It began just fine, except for the mention from the broadcasters that the Canadiens haven’t won a game in the west in almost six years. The team killed penalties, got chances, skated hard. Then Edmonton’s Mike Comrie scored late in the first period, and it was the beginning of the end.
Yes, Comrie broke in hard, but Montreal’s Jaroslav Spacek was beside him every step of the way. And instead of diving and letting his stick throw Comrie off, Spacek did nothing except skate alongside him, and Comrie rifled a nice shot past Carey Price. A great defenceman would’ve made that play. And once again, the Habs began to look flustered, and visions of Vancouver danced through my head.
And even when it was two-nothing for the Oilers it seemed possible the Canadiens could still make a game of it. But Andrei Kostitsyn then decided to pull a Mike Komisarek/Patrice Brisebois, a ‘Komibois’, and threw the puck through the middle, which of course was intercepted and voila, it became 3-0.
Lacklustre play by Spacek and a boneheaded play by Kostitsyn basically did them in.
And who decided to put teams in western Canada?
Blame it on John Ziegler. He was the NHL president when the Flames, Canucks and Oilers entered the league. He’s responsible. And maybe we should also blame the schedule makers. They were the ones who decided to send the Canadiens to western Canada. Blame it also on the weather, horoscopes, wives, pets, kids, mother-in-laws, beer, zamboni drivers, bloggers, western cuisine, the smell of the Pacific and the stench of oil.
Can’t be the team, can it?
You bet it can. Blame it on a slow defence and forwards who don’t score. Throw in Guillaume Latendresse, Tomas Plekanec and of course Kostitsyn for good measure. And don’t forget coach Jacques Martin and GM Bob Gainey. And the trainers who didn’t convince Andrei Markov to wrap tape around his skates to protect his ankles and feet.
You could say they played better in the second half of the game, even scoring two goals. But of course it wasn’t enough.
To recap the five games, the Habs were completely outshot in both Toronto and Buffalo and squeaked in wins. They played well in Calgary and lost, and Martin’s decision to go with Jaroslav Halak there is questionable. Forget about the Vancouver game, and Edmonton wasn’t a whole lot better, although it was much closer.
Pretty dismal stuff.
And not winning in Western Canada in six years? It’s ridiculous and inexcusable. Maybe if it wasn’t such a love-in for the boys when they travel west they might perform better. They’re treated like gods in these western cities. Habs jerseys wherever you look. “Go Habs Go” drowns out the home team chants.
Maybe they’re believing they’re rock stars. How would they play if there were no Habs jerseys, no “Go Habs Go”, no big cheers. Just another enemy coming to town. Maybe they’d play better.
Can’t be any worse.
Thursday, Habs home opener against Colorado. Go east young men.