For two and a half periods tonight, the Montreal Canadiens would have had a hard time beating Byer’s Bulldozers Orillia Midgets circa 1965. (with a smallish but speedy Ralph Backstrom-type right winger).
And it the end, it bit them hard as the lowly St. Louis Blues, full of Canadians and Americans, waltzed into Montreal, full of nothing, and came away with a 4-3 shoot-out win.
I knew the sleeping with the wives, the paying of bills, the shoveling of the sidewalk, the washing of dishes, the visits from the in-laws, the catching up on phone calls, the diaper changing, the grocery shopping, the praise from strangers on the street, was gonna effect the play of the team. I had a feeling Montreal might suck tonight.
And in general, they did.
Their passes were off, their shots missed the net, they fell down often, they ran into each other, they looked confused, they were out of sync. And sadly, Halak was mediocre. It was just a bad night. And most of all, it was two important points slip, slidin’ away.
It’s no wonder the Soviet National teams of the ’60’s, ’70’s and ’80’s were so good. Everything was in sync because when they weren’t playing house, they were holed up in camps living together, eating together, playing soccer, working in gyms, and practising on the ice.
Of course they hated it and wanted to lynch coaches Bobrov and later, and especially, Tikhonov, but the results were there. No wives, no snow shoveling, no phone calls, no mother-in-laws. Just hockey.
But of course that won’t work nowadays. Not in the NHL, anyway. But I want to know why teams come out flat like the Habs did tonight. Why was everything out of whack? What causes this? Should the Habs hire Viktor Tikhonov?
You could say they took the Blues lightly because St. Louis has twenty points less than Montreal. But every game now, as I’ve said before, is a huge game for Montreal. So taking a team lightly doesn’t cut it. It has to be the wives.
Next up, Thursday in Boston. Out of the house, on a plane, into a hotel, eat group meals. Price is probably back in goal.
They’d better win this one. It’s important.
And one last thing. I have a photo of Bobby Rousseau in the early 1960’s scoring on a penalty shot by blasting a slapshot from just inside the blueline. Everyone now tries the fancy stuff. Why don’t they just move in and fire away. Goalies are human.