This is why they don’t schedule Stick Night.
It was a great win for your Montreal Canadiens, and maybe dwelling on the officiating is a mug’s game.
But man, that was brutal – and one can only hope that Paul Devorski and Eric Furlatt bumbled their way out of consideration for working the Conference finals.
Shall we enumerate the screw-ups?
• Ruslan Fedotenko tackles P.K. Subban at the Pittsburgh blueline to set up Maxime Talbot’s breakaway goal. No call.
• Sidney Crosby, the most hated man in Montreal, trips Roman Hamrlik during a Pittsburgh power play that was to produce Chris Kunitz’s goal. No call.
• In a replay of the Kyle McClaren hit that KOed Richard Zednik in 2002, Mark Eaton tried to take off Andrei Kostitsyn’s head. No call.
• At the end of the second period, Crosby’s styrofoam stick breaks on a harmless Hal Gill tap. The best hockey player in the world looks beseechingly at the officials, Gill is called and the Canadiens, trailing 2-1, begin the third period on the PK.
Even Don Cherry called the refs out.
Talk about the seventh man, the Canadiens had to cope with Pittsburgh’s seventh and eighth men – an ungainly clone of a Penguin in zebra stripes.
Bring back Kerry Fraser!
Even Chris Lee isn’t this bad.
I mean, seriously … lace up Stevie Wonder and give him a whistle.
(Shout-out to Habber 86 for the Gary Bettman and Crosby Photo Shop)
OK, I’m feeling better now.
But for 40 minutes, 21,273 fans were ready to strangle Devorski and Furlatt with white souvenir towels, many of which showered the ice 11 minutes into the third period after three no-calls in the Pittsburgh zone.
SeriousFan09 posted the night’s best Comment:
To this day, I always think that the Rocket punching a referee should have been the statue we erected at Centennial Plaza, would’ve perfectly captured the city’s feelings about the NHL’s bush league officiating.
Bottom line: the playoffs deserve better.
Credit the character and maturity of the Canadiens.
After being dinged with unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during the Washington series, the players kept their cool … and, as usual, Jaro Halak kept the Canadiens in the game while they were being outshot 26-9 through two periods.
Finding themselves trailing by only a goal after being utterly dominated for 40 minutes, the Canadiens, Jacques Martin said, “needed our best third period of the year – and we got it.”
Fresh legs might have had something to do with it. Unlike his deployments in previous games, Martin did not shorten his bench unduly. He got quality minutes from all four lines, particularly when the Canadiens did a yeoman job of protecting their lead against the desperate Penguins through the game’s final minutes.
Martin singled out “les joueurs de soutien”, the supporting cast who played solid minutes and contributed goals by Tom Pyatt and Max Lapierre.
Martin also heaped praise on his defensive corps.
“Our blueline has stepped it up,” the coach said, despite missing two Top Four Dmen – Andrei Markov and Jaro Spacek.
Martin singled out Hal Gill and Josh Gorges, mentioning they’ve been matched against top scorers in two playoff series. Their performance, he said, “speaks volumes about their character, determination and commitment to their teammates and the organization.”
And the organization gets at least one more playoff game, Monday night at the Bell Centre.
Did Geoff Molson expect the playoffs to turn into a financial bonanza?
Did Montreal fans expect the bleu-blanc-rouge to be playing hockey this month?
This is sweet.
The darling buds of May are blooming primarily because of Jaro, who was lights-out again in making 33 saves.
But everyone is contributing.
Almost certain to leave Sergei Kostitsyn in Montreal, the Canadiens travel to Pittsburgh as the feel-good story of the playoffs.
They’ve taklen the best shots the two most dangerous teams in the East can throw.
They’ve survived injuries and piss-poor officiating.
To the surprise – and, conspiracy theorists would suggest, disappointment – of the whole dang NHL, the Canadiens are in a best-of-three series.
Amazing … and really fun.
• • •
Save of the Night: Jaro on Crosby at 10:30 of the third period.
Unsung Heroes: Max Lapierre and Pierre Gauthier’s best acquisition, Dominic Moore
Excellent Game: Andrei Kostitsyn, who took a vicious hit and, later, laid a thumper on Kris Letang