December 15, 2013. The Montreal Canadiens' spouses are busily wrapping up gifts for Santa. Harvest Gionta (I'm guessing Brian's wife, and a child of flower children, also a guess) explains that the gifts are for underprivileged children or for children whose families are going through tough times. Normand Brault, cofounder of "Operation Pere Noel" describes the program; the children write their letters to Santa, and in this case, the Canadiens' wives are Santa's elves and take care of receiving the correspondence and making the kids' wishes come true. My observation is, holy wow, these ladies are all gorgeous and look fantastic, because I'd show up in a ponytail and sweats. Well ... maybe not if I knew the 24CH cameras would be there. All right. The point is, Santa's going to do what Santa does for these kids, and it's pretty awesome.
Same day, prior to the Florida Panthers game at the Bell Centre, coach Michel Therrien has the team gathered in the video room for a meeting. He tells them to play with authority and to let the Panthers know from the start that they're in for a long night. Know who had a long night that night? The fans.
Later, in the dressing room before the game, David Desharnais and Daniel Briere are whispering about how the goals are going to come, just be in the right place and shoot - presumably about Briere's play - and Josh Gorges tells the team to make the game easy on themselves.
Peter Budaj is in nets tonight, he makes a cool save that even Carey Price tells him later that he's trying to figure out how Budaj caught the puck off the post. During play, we hear Therrien reciting, "Icing, icing, icing," to the ref because he obviously needs help doing his job. The ref ignores his advice. The first period ends with no score.
Early in the second period, Jesse Winchester scores the first goal of the game for Florida, oh, and the second too. Montreal has no response. At second intermission, Gorges tries to motivate the troops. Faces around the room are not happy. Assistant coach Gerard Gallant comes in with more of the same. As they're putting their jerseys back on, I realize that all the guys wear different things under their jerseys. Alex Galchenyuk wears a black long sleeved shirt that looks like a souvenir from a Triumph concert. Oh, yeah - I went there. Google it, kids.
In the third, Galchenyuk scores for the good guys. Triumph = good luck. Maybe not, as he then gets tripped on the ice and appears to get winded but insists he is okay when Therrien asks. After calling a timeout and battling, the score remains the same with the sucky Panthers winning the game with a score of 2-1. Brendan Gallagher, in a final skirmish at the Panthers' net, appears to take a glove to the face and goes back to the dressing room with blood pouring out of his nostrils and gets attended to by medical staff.
The following day, we accompany the Habs on their yearly traditional visit to the Hopital de Montreal pour Enfants and Hopital Ste-Justine. The team pours out of the bus all decked out in their jerseys, and I can't help but be excited for the kids they're about to meet. The Habs meet the kids of all ages, sign autographs and beam for photographs. Today, it's clear who the heroes are - the kids. Daniel Briere tells the camera that it's good to remember that, when you think you're having a bad day, there are far more important things in life. The narrator tells us that the true value of this team is not a sum of dollars, but rather the ability to bring smiles to the kids' faces. For one of the little ones, the sight of Youppi showing up in his Santa hat is the most exciting.
December 17, and it's game day once again in Montreal against the Phoenix Coyotes. In the Bell Centre video room, the coaches are gathered to view film of the opposing team's members. One of the players is described as a "small little skater" who has a good "pif" around the net. I looked up the Coyotes' roster - their smallest little skater is Tim Kennedy, 5'10". Uh, hello, the guy's a giant. Anyway, Therrien decides to split hairs not on this point, but about "good pif". Much conversation ensues about what pif means, does it mean a nose for the net, do you say pif in that case, you don't, do you? They all decide to henceforth say "nose for the net". And ... scene.
Later on, the team is in the video room and gets some tips on how to play against the Coyotes, who play a disciplined game. I hate to keep sidetracking, but the guys are sitting in the same places as they did for the last meeting and maybe even sit in the same places for every meeting. Do they have assigned seats? Budaj still even has his hood on his head. Carey's way at the back. And all of the guys have their fingers at their lips. It's weird.
Therrien later delivers an impassioned plea for speed and discipline tonight. The boys suit up, with Price in nets tonight. They file out of the dressing room onto the ice, past some well-dressed children in the hallway whose last name is probably Molson.
The Phoenix/Montreal game gets underway. Max Pacioretty hits his first goal post of the evening. Douglas Murray is playing tonight, and makes his presence felt around Carey's net. The Coyotes strike first (unrelated, truly). The period ends 1-0 for the bad guys.
At intermission, Gorges gets into the centre of the dressing room and lays into the team.
"Every one of us! Win some f*cking battles out there!! One-on-one f*cking battles! We're too f*cking soft!!"
Brandon Prust then takes on the dulcet tones of the Good Cop, hands folded on his lap, towel around his neck, almost clergy-like. I mean, minus clergy-like language, but still softly:
"Boys, take a page out of their book, just throw f*cking everything at the net, eh, D? Just f*cking throw everything. Just get by that first guy. Let's f*cking go to the net, throw everything there." The sight of Brendan Gallager sitting next to him with his head hanging down like someone just stole his puppy breaks my heart.
Gorges continues, having lowered his tone to match Prust's, "Off the rush. Same thing. Don't have a play? Put it at his f*cking feet. We got guys that are good at both." The camera closes in on P.K. "We don't have to make the cute play. Make the right play. We'll out-f*cking-wit these guys the rest of the f*cking game here."
Gerard Gallant walks into the room. "We're a better team than that, after the last game? You'd think we'd learned our f*cking lesson. Like come on, we're all in it to-f*cking-gether, but that's a f*cking joke." Etc. F-word count at intermission? Only 14. That made the cut, anyway.
Second period, the guys start throwing their weight around, Desharnais takes a shot and Gallagher crashes the net, it's all looking good, then Bon Cop himself gets four minutes in the box, two minutes for roughing and two for unsportsmanlike conduct. It's during these four minutes that Pacioretty hits the post for the second time in the game. The boys kill off Prust's penalties and the period has no goals by either side. As the team leaves the ice, Murray confers with one of the refs to innocently ask if it's okay that the Coyotes would have, "Like, eight guys on the ice at like, between T.V. time-outs and stuff? They're only allowed to have five, right?" Asking a question he obviously knows the answer to. Guided discovery! I like it, Murray.
Back in the dressing room, the mood is much less sombre than before. Therrien comes in to give a pumping up speech and gets the team ready for the third.
Two minutes into the third, Andrei Markov opens the scoring for the Habs with a stinging slap shot. Pacioretty-Ping hits his THIRD post for the hat trick. And after that, he's next to the net, and makes a sly no-look sideways pass to Desharnais, that winds up going in off a Coyote skate. 2-1! Then it's the Coyotes' turn to hit a post, which elicits an, "Oh. My. God," from Murray on the bench. The Coyotes pull their goalie for the extra man, but Pacioretty scores on the empty net, does the "sheathing the sword" move, and we win! We win!
December 18. In Brossard, assistant equipment manager Pierre Ouellette is showing off Tomas Plekanec's early Christmas present to Travis Moen. It's the official team photograph, only it's been photoshopped so that each and every member of the team and coaching staff and even Marc Bergevin is wearing Pleky's signature turtleneck. Sigh. Marc Bergevin.
At practice, Galchenyuk tells the cameras what a tough day Prust is having, detailing Prust's sad difficulties, as the camera pans down the boards to see Prust there, smiling and listening to every word. Galchenyuk skates down next to Prust, who asks him, "Is the Galchenyuk show? Is this your own show? This is your own T.V. show here, eh?" Galchenyuk: "Yeah." Prust shoves him aside and they're both laughing, the bromance, I can't.
Back in the dressing room, Ouellette has the team picture for Plekanec on a stand in the middle of the room, complete with a pretty red bow and a little sign that says, "Merry Christmas!" Pacioretty takes a close look at it and laughs, "Oh, my god, that's funny!" Plekanec then comes into the room, and asks, "What's that?" He goes up to it, shrugs, not getting it, then it dawns on him and he smiles, "Yeah! Nice!" Travis Moen is getting undressed next to him and says, "We all wanna be like you, Pleky," to which he responds, "What took you so long?"
On December 19, the team takes flight to St. Louis to play the Blues. At practice, goalie coach Stephane Waite is talking to Peter Budaj about St. Louis goalie Corey Crawford and how he'll play with brand new pads right out of the box. Budaj: "That's nuts." Waite goes on to say, "Gloves too, everything!" Much conversation about pads follows.
Game time. Lars Eller, ex-Blue, marches into the arena all smart in his shirt and blazer. The game begins, and St. Louis puts three goals past Carey Price in the first period alone. At intermission, there is no footage other than the camera in the locker that captures no closeups but there are three *bleeps*.
In the second, the Habs pepper shots at Jaroslav Halak to no avail. Thankfully Carey Price is also stopping everything. Brendan Gallagher finally solves Halak by standing at the net and demonstrating some magnificent hand-eye coordination as he bats the puck in out of the air. 3-1 going into the break.
At second intermission, Therrien comes in to tell the guys to get the next one and it will be a "different ball game". Let's go.
At the start of the second, Alexei Emelin receives a stick to the face and has to be escorted off the ice. Jaroslav Halak continues to make every save. At centre ice, Douglas Murray delivers a huge hit to Blues' Alexander Steen, who runs into and upends Prust, and a little battle ensues. The Blues go on to score again on a rush, and Price slams his stick to the ice in frustration. Then they do it again. Guess who. Maxim Lapierre. Ugh, double ugh, just ugh.
In the waning seconds of the period, P.K., Eller and Roman Polak run into each other by the bench. P.K. gets toppled, and although it's incidental, he takes a run at Polak and even drops the gloves. He is pissed. He also goes after Brenden Morrow, who drops his gloves too, but the ref holds him off and Polak just kind of stands there looking around, not sure if he has to go or not.
P.K. storms back into the dressing room, and you get the sense that this is one of the rare times he'd prefer the cameras not be there. The rest of the team, led by Carey Price, follows. The team has to forget this game quickly in order to rebound for the rest of their road trip.
This was the last 24CH episode and my last recap of the year - I'm really enjoying writing them and hope you like reading, too. I write them keeping mostly in mind the people who don't have access to the episodes, but hope you get something from the recaps even if you've watched! Thank you for reading, and I wish you the absolute best for the new year! Catch you then!