OF BAWLERS, BRAWLERS AND BITERS

Robert Lafleur February 10, 2013 11
Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

Leafs Take A Bite Out Of The Habs 6 – 0

It was déjà vu all over again. No, not seeing the Habs lose to the Leafs … at home… again. No, not seeing NHL referee (and I use that term loosely) Tim Peel officiating another Canadiens game, but back to a time when the Habs really sucked, like last year. I’m sure I saw this Habs team last year, lethargic, uninspired and sloppy. The Leafs (7 – 5 – 0), with their third straight win, handed the Habs (6 – 4 – 1) their third straight loss, a  6-0 drubbing on Saturday night at the Bell Centre, manhandling the Habs from start, 59 seconds, to finish.

Josh Gorges summed it up after the game: “We were frustrated by the way we came out and started tonight’s game and then things like that happen [Colton Orr trying to take out Tomas Plekanec’s knee]. Your blood starts to boil, on both sides, emotions come out. Orr taking a run at, ‘Brian was it?’, the smallest guy on the ice, you know that doesn’t make anyone happy. What are you going to say about Grabovski biting Pacioretty. That doesn’t belong in our sport, that doesn’t belong in hockey. If you get in there, stand up for yourself, be a man. Drop your gloves. If you do that, you’ll be respected, but biting somebody, that doesn’t belong in our league.”

The Bawlers

Make no mistake, with Tim Peel reffing the game, you know there would be some dubious calls and Saturday night was no exception. I’m not sure what Peel saw when he called Brendan Gallagher for diving, but I saw the Leafs Mark Fraser sticking his stick between Gallagher’s legs and tripping him, plain and simple. As expected, Tim Peel eventually lost complete control of the game and turned it into a farce. But it was not Tim Peel who lost the game for the Habs.  

All you had to see was Toronto’s first goal, multiply that by six, and that was the game, a sad, sad game to watch. The goal started at the Leafs blue line when the Habs Andrei Markov tried to keep the puck in the Leafs zone but hit Leaf Nikolai Kulemin, who knocked it out. A race for the puck ensued, with Kulemin in the lead and then bumping Markov off, passing the puck over to Leo Komorov and, with nobody covering him, Komorov puts the puck past Carey Price. 1 -0 Toronto, less than a minute in. A variation on that theme happened five more times, the Habs outhustled and outmuscled every time. It didn’t help that the Habs couldn’t win a faceoff to save their life. It was a pitiful performance. Plekanec was 4 wins out of 19 draws, Deasharnais, 5 out of 16, and Eller, 9 out of 20. In the end, the Leafs won 48 faceoffs and lost only 23.

The Brawlers

Then came the third period. With the Habs down 4 – 0, Brandon Prust tried to get something going for the Habs and challenged the Leafs Mark Fraser, giving up more than a few inches. A noble effort by Prust but in the end the decision went to Fraser. A few minutes later the Leafs went up 5 – 0 on a goal by Korbinian Holzer, with an assist by Colton Orr, Orr’s first point of the season. This seemed to empower the Leafs and they began to take liberties with the Habs. Orr, now thinking he must be hockey player, decided to separate Tomas Plekanec’s knees from his body. With a deliberate intent to injure, Orr nearly accomplished his goal. Plekanec at the very last second barely avoided the impact. But who is the first person Orr (6’ 3”) goes after? None other than the 5’7” Brian Gionta throwing him to the ice. Rene Bourque came to Gionta’s defense but took an Orr sucker-punch to the chops and went down as well. Josh Gorges tried to salvage something for the Habs when he valiantly went up against Leafs behemoth, the 6’ 5” Frazer McLaren. It was clearly a mismatch with McLaren hitting Gorges at will, while holding him an arm’s length away, laughing at Gorges’ efforts to get to him. That smirk will someday be wiped off McLaren’s face. 

The Biters

As Brandon Prust tried to get at Leo Komorov for taking a run at Brian Gionta, Mikhail Grabovksi came into the proverbial scrum. Max Pacioretty grabbed at Grabovski but quickly let him go, howling in pain, and showing the referee his arm. Grabovski had clearly taken a bite of Pacioretty’s forearm, a totally classless act. I realize Grabovski’s heritage is Belarusian, not Transylvanian, but then again, two countries are only 10 hours apart.

Mikhail Grabovski has a date Monday with Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s Director of Player Discipline, to review the “allegations” of him biting the Habs Max Pacioretty. Grabovski had previously received a three-game suspension a few years ago for throwing a temper tantrum and shoving a linesman. This time it should be at least five games. Colton Orr’s intent to injure Tomas Plekanec should be looked at as well, it was just lucky Plakanec managed to avoid serious injury. It should be the intent that’s looked at, not the result.

The Habs travel to the Sunshine State for their next two games.TampaBayon Tuesday andFloridaon Thursday. Hopefully the warm weather will turn things around for the Canadiens.