There’s not a franchise in sports I hate more than the Philadelphia Flyers.
Not the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Not the New York Yankees.
Not the Dallas Cowboys or L.A. Lakers.
No, you’d have to have an Olympic Games flashback to 1936 and watch the pride of Hitler’s Germany marching into the Berlin stadium to match the feeling of revulsion I experience every time I see the Flyers play.
Especially against the Canadiens.
It will be different at the Bell Centre.
There is no way these cheap-shot thugs are taking two Ws in as many nights.
I’m going to keep my powder dry for a pre-Olympic break edition of About Last Night …
For now, let’s give some props to an injury-decimated team that came back from a 3-0 lead to give the Flyers all they could handle.
A few Commenters got on my case for knocking Roman Hamrlik for that late-game penalty. He had just seen his defence partner hammered into the boards by Darroll Powe, and Hamrlik took a retaliatory poke at the Philadelphia assailant.
I understand the emotion.
But Hamrlik is a veteran.
He knows the score is 3-2.
He knows the Canadiens have killed off three third-period penalties and have assaulted the Philadelphia net in waves.
Hamrlik knows there’s a minute left and he knows Powe is being penalized.
With Carey Price coming out, the Canadiens would have a 6-on-4 PP and a faceoff in the Philadelphia end.
YOU DON’T RETALIATE IN THAT SITUATION!!!
As it was, the Canadiens still had the advantage because of a rule that poster B found:
19.4 Last Five Minutes and Overtime – During the last
five (5) minutes of regulation time, or at any time in overtime, when a
minor penalty (or double-minor penalty) is assessed to one player or
goalkeeper of Team A, and a major (or match) penalty is assessed to one
player or goalkeeper of Team B at the same stoppage of play, the
three-minute (or one-minute) differential shall be served immediately
as a major penalty. This is also applicable when coincidental penalties
are negated, leaving the aforementioned examples. In such instances,
the team of the player or goalkeeper receiving the major penalty must
place the replacement player in the penalty bench prior to expiration
of the penalty. In the case of a match penalty, the team must place the
replacement player in the penalty bench immediately. The differential will be recorded on the penalty clock as a three (3) minute or a one (1) minute penalty (as applicable), and served in the same manner as a major penalty.
But I doubt Hammer was up on that rule when he went after Powe.
Scott Gomez played it smart. He waited till the final buzzer to go after Kimmo Timonen.
The ensuing scrum sets up a hot time at the Bell Centre tonight.
Fearless prediction: P.K. Subban will be playing his second NHL game in frnt of hometown fans who’ll be chanting his initials.
Was that a great debut or what?
Subban is the first Candiens Dman not named Andrei Markov who is capable of skating the puck out, moving it through the neutral zone and attacking the O-zone at speed.
P.K. is smart with the puck. He’s got a great shot.
He and Hal Gill were the only defencemen who weren’t on for any of Philadelphia’s goals. And Subban picked up his first NHL point on Glen Metropolit’s goal.
All season long, scouts who’ve seen him in Hamilton have said Subban is the Canadiens’ brightest prospect.
Pierre Gauthier and Jacques Martin will have two weeks to figure out how to work the kid into the lineup.
Someone else for Gauthier to think about: Carey Price.
No, the loss was not his fault. As the Canadiens climbed back into the game, Price made key stops to keep them there.
But you still see the lapses in Price’s concentration, the costly failure to control loose pucks.
I think Jaro Halak will get the start for the absolutely must-win rematch.
And then there will be two weeks during which Halak will play for Slovakia in Vancouver, Price will stew over a star-crossed season and Gauthier will weigh whether to make a move involving either goaltender before the March 3 deadline.
For now, the focus is on the Saturday game.
The Canadiens can win one for Jaro Spacek.
And as was the case when the great team of the 1970s dethroned the Broad Street Bullies, the Canadiens can win one for good hockey.
• • •
A huge thank-you to my hosts for Live Blog on the Road:
My good friend Josie Gold, her husband, the hilariously un-PC Dr. Cleve Ziegler, and the hockey-loving boys: Zach, Mike, Benji and Matt.
We were happily stuffing our faces while the Canadiens scored two goals. And some of the observations during the Opening Ceremonies could not be repeated in a family hockey blog.
But it was a thousand laughs, and I’m most grateful.