1. Eat, Sleep and Breathe the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge...
2. Devote himself to the cause of producing totally unnecessary blogs about his beloved Canadiens (but hey, at least I'm beginning to make use of that lengthy and expensive education!)...
3. 'Borrow' ideas from other writers (what do you think English Lit. is all about?)... thanks to Four Habs Fans for the contextual bullet-point inspiration (check out their Game Previews), by the way...
4. Attempt to be clever by molding said 'borrowed' ideas into a format that echoes his own background of literary study while putting a previously unseen spin on recaps of games that have already been covered by umpteen different media outlets...
So with that being said, welcome one and all to the first of many 'Literal Analyses' of the night that was in Hab-land... you'll notice I've structured my past two entries in a similarly literary fashion, providing a 'Foreword' and 'Afterword' for last night's game.
With a little tinkering and maybe some luck, I hope my current vision of a Coles Notes style synopsis of games will translate effectively... anyways, here goes:
. . . . . . . . . .
SETTING: Montreal's Bell Centre, to its usual capacity crowd of 21,273 fans.
PLOT: Two teams looking to put it all together clashed in a fast, skilled and physical affair last night, with the Canadiens emerging victorious after playing what was easily their most complete game of the 2008-09 season. Montreal battled for every puck, from end to end, and got the better of an Ottawa club that also competed very hard from start to finish.
HEROES: Chris Higgins scored his first career NHL hat-trick, skating hard and making the most of his opportunities with 3 highlight-reel goals (2 of which were on breakaways). Carey Price was perfect, stopping 28 shots for his first shutout of the season, and had to be especially sharp against Ottawa's Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley in particular, who were both buzzing around the Canadiens' net all night long. Finally, the Montreal Media got the in-game 3-Star Selection exactly right by naming Josh Gorges the night's 3rd Star; Gorges was an absolute rock on the blueline last night, making great one-on-one plays, winning battles, completing smart and effective passes out of his own end, and aggressively defending his blue-line. Gorges simply epitomized the Canadiens' effort last night, and was rightfully recognized for it.
ANTAGONISTS: Jarkko Ruutu finished the game with 9 PIM, a 10-minute misconduct and a failed attempt at decapitating Maxime Lapierre... the hit is currently under review by league officials. Following his ejection from the game with 8 minutes remaining in the 3rd, Ruutu waved goodbye to Montreal fans, confirming earlier suspicions that he is in fact completely devoid of class. Aside from this, Ottawa's persistent crashing of the net and Montreal's aggressive forecheck were equally disconcerting for the opposing team.
CLIMAX: Though a high-intensity affair from start to finish, Montreal's penalty kill following Robert Lang's delay-of-game penalty in the latter half of the second period should be singled out as the tipping point in this contest. Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev, on a rare shift together, were brilliant with the puck and controlled the play in Ottawa's zone to the thunderous approval of the Bell Centre faithful. Immediately following the conclusion of Lang's penalty, Higgins potted a pretty feed from Sergei Kostitsyn to make the score 2-0 and take control of the game's momentum for good.
DÉNOUEMENT: Guillaume Latendresse threw a dart into the top corner off a draw at the 15:39 mark of the 2nd period, and Montreal never let up with a commanding lead, finishing with a 4-0 win after Higgins' third marker late in the final frame.
THEMES: Following their dismal performances in Columbus and Toronto, Montreal's players absorbed the coaching staff's message and took it upon themselves to right the ship. Hard work and discipline ruled the day as the Canadiens managed to out-skate and out-will the Ottawa Senators. The Habs wanted this one, and it showed, as they put together their best 60-minutes of the season.