So, Tomas Plekanec is talking smack. He's disrespecting the Caps' goaltending and riling up the Caps. It's going to cost the Habs, because it'll motivate Theodore to shut them out four straight. He never should have said it.
What a crock! This is not trash talk. This is an honest, earnest guy answering a reporter's question in his second language. Somebody asked him if he was relieved to be facing the Caps' goalies rather than Miller or Brodeur. He said he was, because the other two guys are all-stars and the Caps' goalies gave up a lot of goals this year. Big deal. I have absolutely no doubt Plekanec meant no harm by his comments. He certainly didn't mean to be quoted in a way that painted him as an instigator.
The reason this is happening is because this series is boring for reporters. What can you say about a series between a completely dominating powerhouse like the Caps and a struggling, inconsistent eighth seed like the Habs? If Washington doesn't dominate Montreal in every way, it'll be a shock of immense proportions to most of the hockey world. We ever-hopeful Habs fans may have delusions of an upset, but every hockey expert everywhere else is choosing the Caps.
So, because there are still two days to go before any actual hockey starts for Montreal, and dozens of reporters are looking for a story on both sides of the series, Plekanec's doubtless innocent comment is out there as fuel for a non-existant fire between the two teams.
Of course there's no bitterness, though. How can there be? The two teams have never met in the playoffs. They don't really see each other much during the regular season and when they do, it's usually a mismatch. Either the Caps are wretched or they're dominating. The Habs just cruise along as their unassuming, middle-of-the-road selves. There's no history, no hate and no rivalry between these teams, so the media is attempting to manufacture those things.
Listening to Jose Theodore's lame response to Plekanec's comment today was just painful. "Tomas who? Jagr? Oh, Plekanec. I thought you meant Jagr," he said. That doesn't even make sense. It was a silly response to a silly, manufactured bit of "trash talk."
I hope this dies by tomorrow, but I'm not expecting it. The media will try to build on it and get the "fire" stoked. It won't make the tiniest bit of difference when it comes down to it, though. Theodore will not raise his game any higher because Plekanec said he's not Brodeur. If he wasn't already motivated to beat the team that cut him loose, he'll never be motivated. Ovechkin won't score more goals than he would have scored anyway. The only thing this little episode will do is inspire the Caps to rub it in a bit if they do dispatch the Habs, as everybody outside Montreal expects they will. It possibly will also draw some undeserved heat down on Plekanec's head if the Habs lose and he doesn't score a point a game.
If this is the level of pre-series analysis we have to look forward to for the next two days, Thursday can't come quickly enough. I'll bet Tomas Plekanec thinks so too.