24CH Recap: Season 2, Episode 18

Justin K. Aller

All the good things about this episode had nothing to do with hockey.

January 19. George Parros is cutting his lustrous hair off to donate and give back for a good cause: Wigs for Children's Cancer. He first heard of it when one of his cousins had childhood leukaemia - and since he's turned pro he lets his hair grown really long and cuts it off for the cause every year. He uses his profile as a pro hockey player to generate interest in the cause, and it's simply a wonderful thing in every way.

January 20. The Montreal Canadiens are assembled for a little yoga and stretching with P.K. Subban providing a little entertainment with a shuffle step for the cameras. The instructor tells them they're all a little tight between the shoulders and guides them all in a big stretch, not without P.K. being the lippy student and the rest of the guys telling him exasperatedly to "shut up!"

J.J. and Janine Daigneault go out on the town to take in a Peter Doig art exhibit. Doig is Scottish-born, and lived in Montreal as a child when he became a Canadiens fan, following them ever since no matter where he lived. At one point during the evening, he is presented with a gift, and he opens it up to reveal a Canadiens jersey with his name on it and the number 59 and is later photographed with the Daigneaults.

January 22 and the team is in Pittsburgh to face Michel Therrien's former team. Gerard Gallant kids with the guys that Tomas Plekanec is going to invite Sidney Crosby out for sushi in Sochi ... which is funny because clearly the last time these two teams met, there was no love between those guys. Everyone gets the joke. Therrien later implores them all to play big. "The big guys need to be big, the small guys need to be big, everybody gotta be big."

The puck drops with Carey Price in nets for the Habs. Jussi Jokinen opens the scoring for the Penguins midway through the period. As play continues, the Canadiens' bench complains to the refs over missed penalties, but the refs don't miss a call on the Habs, and the Penguins capitalize on their power play and score another. For once, the Habs get a goal from Rene Bourque and for once, after review it's called a good goal. 2-1 after one.

In the second, Brendan Gallagher hits a post, but Jokinen scores again for the Penguins, and in quick succession so does Sidney Crosby, then Evgeni Malkin. 5-1 for the bad guys, and Price is relieved to leave his net as Peter Budaj takes over. There is silence in the dressing room at second intermission.

In the third, frustrations start to rise as the Canadiens are unable to find the back of the net. A brawl forms, which even includes Budaj and Marc-Andre Fleury leaving their creases and dropping their helmets to go at it. Budaj pulls his sleeves up and gets his dukes ready and wants to go so badly but the refs intervene, very luckily for Fleury, who laters finds out that Budaj is trained in martial arts. Price looks on passively from the bench. Mercifully, the Penguins fail to get another in the period and the final score remains 5-1.

The next day finds the Canadiens in Detroit for their next game against the Red Wings, Gerard Gallant's former team. At practice, Stephane Waite observes the retired jerseys hanging from the rafters in Joe Louis Arena and chirps Gallant by telling Gionta, "Ask him, where is his jersey." Carey Price will be back in nets against the Red Wings.

That evening general manager Marc Bergevin and Max Pacioretty take in a University of Michigan game, Max's alma mater. Max watches with Gally as Bergevin scouts Mac Bennett with Scott Mellanby from the press row.

January 24 is game night with the Red Wings. Therrien implores the team to focus and change their attitude in the face of adversity after their disappointing last game. Zetterberg opens the scoring on a power play goal. 1-0 after the first. In the dressing room, Josh Gorges dispenses the brilliant advice of having to "get it figured out before the face-off." Therrien tells the boys not to change a thing about their compete level.

In the second though, after some hard playing the Wings score again, but Gallagher answers with a power play goal to make it 2-1. Carey Price makes an eye-popping save, but despite his efforts the Wings score yet again. At intermission Therrien says Wings' netminder Gustavvsson is seeing way too many shots. Clearly - as in the third the Wings score once more and the game ends in a 4-1 score.

Back at the Bell Centre we get to see it transformed from hockey arena to concert stage, getting ready for a Jay-Z performance. I think Jay-Z dropped the hyphen, but I don't care. It's not like it's even a real name. Then we get to see the Bell transformed back to get ready for hockey.

Saturday, January 25, the boys are in the video room getting ready to face the Washington Capitals. Gallant tells them to play every shift and do a good job (brilliant). Therrien expands by telling them not to expect an easy game and to care and focus.

In a ceremony before the game, newly-retired Montreal Alouette Anthony Calvillo is honoured at the Bell Centre, and then the game gets underway. (Right now I really seriously want to not talk at all about this game.) All that really happens in this period is that Brandon Prust and Tom Wilson fight, and Alex Ovechkin scores after the buzzer that ends the first period. 0-0.

In the second, Ovechkin for-real scores, ending his seven-game goal-less drought. In a flurry, the Caps score again, Prust smashes his stick on the boards as he leaves the game with a misconduct, and Peter Budaj replaces Carey in nets for the second time this episode. But when the game sucks, the game sucks and the Habs are incapable of finding the back of the net. The silence in the dressing room at intermission is deafening.

Washington scores again in the third, there are a few scuffles, then thank god, the game ends. The team has a closed-door meeting then meets the press. The Canadiens have been scored upon 14 times in the last three games, and only scored two goals. The sky is falling and the world is ending. Right?

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