greats. I would have taken Sittler and Clark on my team, too. But Todd Warriner being touted as an immortal? Yikes!

  • Cool! The Habs are in red tonight, for game 705 between these teams
  • Cammy misses the net on a breakaway. Not a good omen
  • At this rate, the Habs will end up with more icings than shots on goal
  • Not good. Auld looses sight of a puck in the crease for an easy tap-in by Kessel. 1-0 Leafs
  • Halfway through the 1st, and the Habs have yet to register a shot
  • CA-REY!!! Auld whiffs on Kaberle's 1st goal of the season. 2-0 Leafs. And now Spacek is off with an injured hand
  • Man, CBC's picture is jittery
  • Grabovski high-sticks, Subban, no call
  • Picard and Subban both -2 this period

Just about everything that could go wrong that period, did. The Habs followed up one of their best periods of the season in Detroit last night with one of the worst in Toronto Last night. Outshot 11-4, beat on faceoffs 12-7, down by 2 goals and a defenseman.

  • Well, at least they're showing a little more jump at the start of this period
  • Darche takes a spear in front of the Leaf net, no call. Refereeing hasn't been the greatest over the last couple of games
  • Shots 5-1 for Montreal so far this period, but all from the outside and ineffective
  • Kessel hadn't scored in 11 games, Kaberle in 36. You just know that Kadri will score his 1st tonight
  • Best part of the game: lots of AC/DC being blasted over the Air Canada Centre P.A.
  • That makes up for missing on the breakaway in the first. Cammy with a wrist shot from the slot. Pleks and AK46 with the assists. 2-1 Leafs

The Habs skated a lot better in that period, catching the Leafs back on their heels for a number of rushes. Spacek gone for the game with an "upper body" (read: hand) injury. Shots: Montreal 12 (14) and Toronto 3 (14). Leafs lead in faceoffs, 32-18.

  • So many empty seasts at the beginning of a period in Torono tooks AWFUL on TV. You'd think that we were watching a game in Atlanta or Long Island
  • WEAK penalty call against Hamrlik; a one-handed crosscheck, apparently
  • A pretty uneventful period so far
  • Hey... the Habs get a powerplay!
  • But they do nothing with it
  • There's been a serious lack of speed from both teams. Boring... I feel sorry for anyone who paid to be at this game
  • A little life, but is it too little too late?
  • Yeah, it was too late. And to top it off, and empty-net goal to finish it. 3-1 Leafs.


Spacek executes the 'game plan'; shoot from bad angles and a long way out. Photo: Dave Sanford/Getty Images

What a difference 24 hours makes. Last night, between the Habs and Red Wings, we were treated to playoff-calibre hockey, and the third period was one of the best periods of hockey that the Habs had played all season. That's followed up with an extremely flat performance against a low talent team, making for a very unentertaining game to watch.

Quite simply, the Habs have a knack for playing up, or as in the case of tonight, down to the level of their opponents. As a fan it may be frustrating, especially because the Leafs didn't play a great game, but considering that they wouldn't play any bad teams in the playoffs it's a habit that I can deal with in (very) small doses.

Alex Auld might have sucked on the first two Leaf goals, but the rest of the team wasn't great, either, and didn't give him a lot of support. Still, it's tough to be down by two early while having to did yourself out of a hole. Kudos, to Alex, though, for getting sharp and holding the team in it for the rest of the game. Final shots were 23-22 for Montreal, with Toronto holding the edge in faceoffs, 35-30.

Never mind the final score, the biggest loss tonight might be that of Jaroslav Spacek. With Andrei Markov already out for the season, Spacek has been teaming up with Roman Hamrlik on the team's first defensive pairing. There's no word yet on the severity of his "upper body" injury, but if he's out long-term, the Habs are really going to miss his veteran play, especially with a tough couple of games coming up against Philadelphia and Boston.

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