It’s November 11, and the Montreal Canadiens start the week off all-smiles after their victory over the Islanders the night before. Brian Gionta is sitting in the therapy room while Tomas Plekanec receives a little massage therapy on his hand. Gio has a huge gap in his mouth on account of getting a couple of teeth knocked out in the last episode, and Pleks casually asks him if he’s going to the dentist. "Yeah, you better go. You better go today." All pretty deadpan, and now we find out Pleks fancies himself a comedian. Gio is his willing audience, cracking up, and you know these two have chemistry, a lot of which seems to be going around in this team. Pleks then gives his massage therapist, Claude Theriault, a hard time, telling him to hurry up, complaining that "it doesn’t help anyway; come on, man." Two things: A, top marks to Pleks for not saying anywayS, and two, in the past couple of episodes, I’m getting that this is another guy who, like P.K. Subban, does not mind one bit having the documentary cameras around.
Television host Chantal Lacroix brings a family to the Bell Centre for a tour on practice day, and to meet Marc Bergevin and the team. She explains that this family has recently gone through a difficult time, losing their father under particularly tragic circumstances. The mother of the family helps get them through it with hockey, and according to Lacroix, it’s amazing the important place it has in their everyday lives. She takes them to meet Bergevin, who "has a surprise" and proceeds to present them each with personalized jerseys, joking around by pretending to get one of their names wrong. The family all seems delighted - by Lacroix’s account, they "eat" hockey, and their visit to the dressing room and press box and meeting Marc Bergevin is unreal for them. She doesn’t just say "Marc Bergevin," she also whips to the camera to whisper "un beau bonhomme" which basically means, "handsome devil," to which I say, her vision is obviously 20/20. And to which I also say, back off and get in line.
The family further gets the unforgettable experience of meeting in person Michel Therrien, Daniel Briere, P.K. "Comment ca va!" Subban, Josh Gorges, Francis Bouillon and Alex Galchenyuk, the last of whom brings them each player hockey sticks. What a memorable day for this family.
The next day, we find out that Briere is finally ready to go after his concussion and will be on the ice for the game against the Tampa Bay lightning; whom just the night previously had lost their superstar Steven Stamkos to a bone-breaking injury. Briere tells new line mate Michael Bournival not to change his game at all, keep being super awesome, playing with confidence and trying new things.
We meet Stephane Boudreau and Keith Wilisky, two of the statisticians at the Bell Centre who keep everyone on the straight and narrow. These guys keep track of every move on the ice from up in their room; penalties, give aways, face-offs, and are also the generals of the roster sheets we all see online on game day. Teams have a strict deadline for call-ups and if they don't meet it and these fellows see someone on the ice who shouldn't be during warmups, they let the teams know immediately that that player should get off pronto. Boudreau, who appears to speak and think at a zillion per minute, seems perfect for this job where you can't even blink or you will miss a detail.
The game against the Tampa Bay Lightning gets underway, and Ryan Malone has the lone first-period goal. At first intermission, P.K. reviews some video, and runs his game plan past Gerard Gallant who approves it.
Tampa appears to score again in the second, and for ONCE the hockey gods smile upon the Canadiens and rules it a no-goal due to incidental contact on the goaltender. Carey Price goes lights-out for the rest of the period, making 13 saves. At the second intermission, the dressing room is pretty silent, then Josh Gorges starts motivating the troops as they file out to his, "here we go, here we go!"
Guess who scores in the third period? Briere, yelling, "Yeah!" The goal gets reviewed and for TWICE the hockey gods have smiled upon us all. I think the Habs have now maxed that quota through to 2020. While the goal is getting reviewed P.K. races to the back to get his skates sharpened. Price goes on to be awesome for the rest of the period, and regular time ends in a 1-1 tie, with once again OT deciding nothing. The only shooter we get to see is Filppula, who in super slo-mo scores on Carey, who hangs his head in super slo-mo. Gee thanks, 24CH, that was painful enough in real time, the first time. I forgive you.
The next day, P.K. and Brandon Prust get ready to leave for a photo shoot after practice. P.K. is wearing kind of a pea coat and neon turquoise runners … and Brandon starts to give him a hard time, that he's the "worst-dressed on the team."
P.K., to the cameras: "I look way better than this guy!"
Prust; "Worst shoes, and worst jacket ever."
P.K. "Worst face ever!!"
Prust: "Now, that is a bold-faced lie!"
So, they go to do a photo shoot for "Diary of a Social Gal" - a connection they made during Fashion Week in New York. P.K. lets everyone know that he's about to do hair and makeup, and it should take "two to three seconds, maybe." Then after fishing for a compliment when in makeup, that he doesn't want the camera to zoom in on his "wrinkles, at 24 years old," he then says for himself, "handsome though, aren't I." Love? Love. At the shoot both guys look AMAZING in their suits and ties, even causing P.K. to exclaim, "Oh, Brandon, you look delicious!"
Game day November 15, and Alexei Emelin's return is a question of mere days. He makes the trip to Columbus with the team. At practice, head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend takes a look at Prust on the ice and determines he's finally okay to play after his shoulder injury the month prior. Desharnais skates around the ice as he's in the lineup again tonight, and Therrien and Pleks are goofing around, practicing the face-off. Pleks keeps winning and eventually Therrien cuffs him over the helmet in good-natured frustration, later saying to the camera, "I can't win a face-off, my best years are behind me, 50 years, losing my skills." I'm going solely by my notes now and totally can't remember if he even said this in French or English, proving that thanks to this show, I am now perfectly bilingual. Of course I am not but I do think this was spoken in French, and I have added my Therrien-ese to the translation.
Assistant coach Gerard Gallant greets some of his old Blue Jackets colleagues, having spent a total of six years with that club as both an assistant coach and head coach. In the dressing room, Therrien motivates his team by telling that, "We wanna be the best team, we wanna coach the best team in the conference, that's our goal. And we will be the best team in our conference, let's start right now, all right?" Got it, boys?
The game starts badly, with the BJs scoring two goals, but Alex Galchenyuk gives us something to hope for when he scores with eight seconds left in the period. Carey Price, sitting this game out on the bench, remarks, "Their goalie just gave that to him."
At intermission, Galchenyuk asks for a skate sharpening, complete with sound effect for how he wants them to sound. Back in the second period, a puck comes flying at the bench, startling some guy I can't identify (but it's definitely the same guy who fixed Galchenyuk's skates) and getting a laugh from Carey. Lars Eller scores on the power play to tie the game, then later is seen on the bench showing a play to Briere, and Carey jokes to Max Pacioretty, "Coach Larry over there." Carey is bored.
Brandon Prust, newly returned from his shoulder injury, winds up in a fight and gets a tap on his helmet from Ryan White. At the second intermission, we see Prust marching off the ice none worse for the wear.
The third period starts with footage of a really gross guy without his shirt on in the stands, ostensibly to display his support of Movember with his belly art, but only succeeds in me looking around my house for bleach for my eyeballs. No one scores in the third period, and yet again nothing is decided in OT. The boys are headed for another shootout, and Price gives backup goalie Peter Budaj pointers, warning him to look out for the low shots, and on the other hand the Columbus shooter has a good back hand, too. So basically, just look out for anything.
The narrator tells us that the coach is instilling some confidence in putting Desharnais in there to shoot (foreshadowing) then we hear in the background as DD makes his approach, "This could change it for him, turn his year around." FORESHADOWING. Desharnais scores, and Budaj stops every shooter, giving their team their first shootout win of the season, and I know I wasn't the only one who got a teeny bit emotional in happiness for these two. Their teammates all gathered on the ice in a major group hug, and that was one of my favourite moments of the season thus far.
After the game, in the dressing room, Patch grabs DD from behind and White delivers a "pie" to DD's face - who is still laughing when he washes it off, because who cares ... he scored!
November 16, and we spend some time with Alexei Emelin, who blew his knee out last April attempting to deliver one of his "Emelin Boom" hits to Bruins' Milan Lucic. The recovery from this type of injury is usually around six months. I already loved Emelin, because the guy makes the Canadiens a much better team, but after this episode, I like him even more. While recovering, Graham Rynbend tells us the guy never left Montreal, and he became the therapy team's "project for the summer".
The ever-smiling Emelin, with the aid of interpreter Alex Galchenyuk, tells the cameras that Galchenyuk and other fellow countryman Andrei Markov helped him every day, showing him exercises and lifting his spirits. He goes on to tell us, I know, from the subtitles, a bunch of other stuff that Galchenyuk then ad-libs a lot about, but he also tells us about Emelin's great energy and that he just never quit working. The two laugh about something, and Galchenyuk tells us that Emelin wants to float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee! Ryan White is most looking forward to Emelin returning to "crush somebody", instead of doing it in practice on his fellow teammates.
White, George Parros and Douglas Murray are playing "21", flipping pucks into a bucket. You guys - it's November 16 and George Parros already has a full moustache, like he never shaved. While we're on the topic of Movember, everybody on the team, coaching staff and even Marc Bergevin are growing their moustaches. Therrien, however, is not. Is that weird to anyone else?
Game night against the New York Rangers, and Emelin is finally cleared to plaaaay! Nothing happens in the first period however, but the best news here is that at first intermission, Emmy is feeling good!
In the second, Price is brilliant with all his stops and Prust comes close to scoring against his former team. The most horrible news here is that Ryan Callahan scores on Price. The Habs cannot get a goddamned goal. At second intermission, we see a Russian saint behind Emelin in the dressing room. I google Russian Saints. Holy crap - there are a lot. I can't identify which one it is, but obviously, the Russians are a wonderful people.
Nothing happens in the third period, and the Rangers go on to win the game 1-0. Price made 33 saves. And we lost. Emelin still kisses his saint.
I like Therrien in the post-game presser, saying a lot of good things despite his team not being able to score a single goal. "We couldn’t capitalize on our chances but no one will make me believe that this team didn’t work hard. We worked, and if we continue to work, good things will happen." I think this is a good coach, you guys.
More from Eyes On The Prize:
- Ears on the Prize Episode 12: Podcast
- RDS loses the Habs' national broadcasting rights to TVA
- Catching the Torch: Nov. 18-24 Edition
- TSN loses NHL broadcast rights to CBC and Rogers Sportsnet
- Erik Nystrom leaves the Hamilton Bulldogs for the KHL
- Max Pacioretty named the NHL's second star of the week
- Montreal Canadiens ups and downs: Week 8
- What is Michel Therrien doing with his forward lines?
- Bulldogs powerplay crunches Syracuse
- 24CH Recap: Season 2 Episode 7