On November 19 and after low-offensive output for a week, the team is together practicing to get back to where they should be. Players are all lining up on the goalies in a shootout. Meanwhile, owner and President Geoff Molson is a speaker at the Think Quebec event, waxing nostalgic about growing up a Montreal Canadiens fan, and not just the son of the team's owner. He talks about realizing what a true Habs fan was after going to games at the old forum (after duly completing his homework - Moms thank you, Geoff), and getting standing-room-only tickets ... for eight bucks. Is Molson 78? Anyway, he experienced and comprehended the true Habs fan passion, and is mindful of it as the President of the club; listening to the fans and building relationships with them.
Back at the Bell, the boys are getting ready for their game against the Wild. Max Pacioretty, fierce friend and defender of David Desharnais, is going to be lined up with David and they're both pretty happy. Remember that it was just two games previous that Desharnais saved his team with a shootout win against the Blue Jackets, and broke a personal slump that had haunted him all season. At the team meeting, Gerard Gallant throws a bunch of stats at the boys - the Wild's stats are not as good, but they have a better record than the Habs. No reason for that, and they're reminded to have the Team First mentality above all else.
The game kicks off against the Wild, and we have to see Pacioretty get slammed into the boards, in a kind of reverse view of that sickening blow he took two and a half years ago when Zdeno Chara had no idea Patch was even on the ice. Who else's stomach dropped when they saw such a similar hit again? This time, he gets up slowly and rights his helmet.
Brandon Prust and Zenon Konopka (winner of all the names) square off to duel right at a face-off. Konopka's bloodied face shows us all who won that draw. Going back into the dressing room at first intermission, nary a scratch shows on Prust's rosy face. In the room, he gets props from his teammates. Coach Michel Therrien drives home to the boys, "Puck at the net, puck at the net!" Someone was definitely listening.
In the second period, David Desharnais finds his friend Patch to feed him a nice shot for the first goal of the game. Then he finds him again through the eyes in the back of his head, and Patch puts in another. Therrien congratulates Davey on the bench, in English. I make a note of these things because I think Therrien is doing a good thing here, pumping Desharnais's tires and making sure his teammates understand. Patch, then, completes his natural hat-trick deflecting a shot by P.K. Subban. Back at the bench, you don't see him say it but you hear Subban's distinctive voice: "Patch is going for four." And, because the coach told them to put the puck at the net, in steps Michael Bournival to make the score 4-0.
At intermission, Gorges gives his usual pep talk, then Gallant steps into the room to also give a "Let's go boys, finish strong!" to which, it's off camera but I think it's Peter Budaj who jokes, "It's not hard to do Josh's job, is it?"
In the third period, Daniel Briere scores to make it 5-0 but soon thereafter the Wild score to ruin the shutout bid for Carey Price. Regrouping at the bench, Therrien tells the team to, "make sure we play hard for Pricer, come on we give nothing, all right?" During play, Prust receives a shot in the ribs at the hands of Zach Pareez, and then, adult that he is, Prust goes up to him and asks, "Did you just two-hand me in the ribs?" and Parise responds, "I might've." Look, going with the truth would definitely be my tactic here, too. Prust then simply tells him to watch it.
At the commercial break, Prust and Alex Galchenyuk are talking about their teamwork. All Galchenyuk can repeat is, "I suck, man," to which Prust just laughs that he doesn't; and moreover reminds him that Galchenyuk is the best player when he plays with Prust. However, all my notes say here is: Ref adjusts his package.
The game ends a scoring drought for Pacioretty in a 6-2 score. Subban does a little chair dancing in the dressing room, and Desharnais takes a second to beam at the camera about his "bon feeling". This guy seems so likeable, and his teammates love him, that's clear.
On November 20, we see the 32nd annual Montreal Canadiens blood drive at the Bell Centre, a tradition going back to the days of Jean Beliveau. The players don't donate, but that's because you can't have strenuous physical activity for half a day after donating. They're there to visit with the blood-givers though, and we see P.K., Rene Bourque, Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec there taking photos and signing autographs. There's one particular fellow who says he's donating for the 70th time, and he gets PK. to hold his hand. He has a buffalo toque and he's photographed players wearing it, like Beliveau, Henri Richard, P.K. himself and Lars Eller; the latter getting a five-point night the day after he holding it. Carey Price also wore it and then recorded the first shutout of his career.
The following day, buddies Prust and Budaj are chilling out by playing a little soccer, and Prust's penalty shot takes a weird bounce and collides with Budaj's head, then later at hockey practice Prust is seen wrestling on the ice with Carey Price. "No worries for GSP."
At the pre-grame meeting in Washington, Therrien tells his troops to stay sharp and focussed. "If you take a penalty, you gotta make sure you take a damned good one."
Game time against the Capitals. Budaj is in nets and Travis Moen scores the first goal. Desharnais scores the next goal and Patch embraces him and whoops. Briere scores his second goal this episode, and Ovechkin then brings the Caps within two.
The second is uneventful, and in the third Alexei Emelin takes a nasty hit and grimaces in pain; thankfully he ends up being fine. JJ tells Emelin, "You look fresh!" apparently trying to will him into it. A feisty Desharnais then is seen arguing with a ref for taking him out of a face-off as Therrien looks on, nonplussed. Goddamn-him-Ovechkin scores another goal for the Caps but our bigger concern here is when Michael Bournival blocks a shot and has to get helped off the ice. After a quick examination by the medical team, he goes back to the bench to watch the rest of the game. The Habs eke out the win, and Bournival's scans give him the all-clear; just a bruise. Holy hell that must be one heck of a bruise.
November 22, and back at the Bell Centre, we meet the Canadiens' "official voice", PA announcer Michel Lacroix. He talks about getting the arena pumped and excited, and making the crowd the "sixth player". From announcing the players as they take the ice to celebrating each Habs' goal, Lacroix stays charged and makes sure the crowd is, too.
In the November 23 game against the Penguins, the first period is scoreless with Price in nets. Therrien is playing his former team so the extra importance of this game is not lost on his team, I would hope.
In the second, Patch opens the scoring, then gets injured in a very delicate place, if you know what I mean. The medical staff offers to ice it, even though "it sounds bizarre." I am certain Patch is just delighted that this whole exchange is being captured for posterity.
In the third, Plekanec scores and Patch seems to have recovered from his injury and scores another. 3-0 Habs.The Penguins are losing their cool and get chippy, and close the gap to one goal. Price however stands tall and the Habs win the game. What was supposed to be a bad week ends up being not too shabby for the Habbies.
Post game, Patch gets asked by the press where he "took that shot." He replies, "Uh... in a bad area." We can all laugh about it now.
Also, I'm missing more P.K. Subban in these episodes, hello, 24CH powers.
- Catching the Torch: Dec. 2 to Dec. 8
- Olivier's perspective on the Habs ups and downs: Week 10
- Andrew's perspective on the Habs ups and downs: Week 10
- Monday Habs Links: What kind of suspension should Shawn Thornton face? James Neal?
- Habs vs Sabres: Scoring chances
- Game Recap: Fourth line saves Habs from embarrassment against Buffalo
- EOTP Selects Team Canada - December Edition