Saturday, 25 October 2014

24 CH, 2014-15 season, Episode 2: Notes

This episode is focused on the four-game road trip to start the season.  Nice montage to begin, with an essay narrated perfectly by Claude Quenneville.  So happy he's doing this again this year.

01:20  Closeup on Dustin Tokarski to start, with a slow-mo of him walking to Jarred Tinordi's skookum F-150, along with Jarred, Nathan Beaulieu sporting a red Expos hat (attaboy!) and Jacob de la Rose, it's very "Entourage"-ish.  Driving into town with the sun low in the sky, these guys have got life by the balls.

Dustin is very polished, both in his appearance and his demeanor, as well as how he expresses himself.  You can see how that might impress a coach, when he's trying to make a decision as to who to start.  The brain trust may have been influenced by his unflappable persona when they chose him to replace Carey in the playoffs.

03:20  Mild hiccup in the show: they give in to the Toronto-Montréal rivalry hype.  Mr. Quenneville should know better.  Our rivals are the Bruins, and the putative Québec Nordiques, whenever the Panthers or Coyotes decide to move.  I even feel the Senators are truer rivals, after the 2013 playoffs.

03:30  Interviews with fans at a Toronto pub called Shuey's, which is Ground Zero for local Habs fans.  Cool moment: fans singing the national anthem prior to puck drop, with a fan in a Leafs jersey singing in English, and his buddy in a Canadiens jersey singing in French.

05:45  Another, different look at Max Pacioretty blowing by Peelon Phaneuf and scoring on Jonathan Bernier.  The show lucked out with its camera placement.

06:00  Whenever I see a pretty girl in a Leafs jersey, I feel sad, like when coming across a three-legged dog, an old rusted wheel-less bike locked up in a snowbank somewhere, or a soccer fan.

06:10  A scene showing Nathan Beaulieu's shot off the crossbar.  It's a game of inches.  Would his season be going differently if that had gone in, right off the bat?  More confidence, more relaxed, coaches depending on him a little more, trusting him a little more?

06:25  A Subbanesque corral of the puck and sharp banked turn from Alexei Emelin, all that's missing is the inside-hand skimming the ice.  He turns a dump-in by the Leafs into a breakout in a hurry, and hits Tomas Plekanec in full flight for a breakaway goal.

P.K. was laudatory towards his new partner in interviews yesterday, taking time to point out that his offensive game is under-rated.  (Maybe P.K. can teach Andrei a couple of tricks when answering questions from the media)  We can see what he means here.

Brandon Prust is miked up for this game and is constantly chattering.  This should be an option when I'm viewing games, instead of Bob Cole, I should be able to listen in on Prusty's running commentary.  "Nice Yemmy!  Yah, yah!...  Woooo hooooo!"

06:50  More Prusty.  He's seated on the bench looking on when the puck comes right in front of him to Mike Weaver at the blue line, who keeps it in the zone and fires it back in deep.  "Yeah..." says Brandon.  The linesman, who is with his back to the boards right in front of Brandon, looks closely at the play, and gives the signal that it's onside.  "Good caaall!" Brandon says immediately, followed half a beat later by Max, who offers a "Good call!" in support.

The linesman doesn't react, but you gotta think he's got a little warm glow from the obvious attempt to butter him up.  These guys hear it so often when they screw up, and even when they make the right call, that it's got to be a balm when they get positive feedback, even when it's so blatantly transparent as this instance is.  Nice display of emotional intelligence here by Brandon, pre-dispose the ref to make a favourable call, then reward him for doing so.

Who'd have thought that Prusty was a Skinnerian behaviouralist?

08:15  After the win, a quick team shot in the dressing room, with Asst. Coach Dan Lacroix as the photog.  Apparently it's a new team ritual.

09:00  Short segment on the scrubs and how their day goes.  We see them going through some extra on-ice work, and then their workout under Conditioning Coach Pierre Allard.  It's unclear whether the dryland stuff is after practice, or during the first period while their teammates are on the ice.  I don't see Dustin Tokarski in the group, so it could be the latter.

Pierre Allard says he's focusing on power moves.  We see an ab wheel being used, some band work for rotational movements activating the core muscles, some high cleans, some dumbbell deadlifts.  A kettlebell in front of a ground mat is seen but not shown being used.  Isolation is dead, long live compound movements.

09:45  Ticker gets the start in D.C.  I don't know that I'm comfortable seeing him in Mike McPhee's #35 jersey.  Feels wrong.

10:15  We've talked about how at $9M per season, P.K. isn't allowed to make mistakes anymore.  Not like this one anyway.  He skates behind his net, and to fend off an opponent coming to check him, hurriedly tries to get the puck by him, and it ends up in his net, the mother of all turnovers.  P.K. looked bad on this one, skittish.  Sure, protect yourself, don't expose yourself to injury, but maybe then instead of trying to skate the puck out aggressively and then bailing out, maybe you could have banged it off the glass and made Don Cherry and Randy Ladouceur proud.

10:40  Brandon Prust is tougher than three-dollar steak.  That O'Brien kid he's tangling with looks twice as big as he is, and Brandon has a couple of opportunities to stop the fight quickly, notably at the start when he slips to the ice and could have just left it at that, but instead he takes the time to get up and continue, and wins the fight.  Great job.

11:10  "Here we go boys!  Here we (effing) go!"  P.K. takes care of the recently departed Josh Gorges' role, providing the rah-rah between periods.  Later in the show, we see Manny Malhotra stand up and harangue his teammates about passing up scoring opportunities in favour of fancy passes.

It looks like early on, and based on this scant evidence, that Marc Bergevin's wager will work out for him, that if some veterans who provided the leadership were let go, younger vets would organically, naturally assume these responsibilities.

P.K. as a frisky rookie was sometimes abrasively vocal, to the point that it irked some vets.  Since then, he's earned his stripes with his play and production, so he's earned the right to woof, why not have him take charge of this dressing room chatter?

Immediately after, we see Manny shouting at Gally to "jump up", so doing more chatter from the bench.

12:45  Carey Price gives Ticker the game puck for his first win of the season, a well-deserved honour.  The two then pose for a photo (Dan Lacroix seems big on photos).  They look like they'll get along just fine, despite our worries about ruffled feathers if Peter Budaj was let go earlier in camp.

13:15  Claude Quenneville discourses on the hated Flyers.  That's more like it.

14:15  Highjinks: At practice, Brandon Prust discusses a method to prevent getting the forklift in the crotch from an opponent, then sneaks up on an unsuspecting P.K. and applies such a move on him, Milan Lucic style.  P.K. pitches forward to the ice.

Brendan Gallagher takes a calculated slapshot across the ice that banks on the boards and ricochets past another player standing there, startling him.  Brendan turns to the camera and beams.  The picture doesn't allow me to tell who the victim was, but I'd bet good money it was Chucky.

Later, P.K. is discussing his fight with Ottawa goon Mark Borowiecki.  Brandon takes him on the ice to go over some moves, and in short order has him Nilan-ed, with his jersey over his head.  P.K. ends up on his butt on the ice, shrouded by his own practice jersey, getting used as a Zamboni by Brandon.

15:10  Focus on new Assistant Coach Dan Lacroix.

16:50  Jarred Tinordi is in tonight.  He has a calm, big-brotherey vibe off-ice, despite his rookie status.  It's easy to see how you'd want him as a teammate, even looking beyond his size and strength.  Guy Carbonneau coached against him in international tournaments when he was younger, and raves about his on-ice leadership.

17:15  Dan Lacroix is miked up for the Philly game, keeps chatting and encouraging constantly.

18:00  Money shot:  Alex Galchenyuk in a staring contest with Claude Giroux.  Alex's expression says it all about his competitiveness, his confidence and maturity, a cocky sneer at the Flyer captain.  It's so important to mention that he's skating forward during this, not shirking away, or backpedaling, or breaking off eye-contact.

18:15  I referred to it earlier, but the Manny Malhotra speech about getting pucks on net instead of making the extra pass occurs now, between the second and third periods.

19:10  "Can we get to fourty shots here?  Can we get to fourty shots?"  Dan Lacroix on the bench to his players, focusing on the effort, on the process, rather than the result.  If you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you'll get there.  If you keep working and getting shots at the net, over the long haul it they'll go in.

Good of him to give his players a tangible, achievable goal.  Get to fourty shots, instead of 'tie up this game'.

20:10  Beaming René Bourque happy after the P.A. Parenteau shootout winner.  I'll say it again, René is not that much of a headache, he's not a malcontent, a griper.  Sure, often he's too much of a passenger, but he's happy to be there for the ride, not sour or backbiting.

20:15  Maybe this is the money shot.  In an ebullient dressing room, a manipulative Carey Price pipes up: "Subbie, give me a beat!"  P.K. shouts in his excitement, and races to the stereo to line up some tunes, as frisky and eager as a puppy asked to clean off a plate of table scraps, or as I was when my father would ask me as a teen to take the car out of the garage to warm it up.  "Sure thing, right away dad..."  Cue the Bugs Bunny bullet-whizzing-by sound.

20:30  P.A. Parenteau stated this week that this might be the happiest, tightest dressing room he's been a part of, and he's seen quite a few in his well-traveled career.  Sure, such a statement should be taken with a grain of salt, in line with the 'best shape of his career' pronouncements.  Talk to me after a five-game losing streak.

But seeing the boys celebrate another last-minute win in Philadelphia, always a tough road game, it'd be hard to argue with Pierre-Alexandre.  There sure weren't these same declarations made last season by the Canucks during the John Tortorella régime, and we're not hearing this coming out of Edmonton or Buffalo, or from the Sharks with their complicated relationship with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

We'll take it for now, for what it is, a good young team feeling itself growing and maturing and believing in itself more every day.

21:00  I guess the game puck and photo ceremony is another new thing this year.  Ticker awards the puck to Andrei Markov, who actually does look very happy for Dan Lacroix snapshot.

It beats the awkward traditional native cedar hat thing that the Canucks tried a couple seasons ago, and quickly abandoned, or the hard hat passed around by the Flames during the Darryl Sutter era.

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