Thursday, January 31, 2008

Gameday in Washington

The Canadiens strut into the Nation's capital tonight on the heels of George W Bush' s final State of the Union address. It will be a hard act to follow as Bush's theatrics garnered as much applause from the sheep in the audience as Alex Kovalev does when he scores one at the Bell Centre. The difference is that Kovalev seems to be playing arguably the best hockey of his career and Bush's approval rating is at a record low. Kovalev also has a way sweeter hairdo.

Tonight's game is the last between Ovechkin and co. and the Habs. There's some extra motivation for both teams after Viktor Kozlov called out the Canadiens for trying to "run up the score" late in Tuesday night's 4-0 game.

Running up the score is a contentious issue in sports and sometimes it's difficult to tell what exactly qualifies. The New England Patriots have been running up the score for the entire NFL season and the speculation has been that they've been doing it because the rest of the league basically called them a bunch of cheaters on the heels of the "spygate" scandal.

Bill Simmons of had a great piece on the Pats earlier this year, read it here.

Is it unreasonable to think that the Canadiens are feeling a similar burn and lack of respect from the rest of the league? After being picked by most experts to basically compete for a high pick in next year's draft, do they not have a legitimate reason to rub it in the faces of their opponents?

If the Capitals want to keep taking penalties late in a game in order to stop scoring chances, the Canadiens have every right to pour it on and try to get their power play back into the number one slot in the league.

Anyone that starts talking about running up the score needs to take a long hard look at themselves and what exactly they're saying about their team. It's embarrassing for a pro athlete to say anything of the sort. You're calling out your opponent for not taking it easy on you late in a game? Should the Habs have taken their foot of the gas and perhaps allowed the Caps to score a late goal and gather some momentum heading into tonight's game?

It's madness.

Cristobal Huet makes his tenth straight start, The Habs look to win their fourth in a row and further separate themselves from the pack in the still very tight Eastern Conference. If the Habs do pick up the win, it will be their tenth in a row on Thursday night this year. They have only lost on Thursday night once all season and it was all the way back in October.

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