Saturday, 5 October 2013

Game 2: Canadiens 4, Flyers 1

So who was worried about the Kid Line again?  That we had to put Brandon Prust on there, since the three youths didn't really have chemistry last year, until maybe the end of the season?  The Kids Are Alright.  Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher get a goal and an assist each, Alex Galchenyuk tallies two assists, they're starting off the season with a bang, as the Canadiens beat the Flyers 4-1.

Almost lost in the shuffle will be the captain, who also notched a goal and an assist.  His linemates Tomas Plekanec and René Bourque seem to be clicking, and it's great to see the latter skating hard, taking good shots at the net, using his body, protecting the puck, creating space.

The Daniel Brière-David Desharnais combo is still not purring, it'll be interesting to see how they deal with the absence of Max Pacioretty.  Not that they were a well-oiled machine before his injury or anything, their training camp offered a few highlights but nothing revelatory.   Brandon Prust or Travis Moen, whoever plugs on their left side, as hard as they work and grind, it'll be a big comedown from Wolverine.

Speaking of Travis, he's having a good start to the season.  I don't want to reduce his role to strictly that of a fighter, but it's good to see that when our opponents are taking it too far, they'll have to deal with the big Saskatchewan boy, and maybe next time they'll think twice.  I suspect Luke Schenn is happy he got tripped by the net, knowing he might have taken a few more licks if he hadn't.  If opponents know that it's not just Brandon Prust they have to worry about, it might cool their temper a little bit.

I really like the way Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban work together, and I understand this isn't really a 'man bites dog' item, but it's reassuring to see them communicating like partners.  Sure, one is the patron and the other the protégé, they're not necessarily equals, I'm sure what Andrei says goes, but there's a change in their mannerisms from last season.  P.K. got his nose whacked with the rolled up newspaper with the whole contract dispute, both by the public and even his teammates, and he really came in last January with the best possible attitude to deal with it.  One of the ways that manifested itself was how Andrei would direct him, how he'd point and gesture and talk, and all P.K. would do was listen and nod in the affirmative.  We also saw it in the Canadiens documentary, when coaches Therrien and Daigneault brought P.K. in the video room to make an adjustment between periods, and coach him on the need for him to forego the big hit when he can instead make a play for the puck.  P.K. watched the video and agreed with everything that was said, appreciative of the wisdom imparted and cognizant that he'd made a boo-boo.  He was cooperative, rueful, perfect.

This season we can tell that his hard work on this aspect has earned him some credit.  We saw Andrei and P.K. in the last couple of games exchange quick tactics and tips before faceoffs, and P.K. is no longer acting as a mere dutiful student, but rather as a full-fledged teammate.  The words go both ways, both players quickly agree on what they'll do, they're on the same wavelength, if I was their coach I'd be tempted to cross my arms and let out a big contented sigh, thinking "Mission accomplished."  But more likely, I'd be too busy patting myself on the back, thinking back to how what was a charged situation,  which could have turned to poison, merely diffused and led to a singularly talented player joining the fold in full.  Ah, what the heck, it is mission accomplished.  Andrei and P.K. on the powerplay are a joy to behold.

Francis Bouillon takes a bit of abuse from fans who wish he was bigger, and we kind of wish he was a #7 instead of a #5 defenceman on our team, but tonight I saw him be way more effective than any of the lunkheads on the Flyer blue line.  Those leadfoots couldn't stay out of the box, all they were good for was crosschecking Canadiens in the back, when they finally caught up to the play.  Francis was effective in his zone, surehanded with the puck, and gave full value for the money he's earning on his farewell one-year contract.

Meanwhile, whenever Jarred Tinordi played a shift, I'd be startled awake, suddenly remembering that he was in the lineup, and dimly aware that he'd made an appearance in the previous period.  He played only ten minutes, which might have to do with the number of penalties awarded.  Nevertheless, it's probably not a bad sign for a defenceman of his ilk that he go unnoticed.

Carey Price did the job, in that he stopped 22 of 23 shots.  Well, it's actually ironic that he got credited for a save on that disallowed Philly goal, one which was technically a non-goal according to the rules, but in any street hockey game would have counted.  I'm not going to take anything away from him though, Ray Emery got the same benefit tonight, although his was not as comical as Carey's.  And I suspect that a few of the boys will, since this was a good win after all, have their fun with it.  There will be pantomimes and mockery, and not just in the dressing room after the game, but tomorrow and for a while at practice, at the buffet table, at the pub.  Carey will just have to be a good sport about it.  Where it counts though, he produced.  With this showing, he raised his save percentage from an .895 to a very decent .918.  Sure it's only two games, but this is the neighbourhood he needs to be at for our team to have success.

Good win against a usually formidable foe, we'll take their poor showing and move on to the next game.  There'll be a couple of patsies who surprise us this season, let's not look this gift horse in the mouth.  We'll gladly bank these two points.

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