By MARK MADDEN
Some questions were answered last night at Montreal’s Bell Centre. Marc-Andre Fleury answered yours. Evgeni Malkin answered mine.
Fleury, the subject of undue fan criticism despite winning eight of his last nine playoff series, made playing awesome look easy. He made a terrific save on the Mike Cammalleri one-timer, and on the Tomas Plekanec re-direct (Sergei Gonchar’s man both times; not hatin’, just sayin’).
Calm, agility, anticipation, the big save at the big moment…that’s why Fleury is THAT guy.
Malkin, meanwhile, was rotten until he scored, inspired after. But the result is what counts. I don’t care WHY Malkin gets started. I’m just happy he GOT started.
One-time, nice placement, no chance, nothing but net. After that, Malkin played great.
Fleury got a bit lucky. Maxim Lapierre hit the crossbar. Cammalleri missed a breakaway. But Fleury’s third-period stops on Cammalleri and Plekanec were big-league.
The most disturbing thing about the game was the mugging of Sidney Crosby as he was held pointless for a second straight contest. Hal Gill’s wingspan took a toll but, even more so, uncalled penalties took their tolll.
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James get to the line even when they’re not fouled. Crosby fought his way through a gauntlet last night, and got a bare minimum of calls. Gill’s penalty at the end of the second period (Malkin scored on that PP) was the third or fourth infraction Montreal committed THAT SHIFT. Do fans want to see the game reduced to sludge? Or would they prefer to watch exciting, end-to-end hockey like Chicago and Vancouver are playing?
The NHL is its own worst enemy. It won’t protect its meal tickets.
Mark Letestu was a big-time unsung hero last night. His play at center enabled Max Talbot to mostly play on Malkin’s wing. That decision, by the way, shows that Coach Disco puts a very high priority on jump-starting Malkin.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).