I said I wasn't going to watch last night because it was on too late. But then, as usual, I convinced myself I'd watch the first ten minutes, just to get a feel for the way the Habs came out against a top-flight opponent. That turned into the whole of the first two periods. I did have to give in to common sense and go to bed by the beginning of the third, but I'd seen what I needed to see by then.
It was a gutsy, fun game by our guys. I think I'm right in my first impression that Max Pacioretty isn't ready for the NHL, but I have hope he'll either adapt quickly or go back to Hamilton where he belongs. I think Greg Stewart isn't long for the NHL. He reminds me of Garth Murray (remember him?!)...lots of heart, willing to drop 'em, but little to no actual skill. The D is what it is...a spare tire job until Andrei Markov and Ryan O'Byrne come back with the snows and chains. Pleky's reborn and was a force to be reckoned with most of the game. Even Andrei Kostitsyn looked interested. I was proud of the way the team played.
But, I wish people would lay off Kyle Chipchura. Seriously.
I wrote earlier this fall that he's one of the players, O'Byrne being another, who's likely on his last chance with the Canadiens. If they don't make it this year, they'll either be career minor-leaguers or playing for another team next year. Put up or shut up. Or, as my grandfather used to say, be good or be gone. I still believe Chips is on his last chance. But, come on, he's not going to prove much in one game. Not when he's not played since last April because of shoulder surgery. Not when he's missed all of training camp and has had zero chance to get his timing back. And certainly not when he's stuck playing with Georges "Five Minutes" Laraque and a Greg Stewart whose game was memorable only in its awfulness.
I actually liked what I saw from Chipchura, all things considered. I think his skating was better than it's been at the NHL level. I thought he played the body well and he acquitted himself admirably in his fight. I think he'll be fine, and I hope Jacques Martin is inclined to overlook the misleading -3 on Chipchura's record. Give the man twenty games with a couple of hardworking, decent linemates like Metropolit (can he play wing?) and perhaps Matt D'Agostini, and then pass judgement on him. One game is not going to prove much either way, and Habs fans who are calling for the former number-one pick to be demoted or traded aren't very far-seeing.
I'll be rooting for him tonight. In the fast-paced world of passing judgement, fans don't have much patience with imperfections, and I fear coaches aren't much more lenient. I want him to make it, and I saw enough from him last night to think he will if he's given half a chance.
So I'll be cheering, but I won't be watching. It's too late. Really, I mean it.