It's February 2 and Superbowl Sunday, so the Montreal Canadiens are playing their second matinee game of the weekend at the Bell Centre. A little boy named Olivier Sonne is helping arena announcer Michel Lacroix out today in the matchup against the Winnipeg Jets. The team piles onto the ice and we hear Olivier's adorable little voice announce the starting lineup.
Puck drop with Carey Price in nets, and he's tested early and often. There are many close calls for both sides, actually. The period ends with no score however. The second opens with Winnipeg finding the back of the net, then Brian Gionta going top shelf to tie it up. The period ends with a lot of frustrations rising and scuffles, with both Travis Moen and Dustin Byfuglien getting sent to their dressing rooms. After intermission as the team leaves to start the third, Moen rolls his pant over his knee with an, "Owwww ... shouldn't be allowed to be over 240 in this league."
In the third, Price makes an unfortunate mistake and gets scored upon but that's not even the worst thing that happens. Brendan Gallagher, desperate to get out of Winnipeg's zone so his team can set up, is prevented from doing so by Winnipeg goalie, who roughs him and punches him repeatedly, with help from #44, and what is happening here is so infuriating and obvious that the refs ... do nothing. The Montreal bench is incensed along with the entire Bell Centre crowd. The horn ends the game and a pile is created on Winnipeg's goalie, who continues to demonstrate his questionable charm. Peter Budaj is only not participating in the pileup because he's not in the lineup but screams at the ref who only repeats, "I saw it ... I saw it." Very helpful.
Gallagher storms into the dressing room and flings his helmet and screams. That's all we're treated to in the dressing room by 24CH. But I imagine what continued was pretty much the same thing going on in living rooms all across Habs nation. Checking out the box score for this game you will see that five penalties were handed out at the 20-minute mark of the third period, which was also tremendously helpful. This is when we need #9 on the ice to straighten a ref out. If you know what I mean. Just my own personal opinion.
February 3, and the Canadiens have made a trade. Defenseman Raphael Diaz is headed to Vancouver in exchange for forward Dale Weise. "The Swiss will be missed." Diaz leaves, bags packed, telling Canadiens' staff, "See you next Thursday," as the Canucks will be in town.
Dale Weise arrives in Montreal.The 22-year-old chats on the ride from the airport, sharing that he's never been traded and that his old room at his parents' house is filled with "Montreal Canadiens stuff, everywhere". He's familiar with both Brandon Prust and Ryan White, and that JJ Daigneault was his assistant coach in Hartford for three years. He doesn't know any French, but he'd better get familiar with some of the basics, fast.
February 4 sees Weise meeting his new teammates ahead of practice on game day against the Calgary Flames. At practice, after returning from a long absence, White slew-foots Michel Therrien and Therrien comes tumbling backward onto the ice. He recovers quickly. After practice, the Montreal media is there to meet Weise and he's never been so popular. He's totally fine with it because, I'll just say it, I think he likes talking even more than I do.
In the video room, the team is assembled and Therrien quips to Whitey, "No pressure, Whitey, eh, tonight? Better score your first goal." To which White laughs, "I got my first hit this morning."
The 24CH cameras introduce us to Jeanne D'Arc Larocque, season ticket holder for Canadiens games since they won their seventh Stanley Cup. Her nephew, Pierre Rajotte, describes to us how he's something of a celebrity at the Bell Centre. In 2006, there was a game held in her honour and her picture was printed on the tickets for a Carolina Hurricanes game. Jeanne tells us that when she was younger, her parents told her hockey games were no place for a girl and she'd tell them she was going to the movies when she was really going to the games.
The puck drops in the Flames game, and White is flying around the ice making hits. That's it - I blinked and the first period coverage was over. 0-0. Daigneault goes over game video with P.K. Subban at intermission. In the second, Weise's face meets a puck but he's okay. Rene Bourque scores against his former team, doubly sweet as he's ending a long drought as well. The look of relief on his face says a thousand words. And they're all, "Finally."
Peter Budaj, at intermission, talks about Joe Sakic, with whom he played in Colorado. Sakic scored his 600th goal and his celebration was just a few fist bumps. Gallagher says that after 600, you run out of celebrations. The third period coverage also spans about four seconds, with David Desharnais getting the empty-netter, and Price getting his shutout. Ryan White is named third star of the game, and goes running out to the ice to applause, enormous grin on his face. He celebrates in the dressing room and the mood is playful in general. White figures the nine people he had in the stands helped the vote.
Two days later, we meet Dominick Saillant, director of media relations for the Canadiens, who will be part of Team Canada at the Olympics in Sochi. Today, his job apparently is to track down Desharnais for the francophone media. And there is discussion of how Martin St. Louis, initially snubbed by Team Canada, has now been added to the team to replace the injured Steven Stamkos. Team Canada are heading off in three short days on their chartered flights to Sochi.
In the video room ahead of their game that evening against Dale Weise's former team, the Vancouver Canucks, P.K. gets teased by Max Pacioretty, asking, "Where's your chin?" since P.K. shaved off his goatee. P.K. explains that he has neither a chin nor a forehead. Down to business, Therrien talks to the boys about being ready for this big game amid all the Olympic distraction.
On the ice before the game, Weise chirps Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo that he's going to be "trying your glove all night long," and Luongo smiles.
Puck drop. Subban has a huge shot on Luongo that gets deflected into the net by Max Pacioretty. White scores another a minute later and Weise is right there on the ice with him, and Weise later remarks, "That's a sick back hand!" 2-0 to end the first. In the second period, the Canucks manage a goal on Price. Then, Pacioretty gets hooked when he's driving in on Luongo and is awarded a penalty shot, which he doesn't score on. Then, Pacioretty gets hooked when he's driving in on Luongo and is awarded a penalty shot, which he doesn't score on. Yes, again.
In the third, however, Pacioretty gets his second goal of the game in the regular fashion, followed by a goal by Tomas Plekanec to make the score 4-1. Vancouver gets another goal to get within two, and John Tortorella pulls Luongo from the net. Pacioretty completes his hat-trick and the game ends in a 5-2 score, and Weise couldn't be happier, particularly for White, his "Manitoba connection".
It's Friday, February 7, and the players and staff are getting ready to head to Carolina for their final game before the Olympic break. The cameras happen upon P.K. Subban unwrapping some sticks in the hallway. Wearing a suit apparently made out of money, complete with gold vest, orange tie, and a velvet hat. P.K. says, "It's Bad Suit trip!" Therrien takes one look at him and just says, "No!" Gallant can't contain his laughter, and equipment manager Pierre Gervais cracks up when he finds someone lying inside a hockey bag. A live person, okay. And George Parros explains that at a team dinner they decided the didn't do enough things together as a team and thought up the bad suit idea as a way to have a little fun. Everyone else's suit, by the way, looks pretty good compared to P.K.'s, except maybe with the exception of Prusty, who looked like he put a lot of thought into his, as well. Gio is wearing a black velvet jacket and Douglas Murray laments that he actually unironically owns a suit just like it.
The next night, the boys are on the ice to face the Hurricanes. This is the game where Pacioretty goes flying into Carolina's net and gets hurt, and has to get helped off the ice. Mr. Positive, Ryan White, speculates to Prust on the bench, "I hope it's not his pelvis, dude. I've heard of people breaking their pelvis going to the post like that before."
In the second period, Carolina gets on the scoreboard about six minutes in. But in the last two minutes, Desharnais scores to tie and White gets the go-ahead goal, his second goal in consecutive games.
In the third, Price is not allowing anything and Desharnais gets his second goal of the game. Gionta scores a pretty wraparound on an empty net while being flanked by Hurricanes. The game ends with a score of 4-1 for the good guys, and some guys get ready for some vacation time while the others get ready to head over to Sochi. Ryan White is smiling so hard after his successful games since coming back, that it's hard not to smile right back at him.
In the hallway as Alexei Emelin is departing to go join Team Russia, Pierre Gervais (of Team Canada) says to him, "You need anything, I'll be around ... just don't tell anybody."