Monday, May 26, 2014
There's an old hockey mantra that says goaltending and special teams win playoff games - not goaltending OR special teams; goaltending AND special teams. The Canadiens only got one of the two against the Rangers last night, and that was the difference between coming home for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final tied 2-2 or trailing 3-1. Dustin Tokarski did his part and never should have been exposed to being beaten by Martin St. Louis in overtime. The Canadiens were a measly 1 for 8 on the power play, including a squandered opportunity early in OT. The Rangers, meanwhile, scored the all important first goal shorthanded and put on a penalty killing clinic, save for PK Subban's one-timer from the point on Montreal's seventh power play of the night. That it was Subban's first point against the Rangers and the Canadiens only power play goal in 17 chances in the series is at least as relevant to the Habs' predicament as the injury to Carey Price.
Marc Bergevin's nomination for NHL General Manager of the Year is well-deserved and a testament to Bergevin's attention to detail. His two highest-profile moves - Daniel Briere and Thomas Vanek - are something of a wash. Briere has been a difference maker in the playoffs after a forgettable regular season, while Vanek helped power the Habs down the stretch before disappearing in the post-season. The best of Bergevin's work lies in the acquisitions of Dale Weise, Mike Weaver and Dustin Tokarski, who were spare parts on their former teams but have become key contributors in the Canadiens' drive to the Eastern Conference Final. As role players, they're not going to win you a Stanley Cup, but you can't win one without players like them, and Bergevin went out and found them, at minimal cost.
If nothing else, Vanek's vanishing act has effectively rendered moot any serious debate over whether the Canadiens should try to keep the pending unrestricted free agent. I'm loathe to pile on to Vanek because we don't know for certain whether he's playing healthy or hurt, but either way, Bergevin has been relieved of the burden of having to even consider overbidding for Vanek on the open market.
If your cheese shoppe is out of Rancourt , as in Rene, ask for Amirante, as in John, as in the national anthem singer at Madison Square Garden. He's not quite as cheesy as Rancourt, but O Canada with a Brooklyn accent is one of da most ridiculous tings I've ever hoid.