All it takes to silence the most hardened critics of the Canadiens, its players, its coaches, is a solid win against the ignoble Bruins, and what a relief tonight was, a Listerine barrel of a palate cleanser. After a deflating 7-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday night, which caused Elliotte Friedman to critique the team and its 3-1 record as "fool's gold", tonight's convincing 6-4 win against the smart-money favourite to win the East has righted the ship.
Great game from Alexei Emelin, who went above and beyond what's requested of him, namely that he be the steady-eddie next to P.K. Rather, Alexei delivered the highlight of the night right at the start of the game, with a solid shoulder check to the ugly mug of Milan Lucic, who stewed for the rest of the game, and went full gorilla-mode at the very end.
It's time for mental health care practitioners in Boston or Vancouver to intervene before Mr. Lucic harms someone or himself. Not to be politically incorrect, but if I was his girlfriend I'd find somewhere else to stay for a couple of days. His scowling churlishness, his childishness, his petulance, his tendency to lash out in inappropriate ways at inappropriate times, all point to someone with very poor impulse control and anger management issues.
Despite all his pious vows to the media before the game that he was focused on the upcoming game for the right reasons, that his stats and his team's results were more important than any revenge to be meted out, Milan Lucic behaved exactly as we could predict he would. He lumbered around ineffectually, took a boarding penalty at the end of the game against Alexei Emelin (pure coincidence we're sure) when he should have been trying to even up the score in a one-goal game, went maximum overdrive apespit gesturing to the New Forum fans while heading for incarceration in the box, then tried to approach the refs to harangue them after being let out of the cage after the Habs' powerplay goal, and got tossed from the game for a misconduct.
Milan Lucic is so far from being a competitor, or tough, that it's laughable when he is described as such. His whining, self-serving, duplicitous comments to the media about his team not accepting diving from its own players, about being a competitive guy which prevents him from acting like a gentleman in a handshake line, about his flexing and Shawn Thornton's water bottle squirt at P.K. Subban being part of their 'Boston Strong' ethos, about not having speared Alexei Emelin despite clear video evidence for all the world to see, about Alexei being a chicken for delivering a perfectly-timed hip check, all point to someone needing a reality check, an intervention.
The thing is, Mr. Lucic is so far into his own head, is so trapped in his persona of the tough guy who won't lose, that he can't act appropriately when facing defeat. He needs to put on a show to display to the world that he's not going down quietly. He has to act like Milan, instead of being himself. So when he's losing a game, he tries to geld Danny DeKeyser, he utters death threats to Dale Weise and Alexei Emelin, and now tonight he blows a gasket and seals the win for the opposition with a 90 second bezerker tantrum.
Someone who understands right from wrong, understands that actions have consequences, yet cannot stop from acting impulsively like Mr. Lucic is definitely in need of counselling. And this should probably happen before the next nightclub brawl or domestic violence incident.
And I have to request now that Brendan Gallagher sever any connection with that pathetic maniac. I don't care about the Vancouver Giant connection, about whether Brendan's dad acts as his personal trainer, it's not acceptable for him to associate with that piece of garbage. It's beyond awkward now. If Brendan wants to hang around with other Vancouver NHL'ers like Evander Kane or Ryan Johansen, that's fine, but not with the guy who's threatening and spearing and boarding your teammates and making obscene gestures at your fans. Enough is enough.
Oh, and how many more times does Zdeno Chara have to butcher a play in his own zone before we stop pretending he's an elite defenceman anymore? How long do we have to keep up with this charade? Because he scored a goal while standing in front of the net? That's why he's an elite defenceman? Because if so, stand by while I explain that Randall Cunningham is the best quarterback in NFL history because he could also punt very well.
With that off our chest, we feel better and can rattle off the positives. The first line finally converted its chances when buzzing around in the offensive zone, unlike the last couple of games. Max took a few shots on net, and was always a threat to break away. David was his usual indefatigable self, forechecking and pressuring when he didn't have the puck, creating chances when he did. Brendan potted two goals, finally being rewarded for his ceaseless sacrifice.
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored two goals, his first as a Canadien, and we can see that he has a chance to contribute to a much greater degree than Daniel Brière ever could. P.A. will be useful as a point producer on any line he'll land on, all he has to do is be defensively responsible on those nights when things don't click for him.
Lars Eller and René Bourque have had a rough start to the season. Tonight, I counted four fly-bys from René, opportunities when he was forechecking and could have finished a check on a Bruin defender. Now I hate the very concept of 'finishing your check', but that's the league we're in, and the Bruins will certainly do it to our defencemen, so you think René would use his 215 pounds and return the favour to Boston. He doesn't have to destroy anyone, board or elbow them, but just bump them after they unload the puck. Make them aware that you're around, and the next time you're pressuring them they might be a little more skittish. Some of his missed opportunities were so flagrant that I'm sure the coaches will have some video for him to watch tomorrow morning, and will try to get him onboard with that.
It wasn't all bad for that line, they got Jiri Sekac his first goal in the NHL, and René again had a few opportunities he came close to cashing. Lars got a goal waved off, but his effort in the opposition slot bodes well.
Carey Price again didn't have a stellar night, but kept it together to a greater degree than, oh, let's say Bruin basket case Tuuka Rask, who messed the bed before leaving in the third period, his tremulous tail between his legs. Carey stayed in it and managed to keep his team in the game and get the win. He'll come around, I'm not worried.
A great win, a few things we can fix in practice the next few days, but for now les boys bought themselves a lot of patience from the fans, at least one loss' worth.