FIVE MINUTES IN MARC-ANDRE FLEURY’S THOUGHT PROCESS
Oh you fucker, you thought that was going to go in? Fuck you for thinking that. There is no way that bullshit shot was going to get past me from the blue line, you asshole. Were you trying to grow a little momentum for your team? Well, that backfired. Instead I’m riled up and even if I started shaky–no, that’s not true–“shaky”, I can never think that–my anger will sustain me, grow me–not you, you dickhead–not your team–me, grown–into an impenetrable wall that you can’t pierce because I will fill the net like tightly knit ivy. Try to cut through that, you can’t. I’m as solid as wood, as rock. Raise your stick up and bring it down as hard as you can on that little piece of rubber there. Let’s see what you have left. Let’s see what that failed shot has left you. Whatever it is, it isn’t enough. I see you coming. I see you and I’m ready for you. I have come out of my net a bit. You have less room to move. Just try and get past my stick pushing in front of me like radar. You cannot break this line. Here I am standing proudly on my skates, stiff and set as firm as concrete. You cannot penetrate me. The net is behind me. You cannot penetrate the net. You skaters are all the same. Your desires are moronic, blind. It’s like you don’t see me standing there. You can’t get by, do you understand? Nothing is allowed between the posts, except for my squirming body, on the ice, catching the puck in my glove, under my thigh, making sure that it doesn’t go through me, that your sticks can’t reach it and pull it out, flip it over my head, and shoot it into the back of the net. Now I’m angry because you shot it at me from the blue line through no traffic and I have sealed up and will never let you score again.
It looks like Montreal is going to have a 2-on-1. Leopold just made a great move to break up the 2-on-1.
THERE IS NO RIVALRY
There is no rivalry between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. I have never seen it. The two teams live eight hours away from each other. They have never played each other in the playoffs as long as I’ve been alive. In Montreal they had the Russian Alexei Kovalev (that entriguing superstar/project) and the Finnish Saku Koivu who came back from cancer and played well and was their captain. Because of the great Patrick Roy, Montreal is always hot about their goalies no matter who they are. When Cristobal Huet (of Switzerland) was their goalie I loved him. I had him in my hockey pool and he had six shut-outs in thirty games and made me feel like a genius. I liked examining the Habs’s box scores the next morning as I clicked through pictures of Canadiens celebrating in their sharp red uniforms. After that I liked any goalie I saw wearing that uniform.
The Leafs are the team I cheered for but in many ways they bored me. I knew them too well, thanks to the radio, thanks to newspapers, websites, television. They changed too slowly, and when their young players showed small signs of progress I fell in love with them too quickly, the whole city did, and they disappointed us. My heart beat quicker whenever Kyle Wellwood’s name was mentioned during a radio broadcast and in NHL 2006 or 7 I traded Mats Sundin away first (even though I loved him) and let the young players grow into the superstars they’d never become in reality. Kyle Wellwood almost read himself out of the NHL, and now he’s playing for a cursed team that will never win, and he is part of the curse.
I AM NOT JUST WRITING THIS BECAUSE THE MONTREAL CANADIENS BEAT THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS IN SEVEN GAMES
I’m not. I will continue to love them. There is something I like about supporting a red team (Montreal) and a blue team (Toronto). I am that way about baseball. The Phillies (red) have always been my favourite team other than the Blue Jays (blue, of course) and I think that’s because when I was young they were Toronto’s rivals and so I focussed extra on them to learn their weaknesses, their basic facts. Now I’ve forgotten about the rivalries (Montreal-Toronto, Philadelphia-Toronto), or the rivalries have disintegrated, and instead I love those teams like siblings. They’ve done me no wrong. And even if they have I understand why they did it. I know their histories. It’s a relief to check up on them every once in a while because I don’t know how their minds work, but they are familiar. We are brothers and sisters.
I AM NOT JUST WRITING THIS BECAUSE THE MONTREAL CANADIANS ARE GOING TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS AND MAY, EVENTUALLY, WIN THE STANLEY CUP