So the white-and-blue faithful have had their beliefs restored, at least until the next string of embarassing losses. The Leafs did seem different last night–I actually saw Kaberle shove someone out of the crease.
The Habs seemed out of it from the opening faceoff, and someone needs to pay attention to the fact that they do not play well in front of Auld…and he rewards that by being very shaky. He did get warmed up and looked good in the third, but his first 20 minutes seemed pure nervous mispositioning.
I am sad, also, to see a cleaned up, bland version of PK Subban out there, a tentative rookie who suddenly seems to have lost the risky confidence that gave his ice-time such a spark. Someone needs to check the Bell Center underground storage areas for an alien pod containing the real PK: the one we got back is just a badly programmed automaton. I blame the coaching staff on this one. One evening in the press box would have been enough. The boy needs room to be who he is, and he would have learned to tone it down himself, with the logic of hard-earned wisdom, once a Pronger or a Cooke had shown him the nasty payoff for cartoonish stunts that attract attention. We have seen the same process with Ovie: as long as Boudreau was letting the entertainer put on the intense, over-the-top Vegas show that accompanied his genuinely immense hockey skills, Ovie was scoring happily and warming his hands over a flaming stick. Once he began getting a lot of backlash and criticism from different sources and he began to tone it down, we lost the sideshow, but also the breathtaking creativity and the astounding scoring touch.
Habs are mulling this over until Wednesday. Spacek may be injured, Markov is out: I predict some moves in the new year to bring us experience on the blue line for the second half and the postseason. Yes, Leafs fans: I said postseason. It’s a Montreal thing, you wouldn’t understand.