December 2, 2013, and the Montreal Canadiens are suiting up to play the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre. Daniel Briere is all smiles, P.K. Subban is strutting around, and Max Pacioretty gives a shirtless, running, jumping heel click in the dressing room, all in slow motion. My observations: I wonder what that tattoo on Max's back says, and I wish that my waist would look like Max's when he bends: zero fat.
During the warmup, Peter Budaj remarks to Ryan White at the bench to look at Jaromir Jagr:
Budaj: "Look how small is his skate. Jagr's blade on his skate, look how tiny it is."
White: "Oh god, why?"
Budaj: "I don't know, like, he purposely do that, look at that. I don't even know how can he skate."
White: "He's got 40 points. He's 40 years old." (White is incorrect on both points; it's 33 and 41, FYI, and whatever)
Budaj: "You know in his prime, he must have been unbelievable, huh?"
I can't make jokes about Jagr's age because despite it, I wish he was on our team.
The game starts with Carey Price in nets, and during play we see Brandon Prust trip at centre ice, and when he kicks up, Devil Tim Sestito falls down, and you expect to see a close up of of bloodied ice, assuming he's been cut by Prust's skate. And ... he comes up absolutely clean. Weird. And lucky.
The Devils score first, and Budaj consoles Price later at the bench, reassuring him there was no way he could have seen it. At intermission, coach Michel Therrien reads out the first period stats to the team, that Alex Galchenyuk had two shots, and the rest of the forwards zero. What? "There's no passion, there's no emotion, we're not supporting ourselves, but the good news is we only are down by one goal."
In the second, David Desharnais feeds a nice pass to Rene Bourque, who evens up the score. Desharnais feeds a nice pass to Pacioretty, who makes it 2-1. Desharnais for Prime Minister. In the third, P.K. gets into Carey's net and makes a very key save; and then the ex-Hab who always scores against the Habs, Michael Ryder, ties the game. Carey makes some heart-stopping saves, then the previously mentioned Galchenyuk scores the game-winner. 3-2 Habs. These two teams will meet again in two days.
December 4, and Budaj is showing off his new mask to Carey Price; it has an illustration of Simpsons' character Ned Flanders, with a scowl, bloodshot eyes and a bandage on his face. Someone asks if Ned always wears a blue sweater, and Budaj has no idea. He's never even watched the Simpsons, and Carey Price laughs. Lars Eller looks at the mask and says he doesn't know if Ned Flanders belongs on a hockey mask, but, "It's Boods's style, he's got his own style."
At practice, Carey Price is skating but it will be Budaj in nets tonight. Carey and goalie coach Stephane Waite discuss Devils' goalie Martin Brodeur, another relic you can't make fun of. Waite says that the inside of Brodeur's leg is all black, probably from going down on one leg. Price remarks that Brodeur is the best puck reader in the league. Price then asks Waite how old he (Waite) is, and he says, "48, not bad, feel like 40!" Then Price says, "You look like *bleep* 60."
Cut to the team being transported during rush hour to the Prudential Center with a police escort. GM Marc Bergevin joins them on the bus wearing a navy sport coat with grey elbow patches, a grey scarf and a grey wheelie bag. I think other people were there too.
The game gets underway and Cam Janssen delivers a hit to Galchenyuk, and Prust drops the gloves in his defence. Both land solid blows and afterwards Prust looks exhausted - even the ref exclaims to him, "You have to be dead!" Briere makes a pass to Brian Gionta, who opens the scoring against his former team.
In the second period, Pacioretty bumps a referee bum first right onto Travis Moen and Ryan White's laps on the Habs' bench. The ref and Moen both laugh, White does not. There's no goal in the second, but there's a lot of shoving around as tensions begin to boil. At intermission, Therrien talks the boys into getting back to their game.
That is, if "getting back to their game" means leaving Budaj alone on two shots (one by $&#* Ryder) to give the Devils the lead. Luckily Eller ties the game at 2 ... then P.K. gives the puck away in his zone with just over a minute left and the Devils score again. Sky. Falling. And cue the dramatic chase-scene music.
Therrien pulls Budaj, and guess who scores for the good guys with 37 seconds left? Desharnais! Guess who's even happier than Desharnais? P.K.!!
The game ends up going to the shootout, and guess who scores? Desharnais! OK, give Desharnais the keys to the country already. For serious. The Habs take all four points against the Devils in two days. The Habs are thrilled, and Carey even attempts an awkward dance in the dressing room.
The following day at the Bell Centre, I guess anthem singer Charles Prevost-Linden has the night off as a wee wisp of a girl named Coeur de Pirate is warming up her voice and fixing her hair to sing the anthems before the game. Lest a single detail go unnoticed, Jared Laberge, the assistant of game production tells her to count to two after the U.S. anthem and look for the Canadian flag before starting O Canada.
Tonight, the game at home is the season's first meeting with the rival Boston Bruins. You guys, it took me about six tries before I could think of the nicest way to describe them.
In the video room, Therrien tells the boys to remember it's a fun game to play - they're a tight group and make sure they're on the good side. In the dressing room, Prust tells Galchenyuk that the games keep getting bigger - this is the biggest game of the year. What we're treated to next is a slow motion, big soundtrack sequence of closeups of the big players; Patrice Bergeron, Prust, Zdeno Chara, Douglas Murray, Milan Lucic and, lastly, George Parros.
Miss Pirate is helped onto the ice for the anthems, and sweetly though unconventionally sings O Canada and it's hard to sing along.
The game begins and we are treated to Brendan Gallagher checking Chara - a full foot taller. It's awkward and AWESOME. Not awesome is Pacioretty's check to Johnny Boychuk - it's a minor boarding penalty but Boychuk crumples awkwardly and has to be stretchered off the ice. Habs' head team physician Vincent Lacroix explains to the camera how his team is required to safely transport a player from another team when he is injured, and how he is required to give only general answers on the player's medical condition when asked by teammates, in order to protect player confidentiality; the NHL is "a big brotherhood". Back on the ice, Patch tries to figure out what happened. Eller tells him to not feel bad, that it didn't look so bad.
At intermission, with the score 1-0 Bruins with a goal by Gregory Campbell, Therrien asks the boys what they need to improve. Answers are generally that they can't take it easy. Therrien reminds them that this is the Boston Bruins, "Let's *bleep* wake up."
In the second, Price continues to stand tall and Michael Bournival takes a shoulder to the head. He gets taken to the quiet room and is asked what day it is, what team he's playing and what the score is. He says 1-0, right when Tomas Plekanec scores. Make that 1-1.
Prust is getting manhandled and boarded all over the place, and finally drops the gloves against Shawn Thornton, a fight that ends in a draw. Pacioretty then scores again to make it 2-1 for the good guys.
At the second intermission, P.K. is meeting in the video room with an assistant coach, who whispers to P.K. to go out there and make a big difference like it's some kinda secret.
In the third, it's Eller's turn to get pushed around and not back down. "You think I'm afraid of you?" he shouts at big bad Chris Kelly. Price remains a wall for the rest of the game and the Habs win, to take first place in the East.
On December 6 in Montreal, Gallagher and Briere are shooting a commercial for McDonald's. They get camera-ready complete with lipstick for Gallagher (maybe this is a joke), and then film some scenes eating burgers and ordering food. The director, Louis-Philippe Eno, tells us they should seriously consider acting as a second career (this is definitely a joke).
The next day, it's game day against Buffalo at home. A bespectacled Marc Bergevin watches from one of the suites upstairs. During play, Gallagher and Alexei Emelin take and make hits on the ice, all to much reaction from Bergevin. No score in the first.
Therrien reminds his team not to be fancy or cute at intermission. Put pucks at the net. As he illustrates on the board around the net, "We're fancy, we're fancy, we're fancy," he spits out. "We are a grinding team. Accept it! Because if we don't, we don't have success. Accept it ... DO it!"
The Moen-Prust-White line scores in the second, and Bergevin quips from up above, "Olympics calling, Whitey, keep it up!" We then have successive goals by Tyler Ennis to tie it, then Plekanec to go back ahead. Andrei Markov and Galchenyuk then combine to make the score 3-1. Lots more conversation in the dressing room at second intermission, and Therrien comes in and tells them to attack and put the puck at the net.
In the third, the Sabres narrow the lead to one goal, but it won't be their night. The Habs win 3-1, their fifth straight win. A perfect week for the Habs.
Not to jinx it.
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