Thursday, 21 November 2013

24 CH, 2013-14 season, Episode 4: Notes

1:00  We see Stéphane Waite, the Canadiens goalie coach, receive his Stanley Cup ring from a Blackhawks Vice-President, who made the trip to Winnipeg for the presentation.  It's noteworthy that he won two Stanley Cups in Chicago with different goalies, in light of the excellent work so far this season from the Canadiens' duo of Carey Price and Peter Budaj.

2:05  Now we see Mr. Waite working with his charges, specifically trying to find out what the bounces off the boards will be like.  It's interesting how guys that have been in the league for years can still be surprised by what they find.  In Winnipeg, they find that hitting the boards on the lower part behind the net regularly leads to a fast rebound right in the crease.  We then see Mr. Waite sharing this intel with defencemen coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault and head coach Michel Therrien, and you can see the wheels turning, how to not get caught by this, and how to turn it to their players' advantage.

3:00  I want to be an NHL player.  They serve you dinner and you get to play a trivia game while you eat?  Trivia on the Canadiens?  I would rule at both those things!

Brandon Prust cracks that if he wins he wants some powerplay time as his prize.  With Ryan White's jape last episode of not having had a shift in overtime for ten years, it reaffirms that these guys are intensely aware of their icetime and how they're used on special teams, and how being used or not used in certain situations can lead to resentment or misunderstandings.  Most guys are team guys and will accept their 'role' on the team to a certain degree, but it doesn't mean they have to like it.

Michel Bergeron on l'Antichambre talks about this phenomenon often, how you can't ask a heart and soul guy like Brandon Prust, who gives everything he has, to sacrifice himself game after game while giving him only fourth-line minutes.  Mr. Bergeron also thinks that Travis Moen's lackluster performance last season and in spurts this season is due to being confined to fourth-line duty.  Not many guys are going to be eager to get punched in the face for the benefit of their teammates while playing 4 minutes a period, the thinking goes, and while other players who don't make the same sacrifices get the easy PP goals and the glory and the bunnies.

4:50  Brandon Prust scores an easy goal on a bounce pass off the boards behind the net.  You can hear Coach Daigneault telling P.K. to pay attention to that, trying to plant a seed for his young defenceman, giving him another option when he has the puck at the blue line.

In the next scene, P.K. does as he damn well pleases, and blasts a puck through for another goal.  P.K. don't need no fancy bounce passes to put up points.

5:15  We see Max pulling his hamstring in slo-mo, with accompanying lugubrious music, appropriate enough to underline the beating my fantasy teams are about to take.

Later, after a nice win, we see the players coming back to the room, and Max, on crutches, joins the players who were scratched in the 'receving line'.  You can see the concern on everyone's face as they ask him what the deal is.

7:15  We see Josh Gorges at home, with his 'boarder' Brendan Gallagher.  Josh has a great-looking Bulldog, which is cool, but also a new bride, and he discusses how the co-habitation might have been awkward but so far everything is going well.  Josh mentions he was asked to take in Brendan, and I wonder who does the asking: Marc Bergevin, Michel Therrien, or someone else in the organization.  Also, I wonder what quid pro quo he gets.  Does his No Trade Clause become ironclad?  Does he get special treatment for being a 'team guy'?  Fascinating stuff.

Whenever I hear of these arrangements, I think of an older player with a mondo big house, and kids running around.  So the veteran and his wife don't mind the 'intrusion', they already don't have any privacy with the rugrats, and you can plunk the young player in a semi-suite downstairs.  Josh's setup doesn't look like that at all, more like a smaller townhouse, so not ideal.  You get the sense that Brendan gets that as well, and even though he's already a very polite and down-to-earth kid, you can tell he's not quite walking on eggshells, but maybe actively being on his best behaviour.

I wonder why they didn't ask him to move in with Chucky, they could play video games together and have Mama Galchenyuk feed them tonnes so they grow up big and strong.  But then I think of Alex's sister, and I get it, that could be trouble.

8:40  I want to be an NHL player, Part Deux: Can you see that massive fridge with every kind of Gatorade and Vitamin Water and fruit juices you'd ever want, along with a rack of protein and Clif Bars, just there for the taking?  I'm trying hard to remember, but none of my workplaces ever had that kind of perk I don't recall.

08:58  Pre-game meeting in the video room.  Freeze-framed, we find, again, that Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu (attaboy!) are sitting in the front row.  Eager beavers/teacher's pets Francis Bouillon and Josh Gorges are in the first and second row, respectively.  Travis is up front in the second row, but you get the sense it's to snag an aisle seat for the leg room he requires for his massive quads.  Class clowns René Bourque, Brandon Prust and Carey Price are at the back.  And again, David Desharnais and Daniel Brière are side by each.  P.K. is raptly attentive.  Andrei doesn't need to hear any of this.

11:30  We see the phantom elbowing call against P.K. in the Columbus game, from a great angle and in slow-mo, showing us just how out-to-lunch the refs were on that one.  Why we can't have a video judge to review these, and incidents like the clear highstick Brendan took in the chops earlier in the game and for which he had to get stitched up, I don't understand.

We also see Michel Therrien standing on the bench, aghast, yelling at the ref that there was no penalty on the play, but I disbelieve what I see, since we all know that Coach Therrien is against P.K., wants him to fail, and never sticks up for him.  So that sequence must have been conjured up at ILM's studios, somehow, and spliced in.

14:40  Geoff Molson announces to the players that French lessons will be made available to everyone on the team free of charge.  And it astounds me that this isn't already happening, that it isn't part of the team's normal functioning for years.  I thought this was covered, and once wrote a post saying these little details should be extended to the players' wives and significant others, to allow them to integrate into the community, to feel more involved.

I may have been misled by a previous "Nos Canadiens" episode focused on Steve Wisniewski, who we saw working with his French tutor.  At the time, I thought the tutor, while well-meaning, may have been a little dry, and Steve would quickly grow bored with these.  Instead, I thought how the team should integrate these lessons in team events, like for example a morning skate, where every part of the ice is labelled: 'Le poteau', 'La ligne bleue', 'La bande'.  By working these into their everyday life, and making it applicable to their world, maybe the players would have a better shot at retaining the lessons, and maybe enjoying them more.

Anyway, good initiative Mr. Molson, but, with respect, why did it take so long?

16:45  Michel Therrien trying to make a point to Jarred Tinordi through a little joke, saying there's thirty places you're not allowed to turn the puck over in your own end, and asks him what those places are, with the answer being any city where they have to play an NHL team.  Jarred is baffled, due to the poor grammar and pronunciation of the coach, so we see a language barrier at work there, but the coach saves it at the end and everyone has a good chuckle.  Jarred leaves the video room, still wondering what happened, but it's good to see the coach using a different communication strategy to get his message across.

And I did notice that all the players are essentially in the same seats in the video room that they were in last time.  So they're creatures of habits, they've claimed their seats for the season, and I guess I won't try to derive too much about the team dynamics from this detail anymore, unless something changes.

18:05  Michel Therrien trying yet another tack.  We see the coaches in their room between periods fuming about losing in every aspect of the game: faceoffs, puck control, etc.  Then, Coach Therrien enters the dressing room, but instead of yelling and swearing, takes a seat and calmly asks the players what's going on.  Again, evidence that he's not just a one-trick pony.

But it's not enough, as play resumes we see little reversals that announce the start of the slide.

Daniel Brière's concussion, with no penalty called on the play, for what was at least a deliberate decision by the Nashville player to not deviate from his course and collide with the opposing player.

We see the goal called a goal on the ice, but then overturned for lack of evidence that it crossed the line upon further video review, in clear violation of the principle, which states that plays stand as called unless there is clear video evidence to overturn them.  The ref explains to the Canadiens bench that he thought he saw the puck cross the line, but that the three other officials saw that it didn't go in.  And I call B.S.  It's not that they definitely saw it not go in, it's that they were pretty sure it didn't go in.  Another example of a review in Toronto going against the Canadiens.  And I'm still waiting for a statistical analysis of the percentage of calls that go against the Canadiens, it should be 50% with enough incidents, but I suspect it's much higher.

And we see Brandon Prust hit the boards head first, and bugger up his shouldder, and that may be the most costly loss of this game, which will hurt the team for a while (yes, we're purely being prescient here).

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