Thursday, April 23, 2009

Habs Gone, But You Won't Shake Me So Easily

Last season, I'll admit I'd had enough after Game 5. I guess all the ups and downs were tiring. This season's elimination seems to have reinvigorated me (at least today). So I'll be posting whenever I have some hare-brained thoughts about this team just as if none of this ever happened.

One thing you won't see from us is some kind of tracking of the rest of the NHL teams. While I am interested in the others, the passion comes from the Canadiens and nowhere else. In fact, I realised after reading all there was to read about the Habs (and then again) that I didn't even really know what was happening in the other games. I guess the RDS reports were in one ear and out the other. With that in mind, I would never commit to trying to watch two teams I don't care about for a full game.

Watching last night's game, I felt there was a need this morning to reacknowledge some of the work done by the players in very difficult situations last night. Tobalev's dome was dead on for me, but I'd like to go beyond and mention a few guys whose effort and pluck I appreciated last night and the preceding weeks:

1) Roman Hamrlik
Say what you want about this guy, but he was signed to come and play the third man in. Not since his days in Long Island has he been a number one, and with that in mind, I thought he did very very well. It's a shame that his game gets tainted with another timely Ryder goal.

2) Chris Higgins
This slump is the best thing that ever happened to Higgins and us. We need a player on the bottom lines like Chris and his stats now make him affordable in that capacity. He'll get 20+ goals again one year too.

3) Josh Gorges
This guy was playing over his head too, but he gives us something to build on at the back. He has shown fans that quickness and stick work is as good a defence as most.

4) Yannick Weber
Despite getting the Swiss treatment (pre-judgment on not being able to play defense properly), he played defense properly. He has to be the brightest prospect that we can hope to see for a few years.

5) Jaroslav Halak
He sits there at the ready. He even bows his head with disappointment at the end of it. He could have thrown a tantrum (he might yet), he could have been the one making gestures; but he conducted himself with everything we ask a Canadiens player to be. Of everyone on this team, he has had the most tumultuous season and probably learned a bundle. I look forward to watching his next game – hopefully in bleu, blanc, rouge.

6) Tomas Plekanec
No he can't score at the moment and bad things seem to follow him around, but his example for trying to break the hex has been stunningly good. Many will not shed a tear if he finds new pastures, but except against unwieldy expectations, he has mostly delivered.

7) Matt D'Agostini
This guy wasn't even on our prospect list before last season. It's amazing how he's filled in. He got us into the playoffs in our first "playoff" game vs. Boston and has done whatever was asked of him.

8) Maxim Lapierre
For doing what he knows how to do consistently and consistently well. If the QMJHL were full of Max's I'd be all for the drive to dedicate half of our picks to that league. Alas, it isn't so...

This list could go on. Obviously our stars need no further recognition, both of them were stars even in this series. The injured boys deserve acknowledgement too for trying their darndest to try and make it back, and for playing injured (rather than sitting healthy as the cynics would prefer you to believe).

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge what must have been a big achievement for the young man, Carey Price as he finally showed some anger on the ice – it's a good first step, now let's channel it into a summer of reflex work...

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