January 5. The Montreal Canadiens' week begins with the traditional annual public practice at the Bell Centre. A handful of local celebrities are on hand to participate. George Parros and Douglas Murray are there to judge the celebrity shootout. The Habs take the ice and the Bell Centre goes wild. They then have their own shootout, and it's great fun, all-star styles.
The next day, the coaches are in the video room, prepping for the game against the Florida Panthers. Tomas Plekanec, chosen for Team Czech Republic and named the captain, gets congratulated by Brian Gionta. With the team later in the video room, Therrien makes a wise crack about not being responsible for Brandon Prust's newly-shaven head.
Game time. Carey Price is in nets. David Desharnais scores a whopping two times in the first period, but in a recurring theme, his second gets waved off by the refs. Florida ties it. Alex Galchenyuk hurts his wrist during the play and has to leave the game. During the first intermission, Andrei Markov is pissed off about something and breaks his stick in the dressing room, reminiscent of Maurice Richard. JJ Daigneault tries to talk some sense into Alexei Emelin in the video room, as does Therrien to the team in the dressing room. Galchenyuk forgets his pain and gets ready to play in the second.
Second period, Travis Moen scores, aaaaand ... the goal is disallowed. At the bench, assistant coach Gerard Gallant disagrees but the play goes on. Gionta then scores and for once no ref decides that it's not a goal. 2-1 Habs. For the rest of the game, nothing gets past Carey Price, and the Canadiens win.
Afterwards, Therrien and Marc Bergevin meet in the video room to go over the game and critique it, not complacent with the win. Bergevin is wearing a loud purple tie with a blue pocket square and I love him anyway.
January 7. Carey Price and P.K. Subban arrive in Brossard and receive the news that they will be representing Team Canada at the Olympics, finally, finally FINALLY. Tomas Plekanec says to P.K., "You made it, piece of sh*t?" And P.K. laughs to the camera, "Good for Czechs, he says." Peter Budaj also gets the call about Team Slovakia and congratulates Price. Carey and P.K. are in the dining area and P.K. complains, "You know with that camera there, you make this conversation very, VERY uncomfortable. Cause really I wanna tell Pricey that I love him, but I don't want everybody to know it." He then approaches Price, who's eating his Wheaties and watching the announcement unfold on T.V., and hugs him from behind. In all, the Canadiens have eight players representing their countries at the Sochi Olympics.
That night in Philadelphia, we see Georges Bardagi, a real estate broker, who at the Canadiens' foundation's annual golf tournament, as part of buying eight tickets to watch the Habs play the Flyers, won dinner with Geoff Molson and Marc Bergevin. They are all at the restaurant with Bardagi and we learn that he paid $16,500 to the foundation. 16.5, man. If I had it, I would, too.
The following day, Marc Bergevin meets with the media for the mid-season state of the union. And he pretty much says bubkes, as we all know. (ˈbəp-kəs: the least amount: "we won't win bubkes this year") Isn't that a funny example sentence the dictionary provides, and I'm not even making it up. Wait - not funny; sad.
Before the game, coach Therrien delivers a pretty nice speech to the team about controlling the pace. Everyone seems to be on board. So we know what we're doing, right? Right. Awesome.
Game time, and the Flyers score six and half minutes in, and later Gionta and Plekanec do some chit-chatting and we hear that they, too, call Briere Danny. I thought we weren't supposed to call him that. Anyway, the Flyers score again and what Briere is called is the least of our worries.
The Habs dressing room at intermission is deafeningly silent. Until Therrien walks in.
"We got too many guys right now, afraid to play. Let's make sure you pick up your game and show intensity. Come on, let's go."
Second period. Philly scores again. It's now 3-0. Brandon Prust does what he does so well and engages Rinaldo in a fight in an attempt to get his team fired up. And guess what? Plekanec scores. After a skirmish, Subban is the only one who comes out with a penalty in the final second of the period.
Plekanec and Gorges "make a plan" for the opening penalty-kill in the third. It works, but there is no more scoring and the Habs lose 3-1. The team boards the plane after the game to head back home.
January 10, Daniel Briere is visiting the Armada in Blainville-Boisbriand. He's a part owner of the Junior team there and he's there to encourage them.
At the morning skate, goalie coach Stephane Waite speaks proudly of his two Olympic goalies, Price and Budaj, he's proud of them and they deserve this achievement. And that night, the team faces Waite's former team, the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks.
January 11 in Montreal. Marc Bergevin speaks to 24CH about being a bit on edge in the face of challenging the Hawks, his former club. In the video room, Waite preps the boys for beating Corey Crawford. And Therrien delivers a speech that makes me think whoever writes Obama's wrote this one for him. And with the backdrop of movie music and slo-mo footage of Carey dressing and stretching for the game, and Jonathan Toews skating during the warmup, the Habs taking the ice, and the Bell Centre rising to its feet, we hear Therrien:
"We all know we're meeting a good hockey team tonight. But what is interesting is the stats? It's in the past. For us, it's about tonight. We have to live the moment. Tonight is the night. Tonight, it's centre stage. They won a Stanley Cup. They're good. We know. For us, our mentality, as a group, ONE GAME. ONLY one game. This is what we have to think about. ONE GAME. Our group, against them. Nothing we can do about our last game in Philly. But what we control, is tonight. Tonight's the night. It's the night we're gonna have fun."
Game time. 5'9" Brendan Gallagher drops the gloves against Kris Versteeg, and nothing much happens but a little dance but it was good fodder for a tweet by Brandon Prust the following day. Gallagher gets sent to the dressing room which is good because he has to catch his breath. End of the first, 0-0.
The guys march in to the room and they all congratulate Gallagher, and Prust gives him some pugilistic pointers for next time. Max Pacioretty goes up to Gerard Gallant and asks if he and Desharnais can start in the second. Gallant says not a chance, "You gotta earn it."
In the second, Prust stays behind in the dressing room as his blades get sharpened, and Alex Galchenyuk, sidelined due to his broken wrist, laughs to an incredulous Prust that he just hashtagged Prusty to get the next goal, as the Twitterverse does to the Canadiens twitter account during games. Galchenyuk is terribly pleased with himself.
Back on the ice, we are treated to an "Emelin Boom" as he nails Patrick Kane. After a save and gloving the puck, the players continue to crowd Price in his net. At the bench, Budaj is pissed off that the refs aren't blowing the whistle after Carey has the puck. Price doesn't seem to care as much.
Andrei Markov scores on Crawford through a screen by George Parros. Crawford then makes an unbelievable save on Lars Eller, so unbelievable, that Eller starts to raise his hands to celebrate. The period ends with the Habs up 1-0.
In the third, Chicago scores a beautiful goal to tie the game and it goes to overtime. Markov scores the overtime winner after a flurry in the Chicago zone, and the crowd erupts and the players pile onto the ice to jump on Markov. "Proud of their best game of the season, the players celebrate."
The dressing room is jubilant, P.K. yells, "That's f**king HUGE." And Markov, as the First Star of the game, skates the ice solo to throw pucks into the crowd.
OK guys, make that memory last.
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