Last night's game was kind of like watching a bunch of Grade Sixes on Remembrance Day. They know it's a solemn occasion, but they have absolutely no concept of war or what those guys in the uniforms are really all about. Their air is respectful, with no real idea of why that's so.
Four guys in last night's lineup...Price, Plekanec, Kostitsyn and Hamrlik...were captained by Saku Koivu in Montreal. The rest of the players knew Koivu's return was special to the fans, but had no personal involvement in the emotion surrounding it. Yet, they didn't want to shrug and say, "Who cares?" So they ended up coming out to their home fans' cheers for an opponent and looked like they weren't quite sure how to proceed from there.
Neither did Koivu, whose three minors were the product of some screwed up emotion, combined with bad officiating. I don't usually crap on the refs because they do have a hard job, and things tend to even out in the end most of the time. Last night's calls, though, were particularly brutal, on both sides. The worst was the holding call in the first on Max Pacioretty, when all he did was lift his arm over the Ducks player to get around him. The goal Anaheim scored on that PP made the difference. The third call on Koivu, the one that allowed the Habs to pull Price and tie the game up on the PP with 17 seconds to go, was also pretty weak.
Pacioretty, despite the penalty, was a real force last night. He's discovered he's a big man and if he goes to the net, he will score a lot of those dirty goals like the two he popped against the Ducks. Since his call up from Hamilton, he's blossomed into the first-round talent he was supposed to be. It'd be interesting to see him on a line with Desharnais, who could find him with uncanny accuracy in Hamilton. Scott Gomez is too inconsistent and unpredictable for a kid to read. Also, Desharnais makes fewer incomprehensible decisions than Gomez does.
It may be time for the Goat to bring in another defenceman. Roman Hamrlik is doing a good job holding the fort with all the injuries, but he and Jaro Spacek really show their age in those back-to-back games. Hammer looked tired and he was reaching with his stick more than skating. As a result, he played some pretty soft D. As the season moves toward crunch time, defensive help for those guys could make the difference between playoffs or not.
It's too bad last night's emotional jag had to end with the lousy shootout. Sometimes there are games that should really end in a tie, and that was one of them. Saku Koivu's team got the two points, though, and a strange night ended with some money changing hands in the Ducks' room and a smiling former captain. Looking back, it's a good thing Remembrance Day only comes once a year.