It's February 19, and the Montreal Canadiens who didn't go to the Olympics are in Brossard after practice, after enjoying a break, all tanned and rested. Since so many players are still absent, Patrice Brisebois and a couple of goalies you may have heard of, Jocelyn Thibeault and Martin Houle, are brought in to shoot some puck with the boys. Practice is delayed as the team is gathered around the television to watch Team Canada play Latvia over in Sochi. They cheer Carey Price's saves.
Two days later, Montreal en Lumiere is underway. Partaking are Geoff Molson, George Parros and Francis Boullion, having a fancy dinner at the Casino de Montreal restaurant. Executive chef Jean-Pierre Curtat has a surprise in store for the celebrities, getting them to engage in a "culinary shootout". Parros and Bouillon race to put together a delicious dinner of what looks like cabbage and pitas, as Molson presents his lovely beef and asparagus dish. All proceeds from the evening go to the Montreal Canadiens' children's foundation. When announcing the three stars of the evening, Molson is the big loser at Number 3, Bouillon is 2 and Parros, first. Parros takes the mic to thank those attending, and I just like it when he talks.
February 24, and the Canadiens' gold medallists land in Montreal; equipment manager Pierre Gervais, P.K. Subban and Carey Price. Carey catches a moment with this goalie coach, Stephane Waite, and tells him in his low-key way that he had a fun time over there, and also that it was cold. Then Price cracks at assistant coach Clement Jodoin that he'll "be late for practice." The rest of the coaching staff and team greet and congratulate Price; of course they did to P.K. as well but that's not on camera. Carey tells Josh Gorges that he intends to stay up and get tired instead of going to sleep, so he can re-adapt to the time zone.
Price is later seated with his knee elevated and Bouillon comes in to congratulate him and tell him he was awesome. Carey's answer? "Everybody was good. That team was unreal. Practice was a nightmare though! Oh man, I was just getting lit up in practice." Price goes on, like a kid back from camp, to describe the experience to his teammates.
On February 26, Dustin Tokarski arrives in Montreal from Hamilton to be the backup goalie to Peter Budaj. We see the team meeting in the video room with head coach Michel Therrien presiding, and so weird without Carey Price in his usual seat at the back. No explanation is offered during the show, but we know that Price has a maybe groin, maybe knee injury and will be out for a while. Jarred Tinordi is also in town to be in the lineup for the first game after the break against Team Canada's Mike Babcock's Detroit Red Wings.
In the pre-game ceremony, the gold medallists from both Team Canada's men's and women's teams are honoured. Carey Price is there, not suited up for the game, but in street clothes, hands in his pockets, and representing British Columbia in his Pacific native art tie.
Hockey is back after 20 days in the Bell Centre. The players are "rusty" and breathing hard on the bench after their shifts. Detroit opens the game's scoring and the first period ends 1-0 for Detroit. At intermission, Therrien walks into the dressing room and yells that the "vacation's over" and that it's time to wake the f*ck up and compete. Let's go!
In the second, nothing much happens except for Budaj not letting any more pucks in. In the third, however, Brian Gionta manages a goal after Therrien pulls Budaj from the net, and the game heads to overtime. The Habs then lose it. After the game, general manager Marc Bergevin reviews some video with Therrien, and leaves the room in disgust over the errors by the Habs. Therrien is left behind with nothing to say, head firmly slumped onto his hand.
Later that night, the team arrives in Pittsburgh to get ready to face the Penguins in a back-to-back.
Game day. Peter Budaj is called upon once again in carey Price's absence. Brendan Gallagher opens the scoring for the good guys, but the Penguins tie it up less than four minutes later, and then scores again to get the lead.
In the second, Daniel Briere scores to tie the game, but then Lars Eller is called for hooking and the Penguins re-take the lead in the ensuing power play. Fortunately Max Pacioretty then scores on our own power play, and the score is tied once again. Jarred Tinordi has to leave the ice after getting cut by a skate, and goes to get stitched up by medical staff. They show it, it's not as gross as you'd think.
In the third, Pittsburgh scores a short-handed goal, and P.K. is later talked to on the bench by Daigneault about not being more aggressive to get the puck back on the play - but we all know that no matter what he had done in order to get it back, the play would probably have been a 5-on-3. You can't win. Alexei Emelin then does what he doesn't often do, which is score an important goal to tie the game. And then it's Pittsburgh's turn to score again. 5-4, bad guys.
Tanner Glass then takes an elbowing major, and the Habs go on a five-minute power play, which Daniel Briere capitalizes on and scores the tie-goal with his second of the game. Overtime decides nothing, and Budaj wins it for the boys in a shootout. After the game, a smiling Briere tells the cameras that it's fun to help the team like that once in a while.
Back in Montreal, we meet hockey operations supervisor Francois Martindale. He tells us about creating the ideal ice at the Bell Centre,, and we go behind the scenes on how that is achieved, complete with testing ice temperature in between periods, and having the league's only electric zambonis. I don't know how having an electric zamboni is better than a regular one, but I'm guessing it has to do with physics. Which I failed really badly at.
On March 1, the boys are getting ready for another matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Peter Budaj is getting his third consecutive start. Number 8 from the Leafs looks to get rough stuff started early with Dale Weise, and someone, I think a ref, says amid the resulting scrum that they "don't need to have a party here yet." Yeah, stupid number 8.
A nice spinorama by Alex Galchenyuk gives Montreal the lead in the middle of the first, and then a nearly identical move by Max Pacioretty puts them up 2-0. Before the end of the period, however, the Leafs get a lucky goal to put them within one. At intermission, Therrien remarks how the Leafs took 13-14 minutes to even register a shot on goal.
In the second, Josh Gorges blocks a "missile" and we see him getting his bloody hand tended to on the bench. There is no scoring in the second.
Budaj is terrific to start the third, making some important saves. Dale Weise goes flying into the boards, and while he's down, takes a skate to the face by a Leaf. He's badly cut and is helped off the ice by medical staff. In his absence, the Leafs make some fans in the building happy by tying the game and then taking the lead. Fan favourite P.K. Subban then ties the game and the crowd goes wild. Weise makes his way back to the game with eight zillion stitches across his face, and a full cage. The game heads to overtime. Andrei Markov passes a beauty to Pacioretty who wins the game in a great finish for the hometown crowd.
Later in the presser, Therrien is pleased that the team has achieved five out of a possible six points since returning from the break, and this without Carey Price. And that's all that we'll ever have to be happy about, probably ever again, just saying.