But you know what?
Caution is for pussies.
In the ALN section of HIO, we don’t do caution. We leap to conclusions with hops that an NBA All-Star would envy.
Seriously, it’s WAY too early for dramatic pronouncements.
Well, except for one: They have to get fighting out hockey.
No, this is not a cynical attempt to exploit the horrific George Parros injury for cheap politically-correct points. Parros was the victim of a freak accident. It’s just too bad his kids were at the game to see their father wheeled off the ice on a stretcher.
If there were no fighting in the NHL, Parros wouldn’t have been in the opening-night lineup. Neither would his dancing partner, the Leafs’ Colton Orr. That’s two more spots for skill players on the respective rosters.
Fighting in pro sports is pointless and stupid. It’s an automatic ejection in tough, physical sports such as football, soccer and basketball.
You say it keeps players honest and protects the smaller skill guys?
So Parros wins a close decision in his first fight with Orr. Travis Moen pounds out a solid decision over Mark Fraser, and Jarred Tinordi punches out Carter Ashton.
Did it change the momentum of the game?
Did it give David Desharnais more room to roam on the ice?
Then there’s the entertainment argument.
“Does anyone go to the bathroom during a fight?” the Don Cherry constituency asks.
How about we introduce a new crowd-pleasing element: The First Star of every game is fondled by a stripper at centre ice.
No one would go to the bathroom.
Alright, enough ranting from the Ol’ Blogger, who is infrequently sought out for advice by Brendan Shanahan.
The Canadiens won a couple fights and lost the game. The home team was second best in most of the puck battles against a Leafs lineup that includes not one player less than 6 feet tall.
The Canadiens have eight players under that bar. And the aforementioned DD, Brian Gionta and Daniel Brière had very quiet nights against Toronto.
In the postgame show on TSN 690, the lads were asking why 6’2″ Lars Eller – two goals and an assist, six SoG, two hits and 50 per cent on draws – played 16:20 while DD – zero points, one SoG, no hits and 6-4 in the faceoff circle – played 18:24.
The even-strength minutes were fairly even for the two centres, but Desharnais added 3:19 on the power play to 1:29 for Eller.
Alex Galchenyuk had two assists and was plus-2 in 13:23 – less ice time than Gionta, Rene Bourque (who actually played well), Brière and Max Pacioretty.
On a team with three second lines, the EGG (Eller-Galchenyuk-Gallagher) aggregation was the home team’s best – by a lot.
Perhaps DD, the captain and Brière will fare better against teams less physical than the Leafs.
Unfortunately for the Canadiens, the Atlantic Division includes – in addition to Toronto – the Bruins, Senators, Sabres and two Florida teams that aren’t exactly shrinking violets.
Positive note: the Canadiens fourth line – with and without Parros – played well. Moen was particularly energetic.
Maybe DD and the boys can fatten up against Detroit.
The radio guys also were wondering why a Norris Trophy defenceman played 44 seconds on the Canadiens penalty-kill while Raphael Diaz played 6:20.
I didn’t like Diaz during the pre-season, and my dissatisfaction carried over into the opener.
Yes, the guy is good on the PP. His patience and slick passing created a goal. But Diaz has no physical game, and Michel Therrien is pairing him with Andrei Markov, who sorely needs the kind of hard-hitting partner that Alexei Emelin was before he wrecked his knee last season.
Markov is still a force on the PP and occasionally zips off a nifty outlet pass. But the veteran Dman was caught flat-footed at the Toronto blueline on a Canadiens’ power play, and Tyler Bozak wheeled away to score the goal that turned the game in Toronto’s favour.
If Carey Price stops Bozak on the second-period breakaway, it’s 2-2 and who knows? But Price didn’t have much chance on the other goals, and I thought he made some big stops.
James Reimer faced 37 shots, but there wasn’t much in the way of sustained Canadiens pressure. And the Leafs, winning puck battles all over the ice, had more clear-cut scoring chances.
Heading into the season, I thought the Canadiens had issues on the back end.
P.K. is incomparable, of course, and was excellent against his hometown team. Josh Gorges was steady and ended the night at plus-1. Jarred Tinordi played a shade under 15 minutes, blocked two shots and did not look out of place.
But Markov, Diaz and a game-but-slow-and-undersized Francis Bouillon …
Emelin is sorely missed. I’m not counting on much from Davis Drewiske or Douglas Murray (who seems to get hurt climbing out of bed in the morning).
There’s help in the system – Nathan Beaulieu is up for the time being, Darren Dietz and Magnus Nygren looked promising in pre-season – but it doesn’t do to rush defence prospects unless they’re high first-round blue chippers.
Philadelphia is at the Bell Centre on Saturday.
There could be fighting.
• • •
Guest Comment from savethepuck:
Yeah I’m a glass half full guy, but maybe I saw the game differently than some, and it makes me sleep better at night and doesn’t make me get so worked up over a regular season loss. It’s an 82 game season and there will be games when breaks go the other way. I’m not even going to bother arguing with those who are blaming Price, I’m starting to realize it’s a waste of time, like beating your head against a wall. It was a crazy hockey game, seemed like both teams were playing run and gun and giving up a lot of glorious scoring opportunities at both ends. Habs went down 1-0 on a 5 on 3 PP but the Habs fought back and tied it up ( on an incredible patient hockey play by some Diaz guy that most here hate ). The kid line then tied it up and things were looking good. Leafs tied it on a great shot by Phaneuf and then went ahead on a short handed goal by Bozak. That goal rolled off Markov’s stick at the blueline, and Carey may of cheated a bit thinking Bozak was going to deke to the forehand before he went high blocker, but I’m not going start blaming anyone because it’s pointless. The backbreaker was the 4th goal, which was one of the luckiest bounces you will see pop back on the stick of Mason Raymond. This was one out of 82 games that either team could of won, if the Habs are well below 500 after 20 games, I’ll start to worry a little.